Souvenir paperweight cast from salvaged bronze from UB88. This paperweight belonged to Glenn R. Rollins, whose father was a Chief Torpedoman on a submarine at San Pedro, California in 1920. Each paperweight weighs about 8 oz. and is 5.5" long. "U.B.88." is stamped into both sides of the bow.
Hotel Virginia, Long Beach, California. The farewell ball for the departing San Pedro Submarine Base Commander Chauncey Shackford and his wife was held here on May 27, 1921. Over four thousand miniature UB88 submarines were struck off for the occasion.
Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1921
FOR BASE COMMANDER
Dance Will be Given in Honor of Capt. and Mrs. Shackford.
The officers and men of submarine division 6, Submarine Base, Los Angeles Harbor, will give a dance tomorrow night in honor of Capt. and Mrs. Chauncey Shackford. Capt. Shackford soon will be relieved as commander of the base. The dance will be held at 8 o'clock at Hotel Virginia, Long Beach. Five thousand invitations have been issued.
Each person attending will be presented with a novel souvenir, a miniature submarine in brass and bronze suitable for a desk or mantel ornament. These souvenirs were struck off for the occasion exclusively of metal from the UB88, one of the German submarines alloted to the United States after the World War. The metal was taken from the UB 88 before she was sunk in target practice off this port.
Los Angeles Times, May 28, 1921
THOUSANDS ATTEND SHACKFORD FAREWELL
LONG BEACH, May 27. Honoring Capt. and Mrs. Chauncey Shackford, a farewell ball was given tonight by officers and enlisted men of the Submarine Base at Hotel Virginia. It was one of the most brilliant affairs of the season in Long Beach. The grand salon of the hotel was turned into a California garden by the profuse employment of sprays of lavender and yellow immortelles. Four thousand invitations were issued.
A realistic-appearing submarine was anchored in the grass plot just east of the hotel, fully equipped with radio apparatus. As the guests arrived they were greeted with a wireless welcome; as they departed they were given a radio farewell. Three regulation Bliss Leavitt torpedoes with practice heads flanked each side of the entrance to the portico. The favors were miniature submarines made from metal taken when the German UB88 was dismantled. The committee of arrangements included Chief Master-at-Arms Bert Ornberg, chairman; Lieut. Leon O. Alfred, Lieut. Tulley Shelly, Chief Yeoman W.S. Hawes, Chief Gunner's Mate G.W. Coppedge, Chief Boatswain's Mate E.J. Sharon, Chief Commissary Steward W.L. Boyd, Chief Gunner's Mate W.B. Rawlins, Chief Commissary Steward W.G. Moore, Chief Electrician C.A. Gardner, Chief Quartermaster J. Oliver, Chief Printer Walter M. Thorton, Chief Machinist's Mate W. Williamson, Chief Special Mechanic J. Tom Hickey, Chief Electrician McG. L. Shickle and Boatswain's Mate H. Mirino.
Additional research was provided by Steve Lawson.
Gunners Mate G.W. Raymond, Engineer UB88, poses next to the port propeller and rudders while in the floating Navy dry dock in New Orleans, LA. Photo from the Virginia Foote collection.
Popular belief was that the miniature submarines were cast from the propellers of UB88. We now know that this wasn't true. Further research has revealed that the propellers from UB88 were to be presented to the City of Los Angeles for display in Plaza Park at Los Angeles Harbor. This would never occur however, as the propellers were stolen from the submarine base warehouse on April 25, 1923, nearly two years after the Shackford event. Naval personnel were arrested a few months later in connection with the theft. The current whereabouts of the propellers is unknown.
Submarine Base and warehouse, San Pedro, California
Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1923
Propellers Off German U-Boat Stolen at Port
Souvenir hunting, a prevalent disease in the A E F, still persists in the system of someone in Los Angeles Harbor, according to Commander Eric Barr of the Submarine Base.
Two bronze propellers which drove the German submarine UB88 on her raids through the Atlantic were stolen from the warehouse at the local base early Wednesday, Mr. Barr reported to the port police. The propellers were removed from the U-boat just before she was sunk by Navy gunfire off Los Angeles Harbor in April 1920, and were to have been presented to the city of Los Angeles for station in Plaza Park at the harbor. Their market value as old bronze is $400.
Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1923
Arrest Three as Navy Theft Ring Plotters
What is believed to have been a scheme to dispose of large quantities of material at Los Angeles Harbor naval base was checked yesterday by the arrest of three men. Walter Brooks and O.L. Martin were arrested by Detective Lieutenants Allen and Graf, and E.E. Reeder, chief petty officer on the submarine S-3, was arrested at Mare Island, San Francisco.
Detectives said that ten 100-foot lengths of ninety-one-strand copper wire already had been sold to the value of $4000, and that two 1500-pound propellers, taken from German submarines, had been removed for sale.
The investigation, which has been underway for several weeks, is said to have implicated several petty officers and other employees at the naval base. More arrests are expected.
This photograph was taken in the forward torpedo room of UB88. This is the upper tube, starboard side. UB88 had a total of five 20" torpedo tubes. Four located in the bow and one in the stern. These were constructed of bronze. Length of tubes from door to bulkhead 9' 1".
Lt. Cmdr. J.L. Nielson made the following notation regarding the interior condition of UB88.
"The interior arrangement of the UB88 is exceedingly poor. This is probably accounted for by the fact that these boats were built in a hurry and were only intended for the duration of the war. The lack of copper and brass is apparent and much of the piping is rapidly going to pieces. This is especially true of the circulating water piping on the main engines and the high pressure air lines."
Based on this account, and the fact that the propellers were stolen after the farewell ball, we believe that the torpedo tubes and doors were the likely source of the 1-ton of bronze required to construct the miniature UB88 submarines.
This 3-frame photomosaic of the forward torpedo room shows where the upper tubes were once attached. The torpedo tubes were removed during the dismantling process in San Pedro, California, 1920. Video frames by John Walker.
Fred Colburn's UB88 souvenir submarine mounted for presentation.