Friday, September 21, 2012

Kaptein Peder Stangeland

Today, September 21, I celebrate my great grandfather Peder Stangeland on his birthday. He was born in 1873 and lived to be 95 years old.

Below is my very lame attempt to translate a 1933 Norwegian article about Peder Stangeland's 60th birthday. Many of the clippings in my grandparent's scrapbook were Norwegian, of course, and though I should enlist the help of my many relatives in Norway, I used Google Translation, with limited success as you can see (corrections or proper translation is always welcome!).

Captain Peder Stangeland, who will be well known to the traveler audience on our side, turns 60 years on 21 the latter. He is Klepps by birth, but in 8-year-age he moved with his parents to Stavanger, where he was confirmed, and 5 days after graduation he went to sea for long voyages, only 14 years old. Stangeland stayed until 1895, when he came home and took navigation school, after which he went out with Professor Nordenskjold on long voyages.

In 1897, Stangeland was married, and thus was the end of the road in distant waters. He was appointed as Officer on Eira and was there for 4 years. Later he was 2 Officer on dpsk. Sandnæs (now Gann), where he served for 7 years to 1910. This year bought Farmann, something Stangeland led the route Bergen - Hardanger and Stavanger, and then sold the boat to Sandnes, followed by Stangeland. Later he became agent for the Oscar and Eira here in town and served as such until 1923. In some moments between he led among others on Eira.

But Stangeland went again in some distance and led among others, the steamer Majoren, something sank en route from Iceland with a purse of herring, etc. The crew was made ​​up of an Ålesunds-fishing boat and were landed there. In 1928, led Stangeland Hanseat, which was in foreign trade and coasting, but this boat was sold after a years time. The last boat Stangeland led was Hundvaåg, associated shipowner Pedersen. Last year he had to end the sea because of a foot injury and now runs his farm on Våland.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marching from Liverpool to LeHavre

Another oral story and a week of journal entries from my grandfather, Carl O. Ericke, from WWI.

Well anyway, we crossed the Channel, went to Le Havre, and from there on the joy riding was over. We were no longer in the cavalry, as I said, and after hours of taking the American three-inch guns apart, we were now being trained on the French 75, which was a new job altogether, and we had to learn all over again. They put us through some rather hectic days learning about the French 75.        See it in action, here:

And the only thing we had to do with horses from then on were with the horses that carried the caissons. We had to take care of them even though we didn’t ride them. And when I say take care of them – I mean it. We had to wash their privates with soap and water. It's a nasty thing even to talk about it, but they didn’t make it easy for you. We had to take care of them because we depended on them to pull the caissons, so that's about all there is to say at this time.

Saturday, June 8, 1918

Piled off the boat in Liverpool. Oh what a great feeling to stand on real ground after 14 days of water. They left half of our battery to do the work at the dock, Eck too. What a glorious feeling, as we hiked along. Our eyes bulged. Buildings are not very tall. Passed a factory. Lot of girls working in overalls watched us go by. Glorious feeling with the band playing Illinois, girl motormen, double-deck cars with big windows. Few young men but bunches of children and women and old men. Very hilly and we soon showed signs of fatigue. Marched 8 miles to a rest camp called Knotty Ash: big orphan home. Band made up of little kids in sailor suits escorted us for a half mile or so. Mostly uphill – after being on boat so long was pretty hard. Few dropped out. Letters home ought to get out.

Camp consists of about two dozen big tents, 20 men in a tent. Little straw ticks. Coffee nice and bread is all we got. Band played a concert. Couldn’t even go to the fence. Seems as if a regiment before us had bought wine and booze from women and as a result the colonel killed two of the men. He is being held for trial. We’re always out of luck. Some camp followers stood at rear fence and talked a lot of rot. Lots of women flirted with us but that’s all. Guess we’ll be here tomorrow too. They call it a rest camp. Believe me we needed it after that hike.

Sunday, June 9, 1918

Left at about 10am for the train, right near camp. Got more rations of corn willy and hard tack. Funny little cars where you get in on the side, like you see in the movies, eight to a compartment.

Got into Winchester at about 9:30pm. Then a 2-mile hike to barracks at Dinam Hill. Seems everything is hills and we always go up them. Pretty tired and hungry but no eats. It was 4pm in Chicago when we went to bed. Mighty tired carrying those packs.

Monday, June 10, 1918

Slept till 8am. Breakfast of bread (2 pieces) and jelly and coffee. Not much for hungry tummies. Don’t like English camps much.

Went to the English canteen and American YMCA. Wrote some letters. Can’t get any cake or cookies. Very little candy – and expensive. Everything costs a bob (shilling) or more. Five-count bag of Bull a shilling and a two pence. Fierce. Have wet canteen – too bad as usual we are not allowed in.

Tuesday, June 11, 1918

Lieutenant Jones took us for a hike thru Winchester. It is England’s first capital. Last Parliament met there in 945. Saw the Winchester Cathedral. One part of it was built in year of 500. Saw palace of King William the Conqueror, some palace – old dump. Also Parliament Building, King Arthur’s original Round Table, Carving of Queen Victoria, King Lear, etc. Also old relics and souvenirs. Great stuff, all that ancient stuff of which England is proud.

Wednesday, June 12, 1918

Left Winchester and mighty glad of it. English rations two meals a day be damned. A lot of them drilling in howitzers. Took a look at them. We could handle one better than they in a week. The American 3” is the hardest ever. Forgot to mention that on the boat we got all the news, baseball scores and all via wireless from New York. Then about the seventh day out we got war dope from the Eiffel Tower. Oh yes, when we hit Winchester we heard about the subs, getting some boats in NY harbor. Bet it gave the folks a scare. More corn willy and train to Southampton. As we marched to the dock we passed a big hospital. Some cheerful sight just before going over the channel. 

Laid around watching arriving planes and talking to Australian soldiers. They say the English Tommy isn’t worth a rot. They’re yellow. The French and Americans do the fighting. Also give Germans credit for being wonders in the air. Told us to kill but not take Boche prisoners. Also to be careful about picking souvenirs. Handed us a lot of bull about first night in the trenches and a lot of stories how they were wounded etc. Some fellows from Alabama stole a 50 lb. key from Winchester and tried to pull down a statue, etc. As punishment they were put in front line trenches. However, they were full of pep and went over the top more often in one month than the English have since the war started. Captured a German on No Mans Land. Stripped him, gave him a kick and told him they would get him later when they finished playing cards. Can you imagine Fritz.

Well, we got in the side-wheeler La Marguerite at about 6pm. We and Australians (that is our battalion – the other stayed at Winchester) on boat and terribly crowded. If we got hit we wouldn’t have a chance. Wore life preservers again. Passed a lot of half sunk boats about six on way out of bay. Out past Portsmouth and fleet of chasers joined us. About five transports. Made lots of speed. Guess about 24 knots an hour. Soon got dark. Big dirigible
passed in moonlight. Corn willy and hardtack. Got awfully damp. No chance to go below, far too crowded. After all I heard about rough water, the channel was smooth as glass.

Thursday, June 13, 1918

After no sleep, at about 4:30 am we stayed on boat till about 8:30am. Even from the water, the land of France took in a different aspect. Marched thru LeHavre to American Rest Camp called Point 1. All the kids held our hands and coats. People at all the windows, American flags and women throwing kisses, and wounded English soldiers (they wear blue denim uniforms). Mostly old men, women, and loads of children. Some classy dolls in nightgowns gave us a cheer. Mu-la-la. Latrines right on corner. Can see your feet under then, your head also. Those for women are the same. And some dolls on the street. Children all wear black jumpers and artist hats – chapeaus. German prisoner camp here too. Saw bunches of them. Big saw-boned fellows, big round patch in back of coats and legs. Could hear them talk – some were building a shed. Seemed funny to understand German. Have canteen where you can buy beer for 25 centimes. Bull stuff though! Quite a novelty though.

Slept in tents, 12 to a tent. Corn willy warmed us. First warm stuff in long time. Right in channel. See lots of aeroplanes. Were given instructions what to do if there was an air attack. And we haven’t gotten pistols yet! Wrote a letter home.

Friday, June 14, 1918

In the afternoon, marched through town again to the trains. Got three days rations, same stuff. Left about 8pm. Ate and tried to get comfortable. Slept sitting up. Can sleep on our heads now.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Going Overseas in WWI

The Kashmir (1914-32) was one of a series of 9000 ton steamers built in 1913-1914 which survived the war, but were scrapped in Japan in 1931-1932. On Oct. 6, 1918, the Kashmir collided with the Ontranto, an armed mercantile cruiser, off the coast of Scotland. The Ontranto was sunk, and with a loss of 431 lives, 372 of whom were American soldiers on their way to France, it became the biggest convoy disaster during WWI. For more reading on Islay Shipwrecks, check out

Another oral story on World War I from my grandfather, Carl Oscar Ericke, accompanied this time with his personal diary and scrapbook entries. If you're interested in the ships that carried Americans to Europe, follow this link: WWI Ships Histories. Though I found this photo of the Kashmir (above) I'm not exactly sure it's the same ship, based on my grandfather's comments about it's small size. But could there be two boats named Kashmir in WWI?  Grandpa writes in his scrapbook that it is an old Cunard freighter that was currently servicing Eastern India at the time. According to the P&O Heritage Ship Fact Sheet this Kashmir (above) was transferred to the North Atlantic in 1918 to transport troops. It must be the same ship!

The politicians from Chicago came to New York to see us off before we left for overseas. They were a terrible bore, spending most of their time telling how good they were. Well we listened through that and finally that was over and we went back to camp. The next day I believe it was we went to get on the boat and, it wasn’t much of a boat. I don’t know what you’d call it a fishing boat, or what, but it certainly wasn’t one of their better boats, as we found out when we returned home in first class. 

Anyway, we stood it, and it was a rather an unsatisfactory trip because we had to sleep below deck in hammocks. These hammocks were all right except that the upper one used to sway quite a bit, and those fellows would become ill, and do their business and the fellow below would get the worst of it. Finally wound up with all of us sleeping on the deck. There were thirteen days I believe on the water and somehow or other managed to get to the other side and end our boat trip. Only things that were worth mentioning was that there was a lot of play from fellows that wanted to make fellas sick who hadn't become ill, they'd get a bucket and come by those fellas and try to get them to toss their cookies.

Sunday, May 26, 1918

We left Camp Merritt. Took the train to Jersey City. The whole regiment loaded on one ferry and we were taken to Brooklyn dock. We get off and relieved ourselves of our packs and sat down for a sandwich. The boat is big, much more so than any lake boat, but I heard so much of ocean liners that I was somewhat disappointed. About 10 a.m. we registered, went up the long gangplank into the good ship Kashmir. We were crowded 16 to a table one floor below deck. Just got comfortable when they decided to put us at the well deck. So we had to move again. Got our hammocks in place and soon we were all set. The crew was composed of Hindus. The boat was an old banana boat painted war gray. One funnel. The officers have great quarters. Went to sleep like regular Jackie’s. 

Monday, May 27, 1918

Woke at call of English Tar yelling "Out of the Hammocks" at us. Were still in dock. Our meals were fair. We will get 2 a day. Lots of rumors. Got out of dock at about 9 a.m. Passed out of the harbor and joined the rest of our fleet at 10 a.m. We were off! A few songs and a last look at the Statue of Liberty. That was the God of the moment. Most every body on deck watching land disappears. Brooklyn Bridge, the Woolworth Building, all faded away. There are 13 boats in the fleet and one battle ship of cruiser type. About 10 sub chasers escorted us out. Kashmir has 3 sister ships, all of which are sunk. 13th trip is a transport of troops. 13 days since we left Logan on May 13th. Were issued life preservers. Orders to wear them at all times. The water is fairly smooth. No one sick yet. Glad they have a canteen aboard.

Tuesday, May 28, 1918

The old K.C. insists we wear blues. Oh how I hate ‘em. Slept pretty good. Boat rocked quite a bit today. Slept fine last night. Funny feeling when boat rocks or pitches, you feel like in an elevator. Could eat a lot more than we get. About 1/5 cup of coffee. Some of the fellows are sick. Eck has been all in since he got on the boat. I feel fine.

Wednesday, May 29, 1918

Have calisthenics on the boat now, can you imagine it? Still hungry. The old boat is doing her share of rocking now. It is also raining.

Thursday, May 30, 1918

Gee, last night was fierce. Regular storm came up. Thought they would make us stay below. Water all over deck. First you see water, then sky, just like Dad said it was. Stayed up most of the night. No smoking is allowed after 8 p.m. It is rocking all day too. Came mighty near getting sick. God it’s awful. Some sights and smells below deck. Will sleep on deck tonight. They let us in the starboard hurricane deck now as we were too crowded. Slept on deck with Johnny.

Friday, May 31, 1918

There sure is a lot of water in this world. It’s pretty cold and rainy today. Boat has been pitching quite hard though water is getting calmer. Will sleep below tonight. Read a book of Mark Twain.

Saturday, June 1, 1918

Funny experience last night. A little after midnight the boat reversed its engines and blew it’s horn three times. As we had been having boat drill since the first day out and the signal was six blasts of the foghorn we were somewhat excited. We were nearly thrown from our hammocks. Found out this morning from the gunner on our boat that a submarine had shot a torpedo at the nurse boat that was alongside ours and in breaking their course our two boats nearly collided. Very little was said about it though we thought a lot. Fell in for muster today too.

Sunday, June 2, 1918

Forgot to say that yesterday the fleet lined up in battle order, which is V-shaped. The cruiser went ahead and dropped floats that looked like a periscope. The gunners on the various boats then shot at them as they came in sight. We have the best gunners on our boat. In the afternoon we saw smoke in the distance, then a funnel, and finally a boat. Our cruiser started out after it crossed its path and later joined us again.

Monday, June 3, 1918

We put on a submarine guard today as we are now in the war zone. Every so many feet stood a guard with a rifle to watch for submarines. Slept on deck. The card games, craps, and songs go on just the same. Had to take baths in the open.

Tuesday, June 4, 1918

Went on guard today. Got a good look at the brig. Some hole. Smell is fierce due to the Hindu kitchen above. Was pretty cold and foggy.

Wednesday, June 5, 1918

One of the Hindus died of pneumonia. He was buried off the back of the boat in a white canvas. Much ceremony with it. They say the night of the storm one of them got knocked off too when a crane broke loose. Slept on deck. Our cruiser turned back.

Thursday, June 6, 1918

Picked up our convoy. Woke up to find ourselves surrounded with little submarine chasers. At 10pm we sighted land in the form of a lighthouse on our left. It is the coast of Scotland. 

Friday, June 7, 1918

Land! Oh, what a glorious sight. And on both sides. Ireland on one side, Scotland and England on the other. More of the mosquito fleets a couple of airplanes and two big dirigibles. One came real close. Through the North Channel and the Irish Sea, saw the Isle of Mann. Liverpool is where we hit. Some harbor! Houses all red tile tops. Can see funny little 2-story street cars. Went into dock. Funny English policeman in sight. Had to stay on boat for the night. Thank goodness we may get some real food.

Well anyway, be that as we may, we finally got there. Nothing but water, water, water. No sights that I can recall that are worth mentioning. The matter of a diary, I did make a diary and started it when the trip started. So a lot of this stuff is probably recorded in that. 

While on the subject of a diary, I must say that Nancy has been after me to give it to her and since we've been very close the last couple years I do want her to have it. The reason for all that isn't that I think any less of Bill, but I have depended almost entirely on Nancy. Every time she and her husband moved, I moved too to get an apartment someplace nearby where they were living. It gave me a little feeling of safety to be close to her. Since then, I've seen her very often and they have had me at their home many times and I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had her, especially for those moments when I get a little lonesome. I feel a little foolish saying all this because I don't even know if it's recording properly. But I'm hoping it will. The matter of the book isn't very vital but since I did tell her she could have it, I wanted to carry out my promise.

It was interesting when we got over there because we passed Ireland, and Wales, and finally landed at Liverpool. I don't know if I mentioned it or not but when we got there, we were again welcomed by the same politicians that said goodbye to us! I wonder how they got over there. First class no doubt.