Nice/Marseilles, France

private parties and silver limousines

First Division was assigned to visited Villefranche, and arrived on January 11th, ahead of the Connect.  About an hour's drive from Nice, it was perhaps the most fashionable prewar resort town.  Second Division, Admiral Wainwright's, sailed to Marseilles with Georgia and Nebraska to arrive on the 15th of January.  On January 16th the New Jersey and Rhode Island arrived in Marseilles.  The parties for the officers of the battleships was something the community could use to celebrate, and that they did.  Guns boomed and bands played.  Lavish parties to host the officers were given between the two cities that were over the top.  The winter season of parties at private villas in savage competition for the presence of socially prominent officers and dignitaries was on.  The ambassador's black and silver limousine arrived from Paris on the same day the Connecticut arrived in Villefranche.  The two of them, along with former premier Leon Bourgeois, motored along the cliff route to dinner at the Stuyvesant villa, then joined the officers at a ball in the Nice Casiino.  Sperry lost all of his money at roulette.



villefranche to nice

Now know as the French riviera, is a costal drive of lavish villas and beaches doted with expensive restaurants and casinos before it heads inland through the hills to the City of Nice.  The battleships anchored along the coast in view of the communities with an easy transit ashore.

These photographs are taken by Brown & Shaffer, at left the USS Connecticut when she arrived.  At right old fortress guns displayed at Mount Boron.



Sailors from the ships saw a different side of Villefranche and Nice.  They entertained themselves with seeing the sites and meeting the frenzy of people.  The walked along the Promenade Des Angllais and enjoyed the view of the beaches and the Casino.  The price of entertainment and gambling was out of reach for the average sailor as well as the fancy restaurants.  Local establishments for drinking and eating were found and sailors made friends and partied with crowds who had come to meet Americans and hear about their journey.


At left are scene cards of Nice and Marseille from sailors on the USS Kansas and Missouri.


The above card shows the USS Minnesota anchored off Nice.  Written in French, I have not translated to text yet.  The below group of cards are from the E. L. DeMoss collection which provide some of the best views of the fleet while they were in port and scenes from around the cities.  There is a great photo of Marines that had ventured as far as the Italian border and is shown posing with the French and Italian border guards and an Italian sailor.  DeMoss was a 3rd Class Electrician onboard the USS Kansas who acquired a nice collection of photo postcards from one of the card sellers in the fleet.  This collection can be seen with numbers in the lower left and right hand sides in the 300s.

Cards mailed from the USS kansas

This is a nice group of 6-cards mailed from the USS Kansas.  The Kansas arrived at Villefranche on January 11th and departed on the 27th.  The first card in this group is canceled January 20th and the others on the day of departure.  The final card below was mailed out on the 12th, a leftover from the visit to Colombo, Ceylon.



cards from the uss minnesota

This is an interesting group of card from a sailor on the Minnesota to Miss Elizabeth Peters in New York City.  One card from Egypt where the postmark is only identified as January 1909, the other two from cities in Italy, Rome and Pompei, canceled on January 23rd, 1909.  Minnesota did not visit Italy but was in Villefranche, France from January 11th to the 27th.  This certainly provided ample time for sailors to hop on the train to make a trip to Italy!



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