Sunday, September 25, 2016

The LST 845 Gets Beached on Maui

Wed 4-4-45:  Got underway from West Lock in Pearl Harbor at 9:15.  We rendezvoused with a flock of APA’s, destroyers, D.E.’s and 7 other LST’s – don’t have yet what’s in the wind but will know soon.  It’s hot and fairly calm.  Got 5 new men, all seamen.  Had firing runs right off.  Had 6 – 8 PM and 4 to 8AM watch.

Thurs 4-5-45:  At dawn we formed into line and planes began strafing and bombing a beach on Maui.  We had 7 APA’s (amphibious personnel attack), LCS (Landing Craft Support), LSM (Landing Craft Mechanized), LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) and LSN (Landing Ship Navigation), and proceeded to “take the beach”.  The LCS pumped rockets onto the beach – the APA’s and LCVP’s poured 4 waves onto the beach spearheaded by LCT "Assault Alligators," a heavily armored tank strictly for assault waves.  We moved in (9 LST’s) and laid down a smoke screen – we didn’t beach because we had no load.  In the PM we took aboard 5 “Alligators” at sea and let ‘em out again for practice – Had 4-6 and 12-4 watch.  Hot and muggy all day – moderate sea.

Fri 4-6-45:  Rain and high winds – had 2 hours sleep and G.Q. at dawn got me up quick!  I stayed on the stern anchor all day.  We beached twice – on Green Beach again on the Island of Maui.  The second time the 845 attempted to pull us off but couldn’t do it.  Later she went on herself and damned if she didn’t broach to in the surf just like our small LCVP did 3 weeks ago!  A tug was called for from P.H. and worked all night to get her off.  The surf on that beach is terrific.  We had 700 ft. of our cable out and damn near swung in too.  10 men were caught sleeping in their sacks and got 30 hours punishment duty.  We put [a] small boat in the water once and hope to go back to P.H. tomorrow.  And the next time no leave; we have a load going for business.  Enough of this fooling around!  Miss Ethel and those kids something awful.

Sat. 4-7-45:  Had our first real storm last night.  I had the 8-12 watch and spent two solid hours on the main deck dogging down hatches with a wrench.  The rain came down in torrents and a very high sea and wind was running.  I was completely soaked in 10 minutes.  The foul weather gear was so much like paper!  I took my shoes off and poured the water out.  It was cloudy but no rain this AM.  We first fired at robot-controlled planes all AM and knocked 2 out of 5 down.  Good shooting!  [We are] on our way back to P.H. now.  The 845 on the beach at Maui lost her crane and when it broke loose it tore off two life rafts.  Her seams have cracked and main engine rooms are flooded.  [We] got into Pearl Harbor (for the 4th time) at 3 P.M. and went after mail.  I got 1 sack & lots of air mail.  I got a letter from Earl Cressy, Mr. Beckwith, V-Mail from Judy and 2 from Ethel.  [I also] got 5 copies of the Beverly Evening Times.

Sun 4-8-45:  Cleaned up the ship.  Lowered the repaired LCVP and tested her out; seems OK and doesn't leak.  Holiday routine - I rated liberty but didn't bother with it as Sunday in Honolulu is no damn good.  The bars are closed, stores also.  You can't even hire a pair of tights to go swimming it's so crowed - to hell with it!  At noon I went after mail and got a small bunch, but I did OK.  I got two from Ethel, 3 more Times, one from Ethel Scopel (Swannie) and one from the folks.  Right after mail, Shi, Willie Williamson, Duncan and I went up to the Richardson Recreation Center and stood in the pouring rain for half hour to get a bottle of beer.  It was only open for 1-1/2 hours so we drank it, got to the end of the line to get another one - round and round.  We drank 9 bottles apiece and lugged 10 back in the mail bag.  Had a good move in the tank deck, "Up in Mabel's Room."  It rained all day.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Genea-Jaunt to Neville Island, Pennsylvania; the previous site of Dravo Shipyard.

I had the pleasure, recently of going to Neville Island, near Pittsburgh.  Situated in the middle of the Ohio River just north of the city, it was the site of Dravo Corporation’s shipyard, which played a major role in designing and manufacturing ships for the Navy during WWII.  My father’s ship, LST 899 was launched there on Dec. 23, 1944 and my parents both attended the ceremony.
The company was founded in the 1890’s by brothers Frank and Ralph Dravo, who attended Lehigh University and graduated with degrees in metallurgy and mechanical engineering.  They first built heavy equipment, steel super structures, dams and engineered riverfront improvements.  The company became a leader in waterway projects.

Courtesy of Pennsylvania State Archives

On January 1942, less than two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral S.M. Robinson, Chief of the Navy Bureau of Ships, approached Dravo to design an invasion craft.  With an investment of 12 million dollars, the shipyard was expanded to 64 acres and fitted with state-of-the-art assembly lines which brought high-speed production to ship manufacturing for the first time in history.  Dravo also developed the use of cost-saving horizontal submerged railways, which allowed the shipyard to produce an LST in an average of 6.1 days.  In advance of D-Day Dravo managed to build 16 LST’s in just 6 weeks.

Launching of LST 750 on Memorial Day 1944. Courtesy of Carnegie Library.

The first destroyer escort launched into the Ohio River, the U.S.S. Jenks.

By February 1945, Dravo also had produced 20 sub-chasers and minesweepers, 27 Destroyer Escorts, and 65 Landing Ship Mediums for the war effort, in addition to a large number of cranes, heaters, barges, and tugboats. In terms of manpower, Dravo had expanded its peacetime labor force of 2,300 shipbuilders to more than 25,000 which required more roadbuilding, police, and housing in the area.  The work force toiled around the clock.  Experts agree that without the LST’s the Allied Forces may not have succeeded during the invasion of Normandy.

After the war, the work dwindled and despite the company’s successes, the last division of the company was sold in 1998. Now, there is a Penske’s Truck Rental Company and several scrap yards on the property.

Photo showing the original property lines of Dravo Shipyard. 

View from the eastern side of Neville Island.

View from the bridge of the eastern side of Neville Island

My previous post on the launching of LST 899 with my father’s commentary can be found at:

Sources for this post:  

"Dravo Corporation Historical Marker," Expore PA (

"Original Document: History of the Dravo Shipyard During World War II, 1945, " Explore PA (

Vondas, Laura Baccelli, "Pittsburgh Shipbuilder Produced 'workhorse' of the Navy" for the Tribune Review, 12 Aug 2001, Pittsburgh; citing 

"Dravo Corporation, Pittsburgh PA - Ships/Boats," Shipbuilding History: Construction records of U.S. and Canadian shipbuilders and boatbuilders (

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sentimental Sunday ~ The Taylor Cousins

Left to right:  Joseph Osborne Taylor, Ethel Zylpha Taylor, Norman George Taylor and John Alphonso Taylor.

Cousins and Spouses:  Sydney Irene Smith, Richard Andrew Steele "Dick", Ethel Taylor, Joe Taylor, Marjorie Roberts, Norm Taylor, Charlotte Foster McLoud, John Taylor.

I believe that these photographs were taken at Susan Taylor Richard's home during an anniversary party for John & Charlotte.