Monthly Archives: October 2013

Band 1

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Band plays during change of command from Fahrion to Colclough.

I was a musician before I enlisted in the Navy. After I enlisted, I entered the Navy School of Music in Washington, DC and they organized band number 35, which was assigned to the NORTH CAROLINA. We picked up the ship in Noumea, New Caledonia. One of the first things we did when we got aboard ship, we had to be trained for our battle station. Our battle station was not playing ‘Anchors Aweigh.’ Every man on the ship had to be good at something that would enhance the ability of the ship to defend itself or to fight. We took classes. We went to fire school when we were in Pearl Harbor. They had fire school on Majuro that we attended. We had classes aboard ship. I’d taken college courses that were a lot easier.

Not all the ships had bands, just the big ones. When we would be at anchor in a port like Pearl Harbor, the band played a lot of outside engagements. We played at Marine Air Bases carved out of the jungle and at radio stations aboard small carriers. The sailors liked to hear real live Navy bands. We had a good one.

BB-55 Band #35 on stage of the Treasure Island receiving station. Band was waiting for transport to BB-55 in Noumea, New Caledonia, April 1943

On board the ship, the band would select two or three men to play for church services every Sunday. Many times a small combo might play for evening dinner in the officers’ wardroom. We would play somewhere on the fantail before the night movies for the crew. We also played two or three funerals aboard ship. That is not a fun job.

We played what the guys wanted to hear. They didn’t want to hear marches. They wanted to hear a dance band. We had a very good dance band. Big Band.

Another thing, we played for physical drill. Every once in a while we would get some young officer that was going to shape these guys up. The Navy had a thing they called physical drill. You would go through your little stretches and bends. They figured the crew would do it better to music. By playing for the physical drill, we didn’t have to endure it ourselves, so that was all right.

Band playing at Majuro Atoll, 1943

We were playing on a marine air base…we were sitting on a rough wooden platform that they had hammered together for the band to sit on, for the guys to listen to the band before the movie. We were playing along and I looked down between my feet. There was a bug about four inches long and shiny black. He looked as big as the alligators in the Cape Fear River. I am sure he was completely harmless, but I almost swallowed my trombone.

Donald R. Wickham


Crime and Punishment

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When someone did something against regulations, appearing before Captain’s Mast and being sent to the brig was only for the worst offenses. There were numerous ways to see that military justice was served. The division first class petty officer could sentence you to extra duty or hold your liberty card. Next up the ladder would be the division officer who could sentence you likewise, but the extra duty might be more severe and it was he who decided if you needed to go up to Exec’s Mast. If the offense were this serious, the Executive Officer [XO] was likely to take you up before the Captain for Captain’s Mast.

The Captain had a variety of punishments to choose from such as extra duty, withholding liberty, leave and/or pay, reduce your rank, place you in the brig, or in the brig with bread and water, or even kick you out of the navy. On a ship, the Captain is the ultimate law and there is no appeal. His decision is final.

Paul A. Wieser

Art Caskey, Master at Arms

Captain Badger…I recall he really disliked intentionally one real thing and that was being absent over leave. Not reporting to your ship on time. I understand some sailor was late reporting aboard ship. He went up to Captain’s Mast and the Captain asked what happened. He said he missed the last train out of Boston up to Portland, Maine. He wasn’t too late. Captain said, “Well, how did you get here?” The sailor said “Well, I took a cab.” Captain asked, “You took a cab all the way from Boston to Portland?” The sailor said, “yes, sir. I did.” He showed him the receipt from the cabby. It was 25 bucks. (Half a month’s pay.) Captain Badger restricted him to one liberty and told the yeoman to tell the ship service to give the sailor $12.50 back.

Jackson Belford

Henry Poole and Wilburn Thomas, Master-at-Arms

The only contact I had was with Captain Badger. I guess he was about 6-3” or 6-4”. I went on the beach and got into a little trouble so I had to go to Captain’s Mast. I was 18 years old and about 5-9”. The only thing I could see right at eye level was the Congressional Medal of Honor. That kind of scared me just a little.

Charlie Rossell

I remember being a gunner’s mate. We took care of the guns and the cabinet was on the outside on the bulkhead where they kept all the lubricants which weren’t allowed in the mount. We always let our hats lie on the gun captain’s stand and jumped out of the gun mount to get the can of grease just as the Master of Arms came around. And he says, “Where are you going, Hollywood?” I said, “Well, I’m going out here to get some grease.” And he said, “Without your hat on?” I said, “Yes, cause I don’t want it to get dirty.” “That don’t make no difference,” he said, “the uniform of the day.” So, he wrote me up and I had to go to Captain’s Mast. I was given 10 hours extra duty.”

Dan Schroll


“The whole crew. We were all family. Very few squabbles. If there was any grievance you settled it with gloves (boxing). I had to put a few in the brig, but not my doings. I was told to do it so I had to lock them up. The chief master-at-arms would be with you. He is the one that files the report of what happened. They may give him some back talk or lip or something. Until they had their courts-martial or whatever, they would be in the brig. Except if you were in the war zone. If you were in the war zone, you had like a cage upstairs on topside on the back of the ship where we put them. We wouldn’t leave them below deck.” [Third deck]

Thomas M. McAlone, master-at-arms

I was put on report for sleeping in and had to go to Captain’s Mast where I was given several hours of extra duty and a few days restriction to the ship. In the latter days of the ship’s service when the crew levels were being drawn down the MAA [Master at Arms] were assigned as brig guards as collateral duty. We wore the duty belt with .45 caliber pistol.

Bill Faulkner


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October 1945

“Mission Accomplished” October 17, 1945, the BB55 entered Boston harbor and stayed until November 26th and then went to Gravesend Bay, New York, to anchor.

The thing I remember most was the cool weather and how delicious it felt. After we came through the Panama Canal and started north up the coast, the weather cooled off day by day, and being late October, it felt good to shiver a little on deck. The day was bright and clear and as we rounded Race Point I look across and could see Providence Town. As to entering Boston, it was interesting with all the activity on the water, seeing my brother, etc., but knowing I was home to stay was the greatest thrill of all. I was being discharged in the morning. We received a big greeting from local fireboats and other craft and a large group of navy yard workers and others were on the piers. “

Richard McCullough, Radioman 1/c

Sailing into Boston Harbor, October 17, 1945, was an exciting experience, bands playing, and lots of people waiting to greet us. As we made the transit of the Panama Canal on our trip back to the US, I learned that we were going to Boston. I had heard many stories about how the people of Boston were not very fond of Navy men. However, I must say that they greeted us with open arms and our six-week stay was very enjoyable. The volunteer hostesses at the USO Buddies Club on the Boston Common were very nice and I enjoyed many trips there.

A large number of our crew was detached for discharge. For those of us who remained aboard, life also changed. The daily routine was much more relaxed. The crew had liberty every other night. We went into the city and saw movies and went to the USO club on the Boston Common. All the residents were very friendly and we were treated nicely. On our nights aboard, the CIC gang played cards in Flag Plot just forward of CIC. The plotting boards made good card tables. The food in port was much better than at sea. We even looked forward to going to the mess halls. We also celebrated Navy Day Weekend on October 27 and 28. We had large crowds of visitors on both days.

William Shelnutt, Seaman 1/c

Harold Smith and friends

We recovered our people, steamed to Okinawa, embarked the Sea Bee passengers and steamed in formation for home via Pearl Harbor, down to the Panama Canal where sailors threw their hats to spectators gathered along the sides of the locks to see us into the Atlantic after three years in the Pacific and up the east coast of America to Boston where we were given a tumultuous victory welcome.

Barbara, my wife, who I hadn’t seen in a year and had born us our first of five sons, came there to meet me and so did my parents from New York state. I met them at the train and we took a cab right away to the ship so they could visit her. The base had been closed to cabs and commercial traffic all through the war. Those restrictions were lifts by the time of our arrival. I had to convince our driver that he could get onto the base, which he doubted, but agreed to try. We registered and were passed through the main gate. I directed him through the shipyard to our berth. As we passed the last building and turned toward the pier there was the Showboat, the NORTH CAROLINA, in all its grandeur and power. It took the cabbie’s breath away. He gasped and exclaimed ‘Whatta canoe, whatta canoe!’”

Lieutenant ((jg) Tracy Wilder, F Division Officer