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First Division War Diary Entry
June 21, 1917 Aboard the U.S.A.T. Tenadores
Weather overcast. Health good.
1. About 10:30 P.M. members of the watch observed the wake of a torpedo, (clearly disclosed by the highly phosphorescent state of the water) crossing fifty feet in front of the bow of the Tenadores from Starboard to Port. Two alarm shots were fired by the DeKalb.1 About the same time army officers aboard the Saratoga observed the wake of two torpedoes passing in front of the bow of that boat and naval lookouts on a destroyer observed the wake of a torpedo passing under their boat and continuing on in front of the naval cruiser Seattle. The wake of this torpedo was also observed from the Seattle. The Tenadores increased speed and changed course ninety degrees.2
G. C. M.
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I) (RG 120), Records of General Headquarters (GHQ), War Diaries, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Diary entry signed.
1. The Navy Transport DeKalb, formerly a German passenger ship and then the auxiliary cruiser Printz Eitel Friedrich, was transporting part of the Fifth Marine Regiment. The Saratoga was an army transport carrying part of the Sixteenth Infantry Regiment.
2. Marshall originally recorded this day as “uneventful.” He and several other officers who witnessed the incident thought that “some amateur lookout had received a too vivid impression from the train of a porpoise or shark.” But after hearing Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves, the commander of convoy operations whose flagship was the Seattle, declare that a naval engagement with a submarine had taken place, General Sibert ordered Marshall to change the war diary account to agree with the navy version. On July 4, George Creel, chairman of the committee on Public Information, released an account of the alleged encounter to the American press. Marshall states that he and the other division officers involved “were entertained in reading the thrilling account of this affair.” (Marshall, Memoirs, pp. 9, 14-15.)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), p. 110.