100 Years ago this Week: Happiest Afternoon of My Life!

Background:  WWI  has been over for 5 months and the soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force are being sent home from France.   My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, and other members of the 20th Engineers are crossing the Atlantic aboard the USS Roanoke.  Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday April 13, 1919– Weather still good, sea quiet, making good time for this tub.  If weather like this continues we will dock on Thursday. All sea sick ones have now recovered and are feeling very good today.  Mileage today is the best we have made thus far. 350 mi

Monday April 14– Sea very quiet today.  Stopped last evening for one and one half hours for an operation on a sailor.  Nevertheless mileage was 325. Are more trade winds the way home. The days are very long.  Not bad but the nights are terrible.

Tuesday April 15 – Sea is slightly rough today.  Have had remarkable weather for our trip and with any kind of a boat would have been across some time ago.  The ship’s officers have been very good to us and allowed us all possible privileges.

Wednesday April 16 – Colder today meaning we are nearing land.  Quite rough today but spirits of all are high.

Thursday April 17 – Morning rainy with a heavy fog.  About nine of clock we picked up another vessel lost in fog trying to get into port. Followed us balance of day.  Happiest afternoon of my life! Entered harbor about 3 P.M. Passed many boats, all of which greeted us with three blasts of the whistle.  Tied up to pier about 6 o clock. Must stay on board tonight.

Friday April 18– Loaded into ferry at nine o clock sailed around New York from Hoboken to Long Island City.  Boarded train here for camp Upton, arriving here about three thirty P.M. Went through mill in evening after all of our clothes are spoiled went to bed in good bed and barracks.

Saturday April 19– Spent day looking around this part of camp>  Buying ice cream, pie, etc. which we have been very short of since leaving this country.  Move to another part of camp tonight.

Back in America!

After nearly 2 weeks at sea the  USS Roanoke docked at Hoboken, New Jersey.  Poppa spent one more night aboard ship before he and the other soldiers rode a ferry to Long Island and then took a train to Camp Upton.

This picture is captioned “USS Roanoke arriving in New York, 1919”.  Could Poppa be one of the men standing on its deck?

Camp Upton, named for a Civil War General,  was built in 1917 to house soldiers before they were sent overseas.  Now, in 1919  it is serving them  as they return. The camp sat idle until WWII when it was re-opened and used in the same manner.

Camp Upton, Long island New York.

One of the soldiers stationed at Fort Upton in 1917 was Irving Berlin (1888-1989).  While there he wrote the musical “Yip Yip Yaphank” based on his military experience.   This musical included one of his most famous songs “Oh, How I Hate to Get up in the Morning”.

Sergeant Irving Berlin in 1917.

The week ends with Poppa enjoying things that were hard to come by over seas such as pie and ice cream.

Next Week: Broadway on a 24 Hour Pass


“Camp Upton.” BNL, www.bnl.gov/about/history/campupton.php. Accessed 11 Apr. 2019


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