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,
19 October, 1917.
My dear Admiral:-
I received with much pleasure your letter of 12 October1 and I have shown it to Admiral Bayly,2 to whom I show all communications of that kind and to whom I always communicate promptly matters of interest which are found in the letters that you are kind enough to write me. Many thanks for the magazine, which I will retain and for the articles which I will return.
A copy of your letter to Palmer3 which you were kind enough to send here for my information was duly laid before Admiral Bayly and he has informed me already that he had sent it back to you.
I took the liberty of having copies made of this letter leaving out the paragraphs which referred to Admiral Bayly and myself and sent them around to the Commanding Officers of the Force in order that they might have an accurate idea of your views on the subject of training.
You are of course aware by this time that I received
your letter enclosing one from Admiral Mayo to you. I also copied Admiral Mayo’s letter and distributed it among the Commanding Officers of the Force. I am glad to see that he has seen fit to write in the strain in which he did and note with pleasure the gratifying letter which you quote in your letter of 12 October just received, as coming to you from him.
I am greatly in hopes that the mystery ship will develop into a concrete proposition, as I believe that it would create quite considerable interest in this Force, which as you know, is at present imbued with a distinctly fine spirit.4
McBride’s draftsman will be sent back in ght course of a couple of days.5 His services have been very valuable and when he leaves, he will have placed us in a position to proceed promptly along well considered line toward the development of the barracks for training men in case we receive authority to go ahead with the installation.
I am now very busy in preparing for transmission to you the Reports of Fitness covering the service of the Commanding Officers of this Force. I regret that I have not been able to get them to you sooner, but my time has been socompletely taken up during the past two weeks, that I have only been able to work at them at night. I am endeavoring to present a very complete record of the service of all these officers because I consider it due to them that the service they are rendering should be so spread upon their records as to insure their being recognized and I hope, rewarded when these records are brought forth for comparison with the records of other officers of the service.
The matter of the Men’s Club is now occupying a very considerable amount of my attention and I have had conversations with several officers who always show a very considerable amount of interest in the welfare of the men. As you know, the only relaxation which these men can obtain is that which is afforded by the facilities of Queenstown, except, of course, at such times as they visit Liverpool or other ports for refit. I consider that the state of discipline existing within this force is excellent and I am by no means alone in that opinion, as I have never, from any source, heard any expression which did not commend the conduct of our men on shore. We must ofcourse recognize that, as time goes on, the restrictions now imposed6 will become more irksome and I therefore consider it of aparamount importance that we should develop to the utmost, the legitimate source of recreation and amusement which is furnished by the Men’s Club on shore.
I have been in receipt from Captain Brownrigg7 of a proposition looking towards sending here Music Hall talent, both male and female. His proposition appears to be one which would involve a troop or perhaps better, a collection of Artists being sent to Queenstown for a period of a week, during which time they would give various and sundry performances at the Club. Without going into all the details, I am poopsed [i.e., opposed] in the first place to the introduction of any women Artistes into the Club under any circumstances, and, further, it would be a waste of money to keep a collection of these people here for a week as we could not undertake to give performances of that nature every night.
We are able to pay for entertainment from the profits of the ship’s store and, after consultation with as many members of the governing board of the Club as I could get together, I propose to inform Captain Brownrigg that, while I am very grateful for his offer, I do not deem it feasible to meet his suggestion with regard to the weekly employment of a collection of Artists. I propose to develop the moving picture industry of the Club to a very considerable extent, and I propose to endeavor to increase the number of stunts which are put on by talent drawn from the ships.8 I also propose, if possible, to get Captain Brownrigg, or to get the Manager of the Palace Theatre in Cork to furnish me from time to time for one or two performances, with Artists of the male variety. I believe that Captain Brownrigg will be able to arrange with Mr. Jury, who is now furnishing us with films, to furnish us with a larger number of films if we undertake to rent some in addition to those that are furnished without cost. I propose to address Captain Brownrigg a long telegram on this subject to-day and should have occasion to see him, I beg that you will be good enough to say to him that you appreciate his interest in this matter and that his e3fforts are particularly conducive to the maintenance of contentment and there of discipline and efficiency in this Force.
In this connection, I am just informed that the ship’s band has arrived from the United States and you may be sure that this will be a very considerable item of amusement.
I think that we can proceed along the lines above indicated with great advantage to the Force and I trust that these activities will meet with your approval.
I received yesterday your letter regarding the formation of a Flotilla Staff and I will send you my recommendations in the course of the next day or two.9 The reason that I do not send them immediately is due to the fact that if you are to have a Staff, I desire that it should be composed of individuals who are personally efficient and whom I consider as temperamentally on account of the fact that we deal with members of services other than our own, some degree of tact and judgment. Such men can be found but it may be necessary to do a little rearranging down here in order that your Staff should consist of officers who are qualified in the above respects.
If Jackson has not left when this letter reaches you, I beg that you will give him my very warm regards, my congratulations upon his recovery and my regrets that it does not appear probable that he will come here to see us.10
I have threatened Daniels with dire punishment if there should be any more complaints with regard to the shortage of sugar in your vicinity and Daniels informs me that he has recently forwarded enough sugar to sweeten up the disposition of everybody in the place so I hope that we may expect the best.11
Very sincerely yours,
J. R. POINSETT PRINGLE.
Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: Vice-Admiral/Wm. S. Sims, U.S.N.,/LONDON.”
Footnote 1: See: Sims to Pringle, 12 October 1917.
Footnote 2: VAdm. Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland, and commander of the base at Queenstown.
Footnote 3: See: Sims to Leigh C. Palmer, 8 October 1917.
Footnote 5: For more on the draftsmen sent to Queenstown by Capt. Lewis B. McBride, Sims’ maintenance officer, see: Sims to Pringle, 12 October 1917.
Footnote 6: Because of a series of incidents, the enlisted men serving at Queenstown were not allowed liberty in Cork, Ireland, the only city within easy travelling distance.
Footnote 7: Possibly, Henry J.S. Brownrigg. However, Henry J.S. Brownrigg was not promoted to captain until December 1918.
Footnote 8: For a discussion of the entertainment at the Men’s Club in Queenstown, see, Still, Crisis at Sea, 250. According to Still, “an impressive amount of talent, both professional and amateur, was discovered in the flotilla” and movies, especially American movies, “were extremely popular.” Ibid.
Footnote 9: See: Sims to Pringle, 16 October 1917; and Pringle to Sims, 20 October 1917.
Footnote 10: Capt. Orton P. Jackson, chief of staff to VAdm. Henry T. Mayo. For more on his recovery, see: Sims to Josephus Daniels, 9 October 1917.
Footnote 11: On the sugar, see: Sims to Pringle, 19 October 1917. “Daniels” was Sims’ aide, Cmdr. Joseph F. Daniels.