Thursday, February 3, 2011

James N. Ryan - Great White Fleet - The Final Leg
During the final leg of the cruise, the USS Virginia departed from Manila, traveled through the Suez Canal, and made stops in Smyrna, Turkey and Gibraltar before heading home to Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Each member of the USS Virginia was issued a commemorative chart of the entire cruise.  Matt Biederman has Jim's copy framed and in his home.  You can click on the link under the chart above and scroll around the entire map.  You can see where the battleship was on each day and the number of nautical miles sailed while at sea.

In the Mediterranean, different battleships docked at different ports.  The Virginia stopped in Smyrna, Turkey. This was a place of special fascination for Jim.  Matt has a letter mailed home from Turkey.  I love its contents.

Here is my best attempt at a transcription:
Smyrne, Turkey
January 13, '09
Dear Father,
Your loving letter of December 25th was received yesterday and I was more than delighted to hear from you. We arrived here in Smyrne on the 11th and we stay here until the 25thh of January. It is very cool in this part. You know we are not very struck on cold weather, not being in a cold country on a long while. I think we'll know it alright when we strike New York. The ships company of this ship is kept very busy at this point.  We are going through a navy yard overhauling. I think the ships will have to stand a very strong inspection when we get back to New York, so we are trying to make the ship look it's best.

Well, dear Father, how are you and dear Mother and why don't she write?  It is a coon (?) age since I heard from her.  What is a matter with Rose also, why they must be afraid to write.  I wish you would get them to write me a letter now and then.  Also give them my best love.

I see by your last letter that Mrs. Luffuss ? out to the house.  I also see that she made a hit.  Well what do you think of her?  Would you leave your happy house for her ?  I guess she thinks I am a peach.  I have not sent her a postal or anything since I have been on this trip.  But what is the difference is you got a good pull.  There is another lad on this ship who is writing to her. He kept company with her before he shipped in the navy.  He is a duckman, too.  But she don't know that I know him.  But I do.  So you see I am a good heart.  I am giving him a chance to make good.  So if he don't, it is his own fault.

Say how ? to Eddy to give him my best.  Tell him it will hurt him to drop a note now and then.  I was ashore the day before yesterday.  I think this is the most immoral place I was ever in.  Turkish you know you can get anything you are looking for.   Well, dear Father, as I have wrote all I really know I will have to bring my letter to a close.  Hoping to hear from you very soon. I remain, as ever, your loving son.

James N. Ryan

1 comment:

  1. What a treasure! It's a grand letter, full of personality. I rather feel sorry for Mrs. Luffuss. It seems she had quite a reputation.


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