A Sailor's Diary
During World War I
Aboard the Submarine Chaser
The following diary belonged to my father, Fred George Bankson.
He joined the navy at the age of 15 and returned home at age 18 in 1919.
Although this covers only three months of his entire time overseas, it
expresses a youth's thoughts at the time. After his death in 1964,
the box containing the diary has been kept by his second wife, and then
given to my sister. The diary finally ended up with my niece,
who had the tedious task of deciphering the handwriting of my father.
The mistakes in his spelling were left as-is, to keep it as authentic as
Along with his diary, were a stack of 1915 - 1919 postcards from
the countries and cities he had seen during his tour of duty. Those
added below are from the time pertaining to the diary.
If there are any readers that have, or had, a relative who was a
shipmate, and have any interesting stories of that time, please contact
me at the email below.
The diary is in 4 parts. The first page consists of a sub-chaser
detachment on May 30, 1918, before he started this diary.
May Detachment October
1918 November 1918
NOTE: The photo is of Fred G. Bankson
-- the ship is the RMS Lusitania. (click for enlargement)
World War I Photographs
A TRIVIA fact from his
During those years sailing the seas, my Dad slept in a hammock
on the ship. For the rest of his life he never broke the habit of
sleeping on his side with one hand grip to a bedpost. If there wasn't
a convenient handhold, he would attach a brass handle (as on cabinets)
to his side of the bed. I wasn't aware of this until the age
of nine when I watched him attach the handle to a brand new bed my parents
had purchased. He explained to me the reason. Later in life,
in the sunset of his years, I was surprised to see he still had the
habit of the brass handle.
The beginning of his adult life started as a Sailor in the U.S. Navy.
Just before he reached retirement age, he passed away . . . and the last
occupation of his career was as a U.S. Navy Inspector in Santa