Monthly Archives: May 2013

Library

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Ship's Library before strip ship

Chaplains were among the first to introduce libraries on ships. On BB55 the Chaplain’s office was located next to the Library. According to records in the archives library books were often overdue!

“While the NORTH CAROLINA was still fitting out in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, I reported in March 1941…as the commissioning chaplain. My first assumed task was the cataloging and proper shelving of the ship’s library. And when all flammable materials were ordered removed (after the war started), even the deck linoleums, to minimize fire hazards in battle, I persuaded the captain to exempt the library books in the crew’s reading room, so the ship’s company would have that limited recreational relief.”

Francis Albert, Chaplain Corps

“This week our Ship’s Library was officially opened for business. Many patrons have expressed pleasure over the new books and their neat arrangement. Properly cataloging and carding a new library is no small task, and grateful acknowledgment is made for the valuable assistance given by the Library and Museum Section of the Works Project Administration of New York City in this work, which has taken the best efforts of three to five library technicians during the past month…. Additional titles are on order already, and requests will be received for subsequent orders, so that the Library will be kept up to date on desired and useful books.”

TARHEEL, Vo. 1, No. VI, Saturday, May 17, 1941

“Complete Library on Warship.” The U.S.S. North Carolina, newest of the Navy’s battleships has been equipped with a complete library through the technical assistance of the WPA, it was announced yesterday. The collection of 1,250 fiction and nonfiction books, which was selected by the Bureau of Navigation, has been cataloged, lettered and shelved by WPA workers.”

New York Times, May 22, 1941

The library compartment is intended primarily as a quiet room for study, reading, and writing. Smoking, loud talking, game playing or sleeping is forbidden. The Library compartment will be open continuously for designated use except during Field Day and during General Drills. The Library compartment is assigned to the Seventh division as a cleaning station. It was be thoroughly cleaned early each day and straightened up smartly after the noon meal, and again after the evening meal. The Ship’s Library is under the supervision of the Chaplain. Books are issued for two weeks. The Book Card must be properly signed and left with the Librarian at the time a book is taken. Men losing or damaging books will replace them immediately or pay the cost of replacement.

USS North Carolina Organization and Regulations

“When the glass fronts of the title “B” book cases were removed incidental to stripping ship, they were replaced by metal strips. The books were properly safeguarded during this period and replaced when the work was completed. The metal strips were not welded together at each crossing point and the books were removed by persons unknown who slid them between the metal strips. All strips have been welded and the remaining books are now secure.”

Survey, Request Report, and Expenditures, December 1942

Marines

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MARINE DETACHMENT

low resolution landing force

“I am expecting to have a few adventures in the time to come.”
PFC Jim Ramentol, March 1941
He served on BB55 to February 1944

low resolution on watch

“The Marine Detachment was in the Gunnery Department. The Marines stood lookout watch and in battle manned 20mm and (provided officers in two) 40mm mounts. (They also manned a 5-inch mount early in the ship’s career.) The Marines also furnished twenty-four hour orderly services to the captain and the executive officer. In port the Marines were responsible for the security of the ship. The Marines helped with provisioning the ship and taking on ammunition. All Marines were trained in ship to shore operations, so in addition to helping with the security of the ship in port, we were prepared to be a landing force when necessary. This was necessary near the end of the war when all Marines in our battle group transferred at sea to attack transports and went into Yokosuka, Japan. This preceded the signing of the peace treaty by several days. The Marine officers stood top gunnery watches, officer of the deck and junior officer of the deck watches, and regularly assisted in summary and general courts martials acting either as the prosecuting or defending officer.”

Captain William Romm, USMC, Marine Detachment

low resolution gunners

“The Marine Detachment, as long as I was aboard from November 1943 to November 1945, was charged with the responsibility of upkeep and maintenance of the ship’s 20mm battery which grew from about 24 mounts to 48 or 60 when we came out of Bremerton in September 1944. The gunner on each mount was usually a Marine and the loaders were from the galley, bakery, and captain’s mess. This latter group, the captain’s stewards, never forgot me when we got into port – especially Hawaii and I always had papaya or avocado with my meal compliments of the captain’s galley just above my seat in the wardroom.”

Captain Joseph Bruder, USMC, Marine Detachment Commanding Officer

low resolution 2 men

“We had quite a group of Marines. We (the signalmen) were very friendly with them. They used to spend hours on the practice machine. It is a (5-inch) loading machine that they practiced on. They were right below the signal bridge. We used to watch them for hours practicing down there. I think one time that Tokyo Rose said that we had a new weapon, a 5-inch machine gun. That is how fast the Marine mount was firing those guns during an air raid.”

Jackson Belford, Signalman 3/c

low resolution four men

“We could get out some fast loads, but the Marine had two of the (5-inch) mounts. The Marine always had more rounds than we did. We didn’t have a gun crew to match the Marines. They drilled every day on the loading drill. So naturally they got it down to a fine art. They were in top shape, the Marines were. We had the best.”

Michael Horton, Seaman 1/c

low resolution Bruder

“We were sitting one night at general quarters. A bogy had been reported on the radar. We were standing easy at our guns. All of a sudden this Marine jumped up and commenced firing this 20mm gun. The sky lit up with a light out there. A plane hit the water. It was burning. I saw the gasoline burning on the water. I don’t know how he knew that this was an enemy plane or how it was there. He must have seen the exhaust. Everybody was excited and talking about it.”

Ollie Goad, Seaman 1/c

Jewell

“The Marines stood guard over the brig. One of their duties was to man the brig if we had someone locked up.”

Wilburn Thomas, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

 

Sick Bay

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Laboratory in Sick Bay

Sick Bay is the Ship’s medical center. During battle, there were several “dressing stations” and “aid units” throughout the Ship in addition to Sick Bay. Due to their size, battleships had more extensive medical facilities than smaller ships. Since smaller ships might not have an operating room or even a doctor, they would send patients to the larger ships when needed. BB55 Sick Bay had a staff of 39 people.

 

“We had sick call every morning. The bugler sounded ‘sick call’ and the word was passed over the public address system. If you needed to go, you notified your division petty officer and then you reported to sick bay. A pharmacist’s mate wrote up your complaint and either took care of you or referred you to one of the ship’s four doctors. One time my gums were infected. After I was treated, I went for a follow-up exam and the doctor asked me about my tonsils. I said they seemed fine. The doctor asked me if I got colds and when I said sometimes, the doctor said ‘Let’s take out your tonsils.’ So he did using a local anesthetic. I remember hearing the scissors cut them out. You could also arrange dental appointments for check-ups, not just for emergencies.”

Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

“We received shots constantly. Every time we moved into a new area we had to get injected! There were always long lines. Lots of guys would faint. There was this one pharmacist’s mate who would stand several feet away from the person and throw the needle like a dart. One after another, each guy would be instructed to lie face down on the table and he would toss it at their bottoms. He was really good. He never missed.”

Dante Renta, Seaman 1/c

“I had an infection in my thumb which I sort of ignored. Chief S. B. Kelly took one look at it and took me down to sick bay to see a doctor immediately. The doctor on duty examined it and took immediate action. He inserted sulfa drugs into the infected area. You have to appreciate this because penicillin was in very short supply and was saved for wounds incurred in action. It took about a month of my going to sick bay daily to have the thumb dressed. It eventually healed although my thumb ended up somewhat misshapen.”

Larry Resen, Fire Controlman 1/c

“I was diagnosed with the mumps and that was what the isolation ward was for – contagious diseases. I was in isolation for a week or more until the doctor felt I had recovered and could be released back into the crew without fear of them coming down with the mumps. Being in the isolation ward was scary when the ship went into General Quarters. You would lie there wondering what was going on topside.”

Lloyd Reedstrom, Radioman 3/c

Dispensary in Sick Bay

“Being a pharmacist’s mate had lots of advantages. One was we always had a fresh water shower. The isolation ward had its own private shower and head (bathroom). We never abused it. The ward also worked out as an awfully nice place to sleep when you didn’t have patients as it was air-conditioned! The first two guys that got there got to sleep in there. We did live in pretty up-town quarters – almost as good as the officers!”

William Davis, Pharmacist’s Mate 3/c

“After we finished the bombardment of Okinawa, I began to wheeze, cough, and had difficulty breathing. I mustered for Sick Call standing in line with other crew members in the passageway outside sick bay. I remember leaning on the bulkhead and trying to hold my head up when I apparently fainted. Whatever the cause, I woke up in a LUXURIOUS bunk with white sheet, a big fluffy pillow, very soft mattress, and to boot, it was air-conditioned! The doctors and corpsmen were superior – smiling, caring, encouraging – just the very best. They brought me meals on a tray and after two days I was stabilized and they kicked me out!”

Mark Sullivan, Electrician’s Mate 3/c

“The dark room also served another purpose – we had two homemade stills set up to clear up the supply department’s denatured alcohol. Two or three of us would get in there and run off some ‘alky.’ We were sometimes accompanied by our Division Officer, LT Martin T. Macklin, MC, USN. One still was similar to the one the medics used in the (television) series M*A*S*H; the other was very crude consisting of only a hot plate and a cereal bowl placed in a sauce pan of pink denatured alcohol. We would place a lid on the saucepan, bring the alcohol to a boil, and placed ice cubes on the lid. The result – the vapor hit the cool lid and dropped back into the cereal bowl. The alcohol was then clear. Mixed with grapefruit juice, it was not too bad.

William Potts, Pharmacist’s Mate 1/c

Sick Bay personnel