Monthly Archives: November 2014


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November 1943, Recovery of the Gilbert Islands

Night attacks November 1943

“For the first time we were conscious of a formidable enemy.”

“Tomorrow this task force will be well within air range of the Marshall Islands and air attack can be expected at any time until the operation is completed. Everyone must be extremely careful not to shoot at our own planes. Never fire at night unless you are certain that you see your target. There may be Japanese torpedo boats in the area. This will be a long operation so make yourselves at home.”

Charles Gilbert, PFC, USMC, November 16, 1943

“On the evening of November 25th we had our first real action. The day was Thanksgiving. We had a swell turkey dinner that afternoon. Air defense was sounded that evening and we went to our stations. After about 20 minutes our anti-aircraft battery cut loose and for the first time we were conscious of a formidable enemy.”

Lloyd Glick, Musician 1/c

“On the night of November 25, 1943, we had an air attack. These night attacks were scarier than day attacks because at night it was difficult to see the planes. The planes would drop flares and they would light up our task force like daytime and the flares would hang in the air like forever before burning out. We would be well lit for the enemy and it was really scary.

During one night air attack while on a 40MM director a ‘Betty’ twin engine [Japanese] bomber flew just aft of the ship or across the fantail from starboard to port with all tracers all around him and they lit him up so I could even see the gun blister on it. I didn’t get a chance to fire at the plane…. Our view was blocked to starboard with the superstructure behind us and he was gone in the darkness.”

C.J. Baker, Firecontrolman 3/c

“November 25. At about 1900 we picked up several bogeys. They kept circling, going out and coming back in until about 1945 when they started their run in. The attack came from starboard side which was my side. There were about a dozen. We opened fire with 20mm on the forecastle and we got the plane. In the meantime others were circling and dropping flares so we opened up several times with our 5-inch [guns] trying to drive them off. At about 2030 they all disappeared.”

“November 26. We have been passing through debris and oil all day. In the evening about 1830 air defense was sounded and about 1900 we had bogeys everywhere and coming in. At 1930 they started dropping flares and we opened fire. We fired off and on for half an hour. Our task force launched three night fighters commanded by LCDR Butch O’Hara. They vectored him out to a bogey which he promptly shot down. He said he was going to start a run on another. One of our pilots said he saw Butch hit the water near two burning Bettys. BB55 got one sure and one probable.”

Charles Paty, Radioman 2/c

Thanksgiving menu 1943

“Holiday chow aboard one of these ships was unbelievable. There is nothing nearer and dearer to a sailor’s heart than plenty to eat: pumpkin pie, roast turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy. Here comes our big Thanksgiving chow. About 5PM they started serving. At 5:15 we got contact on the radar, ‘hostile planes approaching.’ Sounded air defense. Everybody jumped up and left their beautiful chow sitting in front of them to go to battle stations. The cooks have to secure their area. All the food went in the garbage. A half hour later we secured from GQ (general quarters/battle stations). They got ready to serve chow again. More enemy planes coming in. They threw it out a second time. We stayed at general quarters until just short of 10PM that night. Finally, we opened enough doors so that the mess cooks could get through the galley and prepare battle rations.”

Donald Wickham, Musician 2/c



Happy Birthday, Marines!

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Happy Birthday, Marines!
This week marks the 239th Anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps

The Marines received national press in March 1945

“Marines of are citizens of every state. Within the ranks of the Corps are upstanding, ambitious young Americans who have come from every section of sturdy pioneers who developed an untamed wilderness into one of the leading nations of the earth. Congratulations to our Marines on another year of service.”

Tarheel, U.S.S. North Carolina, November 1941

“I paid the Marines in the Marine Office. I’ll always remember paying the Marines because they had to click their heels and salute me before they could be paid. This made me, a lowly Ensign, feel important!”

Ensign Henry E. Little

“We could get some fast loads but the Marines had two of the mounts and the Marines always had more rounds than we did. We didn’t have a gun crew to match the Marines. The reason for this…they were in top physical shapes because the Marines were all pre-war Marines. They had to be around six feet tall for sea duty. They drilled every day on the loading drill. You’d see them up there every day so naturally they got it down to a fine art. We tried to beat them a lot of times but no way. It used to make us hot because we couldn’t catch them but it was one of those things.”

Michael Horton, Seaman 1/c

“Service aboard ship is a good experience but it’s not the Marine Corps.”

Lt. Col. Duncan Jewell, USMC (Ret.)
Duncan Jewell