Veterans Voices: Submarine Photographer

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — A World War II sailor’s rare photographs of life inside a submarine are seeing the light of day for the first time in 80 years.

On this week’s Veterans Voices, a unique account of life under the water during wartime. It’s a stark reminder of the dangers of fighting in near total darkness and in very cramped conditions.

Bill Schaudt was the official photographer onboard the World War II submarine Guavina. And now his candid images of life on board the sub are on display in Iowa.

His daughter recently discovered the photos and donated them to an Iowa museum. Some were negatives that had never been developed.

The pictures document life on the ship, from pets, to tight quarters for up to 60 sailors. The living space? 300 feet long, 27 feet wide.

“When they listed the qualifications, claustrophobia was at the bottom, which would be at the top for most of us. They’d tie a string from one side to the other, the 27 feet, and as they dove, the string sagged because the pressure on the walls was so great,” Louise O’Donnell of Slater Heritage Hall Museum said.

The string was a reminder to all the men on board of the dangers of diving at the tremendous pressure outside the submarine’s walls. Schaud, who later served on another sub, came down with appendicitis and was taken for medical treatment. Later the sub was sunk and all lives were lost.

“He has a personal story that we relate to because he came down with appendicitis and they had to take him off his ship. And that ship was later sunk,” O’Donnell said.

Schaudt survived his service in the Navy. He returned home to Iowa where he took over his father’s fuel business.

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