Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Albert P. Niblack, Commander, Patrol Squadron Based on Gibraltar, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

U. S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS.

Patrol Squadron Based on Gibraltar.|

              U. S. S. BUFFALO,      Flagship

18 October, 1918

Reference No.......

Dear Sims:

          I am very glad that Marseilles has been put under my jurisdiction, because Admiral Grant1 really controls, through Malta, the routing of ships, and the Mediterranean problem is somewhat different from the Atlantic. It will make it much easier for Baldwin2 also, who I know and like personally very much.

          The influenza ran through this place last spring and summer but has taken a fresh start. It is going through the Coast Guard Cutter MANNING now, and the Italian Mail Steamer GUISSEPPE VERDI and neither of them are able to sail. Many other ships are crippled. We can not have any quarantine here, because of the thousands of laborers that come in and go out daily, from and into Spain. The town of Linea, only two miles from Gibraltar, is a pest hole any way, morally and sanitarily. So many ships arrive and depart daily that it is idle to think of quarantine. Besides, this grippe, like that of 1889, is bound to go around the world and nothing can stop it. The best way is to let it take its course, keep clean, and use sunshine. Fortunately there is plenty of sunshine down here but it is very scarce elsewhere; in Europe.

          I am sorry I got drawn into the decoration mixup, as I was well out of it and very thankful until I got the latest flare-back. My feeling was one of profound gratitude at being “overlooked”, as my views on the subject are “TNT”, and highly dangerous, both to myself and others. I heard privately from Washington, some idle gossip, to the effect that President Poincaré3 wanted to give Wilson4 the GC of the Legion of Honor, and that in refusing permission our Government said it would reward him, and give him the Vice-Admiral appointment as a substitute. That sounds all right but my explanation is, that Tug came from New Jersey. One thing certain, whoever is going to relieve Wilson at Brest, will probably only know it when he gets his orders. I will be quite contented to remain here, and it is in the interests of real efficiency. I am glad the S.S.FALL CITY is going from here to Corfu, as they are pretty short of thing there. (She is due Oct. 23 in the Azores) & due here about Nov. 1st.

          We are certainly doing great work here with the Y. M. C. A., as the British are awfully slow in getting started with their Y.M.C.A., so we have practically carried the whole Allied business here. The British do not seem to take the same interest in such matters as we do. The new Governor, General Smith-Dorrien,5 is, however, taking a hold vigorously.

          I cant tell you what a revelation my visit to Morocco was. The French have gone up in my estimation 100-percent, since meeting Lyautey,6 and seeing his wonderful work. I am sending in my report of German activities in that region, which is fairly short and which I hope you will read, because you did not see Mr. Blake,7 or rather he did not see you.

          We got letters here from the officers and men of the Nashville and BAINBRIDGE, refitting in the States. They are terribly sore because all the ladies, and girls, are busy coddling all the “rookies”, conscripts, and “Johnnies Come Latelys”, and don’t notice them because they are regulars. The fact that they have been in the “War Zone” a year does not excite the least interest. They are all crazy to get back in the game and say that the United States has gone crazy, and they don’t recognize the country any more. This order that we can’t use our Ford cars, or motor launches, on Sunday, in order to save gasoline to send to ourselves, is along that line. My foreign colleagues seem very appreciative on Sundays, judging by the amount they use.

Very sincerely

                          Sgd  ---  Nibs

Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24. Identifying notations “WHW-18” and “1/5/C/H/J” appear at the top of the page.

Footnote 1: Adm. Sir William Lowther Grant, Commander, North America and West Indies Station.

Footnote 2: Cmdr Frank P. Baldwin, Naval Port Officer, Marseilles.

Footnote 3: President of France Raymond Poincaré.

Footnote 4: VAdm. Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Vessels Based in France.

Footnote 5: Gen. Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien. For more on the YMCA’s work in Gibraltar, see: Niblack to Sims, 10 September 1918.

Footnote 6: Gen. Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey, Resident General of French Morocco.

Footnote 7: United States Consul General for Tangiers Maxwell Blake.

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