Thursday, February 11, 1943:
Left Philadelphia by train for U.S. Navy receiving ship, Pier 92, New York City for Fleet assignment.
Friday, February 12, 1943:
Reported aboard the USS Keokuk, CM 8, (minelayer) berthed in the Bethelehem Shipbuilding Company yards in Hoboken, NJ. The Keokuk was an ex-railroad train ferry, built in 1916, one of three which operated between Key West, Florida and Havanna, Cuba. She wasn't a small ship, measuring 360 feet long and 57 feet wide with a speed of 13 knots. She was commissioned in Hoboken as a Navy minelayer on February 28, 1942, almost a year ago. The crew was mainly regular Navy, which did not bode well for the new Naval Reservists now coming aboard.
The shipyard was in the process of removing existing mine rails and switches previously installed on the original railroad deck, and converting it to a smooth metal floor in order to facilitate the laying of half-mile long panels of anti-submarine nets. (NOTE: Based on bitter experience in previous troop landings in North Africa, wherein enemy submarines would torpedo troop ships near a landing beach, the idea was to lay a protective barrier of nets paralleling the shore behind which the landings could safely take place.
Date unknown. The Keokuk proceeded through New York's Hellgate to Long Island Sound and continued on to the Melville, RI area for experimental work as a net layer.
Date unknown. The Keokuk arrived back in Hoboken for conversion back to a mine layer.
Wednesday, April 7 to Sunday, April 11, 1943:
EM 3/C Lassiter gave me his 36-hour liberty and together with my 36-hours gave me enough time for a generous three day leave. Mary and I were married in Saint Martin of Tours Church, Philadelphia, on April 9th and spent a short honeymoon in New York City. Stayed at the Hotel New Yorker, near Pennsylvania Station, Room 2468. Saw a neat Ice Show followed by Benny Goodman and his band. Gene Krupa, premier drummer, played one of his first solo's following his release from prison.
Date unknown. The Keokuk proceeded to Yorktown.
Wednesday, May 5, 1943:
Shore patrol in Yorktown. Shore patrol at Yorktown consisted of riding the Yorktown-Glouster Point ferry back and forth in the event a service man acted up.
Date unknown. Keokuk proceeded to Portsmouth, VA for a yard period. One of the many improvements was the addition of many 20 MM gun mounts all over the superstructure and a pair of twin-mount 40 MM guns above the fantail.
Friday, May 28, 1943: Shore patrol at Portsmouth, VA.
Date unknown. Keokuk went to Yorktown to pick up our complement of 1,020 mines.
Friday, June 4, 1943:
Shore Patrol at Yorktown, VA.
Date unknown. Keokuk left Yorktown for New York City. On the way, steamed up the Chesapeake Bay and stopped at Annapolis to pick up a large group of Navy plebes to haul them to Baltimore for liberty. Captain Brennan really impressed the locals with his seamanship, taking the KEOKUK right in to the Academy grounds with inches to spare under the keel. Had no assistance from tugs. Arriving at the Pratt Street docks in Baltimore, Captain Brennan declared weekend liberty for all hands, leaving a skeleton crew for security. I went home to Philly by train. Upon arriving back at the ship Monday morning, I learned that the crew of the Keokuk made quite a name for themselves in Baltimore. The Shore Patrol was very familiar with the location of the Mighty K. After the removal of several female overnighters we continued for New York via the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, down the Delaware Bay, out through the breakwater, then up the coast to New York.
Date unknown. Arrived Bush Terminal, Brooklyn, New York.
NOTE: While on the Keokuk, I kept some rough notes of where we were and what we were doing from February 12, 1943 to June 12, 1943. (These are the basis of the foregoing items.) Starting June 13, 1943 I kept a daily diary (forbidden) of our trip to the Allied invasion of Sicily and back to the States (where the Keokuk was permanently converted to an anti-submarine net layer) then on through the Panama Canal where I was transferred on January 9, 1944 in Hawaii.
Following is a copy of the Keokuk diary. Items enclosed with [------] are clarifying items, comments and updates inserted when preparing this document
Sunday, 6-13-43 0410 [hours]: left Brooklyn for Gibralter. Spent most of first day forming into a convoy. There are 8 destroyers escorting us [onthe perimeter]. The convoy is composed of 72 ships in 12 columns, 6 ships in a column. We are #4 in Column 6.
1600-1800: [Generator] Watch [below decks in the forward engine room]. NOTE: Every day while underway we have General Quarters [GQ] (Battle Stations) for one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset [as a precaution against enemy submarines].
Monday, 6-14-43, 1200-1600: Watch. General course SE. Plenty [of] patrol planes and a blimp for [additional] escorts. Sea is pretty rough.
Tuesday, 6-15-43, 0800-1200: Watch. [Coming topside] discovered that an aircraft carrier [baby flat top converted from a large oil tanker] plus 3 cans [destroyers] joined us. The carrier occupied the space between us and the next column to our port side. She puts planes in the air during morning and evening GQ's. The destroyers joined the others on the perimeter of the convoy. [My] GQ station was changed to Forward Repair Party [topside].
Wednesday, 6-16-43, 0400-0800: Watch. Smooth sailing, same course. Started to make a hunting knife for abandon[ing] ship.
Thursday, 6-17 43, 0000-0400, 2000-2400: Watch. Good weather. Set clocks ahead one hour.
Friday, 6-18-43, 1800-2000: Watch. Nothing new.
Saturday, 6-19-43, 1000: Captain's Inspection. 1600-1800: Watch.
Sunday, 6-20-43, 1200-1600; Watch. Holiday Routine. Fried chicken and pie-a-la-mode. Same course & good weather. Heard we missed a submarine pack. Set clocks ahead one hour. Trip getting monotonous.
Monday, 6-21-43, 0800-1200: Watch. We are now #2 in Column 6, having exchanged positions [with another ship]. Weather & course same.
Tuesday, 6-22-43, 0400-0800: Watch. 10th day out. 1640: Carrier is right beside us. A plane, in a quick take off, crashed into [the] sea in front of the carrier. Pilot was lost when [the] carrier ran over [the] plane. Something's up. 1650: [the] #2 ship in Column 10 was torpedoed and sank in 3 minutes. I had just gotten in the evening chow line, talkabout the plane, when, looking out of an open porthole, I saw two big splashes against the bow of a nearby merchantman and seconds later, heard two big bangs. The stricken ship continued ahead as our GQ sounded. Later in Forward Repair we watched as the bow dropped lower and lower in the water until finally, behind the convoy, the ship nosed down and standing vertically with her propeller still turning, slid under the waves. 1650-1815: GQ. [We heard] that a can picked up 12 survivors so far. We are (approximately] 1008 miles from the West Indies.
Wednesday, 6-23-43, 0000-0400, 2000-2400: Watch. At morning GQ a sub fired a fish, missing a can by feet. The ship we lost last nite was French. We heard that someone in the convoy is sending German code signals. All radio sets are being confiscated. Course is E. Good weather. Set clocks ahead one hour.
Thursday, 6-24-43, 0300: We pulled a nifty one just now. The [Convoy] Commadore figured we were being followed by a sub so [the whole convoy] backtracked & surprised a sub cruising in our wake. After dropping about 40 depth charges he was forced to the surface and the cans finished him off with gunfire. 1430: We almost got another one. A can had a good contact and dropped about 10 charges but no luck. Course E. Good weather. 1800-2000: Watch.
Friday, 6-25-43, 1600-1800: Watch. Rough. No subs.
Saturday, 6-26-43, 1000: Captain's Inspection. 1200-1600: Watch. Still rough. Made 150 miles today.
Sunday, 6-27-43, 0800-1200: Watch. Course ENE. 1900: Sub contact. [Cans] dropped about a dozen charges. No luck.
Monday, 6-28-43, 0400-0800: Watch. Good weather. Set clocks ahead one hour.
Tuesday, 6-29-43, 0000-0400, 2000-2400: Watch. Course NE. Must be getting close to land because a P.B.Y. flew over us tonite & reported a sub 8 miles ahead.
Wednesday, 6-30-43, 1800-2000: Watch. Nothing new.
Thursday, 7-1-43, 1600-1800: Watch. [The Keokuk] broke off from [the] convoy and together with [our sister mine layers] SALEM and WEEHAWKEN, headed for Gibralter with 3 cans which were, sent to get us. We're 450 miles out at 1200 [hours]. Set clocks ahead one hour.
Friday, 7-2-43, 1200-1600: watch.
Saturday, 7-3-43, 21st day. 0500: Entered the Straits of Gibralter & saw Europe & Africa for the first time. Very rugged country. The mountains on both sides come to the waters edge. 1000: Passed the "Rock". Very impressive looking. We didn't stop but headed for Oran, Algeria, about 260 miles into the Mediterranean. Should get in tomorrow. 0800-1200: Watch.
Sunday, 7-4-43, 22nd day, 0400-0800: Watch. 0830: Tied up at a pier in Oran. The city sits on the side of a mountain and from here it looks like Shangri-la. The language is French of course. There is still evidence of the invasion showing, i.e.: bombed ships, subs, etc. We had a Fourth of July dinner today. I spent all afternoon looking the town over through field glasses. No liberty. Unloaded half of our mines. [approximately 510].
Monday, 7-5-43: Regular work day. No liberty.
Tuesday, 7-6-43, 0630: left [Oran] in a 10-ship convoy for the central Mediterranean. We are #3 ship in Column 2. We're headed for Cape Bon, about 735 miles east of Oran. 2000-2400: Watch.
Wednesday, 7-7-43: Passed Algiers about 1100. I wonder if Hedy LaMarr is there, From out here it is a nice looking city, larger than Oran. Sighted a great many empty life rafts & boats this morning. Algiers is about 250 miles from Oran and 400 miles from Bizerte, Tunisia. 1800-2000: Watch.
Thursday, 7-8-43, 1600-1800: Watch. We have never been more than 5 miles from the coast of Africa since we left Oran. at 1600 we passed Bone, Algeria. At sunset we were 20 minutes flying time from Sardinia.
Friday, 7-9-43, 1200-1600: Watch. We passed Bizerte about 0500 & Cape Bon about 1100. Cape Bon was the last point of Axis resistance in Africa. I saw two groups of about 100 planes each flying to Sicily on a bombing mission. Sicily is about 75 miles or 15 minutes flying time from us. At dawn our small convoy was joined by 4 PT boats which stayed with us until we got through the graveyard between Bizerte and Cape Bon.
Saturday, 7-10-43. This morning at GQ we saw some flares & later some Spitfires circling the spot. One of our cans investigated & picked up a British flyer. We just heard the invasion of Sicily has started! We are about 50 miles away killing time. At 0200 we had a sub contact. Missed. During the day we circled around waiting for dark. We can't go to Sicily yet because the shore batteries have not been silenced. Probably tomorrow. 0800-1200: Watch.
Sunday, 7-11-43: 0400 0800; Watch. We left [the] Malta [area] & proceeded towards Sicily. The fighting at Gela, where we are going, is not going so good. The Herman Goering Panzer Division is reinforcing Axis troops there and our troops are pracically back on the beach. Our purpose for being there is to lay mines offshore, thereby forming a protective screen against subs, behind which our transports can operate safely. The plan of the day, as near as I can make out, is to establish another beach head adjacent to the present one [and] also strengthen the present one. There is a large airport at Gela which accounts for the stiff resistance. 0800: Arrived at Gela and laid-to off the beach about a mile. The L.C.I.'s and L.S.T. 's went in immediately. The beach was black with landing barges, jeeps, trucks, tanks and men. The destroyers kept up a steady barrage paralleling the coast about a 1/4 mile out. We steamed slowly back and forth waiting to get rid of our mines and also acting as anti-aircraft protection. I'd like it much better if we were rid of these damn things, it would only take one stray shot to set off some fireworks. I watched the battle through field glasses and could clearly see the Axis line & field guns. We are on permanent battle stations. 1600; Started to lay our mine field as 24 Italian bombers came over. I was down below at my mining station and didn't see them, but boy!, you could sure feel them. My mining station was a large electrical control panel, located in the bowels of the ship under the mine deck, the purpose of which was to supply power to the small engines shoving the mines from track to track and eventually pushing the mines overboard upon signals from the mining officer. Frequently, too many engines would be operating simultaneously, popping the circuit breakers. My real job was to hold them in, even if the copper blades started to smoke from the heat. The fact that my access hatch was double-dogged to preserve watertight integrity plus the fact that I could hear everything going on topside through my Battle Station headset didn't help my mental attitude. My seat was a folded blanket on top of the keel. [Lucky for me] they [the Italian bombers] concentrated on the beach & on the [cruisers] PHILADELPHIA & BROOKLYN, which were shelling enemy tanks. They missed most of their objectives but did hit a Liberty ship loaded with tins of hi-octane gas. What a blaze & what a beacon for tonite. Incidently, the Navy shot 2 of the bombers down. 2130; I had just laid down on the quarterdeck and was looking at the stars when suddenly I saw an airplane exhaust flash over me not 500 feet up. I dove into a corner and as I did two 500 pound bombs exploded about 100 yds off our starboard bow. The noise of the shrapnel was like that of angry bees. It was German divebombers. They had cut their engines & glided in on us. We opened up with everything and it was so bright with tracer fire you could have read a newspaper. Another set of planes dropped three more 500 pounders about 80 yds off our stern. Then they started to drop flares for the precision bombers. We were shooting for about four hours and I bet everyone aged four years. I only saw two planes shot down. I sat on the quarterdeck most of the time, loading ammunition for a [Browning] 30 cal. machine gun and cussing the Nazis. When you can hear them diving but can't see them, Oh Brother! We were attacked four times without a hit but the near misses parted a seam. There wasn't as much joking as usual tonite and the compartment was rank with the smell of gunpowder.
Monday, 7-12-43, 0000-0400, 2000-2400: Watch. The GQ was over about 0130 and things were quiet until 1030 when a couple of dive bombers flew over. They left quickly. 1800; Five German dive bombers came over trying to get some troops landing on the beach. Instantly all hell broke loose. They missed their targets and circled out over the water and back again towards land. All the ships were shooting at once for here was a target you could see. On the beach a new Army anti-aircraft unit had just gotten set up and they let go at the Nazis. As quick as you can say 1, 2, 3, 4, that many planes were going down in flames. That is something I shall never forget. 2000: Left Gela for Bizerte, [North Africa].
Tuesday, 7-13-43, 1800-2000: Watch. Still under way. In the afternoon we had a sub contact. Missed. One of the other ships had a sea burial for a sailor who was strafed.
Wednesday, 7-14-43, 0030: Dropped anchor at Bizerte. 1530: Went in past town to the inner harbor & French naval base. The town itself is in ruins from bombings by both the Allies and the Axis. The houses are of Moorish architecture & are painted pastel shades. There are no people in the town. The harbor installations came in for particularly heavy bombing. I could see the masts of seven sunken ships as we weaved our way between them.
Thursday, 7-15-43. Tied up at a pier in the naval base in the morning. 1200-1600: Liberty. Picked up some bomb fragments and bought a Nazi medal. Walked out to the airport and looked at some wrecked Nazi and French planes. The 8th of this month was the last air raid here and it caused a great deal of damage. Tonite we started to load two anchor buoys and 50 ton of gear to take back to Gela.
Friday, 7-16-43. Pulled out into the bay again. Had an air raid alert.
Saturday, 7-17-43, 0700: Got under way for Gela. Heard the Allies have about a third of Sicily by now. When we reached Cape Bon we were ordered back because there is a sub pack dead ahead. There are 8 ships in our convoy but only 1 can [for protection]. On the way back we met a strong convoy of LST's heading for Sicily so we fell in with them. We passed Cape Bon again about 1900. 2000-2400: Watch.
Sunday, 7-18-43, 1600: Arrived at Gela. 1800-2000: Watch. 2130: GQ started. Italian torpedo planes were reported heading here. There is a full moon but cans are laying a smoke screen around the ships. Everything is very quiet. No noise except the throbbing of the destroyers engines.
Monday, 7-19-43, 0300: Secured from GQ. 0400: GQ. 0900:GQ. 1000: Refueled a can & got rid of our anchor buoys. 1800-2000: Watch. 2130: GQ.
Tuesday, 7-20-43, 1500: Left for Algiers with 3 cans and 9 Liberties. Temperature 110 degrees today. Allies bombed Rome last nite! 1600-1800: Watch. 1930: Sub contact. No luck.
Wednesday, 77 21-43, 1200-1600: watch.
Thursday, 7-22-43, 0800-1200: Watch.
Friday, 7-23-43, 0400-0800: Watch. 1530: Arrived at Algiers, anchored in outer harbor. No liberty.
Saturday, 7-24-43. Looked at Algiers through glasses for about an hour. There are many modernistic buildings in the city. 1300: Received sailing orders to proceed to Oran. 1600-1800: Watch.
Sunday, 7-25-43, 1200-1600: Watch. We are in a British convoy of 32 ships and 7 cans. 1600 Arrived in Oran & tied up at Mers-el-kebir, about 5 miles from Oran by road.
Monday, 7 26-43. Regular work day. Went swimming [along with my kapok life jacket] in the afternoon along the sea wall. The Mediterranean is very salty [and clear. You can see down to the bottom, about 30 or 40 feet.]
Tuesday, 7-27-43. Ditto.
Wednesday, 7-28-43. Had liberty in Oran today. From far away it may look like Shangri-la, but it sure is different when you get in it. It just smells. Like a manure pile & parts of it look about the same. It is full of sidewalk cafes, Arabs, Morocs, Spaniards and French, (the French women are pretty but use too much makeup), etc. The prices are very high and most food & essentials are rationed. French is the universal language. The population is about a quarter million. [As I write this a half century later, I'm sure my uncomplimentary remarks no longer apply.]
Thursday, 7-29-43. Swimming.
Friday, 7-30-43. Stayed aboard today.
Saturday, 7-31-43. Liberty. Spent it swimming.
Sunday, 8-1-43. Swimming
Monday, 8-2-43. Regular work day.
Tuesday, 8-3-43. Liberty. Swimming.
Wednesday, 8-4-43. Watched about 3,000 German & Italian prisoners [from the Sicilian invasion] being loaded on ships for the trip to the States. Lucky guys!
Thursday, 8-5-43, 1300-2200: Shore Patrol in Mers-el-Kebir. Pretty quiet. Made a lot of friends, especially one [old] American who fought in the Spanish Civil War.
Friday, 8-6-43. Liberty. Swimming.
Saturday, 8-7-43. Heard we're going to stay here about a month. Nuts!
Sunday, 8-8-43. Swimming.
Monday, 8-9-43. Liberty. Swimming.
Tuesday, 8-10-43. Swimming.
Wednesday, 8-11-43. Swimming.
Thursday, 8-12-43. Liberty. Swrmming.
Friday, 8-13 43. Had to work today.
Saturday, 8-14-43, 1000: Captains Inspection.
Sunday, 8-15-43. Liberty. Swimming.
Monday, 8-16-43, 1300-2200: Shore Patrol in Mers-el-Kebir. Spent afternoon [sightseeing] in Ain-el-Turck. Saw some beautiful villas here.
Tuesday, 8-17-43. [Allies] conquered Sicily after 38 days.
Wednesday, 8-18-43. Watched the Army unload 23,000 prisoners from Sicily. The Germans looked like soldiers, [marching along the quay in columns of three, keeping perfect time, looking straight ahead.], the Italians like bums. [marching along in rag-tag formation, laughing and talking, waving to us sailors, making the V for Victory sign and shouting American words like: Brooklyn, New York, Roosevelt. The war is sure over for them.]
Thursday, 8-19-43. Regular work day.
Friday, 8-20-43. Swimming.
Saturday, 8-21-43, Made a movie trip to Oran. [EM/3C Lassiter and I were the ship's projectionists. We split the work, I made the film runs (sight-seeing opportunity), he operated the projection equipment. We both set up and packed the equipment for each show. We each earned a $1.00 per show.] Liberty. Swimming.
Sunday, 8-22-43. Swimming.
Monday, 8-23-43. Regular work day.
Monday, 8-23-43. Regular work day.
Tuesday, 8-24-43. Liberty. Swimming. In the Navy one year today.
Wednesday, 8-25-43. Swimming.
Thursday, 8-26-43. Swimming.
Friday, 8-27-43. Liberty. Watched the Army load about 3,000 more PW's for the States.
Saturday, 8-28-43, 1000: captain's Inspection.
Sunday, 8-29-43. Shore Patrol. Mers-el-Kebir.
Monday, 8-30-43. Liberty. Swimming.
Tuesday, 8-31-43. Regular work day.
Wednesday, 9-1-43. Looks like we're getting ready to shove off within a week.
Thursday, 9 2-43. Liberty. Swimming. [It was about this time that we heard a rumor that if you crushed the kapok life vest, like using it for a pillow when you slept on deck, it lost it's buoyancy. We non-swimmers immediately tested the vests at our favorite swimming hole along the seawall and to our consternation, discovered that the vests did indeed slowly sink in the salty Mediterranean. Needless to say, there was a big run on Ships Stores for new jackets.]
Friday, 9-3-43, 0400: Canadians & British established a beach head on the Italian mainland. It won't be long now.
Saturday, 9-4 43, 1000: Captains Inspection. Expect to leave any day.
Sunday, 9-5-43. Holiday routine. No liberty. That means we leave tomorrow I hope.
Monday, 9-6-43, 0740: Left Oran together with the SALEM and WEEHAWKEN for Bizerte. We have 3 British cans for escort. In the afternoon a German JU-88 flew over us. The cans fired a few rounds & he went away. 1800-2000: watch.
Tuesday, 9-7-43, 1600-1800: Watch. 2030: Sub alert. 2130: Sub alert.
Wednesday, 9 8-43, 1000: Firing Practice. 1520: Arrived at Bizerte. Maintained a steaming watch, ready to leave on a minute's notice. Last nite the Axis bombed here and hit their own oil tanks, part of a 3 year supply left behind by them. Just received word Italy surrendered! One down & two to go.
Thursday, 9-9-43, 0800-1200: Watch. Armistice terms were signed last Friday. U.S. troops landed at Salerno, near Naples, today.
Friday, 9 10-43, 0400-0800: Watch. An Italian destroyer (the LG) arrived in Bizerte this afternoon. Heading towards Malta were the British battlewagons HMS WARSPITE & HMS VALIANT leading two Italian battlewagons, 5 cruisers and 4 cans.
Saturday, 9-11 43, 1000: Inspection. 2000-2400, 0000-0400: Watch.
Sunday, 9-12-43, 1800-2000: Watch. It looks like we're not in this invasion.
Monday, 9-13 43. The British aircraft carrier HMS INDOMITABLE, 4 auxilliary carriers, 3 cruisers, 1 Polish can & 5 British cans arrived here from Italy.
Tuesday, 9-14-43, 2000-2400: Watch. 2130: Underway for Oran.
Wednesday, 9-15-43, 1800-2000: Watch.
Thursday, 9-16-43, 1600-1800: Watch.
Friday, 9-17-43, 1200-1600: Watch. 1825: Tied up at Mers-el-Kebir.
Saturday, 9-18-43, 1000: Inspection.
Sunday, 9 19-43, Movie trip to Oran. Swimming in afternoon.
Monday, 9-20-43, Loaded 150 mines from WEEHAWKEN. Shoving off tomorrow.
Tuesday, 9-21-43, 0800: Shoved off for Tenez, Algeria, about 100 miles east of here, to unload & store mines. 1830: Arrived in Tenez.
Wednesday, 9-22 43. Unloaded mines and shoved off for Oran at 1800.
Thursday, 9-23-43, 0800: Arrived in Oran. We are due for a convoy to the States on the 27th. 0h Boy!
Friday, 9-24-43. Movie trip to Oran.
Saturday, 9-25-43, 1000: Inspection.
Sunday, 9-26-43, 1800: Headed back to Tenez to pick up our mines. Leaving them there was a mistake.
Monday, 9-27-43, 0730: Arrived in Tenez. Attempted to go in harbor but high winds and seas prevented this. Had to drop our port anchor to stop us from ramming [the] sea wall. Layed-to outside. Lost anchor.
Tuesday, 9-28-43. Seas calmer today. Went in at 1500 and started to load mines. Missed our convoy.
Wednesday, 9-29-43. Continued loading.
Thursday, 9-30-43. Waiting for SALEM to finish loading.
Friday, 10-1-43, 1730: left for Oran.
Saturday, 10~2-43, 0830: arrived Mers-el-Kebir.
Sunday, 10-3-43. Holiday routine.
Monday, 10-4-43. Regular work day.
Tuesday, 10-5-43. Regular work day. Got refueled. might leave Thursday.
Wednesday, 10 6-43. Looks like we're going to leave tomorrow. Plans have been made for the Convoy Commander to use the KEOKUK as flagship.
Thursday, 10-7-43, 1030: left Mers-el-Kebir & layed-to in outer harbor. 1200-1600: Watch. 1430: Formed into small convoy & circled around off Oran. 2330: Met convoy coming from Algiers. Joined them and headed for Gibralter. A tug is towing a can [DD] 612 back to the states which was hit by an aerial torpedo. We did not get the Convoy Commander.
Friday, 10-8-43, 0800-1200: Watch. In a 9 knot convoy.
Saturday, 10-9-43, 0630: Passed the Rock. More ships joined us here. Had a good look at the Rock thru glasses. On the return trip [to the States] my GQ station will be the forward crows nest. [A good pair of binoculars there!]. 1000: Inspection. 1200-1600: Watch. Course 270.
Sunday, 10-10-43. Three more ships joined us from Casablanca. There are 37 ships in 10 columns. We are #3 in Column 6. For escort we have 4 cans & 5 DE's [Destroyer Escort's] around the convoy and a screen of 4 DE's on the [forward] horizon. 1600 2000: Watch.
Monday, 10-11-43, 2000-2400: Watch. Calm.
Tuesday, 10-12-43. Smooth sailing. Course 270.
Wednesday, 10-13-43, 0000-0400: Watch. 50 miles south of the Azores. Set clocks back one hour.
Thursday, 10-14-43, 0400-0800: Watch. Very rough. Had to eat off the deck.
Friday, 10-15-43, 0800-1200: Watch. Course 270. 1630: Can dropped about 15 charges. No luck. 1830: A sub pack of 22 was just reported in the general area ahead of us & one behind us reporting our course. We are getting ready to dump our mines overboard to run for it.
Saturday, 10-16-43, 1000: Inspection. 1200-1600: Watch. Set clocks back one hour.
Sunday, 10-17-43, 1600-2000: Watch. Apparently we missed the sub pack.
Monday, 10-18-43, 2000-2400: watch.
Tuesday, 10-19-43, 1400: can dropped a few charges. Set clocks back one hour.
Wednesday, 10-20-43, 0000-0400: Watch.
Thursday, 10-21-43, 0400-0800: Watch. A southeaster is raging. Eating off the decks again.
Friday, 10-22-43, 0800-1200: Watch. Only made 140 miles today. Still rough.
Saturday, 10-23-43, 1200-1600: Watch.
Sunday, 10-24-43, 1600-2000: Watch.
Monday, 10-25-43, 2000-2400: Watch.
Tuesday, 10-26-43, 0931: Arrived at NOB [Naval Operating Base], Norfolk, Va. U.S.A. Away 4 mos.,13 days.
Wednesday 10-27-43, 0700: Left for Yorktown, Va. to unload mines. 1200: Arrived Yorktown.
Thursday, 10-28-43. Unloaded mines.
Friday, 10-29-43. Went to Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va., for repairs & conversion into a net carrier-auxilliary cargo carrier.
Saturday, 11-6-43. Received 9 day leave.
Wednesday, 11-17-43. Went to NOB Norfolk to pick [up] a load of nets & gear -about 40 carloads.
Tuesday, 11-23-43, 1530: Left NOB Norfolk Va. for [the] Panama Canal. Traveling alone with one can (PALMER) as escort.
Wednesday, 11-24-43, 0400-0800: Watch.
Thursday, 11-25-43, 0000-0400, 2000-2400: Watch.
Friday, 11-26-43, 1600-2000: Watch. Near the tip of Florida.
Saturday, 11 27-43, 1000: Inspection. 1200-1600: Watch. Proceeding along North coast of Cuba. 2000: entered Windward Passage. Off Cuba.
Sunday, 11-28-43, 0700: Off Haiti. 0800-1200: Watch. 1900: 0ff Jamaica. Clocks back one hour.
Monday, 11-29 43, 0400-0800: Watch.
Tuesday, 11 30-43, 0000-0400: Watch. 1600: Tied up at Pier 8, Cristobal, Panama Canal Zone.
Wednesday, 12-1-43. Refueled.
Thursday, 12-2-43, 1630-2230: Liberty in Colon.
Friday, 12-3-43, 0600: Left Cristobal to go thru Canal. Went thru Gatun locks at 0800. Dropped anchor in Gatun Lake 0830. Went thru Calebra Cut 1300. Went thru Pedro Miguel locks at 1340 and Miraflores locks at 1430. Arrived Balboa at 1515 and tied up at Pier 6.
Saturday, 12-4-43, 1500: Shoved off for Pearl Harbor. No escort, traveling alone. Area to the [Hawaiian] islands is reported free of enemy activity. 1600-2000: Watch.
Sunday, 12-5-43, 1200-1600: Watch. Course 286.
Monday, 12-6-43, 0800-1200: Watch. Knocked off GQ till we reach our destination. Set clocks back an hour.
Tuesday, 12-7-43, 0400-0800: Watch. Course 286. A Liberator patrol bomber flew over us today.
Wednesday, 12-8-43, 0000-0400, 2000-2400: Watch.
Thursday, 12-9-43, 1600-2000: Watch.
Friday, 12-10-43, 1200-1600: Watch. Nearest land is Mexico, 340 miles. Set clocks back an hour.
Saturday, 12-11-43, 0800-1200; Watch. 1000: Inspection.
Sunday, 12-12-43, 0400-0800: Watch.
Monday, 12-13-43, 0000-0400, 2000-2400: Watch. Set clocks back an hour.
Tuesday, 12-14-43, 1600-2000: Watch. Course 279.
Wednesday, 12-15-43, 1200-1600: Watch.
Thursday, 12-16-43, 0800-1200: Watch. Slightly rough. Set clocks back an hour.
Friday, 12-17-43, 0130-0200: GQ. Radar picked up a ship traveling towards us about 14 miles away. It turned out to be a Liberty. We challenged her & when she didn't answer got ready to blast. She finally came thru, to our relief. 0400-0800: Watch. 1032 miles from island of Hawaii. Bearing 275.
Saturday, 12-18-43, 0000-0400, 2000-2400: watch. 1000: Inspection. 1330: Met 4 Liberties headed SW. Our old Exec, Mr.Wilcox, was in command of one. Exchanged Xmas greetings. 1200: Night firing practice.
Sunday, 12-19-43, 1600-2000: Watch.Turned clocks back an hour.
Monday, 12-20-43, 1200-1600: Watch. 1630: Sighted island of Hawaii.
Tuesday, 12-21 43, 0800-1200: watch. 1600: Came in past Diamond Head & Honolulu and went thru [anti-submarine] nets at 1700. 1750: Tied up at anchor buoy in Drydock Channel beside Ford Island. "5" is still my lucky number. I was in a $3.00 anchor pool and won $150.00 with number "50".
Wednesday, 12 22-43. Made a movie trip to the base.
Thursday, 12-23-43. Regular work day.
Friday, 12-24-43. Regular work day.
Saturday, 12-25-43. Xmas. 0900: Inspection. Had a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Went aboard the USS STEVENS (DD479), Nunzie's [Nunzio Malatesta] ship but found he was transferred a week ago to Boston, Mass.
Sunday. 12-26 43, 0900-1800: Liberty in Honolulu. [I had a lot of friends during the boat ride to Fleet Landing but when I spent the $150.00 on US Savings Bonds at a stand nearby, I was pretty well shunned.]
Monday. 12-27-43. Went into dock to load supplies.
Tuesday, 12-28-43. Still at dock. Regular work day.
Wednesday, 12-29 43. Went back to old berth.
Thursday, 12-30-43. Regular work day.
Friday, 12-31-43. Regular work day.
Saturday, 1-1-44, New Years Day. Each morning made a movie trip to Kuahua Island.
Sunday, 1-2-44. Holiday routine.
Monday, 1-3-44. Regular work day.
Tuesday, 1-4-44, Regular work day.
Wednesday, 1-5-44. Regular work day.
Thursday, 1-6-44. Regular work day.
Friday, 1-7-44. [The minelayer] MONADNOCK pulled alongside. She was in our division in Yorktown, [Virginia].
Saturday, 1-8-44, 1000: Inspection.
Sunday, 1 9-44. Transferred to Receiving Ship, Aiea, FA [For Assignment to] COMSERVPAC. [While I was on this morning's daily movie run a levy came in for five Electicians Mates to be transferred to: a Navy cargo ship; a destroyer; a sea-going tug; a yard oiler and something called COMSERVPAC. No one knew what COMSERVPAC was so the other four transferees chose the four ships and I got stuck with what was left]
END OF KEOKUK DIARY ITEMS
Sunday, 1-9-44. When I arrived at Fleet Landing with my seabag and orders, a Marine private met me with a late model Ford "Woodie" station wagon and drove me to Receiving Ship, Aiea. After processing, he then drove me to Aiea Barracks to meet my new boss, a Chief Electricians Mate. Seems like I had been assigned to a small group of Navy Electricians Mates whose sole duty was to: operate an emergency generator in Fleet Headquarters when needed; and, each morning before 0500, check Admirals Nimitz, Halsey and Spruance's offices to ensure that all electrical appliances, lights, telephones and air handlers were in working order. Duty hours were two days on, third day off. Housing was in an adjacent barracks area in a one-story bungalow-type structure, situated beside a sugar cane field and a narrow gauge railroad track. War is Hell! On my first day off, I went back to the KEOKUK to brag a bit.