Tag Archives: war effort

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

Battle of Okinawa

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Battleship Firing on Okinawa

 March 23, 1945

“Launched strikes this morning against Okinawa but had to call them off this afternoon because of bad weather. All the battleships will bombard tomorrow. We expect to bombard from 10 o’clock in the morning until 4 o’clock in the afternoon cruising at 20 knots. The battleships will leave the carriers at midnight tonight.”

Jack Lee Westphal, Seaman 1/c

March 24, 1945

“Pulled into Okinawa Jima around 08:00 and started our bombardments. WISCONSIN, MISSOURI, NEW JERSEY, INDIANA, MASSACHUSETTS, SOUTH DAKOTA, WASHINGTON AND NORTH CAROLINA all bombarded until around 16:00. We got all our targets. No shore batteries or antiaircraft fire was observed from the island. The Marines are landing tomorrow and the 10th Army around the 1st of April. I can’t understand the Japanese not fighting.”

Private George Kietzman, USMC

“Today we bombarded Okinawa Jima. Our 16-inch started at 0900 and kept it up until 1600. The noise was terrific. Only one plane came out. Can’t figure it out. Our troops are going to land the 1st.

John Lipke, USMC

Bombardment

“The new international grid system was used for the first time by this ship and found to be a definite improvement…. The aerial photographs of the target area were reproduced and distributed…however none were available of the coastline in this ship’s firing area and topside personnel had little information as to the appearance of the island prior to the approach and bombardment.”

Action Report

Turret 1 firing

“During the bombardment “a slow rate of fire with single turret salvos was employed to insure the maximum use of information received from the spotting planes.” The ship expended a total of 158 rounds for the day with firing ranges varying from 14,770 to 21,830 yards.

Shuri Castle

“Since no damage could be observed by spotting planes, after the third single turret salvo, fire was shifted to what is believed by the air spotter [LT Al Oliver] to be an antique fort.” (Action Report) Commander Oliver recalled, “I asked that we take on that complex under fire. I feared that it was being used as a hospital or was some kind of religious site. I was no higher than 1,500 feet and was able to identify what appeared to be several women and children run from the area when the first salvo hit the building.” It turned out to be Shuri Castle, the main command center for the Japanese ground forces on Okinawa.

Map of the Island

Learn more details in “Okinawa: The Last Battle,” The War in the Pacific, by Roby E. Appleman, James M. Burns, Russell A. Gugeler, and John Stevens. Historical Division, Department of the Army, 1948.