Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wotje Island

Yesterday, I was writing about the USS Northampton and mentioned that it had shelled Wotje Island.  Never heard of it, so looked it up.

Wotje Island is actually a 75-island atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.  It was claimed by Germany in 1884 and turned over to Japan after World War I.  They developed it into a major seaplane base.  It was heavily fortified in the years leading up to World War II.

Wikipedia mentioned that the only bombing of Hawaii after Peral Harbor was carried out by seaplanes from Wotje.  I'd never heard of it being bombed again so will have to find out about this as well.

From mid-1943 Wotje came under a continued attack by U.S. Navy carrier based aircraft.

Many World War II artifacts remain on the island.

Oh, That Wotje.  --GreGen

Friday, June 28, 2013

USS Northampton (CA-26)-- Part 1


The last entry I mentioned David Hughs of Montgomery County, Texas, dying and listed as the county's last Pearl Harbor survivor.  I had never heard of the ship so did some research.

It turns out that the ship wasn't actually there during the attack, being at sea protecting the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.  The carrier, Northampton and its strike force returned to Pearl Harbor the next day.

The USS Northampton was a heavy cruiser: 600-feet long, 66-foot beam with a crew of 1,100 and mounting nine 8-inch guns in its main battery.  It was commissioned 17 May 1930 and was sunk at the Battle of Tassafarongas 30 November 1942.

As I already mentioned, it was not at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but returned the following day.  Evidently that still makes Mr. Hughs a Pearl Harbor survivor.

On the 9th, the Enterprise and its force sortied to look for the Japanese fleet.

On February 1, 1942, the Northampton and USS Salt Lake City were sent to bombard Wotje Atoll, a Japanese base.  The two ships destroyed buildings and oil depots on the island and sank two Japanese ships.  On February 24th, they attacked Wake Island.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Bits of War: Eagle Scouts Painting Guns-- County's Last Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies

Bits of War--  New News About an Old War.

1.  EAGLES SCOUT PAINTING GUNS--  April 4, 2013, Tucson News.  Ben and Hal Ducas are painting the guns from the battleships USS Arizona and USS Missouri to obtain the Boy Scouts' highest ranking, Eagle Scout.  Their grandfather attained that rank in the 1940s.

Ben directs and organizes the work on the 16-inch gun tube from the USS Arizona and Hal does the same for the Missouri's.

2.  COUNTY'S LAST PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR DIES--  From the April 21, 2013, History Channel from the War--  David Hughes, 89, of Mintgomery County, Texas, served from 1941 to 1946 in the U.S. Navy.  At Pearl Harbor, he was a 17-year-old desman on the USS Northampton, which was later sunk at the Battle of Guadalcanal the next year.

He served the rest of the war as a spotter in an open cockpit biplane.

Of Pearl Harbor, he remembered, "We got caught with our pants down, plain and simple."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

HMAS Parramatta (U44)

From Wikipedia.

I mentioned that the HMAS (His Majesty's Australian Ship) Parramatta was sunk off Tobruk in the last entry.  I'd never heard of it.

The Parramatta was an Australian Grimsby Class sloop which saw service in the Red Sea and mediterranean.  It was torpedoed by the U-559 on 27 November 1941 and 138 of 162 lost their lives.

The 266-foot long ship was commissioned 8 April 1940 and immediately deployed to the Red Sea in July 1940 and then transferred to Mediterranean operations where it was one of several warships supplying the besieged Allied forces at Tobruk.  The ships were so dependable that they earned the nickname The Tobruk Ferry Service.

On June 24, 1941, the Parramatta and two other ships came under attack from 70 German dive bombers and after a severe fight, managed to shoot three down and received no major damage.  The HMS Auckland, though, was sunk and the Parramatta rescued 164 survivors.

On November 27, 1941, while escorting a convoy to Tobruk, it was hit by a single torpedo from the U-559 and sank almost immediately.  There were only 24 survivors and 138 died.

The Story of a Ship.  --GreGen

Australia's Naval Effort in the War Often Overlooked

From the April 23, 2013, Christian Today Australia.

Nov. 19, 1941--  All 645 aboard the HMAS Sydney perished when the ship was sunk in a battle with the German raider Kormoran.

Nov. 27, 1941--  138 officers and men died on the HMAS Perramatta sunk off Tobruk in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) lost five major ships and a number of smaller ones in 1942.

The HMAS Perth and HMAS Yarra fought in the Mediterranean in 1940 and 1941 and the HMAS Canberra guarded the Indian Ocean sea routes.  All were sunk by the Japanese in the early months of the war.

The HMAS Vampire, Kuttabul, Voyager and Armidale were sunk in 1942.

On May 14, 1943, the hospital ship AHS Centaur was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine with just 64 of 332 surviving.

I have written a lot about the Sydney and Centaur in both this blog and my Cooter's History Thing ones.

Most People Don't Know Much About Australia's Naval Effort.  --GreGen

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hitler's Food Taster

From the April 26, 2013, News, AP.  "Hitler's food taster tells of poisoning fears" by Kirsten Griesahaber.

Margot Woelk kept her secret hidden, even from her husband.  In her mid-20s, she spent two and a half years as one of fifteen women who sampled Hitler's food to make sure he was not poisoned when he was at hisWolf's Lair, in present-day Poland, where he spent most of his time during the first years of the war.

Hitler was a vegetarian and extremely paranoid that the British would find a way to poison him.

Towards the end of the war, most Germans faced severe food shortages and what they could get was very bland.  But that was not the fare for their leader.  Hitler got only the best.  But, still, there was that fear.

Margot Woelk insists, however, that she was never a Nazi Party member.

She fled Berlin to avoid Allied bombing while her husband was in the German Army and moved 435 miles east to Rastenburg, then part of Germany, but now Ketrzyn, Poland.  There, she was drafted into civilian service as a food sampler and kitchen bookkeeper.  She never saw Hitler, only his German shepherd Blondie and the SS Guards.

Hitler's death fears were not unfounded.  On July 21, 1944, a trusted colonel detonated a omb in Hitler's bunker, but did not kill the leader.  In reprisal, some 5,000 were killed, however.

As the Soviet Army approached in the closing days of the war, she fled back to Berlin which was agood thing as all 14 tasters who remained were killed when the headquarters were overrun in 1945.

A Little-Known Story.  --GreGen

New Hanover High School's Two Medal of Honor Recipients

From the May 28, 2013, WWAY 3ABC TV, Wilmington, NC, "Making History: NHHS Medal of Honor Recipients" by Tim Buckley.

New Hanover High School, serving Wilmington and its country has a remarkable record as being the only-known high school in the country with multiple Medal of Honor winners.  Two graduates received the nation's highest honor.

CHARLES MURRY, Class of 1938, nearly single-handedly saved his company in Alsace, France.

BILLY HALYBURTON,  Class of 1943, gave his life for fallen marines at the Battle of Okinawa.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sunken WWII Ships Off Florida's Coast-- Part 5

All dates for 1942 except the last one which was 1943.  S= sunk off Stuart, between Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach.  B= sunk off Boca Raton.  The last item is how many deaths out of the crew.

11.  May 4 at 11 PM--  DeLISLE--  S--  freighter--  2,00 tons of general cargo--  sunk by U-564--  2 of 26.

12.  May 5 at 11:45 PM--  JAVA ARROW--  S--  tanker--  oil and water--  sunk by U-333-- stayed afloat and later salvaged--  2 of 47.

13.  May 6 at 3:40 AM--  AMAZON--  S--  freighter--  general cargo--  U-333--  14 of 34.

14.  May 6 at 4:55 AM--  HALSEY--  S--  tanker--  3 1/2 million gallons of oil--  U-333--  all 32 survived.

15.  May 8--  OHIOAN--  B--  freighter--  licorice root and wool--  by U-564--  15 of 37.

16.  May 9--  LUBRAFOL--  B-- tanker--  2 1/2 million gallons of oil--  by U-564 13 of 44.

17.  October 20, 1943--  GULFLAND and GULF BELL--S-  two tankers collided at 11 PM--  Gulf Bell was empty and ran aground.  The Gulfland was carrying oil and burned for 7 weeks before sinking.

There Are Sunken Ships In Those Waters.  --GreGen


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sunken WWII Ships Off Florida's Coast-- Part 4

Continuing with ships sunk off Florida during World War II.  CC--Cape Canaveral, B--  Boca Raton

5.    April 12--  LESLIE--  CC--  freighter with 3,300 tons of sugar--  U-123--  4 of 32.

6.  April 13--  KORSHOLM--  CC--  freighter with 4,953 tons of phosphates--  gunfire from U-123--  9 of 26.

7.  May 1--  LA PAZ--  CC--  freighter--  U-109--  all 57 survived.

8.  May  3 at 2:15 AM--  OCEAN VENUS--  CC-- freighter with coal and lumber--  U-564--  5 of 47.

9.  May 3 at 4:45 AM--  LAERTES--  CC--  freighter with planes, tanks hit twice, four minutes apart--  U-109--  18 of 66.

10.  May 4 at 1 PM--  ECLIPSE--  B--  tanker with aviation fuel--  U-564--  2 of 47.

Some Busy U-Boats.  --GreGen

Sunken WWII Ships Off Florida's Coast-- Part 3

Seven ships were sunk by U-boats off Cape Canaveral (CC), seven off Stuart (between Fort Pierce and Palm Beach (S) and three off Boca Raton (B).

All but one were sunk in 1942 and all but four during April and May, the time of the highest U-boat concentration and activity.

Here is a list of those 17 ships: Date, Name, Where (CC,S, B), cargo, U-boat and deaths out of crew.


1.  Feb. 19--  PAN MASSACHUSETTS--  CC--  oil--  U-128, 20 of 38.

2.  Feb. 21--  REPUBLIC--S--  empty tanker--  U-504--  5 of 34.

3.  Feb. 22--  CITIES SERVICE EMPIRE--  CC--  tanker--  U-128--  14 of 50.

4.  Feb. 22--  W.D. ANDERSON--  U-504--  35 of 36.

For some reason, there were no sinkings in March, perhaps the U-boats had left the area to reprovision or had been sent elsewhere?  Anyway, they were back in full force in April and May.

Next.  --GreGen

U.S. Mine Depot Yorktown-- Part 2

From the Global

The U.S. Mine Depot Yorktown was commissioned 1 July 1918 to support the laying of mines in the North Sea during World War I.

During the interim years between the two wars, the base received, reclaimed, stored and issued mines, depth charges and related materials.

During World War II, the trinitrotoluene (TNT) reclaiming and loading program, established in 1927, was expanded.  Torpedo overhaul facilities were added as was a research and development lab for experimenting with high explosives.

Special tasks assigned to the base were those associated with design and development of mines, depth charges and advanced underwater ordnance weapons.

The U.S. Mine Depot was redesignated U.S. Naval Weapon Station Yorktown 7 August 1958 and part of it was later turned over to the Coast Guard.

Never Heard Of It Before.  --GreGen

Friday, June 21, 2013

U.S. Mine Depot Yorktown-- Part 1

From the Military Bases site.

This entry grew out of my latest posting in my War of 1812 blog, Never Forgotten, and the capture of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Surveyor.  It mentioned that the ship, when captured by a British boarding party in June 1813, had been located near TC Yorktown.  I didn't know what the TC (Training Center) stood for and looked it up which led to these next two articles in this blog.


In 1917, the U.S. Navy decided to build a huge fuel depot and acquired 400,000 acres near Yorktown, Virginia (site of General Cornwallis' surrender in the American Revolution).  The peninsula there was perfect for the needs as it was protected and fully accessible to deep water.

In 1942, the Navy located its training base for mine warfare there as there was planety of land to suit its needs.

After the Korean War, the site was turned over to the United States Coast Guard.


Sunken WWII Ships Off Florida's Coast-- Part 2

Between February and May 1942, U-boats sank 24 ships off Florida's two coasts, sixteen alone between Cape Canaveral and Boca Raton.  Over the duration of the war, between the states of Maine to Texas on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and on the Pacific Coast, from California to Alaska, the German submarines sank some 400 ships resulting in 5,000 deaths. 

Most Americans today don't even know about the attacks on U.S. coasts.  And even back then, it wasn't reported much to the public.  About the only civilians who knew about the attacks were those living on the coasts.

Not only did the ships go down, but also what they were carrying, which would be oil, paint, planes, tanks and other war items.  Now, 70 years later, the ships are breaking apart and what they were carrying is starting to become a problem all over again.

  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants to know potential problems.  As such, they are sending out teams of divers to investigate these World War II wrecks.


Sunken World War II Ships Off Florida's Coast-- Part 1

From the July 31, 2011, Palm Beach (Fl) Post "Divers to examine safety of sunken WWII ships off Florida's coast" by Eliot Kleinberg.

On February 22, 1942, crewmember Frank Leonard Terry went to the stern of the SS W.D. Anderson for coffee.  A torpedo slammed into the engine room.  The 500-foot, 10,277 tons oil tanker was heading north, 12 miles off Jupiter, Florida.  The first months of 1942 were prime time for German U-boats operating off the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States.

The Anderson was completely on fire in seconds according to the U-boats commander, Fritz Poske.  He fired off a second torpedo which also struck its target.

Terry was now in the oily water where he bobbed for hours.  It was cold and soon he couldn't feel his legs, thinking that maybe sharks had bitten them off.  He was the only survivor and recalled, "It was my first trip to Florida.  I didn't like the experience."

More to Come.  --GreGen

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Liberty Ship SS John W. Brown

From Wikipedia.

Continued from May 21st and 28th entries.

The Brown made 13 wartime voyages to the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean and was at the Anzio Landings in Italy.  The ship also participated in Operation Dragon in August 1944 to liberate Southern France.

The Brown's U.S. Navy Armed Guard gunners may have shot down a German plane, but that was never confirmed.

After the was the Liberty Ship John W. Brown carried supplies to relieve Europe and returned with homecoming soldiers.

After 1946, it was loaned to New York City for use as a floating nautical school and served in that capacity until 1982.  When no longer used, a group formed Project Liberty Ship to preserve the Brown, but they were unsuccessful and the Brown was towed to the James River Reserve Fleet in July 1983.

In 1988, it was rescued by Baltimore Project Liberty Ship and towed there where it was returned to operational order.

The Story of a Ship.  --GreGen

Deaths: Last Known Female Military POW of WWII-- Part 3

Mildred Manning said the daily allotment of food consisted of two watery bowls of rice.  She endured beriberi, dengue fever and malnutrition and, in the years after the war, lost all of her teeth.

"We were scared and tired, but we kept working," she said in 2001.

On Feb. 3, 1945, a U.S. tank battalion broke through the gates of Santo Tomas, ending their captivity.  All 77 of the nurses captured at the fall of Corregidor survived.  They were awarded the Bronze Star and a Presidential Unit Citation.

Mildred Jeannette Dalton was born July 11, 1914, on a farm in Barrow County, Georgia, and she graduated from nursing school in Atlanta in 1937.

She married managing editor of the Florida Times-Union newspaper Arthur Manning in 1945 and lived almost 40 years in Jacksonville, Florida.  She seldom discussed her wartime experiences.

And, I had never heard of Mrs. Manning or the "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor.  I'm glad that is no longer the case.

The Greatest Generation

Deaths: Last Known Female Military POW of WWII-- Part 2

Mildred Manning was then among 4,000 people detained at a prison camp built on the grounds of Manila's University of Santo Thomas and run by Japanese civilians (very fortunate for her, things would have been worse in a Japanese military camp).

In 1943, two Hollywood movies were made to honor the nurses of the Philippines, "Cry Havoc" and "So proudly We Hail," but the real-life "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor were soon forgotten.  I had never heard of them before this article.  This sounds like a good movie for Clint Eastwood to make.

The letters they wrote were never sent and found after the war in a Manila warehouse.

Mrs. Manning said that the prison camp had no showers, beds or kitchens.  A single toilet was used by hundreds of people, yet somehow the nurses persevered. Even in captivity, they continued strict military order, always wearing their uniforms and carig for the sick.

Early in 1944, the jJapanese military took over the camp and conditions got worse.  Dozens died from starvation.  Prisoners were taken away and never returned.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Deaths: Last Known Female Military POW of WWII-- Part 1

From theMarch 15, 2013, Chicago Tribune. By Matt Schudel, Washington Post.


Was an Army nurse held captive for almost three years in the Philippines and the last-known female military prisoner of war from World War II.  Died at age 98, March 8, 2013.

Her name was Millie Dalton when she joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1939 from her native Georgia.  She asked for a transfer to the Philippines to see the world and arrived October 1941.  Six weeks later, Japanese forces attacked U.S. installations at Pearl Harbor and bombed the air base near Manila.

The Battle of the Philippines raged on for months, particularly on the Bataan peninsula and the island of Corregidor.  She was one of about 100 nurses who cared for wounded soldiers around the clock.

For two months she workked at a makeshift outdoor clinic at Bataan and at an underground hospital in a tunnel on Corregidor.  Mrs. Manning and her other nurses became known as "The Angels of Bataan and Corregidor."

When U.S. forces were overrun in May 1942, Mrs. manning was one of 77 military nurses--  66 from the Army, 11 from the Navy-- taken prisoner.  Several other civilian nurses and medical workers were also held captive as well.

The Last of The Greatest Nurses.  --GreGen

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The HMS Matchless-- Part 3

Continued from May 31st.

The battleship HMS Duke of York engaged the Scharnhorst on December 26, 1942, in the dark of night which was lit up by star shells and damaged the German ship.  The cruiser HMS Jamaica also launched torpedoes.

The Scharnhorst broke away and then the Matchless and other destroyers finished it off with 19 torpedoes.  The Scahrnhorst sank at 7:15 PM with 1,867 men.  Only 36 survived and the Matchless picked up six.

The British destroyers wanted to rescue more Germans, but fear of possible U-boats in the area, called off the effort.  This greatly bothered the Matchless' crew.  Norman Scarth said, "I grieve for those men every day of my life."

After this, the Matchless continued its Arctic convoys until August 1944 when it was decommissioned for repairs and then recommisioned and served in the Mediterranean.

It served in the Turkish Navy until 1971 when it was scrapped.

Former british crewmembers formed the HMS Matchless Association.  The ship's badge was presented to  the maidenhead Burrough Council in 1942, but it was since lost.

Story of a Ship.  --GreGen

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Naval Aviation Photographic Unit

Back on May 23rd, I wrote about the death of Wayne F. Miller, a World War II photographer who was a member of the U.S. Navy Combat Photo Unit.  I'd never heard of it so Wiki there I go.  I found information on this unit.

It was a group of military photographers under the command of Edward Ward Steichen and established in early 1942 to publicize naval aviation activities with a main objective to recruit pilots who were in short supply.  The Navy had to compete with the Army for these men.

The Navy had a quota of 30,000 new pilots each year.

Wayne Miller, who just died recently, remembers Steichen's instructions: "I don't care what you do, Wayne, but bring back something that will please the brass a little bit, an aircraft carrier or somebody with braid; spend the rest of your time photographing the man.

It was Steichen's prime concern, don't photograph the war, photograph the man, the little guy, the struggle, the heartache, plus the dreams of this guy.  Photograph the sailor."

They did.  I'd sure like to get ahold of the photographs taken by this group.

"Photograph the Man."  --GreGen

Last Battle of the Cassin Young-- Part 4

The Cassin Young (DD-793) was one one of 175 Fletcher-Class destroyers built, of which, only four remain, the Cassin Young being one of them.  These ships were not made to last with hulls as thin as a quarter inch.  But, they were fast and agile.

The way of thinking was that in six months, these ships would either be sunk or worn out and they "weren't called tin cans for nothing."

The NPS is considering moving the ship permanently to Dry Dock #2, but that will be expensive as well in these days of budget cutting.

Cassin Young II, grandson of the ship's namesake and Medal of Honor winner, said, "I'm Cassin Young the second, so peopleare going to say that I want to save the ship for obvious reasons.  But this ship is a symbol of what the Greatest generation did to stop World War II, which, along with the Civil War, was the greatest threat this country has ever faced.

He lives in Annapolis, Maryland, and like his grandfather and father before him, is a USNA graduate and spent twenty years in the Navy.

Let's Save This Ship.  --GreGen

Friday, June 14, 2013

Last Battle of the USS Cassin Young-- Part 3

When a bomb sank the aircraft carrier USS Princeton in the Philippines in October 1944, the Cassin Young rescued 120 men.

In the spring of 1945, the ship shot down five kamikazes off Okinawa, but a sixth one struck by the foremast, killing1 and wounding 59.  In July 1945, just two weeks before the Japanese surrender, a kamikaze hit the main deck near the forward smokestack, killing 22 and wounding 45.  The crew restored power to one engine, contained the fire and the Cassin Young was underway twenty minutes later.

It was decommissioned in 1960 and spent nearly twenty years mothballed in Norfolk Navy Yard until the Navy agreed to loan it to the National Park service for display in Boston.  Today it is a second attraction to the USS Constitution, but a tribute to the Charlestown Navy Yard which had 52,000 workers during World War II.

The ship opened to visitors in 1978.  In 2009, the Cassin Young drew 203,000 visitors.

Not Bad for a Destroyer.  --GreGen

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Last Battle of the USS Cassin Young-- Part 2

And, there is an even more famous ship planned to use Dry Dock No. 1 in 2014 and that would be the USS Constitution.  This ship figures to get quite a workout during the War of 1812 bicentennial (it went for a sail under its own power last summer).  It is the world's oldest commissioned ship and was constructed in Boston.

The USS Cassin Young was built in California, but 14 other Fletcher-Class destroyers were built at the Charlestown Navy Yard during World War II.  (That was the Young's destroyer class.)

It was named for Cassin Young, who commanded the USS Vestal, a repair ship that was tied up next to the USS Arizona that December day when the Japanese attacked.  The force of the battleship's explosion threw him and others off the Vestal.

He got back on the Vestal which was on fire, ordered the crew to their posts and navigated away from the Arizona, picking up survivors along the way.  For this, he later received the Medal of Honor.

Cassin Young died the next year at the Battle of Guadalcanal.  His namesake vessel was commissioned New Year's Eve 1942 and participated in most of the major Pacific battles: Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

More to Come.  --GreGen

The Last Battle of the Cassin Young-- Part 1

From the August 29, 2011, Bostonian by Phil Primack.

This 376-foot long destroyer survived one of the last kamikaze attacks of the war nearly 70 years ago and still looks like it's ready to go, but it would sink if it did.

The Cassin Young is high and dry on blocks in the Charlestowne Navy Yard, the National Park where it has been the last thirty year where DD-793 was moored at the end of the pier for most of that time. 

A year ago, it was moved to Dry Dock 1 for a six-month, $3.3 million overhaul, but after four months, and $2 million, the National Park Service (NPS) stopped work on it after it was found the ship was in worse shape than initially thought.  Now, estimates call for $18.7 million to make the ship seaworthy again.

The NPS considered that too much.  The ship is still owned by the Navy, but the NPS has the responsibility for its upkeep.

Well Worth Saving.  --GreGen

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Hotel Fox Hole" and Its Luxurious Conditions

From the December 26, 2011, Palm Beach (Fla) Daily News "WW II letters a highly personal account of a soldier on the battlefield" by John Nelander.

Private First Class Philip Herzig had a great sense of humor when he described his accomodations in Germany during the closing days of the war.  On March 21, 1945, he wrote:

HOTEL FOX HOLE: Air conditioned bedroom and latrine.  Finest box lunches (K-Rations).  The finest mud in the country.  Bring your gun, good hunting.  Ladies welcome.  Owner and manager, PFC Philip R. Verzig."

Private Verzig wrote more than 300 letters.  He died in 2004 and they were discovered in his attic.  His wife Helene decided they would make a great book and compiled them: "Your Loving Son, Philip: Letters From an American Soldier in World War II."

The letters start May 23, 1944 after his Army induction at Camp Upton in New York and continue until May 12, 1946, when he wrote "I am finally in the pipe-line" meaning that he was on his way out of the Army.

World War II veterans are dying at the rate of 740 a day and estimates put the number of remaining ones at 1.7 million out of 16 million.

Sad to See Them Go, Even If They Did Live in the Lap of Luxury Like At Hotel Fox Hole.  --GreGen

The USS Aaron Ward's Kamikaze Ordeal

From Wikipedia

Back on June 1st, I wrote about Carl Clark, a black sailor who was on board the destroyer minelayer USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) when it was attacked and hit numerous times by Japanese kamikazeson May 3, 1945.

He said that he had an ordeal of it, but, he was understating the whole thing.

It is a wonder this ship did not sink.  In the first attack, the ship shot down two attacking kamikazes before a third one released a bomb on the ship that explodes causing a lot of damage right before it crashed into the ship's superstructure.  The bomb exploded below the waterline and flooded the engine room.

The crew worked to repair the ship for twenty minutes before a second wave of kamikazes arrived and sank two other ships (the USS Little was struck by five of them).

Several of the enemy planes made for the damaged Ward which shot down two more of them.  Then one crashed, a second one released a bomb that hit before it also crashed into the ship as did a third kamikaze.

Miraculously, the crew managed to keep the ship afloat and it was able to get to where it was fixed.

Quite the Story.  --GreGen

Last Hurrah for Pearl Harbor Survivors

From the december 25, 2011, News Leader Colorado "Blog: Witness to the 'last hurrah' for Pearl Harbor survivors" by Chris Vanderveer.

The reporter made the trip with 23 Pearl Harbor survivors to the 70th anniversary commemoration in Hawaii.

Jim Doyle said, "This is kind of a last hurrah for a lot of us.  I don't think a lot of us will be coming back."  He was there that day and saw it from NAS Ford Island and says that to this day he can't get that smell out of his mind.

George Richard didn't see the first wave come in, but felt them blow deck of the USS Tennessee.

George Blake was playing basketball at Fort Kamahameh gym when he heard the first shots.

Pat Duncan was on the USS Raleigh.

The Greatest generation.  --GreGen

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Four German U-boats Sunk Off North Carolina Coast

From the Encyclopedia of North Carolina.

Four German U-boats were sunk off North Carolina's coast during World War II.

From north to south:

U-85--  Sunk 14 April 1942 by USS Roper.

U-701--Sunk 7 July 1942 by American Hudson aircraft.

U-576--  Sunk 15 July 1942 by two Kingfisher aircraft and vessel Unicol.

U-352--  Sunk 9 May 1942 by USS Icarus (Coast Guard)

The year 1942 marked the heighth of the U-boat attack on U.S. shipping along the US coasts.

And Many Americans Didn't Even Know About It.  --GreGen

Friday, June 7, 2013

North Carolina's Naval Section Bases-- Part 5

The U.S. Naval Section Base at Ocracoke (on the Outer Banks) began operations in May-June 1942 with the construction of the Hatteras Minefield, a ring of contact mines laid in an irregular arc offshore from Cape Hatteras to Ocracoke enclosing a protected anchorage for merchant ships.

The base cosisted of a large, two-story administration building and barracks, a hospital and various support facilities.  Three large piers were built into Silver Lake, which was dredged to shelter Coast Guard and navy patrol craft.

By the time the base was commissioned October 9, 1942, its original purpose had ceased to exist, as the Hatteras Minefield had proven too difficult to maintain.  Five Allied ships had been sunk or damaged after entering the minefield by mistake.

One More Entry.  --GreGen

North Carolina's Naval Section Bases-- Part 4

On November 17, 1941, the U.S. Navy purchased the old Fort Caswell Military Reservation near Southport for use as a section base for the Inshore Patrol.  Almost $1 million was appropriated to make it operational, build docking facilities and adapt the original buildings to the new use.

Operations began in early 1942.  From the base's docks on the Cape Fear River, patrol boats, Coast Guard boats, armed yachts, fishing boats and minesweepers guarded the coast off Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals from German U-boats.

At the end of the war, the Navy Department retained the base for several years for the intention of using it for other things.  It sold the property to the North Carolina  Baptist State Convention in 1949.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

North Carolina's Naval Section Bases-- Part 3

The incomplete Morehead City base was commissioned on March 17, 1942, right as the Battle of the Atlantic off U.S. shores went into hyperdrive.  It  quickly became the most important reception and processing centers on the North Carolina coast for the survivors of sunken and damaged merchant vessels.

Over the course of the war, both U.S. Navy and Coast Guard personnel used the base, whose primary duty was to serve the vessels patrolling the coast on the lookout for German U-boats.  They operated with the larger vessels from the State Port of Morehead City and the Fort Macon (Civil War fort) Coast Guard Station on Bogue Banks.

They aided  in minesweeping and in maintaining a submarine net across the entrance to the ship channel in Beaufort Inlet.

The need for the base diminished after 1942 when the U-boat attacks diminished.  It was designated a Naval Frontier Base on March 15, 1944 and closed down on June 30, 1944.  After the war, the base was declared surplus property.

In the fall of 1946, North Carolina bought it and built a marine fisheries research institute..  By the early 2000s, it was occupied by the North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences.

Next Time there.  --GreGen

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

North Carolina's Naval Section Bases-- Part 2

The 58-acre Morehead Naval Section Base was purchased by the Navy in 1941 for $15,000 on Bogue Sound, just west of Morehead City.  Construction began November 14 and consisted of a two-story, multi-winged building housing the administrative offices, mess hall and barracks.  Other buildings held additional barracks, machine and repair shops, a medical facility and heating plat.

In a remote area north of this, eight concrete magazines  for ammunition, depth charges and explosives were constructed.  A pier with two extensions could dock eight patrol vessels and subchasers.  Total price for the base was more than a million dollars and it was located about five miles from the entrance to Beaufort Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean.

Stuff You Usually Don't Read About In the War.  --GreGen

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

North Carolina's Naval Section Bases-- Part 1

From the Encyclopedia of North Carolina.

Naval Section bases were small naval bases established by the U.S. Navy on the North Carolina coast prior to and during World War II for coastal patrol and antisubmarine defense.  In 1940-1941, when it was becoming increasingly evident that the U.S. was going to have to enter the war, the federal government initiated massive military buildup and preparedness.

One of these programs was the naval section base set up to be part of the Navy's Inshore Patrol, providing adminstrative and operational facilities for small naval and Coast Guard vessels engaged in local harbor defense, coastal patrol and minesweeping.

In 1941, two section bases were authorized for Morehead City and Southport.  In 1942, a third one was set up at Ocracoke.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Black Navy Veteran to Get Medal for World War II Actions

From the December 25, 2011, Vos Iz Neias.

Carl Clark will receive a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal January 17, 2012. 

He was an E-6 Steward First Class on the destroyer minelayer USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) when it was attacked by kamikazes near Okinawa in May 1945.  He said, "They would guide those planes directly into ships...flying bombs."

Six kamikazes attacked the Ward.  The blast from one explosion was so strong, it blew Clark "all the way across the ship."  He suffered a broken collarbone from that, but even so, dragged several men to safety and put out a fire in an ammunition locker which would have destroyed the ship.

He never received any honors for what he calls "bigotry."

Congratulations Mr. Clark.  It's About Time!  --GreGen