Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Senior Officer Present, Destroyer Flotilla, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCES
OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS,
U.S.S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP.
BASE NO. SIX,
16 October 1917.
From: Captain J.R.P. Pringle, U.S.Navy.
To: Force Commander.
Subject: U.S.S. CASSIN – Torpedoed by submarine.
1. At 3:00 p/m/ yesterday, October 15, the following radio from the CASSIN to the Commander- in-Chief, Queenstown, was intercepted:
“Have been torpedoed steering gear completely disabled I am Trying to make Minehead”.
2. I went immediately to Admirality house in order to be in close touch with Admiral Bayly1 in case he should wish to issue any instructions.
3. Admiral Bayly informed me that he would keep you fully informed by telegraph of the progress of events and I therefore concluded and so informed him, that it would not be necessary for me to send you any communications at that time.
4. The Commander-in-chief2 informed me that it was his intention to have the CASSIN brought to Queenstown and that he had dispatched vessels to her assistance.
5. At 11:12 p.m. last night, October 15, I received a signal from the Commander-in-Chief giving the casualtiy list of the CASSIN as received by radio from the U.S.S. PORTER( THE PORTER had joined the CASSIN and was standing by her as the CASSIN’S radio at this time had gone out of commission.) This radio was also intercepted by the MELVILLE and though the names were somewhat garbled, we were able, by an examination of the enlistments of the CASSIN, which had been procured from the DIXIE, where they were kept, to be reasonably sure of the names given therein. I accordingly wired you as follows:
“Simsadus, 84. Casualties on CASSIN as follows:
Killed Osmond Kelley Ingram, gunners mate first; next of kin, Mother, Bettle Ingram, 504 Third Street, Pratt City, Alabama Stop3 Wounded Frank William Kruse, fireman first, next of kin, wife, Margaret Kruse, 724 Indiana Avenue, Toledo,Ohio. Louis William Seimer, fireman second, next of kin, Father, Henry Seimer, Dundas, Minnesota. Patrick Rutledge, Oiler, next of kin, wife, Nina Rutledge, 431 West Thirty- First Street New York City. Herman Henry Pankrats,gunners mate second, next of kin, brother,Robert Pankrats, 4418 Lee Avenue, St. Louis,Missouri. Willaim Edward Merrill, seaman, next of kin,Mother, Ellen Merril, 345 East 54th, Street,New York City. Total Casualties, one killed,five wounded. Condition of wounded men not known as yet. 02216 Pringle”.
6. At this time, 9:15 a.m., 16 October, so far as I can judge from the intercepted radio messages, the CASSIN is off Water ford [i.e., Waterford, Ireland], which would be about 60 miles from Queenstown. The PORTER, CUSHING, H.M.S. SNOWDROP, H.M.S. TAMERISK, a tug and a trawler appear to be in company with her. It appears that considerable trouble has been experienced in taking her in tow and as nearly as I can gather, she was twice taken in tow by the H.M.S. TAMERISK, but the hawser parted on each occasion. The weather was boisterous and unsettled last night and evidently rendered towing operations out of the question.
7. You will understand that the above information is gleaned principally from intercepted radio messages, but I believe it to be fairly accurate. Generally speaking, I should say the situation at present was that the CASSIN, with starboard engine and steering gear disabled, was in tow somewhere in the vicinity of Waterford and would eventually arrive at Queenstown as intended.4
8. As soon as I am in communication with the CASSIN, I will verify the casuality list as sent you and will then inform you further as to the seriousness of the condition of the wounded men.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Destroyer Ships Files: CASSIN, Folder 11. There is an identification number in the top left-hand corner: “C-16-1.” And in the right-hand corner in columnar fashion: 3/c/h.” There is also a notation in the right-hand corner: “(5 copies) and below that, in a box: “COMDR. US. NAVAL FORCES./18 Oct.1917/Recr. London.”
Footnote 1: VAdm. Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland, and commander at Queenstown.
Footnote 2: That is, Bayly.
Footnote 3: For more on the death of Ingram, see: Proceedings of a Board of Inquiry on Board the U.S.S. CASSIN, 19 October 1917.
Footnote 4: CASSIN arrived at Queenstown at 7:55 P.M. on 16 October. The report giving their arrival time included the notation: “Stern blown off.” Report of Movements of Enemy and Other Warships, 16-17 October 1917, ibid.
Footnote 5: As seen in the heading of this document, the typist misspelled Pringle’s name.