Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Rear Admiral Albert P. Niblack, Commander, Patrol Forces Based at Gibraltar

September 17th.1918.

My dear Nibs ,

          Your letter of September 3rd. received a couple of days ago.1 Your friend Mr.Blake, Consul General at Tangier,2 has not turned up yet. At all events he did not come to see me.

          The Commander-in-Chief3 arrived in London this morning. and informs me that he intends to visit Gibraltar. I cannot tell you no[w] with any reasonable approximation when this will be but it will not be for a considerable time. He expects to be in London for about a week, then go to the Grand Fleet and the Mining Bases, then go to France and visit the Western Front and also all the ports and Air Stations on the west coast of France. It is probable after all this he will go to Gibraltar. It is possible he may go to Italy before going to Gibraltar.4 I will doubtless be able to inform you more accurately later.

          With reference to your going on leave about the middel of October, coming to England and returning by ocean convoy and remaining in England some time, I am afraid that this would be out of the question.5 You would be absent from the station which you command for approximately six weeks. Of course I recognize that this war duty is in many cases irksome and it would be a relief to get away for a month. However, your billet is real recreation compared to some of the others. Rodman cannot get away from his ship more than four hours at a time6 and that sort of thing will have to go on for the period of the war. None of the men who command important stations have been granted leave. None of them have asked for it and it does not seem to me that it would be justifiable for a man in chief command of any important station to be absent so long.

          I am glad to know that Admiral Calthorpe7 paid to a visit to Gibraltar8 and expressed his approval of how he found things there. I of course thoroughly realise how very short you are of ships. We are all suffering from the same trouble and are losing ships every day through lack of ability to escort all those that are now coming in and going out on our Army’s business. Fortunately we have yet had no losses of loaded transports. The next destroyers that are sent to this side will be sent down to you. We are promised three this month and thirtyone before the end of the year. I am, however, not counting upon anything until it actually arrives as our disappointments in this matter have been so very severe.

          I shall be glad to see Mr. Glover9 when he turns up, and I will of course be glad to give him a passage back on the Birmingham or CHESTER.10

Very sincerely yourw,        

W S Sims.

Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24. Addressed below close: “Rear-Admiral A.P. Niblack U.S.N./U.S.S. BUFFALO,/Gibraltar.” There is a note at the top of both pages of this two-page letter: “Admiral Sims1/Personal File.” There is also a document identifier in columnar fashion on both pages: “1/5/C/H/J.”

Footnote 2: Maxwell Blake.

Footnote 3: Adm. Henry T. Mayo.

Footnote 4: Tracking the letters that Mayo wrote to his wife that are in the Henry T. Mayo Papers, DLC-MSS, Mayo followed the itinerary laid out by Sims, including a visit to Italy, where he was when the armistice was signed on 11 November. He did not, however, visit Gibraltar.

Footnote 5: Niblack presented his plans in his letter to Sims of 3 September.

Footnote 6: RAdm. Hugh Rodman commanded Battleship Division Nine that was serving with the British Grand Fleet.

Footnote 7: VAdm. Sir Somerset A. Gough-Calthorpe, R.N., Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet.

Footnote 8: In a draft of this letter, Sims had typed in “paid a visit to the DYER and the BUFFALO” but crossed through those words and wrote “Gibraltar” above the cross through. DYER was a destroyer in Niblack’s command; BUFFALO was a tender.

Footnote 9: For more on Glover, see Niblack to Sims, 3 September 1918.

Footnote 10: The cruisers Birmingham and CHESTER, which were part of Niblack’s command at Gibraltar, had been sent to England to refit.

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