Monthly Archives: September 2014


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Torpedo damage

“The ship had barely commenced to swing when the torpedo struck with a deafening roar and caused us to lurch to starboard. It felt as though a giant had put his hand against the port side and shoved us with all his might sideways through the water.”

September 15, 1942

“At eight minutes of three this date we were hit between frames 38-52 (port side of #1 turret) by a torpedo. The WASP was hit about two minutes before us. The last time I saw her she was a floating hull. Reports said three torpedoes went into her port side starting huge fires. It is a miracle she is still afloat. The Salt Lake City also took one, but is under control. The destroyer O’Brien caught one in the bow practically blowing it off. It was still afloat and proceeded to Guadalcanal and was beached.

We had all hands at 3 A.M. and had breakfast before dawn G.Q. expecting to catch up with those [Japanese] battleships. I came from G.Q. at 7 AM and proceeded with regular ship’s work. At about 12:30 P.M. G.Q. sounded but the planes that were picked up turned out to be friendly. After G.Q. I turned in my rack and that’s where I was when it hit.

My battle station (clipping room 101-1/2) being right in between number one and two turrets was filled with smoke and fumes. It was so bad that an officer ordered us out and to remove the ammunition which I refused to do not knowing it may [ ]. At this time we must have been listing ten degrees to port. All hands were ordered to starboard side. We leveled off almost immediately. The fire was put out and we proceeded at 29 knots. We lost about 100,000 gallons of fuel oil. The extent of damage or casualties is not complete as yet. A sad day for the U.S. Navy.”

Log book of Bernard James Wagenhauser, Seaman 2/c

Newspaper reporting of burial of KIA

“Last night at this time the NC was the proud king of the seas, fearing nothing, challenging all. Tonight she is a crippled vessel limping to a friendly port for repairs.

This morning found our combine task forces (the WASPs and the HORNETs) on the general heading of NW. We had at that time a definite duty to perform…to protect the landing of more marines at Tulagi and Guadalcanal. This noon while we were proceeding on our course through the waters that we jokingly named “torpedo junction,” enemy aircraft contact was made which sent us all to G.Q. We remained at our battle stations only for a short while but afterwards learned that the contact had been a Japanese four-engine patrol bomber and was shot down by our planes.

I was on watch (12-16) in steering aft receiving instruction as to how the port rudder could be centralized in case of a casualty on the port after steering station, when word was received over the phones that a fire had broken out on the forward hangar deck of the WASP. Simultaneously a torpedo was sighted headed for this ship only 400 yards away. Immediately full rudder was applied and the engine room was notified to make 25 knots. However it was all too late. The ship had barely commenced to swing when the torpedo struck with a deafening roar and caused us to lurch to starboard. It felt as though a giant had put his hand against the port side and shoved us with all his might sideways through the water.

The instant the torpedo hit us G.Q. was sounded. It will never forget the sensation I experienced in running through slippery passageways choked with smoke. The ship was listing quite badly to port and on reaching the third deck, the smoke was so dense that I had to grope my way down into Central. Confusion was reduced to minimum and condition ZED was set in the record time of six minutes.

Fortunately, personnel casualties were few. Latest reports are that five men were sealed in those flooded port wing compartments. Another who was standing his watch on the 20mm group just aft of where the torpedo hit is missing. He may have been blown over the side by the concussion. Otherwise there were a few cuts and bruises plus one compound fractured leg.”

Log book of George Guild Strott, Seaman 2/c

Burial site on TongaTabu

“Immediately following the torpedoing I headed for the Sick Bay and noticed smoke coming from a blower as I entered. There was quite a bit of confusion. The senior medical officer Captain Wendell Blake was there and the first casualty was brought in and appeared to have a broken leg. Captain Blake kneeled beside him, looked up and said “someone get a doctor.” He meant one of the junior officers. Perhaps he forgot he was a doctor in all the excitement. It was decided to x-ray the sailor’s leg but our x-ray equipment located below in the medical storeroom had been knocked out so an attempt was made successfully using the dental x-ray equipment.”

Letter from William T. Potts, Chief Warrant Officer, MSC, USN (Ret.)

Torpedo damage


On September 15, 1942, Japanese submarine I-19 quickly fired six long-range torpedoes at the U.S. carrier WASP. Three torpedoes struck their target causing such damage that the task force commander ordered WASP to be sunk that night. The remaining three torpedoes raced on across several miles into a second carrier force. One torpedo slammed into the U.S. destroyer O’BRIEN that would break up several weeks later due to severe hull damage.

Another torpedo blasted NORTH CAROLINA on her port (left) side just forward of the thick armor belt designed to protect her from torpedoes. The enormous blast shook the Ship and crew and sent tons of oil and water skyward. Tons more water quickly flooded into the resulting 32 by 18 foot hole causing the Ship to lean, a situation the crew quickly corrected by purposefully flooding compartments on the opposite side. Five men were killed and 23 were wounded.

Torpedo damage looking up and aft

Killed in Action

Albert Speers Geary (washed overboard)
Ingwald Nelson
Ingwald Nels Nelson
Leonard Edward Pone
William Skelton
William Osborne Skelton
Oscar Callaway Stone

Roosevelt Flenard, Mess Attendant First Class
“We’re hit! We’re hit!”


Printing Shop

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Henry Rutkowski (1921-2007)

“Our first job was to print money order applications for the Post Office because they were unable to order a new supply. King Comic Syndicate also sent us comic strips that were reproduced for our weekly funny paper. After air attacks, the charts from the course of the plane were sent down to the print shop, photographed, made into plates, 100 sheets run, and then the plates destroyed by throwing them overboard. The 100 copies were TOP SECRET.

Samples of print shop tags

We also did liberty cards. They were need in four colors for the four liberty sections. We made the stencil by taking pieces of scrap linoleum, cutting numbers out, and mounting them on wood. Each of us had four liberty cards! But the anniversary souvenir publication was one of our proudest pieces.

Print Shop sailors

Work was not to be done without a written work order. Friends who were in charge of the ship’s service departments would purchase a box of envelopes from the ship’s store and have us address them mailing home. We got our laundry done specially, pressed, and folded in exchange for printing up envelopes with pre-printed girlfriends, wives, etc. names on them. We also made personal letterhead for friends, the heads of the laundry, barber shop, post office, etc.


There were two bunks in here. I slept with the R Division in their compartment. I could not see sleeping in the Print Shop. The ventilation was too bad. The vibration in the shop was bad at high speed runs. It was a small, confined compartment that you were glad to get out of after a day’s work. Even with all that, it was 200% better than being in the engine room.

Printer Rate

There was plenty of heat in the South Pacific and the laundry [next door] threw off a lot of heat. It was a small, confined compartment that you were glad to get out of after a day’s work. Even with all that it was 200% better than being in the engine room. My experience in the print shop helped me get an apprenticeship in a union shop in Philadelphia. In 1947, I moved to Chicago and worked in the printing trade until I retired in 1988.”

-Charles Foster, Patternmaker 1/c

1941 print shop 1946 print shop