Bataan Speaking Introduction Aug '43-Mar '44 April '44 May '44 June '44 July '44 Aug'44-Sept '44 Bridge Reminiscence Oct '44-Mar '45 Apr '45 May '45 June '45 July '45 Aug '45 Arthur Bode & Bernard MacDonald Sept '45 Oct '45 Recall & Reminisce

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Bataan Speaking

 

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE REMINISCENCE OF CMDR. ARCH ATKINSON:

THE THIRD FLEET ENTERED NEW YORK HARBOR AS DAWN WAS BREAKING. WE WERE GREETED BY FIRE BOATS SENDING UP SHOWERS OF WATER AND SOME PORTLY SOPRANO SINGING "GOD BLESS AMERICA."

WE WERE ON A VERY TIGHT SCHEDULE; WE WERE SLATED TO GO TO PROVIDENCE FOR NAVY DAY, THEN TO QUONSETT, R. I. TO OFF LOAD ALL UNNEEDED SUPPLIES, THEN TO DRY DOCK IN THE BOSTON NAVY YARD FOR INSTALLATION OF BUNKS TO BRING TROOPS BACK FROM EUROPE. NEW YORK WAS GOING MAD OVER ADMIRAL HALSEY. HIS SHIP WAS BESIEGED WITH VISITORS. CAPTAIN GILBERT DECIDED THE BATAAN SHOULD NOT BE OVERLOOKED. HE NOTIFIED THE BROOKLYN NEWSPAPERS THAT THE BATAAN WOULD HAVE OPEN HOUSE. THE CAPTAIN COMPLETELY UNDERESTIMATED THE YOUTH OF BROOKLYN. THEY SWARMED OVER THE SHIP, WENT HAND-IN-HAND OUT ON THE YARDARMS, INVADED EVERY CORNER OF THE SHIP, RANG THE SHIP'S BELL, ACTIVATED THE SIREN, AND CONSTANTLY RANG THE SHIP'S WHISTLE. A QUARTERMASTER HAD TO WRESTLE MY PRIZE CHRONOMETER FROM ONE YOUNG BURGLAR AS HE SHOUTED -- "IT'S MINE, ME OLE MAN IS A TAXPAYER." IT IS NO WONDER THAT THE CAPTAIN ORDERED THE SHIP CLEARED.

WITH THE PILOT ABOARD, WE LEFT FOR PROVIDENCE, R. I. OFF BLOCK ISLAND. WE WERE FOLLOWED UP THE CHANNEL BY THE NEWLY COMMISSIONED CRUISER, USS PROVIDENCE, WHICH HAD RUN AGROUND AND HAD TO BE PULLED OFF BY TUGS.

AFTER "SHOWING THE FLAG" ON NAVY DAY IN PROVIDENCE, WHERE THE PEOPLE WERE DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE TO THE BROOKLYNITES, WE DEPARTED EARLY IN THE MORNING AND HEADED FOR BOSTON.

 

ART BODE'S RECOLLECTION ---

WE WERE IN BOSTON FOR ABOUT A MONTH AND WERE OUTFITTED AS A TROOP TRANSPORT. THE FORWARD ELEVATOR WELL WAS MADE INTO A HEAD AND THE AFT WELL INTO A GALLEY. BUNKS WERE WELDED ONTO THE HANGER DECK; I BELIEVE THEY WERE FOUR OR FIVE HIGH. WE SAILED FOR NORFOLK AND STOPPED AT THE NAVY AMMUNITION DEPOT AT YORKTOWN, VA TO UNLOAD OUR REMAINING AMMUNITION.

I AM NOT SURE OF THE DATES, BUT IN LATE NOVEMBER OR EARLY DECEMBER 1945, WE SAILED FROM NORFOLK WITH ITALIAN SOLDIERS ABOARD (WE WOULD MAKE TWO TRIPS WHICH WERE KNOWN AS THE "MAGIC CARPET"). THE PRISONERS HAD BEEN CAPTURED IN NORTH AFRICA AND WERE IN POW CAMPS IN THE UNITED STATES.

AFTER UNLOADING OUR ITALIAN PASSENGERS IN NAPLES, WE BOARDED AMERICAN TROOPS FOR THE RETURN TRIP TO NORFOLK. OUR STAY IN NAPLES WAS SHORT, BUT I REMEMBER DRINKING CHIANTI AND VERMOUTH AT A SIDEWALK CAFE ON THE VIA ROMA. I CAN'T REMEMBER TOO MUCH ABOUT THE STORM EXCEPT THAT OUR PASSENGERS WERE REALLY SEA SICK AND THE HANGER DECK WAS A REAL MESS. MY DUTY STATION WAS THE PILOT HOUSE AND I REMEMBER GREEN WATER COMING OVER THE FORWARD END ON THE FLIGHT DECK AND TAKING WATER ON THE BRIDGE.

AFTER OUR SECOND TRIP TO NAPLES WITH PRISONERS, AND THE RETURN TO NORFOLK WITH OUR TROOPS, THE BATAAN SAILED FOR PHILADELPHIA FOR DECOMMISSIONING. AT THE CEREMONY, CAPTAIN GILBERT GAVE OVER THE COMMAND TO COMMANDER E. G. OSBORN.

WORLD WAR II WAS OVER, THE USS BATAAN WAS HOME. HISTORY WILL RECORD THE WORDS OF FRANK KNOX, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, WHEN HE SAID:

"...NO SHIP BEARS A MORE ILLUSTRIOUS NAME. THE USS BATAAN COMMEMORATES A CAMPAIGN THAT HAS BECOME A SYMBOL OF THE FORTITUDE AND ENDURANCE OF FREE MEN IN THE FACE OF OVERWHELMING ODDS. IT HAS A RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY THAT SHALL NOT BE DENIED..."

AS POET-LAUREATE JOHN McCRAE WROTE ..."IF EVER AN AMERICAN FIGHTING SHIP WAS CHARGED WITH THE TWIN RESPONSIBILITIES OF A GREAT TRADITION AND A GREAT PURPOSE IT IS THIS -- THE U.S.S. BATAAN."

SO IT IS THAT THE FIRST CHAPTER OF A MIGHTY SHIP COMES TO A CLOSE.

SLEEP WELL BATAAN, YOU DESERVE THE MUCH NEEDED REST.

 

THE FOLLOWING IS A REPORT THAT I HAVE RECEIVED FROM MAJOR HERBERT ROSER, MAJOR, USMC, RETIRED:

MARINES FIRST WENT ABOARD NAVAL VESSELS AS "SNIPERS" DURING THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR. THEY WERE EXPERT RIFLEMEN EMPLOYED TO "PICK-OFF" THE LEADING MEN OF THE OPPOSING SHIPS AS THEY APPROACHED ONE ANOTHER IN BATTLE. THEY ALSO WERE THE MAIN FORCE IN "BOARDING PARTIES" AND IN CHARGE OF THE SHIP'S BRIG. OVER THE YEARS, THE SNIPERS BECAME GUNNERS ASSIGNED TO THE GUNNERY DEPARTMENT ABOARD ALL U.S. NAVY (CAPITOL) SHIPS WHICH INCLUDED LIGHT AND HEAVY CRUISERS, BATTLESHIPS AND CARRIERS. THE MARINES WERE NOT ON DESTROYERS OR GUN BOATS EXCEPT "THE BANANA BOAT FLEET" (OLD TWO, AND FOUR STACK TIN CANS) WHICH PROTECTED THE PANAMA CANAL FROM ITS INCEPTION UNTIL AFTER THE WAR.

THE VARIOUS MARINE DETACHMENTS, LIKE THE 6TH DIVISION OF THE BATAAN, MADE UP THE LANDING FORCE BRIGADE WHICH WERE THE FIRST AMERICAN FORCES TO LAND AND OCCUPY JAPAN -- TWO DAYS PRIOR TO THE SURRENDER IN TOKYO BAY.

THE BATAAN ATTACHMENT BECAME A LIGHT MACHINE GUN PLATOON ATTACHED TO A RIFLE COMPANY MADE UP OF ANOTHER LARGER DETACHMENT. CAPT. FRANK WILKINSON, USMC, OUR DETACHMENT SKIPPER, WAS THE COMPANY COMMANDER WHEN WE ORGANIZED PRIOR TO LANDING ASHORE AT THE YOKOSUKA NAVAL AIR STATION JUST SOUTH OF YOKOHAMA.

I WAS THE FIRST OFFICER ASSIGNED TO THE DETACHMENT IN JUNE 1943 AT THE SEA SCHOOL, MARINE BARRACKS, NORFOLK NAVY YARD, PORTSMOUTH, VA. ED SULLIVAN WAS ONE OF MY FIRST MARINES. I HAD BEEN AN INSTRUCTOR - PLATOON SERGEANT AT OCS IN QUANTICO, VA, AND WAS COMMISSIONED IN MARCH OF 1943; I WAS THEN ORDERED TO VIRGINIA TO ORGANIZE AND TRAIN THE DETACHMENT FOR SEA DUTY. IT WAS A KIND OF "LOVE" JOB IN A WAY BECAUSE I SPENT MY FIRST TWO YEARS IN THE CORPS ABOARD THE BIG "E" WHICH WAS DUBBED THE GREATEST WARSHIP OF THE PACIFIC FLEET -- ADMIRAL HALSEY'S FLAGSHIP -- WHICH THE JAPS NEVER SUNK.

MARINES ARE TRAINED FOR SHIP TO SHORE MANEUVERS, LANDING, OCCUPATION, AND IN ADDITION TO NUMEROUS SHIPBOARD DUTIES INCLUDING MANNING 40MM AND 20MM GUN BATTERIES ON THE BATAAN (ON OTHER SHIPS, IT DEPENDS ON WHAT THE "GUN BOSS" ASSIGNED). ALSO INCLUDED IN THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES ARE ASSIGNMENTS AS ORDERLIES FOR THE CAPTAIN, EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AND NAVIGATION OFFICER. THESE POSTS ARE MANNED 24 HOURS EACH DAY AS ARE THE OTHER "WATCHES" ON THE SHIP. THE FIRST SERGEANT HANDLES THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS OF THE DETACHMENT, SHIP AND HEADQUARTERS MARINE CORPS RECORDS, AND SUPPLY STOREROOM. THE MARINES ARE RESPONSIBLE TO CLEAN AND MAINTAIN THEIR ASSIGNED GUNS AND TO PROVIDE A COOK AND MESSMEN FOR DUTY IN THE GALLEY.

ON THE BATAAN, WE HAD BASICALLY TWO DETACHMENTS. THE FIRST WAS FORMED IN JULY '43 AND ORDERED TO PHILADELPHIA FOR THE COMMISSIONING OF THE BATAAN AND THE FIRST TRIP TO THE PACIFIC. THE COMMANDING OFFICER WAS CAPTAIN ROBERT LEASURE, USMC. CAPTAIN LEASURE WAS PROMOTED TO MAJOR AND TRANSFERRED BEFORE THE DETACHMENT LEFT FOR THE PACIFIC. CAPTAIN WILKINSON, A FINE OFFICER WHO ALSO SERVED IN KOREA AND VIETNAM, WAS HIS REPLACEMENT. THE SECOND DETACHMENT SERVED ABOARD THE SHIP UNTIL THE WAR WAS OVER. DURING THE BATTLE OF OKINAWA, THE BATAAN WAS ONE OF ONLY TWO SHIPS IN THE ENTIRE FLEET TO SERVE FOR ALL OF THE 81 DAYS OF BATTLE
 

 

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