Earl Hampton



Earl Hampton


Presentation of information and pictures furnished to us by Earl Hampton. Earl Hampton served aboard the SS James Otis from March 1942 to January 1943, aboard the SS George E Hale from February 1943 to July 1943, aboard the SS George L Curry from July 1943 to January 1944, aboard the SS Russell H Chittenden from March 1944 to October 1944 and aboard the SS SS Sherman O Houghton from January 1945 to November 1945. Earl and his lovely wife Ruth reside in Ventura, California and can be contacted by email at oilh@AOL.COM.



This picture is of the Gun Crew of the SS George E Hale taken in the Armed Guard Center Pacific at Treasure Island about 30 January 1943. Earl is in the center of the back row. Some of the others are D B Hoffman, C F Buttoorff, E W Palmer, W I Richardson, J M Richer, G A Pesta, S J Puria, D B Stringman, G L Pinkston, W B Turner, Amos Whaley, J Salimi, F H Miller, D B Gilbert, A D Bills, W H Walker, J V Wilkinson and C H Brinkmeyer.



This picture is of the Gun Crew of the SS George L Curry taken about 28 July 1943 at the Armed Guard Center at Treasure Island. Earl is in the front row left. Others in the picture are G S Medows, W W Autry, E E Beard, B M Danley, D L Hughes, L Jones, C E Johnston, D V Krause, R E Lane, J E Loveall, L A Lusby, J M Lawry, G W Marshall, J C Lewis, J H Mathews, G T McGeaw, P A McCord, I F Niller, Jesus Penunuri, J W Richardson, M G Simmons and M G White.



Earl Hampton

April 29, 2001

This was the maiden voyage of the S.S. Russell H. Chittenden a Liberty Ship. She was my Fourth Liberty Ship as I was on the S.S. James Otis from February 1942 till January 1943. The S.S. George Hale from January 1943 until July 1943. The S.S. George Curry from July 1943 until January 1944..

S. S. Russell H Chittenden

The Chittenden was built by the California Shipbuilding Corporation in Los Angeles, California and ready for sea on March 3, 1944. I was assigned to the Chittenden at the Armed Guard Center at Treasure Island, San Francisco and sent with my Gun Crew to Los Angeles. By this time, I was a Gunners Mate 2nd Class and had 1 Gunners Mate 3rd Class Al Duffner, one Signalman 3rd Class Red Scott along with 26 Seaman 1st Class. This was to be the first trip to sea for these 1st Class seaman. We reported aboard March 3 to the Gunnery Officer Ensign O. T, Seeley who was already aboard. This was to be Seeleyís first trip to sea also. We had a lot of work to get ready for sea, loading ammunition in the lockers and also the ready boxes on deck. We had One 3" 50 on the bow and one 5"51 on the stern with 8 20mm machine guns. The ship was loaded with all types of Army supplies with a deck cargo of trucks and jeeps. By March 15th, we were all loaded and ready for sea. This turned out to be a long uneventful trip as we did not arrive in Freemantel, Australia until April 22nd. 37 days of sea time and plenty of time to make seamen out of the new recruits. We were there, for only two days to take on fuel and water then back to sea across the Indian Ocean. Several days out, we sighted 2 mines and spent several hours circling them and firing on them with the 20mmís and exploding them. The next thing we ran into was a severe storm with winds in the 135-knot class.

 

 

 

 

 

During this storm, we lost all of our cat-walks over the deck cargo. Finally, we arrived in Columbo,Ceylon on the 8th of May. Picture 4 is the Gunnery Officer Seeley and me on a cat-walk on the Chittenden. Entering the harbor at Columbo, the pilot must not of had much experience with a Liberty Ship. The British Battleship King George V was anchored near the harbor entrance and the Chittenden being slow to respond to turning, we had a minor collision but no damage to either ship. The British were very upset. We were in Columbo several days and formed a convoy for our trip up the Bay of Bengal arriving in Calcutta, India on the May 19th, 1944. Picture 5 is Red Scott Signalman 3rd Class and me riding a rickshaw in Calcutta. We discharged our cargo in Calcutta and sailed on the 5th of June and returned to Columbo, Ceylon on the 10th of June. We left the next day and sailed back across the Indian Ocean to Freemantel, Australia where we were supposed to pickup wheat. The longshoremen were all on strike there, so they sent us to South Australia to the town of Port Lincoln where we loaded part of the ship with wheat. Then over to Adelaide where we topped off our load of wheat. We returned to Freemantel in Western, Australia on the 21st of June to take on fuel and water. Leaving on the 23rd of June, again across the Indian Ocean arriving in Aden Protectorate on the 15th of August for orders. Leaving Aden, we proceeded up the Red Sea to Suez, Egypt on the 21st of August. Picture 1 is of me and Red Scott on the Bridge next to his signal flags. Note the wooden shoes we had, as the deck was so hot in the Red Sea, that the steel decks would burn your feet. After passing through the Suez Canal, we moored to a buoy in the harbor at Port Said, Egypt on the 21st of August. Picture 8 is me on the left and Al Duffner 3rd Class GM ashore in Port Said. We left Port Said on August 24th in a 100 ship convoy. We had several attacks during the first two days out of Port Said by German torpedo planes and dive bombers. One of the torpedos hit us midship but was a dud and didnít go off. We arrived in Augusta, Sicily on the 29th of August. The next day we went Messina, Sicily to unload part of the wheat. Picture 7 is the convoy from Egypt to Sicily. I can count about 20 of the ships in this picture. Picture 6 is the 3"50 gun crew with me in the front left. Picture 3 is the Chittenden tied up to a dock in Messina. From there, we went across the straits to Reggio, Italy. On the 9th of September we went around Italy into the Adriatic to Crotoni, Italy and unloaded the rest of the wheat arriving back in Augusta, Sicily on the 13th of September. We sailed in a large convoy on the 16th. Picture 2 was taken from the bridge of the Chittenden somewhere in the Atlantic and I seem to have only one other ship in the picture but as you know in those Atlantic convoys the ships could get scattered. We were bound for Baltimore, but near Bermuda, we were given orders to proceed by ourselfs to New Orleans. The next day, a submarine surfaced about 2 miles off our port bow and started shelling us. His aim wasnít any better than ours so other than practice in firing, no harm was done. We arrived in New Orleans on the 12th of October thus completing our around the world cruise. I was given 2 weeks delayed orders back to the Armed Guard Center at Treasure Island. I had some time in San Francisco with detached duty with the 11th Naval District, but that didnít last long and I was back to sea again on another Liberty Ship the Sherman Houghton until November 1945 when they finally took me off the ship in Manila and sent me back to the States for discharge on the 12th of November 1945. Three years eleven months in the Armed Guard.

Earl Hampton

 

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