Panama Canal 1943


In the diaries of Frank Studenski and George Pitts, there are discrepancies as to the exact date the ship passed through the Panama Canal.  There are many explanations for why this happened, and the fact is that it does not matter.  The ship left Boston for the last time on Nov. 14 (1943) and they ate Thanksgiving Day dinner off the coast of California (heading for San Francisco).

Battleship approaches lock in Panama Canal

Battleship approaches lock in Panama Canal

George Pitts remembered this about the Canal:   One of the things that I remember is as you go through the Canal – you know, they fill it with water and the ship will rise – but the thing I remember the most is that all along it there were theses tiny islands filled with all kinds of shrubbery and they were loaded with monkeys. There were thousands of them! As you were going along these monkeys were jumping all over the place. And of course, there were all kinds of birds. The whole thing was quite impressive. The ship was big and it barely fit – cleared only by inches.

It took at least an entire afternoon to cross the Canal, maybe even more. It took quite a while before we hit Balboa and parked for the night. We went ashore one night and I didn’t think much of it. Then, of course, we just hovered along the coastline til we got to Frisco.


On this sad day, November 14, 2015, when the World’s Crazy Index went off the charts, all I can say is: Vive Le France.


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Mid November, 1943


After months of shakedown cruises up and down the east coast, the Boston was finally ready to go.  On November 14, 1943, the heavy cruiser and her crew left Boston for the last time during the war.

From Frank Studenski’s War Diary:  November 14, 1943:  This snowy morning we cast off all lines and eased out from the pier with the help of tugs and headed out to sea and the Atlantic Ocean.  Our departure was saddened by an accident, one man was killed while handling lines and was buried at sea the next day.  Cruising off the east coast we spent hours at anti-aircraft drills every day.  Our second day at sea was one looking forward to the combat zone.  The weather is getting warmer everyday as we cruise south.

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A lull in the Action 10/29 to 11/1/44: A few days in Ulithi


The Boston was several months into the operations to win back the Philippines by the end of Oct. 1944, and would be in related combat until February of 1945, when they left area to support the landings on Iwo Jima.

October had been a really rough month: highlights include the Battle off Formosa and the Crippled Cruiser Adventure, followed immediately by the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea.

A couple of random “Lagoon Liberty” items:

The men enjoy Happy Hour on the fantail while at anchor. (National Archives photo)The men enjoy Happy Hour on the fantail while at anchor. (National Archives photo)Lagoon swimming off the USS BostonLagoon swimming off the Boston. (National archives photo)

Also, I’d like say Happy Birthday to Norm Bayley.  The C O of the Marine Detachment aboard the Boston turned 98 on Oct. 17.


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The Big Stick – USS Iowa, BB61


Michael Harker, son of crewmember James D. Harker, sent me these great shots of the battleship Iowa  –  restored and in residence as a floating WWII warship museum in San Pedro, CA (next to Long Beach, CA)

Iowa 2Iowa 3Iowa 4Iowa 5The USS Iowa participated in the same Task Force 38 and TF 58 operations as the Boston.  While they weren’t in the same Task Groups, they were in the same bombardment groups, especially in the Home Island Raids at the end of the War.  Sailors on both ships could share horror stories of riding out the deadly Typhoon Cobra in December of ’44.

A few distinctions between Battleships and Heavy Cruisers:

The Iowa was 887 feet long.  A city block (varies in length, depending on the city) generally averages 300-325 feet.  The Iowa is more than 2 1/2 city blocks (including the cross street width) long.  The Boston was 673 long: more than 2 city blocks (plus intersection).

The Iowa was built to hold 2,600 men, the Boston 1,200 men.

The Iowa’s biggest guns: 16 inch (see last picture).  The Boston’s biggest guns: 8 inch.

Visiting the Iowa is on my short bucket list.  Thanks, Michael, for sending in these great pictures.

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Paul S. Koscielny, S2c


(on this date in 1945:  Sailors aboard the USS Boston learn that despite the fact that three days earlier the Document of Surrender was signed aboard the Missouri, they would not be going home.  The Boston became one of the lead ships in post-war Occupation Duty, staying in Japanese waters until early January 1946.)

Paul Sylvester KoscielnyPaul’s time aboard the Boston:

He mustered onto the ship while she was anchored in the lagoon at the Marshall Island atoll of Majuro, just prior to the Marianas Operation (Forager) and the upcoming Battle of the Philippine Sea.  He left the ship on Nov. 11, 1945

Photo submitted by Paul’s niece, Barbara Koscielny-Baird.

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