Signalman 3/c, COMTRANSDIV 10, USS Henry T. Allen (AP -30), USS Argonne & COMTRANSDIV 14, USS Hunter Leggett, & USS Clay, USN

   I joined the navy on a minority cruise January 30,1942, thereby missing the first 2 months of WW II. My desire at that time was to see the SURRENDER Documents signed in Hirohito's Palace.

   The first orders sent me to Great Lakes Naval Training Station. . A group of men from this area. . (Ft. Worth / Dallas Texas), assembled in Dallas to board a train to enter the navy at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. An over night train trip (in coach class), along the way, we picked up more recruits and arrived in Chicago the afternoon of the second day, Feb. 5, 1942. There was a school bus waiting to take us to the base.

   The barracks, we were assigned, was not finished, but was complete enough be occupied. The exterior siding was still to be installed.

   The new "boots" were introduced to hammocks as a sleeping apparatus. After a show and do session we were introduced to shown the other accommodations. The first night in a hammock is a lesson, in not tossing and turning in bed. We never used hammocks on board ship or at any station,but we carried hammock and sea bag any time we were transferred.

   After a very cautious night and an unusual new experience of "REVEILLE". We were directed, as a group, across the street to the Mess Hall for a breakfast of Baked Beans. (Now THAT is what the navy does to make you welcome. . )

   When we had completed breakfast, we were directed to a large (Gym type) room and given a medium size cardboard box and told to remove all jewelry and clothing, except underwear pants, and put it in the box, to be sent home. This finished, we spent the rest of the morning getting 4 shots, a vaccination, blood samples, and being issued uniforms.

   At the completion of "Boot Camp", I was fortunate enough to qualify for Signal School I give credit to my Boy Scout schooling in Semaphore and Morse code to this. Now this is living, to make it even better there was a 10-14- day period between "boot camp" and the beginning of class.

   After a bus ride to Ft. Worth and a week's leave, then return to Chicago, to attend Signal School on the University of Chicago campus.

   We berthed in a women's gymnasium, that was rented for the Signal School), we slept on 2 high metal bunk beds), ate in a fraternity dining room, our classes for flashing light (Morse code) were in a field house (the one that was involved in the development of the Atomic Bomb. ) and out of doors for flag hoists, semaphore.

   The fraternity dining hall, (a social lesson, for a guy that had not graduated from High School !). The "Home Style" table was served by a steward. We used China, glassware, silver, and the food was not "beans for breakfast".

   At the completion of the course my grades were good enough to earn a promotion to Signalman 3/rd.

   Out of signal school my assignment was to COMTRANSDIV 10. passing thru Amphibious Training in Little creek, Va. . Construction of the amphibious training base was started July 16,1942. Arriving there July 31,1942 indicates it was very PRIMITIVE housing and living. Army tents on wood floors. Army folding canvas and wood cots. , We trained with a group of regular army people,(fellows that had been in the army almost long enough to retire, but were being held for the duration. )

   This mixture was a sort of "cross-training". We learned their procedures, and vice versa Practice landings were conducted on islands in Chesapeake Bay, using LCP's. (Landing Craft, -Personnel)

   We ate Army food, (Army cooks), prepared on gasoline fired field ranges The cooks worked in a 3 sided corrugated shed, The food preparation was done in the back part and the ranges were about the middle area and the serving line was under an open front (porch) side

   We used our navy stainless steel, partitioned trays out in a flat open area to eat. If it was raining, we hunkered down and pulled our ponchos (Army issue) up, over our head and tray to keep the rain from our food. . After eating we cleaned out our trays in a garbage can, washed them in another garbage can of hot, soapy water, with a fiber brush, rinsed them in hot water and stacked them. (From the lap of luxury -to pioneer living in a short,-- coach train ride. )

   From this camping out, after a truck ride (don' t remember the color of the truck-O. D. or navy) to the navy pier, I boarded the USS Henry T. Allen (AP -30). COMTRANSDIV 10 was a group of signalmen, radio men, yeomen assigned to a flag officer to assist the regular crew with the additional command and communication duties associated with office of a flag officer.

   The Henry T. joined more ships out of New York and other East coast ports to begin a trip to the North Africa area, Operation "Torch" (landing in Morocco).

   My duty was to land with the 5th wave, and stay ashore, as a link between the landing force and the ships sending materials and troops to our beach. After 3 or 4 day, during this time ashore (armed with a Thompson. 45 cal. sub-machine gun, a. 45 automatic pistol l (that I had no training to use). I was not aware of any communication from the beach to the ships, the decision was made to move up the coast to Casablanca to facilitate unloading, in a port. In Casablanca, the French battleship Jean Bart was scuttled at a dock side.

   Upon completing the unloading, we returned to Norfolk, picked up a load of boot marines and went to Panama Canal, Christmas day we were in Panama City. The next day we traversed the canal and entered the Pacific Ocean.

   In a force that included a cruiser *USS Montpelier), and 6 destroyers. other AP's and AK; s we headed for Samoa,(Pago Pago).

   The USS Henry T. Allen entered the realm of KING NEPTUNE Dec. 30,1942 in Pago Pago, we saw some of the results of the battles around Guadalcanal. (the USS Pensacola was removing bodies from the compartments that were flooded when she was torpedoed in a naval battle off Guadalcanal, Nov. 30,1942.

   Proceeding to New Caledonia we entered the realm of THE GOLDEN DRAGON on Jan, 15,1943 along the way, we encountered a cruiser that had the bow blown off, and 4 destroyers-2 with bows were towing 2 without sterns returning to the states for repairs.

   Entering Noumea, the aircraft carrier Saratoga and 4 destroyers were going out. The destroyers had shell holes in their superstructures. It became obvious that there is a war out here. While anchoring, it was hard to keep from looking at the ships that were damaged in some manner.

   COMTRANSDIV 10 was transferred. from the Henry T. Allen to USS Argonne, to USS Hunter Leggett (Coast Guard manned) & re-designated COMTRANSDIV 14.

   Shortly after we had settled aboard, I was diagnosed with the Mumps and transferred to the USS President Jackson for transportation to the USS Solace for quarantine and treatment. When released, the Pres. Jackson had finished her assignment and carried me back to the Hunter Leggett. The Liggett made 13 trips between Guadalcanal and New Zealand. We took Marines that had been training in jungle warfare on Guadalcanal to N. Z. for R&R. Our area of operation was transporting supplies and personnel around the area of Efate, New Hebrides, New Caledonia Espirito Santos, the Fiji s and other small bases.

   Latter part of October, 1943, we took aboard the marines to be landed on Bouganville. An over night trip was all it required to reach our destination, Empress Augusta Bay, Bouganville, Solomon Islands. After a short bombardment of the landing area, we started debarking the troops and their weapons and supplies. It was a very productive day, but we had not completed unloading supplies, so we spent the anxious night. Before sunrise the Japanese from Rabul tried to catch us in the bay, a US Navy Task force (that included the Montpelier) cut them off and we watched the ships battle in the early morning. The US Navy did it's job, and I am able to write about it. . A later air raid on us was ineffectual, too. (MAN, the tide had turned !). In those says the IJN was frequently the winner. Later that morning there was an air raid by a few enemy planes, but no damage to our efforts.

   The USS Hunter Liggett returned to the states, after stopping at Bora Bora, to embark some Army Radar Unit, The ship and crew had been away from the states 16 months and therefore we could fly a "HOMEWARD BOUND" pennant. we entered Mare ISLAND for repairs and we were granted 2 weeks leave for each watch. was I was able to arrive home for Christmas, and a 2 week leave.

   After this welcomed respite, we regrouped to Mare Island and were stationed aboard the USS Bellatrix for transportation to Hawaii, there was a cargo of $2 dollar bills marked "HAWAII" and beer-(the money was entrusted to the enlisted men to guard, officers drew duty on the beer). We were at the Pearl Harbor Replacement Center for a week or so waiting for the ship to be our new station. Apparently, we were supposed to go aboard the USS Calvert, but instead we were assigned to the USS Callaway

   We had been scheduled to go aboard the USS Calvert, but somehow were shifted to the USS Clay.

   April 10,1944, COMTRANSDIV 14 was moved to USS Clay which participated in the invasion of Saipan on June 15,1944.

   In the time before the landing because of personality conflict the ship's leading signalman decided to have me assigned to the deck gang. As a member of the deck gang, among other things, I was assigned as crew of a landing craft. When "D" day arrived, I was in the third wave. After this action, I can't remember our travels, until the return to the Philippines Oct. 20. 1944.

   For the action at Leyte (Tacloban) my duty station had been returned to the signal gang. From the action at Leyte to Christmas I lost track of our sojourn. (Sometime in this period we went to Moritia-just across the bay we could see Halmahara. (There were 75,000 Japanese isolated on Halmahara until after the surrender).

   Christmas day of "44" we were in Seeadler Harbor, Manus, Admiralty Islands. The damage caused to the harbor by the explosion of the ammunition ship USS Mount Hood (Nov. 10, 1944) was still evident and sobering, but we had the most unusual Christmas imaginable,

   Some time near 0800 we put the Captain's gig in the water and about 1030, the gig hove into sight - decked out with red & white ribbons. With ribbons from the bow for reins to Santa (ship's doctor), dressed in Santa suit, sitting on the cabin of the craft approached a few of the other ships in the harbor, requesting the location of the "USS Clay" after receiving directions to us, the coxswain hailed us, asking if we were the "USS Clay". When they were assured we were the Clay-they requested we hoist them aboard. Replaced them in the cradle for the Captain's gig. They opened the proceedings with a gift of a fifth of "Johnny Walker for the captain then called out the section leaders, and had a gift for every sailor aboard (ditty bag or carton of cigarettes). Top that for an UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS !!!

   The next action was the landing at Iwo Jima. After Iwo, we were transferred to the USS Ozark (LSD-2) for transportation to the USS Elmore (APA-42) and returned to the states and end of hostilities. From the Elmore, we went to the San Diego Replacement Center.

   While cooling our heels at the Center, I found that the U. S. Grant Hotel hired a small crew sailors (8-12) to clean the Kitchen of the Coffee Shop during the time the shop was closed. The night of the surrender, the hotel people used the ones that desired to stay earning money, and kept us all night putting clean linens on beds in rooms. (so my Time in the Navy was just lost,)

   The Replacement center, was giving shore jobs to anyone that had 18 months sea duty, I had 33 months sea duty, but they were intending to send me to a LST in the China Sea area. After some loud and vehement protest, by me, they reconsidered and transferred me to, to the building that housed the 11th. Naval District Headquarters. and the Signal Tower on top of the building at the foot of Broadway Street, in downtown San Diego. . . Personnel assigned to this duty station received subsistence pay because there was no housing or mess facilities for this station. We lived in private boarding houses in different parts of town.

   Arrangements at the house where I lived were, hot breakfasts, build your own sandwich and cold drink for lunch, the evening meal was a hot meat, 2 hot vegetables, a fresh salad and dessert, coffee or tea, iced or hot. When we were going to be on watch, we had a brown bag, sandwich and apple, orange, or banana. (Wonderful living conditions!!)

   In late November, 1945, I was sent to Camp Wallace, Texas (near Austin), to be discharged.

   My navy experience provided world travel, many ships. I saw a lot of the world and a lot of the navy.

                                               10 Ships

                                                 6 Stations

                                                 5 landings

                                               33 mo. sea duty

                                                 2 "Homeward Bound " Pennants

                                                 3 Years-10 mo. 6 days (1406 days)

                                                    War lasted 1364 days

                                                     Henry 1310 days during the war.

-----   Henry H. Stone

          HenryHHSLTD@aol. com



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