Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Anne Hitchcock Sims
U.S. NAVAL FORCES
OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS
Saturday, Nov. 30, 1918
My precious Nani:
. . . You may be sure indeed that I fully share your emotions and joy over the real ending of the war. I really find it difficult to realize and I doubt whether you can really understand the great and devoute thankfulness of those over here who have borne some of the responsibility during the long months when our success was in very grave doubt. This anxiety in contrast with the completeness of the allied victory has produced an effect that is difficult to realize. It has made any possible future sacrifices seem trifling. Instead of the future being dark, we can see nothing but assured success and joy ahead of us – at the end of whatever further separation may be necessary.
Perhaps they will reward my services by a special act making my rank of Admiral permanent.1 I earnestly hope so for your sake and the dear children’s. Certainly the longer I remain here the better chance I will have – as was shown in the case of Admiral Dewey.2 That does not mean that I may not be able to run home for a visit, tho the time is not yet in sight for that. It could certainly not be until after the President returns.3 As for your coming over here with the darling wee ones, that may be possible later, but please do not make up your mind that it can be brought about. It will depend so much upon how many things turn out. Pressure is now being brought to bear to get some of the wives of our naval officers over here, and of course I am resisting it, and will carry the resistance to the extent of sending the officers home. Perhaps when the bulk of our naval forces have been sent home, it may become apparent that I should be allowed to have my family over here. That, in turn, would depend upon how long before the condition arose, and how long that would be before I would be going home for good. . . .
I will also have a new photo taken showing the four stars and the Admiral’s stripes. I assume you would like to have one even tho I do not retain the grade after I go home- tho the vice admiral photo is the one to be associated with the command over here.
There are no less than a dozen Flag Officers in the command at present.
Dunn - - - Azores Bristol - - - Plymouth
Niblack- - - Gibraltar Andrews - - - Cardiff
Bullard - - - - Corfu Rodman - - - - Grand Fleet
McCully - - - White Sea Rodgers - - - - Bantry Bay
Robison - - - Bordeau Strauss - - - - Mine Force
Wilson - - Brest Long - - - - - Paris4. . . .
I know nothing about Mayo being relieved before next summer – or of my commanding the fleet.5 I do not want the command. . . .
Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 10.
Footnote 1: On Sims’ receiving the temporary rank of admiral, see Sims to Sims, 28 October 1918.
Footnote 2: Adm. George Dewey had been made admiral as a result of his victory at the battle of Manila Bay on 31 April 1898. He was awarded the rank on 2 March 1899. On 24 March 1903 he was given the special rank of Admiral of the Navy retroactive to 2 March 1899. See Ronald H. Spector, Admiral of the New Empire: The Life and Career of George Dewey (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974).
Footnote 3: President Woodrow Wilson travelled to Europe in December, 1918; he returned to the United States in February 1919 but then returned in March, 1919; he returned from this second trip abroad in June 1919. Robert H. Ferrell, Woodrow Wilson & World War I 1917-1921 (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), 139-61. When it became clear that he would not be asked to go to Paris as a naval expert, Sims decided to go home and sailed from England in March 1919. Morison, Sims, 431.
Footnote 4: In order these are: RAdm. Herbert O. Dunn; RAdm. Mark L. Bristol; RAdm. Albert P. Niblack; RAdm. Philip Andrews; RAdm. William H. H. Bullard; Radm. Hugh Rodman; RAdm. Newton A. McCully; RAdm. William S. Rodgers; RAdm. Samuel S. Robison; RAdm. Joseph Strauss; VAdm. Henry B. Wilson; RAdm. Andrew T. Long.
Footnote 5: Adm. Henry T. Mayo commanded the Atlantic Fleet. He gave up command of the fleet in June 1919. He was succeeded as commander by Wilson, not Sims.