Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

October 26th, 1918.

My dear Dunn,

     Your letter of October 14th has just reached me when I am closing up a mail preparatory to leaving for Paris to attend a meeting of the Inter-allied Naval Council in connection with armistice, peace, and that sort of a thing, so I will not have time to gossip very much.1

     As to your action in connection with the drunken captain of SEVERE, I approve it absolutely and if there is any row made about it you can refer the matter to me and I will back you to the limit. Of course your action was highhanded and unauthorized under all the rules of International law but there was nothing else to do at the time. We could not have afforded the delay. I have no doubt you will be able to settle any diplomatic difficulties the square hades may be disposed to make over this.2

     I was much interested in your account of the way President Wilson’s note was received and of your action in cheering up the population, making them a speech, and “getting on with the war.”

     I am grateful to you for your forbearance in not pestering us for ships which we were not able to send you. We have been up against it very hard in a number of our routes over here. We have had to send very valuable ships through the Mediterranean sometimes with only one destroyer and sometimes one or two with no destroyers. We have also been very anxious about the troopships coming in. We give them as strong an escort as we can but we know it is not strong enough to reasonable assure their safety. However, as you way you get considerable assistance from vessels passing through. When destroyers begin to come out, we may be able to do better.

     It certainly was a fine stunt you did on the FRANCIS L. SKINNER with her broken shaft.3 That is the sort of way to get along with the war. I am very glad indeed to have been able to get the tugs sent to you. Nearly a year ago they asked us how many tugs we considered essential and we have them thirty-six with all the reason why they should be sent. I cannot understand why they could not have gotten all the tugs away by this time.

     You may be sure we will leave the tugs with you if it is possible.

     As this letter will not be written until after I have left England for the Continent, my signature will be typewritten.

Very sincerely yours,        

WM.S.SIMS              

Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24.

Footnote 2: For more on this incident, see: Dunn to Norwegian Consul, Ponta Delgada, Azores, 30 September 1918. The complication was that the ship and captain were both Norwegian and Norway was a neutral in the war and, as such, Dunn did not have a legal right to intervene.

Footnote 3: On the repair of the FRANCIS L. SKINNER, see: Sims to Josephus Daniels, 2 October 1918.

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