April 15, 1945 (Sunday)
I am kind of played out today, I stood a mid watch on the "5 in" last
night. Commenced firing "Star Shells" at the beach (Okinawa) at 2:00
A.M. secured at 4 A.M. Sunrise G. Q. manned my battle station and
commenced firing at the beach again, only it was "8 in" H.C. this time.
Secured approximately 8:00 and ate chow. Stood a 12-4 this P.M. firing
the main battery in Cond. two at the beach. Boby [Bernard "Boby"
(pronounced Bobee)] in on West-end of island and can't help worrying
about him. Death of President, flying flag at half-mast.
April 15, 1945 Approx. 6:00
The latest news received aboard ship at 5:15 P.M. "the sixth Marines,
furiously battling a platoon of Japs- mortar and machine gun fire."
My prayers are for God to take care of Boby, so he may live to return
home to the ones who love and need him.
We just had another air raid; I don't know how many planes were shot down.
That kind of thing has been so common in the last few months; it doesn't
even interest me anymore.
A few minutes before Sunset G.Q. I could see the Japs open up a barrage of
fire on the beach. We also took off empty powder containers before G.Q.
loaded them on an LCM. I haven't made the wash room yet. Have to go and
wash clothes, take a shower and shave after securing from G.Q. Then I
have the 12 to secure watch in Turret. Mod. Condition two. The ship will
fire Star shells again tonight. Sure glad I don't have the "5 in". watch. It's been a busy day for me since last night at 12, only the important things I have written here.
April 15, 1945
Since deciding to write in my diary, I've decided to go back to some later
dates, to some of the important things that have happened that I can
remember, some of the dates I want to remember. I will go back to my first
real experience in this war.
March 26, 1943 the Battle of Komandorski in the Bearing Sea. To tell it
all here would fill a book, so I will first say this- I was scared
(scared- crossed out) green, inexperienced and plenty scared. Most of the
crew were green and inexperienced but I believe everyone was scared.
Following that we went alongside a repair ship in Kodiak, received
underwater welding to patch up a few "8 in" shell holes. Left for Mare
Island for repairs, was in the states a month and five days. A third of
the ships Co. got leave. I was one of the unfortunate ones. Left the
states returned to the Aleutians for patrol work and bombardment exercises.
Bombarded Kiska the 2nd and 12th of August 1943. After 5 or 6 months of
patrolling the (the- crossed out) after that period of time the SLC
didn't do much for as winning the war goes.
Return to Battle of the Komandorski Island Index
Returned to the Aleutians for the third time, made a Liberty on Attu, Aug.
3, 1944 (probably meant 1943?). I remember the date because that day
Franklin D. Roosevelt, happened to be on the island that particular day.
November 19, 1943, our first bombardment of Tarawa. The following day was
D-day[?]. We were attacked by Jap torpedo planes. If I remember right the
SLC took credit for getting three of them. I don't remember if any of
our ships were sunk or damaged.
Next came the bombardment of Wotje on the 29th of Jan. 1944. The next two
days was the bombardment of Tarora, Jan. 30 and 31, 1944. Then Wotje
again on the days of Feb. 2, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18 of 1944.
Those days when we weren't bombarding we were taking on ammunition. It
was hard work and the weather plenty hot for we were close to the Equator
in the Tropics.
Sept. 3, 1944 one bombardment on Wake Island. The SLC had hit it once
before at the beginning of the war but I was not aboard at that (first)
Marcus Island, Oct. 8, 1944 one bombardment, I don't remember much about
Marcus, it seems there was return fire from the beach.
Next came Iwo Jima on Nov. 11, 1944.
At this time at approx. 9:30 P.M. April 15, 1945 while I was writing we
underwent another air attack. The ships put up a heavy air barrage as I
have ever heard. You couldn't see due to the darkness and a chemical fog
we have put out for protection. We have been in G.Q. for hours now,
should have been secured long ago, but the Japs keep coming around.
I think of Boby, over on that Island, that is my only worry.
I am so tired of hearing guns, I've heard gunfire almost continuously
since Feb. 16, 1945.
Well, to get back to where I left off we were attacked by Jap subs in
Ulithia on Nov. 20, 1944 sinking one of our ammunition ships. Subs
followed tankers in the night before. They would have got us only we
happened to be underway, therefore sinking ammo ship off our Port quarter.
Destroyers took care of Subs. There were three of them.
Iwo Jima, again on Dec. 7, 24, of 1944.
This time Chi Chi Jima and Ha Ha Jima on the 27th of Dec. 1944.
Again Iwo Jima on Jan. 24, 1945 and Iwo Jima again on Feb. 19, 1945 which
was invasion day. That was a sight I'll never forget. Marines, going
ashore in alligators, ducks and all sorts of amphibious craft. Passing
the ship's bow and stern, they were all around us.
Up until this time they claim Iwo was the bloodiest so far, but Okinawa, may beat that yet.
We knew Iwo would be tough, we were getting all the dope on it weeks before the invasion, we even held a two day dress rehearsal on Saipan and Tinian, the same as we were to do at Iwo.
We underwent sub attacks and air attacks but they were nothing compared to this place.
April 16, 1945 -off Okinawa
I had to quit writing last night, the hour was too late and I was too sleepy. Already today we have been to G.Q. twice. There was heavy A.A. fire on the horizon but we never had to fire. The ship right this moment is firing the main battery in Cond. II starboard watch. I don't know what their target is probably pillboxes, ammunition depots, houses, caves and so forth.
To get back to the invasion of Iwo Jima, we stayed there giving the Marines fire support nearly everyday up until the island was ours.
Lt. Robert F. Gallagher and
[Thomas W. Erickson, Ensign,]
off the ship were shot down by our own fire and killed while spotting for us. I don't remember what date [March 6, 1945] that was but I do know it was during the first part of the campaign.
The Japs had lots of shore batteries of Iwo. We were fired at every bombardment as near as I can remember. The Pensacola was hit bad in C.I.C. I don't remember any other ships damaged or sunk. My guess is that we left Iwo around the 18th of March 1945.
Then Okinawa, we were told this would be a three months operation.
We started bombarding Okinawa on March 25, 1945 Invasion day, April 1, 1945. Iwo was nothing compared to this (so it seems to me) a hundred and twenty thousand men going ashore. They didn't have any trouble landing and if I remember right they didn't meet any opposition for two days.
We had submarine alerts as high as 4 or 5 times a day. Suicide planes attacking and doing plenty of damage. Our destroyers took care of the subs. I don't know how many they sunk since D-day.
I remember one day the Japs came in Suicide planes sinking one of our destroyers and a minesweeper. They sure did burn before sinking.
The Nevada and the Tennessee also the Minneapolis (I believe he meant the Indianapolis) took a plane each. I remember the Minneapolis well. We were in special Cond II and I had the watch up on the "40 MM." on the bridge. The Minna was directly behind us a little out. The plane was coming at us off our port stern heading for the fantail. Those boys on the 40's back aft opened up on him (without permission). They had never been told to fire. The plane turned, I don't know why, and dived right amidships of the Minna. I don't know what their casualties were but it must have been high for the explosion it was. The count runs high for the destroyer's that have been sunk and damaged by these attacks.
They seem to always go for the fantail of large ships in hopes of crippling them dead in the water so as to be an easy target for subs. They don't carry enough in bombs to sink a large ship.
I remember April 12, 1945 we were attacked for about a period of two hours. When the firing let up the total of Jap planes accounted for were 89. Then before the day was over the count run into the two hundred and some. At Sunset G.Q. of that same day one plane launched a fish at the SLC but exploded before reaching us. It really did shake us up. Also two bombs hit off the fantail. We never did find the guy that dropped them, must have been a high altitude bomber.
April 17, 1945
Dive bombers, are bombing the beach today. Nice thing to see.
A Chief B.M. told me this morning the Japs had lost 2300 planes since the beginning of this operation. Our losses in destroyers are twenty damaged and sunk. The Japs are raising cane with our destroyers. No one on board has ever saw anything like it before, the way those Japs will die just to damage a ship. Maybe they intend putting all or most of all our cans out of commission and then send in a pack of submarines, for without the destroyers we wouldn't have any protection against the subs.
One plane was shot down a couple of days ago, the pilot was unhurt. He was questioned and said he was three days out of flight school, said he was given a plane and enough gas to get here.
The Japs must be getting terrible low on pilots what the Chief told me was confirmed on the radio.
April 18, 1945
We took on ammunition all day today. They gave us the dope while at Sunset G.Q. that there would be a big push on Okinawa tomorrow.
Last night which was April 17, we got word there was a fleet of ships left Japan, we went out to engage them, but no such luck. Stayed in Special Cond. II on the 40 MM. from 8-12 and 4-8. You certainly can't get any sleep standing that kind of watches. I have the mid tonight which is just as bad as last night.
April 19, 1945
I stood my twelve to four this A.M. Sunrise G.Q. at 4:30 A.M. Fired at the beach all morning, haven't had any sleep yet and its time to stand another gun watch (4-6 P.M.). I haven't gotten any dope on the "big push" that was to go on Okinawa today, I will probably get that later through a news broadcast if my watch doesn't prevent it. I heard the news while on watch. The 6th Mar. is fighting on Mobu Peninsular against Jap Mortar and Machine Gun fire.
I pray for Bo, if God is willing to let him live. FLASH-
Ernie Pyle, was killed instantly when shot in the head by Machine Gun bullets, on Ie Jima. (On the 18th of April)
We have also bombarded Ie Jima since the start of the campaign on Okinawa. I don't remember the date didn't think it important at the time.
I might add at this time. That I haven't slept on a rack in eight months (approx.) the softest thing I've laid on is a couple of blankets between me and the steel deck. What would I give for one night in a bed.
April 20, 1945
Today we are giving the boys on the beach our fire support. Sure hope we can do them plenty of good. [8" 55] [5" 25].
April 21, 1945
Today we have been in Cond II firing at Jap artillery and Block houses. Since March 18, up until April 18, the Japs have lost 2580 planes here at Okinawa and by Task Force 58. Our losses have been 12 ships in all - up to this date our losses were five cans, two tankers, one L.C.I., one L.S.I. and one minesweeper. Japs kept us at G.Q. last night from Sunset until approx. 11:00 A.M.
April 22, 1945
We have been firing at the beach today using caves mostly as our target. The boys on the "5 in" 25 have been firing also. The Japs haven't been bothering us much lately. Maybe a couple of planes around every night to keep us at G.Q. until late in the night. Other ships have fired on them but they haven't been within our range.
The Island is about secured. My guess is it won't be but a couple of weeks more, all but the mopping up.
April 23, 1945
We've been giving the boys our fire support again today. Fired all the "8 in" ammunition, guess we will be all day tomorrow taking on ammunition.
The Japs have been known to swim out to ships on floating boxes, logs or most anything they can hide behind and heave hand grenades on ships. When on a gun watch we have to watch out for those things. The G.O. is always firing at objects in the water, hoping to get a Jap or not taking any chances.
April 28, 1945
I haven't been able to write the last four days-reason-I have been standing so many watches. Night before last I had the mid watch on the "5 in", didn't get any sleep all night. Took on ammunition all day yesterday. Secured. Started firing at the beach, had a heck of a big air raid. The Japs sunk the ammunition ship that we got our ammunition from also a couple of other ships damaged. Had the 8-12 last night. Have the 8-12 again this morning. It sure is tough [can't read words] can't hardly get any sleep these days.
April 29, 1945
At this moment (TIME APPROXIMATELY 9:00 P.M.) we are undergoing a Submarine attack and air attack, don't know how we will come out, but I am hoping. We took on ammunition all day today. I have the 12 to secure tomorrow morning in the turret.
We were at G.Q. all night last night had a heck of a big air attack the Japs didn't do so good lost over 50% of their planes and did slight damage to three of our ships. Was on the fo'c'sle, two Jap planes passed over (me and Robbie).
May 4, 1945
Well again I have been unable to write due to watches, firing guns and taking on ammunition. Most of our firing has been at night time, today we fired everything we had but a few A.P.'s .
We haven't been bothered with air raids in three nights. They (Japs) only attack when there is a moon and there isn't one now and won't be for quite some time.
The boys on the beach should have things secured before much longer. I am hoping so anyhow.
May 7, 1945
I haven't written in the last three days, we've been firing on the beach as usual. The Japs have tried sinking our ships with suicide boats the last three days, however, the attempt hadn't been made on us yet. They haven't been successful in that, though they have damaged more of our ships with suicide planes. One C.V.E. night before last was damaged by a Betty, there were three of them. Two were shot down the other damaged.
May 8, 1945
We are still giving the beach our fire support. Today we received news of Germany's unconditional surrender. At 1200 we fired all guns at Jap territory in celebration of our victory. All ships and artillery on the beach did same. Sure does make a fellow feel good, makes him feel closer to home.
I have the mid tonight. I know I won't get any sleep. Robbie and I are making Cocoa until midnight, play cards and talk about home and Clark County [Alabama].
May 9, 1945
Nothing much has happened today. We took on ammunition all day. It sure is tough, shooting it all up one day and then taking it on the next. All of this shooting is getting a lot of the guys down. Sometimes I think I couldn't stand to fire another salvo myself.
Had an air raid just before sunset this evening. Nothing hurt so far as I know.
Watching those small craft cover us with a smoke screen is sure a sight to see.
May 10, 1945
We had another air attack last night, I stood Special Cond. II up on the 40 MM. Two shrapnel bombs burst on both sides of the ship, no one hurt. I heard twice the engines of Jap planes. We had such a heavy smoke screen it was impossible to see anything, we never fired, but other ships were putting burst right over us. It was a sight to see. I must be getting use to it I never got scared this time as usual.
May 13, 1945
Nothing unusual has happened except the 11th we picked up two dead Jap pilots. Brought them aboard stripped them of their belongings such as guns, watches, sabers, money and so forth. Gave them a decent burial. We have been giving the beach our fire support as usual, firing day and night.
Today we took on ammunition. The 6th Marines have killed 600 Japs in the last 24 hr. Have captured the capital of Okinawa, and knocked out two big gun emplacements.
May 14, 1945
Today we are flying the ensign at half mast in honor of the men who were killed on the USS New Mexico (BB-40), who took a suicide plane yesterday. Also in honor of the death of president F.D.R. (30 days after death fly flag at half mast, all ships)
The Japs have been using human bombs on Okinawa. The men on board use to be surprised, shake their heads and try to figure out why they did such things, including myself. Now we are use to it.
May 16, 1945
Well we've been doing the same thing-giving the beach our fire support. Last night the Japs tried landing behind the 6th Marines line but were discovered and killed by Naval gun fire.
I fired the "8 in" this morning on the 8-12 the "5 in" on the 12-4 and tonight I will probably fire star shells on the 12-4.
I got the dope that we were leaving for Leyte the 18th and I sure hope its true. I am sick of all this shooting.
May 18, 1945
Today the destroyer USS LONGSHAW DD-559 was hit by a 7.7" projectile fired from the beach. Last night she ran aground when she went in to close to the beach. They were trying to get her off when she was fired upon. First salvo hit on the fantail knocking out one turret, second salvo hit up in the bow, third salvo hit between the bridge and forward stack causing the forward magazine to explode. We opened fire right away and so did other ships undoubtedly knocking it out.
We hoisted out our motor whale boats, sending rescue parties to get survivors. Other ships did same. We had approximately fifty men who survived aboard. It sure was an awful sight, some had their feet torn up some had wounds in their head and hands. Most of them had only a pair of pants on. Most of them were bleeding bad. I noticed one kid who looked to be 18 yr. Who was so scared he couldn't get on his feet he had to be helped. They were all scared. Who could blame him. I stood at the side of the ship watching these fellows and I hope I never have to see one like it again. One man died while trying to get him to the ship. He is in the chill box now will bury him tomorrow. I've seen ships burn before right here but never saw one burn like that one.
This evening another destroyer fired "5 in" 38 shells into it to finish sinking it. These were some awful explosions that just tore it apart. I know there couldn't have been many who survived. It makes us realize how lucky we are.
Tonight I have a two to five watch on the Fo'c'sle. Supposed to be my all night in, but won't get it. We never do anymore since we came here.
The rest of the men with gun watches will be firing star shells all night to illuminate the beach.
We should be leaving here before long and I will be glad.
May 20, 1945
The last two days we've been taking on ammunition. Last night I stood the 8-12 on the five inch. Tonight I will stand the old rugged mid and probably fire star shells all night. It sure is tough, no sleep and lots of hard work. You can tell the changes of the men on here if you watch them. (Then again I don't believe anyone could help but notice it). They just don't seem to care about anything anymore. Everyone is hoping we will leave soon. I know I do.
May 21, 1945
We've gave the beach our fire support again all day today.
Their midget submarines got in somehow. So far they haven't been located and sunk. Maybe they won't until they done some damage to some of our ships. Maybe us.
The Sixth Marines are having a tough time with the Japs in the city of Naha. Capital of Okinawa.
This scribbling of mine is mostly caused from the concussion of Turret 1 when she fires.
May 24, 1945
There hasn't been anything exciting that happened this last four days. We are still giving the beach our fire support. It seems as though we will never quit shooting these guns. I have the mid tonight but don't believe we will do any shooting of star shells, think we will anchor in the transport area. We have a serious water shortage on. I am down to my last clean pair of socks. We have been catching rain water whenever it rains in order to wash some clean clothes. I don't know how long this will keep up but I sure hope it won't be for long. There seems to be a leak in one of the water lines someplace, so I have heard. Then I was told by another fellow that the evaporator wasn't working right. I know one thing I will surely be glad when this is over with, so does everyone else aboard ship.
May 25, 1945
Last night I stood the 12-4 on the 40 MM. The Japs didn't give us any rest, they raided all night long. They hit one DE wounding twenty men and officers. Don't know how many were killed. They came in again this morning, after about a three hour let up, so far all I have learned is they got one near miss on one of our picket lines, probably a destroyer. You could see them last night when they came over, these guys really took to cover.
May 26, 1945
For the last couple of nights we've had it pretty easy-I mean by that- that we haven't been firing and it's certainly a relief to get away from the noise of those guns for a change. We are right here, you can see other ships firing you can see firing on the beach which is our artillery. We got dope that we were leaving here tomorrow and going to Guam or Leyte then maybe to the States. The guys on here are excited about it.
May 27, 1945
Today we got underway at approx. 1100 for Leyte. Last night I stood the 8-12 on the 40 MM. in Special Cond. II, then went back on watch and stood the 4-8 still in Special II. At approx. 5:30 one Jap plane got right in amongst all of the ships but was shot down before doing any damage. He exploded in the air when hit by A.A. fire. There was just one big ball of fire then he hit the water and burned for approx. 5 min. He is now a good Jap.
June 2, 1945
We are now in Leyte. We arrived the 31st. I went over on the beach yesterday. There were lots of Aussies over there. One of them sold me a case and a half of beer for $18.00. They seem to be pretty nice fellers, they are good and easy to talk too. I had a couple of drinks of Saki, (stuff made of rice or coconut). They are pretty strict on you over here. There have been some cases when they died from drinking it and others have gone blind.
June 10, 1945
Everything in Leyte is much better than anyplace we've been in a long time. There is lots of work to do but very few watches to stand. We are getting pretty good chow now too. I get a liberty every four days, so far I've been on the beach three times. Robbie and I gave about 10 of those kids over there two apples, between them all, they acted as though they had never seen an apple before.
June 13, 1945
Nothing exciting has happened since we've been here in Leyte. Which is something we all are thankful for.
The Ajax has new five inch guns for us. I guess we will get them in a
couple of days. I don't think there is much of a chance of us going to the States for the next six months. If then.
I rated liberty today but didn't go. Stayed aboard and worked instead. There's nothing over there, no need to go.
June 19, 1945
We've been alongside the Ajax now for an approximate time of about four days. I think we have four new five inch to go yet, then we will probably go on another bombardment and invasion of some island.
It is really hot here, you sweat all the time. You can't sleep below decks and at night it rains so- that spoils the sleeping topside.
What I would give for a nice soft bed! I haven't even got a rack even if it was cool enough to sleep below decks.
June 26, 1945
We sure did work hard for the past two weeks. We started work every morning before 8:00 and would work on through till midnight. Some nights I worked all night aboard Ajax. When I say we I mean the turret crews.
We finished up today, got the guns put back together and all ready for firing which we will probably do in a couple of days. There hasn't been any rest for me in this port.
July 3, 1945
At approx. 0400 this morning we got underway to test fire our guns. Fired director control also local control at target towed on sled.
We did night firing tonight at approx. 2000 at target. Target was lit up by star shells fired by "5 in" 25 guns. At first couldn't find target so tried search lights, then later used star shells as was tried first.
There will be another bombardment of island. Sure will be glad when this one is over.
July 5, 1945
Today we will get underway at 1530. Our destination is Okinawa. I don't know what our orders are after we get here unless they plan on using us for A.A. protection against planes. Guess we will all know as soon as we get there.
Most of us have hopes of going to the states after a couple of months up there. One good thing about Okinawa, it's plenty cool up there. You sit around and sweat down here.
July 11, 1945
Well we didn't go to Okinawa, instead we went right on by to within 150 miles of Japan itself. We joined Task Force 32.1 which consists of cruisers, battlewagons, aircraft carriers, and destroyers. It's not a very big force. We have been in bigger ones. Such as the Truk deal. The Japs, must not have a thing left to fight with. We have only had one sub alert and once a plane came in to 13 miles, and we are right in their front yard.
July 16, 1945
Yesterday (July 15) we anchored in Okinawa. There is quite a difference here now than before. We haven't even had one G.Q. since arriving here. While we were patrolling out at sea, we discovered mines-a batch. The Japs had heavily mined their own waters. They undoubtedly haven't got a fleet, planes or hardly anything left to fight their war with.
Destroyers exploded the mines by firing on them.
July 17, 1945
Today Ollie and Pee Wee came over to see me here in Okinawa. We got underway at approx. 1400. Our duty is to convoy minesweepers up around the China coast. It will be dangerous business. The Japs have the waters heavily mined.
There's a typhoon heading our way. We have projectiles and things latched down that may fall and roll. The weather is already getting rough, with the ship rolling and rocking. This isn't going to be (can't read).
[The typhoon was "Doris"]
July 27, 1945
We left out of Okinawa July 22, after arriving there on the 21st. We went back in for fuel and stores. I didn't get to see Ollie and Pee Wee this time. The ship was to sail at anytime so there wasn't any inter ship visiting.
We are out in the Yellow Sea, patrolling while the minesweepers locate mines. There has been quite a few of them already. Destroyers destroyed them with gun fire.
August 2, 1945
On the 31st of July we anchored in Okinawa, took on fuel and stores-sailed on August 1. There was a heck-of-a storm coming when we left out. We hit it or rather it hit us before we got out to sea good. We lost one man over the side, he was picked up not killed like the others. The seas are still heavy. There is no way to tell when we will ride out of it. Maybe tomorrow, I hope so anyway.
August 14, 1945
The war has ended. I've never saw a happier bunch of men. They are all smiles. Except for a few who are not smiling because the joy of knowing the war has ended has worn off and now they only wonder when they will get out.
We arrived in Adak today, dropped the hook at almost the same time we received word of the wars ending. The Chaplain said a prayer over the loudspeaker.
September 1, 1945
Here we are at the last stages of the war-finally. We are now underway for Japan to assist in the occupation. There will be about one hundred and fifty men to assist including the Marine Div. I happened to be one of them chosen for the job. We had one full day of training in Attu before getting underway. Mostly marching and drilling with the Springfield. Don't know when we will arrive, should be soon.