This appendix contains additional selections from survivor reports.
1. U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA
Lieutenant Commander T. T. Beat tie wrote as follows :
About five minutes to eight I was in the wardroom just finishing breakfast, when word came over the loud speaker from the officer-of-the-deck, "away fire and rescue party." This was followed immediately by a second announcement over the loud speaker, "Japanese are attacking, all hands General Quarters," and the general alarm was rung.
I heard several dull explosions coming from other battleships. Immediately I left the wardroom and ran up the starboard passageway to the bridge. The Captain was just ahead of me and proceeding in the same direction.
At this time the ship listed at least five or six degrees and was steadily listing more to port. The Captain and I went to the conning tower, our battle stations, and at this time dive bombing attacks started to take place and numerous explosions were felt throughout the ship. Upon testing our communications with central station and to the guns we found they were disrupted. I suggested to the Captain as long as no communications were in the battle conning tower that we leave there and attempt to establish messenger communication and try to save the ship. We went out on the starboard side of the bridge discussing what to do. During all this time extremely heavy bombing and strafing attacks occurred. The ship was constantly shaken by bomb hits.
The Captain doubled up with a groan and stated that he had been wounded. I saw that he had been hit in the stomach probably by a large piece of shrapnel and was very seriously wounded. He then sank to the deck and I loosened his collar. I then sent a messenger for a pharmacist's mate to assist the Captain.
Just then the U.S.S. ARIZONA's forward magazines blew up with a tremendous explosion and large sheets of flame shot skyward, and I began to wonder about our own magazines and whether they were being flooded. I posted a man with the Captain and went down to the forecastle where a number of the crew and officers had gathered. I got hold of a chief turret captain to check immediately on the magazines and to flood them if they were not flooded at this time. Large sheets of flame and several fires started aft. Burning fuel oil from the U.S.S. ARIZONA floated down on the stern of
the ship. Just then the gunnery officer, Lieutenant Commander Berthold, came aboard and I asked him to try to flood the forward magazines. Shortly thereafter I was informed that the after magazines were completely flooded but that they were unable to flood the forward magazines as the water was now almost to the main deck.
At about this time a large oil fire swept from the U.S.S. ARIZONA down the port side of the U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA. We had no water on board as the fire mains and machinery were out of commission and we were unable to do any fire fighting at all. I got into a motor launch to go to the stern of the ship to investigate the fire. The smoke was so heavy that I could not see aft of the bridge. As I got into the boat, a sheet of flame swept on top of us and we barely managed to get free of the fire. I then had the boat take me aft. The burning oil on the water swept by the ship and I managed to return to the quarterdeck. I realized then that the ship was lost. I
The attack lasted approximately thirty minutes. We were able to fire all our ready ammunition on the anti-aircraft batteries, but were unable to replenish it as the ship was flooded. I then told the men on the quarterdeck, with the exception of a small working party, to leave the ship. I believe at this time that all the wounded had been taken off the ship and it was extremely dangerous for anyone to remain aboard; that nothing could be done to save the ship and shells from the secondary batteries were constantly exploding due to the intensive heat of the fire midships.
The conduct of the crew and officers was outstanding. There was no confusion and every man and officer did his duty as well as he was able under the conditions.
Lieutenant (jg) H. B. Stark wrote as follows:
Shortly before eight o'clock on Sunday morning, I was in my room double george on the half deck. Double george is the third stateroom counting from aft on the starboard side of the half deck, in the third watertight compartment from aft. As I was getting up from my bunk I heard the call "Away Fire and Rescue Party," followed immediately by General Quarters. This was followed almost immediately by two or three violent explosion in quick succession. The ship started listing to port right away. Grabbing an armload of clothes, I ran forward and found only one man on the half deck manning the repair phone. Between us we started closing watertight doors working from aft, although we did not check the after door leading to the airplane crane room, which normally should be shut. As I dogged down the door forward of my room I heard something let go in the compartment, some leak starting violently. By that time there were a few more men in the compartment above. The large watertight hatch over that space was dropped and I crawled out through the escape scuttle.
As I did I skidded over to port and landed in about four feet of water with a scum of fuel oil. I decided to work my way along the starboard side of the third deck to see if counter-flooding was being accomplished. To my mind there was no danger of sinking in that shallow water but there was great danger of turning over on the port side, as the port list was getting greater. As I dropped down into the trunk to the steering motor room, fire and grains of burning powder showered around me. With the help of a marine sentry the slight fire was extinguished but we could not completely shut the hatch leading down to the steering motor room; it seemed jammed although almost shut. I sent the marine up to shut the hatch over me as I undogged the starboard door. When I stepped into the mess attendants' compartment someone helped me to shut the door. At that time I first noticed that it was completely dark except for a glimmer of a flashlight forward. I groped my way along the deck to the next compartment through the open door and found the damage control gear locker. Puccio, S.F., 3c, I think, had broken into the locker and was hunting for counterflood cranks. He found one and I found one; also a flashlight. I told him to flood forward while I did aft. I ran back into the after compartment and started cranking. We worked for some time on three voids, I believe, but were unable to build up any pressure before the men started falling to the deck. The valve settings were on open, we could not lift any, and the men were all passing out. I grabbed someone and told everyone to haul somebody out the starboard hatch on the quarterdeck just aft of the break of the deck. Then, again I remember nothing until I was under the overhang of turret two, my turret. My head ached terrifically, I could not breathe, and all my extremities tingled as if they had been asleep and were just being awakened. Finding out from my CTC., Crawford, that no one was in control, I started for that station with the starboard anti-aircraft guns firing in my face, it seemed to me. That was the first time I realized the anti-aircraft guns were firing. I ran into Lieutenant Ricketts on the boat deck by a number three anti-aircraft gun and asked him if he needed men. He said, "Yes, on the anti-aircraft ammunition supply." I noticed several anti-aircraft officers on the battery and it was functioning wonderfully. I got back under the overhang of the turret, but the hatches were closed. I passed out in the exertion of opening the right tail hatch, but was able to tell Crawford to get men on the antiaircraft ammunition train. How long I lay there trying to breathe I do not know until Crawford returned, told me that the ammunition train was flooded, that all boat deck ammunition was exhausted, and that the Captain had ordered "Abandon Ship." I made sure that my turret was evacuated, then remember hitting the water from the forecastle. I tried to swim but was too weak. Glover, E. E., GM 2/c, and Bircher, H. C., Sea. lc, of my division held me up and dumped me into a life raft. The next I definitely remember I was on Ford Island at the dispensary.
2. U.S.S. OKLAHOMA
Pay Clerk D. L. Westfall wrote as follows:
At the time of the attack I was in my room shaving. The word was passed "Away Fire and Rescue Party;" just as I was leaving my room the second word was passed for all hands to man their General Quarters Stations closely followed by a shock of a hit. I glanced at my clock as I was leaving my room and noticed the time was a few minutes before 8:00 A.M.
I started for my station in Radio Central; as I was passing along the third deck up a port ammunition passageway, I felt two more hits. The lights went out in the passageway except for one battle light and two panel lights in the boat crane machinery space.
By the time I reached the compartment abreast the armory the ship had picked up a 10-15° list to port; there were a couple of battle lights on in this compartment. Water and oil were bubbling up along the junction of the bulkhead and deck of the electrical work shop, port side. Repair personnel were busy closing watertight doors.
When I reached Radio Central, personnel there had just started evacuating on the orders of the Communication Watch Officer. Radio equipment apparently was out of commission as I noticed many pieces of equipment knocked over or dangling by wires. Back up on the third deck all lights were out and only a few flashlights were available. About this time the word came along from man to man to "Abandon Ship". I helped a partially incapacitated man to the second deck and then joined in a line passing injured men along to the ladder by the dental office. I lost all knowledge of time while here, but after some minutes, Ensign McClelland, who was beside me in the line, said he was feeling faint and then collapsed. I noticed other men dropping around me. I stooped over to pick up Mr. McClelland but when I stooped over I got dizzy and fell. I seemed to be paralyzed from the waist down, had great difficulty breathing, but had enough strength in my arms to drag myself to the ladder and up a couple of steps before collapsing completely.
After passing out I had only flashes of consciousness until mid-afternoon. When I recovered I was at the Naval Air Dispensary on Ford Island. Shortly thereafter I joined a bunch of men going over to BOQ at the Air Station and started a check on survivors from the supply department.
The action of everyone I observed was cool and purposeful as soon as they fully realized we were actually under attack. The only confusion was occasioned by lack of lighting. My life itself is proof of the courage and disregard of personal danger on the part of unknown shipmates.
Second Lieutenant William G. Muller, Jr., wrote as follows:
I had just returned aboard ship on the 0745 motor boat; the boat came
alongside the gangway at approximately 0750. On reaching the Junior Officers' mess the word came over the loud speaker system, "Air attack, all unengaged personnel seek cover, these are real Japanese bombers." I could hardly believe that this was a real attack but the excitement and reality of the voice convinced me to move. I left the mess and started aft, first stopping off at my room to get my pistol. My room is on the starboard side, just aft of the Junior Officers' mess. I left my room and went over to the port side to enter the third deck via the hatch just adjacent to the Warrant Officers' mess. A line had formed by this time and men were pouring down into the third deck. I finally found an opening in the line and started down the ladder. I had just reached the third deck and was almost opposite the ladder when the first torpedo hit. The explosion came from the vicinity of the Wardroom and was not a violent one. The line was still moving down into the third deck and I was opposite the Communication office when the second torpedo hit. This explosion caused violent repercussions and the whole ship seemed to tremble. I figured the hit was almost adjacent to where I was standing.
By this time I decided to leave as water was beginning to flood into the third deck and the ship started listing to port. I assume there were a couple hundred personnel in that third deck and only a few of us were able to reach a hatchway in time. Two more torpedo hits were sustained by the time I was able to work my way back to the hatch I had entered and to get up to the second deck. The ship was about 35° to port by this time and the decks were too slippery and steep to walk on. I worked my way to starboard by use of dogs and fittings on the bulkhead. During this time I heard the last two explosions which were somewhere amidship or aft. There were six torpedo hits that I heard in all.
With difficulty I made the starboard side and climbed into my room which I knew had an open port. The porthole was almost overhead and I climbed through it, slid down the side which inclined about 50° and jumped into the water.
Ensign H. F. Rommel wrote as follows:
The first bombs were from dive-bombers on the hangars at Ford Island. Then a torpedo plane, coming in from over Ford Island, dropped a torpedo at a ship at 10-10 dock. The ship was hit about mid-ships and the explosion seemed upward with many splinters.
I ran aft and passed the word 'A cruiser has just been sunk. These are real bombs and real torpedoes. Man the anti-aircraft battery.'
The ship listed slowly but steadily. No word was received over the speaker to abandon ship. I escaped via the overhang hatch and was picked up by a battleship motor launch. We continued pulling men out of the water. It was difficult due to the oil making everyone slippery. Men
with undershirts could be pulled into boats by grabbing the shoulder piece and sleeve on each side while men who had stripped were very slippery. It is recommended that men be instructed not to remove undershirts when abandoning ship.
Ensign J. M. Doherty wrote as follows:
When the word was passed to man battle stations I left the J. O. Mess for the third deck. On the way down the ladder, the first bomb or torpedo hit. Before I ever got to the Communications Office, oil was pouring into the compartment A-122-P from a hole near frame 60. We had no time to set Zed and I guess there were four or five hits in about five minutes. The ship listed to port and oil was knee deep on the third deck after the first five to seven minutes.
Bunks and bedding interfered considerably with people trying to get around. They were allover the deck at all angles and in everyone's way. The ladder to the second deck was bent and twisted and the lights went out after approximately the fourth hit.
I got out a port on the second deck. I think that ports should not be sealed up but left open for personnel to escape. Ladders should be fastened at the lower end and not be allowed to hang loose as when the ship turns over the ladders jam up the hatches. There should be more hatches in more compartments. Ships should not be overcrowded with people "training" if ships are in dangerous areas. Let the people train in peaceful waters on ships not likely to be hit.
Shipfitter, First Class, W. T. Link wrote as follows:
Time was short and in such time word was passed, "Japanese Airplane Attack-All unengaged personnel seek cover on the third deck-Set condition Zed-Man your Battle Stations."
By sending the men to seek cover on the third deck, jammed ladders prevented quick access to repair stations and also crowded repair stations.
Repair One was never fully manned and three men were dropping large hatches. Oil made it necessary to turn nuts with wrenches.
Chain stanchions secured with nuts could not be removed in the short time we had and hatches were not closed at all. Countless parts were not closed because of the necessity of using a wrench to turn the slick oily nuts.
I never did hear "Abandon ship" and Repair One did not all escape. I escaped through a port in the A Division living space, had no trouble, and ran around or up to the bottom of the ship. I obtained a life jacket out of the water along side of the ship and put it on. I helped another sailor back on the ship and was pulled on the ship again myself by Birnel SF2/c. Then I swam to the rescue boat. I did not dive off the ship,
only shoved off into the water. I was never excited but was covered with oil.
Chief Water Tender, L. C. Bickley wrote as follows:
On or about 0800, 7 December 1941, the word was passed to man all battle stations. I went to #2 Fireroom Pumproom and was starting pumps until the water came in through the air ducts and flooded the pumprooms. The hatch to #2 Pumproom was down and I couldn't get it up, so I dived and swam into #1 Pumproom and out. The lights were out and I couldn't see where the two men went that were with me. I got to B Division living compartment and water started coming in so I went out through a port hole in the wash room after the ship rolled over, and was picked up by a motor launch and put ashore in the Navy Yard. The only word I got over the phone was to get ready to get underway.
Many men were lost in the lower handling rooms of turrets. Falling 14-inch shells killed and injured a great many. About 125 men remained in an air pocket in the shipfitters shop, but when the space was opened, water rushed in as air rushed out. Only one man of this group saved himself by swimming to the C.P.O. pantry on the third deck and out through an open porthole. His story is as follows as gained from excerpts of statement given by Chief Machinist, Second Class I. M. Hull :
The lights were out. I went to the shipfitter shop and tried to get up the hatch leading to the C.P.O. quarters but water washed me back. The ship had listed 90° to port so I tried to swim out through the same hatch but was washed back again and landed in the C100s along the conveyor. I dogged the door down to the shipfitter shop. The ship listed another 90° thus being all the way over. We had about 125 men in the C100s. After 4 hours, the men tore the door off the shipfitter shop. Water and oil came into the C100s and rose to waist level. I swam to the C.P.O. pantry and out a port hole. None came with me. I left the ship about 1300, 5 hours after the ship sank.
The story of D. Weissman, Seaman, First Class is as follows:
I was in the lower handling room of Turret IV. After the first hit, I went to the shell deck. The lights went out and the ship started to turn over. I went to the lower handling room and followed a man with a flashlight. I entered the trunk just outside of handling room on the starboard side. The lower handling room flooded completely. Water entered the trunk. I dove and swam to the bottom of the trunk and left the ship through the hatch at the main deck and swam to the surface.
Eleven men in the lower handling room of turret IV escaped through the lucky bag. When the rescue party cut a hole in the lucky bag, the
water rose rapidly but all men were removed before the water flooded the lucky bag completely.
Five men were in the five inch twenty-five caliber handling room preparatory to sending up anti-aircraft ammunition. They escaped to the five inch handling room and reduced flooding through ventilation ducts by stuffing rags in the lines. They were eventually saved by the rescue party by way of the shaft alley.
Eight men with water up to their necks were rescued from the steering compartment after these men, who had set condition "Z," were enabled to enter the steering room through the hole made for them. Three holes were made in all; pumps were in use constantly to keep the level of the water and oil below the danger point.
3. U.S.S. ARIZONA
Lieutenant Commander S. G. Fuqua wrote as follows :
I was in the ward room eating breakfast about 0755 when a short signal on the ship's air raid alarm was made. I immediately went to the phone and called the Officer-of-the-Deck to sound general quarters and then shortly thereafter ran up to the starboard side of the quarter deck to see if he had received word. On coming out of the ward room hatch on the port side, I saw a Japanese plane go by, the machine guns firing, at an altitude of about 100 feet. As I was running forward on the starboard side of the quarter deck, approximately by the starboard gangway, I was apparently knocked out by the blast of a bomb which I learned later had struck the face plate of #4 turret on the starboard side and had glanced off and gone through the deck just forward of the captain's hatch, penetrating the decks and exploding on the third deck. When I came to and got up off the deck, the ship was a mass of flames amidships on the boat deck and the deck aft was awash to about frame 90. The anti-aircraft battery and machine guns apparently were still firing at this time. Some of the ARIZONA boats had pulled clear of the oil and were lying off the stern.
At this time I attempted, with the assistance of the crews of #2 and #4 turrets to put out the fire which was coming from the boat deck and which had extended to the quarter deck. There was no water on the fire mains. However, about 14 CO2's were obtained that were stowed on the port side and held the flames back from the quarter deck enabling us to pick up wounded who were running down the boat deck out of the flames. I placed about 70 wounded and injured in the boats which had been picked up off the deck aft and landed them at the Ford Island landing.
This was completed about 0900 or 0930. Not knowing whether the Captain or the Admiral had ever reached the bridge, I had the Captain's hatch opened up, immediately after I came to, and sent officers Ensign G. B. Lennig, U.S.N.R. and Ensign J. D. Miller, U.S.N. down to search the Captain's and Admiral's cabins to see if they were there. By this time the Captain's cabin and Admiral's cabin were about waist deep in water. A search of the two cabins revealed that the Admiral and Captain were not there. Knowing that they were on board I assume that they had proceeded to the bridge. All personnel but 3 or 4 men, turrets #3 and #4, were saved.
About 0900, seeing that all guns of the anti-aircraft and secondary battery were out of action and that the ship could not possibly be saved, I ordered all hands to abandon ship.
From information received from other personnel on board, a bomb had struck the forecastle, just about the time the air raid siren sounded at 0755. A short interval thereafter, there was a terrific explosion on the forecastle, apparently from the bomb penetrating the magazine. Approximately 30 seconds later a bomb hit the boat deck, apparently just forward of the stack, one went down the stack, and one hit the face plate of #4 turret indirectly. The commanding officer of the U.S.S. VESTAL stated that 2 torpedoes passed under his vessel which was secured alongside the ARIZONA, and struck the ARIZONA.
The first attack occurred about 0755. I saw approximately 15 torpedo planes which had come in to the attack from the direction of the Navy Yard. These planes also strafed the ship after releasing their torpedoes. Shortly thereafter there was a dive bomber and strafing attack of about 30 planes. This attack was very determined, planes diving within 500 feet before releasing bombs, about 0900. There were about twelve planes in flight that I saw.
The personnel of the anti-aircraft and machine gun batteries on the ARIZONA lived up to the best traditions of the Navy. I could hear guns firing on the ship long after the boat deck was a mass of flames. I can not single out one individual who stood out in acts of heroism above the others as all of the personnel under my supervision conducted themselves with the greatest heroism and bravery.
Radioman's Mate Third Class, G. H. Lane wrote as follows:
When the attack started on December 7, 1941, it was just before 0800 and I was on the forecastle of the U.S.S. ARIZONA. I saw torpedo planes, with the rising sun insignia under their wings, attacking ships ahead of us. General alarm was then sounded and we were all told to seek cover. I went aft to the aviation workshop and helped wake men who were still sleeping there and closed battle ports in the optical shop. The order came for all hands not assigned to anti-aircraft batteries to go to the third deck.
I started for the third deck but just then General Quarters was sounded. I came back and started for my General Quarters station which is a repair station (patrol five). We were hit aft and also in one or two other places on the ship. Word came, "Fire in the Executive Officer's Office." Hurst, Bruns, Wentzlaff, and I manned a fire hose and went on the quarterdeck to connect it and fight the fire aft on the quarterdeck where the bomb had hit us. Lieutenant Commander Fuqua was at his post on the quarterdeck where the bomb had hit us. I was on the nozzle end of the hose and told Hurst and Bruns to turn on the water. They did, but no water came. I turned around to see if the hose had any kinks in it and at that time there was an explosion which knocked me off the ship. I was taken aboard the NEVADA where I was brought to my senses in a casemate (no. 3). I had been in the water because I was soaked with oil. The NEVADA was underway and I helped handle powder for the 5 inch gun. When the NEVADA was hit in the dry dock channel, the gun was put out and the ship was afire. I helped get wounded aft and fought fire until I was choked by smoke and fumes. They sent me from the NEVADA to the SOLACE where I was put to bed and cuts and bruises treated. I couldn't see either until my eyes were washed out and treated. I was released from the SOLACE December 10, and was sent to Receiving Barracks where Mr. Fuqua told me to rejoin the aviation unit at Ford Island. I saw no signs of fear on the ship. Everyone was surprised and pretty mad.
Corporal E. C. Nightingale of the U.S. Marine Corps wrote as follows:
At approximately eight o'clock on the morning of December 7, 1941, I was leaving the breakfast table when the ship's siren for air defense sounded. Having no anti-aircraft battle station, I paid little attention to it. Suddenly I heard an explosion. I ran to the port door leading to the quarterdeck and saw a bomb strike a barge of some sort alongside the NEVADA, or in that vicinity. The marine color guard came in at this point saying we were being attacked. I could distinctly hear machine gun fire. I believe at this point our anti-aircraft battery opened up. We stood around awaiting orders of some kind. General Quarters sounded and I started for my battle station in secondary aft. As I passed through casement nine I noted the gun was manned and being trained out. The men seemed extremely calm and collected. I reached the boat deck and our anti-aircraft guns were in full action, firing very rapidly. I was about three quarters of the way to the first platform on the mast when it seemed as though a bomb struck our quarterdeck. I could hear shrapnel or fragments whistling past me. As soon as I reached the first platform, I saw Second Lieutenant Simonsen lying on his back with blood on his shirt front. I bent over him and taking him by the shoulders asked if there was anything I could do. He was dead, or so nearly so that speech was impossible. Seeing there was nothing I could do for the Lieutenant, I continued to my battle station.
When I arrived in secondary aft I reported to Major Shapley that Mr. Simonson had been hit and there was nothing to be done for him. There was a lot of talking going on and I shouted for silence which came immediately. I had only been there a short time when a terrible explosion caused the ship to shake violently. I looked at the boat deck and everything seemed aflame forward of the mainmast. I reported to the Major that the ship was aflame, which was rather needless, and after looking about, the Major ordered us to leave. I was the last man to leave secondary aft because I looked around and there was no one left. I followed the Major down the port side of the tripod mast. The railings, as we ascended, were very hot and as we reached the boat deck I noted that it was torn up and burned. The bodies of the dead were thick, and badly burned men were heading for the quarterdeck, only to fall apparently dead or badly wounded. The Major and I went between No. 3 and No. 4 turret to the starboard side and found Lieutenant Commander Fuqua ordering the men over the side and assisting the wounded. He seemed exceptionally calm and the Major stopped and they talked for a moment. Charred bodies were everywhere.
I made my way to the quay and started to remove my shoes when I suddenly found myself in the water. I think the concussion of a bomb threw me in. I started swimming for the pipe line which was about one hundred and fifty feet away. I was about half way when my strength gave out entirely. My clothes and shocked condition sapped my strength, and I was about to go under when Major Shapley started to swim by, and seeing my distress, grasped my shirt and told me to hang to his shoulders while he swam in. We were perhaps twenty-five feet from the pipe line when the Major's strength gave out and I saw he was floundering, so I loosened my grip on him and told him to make it alone. He stopped and grabbed me by the shirt and refused to let go. I would have drowned but for the Major. We finally reached the beach where a marine directed us to a bomb shelter, where I was given dry clothes and a place to rest.
Aviation Machinist's Mate, First Class D. A. Graham wrote as follows:
On hearing the explosions and gun reports, Wentzlaff, E., A.O.M.2/c, came in saying we were being attacked and bombed by Jap planes. The air raid siren sounded, followed by the General Quarters alarm. I stepped outside the shop and started to my general quarters station on the quarterdeck, shouting "Let's go."
It seemed as though the magazines forward blew up while we were hooking up the fire hose, as the noise was followed by an awful "swish" and hot air blew out of the compartments. There had been bomb hits at the first start and yellowish smoke was pouring out of the hatches from below decks. There were lots of men coming out on the quarterdeck with every stitch of clothing and shoes blown off, painfully burned and
shocked. Mr. Fuqua was the senior officer on deck and set an example for the men by being unperturbed, calm, cool, and collected, exemplifying the courage and traditions of an officer under fire. It seemed like the men painfully burned, shocked, and dazed, became inspired and took things in stride, seeing Mr. Fuqua, so unconcerned about the bombing and strafing, standing on the quarterdeck. There was no "going to pieces" or "growing panicky" noticeable, and he directed the moving of the wounded and burned men who were on the quarterdeck to the motor launches and boats. He gave orders to get the life rafts on #3 barbette down, supervised the loading of the wounded and burned casualties, assisted by Ensign J. D. Miller who set a very good example for a younger officer by being cool, calm, and collected.
The signal gang, quartermasters, and all hands on the bridge went up -- as the signal men were trying to put out a fire in the signal rack and grabbing signal flags out to hoist a signal, the whole bridge went up, flames enveloping and obscuring them from view as the flames shot upward twice as high as the tops. A bomb hit on the starboard side of the after 5 inch guns and anti-aircraft gun, and got most of the marine crew and anti-aircraft crews. It seemed as though one bomb hit the port after the anti-aircraft crew and came down through the casemate and Executive Officer's office.
After the big explosion and "swish," the men painfully burned and wounded, dazed beyond comprehension, came out on the quarterdeck. I had to stop some of them from entering the flames later on and directed them over to the starboard side of the deck to the gangway for embarking, encouraging them to be calm.
The VESTAL, tied up alongside the port side, did not seem to get hit hard and started to get underway, so I stood by to cast off lines on the quarterdeck portside and cast off their bow lines as the Lieutenant Commander on her wanted to save the line to tie up to one of the buoys. Assisted by a seaman from #4 turret, we rendered the bow line around and cast her off. Then getting the small life raft on #3 turret barbette port side off and over the port stern, the water and oil being on deck, and the ship settling fast, we got orders to embark in the motor boat at the starboard stern quarter, Lieutenant Commander Fuqua and a few others still being aboard. We landed at B.O.Q. landing, Ford Island. Smith, B.M.2c, USN, boat coxswain, made many trips for wounded and burned men being delivered by Lieutenant Commander Fuqua, still on board.
Courage and performance of all hands was of the highest order imaginable, especially being handicapped by adverse conditions and shipmates being blown up alongside them. There was no disorder nor tendency to run around in confusion. The coolness and calm manner of Lieutenant Com-
mander Fuqua and Ensign J. D. Miller installed confidence in the surviving crew.
4. U.S.S. CALIFORNIA
Chief Yeoman, 8. R. Miller wrote as follows :
At about 1030, December 7, 1941, after the U.S.S. CALIFORNIA had been struck with torpedoes and bombs, a man reported to me on the Flag Bridge that he had just escaped from Central Station by the trunk leading into Flag Conn. This was reported to Ensign McGrath on the signal bridge. Stover, C. E., C.Q.M., Campbell (initials unknown), C.E.M., and I with Ensign McGrath entered Flag Conn to investigate. We obtained a line and lowered Ensign McGrath through the trunk to Central Station, which was then being flooded with fuel oil coming from vents and various other places. The oil fumes were so strong that we feared Ensign McGrath would be overcome with the fumes before the trapped men could be rescued. At this time the ship was burning fiercely and there was also danger of the ship turning over as it was listing badly. Ensign McGrath completed his investigation and returned up the trunk to Flag Conn and reported that these men were in a compartment under Central Station and might be rescued by cutting a hole through the deck of Central Station. He reported that the deck of Central Station would soon be flooded with oil and that when this occurred, it would be too late to cut the hole through the deck.
A cutting torch was quickly obtained and volunteers called for. The response of volunteers was so great among various men on the boat deck that most of them had to be returned to their stations fighting fires. Ensign McGrath, Campbell and the volunteer rescue party entered Central Station through the trunk and proceeded to cut an escape hole in the deck. Ensign McGrath and Campbell were both nearly overcome by fumes before the job was completed. The first who worked with the cutting torch was overcome by fumes and had to be replaced with another experienced man. During the time this hole was being cut, there was great danger of fire as the fuel oil was gradually working its way close to where the hole was being cut. In addition to this danger, there was danger of the ship turning over as it was straining the mooring lines badly. The hole in the deck was just cut in time before fuel oil flooded Central Station.
It is considered that Ensign McGrath, Campbell, and the several other men who assisted, accomplished saving the lives of these trapped men at great risk of their own, and therefore distinguished themselves in bravery and gallantry above and beyond the call of duty.
Under the strain and shock of the attack, it is regretted that the names
of the other enlisted men were not obtained. They acquitted themselves equally as well to the best traditions of the Naval Service.
Lieutenant Commander H. E. Bernstein wrote as follows:
I was aboard ship with the Head of Department duty sitting in my room half dressed, when the General Alarm was sounded. I ran immediately to the quarterdeck and observed two torpedo planes approaching the ship perpendicular to it at an altitude of less than one hundred feet and as I moved aft, saw two torpedoes dropped by these planes. I immediately gave orders that all ammunition be broken out and upon receiving the report that some ready boxes were locked, I gave orders that they be broken open.
The work of Commander Skillman in obtaining all available fire fighting equipment ashore was most commendable, as a very large supply including new extinguishers which were filled on the landing, arrived.
There was no sign of panic or fear displayed by any of the men on shore even when bombing planes were overhead and all continued in their work of supplying fire fighting equipment.
Electrician Linn wrote as follows:
At 0750 I left my room and went to the Warrant Officer's mess room for breakfast. I had just sat down when the word was passed "All hands to General Quarters." I heard a distant rumble, glanced out the port hole on the port side of the ship, and saw a black airplane with rising sun insignias. I immediately went to the main control room. Word was passed to set condition Zed, and about ten minutes later a torpedo hit. We started lighting off both engine rooms to get underway. About five minutes after the torpedo hit, the steam pressure slowly dropped to Zero. We received report that there was water in the fuel oil. Everything possible was being done to clear lines of salt water and get fuel oil. About 0830 we received another torpedo hit and shortly after a report came in that a bomb hit had set a large fire forward. The fire main pressure was boosted to well over 100 pounds.
Shortly after bomb hit we had steam pressure on one boiler and furnished ship with light and power from after engine room. Forward engine room had to abandon. After engine room reported main set ready to come in on line. Steam pressure again dropped to about 100 pounds. We held off putting an after main set because of low steam pressure. Orders came over J. V. phones to abandon ship. Abandon ship orders belayed. Report that hatch or port thrust buckling. Informed personnel to check logs and see that it was secure, before abandoning that area. About 1000 ordered to abandon ship which we did after dogging down all hatches. I checked motor rooms for personnel and found them clear of personnel and after dogging all hatches reported to topside.
The wounded were being taken off the ship and others were being brought to top side from third deck passage where they were overcome with fuel oil fumes. All hands returned back aboard to fight fire with aid of tugs from Navy Yard. Our attention was called to the fact that five men were trapped in the center shaft alley. The only possible way to save them was cutting through bulkhead in center motor room. The water was running in center motor room from vent trunk which leaked terribly. Water was up to main motor bearings when five men from center thrust were pulled out. These men were hurt in no way and required no medical attention. We started putting pumps in various holds and commenced pumping but the ship slowly settled at all times until it finally settled on bottom.
Ensign E. R. Blair, Jr. had these comments on machine gun ammunition:
I was in an undressed state in the forward bunk room when General Quarters sounded. The first torpedo struck as I left the bunkroom, quickly followed by the second. Zed was already set on the main deck hatches so that in order to get topside I opened the escape hatch. In the boat deck Ensign Canfield was acting as starboard battery officer and Ensign C. H. Hall as port battery officer so I rushed up to sky control to man a director. Both directors were inoperative. On the way to sky control I had noticed that machine guns number 1 and number 2 were firing but were short of ammunition. The ammunition that they were using was the 400 rounds of ready ammunition on that station.
I gathered a working party of about 10 men from the vicinity of 5 inch 51 caliber gun number 1 to bring up machine gun ammunition. We opened the amidships forecastle hatch which led to the shaft leading to the forward torpedo hold. We were under attack at the time but the men paid no heed to the enemy planes and worked quickly and eagerly. It was necessary to open five zed hatches including the armored deck hatch to get to the .50 caliber ammunition, but I believed that the need for the ammunition warranted the risk involved.
Because of the previous torpedo hits I knew that it would be impossible to get to the .50 caliber magazine via the third deck and the opening of a similar number of zed hatches would be involved. I broke out the belted ammunition, about 1600 rounds, distributed it among eight men, 200 rounds to a ready box, one ready box to a man. To each man I designated a station to which he was to take his ammunition. It was exceedingly hard going for these men to chink up the shaft with the ammunition. The ship was listing badly and they could use only one hand to chink the vertical ladders in the shaft. Every one of the men made it to the main deck. With the remaining men I commenced belting up new ammunition.
Shortly, however, we were hit again. It felt exactly as the concussion of a 5 inch/51 caliber feels when you are sitting in the pointer's seat. Two glass gauges broke and diesel oil ran out on the deck. I closed the valves and
thought that glass gauges on a battleship should be done away with. There was a leak forward and we could hear water running close at hand. I was determined to get as much ammunition out as was possible and belt it above decks. Accordingly, including two men who were on watch there, each man went topside with all he could carry. A Gunners Mate remained with the men and I instructed him to bring the clipping machine with him. He had it half unfastened when I left. The clipping machine never reached topside. When I went back for it thirty minutes later the torpedo hole was completely flooded.
From the magazine I headed for the main top, noting as I went that the main deck starboard side was a wreck; men were crawling out of the starboard forecastle hatch in a dazed condition, some badly burned. There was a neat bomb hole near 5 inch/51 caliber gun three with smoke trickling out. There was no ammunition in the maintop. I retraced my steps. On the main deck near the forecastle hatch amidst smoke and debris was the ammunition scattered over the deck with a dead man beside each ready box. Two ready boxes that could be gotten to (there was fire all around) I sent to guns numbered I and 2. I returned to the maintop hoping to find the clipping machine and the boxes of loose ammunition brought out last from the magazine. Two boxes were brought up by exhausted seamen, one of which was Shelton, S1c, 6-S Div. We turned to belting the ammunition by hand. After belting about 100 rounds "Abandon Ship" was given. Reluctantly Ensign B. C. Hall and I left without firing our belt.
Machine guns #1 and #2 were manned immediately after the enemy dropped her first bombs on Ford Island. They fired at the first planes which attacked this ship. Gun number 2, however, which could bear on the torpedo planes attacking this ship, would fire only one round without being given "immediate action" or reloading by hand. This was due to a faulty setting of the oil buffer. Gun number 1 with Price, S2c, 6-Div. firing, is credited by all men at the guns, including Lieutenant (jg) Jakeman, with the feat of bringing down the plane which attacked immediately behind the plane which scored the bomb hit to starboard. The task of getting ammunition to the .50 caliber machine guns was one for the machine gunners themselves. That they didn't carry out their job was due principally to the fact that they were stopped by officers and put in the 5 inch/25 and 3 inch/50 ammunition supply lines where they did heroic work. Another reason was that Montgomery A.F., GM1c, who was in charge of the .50 caliber machine gun ammunition supply, had been temporarily detached for patrol duty ashore. The man next in charge after Montgomery, a GM3c did not have the experience to cope with the situation.
Machine Gunners who should be mentioned for their heroic work in ammunition supply line below decks and later in saving lives at the risk of their own were Bell, GM3c, Doran, S1c, Nix, S1c, and Cleveland, S1c, all of 6-P Division.
Ensign W. A. J. Lewis wrote as follows:
General Quarters was sounded and I proceeded at once to the Forward Engine Room. The room was fully manned within a few minutes and I gave the order to set all condition on the Damage Control Fittings. We had just shifted F. O. suction to the starboard battle tanker when we got the word from the oil king to make the shift. I checked the light and power machines and found them operating properly. I instructed the watch to watch all trips closely and if anything tripped out to reset it and hold it in if necessary. The first torpedo hit came just as I was reaching the engine room. It knocked out about one half of the lights in the machine ship and about one fourth of the lights in the engine room. No machinery was tripped or put out of commission by this hit. An inspection of the engine room showed that we had suffered no visible damage. I ordered a main feed pump put on the line along with both main fuel oil pumps. We had just started warming up the main plant when we got reports that #1 boiler was getting water in its fuel oil. Steam pressure dropped rapidly so we secured from warming up main set, secured main circulator, and steam fuel oil pumps.
After the second torpedo hit, we began to get large quantities of smoke down the ventilator blowers so we secured the ventilators. Smoke still came down and word was received that gas was present. We could detect nothing but powder gases so did not put on gas masks. Later on the smoke became thicker so I directed some of the men to put on their masks. They found a certain amount of relief by doing so; mainly I think because it took certain irritating particles out of the air and also because it protected the eyes. The smoke seemed to be coming now from burning paint rather than powder. The smoke began to take effect on the crew so I ordered all hands except the talker on the upper level to go down to the lower level where the air was somewhat better. The forward part of the engine room had become very hot and the metal in some places was too hot to touch. This accounted for some of the paint fumes as the paint had begun to blister.
When the order came to abandon ship, (we did not receive the first order) I directed the men to leave these stations and go up after hatch. They did so but for some reason they could not get the watertight door above the hatch open. We then tried to open the forward hatch but the metal in that area was so hot that it led us to believe that there was a big fire just above us. We got all the fire extinguishers in the engine room and all the extra clothes we could find to wrap around ourselves and began to try to force the forward hatch. At about this time we were assisted from above and the hatch was opened. The fire was just forward of us so we proceeded aft and came up on deck. By this time the ship had been abandoned but the crew was rapidly returning to fight the fire in the midships section.
The conduct of the crew was excellent. There was no confusion and each man manned his station and obeyed orders without question or delay. Even at the time when all hands began to feel that we were going to be trapped below there was no hysteria or excitement.
The Acting Engineer Officer, Lieutenant C. A. Peterson wrote as follows:
I went to Main Control immediately when General Quarters was sounded. As soon as communications were manned I ordered the after steam lines warmed up, all boilers lighted off, and both main sets warmed up and made ready for getting underway. Reports that General Quarters was set were received from all engineering stations. Shortly thereafter a heavy shock was felt and a report was received that a torpedo had hit the ship. (These events all happened in very rapid succession, and I am not sure of the sequence. I believe that the torpedo hit before the reports of all stations had been received.) About ten minutes after the torpedo hit the steam pressure started dropping. Number 1 fireroom (which had been steaming for auxiliary) reported water in the fuel oil. The forward fuel oil suction was at this time, and had been for 10 or 15 minutes, on the starboard battle tanks. I ordered a shift to the starboard loop and called the oil king by phone for consultation. He informed me that he had tried the starboard battle tanks, starboard loop, and engine room bottoms, but had been unable to get any good oil. I ordered the forward auxiliary fuel oil pump stopped and the fuel oil loop opened all the way around in order to get fuel from an after suction to #1 fireroom. I ordered all forward firerooms to run the water from their burner connections to the bilges in order to clear the line of water. I also ordered all after firerooms to light off under natural draft using as many burners as possible. The after boilers reported that the oil was too cold to burn. I ordered them to keep trying and told Emergency Boiler Control to get a blow torch to heat the oil in the burner line to one of the after boilers. The forward light and power machines had been tripped out and the steam pressure rapidly dropped to zero. About this time a second torpedo hit the ship. A report was received from port thrust block room that it was filling with water rapidly. Orders were given to abandon the station. After gyro reported a short time later that the hatch from port thrust was bulging and leaking and that station (after gyro) was ordered abandoned and secured. Prior to this it had been necessary to allow the Forward Torpedo Air Compressor crew and the Forward S. E. Air Compressor crew to abandon their stations due to heavy leakage of fuel oil into those spaces. Not long after the second torpedo hit, a bomb hit was reported in the machinery passageway. This turned out later to have been the bomb that exploded in A611s. The forward engine room reported that they were getting a great deal of smoke and had stopped their blowers, also that the bulkheads and overhead were getting hot. Fuel not having been regained on # 1 fireroom, and since the fires had been suc-
cessfully lighted in #6 boiler, I ordered the main steam cut outs in the after engine room closed to keep all the steam that we were about to get for the after main set and after light and power machines. The fuel oil loop had previously been isolated between the forward and after engineering spaces, as the large amount of water being forced out of the forward lines dropped the pressure aft. The forward auxiliary fuel oil pump was started again and continued effort was made to find good oil for the forward boilers. This had still not been accomplished when the engine room was abandoned. Number 6 boiler came in on the line and about five minutes later number 5 boiler came in on the line. The after light and power machines were started as soon as one boiler was on the line, and light and power were restored to the ship. Numbers 3 and 4 bilge pumps were pat on the firemain. Shortly after this I got a call via ships service telephone from emergency boiler control and was asked, 'Did you get the word in Main Control to abandon ship?' By this time the after engine room and some of the firerooms had gotten this word and started to abandon. I ordered them stopped while I verified this order. Conn said that no such order had been given. The men were ordered to return to their stations, and they did so with such speed that none of the operations which they had been engaged in were interfered with. That is, the boilers centered to steam and the light and power machines to run. Shortly after this the Chief Engineer came down to Main Control and assumed charge. The after main set was ready to roll and word was requested from Conn if it were intended to get underway. As I recall it the answer was in the negative. A short time later word was received from Conn to abandon ship. It was stated to be on the authority of Commander Battle Force. Orders were accordingly given to all stations which were abandoned in an orderly manner. Fires were cut in the steaming boilers and the light and power machines slowed down and stopped. All spaces leading from the engineering passageway were checked and found to be abandoned. All watertight doors were closed securely, and with the space abandoned the Chief Engineer and I came topside. When we got to the quay Captain Smith was directing everyone to go back and fight the fire. After a slight confusion due to this conflicting order, the crew started fighting the fire in the casemates with buckets and portable fire extinguishers. From the time that #6 boiler came on the line until the engineering spaces were abandoned, the firemain pressure had been kept at 75 pounds or more continuously. The rapid stroke of the two pumps on the line (I could hear them) indicated that they were pumping large quantities of water.
Chief Electrician, R. w. Miller wrote as follows:
The morning of December 7,1941, about 0750, while seated in the W. O. mess room at breakfast, I heard an unusual rattle of machine gun fire and an explosion from the vicinity of the Navy Yard Dry Dock. The General
Alarm sounded and I seemed to know without further thought that we had been attacked and that it was not just another drill. A quick glance out the port in the mess room verified this. There in full view and an easy target was a gray plane on an opposite course paralleling our heading at the mooring.
I ran to my room for my gas mask, etc. and then for the Central Station, my battle station. On reaching the ladder to the Central Station an explosion occurred seeming to come from forward; this I took to be a torpedo. Condition Zed was immediately set around the Central Station and plotting room area. Officers present in plot were Lieutenant Purdy, Ensign Relley and Ensign Joys and in Central Station Ensign Walker and myself. In short order we had communications established with what was available. Some excitement existed at the start but things soon quieted down to almost routine.
Upon arriving at Central I had the compasses started, made preparations to live up telegraphs, etc. for getting underway, and called the forward and after distribution switch boards to see how they were getting along and if everyone had reached his station. We seemed to be well manned and all had responded to the G. A. instantly. About this time, 0810 or 0815, the ship had a port list. Chief Yeoman Baldwin acted as D.C.O. and ordered starboard voids to be flooded to counter our list. In about 10 more minutes there was a terrific explosion almost under our feet; we knew this to be a torpedo. The list increased and Baldwin continued to counter flood.
Word came into Central for power for the hoists to get up ammunition. I was asked if there wasn't some auxiliary power and told the ammunition the only auxiliary power was to use the hand hoisting gear. All lights were off but the auxiliary lights came on nicely. About this time word came in that the port lower 5 inch handling room was flooding. I left Central and went down to check to see if any more ammunition could be sent up before the boys abandoned this station. The water was about knee deep and pouring down the hoist. I ordered the handling room abandoned and had hoist flaps and the watertight door secured. The crew to this station went up to Plot and we secured the trunk to the forward distribution room. Mr. Walker and myself were quite concerned with the list which by now was 8°, checked with Baldwin frequently to see that all starboard voids were being flooded, and we were assured that they were. This concern was amplified by the fact that we had received a report that the OKLAHOMA was bottom side up.
Explosions were felt at intervals but no damage reports came in. The fire alarm annunciator dropped from the magazines and started dropping, indicating them to be either on fire or flooded and the bell rang incessantly. I ordered the fire alarm bell to be cut out to stop the noise. I called up the forward board and pleaded with Ensign Gavin to see if he could get us power and was informed that there was water in the fuel oil. I then
called main control to find out if they couldn't use the steering batteries for power on the after distribution board. I called Ensign Gavin again to contact the engine room for power and was informed it would be on in a short while. About this time, 0830 or 0840, a crashing explosion just overhead and to the starboard side led me to believe that a 5 inch magazine had gone since the fire alarm drops had indicated them on fire or flooded.
All equipment seemed to hang together nicely especially the ship's service telephones. Anything that was secured held fine; only a few loose things flew around a bit.
The telephone cabinet doors jumped out a little and we were all jolted but no harm was done below. The overhead of Central Stations started to drip fuel oil and water and we knew that the deck above us was flooded. We put buckets under the leaks. Price, Chief Electrician's Mate, called me in the room to look at the leaks. I found the bulkhead between Main Radio and the IC Room buckled and the frames bent with some water squirting through but it looked as though it would hold for awhile. Sweavey, CM1/C, at the after gyro called up and said the hatch to the port thrust was bulging and so I ordered him out and told him to secure the hatch to the third deck. Sweavey is missing and a fine boy he was. The list had decreased some to about 6 1/2 degrees and then increased again. Word was received in Central that they were dropping thermite bombs. Lights and power came on in Central again around 0840 approximately. When the word to abandon ship came we left through the Conning Tower tube. Things on top were a mess. I got a life jacket and after reaching the float promptly, fell in the oil being temporarily blinded. A truck picked me up and carried me to the new BOQ where I received treatment for my eyes and some dry clothes.
Gunner's Mate, Third Class, V. O. Jensen wrote as follows:
During the air raid Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, Robert Scott of the 'A' Division was in waist deep water and fuel oil and refused to leave his station after we had gotten word to abandon our compartment. I called to him and told him everyone else had abandoned the compartment but he insisted on staying; .'s long as I can give these people air, I'm sticking.' His station was on the Forward Air Compressor by Main G.S.K. Things were blacking out for me so I was forced to leave the compartment and I never saw him afterwards.
Ensign Champion wrote of a rescue party which freed five men from the Center Thrust Block Room.
After the engagement Sunday I was standing on the quarterdeck organizing a party to rescue five men trapped in Center thrust. Campbell CEM, ran up to the men and said Ensign Gavin and several other men were trapped in the forward distribution board and could be rescued by cutting
through the plotting room deck. Taking the men I had with me, we went to the foundry and removed the acetylene cutting outfit. We then proceeded to the conning tower. Ensign McGrath was there and asked me to keep everybody out of Central Station except a group of picked men. He then went down to Central Station with several men including Campbell, CEM, and Rountree, F1c. We lowered the cutting outfit down to them and then procured a sledge hammer and some chisels which we also lowered to them. Ensign McGrath shouted up that the fuel oil fumes were very bad. We tried to rig a blower in the conning tower tube, but no power was available. The trapped men were rescued just before Central Station was flooded with fuel oil.
5. U.S.S. MARYLAND
Ensign W. O. Beach of Commander Battleships Staff wrote as follows:
Having the Communication Staff Duty, I was on board during the subject action and had just finished eating breakfast a minute or two before the first alarm. I was still sitting in the wardroom when I heard a short burst of machine gun fire which was immediately followed by the sounding of General Quarters. When General Quarters was sounded I walked to one of the open Ward Room ports and looked out, seeing a plane swoop up over the OKLAHOMA and MARYLAND, the plane having evidently just dropped a torpedo. I then walked aft to the Flag Office, finding Ensign Bradway there, getting what information he could from Radio Central and telephoning it to Flag Plot. Leaving the Flag Office, I went up the ladder to the port side of the quarterdeck and saw numerous Japanese aircraft were bombing us and that the OKLAHOMA was already listing to port. Returning to Ward Room country, I sent the mess boys to close the Ward Room ports and saw that Ensign Bradway was having the ports in the Flag Office closed.
* * * * *
A group of men from the OKLAHOMA, standing near number three turret on the starboard side, asked for orders; I directed them to dog down the hatch leading to Officers' Country, forward on the starboard side, which was still open and then get below the protective deck. On returning to the Flag Bridge, I found there was nothing in particular that I could do in Flag Radio so stayed out on the bridge to take Lt. Comdr. Home's place as best I could until he returned to the ship.
* * * * *
I did not note very carefully the type or number of planes attacking although there must have been fifty or more all told. Most of them seemed
to be a low wing dive bomber type and their markings ( the rising sun on the wings and fuselage) , were very distinct. They seemed to attack in three or four waves, bombing and dropping torpedoes, the first and main attack being a torpedo attack. Our anti-aircraft guns were relatively slow coming into action but it was amazing to me how fast they did get into action considering the circumstances. The attacks were centered on the heavy ships with other attacks being made on Hickam Field and the Naval Air Station. I saw only one plane shot down during the action. This plane was hit squarely and blown to pieces as it dived on the Naval Air Station. I observed another plane apparently disabled and headed for a crash. This plane was going from Pearl toward Hickam Field when last seen.
Commander E. Kranzfelder of the Staff of Commander Battleships wrote as follows:
Commander Sabin and I were at the Moana Hotel in Honolulu when, at approximately 0820 on the morning of December 7th, we received a call from the telephone operator telling us that an emergency existed at Pearl Harbor and that we should return to our ships as soon as possible. We proceeded to Pearl Harbor as expeditiously as possible and arrived on board the MARYLAND at about 0925.
Upon boarding the MARYLAND I proceeded immediately to the bridge. While on the bridge a man from the OKLAHOMA contacted me and stated that assistance was required on the OKLAHOMA and that there was urgent need for cutting equipment. At this time Lieutenant Mandelkorn proceeded to the OKLAHOMA to assist in the rescue work. A short time later I informed the Admiral that I believed I could be of assistance in connection with the rescue work on the OKLAHOMA and he directed me to do all I could to release any entrapped personnel. Before leaving the MARYLAND I obtained a copy of the OKLAHOMA booklet of plans for use in connection with the cutting of holes in the OKLAHOMA's hull.
With the energetic assistance of Lieutenant Mandelkorn the efforts of the rescue group were organized. Lines were rigged from the bilge keel at intervals along the bottom, telephone communication was established with the MARYLAND, an air supply line was quickly rigged from the MARYLAND to the OKLAHOMA, strainers were removed from main injections and over board discharge in an attempt to gain access to the engine room. Contact was established with two men entrapped in the evaporator pump room through a small overboard discharge connection in the hull. Food and water was passed down to these men. From information obtained from these men as to their location in the ship and with the aid of the booklet of plans it was possible to determine the best locations to cut access holes in the ship's bottom. Since, with the exception of the reserve feed bottoms, practically the entire bottom of the OKLAHOMA
consists of oil tanks, considerable care had to be exercised in cutting holes with an oxyacetylene torch in order not to open holes in the bottom which would permit the egress of oil with the attendant fire hazard. Fortunately the information obtained from the entrapped men was correct and entrance holes were out in a cofferdam. In the meantime Lieutenant Commander W. L. Benson had arrived on the OKLAHOMA and since I considered that Lieutenant Mandelkorn's and my services would be required in connection with the remaining battleships in distress, we returned to the MARYLAND and I reported to the Admiral that the rescue work had been placed in charge of Lieutenant Commander Benson who would keep me advised of the progress and of any additional assistance or equipment he needed for the rescue work.
During the remainder of the day and until after midnight Lieutenant Mandelkorn and I made numerous trips to the other battleships in distress. I considered that we could be of most use in coordinating the delivery of essential salvage equipment such as submersible pumps, diving equipment and arranging for tug service for the CALIFORNIA and NEVADA. At about 1930 the list on the CALIFORNIA had increased to about 9° and recommendations were made to the Commanding Officer to counter flood two of the; starboard firerooms to prevent the ship from capsizing. Likewise, arrangements were made with Commander Base Force to carry out two anchors from the bow of the NEVADA to prevent her from slipping further into the channel.
At about 2100 Lieutenant Mandelkorn and I were aboard the tug VIREO when all batteries in the harbor opened fire on approaching planes. A short time after firing subsided, a man was rescued from the water over the stern of the VIREO. The man was placed in a stretcher and taken on board the CALIFORNIA. From conversations with personnel of the VIREO it was learned that he had been in an ENTERPRISE plane.
Of the observations as to conduct of personnel that came to my notice during the day, I consider that of Lieutenant Commander W. L. Benson, Engineer Officer of the OKLAHOMA as outstanding. His vigorous efforts in connection with the work of rescuing his entrapped shipmates on the OKLAHOMA deserves recognition.
Commander W. F. Fitzgerald, Jr., Operations Officer, Staff of Commander Battleships wrote as follows:
I was the regularly assigned Staff Duty Officer on the morning of 7 December 1941 . . . Shortly before 8 o'clock I was undressed and ready to take a bath when I became conscious of intermittent explosions. I quickly jumped into my trousers and grabbed a hat and blouse and started for the topside. I was hardly out of my room when General Quarters were sounded. I proceeded immediately to the Flag Bridge, telling all men I encoun-
tered enroute to the bridge to man their battle stations and to be calm. Upon arrival on topside, which I estimate to be about 8 o'clock, I noticed smoke, flame and many explosions throughout the harbor. I believe I heard machine gun fire from the MARYLAND at this time but I am not positive. I am conscious of having seen the OKLAHOMA upright but with a perceptible list to port. My first glance did not indicate to me that she was rolling over. Heavy explosions continued. Upon arrival on the Flag Bridge I immediately checked with Captain Godwin to see if he was making all preparations for getting underway. He said that he was. Shortly after my arrival on the Flag Bridge, Captain W. R. Carter, Chief of Staff, said, "We can't do much good up here. Let's go down to the guns and give them a hand." We both proceeded to the 5" AA batteries and split up, each one doing what he could to assist in organizing the gun crews, ammunition parties, and assigning to stations men who were not otherwise engaged. During all this time the flame, smoke and noise were terrific. My memory indicates that there was some 5" gunfire on the MARYLAND upon my arrival at the guns but of this I am not certain since it was impossible to tell just who was firing, and the fact that I concentrated on getting in action guns which had not yet opened fire. I judge this time to be about 0810. At about this time I noticed Lieutenant Mandelkorn and gave him various directives such as organizing a party to obtain steel helmets for all men topside, getting air to the batteries, getting spare tools for the guns, etc. I judge that about 0815 there was sufficient air pressure to use the power rammers on the starboard battery. It was not until an appreciable interval afterwards that the port battery obtained sufficient air. However, in the meantime the port battery fired by hand power. During the ensuing 10 or 20 minutes I was greatly assisted by the cool headed actions of Anderson, Charles G., Coxswain and Heiteman, Raymond A., GM3c of the MARYLAND. The actions of these two men were outstanding in every respect. They got not only their own gun into action but also assisted other guns. It may be doing an injustice to any number of other excellent men who performed their duties in an equally outstanding manner but who, due to their location, did not come particularly under my observation.
Shortly after my arrival at the guns the OKLAHOMA rolled over. Numerous men from the OKLAHOMA swam to the MARYLAND and upon coming aboard I immediately assigned them gun stations or details in the ammunition party. After the gun crews were organized and in action, and under command of their own battery officers, I returned to the Flag Bridge. Upon arrival on the Flag Bridge I noted that a great number of bombs were still falling. A terrific explosion took place on what I thought was the stern of the TENNESSEE but which I have since learned was on the ARIZONA. A large fire was in progress on the WEST VIRGINIA. I believe it was about this time that I noted that the NEVADA was under.
way and standing down the channel. She seemed to be in good shape until about the time she arrived abreast of 10-10 dock at which time she was heavily bombed. I noted that she later turned around in the channel and was apparently aground. Up until this time I cannot definitely state that I saw any formation of enemy planes. However, I did see numerous planes which seemed to be conducting single dive bombing attacks. While on the starboard side of the Flag Bridge I felt the MARYLAND shudder from what was apparently a near miss off the port bow. Within a second or two I saw a bomb land on the forecastle of the MARYLAND and shortly thereafter (a matter of a few seconds) a large geyser of water sprung up on the starboard bow of the MARYLAND apparently from another near miss.
Within a few minutes a dive bombing attack was noted coming in from the port side across the forecastle of the MARYLAND at an altitude which appeared to be at the lowest point not over 200-250 feet. There were about six or seven planes in this particular attack. One of the planes burst into flames and crashed from what I believe was a direct hit from the 1.1" starboard battery of the MARYLAND. This was followed in a few moments by another plane which was shot down over Ford Island but which apparently was not in flames. About this time I noticed a bombing attack over the ships in the North Channel. One of the planes in flame apparently landed directly on the CURTISS. By this time the guns of both the port and starboard batteries were firing continuously at the enemy planes. The ships seemed to be recovering from the shock of the original surprise and were performing excellently. The fires on the ARIZONA and WEST VIRGINIA seemed to be increasing and frequently the MARYLAND was entirely covered with heavy black smoke. In the meantime various officers of the staff had reported back on board and had immediately taken their stations. As near as I can remember I saw Commander Battleships on the Flag Bridge for the first time about 0905.
I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of the men during the entire action. There was no panic whatever. As I went from gun to gun and ammunition party to ammunition party I noted that even though there might have been surprised and fear present every man was willing and anxious to do his bit and after only a word or two of encouragement turned to his task with zest and efficiency.
During the entire action broken clouds covered the entire sky. There were many patches of blue but in general the clouds and smoke made a low ceiling.
Various tugs, lighters, and small boats were directed by Commander Battleships to proceed to the WEST VIRGINIA and ARIZONA to assist in putting out the fire. In addition rescue parties were sent to the OKLAHOMA, which by now had rolled over about 150 degrees, in order to cut holes in the bottom and rescue the men who were trapped inside.
In regards to extinguishing the fires, two incidents stand out prominently in my mind. One was the action of Garbage Lighter YG-17 which, without hesitation, went alongside the WEST VIRGINIA and for over 24 hours poured water on the flames both on the ship and on the edge of the burning fuel on the water. The other was the outstanding action of a motor whaleboat from the HONOLULU which made repeated trips directly along the edge of the burning fuel oil on the water in order to extinguish it and prevent its spreading. This boat repeatedly caught fire itself but as soon as the flames were extinguished would return to its task of extinguishing the dangerous fire on the water. Incidentally, this fire on the water was a real menace to all the ships at the interrupted quay wall. Extraordinary efforts were made by all concerned to keep the flames away from the TENNESSEE and the MARYLAND.
At some time during the morning I saw an explosion in the vicinity of the PENNSYLVANIA and at another time saw a destroyer in drydock being blown up. It was not until later in the morning that I realized the CALIFORNIA had been badly damaged. I had noticed that she was hit but at first did not appreciate the heavy list which I subsequently noticed.
Lieutenant Commander D. H. Johnston of Commander Battleships Staff wrote as follows:
About 0825, December 7, I received information via phone regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor. At this time I was at my home, Apt. 29, Edgewater Beach.
I proceeded to Pearl Harbor with Comdr, Curts, CincPac Staff and Ens. Tyng, U.S.S. HELENA. Enroute we observed heavy smoke over Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field. At the Fleet Landing I embarked in a MARYLAND motor launch in company with Commander Haines, Lt.Comdr , Home and several other officers attached to the MARYLAND. At this time the second attack began. Planes plainly marked as JAPANESE were dive bombing on the vessels in the harbor. Heavy AA fire was being maintained by all vessels in the Yard and harbor,
Upon arrival on board about 0915 I proceeded directly to my station in Flag Plot, supervising the recording of information and plotting such contacts as were received,
At 1030 Captain Bode (OKLAHOMA) was directed to go to the Naval Air Station to take charge of survivors from the disabled ships and to arrange for delivery of ammunition.
By this time oil from the ARIZONA burning on the surface of the harbor was being blown down on the TENNESSEE, WEST VIRGINIA and the MARYLAND. The Yard garbage lighter YG-17 took position on the port quarter of the WEST VIRGINIA and rendered invaluable service in fighting the fire, She maintained her position in spite of repeated ex-
plosions of ammunition in the WEST VIRGINIA's ready boxes. Several ships' boats assisted by cutting in close to the flames and using CO2 extinguishers. At 1142 the U.S.S. TERN was directed to assist.
About 1300 divers reported on board and under the direction of commander Kranzfelder and Lieutenant Mandelkorn proceeded with rescue operations on the hull of the U.S.S. OKLAHOMA.
I had no opportunity to observe the conduct of the men during the actual engagement except for the crews of small boats which continued returning personnel to their ships in spite of the bombing attacks. The conduct and spirit of the men after the engagement I considered excellent.
Lieutenant E. P. Holmes, Staff of Commander Battleships, wrote as follows:
Early in the morning of December 7, 1941, I was proceeding with Lieut. Comdr. (MC) A. C. Hohn en route to Fort Shafter. We observed
the sky in the general location of Pearl Harbor to be filled with bursts and heard heavy firing.
We decided to proceed to Pearl Harbor and to go to our ship. Enroute we observed the firing to continue and at one point saw a great explosion in or near Pearl Harbor which we thought to be an oil tank explosion, but which we have come subsequently to believe to have been the explosion of the ARIZONA.
I saw numerous groups of airplanes in the sky, but have no knowledge of their identity or number. I noted at this time that there was considerable cloud-cover over most of Pearl; otherwise clear.
When we arrived in the Yard the first attack was over. I ran to the Officers' Club Landing; Lieut. Comdr. Hohn stopped near the Fleet Landing to attend to some injured men who were just beginning to get ashore. At the Landing I saw the OKLAHOMA had turned over. Great fires on the surface of the water were burning near the WEST VIRGINIA and ARIZONA, completely obscuring the latter. The WEST VIRGINIA was already settling low in the water. I jumped in the first boat available, ComDesRon One gig, with a junior officer from the CALIFORNIA; left him at the CALIFORNIA (he stepped from the boat to the Main Deck of the CALIFORNIA); and proceeded to the MARYLAND, arriving at about 0840-0850. A lull in the attack occurred at this time and when I boarded the MARYLAND. I went to my room to put on some shoes and get binoculars, Signal Book and revolver. While there another attack started. As soon as I could get out (Main Deck hatches were closed at this time), I proceeded to the Signal Bridge, passing over the Boat Deck. Somewhere enroute I felt a considerable shock which I thought a near miss. In passing across the Boat Deck I noted a large number of empty cartridge cases. All hands at the guns seemed to be very tense but collected and determined.
I remained on the Signal Bridge the rest of the day. Much intermittent firing occurred and several groups of Japanese planes were sighted and fired at. The planes observed were single-wing, single-motored types of moderate speed, probably not over 200 m.p.h. at the most. I saw but one that gave evidence of being hit in the air. It was over the location of Hickam Field; broke into smoke and appeared to be in difficulty but I did not see it crash.
When the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet order was received not to sortie our bridge passed it by visual to the PHOENIX, RALEIGH, and DETROIT who were underway. When later the order was intercepted for all cruisers and destroyers to sortie we made a hoist to all cruisers and destroyers to sortie indicating the originator as the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet.
When the fire was raging in and alongside the WEST VIRGINIA, YG17 promptly and without orders put its bow into the fire and pumped
water onto it for hours. The TERN and WIDGEON were ordered by Commander Battleships to assist. Their able work eventually checked the fire. At one point in this fire fighting episode a motor whale boat from the HONOLULU expended CO2 extinguishers in the fire by the WEST VIRGINIA by making repeated runs along the edge of the fire. Each time this was done the sides of the boat broke into flames, which had to be put out before the next run. The heat was so intense that the men in the boat had to lean way over the unexposed side to protect themselves.
The MARYLAND delivered a heavy AA fire from all AA batteries on each occasion of opening up. The 1.1 mounts near the Signal Bridge functioned very well. It is believed, however, that both these guns and the .50 cal. machine guns had a tendency to open fire at too great ranges. This was caused, no doubt, by eagerness to engage the enemy but should be guarded against in the future.
After the WEST VIRGINIA fire had been brought under control, YG-17 and the TERN were directed to shift their efforts to the fire burning in the ARIZONA. This was done in the forenoon of December 8. During that same day the NAVAJO reported to Commander Battleships for orders. After determining that the CALIFORNIA did not need her services she was likewise ordered to assist in fighting the fire in the ARIZONA.
The Executive Officer of U.S.S. Tennessee, Commander Colin Campbell wrote as follows:
At 0800 Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, I was at my residence in Waikiki, Honolulu, T. H., on authorized liberty. At about that time I heard what appeared to be gun fire, and which I first thought to be target practice of some kind. Shortly after, word came over the radio that Pearl Harbor was being attacked by Japanese planes, and all service personnel should proceed at once to their stations. I started immediately by automobile to Pearl Harbor, but the traffic congestion was such that I did not arrive until about 0915. I went to the Officer's Club Landing. Bombing planes were still attacking. I was finally able to commander a boat. The TENNESSEE was moored inboard of the WEST VIRGINIA at berth F-6. The WEST VIRGINIA had been sunk and was on fire. The ARIZONA, about 75 feet astern of the TENNESSEE had been sunk and was on fire, and oil was burning on the water. I landed on Ford Island and about 0940 was able to get aboard over a pipe line. I went to the signal bridge and assumed command until the arrival of the Captain about 1000: Lieutenant Commander J. W. Adams, Jr., who had the head of Department duty, had been in command and was on the signal bridge. The stern of the TENNESSEE was on fire, and fires were raging on the ARIZONA and WEST VIRGINIA, threatening destruction of this ship. The officers on the bridge of the WEST VIRGINIA informed me that her after magazines had
been flooded, but that efforts had been made to flood the forward magazines, but as the second deck was under water they were not sure that they had succeeded. I told them that their magazines must be flooded at all costs, as this ship was relatively undamaged and must be saved. When the Captain came aboard he directed me to go aft and take charge on the quarterdeck, where I remained practically continuously supervising the fire fighting on this ship and against the oil fires on the water coming from the ARIZONA, until about sundown Tuesday the 9th, by which time the oil fires on the ARIZONA had been extinguished by this ship and yard tugs. The fires aft on this ship were under control by about 1030 Sunday morning, but continued to break out sporadically for the next couple of days due to the intense heat from the ARIZONA oil fires. During this time our main engines were run ahead and the wash from the propellers very successfully helped wash the burning oil astern, assisted by hoses from this ship. The TENNESSEE was wedged between the sunken WEST VIRGINIA and the forward quay, preventing any movement ahead. As long as the intense fires raged on the ARIZONA, the TENNESSEE was constantly in danger.
For me to mention the especially distinguished conduct of any particular individual would detract from the bravery, calmness, and efficiency of all officers and men. The conduct of all hands was superb, and I am proud of everyone of them. I cannot help, however, mentioning at this time the distinguished conduct of Lieutenant Commander J. W. Adams, Jr., the gunnery officer; and that of Chief Boatswain L. W. Adkins, who had charge of the repair party fighting the fires aft, and whose leadership and heroic conduct helped to save the ship by keeping the fires under control.