Skip to main content

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

C O P Y.

Cablegram sent Opnav, Sept. 14, 1918.

4845.     Decisions and recommendations Allied Naval Council other than in regard to mining, are contained in this cable.1

          Italian Representative stated that measures for reinforcing Italian land forces in Albania were proving effective, and there was no reason for disquietude regarding the situation at Malakastra and Valona.2

          Council agreed that of thirtyone Nuites [i.e., United] States destroyers expected in European waters by Jan. 1st, 1919, ten should be allocated to Gibralter and ten to Brest, if United States regarded such disposition necessary. Disposition of remaining eleven is to be discussed at a later meeting of the Council, at which it is probable strong representations will be made to secure an addition to the Allied fleet in the Aegean Sea, as it is stated that that force is now insufficiently supplied with destroyers and light cruisers.

          Necessity of improved intelligence service at Constantinople was recognized and Council desired that two directors of Naval Intelligence of France, Great Britain and Italy concert such measures as might be found possible to this end. United States was not formally requested to participate, but any assistance that could be given would be appreciated.

          Council desires Naval Attaches in Spain to consider what arrangements can best be made to facilitate collection and transmission of information regarding enemy submarines off Spanish ports or coasts. I will direct United States Naval Attache Madrid,3 to consider this matter, and I request the Department to give him instructions. Council recorded opinion that cooperation of Allied Naval Forces in capture of Archangel4 and since, and has been most satisfactory and desire the several Admiralties to inform Rear-Admiral commanding and the respective senior Naval Officers accordingly.5 I request Department transmit commendatory message to Commanding Officer, U.S.S. OLYMPIA.6

          Council was informed of my request for fifty additional sub chasers and agreed that thirtysix of these were needed and could be advantageously employed in Italian waters, either in the mobile barrage of the Otranto Straits or on the East coast of Sicily where submarines are very active. I renew my recommendations made in my cablegram No. 43117 that these chasers be dispatched to European forces in addition to the forty-two required to complete the original allotment. Not only can they be advantageously employed in the indicated locality, but their assignment will be particularly pleasing to the Italian Authorities, who feel that their requests for assistance usually receive scant consideration.8

S I M S. 

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: The fifty meeting of the Allied Naval Council took place 13 and 14 September 1918. Trask, Captains & Cabinets: 519.

Footnote 2: On the Austrian counter-offensive that threatened to capture the Malakastra heights and threaten the port city of Valona and the politics involved in Allied decisions concerning operations there, see Halpern, Naval War in the Mediterranean: 515-18.

Footnote 3: Capt. Walter S. Crosley.

Footnote 4: The Allied force moved to the Russian city of Archangel to support an anti-Bolshevik coup staged by Czarists. While the Russians established a government there, for all intents and purposes it was the allies, in the person of British Maj. Gen. Frederick C. Poole who ran things. For a full account of the operation and the role the U.S. Navy played in it see Henry P. Beers, US Naval forces in Northern Russia (Archangel and Murmansk), 1918-1919.

Footnote 5: The naval contingent was commanded by British RAdm. Thomas W. Kemp, R.N.

Footnote 6: Capt. Bion B. Bierer.

Footnote 8: Historian David Trask discusses Sims’ request and notes that the Navy Department agreed to it in Trask, Captains & Cabinets: 280-81.