Timeline Work to Continue

I am on a roll here with the brief status updates, so I’ll also let the cat out that WordPress (the blog platform I am using) has finally fixed the bug about old dates. If you curiously looked at my blog post from 1945, you’ll see I was having trouble backdating posts that far. I wanted to post each journal entry, for example, from the date it originated.

The ultimate plan is to enter all of the journal entries and letters (I’ll go back and fix them) in the actual date they are from. This will allow me to put them all into a timeline that I can also add war context to (e.g., XYZ invasion, presidential speeches, etc.). It will make it easier and more interesting to browse.

It’s a big project, for sure, but it will be a life’s work.

Our Muster Roll and More!

In other news, I was also contacted by Jim Harlan, son of John Harlan, who served alongside my grandfather on the ship. He happened upon the YMS-299 muster roll I’d been searching for. I got my hands on dozens of pages from several roll calls. I am in the middle of transcribing them all and will begin posting pieces of them very soon so people may Google their family members’ names and find this site.

I am holding out a glimmer of hope that one or more of the soldiers on my ship are living. I know it isn’t very likely, but I have found another YMS sibling’s crew member who is living. It isn’t my ship, but I’d like to visit soon to ask questions about the ship that I was never able to ask my grandfather.

USS Rhea Wheel & Helm For Sale

I was recently contacted by Jim Howlett, another cadet out of Port Stanley. He informed me he ran across Rhea’s wheel for sale on a nautical antiques site:

Scruton Marine Services

Cool stuff! Of course, it is well overpriced, and I wouldn’t know what to do with such a large thing in my house, but it is a very neat find, nonetheless. I am curious how they validated the authenticity of it—and if it is truly WWII-era, or if it would have been replaced post-war. They have the YMS number wrong in their listing, which makes me wonder.

MV Rhea Almost Sinks In Harbour, 1972

This story was submitted by Vernon A.C. Mills, a cadet in post-war service aboard the ship. Thanks Vern!

Being the following incident has happened many years ago, I will try to be as accurate as possible. It would be best to keep in mind that at the time, I was only 15 years old, therefore everything seemed so critical and disastrous. In all honesty, I can’t remember if the winter of 1971–1972 was particularly bad or not, after that amount of time the best I can say is, “I’ve had a sleep since then” and winter is winter.

It was during the very early spring thaw that a fairly large log had floated downstream on the Talbot River through Port Stanley, Ontario and somehow managed to get jammed between the pier and port side of the ship. Due to the strong current of the river and high winds, the constant rocking and sway of the ship, a fairly large hole had been punched into the hull right at the water line on the port side slightly forward of amidships. I believe it was Lieutenant Harrington, who at the time was at his place of employment, had been notified that the Rhea was sitting low in the water and had a noticeable list. Read the rest of this entry »

Sorting Through Contributions

Taking a break from my grandfather CDP’s letters and such, I’ve been going through the photos and stories you have been sending me to contribute. I am very thankful for them! The last few posts are bits of that. I also have a post-war story from Vernon to review and post.

After posting the muster roll, out of curiosity, I Googled each of the names to contact a few genealogy hits and let them know about this site. Maybe it will lead to some other photos or war trinkets. I am also holding out hope that I run into someone who is still alive…but that window of opportunity is quickly vanishing.

Stay tuned!

YMS-135 Subclass Microfiche Blueprints

I somewhat crudely pieced together the partial scans of the ship’s blueprint. Here it is in totality, though the scans given to me where warped in places, so the measurements are likely not quite perfect. These came from copies of what appear to be microfiche film.

I plan to try and get my hands on better copies of these plans from the National Archives in the near future. Click through for as high of resolution as I have thus far.

YMS-135 Subclass; Blueprint

YMS-135 Subclass; Blueprint

YMS-304 3D Rendering & Microfiche Blueprints

I tracked down the source of a digital 3D model of the YMS-304 this week. The artist was gracious enough to give me a copy of the file, as well as copies of some blueprints for the YMS-135 subclass that came from the Naval archives!

I’d give personal credit to the artist, but I need to clarify if he would like me to, as the model was put together for a paid project. If I end up using it for anything commercial, I’ll have to get permissions.

So, what do I plan to do with such a great find?

Well, at the moment, not too much. The 3D model lets me pan and rotate the ship so I can get more intimate with its layout, but it is only an exterior model at the moment. I’m in the process of scheduling some Naval archive visits to get more blueprints, because I’d like to add more detail to the 3D model, then build out the interior for some digital walk-throughs. I can’t imagine how amazing it would be to virtually walk around inside of the ship, eventually even adding textures and materials to make it seem life-like. Time to sharpen up those rusty CAD skills!

Here is a quick screenshot of part of the model:
YMS-304 3D Rendering

YMS-304 3D Rendering

The YMS-304 is a near sibling of the YMS-299. Of the same subclass, the same blueprints were used in their manufacturing. The only differences between them would be minor in the construction process, as only YMS-299 to YMS-302 were built by the same builder.

Here is a sample portion from one of the blueprints:
YMS-135 Subclass; blueprint sample

YMS-135 Subclass; blueprint sample

Update: I added the full, stitched-together set of blueprints to this post.

Silent Defenders Patch/Logo/Insignia

I had trouble finding any good versions of the Silent Defenders logo, so I went ahead and recreated it in vector format. You may download it for your own use at the bottom of this post.

Silent Defenders patch logo

Silent Defenders patch logo


M.V. Rhea Tally Cap, Shoulder Flash and Stories

In correspondence with Vernon “Vern” A.C. Mills, he’s been giving me some more bits of information about the post-war doings of the ship as a cadet training facility. Among his saved trinkets are a cap tally (a band that would have been worn around a sailor’s hat) and a shoulder flash (patch). Thank you to Vern for sharing these!

M.V. Rhea cap tally (band) and shoulder flash (patch); 1970s

M.V. Rhea cap tally (band) and shoulder flash (patch); 1970s

Vern served on the ship in the 1970s, alongside Charles Donaldson, the other former cadet whom has sent me a great number of photos of the ship.

Vern also pitched in this humorous bit of information:

I just remembered something that will give you one hell of a good laugh. During my time on the Rhea, I always worked in the galley with another guy named Brian Shuart. It was Brian who got the rest of the crew and even the officers to call me, “Captain Heartburn”.  Oh yeah, my culinary skills have improved since then. (I think)


M.V. Rhea Cadet, Vern Mills

I’m here! I apologize for the delay in posts. The holidays were a whirlwind and I’m just getting back to going through the documents again.

I’ve been contacted by another post-war cadet from the 70s. I’ll see if he has anything great he’s willing to share with us. I’m particularly interested in the interior of the ship lately, only because I have no photos of it.

I recently found a blueprint for the ship, as well as a model-maker who does custom WWII ships. The model-maker has made sibling boats of the YMS-299, so I’d like to get my hands on a fairly accurate model of the ship with gun turret placement and all. That would help me paint a more clear picture of battle, when my grandfather talks about what gun he was using and where chaos was happening around him.

To Vern, I have a number of other documents/stories from Charles regarding the cadet service. I’ll work on getting them posted quickly for you.


After transcribing a few letters, I wanted to take a look at all of the stamps together. It turns out, I only have four unique stamps across the batch.

6 cents; Air Mail

6 cents; Air Mail

Read the rest of this entry »

Imperial Japanese Currency

Tucked into one of the letters home following the occupation of Okinawa, I found a wad of Imperial bills. They are pretty nifty, I must say.

Imperial Japanese currency (front); one

Imperial Japanese currency (front); one

Imperial Japanese currency (back); one

Imperial Japanese currency (back); one

Read the rest of this entry »

Another Photo and a Painting

These came from Chuck Donaldson as well.

Rhea 52 in Welland Canal, 1959

Rhea 52 in Welland Canal, 1959

More information on Welland Canal in Ontario: on Wikipedia

Rhea 52 painted by Chuck Donaldson's brother by memory in 1992. The dock was owned by the government of Canada and rent was $1 per year.

Rhea 52 painted by Chuck Donaldson’s brother Bob by memory in 1992. The dock was owned by the government of Canada and rent was $1 per year.

A Brief History of the USS Rhea (MSC(0)-52)

NOTE: This history was included in the packet of photos and stories from Chuck Donaldson. It is actually labeled as an appendix, but I’m not sure what it was an appendix to.

The U.S.S. RHEA was built by William F. Stone and Sons Company of Oakland, California. She was launched on 14 November 1942 with Mrs. Lester F. Stone of Almeda, California serving as sponsor.

The U.S.S. RHEA (AMS 52) was originally commissioned as the YMS 299 on 7 April 1942 with Lieutenant F.H. GENTRY USNR as the first Commanding Officer. This ship is a Wooden-hulled minesweeper with an overall length of 136 feet and a beam of 25 feet. Her displacement is about 300 tons, her draft nine feet. Two 500-Horsepower General Motors diesel engines turn her twin propellers for a maximum speed of about 15 knots. She is fully equipped with modern electronic devices including Radar, Sonar and Loran. One 40 millimeter and two 20 millimeter rapid fire anti-aircraft guns comprise the armament of this vessel. While this type of ship is very seaworthy, it is not unusual to experience rolls of from 45 to 50 degrees. The complement of the ship is four officers and 30 enlisted men. Read the rest of this entry »

YMS-299 Additional Photos

As a follow-up to the previous post (http://yms299.org/archives/35), I’ve been sent a handful of additional photos of YMS-299 in post-war service as a cadet-training ship in Canada. Photos provided by Charles “Chuck” Donaldson.

I’ll come back to this post and update with as much date/location info as I have for each.

Rhea 52

Rhea 52

Read the rest of this entry »