Saturday, September 13, 2014

Imperium Neptuni Regis: Shellback Certificate

The ceremony of "Crossing the Line" (the "Line" being the Equator) has been a part of Naval culture in many a country's military maritime practice for the last 200 years or more. This rite is commemorated with several initiation "exercises" and a certificate usually featuring King Neptune, mermaids and other sea-life.

The certificate below was given to my husband George's uncle and namesake, George Wallace Kitzmiller, who served with the U.S. Navy during World War II. Around the border of the certificate are mermaids riding large fish, mermaids in whirlpools, and various other small sea creatures. The central large illustration features King Neptune with his trident flanked by four hippocampus. The large banner reading Imperium Neptuni Regis, translates to "The Empire of King Neptune."

(Click on image to enlarge)

Shellback Certificate, U.S. Navy, George W. Kitzmiller, 1944.

The text on the certificate reads:

To all sailors wherever ye may be: and to all Mermaids, Whales, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Dolphins, Eels, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters, and all other Living Things of the Sea GREETING Know ye That on this 29th day of December 1944, in Latitude 00000 and Longitude ____ there appeared within Our Royal Domain the USS Earl V. Johnson bound south for the Equator and for the Southwest Pacific.
that the said Vessel and Officers and Crew thereof have been inspected and passed on by Ourself and Our Royal Staff And Be It Known: By all ye Sailors, Marines, Land Lubbers and others who may be honored by his presence that
George W. Kitzmiller
having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks he has been duly initiated into the SOLEMN MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THE DEEP.
Be It Further Understood That by virtue of the power invested in me I do hereby command all my subjects to show due honor and respect to him wherever he may be.
Disobey this order under penalty of Our Royal Displeasure
Given under our hand and seal this 29th December 1944
Davey Jones, His Majesty's Scribe
Neptune Rex, Ruler of the Raging Main
By his servant J.J. Jordy

Here's a detail from the border of the certificate.

Uncle George served on the U.S.S. Earl V. Johnson in the South Pacific. Here's a photo of him with a sailor buddy, most likely on shore leave judging by the playful grins on their faces.

Unknown sailor (left), George W. Kitzmiller (right), U.S. Navy, 1944.

U.S.S. Earl V. Johnson

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