Monthly Archives: March 2013

Divine Services

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First Easter Service First Easter Service program

Religious service was usually held in the mess compartment aft on the starboard side. It was held on Sundays and special occasions. The attendance of the service was dependent on what we were headed for. If action was immanent, the attendance would go up. If not, only those who attended service regularly would be there. The chaplains were always there to help you. It was a tense time in our lives. They would comfort us and tell us everything would be all right and to just trust in God, which we did. Being a Catholic, I could go to confession and communion whenever I wanted and the chaplain was always there, for me and for the rest of the crew.

Jim Masie, Firecontrolman 1/c

Divine service on deck

We had some fantastic officers on board. The man that comes to my mind first of all was a Lutheran chaplain named Everett Wuebbens. He was a man who got along with everybody on the ship. He didn’t force his religion on you except at chapel on Sunday, and you didn’t have to go there unless you wanted to. I happened to like him so much. I don’t believe I ever missed a service. When he was detached from the ship I liked him so much and thought he was so good that I wrote to the chief of chaplains and suggested him as the chaplain for the Naval Academy.

Commander Joe Stryker

Chapel in 1941

They had the organ down where they held the services. Before the service, (one of the ship’s band members) was playing light classical numbers. I would always run down early, because he was such an excellent organist, to enjoy the music before the church service.

At that time, the senior chaplain was a Lutheran minister and the assistant chaplain was Catholic. He had been a boxer prior to the time that he had gone into the priesthood. He was a honey and when it came time and we had problems, he was Johnnie on the spot. Although I am not Catholic, I admired and loved the man. He was just great.

Lieutenant Stansel DeFoe,

Service on deck April 1941

“On Fourth of July Sunday, June 29 (1941), Ship’s Church will be rigged on the top-side, abaft number three turret, at which time we shall simulate Divine Services as conducted as sea. And motion picture camera-men will be present to make movies of this Religious-Patriotic Service.

TARHEEL, Vol. 1, No. XI, Saturday, June 21, 1941

triptych on Battleship

“When the ship was commissioned, we only had one chaplain, Captain Albert, a Protestant. Later on after the war started, we had two chaplains, one Protestant and one Catholic. The chaplain’s office was located inside the library and the library’s head (bathroom) served double duty as the confessional for Catholics. When we had a Catholic priest, he held mass nightly in the warrant officers’ mess. Some people started up Bible study groups. The chaplain was in charge of morale and personal welfare. The chaplain also helped with the (ship’s) paper and library.”

Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

Chaplain's Office 1941

Chaplains who served on the Battleship:

  • Commander Francis Albert, April 1941 – March 1943
  • Lt. Commander Everett P. Wuebbens, March 1943 – April 1944
  • Lt. Commander Emil Redman, March 1944 – September 1945
  • Lt. Francis J. Klass, April 1944 – October 1945
  • Commander Irving W. Stultz, reported aboard September 21, 1945
  • Lt (jg) Harold J. Masterson, Chaplain USNR, reported aboard October 18, 1945
  • Commander Roland D. Driscoll, May 1946 – October 1946

Mail

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Sorting mail

“Everyone looked forward to mail call. A destroyer or fuel tanker usually brought our mail. When mail arrived, it went to the Post Office where it was sorted by division. When ready, the boatswain piped mail call and it was announced over the public address system. The division police petty officer went and received the mail for his division then took it back to the division’s living quarters where he distributed it to the men. Some times it could be weeks between receiving mail. Outgoing mail usually went to a tanker or you waited until you got to a port. All outgoing mail had to be censored by a group of officers. Things you couldn’t mention names of ships, names of places or locations of any kind, names of officers and military leaders. You couldn’t talk about battle, going into a war zone or coming home even in general terms. You could discuss family and doing stuff with your buddies. Sometimes you wouldn’t understand why stuff was cut out. You placed your mail in the mailbox unsealed so it could be censored. Men worked out secret codes with their loved ones.”

- Paul A. Wieser

“March 10 – Still in Majuro for how long no one knows – Mail slow (none since February 11). Swinging to and fro with the wind. One day is much like the others.

March 14 – Received some mail – the daily routine, play deck tennis (a game the officers played with a volleyball net and disks), a little exercise. Movie, sleep, etc.”

- Edward J. Gillespie, an officer. Officers were allowed to keep journals, but no one was supposed to keep a personal diary for security reasons.

vmail example 2

“When the NORTH CAROLINA was still in Brooklyn Navy Yard, I had the duty one night and having nothing special to do I roamed around the ship. A notice on the bulletin board caught my eye. It was an offer from a group of women called ‘The Women of the Forests of America’ or something like that. It was an offer for men who had lost their parents (I had lost mine.). They would enjoy sending little gifts to us sailors. I did not have anything else to do then, so I sent my name into their office. Well, I found out later that they had sent my letter to all of their chapters in the U.S. Nothing happened right away and we were ordered out to the Pacific. I sort of forgot about it as time rolled on, but one day when we were deep in the South Pacific mail call was sounded over the loud speakers. I received a personal call from the mail clerk to come back and pick up my mail. An unusual invitation as our division mail clerk would normally pick up the mail and issue it to us himself. Anyway, when I arrived at the ship’s post office the mail clerk was angry. He said, ‘Ashe, here is your mail, THREE bags full! I had to lug more mail for you back to the ship than for everyone else onboard.’ In spite of his anger, I was delighted and somehow hauled the three bags back to the Supply Office (I was a storekeeper). It all came from the ‘Women of the Forests of America.’ Every bundle of letters, every package, big or small, was from them for me. What a great day! Obviously, I couldn’t handle them all. I gave bundles of mail to the single sailors and packages to the married ones. A lot of laughs erupted in opening packages when wool scarves and wool socks were found. It was 100 degrees in the shade in the South Pacific. There were other good things like stationary, pens, pencils, candies, cookies, shaving supplies, soaps, etc. A lot of letters came from daughters of the women’s club. This started a lot of correspondence and months of great letter writing existed after that. Some even met each other later.”

- Walter Ashe

vmail box

“When mail came the call was probably the favorite of any sailor aboard any ship in the United States Navy during World War II or any other war. When you heard the call you also heard a roar go up on the ship and everyone would run to his division and the mail call officer would run down and get the mail. Sometimes this would go on for hours, as they would get a stack here and there and then start calling out everybody’s names. I don’t think there was anything that beat this! I especially remember Christmas of 1944, we started getting mail and some packages and at this particular time I got two boxes from my mom, one was full of cookies. I’m not sure of the other one was or not. Everybody always shared their packages with each other, but one of my boxes that the cookies came in was so burnt that we couldn’t even eat the cookies. The other box was burnt some on the outside but we could still eat what was inside. We figured that one of the ships carrying the mail was torpedoed and they managed to save some of the things on the ship.”

- Bob Palomaris

vmail in the photograph form

“Letters from home and also packages were always a happy occasion for us. I think those were what kept us going. Reading about what was going on back in the states and about our families was a big lift to our morale. Hearing from your girlfriend or wife was the most important. We also wrote a lot of letter home and to friends. Sometimes we would not get mail for a month or more and this would build up the anticipation until we got our mail. I think the two most important calls were ‘chow’ and ‘mail’ calls. Some received new of death in the family or friends and some of us received ‘Dear John’ letters. These always hurt the most.”

- James Masie

Victory Mail single

“During the war everything was censored and whatever you wrote home to your friend or wife or your girlfriend, before it left the ship it would be censored. So we managed to work some kind of pattern out where you would say, ‘how are you darling, I miss you today.’ That would mean we were either going out of Peal Harbor or coming into New Caledonia. Then we would have another message like way, ‘well, how’s my father and the family, are they all okay/’ That would mean that we were just in a battle or were underway for another island and so forth. All different messages like that.”

- Herbert Sisco

“Our mail was really censored. My folks received lots of letters with holes in them where the censor removed something. I often thought the censor must have gotten a kick out of the love letters I wrote to my girl friend.”

Naval censor stamp

- William R. Taylor

“We were not supposed to tell anyone where we had been or where we were going. Thus, there was censorship. The junior officers censored the enlisted men’s mail and the more senior officers censored the officers’ mail. It was done in the wardroom (officer’s dining room) and we were equipped with razor blades and stamps (post marks for the envelope stating that the piece of mail had been censored). The mail was put in piles on the tables. About a dozen officers censored the mail of about 3000 men. Obviously, every letter did not get read. Most of us did not read letters of people we knew. I remember that one time I cut out so much of a letter to a ‘loved one’ that I wrote a note about what kind of information I had cut out. Censors didn’t discuss what they read.”

- Henry E. Little

 

 

 

 

 

Ship’s Store

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The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA has officially named the gift shop site as the Showboat Shop. With the new name, we thought it appropriate to share comments from our former crew members on the actual Ship’s Store while at sea.

Ship Store

The Supply Department operated two stores on the Battleship, both located on the second deck. Store #1 sold toiletries, tobacco products, and all food products. Store #2 sold clothing and accessories, stationary supplies, and did watch and jewelry repairs. There were 30 storekeepers in the division. The stores were open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 – 11:00am and 1:00 – 4:00pm, and on Sundays and holidays from 1:00 – 4:00pm. The Supply Department also manned the ice cream and soda fountain seven days a week from 1:30 – 3:30pm and, when at sea, also from 6:30 – 10:00pm.

“The Ship’s store that was located next to the fountain sold candy, cigarettes, stationery, jewelry (like cigarette lighters, fountain pens, watches). The profits went into the ship’s welfare fund that was managed by the chaplain. The second store, located near the ice cream machine, sold soap, toilet articles like after shave, and chewing gum. The nickname for the soda fountain was ‘geedunk.’ You could buy Pepsi for a nickel. The Battleship was lucky to have an ice cream machine.The ice cream came in a paper cup with a little wooden spoon. The ice cream was also used as the grand prize for sporting competitions between divisions like softball and tug of war.”

Paul A. Wieser

“One storekeeper and his assistant operated Store #1 when not on liberty or watch. Everything in the store was marked up about 15% over cost. The profit went into the ship’s welfare fund. Cigarettes were very popular. Lucky Strikes was the best seller, Camels second, then Chesterfields. We rationed some of the kinds of hair tonic and mouth washes because if they contained alcohol the crew was known to drink it. The storekeeper was in charge for every cent at cost. If he came up short he would have to make up the difference at next pay day.”

Don Grasby, SK 3/c

“Gedunk is Navy slang for ice cream. We bought our pogey bait over there at the stores. Pogey bait is candy bars.”

Donald Rogers

To visit our online gift shop please visit http://www.battleshipncstore.com/ or come to #1 Battleship Road, Wilmington, NC 28401