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From Ship Shakedown to Final Inspection YMS-346

Updated: Feb 3

WW2 Navy Cartoon by Jack Whiteman

In the weeks that followed the Commission Ceremony for the YMS-346, the crew was busy preparing the ship for shakedown and for final inspection. The following are excerpts from the First Anniversary document written by Yeoman Meyer H. Leavitt and from letters written by Seaman Jack Whiteman, about that period of time before going overseas. All the cartoons included in these blog posts and on this website are original cartoons by Jack Whiteman. They were drawn on his letters and envelopes and some were also included in the First Anniversary document.

Yeoman Leavitt: After enjoying Charleston's southern hospitality for two days, we left for Little Creek, Viirginia, arriving there at 1915, September 27, 1943. At Little Creek we went through our Shakedown, getting the ship ready for the big job that was so near at hand. We didn't mind this too much as we were granted overnight liberty, and those of us who still had our wives with us were making hay while the sun shone.

We were to go through a rigid material and personnel inspection before leaving Little Creek, and this only meant one thing: the ship had to be spotlessly clean from stem to stern - from bilges to flying bridge. All hands really pitched in and on Friday, October 8, 1943, we were waiting for the Commander Shakedown Group to give us the once over. I can plainly visualize how we stood on the dock waiting for the Commander to arrive. A few of the highlights that occurred in this inspection stands out, when Crooks ambled on the dock in dress blues minus his socks one minute before the Commander arrived, and Wisky confronting the Commander in "Tailor Mades". The majority of us needed haircuts and Fisher, then a Gunners Mate, third class stood the inspection with Griffin's jumper which plainly showed two hashmarks.

After personnel inspection, the Commander, followed around by "Foxtail" as our yeoman was then called, inspected every nook and corner of the ship. Suffice to say, we passed the inspection with flying colors, as can be shown by the Commander's remarks, "Personnel very well presented. Fine looking ship." We were all in fine spirits after the inspection and those of us who were in the lucky section were granted early liberty for the fine showing we made. Needless to say, many quarts of good old State Side liquor was consumed.

Rumors were flying fast and furious that we were to leave the States shortly and on November 2, 1943, when we were placed in drydock for serious repairs and overhauls we knew definitely that upon completion of this overhaul, we were leaving - leaving for parts unknown. Many of us were fortunate in getting a leave during this drydocking period. As it turned out, this was the last time for us to see our parents and ones that we loved for quite some time to come. Those fortunate members getting this leave were: Bond, Murphy, Stark, Cicalese, Wisniewski, Coulombe, Hostetler, Macura, Mulcahy and Ricketts. The rest of us were content to stand-by and be satisfied with over-night liberty. (It stays here).

WW2 Navy Cartoon by Jack Whiteman

11/7/43 - Dear Bessie: ...At the moment our ship is in dry dock and I am standing watch. We had a grappling cable caught in our screws and we have to have it removed. ...I'm putting on weight Bess and it makes me feel as though I'm accomplishing something. I weigh 162 lbs. When I was on liberty I weighed myself three times so I'd be sure. It's been cold down here for the past couple of months. It's colder when we are down underway because it is all open and there is nothing to obstruct the wind. I haven't the swell tan I used to have. Darn it.

Yeoman Leavitt: We remained in dry-dock for fourteen days and with the ship completed -(sweep gear removed -40mm gun replacing 3"/50 - 2 20mm guns added) we set sail for N.O.B., Norfolk, Virginia. Here we took on what we thought was an A & P store. For five days we took on food, piling it in every available space on the ship. We knew what that meant - any day now would be our last in the United States.

The picture below is the official U.S. Navy photograph of the YMS-346, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. It was taken at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, VA, November 14, 1943.

YMS-346 at Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, VA, November 14, 1943.

11/26/43 - Dear Bessie: ...Things have been about the same here aboard the ship. There was a flurry of excitement though when we received our packages and when we had our Thanksgiving dinner. What a meal! It didn't seem like Thanksgiving though. I kept thinking of home all day. I guess I was a little homesick. I kept remembering how our family used to gather on this day for a big meal and spend the evening playing the piano and singing and dancing, etc. What a swell family I have and how lucky I am....That's what I was thankful for.

...There is an addition to our ship now. We have a swell library and over a hundred "pocket" books and several large ones. It's pretty nice. It looks like I'm going to catch up on my reading. ...I was the happiest guy in the world when I was home on that 72. Just being with the folks again was all I wanted. To play the piano and sleep in my old bed was really solid. I had never felt so relaxed and at ease in my life. I hated to leave it again.....What a "Salt" I am.

12/4/43 - Dear Bessie: ...Yes! The phonograph has been fixed and we have been playing the records for some time now. They sound swell and the fellows play them over and over again. Sometimes I wish I had my classical records here with me. They would be broke in no time though for the fellows don't care for that kind of music. It seems as though I'm the only guy who really likes them. Since I don't hear that type of music anymore I'm always afraid that I'll be forgetting a lot about them. I bought myself some sketching pencils and pad the other day and I'm trying my hand at art again. I can't seem to draw the same anymore and I figure a little practice will come in handy and maybe bring me back to my old form.

Next: YMS-346, along with her sister ships, the YMS-347, 348, 349, 350, 351 and 352, start their journey overseas, destination England.


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