Shellback Initiation...Crossing the Equator

Uss Bennington CVS-20
Photographed: July, 1968

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Although the make-up and costume of each shellback was different and dependent on their ingunity and artistic skill, the one common denominator was the shillelagh. This was most often constructed from a three foot length of canvas covered fire hose. A wooden handle would be inserted in one end, allowing the other to flap on impact. Rumors circulated that soaking the hose in salt water and allowing it to dry, would render it particulary effective. At one point the ship's chaplain was confiscating shillelaghs from sailors who were too rough on the pollywogs. It was easy, in the emotions of the moment, to get carried away in the punishment of the pollywogs.