This is a transcript of the war diary of Vincent (Jim) Perrone made aboard the USS Fremont APA 44. These entries were made upon departure from Norfolk, Virginia to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on through the invasions of Saipan, Mariannas Islands, Palau, Ulithi, and the Philippine Islands.
26 FEBRUARY to MAY 1944
Left Norfolk, Virginia 26 February carrying the 117th CB Battalion. We went down through the Panama Canal. We stopped there for fuel - no liberty. The natives tried to sell us bananas while tied up. Going through the Canal was interesting. From there we headed for Hawaii. Arriving on 16 March 1944. We saw Cuba from the sea but did not stop. It looked very nice from where we were. During that time, we had a sub warning and headed the ship for Cuba. Clearance came through and we continued on to Hawaii. Note: Panama was pretty nice but hot and humid.
PEARL HARBOR -- The ship was converted to a Flag Ship. Admiral Blandy in charge -- Flag Aboard. Left Honolulu on 19 May and are outside of Maui Is. for a practice invasion. On this day the 20th reveille at 0500 and General Quarters (GQ) at 0520 to 0630. 1Able at 0730 still set - 36 ships in the group. Will stay five days and return to Pearl Harbor. From there the Zero Hour - will write more when something comes up. My guess is Wake Island - see how good my guess is. Just pulled up anchor 0530 and passed a beautiful mountain with a pineapple orchard at the foot of one wnd. The clouds covered the heights of the mountain called Lanai.
1 JUNE 1944
My guess was wrong and I found out today where the invasion would be. We have the 27th Division (Army) on board and will group in the largest forces ever assembled. The three islands are SAIPAN, TINIAN and GUAM. We have two War Correspondents on board. Saipan has all the Japs on the island and will be first invaded. Saipan belonged to Japan before the war started. Write more later.
3 JUNE 1944
Received word we would stop at Kwajalein in the Marshall Is. for a few days and refuel. On the 11th we will start out again. "D" Day is the 15th and we will arrive on the 16th. Coming in from the southern end. By the way, it keeps getting hotter than hell as time goes by and when I say hot, I mean it. The old sweat pours. We have 10 transports in our group with 4 Destroyers and 2 DE's. There is another force behind and one ahead and we will join at KWAJELEIN. Write more later.
4 JUNE 1944
GQ at 0500 to 0600. Damn early to be getting up. Had a fire in the Tailor Shop. No casualties and no damage - waste paper basket on fire. Soldiers on board stripped to their shorts and exercised. Received word that a group of 10 enemy subs were lying off Kwajelein. Oh! Boy.
5 JUNE 1944
Reveille at 0400 and GQ at 0420. Man, the further we go, the earlier we get up mornings. We have set the clock back 2 1/2 hours since we left Pearl Harbor. We are going to cross the International Date Line tonight and that makes today (Monday) tomorrow (Tuesday) the 5th to the 6th on the same day. I'll bet Joe (my brother) will be in this invasion.
7 JUNE 1944
Yes, it does look funny with the 6th missing, doesn't it? We crossed the International Date Line last night. Reveille at 0330 AM. General Quarters at 0335 AM. Maybe we will start backwards starting today, now that we crossed the line. Took a sun bath yesterday afternoon for one hour and got quite a burn out of it. Heard the news last night about the invasion of France. Very good news to all hands. P.S. The clock does not move backwards as I thought.
8 JUNE 1944
Revielle 0355 this morning - - - General Quarters at 0405 Sunrise at 0505... Nothing happened except the General Alarm was set off and I was laying out in the sun with my shorts on at the time. Had to move fast and when I did get dressed, found out it was a fire. Later to be found out to be set off by excess heat in the Bos'ns Locker. Was wet from sweat... Took a shower.
Expect to be in at noon tomorrow. Oh yes, we missed the 6th, jumped that day when we crossed the line. Seems funny. A fellow having a birthday on the 6th misses and is still the same age. (well, how about it)
9 JUNE 1944
Reveille at 0415... General Quarters at 0425. Expect to be in at noon today. Radar picked up plane in distress 50 miles off. No contact. I just saw a number of planes and ships and also Kwajelein from afar at 0950 AM. The first stretch completed. We arrived at 0120 today. I have never seen such a gathering of ships at sea before. The island is nothing but flat and it sure took a beating when the boys attacked because all that's left are stumps of trees. There are also a group of Atolls surrounding us. The place is barren country. When we were at GQ this noon we had a warning of an air attack which was supposed to be imminent but to our good fortune never came. Lucky! When we got in, the LST Fleet pulled up anchor and left. We gave them a two day start. I found out the number of Joe's ship today -- AKA 13 USS TITANIA (my brother's ship)
11 JUNE 1944
Well, today I picked up a heat rash under my arms and as a matter of fact, all over them. It was so damn hot, the sweat just rolled. Went to communion and Mass today and yesterday. Well, we are all set to go and weigh anchor at 1630. This evening lying around watching a game and the general alarm went off. We manned our battle stations and waited. What confusion there was. The whistle got stuck and there we were. Submarine contact was made by the destroyer at 1600 yards. They dropped a marker buoy which blinked on and off. Well, evidently the sub got away and we secured. The officer said he saw a wake which he thought was a torpedo go by the ship. I personally think he was off the beam.
12 JUNE 1944
Was wakened by the sound of depth charges at 0015. The ship shuddered a little. I got out of bed figuring it was near time to get up for General Quarters and anyway my bed was soaking wet from sweating so I couldn't go back to sleep. When I got back to the ward room, I found out how early it was so I just laid out there underneath a fan and tried to sleep but to no avail. I squirmed and turned. Well, anyway, I did get up for GQ at 0420. As for the rest of the day, I ran around looking for a cool spot to sleep. Guess what? No place was found. No other excitement. Oh yes -- the destroyer went back to investigate the sub and found an oil splotch spread over a large area, so I guess it was sunk. Not bad, eh!
13 JUNE 1944
Reveille at 0420. .. GQ at 0450. Nothing happened so far. Had pork chops for dinner. I got brave and got a short haircut. I took a razzing and was called "The Head". Easy day with nothing to do.
14 JUNE 1944
Reveille at 0400 - - - GQ at 0405. Saw dawn break again. There are only two good things about the Pacific and they are the break of dawn and the sunset. Very picturesque. I forgot to mention it yesterday but the clock was turned back one hour.
15 JUNE 1944
Reveille at 0415 - - - GQ at 0420 No contacts... Today is D-Day which means the first wave was to land on SAIPAN. We just received word that the boys went in and everything was as planned. They are beyond the railroad and in the streets fighting. The Airfield is ours. Also more news as it comes in. This leads us to believe we will land on TINIAN. Went into GQ at 2030. Planes were picked up 30 miles away heading North. They continued North and did not come in contact with us. The force ahead of us had an air attack this afternoon. The results are not known .
16 JUNE 1944
We are off SAIPAN this morning. Reveille at 0430 and two minutes before GQ the general alarm went off and a mad dash was made to GQ stations. One of the other ships picked up soundings and the damn fools thought it was enemy planes and it turned out to be land. Boy, did that burn us up. Foolish sometimes. Had breakfast at 0700. We could see the Battleships and others firing on shore installations. Flares being dropped and anti-air craft going off. Also saw four Jap ships being fired upon and you should see the explosions. I could see a destroyer between them laying them in. I think there were others etc. After breakfast, I was out on deck and saw a Jap floating by, alive. Another had gone by before I got there and I believe our tug picked them up. The battleship USS TENNESSEE was hit four times with little material damage. Just got news over the PA system - 20,000 men had been landed yesterday. The fire and smoke clouds are from oil barges hit by our destroyers. About 1400 we were called to go in and unload. The going was tough for the Marines so they called the 27th Division in. We got right off RED BEACH and unloaded a few tanks and about 100 men. There is an eight foot channel for the boats to go in and everything just jams up trying to go through. The fact is that the LST couldn't go in because the beach was so small. There are reefs all around the island preventing landing anywhere else. Our battleship the USS TENNESSEE, was laying 5" shells into a position and after awhile the destroyers started in. Well, when it started getting dark you could follow the salvos in and see them hit. After an hour of shelling one big explosion was seen. A big ball of fire which seemed to extend up to 2500 feet into the air. We were standing there looking at it when two blasts took place real close to our ship. It was caused by the ammo dump. About dark, which is early out here, 1830-1900 a mine went off. Well, it was a spray that went up 200 feet high and 200 feet wide. It felt like a ship loaded with gasoline blowing up. There were many fires all over the island. We secured from 1 Able at 2030 and went out to sea for the night as that is when the JAPS work with there Air Force. The next morning we will return from the sea.
17 JUNE 1944
Well, we did come back in and started to unload again. There were many stories going around of different things that were happening. Most of the day was quiet except for our planes dive bombing the Jap positions and of one plane which cracked up in the water. The two men from that plane were picked up, however. The planes were really laying eggs on the artillery of the Japs. We received word of a Jap Task force heading our way from the Philippines so one of ours went out to intercept them. We were told we were going to leave the area late this afternoon to get out of an air attack that was due later. The demolition crew were going to blow up the reef so as to widen the channel so that the LST's could go in. When they do, I am sure we can get everything in that we want and things will go along smoothly again. At 1700 we weighed anchor and got underway. It was none to soon as when we got to sea aways, the Japs came in for a bombing run. We could see a crossfire of tracers in the sky which reminded one of a 4th of July fireworks. It sure was a sight to behold. I wonder how a plane could live through it. There was heavy cloud coverage and it started getting dark. It was to our good luck because the Japs were looking all over for us. They were overhead and all around us but had no luck in finding us. After around three hours of this, we got an all clear signal. I went below and the conversation began about everything conceivable, like a bunch of old maid's gossip. I was in there pitching too. The Army boys that went in sure showed up the Marines as they advanced continuously. If anyone ever mentions the Marines and gives them all the glory later on, I'm sure going to correct them.
18 JUNE 1944
Reveille and GQ the same time as yesterday, only GQ was a General Alarm. Enemy planes were picked up. We rushed to our stations again as usual, but after an hour an All Clear came through. We were out around 150 miles from SAIPAN going around in circles. There were at least 100 ships out with us, in fact, all you could see was ships. We had four carriers along for protection and a lot of destroyers.
19 JUNE 1944
Reveille and GQ as the same time as yesterday. We secured from GQ at 0530. While eating breakfast the General Alarm went off and we ran to our stations. Enemy planes picked up at 24 and 26 miles. Our plane support intercepted and drove them off. No action for us again. No news of our fleet meeting the Jap fleet as yet. Everyone is anxious to hear some news. I have never mentioned this but our radio, every day, we get Radio Tokyo and we called it Tokyo Rose's program. It's a propaganda program and you get a kick out of the news they give. This morning they claim to have sunk a battleship in our force which is not true. They also claim many other ship losses. We get a kick out of listening to this.
20 JUNE 1944
Reveille and GQ at 0430. We are out of SAIPAN and coming in. Secured from GQ and layed down to breakfast. We are coming in closer this time and able to see more. We anchored at 0700 in close and standing by to unload our troops and cargo. Well, it is now 1630 and finally got things going after all this time. What a mess. An LST came along side and is going to take the bulk of the stores which is gas, ammunition, trucks and food. You could see the gunfire from where we were, in fact, even tanks moving around. All this may be seen through the Range Finder and binoculars. A lot of dust surrounded the area. We took on five casualties a little while ago, Marines shot up. We expect to fill up with casualties. They placed the wounded in our quarters for dressings and blood transfusions. I was sitting, watching and in fact helping once in awhile. I felt sick and nervous. After they kept bringing the wounded aboard, I got used to it. There are many things happening, in fact to darn many to remember. I do remember one Marine that was wounded in the buttock. He told me that he was taking shelter behind a large rock with others and there wasn't quite enough room (his rear was sticking out and thus a wound). He said "I don't know how I'm going to explain this to my dad." It was funny in one sense but sad in another.
21 JUNE 1944
I was up at 0100 to relieve the watch. My first vision were two dumps on fire and exploding. The Japs had a habit of sneaking through our lines at night and doing damage such as this. They set booby traps, etc. In fact, some of their snipers had bows and arrows. Well, we could see star shells bursting around enemy territory. The dumps are still exploding and some unexploded shells blew near our ship sending us to cover. Last night, I was resting on a cot in the office when an explosion shook me out of my sack. It seemed to have hit right outside of the office but no damage was done. This happened when the dump blew up. More casualties brought a board. To date, we have 52 of them on board. One man died from a bullet which went through his stomach. his intestines were all shot up. They operated on him and about 15 hours later he died. This was the first man that died on our ship. We pulled out today with only four small boats on board. We left the others at SAIPAN to help other ships unload. As we pulled out, we could see five battleships out a little way the CALIFORNIA, MARYLAND, TENNESSEE, COLORADO and MISSISSIPPI. In the group were three cruisers - names unknown.
22 JUNE 1944
This morning at GQ we found out they had another air raid last night (SAIPAN). We have been missing out on these by a matter of minutes. Nothing else happened.
23 JUNE 1944
No news of anything going on except the fleets (Jap and ours) met through and air engagement only. The Japs would not come in. The USS MARYLAND took a fish off SAIPAN and headed to Pearl Harbor for repairs.
24 JUNE 1944
GQ at 0430 -- no contact of new, nothing happened today. Will be back in SAIPAN.
25 JUNE 1944
GQ at 0400. Secured at o430. SAIPAN in view again. Will be in there in about an hour. Still shooting Star Shells. 0730 we are in port and anchored. 0800 we set condition 1 Able and are unloading the remaining cargo, trucks and men. The Beach Party came back aboard. We found out today that a group of 12 men were going on the beach as a pool and my Storekeeper was one of them. They are going to leave tomorrow when we get back in from sea. Yep, we pulled out again at 1700 for the night. During the day, the boys were shelling TINIAN. We found out that half of SAIPAN is ours and the top of the mountain is included in this. There are a lot of Cruisers lying at SAIPAN today. We fueled up a Destroyer (USS SHAW) and an APD which is an old Tin Can. The smell of the dead was intense today and oh! what an odor (pungent). (After note): When we left SAIPAN we sailed for GUAM for a few days. I stopped writing in my notebooks until the PALAU invasion. I also remember that SAIPAN and TINIAN was to be used as an air base to strike at JAPAN.
INVASION OF PALAU
LIST OF GENERALS ON THE PALAU INVASION:
MAJOR GENERALS ON PALAU INVASION:
Major General Paul J. Mueller
Major General Beightler
Brigadier General Rex W. Beasley
Brigadier General Marcus B. Bell
also: Colonel James Short and Colonel James T. Leone
81st Division - Anguar
1st Marine Division - Pelileau
Fake landing on the largest island (BABLETHORPE) made by our forces on 15 September 1944. Destroyers shelled a few gun positions while this took place. The idea was to ward off 30,000 Japs believed on this island while the other attacking force of ours hit PELILEAU. The next day we, that is our ships dropped over to PELILEAU to observe our objectives (ANGUAR) and the following day was "H" day four our group. I've never seen such a bombardment like this before and it was the most spectacular sight to observe. We were going along side of the battleship USS TENNESSEE while all this took place. Cruisers, Destroyers and Battleships of all kinds hit. After and hour, planes dive bombed and the ships concentrated rapid fire on ANGUAR. The island was a complete blanket of smoke except at one point which was being rocket shelled by LCI's. They really can spit out fast. Even the fighter planes strafed with rockets. At 0830, the boys hit two beaches and did not lose one man. In three days, the island of ANGUAR was secured. The only trouble we had was at 1930 one single Jap plane would get within 9 miles and did this every night at the same time. Nuisance raids.
We left the PALAU group on the 21st and headed for Phase Two: Island of ULITHI which was above YAP a short ways. We arrived on the 23rd and found that the Japs had evacuated. They must have done this while we were in PALAU.
ULITHI natives are all Catholics and they greeted the U.S. boys with great hospitality (Very friendly people). The Chief was shot in the leg and his daughter was also wounded. She died two days later.
Left ULITHI on the 23rd of September to New Guinea. Arrived in HOLLANDIA 28 September. Left HOLLANDIA 1 October and arrived in the ADMIRALTIES on the 2nd (MANUS). Left (MANUS) on the 12th for the invasion of the PHILIPPINES. Met Joe (brother) in HOLLANDIA on the 30th. We are heading for LEYTE and "D" day is 20 October 1944. We have the Army 1st Calvary Division on board.
On 20 October 1944 we entered the islands of the Philippines (LEYTE). At 0700, one Jap plane was passing and dropped one bomb at one of our destroyers. Heavy anti-aircraft was thrown up and drove him off. We found out later that our planes caught up with him and shot him down. After bombardment which lasted until 0959 the boys or rather the first wave landed with success. Not much trouble was encountered. In the other force, a Jap plane torpedoed the cruiser USS HONOLULU. Its destiny is not known yet. The plane was intercepted and shot down, The USS HONOLULU, as far as known was hit on her bow and is in pretty bad shape. General Douglas McArthur greeted the Philippine people over the radio saying "I'm back to stay, I have returned."
21 OCTOBER 1944
This morning a group of enemy planes appeared and two were shot down. One dropped a bomb on the Australian cruiser and damaged her superstructure and they say the Captain was killed.
At 1130, and outrigger canoe with four Filipinos appeared from SAMAR and one of our small boats went after it, and towed it to the ship. It had an American flag and a Philippine flag underneath the American flag. One of them was taken aboard for information. They escaped from the Japs located on the island (SAMAR) not yet invaded. Very interesting sight. At 1830 enemy planes appeared again and were driven off by AA fire.
22 OCTOBER 1944
As usual at 0500, a couple of enemy planes appeared. One was shot down and the other driven off. At 1830 they returned again. One came across our superstructure but we did not fire. We have been making smoke every time planes appear and everyone on board seem to be mad at the idea as it hinders the gunners from seeing a plane until it is right on top of the ship. The smoke screen is not effective at all in my opinion. The Captain also dislikes the idea but has to carry out orders from the SOP who is on the USS BLUE RIDGE.
23 OCTOBER 1944
As usual, air raid at 0500 and 1830. This night one BETTY came in on us from the stern straight forward to the bow and so low that it seemed to touch our mast. We did not fire on her. If the forward 40 MM had been told, she surely would have been shot down.
24 OCTOBER 1944
This has been a day I will never forget in all my days. At 0500 enemy planes appeared and were shot at by AA fire, but at 0800, 30 enemy planes were heading our way and all hands went to GQ. They were first sighted by our fighter planes who put at least 5 on fire who came over the mountain toward the ship. One plane slid down the mountain side in a large envelope of flame. Another on fire made a suicide attempt to crash into one of our Liberty ships and succeeded. It rammed forward of the superstructure in flames, starting a fire causing quite a lot of damage. Another plane came in on fire in an attempted suicide and rammed a tug, bounced off her into the engine room of a Liberty ship. Another still burning rammed an LCI and a large fire started which resulted in the sinking of the LCI. Almost the whole crew got off but with sever burns. We received the casualties from the LCI and the Liberty ships. The burns were due to not wearing shirts. This should be a lesson to the boys. These planes seemed to have been set afire and shot down all at the same time. Then the planes came our way and we opened fire on them. The boys almost shot down two of our own fighters who were on the tail of a Betty crossed aft of the superstructure where I was sitting. They sure came close and probably put a few holes in the Betty. The fighters must have gotten her later as they were on top of her. During this, several other Jap planes crossed our bow. We suffered 5 casualties on our ship. The Jap bomber strafed our Flag bridge and wounded 5 of the fellows. They missed the Admiral but got his messenger who was standing along side the Admiral. In fact, the Admiral caught the boy when he fell. One of the suicide planes rammed and sank a tug. The Tug lost 5 men. We have all the casualties on board. We also have the rest of the survivors. About 200 yards off the ship lies one of our Destroyers. Her name is the USS ROSS. She was out on patrol and ran into a mine and to top it off, backed down into another. She was towed in close by a Tug and is still afloat. They are going to pump water and beach her, patch her up and go back as did the Australian Cruiser and the Cruiser USS HONOLULU. All told, it is believed for the days work, both our fighters and our ships knocked down 32 of the Jap Betty's and Vals. Most of them were shot down by our Grumman Hellcats. There is a sea battle going on tonight about 200 miles from here and one report I received was our Carrier planes had already sunk a Jap battleship with torpedoes and damaged a Cruiser.
During the afternoon our bombers were dive-bombing Jap positions here on the island. We have advanced 16 miles to date.
One of our most serious cases died at 2100. He was burned almost from head to foot. His hair was all gone and face swollen.
We went to GQ 5 times today. It really wears a guy down.
25 OCTOBER 1944
General Quarters at 0500. Nothing happened, although there were enemy planes in the vicinity. We secured at 0730 when the boys were about to have breakfast Flash Blue was announced and two minutes later GQ. One Val was seen and was fired on by 5" batteries in the area. He made smoke to let the boys believe he was hit. Last I saw him he was still going. I imagine one of our planes picked him off, as they were in the vicinity. The Val and Betty seem to be Duck bait to our fighters.
Destroyer still afloat. At 0900 about 20 more Jap planes came in. Four dived on ships lying off our port side near the beach. Evidently they missed their target. They are now in the beach area doing damage. Can't tell from here whether our fighters are in there. Its raining now and hard. Can't see a thing. Just heard some more AA fire. We fired our guns again. One plane seemed to be hit and another seemed out of control. Must have hit the pilot. It layed out and rolled over. I guess the other Jap got her under control. What a target she made only the ships were firing at the planes diving in. The crippled Destroyer shot down one Val.
NOTE: Received word the USS PRINCETON (Carrier) had an explosion and was scuttled because the Jap Task Force was too near. Our PT Boats were out last night. Don't know just what damage they did to the Jap Force but they emptied their torpedos and came back in. It is believed that 3 Jap Carriers, 4 Battleships and 6 Cruisers and a number old Destroyers are out there. ADMIRAL HALSEY is moving in for a position. The latest information received was that three Jap planes made suicide dives on 3 Carriers out there and prevented planes from landing or taking off. The planes did come in here and landed on the air strip. Things really seemed grave for all concerned, with a task force out only 60 miles from here. The other Carrier planes did damage to the Japs all day. The latest was that all told 2 Jap battleships were going down and lay dead in the water. One Destroyer sunk and another crippled. "Bull" Halsey and his Third Fleet was chasing another Jap Carrier Force. He sent up four of his fast Carriers to us along with 6 Cruisers.
The air-raids continued all day and one of our small boats (LCVP) got a Zero up on the beach. It seems the Zero attempted to strafe the boys and came just a little to close as they sat in there behind their 30 caliber machine guns and let him have it. They brought back the Red Insignia and were going to bring the Jap back only his body was a mess. The only damage the Japs did a plane came in and crashed into one of the oil dumps on the beach. I saw one dive-bomb an oiler and missed. The two bombs dropped right off the stern of a small boat, Boy, I can just see the fellows in the small boat.
We had six air raids today. The only time of leisure was at 1400 and 1500. All the other was mostly at General Quarters. Zitzman, one of the storekeepers came real close to a slug. It was right through his shirt and down on the deck. Another fellow was wounded by shrapnel in the hand and leg. All told, there are about nine of ours wounded.
Boy, we really have been kept busy for the last two days.
26 OCTOBER 1944
GQ at 0500, nothing happened. I think they bombed inland on the beach. We secured at 0530. GQ was again sounded at 0600 and the planes came in. We and the ships around shot it down. She didn't have a chance. When the plane hit the water, it sank immediately. Well, everyone was happy then and we secured. GQ was again sounded at 0800. Planes came around but were out of range (high flying). The 5" on all the ships fired. One was shot down by the AA fire. One strafed and dropped two bombs close to the Hospital ship. Thank God they missed. The USS MERCY is in taking out casualties.. She left this afternoon. Well, anyway, we finally secured at 0930. Most of the day has been spent at GQ as usual. Planes in and out. Another Destroyer was towed in by a Tug. She was hit in the sea battle out there at sea. This bay by the way is called SAN PEDRO BAY. That makes two crippled Destroyers. (35 dead on this Destroyer). We have been to GQ 5 times today. Only 2 hours of leisure. One Jap plane dropped tin foil to throw off the Radar. It didn't work -- it was shot down. The crippled Destroyer was hit by our own Cruiser when she went in for a torpedo run.
Today a Jap Betty came so close to our stern that the gun crew thought she would hit. It came through the smoke screen and evidently thought she was in a clear spot. The LCI's opened fire and almost hit our ship. The gun crew had to duck in order to avoid being hit.
27 OCTOBER 1944
GQ at 0500. The other force was being attacked. We could see the AA fire from here. We were left alone. Secured at 0800. Up until 1300 we have had little rest. No air attack. GQ set again at 1400. One Jap Val went down. At night another Jap plane was hit. She made a mad dive at one of our Liberty ships and hit her on the after part of the ship setting her on fire. The next day she was low in the water but still afloat. Had a large hole in her. Tonight we received a PC about 120 survivors from the Destroyer Escort USS ROBERTS who were in the sea battle and also a group from the Aircraft Carrier USS CAMBE BAY, which was sunk. We expected 350 more about 2400. They arrived at 0400 on 28 October.
28 OCTOBER 1944
The boys off the Carrier had been in the water for 2 days and nights. They told of how the Japs bracketed her with Battleships, Cruisers and Destroyers and let her have it. The fellows claim that their ship hit the Battleship twice, one in the No. 2 Turret and one in the superstructure.
I stopped writing because I had orders to return to the States for reassignment. I and Steve Danko made Warrant Officer. We got a ride from a Hospital Ship to the ADMIRALTIES and transferred to a converted Luxury Liner out of San Francisco called the LURLINE. We traveled to Australia (Brisbane) and spent a few days there. We were allowed to go ashore and enjoy the City and its offerings. When we left Leyete, there were two PT boat survivors one a Lieutenant (Boat Captain) and the other a LTJG the Executive Officer. We bunked in the same stateroom with them. They told us how they were on a night mission in Lingayen Gulf where some of the Jap Fleet was at anchor. While sneaking at a crawl pace, the crew were told not to shoot until given the command. Well, the gunner behind the machine gun thought the Captain said to "FIRE" as they approached a Jap Cruiser. It was like a BB gun firing at the bridge of the ship. This fire brought on the searchlights from the ships thus making the PT Boat a nice target to shoot at. They were fired on by the Japs and the PT Boat was destroyed. They were able to get the boat close enough to wade ashore. Now what do you think they salvaged from the PT Boat??? It was a case of Canadian Club. That was it nothing else. Most of the crew were killed by the Jap fire. The Captain and his Exec said that they had been waiting a long time for this opportunity to torpedo a large Jap ship.
We helped them drink the Canadian Club all the way to San Francisco. I was reassigned to the USS BERING STRAIGHT AVP34. I joined the ship at SAIPAN. Imagine, they had clubs for the Officers and Chiefs to go to when I got there(nothing like the invasion). We went out on Sea-Air Rescue missions. We picked up several B29 crews while on this mission. We also tended the PBM Mariners who went on the Air-Sea Rescues missions.
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