Tales of the South Pacific
Home Up Japanese Surrender of Aguijan Iskand

 

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Tale of the South Pacific on the WPB 83336

In his own words - Ed Cammel, SoM2

There were four 83-footers loaded on the Frank Wiggins Liberty ship in NY City in March of 1945.

Photos by Ed Cammel

 We went south, through the Panama Canal, up the coastline to San Francisco where we caught a convoy that zigzagged across the Pacific for 54 days

Crossing Equator Ceremony

After Ceremony

before we touched land at Admiralty Island, and then to Tacloban on the Leyte Gulf. The 83-footers were split up and I never saw another 83-footer until we decommissioned at Samar, Philippines in 1946. Although our mission was Patrol Duty, it was basically a year's vacation for us.

The only thing I remember doing was to haul some members of the 208th Bomb Disposal outfit to an island (don't recall which one, Bohol, I think) so they could dig up some Filipino General that had been killed and buried in a section of a dugout canoe that was boarded up to make a coffin so his body could be taken back and buried in a national cemetery. Other than that we took a lot of day trips to other islands and anchored offshore and swam, fished and traded with the local natives.

Once we found an LCVP drifting and towed it in to Manicani Island where we were stationed. We hauled it out on a Standard Oil dock where the building was bombed out, pumped out the tanks and overhauled the engine. That was our play toy for as long as we were there. It had no number on it, so we never knew where it came from.

We had a boatswain mate who was a "gatherer". One day he came back with some climbing spikes so he could climb coconut trees to pick coconuts. There were 2 Filipino girls who came down to our boat every day to get our dirty clothes so they could wash them for us (for free). We did give them a little food now and then. One was named Natividad Unabia and the other one was the "ugliest" person I ever saw. Her named was Rosie. Our "gatherer" made her a dress out of a mattress cover and trimmed it with some khaki cloth. He sewed it with a sack needle and store string, but she wore it every day as long as we were there--it was a lot better than the one she had.

We were stationed at Batangas Bay south of Manila, Mactan Island and Manicani Island. All this happened in a year's time. This year's time included our 54 day trip over. We could buy cigarettes (Chesterfields only) for 5 a pack and when we saw a different ship come in and anchor, the "gatherer" went out in our LCVP and usually came back with a few cases of Coke or several gallons of ice cream.

As you know there were no bathing facilities on an 83-footer. Our "gatherer" somehow got a 3/4 ton weapons carrier and a 300-gallon tank on wheels. We backed it down a causeway that had a bomb crater in it. When we got to the crater we stopped and hung a pipe out over it and made a wooden platform to stand on and had a shower. It was cold water, but the weather was warm so we didn't care. We thought we were in "hog heaven." We also built a "clubhouse" on the causeway and had a punching bag, some weights, etc. in it.

 

 

Tale of the South Pacific on the 83331

In his own words Jack Parker, SM 2c

At the beginning of 1945 we were ordered to New York where we were refitted with radar ,electric ventilators, new caulking and copper plates on our bottom. This was accomplished at Wheeler Shipyard. We were then loaded, with 3 other 83 footers (the numbers of which I can not remember), on to a Liberty ship called the SS Henry Durant at Bayonne N.J. Departing Bayonne, we traveled south to and through the Panama Canal . We continued our long slow trip all alone across the Pacific with the first stop being the Admiralty Islands where we stayed for a day or so and then on to Hollandia which at that time was part of Dutch New Guinea . We picked up a convoy there and proceeded to Tacloban Leyte in the Philippines.

We were offloaded there and proceeded to the Lingayen Gulf. We ran anti-submarine patrols from Lingayen Gulf to Subic Bay and then to Manila and return. Our sea watches were 4 hrs. on and 8 hrs. off. As far as I remember we never saw another 83 footer while we were there although I know they were all over the islands. I still remember seeing the movie Return to Bataan starring John Wayne and Anthony Quinn in an old movie house in Manila.

During one of our patrols, although we knew there was a friendly submarine area near Subic Bay, we encountered a situation where a small blip suddenly showed up on our radar and all of a sudden about 500 yds from our starboard bow, a submarine started to surface. Sheppe (I hope I spelled it right) ,a kid from Milwaukee, said "It's a submarine and it's a big s.o.b." It was indeed a fleet submarine with a 5 in. gun forward and a 3 in. gun aft of the conning tower. The skipper had already sounded GQ. and we started to send a challenge on our signal light. We did this 4 or 5 times as I remember with no answer and here we are ready to open fire with our little 20 mm and submachine guns, when all of a sudden they answered our challenge with the proper signal and we stood down with a great sigh of relief. Naturally it had taken a few minutes for them to climb the conning tower and open their hatches and then find the ever alert and "Always Ready" Coast Guard sitting on top of them.

At the end of the war we were transferred to Mactan Island which is across the river from Cebu City and is the island where Magellan is buried. There is a monument to him on the island and we did have a chance to view it. This part of our tour was almost like a vacation since we stayed tied up to the dock with the exception to those times when we would visit other islands which in itself was enjoyable. The weather was warm, the waters calm and so clear you tell heads or tails on a coin ten feet down. We were able to scrounge up a jeep for our personal use from the army along with a small speed boat, so of course we built an aquaplane which for the younger people was a wide board and a forerunner to water skis. We would take turns riding this down the wide river until the natives told us about the sharks etc. in the river. We also were able make a deal with Seabees and they supplied us with delicious pastries and ice cream whenever we asked for it and then fresh water hose showers on the dock . Life was good

During this part of our tour we encountered a couple of experiences. The first was when we tied up to a Navy tanker to refill our gas tanks and someone on the tanker turned the wrong valve causing gasoline to pour all over us. We were afraid of a spark and were very happy when we were completely washed down and could pull away from the tanker. Needless to say we were not very happy with that tanker crew. The second experience we had was when the Navy called us to help locate a barge that had broken away from their towline during a storm. We located the barge but then it required two men to swim over in pretty rough water to the barge and help retie the lines to the navy ship. Tex Miller, our sonar man, volunteered and it was then between the other signalman , Larry Traxler from Mt. Pleasant S.C., and me. Larry said that he could not swim so it was up to me. We completed our task and signaled the navy ship and then we dove off the barge to swim back to the 331. Our crew had hung three or four lines over the side for us to grab. I missed the first or second before grabbing the next line and was hauled aboard . Larry and I remained close friends for many years and I teased him every time we visited and he always insisted that he could not swim but how he was looking out for me with the submachine gun to protect me from the sharks. Larry died several years ago at the age of 70 and I still miss him. We were so fortunate to have such a great skipper and a great crew.

In Dec. 1945, I returned to the states on the U.S.S. Tazewell (APA 209) arriving in Jan. 1946 and after a stay in the hospital for a bug I picked up, I was discharged on Feb. 26 1946.

 

 

 

Okinawa Typhoon

In his own words - Waverly R.Hammond , WPB 83430

About the 83430, I went aboard her in New Orleans after serving aboard the Gresham and Diane. Was loaded aboard an LST and transported to San Pedro, CA, offloaded and used for training for a couple of months. Loaded aboard the Liberty Ship USS George D. Prentiss and transported to Okinawa via Hawaii, Eniwetok, and Ulithi. Was offloaded again in Okinawa and stationed on an Island called Tsuken Shima and just waited for something to happen.

IT DID! A typhoon struck and we made it across Buckner Bay and ended up on the mud flats! After getting a tow from a couple of boats at high tide we got off the flats and found that we had lost about twenty feet of keel flush with the garboard strakes and it was hanging down. Sawed it off with a hand saw and everything OK.

Another typhoon hit in October. We were tied up to a stone jetty and thought we were in good shape. Watched as 83301 and 83306 bashed each others bottom in with their life line stanchions. We (430) then found out that a piece had been ripped out of the stem and exposed the chain in the chain locker. This was patched up with a steel and cement patch. The 83407's crew had rammed her up against a Raven class mine sweeper and abandoned her. The next day she was found by a destroyer about forty miles at sea with one engine still running and the bulwarks stove in so you could look into the berth deck. Hereafter she was known as the "flattop".

About the first of Dec.1945 the net tender Aloe with the 83430 and 83407 in tow started for the US. They had to dump us outside of Saipan because its port engine started to have problems. (I did see another 83'er at Saipan.) Went from Saipan to Tinia to Guam where we were loaded on an LSM. From there we went as far as Wake Island where the LSM's fuel tanks had to be repaired because they had ruptured! Finally under way again and arrived back in San Pedro about the first of March 1946.

Well, I've tried my best to fill you in on some of the history as I remember it. I'm now eighty years old and things get kind of foggy