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The Watch On The Chesapeake

July 2024
1min read

In April of 1915 British and French warships chased two German commerce raiders into Hampton Roads, Virginia, where they were impounded by the United States. Their war over, the five hundred sailors set about making the best of things, and soon the village of Eitel Wilhelm began taking shape in Portsmouth Navy Yard. The tidy town with its neat picket fences, graveled walks, and brightly painted houses, opened its gates to visitors a little over a year later, and as many as a thousand people a day examined the church, windmill, marriage license bureau, bowling alley, and the offices where the Kolonie-Anzeiger , a newspaper with notably anti-British sentiments, was published weekly. The village, made from stock lumber on the ships and scraps found around the navy yard, particularly impressed local contractors, who pronounced it “perfectly constructed” and said it would have cost about $25,000 to have the work done by private builders. Mrs. H. I. Dwyer of Newport News sent us these pictures. “Anti-German feeling,” she writes, “became very intense in 1917, but these young men did not arouse any ill feeling. They were simple foreign sailors, and people tried to help them and make their stay here a little more pleasant.”

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