Walter Finlayson: Navy Musician and Artist

(from Something Foxy article)

Destiny took another turn when Walter enlisted in the US Navy and played clarinet and sax with Artie Shaw in the Newport, RI dance band.  “Artie Shaw was a tremendous musician–with opinions on every subject in the world,” he recalled. “He married Betty, the daughter of Jerome Kern,  whom I came to know well, as Artie would regularly disappear for 10 minutes after each set when we played at Navy dances. No one ever knew where he went so I was left to talk with his wife.”

Walter played with this big band (five saxes, four trumpets, three rhythm players and two clarinets) for six months  before shipping out to Okinawa, Iwo Jima, China and the Philippines during World War II.  His ship,the ALASKA,  was the only CB-1 which the Navy built–a combination of the Cruiser for speed and Battleship for size.  Their job was to shoot down enemy aircraft diving at carriers. Walter’s battle station was locked below decks, feeding ammo up to the machine gunners topside.



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