My father served on the Boston during WWll. He was assigned to the ship while it was still being built and spent months in the city of Boston barracked at the Fargo Building. He almost never spoke of the war or his Navy days to his family. When he died four years ago, my brothers, my sister and myself could only remember a handful of anecdotes that he shared with us.
After he died, I spent three years researching and writing a book about his service on the Boston, titled “A Bird’s Eye View.” Many years earlier, a copy of a diary written by one of dad’s shipmates, Frank Studenski was given to me (the details are spelled in the book). Using Frank’s Diary and a mountain of info from the internet, I was able to piece together the remarkable story of the Boston and what her crew endured.
The task was a bit daunting, to say the least. I was never in the Navy. In my entire life I stepped aboard a ship 4 times: as a boy scout I visited “Old Ironsides” in Boston, and in the last four years I have visited the Missouri at Pearl Harbor, the Hornet at Oakland, CA, and the USS Salem (the only heavy cruiser still afloat) at the Quincy MA shipyard – where the Boston was built.
The book was completed in the early months of this year, and is available on Amazon and on my website: www.ussbostonbook.org.
In the few months that the book has been available, to my knowledge two of my father’s shipmates have read the book. One crewmember and his wife have invited me to their home for dinner and an overnight stay. The other emailed me “I have already read it and it is great. You say it just the way it was! I loved it. Brought back memories that I had forgotten a long time ago.” A few emails later, he ordered five more books – one for each of his children. I am very gratified by their response to my book.
A few months ago, my younger brother Bill and I decided to start this blog site, devoted to the Boston during WWll in the Pacific. We are not experts, we are not Navy guys, we are not part of any organization. We are not affiliated with any other group or website. We’re just a couple of guys with enthusiasm about our dad’s ship, the action she saw, and what the guys endured while serving our country and fighting our declared enemy.
1944: On Dec 9, the Boston weighed anchor after more than two weeks in drydock in Seeadler Harbor. The ship headed north to rejoin the rest of the ships of the Task Force anchored in Ulithi Lagoon. They arrived at the lagoon on Tuesday, December 12th. The following day, they formed up off Ulithi into Task Group 38.1, joining the cruisers New Orleans, San Francisco, the Baltimore and San Diego along with the battleships Massachusetts and Alabama. Those seven large capital ships form the screen around the four aircraft carriers of the group: the Yorktown, Wasp, Cowpens and Monterey. Sixteen destroyers form the outer screen. The Task Force (TF38) and the Invasion Force begin the second phase of operations to liberate the Philippines, code named Operation Love lll, the landing of invasion forces on Mindoro. By now, the Japanese use of suicide attacks (kamikazes) against American ships was becoming commonplace.
On December 14, 15, and 16, the carriers of Task Force 38 launch deckloads of fighters and bombers against targets on Mindoro and Luzon. On December 17th, the weather stiffens and the seas grow heavy – a typhoon is gathering – and conditions get worse and worse. They are about to run afoul of the fiercest typhoon of the War – Typhoon Cobra.
I will do a separate post on this terrible storm.
I found these sets of pictures from the USS Boston Cruise book:
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:
The ship in drydock:
Working on the ship:
All hands were required to help paint:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.