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

Reference No.                               8 October, 1918.

Dear Billy:

                        I received your letters of September 17th and 22nd upon my return here Sunday noon from a ten days trip in Morocco.1 The loss of the TAMPA is the worst thing that has come to us yet, as she had just gone North from a complete refit and been commended for having had an uneventful career with every kind of commendation for efficiency.2 I was holding Captain Scally,3 the Executive Officer, in reserve for a good command but he was particularly anxious to remain on the TAMPA where he was very happy. The attack by the raider submarine on H.M.S. PERTH gives a new complextion to the Ocean Escort business.4

          I am very glad to give up all idea of going on leave to England.5 The whole thing grew out of misunderstanding. Our Y.M.C.A. activities here are in a very thriving condition and we have very nearly Young Men Christianized this place and are still going strong. The destroyer STRIBLING has arrived and that relieves some of the pressure. We certainly will be glad to see Admiral Mayo and Staff down here.6 My trip to Morocco was a wonderfully interesting one and I take off my hat to General Lyauteyand the French Army.7 What he has done there is nothing short of a miracle and I was repaid every instance<t> by seeing some new phase of the present and future development of Morocco. It was really a trip De Luxe in “Fairy-Land,” but I accumulated lots of valuable information. I will prepare a report on German activities in Morocco and will conclude this brief letter with the statement that everything is going very satisfactorily, especially now that I have Asserson8 as Chief-of-Staff,regularly detailed by the Navy Department. I can now give more attention to some outside matters, looking more to the future as I have been too much absorbed in in administrative work. I have had my physical examination for promotion and hope eventually to have my permanent commission, which means a whole lot. I enclose my report of fitness which you will see is on the new form.9

Very sincerely yours,            

Nibs                   

|fn2: TAMPA was sunk near the Bristol Channel near Great Britain on 26 September 1918. The ship had been part of the escort for a convoy from Gibraltar to Liverpool, England. During the late afternoon of 26 September, TAMPA parted company with the convoy to steam to Milford Haven to refuel. At 8:15 p.m. it was sunk by U-91, which fired one torpedo that struck TAMPA amidships on the port side of the vessel. Two minutes later, there was a second detonation, most likely caused by TAMPA's depth charges reaching pressure fuse depth, as the cutter sank. All on board the cutter, 111 Coast Guard officers and men, 4 Navy sailors, and 14 British passengers perished. This was the single greatest combat loss for the U.S. Navy in World War I.

Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 76. Notation at top of first page: “WHW-18.”

Footnote 1: See: Sims to Niblack 17 and 22 September 1918.

Footnote 3: Archibald H. Scally. Niblack was incorrect about Scally’s rank: he was a first lieutenant.

Footnote 4: HMS Perth, an armed boarding steamer, was damaged in gun attack by U-139 on 1 October 1918 in the waters off Great Britain while escorting a convoy from Gibraltar to Milford Haven, England. See the logbook entry for H.M.S. Perth for 1 October, http://naval-history.net/OWShips-WW1-09-HMS_Perth.htm.

Footnote 5: See: Sims to Niblack, 17 and 22 September 1918 concerning Niblack’s plans to travel to England and Sims’ refusal to allow him to do so.

Footnote 6: Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet. Mayo did not visit Gibraltar.

Footnote 7: Gen. Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey, Resident General of French Morocco.

Footnote 8: Capt. William C. Asserson.

Footnote 9: The form is no longer with the letter. Niblack was confirmed as a Rear Admiral.

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