Monthly Archives: January 2015

Invasion of the Marshall Islands

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Battleships firing on Roi

Invasion of the Marshall Islands
January 29-February 5, 1944

“The next event of importance was our attack on Kwajalein Islands. We approached the island in daylight and sighted a Japanese Betty at 1635 and opened fire with our five-inch guns. We have been at General Quarters since early morning and my GQ station at that time was in Radio One as supervisor. When the enemy plane was sighted word was passed down from the bridge to call for help from our combat air patrol. My heart jumped. We had never had to do this from main radio. Voice transmissions had always been done from the bridge. I grabbed the microphone and gave the call sign for the combat air patrol and told them we were under attack by enemy aircraft and needed help. At 1715 four fighters of fighting squadron six from INTREPID arrived overhead but by that time we were no longer in danger. We did feel a little better with them close by.”

Charles Paty, Radioman 2/c

“In January 1944, we were part of Task Force 58 for the Kwajalein Atoll. We were key players in this strike. On the 29th and 30th we bombarded Roi/Namur all night before the invasion. We started bombing before sunset and set a few fires and used the fires as reference points to cover the island. When we arrived on station there was a [freighter] in the harbor. This was the only surface ship we saw during the war. We shelled it and sent it to the main deck. The harbor wasn’t deep enough for it to go under. The next morning and all through the day we continued to bombard those islands. In the late afternoon we had just gotten the word to cease fire when Mr. Ross decided that there was so much activity with trucks coming and going all day to this one building that we should fire a six gun salvo at it. We had a direct hit and apparently it was an ammunition dump and not a ‘Red Cross’ building.”

Harold Smith, Firecontrolman 1/c

“We had sunk this freighter. It was in a harbor. They said there is a ship in the harbor so they were firing at ease and we were watching them bombard. I can remember you could see the flashes and see the three or six shells of ours go real slow like orange going further and further. Then I noticed three balls getting bigger and bigger in the same spot. Then all of a sudden it came over the speaker ‘take cover, take cover. They are firing back.’ And I saw some splashes way off. They couldn’t reach us. But man they opened up with everything. It was sunk in and to me it looked like 30 minutes flat.”

Jerry Gonzales, Machinist’s Mate 2/c

Shelling Roi Island

Shelling Roi Island, Kwajelein, on January 30, 1944. “Every time we would hit one of these revetments loaded with warheads or bombs they would go off like an atomic bomb. A column of heat and smoke would rise then break into a mushroom. We have some wonderful pictures of that.”

LCDR Richard Walker, Gunnery officer

Supply Division

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“I had a back-up money supply in a safe in the corner of my disbursing office. I took the money out to count every 4 or 5 days. Once, I found a pea in the bottom of the safe. Other than wondering how it got there, I didn’t pay much attention to it. The next time I found another pea. This startled me but I assumed it was the same one and I hadn’t been successful in getting rid of it the first time. But, when one appeared the third time, I really got shook up. On investigation we found that some clown had drilled a small hole through the wall of the Supply office next door and through the back of my safe. By pushing peas through, he thought he could drive me (disbursing officer) berserk. He very nearly succeeded.”

“I had a safe that contained nearly $800,000. During lulls an assistant gunnery officer, an aviator and I plotted and schemed about making off with the money. I would open the safe, “guns” would provide a waterproof powder can and the aviator would fly it off the ship using precise navigation. Fortunately, I guess, the war ended before we worked out all the details.”

Ensign Henry E. Little

“Stores and other supplies were brought aboard using the crane. They were placed in cargo nets on the dock, then lifted aboard and guys like me carried the stores below to the storage area(s). It was tough going below and traversing through the hatches carrying stuff on your shoulders. Now and then some of the guys snitched a case of apples or oranges and hid them in a locker on the fantail and then we’d enjoy them after the work was done. We were all “gung ho” back then…just boys and came home as men.”

Don Scible, Seaman 1/c

Donald Robert Day, Storekeeper 1/c, served on BB55 from 4/9/1941 to 2/3/1945. He shared some memories about his time in the Supply Division.

Donald Day in Supply