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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Cablegram Sent      Nov20, 1917.

To   Opnav Washington         Serial No. 1888

Via  Q5 17 ADR      Prepared by JVB     Appvd by COS1

                                   File No

Copies to: COS, JSR.


1888.     Information received from Secret Service sources indicate that a large number of German personnel is being sent to Pola to assemble and man German submarines for duty in the Mediterranean.2 In view of the fact that a number of our vessels are being sunk in that area and that this area, due to winter weather and other circumstances, promises to be the one where most active operations by German submarines will in all probability take place, I shall unless otherwise directed order the yachts now enroute to Europe to proceed from the Azores to Gibraltar for duty in the Mediterranean. Should there be any objection to this action immediate answer is requested. <signed> Benson.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Box 17. Document is dated by a later editor to 21 November 1917. Document is an: “Information Copy.

Footnote 1: Capt. Nathan C. Twining served as Sims’ Chief of Staff. Cmdr. John V. Babcock acted as Sims’ aide and de facto Intelligence Officer.

Footnote 2: The report of German movements came from Italian intelligence sources. The American Naval Attaché in Rome reported:

Information points concentration submarines in Adriatic Sea but not yet in active operation. Daily radio plotting shows many new calls which may indicate either change of calls or more boats but believed from other information new Germans arriving. Concentration probably due belief that Italian Fleet would proceed to support army, this failing, then to bombard east coast with severe blockade west coast. Information again confirmed arrival ten thousand German sailors Trieste, Austria; Pola Fiume. Charles R. Train to Sims, 22 November 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 3: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.