On the USS Dekalb
in convoy:
the Voyage to France




USS Dekalb



December 8

At 6 a.m., the 1st MGB (Headquarters, 77th and 81st Companies) entrains and leaves Quantico, Virginia, for Newport News, Virginia, arriving at 2 p.m. the same day, and embarks on board the USS DeKalb for overseas expeditionary duty.

A.R. Appenheimer writes in his diary: "Left Quantico for Newport News Dec. 8th at 6.30. Arrived 3.50 and loaded on transport De Kalb (former German Raider Prince Ille. Fredrick) at 4.45 Sat Dec 8th."


December 9 & 10

A.R. Appenheimer with 1st Machine Gun Battalion aboard the USS Dekalb, in harbor at Newport News, as it continues to take on cargo & additional military units.


December 11

At 4 p.m, (according to the battalion history) the transport USS Dekalb sails from Newport News, Virginia, for New York, N.Y.
~~AR Appenheimer writes in his diary: "Left Newport News, Dec 11, 8.30.".


December 12

USS Dekalb arrives in New York harbor at 6 a.m. & anchors off Staten Island.
~~AR Appenheimer records in his diary: "Arrived Staten Island N.Y. Dec 12, at 9 a.m. Pulled in N.Y. Harbor Dec 12, at 9 a.m."


December 13

AR Appenheimer with the 6th MGB anchored off Staten Island on the USS Dekalb. He writes to his mother:

"Dear Mother: I am well and as fat and sassy as ever. I wrote America a note today at Coldsprings Ky. and wrote her one yesterday and day before at Toulon. I don't know which place she will be at, as the last letter from her said she was going to toulon in about a week and its been more than a week This may be the last letter you get from me mailed in U.S. I wonder if Chink has enlisted yet, and what in, and if he has sold the suplus stock and fat hogs yet. Now be sure and write me all the news, for I have an idea that I'll look forward for letters from you and America.

Your Loving son, Al."


December 14

USS Dekalb, according to the battalion history, sails from NY harbor at 8.30 p.m. AR Appenheimer writes in his diary: "Left N.Y. at 8.30."


December 15

AR Appenheimer with 6th MGB on board USS Dekalb, sailing in convoy to France.


December 16 through 22

AR Appenheimer with 6th MGB on board USS Dekalb, sailing in convoy to France. Writing to his mother from Germany after the Armistice, Appenheimer described his trip across the Atlantic on the Dekalb:

"I had a headache and fever and went to the Sick Bay for some CC pills, and the Dr. said I had the measles. There were several cases on board and they put me in Quarenteen withy the rest of the measles cases. I was all right in a day or two and I don't believe I had the measles, but I got a good state room out of it and my meals brot to me the rest of the trip. So it wasn't so bad after all."

Among Appenheimer's military papers was a news clipping from 1938 which had this to say about the Dekalb during the war: "Strange as it seems, on the strength of a pounding crankshaft sawed four-fifths through by German sabotageurs, hung the fate of thousands of American soldiers who crossed the Atlantic on the USS De Kalb during the World War.

Formerly the North German Lloyd liner, Prince Eitel Frederich, built in 1904, 15,000 gross tons, the De Kalb was one of 120 German ships interned in the United States at the outbreak of the war with Germany.

The skeleton crews aboard these ships attempted to put them out of commission so that they would be rendered unfit for transport service ~ at least until Germany had time to gain an advantage in the conflict.

The United States Navy department consequently found itself with the task of repairing smashed cylinder heads, scored bearings and other mechanical defects resulting from this sabotage.

Strange as it seems, a complete going over of the De Kalb refused to disclose anything wrong with her, so she was placed into transport service and made eleven successful crossings to France, carrying thousands of ‘doughboys' to the Big War.

Confident that all was well, men and officers alike were blissfully unaware that the pounding, vibrating crankshaft that drove them through the ocean waters was ready to shear off at any moment.

Not until the end of the war was the damage discovered ~ the Germans had craftily sawed four-fifths of the way through the shaft and filled the cut with grease to hide it!"




December 23

AR Appenheimer with 6th MGB on board USS Dekalb, sailing in convoy to France. He writes in his diary: "Arrived in Bay of Biscay, Sun Dec 23, 1917."


December 24 through 26

AR Appenheimer with 6th MGB on board USS Dekalb, sailing in convoy to France.


December 27

AR Appenheimer with 6th MGB on board USS Dekalb, sailing in convoy to France. He writes in his diary: "Submarine battle, chased and sunk by Destroyer V. Jenkins ~ 92." [From what I have been able to uncover in my research, the Jenkins did engage a submarine on this date, but its destruction was never confirmed."



Return to
Muleskinner with the 6th MGB

main menu page.