Christmas ’45


Christmas 1945 aboard the Boston . . . .  by this time two major groups of crewmembers had mustered off the ship and headed back to the States.  The remaining men, on Christmas Day 1945, were only days away from hoisting anchor for the last time in Japanese waters and heading home themselves.  In many ways, this might have been the toughest Christmas aboard the ship  –  so close to leaving, yet still so far away . . .

I think you’ll enjoy this, shared with me by Bob Knight:  x45web

Here’s a couple of faces to match up with the booklet:


L to R:  Norm Bayley (p. 4 “Prizes”) (taken 4/6/12), Pat deFedele (inside rear cover “Songs”) (taken 8/16/10) and Bob Knight, who shares this amazing Christmas Day Booklet with us (taken 12/4/11).  These three men served aboard CA-69 that I had the immense great fortune of meeting, interviewing for the Baked Beans books, and counting them among my friends.  Luckily, they are all still with us!  Merry Christmas, Gentlemen.


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“I thought for sure we were gone.”


. . . 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 holding on and I’m saying ‘Oh my God, we’re going . . .’ and it’s shaking and shaking.  Finally, slowly but surely . . . voom . . . she came back up.  I got off that deck and I flew up the ladder and I went topside and I didn’t go down below again until we were well out of that Typhoon.   (George Pitts)

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 high waves and wind.  I was above the waterline at least 100 feet when I saw a destroyer off the port side in the distance. We did a maneuver and did a 40+° roll.  I fell face down and was holding onto the cat walk 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.’      (Joseph Pulaski)

. . . I started sliding down the deck – this was on the starboard side.  The water was coming over the scuppers  –  in other words the deck was underwater.  I’m sliding down and I don’t know what the hell to do.  I had my hand up in the air like this.  Well, they had put up an inside lifeline before it got too rough, just for people to be able to walk down the deck.  As I’m sliding down, the lifeline hit my hand and I grabbed it.  If I missed, I’d gone right over the side. Once I grabbed the line and the ship rolled back to level, the guys formed a hand-line and the last guy grabbed my hand and I was able to get back up.  That was just an instant thing that happened, and you don’t think about it then, but you do think about it when you get older and you realize how lucky you were to have gotten out of that one.     (Bob Knight)

A few excerpts from Baked Beans Vol 2.  There is much info available online and in books about the so-called “Halsey’s Typhoon”  –  the infamous Typhoon Cobra that sliced through the fleet in its full force on Dec. 17, 1944, damaging most ships.  We lost three destroyers with all hands (800 souls perished in the storm).

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December 6 and 7, 1943


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



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



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

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