Navy Supply circa 1942

Discussion in 'History' started by Grape_Shot, Jul 29, 2007.

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  1. This is for all who have ever been frustrated with the supply system.

    The below letter was sent to the supply officer at Mare Island Naval Base near San Francisco in June 1942 by Lt. Commander James Wiggin Coe of the submarine USS Skipjack. Nearly a year earlier in July 1941, Commander Coe had requisitioned 150 rolls of toilet paper. The requisition was returned with a notation from the Supply Officer that the order had been cancelled because the requested material could not be identified.

    USS SKIPJACK SS184/LS/SS36-1June 11, 1942

    From: Commanding Officer
    To: Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California

    Subject: Toilet Paper

    Ref: (a) (4608) USS Holland (5148) USS SKIPJACK req 70-42 of 30 July 1941
    (b) SO NYMI cancelled invoice No. 272836

    Encl: (1) Sample of cancelled invoice
    (2) Sample of material required.

    1. This vessel submitted a requisition for 150 rolls of toilet paper on July 30, 1941, to USS HOLLAND. The material was ordered by HOLLAND from the Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, for delivery to USS SKIPJACK.

    2. The Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, on November 26, 1941, canceled Mare Island Invoice No. 272836 with the stamped notation "Cancelled — cannot identify." This cancelled invoice was received by SKIPJACK on June 10, 1942.

    3. During the 11-3/4 months elapsing from the time of ordering the toilet paper and the present date, USS SKIPJACK personnel, despite their best efforts to await delivery of the subject material, have been unable to wait on numerous occasions, and the situation is now quite acute, particularly during depth-charge attacks by the "back stabbers."

    4. Enclosure (2) is a sample of the desired materials provided for the information of the Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island. The Commanding Officer, USS SKIPJACK, cannot help but wonder what is being used at Mare Island in place of this unidentifiable material, once well known to this command.

    5. SKIPJACK personnel during this period have become accustomed to the use of "crests," i.e., the vast amount of incoming non-essential paper work, and in so doing feel that the wish of the Bureau of Ships for reduction of paper work is being complied with, thus killing two birds with one stone.

    6. It is believed by this command that the stamped notation "cannot identify" was possible error, and that this is simply a case of shortage of strategic war material, the SKIPJACK probably being low on the priority list.

    7. In order to cooperate in the war effort at a small local sacrifice, the SKIPJACK desires no further action be taken until the end of the current war, which has created a situation aptly described as "War is hell."

    J. W. Coe

    After dictating the letter, Lt. Cdr J. W. Coe, Commanding Officer of the USS SKIPJACK (SS-184) handed the letter to the Yeoman, telling him to type it up. Once typed and upon reflection, the Yeoman took it to the Executive Officer (XO), who shared it with the OD. The two proceeded to the CO's cabin and asked if he really wanted it sent. His reply, "I wrote it, didn't I?"

    By the time the infamous "toilet paper" letter reached Mare Island Supply Depot, the letter had been copied and was spreading throughout the fleet. As the boat came in from her next patrol, SKIPJACK's crew saw toilet-paper streamers blowing from the lights along the pier and pyramids of toilet paper stacked seven feet high on the dock. Two men were carrying a long dowel with toilet paper rolls on it with yards of paper streaming behind them as a band played coming up after the roll holders. Band members wore toilet paper neckties in place of their Navy neckerchiefs. The wind-section had toilet paper pushed up inside their instruments and when they blew, white streamers unfurled from trumpets and horns. As was the custom for returning boats to be greeted at the pier with cases of fresh fruit/veggies and ice cream, the SKIPJACK was first greeted thereafter with her own distinctive tribute-cartons and cartons of toilet paper.

    This letter became famous in submarine history books and eventually came to rest at the Navy Supply School at Pensacola, Florida. There, it still hangs on the wall under a banner that admonishes the students, "Don't let this happen to you!"
  2. Excellent, if it had been the RN some senior officer would have buried it and the boats CO.

  3. Loved it, especially the quote "War is Hell"! One of the early UK bombers issued each member of the crew with sleeping bag, pillow and 2 rolls of bog paper as they went "on crew", for the then customary 8 weeker. You'd be sure to find out who your oppos were by week 3 if you had a sensitive stomach. I believe this was "to save storage space"?
  4. Perhaps UKNCB would appreciate a copy of this, demonstrating the importance of the Codification of stores. They could never have claimed
    if SKIPJACK had demanded 8540 01 380 0690!
  5. Spookily enough toilet paper always had a vocab No (Victualling stores).
    I hate to say it but, they went hand in hand..

    Since it was a victualling item the RN supplied all 3 services with them (including the H blocks in N Ireland, and look what they did when the supply ran out) :tp:
  6. Remember this story dates back to the days when toilet paper was that shiny stuff that had 'Government Property' printed on it, and only submariners got the soft stuff because it worked better in the primitive toilet flushing arrangements they used to use.
  7. Used to be vocab 25361 - Paper, Soluble Latrine, and was allegedly for submarine use only. Couldn't get any in Faslane once "Sorry Jim, the Wrens block had the last lot".
  8. Did you go and try to get it back?
  9. Reminds of the time on an Airfield when the Panel Operator went for a dump and said " Anyone got any paper? And the reply was " FFS leave it there" :w00t:
  10. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    And when I trapped a young student, who still lived at home with her parents. We crashed out on the sofa downstairs and got down to business.

    However I needed to go to the toilet so before I got carried away I asked her where the bathroom was. She said that it was upstairs but that I should use the kitchen sink, so as not to disturb her Mum and Dad.

    You should have seen her face when I came back 5 minutes later, and asked if she had any toilet paper... :twisted:

  11. Good one "spb" lol , :thumright:

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