Author Archives: Battleship North Carolina

Truk Rescue

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Grigware's depiction of the Kingfisher and Tang

In April 1944, American carrier planes were assaulting Truk and NORTH CAROLINA was protecting the carriers. The Battleship’s Kingfishers were assigned rescue duty and took to the air on the morning of April 30, 1944.

John Burns

John Burns

“A number of our planes were shot down and the men had taken to rubber boats. They were close off the atoll, under Japanese guns. I was ordered to take my plane, which had pontoon floats, on a rescue mission. I was out with another plane of the same type. We had been given the position of a man who had been in the water about 22 hours. He had landed inside a reef, right under the noses of the Japanese guns. The [Japanese] had been shooting at him all day.

When darkness fell he had worked his way over the reef, and into open water, where we found him. The other [Kingfisher] plane with me landed in the water to pick him up. But a stiff gust of wind turned it upside down. Then I landed, and picked up the man in the boat, and the pilot [LT J.J. Dowdle] and radio man [Aubrey Gill] of the plane which had been with me. Three men got on the wings and I taxied five or six miles out to sea, where we came to a submarine [USS TANG] which took the three men aboard.

Rescue at Truk by Robert Sherry

Rescue at Truk by Robert Sherry

I flew back again. I had been told by radio of the position of another man, close in to the reef, and I got him on the wings. I heard of other men in the water. It took me two hours, taxiing around, to find three more men. They told me of seeing another plane crash. Other planes overhead helped direct me to the scene, and in two more hours I had located three more men. Then I had seven men on my wings.

Kingfisher taxiing men to safety

Kingfisher taxiing men to safety

Newspaper clipping

Newspaper clipping

 

I taxied out to sea again and found the submarine, but my plane had taken such a beating from the wind and water that we had to destroy it so my radio man and I got on the submarine, too.”

LT John Burns

John Burns on ship

John Burns on ship

Burns, a true hero, was awarded the Navy Cross. He was tragically killed the following year during a training exercise in Virginia, on February 24, 1945.

Burns killed in crash

Pay Day

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Pay Roll Summary, July, August, September 1943

Pay Roll Summary, July, August, September 1943

“For about nine months I sent $200 a month home. We didn’t have any place to spend it. It just accumulated on your payroll. When I came home I had over $1000 in pay on the books.”

Harold Smith, Fire Controlman 1/c

Note the Monroe hand-operated, mechanical adding machine on the table.

Note the Monroe hand-operated, mechanical adding machine on the table.

The crew was paid on the 15th and 20th of each month. When “pay call” was sounded the Masters-at-Arms and Police Petty Officers formed personnel in pay number order (or alphabetical order after October 1944) in designated pay lines in the Mess Halls. Certain enlisted were allowed to proceed to the head of the lines: Master-at-Arms, Cooks, Bakers, Mess Cooks, Police Petty Officers, Canteen Storekeepers, Clothing and Small Stores Storekeepers, Ship’s Service Storekeepers, Laundry Personnel, Steward’s Mates, Post Officer Personnel.

The officers, Chief Petty Officers and Marines were paid on the 15th and last day of the month. “It was a distinct pleasure to pay the Chiefs at breakfast in their mess. This meant I got one good breakfast a month!”

Ensign Henry Little, Disbursing officer

Upon arriving onboard BB55 “I was presented with a safe containing nearly 1 million dollars in 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s and 20s. This is an imposing pile of money for anybody….I proceeded to my best…. There were several bored Marines with Tommy guns standing guard. At 0400 October 1, 1944, I became the coffee drinking disbursing officer of a major ship.”

Ensign Henry Little

PayDay cartoon

“The paymaster used to post the names of every enlisted crew member with the amount of money he had on the books and you could decide how much you wanted to draw out on payday. There was a distinct advantage to this in that if someone owed you money he could not claim he was broke on payday because there was his name. The paymaster was there with stacks of money [and armed guards]. You filled out a chit with your name, rate and serial number, presented it to the paymaster with an imprint of your inked thumb on it and got your money.”

Bill Faulkner, Seaman 1/c

Supply Office

Supply Office

“Today we have been at sea for 62 days. It is also the fourth straight payday I have not drawn any money.”

LT Edward Gillespie, September 15, 1942

Pay receipt example

“The figurative Federal income tax man comes around to members of the armed forces just as he does to all other Americans. But when he pays his 1943 visit fighting men and and women will find that several distinct income tax advantages have been conferred upon them. For an unmarried civilian with no dependents income taxation starts when gross earnings reach $525.01 at which level the collector’s bill is a modest $1. [The same in the military or naval forces] doesn’t owe until his total earnings reach $775 provided as much as $250 of these earnings come from wartime pay for active service. [There is a] $300 exclusion for married persons.”

“Brand new is the Victory tax. It is levied on all incomes in excess of $12 per week or $624 a year, at a flat rate of 5%. The tax law provides for a post-war refund….”

Tax Facts for Navy Men, All Hands, January 1943

Paying Income Tax 1943

“Congress was especially considerate of those in the armed forces by permitting them to exclude from their gross income up to $1500 of active service pay, on top of their regular personal exemption. The vast majority of Navy personnel will not have to pay income tax this year….”

Your Income Tax, All Hands, February 1944

Donald Rogers pay record

Commission Day

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New Battleship – A Symbol of Might

Worldwide press

On April 9, 1941, the “world’s fightingest ship” was commissioned at 11:30 a.m., in the New York Navy Yard. The event received tremendous media attention.

Ship's Company on April 9, 1941

“The 35,000-ton battleship NORTH CAROLINA, solid, gleaming symbol of America’s awakening from a sleep naval holiday of 18 years…. 29 minutes of ceremony in dazzling sunshine formally placed in service the $70,000,000 battleship it had taken nearly four years to build.” The commissioning was four months ahead of schedule.

“As bugles blared and white-capped officers and bluejackets saluted, a pennant was run slowly up the flagstaff to show that the ship was in commission. Millions listened over the radio as the mightiest battleship afloat was put into service.”

The Young Catholic Messenger, April 25, 1941

Colors raised April 9 1941

Battleship by artist Henry Billings, April 1941

“May the NORTH CAROLINA be a symbol of progress through strength,” wrote President Roosevelt.

Commision Day Menu Navy Yard

Commission Day Graphic

Following the ceremony a buffet luncheon in the Wardroom included “NORTH CAROLINA APPLE PIE.”

Invitation to Commission

Souvenir program April 1941

April 10, 1941

“Dear Husty: It was with great pride that I sat down to my bacon and eggs this A.M. after seeing your beaming countenance griming at me from the pages of the L.A. Times. There you were aboard the new battle wagon North Carolina. I pray that your ship will never be called upon to hurl her salvos against an enemy. But, if destiny rules otherwise, I know she will more than give an excellent account of herself in upholding the glorious traditions of our Country and the Navy for which all of us who are real Americans are prepared to battle and, if needs be, die for.”

Edward Sedgwick, MGM Pictures, letter to Captain Olaf Hustvedt, commanding officer USS NORTH CAROLINA

On the cover of Newsweek April 1941

 

The New Yorker magazine April 1941

“The commissioning was a great day of excitement. All the dignitaries around and high ranking admirals. Every sailor had to be on his toes and everything was ship shape the best way it could be on board. We were all dressed in blues for photos and the commissioning. It was a great day.”

Paul Charles Wenck, Seaman 1/c

 

1991070118E

 

Knox, Hustvedt and Broughton

“I think that the ovation that ended the celebration in New York when the ship was commissioned was a tribute to a bunch of hard working people that our shipyards were. Our sailors and men were ready to go out and do whatever had to be done to win this war. And they did it. They really did it.”

Admiral Alfred Ward, USN (Ret.)

Raising the colors April 9, 1941

Raising the colors April 9, 1941

The Ship’s Birthday over the Years

April 9 1942

 

April 1942 field day

April 1942 jamboree

1942 – Casco Bay, Maine

“The good ship U.S.S. North Carolina celebrated her first birthday anniversary in a most enjoyable manner with a big party. The day dawned bright and fair, with sufficient snap in the air to add zest to the Field Day events. The afternoon jamboree completed the day’s festivities and as the curtain fell the entire ship’s company expressed in words or actions their thanks to all. Thus was another link forged our chain of important events. When our baptismal fire is upon us, we feel certain that by such displayed unity of action our anchor of faith in our purpose will find all tried and true.”

Tarheel, April 11, 1942

1943 – Pearl Harbor

“0700 Following message was addressed to all hands – Happy Birthday NORTH CAROLINA. May we serve you as well during the coming years as you have served us during your first two years of life.”

LT(jg) Ed Gallagher, USN, in the Ship’s Deck Log

1944 – Anchored in Majuro Atoll. Mr. Howard Norton, war correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, reported aboard. In honor of the anniversary the ship’s company dined on mixed olives, sweet pickles, cream of tomato soup, croutons, roast young tom turkey, oyster dressing, baked Virginia [ham], pineapple sauce, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, candied sweet potatoes, whipped potatoes, buttered asparagus, French peas, cardinal salad, parker house rolls, bread, butter, apple pie ala mode, coffee, oranges, apples. Cigarettes, cigars.

1945 booklet

1945 – Steaming with Task Group 58.2 operating east of Okinawa

The Ship issued a booklet highlighting bombardments, air attacks and campaigns to date with a list of the commanding and executive officers. “It is our wish that all who have contributed to our cruise be honored by this anniversary publication.”

April 10 1945