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 Vice Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Forces Based in France

AC                                         30 September 1918.

FROM:     Force Commander.

TO  :     Commander U.S.Naval Forces in France.

SUBJECT:  Concerning ships’ marks for sinking submarines.

     1.   It is noted in recent reports that three ships of the Forces based on the French Coast have been authorised to paint marks on their funnels as indicating that they have definitely sunk an enemy submarine.

     2.   With the exception of the CHRISTABEL, the Force Commander is not aware of any definite evidence confirming the destruction of submarines by forces on the French coast. Information is therefore requested as to how the fact has been determined.

     3.   In the British Navy definite awards for having sunk submarines are not given until the evidence in the case is conclusive. This sometimes involves considerable time although the report of the attacking ships seems very conclusive. Unless definite evidence in the form of prisoners or wreckage is obtained, the fact of having sunk the submarine can only be determined through enemy sources.

     4.   As previously stated, experience during the war has shown that the number of claims by naval vessels which appear on their face to be conclusive, compares with the number of submarines actually sunk as about six to one.

     5.   According to evidence in possession of the Force Commander, the only definite cases of destruction of submarines by our forces in European Waters are as follows:-

          FANNING . . . . . . . . prisoners taken.

          CHRISTABEL. . . . . . . submarine interned in Spain.

          LYDONIA. . . . . . . . .confirmed some months after

                                the attack.

     6.   If awards for destruction of submarines are to be based upon what appear to be excellent reports but without definite evidence, there are a number of other ships beside the STEWART and TUCKER which merit such award.

     7.   In order therefore that all awards and distinctions be uniform throughout the entire force under this command, it is desired that such questions be subject to the Force Commander’s approval after all of the evidence in the case has been submitted to him.

WM. S. SIMS

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The signature is a stamp.

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