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Young Navy Sailor - ca. 1949

Young Navy Sailor - ca. 1949

This was a portrait of my late Uncle Charles "Sonny" Haile taken around 1949 at the age of 17. (That's right, 17 years of age, he falsified records to get in the Navy). EDIT: I have since found out he did not falsify records, actually my Mother signed the papers to allow him into the Navy.

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Also a Kiddie Cruiser

I was also a Kiddie Cruiser.
Told off my dad and with a friend tried to join the Navy but found out my parents had to sign for me, being as I was under 18. Dad made me wait a couple of weeks and then signed. Served 3 1/2 years but got credit for 4 years. They released kiddie cruisers on the day before they turn 21.

Military at 16

This is interesting! My father actually enlisted in the Marine Corps at 16. Apparently, his mother signed something saying that he was 17. They must not have required a birth certificate. At the end of WWII, there was still an awful lot of work for the military to do. There had been many casualties and many men who had served during those years were eager to get out and do something else with their lives. I think that is why they made it easy for someone who was still a kid, but physically mature, to lie about his age. My dad actually turned 17 the day he graduated from boot camp. He just happened to be born on November 10th, which is the Marine Corps birthday. I guess he was born to be a Marine because he served for 35 years.

Oh, and I think Uncle Charles looks like Gene Kelly, too!

Boy Sailors

In the British Royal Navy it was possible to enlist as a Junior Rate at the age of fifteen until 1973 when the school leaving age was raised to sixteen. I know this as fact as I was enlisted on August 18, 1970, my fifteenth birthday, at H.M.S. Ganges Shotly Gate near Ipswich, Suffolk, England.

Your Sailor Uncle

I remember the Haile Family, although I didn't actually know any in Savannah. I knew Jimmy Haile who came out to Bluffton to visit his Uncle Ches Haile. I grew up in Bluffton.

Haile family

My mother's maiden name was Haile. She was from Savannah, Georgia. Her father owned the Haile Tobacco Company. It's an unusual spelling. We must be cousins.

Thank you...

In the words of my Uncle...he would have said to you, "This is a truism." He was a million laughs to be around. I miss him alot.

Enlistment Requirements

Denny...very good! You are absolutely correct! I did not have my facts (entirely) right. I called my Mom (now 79 years old)...and this is what she told me.

My Uncle did indeed join in 1949 at the age of 17...however as you stated, he joined legally. My Mother says she signed the papers for my brother (she didn't elaborate on how she was able to sign them). My Uncle was in trouble at the time and the law was hot on his heels for burning down a school in Joiner, AR. So he did join legally and was honorably discharged after his enlistment was up. Very good for pointing that out Denny.

Also: He was born in 1931 and died in 1985. He was a character too!


Sonny Haile

Let me add a point of clarification regarding "minority enlistment" in the U.S. Navy (and in fact all branches of the U.S. military) at age 17. Such enlistments are perfectly legal and are contingent upon the authorizing signagture of a parent or legal guardian.

In 1965 I enlisted as a "kiddie cruiser" (as it was usually referred to) in the U.S. Navy at the tender age of 17, with parental signature, and found myself in boot camp just a few short days following high school graduation. I served in the Navy unti the day prior to my 21st birthday. I then received an in-place discharge, re-enlisted for two more years and was later commissioned as an officer (in the USAF).

I'm unable to say for certain that minority enlistments existed in the U.S. Navy in 1949, but I strongly suspect such was the case, based upon anecdotal evidence. I knew several "old salts" during my Navy service who had legally enlisted at age 17, and their initial enlistments dated to the 1940s and 1950s.

Was your uncle unable to secure an authorizing parental/guardian signature in 1949? On what ship(s) did he serve?

Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

Ansco Color?

Maybe this is an Ansco Color or Ansco chrome picture. This was the American name for the Agfacolor process invented in Germany in the late 1930s. Early Ansco color tended to produce tannish "flesh" tones. If it isn't Ansco color, I'd say it was hand-tinted. Hand-tinting was still popular in rural areas where color prints remained expensive into the early 50s.

Hand tinting

See this link for instructions on how to color b/w photos:

The transparent colors are applied with cotton swabs. This technique makes sharp color transitions difficult.

Look closely between the sailor's fingers and you will see where the colorist did not change colors from flesh to the blue of the background.


This looks more like a 1930s photo (and uniform) to me. Of someone 25 or older. Charlie was born in 1932?

Colour pic?

Is that an actual colour picture or a "colourized" black and white shot?

The pastel tones of the colours makes this look a lot like it was hand-tinted (one of my father's baby pictures looks very similar, a hand-tinted black-and-white).

Sailor Sonny

I thought this was a pic of Gene Kelly!

Uncle Charles

This looks very worthy of being an advertisement of the era...a man's man for sure (though just a child!). Great pic!

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