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Though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.-- Sun Tzu
In January 1944, my twin brother, Donald, and I finally persuaded Mama to sign the papers so we could volunteer for the Navy instead of waiting to be drafted into the Army. The papers were signed about 9:30 a.m. on January 22, l944, and at 2:00 p.m. on the same day, we left Brownwood, Texas on our way to Abilene, Texas for testing and a preliminary physical exam.
March 11, 1945. We are at fleet anchorage after returning from Iwo Jima, and Japanese areas. 2000 hours. I had just been relieved from watch in Rdo1, which is our main radio room in the Island structure, and had started walking aft on the flight deck. My rack, and also my GQ battle station, was Rdo#3. Radio 3 was a small emergency transmitter room on the Gallery deck, just under the flight deck, starboard side above the fan tail.
The [heavy cruiser USS] Indianapolis [CA-35] had come to the Navy Yard, Mare Island [in San Francisco Bay] in early May 1945, to get heavy underwater damage repaired from a Kamikaze [Japanese suicide aircraft] hit that she took in [the Battle of] Okinawa on 30 March . We had more time there than anticipated and knew that we were due back in the forward area at the earliest practicable date.
Note: Recollections of Captain Charles B. McVay, III, USN, Commanding Officer of USS Indianapolis (CA-35). 6491 Reads
27.4.41 A fast trip with a couple of alarms brought us to Suda Bay, Crete. Arrived about noon and had a 3 mile walk to a rest camp. Did not enjoy it. 30.4.41 Today we received permission to send a cable advising "All well". I hope it reaches its destination in double quick time. Many times during the last few weeks we have realised how much the people in N.Z. must have been worrying, particularly on Anzac Day.
Berlin, or Big "B", as we called it, was a target that no one wanted to go to and a target that everyone wanted to go to. It seemed that everyone wanted to participate in a raid on Berlin because bombing big "B" was really striking at the heart of Nazi power and it was, in a way, retribution for the bombing of London, Rotterdam and other major cities.
V-Mail , June 1944:
"The O.W.I. has given you more information about the historic D-Day than we could hope to include in one letter.
The Naval Combat Demolition Units were charged with the responsibility of clearing sixteen 50 yard gaps on the beaches assigned to that force. They worked in conjunction with the Army engineers who were charged with the responsibility of clearing the shoreward obstacles.
Note: by Lieutenant Commander Joseph H. Gibbons, Commanding Officer of U.S. Navy Combat Demolitions Units in Force 'O'. 7054 Reads
March 10, '45 was my sixtieth mission. From now on I'd be eligible for rotation home. It was a happy prospect. What wasn't was a 2,000' ceiling and 5,000' thick cloud cover by no means great weather to be flying combat in. Since I'd joined the 36th Fighter Group on August 1, 1944, a lot of good friends in the Group hadn't made it as far as I had. They'd either been killed or were missing in action.
Note: by 1st. Lt. Philip N. Wright, Jr., 36th Fighter Group, 23rd Fighter Squadron, 9th Air Force 8444 Reads
We set off at dawn from our base, West Island, Cocos, in a 356 Squadron Liberator on our flight to Malaya carrying a great load of medical supplies and comforts for PoWs and civilians. With the Japanese surrender, there are no bombs this time. Guns and armament have been stripped from the aircraft to provide more lift, and the cavernous bays which normally house 500 and 1,000-pounders, now contain dozens of large drop-canisters strapped to chutes.
Canadian Army Overseas
. . . Well we have arrived safely as you may have guessed from the cablegram. Although at that time it was impossible to say anything and isn't much more possible now. We had a very quiet uneventful trip, wasn't even sea sick but had a few hours when it was very hard to keep food down but that was the first day and night out.
Note: These letters were all written to his wife, Beth, who was caring for their two young daughters. 5888 Reads
The first reaction to the new base at Folkingham was “It's immense”! On this base we had three concrete runways, each 6,000 feet, ample taxiways, a revetment for parking each aircraft, and four hangers. There were innumerable Nissen huts to house us, an Officers Club, an EM Club in the making, a consolidated officers' mess, and a consolidated enlisted men's, mess. We were the first tenants, and parts were still under construction.
As the time for the attack on Hitler's Europe approached, General Omar Bradley gathered in Exeter in southern England, the officers of the U.S. divisions that were to make the assault landings in Normandy. Bradley's purpose, no doubt, was to let us meet the man who would command the American ground forces.
I had just had breakfast and was looking out a porthole in sick bay when someone said, "What the hell are all those planes doing up there on a Sunday? " Someone else said, "It must be those crazy Marines. They'd be the only ones out maneuvering on a Sunday." When I looked up in the sky I saw five or six planes starting their descent. Then when the first bombs dropped on the hangers at Ford Island, I thought, "Those guys are missing us by a mile." Inasmuch as practice bombing was a daily occurrence to us, it was not too unusual for planes to drop bombs, but the time and place were quite out of line.
8/9/44 Mission #1 Flew our 1st mission today, 34 to go. They woke us at 1:50 am. Briefing time 3:00 am. So we knew it was pretty sure to be a long one. Had pineapple juice, fresh egg, hotcakes, sausage, cold cereal, coffee. Target Schmitt ball bearing works, Nurnberg.
After our repairs were completed, we were supposed to go on our post-repair trial run. But instead, on July 15th, we were ordered to go to San Francisco to take on some cargo. I was amazed to notice that there was a quiet, almost dead Navy Yard. We tied up at the dock there and two big trucks came alongside. The big crate on one truck was put in the port hanger.
1815: USS Constitution, under Captain Charles Stewart, captures HMS Cyane and sloop-of-war Levant.
1861: The Confederacy Department of Navy is formed.
1864: In the largest battle fought in Florida during the Civil War, a Confederate force under General Joseph Finegan decisively defeats an army commanded by General Truman Seymour. The victory kept the Confederates in control of Florida's interior for the rest of the war.
1865: Following the evacuation of Fort Anderson, Rear Admiral Porter's gunboats steamed seven miles up the Cape Fear River to the Big Island shallows and the piling obstructions and engaged Fort Strong's five guns.
1941: The U.S. sent war planes to the Pacific. General George C. Kenney pioneered aerial warfare strategy and tactics in the Pacific theater.
1942: Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast.
1942: Japanese drive off a carrier based task force led by the American aircraft carrier Lexington which attempts to attack Rabaul.
1943: British and American units hold the German attack on Sbiba.
1944: American carrier aircraft from Task Group 58.1 (Admiral Reeves) attack Japanese targets in Jaluit Atoll. The fighting on Eniwetok continues. The nearby island of Parry is shelled by US naval forces.
1944: A ferry carrying a stock of heavy water on the first stage of a journey from the Ryukan hydroelectric plant to laboratories in Germany is sunk and her cargo lost in attack by Norwegian resistance fighters.