Monthly Archives: November 2015

Night Air Action

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Gilberts Air Action, November 1943

Gilberts Air Action, November 1943

Gilberts Air Action, November 1943

Gilberts Air Action, November 1943

Gilberts Air Action, November 1943

Gilberts Air Action, November 1943

On November 25 and 26, 1943, BB55 was supporting the landing operations at Makin with Task Group 50.2.

“The night was clear but dark; sunset at 1817. There was no moon. Surface visibility after darkness was 4,000 yards. The sky was about 0.3 covered with cumulus clouds. The sea was calm, the wind was about 14 knots from 100 True.”

From 10 to 12 Japanese attack planes and one or more reconnaissance planes engaged the Task Group just after darkness.

“Two float lights were dropped…burned brightly for at least half an hour. Those flares gave excellent performance and silhouetted the force from a sector astern.”

“A plane was sighted visually close aboard on the starboard bow of this ship. A splash was soon under the plane but no wake or explosion was observed. A plane passed down the starboard side at a range of less than 200 yards at about the masthead height. It was taken under fire by one 40mm and two 20mm guns located on the starboard bow. After passing astern, the plane was soon to break into flames and crash into the water.”

Five-inch mounts #7 and #9 and then the whole starboard side battery opened fire on more planes. By 2008 all planes had assembled and retired to the northwestward.
Action Report

Night Attacks November 1943

Night Attacks November 1943

“This was the first night action in which this ship has participated. The efficiency with which the batteries were controlled, the lack of confusion and the general excellence of performance is attributed to the state of training and the high morale of personnel.”
Captain Frank P. Thomas, USN

Chart of Ship Tracks on November 25, 1943

Chart of Ship Tracks on November 25, 1943

“On the night of 26 November 1943, Task Group 50.2 while engaged in supporting operations in the Tarawa area successfully repelled a night air attack. Enemy planes dropped float light markers and aircraft flares and made several attacks on the formation at low altitudes. This ship sustained no damage and fired at ten enemy planes, two of which were seen to crash.”
Action Report

48 star U.S. flag, linen, frayed on the ends. According to the tag "this flag was flown on the U.S.S. North Carolina during the engagements of Gilbert Island Nov. 20th 1943, Air Attack Nov. 24th & 25th 1943, and Bombardment of Nauru Dec. 8th 1943. It is the property of Cecil T. Jones, Chief Quartermaster, who was aboard the North Carolina at that time."

48 star U.S. flag, linen, frayed on the ends. According to the tag “this flag was flown on the U.S.S. North Carolina during the engagements of Gilbert Island Nov. 20th 1943, Air Attack Nov. 24th & 25th 1943, and Bombardment of Nauru Dec. 8th 1943. It is the property of Cecil T. Jones, Chief Quartermaster, who was aboard the North Carolina at that time.”

Gilberts Action

“We went to the Gilberts. This was a memorable time for us because this was our first move back into the Mandate Islands. We would use this as a shield. We didn’t bombard in the Gilberts but we acted as a shield to block any Japanese effort to send a force down from the Kwajeleins. We had some long air attacks and this was the first time we [U.S. Navy] used night fighters.

Finally when the battle of the Gilberts came to an end we moved down to Naura and bombarded that. The Japanese had taken it over from the British and they were using the nitrate. We wanted to bust up their shipping facilities as much as best we could. That was one of our primary targets.”
Commander Richard Walker, Gunnery officer

Shore Leave

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In August and September 1944, BB55 was in the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, WA.

“Everyone was entitled to 30 days leave year, but once the ship arrived in the South Pacific in July 1942, no one received much of a leave unless it was an emergency, until the ship returned for a major overhaul in Bremerton, WA, for a couple of months. One half of the ship at a time received 30 days leave. Many weddings took place at this point including mine and my new wife came back to Bremerton to stay until the ship left. The Navy had some housing called Port Orchard for married people. Our unit was all couples from BB55. While we were there my wife threw me a birthday party.”

Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

Paul Wieser birthday party

Paul Weiser shown back row, far left

“I dressed in my work blues, stuffed my dress shoes in the pockets of my pea coat and headed for the gang plank. I asked the boatswain mate if there was a ship to shore boat around. He said that the Captain’s gig was going to take a mail run soon. I went down the ladder and seated myself under the forward compartment’s canvas cover. When we arrived at the dock I waited until the captain departed and walked into a nearby building. As soon as he was out of sight I was off. No one questioned my leaving. I arrived at my future wife’s home in less than an hour. Of course, the thrill of being home and seeing everyone was worth the fright that I was beginning to feel.

The next morning…I made it back on base without a single question or challenge. Now I had to find a way to get a water taxi or gig back to the ship. As luck would have it a mail boat was heading that way and I hopped on board. As I arrived alongside BB55 I could see a lot of activity on the aft deck where the Officer of the Day was standing. As I arrived at the top of the ladder I saluted and said ‘work party sir.’ In all the confusion I headed for the bow and probably covered 50 feet when I heard a shout ‘sailor come back here.’ At that moment I quickly got lost on all the activity onboard. I changed into work jeans and sat on the bow realizing what a dumb think I had just pulled off. If I had been caught I would have been in the brig forever.”

Ed Roberts, Gunner’s Mate 3/c

Crew going on shore leave

Crew going on shore leave

“While home on leave I went to a drive-in movie [and] they showed a newsreel of the Saipan action and it startled or scared me as I was seeing the air attacks I had just been in before coming home.”

C.J. Baker, Fire Controlman 3/c

John Seagraves, Stewards Mate 2/c

“I had chosen air transportation because I didn’t want to lose any unnecessary time travelling. The flight over the Rockies was very rough and our ears killed us. [After several plane changes] I arrived in Charlotte, NC. I had been gone two years and eight months. Mother and Dad were there to meet me. I guess I expected to come back and find everyone still at Central High School and the neighborhood just the same. My days were humdrum…I had no civilian clothes so wore my uniform at all times. Time came for me to return and I really didn’t mind going. The adrenaline was building in anticipation of returning to the ship. I know my parents were distraught…they probably thought they would never see me again. I had the same thoughts.”

Charles Paty, Radioman 2/c