+14 HUDSON History page 3
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USS HUDSON DD475
HISTORY PAGE #3

Thanks to Thomas F. Reilly, Philadelphia PA for the following HUDSON HISTORY.

Page 3
WORLD WAR II - USS HUDSON DD475 continued.....

Iwo Jima is about four miles long and Mt. Suribachi is at the extreme southern end. About four hundred ships were assigned to the operation and the milling around off the island from midnight until H-hour was unbelievable. It was like Times Square and 42nd Street. Our squadron was operating under Captain Charles Buchanan and was assigned to conduct a shipping sweep. In doing so, our main concern was avoiding collision. I recall there were a few. The island was heavily fortified and honeycombed with tunnels and underground installations. Volcanic sand on the beaches made it extremely difficult for marine tanks to clear the beach and this created a traffic jam as succeeding waves landed in the same areas. Casualties were heavy. Hudson's job was fire support for the Marines and radar picket duty since we were now a specially configured ship for controlling aircraft. We happened to be close to the island during the assault by the Marines up Mt. Suribachi; I'll never forget the sight of the destroyer Twiggs commanded by our close friend George Philip, so close to the beach she was almost aground, so she could use her forty millimeter battery ahead of the Marines as they inched their way to the summit. Shortly afterwards it was with great pride I noticed our flag flying from the top for the first time. We paid a great price for Iwo; we needed it for its use as an alternate. landing site for planes (B-29s) which took off from Guam, Saipan, or Tinian for Japan, and couldn't make it back without refueling.

The other assigned picket in the squadron was Bennett, commanded by Jasper Newton MacDonald, commonly known as "hose nose," because of a prominent proboscis. Rocky used to say he could hang by his nose as he picked from the cherry tree. One night Hudson and Bennett were on picket stations, about sixty miles from the island, with assigned Combat Air Patrol only during daylight for interception of Jap planes enroute to the transport area and the many lucrative targets off the landing beaches. Most of the air action came at night from the large bombers-Bettys. One of these grazed the Bennett missing it by only a hundred feet or so; Jasper shot it down as it was heading on in towards the transport area; in fact, Jasper claimed the plane as his almost before it hit the water! What he hadn't realized was the Betty had scored a torpedo hit on the Bennett in the forward hold; the torpedo did not explode. A couple of nights later Hudson and Bennett were in company and retiring with a number of heavies for night steaming, due to return at dawn to the transport area. Bennett reported over the voice circuit that her forward hold was flooded and she would have to return to port. The only damage was a perfect 18 inch hole which was not discovered during normal soundings because the ship happened to be at General Quarters when normal soundings were taken. Jasper sent me a nice message a few days later saying that Bennett was now taking regular soundings, even when the ship was a General Quarters!

Generally, there was a strong North wind which was a problem for heavy transports and cargo ships close to the beaches. Holding ground was poor and one morning I observed a large cargo ship dragging anchor along the long line of anchored amphibious ships downwind. She had no steam to her throttles so she drifted to leeward, helplessly at the mercy of the wind. Her bow served as a huge cleaver as it rose ten or fifteen feet then sliced whatever was underneath. She collided with a smaller cargo ship as I watched; it reminded me of a bread slicer as she cut one deep gash after another, staying in contact with her bow against the smaller ship's tender side.

The main Assault on Iwo lasted only a few days until the island was relatively secure, but mopping up operations continued for some time. Hudson left with a convoy about a week after the landing in mid-February. Enroute to Saipan about seven in the morning, I noticed a B-29 at a very low altitude just ahead of our screen. I could see one engine stop after another and the plane glided down to land close to our formation on our projected track. Realizing it was in trouble we headed towards it before it hit the water, and were alongside within five minutes. Despite what looked like a smooth landing it must have been a very rough one for the crew. Of the twelve aboard, we picked up only eight. The pilot and copilot were in the nose which was severed from the fuselage; the nose was down under the water. Most of the survivors were badly cut. This was one of the older B-29s and not as well equipped as the newer models. The only one who came out unscathed was a young petty officer in the tail section. Curiously he had worked in the Boston Navy Yard on the Hudson when she was being built. One of the dead was an Army Air Force Major whom we transferred at Saipan.

It was not long after our return to Saipan that we moved to the Philippines, to San Pedro Bay off Leyte. Here Hudson rehearsed with many others for the last operation of the War in the Pacific, Okinawa. One of the attractions was a thatched officers club on the beach, and as all the rest was teeming with old friends at cocktail hour. This was the place to find everyone.

My crew was fond of animals. We had dogs from time to time and a huge rabbit, so heavy it couldn't make it over the combing of the entrance to a watertight door, as well as others. While in the Philippines, someone brought a monkey aboard. Other ships had done the same thing and word of this reached the boss, the OTC (officer in tactical command) during our sortie from San Pedro Bay. A message from him to all ships directed that those with monkeys had to get rid of them immediately. We were not far from land at the time so at the appointed time we slowed while a small raft was lowered from the stern, with the monkey aboard. I often wondered if our monkey made it back to the beach. The crew had been careful to help.

Okinawa was another of Admiral Turner's operations as Amphibious Commander. In this, Hudson was exclusively a radar picket. There were originally some nineteen and our stations were about sixty miles from a promontory on the western side of the island, serving as a reference point, and known as Point Bolo. Incoming raids were located in terms of range and bearing from this point. It is close to le Shima where the famous war correspondent, Ernie Pyle, was killed early in the campaign. D-Day was Easter Sunday,

April 1, 1945 at Hagushi Beach, on the southwest c6ast. Immediately we realized that one of the main problems would be from Kamikaze aircraft. When we would be relieved from a picket station it was in order to fuel, provision or replenish ammunition; it was always most interesting to find out our next station assignment. There were two located to the North closer to Japan which were always most active. Our pickets took a beating, sixteen of the original nineteen being hit, as I remember, including Hudson. We were very lucky as our damage was insignificant. It happened about five one afternoon just after we had released our CAP in time to permit them to make it back to their base for the night. Generally the planes came from nearby carriers. A Jap bi-plane of the oldest and most antique variety was sighted visually about ten thousand yards to the North of our western picket station where we were patrolling. The ship was at General Quarters and almost on signal this plane attacked at the same time several other Pickets were also hit. The plane headed for our stern zigzagging as she approached. We opened fire at eight thousand yards with the five inch battery and with our 40MM and 20MM batteries when she was within range. The plane passed over the stern at an altitude of not more than fifty feet; our quadruple 40MM astern jammed because the case ejection chute became clogged. From that spot its crew could almost touch the Kamikaze. Round the stern she came heading for the bridge area, the pilot in plain sight. I'll never know why we never hit with our three hundred and fifty odd rounds of five inch but we could see we were hitting with the machine guns. This may have caused the pilot to miss his aim for the bridge. He landed on the focs'le leaving an entire wing aboard as he careened over the side carrying away the lifelines and snaking, which is the crisscross webbing below designed to keep people from being swept overboard. The plane was evidently carrying a bomb as there was an explosion similar to a depth charge when it hit the water. As I looked over the side there was nothing left of it larger than a fifty cent piece. The "souvenir hunters" were soon out on deck cutting up the wing. I was given the center of the meatball, which is the red circular insignia of the rising sun, as well as an aluminum strut. The former you have no doubt noticed to the left of the fireplace at "Woodside," on Fowler's Mill Road. After this unnerving experience, I felt the officers and men needed something for relaxation. Word was passed that anyone wanting a drink could get one in the forward messing compartment. Liquor is not served on Navy ships but all ships carried medicinal whiskey which we dispensed in a very short time. Replacing it was very difficult, I should add.

Logistic support from oilers, stores ships and repair ships was provided from Kerama Rhetto, of f-lying islands some thirty miles southwest of Okinawa. In addition there were floating drydocks, indispensable because of the heavy damage inflicted by the Kamikazes. There were waiting periods for as much as ninety days at times. Damages were unbelievable. I recall one destroyer with much of its superstructure carried away and down by the stern, the main deck aft only a foot above water. Hudson had one man badly hurt by the Kamikaze which hit, a Chief Petty Officer, in the eyes of the ship. He was nearly scalped, requiring about thirty stitches. We transferred him to a large minelayer, Terror by name, in Kerma Rhetto and he was again wounded by another plane as he was convalescing in Sick Bay. Many of the ships didn't make it to port and their losses were considerable. Twiggs was one; its Captain was Margaret Taussig's husband. It was through Margaret that Mom and I met. George had orders from his ship at the time he was lost. Pickets were being assigned in pairs for mutual protection. Sometimes even smaller ships, such as Landing Support types, would be stationed with the pickets.

While on a picket station West of Okinawa, the first week after the landing, Hudson had two small boys, LCS's with her. We called them Pall Bearers as I think their main function was to rescue survivors. I placed one five miles North and the other five miles South. About twelve-thirty at night "Morning Five," the northern LSC reported a radar contact in her vicinity which she said she was investigating. There were supposed to be no friendly ships and none of our subs in our area. A short time later, she reported the contact as a surfaced submarine at fourteen hundred yards and she was going in to ram it. The sub must have been larger that the LCS! Another report from the LCS told us the sub had submerged. She was starting to search with her sound gear. Meantime we headed to her vicinity at twenty-five knots, and then had Morning Five stand clear so we could make a more effective sonar search. After a very few minutes on a retiring search curve a strong radar contact suddenly appeared in our SG (surface radar scope). I knew it had to be the sub yet we wanted to make sure it was not a friendly contact. With our identification equipment, IFF, we had a friendly indication. Apparently this came from a friendly plane on the same bearing but at a greater range. Checking again we were convinced the contact was enemy; we headed for it. Our trackers determined the course as 150 degrees true and the speed eight knots. We were slightly abaft her beam at ten thousand yards. We headed for a position on the bow from which we could effectively fire our torpedoes before opening fire. Meantime we were in contact with an ASW plane who was apprised of the situation and our intentions. About the time we had reached our firing position, without any warning or permission, the ASW plane dropped a flare right in the middle of our area. In thirty seconds, the sub had again submerged, no longer on our radar. Our Combat Information Center (CIC) marked the spot where the sub was last seen and we headed for it at twenty-five knots. At two thousand yards we slowed to seventeen knots which is good speed for echo ranging. Within a few seconds we had a solid sonar contact; we stayed with it for over four hours. I was still in a jump suit, sleeping attire, long after daylight when we were still in contact. We kept the same sonar operator on the Sonar Stack for fear we might lose contact if we gave him a relief. Hudson carried a total of about sixty-five depth charges which we dropped in patterns, usually of eleven set for optimum depth. As we were running short, we decided to run directly over the sub and determine its exact depth using the fathometer; we did, and had three good indications, 240 feet. Charges were set accordingly and we resumed our attack. Though there was no wreckage or bodies we were sure we had badly damaged or sunk the sub. We make sixteen runs over the sub firing only on the best approaches. A friend of mine, Dr. Tom Walsh, from Lansdowne, sent me a book accounting and listing all Jap warships in World War 11. It confirmed the loss of their sub, 1-41, at that location on the day we made our attacks. Hudson was credited with the sinking.

The constant tension and necessarily prolonged periods at General Quarters were hard on the crew. One of the interesting effects was the increased line at Sick Call. Just about everyone was run down for lack of sleep; common colds were prevalent. I made every effort not to go to General Quarters until Jap planes came within fifteen miles. To my surprise, however, I noticed that when General Quarters was sounded, the crew was already at their assigned stations - this was true for any hour of the day or night. Finally, I learned the secret. The steersman on the bridge had a rudder angle indicator next to the wheel; it is normally used for him to signal to steering the rudder desired when control has been shifted to steering aft. The indicator is graduated from zero to thirty degrees in five degree increments. Steering aft is located just aft of one of the large crews living compartments. There was a speaker on the bridge for aircraft warning information and this was heard by all hands on the bridge. Our steersman on the wheel hearing the report of an incoming raid would use his rudder angle indicator to signal to steering aft that we had a plane at so many miles from the ship, and this before General Quarters had been sounded. Steering Aft was continuously manned and the watch would pass the word forward to the crew sleeping in the adjacent living compartments. The crew apparently was more interested in earlier information than the additional sleep which I had in mind for them.

One day we were assigned a southern picket station with a CAP consisting of four Marine Corsairs (F4U's). These Marines weren't adept at flying precisely in formation but they were spirited and ready for anything. Our air search radar picked up a raid of eleven Jap planes coming in f rom the southwest, apparently Formosa. Our controller vectored our CAP to intercept and they shot down eight before the raid reached our area. One of the CVE's, Sangamon, was passing nearby, about five thousand yards from us. The last three Japs continued to close and one by one came out of the clouds at about three thousand feet, trying to hit the carrier. The first two dove and missed by a short distance but the third made a perfect bullseye, diving right into the flight deck. Fire immediately erupted and the carrier was soon enveloped in smoke. We closed the carrier with our fire and rescue stations manned and went alongside using our hoses to try to help fight their fires. In doing so we got too close and had three fires aboard Hudson too. One was a fire in a floater net just aft of the bridge, another was amidships, and a third was caused by a jettisoned plane which landed between our depth charge racks from the carrier flight deck. Somehow we were able to get rid of the plane and extinguish the fires, however the carrier seemed to be in a slight turn and we were on the inside so we damaged our superstructure and lost the port wing of the bridge by hitting the carrier's overhang. Three of the Sangamon crew were trapped in a compartment next to us and simply stepped aboard Hudson unscathed. We made three passes alongside and sent our doctor over to assist with their wounded. She had lost fifteen but a number of others needed treatment. Alongside, the exploding machine gun ammunition sounded like firecrackers. Sangamon was able to control her fires and clear the vicinity taking our doctor with her. It was some time before we got him back. Having lost our port wing on the bridge required our being taken off the picket line. Before leaving for our repairs in Guam, we went into Kerama Rhetto where Picking, commanded by CDR B. J. Semmes came alongside and took all our ammunition. Hudson then proceeded to Guam in company with Arkansas, one of our oldest battleships.

Guam was a welcome respite after thirty-four days on the picket line. Its ingenious repair facility fashioned a new wing for the bridge from a B-29. I know we must have been the only destroyer so configured, and they performed a beautiful job of face lifting. One Fritz Gleim, a legendary character, was in charge of the weird assortment of ships requiring repairs. While in Guam, I tried in vain to get permission from the Fleet Gunnery Officer, under Admiral Nimitz, to replace my ten torpedoes with machine guns. At this stage of the war torpedoes weren't much help.

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