Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations

AMT.                                    File No 5552“B”

          CABLEGRAM SENT Nov. 8, 1918 Y 3

To        Amnavpar Paris                Serial No   81

Prep. by     N 5                NCT     D.R



81. URGENT. For Benson. Two submarines were reported near the Straits of Gibraltar. A destroyer HMS LYRA was missed by two torpedoes in position 36.08 North 4.08 West on November 8th 1300. LYRA attacked submarine dropped all her depth charges and claims to have caused the submarine to appear bottom upwards on the surface before sinking.1 Another destroyer attacked a submarine just east of the Straits of Gibraltar. Both these are believed to be submarines bound home. There is unconfirmed report that nine submarines were sunk outside Pola.2 There is no definite news concerning mutiny of the German Fleet beyond that reported in the press.3 There are apparently still some submarines outside of Heligoland that are not in possession of the mutineers. Signals were sent in requesting that food and certain supplies be sent. It is expected that the Allied vessels will be able to pass through the Dardanelles on Tuesday next.4 An Italian Admiral landed at Pola with the object of taking possession of ports, vessels, etc., but the Jugo-Slav authorities declined to give them up.5 It is stated that Austrians are now masquerading as Jugo-Slavs.6 The following wireless message was intercepted Friday by the wireless station at these Headquarters: QUOTE To the Authorities in possession of the Austro-Hungarian Fleet. Today November 7th at 3:00 p.m. at the expiration of the 96 hours provided for, I state that none of the naval clauses of the armistice had been carried out which were stipulated and acceded to by the delegates of the Allied Powers and the United States of America on the one side, and those of Austria Hungary on the other. Notice has not been furnished concerning the location and movements of Austro Hungarian ships; the locations of minefields and obstructions have not been made known. Merchant vessels of the Allied and Associated Powers have not been delivered up. The agreed portion of the War Fleet has not been delivered. The foregoing constitute a complete failure to comply with the pact solemnly stipulated by the Conventions of the armistice. Signed – The Supreme Commandant of the Italian Navy THAON di REVEL UNQUOTE.7

     Admiralty would like to be informed when any decisions are made with reference to arresting the dispatch of troops from America or resuming the dispatch of troops.   144009 81


7. See: Sims to Opnav, 8 November 1918 for a discussion of what may have prompted this message from the Italian Supreme Commander.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 679.

Footnote 1: No German submarines were sunk in November 1918. Kemp, U-Boats Destroyed, 59.

Footnote 2: The Germans scuttled or blew up seven submarines off Pola. Halpern, Naval War in the Mediterranean, 568.

Footnote 3: In late October, the German Navy high command developed a plan to attack the British Grand Fleet. To many of the German enlisted personnel this plan seemed a “death ride” designed to salve officer honor rather than affect the course of the war. On 29 October mutinies broke out on the capital ships of the High Seas fleet. On two battleships sailors refused to return from shore leave, on others, the enlisted gathered to cheer for peace and President Woodrow Wilson. General insubordination on the capital ships ran rampant, and the mutiny quickly spread throughout the fleet. The fleet commander, surprised, first cancelled the operation and then reinstated it but as the mutiny continued to spread, he decided to disperse the fleet’s capital ships to ports along the Baltic and North Sea. He hoped this would restore order and discipline, but it only spread the contagion. The mutiny then transformed into a political protest with mutineers and others demanding constitutional reforms, including the abdication of the Kaiser, ultimately toppling the German government on 9 November. WWI Encyclopedia, Vol. 2: 638-39.

Footnote 4: The commanding officer in the eastern Mediterranean led a combined fleet through the Dardanelles on Monday, 12 November. Halpern, Naval War in the Mediterranean, 568.

Footnote 5: See: Sims to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 8 November 1918.

Footnote 6: There is no evidence that this was happening.