Protecting the Adriatic, Protecting Elinore

May 5, 1918 – Full diary entry:

“Got up at 4 again.

Nine submarine chasers met us today, so we feel much safer. On guard again. The weather is warm and the sea calm.

Men not in the Army do not appreciate their freedom.”

I, for one, am learning to appreciate our veterans’ sacrifices through this project. 

Robert started a letter to his mother on April 24 – the day he left Camp Mils and boarded the Adriatic – and I will post some of this in a future entry. The letter contains a postscript, however, that was written when he was “nearly across [the ocean]” that is worth including here:

“I have enjoyed the trip in a way but prefer dry land. It will be quite an experience tho. The weather has been nice.

Can’t you take care of Elinore till I get back? Insist that she stay with you. I worry about her. 

Love to all

Rob”

This is one of the first hints at the relationships between Robert, his parents, and Elinore. I’ve speculated earlier that Robert’s parents, John and Jane, may not have been thrilled about the marriage and its circumstances. I suspect they were not enthusiastic about taking care of their son’s pregnant wife.

From Chaplain Edwards in From Doniphan to Verdun: The Official History of the 140th Infantry (as a reminder, the chaplain was on a different ship in the same convoy with Robert):

As we neared the coast of the north of Ireland, a number of submarine chasers dashed up, for all the world like a pack of hounds. They were a very welcome sight, as we realized that we were approaching the danger zone. The men watched their speedy evolutions and marvelled at them. Suddenly the ship was shaken by a tremendous explosion. The sensation was exactly as if the Shropshire had been struck a fearful blow below the water line. Almost everyone thought we had been torpedoed, and the the men rushed on deck, impelled not by fear but by curiosity, crying “Where is the sub?”

It turned out that depth bombs had been dropped on a submarine, or on aj floating spar that was merely a bit of wreckage. Not until long afterwards was the truth discovered. Then in censoring the letters of the men, and reading letters of the officers that were published, it was learned that we had met and destroyed a whole fleet of submarines, the number variously estimated at from four to twelve.

Where was Robert today? See the timeline.

Next: The 140th Arrives

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