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United States Chargé d’Affiares ad interim at Moscow David R. Francis to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Strathpeffer, Scotland.

November 19, 1918. 

U.S.Naval Base Hospital

Number Two.   

Vice Admiral William S. Sims,

     Care of British Admiralty,

          L o n d o n.

My dear Admiral:

          This is the first sure opportunity I have had to acknowledge your courtesy in tendering me the use of the OLYMPIA from Archangel to some port in England.1 I left Archangel as soon as I could arrange to do so after the arrival of Rear Admiral McCully and Acting Counselor and Charge d’Affaires Poole.2 I was taken on board Nov. 6th but the OLYMPIA did not sail from Archangel until November 8th. The voyage from there to Murmansk was uneventful after passing the bar. We arrived at Murmansk Nov. 11th and after coaling left Nov. 13th. Our voyage was a most tempestuous one but Captain Bierer3 is an excellent navigator and pulled us through all right. Many of his crew were seasick as were all of fifty-four wounded American soldiers whom we took aboard at Murmansk. We arrived at Invergordon yesterday the 18th where I found Captain E. S. Bogert, Chief of this Base Hospital awaiting me in pursuance of messages from you, and I came here immediately, where I am located in very pleasant and absolutely satisfactory surroundings.

          At this writing my plans are undetermined – in fact so many changes are occurring daily that one cannot make plans for longer time than 48 hours ahead. I have remained in Russia over two and a half years and in fact have been the only Allied Ambassador who has not quit the country at any time.

          I merely write this letter to make acknowledgement of the courtesy tendered me by you, lest you failed to receive my cable or wireless to the same effect.

          If consistent with the present regulations of the Navy, I should consider it quite a compliment to be kept advised about the probable movement of the OLYMPIA.4 In my mind there is no occasion for the cruiser to return to Archangel or to Murmansk. I am still American Ambassador to Russia however and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in that afflicted country. A number of Missions, American included, have Embassies in Petrograd which are equipped and ready for occupancy; I am thinking of recommending to my Government and Colleagues that such Embassies be occupied by their respective owners without prejudice and without interference in the internal affairs of Russia. Of course I have no intention of recommending recognition of the Soviet Government; and if it continues the de facto government in Petrograd, my colleagues and myself would request sufficient troops of our respective governments to protect our Embassies.

          I am pleased to report that Captain Bierer paid strict attention to his duties under very trying circumstances. He is certainly an able and experienced navigator and I cheerfully testify not only thereto but to his uniform courtesy and attention to my wants. I have been confined to my bed since leaving Archangel.

          Rear Admiral McCully remained at Archangel in accordance with my request; he understands the Russian people and consequently is a valuable man for counsel – his judgment is good on all subjects and his loyalty is unquestioned.

          Again expressing appreciation for your courtesies and with kind regards, I am

Very sincerely yours,

David R. Francis

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 24.

Footnote 1: Because of his poor health, Francis traveled to Britain aboard OLYMPIA when she put in to Portsmouth for repair work.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Newton A. McCully, Commander, United States Naval Forces in Russia, and Charles S. Wilson, United States Secretary of Embassy and Acting Charge d’Affaires in Russia.

Footnote 3: Capt. Bion B. Bierer, Commander, OLYMPIA.

Footnote 4: On 26 December 1918, OLYMPIA departed for the Mediterranean, where the U.S. Navy maintained a presence to prevent the outbreak of war in the Balkans following the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.