Letters Home: Dean Bailey in England, 1917

Readers of the front page of the Skidmore News’ October 18, 1917 edition were entertained by Stratford Saunders’ report of his visit to his sons, but they also heard from another of Skidmore’s sons who was making a very different sort of journey. Here’s a letter home from Dean Bailey:

From Dean Bailey

September 22nd, 1917.

Dear Father and Mother: —

If you have my first letter you will no doubt be surprised to know that I am still in England. My squadron with fifty men from each of the other eight squadrons that came over with us were held here. We split up last Thursday into small bunches and were scattered all over England. Myself and seven other Non-Coms have charge of about one hundred men. We are attached to the Royal Flying Corps of the English army at ———- censored, about thirty miles out of London for sixty days training. We will then join our squadron ————- is a small town of about five hundred people. We are studying motors here.

 

We eight Non-Coms have barracks supposed to be large enough for fifty men, so you see we are fixed nicely for a place to stay. I am in charge of the Sq’dn. tonight am sitting by the fire writing this. Will soon have to go out and check up men in the other barracks, as every one is supposed to be in their quarters by 9:30 and it is almost that time now.

 

It gets quite chilly here at night, we have a little fire each evening. We are up high and it seems to be quite healthy.

 

There are lots of men here who have seen service at the front and the stories some of them tell — but that will have to wait until another time.

 

We were ten days coming over. The first three were stormy, but I did not get sea sick. When we were two days out of ———–, a big bunch of U. S. Destroyers came out to meet us. (There were thirteen ships of us.) My the stars and stripes looked good to us, one destroyer came with each ship and each one started to go at top speed through the danger zone. We of course ran off and left the most of them. The night before we landed at about seven thirty o’clock in the evening our destroyer spotted a submarine about five hundred yards from us. Maybe you think there was some excitement on board our ship. They fired one shot which glanced off our bow, before our destroyer sank them. The torpedo rocked our ship from end to end, but there were only a very few who got excited. We marched to our places by the life boats. The ships officers soon found we were not hurt badly enough to keep us from running on into harbor. We made ———– about two o’clock. You may be sure we did no sleeping until we landed.

 

May be able to have my mail sent direct here. Will let you know as soon as possible, for I am very anxious to hear from home. But if you do not get a new address send it to the old one.

 

Am in no danger and am feeling fine, lots to eat and a good place to stay. The English people are sure treating us fine.

 

With love to all,
Your Son,
Dean.