Guide to the C[yrus] W. Cole Diary, 1896
A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029
Prepared by: David D'Onofrio
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
Cyrus Willard Cole was born on June 21, 1876 in Marshall, Michigan. In 1895, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Ohio, and graduated as a member of the Class of 1899. After his two years of compulsory sea service aboard U.S. Ships Baltimore (Protected Cruiser: C-3) and Princeton (Gunboat: PG-13), Cole transferred to U.S.S. Kearsarge (Battleship: BB-5). Cole then spent all of 1905 and 1906 serving with a recruiting party, before being transferred to U.S.S. Ohio (Battleship: BB-12) in April 1907. In late November 1909, Cole returned to the United States Naval Academy as an instructor in Navigation.
After nearly two years at the Academy, Cole was transferred to the Asiatic Fleet, where he commanded the Torpedo Flotilla from October 1911 until August 1914. Over the next several years, he served at the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois, and as executive officer of the U.S.S. Rhode Island (Battleship: BB-17). During World War I, Cole commanded the troop transports U.S.S. Pastores (Store ship: AF-16) and U.S.S. President Grant (SP–3014). For his service during the war, Cole received the Navy Cross and a special letter of commendation.
After the armistice, Cole briefly served as Aide to the Commander of the Newport News Division of the Cruiser and Transport Force, before being assigned as Recruiting Inspector for the Western Division in November 1919. Between 1921 and 1923, Cole commanded the receiving ship U.S.S. San Francisco (Protected Cruiser: C-5), and the hospital ships U.S.S. Mercy (AH-4) and U.S.S. Relief (AH-1). Upon relinquishing command of Relief, Cole was ordered to the Naval War College for instruction in June 1923. On June 7, 1924, Cole was assigned as Assistant Commandant for the 12th Naval District headquartered in San Francisco, and served in that capacity until receiving command of U.S.S. Omaha (Light Cruiser: CL-4) in January 1926. In September 1927, Cole received command of the Naval Training Station, San Diego, serving there until receiving command of U.S.S. West Virginia (Battleship: BB-48) in June 1930. Cole next served as Director of Fleet Training for the Navy Department from February 1932 until May 1934, when he assumed command of Submarine Force, U.S. Fleet.
On June 15, 1936, Cole was assigned as Commandant of the Portsmouth Navy Yard. While at the Navy Yard, Cole had the distinction of being the Officer in Charge of the rescue and salvage operation of the U.S.S. Squalus (Submarine: SS-192), which sank while performing a test dive on May 23, 1939. For his actions, Cole was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. After the salvage of Squalus, Cole served one more year as Commandant, before being transferred to the Retired List on July 1, 1940 with the rank of Rear Admiral.
Cyrus Willard Cole died on July 29, 1952 in San Diego, California.
United States. Dept. of the Navy. Office of Information. "Rear Admiral Cyrus Willard Cole, United States Navy, Retired." Washington, D.C: Office of Information, Navy Department, 1941.
Scope and Content Note
The Cyrus W. Cole Diary spans from June until August 1896. A product of Cole's Naval Academy summer cruise aboard U.S.S. Monongahela (Screw Sloop-of-War), the diary consists predominantly of hand-drawn sketches, songs, poems, and sea shanties.
The majority of the diary's textual entries consist of poems, songs, and sea shanties pertaining largely to life at sea and various love interests. Among the writings are those entitled "I'll be True to my Honey," "Loving Eyes," "Henrietta," "Viva a la '99," "Song of All Nations," "To Annapolis I Wandered," "The Three Guardsmen," "Home, Sweet Home," "Avec les Officiers," and "At the Mess." Several additional entries include watch and station assignments; list of members of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1899; and a table listing the ship's latitude and longitude, as well as weather conditions.
The remainder of the diary is devoted to hand-drawn sketches made by Cole. Many of the drawings pertain to sea life and duties aboard ship, including depictions of climbing the ship's masts, taking in the sails, scrubbing the decks, eating during rough seas, stowing hammocks, sailors playing chess, and an officer using a telescope. Additional drawings depict equipment aboard ship, including a taffrail log and a boatswain's pipe, as well as a guide to different types of sailing vessels, such as barkentines, brigs, brigantines, schooners, and sloops.