After spending 3 days in Horta, the ship finally arrived in England. The following are excepts from the First Anniversary document written by Yeoman Meyer H. Leavitt and letters written by Seaman Jack Whiteman. The photograph above is from Jack's photo album.
Yeoman Leavitt: We left Horta on December 30, 1943, spending New Year's Day at sea and arriving in Falmouth, England January 5, 1944 only to be greeted by an air raid before we had our lines secured to the dock. In England we had many and varied jobs to do. Where we went and what we actually did cannot be recorded due to Navy Regulations, but it can honestly be said that we had some intricate duty for quite some time.
The entire crew enjoyed liberty and leave while in England with the most of us going to London, England's finest city and enjoying the historical sights such as; The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, and Picadilly Square with its hustling Commandoes. Our relationship with our English buddies were not too cordial and numerous fights between the Yanks and Limeys were encountered. We all did however, manage to pick up several of the English expressions, such as pub, bobby, cheerio, queques, chips, and last but not least, "You cawnt miss it".
1/8/44: Dear Bess: Pip! Pip! Old girl, you'll never guess where I am, you know, Yep! I'm in
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX. I've been on liberty to look the place over and it's not bad at all. I never saw so many different kinds of service men in my life. ...I spent Christmas and New Years on the ocean. I couldn't help but think of home though and wish I were there.
1/10/44 - Dear Bess: Did you receive my last letter O.K.? I guess half of it was blacked out.
2/21/44 - Dear Gracie: ...We have had a couple of "alerts" here but no air raids as yet. I have yet to see some real action, maybe soon. ...I'm getting along pretty good towards my Yeoman's rate. As yet I haven't had a chance to do any real work on it but I'm bound to soon. I know I have not been drawing any cartoons of late but I'll try to make up for it from now on.
2/25/44 - Dear Bess: Well here I am again just bubbling over with news I can't write in my letters. That's the trouble with being here, you can't say things that are really important to the war effort but will divulge my location. You understand, Bess.
5/21/44 - Dear Bess: What bad luck. Bill Lundy's ship pulled in to the same port I was in and at the same dock an hour before we got underway. I went aboard his ship to see him but he was out on the dock playing ball. I looked for him for a while but I had to get back to the ship before it pulled out. If I only had an hour more I could have seen and talked to him but that's the way it is. Gee! I sure felt bad about that and I still do. ...I didn't seem to be getting anywhere with my yeoman rating and I really wasn't interested much in it. I'm striking for signalman now and it's swell. I was taken off the deck force and put on the bridge so now my time is all devoted to signaling. What a break. I've been sending messages for the ship already. It's something I really like.
Although Jack and Bill Lundy were not "shipmates", they both attended Sampson Naval Training Center and there are several pictures of Bill with Jack's family in his photo album.
Yeoman Leavitt: We traveled all about England making stops at Falmouth, Plymouth, Dartmouth, Portland, Weymouth, South Hampton, Portsmouth, Sheerness, Tilsbury, and enroute visited Roseneath, Scotland and Londonderry, North, Ireland. At Londonderry, our sweep wire was replaced and after several days of practicing sweeping and dan buoy laying we were ready for the big job in store for us ---- THE INVASION OF FRANCE.
June 5, 1944 we left Plymouth, England in company with our sister YMSs and a stellar convoy and headed for the Coast of France. "D" Day, June 6, 1944 found us sweeping enemy mines on the Coast of France so that our soldiers and supplies could be landed safely. From "D" Day to the present day we have swept through enemy air attacks and enemy shore battery fire, but by fine navigating by our captain and with the help of God, we are still going strong.
8/5/1944 - Dear Bess: Good news! We just received permission to state where we are. I know you've been wondering just where I've been and if I've been all right. Well! I've been in England since the beginning of January. We were kept pretty busy here running from port to port but it was O.K. by me because I saw all the different cities here and how the people lived. Very interesting. I've been to Wales too. The people here talk a lot different and it is hard to understand them. The country is very pretty though. Scotland is another place our ship entered. The scenery is really pretty here and the people seem to be pretty nice. They treated the Yanks O.K. It was in Northern Ireland that I just missed seeing Bill. I felt pretty bad about that. I never saw a country so green in my life. It had the prettiest scenery I've ever seen. I went dancing several times here and had to smile every time a girl would talk with me. Gosh! what brogues. Sure! And they talk just like me relatives at home. ...Our ship was in there on the invasion on D-Day. Let me tell you the crew was plenty nervous on that trip. It's a sight I'll never forget as long as I live. Those Yanks are plenty O.K. We have been operating off the French Coast since. In fact it's only about a half mile off our port beam now as we ride at anchor. (Salty, eh!). Anything you want to know that I can tell you, just let me know. O.K.?
I guess that's all for now Bess. Give my love to Gracie, Betty, and Uncle Pat. Cheerio, Jack. P.S. I forgot to tell you that we spent three days in the Azores before we hit England.
Next: A Convoy of Ships Head for France