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Demobilization Plan – Memorandum No. 2


November 14, 1918.


(a)    Cessation of mining operations in Mediterranean,

              (Case 1, Part I, Item 1.)             

  This has been done. Orders have been issued to close up the Base at Bizerta and for personnel to return to London.1

  Department advised to suspend all preparations and shipment of Mediterranean mining material.

(b)    Cessation of shipments of Naval material for U.S.Naval

              Forces in Italy and Corfu.

              (Case 1, Part I, Item 2.)                  

  As regards Italy: Work has been suspended on the Pescara Air Station.

  Porto Corsini is operation with American personnel and Italian material. A general request has been sent to Washington to suspend shipments of all aviation material and stores; material now on steamers and not unloading is being returned to the United States.

  As regards Corfu: Request is to be sent to Washington to discontinue shipments to Corfu of construction material. Shipments of provisions, and other maintenance supplies will be continued until such time as it becomes evident that the services of the submarine chasers and other vessels will no longer be needed in the Adriatic.

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     ITEM 2:   Stop all Naval Aviation shipments from the United


  Request for this has already been sent to Washington, except as regards personnel. Request to stop sending personnel will be sent immediately. Also, Naval Aviation Personnel now on route or hereafter arriving will be returned to the United States immediately, except when special reasons exist for different action in particular cases.

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     ITEM 3:   Stop all mine shipments from the United States.

  Cable to-day to Department recommending immediate discontinuance of preparation of mine material and its shipment to Europe. Make specific recommendation that ships now loading and which were expected on the 14th be held up.


     ITEM 1:   Demobilization of Air Stations in Italy.

  Preparations for the Adriatic Bombing Squadrons have been discontinued on this side but we have not requested the Department to discontinue the production of material.


     ITEM 1:   Demobilization of Northern Bombing Squadrons.

  This cannot be done as yet. This group now consists of twenty day bombers only actually in the field. They are at present at Antingue.


     ITEM 2:   Demobilization of Corfu Base.

  As soon as situation with respect to delivery of Austrian ships permits, send all submarine chasers to Gibraltar to join the eighteen already there, and go home via a southern route accompanied by the U.S.S. LEONIDAS.

  In case Admiral Bullard2 remains in the Adriatic give him two or more destroyers from Gibraltar, as may be necessary, in addition to the BIRMINGHAM.

  With the departure of the chasers and the LEONIDAS from Corfu, demobilize and abandon the Corfu Base entire, with the exception of the storehouse in the town which is to be retained with necessary personnel as long as required. This storehouse will be need, if at all, for storage of provisions, clothing, and general ship stores. The LEONIDAS will take all special sub-chaser stores when she leaves.

  In demobilizing the Base, the BIRMINGHAM and other vessels remaining in the Adriatic will take such personnel as they require; the LEONIDAS will take the remainder up to her capacity. Any that remain will be sent to Gibraltar, Brest or other bases, as circumstances may require or permit.

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     ITEM 2:   Demobilization of Gibraltar Base.

  Retention of repair facilities, etc., will involve keeping the shore repair shop, the U.S.S. SENECA and the U.S.S. BUFFALO, and any tugs which may arrive there before demobilization is complete.

  The 36 submarine chasers accompanied by the LEONIDAS, which will arrive from Corfu, will be sent home in company with the 18 now at Gibraltar proceeding via Madeira, Cape Verde Islands and West Indies, they will be accompanied by suitable escorting vessels from the Gibraltar Forces.

  Preference should be given to the Coast Guard Cutters in sending ships home, bearing in mind that these are very useful for escorting submarine chasers.

  The U.S.S. CHESTER now in an English port or about due to arrive, is to be retained in England for the present with a view to the possible necessity for her use in Northern Waters.

  Attention must be given to the probable necessity of maintaining communication between England and Gibraltar for carrying personnel and mails until demobilization is complete.

  Excess personnel to be sent home on returning vessels and on Army transports as far as practicable.

  If the DRUID or any other vessel is unseaworthy and unable to make the trip home, consideration to be given to disposing of them on the station or towing them home. The NAHMA will probably not be sent to the United States as her charter probably requires returning her to her original owners. Most of her original equipment is at Glasgow.

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     ITEM 3:   Retention of Northern Bombing Squadrons will not be necessary since armistice has been concluded with Germany as well as with Austria.

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     ITEM 3:   Demobilization of Azores Base.

  This will be one of the last bases to be demobilized, as it will be necessary to maintain it for the accommodation of Naval, Army, and other vessels making the passage across the Atlantic.

  The Aviation unit and the 7” Gun Company could be sent home at any time after the armistice guarantees have been delivered.

  The Ordnance Officer will find out from Admiral Benson3 and if necessary, from the Department, what disposition is to be made of the 7” guns which are manned by the marines and the 3” guns which were loaned to the Portuguese.

  Admiral Dunn4 should be requested to report at once whether the MARGARET and GALATEA could be sent home in case the Department desired them sent. If so, can they go under their own power or will it be necessary to tow them?

  Cable to be sent to Admiral Benson recommending that the two K-boats already at the Azores and the O-boats which are about due to arrive, be returned to the United States as soon as possible together with the ALERT and four L-boats of which three are already there and one is on the way. The SAVANNAH to be retained at the Azores for the present, or if it is thought necessary to send her home on account of her being a tender to the O-boats, the PANTHER to be sent to the Azores as a repair ship.

  It is not advisable to suspend any military shipments except such stores as would be required only by the Aviation Forces and the 7” gun battery, which are presumably to be sent home.

  No personnel to be sent home, with the exception of the Aviation and 7” Gun Batteries, until ready to demobilize the base completely.

  NOTE:   In this case and in the case of demobilization at

Gibraltar, the Base Commander is to be informed of the general scheme and given an outline of the provisional details. Final decision will be rendered after he makes his report.

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     ITEM 4:   Demobilization of Air Stations.

  It is to be recommended to Admiral Benson that in advance of the delivery of guarantees approximately 50% of the Aviation Personnel be sent home, this evacuation to begin as soon as possible. Each Air Station will be informed that it will have to retain sufficient force to affect complete demobilization, including disposition of all material on hand, packing it, and getting it ready for shipment if that is to be the disposition. Each station can select for retention such persons of the force up to 50%, as the Commanding Officer deems best.

  As to Material:   No steps can be taken for the present looking to the disposition of material, as we are awaiting a reply from the Department as to its general policy, whether material is to be sent home entire or whether a good part of it is to be disposed of on this side.

  Exceptions to be made in cases of Pauillac, Northern Bombing Group, and Eastleigh, which are to be considered separately.

  Some of the personnel released from Air Stations may be required elsewhere, principally at Cardiff.

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     ITEM 5:   Demobilization of Mine Bases.

  Admiral Strauss5 to be called on for a comprehensive plan of demobilizing mine bases and shipping material home, on the understanding that nothing is to be done until the armistice guarantees have been delivered and that sufficient base facilities are to be retained at one or other of the present bases (with possibly an addition base in Norway) to accommodate such mine sweepers as we may require for clearing up the Barrage.

  In connection with the demobilization of the mine bases, take up the question of release of the GUFFEY and WINIFRED. It is possible these vessels might be useful to us in the Adriatic as long as we retain oil burning destroyers there.

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     ITEM 6:   Disposition of Battleships.

  A suggestion has been made that the three battleships at Berehaven join the Grand Fleet for a week or more before going home. This matter is to be taken up with the Admiralty by Admiral Sims. If these battleships go to the Grand Fleet it would be desirable to have them accompanied by one or two divisions of destroyers for educational purposes.

  When these battleships and the ships of Division Nine go home they should carry all of their spare parts and accessories that they can carry, arrangements to be made for sending home spare guns, ammunition, and other excess stores as soon as possible by cargo vessels.

  Discontinue preparation and shipment of any material for Battleship Divisions Six and Nine, including gun shells, which were intended for early shipment.

  As soon as all necessity for the storehouse in Aberdeen ceases it is to be turned back to the British owners.

  In shipping home reserve stores preference should be given to the reserve powder, as it is important to get this into home magazines as early as practicable.

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     ITEM 7:   (a) Demobilization of Queenstown Base.

  Send back all personnel which is now en route, or arrives hereafter, destined for the Queenstown Base with such special exceptions as may be necessary. Cable to be sent to the Department regarding this matter so that if it would cause them any embarrassment, they can modify the plan.

  Call on Captain Pringle6 for recommendations covering the following points:

(a)    Sending home of personnel now at the Base.

(b)    Suspension of work on shore projects.

(c)    Dismantling and abandonment of establishments on shore.

(d)    Disposition of material.

  It may be assumed that the U.S.S. BUSHNELL and the submarines will be sent home very soon and that the submarine chasers will either be sent home or to other bases. It may also be assumed that with the exception of 12 destroyers (including the MANLEY and SHAW) all of those now based on Queenstown will be sent home as soon as practicable after the delivery of the armistice guarantees. These 12 destroyers to remain as long as may be necessary for dispatch duty and other work in connection with demobilization. They will return to the United States in May at the latest, at which time if the services of destroyers are still needed in these waters they will be replaced by destroyers to be sent over from the United States and it is intended that the MELVILLE remain to the last and the DIXIE shall remain as long as her services are needed as a destroyer tender, with the possibility that the DIXIE may be sent to Cardiff should her services be needed at that Base.

     ITEM 8:   Demobilization of Cardiff.

  It is too early to plan for the demobilization of this base as its primary purpose is to serve the needs of the Army in France which will continue to remain as at present for some months. On the other hand it will be necessary to add somewhat to the facilities of this Base. There are still ten coal carrying ships to be taken over by the Navy and it will probably be necessary to supply some tugs and other harbor craft.

  It will be necessary to equip a Hospital at this Base and possible a hospital ship will also be needed, either the COMFORT now at Brest or the MERCY now en route to Brest, may be used for this purpose.

     (b)  Demobilization of Southampton Base.

  So long as the cross channel steamers are needed for the transportation of troops the will be kept in operation with the necessary shore organization to control them. A Naval Port Officer is also needed at this Base with the necessary staff and office assistants.

  The storehouse at this Base will be retained until it is no longer needed for the storage of provisions and other stores and may be given up, at the latest, when the cross Channel steamers are sent home.

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     (c)  Liverpool.

  The Receiving Ship organization and facilities are to be maintained until it becomes apparent that they are no longer needed. This will be at a time when shipments of personnel to the United States otherwise than by Naval vessels has eased.

  The Medical Supply Depot will be kept in operation until the Hospital at Strathpeffer and Leith have been given up. After that the Cardiff Hospital will probably be the depot for such medical stores as may be kept on hand.

     ITEM 9:   Demobilization in France.

  Port Officers and staff at Cherbourg and Havre will be retained until the movements of shipping become such that their services can be dispensed with. No immediate steps can be taken looking to the discontinuance of those activities.

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  Will be retained as the French headquarters of our Forces until complete demobilization is affected.

  The present work and plans now in hand and approved for the development of repair facilities at Brest to be continued.

  All space and buildings now occupied for barracks and storehouse purposes, to be retained an all temporary additions which are now in hand or planned to be acquired and completed to the extent believed necessary by the Commander U.S. Naval Forces in France7 after consideration of the whole demobilization plan and after conferences with the Army Authorities as to the extent to which the port of Brest will be used by them.

  The two repair ships now at Brest to remain there, or in case it is found desirable to send the PROMETHEUS home for work with the Fleet, she is to be replaced by some other vessel, possible the DIXIE.

  Tugs and salvage units now at Brest to remain there as long as needed.

  As soon as the requirements for troop escort duty are relaxed, select to be sent home immediately as many destroyers as can be spared, considering the demand for dispatch and other duty, selecting in general the vessels that are in the poorest state of repair or are the least economical in the consumption of fuel.

  The same procedure to apply to yachts as to destroyers.

  Retain the District and Port Organizations at Brest so long as the Naval or Army necessities require.

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     Demobilization of L’Orient and Rochefort Districts.

     To be accomplished on the same principles as provided for in the case of Brest. All personnel in excess of requirements to be sent home as rapidly as possible. Vessels not needed for dispatch duty, escort duty, etc., to be sent home before bad weather sets in, retaining generally those vessels that will be most efficient for their work, and which can be safely some home later in the winter.

     All expansions of present establishments on shore to be discontinued elsewhere than at Brest.

     The mine sweepers based on L’Orient to be retained as long as their services are required in clearing the French harbors and channels of mines.

     All existing Port Office organizations to be maintained and such additions established as may be found desirable when the Army plans for the evacuation of troops and stores are fully developed.

     Any additional Port Offices that it may be necessary to establish in French Mediterranean ports are to be under the cognisance of the Commander of the Forces in France. Transfer Marseilles back to that command as soon as convoys and escorts are discontinued.

     The matter of the disposition of the oil storage tanks which have been erected in France or are now in process of erection is to be taken up by the Commander U.S. Naval Forces in France. In general, it would seem advisable to dispose to the French Government all completed tanks and those in course of erection. In any case the construction or erection of additional tanks to be suspended and shipment of the three eight thousand ton tanks for Brest to be stopped.

     The question of continuation of work on the High Power Radio Station to be referred to the Department.

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ITEM 11.

     Naval Railway Batteries.

     Recommend to Department to suspend manufacture of any material intended for shipment to Europe, this not to apply to the manufacture of any material intended for experiment at home.

     Recommend to Department to discontinue shipment of material to Europe for this battery, including shipments of light projectiles.

     Direct the Commander of the Batteries8 upon receiving information from competent Army authority that the Batteries are no longer required to begin the dissembling of the Batteries and to arrange for their return to the United States under to following conditions:-

(a)    Locomotives, non-technical cars and rolling stock in general, to be turned over to the Army for use in demobilization of the Army and for ultimate disposition by them.

(b)    Guns, mounts, and technical ordnance material to be returned to the United States.

(c)    Personnel to be sent to such French ports as the Commander U.S. Naval Forces in France may designate, to be sent home as rapidly as their services can be dispensed with.

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ITEM 12:


     Immediately request Department to discontinue sending Hospital Corps Personnel, particularly female nurses for Hospitals.

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ITEM 13.

     Naval Forces Northern Russia.

     No definite plans can be made as yet for the demobilization of this Force.

              G E N E R A L  N O T E S .

     In selecting Personnel to be sent home, other things being equal, men with the shortest time to serve should be sent. In selecting the Personnel to remain, men having a year or more to serve should be selected if practicable.

     Question to be referred to the Department of the possible desire of the Emergency Fleet Corporation acquiring some or all of our repair and terminal facilities in France and other European ports. This matter can be informally taken up with Mr. Hurley,9 who is expected to arrive in England about November 21st.

     In sending Officer Personnel home first consideration is to be given to Reserve Officers, and second, Retired Officers of the Regular Navy, both of these to be replaced by Active Line Officers if the interests of the Service will not suffer by the change. These provisions do not apply to Reserve Officers, Class 3, who will be retained as long as their services are needed an no effort will be made to replace them by other officers.

     Base and Detachment Commanders will be requested to furnish list of names of Active Officers of the Regular Navy now on sea duty who could be made available for duty on shore, replacing Reserve and Retired Officers and who would like to have such duty.

     Notwithstanding the Demobilization Plans, it is desired that the two salvage units which are being prepared at home be sent over to the French coast where their services will be required during the coming winter.

     No vessels are to be sent to European Yards for extensive repairs if they are capable of being sent home.

     Cancel authority for any alterations on Battleships in the nature of removing guns and closing up gun ports.

     Discontinue installation of defense guns on the Cardiff and cross Channel steamers and any other vessels for which it may have been authorized and not yet accomplished. Leave defense guns on regular naval vessels on which they have been installed. Remove guns and Armed Guards from United States and other merchant vessels now carrying them which are not regular naval vessels and which will probably not go to United States ports in the near future.

     Discontinue dazzle and camouflage painting of an vessels. Vessels repainted from now-on to be painted war color.

/s/ WM. S. SIMS,                 

Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy.     



November 15, 1918.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. This plan was prepared in response to, and a development upon, the first demobilization plan, which VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, had prepared at this time; it is to items in that document to which the various cases, parts, and items in this document refer. For a copy of the first memorandum, see: Demobilization Plan – Memorandum No. 1, 15 November 1918.

Footnote 2: RAdm. William H. H. Bullard, Commander, United States Naval Forces in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Footnote 3: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Herbert O. Dunn, Commander, Azores Detachment.

Footnote 5: RAdm. Joseph Strauss, Commander, Mine Force.

Footnote 6: Capt. Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotilla.

Footnote 7: RAdm. Henry B. Wilson.

Footnote 8: RAdm. Charles P. Plunkett.

Footnote 9: Edward N. Hurley, President, United States Shipping Board.

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