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 Samuel Colcord, War Correspondent, The Outlook

October 4th.1918

My dear Mr.Colcord,

     I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of September 12th enclosing your pamphlet “A SUPREME EFFORT TO WIN THE WAR IN 1919”.1 I have read this with interest and of course agree with you that the question of force in time is the essential requirement. The mistake that has been often made during this war is in assuming that it could not last beyond a certain time and taking measures accordingly.

     With regard to your remarks concerning the probability of the Germans making a sortie against allied troops and commerce with their battle cruisers, it is difficult for me to understand how you could possibly imagine that such a subject could escape the continuous and very serious consideration of the men who bear the responsibility of directing the operations of the Allied naval forces.2 You may be assured at once that this has not been neglected.

     It of course goes entirely without saying that it would be best “to so bottle them up as to make escape impossible.” If that were considered materially possible under the naval and military conditions that have pertained you may be quite sure it would have been done.

     It is of course unfortunate that we have no battle cruisers in the American Navy. Neither have we anything like the necessary number of destroyers. This is due to the fact that the types and numbers of vessels provided for our fleet are determined chiefly by congressional committees of civilians.

     It is of course understood by most naval officers that the control of the trade routes of the sea lies with the powers having the greatest force of these powerful high speed vessels. For example, if Germany had twice as many battle cruisers as the Allies, she probably could readily have won the war even though the Allies had twice as many battleships as they now have.

     It is of course purely a matter of opinion as to whether the Germans will make a sortie with their battle cruisers. It is, however, hardly a matter of opinion that if she did so so [i.e., she] could thereby succeed in winning the war. It would take a great many pages to set forth the conditions which surround such problems. You may rest assured that not only this but all other features of the naval situation are subjects of the most earnest consideration of the Allied Naval Council and the directing heads of the various Navy Departments.

Very sincerely yours,            

Vice-Admiral. U.S.N.    

Source Note: LT, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 24. Addressed below close: Samuel Colcord Esq.,/305 West 113th Street,/New York. U.S.A.”

Footnote 2: This was a matter of extensive discussion among American and Allied naval leaders. See:  Plan for Protecting Against Raiders, 30 July 1918; Benson to Sims, 30 July 1918; Benson to Sims, 6 August 1918; and Sims to Benson, 30 August 1918.

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