The USS Navy in WW1


Departure of President Wilson from New York, December 3, 1918, on the steamship George Washington, formerly a German liner, on his voyage to France to attend the Peace Conference. This event made a new record in American history, it being the first time a President has ever left the country for any length of time. A destroyer is seen escorting the President's ship down the harbor to Staten Island, where the battleship Pennsylvania assumed the chief escort duty.

A serious shortage of fuel oil from the years of warfare in Europe kept American Battleships confined to American waters during most of World War One.  The Allies utilized US mine ships to help combat German U-boats.  Naval guns were adapted for use on the railroad to enable them for the inland battlefields.  For a comprehensive history of the Navy in WW1 see: http://www.naval-history.net/WW1NavyUS.htm.


The following are stories told by our WW 1 sailors:

Johnny Arthur Didway, Yeoman, U.S. Navy, Marion County, Indiana

John Didway, son of Melville Didway and Bertha, born March 12, 1900, enlisted April 19, 1917, ten days after war was declared.  Left for Great Lakes training Station. Was there only five days when he was sent to Philadelphia and assigned to the battleship Missouri.  In May, he was transferred to the transport Henderson and made his first trip June, 1917.

The “Henderson” was with the flotilla that carried the first troops to France, always taking Marines.  On the second trip they saw their first submarine, but before it could do any damage, a shot from the Charleston, another transport, blew the covering tower off and the Germans took to the water.  They picked up five and took the prisoners to France, towing the sub to port where they blew it up.  On the third trip over, just 7 miles from St. Nazaire, France, their flotilla was attacked by seven submarines.  Two airplanes came out from shore on hearing the firing, and with their assistance, they got four out of the seven.  They battled for two hours and this will go down in history as the Battle of Biscay Bay or Belle Island.  The Henderson was acting as a convoy for a slow boat with the Antilles, when that boat was torpedoed. 

They started on their eighth trip, when 700 miles from New York, on July 3, the boat took fire.  The immediately transferred their troops to another transport and started back to Philadelphia, their home port. The fire raged all the way back and for four days and five nights they fought it.  The hole became so full of water that boat nearly capsized several times.   The Captain told the crew that 200 should go aboard the convoy boats, leaving 150 to fight the fire.  John, being the Captain's orderly, stayed with him, and they brought the boat to port July 7.  He has made 11 trips to France, and served as orderly until he was 18, when he took his Yeoman's exam and is now a clerk in the Captain’s office.


Nellie Hitch, Yeoman 3rd Class, USN, Gibson County, Indiana

"When Woodrow Wilson returned to the United States Navy girls in uniform at the train along with other organizations in military dress."


Jonas Howard Ingram, Lieutenant Commander, USN, Clark County, Indiana

“Lieutenant Commander Jonas Howard Ingram is the oldest of three brothers in a family of four who chose a naval career, making a record for the family that has no equal in the history of United States Naval Academy. It had beaten all records for one family; they've also beaten the records for efficiency and competency and have been, all of them, at the head of their classes.  All of them fine athletes, of fine physical development and genuine Navel modesty, of sterling American character, they have engaged the attention and elicited the regard of those who have seen them grow to manhood and their Navel careers have been watched with interest.  The city of Jeffersonville is justly proud of the splendid young men in whom it is embodied the highest type of American manhood.”

  • Jonas Howard Ingram, Lieutenant Commander
  • Homer L. Ingram, Senior Lieutenant, Goldstar
  • William Austin Ingram, Ensign, Pacific Fleet

President Wilson's Honor Guard

Honor Guard   Wilson's Guard of Honor on board "USS George Washington" on return trip.

National Archives photo CN3137 IWM




Everett Jefferson Hart, USN, USS destroyer Yarnall, Ripley County, Indiana

“Convoyed with President Wilson’s ship, USS George Washington, December 4 – 13, 1918.  Transport, mail, patrol & inspections duty.  Escort of George Washington, transport on President Wilson’s return to U. S. A., Feb. 15, 1919 as far as the Azores Islands.  Visited air bases of German’s with inspection fleet.  Convoy with President’s ship June 29 – July 9, 1919.”


Wilbur W Linder, HMS Leinster, Vanderburg County, Indiana

"I made the trip to London and had a fine time-saw and learned a lot. The party on that leave arrived there safely, but coming back but was torpedoed twice, the explosion being in the post office and the engine rooms. 600 people were drowned and 480 survived. One of the boys with us lost his mind and the rest of us aren't any to well balanced as a result of our experiences. Several died later. It was cold and stormy and we were crossing the Irish Sea. We were taken to Cork, where I had time to dry my clothes. I wrote you a short letter.

"The influenza was raging around here then and some died from it on shipboard. I can't figure out how it spread all over the world so quickly. It sure was terrible.

"At present I in the Castletown in Ireland and our ship is anchored at Bantry Bay.  The 28th of this month we go to meet the Royal Navy.  We will go with them for a while and then go back to America. The Royal Navy, or fleet, is believed to be along the Italian coast at present. I certainly want to see Italy. I have already been in England, Wales and Ireland and now for Italy and then America."


Clarence Peter Schutz, Navy, USS Vermont, Vanderburg County, Indiana

"During service in the Navy, our ship made a trip to Valparaiso, Chile to convoy the body of Chilean Ambassador, Don Santiago Aldunate, and to take our Ambassador, Joseph H. Shea to Chile.  While on the trip we were torpedoed June 5, 1918.  Torpedo struck us a glancing blow and failed to explode, so no damage was done.

"Accidentally struck my shinbone on ship just before returning home from a furlough; lead poisoning set in on the way home and my left leg was laid up for three weeks.  When I returned, I had treatments at the ship's hospital.  Also had flu and relapse of mumps.

"As a sailor,I did not go front but went to sea, where our duties consisted of patrolling the high seas along the eastern coast looking for submarines.

"We would make cruises for a week to 10 days at a time, and the armistice was signed just as our ship was detailed to convoy duty."

 Troops enroute to Europe on an Italian steamer


Sammies on the Way "Over There"

Troops marching along pier on their way to their transport, an Italian steamer.

Freedom's Triumph Indiana War Memorial Archives U&U

George Charles Ollier, USN, Ripley County , Indiana

“On first and last trips in transport duty, had three days of severe storms, one a hurricane.  Advanced only 3/10 mile in four hours.  Fourteen miles per hour was regular time”


Charles Clifford Bruner, Pharmacist Mate, 1st C, US Navy, Decatur County, IN

“In my four years previous service (1907 – 1911) made a trip around the world with the US Fleet.  Left Norfolk, Va. December 16, 1907 and arrived at Boston, October 19, 1908 covering a distance of 33,500 miles.  Was on the USS Maine on the cruise and in December, 1908 this battleship was sent under sealed orders to South America to go to a disturbance in Trinidad, S. A.

After spending two years in the Navy Yard Dispensary, Portsmouth, N. H., was discharged June 23 at that place.  Volunteered my services during the last war.”

WW1 Naval recruiting Poster

WW1 Navy recruiting poster

Indiana War Memorial Collection

Earl Seaner, US Navy, Marion County, Indiana

USS Battleship Von Steuben.

He was the site setter on this battleship during the world war and served with the convoy of our troops to Brest, France.

On one of his trips, June 18, 1918, all was quiet aboard ship until a U-boat was sighted.  Gunner Seaner was on duty at the time, about three o'clock in the afternoon, when the quick work of the gun crew saved the ship from the torpedo which missed the ship by a few feet.  The ship was returning alone, without convoy, from France.  Immediately firing at the U-boat and reversing the ship was due to these men's quick thinking. Gunner Seaner was given a 15 day furlough home for his quick work in firing.

The USS Von Steuben was then a German Lloyd liner, the Kronprinz Wilhelm, and put into the US harbor, Newport News to keep from being captured by the English.  On August 4, 1914 she slipped from Pier at Hoboken and became a phantom ship preying on our commercial and the allied ships for eight months.

In the spring of 1915 she limped into Hampton Roads having escaped all allied pursuits and was interned here, not thinking we would enter the war.  The war was declared by the United States against Germany and the United States confiscated the ship, renaming it Von Steuben.

It was put into convoy service, carrying thousands of our troops to serve against its previous country; a German crew tried to damage it and it could not be used in our service for over two years, but our Navy mechanics restored it to service in six month, the Germans thinking they would've won the war before it could be commissioned again.  It served faithfully under our leadership and convoying our troops and returning our brave boys home again.  The Von Steuben is 663 furlongs, carries 1200 men in 18 guns and is the third largest ship in our Navy.

WW1 Quartermaster patch

WW1 Quartermaster Patch

Indiana War Memorial Archive Collections



Jesse George Schmidt, Chief Quartermaster, U.S. Navy, Vanderburg County, Indiana

“ I was attached to the Le Croisic Naval air station which patrolled and convoyed all vessels in and out of St. Nazaire, France on the Loire River.  It was claimed that over a third of all the American troops landed there and more left for USA from there after the war, and not a vessel was lost after the Americans took over the air station at Le Croisic, which was due to their alert convoy and patrol duty, as stated in a letter to the commanding officer of the station, by the French Admiral, in commendation of sector.

Sailors parade with Army sign



Homage to Gallant Hero's of the Sea

A mighty parade held in honor of the boys of the Navy and the Marine Corps, cities official tribute.     Freedom's Triumph, U & U

Ralph William Lewis, Machinist Mate 2nd-class, U.S. Navy, Marion County, Indiana

"Served six-month on the Flanders front near Dunkirk.

"Attended first military ball given by the King and Queen since the fall of Napoleon.  This was in January 1919 in the royal palace, the same place that was attended by Napoleon on the night of the charge by Wellington.

"Served with the supply arm of Northern Bombing Squadron, which operate with the Royal Flying Corps of Great Britain for the purpose of raiding submarine stations at Ostend and Zebingge.

"Made trip into Belgium with loaded guns and ammunition and passed through Ypres during the final bombardment by the Germans.  This town was taken and abandoned four times the British and was captured for the last time in September, 1918.

"Six weeks after my enlistment, I was in Paris, on the way to the Flanders frontier."


Harry Thomas Bruner, Boatswain’s Mate, USN, Decatur County, Indiana

“In my previous service (1908-1912), I served as a seaman aboard the gunboat USS Marietta doing coast defense duty in the tropics during the Nicaraguan uprising, later transferred to the USS South Carolina which established a record for herself in commission March 1, 1910 and April, 1910 with a green crew of 700 on the firing range Southern Drill Gion, Va. got the battleship trophy and the Naval ‘E’ which stands for efficiency.  We received Ex-President Roosevelt on his return from a hunting trip in Africa; he came aboard and offered his congratulations to the men.  Made the Baltic sea cruise in 19 (illegible), touching Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Petrograd Russia; Kiel, Germany, seeing all of the crowned heads including the cause of the last of the last war ‘Kaiser Bill’”.


Fred Middleton, U.S. Navy, Grant County, Indiana

Fred Middleton, son of E. C. Middleton, ran away from home when quite young, and later enlisted in the Navy. The family has not heard from him in many years, but they have reason to believe that he is still in the Navy, and was transferred to the Marine Corps for service in France.

He is one of a family of 15 children; twelve of them are still living.

USS Mongolia

Lt Bruce Richardson Ware, in charge of the gun crew aboard the USS Mongolia reported to have sunk a German Submarine.  Nations at War Photo

Lt. Ware was awarded the Navy Cross.

Built in 1904 as a passenger/transport liner. Requisitioned by the Navy the Mongolia served as a troop transport, completing 12 trips across the Atlantic.  Each trip averaged 34 days.

William Harold Green, Seaman, USN, Marion County, Indiana

"First voyage began October 25, 1917 - Brooklyn to Genoa, Italy as a member of armed guards on a merchant ship “Pathfinder”.  Three subsequent voyages to Italy, spending 14 months in submarine zone, service during that period being as a member of gun crew.  Was shipwrecked off the coast to France on one voyage, crew being rescued by British ship after several days and taken to Bermuda Islands, thence to US.  Spent four months aboard USS Woodcock, a ship of the “Suicide Fleet” of mine-sweepers that cleared the North Sea of mines.  At present, (April, 1920), on USS San Francisco near the Virgin Islands, with Fleet doing experimental work with mines."


Louis Morris Ichenhauser, Pharmacist Mate, 3c, U.S. Navy, USS Kalk, Vanderburg County, Indiana

"The USS Kalk (torpedo boat destroyer), on which I was stationed, was one of the convoy for the Navy trans-Atlantic flight seaplanes, the NC-4, NC-3 and NC-1.  The “KALK” had station #11 with a cruising radius on the station of from 550 miles to 600 miles off the coast of Newfoundland.

"It was a clear night, with a full moon, and a calm sea running.  The USS Maddox was a flagship of the destroyer division to which the USS Kalk was assigned.

"Lt. Commander N. R. VanDerveer, USN commanding Officer of the USS Kalk. Lt. Commander D. C. Hamilton, USN executive officer.

"The USS Kalk was named after Ensign Kalk, U.S. Navy who lost his life of the USS Jacob Jones was sunk by German submarine."

“First enlisted in U.S. Navy March 7, 1908 at the Navy recruiting station in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Was sent to the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia.  After serving until July 1908, was sent to the USS Montana, an armored cruiser just being placed in commission, serving on board for 3 1/2 years, during which time we traveled over 62,000 miles, as far South as Cape Town, South Africa, North as far as Denmark, and East to the Red Sea.

“In 1909, I was stationed with my ship at Mercene, Turkey during the Turkish uprising.  Was sent inland from Mercene to the little town of Adaria, where 200 persons had been massacred, to assist the Hospital Corps. Was discharged from the US Naval service March 6, 1912.  Re-enlisted April 6, 1912 for four years, during which time I served aboard the USS Vermont, US tug, Alice, USS Delaware, USS Utah, USS Celtic, and the USS Salem.  Was discharged from USS Salem and the Naval service on April 5, 1916.

“Reenlisted April 8, 1916, was stationed on the USS Arizona until diplomatic relations were severed with Germany, upon which time I was detailed to the Naval Recruiting Service, being in charge of substations at Quincy, Illinois, Mount Vernon, Illinois and Decatur, Illinois.  Was sent as an instructor, to the Wissahickon Training Station, Cape May, New Jersey when the armistice was signed.  When that station was demobilizing, I was sent to my present duty at Naval Mine Depot, Yorktown, Virginia.  We are overhauling the mines and placing them in stovehouses, that were taken up along the coast of the North Sea, all my discharges were honorable.”

WW1 USS Covington sinking

USS Covington

First big ship lost in war zone while under American Convoy. USA transport "Covington" shown here sinking fast with colors flying.



Camoflage paint

USS Siboney in camouflage coat.

Both photos from National Archives, courtesy Indiana War Memorial

Charles Thomas Abshire, Grant County, Indiana guards & U.S. Navy

“I have two Indian campaigns: in 1885-8. I was against Apaches in Arizona and New Mexico, served in Co. E., 3rd Cavalry from Fort Davis Texas and in 1890, I joined U.S. Navy.  In 1917, I enlisted at Fort Thomas, Kentucky for the World War.  I was stationed in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.  I served 17 months and 15 days.  Was discharged from field hospital at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, May 8, 1899.”

Charles T. Abshire, National Home, Marion, Indiana

P. S. In 1885-86 I was under the name of Frank Cooper.


John Chester Stephan, Seaman, USN, USS Mississippi, Atlantic Fleet, Vanderburg County, Indiana

"Organized and published the "Norfolk Naval Recruit" under the permission of Captain John H. Peyton, USN, commanding.  Title of the magazine was later changed to “Navy Life”.

"Assigned to operate along the coast from Portland Maine South America and Cuban waters, including the Caribbean Sea. But he was primarily cruising in preparation for emergency call to foreign waters if German Fleet ventured to make attempt to evade blockade."

Additional Remarks:

"The magazine I began on mimeograph, is now operated by old shipmates of mine, namely Edwin Ford, Detroit, Michigan; Robert F. Fulton, Brookline, Massachusetts; William Avery, Seattle, Washington - present address, Norfolk, Virginia, this publication incorporated under private funds, regular monthly publication of general interest and historical and timely pictorial features.  Of great value for the public and learning something about the United States Navy.

"Evansville businessman apparently sincerely unpatriotic, according to estimates of young men who served with colors in active branches of the service.  Patently, all jobs were given to members of Student Army Training Corps, before we, who had actually served on land and sea, were mustered out.  Servicemen had to unbecomingly humiliate themselves to get jobs in Evansville.  Many young man of my acquaintance left town, about the time I did, in June or July, to seek other places of business and employment.  Disgusting exhibition of unpatriotic endeavor and discrimination towards young men who invaded actual military service and became attached to SATC for that purpose.

"Expressed evidence of this fact, by many young man of my acquaintance.  I enlist at 19 years of age, and was not included in the draft by any means.  Before enlisting, I served on the draft board in 3rd district, voluntarily so that I might be able to get scoops for the press for which was reporting.

"PRESS promised me job when I return. Did not keep promise. Was most unfair in attitude and exhibition of interest in returning service men. Particularly descriptive and typical of other Evansville business interests."

USS Mercy hospital Ship operating room, WW1

USS Mercy, first completely equipped hospital ship.

The operating room of the "Mercy"

National Archives Photo CN2989 Group 63, Indiana War Memorial

Alvin Dora Thompson, Navy, USS Mercy, Hospital Ship, Huntington County, Indiana

“Most recruits coming under my observations seem to have had no previous discipline, training or any idea of teamwork, all of which are necessary in any organization.  The idea could very easily be instilled during school and get away from any system of compulsory military training in after years.”


Lester T. Lee, U.S. Navy, USS Dizzy Quinne, Jefferson County, Indiana

“We made a barrage of mines off the Norway Coast to Scotland, with from five to eight ships abreast, each dropping a mine every five to 12 seconds.  So you see they would have a little chance of getting through. Also, after the main barrage we continued to make wings reaching out into the North Sea.

“At first it was exciting, but soon became real work; loading mines, steaming, watch the coal ship each time putting in from 300 to 550 tons of coal, and in the bunkers the dust is so thick you had to put handkerchief over your mouth to get your breath; you could not tell your mate working by your side, nor see electric light 10 ft. away.

“Then was time to cleaning the ship, work and more work.  Believe me, we realize we were not at home.

“Our only danger was torpedoes, German mines laid by subs in front of us, our own mines coming loosed from anchor and floating in our path, or collisions in the fog.

“One trip, we kept going after the searchlights, burning them in day light to keep the ship in back of us from ramming us.

"One trip, the Roanoke, the senior ship of one division, ran on a rock and two boys were killed by falling timber, some ships did not making port that night, but the Dizzy Quinn as our ship was called always was good.”

Great Lakes Naval Training Station assembly

Secretary Daniels addressing sailors at Great Lakes Naval Training Station.

All photos of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station from the National Archives, courtesy IWM

Panoramic view of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.

On the way to the mess hall


To the Mess Hall.

Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago, Ill.

Charles Clifford Calhoun, Navy, USS Ohio, Hamilton County, Indiana, Goldstar

“Charles Clifford Calhoun lived on a farm all of his life of to the time of his enlistment, he attended school at Fairy Glade and Omega, graduating from the eighth grade with high honors.  He was indeed a true and trustworthy son, always ready to obey and to do his duty everywhere.  His main thoughts were to care for his parents and help them to make a living, as their health was poor.  He not only farmed their little farm, but he would rent ground and do all in his power to get along.  When the break between this country and Germany came, he became interested in the great conflict and announced his willingness to serve his country, in any capacity were they might need him.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a sailor on November 26, 1917, left his home and went to the Great Lakes training Station; thereby asserting his desire to be of value to his country in time of need.  It took a brave and noble boy to leave his home and loved ones as our Darling Charles did.  He was greatly devoted to his mother and said to a friend before he left “It would be hard to part with mother.” but he felt it was his duty to offer his service and he left our little family, father, mother and one brother.  Charlie was a young man of excellent character, and enjoyed a great circle of friends and acquaintances.  Our hearts were stricken with grief when we receive the sad news of his sickness, and then in a few hours, came the sad message of death. God has taken our Charlie home to rest from sorrow and care.  His soul is at rest and when our time comes to go to the Place unknown to us, may we meet him their in that heaven of rest.  Sad was the call of him so dearly loved by all; his memory is as dear today as the hour he passed away.  We miss his coming footsteps, we miss him everywhere. Home has lost its greatest sunshine, since our Charlie has gone away.

He left the Great Lakes on December 18, 1917 and went to Norfolk Virginia and from there to the Training Station where he was transferred to the battleship Ohio and served as a firemen until February 2, 1918, then was sent to Boston and died on February 16, 1918. We have never received any information from the hospital of his sickness, though anxiously waiting and hoping to hear.”

W. J. and Mary Calhoun, Parents, Atlanta, Indiana


Phillip Asher Millett, Chief Gunner’s Mate, U.S. Navy, Vanderburg County, Indiana

Performed temporary duty in 1917 as a member of the armed guard on a neutral merchant ship.  Transferred from USS New York, September 21, 1917, to armed guard, receiving ship, Brooklyn, New York.  Made one trip to Genoa Italy as a member of US armed guard crew.  Returned to New York November 2, 1917 and transferred to the USS Mars, a supply ship, carrying cargo for the Army.  Was at Halifax during the explosion, December 7, 1917, and did rescue work there.

USS Leviathan



Germany's greatest liner, seized by the US now flies the Stars & Stripes. SS Vaterland, now the USS Leviathan flying the American flag from the mast at her stern.

(All Leviathan photos from the National Archives, courtesy Indiana War Memorial)

Troop transport

Troops arriving in New York on the USS Leviathan (All Leviathan photos from the National Archives, courtesy Indiana War Memorial)

 Troops boarding USS Leviathan




EnRoute to France.

56th Reg., Infantry, 7th Division, boarding the USS Leviathan.

Norman Scott, US Navy, USS Jacob Jones, Marion County, Indiana

Graduate, US Naval Academy, Annapolis, 1910

6 years of service prior to World War I

Special Letter of Commendation

“As executive officer of the USS Jacob Jones, on the occasion of the torpedoing of the vessel on December 6, 1917, he showed marked energy and zeal and coolness and displayed excellent seamanship in getting life belts and splitter mats from the bridge into the water, and encouraging and helping the men, in general doing everything possible demanded by the emergency in the short time available.  Hand delivered, November 11, 1920 by Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy

“Served on the US destroyer, Jacob Jones, which was torpedoed and sunk off the Irish Coast by a German submarine December 6, 1917.  Lieutenant Scott and other survivors rescued after 23 hours in an open boat; he was later returned to the US and was assigned to service in the Bureau of Operations in Washington DC. Attended Shortridge high school, 1906”


Herbert Wattam Mills, Chief Electrician Radio, USS Wadsworth, U.S. Navy, Vanderburg County, Indiana

“Was with the first destroyer division to sail for Europe. One of the United States destroyers that escorted the first American troops into St. Nazaire, France in the latter part of June, 1917.  Served as flagship of destroyers that took over German merchant ships at Cowes, England.

On Presidential escort three times, and one of the destroyers of the transatlantic flight of the NC-4.


Ernest Haycock , Navy, Jefferson County, Indiana

"I've been to Wakefield, Massachusetts at the Naval rifle range, had a great time there and good luck also.  I qualified as an expert rifleman, that is higher than sharpshooter on the expert team.  After I had qualified and made a record on the range of getting 19 Staples size.  A bull's-eye counts five and four out of 20 shots at 500 yd. They gave me a score of 99 out of a possible 100 and we had issued 20 shots in change position fire.

"In change position, you have a check of five shells and get ready.  Then the target is up five seconds and out of site five seconds, and in the meantime, you have to shoot, throw a new shell into your gun and change position, viz., this first shot prone, second kneeling, third squatting, for standing, and the fifth prone again, and go over that four times to get the 20 shots. I got 91 out of that, which gave me out of score in the end. Match of 190 out of a possible 200. The highest ever made on their range before was 187, by Marine, a year ago.

"Altogether I made $8.50 and prizes. One dollar and the marksman scores, two dollars on the sharpshooter scores, three dollars on expert riflemen course, one dollar, on expert team match, $1.50 getting the highest score on machine gun."


George Tibbals Jarvis , Lt., U.S. Navy, Marion County, Indiana

"The American Mining Squadron, in conjunction with the British Navy, blazed 230 miles of mines across the North Sea from the Orkney's to the coast of Norway. 700,100 mines were laid, which made up so-called North Sea Mining barrage.  The American ships laid 56,570 of these mines.  The field averaged 25 miles in width and nowhere less than 15 miles across.  At least 17 German submarines are known to have come to grief in attempting to pass through the field. Captain Reginald R. Belknap was Commander of the fleet of 10 ships; two light cruisers and eight converted merchant craft, which made up the American mine laying Squadron.  Their base was an Inverness, Scotland, known as Base #18.

"On their mine planting “excursions” the Squadron was part of the British Grand Fleet.  For protection against the submarines and raiding cruisers, it was accompanied by British destroyers, battleships or battle cruisers. These trips lasted from 40 to 80 hours.  The above information taken from reports by Captain Belknap published in the American newspapers of January 20 6, 1919."


Van Buren Jarvis, Ensign, U.S. Navy, USS Aylwin, destroyer

Service on Sea: Destroyer duty on the coast of England. The USS Aylwin carried the most improved type of depth bombs and listening devices.


Cecil George Cooley, Ensign, U.S. Navy

Traveled more than 18,000 miles while on USS Arkansas, and was in Cuba, Trinidad, England, France and the Panamá Canal zone. In England on trans-Atlantic flight duty, brought Admiral Benson home from peace conference and 26 Army officers.

Went to West Coast with Pacific Fleet, July 14 to August 7.

Left ship in Los Angeles on the evening of August 13, 1919.

WWI Navy Dog Tag, James N. Burkhart (Indiana) 


WW1 Navy Dog tag

IWM Collections

Dog tags were not standard issue until 1913.

(Civil War soldiers would pin paper identification on themselves prior to going into battle.)


John Henry Davis, Warrant Officer, U.S. Navy, Marion County, Indiana

"Transferred to San Francisco from Detroit, August 20, 1917. From there went to USS Venetia (a converted yacht) around through the Panamá Canal to New York.  From there to Philadelphia and back again to New York, from where he started, by way of Bermuda and the Azores and on to the submarine zone in the Mediterranean.  He touched on the Italian, North African, French and coast of Gibraltar during the 10 months, active service.  Saw some real war during that time.  Exactly one year from first transfer on August 20, 1919, was transferred to land duty.  Went to London and traveled a bit through England and into Cardiff, Wales at the US Naval Station there. He has been there five months at present location. Office of the Disbursing Officer, US Naval Base, Cardiff, Wales."

Statement of service of John Henry Davis, U.S. Navy, during war against Central European powers.

"On duty at the US Navy Recruiting Station, Detroit, Michigan at the time the declaration of war (April 6, 1917).  Remained on this duty throughout recruiting campaign, then volunteered for general service in August, 1917. Rating - Chief Yeoman, USN.

"On August 20, 1917, was transferred from Detroit to San Francisco, California, and on August 31, 1917 again transferred to the Navy Yard, Mare Island, Vallejo, California for duty in connection with converting the yacht Venetia into a Man o’ war for foreign duty.  Sailed from Mare Island on October 23, 1917 for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania via Panamá Canal.  Arrived at Philadelphia, November 14, 1917.  Worked between Philadelphia and New York City (on Venetia) in connection with a fleet of submarine chasers until December 20, 1917, on which date sailed from Philadelphia as a unit of 3rd Detachment, US Naval Expeditionary Forces, for duty in the war zone, via Bermuda and Ponta Delgada, Azores.  This detachment consisted of three yachts (converted), five ocean going tugs, and 10 submarine chasers. 

"The trip was made to Bermuda without incident, but from there to the Azores, stormy weather, the most severe and enduring ever experienced by any of the members of the crews, was witnessed; so after twelve most trying days, the detachment began straggling, one at a time, into port.  From Pontia Delgado the detachment made way to the coast of Portugal, where at the port of Oporto, the Venetia, with two of the tugs and three chasers steamed to Gibraltar, the remainder of the detachment having gone to Brest, France.  The Venetia Division arrived at Gibraltar on February 21, 1918, and was immediately assigned to duty as Mediterranean convoy Escort, making two trips each month from Gibraltar to Bizerta, Tunis, (North Africa) and return or to Genoa, Italy and return. Remained on this duty until August 20, 1918, during which numerous submarine attacks and battles were encountered.

"On January 23, 1918, was promoted to temporary rank of Acting Pay Clerk and worked at this capacity on the Venetia until August 20, 1918, when I was detached from the yacht and ordered to London England for further orders, which orders, when received, were to proceed to Cardiff, Wales, for duty in the US Naval disbursing office, which was to be opened at this place.  Arrived here on September 5, 1918, and have been continuously on this duty since that date.

"Note: he has been promoted from Chief Petty Officer to Warrant Rank and has worked in the office abroad of Admiral Linus and Lieutenant Commander Ingram."

Huge Searchlight

Monster searchlight atop Equitable Building.

National Archive Photo CN3112



Maurice C. Riley, US Navy, Marion County, Indiana

"Served on board the USS Hartford, USS Oklahoma, USS Kearsearge, USS Pocahontas and the USS Westgate.  Made seven trips to France and returning on the USS Pocahontas, four trips to Brest, France, three trips to St. Nazaire, assisted in transporting 40,000 soldiers to France and covering over 45,000 miles on the Atlantic Ocean.

"Transferred October 1 to the USS Westgate, when, 900 miles from shore, on the Atlantic, was sunk at 2:30 a.m. the morning of October 7. After many hours of suffering in icy waters, he was rescued by the steamer, American, and taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The USS Westgate had a 3 million-dollar cargo, airplanes, due for France.  17 lives were lost.  He was discharged honorably January 14, 1919 and is an employee of the Indianapolis News."


Tilford Irving Harding, USN, USS DeKalb, Ripley County, Indiana

“The DeKalb was once the German raider, ‘Prince Eitel Frederick’

“The DeKalb carried 413 soldiers from the fronts, 25 Marines also from the fronts, 54 officers and 657 sailors. The transport encountered on this trip, ‘the worst storm the ship had ever gone through.’ Every man aboard, from Capt. Dodd and Capt. Alger down to the hardiest deck-swabber aboard, all agreed on that verdict.  54 degrees was a common angle for the DeKalb to take, when the going was at its worst.  Dr. Judy and his assistant surgeon and orderlies clawed their way up and down among the injured men, helping to get the armless and legless soldiers back into their bunks from which the crazy lurchings of the ship had dumped the wounded men.

“One wave smashed a deck-house in and the next one slammed what was left of it overboard.  Life boats were stove in, funnels were bent until they looked as though some one had poured too much of ‘the hard stuff’ into them. One private remarked: ‘The old pond beat up this boat like it knew she was once a d-m German’”

WW1 sea rescue

Rescued passengers from torpedoed vessel boarding French gunboat.

National Archives Photo, courtesy Indiana War Memorial

Peter Karbowski , USN, USS Worden, destroyer class, Ripley County, Indiana

“The Worden picked up survivors from a coal-ship sunk between Brest and Lapalise, France by a submarine.  The submarine dived under the Worden, scraping the bottom of the destroyer in doing so.  The Worden gave chase, and fired five depth charges.  They watched half a day but saw only oil on the water to indicate the submarine’s fate.”

Four Brothers Now in Service, June 6 Newspaper Clipping, Decatur County Historical Records, Indiana State Library

Mr. and Mrs. James Maudlin, of the city, have made the supreme sacrifice in the war.  Four sons are now the war service, two in the Army and two in the Navy.  Alva Maudlin, the eldest, has been in the service nearly seven years, and is stationed in the Philippines. Charles Maudlin 18, enlisted about two weeks ago in the Army, is stationed at Jefferson barracks, Missouri, William and Albert, 21 and 17, respectively, are in the Navy. William is in the transport service.

Indiana War Memorials