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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

 

Jan. 1, 1945

Out all day on sub attack practice.

Jan. 2, 1945

Lay to.

Jan. 3, 1945

Started 5 days availability next to the repair ship, Piedmont. Got 2 new 20mm guns installed on the fantail. Got a chance to trade duty, but didnít.

Jan. 4 through 7, 1945

Lay to repairing the ship.

Jan. 8, 1945

Underway for Ulithi Island near Yap escorting one tanker at 14 knots.

Jan. 9 & 10, 1945

Still underway.

Jan. 11, 1945

Arrived at Ulithi in the Carolines about 1000, saw lots of our fleet there. Left at 1800 escorting a freighter to Manus.

Jan. 12, 1945

Still underway. Got a deck court martial for not putting crap shooters on report. Fined $20.

Jan. 13, 1945

Still underway.

Jan. 14, 1945

Still underway.

Jan. 15, 1945

Arrived at Manus, boy is it hot.

Jan. 16, 1945

Lay to.

Jan. 17, 1945

Underway for Finsch Harbor, New Guinea.

Jan. 18, 1945

Arrived at Finsch Harbor at 0900. Left back for Manus alone.

Jan. 19 through 24, 1945

Arrived back at Manus on the 19th and lay to at anchor.

Jan. 25, 1945

Underway at 1600 for Ulithi escorting the same ship we brought down.

Jan. 26, 27, & 28, 1945

Still underway, rough as hell. Just heard that a sub sank a tanker just as we left Manus.

Jan. 29, 1945

Arrived at Ulithi about noon, took on stories and lay to all night. One year away from the States.

Jan. 30, 1945

Left for Manus at 0600, found out we had 3 torpedoes shot at us coming up. Weíre escorting an ammunition ship and she is really loaded.

Jan. 31, 1945

Still underway and it is really rough. Should get in tomorrow and get some mail.

Feb. 1 through 8, 1945

Arrived at Manus, lay to and worked our tails off on the ship, installed some port holes in the ship.

Feb. 9, 1945

Underway for Ulithi at 0930 escorting an APA or a freighter.

Feb. 10, 11 & 12, 1945

Underway and rough as hell.

Feb. 14 & 15, 1945

Lay to.

Feb. 16, 1945

Underway at 0600 for Manus.

Feb. 17, 1945

Got a message to be in at 0600 so we speeded up to 20 knots.

Feb. 18, 1945

Arrived at Manus at 0600, underway at 1400 for Guadalcanal escorting the Sahara repair ship and the Byearus repair ship. Will take them as far as Florida Island, then head for Australia..

Feb. 19 & 20, 1945

Underway, the sea is smooth.

Feb. 21, 1945

Boy, what a swell trip, the sea is smooth and everybody is really happy.

Feb. 23, 1945

Received a radio message today canceling our leave in Sidney. Now only get 5 days in Brisbane. Boy is everyone sore, I canít blame them. We have to be back at Manus by March 7th.

Feb. 24, 1945

Still underway, the sea is fairly smooth. The boys just wonít work like they used to.

Feb. 25, 1945

Started up the river about 15 miles to Brisbane. Itís a pretty river about as wide as the Ohio. Arrived at Brisbane about 0900, refueled and moved to another dock. Some of the guys got liberty, but I didnít.

Feb. 26, 1945

Had all the fresh milk we could drink, went ashore on a 72 hour pass at 1230. Boy, O boy, what a sight for sore eyes. Had a picture taken, will see the proofs on the 28th.

Feb.27 Ė 28, 1945

Found a room for $10 a day, went to look at proofs, they werenít any good, took the pictures over, but they wonít be any good either because we were drunk. Reported back to the ship at 1030, was carrying all I could hold. Roy and I jumped ship tonight and went into town, but we got back alright.

Mar. 1, 1945

Still at Brisbane.

Mar. 2, 1945

Left today for Manus Island, the sea is rough. Lots of guys who came back drunk are suffering now. I sure wish I knew what was up.

Mar. 3, 4 & 5, 1945

Still underway for Manus in the Admiralty Islands.

Mar.6, 1945

Arrived at Manus about 1700, saw a show, got some mail. Changed our home port to Ulithi.

Mar. 7, 1945

Left early for Ulithi, sea is smooth.

Mar.8, 1945

Still underway, sea is getting rougher.

Mar. 9, 1945

Arrived at Ulithi about 1400, radar is out, getting it fixed.

Mar. 10 through 13, 1945

Laying to, getting radar fixed by the repair ship Piedmont. Went to GQ five times in last two days, a Japanese plane crashed on a CVE, 18 men were killed and 50 wounded. Another Japanese plane crashed on the reef outside the nets.

Mar. 14, 1945

Underway for Marshall Islands at 1530 escorting 2 ships at 17 knots. Getting closer to the US.

Mar. 15, 1945

Arrived at Eniwetek in the Marshall Islands about 1130, refueled and took on provisions, left at dark headed for Ulithi. Got word to be there by the 22nd. Weíre in the 54th task force now instead of the 51st.

Mar. 20 Ė 21, 1945

Underway for Ulithi and rough as hell. Weíre doing 22 knots.

Mar. 22, 1945

Arrived at Ulithi at 1330, took on fuel and supplies.

Mar. 23, 1945

Left at 1200 along with a destroyer and the USS England escorting the battleship New York to join the rest of the 8th fleet to invade the Island of Okinawa. Itís just 275 miles from Tokyo, thatís a little closer than home.

Mar. 24, 1945

Still underway, rough as hell. Made a target for the New York to fire at.

Mar. 25 Ė 26, 1945

Underway and the sea is very rough. Having dawn and dusk alerts. Refueled off the New York, got some ice cream and toilet paper from them also. Just 200 miles from Okinawa.

Mar. 27, 1945

Arrived on the west side of Okinawa in the China Sea early in the morning. Saw 9 enemy planes shot down and 3 subs sank, but we havenít got any. There were ten Battleships shelling shore installations all day. Started back to Ulithi in the afternoon, between standing watch and GQ, we didnít get much sleep, had one meal today.

Mar. 28 Ė 29, 1945

Still underway, rough as hell, weíre doing 20 knots. Christy was thrown out of his bunk and knocked out 2 front teeth. Mar. 30, 1945 Arrived at Ulithi in the morning, lay to waiting for orders to go back, saw a movie in the evening, had GQ during the movie.

Mar. 31, 1945

Got underway at daybreak headed for Okinawa again. The destroyer 481, the DE England, and we will escort the USS Mobile and the antiaircraft cruiser Oakland back to Okinawa.

Apr. 1, 1945

Another destroyer joined us last night, the sea is fairly smooth.

Apr. 2, 1945

Still underway for Okinawa, the sea has turned horribly rough, you canít walk without holding on. We are going through a 50 mile an hour hurricane. We had word that the boys are doing well on Okinawa. The Oakland and one destroyer left us.

Apr. 3, 1945

Still underway, the sea has smoothed down quite a bit, had drawn alert. We were about 3 hours from Okinawa at dawn, delivered the cruiser Mobile and went to one of the small Islands we hold to refuel. Refueled about dark. Heard that the 633 took a bomb causing great damage to the engine room and several casualties.

Apr. 4, 1945

Two suicide boats came within 3000 yards of us, then turned and left. A destroyer sank one of them, sure hope they donít come back. Didnít have a GQ all night, guess they are concentrating on Okinawa. Weíre patrolling around a small group of Islands about 10 miles from there. The US is using them for a refueling base. Heard that 200 Japanese committed mass suicide on one of them. Saw one Jap plane shot down by ship fire.

Apr. 5, 1945

Had GQ from 0430 to 0830, our planes shot down 3 torpedo planes.

Apr. 6, 1945

No raid this morning, but went to battle stations at 1500 and didnít secure until 2045. We lost 13 ships, 5 of them ammunition ships, LSTís and PAís. 65 Jap planes shot down. In all, about 14 attacked here at the refueling base and 12 were shot down. The Wilmar went along side an LST to take off wounded and the LST exploded. It blew two big holes in the Wilmar and almost all the crew of the LST were killed. The Whittier took a bomb in the engine room, killed 6 and injured 7. The Bowers ran across a reef and tore both screws off. The England left for Saipan escorting a CVE. Guess weíre the only ship in our division here fit for duty.

Apr. 7, 1945

Dawn alert from 0430 to 0830, only one plane attacked this morning and they shot him down. I sure hate to see this afternoon come because I know they will be back. Had dusk alert, only one plane and he didnít come in close. The US shot down 182 planes over Okinawa today. They came in 22 waves, lasted 4 hours. I think 10 out of 12 that attacked here never got back, but 5 of them suicided into our ships. Our ships sunk were 2 destroyers, 1 LST and 1 merchant ship. There were 23 ships hit by suicide planes today in the area, 2 of our division, the Wilmar and the Whittier.

Apr. 8, 1945

It was only 42 miles from here where American planes sank a big Jap battle wagon, 2 cruisers and 3 destroyers, and damaged 2 more, with 2 others getting away. Just 2 planes came in today and they got shot down. Itís been cloudy ever since weíve been here. There are 37 ships "pinging" around these islands. We were promised a raid again today, but it hasnít come yet. I just got off watch at 1600. We donít get time to eat, let alone go to the toilet, go to battle stations 3 to 10 times a day. The rate weíre shooting them down, youíd think Japan would run out soon. I saw boys shoot down one of our own hellcats today. 48 Corsairs landed at the field at Okinawa today, that should help some.

Apr. 9, 1945

No planes last night, guess interceptors turned them back. No planes came in all day, God Iím sleepy, have only averaged 2 to 3 hours sleep a night since we got here. At 1500 we started for a new post to patrol off the coast of Okinawa. Two destroyers patrolling posts 12 and 13 were both sunk and weíre taking over both posts, may be our last posts too.

Apr. 10, 1945

Patrolled all day, tried to refuel off a tanker at sea, but it was too rough, didnít see a plane all day.

Apr. 11, 1945

Went back to Kerama Retta to refuel, stayed in the harbor all day, refueled at dark. Had a raid and DE 183 and DE 36 were hit on post 25 and 26. They asked permission to come in and remove their dead. There was one dead on each one. One ship took a 100 pound bomb and the other had a near miss. We went out to patrol both posts.

Apr. 12, 1945

We patrolled until 1500 when 8 vals came over high. 4 of them pealed off and came for the 634. Our boys shot down 3 and the 4th suicided into the bridge. I guess American hellcats got the other 4. When we got the wounded off onto another ship and the fires out, we headed into Kerama Retta "Scrap Iron Bay."

Apr. 12, 1945 (continued)

We lost 36 men dead, 6 missing and 22 wounded badly enough to be transferred to the APA 170. Several others were slightly wounded. We came into "Scrap Iron Bay" just before dark. There are about 200 badly damaged ships here and only one LST repair ship.

Apr. 13, 1945

We removed the bodies of our dead comrades this morning, a LCM took them to the beach to bury them, a very sad and difficult morning. After lunch we started cleaning up and welding holes shut so we can get out of here some day. There are hundreds of holes to be patched. Had GQ 6 times but no planes came in here.

Apr. 14, 1945

They call this place "Scrap Iron Bay" for good reason, there are dozens of destroyers, DEís and other ships that are badly damaged. The 636 canít leave until they get a drydock because her keel is broken in the forward fire room. We welded holes again all day long. The repair crew from the LST Tender fixed the guy wires on our mast today, believe we could go to sea now, although there are still hundreds of shrapnel holes to be patched. Heard today that President Roosevelt died the same day our ship was hit.

Apr. 15, 1945

Dawn and dusk alerts today. Still welding holes shut, sure hope we get out of here soon.

Apr. 16, 1945

Boy, O boy, we made it, underway at 0630 in a convoy of 15 PAís. I think weíre going by way of Guam. Had an air raid at 0900, 7 planes. I think they got them all. Thank God they didnít come at us because we have two 20mm and two 3 inch guns knocked out. Sure hope we go all the way to the USA.

Apr. 17, 1945

Dawn and dusk alerts today, but no planes. Weíre about 240 miles from Kerama Retta this morning. The sea is fairly smooth and weíre headed for Saipan. Got word there were 186 planes shot down over Okinawa and Kerama Retta today. Iím glad weíre not there.

Apr. 18, 1945

Weíre still underway and quite a ways from Okinawa, had dawn and dusk alerts today, guess we will until we reach Saipan. I still have the 0400 to 0800 watch, it sure gives a guy a sad feeling, going through the crews quarters at night with the burnt smell and our friendsí empty bunks. Canít help remembering that terrible day.

Apr. 19, 1945

Still underway for Saipan, the sea is fairly smooth. We had dawn and dusk alerts and spent the day repairing and cleaning up the mess. The odor up forward is terrible after we darken the ship and there is no fresh air.

Apr. 20, 1945

Still underway, itís a pretty day, the sea is fairly smooth. We had a dawn alert, arrived at Saipan at 1500 hrs. I saw my first B-29, there are hundreds of them lined up on the field. We refueled and stayed tied to the tanker all night. Some of the guys went on the tanker and saw a movie.

Apr. 21, 1945

Laying to at Saipan, took on stores, and had a movie, but no liberty. Got word that the 637 took a suicide plane, lost 34 dead, 10 missing, and several injured. They got hit on post 24 same as we did. I guess we hold the record, we lasted 36 hours, thatís the longest so far. Itís rumored that we will only go as far as Pearl Harbor. I sure hope we get back to the States.

Apr. 22, 1945

Still laying to, no liberty, had a movie, waiting to get started back.

Apr. 23, 1945

We are supposed to get availability to install emergency radio. We got 4 new men today, 2 off the Whittier. Sheís still anchored in "Scrap Iron Bay."

Apr. 24, 1945

Still laying to, wish we would get going.

Apr. 25, 1945

Went along side a tender and they removed all our antennas.

Apr. 26, 1945

Got underway at 0800, escorted by two mine sweepers. Seems funny for us to be escorted for a change. We are headed for Eniwetek in the Marshalls. Saipan was a very beautiful Island.

Apr. 27, 1945

Still underway. The sea is nice, just big lazy swells.

Apr. 28 & 29, 1945

Still underway, sea is smooth as glass. The last time we were this way, it was so rough we couldnít stay in our bunks.

Apr. 30, 1945

Arrived early in the morning, lay to all day, saw a movie.

May 1, 1945

Worked all day, saw a movie at night in the rain.

May 2, 1945

Removed all the ammunition from the ship today except the depth charges and the torpedoes, it took all day. Got underway for Pearl Harbor at 1700. I sure hope we get to the States. Just heard there was another 160 plane raid on Kerama Retta, Iím glad we got out of there. Wish the whole crew could have made it though.

May 3 through May 9, 1945

Underway at 11 knots, the sea is fairly smooth. Received word that the Germans surrendered, we are being escorted by one PC.

May 10, 1945

Arrived at Pearl Harbor at 1200, the 1st and 2nd sections went to a base party. About 25 crew members were chosen to be the nucleus of the next crew on the Whitehurst. They will leave tomorrow for 30 days leave before rejoining the ship. The rest of the crew will be relieved and reassigned after our 30 days leave.

To Baskin Log 1944

 

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