This document was sent in by Joe McFadden who served on LCT 1082
His son in law is making a web page for him at
FE/A4-3/H4-7 LCT (6) FLOTILLA 31
Serial 402 FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
10 August 1945
From: Commander LCT (6) Flotilla 31
To: Commander, Amphibious Forces,
U.S. Pacific Fleet
Subject: Typhoons in LCTs
17 July 1945
Reference: Com LCT Elot 31 ltr.
Enclosure: A. Brief statements of Commanding Officers
B. Some Personal Comments (OMITTED)
C. Some Nice Things that were said after it was all over.
1. Reference (a) narrated on the 5,000 mile voyage of LC (FF) 427 and 36 LCTs of this command, under their own power, from Pearl Harbor to Leyte, P.I. During the three ensuing months the 36 LCTs were engaged in various logistic functions in and around the Central Philippines. Reference (b) ordered LC (FF) 427 and LCT Groups 91 and 92, comprising 24 LCTs of this command to proceed to Okinawa, again under their own power, LCT Group 93 comprising the remaining 12 LCTs remained at Leyte under ComServ Div. 101. A summary of the LCTs activities from 17 April 1945 to 17 July 1945 renders some humorous incidents perhaps worth relating at a later date. Experiences on their voyage to Okinawa (almost a misadventure) follows herein.
2. LC (FF) 427, 24 LCTs, 4 LCIs and OG 18 escorted by 3 DEs departed San Pedro Bay bound for Okinawa via Casiguran Bay, Luzon, at dawn, 17 July 1945. The escorts and their Commanding Officers are set forth here because of the major role they played in the events that followed.
USS George A. Johnson (DE 583) Lt. Comdr. A. T. Horne
USS Connolly (DE 306) Lt. Comdr. W. A. Collier
USS Kenneth M. Willett (DE 354) Lt. Comdr. W. T. Flynn
Mirror like seas made this leg just a breeze; San Lldefonso peninsula was sighted late evening of 20 July; at dawn the convoy was well inside Casiguran Bay, entered the inner harbor and anchored at 0800 I, 21 July. On this leg one LCT 1082 had its rudder cable snap at night and it floundered around like a wounded duck, but made repairs underway and rejoined in the morning. At Casiguran Bay, OG 18 fueled all craft and each T rechecked all rudder cables and main engines. One other incident was transferring the Medical Officer at sea to treat a sick man. He is becoming quite adapt at scrambling from ship to ship underway, but states that prescribed technique for this evolution must be learned by practice; it is not covered in the BuMed Manual. Distance 533 miles; Average speed 5.55 knots.
Departure from Casiguran Bay was made at dawn 24 July. Same convoy minus the OG 18. Moderate following seas and breezes produced a speed of 5.8 knots. Engines performing like clockwork, it looked like ETA Okinawa would be dawn 30 July and t could be written off as just another uneventful voyage. Almost, but not quite, for on the 25th things started to happen. On 25 July, one DE was dispatched to aid another convoy undergoing enemy submarine attack about 300 miles away. The latter attack will not be further discussed because of possible violation of security, but it was somewhat disquieting to be down to two DEs against the field with known presence of hostile subs; as far as our craft are concerned, it is a known fact that they could not fight their way "out of a paper bag" in any altercation with a sub. At dawn an unidentified plane snooped around the convoy about 10 miles westward; nothing to worry about particularly, but neither was it a welcome diversion. On the morning of the 27th, the third DE rejoined - weather still favorable.
To digress for a moment - a total of over 6,000 miles had now been chalked up by these 24 LCTs under their own power without major trouble of any kind. Everyone connected with this organization had begun to wonder why LCTs ever were loaded on other carriers, for cruising in them had proceeded quite successfully. The next week brought forth a slight revision on this viewpoint.
The FUN (?) started at 0500 Saturday, 28 July and in endeavoring to describe and give a play-by-play account of what followed, all times are given as Item or - 9 zone time, all bearings are True and brevity is attempted.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
0500 - 28 July - Steaming on course 007, wind force 2, position 21-50N., 127-37E., just another beautiful Pacific dawn. In a matter of minutes brisk winds 335 sprung up creating choppy seas - the weather could be observed to deteriorate by the minute. By 0600 the wind was force 6 and the 6,000 mile honeymoon was over. Good fortune had always kept prevailing winds on all previous cruises from everveering to broad on either bow or forward thereof and this had always been a feared condition as those winds produce seas which start to beat up an LCT. By 1000, wind and sea about broad on the port bow had really become difficult to cope with. LC (FF) 427 was using 15 degrees left rudder to hold course. LCTs were using full left rudder to attempt to hold course and everyone aboard, including the cook, was up there taking a trick at the wheel - it was real manual labor.
1200 - Course 007, wind 335, force 6, sea from 330 position 22-13N 127-57E. In 7 hours 26 miles had been traveled, 12 in the general direction of course attempting to make good and 14 set to the right equaling 2 knots forward and 2 sideways. Wind force strong, still 335, seas continuing to pile up.
1500 - C/c 335, wind 335, force 7, sea from 330. It was becoming increasingly obvious that somewhere a real storm was brewing, but as yet no storm warnings had been received. Course 007 had to abandon and a last effort to go somewhat in the right direction was made by heading directly into the wind. This was no better, it lessened the blows on the port bow, but necessitated slowing up a little more. By the 2 miles forward and 2 miles up and down which the Ts were now doing. To explain these were vicious, angry, inconsistent seas, not long rollers which an LCT can handle. In addition they were high waves with sharply breaking crests. The T would get on a crest, the wave would break and the stern would settle exposing the bottom of the
entire first section, where upon another big one might deal it a sharp blow on the exposed bottom. Or the T would tip down over the crest and go rushing down the incline like a gigantic steam shovel intending to scoop up a hundred tons of unwelcome Pacific. Before it could start up the next wave, the latter tumbled into the ramp or dealt the ramp a hard smack, head on. To make matters worse, there was no consistency in the seas actions - no rhythm, every contortion of the T had to be different for every wave was a stranger.
1700 - 28 July - Wind and sea the same. Making preparations to turn back; still no storm warnings to place its location, (4 days supply) LCIs ample fuel, low on water, LCTs 10 days fuel oil, low on lube-oil, low on water. Shortly after 1700 the first typhoon warning received giving 900, 28 July location as; center at 23N, 134 E probably movement West - Northwest, wind force 7 to 8. Roughly this located convoy in upper part of southwest quadrant with typhoon 350 miles east. At this point the only course left which would be steered without cracking up the LCTs were from 090 to 180 on the compass rose - obviously one as far right to South as possible had to be the choice.
1745 - wind and sea same. Overcast, visibility decreasing. Commenced wheeling left 1st course 300 - no good, 2nd course 270 - no good, 3rd course 235 - still no good, 4th course 200, the best we could hold, rough, but placed wind and sea off starboard quarter. At this time it was thought to be very rough going, little was it realized that we had had our last peek at the sun for 4 days, we were to see some rough weather and were to sail 600 miles before the wind. It was heartbreaking to turn just 222 miles from destination, but there was no choice if the LCTs were to be kept in one piece.
0530 - 29 July - course 200, wind 315 force 7-8, (storm warning received, location 2100, 28 July - 23N 132E), our position 21-38N, 127-37E. Wind gusts increasing, seas increasing produced a very unhappy effect. It was like steaming down an endless corkscrew - very boring digestively.
1200 - Course 200, position 20-57N, 127-21E, wind threatening to veer more abeam to about 300, sea seemed to be following around with the wind. Again, as happened throughout, the inconsistency and confusion of the sea was apparent. Everything was piling in off starboard beam making it difficult to hold 200, but even so every now and then the sea would lurch and a Sunday punch unexpectedly broad on the port bow, which shook general hell out of everybody and everything. (Storm location 0900, 29 July 22-30N, 131-30E moving West.) By evening course 200 was becoming untenable, but Escort and Convoy agreed to try and hold it as messages for aid had been sent by DE 583 giving our course and Luzon beckoned for safety.
0300 - 30 July - Course 200, position 19-30N, 127-05E. Wind fetched around to 280 to 300, seas not far behind, with gusts of wind and buckets of sea slapping us broad on the starboard quarter now and then for good measure, as well as steadily from abeam. The situation was getting worse, it was a bad night, the shift threatened to bust up the Ts and was no good for the LCIs; it was pretty unbelievable how that wind could blow and the seas oul hit. We had to ease to course 130, but it was not enough to ease the strain. Sea and wind seemed to be like the dog chasing his tail and would not let us alone. Decision was reached to ride it out until daybreak on course 100; there really wasnt any human choice about the matter. Thru the night rain squalls created zero visibility to add to our woes, Mast head lights, running lights and wake lights helped the LCT boys hang on to the leaders. It was all blind sailing, our radar had ceased to show anything except sea return.
0700 - Attempt was made to come right to no avail, 110 was being steered to make 100 good, we could no longer take abeam winds and seas for fear the LCTs would be flipped over - we had to keep wind and sea off or abaft and starboard quarter.
1200- Course 100, position 19-25N, 128-05E. The damn wind veering to 245, the sea always away behind it, but never making up its mind which way to go for sure, (storm location 1220, 30 July, 22N, 129E.) It appeared that wind and sea were going to force us around into the vortex of the typhoon. The situation aboard LC (FF) 427 now was: Rolls to 45 degrees a regularity, hard shudders passing thru the ship as it took its pasting, diesel oil seeing thru the manhole covers below, covering the decks as the ship worked in the sea, heads as usual shut off as they were spilling on the deck, show bouncing clear of the wardroom table right over destroyer racks (the plates skipped like tiddle-winks), radiomen below had their chairs lashed to stanchions to avoid skating on the oil covered decks.
Wake lights were burned all day, rain, rain and more rain with wind. Everybody dug in and we hung together all day. This night and day seemed very bad - worse was to come.
1600 - Course 100, position 19-20N, 128-05E. Wind about 260 to 245, its co-partner in crime, the sea, not far behind. Even with both forces on that bearing we were absolutely forced to grudgingly give another 10 degrees to the left, now steering 100 to make 090 good. Estimated wind force 9 with over 40 knot gusts. At this time Escort received order for Convoy to put in to Aparri, Luzon, alas, a physical impossibility. Also, storm warning received, (entire area 13N to 26N, 130E to West Coast Luzon blanketed by storm, center stationery at 22N, 129.5E, 3 days high winds and seas), what a prospect.
1800 - Absolutely all of hell busted loose just before dusk. Rain was a solid sheet, wind gusts were indescribable. Visibility a minus six. Running lights, wake lights, masthead lights, anchor lights, yard-arm blinker, recognition lights and blinkers trained after were turned on to try to give the Ts something to hand on to, The LCTs could barely see us , but radio requests became fewer and it was apparent they were becoming lost; also it was obvious that it had become every man for himself to fight for the life of his ship. Later reports established that green seas breaking over LCT conn and cross-circuits of electrical systems broke off any possibility of continued radio contact. Aboard LC (FF) the situation was grave. The seas plunged port bow down deep, then the wind would slap it several lusty blows and keep it there until it seemed it could not right itself. Rolls were estimated to be of 55 degrees. Inside it was "Waltz me around again Willie" on the film of oil everywhere underfoot, if you ever let go of a railing you skated until a bulkhead stopped you. Topside it was your life to ever let go or attempt to negotiate the deck except on the up roll. The awesome spectacle was the apparent vacuum created - momentary lull would be followed by a blast that took the breath away. Every blast was stronger than the last until one wondered how much worse it could get. Great fear was held for the Ts. Signalmen braved the winds to continue sweeping with the blinker lights and had to do so on the down roll, for the up roll could have catapulted them into the sea..
2100 - Things were just plain bad everywhere. (Storm warnings, location stationary at 22N, 129-30E, indications are future easterly movements.) This was the blow that almost killed father. Our hope had been to pass the storm now it appeared that having reached the point due south of it, the damn thing was to go with us. And so it did, adding another day of pounding. With this prospect it was clearly indicated that to give more to the left would be suicide if same was not already at hand. As radio contact broke off all LCTs were instructed to hold 090 or right a little at all costs. It was a night of nightmares the fan-tail was under water most of the time and green seas broke over the conn. Several of us have been in recorded Atlantic gales of 60 knots - we will take them, keep the typhoon. Wind strength is sometimes exaggerated - believe these safely can be labeled 50 knots. Also, when seas can be looked at towering above an LCI bridge, they are sizable. The fury of a typhoon is not an experience desired to repeat.
0700 - 31 July - Morning found us saturated, but sailing - very little respite from gale, none from the sea - visibility poor. Morning box score was present in formation. LC (FF) 427, LCI 617, LCI 980, LCTs 783, 859, 1160, 1196, 1124, 1086, 839, 841, 1085, 840, 1125, 1134; Missing - LCI 690, LCI 986, LCTs 1080, 1157, 1082, 1077, 1162, 1158, 1159, 1315, 1193, 1194, 1195. With fear and trepidation the airplanes were pounded on SCR and TCS for the missing LCTs.
0900 - No word from any of the missing, no sight of them when visibility lifted occasionally. Storm location 0900, 31 July, 21.8N, 131.5E. Wind force 10 (wind strength was not news), but all was bad news for the storm was now going with us. About this time 1195 came up on TCS; radiomen almost crawled on the microphone in his haste to answer him. The following chatty message was received, "Am steaming on course 090 in company with 1194 and 1193, any instructions?" In utter relief, he was instructed to keep coming and watch for flares on the hour or shortly thereafter as visibility permitted. Intermittent radio squalls were still frequent. Very soon 1080 came in on SCR, "Alls well, alone, one engine out, steaming on 090." Next 1158 came thru on the TCS, "Alone, alive, on course 090." Some hours later 1315 contacted on SCR, "Alls well, on course 090 with 1157 and 1082." Next 1156 reported on TCS, "On course 090 with 1077, no one else in sight." Ten were accounted for also two of the LCIs. The remainder of the day was sweated out over 1159 and 1162 and grave concern felt as they did not answer up. At 1700, in they came on TCS and were together - our fears were assuaged, everyone was alive.
1200 - Wind and sea still hammering away 235 to 245. Position, 19-29N, 129-55E. (Storm same, movement east.) Throughout the overcast, rainy afternoon smoke bombs were fired and radio contact kept with the groups who had reported in. None were able to see them, but at dusk 1195 sighted a shower rocket, as did 1315. Course was given for the night - main group held together through another dirty night on course 090.
There has been no opportunity to personally confer with the DEs as to their experience but they likewise must have had quite a ride. From the beginning to the end their efforts contributed mightily to the ultimate success of the venture. On 28 July, the DE 583 immediately assumed the communication burden to inform the outside world of our predicament. Throughout the hectic week to follow, their advise and contribution in analyzing the situation was most welcome. On 30 July, convoy lost sight of the DEs until the forenoon of 1 August, but as far as is known they watched us with their picture machine.
On 1 August they were in the fourth day of their allowance on fuel and even then made the sweeps that located our missing ships. At this point it must have been a case of them wringing fuel out of the engine room waste. On 31 July, DE 583 gave us the welcome news that a tanker and more DEs were on the way to help. Unfortunately, convoy had to keep on running away from them until 2 August when finally able to quit easterly course. It was 1200 2 August before DEs were relieved to fuel - they must have been using lighter fluid from the ships service to keep going.
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0700 1 August (Storm reached farthest point east at 22N, 132E; from there it moved west where it was supposed to go in the first place.) It was still very rough and still the kind of weather no self-respecting, law abiding LCT should be out in. During the night 1158 joined 1080 and both found 1193, 1194 and 1195. At dawn they had sighted main group and rejoined that morning 1080 had two engines go out, dug right in and repaired one in 2 hours meanwhile kept headed our way on one engine. By radio 1315 informed that the 1077 and 1156 had joined 1315, 1157 and 1082. 1159 and 1162 still somewhere together; none of the latter in sight. Those good old DEs started to sweep far out and 583 found 1315, 1157, 1082, 1077 and 1156 far to the south and put them on course to main group.
1200 - Wind and sea still prevented turning back. Position 19-39N, 133-03E. Course still 090 with Mariannas apparently to be our destination. At 1400 convoy wheeled in a large circle to attempt to find tenable course back for rendezvous with tanker and to slow up for those still lost (one trouble throughout had been the necessity to keep speed up to maintain steerageway preventing missing LCTs from catching up.) Forced to remain on course 090, but the five shepherded by DE 583 rejoined. Also, LCI 690 and 986 rejoined. DE 354 guarded convoy and DE 306 ranged far out for remaining missing two; found them about 1700, 19 miles northward and started home with them. Message from CO Group 91, BT - Is there any end to it?
1700 - Succeeded in changing course right to 135 for the night to get south in search of calmer seas; it was still all we could take to the right. It appeared to be easing up, but the elements handed us a few parting slaps for good measure. That night 1159 and 1162 came home.
0600 - 2 August - Position 18-39N, 133-55E, the far east point had been reached - 600 miles the wrong way since turning 28 July. Able to come to course 23 in large rolling seas which all could stand.
1200 - Munro DE 422, Rolf DE 362 and Walton DE 361, relieved our 3 old friends, who steamed away (probably using the wardroom furniture for fuel) to take a drink. For average noon position, CO Group 92 sent; BT - Somewhere between Iwo and Leyte.
2120 - Position 18-16N, 132-43E. After 675 miles of heading nowhere, finally able to come to course 325 and point toward original destination.
0800 - 3 August Rendezvous with AO 38 and Mativier DE 582 and Lough DE 586. Changed course to 270 in rolling sea to begin giving LCTs a drink and some food from- - - - - - - tankers, general situation from brief superficial inventory was, LCT boys bruised and battered. Several masts had been snapped off and most everything swept from decks, stern bulkheads forced in, gunwales battered, a great many had salt water in reserve fuel tanks from 4 days of tank deck awash and several were completely out of fresh water. Bad fuel pumped overboard. Two by fours began to spring up as masts and the ensign flew again. Fueling and watering at sea was tricky and the first time any LCT officer had done so. (There were a lot of first times for a lot of experiences on this jaunt.) One LCT went in on each side of the tanker, 1077 had a man swept overboard between ICT and tanker when a fuel hose parted in the rolling sea. He was promptly and skillfully rescued before being crushed. 1077 came alongside IC (FF) 427 in the rolling sea and over went the Medical officer again sprawling into a gun tub on his "mission of mercy" - man sustained a crushed ankle and drank too much salt water.
1800 - 3 August - All LCTs and ICIs had received enough of what was needed to go on. Course 000. Metivier DE 582 and our original 3 DEs screening, convoy formed and departed for Okinawa. Other DEs and tankers and ICI 980 departed to Leyte. Seas not ideal, winds fresh. 1124 had starboard engine go out with a cracked piston. From 3 August to 5 August, motor machinist mates and ships company performed a noteworthy feat. With only a chain fall the engine was lifted and piston replaced. Anyone familiar with an LCT will recognize this is a very tough job with a tug boom or along side a dock, it is an incredible accomplishment in rough seas with only a chain fall. Meanwhile, 1124 kept station on two engines - reported 3 going again on 5 August.
1200 - 4 August - Course 319, position 20-44N, 131-03E. Fresh winds sprung up 045 and seas began to increase again. CO Group 92 summed up everyones sentiments with a tense message; BT "Not again?" Course was eased to the left and after a squally afternoon, the disturbance stopped to everyones joy. At 2100, LCT 1082 had a steering cable go out and worked frantically thru the night to make repairs, dropping back 7 miles with DE 306 standing by him - rejoined early in the morning. Submarine attack reported 150 miles away, today, kept everyone further on edge.
1200 - 5 August - Course 000. Position 20-44N, 128-58E. More alerts from the DEs kept the tension up, but really boiling down the home stretch for us.(speed six knots - making over the ground.) All LCTs running 1700 RPMs. New storm warnings at 15-30N, 124E spurring us on. 1158 had an engine go out, hung on to the convoy with excessive speeds on two engines and got number 3 going again in two hours. 1157 had one go out at midnight, also hung on and repaired. All LCTs were now like homing pigeons heading for home, understandably so. None wanted to be the one to call for a slow down.
1200 - 6 August - Course 332, Position 24-13N, 128-27E. Barreling along as before, seven knots over the ground. Fresh force 5, winds 000 right broad off starboard bow gave us a parting rough afternoon. (Storm warning at 19-30N) Perhaps we received a flick a that one. It did not increase fortunately, for the 839 could not have taken another blow though her Commanding Officer is the type who would have sat on the engine room leak if need be to keep afloat. Pumps just keep ahead of incoming water, General Quarter, one hour, for possible bogeys.
0600- 7 August - Course 000, perfect landfall on Mae Shima. Seas calm, winds slight. Everyone quite enthusiastic to see just any land.
1200 - 7 August - On various courses passing thru Kerama Kaikyo. All serene.
1300 - 7 August - Convoy disbanded, good-bye DEs, these sailors will never forget you.
1400 - 7 August - Anchored at Hagushi, Okinawa just in time for a Flash Red - in this business there is usually always another day - something new, something different.
And so, after steaming 2385 miles to make good 1400 miles, the longest and toughest LCT cruise went into the archives. The second leg from Cariguran Bay to Hagushi represented a sustained cruise of 14 days, 7 hours, covering 1850 miles and this by craft built for inshore work or 500 miles at best in sheltered waters. Grand average for entire time underway was 5.43 knots ranging from 3 knots at times to over 8 when under full sail.
These 24 LCTs have now traveled 7,470 miles (Pearl Harbor - Johnson Is. Majuro - Eniwetok - Guam - Ulithi - Leyte - Luzon - "Typhoon Corner" - Okinawa) under their own power without a single tow. They have many more miles left in them and Tokyo is not too much farther away.
Ships names and locations are rather freely given herein to try to present the picture. It is requested that security is exercised in the circulation of and by those persons who may care to peruse same.
/s/ C. V. Dilley
LT. COMDR. USNR
CimFIFTH Amphib Force
ComSEVENTH Amphib Force
DE Div 77
ComLCT Gr. 91
ComLCT Gr. 92
ComLCT Gr. 93
BRIEF STATEMENTS OF COMMANDING OFFICERS
Lieut. R. R. Muelbach, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) Group 91
Saturday afternoon on July 28, the radio watch handed me a message which stated that we were to make a wheel movement to the left, one hundred and eighty degrees to try to avert a typhoon heading towards us. My first thoughts were, can the LCTs take it - and by all means lets make that turn, as I had no desire to find out if LCTs could ride out a storm of such proportions. It has always been my feeling that if the boats in my group have to be damaged or lost, Id much rather have the cause be enemy action than by elements nothing can be done to prevent.
After making the wheel movement the sea seemed to get worse as time passed by, in fact, for about three days during that time we were not too far away from our life jackets (for about two more ounces of wind would have blown us all overboard) and very little sleep or food was consumed.
The big scare for me came early Tuesday morning when you kindly informed me that LCTs 1080, 1157, 1082, 1077, 1162, 1158, 1159, 1156 and 1315 were missing, especially when I learned that the 1162 was one of them, as he had been steering by jury rig since most of Monday due to a broken rudder cable not repairable in a heavy sea.
The DEs, our escorts, did a fine job in rounding up our strayed LCTs and guiding them back to the convoy. The last of them rejoined our unit early Thursday morning. They had strayed as far as nineteen miles in two days,
The boats and the officers and men on them underwent a difficult and trying experience. I believe that they proved a credit to the Navy and to themselves. It is my desire to commend all offices and men in this command for a difficult task WELL DONE.
Lieut. (jg) D. B. Patton, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 1313
On the morning of July 28, we were heading into a stiff breeze blowing from the North when we received warning of a storm ahead. We were taking a beating bucking it and it was with relief that we received orders during the afternoon to turn back. It was not so rough with the wind off our starboard quarter, but rough enough that ones stomach felt better if topside in the air. The night was uneventful as we were allowed wake lights.
The morning of the 20th dawned clear and while the sea was still rough and we were continuing in the wrong direction, there seemed to be no great reason for concern as all engines and the galley range were functioning as we bounded on our way. That night we again burned wake lights and there was no strain until 0400 the following morning at which time a rain squall hit and going was tough until daybreak. It was during this morning storm that trouble developed in two engines at the same time. An LCT usually can maintain convoy speed with two engines but it is a losing proposition with only one. Frenzied work on the part of the black gang for several hours enabled us to have two engines part of the time and by daylight all three were again working and we had been able to maintain station. At daybreak the sky was overcast and sea rough, but it looked as if we were riding away from the storm satisfactorily.
This was our status all day and it wasnt until 1800, the evening of July 30th that all hell broke loose. While not yet dark, visibility rapidly approached zero with driving rain, high seas and exceptionally high winds. Even on an LCT we normally look down at the waves., but this evening they were looking down at us. Orders were received to burn running, masthead and wake lights and these helped immeasurably during the early part of the evening.
As the storm struck in all its fury, all hands along with Sis, our mascot and her four pups went into the crews quarters. Apprehension was running high at this point and more than one sailor had a talk with Him during the evening the statement, "There are no atheists in foxholes." now has a counterpart: "There are no atheists on LCTs during typhoon."
No one likes to admit getting lost from a convoy, but get lost we did at about 2030. Yes, we saw an occasional red or green light after that and at one time we spent an hour trying to follow two red lights only to find that they were not part of a column, but were chasing each other in circles. We joined in the game for awhile, but it really wasnt a night for games so struck off on the course which the convoy was following. On this course we continued to see lights during the night and thought that at daybreak all worries would be over and that the convoy would be steaming along visible to all. Maybe it would have been, but at daybreak there was a serious shortage of visibility and all we could see were two misguided LCTs following us. Too bad they didnt pick a winner - this wasnt our day.
We established radio contact with the flagship and learned that our escorts were searching for the strayed, so continued to steer a steady course all day long in the hope that we could be found and led safely back to the convoy. During the afternoon we encountered two more LCTs and blinked a cordial invitation to them to join our little party - divided we were lost, united we still were lost.
During the afternoon we ran out of both fuel and water in our ships tanks and had to transfer from the cargo tanks, nasty business with walls of water continually coming across deck. The engines continued to run and the water only tasted a little salty, so we considered the operation successful.
At darkness we learned that the flagship would set off flares at certain hours. We saw the flare and immediately set a course that would enable us to intercept the convoy. We followed this course until 0130 the morning of August 1st at which time we hit a rain squall and visibility was practically nil so we resumed our course of the preceding day until daybreak. We burned a floodlight for a wake light this night and the other LCTs were able to follow us without difficulty.
Dawn came with the broad reaches of the Pacific in sight, but nothing else. Smoke bombs were set off by the flagship during the morning, but visibility was so poor that we were unable to see them. We were then instructed to put our emergency gear into operation and two hours after doing this we were located by one of our escorts and given instructions as to the course to follow to rejoin the convoy in the afternoon.
At noon we had our first hot chow for two days and while cookie was accused of cooking whatever floated past the galley hatch, it tasted mighty good after two days of cheese and canned peaches. The ship suffered no damage and all hands, Sis and the pups, came through without mishap. It was not a pleasant experience to be tossed about like a chip, hopelessly lost, wet and hungry for two days, but this is war.
Ensign Glenn A. Long, Commander Officer, LCT (6) 1080
The morale of the personnel of LCT 1080 was pretty well broken by preliminaries of the real typhoon which on the 28th of July caused us to reverse our course. When the real fury of the typhoon struck us at dusk 30 July there was no real panic among our men, but rather a deep agonizing fear and hopelessness which can only be felt - no described. In spite of the fear and broken morale, the men rose to the occasion and to a man, stood by to lend a hand in the most excellent manner.
Bad luck dogged us through this storm to further complicate an already trying ordeal. In less than an hour after the typhoon struck, our starboard engine stalled. With the engine out we were unable to keep to our stern into the storm and as we lay helplessly broadside to the sea and storm; the rest of the convoy steamed out of sight. After the engine was repaired we rode out the night in one of the most agonizing ordeals of a life time. It is hard to understand now what an LCT must be made of to withstand the punishment she received through that night. Waves washed completely over us when we lay broadside in the storm and even later they washed over the stern and at times clear up over the conning water.
All of us wore life jackets throughout the night and hung to railings for dear life lest we should be washed overboard. It is safe to say now that by any mans standards there were a lot of Christians on the 1080 the night of 30 July. The men prayed for safety and daylight. The coming of dawn brought little encouragement however, as the storm still bore down on us and amid the swells there was no sight of the other ships about us although we were in radio contact with most of them. Later in the morning, however, three other ships did join us and the four of us steamed in column in the direction where we believed the convoy to be.
We steamed all that day, however and when night fell we were still just the four of us in column and the storm still giving us quite a ride.
During the night of 31 July, our center engine stalled and from then until we finally joined the convoy at noon 1 August we never had more than two engines. Water had gotten into our fuel and all three engines stalled and bad to be repaired as we were being tossed about in the sea. We have only two "motor macs and an electrician in our black gang, but they proved themselves to be three of the best men in the business during the storm. For forty-eight hours they went practically without sleep, laying on their backs and bellies in that little cramped engine room giving all three engines almost a complete overhaul. These men were the life blood of our ship and I couldnt ask for three better ones. Theirs was an accomplishment well done.
During the night of 1 August we contacted another ship by visual signals and by morning he had joined our little column. At dawn 2 August we sighted the main convoy, but it took us until noon of that day to join them with only two engines to go on at time. By the time we were back in the convoy the storm had about worn itself out. The men and ship had withstood a terrific test.
Our ship came through the storm in first class condition. We are unable to find any damage to her in any part, however, the pounding and strain she took must surely have weakened her somewhere. There is no man aboard her now who does not have a tremendous respect for the ability of an LCT to take it on the chin. She is truly a remarkable piece of machinery. Her performance was probably only exceeded by the crew that manned her. I am proud of both the ship and crew and doubly proud to be their skipper.
Ensign Basil W. Kaine, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 1162
The first evenings excitement was heightened, to put it mildly, by the loss of our rudder control. Up to this time the sea, though rough, was manageable and the wind just rising. After clearing the convoy, we fell in astern with our emergency steering operative. The seas were now rugged, but with a relay system and two men on the block and tackles we could remain in sight of convoy. Repairs on rudder cable were initiated, but because seas were breaking over stern. I deemed it unwise to continue. At daylight although conditions had changed but little, temporary repairs were effected. I mention for special praise, BM2c John Geyer, EM2c Thomas Fittante, Slc Poland Fecteau and Flc Eddie Chambers who accomplished quickly and expertly, a difficult and dangerous job and one which saved us from floundering helplessly as the storm grew in intensity.
At 2030 on the following evening we were caught in the trough of a wave and carried for about 45 minutes on a heading of about 180. With 15 degree rudder either way, it was impossible to right ourselves and soon the convoy was lost. While on this heading we took an almost impossible pounding and the respect I have for an LCT now will never be shaken.
We steadied up on 090 degrees and rode out the rest of the night. Late the next afternoon we spotted 1159 off to port and we joined up in support of that old adage, Misery loves company." The following day we changed to 100 degrees and continued on that until picked up by the DE. Our sentiments were expressed very aptly by one man who exclaimed, when he sighted the DE, "There is the most beautiful ship in the Pacific" and it was.
The morale and spirits of the men throughout the storm never faltered even though at times the situation was far from encouraging. They performed their duties in the best Naval tradition and deserve more praise than I can give them.
Ensign Donald Luxford, Commanding officer, LCT (6) 1160
28 July 1945 - 0800-1200 - Chow at eight - As usual - Getting a bit of spray in the quarters from the wind over the port bow and forward section has some spring to it so the sea must be somewhat choppy, but from standing here it doesnt seem bad.
29 July 1945 - 0800-1200 - Wind and sea about the same and we are still riding quite well. Should be making good time - the wrong way.
30 July 1945 - 0800-1200 - No sunrise this morning - plenty of gray about still getting tossed about. Might as well sack in - may need it.
31 July 1945 - 0800-1200 - "Boats" called me at 0800 - get up groggy and struggle into some rain gear. The galley is a mess - the stern void is overflowing and the stove isnt doing too well, but managed to get some bacon and eggs. Find things topside the same - still running a much too heavy sea and wind. Start counting boats and find only 12 - was a bad night, but all have been heard from by the radio except two. The whole column next to ours is gone along with their guide ship - that is something for the books. The DE are out hunting the missing ones. Reporting one group of four about six miles away. Weather report isnt too good, but there is a possibility that it is moving away from us. Quit raining for spells - the wind eased to 35MPH a few times so we could let go of the railing - the sea appears to be lengthening out and getting deeper. Caught one just right that broke over the stern and wheel house. Sometimes the 859 looks to be 50 degrees below us and at other times the reverse.
1 August 1945 - 0800-1200 - Meant to sleep in, but habit was too much so woke at 0800 too awake to stay in. News that the 1080 is in sight along with three or four more ships, so we all feel better - heard about 0330 that their center engine was out and they might not be able to keep pace - this is no sea for less than three engines, but if one must go let it be the center. Still rough and rainy, but things are looking better. Pumping out the port stern tank again this morning - must have a faster leak that before the storm and why not - doubt if we shall ever get it fixed even with a dry dock job. The latest is that 6 DEs and a tanker are on their way to join us. Wonder if anyone knows where we are - within a few hundred miles. Afraid to look at the chart when they tell us - at the rate of the last few days we should be closer to home than anyplace and where else would one want to go. Been topside started to rain so came down. 1080 has two engine out - still in sight - water in the fuel burned out infector tips. How well we know that story. 1158 is with him and the 3 ships are back - leaves seven of them missing - one group of
five and one group of two - A DE thinks he has located the bigger group. The sun was almost out for awhile and with our 3 DEs back everyone is smiling - sea is down considerable though still not an LCT sea it looks might fine.
2 August 1945 - 0800-1200 - Bright and sunshiny - light wind and rolling seas - 1162 and 1159 back in their regular positions - count 6 DEs, but our three old buddies took off soon after the others came. Things seem normal again so that ends this - impossible to write of monotonous existence or recall anything for all one has to do is think of nothing.
Lieut. (jg) J. B. Fuller, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 1077
We lost sight of our guide around 1700, 30 July. The thickening sky and hard driven rain had brought the visibility down to zero. We were able to maintain station fairly well, from the guides of our adjoining columns, until 1900. At this time the rain began with such intensity and the wind with such velocity that all contact (visual) was lost with the convoy.
Attempts to maintain our course of 100 T. was almost impossible due to the wind and large waves. There were many times when we were backing hard on port engine, starboard and center ahead full, full left rudder and were still swinging to the right. Our course varied from 000 to 160 in spite of these efforts.
The rain was being blown with such a great force that it felt, even through a shirt, rain parka and life jacket, like numerous bee stings. This continued all thru the night.
Waves (green water, not just spray) broke over the conn on more than one occasion, all but washing us off our feet. These waves must have been over forty feet high. The canvas over the conn ripped early in the night and had to be slashed away to keep it from slapping us in the head and the radio aerial bent nearly double. It was practically impossible to climb the ladder to the conn and once, one of the men was caught halfway up and nearly washed overboard. After that, we rigged a life line down to the deck. On several occasions during the night we passed close to other LCTs, but were unable to stay with them. About 0330, 31 July, we saw a blinker flashing off our starboard quarter - it was the 1156. We managed to stay together throughout the night and the next morning we joined the 1315, 1157 and the 1082. By this time the rain had stopped and the wind had died considerably. We formed a single column with the 1315 into he lead and continued on our course. The day and following night were relatively uneventful, although the sea was still high and presented quite a battle for the helmsmen.
At 1225, 1 August, one of our DEs came into sight and directed us to the convoy. We returned to our original positions about 1530. We were in radio contact, either directly or indirectly with our Flotilla Flag ship continually. Praise enough cannot be given for the bang-up job and wonderful morale of the entire crew throughout the whole affair. They worked as a man and were tireless in their efforts to keep this ship "up and going." THEY took the brunt of the storm and licked it.
Ensign Roland J. Elliott, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 859
Only God could create that storm and only God could save us from its fury. The men of the LCT 859 knew that as well as anyone, but there was no panic, only looks of anxiety and nervous shuffling of feet. As each swell grew larger and larger, the same question was asked, "Do you think she can take it?" The storm grew worse, but our "T" took the waves in stride until we believed it could take almost anything.
We were tossed from side to side and in and out of troughs, but good helmsmenship kept the light of our guide ship in view. When our spare engine broke its mooring, it took almost the entire crew to lasso it. We had other minor damages and a few loosened bolts, but after a few days rest, we will be ready for duty again with an enormous amount of confidence in our ship and a crew that is really on the ball.
Ensign William Speros, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 1157
When the typhoon hit us, my first precept was to establish my steersman on a course which would keep the wind and current on our stern. In the next few minutes- - - - - - - - -the
velocity of wind and rain tore the conn top off and blew down my TCS and SCR aerials. This left me without any contact with the rest of the group for the next twelve hours. Then down came my mast, which furnished the chief hope of guidance for the LCT astern of us, with its mastlight. I was on the lookout for someone to join up with, but little could be seen in the blinding rain. After three hours, I saw a light blinking in the distance and steered for it.
To replace the masthead light, had the electricians mate put a light over the anchor. Its illumination thru the blinding rain provided the LCT astern of us to stay with us throughout the storm. Firmly believe, by the ability of the LCT astern of us to follow us hereafter, will be invaluable service if bright lights here is used in heavy storms. Finding another LCT heading for the blinking light, we joined up with him and stayed together until finally joining the convoy. My lips were filled with prayer and my thoughts were of my mother in Heaven, my family and my girl back home.
Situation looked hopeless and my mind wandered as to how seventeen men were to get on the life raft we had. Then thinking again how helpless we would be in such a sea, decided the only hope was in keeping our LCT moving and afloat. Frankly, I thought this was the end and hope this flirtation with death is the last for sometime to come. I have vowed to myself to thank the Lord in my prayers for bringing us thru to safety, for the rest of my life and firmly believe that there were few atheists around us at sea on the night of July 30th.
Lieut. (JG) James M. Patterson, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 1158
At approximately 1630, 29 July, it was realized that the possibilities of avoiding high winds and seas through the night were gone with the wind. Utmost precaution was therefore taken on the part of this ship. All canvas deck gear was immediately stowed and properly secured. Engine room hatches and vents throughout the ship were closed and dogged. Sometime after 1700 we were beginning to feel the force of the storm coming on and at about that time we were given permission to burn what lights deemed necessary for keeping our proper station behind the ship ahead. Just at dusk the wind had probably reached a force of about 8 to 9, causing our visibility to drop to about 150 feet or less. Before total darkness the 1162 evidently lost its generator power, adding more confusion to confusion. All that was visible to us was a small flashlight flow for a period of about 15 or 20 minutes. After total darkness 1162s mast and wake lights appeared again, much to our relief, but before another 20 minutes had passed, out went his lights again. At this time it seemed as though our column was closing on the port column and that the speed had reduced to almost nothing. It became evident that the ship ahead had lost sight of the ship that he was to follow and was trying to fall in behind the port column. The rain let up enough to allow us to see three ships off our port bow not more than 350 feet away.
A few minutes before this I had stopped the center engine and was backing port engine, starboard ahead at 1200 RPMs and a full left rudder in order to drop behind the ship ahead, still believed to be the 1162. This action had no effect whatsoever. We were still sliding down on the ships to our port. Suddenly an ICI appeared directly astern of us not 30 feet away. At this point my mind was debating, (which is more embarrassing, a collision or start a convoy of our own.) (A verse or two of "Dont Fence Me In" would have fit my thoughts to a T.) The mental argument having come to a conclusion, I put all engines ahead 1500 RPMs and made way for an opening between two ships, noting that I had two followers.
Its rather amazing how a dark lonely stormy night can be so comforting. No lights, no visibility, no worries about playing leap-frog with an ICI - - - - - - - Just a compass course.
1200 RPMs was maintained throughout the night and until noon the next day. However, at different intervals during the period of morning darkness the course was changed to the right 10 degrees because the winds and seas were on our starboard quarter. I felt that with this change in course at various times, we could counteract the set to the NE. In doing this I had hoped that we might remain on a same parallel with the main convoy. (I had naturally come to the conclusion that we were the only ones out of step.)
From noon the 30th to approximately 1030 the same day we maintained a course of 090 and speed of 1500 RPMs as suggested by the Flot Commander over the radio. it was at 1930 that we sighted at 2000. Between 1930 and 2000 we managed to contact the 1080 by blinker, one of the four ships sighted and get their course and speed. After find that theirs was the same as ours I changed our course 10 degrees to the right and increased our speed to 1600. Once after that we had to change our course to the right 10 degrees because they had evidently altered their course to the right in order to meet the main convoy. At dawn we were in column with the 1080 and about five miles behind the convoy. Other than what I have just related, I find that there are but few insignificant points that could be brought out, but will not attempt to do so. I personally fine that an LCT (6) is one of the most comfortable and worthy craft that I have had the experience of riding on through hazardous storms. Of the numerous storms I have been through on various types of craft Ill say an LCT can take a good beating. As for damage, there was none. The only casualty was a heart attack, not caused by the weather, giving the unfortunate fellow the privilege of, quote, "seeing them pretty angels reach for me, but I couldnt reach them" unquote. Never a dull moment.
Lieut. (jg) D. J. Houlihan, LCT (6) Group 91 Staff
In the previous somewhat historic trips made by LCT (6) Flotialla 31, I never heard the word typhoon" more frequently as when LCT (6) Group 91 and Group 92 were ordered to depart from San Pedro Bay, P.I. to Okinawa.
As the voyage progresses and we found ourselves within a few days from our destination, with the weather during the trip thus far the type an LCT man prays for, the talk of a typhoon increased considerably. The weather seemed so good. Then on the evening of 28 July a message was received informing us that there was a typhoon in our area, but still a considerable distance from us. However, the typhoon path was such that it required us to change course to 220, heading us almost directly back to where we had come from, Even with the warning and information on the path and speed of the typhoon. I felt that we would experience little if any of its effects. As most of my optimistic judgments, this also proved to be erroneous.
The winds increased in velocity, the sea became rougher but it wasnt until the evening of 30th of July that my optimism completely disintegrated. Never before had I experienced such
wind. It wasnt the wind which was giving us all the trouble, but also, waves approximately 30 to 40 feet high. I had often read about such weather, but never hoped or thought I would have the displeasure of experiencing same. Here it was though and we had to make the best of it.
Now the word "typhoon" was not uttered in a jocular manner. There werent any smiling faces, everyone was grim, life jackets and a prayer in his mind. One could not describe the motion of the LCT all through that night as a rolling and pitching one, the LCT was just tossed around. One instant on the crest of the wave, giving one a feeling of being suspended in mid-air then down into the trough in almost a perpendicular manner jarring, twisting and turning it in an unmerciful manner. If the sea increased anymore I felt certain we would turn over. Luckily for us such wasnt the case.
The sight I beheld the following morning was anything but pleasuresome, twelve out of twenty-four LCTs in the convoy were no long with us. I could not help but think of the possibility that some of them had capsized. I tried to expel such a thought from my mind, my efforts were in vain until the Flagship made radio contact with and the DEs rounded up all twelve of them in the two ensuing days. How fortunate we were to have weathered such a storm. It is impossible for me to describe in words. All I can say is "I thank God that it is over and I find myself alive."
Lieut. (jg) Edmond A. Stephan, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 1082
Our own "Little Angel" watched over us.
At 1700, 30 July, the storm really broke for us. It was the roughest, wettest, most terrifying day and night of my naval career. Forty to fifty foot waves, heavy wind and the hail like torrential downpour, plus LCTs bobbing around as only LCTs can, aided in making everything look like a gigantic Hollywood made storm. Aboard, we never believed a storm could be that rough except in the movies. We were wrong and how. Being in our own "coffin corner" - last ship outboard port column - it didnt take us long to get lost, in fact, not long enough for me. Prior to being lost, ships were converging on us from all directions - ahead, astern, port and starboard. We would back all engines full to avoid one ship and then go ahead full to avoid another. Well never know how we managed to escape a collision. Once, just as a crash seemed inevitable the sea became a friend, a tidal-like wave broke over us, shoving us clear of eminent danger. I certainly became proficient at blinker that night - sending series of "es" denoting danger.
The storm intensified and we lost our canopy over the conn. Next to blow were the aerials for our SCR and TCS radios. Repairing and replacing the aerials, we discovered that we could neither send nor receive on either radio. To top it all, visibility greatly decreased to about 50 feet - the distance between the large waves. I started to pray fervently, personally pass out life jackets and - just hope. Prayer, hope and angels came through because we found another LCT. We knew him to be the 1157 for he had a double wake light. Without that bright light, we would have become hesitant in following him, but knowing we were behind him and in our proper station (so we thought), I uttered a profound order to the helmsman, "For goodness sake, please dont lose him; we are finally back in the convoy." We would see his wake light for a fraction of a second, lose them and see them again in an entirely new bearing a minute later. A wave caught us 200 feet from him once and- this is the truth - carried us half a length past him. Trying to stop was a joke, "We stayed behind, to the side, over and under him for the duration of the typhoon. We felt fortunate in locating him, although we later found that he was also lost. The next morning we contacted 1315, 1077 and 1156, so we had a little convoy of our own.
During the night one huge way broke from the starboard side, over the conn and almost swept me over the side, but I managed to hang on for dear life. That wave, however, did cost me my binoculars overboard. While Ensign Donahue was on watch, a freak, or was it an unusually large wave, broke over us from astern, its lashing blow on his back threw him against the railing. Afterwards, he said that it was quite a novel experience to feel yourself emerged in warm salt water and not being blown apart by the cold wind, even if you do know that the sea is trying to drown you. This same wave caught me diving from the starboard quarters into the head in my dry clothes, thoroughly drenching me. In that instant I took a hearty dislike for the sea, especially since it had gone into the quarters and soaked everything.
- - - 1082 nicknamed :Little Angel"
A DE located us the next day and we happily and contentedly rejoined the convoy. Our "Little Angel" stood up perfectly under the most adverse conditions. Not one time did she falter or weaken, She took a terrible beating from all the elements and yet came out of the typhoon a weather beaten, rusted, but proud LCT. Who said an LCT isnt seagoing? Well standup against any and all ships for though, officially, to the Navy, we are a craft and an auxiliary, to the men aboard - shes the greatest ship afloat.
A world of praise must be given to each individual man of the crew. They did their jobs expertly and without hesitation. Having proved that they can master this ship against the elements, the men can rightfully claim to be "old salts."
I certainly agree "that they have what it takes and are the best in the business."
Ensign Joseph J. Hartmann, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 1156
We had settled on course 100 degrees T. at 0310 the morning of the 30th of July trying to avoid the storm which was gradually overtaking us. By 0400 it had become so rough and position so hard to maintain that all necessary voids were ballasted. All movable gear was again re-lashed and preparations made for the storm which followed. Water began rushing across the decks in the storm and the heavy seas which continued all morning. The SCR aerial gave way under the strong winds so the TCS aerial as utilized.
In the early afternoon the storm abated and remained so until approximately 1700 when heavy rains started impairing visibility tremendously. Running mast and wake lights were turned on.
Seas became rougher and position extremely hard to maintain. Half the crew was put on watch at a time with two men on the bridge to act as lookouts.
The two ports and two starboard columns separating shortly after dark approximately 1930. High waves were causing the ship to parallel the wave troughs At about 2015, LCT 1159 seemed to be caught in a trough heading eastward and we simultaneously go in one heading westward, distance between us increasing until sight was lost of their mast light - which incidentally was the only thing that could be seen from astern. Extremely hard to get out of these wave troughs once gotten into.
We then decided to fall in astern of LCI 690 then astern of us, but as they were going in all kinds of directions, decided to steer course 100 degrees T. by compass. It was next to impossible for the helmsman to steer the course with the Pioneer Steering compass so I had the second man on the bridge call out the course from the Standard compass, then acting accordingly I related to the helmsman the rudder angle to use. Large rudder angles are necessary at all times to get any affect whatever.
At about 0220 on the 31st of July, blinker was sighted on the horizon and properly identified as LCT 1077. We joined and continued course. At 0700 we sighted some LCTs on the horizon and about 1930 were joined by LCT 1082, 1157 and 1315. We fell in astern of them. Our starboard engine was giving us trouble at the time so speed was reduced to 1200 RPMs for us to make necessary repairs.
With the considerable amount of water going across our decks it was impossible to pump fuel. It consequently became so low in the water that had settled on the bottom of the fuel tanks was pumped into the dry tanks, affecting the injectors on the port engine causing smoke and reducing its speed. Each time the Primary Fuel Filter was bled.
At 1650 course was changed to 090 degrees T. and at 2200 flares sent up by Flagship were seen off our port bow.
About 0200 August 1st, blinker was seen bearing about 020 degrees T. from us. I tried answering, but apparently they did not see ours.
We saw no ships until DE 583 was sighted astern of us at about 1230. We commenced changing course northward at 1328 and rejoined convoy at 1540 low on fuel and water, but with no damage to the ship. Highest praise is to be extended to all men.
Lieut. (jg) Charles F. Ruetter, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 1159
About two out of Luzon there appeared on the bulletin board a picture clipped from a magazine - a sketch of several men riding out a heavy storm in a lifeboat. The men who placed it there never realized how near true it was to be.
On the evening of the 30th when the storm began to break, all hands were ordered to stand by with life jackets and were told to stay clear of railings for it would be impossible to locate a man overboard. The crew as a whole was calm, but naturally slightly alarmed; I dont believe there was an atheist among them; there were several instances of humor, showing that the tension was not too high. We were now manning the TCS, the SCR BEING INOPERATIVE AND SUCH STATIONS AS Peerfoam 15 and Gospel 3, back in Leyte were coming in very clear. The Quartermaster on the wheel called up the speaking tube; "Skipper, do you want me to call Gospel 3 and ask for a new assignment?" One man approached with two life jackets and one life belt on and asked if we were going to have general quarters drill tonight. Another was puzzled - he didnt know whether we should ask for submarine or flight pay. The rest were joking about what kind of clothing would be best to abandon ship in.
As to my thoughts while on the conn - my big worry were the engines. Would they hold up under the strain of racing one minute, when the screws came out of the water and laboring as they churned it up. I had no concern about the hull of the LCTs being able to take it, for almost a year ago on a trip to Maui and Hawaii in a storm almost as bad, proved how durable they are. It was amusing to give an order and to receive an immediate "Yes, Sir!!" in reply instead of the customary LCT lingo of "O.K. Skipper."
Holding any course the first night was almost impossible as each wave tossed us 30 degrees either way. The flag broke loose and until it was rescued, flew horizontally over the tank deck. Occasionally a wave broke clear over the conn. There was little beauty here too - each time a wave broke over the starboard running light, a handsome green spray seemed to cover the entire ship.
At 2100 I veered to starboard to avoid collision with three other "T"s and by 2300 only occasionally blinker lights could be seen on all sides. At 003 we had blinker contact with 1158 and adjusted our course and speed with them (C-090, 1100 RPMs).
At dawn there were no other ships in sight and if I ever have a lonely feeling it was then. Visibility was only one mile so we contacted Commander LCT Group 91 for course and speed of convoy and received the required data. Water had gotten in someplace and grounded out all the lights and fans on the starboard side including the blinker light.
At 1600 we sighted the 1162 and this built up our hopes, knowing that it would be easier to find two of us than one.
That night we hung a battle lamp from the port halyard, as our mast light was out and the 1162 used searchlight for a wake light. At 1300, 1900 and 2000 when we sighted none of the flares, we again began wondering but were enlighten at 2030 when one was sighted. Later on this same evening a wave hit us broadside and went over the conn and quarters and covered the entire deck with at least one foot of water. the vent in my quarters let in considerable water and a leak at the fresh water inlet soaked my bunk thoroughly.
At 1235 the following day we heard over the radio that one of the DEs had sighted us. We struck course for main convoy and at 2330 we fell into position and I was glad it was dark for there wouldnt be so many peering eyes on us; the last ones home. To top it off, the ship next to us asked, "How was liberty?"
Our port cargo water tank filled up with salt water, but we still had plenty in the other tank.
I was surprised to see how well the engines had stood up - our only trouble was with two infectors. A lot of credit must be given to the machinists who had to work in the engine room. Credit should also be given to the cooks, who managed to put something in front of us everyday, even though we had no appetite. The boys that wrestled with the helm also deserve praise. Even our mascot "Elsie" helped - she kept up our morale. One of the crew - a veteran of the initial landing on Kiska, Tarawa, Saipan, Kwajalien, Eniwetok and Tinian said, "The invasions were nothing compared to that storm."
A thirty day leave recommend for all hands.
Ensign William C. Lawrence, Commanding Officer, LCT (6) 783
The first two days were the most trying for both myself and my crew as it was necessary to use hard left or right rudder along with the engines in an attempt to keep in station. The first night was the most difficult part of the whole storm as the sea was occasionally breaking over the conn. The sea water felt good to me as I was already wet and cold and the sea water was warm. We had to plug the vents in the quarters as sea water was coming down them. Living conditions were very bad. The only damage the sea did was to crush our flag bag.
The crew did very well in handling the ship, but I am sure none of us want to go through another experience like this again.
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SOME NICE THINGS WERE SAID AFTER IT WAS ALL OVER
-A- Div DE 77030830 FLCT LCT 31 - GR 25 - BT
The performance of your ships under trying conditions has been a credit to the Navy and to yourself as Comdr. X Good Luck to all BT K
-A- ESCORT COMMANDER DE 583 022220 FLCT LCT 31 - GR27 - BT
LCTs deserve credit for their spunk X Please give your entire unit a hearty WELL DONE for me comma they have a lot of what it takes BT K
-A- DE 583 070315 FLCT LCT 31 - GR 16 - BT
Luck to you X A taut and very well managed convoy X you deserve a cheer BT K
-A- ESCORT COMMANDER DE 583 070325 FLCT LCT 31 - GR - 23 - BT
It has been a pleasure X We got in on the good part of the trip X Your boys did a fine job BT K
-A- DE 306 0702315 FLCT LCT 31 - GR8 - BT
Your people are real sailor men X Congratulations BT K
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