George Fortune volunteered for service in the United States Navy, signing up in February 1942, on leaving college at the age of twenty 22. He attended Midshipman School at Furnald Hall, Columbia University, New York City, for 3 months and 2 weeks trial and training. Furnald Hall was one of 3 halls at the University used by the US Navy.

"After our 6 weeks exams we took all day cruises out in the ocean learning aboard ship,
computing range and deflection on a big 16# inch gun?"

“We marched a lot and I couldn’t stop laughing once while marching and had to spend three hours doing drills with a rifle” On a Saturday we marched to the Columbia-Marine game and next week went to the Princeton-Navy Game. We performed at half time… all of us supposedly to do an about face and only half of us did it!! It was complete chaos and we were totally embarrassed by the laughter of the crowd”.

"We attended church every Sunday and students got to stay weekends with people on invitation. People would invite the guys to their homes, have tea dances, arrange excursions, and take us places."

"1943-through 45 I was befriended by Joe Bond who lived outside of New York City and loved the Navy!! We drove in Joe's Cadillac near Valley Forge near Philadelphia, and went to Hotel Marlborough, Blenheim, Atlantic City, N. J."

Three "cousins" of navy-marine background at Florence's (Joe’s sister) at farm near Lataska, Pennsylvania.


George graduated in the top 15% out of a thousand students and was allowed to choose his posting to Section Base on Treasure Island which was close by the world famous San Francisco bridge and to his home in Menlo Park, CA.

For 6 months he learned ship handling including 3 months at sea on Errol Flynn's sailboat "Zaca"….700 miles off shore. The new ensigns aboard did everything the crew did including ship handling and climbing up the rigging to the top.!


1943 Miami
With sea skills behind him he was posted to Miami on a very hot July 4th, and where en route he was taken to a hospital in Chicago for a fever check-up. (Mumps)

"By July 5 1943 I found himself in Miami at the Subchaser Training Center, and after 3 month's practice in radio work and ship handling I reported to the Gunfire Support Craft Group in Boston, Maine, for training in the use of various guns."

"During Thanksgiving week of 1943 (late November) we sailed to Scotland on the Queen Elizabeth. Because of her high cruising speed of around 33 mph (53kph) she traveled alone usually carrying 20,000 soldiers and sailors. We were able to travel all over the ship especially the con and engine room and visit with the Captain!! The US Naval officers, including me, stood watch at night to guard against any stray light….(blackout). The food was great and we ate in the high class dining room! However lots of men couldn't get their "sea-legs" and got sick below deck!!”


On arrival in Scotland in 1943 he was stationed at the Roseneath Castle on the Firth of Clyde near Glasgow. Roseneath was commissioned on 4/15/42 and named HMS Louisburg. However, after the attack on Pearl Harbor and direct American involvement in the war, plans for the base were changed. It was paid off on 3/8/42 by the RN and handed over to US control as an amphibious training centre. It was used during preparations for the landings in French North Africa in November 1942. By 1943, following the success of the North Africa landings, Roseneath returned once more to British control as HMS Roseneath. However, sections of the base were retained by the US Navy for a 'Seabee' maintenance force and berthing/supply facilities for the depot ship USS Beaver and the boats of US Navy Submarine Squadron 50.

“At Roseneath Castle in Scotland we lived in Quonset huts, each hut holding 20 to 24 men. The officers were in one and the crews were in others. We slept on cots with blankets and sheets. We were comfortable and clean, not too noisy, though somewhat damp. We had curfew hours and ate in a mess hall on the grounds, officers and crew were separated”.

Ship Commander in charge of George's training.

"Our food at the base was very basic and very English, with only cabbage, potatoes, and brussel sprouts for vegetables, mutton for meat, no milk except canned, and dessert rarely. Pretty grim! It was so sparse and military there, even the toilet paper had " government issue" stamped on each sheet!"

The crew pretty much stayed on base, while the officers with permission, could go out sight seeing, sometimes taking a crew member with them.
“To help break the monotony at times, I resorted to taking a couple of my crew in a borrowed LCVP (a small boat with a ramp at the bow which carried a vehicle or personnel) to cruise around the river Clyde."

George recalls taking "small boat trips from our base at Roseneath Castle to our big ships bumming anything that we could beg, borrow or beg louder for. The best was an ice cream maker that we later used to great effect in the heat of North Africa at Bizerte! We let other rocket craft use our freezer if they gave us some ice cream in return. It was in use constantly! I still have a table cloth that was given to me by a US tanker crew in Scotland."