,t ti « ; III i t i ■. ,• I • 1 « ■ J ' itlf ' i I titJ •vstv nr Vf ' . ' H. lh; » .-. - k- ' ♦ . ' ' . ' V ' ' . ' i ' ) " . i united states ship MOUNT i ik it VERNON a navy transport i DEDICATED TO THE SHIP AND THE MEN WHO SAILED HER I i: i IN 1941, before the nation was at war, the Navy acquired the " S.S. Washington " , cruise ship of the United States Lines, renamed her the " U.S.S. Mount Vernon " , and converted her into the finest transport afloat. The story of the " Washington " had been a happy, carefree one during the days of peace, when she sailed as the pride of Amer- ica ' s expanding merchant marine. Tired business men, tourists, and starry-eyed honeymooners had enjoyed the comforts and luxury of the ship. Many a cocktail party and moonlight romance had flourished as the liner plied across the sea. The " Washing- ton " had been a great ship and a wonderful traveling companion during those days when mention of war was an idle topic of con- versation. As world conflict became more and more apparent, however, the ship that was later to join the Navy as the " Mount Vernon " found her task a very different one. Americans in all parts of the world were anxiously seeking passage home. Loaded beyond capacity, and sobered by the outbreak of war, she brought her people safely to the States. While hostilities were raging in Europe, the ship, still brilliantly white, was protected from attack of warring factions, by the United States flag. By June, 1941, the ship had exchanged her glistening white for a uniform of grey. Light openings were sealed to insure her dis- guise. Guns were mounted on her decks. The cabins were stripped of their lushness. Bare steel lined her spaces. The days of serenity were past. The days of doing a peace time task were over. The " Washington " had gone to war. A V. r CAPTAIN D. B. BEARY, U. S. NAVY (now Rear Admiral) commanding 16 JUNE 1941 TO II JUNE 1942 m 1 CAPTAIN P. P. POWELL. U. S. NAVY ■vV (now Commodore) commanding II JUNE 1942 TO 23 NOVEMBER 1943 - CAPTAIN E. P. ELDREDGE, U. S. NAVY commanding 23 NOVEMBER 1943 TO 15 NOVEMBER 1945 VH CAPTAIN S. H. THOMPSON. U. S. N. R. . vV commonding ir 15 NOVEMBER 1945 TO 15 JANUARY 1946 .■ , The first step up the inclined gangplank that June morning in San Francisco was the initiation into sea-going for the Naval Reserve units which reported aboard the " Mount Vernon " for duty. Struggling under a full sea bag and mattress, the boots wondered, " Why? " Expecting the worst, but excited by the spirit of adventure, the farm- ers, lumberjacks, and office workers of California, Michigan, and Mis- souri became the ship ' s crew. With " chow down " that evening, the ship sailed, bound for Panama and the Canal. During the days that followed, the men could not be- lieve they were not dreaming. They were supposed to be fighting men, swab jockeys or engineers; they were, in reality, passengers on a cruise. The merchant crew operated the ship; the Navy men familiarized them- selves with the decks. Working parties were formed to acquaint the men with " The Navy Method " . The long lasting feud between the Reg- ulars and the Feather Merchants started. The men worked hard at sleep- ing in deck chairs or sun bathing beside the outdoor pool. Everyone was up early at the arrival at the Canal. All cameras were confiscated and all work was stopped at the entrance. A good close up of the tropics was an answer to the yen of all would be Tarians. Bets were made on the strength of the electric mules which pulled the ship through the locks. The tremendous engineering feat of the cuts im- pressed the men. A constant lookout was kept for alligators that were supposed to Inhabit the lakes, but none was seen. The next few days provided distant views of the Islands of the Carib- bean. The pattern of life began to change with the Inauguration of personnel and bag inspections. The entrance to the Delaware River had everyone hanging over the rail again. The ship tied up at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. On 16 June the ship v as connmlssioned. Captain D. B. Beary assunned command. Chaos descended with a shift into dungarees. Everything loose was removed from the ship. The merchant crew left, the Navy crew moved into their vacated living spaces. They turned to, removing furniture, packing pots and pans, rolling carpets. The yard workmen descended wiVh their tools and commenced a methodical stripping of the ship. Although many inexperienced men had been included in the draft of the engineering personnel, the " Black gang " was built around ratings and men who had received ample experience in other flett units. Such were the men from the cruisers " Astoria " , " St. Louis " , and " Minneapo- lis " and the auxiliaries " Altair " and " Boreas " . Men like Chief Boilermaker Duval undertook the training of the new men. Contrasting strongly with the compact engineering plants of most Navy ships, the abundant space, harmonious arrangement of the machin- ery, simplicity and ease of operation immediately impressed the machin- ists, firemen, and water tenders as " good duty " . Many of the older Navy men marveled at the " push button " engine room elevator. By now, the black gang had a complete understanding of the entire routine. They relieved the merchant crew. The staff of engineering officers, however, accepted Navy commissions and remained aboard. In addition to their regular duties, the cooks, bakers, and mess cooks made up a bucket brigade carrying water aboard. Stores arrived and the deck hands had the job of moving them aboard. There were endless lines of deck men padding up and down the gang- way. This was the end of the luxury cruise. There were incessant calls for fire watches, watches which lasted twelve hours, and which began again as soon as one was secured. Men who rated liberty were known to have gone ashore with twenty-five cents in their pockets and slept on park benches all night in order to avoid staying aboard and standing a fire watch. The men agreed that they should have been born with brooms in their hands. From " up all hands " until " taps " was forgot, it was a constant sweep down, first one side and then the other. How the men could cause so much sweeping could never be understood. As soon as one area had been swept, another was in need of care. With the arrival of stores came the expectation of a cessation of the sweeping. Not so was the case. The lines of men carrying supplies trudged up and down the gangway, sweeping down between trips. Toward the end of the ship ' s stay in the Navy Yard, the memorable paint job of the Navy Yard painters took place. Arnned with spray guns, they came aboard and painted. Not only the ship was greyed. Anything in their way, whether a coat hanging on the bulkhead or a pile of crates, was painted. As those articles were removed in the future, their outlines remained. The ship was finally ready for her first big ad- venture. Out to sea, again, the ship left for New York City. The first load of troops boarded. The ship joined a huge armada for invasion maneuvers off the coast of New River, North Carolina. What followed was a month of hell. The " West Point " , " Wakefield " , and " Mount Vernon " were tested for their effectiveness as invasion transports. Hours, stretch- ing Into weeks, were spent shuttling troops from ship to shore. Boat crews worked ceaselessly, coming aboard every 36 or 40 hours to fall exhausted in their bunks, only to be sent out again. Fresh water was at a premium. Salt water was put through the showers; fresh water was rationed for drinking. Tired, sun blistered, and disgusted, the ship returned to New York in late August to debark troops. After a lay over In Hampton Roads, the ship proceeded to Boston. While the crew Investigated the city, gun emplacements were Installed aboard the " Mount Vernon " . Scolley Square and Beacon Hill did not realize they were saying " Goodbye " to the crew, not to see them for another two years. But the men had put two and two together. When the ship left Boston during the evening traffic rush, the men were not too surprised. The exact nature of their cruise was not revealed to them until they were well underway. Without a source of barside scuttlebutt, the ship ' s com- pany arrived in Halifax In the same condition as the weather: a com- plete fog. The ship remained at anchor, joining the chorus of fog horns. Speculation had been high regarding the appearance of the land, interest having been concentrated on bright lights. With long faces, the crew saw the bleak, weather-beaten countryside appear through the clearing weather. The Indians who lived along the shore greeted the ship in the true frontier style by letting go a few war whoops. That having enlivened the crew, they were disappointed again, when, instead of a rip-roaring frontier town, sleepy Halifax appeared around the bend. On liberty, the men found the town as quiet as they had feared. There was no place to go to uphold the reputations. After a few beers, a few souvenirs, and a walk on the main street, they relaxed and listened to the town ' s only excitement. In 1917, a French ammunition ship had rammed a Norwegian freighter. The excitement had been enough to last the city until the end of time. Back at the ship, British Tommies, shivering in the cold, awaited their time to come aboard. Some were prepared to not walk back, they had their bicycles with them. When, at the end of the week, the ship pulled out, she became part of a convoy including the " West Point " , " Wakefield " . " Leonard Wood " , " Diclcman " . " Hunter Liggett " . " Ranger " , " Orizaba " . " Astoria " . " Vin- cennes " , " Quincy " , " Cimmeron " , " Annapolis " and escorting destroyers. The British and the Americans soon became friends. International understandings were worked out by the mutual good nature of both parties. Some Tommies were on a working party which worked beyond their dinner hour. Their Commanding Officer had arranged with the Paymaster Commander McCray to have them served tea after the job was finished. When they arrived in the mess hall and found the tea. milk, and sugar, they hesitated. The chief commissary steward, noting their hesitation, asked, " Why? " " The tay. We ' re waiting for the tay, " the sergeant answered. " Well, there it is " , replied the steward. " But, ' es tay. " " That ' s right. " " But, ' es just tay. " " Yes, I know. I was supposed to give you tea. There it is. " The chief had become irritated. " But, tay means meat and vlttels. " The sergeant patiently explained. " When I ' m told to serve tea, I serve tea. Its there. You can drink It or leave it alone, I ' m going to hit my sack. " The chief left the bewildered group. As the weather became warmer and the novelty of passengers began to wear, rope yarn Sundays were started — on Wednesday afternoons. Boxing matches, arranged by Chaplain Martin took part of the time and amateur shows finished the day. Once the English put on a skit for the show. The American evaluation of the British brand of humor is well known. The course drew the ship through the passage called the Dragon ' s Mouth into the harbor of Port au Prince, Trinidad. Ship ' s company was intrigued by their first close up of a tropical island. They discussed the mysteries teyond the mountains, the pitch lake, and the liquor. Ten percent of the crew was allowed ashore. Those left aboard tried swim- ming off the fan tail. Divers made all manner of attempts at diving. Pulling themselves up the boat falls proved too strenuous in the tropical heat. Mail came aboard. Top priority of morale boosters is mail. Whether after a six months ' trip around the world or a week ' s crossing of the At- lantic, nothing gives the uplift of news or the sugar report. Carl Mut- schler CMaM has been getting the mail through to the ship ' s company with the least possible strain for quite some time. Helping, have been Hyland, Hoyer, Shields, and half the Marine detachment. Dire threats of impending happenings were casually dropped about the ship as the convoy steamed south. The ship was approaching the Equator. A small group walked the decks with lordly airs. All the loyal shellbacks prepared to pay homage to His Majesty, King Neptune. The polywogs discovered that they were greater in number and decided to ' ■ - do something about it. They tried! One morning Lassltar, the phar- macist ' s mate with the salesman ' s soul sneaked around the corner with a new hair cut. One half of his hair was cut scalp high. He reported that dental technician Bunting and himself had spent the night in the brig. Other polywogs looked over their shoulders more often as they wandered through the darkened passageways. The librarian Ravahel had published statistics proving that " Crossing the Line " had been fatal to some. Watch standers appeared in uniforms with subtle changes. The First Lieutenant, Commander Wilcox wore diving shoes, raincoat, and fire helmet and carried fire axes as accessories. Some of the other officers reported to the bridge to test the visual qualities of nozzles in place of binoculars. At 1300 the next day. King Neptune came aboard and held court. Salt water flowed freely. Arms, as well as rumps, ached from the swing- ing of paddles. Lieut, (jg) Wilder caught the back sweep of a paddle and spent several days in sick bay. Stitches closed the wound in a sailor ' s scalp. Initiates begged the Immediate Installation of the extra high mess hall tables (without benches). The crew sobered a few days later when the Captain told them they were in dangerous waters. All hands were ordered to carry life jackets. The tense feeling didn ' t last long. Even wearing a life jacket can be fun. Ward came from the medical storeroom wearing the bustle type. Piast tied the top and bottom fasteners of each side, turned it wrong side out, and wore it looking a visitor from Mars. Someone discovered that the kapok linings made excellent pillows. The canvas cover was much easier to carry without the insides, especially since the insides felt so comfort- able under the mattress. News came from the radio shack that the British ship " Dorchester " had sunk the German submarine supply ship, the " Python " . The victim had been refueling and supplying subs in the vicinity of St. Helena. That is- land was near! Halfway around the world, Hell broke loose that day, 7 December 1941. The kapok returned to the life jackets, and the life jackets returned to the men ' s backs. The Master at arms went about keeping all hands away from the rail. The sight of land had drawn everyone topside. The ship ' s policy was to keep the rails clear of draped men. McKibben never understood why he couldn ' t sit on the " fence " . Cape Town reminded many of California. Closer inspection, how- ever, revealed the lack of rain. The modern city disappointed those who had expected naked savages and mud huts. High above the city stood Table Mountain, eternal guardian of the city clinnbing at its feet. Cloud formations spread cloth-like over the top because of the constant wind. Devil ' s Peak, beside Table Mountain, was the Townspeople ' s point of vantage for the convoy entering the harbor. The Capetowners took the deluge of soldiers and sailors in their stride, providing transportation and tours. The cars followed a route through the gardened city, around Devil ' s Peak, Into the Cecil Rhodes estate, down the valley through Rondebush and Wyndcoup to the Dutch settle- ment. Whitewashed houses with thatched roofs lined the road to Ker- stenbosh, the wild flower preserve. More exciting, perhaps, was surf- boarding at the beach at Musenberg with its nine miles of white sanded beach. Supplies were received aboard labeled " H.M.S. Mount Vermin " . With regret, the convoy left Cape Town, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and sailed Into the Indian Ocean. Where next? The scuttlebutt said, " Bombay " . And Bombay It was — for all the convoy except the " Mount Vernon " . British Naval passengers aboard were transferred at sea to the British escort. The " M.V. " turned about. Christmas in the tropics was new to the men. Their memories of the day had included snow and lighted trees, holly and the snapping of logs im5-t«7v " burning in the fireplace. Christmas meant plum pudding and spiced apples. Christmas meant home. The ship moored that day in Mombassa, Kenya Colony, Africa. Mom- bassa was the idea of Africa which lives in the mind of the adventurer. It was the color of the jungle: unwanted orchids hacked from the trees by gardeners, basket weavers at work in the street, grasshopper cakes frying over charcoal, red fezed, nightshirted man pedaling his sewing machine. The Hindus who operated the stores enjoyed the bartering as much as the selling. The crew was initiated into the salesmanship rules of the East. The sale is secondary to the art of wrangling for the final cost. The price of animals was so small they appeared aboard ship: monkeys, dogs, even a goat. On the quarterdeck, Lieutenant Kirkpatrick, found a little grey monkey hiding. Attempting to be friendly, the GOD reached to pet the monkey. Covering its face with its hands, the little fellow cringed and shuddered. The GOD went closer. Eyeing the hand, the monkey suddenly grabbed with both fists, bit, wrinkled up his nose, and spat. The sentry ran aboard and reported, " Mr. Kirkpatrick, look, sir. " What they saw was an elephant, being led to the ship by its owner, a sailor. Stores arrived aboard in straw filled crates of bamboo or palm frond. - ' ,« n " ,b i Where oranges, apples, tomatoes, and papaya belonged, nnillions of cockroaches thrived. The progeny are still ship ' s connpany. Eggs (two dozen count) were packed in the same type of crate. The bakers dis- covered that the African count for twenty-four was sometimes eight. Sides of meat came aboard: water buffalo with a refreshing wild flavor. Some cuts were tender, but most were like piano wire or shredded wheat. Dr. Taber was forced to issue warnings about eating green fruit; too many were joining the Head Trotters Club. From Mombassa. the ship sailed to Addu Atoll, Maldive Island group. Seated on the equator, the tiny island was the perfect movie setting for a Dottie Lamour film. Under way again, the captain told all hands they were going into combat area — Singapore. The next afternoon, under a clear sky, the ship sailed into the Jahore Straits. The channel was narrow and the ship could not maneuver. After proceeding well into the channel the ship had to halt to allow a floating mine to slip by, missing the ship by a foot. The British ship following exploded the mine with rifle fire. The radios picked up an air raid warning: There were Jap planes coming. When the red circled bombers of the Nipponese flew into sight, rain clouds blew over and a heavy rain screened the ship from view. The planes could be heard overhead searching for the ship. They came over in waves, forty in all. The " M.V. " tied up to debark troops. A British oil tanker came along- side to fuel. The tanker ' s claim was that every ship she had fueled had been lost within three weeks. The " M.V. " ruined her record by staying afloat. Bartering for souvenirs began between both ships. The crew wanted Singapore mementos, the British wanted cigarettes. There was no liberty, as the city was under enemy siege but somehow all hands managed to get off the ship. Dog fights between Jap and British planes became commonplace. Thursday morning 15 January is the day still discussed. At 0945 an air raid alarm sent the ship to General Quarters. All morning, tense with excitement, the ship waited, the gun crews aware that our guns were not enough. It was still cloudy. All the city lay in complete silence. At 1230, Condition II was set. Half the battle stations crews went to chow. The chow line had just grown from the after mess hall out onto the fan tail, when a Jap plane dropped six bombs. Fortunately they landed in a field about a hundred yards from the ship. The ominous sight was their pattern: the exact length of the ship. The gunner ' s mates were to keep the guns ready for action for the next four years. This was the only occasion for their use. It was time to leave. The ship pulled out for Aden, Arabia. Life aboard resunned its usual routine. The empty passageways were both re- lieving and haunting. The peak of the volcano that was Aden appeared, and grew larger until, moored In the shadow of the towering mountain, the ship sent lib- erty parties ashore In motor launches. As soon as the sailors reached the beach they were deluged by a swarm of taxi drivers, money changers, jewelry merchants, and beggars — " Bakseesh Bakseesh!! " Mothers offered their children for sale. After an hour ' s haggling over the fares and points of Interest, the cabs set out to show off Aden, travel- ling from the port city, Lawahi, over the rise toward the narrow passage through the mountains. This pass was the " Needle ' s Eye " , hopefully con- nected with the " Needle ' s Eye " mentioned in the Bible. It was too nar- row for more than one cab at a time, and the drivers, horns screaming, raced for the pass, each side hoping to be first, and trusting to brakes to stop the cars in time in event of a tie. As the sailors entered Crater City, the real Aden, it appeared to them that long ago time had politely, but firmly stopped. Houses made from sun-dried mud, traversed by twisting, narrow lanes filled with Jews, Turks, Arabs, and goats, gave off a stench that soon benunnbed the nos- trils. It was necessary to barter for purchases here. If the dealer asked $300.00, one offered $3.00, and eventually the two agreed on a price of about $30.00. Still, the winner of the deal was always the shopkeeper. The crew soon voted Aden the training ground for all Pawnbrokers. Com- mander Darden, Lt. Cdr. Esling, Norman Wachel, Herb Lundmark, and A. C. Woodward escorted the butcher, Joe Karem as interpreter, to purchase native rugs from Crater City. He spoke Arabic, and proved ■STiiiiiill SHOmCtRSOTTlf FOtiOVKi I SERVICES TO connEAORxn; PBn5« TROOPS WEPF OfflfD 111 WdTs FOR THi FIRST Tiw, iirmirww ilUGADE HEAOQUARTTR I .|A| I IPRPS OF HOYAl , " OYAL COHPS iHEROYAINORFluiN hi(.)a ini IHfCAAVBKir iiUl 1 !-( VALARMYCH M ' IMNSIIITU YAl ARM ;,L.UVn I . Ml. ' ! " YAL mm wm. YAL ARMY IIWIIINXN ;P5 — FMDN INlFl.l.Hii: fnioi " ; III Mil n«; ' llAUimiAIIWtt- ' ilHUAnillE Invaluable to the purchasers. It was possible, after the usual haggling with the drivers, to make a tour out past the nriodern Allied airfield into Arab City, a town centuries old, where the Camel was the motive power for running the machinery that pumped water, ground meal, and turned windlasses. One of the men met a British Flyer, and had an air view of the area. He came down shaking at the knees, having had a few pot shots come his way while over Vichy French territory. The last night in port Aden an incredibly large moon slipped up over the horizon. A ship was in the process of coaling. Natives carrying baskets of coal on their heads chanted as they worked. Softly their voices floated over the water. Through the Red Sea there was only one subject for scuttlebutt: " Through the Suez Canal, and back home? " Mail had not been received for two months, and news from the States was scarce. Didn ' t the British show surprise when they saw the " Mount Vernon " in Aden? Hadn ' t re- por ts been broadcast the Japs had sunk the Mighty Mount? But the ship stopped just at the south tip of the Canal and embarked troops. There was no chance to get ashore, but the shore came to the ship. Native vendors came with cheap trinkets, mostly leather goods to barter with the " Yanks " . The favorite method of trade was to see the article, haggle for the price, send a bucket over and get the article, then send the money over. Woe to the merchant that cheated! There was a twaand one-half inch hose in readiness with pressure to turn the dealer ' s boat over. The ship looked with great respect when the towering Aussies came aboard. After several years of bearing the brunt of the fighting in the Mediterranean area, the boys were finally enroute home. The several thousand " Diggers " were soon taken to heart by the Yanks. Most of them towered head and shoulders over the crew. And soon officers and men of both nations were bartering for souvenirs from both the States and the Holy Land. The Aussies attached themselves to the sailor or a group of sailors they liked and followed them about like St. Bernards. Down through the Red Sea the ship made her way again, only to be stopped by a plane out of Aden. Orders were to turn back. Scuttlebutt raged again among both the Aussies and ' the crew. Upon returning to Aden, however, the orders were discovered to be a mistake. The next port was Columbo, Ceylon, one of the most famous jewel markets of the world. The crew were soon proudly showing their pur- •• »-£- chases. Each one made a better bargain than the rest. By this time all hands were seasoned in the art of trade and settled down to sensible bargaining. Tours were made by rickshaw along the Cinnamon scented byways. A stop was necessary at the Buddhist Temple, where boys were waiting to remove the visitors shoes — for a tip — and to offer for sale such things as Sanskrit texts on palm leaf scrolls, and, of course, the gift for the priest. The officers were pleased with the reception at the Galle Face Hotel on the sea walk. The enlisted men took over the Oriental Hotel. At first the Aussies, too, had liberty, but due to their failure to report back to the ship, they received orders to remain aboard. It was their first time off in two or three years, but some of the town had to be kept intact. Shortage of fresh water brought about the securing of the shower water, even though the weather was insufferably hot. Late one night a rainstorm came, and crew, officers, and passengers alike stripped and went on deck to wash down in the rain. Loaded with tea, jewelry, and souvenirs, the ship got under way for Australia. A few days out of port the ship ' s radio intercepted a distress call from a supply ship pursued by enemy subs, headed for our desti- nation, and on our course to Fremantle. Battle condition Two was set, and all hands arrived in port completely worn out. Half the crew went ashore in Fremantle, the port of Perth. The troops debarked in Adelaide. None of the crew were allowed off the ship, but with a railroad Kiosk nearby, everyone agreed that Australian ice cream was nearest to the Stateside confection. Survivors from the Philippines and from American ships sunk in the Macassar Straits Battle came aboard. Such a mixture of uniforms as the survivors and refugees wore had never before been seen! A U. S. Navy Captain in his blue uniform coat, army pants, Aussie shirt and yellow high-top shoes was a typical example. A number of civilians were brought aboard as well as Naval survivors. Among them was Mrs. E. E. Sayre, wife of the Philippine High Com- missioner. It was the first time in her Navy career that the ship car- ried woman passengers. Captain Cook first set foot on New Zealand In Wellington, and while its climate is one of the healthiest in the world, when the ship arrived there the crew was much more excited in the reception given by the townspeople. Everyone was welcome! The " Mount Vernon " was the first American vessel in the port since war had been declared, and the first Navy ship s ince the middle thirties. The crew explored every res- taurant and nnilk bar in the city. James McCracken drove one waitress to distraction by asking for chocolate sauce, strawberries, and marsh- mallow put over ice cream, delicately balanced on two banana halves. She threw up her hands and walked away with the comment, " These Yanks, They ' ll eat anything! " Souvenirs consisted of greenstone or wood Maori Tickies, and Para shell articles. The men were excited to see a whole town full of white women in modern clothes — women who were friendly. It was nice too, to see men in pants, instead of table cloth Lava Lavas trailing below men ' s conventional suit coats. While everyone enjoyed Wellington, they were overjoyed when the ship pulled out. This time she was headed for the States. Passengers and ship ' s company alike were in a jovial, talkative mood. Even Cap- tain Beary, usually a grave quiet man, chatted freely with anyone who came his way. Rope yarn Sundays were not necessary to keep up the morale. Tuesday, 3! March 1942, five months after she had left Boston on the voyage which was to take her around the world, the ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. She was home! - - »= FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS. San Francisco was to represent America to the crew. Passing under the Golden Gate Bridge meant stateside liberty! Fourteen trips to the islands of the Pacific climaxed in a return to the city. Always a favorite port of the crew, San Francisco afforded a rollick- ing time, despite the fact that money disappeared in a short period. Stories have been told of sailors greasing the rails of the cable cars, making the descent of California Street uninterrupted, and much faster than usual. Rationing of golf balls limited the joy of playing on the city ' s golf links, particularly with the dog leg hole leading into the ocean. Swim- ming was too cool for comfort after the men became accustomed to the South Pacific beaches. An hour before sunset the ship ' s personnel mingled with the crowd gathered at the " Top of the Mark " , selecting the choice window seats and watching the night creep up on the city. Later in the evenings the International Settlement felt the presence of the " Mount Vernon ' gang. " Nellie " Nelson announced his arrival in one bar filled with Coast Guardsmen by shouting, " Standby, shallow water. Let the deep blue sea f-.T roll in! " The Coast Guardsmen becanne seasick when they saw his escorts; Boden, Butler, and the rest of the ship ' s gunners mates, and the sea rolled in. Eating places and bars were found everywhere. In fact, a marriage was performed in one of the bars, with the crew of the " Mount Vernon " participating. Those who felt too crowded in the city proper spread out over the bay area and in the towns down the peninsula. Ships must sail, however, and accomplish their missions. The " Mount Vernon " was no exception. She left San Francisco on various trips bound for Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne, Australia; Auckland and Welling- ton, New Zealand; Noumea, New Caledonia; Suva, Fiji; Milne Bay, New Guinea; Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Bombay, India. Even San Francisco could not hold a troopship forever. Adelaide, Australia is about an hour ' s train ride up the river from the port. The train, running from the port to the city, is pulled by an engine purchased from the states; the model was popular here in the eighteen hundreds, and the train jerks, and tosses, and stops, it seems, every several hundred yards. Cut off from the rest of Australia by a chain of mountains, the city is a quiet, overgrown country town. Like all cities of English design, it appears old and worn. Adelaide is not large, but what it lacks in size, it makes up in the number of pubs. There were no activities until eve- ning, then, in the blackout, the glow of cigarettes marked the lines of people awaiting entrance to the theatres. In the blackout the sound of footsteps was amplified. This sound rose in volume as the theatres loosed their crowds onto the streets. Several dances were held for the entertainment of the Yanks. The last night In port a dance was scheduled, but liberty was cancelled. There was a mass ship-jumping move, and by 1900 the ship was deserted. Working parties on the dock, under the supervision of Dudley, suddenly had cargo nets filled with sailors headed for town. At that time the ship was In possession of oversized S.I. cans. One of the men, in dress blues, secreted himself in the can, had a couple of fellows cover him with newspapers, carry him to the dock, and set the can down behind some packing cases, where he climbed out and took off. Other men were able to get off over the stern lines. Upon returning, the boys solved the problem of boarding the ship In an equally ingenious manner. Over in cargo nets they came. Some, borrowing leggings, the long coats, and the hats of the Aussie soldiers worlclng on the dock, boldly walked aboard, saluted the O.O.D. and said that they were to work in the hold that was being loaded. It sud- denly occurred to the O.O.D. that a very large nunnber of Aussies were conning aboard, especially when he saw a cargo net filled with coats, hats and leggings leaving the ship from number six hold. The next man, he stopped — it was a sailor. Ten men in all came aboard reporting that they were Ramos, Sic. relieved from gate watch. Lt. Harvey called Midshipman O ' Riley and ordered him to make a tour of the ship to stop the illegal returning aboard. A man, in a soldier ' s coat was part way up the stern line. O ' Riley ordered him back and when he continued on toward the ship, pulled his " 45 " . With the remark " You win! " , the man crawled back and presented himself to the O.O.D. Mr. Harvey caught another in a Digger uniform, and, at the point of a gun marched him aboard and arrested him. A more successful means of returning to the ship was climbing down the dock, walking along the camel, and entering the fuel port. All in all, there were 48 deck courts, and 8 summary courts. The ship never returned to Adelaide. SYDNEY claimed to be a second New York. In a few ways, they are comparable. Both have their harbors. New York has her Central Park, Sydney has her Domain. The contrast between the bright lights of Cen- tral Park and the blacked-out Domain was obvious; two of the chiefs carried blankets ashore. The Troc was the " Mount Vernon ' s " while she was in town. The Balti- more made larger sandwiches; the waitresses never left the plates, but jerked them off the table as soon as the customer finished. Replace- ments were impossible to find. Sydney did have food, rare items such as Pig Trotters In jelly at the Carleton, Toheroa soup from Adam ' s Fish Cafe, a peculiar grey liquid called coffee. Milk bars stood at every corner. Traffic was a bother, they were going the wrong way on the right side of the street. Busses carried their gas bags on their tops. The people of King ' s Cross learned not to call all Americans " Yanks " . Most of the southern men of the ship pounded the Information Into their heads. Brake had never been seasick aboard the ship. The ferry to Luna Park accomplished what the " M. V, " could not do. Leaning over the rail, he lost his balance, and landed in the drink. The ferry stopped. He was fished from the water. Luna Park was at the foot of the Sydney Bridge, across the bay from Woolomolo. Any night of the week, a muster of the sailors Included the entire liberty section. Durst was discovered on his hands and knees sifting In the sands. Attempting to be helpful, Jack Parsons wandered down started searching, too. " What are we looking for? " asked Parsons. " My tooth " , said Durst. " I was standing on the bridge and spit it out. " J r In Sydney Captain E. P. Eldredge reported aboard after flying from San Francisco and relieved Captain P. P. Powell. The change of com- mand ceremony followed the standard order of procedure. Following the reading of orders, the new commanding officer shook hands with his officers as they were introduced to him. The exact opposite of Sydney is Melbourne, a quiet residential town. For some unknown reasons, the navigators were not able to bring the ship closer to town than the 45 minute train ride distance. After leaving the train at the Central Station, following through the subway, and rising to the street level, the American literally bumped into the mass of humanity. Having just come from the States, he, of course, forgot that the Aussies walk " on the wrong side of the street " . Ship ' s company checked up on souvenirs: Urban and Honor in the jewelers looking at opals, DesRosiers considering the purchase of a hand carved chess set, only to find that the store had been closed for an hour. Trees grew from the sidewalks of Elizabeth Street. Arm and arm, the ship ' s company and the Aussie girls giggled at each other ' s accents. Cline and Rowe had the misfortune of ordering doughnuts in a restaurant which sold American coffee. Advertisements call the Hawaiian Islands the Paradise of the Pacific, and the crew watched with eagerness the dinn gray blur on the horizon change into colorful mountains of Oahu. Famed Diamond Head excited comments. The sweep of Waikiki Beach, the Royal Hawaiian hotel, the shops and the residences shifted into view as the ship moved on toward Pearl Harbor. Already past the Punch Bowl, the ship suddenly received the word, " Dock in Honolulu. " The usual greeting of Aloha was missing. There were no bands to play, no leis were offered for sale. The business section of the city was attractive. The buildings were a varied architectural style, but all were planned to keep interiors cool. Leaving the immediate business section, the change to poverty was so abrupt that it was shocking. The oriental section was even more shabby. Farther out toward Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, the mecca of wealthy tourists, contained more elaborate homes and shops. In the transition area there were shops catering to sailors filled with cheap souvenirs. They were packed with crowds that did not purchase. Disgusted, the owners barked their wares as the crowds looked bored and walked on into the streets. At Waikiki Beach, everyone was disappointed in what was one of the famous beaches in the world. To keep from cutting their feet on the coral washed up on the beach it was necessary for the swimmers to wear sandals. However, the men had their pictures taken there in order to have the background of Diamond Head. In the shops along the beach road and on the streets the women wore red or white hibiscus behind their ears and in their hair. Ration- ing was unheard of in the islands — except for whiskey. The Royal Hawaiian hotel, having been turned over to the Navy, was enjoyed by the men. The tropical setting of the gardens, badminton and tennis courts made playing more enjoyable. Near the Y.M.C.A. busses were loaded for the Pali pass and the other side of the island. Up a winding road past palatial mansions, by the Hawaiian Water Reservoir, by the upside down water fall, through a jungle, the bus suddenly came to an opening at the top of the knife- like ridge that bisected the island. The earth seemed to drop away. Several hundred feet below, the floor of the valley stretched out to accommodate cane fields, papaya groves, and banana plantations. Hairpin curves took the bus down through the valley and to the beach. The Beach USO provided a recreation center with dressing room facili- ties. The surf was ideal for all types of water sports; shoes were not necessary. The beach floor was smooth and level. Pearl Harbor, a large bay with many coves, was filled with activity as ships were repaired, refueled, fitted out, and countless other tasks were completed necessary for keeping the vessels at sea. Remnants of the Jap attack were still visible. Nature hid the stern mountains of the FIJI ISLANDS under a lush blanket of undergrowth and jungle. Surrounding the shore line were long treach- erous coral reefs requiring expert navigation of inconning ships. Here, the crew of the " Mount Vernon " found an Army bivouac, a Naval Supply Base, and a hospital — but no city. A few native huts were scat- tered about; a few Army tents dotted the area; several storehouses in- dicated some form of activity. Taking of photographs was permitted. Suddenly, many cameras ap- peared that had not been seen before. Everyone tried to get his picture standing with the Fuzzy-Wuzzy policemen. Wearing dark shirts and pure white scalloped lava lavas, the barefoot police created a sensation. Patients evacuated from the advance battle areas to the Fiji hospital were transferred aboard. The facilities for care of the pa- tients were comparable to any hos- pital ship ' s. Under the direction of Dr. Taber, the medical department had been organized. Under Dr. Jostes ' direction, it had been en- larged and improved. A new oper- ating room had replaced the " board- on-bathtub " apparatus formerly in use. From Fiji to San Francisco, these patients had uninterrupted medical care. Palm trees and jungle along the beach against the backdrop of nnist covered nnountains rising high in the distance gave the New Guinea coast a forbidding but ainnost ethereal appearance. The ship entered Milne Bay with caution as charts and navigational aids along the Guinea coast were many times Inaccurate. During the stay, however, evidence of the real characteristics of the country became apparent. Beyond the sand beaches was nnud and the boiling humidity of the air with the constant danger of malaria and fungus infection in the jungle. Troops were de- barked on the beach and the ship steamed away from the area. For- tunately, the stay had not been a long one. Following the sweeping curve around the island mountain guarding the entrance of the Auckland Bay, the outskirts of the city could be seen. Woods grew in clusters between residential areas, and reached down to the swimming beaches. The Grecian architecture of the Art Museum belonged on the hillside overlooking the bay, and the graceful arches of a bridge ended near Victoria park. There was the city. The brick houses, tight against each other, covered the hills, their countless chimney pots giving Auckland a domestic and homey atmosphere. Docking by the ferry building with its tall clock tower, the crew of the " Mount Vernon " found themselves strategically located at the foot of the city ' s principal throughfare. The shops were crowded together, suggesting genteel poverty. Eliza- beth street branched to form a " Y " , and to the right the King ' s Place theatre was next to the roller skating rink where the " Mount Vernon " boys were to be found. " fSTl Purchasing greenstone rings, and the Maori Ticki (their good luck charm) carved boxes and other articles made from para shells, the crew found the shop keepers showing the half penny with the Maori ticki em- bossed on it. These cut out, made bracelet charms. Several of the many restaurants were serving the evening meal. A five course dinner could be purchased for thirty-five cents. The wait- resses always asked the sailors if they wanted lettuce and tomato. Des- sert and beverage always came extra. The room space in all shops was small. The restaurants were crowded with minute tables, and the waitresses had to do a great deal of careful maneuvering. Carrying their trays of steak and eggs or fish and chips, they looked in complete bewilderment at the food desires of the Americans. , . ftj 1m 1 fe? ' Wj Til ES iiu ' ' " ' V J mug i " The best place to get coffee is the American Bar " was the word whispered around, and all hands managed a stop there betore return- ing to the ship. Movie theatres " booked " each performance. Each show was sched- uled and shown as if it were a stage production. The short subjects came first, then the " interval " during which tea, coffee, ice cream and biscuits were sold. Then the picture. The streets were packed for the next half hour as the down towners hurried to catch the " last tram " home. At the dance hall in Albert ' s Park could be found the men of the ship. Tours out to Mount Eden, an extinct volcano, were made by tram or bus. The town across the bay attracted many, but the ferry trip caused most of the men to remain in the Auckland area. r fii niHaL ' Alone, the lighthouse stood guard at the edge of the reef. Ships came close aboard, made a sharp turn and slid between coral shelfs. The mountains were high and blue in the distance, but the hills at the harbor ' s edge were barren. Noumea, looking like a mining camp, was at the head of Dumbea Bay. During peace, the Clippers halted here, but with the world at war, countless Allied ships lay at anchor, refueling, taking on supplies, or giving the men a chance to set foot on solid earth after months at sea. Noumea had little to offer for entertainment. Bars were shambles, hastily thrown together. Good liquor was served for the first two or three drinks, and then it was exchanged for inferior brands. The huge Tonganese soldiers watched the long line of " Yanks " against the wall surrounding the Pink Palace. The souvenirs were not products of Noumea, but they were purchased by the Americans: wood carving from the Tonga Island and trinkets from the South Sea Curio Company. At the Army PX attractive French girls served coffee, malted milks, ice cream, or sandwiches. Officers spent their time at the Officers ' Club in the Hotel Pacific. The view of the city from St. Joseph Cathedral was excellent, lying spread under the billowing clouds of yellow smoke from the nickel smelters. Javanese women with their wrap-around skirts and Immense straw hats moved quietly among the cosmopolitan crowds of Chinese, Tonganese, British, American, and French natives. Water snakes and fungus infection resulted in the cancellation of swim- ming. Hunting parties were arranged when the time permitted. Chief Specialist Jerome Zerbe, Cafe Society photographer, was as- signed to the ship, reporting aboard the night before sailing. Preparing to retire, Zerbe donned a pair of bright pink pajamas. About 0200, Johnson, CWT, came aboard from liberty. Turning on the light he saw Zerbe blissfully asleep. Johnson was panic stricken. When he could control his laughter he led the Officer of the Deck in and pointed to Zerbe. Next he showed the sleeper to all the messengers and to the men returning from liberty, until the OOD had to send Johnson to bed. Later, when the ceremony of crossing the line was in p rogress, Zerbe was re- quired to parade around the ship in the pinkies. With the arrival In New Caledonia In 1943, the ship was called upon to furnish replacements for Admiral Halsey ' s fleet. Almost three quarters of the deck force was transferred. Shortly after, a new draft reported aboard in San Francisco. Fortunately, conditions were not as bad this time as they had been when the commissioning crew took over In Phila- delphia, for there remained a nucleus of the experienced personnel. Several of the men who came aboard as seamen in the first draft of 1942 had now become responsible petty officers. There was Villanelli, who took over the reins of the First division in 1943 and remained in charge until he was made chief In the fall of 1945. In the Second division " Smiley " Witter and " Red " Clifton were given charge of the division. nf .i. ii Taj Mahal Hon The Transportation division, working with the permanent Army staff aboard, was responsible for the handling and caring for the six thousand passengers. It insured proper berthing and messing schedules, and main- tained cleanliness in the troop living spaces. One of the few larger trans- ports to do so, the " Mount Vernon " served three meals each day to all passengers, a total of nearly 20,000 meals daily — over eighteen tons of food! After one month at sea, interrupted by only two days in Melbourne, the " Mount Vernon " docked at Ballard Pier in the harbor of India ' s most famous city — Bombay. Then began a two week education in the art of bargaining which made the members of the crew expert tradesmen. It had been rumored that diamonds, rubys, and other valuable articles could be had at a cheap price in India, but it soon became appare nt that the shopkeepers were selling nothing cheap. The rupee, worth about thirty cents, and the anna, worth a little less than two cents, became familiar words to the ship ' s personnel, who soon learned that they were not ex- pected to pay the price first asked. The Indians were masters of the art of bartering, and could wear a pained expression that would give the buyer the impression he was stealing from them rather than purchasing an article. The first liberty party returned to the ship with ornate tables and baskets, silver filigree pins, ivory carvings, and brassware with colored designs. The favorite souvenir was a mounted mongoose-snake fight. Night found many at the Taj Mahal hotel, or the Green hotel relaxing with a cool drink of South African brandy or gin. The drink was very different In taste from the usual American beer or bourbon, but it had much the same effect. People In Bombay were strange In appearance and customs. On the streets women could be seen wearing a small jewel In the side of the nose just as In the States women wore earrings. Women also wore saris which they gracefully draped around them. Some of the saris were embroid- ered in a fine gold thread and cost hundreds of dollars. In contrast to the expensive garments were the multitudes of penniless beggars. Everyone walked around the sacred cows, and the killing of them was considered a sin. Such men as enjoyed playing the horses found that Bombay had a beautiful racetrack, but the " ponies " were not in the same class with those on tracks of Santa Anita. There were many temples, rich In gold, silver, and jewels, for the sailors to admire. Crawford Market, where one could buy anything from flowers to monkeys was an unusual sight. The bazaar consisted of peddlers on the street, shops which were mere stalls, and elaborate silver shops. The ship sailed from the land of the " hobba hobba " and " bum boats " in company with the " Mariposa " . Less than twelve hours after depar- ture, an ammunition ship, near which the ship had been moored, blew up, sinking and damaging several ships and starting large fires on the shoreline. Had the " Mount Vernon " been there she would probably have suffered serious damage. Among the passengers embarked at Bombay were a group of Indian Hindus, whose customs and mode of life offered an Interesting sight on shipboard. Since it was necessary for them to cook their own food, they set about it at once. Only prompt action prevented their building an open fire on the deck forward on " B " deck. They were then taken to the galley where they prepared their own dishes, while the ship ' s cooks looked on in amazement. Few of the crew envied the passengers their meals. Their staple diet consisted of curry and rice cooked with fish-heads. Steaming away from Bombay was not without its tense feeling of ex- pectation, for at that time there existed a serious submarine menace in the Indian ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Several ships had been recently torpedoed. The trip from Bombay to the States was bound to be long. That, no one doubted. When the ship, almost home, made a wide sweeping turn and headed southeast, all hope of an early arrival was doomed. " Where was the ship going? " " Hadn ' t the cruise, already a month at sea, been long enough? " " Why was the ship diverting? " " Diverting, that was it! " , the scuttlebutt streamed forth. Right it was. On May 14, the " Mount Vernon " entered the Panama Canal, ending her Pacific travels. ■vf i ►ir t r ' j y ' i During the long weeks of the Pacific voyage, the athletic program of the ship was utilized to its maximum extent. War had emptied the swim- ming pool and brought the space and equipment devoted to recreation to a minimum, but due to ample deck space, ahletic competition proved practical and popular. Interest of the ship ' s commanding officers had always been reflected in shipboard athletics. One had been extremely interested in the tradi- tional Navy sport of boxing. Another, whose interest followed volleyball, had notified officers of any such games by sending an orderly with the message: " Captain ' s compliments. Volleyball will begin on the arena in five minutes. " During the Pacific cruise, however, basketball caught the interest of the crew and passangers, and, with the active support of the commanding officer, became the center of the most far-reaching athletic program the ship had seen. Such athletic pursuits were in addition to an extensive program of calisthenics each morning which kept the officers and men in top physical condition. The Pacific cruise saw the first of the basketball tournaments, consist- ing of competition between divisions. Corpsmen of the " H " division and deck hands of the Second division rated as the top teams in the initial round of play. With the development of scores of expert players, an All-Ship team was organized for competition with passengers as well as teams from other ships. Although many strong Army teams were de- veloped aboard, only three times were the passengers successful in de- feating the ship ' s enlisted squads. In the years to follow approximately thirty of these Army-Navy games were played aboard. When the vessel steamed into the Atlantic, weather conditions, although often unfavor- able, seldom caused cancellation of the program, and games were played many times In almost freezing temperatures. i k OPERATIONS ATLANTIC were, for the most part, varied. At times, the seas mounted and showed power unsuspected; the waves tossed the ship as If she were a piece of wood; they sprayed eighty-five feet to her highest deck; they slowed her travel. Such was the trip of the " Big Roll " at which time the ship listed thirty-two degrees before righting herself. At times, however, the silence and the calm were hypnotic; the sea brought back memories of the quiet lake off in the woods at home. Once in a while, the wind blew the wrong direction from the Boston Fish Pier, or fronn the fertilizer plant in Norfolk, but the greater portion of the time, the breezes were from the sea, without the benefit or dis- comfort of having crossed land in the immediate vicinity. Most of the time spent on Atlantic Operations was spent ON the Atlantic, shuttling our troops between Boston, New York City, and Norfolk on the stateside and Liverpool, Naples, and Marseilles over there. Occasionally, the rou- tine was pleasantly interrupted by deviation to another port of call: Glas- gow, Oran, or Gibraltar or by a varied passenger list. Red Cross Workers, en route to the European Theatre joined the ship ' s company in post-victory dances on the sun deck. USO troupes pre- sented their productions for the entertainment of all present. Casualties we carried, supplying them with complete medical service uninterrupted between foreign and home base. Displaced persons we carried to their homelands; prisoners we carried to our land. All foreign ports of call showed physical affects of war and bombings. They revealed, too, the history, architecture, and culture of the people. The troops which stormed the Normandy beachheads " D " Day were reinforced by men en route to England aboard the " Mount Vernon " and the other ships under the command of the Naval Transport Service (At- lantic) that day. She became one of the span of ships across the ocean, an important one. Six thousand men a trip guaranteed her importance as a troop carrier. These men embarked at Boston, but they were the men of the Eastern cities and the Western plains, the Northern factories and the Southern hills. The majority of troops and passenger personnel carried expressed their approval or disapproval of the ship verbally. One, an officer of the Italian forces, however, leaped overboard with suicide or escape to a passing ship as his intent. Adroit ship handling by Lieutenant (jg) Kayser and expeditious lowering and operating of the motor whaleboat by Cox- swain Hughes resulted in a successful rescue at sea. Following the orders of Radio Washington, on 26 January 1945, the " Mount Vernon " altered her course and proceeded through cold fog to stand by a tanker afire at sea. Preparations for boarding with fire gear were completed, but not carried out as the " Mount Vernon " was ordered relieved by a Coast Guard fire boat. The relief arrived only after all hands aboard were benumbed by cold. Nothing compares with BOSTON. As a home port, she reflected her many facets upon the ship. She was Beacon Hill and Back Bay; Scolley Square and East Boston. She was damp fog; she was musical moonlight; she was a sunny afternoon on the Commons, hier music was the sym- phony on the Esplanade or the jive at the Lighthouse. The Statler, Essex House, and Imperial knew when the ship arrived. They missed us when she left. We missed Boston, too. Arrival in Boston 22 May 1944 marked the beginning of the ship ' s Atlantic operations. Summer had not yet arrived in Boston, and the day seemed doubly cool after continued exposure to tropical and southern Pacific climate. Commonwealth Pier was to become the welcome mat and the scene of fond farewells. Boston is a bank in which much of this country ' s historical richness has been stored. One can reflect the pre-Revolutionary Days of the Massa- cre, of Paul Revere ' s ride to destiny, of Redcoats and red blood in the snow. The State House still overlooks the Commons and the antique stores around its base. Paul Revere ' s Home, Old North Church, and the fields of nearby Lexington and Concord lead one into the past, along roads lined with field stone fences, once gun supports but now quietly ivy-covered. One of the quartermasters had not learned of the lifting of the black- out. He distinguished himself and saved the darkness by climbing the hundred foot mast and personally blowing out the light which was burn- ing there. Such action, of course, followed arrival aboard from liberty. Two all hands evolutions which caused no griping were the Ship ' s Dances at the Bradford Hotel ballroom. Continuous dancing was made possible by the alternate use of two dance orchestras. Chiefs Jenny and James played hosts at the dance supper. In addition, dances held by the steward ' s mates proved extremely suc- cessful during the stay at Boston. Because she was a troopship and des- tined to carry hundreds of passenger officers and officer status civilians, the number of stewards and steward ' s mates assigned to the " Mount Ver- non " was large. Chief Steward Wilson returned from the Fleet Reserve to take charge of the first group who joined the ship at commissioning, and was on the ship at the time of the Boston party. Before he was to retire sometime afterwards at the end of thiry-three years service, he and his stewards were commended for their efficiency in caring for the pas- sengers. ' Vhtj ' W A duty of the Marine sentries was the inspection of boarding pas- sengers for animals and other pets could not be allowed aboard. One small puppy, however, proved too much for the sympathetic heart of one Marine sentry, and was allowed aboard — to stay. She grew up as " Dinah " , the pride of the Commanding officer, and unofficial ship ' s mas- cot. Her watch on the bridge wing amazed and sometimes intimidated the Army passengers aboard. Dinah enjoyed the distinction of being the only dog to be ordered to the bridge via the ship ' s public address system. As ordered, she proudly reported to the bridge bearing a note; " Captain, I have inspected the fo ' c ' sle " . For more than a year she never strayed from the ship, but the afternoon prior to her scheduled departure with the Commanding officer, Dinah jumped ship, and for three days explored the Norfolk Navy Yard, and Portsmouth, Virginia. When found she was returned to the ship for further transfer to civilian life. To insure the maximum order and best handling of the thousands of passengers, Marine sentries and guards patrolled ship. The peculiar con- ditions which arise on a troopship led to many incidents not covered by the accepted Marine " Instructions to Sentries " . On one voyage, the ef- ficient " A " Deck sentry was seen helping a young female passenger hang up her washing, a service above and beyond the call of duty. ' m " ' r t ' - ; v t ' ' " " fl ' o 1 3, ' , -i.A- fJ- , A • LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND, third largest of England ' s ports of call had as its main attraction a gigantic floating pier. It was large enough to accommodate both ourselves and our sister ship, the " USS Wakefield " , at the same time. Like an elevator, it rose and fell v ith the thirty foot change of tide, allowing ships moored alongside to set their lines taut, and not shift with the tide changes. There is a story the British tell. If Liverpool does not have rain in the morning, she ' ll have it in the afternoon. If the city has rain in the morn- ing she ' ll possibly have it in the afternoon, anyway. The continual fog, rain, or dampness hovers over the city, adding d eeper silence to the blackened ruins and the gutted churches. This was the ship ' s first close- up of buildings without roofs, and spaces without buildings. The air raid shelters and emergency water tanks were spotted in the rubble, oases which proved their worth. Four years of war were showing in the faces and clothing of the people. " The lights came on " during one of the ship ' s stays in port. Names such as Princess Street, Lime Street, and The Tatler Theater helped cloak the city with the " All English " feeling. Double-decked trams and narrow guage trains, tiny autos and " funny " money were new exper- iences, soon to become as familiar as their American counterparts. Liverpool might be well remembered as a depot for trips to Chester and Southport. CHESTER had been an ancient camp of the Romans. Walls built by them still surround the Tudor style city and shelter it from the modern day world. From a tower atop this wall, Charles II saw the defeat of his armies on the plains of Chester. In one of the wall ' s towers, Turner, one of England ' s great arHsts had a studio. The buildings were timber-fronted stucco, of the Shakespeare era. The cathedral, however, was natural red sandstone, mellowed by the driving, dampened wind, interred with local aristocracy Is the local pub-owner. Chester fronts on the River Dee, marker of the division between Eng- land and Wales. Punts and motor craft furnished a busman ' s holiday to those so inclined to ride. The trip gave the travelers the opportunity of viewing Eaton Hall, seat of the Earl of Derby, promoter of the horse race bearing his name. SOUTHPORT had been modified from her peacetime bathing resort career into a barbed wire barrier against the invader. Her hotels had been converted into hospi tals and rest centers. The pier of NAPLES, ITALY, Molo Luigi Razza, more than any other single item, lies a dying memorial to the deposed Fascisti. The false facade of marble and gilt fell with the crumbled rubble of the state. Bronze stat- ues, typifying the spirit of the undying ancients, however, remained erect, haughtily surveying the remnants of the late regime. Dead, bloated ships which once protected the Italian lifeline clog the bay. All Naples, however, is not in ruins. The Castle of St. Elmo, still intact, dominates the city ' s highest hill. To this vantage point, Naples rises from the shore to display herself, garbed with one of the world ' s most beautiful locations. Buildings, some ancient, some modern, terrace the hill ' s side, falling away into the blue waters at the city ' s shore. Mount Vesuvius, with delicate pink clouds afloat overhead forms a distant back- drop. Virgil, who was believed to be a sorcerer, once put the newly laid egg of a sea serpent into an iron cage. By magic, the egg was transformed into the Castel dell ' Ovo (Castle of the Egg). The castle still stands; Virgil ' s tomb, also, is In Naples. The San Carlo Opera house, too, survived the onslaught to remain a gem in the dust of the city. V ith Its area of 5157 square yards and stalls capable of seating 1000 spectators, it is one of Europe ' s largest, with Its plush, and gilt, and emblazoned ceiling, It is one of the world ' s most elaborate. All Italy sings; the opera Is the spirit of her singing. Pompeii and her conqueror, Mount Vesuvius were but a truck-ride distant from Naples. Excavated from her bed of lava after 1800 years of silence, the ancient city ' s glories and perversions were bared in their artistry and baseness. Slowly emerging from the centuries ' dust were the House of the Vettii, the theatre, the forum, and the Temple of Jupiter. The eruption of March, 1943, assisted the Allied bombers to find their targets in Naples. By one eruption, the volcano enslaved and silenced a people; by a second eruption, she freed another. A landing craft, loaded to the gunwales with gold braid, left Naples for the Isle of Capri. The group, familiar with Radar, Loran, and radio direction finders, ignored the fog and proceeded on their course. Such basic navigational observation as the sun ' s irregular appearance in alter- nate quarters of the sky worried some, but the coxswain held their con- fidence. He was following another craft across the mine field so he didn ' t need a compass. If the other craft had a compass he did not know. He did know, however, that the other coxswain had taken the route before and knew the way. Neither boat had a compass! All faces were red. But they blossomed a deeper scarlet when an Army tug rescued them from the mine field and led them to Capri. The lushness of the Blue Grotto and the relaxation of swimming in the Mediterranean relieved the nervous tension of the trip. At Mondragona Beach the ship ' s party was greeted with a shaded welcome. " If you set off a mine when in swimming, please realize that it was not left there intentionally " . The German command had expected this beach to be a point of invasion. Anzio, instead, had been used. This beach became a rest center for those who invaded elsewhere. HjH loll . 1,-— Jj ■i PC • ;it ' - - —•• iW " -f tUM 1 11 " " IQttl 1 i - %.Jm ml 1 J Ji ' ttt W ' k 9 wmk ' r ' - Ifp " T m Ti(w »» ■ -U — — -. .i SSSHHB |Z1 - ' 1 ' 1 QHs Lti ' m mjL I ' :f, :) ? " . (- I p MARSEILLES was France reborn. The fountains of the Palais Long- champs played again. The Pink Ele- phant and Madame Clarey ' s did a thriving business. The women were stylish in whatever they wore, re- modeled drapes, or cast-off suits. The " French Look " had survived the war. Less than a month before the arrival of the " Mount Vernon " , the Rue de Canebiere had felt the marching of German boots. Now the street was a cosmopolitan pa- rade. The foe left their su bmarine pens and scuttled ships as tokens of their departure. Also the rubble. Fear of the " Mistral " prevented pas- sage to the Chateau d ' lf, scene of Dumas ' " Count of Monte Cristo " . The best substitute, a view of the island castle and the harbor was ob- tained from the Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Garde. «o .Marseille .Notre Dame dela Garde The very name ORAN whispered the mysteries which hovered behind the closed doors of the Casbah, of dancing girls and tinkling cymbals. Above the ageless native clay buildings rises a modern city whose sky- scrapers silhouette themselves against the desert sunsets. Oran, originally the largest French Naval Base had become the Allied Base for operations against Sicily. On none of the ship ' s three visits to the port, however, was any of the " Mount Vernon ' s " travelers allowed ashore. The city remained a mystery to them all. 171 -MARstiLLt. Uuc General a d ' Ehdoume et les lies. At some time or other in the career of a Navy ship, she must visit each of two places: Pearl Harbor and Norfolk. The " Mount Vernon " had been in the past to " Pearl " . Earlier in her life, too, she had been in Norfolk. Cruises of late 1945 led the ship there more often. As the city was All- Navy, any recreation was Navy- sponsored: golfing, swimming, movie going. Visits were also made to nearby Williamsburg, scene of colonial restoration. A farewell to Norfolk was the ship ' s dance at the Palomar Ballroom. ff% f ,;.! ' ! f 1 ' ' ♦ " « ;►♦ Up on the signal bridge the signal men of the ship kept visual connmunications going in all kinds of weather, and under all conditions. Like the rest of the divi- sions, the gang had been a green bunch at commissioning, but under the instruc- tion of Jack " Red " Alden, approximately fifteen men advanced in rates during the years aboard. In addition to the con- stant blinking with escorting vessels and with shore stations of ports throughout the world, the coffee and hot plates of the signal bridge furnished ample excuse for the exchange of sea stories — for which the signal men became famous. One was the story of the famous mes- sage of the " Mount Vernon " to the shore station at Gibraltar. " What ship? " , asked the shore station. " Queen Mary — What rock Is that? " , was the reply. The ROCK OF GIBRALTAR, domi- neering and seemingly unapproachable had towere d above the ship as she had passed through the Straits on previous occasions. How hard and how domineer- ing would the Rock be to visitors? — To Americans? Gibraltar welcomed the ship and her men as they had never expected to be greeted, warmly. They opened re- stricted and secret areas of the Rock for exploration. The galleries, the honey- comb of tunnels, the Moorish castle, the monkeys were shown in detail. British troops billeted on the Rock dis- played their good humor, too. Their Army personnel presented a variety show and concert for the " M.V. ' s " crew on the Arena. The ship ' s company arranged an evening ' s supper in return. The River Clyde and the shipping in- dustry combine to make GLASGOW, SCOTLAND the most important seaport of that country. Her proximity to Loch Lomond and Edinburgh made her more important In the eyes of the " Mount Ver- non ' s " globe travelling crew. Fortunate were those who traveled " by yon bonnie banks ... of Loch Lomond " . Liquid green of the hillsides flowed Into the true blue of the water. The music of Bobby Burns ' lyrics and the adventure of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson rose from the land round about. EDINBURGH was historical seat of the Kings of Scotland and traditional summer home of the Kings of England. High above the city broods the castle of Robert Bruce, scene of tragedy and triumph. Among the castle ' s famous prisoners was Mary, Queen of Scots, pretender to the crown of England. Although she died, later, in the Tower of London, her son, James VI lived to reign as James I of England. Each year, the reigning King of Eng- land walks the Royal mile from the castle to Holyrood Palace as a proof of his rule over Scotland. The street passes St. Jlles church, scene of intrig ues, and John Knox ' s house, birthplace of the Presbyter- ian church. Glazed with Ice and cutting through the freezing winds of the North Atlantic, the " Mount Vernon " at last found her course plotted for New York and honne. But the trip was to be interrupted. Through the fog came the distress signals of a burning Norwegian tanker. The homeward course was altered as preparations for rescue began. Blow torches were needed to melt the ice holding the lifeboats to the davits. Fire and Rescue crews assembled their equipment. Fog was hugging the surface of the water and sleet was driving against the decks as the burning vessel came into view. For two hours the " Mount Vernon " stood by, leaving only after assistance was on the way in the form of Coast Guard rescue ships. Entry into New York harbor was made in the early morning; special sea details were set at 0200 and for four hours the crew shivered while ice-covered tugs maneuvered the ship up the ice-jammed harbor and alongside Pier 51. New York became a city of Individual memories for the men of the ' Mount Vernon " . Its size swallowed them up in the afternoon and sep- arated them until morning. Here at last they found liberties suitable to every taste. Of course they saw the sights of the city — the Empire State building, Radio city, and Times Square, but they saw thenn alone or in groups of two or three, not in the large parties which grew In smaller and stranger ports. Legitimate theatres augmented the movie programs; music and mu- seum tours were available. To the sea-weary men of the ship, however, It was countless small bars, the dinner In scattered restaurants, the bawdy floor shows of the night clubs, the horse-drawn buggys in Central Park that at last formed their memories of New York. One steward ' s mate shifted his weight uneasily from one foot to the other as he stood before the captain at mast. The captain briefly scanned the charge sheet, rubbed his chin, and looked threateningly at the man. " You ' re charged with being absent over leave. What have you to say for yourself? " " I missed the subway, suh. " When the man further explained that his home was In Harlem the cap- tain gasped, and re-examined the charge sheet. He must have misread it, but no, there it was in clear, black print. . . . " Absent over leave for a period of ' three days, 17 hours, and 45 minutes ' . " More than four years had passed since that day In San Francisco when Navy crews first came aboard the " Mount Vernon " — years spent in con- stant sailing, as a connecting link between ports throughout the world. Through the sub-infested waters of a world at war she logged the amaz- ing total of 363,000 miles of travel. On her decks and through her pas- sageways have teemed more than 315,000 troops, casualties, prisoners, and refugees — bound for the fighting fronts or returning home from the realities of war. The end of hostilities did not complete the task of the " Mount Vernon " . Her duty as one of the Navy ' s largest transports became the returning of millions of victorious troops home — a fitting task to close her Naval career. Coming years will change her appearance and de-commissioning will begin the metamorphosis that will cover the dull Navy gray with white and black brilliance. New thousands of passengers in the future will en- joy the pleasures of peace time voyages. But they will not know the real " Mount Vernon " . It will be the sweating, milling soldiers whom she carried to the ex- tremities of the earth, the grim veterans whom she returned home, the men who tended her boilers in the heat of the Pacific, the men who manned her guns in the gray chill of the Atlantic dawn, men whose com- radeship and indomitable spirit found in her intangible personality which shaped their existence — P ' it will be these who will have known the " USS Mount Vernon " , and who will call her mennory blest. . . ROUND THE WORLD TRIP 2 June 1941 fo 3 1 March 1942 San Francisco, California, USA Balboa, Canal Zone Colon, Panama Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA New York City, New York, USA Norfolk, Virginia, USA Halifax, Nova Scotia Trinidad, BWI Cape Town, Union of South Africa Mombassa, Kenya Colony, Africa Addu Atoll, Maldive Itlandt Singapore Aden, Arabia Suez, Egypt Aden, Arabia Colombo, Ceylon Freemantle, Australia Adelaide, Australia Wellington, New Zealand San Francisco, California, USA PACIFIC CRUISES 22 April to 8 June 1942 San Francisco, California, USA Adelaide, Australia San Francisco, California, USA 1 6 June to 30 June 1942 San Francisco, California, USA Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands San Francisco, California, USA 24 July to I September 1942 San Francisco, California, USA Wellington, New Zealand Auckland, New Zealand Sydney, Australia San Francisco, California, USA 6 September to 18 September 1942 San Francisco, California, USA Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands San Francisco, California, USA 24 September to 2 November 1 942 San Francisco, California, USA Auckland, New Zealand Sydney, Australia Wellington, New Zealand San Francisco, California, USA 5 November to 17 November 1942 San Francisco, California, USA Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands San Francisco, California, USA 25 November to 27 December 1942 San Francisco, California, USA San Pedro, California, USA Noumea, New Caledonia Suva, Fiji San Francisco, California, USA 20 January to 20 February 1 943 San Francisco, California, USA San Diego, California, USA Auckland, New Zealand San Francisco, California, USA 10 March to 2 1 April 1943 San Francisco, California, USA San Diego, California, USA Noumea, New Caledonia Melbourne, Australia Wellington, New Zealand Auckland, New Zealand San Diego, California, USA San Francisco, California, USA 9 May to II June 1943 San Francisco, California, USA Sydney, Australia Auckland, New Zealand San Francisco, California, USA 21 June to 26 August 1943 San Francisco, California, USA Sydney, Australia Auckland, New Zealand Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands Sydney, Australia San Francisco, California, USA 19 September to 2 I October 1943 San Francisco, California, USA San Diego, California, USA Noumea, New Caledonia San Francisco, California, USA 6 November to 10 December 1943 San Francisco, California, USA Sydney, Austrdlia San Francisco, California, USA I 3 January +0 1 7 January 1944 San Francisco. California, USA Milne Bay, New Guinea San Francisco, California, USA 21 February to 22 March 1944 San Francisco, California. USA San Pedro, California, USA Melbourne, Australia Bombay, India Melbourne, Australia Balboa. Canal Zone Colon, Panama Boston, Massachusetts, USA ATLANTIC TRIPS 4 June to 20 June 1944 Boston. Mass.. USA Liverpool, England Boston, Mass. USA 2Julyfo 1 7 July 1944 Boston. Mass. USA Liverpool, England Boston, Mass., USA 25 July fo 10 August 1944 Boston, Mass., USA Glasgow, Scotland Boston, Mass., USA 18 Auqustto I September 1944 Boston, Mass., USA Liverpool, England Boston, Mass., USA I I Septennberto28 Septennber 1944 Boston. Mass., USA Liverpool, England Boston, Mass., USA 7 October to 24 October 1944 Boston, Mass.. USA Liverpool. England New York City, New York, USA 4 Novennber to 28 Novennber 1 944 New York City, New York, USA Marseille, France Naples, Italy Oran. Algeria. Africa Boston, Ma»s., USA 1 Decennber to 27 Decennber 1 944 Boston, Mass., USA Liverpool, England New York City. New York. USA 6 January to 27 January 1945 New York City. New York, USA Marseille, France Oran, Algeria, Africa New York City, New York USA 8 February to 27 February 1 945 New York City, New York, USA Liverpool, England Boston, Mass., USA 6 March to 25 March 1945 Boston, Mass., USA Liverpool, England Boston, Mass., USA 4 April to 24 April 1945 Boston, Mass., USA Liverpool, England Norfolk, Virginia, USA 29 April to 12 May 1945 Norfolk, Virginia, USA Oran, Algeria, Africa Naples, Italy New York City, New York, USA 28 June to 1 7 July 1945 New York City, New York, USA Naples, Italy Norfolk, Virginia, USA 22 July to I I August 1945 Norfolk, Virginia, USA Naples, Italy Norfolk, Virginia, USA 21 August to 10 Septennber 1945 Norfolk, Virginia, USA Naples, Italy Norfolk, Virginia, USA 16 September to 12 October 1945 Norfolk, Virginia, USA Marseille, France Gibraltar Marseille, France Norfolk, Virginia. USA 17 December 1945 to 3 January 1946 Norfolk, Virginia. USA Le Havre. France New York City. New York, USA compiled by ROBERT B. LYTLE. JR.. Editor ALFRED C. WOODWARD PAUL F. X. HEARNS JOHN W. WILLS DAVID F. JOHNSON RALPH GORDON GUSTAV A. ABROLAT, Photographer HARVEY C. MITCHELL. JR.. Businest Manager vium ui
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