I have been getting a better response to my Privy Trivia stuff than the family history stuff. I'm not sure what that says about the intellectual level of my family but it has encouraged me to expand the effort. I will call this one "There are no privies on troopships."
It appears that the majority of my cousins who are veterans were Army Air Corps or Air Force types thus have no experience with troopships. It also appears that those currently serving are either Air Force types or fly to deployments. Likewise those of you who have never been in the military probably have never even given the matter of dealing with nature's calls while at sea any consideration whatsoever. So on behalf of brother Dick (86th Infantry Division) and myself (Army Engineers), who spent weeks on troopships on both the Atlantic and Pacific, I will enlighten you:
There are four givens when discussing this subject: 1) A troopship with hundreds or thousands of soldiers on board can't provide privacy. 2) It all goes into the ocean. 3) Everybody who gets seasick cannot get on deck to the rail to heave over the side. 4) in contrast to family privies which are usually two-holers or three-holers troopships have to have hundreds of holes (seats) in multiple facilities on several decks.
The "Head" (that's what the Navy calls it) usually consists of a great, long trough with sea water continuously running through it. The sea water is sucked in on one side of the ship and runs out a hole on the other side carrying with it everything which falls into the trough. Naturally, since ships can roll from side to side, there is a certain amount of sloshing back and forth. Over the trough are the seats in a great, long row with a continuous parade of soldiers in, down, sit a while (usually smoking), up and out. Most of them silently going about their business but inevitably there are some chatterers. The language, as always with soldiers, laced with four letter words. Sometimes to relieve the boredom some practical joker will pull a stunt like wadding up some paper and setting it on fire and dropping it in the trough. The current will carry the burning paper down the line but nobody panics. They might curse the joker but they just rise and let it pass under (kind of looks like "the wave" in a football stadium).
Emailed Sept. 11
Here is a Privy Trivia response from Don Thayer recounting his tough trip on a troopship. I expect to hear from his brother Rod about his trip on a troopship from an Enlisted Man's point of view.
Jim, I will have you know that I, in the AF had to take a troop ship to and from Japan. Of course being an Officer we sat at tables with linen and were waited on like in a fine dinning room, and only had to sleep 3 high on bunk beds, unlike GI's. We even got a Dixie land band to play at a program on the fantail which is one of the high lites of my life. No work just an enjoyable cruise. It pays to be important in the military unlike my dogface Bro Pudge. When Pudge came home from Okinawa the ship stopped in Tokio and I got him off for a few days. He asked me to get him off of KP on the trip. So being in the Medics I had a Doc I knew wrap his arm in a cast and that did it. Lucky for him I was such a good Bro altho he has never thanked me that I can remember. CUZ DON