Here are some excerpts from my soon to be publish novel, A Hundred Year of Tears - One Soldier's Story from the Savannah to the Somme. It would be White Star Line's ship, S.S. Olympic, that would carry Sgt. John Guess from his home in America to England, to begin his final journey in France with Company H, 364th Infantry Regiment, 91 Division, American Expeditionary Forces.
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Leaving New York
It’s hard to describe the buzz that was taking place along the Hoboken piers, where a constant stream of ferry boats were making their way to the well-camouflaged ships that we were about to board.
As we neared the ship that would take us over the Atlantic we could barely make out the name — S.S. Olympic — painted on the side of the hull of the White Star Line. No longer the stately floating palace from the days before the war, she now looked rather tacky in her camouflaged coat of brown, black and yellow paint. Her glorious name had been exchanged for a mere identifying number.
It took most of the day for all the men to board, find their assigned bunks and get their gear stowed away. On each bunk a life jacket awaited the recruits. This new gear would become a vital part of our daily lives as we made the ocean crossing.
On English Soil
It was the morning of July 18th that we awakened with five U.S. destroyers surrounding the Olympic as it made its way on this last leg of the trip. By evening and under the soft light of the moon, we could make out Land’s End on the port side as the ship worked its way through this maritime graveyard. Morning found us at the entrance to Southampton where we waited silently for the rise in tide that would take us up the channel and to the piers.