Another long, two part letter from Pop to Newton Mfg. The first part touches on what it was like fighting on a battleship in World War II.
December 27, 1964
Newton Mfg. Co.
I have just been going through my big old roll top desk and sorting out things. I came across several nice comments from YOU on my writing ability Etc, and I thought that it being the time of year when everyone (mostly anyway) tries to think and say nice things, that it was certainly in order that I thank you for your nice opinion of my writing ability, although I must again say that I don’t think I have it to the extent of it being worth anything.
You are right in that I have had loads and loads of experiences, have been all over the World (or almost so), have rubbed elbows with the great, and have seen the other extreme. In fact in my early youth when I worked in New York City, I roomed with the Superintendent of the Bowery Mission. Also I AM either “up or down” but I guess all of us are that way. I can almost burst into tears for instance at the sight of those poor souls in the Bowery, and an hour later I can be infuriated at the sight of something I don’t like. THIS year it happens to be the President of the United States. I immediately get up and leave the room if the boys or Mama have on the News and he comes on. I have had my likes and dislikes over the years on both sides of the fence, but this man is the only man who holds such a high office that I ever actually hated. Guess I better quit talking about that, my blood pressure is up already!
Twenty four years ago I was sitting in the corner of a compartment on The Battleship Iowa and the big tears were rolling down my cheeks because they were playing “Silent Night” over the ships loud speaker. I just said to myself “Boy if I ever get back to the old USA and out of this mess, nothing will ever bother me again,” but you see it DOES. I was a pretty happy guy when I finally entered San Juan De Fuca Straits in Seattle though, and for the first time for a good many months saw the Stars and Stripes flying on AMERICAN soil. I guess I just never grew up until I had four years of War under my belt. Don’t know as I have yet. I get pretty nervous and irritable at times now, but Mama charitably says that “It’s due to the War”. I don’t think so, as I was as safe as I am sitting right here. A Battleship is darn near unsinkable so I was not in the least bit worried about that.
I think actually that the only time I was worried during the whole War (and I have probably mentioned it before) was when we were up off Newfoundland once in the early part of the War and the German Pocket Battleship Bismarck was supposed to be “lurking” around somewhere, between there and Iceland or Greenland.
Somewhere when I was young, during World War I, I had read about the accuracy and the terrific fire power of the German Navy, and make no mistake it was, it took (37 ships I think it was) quite awhile to sink the Bismarck when the British finally caught up with her later in the War.
Anyway we were anchored in Argentia, Newfoundland and one of those nasty Atlantic storms came up. Big as we were, we were dragging our Anchor, so we just “up anchored” and headed out to sea to ride the storm out, so we would not run aground. It must have been about two in the morning when “boom, boom” something went off. I said to myself “Boy, oh boy! THIS is it,” and about half the ship’s crew started dead run for their battle stations even though General Quarters had not sounded, AND most of us did not even bother to dress either. I grabbed a life jacket and a helmet and that’s about all and “took off”.
Just seconds later (it seemed like years) an announcement came over the loud speaker saying that some of the depth charges from our Destroyer escorts had broken loose in the storm, and that for some reason or other they had “been triggered” and gone off, so THAT was what we all thought was the Bismarck, and I can tell you that although we all felt kind of foolish, that we were also greatly relieved.
I have always had the greatest respect for The German Military Machine. My Dad always told me that if I lived long enough it would be to see the day that the Germans would lick the World. He was not far wrong. They have come uncomfortable close to it in the last two times that we have tangled with them, and I understand that the West Germans have the finest Army in Europe right now. …. I would not be the least bit surprised if they tried it again, except for the fact that weapons are so terrible today that it doesn’t seem possible that anyone would dare try it.
Tags: Pop's Letters