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 Rear Admiral Albert P. Niblack, Commander, Patrol Squadron Based on Gibraltar

November 4th.1918.

My dear Nibs,

          Yours of October 18th1 received upon my return from Paris yesterday. Of course there is no objection whatever to Admiral Grant’s2 wife and daughter taking passage on the BIRMINGHAM or CHESTER or any one of our vessels. That is one of the things that you would not need to ask for permission at all.

          As for the decoration business, it is now a dead issue. I am glad that you are pleased to have escaped it. As you say it is probably T.N.T. However, I have a large gorgeous one but will try to keep it from going off.

          Admiral Wilson3 was promoted to Vice Admiral by direct action of the Secretary4 and it was not in accordance with recommendations of either the Commander-in-Chief or the Chief of Operations.5 He was to take command in the Atlantic Fleet but Admiral Benson has just decided that he had better remain in France. Just how much political influence there is behind this I do not know. At all events there is no question of his being reliable relieved.

          I shall be very glad to read your report on Morocco when it comes in. I am glad to know that the French are handling things efficiently down there.

          Before this reaches you the present situation may be radically changed. At this writing Austria and Turkey have gone out and all submarines in the Mediterranean are believed to be on the way home.6 All those to the west of the British Isles have gone into the North Sea and most of them are in their home ports. Of course they may come out again if Germany does not like the terms of the armistice. It is understood that these terms have been finally agreed upon and are being sent to Germany today. Admiral Benson is now in Paris as naval advisor to Colonel House7 and he appears to be running the Navy Department from this end also taking a hand in running the forces over here. He has just given orders that Bullard is to be placed temporarily in command in the Eastern Mediterranean so that we can be represented in the Allied Fleet that is taking over the Austrian Fleet from the Jugo-Slavs.8 Affairs down there seem to be pretty well mixed up.9 One man’s guess is as good as another as to what Germany will do when she receives the terms of the armistice. They will of course be such that if she accepts them it will be impossible to continue the war.

          You may find the movements of the BIRMINGHAM and CHESTER interfered with in the immediate future. Admiral Benson wanted to send them immediately to Malta and thence to Corfu, but this can only be done at the expense of decreasing our convoy force and this is not desirable while a stream of supplies may be passing through the Mediterranean and up the west coast of Europe on the way home. This will probably be possible long before this letter reaches you.

          I do not think our “regulars” should be resentful because the girls at home pay so much attention to the “rookies”. The “rookies” are of their own cloth and many of them have been acquaintances and beaux in civil life. It has nothing to do with these dear ladies’ estimate of the relative merits of the two classes of officers.

Very sincerely yours,            

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 76.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Heathcoat S. Grant, Commander, British Naval Forces based at Gibraltar.

Footnote 3: VAdm. Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Naval Forces Based in France.

Footnote 4: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

Footnote 5: Adms. Henry T. Mayo and William S. Benson, respectively.

Footnote 6: Austria and Turkey had recently agreed to armistice terms and effectively exited the war. Thus, German submarines operating in these waters had withdrawn.

Footnote 7: Edward M House, a close personal advisor to President Woodrow Wilson and the head of the diplomatic delegation sent to represent the United States at the negotiations for an armistice.

Footnote 8: RAdm. William H. H. Bullard, Commander, United States Naval Forces in the Eastern Mediterranean. For more on this matter, see: Benson to Bullard, 3 November 1918.

Footnote 9: For additional details on the situation in the Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean, see: Jackson to Sims, 6 November 1918.

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