Cavalla Crew Interview

Joe Bellinghiere

Joe Bellinghiere, Seaman 1st class, torpedoman striker. (Sometime between 1/1/43 and 7/1/44).       I enlisted in the Navy in Omaha, Nebraska, on 30 September 1942, at the age of 20. After boot camp and torpedo school (both at San Diego), I was shipped out to New Hebrides where I joined the destroyer Wilson as a Seaman 1st class on 28 March 1943. I was transferred from the ship at Auckland, New Zealand, on 30 June 1943. Having applied for sub school--mainly as a way to get back home--I was ordered to New London, where I reported on 15 August 1943. I graduated on 1 January 1944, and was assigned to the Cavalla. I missed the commissioning party on 18 February because I was back in Omaha getting married! When I returned to New London, I noticed that most of the guys were bringing their wives, and having spent only 3 days with mine, I wanted to bring her out so we could be together for whatever time remained. So I talked to Captain Kossler, and said, "Captain, I just got married and I'm anxious to bring my wife out here." Kossler replied, "I can't tell you when we're leaving, but I can advise you not to bring her out." She stayed in Omaha. I was on board when Cavalla was commissioned.
Sub School, New London: One of the chief petty officers in charge of instructing the students at sub school took a dislike to my non-regulation boots. "Where did you get those boots?" he demanded. I replied: "Off a dead Marine at Guadalcanal. Where were you?" [I had been on Guadalcanal--but not during any of the battles.]  
Joe Bellinghiere, with submarine combat pin. (Sometime after Cavalla's first patrol, which ended 8/3/44. And sometime before he grew his moustache, which he's had ever since.)

Torpedoman 2nd class, celebrating
the end of the war in San Francisco,
September 1945.
  The Cavalla crew was a little nervous about the journey to Panama: the submarine Dorado, also built by the Electric Boat Company, had departed New London the previous October on her maiden voyage and been sunk en route to Panama.

A notice was posted in the submarine that a volunteer was needed to wash the crew's clothes. Each man, including the Captain, paid in $1 per month. No one wanted the job, but I saw an opportunity to make $65 a month without a lot of extra work (everyone wore shorts and sandals, at least when we got to the South Pacific), and the clothes were dried by putting them on the engines.


November 1998 ~ All photos courtesy of Dr. Bellinghiere virtue of Stephen Ford

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