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Documentary Histories

 General Bulletin #11


U.S. Naval Forces, European Waters.

                        London, England.    

2 November, 1918.


  1. During the last eastbound trip of a large transport carrying U.S. troops, which arrived in England on the trip previous with many cases of influenza and pneumonia, the 6,000 troops aboard wore sanitary masks of double thickness gauze with excellent results. Before sailing from New York more than 100 cases of influenza were put ashore from the troopship, but she arrived in European Waters with less than 50 cases of “Flu”, and only one death.

  2. Squadron Commander of No.218 R.A.F. Squadron has confirmed the shooting down of two enemy aircraft by Lieutenant T. P. Mulcahy, USMC. and Lieutenant E. F. Brewer, USMC, respectively. . . .

  4. Notable among the many acts of heroism following the recent collision between U.S.S.SHAW and a large British merchant ship carrying U.S. troops, were those performed by Lieut-Commander L. Kirkman, Lieut (j.g.) Edward B. Riley and Ensign Ross A. Dierdorff.

     When the Captain ordered the forward magazine flooded, they rushed through the intense oil fire raging forward, to the chart house where the flood cocks were located. The chart house was likewise in flames and the emergency 4" ammunition secured to the outside of it was exploding at intervals. These officers knew that the magazine immediately under them could momentarily be expected to explode. Lieut-Commander Kirkman succeeded in his efforts to get the wrench on the valve stem of the flood cock, but could not open the valve, as the collision had put the mechanism out of commision.

     The above officers with Lieut-Commander Henry G. Shonerd, Ensign Theodore C. Briggs, Carpenter (T) George R. Litton, Chief Boatswain’s Mate William C. Kessler, Gunner’s Mate 1 Cl. John W. Romspert, R.F. Chief Pharmacist’s Mate Orvil Driver, and Water Tender George E. Fernandes, constituted a party which assisted in throwing overboard the four inch ammunition boxes.

     This party was only five feet from the blazing oil tank. The ready ammunition around the chart house was exploding at intervals in the fire, and the forward magazine could momentarily be expected to explode. If this ready ammunition had not been thrown overboard it would, undoubtedly, have been exploded by the fire and wrecked the forward boiler room and the cofferdam bulkheads which were under the boxes. This would have flooded No. 1. boiler room, and probably resulted in the loss of the ship.

     An extract from the minutes of the Admiralty Court of Enquiry into the accident reads:-

     “It is my opinion that great credit is due to Commander W. A. Gladdford, U.S.S., the Commanding Officer of U.S.S. SHAW for the coolness and resource he displayed in endeavouring to extinguish the fire, and in bringing his armament into a “ready for action” condition in such a short time. His seamanship in bringing his ship into harbour under her own steam was most praiseworthy. Also to the Officers and crew of the U.S.S. SHAW for their conduct under very trying circumstances, and particularly to Lieutenant Commander Kirkman and the other officers who made with him a most gallant attempt to open the flood cocks to the forward magazine.

(Sd.) S. C. Colville.


Force Commander’s Office.    

Intelligence Section.

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24.

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