USS Denebola (AD-12)
History and Pictures from World War Two
Memoirs of Milton W. Sherman
By Stephen Sherman, April, 2010. Updated February 16, 2012.
The USS Denebola (AD-12) was a destroyer tender in the US Navy. My father, Milton W. Sherman, served on her in World War Two, including cruises across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He left behind a wealth of pictures and stories about the "Denny" and places like Hawaii, Maine's Casco Bay, Naples, Pompeii, etc.. This web page is mainly a link to different parts of the story.
Chronological History of the Denebola - probably the driest, least interesting page here, but useful for "just the facts, ma'am".
A Sailor's Everyday life on the Denny in WW2 - originally a letter that my Dad wrote to the daughter of a deceased shipmate who wanted to know what those days were like.
Destroyer Tenders - a brief page about the type of ship.
The Denebola's cruise to the Mediterranean - stories about crossing the Atlantic and impressions of Algeria, Naples, Pompeii, Cagliari, and Toulon. Only a few samples pictures are on this page.
Picture and Vintage Postcard Pages - The Mediterranean
The following pages feature about 20 pictures from each of these destinations:
Photo Pages - The Pacific
Minor Incidents and Details of Naval Life
The Breeches Buoy - how to get from one ship to another without a boat
Guard Mail - the duties and perils of being a Guard Mail Petty Officer
Steamboats of Casco Bay - the small wooden ferries of the era
LCDR Trainer and WO Crapeau - one of my Dad's favorite stories of his Navy days.
Lieutenant Commander Robert B. Trainer certainly was a fine man. In my Dad's correspondence is a hand-written letter from Mr. Trainer, dated 1990, in which he wrote, "Dear Mr. Sherman, I was most impressed, and I must say, touched, to have heard from you after 45 years. I do, of course, remember the incident of your troubles with Crepeau and was glad to have been of help in straightening them out How long ago it seems now." By this gracious reply (45 years later!), I can see that my Dad's high estimation of Mr. Trainer's character was entirely accurate. Read the whole story
Rates and Ratings
US Navy enlisted personnel have a system of "rates" and "ratings," that is confusing to the uninitiated. And the terse abbreviations make it worse. Briefly, a "rate" is the rank: 3rd Class Petty Officer, 2nd Class Petty Officer, 1st Class Petty Officer and Chief Petty Officer; these NCOs are equivalent to Army Sergeants. Below these are "unrated men," Seaman Recruit, Seaman Apprentice, Seaman, equivalent to Privates and Corporals. All this is simple enough.
The confusing part is the Navy's practice of incorporating a sailor's technical specialty, i.e. his "rating," into his title. Thus my father, for most of his naval career was a Third Class (Petty Officer); that was his "rate." His "rating" was Machinist Mate. So, he was ordinarily referred to as a "Machinist Mate, Third Class." This was abbreviated "MM/3." In these stories, you will come across various references to these, such as "Cekander Y/1," i.e. "Mr. Cekander, Yeoman First Class."
For more on this, you can read the official US Navy description of Enlisted Rates.
Memoirs and photographs of Milton W. Sherman (1919-2010). He served in the U.S. Navy during WW2, on board the USS Denebola, AD-12, when he was in mid-twenties. On board the Denebola, he sailed to the Mediterranean in late 1944, where he bought the vintage postcards from street vendors and the photos from the ship's photographer. He also sailed to the Pacific in 1945. In the early 1990s, he was active in the Denebola's reunion association, and contributed many articles to their newsletter, "Tender Topics."