Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, to Caroline Wing Mayo
My own dear Carrie: London _ Sept. 27-, 1917
You have been neglected- but it was unavoidable. As it is now certain that my letter will go on the steamer that takes us, I will simply jot down the main points of the happenings of each day so that they may be reminders on which to enlarge in conversation. We left Calais at 8-40 a.m. Tuesday arriving at Dunkirk about 10-00. We were met by Admiral Ronnark, French Navy, the French General commanding,1 and some British naval officers representing Vice Admiral Bacon,2 and were taken in autos to the harbor pier - The British Flotilla leader “Broke”3 arrived a few minutes later from Dover bringing Admiral Jellicoe4 and Vice Admiral Bacon. The latter commands all the British Naval Forces in Dover and along the north French coast and Flanders. After they arrived we were taken to see some British Naval Batteries on shore, then to a Hotel for Lunch. After lunch we went out to the big British Aviation station – where they have about 400 machines. Dunkirk was heavily bombed in the air raid of the previous night and the Huns did tremendous damage at this station. It is said that the population of Dunkirk is being rapidly reduced. People do not like the air raids and are getting out. We saw much evidence of damage done – buildings shattered, windows gone, etc. From the aviation station we went back and on board H.M.S. “Broke”. Saw a new style of C.M. Boat of great speed and carrying a single torpedo,5 inspected a mine net laid out for the purpose. Then we went to sea and toward Ostend. There a monitor was in position, a smoke screen was being laid as we approached, Destroyer patrols were out, aeroplane spotters were in the air and aeroplane fighters also, and the monitor began a bombardment of Ostend. Soon the Germans woke up and began to reply and there were shells dropping in our direction, some of which fell quite near us. We spent an hour or so – probably less – there then steamed off toward Dover. Stopped to look at the net barrage near the Goodwin Sands, then into Dover harbor. Found a special drawn up on the track abreast where we landed – and we were soon off for London. Just then the approach of five enemy aeroplanes toward Dover was reported. The train was held up a bit by a freight car off the track and then went very slowly so as not to reach London during the air raid. We had dinner in the car, about 9-30 the air raid was reported over so we went more rapidly and reached London at 10-30 p.m. I came right to the Hotel and turned in. Yesterday was a full day. . . . I went to the Embassy at 10 a.m. and waited some time for Embassador Page6 – then had quite a lark with him. From the Embassy I went to Sims’ office7 and was there until I had to leave to keep an appointment with Admiral Jellicoe at the Admiralty. He gave me a lot of papers which he wanted me to read over before leaving. Had lunch at the Hotel at 1-30, then wrote notes of thanks to various officials in France who had been nice to us during our visit – then read a portion of Jellicoe’s papers. Arrangements had been made for the King8 to receive me at 6 P.M. and at 5-45 Admiral Everett,9 who is a King’s Aid, came for me and we went to the Palace (Buckingham)- There a Gentleman in waiting received us and were seated in the “Oriental room” until the King was ready for me. We were a little early, as is usual. At 6-00 promptly I was informed that the King was ready to receive me. I was escorted to the door by Sir — something or other — and introduced and then left with the King who gave me a chair, sat down with me, and we had a chat for about fifteen minutes. I liked him – and there was no fuss or anything of the kind. He had a good deal to say about the German air raid of Monday night – when one bomb dropped near the palace – one very close to the Parliament building, and a number in East London. Then the war was discussed, the attitude and assistance of the U.S., etc – and the interview was over. I came back to the Hotel, read the evening papers and went to Mall House for an eight oclock dinner with Admiral Jellicoe. The other guests were Lord Balfour, Rear Admiral Duff and Commander King.10 Had a most pleasant time – Lady Jellicoe, who had been out in the country, came about 9 P.M- We left her at the table and went to the drawing room and she only came in there for a minute later on – I got back to the Hotel at 10-30, turned in and read papers until nearly midnight. This morning I have been writing more notes, have had a conference with Sims, have filed up some cable messages to send, etc. at 3 P.M. I have a final conference with Admiral Jellicoe. Must make a farewell call on the First Lord, have tea with Lady Browning,11 call on Embassador & mrs Page – leave cards on various naval officers, have dinner at 7-00 and leave for Queenstown between 8 and 9. The St. Louis sails on Monday-Oct 1 – from Liverpool.12
I love you, my own Carrie! Yours ever
Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, Henry Mayo Papers, Box 3.
Footnote 1: VAdm. Pierre Alexis Ronarc’h. The “French General” was François Paul Anthoine, commander of the French First Army.
Footnote 2: VAdm. Sir Reginald H. S. Bacon.
Footnote 3: H.M.S. Broke, which was a Faulknor-class flotilla leader.
Footnote 4: First Sea Lord Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe.
Footnote 5: That is, coastal motor boat. These boats were small, carried a crew of between three to five, and were capable of a speed of forty knots. http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/67382.html, consulted 9/5/17.
Footnote 6: United States Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Hines Page.
Footnote 7: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.
Footnote 8: King George V.
Footnote 9: RAdm. Sir Allan F. Everett, aide-de-camp to George V.
Footnote 10: British Foreign Secretary Sir Arthur James Balfour; RAdm. Sir Alexander L. Duff, head of the Anti-Submarine division of the British Admiralty; and, Philip W. S. King, a British destroyer commander.
Footnote 11: Lady Ruth Boldero Browning, the wife of VAdm. Montague E. Browning, Commander, North American and West Indies Station.
Footnote 12: Mayo returned to the United States aboard the passenger liner St. Louis.