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"We'd get milk when we'd get back to the States, and fresh bread, which is exciting. The bread at sea on the ships was always full of the weevils." (Audio Interview, Part II - 1:19)

   Howard Catton Gilbert
Collection image
Howard Catton Gilbert in uniform, San Francisco, California [1943]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: Naval Armed Guard; Sea Devil (troop ship); Prowess (Liberty ship)
Service Location: Naval Training Station, Farragut, Idaho; Class A Gunnery School, San Diego, California; Australia; New Guinea; Calcutta, India; Pacific Theater
Rank: Boatswain's Mate Second Class
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Growing up in Seattle in the 1930s, Howard Gilbert developed a fascination with the water and ships. Enlisting in the Navy once the U.S. entered World War II was almost a foregone conclusion. He served on a troop ship and Liberty ship in both Pacific and Atlantic. Being on the water didn't remove him from action or its consequences: he saw two ships in his convoy sunk by a German submarine, and his troop ship took on wounded from the battle for New Guinea.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2 
Download: audio(1) | 
Download: audio(2) (57 min.)
»Photo Album  (4 photos)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Description of the Naval Armed Guard; pay differences between the Merchant Marines and the Navy gunners; difference in discipline serving on the Merchant Marine ship as opposed to a Navy ship. (01:40) Dropping off Army troops along the New Guinea coast; hearing firefights at night; Japanese shooting at the ships; coming into the wrong end of the bay on Wakde Island off the north coast of New Guinea; Japanese attempting to repair their air field on the island; bringing casualties from the field hospital back to the US. (03:39) Shifts of four-hour watches, looking for enemy submarines and aircraft; lack of sleep; the excitement of docking at US port for fresh, insect-free produce; new sailors on the ship having trouble eating bread due to weevils. (01:37)
Facing a strong storm in the Tasman Sea while serving on a Liberty ship and the damage it caused; learning how to sleep during storms by holding on to a pipe near his bunk; continuing the habit of holding on while sleeping after returning from the war. (01:31) German submarine attacking his convoy near Gibraltar, hitting two of the ships. (00:59) 

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  October 26, 2011
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