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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

 C.J. Veddor, a Spokane city inspector, and his wife were thrilled to receive a letter from their son, Edward Veddor, 28, who had left home four years earlier “to see the world” as a merchant sailor.

However, they feared the worst after reading the letter. It was written on board the German cruiser Gneisenau, on which Veddor was serving as a sailor. 

“How he enlisted in the German navy is more than I can explain, but I am inclined to think that he joined at Tsing Tau, China,” his father said.

In the letter, the younger Veddor described a naval victory over four British warships off the coast of Chile.

“After we had sunk two of them, the other two started to run away,” he wrote. “We ran after them and shot one more to pieces, but the other one was too fast for us, so it got away. … There were many Englishmen swimming around and hanging on to anything they could. I know we ran over them and the rest were left to drown. You know, I do not believe I will ever get used to seeing men get killed, or to be shot while they are down and out.”

However, the Veddors were aware, from news accounts, that the Gneisenau had subsequently sailed into the South Atlantic and had been engaged in a second massive battle off the Falkland Islands. The Gneisenau had been sunk.

News accounts said there were few survivors. The Veddors said they hoped their son had been rescued, but the chances “were rather slim.”

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