August 20, 1943 found a group of officers and men leaving Jacksonville, Florida - starting on new careers and missions..................................................
August 20, 1944 finds a group of seasoned sailors, who have gone through more than mere words could describe, still sweeping in enemy territory..........................................
August 20, 1945 may that date find ever-lasting peace all over the world and all of us just "kids" again, home with our loved ones. To those who are making the Navy their career and who will still be in uniform when the rest of us are home enjoying American Freedom
- MAY GOD BE WITH THEM ALWAYS.
These words, so eloquently written by Yeoman Meyer H. Leavitt in 1944, are included in a document he wrote commemorating the First Anniversary of the ship. Yeoman Leavitt writes about where the ship was and what the crew did during that first year. Also included are humorous stories, quotes and a page of cartoons drawn by Seaman Jack Whiteman. Excerpts from the anniversary paper and letters written by Jack have been included throughout previous blog posts. This post will continue with excerpts from letters written following the first anniversary. The entire anniversary document can be viewed by clicking the image below.
8/24/44 - Dear Bess: ...Well! I guess you know where I am now and where I've been. August 20 was the ship's anniversary (one year in commission), and our Yeoman made up a regular newspaper telling of all our duties and things we've done. He made a copy for each man. I'm sending mine home to you as soon as I can get some stamps. I'm sure you will enjoy reading it. I helped out by putting cartoons in it.
9/14/44 - Dear Bess: Well! You will have to forgive me for not writing to you for the last couple of weeks. We were on a special sweeping job and we could not receive or send mail. I hope you were not worried too much. Well I'm in port now and yesterday we received three weeks of mail. What a job I'm going to have answering them. It will be a pleasure though. ...I took two rolls of film while we were sweeping and am trying to get them developed and censored here at the base by American censors. We received a letter from the British censor about my other pictures. It was a bill. It seems they had sent them and I never received them. I guess they are on the bottom of the English Channel someplace. I hope to get these new pictures back in a week or two. I hope, I hope. ...We should be getting that letter back from Washington giving the captain the authority to rate me any day now. I still have my fingers crossed. ...Hooray! Hooray! I just had a dish of ice cream. We've got an ice-cream freezer now and the fellows just made some. Boy! Does that taste good.
9/21/44 - Dear Grace: ... I received those old pictures from the British censor but they were ruined. However, I received the negatives of two rolls I had taken two weeks ago. I am enclosing them in this letter. Have Bess have a lot of prints made as my shipmates would like some of these pictures. If possible keep having sets made and keep sending them to me. In England we are only allowed to have one set of prints made at any store because they don't have the equipment for it.
9/25/44 - Dear Bess: ...Two French civilians came aboard our ship today from their fishing boat. We gave them some stuff they needed and our Yeoman had a swell time practicing his French with them. He is pretty good at it and rattled it off about as fast as the Frenchman. They could not speak a word of English and when he shot questions at me I could only shake my head sadly and say "Non, Non, Non". I hope that means "No". ...Did you get those negatives I sent Gracie? I hope they are not smashed or damaged. We did not get any prints of them so we do not know how they came out. A lot of the fellows want sets of them so they can send them home too. Send me as many sets as you can, will you Bess? Thanks a lot. It means a great deal to the fellows.
9/29/44 - Dear Bess: Well! We have been waiting a week now for some mail to catch up to us. We did receive a little mail today and I got one letter. It was from Tom Walsh. He is in Italy and has had eight missions already in his bomber. Not bad, eh? I went on liberty in France the other day and had an interesting time. The people here have hardly a thing. The English people are having a hard time but the poor French have had an even tougher time. You should see all the French flags all over the place. The French sure are proud to see the tricolor flying again. I had a tough time trying to understand them and they couldn't understand me either so you can see what kind of conversations we had, As to souvenirs Bess, I haven't been saving many of them but I have a few. I have a piece of schrapnel that hit our ship when we were shelled on and a shroud line from a german parachute that was dropped with a mine. I also have part of a German mine and a few other articles. I could have got some German bullets and such but I don't like to keep explosives in my locker. I'll bring them home with me (Soon I hope, I hope, I hope). ...P.S. a franc is equal to 2 cents in our money.
10/4/44 - Dear Bess: Well! We have been receiving our mail pretty regularly now and it has put the crew in better spirits. I hope it keeps up. I'm still waiting for those pictures you had taken at home. I guess they will arrive any day now. I have a pretty nice album and I guess every fellow on the ship has seen them all. We always look at one another's pictures and talk about the folks at home. We are really a big family right there on the ship and we are always interested in one another's troubles. I hate to keep saying that I will be rated soon and then never getting it but it just can't be helped. That letter still hasn't come so the captain sent another one yesterday. It seems as thought the breaks have been against me. If they hadn't closed the rates I'd have been third class long ago. I guess I'll just have to keep on waiting. Next month will be my second anniversary in the Navy. I'm getting to be an old salt. I hope I don't have too many anniversaries though but rather I be home soon and this whole mess cleared up. I hope those negatives I sent home came out good. They will give you an idea of how our ship looks and you can see some of my shipmates. Those are the only pictures I've ever taken aboard ship but intend to take more. The next pictures I take will be of all the officers and the rest of my shipmates.
10/9/44 - Dear Bess: I'm sorry that radio bulletin scared you Bess, and that I didn't write to you in so long but it couldn't be helped. I think I explained it to you in my other letter. There are a heck of a lot of ships like mine Bessie, so don't worry about what the radio says.
10/15/44 - Dear Bess: I received those prints today Bess, thanks a lot. I gave them out to the fellows and they were all smiles as they wrote home and enclosed their picture, One or two more sets will be enough as I realize it is pretty expensive. The fellows all want to chip in and pay me for them. I have a little money saved and I'll send home a money order home next pay day. ... Did you receive that copy of the history of our ship on our anniversary? I meant to mail that to you long ago. Our Yeoman wrote that whole thing and except for some errors in typing, I thought it was pretty good. When you read that Bess, you will know what our ship is like and what has happened to us in all this time. I hope you like it. Don't mind those pictures of me without my shirt for I didn't lose it. We were sunning ourselves that day.
That picture of me with the flags in my hand is me sending message by semaphore. ... ...P.S. On the next page I will identify my shipmates in the pictures.
Love and Kisses,
Next: Jack Identifies the Crew in Photographs