MEETING # 1579
JANUARY 2, 1997
How To Demagnetize a Submarine
by Robert M. Knight
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library
This paper tells how the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7,1941 led the author, then a student at the University of Redlands, to join the Navy. He traces his experiences and tells how he was trained to protect ships from magnetic mines, specializing eventually in how to demagnetize submarines. He tells of shipping out from Port Hueneme for the South Pacific on board a Liberty Ship that had been dedicated to a former Fortnightly club member, Robert E. Watchorn.
ROBERT MACKENZIE KNIGHT was born in Redlands, California in 1922. He was the sixth of nine children. He went through the Redlands school system, graduating from Redlands High School in 1939. He graduated from the University of Redlands in May of 1943, and immediately reported to Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana as a U.S.Navy Reserve Midshipman.
The author served four years of active duty with the USN in the South Pacific and Philippine Islands in the protection of ships from magnetic mines. At the end of the war, he returned to Redlands, married Winifred Peters of Redlands, and bought the orange grove where he still lives today in the Crafton area.
As result of the citrus freeze of 1949, he returned to the U. of R. to get his teaching credential He taught in the public schools of Redlands for two years, then taught in the public schools of San Bernardino for twenty-five more years. He has taught classes at both San Bernardino Valley College and Crafton Hills College.
In 1977 he retired from teaching to devote full time to his kiwi fruit growing and packing business which he started in 1971. He now owns and operates one of three kiwifruit packing houses in Southern California.
About a year ago I was talking with Fritz Bromberger about my experiences as a Degaussing Officer in the U. S. Navy during World War II. I mentioned to Fritz how coincidental it was that Albert Clark and I had somewhat similar responsibilities during part of our military careers. Albert had worked with the US Army in bomb disposal effort while I had worked with the US Navy in the protection of ships against magnetic mines. Fritz said, "My, what an interesting topic for a Fortnightly paper". That statement by Fritz planted the seed for this topic that I am presenting today entitled HOW TO DEMAGNETIZE A SUBMARINE.
I looked through the LIST OF 1486 PAPERS BY TITLE, AUTHOR AND DATE by Harley Tillitt that was in the Souvenir Brochure prepared for our Centennial Celebration which we received on January 24, 1995. I noticed a paper entitled "A Thousand Fortnightly Papers" by Forrest A. Kingsbury. This paper was presented on Dec. 21, 1961. Incidentally, Kingsbury reported in his paper that the paper with the longest title among the first one thousand papers was one presented by Harvey Collins on Feb. 11, 1943. The title read as follows: " Some of the Delayed Communiques From All Over The World From Many Fields of Combat, Gathered by the Facilities Provided Since The Beginning of Time by Runners, Horsemen, Camelback, Pony Express, Penny Post, Telegraph, Radio, et cetera, Embalmed in Literature by Famous Artists and From Which One May Select His favorites and Hang the Pictures in the Gallery of His Memory".
After this lengthy title, Kingsbury says, "The paper was almost as long as its title."
The title of one paper caught my eye. It was "Recollection of Campaign and the Battle of Gettysburg". by Captain Alfred E Lee presented before the Fortnightly Club on Feb. 5, 1903. This paper is unfortunately missing from the collection at the A.K. Smiley Library. Somewhere, I read that Alfred E. Lee was a Lt. in the Union Army. He was one of two of the twenty-four officers in his outfit that survived an engagement with the Confederates. Although wounded, he was treated in a Confederate Hospital. With his health restored, he escaped from his captors and made his way to the Union Army where he again fought against the Confederates.
The Civil War had ended almost forty years when this paper was presented to the Club. I would be very interested in locating this paper and reading it to relive some of the experiences of Capt. Lee as he saw them. Kingsbury in his paper, "A Thousand Fortnightly Papers" says, "In early years several members described their personal recollection of, or participation in events which to us today seem ancient history such as the Civil War, The Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg, etc."
I remember sixty years ago as a sophomore student at Redlands High School, a speaker that addressed the school assembly to celebrate Lincoln's Day. At the end of his talk, he invited all of those interested in coming to the front of the Clock Auditorium to shake hands with him as he had shaken hands personally with Abraham Lincoln. At the time some of us thought what a silly thing to do. However, I went down and shook his hand. Today I can tell my grandchildren that I have shaken the hand of a man who had shaken hands with Abraham Lincoln. Can you?
Just last December the 55th. year of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was in the news. Can you remember where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news of the attack?
I was driving up Citrus Ave. in my 1932 Ford V-8 coupe. I was coming home from church and turned on the radio and heard the news just as I was passing the High School Boy's locker and shower room. I thought at the time this event was going to drastically change the lives of millions of people. Little did I know that because of this event, I was going to learn how to demagnetize submarines.
I was a junior student at the University of Redlands majoring in mathematics and minoring in Physics. The tuition that year was $250. I lived with my parents at their orange grove on Dearborn St, and Highland Ave. As the year progressed, it soon became apparent that I had better do something about enlisting in that branch of the military that most appealed to me, rather than wait to be drafted into the military where my options for choices might be more restricted. I remember discussing this problem with Albert Newell of Newell's Nursery in Yucaipa. We decided that we would rather join the Navy and sleep in a hammock than wait to be drafted into the Army and sleep in a fox hole possibly.
As a result of this discussion with Albert I enlisted with the V-7 program of the Navy on August 13, 1942. At the time I was working for the US Forest Service as a fire guard at the Banning Bench Guard Station. Even though it was right in the middle of the fire season, Ranger Jack Horton let me have a day off to ride the bus into Los Angeles to the Navy recruiting station where I enlisted, passed the physical exam and was sworn in as an apprentice seaman. I returned back to the Banning Bench that same day. The V-7 program promised me that I would be allowed to start and finish my senior year at the University of Redlands. Upon my graduation, I would receive orders to report to one of the Navy's midshipmen schools at Columbia University, Prairie State, Northwestern, or Notre Dame.
Early in my senior year at the University of Redlands, I received a notice from the chairman of the Physics Dept. that told of a Navy Captain coming to the campus to interview seniors that were taking Physics classes for jobs as civilians working for the Assistant Industrial Manager's Office in San Francisco. Four of us were interviewed. When Capt. Loeb interviewed me, I told him that I had enlisted in the V-7 program of the Navy last August. His reply was, "I could not touch you with a ten foot pole." That made the interview rather short. AT that time I had no idea that eight months later I would be having Capt. Loeb as my commanding officer, and that I would be working for the Assistant Industrial Manager out of the Ferry Building in San Francisco as a Navy officer.
At Notre Dame we took classes in Seamanship, Navigation, Damage Control, Gunnery Operations, Naval Traditions and Regulations, and Communications. We had calisthenics, close order drill, Morse Code, both sending and receiving, and Use of Flag Hoists- our favorite Fox, Charlie, Dog "Cease present operations and return to base". We learned how to jump off a ship without our life preserver knocking us out when we hit the water, We practiced the best way to swim underwater if we had to jump into water that had blazing oil or gasoline on the surface. We listened to our Drill Instructor read "Rocks and Shoals" to us. We watched numerous training films including "V.D, on the DE633." But we had no training on how to demagnetize submarines.
At the end of the first month, we were promoted to midshipmen. The same training continued with no changes other than we no longer wore our apprentice seaman's whites with thirteen button trousers. Instead we wore midshipmen's khaki and had an increase in pay to $75.00 a month.
My one diversion from all of this studying and drilling came when it was announced that a choir was being formed to sing a one half hour program over the local radio station in South Bend every Sunday afternoon. This choir was known as Capt. Burnett's Choir. The Captain was the commanding officer of the Navy Unit at Notre Dame.
I tried out for this choir and was accepted as I could carry a tune and read music. There were sixty men in the choir. We would practice Sunday afternoons and then we would be taken by Navy bus to the South Bend radio station where we would perform on a thirty minute program. We would begin and end the program by singing the first verse to the Navy hymn "Eternal Father Strong to Save." We sang songs arranged by Fred Waring, etc. I enjoyed this as this was about the only time I got away from Notre Dame University to see the town of South Bend.
At the end of July, it was announced that we would be commissioned as ensigns in the USNR with just sixty days of training rather than ninety days Within two days of this announcement, we had received our commissions, our orders for duty, and were out of Notre Dame by noon so that the next class of midshipmen could move in that afternoon and evening.
My orders read for me to proceed to Boston and report to the Degaussing Range at Pleasure Bay on Castle Island. Today that is part of the Logan Airport in Boston. I had learned at midshipmen's school that "proceed orders" gave you four days to get there. This was not enough time to come back to Redlands, and then go to Boston, so I spent three days with relatives in Adrian , Michigan and then went to Boston and reported for duty at the Degaussing Station. Here is where I started to learn how to demagnetize a submarine.
My first few days there were spent in reading the literature about how all ships made of steel are like giant magnets. There are two types of magnetism, Induced and Permanent. Induced magnetism varies as the heading and the course of the ship as well as the latitude in which the ship is located. Permanent magnetism is caused by the hammering, riveting, welding on the ship while it is being built. A ship that is on a constant heading for hundreds of miles can become magnetized by the waves constantly striking the ship in the same direction for days at a time. Also the vibration of the ship's propellers and the propeller shafts constantly turning can affect the magnetism of the ship.
What difference does it make whether the ship becomes magnetic or not? The difference is great because of an ingenious invention attributed to the Germans and used by them as well as our forces when we found out about them...the magnetic mine.
In early 1941 reports came in to the British Admiralty of some strange circular shaped objects found on the tidal flats at low tide along the Thames River below the City of London. Some children had spotted them and were playing with them when one of them blew up and killed several of the children. The Admiralty called upon their number one man in dealing with such matters and he proceeded to investigate these strange objects further. He was convinced that they were some kind of a mine. While attempting to dismantle the mine with conventional steel wrenches and screwdrivers, the mine exploded, fatally wounding the expert. before he died he was able to say his mistake was using steel tools for dismantling the mine. The Admiralty called in their second most knowledgeable expert who was now the number one expert. He used brass wrenches and screwdrivers to dismantle the mine. Success was his until he lifted the top of the mine off the body after having unscrewed all the screws holding the top. This expert had been telling just what he was doing loudly enough to be heard by others a safe distance away from the mine, who were taking notes on his every move. The Admiralty called in their third most knowledgeable expert who ,after studying the recorded information surmised that there must have been a mouse trap like device that had set off the mine when the top was taken off. This expert was correct and was able to disarm the mine successfully.
The Germans had dropped these mines from airplanes at night and some of them had fallen into the mud flats along the edge of the Thames River accidentally. Inside of these mines was a small compass-like needle pivoted at its center, with a set of contacts at either end of the needle. The needle was prevented from making contact by a water soluble block that slowly dissolved after being placed in the water. Once this soluble block was dissolved the mine was armed. A ship, passing over this mine did not attract the mine to the underneath side of the ship and explode, but the little compass needle would move until the ends touched the contacts and completed the circuit setting off a detonator that detonated a large amount of TNT. As water is practically incompressible, the force of the detonation would be transmitted to the underneath side of the ship, and blow a hole in the bottom causing the ship to sink. Needless to say the Thames River was shut down very effectively until countermeasures could be developed.
To sweep those magnetic mines two possibilities were considered. The first to use wooden hull vessels pulling a magnetic sled behind it. The wooden hull would not affect the little needle in the mine, but the magnetic sled would set off the mine which would cause the magnetic sled to be blown out of the water. The second possibility was to figure out how to demagnetize the ships, so that they could pass over the magnetic mine without disturbing the needle.
Both possibilities were developed and used. To make sweeping the magnetic mines more fiendish, the Germans placed a counting device that could be adjusted up to sixty different disturbances of the compass like needle before the mine would detonate on the 61st disturbance. These magnetic mines were very effective even at depths of over 2000 fathoms which is over two miles.
Two methods were developed to demagnetize ships. The first was called "degaussing". The second was called "deperming". The first method was to design and install an electrical cable with many turns of wire inside the cable just inside the skin of the ship. This cable was connected up to a direct current generator which enabled an equal but opposite magnetic field to be created that would cancel out the ship's natural magnetism.
The literature I read told of a convoy of sixty ships that was passing through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea . It was believed that magnetic mines had been dropped into the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea so that all ships in the convoy had been ordered to make sure that they operated their degaussing equipment while making the transit. All ships passed successfully until #57 which was sunk by a magnetic mine. The captain of the ship did not have his protective gear in operation. It was said that the captain was given command of another ship and that he never shut off his degaussing equipment even when in a safe port in the United States.
How could the ships natural magnetism be determined? This was done by setting up a number of magnetometers(devices for measuring the strength of a magnetic field) in a line about 400 ft. long with the magnetometers 30 ft below the water about 15 feet apart These magnetometers were connected to leads which ran to a "house" on the shore which contained a fluxmeter for each magnetometer beneath the water. Each magnetometer would send its reading to its fluxmeter in the range house which would record its reading on a moving tape. The readings from all of the fluxmeters would be combined into one reading which was called the ship's "signature". From this signature we could determine what action to take to reduce the effective magnetism to as low a condition as possible. This could be done by adding turns or decreasing the number of turns in the degaussing cable that went just inside the skin of the ship. The same effect could be accomplished by raising or lowering the current flowing through the turns. An officer from the "degaussing station" would board the ship. The ship would run the range. The recommendation would be signaled to the ship and the officer on board would make the necessary adjustments, and then the ship would run the range again to see if further adjustments needed to be made.
The second method for demagnetizing ships was called "deperming". This method was used always for submarines. In this method no cables were placed inside the skin of the ship. Degaussing cables are large and go through all the bulkheads of the ship. This would weaken the integrity of the submarine to withstand great pressures and depth charge attacks. In "deperming" we used the-same method that a jeweler uses to demagnetize a watch. I called my friend, Ross Maddox, a retired jeweler, and asked him about demagnetizing watches. He said that he used a coil which he plugged in to a 110 volt outlet. He would slowly move the watch into the coil and then withdraw it slowly. He had a magnetic compass that he checked the watch to see if the compass would be deflected by bringing the watch close to it. Sometimes he had to place the watch back in the coil and repeat the process before the watch would not cause the compass needle to move,
The trick for deperming submarines was to get a coil large enough and a way of putting the submarine into the coil and back out again in an easy fashion.
After a few weeks of introduction to "degaussing" at Pleasure Bay in Boston, I was sent to the Navy's Magnetic Compass Adjusting School on a ship that operated out of the dock at the Battery on Manhattan Island in New York. On board this small ship were fifteen binnacles. We learned how to adjust the magnetic compasses so that they would indicate the proper direction one was going. When the degaussing system was turned on, the magnetic compasses would read radically different than their reading with the degaussing off. This was because the magnetic condition of the ship was changed. To compensate for this, small degaussing coils were placed on the binnacles in such a position as to correct the change caused by the degaussing system being turned on. Each time we adjusted the magnetic compasses we left two correction tables, one for degaussing on, the other for degaussing off.
After completion of the course that taught me how to adjust magnetic compasses, I received orders to report to the Assistant Industrial Manager's Office in San Francisco with Capt. Loeb as my commanding officer. Capt. Loeb had been a professor of Physics at the University of California at Berkeley. He was the same man that had come to the University of Redlands early in 1943 searching for physics students to work for the Assistant Industrial Manager's Office in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
While working out of the Ferry Building I lived in a private home in the Sunset District of San Francisco. Each morning I would take the "N" streetcar to the Ferry Building where I would find out what ships I was assigned to go on board for compass adjusting, or degaussing equipment checks. Sometimes the job was up at Mare Island, other times down at Hunter's Point, other times in Oakland or the Naval Air Station in Alameda. I became very well acquainted with the waterfront areas of the San Francisco Bay.
One incident that I well remember took place at Pier 33 which was the main deperming station on the Pacific Coast. I was slated to help out in the deperming of a large airplane carrier. The carrier approached Pier 33 with a San Francisco Harbor Pilot on the bridge with the captain. A tug was aiding the carrier alongside the dock. The tug was located on the starboard side of thee carrier just forward of the carrier's propellers. The pilot realized that the carrier was coming in too fast so he ordered the carrier full speed astern. Instantly the fan tail of the tug was sucked into the carriers propeller. The fantail was chopped off and the tug sank in three minutes time. Just the mast of the tug showed above water level. No personnel were hurt, but the magnetometers were knocked off their mountings and their connecting cables broken by the sunken tug so that the station was out of operation for over one month.
Another memorable incidence occurred when a terrific storm came up in San Francisco Bay. I had just finished "swinging the ship" (Adjusting the compasses) when the waves became so high that it was impossible to leave the ship by going over the side on a rope ladder. We tried but with the rising and falling more than 12 of the boat trying to pick us up we decided that we should stay on board overnight until the waves subsided somewhat.
About this time the higher ups decided that it would be wise to train a group of four officers and thirty enlisted men into a unit that could "deperm" submarines using portable equipment that could be deployed in any harbor and not confined to any one specific place such as Pier 33 in San Francisco Bay. As submarines required depermming about every six months, such a unit could be located in the South Pacific and move northward as the war proceeded against Japan. This could make the submarine fleet much more effective by not having to come to San Francisco or Pearl Harbor, or down to Australia to be depermed.
My unit, known as component J -13-b, was selected to be the unit trained to demagnetize submarines. The officers consisted of one Lt., one Lt jg., and two ensigns of which I was one of them. We had thirty enlisted men in our unit among which were electrician mates, signalmen, boatswains, motor mechanics mates as well as seamen.
Just as earlier mentioned, Ross Maddox, the retired jeweler, used a small coil with alternating current, to demagnetize watches, our job was to have a coil that was large enough to hold a submarine. This was accomplished by loading waterproof electric cables in one of our two 21 foot plane rearming barges. The submarine would be moored between two mooring buoys, fore and aft, in a quiet inlet near Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. The barge with the cables would pull up underneath the bow of the submarine and both ends of the cable would be handed up to two sailors on the submarine. These two men would walk toward the stern puling the cable along as they walked. The fleet submarines that we were demagnetizing were 304 feet long--longer than a football field. When the first two sailors had walked to a position just forward of the propeller guard, the cable would have the slack pulled up and the cable secured to the deck with rope. While this procedure was being carried out another two sailors were dragging down another cable to become the second turn in the loop. This 2nd. loop was placed exactly six feet forward of the first loop. Approximately forty loops were wrapped about the submarine in this manner. These loops were connected in series making one giant coil. The ends of the coil were secured to lead cables which went into the control room of the submarine and attached to the output terminals of the sub's batteries. A reversing switch was introduced into the circuit which enabled us to alternate the direction of the current flowing through the coil surrounding the ship.
While we were preparing the submarine for deperming, most of the crew were departing for overnight liberty and all ships chronometers were off loaded to prevent them from becoming magnetized.
After preparing the coil with a reversing switch, a means to measure the amperage applied to the coil, and a way to control this amperage, we would install another single coil encircling the submarine at water level. This coil was called the "Z" loop. It was secured to an air filled rubber float that surrounded the submarine. The purpose of this coil was to create a magnetic field similar to that in the area in which this submarine would be operating. The strength of this field had been determined by the Bureau of Ships of the Navy. It varied as to Southern or Northern hemisphere and a few regions in between. Obviously a submarine operating around Guadalcanal or Rabaul; would have an induced magnetic characteristic different than that of a submarine operating off the Tokyo Bay area.
Before starting the procedure to demagnetize the submarine, we had to provide for a way to measure our results after each shot of current through the coil wrapped around the submarine. This was done by suspending three magnetometers about 20 feet beneath the keel of the submarine in a forward, midship, and aft position. After each shot, we would read each magnetometer and record this reading.
Unlike Ross Maddox demagnetizing a watch, we could not slowly withdraw the submarine from its coil wrapped around it. We compensated for this by starting out with a + shot of about 3000 amps. Then we would throw the reversing switch for a - shot of about 2950 amps. Meters would be read and recorded. The reversing switch would then be thrown for a + shot of about 2900 amps. This procedure was repeated gradually decreasing the amperage used for each shot. As we went down the schedule we decreased the 50 amp interval to 40 amps., then 30,then 20, then 10, then 5 and finally reached zero.
We would usually start the shot schedule at about midnight, and if all went well we would finish at around 4 AM. Sometimes things did not go well,, such as forgetting whether the switch had been thrown for a positive or a negative shot. We recorded each shot but at 2 AM in the morning, in the dark control room, we were apt to make the wrong move of the switch. If this happened it was very apparent when we read the magnetometers. When this happened we had to go back up the original shot schedule, not to begin all over again, but to start again 30% above the schedule where we made our error. While we four officers were sweating this procedure out in the control room, our enlisted men were fast asleep in some bunk that was vacant for the night.
We demagnetized fifteen submarines in the manner just described. We got so that we were pretty good at it. Soon thereafter our J-13-b unit received orders to report to the Advanced Base Personnel Center at San Bruno, Calif. We were assigned to a larger unit designated as CUB 12. We thought that the CUB stood for Confused, Uninformed, Bastards. Later we found out that this was a unit of about 1000 men capable of setting up a small Navy base that was completely self sufficient.
At the end of 1944 our J-13-b unit received orders detaching us from CUB 12, and sending us overseas to Navy 3002 which was in the Admiralty Islands just south of the equator and east of New Guinea. We were to be attached to LION 4 which I found to be a large advanced base unit of around 4000 men, with headquarters at Manus on the edge of Seeadler Harbor about 4 degrees south of the equator. In January of 1945 I received orders to report to Port Hueneme, California I was to board the SS John Ball, a Liberty ship made in the San Francisco area, and travel on this ship as supercargo officer for my J-13-b unit. This means that I would be on the same ship as our equipment. The other three officers and our men rode to the Admiralty Islands on a troop ship which departed a few days earlier.
At Port Hueneme I had to wait a few days for my ship to arrive from San Francisco. Finally it arrived and was loaded with equipment for the 96th.C.B. Battalion. The equipment for my J-13-b component was just an infinitesimal part of the ship' total cargo.
The name of the ship was the SS John Ball. It was a brand new Liberty ship that had been built in San Francisco and this was its maiden voyage. The number 2 and 3 hold had been lined with sacks of cement as protection for the biggest load of dynamite caps that ever went out from Port Hueneme. The deck was loaded with trucks, tractors, earth movers, and other equipment so that a wooden walk way was constructed on top of all this material so that one could walk aft without having to climb over and around all of this equipment. This ship was operated by the Black Diamond Steamship Lines headquartered in New York. It was a Merchant Marine ship manned by civilians that had a Navy Armed Guard gun crew to operate the 3'-50 caliber gun that was on the fantail of the ship for protection.
I boarded the SS John Ball at about 6:00 PM.. I was assigned a cabin above the engine room. About midnight I woke up when I heard the engine stop and heard the danger signal and the bells to reverse the engine. Soon the ship started vibrating up and down as the propeller was put in reverse, and the slowing down of the ship commenced. Soon afterwards I heard the bell signal for the engine to stop. Then once again we proceeded forward in normal fashion.
The next morning when I went down to the wardroom for breakfast the captain was eating at the same time. I asked him what happened last night? His reply was that an incoming tanker without running lights zigged when he should have zagged and passed within 20 yds. of our bow. Knowing about that big load of dynamite caps in hold 2 and 3 made me think that it just wasn't my time to go yet.
On the bulkhead of the wardroom was a large picture of the man for whom this Liberty ship had been dedicated before leaving San Francisco on its maiden voyage. I told the captain that I knew that man. He went to the same church that I did. The captain asked me to tell him about the man in the picture. Today , I could say that he was a former member of The Fortnightly Club in Redlands, Calif. although I did not know this fact until I researched for this paper. The man in the picture presented two papers entitled "PHASE OF FOREIGN IMMIGRATION, " and "BABYLON AS SHE WAS;LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM HER'. The second paper was presented on March 6, 1931.
Can any of you tell me who this man was? He was Robert Watchorn, the philanthropist that gave the City of Redlands the Lincoln Shrine, that gave the University of Redlands the Watchorn Hall, that gave the First United Methodist Church the chimes that were lost in the fire that burned that sanctuary in 1967. The captain said he would write the Black Diamond Steamship Company and tell them about the man for whom the SS John Ball was dedicated as they had no knowledge of him at all.
The rest of my twenty-one day's voyage was uneventful. We had many beautiful sunsets and the nights warmed up considerably since leaving So. Calif. in early February, and crossing the equator into the southern hemisphere in March.
While at the Admiralty Islands I continued to check out ship's degaussing systems but no demagnetizing of submarines took place. In fact I saw no submarines for the months I stayed on Ndrillo Island at the harbor entrance control post.
Two things of interest were experienced while on duty here. The first was a day trip one Sunday to a neighboring island where the indigenous natives lived. This island was under the control of Australia and on the day of our visit, the Australian judge was to be there to settle any problems the natives were having. Example: One old native had traded his daughter to a young man in exchange for a pig. After a few weeks, the pig died so that the old man wanted his daughter back. The judge asked the old man that if his daughter had died would he have given the pig back to the young man. The old man thought and replied that he guess he wouldn't give the pig back. The judge then said, "How then can you expect your son in law to give you back your daughter?"
The second thing of interest was the night that three Japanese air planes made a suicide attempt to destroy the battleship Pennsylvania which was undergoing repairs in a sectional floating dry-dock in a cove of Seeadler Harbor. We were wakened by guns firing all over the place. Fortunately for us little harm was done. Two planes crashed before reaching the dry-dock and the third plane glanced off the dry-dock and fell into the water. One sailor was knocked off the dry-dock.
In June of 1945 our J-13-b unit was ordered to fly to Subic Bay in the Philippine Island. We took off in a C-47 from Momote airstrip and flew to Biak Island off the coast of New Guinea. I've talked to many persons who have gone to Biak including Bob Covington. We spent the night on Biak and the next day flew to Samar, Philippines. That night we slept in a cathedral at Guian. The following day we continued toward Luzon Island. We flew over Manila Bay with its hundred of sunken ships visible to us as we passed over. We landed at the San Marcelino airstrip after circling the air strip for some time waiting for a flight of P-51 Mustangs to return from a raid at Lingayen Gulf. We were loaded into trucks and driven to the Navy base at Olangapo. On the way we passed Cubi Point where at the top of the point was a cemetery sign at the gate that said, "Those who honor the dead will care for the living." Thirty years later, in 1975 I revisited this area and the same sign is still there at the cemetery.
We were at Subic Bay for a year. During this time we located a place ideally situated for our Degaussing Range. It was convenient for all ships entering and leaving Subic Bay from and to the China Sea. We built our range house and set up our equipment with the aid of the 102nd. CB Battalion which was building the big submarine base at the east end of Subic Bay. We had hundreds of ships run our range and recalibrated their degaussing systems to best protect the ships from magnetic mines.
It was here that we heard the news of the "A" bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, then later the bomb being dropped on Nagasaki. The news of the Japanese surrender came on a rainy night while sitting on coconut logs watching a movie while wearing our rainproof ponchos. Great was the excitement the rest of that night.
The chaplain of the 102nd. CB Battalion was Wm. Hopewell Jr. After returning from the war I was married in August of 1946 to my present wife. On our honeymoon we visited Chaplain Hopewell in New York City where we saw his three year old son, Wm. Hopewell III who is now a surgeon at the Beaver Clinic in Redlands.
During the year that I was stationed at Subic Bay, I did not demagnetize any submarines. The war was over now. Mine sweepers were busy sweeping the mine fields that had been lain during the war and there was no need for demagnetizing submarines.
Just last month, December 7th we observed the 55th. anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I marvel today at the way in which my life has unfolded and the many unique and coincidental experiences I have undergone, and also marvel that I still remember how to demagnetize submarines.