Suez, Egypt: The Entry into the Canal

The battleships of the Atlantic Fleet arrived in Suez tired from a long journey.  Months at sea with hulls barnacle-encrusted and boiler tubes with scale found ships not operating in peak conditions.  Sailor were also tired and were now looking longingly to arriving back in Hampton Roads.  They were homesick.  Suez would be a stop that would be sort, only to space the ships through the Canal in groups.  This was done to prevent a major problem if one ship were grounded or had engineering difficulties in transit with other ships close behind.  Connecticut, Kansas, Vermont, and Minnesota were the first group to transit on January 4th and arrived in Port Said on January 5th.  They immediately left on the 5th with Connecticut off to Messina, the site of an earthquake relief effort, and the others to Villefranche, France.  The second group was Louisiana, Virginia, Missouri, and Ohio leaving Suez on the 5th and arriving on the 6th.  New Jersey, Rhode Island, Georgia, Nebraska, Kearsarge, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Illinois transited on the 6th arriving on the 7th.  Some of the ships in the last group stayed in Port Said till as late as January 10th.  These are the ships that the most cards and letter are postmarked with dates in Egypt.


port said

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee

This card shows the waterfront in Port Said on a card sent by H. B. Moser, USS Wisconsin, he write "We are now in Egypt.  Egypt is on one side of the canal and Arabia on the other.  We had time in India.  We did not have Christmas while there  . . ."

The card is postmarked January 4th, 1909 which is likely the first day of use of this postmark!  Since the Wisconsin did not enter the Canal to transit until January 6th, this card was picked up in Suez as a souvenir and mailed before entering the canal.  One of the earliest cards in my collection for a shipboard postmark.



The  two cards above were mailed to Annie Bryant of Los Angeles.  They are cards from Egypt that were postmarked in Turkey on January 17th 1909.  They are signed A. A. C. which I believe was a Second Class Machinist onboard the USS Louisiana.  Louisiana and Virginia were the only two ships in Turkey on this date and A. A. Couch of the Louisiana was the only sailor with these initials between the two ships.



These two cards of Suez were both postmarked on the USS Kansas on January 12th, 1909.  Kansas had very little time in Egypt.  They transited the Canal in the first group on January 4th-5th and immediately departed to Vallefranche arriving on January 11th, 1909.  These were sent out the next day.  The card at left shows the train station that the 1,600 sailors left from to go to Cairo.

One of the unique series of cards that was published for the cruise was this set of cards from Egypt.  The cards were produced by Max H. Rudmann, Cairo and were standard souvenir cards that were over-printed with "United States Atlantic Fleet, Our travels in Egypt on January 1909."  I have only been able to find two groups of these cards that have built the collection I have below.


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