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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Anne Hitchcock Sims


30, Grosvenor Gardens,

 London, S.W.1     

September 9th 1918.

My dear Anne:

                              . . . Yesterday, Sunday, I took lunch with Mr.Lloyd George1 and spent the afternoon. He has taken a place down near Brighton where he spends the week-ends, or where he runs off when he has important speeches to prepare. He has taken this place in connection with Sir George Riddell,2 who is described by some as the Colonel House of England.3 He is a newspaper man who has made his own way, and has acquired a large fortune. I have known him ever since I have been over here and we are very good friends. . . .

     Mr. George is one of the most interesting men and one of the best companions of my acquaintance. He makes not the slightest pretence of official dignity. He is more like a big boy just out of school. He is always bubbling over with merriment. His eyes fairly sparkle and snap. He loves to spin yarns and enjoys them very much. He laughs over jokes quite hilariously. He does not seem to have a care in the world. His skin and his eyes are as clear as a girl’s and he evidently enjoys perfect physical health. He eats everything set before him at the table. I do not know that he plays any games, but he always climbs any high hill he happens to be near. At lunch he was very entertaining and very amusing in his comments on men and affairs. I have often seen him this way before. He particularly enjoyed a number of yarns now being circulated of the doings and sayings of our colored troops on the Western Front. It is good to see how heartily a man who bears his burden can laugh over these innocent whimsicalities. . . . After tea in the afternoon, the Prime Minister andIhad a long talk over naval affairs[.] I have often wished that you could meet this very interesting man. It may be that he is politically skilled to make believe that he is interested in everybody he meets, but if he is he is an exceedingly good actor. Personally, I believe he is interested in every human being he does meet. He is probably the most optimistic man in Great Britain and I think this is a very fortunate thing for the Allies. . . .

          You know by this time that Ambassador Page4 has been obliged by ill health to resign his position. It is more that he is worn out than it is that he has anything the matter with him. It is practically universally believed that he has been a very successful Ambassador. It is certain that the British are very fond of him. He wrote to me about three weeks ago telling me of his intended departure and that he had sent his resignation to the President.5 He is still up in Scotland at a sanatorium. Since his resignation was announced in the Press there have been a number of rumors about it. Only the other day I heard that certain people were wondering whether or not his alleged illness was real. Others, whether he was being removed to send somebody else here. I also heard that certain people had said that the Ambassador was jealous of my alleged popularity and that we did not get along together. It is singular what propensity some people have for gossip. It is of course known to anybody who is at all in contact with the Embassy or Headquarters that I have not only always worked in thorough accord with the Ambassador, but that we have a real affection for each other. I have seldom met a man whom I liked so much as I have Dr.Page.

          There is no particular news that I can tell you about the <military> submarine situation beyond what you have seen in the American Press. Of course there are all sorts of conjectures as to what move the Allies or the enemy will make next, some of these are circulated in the City and some are referred to in the Press, but they all concern more or less the technical features of strategy. Of course my opinion on the subject is of no particular value, but the general opinion in military circles appears to be that the Allies are now beyond any human probability of danger, and that the probability is that they will be able to show that the Hun is defeated, or in a fair way to be defeated, before very long. . . .

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24.

Footnote 1: David Lloyd-George, Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Footnote 2: Riddell was managing director of News of the World and owned several other newspapers. He served as liaison between the British government and the press and also served as a private advisor to Lloyd-George. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Footnote 3: Col. Edward M. House was an important advisor to President Woodrow Wilson, though he held no office in the Wilson administration. He played an important role in shaping American wartime diplomacy and often represented Wilson in talks with foreign leaders. For more on House see Charles E. Neu, Colonel House: A Biography of Woodrow Wilson’s Silent Partner (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Footnote 4: Walter Hines Page.

Footnote 5: Woodrow Wilson. For Page’s letter of resignation, see Page to Wilson, 1 August 1918, Wilson Papers, 49: 155.