Here is a continuation of the first post, journal entries from November 1944 to February 1945. I will add a comment to the first post with a few pieces of interesting trivia from my mother relating to that post.
Back in the mid-1980s I was in the Philippines for two months, living near the Subic Bay Naval Base just across a bridge from Olongapo. I saw up close and personal the temptations men in the military face, and for a Christian man such as my grandfather, he had to try and find alternatives to “going out with the boys” on liberty, though often the Red Light District was (and is) where the restaurants were, so it was a Catch 22. When I was living there I was working with a Christian missions organisation among the prostitutes, drug dealers and pimps, as well as those who worked in street shop/booths (I’m still in touch with one or two!), and our home was a place for the Christian military men to come and hang out when they were off-duty; nearly every day I’d come down to the living room to find strangers there, reading or talking. I don’t know if he had such a place back then, but fisherman’s missions and military missions are far more common now, because the temptations (the sex industry, drugs, alcohol, etc.) are more rampant than ever. When I returned to the States he enjoyed talking to me about Subic and the PI as he knew it, and I think it was special for him to talk to his granddaughter who had seen some of the places and things he’d seen so many years before.
Journal Entries, March – April 1945
1 March 1945. This month started off with a bang. Dropped D.C. (depth charges)- 5 of them in the middle of the night. I was on helm. Boys sleeping really thought we got it. Entered Mindoro.
2-5 March 1945. (mail sent/mail received) A/S duty Mangatin Bay. Got mail, which means they transferred us here for duty.
6 March 1945. Off Manila Bay A/S duty, then returned to Mangatin Bay.
7 March 1945. Entered Bay for fueling.
8,9,10 March, 1945. Another A/S* sweep to Luzon. (*anti-mine sweep)
11 March 1945. Back to A/S Mindoro.
12 March 1945. (mail sent/mail received). Got mail via ship that had been in Port. Proceeded into Bay and got more mail.
14 March 1945. Availability cancelled. A ship on A/S sweep run aground we had to relieve it. Just our luck.
15-18 March 1945. A/S sweep and on 18 entered Mangarin for 2 days availablity.
19 March 1945. Liberty in Mindoro. Quite a place. Rode in a jeep with army captain to San Jose. Saw sugar mill that was hit by P-47 in morning. Saw unit of paratroopers who made landings on Corrigedor. Helped sort mail at P.O. FINALLY got Christmas presents. Included billfold, leather toilet kit, shower shoes, pictures, and wedding band. Every gift perfect. One box of candy had to be thrown away. Really enjoyed it even though it was late.
20-23 March 1945. A/S sweep off Mindoro.
24-25 March 1945. (mail sent/mail received) A/S sweep to Luzon and returned. Fueled and got underway for Leyte. These two days were roughest I have seen. Had to strap myself in sack. Did not get sick. 36 bags Christmas mail.
26-28 March 1945. Escorting Army tug with barge at 3-1/2 knots. No wonder it took us 4 days to get here. Entered San Pedro Bay.
29-31 March 1945. (sent mail/received mail). Available for maintenance. We got 11 bags of mail, but most of it was rest of Christmas packages.
Summary: Most of this month was spent on ping line of A/S duty. The first was most amusing. Christmas packages really helped our moral. Nothing exciting or dangerous.
1-4 April 1945. (mail sent/mail received) In San Pedro Bay. Received one liberty – had interesting conversation with Philippine guerrila. Scabby sores on natives pathetic sight. Still getting good mail service. Red Light District.
(Note: the “scabby sores” were probably secondary syphillis – sailors often given penicillin IM before they let them off the boat!)
5 April 1945. Underway to Manila. 3 escorts with one troop ship. 15 knots – exceptionally fast convoy.
7 April 1945. Arrived Manila. Passed very close to Corregidor and got a good look at it. Liberty in Manila. What a place. Harbor full of sunken Jap ships. Every building in business district damaged. Most of them blown to bits. Saw Jap mass-burial place. Cars that looked like strainers. Eats very high – 75 cents for one scoop ice cream. Rode in cart affair (horse-drawn) through town cost us $2.50. Men came back to ship drunk and not virgins. People dress very American. Had to wear whites on this liberty. Really got my first glimpse of war devastation. Got stamps and money souvenirs.
8-9 April 1945. Anchored in Manila harbor. No mail service here at all.
10 April 1945. Left Manila for Leyte
11 April 1945. All hell broke loose at 1130. We rammed native sailboat that was carrying 42 persons. Called to G.Q. As I was asleep, I really bounced out of my sack when alarm sounded. Arrived at G.Q. station and heard hysterical screams of survivors and saw them as we illuminated them. Picked up 37 survivors. Continued search. Picked up 2 small babies floating face down. Dead when rescued, but boys worked feverishly for 3 hours with artificial respiration, but no luck.
12 April 1945. (sent mail/received mail) 0330 another G.Q. with fire amidships. I couldn’t imagine us having another G.Q. and just stood and listened to alarm, but when fire was announced, I tore up to station. I was not in my sack at the time, as survivors had our compartment. Two small girls had my bunk. Fire not serious and confined to drying room. Had 4-8 watch, so was up till 10:30 next night without sleep. One small baby died from effects of night before. Transferred the survivors around noon, as we arrived back in Leyte. There were 36 alive (one expected to die), 3 dead, and 3 we could not find in the wreckage. The miracle to me was the number that lived through the ordeal. Saw anguish in mothers’ faces as they looked at dead children. Saw and sympathized with those who missed their children. The native craft was supposed to have been 50 feet in length and cost 10,000 pesos. A very large native boat. It was taking natives away from Japs on Mindanao. We were first Americans they had seen since 1941. Doubt very much if they were happy to see us. Made Y2C (Yeoman 2nd class). Received authorization from ComSerfor. Ship was very nice and did not make me wait for first of month. That means treats for the boys.
13 April 1945. (mail received) Learned of President’s death (FDR). Also got news of being 50 miles from Berlin. Liberty at Pambujuan, Samar. Pulled joke on chief regarding censorship regulations – very effective.
14 April 1945. LOST MY WEDDING BAND! Don’t know how or where. Did not eat morning chow, I felt so bad. Hope my darling wife isn’t too mad at me for it.
15 April 1945. (Mail sent/mail received) Church on USS Medusa. Memorial service for Roosevelt. Very good. Got our first fresh provisions in approx 3 months. Received letters from Wanda. Put 3 coats of paint on bottom of ship in 48 hours. Not bad while in dry dock. Got us up at 5:30 for special sea details, then didn’t get away before 1100. Purchased treats on ratings*. (Note: *Rations?)