Carl Beebe was stationed on the USS Saint Paul (SP-1643) at the time it capsized on the 28th of April 1918. Following this, he found himself placed on an oil tanker on his way to the Mediterranean. He wrote him in a letter to his mother, Rebecca (Fritz) Beebe, about his visits to Genoa, Italy and seeing the Rock of Gibraltar.
The following portion of Carl’s letter was published in the “Atlantic News Telegraph”, an Atlantic, Iowa newspaper, on page six of the 14th of October, 1918 issue.
I am about four days out of Genoa and headed for Gibraltar where we will take on coal.
Genoa is a very pretty city, built as it is on the side of a mountain. The streets wind around like trails, and are very narrow, only about eight feet wide. The structures are built of stone and granite and are both very old and very pretty.
I had the pleasure of seeing the house in which Columbus was born. About all that remains are the decayed walls. I suppose you have heard of the wonderful cemetery of Genoa. It is noted the world over for its beautiful works of sculpture. I spent a whole afternoon there and failed to see more than half of it at that. It is centuries old and many thousands are buried there. Some of the sculpture is so perfect that it is lifelike.
A week ago today I was up in the mountains and was on the highest peak. It was one of the most picturesque sights a person could wish to see. I could look down on Genoa and for miles out on the sea and along the coast.
It is so much different here from Liverpool. The people here are so different. I had a difficult task to make myself understood.
Genoa has some of the nicest cafes in the world; much finer than anything in New York. The buildings have marble floors and the walls are a series of mirrors and paintings. Some of the finest pictures in the world are to be seen here. The city is one of the greatest commercial ports in Italy. The harbor is crowded with loaded ships all the time. I could not understand how they were able to handle so large a trade. The trains are all very small and they have no motive power to speak of.
The people of Genoa are enthusiastic about the war and all of Italy’s younger population is in uniform and at the front. The food situation in Italy is poor and every one is on ration. I visited a military camp here several times and had several meals there. The soldiers greatly appreciate having some one from America to talk to.
There is a lot more I would like to tell you about but will have to wait until I see you again. I want to go back to Genoa. I found the trip every so much more interesting than the trips I made to England. I will tell you something about Gibraltar and then close this letter.
The Mediterranean sea is very warm and also very quiet and presents many interesting sights in the trip from Genoa to Gibraltar, such as the mountainous coast of Spain, Africa and France. The Mediterranean is full of small islands, some of which we passed within a few miles.
The Strait of Gibraltar is very narrow and the towns on the coasts of Spain and Africa can be plainly seen. At the entrance to the Mediterranean is the Rock of Gibraltar. It is one of the most strongly fortified places in the world. On the fortifications are 1,900 guns. The city of Gibraltar lies at the foot of the Rock and is quite a pretty place from the harbor. We were not allowed to land. The Rock looks to be about three miles long and is 1,800 feet high. It is separated from the Spanish coast by about two miles.
One side of the Rock is but a slab of granite and very pretty. The other side has considerable vegetation. I am sorry you and dad could not see some of these interesting sights.