Homeward Bound

April 15, 1919

Robert didn’t write a specific diary entry or letter today, but his abbreviated timeline at the end of the diary included this note:

Sailed Apr. 15th. Mighty glad to leave.

Chaplain Edwards, in From Doniphan to Verdun, is still on the job:

The rest, the sea air, the food and the amusements combined to put the men in good shape. It was a healthy, hearty, fine looking regiment which embarked on the Nansemond. The illustration shows some of the men on the way to the boat from camp – their last march.

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On April 15th, we boarded the Nansemond. She had been a Hamburg-American freighter, the Pennsylvania, and was re-christened the Nansemond by Mrs. Woodrow Wilson when the United States took possession. The men said that the same person who figured out that the French box cars had room for “40 hommes” had arranged the berthing space in the Nansemond.

70th Brigade Headquarters, all of the 140th Infantry and a part of the 139th together with a large company of sick casuals, were crowded aboard the ship. It was difficult to keep passage ways open, and the sentences “Move on there! You can’t stand there” were constantly heard. But the men were happy, they were homeward bound, and they made the best of the situation.

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Nansemond was named for a county and river in Virginia.

From history.navy.mil:

Nansemond (No. 1395), formerly Pennsylvania of the Hamburg-American Line, was built in 1896 by Hartland & Wolff, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and taken over by USSB in 1917. Nansemond served in the Army Cargo and Transport Service throughout the war before being transferred to the Navy and commissioned 20 January 1919 at Hoboken, N.J., Lt. Comdr. W. MacLeod, USNRF, in command.

Assigned to NOTS, Nansemond departed Now York 4 February laden with Army supplies. She arrived St. Nazaire 16 February, discharged her cargo, and sailed 26 February for home carrying returning troops of the AEF, arriving Newport News 11 March 1919. During the next four months Nansemond continued in the Transport Service returning troops and convalescents of the AEF, making one turnabout run in thirty-two days.

Upon returning to New York in August she decommissioned on the 25th and returned to USSB. She was scrapped in 1924.

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Here’s Robert on the passenger list:

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Chaplain Evan Edwards, author of From Doniphan to Verdun: The Official History of the 140th Infantry:

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Sgt. William Triplett, author of A Youth in the Meuse-Argonne:

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The newly promoted Lt. Colonel Fred Lemmon:

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Lt. Leo Silverstein:

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Bert Brown, immortalized in Robert’s snapshot:

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A few characters from Robert’s story missed this ship and sailed out in May after being hospitalized. Here’s Robert’s friend Christ Igelkjon, who baked Robert a cake, on the Madawaska:

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Pat Greene, of “Pat & Bert” fame, sailed on the Pastores:

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Lt. Ralph Leroy Ware, later promoted to Captain, stayed in France until September and sailed home on the Leviathan:

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