Sunday, April 7, 2013

War Diary - Post Four - Maneuvers Off Maui

Thurs. 3/15/45:  Bright, sunny, windy as hell and rough but warm.  We are out about 25 miles off the islands maneuvering with the other 3 LSTs – at 9 AM had General Quarters (GQ) man battle stations and had firing AA practice at 2 TBF’s, [torpedo bomber aircraft] towing targets.  Our 20 & 40 MM’s fired 4 rounds a piece – good gunnery.  I have been placed in charge of Repair Party #2 since I got promoted in rate from Cox to BM 2/c.  I formerly fired the 20 MM #20-12 beside the wheelhouse.  I like to fire and was doing swell but as Boatswains mate I have to be in charge of a Damage Control Party and stand by ready to call to any damage, fire, etc. that might occur during battle.  At 11AM the LST 867 took is in tow – they passed over a 21 thread “messenger” via a line–throwing gun and we hauled it aboard thru our bull-cock on the bow and hooked on their stern anchor cable to our towing bridle.  Then they heaved in and towed us awhile - very rough and windy.  Right after chow we towed them.  Because of the high wind our gunner-mates missed 5 times with the line throwing gun and we had a near collision with the 867.  We finally got our cable over to them and when they got ready to let go, the ____ cut our line.  We consequently lost 100 ft of 2” line and 100 ft. of 21-thread.  We’ll have to see them in Pearl Harbor and get it back.  Went on watch, 12–4 and 8–12 PM. and got a beautiful tan.  I wrote a page to Ethel and George Chase, my sister’s boy and Marine at Tinion Island.  Maybe I’ll see him out there someday.

Friday-3/16/45:  Underway as before.  Dawn found us off the Island Maui and others of the Hawaii Islands; all mountainous and beautiful.  In the AM we beached twice.  On the 2nd beaching we let out 750 ft. of cable and I was getting ready to get to fell away from the winch with only 100 ft left we stopped it.  The #17 got stuck high and dry on the beach and we weren’t able to pull her off until 3 P.M.  All the ships then anchored in the lagoon.  Bow doors were let down and all hands had a swim – my first in the Pacific.  We were anchored in 12 fathoms (72 ft) of water and the water was so clear it looked as though it was only 10 feet deep, and warm! 75 degrees – had a swell swim!  The weather was warm, windy and mostly dandy today.

Sat. 3/17/34:  I made out another allotment for Ethel yesterday for an additional $20.  This will give her $145 a month.  Today has been a routine day – ship handling mostly a workout for signalmen.  The deck force painted the tank deck dull red before we get back to Pearl Harbor and get another load up?? I fixed the stern anchor cable today.  I put seizing on throat next to anchor.  Windy, warm and clear.  4-6 and 12-4 watch tonight.  Still maneuvering off the islands with the 867, 876, 17 and 844.

Sun 3/18/45:  What a day! After some firing runs in the morning and some mooring exercises with the 676, we anchored about 1 PM and the Capt. allowed 25 men to go ashore in the small  LCVP (Landing Craft Vehicle & Personnel) – we carry two, port & starboard.  They weigh 2800 lbs. empty. [Several sources state they actually weight 18,000 lbs. empty - that measurement my father had might have been in KG's.] We went to a beautiful beach called Green Beach on the Island of Maui in the Hawaiian group.  The beach was of coarse, yellow sand that looked white from offshore and under water. It was a big half-moon beach with a huge hill of lava at each end and beautiful palm trees all around it.  The bottom was clear and spotted with coral patches and black sand areas.  We landed with the port boat and drove right up on the beach, let down the bow doors and went ashore.  The boat backed off and we went for a swim and then set out to look the beach over.  It was about 1 mile from end to end.  We picked up coral, shells and pieces of lava for the kids and were enjoying ourselves when suddenly, Mr. Kimber, the assistant deck officer (age 20) called us to get back to the ship and we started for the 2nd boat which had come to get us.  The boat Coxswain breached the boat in the heavy surf and we immediately started to struggle to get its stern on into the surf.  When we got to the boat she was about 30 degrees angle to the beach with the engines still running and the screws turning.  I was leading P.O. and boatswain and suggested to Mr. Kimber to put the other LCVP’s anchor line under and around the stern and pull the breached boat off the beach.  Mr. Kimber who is a small boy in size was extremely excited and running around like a madman.  When I suggested we put the line on the stern, he informed me to “Keep my goddamn mouth shut and push this boat out”, which, I and several others knew was absolutely wrong.  I could have and as results proved, should have argued with him and insisted we pull the stern out first.  All the time, the surf was pounding the hell out of the boat and lifting it higher on the beach.  After pulling, trying to get it off, the line parted and the #2 boat hurried back to the ship and came back with a 6” hawser and a handy-billy pump to try and pump out the breached boat.  We finally pulled her off and the port side was all bashed in.  We tied her to the #2 boat and went out about 50 ft off shore.  I was standing waist-deep bailing with a bucket while Mr. King (the lst Lt. who came back with the other boat) tried to get the handy-billy started.  She was settling fast and just as the damn pump started she went under.  I had to cut the lines holding her to the other boat and jump and swim clear.  I swam a 6” hawser (Thank God I can swim well) to shore and secured it to a pillbox and palm tree that was one of many such on the beach (also barbed wire strung along).  Finally, the big ship beached alongside the wreck and the Capt. was really sore – I can’t blame him.  We led a 7” line to the wreck, also a 1” steel cable.  I dove 4 times and fastened a shackle onto a ring bolt and the side and the deck winches pulled her up onto the beach.  We uprooted a tree that we had the hawser around and nearly tore up another palm tree.  We finally pulled her in the barn doors with the snaking winch in the tank deck and secured about 10 o’clock.  I then had to heave in the stern anchor and raise the other small boat aboard and finally got secured at 10:45 P.M.  Just then, the Capt. called for Chief Pearsall, Corbett, Frye, Iovenette, Remein, Peters, Patten, McLeod, Demkowski and I to report to his room immediately.  We expected to catch hell for losing the boat, although all we had done was to try to save it.  He said, “Sit down”.  Then he broke out 3 qts. of  rye whiskey, 1 Seagram’s, 1 Crown and 2 Schenley’s Black.  He said, “Go ahead boys, you earned it!”  We did.  It evaporated in 10 minutes and we slept “tight”.  As a result of it all, Mr. Kimber is awaiting a summary court martial; also, Tannenbaum, the boat Cox who breached the boat in the first place.  I don’t believe they’ll be fired quietly and I hope not.  They both tried to do right, although they went at it wrong.  Mr. Kimber lost his head and damn near got killed when he got thrown off the boat by a big breaker white trying to save it.  We’ll probably get a new boat when we go to Pearl Harbor on Tuesday.  A fellow named Murphy, from New York is also awaiting summary court from slugging a 2nd class cook in the galley.  Quite a day!

[Sandy’s note:  I was able to locate the Muster Rolls for LST 899.  The men mentioned in the diary are all listed on the initial Muster Roll at the ships commissioning.  There full names and initial rank are as follows: Kenneth Martin Pearsall, Chief Motor Machinist Mate; Henry Eugene Corbett, Motor Machinist Mate, 1st Class; William Edward Frye, Fireman, 2nd Class; Mario Andrew Iovenette, Gunner’s Mate 1st Class; Frederick Remein, Seaman 2nd Class; Isaac Mervin Peters, Seaman 2nd Class; Orville Frederick Patten, Ship Fitter, 1st Class; Richard Andrew Steele, Coxswain; Joseph John Demkowski, Coxswain; William Lucien MacLeod, Fire Controlman, 3rd Class; Daniel James Murphy, Seaman Second Class; Daniel Tannenbaum, Seaman 2nd Class; Joseph S. Kimber, Duty Ensign; William F. King, 1st Lieutenant.  The Captain was Albert H. Thornton.]

No comments: