New York / South America / India / Philippines: 1941.
Unbound. A collection of 102pp. of hand typed journal entries, sleeved in a contemporary binder by an unidentified author about his time on the SS Jean Lafitte during World War II and the United States entrance into the war after Pearl Harbor. Some entries are slightly age-toned thus near fine.
102 journal entries hand typed by an unknown author sailing on the SS Jean Lafitte to South America, India, and the Philippines in 1941. The author describes the daily lives of the crew, the different cultures and places visited, and the detour set at the end of their trip prolonging their journey home due to the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. Though the author names his family members, he has redacted all but one mention of the woman he was seeing at the time, the only remaining page with her name is 56pp., “Marie”. However, there are no last names in the text. The author begins the text with an opening, “I think I’ll call my little book of comments ‘Watch on the Brine.’ And to begin with let me say that I’m about to go on watch and will have to stop writing now. But don’t go away. I’ll be back.” He then recounts how he was asked by a friend to come and be the ships Chief radio officer. He is quickly named, “Sparks,” by the rest of the crew and is made fun of, “They know this is my first marine job; they also know that I’m greener than Murphy’s shamrock”.
The SS Jean Lafitte was a C2-S-E1-type merchant ship laid down under maritime commissions in April of 1942, two months after the merchant crew made it back to the United States. In the beginning the crew’s journey was only slated for six months of travel and ended up going two months longer. The author’s writing is often humorous and sarcastic with jokes intermingled throughout the text; “I wonder? The shack is built of thin wood, not even enough protection against woodpeckers,” and “Suez was bombed again, and five ships sunk…oh well, that’s why they pay us a bonus, I guess”. He also affectionately talks about his guitar that he had bought in one of the first towns visited and of the albatross that fly over the Lafitte, even naming one “Alby”. Many of his descriptions are well written and in-depth describing the landscape and culture of the native people to the different places the crew of the Lafitte visit. They places the crew visited were; Trinidad, Terra Firma, Capetown, Aden, Calcutta, Penang, Medan, Hong Kong, Auckland, and finally through the Panama Canal ending in Alabama, Georgia. The cultures and towns often have very negative descriptions as to their cleanliness and large amount of “beggar boys” and “Vizagapatan- woman in witchcraft”. Although he still find way to have fun drinking and exploring the terrain with other crew members.
He explains the purpose of his job, to wire out and transcribe information coming out to the ship about important destinations and information needed while they are sailing. He also explains his fear for death, as the radio shack is usually the first to be hit by a bomb. During the latter half of the trip, the author starts of an entry explaining that Japan has dropped a bomb on Pearl Harbor, “So it’s come at last, and the United States is at war! I never thought japan would go that far”. As the journal goes on, the author becomes more serious, “When I left last July, people were joking about dodging the draft- that’s all changed now”. His last few entries explain the crew’s final days traveling to Alabama, in which an older man, “Steward” began going insane and attacking other crew members, “That was our homecoming. Fate held a joker up her sleeve, after all wed been through together-the mountainous waves almost breaking the ship apart, when the engine broke down, our anxiety when war broke out, dodging submarines and bombing planes- the ship and crew came home unscathed, except for one poor man”. He ends off the collection of entries with, “I don’t know where you are now, but with all my heart, I’m hoping and praying that old man mcguire wills you to recover your peace of mind once more”.
A riveting collection of typed journal entries from 1941, following a man’s tour of duty with the Navy during the United States entrance into World War II.