denebola in naples

USS Denebola page

Naples, Italy

Travels and Sightseeing

Photographs taken by US Navy sailors in WW2

By , April, 2010. Updated March 21, 2012.

Naples and much of Italy suffered greatly in WW2. When my father traveled there with the US Navy in 1944 aboard the USS Denebola, Naples was wholly impoverished, but the monuments, churches, and nearby Pompeii still attracted the sailors on sightseeing trips. His memoirs, which we pick up here, reflect the terrible conditions of the time.

Naples, a large city and port in southern Italy is where we stayed for the longest time, five or six weeks. Some of our memories of Naples include:

- The hordes of people coming and going along Via Roma. The incredible variety of military uniforms from all over the world, to be seen on Via Roma, the main drag of Naples.

- The feeding of the kids on the jetty with left over food from the mess tables. The word came down from on high to knock it off.

- The sight of Mt. Vesuvius with its ever-present wisp of smoke, across the bay of Naples.

- The finding of the crates full of U.S.Navy Recognition Manuals (restricted) in one of the caves in the jetty. The officer of the deck was entirely unconcerned.

- The total lack of food in public places. Sometimes we saw the bloody carcass of a skinned and gutted scrawny animal being wheeled through the street on a cart.

- Being suddenly startled by the sight of an apparently dead kid in another of the jetty's caves. He was only asleep, probably no home, no parents, no food, no anything.

- The sight of a small boy being knocked over by a fast backing U.S. jeep in the Palazzo di Citta in front of the Nuova Posta Centrale. The jeep roared off and the excited and squabbling friends of the kid hauled him away.

- The elderly English speaking Italian man we met at the Stazzione Verazzano Ferrovia (Verazzano Railway Station). He was so very proud that he had, for many years, lived in New York city. He sagely told us, "They say the war will soon be over and you get to go home and I getta da square meal."

- Arriving by jeep in an outlying part of the city where we entered a large square that was dominated by a huge sign proclaiming "dangerous type of VD in this area."

- The ride to Pozzuoli, Sophia Loren's hometown; where she was a starving kid at that time, on another "Toonerville Trolley," and the U.S. soldier that sat opposite that had with him a girl; a girl that impelled the soldier to agree that she wasn't much to look at but "What the hell, she's a girl."

- The kids again this time back to the jetty. They were using a long handled net with one flat side on the rim. They were scraping this along the side of the jetty and bringing up from the indescribably filthy water small wriggling, black creatures that we took to be live bait. In response to our sign language inquiry as to their use, one kid promptly bit one in half and chewed it up, while our stomachs looped.

- The easing in or out of the harbor of some remnants of the Italian Navy. Ships with classic and and tongue-twisting names like, "Raimondo Montecuccioli" or "Luigi de Savoia Duca degli Abruzzi." They named their ships after their heroes; that pair is probably the John Hancock and Sam Adams of Italy.

Old Postcards

click to enlarge
new post office Napoli - Nueva Posta Centrale e Palazzo di Citta (New Central Post Office and City Hall), Piazza Matteotti
Castle San Elmo and Piazza Municipio, Naples Castel Sant'Elmo vista da Piazza Municipio (Saint Elmo Castle and Municipal Plaza)

Sant'Elmo is the name of both a hill and a fortress in Naples, located near the Certosa di San Martino. Together, the structures overlook Naples and are the most visible landmarks in the city. The name "Sant'Elmo" is from an old 10th-century church, Sant'Erasmo, that name being shortened to "Ermo" and, finally, "Elmo".

Palazzo Reale, Naples

Palazzo Reale with Mount Vesuvius in background, and Piazza del Plebiscito in foreground

Castello Angiono (Anjou Castle), Naples

Castello Angiono (Anjou Castle), with Stazione Marittima in background

Castel Nuovo, often called Maschio Angioino, is a castle in the city of Naples, southern Italy. It is the main symbol of the architecture of the city. Castel Nuovo has been expanded or renovated several times since it was first begun in 1279.

Panorama of Naples Panorama of Naples with Mount Vesuvius in background
Via Caracciolo, Naples Via Caracciolo
San martino, Naples San Martino
Nisida island, Naples

view of Nisida

Nisida is a volcanic islet lying at a very short distance from Cape Posillipo, just north of Naples; it is now connected to the mainland by a stone bridge.

New Maritime Station, Naples New Maritime Station


Dates Obtained, sign in wartime Naples "Dates Obtained," sign in wartime Naples
Denebola tied up in Naples harbor Denebola tied up in Naples harbor
Naples street scene, 1944 Naples street scene
Naples street scene, 1944

another Naples street scene


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 Naples in late 1944, where he bought these vintage postcards from street vendors and the photos from the ship's photographer. You might enjoy reading a fuller version of his travels in the Denebola.