Tokyo Rose

1-17-15

“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

1-2-15

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

12-20-14

(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

12-18-14

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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Typhoon Cobra – December 1944

12-17-2014

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the intersection of the infamous Typhoon Cobra and the ships of Task Force 38 and service ships of TF 30 (tankers and support vessels)  east of the Philippine Archipelago.   The following is excerpted from Frank Studenski’s War Diary:

December 17, 1944:   Today we left the area and tried to refuel, but the weather was too bad, we are running into a typhoon.  The weather is getting bad, the sea is very rough and the wind is picking up.  We have all loose gear lashed down and an inboard life line was put up on the main deck.  For lunch we had sandwiches and coffee.  By late this afternoon the wind picked up to 60 knots.  Some of the ships, especially destroyers are having trouble keeping on station.  I had to secure myself with bunk straps to keep from falling out of my bunk.  I did not get much sleep because of the rolling and pitching.  We are making rolls of 30 degrees or more.  The waves are twenty feet high.  I am not getting any sleep and most of the other people are not getting any sleep either.

December 18, 1944:  This morning the weather is really bad.  Some of the destroyers are low on fuel and the sea is so bad they can not fuel from the tankers.  The CVE’s are having a lot of problems, planes are breaking loose in the hangar deck and starting fires.  The carrier Independence reported two men overboard. The carrier Monterey has a fire in her hangar deck and can only  make five knots.  The sea looks like mountains; no one can walk straight.  Quite a few men were hurt by the rolling of the ship.  Sandwiches and coffee were served for dinner and supper.  We made a roll of 46 degrees, which is past the danger point.  We lost one of our planes over the side from the force of the wind.  No one is allowed on the main deck – it is under water every time we roll.  The battleship Massachusetts is dead in the water.  The winds picked up with gusts of 93 knots.  Some of the destroyers report they are in danger of capsizing.  Besides the loss of one plane, we also have 20mm gun tub damage.  We were pretty lucky.  The height of the waves must be 30 to 40 feet.  About 35 men were washed over the side, most of them from the carriers.  We received some bad news, two destroyers were lost in the storm, Spence and Hull, two other destroyers are missing, some survivors were picked up. The winds picked up by late afternoon to over 100 knots.  The sea is a little calmer and by 2400 then winds died down.  I did not get to sleep tonight.  I want to stay awake in case the ship rolls over.

steve

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