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Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, to Caroline Wing Mayo


Sept. 11— 1917

My own dear Carrie:

          Two days have slipped away without my writing to you – but I think the reason will be plain when you have read my account of the way the time has been employed. . . .

     I wrote you Saturday. That evening Comdr. Chilton1 of the British navy, who has been detailed as a sort of aid, dined with us here. We left the Hotel just before 10 P.M. and went to the Station and found our sleeping accommodations reserved for us in the train for Edinburg. . . . We were due at 8 a.m. but were a bit late. at Edinburgh one of Admiral Beattys2 staff met us and we were taken to a Hotel and given rooms where we got bath, shave, etc, then had breakfast in a private parlor. We left there about 10[:]40 and went to Queen’s Ferry by autos and there found barges to take us to the Fleet. It was arranged for Jackson, Cook & myself3 to be quartered in the Queen Elizabeth – Flagship of the C in C – the rest went to other ships. Admiral Beatty gave us a very cordial welcome and I had time for a long talk with him before lunch at 1 P.M. For the afternoon he detailed Rear Admiral Goodenough4 to be my guide and we visited a number of ships – among them one of the new fast steam submarines and an aeroplane ship  - finally going to the “Barham” for “tea” with Vice-admiral Evan Thomas.5 I found that the Captain for the Barham was a man named Craig6 with whom I had crossed the Pacific when I was coming home from the Wisconsin. He was then on the staff of Admiral Sir Cyprian Bridge – I later found that another of that party was Rear-Admiral Parock7 of Admiral Beatty’s staff. On returning to the Flagship I had another long talk with Admiral Beatty until dinner time. At dinner he had all the Admirals to meet me – a very interesting lot of men. There were the usual toasts to the President and King8 and then, to my surprise, altho I should have anticipated it, the Admiral made a long speech – and a good one – of welcome to us. Of course I had to answer it as best I could – but I did not make an entire failure of it. When the guests had gone I had a short talk with Beatty – and then went to turn in. . . . I slept well on board the “Queen Elizabeth” and to got to breakfast about 8[:]30. Had [serious?] talk with Admiral Beatty after breakfast, then at 10 a.m. left in his barge and went on board the “King George” to see how they handle Kite balloons – which is just as we do. Had an interesting but brief visit with Admiral de Robeck9 – who had all his captains over to meet me. Admiral Goodenough was still acting as our guide, etc, and he hustled us ashore to their new naval station at Rosyth. This was barely started when the war began but now has three great dry docks, an enormous basin and the shops etc which go with such a station and the plans for building up the station are far seeing, comprehensive, and very extensive. Admiral Bruce and his civilian superintendent, Mr Reed,10 took me all over the place. Went back to the Flagship for lunch at 100, and at 200 went ashore on the other side of the Bay where a Destroyer station is started and being built up. It will be able to take over fifty destroyers at a time. After inspecting this we boarded the “Oak” – the Destroyer which is tender to the Flagship – and went down the Bay and alongside the Cruiser “Southampton” which was Admiral Goodenough’s Flagship when he commanded the cruiser Squadron and in which he had several fights. He described them and showed us where the vessel had been hit. All very interesting. There we went to the experimental station at Fort Craig and saw some wonderful inventions. A patrol vessel was managed by wireless for us – a vessel exploded, etc, etc. We could have spent much longer there very profitably – but had to go on. Vice Admiral [Christian?]11 was waiting for us in a big sidewheel mine sweeper – and took us over to Granton – the station for the mine sweepers, trawlers, Qships, etc. We had a most interesting time there, but had to hustle to [return?] to Edinburg where a British General was to meet us at the Hotel. We were a bit late but he and his aid were waiting patiently and took us to Holyrood Palace where we were shown the sights, then to “The Castle” when we saw more sights which I cannot describe for lack of time. Back to the hotel where we had dinner at 800. Boarded the train at 900 and left at 1000 in a sleeper, and reached London at 7[:]50 a.m. today. . . . Do not know how it will be in France, but anyway I hope to see you by the time the letters can reach you under existing circumstances. Much love to mother and a heart full to my own darling wife.

With aching heart I am

yours ever                               Henry.

Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, Henry Mayo Papers, Box 3. The letter, reporting on Mayo’s visit to the British Grand Fleet, is written on stationery of the “CARLTON HOTEL,/PALL MALL.” and this heading and a heraldic crest appear at the top of two of the pages of Mayo’s eight page letter.

Footnote 1: Cmdr. Francis G. G. Chilton

Footnote 2: Adm. Sir David Beatty, Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet.

Footnote 3: Capt. Orton P. Jackson and Cmdr. Arthur B. Cook, both of whom were members of Mayo’s staff. See: Mayo to Josephus Daniels, 30 August 1917.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Sir William E. Goodenough, Commander, Second Battle Squadron, Grand Fleet. Goodenough was also the former commander of the First Light Cruiser Squadron, which participated in the battles of Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank, and Jutland. History of War,, accessed 22 August 2017.

Footnote 5: RAdm. Sir Hugh Evan-Thomas, Commander, Fifth Battle Squadron, Grand Fleet.

Footnote 6: Capt. Arthur W. Craig Waller.

Footnote 7:  Beatty’s Chief of Staff, RAdm. Osmond de Beauvoir Brock.

Footnote 8: President Woodrow Wilson and King George V.

Footnote 9: VAdm. Sir John M. de Robeck, Commander, Third Battle Squadron, Grand Fleet.

Footnote 10: RAdm. William H. H. Bruce; Mr. Reed has not been further identified.

Footnote 11: VAdm. Arthur H. Christian.