Mediterranean Cruise

1947 - 1948, page 2

Welcome Aboard

I had no idea how HUGE the Midway was (see photo, right). I was told at school that it was the largest ship afloat (and would be for ten more years). When I stood at the bottom of the steps for boarding and looked up, my neck hurt. She was docked at Pier 7, Norfolk, the only one where we could dock. It was about October 15, 1947.

When I got topside, I was met by one of the fellows I would be working with during the next 10 months (he was my guide). My quarters and the radio shack where I worked were forward on the starboard side, just under the flight deck.

The electronic technicians were bunked with the signal men. They were all old salts with 10 to 15 years in the Navy and had been on the Midway since it was commissioned on September 10, 1945. Met some nice fellows. They had a special area up on the Island where they hoisted signal flags and communicated with other ships using morse code via very bright signal lights. I could go up there with them, and had a great view.

First Days On Board

Acres and acres of quarters, shops, stores, mess areas, etc., spread over nine decks below the flight deck, if my memory is right.  Once you got below the hangar deck there was no way of telling which way was forward or aft.  On at least two occasions I got lost – really lost – and had to head topside until I reached the hangar deck.
I had a crew of guys (all of whom were older and with much more Navy time than I ) and we were responsible for all radio transmitters and receivers along with their motor-generator systems that converted ship’s power to our special equipment needs; the large pole antennas for the radio gear – starboard side, forward for the transmitters and port side, forward for the receivers; (all antennas had to be lowered during flight ops and raised right after); all teletype equipment; sonar receiver on the bridge and “hi-fi” console in the Admiral’s cabin.
In all of the Navy time before boarding ship, I slept in double-deck bunks with cotton mattresses.  On board we slept in an aluminum-framed cot about 78”x32” that had canvas with eyelets lashed with rope to the frame.  They were three levels high and they could be hooked up for clean-up, etc.  When the Marines came on board, we went to four levels high (more on the Marines later).
The head (bathroom) was one of the biggest surprises.  There were standard urinals, but the toilet was something else.  Picture a long, low metal trough with about six or eight sets of shaped boards fastened to the top of the trough.  A rectangular container at one end of the trough, close to the overhead (ceiling) would fill with sea water and when it reached the top it released automatically and the surge of water went down a pipe, flowing rapidly along the trough and down and out at the other end of the trough.
A favorite trick the on-board guys pulled when the new arrivals were using the “toilet” would be to take a piece of crumpled newspaper, light it, and toss it in the trough just ahead of the water surge.

Confused by or curious about all the Navy jargon? Click here for a vocabulary of Navy terminology.
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