FROM PEARL HARBOR TO THE PHILIPPINES
During the early part of September we made a few more liberties in Honolulu. All hands will without a doubt remember the DESPAC beer garden as a refuge and a quick last minute brew before returning to the ship. It was always a poor excuse that most men had to frequent the habitat around the hours of 1600 to 1800.
While returning from liberty on the afternoon of September 13, “Dinty” Moore, Cox., was confronted with a serious decision. He was offered a small dog that would have to be killed if he could not furnish a home for her. He was also aware that the Exec disapproved of pets and mascots and had voiced numerous warnings against having them aboard. Nevertheless, “Dinty,” with the aid of “Gus” Gastineau, QM2c, managed to conceal her in the latter’s pocket and brought her aboard. It was a week before the Exec became aware that she was aboard and then he didn’t have the inhumaneness to throw her overboard. She was christened with the waters of the South Pacific and given the name of “Abigail.” The deck force, however, in order to create a name symbolic with their work nicknamed her “Rusty,” She became a good sailor and has the honor to be one of very few females aboard fighting ships. “Abbie” belongs to all of us and definitely is acquainted with every crew member. She knows on the spur of the moment when there are strangers aboard and wastes no time in making them aware of it. She lived and ate with each and every one of us and when the going was rough she would be a little seasick too. “Abbie” will always rate a nick in the memory of every Abbot sailor.
On September 15 we were off to fight the war again, this time escorting a group of transports, cargo, and the various auxiliaries, comprising the Amphibious group. Rear Admiral R. L. Conolly, USN, in the Appalachian was our group commander. All ships of our squadron were present except the Bullard. Scuttlebutt had it that we were to make landings on the island of Yap in the Carolines. But we were veterans now and this would only mean another star on our Asiatic-Pacific ribbon, disregarding the more serious side. With a westward course we once again crossed the 180th meridian and gained a day in time — or lost it (Whichever you prefer.)
Our amphibious group was scheduled to enter Eniwetok in the Marshalls on 25 September but on the 24th the Abbot was designated as passenger ship to transport two officers to Kwajalein. After refueling there we proceeded to Eniwetok.
While en route an albatross alighted atop our radar antenna. The sea bird seemed to enjoy its rotating motion as one might enjoy the ride on a merry-go-round at Coney Island. There is an old tradition that no harm will befall the ship upon which an albatross alights. The Abbot bears out this tradition whether it be true or false.
We soon learned that the Yap operation had been cancelled and that Manus would be our next port. Since last crossing the equator we had received aboard a considerable number of pollywogs who were soon to experience a big “treat.” There were over 60 including six officers. By the time the ceremonies were to begin, all had been driven into a fearful frame of mind. Pictures taken during the crossing prove that they had reason to be frightened somewhat.
The following is part of the watch list and standing orders for all pollywog lookouts as printed in the Dabbler Press on 1 October 1944:
“All pollywogs designated below will stand watches as directed. The senior pollywog will inspect the watch immediately after pre-dawn alert to ascertain that all watchstanders are in the complete uniform as prescribed below. The watch will be posted immediately after the inspection and will remain on watch until the Royal Party comes aboard.
“Pollywog Ensign Stevenson will stand the Fog Lookout and will take station on the flying bridge. His uniform will be oilskin, sou’wester and binoculars. He will be guided by the following orders:
“When fog sets in you’ll sound your horn,
With a moan that’s most forlorn,
So sound it loud and frequently,
Or else the boom will fall on thee.
“Pollywog Foley, TM1c and his low scum brother Pollywog Miller, TM3c, will stand the messenger watch on either side of the bridge. The uniform will be dress blue jumper, neckerchief, flat hat, leggins and dress shoes. They will be guided by the following orders:
“You will search the seven seas,
For if you don’t with bended knees
Punishment will be inflicted.
For you’re sure to be indicted.
“Pollywog Ensign Ingalls will take station as the stratosphere fishing watch on the flying bridge. The uniform will be bathing trunks, sou’wester, and bow hook. He will be guided by the following orders:
“A fishing in the stratosphere,
With baited hook, you little dear,
With shellbacks don’t you get bold,
For if you do you’ll get told,
Catch 13 sea gulls, not one less,
For they’re the ones that make a mess.
“The port bow lookout station will be manned by pollywog Ensign Callaway and will take station in the eyes of the ship ably assisted by the starboard lookout. The uniform will be sweatshirt, bathing trunks and as much of the diving apparatus as his lowly brother pollywog manning the starboard bow lookout station cannot operate or carry by himself. You will be guided by the following orders:
“We know you think you’ve sailed a lot,
And you always thought you were kinda’ hot,
So how do you like your wrappings text,
Look sharply about for Neptunus Rex.
“Flash!! Word was just received that the senior pollywog will take over the deck as soon as the pre-dawn alert has secured and the aforesaid pollywog, Ensign Schmidt, has had time to don his proper uniform, namely, dress blues with gloves, sidearm, sheepskin coat and overshoes. He will be relieved of his duties immediately upon the arrival of the Royal Party.”
Excerpts from the Dabbler Press tell the story of how the slimy pollywogs became shellbacks on the fate-filled day.
(DP)—“His long white gown flowing in the morning winds and with his blushing wife by his side attired in a new chiffon evening gown, the Royal King Neptune and his party were greeted on board at approximately 0900 on October 1 by the Senior Shellback, Lieutenant Commander F. W. Ingling. The King lost no time in acclaiming his displeasure for the lowly pollywogs were disturbing his royal domain and announced that blood would be his atonement. Amid the salaams of pollywogs throughout the ship, the King and his party walked aft through the ranks of slimy pollywogs with the Royal Navigator, stopping occasionally to test the strength of a lowly pollywog. The Queen had brought for the occasion the beautiful heir to the throne, and he had at sometime between the royal domain and the Dabbler evidently found that he just “couldn’t wait.” The evidence was plainly clear to all and became much more so as time went by. Davy Jones, ever faithful to his Majesty, was on hand, as were high dignitaries of the King. Included were the Royal Chaplain, the Royal Barber, the Royal High Judge, the Royal Doctor and his Royal Assistant, the Royal Undertaker, and other high dignitaries of the King’s Court. The Royal Jester was on hand to attempt to set the innocent free while the Royal Prosecutor was there to see that justice was done. The fine holiday clothing worn by the Royal Party was definitely obtained before rationing was put into effect as they put to shame the much lauded costumes worn at the Mardi Gras and other spectacles.
“Court was opened and before the eyes of the miserable, shivering pollywogs was brought Ensign Stevenson, first pollywog on the Dabbler to be initiated. Upon seeing this culprit the King became excited and it was only by swift sure talking of this lowly pollywog, who explained to the King that he was not really bad at heart and was quite necessary to the war effort. Otherwise he would have been thrown over the side to the fishes and other denizens of the the deep that followed the Dabbler throughout the ceremony in the hope of having a special dinner of pollywogs. The Royal works was the verdict of the court after it had heard the charges against and the pleas of the lowly pollywog. The Royal Doctor checked the health of the lowly pollywog and administered the proper sedatives. The Royal High Barbers shorned him free of his land brought hair in order that he might have a fresh start and then he was given to the Royal Bears for thorough purging. It required dunkings to purge this pollywog of his ways of error but finally he was pronounced fit for the deep and delivered over the side of the tank a full-fledged shellback.
“Other offending officer pollywogs were brought forward rapidly, paying the proper respects to the Royal Party and courteously kissing the Royal Baby’s somewhat bespattered behind before going before the Royal Judge for trial. It was noted with curiosity that when the Royal Devil was at their side it was as though the pollywogs became full of the devil. Bewitched, they jumped and jerked and twisted and made the judge quite angry at times. Many were held in contempt of court because of their jerky motions. Pleas of “Guilty” brought swift, just retribution. Pleas of “Not Guilty” also brought retribution but not nearly so quickly nor mercifully. Pollywogs wondered why they had offended the King, on this their first passage, and the Court informed them that it was not their right to question the “why” and bade them to take them away to die.”
In a confused but normal manner the ceremony went on. “What is your charge?” “How do you plead?” “Take him away,” spoke the Royal Judge. “Open your mouth, say ah,” ordered the Royal Doctor. “How do you want it?” “Snip, snip,” and the Royal Barbers were done. “Pollywog or shellback.” asked the Royal Bears. And so it went.
The last phase of the initiation is one long to be remembered by shellback and pollywog alike. After being dunked in the tub the pollywogs were forced to crawl through a twenty-foot cylindrical canvas chute which had been partially filled with garbage. While they strived to get through, the shellbacks and newly initiated pollywogs beat their “rumps,” which necessarily had to appear as they crawled through, with watersoaked canvas shillalahs. From the humane angle it was almost a pathetic sight, for the uninitiated really took a beating.
We entered Seeadler Harbor, Manus, Admiralty Islands, on 2 October. We here were subjected to routine checkups and training exercises. Those who cared to indulge, and very few ever declined, were favored with a few brews on one of the desolate islands on the exterior of the anchorage. What griped the crew the most was the lack of “sugar reports.” A sailor can survive without wine and women the hard way, but a continued “no letter today” will test the morale of any mortal whether he be man or sailor.
But the war must go on! On the 14th we were again underway with the transport group, our destination, the Emperor’s impregnable Philippines. While underway between the 14th to the 20th, our time was occupied with with antiaircraft firing, delivering mail, refueling at sea and the always dreaded picket duty. Soon “Doug” would be able to say “People of the Philippines, I have returned.”