Mediterranean Cruise

1947 - 1948, page 7

One Hell of a Storm

On the way back to Norfolk, we ran into a “big” storm.  We were somewhere east of Labrador.  Midway was built on the hull of a battleship and when she was launched she was top heavy.  She was noted as one of the most unstable vessels in the fleet.  She rolled side to side as well as doing heavy pitching.

The picture above was taken before we hit the bad part.  The water measures about 20’ breaking over the forward flight deck. You can get an idea of the height from the personnel guard chain across the forward part of the flight deck – it is 3-1/2 feet high.

All hands were ordered below deck unless needed for duty.  The signal guys told me the waves came over about 60’ above the flight deck.  There was a lot of damage.  Steel plates were buckled all across the bow above the water line.  The gun mounts just below the flight deck at the bow were torn loose.  The secondary con (if the bridge went out, they ran the ship from here) had heavy damage.

Take a look at the jacket cover on Scott McGaugh’s “Midway Magic."  The jacket back picture shows the Midway in 1951 and note all of the dimpled-in plating at the bow.  This is the result of heavy sea action.  Now look at the jacket front picture.  This was taken in 1991 and the ship has a new bow with heavier plating.  No dimples.

Side Trips & Souvenirs

On shore leave, we were able to go to many interesting places - especially to a young man who really had never left Pittsburgh, Pa. Click here for some stories about Naples, Pompeii, Capri, & more.

The economies of the European Countries were in terrible shape.  Most of everything was lost/destroyed by the war.  Certain areas were renowned for unique items and they began reviving these industries.

At Malta, I was able to get Maltese Lace for a very low price.  I bought sets for different purposes.  Their lace was very popular for small doilies that went under water glasses or wine glasses at formal dinners.  My wife still has some that I had brought home that my mother gave to her.

Cameos were everywhere in Naples.  I found out very quickly that there were many fake ones being sold.  I brought back a bunch that were verified as being authentic.

Grasse, France, was noted for its perfumes.  I brought back about a dozen small bottles of perfume – all Chanel No. 5.  I paid roughly one-fifth of what it cost in the states.  When I got home on leave after I returned from the cruise, I asked my mother how she liked the perfume.  She said she didn’t like it and gave it all away ($200.00 worth at U.S. prices).

Naples was also noted for the excellent accordions being made there.  On the first liberty there after payday (we got paid once a month) the liberty launch I was in coming back had seven guys with accordions.  I was told we probably had a hundred brought on board.  They were said to be one-fourth the cost in the States.

Segregation

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and had little or no exposure to segregation.

While at boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois, they began transferring-in boot companies from Bainbridge, Maryland, where the black recruits were training.  It was being shut down.  It was really something to see and hear them marching when going to certain activities.  They sang a cadence that sounded like something from New Orleans, and marched shuffle-foot, i.e. they slid their steps when marching.  Looked neat, but the officers put a stop to it.

I was on the ship several weeks before I found out that we had blacks on board.  Each day at the end of work duty (1800 as I recall) we turned on radios and record players that went throughout the ship and played until 2200 hours.  These were in my radio shack.  One night a black fellow showed up at the shack.  He was dressed in either cooks’ or bakers’ clothes.  He asked if I could put on some of the music that he and his buddies liked.  I told him sure and to go over to the cabinet with the records and pick out some.  I put a few on that night and a few each night thereafter.  Four or five days after his first appearance, he showed up again.  This time he brought a large box containing about 25 cupcakes with icing on them.  The guys and I really enjoyed them.  We got a tub of ice cream a few nights later.  The guys wanted to play the records that he had picked all the time and see how much more goodies we would get.  I had to call a halt because some of the guys on the ship didn’t like the music and I was afraid of a minor conflict or “mutiny”, so we returned to playing a couple each night.

Almost all of the cooks and bakers on board were black but I don’t remember seeing any on liberty.

End note: That's it for my memories for now. Thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. Please check back for updates, and do visit the link sites, and consider visiting and contributing to the efforts of those involved in keeping the Midway memories alive by supporting the Aircraft Carrier Museum and CV41.org.

Special thanks to my wife Terry, who typed up (and corrected!) all the hand-scribbled memories pages to email to our daughter, Roseann, who created this site.

- Charlie Beggy, September 2004

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Side Trips

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