Uncle Charles



As with the recent post of King Weasel’s German ancestors, I find it fascinating to connect one’s family tree with the events of the Great War. In my case, two Canadian first cousins twice removed fought with the CEF, but none of my immediate family participated in the conflict.

However, my great uncle was a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy during the war and graduated in 1921. As Ensign, he served aboard the USS Oklahoma, a Nevada Class Battleship. I have a handful of photographs from this period of his career, which may be of interest to some.

Below is the Oklahoma (BB-37). She was at “Battleship Row” during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and capsized after being struck by three torpedoes.


My uncle is at the extreme right in this photo. Note the uniform of Oklahoma’s Captain.


This snapshot appears to be contemporaneous with the above. Judging by the burned out turret behind my uncle, the crew must have been engaged in salvage operations.


Oklahoma’s scout plane: it appears to be a Nieuport 28.


My uncle in full dress uniform:


Posing with a sextant:


The following pictures were taken in 1920 during my uncle’s Annapolis days. Here he is, pictured with my grandfather during a visit home. As collectors, we know it was once the fashion for German boys to be attired in the uniform of their relations’ regiments. It would appear the tradition also existed in the United States.


A second photograph: the stone tablet in the background belonged to my family and has an interesting history of its own.




When my grandfather died in 2002 at age ninety-four, I acquired that white jumper he wore eighty-two years earlier. It represents a connection with the past that I value highly.


The USS New York (BB-34) was a New York Class Battleship. She was commissioned in 1914. Though New York survived the Second World War, her ultimate fate was nonetheless sobering. She served as a target during the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.

Petty Officer Second Class:


Cap Tally:


A tailor named Taylor:


The whole ensemble:




New member
Absolutely excellent article. I think it is great to have such documented family history. Later generations will appreciate it. Thanks and I love the site's new look.


Active member
I REALLY enjoyed that thanks.
Posing with a sextant:
You know they don't even teach this anymore at the academy. Sad and wrong I fear. I have a saying .... low tech works.


Hi Bill:

Being a Navy man yourself, did you take notice of the cap device in the Sextant photo? The eagle's head is oriented toward the wearer's left. This was regulation prior to 1941. My understanding of heraldry is that right is dexter (representing honor) and left is sinister (dishonor, illegitimacy). The eagle facing the wearer's right in the USN cap device would also look toward the sword arm.

Thank you all for the kind words.



Some of my dearest possesions are those of my grandfather's two photo albums of his service in the navy from 1931 through mid-1941. He started off with the battleship USS Pennsylvania (Pacific Fleet flag ship) until 1938 when he was transferred to the USS Asheville (PG-21), a naval gun boat patrolling the China seas (yes, just like Sandpebbles). Both the pictures are incrediblely interesting, but the second album concerning his China service is quite haunting to me. The multitude of b&w photos of that era and place are a great time capsule. But it's the photos of the sailors that get me. My grandfather was tranferred stateside in mid-1941, and served through WW2 and Korea and retired as a CBM. After Pearl Harbor, the Asheville was ordered to try to reach Austrailia but on March 3, 1942 the unescorted patrol boat had engine problems and was caught by two Jap destroyers 240 miles south of Java. The battle lasted a half hour and only one survivor of the 160 man crew was picked up (just to determine for intellegence what ship they had sunk). This sole survivor later died in a prison camp in 1945. I sometimes wonder if these are the only pictures of some of these men who undoubtedly died in 1942.



Hi Dave:

Your Asheville story is most disturbing. It must have been quite emotional for your grandfather. I suppose, in some sense, you owe part of your life to his transfer stateside.

I'd like to see those albums someday.