This week's item captures a moment in naval and local history and is all the more poignant given the fate of the vessel it features.
The naval cover - which seller mayfair99 describes as an envelope posted on board a Navy vessel - is postmarked in the evening of March 7, 1943. The recipient was one James Jeffery at the Harkness estate in Waterford. The cover includes an illustration of an eagle carrying a horseshoe, through which a submarine is churning. The picture is captioned, "U.S. Submarine Bonefish, launched by the Electric Boat Company, Groton, Conn."
The submarine was, in fact, launched the very day this envelope was sent. The keel of the Bonefish was laid down in June of 1942. The launch earned a quick blurb about the sponsor and expected commander. The vessel was commissioned for service on May 31, 1943.
New London has an admittedly tangential relationship to this item, especially since this envelope leapfrogged the city on its way to Waterford. But since New London was awfully generous in donating money toward the establishment of a naval base on the Thames River and putting up submariners in town, the place still bears the name Sub Base New London. That might be why the cruise of the Bonefish to the Pacific was recorded as starting in New London and ending in Brisbane, Australia.
The Bonefish completed a total of eight patrols. There are varying statistics as to the losses she inflicted on Japanese shipping, but this site puts the number at 31 sunk and seven damaged, mostly against the merchant fleet. On May 28, 1945, the Bonefish and two other submarines departed Guam. Bonefish rendezvoused with the submarine Tunny on the morning of June 18, set out for a submerged daytime patrol, and was never seen again.
Postwar records suggest that a Japanese depth charge attack destroyed the Bonefish. She had 85 officers and men on board at the time.
Information on James Jeffery is more difficult to track down, although the Harkness estate is more well-known. According to the state website, millionaire and philanthropist Edward S. Harkness purchased the mansion in 1907. Seven years after this naval cover was sent to the estate, the mansion and its surrounding property were bequeathed to the state; they have been part of the Connecticut state park system since 1952.
The naval cover has an $8 starting bid and free shipping. The auction ends at about 9:45 a.m. on Thursday.