Transport Ships and Voyages of World War 1
Soldiers on Deck of the USS Madawaska Awaiting Their Turn to Go Ashore. A History of the Transport Service, 1921. GGA Image ID # 18a74916b7
The arrival of the first convoy carrying the soldiers and Marines of the American Expeditionary Force at Saint-Nazaire, France, on 26 June 1917 surprised the world and provided much-needed encouragement to the Allies. The GG Archives has curated the stories behind these troopships that brought American soldiers back to Europe after the war.
Eleven days later, on 28 October 1917, the SS Finland, an army chartered transport, was struck by a torpedo from U-93 near the French coast.
Of the 715 men present, all told on board, it was found after the muster that three officers and 23 men were lost with the ship and that one officer, Lieutenant Isaacs had been taken prisoner.
In the middle of April 1917, the condition of the Allies was desperate; General Nivelle’s offensive of April 16th had been lost to France with disastrous consequences; the Russian revolution had taken place; and conditions in England were desperate.
On July 1st, 1918, at 9:15 P. M., the transport Covington, which had sailed from Brest with several other large transports, was struck by a torpedo, the explosion throwing in the air a column of water reaching a height above the smokestacks.
Of the twenty-four cruisers later gathered together for war service in this command, some were in the Atlantic Fleet, some on special duty, some unassigned, while others were in the navy yards in reserve, manned by reduced complements.
On October 17th, 1917, the first loss of an American transport, the Antilles, was torpedoed by a submarine about 300 miles west of Quiberon Bay. The ship sank four minutes after she was struck.
The historian of Company K of the 113th Infantry describes typical preparations for embarkation and some of the experiences of the voyage overseas in the Princess Matoika.