Sunday, August 24, 2014

Naples, Motorship Gripsholm - October 28, 1945

Part of the continuing letter written to the girls during the voyage on the Gripsholm.  

Dearest Darlings,

Mother speaking.  Here we are again in this beautiful harbor of Naples. When we got up this morning we could see the islands at the entrance to the harbor. It was beautiful as we came slowly in.  There is evidence of great damage in the harbor. Several sunken ships partly out of the water; the modern dock building where our ship is berthed is nearly a complete wreck from bombs[1]. We can see other buildings that are wrecked too. The dock is swarming with Jeeps and all sorts of American war vehicles as well as American soldiers; for Italy is still under military rule. We are not to be allowed ashore at any of the places we stop. It's a State Department order for all passengers. We're sure sorry about this. Our next stop will be Piraeus, Greece. This morning a Flying Fortress[2] and two fighters gave a real welcome as we came into the harbor. It was very thrilling as they circled low at top speed several times.

When we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar it was so lovely. The sea was calm and blue, and our first glimpse of Africa (home) were the lovely Atlas Mountains.  The view of the Rock of Gibraltar was disappointing as we didn't go very close to it. There were school after school of porpoises playing that afternoon, a special exercise put on for our benefit I think. We have been wishing for you every time there was anything of interest. We miss you at every turn.  My birthday was a secret between us[3]. It was a happy day. I'm feeling younger instead of older, that's a fact!  Maybe it's because I'm leading such a lazy life.
As soon as you can get some films send us some snapshots.  I'm longing already for a picture of you. Would you like to have your picture taken for us and have some cards made like we did last year?  If so, do, and send the bill to the Mission office. Send Christmas cards to all our friends. Even though the ocean is now between us nothing can ever separate you from my heart. I love you more than ever and think of you daily and pray for you and rejoice in all that God has enabled you to do. I marvel when I realize just 2 months and 5 days ago we left St. Louis. God has wonderfully undertaken and my heart is full of praise and thanks.

With oceans of love, and a kiss on every wave,


  1. According to Wikipedia, Naples was the most bombed city in Italy during World War II. 
  2. The Flying Fortress, a nickname for the Boeing B-17, a heavy bomber used in World War II. This one was probably with the Fifteenth Air Force.
  3. Coralee's 45th birthday was October 26th.    

At Sea, Motorship Gripsholm - October 22, 1945

Part of the continuing letter written to the girls while the Gripsholm was at sea.  

Dearest girls,
Daddy speaking this time.  I don't want the trip to slip by without a note to you even though Mother is writing to you. Certainly we can't complain of lack of time for the days are very long and we hardly know how to pass the hours away. But the ship is not always quiet enough to make writing an easy job for me. So far however we have had a quiet smooth trip of it so that Mother and I have been more or less able to enjoy every meal. Some folks it seems were made ill by some bad food but we escaped that.

With so many missionaries aboard we have been having some good meetings. Every morning at ten there is a prayer meeting. It was my turn to lead it this morning (Monday). There is another prayer meeting on Wednesday nights, and a preaching service on Sunday mornings. Last night we had a song and testimony service and an interesting feature of it was when the various groups told what fields they were going to. Most were going to various parts of Africa, some to Egypt and Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Irak[1], Iran, and India.

Among the passengers are Mr. and Mrs. Phillips[2] of SIM. Maybe you remember them  as they came to Congo with their little boy named Henry years ago. Henry is now at Stony Brook and I believe he is a roommate of the Stam boys. Miss McIntyre is also aboard. She is a missionary in the Sudan with the United Presbyterian Mission. She is a friend of Miss Quinche, and we met her also when she came to Congo on vacation years ago. And there are a Mr. and Mrs. Foster who are returning to S. Rhodesia under the S.A.C.M. Mrs. F is a sister of our Miss Frost, and they will probably be seeing her on their way south. Miss Pollock a close friend of Murray's family (Wheaton) is going to Ethiopia.

This morning at 7 we passed the Azores and some of the folks saw a couple of the islands. We didn't as we were still in bed. In a few days we will see Gibraltar and later Italy and Greece, but we will probably not be allowed to go ashore.

We miss you more than we can tell, but we are glad that we know you are in a good place and are having happy times together.  We pray for you daily and we're sure the Lord will continue to meet your every need, and we praise Him for the peace He has given us about it.

I'll stop for now and maybe later will find something else to write about.



  1. Earlier variant spelling of Iraq. 
  2. possibly Geraldine Julia Phillips?  Can't find a reference to her husband's first name. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Motorship Gripsholm - October 21, 1945

Another in the series of letters written on board the Gripsholm, which sailed on October 16, 1945 from New York, and didn't arrive in Port Said until November 6th.  

Dear girls,
Constantly you have been in my thoughts, as we came on board, and have journeyed.  Walking around on the steamer, looking at the sea sometimes, in the dining room, in dozens of ways, I'm reminded of you. The ocean has been very calm and the ship is nicely ventilated so we have both been good sailors so far.

It is so different traveling with so many people.  There are 850 passengers. There people everywhere.  Miss Kosher [1], the AIM girl going to Kenya has been having children's services every day. Sometimes there are as many as 50 children in the service. Each day we have prayer meetings at 10am. It has been a lovely time of fellowship. There are over 100 missionaries on board. As we get to know them it has been interesting to  learn of their work.  Some of the passengers are foreigners. Lots of Italians and Greeks, also some Jews and Egyptians. They are truly a strange lot.

It has been nice to get acquainted with our own AIM group.  Mr. and Mrs. Felton and their two little girls Charlotte and Linda are going to Tanganyika. We don't see so much of them because they eat in the first sitting.  All the rest of us eat in the second sitting. Since we don't have children it is swell, for our breakfast is not until 9:15 so you see we are being very lazy. Actually the days have seemed endlessly long. The motion of the ship has taken away our desire to study and it's hard to read without getting a headache. I think it is a little better now so maybe we'll get our sea legs and be able to get some things accomplished. The voyage stretches endlessly ahead.  They tell us it will take 22 days from NY to Alexandria.  We stop in Naples and in Greece but I'm not sure just when as yet.  It would be a nice change if we could go ashore and see these places.

We are dreading arriving in Egypt as it has not been possible to make arrangements ahead. we'd like so much to find steamer connections for the folks going to East Africa. There are a large number of missionaries wanting to go that way. Then too we'll probably have an awful crowd trying to get accommodations to go up the Nile like we want to journey. Wish you girls were with us, then we'd be more interested in seeing sights in Egypt.  But we'll try to take an extra look at interesting things for you and at least tell you about it.

For several days we have been seeing lots of seaweed which tells us we're travelling in the Gulf Stream. Yesterday we passed a ship but no sharks or fish and the waves have been so "muke muke" you'd be disappointed. Even the sunsets have been minus due to clouds although it has been nice and sunny each day.

Much love,


  1.    E. Geneva Kosher. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Motorship Gripsholm - October 23, 1945

In which Ralph describes life at sea on the Gripsholm, traveling with 850 other passengers to Alexandria, Egypt.   

Dear home folks,

There's no excuse for not writing now - a quiet sea, an hour and a half before supper, and nothing to do.  It's a lazy life and pleasant enough as long as the sea behaves, but we have more than two weeks longer after 5 days at sea and it will be a great day when the trip is over.

Thanks  for your letter received a little before we sailed. Sorry we didn't get it answered before leaving, but we weren't sure of leaving until three days before and that gave us very little time to get a thousand and one last minute things done, especially as one of the days was Sunday. Our passport arrived from Washington on Friday, a holiday. The Belgian and Egyptian consulates were closed that day and open on Saturday only from 10:00 to 12:00. Friday evening we drove out to Connecticut and spent the night there and came into New York the next morning for our visas. Saturday afternoon we had to spend in Brooklyn on business.  Sunday we had to speak twice, having a farewell service in the evening at the church in Hawthorne in whose missionary home we had been staying. Monday was another rush day, ending with a trip from New Jersey to Brooklyn for a farewell at the AIM home and then returning to New Jersey. We were required to be on the boat at Jersey City at 9:30am, but we didn't sail until 7:00pm.  In the end we had to leave some matters of business undone, to be finished by correspondence after sailing.

But we are glad for this chance to get over, for opportunities to get passage nowadays are very few and far between. our going this way via Egypt is not ideal for us as it means sending our freight including the car another way and means a long journey up the Nile with many changes from rail to boat en route. However we save a good deal of money this way and get out to the field months ahead of the time we would arrive by the next passage in sight, which would be in January.

Our ship is carrying a motley crowd - well over 100 missionaries, a great many business people,and Jews going to Palestine, a lot of Greeks going to Greece and Cyprus, some Italians and Egyptians and a bunch of deportees - 850 passengers in all. That makes it a very different kind of trip from the one we made coming home with only 9 passengers in all. But all in all it is pleasant and interesting.

We passed the the Azores this morning and some of the folks saw a couple of islands.  In a few days we will be at Gibraltar and according to rumor will later stop at Naples, Piraeus near Athens, and at Salonica or Thessalonia, then getting off at Alexandria in Egypt.  We hear that we will not be permitted to leave the ship in Italy or Greece. We have seen Naples but would enjoy a trip to Athens which is just a few miles from the port. I suppose we should visit Palestine too, but I doubt if time and funds will permit or if we will have the necessary permits.

In our party are 8 of our mission going out for the first time - two young couples and four young ladies, some going to Tanganyika, others to Kenya and the rest to Congo. There are also some missionaries from the Sudan on board with whom we had got acquainted while they were on vacation in Congo years ago. We are having daily prayer services on board as well as daily services for children and church services on Sunday. The Catholics and Jews have their services as well.

[Personal portion redacted.]

According to latest word from our girls they seem quite happy where they are and we trust they will remain so.  These long days on the ship with little to do makes us think about them a good deal, especially as so many things remind us of our trip home together.

I just got out of the swimming pool and had a fresh water shower - a real treat on this boat. I guess that is what makes me so pepped up and long winded. I'll stop for the present and perhaps add to this a few days hence sine it can't be mailed for a long time anyway.