Through War Torn Europe: An official trip after WWI told in the words of James Gordon Steese
Number Fourteen
Koppel's Head Hotel, Portsmouth,
Tuesday, August 19th, 1919.
After two days in London, I caught my trusty Cadillac again and started this morning on a tour of rural England and particularly the South Coast. There are four of us in the party, two engineer officers and an old British friend of mine I succeeded in locating by wire from Glasgow. We are finding all hotels overflowing and so are getting into some queer places.

Today we visited Aldershott, Winchester, Salisbury, Stonehenge, and intermediate points. We drove around Southampton twice this evening before we could find the bridge out of the place.

The Cathedral at Winchester quite got me. It holds the bones of old King Canute and others, dating back to 600. Parts of the structure date back to 200. Isaak Walton's tomb was one of the recent ones, only some 200 years old. There were many tombs bearing dates around 1200 and 1300. That comes very near to being the seat of our English civilization. Stonehenge, of course, goes back to the time of the Druids, or before. We also saw the old Roman ruins at Old Sarum.

The roads are excellent, even the minor roads are mecadamized, oiled and in perfect conditions. The same was true of Scotland.

I must go back to the Trossachs some time for an extended stay. It is almost a crime to rush things as we are doing, but I must be back in Paris on Friday, in order to catch the express to Rome Saturday night.

Sunday, I went to Westminister Abbey to hear the music before the sermons. Then I slipt out and rode around town on the tops of motor buses. I am still lost in London; the streets are so winding and change their names so frequently. Even in Paris I got pretty well oriented after a day or two going about with a map. Sunday morning I came out of our hotel on Piccadilly Circus with a map in my hand to walk to Westminister Abbey, which is only a few blocks away; started down Regent Street the wrong way and was almost to Hyde Park before I got oriented. Then I was so far away I had to take a bus back. For a topographical engineer, that is about the record!

Yesterday, I motored out to the big engineer dump at Slough, then to Windsor Castle, Eton, and a few other places on route. Our uniform is shown special courtesies everywhere, Officers of the Corps of Engineers are always singled out at Windsor Castle, because our collar device is an exact copy of the front facade of Windsor Castle. Though it was after hours, we were taken all through the Castle and were again impressed with the great age, dignity, and firm foundations of the English civilization and traditions.

I was mighty sorry not to get over to Ireland, but it was simply out of the question. It is maddening to see so many fascinating places just out of reach. I have enough things back in France yet to do to take a month, yet I must wind up and get back to Washington by the middle of September.

I ran into American Headquarters in London yesterday afternoon to get some orders straightened out and send a cable to Rome. I almost had to fight to keep Colonel ********ís stenographer from serving me tea. I was in a great rush, had a taxi waiting downstairs, but she could not understand anything taking precedence over tea. It was time for tea, she was just about to make it, I was there, tea is desirable; so there you are, everything logical and regular. However, I got away, but I can feel that things will never be quite the same if I ever have to go back there for further assistance.

Tomorrow we are off for Brighton, Hastings, a few minor resorts, a couple cathedral towns, and Dover.

End Notes and Bibliography