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WWII sailors were grateful they didn't have to go on to Pacific arena

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

My father was a WWII U.S. Navy signalman. He had to work a double shift many times because the other signalman was seasick frequently. His captain was a raging drunk and my father would tell him "back-home farm stories" to calm him down and make him laugh.

My father was on his signalman's duty during the tragedy that occurred in the English Channel. All U.S. Navy ships in that area of the Atlantic were headed toward the English Channel for a vacation time. It was later found out to be a Nazi German trap. The captain of his ship had ordered all sailors to be off duty and relax, but my father refused the orders and stayed at his signalman's position. After awhile, heading "full speed ahead," he picked up a light signal from one of the ships far up ahead. The U.S. ships were being sunk and going down, TRAP SHIPS SINKING TURN BACK DO YOU RECEIVE was the desperate message. My father quickly replied, signaled the ships behind his to turn back, and waited for a reply from them. He got it and ran down quite a few stories to get to the engine room. He pulled back on both of the levers to stop the ship. Those working there thought he had gone crazy. It takes quite a few miles for a heavy large ship, going at full speed to slow down and stop. But his ship, and those behind, did so successfully and many sailors' lives were saved as a result. When his captain became aware that the ship was slowing and turning around, he ordered that whoever was responsible be court-martialed; no doubt he was drunk also. The captain liked my father, so when he heard that it was "Sam" everything was okay.

Although my father never said so, he suffered from depression as a result of the war. He was in the battle of Normandy, delivering troops via his Navy ship, a troop transport. He was sociable and got to know some of the troops that his ship transported to battle. Seeing those he had gotten to know (and the others) dying in the waters off Normandy and on the shore, no doubt caused him great grief and subsequent depression. He and the others were VERY GLAD when the big guns from U.S. Navy warships arrived to blast the Nazi Germans to hell.

He and those with him were also VERY GLAD that they did not have to go to the Pacific arena, as that was their next assignment. It was because the atomic bombs were to be utilized instead. Although my memory only includes my father's viewpoint, I fully believe all U.S. military WWII soldiers had the same HAPPY RELIEF. War is hell for everyone that is involved therein, and when it ends, it is much welcomed.

Louise Sargent
Gilford