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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas

September 3, 1917.

My dear Pringle:-

          I have written Admiral Bayly to say that Admiral Mayo1 intends to visit Queenstown. The date of his visit is not yet fixed, but will probably be along about the middle of September.

          About the latter part of next week he will leave for the Grand Fleet, but I don’t think he knows yet how long he will remain.

          I do not expect to go with him, unless he particularly wants me. In case he does not, I will meet him at Queenstown.

          He will probably have five or six of his staff with him, and I would like to have you arrange for putting them up at the hotel. Perhaps Admiral Bayly will invite one or two of them to the house. I will have one aid with me.

          I assume they will not remain more than a couple of days. I will have to return with the Admiral, as he expects to go to France.

          Danny leaves to-day or tomorrow for Queenstown.2 He will tell you the gossip. The principal item is that the Admiral and his Staff, particularly the latter, are of the opinion that the destroyer force should be commanded by a Rear Admiral, and probably the sub-divisions by Captains. Danny will tell you of his conversation with the Admiral on this subject. You will appreciate his diplomacy.

          Of course, I am opposing this, and I assume that Admiral Bayly would prefer that we remain as we are. I am trying to persuade the Admiral that I am, and should remain, in command of the destroyers. They seem to want the organization of the whole Atlantic Fleet to look well on paper. Since Gleaves was assigned to other duty,3 nobody has been ordered to command the destroyer force of the Atlantic Fleet. So, the organization is not complete on paper.

          In this connection, there is a point to which my attention was called only to-day. You know the regulation that when a Flag Officer is absent from his Flagship for more than 24 hours, his flag is hauled down; but I did not know until to-day that this applies only to the case where the ship is in one of our ports. Twining4 called my attention to it.

          This regulation (See Reg. Article 1244, par. 1 and 2) provides that the flag shall fly at all times in a foreign port. Will you please take this matter up and explain the regulation (and the circumstances) to Admiral Bayly, and see if he does not think the flag should be hoisted, at least by the time Admiral Mayo arrives.

          I have written both Pratt and Admiral Benson5 to explain how undesirable it would be for a Rear Admiral, etc. to be sent out, and I hope this will have the desired effect.

          It would mean a couple more vessels uselessly employed as Flagships at Queenstown. If they insist upon having a Commander of the Destroyer Force, let him remain on the other side where there are enough destroyers to support the fiction.

          It is time <true> I have not been officially and specially designated as Commander of the Destroyer Force, but I know that the Department considers that I command them.

          So, if our regulations provide that a Flag Officer should fly his flag in a foreign port, perhaps it would be well to fly it in support of this assumption.

          I will of course keep Admiral Bayly and you informed of the movements of the Commander-in-Chief.

          I was very glad to see Danny. Give your Doctors order not to let him use his game leg more than he should.

          I am remaining as cheerful as possible under the circumstances, and I have no doubt you will do the same.

Very sincerely yours,        


Captain J. R. P. Pringle, U. S.N.


P. S. Since writing the above, I find that Admiral Mayo has tentatively decided as follows:-

     1. Go to the Grand Fleet

     2. Return to London

     3. Go to Paris

     4. Go to Queenstown, probably about the 26th or 27th., get the American Line Steamer to call there and pick him up.6

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 79. Document number: “A. <386>.”

Footnote 1: VAdm. Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland; and Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 2: Sims’ aide, Lt. Joseph F. Daniels.

Footnote 3: RAdm. Albert Gleaves, Commander, Cruiser and Transport Force, Atlantic Fleet. For more on Sims' arument that he was and should remain commander of the destroyers at Queenstown, see: Sims to Josephus Daniels, 11 September 1917.

Footnote 4: Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims' Chief of Staff.

Footnote 5: Pringle ordered that Sims’ flag be hoisted and permanently flown from the Melville. Pringle to Destroyer Flotilla, 5 September, 1917, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B. Capt. William V. Pratt, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, and Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 6: Mayo never made it to Queenstown, departing instead from Liverpool aboard St. Louis on 6 October 1917. See, Mayo to Carrie Wing Mayo, 6 October, 1917, DLC-MSS, Henry T. Mayo papers, Box 3.

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