United States

1918-6-11 to 6-12 Over the Sea

date 6-11 to 12

On YMCA AEF stationery (the first CMC used this)

YMCA AEF stationery,jpg


“Over the Sea.”

            I had read many glowing articles in out current magazines about “On Board a Troop Ship” by some correspondent who occupied a stateroom. Oh, what dreams we had of a pleasant journey aboard., but oh, how they were shattered. We had hoped to aboard one of the larger ocean goers. We had visions of state rooms and berths. Visions of calm and peaceful ocean breeze, but never fear we changed our mind we changed our mode of thinking the minute we hit the gang plank for the Liecestershire. This was a british liner. [*]

Leicestershire troop ship



I wondered how we were all going to board that ship. Certainly they would not treat us as sardines in a can. The stream of American humanity continued to




We all had our places assigned to us the evening of June eleventh. The ordinary civilian would laugh to see how we were crowed in that ship. We slept, ate and loafed in the same twelve nine square feet. The only thing that can be said in favor of such a condition is that everything was handy. That is everything was within reach.

Our allotted space in that ship, for eating, sleeping and loafing was what the average size man has in a home cemetery.

Our beds were the common ordinary hammocks. We hung these over the ceiling just above the tables. Backward and forward they went with each sway of the ship. These hammocks hung


in such a crowded that with every wave of the ship there would be a corresponding bump against the fellow trying to sleep next to you.

I could never symphathize so much with Noah and his animals on this troop ship. There was but little air to be had in our quarters below. Only an opening through the mid ship gave us air in our den beneath. I can’t see how all those animals lived with Noah for so long with so little air.

True there were port holes in the side of our ship but we did not dare open them since the water would dash through with every waft of the wind or every heave of the steamer.


            Just before we left to aboard our ship red Cross representatives passed about cards which we were to properly fill out, and have sent direct home as soon as we landed safely overseas. I have often wondered how these Red Cross representatives knew that we were going to land safely. Perhaps they got it over the wires. These reposts were always sent to our people before we crossed the Channel.

As we streamed out of our American port the morning of June 12th all were as quiet as a mouse. Orders had been given to allow no one on deck while we were leaving the harbor. Not a


missing–end of manscript


* LEICESTERSHIRE (1) was built in 1909 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 8059grt, a length of 467ft 2in, a beam of 54ft 2in and a service speed of 15 knots. Launched on 3rd June 1909 and delivered on 11th September she made her maiden voyage from Birkenhead to Rangoon. In August 1914 she was requisitioned for trooping for the Indian Expeditionary Force and carried Indian and Burmese troops to the Persian Gulf before reverting to Bibby services in the following November. She was taken over under the Liner Requisition Scheme in March 1917 and served on the North Atlantic [my color] although two voyages were made for Bibby’s during that time. In 1918 she carried troops to North Russia to assist the White Russians before repatriating Australian soldiers. She was refurbished by her builders in 1919 during which time she was converted to oil burning. As with all conversions to oil the coal bunker forward of the funnel was converted into cargo space and derrick posts fitted to serve the hatch. In 1930 she was sold to the British National Exhibition Ship Co., renamed British Exhibitor, and refurbished for her new role by Cammell Laird & Co. of Birkenhead at a cost of £100,000. When the slump hit her owners went into voluntary liquidation in February 1932 and she was laid up at Southampton for a year. On 28th September 1933 she was purchased by the Cairo based Egyptian Company for Transport & Navigation and, as the Zam Zam, was deployed on their Egypt to Jeddah service. In May 1934 she was transferred to Societe Misr de Navigation of Alexandria without a change of name. Laid up at Suez in October 1939 she resumed service on the Alexandria – Cape Town – New York service in February 1941. On 21st March 1941 she left New York bound for Recife where she embarked 202 passengers and sailed on 9th April. At 0545 on 17th April, although a neutral, she was hit by 55 shells fired by the German raider Atlantis in ten minutes during which around 24 lives were lost. Seven hours later she was sunk with three bombs along the waterline. The survivors were taken aboard the Dresden which proceeded to St. Jean de Luz. It later transpired that the commander of the Atlantis, Bernhard Rogge, recognised her as a Bibby ship and decided that she was disguised as a troopship. (Photo: Bibby Line Group)


1918-6-3 To Liverpool


To Liverpool, England.

             At Last when the dawn of June 3rd 1918 opened we were in readiness to aboard the train for New York City. Out company had been entertained by continuous rumor about our place of arrival in New York. The majority of our group started with the idea that we would remain at Hoboken, New Jersey until we sailed, which as will be seen later was another wild story.

That morning of June 3rd was a busy morning. Our boxes and barrack bags were all piled outside ready for the trucks to haul them to the train. The barracks were swept and our packs were gotten ready to sling over our shoulders


 at any minute at the order of march. [Inserted–] The sign “TO vent” [MSC—not clear] In speaking of cleaning the barracks, I should not neglect a word concerning our care in always cleaning and keeping barracks and roads clean after us. Our artillery regiment had this good name of being very particular in this respect.

The colonel with his adjutant finally came about that morning, gave us an inspection and inquired of each individual if he was ready to go. Of course every man responded affirmatively. Who would have the nerve to step out in front of that company and say that he was not ready, after he had trained for nine months with that same


group of men. I think that I am speaking for the whole group of boys when I say that we were ready—not only ready but willing. The boys would have been sadly disappointed had they missed the opportunity of crossing the sea.

After the Colonel inspected, the order march was given and we went directly to the train, which was in readiness for us on the track. All our seats were numbered and our names were written on or near each seat.

The sergeant was to have a seat to himself. As a rule sergeants in the U.S. army are treated just about the same by an officer as a private, and as a full


fledged American, I believe that is as it should be. The thing to be despised worst in the army is that thing relegated from medieval times, which we call class. I which that we might have an army without that word.

           In some respects the army is very democratic, in others it is very aristocratic. It is democratic, because every one when he is drafted or enlists is placed upon an equal basis. A common bum wears the same colored and the same priced suit as the millionaire—again that is as it should be, but just as soon as we cross the borderline in to the commissioned class, that democracy ceases and then aristocracy creeps in. They claim


 that it is necessary for discipline. That may be, but it is the most cutting thing to an American to withstand, that is to respect and obey a young man with bars on his shoulder, who perhaps was the employee of the private (American) [army?—msc] before the war. However, we can say that in most respects there was and is closer contact between the enlisted men and the commissioned officers than in any other army, unless it be the Canadian.

           We were disappointed that morning. Our train did not suit us. There were no sleeping cars save one and it was for the officers in charge. Surely there had been a mistake! We were to travel three days without sleep. Oh! well we


 later in our army experience that we were treated like lords on that trip.

            Our departure from camp was in some respects a sad one. We knew that our week end passes had come to an end, and that probably we would never see our people again before the war ended. Very few of us ever dreamed but what we would come back. If we look at the army statistics and note the casualties we will notice that the names recorded there are many in comparison to the time we were in the fight. We Knew, though that those who died  did not do so in vain—rather the opposite. We were not permitted to  Friends were not permitted to visit the leaving trains.


1918-6-3 To Liverpool


 To Liverpool, England

On the day of our departure, we had our barracks bags all piled in a heap each with the owners name sewed on the side. Our packs were ready to throw on our backs. Being ready for the final word to march and aboard the train it finally came. Our colonel came and gave us our final camp inspection and asked each of us if we were ready to go. Of course we all answered in the affirmative. It would have been too bad if, after 9 months training for many of us, we were not ready to go. If we were willing was an entirely different question. However we were all willing and ready.

We march in squad formation to the trains and there we found seats marked for each member of our company. I was in the Headquarters Company. The Sergeants


were to have a seat to himself and the remainder were to fill the seats as full as possible. Of course the officers had their private car.

Our train was a disappointment to us. For several days we had watched the troop trains leave the track and all had sleeping coaches for the men, but to our chagrin and disappointment we had nothing but day coaches—and three days journey! We thot we had been neglected and surely there must have been a mistake, but later in our army experience we decided that we were treated like Dukes on our Journey from camp to New York City.

As the train pulled [manuscript ends]


1918-6-5 (up to) Camp Sherman to Camp Mills


As the engine began to puff yells of joy were heard from most of the boys who were on the train. Every one seemed happy they were soldiers. The train windows were open. The boys were anxious that they be seen by those along the road. They were all proud men and had a right to be.

             All along our journey we were conscious of the fact that the people were with us. All the pretty girls, the old ladies, the men young and old along the way shouted and watched our train until it proceeded from their sight. Many were the men I saw who the minute he saw out troup train would cease their work, take their hats off and shout words of encouragement and good


cheer. I remember one old gentleman who was working in the fields of New York. He was hoeing corn. The minute he saw us he dropped his hoe, threw his hat in the air and cheered us as long as we could see him. I thot to myself “that man surely has a son in the army,” or perhaps he may be a Civil War veteran.

            You know a Civil War veteran has more feeling for a soldier than most Americans, because he has more experience in common with them. They can understand the hardships of a soldier better than the average civilian. More attention more tribute should be paid these old patriots and veterans than is paid to them. I do


 not know how it is all over America, but I do know the condition in many parts that I have visited, but as a general rule it is difficult even to have a respectable group to help these old men do honor to their dead comrades on Decoration Day. Such a condition should not exist. If anything many of these men suffered more than the majority of the present day warriors.

            We did not go hungry on this trip thru to the coast. In fact we had to much to eat. We had a good mess sergeant and he saw to it that we had enough grub prepared for our journey. In addition to all this the Red Cross societies would give us sandwitches, coffee cakes etc. One particular place


one that I shall always remember is Rochester New York. The Red Cross Organization, there as it always is was thoroughly efficient in their work. They were so liberal with their “eats” that we really had too much. We were so well pleased that we wrote a letter of thanks to the leader of that organization. Since that we have had occasions time and again to thank these good people for the work that they did for the boys in France.

Through town after town we traveled. All were tired. We were crowded in the cars. We got all the sleep possible. Card games and reading furnished amusement for the men. Many letters of farewell were


also written. We had been cautioned from time to time by our officers about disclosing our intention of leaving camp soon. Not a word was to be written about the time of our departure for the coast. However after we were on our way permission was given to write and tell the home folks that we had started towards France. We thought, at least we were going to France. Some said we might go to Italy… Nobody knows anything definite in the army. Sometimes the Private knows more than the general about the planning of troop movement, however that is rare. There is a [‘n’ appears to be crossed out] old familiar saying in the army that an order is never given unless a counter order follows, and that is true [trouble reading last word].


            We finally arrived at a little town outside of New York City. I have forgotten the name. There we halted until about 12 o’clock at night. We wanted to enter New York or Jersey City early in the morning. I do not know the reason, unless we were ahead of our schedule. Perhaps they objected to our entering the city at night [other constructions possible]. Our entertainment there. Our walks occasional.

Any how we arrived in Jersey City on the morning of June 5th. There was a boat was waiting to transport us to the Island. Many of us paid our first and last respects to the Statue of Liberty that morning.

The music of our band—the band accompanied us the entire route to France–


comes back to me. As we followed the Hudson, the band played the old familiar tune of Sailing, Sailing Over the Deep Blue Sea” and “The Yanks are coming.” The band helped to keep us in good spirits all along the way.


We landed on the Island about noon of June 5th  [Battery D says 6-4]. From there we proceeded by train to Camp Mills, Hempstead New York.



Camp Mills location--larger

Camp Mills location--small



This was only a temporary camp, fitted for troops who were making ready to embark eastward. Some of the boys were not adequately clothed and here the issue of clothing for overseas duty was completed insofar as possible.

There were no permanent


barracks here. We lived in squad tents. This experience was new to some of the boys. Of course the majority of the men were housed under canvass while at the artillery range at Pride, Ohio. This town was located about 12 miles from Chillicothe and all our target practicing in artillery was done there. The town itself needs no description because there was no town there save two or three houses. It is one of the most desolate places on earth. [in margin] Only the smiling face of the grocer’s daughters tended to enlighten the dreary place, and a couple or three sergeants [?] had a monopoly on them. [in other margin] It would be an ideal setting of a “movie” with Fatty Arbuckle.

We were certainly sure of leaving Camp Mills soon. All the work of preparation for sailing was hurried. Many inspections were made to determine whether or not the lads had all the necessary clothing.


Passes were given to many to visit N.Y. City. I imagine that many of our boys visited the city without passes. The military police were not strict in New York at this time, and one was not running as much risk he some took when they later visited Paris. I remember that our company cook took a trip to New York without permission and he was detected in some way and placed under arrest. He was very soon released. We could not do without our head cook.

I know a few who went AWOL in N.Y. while we were at Camp Mills who were not caught. I know that I was one among many. I went Saturday morning and did not


return till twelve that night, and an certainly glad I did since the passes were stopped the following day. I might say that it is generally considered an honor to do the thing forbidden in the army, providing you are not caught doing it. If everyone were punished who disobey the laws as laid down in the army law book, surely all the officers and men would have charges preferred against them.

It seemed that our entire journey to France and yes to the Rhine, it was one predetermined program of our leaders not to take the troops through a large city. Just about as we were nearing a city we would begin to turn to the right or left of it. There were many reasons for such planning, and I suppose one of the great reasons were due to the prevalent congestion in cities. Perhaps better time could be made by going around such a city. Then too it would be dangerous to take the boys thru the cities, since they might drop off, get tired and be lost.

We were instructed at this place to have our mail addressed in the following manner:

Private Andrew Jones

324 Heavy Field Artillery

American Expeditionary Force

Via New York City

At last June eleventh found us breaking up camp. Orders were given to make ready to make a quick departure to the transport.

[end of document]


Camp Mills

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Camp Mills was a military installation on Long Island, New York. It was located about ten miles from the eastern boundary of New York City on the Hempstead Plains near Garden City.

It was named in honor of Major General Albert L. Mills, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Spanish-American War. Initially it was established as temporary tent camp in September 1917 as a place to mobilize the 42nd Division, made up of National Guard units from various states. After the 42nd left for the Western Front in France, the 41st Division followed, occupying the camp from October to November 1917. It was then ordered to be abandoned, but reestablished April 4, 1918, as a part of the Port of Embarkation at Hoboken, New Jersey for troops in transit, working as such until Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. It was then used as a point of debarkation for those returning from Europe. In 1919, the camp was ordered to be abandoned and sold, although operations continued until March 31, 1920, when garrison troops were transferred elsewhere. In 1938 Camp Mills was incorporated into Mitchel Field as part of an Air Corps expansion.

A monument to the Rainbow Division in Garden City near the site of Camp Mills was restored and then rededicated on November 11, 2004.



▪   Swanson, Robert Domestic United States Military Facilities of the First World War 1917-1919


External links

▪   Long Island Studies Institute

▪   UNH: Historic USGS Map “Camp Mills Quadrangle”, Surveyed 1897 (southeast quadrant)

Coordinates: 40°43′28″N 73°36′38″W

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