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Chief Carpenters Mate Lyman Sleeper


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I’ve only been collecting for about 6 years; this is probably the best piece of history that I’ve been in the presence of thus far.


A buddy of mine picked up Chief Sleepers’ ditty box, it contained a diary, rate manual, liberty card, division muster, raft number…quite a few things, I wasn’t able to get photos of everything.


The best part of the grouping was something that I would refer to as his “charge book”. It wasn’t referred to as a “charge book” in the WWI era but you’d have a hard time convincing me that this information wasn’t compiled due to his responsibilities as a Chief Petty Officer… or his previous aspirations of becoming a Chief Petty Officer. This book covers his tours on multiple ships, from what I can recall, the years range from 1914 – 1918.


I took this description of the “Charge Book” from the goatlocker.org website.


“Chiefs began to direct First Class Petty Officers to prepare themselves to assume the additional responsibilities by recording all the details of those responsibilities. Ships professional libraries were generally nonexistent or poorly stocked and much had to be learned directly from conversations with the Chiefs themselves and taken down to be studied later. In addition to the technical aspects of the various ratings, Chief Petty Officers also talked to the First Class aspirants about leadership, accountability, supporting the chain of command, and other professional subject matter often using personal experiences to illustrate how something should (or should not) be done. The collection of notes and study material eventually came to be called by some a Charge Book perhaps because the Petty Officers who kept them were their charges; (entrusted to their care) for professional development or perhaps because the entries included charges (authoritative instructions or tasking of a directive nature).”


Has anyone else ever seen or owned a ditty box with this much information/detail? I’m pretty impressed with how complete this box is.






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These are all of the pictures that I took, the books are all pretty full, there is another rate specific book and quite a few other documents in the group...pretty phenomenal group, hope you guys enjoy it too.

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Looks freaking awesome but I would not write too much into this group in the CPO tradition direction. It would not supprise me to see a Carpenters mate with an over the top ditty box and some guys were note keepers. I think the reference from the goat locker is from WW2 and just a ding on where you want this to go. As an mid old school HT I think that diary is a freaking awesome look at WW1 Damage control that I would love to have access to and am envious ( does not happen often) and the Ditty box is one of the better ones ever. You can only get a partial look at this rate from the Navy pubs of the day, but to have a man break this down so specific to his rate and ship is almost mind boggling.An incredible thing I would like to see more of.



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I’ll agree, all of the information that I’ve read on Goatlocker.org points toward a WWII origin for the CPO charge book.


In 1920, Commanding Officers issued acting appointments, and then, when the Chief had met the required criteria, submitted a notification to the Bureau of Navigation that he had given the Chief a permanent appointment. Once Naval manning allowed, the Chief’s service record would be updated with a bureau “notation” over the Commanding Officers original signature. The permanent appointment date would remain the date that the CO originally appointed him. This appointment was similar to the requirements during WWII, the commanding officer had to base their decision on some kind of quantifiable data, that’s where I believe this “charge book” comes in to play.


I’ve attached a few references that have led me to believe that charge books preceded WWII.


1) Here’s some numbers from “The Navy Blue book”; there were 7 times as many Sailors in the Navy in WWII, as compared to WWI. I’m relatively new to collecting and researching, but pre-WWII information has been generally harder to find. It seems that documentation and regulations are distinctly different when comparing pre and post WWII. The Navy seems much better documented post WWII.


1918 – Total Enlisted Personnel = 424,975

1945 – Total Enlisted Personnel = 3,049,438


2) My second reference is “Instructions Governing the Handling of Enlisted Personnel” dated 1920. The criterion for acting and permanent appointment was very similar, when compared to WWII. The commanding officer had to base their decision on something quantifiable, just as they did in WWII.




4200. Authorization for issue.—The issue of permanent appointments to chief petty officers by the Bureau of Navigation has been discontinued. Hereafter commanding officers of vessels and shore stations will issue such appointments at discretion to men qualified, under existing instructions, by examination and length of service.


4201. No permanent appointments on parchment will be issued. When the permanent appointment is made, a notation to this effect will be made in the service record of the man concerned over the signature of the commanding officer, and this entry will be considered* a permanent appointment.


4202. The rating and date of issue of permanent appointments will be noted over the signature of the commanding officer on discharges and continuous service certificates. When appointments are issued an itemized report of the examination and transcript of service record (Form N. Nav. 21) will be forwarded to the bureau. Care should be taken that the endorsement fold of the form is properly filled out, showing the date on which the permanent appointment was made, over the signature of the commanding officer.


4210. Men eligible for permanent appointment.—Chief petty officers who have served one year at sea with acting appointments and whose marks meet the requirements laid down in the Navy regulations and these instructions shall be considered eligible for permanent appointment. In no case will a permanent appointment be given to any chief petty officer who has not served at least one year at sea in his rating, except that, with the approval of the Bureau of Navigation, chief petty officers performing strictly aviation duties may be given permanent appointments after one year's service in their ratings at an operating air station.


4220. General qualifications for permanent appointment. —Chief petty officers to be qualified for permanent appointment must be leading men of strong character, thoroughly familiar with the particular duties of their respective ratings, and fully capable of taking charge of men at drills, of controlling work, of planning details for the best employment of the force available, and of maintaining discipline. They must have the knowledge and practical experience required for holding an acting appointment as chief petty officer and have shown during their term of probation that they are qualified in all respects to hold it permanently.


4221. Their records must show an average of 3.5 each in proficiency and conduct for at least the two past years, and they must have shown in themselves . good examples of subordination, courage, zeal, smartness, attention to duty, a practical knowledge of the regulations and orders relating to their duties, and an earnest endeavor to maintain good order and discipline. Chief pharmacists' mates must have received not less than 3 in proficiency in rating and have a record clear of infractions of discipline for the past year.


4222. A report of insobriety or unexcused absence over or without leave shall disqualify any man for an acting or permanent appointment as chief petty officer for at least one year after date of offense.


4230. Examining hoard.—No officer below the rank of lieutenant (junior grade), when officers of or above this rank are available, will be ordered to serve on boards for the examination of enlisted men for acting and permanent appointments in the rating of chief petty officer, and at least one member of the examining board must be of a rank not below lieutenant. Boards convened for the examination of chief pharmacist's mates must consist of two medical officers and pharmacist, or three medical officers, at least one of whom has had two years' service in the Navy. If possible one of these officers should hold the rank of lieutenant commander, and if practicable, the board should be detailed from a ship or station other than that upon which the candidate is serving.


4231. The board must carefully examine the candidates to determine their manual and mental capabilities. Previous service, together with such official records as may be available, will be carefully scrutinized and noted in making up averages of fitness. General bearing, personal qualifications, and conduct records must be examined with special care, in the effort to procure only men of particular merit in these ratings.


4232. Candidates for permanent appointment shall not present letters of recommendation from officers, and no letters of this sort will be considered by the board.


4233. Reports of examinations must be in the following form, show each item in which the man was examined, and the average mark attained in each item, and be signed by all of the members of the board over their own official ranks. No other report is required. These reports will be sent by the senior member of the board to the commanding officer of the ship to which the candidate belongs. The report will then be filed with the- man's service record.

Only one copy of the report will be forwarded to the Bureau of Navigation.

In cases where men are serving on vessels in reserve the actual cruising done by the candidate while on reserve vessels must be shown in months and days.

Below is shown the form required for the examination of a chief turret captain for permanent appointment.


4234. Commanding officers and boards examining chief pharmacist's mates for permanent appointment will be governed by the following additional instructions:

a) Five questions will be asked in each subject, each question to be broad in scope with a view to ascertaining the man's general knowledge of and familiarity with the subject.

b.) A mark of not less than 2.5 in any one subject and a general average of at least 2.8 is required.

c) All the written work of the candidate, with all questions asked and candidate's answers in his own handwriting, and a statement of procedures undertaken and results obtained, shall be forwarded to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery together with marks assigned in all subjects, the examination report, and a specimen of, and a statement as to proficiency in, typewriting.

Great care shall be taken to see that all papers relating to the examination are filled out completely and securely fastened together.

d) The following forms, carefully filled out, will be submitted with the examination papers to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

1. N. Nav. 21 (transcript of service record).

2. N. M. S. H. C. 1.

3. N. M. S. H. C.


4240. Revocation and cancellation.—Permanent appointments of petty officers may be revoked at the discretion of commanding officers.


4241. Failure to receive an honorable discharge, or to reenlist within four months after the date of an honorable discharge, cancels a permanent appointment.


3) MCPON Hagan addresses the charge book in “The Chief Petty Officers Guide”, he comes right out and states that the charge book precedes the establishment of the Chief.


“The charge book’s direct ancestral line stretches back at least sixty years, but its roots predate the establishment of the CPO rating. Informal records indicate that those who aspired to be promoted to chief kept private log books with information passed down to them by experienced chiefs in the mess. These notebooks were a sort of early warfare qualification, for, in addition to rating-specific professional knowledge, they contained much ship-specific information in areas outside the petty officer’s rating. This was particularly important during World War II when commanding officers were authorized to locally advance deserving and qualified Sailors to Chief Petty Officer without reference to outside commands nor approval by the Bureau of Personnel.

Under wartime conditions, determination of “deserving and qualified” could be difficult for the commanding officer. The situation also presented challenges to the Sailor who aspired to attain the chief’s rating. How best to display your qualifications? From these dilemmas sprang the original CPO charge books.”




Compere, Tom. The Navy Blue Book. Vol. One. Indianpolis [u.a.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1960. 250. Print.


Instructions Governing the Handling of Enlisted Personnel. Washington: G.P.O., 1920. 58. Print.


Hagan, John, and J. F. Leahy. The Chief Petty Officer's Guide. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute, 2004. 13-14. Print.

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