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reigningcatsndogs
04-28-2008, 10:11 PM
This is not for a current WIP but for one I am really toying with, trying to decide if I am in WAY over my head. Any help would be wonderful! Thanks.

The setting is on a boat...ooops, ship... doing escort duties in the Atlantic in WWII.

First question -- It is a Town Class Destoryer, but is that a Canadian designation, because I believe before it was a Town Class Destroyer it would have been a US Clemson Class Destroyer? Are they the same thing?

Second question -- What sort of living conditions would these guys have had? I'm looking just at basics -- sleeping quarters, what did they do when they weren't on duty?

Sorry for those of you looking for the Village People smilies... :D

Cranky
04-28-2008, 10:27 PM
Bumping for some others that might know a lot more than I do about this...

I know squat about the Canadian navy, and unfortunately, I never got to go on a cruise during my service.

Bumpity bump bump!

Williebee
04-28-2008, 10:44 PM
Several Clemson Class ships later became Town Class ships after a 1940 deal that transfered them to the Royal Navy.

By then these ships were nearly 20 years old, ancient, in technology and modern Navy terms. In the North Atlantic, particularly in winter, the only place that wouldn't be freakin' cold would be the boiler and engine rooms.

It would be cramped, and noisy. Most "tin can" sailors, even today, come away with some hearing loss. There is a constant battle against the dirt: soot, smoke, dust, and stale people smells.

And, everything, EVERYTHING is always in motion. In moderate seas you learn to eat holding on to your tray and cup, with a leg braced against something. Nothing gets "set" on a desk or a rack (bed). It gets secured. If you don't, it might not be there when you look for it.

In heavy seas, like a storm, you can learn to walk the passageways with a foot on the base of the walls.

And you learn to sleep anywhere, regardless of the noise or what is going on around you.

Higgins
04-28-2008, 10:48 PM
Several Clemson Class ships later became Town Class ships after a 1940 deal that transfered them to the Royal Navy.

By then these ships were nearly 20 years old, ancient, in technology and modern Navy terms. In the North Atlantic, particularly in winter, the only place that wouldn't be freakin' cold would be the boiler and engine rooms.

It would be cramped, and noisy. Most "tin can" sailors, even today, come away with some hearing loss. There is a constant battle against the dirt: soot, smoke, dust, and stale people smells.

And, everything, EVERYTHING is always in motion. In moderate seas you learn to eat holding on to your tray and cup, with a leg braced against something. Nothing gets "set" on a desk or a rack (bed). It gets secured. If you don't, it might not be there when you look for it.

In heavy seas, like a storm, you can learn to walk the passageways with a foot on the base of the walls.

And you learn to sleep anywhere, regardless of the noise or what is going on around you.

Wikipedia looks good on this topic:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_class_destroyer

reigningcatsndogs
04-28-2008, 10:51 PM
Thanks, Williebee! This is a huge help...

Can I ask a bit more about living conditions -- were the beds(racks) stacked? Were the like cots? What about showers -- lots, few, communal or tiny cramped things?

I assume as far as food goes, most of it probably came from a can?

Williebee
04-28-2008, 11:29 PM
First, I tell you a story. Come closer, closer, wait. Too close.

One of the Clemson Class Destroyers, DD-189 was named USS Semmes. The first ship in the US Navy to be named after a Confederate Admiral. Later, in '61, well after DD-189 was sent off to make razor blades (decommissioned), another ship was named the Semmes, DDG-18. That's the boat I served on.

So, unfortunately, I can't tell you much about the racks and showers aboard the old Clemson Class. I can only tell you about some of the things that would be the same from destroyer to destroyer.

Food, for example. When you load in stores, whether it's bacon or bullets, everybody works. And then you eat well for the next week or so. The fresh stuff has to be eaten first, canned can wait.

tallus83
04-28-2008, 11:55 PM
All RN town-class destroyers were former US flush-deck, four-stackers from WW1.

I know that this was partially answered already, but I thought I would clarify it a bit.

You should be able to find additional info at the RN site at www.naval-history.net

PS: Just an FYI, there was also a town-class cruiser in the RN. Something to be careful of during research.

reigningcatsndogs
04-29-2008, 12:11 AM
Thanks, Tallus. Another great link -- I'll go through that one carefully as well. The one I'm interested in was a USN Clemson Class Destroyer that was decommissioned in 1940, then transferred to the RCN where it was listed as a Town-Class Destroyer. I've got a lot of the stats for the boat as far as armaments, and am researching what modifications would have been made in the transition... although it probably doesn't play much into the potential WIP overall. I just like to have a good understanding of how things work for my own sake.

And thanks for the heads-up about the cruiser. I hadn't run across that yet, but will watch for it. Thank you very much!

And thanks, Higgins, for the link as well. Am already going through that one.

tallus83
04-29-2008, 01:21 AM
You're welcome.

The unofficial RN opinion of the destroyer deal was that they received a royal screwing. The ships were in terrible shape and each one needed a major refit to make them usable, even as a stopgap escort.

reigningcatsndogs
04-29-2008, 01:35 AM
I'll make sure I look into that aspect as well...

The ship I'm looking at was on escort and patrol duties, and then became part of an 'offensive strike group'. I've seen pictures of it with heavy storm damage, and I believe (I need to check this out more) that she was late getting into the water when she was first transferred because she needed extensive repairs.

jclarkdawe
04-29-2008, 02:52 AM
You might want to read THE CRUEL SEA by Nicholas Monsarrat and THE CAINE MUTINY by Herman Wouk.

Monsarrat was British and served in a corvette and destroyer in the British Navy. He also wrote some other books.

Wouk served in US destroyers during the war. Although THE CAINE MUTINY is set on a minesweeper, there's not much difference between a minesweeper and a destroyer from your point of view.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Michael Davis
04-29-2008, 05:04 AM
I actually did a two week tour on a DE 1040 Escort LAMPS destroyer named the Garcia when I worked for the navy many years ago. The word "tight" is an understatement. Sailors actually hot bunked (shared bunks on off shifts). And it was hot, really hot. Don't forget that even at sea state 3, you're really pitching about like a cork in those small destroyers. It was one of the most miserable assignments I every worked on, and I knew I was gone in two weeks. I've always been amazed we can get young men and women to work under such conditions detached from their families for such long periods for such little money.

reigningcatsndogs
04-29-2008, 05:08 AM
I actually did a two week tour on a DE 1040 Escort LAMPS destroyer named the Garcia when I worked for the navy many years ago. The word "tight" is an understatement. Sailors actually hot bunked (shared bunks on off shifts). And it was hot, really hot. Don't forget that even at sea state 3, you're really pitching about like a cork in those small destroyers. It was one of the most miserable assignments I every worked on, and I knew I was gone in two weeks. I've always been amazed we can get young men and women to work under such conditions detached from their families for such long periods for such little money.

Oh, thanks, this is great info for me. It amazes me, and I wonder how they can do it, especially for such long stretches.

Michael Davis
04-29-2008, 05:11 AM
I actually did a two week tour on a DE 1040 Escort LAMPS destroyer named the Garcia when I worked for the navy many years ago. The word "tight" is an understatement. Sailors actually hot bunked (shared bunks on off shifts). And it was hot, really hot. Don't forget that even at sea state 3, you're really pitching about like a cork in those small destroyers. It was one of the most miserable assignments I every worked on, and I knew I was gone in two weeks. I've always been amazed we can get young men and women to work under such conditions detached from their families for such long periods for such little money.

Bruzilla
04-29-2008, 04:07 PM
This is not for a current WIP but for one I am really toying with, trying to decide if I am in WAY over my head. Any help would be wonderful! Thanks.

What you might want to do first is decide who your characters are. In the Navy you have officers and enlisted personnel, and how "O's" live is much different from how the Enlisteds live. Officers lived in staterooms, usually 4-8 to a room, and eat in the wardroom or officer's mess. Senior enlisteds (Chief Petty Officers) slept in chief's berthing, which had beds, aka "racks", that were stacked two high and ate in the Chief's Mess. On destroyers of the period, E-6 and below enlisted personnel slept on racks that were effectively cots that were stacked three high, and ate on the mess decks.

Also, when aboard a ship at sea, sailors will usually adapt their spaces (where they work) for certain creature comforts. When I was out on the USS Saratoga, I spent most of my time in my workspace both because we were always working but also because there were more creature comforts there. Lastly, when folks are at sea, we generally work what's called "port and starboard", which means you are working for four hours, off for four hours, back on work for four hours, and on and on.

auntybug
04-29-2008, 04:59 PM
Sorry for those of you looking for the Village People smilies... :D

You mean these guys? ;)
http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/merv/ymca.gif (http://www.freesmileys.org)

reigningcatsndogs
04-29-2008, 05:37 PM
What you might want to do first is decide who your characters are. In the Navy you have officers and enlisted personnel, and how "O's" live is much different from how the Enlisteds live. Officers lived in staterooms, usually 4-8 to a room, and eat in the wardroom or officer's mess. Senior enlisteds (Chief Petty Officers) slept in chief's berthing, which had beds, aka "racks", that were stacked two high and ate in the Chief's Mess. On destroyers of the period, E-6 and below enlisted personnel slept on racks that were effectively cots that were stacked three high, and ate on the mess decks.

Also, when aboard a ship at sea, sailors will usually adapt their spaces (where they work) for certain creature comforts. When I was out on the USS Saratoga, I spent most of my time in my workspace both because we were always working but also because there were more creature comforts there. Lastly, when folks are at sea, we generally work what's called "port and starboard", which means you are working for four hours, off for four hours, back on work for four hours, and on and on.

I just automatically assumed my m/c was enlisted. Now that you've brought it up though, I'm thinking I shouldn't be so hasty -- maybe an officer would work better for the story.

Thanks for the help. :D

tallus83
04-29-2008, 07:50 PM
I believe the RN's (RCN's) watch hours were slightly different than the USN's.

The RN split the dogwatch (4PM to 8PM) into two watches. The First Dog was 4-6PM and the Second Dog was 6-8PM.

I'm not sure if the USN did it this way.

reigningcatsndogs
04-29-2008, 08:52 PM
I believe the RN's (RCN's) watch hours were slightly different than the USN's.

The RN split the dogwatch (4PM to 8PM) into two watches. The First Dog was 4-6PM and the Second Dog was 6-8PM.

I'm not sure if the USN did it this way.

Sorry -- my first reaction to the first and second dog thing was to look for Haggis in the thread!

I think one of the challenges I'm going to have is distinguishing the subtle differences between how the USN and the RCN did things, and watching the source of information to make sure I'm looking at the right one. I hadn't thought of that before, but now I'll know to watch for it... Thanks again.

I also found a second of 'my' destroyer -- what has to happen for a new boat to get an old boat's name? I assume there is a protocol for that, and would it be different from country to country?

jclarkdawe
04-29-2008, 10:52 PM
Once you get a good grasp of the facts, I'd see about finding some sailors from WW II or right after. In the US, we have the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and American Legion. Both hold frequent meetings and should have contacts for people to talk to.

Another source would be the Royal Canadian Navy museum (I'm sure there is one).

One movie with a lot of visual impact (although it is a submarine) is Das Boot (The Boat). If you can't get a feel for what it must have been like serving on a German submarine from that movie, there's no hope for you.

There are also a lot of movies based on WWII ships. Plus PBS has a series that is presently airing on Carriers.

One admiral said that the only difference between a ship and a prison is a ship is surrounded by water.

If you go with an enlisted man, remember he's not going to have much clue what's going on. Even the Petty Officers might not know that much.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe


Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

reigningcatsndogs
04-29-2008, 11:41 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, Jim. I was thinking buying a few rounds down at the Legion or at the ANAF would be a good plan. :D And thanks for the movie suggestions -- sometimes its hard to know which ones are accurate and which ones... aren't. I caught the last few minutes of Carrier last night, so will watch for it to come on as well.

tallus83
04-30-2008, 12:09 AM
The 4-8PM watch on RN ships is referred to as the Dog Watch.

The Naval History website will be a treasure trove of info for you.