Manus and Drydock

I found these sets of pictures from the USS Boston Cruise book:

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Manus is an island in the Admiralty Island chain, just north of New Guinea.  There is an exceptional port called Seeadler Habor at it’s northeast corner.  It was here, after the japanese were defeated on the island, that the navy set up a floating drydock.  In late November, the USS Boston entered the drydock and her boilers were overhauled, she was painted stem to stern and she was relaunched by mid-December.

Here, she enters drydock:

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The ship in drydock:

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Working on the ship:

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All hands were required to help paint:

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EARLY DECEMBER ABOARD THE BOSTON

1943: December 1st was the last day of Liberty in San Francisco. The ship has been reprovisioned and has taken on some new crewmembers and marines hitching a ride to their first destination: Pearl Harbor. The Boston pulls out of San Francisco Bay on 12/2 heading west. On December 6, the day before the two-year anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Boston lines up with other ships waiting to enter P.H. When they enter, the men aboard see the devastation all around.  The Battleship Oklahoma is belly-up and on her side.  Oil is still spewing out. Then the Boston eases into it’s berth on Battleship Row, right next to the sunken Arizona, watery grave of  1,100 sailors. The men spent the next month and a half at Pearl Harbor; daily war exercises and drills with other ships in Hawaiian waters, and weekend liberty in Honolulu.

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USS Arizona

1944: After arriving in Seeadler Harbor (in the Admiralty Island of Manus north of New Guinea) the Boston, was in drydock for boiler repairs and a new paintjob from Nov 21 through Dec 9.  The war in and around the Philippine Archipelago raged on unabated while the men and their ship was away.

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1945: After the Surrender of Japan, a Demilitarization Task Group was formed, with the Boston in command. The men spent the month of December ranging up and down the coasts of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, destroying suicide subs and boats and seizing weapons.

LATE NOVEMBER ON THE BOSTON

1943:  After transiting the Panama Canal on Tuesday, Nov. 23, the Boston anchored at Balboa Harbor. The men were given afternoon liberty in Balboa City. They departed Balboa and headed north on the 24th. The men feasted on Thanksgiving Day off the coast of California on Thursday, the 25th. The ship entered San Francisco Bay on the 28th.  The men had liberty in San Francisco through Dec 1.

1944: The Boston, a capital ship of Task Group 38.1 (under the command of William Halsey) spent most of November in constant combat off the Philippines. By then the ships were experiencing their first encounters with the Japanese “Special Attack Corps” – also known as “Devil Divers” or kamikazes (“Divine Wind”) – that would extract a murderous toll on the men and ships of the US Navy by war’s end.  On Nov, 21 the Boston was ordered south to the Admiralty Islands into drydock for a quick overhaul of her boilers.  She detached from her Task Group and headed south on the 22nd. The ship remained there for two weeks.  Thanksgiving was celebrated in Seeadler Harbor, off Manus Island, at the naval-base in the Admiralty Islands. Manus Island is south of the Equator between New Guinea and the Caroline Islands.

Oceania.ai

1945: After the Surrender of Japan, a Demilitarization Task Group was formed, with the Boston in command. The men spent the month of November ranging up and down the coasts of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.  They were tasked with seizing weapons and destroying suicide subs and boats.  Thanksgiving was spent off the coast of Japan.

Drydock at Manus Island

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Manus Island is a part of the Admiralty Islands off the coats of New Guinea.  In 1942, the Japanese established a military base on Manus island.  This base became a problem for the US, since it strategically interfered with shipping from the west coast of the US to Australia.  Operation BREWER (which the USS Boston did not participate in), attacked the Admiralty Islands on February 29th, 1944.  Manus Island was caputured and Seeadler Habor was established as a base by the US Navy.

The USS Boston arrived on November 21st at Seeadler Harbor on Manus Island to dry dock and repair her boilers.  Among the constant reminders of war seen by the men on the USS Boston, must have been the remains of the USS  Mount Hood.  On November 10th, just 11 days before the Bostron arrived at Seealer harbor, the USS Mount Hood exploded.  It was loaded with ammunition, and at 8:55am a small flash was noticed, followed by 3800 tons of ammunition exploding.  Only small fragments of the ship were left.  18 ships were damaged in the harbor and 378 people died and 372 were wounded in this tragic accident.

Later I’ll describe the Boston’s trip to Manus Island.

-Bill

WWII Naval Training Facility – Sampson NY

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My Father, as well as many other recruits for the USS Boston, was trained at the Naval Training Center at Sampson New York, on the edge of Lake Geneva.  Other centers included the Naval Training Center in San Diego California, Great Lakes Illinois,  Bainbridge Maryland, and Farragut Idaho.

Induction at the training facility was a two step process, for the first three weeks inductees where kept in a detention facility to ensure that communicable diseases were confined, this was a full training facility limited to the first three weeks.  Inductees were then transferred to the main camp for the remainder of their training.

Inductees were vaccinated, and carefully screened for medical and dental issues.  They were tested and evaluated for mechanical competence, mathematical skills, english and spelling.    They were also tested for hearing including pitch and rhythm.  Their scores were noted and they started to sort the trainees into their naval assignments.

The daily life of a Naval Trainee tried to approximate ship life.  Each separate barracks were treated like an individual ship.  At 5:45am everyone awoke, had 15 minutes to stow and clean their bed area, exercise for 15 minutes, shower and clean stations, have a muster formation, and eat breakfast.  After breakfast, their would be marching and three sets of drills.  Then remove bedding which was airing out, prepare your mess kit and noon was dinner.  After 55 minutes, drill call followed by an afternoon of march, assembly, drill, repeat.  At 16:30 retreat from athletic activities.  On liberty days there was a 45 minute liberty from 16:45 to 17:15 then you assemble your mess gear and march to supper.

Religious services on sunday were mandatory at Sampson, every sailor must attend.  Guests were permissible at Sampson, but only on sunday between 1300 and 1630.  The only permissible guests were Father, Mother, Wife, or siblings, no girlfriends or other friends.

Sampson processed thousands of Naval trainees in world war II.  For more info check out this link.

Bill Kelly