Anglo-American Naval Differences During World War I

Anglo-American Naval Differences During World War I by Dean C. Allard U.S. Naval Historical Center

USS Pennsylvania, leading the Presidential convoy at sea, about 40 miles from Brest, 1919. U.S. Navy piyotograph.

APRIL 1980

ANGLO-American mihtary cooperation in World War Ihas been the subject of a number of historical works. Scho- lars such as David Trask have demonstrated, for example, that the United States accepted the grand strategy of the Allies in which the focus of the land campaign was on the Western Front while the all-important naval mission was the Royal Navy’s blockade of the continent. Other writers have described the high level of tactical cooperation achieved in the war zone between American and Allied forces, including the notably harmonious joint United States-British destroyer patrol operating from Queenstown, Ireiand.’

But while cooperation was evident, there also were significant differences between the Allies and the United States that influ- enced the shape of America’s miiitary contributions and re- flected the nation’s outlook toward the conflict as a whole. This article wiil discuss several areas of tension that particularly involved American and British naval efforts.= In developing this theme, the contrasting views of Washington officiais and Admi- ral William S. Sims also will be explored. This is necessary since Sims, the well-known, popular, and effective American naval commander in Europe,* substantially shared the perspective of Great Britain.* In fact, the admiral based his entire approach to the war on his long-held belief that American and British security interests were identical. Sims also recognized the unequaled Royal Navy as the dominant naval factor in the conflict and the leader of all other Allied maritime forces. As a consequence, it was his opinion that the task of the United States fleet should be to augment British operations and most particularly to aid in de- feating the German submarine counter-blockade of the British Isles.’

Although Sims’ outlook has sometimes been seen as typifying the American Navy’s approach to the war, his concepts were not shared by officials in Washington who framed the nation’s naval policy. These leaders included Rear Admiral Charles J. Badger, chairman of the influential advisory hody known as the General Board; Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels; and President Woodrow Wilson himself. The central figure, however, was Ad- miral William S. Benson, the Chief of Naval Operations, who under the direction of Secretary Daniels was responsible for the “operations of the fleet” and the preparation of “plans for its use in war.”‘

Benson has sometimes been viewed as an Anglophobe, but he might more accurately he described as a nationalist who trusted no state’s benevolent intentions. This austere and relatively little-known naval officer was noted for integrity, loyalty to political superiors, and his sympathy for Wilsonian idealism.’ Although lacking the popular reputation of Sims, Benson obvi- ously shared with the European commander the objective of military victory. Where Benson differed was in refusing to set aside other considerations in responding to the needs of the Royal Navy or any other ally. He once described his attitude in these words; “My first thought in the beginning, during, and always, was to see first that our coasts and our own vessels and our own




interests were safeguarded. Then . . . to give everything we had . . . for the common cause. . . . ” At another point, the Chief of Naval Operations revealed his feelings of Wilsonian indepen- dence by commenting that, “It is difficult and really impossible for me to state [when] I felt that we must be involved with the Allies. . . . In fact, I do not know that I ever fully came to that conclusion.””

As indicated by Benson, the defense needs of the United States received priority consideration. Upon America’s entry into the war, the Admiral’s conviction that German submarines would launch operations in the Western Hemisphere — an estimate based on U-boat activities off the East Coast earlier in the conflict — led him to establish a patrol force of destroyers and other light craft to safeguard the American continent. To the British and Admiral Sims, however, these steps seemed almost entirely un- necessary since they saw submarine operations in American waters as unlikely and, if they occurred, as diversions of little military consequence.” At the same time, Sims, deeply concerned that the^U-boats would force the United Kingdom to her knees, was calling for the urgent dispatch of American patrol forces to Europe.

When the German submarine threat in American waters did not materialize during the Spring of 1917, the General Board and planning officers in Benson’s office supported Sims’ position that the United States should assign all possible anti-submarine ships to support the defense of Great Britain. As a result, over the next two months, about 70 percent of America’s small force of modern destroyers was deployed to Queenstown, Ireland. Here, Sims assigned the ships to the operational control of the Royal Navy which primarily employed them in protecting Allied merchant vessels in the danger zone surrounding the British Isles.”

Admirai Wiiiiam S. Benson, U.S.N. Chief of Navai Operations during Worid War i. U.S. Navy photograph.


This early deployment appeared to indicate that the American Navy’s anti-submarine forces would serve as an auxiliary to the British Fleet, a development that was entirely consistent with the thinking of Admiral Sims. But Sims soon was to be disappointed. Throughout the Summer of 1917, and indeed until the end of the war, the admiral was critical of the Navy Department for re- taining a relatively small number of destroyers and other light craft in American waters for coastal defense.” But, of more fundamental importance, Washington naval authorities soon began to stress the use of their anti-submarine units for a basi- cally different mission than the protection of mercantile convoys supplying Great Britain.

This shift in emphasis began as early as the Summer of 1917 when the Navy Department became convinced that England would survive despite the enemy’s submarine attacks. The Ger- man U-boat offensive had become less effective by that time, but American planners also concluded that the crisis depicted by Sims and the British earlier in 1917 had been exaggerated. If a national collapse actually had been imminent, they noted that the far superior Royal Navyhadupwardsof 300 destroyers, including more than a hundred with its Grand Fleet that were not directly committed to the anti-submarine campaign. In contrast, the American Navy entered the war with 51 modern destroyers and, even after a major building program, could claim a total of only 107 by November 1918.”

IT was also in the middle months of 1917 that Americanleaders recognized the feasibility and need of a national army in Europe. As a result, the United States Navy became responsi- ble for the massive task of transporting the American troops and munitions that would allow America’s land power to be exerted on the Western Front. As early as May 1917, the President indi’ cated his personal concern with this effort by cautioning the Navy to reserve enough destroyers from Queenstown to protect troop movements to the ports of western France. In the same month, Wilson took the unusual step of personally reviewing and ap- proving a technical military plan for the safeguarding of such convoys. When it appeared that neither British officials nor Sims recognized the urgency of establishing a sizable American land force on the continent, Washington officials sent repeated in- structions to Sims to assign American ships based in the United Kingdom to the primary task of protecting the lines of communi- cation to France, as opposed to their original mission of guarding cargo convoys supporting the British Isles. Sims, however, was not personally convinced of that priority until the Summer of 1918.”

In April 1918, as it became evident that the Allies faced a grave crisis on the Western Front, Great Britain at last recognized the importance of American ground reinforcements. At that time and throughout the remaining months of the war, the British finally made available from their unmatched inventory of pas- senger liners a significant volume of shipping for the transporta- tion of the U.S. Army. As a consequence, and ironically consid- ering the nationalistic outlook of the Navy Department, a slightly larger number of American troops eventually was carried to Europe in English bottoms than in American vessels. Neverthe- less, the American Navy was responsible for delivering without a single casualty more than 900,000, or 46 percent, of the two million Army personnel sent to the Continent.”

These operations in support of the land campaign involved a large fleet that was based largely in the United States. Forty-one troop transports, operated by the Navy, formed the core of this force. Protecting the liners on their Atlantic passage were some 30 destroyers — which Sims would have preferred to have had under his command in Europe — the majority of America’s 31 cruisers, and late in the war a number of older battleships. In addition, approximately 350 cargo ships operated by the Naval Overseas Transportation Service were used primarily to carry




military supplies to the Continent. A notable supplement to the more than 450 trans-Atlantic escort and transport vessels was a group of 85 ships homeported in Brest, France, under the com- mand of an American flag officer, that protected American ships on the final leg of their passage to Western Europe. Setting aside the force at Brest, no more than approximately 275 of the Navy’s other 1500 units and fewer than 15 percent of the Navy’s personnel were in eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean waters at the time of the Armistice.”

The organization of the ships committed to the projection of American land power to the Continent indicated that the Navy Department was as sensitive to the amalgamation of its units into European formations as General Pershing was in regard to American ground forces. The Queenstown destroyers and a squadron of battleships that eventually operated with the Grand Fleet were under British operational control. However, the es- cort units based outside the British danger zone, including those operating from the French coast, were exclusively in an Ameri- can chain of command. In contrast to the mercantile convoys proceeding from the United States to the United Kingdom, which were under British strategic direction, the troop convoys that sailed to the Continent also were entirely American operations.”

Following the war, in reviewing the American Navy’s overall contributions. Admiral Benson concluded that the “major part” played was in “getting our troops and munitions and supplies over there.” He differentiated these operations from the general defeat of the German submarine, stating that even if the U-boat campaign had been maintained at its “maximum,” the Ameri- can Army would have been established successfully in France due to the exceptional measures taken by the United States in protecting the troop convoys.” Captain William Veazie Pratt, Benson’s capable assistant in Washington, also felt that the ser- vice’s key mission had been to support the land component of Allied grand strategy, focusing on the Western Front, rather than augmenting the naval campaign undertaken primarily by the Royal Navy. He asserted that “our great naval contribution to the war lay not in the fighting ships we could throw to the front, but in our ability to mobilize and transport America’s great reserve power quickly to the European war front. . . .” Pratt, with his usual astuteness, contrasted this effort with the perspective of the Royal Navy and Admiral Sims by pointing out that “The impelling reason of the British was protection to food and war supplies in transit. Our basic reason was protection to our own military forces in crossing the seas.””

DURING 1917, the Navy Department was concernedwith another aspect of American security that was tangen- tial to the British maritime campaign in Europe. Upon its entry into the war, the United States became associated with Japan, Britain’s long-time ally. But, despite the fact that the United States and Japan were now co-belligerents. President Wilson remained suspicious of the Pacific power. There was even grea- ter apprehension by American strategists who bore in mind, for example, the Japanese seizure during 1914 of positions in the Marshall, Caroline, and Mariana Islands, a development which obviously endangered American lines of communication to the Far East. The two-ocean challenge perceived by U.S. planners was revealed in a proposal made by Admiral Benson’s office in February 1917 to deploy American capital ships to the Pacific wherctheir “potential as a fleet in being might be used to the best political advantage.” This deployment was not made, especially due to the department’s assessment early in the war that Britain might well collapse, a contingency that could lead to a German surfate fleet assault in the Western Hemisphere. That threat was connected with Japan in an April 1917 study by Admiral Badger’s General Board which noted that, in addition to the short-term danger in fhe Pacific, consideration had to be given to a hostile alliance between Japan and Germany in a “war resulting from

A P ” ” ‘ ” ° ”

State, War and Navy Building, 17th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, as it appeared during World War I. U.S. Navy photo- graph.

the present one.” In the following month, the advisory body re- commended to the Secretary of the Navy that every effort be made to embroil Japan in combat on the Eastern Front since the prospects of German-Japanese cooperation “will be minimized on account of tbe resulting antagonism.” During the Summer of 1917, attention also was given to reports that the British were planning to transfer capital ships to bolster Japan’s already for- midable fleet. These rumors were particularly alarming since the United States had elected to defer battleship construction for the balance of the war in order to concentrate on building anti- submarine and merchant vessels.”

The various aspects of the Japanese problem received con- centrated attention in October 1917 when the General Board held hearings on a British request that a squadron of battleships join the Grand Fleet. The Board’s witnesses indicated that American confidence in short-term Japanese intentions was a precondition to the commitment to European waters of any part of the battle fleet which, up to that point, had been carefully reserved in home waters.'” Captain Pratt noted, for example, that the initial deci- sion to hold the battleships on the east coast had resulted from the “unsettled state” of the “far Eastern Question.” The captain added, however, that he now had been reassured by Viscount Ishii’s mission to Washington. Therefore, Pratt urged that the requested dreadnoughts be sent to Europe, especially since he hoped that Japan would imitate America’s example by sending her own reinforcements to the war zone.

Another witness at the hearings. Captain Frank H. Schofield, also saw the dispatch of American battleships to European wat- ers in the context of American-Japanese relations. In his view, this move would indicate the good will of the United States to Japan. It also would place Great Britain in America’s debt, thus deflecting the British from transferring ships or offering other assistance to Japan that might threaten American interests.”

Benson did not immediately agree with Pratt’s and Schof ield’s position, since he continued to feel that the battle fleet should be kept together to meet the anticipated postwar challenge of Japan and Germany, a belief fueled by his pessimism that the Allies could achieve a decisive victory over the Central Powers. But later that Fall, as the Lansing-Ishii Agreement was signed which appeared to commit Japan to the status quo in China, Japanese- American tensions decliiled in the Pacific. Most U.S. ships were




moved to the Atlantic, and apparently congenial relations de- veloped as the remaining American units cooperated with the Japanese and British in patrolling that vast ocean area. In November 1917, Benson also departed for Europe as a member of the House Mission for the purpose of discussing the war effort with the Allies. While there he at last concluded that Japan’s immediate intentions and — as will be discussed later — his desire to promote an offensive campaign against German sub- marines, indicated that the American battleships could be as- signed to the Grand Fleet. In the following month these four dreadnoughts, later joined by a fifth unit, crossed the Atlantic and reported to the British command. They represented about a fourth of America’s modern battleships.*”

Thus, after eight months of American participation in the European war, American fleet deployments were no longer con- strained by the immediate threat of Japan and her potential allies. Yet Washington officials, who along with their Allied counterparts were deeply concerned with national interests in the postwar era, continued to fear aggression by Japan at a later date. These apprehensions were reinforced by the limited naval and military forces actually sent to Europe by Japan and the distinct possibility until the latter part of 1918 that Germany could emerge from the conflict with her fleet intact. Very late in the war, as it became evident that the Central Powers were on the verge of collapse, the specter of a Japanese-German combination was replaced by a possible hostile alliance between the fleets of Great Britain and Japan, a situation that influenced Wilson and his naval leaders in opposing the distribution of German war- ships to the Allies. All of these considerations obviously pre- vented American naval leaders from riveting exclusive attention on the Royal Navy’s campaign in Europe.”

IN the light of this sometimes detached perspective, itis paradoxical that another fundamental difference between Anglo-American naval policies involved United States efforts to initiate a vigorous offensive in European waters. From the ear- liest days of American participation in the war. Admiral Benson and Josephus Daniels expressed profound disapproval of British anti-submarine efforts, which they considered to be lethargic and essentially defensive. Although eventually accepting such mea- sures as convoying, Washington officials emphasized the critical importance of attacking enemy submarines in their home ports, or otherwise preventing them from reaching the high seas where the tasks of detection and destruction were greatly compounded. By the Summer of 1917, Washington proposed to British au- thorities that a massive mine barrier be placed across the North Sea as the first element of this campaign. In August, Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, was dispatched to Britain to discuss this scheme as well as further measures to prevent the U-boats from proceeding to their attack areas.”‘

Woodrow Wilson personally spurred these efforts to impress the American way of war on the campaign against the German submarine. In July he forwarded a well-known message to Sims demanding the formulation of bold plans supplementing British methods, which the President noted “do not seem to us effec- tive.” Nevertheless, Sims’ response indicated that he shared the Royal Navy’s pessimism regarding the feasibility of offensive schemes. A month later, Wilson delivered his famous “Hornet’s Nest” speech to officers of the Atlantic Fleet calling for an attack on the nests, or bases, from which the submarines operated. Prior to Mayo’s departure on his European mission, the Presi- dent reiterated this position to the admiral and added the impor- tant requirement that the United States take the “lead” and “be the senior partner in a successful naval campaign.””

Mayo’s discussion with the British came at a time when pres- sures for a more aggressive approach were growing within British circles. This combination of factors led the First Sea


Lord, Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, to present a daring proposal for the capture of the islands of Heligoland and Wangerooge guard- ing the approaches to the German North Sea coast, followed by the sinking of 83 old battleships and cruisers to block the adjacent river mouths used by the U-boats. The British offered to provide 31 of these block ships, but they expected the balance to come froifl America, Japan, and the other Allies.””

Despite the President’s stated desire to “do something auda- cious in the line of offense,” the North Sea scheme was entirely unacceptable both to Woodrow Wilson and his naval advisors. One member of Admiral Mayo’s staff, who was none other than Ernest J. King, the famed naval leader of a later world war, summarized the naval reaction by terming the plan a “straw man” developed by the British to demonstrate the enormous dangers and costs of a maritime offensive. The President was openly disgusted with the proposal since he felt the Germans could easily blast new channels through the North Sea ship obstructions.”‘

However, at the last moment during Mayo’s mission, the British took a step that was more consistent with American views by assenting to a mine barrage across the North Sea between Scotland and Norway on the understanding that it would be un- dertaken largely by the United States. During November and December 1917, this proposal and the entire strategy of an offen- sive campaign were taken up personally by Admiral Benson when he accompanied Colonel House’s mission to Europe. Upon his return to Washington, Benson, perhaps for the first time, was enthusiastic in his desire to employ American naval power on the maritime front lines of Europe since he now was convinced that the British had accepted American naval thinking.””

Benson’s optimism resulted in part from the decisions reached during his visit to establish two bodies — the Allied Naval Council and the American Naval Planning Section in London — that were designed to improve inter-Allied cooperation. But, perhaps of equal importance, these organizations were viewed by the ad- miral and Colonel House as establishing American leadership in shaping future operations in Europe. This opinion, which soon proved to be in error, may serve as a remarkable example of American innocence, considering the nation’s recent entry in the war and Britain’s historic status as the world’s great naval power. But it was consistent with Wilson’s instruction that the House ]Vñssion take the “whip hand’ ‘ in establishing an effective maritime campaign.”‘

In the case of the Allied Naval Council, British leadership ap- peared to Benson to have been effectively replaced by the United States since, in his view, the Allies were “anxious that we should dominate the entire allied situation.” The same principle can be discerned in Benson’s agreement to establish the London Plan- ning Section. That step complied with a standing request of the Admiralty and Admiral Sims, but the proposal was modified by the nationalistic Benson. Specifically, he assured that the London planning section was created as a separate entity which wotild work closely with the British naval staff but not be amalgamated into it. Further, the Chief of Naval Operations directed that the assigned American officers be “imbued with our national and naval policy and ideas.” Benson clearly saw the London staff as a tool to persuade the British to develop the type of aggressive measures that, in Washington’s estimation, had long been lack- ing.-‘

So far as specific operations were concerned, Benson “in- sisted” that American agreement to undertake the North Sea mine barrage be coupled with a vigorous British mining and naval patrol campaign to close the alternate submarine transit route through the Dover Straits.” In making this proposal, how- ever, the admiral and other Navy Department officials recog- nized that the bulk of the British battle fleet needed to be con- served for the critically important task of blockading the Conti- nent and maintaining readiness for another Jutland-type fleet




engagement, which conceivably could determine the entire out- come of the war. Thus, in order to allow a supplemental offensive campaign to be undertaken, the United States expressed her willingness to send capital ships to Europe. The battleship divi- sion that Benson dispatched late in 1917 represented the first increment of these forces. As has been noted, the decision to send this force was associated with declining Japanese-American tensions. But the deployment also was linked with the Wilsonian offensive since the addition of American dreadnoughts to the Grand Fleet allowed the British to decommission an equal number of battleships. The crews of these units then were reas- signed to anti-submarine ships, including those essential for the Dover Straits barrage.”

Besides the distant blockade of the submarine nests rep- resented by the Dover and North Sea barriers, Benson was con- vinced in December 1917 that he had won British assent to a close-in surface ship assault against German seaports. And, once again, the admiral accepted the obligation to provide additional units from the American battle fleet in order to make these oper- ations possible. At the conclusion of the House Mission, Benson reported agreement on a “definite plan of offensive operations [probably a reference to an attack by older battleships on the German submarine bases in Belgium] in which our forces will participate in the near future.” Benson further noted that a “tentative agreement” had been reached to send the “entire Atlantic Fleet to European waters in the Spring provided condi- tions warrant such action.”””

Benson’s naive optimism was soon dampened. To be sure, the North Sea mine barrage, which was the most tangible realization of the American naval offensive, was begun in the Spring of 1918. Nevertheless, this ambitious project was not entirely completed by the Armistice, even though some 57,000 American and 16,000 British mines were planted by that time.”* American encourage- ment may have been partially responsible for the British re- vitalization of the Dover Straits barrage. Yet, despite the opera- tion’s increased effectiveness. Admiral Badger concluded that the British never fully met their part of the bargain to close this submarine transit zone.”

The close-in attack on the German U-boat bases was almost entirely abandoned and, as a result, the large American fleet offered by Benson late in 1917 was not deployed. Although a number of the American battleships that would have been com- mitted to this operation later proved useful in protecting troop convoys, Benson continued to regret that a seaport offensive was not undertaken. The most essential explanation for its absence was the fact that the Admiralty — no doubt recalling its experi- ences at Gallipoli in 1915 — could not accept the feasibility of attacking fortified shore positions, despite Benson’s hopes in De- cember 1917. The Royal Navy continued the strategic blockade of Europe and its containment of the German fleet, but for these essential missions there was little need for additional capital ships. This was especially the case since an American force would have demanded logistical support by Allied shipping which was always in critically short supply. Admiral Badger of the

Secretarv’s Advisory Council, 1917-1918. Left to right: Ma/. Gen. George Barnett, Capt. William C. Watts, Asst. Sec. of Navy Franjdm D. B„n^^v/ii RAdm Samuel McGoivan, RAdm. Roberts. Griffin, RAdm. David W. Taylor, VAdm. William S. Benson, RAdm. Ralph Earle, Cdr. H. G. Sparrow, RMm. Charles W. Parks, RearAdm. Leigh C. Palmer, RAdm. William C. Bralsted, USN(MCj, and Sec. of Navy Josepus Daniels, m his office at’Navy Department. U.S. Navy photograph.

79 APpil IHRO



General Board also suggested one additional factor. Apparently referring to Benson’s offer of the entire Atlantic Fleet, he stated that the British “never wanted” such a force “over there under American command. They wanted the American aid to be in the way of reenforcements to their own fleet.”™

Aprominent theme in all of these issues was theisolation of American policy based on national self-interest and distinctive strategic concepts. In contrast to the model de- veloped by the British and Admiral Sims, Washington officials — often reflecting the personal views of President Wilson — did not believe that America’s primary role was to provide unqualified assistance to the Royal Navy. Instead, the United States fleet gave priority to establishing and supporting an independent American Army in France, an effort that was entirely separate from the defense of the mercantile convoys serving Great Britain or of the general defeat of the German U-boat. Naval officials were concerned to varying degrees with the defense of the conti- nental United States, preparedness to counter Japan in the Pacific, and an expected challenge from Japan, Germany, or even Great Britain in a conflict following the World War. There was basic disagreement on an offensive against the submarine bases and an attempt, that was only partially successful, to shape an aggressive campaign against these targets in accordance with

American concepts. These unresolved differences offer at least a partial explana-

tion for the pattern of American naval deployments which saw only a small percentage of the American Navy committed to the Allied maritime campaign in European waters.” But, of more fundamental importance, Anglo-American naval tensions de- monstrate once again the continuing independence of American policy in World War I despite the fact that, in her own way, the United States was committed to the defeat of Germany and the other central powers.

Dean C. Allard is a senior his- torian and archivist with the U.S. Naval Historical Center, Wash- ington, D.C. A graduate of Dartmouth Coilege, he received his Ph.D. degree from George Washington University. His pub- iished writings concentrate on 20th Century navai history and n’avai bibiiography. This article was accepted for publication in December 1978.

REFERENCES 1. See David F. Trask’s perceptive analysis in his Captains and

Cabinets: Anglo-American Naval Relations, 1917-1918 (Colum- bia: University of Missouri Press, 1972), 360-65; and William S. Sims, The Victory at Sea (Garden City: Doubleday, Page, 1920).

2. For general discussions of Anglo-American differences, see W. B. Fowler, British-American Relations, 1917-1918 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), and Seth P. Tillman, Anglo- American Relations at the Peace Conference of 1919 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961). This paper does not discuss maritime and mercantile rivalries which are emphasized in Jef- frey J. Safford, Wüsoman Maritime Diplomacy, 1913-1921 (New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1978); Edward B. Par- sons, Wilsonian Diplomacy (St. Louis: Forum Press, 1978); and Carl Parrini, Heir to Empire: United States Economic Diplo- macy, 1916-1923 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1969).

3. In addition to Trask and Sims, see the outstanding biography by Elting E. Morison, Admiral Sims and the Modern Am,erican Navy (Boston: Houghton Miffiin, 1942).

4. Trask, 83, 360, and Dean C. Allard, “Admiral William S. Sims and United States Naval Policy in World War I,” American Neptune, 35 (April 1975), 99-103.

5. Allard summarizes Sims’ views. See also Sims to Secretary of the Navy (16 July 1917), Subject File UP, Box 580, Record Group (RG] 45, U.S. National Archives.

6. Quoted in Julius A. Furer, Administration of the Navy De- partment in World War I! (Washington: GPO, 1959), 6-7. Sims’ dominance in shaping policy is suggested, for example, in Trask, 360-65.

7. Benson’s Anglophobia is indicated in Trask, 48, 361. Ben- son’s outlook seems to this author to be similar to the nationalism described in John Milton Cooper, Jr., The Vanity of Power: American Isolationism and the First World War, 1914-1917 (Westport: Greenwood, 1969), 3-4, 200, 203. See also the view of Benson in Safford, 224-47. There is no biography for Benson, but one is under preparation by Mary Klachko. Sims, who was no admirer of Benson, referred to Benson’s “inflexible honesty” in Sims to Pratt (9 Nov. 1917), Pratt Papers, Box 1, Naval History Division; and to his loyalty to his political superiors in Sims to Mrs. William S. Sims (4 Nov. 1918), Sims Papers, Box 10, Library of Congress. Benson’s sincere support of Wilsonian ideals is re- flected in Benson to Daniels (10 Nov. 1918), Box 66, Daniels Pap- ers, Library of Congress.

8. U.S. Cong., Senate, Naval Affairs Committee, Hearings Before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Naval Affairs (66thCong.,2ndSess.) (Washington: GPO, 1920), 1959 (hereafter cited as ¡Vaua! Investigation).


9. For Benson’s views, see ffa^al Investigation, 1843 and E. David Cronon, ed.. The Cabinet Diaries of Josephus Daniels, 1913-1921 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1963), 135 (hereafter cited as Daniels Diaries). For the outlook of the British and Sims, see Trask, 63, and Allard, 101.

10. General Board to Secretary of the Navy (28 April 1917), File 425, General Board Records, Naval History Division (hereafter cited as GB Records) ; Naval Investigation, 1340-42.

11. Trask, 79-90, 160, and AUard, 105. 12. Daniels to Wilson (3 July 1917), Box 110, Daniels Papers;

Trask, 127-28, 159-61; Wauai Investigation, 1083-85, 1167, 1471, 1482-83, 1561-62, and 1906; and Arthur J. Marder, Victory and Aftermath, Vol. V of From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow (Lon- don: Oxford University Press, 1970), 127.

13. The need for a national army is in, for example. Admiral Mayo’s statement in Naval Investigation, 610, and Thomas G. Frothingham, The Naval History of the World War: The United States in the War, 1917-1918 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926), 98-102. See also Daniels Diaries, 145. The Williams document is enclosed in Benson to Commander Destroyer Force Atlantic (29 May 1917), Area 11, Box 223, RG 45..The instructions to Sims are in Daniels to Sims (28 July 1917), Subject File UP, Box 580, RG 45. See also Navy Department to Sims (8 July 1917), Area 11, Box 223, RG 45; John J. Pershing, My Experiences in the World War (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1931), I, 48-49, %; Trask, 130,202-203 ; Sims message to Office of Operations (16 May 1918), Subject FUe UP, Box 580, RG 45; Trask, 202-203.

14. Pershing, I, 288-289, 388; Frothingham, 160n, 184, 160n, 161-62, 227-28. The British carried 49 percent of the troops and other nations 6 percent.

15. Ibid., 156-60,174,188-89,285; “Summaryof ActivitiesofU.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters,” n.d., ZO File, Naval History Division; Watia! investigation, 1003,1235-36,1630; and Albert Gleaves, A History of the Transport Service’ (New York: George H. Doran, 1921). Sims’ request for the trans- Atlantic destroyers is in Sims to Pratt (16 Nov. 1917), Pratt Pap- ers, Box 1.

16. Three officers (Wilson, Niblack, and Pratt) stress the na- tional independence of these forces in Naval Investigation, 902-03, 1028, 1256. See also Frothingham, 160, and “Summary of Ac- tivities of the U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters,” 57.

17. Naval Investigation, 1957, 196′?. 18. William Veazie Pratt, “Autobiography,” 204-205, 216-217,

Box 7, Pratt Papers. Benson makes the same point in Naval Investigation, 1956-57. See also Roland A. Bowling, “Convoy in World War II: The Influence of Admiral William S. Sims, U.S.




Navy” (MA thesis, San Diego State University, 1975), 209-216. An excellent biography of Pratt is Gerald E. Wheeler, Admiral Wil- liamVeazie Pratt,U.S. Navy: A Sailor’s Life (WasbingtOD-.GPO, 1974).

19. Wilson’s apprehensions are indicated in Arthur S. Link, Wilson: Campaigns for Progressivism and Peace (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965), 296, and Fowler, 246. For a masterful discussion of the two-ocean challenge, see William R. Braisted, The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1909-1922 (Au- stin: University of Texas Press, 1971), 162, 289, 309, 441-43. See also Chief of Naval Operations [Benson] to Secretary of the Navy, “Estimate of the Situation” (Feb. 1917), Box 46, Daniels Papers. William Veazie Pratt identifies himself as the author of this paper in Naval Investigation, 1311. For the 1917 study, see General Board to Secretary of the Navy (20 April 1917), File 425, GB Records. Fears of a British collapse are reflected in General Board to Secretary of the Navy (5 April, 28 April, and 3 May 1917), in Ibid., and Nauai Investigation, 1144. The long-standing fears of possible German aggression in the Caribbean are indicated in Richard D. Challener, Admirals, Generals, and American Foreign Policy, 1898-1914 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), 399-400. See also General Board to Secretary of the Navy (19 May 1917), File 425, GB Records. Braisted, 302 mentions these rumors.

20 See Naval Investigation, 1849-50. 21. General Board Hearings (19 Oct. 1917), 500-520, GB Re-

cords. Prptt ‘s quotation appears on 500. 22. Ibid., 490; Naval Investigation, 1880, 1904-1906. See also

Admiral FuUam’s comments in Naval Investigation, 705, and Braisted, 332-36. See Jellicoe to Lord Beatty (30 Nov. 1917), in A. Temple Patterson, ed.. The Jellicoe Papers (London: Naval Re- cords Society, 1968), II, 229-30.

23. For an excellent discussion of the Navy’s postwar con- cerns, see Warner R. Schilling, “Admirals and Foreign Policy, 1913-1919” (Ph.D. dissertation, Yale Umversity, 1953). Suspi- cions resulting from Japan’s limited participation in the war and the thinking until late in the conflict that Germany would emerge with her fleet intact are suggested by the comments in General Board Hearings (8 Jan. 1918), 30-31, GB Records ; Pratt to Chief of Naval Operations (28 March 1918), Box 1, Pratt Papers; and Planning Section London memorandum 21 (May 1917), Subject File TX, Box 567, RG 45. The Planning Section’s memorandum 65 (4 Nov. 1918) in ibid., refers to a British-Japanese combination.

24. See Benson’s views in Daniels Diaries, 137 and Daniels’ attitude in his letter to G.S. MacFarland (15 June 1917), Box 622, Daniels Papers. See also “The Present War, Viewpoint of the Office of Operations” (23 June 1917), Area 11, Box 223, RG 45; Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Apprenticeship (Boston: Little, Brown, 1952), 312-16; and Acting Secretary of State to American Embassy, London (28 July 1917), Area 11, Box 224, RG 45.

25. Message, Wilson to Sims (4 July 1917), Box 110, Damels Papers ; Wilson to Daniels (2 July 1917), Box 110, Daniels Papers ; Trask, 93-97, 131-132; Danieis Diaries, 191.

26. Arthur J. Marder, 1917: Year of Crisis, Vol. IV of From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), 231-35; Lady Wester Wemyss, The Life and Letters of Lord Wester Wemyss (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1935), 363-66.

27. Wilson is quoted in Donieis Diaries, 227; see also 223. For King’s summary, see General Board Hearings (17 Oct. 1917), 459, GB Records. The General Board dismissed the scheme in its letter to Secretary of the Navy (24 Oct. 1917), File 425-5, GB Records.

28. See Captain W. S. Pye’s testimony in General Board Hear- ings (16 Oct. 1917), 409-11, GB Records, and Jellicoe to Benson (Sept. 1917), in Patterson, 209-10. For Benson’s enthusiasm, see Charles Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House (Bos- ton: Houghton, ]VIifflin, 1928), III, 303.

29. Trask 176. N. Gordon Levin, Woodrow Wilson and World Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), is a general interpretation of WUson’s desire for world leadership. His aver- sion to following the British lead is indicated in Tillman, 16, and

30 Trask 181 includes the domination statement. House takes the same view in Daniels Diaries, 273. For the London Planning Section see Office of Naval Intelligence, Historical Section, The American Naval Planning Section London (Washington: GPO, 1923), V, 489-92, and Trask, 165-66.

31. Seymour, III, 236.

32. Noua! Investigation, 1163-64, 1169, 1497; Seymour, III, 299-300 ; General Board Hearings ( 19 Oct. 1917), 500, GB Records ; General Board to Secretary of the Navy (29 Aug. 1917), File 420-2, GB Records; Marder, 1917: Year of Crisis, 42-43.

33. Quoted in Seymour, III, 299. See also Seymour, 269; !Va!;a! Investigation, 1852.

34. Office of Naval Records and Library, The Northern Bar- rage and Other Mining Activities (Washington: GPO, 1920), 121-127. For a modern assessment of World War I mining, see Philip K. Lundeberg, “Undersea Warfare and Allied Strategy in World War I: Part II, 1916-1918,” Smithsonian Journal of History, I (Winter 1967), 65-67.

35. Naval Investigation, 1167. Marder refers to the increased effectiveness of the barrage and its British origins in Victory and Aftermath, 39-45.

36. Naval Investigation, 1850,1888-89,1923. The British under- took a daring but unsuccessful operation to block the Belgian ports in April 1918, but there is no indication they requested or needed American assistance. See Marder, Victory and After- math, 58-63. Washington naval authorities later attempted to launch an aerial bombing offensive against the German sub- marine bases in lieu of a surface ship assault. See General Board Hearings (23 Aug. 1918), 956, and General Board letters to Secret- ary of the Navy (26 Feb. and 30 March 1918), File 425-5, all in GB Records; and “Summary of Activities of U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters,” 50.

37. Another important factor was the incomplete status of the Navy’s mobilization of ships and men. At the end of the war, the Navy was still training many of its new personnel and preparing numerous new ships for service.


Bibliography Series Worthwhile bibliographies and in- dexes in military history and related topics Order from: Library Publica- tions. KSU Library, Manhattan, KS 66506. Standing orders for automatic shipment of new and revised publica- tions will be accepted. No. 6. N. K. Lambert. Cumulative Indices to

Military Affairs, 1937-1969. 1969 $2.50,

No. 8, Robin Higiiam. Official Histories; Es- says and Bibliographies from around file World. 1970. $12 00

No. 9. Artiiur D. Larson Civil-Military Rela- tions and Militarism; a Classified Bib- liography Covering the United States and Other Nations of the World; with Introductory Notes. 1971. $3.00.

No. 10. Alien R Milleti & B. F. Caaiing. Doctoral Dissertations in Military Affairs. 1972. Reprinted 1976 $7.50.

No. 11. John Greenwood American De- fense Policy since 1945; A Preliminary Bibliography. 1973. $4.95 Order from; University Press of Konsos. 366 Watson Library. Lawrence, Kansas 66044 U.S.A.

No. 12. W. E Young & J J Vander Velde. Cavalry Journal-Armor Cumulative In- dices, 1888-1968. 1974. $12.50.


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