9 February 1918:
This is the sixth day out and I havenot written before because of the restless waves. The seais still rolling but not rough.The first thing we saw, after leaving port, was a torpe-doed tramp. The stern was under water. Fritz did not gether though, as she was heading for land, under her ownpower. Believe me, we kept some lookout. While lookingat her, the crew’s attention was called back to our ship bya fire on board. We soon had it out as every man knewhis place.As soon as we were away from the sheltering shoreswe had rough weather
. The weather was not nearas rough as some we have had, but the waves were veryhigh, making the ship roll and pitch a great deal. We didnot use tables to eat on but used bowls.I do not swing [use a hammock] but sleep on the deck.In good weather it seems crowded below, but when the fel-lows on deck are driven below by bad weather, it sure lookslike a cattle car, or better yet, a chicken car, as there areabout three layers of us. First come the gents who swing.All hooks are used and everything else that a hammockcan be swung on.On the sides of the berth deck are benches used for lock-ers and seats. They are about a foot and a half wide; thoseare used next. Fellows lashing themselves on them so thatthey will not roll off. Then the benches used to eat from arenext in order for beds. Much the same procedure used forthe other benches except that the benches must be lashedto something to keep them from sliding around the room.Last of all come the men in Freddy’s class; we sleep onthe deck. I prefer to sleep on deck as it is cooler and moreconvenient. The men on deck sleep in a scrambled eggfashion. Some will be using my feet for a pillow and I willvery likely be using somebody’s back or other portion of hisbody, for my pillow. We must not show a light so a littleshaded light is all we have down there. I will describe onenight’s sleep. . . . I turned in around seven thirty. I had the
I am now signalman; there are four of us,and every other day we are off. At sea, I turn to again asan O.S. [Ordinary Seaman]In case my other letter did not reach you, I am goingto repeat a request for some stuff—Durham Duplex [razor]blades, vest pocket Kodak film, and a box of Wrigley’s JuicyFruit Gum, also newspapers.
Your Freddie has seen a real GermanU Boat, but would much rather see the Statue of Libertyloom up before his gaze, still I am not homesick, althoughI surely do miss home. It’s funny, one day I think of homeas a means of getting a certain dish that I liked and thenext day it will be some music I would like to play on thepiano and so it goes.
Uncle Sam has given us free postage as aChristmas gift. It is welcome more because of the conve-nience it gives than the money saved. Stamps sure werescarce articles, but now we can write and mail a letterwhenever we wish.About the fellows on the ship. There are some mightyfine boys on board and I get along very well with them.The crew runs from one “gob” who has taken postgradu-ate work at Yale, to one who claims that he has been inpractically every jail in the States, so you see I have plentyof companions to choose from. There is very, very littleswiping among the crew. In fact, things I have lost havebeen returned to me. Of course, unmarked clothing is notowned by any one, so if a fellow fails to mark his clothes,he has to take a chance.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY THE AUTHOR
Ordinary Seaman Frederick R. Foulkes poses proudly in fulluniform. This photo most likely was taken at Fort Trumbell, New London, Connecticut, in April 1917, the same monthhe enlisted in the Coast Guard. Four days after his enlistmenthe wrote home requesting his camera, and used it frequently tochronicle his wartime service.