Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Liberty cards, leave passes and meal tickets

There's such a wealth of information on this guy at my fingertips (literally 750+ documents and photos) that it's hard to figure out what to post first. I want to do this in some kind of logical order, so I'm starting out with his enlistment details and some basic Navy things an enlisted man would have to learn, carry with him or experience as part of his induction process into the United States Navy at the outset of World War II.

Then later as this website progresses, I'll go into his service record, follow his log entries, and share the details of his famous 4th war patrol of the USS Darter, and explain exactly what happened to his submarine at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  Then later get into much more detail about his life after World War II ended, and how he continued to serve his country in the Department of Civil Defense and the USAF.

The most incredible thing I find about my grandfather is how he saved EVERY SCRAP of paper pertaining to his Navy service. Right down to the identification cards he carried, the dinner menus, the meal tickets, the shore leave passes...all sorts of stuff that everyone else no doubt threw away.

Here's a few examples.

The four cards below (also copied on reverse side) are some of his temporary leave passes, known as "Liberty Cards"  When a ship is docked at a port, either for repair or resupply, the sailors aren't required to stay on board.  They are issued these passes and then let loose to go "have a night on the town".  They have the enlisted man's signature and USN serial number, the name of his commanding officer, the date and the time which his shore pass expires.  For example, the top one is from the Naval Repair Base in New Orleans.  It mentions on the flip side that Sunday through Friday, by 2330 Hours (11:30 PM) he would have had to be out of all the public gathering places like stores, bars or nightclubs.  By 2400 Hours (Midnight) he has to be off the streets.  His liberty officially expires at 1:30 AM and he has to be back on board his ship.  As you can see, no two Liberty Cards are the same.  Some have varying amounts of information.  The bottom one even has his fingerprint, in case he ever got in trouble with the law (which I know he didn't.)

Enlisted men had to be in uniform to show their military affiliation when on shore leave at a Naval base, and they were reminded that everything they do and how they conduct themselves reflects not only on them, but their ranks, their commanding officers, their crews and the entire U.S. Navy.

Hugh didn't strike me as the sort of guy who'd get into fights in sailor bars or frequent the bordellos though. :)  I think it's incredible he saved these.

Below is a Meal Ticket for Hugh, billed to the Naval Supply Depot in Melbourne, Australia.  His sub would have had to dock in this base to resupply before or after duty in its area of war patrol in the Phillippines.  It appears this ticket would have been good for "two shillings and sixpence" at any restaurant or mess hall operated by the government of Australia.  This one has no signature on it, so it appears he didn't use it.

 The "Royal Hawaiian Return Pass" in this next document scan registers him as a guest at the Royal Hawaiian (presumably a hotel in Hawaii) He was authorized to be on the streets until 11:00 PM on September 18 (year not indicated) Probably 1942 or 1943.

The last image I'm sharing is his US. Navy Service Card. This is a post-war document that certifies him as having served his full tour of duty in World War II.  It shows he was given an honorable discharge and has his signature and his Navy serial number on it (at the time a unique number issued by the service--now we use our Social Security numbers)  This could be carried in his wallet to prove he was a veteran and could be proof of his service in lieu of his discharge papers.  I don't know if the Navy still issues these or not.