+14 Hudson History page 2

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

Page 2
WORLD WAR II - USS HUDSON DD475 continued.....

Early in July we started the preliminary bombardment at Guam. The amphibious forces earmarked for Guam had been at sea for over a month since their landing had been delayed because of the movement of the Jap fleet towards Saipan. A few days before the landing Bennett and Hudson went in close to the beach to pick up a Chief Radioman by the name of Tweed who had managed to stay one jump ahead of the Japs who controlled the island. He broadcast frequently from one hideout after another and finally plans were made for his rescue from the beach North of the Crote Peninsula and Apra harbor. As scheduled Tweed came down to the beach from the jungle vegetation but was reluctant to attempt to swim through the surf; Bennett sent in a motor whaleboat with a line to assist. He came out safely and told quite a story of how he had survived in the jungle. The Japs knew he was on the island but couldn't find him. Returning home after a long absence he found his marriage had gone to pot as was the case of many others in World War 11 whose fate was unknown for months on end.

On the day of the initial landing at Guam, Hudson was assigned to Agana, and the landing beaches to the South of the Irote Peninsula. Our marines landed without too * much opposition; some of the natives on the South end of the island left the island in order to stay ahead of the Japs who were being pushed southward by our marines. A dugout canoe with three natives came to our vicinity, and to our surprise, one of the natives stood facing us with a sailor's white hat in each hand. He sent us a message, "Request permission to come aboard," in perfect semaphore. As the canoe came alongside, I noticed that the native amidship had a badly wounded knee. We lowered a man over the side to assist in rigging a sling so that he could be hoisted aboard. However, this Guamanian would have none of it; he took the - line and threw a quick bowline for his chair and signalled for us to hoist him aboard. We did. After treating his knee, which had been hit by a grenade, we arranged for his transfer to Appalachian, one of the amphibious command ships in the objective area. It had a long accommodation ladder and I'll never forget the sight of this wounded Guamanian hobbling up this ladder, coming to attention at the upper platform, saluting the colors and then the Officer of the Deck before coming aboard. Obviously he was one of the old timers who had been around our Navy during our long tenure in Guam before World War 11.

One day while patrolling north of Guam we passed close to the wreckage of a Jap Betty, one their most effective bombers, and noticed one survivor still with the plane. Putting our motor whaleboat in the water with a small well armed party we tried to encourage the Jap to surrender; he resisted and tried to swim away from the boat which quickly overtook him and picked him up. He was aboard for a week and at first seemed scared to death. We rigged a hammock for 11tojoll as he was called, forward of #1 stack and the torpedo tubes, stationed a guard with him and took good care of the young airman, about eighteen. Finally he was transferred by hi-line to one of the new battleships for interrogation - I might add we were trying out a new rig and he was the first to use it!

The shortage of food was a concern during the Guam operation. However, on one occasion while alongside an oiler, the battleship Tennessee was also refueling from the other side and her Supply Officer, Bob Northwood, was an old friend. Bob was carrying a large supply of meat so we took advantage of the opportunity to keep a steady stream of their boneless beef coming over to the tanker and then continuing to our after replenishment station. Usually, much of the meat was lamb from New Zealand so this windfall made quite a hit. I liked the lamb but couldn't understand why the wardroom never had kidneys. I found out they were all going to the CPO Mess; we quickly took care of distributing the kidney input in an equitable manner. Another delicacy were the huge flying fish, 12-15 inches which would fly into the unlighted ship at night, hitting the superstructure, stunning themselves, and remaining aboard. Each morning my steward, Gilmore, who at one time worked in FDR's mess, made a regular tour of the main deck each day; many times I had fresh flying fish for breakfast. During the Saipan - Guam operation Hudson remained underway for seventy-five days; we had run out of just about everything. Our storerooms were at rock bottom but we still had dehydrated eggs and an unusual surplus of canned peaches. I never had a desire for either after the war. When Guam was pretty well secured, although Japs remained in their hideouts for long after their organized resistance, Hudson returned to Espiritu Santo to prepare for the next operations - Palau and Yap. The latter was cancelled. It was great to be back for another visit with Daddles and in a base which had everything we needed. He dined with about ten senior officers on his Staff and such visiting Flag Officers or dignitaries who happened to be in port. One night I remember meeting Lieutenant-Commander Harold Stassen, aid to Admiral Halsey. Stassen ran for President several times. I had never seen Daddles happier. Before the war ended I had visited just about all the bases in the South Pacific and none could compare with Espiritu due I think to his influence, I'm sure. When we came in with Wasp survivors, we used to send foraging parties to the old French plantations. There were no roads and nothing in the way of facilities excepting that afloat. In just a year all this had changed. There was even a large floating drydock in a nearby bay. Interestingly, Tennessee and California collided just off its entrance and the dock was required so the location of the accident was most fortunate. Espiritu had an officer's club that was jumping every evening. It also had a good hospital with abundant doctors and quite a few nurses who were a new attraction. USO shows were being scheduled but Hudson never was around for these activities. After going ashore one evening, the Captain of our squadron flagship complained about an ammunition barge still being alongside his ship and not having been towed away when he returned. He sent a nasty message criticizing the support from the base which went all over the South Pacific. It said that the mission of the Forces Ashore was to support the Forces Afloat, echoing the words of Admiral King. This was a slap in the face to Daddles, Commander Naval Base. The next morning when Daddles saw the message he sent his car and driver to the pier and requested the Captain to report to his headquarters. The Captain apologized but Daddles insisted that he make his apology public by sending it to all the addressees in his ill advised message of the night before. There was never any doubt about who was running the Base. In Espiritu Santo, Daddles was in Seventh Heaven.

By the time Hudson was ready to deploy for Palau, Hudson had all new lines, all the provisions she could carry, necessary voyage repairs made, equipments peaked, and last but not least, a couple of beautiful long glasses for the signal bridge. These were on the allowance list for cruisers, not destroyers. The signalmen were delighted; they now could read flaghoists almost to the horizon.

The entrance to Espiritu, like all harbors, was netted for protection against submarines. The main ship channel, conventionally used in peacetime, was mined so access to the harbor was through a rather narrow entrance from the East, rather than the South. The presence of mines was disseminated by Notices to Mariners and Intelligence Bulletins. While in port all ships had to ensure that they were up to date on this vital information. The President Coolidge, which took us to China in 138, was remiss in this regard, hit a mine or two and sank in the deep water within about a hundred yards of the island. She was loaded with tons of badly needed supplies and because of the depth it was a long time before salvage operations were completed - a costly mistake.

An amusing incident occurred amidst a Fleet visit during Daddles' tenure at "Santo," as he called it. One of the senior officers on the Base was invited to a small carrier for dinner. Such ranking officers had their own assigned jeeps. Returning from the ship he saw his own jeep being hoisted aboard a barge for further transfer to one of the ships in the anchorage. Needless to say, this instance of "jeep napping" was nipped in the bud but there were others that were not.

I mentioned the unsatisfactory charts during the invasion of the Solomons, especially at Bougainville. Because of this, one of the first requirements at all the landings was an accurate hydrographic survey made by a hydrographic ship assigned to the operation. It was amazing how quickly such a ship could complete and issue very satisfactory field charts only a few days after a landing. Jap fishermen had been charting these waters for about fifteen years just in preparation for World War 11 and expansion of their empire to the South. Beginning with the Palau operation excellent Jap charts were issued to all ships. Such charts had about four times the number of soundings and much more detail than the charts with which we sailed. We understand the Japanese charts had been discovered during the occupation of one of the atolls and salvage of a Jap ship. We used Japanese charts for the rest of the war in the western Pacific.

On D-Day off Palau, Hudson's assignment was in a fire support group of several cruisers and destroyers under Rear Admiral Hayler, father of a classmate. Our job was to support the landing on the small island of Angaur, across the channel from Pelilieu, a very costly operation for our Marines, under the legendary Chesty Puller, a close friend and shipmate from Augusta days on the China Station. In the approach before daylight it was obvious the destroyer screen of our formation would not clear another formation also headed for their assigned position in support of the landing. The screens became enmeshed and our squadron flagship, Fullam, - collided with the old four stack destroyer, Noa, nearly head-on. The two ships side swiped one another, leaving one of Noa's propeller shafts embedded in Fullam's bow. The investigation involved the two Captains in the collision but I felt the fault was further up the line as the formations should have easily maneuvered to clear one another. Fullam's speed was reduced to twelve knots and it wasn't long before Whitey Taylor shifted his pennant to Hudson, and we became his flagship. Whitey had been an All American lacrosse player as well as being Captain of the football team which tied Washington in the Rose Bowl in 1924. Angaur is tiny and our ships almost encircled it; our prearranged fire resulted in shells landing fairly close to us from ships on the other side of the island. At Pelilieu many Japs took refuge in caves on the side of high cliffs. Small observation planes were helpful in finding these hideouts. One of our four stack destroyers, Bainbridge, commanded by a friend, Eldridge Baldridge, found herself in a minefield, with mines visible ahead and astern. She gingerly cleared herself without too much difficulty. More and more mines were found floating off the Jap held islands in the western Pacific. We found it was very easy to explode them using our forty millimeters stabilized and controlled by our main battery director. Hudson made a trip to Kossol Roads in the northern part of Palau. One of our destroyers, Wadleigh, had hit a mine and another destroyer had gone alongside, rigging lines fore and aft, keeping her afloat until assistance arrived. Returning from this visit, we tried to assist a large landing craft aground on a reef close in to the island. For a couple of hours we tried unsuccessfully to clear her; I felt further effort on our part was not warranted and might endanger the ship.

After Palau, our squadron headed for Manus in the Admiralties. There was a tremendous concentration of ships and many familiar faces at the evening "O" club rendezvous. I then learned I had been selected for Commander. It was only a few days until most of the ships headed for the Philippines while our squadron proceeded back to the States for overhaul in the San Francisco area, the Hudson at Hunter's Point. We proceeded first to Vallejo where we off loaded our ammunition.

While offloading, I was trying to make arrangements for a flight East. Someone got word to me that Mom was already on the West coast to meet me. I'll never forget our race against the evening fog to get down to San Francisco. Leaving Vallejo, the fog was beginning to cover the mountains as it rolled in from the sea and it would be a very short time before we had zero visibility. We made much more speed than permitted. Whitey Taylor, looking over the side as we were making twenty-seven knots remarked, "Dick, I don't notice much wake, do you?" That was my cue so we made it to our berth, South of San Francisco before the fog rolled in. We had been gone fourteen months and didn't want to wait in San Francisco Bay, of all places, for visibility to permit us to go alongside.

Distaff At the time Hudson was back for overhaul in the Fall of 1944, 1 was living with Nana in Twin Beeches in Newport. Through a very close friend in Washington I learned that the ship would be coming into San Francisco soon. Information on ships movements was extremely closely kept. However, I knew my source was absolutely reliable and I must get out to San Francisco immediately. The question in my mind was how to make travel arrangements. A close friend, Peggy Grey, daughter of Admiral Oldendorf, knew an influential priest in Providence who arranged for my travel with Rocky from Boston to Chicago. Nana had called Gene Tracy, President of Zenith and a close friend, to get us transportation from Chicago to San Francisco, so with this in mind Rocky and I were driven to the train in Boston. Gene Tracy met us in Chicago and we stayed at his home for a couple of days until our train left Chicago. I mention this for you should know how extremely difficult it was for civilians in wartime to make any travel arrangements. My next problem was to make hotel reservations which I did at the New Fielding near the St. Francis. The ship hadn't arrived and not having a husband I would not be permitted to stay in the hotel more than five days. Another friend in San Francisco, Jane Hine, learned from her father, a senior Supply Officer, that Dad would be arriving in Mare Island in a day or so. He knew because he had arranged for supplies to meet the ship. So Captain Hine had one of his men go aboard in Mare Island (Vallejo) and tell Dad I was in San Francisco. There was no way I could get a message to him at sea as ships' movements were strictly classified. The message was delivered to Dad as he was planning to make arrangements to fly East; he thought I was back in Newport. When the New Fielding hotel was informed that Dad was in town we were permitted to remain in the hotel until the ship completed her overhaul six weeks later. It was a great reunion and the highlight was our trip to Yosemite which in those days was completely unspoiled.

The return from San Francisco was another story. I was unable to reach Gene Tracy's agent so I felt lucky to get aboard a train headed East. Rocky and I boarded a troop train which had a few cars for women and children. The service men were fed all during the day but the civilians had only one meal a day and that was dinner. It was usually about nine at night by the time we got into the dining car. As a result the mothers bought crackers and snacks wherever possible along the way. The children fought; the mothers were depressed at having to say good-bye to their husbands, not knowing when or if they would ever see them again, and of course, some women were pregnant and ill. One woman spent all her time in her bunk, moaning, "Oh, I feel so nauseous." Her ten year old son was a terror; he was the oldest and a bully. We called them "big and little nauseous." One of the mothers finally had had enough of him. She grabbed him by the hair and marched him down the length of the car, nearly shaking his teeth out - no more trouble from that quarter.
End of Distaff.

Our stay in San Francisco was forty-two days, then a five day Readiness for Sea and off we would go again. Time passed much too quickly. But we made the most of our time going to Yosemite as well as taking in all the night spots and restaurants. Solaris on Maiden Lane was one of our favorites, and there were good spots along the Embarcadero with seafood a specialty. Considerable work was accomplished by the shipyard, and most significantly was our conversion to a radar picket. Bennett was similarly configured giving the ship an ability to determine a plane's altitude as well as the basic equipments for control of assigned aircraft, known as a CAP (Combat Air Patrol). With this capability we were assigned a fighter director team of three officers, two especially trained as controllers and the third in electronic maintenance.

Earlier in the course of my command of Hudson one of the nuns who knew my mother at her school, St. Mary of the Woods in Indiana, sent me a small plastic statue of the Blessed Virgin which she hoped would help us through the war. The statue was only about three inches tall. I showed it to the bridge force and found a little corner in the overhead of the Pilot House for it. In late October, when we entered Hunter's Point for overhaul, I noticed that it was missing. However, after overhaul, when we left for San Diego and Shakedown Training and another deployment to the forward area, the statue was back where it belonged. One of the signal gang had taken it upon himself to keep it in a safe spot while the yard force were working on the ship.

The timing of our overhaul caused us to miss the invasion of the Philippines and the major fleet actions including Surigao Strait where Admiral Oldendorf and his old battleships defeated a large Jap surface force. At the end of our forty-second day there were literally hundreds of electrical leads connecting us to the pier and the inevitable clutter and debris related to any yard period. It was almost necessary to cut ourselves away; though there was still work to be done, the war was on and we could stay only the time allotted, no more. One by one each ship wound up its overhaul and headed for shakedown training in San Diego under the Fleet Training Command and specifically the Underway Training Group headed by Captain Roger Simpson, a real tyrant. Simpson inspected each ship as it arrived from overhaul. The trip from San Francisco to San Diego at sixteen knots takes about a day. Simpson and his staff would be waiting to come aboard just at the time the ship entered the harbor and moored to her assigned buoy. I mentioned how busy our forty-two day overhaul had been and during the five day period we were readying ourselves for sea we still had shipyard workmen aboard, as some hadn't completed their work. There was no time to clean the ship for the kind of inspection awaiting us. But we did the best we could and held a Field Day all day after clearing the Golden Gate; the signal force were working after midnight I well remember. We entered San Diego at eight in the morning and Simpson came aboard immediately, as expected. When he reached the bridge, he remarked, "What this place needs is a field day." I could have punched him in the nose. But we came through this nightmare better than some of the others. He reached the quarterdeck of one ship and said, "III be back when this ship is ready for inspection."

By this time we had a new Commodore, Whitey Taylor having been relieved by Captain Joe Daniel, a great friend and as I later found out an avid fisherman. When all nine ships had completed their required San Diego training he gathered all the Captains together at the Cortez Hotel the night before we deployed. Daniel knew, I guess, we all were licking our wounds when he told us all, "Well, gentlemen, tomorrow we are going to take this bunch of junk across the ocean". Our squadron was as good as any and he knew it too! The next day we all sailed for Pearl Harbor.

We stayed in Pearl Harbor until after Christmas, 1944. Part of the time we were employed as Gunnery School ship, conducting shore bombardment training at the range on Kahoolawe, a deserted uninhabited island not far from Maui. We would carry thirty odd young officers at a time for indoctrination in the control of naval gunfire in support of an amphibious operation. One amusing incident comes to mind when we once had such a spirited group of reservists with us. One evening we were all waiting to hear a "live radio braoadcast" of a fireside chat by the President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. All preparations had been made to pipe the address throughout the ship over the public address system. At the time Hudson was carrying the Division Flag and our Commodore was one Fondville Love Tedder, whose southern accent you could cut with a knife. One of the young visiting officers was a master at immitating FDR and while we waiting for the President he preempted the loudspeaker system pretending he was the the President. Most of the officers were in the wardroom when he began, "Fondville Love Tedder, on your feet." The Division Commander stood up and this young reservist, immitating FDR went through the most amusing dialogue as he recognized Tedder for his service above and beyond the call of duty. It was a riot and poor Tedder had swallowed the whole act longer than expected. Antics such as these helped during the long months away from home. After Christmas in Honolulu we headed for Saipan to rehearse for the invasion of Iwo Jima in February 1945.


Go to More Hudson History page 3
Back to Hudson History
Return Hudson Home Page