In many of the WWII crew photographs you will see certain crew members of the group wearing a rather odd-looking belt around their waist, such as highlighted in the photograph below. These “belts” are M26 life preservers. Crew members were required to wear their life preserver whenever they were “on-duty” or “on-watch.”
Correct position was at chest-level and around under the arm pits, however the belts rarely stayed up at chest level and were more comfortably worn at the waist. However, inflating the belt at waist-level put the wearer at greater risk of drowning.
Apparently the CO2 canisters were easy to set off, and many of the crew would take the canisters out of their belt so that they wouldn’t be victim of pranksters and “accidental” inflation. The belts could still be manually inflated by blowing up the two bladders via two long black tubes.
Here is a link at WarRelics.eu with additional information, and a close-up view of these life belts.
The photographs below show the Calvert’s medical corpsmen and medical staff in either 1) November 1943 shortly before the invasion of Makin, or 2) June/July 1944 around the time of the invasion of Saipan.
Many thanks to Robert McClellan for providing the first photograph from his father’s collection. His father, H.W. “Mack” McClellan is kneeling in front of the crew member wearing the black coat.
In the above photograph you can also see parts of the Calvert’s mine-sweeping equipment and rigging, including two paravanes, cradles (holding the torpedo-shaped paravanes) and the sweeping boom (horizontal boom).
This second photograph shows the same group of men, along with additional members of the Calvert’s medical crew. This photograph was provided by Eric Hook (USAF), whose grandfather William J. Hook was a surgeon aboard the Calvert ’43-’46.
Please contact me if you happen to know the names of any of the other crew members pictured here.
- 2014-04-05 – Edited to improve the post and to add cross-links.
- 2014-08-02 – Corrected date of photographs from summer 1944 to November 1943 based on information from other crew members and families of corpsmen who served after this photograph was taken. Added Dr. Valcik’s name to the photograph.
- 2015-02-05 – Changed possible timeframe to either 1943 or 1944 based on additional information and the addition of Jacob A.S. Fisher’s name to both photographs.