DE 789 (Buckley Class)
Builder: Consolidated Shipbuilding - Orange, Texas
Laid Down: April 22, 1943
Launched: August 7, 1943
Commissioned: November 22, 1943
Fate: (Converted to APD 81 after completion)
We are seeking information on the USS Tatum and her crews. Files and photos
may be emailed to us and we will
incorporate them into this page. When enough information has been assembled
we will then build the ship her own section.
William L Woods USS Tatum 1943-1944
M Regina Grant
Name: doug hall
From: Odenton, MD (twn Baltimore and DC)
Time: 1998-01-20 04:30:00
I'm interested in contributing 1st-hand (father's diary) info about DE789/APD81
'43-46. I'd also like to offer the info/souvenirs to his shipmates. How can I
find if any of the shipmates are still alive? I don't have any names. Any
guidance/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. OUTSTANDING site. Highest
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 1998 14:13:47 EST
Subject: Re: From my guest book- Can you help?
I have attached a transcript of my father's diary kept while aboard the USS
This is NOT a work of art, this is NOT the product of
historical research, this is a
young sailor's hand-written diary, submitted as one person's
historical purposes. I have transcribed the diary
as accurately as possible,
keeping everything as it was written.
I am considering scanning a page or two in for inclusion in the site.
Constructive comments are welcome. I would especially appreciate other first-
hand accounts related to specific occurences mentioned in the diary. I'm also
looking for a crew list and for anyone who may have served aboard the USS
Tatum during the '43-'46 time frame. Referrals would be greatly appreciated.
Also, references I've run across which the team maintaining the website may
want to publicize:
U. S. Warships Since 1945: Stone, Paul H; Naval Institute Press, 1987
Destroyer Escorts of WW II; Elliott, Peter; Almarte Publications (London),
WWII Diary Aboard U. S. S. Tatum, DE789/APD81, 1943-1946
William F. (Franklin) Hall
June 16, 1943
Sworn in navy at Fort McClellen, Alabama. Spent two months in Boot Camp and
O.G.U. in Chicago and two and a half months in Norfolk, Virginia before being
assigned to U. S. S. Tatum, Destroyer Escort 789 which was under construction
at Orange, Texas. (O. B. U. - Out-Going Unit. A Unit of men awaiting other
men to be trained to complete the ship crew. When you get in the o. G. U.,
you knew that you'd had it!)
Went to Orange, Texas to watch completion of the ship that was to be our future
Ship was commissioned with a big celebration of all Orange (population 3000)
Left Texas via Sabine River. Rammed U. S. S. Raby D. E. 326. Looks like we're
off to a banging start.
Arrived at Galveston to have ships hull painted. Nice two-tone job. Wonder
what the '44 models will look like. Trial run in Gulf of Mexico. Wonder
if it is to see if the ship will stand it, or the men. Returned to Galveston,
keeping up our starting record by hitting a buoy and running aground, which
damaged the starboard propeller, shaft, and degausing equipment (equipment to
neutralize the metallic-seeking effect of enemy torpedoes.)
Arrived in New Orleans for drydock repairs. No ramming. (Tugs pulled us in.)
Rammed French carrier while backing out of drydock. They don't have any
business over here anyway. Left for Bermuda for initial "Shake-Down Cruise."
My attempt to name the Tatum the U. S. S. U-Bange went wet.
Arrived in Bermuda and anchored in harbor. Crew went ashore to get sickly
drunk so they couldn't blame it on sea-sickness. Everything calm in harbor,
so we stay there thru Christmas Eve.
Dec. 25 Christmas Day. The day for roast turkey with all the trimmings and
to beat all luck, we go out to sea. Plenty rough. Guess they want to feed
the sharks the turkey after we eat it. Looks like no mercy for us hungry
people. Looks to me like we could have stayed in port until after dinner,
but we've learned there are only three ways to do a thing: (1) the right
way, (2) the wrong way, (3) the Navy way. Torpedo accidentally launched,
but didn't explode. Knocked big hole in stack (smoke stack). Start living
on borrowed time. Continued Shake-Down Cruise in and out of Bermuda
Mad sea pitching us to the tune of a fifty-six degree roll. Nobody singing
Arrived in Boston for a general overhaul and paint job. This time a black and
gray stripe. We must be joining the Zebra fleet. Must be going to operate
in the Atlantic awhile. These colors being the camouflage color for blending
with the changing color of the sea.
Left Boston and arrived at Norfolk, Virginia the following day. Signs in
Norfolk read, "Dogs and Sailors keep off grass."
Prepared to leave Norfolk. Orders suddenly changed.
Left Norfolk for open sea. Much better than liberty in Norfolk.
Arrived in Colon, Republic of Panama. Norfolk was never like this.
Left Panama for Norfolk. Emergency cases of sickness and changed course.
Arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Three cases of spinal meningitis transferred
to hospital, shoved off.
Pulled into New York for one night.
Back in good ole Norfolk.
Went down river to Portsmouth for two days. Make it seven days.
Back in new York. Liberty, Statue of Liberty, and what-have-you.
Underway from New York for high seas, escorting large convoy at speed of 8
knots (9 miles per hour). Captain handling ship nicely, was put in charge
of escort division. I don't think I'm going to like this.
Pulled into Plymouth, England, which appears to be the slums of the world.
Tied up to a D.E. 793, a ship of our division. Captains of escort vessels
coming aboard to either make pow-wow or drink vodka.
Underway from Plymouth. Destination unknown. This destination unknown
business is getting to be a regular thing as far as the crew is concerned.
it seems that when we go into port we pick up sealed orders and the captain
doesn't open them until we are well out of harbor.
We pulled into Milford, Wales, a British territory near Bristol.
Underway again leaving British Isles.
Arrived at Belfast, Ireland.
Left Belfast. Ten miles out, orders opened - Return to New York.
Arrived at New York.
Left new York for high seas. Leaving in a hurry. Things don't look good.
Joined the rest of our escort division and big convoy of carriers, cruisers,
and battlewagons. Looks like the playing is over with. Have one of the best
crews in the navy. The Gunnery department has been proving their end of it in
Run into storm and wolf pack off the Azores, but are losing no time with either
of them. Scuttlebutt is there's an invasion coming off somewhere on the coast
of France. Have never seen so many Bibles. Man from Fire room goes off his
bean and jumps overboard. Can't use lights to find him for fear of exposing
position of convoy to the subs in the area.
Looks like the invasion was postponed until today because here we are just out
in the channel from Normandy, and things are just beginning to happen in a big
way. The biggest fleet I have ever seen approximately four thousand ships
including landing craft.
Left fleet for open seas.
Arrived at Bayogne, New Jersey. Population - a big skating rink full.
Left New Jersey and one day later, arrived at Melville, Rhode Island.
Left Rhode Island prepared for rough sea.
Went through Straight of Gibraltar by the "Rock."
Arrived in Oran, Africa and left the following day.
Arrived at Casablanca (French Morocco) and left same day. Long time no
liberty. Pick up convoy later.
Arrived at Birzerte (Graveyard of American Air Force during Northern Africa
Campaign) and left convoy.
Returned to Oran.
Left Oran. Really like this Mediterranean duty. Sea is almost like glass.
Visibility about seven miles to horizon.
Arrived in Malta, the most bombed area on the map at this time. Assigned duty
of escorting carriers in the Mediterranean area. First task force of carriers
to operate in this area. Word is there are six German destroyers in the Crete
area. Formed task groups to scout the area.
Arrived in Alexandria, Egypt after steaming to Crete, Tunisia, and Tripoli.
First Americans to visit Egypt in form of fleet.
Arrived in Malta.
Passed Sicily, Isle of Capri and arrived in Naples, Italy. Got Liberty but
couldn't hardly get around the place for the soldiers. They have completely
taken over and it looks like they are doing it under orders. Must be going
to push on toward France.
Left Naples. Fleet enlarging rapidly. Put in command of L. C. T.'s. Things
look kinda big once again. Never did like the looks of big convoys, especially
when things start getting hush-hush---.
Arrived in Corsica with all types of landing barges, ships, "men-of-war" and
After refueling, left Corsica with nothing less than an invasion fleet.
Approximately two thousand ships including landing craft.
Just 75 miles off the coast of German occupied southern France. Executive
officer makes another of his well-needed pep talks.
D-Day at 0800, all hell breaking loose with all ships showering the shore with
shells from 30 calibre to 16 inch shells. Paratroops dropping about twenty
miles inland, dog fights in the air, ships and landing craft going in. Tatum w
as first to send a man ashore, the captain being the landing operational
commander. We stay in one place for two days using sonar for sub detection,
radar for enemy planes and aircraft, and taking on men who were losing their
ships. Bombers and fighters flying in formation from all angles, as many as
a hundred in a group. St. Tropey.
With everything going well, left at flank speed. Twelve hours later, arrived
in Corsica to escort and to pick up ships that were not seaworthy. This and
patrolling for subs through August 23.
Arrived in St. Raphel, France. Kept this run up through the 29th at which time
we changed to Ile Rousse to France.
Anchored at Corsica for the first time now in about a month. Had a midnight
movie, "Dixie" by some Crosby fellow. Made a few temporary repairs.
Underway again, making shuttle runs. War still going on over here. Sprinkling
rain all day. French navy has come out of hiding now and has anchored in
U. S. protected ports.
Changed run from Corsica to Gulf of St. Tropez.
Changed run from Patalia, Sardinia to Corsica.
Pulled into Bastia, Corsica and secured main engines for first time in God
Here we go again.
Arrived in Cagloneo and what do you know, we get liberty - After getting our shore legs we visited King Victor Emmanuel's castle. Went through court room, secret session room and many other interesting places in the building. Had beautiful paintings, even on the 50 foot ceilings.
Underway again. Arrived in Bostia the following night.
Left Corsica at flank speed for Naples to pick up mail we hadn't had in ages.
Ran into a lose mine field just outside Naples. had to explode most of them
before going in. Not much on personal mail but ship's mail might prove
interesting once opened.
Picked up six big L. S. T.'s and out to sea again.
Destination now affirmed as Marseille. Supposed to get there tomorrow night.
Germans now evacuating.
Due to rough seas, date of arrival set back indefinitely. Water pretty, but
dangerous. Giant swells larger than ships and very high winds. Looks like a
snow-storm on a black background. Would like to take pictures, but with navy
rules of no cameras, haven't been able to smuggle camera aboard. No like.
Damages heavy on L. S. T.'s in storm and losing ground at rate of one knot
per hour, even though we are supposed to be going forward at 15 knots per
hour. Had to turn back and go with the storm all night. Poor soldiers on
L. S. T.'s. Sea sick, I'll bet.
Ended up back in Sardinia, but here we go again for Marseille. Storm over.
Arrived in Marseille. Went ashore once for liberty and several other times
as captain's boat engineer. Liberty from 1300 to 2000. Don't want us loose
after that. Got one break pertaining to late liberty. Got back to ship when
wind was so high that the swells wouldn't let us get near ship for fear of
tearing up boat. Get orders to return ashore and remain until wind settled.
Wind doesn't Not mad. Got back to ship about noon next day. Big hang-over.
German prisoners helping to load U. S. ships with supplies. Big cathedrals
all over town not damaged. City not bombed as bad as other cities here.
mail! Liberty! Was just looking through science news letters and noticed
that they inform us that rubber wear on curves over here is 1200% greater
than that on straight aways...Wonder if they are referring to girdles.
Shoved off at 1800. Arrived in Cagloirea 10th.
Left same for Marseille.
Arrived in Marseille.
Left same with destination not verified.
Arrived in Birzerte.
Left Birzerte. On the move again like a nervous cat. This always means
something is going to happen for the best or worst.
Arrived in Mers El Kibis.
Lit off main engines for trial run. Anchored in same port.
Lit off again to go out and fire guns. No dope. Looks like they're trying
to decide what to do with us. Part of escort has already been detached from
our unit and has gone through the Suez to the Pacific. The fleet here has
just about wound up their work and it could mean bad news. However, no
pressure seems to be on the crew.
Underway. Scuttlebutt is Toulon, France just taken. Should be good liberty.
Convoying thirteen liberty ships.
Orders changed, because we are changing course.
Left for Naples with a big troop transport.
Arrived in Naples.
Underway with same big transport. They must like us. Loaded with men.
Its either thru the Suez to the Pacific or to the States because troop ships
don't hang on like that if they aren't going somewhere. Pressure on men
started with a few smiles. No information. Just a feeling one gets after
a little time in this outfit.
Gloom day. The latest scuttlebutt is we go thru the Suez canal into the
Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and join the Fifth Fleet now having it out at Leon.
Don't think we're gonna like this. If someone would only drop a wrench into
some of the machinery. Are having to use our 6th sense because there's no
sign of the other five yet.
Anchored at Oran. We'll get orders from fleet commander today. Of course,
we won't know anything until we get out to sea.
Out in Mediterranean for gunnery competition. Back to Oran and a few repairs.
Left Oran for Gibralta. Secured main engines. Crew going ashore in groups to
visit ancient hero gardens, gallows, torture chambers, and other historical
landmarks. Via train, went part of the way on "The Rock" - couldn't go in
tunnels. Have never been here before.
Underway thru Straight and into Atlantic.
Arrived in Casablanca. Liberty one day. Left next day for open sea.
Destination New York. (Hmmm) Ran into quite a storm about a thousand miles
off and had to change course until we got down even with Bermuda. Went by
Bermuda and up the Carolina Coast and on into new York.
Arrived in Brooklyn, Navy Yard, but moved following day to Statten Island.
Ship being converted from Destroyer Escort (D. E.) to Auxilliary Personnel
Destroyer (A. P. D.) This means we will be quite a while and will get
Got 30 day leave
Returned to New York to find ship gone from Statten Island. After calling
everyone but Walter Winchell, found out that the ship was over in Brooklyn.
O.K., because either place was only 30 minutes from up-town New York. After
a little work here, back to Statten Island for completion.
Arrived in Norfolk to take amphibious training and to take on Underwater
Arrived in Limon Bay, Panama.
Went thru Panama Canal and stopped at Panama City for refueling.
Arrived in San Diego, and are going to get liberty. Be here for two weeks,
so Look Out Hollywood! Went to Los Angeles on first week-end and on into
Hollywood. Visited the Hollywood Canteen. (Nothing like it was cracked up
to be.) Went to Hollywood Paladium (biggest and finest club in the world),
next week-end to Pacific Square in San Diego. Both places had good bands,
as well as all clubs in New York. Shaw and Carle were on the coast at this
time and at the two above places.
Arrived at Pearl harbor (Oahu, Hawaii).
Honolulu, Hawaii, went swimming at Wakiki Beach. Got drunk at Wakiki Beach
Mealean Bay (Maui, Hawaii).
On move again and me no likum. Polishing guns, making dummy runs,
maneuvering, and doing all the things that mean no vacation.
Arrived at Eniwetok Atoll, refueled, and on toward that thar other war.
Arrived at Withi Atoll, but just long enough to fuel, and some women wanted
sailors to pitch them coins for doing ungraceful things like pulling off their
hats, etc. near Yap, an island still inhabited by the Japanese, but are
isolated from rest of world to starve to death. Ships aren't even taking up
enough time to waste shells on them.
Into Northern Luzon with underwater demolition teams to blow up underwater
obstructions so ships could come in with small invasion forces. Got too hot,
and losing too many teams , so had to get out. main fleet up fooling around,
or I should say, having it out at Okinawa. Not enough sea fit ships here to
stage an effective invasion. Orders to join the fleet under Halsey at Okinawa.
Went into Hagushi [?] Bay, Okinawa. Refuelled at sea.
Went into Wise Man's Cove to pick up some kind of assignment. This I know I
won't like, because things are too hot now. Raids at any time of day or night
and they don't care who they send to see Davy Jones next. Ships folding up
like wings on a crashing plane. Some going down in as little as 40 and 50
seconds with as little as twelve men getting off. Was saved by the bell one
time today. The ship that took our position in the patrolling fleet was just
hit by two suicide planes. Not many enemy subs, but have never seen so many
planes. Would make a beautiful picture. When they get hit and set on fire,
they level off just above the water level and head directly toward a group of
ships and the only thing that will prevent being hit is skillful work by
Captain and a gun crew that can probably explode the plane before it reaches
you. Of course, if it were not for some expert machinists and engineers,
where would any of us be? That's one the crew usually argues out while not
Refueled at sea and are next in line to go up near I E Shima on a lone picket
duty. This is to keep subs from coming in on that side of the island and
picking up important Japs and relay messages of approaching aircraft from
Kyusu and Formosa. Looks like a suicide assignment because the ship just
before the one leaving now for the assignment lasted 15 hours. Understand
the Captain asked for this. He drops ten points with me but he is still the
best skipper, says our crew, in this here Navy.
Same day: The ship that went up at noon today was sunk at 1600 (4: p.m.) and
because there were no other ships to pick up the crew they are given up as
lost. Island nearest it is occupied by Japs. Took over where she left off
at 2000 (8:00 p.m.) and all is well at this point.
Halsey pulls out with some of our best and fastest ships just to fool around
the coast of Japan and try to make them think we had just about finished here.
I think we need everything we have here, but I'm not admiral yet!
Here we are still waiting to join the last ships that were here but not before
we cause somebody some trouble. it has been almost two days. just off I. E.
Shima (Ernie Pyle was killed here). Nobody saying anything to anybody. About
sundown the captain sounds general alarm which means battle stations. We have
been living at general quarters for two weeks now and could stand about a week
without eating but sleeping. The report was six enemy planes, ten miles,
headed our way. Next report six planes three miles. Two planes changed
course because at two miles, only four planes. The following results was in
what seemed to be three hours (actually three minutes, 38 seconds.) We had
sent three of the enemy fighters and one two-engine bomber to kingdom come.
Our part of it was a suicide plane thru the engine room where I slept while
in enemy territory. I wasn't there then because I could not sleep this
particular night. Got a 550 pound bomb in Executive's cabin near the 5 inch
gun magazine, but fortunately it did not go off. Looks like we've been living
on borrowed time long enough. Taking on a little water in the engine room so
was relieved of duty and to our insult, the Admiral told the Captain a relief
had been on its way since he heard we were under attack. No sleep, it is too
uncomfortable with a keg of dynamite aboard. Finally disposed of the bomb and
by the time everybody got kinda settled, it was daylight. Got a pep talk from
Admiral Hill under Halsey and was tagged with the name "Plane-a-Minute Ship."
Same week was named "Ship of the Week" on some radio program.
While anchored in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, was raided twenty-two times from
midnight until 5:00 a.m. Am going to put in for overtime if this keeps up.
A total of seventy enemy planes were shot down during the five hours with a
loss of twelve U. S. Navy vessels. If lives were not at stake, I think this
is the most exciting invasion I have ever seen. There hasn't been a dull
moment yet and I don't remember a moment's silence. How long it will last
and who will win is anybody's guess. I think we need Halsey's fleet here,
but as I said, I'm not Admiral.
Not much going on. Guess they gotta run out a few more planes. Reports from
fleet off the coast of Japan good. Not much opposition. Few scattered suicide
planes. only bombing now. Question is, are they getting ready for a new
start, or don't they have anymore planes to use as targets? Captain goes
aboard Admiral's ship for orders. Still crippled with a little water coming
thru engine room. Number 1 main engine out of service.
Everything looking good, even if we are going to the Philipines. Left Okinawa
same day Captain picked up orders from Admiral.
Entering San Pedro harbor, Leyte Gulf, Philipines. Got here just in time for
Philipines' Liberation, which added another ribbon to our 'American Theater,"
"European Middle-Eastern," two stars, "Pacific Asiatic," two stars, making us
a total of four stars which is pretty good in such a short time. One and a
half months in drydock for temporary repairs with all sorts of rumors about
us going back state-side. plenty of beer parties and ball games. Ship wins
13 out of 15 games and wins island championship.
V-J-Day (Can't describe celebration)
Back at Buckner Bay, Okinawa. Rumors back at Leyte were flying a little wild.
Okinawa now in U. S. control All men go ashore in groups to see how bad things
were torn up. Don't know how the Jap army lived. Island covered with sweet
potato vines. Well fortified with underground concrete ammunition dumps and
all types of guns. Start making runs with more men-o-war ships and troops.
Can't be another war. Occupation, I guess.
Went into Yokohama[?], Honshu and took hotels and converted into hospitals
for P. O. W. 's before putting them aboard hospital for returning to U. S.
Men weighing as little as 75 pounds. Only fed them ice cream for two days,
and then soups. Later on, anything they wanted and as often as they wanted
to eat. Several dying of malnutrition. Herding Japanese soldiers into big
buildings after dark and standing guard, taking anything for souvenirs,
including buttons off coats, swords, bayonettes, etc. Marines finally get
here so we move on.
Arrived at Nagasaki, Kyushu for some job with news photographers aboard.
Made tours of Atomic bomb Area. had lost three men and two anchors in cyclone
off Osaka Bay, Japan, so had to take anchors from Japs Nagasaki Ship Yard.
Japs acting like scared rabbits. Navy sticks up signs reading 'Welcome
Marines." Finally getting relieved of duty by occupation forces (new men
just out of training in States). Might get to go home, but doubtful, as
the Navy has to see to the marines and soldiers around here. Soldiers
returning home by troop ship-loads. Poor Navy. Start leaving. The
question mark again. Optimism.
Arrived at Manila and Luzon in Philipines.
Subic Bay, Philipines. Where to from here is anybody's guess.
Arrived in Haiphong (French Indo-China). Picked up Nationalist Chinese Troops
and start north. Looks like we have gotten into the Chinese Army. Not Ding
Landed in Chin Wang Tao (Northern China at Great Wall) after being fired at by
Communists off Korea. Unloaded troops and started getting out. Its about
Arrived at Laker (North China), refueled, and pulled out again, but anchored
out. Very cold with water within five miles of Harbor frozen. Got 72 hours
liberty. Was picked up by ice cutters and after four hours of hacking our
way thru ice, got ashore.
Moved on down coast of China to Tsingtao where we didn't stay long enough to
throw rocks, but that o.k. as Shanghai is about the next big seaport and we
just can't pass that place without stopping and going ashore, or can we?
Arrived in harbor at Shanghai via WhangPoo River. Things are looking up.
Started getting liberty half ship at a time. More people of more races
than I've seen in many moons: Several big ballrooms with hot bands,
especially on the Ya Ya Ching Road by the ball park and race track (about
15 minutes via rickshaw). Next night, two thirds of ship on liberty, which
gives everyone two days leave and one night duty. Am standing duty engineer
every fifth night. Good racket. Spend almost three months and got in on the
Chinese New Years celebration starting Feb. 1 and lasting thru the third.
Arrived in Hong Kong. As big as Shang Hai. Ship taking on four striper
(captain) and being put in charge of Embarcation of Japanese, and whoever
doesn't belong in China. Looks like good duty as we will be here all the
time. Ship put in charge of U. S. Shore Patrol Headquarters. Looks like
Tatum crew is going to stay drunk ashore all night. Throw $1,500 party
for two days at Hong Kong's me Mae Keyo Ballroom being furnished drinks,
good band, and girls for guys that couldn't get them otherwise. Parties
still going on after ship's party, but at our own expense. Am getting
slant-eyed and understand a little Chinese.
A great day in my Navy career. Left Tatum for U. S. via U. S. S. new Yorker
A. P. L. II. Even though I am going home, it's kinda regretful leaving some
of the fellows, but this foreign country called U. S. A. has a reputation of
being good liberty...Ding Hao! Expect to be discharged in may! Went back
up to Shang Hai, from there on a 42 day trip via Hawaiians, thru Panama,
getting liberty again in Panama City, thru canal and on to Brooklyn. Went
out on liberty last night by sweet talking guard. next day, in charge of
a 19 man draft going to Memphis to be discharged. Can't do a thing with
the sots. Almost lost two of them in Ohio.
May 3 1946
Many Thanks to NavSource