World War I had been raging for more than two and a half years by the time the United States entered the conflict a century ago, on 6 April 1917. At the time, Rear Admiral William S. Sims was on his way to London.
As David Kohnen describes in our cover story, “The U.S. Navy’s Great War Centurion,” Sims’ assignment was to serve as an intermediary between the Navy Department and the Admiralty, but he often exceeded orders and soon rose to Commander, United States Forces Operating in European Waters. During his tenure in Britain, “Sims shattered the Navy Department’s organizational routines, first by articulating the unspoken strategic reality of an Anglo-American naval alliance and then by pioneering operational ties between the British and U.S. navies,” the author writes.
Sims was a longtime friend of First Sea Lord Admiral John Jellicoe and an unrepentant Anglophile. A revealing prelude to Kohnen’s article is how in 1910 Sims loudly broadcast the latter, and President William H. Taft took notice.