Douglas Spencer's Illegal Log Facts
Sunday 1 July - 0800 we put the final knots to our sea bags, this time carrying our own and boarded a Navy - blue bus. Each bus making several round trips to the ship where the troops would embark at Pier #38 San Francisco, CA. We unloaded near the ship’s gangway. Red Cross tents and tables had been set up, milk and sweets rolls served by the Red Cross girls. Little did I realize these would be the last white women I would talk to for the next eleven months.
Our names were called off the loading roster, then we boarded the ship. Feeling very proud to face our national ensign, saluting, requesting permission to come aboard, then saluting the OOD. One deck below the main deck on the port side is where I was assigned a bunk, that were stacked five high, my lower bunk was five inches from the deck. I could not turn over if the sailor above me was in his sack at the same time. Close quarters? Yes!
We quickly learned the name of this ship. U.S.S. San Saba APA 232.
Chow was piped for the troops three times a day. From this first experience we learned to get in line for the next meal, as the lines moved slow and long. I believe 1,500 troops were on board. A 75 foot boat with pretty gals came along side and sang songs for us, much to our enjoyment "Huba – Huba" was their favorite. A very nice way to depart the USA.
Sailing alone the ship passed into the Pacific ocean under the Golden Gate Bridge at 1605. Another hour the weather was very foggy with ten-foot swells, seasickness was not a rare happening. Before sunset, the ship sounded General Quarters and Abandon Ship drill. All troops required to wear life belts except when sleeping. These are made with two separate pieces of rubber cemented together and reinforced with canvas, each section is inflated by a small thumb sized metal cylinder container of compressed air, worn around the midsection. They are equipped with a small one cell flashlight with a red plastic lens, and a bakelite black whistle.
2 July – I do not feel so good, am not seasick like some of the sailors. Excitement, seen two whales.
3 July – The waves are not so large and the fog has left, can’t see anything but water all around, feel a lot better. We are awakened in the morning at 0545 by General Quarters. This is no drill, sunrise and sunset GQ every day.
4 July – was assigned compartment cleaning detail, have dish water hands and scrubwomen’s knees. Inspections are stiff, the old man (Captain) goes around with a flash light to inspect the corners.
8 July - Been to sea a week now, isn’t to bad, went to church service, nice.
9 July – Seen first flying fish, small, look like Johnson Silver Minnow fishing spoon. Have, a bottom bunk, every swabie and his buddy steps on it to get into their bunks that are 5 bunks high, quit trying to keep it clean. There is an air vent by my head, I’m thankful for that refreshing air supply.
10 July – Chow is not very good, lines are a mile long, good fresh bread. Put up a collection of pictures, every time I lay in my sack I can see everybody mostly concerned about sweetheart Pat Barton (my gal in Battle Creek, MI.)
14 July – We first seen land at 0935. Entered Eniwetok at 1425. Located in the Marshall Island group. 3 main islands Perry, Brown and Eniwetok. Seen the air-craft carrier "Wasp", she has an outstanding war record. Looks like there are over 200 ships, either anchored or underway.
15 July – Sunday: attended church services, I got a daily scripture reading, we are all refueled and underway, speed about 1 knot. Am playing cards up on the focsle when everyone topside rushes for the Port side, blowing up life belts ‘me to’. I look up and see APA 95 (USS Burleigh) heading right at us. The crash siren is sounded a second before the collision, it was so dead quiet, you could have heard a pin drop. The APA hit us in the well deck, 8 foot aft of the focusle on the Starboard side. It swung around and crushed 2 LCVP’s and then headed out to sea, she just had her bow damaged not too bad though, she joined the eleven convoy that was underway. We found out that the bow had knocked a guy out of his sack but didn’t hurt him bad. The hole is 15 feet long, 4 foot wide and penetration to about 2 and half feet. "Now Hear This" – "The Smoking Lamp is OUT". The ship started to list to Starboard side. Everyone was ordered to aft and Port to help keep the bow out of as much water as possible. No. One hold was flooded. The ship’s forward cargo holds are filled with Carbide canisters, nuff said. The whole ship is in a uproar from buddies telling just how it happened and so forth. Crew and troops started unloading cargo about 1915. I didn’t work tonight. The damage was in Compartment 2 and 3 B.
!6 – 17 – 18 July – Unloaded the 15 inch round 2 foot high metal containers that stored carbite, numbers are in the thousands. The smoking lamp is out through out the ship. The work detail can smoke down on the lighter’s that the highly explosive carbide contaminated with water, was loaded on then taken to the beach unloaded and returned for more, (several lighters were in use). Sailors enjoyed the swim in the warm salty water, very refreshing to sweating sailors. The spot light makes the water sparkle.
20 July – Had liberty today at Perry Island, football, canteen, baseball and swimming. I found two fifty-cal shells while diving for pieces of coral. Everyone was issued 2 cans of beer and one coke, both real warm. The beer caps were rusted to the stubby brown bottles, very few church keys [bottle openers], so most of us broke the glass tops off and drank the beer through our handkerchiefs to keep any stray glass out of our guts. Better than nothing. Many men got sunburnt severely, not too smart.
21 July – Volunteered for beach working party at Eniwetok Island with the Sea Bees stationed there. Helped make sidewalks out of scrap wood. Met Bill Schoettle from Turner Road, Lansing, MI. We liked the chow, different than onboard ship.
22 July – Sunday, no church, went ashore and hauled stones (chunks of coral), found some Jap. 25 cal. rifle bullets, some USA 20mm’s.
23 July – Worked for the Sea Bees again. Seen a movie on the ship from the middle of the forward booms, "Frisco Kid".
24 July – Had liberty again, the Ensign in charge didn’t tell us what time beer would be issued, so some of us lost out on that. I got a good sunburn swimming bare-ass’d.
25 July – Ships crew completed the repair of the hole in the starboard side. Underway at 1610 this APA is the flag ship of a 7 ship convoy. Heavy rain.
26 July – Wakened by General Quarters [GQ]. Convoy 2 APA’s, 2 AKA’s, DE, PC and one Liberty ship in our convoy..
27 July – Quite a lot happened today. A MOMM3c hit a 2nd Lewie, a guy fell from the mast. Received our first atabrine tablet, yellow, bitter, quinine used in treating and preventing malaria, will take them every day now. I shaved the fourth time since leaving Frisco.
28 July – Troops received a pretty stiff inspection today, so put on a clean fart sack. Day dreamed all day about Pat, surely in love with her.
29 July – When we was in church services, we came into Ulithi located near Longitude 140 degrees and Latitude 10 degrees. About 7 different islands here, just dropping off mail.
30 July – Left Ulithi in a four ship convoy.
31 July – We had submarine contact six times today, jittery as hell. Found out days later that the cruiser USS Indianapolis CA35 heavy cruiser had been torpedoed at 12d.02’N., 134d. 48’E., then she sank just 2 hours ahead and north of us. She suffered a high loss of life by drowning and sharks.
1 August – Have been to sea one month today. Chow is getting worse. The stew is slimy and stringy. 1900 men on board including the ships crew. Ship sailed over the deepest trench in the world east of Samar [34,440 feet deep]. Sighted Guiuan Island near the southern tip of Leyte Island, the convoy sailed through the Casogoran Bay to Leyte Gulf and San Pedro Bay.
2 August – Pulled into Samar Harbor near Tacloban, ship anchored, anxious to get off this barge. Slept in my hammock past two nights, nice and cool. The majority of the troops aboard the USS San Saba APA 232 was reassigned to ships or stations in the area.
[ The next invasion, OPERATION DOWNFALL, was to be the Japanese islands.]