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Remembering World War I

The U.S. Navy arrives in Europe

via The American Battle Monuments Commission

Destroyer USS Wadsworth DD 60 arrives in Queenstown May 1917 NH 331On May 4, 1917 the USS Wadsworth, an American destroyer, arrived in Queenstown, Ireland to support the war effort. Image courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command.Not quite a month after the United States declared war, the first American warships arrived in Europe on May 4, 1917. The Germans had resumed unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917, leading to more than 800 Allied ships being sunk in a matter of months. Without escorts, these ships served as easy prey for the Germans. This warfare had reduced British grain stores to a critical three week supply. The Royal Navy urgently requested more destroyers for hunting submarines.

The destroyers’ arrival was due in part to the presence in England of an American naval mission headed by Vice Adm. William Sims. A few years before, then Capt. Sims was President of the Naval War College at Newport. Appointed by the first Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), William Benson, together they anticipated a transatlantic naval war involving new challenges and technology. Ashore and in exercises of the “War College Afloat” they studied the role of the Navy in modern war.

By 1917 Benson anticipated a naval campaign in European waters that would require a naval headquarters in England. Sims, with established reputation throughout the Navy, proved the ideal officer for that mission. He traveled to London under an assumed name, in civilian guise, arriving on April 2, 1917 with the intention of establishing direct contact between the United States Chief of Naval Operations, the Royal Navy, and other Allied naval forces.

Read the entire article on the American Battle Monuments Commission web site:

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