Sid's N T I N S Locker
Part-1 Thanksgiving Memories: A Great Thanksgiving On The High Seas BBS-003
Part-3 On To Samar BBS-003b
Part-4 Moon Over Samar BBS-003c
Thanksgiving Memories
Out To Sea - Life Aboard A Troopship
Memoirs of a WW-II Skimmer - Part 2
by Bob Harrison WWII MoMM/2c

After our Thanksgiving feast, we settled down into a daily routine that was boring, to say the least. The sea remained calm, the sun was an everyday occurence as we moved across the glassy waters on our way to somewhere, we knew not where. Everyone was sure we were headed where the "action" was and everyone, in a spirit of bravado, seemed content with that, yet I was full of apprehension and I think this feeling was shared by practically the entire ship’s complement.

The loudspeaker broadcast daily warnings concerning the hot, blistering south Pacific sun, the gist of which was "Now hear this: Do not fall asleep in the sunlight because in 15 minutes you can be badly burned by the tropical sun." This warning was broadcast several times each day yet some of the young, foolish sailors failed to take heed and did, in fact, find out to their sorrow and extreme discomfort that the warnings were not to be ignored.

Some of the troops played cards which ran the gamut from poker of various kinds, through bridge, gin rummy, euchre, hearts, cribbage, 7-up, solitaire, and pinochle. Others went below deck into the troops quarters and shot craps. Still others read what they could find but reading aboard a troopship is sparse. There was a tiny library for the troops from which I was able to obtain several novels which I would probably never have read otherwise. "Beau Geste" was one such book. Another was "All Quiet On The Western Front". I also sharpened my skills at checkers while aboard. I had some good training before I left Charleston and I achieved quite a reputation among a few checker players aboard ship. Many lolled about in whatever shade could be found, or along the railing to gaze out over the endless sea and ponder their futures which at that time looked bleak.

Now and then another announcement would be blared over the squawky system. One such warning went like this: "Now hear this, you who are hanging on the rails, be warned that if you fall overboard, we will not turn this ship around to pick you up. We are at war and we will not leave our convoy to search for anyone." This was a sobering announcment and I am happy to say that we lost no one although we were told that it did happen on other ships and in other convoys. This latter announcement began after we picked up a convoy at Pearl Harbor. For several days after we left San Francisco, the plan was to transport us directly to our destination but this plan changed abruptly.

We had been at sea for several days, perhaps six or seven, when many of the troops lining the rails called our attention to something. The something was the wake of first one, then two, then three torpedos passing across our stern, perhaps 200 yards distant. The sight had a sobering effect on the entire ship. Suddenly we had a realization that there were people out there whom we could not see but who could see us and they wanted to hurt us! Our Captain seemed to realize this too because he suddenly announced that we were changing course for Pearl Harbor to wait for a convoy which would be forming there. No one voiced any opposition to this plan!

At Pearl Harbor, nothing much changed in our routine, the one exception being that once a day we were permitted on the dock for an hour of calisthenics. We sat there for a month until a convoy was formed. During that month, my primary source of entertainment consisted of reading, sleeping, an occasional game of checkers and/or cards, and sitting at the rail watching the various warships head out to the unknown war somewhere out there.

I saw my first battleship while sitting at the rail. She steamed past my position and to this day I believe she took ten minutes from her stem to her stern to pass by. At last, I was beginning to absorb the fact that I was going to war.

NEXT: From Pearl Harbor to Hollandia, New Guinea to the Admiralty Islands to Leyte to Guiuan, Samar.

Part-1 Thanksgiving Memories: A Great Thanksgiving On The High Seas BBS-003
Part-3 On To Samar BBS-003b
Part-4 Moon Over Samar BBS-003c