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RE: December 14, 1941

 
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RE: December 14, 1941 - 4/21/2011 12:39:18 PM   
Onime No Kyo


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Blackhorse

Different service, different customs. Any Army Non-Commissioned Officer would ream a new recruit who made the mistake of calling him 'sir.' ("Don't call me sir! I work for a living!")

Keep up the good work.


They inherited that from the Brits.

Agree 110% on the good work.

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"Mighty is the Thread! Great are its works and insane are its inhabitants!" -Brother Mynok

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Post #: 121
RE: December 17, 1941 - 4/21/2011 8:57:49 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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From: Los Angeles
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quote:

Also out of action were light cruisers Helena and St. Louis and heavy cruiser Minneapolis. The big cruiser had suffered a magazine explosion during the second attack


I have a fondness for the Minneapolis, since I was born in her namesake city. But to be fair, she was actually shorter than Helena or St. Louis. It was only in the size of her main guns that she exceeded the "light" cruisers.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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Post #: 122
RE: December 18, 1941 - 4/22/2011 9:31:41 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 18, 1941

Aboard USS Gridley

Location: 300 miles south of Pearl Harbor
Course: South-southwest
Attached to: TF 406
Mission: Air combat
Ship's Status: No damage
Fuel: 497 (94%)

Orders: Escort Enterprise into the South Pacific


Three carriers and their escorts sliced southwards through the ocean. Behind them lay the dubious safety of Pearl Harbor, ahead lay the unknown. The Pacific, no longer peaceful, was now a danger zone. Under the surface swarmed Japanese submarines, and somewhere on it sailed the Japanese carriers.

The carriers had sailed into the west and disappeared. But they were out there, somewhere in the vast reaches of the Pacific ocean. The US Navy charts did not contain blank areas labeled "here there be dragons" but had they done so it would not have been inappropriate. The dragons were out there.

It was the first sortie of the war for the men aboard the ships. They felt tension and excitement, and a strong desire to begin striking back. But they could as yet only dimly glimpse the shape and scope of the war before them. This was, perhaps, just as well.

On they sailed, moving from the past into an uncertain future.


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Post #: 123
RE: December 19, 1941 - 4/22/2011 9:35:34 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 19, 1941

Aboard USS Gridley

Location: 390 miles north-northeast of Palmyra
Course: Southwest
Attached to: TF 406
Mission: Air combat
Ship's Status: No damage
Fuel: 469 (89%)

Orders: Escort Enterprise into the South Pacific


When the flash message came in Bonderman logged it and then handed it to the coding officer, Ensign Holbrook. Holbrook, known to his fellow officers as "Wrinkles," broke it and immediately took it to the bridge, where he handed it to Captain Stickney. Stickney read it and then passed it without comment to Lieutenant Steubens. Stripped of padding, the message read:

Wake reports message received from AM Penguin 2000 Zulu. Penguin under attack by carrier aircraft repeat carrier aircraft 104 NM due west of Wake.

"Poor bastards," said Steubens. Stickney knew he meant the minesweeper's crew. It was all too easy to picture the frail craft being bombed and strafed by Japanese planes out there in the middle of nowhere. No place to run, little chance of defense. The captain nodded grimly.

"Yeah," he said. "We might have some subs in the area. Anyway, we know where at least one Jap carrier is."

"The planes could hardly from anywhere else, out there," agreed Steubens. "But that doesn't mean the others aren't somewhere further south."

"Still," said Stickney, "Either the Jap carriers are to the north or they've divided their forces. Either way, it's good to know."

"Do you think we'll go after them, sir?" Stickney glanced across the water towards Enterprise.

"We'll know soon enough," is all he said.


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Post #: 124
RE: December 19, 1941 - 4/22/2011 10:48:53 PM   
Cap Mandrake

 

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Wouldn't that be Guillermo "El Toro" Halsy on Enterprise?

Perhaps he will order an attack with a single carrier?

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Post #: 125
RE: December 19, 1941 - 4/23/2011 8:22:34 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Cap Mandrake

Wouldn't that be Guillermo "El Toro" Halsy on Enterprise?

Perhaps he will order an attack with a single carrier?


Not impossible! We are talking, after all, about the man who went charging after KB with a single carrier when he heard about Pearl Harbor. Though if I recall correctly even he admitted later it was probably a good thing that he didn't find them.


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Post #: 126
RE: December 20, 1941 - 4/26/2011 2:41:09 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 20, 1941

Aboard USS Gridley

Location: 75 miles east of Palmyra
Course: Southwest
Attached to: TF 406
Mission: Air combat
Ship's Status: No damage
Fuel: 444 (84%)


Reedy sat in the crowded mess room reading a paperback book. He was scarcely aware of the occasional jostling and the conversations going on around him, he was that absorbed in what he was reading. At one point, though, the fact that someone was speaking to him finally penetrated his concentration. He looked around.

Seated at his left was one of the newcomers aboard. The man had a wide forehead and sandy-blond hair. He had a wide mouth and large lips. A woman, Reedy thought, might have described them as "sensual" but to him they just looked kind of rubbery. He had pale brown eyes.

"I said, what'cha reading?" the man repeated. Jake closed the book, leaving a finger in it to keep his place, and raised it to show the man.

"Farewell, My Lovely," said the man, reading the title. "That sounds like a girly sort of book." The man's tone was sneering but Reedy just grinned.

"Not exactly," he said. "A man snaps another man's neck with his bare hands in the first few pages and the bodies start piling up from there. It's a mystery novel." He shifted the book to his left hand, still keeping his place, and extended his right. "I'm Jake Reedy, by the way." The other man shook.

"I'm Al," he said. "Al Tanner. Where are you from?"

"Scranton," replied Reedy.

"Are you?" said Tanner. "I'm from Philly." Before Reedy could reply Tanner reached out and plucked the book from his hand. Reedy gritted his teeth for a second but he said nothing. Tanner looked the book over.

"Oh yeah," he said. "Chandler. I tried to read a book by this guy last year. Something with 'sleep' in the title. I didn't like it, though. I couldn't tell what the hell was supposed to be going on." He handed the book back to Reedy.

"That isn't an easy book to figure out," said Reedy. "But the plot isn't really all that important. It's all about the style." Tanner snorted.

"Style," he said dismissively. "I don't care about style."

"I sort of guessed that," said Reedy, then mentally kicked himself. It was an obvious shot but he shouldn't have taken it. His mouth was always doing that, saying things before his brain had a chance to vote on whether or not it was a good idea. But he was a bit nettled by the way the other man had snatched his book and lost his place. Tanner narrowed his eyes, apparently unsure whether he had been insulted or not. Reedy grinned at him good-naturedly.

Further conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Bill Bonderman, who squeezed into an empty space on Reedy's right.

"Hey Bill," Reedy said. Bonderman nodded in return. The tall, quiet Texan filled his plate and then bowed his head over it, hands folded in his lap.

"If you're praying for the food to be edible, good luck," joshed Tanner. There was laughter around the table. Bonderman finished and then looked up with a smile.

"I have been known," he admitted in his drawl, "to ask the Lord's help when in peril. But mostly I try to ask what service I can be to Him." He started eating.

"You gotta be from Texas," said Tanner.

"Yep," said Bonderman without looking up.

"I know a joke," said Tanner. "Three people are riding in a rail car, a Texan, a rich Yankee, and beautiful Texas lady. After they've been riding for a while the Yankee leans forward and says 'Lady, I'll give you ten dollars if you'll show me a good time.' The Texan immediately pulls out a gun and shoots the Yankee dead. The lady turns to him and says 'Thank you, kind sir, for defending my honor!' And the Texan says 'Honor, hell. No city-slicker from back East is going to go around raising the price of women in Texas!'" Tanner finished, then guffawed loudly at his own joke.

Bonderman smiled genially. There were some chuckles from around the table, which died abruptly when a burly sailor across the table cleared his throat. He was not smiling. The burly sailor, Reedy knew, was Greg Belchik, a loader on turret 52. He was from San Antonio.

"I know a joke," Belchik rumbled. "It's about a Yankee who had to pick up all his teeth with two broken arms."

"Hey, easy, big guy," said Tanner. "No offense. I love Texas! Remember the Alamo and all that!" Belchik subsided with a glare.

"Got duty," muttered Tanner. He got up and left but Reedy caught the nasty glare he shot Belchik just before he headed up the stairs.

Reedy and Bonderman sat in silence for a moment as conversation resumed around them. Reedy opened his book and Bonderman was busy eating. After a moment Bonderman paused and glanced at Reedy.

"Who was that guy?" he asked.

"His name's Tanner," said Reedy. "He's new." Bonderman nodded slightly.

"Insulting women can be a dangerous pastime, where I come from," he said. "But I do know a good Texas joke."

"Yeah?" said Reedy.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" Bonderman asked.

"Why?'

"To prove to the armadillo it can be done." Reedy just looked at him, not understanding. Across the table, though, Belchik started bellowing with laughter.



< Message edited by Cuttlefish -- 4/26/2011 2:42:08 AM >

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Post #: 127
RE: December 21, 1941 - 4/26/2011 10:20:19 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 21, 1941

Aboard USS Gridley

Location: 265 miles southwest of Palmyra
Course: Southwest
Attached to: TF 406
Mission: Air combat
Ship's Status: No damage
Fuel: 417 (79%)


As Gridley and the other ships pass Palmyra and leave it behind let's take a quick look at the composition of the task forces heading into the South Pacific:

TF 406
Admiral Halsey

CV Enterprise
CA Northampton
CA Chester
CA Salt Lake City
DD Craven
DD McCall
DD Gridley
DD Maury
DD Benham
DD Ellet
DD Dunlap
DD Balch


TF 405
Admiral Spruance

CV Lexington
CA Portland
CA Chicago
CA Astoria
DD Mahan
DD Drayton
DD Lamson
DD Flusser
DD Fanning
DD Porter


TF 9
Captain Ramsey

CV Saratoga
CA New Orleans
CA San Francisco
CL Concord
DD Bagley
DD Blue
DD Helm
DD Mugford
DD Cummings
DD Case


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Post #: 128
RE: December 21, 1941 - 4/27/2011 2:01:02 AM   
kaleun

 

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Love the Texas joke (and the armadillo one)

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Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
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Post #: 129
RE: December 21, 1941 - 4/27/2011 8:42:50 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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quote:

TF 9
Captain Ramsey

CV Saratoga
CA New Orleans
CA San Francisco
CL Concord
DD Bagley
DD Blue
DD Helm
DD Mugford
DD Cummings
DD Case


Hmm. That group may be a tad light on AAA. (Then again, USN flack doesn't get really good until the 1.1-inchers get replaced with 40 mm Bofors.)

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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Post #: 130
RE: December 22, 1941 - 4/27/2011 11:15:05 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 22, 1941

Aboard USS Gridley

Location: 240 miles east of Canton Island
Course: Southwest
Attached to: TF 406
Mission: Air combat
Ship's Status: No damage
Fuel: 389 (74%)


Reedy lay in his bunk, reading. He ought to be getting some sleep, he knew, but he wanted to finish the current chapter of the Chandler novel he was reading. Gus Becken came into the bunkroom and after a moment climbed into his own bunk, using Reedy's bunk as a stepping stone.

Reedy didn't even notice. He continued to read:

We went swiftly into the bedroom. Mrs. Jesse Pierce Florian lay diagonally across the bed, in a rumpled cotton housedress, with her head close to one end of the footboard. The corner post of the bed was smeared darkly with something the flies liked.

She had been dead long enough.

Randall didn't touch her. He stared down at her for a long time and then looked at me with a wolfish bearing of his teeth.

"Brains on her face," he said. "That seems to be the theme song of this case. Only this was done with just a pair of hands. But Jesus what a pair of hands. Look at the neck bruises, the spacing of the finger marks."

"You look at them," I said. I turned away.


"Hey Jake," said Becken, his voice floating down from above. Reedy closed his book. That was the end of the chapter anyway.

"Yeah?" he said.

"Just where is Tarawa, anyway?" While not much war news had reached them out here the admirals had been kept informed about Japanese moves in the Pacific. That news had inevitably trickled its way down the chain of command. It seemed that Japanese were attacking Wake Island with strong forces, including a lot of carrier planes, and that a couple of days ago they had occupied Tarawa.

Reedy was a little hazy about Tarawa himself. It was not exactly a household name.

"It's somewhere in the Central Pacific," he said. "An atoll in the Gilberts, is what I heard."

"Think we'll hit the Japs there?" Becken asked.

"How would I know?" Reedy said. "Maybe." The crew was full of speculation about when and where they would strike back at the Japanese. The favorite theory was that they were going to refuel in Australia and then move up to clear the way for the long convoys of men, planes, and supplies that were no doubt being mustered to relieve American forces in the Philippines. There was silence above him as Becken digested this.

"We oughta go up and help those boys at Wake," Becken said after a moment.

"Yeah," said Reedy. It stuck in the craw to think of the likely fate of the small Marine garrison there. "But we're too far away and it sounds like the Japs are throwing a lot at it. Battleships, carriers, the works. There's what, a few hundred guys there? It would all be over before we got there."

"Poor bastards," said Becken. His tone was bitter.

Poor bastards indeed, thought Reedy. But thinking about it got him nowhere. So he thought about Cathy, his girl back home in Scranton, instead. She was probably at her father's bakery already, helping get ready to open the place in the morning. He pictured her, shapely hips wrapped in her baker's apron, lifting a tray of rolls into one of the ovens. It was a pleasant thought.

After a few minutes Becken started to snore. Lulled by that sound, and by the slow rocking of the ship, Reedy closed his eyes and fell asleep.

***

The original 1940 paperback cover of "Farewell My Lovely" by Raymond Chandler:





Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Cuttlefish -- 4/27/2011 11:18:56 PM >

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Post #: 131
RE: December 22, 1941 - 4/29/2011 1:49:47 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 23, 1941

Great Lakes Naval Training Station, North Chicago, Illinois


"Fall out!" barked the instructor, and the column of men did so. "Take five!" Many flopped down onto the frozen turf, groaning, Joe Beaumont among them. Being cold was not an issue, not after a five mile run.

Joe had handled most of the physical conditioning easily, except for the running. He was in the prime of youth and hardened by years of backbreaking work on the farm. But he was a big man and one thing farm life had not given him time for was a lot of running.

None of the physical drills, though, gave him anything like the trouble that absorbing all the knowledge they were trying to cram into him did. Ranks, ratings, signals, knots, all of the essential knowledge of the Navy distilled into four weeks. What Joe learned he learned well, but the learning took him time and that was a luxury their instructors did not have.

Joe didn't really mind the abuse it earned him. Many of his fellow trainees hated their instructors, but Joe didn't figure the instructors were being mean on purpose. Well, there was one named Simmons that he suspected enjoyed it, but not most of them. They did it because they had to. The Germans or the Japanese would not be nearly so nice.

Word was that some men were being sent straight onto ships right now, without even a day of basic training. Joe figured that would be like sending a city boy to help him on the farm, a city boy who literally didn't know a cow from a cauliflower.

He levered himself up on one elbow. As his sweat dried the cold wind was beginning to sting again. He was used to a colder climate than this but there was a dampness to the wind here that was worse than just cold. It got through jackets and clothing and went straight to the bone.

He wondered what his mother and brothers were doing right now. He missed them. Worse than the physical and mental stress of an eight-week course crammed into four weeks was the homesickness. Joe had never been this far from home, for so long. It made an ache deep inside that hurt like a cramp. It was enough to make a fellow cry, except that his father had drilled into him that men don't ever cry. So Joe just swallowed around the lump.

He knew he wasn't alone in this. A lot of the guys felt the same way. Nobody talked about it much, but it was there.

What they did talk about was the war. There was a lot of news every day in the papers. There was a big conference just started in Washington DC with President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. The Germans and Russians were fighting in front of Moscow. And the Japanese were all over the place.

They were getting closer to Manila in the Philippines. Joe noticed that the papers had kind of moved from talking about General MacArthur driving the Japs into the sea to wondering when relief convoys would arrive. And they were moving down the Malay Peninsula, but the British were sure to stop them before they reached Singapore. And they were invading Wake Island and things there looked bad. Joe hadn't known where any of these places were but he looked them up. The base had a good library with lots of maps. He liked looking at the maps, not that he had a lot of time to do so.

Snow started to fall as they were ordered back onto their feet and headed back towards the base. At least they weren't running now. His muscles loose despite the cold, Joe marched off with the others through the thickening snow.


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Post #: 132
RE: December 22, 1941 - 4/29/2011 2:21:45 AM   
Cap Mandrake

 

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quote:

...He pictured her, shapely hips wrapped in her baker's apron, lifting a tray of rolls into one of the ovens. It was a pleasant thought.


That's it? Then he falls asleep? What about the rest of her? Well, maybe the rolls are allegorical. Oh, wait, maybe the oven is allegorical too??? Never mind.

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Post #: 133
RE: December 22, 1941 - 4/29/2011 3:08:12 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Cap Mandrake

quote:

...He pictured her, shapely hips wrapped in her baker's apron, lifting a tray of rolls into one of the ovens. It was a pleasant thought.


That's it? Then he falls asleep? What about the rest of her? Well, maybe the rolls are allegorical. Oh, wait, maybe the oven is allegorical too??? Never mind.


Family-friendly forum and all that, you know. Though I was tempted to make it buns instead of rolls.



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Post #: 134
RE: December 22, 1941 - 4/29/2011 5:58:33 PM   
kaleun

 

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quote:

Family-friendly forum and all that, you know. Though I was tempted to make it buns instead of rolls.

Maybe when this is published you can go through it and turn it into PG-13?

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Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Sun Tzu

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Post #: 135
RE: December 24, 1941 - 4/29/2011 10:14:47 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 24, 1941

Aboard USS Gridley

Location: 185 miles northeast of Wallis Island
Course: West-southwest
Attached to: TF 406
Mission: Air combat
Ship's Status: No damage
Fuel: 331 (63%)


Reedy stood by the rail and swept his arm out over the blue water slipping past the destroyer, sparkling in the sunshine.

"Here we are, boys," he proclaimed. "Polynesia. The South Pacific of Gauguin, of romance. Palm trees, white sand beaches, and some of the most beautiful women on earth. Why, we might even make Fiji by tomorrow. Think of it, Christmas Day in paradise."

"That'd be a nice present, all right," sighed Gus Becken.

"I saw a picture once," said Bonderman dreamily. "Four Polynesian women in a red canoe. They were wearing nothing but grass skirts and smiles. Each one was prettier than the last." He pronounced "picture" as "pitcher."

"I bet they looked better than the fellas did yesterday," said Reedy with a chuckle. He was referring to the dozen men on board who had crossed the equator for the first time and had gone through the ceremony of becoming "trusty shellbacks" wearing nothing but skivvies and grass skirts. It had all been in fun but several of the victims were still sitting down a little gingerly because of the enthusiastic application of paddles by their crewmates.

"Don't forget the French women," said Becken. "I hear they're good-looking, too. And friendly."

The three men were silent for a moment, contemplating this. Reedy almost imagined he could smell tropical flowers on the warm breeze.

A sailor came along and interrupted their reverie.

"Hey, did you guys hear?" he said. "Word just came down. We're bypassing Suva and sailing straight on to Brisbane." He hurried on. The three men at the rail looked at each other for a moment.

"New Year's Day in Australia!" said Reedy, finally.

"I've heard good things about the women there..." said Becken.


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Post #: 136
RE: December 24, 1941 - 4/29/2011 10:58:40 PM   
vettim89


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Cuttlefish


"I saw a picture once," said Bonderman dreamily. "Four Polynesian women in a red canoe. They were wearing nothing but grass skirts and smiles. Each one was prettier than the last." He pronounced "picture" as "pitcher."



That sounds vaguely familiar. Hmmm. I bet that picture made its rounds in the "Gator" Navy. You know, the guys that travel about in ships with "L" in their prefix

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Post #: 137
RE: December 25, 1941 - 5/3/2011 6:08:50 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 25, 1941

Aboard USS Gridley

Location: 40 miles southeast of the Hoorn Islands
Course: West
Attached to: TF 406
Mission: Air combat
Ship's Status: No damage
Fuel: 303 (57%)


A few white clouds chased each other across a tropical sky. Beneath them Gridley moved west, her engines driving her easily through the light chop. It was early summer here, south of the equator, and the air was as warm and humid as a hothouse.

As hot as it was on deck it was hotter still in the galley. Here the cooks and bakers worked with towels around their necks to soak up the sweat pouring off their faces. But they worked with a will. It was their job to prepare Christmas Dinner and they did not want to disappoint a crew stuck in a very un-Christmas like environment, a crew that was farther from home with every passing hour.

The galley took up the entire after side of the galley passage, which ran athwart the forward structure. Potatoes, yams, and green beans were being prepared in big copper kettles, clamped to the deck and heated by steam jackets. In the large roasting oven a dozen hams were baking at a time. On the port side of the galley the bakers were bringing out the rolls, cornbread, and pies baked the night before out of the bread locker. A man pausing in the galley passage while they worked could close his eyes and smell the ham and the pies and, for just a moment, he could almost imagine he was back home.

Each of the four crew's mess compartments had a few decorations added, courtesy of the ship's machine shops. The Chief Petty Officer's mess had received the same treatment. Opposite the galley, down the passage between the Provision Issue Room and the bread locker, two white-jacketed stewards were putting the final touches on the Officer's Mess. White linen tablecloths, silver, and china were accented by a festive centerpiece.

On deck Christmas services were being held by Doc Corwin, the ship's physician, who doubled as chaplain. Afterwards the crew would sing carols, perhaps not terribly well but with enthusiasm. The high point would be the crews of the four 5" guns trying to outdo each other on "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Later, when leisure permitted, the men would write letters home. Christmas letters and gifts sent by loved ones would have to wait while their mail chased them across the Pacific. But their lack would not stop the men from thinking of home and loved ones, wives, children, sweethearts, parents and siblings. It was a day of celebration but it brought with it a touch of melancholy for the men.

It was the first Christmas of the war. The first of how many, none of them could say.



< Message edited by Cuttlefish -- 5/3/2011 6:09:41 AM >

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Post #: 138
RE: December 25, 1941 - 5/3/2011 7:16:22 AM   
LoBaron


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From: Vienna, Austria
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Simply good stuff Cuttlefish!! Keep it coming.

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S**t happens in war.

All hail the superior ones!

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Post #: 139
RE: December 30, 1941 - 5/4/2011 8:32:05 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 26-30, 1941

Aboard USS Gridley

Location: 275 miles east of Brisbane
Course: West
Attached to: TF 406
Mission: Air combat
Ship's Status: No damage
Fuel: 175 (33%)


During the last few days of 1941 Gridley and the other American ships moved steadily west. They skirted south of Fiji, passed the southern end of New Caledonia, and at last neared the coast of Australia.

They went warily, on the watch for Japanese ships and submarines. But nothing was sighted and no word reached them of fresh Japanese movements in the Pacific. Since the fall of Wake the Japanese carriers had vanished, except for a pair of light carriers known to be operating in the Celebes Sea area. Knowledge that the whereabouts of the enemy's main carrier force was unknown added tension to an otherwise uneventful journey.

Tomorrow the ships would reach Brisbane. There they would take on fuel and provisions and, no doubt, receive new orders. Many sailors still expected that the Philippines were the ultimate target. No one knew what the situation was there but everyone knew that if nothing else the American troops and their Filipino allies would eventually starve if not relieved.

Other rumors said they were to remain in Australia to defend against a planned Japanese invasion. Still others maintained that they were to protect the Australian base at Rabaul, or perhaps even spearhead a counterattack at Wake Island.

Whatever was going to happen, though, it would depend on the whereabouts of the Japanese carrier force. Few spoke aloud the underlying reality of this situation, though more thoughtful men realized it. That reality was that right now it was the Japanese who were dictating the course and pace of events in the Pacific.


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 140
RE: December 31, 1941 - 5/4/2011 10:27:39 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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December 31, 1941

Brisbane, Australia


Captain Stickney greeted several of his fellow captains and then seated himself in one of the folding chairs lined up in the hastily assembled briefing room. At the front of the room Admiral Halsey and Admiral Spruance stood talking to a pair of Australian officers. The murmur of conversation that filled the room died down as Halsey finished his conversation with them and moved to stand before the assembled men.

"Good afternoon," he said. "Before we start, I would like to thank Lieutenant Commander Brookes, who is in charge of the base here, for his hospitality." He nodded to an Australian naval officer who stood nearby, trying not to look too nervous.

"And," Halsey continued, "I would like to introduce you to General Blamey, just recalled from the Middle East and made commander-in-chief of Australian forces." The stocky, affable-looking Blamey nodded to the crowd from his position next to Spruance. "Now let's get down to business," Halsey continued. "I know it's New Year's Eve and your crews are probably looking forward to some Australian beer and an evening ashore. Sorry, it's not going to happen. We've gotten some news today. General Blamey, if you would?" He looked at Blamey, who stepped forward.

"Thank you, Admiral," said Blamey. His voice was resonant, bringing out his Australian accent in deep tones. "Earlier today some of our planes flying out of Rabaul reported several groups of Japanese ships nearing New Britain, apparently coming down from Truk. It looks like an invasion force, two groups of transports covered by some cruisers. At their current course and speed they should reach Rabaul sometime tonight.

"No carriers have been sighted accompanying the enemy ships. However, we have, just within the last couple of hours, received an interesting report from our Dutch friends. It seems they have spotted at least five large carriers, with escorting battleships and cruisers, off the northeast coast of Borneo, not far from Tarakan.

"We have three heavy cruisers up around Townsville; Australia, Canberra, and your own Pensacola. Their task force has been ordered into the Coral Sea with an eye towards contesting Rabaul. It is our hope that you lot will take your carriers up there and join them."

"Damn right we will," growled Halsey, "We've been waiting for a chance like this. With the Jap carriers located we have a real opportunity to give the Japs a kick in the seat of the pants. So we're going to refuel as fast as possible, all night long if we have to, and head north. General, what forces do you have at Rabaul? How long can they hold?"

"Very little, I'm afraid," said Blamey. "Few men and few heavy weapons. In fact we have a handful of transports in the Solomon Sea right now whose mission was to take the troops there off and move them to Port Moresby. The transports have been diverted to Lae instead."

"Too bad," said Halsey. "Still, we can be there in just a few days." He turned his attention back to the assembled captains. "Get your ships in and out of the refueling docks as fast as possible. Happy New Year and all that," he added wryly.

"Sir," said Captain Ramsey of Saratoga, "is there enough fuel here for all the ships? The storage facilities seem fairly limited." Halsey looked at General Blamey, who in turn looked at Lieutenant Commander Brookes. The young officer bobbed his head.

"Well," he said, "I think so. It will pretty much take every drop of fuel we have, but you should be able to take on enough to get up north all right. Um, we do have something else for you, though, courtesy of the people of Australia. Beer, cases of it for every ship. So perhaps the new year will not go completely unrecognized." This last was greeting by smiles and murmurs of thanks.

"All right," said Halsey. "That's all, men. We've got some Japs to go meet, so let's get to it. Dismissed."


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 141
RE: December 31, 1941 - 5/5/2011 4:17:10 PM   
kaleun

 

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From: Colorado
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Great writing. 

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Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Sun Tzu

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 142
RE: January 1, 1942 - 5/5/2011 8:07:04 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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From: Oregon, USA
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January 1, 1942

Over the Celebes Sea


Second Lieutenant Rogier DeVries banked his Do-24 in a gentle curve high above the Celebes Sea. Aboard the three-engine flying boat the four-man crew scanned both sea and sky. Their mission was to locate the Japanese carriers spotted the day before, but DeVries and his men knew this was dangerous prey to stalk. Where the carriers were there would be Zeros and the Dornier stood little chance if caught by the Japanese fighters.

The waters of the Makassar Strait seemed clear. That had seemed to be the Japanese destination when glimpsed yesterday. DeVries pushed on to the north.

The Celebes Sea was now, for all practical purposes, enemy territory. The Japanese had seized Manado, at the north end of Sulawesi, in the first few days of the war, and they had captured Jolo Island as well. Now their ships and planes controlled the area. Dutch forces still controlled the area south of the Makassar Strait but if the Japanese were to send their carriers through that situation might change very quickly.

They flew north for some time before his co-pilot suddenly leaned forward.

"There!" he said. "I see wakes, Lieutenant!"

DeVries looked. The faint tracks of many ships did indeed cover the sea, sweeping in a gentle curve to the west. The pilot changed course to follow them and before long an impressive armada of ships came into view, looking like tiny models on the sea far below. DeVries quickly scanned the sky around him. No Zeros, at least not yet.

"I see the carriers," said his co-pilot. He was using binoculars now, trying to hold them steady against the vibration of the plane. DeVries checked his compass.

"They are heading for Tarakan," he said. "This must be an invasion force." A move against Tarakan had been expected for some days.

DeVries and his crew tried to count the number and type of Japanese ships. Was that another carrier? It must be. And surely those were battleships. And troop transports, too, quite a number of them. They continued to shadow the Japanese from a distance, counting.

When they were done DeVries ordered his radioman to send in the report. Surely his commanders should have this information as quickly as possible. And then he turned his plane and headed back for Balikpapan. They had been lucky so far, it was time to leave.

DeVries was a good pilot, and he and his men were brave and determined. But they had little experience in identifying ships and little knowledge of the Imperial Japanese Navy. If they had had time for more training it might have occurred to them to wonder why aircraft carriers were closely escorting troops transports in towards the Borneo coast. They might also have been better able to tell the difference between fleet carriers and seaplane cruisers.

Their report of four or five large carriers was received at Balikpapan and quickly relayed to Soerabaja. From there the information was sent to Australia, where it was soon broadcast to the American carriers now moving north up the Australian coast. The dreaded Japanese carrier force, or at least most of it, was in the Celebes Sea, Admiral Halsey read the dispatch with satisfaction and ordered his ships to increase speed.


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 143
RE: January 1, 1942 - 5/5/2011 8:24:42 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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quote:

If they had had time for more training it might have occurred to them to wonder why aircraft carriers were closely escorting troops transports in towards the Borneo coast. They might also have been better able to tell the difference between fleet carriers and seaplane cruisers.


I've got a very bad feeling about this ....

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 144
RE: January 1, 1942 - 5/5/2011 8:36:09 PM   
kaleun

 

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From: Colorado
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I foresee a disaster brewing.

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Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Sun Tzu

(in reply to Capt. Harlock)
Post #: 145
RE: January 2, 1942 - 5/9/2011 10:28:41 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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January 2, 1941

Aboard USS Gridley

Location: 170 miles east of Bowen
Course: North
Attached to: TF 406
Mission: Air combat
Ship's Status: System damage 1, engine damage 1
Fuel: 481 (91%)


Chief Petty Officer Marcus "Black Mark" Helquist, the machinist's mate of the watch, paused on a walkway in the forward engine room and cocked his head slightly. The engine room was noisy, so noisy that people had to shout in each other's ears to be heard. But Helquist thought he heard a false note in the cacophonous symphony produced by the roar of the ventilators and the hum of machinery.

Like a hound casting for a scent Helquist paced slowly back and forth along the walkway. Sometimes the sound faded, sometimes it grew louder. Ah, down there, he thought. He descended a ladder and moved over to contemplate the two main feed pumps. Nestled next to them was the cruising feed pump and, just to starboard was the main condenser. The off note was coming from the number one main feed pump.

It was noticeably hotter and more humid here than in the rest of the engine room. In the aft engine room the analogous space was taken up by the ship's two high-pressure air compressors, but here in the forward room water held sway. Helquist carefully scrutinized the carbon packing surrounding the pump but could detect no wisps of escaping steam. Good.

Still, something was beginning to wear in the pump. With luck it was the packing and not the pump shaft itself. Helquist made a mental note to mention it to Lieutenant Westcott, the ship's engineer.

It was not a surprise. Gridley did not cruise like this in peacetime, twenty-four knots day in and day out for thousands of miles. He and the rest of the "black gang," Helquist thought to himself, were going to have to adopt to the realities of wartime, when the demands of the mission came first and the machinery came second.

Right now, with both boilers in full operation, there were twenty engineers on watch, scattered among both firerooms and the two enginerooms. They really needed to take on some more men. Watches were tight and Helquist knew that men, like machines, accumulated wear and tear. But that wasn't his responsibility. Westcott was aware of the problem and so Captain Stickney probably did too.

Helquist climbed back up onto the walkway, lithe as a cat, and returned to surveying his domain. Let others have the bridge or man the guns and torpedo tubes. This was the heart of the ship. This machinery made Gridley one of the fastest destroyers afloat and Helquist was fiercely proud of it, as proud as any father could be of his children.

And of course the machinery, like children, was noisy, tended to get dirty, and could sometimes be willful and stubborn or even misbehave. And it could leak. Helquist glanced suspiciously down at the pump again, then went on about his duties.


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 146
RE: January 2, 1942 - 5/9/2011 11:51:29 PM   
kaleun

 

Posts: 4753
Joined: 5/29/2002
From: Colorado
Status: offline
quote:

machinery, like children, was noisy, tended to get dirty, and could sometimes be willful and stubborn or even misbehave

Great line!


_____________________________

Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Sun Tzu

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 147
RE: January 3, 1942 - 5/10/2011 10:28:15 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

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From: Oregon, USA
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January 3, 1941

Aboard USS Enterprise

Location: 150 miles west-southwest of Tagula Island


Admiral William F. Halsey paced a short distance in his staff room - a short distance was all the room there was - and looked at his staff officers. Also present was George D. Murray, captain of the Enterprise.

"So that's it," he said. "The Dutch are no longer certain the Jap carriers are in the Celebes Sea, They might be there. They might not be there. Where does that leave us, gentlemen?"

"The Dutch couldn't find their ass with both hands and a full-length mirror," growled Captain Miles Browning, Halsey's chief of staff. Browning was, if anything, shorter of temper and more irascible than his boss. But unlike Halsey the staff officer lacked almost any ability with people whatsoever. He was abrasive and abrupt and widely disliked. But he had a first-class mind for planning and Halsey valued him for this ability.

"The Jap's last known position was at Wake, ten days ago," pointed out one officer. "They could easily be in the Celebes Sea."

"They could easily be anywhere," argued Browning. "The question is, why would they be there?" He pointed to the map on the table, indicating the area south of Mindanao. "The Japs have captured several airfields in that area. They have land-based air coverage. Why would they use their most valuable asset there in a defensive role?"

"Their thinking," Halsey said, "has not been noticeably defensive so far."

"Right," said Browning. "So why wouldn't they keep their carriers in the Pacific, where we have a better chance of hitting them?" He thumped a finger on the map and traced a sweeping curve from Truk down through the Solomon Island chain and into the Coral Sea. "If I were the Nips I'd have my carrier force coming down here, right now, through the Solomons, maybe here, or here."

"They'd hit us from the northeast," observed Murray, looking at the map. "There's a good chance we wouldn't see them coming." The men were silent a moment.

"The question is, do we continue on north?" asked Halsey.

"Hell yes," said Browning. "Put out extra scouts, concentrating our searches to the north and northeast. They can't know we're here. We might get the drop on the bastards."

"That's playing blind man's bluff with a force that might outnumber us two to one or more," said another officer. "Those aren't good odds." The debate continued for a moment, with opinion split among the staff. Halsey listened, his face in its habitually grim expression. Finally he held up his hand. Silence fell at once.

"Our orders," he said, "are to intercept and destroy Jap invasion forces. I want to find the Japs and hit them. And I want every one of those goddamn carriers of theirs at the bottom of the ocean. But this force is too valuable to risk when we don't know what we might be facing. We'll move northwest, keeping between Australia and New Guinea. If the Japs try anything in this area," and he moved one gold-braided sleeve to indicate a triangle that included Lae, Milne Bay, and the south end of New Britain, "we'll be in position to attack. But if the Japs send in their carriers we'll see them first. Get those extra scouts in the air. Notify Lexington and Saratoga of the change and have them do the same."

The men acknowledged the orders and the meeting broke up. Browning looked as though he wanted to say something further but for once held his peace. After he departed Halsey remained alone in the room for a moment, standing over the table. He glared down at the map as if by sheer force of will he could force it to yield up the secrets of the Japanese.



(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 148
RE: January 3, 1942 - 5/11/2011 5:44:35 AM   
Canoerebel


Posts: 9770
Joined: 12/14/2002
From: Northwestern Georgia, USA
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It sure is a treat to read good writing. I think Cuttlefish must have a gift, because even the most accomlished writers need good editing. Not this guy, though. (I found one sentence that could have used another comma, but that's like saying Ingrid Bergman was missing an eyelash.)

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 149
RE: January 3, 1942 - 5/11/2011 3:09:54 PM   
kaleun

 

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Joined: 5/29/2002
From: Colorado
Status: offline
I think he writes professionally.


_____________________________

Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Sun Tzu

(in reply to Canoerebel)
Post #: 150
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