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

Form A.

Action Copy.

File No.      

CABLEGRAM RECEIVED November 16th, 1918.

Origin USND, London.                             Ser. No. 153

To:  Amnavpar, Paris.

For Benson. No news concerning mines et cetera. The German Admiral – Admiral MEURER1 – reached the rendezvous at the FIRTH of Forth where he was met by the British sixth light squadron and taken from there in the Oak to the Queen Elizabeth. He was unaccompanied by the soldiers and sailors committee. Another meeting was to be held this morning at 9:00 <a. m.> and the Admiralty expects hourly to receive information about the results of the arrangements for taking over the German shipping. The German Admiral has sent signals through the British Commander in chief of the High Sea Fleet giving details of the proposed arrangements.

     In reference to the report in the paper that German submarine crews had refused to bring their vessels to Allied ports the Admiralty has information to the effect that the crews are perfectly willful to get their boats out, also that the general attitude of the Germans who are negotiating for the surrender of their ships is the best service they can render their country at the present time is to carry out the terms of the Armistice as faithfully and as rapidly as possible.

     The French Naval Attache states that Chief of Staff French Navy2 is very insistent stat a certain number of the ships shall be sent to French ports for exhibition purposes. He suggest[s] one at Brest and one at Cherbourg. It intensified the opinion of the British that all German ships eventually turned over to the Allies by the Peace <Conference> no others should be taken out and sunk after removing certain equipment. It is pointed out that ships surrendered in this manner are not on the same plain<ne> as ships <actually> captured in battle in the old sailing days. 150616.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: RAdm. Hugo Muerer, who served as representative for Adm. Franz von Hipper, Commander, German High Seas Fleet. After an acrimonious discussion among the Allies, it was agreed that, rather than demand Germany surrender its fleets, the bulk of Germany’s ships would be interned in a neutral port and their final destiny determined later. When no neutral powers accepted the ships, the Allies opted to intern them in the North Sea at Scapa Flow, off the northernmost islands of Scotland. The fleet entered its internment on 15 November, and remained there until 21 June 1919, when the Germans sank their ships to prevent the enemy from taking possession of them. Halpern, Naval History of World War I: 447-449; Massie, Castles of Steel: 782-788.

Footnote 2: Adm. Ferdinand Jean Jacques de Bon, Chief of the French Naval Staff.

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