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Letter from Claude Smith, Morton Enterprise, December 20, 1918

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U.S.S. Texas, Nov. 24, 1918
Dear Sister:
Well, I thought I would drop you a few lines tonight being it is Sunday. Censorship is lifted now so a person can write a decent letter.
I am well and I hope this finds you the same. The news now is that we leave for the states the end of this week, but I can’t believe it and a person can’t tell much about what you hear.
I put in application for discharge today but there’s lots going to be disappointed for nearly every one of the black gang was up there.
I’m in for Duration but I told them I was need on the farm so I think I stand a pretty good show. I’ll surely be glad if I can leave this place. Edinburgh is a pretty place but far behind a city in the States.
I was on the list for a furlough over here but I guess they are not going to give any more and I’d rather get on in the States.

A pound over here goes about as far as a dollar bill at home.

There were some French sailors and officers on board to-day.

I had a chance to see some of the German fleet. We went out ninety miles off Bay Island last Thursday, where we met them. They had to surrender or fight so we brought them into the Firth of Forth river and they are just outside the sub-nets. The only ship we lost was censor ship. I guess they are going to put me and another guy in the brig, Thanksgiving, so the rest can get something to eat. I believe I weigh 180 now, I don’t know for sure but I weighed 173 lbs. when I left the hospital.

We left the States on my birthday, July 14, and maybe I didn’t watch that shore as long as I could see it. When it went out of sight we didn’t see any more land for 10 days and that was nothing but little hills and rocks and mixture. There’s one little town they’ve got an iron fence around the only tree on the island. I guess it’s the Orkney Island north of Scotland. I haven’t seen hardly a board since I left U.S. Everything is made of rock and cement.

There are about 1500 men on this ship, about 450 being firemen.

I think I would have to work harder if I was on a transport. There’s lot more regulation on a battleship than there is on a transport.

When I get up in the morning I’ll have to turn into fire room No. 3. The fire rooms on this ship are nearly all painted white. Some swell looking place when it’s rigged up for Admiral Inspection. Brass work and white paint to handle soft coal in!

One of these ships is just like a town – black smith shop, electrical shops, laundry, canteen, carpenter and paint shops and firerooms and engine rooms, besides a few more things.

I rate a Foreign Service Chevon. They are gold and we are supposed to get them after being in foreign service three months. I’d be willing to go without mine if they’d turn me loose when I get back.

Well, here’s hoping I’ll eat Xmas dinner at home. I hope Louie will be home, too.

Your brother, Claude S. Smith