Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Commander Joseph K. Taussig, Commander, Destroyer Division Eight

[Extract]

Monday

July 16

Queenstown.

     We arrived at Queenstown at half past eight Saturday morning after a rather sleepless night on my part. Passed several patrol vessels acting singly and at about 2 a.m. sighted a convoy of six merchant vessels escorted by four destroyers. About the same time sighted two merchantmen proceeding independently – one with a destroyer escort.

. . . .We went next to the Benham and I was surprised to find Lieutenant Commander Lyons1 in command instead of Gay2 who I understand is now executive officer of the Dixie. It seems that when the Benham was at St. Nazaire, Gay was informed that he would sail at a certain date- so without asking permission he visited Nantes. The Benham was ordered out ahead of time and sailed without the Captain. Hence Gay’s detachment.3 Such is life! It’s a great one if you don’t weaken! Personally I believe that I would not leave my ship over night under the present conditions without special permission from higher authority. But I think about half the captains would have done the same as Gay under the circumstances. Hence I feel sorry for Gay because I know he must be broken up over losing his command –

. . . .Yesterday (Sunday) I started out by pulling the bathroom door off its slide and letting it drop on my right foot. Fortunately only two toes were struck, but the pain was acute and made me quite faint for an hour. Dr. Tanner4 bandaged me up, and by splitting an old shoe I was able to get it on, and by using a cane have been able to get about. But I am still aware that I possess a right foot.

. . . .I started in today by having my foot bandaged and then went ashore to send a cablegram to Lulie-5 Tomorrow is her birthday. On the way back to the ship stopped at Ammen and saw Logan6 for about half an hour. The Ammen came across with the fourth section of troop ships. On leaving St. Nazaire at night she ran aground on a shoal in the fairway and damaged one propeller and her rudder. The damage was sufficient to require docking, so there has been a board of investigation and Logan is worried about it.7

. . . .Tonight I received a personal letter from Admiral Sims in regard to an official report I made concerning radiograms sent to me while on escort duty with our Army transports. I made the official report because I thought he wanted it. He called me down by radiogram on account of two messages I sent. Of course I thought I was right and he was wrong. He says I was wrong so I suppose I was. He suggests that I withdraw the report, so of course I have done so – tore it up and threw it in the waste basket. And I have just written a letter to the Admiral, acknowledging my mistake and placing myself in the category of one of the anybodies of the saying: “Anybody is apt to make a mistake – that is why they put rubbers on lead pencils.”

     Now I am going to bed. It is 11:30 p.m. 

Source Note: D, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97. Naval Historical Collection. The diary is written on ruled paper with a vertical line one inch in along the left margin. The place and date is written in that space. It is sometimes repeated when the diary entry continues on second and third pages.

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. David Lyons.

Footnote 2: Lt. Cmdr. Jesse M. Gay.

Footnote 3: See: Pringle to Sims, 4 July 1917.

Footnote 4: Assistant Surgeon Lt. Chester O. Tanner.

Footnote 5: Taussig’s wife, Lulie Johnston Taussig.

Footnote 6: Lt. George C. Logan.

Footnote 7: Logan retained command of Ammen and received a Navy Cross after the war for his service. DANFS.

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