30 November, 2010

30 November, 1943 (2nd letter)

V-MAIL
438th AAA AW BN
APO 515 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Nov 30, 1943        2230
Somewhere in England

Dearest

I have just written you a fairly long letter by air mail – but I keep thinking that perhaps V-mail is quicker. Just so you’ll start getting some mail sooner, I thought I’d jot down a few lines.

Things are moving about normally, dear, but somehow the war and all always seems to be in second place to you. If I hadn’t told you before that I love you – I’d probably say again that love is behind that feeling. Well – if love is strong enough to make a war take second place, I can’t see the sense to it, and so there’s another reason I hope they end it all soon.

I’ve written more in my letter, darling – but I guess it all adds up to the same – that I love you and miss you – and want you – and oh so many more things along the same theme. For now, that’s all dear and

All my love
Greg

30 November, 1943

438th AAA AW BN
APO 515  % Postmaster, N.Y.
Sunday, Nov. 30, 1943   2130
Somewhere in England

Dearest Darling –

Each day I want to write you by V-Mail and then I decide to use Air Mail. One day you hear there’s no difference – and another day that there’s no comparison. Today, for example dear – I was told by an officer at a place where I was getting supplies – that V-mail takes 8-12 days, and air mail takes 3-4 weeks. I don’t know what to think or do, darling. I’ll just have to wait until I hear from you. I’ll mix in a few V-mails every now and then just in case.

I’ve just got thru reading another one of your letters; Surprised, dear? Yes – I’ve kept a good many of them – for just such an emergency as going overseas, for example. The one I just read was written the night (Sunday) I left you at Wilder and headed for Edwards, after I spent the week-end at Holyoke. I could write that a different way, Sweetheart, but it would sound funny. It was written when you thought you wouldn’t see me again, although before the letter was finished, you had made up your mind that we could see each other the following Friday – this, mind you, dear, after we had decided that it wouldn’t be wise. I laughed when I read that the first time, and again just now – because I no sooner had left So. Hadley Center – when I had already decided the same. And we did get to see each other, not only Friday – but Saturday too. Was our final ‘so-long’ so casual? I don’t mean casual, darling, I mean easy. In a way, it was, because we had done it before. As I think of it now though I wonder how I ever left you, dear. Why are we always so appreciative of things distant? Or – more appreciative, I should say, because the Lord knows – I loved you deeply and appreciated you all the time I was with you. It’s probably because when you are actually with one you love – that the sensual plays such a strong role; when you are separated – you have time to think and evaluate and weigh, and as I do all that, darling, I become even more aware of you and your qualities and love you more fully. I hope I’m making myself clear. I know this, dear – I never felt like this before – ever; and I did have occasion to. I know I would have loved you as much anyway, but maybe the war is a good thing in a way. It gives you a chance to survey the whole picture from a distance, and gives you plenty of time, at that. My picture is a perfect one dear. If only yours ends up the same way – I know we’ll be very compatible and happy.

Today, Sweetheart, I did some more riding around in a jeep – on business. It was rather cold – but I made good use of my hood – which has, by the way, turned out to be a good investment. Every now and then I think of my car – our car (with the push-back seat, you know). I wonder what has happened to it. Then I wonder what kind we’ll get after the war. I’d like to stick to convertibles – if you don’t mind, dear.

Today – Pete (and he sends his regards) and I were talking about the end of the war and how soon a fellow gets out. I suppose it’s kind of early to be thinking about such things – but I see no harm. If you have something worth waiting for – you don’t mind, and darling, I have you. After the war – it takes time to demobilize an outfit – but I believe it’s done in the States. We could be married before my discharge, couldn’t we? The work is routine; there’s no pressure – and why wait? That could perhaps save several months. It’s something to think about. I’m just waiting for that day, darling when I can call you my wife.

I suppose I sound very sentimental etc. But whatever it is Sweetheart – I hope I sound sincere. I am.

Well – it’s late and I’m tired, darling, so I think I’ll stop now and go to bed. You are all I think about at bed-time dear and it’s a pleasant way of falling asleep. Isn’t it?

Good-night, dear – and you have all my love.

Greg.

29 November, 2010

29 November, 1943 (2nd letter)

438th AAA AW BN
APO 515 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Nov 29, 1943       2000
Somewhere in England

Dear Sweetheart –

I suppose if you were able to get my letters in sequence you’d be amused at the times I write. For instance, last night I wrote you a long letter, sealed it and then proceeded to write you a V-mail letter. I found little difficulty in having enough to write, dear. I wrote you a fairly long letter at about 1630-1700 this p.m. – and here I am writing again. If I tried to write you every time I thought of you – I’d be writing all day and would certainly cause a bottle-neck in the base censor’s office – so it’s a good thing, darling – that I have a couple of other things to do during the day.

Today I felt quite blue for a while, dear. Some of the men and officers got some mail – some dated as recently as Nov. 24. Charlie got two from his wife and one from his folks. They were all air mail and it seems wonderful to think that you can sometimes get mail within a week. They were all addressed with the old APO number. I would have given anything to have heard from you – but there wasn’t a thing for me. However – had I been the only one – I really would have felt bad, but several others didn’t hear and I guess there’s just no figuring how it works. I know you are writing and that’s what counts. I’m sure all your letters will eventually reach me, dear.

This evening we officially opened our officers’ mess, complete with bar. We had all contributed £1 (one pound or 4 dollars) to get a stock going. Then we pay for each individual drink and after the profits turn up – we’ll probably get our investment back. We’ve also given a sum for the purchase of eggs-in-the-shell, if possible; So far – no results. I had a couple of rums, cost 1/8. Remember there are 3 main divisions in prices: pounds, shillings and pence. If something costs one pound, one shilling and one pence – it’s written £1:1/1, so 1/8 = one shilling and 8 pence – or about 33 cents. It was good rum, dear – but you were missing from my side. I couldn’t very well squeeze one of the other officers hands, could I?

Now I’m back in the Dispensary, where I live, incidentally. I’ve got to get my dry cleaning and laundry ready for tomorrow. Yes – I’ve got better facilities here than in the States – except for you, darling! Then I have a few administrative matters to take care of, and I’ll go to bed. I can’t tell you anything about the night life, Sweetheart, because I haven’t been out of an evening as yet. I don’t seem to want to do anything but hang around and think of you. Eventually I’ll go out and have a couple of beers with some of the boys – probably with Pete, anyway.

Well – that’s all darling. This was supposed to be just a note, you remember. I hope, dear – you’re well – and also – that if these letters get to Wilder after you’ve gone, that they’ll be forwarded to Newton.

Good-nite, dear and regards to the girls

All my love
Greg.

29 November, 1943

438th AAA AW BN
APO 515 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Nov 29, 1943        1630
Somewhere in England
Wilma, darling –

And so tomorrow is Dec 1 and the last lap before you graduate. I suppose dear by now you have gone into high gear and are studying like fury. Anyway I hope so. I wonder what you’ve done or are planning to do after graduation, Sweetheart. I find myself thinking a great deal about that these days. You’ll undoubtedly have a lot of time to yourself, even if you work. Will you get bored and fidgety, dear? I pray that you won’t.

The papers here – and undoubtedly the U.S. papers carry so much the past few days about “peace bids”, rumors, etc. One can’t help getting a lift out of that. If the Army and Airforce don’t let up as a result, it’s good tonic. It may be all false – but there’s usually fire where there’s smoke – and maybe something will come of it. I keep thinking of your father’s forecast and wish it were going to be true. Somehow, however, it seems a little premature at this stage.
Last nite, darling, I dreamed of you and your folks. As usual – in dreams – it was very hazy and petered out before it could make sense. It seems I was calling your house by phone. I don’t know from where. Your father answered and recognized my voice and said ‘Wait a minute’. The next voice was that of Shirley B. – for some reason or another and she too said “Wait a minute’. Finally I heard your voice – and the wonderful part of dreams is that I could actually hear it – we exchanged a few words that are non-intelligible to me now – and bingo! – that’s all to the dream. I can only interpret it as a play-back on some of the phone calls I’ve made to you in the past, dear and my frequent feeling of wanting to call you. So far I’ve not been able to find out about telephoning, but you can be sure that if I could conceivably call you Sweetheart – I will – regardless of what it may cost. I think, however, that it seems unlikely. As soon as I get to a big city long enough to find out, I’ll inquire.

I wonder if you’re getting home some of these week-ends or if you’re staying up at school. Have you heard from Shirley or Stan and how are they getting along? Have you been in touch with my folks, dear, – or been to see them? I hope so. I want you to know them very well by the time I get back, dear.

Here – there is nothing particularly new. I find myself – as does everyone else – mimicking the English custom of raising their voices at the end of a sentence and stressing certain words in the middle of a phrase. It’s very peculiar. When you speak on the phone, they always say ‘Are you there?’ But I also find myself liking the English very much. In any of our dealings with the neighboring townspeople – they have been extremely helpful and cooperative – and regardless of what some of our Senators have said – it is the feeling of all American soldiers I’ve spoken with that the ordinary Englishman is very appreciative of the American help here and what they are doing. They speak in great praise of the Airforce, too. And the few British soldiers I’ve spoken with have admiration for the American soldier and the way he lives.

The food here – for the Army – is excellent, and the consensus of opinion, dear, is that you do best if you eat in camp – since everything is so closely rationed outside. Our px’s have everything in the line of cigarettes, tobacco, candy and soap, toilet articles – and even cigars, darling – but each soldier has to have a ration card. The ration however adequately supplies our needs. The eggs in the a.m. are powdered, however, and I haven’t yet got accustomed to that. The milk is powdered, too and has water added to it. It ends up tasting not too bad.

Well, dear – that’s about all this time. I hope I’m lucky enough to dream of you again tonite. But if not – you’re still quiet vivid in my mind, dear – and I do love you so very very much.

All my love for now, darling
Greg

This Ration Card was issued to Greg on November 30th for the month of December, 1943. The first two columns list items and their weekly allotments.  Subsequent columns represent each week and show what was allotted. CLICK to enlarge.



28 November, 2010

28 November, 1943

438th AAA AW BN
APO 515 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Sunday, Nov. 28, 1943   1110
Somewhere in England

Dearest Sweetheart –

The past few days have been very busy ones and I’m not sure dear whether or not I wrote you yesterday. From what I gather about getting mail, sequence seems to be no factor at all anyway. At least that’s true of this side anyway. To date, I haven’t received any mail at all here. The only thing I’ve received at all dear, was the one letter I wrote you about a long time ago. I’ve almost worn the print off – reading it. It was written the day you told me you didn’t think it wise to go to New York, remember? I’m told however that sooner or later – but always – all mail will reach us, so darling, some day I expect a harvest.

Sunday morning in Boston I would be getting ready to call you, Sweetheart. I’m so thankful for our memories because I have ample time to relive them. As I think back over the past few months, it’s wonderful to think how well we got to know each other dear. We really did spend a lot of time together, didn’t we? I’ll never forget my telling you I’d like to get to know you well enough to write to you. Off hand I’d say I did.

I keep wondering if you’ve heard from

Sunday 1830

Darling – I stopped where I did when our Col. dropped in to see me about a couple of things. From that time on ‘til now I’ve been busy without a let-up except for meals. Our letters don’t go out but once a day at 0800, so I’ll have to get mine written the p.m. or night before.

What I had started to say was that I’ll be interested in learning when you first heard from me, dear. I hope you’re being patient, darling. Remember – this is just a war; there have been wars before and they’ve always had an ending. They tell me that even the 30 years war wasn’t fought continuously, but had some intermissions. Now isn’t that cheerful, darling?

Well let me tell you a little more about England, dear. Wouldn’t it be swell if you were here though! It’s not beyond the limits of possibility that we could be here together someday Sweetheart. I’m ambitious. The towns here are really English. That’s very profound, that statement – but what I mean is that they are everything they are supposed to be, and the people, too. The dialect changes strikingly in different counties, even. In one place people say ‘half-penny’, in another – a ‘hay-penny'; in another place they say ‘three-pence’ for three-penny, and in another it’s called a ‘three-penny-bit’. It’s confusing. For that matter – the whole monetary system is, and I’ve even got one Englishman – the one who sent out your cablegram – to admit it. What is most difficult is trying to forget our money. If someone says that will cost 2 and 6, (written 2/6) you immediately try to figure first what it means and secondly what it means in American money. In this case – the 2 is shillings and the 6 is six pence. A shilling is 20 cents and 6 pence = a dime so 2/6 = 50 cents. The best thing to do is to think in terms of English money only, but when they say 2/6 – you expect to pay in 2 coins and find that it comes to one coin. A pound is worth 4 American dollars; there are no single dollar bills, but they do have 10 shilling bills (or notes) = $2.00. Incidentally – the money looks like stage money and is almost as big. It’s too wide for our wallets.

I had occasion to visit Liverpool for about an hour yesterday. It’s a big city with narrow winding streets – not unlike Boston in many respects. There were still many traces of previous heavy bombings. I was trying to locate a certain place for my outfit and had a devil of a time. Everyone I asked said he didn’t know. The people have been extremely well disciplined in not telling anyone anything – no matter what he’s wearing; he might conceivably be a paratrooper in disguise, etc. As you ride through the towns and cities you see red booths with all glass sides except for the frame – set at the edge of the curbstone at street corners. They are telephone booths and in some towns are stationed at every block. Everybody and his uncle rides a bicycle – all over the street; they’re really a hazard.

I haven’t been out with any of the fellows of an evening yet but the reports are in the negative. Every town has pubs – like saloons – and that’s all; no movies on Sundays. The movies are American, though – and in a neighboring town they are showing “Heaven Can Wait”, and Abbot and Costello in “Hit the Ice”. The pubs mostly sell beer – warm, as the English prefer it, and for hard liquor they serve gin, straight – if you can imagine. Oh – for a dry Martini, darling!

Buses transport most of the people and you wait at a corner in queues. You dare not push or crowd or try to get in front of anyone – or you pay a fine. I’m writing all this detail, dear – hoping you don’t mind. I’m just trying to let you project yourself over here a bit; I’m able to do the reverse so easily, that it’s really not fair.

So that’s about all for now except that if it’s 1900 now here it’s only 1500 where you are, dear. When I come home – my Sweetheart – I’ll have 4 extra hours in which to hug and kiss you. I wish I could ration those hours and have – say 15 minutes right now, dear. Boy oh boy! This is the longest I have gone since I’ve known you – without kissing you – and we were getting along so fine –

Well, darling, – I’d better stop now or this won’t fit into an airmail envelope. I don’t know when these letters will reach you but soon I’ll have to start writing to Newton – don’t you think? And to think I came so close to being able to attend your Graduation. Yet in the long run dear I think this was best because out set-up here is a much much better one than I would have drawn with that other outfit. And I do so want to come back safe and sound to marry you, darling, have a family and live happily ever after – Amen.

My sincerest and deepest love, dear – all of it.
Greg.

27 November, 2010

27 November, 1943

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 515 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Nov. 27, 1943
Somewhere in England

Darling –

Note the new APO 515. I am now permitted to write that we are in England. I wrote it before it was permitted, unknowingly, and I think the mail must have been held up. I repeat these things in several letters so that if some letters are held up – one of them that gets through will explain.

How are you, Sweetheart? I hope well – and missing me just enough so that I’m always in your thoughts, just as you are in mine, dear. Gosh we’ll have a lot to talk about after the war! Not only will we have our close association then, but I will insist on re-living at least verbally – the time we spent apart. We’re going to be awfully busy, dear!
Darling, I am at present playing more contract bridge than you are, if you can believe it, and furthermore I’m enjoying it. I started in by filling in some hands during our trip, and I soon became a steady partner. So far, hardly a day has gone by without a rubber or two. By war’s end, dear, I may be able to keep up with you, and perhaps we’ll be able to hold our own against our townspeople.

Can’t write much more, Sweetheart. Take care of yourself and always remember that I love you very very much. So long for now and all my transoceanic love –

Greg
(I mean deep more than across)

Regards to the girls –
    All of them

26 November, 2010

26 November, 1943

[Note from FOURTHCHILD: This is a continuation of the previous letter.]


438th AAA AW BN
APO 515 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Somewhere in England
Nov. 26, 1943        1120
Darling –

I was right. By waiting another day, I was able to get our new APO number duly marked above. This should be ours for some time I presume. Also I know definitely now that we can say we’re in England. My earlier letters didn’t allow that – although I did write it. It is because of that fact, dear, that I fear some of those letters did not get to you. It seems that it is not so much the strictness that causes the trouble as much as the time element – and that is why our letters are held up – so that there will be no association of time and place.

Anyway dear – we are somewhat settled now and everything is quite fine. I may say that the scenery and background here are everything I imagined them to be, and all British soldiers with whom we have met are extremely friendly and apparently glad to see us. We are allowed passes I’m told and have very little trouble getting to the big cities.

Sweetheart – that’s all for now. I do hope that some of these letters are getting through to you, dear, and I hope also to hear from you soon. Be well, darling, and by the time you get this – you should be doing some hard studying for those big exams – so hit them hard and good luck.

So long for now and all my love
Greg

25 November, 2010

25 November, 1943

438th AAA AW BN
APO 4916 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Nov. 25, 1943           1120
Dearest Sweetheart – 
 
Today is Thanksgiving here too and I can’t help but wondering dear what it would be like were I back home. The idea of distance and space has not yet left a deep impression upon me, darling; I still can’t seem to realize that getting to the nearest phone won’t help very much. So if I muse a bit, excuse it dear.
 
I imagine we’d eat at one of our houses – but not until we had spent the morning together somewhere – maybe even at the Boston Latin – Boston English game at Fenway Park. I used to take that game in, as did many of my old high-school friends. It was always a good place to meet up with an old pal.


Anyway, Sweetheart, I wonder what you’re doing, or if you’re home. I imagine you are – if so, I hope you called my folks. My own day is something I can’t talk about – and that reminds me, dear – I haven’t been here long, but we’ve already had 4 or 5 versions of censorship and at this point I’m all confused. The very latest is that about everything we’ve written so far shouldn’t have been written, and that undoubtedly everything was held up to be returned or merely confiscated. If that is so, darling, I don’t know what letters you’ve already received from me, dear, – if any. If you haven’t received very many – remember that it wasn’t because I didn’t write.

Perhaps in a few days, dear, we may be able to get an SOP (standard operating procedure) as to what we actually can or cannot say. At this particular time it consists of nothing in the line of news.

Yet, dear, despite the fact that the other fellows insist there’s no sense in writing now and consequently don’t – I feel that I want to commune with you as much as I can, and somehow, when I sit down to write you a few lines, I feel just that much closer to you, darling. I haven’t been away from you for a very long time – as time goes, but I miss you, dear, like I didn’t believe possible. It’s a healthy longing, though – which creates many many pleasant thoughts about the future. My love for you, darling, will be saved and stored just for you. Of that be certain, because I am. The thought of you never leaves my mind for a moment dear, and for that I am very thankful. It’s easy to get lonesome out here – but when I think back to home and you I get a wonderful lift. I pray dear that the reverse is true.

Right now – I must be on my way. I won’t close this letter – because from experience I’ve already learned of the changing censorship rules. So long for now, Sweetheart

Greg

[Note from FOURTHCHILD: This letter is continued on 26 November.]

24 November, 2010

24 November, 1943

Greg's first V-Mail to Wilma was censored only
with regard to the date, which was inked out.


Written 24 November, 1943.
Postmarked 15 December at 10 pm.
Received 23 December, 1 month later. 


[Note from FOURTHCHILD: V-Mail images have been edited to keep them anonymous. 
The letter is transcribed below.

V-MAIL
438th AAA AW BN
APO 4916 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Nov. 24, 1943
Somewhere in England

Darling,

Arrived safely. The trip was very pleasant dear. I have written you more about it, but I wanted this to get to you sooner.

Have not yet received any of your mail, but expect I will very soon now. Hope you had a happy birthday. I had no way of celebrating while aboard ship, Sweetheart – but I was thinking very hard.

I believe we’ll have a new A.P.O. soon, dear – but so far this is the only one to use. Will write more as soon as we get settled. That’s all for now.

All my love
Greg.


The following telegram was sent the same day
and received on the 6th of December, 1943.


23 November, 2010

23 November, 1943

[Note from FOURTHCHILD: This letter was begun on ship on November 17th, 1943.
It was continued on November 20th and completed in this portion, on the 23rd.]


Darling,

Since this won’t be mailed until the trip is over I believe I can say that it is almost over now. Someday, Sweetheart, I believe we ought to take a trip of some sort on water – perhaps a honeymoon, although I won’t insist on water of course. Really, if the ocean could be as calm always as it has been for us – I would never mind ocean traveling.

What lies ahead for our outfit no one knows, although various suggestions have been offered. We’ll just sit back and see.

I should be celebrating someone’s Birthday today, dear – but instead I’m riding the waves. Well – if I were celebrating something I couldn’t be any closer in mind even if I were right next to the party involved than I am right now – and regardless of distance – my sincerest wishes for a long and happy life.

I’d better stop now, darling. I wasn’t going to seal this until I got a new APO number, but no one is sure when we’ll get it, and if it is changed – the APO officials will forward mail anyway. I’ve been told that it takes as much as 3 weeks for regular mail or air mail to get to the States – but I’ll find out from you, dear.

Meanwhile – all I can say is that I miss you terribly dear and yet if it weren’t for our love – I don’t believe I would be facing the future with the feeling of hope and desire to get a job done with so I can get home and –

you know what.

My deepest love
Greg

22 November, 2010

22 November, 1943

No letter today.    Just this:

* TIDBIT *

R.M.S. Aquitania Menus

Greg's collection of Officers' menus from the Aquitania looks like a collection from a cruise of today. But what about a midday meal?

[Click on an image to make it larger.]
 







21 November, 2010

21 November, 1943

[Note from FOURTHCHILD: This letter was begun on ship on November 17th, 1943.
It continues as his passage continues across the Atlantic...]

Still at Sea –
(as to what to write)
without having it censored
Well, dear,

The voyage is still a pleasant one, the food is still good and everything seems safe. I haven’t done a thing but relax and I guess I needed it, because the last month or so was one of tension. So far I’m writing only to you and my folks. I’m not using V mail yet because there really isn’t much room to write.


 Below are a few things Greg sent home from the journey.
[Note from FOURTHCHILD: These images are edited to keep them anonymous]

Aquitania Room Assignment - B Deck

Aquitania Mess Assignment - Second Sitting
 
Aquitania Berthing Assignment for
Greg's Medical Detachment - Section A11

20 November, 2010

20 November, 1943

No letter today.    Just this:

* TIDBIT *

Wesley Ward, from upstate New York, served aboard the Aquitania in a gun crew during all of 1943 and after. In a small journal he wrote the following entries, which give added insight to Greg's crossing:

17 November 1943 Wednesday
- Left NY at 10:00AM. Cold as hell
18 November 1943, Thursday
- Cold

19 November 1943, Friday
- Cold as hell, headed toward Scotland

20 November 1943, Saturday
- Getting warmer, sea a little rough, rain

21 November 1943, Sunday
- Warm in gulf stream. Cleaned gun. Airplane school

22 November, 1943, Monday
- Sea little rough. Convoy attacked by 6 German planes, 100 miles from us

23 November 1943, Tuesday
- Sea high. Biggest rolling sea I ever saw

24 November 1943, Wednesday
- Got in Scotland at 6:30AM. Cold as hell. Tore gun down

There are quite a few videos and slideshows about
the Aquitania posted on YouTube, many using music

from from the movie "Titanic." One of the best is:

19 November, 2010

19 November, 1943


No letter today.    Just this:
* TIDBIT *
about the

R.M.S. Aquitania

Postcard of Cross Section, 1913
The AQUITANIA, laid down in 1910 for Cunard by the John Brown and Company yards in Clydebank, Scotland, was the longest serving Cunard ocean liner built in the 20th century. In keeping with Cunard tradition, she was named after a Roman province, this one in southwest France. With the United Kingdom as her Port of Registry, the ship was originally planned to make North Atlantic crossings along with the Lusitania and Mauretania. Launched in April of 1913, it was the first liner equipped with enough lifeboats for every passenger, as the Titanic disaster occurred during her construction. The Aquitania left Liverpool on its maiden voyage on 30 May 1914, bound for New York.
Aquitania Set for Sea Trials
The most exceptional feature of the Aquitania, aside from its size, was the luxury of the interior passenger areas, which were far superior to anything seen on the North Atlantic before. The columned Palladian lounge and the Louis XVI-style first class dining room rose through two decks. The appearance of the large smoking rooms had been copied from the Royal Naval College in London. These fantastic interiors earned the Aquitania the nickname "Ship Beautiful." Some are shown in the postcards that follow.

(Click on an image to make it larger.)
 
 
The ship made only two more voyages to New York before the outbreak of World War One, when it was refitted for military service along with other highly distinguished ships such as Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Normandie and Île de France. After proving too large for use as an armed merchant cruiser, the Aquitania made three voyages as a WWI troop transport and then was converted to a hospital ship for use December 1915-January 1916 as well as November-December of 1916.The entry of the USA into the war in December 1917 brought the ship back into military service to transport the American Expeditionary Force.
Aquitania as Troop Carrier
Aquitania as Hospital Ship in World War I
The Aquitania went on to operate on the Southampton-Cherbourg-New York route, along with the Mauretania and Berengaria, and passenger accommodation was extensively modernized during annual re-fits. With improving times and ocean travel the only means of transportation across the oceans, she became one of the most profitable ocean liners in history.
Postcard of a Painting of the R.M.S. Aquitania
Some of the big money now came in from movie stars and royalty, other aristocracy and politicians, as the 1920s became one of the most profitable ages in ocean travel history. The Aquitania's plush and extravagant interiors remained reminiscent of an era which had been largely diminished by years of war. Even as the Roaring 20's ushered in the era of art deco, Aquitania held fast to the ideals of the early floating palaces throughout all her refits.
Postcard of the Aquitania Leaving New York
In 1932 the Aquitania was used as a pleasure cruise ship for the first time, cruising in the Mediterranean and from New York to Bermuda. Requisitioned as a troop transport on 21 November 1939, at first it was used to transport Canadian troops. During 1940 it underwent a refit in America and was defensively armed with six inch guns. From March onwards it was based in Sydney transporting Australian and New Zealand troops, also making two passages between Pearl Harbour and San Fransisco. For the remainder of the war it was employed on the Atlantic, carrying 10,000 soldiers to war with each Scotland-bound crossing,  and carrying the wounded home on her return to New York.  The Aquitania then served to bring of Canadian and American troops home after the fall of Germany.
Aquitania painted wartime gray.
On April 1st 1948 the Aquitania was released by the Admiralty and once again wore her Cunard colors. After a quick refit for passenger service, the Canadian government chartered the ship to carry emigrants from Southampton to Halifax. Fleeing the war-torn cities of Europe, thousands of people fled Europe to seek a new life in Canada. By December of 1949 this role had been fulfilled, and later that month Cunard announced that the Aquitania would be withdrawn from service.  
Toward the end of her service her funnels were
painted but the wartime gray remained.
She had served ever since 1914, carried out her duties in two major conflicts and steamed over three million miles, completing nearly 450 voyages. In January of 1950 the vessel's furnishings and equipment were auctioned. Later that month the ship was sold to the British Iron & Steel Corporation Ltd for £125,000. The Aquitania then sailed from Southampton to Faslane, in Scotland where it was broken up.
Her four funnels gone forever, the Aquitania is scrapped.

R.M.S. AQUITANIA
SPECIFICATIONS
Gross Tonnage - 45,647 tons
Length – 901 Feet (275.2m)
Beam – 97 feet (29.6m)
Draft – 36 feet (11m)
Number of funnels - 4
Number of masts - 2
Construction - Steel
Propulsion – Quadruple-screw (4 shafts, 4 propellers)
Engines - Geared steam turbines; 59,000 shp
Accommodations – 3,230 passengers; 972 crew
Service speed - 23 knots;  6 days across Atlantic

LINKS
Facts and photos here overlapped on many
web sites, but some sites are most worth mentioning.

included emails from people who were transported
by the Aquitania during World War II and linked to
many other sites including:

18 November, 2010

18 November, 1943

[Note from FOURTHCHILD: Greg wrote one long letter while crossing the Atlantic.
Portions will be posted as though separate letters, according to surmised dates.]

438th AAA AW BN
APO 4916 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Somewhere at Sea; Date also ?

Dearest Sweetheart –

I keep looking out over the water and I can hardly realize that it is I who is actually aboard a ship carrying me overseas. Of course I can’t tell you when I left. For the time being you’ll have to guess for yourself, darling. It shouldn’t be too difficult.

To begin with, it has been very thrilling and exciting and so far – outside from the ever present fact that I’m getting farther away from those I love – it has been a pleasant trip. Remember, darling, that there’s practically nothing that I’m allowed to write concerning all this, and of course this won’t be mailed until we arrive.

I believe I can write that this is our second day out. The sailing has been perfect. The boat is magnificent to the point of being luxurious, and I guess my luck is still present because we could have drawn a much worse boat than this one. Of course, darling, I’ve been taking those sea-sick capsules – and so far I haven’t felt sick at all. Some of the boys have. But the truth is, the sea is not rough at all right now.

The food is worthy of the finest hotel. We eat in 4 seatings. But it’s at large (seats 8) round tables, waiter service, tablecloths, etc. – and breakfast always includes fish – among several other things. Honestly, darling, I’m amazed at it all and had no idea that going over would be as pleasant as this. The only places we can smoke are on the outer decks – of which there are several, (and daytime only); also the officers’ lounge which is converted from a former grand ballroom.

Our routine has been easy. I’ve been able to get up at 8-8:30. The stateroom I share with several other fellows has one wash-stand, an easy chair, elaborate bureau and connecting bathroom with both hot and cold running water. After shaving – we eat and then have boat drill. Then relax or sleep, eat, smoke, boat drill again etc. Now, darling – who said that war was tough?

I only hope darling that you’re not worrying too much about me. Apparently all is safe and everyone exudes confidence. Anyway, if I ever saw a Nazi submarine, I’m sure I would react as I do in the movies – namely sit back and expect H. Bogart take over.

Darling, the one thing I do feel is lonesomeness for you. That is always present, dear, and particularly because our mail has not come in. I do hope that by now you’ve received some of the mail I sent you last week. Pretty soon, now, dear, you ought to hear from me – somewhat regularly and I from you, and that ought to make things a little bit easier. For the time being dear I’m going to stop. But I won’t seal this now, but wait to write you later. So long for now Sweetheart –

17 November, 2010

17 November, 1943

No letter today.    Just this:

* from The Route of the Question Mark *

Page 17 and the top of Page 18 from The Route of the Question Mark are transcribed below,  describing aspects of Camp Shanks and the crossing of the Atlantic on the Aquitania.  You can see scanned pages by clicking in the box of the same name, above.

pp. 17 and top of 18

"The back-breaking haul up the hill at Camp Shanks when we were trying to find our barracks... The rain... The series of last-minute inspections and the interminable chow-lines... The night we all got a pass to New York, and the condition of the men who staggered in for roll-call the next morning... The ferry-boat ride across the North River the night we boarded the Aquitania, and the Red Cross Girls on the pier who tried to force on us the candy and doughnuts that we were too burdened-down to accept... The last glimpse of America... Life-boat drills... Life-preservers in the chow-line... The boxes of Hershey bars that we all ate all the way across the Atlantic... Our splendid quarters on the "A" deck... The agreeable voyage, traveling alone, unhindered by an escort or a convoy..."

16 November, 2010

16 November, 1943

438th AAA AW BN
APO 4916 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Nov. 16, 1943          1430

Dearest Sweetheart –

It was with extreme surprise and pleasure that I received your letter (one) a short while ago. It was one which you wrote Nov. 12 and before I had called you Friday night. I don’t know what has become of your other letters but I’m sure I’ll get them all very soon now, dear.

This was a very busy day in camp, darling, for many reasons, but my wash is about done at this point and I now can sit back and relax.

I guess all in all it was best that we didn’t meet in New York. As you said, it could have been very trying. And by the way, Sweetheart – I do hope you are managing to get enough work and studying done to do a good job in your exams. I know you’ll pass, but you should do much better than that.

I keep thinking about your Birthday and graduation, and it makes me sad to think I won’t be able to spend either with you. But I’ll be back to celebrate other Birthdays and gosh, darling, we’ll have a lot of fun doing it.

Yes, whatever else you do, you must be good in hygiene and allied subjects if you want to be a doctor’s wife, although I don’t really care – as long as you remain as sweet and lovable as you are.

Darling, this is all the time I have right now. Be good, dear and keep thinking of me. I’m glad and proud of what you write me concerning us and our future and don’t ever fear that anything you write to me will ever become boring.

So long, Sweetheart, so long. Send my fondest regards to your folks and thank the girls for their wishes. I don’t know when I’ll be able to write again – but until then – keep all my love.

Greg.

16 November, 1943 (Card)

[Note from FOURTHCHILD: Sent in advance of November 23rd, Wilma's birthday]



15 November, 2010

15 November, 1943

438th AAA AW BN
APO 4916 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Nov. 15, 1943           1120

Dearest Girl –

I have just returned from the Western Union where after a few deletions they finally agreed to send a night letter to you – which you no doubt have received some time ago. The message was self-explanatory, dear.

Guessing from Wilma's underlines and note in pencil,
"SEE WELL" was a pre-arranged signal for "On the way."

I don’t know, darling, when you began to get letters from me – but presumably you are getting them by now. As yet, no word from you – and frankly I see no reason at all for the delay from your direction. I know you are writing frequently, darling, and I can at least look forward to a nice juicy batch of letters, which I will carefully arrange in sequence, find myself a corner and read over and over again the things you wrote me when I first left Massachusetts.

Sweetheart – there is actually nothing at all to write about. The week-end was the longest I ever remember and just dragged and dragged. I read the N.Y. Times from cover to cover, page by page; I played cribbage for hours; we sat around and talked and finally in the evening went over to the Officers’ Club for some beer.

Today we gave some more shots. After the war, darling, I swear I will want to inoculate everyone for everything. There’ll be special consideration for my wife, however.

Well I’ll stop now, darling. I know these letters aren’t very long, but I’m limited in many respects – and as long as you hear from me frequently, dear, I know you won’t mind.

So long for now, darling, and all
my love.
Greg.

P.S. The moon has not helped
these past few nights.

Love
G.