Eldred Letter - 2006
Willard G. Eldred
9 Dana Court, R.D. 4
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
Oct. 25, 2006
Sorry for the delay in responding to your inquiry. Apart from our travel schedule, the delay was related to the 2 trunks of old pictures and letters from grandmother Eldred that are in my basement and have never been reviewed until now.
Much to my surprise I found a number of letters and pictures from my father to his mother while serving in the Navy. The letters were difficult to read and unfortunately didn’t shed much light on my father’s service. They were clearly aimed at assuring his mother that he was OK and not in any danger. For example, he told his mother that there wasn’t much flu around and that the medical facilities were excellent whereas one of the few things my father told me about the flu pandemic was the large number of men with the flu at the base in Corfu with little or no medical attention. He and others with the flu were, he said, left there to die in the opinion of some. He had a scar on his left hip which he received when he crawled to a stream to get water and cut his side leaning over to get a drink.
From his letters, here’s a summary of his navy service:
Enlisted in January 1918 and was sent to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for transportation overseas.
In July 1918 was finally shipped out on the W.S.S. Henderson. Enclosed a typewritten copy of his letter on board ship describing the fire, etc.
Later in July he arrived “somewhere” in Italy. (A copy of this letter enclosed. It was one of the few clear enough to copy). In September he arrived at the sub chaser base #25 in Corfu, Greece and assigned to sub chaser #244. They were engaged in patrolling the Otranto (sp?) Strait between the Adriatic and the Mediterranean Seas. Apparently there was a naval engagement of some sort, but no details. He did say sub chasers had destroyed more submarines than did the destroyers and his detachment lead the list.
Arrived in Malta, on the way to Gibraltar, on Christmas Day 1918. (after the war ended) In February, he was at Gibraltar which he described as an “impressive fortress”.
He had the option of staying in the navy until they arrived home in about 6 months or being discharged at Gibraltar and paying his own way home. He elected on the Gibraltar discharge and was discharged on March 4, 1919.
He made contact with some American soldiers who were returning to the U.S. on an Army Troop Ship. They took him on board as a stowaway and the fellows loaned him an
Army uniform so he could pass as one of the crowd. He slept in a life boat.
I have enclosed a copy of my father’s March 28, 1940 letter in response to a request for information on early scouting in Oceanside, N.Y.
This is about all I can think of that might be of useful for you. Most the other material you already have. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask.