Happy Holidays from the “Good Ship” NORTH CAROLINA
“On December 8, 1943, we participated in what I would describe as an unusual island bombardment. The island was a small speck on the map, Nauru. It was lightly defended and contained a phosphate operation.
Six modern battleships, the Washington, North Carolina, Indiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Alabama let fly at 0700 with a 54 gun 16-inch salvo that smothered the island in explosions. The opening salvo was from about 30,000 yards and we continued to fire as we closed range until 0740, at which time we ceased fire and proceeded to join our carriers that were standing off some miles.
I was always puzzled by the significance of this action because of the small strategic importance of this island relative to the many other targets of opportunity that seemed to be available. My thought was that this was more of an exercise to determine how well the new and fast battleships could function together as a team. It seemed we did pretty well at the expense of the Naura islanders.”
“Japanese forces were known to have fortified Nauru and to have used it as an air base for both offensive strikes and scouting missions. The two landing strips on the island had been bombed by friendly Task Forces during recent weeks….
Information of locations and descriptions of enemy gun positions, target areas, beach defenses, utilities, landing fields, revetment areas, radio stations, and radar positions were given in secret dispatches, charts and information bulletins. Heavy ships were supplied relief maps of the area. The wealth of information on enemy positions proved extremely valuable and made possible effective bombardment.”
Action Report, December 17, 1943
“You can convey a message to whoever is shooting now is way short. There is a Betty flying around here someplace. I see him every once in a while. The last three cans are firing. There seems to be a formation on the other side of the island of about 40 planes. The dive bombers are attacking now.”
Spotting Plane Log, 1935 to 1945 Greenwich Civil Time (GCT)
“We bombarded the island of Nauru – this being the first American battleship to bomb a Japanese held territory. Breakfast was at four in the morning, which was our battle breakfast of steak and eggs. Our long march to Tokyo Bay had begun.”
Fred Velletri, Coxswain
In 1943 we settled down for a nice quiet Christmas in Efate, New Hebrides. Our Chaplain had worked out a show for Christmas (a burlesque) and had planned a Christmas Church service. On the 24th of December it was announced that the ship would get underway the following morning. The burlesque show was given Christmas Eve instead. It was a very good show, with chorus gals, strip tease and everything. It was a big success.
On Christmas morning a small group of the band played Christmas carols over the P.A. system. At 1000 the ship got underway. We had a big Christmas dinner at sea.
Lloyd Glick, Musician 2/c
“Hope you both had a very Merry Christmas. As for me, it is still early. It’s just about 8 o’clock in the morning. I expect we will have a pretty good sized dinner. I heard the ship was going to eat 175 turkeys.”
Charles Paty, Radioman 2/c, in letter home 12/25/1943
“Christmas 1943, the Chaplain had collected money, $5 I believe from crewmen who had children in the states. Sent money to Macy’s and they bought each a present and sent it to them for Christmas. He also had gotten a group together to put on a burlesque show on Christmas day. Crewmen in drag, wigs made from manila line, dancers, strippers, comedians, the whole bit. We received orders however that we had to get underway on Christmas day so the Chaplain put it on Christmas eve. It was a great show, the guys were great and everyone enjoyed the show.
When over the Chaplain asked everyone to remain seated as he had a surprise for them. It was unknown to anyone that Macy’s had gathered all the children they could with their Moms and filmed it, then sent it to the Chaplain. Each child and Mom would say “Hi” to their loved one. I don’t believe there were many dry eyes that night.”
Bill Taylor, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c
“The night of the smoker they had a news reel made just for our ship. Remember I told you the ship was sending gifts to kids whose fathers are on the North Carolina. Well they took news reels of it and showed us, the end was swell. The kids were all singing Merry Christmas sailor. Many [ ] to you. And once in a while they would show a picture of our ship underway. Where it was taken I don’t know.”
Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c, letter, 12/26/43
“December 25, Sat., Christmas Day
1030 Got underway with WASHINGTON and four tin cans. Destination unknown. It has been said that we are out looking for a Japanese task force.”
Gerald Schaidt, Seaman 1/c, diary