World War One: A Sailor’s pix from Scapa Flow

Tony’s Navy tour begins. Norfolk VA c. 1916. From the estate of A. C. Tony Mickelson

This post has almost nothing to do with Hollywood, Florida, which was founded in 1920. Tony Mickelson, who collected and saved these historic photos, joined J. W. Young and went to the land that would become Hollywood in 1920. Before that, Mickelson served in the Navy, aboard the battleship Wyoming. This series of photos and cards he collected from 1916-1920 record his tour of duty, which included World War One in the North Sea, the surrender of the German navy and the scuttling of their ships at Scapa Flow, Orkney. This is the photographic story of one man and one ship.

Woolworth Tower, Manhattan at night, 1916. Collection of the estate of A. C. Mickelson.

Mickelson joined his ship, the battleship Wyoming, at Norfolk. From there they sailed to Manhattan, in 1916. The war in Europe, of course, had begun, but the U.S. was not yet involved.

The next point documented in Tony’s photos was Key West, Florida.

Key West navy base in 1916. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson

This would be Tony’s first glimpse of Florida, the state that would become his home.

From Key West the fleet entered the Caribbean, stopping at Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Cuba, although it’s not clear in which order. Starting with Haiti, the men were allowed off the ship in Port au Prince.

Bow of the Wyoming, other ships at anchor in Port au Prince, 1916. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson

Most of the photos from this point on were taken on board the Wyoming (not by Mickelson). It seems that there were one or more photographers on board, who made certain photos into postcards to sell to the crewmen.

Haitian trolley! 1916. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson

This trolley was one of the sights in downtown Port au Prince in 1916.

The fleet may have continued to Havana, but Tony did not collect photos of that city.  Possibly of greater interest to the crew was their call at Guantanamo, where an important all-fleet championship game was held.

In the foreground is a baseball diamond, overlooked by an amphitheater filled with seemingly thousands of men in white.  At rear, a battleship may be seen in the harbor. Mickelson was an avid, and talented athlete and it’s quite possible that he took part in the games here in 1916.

Fleet sports event at Guantanamo, Cuba, 1916. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson. I may have to continue in teeny type to see if the program will let me pass this photo as I don’t know how to delete it

Another port of call during this cruise was Culebra, possibly Puerto Rico.

The caption says “Culebra, WI harbor.” A fine view of the fleet, c. 1916. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson

The fleet headed across the Atlantic, passing the Azores and on to London.

Battleships in heavy seas off the Azores, 1917

Mickelson did tour the city of London at this time. He particularly remembered the whispering gallery in St. Paul’s, and the Tower of London.

Their next port would be Edinburgh.

Firth of Forth bridge, Scotland, 1916. ACM collection.

Photos of the famous Firth of Forth bridge were taken from the Wyoming, but this tourist postcard is more fun.

Probably by now the U. S. had entered the war.  I am not a navy historian–my comments are from my father’s notes. His ship with many others joined the British fleet in the North Sea, north of Scotland, where they remained, preventing the large ships of the German fleet from entering the sea and threatening England.

Postcard from Namsos, Norway, purchased about 1917. Collection of A. C. Mickelson

My father’s parents had come to the US from Bergen, Norway in the late 19th century. Tony said that he had been there once and did not care to return. This postcard, kept with his navy photos, suggests that his ship made port in Norway at which time Tony saw a bit of the country.

Scapa Flow is the water off Orkney Island. This cold area is where Mickelson spent most of his tour of duty in World War One. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson

Once the fleet was established at Orkney the crew were allowed to go on land.

The ship’s photographer continued to record everything around them.

Up around Scapa Flow during World War One. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson.

The flying object is a weather balloon. Mickelson did recall seeing occasional airplanes, but he did not mention any ship-to-air battles.

Camouflaged ship, North Sea, 1917-18. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson

The artist Pablo Picasso claimed that he and the other Cubists were the ones who invented camouflage.

The USS Birmingham, Torpedo Flotilla leader, 1918. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson

I believe this is flying the American flag. Note the men in white lined up along the rail, center.  In some of these old photos it’s possible to make out faces and identify the men.

Another ship, 1918. from the estate of A. C. Mickelson

I hope that Navy historians and enthusiasts will enjoy these photos, which are now nearly a century old.

“Speed Kings of the Sea,” it says.

“Battleships keeping step.” Photo by Lucky Smith. 1917-18. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson

The ships were put through their paces.  Weather seems surprisingly good for the North Sea. This is one of the few photos that has the name of the photographer.

Admiral Fletcher’s barge, from the Wyoming. 1917-18. Estate of A. C. Mickelson

Admiral Fletcher would be the man giving the orders. Tony Mickelson was a Chief Bo’sun’s Mate, and in that capacity it was his duty to pipe the admiral on board.

A few years later, as he was laying out the streets of Hollywood, Florida, he named one of the streets for Admiral Fletcher.

Gun deck of the USS Wyoming. 1918. From the estate of A. C. Mickelson

This photo makes the point that the USS Wyoming was indeed a battleship.

The blockade was so effective that there were no sea battles for the Wyoming in 1917-18. After the Armistice in November, 1918,

[June, 2012. Sorry, this post was lost for 2 years, and now seems to have been truncated. Briefly, Mickelson on board the Wyoming observed the surrender of the German navy, and the scuttling of their ships at Scapa Flow. He left the U S Navy in 1919.]

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One Response to World War One: A Sailor’s pix from Scapa Flow

  1. Judy C says:

    I love old postcards and these are so historical as well as personal to your family. The admiral had a pretty snazzy barge. I wonder if they (the sailors) regretted not being in a battle. Hope not.

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