Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spoleto Diary, Part I

World War  I in the Adriatic Sea—Part I

Adriatic Sea

Most Americans think of World War I as a battle of soldiers in trenches across France, but in the Adriatic Sea battle was raging also.  The “Otranto Barrage” was a sea barrier set up by the allies to prevent German and Austro-Hungarian submarines from leaving the Adriatic and entering the Mediterranean Sea.
            When the American Navy arrived in 1917, the British, Italians, Austro-Hungarians, French and Australians had been here for years.  American forces were in destroyers and the “Splinter Navy”—wooden submarine chasers rushed into production with the urging of the Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in order to combat the threat of German and Austro-Hungarian submarines.
            I came across the handwritten journal of a young American sailor, and that got me interested in this lesser-explored part of World War I.  Below are notes from the journal of Charles Goodwin, and then excerpts from others stories by sailors who served aboard other American subchasers.
            Sailors among us will recognize a lot of things that never seem to change as these men endure some truly miserable conditions, incredible stupidity and ineptness, bravery, world-class wartime bureaucracy, and fun.

Photo of crew of Subchaser 346

Days in the life of a young Sailor aboard a Submarine Chaser in Split, Austria (now Croatia) just after World War I ended, in 1918-1919.  Charles Goodwin is among the forces there that are supervising the disassembly of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  It’s cold, and the food is not great, but at least the barrage is over.  He writes:

            “This afternoon I went ashore. In the harbor of Spalato (Now called “Split”) beside the Isreal (USS Israel, DD98) and the Italian destroyer there are two French destroyers, an old English light cruiser, and the English sloop Veronica and the destroyer Martin. Both of which used to work on the Otranto barrage with us. The Veronica is a “kite balloon” sloop and I believe she is the one that fired at us one night on the barrage, thinking we were a submarine. The dope on the Radetzky remains the same, that we leave the last of the month.
As for weather it is cloudy and blowing a gale. A night like this makes one think of the barrage and thank heaven the war is over. Those bad days and nights on the barrage are ones we never will forget. Rolling, tossing, pitching till it seemed as if we would break in two, every sea sweeping over the deck and sometimes almost up to the bridge; those were bad times. Everything below soaking wet, lockers, deck and cushions… almost impossible to eat anything if we had it and the noise of the water and the pitching of the ship making sleep out of the question and a very difficult matter to even stay in your bunk; oh those were the happy days! Days like these began the last of September. The worst barrage I was on was around Oct. 6. It started in rough and the second day it was terrible. Laying to, drifting we would take water aboard. It is recorded in the ships log that we rolled 47°. I remember that I was on watch from 4 to 8 am. About 6 o’clock the S.O. (Signal Officer) sent a message to take shelter under Fano (Fanò) Island. We were only about 25 miles away as there were only three units out that trip, twelve chasers being at Durazzo, (now in Albania) and we were covering the two middle positions. Well, we got underway and it took us about 8 hours to cover those twenty five miles. The three boats were only 50 or 75 yard apart and at times we couldn’t see either of the other two. I had the phones on until about 10:30. Karr was asleep in the bunk or was trying to sleep, he being pretty tired out having had a rather bad midwatch and I did not wake him. Merriman was supposed to have the 8 to 12 but he had gone below before we got under way and it was so bad he couldn’t get back.”

Austro-Hungarian Battleship Radetzsky

Goodwin and his mates will board the defeated Hungarian battleship Radetzky and sail her to Italy for scrapping
            The background: Between September 15 through 29th, 1918 French General Louis Franchet d'Espèrey in command of a large allied army campaigned in Macedonia. The offensive was a victory and ended with Bulgaria's surrender. Fearing the remaining enemies would fall back on the Austrian held port of Durazzo for supplies, D'Esperey requested that an allied naval fleet be assembled to attack Durazzo and thus prevent the city from supplying retreating enemy forces. D'esperey's request was approved and the Italian Regia Marina accepted the opportunity to lead the attack. Rear Admiral Carlo Paladini in the armored cruiser San Marco was to command the operation.
            Allied objectives were to bombard Durazzo and attack Austrian ships in the harbor if there were any. The Allies divided their fleet into two forces, one for bombardment and the other for screening the attacking ships from enemy submarines. Allied forces included one Italian dreadnought battleship, the Dante Alighieri, which was assigned to the covering force, three Italian armored cruisers, three Italian light cruisers, five British light cruisers, fourteen British destroyers, two Australian destroyers, eight Italian torpedo boats and twelve American submarine chasers.           
            Before the battle began, the Austro-Hungarian government decided to withdraw most of their warships from Durazzo. Only two destroyers, one torpedo boat and two U-boats opposed the allied fleet though the Austrian troops on shore manned at least three different shore batteries which dueled with the allied ships. Also in port was a hospital ship.
            The Second Battle of Durazzo began in the morning on October 2, 1918, British and Italian aircraft attacked first by bombarding enemy troop concentrations and artillery batteries while the fleet was still steaming across the Adriatic. Afterwards several of the Italian and British cruisers formed a two-echelon line to begin their bombardment from about 8,000 yards off the coast.
             The three ships sailed back and forth around Durazzo harbor firing their guns and dodging torpedoes and shell fire. Torpedo boat No. 87 and the two destroyers were chased by the Allied destroyer force as they fled north along the coast, but they managed to escape after taking some damage. The shelling of the port was carried out by the Italian armored cruisers San Giorgio, San Marco and Pisa. Three merchantmen, the Graz, Herzegovina and the Stambul were hit. Stambul sank and the two others were damaged but escaped complete destruction. The Austro-Hungarian hospital ship, the Baron Call, was stopped, searched and then allowed to proceed by British destroyers. Most of the American forces were assigned to the covering force and at the battle's beginning were used to chart a clear path through a sea mine field off Durazzo. A few of the submarine chasers took fire from shore batteries at this time but none were damaged. Afterward they were assigned to screen the other allied ships from submarine attacks. Patrolling to the north and to the south of the battle area, the Americans engaged the two Austro-Hungarian U-boats SM U-29 and SM U-31. At 11:05, a sailor on the submarine chaser No. 129 spotted U-29 which was then depth charged for fifteen minutes and damaged heavily but she survived the encounter.
            U-31 was also depth charged and survived as well. At one point No. 129 was fired on by the enemy shore batteries, the closest shot landed about fifty yards from the vessel but the Americans suffered no casualties in the battle. Later American forces reported sinking the two submarines but this was not so. The submarines managed to damage at least one allied light cruiser; the HMS Weymouth was struck by a torpedo from U-31, which blew off a large portion of her stern and killed four men. Weymouth was shelling inland facilities along with four other British cruisers when the torpedo struck home. She spent the remainder of the war under repair. The other British light cruisers are known to have been lightly damaged by shore battery fire before they were silenced or disabled. A British destroyer was also hit by a torpedo. The battle ended by 12:30 am on October 2 and from the beginning of the action civilians fled the city and by October 11 the once busy port was silent. A few days after that a Serbian army was landed and took control.
 The Otranto Barrage was an Allied naval blockade of the Otranto Straits between Brindisi in Italy and Corfu on the Albanian side of the Adriatic Sea in World War I. The blockade was intended to prevent the Austro-Hungarian Navy from escaping into the Mediterranean and threatening Allied operations there. The blockade, or rather the fleet capital ships in support of it, was effective in preventing surface ships from escaping the Adriatic, but it had little or no effect on the submarines based at Cattaro.
            The ease with which German and Austrian submarines continued out of the Austro-Hungarian ports in spite of the barrage (and the success they had in disrupting shipping in the whole of the Mediterranean) strongly embarrassed the Allies, the system being called "a large sieve through which U-boats could pass with impunity". In 1917–1918, reinforcements from the Australian and American navies brought the blockading force up to 35 destroyers, 52 drifters and more than 100 other vessels.  But submarines continued to slip through until the end of the war, while only the introduction of the convoy system and better coordination amongst the Allies helped to cut the losses they were causing.

The Personal Navigator offers these books and papers:

"Texas" Jack Buckler

 "Texas" Jack Buckler, Army's Triple Threat Back--Army's Hope in their game with the Navy   ca. 1933 1 sheet            21.5 x 28 cm. Original sports drawing features West Point's Star Left Halfback, "Texas" Jack Buckler who was named All-American in 1933.    Original drawing, minor wrinkle, good.    (8243) $49.00.  Sports/Educational                                 

Christian Herald, The and Signs of Our Times, New York, NY Thursday, May 5, 1887 1887 New York, NY: Christian Herald, 63 Bible House. 16 pp. 25 x 30 cm. "The Late Mr. Robert Simpson"--the Veteran Christian Merchant of Glasgow (see portrait on page one). Simpson began a dry-goods business in Trongate, Glasgow (a view of which appears on the first page). While still succeeding in business he began to study for the ministry. He preached the Gospel, and over 40 years was responsible for raising 8 to 10 churches all over Scotland.  In 1832 he threw himself into the temperance movement and in 1870 joined the Good Templars' Order as it was introduced to Scotland. "Mr. William Quarrier"--the George Muller of Scotland. Poor lad grows up, becomes successful, is converted, tries to convert his poor, widowed mother.  He finally converts her, just before she dies. Quarrier formed the first Shoeblack brigade, went on to build homes for orphans. "Probable End of Mohammedanism at the End of this Century"  Rev. A.B. Simpson, Pastor of Tabernacle, 45th St. & Madison Ave. in NYC, quotes prophecies of Daniel --- Moslem religion will cease to exist by 1900. Oriental Christianity has become as thoroughly corrupt as the Roman Papacy. Picture of Rubaga, Capital of Uganda, Central Africa. Ads for Warner Bro's. Coraline Corsets, Royal Baking Powder and Henry Ward Beecher's authentic and authorized Biography.     Newspaper, good. (8236) $15.00. Religious
Caylor System Baseball Score Book, in Accordance with National League Requirements, No. 3--44 Games ca. 1925 Boston, MA: James W. Brine Company, 286 Devonshire Street. Very nice rare Boston baseball memento. James W. Brine Athletic Goods Baseball Score Book with instructions for scoring by O.P. Caylor's System.  Scorecards filled in, dated 1928 to 1941. Teams Mishe Mokwa (summer camp?), Milton, Middlesex, Ayer, Groton, Concord, St. Mark's, Belmont, Belmont Hill, Dartmouth at Harvard (1939), West Concord. Advertising for James W. Brine Official League Baseballs (Guaranteed for 18 innings), sweaters, all kinds of highest quality athletic goods. . 92 pp.         20.5 x 14 cm. Maroon cloth on board, "Whitney Cook" written on cover and on title page. Inside front hinge repaired with binding tape.  Inside rear hinge cracked. Cover shows wear, inside also. Fair. (7358) $60.00. Advertising/American Originals

Certificate of Appointment of Lieutenant Francis Burbank to Vermont Militia, 1815 by Martin Chittenden, Esq., Seventh Governor of Vermont. 1815 Montpelier, VT: State of Vermont. Seventh Governor of Vermont, Martin Chittenden (1763-1840) also Captain-General and Commander in Chief of State signed this appointment of War of 1812 veteran to Lieutenant of 5th Company, 3rd Regiment, First Brigade and Second Division of State Militia on July 22, 1815.  On reverse is signed statement by Burbank in which he "solemnly swears to support the constitution of the United States"; attested to by C. Roberts, Brigadier General. According to records, Burbank was drafted to serve in 1812.  Also on reverse is discharge of Burbank in 1819, also signed by Brigadier General Roberts.  Martin Chittenden was governor 1813-1815, which included a crucial portion of the War of 1812.  Document is sealed with State Seal, with motto "Freedom & Unity". 1 sheet  32 x 19.5 cm. Paper certificate with seal of State of Vermont, good. (8062) $200.00.  Ephemera/History

Clubwoman's Diary, 1953  Boston, MA: ephemera. This lady is the ultimate clubwoman-- her diary is a list of meetings of VFW Auxiliary, Navy Mothers, Church groups, A.U.W.(Ass'n of Univ. Women?), Republicans, Parent Teachers, Scouts, and more.  Son Don is off to the Navy, and is sailing from Boston, to Able Station, Greenland, other spots. Vacation at Skowhegan.  This little diary contains usually short entries in one year of the life of a very busy woman.  7 x 10.6 cm. Small red leather standard diary. Very good. (8006) $20.00. American Originals/Diary

General Store Ledger kept from 1850 to 1853, used again 1878-1884.  Large ledger, only 57 of some 300 pages are filled out, most with daily records of sales of sugar, butter, lard, molasses, potatoes, tea, sundries, candles, tobacco, soap, raisins, cheese, flour, rice, vinegar, crackers, eggs, onions, codfish, lemons, Salaeratus, tomatoes, segars, apples, peaches, buckwheat, etc. Pasted inside front cover is a piece of paper listing steamboat fares from various ports in Ireland to Liverpool. E.g. "Dublin to Lpool 1,,00; Cork to Lpool, 2,,50." 57 pp. 19 x 32 cm. Nice calfskin leather covered journal with four ribs in spine, edges frayed, good. (6925) $55.00. American Originals

Inskrifningsbok (1902 års applaga) for Bard, Ernst Johan Leonard, Född 13 okt. 1882 [Swedish inscription book] 1905 Jönköping, Sweden: Personal papers.  Inscription book in Swedish, containing military service record of Ernst Johan Leonard Bard of Jönköping, Sweden indicate he served in an artillery regiment in 1903-04. Inserted in book are several papers, including letter in Swedish, a sheet of information from Svenska Amerika Linien for passage aboard Motorfatyget "Gripsholm" from Göteborg to Halifax and New York; A letter from (?) the Ford motor dealer in Skillingaryd dated 08-19-1930  about Herr E.J. Bard's car registration; Flyttningsbetyg document (flyttar till Amerika)  for E.J.L. Bard den 24 Mars 1906; and a Swedish Traffic Insurance Policy for Herr Bard, dated 1930. 56 pp. 10 x 17 cm. Book, paper on board cover, very good, with cloth pocket containing listed documents. (6804)  $20.00. American Originals

Mary Norton's Autograph Book, Maynard, Mass., 1879 Norton, Mary A. 1879 Maynard, MA: ephemera. Mary started this autograph book in 1879.  It contains sentimental inscriptions from friends and relatives, mostly from Maynard, MA and Halifax, Nova Scotia. "Remember me till death shall close these eyelids…" from Katie Snee, Maynard. Includes small embroidery of a Bible with a cross, with flowers on it. 17 x 10 cm. Leather autograph book, spine leather torn off, some damp stain on first few pages, fair. (7688) $28.00. American Originals

Phrenology: New Illustrated Self-Instructor in Phrenology and Physiology with over 100 engravings by O.S. and L.N. Fowler,  Practical Phrenologists 1859. New York, NY: Fowler and Wells, Publishers. Self-Instructor book for A.P. Cutting, as marked by author, O.S. Fowler on April 5th, 1864.  Chart contains markings which evaluate Mr. Cutting as to vital and mental temperament (full), conjugality (full), friendship (full), combativeness (very large), size of brain (22¾ inches)  and many more. Detailed description of various traits detected by phrenology. Viz. Motherly, large head, un-motherly, small. Henry Clay, with large head, has inhabitiveness. A "rambler" has small head. A typical Indian chief is short on mirthfulness. . 176 pp. 13 x 19 cm. Brown cloth on board, with gilt and blind-stamped decoration. Cover worn and faded, heel and toe of spine slightly frayed. Good. (2259) $40.00. American Originals/Educational/Phrenology

Ruth's Post Card Travelogue, 1928 by Bradford, Ruth  Boston, MA: Ruth Bradford, 18 Cedarlane Way. Ruth is on the "grand tour" of Europe, and sends home this detailed, colorful report of her adventures, carefully described on the backs of 22 post cards. She watches the fireworks for Bastille Day at Biarritz and warns her friend Lucia to stay clear of Nice. She tells about the violent hailstorm as her group drives through the Pyrenees. Luncheon in Quimper, visit to the potteries.  22 cards 9 x 14 cm. Twenty-two photographic post cards with a detailed travel journal written on backs. Very good. (6337) $65.00. American Originals/Travel

Travel Diary of Mrs. Harry Worcester, 1954 handwritten by Worcester, Mrs. Harry 1954. West Swanzey, NH: ephemera 28 pp. 10 x 16 cm. Leather "Travels Abroad" Diary: Mrs. Harry Worcester records trip she and husband took from Keene, NH to NYC, thence from Idlewild Airport via KLM Lockheed Constellation first to Gander, Nfld, then to London, then to Brighton by train; Banquet at Strand Hotel; met Mayor Dudley; back to London, tour, then by train to York, touring, visit The Shambles, on to Edinburgh; touring Scotland, then to Glasgow and steamer to Belfast, N. Ireland; train to Dublin; Dun Laoghaire then steamer to Holyhead, and train for  Caernarvon, Wales; Criccieth to Bristol, then London; flight to Chaumont, France; Harry visited places where he trained during World War I; Neuf Chateau, Verdun; Paris, Chalons-sur-Marne; sleeper train to Basel, CH, then Lucerne, Zurich, then another sleeper for Calais; rough crossing to Folkestone, then to London; flight home on KLM Connie to Shannon, Gander and Idlewild.  Green leather Travel Diary (only 28 pages of entries) with unused pencil in loop, very good. (7644) $30.00. American Originals/Travel/Ephemera

Upstate New York Journal by Bill and Cora 1949 Near Easton, NY: ephemera. Daily entries for year 1949, first by Bill, noting carpentry work, planting peas, onions, strawberries, buying a truck, around Glens Falls, Cambridge, Easton, NY, then rest of the year by wife, Cora, noting all the canning, cooking, preserving. Attending weddings, funerals. Noting when neighbors died. Summer trips to Lake George, Bennington, VT. Killing chickens. Baking mince pies for Thanksgiving.  "We all went over to James to Xmas dinner at night. Turkey and all the trimmings."  Simple life of rural Americans right after end of World War II. ~190 pp. 13 x 20 cm. Leatherette book with ring binding, two days per page, completely filled out. Very good. (6730) $36.00. American Originals

U.S. Cream Separator Note book ca. 1904 Bellows Falls, VT: Vermont Farm Machine Co. Little note book advertises the Improved U.S. Cream Separators, offering the 1904 Frame, a great improvement. The No. 9 Separator will handle up to 175 lbs. per hour, and the No. 5 will handle up to 600 lbs. Notebook has pencil entries listing items in Clough Farm barn sold to Elmer Stevens, including 2 dung forks, 12 tug chains, 3 milk cans, 1 potato digger, 1 iron kettle, 5 sap tubs, 4 stove knees, etc. 32 pp. 6.5 x 13.4 cm. Paper booklet, with pencil entries, very good. (6961) $21.00. American Originals/Farming/Advertising

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