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 Mark L. Bristol, Commander, U.S. Battleship OKLAHOMA

September 2nd 1918 

My dear Bristol:

          Your letter of August 30th just received.1 I am sorry to say that up to the present time the Navy Department has, in almost all cases, declined to send me the officers that I ask for. I recently asked for two of the captains now with the Grand Fleet who have recently been promoted for important duty over here. By cables received to-day I learn that these officers are to be detached and sent home for other duty.

          I have asked the Navy Department to give me at least a certain limited choice in the selection of officers for duty here but they have never in any case done so,2 and I assume they do not intend to do so in the future. They seem to have established a policy which they are very fond of, by having officers assigned to duty in regular rotation. For example, I asked to have three of the captains over here assigned to duty with the Grand Fleet to replace these captains recently promoted. I was informed that the Department’s policy was to promote officers from the Fleet who had been in command of the older battleships to the command of the dreadnoughts. One would think that, considering the responsibility of this position, the Navy Department would be willing to allow the Commander at least to make suggestions as to the officers who should be sent to assist him. I was, of course, not consulted about the ships that would come over here on the duty on which you are now engaged. I may also say that the sending of the ships over here was not a part of a plan made on this side. It may be modified in the future, as we are now informed that battleships will be sent with the troop convoys hereafter, commencing September 9th. This latter is, of course, what we have always recommended since more than a year and it may modify the plan proposed by the Department.

          Just now I cannot see my way clear to get away from London, where all of the communications of all our stations and bases are concentrated, but perhaps if things ease up a bit I may pay a visit to the Force at Queenstown and incidentally run down and have a look in Bantry Bay.

Very sincerely yours,        

S/W.S.Sims

Source Note: CyS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 50. Addressed below close: “Captain Mark L.Bristol/U.S.S. OKLAHOMA.”

Footnote 1: Bristol’s letter to Sims has not been found, but for Sims previous message to Bristol, see: Sims to Bristol, 26 August 1918.

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