Slater Man Captured WWII Life on a Submarine

Veteran's Voices

SLATER, Iowa — An Iowa marine’s candid photos of life aboard a WWII-era submarine are now telling his story at the Heritage Hall Museum. Slater-native Bill Schaudt documented his years aboard the U.S. Navy submarine “Guavina.” His daughter recently donated his collection of photos to the museum.

“He’s been gone quite a long time, but his daughter found the cache of his photos,” said Louise O’Donnell, who serves as the secretary of the museum. “He was the official photographer on the submarine Guavina, and she found all these negatives that had never been developed. She developed them, and there were letters, there were records, all kinds of things, but she gave them to us.”

The photos showed what life was like for the sailors. Cramped quarters were common. Beds to sleep in were tucked anywhere there was space, including on top of some torpedoes. The sailors were also tested to see if they had the personality to work in that type of environment.

“Mainly they couldn’t be too aggressive because they were cheek to jowl with your buddies,” said O’Donnell. “You had to be pretty easygoing, and they listed all the qualifications, claustrophobia was at the bottom, which should be at the top.”

The photos are displayed telling various aspects of life, including the rescue of downed pilots in the ocean. The ship also sank several Japanese vessels, including a destroyer.

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

The Slater Museum will keep the Schaudt Submarine exhibit up through July 4. The museum also has an exhibit called “Unsung Heroes,” which tells the story of area men who served in remarkable ways but never really talked about their service.

For more information about the Slater Area Historical Association, click here.

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