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Great White Fleet Battleship Postcards

There is a shop in my area that markets collectibles. Lot’s of glassware, Hot Wheels, Action Figures, trains, and piles of other things people like to collect. The shop is semi-organized and according to the owner simply a labor of love. It’s the kind of place a cheap American Picker like me likes to visit.

In addition to the organized collectibles there is much that is not and that’s where I started to dig, especially in the postcards. When I told the owner I was interested in WW1 and WW2 era postcards he was able to direct me to a couple of binders that had some great finds. Below are the best two I found.

They are colorized postcards featuring ships of the Teddy’s Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet-the USS Vermont and the USS Ohio. In the upper right hand corner of the card there is a serial number thus indicating that the cards were part of series.

USS Vermont BB-20

USS Vermont BB-20

The Vermont was a Connecticut Class pre-Dreadnought Battleship  launched in August of 1905. She was decommissioned in June, 1920 and struck from Navy roles entirely in 1923.

The Vermont’s claim to fame was taking part in Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet cruise (late 1907-1909). The Vermont was one of sixteen US Battleships that TR sent around the world to establish the US as a significant naval power. Teddy believed in sea power and was a powerful advocate for a strong Navy that would rival even Great Britain’s.

This link will take you a Popular Science article titled, Battleship Vermont (BB-20) Will be the Most Powerful of our Navy. The article pre-dates the ship’s launch. Highlights from the article include the ship’s dimensions, size of the crew (814 men plus officers) and the fact that the Royal Navy has only one ship larger than a completed Vermont.

The link will take you to further links about the Vermont and her sister ship the USS Connecticut.

The Vermont’s later history is  not very exciting. During WW1 it served as an engineering training ship. Immediately after the war the Vermont was converted to a troop transport and used to bring US forces back from Europe at the end of WW1.

USS Vermont Naval Historical Center picture http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-v/bb20.htm

USS Vermont Naval Historical Center picture http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-v/bb20.htm

The back of the card is dated September 28th, 1909 and is addressed to Mr. J.J. Slater, R.R. #3 Box 43, Racine, Wisconsin. It’s from a gal named Doris who writes;

“We are all here but you. I suppose if you were a little nearer you would be here also-will write soon.”

(R.R. refers to Rural Route)

On the left side of the card in small letters it says, “Made in Germany  A.C. Bosselmann & Co., New York.

I love the one cent stamp!

I love the one cent stamp!

The other card I obtained was of the USS Ohio.

USS Ohio

USS Ohio

The Ohio was a Maine Class Battleship commissioned in 1904. The Ohio was designated the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet and as such spent its early years on “show of strength” tours that included Japan. After the Spanish-American War of 1898-99 the US occupied the Philippines (and fought an insurrection there), No doubt President Teddy Roosevelt wanted to make it clear the US had arrived in strength in the region.

The Ohio was also included in the cruise of the Great White Fleet designed to show the world American Naval strength. The Ohio served as a training ship during WW1 and decommissioned in 1922 and later sold for scrap.

The relatively short shelf life of these battleships struck me. Technology was advancing so fast that a battleship built in 1905 was obsolete by the introduction of the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought in 1906.  By the time America entered WW1 in April, 1917 the Ohio and all the other ships of the Great White Fleet would be hopelessly outclassed by contemporary British ships (our allies) and the Germans (our enemies). This explains the secondary roles the Vermont and Ohio played during the Great War.

The back of the card is addressed to Miss Grace Stuart, R.R.  #3, Box 43, Racine, Wisconsin (same address as above). Doris signed this one as well but this time as Doris Slater this indicating that J.J. above could be her husband or brother or cousin. Doris writes;

“I’m [in] New York City at the Henderson Fulton celebration. The card is also postmarked September 28th, 1909.”

It appears that Doris went to a wedding!

It appears that Doris went to a wedding!

I surmise that Doris purchased the postcards in the hotel in which she was staying. The Great White Fleet was a popular topic of discussion in 1909 and President TR was a popular President. Here’s a brief YouTube video that explains the purpose of the Great White Fleet.

 

Interesting link to a site that is all things Great White Fleet including a number of examples of the vast amount of postcards produced by different publishers. My cards are not among the examples! The Cruise of the Great White Fleet

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The Great Martian War

Originally posted on Church, State, Faith and Culture:

The other day I was flipping channels and stumbled on BBC-America. The title of the program on next immediately grabbed my attention-The Great Martian War.

I still remember as a kid watching the 1953 movie, War of the Worlds with my dad and my dad explaining to me that the concept was based on a 1930’s radio program which in turn was based on H.G. Wells’ classic The War of the Worlds. Later I obtained the Classics Illustrated comic book titled War of the Worlds and read it until it almost fell apart (I still have it.)

I even watched the 2005 version of War of the Worlds starring Tom Cruise (it was okay).

Classics Illustrated-War of the Worlds

Classics Illustrated-War of the Worlds

So when The Great Martian War popped up I immediately knew the BBC was tinkering with a classic story. I spent the next two hours watching the special.

The Great Martian…

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A Sailor, his girlfriend and the Great White Fleet, c. 1910

Of the five post cards I walked away with from the antique store in Indiana I found this one the most interesting.

Navy1910frontside

First of all the artwork is fantastic. The colors are still stunning even though the card is postmarked February 23, 1910! The edging of the card is a metallic gold. My scan does not do it justice.

The card is not a colorized picture but rather a small reproduction of art and  I’m guessing that the sender of the card spent more than average on this card!

The date is interesting. It is pre-World War One and related to the American Navy. The caption, “doing his duty” is humorous but also an indication about how sailors and soldiers feel about the girl they left behind.

The 1910 date reveals that the American Navy of the period was the Great White Fleet (pre-dreadnought era).

The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the United States Navy battle fleet that completed a circumnavigation of the globe from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909 by order of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

It consisted of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, along with various escorts. Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American military power and blue-water navy capability. Hoping to enforce treaties and protect overseas holdings, the U.S. Congress appropriated funds to build American sea power. Beginning with just 90 small ships, over one-third of them wooden, the navy quickly grew to include new modern steel fighting vessels. The hulls of these ships were painted a stark white, giving the armada the nickname “Great White Fleet”.

Wiki Source

 

USS Connecticut-another postcard with similar artwork to my find.

USS Connecticut-another postcard with similar artwork to my find.

US Atlantic Fleet-1907

US Atlantic Fleet-1907

Pre-Dreadnought Battleship, USS Wisconsin, named for my home state. The Wisconsin and the other ships of the Great While Fleet were obsolete by the time of America’s entry into WW1 (April, 1917) such were the advancements in battleship technology. The Wisconsin was activated however and used in coast patrol duties along the Atlantic Coast.

Colorful postcard featuring Australia welcoming the Great White Fleet.

Colorful postcard featuring Australia welcoming the Great White Fleet.

The other side of the card is also fascinating. It’s addressed to Miss Eleanor Reed, 523 Madison Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan, The message to Miss Eleanor is upside down on the card and is in German! The card was sent from Sturgis, Michigan. I could find nothing in particular Navy related to Sturgis but did find that Sturgis had a sister city in Germany ( Wiesloch, Germany).  I do know that in the later years of the 19th century and early years of the 20th century the US took in many German immigrants so it’s not so unusual to find a US postcard written in German to another German speaker.

My German is weak and the script is in cursive making it difficult to translate so I enlisted my German friend Simone G. to translate for me. Simone’s translation:

 How are you? I have been at my sister’s for three days and went back home yesterday. I am doing pretty (kind of) well. A week ago I caught a bad cold and I [am] getting well slowly. As soon as I have enough time I will write to you. Yours … Frank

Unusual today but probably common in 1910 as many American cities had a high proportion of 1st or 2nd generation German immigrants.

Unusual today but probably common in 1910 as many American cities had a high proportion of 1st or 2nd generation German immigrants.

In a message to me Simone speculates a bit as to whether or not Eleanor was Frank’s girlfriend. Simone notes that Frank uses the more formal “Sie” than the less formal “du” for the English word “you.” The use of “du” would indicate a girlfriend perhaps while “Sie” is more respectful and used with strangers, teachers or older people.

There is nothing in the message to Eleanor  that would indicate that Frank is in the Navy; yet why would he send such a romantic type card if he was not? By the same token, I speculate that Eleanor is Frank’s love interest and that perhaps Frank simply seeks to be respectful in his use of the more formal “Sie.”

Whatever the case I think the card is interesting and a glimpse into German\American culture c. 1910.

 

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Woodrow Wilson, America’s Great War President

Bruce:

A reblog from my Church, State, Faith and Culture blog.

Originally posted on Church, State, Faith and Culture:

One hundred years ago today World War One began. The President of the US in 1914 was Woodrow Wilson.

Woodrow Wilson was a committed Christian from a Presbyterian background. It was not a secret that his faith guided his politics.

Wilson’s best known for a couple of things.

First, he kept the US out of World War One for about 2 1/2 years.

Wilson was an idealist and a post-millennialist, meaning he believed that the church would usher in 1000 year reign of Christ on earth, a reign of peace. He thought of himself as an instrument toward that end. Wilson’s views coincided with the isolationist views of many Americans-Americans who wanted nothing to do with what they saw as European dynastic squabbles linked to the various empires.

Wilson probably would have succeeded in keeping the US out of the war indefinitely had it not been for two things.

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King Armored Machine Gun Car US_postcard

American AC postcard

I found this postcard in an antique store in Indiana. I’ve not seen anything like it in my limited searches. It appears to be a US manufactured King armored car.

The King Armored Car was manufactured by the Armored Motor Car Company (AMC). It was the first American armored vehicle, and was ordered by the United States Marine Corps in 1915 for testing before being used by the 1st Armored Car Squadron, which consisted of eight cars. The 1st Armored Car Squadron was the USA’s first formal armored unit. Wiki Source picture below.

King armored car

King armored car

My card is post marked post-war 1919. The writing on the back is in pencil and quite faded but it appears the card is addressed to the Ford Seed Company, Rivanna, Ohio. The sender is Louis Evans and Louis is requesting a seed catalog.

A significant portion of the back side of the card relates to the armored car:

The importance of the automobile in the present war can hardly be overestimated. At the beginning of the war, a fleet of Parisian taxicabs enabled General Joffre to get his troops mobilized at the proper point with incredible speed. Again and again the motor car saved the day, but here in the armored machine gun car, we wee the automobile in all it’s glory of war. Note the sturdy construction, solid wheels, steel shield for the man who operates the machine gun, and the small carefully shielded apertures through which the driver can watch the road and still be comparatively safe from hostile sharpshooters.

Although other nations used armored cars in combat in the First World War the Us manufactured King did not according to Wiki. The squadron was disbanded in 1921 and some of the cars sent to Latin American countries.

 

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WW2 American Army Postcards

On a trip southward through Indiana I picked up these three postcards at an antique store. All three deal with men in the US Army either right before our entry into World War 2 or during. I selected them over others because they have writing on the back and were clearly sent to friends or loved ones.

WW2 American Postcard1

This one is  post-marked September 17, 1942, about nine months after the US entered the war. The sender is Pvt. Charles Vanausdall who is part of a HQ detachment at Fort Belvoir. Fort Belvoir was a training center for Army engineers during the war and Charles identifies himself as an E.T.-engineer trainee. I found a link on Ancestry that indicated Charles’ status as a veteran (name and dates match) and burial but didn’t want to sign up for Ancestry and pursue where the grave might be.

Charles is writing to a friend named Arlie Harmon in Lebanon, Indiana. He says, “They are putting us through the paces fast, After I take four weeks of training I will probably take some schooling for some special work that I will be assigned to.”

My understanding of Army Engineers during WW2 is that they were of two types. The first types were “combat engineers” that accompanied the infantry and armor to help with the nasty work of over coming obstacles and fixed defenses. My wife’s uncle was a combat engineer and he was killed outside the Siegfried Line in September, 1944.

The other type of engineer was more the builder than the destroyer and they would be the ones to erect bridges, build air fields, put down roads and other massive projects that would keep the Army on the move.

This is pure speculation on my part but given the date and the location of the fort it is possible that Charles was being trained for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa in November of 1942.

WW2 American Postcard2

The second card is  interesting and colorfully shows  the training of US Infantry. The card is post-marked pre-war, April 3rd, 1941-a time when the US was clearly gearing up for the war in Europe that had been raging since September, 1939. The soldiers on the card could pass for the WW1 variety with the old style steel helmets, gas masks, Springfield Rifles and campaign hats.

The sender in this case appears to be a man named Jan and he’s writing to a Mrs. Mae Hawes of Barton City, Michigan. He addresses Mae as “Dear Friend” and since she is married it is likely that Mae is indeed just a friend.

Jan writes, “Arrived at Camp Grant Illinois this morning but don’t expect to stay long. Will maybe have time to write next time.”

I’m speculating that Jan was drafted and sent to Camp Grant as a way station before going somewhere else for training. According to Wiki, Camp Grant was an induction center but many men did undergo basic training there. Wiki further notes that about 100,000 men were trained as medics at the camp. The camp was also used for the detention of 2,500 POWs. The card is simply signed Jan with no last name on the card.

WW2 American Postcard3There were a number of this type of card at the antique store but I selected this one because it was filled out and had writing on the back. This type of card was meant to save the soldier some time. The soldier simply checked off small talk boxes and wrote something more personal on the back. It was a shorthand letter that fit on a post card.

The date is 2-20-43 and the place it was sent from appears to be Compton(?) Mississippi. The recipient is “Tory Shielda” who lives in Tampa, Florida.  The sender is Sgt. Elbert E. Jones who is in the 116th Field Artillery. Today the 116th Field Artillery is part of the Florida National Guard so one can assume that Elbert was part of that organization when it was called up for Federal service during the war.

Elbert indicates on the face of the card that he feels swell, is relaxing, thinking of Tory, that he needs sleep and that he has the pet peeve that there are no women around! He asks for a long letter from Tory, sends his regards to the folks and says he is “hers” some of the time and always. Tory is clearly Elbert’s love interest.

On the back he writes, “a line to say I’m mad at you and haven’t had a letter or card for a long time. Hope this finds you enjoying the best of all and write soon to Jonesy.

One of the biggest fears a soldier had (has) was to receive a “Dear John” letter. A “Dr. John” letter was a breaking off of the relationship and the realization to the soldier that his girl was not waiting for him to come home.

The first sign that a soldier might receive the “Dr. John” letter was the absence of communication from his sweet heart for a long period of time. I suspect Elbert is worried that Tory has found another and he is looking for reassurance that is not the case.

During my short time in the Army (1971-72) soldiers were still getting “Dear Johns.” We actually sang a song about it indirectly. As I recall, the girls we left behind were cavorting with a fictional character by the name of “Jodie” another male who did not get drafted or enlist. As the song went, when the soldier got home, he’d pay a visit to “Jodie” and bust his head. Crude to be sure but it reflected the anguish of getting a “Dr. John” from the girl who promised to wait for you.

I often wonder how these personal type correspondence end up at rummage sales or antique stores.The speak of relationships and of war and one wonders what happened to the sender and the receiver. Perhaps a relative will one day run a search for their long-lost relative and find the link to my blog. I’d be happy to reunite them with their loved one with the card.

 

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The Oeffag Albatros D III

I’ve been a bit busy as of late and have not posted on this blog for a while. I hope to back soon but in the meantime I hope my readers will enjoy this guest blog from my friend Paul, a bit of an authority on WW1 airplanes. Enjoy!

 

An often overlooked theater in WWI was the Austro-Italian front. Often miss-identified as a German Albatros D III is this Austro-Hungarian variant, the Oeffag (Albatros) D III. This replica was built from the ground up and is photo chronicled at: http://s306.photobucket.com/user/kolomay/library/?sort=3&page=1

Oeffag (Albatros) D III.

Oeffag (Albatros) D III.

 

 

Albatross D III

Albatross D III

The following press release is taken from the Aerodrome forum, Fight in the Skies Society:

Schleißheim (DE) 11th April 2012, Koloman Mayrhofer and Eberhard Fritsch announced that yesterday in the late morning, after a 94-years-long break, a WWI designed Albatross fighter has flown again.

On the Schleißheim aerodrome (Munchen, DE) the OEFFAG Albatross D.III s/n 253.24 replica produced by the two friends, started the test flight operations.

“We’re very happy we reached our goal of making the plane flying” says Koloman Mayrhofer “especially because the replica is historically accurate and it’s fitted with and original six in line cylinders Austro Daimler engine, produced in 1917!”
“We would like to thank all the people involved in the project” continued Mayrhofer “without their passion and devotion, this 20-years-long journey wouldn´t have reached its natural end”.

The text pilot Roger Louis “Tex” Texier, after all the pre-flight inspection controls were done by his C.S. Francis DePenne, performed two flights over the day and afterward declared: “together with Mayrhofer we scheduled to use the first flights just to gain confidence with the aircraft characteristics, but” continued the well experienced test pilot “already on the second flight I felt so connected to the aircraft that I couldn’t help by doing some acrobatics manoeuvres”. These manoeuvres included a series of touch-and-go, a stall, some close turnings and a Immelmann, that aroused the enthusiasm of the crowd on the ground.

The pilot also gave his first impressions: “the Albatross it’s really different from all the other WWI aircrafts I was able to flight: the tail surfaces are extremely sensible unlike the ailerons; the powerful engine grant good acceleration and climbing characteristics…. A real race horse!”.

As the flight program developed, despite bad weather conditions, it was possible to achieve a total of nearly 3 hours of flight by the end of the week.

The flight test activities of the aircraft are carried under the experimental certification of the LBA (German NAA) supervision, and are scheduled to last until 22nd of July.

The aircraft, serial number 253.24, is shown above as it appeared in 1918. A personal aircraft of Oblt. Franz Rudorfer (11 v.), also used by Zgsf.Eugen Bonsch and Oblt.Benno Fiala-3rd highest scoring Austo-Hungarian ace with 28 victories.

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