The USS Shubrick was a World War II destroyer that was commissioned in February 1943, at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia. She participated valiantly in numerous campaigns in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific, including the invasion of Sicily in 1943, the invasion at Normandy and southern France in 1944 and the Okinawa campaign in 1945.

Someone once said that war was about 97% boredom and 3% sheer terror. Those of us, who were Shubrick crew members, can certainly attest to that, especially the sheer terror part, for we remember many grim moments; But we also remember the humorous and sometimes hilarious episodes that made life bearable during those uncertain times.

During our August 1991 reunion final dinner in Bremerton, Washington, George Morley, our erstwhile moderator, asked that each of us stand and relate an anecdote or humorous story pertaining to our Shubrick days. Several of our shipmates rose to the occasion and left us laughing. Others of us who are not very comfortable at public speaking, to put it mildly, drew a memory blank and could only mumble words best forgotten. This occasion did serve, however, as a broom to brush away some of the memory cobwebs and later bring to mind some of the anecdotes and humorous events that pertained to that era.

Here are some of those stories:

Lloyd McGhee September 29, 1992.

When the ship was being fitted out during it's final construction days at Portsmouth, there was a great bustle of hectic activity, and much confusion. Ours was not the only ship in the yard that was engaged in final completion. There were several others, including at least one cruiser. Materials and supplies poured into the yard and were stored temporarily in warehouses until the ships were ready to receive them. Warehousemen were hard-pressed to keep up with this great flow of material and the related mountain of paperwork.

The Chief's Quarters Coffee maker.

Each ship's department was responsible for getting their equipment aboard and installed in the proper location. Our canny Chief Commissary Steward became aware that the Chief's Quarters had been allocated a glass coffee maker, similar to the kind you see today. This was a situation that could not be tolerated. First, the pot was much too small to adequately serve the great coffee thirst of the ship's Chiefs. Second, since the Chief's Quarters were located well forward in the bow of the ship, where violent motion at sea was the norm, life expectancy of a glass coffee pot was minimal. The Chief set about to correct this vast oversight. He took his people down to the warehouse to load a truck with a number of legitimate supplies.

While the loading was proceeding, he noted that a five gallon, stainless steel, steam powered coffee maker was tagged with the name of a cruiser that was also being fitted out. He quickly removed the tag and replaced it with one labeled: "USS Shubrick - Chief's Quarters", then went to the warehouseman charged with issuing the equipment and told him that we were ready to receive the Coffee maker. The harassed warehouseman started searching through a humongous pile of paperwork, trying to find the right documentation. After about the second or third search through the stack, our Chief impatiently told him that he had to have it now as the truck was about to leave and the yard workmen were waiting to install the unit. At that point the poor guy threw up his hands, told him to take it and that he was sure the paperwork would show up soon and could be signed later. Of course, later never came. A little butter and sugar worked wonders with the yard fitters. We had a fine coffee maker that served us well for the rest of the war.

Mooring Lines.

In one shipyard warehouse, the equipment for each ship was segregated and stored in separate wire mesh cages with locked doors. Ship's crew members were only allowed into the cages after being properly identified. Warehousemen were far too busy to monitor activities, once proper authorization was established. Our Bosun's Mate peered through the cage wire mesh and, noted that the cruiser's cage next door had a lot of equipment he could use as well as a beautiful, huge coil of mooring line whose diameter was much larger than that authorized for our destroyer. He also noted that tile cage partitions did not extend all the way to the warehouse ceiling. He and his crew then stacked equipment high enough to climb over the partition and into the cruiser's cage and equipment transfers were quickly made. The coil of mooring line, however, was another matter. It was much too heavy to move as a coil. This problem was solved by passing one end over the partition and coiling the line on the destroyer side. All went well unti1 about halfway through this exercise when crewmen from the cruiser showed up! Things got a little tense for a while but the cruiser's Bosun, was out manned so he wisely said, "Put it back!". Our people did and nothing was noted or said about the other equipment transfers! However, since that type of requisition works both ways, you can't help but wonder how much of our gear went to sea on the cruiser.

Life At Sea.

Life, at sea, often fell into the 97% boredom category. Still, this was far preferable to the 3% terror that came all too often. Boredom was often interspersed with bits of humor that may only be appreciated by those who lived the experience.

For instance, we soon learned to not let the Chief Electricians Mate sit on the bench that extended along the outboard bulkhead behind the Chief's mess table. We always reserved a chair for him on the inboard side of the table. We learned to do this the hard way. Anyone sitting on the bench was trapped there until those on each side of him were through eating. Now, the ship had an AC generator in each of the two engine rooms. These generators could be paralleled when load requirements demanded. Paralleling was a bit tricky. The generators had to be perfectly synchronized before the paralleling breaker was thrown. Timing had to be precise. If the operation was not performed properly, breakers would trip and the "load would be lost"! If the load was lost, the entire ship blacked out and chaos ensued. No lights, no blowers, no pumps, no radio, no anything! Getting power back on the had to be done as quickly as possible, mostly in the dark, with only the aid of feeble light from battle lanterns. Needless to say, the Captain and the Chief Engineer took very dim views of this sort of thing and the Chief Electricians Mate was held responsible to see that It did not occur. Never-the-less, it did occur on occasion. If the lights so much as flickered and the Electrician was trapped on the bench behind the mess table, he would go right across the table top, on his way to the engine room! After the first couple of times this happened, he always had a chair, in the clear, reserved for him.
Speaking of the Chief Electrician, he told us an anecdote about something that occurred on a ship he was on prior to being assigned to the Shubrick. As the story goes, a Chief Boatswains Mate reported aboard. He soon let everyone know that his previous assignment had been aboard President Roosevelt's yacht. The other Chiefs soon tired of hearing him brag about how he used to bait the president's hook and assist him in fishing. Finally they devised a way to shut him up. When he started one of his bragging stories, someone said, "You know, he certainly isn't a Third Class Baiter!". A second chief chimed in and said, "No, and he isn't a Second Class Baiter!". Someone else piped up and said, "He's even better than a First Class Baiter!". Then in unison, they all shouted, "By God, he's a Master Baiter!"
There were countless other stories and jokes told during long, seemingly endless, days at sea.

Here is one that someone told:
Due to cultural differences, American and British sailors didn't always get along very well and often bar fights would break out. The British were usually very devoted to the Crown and were particularly sensitive about any slur regarding members of the Royal Family.

Our storyteller said he was once in a club in Halifax, Nova Scotia where American and British sailors were about evenly mixed. In an effort to be congenial, he, and his friends, started socializing with a group of British sailors. They were all getting along quite well when the topic of conversation drifted around to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

In regard to the Duchess, one British sailor remarked, "She is nothing but an American prostitute!".

Without thinking, an American sailor quickly replied, "Well you may be right but she was good enough for the King of England!". That did it, and, the fight was on!

American sailors soon learned about this sensitivity of British sailors concerning members of the Royal Family and took great delight in baiting them whenever they could. One shipmate told of a time when his ship was docked in an English port. British sailors usually wore hobnailed shoes that made a lot of noise when they walked. One evening, a group of American sailors were gathered at the rail when they heard someone walking up the deserted dock. Finally a lone, diminutive British sailor appeared in the one light on the dock. An American sailor shouted down, "Hey, Limey!".
"What you want, Yank?", came the reply.
"F--- the King!" The enraged Brit then stamped his feet several times and shook his fist. Finally he said, "Hey Yank. F--- Babe Ruth!", and marched off into the darkness.

Not all Brits rose to this kind of baiting, however. One story was told about similar circumstances wherein an American said, "F--- the Queen!".
The Limey calmly replied, "F--- her? You can't even approach her!".

Surgery At Sea.

Surgery at sea on a rolling, pitching destroyer under conditions less than ideal required great courage and skill. On one occasion when we were escorting a convoy across the Atlantic on a return voyage to New York, one of our Sonar men developed acute appendicitis. Our doctor had no alternative: He successfully operated with his young patient strapped to the wardroom table. That was emergency surgery and you would think there is nothing humorous about that. However, in retrospect, amusing aspects can be found.

Bill Hardcastle, our versatile Gunnery Officer, has added some details that were not previously known to those of us not present during the operation. Doctor Lovering pressed Bill into service as his assistant and assigned him the task of administering the anaesthetic by pouring ether into a gauze mask. Soon after the incision was made, the patient, Jim Snakenburg, began thrashing about.
"Give him more ether, Bill!", ordered the doctor.
"I've already given him one can!", Bill replied.
"Then give him another one.", the Doctor said, and kept on cutting.

At some point during the operation, Jim's heart stopped beating and the doctor quickly started pounding his chest and taking emergency measures until it's rhythm was restored. After the surgery, Jim was transferred to the lower bunk in the doctor's cabin. The next morning, Bill visited Jim, who was then awake. When asked how he felt, Jim replied, "Not too bad but I don't understand why my CHEST is so damn sore!"
Then there was elective surgery! Once when we were at sea, someone went to the doctor with a very private problem. The problem might have been private but the solution was soon known after the doctor
performed his magic - circumcision!! The poor patient was ambulatory but couldn't stand the confines of clothing. His only alternative was to keep his fly open with his bloody, bandaged standard waving in the breeze for all to see!

Now you might think this event was the end of such surgery but quite the opposite occurred. Our home port was New York where close encounters were common. After weeks at sea, everyone looked forward with great anticipation to liberty in New York. At the time, we were mostly escorting slow convoys to and from the British Isles. Liberty, if any, was rare in England or Ireland and a round trip voyage took anywhere from two to three months. Consequently, the pressure was tremendous by the time we returned to that great and shining city by the sea - New York.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with elective surgery! Well, apparently there were quite a number of our crewmen with "private problems" who suddenly realized that a solution was at hand.
It should be noted, though, that elective surgery was requested, only, when we were outbound from New York - never inbound! Why? Think about it. Outbound provided a post operative period of two to three
months and thus provided plenty of time for healing and toughening. It was imperative that everything be in good working order upon arrival back in New York. Wait! That's not all! One of our noble Chiefs finally screwed up his courage and went to see the doctor on the first day outbound from New York. The doctor accommodate him forthwith. Secrecy being what it was, the Chief didn't know that this trip was quite different from any preceding voyage. Instead of escorting a slow convoy, we joined up with three other destroyers and made a highspeed run to Gibraltar where we picked up a small fast convoy and escorted them to New York. Total round trip time - less than a month! What a dilemma for the Chief. Emergency measures were implemented. Daily, on the return trip, we would see him sitting forlornly in the head, bathing, bathing, bathing his injured member in salt water. Did it work? Who knows?
We didn't ask!

Bill Hardcastle tells another doctor story about a time when he was Officer of the Deck (OOD) out at sea:

Captain Bryan and Doctor Caldwell (who preceded Doctor Lovering) were standing on the starboard wing of the bridge when the captain instructed the doctor, in no uncertain terms, to get his fanny down to the coding room and get to work deciphering messages. (It seems that the doctor had previously informed the captain that in accordance with the Geneva Convention, he couldn't perform combat duties and thus he was protected from performing coding duties!)

Captain Bryan further advised the doctor in unprintable terms that during the next air raid, he was going to take away the doctor's helmet and life jacket, have Signalman Benson turn the signal light on the doctor and the doctor could then tell the Germans that he was protected by the Geneva Convention!


One of our signalmen used to tell this story:
Before World War II, many of the Pacific Fleet Destroyers were based at San Diego. Fleet training exercises were conducted almost every week. The destroyers would depart San Diego on Monday morning and return on Friday afternoon, rounding Point Loma on their way to anchorages in the inner harbor.

Signalmen communicated with signal flags, semaphore and the morse code using flashing light. Flashing light was the most used system and some signalmen would teach their wives this art. Point Loma was sparsely populated in those days, but there was a road leading out to lands end, and many of the wives would gather there on Friday afternoons to watch the ships come in. As the ships rounded the point, there would be numerous flashing lights, both on the ships and on the beach as husbands and wives sent messages back and forth to each other.

The story goes that one signalman was standing next to another and was "eavesdropping" on his buddy's flashing light conversation with his wife over on Point Loma. His buddy would signal: F F.
The wife would reply: N (Negative) E F.
Again his buddy would signal: F F.
The wife's reply would again be N E F.

It was obvious that the two were having a disagreement so the observing signalman finally asked his buddy what the argument was about.

The reply: "Aw, she wants to EAT First!"!


Prisoners Of War.

Shortly after the July 10, 1943 invasion of Sicily at Gela, on the southern coast, an America army, under the command of General Patton, broke out of the invasion perimeter and swept westward , then north and then east along the north coast road. Palermo was soon liberated and the army pressed eastward against increasing resistance.

In late July, we were ordered to the north coastal waters to provide submarine screening for a cruiser and assist in providing fire support for the Army advance. Every night during this operation, we would return to the harbor at Palermo and anchor. Every night, there would be a German air raid. On the night of 3-4 August, the Shubrick received a direct hit from a 500 pound bomb that penetrated the ship between the aft stack and the torpedo tubes. Loss of life and damage was severe. The ship was towed into the inner harbor and tied up alongside of two Italian freighters that were sitting on the bottom of the dock with only portions of their upper decks and superstructure. above water. It is amazing how quickly we learned to skip across these derelicts in the dark during subsequent air raids. There was a grand air raid shelter about a block from the dock!

The ship was later towed to Malta for repairs but during our stay in Palermo, we encountered our first face to face contacts with enemy troops. Since we had lost all shipboard power, a field kitchen was set up on the dock. One person who was assigned to assist our cooks, wash dishes and serve as a general handyman was a cheerful, smiling, blonde young man who appeared to be about 18 years old, or less. He was German and a POW. He didn't seem to be at all threatening and certainly nothing like we had expected a German soldier to be. In fact, he seemed quite glad to be there. I wonder what ever became of him.
Every day, during our stay in Palermo, the Army would bring several truck loads of Italian POW's down to the docks to pick up debris. One lone American G.I. would be left to guard them. Usually the guard would sit in the shade with his helmet down over his eyes and doze. We thought this was very odd and one day asked him if he wasn't afraid they would run away. His reply: "Hell no! We don't have any place to keep them at night, so, we tell them to go find a place to sleep and come back in the morning. For every 100 we let go in the evening, a 150 show up the next morning. What happens is they go out into the hills and tell their buddies that they are being well treated and well fed. The war is over for them. These guys aren't fighters, they're lovers!".


Another encounter with POW's occurred during the invasion at Normandy. Several days subsequent to the initial invasion, we were posted to the picket line several miles north of the supply and troop ships anchored off the beachhead. The picket line consisted of a number of destroyers that were spaced in a line stretching from the Cotentin peninsula eastward for some distance. Our task was to prevent German "E" boat raiders, submarines and destroyers from penetrating into the unloading area near the beachhead. There were German air raids every night. One night after an air raid, flares were periodically noted off in the distance. After daylight, the Destroyer Division Commander ordered us to pullout of the line and investigate. What was found were two skinny, shivering German airmen in a very small rubber raft. Their aircraft had been shot down the night before. These two were quickly pulled aboard and stood cold and trembling on the quarterdeck, surrounded by American sailors who rapidly relieved them of anything that smacked of a souvenir. Insignia, buttons and belts were ripped off and disappeared. It is amusing to speculate what these two miserable human specimens were thinking. They had no way of knowing that American sailors were avid souvenir hunters who seldom got a chance to satisfy their hunger for tokens of a historic war.

The rubber life raft? There was a bit of a hassle regarding it's disappearance, but no one owned up to 'having it’. It was revealed quite recently, that the raft wound up in an attic in a Midwest home where it stayed for many years!


The Shubrick was rough on boats. I am not sure how many boats we were issued during the life of the ship. A 23 foot, wooden motor whaleboat was the standard issue for a destroyer in those days. Initially, we received two, one of which was designated the Captain's gig. During the fitting out process in the Portsmouth Navy Yard, the boats were tied up at the stern of the ship. One morning it was discovered that one of the boats was missing. The Naval authorities were notified and our boat was later found sitting in the mud flats, at low tide, miles away, out at N.O.B. A set of tracks through the mud from the abandoned boat to the beach was the only sign left by the perpetrator of that dastardly act! The boat was damaged beyond immediate repair so we were issued a new boat.

Off we went to sea with a motor whaleboat rigged in davits on each side. That didn't last long. Soon the standard was changed from two to one. There went the Captain's gig. The boat and it’s davits were removed and turned in for reissue to some other vessel. So much for boat loss #2.

The sequence of boat losses is blurred in memory.
Once we were escorting a convoy on a return trip to New York during a terrible winter storm. This was one of those times when we went "over two and under one" or maybe it was the other way around. This very apt term was used when the going was especially rough. The destroyer, being long and lean, had a tendency in rough seas to ride up on the crest of a wave, then bury it's bow in the following trough. When the bow was down, the stern would rise into the air and the twin screws would whirr as they momentarily broke clear of the water. With the nose down, the next wave would crash over the bow and the entire ship would be inundated, as she shuddered and struggled to rise up and meet the next onslaught. Thus the term "over two, and under one"!

Another term often used during these periods was "dipping water with the stack" which referred to violent rolls from side to side. An actual roll that far would more than likely doom a ship, but, quite often, a particularly violent roll would seem that bad, as everything not lashed down would go flying about, and anyone, not hanging on. was in dire danger of severe injury. It was not unusual for this type of severe weather to go on for days as the exhausted crew subsisted mainly on soup, coffee and saltine crackers.

During this particular voyage, the water breaking over the ship turned to ice and built up to dangerous proportions. Finally, a break in the weather came, and some of the ice could be chipped away.

The boat?
Well, it didn't fare too well. The crashing water had ruptured the cover, the drain had plugged with ice, and the boat filled with water that turned to ice. The pounding of the ship drove the boat chocks up through the wooden bottom. They gave us a new boat when we reached New York.

There was another time when we were on a torpedo firing training exercise in Casco Bay, Maine. We would make a run on a target and fire off a torpedo with a dummy warhead. After the torpedo exhausted it's run, the air in the nose would cause it to rise to the surface, nose up. At this point, the motor whaleboat crew would be dispatched to recover the torpedo by placing a line through a ring in it's nose and tow it back to the ship. During one recovery attempt, the ground swells were particularly severe and caused extreme bobbing of both the boat and the torpedo. The crew had a very hard time getting a line on the torpedo but finally succeeded. Before they could snub it though, the torpedo went down and the boat went up. Then the boat dropped down and the torpedo bobbed up - smack into the bottom of the boat!  Oh well! Just another boat!

If I remember correctly, the shrapnel from the Kamikaze attack, off Okinawa, made swiss cheese out of the hull of the boat we had at that time.

Let it be said that the endangerment of crew members and loss of equipment is never humorous at the time it occurs. Still, in retrospect, humor can be found in many situations. We lost another boat in the Mediterranean and some aspects of that situation had it's humorous elements.

After the invasion at Normandy, we were ordered to the Mediterranean for participation in the invasion of Southern France. After Normandy, our involvement in the action during the Southern France
invasion seemed like a "piece of cake". Most of our time in that area was spent out at sea screening Jeep carriers which were dispatching aircraft to cover the beachhead attack.

When the carriers had aircraft up, we kept a rescue team on standby
near the motor whaleboat which, in turn, was kept hanging from the davits and level with the rail. Thus, we were ready for any eventuality - or so we thought!

One fine, beautiful day when the sun was shining and the sea was calm, we were steaming along near the carriers and the war seemed far away. Suddenly one of the carriers radioed that one of their aircraft was returning with his landing gear flucked up and he was going to ditch. Almost immediately after this message was received, the aircraft appeared, flying low across our bow. The pilot had his canopy open and grinned and waved as he went by. A few hundred yards to our starboard, he dropped his plane in the water. The aircraft went down and the pilot bobbed up. His ditching procedure was faultless.

Our part of this drama didn't go quite so well. For reasons of his own, the Officer of the Deck rang up flank speed and called away the rescue boat crew. The rescue crew piled into the boat hanging at the rail. The boat officer, who had been down below when the excitement began, climbed in last. No one seemed to notice that the ship was speeding up instead of slowing down so the two seamen manning the rope falls were ordered to lower the boat into the water. They did!

Now the boat could be launched with the ship moving provided the ship’s speed did not exceed about six knots. he procedure was as follows:
A line, called a sea painter, extended forward from a cleat in the bow of the boat to a bitt on the bow of the ship. This line was used to tow the boat alongside the ship, until the engine could be started, and the boat could pick up enough speed to gain slack in the tow line. At this point, the sea painter would be unhooked from the boat cleat, and the boat would then pull away under it's own power.
Anyway, this was the way it was supposed to work!

Unfortunately for our hapless crew and the boat, this time it didn't work that way. When the boat hit the water, it was estimated that the ship was traveling at a speed somewhere around 19 or 20 knots. The sea painter cleat was ripped from the wooden boat bow and the boat swerved outward at right angles to the ship with the rope falls singing through the blocks. At this point, the boat crew was literally scooped up by the water rushing through the boat and were deposited unhurt into the sea. All were wearing life jackets and floated astern as the ship sped away.

As for the boat, the forward fall snapped and the after fall ran out until it fouled. There we were, steaming along, towing our boat alongside the ship - under water!

Meanwhile, the boat crew gathered together and held on to each other so as not to get scattered. The pilot later related how things were progressing from his point of view. After getting clear of the aircraft, his life jacket kept him afloat, although low in the water. He could see the ship steaming away in the distance and waved repeatedly, thinking that no one could see him. He was starting to feel very much alone and forlorn when suddenly he thought he could hear voices. At first he was worried that he may have hit his head and was hallucinating. He was alone in a big ocean and yet it became clear that he could hear people talking. Finally, he bobbed up on a swell and there, to his amazement, was a group of people in the water nearby. He swam over to their vicinity and as casually as he could, under the circumstances, he said,
"HI! Where's your boat?".
Our boat coxswain, who was thoroughly disgusted with this poor show of seamanship, shot back:
"Boat, hell! This Is the way we always pick 'em up!"

As a sequel to this story, Bill Hardcastle has added this related followup:
We had recovered a life raft, adrift in the Mediterranean. Later when we anchored off shore near Ajaccio, Corsica, Captain Blenman had the Boatswains Mate, who lowered the motor whale boat into the water, when the ship was traveling at 20 knots, row him ashore in the raft!


Anchor Away.

Once, we steamed into the harbor at Naples, Italy, and dropped the anchor. Boy! Did we ever drop it.
It is probably still there, along with a lot of anchor chain.

The Captain liked to train his younger officers by assigning them to various departments and have them perform, from time to time, some of the tasks normally performed by enlisted crewmen. This hands on experience usually worked out very well but not always.

Anchor chains are usually painted black with white markings at various points along their length. These markings are coded so that the amount of chain paid out can be noted as the chain rapidly moves up out of the chain locker, through the anchor windlass, across the deck and out through the hawse pipe. The amount of chain paid out is dependent upon the depth of the water at the anchorage. When the proper amount of chain is out, a brake on the anchor windlass is applied and the chain stops it's rapid descent into the sea. The man assigned to note the markings is said to "Call the shots". It is not always an easy task. Usually, the anchor chain is rusty and the markings are not easy to see. In addition, the chain moves out very rapidly in a cloud of rusty dust and dried mud. It takes experience, a good eye and rapid decisions.

One of our young ensigns had been assigned to the deck department anchor detail. As we prepared to anchor at Naples, word came from the bridge for him to "call the shots"! Well, he called them as he saw them. He just didn't see them right and the chain was not stopped off in the chain locker. Life can be cruel sometimes. Others on that detail saw what was happening and did nothing. They Just left him "swinging in the breeze"! Captains take a dim view of losing anchors and great fathoms of chain! I wonder if that poor ensign ever got promoted,



Franklin Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to tear is fear itself". Obviously, he wasn't riding in the Shubrick at Okinawa, when he said that; But that is taking his words out of context; Like love, fear comes in many forms. The fellow who said, "War is 97% boredom and 3% sheer terror", was oversimplifying. The 97% part could more accurately be broken down into smaller parts, such as nervousness, fear of the unknown, and more often than not, worry. I think that we all worried a great deal, about where we were going next, what was going to happen when we got there, and would we survive this time. In campaigns prior to Okinawa we expressed the hope that "--we wouldn't get hit this time", Conditions at Okinawa were so bad that soon after our arrival in that theater, we changed that lament to: "When we get hit, I hope it isn't where I'm at!".

Anyone who has faced combat knows that it is not demeaning to be afraid. In fact anyone who afterward says he was not afraid has a mental problem, is a consummate liar or has a very convenient memory. The important thing, of course, is how one conducted himself during times of extreme stress. There were many very brave individuals in our crew, whose conduct was exemplary, even under the most extreme conditions.

Even during the most trying of times, humor can be found. It was part of the fabric that permitted us to endure. Personally, I was always a bit envious of those whose battle station was out in the open as opposed to those of us whose station was inside. At least those who were outside could better judge when to shift from worry to fear to terror! Those of us in the inner spaces were subject to "fear of the unknown" all the time during General Quarters!

My own battle station was in Main Radio where there were no portholes and our knowledge of what was going on was limited to sounds rather than sight. Imagination is rampant under these conditions. You imagine far more is happening than probably is.

Although my assigned station was Main Radio, during the Okinawa campaign, I had a further assignment. During the dawn and dusk GQ's, nothing usually happened and battle stations were manned as a precautionary measure during these vulnerable periods. Therefore, I had an unofficial subassignment to the tiny coding room, which was Just across the corridor from Main Radio where I spent many hours alone decoding messages.

Now the only space between the coding room and the number two five inch gun mount was the Executive Officer's cabin. Every time that mount made a movement, it could be plainly heard in my location. The hum from the training and elevation motors were especially pronounced. I knew the movements of the gun mount were usually controlled by the Gunnery Officer sitting in his little jump seat high up in the fire control director. In my mind's eye, I could see him with his head and shoulders out in the open behind his slewing sight. He would search a sector, then move his sight horizontally to the adjacent sector, search that, then on to the next one. I could follow this movement by the sound the training motor mmmmmmmmm, pause, mmmmmmmm, pause! When this was happening, there was no particular cause for concern. But suddenly someone would call in a target! The training motor would go into extended operation mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm - and I would know he had a target. Then the elevation motor would go rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! After that there would be intermittent mmmmmmm's and rrrrrrrr's as he tracked the target. Suddenly the five inch guns would open up Baroom - Baroom - Baroom! (Try to continue typing under those conditions! I would sit frozen in my chair!) Next, would come the 40MM's - Blam - Blam - Blam - Blam Blam! (Oh, Hell, He's getting closer!) Then the 20MM's would start chattering "- Tack - Tack - Tack - Tack! That did it. It was my signal to make a dash for the Radio Shack. Misery loves company!

During the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, we were at our station Just off the Normandy beachhead firing at assigned targets. All around us were other vessels, also blasting away, providing covering fire for troops landing on the beach. Everywhere was a bedlam of flame, smoke, and noise.

Those of us in the Radio Shack would take turns going outside to see this astonishing sight. Once, when my turn came, I went out on deck near the forward stack. There, sitting on a ready box, was a young seaman telephone talker/observer. His eyes were like saucers and pointing off to starboard at intermittent splashes in the water, he said, in the most injured tones imaginable, "LOOK! Some son-of-a-bitch is SHOOTING at us!"

I couldn't help but burst out laughing. I couldn't imagine what else he expected. It certainly wasn't a one-way street! Fortunately, we were out of range.


If you have ever been a passenger on a Naval vessel, you can truly appreciate this old story that has been kicking around in the annals of the Navy for many years. Passengers on a Naval vessel earn their keep. I know from experience, having been a passenger on two different occasions on the old ammunition ship, USS Nitro prior to World War II. Paint chipping, painting, bilge cleaning, oil wiping and any other less desirable chores were assigned, with fiendish delight, to passengers, by the regular crew.

Marines were usually employed as guards on the gates at Naval installations. They delighted in giving sailors a hard time when they were returning from liberty. Relieving sailors of their booze at the gate was a favorite pastime of the Marine guards. Obviously, this practice did not endear the Marines to the sailors. When a Marine became a passenger on a Naval vessel, "Vengeance is mine!" said the sailors. .

The story goes that the old Naval Transport, USS CHAUMONT, picked up a contingent of Marines at one of the China stations or other Far East port. After a long and dreary trip, the ship finally docked in Pearl Harbor in transit to San Diego. Pearl wasn't much of a respite for the weary driven Marines. Even in port, they were forced to continue their ceaseless labors while the regular crew sailors went ashore on liberty. Just before the ship departed Pearl Harbor for San Diego, a young Marine was put over the side in a bosuns chair with a bucket of black paint and a brush and told to touch up the raised letters. forming the ship's name on the hull on each side of the bow. He completed his chore and was hauled back up on deck just minutes before the ship set sail for San Diego.

Several days later, the ship rounded Point Loma and started the long transit up through the harbor to it's dock in San Diego. As the vessel made it's way between other Naval vessels anchored in the harbor, the Captain of the Chaumont became increasingly incensed when he noted that as he passed another ship, the crew would man the rail, laugh and point. It was obvious that his ship was the object of great hilarity, the cause of which could not be seen from his vantage point. As soon as the CHAUMONT docked, the Captain sent the Executive Officer ashore to fathom the cause of the ridicule.
Here is what he found, the handiwork of the young Marine:
R L L   R   V A
I P     I   Y N
S       N     S
T       E     P
        S     O


The Gunner’s War

Our Chief Gunner's Mate was a feisty little guy named L.E. Bishop. The Gunner was a little older than most of us and was well into his naval career when the war started. He said he was a crew member of a small wooden mine sweeper based at Little Creek, Virginia, when the war started. Why a gunners mate was assigned to a mine sweeper, whose heaviest armament was a few .45 caliber pistols, was hard for him to fathom, but “strange” are some of the ways of the Navy. He was content. He had a home and a wife in Norfolk, and the minesweep was assigned to sweep Chesapeake Bay. His participation in combat seemed remote.

One night in February of 1942, his ship was performing it's sweeping duties in a snowstorm in company with a sister ship. The vessels were steaming abreast, several hundred yards apart. The weather deteriorated and visual contact between the sweeps was lost. The Captain of the Gunner's ship changed course in an effort to regain the lost contact. Contact was made but not visually until it was too late. The other minesweep rammed them amidships.

The Gunner, the Chief Bosun's Mate, and the Chief Engineer immediately started pumps and tried to institute damage control to save their ship. The rest of their crew clambered aboard the other minesweep which sailed off into the darkness, bound for the dock in Little Creek to effect repairs to it's damaged bow.
It soon became obvious to the Gunner and his mates that their efforts were not going to be enough to save the vessel. There was a life raft on the fantail, so the three of them climbed into it, cut the lines and waited for the ship to settle from under them. It did and they drifted off into the night, sitting in waist deep, very cold water.

The Gunner said he wasn't too worried. He felt sure they would be picked up when daylight came. They were rescued soon after dawn and transported back to Little Creek. Things were not too well organized at the base and no one seemed to know what to do with them. Consequently, the Gunner took matters into his own hands. Cold, wet, and hungry, he boarded a streetcar and went home to find warmth, a home cooked meal and dry clothes.

Several days later, a friend dropped by and told him that they were looking for him at the base, so he returned and reported in. However, the long hours spent in the cold bay water had affected the nerves in his legs so he wound up in the hospital. After a period of treatment, he was discharged and, much to his delight, was issued a "limited duty" slip that was placed in his records. He was then assigned to a U.S. Coast Guard station at Yorktown, Virginia. He thought he had it made, but the Coast Guard didn't know what to do with him and before long, he received orders to report for duty aboard a troop transport that was undergoing conversion in the Philadelphia shipyard.

The Gunner reported aboard, waving his "limited duty" slip, showing that he was not eligible for sea duty. The harried Executive Officer informed him that he was badly needed and if he would just make one trip with them, he would see what he could do to get him transferred to a shore station. Gunner was not happy with this, but decided that a half a loaf was better than nothing.

Before long, his ship was off the coast of North Africa, playing a key role in the invasion. It was a busy time for the Gunner. Landing craft were constantly returning from the beachhead with their machine guns overheated and fouled with grit and sand. He worked endless hours in the armory, cleaning weapons and returning them to working order. Every night, he would take his mattress up to the highest point he could find in the superstructure where he would get a few hours of rest and sleep. All around them, other ships were being torpedoed and he wanted to be up as high as possible when it happened to his vessel.

His prophecy came true. One evening, shortly after dusk, his ship received a mortal wound and started sinking. The Gunner rushed aft and started cutting loose 50 man life rafts. People were jumping over the side, right and left.

Later, when he joined them, no raft was available, so he started swimming toward the beach. Along the way, he passed a battleship and their crewmen started throwing life preservers down to him. He ignored their efforts and kept swimming towards the nearby beach. He reasoned that they, too, might get torpedoed and he’d had enough of that. The beach looked firm, safe and solid.

The Gunner, and many of his shipmates, made it safely to the beach, but were a sad, oil soaked and bedraggled lot. They were herded together and housed in an abandoned warehouse with no facilities. Eventually, the Army issued them khaki uniforms but there was no way to shower or remove the oil. After a day or so, they were loaded aboard a transport that was sailing immediately for Norfolk. The transport only had saltwater showers and again there was no way to remove the oil from their skin and matted hair. Finally, they docked at N.D.B. Norfolk and in the ensuing confusion, Gunner slipped away, got on a streetcar once again, and went home. Five gallons of kerosene and a long soak in the bathtub finally relieved him of most of the crud.

Unfortunately, the Gunners "Limited Duty" slip went down with the transport and he was soon ordered aboard the Shubrick. Sicily, Normandy, Southern France and then Okinawa followed.

The Gunners battle station, on the Shubrick, at Okinawa, was Gun Captain for the two 40MM gun mounts aft, just forward of #3 main battery gun mount.

It was here, on the starboard side, that the kamikaze dove into us. The gunner disappeared along with a number of other shipmates.

It wasn't until later that we learned of his fate. Fortunately, he saw the aircraft approaching and, at the last moment, jumped off of the deckhouse, and landed on the port side of the main deck aft. As the aircraft crashed into the ship, he jumped over the side. By some miracle, the port screw missed him, and he was left tumbling, rolling, and struggling in the ship's wake. Finally, he surfaced and floated in his life jacket until picked up, by another vessel, after daybreak.

About a week later, several Chief's were morosely sitting in the Chief's Mess drinking coffee, when they heard someone descend into the bunk room on the deck above. Then the ladder chains rattled and there stood the Gunner . They were stunned by his sudden appearance and, for a moment, no one said anything. Finally, the Gunner said, "Well, haven't any of you bastards got anything to say?"

Finally, someone replied, "Get to hell out of here, Gunner. You're dead. We've mourned you for a week and that's all your gonna get!"

The Gunner grumbled, poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down.
It was a long war.


Here is an anecdote that Bill Hardcastle relates:
(To my knowledge, it never made it's way to the mess decks.)

It seems that the Chief Boatswain's Mate was returned to the ship one night, passed out, and was put to bed in the Captain's Cabin. When he discovered him there, Captain Blenman tossed him out.

Several months later, Captain Blenman returned to the ship, quite loaded himself, and failed to realize that the Shubrick was moored outboard of our sister ship, Herndon, his old ship. The Quarter Deck Watch knew him and greeted him as Captain. He then proceeded to the Captain's Cabin and turned on the light. There he found someone in the bunk and, much incensed, tossed out the occupant. Then, to his great embarrassment, found that he had debunked Captain Moore, his former Commanding Officer!