Gregg wrote this letter to his parents, James B. and Mary Needham Gregg, on board a World War I troop ship. He remarks, "I
never thought I'd see an heroic age . . . "
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
7 (194,061 Bytes)
1917-10-13 (October 13, 1917)
Gregg, James B.
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
World War I
Box Number: 5
Folder Number: 5
Oct 13 1917
Dearest Pa and Ma:--
Today is pretty rough and cold--and as the impromptu band plays "Over there" and other war songs I sit in the library
with many others writing letters to be posted on our arrival.
The voyage has been somewhat trying in the past two days--before that it could not have been smoother. But now a northwest
wind that is 1st cousin to a gale has been blowing for 12 degrees and the result is a sea that would make launching
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life boats the quickest way to become immortal. Such a sea makes the operations of submarines less easy--but we are in the
danger zone now and notice has been posted that if you are careless enough to fall overboard the ship won't stop to fish
you out--time is too precious. This is a trip I wouldn't give up for anything--I can't explain why. I never thought
I'd see an heroic age--but when you crawl up forward at night and watch the water you are
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ploughing on into for mines or periscopes and see the distant feeble gleam of another ship ahead, or when you see a huge steamer
painted gray black yellow and green in huge zebra--lightning patterns so that you can hardly make out any decks or say where
it begins or ends--or when several other things occur to you during the day which can't be told about, and in days where
the feeble glow of your wrist watch is deemed sufficient cause for keeping off
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the deck at night--you realize that the fabric of things is rather thin in places. There is a certain signal given for life
boat drill--and it is noted that in case we strike a mine this signal would usually be preceded by the explosion! We sleep
in clothes tonight and tomorrow, and wear kapok life preservers to lunch etc.
Yesterday a sudden and violent roll of the boat broke enormous amts of crockery 1st and 3rd class and created a most amusing
moving picture scene in the lounge and the Smoker.
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I was in the lounge--a man was playing the violin and two girls were playing checkers, others were reading etc. The accompanist
fell off his stool hit the violinist in the knees: they made the rest of the room on their faces with the violin held as high
above the general wreckage as possible. The checkers game was hit by a wandering house-palm and the players spent their time
dodging tables and embracing posts. In the smoker all the poker hurried across the room in
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an avalanche followed by beer and cards crachoirs and finally men and tables. One very fat lieutenant put all his faith on
the fixedness of a spittoon and stayed with it faithfully across the hall!
I have read Joseph Vance--for the first time any DeMorgan. I found it not very interesting--I am not old enough to appreciate
so much self-pitying retrospection nor the self consciousness of it.
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The American Express Co's inefficiency is responsible for my duffle bag's not being in New York when I arrived at
the wharf--so I shall have to wait in London till it comes. The Unit people in Cambridge sh'd have sent it earlier.