Story of Frank B.Lesher USS Virginia Colombo, Ceylon December 15th, 1908

Colombo, Ceylon

December 15th, 1908

Dear Papa,

We are now at anchor in the harbor of Colombo, lying behind the finest breakwater that we have seen this cruise.

On the eighth of December as we were passing through the end of the Straits we had quite a rescue scene from this ship.  Two men were lost overboard from the USS Rhode Island which was the fourth ship ahead of us, the three ships ahead lowered their life-boats and we also lowered ours, the man was passing by our ship as we lowered the boat and we were just in time to get him.  The other fellow must have hit his head on the armor belt of some other part of the Rhode Island side as he was not seen after he passed the second ship from the R.I.


Colombo is a city of 200,000 people.  The principal exports of the Island being precious stones, tea, spices, coconut oil, and other tropical products.  The inhabitants are the native Singhalese, and a number of Parsees, Tamils, and Malays, and a mixed population of Dutch, English and Portuguese.

Each day the fakers come out to the ships with their stones, fruit, post-cards, ebony boxes, snakes, and other merchandise.  They can do business where a Jew would have to give up in despair, and try to sell you all sorts of bad stones.  Don’t think I’ll invest.

The weather is most delightful, and there is a cool breeze blowing all the day.  We coaled ship yesterday and took aboard eleven-hundred tons which will run us to Suez together of course with what we have now.  Will Close for this time, and will write in several days informing you of what I saw on my trip.

Love to Mother,

Affectionately, Frank

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