"THE MAD ANTHONY"
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The Story of A Ship and Her Crew
By Lieutenant Jere D. Lustig, USNR
Any attempt to tell the full story of a ship and her men must at best be but a feeble effort. The full story is to be found only in the men themselves. The joys, the fears, the experiences of the men who are the life blood of the ship are the true story of the ship. It is with this thought in mind and with a desire to tell the story of their experiences that this story is written.
The ANTHONY Is not unique; true, we who have been with her since her birth feel that she is just a little better, but this could be the story of any one of these courageous "little ships".
A complete story would include the hours, the days, and even the weeks of monotonous and dull routine operating and it is in just these times that that longin for our loved ones at home, and the desire to be back in civilization is the greatest. During the heat of an engagement, there is no time to be lonesome. For the destroyer man, always on the go, there are endless numbers of these uninteresting jobs which are so very necessary even though they may not seem important to us at the time. It is just such routine work that enabled the navy to build and supply the necessary bases from which the war was eventually carried right to the very islands of Japan themselves.
Although it is impossible to put all of the personalities, hopes and fears into this story, it is earnestly hoped that this account will enable us to look back with satisfaction at a job well done. It is with this thought in mind that this account is dedicated to my shipmates for their service on board the ANTHONY; and it is quite fitting that such an account was started while riding at anchor off Okinawa Island, and completed in the waters of the Japanese Homeland itself.
It was in Sasebo harbor, Kyushu, Japan, that Lieutenant Lustig left the Anthony. We who are left will add a postscript to his story to tell former shipmates of the return to the United States and the last days before decommissioning in Charleston, South Carolina.
On the quiet tropical night of February 15th, 1898, the peaceful Havana Harbor was turned into the scene of one of the tragedies of our nation. As the mighty U. S. S. MAINE was shaken by a terrific blast and then gutted by fire, the Captain's orderly, Private William Anthony, USMC, made his way through the fire and smoke to report to his superior in the same tradition of courage and devotion to duty that was to symbolize the career of the ship that was later to honor his memory.
Commissioned in 1920, a flush deck, "four piper" destroyer was too late
to carry the brave Marine's name into the fray in the first World War;
and after being converted to a mine layer, she was later scrapped.
A SHIP IS BORN
As the smoke of confusion brought about by the treacherous attack at Pearl Harbor cleared away, there came the opportunity for a second destroyer to carry the name of Anthony. Built as one of the large fleet of mighty midgets of the sea and packing a wallop that no destroyers had ever before possessed, this new destroyer was destined to carry on this Maxine's traditions through most of the second World War and to emerge with an enviable record of duty "well done".
On the 2nd of August 1942, at Bath, Maine, the keel of this new destroyer was laid; and in but a matter of weeks, on the 20th of December 1942 after being christened by two teen-age girls, the Misses Alice and Frances Anthony of Penn Yan, New York, the sleek grey hull slid down the icy ways into the bitter cold water of the Kennebec River where she was to be moored until she was ready for delivery to the Navy. A spectator at the launching was Commander David B. Cohen, USN (then a Lieutenant) of Montpelier, Vermont who had been assigned as the first Engineering Officer.
As the mighty "A" neared completion, the first of her officers and crew started to arrive to assist in the preparations for her fitting out as a man-of-war. The second officer to arrive was Lieutenant Commander Clarence R. Deller, USN, (then a Lieutenant) of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Jere D. Lusting of Chicago, Illinois (then an Ensign) arrived; he was to be one of the three officers to serve on her until the Japs had been crushed and the war ended. The two remaining officers who were to share the Anthony's wartime career, Lieutenant Commander Norman C. Wiatt, USNR (then Lieutenant) of Los Angeles, Calif., and Lieutenant James G. Raines, USNR of Dawson, Georgia, (then an Ensign) arrived soon after. There were many more who were to be with the Anthony for her entire war career.
WE JOIN THE FLEET
On the 26th of February 1943, this newest addition to the rapidly growing United States Fleet made the high speed delivery trip to the Boston Navy Yard where the commission pennant replaced the emblem of the Bath Iron Works at the truck. Captain R. C. Grady, USN, who accepted the ship on behalf of the Navy turned her over to the first of her three wartime skippers, Lieutenant Commander Blinn Van Mater, USN, of Peru, Indiana. After reading his orders and taking command the new skipper, who was to receive his promotion to Commander before relinquishing his command, spoke the prophetic words to the assembled crew and civilian guests, the latter mostly the families of the officers and crew; "Let's make our ship smart and lets keep ourselves smart so that both at sea and ashore the Anthony will be a smart, thorough, efficient ship that will bode no good for any vessel or object not flying the colors of the United States." How well that mission has been carried out can be best attested by the array of Jap flags that adorn her director at this moment, twenty-two, representing planes destroyed and six representing major bombardments from Bougainville to Okinawa.
ON OUR WAY
After three hectic weeks of braving the elements in wintry Boston as well as the hazards of a Navy Yard geared to the highest possible speed, spending our leisure moments with our families and enjoying the night life in a not too blue Boston, the "A" steamed out of the harbor and sped northward, first to Casco Bay, Maine, thence to the more gentle climate of Cuba, where not far from the scene of her namesake's memorable deed, she went through her training period in the Guantanamo Bay area.
The training period was made more realistic by the participation in two submarine hunts; and one German undersea raider was attacked by depth charges. Unfortunately, we were unable to say that the U-Boat was destroyed, but as one of the men said, "We sure must have shaken hell out of her."
Upon completion of the brief training period, the sleek craft headed once more for Boston, and spent a short period getting ready for her ultimate work in the Pacific. On the 7th of May, the Anthony stood out of Boston Harbor, headed for Norfolk, and for her real role in the war. Three days later on the morning of the 10th, the Anthony, accompanied by the BENNETT and the ROE, steamed proudly out of Norfolk escorting the first of the new Essex class carriers to the Pacific. it was a proud moment for all of us, although it was tempered somewhat by the knowledge that it would be months or even years before we could again hope to see our loved ones.
After spending a short but pleasant few days in "the zone", the three greyhounds of the sea herded their charge into the Pacific and the mighty carrier headed for Hawaii secure in the knowledge that she was well guarded. It was on this part of the voyage that the Anthony started another record that is equally as important as that of the enemy destroyed.
On May 20th, Lieutenant (jg) Reuben H. Denoff, USNR, was rescued after making a forced landing at sea. This made him the first of many of our gallant pilots and aircrewmen who were to be saved from the sea by the efforts of this ship, which although dedicated to the deadly business of destruction, also took even greater pride in the saving of lives of our men.
PARADISE OF THE PACIFIC
May 31st found the little group arriving at Oahu after having been welcomed to the Pacific Fleet. There followed two months of intensive training for the operations that were to come. Although this time was spent In training the "A" was now doing her job, as this training included operating with and providing anti-submarine protection to the battleships and carriers that were also training in the area in preparation for the time when the fleet would start on the way to Tokyo.
It was during this stay in Hawaii that our Navigator, Lieutenant (jg) Rinaldo Guinasso, USNR, (then an Ensign) of San Francisco, California, and our Asssistant Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant (jg) D. Ross Denison, USNR, (then an Ensign) of Hutchinson, Kansas, joined the ship to serve with the others who were serving with the proud ship until the fall of Japan.
OFF TO THE FORWARD AREA
Feeling better prepared, but still eager to learn more before encountering the enemy, the Anthony steamed out of Pearl Harbor bound for an extended stay in the forward area. At that time, the forward area extended to the central part of the Solomons; before the sleek grey hull was once again to knife her way through the Hawaiian waters, that forward area was to be moved all the way up into the Mariannas.
CROSSING THE LINE
Escorting a troop convoy wasn't particularly rugged, but the arrival into the domain of Father Neptune was. The ship arrived at the equator on the 19th of August and the Pollywogs had been well prepared for their entry into the mystic realm by the few but enthusiastic shellbacks among the crew.
So important was the occasion that for the two days before, an officer watch had been maintained on the top of one forward and one after five inch gun mounts; and this officer clad in a steel helmet, fur lined coat, white shoes, and white gloves, but nothing else, searched the horizon for any sign of his majesty, using a pair of lead sounding weights for binoculars, and carrying a horn upon which he was to announce his sighting of the old man of the sea. The lookouts didn't find him, but they did acquire a good sunburn which put them in a better physical condition for the ceremonies that were to come.
The fatal morning arrived and at nine in the morning His Royal Majesty Neptunus Rex ' Ruler of the Sea, (and on any other day, Lieutenant Commander William V. Pratt, USN, the Exeutive Officer) came on board to conduct the ceremonies. He was attended by Davy Jones (who normally used the name of Theodore A. Roginski, Chief Boatswain's Mate, USN, of Long Island, N. Y.) and a host of other royal personages. All manner of fiendish tortures were perpetrated on the lowly Pollywogs who appeared before the court and were not too adequately defended by the Defense Attorney, Lieutenant Norman C. Wiatt, USNR, who being a shellback himself, wasn't too concerned about the charges brought by the Prosecuting Attorney, Lieutenant David B. Cohen, USN. Since justice was quite blind, the inevitable decree was "Give him the works" and another Pollywog was on his way to kiss the tununy of the Royal Baby, get his haircut by the Royal Barber and the special attention from various other prominent members of the court. These last three personages normally were W. R. Wright, WT2c, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; H. I. Boren, BMlc, and P. G. Sylva, CBM USN, of Passing, Virginia.
The Royal Queen was attired in a grass skirt, a suitable crown, an odd wig, and some padding under a "bra" that was designed to give a feminine appearance to the most unfeminine person of the young Ensign from Georgia, James G. Raines, USNR. The unfortunates who appeared before the Royal Court were too busy wondering about the strange lack of justice to properly appreciate the beauty of this Royal Mermaid.
There isn't room to tell the whole story of tne day, but it is impossible to close without a mention of the "Tunnel of Love" which appeared to those who had the privilege of crawling through it to be merely a long chute made of canvas, filled with garbage and coffee grounds, and ending with the surprising greeting of a firehose of salt water being pushed into their weary faces. Truly, survival was a fit test for anyone going on to face the Japs.
THE SOUTH PACIFIC FORCE
The ship had been happily on its way to Australia, that most famed of places down under, but as the fortunes of war are fickle, the "A" wound up in Noumea, New Caledonia and after a short stay there, trying to talk French, and buying our first souvenirs, the now eager ship headed for Havannah Harbor, Efate in the New Hebrides where with the Bennett, still her running mate, she joined Admiral Halsey's mighty South Pacific Force.
The next few weeks were devoted to more training, ever mindful of the job ahead and the necessity for being in top condition of readiness. Between training, an occasional convoy job kept us aware of the fact that we were now really on the job; but we were eager to start on the "Road to Tokyo".
Our first task was a huge training battle problem which ended in a sweep in support of the Central Pacific Force's raids on Marcus Island. We had our first taste of operating with our own Squadron of similarly built new destroyers northeast of the Santa, Cruz Islands and there on the 3rd of Sept., having encountered no enemy, we retired to Havannah Harbor, where on September 6th, Captain Edmund B. Taylor, USN, (then Commander), hoisted his pennant in the ANTHONY as Commander Destroyer Division NINETY, and the "A" was now a proud flagship.
But before we were off to Tokyo, we had our first real excitement when the ship resounded to the cry of "man overboard". It seems that M. A. Webber, MM3c, USNR, of Trent, Oregon, leaned over a lifeline on the fantail to dispose of some trash when the line gave way, and Webber joined his trash. His sudden departure was sighted by the alert Boatswain of the Watch, Percy G. Sylva, who got the word to the bridge, and with perfect teamwork the ship was swung out of the formation, and returned to locate our missing man. It was but a matter of minutes before he was located and picked up by the motor whale boat and, although he had been brushed aside by the bow wake of the destroyer that was close astern of us, he was suffering from nothing more serious than surprise.
STARTING TOWARD TOKYO
The start on the road began for us when on the 1st of November 1943, the Marines landed at Empress August Bay, Bougainville Island. They had been escorted to their landing beaches by some of our newest and finest destroyers, and the ANTHONY was among them. The preliminary bombardment of the beach was the first one for the mighty "A" and we went at it with real enthusiasm. The Japs sent several raids of planes to assist their grounds forces but these were driven off by the fire of the ships who were also aided by some of our fighter planes of the air arm of the South Pacific Force.
This was our first experience with Jap planes and while we were right in the center of things, the Japs apparently were wise to remain out of the range of our guns. Not so with one of our sister ships, WADSWORTH DD516, and although she shot down a Betty she took a bomb close aboard to receive the first casualties suffered by any ship of our squadron. While the casualties were very light, we were nevertheless impressed by the reality and grimness of our business. The real targets, the troop laden transports were safe and thus the air attack was a failure.
After a second air raid at noon, the transports completed their unloading and the return journey to what was to be our home base for the next few months was begun. We arrived at Purvis Bay, Florida Island, Solomons Islands on the 3rd of November after an uneventful trip.
Little time was spent at our base and on the 5th we were once again on our way with a second echelon of Marines. This was to prove a most eventful trip and two new officers had just come aboard. Lieutenant (jg), Ernest C. Hipp, USN (then Ensign), of Clinton, South Carolina, who was to become our gunnery officer in time for the Iwo and Okinawa Campaigns was one of the new Naval Academy graduates.
The convoy had not reached Bougainville when word was received to send ahead two destroyers to cope with an anticipated move by the Japs who were expected to have some destroyers off the coast to cover counter landings. The ANTHONY and our sister ship the HUDSON were selected, and we proceeded at high speed for the area of possible activity. While we didn't encounter any Jap destroyers one could hardly say that we didn't find activity. Shortly after midnight on the 8th, the ship went to battle stations due to a surface contact ahead which was assumed to be the enemy. The target turned out to be a native sampan and was passed by, then an aircraft was heard in the immediate vicinity. It wasn't long before it had passed overhead, and the after machine gun control officer, Ensign P. J. McConnell, USNR of Long Island, N. Y., looked up, saw what appeared to be a Liberator and heaving a sigh of relief, remarked "Aircover" . . . His remarks were punctuated by the explosion of a stick of bombs about 125 feet off our port quarter. Since we believed the plane to be friendly, we made efforts to identify ourselves to him, and as he came in a second time, we blinked recognition signals to him. Sy Coatrey, CSM, USNR, of New York, N. Y., saw the response, and remarked "He's answering us with a flashing red light". Unfortunately these flashes of red were tracers and we were straffed from the stern to the bridge by 50 calibre bullets. As this was not the time to further consider his friendly nature, we let him have a few "flashes" ourselves, and he immediately departed for safer places.
Fortunately no one was hurt although there were several miraculous escapes. W. F. Hastik, TM2c, of Chicago, Illinois, and W. L. Smith, TMlc, of Powellville, Maryland, who were manning one of the torpedo mounts had bullets pass between them and shatter the instruments in front of them, and Dr. John R. Seal, Lieutenant, (MC), USN, of Proffitt, Virginia, who was lying down in the wardroom had one pass over him in such a manner that had it happened a few moments earlier, "It would have struck him as he had been standing up working in what would have been the line of fire. We were unable to contact anything else but our own motor torpedo boats, and in the morning we joined our squadron screening the transports as the troops were being put ashore.
Thus dawned what was to be quite an eventful day. Shortly before noon a large group of enemy planes was contacted approaching the transport area, and although the fighter cover did an excellent job, there were just too many of them; in the next few minutes, over 100 planes attacked. They were dive bombers, torpedo bombers, and fighters but they were no match for the intense AA fire, and the raid was almost completely destroyed by the combined fire of the ships and the fighter pilots who braved our own AA fire to assist us. Being in a favored position, the mighty "A" was able to shoot them down like ducks in a shooting gallery, and by the time that the smoke had cleared away, eleven planes had fallen to the fire of our guns. This did not count any probables, possibles, or assists. One dropped a fish for our benefit before he was "splashed" by the fire from our main battery, but we maneuvered, and it passed about 150 yards astern. Another was making a bombing run on one of our older destroyers whose AA battery wasn't quite as modern or deadly as ours, but we made fast work of him; there was a burst of smoke, a flash, and he just wasn't there.
While we were still discussing the phenomenal score of eleven planes definitely destroyed by our ship alone, a record probably not equalled by a destroyer until the Okinawa Campaign, we were again alerted to another attack but we were just departing with the unloaded transports, and we sought refuge in a rainstorm which appeared as if in answer to our prayers. We were protected by this same storm for several hours on our way "home" and while we were thus protected, the "bogies", unable to get at us, located and attacked our covering force. Their attack was so furious, that the comment was heard made by one of their ships over the voice radio, "There are so many fish in the water it looks like Friday". One of those "fish" found its mark, but the "A" and her group found their way back to base safely.
THE MILK RUN
With a beachhead firmly established at Empress Augusta Bay, the supplies and troops had to be kept moving, and that was our job for the next few months. We would convoy, any type craft from the stately Assault Transports to the slower but nevertheless effective, LST'S. We had our share of "bogies" and the Japs provided us with many excellent pyrotechnic displays on several of the nights that we spent steaming back and forth from Guadalcanal to Bougainville. The snooper planes would drop the flare to illuminate us for bombers or torpedo planes, but except for costing us the loss of our sleep, we received no disasterous effects. We also learned to love the dark nights, and to shudder at the thought of being out in the bright moonlight.
Our monotonous job was broken only by a quick trip to Noumea in the latter part of November when we escorted some returning transports, and we made the most of the opportunity. What had seemed to be somewhat primitive and not too inviting a place when we had arrived there direct from Hawaii and the states now took on new beauty as we arrived there in the relatively cool breezes after the heat and strain of operating in the Solomons.
BARGE HUNTING AT NIGHT
The next diversion from the "Milk RuN" was an assignment we received late in the afternoon of January 20th, 1944; we were detached along with the , USS PRINGLE to proceed to Bougainville Strait between the southeastern tip of Bougainville Island Island. Both were enemy held, and our PT's had been making regular attacks on their barge traffic when, on the night of the 19th, they had encountered a Jap Motor Gunboat. This was a bit large for them, and we were the answer, and an effective one. Shortly after midnight we spotted a group of troop-carrying barges moving between the islands, and opened fire. The gunboat which had been covering them, and hadn't been spotted up to that moment, opened fire on the PRINGLE. We immediately shifted our fire to this craft and were in turn honored by their shifting their fire to us, and a stream of tracers passed over the bridge. We returned the compliment by directing our 5 inch, 20 and 40 MM fire on it. It was but a matter of a few minutes before it was reduced to a mass of burning wreckage.
The interest in our work was heightened by the reporting by our spotting plane, an invaluable Black Cat, of high speed wakes heading toward us, and we knew that we were in for an encounter with enemy PT's. Shortly thereafter a torpedo wake was sighted heading for us, but again we dodged a "fish" by radical maneuvering. We turned our guns on the PT's and they retired to the safety of the shoreline, but only after we had definitely damaged one or more, and possibly destroyed them.
To leave this part of our story without a word about our friends, the "Black Cats" would be, shortsighted, indeed. In all of our experiences in the Solomons, we were looked over at night by these true friends and they were a source of continual comfort to us as we steamed close to enemy held waters in the danger scented night. This particular plane was heard to remark to another in the vicinity, "They are shooting hell out of everything and they won't even let me drop my bombs". This was indeed typical. Later, we did allow him to drop his bombs on some barges that had taken shelter in the reefs near the beach where we were unable to get at them. This soothed his hurt feeings.
The early morning light found us steaming at 30 knots for our refueling base at Hathorn Sound, happy in the knowledge of having destroyed a goodly number of enemy small craft, and having definitely broken up his operating schedule for some nights to come. A return trip the next night, which was fruitless, proved this.
THE NEXT STOP-GREEN ISLAND
After having spent a couple of weeks putting the ship back 'in first class shape and getting some AA firing practice, we were ready to set out on our next invasion. The initial landings on Green (Nissan) Island were made on the morning of the 15th of February 1944, and having escorted the LST group to the objective, we were scheduled for fire support duties. These did not materialize due to the absence of any appreciable number of Japs to oppose our landings. The main interest was the large number of hecklers which surrounded and illuminated us most of the night. We did have a small surprise raid early in the morning, but the combined fire of the ships, plus the assistance of our P-38's took care of these "SED's with wheels down" and excellent lessons in the importance of lookouts and recognition were demonstrated.