Monday, February 28, 2011

Maritime Monday - Navy Log

This post isn't going out until late this evening because I've been busy digitizing a Treasure.  Yes, with a capital 'T'.  Here it is:

What is that, you ask?  Why, that's my grandfather Estel E. Dillman's Navy Logbook.  He got this and started putting in photos and other data in 1927.  It's a bit beat up, but then most stuff that endures the US Navy for any period of time usually is.  The colorful bits on the cover are hand-painted.  The cover itself seems to be leather, but may be a faux leather of some kind.  As a sailor myself, I can really appreciate this logbook,the contents were quite recognizable to me even though I served over half a century later.

There are a number of documents enclosed.  Several course certificates indicate Grandpa continued to learn his trade while he was enlisted.  Estel was a diesel mechanic, a Machinist's Mate.  This Navy job would later serve him well in civilian life. 

Other documents are a bit more whimsical, if still extremely important to the sailor involved, such as this:

This is what's known as a Shellback certificate.  It certifies that the named sailor has crossed the equator, and participated in the Shellback Ceremony.  Ask any sailor who's crossed the line, he'll tell you it's one of the major accomplishments of his naval career, though he might not tell you the details of the ceremony!  One of the loose documents in the logbook was a script for one of these crossing-the-line ceremonies, though probably from one later than Estel's.  He may have played a part in some later sailor's ceremony.

There are a number of pages of actual log entries that talk about the ship's activities and locations.  They're dated and are a neat way of getting a glimpse into life aboard ship.  Of course, this information was never given out to civilians, but keeping your own logbook was quite acceptable as long as you kept it secure.  The log pages look like this:

Most of the contents of the log are from Estel's first enlistment in the late 1920's.  After that hitch, he left the Navy to try his hand farming the South Dakota Prairie with his new wife and father-in-law.  They were making a go of it despite the Great Depression, when World War II broke out.  Like a lot of men with prior service, Estel once again volunteered and re-enlisted in the Navy for the duration of the War.  He made Chief Petty Officer by the time the war ended, and he decided that was enough of that.  He went back to South Dakota and put his diesel mechanic skills to use in a diesel-fired power plant.

The logbook has plenty of pages.  Many are filled with snapshots, reminders of shipmates, people from home, and places visited.  An interesting one I found is this one:

The bottom center picture clearly has "Mother" written in the border, but this is NOT Estel's mother Arminthia Belle Wiseman!  My suspicion is that this is Mrs. Sacksteder, matriarch of a family that took Estel and siblings in after Belle died in 1920, and Clyde Taylor Dillman abandoned the family.  I'm still working on that story.

Well, this is long enough for a late posting, and I'm certain there will be more to come from this logbook.  Have any of your ancestors left this kind of record of their military service?  What treasures did you find in it?  Post in the comments below! 

Maritime Monday – Post about anything to do with the sea: ancestors who were sailors, shipwrights, fishermen, or coastguards including images, records and links. Maritime Monday is an ongoing series created by Ros Haywood at the GenWestUK blog.   (Blurb shamelessly stolen from Thomas McEntee at Geneabloggers.)