To all Sailors, everywhere ye may be
While poking around locally, I found these two wartime shellback certificates from WWII in an area seafood restaurant.
These time-honored “Crossing the line” certificates come when veteran Sons of Neptune, termed Shellbacks, initiate Pollywogs, sailors who have never crossed the Equator, into the Kingdom of Neptune upon their first time reaching that line, and has been around since at least the 1800s and has been celebrated in a number of navies. It has remained even as warships moved from oak and canvas to iron and steam and now non-skid and gas turbines.
The young Pollywogs so initiated were from the USS Dickman and Talita.
Dickman began her life in the transatlantic service as a 21,000-ton “535” type cargo liner for United States Lines in 1922 as SS President Pierce and later SS President Roosevelt before she was taken up by the War Department in 1940 and carried Canadian troops from Halifax to the Far East before Pearl Harbor. When the war started for the U.S. proper, she participated in the Torch landings off Casablanca, the invasion of Sicily and Italy, was off Utah Beach on D-Day and the the Dragoon landings in Southern France before heading to the Pacific with reinforcements and finally bringing Marines to Okinawa. Never returning to civilian service after the horrors of war, Dickman was mothballed at Suisun Bay and scrapped in 1948.
The Pollywog who earned his certificate upon her was Seaman 2c Charles T. Noble, who was on Dickman‘s pre-Pearl Harbor run with British troops to the Pacific on Nov. 24, 1941.
The second cert belongs to a Sailor who earned his on USS Talita (AKS-8) an Acubens-class stores ship commissioned on 4 March 1944. The 14,350-ton cargo vessel’s life was short, operating on supply runs amidst Majuro, Eniwetok, Ulithi, Okinawa and the U.S. before being decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on 17 July 1947. In a small world with Dickman above, Talita was placed in mothballs at Suisun Bay and scrapped 1962.
The Pollywog who earned his certificate upon her was Tommy Summerville, on June 28, 1945 while in the South Pacific.
Thank you for your service, gentlemen. Bravo Zulu.