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Lena B. Rees & James L. Carter Family Papers: Transcripts - MS 964

Robert Allen CarterĀ Correspondence - May 1943

May 4, 1943

Dear Mom,

Am very sorry I didn't write sooner but was busy getting squared away. Was going to telegraph but couldn't find a place to send from. Didn't leave Norfolk till 5:30 PM Saturday evening. The trains were very crowded but it was a swell trip. Had a two hour wait in New York City So a boy from there showed us around. Saw Fifth Ave, the Empire State building & the ships "Normandie" & the "Queen Elizabeth."

Arrived here about 3:00 Sunday afternoon. New London is a small town & on the "Thames" river. The sub base where I am is just about a mile up & across the river from town.

About every one here has to wait two weeks before entering the school. In that time we do odd jobs & will get physical tests which will qualify us for sub. Can't tell how long I'll have to wait for school, two weeks is standard but it may be longer. During this waiting period a Chief Spritz is in charge of us & we are said to be in Spritz's navy. Spritz was on the sub "Squalus" when it sank. His word is law around here. He even tells the Admiral where to get off. Although I haven't had any trouble with him he is the grouchest & hard to get along with man in the navy. His natural voice is rough because he naturally is always yelling at someone.

Will not know if I will make sub until I pass the text in the diving tower & pressure chamber. If I pass the test & if we start to school in two weeks my schedule will definitely be 6 weeks of sub. training then 4 weeks with torpedos again. Have been down to the docks & saw the subs, no two are alike.

I guess I'm pretty dumb. I am now further away from Philadelphia & Baltimore than before.

The base is very crowded. The first night here we slept on folding cots in a large gym without any space between them for standing. Even a recreation building was also filled with cots But I am now moved into a brand new barracks. I may be moved from it when I start to school but if lucky may stay here.

They have a movie place on the base which charge a nickel for shows but it seems like half the civilians of the town are at it. There are many civilians coming in \r & out where we stay but I guess a lot are working here on the base.

My address is Robert A. Carter S 2/c
U.S. Submarine Base
Box 7 New London Conn.

Sunday evening I saw the Broadway hit stage show "By Jupiter." The actors presented it on the base in their free time. Tonight the Coca Cola Co. is presenting Abe Lyman & his orchestra at the base for enlisted men only & is free.

This is the first base Ive been stationed on where they sell beer. Don't worry about me drinking because I just hate the smell of beer let alone taste it.

All for now want to put my washed clothes away.


P.S. They are having a war bond drive but am waiting till I pass sub tests then fill savings allotment.

May 9, 1943

New London, Conn
Sunday May 9, 1943

Dear Mom,

Can't think of much to write about. My turn for duty section this weekend so have to stand by. Just finished sweeping down the barracks.

I believe I mentioned our barracks are brand new and they have a small room in it with tables for writing and magazines and games.

Friday I helped paint a small boat and yesterday I was on my regular dirt job. You always claimed I worked but I never got anything done and the boys consider me never have worked hard.

Next week am going to see about an allotment (savings). They are having a war bond drive here and want the m bought by allotment so if can get both sent together or the like may decide to get both allotments.

Had to go to town Thursday evening to get a white stripe on right shoulder. Had never bothered to get one before + guess their particular around here. Saw the Walt Disney Show "Bambie."

Can get all the ice cream I want here. They sell it by the pint right on the station.

Close for now

May 10, 1943

New London, Conn
May 10, 1943

Dear Dorothae,

Just got back from the canteen where I had chokalate sunday + milk shake. Am tired so will finish this + sleep on the milk + cream.

I myself didn't get to see Abe Lyman because I thought it was later in the evening than it was and the line was enough to fill the theatre an hour or so before time. You are wrong in our case regarding the officers at the movies. They have about one fifth of the small theatre reserved for officers + we have to wait until they leave after the shows however the regular movies are shown twice nightly + some of the movies are two nights.

I mentioned in moms letter am scraping a sub hull. Part time a ran a heavey compressed air steel brush which was plenty heavy + when I got tired after a spell + didn't notice it I would be holding it about half an inch from the work. Painters follow right behind us.

If you will send a picture of mom (I probably wouldn't) Ill see about getting a fancy picture taken of myself.

Tired + wana hit the sack so will close for now.

New London, Conn
May 10, 1943

Dear Mom,

Not much to write about. Am sorta tired, have been chiping paint form a sub in dry dock. Get black from head to foot, took a long shower and still don't feel natural. Don't mind the job though.

Just before quiting time an officer kept looking at me + I thought he thought I was loafing because had just finished a section of work. He finely spoke + asked about where I came from + asked about my teeth. He said I would need a new tooth + advised me to go to the dentists this evening so went. The dentist won't be in tonight but the Pharmict mate said that when we got our sub examination our teeth would be checked + to remind them about the question of a new tooth so guess I'll let it go until then.

Had strawberry short cake for dinner, second time we've had it here.

If you haven't started the paper yet don't bother to send it because our mail is given to us at muster but all papers + packages have to be picked up. On second thought guess I just as soon bother with it.

Am very anxious about school because think I'll have more than 2 weeks wait before school. Did some typing for a petty officer sunday, had some orders to type + no yeoman.

Am sleepy so will close for now.

May 12, 1943

New London, Conn
Wed. May 12, 1943

Dear Mom,

Received the "Blade" and the paper has started to come. Also received the special papers which you sent. I didn't notice or save the envelope of Dorothaes Air Mail + don't remember when received but I answered it the same day.

As is looks now will have two more weeks before school because there are so many here. Nothing special to write about. This is the third day of scraping a sub hull. Only work about five hours a day. Has been very rainy here. Rained very hard all day so scraped the bottom of the sub where we wouldn't get wet.

Have to wash away my dungarees every night because of the dirt.

Have to take a swimming test tomorrow don't know if I'll make it or not will soon find out. They have a swell indoor pool.

About forgot to mention, went to the Dentist last night like the gold braid said. My open tooth doesn't make any difference on who. They just said ought to get one for looks. Asked about front teeth + nothing can be done. He asked if I ever had Scarlet fever or ricket when I was small. Said whatever caused their shape happened when I was about two years old.

Was scraping a hull this morning when a skunk ducked under the sub to keep dry. Didn't see him but sure knew he was there.

What was Fred referring to when he said to read the Times Magazine? Have plenty of magazines to read at the barracks and can buy apples at the canteen. About time for lights out so will close for now.

P.S. Coming from work they call me black boy. the same with the rest of the crew.

May 13, 1943

New London, Conn
Thursday May 13, 1943

Dear Dorothae,

Thanks for the card. Received mom letter + the Plaindealer funnies also. I saw the two man Jap sub in Norfolk + New York which was in the brown section of the plaindealer. It is in New London now.

Today is my last day of paint scraping start painting tomorrow. I think that was why I didn't pass my swimming test this evening on top of only went swimming once last summer. Believe I have swam as far as were supposed to though. Will take a few lessons alough can make it with swimming on my side, can do it any way we want to as long as we make it.

Have Anna Bell send a list of books to read. They have a large library here.

Can't think of much to write about although every time I say this I think of something else. Out for sure this time so will close for now.

May 14, 1943

New London, Conn
Fri. May 14, 1943

Dear Mom,

Just got back from the show "The More the Merrier." Have been painting today. Was helping to move some boards when a guy spilled some paint in my eye. An ensign drove me right over to sick bay + they washed it out went right back, doesn't hurt any.

Received a letter from Skeet + Joe today. Am receiving the "times" regularly also. Was surprised to hear of Warren being in Texas, couldn't be much further away. We receive our mail at noon only + they hold it a day so that we receive all of the day before at one time.

Please send Robert Kessings address not sure if it is RRI Fostoria or not. Also if you can suggest anything I can send him. As yet can't think of anything for graduation.

Had T bone steaks for dinner yesterday + the smallest ones were at least seven inches in diameter. They must have expected a special inspection to serve a meal like that. Had coca for supper. Here they make it with regular milk + tastes good. I don't know whether I mentioned it or not but we have a chow card which must be punched every meal. Can't think of anything else to write about. There was something I thought of for Dorothae but forgot what it was. It was something I had left out of her letter. Till later


May 16, 1943

New London, Conn
Sun. May 16, 1943

Dear Mom,

Am receiving the Times regularly now, also received the Reader's Digest. You won't have to send them hereafter because they have it for us in our barracks.

I don't get to tired; just enough to make me sleep well. Passed swimming test + sub physical Saturday. Think maybe well start to school in about a week. Don't think will be busy next week because were all through with our painting.

Should be payed next week for the whole month because we weren't payed when we first got here.

Wrote Mrs Mumaw a card. Saw a billfold I liked so got it for Robert Kassings graduation. Will get it tied up this week ready to send.

Can't think of anything to write about so will close for now
Bob. (over)

P.S. Found enclosed slip in one of my books Ken Canfield had done that when in Norfolk. They consider me a bookworm.

May 19, 1943

New London, Conn
May 19th 1943

Dear Mom,

Haven't been doing much, just waiting for school. Was surprised to hear about Jean Hunt. The other day I saw a marine & mentioned it to a shipmate that he looked like a kid I knew am sure it was White Franklin. Didn't now at the time he was in the Marines just knew he was in service.

Yesterday finished working on the sub. Had to clean the bilge yesterday morning. Yesterday had pressure test of 50 lbs per sq in. Nothing to it just had to keep poping my ears. Today had some Momsen lung tests. Its a lot of fun, can go down & breath under water. Went down fifty feet. May go down 100 ft. later, during school.

Theres a few Dutch sailors around. Just saw them don't know whether they talk American or not.

Get paid fifty dollars tomorrow because wasn't paid when we first got here. Guess I'll go over to personal office & get my allotment so it will be in effect by next month.

This week seems to be just flying. Am moved to another barracks next to my first one here. This barracks also has a reading room plus drapes at the windows \r & lounge benches. There are a couple of radios here also owned by boys at school.

About time for evening chow so will close for now.


May 20, 1943

New London, Conn
May 20, 1943

Dear Mom,

Nothing to write about but enclosed are my insurance slips.

Went over to the personal office this noon + filled out a blank for a savings allotment. Have to go back in a week to complete it.

Take the money out of the bank for my insurance.

Saw the Franklin boy today + spoke to him. He had been here for about six months. Ken Canfield is here also. We still bunk together alough in different divisions.

I joined subs because down at Norfolk we were supposed to deceide which torpedo we wanted + they needed one more for sub. I didn't care, a ship is a ship. Since taking sub torpedo won't get out of it, but sometimes wish I had taken destroyer. Wouldn't have had extra schooling. Destroyers are the worst thing when it comes to danger.

Forgotten about my eye, its ok.

Got a brown pocket book for Robert Kassing at a leather goods store in New London. Have to get a card to go with it yet.

Can't think of anything else so will close.

P.S. Enclosed are several certificates which should be kept to prove I went to school. Won't need them be have to be sure in case it wasn't recorded in records.

May 23, 1943


Sun. May 23, 1943

Dear Mom,

The weather here has cleared up for over the weekend. Have just been helping clean barracks the last week, will probably do it next week also. Just finished washing out a pair of dungarees. Had to brush them for about an hour to get all the bilge rust out of them.

Managed to get a ticket for the show at the Base theatre this evening. There is a unit from the Broadway hit stage show "Something for the boys." It is free but have to get a ticket because of limited capacity of the theatre.

I received Jills easter card + answered it. Maybe they didn't receive it.

Can't think of anything else to write about + its about time for noon chow so will close.

May 27, 1943

Thurs. May 27, 1943

Dear Mom,

Not much doing as usual. Received the sunday paper you sent + the American Legion sent a paper they are putting out for servicemen.

Failed to look up dates for birthdays guess I better look at it regularly.

I don't think prices are aspecially high here. There are only about the same number of stores in New London as Fostoria.

Ken Canfield is also taking subs. Our whole class of twenty four are here from Norfolk but about six failed the physical.

As far as I know the Franklin boy isn't taking anything special but don't know at all. He said they keep shifting them around to different posts.

I guess they have special small mattresses on a sub. I won't need my hammock + mattress so will send it home. Unless there is no place to stow it write + I won't send it or else throw it away. Depends on whether I mail it right away or not.

Am enclosing the legion paper to get an idea what it is like. Also a movie program.

Just can't think of anything else to write about so will close.

May 30, 1943

Sun. May 30, 1943

Dear Mom,

Just finished hanging out my laundry. Wednesday + Sunday is wash day for me. Saturday I received a letter for a Robert J. Carter with same address as mine. I've run into more Carters. Saturday they said I was restricted but I wasn't It was another Carter but they had gotten my liberty card mixed up.

Saw Jeanne Hunts picture in the paper was wondering what her address was paper was torn.

My savings ($30.00) allotment is taken care of but it won't start till July + you'll receive it in August.

All I can think of to write about till later.

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