News for Secretary




Discussion about terms of the armistice.


Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum





Document scan was taken from Library of Congress microfilm reel of the Wilson Papers. WWPL volunteers transcribed the text.


[{Handwritten at top] News for Secty


Naval Terms necessary for Armistice.

From: Secnav to Sims, October 9, 1918,

Opnav 2856 Your 6575 and 6574-- Very urgent,

The whole matter was done without consultation with the President and he feels that no instructions can be given you until he is informed by the Civil authorities of the Governments concerned of the purpose and significance of what they have done. 17009



From: Vice Admiral Sims, October 9, 1918

To: Operations, Navy Department

6575 Very urgent,

Following two messages received from Jackson at Paris-

First message “Prime Ministers Great Britain, France, and Italy have prepared certain terms of armistice with Central Powers and referred them to a meeting of military representatives of American, British, French, and Italian navies, Meeting held this morning and military and naval details drawn up and signed by all but General Bliss and Captain Jackson. General Bliss has cabled President asking power to sign for United States.

Following message gives the terms agreed to by the Naval representatives- Vice Admiral de Bon presiding, and accepted by joint body provided the President approves General] Bliss’ request for authority to sign, I request authority to sign”

Second message follows:

“All enemy surface ships, including monitors, river craft, etc., to withdraw to naval bases specified by Allies and remain there during armistice. Submarine warfare to cease immediately upon the signature of armistice. Sixty submarines of the type to be specified shall proceed immediately to specified Allied ports remaining there during the armistice. Submarines operating in North Sea and Atlantic Ocean shall not enter Mediterranean. Enemy naval air force to be concentrated in bases specified by Allies remaining there during armistice. Enemy to reveal position of his mines outside of territorial waters, and Allies to have the right to sweep such at there convenience. Enemy to evacuate Belgium and Italian coast immediately, leaving behind all naval stores and equipment. Austro-Hungarian navy to evacuate all ports in Adriatic Sea occupied by them outside national territory. Black Sea ports to be immediately evacuated and battleships and materials seized in them by the enemy delivered to the Allies. No material destruction to be permitted before evacuation. Present blockade conditions to remain unchanged and all enemy merchant vessels found at sea to be subject to capture.” 124809--6575

[Handwritten at bottom of page] Has been included in last dispatch

From: Sims to Opnav, October 9, 1918,

6574 my 6575

Have cabled Paris for full text of naval agreement as to the brief above quoted is not entirely clear in all respects. Possibly General Bliss may have cabled naval agreement more fully.

Proposed terms of armistice appear to me to be satisfactory in general, but believe no enemy naval force now away from home base should be permitted to return to such base, but should proceed to Allied port as hostages and that all enemy naval and airforces which may proceed to Allied ports should be definitely surrender to Allies in case terms of armistice are violated by enemy or in case armistice is followed by resumption of hostilities. Believe further that to prevent Germany increasing submarine forces she should be required to deliver to Allied during each month of armistice a number of submarines equal to her estimated building capacity, probably not less than fifteen. There to be treated the same way as vessels already delivered as hostages.



[Handwritten note] Included in 7956

Translation Operations XX--[. . . .]
From: Vice Admiral Sims
To: Opnav

7956 Your [....] My V1[. . ] After further study of this matter and consideration of proposals put forward at Paris Conference and proposals originating in British Admiralty submitted for our information and comment I desire to submit the following as a complete statement of the Naval terms recommended for inclusion in the terms in any armistice concluded with the Central Powers.

First: Enemy submarines to cease hostilities immediately upon the signing of the armistice.

Second: Enemy to lay no mines outside his own territorial waters during the armistice. Allies to
have the right to continue laying mines outside of enemy’s territorial waters.

Third: Enemy to do no mine sweeping outside his own territorial waters. Allies to be free to sweep for mines anywhere except in enemy territorial waters. Enemy to disclose the location of all mine fields laid by him outside his own territorial waters.

Fourth: Allied blockade and restrictions on seaborne commerce to continue as at present.

Fifth: Allied naval vessels to be employed outside enemy territorial waters in any desired manner not involving actual attack on enemy territorial vessels and property.

Sixth: Same restrictions and privileges to apply to our own aircraft as to Naval Vessels.

Seventh: Enemy Naval forces to evacuate: a) all coasts and ports of neutrals occupied or allied countries; b) All ports and coasts of disputed territory which by the terms of the armistice military forces are to evacuate including; c) the coasts and ports formerly included in the Empire of Russia
Note: Coasts and ports of countries in category (b) and (c) not to be occupied by Allies during the Armistice.

Eighth: No damage of any kind to be done by the enemy to any of evacuated coasts or ports before evacuation and no military stores munitions or provisions to be destroyed or to be removed before evacuation.

Ninth: All enemy Naval surface craft of all classes shall withdraw for the duration of the armistice to enemy waters or bases as follows: (a) Enemy vessels now in the North Sea, Baltic, or German home ports to the German Baltic ports; (b) Enemy vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, Adriatic Sea, Aegean and adjacent waters excepting the Black sea and its tributaries to Austrian Adriatic Seaports; (c) Enemy vessels in the Black Sea and its tributaries to remain in that sea. (d) Vessels formerly belonging to Russia and now in the possession of the enemy to be surrendered to the Allies at such place or places and under such conditions as may be prescribed by the allied commanders in chief in the North Sea and Mediterranean Sea. No damage of any kind to be done to these vessels by the enemy before surrender. Final disposition of these vessels to be determined by the treaty of peace.

Tenth: All enemy submarines, excepting only such of those under construction as are not yet launched, to be interned in Allied ports for the duration of the war. Final disposition of these to be determined by the treaty of peace.

Eleventh: All enemy naval aircraft to be concentrated at enemy base specified by the Allies, and to remain there during the armistice.

Twelfth: All naval and mercantile marine prisoners in the enemy’s hands to be returned in the shortest possible time, without reciprocity, and authorization to be given by enemy for the immediate release of naval and mercantile marine prisoners of the allies and of the United States, interned in neutral countries.

Thirteenth: The merchant ships of all nations at war with Germany now in enemy control to be handed over to the allies, without reciprocity, in ports or bases to be specified by the allies.

Fourteenth: All the above measures to be executed in the shortest possible time.

Fifteenth: In the above [....] or proposals wherever the word “Allies” or its derivative base was used it should be interpreted to include all the powers actively associated in the war against the Central Powers.

Copy of this telegram furnished to Admiral Benson.
Op-28 five. 6 20 pm October 25, 1918


{Handwritten at bottom of page} Memo for Secty--after careful consideration by Plans Section Opnav- I recommend the approval of this cable subject to following slight modifications as follows

Par. 8- omit-last two words “before evacuation”
Par. 7- add to Note “Except in the event of law and order and then only upon request of the local representatives [. . . .]

Original Format





Daniels, Josephus, 1862-1948, “News for Secretary,” 1918 October 9, WWP25249, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.