USS BEGOR (APD-127) ASSOCIATION
DAILY OPERATIONS 65-YEARS AGO
SALTWATER SPRAY AND BILGE WATER
THE GRAY GHOST
This is a series of articles covering the Actions of USS BEGOR (APD-127) during the period 4 August 1945 through 14 January 1946. Material for this series was taken from Begor’s War Diaries, the personal diary of shipmate Bob Feeman, Begor’s website History Page and various other websites of the time period.
These articles are dedicated to all shipmates that served onboard the Gray Ghost during her more than sixteen years of service to the United States Navy and the United States of America.
Begor and her crew were on duty around Okinawa, Ulithi, the Philippines, Guam, and Japan during the time the two Atomic Bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and also during the time the Japanese Kamikazes were making daily suicide raids on the Fleet around Okinawa. Begor was in port at the time a Japanese aerial torpedo hit the battleship Pennsylvania at Okinawa.
The Gray Ghost was lucky, escaping the numerous attacks the Japanese Navy made on the Fleet during the final days of the Pacific War. The Navy suffered her heaviest casualties of the war off Okinawa during the Spring and Summer of 1945.
Gene Combs, SK1, 1950-52
USS Begor (APD-127) Association
04 August 1945
Begor is patrolling area #14 off Mugai Channel, Ulithi after relieving USS Parker (DE-369). At 0800 reported to CTU 94.6.2 that SA Radar was inoperative. At 1319 received CTU.6.2 dispatch ordering Begor to proceed to a point bearing 290, a distance of 50 miles from Falalop Island at best possible speed to rendezvous with DE-533 and await further orders.
(Note – This assignment is believed to be orders to assist in locating USS INDIANAPOLIS in a search and rescue effort to locate any possible survivors of the Japanese torpedoing of INDIANAPOLIS.)
Proceeded to rendezvous point at 22 knots, arriving at 1600. DE-533 arrived at 1700. Received another dispatch from CTU 94.6.2 directing both vessels to proceed to longitude 133 10-E latitude 11 42N for rescue work. This dispatch was cancelled immediately and both vessels were ordered to return to picket stations.
At 1926 while at general quarters repair three reported a loud knocking in the port shaft. Engines slowed to one third. Further investigation indicated something was loose on the shaft and was striking the hull in the vicinity of the stern tube. The port shaft was locked. Notified CTU 94.6.2 of the situation and asked for a relief for this vessel at 0800 5 August so that repairs might be effected to shaft and SA Radar.
05 August 1945
Yesterday Begor, while patrolling off Mugai Channel, Ulithi was ordered to proceed to a point bearing 290, a distance of 50 miles from Falalop Island at best possible speed and once on station await further orders. A few minutes after arrival Begor was ordered to return to Ulithi and resume patrolling. I believe Begor was to participate in a search and recovery operation for survivors of USS Indianapolis which was sunk by two Japanese torpedoes on 30 July as she was steaming from
Guam to the Leyte Gulf.
Today, 5 August, Begor is dry-docked in ARD-23 in berth 412. Inspection revealed the following defects:
(a) Half of the forward rope guard on the forward part of the shaft was missing and the other half was loose.
(b) The fairwater immediately forward of the after strut bearing on the port shaft was missing.
(c) One 2” and one 1” nick in the port wheel, possibly hit the fairwater when it came off.
(d) Half of the collar aft of the after strut bearing on the starboard shaft missing.
The knocking previously reported was undoubtedly caused by the loose rope guard striking the hull at the stern tube. ARD-23 personnel commenced work to repair the shaft. Radar technicians from USS Prairie found a defective transformer in the SA Radar and took it back to the tender for rewinding. They reported it would take three days to complete.
[Note – USS Indianapolis had delivered the first operational atomic bomb to Tinian on 26 July. CINCPAC ordered Indianapolis to proceed from Guam to Leyte Gulf and join up with the battleship Idaho. Steaming unescorted, Indianapolis departed Guam making about 17 knots. At 14 minutes past midnight, on 30 July, midway between Guam and Leyte Gulf, she was hit by two or six torpedoes fired from the Japanese submarine I-58. Of the 1196 personnel onboard, about 900 made it into the water. Only about one third of them survived the five days in the water]
06 August 1945
Begor is undocked from ARD-23 at 0900 following repairs to the port shaft and is immediately assigned to picket station four, off Mugai Channel, Ulithi, relieving USS PC-811. Begor’s SA radar is still down and will not be operational for the next two days. Repair are being handled by the USS PRARIE. Meanwhile as Begor is patrolling picket station four, an important historical event is happening in Japan.
In the early morning hours of August 6, 1945 a B-29 bomber named Enola Gay took off from the island of Tinian and headed north by northwest toward Japan. The bomber piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets flew at low altitude on automatic pilot before climbing to 31,000 feet as it neared the target area. At approximately 0815 Hiroshima time the Enola Gay released “Little Boy,” its 9,700-pound uranium bomb over the city of Hiroshima.
Colonel Tibbets immediately dove away to avoid the anticipated shock wave. Forty-three seconds later, a huge explosion lit the morning sky as “Little Boy” detonated 1,900 feet above the city directly over a parade field where soldiers of the Japanese Second Army were doing calisthenics. Though already eleven and a half miles away, the Enola Gay was rocked by the blast.
War in the Pacific was winding down, but Japan still refused to surrender. Begor continued patrolling picket station four off Ulithi.
07 August 1945
Yesterday, 6 August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima resulting in the death of an estimated 80,000 Japanese. Thousands more would die during the ensuing months. Approximately 69 percent of the city’s buildings were completely destroyed.
USS BEGOR continues to patrol picket station four just off Magai Channel in Ulithi. At 1000 CTU 94.6.2 was notified that BEGOR was running low on fuel and must have a relief. Five hours later PC-811 relieved BEGOR from picket duty and BEGOR proceeded to USS HOUSATONIC (AO-35) in berth 35 for fueling. Upon completion BEGOR moved to berth 9 and anchored.
Upon anchoring, BEGOR received a dispatch from CTU 94.6.2 containing operation order 443-45 forming Task Unit 94.18.16 consisting of MUGFORD (DD-369), TALBOT (DD-390), HELM (DD-388), VAMMEN (DE-644), CLARK (DE-533) and Begor (APD-127). The Task Unit would be escorting 31 Tankers, PA’s and KA’s from Ulithi to Okinawa. CTU was ComDesDiv 10, Captain Rodman in the USS MUGFORD. The Task Unit will depart Ulithi tomorrow morning.
Today, more than 200 B-29’s flew bombing missions over Tokyo, Yahata and Kukuyama. The First Army on Luzon meets in readiness for coming invasion of Japan in November.
Three days ago, 4 August 1945, shipmate Seaman 1/c Frank Conlon was sitting at the wardroom table, taking a civil service examination for a Congressional appointment to the Naval Academy. He remembers when the ship began shaking from high speed as he was working on the examination. (Port Shaft Casualty during 22 knot run back to Ulithi). He remembers he did not win the appointment, but four years later he won a Fleet appointment to the Academy. Seaman Conlon finished his naval career and today he is a retired Captain living in Wilmington, NC.
08 August 1945
Today is Wednesday 8 August 1945 and BEGOR is underway at 0600 to sortie with Task Unit 94.18.16 and begins patrolling off Mugai Channel, Ulithi covering convoy exit. Convoy stood out at 0730, formed up and proceeded. Escort Unit consisting of six vessels will provide protection for 31 Tankers, APA’s and AKA’s in their transit to Okinawa. At 1240 BEGOR left escort position and made a depth charge attack on a submarine contact. No further contact was made and BEGOR returns to station.
On this date the Soviet Union declares itself to be at war with Japan as of midnight 9 August. What an opportunist time to join the Pacific war effort with Japan clearly defeated and hanging on the ropes. In Tokyo the Japanese Supreme War Council agrees, late that night, that they should finally accept the Potsdam Declaration if the monarchy is preserved. Objections from the Japanese military are overruled by the Emperor himself.
In Washington, President Truman makes a public radio broadcast in which he threatens Japan with destruction by atomic bombs. In the Philippine Sea the survivors of the USS INDIANAPOLIS are rescued. Only 316 of the 1169 men onboard the ship survived.
BEGOR continued as a part of the convoy escort with an ETA of 0950 Sunday 12 August at Okinawa. Surely “USS” stands for “Underway Saturday and Sunday.”
In the engine room of BEGOR is shipmate Robert Feeman, EN2. Feeman went on to complete more than 20 years active duty and retired as Chief Petty Officer. Two of his sons followed him in the Navy, serving more than 32 years between them. Robert passed away in Winter Haven, Florida and his remains were returned to the sea by the crew of USS INGERSOLL (DD-990) 70 miles southwest of Oahu, Hawaii on 29 June 1995.
09 August 1945
Today the Gray Ghost is en-route from Ulithi to Okinawa, one of six ships escorting thirty-one Oilers, APA’s and AKA’s. Speed is 15 knots. So far the voyage is routine, but at 1703 a possible submarine contact is picked up. BEGOR and HELM left the convoy and conducted operation “observant”, but further contact was not made and both ships returned to their convoy station following a thirty minute search.
Meanwhile in Japan, a second atomic bomb is exploded. At approximately 1047, “Fat Man” was detonated at an altitude of some 1,800 feet over the city of Nagasaki. Nagasaki was not the primary target city. With instructions to drop the bomb only on visual sighting, after three runs over the city of Kokura looking for a break in the clouds, a decision was made to proceed to the secondary target, Nagasaki. War in the Pacific would soon end!
On BEGOR’s bridge is 24-year old Bert Delano, QM1. Bert had enlisted in the Navy in 1943 quickly advancing to petty officer first class and had seen duty on two other ships before joining BEGOR. One of these assignments was onboard the battleship USS ALABAMA. At age 24, Bert was considered an “old salt.”
When WW2 ended, Bert left the Navy, married June Sprague and went to work at Armco Steel where he became known as an expert in the steel making industry. Bert passed away in 1999 at the age of 78.
10 August 1945
It’s Friday and BEGOR, steaming at about 15 knots, is halfway into her four-day journey from Ulithi to Okinawa. Skipper Ben Brooks and XO John Harman are on the bridge; lookouts are stationed on the port and starboard wings, binoculars in hand, scanning the air and water surface for the enemy. It’s kind of a routine day for the crew as BEGOR, part of a convoy escorting 31 ships, logs 14 - 54’north and 136 - 27.2’ east at noon. BEGOR’s duties thus far have been escorting convoys of allied ships in and out of Ulithi.
Ulithi is an insignificant three island volcanic atoll, roughly 20 miles long and 10 miles wide. The atoll is located 360 miles southwest of Guam, 850 miles east of the Philippines and 1,300 miles south of Tokyo. In March of 1945 it was anchorage to 15 battleships, 29 carriers, 23 cruisers, 106 destroyers and a train of oilers and supply ships. At its height more than 600 allied ships were assembled there in preparation for launching the invasion of Japan scheduled for November.
On this day the government of Japan announced that a message had been sent to the Allies accepting the terms of the Potsdam Declaration provided the Emperor would remain Japan’s sovereign ruler. U.S. and British battleships are bombarding the city of Kimaishe and U.S. aircraft are striking strategic targets on Honshu.
In the engine room of BEGOR is Gene Brush, F1/c from Woodhaven, New York. Gene has been in the Navy nearly two years and is a BEGOR plank owner. His family members recall Gene proudly proclaiming himself a member of the “black gang.”
Shipmate Brush returned to civilian life in November 1945, married and raised a family, and for several years was employed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard . He passed away in December 2007.
Here it is Saturday 11 August 1945 and USS BEGOR, and about 180 of our shipmates are one day out of Okinawa. ETA in Naha Bay is 0950 tomorrow. It’s 1200 and we are at 22 – 47.4’ North, 130 – 41’ East, escorting a 31-ship convoy from Ulithi to Okinawa where just a few months ago the U.S. Navy suffered their highest casualty rate in the war. The high casualty rate was attributed to the fierce and constant kamikaze attacks by Japanese pilots in their futile attempt to keep Allied forces from their homeland.
The following United States Department of State bulletin was delivered to Japan today in response to the Emperors offer of surrender yesterday:
“With regard to the Japanese Government’s message accepting the terms of the Potsdam proclamation, but containing the statement, ‘with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a sovereign ruler,’ our position is as follows:
“From the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of Allied powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate the surrender terms.”
Meanwhile on BEGOR’s “Flying Bridge” is George Masterson, Sr., Signalman First Class from Buffalo, New York. Born in 1920, George was older than most of his shipmates and considered an old salt at his job aboard BEGOR.
George left the Navy at war’s end and returned to Buffalo where he worked at Joseph Davis and Company and was a member of Steamfitters Local 395 for more than 40-years. He loved to sing and was a member of a barbershop group known as the Buffalo Bills and later with Friends of Harmony. George retired to Florida in 1990 and passed away on September 1, 2005.
We arrive in Okinawa tomorrow and experience a Japanese aerial torpedo attack on the battleship PENNSYLVANIA at Buckner Bay.
12 August 1945
It’s 0948 Sunday 12 August as BEGOR arrives at Naha Bay, Okinawa. The ship immediately escorts one column of the convoy to Ie Shima. War Correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed here on 18 April during the early days of the Okinawa invasion. BEGOR then returned to Naha Bay, refueled and anchored in northern “How” anchorage. Captain Brooks attended a convoy conference in the afternoon. Shipmate Bob Feeman, EM2 wrote in his diary that all day long U.S. planes could be observed going to and from the Japanese mainland.
The ship went to general quarters at 2105 in response to a Japanese aerial attack. Received word by TBS that the battleship PENNSYLVANIA had been hit in Buckner Bay. Secured from general quarters at 2143. General quarters would again be sounded at 0330 in the morning.
On Saipan, aircraft depart for Japan throughout the day delivering the news of their government’s surrender offer.
The 4” X 5” leaflets rained down by the millions all over Japan.
Soviet forces were advancing from near Vladivostok, penetrating the Korean peninsula from the north. Landing parties from the Soviet Pacific Fleet capture the ports at Yuki and Rashin in northern Korea. (In less than five years the U.S. would be back at war in Korea).
It’s late at night and in the ship’s galley is ship’s baker John C. Shaughnessy, CS3, probably baking bread for the crews meal tomorrow. On BEGOR it was normal for the baker to work at night when the cooks were not occupying the galley. Shaughnessy enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and was a plank owner onboard the USS (LCS-124) in Boston. The ship departed Boston while he was in the Navy hospital in Chelsea and upon his release from the hospital he was transferred to Norfolk where he joined BEGOR in April 1945. Shaughnessy now lives in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.
Tomorrow BEGOR receives orders to proceed to Guam and embark UDT-21.
13 August 1945
It’s 0330 Monday 13 August 1945 and BEGOR is at general quarters in response to a Japanese air attack. In last night’s attack at 2100, some six hours earlier, the battleship PENNSYLVANIA had been hit by an aerial torpedo so the crew is a little edgy this morning as they are rousted out of the sack at 0330 in response to an air raid.
At 0912 BEGOR forms up with three other escort vessels as Task Unit 95.5.38. The Unit will be returning to Ulithi as escort for a nine ship convoy. At 1112 she rendezvoused with the group and steams out of Naha harbor for the four-day trip back to Ulithi.
At 1500 BEGOR received ComMarianas dispatch ordering her back to Buckner Bay where she will rendezvous with USS PATTISON and proceed to Guam at 18 knots and report to AdComPhibPac Marianas on arrival. (BEGOR would not be released from the Task Unit until 2235 and her arrival in Buckner Bay would be delayed until 0700 tomorrow morning).The dispatch further states upon arrival at Guam she and PATTISON will embark UDT (this turned out to be UDT-21) and report to PD Guam for routing to Iwo Jima. Upon arrival Iwo Jima report to ComThirdFleet. We’ll then be working for admiral William “Bull” Halsey!
Meanwhile up in the radio shack is shipmate Cliff Lewis, RM3. Cliff is another plank owner, having joined the commissioning crew on 14 March in New Orleans. Like all radiomen, Cliff is one of the first to know where the ship is going and what she will be doing when she gets there. Following the war, Cliff returned to his native Baltimore where he still lives today.
Tomorrow BEGOR returns to Okinawa and begins her journey to Guam and Iwo Jima and ultimately Sagami Wan anchorage just outside Tokyo Bay.
14 August 1945
It’s 0700 Tuesday 14 August 1945 as BEGOR enters Buckner Bay, having been released from Task Unit 95.5.38 yesterday at 2235. Passing by the battleship PENNSYLVANIA on the way in it is clear the damage done by the Japanese aerial torpedo two days ago.
The torpedo hit aft on the starboard side and did extensive damage. Many compartments had been flooded and the ship settled heavily by the stern. Twenty sailors were killed and ten injured. As written in the personal diary of shipmate Bob
Feeman, flags were at half mast in honor of those killed.
While anchored in berth B-214 received dispatch forming Task Unit 95.5.67, consisting of BEGOR and PATTISON. Unit is underway at 1545 and almost immediately received change of orders substituting CAVALLARO (APD-128) for PATTISON. Our ETA in Guam is 1200 on Friday 17 August. Speed of advance is 20 knots.
Back in Tokyo, Emperor Hirohito makes a radio broadcast to the Japanese people wherein he states in part – “To our good and loyal subjects, the war has lasted for nearly four years. The enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb.
Should we continue to fight it can only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation.”
This is good news to BEGOR crewmembers, but the official announcement will not be made until tomorrow as BEGOR steams to Guam, Iwo Jima and ultimately to Sagami Wan, a large anchorage just outside Tokyo Bay.
Meanwhile down in the engineering spaces shipmate Samuel Miller, MMC is busy supervising the men charged with providing power to the two screws propelling BEGOR further into harm’s way. Sam already has lots of Navy time under his belt, but will continue to serve and retire from the Navy. Sam is also one of the 180 plank owners on board.
Following his Navy retirement, Sam went to work for the U.S. Postal service and rose to become Superintendent of Maintenance for the district of Georgia and parts of South Carolina and Florida. He lived in Atlanta for more than 52 years and passed away in September 2006.
Tomorrow BEGOR and CAVALLARO, steaming as a Task Unit toward Guam will hear the official announcement of the Japanese surrender.
15 August 1945
Today is 15 August 1945, BEGOR, steaming in company with USS PATTISON (a last minute change substituted PATTISON for CAVALLARO) is one day and probably 200 miles out of Buckner Bay, Okinawa en-route to Guam. Early in the morning BEGOR received SecNav dispatch 142301 announcing cessation of hostilities against Japan.
At 0900 Captain Brooks announced to the crew that the war with Japan had ended. The immediate result was jubilation throughout the decks of the Gray Ghost. Lookouts could be a little more laid back, the “ping jockeys” in the sonar room, as well as radarmen, could be a little more relaxed as the radar searched the air and surface around BEGOR.
Captain Brooks, who had regularly encouraged the crew to “get me a submarine,” would have to watch his dream fade away. Incidentally the crew presented the skipper a model submarine at our San Antonio reunion many years later as a token of the real one he never got.
Yesterday, two days of celebration commenced back home. Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped one of the most famous photos ever published, a shot of a sailor in full uniform kissing a nurse in the middle of Times Square.
The situation in America would begin to normalize as the American War Production Board, on this date, removed all restrictions on the production of automobiles. Production of the 1946 models could commence and citizens, with a small deposit, could have their name placed on a waiting list for a new car.
General Douglass MacArthur is appointed Supreme Allied Commander, to accept the Japanese surrender, which would take place onboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September. BEGOR will be there to observe this historic event.
Chief Radioman Carlos Watson is busy in the radio shack, supervising a very busy radio crew as traffic picks up due to this historic event. Chief Watson later received his doctorate from Indiana University. He became a teacher, school principal and a professor at Indiana State University. Carlos passed in 2001, at his home in Terre Haute, Indiana, at the age of 88.
BEGOR will be steaming for the next two days before docking at Guam where she will fill her fuel bunkers, load supplies and equipment, and embark UDT-21.
16 August 1945
Thursday 16 August 1945 finds BEGOR and PATTISON steaming along at about 16 – 54.7 North and 138 – 39.1 East (noon position), en-route from Okinawa to Guam. The churn of the sea water at BEGOR’s stern indicates speed of advance of about 20 knots.
Guam is the largest of the Marianas Islands, some 30 miles in length and 9 miles wide. It has been a United States possession since its capture from Spain in 1898; that is until the Japanese took it from us on December 11, 1941, only four days following the attack at Pearl Harbor. About a year ago, on August 8, 1944 the United States took it back from Japan following a 3-week battle.
Guam is essential to the allied effort in the Pacific due to its deep-water harbor which is suitable for our largest ships, and two airfields that are suitable for B-29 bombers. I’ll insert a little personal information about this pacific paradise since my first son was born there some nine years hence, in March 1954. I was stationed at the Navy Supply Depot on Guam from September 1952 thru June 1954 and received my CPO hat there.
Also today, Lt. General Jonathan Wainwright (captured by the Japanese at Corregidor, in the Philippines) is freed by Russian forces from a POW camp in Manchuria, China. Wainwright will participate in the surrender ceremony onboard MISSOURI, and upon his return to America will be given a hero’s welcome and promoted to General.
In Tokyo on this day the Emperor issues a decree at 1600 hours ordering all Japanese forces to cease fire. The entire Japanese Cabinet resigns.
On BEGOR’s bridge is a career sailor from Dedham, MA. Bill Bowman is a brand new CPO. As a senior quartermaster he is kept busy with navigational duties while the ship is underway.
By noon tomorrow, BEGOR should arrive in Apra Harbor, Guam and embark an Underwater Demolition that will be making history in and around Tokyo Bay in the upcoming days and weeks. BEGOR shipmates are probably thinking, “let’s get this over with and get back home.”
17 August 1945
Here it is Friday 17 August 1945. Do any of you remember what you were doing on this date? If so, please email me at email@example.com I know what our BEGOR plank owners were doing – it’s early in the morning and they are in the channel, approaching Apra Harbor on the Island of Guam. Captain Brooks is at the Conn, and his XO, John Harman, is first on the port then the starboard wing watching over events as we prepare to enter Apra Harbor.
Upon arrival, BEGOR temporally moors at IX-144 and fuels to capacity. After fueling to capacity she moors alongside other ships in the nest at berth 304. Apra Harbor with its deep blue water is a beautiful anchorage, even with remnants of war still lingering.
Later in the day a dispatch is received from CincPac modifying our latest steaming orders. Apparently we will not be stopping off at Iwo Jima en-route to Japan. We will be routed to Point “LOOK” after embarking UDT-21. (I’m not sure just where point “LOOK” is, but I’m assuming it is somewhere near Sagami Wan.) Upon arrival at Point LOOK we are to await further orders from ComThirdFleet, Admiral Halsey, the “Bull” himself. Shipmate Bob Feeman writes in his diary “Today I have three years in this Navy.”
LTJG Jerry Hoover is on the boat deck as Coxswain Bud Sigmon and engineer, “Archie” Archer, and the bow hook prepare to lower an LCVP for use while in port.
Back on Tuesday the 14th, Emperor Hirohito delivered his radio surrender broadcast to the Japanese citizenry. Today he addressed the soldiers and sailors wherein he stressed the impact of the Soviet invasion in his decision to surrender, omitting any mention of the two atomic bombs, which he had heavily stressed in his radio broadcast to the Japanese citizens just three days earlier.
Now that her fuel bunkers are full, BEGOR will spend the next two days loading supplies, and equipment, plus about 100 members of UDT-21 before departing for Japan.
Today is Saturday 18 August 1945. This should be a holiday, but the crew is busy loading supplies and UDT-21 equipment. The ship is in Apra Harbor, Guam in a nest of ships at berth 304. Ships boats are busy with the loading process. This is August, and Guam is hot and dripping with humidity, but the crew has steaming orders for the 20th and must work right through the weekend.
A note of interest – The U.S. expected to have another atomic bomb ready for use in the third week of August, with three more in September and a further three in October. The military director of the Manhattan Project indicated the next bomb should be ready for delivery by the first suitable weather after 17 or 18 August.
On another front, Joseph Stalin sent the following message to Chiang Kai Shek:
“Thank you for your greetings and for the important support you gave the Soviet Union regarding the defeat of the Japanese aggressors. The surrender of Japan, together with Germany, has terminated the second World War, and proves that humanity is indebted to the close military co-operation of the Allies for the defeat of the aggressors in the West and in the East.”
According to Japanese troop strength numbers, the Imperial Japanese Forces totaled 6,983,000 troops when the war ended. The large number of Allied ships that had been mobilizing at Ulithi for the planned invasion of Japan will soon be relocating to Sagami Wan. In two days the Gray Ghost will also be heading for that anchorage located just outside Tokyo Bay.
Back home I’m sure Henry J. Kaiser, the builder of hundreds of liberty ships, is pondering the future of his shipyards in Richmond, California and other northwest cities. He had perfected techniques at the Richmond shipyard that allowed him to build a ship every 45 days. He became world renowned when his teams built a ship in only 4 days. Do you think he might become an automobile manufacturer and produce not only a Kaiser and Frazer automobile, but a small Henry “J” that will ultimately be sold through Sears store outlets?
Meanwhile at Guam, BEGOR shipmates continue working through the weekend preparing for their future missions on the Japanese homeland.
19 August 1945
It’s Sunday morning, 19 August 1945, as BEGOR sits in a nest of ships in anchorage 304 Apra Harbor, Guam. As usual it’s hot and sticky as the crew goes about their daily chores. Shipmates will be given time off to attend church services which will be conducted on another ship in the nest. After church services the crew will return to the task at hand, loading supplies, equipment and Underwater Demolition Team Twenty One.
According to the personal diary of shipmate Bob Feeman, the team being embarked consists of 89 enlisted and 13 officer personnel. (Editor note – this seems like an excessive number of officers, so perhaps Bob made a posting error) The team will be accompanied by more than 30 tons of explosives and demolition gear. Our latest steaming orders indicate that tomorrow this vessel and APD-104 will be escorting four LST’s and one ARL to Point “LOOK.” That means our speed of advance will likely be in the single digits.
Meanwhile, washing down the boat deck with sea water are S2c Andy Bachowski from Pennsylvania, S1c Roy Bagwell from North Carolina and S1c Bob Baker from Ohio. On watch in the engine room is F1c Bill Andrews under the watchful eye of EM2 Royden Campbell who also hails from Pennsylvania. Forward, on the main deck. is gunnery officer, Ensign Claude Fuquay overseeing two gunners mates as they check out the 5” 38 gun mount.
Today, a combined military and diplomatic delegation left Japan in two specially marked “Betty” bombers. After landing at Ie Shima, near Okinawa, the envoys were flown on to General MacArthur’s Manila headquarters in a U.S. transport plane. In a series of meetings there, the Japanese received the Allies’ instructions concerning surrender arrangements and initial occupation plans.
In China, Chiang Kai-shek issues an order forbidding the Japanese to surrender to the Red Chinese. Chiang’s order is completely ignored. On the home front things are getting back to normal as Dick Powell and June Allyson are married.
At some point tomorrow, BEGOR shipmates will complete the loading activities and begin making preparations for getting underway late in the afternoon. BEGOR and PATTISON will provide escort to four LST’s and an ARL as we steam toward the Japanese homeland. Two of the LST’s will be involved in a collision which will make the trip interesting.
20 August 1945
Monday, 20 August 1945, finds BEGOR still moored at berth 304 in Apra Harbor, Guam, as loading operations continue throughout most of the day. With the latest routing orders in hand, Captain Brooks ensures his ship is ready for departure to Japan. With more than 100 additional men on board, the XO will become traffic director as he reminds them, “Up port and down starboard,” as they transit the Gray Ghost.
With those additional troops on board, space will be at a premium, the chow lines longer, and the shower and head facilities will be stretched to the maximum. The crew will tolerate these conditions willingly since they realize having the team on board is the reason for the APD’s existence. The crew and the team get along very well together.
At 1700 the special sea detail is set and BEGOR leaves the nest. The convoy is formed up consisting of BEGOR and PATTISON, four LST’s and an ARL. This transit will not be routine as we shall see in a few days. According to shipmate Bob Feeman’s diary, “our destination is some 200 miles east of Yokohama, where we will await further orders from the “Bull” himself.”
Japan still has some ships and submarines moving about the Pacific. The Japanese submarine I-14 is one of the subs still out there. She is one of a few advanced submarines the Japanese had developed late in the war. She is a large seaplane-carrying submarine of the Imperial Navy of the AM type, some 400 feet long and 40 feet high. By coincidence the I-14 was commissioned on 14 March 1945, the same day the Gray Ghost was commissioned.
The I-14 contained a hanger and a narrow runway topside, designed to launch the two or three Aichi M6A Seiran bombers carried on board. The sub will surrender to the USS BANGUST (DE-739) later this month after her commanding officer committed suicide rather than surrender the sub. Some months later the I-14 and four of her sister subs were relocated to Hawaii where they were studied by our military, then sunk off the coast of Hawaii.
Back home, rationing is beginning to end for some products. Gasoline, fuel oil and kerosene rationing ended this month as well as stoves and processed foods. Next month bicycles will come off the list and in October automobiles will no longer be rationed. Finally, in December you could buy a new tire.
is steaming toward Japan at the breakneck speed of eight knots as she observes those flat bottom LST’s, she is escorting, slapping the ocean surface like sheets flapping in the wind.
21 August 1945
Tuesday 21 August 1945, BEGOR is en-route to Sagami Wan from Guam. Steaming along at eight knots, BEGOR and PATTISON are escorting four LST’s and an ARL.
At 0300 two LST’s collide, causing considerable damage to one. The convoy is able to continue for a few hours, but at 1000 the commanding officer signals it is essential they stop and make some repairs. For eleven hours the convoy must lay to as repairs are made. Finally at 2100 the ship signals repairs are made and the convoy can proceed.
Visual means of communication between these six ships, steaming in formation, keep our signal gang on their toes. While maintaining radio silence, messages transmitted via signal lamp, semaphore flags, and flag hoist are our way of communicating with the other five ships in the convoy, and our signal gang is getting a good workout during this transit.
Shipmate Bob Feeman writes in his diary, “the convoy passed near Saipan and Tinian during the night.” Saipan and Tinian, two small islands of the Marianas, are only about 150 miles from Guam, so we certainly aren’t breaking any speed records.
The United States captured Saipan, a small but strategic piece of real estate measuring only 12 miles long and 5.6 miles wide, after a fierce 3-week battle in June-July 1944. Tinian, even smaller, was captured in the last week of July and quickly became the Pacific’s busiest airfield of the war with six runways adequate to accommodate the B-29 bombers flying to Japan on a daily basis. The two B-29 bombers, dropping the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, flew from these runways.
On this day, back on the home front, President Harry Truman signed legislation terminating the “Lend-Lease” program started by President Roosevelt in 1941. Under this program, Britain, China, Russia and a few other nations received vast amounts of war material totaling more than $759 billion in 2008 dollars. Britain will not finish repaying her debt until 2006.
In August 1945 the average price for a gallon of gasoline is about 15 cents. According to LOOK magazine, only 5,000 homes had television. Les Brown and Doris Day hit the charts with “Sentimental Journey,” and BEGOR is en-route from Guam to Sagami Wan. Tomorrow the convoy will be delayed a few more hours while additional repairs are made to the damaged LST.
22 August 1945
It’s 0800 Wednesday 22 August 1945 and BEGOR is located at 17 – 54’ north, 144 – 23’ east, steaming in formation, at about eight knots. At 0820 the skipper of the previously damaged LST signals that he needs to lay to again and make additional repairs to his ship. The convoy is dead in the water a second time for nearly five hours. At 1300, with repairs made the convoy again gets underway and sets course for Sagmi Wan.
During the day another dispatch, 220405, is received from ComThirdFleet, directing CTG 35.80 to detach one destroyer escort (later determined to be USS WEAVER (DE-741), and to rendezvous with our unit tomorrow on the 23rd. Upon arrival of the DE, this vessel and PATTISON will proceed at best speed to the southeast corner of Badger. (At this point I don’t know where Badger is located since no coordinates are indicated in our war diary.) Upon arrival at Badger, both BEGOR and PATTISON are to report to CTF 31 for duty.
On this date, USS LEVY (DE-162), was host to the first formal surrender ceremony of Japanese territory as WWII ended. Although the Japanese Empire will sign the unconditional surrender terms onboard USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay on September 2, the historic beginning of the end came aboard the LEVY in the lagoon at Mille Atoll in the Marshall Islands, as a Japanese Navy Captain signed surrender papers turning over the atoll to the Americans.
We will observe a little history being made ourselves on 29 August, as LCDR Edward Porter Clayton, commanding officer of UDT-21 accepts a surrender sword from a Japanese Major in charge of the fort at Futtu Saki, at the entrance to Tokyo Bay. (See the history page at www.ussbegor.org for a photo). We’ll cover this in more detail when we reach the 29th.
Shipmate Dick White, SO2 remains alert in the sonar shack as BM3 Walter Swain watches over the shoulder of GM3 Frank Wittman, as he carefully uncovers the five inch gun mount. The war is officially over, but the crew refuses to let their guard down.
Early tomorrow morning, BEGOR and PATTISON will be relieved from convoy duty and set course for Badger and CTF 31.
23 August 1945
It’s Thursday 23 August 1945 and BEGOR and PATTISON are escorting a convoy of five ships from Guam to Sagami Wan. For you navigators our early morning position is 20 – 47.2’ north, 143 – 43.7’ east. Late last night another ComThirdFleet message was received advising CTG 35.80 (group commander of the four LST’s being escorted) that the USS WEAVER had been recalled and would not be joining the escort group as previously ordered.
Received a third ComThirdFleet message # 230259 to ComLSTGroup 35.80 directing him to detach BEGOR and PATTISON and further directing the two ships to proceed to “Badger” and report to CTF 31. All these changes make us think that someone up the chain of command does not have their ducks properly aligned. It’s not as if the Navy is suffering from a lack of ships, having more than 6,000 in the fleet with the majority of them in the Pacific. Compare this number to the 278 ships in today’s fleet.
A later dispatch ordered the ARL to leave the convoy and return to port. No mention is made as to what port the ARL is to return to; my assumption is Guam. Shipmate Bob Feeman’s diary states, “BEGOR and PATTISON are making 20 knots toward our destination. We are joining Task Force 31, Task Group 31.9.”
In Moscow, Stalin announces that Soviet forces have occupied Manchuria, southern Sakhalin Island, as well as Shimushiru and Paramushiro in the Kurile Islands.
In the Philippines, General MacArthur orders the release of some 5,000 Filipinos interned for security reasons.
Update on USS PENNSYLVANIA – Hit by a Japanese aerial torpedo at Okinawa on 12 August she is towed by two fleet tugs to Apra Harbor, Guam, arriving on 6 September. The thirty foot hole in her hull was patched and she departed for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where millions of dollars in repairs were made to enable her to steam to Bikini Atoll in May 1946 where she became a target ship for the Atomic bomb tests.
Throughout the day BEGOR and PATTISON are steaming at 20 knots toward “Badger”, where they will join up with CTF 31. Badger is located about 200 miles east of Yokohama.
24 August 1945
Today is Friday, (definitely some sort of fish for the noon meal), 24 August 1945. BEGOR and PATTISON are steaming at 20 knots toward “Badger” a rendezvous point to meet up with CTF 31, which I believe is embarked in the battleship MISSOURI. Badger is located some 200 miles east of Yokohama.
Since being detached from CTG 35.80 yesterday, the voyage has been pretty routine, giving the crew time for general maintenance and field day. GM2 John Barone from Troy, New York has his men doing some needed maintenance on the port 40mm gun mount. Chief Electrician, Ben Bowers, has his men checking out all emergency lights in the engineering spaces.
LTJG Wallace Branham is overseeing the deck crew as they chip loose paint and apply “red lead” to some rusting spots on the boat deck. LCDR Clayton is going over some operation orders with his senior UDT personnel. Captain Brooks calls for a meeting of all officers in the wardroom. All pretty much routine underway functions.
Back home, most of the celebrating is over and families are looking forward to the return of their loved ones. All deployed ships will soon be returning to CONUS with every available space filled to capacity with returning soldiers and sailors.
Folks want to buy a new home where the average price is less than $5,000; to be able to walk into a tire store and buy a new tire for their old lizzie, or to get their name on a dealer waiting list for a new automobile while the average cost is just over a thousand dollars.
They want to see the national highway speed limit of 35 MPH disappear. They can’t wait to take down those blackout curtains and to remove those blue star service banners from their front door or window. The many gold star service banners will remain for the time being.
In the meantime the Gray Ghost and her crew are just south east of Japan and expect to rendezvous with Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet tonight around midnight.
It’s 0100, Saturday 25 August 1945, and BEGOR has finally joined up and checked in with Task Group 31.4 and has already been assigned to a screening station by ComDesDiv 106.
At 0725, BEGOR took a screening station in a column of screening units escorting CTU 31.4.3 in a special cruising disposition. BEGOR left the screening station at various times during the day to transfer and receive mail, (a very busy day for our mailman, Alzie Worthen. Alzie, a native of Longtown, Oklahoma passed away in August 2004), and to take on fuel.
At 1200, Captain T. M. Dykers came aboard from USS IOWA as CTU 31.8.5. The Task Unit is composed of BEGOR and PATTISON. At 1500 the commanding officer of UDT-18 and the XO of PATTISON arrive onboard for a conference where they will discuss upcoming employment of the unit.
It was learned that our Task Unit will have responsibility for demilitarizing shipping, surveying dock areas, and collecting a boat pool on Love Day. The Unit will also reconnoiter and clear beaches at Futtu Saki and Tateyama Wan on Love Day minus one and Love Day minus two respectively. Love Day is described as Landing Day. ComThirdFleet sets 28 August as Love Day.
UDT-21 personnel are busy constructing a sign they will leave on the beach at Futtu Saki after they have checked out the beach a couple of days prior to the Marines landing. The sign will state: “UNDERWATER DEMOLITION TEAM 21 WELCOMES THE U.S. MARINES TO JAPAN.”
For the next two days, BEGOR and her crew, as well as UDT-21 personnel, will be making final preparations for entering Sagami Wan on the 27th. Messages are arriving from ComThirdFleet around the clock, fine-tuning the upcoming landing operation. The Gray Ghost is now in “Harm’s Way” and the professional execution of her duties will be vital to the success of the upcoming mission. This will prove to be no problem as the Frogs and Gators work well together.
26 August 1945
Sunday morning 26 August 1945 finds BEGOR steaming Northwest toward Sagami Wan. Sagami Wan is a deepwater anchorage approximately 25 southwest of Tokyo. A large number of Navy ships entered Sagami Wan on 27 August, prompting numerous Navy veterans to lay claim to being the first ship to enter Tokyo Bay. The first Navy ship to enter Tokyo Bay was a minesweeper, the USS REVENGE.
Yesterday, BEGOR received a few barrels of fuel from APA-138, but today the bunkers were topped off by another APA, the USS GARRAD. With a full stomach, BEGOR continued her screening duties, but did break ranks a couple of times to receive and transfer mail. Mail is the crew’s lifeline to the folks back home even though the news was thirty to sixty days old when received.
ComThirdFleet dispatch 251724 designates “Love Day” as 30 August in lieu of 28 August. Apparently the brass is still having problems with properly aligning their ducks (ships and dates). The Task Force will now enter Sagami Wan on the 28th instead of the 27th. This might be changed back to the 27th later, so stay tuned. Received CTU 31.4.4 OpPlan 1-45, which concerns employment of the APD’s attached to CTF 31.
Meanwhile onboard the Gray Ghost, LCDR Clayton, Ensign Barry McCabe of Westport, Connecticut, and the rest of UDT-21 personnel are making a last minute check of their equipment, as well as the operation plan for landing at Futtu Saki. Check out Sea Story # 26, on our website History Page at www.ussbegor.org where Ensign McCabe describes what his team did in Tokyo Bay.
The fort at Futtu Saki is well armed, with principal responsibility for protecting the entrance to Tokyo Bay. The officer in charge of the facility is a Japanese Major.
Incidentally a few days ago when the word “Badger” came up as the point of rendezvous for BEGOR and PATTISON, I said I couldn’t tell where “Badger” was located since there were no coordinates indicated in the war diary. I now realize where “Badger” came from. The Task Force Commander is Rear Admiral Oscar Badger embarked in the USS IOWA, so apparently the rendezvous point was named for the force commander.
27 August 1945
Monday morning , 27 August 1945, and BEGOR is steaming just outside Sagami Wan as a part of Task Force 31, Rear Admiral Oscar Badger, embarked in the battleship IOWA. At 0210 the formation passed through point “PRIEST” and set course for entry into Sagami Wan,
Here’s a note from the personal diary of shipmate Bob Feeman - “Sighted land (Japan) about 1000. At about 1300 manned battle stations as we got to Sagami Wan off the coast of Yokohama at about 1530. Anchored at the foot of Fujiyama for the night. The battleships MISSOURI, IOWA, NEW MEXICO, IDAHO, and British BB’s are anchored here. Captain Dykers of Admiral Badger’s staff came onboard tonight.”
An entry in BEGOR’s war diary for the same date – At 1704 lay to off of USS GRIMES (APA-172) and received onboard two officers and two yeomen from the staff of CTU 31.8.5. At 1843 anchored in berth # 109 Miyata Wan, Japan.
Earlier in the day, the Japanese destroyer HATSUZAKURA brought out several naval officers and harbor pilots to the USS MISSOURI for a conference concerning entry of the Third Fleet into Sagami Wan and Tokyo Bay. The USS NICHOLAS (DD-449) steamed alongside HATSUZAKURA as she approached MISSOURI.
BEGOR’s signal crew on the bridge, Bill Bowman, George Masterson, and their strikers are kept busy monitoring visual signals from the assembled ships. Radiomen Carlos Watson, Bill McBride and Cliff Lewis are monitoring extremely heavy radio traffic.
On the boat deck are BM1 Bill Durney and a couple of his men checking the four landing craft that will be used in the landing at Futtu Saki. GM1 Pete Grogen and GM3 Floyd Beach are giving a final check of the machine guns that will be mounted on the LCVP’s for the landing.
28 August 1945
Today is Tuesday 28 August 1945, and BEGOR is anchored in Sagami Wan as a unit of the Third Fleet. Today’s report might be a little confusing simply because of conflicting dates the actual landing took place on Futtsu Saki Beach. Some Navy Historical websites indicate the landing was made on August 28, however I’m going to use the 29th since that’s the date that appears in our war diary, shipmate Feeman’s personal diary, as well as a diary of UDT-21 on their website.
The USS REVENGE (AM-110) was the first Allied ship to enter Tokyo Bay and their website indicates they didn’t commence sweep operations until sometime on the 28th. I cannot explain the why of the conflict with the dates, but I’m not taking UDT-21 ashore until tomorrow.
We have previously had problems with some of the Navy Historical reports, and some years back I was finally able to get them to include BEGOR among the list of ships present at the September 2nd peace signing ceremony onboard MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay. At the same time I asked them to correct the wording with the photo of LCDR Clayton accepting a sword from the Japanese Major at Futtsu Saki. Their website indicate the boats came from USS BURKE (APD-65) when the photo clearly shows APD-127 markings on the starboard bow. This correction has not been made.
Our 28 August war diary indicates BEGOR got underway at 0800 to transport CTU 31.8.5 to a conference onboard USS GRIMES, returning at 1400. Underway again at 1612 to transfer CTU 31.8.5 to USS BRAXON, returning and anchoring in berth # 109 at Miyata Wan.
On this date, received CTF 31 dispatch 281358 directing BEGOR to rendezvous with CTU 31.2 on USS ELLSON for entry into Tokyo Bay arriving off Futtsu Saki Beach at 0900 tomorrow, 29 August 1945, and on arrival to conduct beach reconnaissance as previously directed.
Shipmate Bob Feeman’s diary states “Anchored for the night, kept running lights on all night for the first time since we’ve been in the Pacific.”
Tomorrow morning UDT-21 will make their landing on the beach at Futtsu Saki
29 August 1945
Wednesday 29 August 1945 finds BEGOR moored in berth # 109 at Sagami Wan just outside Tokyo Bay. At 0747 she is underway for Futtsu Saki. At 1011 reached point “EA” in Tokyo Bay channel and at 1015 dispatched UDT-21 to survey the beaches in the vicinity of the forts on Futtsu Saki Point.
(From website of UDT-21) “On August 29, UDT effected a reconnaissance and a landing on Futtsu Saki, Tokyo Bay, Honshu. The team officially touched Japanese soil at 1030. The team became the first Navy personnel to touch the Japanese shores, preceding the Marines by a full day, as they sorrowfully realized when they saw the ‘Welcome Marines’ sign which we left for them.”
“On the same day, the commanding officer of the fort guarding the entrance to Tokyo Harbor surrendered his sword to LCDR Clayton, commanding officer of UDT-21; the sign of total defeat.”
By 1225 the operation was completed and the team reported the landing conditions on the beach to be excellent and the Japanese peaceful, as BEGOR got underway at full speed for Sagami Wan anchorage to make the necessary reports to CTU 31.4. At 1500 lay to off of USS BRAXON while LCDR Clayton made his reports to the Marine Battalion embarked. By 1809 BEGOR is anchored back in berth # 109.
Received CTF 31 dispatch 290648 designating H-Hour (troop landing) as 1000 tomorrow, 30 August. Received a second dispatch from CTG 31.8.5 ordering BEGOR to rendezvous with the BRAXON group at 0330 for entry into Tokyo Bay. By TBS the rendezvous time was later advanced one hour to 0230.
In summary the Frogs have landed on the beach of Tokyo Bay, checked out the topography of the landing area, and determined there should be no problems when the landing force of Marines and Sailors hit the beach tomorrow. Reveille will come very early in the morning for the frogs and gators of the Gray Ghost. But, they are well paid, earning on average about $50. to $100. a month for the Sailors, a little more for the CPO’s and Officers. And, oh I forgot - $4.00 a month additional for sea duty. Combat pay had not yet been invented.
30 August 1945
Here it is 0144 Thursday 30 August 1945 and the Gray Ghost is underway to rendezvous with the BRAXTON Group. Finally at 0230 we join the group, reported to CTU 31.8.5 and set course for entry into Tokyo Bay again. At 0420 we arrive at point “EA” in Tokyo Bay channel and lay to near USS BRAXTON to provide fire support as necessary.
At 0510 we dispatched two boats manned by UDT-21 to guide the landing force to the beaches. It’s exactly 0558 as the Marines hit the dirt on Futtsu Saki beach. BEGOR suffered a gyro casualty at 0615 and the commander of the task unit came onboard at 0620. We are underway again at 0631 for entry into Yokosuka Ko, using seaman’s eye. The gyro is down, but the mission goes on.
It’s 0715, daylight at last, and we moor to buoys # 2 and # 4 in Yokosuka Ko. All boats are manned by UDT-21 and dispatched to commence demilitarization of Japanese vessels and to survey the Yokosuka base dock to make sure it is safe for docking the cruiser SAN DIEGO. At 0829, BEGOR shifted to buoy # 11 to make room for SAN DIEGO to enter the dock. She became the first allied ship to dock in Japan. BEGOR was the first allied ship to enter the Yokosuka Naval Base, but that was overshadowed by the SAN DIEGO being the first to moor at a dock.
Onboard SAN DIEGO were Rear Admirals Oscar Badger and Robert Carney and Marine Brigadier General Bill Clement for the formal transfer of the Yokosuka Naval Base from Japan to the United States.
UDT-21 spent the whole day demilitarizing Japanese ships; one battleship and four destroyers and several landing craft within the harbor.
BEGOR received TBS message from CTG 31.7 (# 300830) directing BEGOR and PATTISON to make a reconnaissance of the
Tateyama beaches (located on the opposite side of Tokyo Bay) tomorrow, to be completed prior to 1400, and then to report the results to the Commanding Officer of the 4th Marine Regiment embarked in USS SIMS (APD-50).
On this day at 0600, paratroopers landed at Atsugi Naval Air Station. Shortly thereafter, General Douglas MacArthur arrived in his C-54, the “Bataan,” to accept the formal surrender (this to take place on Sept 2). The General then departed for Yokohama, his new headquarters.
Tomorrow we cross to the opposite side of Tokyo Bay where UDT-21 will survey the beaches of Tateyama and continue their demilitarization of Japanese shipping and war making facilities.
31 August 1945
Friday morning 31 August 1945 finds BEGOR anchored in berth # 11 at Yokosuka Ko. “Boats” pipes an early reveille and a few minutes later calls out, “set the special and anchor detail.” It will be another long and busy day for the crew as BEGOR gets underway at 0514.
After a breakfast of powdered eggs, bacon and cornbread, the cooks will be busy in the galley, preparing some sort of seafood (it’s Friday) along with hamburger for the noon meal. Routine wash down of topside decks is belayed as the crew becomes occupied with the day’s current events.
BEGOR joins up with PATTISON at 0526 and USS TWINING (DD-540) at 0540. SOPA is CO of TWINING, who will provide fire support during the operation. Two hours later we are anchored west of Naval Air Station Tateyama Wan. All boats are launched with UDT-21 and head toward the beach just west of the air station. During the beach reconnaissance the Frogs check out the Naval Air Station and find the Japanese to be friendly. Three hours later, with the reconnaissance complete, the team returns onboard.
Around noon LCDR Clayton departs BEGOR for USS SIMS for an onboard conference, returning at 1400. BEGOR immediately gets underway with PATTISON for return to Yokosuka Ko and anchors in berth # 11 at 1559.
Prisoners of war are being released from Japanese prison camps at a rapid pace. War correspondents report numerous prisoner stories of brutality and starvation during their imprisonment. They report that every single prisoner is suffering from malnutrition.
On the home front, rationing is still in effect for automobiles, tires, bicycles, rubber footwear and shoes, but has been lifted for a few items such as gasoline, solid fuels, stoves, and coffee. Sugar will remain on the list until sometime in 1947.
Tomorrow is Saturday and BEGOR and her crew will remain anchored in berth # 11 at Yokosuka through Sunday with no operations scheduled.
Saturday 1 September 1945 and BEGOR is swinging from buoy # 11 at Yokosuka, Japan. Captain T. M. Dykers, CTU 31.8.5 is still onboard. According to shipmate Bob Feeman’s diary “it has been raining all day.”
General MacArthur has established his headquarters in Yokohama., Not much going on in Tokyo Bay today, other than the battleships and cruisers maneuvering for a good position to observe the peace signing ceremony tomorrow onboard the USS MISSOURI. Numerous flag officers and generals will be converging on the bay today and early tomorrow morning.
will be able to observe the ceremony from her buoy # 11 position. While the brass is preparing for the big event I want to mention one of our website sea stories that relates to our stay in Tokyo Bay.
In sea story # 4, LCDR John Harman, BEGOR’s first XO and second commanding officer, speaking of Tokyo Bay wrote, “ I don’t remember us going alongside a dock at Yokosuka, but we were certainly the first ship there (it was later determined that the USS REVENGE and three other minesweepers went in before our arrival). We had quite a problem with the Navy Captain (Captain T.M. Dykers, CTU 31.8.5) onboard. He insisted that we anchor with our ship’s bow facing the bay, rather than the beach, so we could get out quickly in case there was firing from the beach.
Captain Brooks explained that the wind was from the beach and BEGOR at anchor would head into the wind, and also our best armament was the 5” 38 gun on the bow. Of course we lost the argument, so we struggled to maintain a proper heading.”
Shipmates should check our sea story page on www.ussbegor.org for some stories that relate to our stay in and around Tokyo Bay. Sea story # 14 by Jerry Hammer shows a photo (provided by Ensign Barry McCabe of UDT-21) of MISSOURI taken from our buoy # 11 location.
Tomorrow is show time as the United States and Japan sign the historic peace treaty onboard the battleship that today sits in Pearl Harbor, where the war with Japan commenced.
02 September 1945
Here it is Sunday morning 2 September 1945 and BEGOR, moored to buoy # 11 at Yokosuka Naval Base, Tokyo Bay, has a bird’s eye view of one of the 20th century’s most historical events.
It all starts in Yokohama as General Douglas MacArthur, delegates of the Allied Powers, and senior U.S. military officers boards the USS NICHOLAS (DD-449), USS BUCHANAN (DD-484) and USS TAYLOR (DD-468). The ships steam several miles out into Tokyo Bay to the USS MISSOURI (BB-63), coming alongside her port side to discharge their passengers between 0700 and 0838.
Japan’s delegates were taken to the vicinity by the USS LANSDOWNE (DD-486) and were transferred to a small boat for the final leg of their journey to the USS MISSOURI. They arrived at an embarkation ladder on the battleship’s starboard side a few minutes before the scheduled 0900 commencement of the surrender ceremonies.
After finishing his introductory statement, MacArthur directed the representatives of Japan to sign the two instruments of surrender, one each for the Allied and Japanese governments. (See attached photo taken at the signing ceremony.)
General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz signed for the United States, followed by representatives of China, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, Australia, Canada, France, The Netherlands and New Zealand. All signatures were in place by 0922. Following a few brief remarks by MacArthur, the ceremonies concluded at 0925.
Another historical event took place this same date when Ho Chi Minh announced Vietnam’s independence and officially declares the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Nine years later, BEGOR and her crew will be in Saigon participating in operation “Passage to Freedom.” Read sea story # 10 at www.ussbegor.org for shipmate Roger
Turk’s report of the operation.
Tomorrow the Gray Ghost will take on fuel, move to another anchorage and commence a boiler cleaning period. When completed, BEGOR and UDT-21 will commence several weeks of demilitarization of Japanese war making assets, including a fleet of suicide boats and 2-man submarines. (See sea story # 14 and 26)
[Note – My attempt to attach a photo of the surrender ceremony failed, however there are several photos available on the internet.]
03 September 1945
Monday 3 September 1945 finds BEGOR at berth # F 78 in Tokyo Bay. At 0800 we are underway for refueling alongside an oil tanker. Fueling complete at 1330, moored in berth E 51.
Commander Task Unit 31.8.5, Captain T.M. Dykers, departed the ship for transportation back to U.S. Task Unit is dissolved. On verbal orders from ComUDTPac, UDT-21 commanding officer reported to CTG 32.2 for duty. Ship granted boiler cleaning period which will commence tomorrow.
On this date the destroyer DUNLAP was the scene for the surrender of the Bonin Islands. The ceremony took place off Chichi Jima. LTGEN Yoshio Tachibana, the local commander who signed the surrender documents was later convicted and executed for a particularly gruesome series of war crimes perpetuated against U.S. pilots who had been captured in the area during 1944-45.
Life onboard BEGOR is becoming a little more relaxed now that the war with Japan has ended. Our sailors have something in common on their minds, and that is the desire to get back home. But first there will be a few weeks of cleaning up some unfinished business such as demilitarizing facilities in and around Tokyo Bay. Our Underwater Demolition Team must locate and destroy all two-man submarines, suicide boats, ammunition and weapons the Japanese had stored away in anticipation of an allied invasion that will now be unnecessary.
With no scheduled operations today, it gives the signal gang an opportunity to air all bunting. (flags and pennants for you non-Navy folks.) The quartermaster crew will be busy updating navigation charts recently received from ComThirdFleet. The Paymaster and SKD2 Tom O’Keefe will be holding semi-monthly “payday” on the mess decks.
Chief Cook, Peter Gauthier, tells his cooks to thaw out a few slabs of Australian beef for tomorrow. SK2 Edward Howe open’s the ship’s store for the crew to stock up on some fifty cents per carton “sea stores” cigarettes. The engineering log room yeoman will take advantage of slack time to bring all engineering logs up to date.
Sam Miller and the “black gang” will be making preparations for cleaning the boilers tomorrow, and Pharmacist Mate First Class, Bob Plagens, announces “sick call.”
Tomorrow we move to berth F 9 and commence the unpopular job of cleaning the boilers.
04 September 1945
It’s Tuesday morning 4 September 1945 and BEGOR is moored in berth E 51 in Tokyo Bay. Sometime before noon we shifted to berth F 9 and commenced cleaning boilers.
As an old storekeeper I’m not sure just what cleaning the boilers entails, but I recall many times when the word was passed that the engineers would be blowing the tubes, and very soon, soot, scale and whatever would rain down on us from the stack and mess up any newly painted topside areas. At this point I am going to challenge George Vandervoort, or any other former engineer, to explain just what cleaning the boilers involves. Let me know and I’ll include your information in a future article.
On this date, the remaining Japanese garrison on Wake Island surrendered to a detachment of the U.S. Marine Corps. In a brief ceremony, the handover of Wake was officially conducted.
Shipmate Bob Feeman’s diary has this entry – “Changed anchorage at 0800. About 10 APD’s just came from the States with Underwater Demolition Teams onboard.”
I guess we had “kangaroo steak” (Australian beef) for lunch today, from the slabs the cooks thawed yesterday. Sailors seem to always complain about the meals our cooks put out, but I thought they did a great job with what they had to work with. I made a special effort to be friends with the cooks. When coming back from liberty early in the morning, after having a little too much to drink, nothing hits the spot like a hot cup of Navy coffee and a sandwich of cold cuts. It was important to cultivate a friendship with at least one cook.
While strolling down the starboard passageway, past the supply office, you can hear the 10-bank Merchant calculator clicking away as the disbursing clerk figures the pay of a shipmate. With space in the office for only two to sit, one for the supply officer and the other for the disbursing clerk, storekeepers did their work on the mess decks between meals, or sometimes at the desk of the “jack-o-the-dust” just off the galley. They worked from the wire cage on the port side main deck when UDT was not embarked. With a team onboard, this cage belonged to the frogs.
While waiting for the boiler cleaning project to finish, here are some stateside prices in effect at this time in 1945: Minimum wage – 40 cents per hour; Postage stamps – 03 cents; Gallon of milk – 62 cents; Loaf of bread – 09 cents; Gallon of gasoline – 21 cents; Average annual salary - $2,900.
05 September 1945
It’s 0800 Wednesday 5 September 1945 and Begor is moving from berth F 9 to C 73 in Tokyo Bay, Japan. One of her two boilers is down as the black gang continue the cleaning process. George Vandervoort, engineering officer 1961-62, clued me in on the cleaning protocol. I also received an e-mail from Frank Pitt BT2, 1961-62. He and I will speak sometime in the next few days and I plan to publish, in layman’s terms, just what happens when the boiler tubes go through their periodic cleaning process. I’m interested in learning and I hope many of you are also.
Captain Brooks and LCDR Clayton checked in with the commanding officer of the USS Boston (CA-69), who is also CTU 35.7.1. Begor and UDT-21 will be working with the Boston during the next several days, but nothing further will take place today as we continue the boiler cleaning process.
On this date, Iva Toguri was arrested in Yokohama. Toguri is known to allied troops in the Pacific as “Tokyo Rose.” Actually she was an American citizen , born in Los Angeles in 1913. She sailed to Japan to visit an ailing relative in July 1941 and was stranded there when the war broke out with Japan.
She was on the Tokyo radio show called , Zero Hour, and she called herself Orphan Ann, but she quickly became identified with the moniker “Tokyo Rose”, a name that was coined by the allied soldiers. Her 1949 trial resulted in a conviction on one count. In 1974 it was discovered a key witness had lied during testimony and President Ford pardoned her in 1977. She died in 2006.
The next few days should prove interesting as we join with Boston and Pattison and UDT-21 in a search for Japanese war assets, such as two-man submarines, suicide boats, small arms and ammunition. All items located will be destroyed, but I’ve been told that a few of the suicide boats were raced around the harbor by the captors prior to being destroyed. See sea story # 13 by QMC Bill Bowmen at www.ussbegor.org for a mention of this.
06 September 1945
It’s Thursday 6 September 1945 and Begor is still in berth C-73 in Tokyo Bay, Japan. The ship’s war diary indicates completion of cleaning # 2 boiler, and since no mention is made of boiler # 1, it’s assumed it has already been completed and Begor will be ready for action when the order comes down.
Steaming orders will in fact come down tomorrow for an operation that will commence on Saturday the 8th. Task Unit 35.7.1 will be formed and will consist of Begor, the cruiser Boston, the destroyers Cogswell and Caperton, and ATF-106. Pattison (APD-104) will not be a part of this unit as was previously stated.
The war is over, at least the combat phase of the war is behind us, and it’s time to determine a system for discharging members of the armed forces.
By now the military had established a point system that would determine when a soldier/sailor would be sent home. I’m sure our crewmembers that were considered “old salts” were off in a corner somewhere figuring up when they might be allowed to return home and be discharged.
The point system worked along these lines. You would have to accumulate a minimum of 85 points based on the following: One point for each month in service; one point for each month of overseas service; five points for each combat award or battle star, and twelve points for each dependent child under the age of eighteen (a maximum of 3 children.) Based on that criteria some of our shipmates were transferred to ships heading back home. Those remaining still had an important job to do.
I have received several comments from shipmates on my boiler cleaning question of a few days ago. Yesterday, shipmate Steve Durham responded by saying, “when a boiler is fired by black oil there is a lot of soot build-up on the water tubes exposed to the open flame in a water tube boiler like the ones on Begor. And since soot is an insulator, the soot must be cleaned off for better transfer of the heat produced by the burning oil.”
Since Begor got underway and changed anchorage while the boilers were being cleaned in Tokyo Bay I wondered how that was possible, and George Vandervoort pointed out that only one boiler was being cleaned at a time, thus there was no problem in changing anchorages during the cleaning process.
Steve Durham went on to explain that blowing of the tubes is done with live, but very wet steam, which lances off the accumulation of soot on the boiler tubes and all that soot and hot water is blown up the stack. This is done frequently while steaming. That’s the procedure where the black gang gets even with the deck force by scattering “cinders” all over the deck.
Thanks guys, I’m impressed to know you are reading these articles and I have a feeling many of you would return to your job on the Gray Ghost today if she was still around. My plan is to continue these articles right up to the time John Harman takes over as skipper and Begor returns to San Diego in late October. If any shipmate would prefer not to receive these articles please let me know and I will remove your name from my address list.
07 September 1945
It’s Friday 7 September 1945 and Begor has finished the job of cleaning both boilers and she sits in berth C-73 in Tokyo Bay, Japan. Captain Brooks checks in with the skipper of USS Boston (CA-69) for a conference on an upcoming operation at Katsuura Wan. The commanding officer of Boston is CTU 35.7.1 and the Unit consists of Boston, the destroyers Cogswell and Caperton, ATF 106 and Begor.
At sometime during the day Begor receives ComThirdFleet dispatch 070615 ordering the execution of the plan to have TU 35.7.1 proceed to Katsuura Wan to locate and destroy nests of suicide boats and midget submarines. Of course UDT-21 is embarked in Begor and will do the legwork for this operation.
On this date the Japanese officially surrender Shanghai to the Allies. The Japanese had controlled Shanghai since 1937 and had slaughtered thousands of Chinese during those eight years, but today that would all end.
Captain Brooks and LCDR Clayton called a meeting of officers in the wardroom where they went over the plan for the upcoming operation at Katsuura Wan. Captain Brooks pledged Begor’s assistance and cooperation with UDT during their demilitarization operations. Among the officers present are the XO, LCDR John Harman, LTJG Jerry Hoover, Ensign Don Julian, and Ensign Bill Diedrick. Before Begor arrives home in San Diego next month, LCDR Harman will become Begor’s second commanding officer and LTJG Hoover will assume his job as XO.
Feeding nearly 300 personnel, three meals each day, has taxed the supply department to the max. The ship’s laundry is working around the clock to keep up with the needs of the crew and the frogs. The crowded conditions on the Gray Ghost sometimes results in short tempers, but overall the two different crews are pretty compatible.
The mess lines become longer and meal times are extended, requiring mess cooks to clean up after a meal and then almost immediately begin preparations for the next. Can’t you just imagine the crew working in the scullery for nearly 12-14 hours a day in the heat that has to be around 120 degrees. Enough incentive to hit the books and advance too petty officer third class.
Here it is Saturday 8 September 1945 and the Gray Ghost is still anchored in berth C-73 in Tokyo Bay. The crew is busy with a little cleanup and last minute preparations for getting underway. Our fuel bunkers are full, having topped off from an oil tanker on Monday. Today all boats are checked out and fueled in preparation for a run to the beach at Katsuura Wan tomorrow morning.
Around noon we received ComThirdFleet dispatch 080913 informing CTU 35.7.1 that no Japanese war material confiscated tomorrow will be destroyed without direct orders from ComThirdFleet. We must inform Admiral Halsey of all material confiscated and request disposition instructions.
The special sea and anchor detail is set in preparation for getting underway. Shipmate Bob Feeman’s diary has a single entry for this date – “We are underway at 1530 at a speed of 10 knots in company with the Light Cruiser, Boston, two cans and one fleet tug.” The Task Unit has an ETA at Katsuura Wan of 0630 tomorrow morning. This means an early wake up call for the crew and UDT-21 as all boats will be dispatched immediately after arrival.
What’s happening elsewhere on this date? As you might know Korea had been occupied by the Japanese since 1905. The 7th Infantry Division landed at Inchon today for the purpose of occupying South Korea while the Russians occupy the northern part of the country, above the 38th parallel. As we now know, this will eventually cause problems between the north and south and around November 1950 involve the Gray Ghost and her crew.
The Allied Supreme Commander, General Douglas MacArthur, enters Tokyo today and establishes his headquarters. He immediately issues the following order to Lt. General Robert Eichelberger. “Have our country’s flag unfurled and in the Tokyo sun let it wave in its full glory, as a symbol of hope for the oppressed and as a harbinger of victory for the right.”
Lt. General Eichelberger is commander of the 8th Army that will occupy Japan. He was previously the commander of the Australian-U.S. Advanced New Guinea Force that engaged the Japanese during the battle of New Guinea where our ship’s namesake, LTJG Fay Begor, was killed during a landing at Lae in 1943.
09 September 1945
After steaming all night it is now Sunday morning 9 September 1945 and we have arrived at Katsuura Wan. We are a part of Task Unit 35.7.1 and in company with the cruiser Boston, destroyers Cogswell and Caperton and fleet tug #106. It’s not yet daylight and shipmate Bob Feeman writes the following in his personal diary: “At 0530 we arrive at Katsuura Wan and landed UDT-21, accompanied by an Army Colonel, an Army Major and a Navy Commander that had come onboard from the USS Boston. Katsuura is one of the largest suicide boat shipyards in Japan. We are the first U.S. ship to land here. We are going to destroy 72 suicide boats. At 1900 we got underway and circled around all night because of storm warnings.”
According to Begor’s war diary, Begor arrived at Katsuura Wan and by 0630 anchored inside the harbor. UDT-21 is dispatched to carry out reconnaissance of the beaches and gun positions. The Task Unit is lying off the bay, standing by to give fire support if necessary. Due to heavy swells we got underway at 1950 and went out to sea. ComThirdFleet is notified of the suicide boats, coastal guns and small arms located and we were directed to destroy the boats and take the small arms to Yokosuka.
The Task Unit will be steaming all night due to storms in the area and will anchor in Katsuura Wan early tomorrow morning and destroy the suicide boats and collect the small arms located. The ship’s baker keeps a pot of hot coffee going through the night for watch standers and the usual night owls wandering about the decks who are not fortunate enough to have a private pot in their area. The baker even puts out a couple dozen hot rolls along with some real butter patties on one of the mess tables. Shipmates are a close knit group and look out for each other, especially when at sea or deployed.
I’ll mention the names of a few of our shipmates that are onboard. Mack Hardister, Fred Harbaugh, Earl La Rose, Roderick Ross and Sam Snook sit at one of the mess tables and talk about how they are looking forward to going home. Next to them, at another table, is a group of shipmates playing a game of poker. Others are writing a letter home as they sip their cup of hot coffee. Sea stories abound when a few of the crew get a break from their daily routine.
At another table discussing world events are shipmates Frank Whittman from New York, Carl Taylor from California, Robert Powers from Iowa, and Jim Mallory, now retired and living in Florida. A great crew.
10 September 1945
Monday morning , 10 September 1945, finds Begor anchored just outside Katsuura Wan, in company with USS Boston, USS Cogswell, USS Caperton and Fleet Tug # 106. UDT-21 is embarked. The Task Unit is underway at 0430 and anchors back inside Katsuura Wan at 0530. UDT-21, a group of volunteer Begor shipmates, and all boats are launched for return to the beach. Their mission is to collect the 72 suicide boats and destroy them.
At about the same time a team of U.S. Marines are dispatched from Boston to collect the weapons located yesterday. The weapons will be taken onboard Boston and delivered to the Yokosuka Naval Base. The Task Unit will remain at anchor overnight in Katsuura Wan. Early tomorrow morning we will make a landing at Uchiura Wan to clean out another reported nest of suicide boats.
A photo of Lt. General Robert Eichelberger, commander of the Eighth Army and of the Japanese occupation forces, appears on the cover of Time Magazine. All remaining Japanese forces in China surrender today, setting up a situation where civil war breaks out, eventually resulting in a win by the communists with the Nationalists retreating to the Island of Taiwan, a situation that still exists today.
On this date, General Johnathan Wainwright is honored at the White House by President Harry Truman, who presents him with the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Philippines. As you might remember, Wainwright was a prisoner of war of the Japanese and when released became known as “skinny Wainwright.” Wainwright was present onboard the Missouri for the peace signing ceremony and his photo attested to the weight loss he suffered at the hands of the Japanese.
Also today, President Truman, based on the recommendations of Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, and Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, declared that the just finished war would be known as World War II.
Yesterday I received a call from shipmate Frank Pitt (BT2 1961-62) and we had a pleasant talk about the Gray Ghost. Frank had lots of experience with the boilers on Begor and says he misses Begor, but not the boilers. He lives in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Frank served with former skipper, Sumner Gurney and engineering officer, George Vandervoort. I had never met Frank, but it’s always a good feeling to hear from shipmates.
11 September 1945
Today is Tuesday 11 September 1945, and we’re anchored at Katsuura Wan in Japan. Seventy-two suicide boats were destroyed yesterday by UDT-21 and Begor shipmates, and a cache of weapons was confiscated by the Marines from the USS Boston. The weapons will be taken to Yokosuka tomorrow.
Begor weighs anchor at 0525 and heads for Uchiura Bay, a distance of only 6-8 miles, where another nest of suicide boats have been located. At 0615 Begor drops anchor and lands troops for another day of boat stealing. The troops put in a long hard day and return to the ship at 1700. Rumors abound that a few of the boats were put to the test by racing them about the harbor until senior officers waved the checkered flag and put a stop to it.
Ensign Barry McCabe of UDT-21 describes the suicide boats on our website sea story page as being about 20-feet long, with wooden hulls and powered by gasoline engines. Many have American-made Gray Marine six-cylinder engines of about 70-80 horsepower. The boats did not have a reverse gear (for obvious reasons)!
Barry went on to explain that dozens of the boats were stored in caves on top of dollies that ran on railroad-type tracks, to enable the Japanese to quickly run them into the water. Explosives were to have been secured in the boats bow that would explode as the boat rammed the target ship. Each boat was designed to carry two depth charges, 260 pounds apiece, which were released by hand or on impact with their target.
With the job finished at Katsuura and Uchiura the Gray Ghost sets course for return to Tokyo Bay at about 1900, a distance of some 150 miles. Our ETA will be about sunrise tomorrow.
When the war ended, Russia and the United States agreed to divide Korea at the 38th parallel. Russia would occupy the north and the area below the 38th would be occupied and governed by the United States. So on this date General MacArthur assigned General Archibald Arnold as military governor of South Korea and assigned two Army divisions to occupation duty.
Friction between the north and south accelerated over the years and climaxed in June 1950 with the north invading the south. These events will put Begor on the cover of “All Hands” magazine in February 1951 as well as a place in the history books.
12 September 1945
Wednesday 12 September 1945 finds the USS Boston, USS Cogswell, USS Caperton, Fleet Tug # 106 and USS Begor arriving at Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay at 0700. We drop anchor in berth E-24. During the past three days, UDT-21, with the help from several Begor crewmembers, have located and destroyed more than 100 Japanese suicide boats at Katsuura and Uchiura. Nothing in particular is on the schedule for today so the crew will take advantage of the slow period and catch up with routine maintenance and some shipboard cleaning.
Boat engineers, Melvin Archer, Gene Brush, Ron Harris and Harvey Johnson will change the oil and filters and perform routine maintenance on the Gray Marine diesel engines. While they’re at it they top off the fuel tanks because they won’t be idle for long. ComThirdFleet is already at work lining up additional tasks for our frogs.
Official Japanese surrender ceremonies are still being held almost on a daily basis in different parts of the Far East. Today the Japanese surrendered Singapore to the British. This ceremony ended with the hoisting of the Union Jack flag and the playing of the national anthems of all the Allied nations.
Since our local news is scarce, let’s go to the home front where President Truman is facing economic problems. The war in Europe ended in May and the Pacific war has been over for nearly four weeks. Factories are shifting from war production back to commercial mode. Striking workers have closed down factories at Ford Motor Company, followed by General Motors, then the oil industry and the electrical industry.
Military veterans are returning home and want their old job back. Many have no job to come back to. Labor unions are striking and demanding higher wages. Finally the President ordered the government takeover of the railroads and the coal mines. The President is trying his best to hold down prices while still allowing moderate wage increases.
still has several weeks of work remaining before returning to the real world. Tomorrow morning we will weigh anchor and go alongside a tanker, and again, top off the bunkers in preparation for a busy upcoming week. After refueling, Begor will return to berth E-24 and await further orders.
13 September 1945
It’s 0800, Thursday 13 September 1945, and Begor is anchored in berth E-24 at Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay. At 0830 we’re underway to go alongside an oil tanker for refueling. It’s now 1100, refueling completed, and we’re anchored back in berth E-24.
There are no further entries in either, the ship’s war diary or Bob Feeman’s personal diary for the day. It’s assumed this was a normal routine work day on Begor. Rust forms rapidly onboard ship and I’m sure the deck force has the scrappers going, followed by an application of red lead, then a final coat of haze gray and it will look like new, for a while. Tomorrow Captain Brooks, LCDR Harman and the commanding officer of UDT-21 will met with the skipper of Boston for a conference on upcoming operations.
After more than three years as a prisoner of the Japanese, General Wainwright, in spite of his health problems made a speech today before the Commerce and Industry Association in New York City and made the following comment about his imprisonment:
“During my career I have had a good bit of foreign service, ending in an unanticipated three years, three months and eighteen days in prison camps which the Japanese made as unpleasant as they knew how, and they know a great deal about making things unpleasant. But I can tell you that all this experience has given me a deep love for my country and a profound appreciation of its blessings.”
Do any of you “old timers” remember the GI Bill designed for returning WWII veterans? It authorized educational benefits, and home loans with no money down. But another provision of the bill was what became known as the 52-20 club. Unemployed veterans could draw $20.00 a week for up to 52 weeks. I left the Navy for just under 90 days in 1946 and applied for this benefit. By the time my application was approved, I had returned to the Navy, so I never drew a cent under the GI Bill that expired in 1956.
Tomorrow Begor will rejoin Task Unit 35.7.1 and head for Ohara Wan, a distance of some 200 miles from Yokosuka to check for more Japanese war assets.
14 September 1945
Here it is Friday 14 September 1945, and Begor is anchored at berth E-24 at Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay. Another
“fish day” on the mess decks. At 1030 a conference is held on USS Boston, attended b y Captain Brooks, LCDR Harman and the commanding officer of UDT-21.
At 1500 Begor is underway in company with the cruiser Boston, destroyers Bogswell and Caperton and Fleet Tug # 106. Our destination is OHara Wan, a distance of some 200 miles from Yokosuka. Our ETA is 1000 tomorrow morning. ComThirdFleet has received information that several suicide boats might be hidden in the area.
Shipmates seem pleased that the underway drills have at least been relaxed. It gives crewmembers time to do the work of their trade without frequent interruptions by general quarters and other drills. Blackout curtains are down and running lights are displayed normal again.
What about USS Missouri since 2 Sept. ceremony? Three days later, on September 5, Admiral Halsey transferred his Flag to the battleship South Dakota, and early the next morning Missouri departed Tokyo Bay. As part of the ongoing “Operation Magic Carpet” she received homeward bound passengers at Guam, then sailed unescorted for Hawaii.
She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 20 September and flew Admiral Nimitz’s Flag on the afternoon of 28 September for a reception. On October 27, while in New York harbor, Missouri boomed out a 21-gun salute as President Truman boarded for Navy Day ceremonies.
Several Begor shipmates toured the Missouri during our annual reunion held in Seattle in September 1995. She was getting ready for a final change of command ceremony before retiring the ship, and of course we all know that Missouri is now a part of the Arizona display at Pearl Harbor.
As for Admiral Halsey himself, he was promoted to Fleet Admiral in December 1945, retired from active duty in March 1947 and passed away, at the age of 77, in August 1959. Although an aviator, Halsey was one of the last battleship Commanders. Battleships have since given away to aircraft carriers as battle group flagships.
Tomorrow the Task Unit arrives at OHara Wan. Their task is to locate and destroy suicide boats, midget submarines and military arms, but will they locate any?
It’s Saturday 15 September 1945 and the Gray Ghost has been steaming since 1500 yesterday. We’re underway as a part of Task Unit 35.7.1, en-route to OHara Wan to check out a suspected storage site for Japanese suicide boats. It’s only about 200 miles from Yokosuka and we’re steaming along at about 16 knots.
The Task Unit arrives at 1030 and Begor moves inside the harbor and anchors. Boston, Cogswell, Caperton and the fleet tug maneuver just outside the harbor to provide fire support if needed.
All boats and UDT-21 are dispatched to check out the beaches, caves and other locations. Following several hours of searching, UDT-21 returns to the ship. No suicide boats or other war material was located. Apparently the report of sightings of these items was false.
Received dispatch ordering the forming of Task Unit 35.7.12 consisting of this vessel, USS Bronson (D-668) and fleet tug # 106. The Task Unit will proceed to Miyako Shima at daylight tomorrow and search for another reported cache of suicide boats. Miyako is located about 2 hours from OHara Wan.
Meanwhile in Nagasaki, Japan the Hospital Ship USS Haven (AH-12), along with a Navy Cruiser and three other ships complete the rescue of nearly 10,000 prisoners of war.
Today, southern Florida is experiencing a powerful hurricane that reached 170 MPH, with Gusts to 195 MPH. It has wrecked havoc on the Naval Air Station at Richmond Heights, destroying hangers that stored military aircraft. A total of 183 military aircraft, 153 civilian planes, and 25 blimps were completely destroyed.
Tomorrow Task Unit 35.7.12 will move about 20 miles to Miyhako Shima to search for a cache of reported suicide boats. Begor will remain at anchor tonight, thus giving the steaming crew a break.
16 September 1945
Today is Sunday 16 September 1945 and we’re anchored at OHara Wan, Japan. Yesterday’s search for suicide boats came up empty handed. We weigh anchor this morning at 0630 for a short trip to Miyako Shima for another search.
Following a very short trip we drop anchor at 0830 just off Miyako Shima and dispatch UDT-21 to perform a reconnaissance along the beach. The destroyer Bronson and fleet tug # 106 follow UDD-21 boats up the beach. Again nothing is located so at 1600 Begor, Bronson and ATF # 106 left the anchorage for OHara Wan to rendezvous with the rest of the Task Unit. At about 1700 the regrouped Task Unit got underway for Onahama. Onahama is only about 90 miles distance, but the Unit will be steaming throughout the night.
The Japanese military are officially surrendering, throughout the Far East, on a daily basis. Today the Japanese forces in Hong Kong surrendered to the Allies. Hong Kong was occupied by Japan during World War 2, but was returned to British control today. The British retained control of Hong Kong until 1997 when China regained sovereignty.
Many a sailor has purchased suits during visits to Hong Kong and has sampled many a cold beer at the China Fleet Club. Permission of the Chinese officials is now required for one of our ships to visit the “Fragrant Harbour.”
Shipmate Jim Smith, former supply officer, wrote sea story # 57 wherein he describes a visit to Hong Kong in 1949. He mentions a young female named Mary Soo who came out to the ship and offered her flotilla of girls to keep the ships sides painted in exchange for the garbage from the general mess. The ship provided the paint and she had a deal.
Jim goes on to state that Mary’s girls picked up the garbage daily and took it ashore and sifted, washed and separated all vegetables. She took the cleaned vegetables to Wanchai, a lower class neighborhood, and sold them to the local restaurants.
Tomorrow Task Unit 35.7.1 will arrive at Onahama and drop anchor at about 0700. UDT-21 will hit pay dirt as they locate a vast amount of suicide boats, midget submarines, small arms, and ammunition.
17 September 1945
Well, here it is a new week, Monday 17 September 1945 and Begor, as a part of Task Unit 35.7.1, is underway from OHara Wan to Onahama to check for a cache of Japanese suicide boats, midget subs., and other war assets.
Begor arrives in Onahama at 0703 and drops anchor. We immediately launch all boats and UDT-21, and dispatch them to a former Japanese military installation. A detachment of U.S. Marines from the USS Boston land with the frogs to provide assistance.
According to the ship’s war diary, numerous suicide boats, midget submarines, small arms and ammunition were located. Destruction of a portion of the boats and submarines was accomplished by 1600, but the frogs would have to leave today and return to Onahama a few days later to finish the job. A typhoon was approaching , the surf was getting very rough, and the Task Unit had to get out of town. The small arms and ammunition were taken back to the USS Boston for transport to Yokosuka.
The Task Unit was ordered to leave port and return to sea to ride out a typhoon that was approaching the area. The ships will steam all night and probably tomorrow while waiting for the typhoon to pass.
You can be assured Begor is making some prize winning rolls tonight as she maneuvers to avoid the worst of the typhoon. Begor was built to roll! When modified from a destroyer escort to an APD, davits were mounted on the boat deck making the Gray Ghost top heavy, but then by adding four landing craft to this height, Begor and her sister ships could do a roll that would terminate in a shutter and a screeching noise. The crew felt many times she had reached the point of no return.
The cooks, especially, had a hard time preparing any meals during rough weather, making it mandatory that they feed us only what could be cooked in the big covered pots in the galley. The cooks became adapt at sliding around the slick decks like skaters on an ice rink.
will continue steaming for nearly 48 hours in a futile effort to avoid the typhoon. She might not return to port until the nineteenth.
18 September 1945
Today is Tuesday 18 September 1945. Yesterday, Begor, Boston, Bronson and Fleet Tug # 106 left Onahama and put to sea to ride out Typhoon Ida that clipped Japan doing some 80 MPH. At about the same time a category 4 Hurricane came ashore in south Florida making landfall at Homestead, wrecking havoc at Naval Air Station Richmond Heights.
At noon Begor is located at 35 degrees 23’North 143 degrees 54’East, and as recorded in the ship’s war diary, steaming on various courses at maximum speed, riding out the tail of a typhoon. The USS Boston and ATF # 106 are steaming in company on separate courses. This is in accordance with CTU 35.7.1 dispatch 171852.
Early this morning received CTF 35 dispatch 180433 directing this Task Unit to return to Tokyo Bay on 19 September to fuel and depart Tokyo Bay on 20 September to complete the mission at Onahama, and to conduct reconnaissance of three areas near Chosei.
No further entries were made in the war diary and it’s assumed the quartermaster, or helmsman is fighting the ocean waves in an attempt to keep the Gray Ghost on course. I’m also pretty sure the crew will be eating whatever the cooks can prepare in the large kittles in the galley.
Just a little politics of the time: The U.S. Senate Historical Minutes on this date state: In the summer of 1945, Justice Owen Roberts retired from the high court. The remaining associate justices had gained their seats as Democrat appointees of President Roosevelt. In a gesture designed to improve relations with Republicans, President Harry Truman appointed a Republican replacement.
Also on this date the future President, George Bush, is relived from active duty in the U.S. Navy as a LTJG, after flying 58 combat missions.
If the Gray Ghost makes it out of those deep water troughs tonight she will likely arrive back in Tokyo Bay tomorrow, take on fuel and make preparations for returning to Onahama to finish the job there.
19 September 1945
Wednesday 19 September 1945 and Begor has been riding the tail of a typhoon off the coast of Japan for the past two days. We rendezvoused with USS Boston and ATF-106 at 0630 this morning. The three “B’s”, Begor, Boston, Bronson and Fleet Tug # 106 will now set course for Tokyo Bay.
Early in the afternoon we sight land and at 1630 enter Tokyo Bay, go alongside a tanker and top off before anchoring in berth E-115. The crew will be checking equipment for any damage that might have occurred during our time we spent riding out typhoon Ida. The cooks will get back to the task of normal cooking and tonight the baker will be making homemade bread for tomorrow’s meal.
Captain Brooks has declared that tomorrow will be “Rope Yarn Sunday.” For the non-salts among us, Rope Yarn Sunday means, knock off all ships work at noon and pretend it’s a holiday.
Since last Saturday was the fifteenth, and would have been a normal payday, but due to the crew being busy with typhoon Ida, the past few days, the supply officer will break out his supply of cash and hold payday on the mess deck, following the evening meal. He will first go to the wardroom, where he will pay out the big money, then set up on the mess deck. There will be crap games in all hidden areas of the ship tonight. The loan sharks will be hovering nearby to collect their seven for five and their fifteen for ten.
Today, in England, the sun is beginning to set on the Union Jack, as the new Labor government makes a proposal to begin negotiations on Indian autonomy. Up until now England had the largest Navy in the world and she controlled so many countries that they had the saying “the sun never sets on the Union Jack” but this is the beginning of their descent.
Also for old time movie fans, today at the age of seventeen, Shirley Temple married Army Air Corps Sergeant John Agar. That would last until she turned 21.
Tomorrow we’ll remain at anchorage in berth E-115, take on diesel fuel at 0630 and find that ComThirdFleet has been relieved by ComFifthFleet.
20 September 1945
It’s Thursday 20 September 1945 and Begor is at anchor in berth E-115, Tokyo Bay, Japan. At 0630 diesel fuel is received onboard and all four landing craft are topped off. We will remain anchored throughout today and tonight.
Navy dispatches are flying around all day long. The first is received from Commander Task Force 35, numbered 190547, and changing our designation to Task Unit 53 from Task Unit 35. The first number indicates the fleet number, so we became a part of the Fifth Fleet and are no longer a part of the Third Fleet.
The second dispatch is from CTU 35.7.1 (In the USS Boston) changing our Task Unit to 53.7.1. These changes became effective at 0000, 20 September 1945.
The third dispatch is from ComThirdFleet, stating that ComFifthFleet has relieve him. The fourth dispatch from ComFifthFleet provides us his operation plan # 9-45. Begor is now a part of CTF 53, and known as the “Eastern Japan Force.” CTF 53 is Rear Admiral Jones in the USS Boston. Now that we are all confused we will proceed with business as usual and describe the layout of Tokyo Bay.
Tokyo Bay is a large body of water, on the east-central coast of east-central Honshu, Japan. The bay lies at the heart of the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area, with the major cities of Tokyo, Kawasaki and Yokohama situated along its northwestern and western shore.
The City of Yokosuka (Begor’s main hideout) lies along the bays southwestern end, while Chiba (the Choshi area where Begor will be working after the mission at Onahama is complete) lies along its northeastern shore.
Since we are short on interesting news for today I will briefly describe the ships Begor has been operating with. The Cruiser Boston (CAG-69) weighs in at a little more than 13,000 tons and commanded by a Captain. Rear Admiral Jones is also onboard and is CTF 53. The USS Bronson (DD-668) is a Fletcher type 2,050 ton Destroyer commanded by a Commander. The third ship is a Fleet Tug, some 205 feet long, weighing 1,240 tons (compared to Begor’s 1,450 tons) and commanded by a LT.
Tomorrow we take on provisions from an AKA and rejoin Boston and ATF-106, but will pick up a couple of new steaming partners as we head back to Onahama.
21 September 1945
Here it is Friday (fish day again) 21 September 1945 and Begor is anchored in berth E-115 at Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay. At about 0630 Begor weighs anchor and goes alongside an AKA at berth F-88 to take on provisions. Upon completion, in midmorning, we return to berth E-115 and drop anchor.
At 1400 we are underway and rendezvous with TU 53.7.1, consisting of the Cruiser Boston, Destroyers Healy and Cotton, and Fleet Tug # 106. We set course for Onahama to finish our mission of cleaning out nests of suicide boats and midget subs. Our ETA in Onahama is 0645 tomorrow morning.
Today and tonight, while steaming in formation, provides an opportunity for fine tuning the skills of the junior underway OD’s. LCDR Harman runs them through the drills as they maintain station on the USS Boston. LTJG Jerry Hoover pays close attention as he knows he will probably be relieving the XO sometime next month. The signal crew gets a good workout conversing with the various ships in the convoy.
The chief engineer requests, and is granted, permission to “blow tubes”. Crewmembers down-wind from the smoke stack take cover as ashes and debris are blown up the stack and into the wind. The chief boatswains mate has a few unkind words, and gestures, for the engineers as the soot settles on his boat deck.
Today, General MacArthur and his staff release a ten-point Press Code for the Japanese news media, requiring all news releases to be cleared by his staff prior to printing or transmitting.
In Washington, President Truman holds a cabinet meeting to discuss the idea of sharing our atomic secrets with the British and Soviets.
Mohandas Gandia and Jawaharlal Nehru issues a demand that all British troops get out of India.
Also today, Audie Murphy was released from the U.S. Army after serving three years on active duty. Murphy was the most decorated combat soldier of World War II. He received 33 awards and decorations, including the Medal of Honor, during his three years of combat in Europe. Murphy would die in a private plane crash during a business trip on May 28, 1971. He was only 46 years of age.
Tomorrow we arrive back at Onahama where several suicide boats and midget submarines will be destroyed, after which the Task Unit will steam to the Choshi area and do the same thing.
It’s early in the morning on Saturday 22 September 1945 and Begor and Task Unit 53.7.1, steaming since yesterday at 1400, are en-route to Onahama. We had been there earlier in the week, but were ordered to terminate our mission and return to sea to ride out a typhoon.
At 0645 Begor anchors off the breakwater at Onahama. UDT-21 is dispatched to the beach accompanied by a Marine detachment and a working party from USS Boston. They will destroy previously located suicide boats and midget submarines. At 1730, with the work completed they return to the ship and the Task Unit immediately gets underway and sets course for Choshi.
Choshi is located on the Pacific Ocean coast of Chiba Prefecture. It is the easternmost city in the Tokyo Bay area. We have been advised there are more than one hundred suicide boats and more than one thousand mines located there. We will again be steaming overnight and expect to arrive at Choshi a little after daybreak tomorrow.
Today in South Vietnam, 1,400 French soldiers were released by the British from prison camps and they immediately entered Saigon and went on a deadly rampage, attacking Viet Minh and killing innocent people. In North Vietnam, 150,000 rampaging Chinese Nationalist soldiers, consisting mainly of poor peasants, began looting Vietnam villages during their entire march down from China.
This week, in occupied Korea, Kim iI-sung arrived at Wonsan onboard a Soviet warship and begins to organize the Workers Party of Korea. Following his death in 1994, he was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-il. We are still contending with this flawed communist leader today.
In Tokyo, Japanese Emperor Hirohito says that he did not want the war with the United States and blames Tojo for the attack on Pearl Harbor. In New York, elevator operators of some 2,000 buildings in Manhattan go on strike.
In Washington, President Truman announces that, under a decision made at the recent Potsdam Conference, the surviving German naval vessels will be divided equally between the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. No decision has been made on the disposal of the remaining Japanese Fleet.
Begor expects to arrive off the coast of Shoshi around 0730 tomorrow morning. Due to the large number of suicide boats reportedly stored there it’s likely we will be there for at least two days.
23 September 1945
It’s Sunday, 23 September 1945, as Begor arrives in the port of Choshi at 0630. It has been reported that a large nest of Japanese suicide boats and other war assets have been located there.
At 0750, UDT-21 personnel, accompanied by the Task Unit Commander’s representatives and a covering force of Marines from USS Boston, commenced reconnaissance of the Choshi area.
Ships in the Task Unit take assigned stations to afford fire support should it be necessary. Reconnaissance revealed 103 suicide boats in caves and a few small arms ammunition dumps. This was reported to CTF 53 with the recommendation that the boats be burned in place and the ammunition dumped at sea.
As recorded in the personal diary of shipmate Bob Feeman, 1,000 mines (assumed to be land mines) were also located. The Task Unit stayed at anchor overnight with boat patrols on station for security. No action can be taken on the located items until tomorrow.
Information is slowly making the rounds on the mess deck (probably leaked by one of our radiomen) that Begor will be ordered to return Stateside within a week or ten days. Prior to departure about 50 low point shipmates will be transferred to other vessels and high point personnel from other units will board Begor for the ride home. This mission at Choshi could be the final one before Begor will commence that long journey home, via Guam.
Back home on this date, Jimmy Stewart’s photo appears on the cover of LIFE Magazine. Others that have appeared recently are George Patton, Audie Murphy, Douglas MacArthur, and my long time heart throb, June Allyson.
Striking labor unions are slowing the process of industry returning to peacetime production. The auto union demands a 30 percent across the board increase in wages, with a stipulation that the costs not be added to the retail price of the automobile.
Tomorrow will be a busy day as permission is granted to burn the more than 100 suicide boats. Following their destruction, Begor and TU 53.7.1 will be heading back to Tokyo Bay.
24 September 1945
This Monday morning, 24 September 1945, finds the Gray Ghost at anchor in Choshi, Japan, a small town on the shores of northeastern Tokyo Bay. We had been alerted that a nest of suicide boats were stored in caves at Choshi, so yesterday crews were dispatched to verify their existence. The boats were located and CTU 53 was notified that there were in excess of one hundred boats hidden away in caves. Begor will remain at anchor overnight as CTU 53 awaits demolition instructions from ComFifthFleet.
At 0700 this morning we received authorization to destroy the boats. UDT-21 is dispatched to the beach and begins burning the boats in place. The small arms ammunition was brought back to the USS Boston for disposal at sea. The detonators were removed from the mines and the mines were left for the Army to destroy.
All demilitarization tasks assigned to the Task Unit have been completed. The crew returns to the ship by 1645 and at 1729 we set course for our return to Tokyo Bay. Our ETA is set for 0730 tomorrow morning.
Rumors abound that we are not long for WestPac. There is jubilation throughout the Gray Ghost as we steam toward berth E-115 in Tokyo Bay. Shipmates with low points are aware they will not be going back home with the ship. The high pointers are ten feet tall tonight as they begin making plans for the return trip.
Captain Brooks is on the lookout for a set of relief orders and he’s pretty sure his relief will be the XO, LCDR John Harman. Based strictly on seniority, LTJG Jerry Hoover will probably be moving into the XO spot. Later we will see how this plays out.
Most shipmates just want orders releasing them from active duty and have no desire to be transferred elsewhere. Most will be granted their wishes within the next six weeks. The war is over and they know they have done their duty and it’s time to go home.
In China this week, American Marines of the U.S. Third Amphibious Corps start landing at Tientsin, in the north, to commence disarming some 630,000 Japanese troops in the country.
Begor, steaming along at 20 knots, is heading back to Tokyo Bay having completed what will probably be her final work of demilitarization in Japan.
25 September 1945
It’s 0745, Tuesday 25 September 1945 and the Gray Ghost is easing alongside USS Pattison (APD-104) in berth E-87 in Tokyo Bay, Japan. At about 1030 Begor refuels from a tanker and returns to berth E-87.
We have been advised we have completed our missions in Tokyo Bay, however USS Pattison has one more demilitarization job ahead of them before she can join the homeward bound fleet. When their job is completed we will accompany Pattison back to the States. Received CTF 53 dispatch 250801 dissolving Task Unit 53.7.1. Crewmembers begin preparing Begor for return to the States. Only five more days and we will fly the homeward bound pennant. They might even allow us to hoist the “clean sweep” broom.
I guess all Begor shipmates remember operation “Magic Carpet” that ran from about May 1945 through September 1946. We had troops scattered all over Europe and the Pacific, and now that the war had ended we had to get those troops, some eight million of them, back home. At the time we lacked air transport capacity necessary to get our troops home, so it was up to the large number of ships, both Navy and commercial, to do the job. General George Marshall announced a program called “Magic Carpet” and provided instructions on how to get these men home ASAP.
Between May and September 1945, more than a million and a half troops had been repatriated, nearly all from the European theater. From October 1945 and April 1946 another 3,323,395 had been brought home. Every ship returning to CONUS was filled to capacity with troops. Returning ships in the Pacific would island hop gathering up troops that filled every available space.
Even after the Gray Ghost returned to San Diego in October she was still dispatched to Johnson Island and Pearl Harbor, as well as between west coast cities picking up troops and delivering them an area where they could discharged. This was called operation “Magic Carpet.
For the present Begor will remain in port in Tokyo Bay as she makes preparations for the trip back home which by now is scheduled to begin on 30 September.
26 September 1945
Wednesday 26 September 1945 finds Begor moored in berth E-87 in Tokyo Bay. She is tethered to the USS Pattison (APD-104). There’s not much going on today other than preparing the ship for the long journey home on the 30th. Since we have made Yokosuka our home for the last few weeks, I’ll describe the city where thousands of sailors have enjoyed spending liberties over the years since 1945, and the large naval facility located there.
During World War II, Yokosuka was bombed on April 18, 1942 during the B-25 Doolittle raid. Aside from minor sporadic tactical raids by naval aircraft, it was not bombed again. During the period from 1938 to 1945 more than 250 caves in more than 20 separate tunnel/cave networks were built throughout the area, with at least 27 kilometers of known tunnels within the grounds of Yokosuka Naval Base.
During the war, these tunnels and caves provided areas in which work could be done in secrecy, safe from air attacks. A 500 bed hospital, a large electrical power generating facility, and a midget submarine factory were among the facilities built. As most of you know, on August 29, the Americans landed there and the naval base has been used by the U.S. Navy since that time. We have a nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Washington, and other supporting vessels home ported there.
The population of the city is just under a half million. The Japanese battleship Mikasa, flagship of Admiral Tojo at the Battle of Tsushima in 1905, is preserved on dry land at Yokosuka. The battleship, constructed in Britain, is more than 100 years old. The ship, a museum, complete with actors dressed like members of the original crew, is open to visitors.
During the next few days Begor shipmates will be busy preparing the ship for return to the States. I’m sure the deck division will want to spread some haze gray over the rough spots so we will look good as we approach the beautiful city of
San Diego and moor at buoy # 40.
27 September 1945
It’s Thursday morning 27 September 1945 and Begor is in berth E-114, alongside USS Pattison (APD-104) in Tokyo Bay. This will be another day of making preparations for the Gray Ghost to become a part of “Magic Carpet” and set course back to San Diego, via Guam, Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor. We will be required to transfer all low point shipmates off the ship and embark high point military from other units. Our sister ship, USS Pattison, has one final mission prior to departure for CONUS, so she got underway at 0700 this morning to complete that mission.
A little history on the Pattison. She was commissioned on 27 February 1945 (just two weeks ahead of Begor). We first joined up with her at Guam on 17 August as she embarked UDT-18. Begor embarked UDT-21 on the same day. The ships steamed to Sagami Wan together, arriving on 27 August.
Begor entered Tokyo Bay on 29 August and landed UDT-21. The next day Pattison landed UDT-18 along with the regular invasion forces. Begor and Pattison made several beach reconnaissance landings during September 1945. The ships will be returning to the States together, leaving Tokyo Bay on September 30, arriving in San Diego on 22 October.
Pattison was decommissioned in March 1946, with just one year in service, while Begor was decommissioned for the final time in July 1962, following nearly 16 years in service. Pattison is practically a forgotten APD, while Begor has had worldwide and Navy notoriety due to her service in Tokyo Bay in 1945 (landing the first troops), Korea (Hungnam port destruction and photo) in 1950, and operation Passage to Freedom in 1954 (Dr. Thom Dooley at Hai Phong).
Meanwhile in Japan, today was the first meeting between General MacArthur and the Japanese Emperor at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
The crew of the Gray Ghost will continue preparing the ship for the homeward bound journey. Tomorrow another storm blows up and several nearby ships will drag anchor.
28 September 1945
Friday, 28 September 1945 finds Begor moored in berth E-114 in Tokyo Bay. The USS Pattison is on her final mission in Tokyo Bay and should return sometime today.
Early in the morning a storm blew up without previous warning. By 0300 several ships were dragging anchor. AV-17 barely missed this vessel. At 0345 our anchor broke ground. Steam had been up to the throttle all night so we heaved in the anchor and steamed to a new anchorage well clear of all ships. We are riding out the storm with 90 fathoms of chain to the starboard anchor and 30 fathoms to the port anchor.
At 1430 USS Pattison stood in, her job completed. At 1600 we shifted back to berth E-114 alongside Pattison. Both Begor and Pattison have now completed their work in Tokyo Bay and will continue to concentrate on preparations for the voyage back home.
Victory Mail During World War II - Most of our World War II veterans will remember the light weight V-Mail used during the war. It used a standardized light weight paper 7” X 9 1/8” with a glue flange on one side so the letter could be folded and sealed in such a way as to become its own envelope.
According to the National Postal Museum, “V-mail” ensured that thousands of tons of shipping space could be reserved for war materials. The 37 bags required to carry 150,000 one-page letters could be replaced by a single mail sack. The weight of that same amount of mail was reduced dramatically from 2,575 pounds to a mere 45 pounds.
Homeward Bound Pennant - It has been a custom of ships returning from long overseas deployment to fly an extra long commission pennant made up of whatever bunting could be assembled. Display of the homeward bound pennant is limited to ships that have been outside the United States continuously for 270 or more days. Apparently the Gray Ghost does not qualify.
Clean Sweep - A “clean sweep” for a naval vessel refers to having “swept the enemy from the seas.” It is traditionally indicated by hanging a broom from the mast. Again, I doubt Begor would qualify. We’ll have to be satisfied by hanging a foxtail from the mast.
Tomorrow we should be transferring some fifty of our low point shipmates to other ships and replacing them with high point personnel from other units. That will be fifty disappointed shipmates.
Saturday 29 September 1945 finds Begor and Pattison moored in berth E-114 in Tokyo Bay. This will be our final day in Tokyo Bay, an area we first entered on 29 August. Sometime tomorrow both ships will weigh anchor, rinse the Tokyo Bay mud from the anchor and chain as it slowly drops into the chain locker below. The next step will be to set course for Guam.
We just received CTF 53 dispatch 281240 forming Task Unit 53.6.10, composed of Pattison and this vessel, both with Underwater Demolitions embarked. Task Unit Commander will be LCDR Bennett in Pattison.
This Task Unit will proceed to Guam about 30 September and report to AdComPhibPac Marianas on arrival. The Task Unit will be dissolved upon arrival in Apra Harbor. This will be about a four-day voyage at sixteen knots. Captain Brooks reported to Port Director, Yokosuka and obtained onward routing.
The following article appeared in a September 1945 edition of TIME Magazine:
“At Manila, Japanese emissaries confirmed an Office of Naval Intelligence report that stated at war’s end the Japanese Navy had been literally blown out of the seas. Of twelve battleships, only the heavily damaged Nagato was left. Of 21 carriers, four derelicts remained. Four cruisers of 43 were still afloat, but abandoned. Twenty-six destroyers of 165 and sixteen of 140 submarines were about all that was left of the Imperial Fleet.”
Shipmates recall observing the surviving battleship, the Nagato, in Yokosuka. I believe the United States had a fleet of about 6,000 ships at war’s end. All that American production capacity will be cut to the bone and unemployment will quickly become a problem on the home front.
The Office of Price Administration announced today that with civilian meat supplies rapidly increasing, effective Sunday 1 October, one-third of all meats will be taken off the ration list. Chief items will be the lower grades of beef, veal and lamb, hamburger, sausage and luncheon meats. Pork will remain on the rationed list for the time being.
Tomorrow is Sunday and it will be “get out of Dodge” day for the Gray Ghost. We will leave fifty of our shipmates behind.
30 September – 16 October 1945
[A special note to Shipmates - Beginning tomorrow, I will be taking a much needed break from writing this series. We have been reading of the daily activities of the Gray Ghost beginning with 4 August 1945, two days prior to dropping the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Today, I will combine the period 30 September through 16 October and will return to my duties on 17 October. In the meantime those of you who will be attending our annual reunion, enjoy the experience. Those not able to attend can use the time to review our website at www.ussbegor.org This is to acknowledge the great amount of work put into the website by Stu Huntington, Website Development Leader and Bob Lawrence, our Webmaster.]
Today we transferred fifty low point shipmates in accordance with ComFifthFleet instructions. At 1300, on Sunday 30 September we’re underway from Tokyo Bay, Japan to the United States, via Guam,
Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor, in company with USS Pattison (APD-104), with UDT-18 and UDT-21 embarked. All available space is filled with passengers.
On 4 October at 1115 we arrive in Apra Harbor, Guam and moor in a nest in berth 305. High swells made the nest a menace as all ships are riding badly. During the night several vessels, including an aircraft carrier broke loose from their moorings. The next day we moored alongside USS Hollis (APD-86 and topped off our fuel bunkers.
The hull of Begor was pretty well dented due to the surging in berth 305, but no frames were damaged. During the day we transferred some passengers and embarked fifty three enlisted passengers. At 1515 we stood out of Apra Harbor, en-route to Eniwetok. At 1700 the USS Blessman (APD-48), with ComUDTRon embarked, joined up and proceeded in company.
On October 8 at 0922 we arrive at Eniwetok, take on fuel and at 1730 are underway again for Pearl Harbor. The ships held various tactical maneuvers and drill during the following days.
Meanwhile back in Okinawa, typhoon Louise is brewing. Twelve Navy ships were sunk and at least 222 were grounded. Lucky for us we are out of the area and steaming just off Eniwetok on our way to Pearl Harbor.
On the 10th we cross the international date line, churning up the water at 18 knots. Wow, only four days out of Pearl.
On the 14th we pull into Pearl Harbor, wasting no time in taking care of Magic Carpet business, transferring passengers and taking on thirty enlisted personnel and six officers for transport to the States. The following day at 1700 our three ship convoy is underway to San Diego. We’re now in the home stretch.
The next day, the radio shack makes an announcement! Detachment orders are received for Captain Brooks. A well respected commanding officer will be relieved and another well respected officer will be his relief. LCDR John Harman will take over the Gray Ghost. The change of command will take place at sea, while underway. We will cover this later around the 22nd.
17-21 October 1945
[I’m back onboard with the 65 years ago Begor series. The war diaries ended at the close of October 1945, and since the basic information for the series was lifted from the war diaries, this will be the next to final report. Look for the final report sometime this upcoming week. I hope you have enjoyed reading the report of the Gray Ghost and her operations during, and immediately following, World War 2]
On Wednesday 17 October 1945 Begor is steaming from Pearl Harbor en-route to San Diego, in company with USS Pattison and USS Blessman, approximately four days out of San Diego. The crew is making use of some of the lower ranking enlisted passengers to clean the ship for her arrival in San Diego.
Thursday and Friday, 18 and 19 October, the Gray Ghost is still steaming at about 16 knots. The fuel gauge shows we are burning black oil at a pretty good rate. At 15 knots our range is only 3,700 miles, but have no fear there is plenty in reserve. The ole gal carries 589 tons of that black gold. This magic carpet is making good time. Although the ship is crowded, every effort is being made to have a clean ship upon arrival in San Diego.
Promptly at 1000 on Saturday 20 October there is a change of command ceremony as we continue to churn the sea water of the Pacific, in our quest to get home. Captain Benjamin Brooks has been relieved by LCDR John Harman who will now be addressed as Captain Harman. It was never revealed who slept in the captain’s cabin that final night at sea, but it would be my guess that Captain Brooks remained the occupant.
comes home, arriving in San Diego at 1500 on Sunday the 21st. She moored to a dock, but I was never able to determine if we docked at the foot of Broadway at the PhiBbase. At any rate all passengers were offloaded within an hour and Begor moved to her permanent mooring at buoy # 40 that evening.
This week, a flight of 101 Navy fighter planes and torpedo bombers drummed thunderously above New York City’s skyscrapers in preparation for Navy Day and a Presidential review on the 27th. Most planes came from the USS Enterprise and the USS Batann which were among the ten major ships arriving to take part in the big Navy Day celebration.
All is not peaches and cream, however, as 42,000 petroleum workers, 200,000 coal miners, 44,000 lumber workers, 70,000 teamsters and 40,000 machinists are on strike. Veterans returning to the job market, and the termination of war material contracts are playing havoc with the economy on the home front.
22 October 1945 – January 14, 1946
[Shipmates, this is the final report on “Begor 65 Years Ago” covering operations during and immediately following termination of WW2. Begor’s War Diaries will end on 31 October 1945. I have War Diaries covering November 1950 through April 1951, a period Begor was busy at Hungnam as well as landing Guerillas behind enemy lines in North Korea. If a sufficient number of you are interested in reading reports of that period please let me know by replying to this email and I will begin work on them beginning with our departure from San Diego on 13 November 1950. These reports require time consuming research and if we don’t have sufficient interest I will not be working on them, so let me know if are interested.]
On Monday 22 October, Begor is moored to buoy # 40 in San Diego after arriving home yesterday. At 1316 on the 23rd we are underway for Mole Pier at the San Diego Naval Repair Base to unload boxed UDT ammunition and explosives. When the Commandant was notified of the 30 tons of unboxed tetratol still onboard, he ordered us to dump it in the dumping area before coming into the yard, so we returned to Buoy # 40 at 1641.
On Wednesday the 24th we are underway again with USS Blessman (APD-48) en-route to the ammunition dumping area. Dumping was complete at 1500 and we moored outside Blessman at the Naval Repair Base. At the arrival conference Begor was assigned availability until 2400 6 November.
On Friday the 26th we make all preparations for Navy Day. On Navy Day, Saturday the 27th the war diary indicates “Ready and waiting for visitors, but only three arrived. Probably due to the distance from the main gate to our mooring.”
Sunday, the 28th, received orders from CinCPac to proceed to Manila when ready for sea. (These orders were later rescinded). Repair work is proceeding on schedule and our availability period is changed to 5 November. The final entry in the war diary is dated 31 October 1945 and states “Moored as before (San Diego Naval Repair Base) repair force continuing a fine job.”
The personal diary of shipmate Bob Feeman reports that Begor is underway at 0800, 9 November for Pearl Harbor with a load of passengers, arriving at 1600 on the 15th. Underway again on 17 November for Johnson Island to pick up passengers, arriving on the 19th. Departed Johnson Island on the 21st with a load of CB’s. Arrived back in Pearl Harbor on the 23rd, loaded additional passengers and underway to San Francisco on the 24th, arriving on December 1st at 1000 and remaining there until the 11th.
On December 11, underway to San Diego with 170 passengers. Strut bearing on port shaft broke and Begor continued on one shaft to San Diego, arriving on the 13th. Begor is in dry dock at the San Diego Destroyer Base from the 15th to the 17th. Made runs with passengers to San Pedro December 18 and returned to San Diego on the 21st. Moored at Broadway Pier from the 21st to the 27th. During the period 27 December through January 14, Begor is transporting troops between San Diego and San Pedro. On January 4, shipmate Feeman is transferred from USS Begor