Skip to main content

Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Admiralty House,   



My dear Admiral,

     With great regret I differ from the opinion. If you care to know why, read on: if you are bored with the subject the fire is handy. We should keep Heligoland, not so much because of its va[l]ue to the ally that holds it, but in order to prevent the Germans hold[ing] it. It would greatly reduce the area of mines that they could lay. It would take from them an advanced harbour for their destroyers and submarines.1

The island being exposed to bombing from Germany would not have guns on top, but would be fortified with 50 cl guns in pierced galleries like the galleries at Gibraltar. The island being composed of soft material, could easily be tunneled. 50 calibre guns would fire with their muzzles exposed and w[o]uld therefore damage the outer wallof the island very little.

Thanks for your letter. In view of my approaching retirement I wrote to the Admlty for my sea time. The reply is that I have 40 years and 23 days sea service.2 Not bad.

Yours very sincerely

          sgd Lewis Bayly.

The nieces3 sox crusade goes on successfully.

Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 24. Notation appearing in the top-left corner of the page: “Admiral Sims/Personal File.” Identification numbers “1/3/2” appear in the top-right corner.

Footnote 1: For Bayly and Sims’ differing opinions on what the Allies should do with Heligoland, see: Bayly to Sims, 27 October 1918; and Sims to Bayly, 3 November 1918.

Footnote 2: Bayly retired from the Royal Navy in 1919 and lived another twenty years. His memoirs of his time in the navy were published posthumously in 1939. Bayly, Pull Together: The Memoirs of Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly (London: G. G. Harrap & Co, 1939).

Footnote 3: Bayly’s niece, Miss Violet Voysey.

Related Content