1939 Naval Mission Out of Gloucester?

Jeanne Beckwith writes:

My name is Jeanne Beckwith. I’m a “working” playwright, which is a euphemism for a playwright who is not famous and not rich, but I have won awards and had productions from San Francisco to Istanbul. Right now, I am working on a play about Gloucester and a part of its history that is rather cloudy. I am hoping that someone in the “Good Morning Gloucester” audience might have heard something about this from their parents or grandparents? It was a long time ago, but maybe something like this has come up before.  

I have a strong attachment to Gloucester because my father met my mother while he was working out of Gloucester. He was in the Navy in 1939; his boat, under the guise of a commercial fishing vessel, was going out of Gloucester almost daily, and the crew spent their time “fishing” for German submarines that were patrolling the Atlantic.  The war had not officially started yet, and the German subs weren’t supposed to be there, but they were. Occasionally, the subs would surface and the German submariners would buy fish from my father’s boat.

To date I can’t find any documentation of any of this in Naval records. I do know that Gloucester was not the only place this was going on; undercover boats were going out on patrol all along the East Coast. But as far as the Navy is concerned, for a couple of years my father and the rest of his crew did not exist. I worry that maybe this is not a totally true story or I’m remembering it incorrectly, but I don’t think so. I can’t imagine my Dad lying, but he might have exaggerated.

If anyone out there knows anything about this “tale,” I would love to hear from you. I live in Vermont, and I haven’t been back to Gloucester since the world closed down, but I hope to make it back down soon to snoop around.  In the meantime, I will continue to write the play, reminding myself that, as a playwright, I can always just make stuff up—in fact, a sea serpent sighting will almost certainly be involved. Life goes on, and so will I. Thank you for your time and attention.


Jeanne Beckwith


3 thoughts on “1939 Naval Mission Out of Gloucester?

  1. Check with the Annisquam library. Years ago the Sea Fair had a “wax figure “ based on the idea that there were German subs in our waters.

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. There are submarine watchtowers all along the coast from WW2.
    But they are part of private homes nowadays.
    Have you contacted Historical Associations?


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