Return to the Mission
June 1st to June 30th, 1943

June 1, 1943, anchored as before in Berth Dog 11, Segond Channel, Espiritu Santo, British and French Oceana.

Lots of scurrying around for a proposed admiral’s inspection We haven’t been informed as to which admiral. Shine up the plant and living compartments.

The ship assumed Task Dog at 0800, taking over from Fletcher on the anti-submarine sound station.

0340 Taylor stood in and moored alongside Fletcher to starboard.

I was assigned to shore patrol at the Recreation Field with Lt Reidler, an officer we could use more of, without temperament nor posturing. Nobody got arrested, and the troops had a good time.

June 2, 1943, Wednesday, moored in destroyer nest with Fletcher and Taylor.

Cleaning stations work very well for most people, but I have one character who, with Berry, was a survivor of Preston, and has decided to do no work at all. It is a new variation of the bug-out: sit-down strike. A court martial would get him more attention than the situation warrants. It might even get him a return Stateside as “battle-fatigued,” should I make charges. I’ve decided to give him nothing but shipmate pressure, but no transfer as long as I am here.

June 3, 1943, Thursday, moored as before in Berth Dog 11 in nest with Fletcher and Taylor.

0700 Taylor got underway and stood out. USS Tangier stood out.

We are still cleaning up for admiral’s inspection and I’m beginning to think it’s a fake. A leader has only a limited amount of credibility; if he wastes it on fake admiral’s inspections, nothing will be left for the real contest.

June 4, 1943, Friday. Moored as before in Berth Dog 11 in destroyer nest with Fletcher.

Today is our first year-in-commission anniversary. An inspection and a two-hour recreation period in celebration. The Squad Dog (DesRon 21) inspected instead of an admiral, assisted by Taylor officers. We ran a one-hour battle problem; he has seen us do the real thing quite often.

I got ashore with a two-ticket liberty in the Rec Area. 1750 USS Patapsco stood in and anchored.

June 5, 1943, Saturday, moored as before in Berth Dog 11, in nest with Fletcher and Taylor. YO 24 came alongside to fuel the ship.

Worked all day, read, wrote letters and to bed on time like a civilian—except for the heat, the high rack, no reading lamp and the age of the mutton.

To the credit of the Supply Department, we have not missed a meal due to shortages.

June 6, 1943, Sunday, moored as before in Berth Dog 11, in nest with Fletcher and Taylor.

Holiday Routine has been declared. I don’t remember how long it has been since I have heard that line.

June 7, 1943, Monday, moored as before in nest with Fletcher and Taylor in Berth Dog 11, Segond Channel, Espiritu Santo.

All the warships underway for battle practice at sea. I had the lighting-off watch at 0530, and the 12 to 1600 steaming watch. The whole afternoon was gunnery exercises and battle problems. This the longest period of inactivity we have had, and I wonder at it. The Mission is there and the longer we delay the stronger they become. Are we waiting for some catch-up reinforcements?

Entered harbor, and at 1730 moored starboard side to O’Bannon in Berth Dog 11. Fletcher moored port side to O’Bannon. YO 20 came alongside to fuel ship.

June 8, 1943, Tuesday, moored in nest with O’Bannon and Fletcher in Berth Dog 11.

Got an O.K. to go to Relief to see the dentist again. He promised to try to go around the regulations, and he sounded very, very neutral. He had an expression that rendered homage to the Medical Manual’s restrictions.

June 9, 1943, Wednesday, moored as before in Berth Dog 11, in destroyer nest alongside O’Bannon.

Underway at 0800 to exercise at sea with Task Force 18. We left the formation with O’B to investigate a plane crash. Found parachutes, and we stood by while O’Bannon picked up some debris.

At 0900, with Strong, we investigated another crash site. Strong retrieved two parachutes, no bodies.

We held gunnery exercises and fired a dummy torpedo at Helena, then recovered it. We returned to anchorage at 1700, O’Bannon moored alongside to starboard.

June 10, 1943, Thursday, moored in Berth Dog 11, with O’Bannon alongside to starboard.

We had personnel inspection today in undress whites. We are getting so peaceful!

Got another trip to the hospital ship Relief to see the dentist. He O.K.’d the bridge, but too busy now. If we are still in port, come back the day-after-tomorrow.

I got ashore with two beer tickets during the afternoon. We were recalled to the ship for an emergency sortie at 1700.

Someone sighted evidence of a submarine, or heard of a sonar report. We kept up the search on instructions from the Senior Officer Present Afloat.

June 11, 1943, Friday, steaming singly on submarine detection mission in assigned area bearing from Tutuba Island.

1130 Returned to harbor and refueled from SS Gulf Bird.

1450 Anchored in Berth Dog 11.

I liked the film we had tonight, The Keeper of the Flame.

June 12, 1943, Saturday, moored as before in Berth Dog 11, Segond Channel. We have the sound listening watch.

Personnel inspection again, in whites.

At noon I went to Relief to see the dentist, and he took an impression of my teeth. Takes two weeks, he said.

1330 Radford moored alongside to port. ComDesRon 21 shifted his pennant to Radford.

1545 Underway to sortie in company with Task Unit 32.4.5 composed of USS Monongahela and Strong, a cargo run to Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands.

I had two watches, forenoon and evening. It made me tired, since I worked the eight hours between them.

June 13, 1943, Sunday, steaming as before with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.5. enroute Guadalcanal.

I had the 08 to 1200 watch. We got a lot of radar contacts all day but they were friendlies, many times so identified after we had manned battle stations. These false alarms are extremely tiring but we cannot do otherwise than what we do. As for the Airedales, they could be one helluva lot more considerate—or more alert.

We had a two-hour battle problem exercise in the afternoon.

On watch 20 to 2400.

June 14, 1943, steaming as before with vessels of Task Unit 32.4.5.

Arrived in Sealark Sound in the morning, and screened Monongahela while she stopped to pick up a harbor pilot to her mooring area.

1305 Monongahela moored at Kukum Beach. Enemy planes have been reported frequently, but none closed in. I had the forenoon watch and the second dogwatch.

June 15, 1943, steaming as before with Strong in “A” Sector off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal. We are boosting standby boilers between 550 to 600 pounds, about every 15 minutes.

At 0500 Condition Red, general quarters sounded while I was on watch, no cost to me. Condition Green came at 0515.

We continued the patrol until Monongahela left her unloading area at 1400. 1930 to 2100 back to battle stations for Condition Red. Off watch, I hit the sack in relief.

June 16, 1943, Wednesday, steaming as before with USS Strong patrolling off Koli Point, Guadalcanal. Boosting standby boilers, my watch was 04 to 0800.

Monongahela is discharging gasoline at Koli Point. Upon completion of the unloading, the ships moved to Tulagi Harbor, across the sound. At 1250 we moved alongside Monongahela to fuel ship.

At 1315 Condition Red was announced over Guadalcanal. I was tending the forward fuel trunk at the moment I heard the word passed. The 6-inch hose was flowing at about 50 lbs.-per-square-inch, so I couldn’t just cut the lashings and stop fueling. The JV talker was up on the Communications Platform, I looked up for him and saw Captain Hill leaning over the bridge rail. He wore a big grin.

“Captain, shall I break-off fueling?”

“Why? We’ve got fifteen minutes yet!”

Well, well, he’s enjoying himself so he must know something that I don’t . . . But why shouldn’t he be having fun? He is one of the few in a position to control the contest, and thus enjoy it. I watched the time carefully, and in fifteen minutes by my watch and before I could order the flow stopped, I felt the throb on the hose lessen and stop. I unlashed the hose and closed the trunk.

“All hands to battle stations!”

When I got to the floor plates the boilers were cut in and the superheat was building up. We were bending on some knots as we passed through the harbor channel. I reported full power when superheat had reached 800 degrees F.

We exceeded 27 knots for forty-five minutes while executing high-speed turns in covering Monongahela.

In deep water, five miles into the Sound, we were joined by two ex-four-piper APDs to help cover our supply ship responsibility. A lot of dive bombers were concentrating on the ships unloading at Lunga Point, and one ship was hit dead-center from the way she blew up. Our force of Monongahela, Nicholas, Strong, Crosby and Ward were maneuvering at high speed so we were not the easiest targets in the sound. The dive bomber was the ships’ greatest menace, and when one moved toward our formation he was met with a barrage of 5-inch fire.

The bridge counted fifteen dive bombers destroyed, and of course we couldn’t tell whether from gun fire or fighter aircraft. We only saw the destruction—explosion in the air or pinwheeling into the sea.

At 1430 we secured from battle stations, then followed Monongahela into Purvis Bay; we anchored in Berth #2.

I had the watch until 2000. I showered after watch and went to bed. At 2215 battle stations again until 2300.

June 17, 1943, Thursday, anchored in Berth #2, Purvis Bay, Florida Island.

Underway at 1124.

At 1304 set base course 210° True enroute to Espiritu Santo.

We took station 200 ahead of Monongahela while passing through Lengo Channel.

I had two four-hour watches today, a relative holiday.

June 18, 1943, Friday, steaming on base course 118° True, with Monongahela and Strong.

At 0245 General quarters for a sub contact. No one was very much worried, for the bridge initiated “time to blow tubes,” which we ordinarily have to request. When the tubes are blown with steam jets, it sends a pillar of smoky soot into the air.

The sub alarm turned out to be a false radar image.

On watch from 12 to 1600, showered and to bed in lieu of chow, for it has become really unpalatable. And it is not the quality of the raw material, but the preparation has declined from the appointment of the new Commissary Stew.

I am reading David Copperfield.

June 19, 1943, Saturday, steaming as before on base course 120° True with Monongahela and Strong.

0700 Entered port and moored alongside Tappahannock to fuel ship.

1030 Moored alongside Radford in Berth Dog 11.

This was the day. I asked for a boat to go to Relief and get my new apple-cutter bridge, though I didn’t expect to get an apple to celebrate on.

Aboard Relief, in the Dental Clinic, I couldn’t find anyone who would admit to remembering me, nor would anyone answer a direct question. Frustrated, I found a first class pharmacist’s mate who couldn’t deny remembering me, for we had swapped stories of the Brooklyn Naval Hospital.

He was a very reluctant snitch: “Well, when your ship left for the ’Canal (the first time I ever heard Guadalcanal abbreviated and personalized like that, and by a non-combatant who had never seen it, too!) the lab chief said that we had made a prosthesis before that was never picked up. So, you know, it’s a waste of materials if it’s never used . . . But it’s O.K. now . . . You gonna be around a few days?”

I never lose my temper, but: “How the hell do I know how long I’ll be around—Halsey runs the goddamned war!”

“Yeah , yeah, I know. How about corning back Tuesday or Wednesday?”

“Give me a day. I have to kiss asses to get a boat ride!” “O.K., Tuesday.”

Back to the ship and a hard day’s work. We finished the urgent repairs that the Chief Freeman found for us at 2245 Showered and got to the sack at midnight.

June 20, 1943, Sunday, moored port side to Radford in nest with Jenkins.

0615 underway, stood out Segond Channel as escort for USS Pinkney. While standing down channel we saw another parachute in the water, but could not abandon the primary mission to make a search.

1500 We screened to seaward while Radford entered Fila Harbor, then joined up with USS Aldebaran to escort her to Santos.

June 21, 1943, Monday, steaming on base course 301° True in company with Aldebaran.

0850 Entered port through Segond Channel and fueled ship alongside Stanvac Cape Town.

1200 moored alongside Radford in Berth Dog 11.

Mail came in and I won big with books and letters.

June 22, 1943, Tuesday, moored as before port side to Radford in Berth Dog 11, Espiritu Santo.

Up at 0600 for the 0930 appointment on Relief, then finally, I got some US Navy teeth, a partial, in violation of the Medical Department Manual. To brush, I had to get instructions from Sharkshit Scott, who was a long-time partial wearer. He had lost more teeth than I had, four, and in a fist-fight. Mine were lost to a blackjack, and only two.

We got ashore in the afternoon to drink a couple of beers and play some softball. Now the ball diamonds and rec parties are staggered. No consideration is given to which ships have the closer relations. Let an organizer into a question, then organization becomes what we used to have.

Back to the ship at chow time and wrote letters. I felt like trying the new teeth on an apple, but knew not where to find one.

At morning quarters “a long voyage” was announced. Subsequently I heard some wild ones on what that meant. A long voyage was back home, but the tone was not one of back home; it was more like John Paul Jones’ in harm’s way. A voyage was not long that invaded enemy-controlled areas—that was any area north of Savo and sometimes the 30 miles south of Savo. After thinking it over all day I decided that it was someone’s attempt to convey serious operations were in the works soon.

1450 Chevalier moored alongside to starboard. Radford got underway and stood out.

June 23, 1943, Wednesday, anchored in Berth Dog 11 with Chevalier moored alongside to starboard.

I worked all day cleaning boilers, but I had all night in!

June 24, 1943, Thursday, anchored in Berth Dog 11, Chevalier and Taylor moored alongside to starboard.

We are still cleaning boilers well in advance of the usual elapsed time. This fact holds more portents than any announcement at quarters. There has been a slogan going around, “the more you sweat getting ready the less you bleed in battle.”

There is a difference between the men we got in Boston at commissioning and the replacement sailors since who are conscripts.

June 25, 1943, Friday, anchored in Berth Dog 11, in next with Chevalier and Taylor to starboard.

We have been assigned listening watch, and are under a half-hour notice to get underway.

0630 Underway to search for a submarine reported 12 miles from Malo Island. We sound searched all day, then back to harbor at 1800.

Condition Red was announced at 2030; it was canceled in 30 minutes.

June 26, 1943, Saturday, moored as before in Berth Dog 11, with Chevalier and Taylor moored alongside to starboard.

In the morning was captain’s inspection of personnel. After inspection we went back to work inside the boilers. We finished cleaning No. 2 boiler at 7:30 p.m.

June 27, 1943, Sunday, moored in Berth Dog 11 with Chevalier and Taylor alongside to starboard.

We worked all morning cleaning boilers, now in No. 1.

I got ashore in the afternoon with four beer tickets.

I played some softball and got back to the ship around 5. Then I went down in the plant to work with the duty section on boiler cleaning, and it continued all night. We had been handed a completion hour too close for routine.

June 28, 1943, Monday, moored in Berth Dog 11 with Chevalier and Strong alongside to starboard.

Worked all morning in the boilers closing and hydrostatic testing in preparation for getting underway.

1300 Underway in company with Honolulu (CTF 18), Helena, St. Louis, Chevalier, Strong, O’Bannon and McCall. This is the “long voyage,” as soon as the heavy ships cleared the channel, we went to general quarters for gunnery drills.

I have a deep gut feeling that the machinery is in perfect shape from all our work and testing.

I had the 20 to 2400 watch.

June 29, 1943, Tuesday, steaming on base course 275° True, in company with Task Group 36.1, Honolulu, St. Louis, Nicholas, O’Bannon, Chevalier.

I had the 08 to 1200 watch, then the 20 to 2400 watch. No other work, and I think that I needed the respite.

June 30, 1943, Wednesday, steaming on base course 275° True, with Task Group 36.1, Honolulu, St. Louis, Nicholas, O’Bannon and Chevalier.

This “long voyage” has been surrounded by trappings of “hush-hush.” We assume that it is the offensive. On the offensive, all operations are in enemy waters. As I’ve said before, a survivor has to survive twice.

We were sitting on the foc’sle this evening, and I remarked that some other destroyers had recommended that if you are in the water and the ship is sinking, plug that asshole with a finger until you are sure the depth charges have, or will not explode.

We all looked to Doc Ramsey for confirmation.

“I’d recommend it if you can swim one-handed!” Doc said.

At 1415 two men fell overboard from St. Louis. Chevalier left the screen to make the recovery. All ships then had to assist because the first try was unsuccessful. At 1512 O’Bannon made the rescue, those lucky lads. It was getting close to the time to abandon the search.

I descended to the forward fireroom to relieve the watch. When I crossed the floor plates to get some poop from Jab Bauer, Berry was singing: “I’m saving all my eggs for one little basket . . . “

Zurawski was talking to Levitsky, “He was a good-looking guy, the girls stared at him when he passed . . . “

“If that happened to me I’d look to see if my fly was open!”

No self-pity among my troops. I am more and more impressed with the fact that most men are calm and brave in danger. The higher performance is in meeting the expectations of your shipmates. If only the people charged with motivation understand that.

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At Santos there was always a hospital ship. It appeared that the nurses spaced dinner invitations to the warships, for four of them came to Nicholas only once. They came to dine in the wardroom, but fore and aft of the accommodation ladder sailors were on hand to look at them upon arrival and upon departure.

After a few days this item was pinned to the crew’s bulleting board:

The young officer escort of a nurses’ visit was describing to the officer of the deck a thrilling event: “As we were leaving the boat at the accommodation ladder, her hand slipped on the chain and she fell back, right into my arms!”

“Yeah! yeah!” the OD said with half-closed lids, “Soft, ain’t they!”