DD 589 (Fletcher class)
We are seeking information on the USS Izard and her crews. Files and photos may be E-mailed to us and we will incorporate them into these pages.
From: Hugh Steele
Events Leading Up To The Final Battle Of Seattle It all started sometime in early 1943 with a specimen of urine in a test tube. I had applied to enter the Navy as an officer at the Office of Naval Officer Procurement on Pine Street in New York but failed the physical because someone mixed up the test tubes. I had been working for Sterling Products International in Newark, New Jersey. This company was expanding rapidly in Latin America and had sent a number of young men on assignments there. The work was considered to be in the national interest and for that reason draft boards had agreed to these assignments. My draft board objected to sending me. After two unsuccessful attempts to get their approval, we gave up. There was no doubt that I would be drafted into the armed forces – it was only a question of time. Friends of mine told me the Navy was looking for bright young people like me. With two university degrees I could probably begin as a commissioned officer and get into something interesting. It didn’t happen just that way but there was a naval career, with a precarious beginning. In early 1943 I went to the Office of Naval Officer Procurement (ONOP) in New York to give the Navy a chance to let me join as an officer. I was well received by a two-and-a-half striper (Lieutenant Commander) who had been a personnel manager in industry before he got in the Navy. I filled out a long form, took written and multiple-choice tests followed by an interview. All very pleasant. He told me there were two or three different programs for which I might qualify. If so, I would be commissioned an Ensign and then sent for two months to an Officer Indoctrination School But first there was the physical examination during the afternoon. The physical examination went very well. (I was told that I was underweight for my height but that could be waived.) After the physical, my principal contact told me I should return the following Monday, when we would complete the procedure. Getting into the Navy appeared to be no problem. The following Monday, my two-and-a-half striper friend took me to his office and closed the door. My application could not proceed because I had failed the physical! I was told that I suffered from a serious kidney disease and, in my condition, would not be accepted by any armed service, in any capacity. He was most sympathetic and suggested that I consult a specialist without delay. The same day I located a specialist urologist and told him my story, pointing out that I felt fine and was not aware of any medical problem. For several days I was put through all sorts of tests, with specimens of urine taken at various times with a variety of diets. When this was finished, the urologist told me there was nothing wrong with my kidneys – obviously the test tube at ONOP had been mixed up with someone else’s, and the Navy had probably admitted the other guy who was really sick. “Will you put your conclusion in writing?” I asked. “Of course, that’s my job.” Armed with this document I lost no time in getting back to the ONOP to see my friend. I asked him if this specialist’s medical opinion solved my problem. He told me it solved my personal problem, and the document might have some value in my file, but was unacceptable because it was not written by a Navy doctor! “Then let me piss in one of your test tubes today, and a Navy doctor can get the question settled.” He said that would seem to make sense in normal circumstances, but regulations did not permit a new examination for six months, the earliest date when an improvement in my “illness” might be expected. In the meantime, my file was closed. There was no mention of the problem created by having admitted someone who really was ill. It wasn’t long after that I received my notice to report to the Newark Induction Center, a huge, drafty drill hall. At one point during these proceedings, there were about 200 men standing naked in formation in the drill hall. On the wall facing us, there was a huge sign which read, “If you have had any of the following, raise your right arm.” The long list included tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, arthritis, glaucoma, syphilis, etc., etc. I raised my right arm. An Army sergeant whose bay window was spilling over his low slung belt came along. “Okay, Mac, what do you think is wrong with you?” “One of the conditions shown on the wall is severe kidney disease. That’s my problem.” “And whatever gave you that idea?” “I was so informed by the Office of Naval Officer Procurement in New York.” I was asked to step into a small room, tell my story to a doctor, and give him a specimen in a test tube. Then I went back to the drill hall to finish the rest of the examination. JANE’S CRITICAL ROLE Finally, the 200 men were told to dress and form a single line in front of a door where the sergeant with the frontal protuberance was in charge. At that time, according to law, each draftee was to have the opportunity to say which armed service he preferred. Although the letter of the law was observed, it had nothing in fact to do with the fate of a draftee. As each man came to the door, he was asked his preference, and this was marked on a form attached to his papers, which he took with him as he passed through the door. In the next room there were four desks: The Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard – in that order. On that day there was no one at the Coast Guard desk – they didn’t need anyone that day, or the officer had failed to show up – but the other desks were operating. The friendly sergeant sent a man into the room as soon as the chair in front of any desk became vacant. I had expressed my preference, I had my papers and hoped the Navy chair would be vacant or, failing that, even the Marine Corps – at least they might know about the ONOP. Not my luck, the Army chair was vacant. “Next.” I had to move to the empty chair in front of the Army desk. “It says here you want to be in the Navy. Why?” “My brother is in the Navy, and I think I might like it.” “Look, there is nothing wrong with the Army. You will like it. You’ll see”, and reached for the rubber stamp. Then his telephone rang. “Damit, Jane, I’ve told you not to call me here. I’m busy . . . Yeah, we can talk about it later, but don’t invite that drip. The gal is OK, but I’d rather we just had something to eat and then went to my place, but I can’t talk now . . . Look, I’ll meet you at 7:30 and . . . I’m sorry, but I can’t go into that now . . “ At this point the chair in front of the Navy officer became vacant, and before the next man could be sent in, he asked; “Did I hear you say you wanted to be in the Navy?” “Yes, Sir.” He reached over to the Army desk, picked up my papers, slammed a rubber stamp on the top form and said: “You’re in the Navy now. Report to the railway station at 0900 on Tuesday. Next. . . .“ HOW TO BEAT THE SYSTEM On Tuesday, off we go to the Newport (RI) Naval Training Station, otherwise known as Boot camp. I believe that Boot camp in peace time was stretched out in some ghastly way over three or four months. During the war, mercifully, everything was accelerated, and Boot camp lasted only six weeks. All of the men drafted into the Navy from Newark left by train at 0900 for Providence, and from there by bus to Newport. There we were dumped into a large drill hall. It was already late afternoon, and there was a mass of confusion. Each draftee had been told to bring with him a small suitcase, which we had to leave in a small room for safekeeping. Then we were herded into a mess hall for our introduction to Navy chow. Many years later in 1979, I had the opportunity to visit the Navy Submarine Base in Connecticut and was astonished to see a building identified as Enlisted Personnel Dining Facility! The mess hall had gone along way. In the 1943 mess hall, I was amazed to see black-out curtains being put up over the windows. No one else was doing this on the East coast. I guess the Navy thought German submarines would be very selective or, more likely, no one had thought to change the orders since early 1942. After evening chow – maybe they call it dinner now – we were herded back to the drill hall where each man recovered his bag and was issued a folding cot with two blankets. With no semblance of order, each man put up his cot in the drill hall and finally the place settled down for the night. I thought about the next day. There certainly would be even more confusion as more than 200 men tried to fold the cots and blankets and get rid of them. So I decided to beat the system! I was up early and had my stuff ready before there was any announcement. Then the word came: NOW HEAR THIS . . .All the cots and blankets were to be turned in at a long counter at one side of the drill hall, and we were to line up. I was first in line. When the doors opened, a guy inside said: “First six men bring your kits inside and help stow the cots and blankets.” Result: I was late for what passed for breakfast and on the wrong foot for all that followed. I had just learned the first of many Navy rules necessary for survival: NEVER BE FIRST. Soon thereafter I learned the next two rules: NEVER VOLUNTEER and for God’s sake, NEVER BE LAST! After this educational experience, we were herded to an old two story building, which had been Navy barracks since the Civil War. About 100 men were pushed into each floor which had four toilets, four wash basins and four shower heads. There were no bunks, but places to hang hammocks. Soon we were pushed along in some order past issuing tables to receive a sea bag, hammock, thin mattress pad, mattress cover, two blankets and clothing. The rest of the day was spent stenciling names on everything. Next we changed into navy clothes – barn door pants and all – and marked our suitcases containing the civilian clothes to be sent wherever we wanted. Next we learned how to hang the hammock and the sea bag along the wall beside the hammock – no locker, no shelf, no cupboard, - the sea bag containing all of one’s personal things – must always be closed and always hung properly. Nothing to be left about the deck – for otherwise it would be confiscated. In some strange way, the Navy reminded me of the Amish people in Kansas. The men wore barn door pants just as in the Navy, and in the dining rooms of the farm houses, the chairs were hung from hooks on the wall when not in use so no one could sit down when not eating. In the Navy the hammocks could not be opened during the day. There was quite literally no place to sit down, except for two or three benches along the wall for 100 men. The next day we began to learn the routine. Reveille at 0600 – a bugle through the loud speaker with goons going through the barracks hitting the bottoms of hammocks with clubs: “Come alive – hit the deck – everybody up.” Within 5 minutes everyone had to be lined up on the parade whence we departed for a morning run lasting 40 minutes. We learned soon enough this was designed to have everyone cough up his lungs, as everyone soon contracted the chronic Newport respiratory infection. The medical people were looking after us. At this season – early autumn, the morning run was done in compete darkness. Back from the run, we had 45 minutes exactly to wash – if we wanted to do so with 25 men per shower or sink – and have the standard breakfast of shit on a shingle (beans on soggy toast) and assemble for quarters at 0730. There the training machine took over and probably nothing had changed since the Civil War. Each floor of the barracks was a company and lined up separately. My company was on the second floor, and our man in charge was a sadist named Tagalakis, Specialist (T) 2/c – the T stood for teacher, of all things. After the endless roll call, all information was communicated in a great loud voice: “NOW HEAR THIS” to start with, and if the communication required any action, each message closed with “ON THE DOUBLE.” Each man was supposed to do his own laundry and each piece of clothing had holes in it so that it could be hung up with pieces of cord provided for the purpose. There were several problems: first, where to wash the clothes with only four sinks available per 100 men; second, where to hang the clothes with the pieces of cord provided so that they would not be stolen while we were out on endless, mindless drilling; and third, how to find clean clothes within the time provided in a deep sea bag – remember leave nothing loose about the deck and always leave the sea bag hanging properly. I don’t think I ever reached more than on-third the way down my sea bag during the time I was in Boot camp – there was no time, and it wasn’t safe. The result was almost nothing was washed during the six weeks we were together. The weather turned very cold, and I remember I did not take off the Navy issue blue wood sweater for a month. We took showers as often as we washed clothes. The medical people were taking good care of us. By no means do I wish to convey the impression that the Navy did not care about its people. They had personnel specialists – I think they had the designation of (S). It was during the second week that the entire company was marched off to a building where everyone spent most of the afternoon waiting, but during that time each man had from 15 to 20 minutes actually sitting down with a Specialist (S). On a standard form, the specialist noted down each man’s education, work experience, skills and so on. Watch repairmen would not be confused with refrigeration mechanics. (I had the opportunity at the end of my Boot camp experience to confirm that this information was transferred to IBM punched cards, so that sorting by skill, education, work experience or age could be done easily.) For me the important thing about this interview was to tell the specialist that there was a file of information about me on Pine Street in New York. There was no doubt about it! The machine worked. A few days later standing in the rain at morning quarters I heard the welcome news: “NOW HEAR THIS Steele, H.G. Seaman 2/c proceed to sick bay for urine test ON THE DOUBLE.” But was this the Pine Street file finally catching up, or the question raised in the Newark Induction Center? No matter. There was evidence of organization. Any fact or unfact that is recorded in the system will never be dislodged. The immediate prospect was more pissing in test tubes! But more about the Navy’s concern about people. One morning as we were being shouted at, came this message: “NOW HEAR THIS all men whose names begin with the letter A through H, take two paces forward NOW.” There were the shuffling sounds of men moving. Then there was a special roll-call for those from A through H and they were ordered to return to barracks, get their gear and assemble for a bus to pick them up at 0830. We learned later that these men had just gone through an alphabetical selection – chosen for armed guard duty on merchant ships. They didn’t need selection specialists or IBM for that process – perhaps Civil War procedures were seeping out of the walls. Anyway it was a good thing my name is not Baker or Carlson. No one gives a draftee entering Boot camp a survival kit or special instruction about how to deal with the Navy way. But it was vital to adapt quickly or quite literally drown in the system. I was lucky not only because I had that first morning instruction about not being first, but especially because a great hulk of a man in my company named Jaegle had been a cop in Newark and he liked me. His experience in the Newark police force had somehow uniquely qualified him to survive in the Navy environment. He was impeccably polite and courteous to established authority, whatever its stupidity, but at the same time, was well ahead working out ways to undermine, defeat, ignore or otherwise nullify orders whenever it suited him. He was a great man. The Boot camp was located on an island shared at one end by the Naval War College for senior officers (Commanders and Captains). This was a stately, red brick, Georgian structure surrounded by immaculate gardens and looking out on – you guessed it – a drill field! It had a sort of academic air about it – from the sublime to the ridiculous. No one was permitted to know how many people there were at the Naval War College, but there were about 5,000 men on the rest of the island – the “boots” at Boot camp – their name came from the requirement that they had to wear canvas leggings. Hence, a “boot” was a sailor who could be easily identified and shouted at by anyone who wasn’t. In addition to the main entrance bridge to the island, sternly manned by guards from the Marine Corps, there was a foot bridge which connected the island with a part of the mainland, where there were dozens of service schools for radio men, radar men, mechanics, cooks, machinist’s mates, yeomen (in years past didn’t they have something to do with bows and arrows?), storekeepers, etc. On this piece of the mainland there were perhaps 10,000 men involved in these activities. In this area there was a fine ship’s service store where one could buy ice cream, the New York Times, magazines, hamburgers, and find some peace and quiet. Jaegle and I decided that something had to be done to keep our sanity. We found a graduating group of boots which had acquired a supply of permits for using the footbridge. Normal naval personnel could come and go as they liked, but boots needed a special permit to escape from the tyranny of Tagalakis and others like him. There was a lethargic guard at the bridge who really didn’t care what happened so long as a boot had a special permit properly signed by appropriate authority. We bought the supply of permits at wholesale prices, and then found someone who had access to office facilities who could mimeograph additional supplies. Signatures were not important so long as there was something illegible together with the typed name of Lieutenant Smith or whatever – there had to be a signature. Jaegle and I used many of the permits for our own movements, but also sold them to others for 50 cents each. We built up a little capital to be invested in the delights of the ship’s service store. We avoided endless grief and harassment by going across the footbridge with duly authorized permission, so long as we returned to our caretakers for the evening roll call procedures. But one had to be careful. One afternoon we were returning from the bridge to our area and Jaegle said: “There is that fucking CPO (Chief Petty Officer) from our area. He may recognize us. You follow my marching orders and look stupid.” “Hep, two, three, four – hep, two, three, four – hep, two, three, four – to the right, harsh, to the left, harsh, detail halt, hep, two. Hat ease.” “Good afternoon, Sir.” We saluted. (Only boots had to salute petty officers or address them as Sir). “What the hell are you guys doing out here?” “You see, Sir, Lieutenant Jones watched our company drill the other day and was very critical about Steele’s performance, so I was detailed to give him special instruction as you can see.” “OK let’s have a look.” “Detail tenshun. Fo’rd harsh, Hep, two, three, four, etc.” “Carry on.” That was a close call, but we were never caught. NEVER GET CAUGHT was the fourth rule of survival in the Navy. One morning Jaegle and I were part of a work detail to swab the drill hall. All the men got their buckets and mops and went at it. It turned out that we finished the work well before the next scheduled event. So we were told to mop it again. This was one of the times Jaegle and I took off for the footbridge. The fifth rule was: NEVER FINISH A PIECE OF WORK BEFORE IT IS EXPECTED TO BE FINISHED. Boots were not allowed any liberty for four weeks. Finally on the fourth week-end we got one day, and this was a Sunday. Since this was announced some days ahead, I had managed to telephone my wife and she came to Newport on Sunday morning. The only hotel in Newport did a huge business on weekends – we managed three hours in the afternoon and then had dinner together. My preparation for that event was to remove my blue sweater and take a shower. Finally, I was told to go to the selection office and there was another two-and-a-half striper – this one a former mathematics teacher – who had the Pine Street file! After a further interview and another specimen of urine, I was told that I would be held over after Boot camp was finished while awaiting news from Washington about my commission as an Ensign. I said good-bye to old buddy Jaegle – he ended up in the established Shore Patrol – and moved to a temporary barracks without hammocks and was given an assignment shoveling coal for two weeks – but without the leggings! One morning I was called in to give another specimen of urine and was sworn in as an Ensign. I was taken straight to the tailoring shop and fitted out with an officer’s blue uniform, went back to the barracks for my sea bag and moved in that night at the BOQ – bachelor officers quarters – and had dinner that evening with the mathematics professor. The next day I had orders to go to the OIS Officer Indoctrination School – at Princeton University with one week’s delay. OFFICERS’ BOOT CAMP My experience at Newport was invaluable. I found that I was faced with eight weeks of additional Boot camp. This time there were courses in Naval Regulations, Navigation, Naval History and so on, but at least half the time was spent in typical Boot camp drilling and procedures. The indoctrinees didn’t wear leggings, but were easily distinguished from other officers. We wore gray work uniforms without insignia of rank and raincoats that had no rank markings. We were not allowed to go into the town, Princeton, except on weekends, when we were required to wear the dress blue uniform showing rank. Every two weeks we were given liberty. The officer indoctrinees were housed in university dormitories. A typical Princeton student suite consisted of two bedrooms with adjoining study room for two students. The Navy put double bunks in the bedrooms and the suite designed for two now accommodated eight. Standard Boot camp procedures were followed. The entire dormitory assembled for quarters in the quadrangle at 0800 each morning. While we were so assembled receiving orders for the day and being shouted at, two sadists inspected the rooms. If the bunks were not properly made up, we received demerits, extra duty, cancelled liberty and other penalties. A properly made up bunk had to have the top blanket drawn across the mattress so tightly that the inspecting officer could bounce a coin on it. Underneath, the blankets had to be stretched tight between the mattress and the wires without leaving any loose ends dangling – no Irish pennants. Just as in Boot camp, the indoctrinees were not given enough time to shave, shower, go to mess hall and get back for quarters and still be able to make up the bunks properly. Some were driven to buy alarm clocks and get up before reveille so they would have more time to make up the bunks. On the first Saturday I went into town and bought two Navy blankets and a box of 200 common pins. It took two hours to make up the perfect bunk with the blankets pinned to the mattress underneath at intervals of about one inch. The made-up bunk was not changed for the whole time I was at Princeton. It was slept on but never slept in. My own blankets were stored in a cupboard during the day and used on top of the made-up bed at night. Each morning the made-up bed was quickly smoothed out to be sure it could stand the coin-bouncing test. Jaegle would have been proud of me. At one corner of the quadrangle there was a bulletin board where copies of the orders were posted each day. One morning I noticed an announcement about a special examination in one of the academic rooms at 1500 – it would take two hours. The day was cold, and the hour coincided with a drill period. So I did not bother to see what the examination was about – it would be a place to keep warm in reasonable comfort and avoid two hours of marching. It so happened that this examination was designed to test aptitudes for tactical radar – that is, plotting in CIC (Combat Information Center) and ability to read relationships and relative motion rapidly when looking at a radar scope (cathode ray tube – sometimes now called a picture tube). The examination consisted of a series of tests such as identifying the three parallel lines in a jumble of more than 100 lines on a page and a lot of others with optical illusions to confuse the problems. I was quite satisfied with the day – the objective had been achieved. Later, in one of the courses, I learned what CIC really is and found it was exciting – it is the place on the ship where all information from surface and air search radars is plotted and traced, and actually is the control center for many of the ship’s communications and operations. About three weeks before the indoctrination period came to an end, there were interviews with personnel officers. When it was my turn to be interviewed, the officer asked me what kind of duty I thought I might like. I told him something involving CIC would interest me. He said he was glad I said that because I would have no choice – my future orders would direct me toward working in CIC because I had the second highest score in the examination. Obviously, I was just a bystander – my naval career had a life of its own. Otherwise what was the explanation for Jane, the escape from alphabetical selection, Jaegle and this CIC examination? Though I believed my future was reasonably well defined, before leaving Princeton I had another go around with the Navy doctors. In the last week of the program there were to be final examinations on Thursday, orders issued on Friday and departures that same day. It had been very cold all week, and I began to suffer from an earache – another manifestation of the Newport disease. On Wednesday afternoon we had compulsory swimming for an hour in a vast indoor tank where the temperature was about 60 degrees. When I got back to the room at about 1730 my ear was throbbing, I didn’t go to dinner and didn’t cram for tomorrow’s examination; I simply wanted to sit beside the steam radiator. I had had an inner ear infection many years earlier and recognized the problem. At about 2100 hours I went over to sickbay. The duty pecker checker (Pharmacist’s mate) told me the doctor was out to dinner, but he gave me a tablet of Nembutal and three APC’s (aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine, commonly called all-purpose capsules; one of the Navy’s standard treatments). I could not sleep and the pain was excruciating – I went back to sickbay around midnight. I was told the doctor was now asleep and could not be disturbed but was offered more Nembutal and APC’s. Shortly thereafter, the eardrum burst, and I could feel the discharge flowing out of the inner ear. I went back to sick bay, and the pecker checker on mid-watch told me to go to bed in the ward. I slept until about 1500, then the Doctor looked at me, gave me some penicillin and a package of cotton to stuff in the ear and released me. Obviously I missed the examinations, but they really were of no importance. The orders had already been cut, and I left on Friday to report to Norfolk the following Monday. NORFOLK – BOOT CAMP GRADUATE SCHOOL By the time I reached Norfolk Navy Base, I had a high fever, and the drainage from the ear continued unabated. So on arrival I went directly to the Base Hospital and was admitted. They kept me for a week, and the ear cleared up – it was a good rest. Across the street from the hospital was a school to train ship’s cooks. The hospital had made a deal with the school to supply meals for the patients – but, of course, not for the staff. It was a good arrangement for the school, for otherwise the meals would be thrown out and some portions were actually edible. But I was fortunate that my wife brought me fresh fruit every day. While there, I read the entire volume of Lancelot Hogben’s The Loom of Language1. I made the acquaintance of a bright young fellow in the ward across the hall, and we discovered that we liked to play chess. One afternoon there was an inspection conducted by a medical four striper (Captain) while we were having a game in my room. When the officer came in the room, he pointed to the kid and asked, “Who’s this?” I told him “That’s Eddie from across the hall.” He was disposed of quickly, with a lecture that he was not to associate with officers. Out of the hospital, I was dumped with dozens of other officers arriving each week from the various OIS’s around the country, into what was called the destroyer pool. Though to all appearances we were now officers like any others, it became clear that this was a Boot camp graduate school. We all attended a variety of one-week courses – so designed because the content of the destroyer pool changed each weekend as some officers were shipped out and others arrived. One Monday morning we started a course in some radar application, and each officer was issued a notebook stamped Confidential with his name on it. It was to be used for taking notes during the course – information which could not be taken away from the school. Before the course really started but after the notebook had been issued, there was a note for me to go to the Base Hospital – for what? – you guessed it. They wanted a specimen of urine. When I returned I found the group had moved to another room for a class in navigation. My notebook was nowhere to be seen. I assumed a student officer had picked it up for me. I asked about it, but no one had seen it. The next morning I told the instructor about the missing notebook and asked for another one. He referred me to a security officer who said, with Gestapo-like pleasure: “So you finally missed your confidential notebook?” “Yes, you see just after it had been issued, I was called out of the room and did not return until after the group moved to another class. No one picked it up. But it is not a serious loss, because there was nothing written in it. I simply need another one.” “You say, not a serious loss! Indeed! What was printed on the front cover?” “Only my name.” “And? The word Confidential, right?” “Yes.” “Yes, what?” “Sir.” “As a consequence of your negligence you lost a Confidential Navy document which I am holding for you. So that you will understand in the future the importance of security of classified information, you are to have in my hands within 24-hours a written report on the circumstances surrounding your negligence.” So that evening I had to find a typewriter and create an explanation. The security officer’s name, by the way, was Lovejoy! There were no living quarters on the Base for married officers, so we lived in a rented room in the town. I had to be at quarters at 0800, in front of the destroyer pool, every morning; but one morning I did not wake up until 0750. Even by taxi my case was hopeless, so I had a long streetcar ride to think about what to do. What would the loathsome Lovejoy do with me now? But Jaegle’s training had prepared me. Considering the recognized incompetence of the wretched medical services, it is astonishing that they commanded such respect in the Navy. Almost any offense, indiscretion or absence was excused without question if one had a medical permit or chit. So after getting past the parade ground policemen (Marines) at the main gate around 0900, I went directly to the Base Hospital, Officer Records Section. I told the pecker checker on duty that I was to receive confidential orders for North Africa, and I needed updated inoculations for that area. He got my record and said: “But, Sir, you had most of those only five months ago.” “Do you want to get Commander Brown on the phone and tell him his orders will not be carried out?” “No, Sir.” And got his needles ready. Before leaving I told him I needed a chit. No problem. With this scrap of paper signed by him, I was spared no end of trouble. I could have stayed away from my unit all morning for the price of two sore arms. Norfolk was a huge naval establishment – by far the largest on the East coast. It included many Navy activities: an operating base for the Atlantic fleets, a departure point for convoys destined for the United Kingdom and, later, to the north Africa and Normandy landings; a naval repair facility; a supply depot, as well as a large training center and naval air station. Without including activities based in Portsmouth and Newport News, there probably were 80 to 100,000 naval personnel in and around Norfolk. The pitifully few restaurants, bars, stores and places of entertainment were completely inadequate for their requirements. This is where the signs on doors “Dogs and sailors not allowed” allegedly appeared. I never saw one of these, but I did see many “Enlisted personnel not allowed.” And where would you go if you were black? Norfolk is a city that had lived on the Navy for nearly 150 years, but still did not wish to accept it. The people of Norfolk not only believed in racial segregation, but also wanted those dreadful sailors segregated from civilians. And these characteristics created an immensely complex installation for dealing with the ordinary garden variety problem of human waste. The Navy had its problems in providing for defecation and micturition. The Ships Service Store at the Base was the largest anywhere. It really was a small department store serving the needs of the naval personnel and their dependents, which the city could not, or at least did not, provide. One could buy clothing, furniture, jewelry, kitchenware, curtains, shoes, leather goods, books, household equipment, etc., etc. The human waste problem created by customers and staff took on grotesque dimensions. A toilet in the Navy is called the Head. The explanation for this unusual expression comes down from the days of sailing vessels. The officers and important passengers on sailing vessels always had their quarters aft below the quarter deck. The crew were placed as far away as possible in the bow of the ship below decks. There was, of course, no toilet for them – they hung their bottoms over the side, at the head of the ship. The Ships Service Store obviously had to have a Head – actually more than one – many of them. First of all, in the Navy it could not be imagined that officers and enlisted men might possibly urinate in the same place. So there were two Heads. The Store had civilian staff – male and female – so that meant two more. The officers would not allow civilian males to piss in their Head, and the civilians refused to be included in the enlisted men classification – hence another. There was a growing number of women in the Navy – officers and enlisted WAVES, plus Navy nurses who always had been officers – two more heads, plus another for civilian females. Then there were blacks. There were many black enlisted men, and I actually saw one or two black officers – two more heads. The black civilian staff, male and female followed the same rules as the white staff, and had to have separate facilities not shared with naval personnel – hence two more heads. I had never seen such a battery of toilets. What if one was in a hurry! HOLLYWOOD BEACH HOTEL With orders for a two-month course in tactical radar at this elite school, we traveled overnight by train to Florida. Finally I was in a civilized, professional environment. The courses were intensive – many dealing with technical aspects of radar, for which my education had not prepared me, but somehow I managed. Many of the instructors were former university professors, and those with practical experience from the battle of the Coral Sea, Midway and others were extremely smart and able teachers. For them the Navy was a serious business – no room for horse shit people like Lovejoy. We were treated like intelligent and well-motivated students. What a relief! Apart from the usual urine specimen procedure and the requirement to stand watch one night every two weeks, it was hard to believe that this was the same organization. There weren’t any tourists in Florida in those days, so we were able to rent a small, furnished apartment within one block from the beach and about four blocks from the hotel which had been taken over completely by the Navy. Warm days and salt water swimming made up the final cure for the Navy’s Newport disease. We enjoyed it immensely. At the end of the course, we returned briefly to Norfolk where I received within a few days orders to be the CIC officer on the USS Izard (DD 589) with one week’s delay – thus having time to visit my family on the way across to San Francisco. On arrival there, I was in the St Francis Hotel, which had become a Navy BOQ. I had nothing to do except check in at a desk every morning at 0900 to see if my onward transportation orders were ready. This went on for a few days, so I telephoned my wife to come out. With incredible luck, we found a small furnished apartment right near the Berkeley campus – in happier times the apartment building, owned by the University of California, was for graduate students. We had almost two weeks together before the BOQ telephone told me to board a naval transport that afternoon. Soon after this my wife got a job at the Oakland Navy Depot. I was off to find my ship in the Pacific. ULITHI After having been shipped to Manus Island in the Admiralty group near New Guinea, I was sent north to Ulithi, and there was the Izard2. Ulithi is a large atoll – a collection of islands formed by coral surrounding a large lagoon. This lagoon is huge and provided a safe anchorage for the entire PACIFIC FLEET, COMPRISED OF HUNDREDS OF SHIPS. It was the forward operating base for the Third or Fifth fleet – always the same fleet, but the designation was changed depending on the Admiral in charge. When Admiral Halsey was in charge, it was the Third fleet, and then became the Fifth Fleet when Admiral Spruance and his staff arrived from Pearl for a new operation. Halsey and company would then return to Pearl to prepare for a future operation. One of the islands forming the atoll is called Mog Mog, about one square mile in area, but oval shaped. It was a recreation island for fleet personnel and controlled almost entirely by Sea Bees (naval Construction Battalion) who had built the small boat docks and were responsible for maintenance. At one end of the island there were a number of cottages for senior and flag officers (Commanders, Captains and Admirals – that is, any officer who had scrambled egg on the visor of his cap.) At the other end of the island there was a small Army coast artillery unit. If there ever had been a reason for locating coast artillery here for the defense of Mog Mog, it had vanished long ago, when Ulithi became the fleet’s forward operating base. If the Navy could not take care of the island, there was little a few coast artillery guns might be able to do. When the fleet was in the lagoon, on a typical day there could be several thousand sailors recreating on the beach. Each ship would send a percentage of its complement to the island in its own small boats in the morning and be prepared to pick them up again in late afternoon. Sometimes the men carried with them sandwiches and other things for lunch. There was nothing available on the island except the standard ration of three cans of warm beer – the Sea Bees also supplied ball bats, gloves and gambling tables for dice and other things. Each ship sent with a group of men its own shore patrol (SP) units – usually consisting of one officer and two or three men with SP arm bands. Just what these SP units were supposed to do did not become apparent until the time came to clear the island and herd the men back to the boat landings. On one of these typical days, I was in charge of the SP unit from the Izard to go with our men to have a few hours on shore. Each received his three cans of beer – a few did not drink at all, others only had one or two cans, and many consumed the excess beer to the point some became quite drunk. Although naval ships did not carry hard liquor on board, there was no doubt it was available from somewhere – there were certainly several Jaegles operating in the fleet. Most of the men spent the time walking or swimming, playing card games and rolling dice. When word was passed for men to return to the boat landings, all SP units began to patrol the forest of palm trees to find the drunks and push them toward the landings. On this typical day, my group went deep into the palm forest near the senior officer cottages looking for strays. In an area of heavy undergrowth, we came across a frozen food reefer, about the size of a moving van, which was guarded by two armed Sea Bees patrolling around it. I asked; “What in hell are you guarding here? Do you expect a Japanese attack?” “For Crissake, Sir, we’ve got frozen chickens and steaks in here, and the coast artillery at the other end of the island are on K rations!” Once on board the Izard there were many new things to learn and quickly. But it was not surprising that I was asked for a specimen of urine! My contacts with real seagoing officers at Hollywood Beach suggested that I might find a different and better standard of performance from the medical department on board ship, as compared with the shore based facilities I had seen. Not true. The medical officer on the Izard was Dr. Swanbeck from Ohio, who had just qualified as a pediatrician when the Navy picked him up. According to Naval Regulations, a medical officer was not required to do anything other than his professional duties, though I had heard of many doctors who assisted with decoding work, some aspects of training, and other activities – they were not allowed to stand watch. But our Swanbeck obeyed the regulations. He did nothing to help, and since no one on board was able to check up on his professional performance, he did nothing at all. His time was spent sitting in the wardroom, drinking vast amounts of coffee and moaning about his fate. He would tell anyone who would listen that a lot of money had been invested in his education and now was the time he could have cashed in with a huge income at home, in view of the shortage of doctors. The only thing standing in his way was the goddam Navy. One night one of us gently reminded him that there were only two professional naval officers on board, and the nineteen others were all in the same situation. “But there is a big difference in my case. I am a doctor.” Swanbeck was always ready for a game of cribbage, bridge or acey ducey, but mostly played solitaire. He never appeared at morning sick call just after quarters. He remained in the wardroom, while his two qualified pecker checkers took sick call. One morning one of them appeared in the ward room. “It’s Simpson again, Sir. He says he has a pain in the gut.” “How did he get to sick call?” “I guess he walked, Sir.” “Then he’s not sick. Give him a dose of black and white with two APC’s and return him to duty.” Black and white was the standard Navy laxative. In addtiion to this and APC’s the other standard Navy remedy was something called brown’s mixture, given to anyone complaining of a sore throat. The taste was so awful that this was a rare complaint. At general quarters the dressing station was the wardroom table, so Swanbeck literally had no need to leave it, except when he remained in the sack below. Fortunately the ship’s company of some 320 was made up of young, healthy men. The oldest could not have been much over forty. There was only one serious accident on the Izard, and this was an electrician who tried to do some welding on a wet deck. But he was not a medical problem; he died. OFFICER’S SERVANTS In World War II they were black. Earlier many had been Filipinos, but the supply had been cut off. On the Izard they were black – six stewards and one Chief Steward. In the ship’s organization they belonged to the supply department, but during general quarters, the group manned one of the guns, and in that activity they belonged to the gunnery department. But in their work as officers’ servants, they were responsible to the wardroom mess treasurer. The mess treasurer was an unusual institution. Officers did not receive free meals as did enlisted personnel. Each month the supply officer billed the wardroom for meals supplied, and the mess treasurer paid the bill. He in turn divided the amount by the number of officers on board at the end of the month and collected this amount from each one. The officers had the advantage of having the ship’s food served them from the wardroom pantry, where the food could be kept hot or cold. Also there were special items from the wardroom mess locker, such as chocolate syrup, strawberry preserves and such things purchased by the mess treasurer when in port. It was the duty of the stewards to look after the officers. One was on duty in the wardroom at all times to serve coffee at any hour, to prepare sandwiches, a dish of ice cream, etc. Two stewards were always on duty to serve meals. In addition, they cleaned the officers’ staterooms and toilets in wardroom country one deck below the wardroom. I don’t know when they found time to practice as a gunnery team. Instead of having the petty officer in charge, the Chief Steward, be supervised by the supply department to which this group belonged, he reported to the mess treasurer – a different one every two months. It cannot be imagined that the position of mess treasurer was a choice assignment. The position was filled by the most junior officer, who had not yet had the job, “democratically” elected, every two months by the officers. Every mess treasurer had his own work to do, had to stand his watches, never got enough sleep and hoped the two month assignment would go by without serious problem. Then he could deliver the book of accounts to his successor with the certainty that he would not have this task again for a very long time. When I reported aboard the Izard, it was certain that I would be the next mess treasurer. It was my first sea duty, and I had a lot to learn very rapidly about my own job as well as the junior officer of the deck watches, so I could be qualified as an OOD (Officer of the Deck) as soon as possible, so the others could get more sleep. In the midst of all this, I was elected mess treasurer. It was a characteristic of the officer group on the Izard that many came from the South. The Captain was from Georgia, the Exec from Virginia, the Assistant Gunnery Officer from South Carolina and others from Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana. The ship was built in Charleston – commissioned in May 1943 – perhaps that had something to do with it. One night just after midnight, as I was coming off the first watch, I stopped in the wardroom for some fruit juice before hitting the sack. In about one day in three, the watch standing officers had this golden opportunity to get 5 to six hours of uninterrupted sleep, until general quarters at first light. In the wardroom there were the Captain, the Exec and two other officers. The Exec did all the talking. “We’ve been meaning to talk to you about the lousy service around here. Wardroom country looks like a shit house, service at meals is sloppy, the soup is always cold, the niggers are surly. You’ve got to do something about it.” I said I would speak to the Chief Steward about the problem and turned to go below. “Speak! You silly bastard. That isn’t the way to handle niggers. You take the fuckers back on the fantail and knock their heads together, blast the shit out of them and make them know who’s boss. I’ve a lot more experience dealing with these black fuckers than you have had, and I’m telling you, you better crack the whip around here or you will be in trouble.” Having been on the first watch, I inevitably had the forenoon watch from 0800 to 1200. After that came the first opportunity to call the Chief Steward to my room. He was, by the way, a university graduate and had been a high school teacher before he was drafted in the Navy. Two of his men had some university education as well. I recounted to him the full conversation the night before in the wardroom. The Chief Steward asked me why I bothered to speak to him; what was he expected to do? I told him he should get his men together and discuss what could be done to improve the standards of performance – it being agreed that the present standard was unacceptable. “What’s in it for them?” “Well, there is no pleasant way for any of us to get out of the Navy, and there is no chance to do anything about racial discrimination in the short term, and probably never in the Navy, where the problem is much worse than in the country at large; but if the men want to put out some extra effort and improve service, their lives aboard ship will at least be less troubled, and maybe some of the officers might even thank them.” “What if I can’t persuade the men to pull up their socks?” “In that case, I will resign as mess treasurer, even though that won’t solve the problem. But let someone else take the heat.” “But you can’t do that. No one ever resigns – it simply isn’t done.” I told him I knew that such a step would make me very unpopular, but I was not going to have any more rows like the one last night. The Chief Steward said he would let me know the decision later in the afternoon in CIC, where I would be working. In mid-afternoon there was a flurry of activity in wardroom country, with laundry removed, toilets cleaned, mops and brooms all over the place. Anyone having the 0800-1200 watch will have the second dog watch from 1800 to 2000 and, therefore, that evening I was on the bridge and not at dinner in the wardroom; but the duty steward kept a dessert for me. Later the Exec asked me: “What did you do to those sons of bitches? You must have put the fear of God into them.” I told him I had a talk with the Chief Steward and didn’t want to go into the matter any further. “For Crissake, you can tell me. Because I know how to handle niggers – have had a lot of experience.” “I am only prepared to discuss the results but not my methods. You apparently are pleased with the results – so there is nothing else to worry about.” “You are a sly one – you probably took the fucker on the fantail and beat some sense in him.” Nothing more was said, but the next morning I thanked the Chief Steward. For the rest of the time I was on the ship – until the final battle of Seattle – there was good service in the wardroom. For me, the service was very good. Sometimes the duty steward would send an extra dessert to me on midwatch. My soup was always hot, the coffee was always fresh – to the extent that is possible in the Navy – and the helpings were generous. IWO JIMA The Iwo Jima operation was about to begin, and the Izard was not to be involved. We were at Ulithi on February 17, 1945, when we received word in the afternoon to get underway immediately, together with another destroyer, to escort a battleship to Iwo Jima to replace another one that had lost a propeller. We arrived off Iwo Jima just as the initial attack was beginning. The battleship detached the two destroyers to the local command for further orders. Since we did not have a copy of the operation plan, nor did we know the radio frequencies in use by the fleet, the Communications Officer went aboard the command ship to get these things and other necessary information. The Izard was immediately attached to a shore bombardment group. Initially this group bombarded the island during the day only – hitting selected targets with five-inch guns, as requested by radio from the marines on shore. At night the bombardment groups formed part of the escort to take the supply ships and troop transports away from the island on a retirement course. It was important that these ships were always protected and constantly moving under escort when not disembarking men and supplies. Later as the invasion advanced and the beach head was secure, the destroyers performed bombardment duty around the clock. Typically, a destroyer would maintain a bombardment station all night and be relieved in the morning by another ship, while being replenished by an ammunition ship. One morning after having been at action stations all night, we were anxious to be relieved. Our replacement came within sight, and as soon as it accepted responsibility, the Izard moved quickly away. About twenty minutes later we heard on the bombardment frequency that the replacement ship had taken an eight-inch shell through one of the engine rooms. This eight-inch gun position had been one of our targets all night – it had been taking careful aim on us. The shell was meant for the Izard. We returned to help as needed. On the way from Ulithi to Iwo Jima, we had listened to one of the broadcasts by Tokyo Rose giving a report of the earlier action which took place just before arriving at Ulithi. Tokyo Rose announced that the Izard (DD589) had been sunk, and this was greeted with great hilarity. We don’t believe the Navy believed Tokyo rose, but it is true that we did not get any personal or official mail until April. We were not even on the list for the Navy codes, which were changed each month. We were not on the list for supplies – we had to beg for groceries. While at Iwo Jima the local commander was happy to provide fuel and ammunition, but little else. Apparently when the Izard was mobilized on an emergency basis to accompany the battleship, someone lost track of her. In late March when the Army replaced the Marines on the island, we were detached with three other destroyers to escort the hospital and troop ships back to Pearl. The fleet at Iwo Jima gave very few supplies to someone headed for the supermarket. We were down to two kinds of meat – frozen liver and canned spam. This, plus dehydrated carrots, potatoes and milk with bread and chocolate pudding was the entire menu. We arrived at the entrance to Pearl Harbor and were puzzled to see flags at half mast until we received a signal that President Roosevelt had died. In the destroyer anchorage was a large barge loaded with three month’s mail, including many Christmas packages. FIRST BATTLE OF SEATTLE On the way to Pearl we were informed that the Izard would proceed to Seattle for refitting. That apparently had been our destination before being high-jacked at Ulithi. A complete list of repairs required was prepared, and the Assistant Engineering officer flew from pearl to Seattle to give the Navy yard advance notice of our requirements. It was a long list, including one automatic toaster for the wardroom pantry – but more about that later. After almost 24 months at sea, the Izard returned stateside. Most of the crew had worn out their clothes and had not had an opportunity to buy new things, especially shoes. On arrival, the Captain decided that three-quarters of ship’s company would have liberty. I was one of the unlucky ones and had the watch at the quarter deck in the evening. We were docked in Seattle rather than Bremerton, which made liberty far more interesting – the men were off by 1700. within two or three hours the marine Shore Patrol began to truck our men back because they were out of uniform. As each load arrived, a Marine sergeant delivered to me a list of the offenders, with the request I take proper disciplinary action. As soon as he was out of sight, I told all the men to resume liberty if they wanted to do so. Destroyermen were famous for being clannish – they disliked submariners and flight personnel because they received extra pay for hazardous duty – above all they disliked the parade ground policemen. The Marines also were called sea going bell hops, because large ships always included them in the crew, to be servants for senior and flag officers. No doubt there were many brawls that night. The refit lasted several weeks. Many of the crew were sent on leave, a few were transferred away and new people came on board. An important change was the commanding officer. Our Captain Dayton was promoted to be a four striper and was to take command of a new destroyer squadron. During part of the refit, the crew lived in nearby barracks. The Izard was a cold ship, but not decommissioned – there was always an officer and some crew on board, and the log was kept. My wife, who worked at the Naval Supply Depot in Oakland, took some vacation and stayed in Seattle for a while. During one week toward the end of the refit, I was sent to Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay for a Loran (long range navigation) course, very convenient to our tiny apartment in Berkeley. Finally the ship was put back together and was almost ready for sea. Number three five-inch gun was replaced, as well as the air search radar antenna (the bedspring at the top of the mast), one set of torpedo tubes had been removed and replaced by two quad 40 millimeter guns with separate fire control radar systems to increase anti-aircraft fire power. In the after deck house between three and four gun positions, new radar jamming and counter jamming equipment was installed. In short, we were equipped for radar picket duty, which was much in the news at the time in Okinawa – several destroyers had been sunk and many heavily damaged performing this function. Until we arrived at Seattle, the radar equipment was maintained by a single technician, who had owned a bicycle fix-it shop in peace time. At Seattle we acquired three more technicians – all bright young men with some university education and fresh out of Navy service schools. The former fix-it shop technician was still the expert, as we shall see. One fine day a truck came out on the dock with equipment in a large packing case measuring about 4x5x7 feet, and it was marked for delivery to the Izard. Before checking the requisition a crane was called, the case delivered on deck. This was our automatic toaster! This monster was designed for a cafeteria where continuous production of 40 slices of toast was needed. We survived without a toaster for the wardroom. BACK TO THE FORWARD AREA After speed trials in Puget Sound, and some magnificent photographs of the new Izard dead in the water, we were ready to go. With all the new radar equipment on board, the ship now rated five emergency repair kits – we had only one. These kits contained essential tools and frequently needed spare parts and were to be placed in five separate places on the ship – one on the bridge, in CIC, at the two new fire control radars mid ships, and one at the radar jamming station aft. When we were ready to leave, we were told that Seattle had no more of these kits, but we could pick them up in San Francisco where we were heading. San Francisco said – fresh out of kits – why don’t you try Pearl? After this, on June 29, 1945, we went to San Pedro for degaussing and then we were on our way west. When we reached the destroyer basin in Pearl, we were pleased to see Captain Dayton, our former commanding officer, now a four striper and a squadron Commodore, in a spanking new Sumner class just pulling out. A great cheer went up from the Izard, which was acknowledged by the “old man.” Captain Dayton was around fifty and had finally made Captain. It was said that he had been passed over twice for promotion when he was an Ensign. He must have loved the Navy! He was an outstanding seaman, but was not considered to be very bright on new technology. At Pearl we tried to pick up the emergency repair kits – “Sorry, just out of stock – a squadron of new Sumners came in and cleaned us out.” It so happened that we were moored along-side one of these new Sumner class ships (six five-inch guns). The day before we were to get underway, I visited the new ship to see what new equipment and gadgets they had in CIC and in the radar department in general. A proud officer showed me around, and I spotted six emergency repair kits distributed around the ship. That night at about 0300, two men and I paid a repeat visit and requisitioned three kits – now we had four. By 0600 we were underway. We had been told that our destination was Alaska, but we did not know that our first stop was San Francisco. We had spent about two weeks at Pearl going out every day for all sorts of training: anti-aircraft firing practice, as well as practice firing at towed surface targets. Many times we fired torpedoes at other ships in the exercise, and then the roles would be reversed; we would be targets for other destroyers’ torpedoes. There were a lot of shore bombardment exercises, which imposed heavy work on CIC to position the ship from radar bearings every minute. This was the only time the Izard was ever hit by anything. The torpedoes used in practice firing, of course, had dummy heads, and the idea was to adjust the depth setting so the torpedo would pass well under the target destroyer. After the torpedo exhausted its fuel, it would float until someone came around to pick it up. One fine day a torpedo aimed at the Izard had not been adjusted to pass under the ship – it struck the hull in one of the engine rooms and left a noticeable dent. Shortly before arriving at Pearl, the new Captain, who had joined the ship in Seattle, conducted a thorough Captain’s inspection not only of personnel, but an inspection of almost every space in the ship. Naval ships were famous for having innumerable coffee makers made from shell casings. There were also many other things like ash trays, book cases, cigarette lighters made in the machinists’ workshop. The Captain had the great pleasure of finding 19 illegal, homemade coffee makers and having them thrown over the side. But he did not find the sandwich toaster and grill located in a special drawer under the surface radar scope in CIC. Needless to say, the coffee makers were completely replaced in about two weeks. ALASKA Back in San Francisco where we departed August 3 escorting, with two other destroyers, a brand new heavy cruiser to Adak, where we arrived on August 9. A large operation was planned to set up a task force in Alaskan waters to strike west to Tsugaru strait between the main Japanese island of Honshu and Hokaido and establish contact with the Russians at Vladivostok. This unit of four ships was the nucleus of this new task force. The new cruiser carried a division commander (ComCruDiv) and was to have an important part in the new operation. But it so happened the new division commander, Rear Admiral Denbrink, had spent the war in charge of an LMD (large mahogany desk) in Washington, and this was his first sea duty in a long time. He was determined to get himself ready for the upcoming action. On the first morning out of San Francisco, he called his entire fleet to general quarter and kept them there all day. On the second day, the ships went to general quarters at dawn, which was customary, but the Admiral kept them there all day again. Our Captain had exercised the crew thoroughly at Pearl and judged they knew enough about their jobs. He ordered that GQ conditions would be maintained at all topside locations visible from the flagship; all others were to rest or return to normal duty. Jaegle would have been proud of him! After we arrived at Adak, we found ourselves moored alongside Admiral Denebrink’s new cruiser. Somehow I had learned that one of the cruiser’s CIC officers was a classmate from Hollywood Beach in Florida. One evening I decided to pay him a visit. Even though we were close to the top of the summer and the nights were short, it became quite cool in the evening, so I wore warm bedroom slippers and a fur-lined artic jacket. I climbed the ladder up to the cruiser’s main deck on the outboard side. There I saw to my amazement an Ensign in dress blue uniform, with white muffler and bridge coat, standing at attention beside the gangway, with a single long glass held smartly under his arm. I had never seen anything like this. I approached him and said, “Excuse me, Sir, I am from the ‘can’ alongside. I would like to see Lieutenant Schultz from your CIC.” “I don’t know who you are, or what you are, but you better go below and get in the uniform of the day before I put you on report.” “Relax,” I said, “I’m Lieutenant Steele from the ‘can’ alongside, and I am in the uniform of the day. We don’t use insignia of rank on the Izard.” “Sorry, Sir. Please stand aside in the shadow of the smokestack so the enlisted men don’t see you. I’ll send for Schultz.” Shortly he arrived, also in dress blues and bridge coat. He said, “For God’s sake, let’s go over to your ship where we can talk. It’s too stuffy here.” While we had been steaming to Adak from San Francisco, there were momentous events in the Pacific war. On August 6, the first atom bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. On the 8th, the Russians bravely entered the war against Japan, and on the 9th, the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. A few days later the Japanese surrender was broadcast on the 14th. There was much speculation – we did not know if the task force, which was already increasing in size, would go ahead with its mission. You may be sure the productivity of the ship’s company suffered a severe decline and was practically non-existent, except for safety considerations, after the surrender was signed on the USS Missouri on September 2. On the 19th we went on to Attu and found what was left of the 9th fleet. All the naval fleets in the Pacific had - and probably still have - odd numbers. The First fleet was something largely imaginary based in San Francisco. The Third and the Fifth, as already discussed, were interchangeable numbers for the same fleet that did most of the work during the war. The Seventh fleet was General MacArthur’s Navy in the Southwest Pacific, and very little was left of it since the end of the Phillippines operation. Similarly, all the fleets in the Atlantic had even number designations – there is still a Sixth fleet in the Mediterranean. And the Ninth fleet was based in Alaska. In l942, coinciding with the battle of Midway, the Japanese had sent a force to occupy Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian Islands. But after their defeat at Midway with the loss of the aircraft carriers, the occupying forces quietly disappeared in the fog and returned to Japan. At that time, the Ninth fleet must have been a respectable force, but by 1945, it had been reduced to three old cruisers and some tired destroyers. Their crews had had nothing to do for a long time. The cruisers were, of course, named after cities and all had names beginning with the letter H as in Hartford. But locally they were called the Hopeless, Helpless and Hapless – they were of about 1900 vintage, and one had casemate guns. The officers of the Ninth fleet had a delightfully snug officers’ club at Attu, designed to suit the limited membership. The officers of the Izard urgently needed to celebrate the surrender of Japan, but found that visitors at the club were not welcome. The Izard was anchored about a mile down the coast from the club landing, and we could see no nautical reason for not having an anchorage much closer. We found a landing craft to take us in and took over the club, making ourselves honorary temporary members. We drank a lot of booze and listened to the record player and tried to get involved with two Navy nurses, who we found were strictly off limits to the visitors. Around 2330 we began to enquire about transportation to our ship’s location and were told there was none. We found two jeeps parked outside the club. There were keys in the jeeps since everyone knew each other in this tight little society. So we requisitioned them and managed to fit in 14 officers who were feeling no pain and drove to a point on the shore near the ship. We signaled for a boat and returned to the ship without difficulty. The next day was August 31, and as we got underway, the Captain received a message from the Attu commander accusing some of our people of having stolen two jeeps, which had been left abandoned on the beach near the Izard. The Captain replied that he had no knowledge of a theft, but would investigate. JAPAN The task force which was forming in Alaskan waters was by no means complete. There were in place four light carriers, five cruisers and about 20 destroyers, plus a few supply ships. The troop ships had failed to show up – possibly they had been stopped. The operation plan was to be disregarded, but the ships were to move into the strait with whatever force present. On the 31st by voice radio, the new formation was communicated to the ships, and the force was to move west at 1200. The Izard went to action stations – weather conditions were atrocious; a dripping dense fog. Just as this task force of more than 30 ships was maneuvering into formation, the overhead squawk box in CIC began to make noises. The bridge told CIC that the repeat PPI (plan position indicator) on the bridge had stopped functioning, and the Captain could not see where he was. CIC was a space measuring about 10 by 12 feet located on the main deck, port side, just aft of the wardroom pantry. About one quarter of this space was occupied by the air and surface radar scopes with the two operators. The other three-quarters accommodated the air and surface plotting tables, and around the bulkheads and on the overhead were located the speakers, linked with about six radio frequencies and hand telephones, connecting CIC with all radar locations and every other department in the ship. In this concentration of information, CIC was the general quarters station for ten people, including the Executive Officer and the CIC Officer. When the squawk box from the bridge burst into action, I immediately ordered the radar technician stationed in the transmitter room – just aft of CIC to get up to the bridge to repair the PPI. Now that we had three high technology experts, plus one old Mr. Fixit, I had decided that the smartest would be in the transmitter room at general quarters, the other two young experts were placed in the two new fire control radar locations mid ships, and our Mr. Fixit located in the least sensitive location; radar jamming station aft. After three minutes – more than enough time for someone to get to the bridge – the squawk box reached a new record of decibels and profanity as we heard the Captain’s own voice demand something be done. Although in CIC we could see the ship was in no danger and informed the bridge continuously, the Captain was blind and not happy. I went personally to the transmitter room to see what had happened. There I found the technician sitting quietly at a small table studying an equipment manual. In response to the blast which he received from me, he explained, quite logically, that he was studying the circuit diagram of the PPI on the bridge, so he would be prepared to examine it. I told him to continue his studies and telephoned Mr. Fixit, who was sensitive at once to the dimensions of the Captain’s crisis, and literally ran with three or four tools to the bridge – he forgot that we now had an emergency kit there. Within a couple of minutes the PPI was working again – he knew where to kick it. He remained there until we secured from general quarters. This small task force was preceded by minesweepers, and after reaching Tsugaru strait was to split – one group turning south to Aomori and the other north to Hakodate. The Izard was in the Hakodate group and was one of the first U.S. ships to dock there. The total absence of resistance, or even reaction from the local population, was quite incredible. Hakodate was then a city of about 200,000. It had not been bombed, though all of the railway ferries connecting it with Aomori had been sunk. There we realized vividly the total mobilization of people and resources for the war effort. We could find only two motor vehicles in the city – the car used by the police chief and one fire-fighting vehicle. All women were dressed alike, in sort of a warm-up suit made of cheap cotton. The men were above 60 or young boys, all stores were bare of most merchandise – perhaps valuable things had been hidden. There were no souvenirs to buy – best bet was the post office, where stamps were available. Somehow, life continued normally. We found what must have been a high school in the form of a quadrangle. In the interior of the quadrangle, a baseball game was in progress, and the players took no notice of the US sailors who came in to watch the game. When on considers the total collapse of resistance, and the extent to which the Japanese economy was completely wrung out, the size of the forces closing in on them, in retrospect, seem like swatting flies with a sledge hammer. Yet the heavy cruiser Indianapolis had not long ago been sunk by a submarine torpedo on July 30 in the Philippines, and the heavy losses at Okinawa, both on land and at sea, were uppermost in our minds – after all, the Izard had been designed to be a radar picket ship, which was a favorite target at Okinawa. Apart from the forces of the intrepid Russians entering Manchuria, and the Chinese at war with themselves, the Allies possessed overwhelming power. Here is the composition of the US Third Fleet (Admiral Halsey) and the British Pacific Fleet at the end of hostilities. This list does not include escort carriers, destroyer escorts, submarines, minesweepers and service ships such as tankers, ammunition ships, tenders, etc. U.S. Third British Total Fleet Pacific Fleet Battleships 8 1 9 Aircraft Carriers 10 4 14 Light Carriers 6 - 6 Heavy Cruisers 4 - 4 Light Cruisers 15 6 21 Destroyers 62 17 79 Total 105 28 133 Source: The O.N.I. Weekly, August 22, 1945, Vo. IV. 34. Published by the Office of Naval Intelligence. To get a better picture of the total naval forces available, in addition to this massive striking force, one must add our small task force, the remaining ships in the Philippines and Okinawa, and many others strung out across the Pacific from San Francisco, as well as Lord Mountbatten’s Navy in the Indian Ocean. After our arrival in Hakodate on September 10, a group of officers of the occupation Army arrived to take over civil affairs, and our group rejoined the other units in Mutsu Bay. This bay was very large and provided a protected anchorage for the task force, which had the responsibility of patrolling Tsugaru Strait and intercepting any traffic through it. Our anchorage was close to a little town called Ominato on the east side of the bay. Ominato had been a training center for miniature submarines. We took over a small, abandoned officers club, but did not make much use of it- the tables were about 15 inches high, and there were no chairs – our first experience with Japanese dining postures. For the first two weeks or so, until it was certain no hostile action was going to be taken by the Japanese, small patrol boats cruised every night among the anchored ships to be on the alert for enemy action. A special radio frequency linked the patrol boats and all ships, and there was constant conversation as the boats reported their positions every few minutes. Each ship mounted an armed guard. On a destroyer there was a man on the bow, one aft and one on each side midship. One quiet night when I had the watch, and while I was in the radio room listening t the chatter on the radio, one of the patrol boats reported there had been a rifle shot, and asked everyone to report who else had heard it, and an estimate of its probable location. I immediately went on deck to ask our guards if they had heard a shot, and three of the four said they had heard it and thought it was nearby. Then the harbor defense command announced the shot apparently had come from the Izard’s sector and demanded an answer. The guard who said he had not heard the shot was posted on the bow. I smelled his rifle, and there was no doubt that it had been fired! When asked about it, he said: “For Chrissake Sir, I’ve been in the Navy for three years and never got to fire nothing, so I decided to have a shot before it was too late.” During hostilities, parts of Tsugaru Strait had been heavily mined. In addition to intercepting traffic, it was our responsibility to give approaching friendly ships a copy of the mine charts. One morning during very rough weather at the eastern end of the strait, we spotted a small blip on the surface radar scope at about 12 miles. As it approached the Izard we asked for identification on voice radio, and it turned out to be a British destroyer coming north from Tokyo. After three attempts to pass a line in order to deliver the mine chart, our Captain asked the other destroyer to lay off for a few hours, hoping for an improvement in the weather. The British DD did not accept the suggestion, and with a cordial “Cheerio”, said they would see us at the anchorage. She got in without difficulty. We found the British destroyer anchored near our usual place the next morning. It was not often that we had the opportunity to compare notes with foreign ships, so I was one of about six officers in the ship’s boat going over to pay a visit – to check communications information, to deliver the mine charts, compare radar equipment, etc. Of course the real reason, was to have a couple of gin tonics in their wardroom and bring some back to the Izard. It was then that a beautiful new cruiser arrived in the bay, just out from the States. Again a delegation went over to pay a visit and came back with several bottles of something claimed to be bourbon whiskey called Southern Comfort. The following day all but three officers went to the Ominato club for a drinking party – I was one of the lucky ones who stayed on board. They all became quite ill and stayed in the sack for a couple of days. THE COMMODORE Back in 1943 when the Izard was commissioned, it had been a designated the flag ship of a division commander. When working together destroyers were organized in squadrons of 8, 10 or 12 ships comprising two divisions. The Izard was originally in squadron 56, which was divided into divisions 111 and 112 – we were the flagship of division 112, and therefore carried a Commodore (actually a four striper) as ComDesDiv (Commander Destroyer Division). Just across the passageway from CIC was located a handsome stateroom for the Commodore. Our own Captain normally used the sea cabin behind the bridge, but when we had no Commodore, he used the stateroom. After our refit, we had no Commodore, but it probably was at Pearl a new one came on board, even though we were not going to operate with an organized division. His arrival was surrounded in mystery – scuttlebutt had it that the new Commodore had been a destroyer captain and had lost his ship in the battle of the Philippine Sea, when he was injured. He was supposed to have spent several weeks in a naval hospital and was still convalescing. A barge came alongside with his considerable luggage, including four cases of bourbon whiskey. As might be imagined, we did not see much of our Commodore – he took his meals alone in his room and only occasionally would appear on the bridge for a few minutes in the mornings. Once in a while he seemed to have a conference with the Captain, but never interfered with him in the operation of the ship. One afternoon around 1530, I was called to the telephone. It was the Commodore. “My intelligence sources tell me you play chess, and I want you in my room at 1600 for a game.” I was obliged to tell him that I had the first dog watch (1600-1800) and couldn’t satisfy his request. The next day just as I was about to be relieved on the bridge at the end of the afternoon watch (1200-1600), the Commodore phoned: “You are just finishing the afternoon watch, and you are to be in my room immediately thereafter for a chess match.” This time I had to comply. We played three games, and in the last game I managed to take his queen. He insisted on a replay to figure out what happened. He offered me a couple of whiskies and was quite friendly. He had a lot of books, but there was nothing in his room to suggest any work, except a navigation chart on one of his tables. He was charting the ship’s course – one of the quartermasters came down to update his chart several times a day. I was with the Commodore about two hours and then went directly into the wardroom for dinner – the smell of whiskey on my breath caused much comment. I suggested everyone take a crash course in chess – there was only one other officer at the time who played. After this experience, the Commodore watched my schedule carefully and ordered return matches every two or three days – and more whiskey. After just over two months in the Tsugaru strait area, we received orders to return stateside to Seattle via Pearl. The considerable fleet which had arrived in Mutsu Bay in mid and late September had dwindled steadily as ships departed for home every day, and all of them were loaded with service men to be demobilized. Now it was our turn. The only time any of us was aware that the Commodore did any official business was the occasion of our departure. He sent this message to Commander Task Group 56.2 14 NOV 1945 -A- DIV D112 1323350 OK62 GR 58 BT IN ORDER COMPLY WITH SPIRIT AND DESIRES OF THE CONGRESS X THE PRESIDENT X MACARTHUR X CINCPAC (Commander in Chief Pacific) X ME X THE UNITED NATIONS X ALL GOOD DEMOCRATS X COLON AM ARRANGING EMERGENCY PROVISIONING WITHIN MY SHIPS AND WILL BE RFS (ready for sea) BY SIXTEEN HUNDRED TODAY X REQUEST YOU MAKE US AVAILABLE AT THAT ITME AND SO REPORT TO CTF (Commander task force) 56 BT TOD: OK 62/0003/FL – WOG/WU-VK/0016 From: CDD 112 Action to: CTG 56.2 It was so ordered, but before getting under way a barge load of 70 passengers came alongside. The Izard had a full complement of about 320 and was crowded in the best of circumstances – now we had 70 passengers – all naval air personnel, few of whom had ever been on a ship before. There were about 15 pilot officers, plus aviation radarmen, aviation mechanics, navigators, aerologists, etc. To accommodate this large group, we had them sleeping in gun mounts. No matter, the guns would not be used in any case. Wardroom country was a mess as we tried to find extra places – some slept on the deck. At 0600 the next morning came the familiar order, NOW HEAR THIS – “set special sea detail.” The anchor was pulled up, and we gradually moved west and north to exit Mutsu Bay into the strait. The bay was as calm as a mill pond. Some of the passenger officers came up to the bridge before breakfast. They were happy to be going home, but especially pleased to be returning by ship. “Been in the Navy three years and the first time on a ship.” “And what beautiful weather. Is it always like this?” “I thought destroyers were rough riders. This thing is steadier than a ferry boat.” “Now I can tell the kids I was finally in a ship. Didn’t realize what I’d missed.” Aviation personnel – the fly fly boys – never won popularity contests with destroyer men. We did not wish them bad luck, but we were sure there would be some rough riding, though we had no idea what was in store for us. We were going to reach Seattle in December – everyone home by Christmas – and there was no hurry. In order to save fuel, we were to maintain standard speed – 15 knots – all the way. We were in company with two other destroyers similarly loaded with passengers. The third day out from Tsugaru we received weather reports that a typhoon was moving slowly up from the south. We plotted the thing for a day and a half, and the Captains of the ships decided to change course to the south to allow the nuisance to move north ahead of us. But the typhoon changed course and speed as well, and soon we were on a collison course with it. We entered the typhoon’s weather early one morning, but still hoped we would stay on the fringe. At breakfast time we had normal rough seas, but as the day progressed the sea became increasingly rough. By evening we must have been rolling 30-35 degrees and pitching up to 10 degrees. Since the end of hostilities we had been able to keep all hatches and port holes open for fresh air. But with this weather, everything was closed and battened down. That evening the ship’s cooks, out of total inspiration, prepared boiled mutton, dehydrated carrots and potatoes with chocolate pudding for dessert. In the wardroom we had to put up rough weather stanchions, thus reducing the size of the table. Also, a trellis-like rigging was put on the table to keep things from being swept off to the deck. Ship’s company officers ate first, of course. Despite the lousy meal and foul air, someone opened a box of black Cuban cigars, and most of us puffed vigorously until the room was completely filled with smoke. Then we told the Chief Steward, “Call the passenger officers.” Of the total group of 15, perhaps 5 were still active and came bounding up the ladder and burst into the wardroom to show they were good seamen. After a few minutes of choking gasps, they left to go below. Since they could not risk going out on deck, they made they made their mess in wardroom country. We didn’t see our passengers topside for another two days. We passed the eye of the typhoon that night at about 0200. Just before entering the eye, the weather was the worst. Those who had to be on duty could barely hang on – we could not see the other ships, and the radars were useless. Suddenly we entered a totally calm sea. It was completely overcast, but there was reasonable visibility at water level, and we saw our two friends more or less in position. This calm lasted for about thirty minutes – then we went back into the typhoon weather; there was no other way out. It took about 18 hours to get out, as we tried to move south, while the typhoon was slowly moving north. This was the worst storm most of us had ever seen. There was a lot of topside damage, and not a dry space in the ship. We lost one motor boat – simply ripped away from twisted davits. The ashcan launching equipment on the fantail was a shambles and all 20 mm gun mounts were unworkable But it was fun to give the passengers a taste of the seagoing Navy – we told them this was normal. Since our days in Mutsu Bay, everyone speculated on how quickly he could get out of the Navy. There was a point system composed of several factors such as age, length of service, family situation, etc. About a third of the crew were eligible for discharge immediately after reaching Seattle. For weeks we had received all sorts of instructions to provide assistance to those returning to civilian life. A number of messages were addressed to reserve officers asking them to consider the career opportunities in the regular Navy. With the massive demobilization in prospect, apparently the Navy thought there was a danger of not having sufficient officers, even for the reduced fleet. This was a real possibility if the Izard was representative of the total. We had 21 officers of whom only two were regular Navy – Annapolis graduates – and they were the Captain and the junior Ensign. The messages established a procedure for reserve officers to make application for transfer to the regular Navy, with the Captain’s endorsement. They were assured that advanced training would be provided to make them fully competitive with the professionals, and there would be no discrimination against them for future promotion and assignments. The reserve officers had a right to be skeptical – from the Izard there were no applicants. As we steamed eastward across the Pacific, the messages continued to arrive. The Engineering Officer and I decided that it was time for regular Navy officers to be invited to become civilians. We prepared a message following the format used in all others from Washington addressed to All Regular Navy Officers, and the subject was “The U.S. Naval Reserve, Transfer to, Application for.” The one page message advised all regular Navy officers that it is not too early for them to consider seriously their possibly precarious position, as contrasted with the offerings of civilian life, such as a) The satisfaction derived from following an interesting and useful profession. b) The pride achieved from being independent. c) The opportunity to raise a family that the father can recognize without hesitation. d) The chance to kick the ass you now have to kiss. Officer applicants were assured that special training courses would be provided to place them on a par with ordinary high school and college graduates. They were warned that rank, date of rank, signal numbers, class standing and Annapolis class rings would have no importance in the great world outside. A special form NAVEXOS – 187987 (Q) of 3-9-45 was to be used to make application via the SROP (Senior reserve officer present) no later than December 31, 1945. We persuaded the radiomen to type up this information in the form it would have if it had been received during the night in the usual skeds from Washington, and then clip it to the morning message board. The Captain received the message board at breakfast, and soon we heard, “What the God damned hell has gone wrong with those fools in Washington?” He passed the board around, and two of us congratulated him on the opportunity to get out. Shortly after we saw him and regular Navy Ensign in a huddle. The hoax was soon revealed by one of the radiomen – it was too good to keep quiet about. The phony message about regular Navy officers had touched a tender nerve. The reserve officers for the most part were eager to get back to civilian life and resume work or study careers, and certainly not interested in remaining in the navy. But the Captain, who was a senior Lieutenant Commander at the age of about 28, awaiting the next Alnav to make Commander, did have concern about the future. All officers in the Navy during the war had been promoted to new temporary ranks based simply on the passage of time. These promotions were announced in Alnavs (All Navy addressees). All officers on the ship held temporary ranks for this reason. The Executive Officer (reserve) became a Lieutenant Commander pursuant to an Alnav in late 1945. The reserve officers were not concerned about permanent lower ranks, but the Captain certainly was. Probably at age 28 his permanent rank would have been Lieutenant (j.g.), and he might be demoted to that rank. Of course, the regular Navy junior officer, an Ensign, was not affected. His temporary rank was his permanent rank; he could not be knocked back, although the opportunity for future promotion might be reduced. THE FINAL BATTLE OF SEATTLE As we steamed eastwards to Seattle in late November, we received a message telling us that the Izard was to be decommissioned and join the mothballed fleet in Bremerton. This message was received with hilarity, because nobody much cared what the Navy would do with the ship after we left it, but we were to find out there was much still to be done. We arrived in Seattle on December 3, and as we approached the dock, we could see two women; my wife and the Captain’s wife. Of course no one was supposed to know about the movements of ships, so how did they know? My wife had been working at the Naval Supply Depot in Oakland and could easily have found out where the Izard was scheduled to arrive. The Captain’s wife was the daughter of an Admiral and had her own source of information. My wife had quit her job and had come to Seattle to join me. We didn’t spend much time in Seattle, moving across to Bremerton within two days. Near there, at a place called Port Orchard, the Navy had furnished, spartan apartments in a housing development – that is where we spent most of the next two months. After arrival stateside, about a third of the crew were discharged and most of the rest were given leave for Christmas, but had to return to the ship in January to wait until they had accumulated enough points to get out. To prepare the ship for the mothball fleet, each department had to clean and repair each piece of equipment and put it in first class condition, take a complete inventory of all supplies and spare parts and requisition what was necessary to bring these to rated levels and prepare a list of all spares in three copies, showing the exact location on the ship of each spare; one copy was to be filed in the ship’s office, a second copy to the Bremerton Naval Base, and the last copy to Washington. Perhaps it is still there. It can easily be imagined the difficulty in getting a totally demotivated crew to work on these tedious duties in January. The Radar department had literally thousands of spare parts; small condensers, capacitators and such like. I prepared a work program designed to accomplish the task within ten to twelve days, but I knew that if I issued this as an order, there would be nothing but resistance. So I called the entire group together in CIC – by then the group had been reduced to about ten, including both technicians and radar operators. I outlined the job to be done and asked for suggestions. After getting through the rude remarks about “Fuck the Navy”, and “Let’s all go home”, we got down to business. If someone had a suggestion about an item in my program, I developed it and sought the endorsement of others. When someone had a really stupid idea, I said nothing and let others shoot it down. In about an hour’s time, the work program had been improved on in some respects, and represented a consensus of the crew. This was the program posted on the bulletin board; it was not an order, but an agreed plan. They finished the work in just over a week! The last event in the Battle of Seattle occurred on February 3, 1946, when I was ordered to report to the Commanding Officer, Naval Personnel Separation Center (Officers) in Seattle for temporary duty for release to inactive duty. The procedure was efficient. They prepared a record of my naval service and paid my transportation back to Newark where it all started, paid my salary, plus allowances through February 27, which included the number of days leave due me. As might be imagined, the interesting part was provided by the medical officers. There was a perfunctory physical examination – probably the medical officers were just as anxious to leave as I was. I was asked if I suffered from any ailment that I considered to be service related. I said I had developed a low back pain, which seemed to develop as the barometer went down, and actually caused difficulty in walking when severe. The Navy doctor reached for a waiver form, as he told me he would send me to the Bremerton Naval Hospital for two week’s observation. I told him I would rather sign. He said, “I thought you might.” As I was getting my papers together, preparing to leave, someone from medical said: “Lieutenant Steele, just one more thing – “You will have to leave a specimen of urine.” 1 Hogben (1895-1975) was born and educated in England. He held several academic appointments, including professorships in zoology and medical statistics. He was the author of at least seven books, the best known and most popular, apart from Mathematics for the Million, being Science for the Citizen. Another book with which his name is now always associated was Frederick Bodmer's The Loom of Language, which Hogben edited. Though trained as a scientist, Hogben was passionately interested in matters linguistic, and was one of those language addicts who proposed his own international language. In Hogben's case it was "Interglossa", an artificial concoction which he based on Greek and Latin roots together with a syntax resembling that of Chinese, and the principles of which he set out in The Loom of Language. [book description by Tony Rodgers (Amazon.com)] 2 The Izard was a Fletcher class destroyer. This class was so named after the first ship of this design, the USS Fletcher commissioned in June 1942. The Fletcher class ship displaced 2050 tons, was 376 feet long and about 35 feet beam, had a speed of 35 knots. The Fletcher class carried five 5-inch guns, ten 40mm and ten 21-inch torpedoes. Complement of 320. The successor to the Fletcher was the Sumner class named for the USS Allen M. Sumner commissioned in June 1944. This class had six 5-inch guns and twelve 40mm and ten 21-inch torpedoes. It displaced 2200 tons with a complement of about 345, speed 34 knots. On December 7, 1941, there were 141 destroyers in service. During the war about 350 were built of which about 230 were Fletchers, the workhorse of WWII. During the war 71 destroyers were lost – 62 as the result of enemy action, 4 sunk in typhoons and 5 the result of other causes – 141+350 = 491/71 = 14%.
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