Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Cablegram Sent Oct 6, 1917.
To Opnav, Washington Serial No. 781
Via Prep by Roys1 Appvd by C. of S.2
Copies to: Lt. Com.Roys.
781. Class B.3 Torpedoed and Sunk. September 21st D4304 Lat. 46,36.5 Long. 11,34W. October 1st N638 Latitude 35,35 N. Long 8,15W. October 2nd N763 Latitude 35,27 N. Long 8,23W. M989 Latitude 35,40N. Long 7,38W. October 3rd H1169 Latitude 51,41N. Long 5,20W. T 274 Latitude 50,8N. Long 3,45W. M904 off Brest. C 1284 Latitude 54,11N. Long 0,10W. Submarines sighted 25th September Lat. 46,48N. Long 11,40W October 1st Latitude 43,32N. Long 8,31W. Latitude 43,36N. Long 8,24W. October 2nd Lat 51,51N. Longitude 6,44W. Latitude 51,49N. Long 7,31W October 3rd Latitude 54,12N. Long 0,9W. Latitude 50,39N. Long 0,16W. Latitude 49,48N. Long 5,57W. Latitude 50,32N. Long 2,12W. Latitude 46,50N. Longitude 11,34W. Latitude 47,20N. Long 7,20W. Latitude 45,28N. Longitude 7,8W.
Class B. except definite locations which are class A.
October second British Cruiser DRAKE torpedoed three miles north east of Rathlin Islands anchored in Church Bay well screened by destroyers later capsized stop Nineteen killed stop Senior Naval Orricer Gibraltar reports armed trawler James Deckar missing since disper<s>al of convoy September twenty-five about three hundred miles west southwest from Ushant stop7 British destroyer BRISK struck mine in Rathlin Sound fo’castle blown off stop thirty-one missing one officer nine men wounded BRISK arrived Loch Foyle stop8
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. There is a date stamp “21006.” below the signature with an arrow indicating it should be inserted immediately after the end of the text and before the signature. In his report to the Secretary of the Navy of 1 October, Sims explained that the report that follows had not heretofore been made previously because “daily cable reports received can never be entirely depended upon” and had frequently proven to be incorrect “when complete evidence is received by letter.” However, Sims promised to “comply” with the Department’s wishes and reports such as these were submitted regularly starting 6 October 1917.
Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. John H. Roys. See: Nathan C. Twining to Josephus Daniels, 1 October 1917. Roys had just arrived to serve as a liaison officer with British Naval Intelligence.
Footnote 2: Sims’ Chief of Staff Capt. Nathan C. Twining.
Footnote 3: As seen later in this cable, Class B meant that the exact location of the incident was not known.
Footnote 4: The British Admiralty had assigned a number to each merchantman at sea at any given time. These lists have not been found.
Footnote 5: The first number is the degrees, the second number is the minutes, i.e., 46° 36'.
Footnote 6: H.M.S. Drake was torpedoed on 2 October 1917 after the convoy, including the destroyer and armed sloop escorts, had dispersed. Drake was about five miles off Rathlin Island at the tip of Northern Ireland when hit. Capt. S. H. Radcliffe made it to Church Bay on Rathlin Island. When the cruiser began to heel rapidly, the crew was evacuated; Drake later capsized at anchor. Newbolt, Naval Operations, Vol V, 162.
Footnote 7: No more is known about the fate of the James Deckar.
Footnote 8: H.M.S. Brisk was assisting Drake when it hit the mine. It suffered 32 men killed, however, the damage was repaired and Brisk returned to service. War Time Memories, “HMS Brisk during the Great War,” accessed on 20 September 2017, http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/ships/view.php?pid=1449.