Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Patrol Force based in France
November 3, 1917.
From: Force Commander.
To : Commander U.S. Patrol Squadrons Operating on French
Subject: Instructions to Destroyers escorting Convoys.
Reference:- Your letter 1056 – 80 of October 25, 1917.
Instructions have been issued for Queenstown destroyers to escort all mercantile convoys from Sydney and Hampton Roads to the entrance of Brest, where they may either enter Brest Roads and be reformed or be taken by the Patrol based on Brest and carried to destination at your discretion. I have left to the Queenstown destroyers their own interpretation of the entrance of Brest Roads, but I assume they will carry the storeships beyond danger of submarines, at which time all that will be needed from your force is pilotage. I shall expect you to have pilot vessels to meet these convoys, and to keep our destroyers from getting into dangerous waters.
New York convoys, which arrive every eight days, are escorted by British destroyers, and these destroyers are not relieved, but must carry the main convoy up the Channel. It will be necessary for the Forces based on Brest to meet all New York convoys at a rendezvous which will be made as close to Brest as practicable, considering the darkness.
Paragraph 2 of your letter states:- “It is probable that at times a suitable force may not be available to escort the convoy in with safety. Although one vessel may pilot them in it leaves the convoy without adequate protection.” Should any such condition arise you will inform me in advance so that other arrangements for escort can be made.
Referring to Paragraph 3 of your letter, you presume that escorting destroyers have information of mine fields near this port. So far as I am aware, U.S. destroyers have no information concerning mine fields on the French coast, nor have they any information as to how to approach Brest further than is given on the ordinary chart. If any special routes of approach are recommended for Brest or other harbors on the west coast, they should be forwarded to me without delay.
I shall expect you to keep our Forces approaching the French coast advised of any minefields discovered, or other information necessary for their safety not shown on the charts.
WM. S. SIMS.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identification numbers “C 2965” appear in the upper-left corner.