CL-41 Tribute Home

USS Philadelphia
Chaplain's Letters to Shipmates

23 March 1944

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Good Afternoon Shipmates,

Early this morning very early Mr. Fite O.O.D. was thoughtful enough to have me awakened to see the awesome spectacle of Vesuvius in full eruption. No one who saw that sight will ever forget it. The whole mountain top was literally “raising hell a tossing restless hell. A solid pillar of red fire 1000s of feet high was being hurled against the starry sky. If you were imaginative enough it would seem as if the very stars themselves would be scorched or singed. Yes when old Mother Nature runs amok she can stage a show beside which our man made destruction is a puny thing.

The night before last you will recall we had a submarine emergency. It lasted a long time. All hands had to clear the lower decks and sit where they could find spare space. The blowers were turned off; the air became dead and breathing was difficult. But this wasn’t enough to add to the strain – the odor and the confinement, some men began to smoke. Now the C&R department wishes it to be broadcast that not only is the smoking most inconsiderate but moreover that the word Submarine emergency implies that the smoking lamp is out. To put it more clearly - When you hear the word Sub. Emergency put out your cigarette-pipe-seegar and keep them out till the word is passed Secure from Sub. Emergency. Moreover don’t spread yourself in such wise as to block the passageway a path must be left open down the middle for traffic. If you’ve been lucky enough to find a corner where two or three could be easily accommodated, don’t be a hog and sprawl all over it as one lad did outside my room the other night. Of course it goes without saying that there’s no smoking permitted anyplace or at anytime during General Quarters.

Every night about 1845 you hear the ward passed for the Asst. Censors to lay below to the Wardroom. There are an average of 1000 letters brought in to be read-sealed-stamped. It’s not a pleasant job the censors don’t like to read them any more than you want them to read them. But its got to be done so that’s that. You are permitted one letter per day and no more. The vast majority of us find seven letters a week, or thirty a month sufficient-more than sufficient to say the few things we have to say or can say. The tallered and well worn expressions of health-love-the past-the future and so on. But a few still try to slip in four or five letters a day-which if done by all would amount to 5 or 6 thousand letters which would become an all day job by all censors. Mind you we want you to write home. You owe that to your folks to help them to bear up under their terrible privations – no butter no frigidaires – but just because you’ve put off your letters from day to day is no reason to dump five or six in one day and expect them to get by. Confidentially one or two eagle eyed censors do nothing else but search for doubles or triples from the same man on one night so beware.

Seven letters a week – thirty a month going home to your folks would seen to be enough. The chief Censor requests that any man wishing to write a friend who is a prisoner of war should see him as to procedure which I believe is a little complicated. Again despite our plea that V mails be written large and in ink there are still some coming three in small light pencil. The civilian eyestrain should be terrific as the effect of this dumb negligence.

Your folks are praying for you daily for your safety, your goodness, your well being. Last week the mother of one man aboard sent me this prayer recited daily daily by hundreds of thousands of American mothers. (read prayer) Don’t let your folks down. A happy clean tongue in a brave clean heart is the true gift of God. Go back to your people as you came from them or even better. True tough guys will. Cowards and weaklings won’t.

D.J. Burke