From our friendly Emerald Necklace Conservancy (Boston) docent, Lola Heiler-Stillman, comes this “heads-up” about her upcoming presentation about the Temple Bell at UMass Boston:

Hi Steve – sending you some info on my latest presentation on the bell to be held at UMass Boston Harbor Campus sometime in March.  It is a “brown bag presentation” for the Osher Life Long Learning Institute (OLLI). . . . .   Will also have an info table with books, etc. including yours and a newly published one “Monumental Beauty” by Ted Lollis.

From the Course listing:

How a Token of WWII Became a Symbol of World Peace   The story of Boston’s 340-year-old Japanese temple bell from the Manpuku-ji Temple is a tale of two cities—ancient Sendai and modern Boston; a journey from war to peace; from tragedy to hope. One of 500 sacred Buddhist bells discovered by occupation forces in 1945 at an imperial naval shipyard foundry near Tokyo, the bell escaped the fate of an estimated 75,000 temple bells melted down for armaments during the war. Brought to U.S. shores by the USS Boston in 1946, it was presented to the city of Boston in celebration of Navy Day. Seven years later, the Temple Believers of Manpuku-ji formally donated it to citizens of Boston in the name of friendship and world peace. As a bonsho bell, Boston’s bell has links to a historic and sacred tradition—the post-war tolling of Japanese bells for world peace that began with Hiroshima’s peace bell on August 6, 1947 and Nagasaki’s on August 9, 1947. It continued in 1954 with the installation of the United Nations peace bell, followed in 1982 by the founding of the World Peace Bell Association (WPBA) that has donated 22 replica UN Peace Bells to major cities all over the world. In an era of global uncertainty and instability, the story of the bell contains a hopeful message of world peace.


How a Token of WWII Became a Symbol of World Peace
Facilitator: Lola Heiler-Stillman
Location: UMass Boston


Thanks, Lola, for reaching out to me so I could pass this on to the readers of this blog.


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Tokyo Rose


“Tokyo Rose” is the name Allied troops and sailors applied to English speaking female broadcasters of anti-American “morale-buster” propaganda aimed at them during WWII.  The most famous (or infamous) Tokyo Rose was Iva Toguri D’Aquino, a native Los Angelino, who by fate was visiting her parents in Japan when the War broke out.  After the war, she was tried as a traitor and released from prison in 1956.  While her story is fascinating, it is something perhaps for a future blog.

The Philippines Campaign that started on September 1, 1944, was still “in operation” by mid-January, 1945. Halsey sent Task Groups 38.1 (the Boston’s group) and 38.2 into the South China Sea on January 9, 1945.  He believed the bulk of what was left of the Imperial Japanese Fleet was anchored somewhere in French Indo China  –  most likely in CamRahn Bay.  On the night of January 9, the combined task groups slipped through the precarious and turbulent Bashi Straits (between Formosa and Luzon). CA-69 was the first heavy ship in line as they sailed into The South China Sea.

Excerpted from Baked Beans, Vol.2:    We were going through a narrow channel (Bashi).  We were the first ship of the formation in and the last one out. We heard Tokyo Rose that night say, ‘USS Boston, we know where you are and you are never going to come back.’ She said, ‘turn around now and go back.’   Bob Knight

I remember her (Tokyo Rose) well.  She was very funny.  Once when we were eating breakfast, she was broadcasting and giving us the news.  All of a sudden, she says, ‘Oh, I have to tell you this. The fleet has lost one of its ships . . .’  All our ears perked up. ‘The Boston is gone.’  She was very entertaining!  She gave news, played music, and when we were out in formation, she’d say this ship is sunk or that ship is sunk – and of course we could look out and they were right next to us.  She was, of course, trying to demoralize us.   Julian Goldstein

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the Arizona


On December 6, 1943, the USS Boston entered the protected anchorage at Pearl Harbor for the first time.  It was a day shy of two years after the infamous sneak attack on the American fleet by Japanese carrier planes.  The men were shocked to see great ships still on their sides, still leaking oil . . .  With the help of tugboats, they slipped into their new berth  –  a spot they would have for almost two months as they trained with other ships (Task Force 58 was being born) before heading off on their long route to Japan.

The men were not prepared for the sight they encountered as the ship slipped into berth position  . . .   they were right next to the sunken Arizona  – her superstructure and big gun turrets sticking up out of the water.  A thousand dead sailors rested in the deep below-deck places underwater, from whence heavy oil constantly bubbled up.

They stayed there until January 19, 1944.

George Pitts, signalman aboard the Boston, told me this (when I asked him what he remembered about liberty leaves while they were in Pearl Harbor): Pearl Harbor was positively a Liberty Town.  It was a sailor’s haven.  Barrooms were everywhere.  Tattoo parlors were everywhere.  Club dancers everywhere.  You could get a milkshake . . . they had ice cream and stuff . . . movies . . . you could go horseback riding, which I did one day.  That was a mistake because I never knew anything about horses, and this horse knew that I didn’t know anything and he ran all over the place and I’m just holding on.  And what did he do?  he ended up running right back where he came from.  He got rid of me! (chuckles).  And of course there were recreation fields.  You could play softball which we did at times; horseshoes, etc.  There was plenty to do there.

When we first arrived, it was hard to believe two years had passed since the December 7th attack.  The Arizona was ghastly looking and some of the other ships were still half-sunk.

Unfortunately, George is recovering from a serious bout of pneumonia.  I’m told he is now resting at home.  Get well soon, George!

Happy New Year, everyone.

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Still More Cobra


(From Frank Studenski)

December 19, 1944:  This morning we met the tankers and refueled, a couple of DE’s [Destroyer Escorts] are also missing. After fueling we started looking for survivors.  Te smaller ships are picking up survivors.

December 20, 1944:  This morning we are back in the area where the ships were lost.  The carriers are launching planes for an extensive search of the area.  This morning one of the planes from the Yorktown reporting three destroyers about 80 miles south of us.  Two of the destroyers are dead in the water and the other is making about five knots.  Another destroyer has been reported lost, the Monaghan.  planes continue to search the area.  Tonight we are heading back to Luzon for a one day strike, before going back to port.  During the night orders were cancelled, on account of bad weather, the typhoon was just ahead of us.  We are heading back to Ulithi, we will be in port for Christmas.

Julian Goldstein (from Baked Beans Vol. 2):

We’re going along and the ship is going up and down.  At some point in this horrific storm, I looked over the side and there was this destroyer, this one destroyer, and it was going up and down and I watched it.  All of a sudden, it went up, then it went down and it disappeared.

That brought a nightmare to me.  When I first got married . . . ‘course I lost my wife just six years ago . . . she used to shake me out of some horrible dreams.  I used to shout out in  my sleep.  Occasionally, I recall it.  Even now, I sometimes wake up from a horrible dream  –  no, a nightmare is what it is.  I sometimes see it happening in my dreams.  I finally have gotten over it after all these years, without any medical help.

Joseph Pulaski (from Baked Beans Vol. 2):

I was alone on watch at night on Quad 7 standing on the back part of the after stack as protection from the 100 foot waves and wind.  I was above the water line at least 100 feet when I saw a destroyer off the port side in the distance.  We made a maneuver and did a 40 plus degree roll.  I fell face down and was holding onto the catwalk steel mesh and was actually able to see the water as we rolled.  I started to pray that we would be safe.   The ship rolled back to the starboard side and I called Fire Control and asked where the destroyer was,  I was told, “Joe, it sank.”

I thought we were done and our ship would be next as I continued to pray.  The ship was watertight in integrity so all the hatches were closed.  I was one of the few guys above deck.  I continued my watch (four hours total.)  I remember some survivors were picked up by our ship.

And, last but not least, Bob Knight sent me this this morning:

USB Marcus Island

All the ships afloat suffered some damage in the typhoon.  The Boston was no exception, although her damage was light compared to many others.  In all, three destroyers sank and more than 800 men perished during “Halsey’s Typhoon.”



Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year to all our friends and readers    –   no matter what you celebrate  . . .   ENJOY!

Steve and Bill,

sons of a sailor


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More Cobra


Original crewmember Bob Knight posted this comment today about THE Typhoon:

How well I remember that time.  I was in radio 2 in the after superstructure when a call came from radio 1 that a receiver was breaking loose and send someone to help. The officer in charge in radio 2 looked at me and said, “Knight, take care of that”.

I had to go below decks to make my way forward to the forward superstructure. When I was a the base of the ladder to go up to radio one was when we took that 46 degree roll. I had my toolbox in one hand, and with other held on to to a pipe attached to the bulkhead.
I was 3 or 4 decks below the main deck level and looked up and saw the waves. We were that far over. Fortunately we were at the wave crest, so the ship righted and we were ok, for then. I went on to secure the receiver.

That was something I remember vividly, even today.

Bob Knight

Bob is featured throughout the Baked Beans series  –  his remembrances and stories added a breath of life into the amazing tale of the heavy cruiser Boston.  I am honored and privileged to have met and gotten to know Bob, my father’s shipmate.  Bob is a reader of this blog, and he is still happy to share his insights with all of us.

From Baked Beans Vol. 2:

Here’s something I remember.  Our sleeping quarters were on the very stern end of the ship. My bunk was over the four screws that propel the ship.  You get used to the noise when it’s normal.  But when you get into a storm and the ship is pitching, the screws come out of the water.  You talk about vibrating the ship!  You got up and went topside.  No way in hell you could sleep.  The ship, during all this floundering around, I’m down below in  my bunk and there was nothing you could do  –   so you had to lay in your bunk and try and relax.  And the goddamn ship turned like this  –  a 46 degree roll  –   now fifty would be sideways.  It got to 46 degrees and the whole ship started trembling.  My whole life flashed before my eyes.  I was knocked out of my bunk.  I couldn’t get up because the ship is sideways.  So I’m just holding on and I’m saying, Oh my God, we’re going . . . .”  and it’s shaking and shaking and shaking.  Finally, slowly but surely . . . voom . . . she came back.  I got up off that deck and flew up that ladder and I went topside and I didn’t go back down below until we were well out of that typhoon.  I thought for sure we were gone.  I really did.  That was quite a time, that was.  And I had put some pretty good duty in the North Atlantic through some pretty tough situations –  but, boy, that typhoon  –  there was nothing like that.

George Pitts

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