Entering the Danger Zone

May 2, 1918 – Full diary entry:

“One week at sea.

Sea is smoother. We will be in the danger zone tonight. Extra guard on tonight to watch for subs.

Wrote to Nora. I wonder if she will get it.”


I don’t have the letters Robert sent to Nora, but I do have quite a few letters that he wrote home to his mother and father.


I found a small collection of letters online written by another soldier to his sweetheart back at home, and as luck would have it, Lloyd Staley was on the Adriatic with Robert. Here’s a letter he wrote on May 1 1918:

Most anywhere on the Atlantic  May 1, 1918

My Dearest Mary,
It has been some time since I have written you but facilities for mailing of letters is rather limited I have found. I suppose I may expect you to get this some time this summer and, if I am lucky, I may get my answer by next winter.
I remember that today is May the 1st and that it is also your birthday. The best I can do is to write a letter from almost nowhere on earth. I certainly hope May 1st was a more pleasant day in K.C. than here. The sea has been a little rough for two days and this is a pretty sick bunch on board this ship. I have been able to keep going all the time and, aside from feeling disagreeable, I have been alright. I don’t like the looks of anything to eat, though, and don’t expect to until this ship gets across.
I have been sort of an orderly around the office since I have been here and I get to move around a little which keeps me doing something. All I want to do is to cross this water just once more, then I have no desire whatever to go on any more ocean trips.
We are going to have an athletic contest of some description tomorrow. There is a half-mile run scheduled so you see we have quite a ship. It won’t take very many turns around this deck to make the distance either.
There is little to write about, it seems. When I started to write, I thought I might be able to write quite a letter, but this trip is getting so frightfully monotonous that it takes all the pep out of one. The scenery is about the same all the time except it jumps a little higher and perhaps throws a little salt spray on you if you get too close.
     Another amusement we have is to watch the other ships and see how far they duck into the waves each time. Sometimes they are almost out of sight in a hollow between the waves. I used to think I might like the Navy but, if this is a sample, nothing to it for me.
Don’t be surprised or feel hurt if my letters are short. There is so much we can’t say that I usually tell you about and then conditions for writing of letters are going to be decidedly poor, I am afraid. I will write all that I can and as often as possible and I hope that you get them all O.K.
I wish you all sorts of good luck and happiness for your birthday. This seems like an inconsistency as you may get this in a month or two, but I am sure you know my thoughts of you tonight.
So I close with the best of love for the only little girl in the world for me,
Your own Lloyd

Where was Robert today? See the timeline.

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