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War Around the World

At Sea / England



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War Around 
the World
At sea / England
Progress Report dated 
December 13, 1943


Nov 29 - 0900 Dictated and typed two letters to Commander Long and one to Lieut. Parsons. Also mailed to Commander Long a complete carbon copy of the manuscript of "Victory at Midway" with all changes underlined in green and exactly as the book will come out, as ordered by Commander Beecher and forwarded to him through commander Long. Enclosed to Lieut. Parsons all negatives in my possession of photographs of my paintings, and complete data pertaining to the paintings. This secures all my office business for my duty in New York. Standing by for transportation.

Nov 30 - 0800 Called 90 Church Street. "Not today". 1100 Lieut. Massey called to say to report to SO Church Street at 0900 tomorrow with orders. Finished packing all gear.

Dec 1 - 0900 Report for transportation at 90 Church Street and received all information. To 17 Battery Place to report to Lieut. Gautier by request. I am to be in charge of all Navy personnel aboard, 25 Officers and 295 men, and to act as liaison under the orders of the Commanding Army Officer aboard. 1300 Delivered heavy gear to ship.

Dec 2 - Report aboard at 2230 for transportation. On deck was handed a letter appointing me Commanding Officer of all Navy passengers aboard. Was also told that Captain L. S. Sabin, U.S.N. would be aboard traveling as casual. Found three groups aboard,  majority a Medical Unit and a group of Line Officers and men sent to organize an Amphibious Training Base. Five casual officers including Capt. Sabin, Lt. John Mason Brown and myself. Appointed Commander Officers of two groups, WOFA and SULK, and Lt. A.F. Kempe, USNR as my executive officer. Checked names of personnel, squared away papers and turned in 0200 with organization ready to function.

Dec 3 - On board NY-631 [Queen Mary]  - 0830 payed my respects to Capt. Sabin, USN, SOPA. Reported to Colonel R.N. Armstrong, T.C., Deputy Commandant and C. O. U. S. Forces, offered services and asked for orders. Had executive officer set up my office and start making corrected list of Officers and men and memorandums and Duty Officers Watch List. U.S. Navy.1000.- Had all Navy officers muster in lounge and gave talk on duties. Passed the word from Capt. Sabin to them. 1100 boat drill and C. Q. Mr. Towsand, Ship's officer, had working of  _____ davits and electric winches etc. explained to all my officers and a picked group of our enlisted men. 1145 A.R.F. drill. 1230 to 1600 learning my way about ship from bridges to D. deck and inspected men's quarters in this great ship. 1600 received lists from Lt. Kerrpe, Transportation Roster of Navy Officers, Memorandum to Navy Officers, debarkation instructions for Chief Petty Officers, WOFA Officers gear, VOFA Personnel gear, WOFA material, ammunition, field gear, equipment supplies etc. Also detailed lists of all SUIL gear. Watches set topside and below. Had Lt. Comdr. A.O. Codfroy, N.C. set Medical Officers Watch in sick bay. List completed of WOFA Mess Cooks, AOT crew and STUV mess cooks. Reported to Colonel Armstrong, submarine lookout watch and all other Navy duties met and then we all were standing by to cooperate in every possible way with his big army command. There are no lunches aboard, but three officers dinner messes at 1700-1800 and 1900. At 2000 to Capt. Sabin's stateroom and gave him "North Atlantic Patrol", "The Navy at War" and M.S. of "Victory at Midway" to read at his request. Has good talk and asked for and received instructive advice from him. Secured 2330. Ship sailed 1100 this day.

Dec 4 - At sea NY-631 [Queen Mary]. 0830 conference with my executive; 0930 meeting in ships lounge of all Task Force Commanders. 1045 A.R.P. drill. 1100 C.Q and U.S navy boat drill. 1115 ships inspection. 1200 topside to look about for sketch subjects. 1300 received daily orders from Colonel Armstrong and other ship's papers. 1430 report from Lt.Kempe. 1530 to Mr. Towsend to do over details regarding cordial relations with this British Ship's officers. 1600 to bridge to inspect Navy watch. 1630 Below to look over men's quarters. Found our C.P.O's quartered with men. Tried tactfully to alter this situation but decided it might cause friction with army, and petty officers took it in their stride as part of a very crowded army transport. Everybody in my command cheerfully and willing to make the best of personal discomforts. At the ship darkened at 1730 and my duties take most of the day, and moreover as there are five other officers in our small stateroom in three double decked iron bunks, there is only one small corner to write reports in. Therefore there is no opportunity to sketch on this short four and a half day voyage. At dinner Capt. Sabin asked me to his stateroom. Very pleased with "North: Atlantic Patrol" and "Victory at Midway" and said they should be in every ship's library. He was embarrassingly complimentary about both pictures and text, especially the battle. Today is warm as spring, blue water,_____, Gulf stream. 0000-0100 posting report.

Dec 5 - Sunday. At sea NY-631 [Queen Mary]. 0930 meeting of Task Force Commanders. 1045 all hands below for A.R.P. 1100 boat and raft drill. 1115 Ship's inspection. 1120 Orders of the day. 1400 Conference with Lt. Kempe. 1600 to Mr. Towsend for liaison and his report on our latch. 1700 going over duty with Navy N.C Officers. Secured.

Dec 6 - At sea, NY-631 [Queen Mary]. 0930 Task Force Commanders conference with Transport Commander. 1045 A.R.P. drill. 1100 Boat and raft drill. 1115 Ships inspection. 1120 Daily orders. 1200 Secure from boat stations. 1400 Conference with Lt. Kempe. Straightening out daily problems.1530 called on Colonel Armstrong. He is pleased with report Navy personal quarters. Inspection report marks "excellent". 1600 Received confidential debarkation orders, covering officers, personnel and storage and place of gear in hole. Reading them until 1730. Inspecting officers stateroom after blackout to see that all doors are on safety lock or completely opened and secured. That all canteens are filled, gloves warm gear and flashlights, handy. A number of these gentlemen had not been to sea before. Post reported secured. 2000 Movie, "Pride and Prejudice". Hollywood horror. 2230 to Capt. Sabin's stateroom for advice and shoot the breeze. 

Dec 7 - At sea, NY-631 [Queen Mary]. 0800 Conference with executive. 0930 Task Force Commanders conference with Transport commander. 1045 A.R.P. drill. 1100 Boat and raft drill. 1115 Ships inspection. 1120 daily orders 1200 Secure from boat stations. 1330 Task Force Commanders special meeting on debarkation. 1430 had k rations issued to all hands and special instructions read on debarkation. 1545 to 1730 Studying debarkation plans. Making sweep to far North. Running alone and fast. Gray sea and white spume. Two sub packs anxious to find us. Ports dogged down, blackout. The ships is like a great hotel, sealed up rolling slightly, gliding through space. Run down and shabby in a swank way, just like our best hotels look after an American Legion Convention. Below is transport. Thousands of troops all moulded into the same mass, all dyed the same color, sprawl, sit, stand and lie prone amid a litter or paper wrappings and gear. On the closed in, air tight promenade deck, in the dull gloom sleep rows of negroes with invisible faces and hands. Through the fog of foul tobacco smoke obscuring the dim battle lights stumble and swaying to the ship's roll move tired restless men, ghostly looms, wanting to go somewhere; always ending up abruptly where they began. The smell of their closed in bodies mingles sickeningly sweet with the sharp acid smoke. Through all this unreal world barks the brazen voice over the loud speaker, jarring tired ears that must listen. For back of all is the great order, the persistent effort, the relentless endeavor of out Allied countries. This is a big part of the battle of the Atlantic.

Dec 8 - At sea, NY-631 [Queen Mary]. 0830 Conference with my executive. 0930 Task Force Commanders conference with Transport Commander. Last instructions and questions on debarkation. No boat drill or A.R.P. 1130 Writing up report. 1200 Going over details with Lt. Kempe. 1700 To ship's bridge with Capt. Sabin to meet Ship's Master. 1800 Getting gear and papers together for leaving ship.

Dec 9 - Picked up pilot 1730 - anchored 0830. Navy debarkation officer aboard, meeting in warrant officer wardroom. All lists and data of Navy officers and personal given him. Complete list of luggage gear and destinations in. Routine sends 5 casual officers ashore first, Capt. Sabin, Lt. Comdr. Walker, Lt. Irwing, Lt. Brown and I all bound for London. Turned over rest of job to Lt. Kempe. Set small detail of our men to police decks, and had working party take our gear to gangway at proper time. Thanked Colonel, Staff officers and Ship officers. Dourock to starboard, Greenock to port. Pale Yellow sunlight breaking threw cold gray clouds obscuring tops of steep rugged hills. Stone houses, slate roofs. Buildings clinging to sides of steep hills, not unlike St Johns Nfld. After long cold wait on lighter got ashore and several hours later tool train to Glasgow. Five of us had dinner and could only get 3rd class sleepers to London.

Dec 10 - U.S. Navy 100. Arrived 0830. Reported Personnel Office. 1030 Got room for one night in mangy hotel. Had lunch with Dwight Shepler and long discussion on our duty. Cabled home. Found Commander Vining in and reported for orders. 1400-1530 Good talk and wants me to get settled and find my way about. Telephoning and trying to find rooms for tomorrow. Blackout city beautiful in moonlight.

Dec 11 - U.S. Navy 100. 1900 To office of Public Relations. Further talks with Comdr. Vining. He will start things going on Monday but wants me to stay three weeks here. Had me interviewed by "Stars and Stripes". 1200 Back to hotel and moved to new place for 2 days only. Haven't unpacked since New York. Took Captain Sabin to lunch and said good-bye. Charming shipmate. Cmdr. Write called at hotel to see 3 Navy books I have with me. 

Dec 12 - U.S. Navy 100. Sunday. Bad cold, rested.

Dec 13 - U.S. Navy 100. 1900 Comdr. Vining not in office, spent morning telephoning to find places to live. Lt. Cmdr. McKee taking me in for two days. Tried to pay my respects to Admiral H.R. Stark but as he was leaving couldn't see him. 1130 Back hotel packed up and moved 1400 to 1700 writing report, finished.

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