Mon. 4-9-45: Rained all day- pay day-collected $30 – pay went to Honolulu. Drank innumerable beers, not a damn bit of hard stuff – Town Tavern and Davis - Just beer [with] Chief Chas. Lang, Chas. Atkins and myself. Got back 6:30 and Vincent PM 1/c treated me to an alky + water – OK!
Tues. 4-10-45: What a ____! I recovered enough to go after mail at noon and got no mail for myself but managed to drink 10 bottles of Schlitz. It was hot and with a squash it went very good. While in the beer line a voice called to me – “Where you from?” “I’m from Lynn!” It was Norm Arthur – a guy I used to sell suit clubs for – he’s in the Marines – all he did was rave about Joe Scotti – the ex-alderman from Beverly. Boy was he burned about him! Called him a shit-turd, ear banger, etc. – claims he bought his rate and had his car down there and let officers use it, etc. What a beaut Scotti is! Got back aboard at 4 P.M. Had a movie at the main deck, “The Panthers Claw.”
Wed. 4-11-45: The movie wasn’t too bad but the mosquitos on deck were fierce! Today we loaded ammo, mostly 40mm in P.M. I went after mail and went for a swim at the Richardson Recreation Center on the base. Had a few beers – got the mail – I got one from Ethel – a screwy one – she meant well though. It got returned for additional postage, too. War with Germany looks like it’s nearing an end – our troops are only 90 miles from Berlin and the Russians are in Vienna. Over here we’re nearest Iwo Jima and nearly Okinawa – we’re still sitting it out here at Pearl Harbor. Must be 50 LST’s and innumerable other amphibs here - Also, hundreds of APA’s, CVE’s, all kinds. Movie tonight “Orchestra Wives” – I saw it at home several years ago.
Thurs 4-13-45: The picture was good, Glenn Miller’s band. I remembered it. Only trouble, it rained intermittently. Today started off with a bang – Reveille and Special Sea Detail at 6 AM. We proceeded to get our stern cable caught in the screws and took us till 11:30 to clear it – a hell of a job and ruined the cable. She also parted the 7” up on the beam. Moved over to another section of the harbor and now we are being readied for another cruise, this one with Seabees to experiment with a new type landing barge to see how fast they can launch them and pontoons – our 20mm mid ship guns are being moved onto the fantail and everything is being changed. We worked like hell all day and I’m pooped. Went after mail but I got none for myself – small amount for the crew. President Roosevelt died today!
Friday 4-13-45: All flags on all ships at half-mast for President Roosevelt. It’s a hard blow for this country now and his vice president Truman! God Help us! Workers have been rigging pontoons and other gear all over the ship. Got no mail today but wrote to Ethel as usual. Saw a bunch of Marines who’d just returned from Iwo Jima – boy were they a tough bunch of boys! Had Jap flags all bloodied and various souvenirs. They were all young boys. Something about them was grim. Iwo Jima was no picnic and casualties were wicked.
Sun 4-15-45: My ass is dragging! A hot, clear, calm day and we worked like hell all day from pre-dawn to 5 P.M. We assisted the Seabees aboard in launching 4- 80 ton pontoons in 9 new method of launching – 4 subbing rollers were welded on deck and 7” lines run around them, then the pontoon was eased out aways before dropping into the water. Previously they were cut loose ad dropped all the way and broke the engines on the pontoons – this way allows then to drop only about half as far – but they still land with a hell of a crash and splash! We had to re-rig all our lifelines and clean up one hell of a mess. The last pontoon was launched at 3 P.M. We finally got the deck and lines all squared away at 4:30 and had a swim off the bow doors. Underway now 8:30 P.M. for P.H. again.
Mon. 4-16-45: Pouring like hell all day. Came back to Pearl at 9 A.M. Tied up at tare #7 West Lock and immediately went after mail. I got none for myself. Slid up to Rec. Center and had 3 hamburgers and 2 beers for dinner and back at ship at 3:30 P.M. Washed some clothes took a shower, wrote my honey, looked at her picture and hit the sack. Don’t know how long we’ll be here this time. Pay day – collected $60, mail + $30 reg pay.
Tues 4-17-45: Same thing. Painted part of fantail on AM and went after mail in PM. Got 3 Times – Mar 12-13-15 and a copy of “The Ice Follies of 1945” sent by Ethel along with the Readers Digest of Feb and a couple “Reads” – no letter. It’s tough to sort all that mail and not get any myself. Had a swim at Richardson Center pool and two beers. Got a haircut aboard ship and hit the sack. Got a note from Sergt. Ed Surels of 389th infantry, cannon co. May meet him in Honolulu tomorrow if I get liberty.
NOTE: There is an Edward Surels who is listed in the Beverly City Directory of 1912.
Wed. 4-18-45: Had liberty today. First went to The Breakers, a Navy recreation Center in Waikiki and drank beer. Had a few pictures taken with Willie Williamson, Ala., Stan Wiezenak, N.Y., Woody Behney, Penna. Back at ship by 6:30. Had a letter from Ethel. She got my pkg I sent two weeks ago but she was very vague about it – wish she’d be more explicit and tell me all.
Thurs. 4-19-45: Still in West Lock. Moved to Tare #17 from #7 at 10 AM. Went after mail. Got 1 letter from Ethel written just a week ago. Nothing special but good to hear from her. Drank 10 beers with Bean from N.Y.
Fri. 4-20-45, Sat 4-21-45: Routine days – painting, mail call, etc. Got no mail from Ethel or anyone – sure wish she’d write.
NOTE: [Missing page(s). His father, Andrew McClary Steele died April 17th of that year. I remember my mother describing my father as having written in the diary daily, except for the six week period after his father died. It appears that he may have written during that time and then decide to remove the pages for some reason, as his entries pick up in the middle of a day’s story.]
Still making flank speed in a moderate sea and are about half was between Pearl Harbor and San Francisco. The Capt. Made the deck gang painted immediately after dinner – no rest. What a slave ship. I got a picture of him lying on the cargo hatch taking a sun bath while his slaves are working around him!
Mon. June 4, 1945: A little rougher and raining. Had men lashing up all new hammocks. Looks like we’ll take on troops at Frisco. Boys also cleared compartments, painted truck ramp and cargo straps in P.M. I developed more pictures. Have made over $30 so far this cruise. Much colder – have to wear foul weather clothes all the time now. Water temp is down to 65 from 84 and air correspondingly colder.
Tues. June 5th, 1945: Cloudy, fairly windy and rough but so far has been a damn good trip for weather. This AM the Capt. had me rig barrel hitches around 10-55 gal barrels of “fog oil”, hoist em out of tank deck onto main deck and then over the side - $500 worth of oil! He couldn’t wait and gave em to someone in Frisco. 12-4 watch in P.M. Developed more pictures – some OK. Will make up a bunch to send home to Ethel. I only hope we have time. Looks like no liberty.
Wed. June 6, 45: Still underway at flank speed. Expect to make Frisco tomorrow night. We had “holiday routine” today. I washed my blues and ironed them this P.M. Had 8-12 and 4-6 and have 4-8 AM watch tomorrow. Moderate sea.
Thursday June 7th, 1945: At 3 A.M. we were hauled out of our sacks. We had turned around and gone from 128° west long. To 130° west long. and 37° north lat. to 35° n. lat. to pick up an injured man. We lowered the starboard LCVP in a rolling sea and went over and got him from YCP “all station weather ship.” The man was badly burned. We got him aboard at 3:45. Tore the machine gun mount out of the small boat caused by the heavy sea. Went 120 miles back. Will delay our arrival by about 20 hours in Frisco. Had holiday routine again. Tried some poker for the 1st time on this ship – up till now – 6 PM. I made $9.00. I’ll give it a whirl tonight – probably be sorry. We got word we will be in Frisco 7 days then going to Seattle, Wash.- rumor though. Cool and cloudy. Expect to get in about 7 P.M. tomorrow.
Friday, June 8th, 1945: Passed under the Golden Gate bridge at 5 P.M., under the Oakland Bay bridge at 5:30 and anchored in the bay. Had liberty from 7 PM till 7:30 AM. Went ashore immediately called Swannie. Went to “Y”, had a shower, read my mail – received 1 letter from June P. [Pickering], 1 from Ma, 1 from Judy, 1 from E. Cressy and 5 from Ethel. Read then at the “Y.” Went our to Swannie’s via trolley (J car), up Market St. (main drag) to 20th St. Had a couple of drinks, chewed the rag and the last of all had a swell connection with Ethel at home! She sounded awful good to me – best long distance all we’d had. I’ve called her from Norfolk, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Los Angeles and San Francisco, so far. Called Dr. Haywood via trans-Pacific phone from Honolulu. Got back to ship at 8 AM.
Sat. June 9, 1945: Went after mail at 1 o’clock. What a madhouse – 651 Brannan St. Lugged mail sack in Trolley cars all over hell. Went out to Federal Building with special mail, right next to where the United Nations Conference is being held. Saw the building and the flags. Got some cards from Ethel. Got back to ship at 4 P.M. Sacked in early. Last night I slept on a divan at Swannie’s apt. – I’ll still take my sack.
Sun. June 10, 1945 – Visited Swannie at her apartment – Henry and his wife came up. They took me to the Rooftop of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. It’s up on a hill overlooking the entire city and bay. All glassed in. Beautiful view. I went with then to Oakland and stayed at their apartment all night and came back on the train over the Oakland Bay Bridge.
Monday, June 11th, 1945: Deck work in A.M. Went after mail in P.M. Finally called Bud Rengman and am going to see him tomorrow.
Tues, June 12th: Had liberty. Made a record and sent it to Ethel. Sent kids 9 Silver Dollars apiece, more cards and stuff. Met Bud at 4 o’clock at the Standard Oil of Calif. bldg. and we went by train to San Leandro where he lives. We had a swell supper, drank a few and talked until 12:30. He drove me back in his car in the AM.
Wed, June 13th: Went after mail, got a letter from Ethel, June 8th. Worked around ship in the AM; hot and clear. Rode street car up Mission St, to 4th, then one to Brannan St. and walked two blocks.
Thurs., June 14th: Had liberty. Worked topside in AM. Saw Bud. Had meal atop the Standard Oil Bld. with him. Also had gen. photographer took our picture on roof. Went to Swannie’s at 5, had supper and she, Henry and wife went to Circus Room in Hotel Sir Francis Drake. We had a couple drinks then went to Andy Wongs in Chinatown. Saw floor show and had some more. Swannie got tight. Henry’s wife is a pain in the ass. Back to ship at 1 o’clock. Not a particularly good evening.
Friday, June 15 – Yesterday I got a letter from Ethel written last Sunday, June 10th. Seems queer she didn’t write Sat. knowing I was here. I miss that girl. God, I wish she was here. Went after mail at 1 o’clock.
Sat 16th: Had liberty. Met Bud at Stan. Oil Bldg. We drove to Fisherman’s Wharf and a beer and sent the kids two turtles. Went out to his house and had a few. Good day.
Sun 17th: Went back out to Bud’s. He had “Open House” and a lot of people came in. Paul Scanlon from Beverly showed up. He’s at Oakland Naval Hospital. Had a few drinks and met a lot of people. Back at ship at 7:30 AM. No mail from Ethel.
Mon. 6-18-45: Another dull day. Had liberty and at first didn’t want it especially, but anything to get off the darn ship. So, went to the “Y” and called Bud and went out to San Leandro again with him – took the bus back at 10 o’clock and that’s that. Bud’s wife is nice and they’re a swell couple. No mail from Ethel again.
Tues, 6-19-45: Ships work in AM. Boy, what ships in this bay – 100’s of PA’s – everything more than Pearl. And 50 PA’s left for Europe to pick up troops. We’re still anchored just below the big Bay Bridge. I had a nice birthday card from Ma.
Wed 6-20-45: Yesterday the weather suddenly cooled off and a heavy fog rolled in. Quite a sight, but it’s very cool – about 55°. I went out to Bud’s again just for lack of anything to do. Hung around till 10 and took a bus back. I’m fed up – wish we’d get moving. No word from Ethel or anyone today except a nice birthday card from June.
Thurs 6-22-45: Went after mail in the morning. Got one from Earle Cressy and one from Ethel. She’s kind of blue, I guess. Worked with my deck force painting the ship’s side. High wind, cold and damp. A strong current runs here all the time, too – a dangerous fate – got it finished at 4:30. Now to write Ethel. How I wish she were here.
Fri 6-22-45: Went after mail in A.M. None from anyone. Had liberty and went out to Bud’s. Played golf at the Lake Chabot Golf Club in Oakland – played pretty good. Hilly course, swell day. Had a good meal at his house and came home. He says he can give me a job with Standard Oil after the war working on a re-fueling barge, work a week on and a week off for $175.00 a month. I wonder how Ethel would like to come out here? I’ll tell her about it. It’s cold and damp in Frisco but clearer inland. President Truman due heare Monday to wind up the United Nations Peace Conference.
Sat. 6-23-45: Went after mail in AM. No main again; must be screwed up, although I hope she’s not writing daily for some reason. Ship’s work in the P.M. Cold here out on the Bay. I’m going to develop a roll of film tonight. Liberty again tomorrow,
Sun. 6-24-45: Had liberty – still no mail from Ethel. A friend of Bud’s drove me all through Golden Gate Park, Cliff House, Fleishacker pool, Seal Rocks, Kezar Stadium. Had a couple beers. Good day – cold though. Back early.
Mon. 6-25-45: Went after mail in AM Got 2 from Ethel, 1 from Judy, cute too! And got 1 from George Chase. Ethel is OK. Nice letters. Worked on ship in P.M. Got word we are going to Mare Island tomorrow to load up, then off to Seattle, Wash. For ? Be there till the 10th of July or longer. Can’t figure out the g.d. Navy!
Tues. 6-26-45: Weighed anchor at 8 AM. Went up the Bay to Mare Island, a big Naval repair base and picked up 2 – 20 ton screws for a cruiser. We are going to take them to Seattle, Wash. They are on the main deck and didn’t bend under the weight! Returned to anchorage at 4 P.M. and went for mail. Got one from Ethel written last Sat. Poor girl is having more than her share of trouble. It isn’t fair her father is sick in the hospital. (I wonder if it might be ulcers.) Judy has the chicken pox. Damn! If I could only help her somehow. Makes me feel lousy to be so helpless.
Wed. June 27, 1945: Happy Birthday – 32 today. Celebrated by riding one hell of a rough cold sea. Underway at dawn and will go for 3 days. It sure is rough. Keep thinking of Ethel. Hope Charlie is OK.
Thurs, June 28, 1945 – Last night the boys gave me a little birthday party. Someone broke out a quart and 16 bottles of beer. We went down in the Bos’n locker and cooked bacon and eggs on a grill. All got a buzz on – Ski, Petree, Stash and Bean and a couple of others. It worked up by plastering me with eggs, flour, mustard and putting me in the shower with all my clothes on. Then they broke out a swell big cake with Happy Birthday on it and gave me a card. It was a swell time and good to feel the guys like me. Today we’ve been underway in the same rough sea. Ski and I had to go up in the middle of the night and tighten up the mast stays. Damn near fell over. We’ve made only 44 miles in 24 hours! It’s going to be a long rough trip. Ship is soaked with spray.
Fri June 29: Underway. Still too rough to work topside. I rigged up a pigeon-hole box for mail in my P.O. in crew’s quarters. Laid around all P.M. Went to flank speed at noon. Spray coming over steadily. May make it by Monday. Wonder how Ethel is getting along.
Sat, June 30, 1945: Underway as before. We picked up some lost time and now expect to get into Seattle between 4-6P.M. tomorrow. Sea has eased off a lot and weather remains clear but very cold – 50° and windy. Rigged new sea painter in AM and painted starboard compartments in P.M. Developed some pictures in ship-fitters shop in evening. Wonder how Ethel’s father is and how she is.
Crew mentioned in this post:
Charles Henry Atkins, Yeoman, 2nd Class
Norman Nelson Bean, Seaman, 2nd Class
Woodrow Wilson Behney, Seaman, 1st Class
Joseph John Dembkowski, Coxswain
Henry Cleveland Petree, Jr., Gunners Mate , 2nd Class
Jack Norris Vincent, Pharmacists Mate, 3rd Class
Stanley Albert Wiecenak, Ships Cook, 3rd Class
Eugene Paul Williamson, Shipfitter, 2nd Class
"Stash", full name unknown.