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 Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

[Extract]

U.S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

U.S.S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP.

TELEPHONE VICTORIA 9110                30, GROSVENOR GARDENS

CABLE ADDRESS “SIMSADUS”               LONDON S.W.1

REFERENCE No.

October 17th, 1918

FROM:          Force Commander

TO:            Secretary of the Navy, (Operations)

SUBJECT:- General Report.

1.    ENEMY SUBMARINE OPERATIONS

September 22-28

                        It was difficult accurately to estimate the number of large submarines out during the week September 22 -28, but it was thought that altogether 24 to 26 boats of all types were operating to the west of Longitude 0°, including 5 or 6 ‘cruisers’ – one converted to ‘Deutschland’ off the Azores, one off the North American coast and one proceeding to it; one new type probably proceeding to the North American coast; one large minelayer returning home; and (probably) one large minelayer proceeding to North America.

               Activity was principally experienced to the north west of Ireland, in the Irish Sea, St.George’s and Bristol Channel, and in the western approaches to the English Channel. The north east coast of England also was less quiet than had been the case for over a fortnight.

              The following table gives the estimated distribution of German submarines in Atlantic and North Sea Waters:-

Area

Average estimated number of submarines in area per day.

North Sea, south of 53° 30’ N

1 - 2

North Sea, north of 53°30’ N

4 - 5

S.W. of Ireland

2

Atlantic, North of Finisterre

3 – 4

Atlantic, South of Finisterre

1 – 2

Atlantic,(Western)

1 - 2

N.W. of Ireland and Scotland

4 - 5

Irish Sea, North of 54° N. )

1 - 2

Irish Sea, South of 54° N. )

   

Irish Sea, Bristol Channel

1 - 2

English Channel, Approaches

1

English Channel, W. of Lyme Regis

1

English Channel, E. of Lyme Regis

1

Bay of Biscay

                       TOTAL

_______1_______

22  -  30

 

HHH        September 29 – October 5

          The situation still remains confused as to the number of boats operating, though there appear to be somewhat less than last week. There have been a great many boats in the North Sea, 8 at least being on passage between Flanders and the Bight or the Kattegat; probably <5> outward bound from the Kattegat, 2 operating off the East Coast of England and 4 homeward bound across the Barrage and the North Sea.

          It is thought that one submarine was damaged crossing Area B, outward bound, for immediately after crossing she turned and recrossed homeward across Area A, followed by another boat, which had evidently intended to cross Area B homeward.1

          Two boats at least have used Norwegian waters for passage.2

          There has been one boat operating in the North Channel having sunk the S.S. NYANZA. There have been 3 boats operating between Lands End and Ireland, having sunk a Portuguese sailing vessel and the Japanese S.S. HIRANU MARU. The Cornish Coast North, for a change, has had no sinkings. Just south of Lands End there have been one or 2 boats operating with success, having sunk 5 ships.

          There has been one boat operating down the French coast to St. Sebastian. There appear to have been 4 boats operating off the French Coast, well out to sea, one of them, a ‘K’ type cruiser, attacked <3> times a North bound convoy escorted by H.M.S. Armed Boarding Steamer PERTH, and sank 2 ships by gunfire. This submarine mounted two 5.9 guns and fired them very accurately in salvos by director-fire while making speeds of between 3 and 6 knots in a heavy swell. The PERTH was holed twice and had her decks well scattered with splinters. Two officers were killed and two men wounded. The submarine outranged her easily and fired very accurately.

          There has been one submarine operating down the Portuguese Coast with two small vessels to her credit. The converted mercantile cruiser which has been operating south of the Azores appears to be at present North of the Canaries. This boat has so far had an almost fruitless voyage.

          In the Mediterranean there have been 5 or 6 boats operating and one sunk North of Malta. These boats have sunk 6 steamers and 4 sailing vessels and torpedoed one steamer, which reached port. The American sub-chasers are said to have sunk 2 submarines off Durazzo, though the confirmation is not complete at present.3

          The converted mercantile on the American coast has sunk her first steamer, the SAN SARA, south of Long Island.4

          The tonnage sunk during the week, estimated at 46,000 tons, is again low, although showing considerable increase over the previous week.

          ATTACKS UPON ENEMY SUBMARINES

          Reports of 8 encounters with enemy submarines have been received as regards Eastern Atlantic and North Sea Waters as follows:-

                   2 by T.B.D’s [torpedo boat destroyers]

                   1 by Aircraft

                   5 by Auxiliary Patrol.

          The following report of action of U.S.Naval Forces with a submarine has been received:

September 16. At 0534, while U.S.S. WHIPPLE and RAMBLER were

escorting a Brest-Bordeaux Convoy in 47°43' N -03°41W, the British S.S. PHILOMEL,was torpedoed and sunk in the convoy. WHIPPLE and RAMBLER dropped depth charges in the supposed direction from which submarine fired, without apparent results. At no time was submarine or torpedo seen by any vessel of the convoy. The WHIPPLE rescued all survivors, for which services a letter of appreciation has been received from the owners of the PHILOMEL.

          The following table gives a list of Allied Anti-submarine vessels operating in European and Mediterranean Waters on October 1, 1918:

North Sea, Channel and Atlantic.

Great Britain.

France

United States

Totals

Light Cruisers

  15

  -

      -

   15

Destroyers

 200         

  24

      60

  284

Submarines

  68

  25

      11

  104

Auxiliary Patrol

Miscellaneous

Anti-Submarine

craft.

 

3100

 

 400

  

     100

 

 3600

Totals

3383

 449

     171

 4103

<4003>

 

Mediterranean

Great Britain.

France

Italy

Japan

United States

Totals

Cruisers

  12

  10

  17

  -

  2

   41

Destroyers

  45         

  75

  50

  14

  8

  192

Submarines

  12

  38

  50

  -

  -   

  100

Misc.Patrol

Vessels

 

 500

 

 475

 

 200

 

  -

 

 60    

 

 1235

Totals

 569

 598

 317

  14

 70   

 1568

GRAND TOTAL      3952      1047    317      14   241     5556

     2.   ENEMY MINE LAYING

September 22 – 28

          There was no mine laying activity by enemy submarines during the week. Special sweeping forces operating on the Palestine Coast destroyed 7 mines when clearing the channel into the bay of Acre.

          Four mines were destroyed in Eastern Atlantic and North Sea Waters.

          It has now been determined that the British merchant vessel S.S.MURIEL, referred to in the previous memorandum, sunk September 17 in the Peterhead minefield, was sunk by torpedo; no British merchant vessel has been sunk by mines since the first week in June.

          During the week under review a Dutch merchantman was damaged by mine in a prohibited area to the eastward of Lowestoft.

     3.   ATTACKS ON MERCHANT VESSELS

September 22 – 28

          During the week under review the losses of merchant tonnage (18,525) gross tons) are the lowest in any week since the commencement of unrestricted submarine warfare, with the exception of the week ending May 25, 1918, when 11 vessels, aggregating 17,941 tons, were sunk.

          The losses were almost entirely confined to British vessels, only one small Belgian steamship and no neutral vessels being included in the total of 7 ships sunk.

          The number of attacks on merchant vessels show a decrease of 26 from the previous week; the chief centres of the limited activity being the Mediterranean, where 4 attacks were made, and the North Sea where 3 were made.

          The following statement gives a classification by areas of attacks on merchant vessels for this and the preceding week with results:-

AREA

Attacks

Sinkings

Damaged

Escaped

 Week

ending

Sep.28

Week

ending

Sep 21.

Week

ending

Sep 28.

Week

ending

Sep 21.

Week

ending

Sep 28.

Week

ending

Sep 21.

Week

ending

Sep 28.

Week

ending

Sep. 21.

Arctic & White Sea

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

Atlantic, Northern

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

Atlantic, Southern

1

4

1

3

--

--

--

1

Bay of Biscay

--

2

--

2

--

--

--

--

Gibraltar-Azores

--

1

--

--

--

--

--

1

South of Mogador

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

North Sea

3

3

1

2

1

--

1

1

English Channel

1

7

1

4

--

--

--

3

Irish Sea and

Bristol Channel.

 

1

 

17

 

1

 

12

 

--

 

--

 

--

 

5

Mediterranean

4

2

3

2

--

--

1

--

American Coast

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

Totals

10

36

7

25

1

--

2

11

                     

          The comparison following shows the percentage of success of enemy attacks for this and the preceding two weeks. It will be noted that the percentage of sinkings remains fairly constant around 70% of attacks being successful.

 

Week ending

September 28

Week ending

September 21

Week ending

September 14.

Sinkings

    70.0

    69.4

    72.2

Damaged

    10.

      -

    22.2

Escaped

    20.

    30.6

     5.6

          There is attached Annex ‘A’5 List of vessels of over 500 tons gross sunk during the week. A comparison of sinkings for this with the previous week of merchant vessels of all sizes shows a decrease of 24 ( 7 to 31 ) and of tonnage a decrease of 41,611 gross tons (18,523 to 60,134).

Sailing in Convoy

Week ending

September 21.

Week ending

September 28.

Total to

September 28

Number of ships

    1250

    1252

   74,532

Losses

       2x

       1#

      410

Percentage of Losses

    1.58

     .78

     .550

x Includes one lost week ending September 21 in Algiers-Marseilles convoy, not reported in previous memorandum.

#One last week ending September 28 in Bizerta-Gibraltar convoy.

     4.   TONNAGE SITUATION

          The following table gives the comparison of the tonnage losses in the past six weeks:-

Week Ending

British Vessels

Allied & Neutral Vessels.

1918

1600 tons and over

Under 1600 tons

1600 tons and over

Under 1600 tons

     Totals

No.

Tonnage

No.

Tonnage

No.

Tonnage

No.

Tonnage

No.

Tonnage

August 31

  3

14,095

2

1,683

5

15,185

8

3,486

18 x

34,449

Sept.   7

  9

36,415

1

   975

5

16,922

2 x

    221 x

17 x

54,333 x

Sept.  14

  4

29,486

4

2,580

2

  7,849

4x

 2,043x

14x

41,938x

Sept.  21

11

37,853

8

5,877

5x

 14,277x

7x

 2,027x

31x

60,134x

Sept.  28

  6

17,864

--

  --

--

      --

1

    659

  7

13,523

October 5

Estimated

46,000

X Adjusted

 

          The relative position of six of the leading maritime countries of the World August 31,1918 and at the beginning of the war is shown in the following table of percentages of total World Overseas Steamship tonnage ( enemy countries excluded ) registered by each:-

   Country

 August 1914

August 31, 1918

Great Britain

    52.7

    46.5

United States

     9.3

    21.4

Norway

     7.4

     4.2

France

     6.6

     4.8

Italy

     4.4

     3.3

Japan

     2.9

     5.0

Total

    83.3

    85.2

     . . . 5.  MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

          The following table gives the estimate of the Inter-Allied Maritime Council of the total tonnage requirements of Italy, France and Great Britain.

 

Imports required

Tonnage required D.W.T.

Tonnage available D.W.T.

Deficity or surplus D.W.T.

Italy

16,500,000 tons

3,375,000

   811,000

-2,539,000

France

33,300,000  "

6,700,000

 1,030,000

-5,670,000

Great Britain

 

30,200,000  "

 

6,290,000

 

10,475,000

 

+4,185,000

Totals

80,000,000  "

16,340,000

12,316,000

-4,024,100

 

 

Total tonnage

D.W.T.

 

Tonnage required for Military purposes D.W.T.

Tonnage available for mercantile transport, D.W.T.

Italy

 1,150,000

   339,000

    811,000

France

 1,650,000

   626,000

  1,020,000

Great Britain

 

18,000,000

 

 7,525,000

 

 10,475,000

Totals

22,200,000

  8,484,000

 12,316,000

          From the interrogation of a Petty Officer, prisoner from the U.B.53 destroyed in the Otranto Barrage August 3, 1918, the following information has been obtained; that the knives of the submarine could certainly have cut the nets if the submarine maintained its speed, which was not possible on account of the explosion of two mines, which were connected to the nets. . . .

          During the past 8 months there has been a steady increase in the traffic to and from the United Kingdom, the total sailing having risen from an average of 8,020 per month for the first 3 months of 1918, to 10,956 in August, equivalent to an increase of nearly 37%.

          The relative proportions of British, Allied and Neutral tonnage employed remains remarkably constant throughout but there is a tendency for a large proportion of Neutral tonnage to be employed in Coastwise trade.

          During the week under review six enemy merchant ships arrived at and two sailed from Norwegian ports outside the Cattegat. No enemy ships have entered or left Rotterdam.

          It is reported that Flanders submarines do not carry out gunnery practice with their own guns but ratings are exercised on a 22 pdr. submarine gun mounted on Zeebrugge Mole on a platform to which a rolling motion is mechanically imparted. The gun is fired seaward at a target towed by a torpedo boat or tug. . . .

OPERATIONS

Escort of S.S. GLAMORGAN

          STOCKTON left Queenstown at 8 p.m., 16 September, to hunt for defective enemy submarine in Latitude 50° 30' N., Longitude 11° 20'W., and then towards Fastnet. Hunt was continued until 8 a.m. 17 September. After some delay picked up S.S. GLAMORGAN and escorted her towards Queenstown, when she was finally turned over to trawlers LENEDA and LUCIDA. . . .

Escort of Convoy O.L. 23

          STERRETT ( Senior Officer) TERRY, SAMPSON, and H.M.S. GARDENIA and Patrol Gunboats KILCACK, KILDONOUGH, KILFENDORA, KILDAVEN, and KILDORREY6 got under way from Liverpool 5:15 p.m. 2 October. Upon arriving off Bar at 6:00 p.m. STERETT heaved to in order to count ships of convoy and report. On account of darkness and heavy sea convoy was very slow in forming and discharging pilots, and there was considerable confusion in forming the convoy, causing considerable W/T signalling between different ships. At dispersal point 1:00 a.m. 5 October, left convoy with H.M.S. GARDENIA and returned to port.

Hunting operations

          The STOCKTON, in company with WILKES, left Base Six7 at 1000 26 September, to hunt with DAVIS between Mine Head, Tuskar and Trevose Head. STOCKTON hunted northern section of the above triangle – WILKES the center section, and DAVIS the southern section. AT 2229, 26 September, received W/T from C-in-C Queenstown,8 of a submarine fixed in Latitude 50° 52' N., Longitude 6° 23' W., at 2100. Proceeded to this visinity and hunted until 0330, 27 September, when STOCKTON proceeded to Berehaven in accordance with previous instructions to fire torpedoes. DAVIS and WILKES were instructed to hunt in circle of 45 miles radius about position referred to above. . . .

ENEMY ACTIVITIES

Search for survivors – U.S.S. TAMPA

          Regarding sinking of U.S.S. TAMPA ( reported in last week’s summary, paragraph 4 (a), at 2110, 27 September, the STOCKTON was ordered to proceed to sea and take command of WILKES, DAVIS, H.M.S. P.C. [i.e., Patrol Craft] 65 and 43. At 0300, 28 September, formed scouting line and ships swept and searched area by daylight as follows – ten miles west of Smalls to Latitude 50° 18' (N., Longitude 6° 54' W., thence east true to Cornish coast, thence Cornish coast to Harland Point, thence to Caldy Island, thence Welsh coast to ten miles west of Smalls. On September 27 P.C.-65 sighted in Latitude 50° 51 N., Longitude 5° 36' W. a quantity of wreckage amongst it a broken mast with life belt attached marked TAMPA; also two broken cases marked TAMPA. On September 28, from 1330 to 1730 the DAVIS was in the middle to the wreckage and saw one body in water with life jacket, dressed in underclothes but a U.S. Navy watch cap. The STOCKTON also saw a body in the water similarly dressed, which is believed to have been the same body seen by the DAVIS. Search was continued until 2345, September 28th.

Sinking of S.S. HIRANO MARU

          At 5:25 a.m. 4 October while making contact with O.L.-18 STERRETT heard muffled explosion and sighted sinking steamer one mile astern of STERRETT and two miles on starboard beam of convoy from which it had straggled. STERRETT headed for spot at full speed, but steamer sank within seven minutes and before arrival of STERRETT, leaving from 80 to 100 survivors in the water some with life belts and some on wreckage. Force of wind was 5 and sea from 5 to 6 was running. STERRETT steamed about spot pumping fuel oil overboard and lowered dinghy of British pattern which picked up 8 survivors. STERRETT manoeuvred to windward and drifted down on survivors, and while officers and men were assisting on board survivors who were too chilled to help themselves, STERRETT meanwhile often rolling lee main deck under, a torpedo was fired, apparently from outside torpedo range, for torpedo broached and stopped. STERRETT went full speed ahead and laid barrage of depth charges then returned to rescue work, but most of those in the water had by this time given up and drowned. STERRETT picked up 35 survivors, including 10 passengers and 25 crew, and of these 1 passenger and five crew died from exposure, after several hours attempted resuscitation. The HIRANO MARU carried a crew of 150 and 90 passengers. STERRETT searched until 8:45 a.m. when there being no more survivors she rejoined convoy.

GUNNNERY ACTIVITIES

          . . . An installation has been made on 750 ton destroyers which will permit of laying of a depth charge barrage 233 yards wide and 110 yards long firing a salvo of five charges every ten seconds. Upon completion of the barrage the destroyer will still have ten charges left to complete the attack.9

          The installation on 1000 ton destroyers is limited owing to the position of the after gun and because the quarter deck is, as a rule, much smaller than on the 750 ton class.

          It is considered that the installation of director fire control on destroyers will require a special fire control platform above the bridge large enough to accommodate the director-scope, the range keeper, range finder and searchlight. The platform on the CALDWELL has proven very satisfactory. . . .

Report of Flotilla Surgeon

          Except for a rather severe epidemic of influenza at the Naval Barracks, Passage, and among the crews of submarine chasers based on the Passage Barracks, health conditions at this base have been good. About 40 cases of influenza occurred at these barracks, five of these cases being complicated by broncho-pneumonia, one of which resulted in death. At present time epidemic has practically ceased. Broncho-pneumonia cases are improving. One case of lobar-pneumonia from U.S.S. PAULDING. MELVILLE, DIXIE and Bellybricken Barracks considerably overcrowded.

     7.   FORCES BASED ON FRANCE

          There is forwarded herewith copy of report of Operations from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in France for week 22 to 28 September.10

          Particular attention is invited to comments contained in the French report concerning the necessity for increased personnel and Navy Yard facilities in Brest.

          There can be no question generally speaking that, on the French Coast we are primarily dependent upon our own resources.

          With the approach of winter weather the difficulties of coaling in Brest will be further increased. All coaling facilities in Brest are inadequate and the anchorage for large ships being an open roadstead, considerable delays are to be anticipated during the winter. . . .

     14.  MINE FORCE

          . . . The general status as regards U.S. mine laying in the Northern Barrage is to date as follows:-

              Mines laid in area “B” . . . . 10,440

              Mines laid in area “A” . . . . 34,697

              Mines laid in area “C” . . . . _2,240

                             Total . . . . 47,377

          There is being assembled at Pauillac from aviation force, a construction force of 340 men and necessary materiel to be forwarded to Bizerta as soon as Captain Murfin reports ready to receive them.11

          Arrangements are being made to purchase considerable materiel in England which can be transported on one of the Mine Carriers.

          It is estimated that all necessary materiel can be delivered at Bizerta six weeks from the date of issue of final instructions.

     15.  PLANNING SECTION

          During the past week the following work has been in hand in the Planning Section –

              (a) Principles that should govern our financial

                   policy in relation with our Allies, so far                      as the Navy is concerned.

              (b)  Estimate of the Submarine Situation from the                    German point of view.12

              (c)  Co-ordination and transmission of                              Intelligence information.

          Work on the Naval Aspects of the Peace Conference has been begun.

     16.  DISPOSITION OF FORCES

          U.S.S. STRIBLING has arrived at Gibraltar, and U.S.S. LUCE is in the Azores and is expected to sail for Gibraltar as soon as ready for sea. Expect to use U.S.S. LUCE as escort for two Army tugs and barges bound for Gibraltar.

          U.S.S. STRINGHAM has arrived Brest with damaged low pressure turbine, requiring seven days’ repairs.

          U.S.S. MONTAUK with 24 French chasers is due to arrive in Leixoes on 8th. MONTAUK will then proceed Lisbon to repair propeller.

H.C. Convoys13

          The last three HC convoys have brought a total of less than 7,000 troops. Owing to the closing of the St.Lawrence in about a month, vessels of the HC type are again being routed to United States and will probably load at New York, Boston and Portland. In order to eliminate coastal travel of these valuable ships, it was suggested that arrangements be made to load all these ships either in New York or in the Chesapeake area. The reply indicates that New York cannot handle any more business. It is under consideration to distribute the loading with Boston as a centre and using Provincetown as an assembly port.

Collisions

          H.M.S. OTRANTO was in collision on 6 October with the KASHMIR. Both of these ships were in HX-50,14 and the collision occurred north of Ireland. Details are not complete, but apparently 300 of the 699 U.S. troops on board have been landed at Belfast. The OTRANTO is now ashore on Islay Island in a dangerous position, and it is likely that there will be considerable loss of life.15

          The GREAT NORTHERN collided with the British ship BRINKBURN in the western part of the Bay of Biscay. The GREAT NORTHERN will require about 7 or 8 days ( temporary repairs in France). The GREAT NORTHERN was hit on the starboard quarter by the British ship which is fitted with radio, and was directed to call for assistance if any were needed.

     17.  OPERATIONS – SUB-CHASERS

. . . DETACHEMNT TWO ( CORFU )

          The Sub-Chasers of this Detachment have been engaged inthe regular patrol on the Otranto Barrage; four units also took part in an attack which was conducted by the British and Italian forces against Durazzo on the 3rd October. In regard to this attack, we have received the following from the Italian Naval General Staff:-

“Highest appreciation is expressed for the useful and efficient work performed by Chasers in the protection of major vessels during action of attack against Durazzo. Also vivid admiration of their brilliant and clever operation which resulted in sinking two enemy submarines.”16 . . .

     18.  PERSONNEL

          Rear Admiral McCully has proceeded to Mourmansk, to assume command of U.S.Naval Forces in that vicinity. Admiral McCully with a draft of 38 men for Mourmansk proceeded on a French Cruiser.17

          Rear Admiral Bullard has proceeded to Malta to establish base No. 28.18

          Chaplain Duff U.S.Navy, U.S.S. NEVADA has been ordered to London for temporary duty to investigate the conditions surrounding our men on leave and passing through London.19

          Report has been received from Admiral Dunn20 that it was necessary for the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. NIAGARA21 to transfer nine enlisted men to the James S. Whitney which was under her escort from New York to the Azores Islands via Bermuda in order that the James S. Whitney could proceed under her own steam. Admiral Dunn further states that the James S. Whitney is a merchant vessel under charter to the Army and is manned by a civilian crew. On departure from the Azores it was again necessary to detail men from the Azores Detachment in order to man her properly. Several Army chartered vessels in the same status as the James S. Whitney have been at the Azores during the past six months and in almost every case there has been more or less trouble with officers and crew. The personnel of such ships generally belong to a Union of some sort and they insist on doing a certain prescribed amount of work and no more. They will do extra work which the exigencies of the war require, provided there is a guarantee of financial compensation – in other words their patriotism is confined to their pocket books. In one case which occurred here an oiler refused to assist in emergency work on deck when his ship was aground and in immediate danger. This man took the stand that he was a member of the engineer’s force and did not have to work on deck[.] such conduct is mutinous, and as a military necessity the man was tried by general court-martial – the proceedings of the court were disapproved by the Department because of the lack of jurisdiction. Situations which arise owing to the attitude of these men are extremely difficult to handle since they are not subject to military discipline. It is strongly recommended that in time of war the crew of all vessels, operating in military units be made subject to military laws and discipline and that necessary legislation be enacted to provide for this. Admiral Dunn has reported this matter direct to the Navy Department.

ADMINISTRATIVE WORK

          The following statistics concerning the administrative work in the files of the Force Commander’s office for the month of September is quoted –

          Total number of incoming cables . . . . 5691

          Total number of outgoing cables . . . . 3036

          Total number of re-transmitted cables . 2785

11512

          Total of incoming letters . . . . . . . 7893

          Total of outgoing letters . . . . . . . 6560

14453

          Total number of individual telephone

              requests of officers . . . . . . . 1262

          Total number of papers returned to

              files for reference . . . . . . .  2431

          Total number of date reminders . . . .   229

_________3922

TOTAL          29887

          Average number of original papers

              handled by files per day . . . . . .866

          Average number of papers handled

              by files per day . . . . . . . . .  796

     19.  AVIATION_

          It has been decided that Caproni Machines will not be flown from Italy to the Northern Bombing Groups for the present. Lieut. Commander B.Briscoe, U.S.N.R.F. now on his way to Italy, is to discuss the solution of the problem of delivery with the Italian authorities.22

          Raids were made by U.S.Marine Corps officers in D.H.4 and D.H.9 planes in bombing operations with the British Royal Air Force Day Bombing Squadron No.218

          The British Admiralty have written to Vice Admiral commanding the East Coast of England23 expressing appreciation of the effective patrol by U.S.N.R.F. seaplane from Killingholme on the night of July 9 – 10, 1918. The seaplane, piloted by Ensign J.J.Schieffelin, U.S.N.R.F. discovered a submarine, dropped two bombs close to it, and directed British destroyers to the position. Depth charges were dropped and the Admiralty considered that the submarine was probably seriously damaged.

          Captain Hanrahan U.S.N. has reported that Lieutenant A.L.Gates, U.S.N.R.F. has been recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross by the King of England for gallantry on the night of August 22, 1918 when he rescued Lieutenant Hetheringt[on], R.A.F. and EI 2cl.Kennedy U.S.N. from a Handley-Page wrecked in the sea. He flew back to the U.S.Naval Air Station, Dunkirk with his passengers.24

          Captain Orsini, Commander of Italian Aviation, has bracketed the U.S.Naval Air Station at Pescara, Italy, with the Italian Naval Air Stations at Varano and Ancona for co-operation against common enemy objectives, under the jurisdiction of the Italian District commander at Ancona.25

          Arrangements have been made for the delivery of three H-16 seaplanes to the French Government.

          A submarine was sighted on September 21, 1918, by an H-16 patrolling from the U.S.Naval Air Station, Wexford, Ireland. Two bombs were dropped, both functioning. Dark brown oil and sediment were seen, and the submarine appeared to be trying unsuccessfully to submerge. It continued on its course at about half the speed at which it had been travelling when originally sighted.

          Tests made at U.S.Naval Air Station, Fromentine indicate that the useful war loan of an H.S.1 is limited to the Pilot, the Gunner and two 165-bombs.

     20.  MEDICAL DEPARTMENT

          . . . An epidemic of influenza occurred among the men of Squadron 1st Marine Aviation Force, who arrived at Liverpool on the S.S. LAPLAND. One officer and six men have died and numerous others are still on the sick list.

          Instructions were issued to all ships and stations to make regular reports during the continuance of the influenza epidemic.

          Arrangements are being made to facilitate the transport home of Navy sick, and insane in conjunction with the army. . . .

     21.  REPAIR

          . . . A conference was held with representatives of Cammell Lairds and Co. Liverpool, in regard to the rate of progress of repairs of U.S. destroyers and concerning the capacity of their plant to handle promptly the increasing number of destroyers which must be handled.

          Their dry dock capacity is sufficient to care for our needs for some months to come. They are, however, suffering from a shortage of riveters, and actual completion of work of U.S.Naval ships is being thereby delayed.

          There appears to be little probability of obtain sufficient additions to their rivetting gangs. The only source of supply seems to be their riveters now engaged on new construction work.

          The Admiralty have recently issued an order to the effect that under no circumstances are riveters engaged on new construction work to be diverted to repair work.

          Owing to the Department’s policy in regard to interchange of repair and building facilities,26 the Force Commander is not in a position to urge upon the Admiralty the desirability of diverting labor from new construction to repairs of our vessels.

          While no immediate action is necessary, the gradual increase of our vessels in European Waters will probably create a difficult situation in the near future. At the same time, an unusual number of major casualty damages may easily create a situation where the operations of our vessels will be seriously impaired owing to the above shortage of skilled labor. . . .

     22. LEGAL SECTION

          As previously reported it has been found necessary to create a Legal Section on the Force Commander’s staff to handle all legal questions growing out of damages incurred by our ships of merchant ships and privately owned materiel.

          This section is in charge of Commander W.H.McGrann U.S.N. (retired) He reported for duty on 21st September. . . .

     24.  DIVERSION OF LATE AMERICAN LINE VESSELS TO LIVERPOOL

          Considerable difficulty has been experienced since the diversion of the American Line ships from Liverpool to France in arranging for transfer to the United States of Medical survey cases. At present about forty such cases including a considerable number of insane and tubercular are awaiting transportation and it is to be anticipated that such cases will increase rather than diminish.

          When the American Line ships were regularly on the Liverpool run, very little difficulty was experienced and judging from movements of naval personnel and shipments of special naval stores it is believed that running these ships to Liverpool was a distinct convenience to the Service.

          It would appear that there are many advantages and few disadvantages in diverting these ships up to Liverpool from France.

          The turn around in France is as great as in Liverpool owing to the coal situation which will probably be aggravated during the coming winter.

          It is suggested that at least one ship a month be sent to Liverpool in the H.X. convoy. . . .

     27.  PRISONER OF WAR CONFERENCE – BERNE

          As reported by cable to the Department, Commander Hough during the week informed the Force Commander of difficulties being experienced with the enemy in regard to the agreements under consideration concerning prisoners of war.27

          Before leaving London, Captain Hough was directed to inform himself of British Policy in this connection and was advised to adhere as closely as possible to that policy in regards naval prisoners.

          The Department is probably aware that the British agreement with the enemy has been held up for sometime. It seems that the British last year against the wishes of the Admiralty, were forced into agreeing to the internment of submarine officers and petty officers in a neutral country after eighteen months of captivity. This agreement was apparently unavoidable in order to obtain certain other concessions which the British public opinion demanded.

          In this year’s conference with the enemy in verbal discussion the enemy acquiesced to no repatriation for submarine officers or men. It seems however, that in the written agreement as signed, this provision was omitted through an error the nature of which is unknown. The British Government immediately insisted upon the error being corrected but the enemy persistently refused and hence to date the agreement has not been ratified by the Government.

          As recommended by cable, the Force Commander considers that in view of the fact of the very small proportion of submarine prisoners held by us and of the further fact that the British Intelligence Service is very deeply involved in anti submarine operations, we should support the British policy of no repatriation for submarine personnel.

          In last year’s agreement only submarine officers and non-commissioned officers were subject to the internment privilege in a neutral country after eighteen months of captivity. In the agreement now waiting ratification, officers only will be subject to this privilege. . . .

     29.  DEPARTURE OF U.S.AMBASSADOR

          The retiring U.S.Ambassador to England, Dr.Page,28 left for the United States during the past week on the OLYMPIC. . . .

          The Force commander wishes to take this occasion of recording his deep appreciation of the support and assistance rendered to him at all times by the retiring Ambassador. He stated, immediately after tye Force Commander’s arrival in London, that the Embassy and all of its facilities were always entirely at the disposal of the Force Commander, and from that moment he co-operated in every way possible. His advice and counsel were sought on many occasions and the result was always beneficial to the interests of the Naval Service.

     30.  FIRST GUN ATTACK ON CONVOY BY ENEMY SUBMARINE CRUISER

          Full cable and written report has been sent to the Department concerning the first determined attack upon a convoy made by one of the enemy’s new type of submarine cruisers.29

          It seems reasonable to conclude from this attack that there is no reason to fear this type of submarine any more than other types.

          With well organized fire discipline in a convoy and efficient escorting cruisers, such a submarine can only fall back upon its torpedo armament.

          It is true, of course, that the higher cruising radius of the type would render it a formidable menace providing it was possessed in sufficiently large numbers to run down individual ships and trade not in convoy.

          However, it is doubted whether any power can ever afford to sacrifice the other types which are so much more useful in favor of a sufficient number of this larger type.

WM. S. SIMS   

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. This copy is on stationary so the printed information on the first page that extends to the date, is repeated on each of the 32 pages of this report. The signature is a stamp.

Footnote 1: For a map showing the location of these areas see the April 1918 Maps page.

Footnote 2: For more on Norway’s reluctance to mine its territorial waters and thus allowing German submarines a way to avoid the North Sea mine barrage, see: Hans Frederick A. Schoenfeld, to United States Embassy at London, two messages of 29 September 1918.

Footnote 3: The U.S. submarine chasers did not sink any submarines. See: Charles P. Nelson to Sims’ Staff, 7 October 1918.

Footnote 4: The ship destroyed was the San Saba. On 4 October it hit a mine planted by U-117 and sank off Barnegat, NJ. Clark, When U-Boats Came to America, 305.

Footnote 6: At the bottom of the page someone has written in a different, and presumably correct, spelling of these patrol gunboats: “Kilcock, Kildonough, Kilfen dora, Kildavin, and Kildorrey.”

Footnote 7: That is, Queenstown [Cobh], Ireland.

Footnote 8: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly.

Footnote 9: For more on this new attack tactic, see: Henry B. Price, Senior Officer Present, Queenstown Ireland, to Destroyer Flotilla, Queenstown, 17 October 1918.

Footnote 10: See, Henry B. Wilson to Sims, 29 September 1918, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 440.

Footnote 11: Capt. Orin G. Murfin, who was an aide to the American commander of the detachment laying the North Sea mine barrage. The United States had chosen Bizerta as the location for its base in the Mediterranean in laying an Adriatic mine barrage; see: Nathan C. Twining to the Allied Naval Council.

Footnote 12: This report is printed in American Naval Planning Section London, 426-38.

Footnote 13: Convoys originating in Canada, usually Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, to England.

Footnote 14: Convoys from New York and the west coast of England.

Footnote 15: For more on the sinking of theOtranto, see: Philip Andrews’ Speech at a Luncheon in Honor of the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, 14 October 1918. As seen there, the bravery and skill of a British destroyer captain saved many of those on the troop ship, resulting in the number of fatalities being much less than it might have been.

Footnote 16: On the U.S. submarine chasers in the bombardment at Durazzo, see William A. H. Kelly to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 5 October 1918 and Charles P. Nelson to Sims’ Staff, 7 October 1918. As noted at both of those messages, no enemy submarines were sunk.

Footnote 17: RAdm. Newton A. McCully, the newly-appointed commander of United States Forces in Russia. On the American policy toward Allied intervention in Russia at Archangel and Murmansk, see: Daniels to Sims, 4 October 1918.

Footnote 18: RAdm. William H. G. Bullard. On his anticipated role, see: Sims to Albert P. Niblack, 22 September 1918.

Footnote 19: Lt. Edward A. Duff.

Footnote 20: RAdm. Herbert O. Dunn, who commanded the U.S. Navy detachment in the Azores.

Footnote 21: NIAGARA was a steam yacht. Its commander was Capt. Edgar B. Larimer.

Footnote 22: Only eight of the seventeen Caproni bombers that American pilots attempted to fly to France from Italy arrived safely. Rossano, Stalking the U-Boat, 333. On the outcome of Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Briscoe’s mission to Italy, see, ibid., 207.

Footnote 23: Sir Roger J. B. Keyes.

Footnote 24: Capt. David C. Hanrahan commanded the Northern Bombing Group. Just days before this report, Lt. Artemus L. Gates was captured by the Germans when his plane was forced down over the Ypres salient. He was freed in late November 1918. Rossano, Stalking the U-Boat, 77.

Footnote 25: The head of Italian aviation was Capt. Ludovici De Filippi. Ibid., 285. The American base at Pescara never reached operational status; ibid., 303.

Footnote 26: A proposal, endorsed by Sims, to have American shipyards build new ships for Great Britain had been rejected by the Navy Department.

Footnote 27: Capt. Henry H. Hough was the Navy’s representative in the U.S. delegation negotiating this agreement. See: Benson to Sims, 11 October 1918.

Footnote 28: Walter Hines Page; his successor was John W. Davis.

Footnote 29: On the surface attack on the convoy by the submarine and its duel with the armed steamer Perth, see the earlier section of this report headed “ENEMY SUBMARINE OPERATIONS.”

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