In December, 1919, the chasers that had been assigned to help clear the North Sea minefields were back in New York. More than a year had passed since the signing of the Armistice, and finally the last chaser crews were preparing for the decommissioning of the boats. The remaining gear on deck was dismantled and turned in, the engines were dismantled, and anything military in nature removed from the chasers.
For the chaser officers and crews, this marked an end to a short yet highly memorable tour of duty. In later years many of them would gather for reunions. They would tell their stories in person and in books and articles. The American Legion post for subchaser crewman printed The Log, a newsletter filled with stories and anecdotes. Copies are scarce, but some were saved and have been found in the collections of chaser men. A particularly useful feature of The Sub-Chaser Post newsletter is the list of members of the organization. For some chasers, the lists of men who joined the post are the only crew lists I can find.
This brings me to my current book project, and a call for sources: I'm working on collecting the photos, stories, and crew lists for every chaser that served overseas in WWI. I'm envisioning a compilation that will be partly picture book, taking a look at the boats and the crews of each unit of chasers that crossed the Atlantic ocean, 133 chasers in all; but also partly a reference work, listing hunt information and the names of those who served on each boat.
For the past couple of decades I've collected resources on chasers: muster rolls, photos, articles, memoirs ... My office is packed with them. I've been to the National Archives in D.C. any number of times, and have, I think, looked at every folder related to chasers in WWI. I've taken digitals of all the muster rolls in the collection, and all the attack reports; I've reviewed many of the deck logs that were saved, etc. And still, as I've started the sorting and filtering, I can see that there are gaps.
My request to everyone on the email list and anyone finding this on the website: If you have any of the following (and haven't already sent them to me), I'd like to see them:
Crew lists or muster rolls from any WWI subchaser.
Diaries or other written accounts of subchaser crewmen.
Photos of the chasers or chaser crews, either captioned or with a visible hull number.
Memoirs written by crewmen who served overseas on a U.S. submarine chaser in or directly after WWI.
Stories, articles, or photos of post-war use of WWI chasers
If you're not sure if the material is useful (or can't remember if you sent something already), please feel free to contact me at email@example.com -- and note that I always respond to legitimate emails. If you don't receive a response within a few days, it means I didn't get the note. Please contact me again, either via email or using the contact form on the website.
Thank you, and best wishes for 2020!
Todd Woofenden, editor