Navy Eliminating 241-Year-Old Rating System in New Enlisted Rank Overhaul

29 Sep

In a bit of unexpected irony, after spending a fair part of my summer reviewing and documenting the ratings earned by the crewmen of USS Tryon, I was somewhat surprised that today the Navy announced it is doing away with the 241-year-old rating system, in favor of a system that will allow more flexibility in duty assignments,  “inclusivity with respect to diversity,” gender neutrality,  and better training and experience for post-enlistment employment.   According to the Navy, the old rating system is outdated, with many of the current ratings being obsolete.   Navy will move from Rating Titles to alpha-numeric Navy Occupational Specialty (NOS) codes.  The phase-in of the new system is expected to take place over a period of several years.   An explanation from the US Naval Institute article, “Navy Eliminating 241-Year-Old Rating System in New Enlisted Rank Overhaul” follows:

 

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Washington, D.C. (April 27, 2006) – The five finalists in the Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year competition are pictured on the grounds of the Netherlands Carillon in Washington D.C. Pictured from left to right is Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Aaron P. Clifford, Aviation Warfare System Operator 1st Class Robert F. Weber, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class David L. Worrell, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Richard F. George, and Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Todd P. Brooks. Hospital Corpsman 1st Class David L. Worrell was selected as the 2006 Reserve Sailor of the Year. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Michael Moriatis (RELEASED)

After more than 200 years, the Navy is making a fundamental change in how it will address its enlisted sailors, according to a notification on the new policy obtained by USNI News.

Starting today, the service will shelve the rating system it adopted from the U.K. Royal Navy, stop referring to sailors by their job titles and adopt a job classification in line with the Army, Marine Corps and the Air Force.

For example, under the new rules The Hunt for Red October character Sonar Technician Second Class Ronald “Jonesy” Jones – ST2 Jones for short – would be Petty Officer Second Class Jones or Petty Officer Jones. Machinist’s Mate First Class Jake Holman – MM1 Holman– from the novel and film The Sand Pebbles would be Petty Officer First Class Holman or Petty Officer Holman.

The change comes as Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has pushed the Department of the Navy to create gender-neutral titles for positions like rifleman and motorman.

(Read the rest of the article here)

Comprehensive Officer and Crew Rosters for USS Tryon

21 Sep

 

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USS Tryon, the South Pacific Express

I have completed tabulation of Tryon’s officer and crew rosters, and at the bottom of this post is a link to the rosters.   They are made up of data found on Tryon’s Muster Rolls and Reports of Changes.  These documents are available on Ancestry.com and Fold3.com.  For the officer list I used the list compiled by Mac Perry in his book, “The South Pacific Express.”  Utilizing these records I was able to determine that from the time of her commissioning on September 30, 1942 to the time of her decommissioning on March 20, 1946, a period of  three years, five months and twenty days, Tryon was served by 1063 crew members and about 160 officers.

The muster rolls and change reports contain quite a bit of personal information on each sailor, and I tried to include as much of this as I could in a condensed form.

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Example of Muster Roll, USS Tryon, 9 October 1942

The crew roster reads as follows from left to right: sailor’s name, service number, ratings held while aboard Tryon, enlistment date and location of enlistment when available, the date received on board Tryon, the date the sailor was detached, and relevant notes pertaining to their time of service aboard Tryon.  Not all sailors have their enlistment date and location of enlistment included.  Reports of Changes stopped including this information in October, 1944; those joining Tryon from that time forward don’t include enlistment data.

I used a few notations to help add information to the roster.  An asterisk (*) indicates that there is a note regarding the preceding entry.  For instance, an asterisk next to a rating entry probably will lead to a note indicating that the sailor received a rating reduction; an asterisk next to the detachment date means there is a note regarding the reason for being detached or the location of re-assignment.

15-USWorldWarIINavyMusterRolls19381949_1942_T_Tryon_64731072

Example of Report of Changes, USS Tryon, 19 October 1942

Some detachment dates are in brackets.  These are sailors who left Tryon for medical treatment (or in a few cases, temporary reassignment) and did not return to Tryon.  Most that left Tryon for these reasons did return, and in those cases I simply removed the detachment date and entered the date of their permanent detachment later.  But those that didn’t return I left in brackets.

Under Notes, occasionally you will find an entry similar to this: C20/F20:6/26/43.  This notation indicates that the sailor had received a disciplinary action.  The “C” indicates days of confinement – in this case, 20 days.  “F” refers to a fine, in dollars;  here it was for $20.  The fines were usually broken up into several payments – say, $5 per month for four months in this example.  The date that follows is the date of the disciplinary action.  Disciplinary actions on occasion also included bread and water rations during confinement.  This may sound a bit harsh and archaic to modern minds, but bread and water rations are still included as a non-judicial punishment in the Uniform Code of Military Justice today.

There are a few cases of sailors moving from enlisted status to warrant officer status during their time aboard Tryon.  In such cases I listed his “detachment” date as the date of his warrant.  Actually these men did not leave the ship on that date; rather, they were moved from the enlisted roster to the officer’s roster.  I admit, I did not compare lists to make sure every warrant officer from the enlisted list ended up on the officer’s list – but in the cases that I checked, they did.

I used color coding to highlight special cases.  In the “Received On Board” column, YELLOW highlighting identifies the men that were aboard Tryon at the time of her commissioning – or at least prior to her  initial cruise from San Francisco to San Diego.  These men qualify as “plankowners” – a Navy term for individuals who were part of the crew of a naval ship when that ship was placed in commission.

In the “Detached from Tryon” column, GREEN indicates sailors who remained aboard Tryon from the time of her commissioning to the end of the war – 2 September 1945 or later.  LIGHT BLUE highlights those that were on board Tryon at her decommissioning on 20 March 1946.  DARKER BLUE signifies a subset of the light blue group who remained on board an additional week to finish up the final tasks required for decommissioning.  There were two men who served aboard Tryon from her commissioning to her decommissioning, John Ralph Gibbons, Jr. and Herman Mike Gallelo, and they are highlighted in VIOLET; one lone sailor, John David Grandpre, was part of Tryon’s crew from day one at commissioning, remained aboard until decommissioning, and was among the group that remained aboard an extra week to complete decommissioning duties.  His detachment date is highlighted in PURPLE.  His story is worth reviewing.

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Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 10 December 1941. USS Arizona can be seen lower right, submerged, a heavy issue of fuel oil seeping from her submerged bunkers. At the other end of the row USS Maryland can be seen still moored to the quays; on her port side is the capsized USS Oklahoma.

Unlike most crewmen on board Tryon, John David Grandpre, who went by Jack, was regular navy (USN), not naval reserve (USNR).  Born and raised in Spink County, South Dakota, he enlisted on 19 November 1940, just three days after his eighteenth birthday.  His first ship assignment was the battleship USS Oklahoma, where he joined his brother, Arthur Matthew Grandpre, who at that point had already been serving aboard Oklahoma for about a year.  Both were aboard Oklahoma on the morning of 7 December 1941, moored in position Fox 5 on Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor.   Like so many others, they were probably just shaking sleep off and thinking about breakfast when they heard the whine of aircraft engines followed by massive explosions as bombs dropped nearby. Immediately following, three torpedoes struck Oklahoma, causing massive destruction.  Within twelve minutes she had capsized and sunk, hit by a total of twelve torpedoes in all, her hull held above the water as her masts struck the soft bottom of the harbor.  Japanese airmen strafed her crew as they frantically tried to abandon ship.  In all, Grandpre lost 429 shipmates that morning, including his brother Arthur, who was just twenty-one years old.

The remains of only 35 of the 429 Oklahoma sailors that lost their lives that day were identified; the remains of the remaining 388 were buried in local cemeteries.  In 1950, all unidentified remains from Oklahoma were disinterred and reburied in 61 caskets in 45 graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  

More recently, due to modern advances in DNA analysis,  the Department of Defense determined that it may now be possible to identify remains that at one time could not be identified.  As a result, in April, 2015 they announced that remains of crew members from USS Oklahoma would be disinterred in an attempt to identify the remains and return them to their families.  In June, 2015 four graves were disinterred to begin this process.  In January 2016 the Navy announced that it had been successful in identifying the first five of these remains, and that they were returned to their families.

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Arthur Matthew Grandpre, brother of Tryon crewman John David Grandpre. The Grandpre brothers were shipmates aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when she was sunk at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. John David Grandpre managed to survive the attack; Arthur did not. Arthur was among the 429 dead from Oklahoma. John David, who went by Jack, was the crewman aboard Tryon longer than any other.

The fact that Pearl Harbor was a shallow water anchorage enabled the US Navy to put all but two ships that were damaged that day back into service.  Oklahoma was refloated, but by 1944 the decision was made to decommission the ship, and she was sold to Moore Dry Dock, the same ship-building company that had constructed Tryon.  In 1947 Two tugboats were assigned the task of removing Oklahoma to the Moore Dry Dock shipyard in Oakland, CA.  On the return trip, 500 miles out from Hawaii, the trio of ships encountered a severe storm that caused Oklahoma to take on water and eventually sink, nearly taking the tugs down with her.

I, along with many Oklahomans, take special interest and pride in this ship that was the namesake of our great state.  In 2007 a friend of mine led a group of Navy JROTC members  to Hawaii to participate in the dedication of a USS Oklahoma war memorial on Ford Island.  In this way we know that USS Oklahoma is gone, but not forgotten.

Days after the Pearl Harbor attack Grandpre was transferred to the heavy cruiser USS Northampton, and seven months later to munitions ship USS Shasta for transport back to San Francisco.  Subsequently he received orders to report to new construction – USS Tryon.

After the war Grandpre remained in the Navy and served aboard several ships, including USS Renville and USS Hooper Island.  He achieved the rank of chief  warrant officer before he retired from the navy in 1960.  After retirement he and his family settled in Connecticut, and lived there till his death in 2004.

There were a  handful of sailors that I could find no detachment date for.  These men were all aboard after 1/1/1946.  I’m guessing that a two-page Report of Changes is missing from the hundreds of pages of documents I went through.  This would account for the twenty four or so sailors without detachment dates.  In any event, these are highlighted in LIGHT RED.

In the Notes column one entry is highlighted in ORANGE.  It is the note for  John Willis Hill, Jr.  What makes his story noteworthy is that he was discharged from the crew of Tryon for being underage!  He was detached from Tryon on 12 July 1944, a week before his SIXTEENTH birthday!!  One can’t help wondering what tricks were used that allowed him to enlist at such a young age.  Hill enlisted on 5 February 1944 in Lubbock, TX.  He made it through boot camp and training, received a rating of Seaman Second Class, and was transferred to New Caledonia where he joined Tryon on 29 May 1944.  He sailed aboard Tryon for a month and a half, visiting Guadalcanal and Auckland, but while Tryon was anchored in her assigned berth in Great Roads, Noumea, New Caledonia, orders came through for his transfer off the ship: “Transfer to nearest receiving station on West Coast of U.S. for discharge due to enlistment as minor without proper consent.  Dated 22 May 1944”  Apparently the order preceded his joining Tryon but didn’t catch up to him until after he’d spent time aboard.  World War II history is replete with anecdotes about underage warriors.  Some, such as the story of sixteen-year-old medic Virgil Mounts that was killed on Omaha beach, end in tragedy.  Mounts used his older brother’s driver’s license as proof of age and joined the Navy at fifteen.  He joined the Sixth Naval Beach Battalion as a corpsman; the Sixth provided triage and casualty evacuation for Army assault troops of the 1st Infantry Division (the “Big Red One”) at the Easy Red sector of Omaha Beach.

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Retired Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Frank H. Walden, partner of Virgil Mounts on 6 June 1944 and D-Day survivor. Photo taken on 6 June 2012 when Walden received a Bronze Star for his valor on that 6 June sixty-eight years before.

That morning, Mounts and his partner, Frank Walden, made it safely  ashore.  From a position of cover they witnessed the explosion of a German shell  that injured two army personnel carrying a stretcher.  Without regard for personal safety, Mounts and Walden left the relative security of their shelter and crossed open ground to render aid to the wounded men.  A second shell hit nearby; shrapnel from the second shell killed Mounts instantly.  The shrapnel that killed Mounts also hit Walden in the arm, collarbone, back and leg, but Walden survived his wounds.

Thankfully, the story of John Willis Hill, Jr. has a happier ending.  He was sent home, and I can find no indication he made further attempts to join the war effort.  After the war he entered the ministry and was credentialed in the Church of God in 1954.  He pastored in thirteen churches, and ministered as an evangelist in nine states and several countries around the world.  He married Mildred (a marriage that would last 71 years), and they had five children.  One of them, Tim, followed his father into ministry in the Church of God.  He currently serves as the General Overseer of the denomination.

At the time of John’s passing he and Mildred had ten grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren.  John Wallis Hill, Jr. passed away just this year, on 19 May 2016, at 87, having lived a long, full, rewarding life.

Two young warriors – one life ending in tragedy, one in triumph – but both young men demonstrating tremendous courage and honor and patriotism, offering their lives in service to their country.

**********

Less explanation is required for the Officers list.  Officers are grouped according to the position that they held on Tryon.  Where possible I tried to include the date received aboard and date detached, however, these dates weren’t available for all.

In some cases officers held more than one position during their time on Tryon– that of Commander Carl E. Morck, for instance, who served as both executive officer and commanding officer – and those are listed more than once, in each position held.  If an officer was received on board holding one positi0n but detached in another, I recorded the date they were receive on board next to the first position, and placed x’s in the date detached column next to it, and visa versa in the second position held.

So that’s it!  I hope you find who you’re looking for!!  Please leave a comment if you do.

Tryon Comprehensive Crew Roster01_1

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     If you or your family member served aboard Tryon, or if for another reason you’re interested in Tryon, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment so that we can communicate further.
     If you have a comment, correction, anecdote or story related to this or any other post, please be sure to leave a comment. I enjoy nothing more than hearing from others that share an interest in this most pivotal time in world history.
     And thanks for taking time to check out my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.

USS Tryon Honor Roll

30 May

On this Memorial Day 2016, I would like to pay tribute to the men of USS Tryon with the initiation of the USS Tryon Honor Roll.  I will be adding photos of the officers and crew of Tryon as I am able to find them.  I will also include photos that are provided to me by family members of Tryon’s crew, and I hope that this attempt to salute these men will grow with time.

 

 

 

Tryon Officers

Officers of USS Tryon.  Photo is undated and unlabeled;  the only men I am able to identify from this photo are Executive Officer H.T. Doughty on the far left of front row, and Mac Perry, on the far right of front row.  I assume that the officer third from the right in the front row is the captain, who, based on the presence Doughty and Perry, would have to be A.J. Byrholdt, although he doesn’t look very much like the pics I posted of him before.

 

Martin Collliers Bruster Carpenter Feb 15 1945

PhM3c Samuel James Martin; S1c Fred Dean Collier; PhM1c Keith Marshall Bruster; HA1c John Eugene Carpenter. Unfortunately, which is which is not immediately clear.

 

Dad with Sailors on board the USS Tryon

Unlabeled and undated photo of Tryon Crewmembers.  EM1c Dallas Allen back row, third from right;  EM2c Fred Hughes – front right

 

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Untitled and undated photo of Tryon crew members. EM1c Dallas Allen front right;  BM2c Matthew Capritta back row, second from right.

 

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Coxswain Noe Rodriguez Garza; Lieutenant Mack Perry; Coxswian Apolonio Pompeyo Solis

 

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Coxswain Hugh L. Armes; Lieutenant Mac Perry; BM2c Matthew Capritta

 

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EM1c Dallas Vernon Allen with unidentified Tryon sailor

CONCISE FACTUAL HISTORY OF THE U.S.S. TRYON

28 Jul
     As the Pacific war finally drew to an end, the Secretary of the Navy sent out a theater-wide memo, ALPAC 202, requesting a concise war history from each of the Navy’s ships. Although I have been unsuccessful in locating the original ALPAC (a dispatch to all commands and personnel in the Pacific Ocean Areas), I have reviewed the concise histories from a number of ships responding to the ALPAC, and the headings found on these all follow a nearly identical form:

 

From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Secretary of the Navy.
Subject: Concise Factual History of the U.S.S. _______.
Reference : (a) ALPAC 202, dated 14 September 1945.
Enclosure : (A) Concise Factual History of the U.S.S. _______.
l. In accordance with Reference (a), Enclosure (A) is
forwarded herewith.

 

     The Tryon report provided a date for the ALPAC of 14 August, 1945, but I believe that to be incorrect. All other reports that I reviewed that included a date for the ALPAC (not all did – several listed the reference simply as ALPAC 202, or ALPAC 202-45) indicated a date of 14-16 September 1945. It makes sense that the collection of war histories would be a post-war endeavor.

 

     After the uniformity of the headings, however, it is remarkable how much the reports themselves vary in format. Some are brief, completed in only a page or two [1], while others are quite lengthy, including nearly every port of call during the course of the war [2]. One interesting history was from a ship completed late in the war on the east coast. USS Iolanda was en route to the Pacific via the Panama Canal for the first time when the war ended. That report made the point that they didn’t celebrate war’s end on the ship, presumably because of their disappointment not having the opportunity to engage the enemy. [3]

 

     Fortunately, Tryon’s concise history is very well written and includes many useful details. The author (who is not identified) starts the report by relating how the hull that would become Tryon was originally laid down as the Alcoa Courier, but was requisitioned by the Navy, initially to become the USS Comfort, a true (by Geneva Convention) hospital ship. This plan was scrapped to allow for the creation of a new class of ship, the evacuation transport, of which Tryon would become the first, and the namesake for the class. This is followed by a brief description of Tryon’s activities, assignments, and ports of call. Tryon’s dry dock and overhaul history is explained, and her war-time captains are listed (Tryon would receive yet another new skipper shortly after this report was written).

 

     The organization of the Medical Department and their function was given considerable attention. Differentiation was made between the early function of the Medical Department and it’s operation later in the war. During her first two years of service Tryon’s Medical Department provided medical care during the evacuation of “thoroughly processed” patients to rear areas – with Tryon serving essentially as a floating ambulance. Later, beginning with the invasion of Tinian Island, Tryon “operated for the first time as a front-line hospital transport entering the combat areas assault loaded with cargo and personnel acting in the capacity of an APA [an attack transport ship, designed to carry troops and cargo to the invasion site], later receiving the wounded directly from the beaches . . . operating as an APH [evacuation transport].”

 

     Ample detail was given to Tryon’s overhaul, which was done in Alameda, CA from March to May, 1945, and had been completed just four months prior to the writing of the report. Air-conditioning of the hospital bays, so badly needed during Tryon’s operation in tropical waters, was at last installed – but would never see use during an evacuation. It also reports the addition of “wiremesh enclosed bunks . . . for the confinement and handling of mental patients,” a rather lurid arrangement by today’s standards.

 

     Unfortunately, these improvements in the ship’s comforts and capabilities came too late for most of the patients transported aboard Tryon. By the time of her return to the war zone in June, 1945 the war was winding down, and she would not be used again in her earlier capacity. But she would see action of a different type before completion of her war duties – Tryon served in the very important role of transporting “Recovered Allied Military Personnel,” i.e., POWs, from Japan back to the United States, in what was called “Operation Magic Carpet,” although at the time of the report she had not returned stateside yet, and had removed them only as far as the Philippines.

 

     The writer concludes this portion of the report by saying, “Deaths during the entire operational period totaled forty-eight.” Given that 10,652 patients were carried aboard Tryon, many being those that required the most rigorous medical attention, that single sentence pays well-deserved tribute to the tireless work of the Medical Department in seeing that our wounded servicemen were given the utmost care possible.

 

     The report proceeds with “the recapitulation of patients, troops and passengers carried,” classifying by nationality, service, gender, and rank, from the time of Tryon’s commissioning to the time of the report: a total of 10,652 patients and 64,456 troops and passengers, for a grand total of 75,108 individuals transported aboard Tryon.

 

     Following the patient and troop recapitulation is a listing of the normal compliment of officers and crew (a total of 449), transportation capacity (1036 troops and patients), and concludes with general characteristics of Tryon that include some interesting operational details.

 

     Near the end the report addresses a topic of interest in light of one of the subjects in my the previous post – the presence of landing craft aboard Tryon. Contrary to what I wrote about landing boats there, this report reveals that Tryon carried four landing boats even prior to overhaul in the spring of 1945 – three LCVP (Landing Craft, vehicle, Personnel, A.K.A. “Higgins Boats”) and one LCPR (Landing Craft, Personnel, Ramped). According to the report, during the invasions that Tryon participated in beginning in 1944, “Unloading of troops and cargo and loading of patients was effected by supplementing our boat supply with borrowed boats from neighboring APA’s and AKA’s. As a result, loading and unloading was hardly conducive to maximum efficiency, however, during the period of availability in March, April and May 1945 the total number of ship’s boats was brought up to eighteen (18) . . .”

 

     Finally, in a concluding bit of “Tryon Trivia,” the author shares these fun facts: “At this writing, the U.S.S. TRYON has steamed a total of 181,938 miles through the Pacific waters having spent 10,910 hours underway. She has used a total of 9,962,925 gallons of fuel, 6,505,848 gallons of which was consumed underway and 3,457,077 gallons during her 14,057 hours not underway.

 

     I’ve transcribed Tryon’s history for easier reading but include the original documents at the end of post.

 

                                      **********

 
APH1/A12-1                U.S.S. TRYON (APH-1)

CONFIDENTIAL            30 September 1945

From: The Commanding Officer.

To: The Secretary of the Navy.

Subject: Concise Factual History of the U.S.S. TRYON (APH-1).

Reference : (a) ALPAC 202, dated 14 August 1945.

Enclosure : (A) Concise Factual History of the U.S.S. TRYON (APH-1). l. In accordance with Reference (a), Enclosure (A) is forwarded herewith.

 

 

JOHN H. VAN GELDER

 

 

Copies to:

       SecNav (Orig.)
       CincPac.
       AdComPhibsPac. [4]

 

                                      **********

 

APH1/A12-1         U.S.S. TRYON (APH-1)

CONCISE FACTUAL HISTORY OF THE U.S.S. TRYON  (APH-1)
CONFIDENTIAL               30 September 1945

 

     At the out-break of the recent WAR the present U.S.S. TRYON was being constructed by MOORE DRY DOCK COMPANY, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA and according to specifications by the ALUMINUM COMPANY OF AMERICA.  She was launched late in 1940 as United Maritime Commission Hull, number 175 and as Moore Hull number 201.  She was to have been the S.S. ALCOA-COURIER, a passenger-cargo vessel of the modified C-2 design, now known as  design  Z-C2-S1-A1.

 

     Early in 1942 the United States Navy purchased her and immediately made plans for conversion to the U.S.S. COMFORT, a Navy Hospital Ship. However, it was only a matter of a few weeks before officials decided that she should wear a coat of war paint instead of the enemy-attracting white with Red Cross markings.  Thus, a new type of Navy ship was born – the APH, a combat-hospital evacuation vessel, a mercy ship with a double job – supporting invasions with fresh troops and saving the lives of those wounded in action by rendering expert and adequate medical attention in well equipped facilities only a matter of minutes from the beachhead. A new name was demanded so the U.S S . TRYON (APH-1) was commissioned 29 September 1942, taking the name of a famous Naval surgeon general.

 

      Two sister ships, the U.S.S. PINKNEY (APH-2) and the U.S.S RIXEY (APH-3) ware commissioned approximately three (3) and six (6) months later and to date the three ships hold the distinction of being the Navy’s only ships of its class. Nevertheless no one can deny that the APH was an experiment that has definitely succeeded.

 

    She was put in commission with Commander A. J. BYRHOLDT, USN, as commanding officer and ordered to duty in the Pacific.  With her numerous twenty millimeter, forty millimeter, three inch and five inch anti-aircraft weapons; eight degrees raked masts; and streamlined superstructure, the eighteen knot ship presented a business like appearance.  She sailed from San Francisco Bay on 9 October 1942 for San Diego, California and from San Diego, 20 October 192,  bound for Noumea New Caledonia.  She was temporarily assigned to ComSerRonSoPac and served continuously under this command until 10 April 1944, evacuating casualties from Combat areas to hospitals in Suva, Fiji Islands, Noumea, New Caledonia, Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand and carrying priority cargo and passengers on return trips to combat areas.

 

     On 10 April 1944, the TRYON was assigned to Commander Task Force 76, for temporary duty, being ordered by this command to report to ComThird Fleet 11 May 1944,  who immediately returned the TRYON to ComSerRonSoPac.  Serving under this command until 16 July 1944, at which time she was ordered to Commander Task Force 51 for the invasion of Saipan and Tinian

 

                                                   – 1 –
                                        ENCLOSURE (A) [5]

 

                                               **********

 

                                    U.S.S. TRYON APH-1
CONFIDENTIAL

 

in the Marianas.  Returning to ComSerRonSoPac 12 August 1944, TRYON was ordered to ComThirdFlt to ComGroupFivePhibsPac to ComTransGroupThree FifthPhib for the invasion of Peleliu Island Palau Group. 11 October 1944,  She reported to ComSeventhFlt for duty taking part in the invasion of Leyte and Langayen Gulf, Philippine Islands under this command.  Since that time the TRYON has served under ComTransRonTwelve ComPhibsGroupFour, ComSerPac, ComPhibTraPac, ComWesSeaFron, CinCPac AdvHdqs, ComThirdPhib, ComTransRonThirteen and ComPhibGroupTwelve.

 

     The TRYON dry docked for the first time 18 March 1943 in Wellington, New Zealand and a second time 12 January 1944, in Wellington, New Zealand. On 11 March 1945, She arrived in San Francisco, California for the first time since 9 October 1942, having spent 29 months in the Pacific and having traveled well over 160,000 miles.  During the ensuing 69 days she underwent general overhaul and conversion at General Engineering and Dry Dock Company, Alameda, California under supervision of the Assistant Industrial manager, San Francisco, California. 21 May 1945, the U.S.S. TRYON sailed again for San Diego, California for ten (10) days refresher training, departing San Diego, 3 June 1945, transporting for the first time in its history United States service women.

 

     On 24 September 1944, Commander C . E. Morck, USNR, relieved Commander A. J. Byrholdt , USN, as  commanding officer . 12 December 1944 Commander W. G. Jones, USN, relieved Commander C . E. Morck, USNR, as commanding officer. 1 June 1945 Commander W. G. Jones USN, was relieved as commanding officer by Lieutenant Commander J. G. Van Gelder, under whose command She now sails.

 

     The Medical Department of this vessel was organized upon commissioning of the ship on 29 September 1942, at which time there were 11Medical Officers, 2 Dental Officers and 48 Hospital Corpsmen attached.  compliment was later reduced to 6 Medical officers, 1 Dental Officer and 2 Warrant Officers of the Hospital Corps.  In the phases of the war the primary duty of the Medical Department was the evacuation of casualties to rear areas during the occupation and consolidation of the Southern and Northern Solomons.  The patients received and handled during this period had been thoroughly processed and the relatively small staff of Medical Officers and Hospital Corpsmen was sufficient.

 

     On 24 July 1944, during the assault and occupation of Tinian Island in the Marianas, the Medical Department of this vessel functioned for the first time as a front-line hospital transport entering the combat areas assault loaded with cargo and personnel acting in the capacity of an APA. later receiving the wounded directly from the beaches and Other vessels and evacuating them as before operating as an APH. No  additional Hospital Corpsmen had been furnished although the staff of Medical  Officers at that time numbered twelve.  In the succeeding amphibious

 

                                                         – 2 –
                                               ENCLOSURE (A)[6]

 

                                                   **********

 

                                         U.S.S. TRYON APH-1
CONFIDENTIAL

 

operations additional Medical Officers and Hospital Corpsmen were temporarily assigned to the vessel prior to sailing for the objective.  This procedure was successful and no shortages of personnel were hereafter encountered.

 

     Acting in the capacity of an assault hospital transport the vessel then participated in the landing of Peleliu, Leyte and Lingayen Gulf.

 

       On 11 March 1945 , the ship returned  to  the  United  States for a major Navy Yard overhaul.   At this time the entire sick bay was rearranged to more expeditiously process the patients carried.  The main Sick bay country was converted into four large wards, each having a separate air conditioning unit and having a total of 106 bunks.  Number 4 Hold, which is also air conditioned, is now considered part of the sick bay and contains 150 bunks.   One area, containing 27 wiremesh [sic] enclosed bunks with separate head facilities has been  provided to facilitate the confinement and handling of mental patients.   At the present, this ship is equipped to transport 1,033 patients of which 260 could occupy air conditioned spaces. The 260 bunks in this air conditioned area plus 47 non-air conditioned spaces are considered satisfactory for stretcher cases, the remainder for ambulatory cases.

 

      The installation of air conditioning units in these spaces, and the operating rooms, has proved invaluable in overcoming the previously grave problem of excessive heat and inadequate ventilation.

 

      The most recent function of the Medical Department has been the caring for and transporting of one thousand Recovered Allied Military Personnel. from Yokohama to Manila.  Although these men were classed as passengers, a great number required medical attention and the facilities of the department were utilized to a great advantage.

 

     Deaths during the entire operational period totaled forty-eight.

 

      The recapitulation of patients, troops and passengers carried during the period since the ship’s commissioning to the present time, listed in appropriate categories are as follows:

 

PATIENTS:

 

     American Civilians                                                                      8
     U.S. Navy – Officers                                                               304
     U. S. Navy – Enlisted                                                           4808
     U.S. Marine – Officers                                                            132
     U.S. Marine – Enlisted                                                         4289
     U.S. Coast Guard – Enlisted                                                    34
     U.S. Coast Guard – Officers                                                       2
     U.S. Army – Officers                                                               253 (continued)

 

                                                  – 3 –
                                        ENCLOSURE (A) [7]

 

                                              **********

 

                                     U.S.S. TRYON APH-1
CONFIDENTIAL

 

     U.S. Army – Enlisted                                                              308
     U.S. Merchant Marine  –  Enlisted                                           7
     U.S. Merchant Marine – Officers                                              1
     Royal Australian Army – Enlisted                                          21
     British Army – Officers                                                             18
     British Army – Enlisted                                                         426
     British Navy – Officers                                                               2
     British Navy – Enlisted                                                            19
     British Marine – Enlisted                                                          6
     British – Civilians                                                                        1
     Dutch Navy – Officers                                                                3
     Dutch Navy – Enlisted                                                               1
     Dutch Army – Enlisted                                                              3
     Norweigian[sic] Army – Office                                                 1
     Norweigian[sic] – Civilians                                                       5
                                                                                                 ________
Grand total of all patients carried aboard                            10,652
this vessel to date.  (30 September 1945)

 

TROOPS AND PASSENGERS:

 

     American Red Cross – Male                                                      8
     American Red Cross – Female                                                14
     U.S. Servicemen’s Wives                                                            8
     U.S. Servicemen’s Babies                                                           4
     U.S. Servicemen’s Children                                                       5
     Civilians – Male                                                                         27
     Civilians – Female                                                                    36
     U.S. Army – Officers                                                            1205
     U.S. Army – Enlisted                                                          15156
     U.S. Army  –  Nurses                                                                 22
     U.S. Navy – Officers                                                             1586
     U.S. Navy – Enlisted                                                         20244
     U.S. Navy – Nurses                                                                  13
     U.S Navy – Women’s Reserve – Officers                               2
     U.S. Navy Women’s  Reserve – Enlisted                             26
     U.S. Marine Corps – Officers                                               599
     U.S. Marine Corps – Enlisted                                          15585
     U.S. Marine Corps Womens[sic] Reserve – Officers          6
     U.S. Marine Corps Womens[sic] Reserve – Enlisted     120
     U.S. Coast Guard – Officers                                                     1
     U.S. Coast Guard – Enlisted                                                    8
     U.S. Coast Guard Womens[sic] Reserve – Officers            1
     U.S. Coast Guard Womens[sic] Reserve – Enlisted          21
     British Army – Officers                                                           14
     British Army – Enlisted                                                        387

 

                                                                  – 4  –
                                                       ENCLOSURE (A) [8]

 

                                                              **********

 

                                                    U.S.S. TRYON APH-1

CONFIDENTIAL

      British Navy – Officers                                                              2
      British Navy – Enlisted                                                            19
      British Civilians – Male                                                             1
      British Marine – Enlisted                                                         6
      Royal Air Force – Officers                                                         4
      Royal Air Force – Enlisted                                                      39
     Dutch Navy – Officers                                                                3
     Dutch Navy – Enlisted                                                               1
     Dutch Army – Enlisted                                                              3
     Norweigian [sic] Army – Officers                                            1
     Norweigian [sic]– Civilians                                                       5
     New Zealand Army – Officers                                              1071
     New Zealand Army – Enlisted                                            6657
     New Zealand Nurses                                                                  23
     Royal New Zealand Navy – Officers                                      15
     Royal New Zealand Navy – Enlisted                                     86
     Royal New Zealand Air Force – Officers                               13
     Royal New Zealand Air Force – Enlisted                            310
     New Zealand War Correspondant [sic]                                   1
     New Zealand Y.M.C.A.                                                               3
     Australian Army – Officer                                                       73
     Australian Army – Enlisted                                                  805
     Royal Australian Air Force – Officers                                    15
     Royal Australina [sic] Air Force – Enlisted                         21
     Free French Navy                                                                        2
     Japanese Prisoners                                                                    70
                                                                                                   ______
Grand total troops and passengers .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   64,456
Grand total patients .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    10,652
Grand total  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   75,108

The U.S.S. TRYON has a normal complement of:

     Ship’s Officers                                                                            21
     Medical Officers                                                                        10
     Boat Officers                                                                                9
     Crew and Corpsmen                                                              322
     Boat Crew                                                                                   87
     Patients or Troops                                                                   919
     Patients or Troop Officers                                                       90
     Patients or Troop N.C.O.                                                         27

 

                                                             – 5 –
                                                   ENCLOSURE (A) [9]

 

                                                     ***********

 

                                              U.S.S. TRYON APH-1
CONFIDENTIAL

 

and the following general characteristics:

 

     Overall length                                                                   450′ 2”
     Height between perpendiculars                                   420′ 0″
     Molded Breath                                                                   62′ 0″
     Molded depth to main deck                                             41′ 6″
     Molded depth to second deck                                         33′ 3″
     Molded draft.                                                                     25′ 0″
     Displacement at 25′ draft 11,745 tons
     Fuel std. Navy bunker 60/60                           267,897 gallons
     Fuel, diesel                                                             34,482 gallon
     Fresh water storage                                            117,000 gallon
     Feed water storage                                          29,000 gallon
     Maximum  speed                                                        18.5  Knot
     Cruising speed                                                            17.0  Knots
     Steaming radius                                                         6,250 mile
     Total cargo space                                                     40,003 cu.ft
     Booms – 5 ton, capacity 60′ – electrically operated

 

     During the four (4) amphibious assault landings in which this ship took part, She was equipped with only four (4) landing crafts (three (3); LCVP’s and one (1) LCPR).  Unloading of troops and cargo and loading of patients was effected by supplementing our boat supply with borrowed boats from neighboring APA’s and AKA’s.  As a result, loading and unloading was hardly conducive to maximum efficiency, however, during the period of availability in March, April and May 1945 the total number of ship’s boats was brought up to eighteen (18) and even though She has not participated in an assault amphibious landing since, experiance [sic] and constant study of the operations of APA’s indicate that the U.S.S. TRYON is more than ever fitted and capable of carrying on the perform ances of her duties as a combat-evacuation hospital transport.

 

     Since cessation of hostilities, the TRYON has been assigned duty as a transport, carrying occupational troops to Japan and returning recovered Allied Military Personnel to rear areas.

 

     At this writing, the U.S.S. TRYON has steamed a total of 181,938 miles through the Pacific waters having spent 10,910 hours underway. She has used a total of 9,962,925 gallons of fuel, 6,505,848 gallons of which was consumed underway and 3,457,077 gallons during her 14,057 hours not underway.

 

                                                                 – 6 –
                                                    ENCLOSURE (A) [10]

 

                                                             *********

 

     If you or your family member served aboard Tryon, or if for another reason you’re interested in Tryon I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment so that we can communicate further.

 

     If you have a comment, correction, anecdote or story related to this or any other post, please be sure to leave a comment. I enjoy nothing more than hearing from others that share an interest in this most pivotal time in world history.

 

     And thanks for taking time to check out my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.

 

                                                           *********

USS MENELAUS - ARL-13 Concise History

 

The

The “concise history” for USS Lamar ran 24 pages long for her one year and two months of participation in the war. Compare that to the concise history of the USS Enterprise, an aircraft carrier which remained in harm’s way for the entire period of the war, which was only 12 pages in length.

 

The war ended before USS Iolanda could get to the Pacific:

The war ended before USS Iolanda could get to the Pacific: ” News was received at sea of the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945. It was evident then that the IOLANDA would never see
action with the enemy. No celebration was held on board other than the two day holiday declared by President TRUMAN, but there was a general feeling of thanks by all hands that the vessel and her complement had been spared any loss of life by enemy action.”

 

Page 1

 

Page 2

 

Page 3

 

Page 4

 

Page 5

 

Page 6

 

Page 7

Tryon, 19 September 1942

12 Jul

“USS ‘TRYON’ HULL 201 (MC 175) ON OFFICIAL TRIAL ON SAN FRANCISCO BAY (DIMENSIONS 420′ X 62′ D.W.T. 6800) CONSTRUCTED FOR THE U.S. MARITIME COMMISSION, LATER TAKEN OVER BY THE UNITED STATES NAVY. MOORE DRY DOCK COMPANY OAKLAND, CALIF. SEPT 19, 1942”

     I recently came across this wonderful photo of Tryon that was new to me.  Taken on September 19, 1942, it shows brand-spanking new Tryon sailing in San Francisco Bay, her 48-star flag snapping smartly above the waves.  Looking sharp in fresh paint, and sailing in the relative safety of the bay, she appears carefree, if only for that brief moment, her fore and aft guns sheathed by protective covers, her crew scattered on deck, relaxed, enjoying the salt air.

But there is more of Tryon’s story to be read from this photo.  For starters, it reveals the first evidence of a problem that was to follow Tryon throughout the war – a poorly designed funnel that allowed smoke from the engines to be blown onto the after deck.  Note the trail of smoke curling over the superstructure.  Several attempts were made to correct this – when Tryon arrived in Auckland, New Zealand in April, 1943, replacement of the stack was included among the first repairs to be done. [1] Later, wind tunnel tests would be performed to help with the funnel design – but the problem was never fully resolved. The funnel would be altered yet again when Tryon was overhauled in Alameda in May of 1945. [2]

     In full display in the photo are the trademark raked masts of Tryon and her sister ships, Rixey and Pinkney.  As explained in an earlier post, the 8- degree rake of the masts was part of the design of the ship that was originally intended to be built, the Alcoa Courier, her hull laid down on March 21, 1941, months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the war.  Courier (as well as her sister ships, Corsair and Cruiser, that became Rixey and Pinkney) was to be used as a “passenger freighter,” an interesting concept developed by the Alcoa Steamship Company that added cruise ship accommodations to some of it’s ore freighters, thus allowing them to carry passengers as well as cargo.  The ships were initially designed to appeal to the eye of the passengers, with features that were more esthetic than utilitarian.  In addition to the raked masts, the ships sported gently curved clipper bows, terraced mid-ship deckhouses overhanging the hull and oval solariums surrounding their funnels.[3]  Once the U.S. entered the war, the hulls were requisitioned by the Navy and completed as naval vessels, Courier became Tryon, Corsair became Pinkney, and Cruiser became Rixey, but the characteristic features of the Alcoa design remained.  Tryon’s graceful-looking masts were shortened to the level of the crosstrees when she was overhauled in May, 1945.[4]

     Arrayed along the sides of the ship are Tryon’s lifeboats.  These were of a merchant-ship variety, with the designed purpose of saving lives in the event of calamity.   They gave Tryon a sleek appearance – but apparently not sleek enough for her crew.  In May, 1943, Mac Perry reported the following: “All hands knew now that we were headed for Guadalcanal . . . The Tryon had a new look now. With the addition of the extra 20-mm guns (20 in all now) , we had taken off the merchant-marine type life boats, cut away their davits

This interesting photo of Tryon taken in October, 1943, verifies Mac Perry's statements.  The lifeboats, along with a portion of their mounts, have been removed.  In their place, as revealed by their distinctive twin protective steel plates, are the 20mm Cannon.  Small circles mark the location of at least six of them on the starboard side of the ship.

This interesting photo of Tryon taken in October, 1943, verifies Mac Perry’s comments regarding modifications made to increase her fire power. The lifeboats, along with a portion of their mounts, have been removed.  In their place, as revealed by their distinctive twin protective steel plates, are the Oerlikon 20 mm Cannon. Small circles mark the location of at least six of them on the starboard side of the ship.

An Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, similar to the ones seen on Tryon above.

An Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, similar to the ones seen on Tryon above.

and now she was really stream-lined.  This extra space made the additional guns available.”[5]  Perry does not mention what they planned to do if caught amidships by a Japanese torpedo with a full compliment of passengers, which could mean 1,100 marines, 500 wounded and 400 crew.  Later on, during overhaul in May, 1945, Tryon’s lifeboat mounts were replaced with Welin davits, similar to those placed on Pinkney and Rixey as original equipment.  In place of the less functional lifeboats Tryon could now carry landing boats, capable of delivering troops, medical personnel, or supplies to the beach.  Mac had expressed his disregard for these earlier,

Tryon, 18 May 1945, after Welin davits for use with landing boats had been mounted.

Tryon soon after overhaul, 18 May 1945, with Welin davits for use with landing boats now mounted.  Also not the shortened masts.

Although I have not found a photo of Tryon with a full compliment of landing boats, this aerial photo of USS Hamblin (APA 114) shows how landing boats must have been positioned on Tryon (and her sister ships).

Although I have not found a photo of Tryon, Pinkney or Rixey with a full compliment of landing boats, this aerial photo of USS Hamblin (APA 114) shows how landing boats were  likely were arranged on Tryon (and her sister ships).

though: “On March 5th [1943] the Solace came in with 400 patients and our sister ship, the Pickney [sic] with another 400 patients.  Soon after she docked, a group of us went aboard to see what changes they had made in the yard before she sailed from the states [Pinkney would not leave San Diego for the war zone until 27 January 1943; Rixey departed south on 19 February.  Tryon had departed San Diego for the South Pacific on October 20, 1942].  She had 18 landing boats [three Welin davits on either side of the ship, each with three landing boats], which made her top-heavy, used the covered portion of the weather deck as part of the hospital country, used the upper wardroom for ship’s officers, and was all cluttered up.  Had dinner aboard with Smith, an engineering officer we knew at San Francisco. Their meals nor service could touch that of the Tryon, and despite their warm hospitality all of us were glad to get back to the Tryon and pleased as punch that we had duty aboard the old T instead of her sister.”[6]  Later, he reported: ”Reached Noumea on the afternoon of the 9th [March, 1943] and our sister ship, the Rixey, was in port. She too was top-heavy with landing boats just as was the Pinckney [sic].” [7] Perry was detached from Tryon on 11 July 1944 (and, as he reported, never saw her again), so he was spared the indignity of a “topheavy” Tryon.

     So the Tryon captured in the photograph of 19 September 1942 would change significantly before the war’s end late in 1945.  To put the time of this photo in a little perspective, it was taken ten days before the Navy took possession Tryon, eleven days before Tryon was commissioned, twenty-one days before Tryon left San Francisco for San Diego, and thirty-one before she would leave San Diego for the South Pacific.  Forty-nine days after this photo Tryon glided for the first time into a berth in Great Road, the pristine harbor off Noumea, New Caledonia, beginning the odyssey that would lead her safely through the war.

*********

If you or your family member served aboard Tryon, or if for another reason you’re interested in Tryon, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment so that we can communicate further.

If you have a comment, correction, annecdote or story related to this or any other post, please be sure to leave a comment. I enjoy nothing more than hearing from others that share an interest in this most pivital time in world history.

And thanks for taking time to check out my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.

*********

[1] “The South Pacific Express.” Pg. 31.

[2] http://www.shipscribe.com/usnaux/APH/APH01-p.html

[3] Friedman, Norman. U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis,MD: Naval Institute, 2002. Pp. 64-5.

[4] http://www.shipscribe.com/usnaux/APH/APH01-p.html

[5] “The South Pacific Express.” Pg. 36.

[6] “The South Pacific Express.” Pg. 31.

[7] “The South Pacific Express.” Pg. 32.

Killed By A Match

12 Aug

Have you seen the Centrum Silver commercial that talks about how sensitive to light your eyes can be?  The narrative goes something like this:  “Your eyes – even at a distance of ten miles, the length of 146 football fields, they can see the light of a single candle.  Your eyes are amazing.”  I’ve done some checking, and the claim appears to be true; some sources say you can see a candle at much greater distances – up to thirty miles!  So, ten miles (which happens to be 176 football fields, not 146, unless you include the end zones) appears to be a reasonable claim.

Each time I see that commercial I am reminded of a story from a book I read last winter entitled Japanese Destroyer Captain, by Tameichi Hara. Before relating the story, here’s a brief description of the book and of Hara:

0008994_japanese-destroyer-captain

“This highly regarded war memoir was a best seller in both Japan and the United States during the 1960s and has long been treasured by historians for its insights into the Japanese side of the surface war in the Pacific. The author was a survivor of more than one hundred sorties against the Allies and was known throughout Japan as the “Unsinkable Captain.” A hero to his countrymen, Capt. Hara exemplified the best in Japanese surface commanders: highly skilled (he wrote the manual on torpedo warfare), hard driving, and aggressive. Moreover, he maintained a code of honor worthy of his samurai grandfather, and, as readers of this book have come to appreciate, he was as free with praise for American courage and resourcefulness as he was critical of himself and his senior commanders.” [1]

Tameichi Hara

Tameichi Hara

Hara received his naval training at the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy at Etajima, graduating in 1921.  In the 1930s, while serving as a surface warfare instructor Hara was dissatisfied with the success rate of Japan’s excellent Mark 93 (aka “Long Lance”) torpedoes, so he rewrote the Japanese torpedo doctrine.  In doing so he dramatically improved the success rate – and deadliness – of Japan’s torpedoes.[2]  As captain of three ships over the course of the war – first the destroyer Amatsukaze, then the destroyer Shigure, and late in the war, the light cruiser Yahagi – he was in command of a ship participating in every major naval battle of the Pacific war: Empress Augusta Bay, Coral Sea, the invasion of the Philippines, Guadalcanal, Savo Island, and Midway. In the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal his ship Amatsukaze sank the USS Barton. [3]  On the night of 2 August 1943 Hara’s Amatsukaze was following Japanese destroyer Amagiri when Amagiri cut John F. Kennedy’s PT – 109  in two. Hara ordered his men to fire on the PT boat. [4]

IJN Light Cruiser Yahagi, the last ship commanded by Captain Hara; sunk in Operation Ten-ho

IJN Light Cruiser Yahagi, the last ship commanded by Captain Hara; sunk in Operation Ten-ho

Battleship_Yamato_under_air_attack_April_1945

Battleship Yamato under aerial bombardment, April 1945.

Three waves of American aircraft hit the Yamato with a total of twelve bombs and seven torpedoes.  Yamato capsized at 1420.   When the roll reached approximately 90°, one of the two bow magazines detonated in a tremendous explosion.  Yamato sank beneath the waves at about 1423.

Three waves of American aircraft hit the Yamato with a total of twelve bombs and seven torpedoes. Yamato capsized at 1420. When the roll reached approximately 120°, one of the two bow magazines detonated in a tremendous explosion. Yamato sank beneath the waves at 1423, taking all but 276 of her 3,332-man crew down with her.[9]

As the war’s end neared Hara commanded the light cruiser Yahagi, and was chosen to participate in Operation Ten-Go.  This last-ditch plan was to send most of Japan’s remaining ships in a naval kamikaze attack on the Allied naval forces supporting the invasion of Okinawa.  At dawn on April 7, 1945 the superbattleship Yamato, accompanied by Yahagi and nine destroyers, departed their home port of Kure, Japan, with enough fuel to reach Okinawa – but not enough to return.  Their movement was detected almost immediately by American submarines; American aircraft from carriers near Okinawa were soon in the air to meet the enemy.  The Japanese force lacked any significant air support, and the resultant battle was completely one-sided; Japan lost between 3,700 and 4,250 sailors, while the U.S. lost just twelve airmen.  Hara’s Yahagi capsized and sank at 1405, hit by twelve bombs and seven torpedoes.  Hara survived, and from the water he watched waves of American aircraft attack Yamato, until she capsized and sank at 1423, signaling the effective end of Japan’s naval involvement in the war. [5]

But years before, in the early days of World War II when Japan was enjoying success after success, Hara was the captain of the destroyer Amatsukaze. In early March, 1942, his assignment was to ply the Java Sea in search of Allied ships, particularly submarines.  The following story occurred on the night of 3 March.

“Around 2030 I saw a dim, flickering, yellowish light Several thousand meters away on Amatsukaze’s starboard bow. It blinked Once and swiftly disappeared, like the flick of a lighted match. I pulled out my pocket binoculars and gazed in the same direction. Yes, someone was on deck smoking a cigarette. I estimated the distance as 4,000 meters almost due north and forward of Amatsukaze’s course.

“The destroyer quickly picked up speed and dashed forward through the dark with all hands ready at battle stations. The target was made out to be a surfaced submarine. It was moving to the east at fairly good speed. We boosted speed to 26 knots and swung left to bring Amatsukaze on a parallel heading with the sub at a distance of 2,300 meters. Our searchlight showed the target to be a medium-sized submarine.

Amatsukaze_II

IJN Destroyer Amatzukaze; Hara commanded this ship at the outbreak of the war, and it was the ship on which this story takes place.

“ The first salvo roared. All the shells were over. The next moment, I saw two sinister lines of foam running a few feet ahead of our bows.  ”Torpedoes!”  someone shouted, and a chill went down my spine. My dread was forgotten a few seconds later when two shells of our second salvo landed on the target.  Amatsukaze was up to 30 knots, and the enemy torpedoes had missed us.

“There was a third salvo, which scored one more hit, as fire broke out on the conning tower of the submarine. The flaming ship vanished quietly into the waves.

“We swung rapidly to port and dashed to the submersion scene. Six depth charges were dropped. The sea billowed and boiled in the dark, and all was still but for the rain. There was no question about the fate of this enemy.

“We cleared out at 2345 after combing the area for possible sonar contacts. There were no signs that the sub was alive.

“Weather cleared the following day, and we returned to the scene of the night’s action, 39 miles, bearing 245 degrees from Bawean Island. This spot too, was marked by a long path of heavy oil. It rose to the surface like smoke belching from an undersea volcano. The crew was again called out to see the results of their teamwork. They were not as exhilarated as on the previous evening, but they looked contented and satisfied. While the crew was thus assembled on deck, I took the opportunity to speak to them: “You have seen the good results of our combined efforts. I am thoroughly satisfied with your fine job. We have been through much together in the months since this war started, without losing a single soul. Let us hope our good fortune may continue. You have done a fine job, but more will be expected of you from now on.

”Look at the stream of oil! That oil comes from an enemy submarine that has been turned into a huge casket for its crew of more than 100 men. They died because of the unpardonable stupidity of one man who smoked on the surfaced deck. I saw the match he lit and that gave us the initiative.

”Enemy seamanship was good. Their torpedo marksmanship was terrific. Despite all our advantage, Amatsukaze survived only by a very close shave. But for one stupid, careless man breaking blackout by smoking, this destroyer might well have been sunk and all 250 of us killed. This is war. I trust that each of you has learned a lesson from this.

“As you may know, I have been an inveterate smoker for 20 years. But last night when we sank this sub, I stopped smoking. I mention this-not to urge such stoicism on you,  but to let you remind me of my pledge whenever I am tempted to do it again.  As your skipper, I am responsible for your lives and thus I cannot afford smoking any longer.

“Now let us offer a humble prayer for our victims. Though enemy, they died for their nation and thus are deserving of our prayers.”

“After the brief prayer, I called up Ikeda, who had spotted the submarine adrift on March 2 and rewarded him with a bonus of ten yen (roughly $4) from my pocket, a package of towel, soap and cigarettes, and a certificate noting that he had earned 10 priority shore leaves. The meeting ended with an ovation for Ikeda. A number of his colleagues thronged about him with congratulations.” [6]

USS Perch under way.

USS Perch under way.

It’s a bit difficult to identify which sub was engaged by Amatsukaze in this story.  It is known that on the night of 1 March  Amatsukaze spotted the submarine USS Perch in the same general area, dropped depth charges, and reported that the sub had been sunk.  However, Perch wasn’t sunk; she was heavily damaged and put on the bottom at 147 ft.  Extensive oil loss and flooded compartments gave the appearance of a sub breaking apart.  Perch surfaced in the early hours of March 2, but again sought refuge on the sea bottom two hours before sunrise, in 200 feet of water, after being spotted on the surface by two Japanese destroyers.  Again depth charges rained around her, and again she managed to evade destruction.  Perch remained on the bottom until after dark on 2 March, when, after an hour of effort, she was able to break loose from the bottom and surface.

The crew of the USS Perch aboard the JIN Destroyer Ushio.  All 59 crew members of Perch were rescued by the Japanese and were sent to Japan; six died of malnutrition but the remainder survived the war and returned home at war's end.

The crew of the USS Perch aboard the IJN destroyer Ushio. All 59 crew members of Perch were rescued by the Japanese and were sent to Japan; six died of malnutrition during their imprisonment but the remainder survived the war and returned home at war’s end.

This time the damage was extensive, and leaking hatches left Perch unable to dive safely.  On the morning of 3 March Perch was again spotted by Japanese destroyers, which fired on her and rapidly closed.  Unable to train her damaged gun, fire torpedoes or dive, it was decided to scuttle the ship.  All crew members were removed, hatches opened, and after she was abandoned the ship sank quickly.  All crew members were picked up by the Japanese destroyers, eventually being sent to Japan to work as slave labor in the mines and factories there.  [7]

On a side note, the wreckage of USS Perch was discovered accidently by an international dive team  on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2006, off the coast of Java.  The team had been searching for the HMS Exeter when Perch was located. The wreckage of Perch now rests in 190 feet of water. [8]

Plate found on the sail of the sunken USS Perch that led to identification of the wreck.

Plate found on the sail of the sunken USS Perch that led to identification of the wreck.

So, was Perch the submarine sunk in Hara’s story?  Most researchers don’t think so.  The details of the last days of Perch don’t quite coincide with the story told by Hara.  Perch was scuttled in the morning of 3 March; Hara’s story took place that night. Some researchers suggest that it may have been a Dutch sub – but I’ve been unable to find any sunk in that area on that date, or that are unaccounted for.  At this point the target in the story above remains a mystery.

Whatever the case, the light from a single match, seen from four thousand meters (about two and a half miles) away, led to the sinking of a gallant Allied warship.  It was a ship killed by a match.

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If you or your family member served aboard Tryon, or if for another reason you’re interested in Tryon, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment so that we can communicate further.

If you have a comment, correction, annecdote or story related to this or any other post, please be sure to leave a comment. I enjoy nothing more than hearing from others that share an interest in this most pivital time in world history.

And thanks for taking time to check out my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.

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[1]  United States Naval Institute Bookstore: Japanese Destroyer Captainhttp://www.usni.org/store/books/audio-books/japanese-destroyer-captain

[2]   Hara, Tameichi. Japanese Destroyer Captain: Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Midway – the Great Naval Battles as Seen through Japanese Eyes. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 2007. Print. Pp. 28-30.

[3]  Wikipedia – “Tameichi Hara”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tameichi_Hara

[4]  Ibid.

[5]  Japanese Destroyer Captain, pg. 284. 

[6]  Japanese Destroyer Captain, pp. 82-3.

[7]  Wikipedia – “USS Perch (SS-176)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Perch_(SS-176)

[8]  “On Eternal Patrol – The Discovery of USS Perch (SS-176)”  http://www.oneternalpatrol.com/uss-perch-announcement.htm

[9]  “IJN Battleship YAMATO: Tabular Record of Movement”  http://combinedfleet.com/yamato.htm

Amedee Lighthouse

25 Mar
Amedee Lighthoudr

Amedee Lighthouse

 

“Yesterday was the 3rd and the next day the 5th, a bit confusing to landlubbers, but we took it in stride by just forgetting it. We had crossed the International Date Line. Our deck crews were busy getting ready to enter port and to unload our cargo. The Marines packed their gear to be ready to go ashore.

“It was getting cooler now and on the 6th ran into a nice stiff wind. The deep fuel tanks were getting low and the Tryon really rolled. General quarters came fast and furious as planes, ships and unidentified targets were sighted. Jap subs were reported in this section in numbers and the navigator’s chart had many position marks.

“About noon on the 7th, sighted New Caledonia, first a blur on the horizon and then a land mass with low hanging clouds above. Soon we were able to make out Amedee Lighthouse, sticking up like a long, white finger. Almost immediately blinkers from atop Signal Hill Station challenged us and within a few minutes we could see the purple-hued mountains with cotton-soft clouds hanging low.

“Off Amedee Light, a pilot came aboard to take the Tryon through the reefs and into the harbor. We were destined to make this passage many times in the months to come, but this was the only time we ever used a pilot here, a tribute to the shiphandling ability of the Captain and the excellent work of the navigator, Jerry King.” (1)

Amedee Lighthouse – a gleaming white torch suspended between azure sky and crystal sea; a welcoming beacon to weary sailors glad to be returning to their home port; a silent sentinel, receiving friends, warning enemies; a marker, guiding ships to the safety of Noumea Harbor.

Though the sailors aboard Tryon would no doubt come to view Amedee Lighthouse in these and other ways, the fact was that it had similarly greeted generations of sailors. Even at the outbreak of the war Amedee Lighthouse was a venerable old structure.

The island of New Caledonia was first sighted by the British on September 4, 1774, during the exploration voyages of Captain James Cook. He named the newly located island New Caledonia, because it reminded him of Scotland. (2)

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) was the first European to discover New Caledonia.

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) was the first European to discover New Caledonia.

In 1792, a French expedition extensively explored the island. Others visited the island in the following years, but no claims were made. The then-estimated 70,000 natives were aggressive and cannibalistic, Melanesians derived from the Papuans. Languages were often dissimilar between even neighboring tribes. In 1840. British missionaries arrived and the Crown planned to claim New Caledonia. A French survey ship crew was murdered by cannibals in 1850 and the French seized the opportunity to land in numbers. They claimed the island in September 1853. The colony was administered by an admiral until 1885 when a governor and local parliament (conseil-general) were appointed. (3)

When Napoleon III ordered the annexation of New Caledonia, France was looking for a strategic military location in the south Pacific, as well as an alternative location for a penal settlement to French Guyana’s Devil’s Island, where poor sanitation and mosquito infestation caused high rates of malaria and other endemic tropical diseases.

From the time of New Caledonia’s discovery by Europeans it was known that approach to the island was difficult due to the coral reefs that surrounded it. In 1859 the new commander of the colony, Captain Jean-Marie Saisset, requested construction of a lighthouse to help guide ships through the treacherous waters. This was particularly important as by then the colony was indeed being used as an alternative destination for French convicts. (4) In 1861 construction of a lighthouse was approved. Since few laborers skilled in masonry and other specialties needed for constructing a large lighthouse were available in New Caledonia, a relatively new technology would be chosen for it’s construction.

Leonce Reynaud, head of Lights Committee and designer of Amedee Lighthouse

Leonce Reynaud, head of France’s Lighthouses and Beacons Service and designer of Amedee Lighthouse

Design of the lighthouse was assigned to Léonce Reynaud, head of France’s Lighthouses and Beacons Service. In over thirty years of service in this position Reynaud would oversee construction of 131 lighthouses. Recognizing the construction challenges that would be faced in New Caledonia, Reynaud chose to improve upon a method used by the British in construction of lighthouses in Newfoundland, Jamaica, and elsewhere – using wrought iron. The lighthuse would be built using an internal supportive framework protected from weather and corrosion by an outer metal casing. A bulge was placed at the base to serve as housing for the lighthouse-keeper. (5)

The lighthouse was constructed in pieces by Mr. Rigolet, with the size of each piece being determined with consideration to the lack of scafolding and a limited number of workers in New Caledonia. It took four months for the individual components to be fabricated. The contract required that the pieces be assembled prior to shipment to New Caledonia to ensure stability and structural integrety, so Rigolet assembled the lighthouse near his shop in Paris – as the structure rose it became the talk of the town!

Amedee Lighthouse

Amedee Lighthouse

Preliminary construction of the lighthouse was completed in July, 1862 and it was left in place until June, 1864, when it was disassembled and packed into crates. Components of the lighthouse weighed 427 tons, and required 1265 crates for transport. The crates were loaded onto a barge and transported down the Seine River to the port of Le Harve, where they were transferred to the ship Emile Pereire, bound for New Caledonia. The ship and her cargo arrived at Port-de-France (now Noumea) on November 15, 1864. (6)

A young engineer, Louis-Emile Bertin, just 24 years old, was place in charge of construction of the new lighthouse, using both military personnel and local labor. (7)

Amedee Island, which lies about fifteen miles from Noumea, was chosen as the site for the lighthouse because it sits near Boulari Passage, one of just three natural passages through the coral reefs surrounding New Caledonia – Boulari Passage, Dumbea Passage (located to the north of Amedee Island, and most commonly used by large ships today), and Havannah Passage (near the southeastern tip of New Caledonia). (8)

Map showing proximity of Boulari Passage and Dumbea Passage to Noumea.

Map showing proximity of Boulari Passage and Dumbea Passage to Noumea.

With some fanfare the foundation stone was laid on 18 January 1865. Governor Guillain and a group of local dignitaries traveled to the island for a ceremony and placement of a commemorative lead box under that first stone. It took laborers ten months of intense work to complete the structure. Amedee Lighthouse was first illuminated on November 15, 1865, the Saint’s Day of the Empress Eugenie, Napoleon III’s wife. At 180 feet tall it is among the tallest cast iron lighthouses in the world – some argue it is the tallest. (9)

And so it was, on November 7, 1942 and on many later visits, that Amedee Lighthouse greeted the officers and crew of Tryon. Tryon couldn’t claim the landmark as her own, however; many naval ships called Noumea home. Admiral Robert L. Ghormley, after being named Commander, South Pacific Area (COMSOPAC), on 13 April, 1942, arrived at his new headquarters in Auckland, NZ on May 21; however, by July Ghormley moved his headquarters to Noumea to facilitate coordination between Army and Navy commands. (10) Due to the proximity of the harbor to the South Pacific operations, Nouméa provided not only a home port, but a well equipped and supplied repair base for damaged Allied ships. Nouméa declined in importance as a naval base as the Allied offensive moved inexorably northward toward Japan.

Alexander Vandegrift and William Halsey at Noumea, New Caledonia, January,  1943.  Vandegrift would receive a Medal of Honor for leading the Marines against the Japanese on Guadalcanal.

Alexander Vandegrift and William Halsey at Noumea, New Caledonia, January, 1943. By this time Halsey had replaced Ghormley as COMSOPAC. Vandegrift would receive a Medal of Honor for heroism in leading the Marines against the Japanese on Guadalcanal.

World War II would eventually end, but the need for Amedee Lighthouse to warn ships of the nearby hazardous coral reef and to guide the way to Noumea Harbor continued. Originally lighted using lamp oil made from rape seed (equivalent to our modern day canola oil), in 1952 a mantle system using vaporized kerosene was put in place. The lighthouse was electrified in 1985 using a wind turbine; in 1994 the wind turbine was replaced by solar panels. Amedee Lighthouse produces a light beam of 30,000 candlepower, and can be seen 24.5 miles out to sea. (11)

Today, GPS has largely eliminated the need for lighthouses to guide ships through treacherous waters and foul weather, but they continue to be popular with visitors due to their striking beauty, interesting architecture and historic significance. Amedee Lighthouse remains a favorite stop for those visiting New Caledonia. In fact, among visitors to Noumea the day trip to Amedee Island is one of the most popular. The island sits in the protected Amedee Island Marine Reserve, which is part of the New Caledonia Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. The crystalline waters and white sandy beaches make for a perfect place to spend a day. Snorkeling and a glass bottom boat provide opportunity to get up close and personal with the incredible variety of marine life that inhabits the reef. A buffet lunch gives visitors a chance to relax while watching traditional island music and dancing.

Amedee Island.

Amedee Island.

Amedee Island has a large population of striped sea snakes. There are two varieties – the banded, or yellow-lipped, sea krait (Laticauda colubrine) and the blue-lipped sea krait (Laticauda laticaudata) – and they are found everywhere – including, some say, on the steps leading to the top of the lighthouse! The snakes are quite timid and slow on land, and they are easily assumed to be harmless. Not so! Their venom is said to be more potent than a cobra’s! There is no known antidote, and death, if bitten, occurs within minutes. Thankfully, their mouths are extremely small, making it nearly impossible for them to close on human body parts, and their docile nature means that they rarely strike at humans anyway. Be that as it may, surely a misunderstanding about the potential danger of these creatures has led visitors to sometimes handle them with a perceived immunity to danger and to treat them in a more carefree manner than the snakes deserve! (12)

Playing on the beach with a striped sea snake.

Playing on the beach with a striped sea snake.

Handling a highly poisonous blue lipped krait.

Handling a highly poisonous blue lipped krait.

A climb up 247 steps, which narrow appreciably near the top, will lead an adventurous visitor to the upper platform of the lighthouse, 170 feet above the sea. Corbels support the cast iron deck, which is used for maintenance of the light and as a promenade for visitors. The deck is surrounded by a decorative railing adorned with ten-point stars. The panoramic view beyond the rail is nothing short of spectacular. It is a sight that makes the arduous climb to the promenade well worth while. (13)

Star-studded railing of Amedee Lighthouse's promenade.

Star-studded railing of Amedee Lighthouse’s promenade.

Amedee Lighthouse – friendly greeter of war-weary sailors looking forward to the safe confines of their home port; vacation destination for those seeking the pristine beauty of an unspoiled tropical isle. To the men of Tryon it surely must have been a welcome sight. Given it’s history and tradition, Amedee Lighthouse will likely be both welcomed and welcoming for generations of future sailors and visitors – but hopefully never again for the reasons it was on November 7, 1942.

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If you or your family member served aboard Tryon, or if for another reason you’re interested in Tryon, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment so that we can communicate further.

If you have a comment, correction, annecdote or story related to this or any other post, please be sure to leave a comment. I enjoy nothing more than hearing from others that share an interest in this most pivital time in world history.

And thanks for taking time to check out my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.

*********

Looking up the spiraling stairway of Amedee Lighthouse.

Looking up the spiraling stairway of Amedee Lighthouse.

Entrance to Amedee Lighthouse.  Note bulging base that lends stability and in the early days provided a home for the lighthouse tender.

Entrance to Amedee Lighthouse. Note bulging base that lends stability and in the early days provided a home for the lighthouse keeper.

this plaque, hung in the entrance to the lighthouse says, "This building was constructed by S.E.M Le Cte PROSPER DE CHASSELOUP-LAUBAT, Minister of the Navy and Colonies, based on the plans drawn up by Mr LEONCE REYNAUD, Director of Lighthouses, under the direction of Mr V. CHEVALLIER and Mr E. ALLARD, Chief Engineers for the Department of Civil Works by Mr RIGOLET, Paris builder 1862"

This plaque hangs in the entrance to Amedee Lighthouse, and says, “This building was constructed by S.E.M Le Cte PROSPER DE CHASSELOUP-LAUBAT, Minister of the Navy and Colonies, based on the plans drawn up by Mr LEONCE REYNAUD, Director of Lighthouses, under the direction of Mr V. CHEVALLIER and Mr E. ALLARD, Chief Engineers for the Department of Civil Works by Mr RIGOLET, Paris builder 1862”

Amedee Lighthouse has been featured on a number of New Caledonian postage stamps.  This stamp, on a first day cover, features fifty years of flight from France to New Caledonia.

Amedee Lighthouse has been featured on a number of New Caledonian postage stamps. This stamp, on a first day cover, features fifty years of flight from France to New Caledonia.

This stamp and first day cover celebrate 100 years in service.

This stamp and first day cover celebrate 100 years in service.

This stamp and first day cover announce the electrification of Amedee Lighthouse in 1985.

This stamp and first day cover announce the electrification of Amedee Lighthouse in 1985.

Another stamp recognizing Amedee Lighthouse, March, 2000.

Another stamp recognizing Amedee Lighthouse, March, 2000.

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These 360 degree sphere panoramas are a fun way to “visit” Amedee Lighthouse and Island. Clicking on the links below will take you to the panoramas, which were produced and and are provided by Rocket Guides New Caledonia:

One of the beautiful sandy beaches that ring Amedee Island.

One of the beautiful sandy beaches that ring Amedee Island.

Ground view of Amedee Island.

Ground view of Amedee Island.

View from the promenade deck of Amedee Lighthouse

View from the promenade deck of Amedee Lighthouse

 

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Here are two videos demonstrating the beauty of the Noumea area and Amedee Island. In the second video, which starts off showing the arrival at Noumea, with the coastal hills visible beyond the the pristine waters, I can imagine Tryon arriving back in her home port, sailors not otherwise occupied by their daily duties lining the rails to get a look at the first solid ground they’d seen in days – or weeks! The war ships once filling Great Roads have been replaced by pleasure yachts, and the hills are dotted with more houses than there were in 1942 – but the beautiful coastline remains largely unchanged over the past seventy years.

Amedee Excursion

Amedee Excursion

 

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(1) “The South Pacific Express.” Pg. 10.

(2) Wikipedia – “New Caledonia” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Caledonia

(3) Gor”World War 2 Pacific Island Guide,” pg. 69. http://books.google.com/books?id=ChyilRml0hcC&pg=PA71&lpg=PA71&dq=noumea+new+caledonia+chosen+for+south+pacific+command+ww+II&source=bl&ots=bKnaCTss0c&sig=EGjImhB0OOKpddNCH_wmN-GeCbA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=O3VIUf6bOsiz2gW-9oGoBQ&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=noumea%20new%20caledonia%20chosen%20for%20south%20pacific%20command%20ww%20II&f=false

(4) Wikipedia – “Amedee Lighthouse” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Am%C3%A9d%C3%A9e_lighthouse

(5) “30,000 candles for the 140th anniversary of the Amedee lighthouse” http://envlit.ifremer.fr/infos/actualite/2005/30_000_bougies_pour_les_140_ans_du_phare_amedee (in French)

(6) http://www.amedeeisland.com/default.asp?action=article&ID=21560

(7) “30,000 candles for the 140th anniversary of the Amedee lighthouse” http://envlit.ifremer.fr/infos/actualite/2005/30_000_bougies_pour_les_140_ans_du_phare_amedee (in French)

(8) “Typhoon Havens Handbook for the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans” http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/port_studies/thh-nc/ncaledon/noumea/text/sect1.htm

(9) “THE AMEDEE LIGHTHOUSE” http://www.docstoc.com/docs/14291196/Nouvelle-Cal%C3%A9donie-Tourisme-Point-Sud-THE-AMEDEE-LIGHTHOUSE-Known-locally-as

(10) “HyperWar: US Army in WWII: Strategy and Command: The First Two Years” Pg. 261. http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-P-Strategy/Strategy-11.html

(11) “THE AMEDEE LIGHTHOUSE” http://www.docstoc.com/docs/14291196/Nouvelle-Cal%C3%A9donie-Tourisme-Point-Sud-THE-AMEDEE-LIGHTHOUSE-Known-locally-as

(12) http://en.visitnewcaledonia.com/zoom/knit-striped-snake

(13) “THE AMEDEE LIGHTHOUSE” http://www.docstoc.com/docs/14291196/Nouvelle-Cal%C3%A9donie-Tourisme-Point-Sud-THE-AMEDEE-LIGHTHOUSE-Known-locally-as

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