State Historic Site
(From "In the World War")
BORN IN PARKMAN, Wyoming, in 1896, James Crew Reynolds group up in Sheridan. He was the son of banker Peter Paul Reynolds and his wife, Clara E. Crew. Known to his friends as "Jimmy," Reynolds graduated from Sheridan high School and the University of Washington.
Reynolds attained the rank of sergeant while serving with the 116th Engineers in France. His letters, published in The Sheridan Post, "tell of many things that the severe censorship of former days prevented from being written."
After the war, Reynolds returned to Sheridan where married Doris Elaine Kooi (in 1923) and operated the D & D Hardware Company on Main Street (the current home of Frackleton's Restaurant.
The following description of his ocean voyage to France in June 1918 is from a letter written in November 1918 which (according to The Post) "reached America in time to gladden hearts at Yuletide."
Dear Old Dad - The censorship ban has been raised for the purpose of writing to one's dad and telling all that has happened since leaving the States. It will be rather long letter, dad, so don't get tired before you have finished reading it. ...
At 3:00 o'clock in the morning of June 13th we shouldered our packs and made a five mile hike to what is called Alpine Landing [near Camp Merritt, New Jersey] where we got a ferry boat, which carried us to the dock where our transport was waiting.
The boat was an Italian vessel called the Dante Algherie (known to us as the Good Ship Wop). At 10:00 p.m. we dropped down into the bay and at 1:45 we fell in line and sailed out of the harbor and for France. Land disappeared at about 5:30, and I have not seen anything but French soil since. On the boat we had life-boat drill daily at 11:00 a.m. and rifle inspection at 3:00 p.m. The remainder of the time was our own. We laid around on the decks and hatches talking, smoking, and watching the passing scenery, which was very interesting. It consisted of water ahead, water behind, water on both sides.
On the second day out, we sighted a submarine, but the chaser we had scared it off, and we weren't bothered. The same day we saw a school of porpoises and some flying fish, which became a common occurrence, however, before we landed in France. Time surely did drag on one's hands on the boat. Absolutely nothing to do or even think about. We saw some whales and sharks and a number of other fish which were queer looking specimens.
The usual routine of boat drill and inspection was kept up. Each company went on guard every fourth day. But it only hit me once, so I didn't mind that at all. On the seventh day out, two German submarines were sighted very close to the convoy and were fired upon. We had some very exciting time for about half an hour. Those old guns booming out across the water and the water spouts where the shells struck. We were on the opposite side of the convoy from the U-boats and didn't get in on any of the shooting. However, it was officially reported that the ships that did get into action "got" one of the subs and scared the other off.
On the night of the 26th of June, we were very near land, but had to sheer off and make a big circle because of a sub. It seems that they got wind of our approach and was waiting for us, so we sailed back out to sea, thus making the trip one day longer. The Bay of Biscay was surely rough, and many of the boys who hadn't yet gotten seasick went under. However, I came through without even feeling bad.
We sighted land the morning of the 27th, and there was a mighty cheer raised. The bay we sailed into was sure pretty. The green sides of the hills and the farm houses looked good after fifteen days of sea. We laid on the ship all day and night. The next morning we stepped off the Good Ship Wop onto a ferry which carried us to the pier. From there, we hiked about five miles to the old Napoleon barracks. We laid around there for a week, spending the Fourth of July in the city. It was the town of Brest. Some town. Give me America.