All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…

I was rummaging through some stuff and found my grandfather’s photo albums.

My grandfather, J. Lee Sr., (aka “Jack”) was a Lt. (JG) on board the USS Fanning (DD-37) during the World War I.

The USS Fanning

Based at Queenstown, Ireland, Fanning and her sister destroyers patrolled the eastern Atlantic, escorting convoys and rescuing survivors of sunken merchantmen.

In the afternoon of 17 November 1917 an alert lookout on board Fanning sighted the periscope of U-58, and the destroyer quickly moved in on the attack. Fanning’s first depth charge pattern scored and as Nicholson (DD-52) joined the action, the submarine broke the surface, her crew pouring out on deck, hands raised in surrender.

U-58

Fanning maneuvered to pick up the prisoners as the damaged submarine plunged to the bottom, the first of two U-boats to fall victim to United States Navy destroyers in World War I.

Grandpa in VeniceI am rather proud of my grandfather. I never really knew him. He died when I was 6 years old. Needless to say, the military history is precious to me. It is a way of knowing him even though I did not have the chance to do so real life.

There are other tales of “Jack” and I hope to document them later. Interestingly enough, in the photo album were some pictures of my grandfather in Europe. Most interesting to me was this one of him in Venice taken in December of 1919.

My intention is to take a copy of this picture with me when we go to Europe next month.

I want to find that spot and have my own picture taken right there where he is standing (maybe even with a pidgeon on my hand like he has).

I am sure one of the locals will know what and where it is.
It’s my own quest of sorts.

I guess I am bridging the span of time to reach back to the grandfather I never knew.

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Jay Lee

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13 Thoughts.

  1. You might not even need a local to find it.

    St. Mark’s Basilica portal in the background. He’s standing next to one of the flagpoles in St. Mark’s Square – likely the center one.

    That’s my favorite place in my favorite European city. (Of course, I’ve got thousands of others to visit to see if it can be beat. :)

    Now, can you fit a replica coat and hat in your backpack?

  2. Now that is a great quest. I really hope you find it. (I’d buy a stuffed pigeon just in case though) . Anyway good luck with it.

  3. I was just about to tell you that I found the location on the internet, but I see someone was able to ID it for you.

  4. I also have pictures of the USS Fanning and I also have aShips Diary from that period of ww1.My father-in- law Herbert E. Beattie Sr. was also on that ship I have been trying to see if anyone is interested in the document.

  5. My Grandfather Arthur G. Eckstadt. He was a boiler operator on the USS Fanning. He was on the ship from March 1917-July 1919.

    He was on the ship on Nov 17th, 1917.

    Have u been able to find a list of crew for the Fanning in 1917.

    I was 7 years old in 1971 when my Grand Father died.

    We have a very similar story.

    Nathan Eckstadt – Oak Creek, WI

  6. Anyone who reads this I am interestd in any info or pictures from the Fanning during this time period,

    June 1917 July 1919. My Grand Father was Arthur G. Eckstadt who was a boiler operator on the Fanning during this time period. Please reach me at this email address. neckstadt@sbcglobal.net

  7. My grandfather was on the Fanning and helped with the capture of the u 58. He told me the man who took all the pictures of the sub was the ships blacksmith. His nickname was kodak due to the camera. The navy used one picture as arecruiting poster.
    BJ Brown

  8. “And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by”
    Where can this piece of text be found?
    Who´s the author?
    Is it a part of a poem?
    Is it part of a book?
    Looking forward for information.
    Thanks a lot.
    Wagner

  9. Hi…Just out off interest..
    I am collecting pictures of the US Navy and Royal Navy that was based in Queenstown as a hobby and was woundering if you have any photos of ships that were based there or backround shots of Queenstown…Now called Cobh…

    It is a hobby of mine as i live in Cobh Couny Cork .. Ireland

    Regards…

    Cha

  10. And All I Ask is a Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By
    Posted on June 19, 2008 by Andrew Ferguson

    Sea Fever
    By John Mase­field

    I must go down to the seas again
    to the lonely sea and sky
    And all I ask is a tall ship
    and a star to steer her by
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song
    and the white sail’s shak­ing
    And a gray mist on the sea’s face,
    and a gray dawn break­ing.

    I must go down to the seas again
    for the call of the run­ning tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call
    That may not be de­nied
    And all I ask is a windy day
    with the white clouds fly­ing
    And the flung spray and the blown spume
    and the sea-gulls cry­ing.

    I must go down to the seas again
    to the va­grant gypsy life
    To the gull’s way and the whale’s way
    where the wind’s like a whet­ted knife
    And all I ask is a merry yarn
    from a laugh­ing fel­low-rover
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream
    when the long trick’s over.

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