Common experience on the Bream led to lifelong friendships that expanded to include wives and some of the children. The reunions started in 1982 — after the intense years of child-rearing were mostly over. In the intervening years, they’ve been held all over, including a return trip to Perth Australia, the Bream’s service port during the war.
There is a ship’s history about 9 pages long pulled together by several members of the crew. I have a copy with a cover letter written by one of the officers, ‘Red’ Hallinan, addressed “To the younger generation”. I was given permission to read the first paragraph out loud before the memorial service started:
This is a brief history of a fleet type submarine during World War II. It sounds exciting and it was. However with all this excitement, glamour, and adventure a lot of innocent people got killed. War is not an acceptable method of solving our problems. There has to be a better way.
Thank you, Red.
I thought this reunion was particularly interesting because although started on the basis of shared experience in a time of great danger — the submarine’s history is full of depth charges and fires and landing people in enemy territory — it expanded to include the people who weren’t there. Stories told during the reunion included stories of the wives and sweethearts back home. For example, a nurse in Perth told how much she and her fellow nurses enjoyed visits by the subs because they got taken out to dinner — a nice break from their normal fare of rabbit or tripe in cream sauce.