December 6 and 7, 1943

12-6-16

December 6, 1943:  This morning the coastline of Oahu Island came into view, with Diamond Head standing out above the horizon.  On entering Pearl Harbor we passed through torpedo nets, that are opened and closed by tugs.  This is a beautiful island with high mountains in the background.  We passed through the channel into the large bay filled with ships at anchor or tied to piers.  Ford Island is on one side and the repair yard is on the other.  On our way in signs of the attack could still be seen.  The Battleship Oklahoma was afloat but at a 45° angle and still pumping water out of her.  The water and shoreline was covered with a lot of oil.  We tied up alongside the concrete piers, which is called Battleship Row, alongside Ford Island.

The Arizona is alongside the pier, on the inboard side, looking over the side we can make out the outline of the hull and Turret 1 and 4 still have the 14″ guns on board.  A lot of oil is seeping out of the Arizona.

December 7, 1943:  Today is the second anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack and this is our second day in Pearl.  We are tied-up alongside the sunken Arizona.  Tomorrow we will have our first liberty.  We will be going out every week for three or four days for practice firing.    (Frank Studenski)

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.   (George Pitts)

When we first got to Pearl Harbor, when we were first going through the channel, I remember that you could see oil bubbling up, and it looked like smoke here and there.  We tied up next to the Arizona, and you could look down and see it lying there.            (Bob Knight)

 

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First Week in December

12-3-16

WHERE WAS THE BOSTON DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER?

1942:  In USS Steel’s Fore River Navy Yard, Quincy, MA  –  being built

1943:  December 2-5, 1943  We continued training exercises, firing at towed sleeves and radio controlled aircraft.  We are also having classroom instruction in plane identification.  The use of the Sperry Director for 40mm anti-aircraft firing.  Tomorrow we will arrive at Pearl Harbor, almost two years to the day, on the Jap attack at Pearl Harbor.  (Frank Studenski)

1944:  November 22 – December 8, 1944   We spent 18 days here [in Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island in the Admiralties] for minor repairs and a new paint job.  We will be leaving tomorrow.  (Frank Studenski)

1945:  OCCUPATION DUTY.   The remaining crew would spend Christmas aboard the ship, anchored in the harbor at Kure (Honshu.)  Frank Studenski mustered off the ship in the “Second Batch” on December 26, 1945. He traveled to San Francisco [20 days] on the attack transport USS Elkhart. He had six days liberty at Treasure Island and went home via DC-3 to LaGuardia (17 hour flight back then.)  he was discharged 3 days later from the Lido Beach (Long Island) Separation Center.

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Goin’ Home

Veterans Day, 2016

1-pitts

pitts2

(If you’re reading this and don’t know who George Pitts was, read the Baked Beans books.)

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Operation King II

11-5-16

The US Navy’s contribution to freeing the Philippines from their Japanese Occupation began in earnest on September 1, 1944, when Task Force 58 became TF 38, systematically attacking enemy positions, and supporting a whole series of Landings across the Archipelago by Marines and Army troops. For all intents and purposes, Operation King II ended on November 11, 1944 when the fleet anchored in Ulithi.

Can someone give that crazed revisionist Filippino President Duterte a history book, please?

Anyway, at the end of October 1944, Japanese defensive strategy, Operation Sho Go 1 was implemented and developed into The Battle for Leyte, (also known as the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea.) The battle developed over several days and is generally though of as having four distinct actions: Sibuyan Sea, Surigao Strait, Cape Engano, and the Battle off Samar.  Part of the plan called for Admiral Ozawa to cruise south with a task group of (mostly) carriers in order to lure Halsey into breaking up TF38 so that he could steam north to engage the carrier fleet.  Naturally, Halsey took the bait and did exactly that.  History shows that his decision, sometimes derisively called The Battle of Bull’s Run didn’t change the course of the War much, one way or the other.

Masanori Ito had this to say about the outcome:  RUINOUS DEFEAT   The  Japanese defeat at the battle of Leyte Gulf was indeed miserable.  Losses came to 3 battleships, 4 aircraft carriers, 9 cruisers, 13 destroyers and 5 submarines, for a total of 34 ships; while the enemy lost only four.  The score was one-sided to an extent rarely seen in warfare.  It was complete revenge for Pear Harbor.

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Norm Bayley

10-22-16

Readers of my book will recognize the Commanding Officer of the USS Boston Marine Detachment, Norm Bayley. Norm joined the ship late in the War. For a refresher on Norm’s story, check out Vol 3 of Baked Beans.

Norm was a student at Santa Clara University, when his pal, Will McDonough talked him into signing up for the Marine Corps Reserves. Norm was asked several times where he wanted to serve, always answering “Air Corps.” After his training in Camp Pendleton, he found himself aboard a cruiser, bound for the invasion of Guadalcanal. He endured all the horrors that unfolded on that island. Once there, he learned that his pal McDonough (who was actually in the Air Corps), was one of the pilots on Guadalcanal. Japanese ships bombarded the island every night, and one night the saw the distant airfield go up in a massive fireball. He lost his best friend in that attack.

Norm Bayley (r) A rare quiet moment in Guadalcanal

Norm Bayley (r) A rare quiet moment in Guadalcanal.  Photo compliments of Norm’s grandson, Patrick Masson

Norm contracted malaria. His condition was so bad they shipped him off to New Zealand, from whence his body would be shipped back to the States. Miraculously, he did not die in New Zealand, and eventually found himself in an experimental malaria treatment facility in Klamath Falls, Oregon. All the while the Boston was engaged in the many battles of the War in the Central Pacific, Norm fought off bout after debilitating bout of deadly malaria.

And you wonder why they got Malaria . . . in foxholes, up to their shorts in rainwater.

And you wonder why they got Malaria . . . in foxholes, up to their shorts in rainwater.  Norm’s photo, compliments of his grandson, Patrick Masson

Finally deemed “fit for duty,” Norm was assigned to the Boston, replacing the CO of the Marine Detachment. In July of 1945, Norm flew to Pearl Harbor, then to Kawajalein where he boarded one of the Service Ships of TF 30, steaming east to join up with Task Force 58 in their final push against the Home Islands of Japan. (For Norm’s remarkable stories, take a few minutes to re-read about Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Surrender of the Kamikaze Training Base at Katsuura in Baked Beans Vol 3). Norm played significant roles in the Occupation of Japan, including setting up a major Marine Base Camp at Kure. {Someday, I hope to add a Vol. 4 to Baked Beans – focusing just on Occupation Duty.}

September 1945, Officers of the USS Boston accept surrender of Sasagama Chiba, Japan.  Norm Bayley (seated r)

September 1945, Officers of the USS Boston accept surrender of Sasagama Chiba, Japan. Norm Bayley (seated r)

Norm Bayley, (l) in his cabin on the Boston, judging "prettiest girlfriend" contest, in Japanese Waters, Christmas 1945

Norm Bayley, (l) in his cabin on the Boston, judging “prettiest girlfriend” contest, in Japanese Waters, Christmas 1945

Norm Bayley turned 99 last week.

steve

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