TALE OF A NAVY PEA COAT

Nancy brought in her father’s vintage navy pea coat hoping that we could restore it for her son Alex to wear. Below are some pictures of how it looked when we first received it.

Torn up inside lining before restoration

Torn up inside lining before restoration

Front and Back before restoration

Front and Back before restoration

As you can see it had definately seen better days.

George A. Love

George A. Love

George A. Love served in the Seabees in World War II and in the Navy in the Korean War.

In WWII, he was assigned to the Seabee Construction Battalion Maintenance
Unit No. 623 as a Machinist Mate Second class (MM2C).

Construction Battalion Maintence Unit 623

Construction Battalion
Maintence Unit 623

They were sent to Guiuan, Samar in the Leyte Gulf (Philippines) to build an airstrip and infrastructure.

They arrived on December 23, 1944 on a Dutch cargo ship, the M.S. Sommelsdikj.

The H.M.S. Sommelsdijk

The H.M.S. Sommelsdijk

On December 25, Tokyo Rose, a radio broadcaster of Japanese propaganda, promised the Navy boys a Christmas present.  On the morning of December 26, a Japanese plane appeared and dropped two torpedoes.  The plane then crashed into the sea when its wing tip caught the water.  One torpedo hit the ship in Hold #1 starting a fire which quickly spread to Hold #2 where most of the men were staying.  Since the ship was in a bay, the ship was purposely run aground and the men either swam to shore or were able to evacuate to another ship.  The unit was allowed to stay in the Church of the Immaculate Conception until a camp site could be built.  Many were wounded but only six men lost their lives in this attack.

Map

George safely returned from this war and went back to high school where he met
and married Nancy’s mother, Martha E. Cathey.
He was re-drafted to the Korean War and claimed this was a sightseeing tour compared to WWII.

George and Martha Love

George and Martha Love

When he returned home, he and my mother had three daughters.
He never spoke of his service to our country.

I don’t know why – possibly he thought his “girls” would not want to hear about it.

When Desert Storm began in 1990, he and I were watching it on TV and he started talking about his service.  I became fascinated and wanted to hear all about it to preserve his story.

His pea coat was passed down to 2 sisters, but passed Nancy. Nancy’s sister Cathey, found the pea coat in her closet and passed it on to Alex the younger of Nancy’s two sons. Alex is a history buff especially about World War II and Classic Rock (but that’s another story…).  By now the coat was beginning to show wear and tear.  The lining was deteriorating, the buttons kept falling off and it was dirty and musty.

I wondered if it could be restored.  I posted the question on social media and Oakwood Cleaners came highly recommended as being very good at restoring vintage wedding gowns.  I gave them a call, met with Rhonda and her seamstress and I am very happy to say the pea coat looks brand new.

Front and Back after restoration

Front and Back after restoration

Inside after restoration

Inside after restoration

Alex is beyond Proud to continue to wear his grandfather’s Navy Pea Coat in honor of not only his grandfather but of our military and the sacrifices made for our country

Alex wearing George's  Navy Pea Coat

Alex wearing George’s
Navy Pea Coat

Comments

  1. Job well done–on both the story and the repair of the Navy Pea Coat! By the way, I was the first and oldest sister to put wear and tear on the beloved Pea Coat!

  2. I came to this site while looking for information about the attack on M.S. Sommelsdijk in Dec. 1944.
    My uncle Davis S. Hill USNR was the officer commanding Construction Battalion Maint. Unit 512 which
    was also aboard the Dutch ship as were many U.S. Marine Corps reinforcements. Two of the dead and
    10 of those wounded in the attack were sailors of C.B.M.U. 512.

    Uncle Davis was a 45 year old Navy volunteer at the time of the action . He suffered a fatal heart attack
    in October 1968 in Baylor Stadium cheering his beloved Baylor Bears to a win over Texas A&M.

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