Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Herbert O. Dunn, Commander, Azores Detachment, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

PERSONAL     U.S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

AZORES DETACHMENT

OFFICE OF DETACHMENT COMMANDER.

                        Naval Base Azores, 14 October 1918.

My dear Sims:

     I am taking the opportunity of direct mail to write and let youknow that everything is working smoothly here and we have no complaints.

     I am enclosing a letter which explains itself.1

     In this case I had to take the “weather earing” myself. The Captain of the Severe acted like a pro-German. There was no time to trade jack-knives so I eliminated him and apologized to the Norwegian Consul afterwards. I knew there would be undue delay if I referred the matter to the Consul, and I was not sure he would settle the case in the right way so I cut the knot myself without ceremonies.

     This matter may or may not come up later so I am putting you wise to the real dope. If a goat is necessary, I am quite willing to act the part. I was after results and I got them. A valuable cargo of much needed Army supplies reached its destination in consequence without delay.2

     The news of the German agreement to President [Woodrow] Wilson’s demands causedgreat enthusiasm here and noisy demonstrations on Oct. 12th. I visited the club in the evening and the street in front was packed with cheering people, mostly of the “third estate,” and the High Commissioner|3| harangued the crowd from the club balcony, embracing me at the psychological moment, amid the vivas of the proletariat. A band playing the national airs then xxx entered the club, followed by the mob, and in a few minutes the High Commissioner and myself were hoisted on the shoulders of the perspiring patriots, stoop up on a center table, cheered and speeched amid vivas from everybody and for everything. More embraces.

     Later the crowd headed by the band followed me to the Admiralty house and when I reached the door, St.Peters Square was full of shouting plebians. I made them a speech, more cheers and music, then by the simple expedient of getting the band to play a march and move away, the crowd of unwashed followed and disappeared in the city streets. The whole show was typically Latin and I have enough French blood from my maternal forebears to see the pathos, and enough English to enjoy the humor of it.

     I only hope that we will push the fighting to a finish. If we are to destroy Prussian Militarism we must destroy its agent, the German Army, or else insist on an absolute surrender.

     We are getting on very well with the routine work and while we lack certain facilities and vessels, I have not asked you to supply them because I feel that you need them elsewhere. Luckily, at trying moments, we have had temporary vessels here with we have used more with more or less success and so have been able to accomplish considerable.

     We had a report this morning that the San Miguel, the Portuguese mail boat, was being gunned by a submarine between this port and Madeira, but later report says she has escaped.

     I am rather proud of the job which we accomplished on the Francis L. Skinner, broken down at sea and towed in by the Montauk with a broken shaft. We put in a new tail shaft without the aid of a dry dock, installed two 3-inch guns, made all repairs and started her on her way.

     The Montauk has been of great service to me here and the two tugs which arrived today, the Lapwing and Tanager, will be of inestimable value at this base during the winter months. This is indeed a port of refuge during the rough winter months and many vessels will need the assistance of tugs in this area. I hope you will see your way clear to leave these three tugs under my command.

     Trusting this finds you in good health, I remain,

Yours very sincerely,   

H. O. Dunn         

P.S. I am sending out a tug and some chasers to act offensively against the U-boat and to rescue the crew of the Portuguese trawler “August Costello” probably lost in protecting the “San Miguel.”4 The latter has just arrived here.

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24. Notation at top of each page of this two-page letter: “Admiral Sim’s Personal File.” Document identifier in top right-hand corner: “1/5/J.”

Footnote 1: See: Dunn to Norwegian Consul, Ponta Delgada, Azores, 30 September 1918.

Footnote 2: In his reply of 26 October, Sims wrote that he would support Dunn should there be any controversy. See: Sims to Dunn, 26 October 1918.

Footnote 3: Gen. Simas Machado.

Footnote 4: No record has been found of a vessel of this name having been sunk.