Stories from the USS South Dakota

UPDATE - 02/08/11


                                                                                                                                                 
USS South Dakota Battleship
DANIEL BRADY

THIS MY STORY:
GOING ABOARD THE SOUTH DAKOTA BB57AT PEARL HARBOUR,
WAS A TURNING POINT IN MY LIFE. IT LIKE NOTHING I COULD HAVE DREAMED OF. MANY MYSTERIES LIES AHEAD, FINDING EVERYTHING WAS A NEW AND DIFFERENT WAY OF LIVING AND WORKING. TO START MY NEW ASSIGNMENT ON THE SHIP, FIRST I WAS ASKED IF I COULD TYPE?
YES, THIS ONE OF THE BETTER THINGS I HAD LEARNED IN HIGH SCHOOL.

ALRIGHT SO YOU CAN START WORKING IN THE OFFICE, (ADMINISTRATION), TYPING UP MEDICAL HISTORIES OF PATIENTS, IN THEIR MEDICAL RECORDS, AFTER THE MEDICAL OFFICER HAD FINISHED THEIR TREATMENT AND THEY HAD RETURNED TO THEIR DEPARTMENTS FOR THEIR TASKS OF DUTY, WHAT EVER WAS ASSSIGNED TO THEM.

ONE OF THE MEDICAL OFFICERS WAS A PEDIATRICAN, HE WAS WRITING A BOOK ABOUT THE SAME THING. HE WOULD ASK ME WHEN I HAD SOME SPARE TIME AVAILABLE TO HELP HIM WITH HIS MANUSCRIPT. HE WOULD SCRIBBLE A FEW LINES ON A SHEET OF PAPER, MANY PAGES IN FACT, AND I WAS TO DECIPHER THEM AND TYPE UP THE DATA, WHICH HE WOULD SEND TO HIS PUBLISHER.
THAT WAS DOCTOR DILL, MD.

DUE TO THE FACT THIS WAS A NEW SHIP, AND HAD BEEN BUILT AS PEACETIME WAR SHIP, THE CONTRACTORS HAD TO DO AS WAS CONTRACTED AS SPECIFIED, WHICH MENT THAT THE DECKS INSIDE HAD TO BE COVERED WITH LINOLEUM, A SPECIAL KIND. (I CALLED IT BATTLESHIP LINOLEUM), IT WAS THICK AND WELL CEMENTED TO THE DECKS, NOW THIS WAS A FIRE HAZARD, THE NAVY DEPARTMENT HAD ORDERED THAT ALL FLAMMABLE MATERIAL BE REMOVED FROM THE SHIP. THIS ALSO MEANT THAT SOME OF THE BULKHEADS HAD FLAMMABLE PAINT, THIS HAD TO BE REMOVED AS WELL. SO THAT WAS ANOTHER SIDE JOB TO WORK ON, CHIPPING AND SCRAPPING THE LINOLEUM FROM THE DECK IN SICK BAY AREA.

NOW THAT YOU ARE ABOARD SHIP AT SEA, WE HOPE THAT ALL THE MEDICAL SUPPLIES ORDERED WILL BE SUFFICIENT FOR THE UP-COMING EVENTS THAT LIE IN THE NEAR FUTURE.  EVEN SO,  THERE CANNOT BE TO MUCH EMERGENCY MEDICAL SUPPLIES ON HAND. THERE IS NO WAY YOU CAN GET TO A MEDICAL SUPPLY DEPOT AND REORDER NOR ANY DRUG STORE CLOSE BY.  YOU NEED TO KEEP ON PREPARING TO HAVE AS MUCH SUPPLIES AS POSSIBLE IN THE EVENT OF A MAJOR CATASTROPHE. SO IN YOUR SPARE TIME, OR MAKE TIME TO DO. WE CUT UP BOLTS OF GAUZE AND MAKE BANDAGES, 2X2, 4X4, AND OTHER KINDS AND SIZES, FOR THE O.R. I NOTICED AMONG THE SUPPLIES THERE WERE BOXES OF KOTEX. THAT GOT ME WONDERING, I WAS NOT ABOUT TO ASK ANYONE WHAT THEY WERE USED FOR. AFTER THE BATTLE OF SAVO ISLAND, I LEARNED THAT THE KOTEX WERE USED FOR LARGE WOUNDS, A PERFECT PATCH, MADE TO ORDER FOR FAST COMPRESSED BANDAGES.

WE SPENT MANY HOURS EVEN OFF DUTY IN MAKING EXTRA MEDICAL SUPPLIES READYNESS PACKS EVEN IV SETS READY TO USE. THERE WAS NO TIME FOR ENNUI. ALL OUR EFFORTS PAYED OFF AS EVERY THING WAS USED DUE TO THE AMOUNT OF CASUALTIES THAT HAPPENED DURING THE ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ENEMY SHIPS, INFLICTING GREAT DAMAGE TO OUR SHIP AND PERSONNEL. IT WAS WELL WORTH ALL THE EFFORT WE HAD DONE.

IT NEVER ENTERED MY MIND, THAT THE SHIP WOULD BE DESTROYED AND SUNK. I HAD THE UTMOST FAITH IN THE SHIPS DURABILITY TO WITH STAND ANY ONSLAUGHT THAT IT MIGHT RECIEVE. ENOUGH FIRE POWER TO COPE WITH ANY ADVISARY THAT IT MIGHT CHALLENGE IN THE COMING EVENTS OF COMBAT WIITH THE ENEMY. SO WHY WERE WE GIVEN ATABRINE TABLETS TO TAKE BEFORE ENGAGEMENTS WITH THE ENEMY??? THAT IS TO WARD OFF MALARIA, IF WE WERE TO BE WASHED ASHORE ON SOME ISLAND.

NEARING THE SOLOMON ISLANDS, STILL MANY MILES AT SEA, WE COULD SMELL THE SWEET ODOR FROM THE ISLAND FLOWERS. LIKE FRANAGI-PANGI AND OTHERS.

AFTER THE NIGHT BATTLE AT SAVO-ISLAND, THE SOUTH DAKOTA MADE A HASTY RETREAT TO SAFER WATERS OUT OF REACH OF ANY ENEMY SUBMARINES THAT MAY BE LURKING NEARBY. HEADING SOUTH TO THE WESTWARD SIDE OF AUSTRALIA, LIES NEW CALEDONIA, AND A SAFE HARBOUR.  ALTHO NEW CALEDONIA BELONGS TO THE FRENCH.  A REPAIR SHIP WOULD PATCH UP THE SHIPS WOUNDS, AND GET IT READY TO RETURN TO THE STATES, FOR MAJOR REPAIRS AT THE PHILADEPHA NAVY YARD.WE OFF LOADED THE WOUNDED PERSONNEL, TO THE ON SHORE BASE MEDICAL FACILITY.
WHEN THE S.D. WAS READY TO DEPART FOR THE USA, WE WENT BACK TO THE MEDICAL BASE FACILITY AND RETRIEVED OUR WOUNDED AND
BROUGHT THEM BACK ABOARD OUR SHIP. WE ALSO GOT SOME OF WOUNDED PERSONNEL FROM THE DESTROYER THAT HAD TAKEN A TORPEDO, WHICH WAS PROBABLY INTENDED FOR THE S.D.  THE DESTROYER HADBEEN SPLIT IN HALF. WE BROUGHT ALL THE WOUNDED BACK TO THE NAVAL HOSPITAL BROOKLIN, N.Y. THE MEDICAL UNIT AT SHORE BASE NEW CALEDONTA, WAS OVER CROWDED WITH TO MANY WOUNDED, CONDITIONS AND ENVIROMENT WERE IN POOR STATUS. THEY DID NOT NEED ANY MORE WOUNDED. OUR SICKBAY WARD WAS FULL, SO WE HAD TO MOVE SOME INTO OTHER BERTHING SPACES, TO MAKE DO. OUR SICK BAY WARD WAS OVER FLOWING, SO WE HAD TO TAKE OVER, ANOTHER SLEEPING COMPARTMENT TO FIT ALL THE WOUNDED.

LARRY BLISS WAS IN CHARGE OF THE WARD, HE WAS SO DEVOTED IN KEEPING EVERY THING IN SHIP SHAPE, NOTHING LESS THAN BEING PERFECT, IN CARRING FOR THE PATIENTS, FULLFILLING THE DOCTORS ORDERS, MEDICATIONS, CHANGING BANDAGES, TAKING CARE OF PATIENTS NEEDS, HOUSE-KEEPING AMONG THE MANY TASKS HE WOULD PERFORM DURING HIS TIME ON DUTY, SORT OF A PERFECTIONEST. HE WAS DUBBED “MOTHER BLISS” IT COUILDN’T BE BETTER SAID. HE WAS MY BEST FRIEND, AND WE KEEP IN TOUCH, AND VISTED EACH OTHER FOR OVER SIXTY YEARS, HE WAS LIKE A BROTHER TO ME. HE PASSED AWAY A FEW YEARS AGO, CAUSE OF CANCER. I WILL ALWAYS HIM, BUT COULD NEVER FORGET HI.

WE HAD A CORPSMAN IN THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, AN AMERICAN INDIAN, I BELIEVE HE WAS FROM THE YAKIMA TRIBE. HE DELIGHTED IN
PRANKS, AND OTHER IRRITATING TOM FOOLERY TO ANY BODY THAT HE COULD, LIKE SIT IN A HATCH AND DEFY ANY BODY TO GO THRU.
WHEN WE ARRIVED AT THE PANAMA CANAL, HE WAS TRASFERRED ASHORE FOR RELOCATION. HE WAS TOO MUCH OF A NUISANCE WITH HIS ATAVISTIC TRAITS FOR THE OFFICERS (DOCTORS) TO TOLORATE. HE HAD TO GO.

AFTER THE SHIP HAD BEEN REPAIRED AND WAS READY TO GO BACK TO SEA, WE HEADED FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN, TO JOIN THE BRITISH HOME FLEET. THE MADE UP TASK FORCE WAS TO PROTECT THE CONVOYS THAT WERE HEADED FOR ENGLAND AND MURMANSK, RUSSIA, STAYING BETWEEN THE LAND AND THE CONVOYS. THE GERMAN SHIPS NEVER ATTEMPTED TO COME OUT TO ATTACK THE CONVOYS ANY MORE.

WE ENTERED THE ORKNEY ISLANDS, OFF THE NORTH OF SCOTLAND, WHERE THE BRITISH NAVAL BASE WAS LOCATED, CALLED SCAPA FLOW. THERE WAS TIME FOR SOME RECREATION ON THE BEACH, SO SOME OF THE LANDING PARTY WOULD START A BALL GAME OF SORTS. DURING THE BALL GAME, A BATTER KNOCKED A HIGH FLYING BALL WAY OUT IN CENTER FIELD, TWO GUYS RAN FOR IT FULL BLAST, THEY COLIDED AT SAME TIME, CRASHING THEIR HEAD TOGETHER. ONE OF THE GUYS WAS ALRIGHT, BUT THE OTHER ONE SEEMED TO HAVE A CONCUSSION. HE WAS HAVING A LOT OF HEAD PAIN AND TROUBLE IN MOVING ABOUT.

HE WAS ADMITTED TO SICK BAY FOR OBSERVATION, PAIN AND TROUBLE PERSISTED WITH NO LET UP. THE DOCTORS DECIDED TO TRANSFER HIM TO A SHORE BASE HOSPITAL FOR FURTHER TREATMENT AND WHAT EVER ELSE WOULD BE NECESSARY. JUST AS HE WAS READY TO BE TRANSFERRED, HE DIED. THE DOCTORS NEEDED TO KNOW WHY, WHAT CAUSED THIS TO HAPPEN. THE ONLY WAY TO FIND OUT WAS TO REMOVE THE TOP OF HIS SKULL TO OBSERVE THE BRAIN TO SEE WHERE THE BLEEDING WAS COMING FROM. IT WAS THE MASS OF BLOOD CLOT THAT WAS DISPLACI NG THE BRAIN. THIS WAS A VERY SAD DAY.
 

MANY UNEDUCATED PEOPLE LIKE TO ABUSE OTHERS WITH VULGAR SLANG QUOTATIONS, WHICH IS VERY COMMON TOWARDS CORPSMEN. WORDS THAT ARE NOT PRINTABLE. THEY THINK CORPSMEN ARE MUNDANE, INSIGNIFICANT, THAT THEY ONLY TAKE TPR. BP, GIVE SHOTS, PASS OUT PILLS, APC’S FOR ANY AILMENT. THEN WHEN THEY FIND THEMSELVES IN HOSPITAL THEY COME UP WITH A DIFFERENT INVOCATION. MOST MARINES HAVE A BETTER INSIGHT INTO WHAT WE ARE. THE MARINES DO NOT HAVE A MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, SO THEY RELY TOTALLY ON THE NAVY MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, MAINLY THE CORPSMAN. DOCTORS DON’T GO IN WITH THE TROOPS MAKING INVASION LANDINGS ON ENEMY SHORES, IT’S THE CORPSMAN. CORPSMEN LOOSE THEIR LIVES ALONG WITH THE MARINES AS COMBAT GOES (BATTLLE CRY OF THE MARINES “CORPSMAN, CORPSMAN,CORPSMAN” – THAT’S JUST A JOKE)

AFTER SEVERAL YEARS IN SERVICE, WHEN THE COPRSMAN GETS MORE EDUCATED AND EXPERIENCED, USUALLY A HMI (P.0.1) OR CHIEF THEY WILL BE ASSIGNED TO INDEPENDENT DUTY. LIKE A SMALL SHIP WITHOUT A MEDICAL OFFICER, OR A SUBMARINE, OR WITH THE MARINE EXPEDITION IN FIELD AGAINST THE ENEMY.

I BELIEVE IT IS RECORDED THAT A CORPSMAN ON A SUBMARINE DID AN APPENDECTOMY ON ONE OF THE CREW WITHOUT ANY ILL EFFFECTS.
BY THIS TIME HE IS PROFICIENT IN ALL ASPECTS OF THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT REQUIREMENTS. HIS ROUNDED KNOWLEDGE IS GREATLY VARIED, LIKE, TAKE X-RAYS, DO SOME LAB WORK WITH THE MICROSCOPE CBC, , HOW TO FILL PRECRIPTIONS, COMPOUND MEDICINES, REQUIREMENTS DEMANDED OF PROCEDURE IN PREPARING
INSTRUMENTS, STERILIZATION, IN THE OPERATING ROOM, AS WELL AS ASSISTING THE DOCTOR IN OPERATIONS, CASTING BROKEN BONES, MAKI NG MEDICAL REPORTS, LOGISTICS, TAKING CARE OF INJURED AND THE AILING PERSONNEL. HE IS A UNIQUE HETEROGENIUS INDIVIDUAL.
 

 THE SHIP MADE A STOP AT NORFOLK, VA., AND A FEW DAYS THEN PROCEEDED ON TO THE PANAMA CANAL, CONTINUING ON TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC. COMING INTO THE AREA OF THE “FRIENDLY ISLANDS”, ALSO KNOWN AS THE TONGAN ISLANDS. THE ISLANDS WERE MAINTAINED AND CONTROLED UNDER A KINGDOM, ITS CAPITOL IS NUKU’ ALOFA. THE SHIP ANCHORED NEAR AN ISLAND (UNKNOWN NAME). WE WERE ALLOWED TO GO ASHORE, LARRY BLISS AND MY SELF TOOK ADVANTAGE , OF THIS DEAL TO DO SOME RECREATION ON THIS DESOLATE ISLAND. NOTHING ON THE BEACH, SO WE JUST STRETCHED OUR LEGS WALKING THE DIFFERENT TRAILS IN THE JUNGLE, LISTENING
ON ONE OF THE TRAILS THAT WAS PROBABLE AS OLD AS THE ISLAND ITSELF. WE WERE BYPASSED BY A VERY LARGE BLACK MAN SIX FEET OR MORE TALL. WE STEPPED OFF THE TRAIL, HE PASSED US LIKE HE NEVER SAW US. HE WAS NAKED EXCEPT FOR A MULTI-COLORED LOIN CLOTH THAT WAS TIED AROUND HIS WAIST, HE HAD SHORT K1NKI BLACK HAIR. HE PROBABLY HAS RELATIVES IN FRENCHE EQUATORIAL AFRICA??
WE ASSERTA1NED THAT HE OR HIS ATAVISTIC KIN HAD BEEN AT ONE TIME A SLAVE. SOME OF THE PLANTATION OWNERS HAD IMPORTED SLAVES FROM AFRICA, TO WORK THE FIELDS, OR ORCHARDS, COPRA WAS THE MAIN EXPORT IN THE PAST. AFTER AWHILE WE DECIDED TO RETURN TO THE BEACH WHERE THE BOATS WOULD MAKE THERE LANDING TO PICK UP THOSE THAT WANTED TO RETURN TO THEIR SHIPS
WE NOTICED THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE OTHER PERSON IN SIGHT. WE NOTICE HE IS A JUNIOR OFFICER. I GO UP TO HIM IN A FRIENDLY WAY AND THERE WAS A PAUSE BEFORE HE WAS COMING OUT HIS STUPOR AND SHOCK. HE SPUTTERED, HARSHLY, SAYING “YOU DON1T SPEAK TO AN OFFICER THAT WAY” HE KEPT ON RANTING AND RAVING ACCUSSING ME OF BEING AN IMBECILE, UNCOUTH, BETTER LEARN YOUR MANERS. AS HE KEPT ON VERBABLY DEGRADING US, WE BACKED OFF, GOING DOWN THE BEACH TO BE OUT OF HEARING RANGE. AFTER AWHILE WE RETURNED, HE WAS STILL MUMBLING TO HIS SELF, INCOHERANT SOUND OF SOME SORT, COPTIC OR VEDIC PRAYERS,
MAYBE??????
HE MUST NOT HAVE READ “TREASURE ISLAND” OR OTHER SEAFARING TALES OF LORE. MOST INTELEGENT SEAMEN KNOW THAT A “MATE’ IS UNDER THE CAPTAIN, HIS RIGHT HAND MAN, SECOND IN COMMAND. CURRENT NAVAL LINGO HE IS THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER. I HAD GIVEN HIM A HIGH STATUS HONOR IN PLACE, AND HE FELT INSULTED BY THE ACCUSATION OF IT. APPARENTLY HE DIDN’T LEARN ANYTHING IN HIS NINTY DAYS, OF SCHOOLING BEFFORE THEY GAVE HIM HIS COMMISSION. IF I WAS HIS CAPTAIN, I WOULD SENTINCE HIM TO SIX-MONTH DUTY IN THE LIBRARY TO LEARN SEAMANSHIP.

IT WAS NOT LONG BEFORE THE BOAT SHOWED UP AT THE LANDING, HE INDICATED FOR US TO GET IN THE BOAT, WHICH WE DID, WE SAT IN THE AFT SECTION AND HE WENT FORWARD TO THE BOW. HIS ILLUMINATED COUNTENANCE REFLECTED HIS DEMEANOR OF DISGUST, SHOWING HIS GRIM FROWN, THIS HE MAINTAINED ALL THE WAY TO HIS SHIP. HE NEVER SPOKE IN ALL THIS TIME.
I SINCERELY HOPE HE IS NOT IN CHARGE OF A DIVISION, OR A CREW UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP.
 
  
THE NIGHT MUST OF BEEN EBONY BLACK, NO MOON LIGHTNING THE NIGHT SKY. THE SOUND OF THE ALARM, CHIMED IN WITH “MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS” THIS ALWAYS BRINGS ON A FLUSH OF ADRENALIN THROUGH MY BODY, WAKING UP AS I RUSH TO MY BATTLE STATION,
WHILE  OTHERS  RACED TO THEIRS. WITH GREAT WONDER AND ANTISIPATION, WHAT NEXT?  WHY??

THE RADAR SCREEN HAS PICKED UP SOME BOGGlES OFF IN THE DISTANCE. THANKS TO OUR NEW AND IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY, RADAR. NOT MUCH CAN GET BY IT, NO SURPRISES  POPPING UP. THERE IS A GROUP OF JAPPANES AIRCRAFT STARTING THEIR NIGHTLY PATROL, SCANNING THE WATERS LOOKING FOR TELL TALES SIGNS OF SHIP MOVEMENT, THE SHIP ALWAYS LEAVES A WAKE BEHIND, A TRAIL OF DISTURBANCE IN THE WATER ESPECIALLY IF TRAVELING VERY FAST. THESE CAN BE OBSERVED EASILY BY LOW FLYING AIRCRAFT AT NIGHT. I AM SURE OUR SHIPS HAD BEEN SLOWED DOWN BY NOW, ENOUGH TO NOT REGISTER A TRAILING WAKE.

THE AIRCRAFT KEPT COMING STRAIGHT TOWARD OUR TASK FORCE. THEY HAD NOT SEEN OUR SHIPS WHEN THEY WERE DIRECTLY OVERHEAD.
THEN SUDDENLY THE SKY WAS LIT OPEN LIKE A CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION. AS ALL THE RADAR CONTROLED ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS  SEEMED TO EXPLODE AT ONCE COMING FROM EVERY SHIP.

A FEW MINUTES LATER ALL WAS QUIET, AND THE BLACK NIGHT HAD ENGULFED THE ENTIRE SCENE, AS IF NOTHING HAD HAPPENED. THERE WERE NO TARGETS ON THE RADAR SCREEN. IT HAD ONLY TAKEN A MOMENT, A SLIGHT PAUSE, AND THEN THE TASK FORCE CONTINUED ON ITS MISSION.


 

IN HIS OWN WORDS … Some Navy Memories 
By CHARLES H. TAILLIE
April 1, 1920 - January 6, 2008

 

I enlisted in the Navy in October of 1937. First assigned to the U.S.S. Omaha in February, 1938. Was sea sick from Norfolk to Guantanamo Bay, where we went for gunning practice. Had my first Cuban beer. Still have its label in my photo albums. 

Went to the Mediterranean aboard the USS Omaha to protect US Embassy personnel during the Spanish Civil War, 1938. We evacuated some of the Embassy people off the beach in Spain.

Went aboard the USS Tuscaloosa in 1940, until I was discharged in 1941.

In May, 1941 I got a job as a metal smith at the New York Shipbuilding Corp. in Camden, NJ. Worked mainly on the new battleship USS South Dakota that hadn't been launched yet. Was working the 3-11 shift when we heard about Pearl Harbor … (I signed up again and) Was sworn back in the Navy in February, 1942 … requested duty on the South Dakota. I was aboard when she was commissioned in March, 1942 in Philadelphia.

We sailed for the South Pacific, where the ship was in the October, 1942 Battle of Santa Cruz, protecting the USS Enterprise, our only carrier still operating after Pearl Harbor. We were credited with shooting down 32 enemy planes. We had one bomb hit on our #1 turret that killed 1 man, wounded 10. Also badly damaged two guns of #2 turret.

We were in the second night battle at Guadalcanal in November, 1942. Had 33 shell hits aboard our ship, mostly 6 and 8 inch. One 14 inch hit our #3 turret and opened up the top deck and main deck. We lost all of our radar screens, masts and equipment. . . . 55 men killed and 200 wounded. Was a very somber occasion in helping to carry some of our dead to the fantail for burial service.

After repairs in Brooklyn, then service with the British northern fleet around Norway. Back to the Pacific in May, 1942 in time to support the invasions on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands.

Put the USS Munda in commission in August, 1943. Made trips from San Diego to Pearl Harbor taking new planes out from the States and later joined Admiral Halsey's Supply Fleet supplying new planes to the big carriers that lost planes and men in combat. The Munda once held the speed run record from San Diego to Pearl Harbor. We were off the coast of Japan when the A-bomb was dropped and the war ended. We were one of many ships that anchored in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the Peace Agreement.

I mustered out in February, 1946. My wife didn't want to live out of a suitcase and we had our first daughter, so I said so long Navy.

I have known the Navy during peace time and war. I prefer peace.