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USS Whitehurst DE 634 in WWII

Foreword  

The following account of the places and events encountered by the USS Whitehurst DE 634 during World War II were recorded by George Baskin as they occurred. I have edited out a few personal entries that had no bearing on either the ship or crew, and have prepared this booklet. I would like to thank Georgeís wife, Lola, who graciously loaned this diary to me for this purpose at the time of Georgeís death in May of 1974. All the crew will remember George for the wonderful person he was. We will be forever indebted to George and Lola for this record. Lew Cowden

 

BASKINíS LOG, 1944

Jan. 29, 1944

Left San Francisco bound for Pearl Harbor, 2490 miles.

Feb. 4, 1944

Arrived at Pearl Harbor.

Feb. 7, 1944

Left pearl Harbor bound for the Marshall Islands, 2100 miles.

Feb. 9, 1944

Passed near the shore of Johnson Island.

Feb. 13, 1944

Arrived at the Marshall Islands.

Feb. 14, 1944

Left Marshall Islands bound for Funafuti Island, 1080 miles.

Feb. 15, 1944

Crossed the equator and were initiated into the Royal Order of Shellbacks (and how!).

Feb. 17, 1944

Arrived at Funafuti Island in the Ellis group. Left the same day for the Solomon Islands.

Feb. 18, 1944

Missed this day Ė set the calendar ahead one day.

Feb. 22, 1944

Arrived at the Solomons, stopped at Florida Island and Guadalcanal. Patrolled all night.

Feb. 23, 1944

Underway for New Hebrides, Espirito Santo, 600 miles.

Feb. 24, 1944

In the Coral Sea.

Feb. 26, 1944

Arrived at Espirito Santo, had liberty at the base recreation center. Got two bottles of beer.

Mar. 3,1944

Underway for Noumia in New Caledonia, 500 miles.

Mar. 5, 1944

Arrived at Noumia at 1000 hours.

Mar. 9, 1944

Had a beer party for the port section.

Mar. 11, 1944

Left for Espirito Santo, 500 miles, at 0800.

Mar. 12, 1944

Arrived at Espirito Santo at 1630.

Mar. 13, 1944

Had liberty at the fleet recreation center.

Mar. 14, 1944,

Left for Malekula Bay, 15 miles, at 1300. Lay to await orders.

Mar. 22, 1944

Left Malekula Bay to convoy Tankers. Convoy went between Truck and Raboul Islands held by the Japanese.

Mar. 26, 1944

Refueled fleet that had bombarded Truck Island.

Mar. 28, 1944

Refueled destroyers.

Mar. 29, 1944

Saw first action Ė one Jap plane, a two engine bomber. Fired at, but no luck.

Apr. 4, 1944

Arrived at Espirito Santo, refueled ship.

Apr. 5, 1944

Underway for Milne Bay in New Guinea.

Apr. 9, 1944

Arrived at Milne Bay.

Apr. 10, 1944

Left for Buna Bay in New Guinea, arrived the same day.

Apr. 14, 1944

Underway for Cape Cretin in New Guinea.

Apr. 15, 1944

Arrived at Cape Cretin and left for the Admiralty Islands.

Apr. 17, 1944

Arrived at the Admiralty Islands, left for Aitape in New Guinea. Arrived Aitape, left for a bay close by.

Apr. 20, 1944

Left for Cape Sudest, arrived the same day. Had liberty at the fleet recreation park in the afternoon.

Apr. 25, 1944

Left Cape Sudest for Cape Cretin at 1800.

Apr. 26, 1944

Arrived at Cape Cretin, left for Aitape in north New Guinea.

May 1, 1944

Left Aitape for Cape Sudest.

May 3, 1944

Arrived at Cape Sudest. Received mail.

May 6, 1944

Underway for Saiden, saw floating two engine bomber, wrecked same.

May 7, 8 & 9, 1944

Patrolled.

May 10, 1944

Underway for Aitape.

May 11, 1944

Arrived at Aitape.

May 12, 13 & 14, 1944

On patrol.

May 15, 1944

Left for Hollandia, New Guinea.

May 16, 1944

Arrived at Hollandia, lay to all day and night.

May 17, 1944

Patrolled off Hollandia all day. Left for Wadke Island in evening to take part in an invasion of Wadke Island.

May 18, 1944

Saw our troops take Wadke Island. Underway for Hollandia. Officers say we will be in Manila by Christmas.

May 19, 1944

Arrived at Hollandia, lay to.

May 20, 1944

Underway for Aitape.

May 21, 1944

Arrived at Aitape.

May 22, 1944

Patrolled all day. Left for Hollandia in the evening convoying five LSTís.

May 23, 1944

Arrived at Hollandia, left same night for Wadke Island convoying eight LSTís.

May 24, 1944

Arrived at Wadke Island at daybreak, patrolled all day. Saw troops fighting strong on the mainland of New Guinea. Saw several fires, left in the evening for Hollandia.

May 25, 1944

Left convoying three LSTís and three barges with two other cans for an invasion.

May 26, 1944

Still underway.

May 27, 1944

Sunday. Troops we took up invaded Biak Island. We were shot at by shore batteries five times. Left same night.

May 28, 1944

Still underway.

May 30, 1944

Arrived at Hollandia, New Guinea, early. Lay to all day. Took on fuel.

May 31, 1944

Lay to in the morning, patrolled in the afternoon, left late in the evening for Lanubank Bay escorting two troop ships by ourselves.

June 1, 1944

Still underway.

June 2, 1944

Still underway, headed for a rest.

June 3, 1944

Arrived at Buna Bay late in the evening.

June 4, 1944

Lay to, repaired boilers, went fishing Ė caught 2 angel fish, 8-1/2 lbs.

June 5, 1944

Pay day, drew &45. Was refused swap in duty to Regal. Repaired ship.

June 6, 1944

Still repairing ship.

June 7, 1944

Underway for Hollandia loaded with 30 passengers. Two oíclock was in Langanae Bay, then underway again. Convoying six troop transports. Heard today that we opened a second front.

June 8, 1944

Still underway.

June 9, 1944

Still underway.

June 10, 1944

Arrived early at Hollandia, left late in evening for Wadke Island, convoyed four troop ships with 3 DEís.

June 11, 1944

Arrived at Wadke Island, went on patrol.

June 12, 1944

Patrolled all day.

June 13, 1944

Anchored at Wadke Island. Section 2 had liberty, I didnít get to go. They got plenty of souvenirs. Left late in the evening for Hollandia.

June 14, 1944

Arrived at Hollandia, 1030, then left for Cape Sudest in Buna Bay.

June 15, 1944

Still underway.

June 16, 1944

Arrived at Buna Bay at 1730, underway at 1800 for Previs Bay in the Solomons.

June 17, 1944

Underway.

June 18, 1944

Lay to doing repair work, had liberty on Florida Island, had two bottles of beer.

June 22, 1944

Underway to Guadalcanal, then to Tologia. Got availability to repair ship, went to dry dock. Painted bottom, got new screw, saw the Jap destroyer they raised. Cress got transferred back to States with ten others for new construction. Have worked my hind end off during availability.

July 11, 1944

Underway for Treasury Island in the Solomons, 300 miles.

July 12, 1944

Arrived at Treasury Island.

July 13, 1944

Practiced firing all day.

July 14 & 15, 1944

Lay to all day.

July 16, 1944

Underway at 0630 and arrived at New Georgia Island at 1700.

July 18, 1944

Underway for Espirito Santo in the New Hebrides Islands. Damn, it is really rough.

July 19, 1944

Arrived at Espirito Santo, lay to, took on stores, supplies and fuel. Had liberty, but didnít go.

July 20, 21 & 22, 1944

Had the ship camouflaged.

July 23, 1944

Underway at 1800 for Cape Cretin in New Guinea. Torpedo boat tailed convoy.

July 24, 1944

Still underway.

July 25, 1944

Underway, it is rough.

July 26, 27, 1944

Still underway. The sea is smooth as glass.

July 28, 1944

0600 arrived at Cretin Bay, left at 0800 for Treasury Island.

July 29, 1944

Arrived at Treasury Island 1600, lay to, had liberty but did not go.

July 30, 1944

Laying to.

Aug. 1, 1944

Laying to.

Aug. 2 & 3, 1944

Underway for practice and drills Ė back in same evening.

Aug. 4, 1944

Laying to at Blanch Harbor at Treasury Island. Pay day, $249.

Aug. 5 to 17, 1944

Drilled and practiced, in one day, out the next. C. W. Davis got drunk on jungle juice.

Aug. 17, 1944

Underway for Milne Bay, escorting four PT boats. Left at 1600.

Aug. 18, 1944

Arrived at Milne Bay at 1830. Had to tow in one PT boat.

Aug. 19, 1944

Laying to.

Aug. 20, 1944

Left at 2100 for Treasury Island.

Aug. 21, 1944

Arrived at Treasury Island at noon.

Aug. 22 to Sept. 1, 1944

Lay to, had ready duty, caught two silver jacks.

Sept. 2, 1944

Left for Espirito Santo, received mail.

Sept 5 through Sept. 17, 1944

Lay to doing repair work and overhaul. Got paid on the 9th.

Sept. 18, 1944

Left for Guadalcanal escorting a tanker.

Sept. 19, 1944

Still underway.

Sept. 20, 1944

Arrived at Guadalcanal, never stopped. On to Treasury Island.

Sept. 21, 1944

Arrived at Treasury Island at 0700, lay to.

Sept. 22, 1944

Underway for practice again. Sank a mine.

Sept. 23, 1944

Lay to (Saturday).

Sept. 24, 1944

Underway at 1530 to aid a hospital ship that had been torpedoed or had hit a mine. Traveled at full speed all night toward Bougainville.

Sept. 25, 1944

Traveled at top speed until we reached the crippled hospital ship at 1500, then escorted her at 3 knots. Another DE, a tug, and a merchant ship arrived during the day.

Sept. 26, 1944

Another DE relieved us and we headed back to Treasury Island.

Sept. 27, 1944

Still underway.

Sept. 28, 1944

Arrived at Treasury Island.

Sept. 29 & 30, 1944

Lay to, heard that the 633 and the 635 left for 10 days rest in Sidney, Australia.

Oct. 1 through Oct. 5, 1944

Lay to at Treasury Island, made a gunnery practice run on the 3rd.

Oct 6, 1944

Left Treasury Island at 1530 bound for Hollandia, New Guinea. Back to the war. Boy, is it rough.

Oct. 7, 1944

Still underway, not quite as rough. Weíre headed to Hollandia to join the 77th task force.

Oct. 8, 1944

Still underway, sea is quite smooth now.

Oct. 9, 1944

Arrived at Hollandia at 0900. Boy, O boy, what a fleet, 360 ships.

Oct. 10 & 11, 1944

Lay to and refueled.

Oct. 12, 1944

Underway at 0700, convoy of 4 tankers and 4 Deís. Headed for an area 30 miles from Palau to refuel the fleet. We are now in the 7th service fleet.

Oct. 13, 1944

Today was Friday the 13th. Thank God nothing happened!

Oct. 14, 1944

Refueled at sea. Boy it was rough, we rammed the tanker and put a big dent in its side.

Oct. 15, 1944

Escorted and patrolled while the tankers refueled 3 stackers and APDís that are supposed to hit the Philippines on the 17th. About 30 ships full of boys, God bless them.

Oct. 16, 1944

Still between Palau and the Philippines. Refueled more of the fleet, 14 carriers, 6 cruisers, 6 destroyers and DEís. Boy what a fleet. Saw a DE with 5" guns.

Oct. 17, 1944

All hell broke out last night. 13 depth charges fired at possible submarine without warning at 0215. Refueled the fleet until nearly dark, cruisers, destroyers, and saw hundreds of APís and LSTís about 160 miles north and west of Palau. Refueled ourselves just before dark.

Oct. 18,1944

Refueled more of the fleet today, APís and cruisers. Boy, what a fleet of ships. About 1700 we started back to Palau, 3DEís and 3 tankers, were within 120 miles of the Philippines traveling at 19 knots.

Oct. 19, 1944

Arrived at Palau at 0800. Lay to all day. On the biggest Island here are 45,000 Japs. Very shallow water, saw several sunken ships and subs. Tomorrow is the big day, invasion of the Philippines.

Oct. 20, 1944

Underway at noon. Headed for Randwein about 90 miles from Layte Gulf in the Philippines. Escorting 4 tankers and 2 ammunition ships, 5 DEís.

Oct. 21, 1944

Refueling 3 stackers early in the morning.

Oct. 22, 1944

Supposed to meet the fleet and refuel them, but they werenít there. About 90 miles from the Philippines Ė we are headed for the Philippines.

Oct. 23, 1944

Arrived at Layte Gulf about 0900. Saw cruiser shell beach and heavy fighting. Got underway at 1700 to go 20 miles and anchor.

Oct. 24, 1944

Started back to Layte, general quarters all morning. Saw several Jap planes, they attacked a liberty ship and she sank. Laid smoke screen all morning, went to battle stations four times today. About 1800 torpedo planes attacked one of our tankers, made a hit in the engine room. She got underway again at 8 knots, no casualties.

Oct. 25, 1944

General quarters from 0400 to 0900, bombers attacked, hit several ships. We got strafed, a torpedoman had a 20mm shell go between his legs, tore his pants in 8 places, a 20mm shell went through an ammunition box. The Jap fleet attacked our fleet outside the gulf, we could hear and see the gunfire. They sank one destroyer and damaged one battleship. Damn, I wish they would leave us alone long enough to eat. I can do without sleep, but sure do get hungry.

The 637 shot down one plane, we fired but no luck. We have had 8 attacks in the past 24 hours. GQ again between 0530 and 0830. Just got word that we lost 3 DEís, 1DD was hit as were 2 DEís, a HA and 2 CVEs. Looks like we may have got the worst of it. Only about 5 came in and bombed this evening.

Oct. 26, 1944

GQ from 0400 to 0800. We were expecting a bombing raid, only 3 came over. GQ again at 0900 until 1100. Three bombers came in, canít tell how much damage they did because it was farther up the Bay and they wonít tell us a damn thing. Saw them shoot down one of our P-47ís but the pilot got out ok. Laid smoke screen all morning. I really believe they have us hemmed in here because they were still battling all night outside the harbor. We could see the flashes of the big guns. GQ again this evening until 2145. They shot three planes down, thank God they didnít do any damage. The DD 619 picked up 3 Jap pilots this morning.

Oct. 27, 1944

Some Philippine natives rowed out in a boat and said the Japs were driving the people into the water and shooting them. Also said they were moving big guns up to the beach to shoot the tankers. If so, I hope they hit the tankers and not the DEís. Got the news and guess we lost plenty in the sea battle, but from the news we got plenty of theirs. Guess maybe this is a turning point of the war. There wasnít a single bogie over us until we went to GQ at 1700. I saw them shoot down 2 Jap planes. The California got a dive bomber, it looked like it tried to dive on the bridge but it broke up before it could hit her. They found part of the plane on the foícísle. We fired our 3 inchers at one, but no luck. The 4 DEís that lost the Princeton came in and refueled and left. Ten P-38ís landed at the field today. Our cruisers were firing at the shore all evening. We are now on our way to fuel CFEs. We have 6 tankers and 5 DE's counting us. Our whole division is here except the 633 and the 638. Both the 637 and 638 have shot down two planes. The torpedo that hit our tanker didnít explode, thank God. It just went through and lodged. They have taken out the warhead now, no one was hurt. The number of Jap planes keeps getting smaller each day, I believe they are losing fast. We havenít been able to mail anything since the 6th, bet thereís a lot of worried mothers. The water is full of gigantic sharks.

Oct. 28, 1944

Dawn and dusk alert today, refueled the same fleet we fueled awhile back, but this time, only 6 of them. The other 6 were crippled and went back. Heard on the news today that the Japs lost 2 BWís, 2 HCís, 2 LCs, and 10 DDís. Halsey hasnít sent in his report on our losses yet. We didnít see a single Jap plane today. We are about 90 miles east of Layte.

Oct. 29, 1944

The DE 404 was sunk a few miles ahead of us, we were sent to protect another DE that was picking up survivors. We sank the sub that had torpedoed her. Its been a busy day, rejoined the convoy about 1500. Weíre headed for Palau.

Oct. 30, 1944

Dawn and dusk alert, still underway for Palau, 3 DEís and 4 tankers.

Oct. 31, 1944

Arrived at Palau at 1600, 4 of our division are here, the 634, 636, 637 & 638. Talked to the 402, they said there were 75 casualties on the 404. Had a movie on the fantail tonight (It Happened Tomorrow), first movie since the 12th.

Nov. 1, 1944

Refueled early (0600), left for Manus Island. The rest of the convoy is going to Hollandia, damn, that means no mail for quite awhile. Weíre taking the tanker that was torpedoed there for repairs.

Nov. 2, 1944

Underway, dawn and dusk alert, saw a big whale today.

Nov. 3, 1944

Underway, only dawn alert today.

Nov. 4, 1944

Underway, only dawn alert today, received permission to write home about our recent engagements.

Nov. 5, 1944

Arrived at Humboldt Bay, Hollandia. Lay to, worked our tails off.

Nov. 6, 7 & 8, 1944

Lay to and worked on the ship.

Nov. 9, 1944

Underway for Manus Island by ourselves.

Nov. 10, 1944

Arrived at Manus at 0600, left at 0730, convoying 4 LSTís and 16 LCIs. On leaving, we went right past the ammunition ship, Mount Hood, that blew up. If it had happened 3 minutes earlier, everyone topside on the Whitehurst would have been killed. We were about 5000 yards from it when she exploded, I thought sure my eardrums were busted. Guess God is with us.

Nov. 11, 1944

Still underway, sea very smooth should get some mail tomorrow.

Nov. 12, 1944

Arrived at Humboldt Bay, Hollandia, at 0600 and left at 1800, escorting 27 LSTís with 2 frigates headed for Layte Gulf. Sure hate to go back to the Philippines, we came so close last time.

Nov. 13, 1944

Still underway, passed Wadke Island early this morning, picked up another DE during the night. The sea is very smooth, passed the tides bucking one another.

Nov. 14, 1944

Still underway, weíre about halfway to the Philippines. The sea is still smooth as glass and hotter than hell.

Nov. 15 & 16, 1944

Still underway, the sea is quiet, we passed a big convoy going in the opposite direction, APís and escorts. There are 52 ships in our convoy, LSTís, merchant ships and tankers. Itís reported that there are 5 subs ahead on this course. Have sure seen some pretty sunsets the last three days.

Nov. 17, 1944

General quarters at 0700 but the two Jap planes did not get closer than 50 miles. Had dusk alert today.

Nov. 18, 1944

Dawn and dusk alert today, no bogies. We now have two flat tops, 2 cruisers and 2 destroyers Ė no action though (good).

Nov. 19, 1944

One year today the USS Whitehurst has been our home. Arrived at Layte Island and at Pedro bay. There were suicide bombers over today, but not where we could see them. It was very cloudy. Saw our first native women today, they were young and pretty, five in one canoe. The two prettiest ones were 17 and 19, but looked more like 10 and 11 to me, one of them was pregnant. The division commander came aboard today, we had dawn and dusk alert, are heading out tonight escorting some LSTís to Hollandia. We now control all of Layte except the northern tip. Suicide bombers have sunk 15 freighters in the last 7 days, 11 in one day. Sure glad weíre getting out of here. We slipped through the straits last night and out tonight. We refueled today and saw them bombing the beach, saw every explosion.

Nov. 20, 1944

Underway for Hollandia, boy it is rough, ran into a typhoon, you can hardly stand up. Weíre escorting 2 PLís and 9 LSTís with 8 escorts.

Nov. 21, 1944

Didnít have dawn alert today. About 1030 a two metered Lily bomber slipped in and dropped a bomb just missing an LST. GQ sounded and another Lily came in head on, then curved to the port side. We started firing, when he was over the first LST he dropped his bomb. We knocked out his right meter and down he came. He tried to dive on an LST but missed. A destroyer on our right flank shot down one plane. There were 4 carriers near by just over the horizon and they got one also. Donít suppose Iíll ever forget this raid.

Nov. 22, 1944

Still underway for Hollandia, sure worked hard all day and itís so damn hot, donít see how the boys in the fire room and engine rooms stand it. Itís terrible, we crossed the equator again today. Had a sub contact but lost it, no other action.

Nov. 23, 1944

Still underway for Hollandia, the sea is smooth.

Nov. 24, 1944

Underway.

Nov. 25, 1944 Arrived at Hollandia about 0700, should get some mail. Nov. 26 through 30, 1944

Lay to and worked. Went in dry dock and painted the bottom.

Dec. 1, 1944

We were released from the 77.7.1 fleet today, left for Manus Island at 1000. The 635, 636, 637 and 638 are with us. We passed the 633 headed for Hollandia, if she joins us, it will be the first time weíve all been together.

Dec. 2, 1944

Arrived at Manus in the Admiralty Islands about 1600 hours. There are sure a lot of fighting ships here. Think there are 4 dry-docks. We have 5 days availability.

Dec. 3, 1944

Lay to and worked.

Dec. 4 through 11, 1944

Moved to a dock by the shore on the fourth, worked on the ship and had a couple of beer party liberties.

Dec. 12, 1944

Underway at 1130 to escort the old Squallas, now the Stingeree, out 100 miles.

Dec. 13, 1944

Left the Stingeree at dark and returned to Manus.

Dec. 14, 1944

Lay to.

Dec 15, 16 & 17, 1944

Went out for drills, made some practice sub runs.

Dec. 18, 1944

Underway at 1400 for Hollandia escorting 2 ammunition ships. The sea is a little rough.

Dec. 19, 1944

Still underway, the sea is smooth.

Dec. 20, 1944

Arrived at Hollandia at 0900, stayed overnight.

Dec. 21, 1944

Underway back to Manus at 0700 carrying lots of mail Ė none for us though.

Dec. 22, 1944

Back at Manus Island.

Dec. 23 & 24, 1944

Lay to.

Dec. 25, 1944

Christmas Day, had a good meal, otherwise, lay to.

Dec. 26, 27, 28, 29 & 30, 1944

Lay to all except one night and one day when we went out to rescue a PBY that was down about 100 miles out.

Dec. 31, 1944 Lay to (boring as hell).

To Baskin Log 1945

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