|Captain W.S. Sims in special full dress uniform|
Two months into his presidency, Sims was sent to London to work with the British Royal Navy prior to the entry of the United States in World War I. He stayed in Europe after the United States declared war in April 1917. The college suspended operations for the duration of the war. Sims was subsequently promoted to admiral and appointed Commander in Chief, United Naval Forces, Europe.
Although it meant a reduction in rank, after the war Sims requested that he resume his responsibilities as President of the Naval War College. Ordered to resume his previous position on 11 April 1919, Sims remained president until his retirement from the Navy on 14 October 1922. During his presidency, the college was reorganized into four major departments: command, strategy, tactics, and correspondence. Sims was also responsible for establishing civilian positions within the college staff that would facilitate more continuity in shaping courses at the college. A vocal critic of the Navy's conduct of the war, Sims also wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Victory at Sea.
Sims may have purchased the coat (made in London) and the epaulets (made in Paris), shortly after he arrived for special duty in England in 1917. Six months later, the Navy issued General Order 328 suspending the use of the special full dress uniform. On 13 October 1922, just one day prior to Admiral Sims’s retirement, the Navy discontinued the special full dress uniform. It was replaced by a new dress uniform which included a frock coat rather than the tail coat.
Artifacts on loan from the Naval Heritage and History Command
Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum