September 1945

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Airmen and Navy join together for an outing on Tinian

September 1, 1945 – Saturday.  As I write this we are anchored this morning in Tanapag Harbor on the beautiful Pacific Island of Saipan, the largest island in the Northern Marianas. We are about 120 miles North of Guam.  We are quite familiar with this island having been here now three months.  The eastern shore of this island is rough and rocky and mostly cliffs, while the western side of the island is covered with long stretches of white sandy beaches. Our job here has been primarily patrol and escort duty.

Today at 8:00 am we boarded passengers to take them to Tinian, Saipan’s companion island just a few miles south from here.  We delivered our passengers, arriving there about 11 am.  After disembarking we took on a new group of men and returned to Saipan by 4 pm and remained there for the rest of the day.  This is basically our job right now, running a ferry service between Tinian and Saipan.

September 2, 1945 – Sunday.  Gorgeous weather greeted us today. Temperatures in the mid 80s.  We repeated the events of yesterday, delivering passengers to Tinian and returning again with 140.  When we got back to harbor there was a letter there from Mother.  I will write to her tomorrow.

September 3, 1945 – Monday.  I wrote a letter home today. Here is what I wrote:

Dear Mother, I have been so busy lately doing things I’ve not had a chance to write anyone.  Received your letter the 2nd, yesterday  It was sure good to hear again from you and about Dean.

On Saturday the 1st I went to the island where Clifford Beck is, and got permission to stay there that night and next day.  I must say I really enjoyed spending a night on land again.  In fact, he could get a jeep, and I drove it practically all the time.

Left: Dale in Jeep on Tinian 1946 Right: Dale in Jeep with Granddaughters 2010

And Sunday I went to Church and I met one of the Bushman boys from Arizona.  I told Cliiff I knew I’d seen him before and sure enough it was one of the Bushman boys. We took him back to his tent in Cliff’s jeep.  I forgot whose boy he said he was.  He spent some time with the Bushman’s in Provo.  He was certainly a nice guy  I guess where I’d seen him was at one of the reunions we used to have.  I never forget a face but can’t remember names.  Cliff had some very nice pals.

Eating papayas on an outing on TInan 1946

I missed my ship that afternoon and got a plane to take me to the Island where we were.  It was my first plane ride and was quite a thrill for me. I got to my ship alright and never got into any trouble.  It was the only fun I’ve had since I’ve been over-seas. Clifford is really a swell guy.  Those guys couldn’t do enough for me.

Left: Dale in B29 waiting for transport to Saipan. Right: B29 similar to the Enola Gay less than one month earlier to drop the atomic bomb

Also on September 1st I made QUARTERMASTER 2nd Class, so now I’m a Petty Officer Second Class.  That made me feel pretty good even if the war is over.  Its a little more money and good to know they like me well enough to advance me.  So I get the same pay as staff sergeant in the army or marines.

Left to right: Test giver (unidentified), Harold Kesinger, Dale Kirkham

(Note: Flags are used to communicate messages with other ships such as course or ship’s condition.  Flags allow ships to keep radio silence. Part of the test for Quartermaster is knowing the different flags that must be hoisted.  Dale Kirkham and Harold Kesinger pull flags from the flag locker to hoist them on the ropes seen in the foreground.  The instructor has a club in his right hand and ‘corrects’ them if they hoist the wrong flag!)

Had a letter from Uncle Tom Kirkham.  It was a very nice letter and was glad to hear from him.

Have no idea when I might get back in the States.  I hope it won’t be long.  I can’t tell as yet but looks like I’ll be here for a while yet.  It will seem nice to be a school boy again.

I hear the news about Harold Giles.  I think that’s swell.  I guess I’ll have to write him a letter.  Seems like guys my age are so young to take such a big step in life but I hope its for the best.  I can’t see that married life at all, or women either all except you.  I love my mother.

Cliff told me about Harold Beck.  Says he really has a nice wife.  They are both religious he says.  I think that’s okay.

Did you get a chance to meet Harold Giles wife?  If so what did you think about her?

I got the geometry book etc.  Thanks a lot for sending it.  There is nothing I need.  Thanks just the same.

Hope your well.  All my love, Dale

Letter home: Click to enlarge

The course and tests required to achieve the rank of Quartermaster are difficult and require a great deal of study.  The ability to advance in the Navy is one of the great opportunities that the war provides for young men.

Rank insignia worn on Dale's uniform indicating Quartermaster 2nd Class

One of the tests required for the rank of Quartermaster. Click to enlarge

September 5 -12, 1945 – HANGING AROUND SAIPAN.  We stayed in port from the 5th to the 12th with nothing much to do.  Much of the time we have been tied up next to the USS Phaon.

USS Phaon

WATER BOARDING!  I took advantage of this time off to write some letters home.  Now that the war is over things get slow, like they are this week.  So we are able to get a Higgins boat and have a little fun.  A Higgins boat can get up enough speed that we can actually do a little water skiing on rope that we can tie behind it.  I’m about the only one who will even get out and try it but I love being in the water.  The guys took my picture while pulling me around the harbor.

September 6, 1945 – LETTER HOME – OFFICIAL LETTER OF RANK ADVANCEMENT.  We remained moored along side the USS Phaon today.  The Phaon is a large repair ship.  We have nothing to do right now so it gives me some time to catchup on some more letter writing and I can get a little reading done too.  I sent home my letter of rank advancement along with my thoughts about our skipper, captain Thompsson.  I get along with him just fine but he doesn’t do much.  He lays around and reads mostly.  He must like it out here because he had a chance to go home and didn’t go.  He came on board this ship, the LCI222, about 2 days before I did back in May of ’44 and we’ve been together the entire time.  He’s been good about giving me my rank advancements so I think he has been pretty fair with me.

September 8, 1945 – LETTER HOME.  I wrote another letter home today, this one using the ship’s typewritter.

DEAREST MOTHER: I JUST THOUGHT IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW WHERE I WAS I’D LET YOU KNOW FOR SURE, BECAUSE TONIGHT THEY CUT THE CENSORING AND AM I HAPPY ABOUT THAT. I’M AT SAIPAN IN THE MARIANAS. THIS FOR THE PRESENT IS MY BASE. WE OPERATE OUT OF HERE AND WE DO ALL SORTS OF THINGS. WE DID ESCORT SUBS FROM THIS BASE OUT ABOUT 100 MILES SO OUR OWN SHIPS WOULDN’T SINK THEM FOR A JAP. NOW WE FERRY GUYS FROM HERE TO TINIAN. THAT IS THE ISLAND THAT CLIFFORD IS ON. WE ALSO PATROL AROUND THE IS LAND. WE PICK UP ANY OF THE PILOTS THAT HAPPEN TO GO DOWN IN THEIR PLANES. FROM HERE I GOT TO SEE ALL THE BIG B- 29S GO TO AND FROM TOKYO. IT WAS QUITE THE SIGHT TO SEE THOSE BIG THINGS COME BACK FROM THERE, SOME WITH THEIR ENGINES CRAPPED OUT ETC. RIGHT NOW WE ARE JUST LAYING AROUND, THAT IS WE GOT 6 DAYS TO REPAIR ANY PARTS OF THE SHIP THAT MIGHT NEED REPAIRING. THEN I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE WILL DO. PROBABLY THE SAME THING AS WE HAVE BEEN. DON’T KNOW WHEN WE WILL GO TO THE STATES BUT HOPE THEY DO SOON. WILL LET YOU KNOW IF WE PULL OUT OF HERE AND JUST WHAT GOES ON IN THE FUTURE. ITS RATHER LATE SO I WILL CLOSE. I’M WELL AND HOPE YOU ARE TOO. ALL MY LOVE TO YOU, DALE .

 

September 8, 1945 – LETTER HOME TO MY SISTER AND MOTHER.

YES THE END OF THE WAR FOUND ME OFF SAIPAN DOING PATROL WORK. WAS I ANGRY. LOOKS LIKE I’LL HAVE TO DO MY CELEBRATING WHEN I GET BACK, ALTHOUGH I’D MUCH RATHER HAVE BEEN IN THE STATES OR EVEN IN TOKYO, LOOKS LIKE THIS WILL HAVE TO DO TO TELL MY GRANDCHILDREN.

HERE JUST ABOUT A WEEK BEFORE PRE-VJ DAY I ORDERED A TAILORED UNIFORM FROM AUSTRALIA. IT IS SUPPOSED TO REALLY BE THE BEST. PAID A LOT OF CASH FOR IT, AND THE WORST OF IT IS I HAVEN’T GOT IT AND AM EXPECTING TO GO BACK TO THE STATES NEXT MONTH. AT LEAST THAT IS W HAT THE SCUTTLEBUTT IS. I HOPE ITS TRUE.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE NICE LETTER AND PACKAGE. THE BOOKS LOOK ALL RIGHT. I THINK I’LL HAVE MORE TIME FOR THAT SORT OF THING. THE RADIOMAN ISN’T ABOARD AND I JUST TOOK MY FIRST RADIO MESSAGE. IT WAS FOR US TO PICK UP A CLASSIFIED DISPATCH AT BASE COMMUNICATIONS. THAT SOUNDS LIKE SOME ORDERS FOR US. HOPE THEY SAY, “RETURN TO THE STATES”. I’M MAN OF ALL TRADES.

I’M NOW A PETTY OFFICER SECOND CLASS I MADE IT THE FIRST OF SEPTEMBER. I FELT PRETTY GOOD ABOUT IT EVEN IF THE WAR IS OVER. IT’S A $20.00 RAISE ON MY BASE PAY. I’LL ALWAYS WELCOME THOSE KINDS OF ADVANCEMENTS. I’VE DONE PRETTY WELL SINCE I’VE BEEN ON HERE. REALLY WORKED UP. RIGHT NOW I’M IN THE PILOT HOUSE, WHICH IS NOT BAD, AND WE HAVE A NICE DESK, WHICH I BUILT. THE PILOT HOUSE IS RESTRICTED TO THREE OF US. THIS

TYPE WRITER ISN’T MUCH GOOD BUT IT WAS LAYING DOWN IN ONE OF THE COMPARTMENTS AND I ASKED IF I COULD FIX IT COULD WE USE IT AND THEY SAID OKAY. I FIXED IT AND IT WONT BE LONG UNTIL I’LL BE ABLE TO TYPE. WE REALLY HAVE IT BETTER THAN ANYONE ON THE SHIP EXCEPT OFFICERS OF COURSE. I KEEP ALL MY GEAR (WRITING GEAR) UP HERE AND I CAN LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON ALL NIGHT IF I WANT TO. THE REST GO OUT AT 1PM. I CAN READ ETC. UP HERE AFTER LIGHTS ARE OUT.

LAST SATURDAY WE HAD THE RUN BETWEEN HERE AND TINIAN AND CLIFFORD IS OVER THERE. WE HAD THE FERRY RUN FROM HERE TO THE RE AND BACK. WE LEAVE HERE AT 0900 IN THE MORNING AND COME BACK AT 2PM. WE DID THAT EVERY DAY FOR A WEEK. SO SATURDAY I ASKED IF IT WOULD BE ALL RIGHT IF I STAYED THERE THAT NIGHT WITH HIM AND PICK THE SHIP UP THE NEXT DAY. THEY SAID IT WOULD BE OKAY SO, WE REALLY DID THE ISLAND. IN FACT WE WERE HAVING SO MUCH FUN I MISSED THE SHIP THE NEXT DAY. SO WE WENT UP TO A B-29 BASE AND I GOT A PILOT TO TAKE ME BACK BY PLANE THROUGH CLIFF’S HELP.  SO I HAD MY FIRST PLANE RIDE. IT WASN’T BAD. INCIDENTALLY, I DIDN’T GET INTO ANY TROUBLE. WISH I’D STAYED ANOTHER DAY NOW. THE NEXT DAY WE MET CLIFF AND HIS PALS AT THE PIER AND WE LOADED THEIR JEEP DOWN WITH MATTRESSES AND, CHOW WHICH THE ARMY DON’T GET. THEY WERE REALLY THANKFUL.

JUST GOT A LETTER FROM DAD. HE SEEMS TO LIKE IT PRETTY WELL UP THERE. OREGON IS A BEAUTIFUL STATE. MUCH MORE SO THAN UTAH OR CALIFORNIA I THINK. OF COURSE I DIDN’T SEE MUCH OF IT I JUST WENT THROUGH THERE BY TRAIN.

YOUR TRIP UP TO CANADA SOUNDED WONDERFUL. HOPE I’LL BE ABLE TO GO ON A VACATION LIKE THAT SOME DAY SOON.  I THINK I’LL MAKE MINE CALIF. I LIKE THE WOMEN THEY HAVE DOWN THERE AND ITS NICE AND WARM. I HAVE A LOT OF CATCHING UP TO DO ON THIS WOMEN SITUATION. WELL KEEP ME POSTED ON YOUR MARRIAGE DEAL AND I’LL KNOW WHEN TO EXPECT TO FIND ANOTHER BEST GAL. LOTS OF LOVE BROTHER DALE

 

DEAREST MOTHER;

I HAD A LITTLE EXCESS MONEY ON HAND SO I TH0UGHT I WOULD SEND IT HOME. I F YOU NEED ANY OF IT DON ‘T HESITATE TO USE IT. SURE HOPE YOU CAN USE SOME OF IT. IT’S QUITE A STRAIN TO GO OVER ON THE BEACH TO GET A MONEY ORDER SO I THINK I’LL SEND IT THIS WAY. IF IT GETS THERE ALL RIGHT LET ME KNOW AND I HAVE ANOTHER $50 I WANT TO SEND. I DON ‘T THINK THEY HAVE ANY TROUBLE WITH THE MAIL GOING THAT WAY I HOPE NOT ANYWAY. WHEN YOU GET IT LET ME KNOW.

I’M STILL HERE AT SAIPAN GETTING REPAIRS TO OUR SHIP. WERE TIED ALONG A BIG REPAIR SHIP THAT DOES THE WORK SUCH AS WELDING ETC. GOT SOME MORE SCUTTLEBUTT THAT WE MIGHT GO BACK TO THE STATES NEXT MONTH. I HOPE THAT I S TRUE. THIS IS ONE OF THE OLDER LCI’S AND I THINK IT WILL BE THE FIRST TO GET BACK AND DECOMMISSIONED. I HOPE IT IS ANYWAY. I WILL LET YOU KNOW IF ANYTHING COMES UP DEFINITE. IF WE DO GO TO THE STATES I’LL PROBABLY GET MY LEAVE RIGHT AWAY.

HAVEN’T HAD ANY MAIL FOR SEVERAL DAYS SO I’LL GET IT ALL AT ONCE. I’D MUCH RATHER HAVE IT EVERY DAY THAN ALL AT ONCE. ITS ONLY CERTAIN DAYS THE PLANES BR I NG MAIL I SUPPOSE. I HOPE YOU ARE WELL.  AND HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON ALL MY LOVE, YOUR SON DALE

September 10, 1945 – Monday.  Our ship has been in drydock for repairs the past few days.  This morning we got it out of drydock and soon were underway for and took it over

September 13, 1945 – Thursday.  We were up early this morning at 4:00 am and headed out on patrol.  They call this “Old Maid Patrol” because we patrol to Old Maid Station.  I think that the Old Maid Station was named after the Chambermaid incident that happened here on 9/11/1944.  Chambermaid was a B29 that bombed Iwo Jima but took some heavy flack in the brutal attack.  They lost all their hydraulic fluid and nearly went down.  When they landed here they had no brakes.  They came in hard on two wheels and broke it up pretty badly.  Here is what the plane looked like after it landed!  I suppose that Chambermaid or Old Maid Duty means that we are looking for B29s that don’t quite make it and our job is to pick up any airmen that might be stranded at sea.  We have yet to pick any body out of the water but I suppose that someone needs to be out here looking, just in case.

The crash of B29 Chambermaid 9/11/1944, Saipan.

We got back at 3:30 and Clyde F. Brown came on board for duty.  He is a Seaman Second Class.

September 14 – 17, 1945.  We have continued to run our early morning patrols all this week getting back in somewhere between about noon and sunset every day.  On the 17th we left Saipan harbor but then turned around and came back and anchored for the remainder of the day.  This evening Dennis Wynne, Motor Machinist, transferred off the ship today.

September 18, 1945 – Tuesday.  PATROLLING OFF MARPI POINT.  We got to take the ship out on patrol today.  Our assignment was off Marpi Point, better known as Banzai Cliff.  It is eery to be out there knowing that just a year ago so many men, women, and children took their own lives here.  The 800 foot cliffs are a sight to see either from the land or the water.  The gruesome displays of entire families lining up to jump is something almost impossible to believe.  There are stories about groups that would stand together and then detonate a hand grenade or fathers and mothers who would push their children off the cliff and then follow after them.  They didn’t crash in the water so much as they crashed on the rocks below the cliffs.  I’m told that U.S. forces sat below Marpi Point in boats right where we patrolled today with loudspeakers and tried, mostly in vain, to stop the madness.  There was little anyone could do.  Thousands of civilians died. More than 22,000 civilians were killed throughout the campaign on Saipan and Tinian.

LETTER HOME.  I told my mother about the long patrols that we have been making lately.  It doesn’t make much sense to do these patrols now that the war is over.  We go out at 3:00 in the morning and don’t come home till late at night.  Its also odd to have an LCI doing patrol duty.  The Navy makes no sense to me anyway.  I told mother that I have really gotten soft and lazy since I’ve been out here.  There is really no where to exercise.  The ship is too small and I don’t get off much. I really only had to work hard for the first couple of months and then as I started getting my rate advances, life got much easier.  I understand that my friend Myrt Grant got furloughed home already.  I have enough points to go home, as do a lot of the guys here on board ship, but we can’t just take off because it takes so many guys to run a ship.  I am the only one on board with my rating so unless there is a replacement I will have to stay with the ship until it is decommissioned.  I hope that is soon!

 

September 23, 1945 – Sunday. We made a dispatch run to Tinian today.  We departed from Saipan Harbor at 9:30 and came back and anchored at 5:00 pm.

September 24, 1945 – Monday.  We made another run to Tinian today where we disembarked passengers and then returned to Saipan by evening.  When we got back to Saipan we took on a few new crewmen.  Earl Allen, Jesse Amburgey, Elbert Anderson, and Howard Ames, all Seamen Second Class reported aboard for duty.

September 25, 1945 – Wednesday.  We repeated the events of yesterday, making the cruise from Saipan to Tinian.  In the evening we received another crew member by the name of P Davis.  Thursday and Friday we again made the same run.

September 29, 1945 – Saturday.  We had a little action on board today.  The captain conducted an inspection of the ship and at the conclusion of the inspection proceded with a Captain’s Mast.  G.F. Varckette, a motor machinest mate, was convicted of insubordination to a commissioned officer.  His punishment was an additional 50 hours of extra duty.  It doesn’t pay to mouth off to an officer, thats for sure.

September 30, 1945 – Sunday.  We remained anchored at harbor in Saipan today.

View of Saipan Harbor, photo by Officer aboard LCI222 Charles Dotterrer

 

 

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