Papers (1939-1943) include mainly correspondence from a U.S. naval officer describing life on the minesweeper USS YMS-62 (1942-1943) during World War II while stationed in New Oleans and Burwood in Louisiana, at sea, and in Algeria. Lieutenant Commander Brown also records his impressions of Algeria in these letters.
Harold V. Brown ("Brownie"), originally from St. Joseph, Mich., served in the pre-war Navy on the Great Lakes. During World War II, Brown commanded the auxiliary motor minesweeper, USS YMS-62 (1942-1943). During this command Brown was promoted and was stationed in Louisiana and Algeria.
The collection consists mainly of letters written by Brown to Mrs. Thelma Thompson, in Key West, Fla. However, correspondence to Mrs. Thompson from relatives discusses Godfrey Thompson's death and their Christian Science faith (12 January 1940). The bulk of the correspondence is comprised of Brown's letters from New Orleans and Burwood, La., letters written at sea, and from Algeria.
Specific topics discussed while in Louisiana include movies such as "King's Row," "Hitler's Children," "Mrs. Miniver," and "Broadway" (November 1942-February 1943); softball games with other sailors (22-26 February 1943); playing the music of Kay Kaiser (22 February 1943); an American Legion troupe of girls and young women sent to entertain the sailors and attend a dance (28 February 1943); and a local delicacy, the "poor-boy" sandwich (22 February 1943). Throughout the correspondence, Brown mentions reading, playing cards, ship cleaning chores, paperwork, boredom, and much "standing by" that occupied the crew's time.
Correspondence written while en route to Norfolk, Va., concerns a "northeaster" off Miami, Fla., and horrible weather off Cape Hatteras, N.C. (March 1943, undated). Once in Algeria, letters (4-9 May 1943) detail the haggard condition of the native people and that they are dressed in rags; Brown's impression that the buildings, waterfront, and people are what he expected; the beauty of the countryside; the lack of whiskey and beer; rotten native wine that is like "dynamite;" and German and Italian prisoners of war and their poor condition. Also mentioned are Brown's promotion (7 May 1943), receiving pay in Frenchfrancs (22 May 1943), and Brown's extra duties as the Senior Officer Present Afloat (SOPA, 6 June 1943). At times throughout the correspondence, Brown mentions people he encounters that he knew previously, either in training or before the war, even a young man that served with him on the Great Lakes (6 June 1943).
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