Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to the Staff of Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Chronological Copy.                     [File N]o. <32-2-10>

Cablegram Received <September 16, 1918.> Y-12

Origin Opnav Washington                           Ser. No. 1561

O-1 Sept 17

42 ADR                        CONFIDENTIAL

Simsadus

     1561 Your 4735.1 Present capacity of naval transports for Army sick and wounded including insane is based upon actual Naval experience as to facilities existing each vessel for properly caring of helpless patients. Navy Departments policy opposed to transportation of helpless sick and wounded in troop space thereby creating conditions in passage involving adverse criticism reflecting upon Navy. Reports indicate that Army patients are now being transferred for embarkation without blankets and necessary personnel equipment and in some cases in dying condition and in other cases unsuitable for transfer under prevailing shipping and sea conditions. Navy Department has indicated in correspondence furnished you that Naval facilities for Army use are surplus facilities and if not sufficient for Army needs additional transportation facilities must be supplied by Army. Articles of agreement between Navy and Army should not be interpreted as placing upon Navy sole responsibility for transporting Army sick and wounded, Navy being charged only with care of patients accepted on capacity of basis for proper treatment. Reports continue to indicate that Navy transports are not being fully utilized for return of Army patients presumably owing to faulty army distribution to and undocking evacuation hospital beds at embarkation points. Equipment and personnel for each Naval transport considered more than ample for intended purpose. Naval transports not intended or fitted to act as ambulance ships.  Commander Cruiser Force and Transport Force2 considers as more satisfactory than calling for Army assistance that a reserve Naval personnel should be quartered at embarkation points in France to augment regular ship complement when necessary. 600 hospital corps men if necessary available here. Army personnel if called for should be under the authority of the Senior Naval Medical Officer. Articles of agreement now provide that Army shall arrange with Senior Medical Officer through Commanding Officer as to type and number of patients transferable. 12016 1561

          Benson

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. handwritten date is confirmed by the time/date notation at the end of the cable. Notes below close: “4735 is a R/T of B 6475/”Undocking” Comes garbled/Time sent omitted/recd 6:1 0am sept 17, 1918.”

Footnote 1: This document has not been found.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Albert Gleaves.

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