DD 361 (Porter class)
We are seeking information on the USS Clark and her crews. Files and photos may be emailed to us and we will incorporate them into this page.
Subject: CHARLES NOBLE
The other evening while surfing the net with no objective in mind except to avoid pornography and meandering my way through disparate topics such as; Devil's Island, great operatic arias, Admunson's polar expedition, Janus words, I hit upon Naval traditions. Most old sailors are familiar with with traditions like; keelhaul, binnacle list, smoking lamp clamp down weather decks, scuttebut, side boys, holystone and Charles Noble. That last one brought back some war time memories. Chares Noble is the name given to ships galley smoke stacks. Modern ships galleys are all electric which eliminates the need for stacks. The galley of the first destroyer I served o was diesel and electric, The stack, a 9 inch pipe, emerged from the galley bulkhead, ran up the side of one of the ships main smoke stacks to carry away galley smoke. At eye level a brass plaque with engraved letters that simply read "Charles Noble" was riveted to the stack. The plaque was painted wartime gray like the ship. Most of the officers and crew who a year earlier were civilians or students had no clue what the name Charles Noble signified. The Captain and the XO were the only officers with any experience on theship, who knew that Charles Noble was the name given to ships galley smoke stacks. Also, that it was the ships cooks duty to keep them polished.
I convinced the XO that a 7X9 inch shining brass plaque would not give the ships position away on the high seas to the enemy. The wartime paint was scraped off and the brass restored to a bright shine. The cooks took pride in keeping it polished, although they didn't have to work unduly hard to do so. The tablet was located close by where the crew formed the chow line. As each sailor progressed down the line, he would give it a rub and perhaps make a silent wish for an interesting menu.
I learned from the Internet that the Charles Noble tradition started in 1850 when Charles Noble a British sea captain discovered the galley smoke pipe was made of copper. He ordered the cooks to keep it polished. The crew then dubbed it the Charlie Noble. With the wars sudden end our ship was ordered to the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard to be scrapped. The Navy was left burdened with dozens of surplus destroyers. Our ship had not received any modernization during the war, therefore it was ordered scraped and "Stricken from the records." The quick end to hostilities caused the Navy to lose personnel so fast that it had difficulty in manning the ships that remained in service. I received orders to another destroyer upon arrival in the yard. I ordered the Chief Machinist Mate to chisel Charlie Noble off the pipe. Charlie would make a nice memento of my wartime service. The next morning the Chief knocked on my cabin door and sounded off,"some SOB chipped the GD plaque off the stack. There's nothing left but empty rivet holes.
A half century later, a sharp crewman and his wife,who had done a lot of research, organizing, and communicating, announced the first USS Clark ships crew reunion. During the three days of reunion festivities, a feisty little guy that I remembered as Shorty Cobb, came up to me and said," I have somethig I want to give you." He pulled the plaque out of a shopping bag. It had been nicely mounted on a mahogany board, and on an attached brass strip was engraved."From Galley Stack--US CLARK" I asked Shorty how he got the plaque. His story. If you remember when the ship went into the yard for scrapping we were ordered to remove and account for all ships equipment before sending it to warehouses ashore. Those dammed yardbirds (civilian shipyard workers) were stealing everything they could carry off the ship; tools, brass, crockery, silverware, etc. I beat them to Charlie Noble by chiselling him off the stack one night. The next day I learned the Chief was maddern Hell because he had been ordered to liberate Charlie for you but I beat him to it. I kept my mouth shut because I was scheduled for discharge in a couple of weeks, and I didn't want anything to interfere with my separation.
I asked Shorty about the large Builder's brass plaque mounted on the quarterdeck. "I got that one too, but it's too heavy to carry across country to our reunion." "How about the ships bell? There was a lot of brass in that." He said he helped remove the bell but t was done legitimately and turned over to the US Naval Museum, Washington Navy Yard.
Amazingly,I didn't really care to accept the plaque. I told Shorty that since he saved it from the (dammed yardbirds) and had taken such good care of it for a half century he should keep it. Again he insisted I take it. Then I had a bright idea, give it back to the Navy. I called the PR Officer at the Nval Training Center and told him what we had. The next day at the Naval Training Center Museum, a bunch of old shipmates gathered to witness a simple ceremony for the return of the plaque to its rightful owner. A Navy journalist taped Shorty's story which he wasn't hesitant to relate in detail, particularly the part how he kept those yardbirds form getting their dirty mits on "Our Charlie." Shorty was discreet however. He omitted mentioning how he also kept me from getting my mits on Charlie Noble.
|DD 361 -||- DD 361|