The Neptune Society – Letter IV “Still At Sea In A Quandary” – GP Interview

Pacific Ocean, rough seas off New Zealand

When Smitty and the other troopers passed the equator, as per naval tradition, the ship’s crew donned their apparel of King Neptune and his court in preparation of handing the “Pollywogs” (the soldiers) their certificates of crossing.  The Royal Barber tried to cut the hair of the crew-cut troopers and the Royal Executioner paddled a backside with an oar if the receiving line moved too closely to a snail’s pace. (which one can imagine was every G.I. derriere that went by!) Smitty was one to really enjoy this sort of tomfoolery — even if it was with the navy!  The water damage you see to Smitty’s certificate (pictured below) is one of the reasons I began to make a facsimile of his scrapbook onto the computer.  I have re-typed the contents of the certificate to show the humor involved — despite a war.

IT Read….

To All Sailors, Marines, Whatever Ye Maybe: Greetings: and to all Mermaids, Whales, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Eels, Dolphins, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters and all other Living Things of the Sea: Know ye, that on this June 15 ’44 in Latitude 00000 and Longitude Cape Mendacia there appeared within Our Royal Domain the bound Southwestward for the Equator, the South Sea Islands, New Zealand and Australian ports.

BE IT REMEMBERED That the said Vessel and Officers and Crew thereof have been inspected and passed on by Ourselves and Royal Staff: AND BE IT KNOWN By all ye Sailors, Marines, Landlubbers, Soldiers and all others who may be honored by his presence, that Pollywog Everett A. Smith 32816491  Having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks he has been duly initiated into the SOLEMN MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THE DEEP  Be It Further Understood:  That by Virtue of the power invested in me I do hereby command all my subjects to show honor and respect to him wherever he may be.  Disobey the Order under Penalty of Royal Displeasure. (bottom left) Given under our band and seal this Davey Jones, His Majesty’s Scribe – (bottom right)  Neptunus Rex, His Servant – the signature appears to be Gregory Cullen

equator crossing certificate

Smitty’s Letter IV

Letter IV                                                                                    Still at sea in a quandary

Dear Mom,  Well, here I am again as promised.  Yesterday we had a little something different to sea besides the sea.  Notice that I’m getting so that I can only spell  the sea when I mean to write see.  Early in the morning we had the pleasure of seeing another ship and must say it sure made one feel good.  Why it should though I can’t say unless it is the thought that someone else is having it just as tough.  Guess there is some truth in the saying, “Misery loves company.”  We also had the pleasure of watching some islands in the far off distance.  I won’t try to describe them to you, as that would be too much to expect to pass. (Censorship)  You will kindly take notice that I used the words “pleasant” and “pleasure,” if I keep that up you might get the idea this is getting to be that kind of voyage.  Some amusing things do happen though, such as the boys sleeping out on the deck getting caught in the rain or some clumsy ox slipping and sliding his way along the boat.  By the way, I forgot to tell you that we get the regular news everyday in a printed form resembling a newspaper.  Also music by record sounds tinny, but anything out here is good.

You can readily see I haven’t much ambition for writing today, which reminds me    Matter of fact, the way I feel right now, I don’t care much whether I do or not.  Well, that is all for today’s report on nothing, so with all my love, I am your ever obedient son,  Everett

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Smitty and his mother in artwork courtesy of, Priorhouse.wordpress.com/

From GP – Yvette, from Priorhouse, was kind enough to ask me for an interview for Memorial Day.  I was flabbergasted and honored!

I do hope you will go on over and take a peek, I would greatly appreciate it!  Priorhouse

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Burkle Carmichael – Ocala, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO,POW Stalag IV-B

Alex Coran – brn: ITL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Carl M. Ellis – Hope, AK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Myles W. Esmay – Utica, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, !st Lt., Co B/236th Engineer Battalion w/ Merrill’s Marauders, KIA (Myitkyina, Burma)

Gavin MacLeod – Pleasantville, NY; US Air Force  /  Actor

Theresa Morris – Fairfield, CT; Civilian, WWII, Remington munitions inspector

Brian T. O’Connor – Rahway, NY; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces

Ralph Palmer (100) – Florence, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 450/15th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, DFC

Jennings “Bill” Rich – Bainbridge, GA; US Navy, WWII, Korea + Vietnam, USS Boxer, Pickaway + Hornet, MChief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 y.)

Clarence A. Robinson Jr. – Vienna, VA; USMC, Korea, Sgt. / Vietnam, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart (Ret. 20 y.)

Matsuo “Jack” Tominaga – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, ETO, 442nd RCT

John D. VanPatten – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Lester E. “Tosie” Wawner (101) – Clifton Forge, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO + ETO, Machinist 1st Class, USS Morris / US Coast Guard (Ret.)

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 7, 2021, in Current News, First-hand Accounts, Letters home, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 141 Comments.

  1. How great is it that he kept the certificate with his memorabilia? Glad you have that keepsake!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GP, reading this interesting interview of you by PriorHouse has brought several thoughts to mind. I wonder how many of us have created our blogs based on our fathers’ WWII service. You created an entire and interesting body of work in paying homage to Smitty who served his country well, whereas I created a single and extensive post to mine who diligently served his WWII duty and then I progressed to the history of other veterans. We are both very proud of our fathers and rightly so. In not having seen your blog from inception, I wonder if your father was aware of your wonderful tribute to him in his lifetime. Sadly, my father was not and I wish he had been alive to see it. You also mentioned that Smitty never referred to himself but rather to the “11th.” My father’s notes from WWII referred to “we” which I initially interpreted as his PT boat crew but later deduced was indicative of his squadron. I was also surprised and amazed recently to receive a wonderful response to my father’s service post from the Chief Researcher of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial: “Thank you so much for posting this wonderful salute to Duty, Honor & Country. It provided me with additional insight to those that served on PT boats in the Pacific War. Preserving the memory and honoring the service of these veterans keeps them alive in our cherished history of America’s participation in WWII.” This comment further exemplifies the importance in preserving our WWII service to Duty, Honor, and Country of the Greatest Generation by sharing with others to keep them alive in the annals of history. Thank you GP for the wonderful work you have accomplished and your steadfast interaction to all who view your postings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen, you give me far too much credit. That isn’t to say I greatly appreciate it though! We both took our pride in our fathers to credit the best blogs we possibly could, to not only honor them, but try to teach that respect to the coming generations, and remind our own generation of what patriotism felt like.
      I’ve always been hesitant to do an interview, because nothing on this blog is about me. I even have tried to keep my own opinions out of it. If I felt I wanted to express a feeling, I kept it in the comments – not the posts. I’ve always called myself, the non-gender, impartial narrator.
      Unfortunately, my father passed in 1988. Often I tried to ask him to allow me to sent his letters out for submission for publication, but he would almost blush, smile and answer that he felt no one would be interested in what he said so long ago. The invention of the internet helped me to prove him wrong, but he was not here to see it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your blog. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. Thank you for sharing these stories with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoy reading these letters from your father, GP! My father had one of those certificates, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for your like of my post, “Honoring The Lord’s Sabbath;” you are very gracious.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for your like of my post, “Revelation 4:1-4 – The Vision Of The Heavenly Throne;” you are very kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This tradition continues today. Well it continued up to ten years ago. And Smitty saved the certificate!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My dad told me that he and other 511th PIR troopers sailed via the SS (?) Sea Pike.
    Somewhere he has his copy of that King Neptune certificate. I saw it a number
    of times when I was a kid. The Navy guys got a kick out of sticking it to the
    Army “land lubbers”. But put the swabbies at a C47 airbase, round up some pilots,
    jump gear, and the paratroopers could match the sailors in some payback
    ceremonial fun times!

    Liked by 1 person

    • They do have fun rivalry stories. Thank you for bringing your father’s recollections here. Being as the entire division could not fit on one ship, I know my Dad wasn’t on the Sea Pike and I as yet have not discovered which ship carried the 187th.

      Like

      • I am not even sure that the Sea Pike carried ALL of the 511th . I located
        a book online. In PDF format that listed information regarding the troop
        transport ships of WWII. Seems like the capacity of thr Sea Pike may
        have been a little less than the number of 511 men.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. We have my dad’s certificate. He loves telling the story and reliving that event. Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Shellback ceremony sounds like a hoot 😂. I did the calligraphy on some one’s certificate a few years back and had to look up what it was because I had no clue.
    It’s really interesting that they could receive the news at sea each day!
    Thanks for sharing Smitty’s letters. (Now that it is summer, I’m planning to get caught up!)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. How cool! I’ve never heard of this, GP. I’m so glad to know that they managed to create moments where they didn’t have to take life so seriously, especially during such difficulties. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Very heartfelt and heartwarming. What a nice gesture from Priorhouse. Cheers .♥️💞💫

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reminds me of the Neptune certificate my dad had .

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The interview gave me some additional information about your blog and the main idea to start it. As I said before, the most interesting and important part of your blog for me is the letters of your father. Everything he wrote is saying a lot about real person in the real circumstances. Historians write about somebody’s feelings, understanding and vision of any events, which is not the same, it is kind of interpretation of the life. But letters of real persons are the history as it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. When my parents decided to migrate from the UK to Australia we engaged the same fun, though we kids were packed off to a more sedate set of supervised activities while the adults had fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. A good choice of Yvette’s. Humour in the certificate, but fed-upness in Smitty’s letter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The cruise was made longer than is normal, as they did not have the escorts that the Atlantic had – so they zig-zagged their way across that huge expanse.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. When my husband was in the Navy, he went through a similar initiation crossing the equator. There were some disgusting things that happened with food, if I remember the photos in this cruisebook correctly.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great interview and great post. I was once treated to the Neptune experience when travelling from north to south in the Pacific.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. hi G
    that certificate really was fun to read and someone very clever worded that so well.
    and it is amazing that the artifact has lasted this long and now has a virtual presence.
    enjoyed the Smitty letter today and could feel the “waiting endurance”
    also, thanks for sharing the link to true interview – had a handful of your readers leave a nice comment
    and as noted before – i appreciate you saying yes to do an informal interview – it sure enriched my month.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Smitty was clearly not enamoured of deep sea voyages…so lucky they had the crossing the line ceremony to amuse him.
    I loved the cartoon of the car as driven by the navy….Do you know the British radio series The Navy Lark? The navigator gives such instructions as’ left hand down a bit….’ usually followed by a loud crash at which he says ‘ lummee…!’

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know the series, but I found some of it on Youtube. I put it in the favorite so I can go back to it. Sounds like a fun series. The oldest sit-coms are the best!! Thanks, Helen!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. These stories are treasures. 🗝️ I hope you will write a book about Smitty. 🍎 💜. [ Let me know and I will help you with it. 🍎]

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Excellent interview, GP. Thanks for the link.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I didn’t realise these certificates existed, it’s certainly a nice way to mark the occasion!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. These letters continue to be a delight. My first wife did a lot of cruising with her family as a child in the 1960s, and they always did the ‘Neptune’ ceremony when crossing the Equator.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I loved reading your interview. I was surprised to read that you had done one.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. It’s good they had things to make them laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Enjoyed the tradition of King Neptune as they crossed the equator. Fun to sea the certificate and glad you translated it. Great interview by the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Yes, a priceless certificate. Donald and Delbert Wilson both went through the ceremony in Chapter 38 “Pollywogs Become Shellbacks” on the USS Chicago (CA-29) in 1936, but didn’t send any certificate home. The Dexter Museum has a splendid one from 1943, but didn’t know what it was until I made a big deal about it. Now they keep it displayed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m surprised they didn’t know what it was. It is such a long-standing tradition. Maybe not so well known in the land-locked state of Iowa?

      Like

  30. Great interview at Priorhouse. I love the certificate and the Neptune Society story. In the same vein, when I crossed the International Dateline the first time, I was given a certificate and a wing pin by PanAm to celebrate the event. That was in 1967. They don’t do that anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Wonderful post! I doubht the Navy is allowed to do that kind of hazing anymore. I’m old. It doesn’t offend me. I would have done it and kept my certificate of completion forever.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re Navy, so you know some traditions will last. I got from the Navy today: “Today, the event is voluntary and is conducted more for entertainment purposes and morale boosting than anything else. Other milestones such as crossing the Antarctic Circle and deep sea diving have also been adopted in this tradition.”

      Like

  32. My daughter has one of those certificates, and it looks about like Smitty’s!

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I really like your dad’s sense of humour and his total love and devotion to your grandmother, GP. I never had the pleasure of crossing the equator. What an event that was worth even a formal certificate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peter! Some of the longest traditions in the world involve the rules of the sea. This of course being one the most light-hearted traditions I’ve ever heard of.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Ahhh…the question remains…were they required to kiss the royal babies stomach? the ritual varies, but sometimes a well greased boson’s belly is involved…yeech not one of my more pleasant memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. That certificate is absolutely beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. GP, this was a fun post . Was hoping that Smitty would write more about his initiation from pollywog to Shellback. If he had crossed the equator on the International Dateline he would have been a Golden Shellback. I know many sailors, including my husband, who made sure they always had their Initiation Card with them so they never had to endure the ceremony again.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. I’ve crossed the equator, but not at sea, so I’ve missed all that frivolity. It was great fun to read Smitty’s certificate. I’ve read descriptions of the ‘ceremonies,’ but never had seen that particular souvenir; I’m glad you included it. It was interesting to see Smitty mention his pleasure at seeing another ship, too. On my own Pacific ocean voyage, we saw only one other vessel in mid-ocean: a French freighter. It was high excitement to see them — although we got to talk to them, too. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t have been possible during those war years.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. CDR Maureen Christopher

    Farewell salute
    Mom
    LT Jacqueline Jacquet Melvin
    US Navy Flight nurse
    Stationed on Guam. VRE-1
    WW2
    Into Okinawa Battle
    Passed 05/23/2021
    99 years old
    One of 108 Navy flight nurses WW2
    Only one flight nurse left!
    Thank you

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your mother will be included in next Monday’s Farewell Salutes and please accept my utmost condolences for your loss. Her bravery will not be forgotten.
      May I know the town or at least the state she grew up in?

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Reblogged this on Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News and commented:
    I remember such a ceremony and still have my certificate someplace – from a student ship out of Los Angeles, CA headed in 1966 for Tahiti, New Zealand and beyond…

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Nice interview and it was lovely to learn a little more about Smitty’s son 🙂 Your Dad obviously had a good relationship with his Mother. It is a good reminder of the value of family.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. I love coming across those old ‘crossing the line’ certificates – such a wonderful tradition. I have also seen ones for crossing the Arctic circle and they are just as flowery in their playful language!

    Liked by 2 people

  42. I love reading about the voyage. It’s a part of that service you rarely hear about. I hope your week is off to a good start, GP. Thanks for sharing these stories.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m glad your enjoying Dad’s descriptions of the time at sea!
      My week started off yesterday with a trip to the in-laws, today was catch up on shopping usually done on Sunday and tomorrow – the doctor’s office, drug store, bank and Home Depot. I thought retirement was supposed to be quiet and boring?!

      Liked by 1 person

  43. Excellent interview at Priorhouse, GP. Yours is a gem of a website!

    Liked by 3 people

  44. The certificate is priceless. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  45. I am sure on sea they were thankful for every distraction. 😉 Another great story, how they survived the war, also without mental health problems. Thank you also for the interview, GP! Will head over to read. Have a good week! Michael

    P.S.: Cant tweed for one week, because after i had tweeted some about Dr. Fauci and his email correspondence with China yesterday, Twitter had blocked my account.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for reading the post, Michael.
      Sorry about your Twitter problems. We fought hard years ago to get rid of censoring, and now it’s back. Yuck!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you for the great information, GP! Your father really had done a great service, and remained the same, despite all odds. Yes, censoring will be what we have to fight against, the next years. xx Wish you a wonderful week! Michael xx

        Liked by 1 person

  46. Je vader had een grote dosis humor en liet zich niet in de hoek drukken.Wat een liefelijke zoon was hij voor zijn moeder

    Liked by 2 people

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