Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
October 23, 1917.
FROM : Force Commander
TO : Secretary of the Navy (Operations)
SUBJECT: Need for an increased staff for the Force Commander.
1. As the War progresses and the activities of our own forces increase by the addition of new units to the forces operating in European Waters, and as new activities are added, as for example the matter of aviation of French and English stations, the purely administrative work at the Headquarters of these forces has increased, is now increasing, and may be expected to increase.
2. In addition to the administrative work, which must be disposed of from day to day, if the forces are to be kept in continuous and efficient operation, there is most urgent need for planning and deliberative work, if the operation of our forces are to be intelligently conducted in full and efficient cooperation with those of the Allied Powers.
3. It is plain that the two classes of work cannot be performed by one and the same Staff of Officers, but should be entrusted to two separate Staffs, one of which should be purely a deliberative and planning staff, and the other, purely an administrative staff.
4. I now have, aside from the Naval Attahce,1 twelve officers who are either actually attached to my staff in London, or are Assistants to the Naval Attache and doing Staff duty in connection with the administration of our naval forces in Europe. The enclose Office Memorandum2 shows the distribution of duties among these officers. One of the officers, Lieutenant Gillmor3 is a Reserve Officer (formerly in the Navy) and there are in addition to the twelve a number of recently enrolled Reserve Officers who are performing the routine office duties indicated in the Memorandum.
5. All of these officers are working to the utmost limit in keeping the administrative work up to date, and the number is still insufficient for present needs, and will be still more inadequate as the activities increase.
6. The immediate needs for increased are as follows:-
(a) An officer to relieve the Chief of Staff4 of the major portion of his administrative work, and leave him free to fulfill his more important function of military advisor and Chief of the Planning Staff.
(b) An officer to take charge of all aviation matters that must be handled in this office, and to act as the liaison officer between myself and the British Admiralty in these matters.
(c) An additional assistant to the intelligence Officer.5 A vast amount of military information comes into the office, and much more could be secured, if my Staff were large enough to permit of its being properly examined and digested.
(d) An officer to who<m> personnel matters may be entrusted. Lieutenant Commander Ancrum6 has until the present time handled these matters, but owing to the absolute necessity of furnishing an assistant to Commander Long|7| he has been detailed for that duty, and personnel matters turned over to Lieutenant Gillmor, who owing to having been out of the Service for some years is somewhat out of touch with service matters, and in any case, should be in a position to devote his whole time to his secretarial duties which are not light.
7. For the Planning Staff, I believe that it will be necessary that not less than five officers be made available, in addition to the Chief of Staff, who should be the head of this organization. Such a Staff could, and would, work in close cooperation with a recently established Planning Staff of the British Admiralty. By this means close cooperation between the two services could be secured, and facilities furnished, for impressing our views on the British Admiralty to a much greater extent than has been possible in the past.
8. It is realized that the Department cannot always furnish such officers as I may select by name, but the very great importance of having a suitable Planning Staff cannot be denied, and it is of no less importance that the Staff should consist of officers qualified for duties of the kind they would be called upon to perform. I, therefore, suggest the following names as representing officers suitable to form such a Staff:-
Captain F. H. Schofield.
Captain Ridley McLean.
Captain Luke McNamee.
Captain F. H. Clark.
Captain Yates Stirling, Jr.
Captain H. E. Yarnell.
Commander W. S. Pye
Commander Lyman A. Cotton.
Lieut. Commander R. B. Coffey.8
9. There are probably numerous officers in the service who would be efficient as administrative heads at my Headquarters to relieve the Chief of Staff of the bulk of his duties of that nature. Commander W. R. Sexton is one that I would particularly suggest for this place.9
10. I trust that the Department will share my views as to the necessity and urgency for increasing my Staff in the manner, to the extent, and for the reasons, set forth above, and I request that the necessary additional officers be ordered to this duty as soon as practicable, since every day’s delay increases the burden now thrown upon me and my existing Staff, and makes more urgent the necessity for additional officers.
WM. S. SIMS.
With reference to paragraph 7, I wish to make it quite clear that the whole object in establishing a planning Staff is to insure that I may be in a position to give the best and most thoroughly considered advice to the Department as to Proposed operations of our naval forces abroad.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.
Footnote 1: Capt. William D. MacDougall.
Footnote 2: This enclosure is no longer with this document.
Footnote 3: Reginald E. Gillmor. As Sims notes above, Gillmor was a formerly a naval officer who was now a private businessman residing in London. Gillmor volunteered his time to help Sims’ staff (whereupon he was subsequently enrolled as a Naval Reserve Officer), providing two English women from his own staff to help with administrative duties; Sims, Victory at Sea, 241.
Footnote 4: Capt. Nathan C. Twining.
Footnote 5: Cmdr. John V. Babcock.
Footnote 6: William Ancrum.
Footnote 7: Byron A. Long.
Footnote 8: Frank H. Schofield, Frank H. Clark, Henry E. Yarnell, William S. Pye, and Rueben B. Coffey. Daniels was reluctant to agree to the creation of a Planning Staff. After his November trip to London during which time he had plentiful opportunity to confer with Sims and the British Admiralty, Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, became convinced that such a staff would be an excellent idea. After continual pressure from Benson and Capt. William V. Pratt, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, Daniels finally reluctantly agreed to the creation of a planning section, which officially met for the first time on 31 December 1917. Schofield and Cmdr. Dudley F. Knox were the first officers dispatched to London to form the new American Planning Section and were later joined by Yarnell (who later exchanged places with McNamme in the Planning Section of the Nay Department) and Maj. Robert H. Dunlap, USMC (later replaced by Col. Louis McC. Little, USMC). Still, Crisis at Sea, 44 and Sims, Victory at Sea, 253.
Footnote 9: Walton R. Sexton. Sims’ request here was approved, as Sexton was dispatched to London to serve as Sims’ Assistant Chief of Staff, working directly under Twining; Sims, Victory at Sea, 249-250.