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 Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas

September 16th 1918.

My dear Pringle:

     Your letter of the 14th1 has just been received and I understand your position entirely. But I quite agree with you that if you should go home on liason duty, Price2 should remain at least until you come back. I do not see why Price’s remaining where he is making such a splendid record, which will permit me to give him a report of fitness of the finest kind, should be any detriment to him. The proposition that he should go to a sea-going ship for his benefit is not a sound one. There is a great European war going on and it is up to us to push it along in the best possible way. If it would decrease the efficiency of our forces to detach Price and put an unknown man in his place, it should not be done. There is are a great many men in Price’s position. I might cite Twining and other members of my staff, also Captain Pratt3 and such men who are doing excellent work. According to Admiral Mayo,4 it would be beneficial to Pratt personally to go to a sea-going ship and hold down a job which any ordinary naval officer of commerce could hold down but it would be a very decided decrease in the efficiency of Admiral Benson’s5 staff to send him to sea.

     As for your going home on liaison trip, that appeals to me in certain ways. There can be no doubt at all that it would be very beneficial to us to have you spend three weeks in Washington wrestling out things with the gang there. But the only thing that I am afraid of is that the principal dignitaries may take advantage of your absence to order a Rear Admiral to the command.6 Of course the fiction is that I am in command of the destroyers and other vessels based at Queenstown but everybody knows that this is not the exercise of an active demonstration command.

     While the liaison principle is of course entirely sound, I have my doubts about the advisability of a man practically in chief administrative command of a base being absent for any considerable length of time. I will let you know about this later-after I hear what Admiral Mayo has to say, and what his attitude is toward you and toward everything remaining in Queenstown as it is now. Last time he was here he made a very strenuous effort to have the Queenstown force placed under a Rear Admiral. He may have changed his opinion, or changed his policy due to the demonstration of the last year or so as to how things have been going.

     I have not yet received the note from Admiral Bayly.7 I received a letter from him dated the 12th,8 in which he strongly recommended that we sent thirty six more destroyers to Queenstown with a mother ship to render the forces more mobile. I have written him on this subject indicating that there is not much chance of our having thirty six more chasers to send there.9 We are still forty two chasers short of the hundred and forty four promised. I have still asked for fifty more.

     We have no word yet about your examination papers.10

Very sincerely yours,   

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Container 79. The identifier “Admiral Sims’ personal files.” appears in the top-left corner of the first page, and the identification number “1/3/J/D” appears in the top-right corner of both pages. Letter is addressed below close: “Captain J.R.P.Pringle, U.S.N./U.S.S.Melville.”

Footnote 1: This letter has not been found.

Footnote 2: Capt. Henry B. Price, Commander, Dixie. Price’s ship served as the tender for the entire Queenstown flotilla.

Footnote 3: Capt. William V. Pratt, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, and Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ chief of staff.

Footnote 4: Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 5: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 6: For more on Pringle’s proposed liaison trip and concerns that he return to Ireland in a timely fashion, see: Sims to Benson, 17 September 1918; and Sims to Benson, 18 September 1918.

Footnote 7: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Southern Ireland.

Footnote 9: The reference to destroyers is a mistype. Sims is talking about chasers. For more on this, see: Sims to Bayly, 15 September 1918.

Footnote 10: Pringle was apparently being considered for promotion.