The ship was enroute to Singapore, Malaya on the 22nd of November
At Latitude 000 degrees 00 minutes (Equator), and Longitude 106 degrees
minutes East, an full day ceremony was put into operation by all the
Shellbacks, ( those sailors who had already experienced the initiation).
As a Polwog, I was
ordered by a written directive, to wear a white jumper turned inside
out, a white hat on the back of
my head, and a pair of cut-off dungarees. I was then assigned a
on the bow of the ship, which was underway, to be on the lookout for
About a half hour later I was approached by a Master-at-Arms, who
was out of uniform. He ordered me to follow him aft. At the
was accused of several other things and then directed to start through
various stages of initiation.
About the first thing I was ordered to do was to kiss the Royal
Chief Roatcap was sitting on a stool, wearing nothing but a pair of
On his fat belly was smeared a mixture of Worcester Shire Sauce,
Ketchup, Hot Pepper Sauce, Salt and Pepper. I was forced to kneel, and
tried to give him a peck, he grabbed my head and pulled it into that
mess. I arose gagging, coughing, spitting, and trying to clear my nose. The
4 events that followed I hardly remember, as my mouth and nose required
Thus I bacame a Shellback, but unfortunately I never had the
to reciprocate on someone else. However, the sickening smell and taste
"The Royal Belly" remains with me to this day.
Bill Bowles QMC US Navy Retired
Hal Boyer GM3 was also involved in the initiation on this day.
I was summoned early and given a directive to report to the bow of the
ship as "Ship's Artist" and assigned the task of creating a mural of the
day's activities. My attire for the day included a Japanese Robe; a
watch hat, dark glasses and sandals with a GI can lid as a palette and a
As I began painting I was immediately criticized for not using more
vivid colors. My paint pail was filled with sea water.
It was not long before I was approached by the Master-At -Arms and
escorted to the Quarterdeck. As all pollywogs I was read the charges of
my inability of not carrying out my courtly duties.
To mend my crimes I had to bow to the Royal Court and was ordered to my
knees before the Royal Baby. I too had a taste of that "awful" mess of a
concoction, as I kissed the belly. From there I do remember the
crawling, no running was allowed, as the deck was wet and slippery. I
was hosed down and swatted from behind as I made my way to the Royal
Barber where I experienced an obnoxious hair rinse and a gentle trim, my
beard was snipped. From there I recall a plunge in a tub of salt water
made from a canvas draped over some sort of support.
Wet, smelly but physically unscathed I made my way forward and was
permitted acceptance into the Royal Family of Neptune.
My official card, signed by our skipper appears at the head of this
column. It was a great experience. Unfortunately I never had the
opportunity to do another crossing.