Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Contré-amiral Zépherin Alexander Antoine Schwerer, Chief of the Division of Patrols, Bretagne, to Rear Admiral William B. Fletcher, Commander, United States Patrol Squadrons Operating in French Waters

Memorandum – for the Squadron Commander, American Patrol                      vessels.

From the C. D. P. B.

     In reply to your letter of 10th September (423 A/A)1 the following suggestions of the C. D. P. B. are transmitted upon the subject of the formation of Convoys for America.

     Brest is the port which is recommended for the formation of such convoys. Quiberon is suggested in the telegram of Admiral Sims offers too few resources to permit it to be relied upon for the purposes in question. The roadstead of Brest on the contrary offers sufficient space, well protected from the sea, and possessing resources which may be needed by ships. It is further the most Westerly point of France, and ships sailing from there remain the shortest time in the dangerous zone.

     The coast convoys are able to arrive and depart with all the security possible from Brest.

     It remains to decide certain questions:

     1.     It will be necessary to assign an anchorage in the roadstead to assemble vessels preliminary to departure for America, after the question has been studied and with the approval of the Prefet Maritime.

     2.     It will be necessary to base upon Brest a sufficient number of suitable vessels to assure escorts. The destroyers expected soon could well be employed in this service but there are not enough of them.

     The protection of convoys coming from American should continue to be assured as at present, the destroyers coming from Queenstown takeing ships at sea and conducting them to the coast to be piloted to their destination by French Patrol vessels. Upon this subject it will be necessary to know if the procedure proposed to Admiral Sims in your letter of 25 August has been approved.

     Brest 11 September 1917.

P. O. L’Enseigne de Vaisseau,     

          Offic<er> de Liaison.            

H. Deyevere.                

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 125, Entry 30, Box 246. This document was an exhibit in the court of enquiry on Fletcher that took place in 1920. In the inquest, this exhibit was introduced during Fletcher’s cross-examination concerning whether Fletcher had acted appropriately given the level of dissatisfaction expressed by VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operatingin European Waters, and Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, concerning the lack of escorts for U.S. transports and supply ships sailing to and from France.

Footnote 1: In his letter to Schwerer, Fletcher quoted Sims in asking about the advisability of establishing a collection point for outward bound convoys from France. Sims had mentioned Quiberon as a possibility. Ibid.

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