MY NAVY MEMORIES
Curt E. Presley
Curt is an Abbot plank owner and used the ship’s log to write much of this narrative.
Ralph Blair (left) and Curt Presley
July 30, 1942 the day I turned 17 and along with a friend went to the Navy Recruiting office in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, with the intention of enlisting. During the examination I heard the words “here’s a washout” and thought the worst. Fortunately it was merely a reference to a wax build-up in my friend’s ears. He was accepted and I was not. It seems I drank too much Pepsi, was told to lay off and come back in three or four weeks, which I did. This time I passed the physical and on August 24, 1942, I was sworn in, supposedly for four years in the regular navy but as it turned out they only wanted me for the duration. Sometime during the next three years plus I was placed in the reserves and when the conflict ended, so did my tour of duty in the Navy.
I was allowed a few days at home to get my affairs in order, and then it was time to head for the training station, Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Camp John Paul Jones, which was to be my home for the next 30 days. Barely enough time to get all the necessary shots and vaccinations much less any military type training but time was of the essence so basic training was just that. I remember the time the company was marched over to the swimming pool, swimmers lined up on one side, non-swimmers opposite. The swimmers were allowed in the pool, the others and I were sent back to the barracks. Never did get my foot wet except in the shower but as Charlie Angevine said, not even Johnny Weissmueller could swim across the ocean so why worry about not being able to swim?
There isn’t a lot to tell about boot camp except the time we all lined up for some of the many shots and the biggest guy in the company fainted before we even left the barracks. Also the time I looked out the window, we were all kept inside so as not to interfere with the motorcade, and there was President Roosevelt riding by. I didn’t get to speak with him, but here was the president on a good will tour, wishing us well. Then there was this guy name of Jones whose favorite trick was going beneath the hammocks — we all slept in hammocks during boots — and tipping the occupants out onto the deck. As I recall, no one ever got angry enough to cause a stink over it, just a bit of high jinks. I think what saved me was the fact that the smallpox vaccination caused a lump under my arm which prohibited my sleeping in the hammock for a few days.
After 30 days boot camp ended and everyone was given a 30-day furlough, I returned to St. Louis, had my fling of which I remember very little, and then it was back to camp John Paul Jones for a few weeks.
Took a battery of tests and qualified for Radio school and subsequently made my way to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Prior to this I was tested for submarine duty and thankfully was unqualified for this, something about claustrophobia and as before mentioned I was mighty glad.
I made my way to Ohio, spent a few weeks studying, trying to make the grade but to no avail. Did all right on three-fourths of the subjects but had no luck with the electrical portion. I was mustered out and sent on toward my final destination, the U.S.S. Abbot DD629 that wouldn’t be launched until the middle of February 1943.
I don’t remember for sure how many were in the group sent to Norfolk, around 10 or 12, but we somehow managed to miss the train, wound up spending some time in Cincinnati. This was later referred to as happy hours and no need to explain why. Upon arrival in Norfolk everyone expected some sort of reprimand but none was forthcoming and we settled in for some fun time in Norfolk — that is until I noticed a sign that read, “Sailors and dogs keep off the grass.” No more of my time or money was spent in Norfolk after that. Newport News was liberty town from then on. While in either Norfolk or Newport News I met up with a friend from St. Louis, actually we had gone to school together, and we proceeded to get our first and only tattoo together. He went on to the European Theater while I eventually wound up in the Pacific.
Next stop the Fargo Building in Boston. I am sure you all remember the time spent in these quarters, the liberties enjoyed, the memories acquired, etc. One that I remember was when Stan Young came in off the street and asked me to go with him as some guys were treating him rather badly. I turned to get my hat, turned again and there was no sign of Stan. I have often wondered what happened, as well as how he disappeared so quickly.
Another time, in good old Skully’s Square, Irving W. Vincent and I were on the town and tried to gain entrance into a pub, Vince was denied while I was allowed to enter. Never could figure that one, Vince was much bigger than I as well as older, go figure. The Fargo Bldg. was our home for a few weeks while waiting for the Abbot to be finished and brought from Bath, Maine, to Boston. I’m not sure of the day this happened but on April 23, 1943, 15 officers and 304 enlisted men gathered on the main deck for the commissioning ceremony. This took 8 or 9 minutes and another phase of my life began life aboard a “Tin-Can” during a time of war.
It is my hope that this will be interesting, enjoyable at times, and to some it will bring back memories of a time that was hard but had its lighter moments as well. As you read this remember how many years have gone by since these things occurred and make allowances. There may be things that do not jibe with how you remember them but I will stick to the truth, as I see it. Most importantly, the things about the Abbot will come from the Log and the War Diary, and will be as factual as possible.
By authority of the Chief of Naval Operations dispatch 201625 of April 1943, Captain R. C. Grady, U.S.Navy, Captain of the Navy Yard, Boston, placed this vessel in commission at 1500 hours. At 1505, pursuant to BuPers Dispatch 250657 of February 1943, Commander Chester E. Carroll, U.S.N., read his orders and assumed command of the U.S.S. Abbot DD629. At 1508 set the watch, first section, and all port details manned their stations.
Thus began the story of the U.S.S. Abbot, another of the growing number of Fletcher-class destroyers that began entering the fleet in late spring of 1942. There were to be 175 such vessels before the program was ended, and a welcome addition to the fleet they were. But first, a brief word about the person for whom the Abbot was named.
Joel Abbot was born in Westford, Mass., on 18 January 1793. Appointed Midshipman 2 November 1812, he commanded the Frigate Macedonian during the Japanese expedition of 1852 and later supervised the placing of buoys and a lightship in the Yangtse Kiang River. Commodore Abbot died of malaria in Hong Kong on 14 December 1855.
There were two vessels named in honor of Commodore Abbot. The first, DD184, was launched 4 July 1918 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Virginia; sponsored by miss Louise Abbot Cooke, great-granddaughter of Commodore Abbot; commissioned 19 July 1919, with Lt. Commander, W. N. Richardson, Jr. in command, and reported to the Atlantic Fleet. The Abbot cruised along the Atlantic coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in Cuban waters until going out of commission 5 July, 1922 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Re-commissioned 17 June 1940, Abbot patrolled along the east coast for a brief time. She was decommissioned at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 23 September 1940 and transferred in the Destroyers land bases exchange to the British who renamed her HMS Charlestown.
HMS Charlestown joined the 17th destroyer division and took part in mine-laying operations from the West Coast of Scotland. Between assignments of mine-laying duty she assisted in the escort of convoys. Damaged in collision with the steamer Florizel off Harwich, England, during December 1944 she was reduced to reserve at Grangemouth, Scotland and paid off from 15 January 1945, to be scrapped.
The second Abbot, DD 629, was laid down on 21 September 1942 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works, launched on 17 February 1943 and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 23 April 1943. Sponsored by Mrs. Grace Abbot Fletcher, a great-granddaughter of Commodore Abbot, with Commander Chester E. Carroll in command, and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.
Abbot cruised in Atlantic and Caribbean waters as escort for large combatant vessels, engaged in shakedown and training until departing for the Pacific 10 September 1943. Between January, 1944 and August, 1945 Abbot carried out fire support, patrol, and escort duties during the Marshall Islands invasion, (29 Jan.-18 Feb.); Hollandia Landings (21 Apr.-4 May); Marianas Invasion (16 June-1 Aug); Leyte Landings (20 Oct-14 Nov.); Lingayen Gulf Landings (4-18 Jan.); Manila-Bicol Landings (13-28 Feb.); consolidation of the southern Philippines (28 Feb.-3 Mar.); and 3rd Fleet operations against Japan (10 July-9 Aug); On 17 August Abbot arrived at Saipan, on to Pearl Harbor and then proceeded to Bremerton WA for deactivation. Abbot went out of commission in reserve 21 May 1946 at Long Beach, Calif. Abbot received 8 battle stars for her Pacific Area service during World War II.
Moored portside to pier 4, Boston Navy Yard, an entry to the log that seemed to go on and on, but it was time well spent. There was no end of work, loading supplies, getting acquainted with the ship, the duties of everyone on board, as well as with each other. A very busy time, and then this entry in the log: “wound ship”. A quaint little phrase, wound ship. Is this the same as when one puts a key in the old grandfather clock? No, it simply means to turn the old girl stem to stern, as any old salt could tell you. Reason for so doing was not in the log but probably to allow some repair to the other side which could not have been accomplished without solid under-footing.
April 30th the ship was shifted into dry dock for a few days and then back to pier 4, on to pier 11 and then to pier 9. No doubt each pier was able to do a specific job, repair, etc., and then one morning, bright and early Abbot got up a little steam and went down to the sea. Did a little steaming, calibrated the radio directional finder, and returned to port.
It was good getting out to sea, although there were some who would dispute that statement, especially those whose heads were hanging over the side. There is something about the sea that brings out, or should that read brings up, a part of our innermost being. Probably no more needs to be said about that subject.
Underway on the 11th to compensate the compass, in and out of port for various and sundry reasons, and for a change of scenery steamed up coast to Portland Harbor, Portland, Maine, moored alongside the Denebola and the Kidd. It was time for a visit to town so Bud Rupert and I presented ourselves to the O.D. for liberty. I told Bud he had better square up his cap but he wouldn’t listen, I made liberty, Bud was denied. He was a bit angry, especially when I told him what a good time I had. I guess it is true, we live and learn
The period through the 16th was spent in Casco Bay alongside the Denebola, or at sea for training and then on the 17th got underway for New London, Connecticut, anchored off Cape Cod on the 18th, got underway for Port Jefferson, New York. Anchored in East Long Island Sound with Kidd and Rhinegold nearby. Liberty was Port and Starboard, I don’t remember my designation but I do know I didn’t get ashore here. The first group of rowdies made such a fuss that it was decided to cancel any further liberties. Those ruffians should have been ashamed of themselves, right?
While at Port Jefferson, or rather, while in this general vicinity we conducted anti-submarine exercises with the S-20, collision drills, etc. Set course for Cape Cod and then on to Casco Bay, arriving on the 21st. Anchored off Crow Island and Pumpkin Knob, two rather interesting names that I thought should be mentioned, some ships present were the Hudson, Kidd, New York, Paul Jones, and North Star. Finished the month of May in training with the Barracuda, Bonita, and the R-18.
June started out in the same manner, refueling the ship as necessary, and then on the 3rd got underway as screen for the Iowa. She touched off a broadside one day that rocked the Abbot like a bobber on the end of a fishing line. Another thing I recall was being able to track the flight of those 16-inch projectiles, hard for me to believe, but it is true. She did some nighttime firing as well and that was a sight to behold. I certainly wouldn’t care to be on the receiving end of those pellets.
More work with the Barracuda, fired torpedoes and retrieved same, in and out of port, refueling now and then fired depth charges, main batteries, and all automatics. There was no lack of training, especially for the sea detail as we were in and out of port daily. There were times that we dropped the hook and within a few minutes got under way and headed back out to sea.
Got underway on the 18th, destination Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston. Entered dry dock on the 22nd, on to pier 3 on the 26th, underway on the 29th for machinery trials. Returned to Boston and pier 4.
July started as June ended moored as before, but then we got underway, picked up the New York and John D. Edwards and headed south, eventually reaching Norfolk, Viginia. Moored in nest with the Edwards and Palmer until the next day when with the Edwards and Block Island, stood out to sea, took a northern route, entered the New York Channel, dropped off our two companions, reversed course and steamed on to Cacso Bay. I suppose there was a reason for our not going on to New York but it was a big disappointment. I never did make liberty in the “Big Apple”, nor anywhere in the state of New York for that matter, just one more minor frustration. Moored in Casco Bay in nest with Chauncey, Charrette, and two APCs.
July 12th, underway with Bullard and Texas steaming south, dropped off the Texas in New York Harbor and continued on with Bullard to NOB Norfolk, to moor alongside Burns and Greene.
July 17, 1943, underway with the Burns and the Cowpens and again headed south. Not much going on, except when the Cowpens would launch and recover aircraft, Abbot and Burns would take turns as plane guard, in addition to anti-sub screening. This was my first time in the Caribbean and I couldn’t help marveling at how green the water was. It was a surprise to me for I had thought all ocean water was rather dark. Not many opportunities to view the ocean from the state of Missouri. Entered Boca de Navio Channel on the 21st and moored to pier 1, NAB, Port of Spain, Trinidad, B.W. Indies.
While in Trinidad we were not allowed off base, probably for our own good but as you know most 17- and 18-year-olds think they themselves are better able to judge in this area, so…. Bud Rupert and I decided to try our luck getting out into the civilian world. Undress whites was the uniform of the day, all that was required to leave ship for a bit of recreation. In order to leave the base a dress uniform was needed and the only difference between the two was the neckerchief. Bud and I slipped our neckerchiefs under the blouse, went ashore, found a quiet spot, donned the kerchiefs and meandered through the gate and to freedom. We hired a taxi and cruised around the countryside for a while. We were, quite naturally, proud of ourselves having put one over on the powers that be, and managed to return just slightly AOL. Great fun.
Got underway on the 23rd with the Cowpens and the Mattole for fueling operations. It seems strange that the Cowpens couldn’t refuel from the pier but maybe it was designed so the Abbot could get a little more training. Anyway, we circled the two ships during the fueling operation and then Abbot refueled from the Mattole as well. Left to cover the Bunker Hill for plane guard-duty, back to the Cowpens and returned to port. More fuel, back out to sea for exercises with the S-11 and back to port where the following special operational order was received:
Special Operational Report
July 31 to Aug., 1943 inclusive
At approximately 1915 Queen, July 1943 written orders were received from the Captain of the Yard, NAB Trinidad, BWI, for the Abbot to proceed immediately at best speed and pick up three German survivors on a raft with sail set.
This report was based on a sighting made by Army fliers and the estimated position was Lat. 09° 03’ North, Long. 55° 02’ West. The estimated drift was two knots per hour, set 300 degrees. Some aluminum slicks had been dropped by Army planes in order to mark the area in which the raft had first been sighted, and the Abbot got underway at 1925.
With the above information it was estimated that the raft would be sighted around 1145 Aug. 1 at Lat. 09° 26.8’ North, Long. 55° 44.2’, a distance of 48 miles from the original given position along the 300 set line.
Not sighting the raft at this position, the Abbot proceeded along this estimated track line of the raft towards the original reported position. At approximately 1330 Aug. 1 the Abbot was at this position and changed course to the southward to investigate discolored water, believed to be depth charge exudate.
From this position a careful zigzag search was conducted within the area of the estimated position of the raft. The general direction of the search was along this line.
The wind was blowing from the northeast at about force 4, giving us reason to believe the raft would be in the area outlined above.
A Navy PBM plane assisted in the search on this day according to orders received from his base at Georgetown, with no results. Army planes assisted during the night, no results. On Aug. 2 a Navy PBM reported to further assist in the search. The plan given the plane was to search in increasing circles around the estimated position of the raft, with no results. It then searched on the outside of our search area. The plane completed its search with no success and returned to base.
The Abbot continued searching the area. A dispatch was received from NOB, Trinidad, BWI, directing the Abbot to return to Trinidad if the survivors had not been located by sunset. At 1227 Aug. 3, 1943 the Abbot was moored at the Naval Air Station, Trinidad, BWI.
Aug. 1 through Aug. 3 was spent searching for the raft with the German survivors on board. Results were negative and Abbot returned to Trinidad. One thing that stands out in my mind was the night one of the planes dropped a flare over our heads. Lit us up a bit too much and I thought, what if there is a U-Boat out there looking for something to put a torpedo into? There must not have been but a little spooky none-the-less.
Something of interest is how various ships were teamed up such as one day the Monterey, Walker, Kidd and Hudson passed through Dragon’s Mouth and the next day it was Bunker Hill, Hudson, Kidd and Abbot, en-route to Norfolk, VA, dropped off the Kidd, picked up the Braine and continued on to Boston. Abbot tied up to pier 4 just as quiet as could be when the alarm sounded for GQ. Air alert as 6 unidentified aircraft were picked up, some 50 miles out. They turned out to be friendlies, but they caused some confusion for a while.
Abbot entered dry dock, South Boston on the 17th and stayed until Sept. 6 and it gives me time for another little story. We all know that mess duty was a form of punishment, a way of whipping a recalcitrant seaman into shape with no little grumbling, until it became known that KP also meant every-night liberty, while in port. This, of course, took the sting out of mess cooking. It also took a lot of sleep away from those so blessed. A lot of bleary eyed sailors slinging hash of a morning, but then no one seemed to mind.
Abbot took on some fuel on the 7th and next day got underway, independently, for Norfolk. Entered port, moored alongside the Erben with the Kimberly alongside, more fuel and settled down for the night. SOPAwas in Alcor.
September 10, 1943 got underway with Erben, Kimberly, and Bunker Hill en-route Canal Zone. Apparently our shakedown was coming to an end, almost time to put into practice the things we had been training for. Along the way to the Canal Zone there were the usual flight operations, possible sound contacts to be investigated, a convoy to be checked out and finally, on the 16th we entered Limon Bay. Picked up a pilot and started through the Panama Canal. Passed through the Gatun Locks, Pedro Miguel Locks, the Mira Flores Locks, into Balboa Harbor and moored to the Panama Railroad Pier for fuel. With all the fuel the Abbot used it’s a wonder the well didn’t go dry. I suppose someone must know how much fuel was consumed during the war, I wonder how much it was.
We spent two nights in the Canal Zone, hardly long enough to get acquainted, but long enough for some hijinks. I remember the exec., J. S. C. Gabbert, telling us just prior to leaving ship, “I know you are going to get into trouble, just get back to the ship and you will be all right”. Well, things transpired as predicted, there was a wee bit of trouble, we did return to the ship and to safety. Thinking back on that night reminds me of a movie I saw called “Mister Roberts”. I believe the director got the idea for this movie from Abbot’s night in Panama. With the possible exception of the motorcycle flying off the dock in the movie, I can see a lot of similarity.
September 18, 1943. As is often said, “All good things must come to an end”, and so they do. We departed from Panama, with the same companions, and headed north, a surprise as it was thought we would head for Pearl Harbor and the trouble spots, but north it was. Mostly routine until the 24th when a plane crashed into the water, Abbot proceeded to the rescue, taking aboard the pilot. No mention of when he was returned to his ship so I assume he stayed with us until we reached our destination, San Diego. On the 26th we moored to the Broadway Pier. I made liberty on the 27th and being too young was not allowed inside the local pubs so I decided to alter my ID card. I did this and wouldn’t you know it, we steamed out of port bright and early the next morning thereby spoiling my little scheme. So much for that bit of trickery, it was a fizzle.
September 28, 1943, underway, same group, destination Pearl Harbor and points west. A short circuit in the steering control motor caused a bit of a problem, but rudder control was shifted to the bridge, which allowed us to continue on course until the motors were repaired. Entered P.H. Oct. 2, fueled from the pier and moored alongside the Black Hawk, SOPAin Colorado. Out to sea for sonar training with sub Pollak and for the next few days it was in and out of port, almost daily, training exercises, shore bombardment of Kahoolawe Island, refueling as necessary. Working with the Indiana this time, firing of main batteries and on one such episode there was a fire in the tool-box, by gun 43, caused by burning cork from gun #4. It was quickly extinguished with little damage.
October 18, 1943, steaming in company with Cowpens, Coghlan, and Chauncey in operating area off Pearl Harbor, T.H. conducting night flight operations. Steaming on various courses at various speeds 500 yards from Cowpens, Abbot acting as plane guard. At 0126 ceased present exercises, changed course and commenced reorienting position.
Took station as port A/S screening vessel 3500 yards from Cowpens. At 0219 received the following orders over the TBS from commander task unit 19.15 to screening destroyers, quote,” take your former stations”. Helmsman was given order, left standard rudder. Speed was increased to 25 knots and ship was swung left, it being the conning officer’s intention that this course would cause the Cowpens bearing to draw right slowly. Bearing did not change and ship was brought left an additional 20 degrees. Bearing still did not draw right as expected and right standard rudder was given to helmsman. Speed was decreased to 20 knots. At 0223, collision being eminent, the commanding officer gave the order, left full rudder, all engines back emergency full.
At 0224 collided with Cowpens. Abbot’s bow striking her starboard side about 30 feet forward of her stern. Went to general quarters, all engines stopped. 0232 Cowpens reported rudder jammed full right, directed Abbot to back clear. 0233 all engines backing 1/3. 0234 all engines stopped. 0300 preliminary investigation of damage showed the ship to be intact and watertight aft of frame 26, below the third platform-deck. The bow was twisted 75 degrees at frame 18, forward of peak tanks. Chain lockers, paint lockers, and underwater sound room areas were known to be flooded. Emergency shores were rigged in frame A302L, the bulkhead at frame 30 was shored from the third platform deck down. Four submersible pumps were rigged and pumping out of lower sound room was commenced. All electrical circuits and fire main forward of frame 30 were secured. Ship lying to with Coghlan circling as A/S screening vessel. 0330 went ahead 1/3 on port engine to maintain steerage-way. Fire broke out in damaged windlass room, caused by burning through deck in CPO quarters to facilitate pumping of damaged spaces. Fire was put out with a stream of water with very little, if any, additional damage.
As a result of this collision, Nedeau, Frederic Louis, was pronounced dead by reason of compression of lungs. Ceresna, Arthur Walter, was pronounced dead by reason of injuries, multiple, extreme, and Halligan, Edward James, dead by reason of crushing of abdomen and chest. Shenafelt, A.K., Goslee, R.A., Mahnke, E.J., and Nault, N.L., all received injuries as a result of this collision.
Oct. 19, 1943. 1306 moored to fuel oil pier, Pearl Harbor. Shenafelt, A.K., was transferred to the Navy hospital P.H. for medical treatment. The remains of the deceased were transferred to the navy hospital for further disposition. This report was from the operational log. Seems rather brief and impersonal, but under the circumstances I suppose it was appropriate.
The collision occurred at 0223 on the 18th and the Abbot was moored at 1259 on the 19th, a period of some 34 hours. I thought it had taken much longer than that, but in such a situation time would seem to drag. Perhaps I was thinking about what had just occurred, how, or maybe why had it happened. This was, beyond doubt, the darkest day in Abbot’s history during WWII.
My first recollection of the incident is of being jolted out of my bunk, trying to get some clothes on and at the same time trying to get up the ladder and through the hatch. This was complicated when Mike Pellegrino tried to do the same and, needless to say, that didn’t happen. One of us had to defer to the other and I am not sure which of us was the better shipmate. Suffice it to say we both made it for I see Mike’s name in the Bulletin, and I am writing this paper. I also remember how the bodies were wrapped and then placed on the main deck until our arrival in Pearl. In another situation there would probably have been a burial at sea, and who can say which would have been best?
Oct 20, 1943. Off-loaded fuel and ammunition, went into dry dock for a few days and then to pier alongside the Aulick. Guns 41, 42, and 43 were removed and later replaced with new ones. All machinery was secured until Nov. 12 when dock trials were begun. The ship moved an incredible 8 inches and I wonder if the sea detail was harnessed up for that move, probably so for every opportunity for training, of any sort, was utilized.
Moved, by tug, back to dry dock through the 24th and then returned to pier for the rest of Nov.. Dec. 1 through 8 was much the same until finally the ship was back at sea. Tests and more tests, a second shakedown but not as lengthy as the first one was. All systems re-calibrated, or whatever, and then an assignment. Along with the Hale and Fleming as screen for a group of transports exercising in and around the islands, until finally, Abbot was judged ready for the next phase in her cruise around the Pacific. Relieved as screen for the transports by the Haggard and Hazelwood, Abbot and Hale set course for Pearl Harbor and moored in Berth K-1 overnight.
Dec. 21, 1943. underway with Erben, Hale, Bullard, and Chauncey enroute to Funafuti Atoll, Ellice Islands. The next few days were uneventful, normal routine of a ship at sea, pre-dawn alert, A/A practice, etc. Quite often I think of that time, five sleek greyhounds racing across the ocean with fantails awash, kicking up a wake that wasn’t exactly a rooster tail, but impressive even so. For the cowboys among us it reminded me of a bunch of wild mustangs kicking up their heels, a cloud of dust boiling up around them, really having a good time. W. W. Curry from Wyoming take note.
Dec. 25, 1943 some excitement when an underwater sound contact was made, attack procedure set in motion and then was called off as no further contact was made. It was believed to have been, and probably was, a large fish. On the other hand, had it been an enemy sub, one wonders who in his right mind would care to take on a division of Fletchers? Fanaticism had not reached such a point at this stage of the conflict. Arrived in Funafuti on the 26th, refueled from the YO161, shifted and anchored through the 30th.
Dec. 31, 1943. DesDiv95 formed up with TG57.8, Chester, Pensacola, and Salt Lake City, conducting maneuvers AA practice etc., re-fueling every three or four days, in port each night to anchor. One night we went alongside the S.L. City and began pumping fuel into said cruiser. We were always in need of fuel ourselves and here we were giving some of ours to one of the bigger boys. As Red Buttons was want to say,“strange things are happening”. Many days were consumed in this manner, all in preparation for the up-coming operation.
Jan. 23, 1944. TG57.8 was dissolved and the units became part of TG58.5, TGC Rear Admiral W. A. Lee Jr. in the Washington. Included were BatDivs 6, 7, 8, 9, Bunker Hill, Monterey, CruDiv5 less Portland, DesRon 46 less Boyd, DesDiv95 less Stemble plus the Tisdale and Lackawanna. Got underway, destroyers screening for the heavies and after all had sortied, set course for the Marshall Islands. Somewhere along the way this unit was joined by the Enterprise, Yorktown and TG58.1. This TG was not identified at this time. On the 28th Abbot picked up a sound contact positive enough to warrant some serious attention. The Abbot made an attack, fired 1st, 2nd, and 3rd patterns of depth charges. There was no positive identification as to the presence of a submarine, although there was a small amount of debris observed in the area, so the search was abandoned and the Abbot resumed her place in the screen.
Jan. 29, 1944. The day began on a sour note with the mid-air collision of two carrier aircraft, and a destroyer was sent to assist. In the meantime, two Japanese Bettys were seen dead ahead, an air alert was called but nothing developed. The Salt Lake City, Walker and Abbot proceeded to Wotje Island for bombardment. Some flashes were seen coming from the beach, believed to be return-fire from shore batteries, with no damage to either ship being reported. Abbot commenced fire on an unidentified surface target, which disappeared from the radar screen and cease-fire was called. One enemy torpedo plane was shot down by Combat Air Patrol, as it took off from the island, and a large explosion on the island was observed, probably either a munitions or oil storage depot.
Feb. 1944. TG50.15, Rear Admiral E.G. Small commanding, now included the Chester, Pensacola, Salt Lake City, Erben, Hale, Preble, Abbot, Walker, Ramsey, Bullard, Black, Nassau and Natoma Bay. This group began several days of bombardment and harassment with Abbot proceeding independently to bombard Taroa. Some return fire from shore batteries was observed, but again there was no damage to the ship as the fire was falling short by some 1000 yards. The Portland and the Kidd joined the formation and the nightly bombardment of the island. These activities were continued for several days, interspersed with visits to the fuel depots, an occasional sound contact, and cruisers launching spotter planes. An explosion and fire on Wotje, caused by our fire, friendlies bombing and strafing the island, more fuel and so on. Occasionally there was a bucket of ice cream from one of the” big boys”, some guys had it made. Tin Cans did not have the ability to make ice cream so it was a real treat when we received some from one of the larger vessels. There was, of course, a lot of patrolling, a visit to Kwajelein and February as well as the first week or so of March slipped by. Released from TG50.15 and Abbot was soon headed for different waters.
March 12, 1944. DesDiv95, less Stemble got underway en-route Espiritu Santo, subsequently changed to read Guadalcanal and meant we would soon be crossing the equator. This would be the first such crossing for most of the crew and would call for extra curricular activities. It is customary for all that have not crossed the Equator, to endure a program of initiation designed to qualify the lowly Polywog for admittance to the grand and glorious realm of the “Shellback”. All seamen, from the swabbie up and through the Skipper, would be subject to whatever his majesty, King Neptune deemed necessary. King Neptune spared no one, neither did his minions who were absolutely ruthless. However, after all the shenanigans were ended and the king had to return to his own more familiar surroundings, everyone wished him well as he slipped back into the briny. That was a lousy tasting concoction that was used to swab the tonsils, and I think some of the”minions”swung the paddle with a bit too much enthusiasm.
March 17, 1944. Upon arrival in Guadalcanal, DesDiv95 was assigned to TG36.3, Natoma Bay and Nassau, Abbot took on some fuel, indulged in a bit of material upkeep and then of all things, a beach party was announced. As luck would have it, or maybe by design, this writer was allowed to remain on board. No doubt it was a measure taken to insure proper protection of the ship. However, desperate times call for desperate measures, so…one simply volunteers for Shore Patrol, a not too well thought of branch of the Navy. On the other hand, it is sometimes necessary to stand on solid ground now and then, if only to see if you can still navigate without “rockin’ and rollin’. Of course this extra duty did not qualify one for the two cans of beer allotted to the party-goers, merely an opportunity to hit the beach.
The ink on the assignment to TG 36.3 was barely dry when DesDiv 95 was re-assigned to TU 32.4.6, a transport group needing an escort in and around Guadalcanal. Abbot left to escort the Centaurus to another area, transported a patient from Kokabuna Beach to hospital, Guadalcanal, re-joined the TU that then set course for Torokina, Bougainville. On the way Abbot picked up a contact which proved false and then the Hale picked up one that warranted an attack. Hale made one depth charge run, re-evaluated as a false contact and re-joined the formation.
Early next morning, Abbot made a sound contact which after careful investigation was identified as non-dangerous shoal. As you can see, nothing escapes the ever-vigilant ears of the “ping jockeys”. During the morning watch the unit commander received a message to change destinations and course was set for Milne Bay, New Guinea. We arrived on the 31st, fueled from the Esso Lobos, went to anchor and it was time for some more material upkeep. This was, I think, designed to keep the crew busy and out of mischief, not always a success I might add. The torpedo juice still seemed to disappear somehow, the fruit juice managed to ferment off in a corner some-where, and the beer locker somehow couldn’t keep its lock in place. But you know things went rather well, in spite of the mischief-makers. Another reason for the up-keep, and I am sure of this, was to keep the old girl as seaworthy as possible and looking good as well. From the appearance of some of the ships we encountered I would say the results were well worth the effort. There were some real buckets out there.
April 4, 1944, underway for Cape Sudest, New Guinea. Arrived on the 5th, anchored through the 9th, TU 32.4.6 was dissolved and TU 76.12.68 was formed. Underway for training, simulated torpedo attacks and other exercises. Just for a diversion an emergency appendectomy was performed, I think the recipient of this procedure was named Pelletier. I am not sure which one, there were two such on board, anyway, all went well. Set course for Port Purvis, moored alongside YO161 for fuel, went to anchor and this TU was dissolved.
April 14, 1944 Underway for rendezvous with TG 36.3 and this division relieved division 94. We joined up with TG 36.3 commanded by Rear Admiral Ralph Davison. Abbot re-fueled from the Patuxant, assumed duties as Destroyer-Messenger and began delivery of mail and crated propellers to designated ships of CarDiv24. Rear Admiral Stump and staff were received on board from the Corregidor and transferred to the Manila Bay.
TG 36.3 was dissolved and Task Force 78 was formed, Rear Admiral Ralph Davison commanding. DesRon 48, less Stemble and CarDiv 24 formed up as TG 78.2 and began conducting flight operations. On the 20th, Task Force 77, an Amphibious Force, and Task Force 74, commander in HMAS Australia formed astern and course was set for Aitape, New Guinea. Sometime in the afternoon the Black left formation and proceeded as directed. This was a common occurrence as the destroyers were always off on a special mission of some sort. An independent, sometimes lonely life aboard a “Can.”
April 22, 1944. At 0530 the carriers held flight operations to cover the landing at Aitape. The group stayed in the area throughout the day, retiring at night to an area southwest of Wuvulu Island. The next day was a repeat, flight ops as before and then TF 74, HMAS Australia, Shropshire, Warramunga, and Arunta, the U.S.S. Ammen and Mullany commanded by Rear Admiral V. A. C. Crutchley formed up. Stayed in the area during the day, set course for the retirement area, re-fueled from the Natoma Bay and resumed station in the screen.
April 24, 1944 En-route to Hollandia and arrived on the 25th. Stayed in the area overnight and next morning headed for the Admiralty Islands. Re-fueled from the Victoria and then to anchor. Underway on the 29th, screened harbor entrance for sortie of TG 78.2, less Natoma Bay and TF 74 and headed for Hollandia. An unidentified plane was picked up by the Manila Bay, the plane kept its distance and normal cruising disposition was resumed. There was no indication of whether the plane was a friend or foe, it just disappeared into the blue.
April 30, 1944 arrived off Hollandia and flight operations were begun which lasted through May 2nd. This was cover for the landing on Hollandia. The Black, once again, was temporarily detached in order to proceed as directed. As mentioned before, destroyers quite often operated independently, doing whatever, and the Black was again so honored. Ships were coming and going at all times, such as, the Lardner, Lansdown, and Ellet joining the formation at this time. Set course for Seeadler, entered the harbor and as usual Abbot’s first concern was for some fuel. Obtained some from the Leopard and then anchored. Task Force 74 was detached from this unit, TG 78.1 stood in and Rear Admiral V. H. Ragsdale assumed command of TF 78. Command in Sangamon.
May 7, 1944, Underway with TF 78 when at 2249 the number one generator shorted out causing failure of electrical appliances, including electric lube oil pump to the starboard shaft. Secured starboard engine, steering control failed and after steering room took steering control. The starboard engine came back on line and at 2259 the number one generator was back in operation and steering was returned to the Bridge. Set course for Espiritu Santo with the usual flight OPS. And someone acting as plane guard. This duty was a real life saver as there were many a plane that crashed, either during take-off or landing, and many an airman was rescued by one or the other of the destroyers, later returned to their respective ships ready to try again. Arrived some 30 miles northeast of Espiritu and all carriers, except Suwannee, commenced transferring their aircraft to the air base on the island. Some of the group set course for Segond Channel, the others stayed at Pallikulo Bau, Espiritu. Abbot refueled from the Cocapon and anchored. Next day, underway so the Suwannee could transfer her aircraft to the island base. It was time for some major maintenance. Abbot anchored alongside the Walker for a few days of “Material Upkeep”, chipping paint, swabbing decks, maybe even getting some stores, etc.
May 17 1944, underway for Segond Channel, moored for a few minutes and then entered a floating dry dock for a little repair work. Actually it took the better part of three days after which we stood out to sea for post engine repair trials. This completed it was back to port, fuel from the pier and found a comfortable moorage, for the night. Task Group 53.7 was formed, Commander Admiral Ragsdale in Sangamon got underway and stood seaward. Abbot investigated an underwater contact, it proved negative and Abbot rejoined the screen. Routine through the 24th but on the 25th the Sangamon reported a man overboard. The Kidd was sent to assist and reported picking up the man after only 23 minutes had elapsed. A well done is in order. I can well imagine how relieved that sailor must have felt when he was hauled out of that deep, deep ocean. The formation set course for Florida Island, screened entry of carriers into Tulagi Harbor, Abbot entered and moored alongside the Walker.
May 27, 1944 underway with TG 53.7, less Kidd and Chauncey. Abbot proceeded to Koli Point to pick up mail, delivered same and rejoined screen. A couple of uneventful days, simply cruising along with normal exercises and the like. Returned to Segond Channel, refueled from the Escambia and moored in nest with Div 95, less Stemble. For the most part a destroyer division will stay together, but at times one or more will be “borrowed” to augment another division, beef up a screen as deemed necessary. Stemble was used quite often in this respect, as was the Abbot.
June 2, 1944, Underway with the carriers recovering all aircraft from Carrier Aircraft Service Unit. CarDiv 22, DesDiv 95, less Stemble, DesDiv 89 and Pocomoke formed up and set course for??? Met up with TG 53.1 and with the exception DesDiv 89 and Pocomoke, became a part of this unit, commanded by Rear Admiral R.L.Conolly in Appalachian. On the 7th, the Cleveland, Montpelier, Hailey, and Colahan left the formation. The rest of the group continued on to Kwajelein. Abbot refueled from the Schuylkill, anchored and enjoyed a bit of “material upkeep.”
June12, 1944 Stood out of Gea Passage, lying to as TG 53.1 sortied, and took departure from Kwajelein Atoll in company with CarDiv 22, less Santee, and DesDiv 95 less Stemble. Steaming along when Abbot left the formation to deliver a visual message to TG 53.2, which was on a parallel course but operating independently of our group. Our medical officer was transferred to the Hale to assist with an operation, returning aboard the same day. Next day Abbot again delivered a visual message to TG 53.2 as radio silence was being observed. We were within two days of the assault on the Marianas Islands, and of course, silence was necessary if it were to be a surprise. Refueled from the Suwannee, an unidentified aircraft was picked up on the Radar, but nothing developed. We each went our separate way.
June 20, 1944. Another Bogey, distant 45 miles and going away. Contact was lost when it reached a distance of 74 miles. It could have been a friendly not monitoring his Radio. Met up with TG 42.14 commanded by Rear Admiral G. F. Bogan in White Plains.
June 22, 1944. Fun and games began early today when at 0200 contact on a bogey brought everyone to his feet, eyes full of sleep, and more than a little groggy. This may be the night I ran into a super-structure stanchion on my way to GQ. I know there are a great many stars in the heavens, that night they all seemed to be in my eyes. It hit me right between the eyes, and I was a bit disoriented for a spell. Luckily, the Bogey was a raid over Saipan and passed some 7 miles north of our group so we didn’t have to deal with it. Things grew quiet for a spell, which allowed several of the ships to refuel. The Abbot, for a change, was not in need and so she waited for another time. Next morning, at 0145 another Bogey, distant 48 miles, closed to within 5 miles, but once again it was a raid over Saipan. Later, in early afternoon, another Bogey identified as four enemy planes over Saipan. I suppose these Bogies were being disposed of by CAP and were not allowed to molest the fleet, which was fine by me. Today the Abbot needs to top off her bunkers and the Sangamon has a surplus. This done, the Kalinan Bay and Ross left on assignment, another Bogey over Saipan, and we steamed on.
June 26, 1944. Another day, and more Bogies, one passed 4 miles to the westward as another passed over the formation and was taken under fire by the Callaghan. This Bogey made a second run passing astern of this vessel and Abbot opened fire with undetermined results. Must have missed him for he came back for a third run, passing up the port side. Fire was opened and Bogey was seen to burst into flames and crash into the sea, distant about 4000 yards. The Hale also fired on this run and the entry in the War Diary made no claim as to which ship was responsible for the downing of this Bogey. In the Operational Remarks, the officer filing the report stated that the Abbot was the successful shooter. This is the only time such a claim was made by the Abbot, but most importantly, the plane was brought down before it could cause any damage to the fleet. The remainder of the day was uneventful, Sangamon and Erben left formation while the Breton, Copahee, and Evans joined up. Abbot snuggled up to the Kennebago for some of that Black Gold and all was quiet for a few hours. Next evening three Bogies put in an appearance, Abbot made smoke on one occasion, and all clear came from the commander. Ceased smoke and settled down for the night.
June 28, 1944. At 0445 Abbot left formation to escort Suwannee to Charankanoa, left her there inside a patrolled area and took station off Garapan, Saipan, with orders to be fire-support vessel. Some 20 minutes later we received orders to return to Charankanoa Harbor, near the Rocky Mount, to await further orders. Set course to rejoin Suwannee, Bogies detected in the area, made smoke. Bogey passed 3 miles south of our position, ceased smoke. The Clemson left formation on a special mission, Abbot became part of TUs52.17.8 and 52.14.3, these units were commanded by Rear Admiral R. C. Giffen in Wichita. The 29th and 30th were relatively quiet days, not much going on, no mention of flight operations, no refueling to be done, and even the Bogies were leaving us alone. It was so calm and peaceful as to be a little spooky, lull before the storm sort of atmosphere.
Such lulls are appreciated, nonetheless.
July 1, 1944. This day began quietly enough until at 0857 a Suwannee plane crashed during launch and at 0906 Abbot had effected the rescue of the three-man crew. They were back aboard the Suwanee at 1007, transfer by breeches buoy. A very well done as only nine minutes had elapsed from crash to rescue, and they were back home in a little over one hour. I am sure the plane crew, Ensign H. G. Jedlund, C. W. Herrin, and L. T. Bingham would agree. Next day Abbot was treated to a supply of “fuel” from the Suwannee, such gratitude. No reward necessary, however, just doing our duty.
This unit operated in the area for a few days until relieved by the Corregidor, Coral Sea, and DesDiv96, less Black, and course was set for Eniwetok, arrived on the 7th and moored in nest with Walker and Erben.
The next two days were utilized in, not material upkeep, but in Logistical needs. I had a time trying to get my fingers to type that new word. We were underway on the 10th in company with the Sangamon, Suwannee, Erben, Walker, and Hull, destination Guam. Flight operations were begun which meant that someone would be acting as plane guard. Not bad duty at all, in fact it could be very rewarding, especially when a successful rescue was effected, as most of them were. The Kidd and the Chenango joined the formation, bringing a Bogey with them. Bogey got lost in the shuffle, nothing more was said about him, he simply flew off the radar screen. Probably another friendly, failing to identify himself. Could even be his radio was inoperative. Next morning Abbot refueled from the Chenango, broke away at the report of a Bogey in the area. This was not our lost Bogey, this one was later identified as a friendly. Received mail from the Erben and retired to the night steaming area.
July 16, 1944. Abbot, Chenango and Hull set course for Saipan, refueled from the Gemsbok, anchored for a few hours, got underway with the same two companions and set course for Guam. Along the way met up with the Kidd, Suwannee, and Walker, and the Erben, Sangamon, and Hogan. Neat day the Kalinin Bay, Corregidor, Bullard, Chauncey, and Hale arrived on the scene. An impressive little group, five carriers and nine destroyers that became task group 53.7. Refueled from the Marias, transferred a pilot from the Suwannee to the Chenango, reversed course, and with the Hull and Chenango, returned to Saipan. Arrived on the 26th, anchored for about 10 hours and then was back out on the high seas. One wonders why all this in and out of port, to anchor for a brief time and then underway again. Extra training for the special sea detail, I guess.
July 27, 1944. Rear Admiral V. H. Ragsdale was relieved by Rear Admiral T. L. Sprague as CTG53.7, and we were once again operating in the area around Guam. On receipt of orders, proceeded to investigate reported submarine contact. Arrived at the scene and began a systematic search of the area which lasted some seven hours. Abandoned search as ordered and rejoined the group. The 30th and 31st were days of relative tranquillity, no Bogies, no flight operations, no activities of any kind, nice.
Aug. 1, 1944. Fuel from the Suwannee, the Stemble returned from assignment, DesDiv96 left for assignment, and the remaining ships set course for Eniwetok. Routine steaming, test fired automatic weapons, intermittent flight ops. And the 2nd and 3rd of August slipped by. Entered Eniwetok on the 4th, Abbot went alongside the Piedmont, TG53.7 was dissolved, refueled from the Quiros and anchored for the night. Underway the next, day and stood seaward, and in company with Task Unit 59.17.1 set course for Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii.
Aug. 5, 1944, On course for “Paradise”, otherwise known as Pearl Harbor, a sense of expectation building in the minds of many, if not all, of the crew members. A chance to renew acquaintances that were made during the previous visit in December,’43. The 6th, 7th, 7th, not a typo, just crossing the International date-line. The Corregidor conducted flight operations, A/A practice and other good stuff until, on the 11th, rising up out of the Pacific, the much anticipated Hawaiian Islands, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, “Haven of Rest”.
Home of swaying palm trees, or should that read hula girls? No matter, we had arrived and the first officer had said there would be very little work, a lot of free time while in port, but sadly this was not so. It is hard to believe a ship moving so far and so fast could accumulate so many barnacles as the Abbot did. The word came down, “Over the side all you swabbies, get those hitch-hikers off my ship”. No liberty, a lot of work, but it was a clean Abbot that headed back to the fray some three weeks later. I suppose I should thank K. W. Miller for this because it was shortly thereafter that I transferred to the sound gang. I had discovered that the deck-force, or more appropriately the work force, hardly ever saw their bunks, and a guy needs a little sleep now and then. As mentioned, liberty was non-existent during this time frame, however, there was a decent Servicemen’s Club on the base and Abbot’s crew made good use of the same. We also had some time alongside the Sierra as well as in a floating dry dock. There are some things that just can’t be maintained while on the move, and maybe someone with a bit more expertise is needed from time to time.
Aug. 14, 1944, Commander M. E. Dornin was relieved as commander of this vessel by Lt. Commander F. W. Ingling, and the period through the 27th was utilized in upkeep, tender availability, shifting from one moorage to another, and of course, scraping barnacles. They certainly were a tenacious group of varmints, seemed to want to stay just where they were.
Aug. 28, 1944, underway with DesRon 48, formed up as screen for LST and LCI Task Units and set course for Maalaea Bay, Maui. Steaming in and around the Hawaiian Islands, shore bombardment practice until September 2nd. Returned to Pearl Harbor and anchored alongside the Braine. Underway on the 5th with the English for some anti-sub Sonar training with the sub S-46 submerged. Returned to Pearl.
Sept. 7, 1944. Got underway with the division, Commanding Officer in the Stemble, for additional training exercises. Fired at target towed by Lamberton, Radar calibrated, local control battle practice, long range battle practice, A/A night firing, torpedoes fired and recovered. All in all it was a busy time, and then back to Pearl. Moored in nest with Stemble and Erben and material upkeep through the 14th.
Sept 15, 1944, underway with Walker and Hale as screen for TransDiv7, OTC in Appalachian. Abbot assumed duties as destroyer-messenger, picked up and delivered guard mail and other such duties. Others in the escort were Erben, Kidd, Black, Chauncey, Braine, and Gansevoort. Transports were George Clymer, President Hayes, Mercury, and Monitor with several LSTs and LCIs thrown in for good measure. Also had two Naval Officers as hitchhikers from the Mount Olympus on board for transportation to Kwajelein Atoll. Delivered the two officers and on to Eniwetok, refueled from the Elk then anchored.
Sept. 28, 1944, underway, once more, with the former transport group, plus TG33.1 and TG33.5, Transports under command of Rear Admiral R. L. Conolly. September ended on a familiar note, Bogey, range 23 miles. I don’t know what happened to this one either, he just disappeared off the screen, range, 22 miles. He may have seen the size of the formation and decided to go home for reinforcements. Whatever, we didn’t have to deal with him at this time, maybe later. As before written, this happened often and we will never know how many times it was one of our own that simply didn’t know there were any ships within a thousand miles of his location.
Oct. 1, 1944. En-route Eniwetok to Seeadler Harbor with TG33.1 with the usual flight operations when a plane was seen to crash astern of the Manila Bay. Proceeded to the point of crash but all we could find was the rubber life raft and the belly fuel tank. One of the few times a successful rescue was not effected. On orders, we abandoned search and rejoined the formation. The rest of the day was uneventful, just steaming along and we arrived at our destination on the third of the month, screened the transports and carriers as they entered port, and then entered and went alongside the Arethusa for fuel. Moored alongside the Kane, material upkeep through the sixth.
Oct. 7, 1944, Underway with the Walker for sonar training and started chasing the S-42 which was submerged. Due to an engineering casualty to the starboard propeller shaft spring bearing we returned to Seeadler and for the next two days were occupied with repairs to said casualty. This was the second mishap in this area, the first being when the lubricant to the shaft was interrupted, and now this. Two events that may have contributed to the loss of the screw which occurred in August,’45. Could it be? Underway on the 10th for post repair trials, repairs were thought to be a success and we returned to anchor. The following three days were so spent, rocking gently at anchor with a trip to the Abarenda for fuel, just to break up the monotony.
Oct. 14, 1944, Underway with TG79.1, OTC in Appalachian, guide in Lamar, took departure from Admiralty Islands. Picked up and delivered mail to TransDivs 7, 30, 38, and Exray as well as several of the escort vessels. On the 18th, Task Unit 77.7.1 joined formation, Abbot refueled from the Salamonie and took radar picket station 20315. Radar contact on Mindanao Island, Philippine Islands was made on the 19th.
Oct. 20, 1944. At 0430 entered Surigao Strait and at 0648 an enemy plane was fired on by forward ships of the formation. At 0715 Leyte Island was sighted and a little later we left the transports in the southern transport area and took A/S screening station. Some time later we went to a fire-support area and upon red alert from OTC, started making smoke. One minute later started firing on an enemy plane, ceased fire, ceased making smoke, again making smoke intermittently upon orders from OTC. Took fire-support station, began starshell illumination over enemy lines, relieved by the Robinson, took shore bombardment station, and began harrassing fire on the following, Rizal, Santa Ana, Mayorga, and Lapaz, all on Leyte Island. Ceased bombardment to fire on a Japanese twin-motored bomber that was shot down by the formation. Took fire-support station, left station and took A/S screening station, left this station and proceeded to transport area. Lying to, waiting for the transports to get underway.
Took screening station on Task Unit 79.14.1 and set course for Hollandia, New Guinea. Took departure from Leyte Gulf and four days later we steamed into Humboldt Bay, received some ammo from the Pyros, fuel from the Villalobos, anchored for a short time before heading out again. This time it was as escort for the Frederick Funston, bound for Aitape, New Guinea. Arrived on the 31st, entered and anchored some 600 yards off Tanara Island. This was close enough for a good swimmer, if he had a mind to. Me, I can dog paddle maybe 10 yards, on a good day. I never gave a thought to even trying such a venture, but it would have been interesting.
Nov. 1, 1944, Escorting the F. Funston back to Humboldt Bay, more fuel from the Villalobos, anchored overnight and underway with Task Unit 79.15.2. Routine steaming until an unidentified blip on the screen and we left to investigate. It was identified, by visual challenge, as friendly so we returned to station. Screened transports into Morotai Harbor entered and anchored. Japanese planes began bombing attacks on the airfield at Morotai lasting some 3½ hours. They would also put in an appearance in the evening, just prior to dusk, for a shorter time. Abbot fired on at least one such appearance, firing on a bomber illuminated by searchlights ashore. This was to be a pattern for several days, Japanese planes over the airfields to bomb and harass for a few hours and then clear the area. Reminds me of the TV show “Mash” with their five-o’clock Charlie. Needed a little fuel and obtained some from the Almaack.
Nov. 10, 1944. Underway with Task Unit 79.15.2, guide in Clay, formed up with Task Unit 79.15.6, OTC in Crescent City, left Morotai bound for Leyte Gulf. On the 13th an enemy plane was picked up on Radar, but nothing developed this time. Later in the day contact was made on three separate groups and still later, at 1730, a torpedo plane made a run on the transports. The formation opened fire but the torpedo was released, passing close aboard the Catskill which was credited with shooting down the attacking plane. It crashed some 1000 yards ahead of the Abbot, which was unable to open fire because the transports were in the line of fire. Another Bogey was fired on by ships of the formation and, once again, the Abbot had to hold fire as other ships would have been endangered.
Nov. 14, 1944. Entered Leyte Gulf and right off, a welcoming committee, two enemy planes taken under fire by ships in the harbor. One, an Oscar was shot down, the other, ? Abbot anchored until 1542 at which time we got underway with the former Task Unit and departed Leyte Gulf. We apparently weren’t welcome so thought it best to leave, come back later when certain people might be a bit more receptive. A couple of days later we met up with Task Group 78.13, OTC in Leonard Wood, refueled from the Callaway and continued on. Things deteriorated somewhat on the 22nd when an enemy aircraft dropped an object, believed to have been a torpedo, 500 yards on the port quarter. Close, but no cigar. Here we were, back in Leyte, and their attitude appears to be the same. The not welcome sign was still evident but we delivered the transports to the unloading area anyway. Refueled from the Caribou and went to anchor.
Nov. 24, 1944, The Abbot fired on enemy plane which was seen to be smoking as it entered some clouds over Leyte Island and then commenced firing on another aircraft. Nothing concrete on the fate of either plane and then it was time to get underway again. Commenced patrolling for sortie of the transports fired on aircraft to starboard and took departure from Leyte Gulf. One such attack occurred while we were at anchor in Leyte. This plane came over the mountain which allowed him to be on top of us before we knew he was anywhere near. He seemed to be headed right for my GQ station, but of course, imagination runs rampant at such times. Anyway, we couldn’t hit him and it was almost as though he decided that if he was doing so well, maybe he should go for one of the larger ships. The California was close by and the plane veered and headed that way. He didn’t make it for someone finally brought him down.
It never was very dull in Leyte, there were several other air alerts during the day, conclusion being that, once again, we had over-stayed our welcome, so off we went. Some of this group, the Fletcher, Howorth, La Vallette, Harris, and Norman Scott departed our company while the Monnsen and McGowan joined up. Entered Humboldt Bay, fueled from the Villalobos and were detached from TG 78.13. Anchored through the 30th, probably in order to enjoy some material upkeep. This hasn’t been mentioned for a while so it must be next on the list of things to do.
Dec. 1, 1944. For the next three weeks, through the 22nd, we were at anchor in Humboldt Bay, engaged in the ever-present “material upkeep”. A necessary evil, however, sandwiched in between all the work was a little R&R, a time of refreshing. Also, I had heard that a friend from grade school, a marine no less, was on the Island. I got a pass and looked him up and it was a real treat, seeing someone from home, and as you might imagine, he was most surprised when I showed up at his tent. I ran across another friend when we were in Guadacanal, when we moored alongside the Hudson, DD475. He had been to Australia and gave me some names and addresses, which as it turned out, were of no benefit whatsoever to me. Abbot never made it to Australia, got close one time when we steamed into Milne Bay, or at least I think that is the name. Oh well, there were several such minor frustrations around then.
Dec. 23, 1944, underway, this time with the Alfred M. Lunt, headed for Leyte, again. Three days of tranquillity until the 27th when there were two alerts but nothing developed either time. Entered the gulf, released the Lunt in the anchorage area and proceeded to anchor ourselves. Reported to CTG 77.15 in New Mexico for duty, fueled from the SS Horseshoe and went alongside the SS Cape St. Elias for repair of the SC antenna. The 30th and 31st were so moored.
Jan. 1, 1945, Shifted from the side of the St. Elias to an anchorage for the night. Next morning alongside the SS Horseshoe to top off the bunkers, got underway with Task Unit 77.2.2 proceeding to rendezvous with Task Group 77.2 in Surigao Strait, CTG in the California. Left Surigao, steaming for Cuyo East Pass, a bad place to be, for some.
Jan. 4, 1945. At 1716 an enemy plane crashed into the Ommany Bay and it was a bad one for in just seventeen minutes the Ommany Bay abandoned ship. Several units of the screen stood by to assist and pick up survivors. At 1817 there were several large explosions on the Ommany Bay and at 1855 the Burns was ordered to sink her. We left Cuyo East for Afao Pass, apparently a safer area, and were lying to during transfer of survivors to larger ships, and dealing with other air alerts the rest of the day.
Jan. 5, 1945. Lying to as before during the transfer of survivors which was suspended due to an air alert. One enemy plane crashed into the sea on the port side of the formation. Abbot then proceeded, on orders, to leave the area en-route to the Bataan Peninsula. At 1403 Bataan was sighted and a couple of hours later sighted three enemy planes attacking from the starboard beam. One was shot down but at 1713 an enemy plane crashed into the Louisville. At 1745, five enemy planes were sighted, distant eight miles and closing. At 1748, the Manila Bay, Australia, Arunta, and Stafford were crash-dived. Only one of the five planes had been shot down. Not a very good showing for the gunners, but as we all know, an aircraft is not at all easy to bring down. There were numerous other air-alerts throughout the day and through the night.
Jan. 6, 1945. Formed up with Task Unit 77.4.2. Carrier planes conducting flight operations, bombing and strafing attacks on enemy lines and airfields in the Lingayen Gulf area in preparation for the forth-coming U.S. landings. Refueled from the Wake Island on the 7th and again on the 8th as it was necessary to break away on the previous day due to the presence of enemy aircraft in the area. On the 10th, an aircraft crashed into the sea about 300 yards on the port bow of the Abbot. Some 13 minutes later, the pilot, Ralph Earl Elliot, was taken aboard, put up for the night and sent back to the Savo Island next morning. Transfer was accomplished by breeches buoy, which is a contraption I have not had the pleasure of using, and I don’t think I care to do so. It seems a bit precarious to me, hanging by a thread, so to speak, over a less than friendly, albeit a “Pacific Ocean”.
Jan. 12, 1945. Refueled from the Chepachet and the next day from the Schuykill. Steaming peacefully for a few days, being joined by the Petroff Bay, Marcus Island, Connor, Charrette, Tulagi, Halligan, William Seiverling, Goss, Moore, and Campbell, while the Manila Bay, Shamrock Bay, Wake Island, Edmonds, O’Flaherty, Butler, and Clark were relieved. Abbot formed up with T. U. 77.4.2 and set course to investigate Japanese surface contact as reported by night patrol plane. I find nothing as to the outcome of this operation so will assume nothing developed. Left formation and proceeded toward Mindoro Straits.
Jan. 21, 1945. Entered Mangarin Bay, Mindoro, refueled from the Salamonie, anchored for spell, got some provisions from the Hall and then back out to sea with the Tulagi, Steamer Bay, Hopewell, Campbell, and Goss and departed Mangarin Bay. Joined up with TGs 77.3 and 77.4 and then a welcome sight indeed. The Jenkins came alongside to deliver mail. Mail call was always a special time, nothing quite like getting a letter from home, especially when it contains some good news. It is impossible to over-estimate the value of such a letter, a very real morale booster, except when it was of the “Dear John” variety. There were a few such letters and fortunately only a few because, as you might imagine, these letters were hard to take. Rather devastating, to say the least.
On the 28th, the Denver, Fletcher and Radford left on a mission while the rest steamed on toward Subic Bay. Operations were being conducted some 60 miles west of Subic Bay, the carrier planes were assisting the Army in air coverage of the allied invasion of Subic Bay. The Moore and Goss left on a hunter-killer mission with the Jenkins and La Vallette joining them later. Abbot went alongside the Tulagi to receive officer passengers FFT to Mindoro. At 1900 the Bell and O’Bannon left to investigate a surface contact and upon reaching the scene of contact made underwater sound contact on an object believed to have been an enemy submarine and made several attacks while the formation maneuvered clear of the danger area. The Goss, La Vallette, Denver, Fletcher and Radford rejoined the formation and course was set for Mindoro Straits.
Feb. 1, 1945, entered Mangarin Bay, refueled from the Salomonie, anchored, got underway on the 4th for anti-sub patrol, Relieved on the 6th by the O’Bannon returned to harbor, fuel from the Pecos and once more dropped the hook. Next morning we picked up 632 bags of mail, some Denver personnel, some Marine Corps enlisted and set course at 25 knots to intercept Task Unit 78.7.2. Went alongside the Pollux, then the Stag, and various other ships of the unit. Made all deliveries and transfers and returned to Mangarin Bay.
Fuel from the Pecos, stood out to sea, formed up with Task Unit 77.3.2 en-route to Subic Bay. Screened entrance of cruisers into the bay entered and anchored. An air alert at chow time, but nothing developed. Fuel from the Winooski and apparently a little peace and quiet for a spell. The 632 bags of mail mentioned above was just a drop in the bucket as will be seen later, Abbot was kept busy delivering mail, transporting personnel, equipment and the like, for several weeks during her work in the Philippines. This was of course sandwiched in between her other duties as escort vessel, and etc. It is little wonder that so many miles were racked up on the odometer.
Feb. 13, 1945. Got underway with Task Unit 77.3.2, destination Manila Bay. Arrived at 0920 with the destroyers screening to seaward while the cruisers began bombardment of enemy defenses. Abbot began bombardment of El Fraile Island, shifted fire to Caraboa Island, made a return visit to El Fraile, left Manila Bay and returned to Subic Bay for the night. Back to Manila Bay the next morning, resumed bombardment of Caraboa Island, ceased bombardment and directed to remain in area as fire-support for minesweeping units, if required. Investigated underwater sound contact, which proved negative and resumed former fire-support station. At 1806 proceeded to render assistance to La Vallette, damaged by mine explosion. Lying to near La Vallette and directed at this time to stand by the Radford, also damaged by mine explosion. Transferred medical personnel to Radford and commenced screening Radford en-route to Subic Bay. We sent our boat for our medical personnel, as the Radford entered Subic Bay. Abbot returned to Manila Bay on the 15th and commenced bombardment of Corregidor and Caballo Islands. At 0830 elements of the 8th Army began assault landing in Maravelas Harbor at which time Abbot ceased bombardment and took fire-support station one mile south of Corregidor to deliver counter-battery fire if necessary. At 1636 took Caballo Island under fire to silence the shore batteries firing on the mine-sweepers. Ceased fire at 1650, commenced firing 40mm on south slope of Corregidor, ceased firing, set course to rejoin cruisers, formed up and headed for the night retirement area.
Feb. 16, 1945, returned to fire-support station, in company with the Denver, two miles south of Corregidor. At 0845, paratroopers commenced assault on Corregidor that continued throughout the day. At 0930 elements of the 8th Army began assault landing in San Jose Bay. Abbot began firing on Caballo Island, ceased firing and proceeded to destroy floating mines that had been cut loose by mine-sweepers, a total of seven were so destroyed. Joined the Boise in order to cover the mine-sweepers as they worked in the north channel. Went alongside the Phoenix to receive guard mail and then off to supply illumination of Corregidor throughout the night, as well as standing by with the Claxton to support Motor Torpedo Boats operating in the area. All other ships retired to Subic Bay, or to the retirement area. Left call fire and illumination area to investigate unidentified surface contact that proved to be friendly ships, resumed station and star shell illumination firing. This was the first time I had witnessed a paratrooper assault and it was impressive. Many different colored chutes, color-coded for whatever they were carrying, machinery, weapons, people, etc. I noticed many chutes didn’t deploy, and sadly enough some of them were white, which meant some soldiers were probably lost just from the jump.
Ceased illumination-fire and joined the Boise to render counter-battery fire as required. At 0818 proceeded to investigate objects in the water, as reported by recon plane. Objects were identified as three Japanese, picked up the three who turned out to be members of a Naval Battalion trying to escape from Corregidor. They were aboard for ten minutes and then transferred to the Motor Torpedo Boat PT 372 FFT to the Phoenix and from there to ??? I remember one of them, all smiles and wanting to shake hands when he came aboard, but no one accommodated him. He spoke very good English, having been educated at the University of California, Riverside and, I suppose, wanted to get along as well as possible with his captors. My GQ was Gun 43, very near to where they were brought aboard, so I had a bird’s eye view of the proceedings. They appeared to be trying to drown themselves, as they would go under for a while and then come up fighting for air. Drowning is quite different than the traditional type of suicide, as practiced by the Japanese at that time, much more difficult, and in this incident, unsuccessful. I wonder how many “Tin Cans took prisoners during WWII. We delivered our prisoners to the PT Boat and returned to the call-fire station and commenced firing on designated targets on Corregidor.
Ceased firing and joined the Boise and the Fletcher bound for Subic Bay. Tied up alongside the Bluefield Victory for ammo, to the Winooski for fuel and dropped the hook, but not for long. Underway on the 19th to assist the patrol vessel, the Crosby, which had made a sound contact. The Crosby was relieved by the Day, which made contact, positive enough for some charges to be dropped. The results were negative as the contact proved to be non-sub. Abbot returned to harbor, anchored and stayed through the 23rd, on two hours underway notice.
Underway on the 24th, first for fuel from the Pecos and then with the Denver, Montpelier, Cleveland, Fletcher, Jenkins, and O’Bannon en-route to Mangarin Bay. Entered the harbor, refueled from the Salamonie and anchored through the 26th. Next morning the same group got underway, en-route to Puerto Princessa, Palawan and arrived on the 28th. Abbot proceeded to her assigned fire-support station to render counter-battery fire, if required, in support of the 6th Army landing on Palawan Island. The Task group returned to Subic Bay that evening, Abbot then went on to Mangarin Bay to receive 13 bags of mail and one passenger, an Army Officer, FFT, to Subic Bay. Rejoined the group and was directed to take station ahead of the cruisers, to lead the way into port. It was thought there might be a submarine lurking near the entrance of the harbor, but this was not so. All the ships entered the harbor safely, the Abbot got some fuel from the Winooski, dropped off these three cruisers, picked up the Phoenix and the Boise, plus the Nicholas and Taylor and this group then set course for Mangarin Bay. Entered, fueled from the Salamonie and anchored through the 6th of March.
March 7, 1945. Underway with the TG with the Nicholas and Taylor who had departed earlier with a mines-weeping group, left Mangarin Bay en-route to Zamboanga, Mindanao. Arrived on the 8th and took station some 1500 yards ahead of the Boise. Commenced firing on Caldera Point. Ceased firing and later took departure for night retiring area. Abbot was on station for 23 minutes, fired 19 rounds of 5”38 and then retired. Hardly seems long enough to do anything, but I guess we did what was expected of us. Came back to the same area next day, took up bombardment station and commenced firing on targets in the San Calarian area. Ceased firing and proceeded to fire-support station to provide close support for mine-sweepers, started firing on probable trenches in Sinonog area. Fired on San Mateo Point and dispatched motor whale boat to assist Boise spotter plane that had run out of gas and was dead in the water. The motor whale-boat towed the spotter plane to the Boise and then returned to ship.
Standing by to render fire-support to Warrego which was on a hydrographic survey mission. Resumed former station, and began firing on targets on San Mateo and Gavilon Points, as well as on Wolfe Field. Began 40mm fire on assault beach area, shifted fire to an enemy plane on the beach, and after the plane was destroyed shifted to counter-battery fire on gun position on Gavilan Point. Destroyed that pill box and resumed 40mm fire until the scheduled bombardment was completed, formed up with Task Group 74.3, plus the Rocky Mount and set course for the night retirement area.
March 10, 1945. We returned to Basilan Strait and took up bombardment station, fired on targets in the Galivan Point area until 0900 when landing craft began approaching the beach with assault troops of the 41st Infantry Division, the first wave landing at 0915. Commenced interdiction firing on roads leading to the landing beaches, took call-fire station and fired on enemy field piece, and then on another field piece was attended to. It was then time for night retirement. Returned to the area next day with a few additional ships, the Rocky Mount, Phillip, and Sauffley and the Abbot went to her fire-support station. We decided it was time to get some ammo and went alongside the LST 1026 and then returned to the fire-support station. Apparently no support was needed at this time so the Abbot set course, at 25 knots, to take enemy barges under-fire. The barges were in the Isabella vicinity, and with the Boise spotter plane assisting. Fire was begun, the barges were destroyed and the Task Group, plus the McCalla headed for the retirement area.
On the 12th the group returned to Basilan but since no fire was required the group then set course for Mangarin Bay, arriving that evening. Abbot refueled from the Caribou and in a few hours the unit was on the way to Subic Bay. Entered Subic, refueled from the Andrew Doria and a bit later had to return to discharge the fuel, it was contaminated. Got some clean fuel and went on to the anchorage and had a few days rest through the 23rd.
March 24, 1945. The Nicholas, O’Bannon, Taylor, Fletcher, Jenkins, Abbot, Boise, Phoenix, and HMAS Hobart formed up and set course for Talisay, Cebu Island. Later that afternoon the Boise, Fletcher and Jenkins left formation as directed. The Warramunga brought some mail that was duly delivered and the Abbot, Hobart and Taylor formed fire-support unit “Baker” and began firing on Talisay. Ceased fire as units of the 132nd and 182nd Regiments, U.S. Army commenced amphibious assault on Talisay. Left fire-support station and began screening to seaward of Hobart. Abbot was released from TG74.3 and ordered to report to CTG 78.2 in the Spencer for further assignment. Further directed to report to CTU 78.2.8 in the Flusser for duty. Abbot was assigned to TU 78.2.15, which wound up being the Abbot, Kephart, 4 LSMs, and 2 LCIs. This group left Bohol Strait en-route to San Pedro Bay. Along the way the unit was dissolved with the Abbot and the LCIs continuing on to San Pedro, the others went elsewhere. Abbot refueled from the Gazelle and anchored in the vicinity of the Medusa, probably for some repair, supplies of some sort, the log just didn’t say.
April 1, 1945. This begins a period of time in which the Abbot was involved in the delivery of many, a great many, bags of mail, as well as transportation of scores of military personnel, all branches. Running up and down the Philippines from one end to the other, or so it seemed. I counted over 2800 bags of mail that were handled by the Abbot crew and at least 71 members of the armed forces given a lift from here to there. This was, of course, not done in a day or two, in fact this duty assignment consumed 22 days with several trips to the fuel Depots, Gazelle and Mobilube, and a side trip to the Armador for a little ammo. When this duty was completed, the Abbot reported to CTF 78 in the Henry T. Allen for further assignment.
Underway on the 26th for Cebu City, moored alongside the Thatcher for a brief spell. Thatcher soon upped anchor and went elsewhere leaving Abbot to herself for the remainder of the month. I don’t see any mention of the “material upkeep”, but it must be in here somewhere. Not very often was an opportunity for such as this let slip by, and for good reason. To stay out of mischief one must keep busy, and the old girl needed to look her best at all times.
Must be time for a little story so here goes. Do you remember how the residents would get in their little boats, come out to the ship and dive for coins? Quite a sight and they certainly were good at it. I remember, in particular, one such time when a young girl came out, and if there had been some way to smuggle her on board, I would have done it. She was a real cutie, but as you well know the enlisted were not allowed any such privileges. We sure were mistreated, but for our own good, right?
May 1, 1945 and we were still anchored in Cebu Harbor as standby fire-support ship for the Americal Division which was engaged in occupying Cebu Island. Got underway on the 2nd en-route to Tobogan on a bombardment mission. Commenced bombardment on the 3rd, fired on a Japanese concentration area, utilizing a spotter plane. Shifted fire from Tobogan to Nailon Point where the Japanese had been using native housing for quarters. Took new station northeast of Libertad shifted fire to that area. Stood down the coast at slow speed, firing at targets of opportunity. Returned to Cebu City and anchored through the 5th.
May 6, 1945. En-route to Ilihan Village for shore bombardment and fire-support. An Army spotter plane was being utilized and Abbot began firing on a road junction near the village of Ilihan. Shifted fire to some houses for a while and then ceased firing as the spotter plane left the area. Bombardment completed and the Abbot returned to Cebu City and to anchor. En-route to Ormac Bay, Leyte, on the 8th. Reported to CTG 78.3 in the Ingham for duty and went to anchor while waiting for further assignment.
May 9, 1945 and it was on the move once again, this time with the Fraser, Meade and Ingham, en-route to Macajalar Bay, Mindanao, commander of CTG 78.3 was Rear Admiral A. D. Struble. Took station ahead of formation to clear shoal water. Some-mine-sweepers moved in on the 10th to sweep the bay, Abbot entered and took fire-support station and began firing on targets of opportunity in the Lapasan, Gura and Umalog areas. Ceased fire about an hour later when units of the 108th Regimental Combat Team landed on the beaches in the Agasan area. Took station near the beaches to render counter-battery-fire if required. Later Abbot took over anti-sub patrolling station, stopped all engines, lying to awaiting the sortie of the Task Group. Set course for the night retirement area.
There was no bombardment scheduled for the 11th so we didn’t return to Macajalar Bay until the 12th. No fire was required that day, nor on the next, so the Task Group formed up with some LSTs, LSMs and one lone FS, en-route to San Pedro Bay, arriving on the 15th, re-fueled from the Mobilube, moored to the SS Lymen Stewart for provisions. Got underway on the 16th for Guinan, Samar Island. Spent the night there and next morning we returned to San Pedro Bay, received some diesel fuel from the Ibex, regular fuel from the SS Vera Cruz and anchored off Tolosa through the 20th.
May 21, 1945 Back to Macajalar Bay where we went alongside the Brazier and transferred fuel to said ship and then we began provisioning various ships in the harbor.
Underway for San Pedro Bay, more fuel from the Mobilube, and headed for Puerto Princessa, Palawan. Reported to CTU 78.3.2 for duty and was sent to Zamboanga, Mindanao as escort for 5 LSMs. Arrived on the 26th, the LSMs off loaded, reformed and set course for Polloc Harbor. Moored to the Edward A. Howard to transfer ammo then to the LST 1026 to transfer provisions. On to Malabang to rejoin the LSMs and headed for Zamboanga, LSMs off loaded again and course was set for S. P. Bay. Fuel from the Abarenda, more provisions from the SS Lymen Stewart, on to Tolosa with instructions to report to the ammunition anchorage. Unable to obtain ammo from the SS Twin Falls Victory, shifted to the SS Davidson Victory. Back to Tolosa, reported to ComServRon 10 in the Ocelot for tender availability.
June 1, 1945 under-going tender care from the Piedmont, more ammo, this time from the Ranier, fuel from the Gemsbok and reported to Com3rdFlt for duty. Anchored off Mantuaca Point, Samar and directed to report to CTF 38 for duty. Anchored till the 18th.
June 18, 1945. The Abbot, sea-going taxi extra-ordinary, was once again open for business. For the next week or so Abbot was kept busy receiving and transferring Filipino soldiers, on leave, to and from their respective homes. There were 20 or so such individuals, some of them had been prisoners of the Japanese, and this was an opportunity for them to visit their folks for a few days. We were only too happy to perform such a service, no doubt thinking how grateful we would have been, had the circumstance been reversed.
Long after this episode, I was paying a call to my doctor, wearing my Abbot hat of course, and a fellow patient wondered if the hat represented a real ship. We had a brief conversation and he said he had been a paratrooper and had helped liberate a POW Camp on one of the Philippine Islands. Imagination runs rampant at times for my first thought was “wouldn’t it be something if the POWs we had helped get home were some that this ex-trooper had helped liberate”? This idea may be far fetched, but who knows, stranger things have happened.
More mundane activities during this period including getting fuel from the Signal, pumped fuel to the Neuendorf, ammo from the Fomalhaut, fuel from the Gazelle and then joined up with TG 38.3 for short while as plane guard. More passengers came on board on the 24th, they were Richard O’Malley (The Associated Press), Ernest Hoberect (United Press), and George E. Jones (The New York Times), war correspondents all, gathering news about the Filipino Party. These gentlemen were aboard till the 28th, the day we returned to S.P. Bay at which time they were transferred to the Shangri-La, Abbot moored alongside the Black and June ended in this fashion.
July 1, 1945. Operating in accordance with CTG 38.3, Rear Admiral G. F. Bogan in the Randolph. Formed up with TU 38.3.2 consisting of the Alabama, CruDiv 17 and DesRon 48, less Kidd plus Heerman. CTU Rear Admiral J. C. Jones in the Pasadena.
Alabama, Bullard and Heerman departed for other waters, must have escorted the Alabama to another unit for the two destroyers returned later in the day. Formed a column in natural order, DesDiv 95 in van of cruisers, DesDiv 96 to the rear. Commenced firing on towed radar reflection sled ceased firing and resumed normal cruising disposition. Next day the 2nd, Task Force 35 was formed, CruDivs 17 and18, less the Duluth, plus the Oklahoma. Later formed Task Unit 34.8.1 with the South Dakota, Massachusetts, Indiana, Quincy and DesRon 48 less Kidd plus Heerman. The Southerland, Lind and Waldron joined the formation just in time for the Southerland and Waldron to leave on a search for a downed Randolph plane. Abbot refueled from the Massachusetts, transferred some mail and freight between ships and then proceeded to picket station some 20 miles from the formation center.
Rejoined the screen next day, just in time to see a Monterey plane make a water landing. Nine minutes later we plucked the pilot out of the water and he probably returned to his ship while we were standing by to render assistance, if needed, as the Monterey crew was dousing the fire that had broken out in the hanger deck. The fire lasted only 48 minutes, but even that is too long. Abbot refueled from the Alabama and proceeded to her picket station.
July 7, 1945 left the picket station and formed up with the Erben, Southerland and Walker and proceeded to the Tom-Cat station, about 50 miles from the center of the formation. Returned to the formation, refueled from the Caney and greeted some new arrivals. The North Carolina, Borie, John W. Weeks and the Hank showed up. Abbot returned to the picket station.
July 10, 1945 was a red-letter day, long anticipated and finally had arrived. The final assault on the Japanese mainland, the home islands, was to begin on this day. At 0421 the carrier aircraft commenced air strikes on the Tokyo Plains area from a launch point 180 miles southeast of Tokyo. There was a report of enemy aircraft in the area but an attack did not develop. There were no strikes on the 11th and Abbot took advantage of the lull in order to get some fuel from the Alabama. Also had time to destroy a floating mine with 40mm fire and otherwise enjoyed a relatively quiet day.
The 12th and 13th were also uneventful almost, in that there was a fuel stop alongside the Nantahala, an underwater sound contact to be investigated, it proved to be false, mail to be delivered to various ships and another passenger came aboard for a few days. This was Jean Zenier (Navy Photographer) aboard for temporary duty. I have no idea what pictures were taken, so, there will be no comment. The air-strikes, scheduled for the 13th, were canceled due to inclement weather and with nothing better to do Abbot topped off the bunkers with a little fuel from the Alabama. I should ask someone how much fuel those big boys carried, it must have been a lot. We tapped into it quite often, as did others.
July 14, 1945, The air strikes were resumed on this day with Northern Honshu and Hokkaido being the targets. DesRon 48 joined bombardment group A that consisted of the South Dakota, Massachusetts, Indiana, Chicago and Quincy and headed for an area off Kamaishu, Honshu. Formed bombardment disposition and began firing on targets in the port of Kamaishu. DesDiv 96 left the formation to sink enemy surface craft that had been sighted to the northward. Bombardment completed retirement was to the east, at flank speed, for the night. Additional air strikes were delivered to the Honshu and Hokkaido targets on the 15th.
July 16th, 1945. Rendezvoused with the Oiler Group, Abbot getting fuel from the Platte, and then delivered mail to the formation. Nothing said as to where this mail came from, probably the Platte, but anyway, we delivered it. Another passenger, Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd came aboard from the Essex and was aboard some 28 minutes before being transferred to the Alabama. The Navy Photographer also left at this time, going to the Iowa. I wonder how our hospitality was rated, compared to the big boys? I am sure we were given four stars for our home-like coziness.
More air strikes on the 17th on selected targets in the Tokyo and Yokohama areas. Abbot refueled from the North Carolina, all air strikes were recovered and night retirement was in order. Strikes on the 18th were delayed, due to bad weather, but some were effected later in the day. Abbot, Erben, Hale, and Bullard proceeded to a Tom-Cat station, Abbot later going to a picket station and then returning to the formation.
On the 19th someone spotted a mine floating around and Abbot was sent out to destroy same. Returned to the formation in time to pick up and deliver some mail. Next day made rendezvous with the replenishment group, fuel from the Merrimack and then began picking up pilots from CVs for delivery to Escort Carriers. A rotation of pilots, and Abbot was the means of transfer. Finished this duty and went alongside the Aldebaran for provisions. More pilots and freight to be transferred, fuel from the Aucilla, a little ammo from the Lassen, and a few spare parts from the North Carolina. It’s hard to imagine so much and so varied activity on the high seas, but it must have happened and I must confess, a great deal of this has left my memory bank.
July 24, 1945 and more strikes on the Kure, Northern Honshu, Shikoku, and Southwestern Honshu areas. CAP shot down an enemy aircraft, and later that afternoon we picked up the crew of a downed TBF. CruDiv 17 left for scheduled anti-shipping strike, Abbot got some fuel from the Ticonderoga and at this time the TBF crew was returned to their ship. There were additional strikes on the same targets the next day and five enemy aircraft were shot down by CAP. All air strikes were recovered safely.
July 26 and 27 were quiet as far as the carriers were concerned, no strikes had been scheduled, so it meant a lull of sorts. Abbot refueled from the Escambia, got some ammo from the Shasta, and provisions from the Lassen. Destroyed a mine, more fuel from the Cache, passed mail and rather enjoyed the peace and quiet. There were air strikes on Naval shipping at Kure and at airfields in northern Honshu, Shikoku, and southwestern Honshu areas. A Japanese “Jill” was shot down by CAP, all strikes recovered in time for retirement to the southwest.
July 29, 1945. Fuel from the Ticonderoga and DesRon 48 less Kidd plus Heerman proceeded to join bombardment group Able, consisting of the Quincy, St. Paul, Boston, Chicago, South Dakota, Indiana, and Massachusetts on course for Hamamatsu, Honshu.
Later in the day we were joined by the British group, HMS King George V, Urania, Ulysses, and Undine and at 0019 on the 30th, my 20th birthday anniversary, the heavies began bombardment on selected targets in the city of Hamamatsu. What a way to celebrate a birthday. Several unidentified surface targets were taken under fire by the formation with undetermined results. At 0127, scheduled bombardment completed, retired to the southward, at flank speed.
July 31, 1945. More air strikes targets not identified, and several of the ships, the Weeks, Hank, Borie, Benner, Walker, Chauncey and Stemble rejoined the formation and we headed for rendezvous with the replenishment group. Abbot refueled from the Winnebago and during this time, Lt. Walter R. Baranger transferred to the Winnebago, FFT to the U.S. of A. for further assignment.
The Abbot would soon be on her way back home, due to the casualty to the starboard screw, but no way of predicting that at this time. We were involved in the transfer of officer personnel between ships and then went to a picket station. Soon relieved of this duty due to a casualty to the SG Radar, that more or less negates a ship’s effectiveness on picket duty, returned to the formation and assumed plane guard duty. The replenishment group returned the next day, went alongside the Nantahala for fuel, gathered some freight from somewhere and delivered it to whomever.
Returned to the screen for a brief time and then on to picket station, back to the screen on the same day and then went alongside the Alabama to exchange Radar transformer just before returning to the picket station. Constantly on the move, so its little wonder the Abbot racked up so many miles in between the commissioning and de-commissioning. Not many dull moments, however.
August 7, 1945. The Tappahannock had some extra fuel, which we needed in order to deliver some mail as well as some freight and on to investigate an object in the water. This turned out to be a balloon that was low on the water, and after approaching close enough we could see that the under-carriage was still attached, and partially submerged. No indication as to anyone’s assessment as to where the balloon had come from, or even to whom it had belonged. It was decided that the best course of action was to destroy the balloon, and one round of 40mm fire did the trick. Apparently the balloon had been filled with an inflammable gas for it burned quite readily.
August 8, 1945. At 0005, Task Group 35.4, CruDiv 17 and DesRon 48 less Kidd, formed up and proceeded to investigate surface targets some 63 miles distant. While the group was orienting, at 32 knots, the starboard screw was lost and Abbot was ordered to rejoin Task Group 38.3. As memory serves I had the 12-4 watch on Gun 45 and was on the way to the mess hall for a pot of coffee. When the shaft parted company with the rest of the ship, as you might well imagine, there was a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on. As before mentioned, the loss of lubricant to the starboard shaft, and the problem with the starboard shaft spring bearing may well have precipitated this casualty of the shaft breaking in two. Whether or not this is the case, the loss of the screw put an end to Abbot’s participation in the rest of the war. This was somewhat disappointing for I would have preferred staying until the end, with maybe an invitation to join the ceremonies in Tokyo Bay. It just wasn’t meant to be, and as all things are supposed to turn out for the best, accept it and go on.
It turned out to be a slow day for the TG as all air strikes were canceled, due to weather conditions. On the other hand, another day of reading or writing letters, I wonder how many times each letter was re-read, or simply lounging around. A little extra shut-eye, now and then, was greatly appreciated. August 9, 1945 was a busy day as DesRon 48, less the Kidd and the Abbot, left for scheduled bombardment, air strikes were launched on northern Honshu and DesDiv 124 out on Tom Cat reported being under enemy attack. The Borie was badly damaged by a suicide attack and the Abbot, along with the Lind were sent to assist. After picking up the Alabama medical personnel, transferred by the Ault, the Abbot and Lind proceeded to the Tom Cat station with the Lind replacing the Borie on station. It had since been decided to keep the casualties on board the Borie, rather than transferring them to the Abbot as at first thought so the Alabama medical personnel, along with those from the Abbot, were transferred to the Borie. Abbot and Borie then proceeded to rendezvous with Task Unit 30.8.1, and hopefully with the hospital ship “Rescue”. Rendezvous was made but the Rescue was not present. The Abbot and the Borie were joined by the Lardner and this unit proceeded to the estimated position of the Rescue.
At 1625 on the 10th the Borie commenced burial services, completing at 1716, and having failed to locate the hospital ship at the estimated position, began a search of the area. At 2149 the Rescue was sighted and in little more than one hour the casualties were being transferred. I believe it was the Lardner that first sighted the Rescue and it always seemed a bit strange seeing a ship so well lit up in the middle of the ocean. I may be in error, but as far as I know, none of the hospital ships were attacked during the war. Apparently a few of the niceties were observed.
August 11, 1945. Went alongside the Borie to receive our medical personnel and this unit then set course for Saipan. Changed course to rejoin the Task Group due to the presence of a typhoon forming to the south, safety in numbers, someone to pluck you out of the water in case your ship was scuttled. I read nothing about this typhoon but we did destroy another mine along the way to the group. Formed up with an oiler group, fuel from the Ashtabula and once again set our eyes toward Saipan. Arrived there on the 17th and reported to ComServDiv 103 in the Luzon for disposition. We moored alongside the Borie that was alongside the Burias in Tanapag Harbor until the 19th, entered dry dock for inspection of the starboard shaft by personnel of ComServDiv and then back to moorage as before.
August 22, 1945. With the end of hostilities, Japan had surrendered on the 14th, we received notice of this on the 15th, missing one screw, Abbot was ordered to return home. I do not believe there were any objections. A little fuel from the Raccoon and we got underway for Pearl Harbor, steaming independently.
Routine from there on with the exception of a little A/A when a couple of planes came out of Eniwetok with towed sleeves. Must have had some surplus ammo on hand, or maybe this was the easiest way to off-load, fire away as opposed to hauling away. On the 31st Abbot entered Pearl for the last time, at least with this sailor on board, moored alongside the Niblack which was tied up to the Ericssen. These were more-or-less casual contacts but according to the log, Abbot made contact of sorts with well over 400 vessels during this cruise. Seems like a lot but as mentioned, the log bears me out.
This stopover in Pearl was just that a stopover as we steamed out of port the next morning for Puget Sound, Washington, and home. Cleared harbor and set course at full speed, a whopping 16.4 knots on the port engine. Steaming independently with running lights dimmed. Mustered crew on station, and happily there were no absentees. Wonder why. Made daily inspection of magazines and smokeless powder samples, all normal. A partially submerged object was sighted on the starboard beam. There is nothing to indicate what this was, maybe a figment of someone’s imagination, and after searching for a spell and finding nothing, it was decided to move on.
Sept. 4, 1945. Steaming as before and with the crew getting a bit restless, or perhaps an opportunity to get in a little more training, the skipper decide to hold a few drills. Manned battle stations for a collision drill then a fire drill in the steering room. Poured water on the fire secured from fire drill and tried our hand at abandon ship drill. Shifted gears and went right into a fire and rescue drill. Finally, secured from all drills after a total of just 49 minutes had elapsed. An efficient bunch of swabbies, wouldn’t you say?
Sep. 7, 1945. Thinking back on this time, I can recall how the coast-line appeared, at least to me. There didn’t seem to be a lot of homes, not visible anyway, but the ones that were seen looked very nice. Nostalgia set in and I don’t know about the rest of you but I know I heaved a big sigh and thought, home at last. The mountain range of northern Washington came into view, 55 miles distant, and a couple of hours later Tatoosh Island put in its appearance. We entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca and steamed on toward the Bremerton Navy Yard, and of course, Seattle, otherwise known as the Emerald City. We had heard a great deal about this city, a fine liberty town and everyone wanted to find out for themselves, if what we had heard was true. It was true indeed.
Sept. 8, 1945, At 0626 Abbot was moored to the Naval Magazine Pier, Indian Head, and off loaded all depth charges. Later lying to off Restoration Point to transfer all officer passengers, who they were and where they came from I cannot say. It is still a mystery to me as to where all the people slept, while in transport, although a friend gave me a clue just the other day. He called it hot bunking which is a term meaning that while a person is on watch, some one else may use the empty bunk. Makes sense, now that I think of it, and does clear up this long-standing mystery of mine. Everyone else probably knew all about this and wonders how I could have not known.
Next stop was the Naval Torpedo Station Pier to get rid of the torpedoes, ammunition to the YF 369 and then to Pier 6, Puget Sound Navy Yard Bremerton, WA. I believe I read in the DesRon 48 Bulletin that someone from the Stemble thinks they were away from the States the longest. However, according to my calculations the Abbot was away for five days longer, having steamed out of San Diego on Sept. 28, 1943 and into Puget Sound Sept. 8, 1945. I don’t know about the Erben, Kimberly and the Bunker Hill, the ships in our little group that left San Diego with us, but I am sure our time away from home was longer than that of the Stemble. No biggee, but something I wanted to put on paper, just for the record.
Abbot was moved into dry dock by tugs, on the 12th and this was to be her berth for several weeks, and liberty began almost immediately. The wild ones were turned loose upon an unsuspecting public, yeah, right, which fully expected everyone to act in a sane and orderly manner while visiting their fair city. This, of course, did not happen, except from the viewpoint of the Abboteers. It was a fun time, wasn’t it?
You may get tired of reading this but I have to include all theses things because they are, after all, a part of what I am attempting to do, write a bit of the history of the Abbot as well as my own part in that history. The Abbot and I got together on April 23, 1943 and it was a close relationship up until October 17, 1945. As in everything dealing with life, there were some good days and some not so good. Many things have been forgotten, and I suppose, probably just as well. For starters, here are some of the things, some of the incidents that I recall.
Do you remember the time when the skippers of the PT Boats offered to transport the crew to Manila for some fun time? I do, and I also remember that I was, once again, on the wrong side of the liberty schedule. The first half went to Manila and raised such a stench that the other half was denied the opportunity to make the trip. It certainly would have been nice to take my first, and only, ride on a PT Boat.
While on the Manila thing, do you recall how the bay looked when we first entered. There were so many sunken ships as to seriously impede navigation, were it not for the faithful and efficient “Ping Jockeys”, they were a blessing indeed, don’t you agree? Manila Bay was a real mess and it would be interesting to know how many of the ships were sunk by the Allied Forces, as opposed to the number that were scuttled by the Japanese.
The Skipper came by one day to inspect the cutout cam on number three mount. He declared it to be functioning properly, but I beg to differ. My GQ was gun 43, quite close to #3 mount and one day the concussion was so great it ripped one of my pant legs. This may be why the cutout was inspected, I don’t know, but I do know it was very noisy in that area.
Some may be interested in the problems encountered by the officers as they tried to cope with a somewhat rebellious crew, and at the same time maintain the Abbot in the performance of her duty. It must have been stressful, and at the same time, quite humorous, as might be indicated by the following incidents. There were many sentenced to solitary confinement, many given five days on bread and water, reductions in rate, fines and the like. One conviction was for “malicious conversion, which turns out to be availing ones-self of a vehicle without the owner’s consent and going for a “joy ride”. I like that one and when I found it in the log, made a copy and sent it to the perpetrator.
All was not fun and games, at times it was hazardous, as evidenced below. A mate received burns due to a mishap in gun # 4, another had the tips of some toes pinched off inside gun #3. Another fell down a ladder that resulted in bruises and lacerations. On the beach one day, in a friendly game of softball, this report to the medical department ‘hit in the face with a softball bat, not due to mischief”. Some one else was tossed onto some lava rock by a large wave resulting in lacerations. Painful at the time, but amusing.
Earlier I had posed the question, “how many Tin Cans had captured POWs and have since come across this entry, the Phoenix, Nicholas, Edmunds, and Coghlan proceeded to recover a speedboat with three Japanese men there-in. I had thought to make a comparison but the circumstances were much different. The three picked up by the Abbot were much less able to do any mischief, swimming as they were, while the three in the speedboat could have been carrying explosives with the capability of doing a lot of damage, maybe even sinking one of the capturing vessels. Better too much than too little
On a lighter note, there was the time we went alongside a merchant ship for some groceries, it was after working hours and none of the crew wanted to operate the loading equipment for us. I have talked with another mate about this incident and he said our skipper fired a round across the fantail of the Merchant ship, and we received our rations soon after. I can’t say I remember the firing episode, but on the other hand, there seem to be many things I have forgotten.
This same guy told me of an incident that does ring a bell, giving credence to the story dealing with the merchant ship. I had smuggled a carton of cigarettes ashore in the Philippines, traded them for a bottle of native hooch and some time later I was hauled back to the ship, in the Captain’s Gig, no less. The next three days I was less than useless as all I could do was sit around and moan, partly as a result of the vile tasting liquid the Pharmacist Mate kept pouring down my throat in an attempt to coax something up and out. It seems a small hole had been drilled in the bottom of the bottle, some poison inserted there in, the hole resealed and the whole mess left for me to get my hands on. Rather despicable behavior, don’t you agree? I can’t verify the part about the poison, but I was a sick puppy for a while.
Once, while in Hawaii, we were sent on a training mission to a little beach I know not where, to get some training on a twin mount 20mm. It must have been rejected, at that time, for I don’t know of any being installed aboard any of the ships. It was too hard to handle, to keep on track, or at least that is how I remember it. It was a beautiful little beach however, as swimming was superb, with one drawback, the coral was super sharp My feet took a beating but it would be nice to see that little beach once again.
September, 1944. Lt. K. W. Miller, first officer, Division I, deck force, was detached, FFT for further assignment. Hated to see him go for he was a good officer, tough but fair.
The kind of leader that was needed under those conditions and this is not to imply that the other officers were lacking in leadership qualities. However, there were one or two that were a little on the suspect side.
Refueling at sea was a very interesting event, especially when the sea was on the rough side, which it often was. A little too much of a roll and the two vessels could be bumping each other, and possible damage was to be expected on such an occasion. Nothing of the sort with the Abbot, but it was something to be concerned about. This item in the log, indicating that the Abbot went on the port side of the Alabama, while the Black was on the starboard side. This was off the Japanese mainland so it was best to take as little time as possible for refueling, a two for the price of one idea.
Moored to a pier, somewhere in the Philippines and John Orletsky had security on the pier. Just down the pier from the Abbot was a French ship, I believe it was a cruiser and I don’t have its name, but that is not what this story is about. When John was relieved from security duty and reported aboard, it was noted that he was a bit unsteady on his feet. Turns out he had been invited aboard the French ship, got thirsty, and drank from the scuttlebutt. It is the rumor that instead of water, the French ships dispense wine, as the liquid of choice, for the crew. I believe this was John’s choice as well, and his excuse for his condition. A little sleep and he was as good as before.
Moored starboard side to the Cape St. Elias,
With six manila lines, she’s moored right beside us;
Our berth’s 95, or so it seems’
On the Bay of San Pedro, Leyte Gulf, Philippines;
The ship is darkened, material Baker,
Readiness is two, no surprise can o’ertake us;
Boiler number two, we’re using it now’
For light, and heat, and auxiliary power;
Now, our bearings, I’ll give ‘em to you,
Mariquidaquit Island’s 167 & ½ true;
The second, I’ll tell you, so you will know,
129 true, bears the isle of Raso;
The third I’ll give you, before I weaken,
330 degrees true is Panubulu Beacon;
Other ships are here from the Allied Fleet,
If you don’t believe it, look out and see it;
SOPA in administration is CTF 75,
He’s ComPhilSeaFron, as sure as you’re alive;
Forty Four is all gone, and Forty Five is here,
To 300 jolly shipmates “A Happy New Year”.
F. W. Stevenson
Lt. (JG) USN
I’m not too sure of my joviality at that time for it was shortly after we saw our “Homeward Bound Pennant” streaming from the mast of another “Can” headed for the States. However, I can and do appreciate the thought, as well as the poem.
There was the time when one of the crew decided he needed another ration of meat, to sustain him, throughout the coming night watch. He reached for some, the cook serving the meat put the serving fork tines into the would be thief’s hand, and things got a little hectic at that point, no pun intended. The two wound up in a boxing match, a few days later, with the cook coming out on the receiving end of a good pummeling. The names of these two gladiators escapes me at this writing, but an interesting story non-the-less.
While returning to the ship one evening, just before dark, myself, and I believe it was C. F. Ryan were strolling along, not in any particular hurry, until we heard these words from one of the soldiers manning a check point alongside the road. He said, “You guys had better get off the road because anything moving after dark gets a bullet, and any questions asked afterwards. Needless to say, our rate of travel quickly accelerated from that moment on. I still move rather slowly, but on occasion a bit faster.
Another time C. F. Ryan asked me to go ashore with him in order to check out the town of Tacloban. I wondered how we would do so as liberty was prohibited at that time. He said, “I have a couple of passes, signed by the Exec”, no less. So we went to town, had a fine time but found it difficult getting back to the Abbot. Finally found someone with a little boat willing to help us, however, he refused to go close aboard the Abbot for fear of being shot by the sentry. Dropped us off some distance from the ship making it necessary for us to swim for it. I believe I have mentioned how well, or rather how poorly I can swim, so it was a struggle. As you can tell, I made it, and it was with a sigh of relief when I slipped an arm over the screw guard and hauled myself up on deck.
Going over the notes I made I see that our first skipper, Chester Carroll was relieved of duty in August, ’43, the second, Marshall E. Dornin, was relieved of duty in August of ’44. The war was over in August of ’45 or maybe the third skipper, Francis W. Ingling might have been relieved by someone else. August, at least with the Abbot, appeared to be a popular month, or maybe one year was enough as skipper of a “Can”.
Remember the time we gave away most of our food, we were not supposed to participate in the nest operation, gave all our surplus food to the needy and then, a change of plans. We did go along, minus said provisions, and our rations for the next several days left something to be desired. Beans three times a day, raw sugar, and I guess the flour was maybe the worst. I remember the cinnamon rolls needed a few things removed, prior to the eating, little black things. Then someone explained that these little black things were a source of protein, had been well cooked, so they presented no problem. I do not recall anyone giving away his cinnamon rolls, so this rational must have been accepted.
The Abbot was involved in another collision, this one while she was docked. The Ammen, while getting underway, collided with the splinter shield on Gun 44 causing damage to the gun, as well as the ready rack. Not a lot of damage although I believe some 40mm clips were tossed overboard.
The pilot off the Monterey that was rescued by the Abbot crew was Lt. (JG) R. E. Schwendemen and the reason I bring this up is because of an article in the Kidd Bulletin to the effect that George Bush had been a Navy pilot, crashed into the sea, and was rescued by a destroyer. He later became president so I thought, maybe a descendent of Lt. Schwendemen might become president someday and will have the Abbot crew to thank for saving his/her ancestor. Who knows?
The weather, as everyone is aware, can be, and often is, quite unpredictable. A case in point might be the night yours truly was on the helm, a storm blew up and the Abbot was diverted off course by about 20 degrees or so. It was more than the OD"> could stand, so in a rather loud voice he ordered me to return to course immediately. Not very easy to come by, immediately, however, a supreme effort was put forth and soon we were back on line. No harm, no foul, just a few frayed nerves. I’m sure you guys remember such times when the seas were crashing over the bridge, decks awash and a little hazardous trying to navigate fore and aft. Well, this was one of those times and I was more than a little glad when the next helmsman took over and I could go below for some sack time.
How about the time an Albatross took up residence on the Radar antenna, spent the night spinning around and around and flew off the next morning as though all had been routine. It may well have been but I have often wondered how far he went before going into a tailspin, followed by a crash landing into the ocean. On the other hand, he has a built in floatation device, so I am sure he made out OK.
Writing about the Albatross going for a swim brings to mind the time when just about the entire crew took to the water. We were at anchor, I know not where, but it was a pleasant enough place and all so inclined were given the OK for a swim. It appeared to be a lot of fun, guys were jumping in from almost every vantage point, even from the yardarm. This was finally halted, too dangerous, so the diving was restricted to the main deck. Then, along came the Jellyfish and you never saw such a mad scramble to get back aboard the ship. It was almost as hilarious as when some of the boys were trying to outrun the police, that night in Panama. This was one time I didn’t regret my in-ability to swim. I don’t exactly know how much damage a Jellyfish can do, but I have no burning desire to find out. There were some good times, as well as some not so good.
I mentioned before about giving our surplus to some other ships and the shortage this created, well, there was another time when a commodity was of short supply. Canned milk, an item much desired in the officer’s mess, to make the coffee a bit more palatable. A call was put out for all canned milk to be turned in and when the response wasn’t satisfactory. The next step was confiscation, and so ordered. The Sound gang had other ideas and their supply of this valuable commodity was placed in sack and hung behind the Sound Stack. Rather ingenious, wouldn’t you agree? Anyway, the sound gang had milk for their coffee, to go along with the hot bread, butter, and jam. Sure was tasty eating, and doubly so having frustrating the powers that be, or that were.
Oct.20, 1944. The log says we entered Surigao Strait at 0430 and sighted Leyte Island at 0715. What I remember is how close the islands on either side looked as we steamed along. The thought came that had there been any shore batteries around we could have been in big trouble. There apparently weren’t any, or something, for no opposition came from that quarter. Just eerie silence, and darkness, until a little later when things became rather hectic. Abbot spent several months in the Philippines and for her efforts was awarded the Liberation Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation from the Filipino Government.
One night the Abbot went to investigate a surface Radar contact, and upon arrival at the scene, the object was illuminated with a 36” searchlight. It was a native sailboat, all alone, and I have often wondered what went through the mind of the occupant. He probably lost some enamel from the chattering of his teeth, I’m sure I would have.
Those of you who were privileged enough to have been on KP can appreciate the frustration experienced trying to keep food on the tables during foul weather. Reaching for a morsel on your own tray, and instead, stabbing something on a tray that had slid over in front of you. Or, cleaning the deck, several times, when a tray had made it all the way off the table, what a mess.
The pitching and rolling of above brings to mind the time, the only time, I was hit with the malady known as sea-sickness. It was when we had entered the South China Sea, which meant I had been aboard ship about a year and a half and should have been beyond that sort of foolishness. I wasn’t, and it got to me. One of my buddies tried to cheer me up, with the following statement, “ I once saw a guy who looked like you do, he died”. I can’t say it did much to cheer me up, or, for that matter, to make me feel any the worse, I was beyond caring at that point in time.
I have seen movies, newsreels and the like showing USO shows, with performances by such people as Bob Hope and others, but we of the Abbot were not so blessed. However, I do recall one show, probably while we were in Pearl Harbor, when a group of Samoans came to entertain us. It was a good show, full of excitement, laughter and the like. One performance, in particular, captured my attention. This rather tall girl was swinging a very large sword around her body, between her legs, over her head, and so forth. It was most impressive, and I have often wondered how many times there was a slip of some sort, how many scars she might have had, here and there.
Something else that impressed me was seeing the Southern Cross. The sky was literally full of stars, and on a clear night you can see forever, right? Well, I did enjoy looking at the stars, the Southern Cross, and the moon. I can think of at least one other that had a thing about the moon for he would lift his eyes skyward throw his head back, and start howling at the moon. Shook me up considerably the first time I heard it, but it soon became something to expect. Just another way of passing those long, 12 to 4 watches, on Gun 45. I have since spoken with this “howler” and he denies the allegation
Every-time I think I have reached the end of “things I remember”, something else comes to mind, such as the time a B-24 apparently flew into some bombs that had been dropped by one flying at a higher altitude. Just another of the unfortunate accidents, that are bound to occur, during such a long and dangerous conflict. No way of knowing whether or not anyone survived that explosion.
Heard from a former shipmate the other day and something was said about the weather in the South Pacific. Pretty hot, especially below decks, which brought to mind the many nights I slept on deck, underneath the torpedo tubes. My pillow was one of my brogans and it served very well, and the deck didn’t feel all that uncomfortable either. The ship’s movement provided the air-conditioning and it was possible to get some shut-eye. I wasn’t the only one that took advantage of this accommodation as several others did so.
Another former Abboteer told me of the time, in Hawaii, when one “Dinty” Moore came aboard ship with a little pup hidden in his duffle somewhere. It was smuggled aboard because the skipper was not overly fond of dogs but once out to sea the pup was safe. The skipper, Commander Dornin, wasn’t a mean person, just didn’t care to have a dog aboard. You would think I would remember the dog incident, but try as I might, I simply can’t dredge it up out of the shadows. Well, it has been a few years since this all took place and, we all forget at least one item, now and then.
One of the first things that come to mind, when I think of Seattle, is the change in the menu. The food became much more palatable in that it was whole eggs and fresh milk, no more of the powdered variety, and what a difference. Amazing how good a glass of fresh milk tasted, but just listen to me, you’d think I wasn’t grateful. After nearly two years in the Pacific, having departed San Diego on September 28, 1943 and returning to Bremerton on September 8, 1945, WWII was over, as well as our days on the briny. Our problems had been few, and relatively minor, the exception being the collision with the Cowpens, during night maneuvers, which resulted in the deaths of three shipmates.
Another, much smaller problem, had to deal with a “Homeward Bound Pennant”. We had spent some time putting this pennant together, in anticipation of our return to the “States” and all that such an event would mean, only to see said pennant, homeward bound all-right, attached to the mast of another “Tin Can”. That was a bit difficult to swallow at the time for it would have been fine indeed to go state-side for a few weeks, but perhaps that other “Can” needed, or deserved, the respite more than we did. I think I once knew the identity of the other ship but I have long since forgotten it, but no matter.
This all took place in December 1944, as I recall, and we came home in September 1945 some nine months later, and as they say, “all’s well that ends well”.
As you well remember, virtually all our free time, which was considerable, was spent in Seattle. Catch the ferry in the AM, with a lot of anticipation as to what the day would bring, and returning to the ship the next day, or whenever the inclination hit you. The rules were much more relaxed, almost non-existent, and I wonder how many, if any, actually returned aboard ship on time. Many A O L notations in the log, for sure. Most of us have little recollection of the ferry ride from Seattle to Bremerton, probably sound asleep, but I dare say we all had a good time, or at least thought we did. Seattle was a good liberty town and, as such, it was a very acceptable first stop in my return home.
I was transferred to the Receiving Station in Bremerton October 17,’45, a long train ride to Great Lakes Training Center in Chicago, and then on to the Receiving Station, St. Louis, where I was discharged. This occurred on December 20, 1945, three years, three months and 26 days later, as the record has it. Some great times, as well as some not so great, some fine buddies, memories, etc., and if it were for another reason I wouldn’t mind a repeat. I had never seen the ocean before but I must say the two of us got along quite well, with the exception of that time in the South China Sea.
Most of the original Abbot crew were from the East Coast and are probably not familiar with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois, just a few miles from Chicago, but it was quite a place, as was Chicago. While waiting for discharge there was a lot of free time and as one of my shipmates was from Chicago, I had what amounted to a personal guide, in and around town. Plenty of places to go, things to do, people to see, and numerous ways in which to get rid of your hard earned cash. It was quite a town. I remember at least one not so pleasant time also, the day an early snow blew in and I nearly froze before I could find, and purchase, adequate clothing.
Well, as you all know the Abbot performed no heroics, no extra special deeds, just what was expected of her, under the conditions. She did her job, and did it well. None of her charges were lost, or even damaged, as far as I know, and she ended her participation in the conflict by escorting a wounded companion, the “Borie”, to safety, and then returned home herself. A well done is in order.
I suppose I should put this to rest as it is becoming rather lengthy but memories are still popping up and must be recorded. Remember how the Porpoise would swim alongside, not too close of course, maybe a couple hundred yards distant and how they would come up out of the water as though leaping over some object? Almost as though they were putting on a show for our benefit. It was enjoyable watching them and knowing that there weren’t any sharks around, at least not in the immediate vicinity.
Then there were the flying fish, I guess they should be called glide fish for that is what they did. Jump out of the water, spread their little fins and glide up and over the deck. I don’t recall whether any ever landed on the ship, but could be.
I also think of the times we had something in the drinking water that shouldn’t have been in there, such as kerosene or maybe a little fuel oil. I sometimes wonder if we had a disgruntled water tender but most likely it was just a slip-up, or a little prank.
There are other items, such as when I had my moment of glory, when my sleeve was decorated with four stripes and a miniature toilet bowl, I was captain of the head, no less. It was a prestigious position and one that carried much authority, especially when it was clean up time and everyone must be kept from entering the premises. One could become very unpopular at this point in time, and then the inspection, the white gloves and if even one spot of dirt was found you would do it all over again. Some fun, I don’t think.
It is good to be able to remember, to bring back things that leave an impression, and put them on paper for someone to read at a later date. I suppose there will be items over which an eyebrow will be raised, someone will think I wonder why this was included, but no matter, I think it is kind of interesting. I have made a list of ships that the Abbot encountered during her cruise, list not included at this time, but it is a significant number, over 400 hundred and counting. I know there are some that I have missed because some of the papers were of such poor quality that I could not read them, and others were just “Two ships passing in the night”. It is quite a list, nonetheless.
Some time has gone by since last I wrote anything in this document, and I suppose it is time to finish up, add the list of ships and call it good, at least for the present. Who knows, if or when there might come another thought that would need recording. The list of ships is as follows and as mentioned before it is most likely incomplete.
|Bluefield Victory||Cogswell||Gen. Patrick|
|Blue Ridge||Colahan||General Scott|
|Harry Lee||Kalinan Bay||Massachusetts|
|Henry T. Allen||Kaskaskia||Mccord|
|HMS King George V||Lamar||Merrimack|
|Humboldt Bay||Lewis Hancock||Montpelier|
|Irwin||Makin Island||Natoma Bay|
|Jackel||Manila Bay||New Mexico|
|John Land||Marcus Island||Niblack|
|John W. Weeks||Markab||Norman Scott|
|Oklahoma City||Rocky Mount||S-165|
|Pecos||Salt Lake City||Texas|
|Williamson||SS Alfred M. Lunt|
|Windsor||SS Calusa Bennington|
|Winnebago||SS Cape St. Elias|
|Windsor||SS Davidson Victory|
|Woodworth||SS La Placentia|
|Yorktown||SS Lyman Stewart|
|SS Twin Falls Victory|
|Zeilin||SS Vera Cruz|
|SS William Sieverling|