World War II Navy Documents




 Diary of the Armed Guard Gunnery Officer on the S.S. Lewis Luckenbach    

 Wednesday, December 8, 1943         Wednesday, December 8, 1943         
                                                                         

 S.S. Lewis Luckenbach               McCarthy, Charles G.    Ens  I-V(S) 
 Type of vessel: Cargo               Roberts, Donald E.      Cox  USN    
 Type of cargo:  General             Bowerman, Thomas R.     GM2c USNR   
 Owner: Luckenbach Steamship Co. Inc Newstad, Theodore M.    GM3c USNR   
 Chartered to: United States Army    Brzozowski, James A.    S1c  USNR   
                                     Harper, Louis C.        S1c  USNR   
                                     Lesesne, David M.       S1c  USNR   
                                     Strominger, Harry C.    S1c  USNR   
                                     Talaska, Edmund J.      S1c  USNR   
                                     Vaughn, Elwood E.       S1c  USNR   
                                     Volzer, Ted W.          S1c  USNR   
                                     Wilderman, Robert I.    S1c  USNR   
                                     Williams, Richard H.    S1c  USNR   
                                     Wilson, William H.      S1c  USNR   
                                     Wilson, Frank L.        S1c  USNR   
                                     Wright, John C.         S1c  USNR   
                                     Williams, Joseph R.     S1c  USNR   
                                     Wade, William D.        S1c  USNR   
                                     Ward, Keith A.          S1c  USNR   
                                     Watkins, David L.       S1c  USNR   
                                     West, Ralph M.          S1c  USNR   
                                     Westbrook, Estel W.     S1c  USNR   
                                     White, Robert L.        S1c  USNR   
                                     Young, Ralph J.         S1c  USNR   
                                     Zielinski, Robert M.    S1c  USNR   
                                                                         
                                     Kirksey, Oliver C.      SM3c USNR   
                                     Lewis, Jack D.          SM3c USNR   
                                     Smith, Richard P.       RM3c USNR   
                                     Note: West, Ralph M. and            
                                           Smith, R.P. and Zielinski,    
                                           R.M. hospitalized in Cardiff, 
                                           Wales.                        
                                           Butler, Thomas George, RM3c,  
                                           USN, assigned on duty in      
                                           Cardiff, Wales, in substitut- 
                                           ion for Smith, R.P.           
                                           Zielinski returned to ship    
                                           just hours before departure.  
                                           West had returned earlier.    
                                                                         
                                                                         


 Diary of the Armed Guard Gunnery Officer on the S.S. Lewis Luckenbach    

 Thursday, December 9, 1943          Mag Temp.: Fwd: 45  Aft: 47         
 EWT 1900                            Friday, December 10, 1943           

 Smith, R.P., R.M. 3/c complained    EWT  0600                           
 of pain and running in his left     Undocked from Pier 4, Army Base,    
 ear. Ship had already been          Brooklyn, N.Y. and got under way.   
 restricted prior to sailing. With   Sea Watch (Cond. III) had previously
 the aid of Chief Gunner Vasburgh    been set.                           
 of the P.D.O. Army Base, took Smith EWT 0930                            
 to the Armed Guard Center where he  Muster for all hands except watch.  
 was examined by Lt.Comdr. Nolan,    Watches and how to stand them       
 who finally, though a little        explained again. Lifebelt equipment 
 reluctantly said it would be all    distributed. Cigarettes (5 packs per
 right for Smith to sail.            man) distributed. Short talk on     
                                     routine matters given, e.g.         
                                     seriousness of job, sharp lookouts, 
                                     prompt reporting, etc.              
                                                                         
                                     Convoy HX270 - 10 KTS. - N.Y. to    
                                     U.K. 56 ships. This ship is # 131,  
                                     starboard wing, column leader.      
                                     Escort: 3 HMCS. Weather: Cloudy     
                                     (low-hanging), visability good.     
                                                                         
                                     EWT: 1830                           
                                     General Quarters until 1905.        
                                     Broadside guns trained, elevated-   
                                     depressed (barrels and sight drums).
                                     Switches tested - all satisfactory. 
                                     Weather: Clear. Broken clouds,      
                                     occasional bright moonlight - full  
                                     moon.                               
                                                                         


 Diary of the Armed Guard Gunnery Officer on the S.S. Lewis Luckenbach    

 Mag Temp: Fwd:  44   Aft:  45       Mag Temp: Fwd:  42  Aft:  43        
 Saturday, December 11, 1943         Sunday, December 12, 1943           

 EWT 0630-0705 - General Quarters    EWT 0400 - Seas somewhat less rough 
 held - all guns OK. Weather         - cloudy - visability poor. Ship    
 partially cloudy; occasional bright apparently proceeding alone. No     
 moonlight; visability fair.         other ships in sight. Running       
 EWT 0800 - Driving rain, sleet,     lights on. Spoke to Chief Mate on   
 snow; visibility materially cut     watch about them. Extinguished.     
 down.                               EWT 0645-0730 - General Quarters.   
 EWT 0945 - Muster for enlisted crew Guns all all right. Seas calming.   
 EWT 1200 - Sea becoming very rough. Picked up convoy again.             
 EWT 1204 - SOS received from KGGN,  EWT 1200 - Crew all feeling better  
 71.58W, 40.43N - foundering.        again. Guns 1-2-4-6-9 cleaned and   
 EWT 1300 - High waves occasionally  greased.                            
 breaking over bow and stern.        Ralph M. West, Sea 1C reported that 
 EWT 1400 - Bow watch moved aft to   during an attack of severe seasick- 
 promenade deck. 50 gas masks        ness he lost a three-tooth partial  
 issued to Chief Mate McCann for     denture from the upper front of his 
 distribution to merchant crew.      mouth, over the side.               
 EWT 1500 - Great majority of                                            
 enlisted men very seasick.                                              
 EWT 1600 - Apparently lost convoy                                       
 except for two or three ships and                                       
 an escort. Seas very rough, wind                                        
 exceedingly strong with driving                                         
 rain and snow. Waves breaking over                                      
 stern. Stern watch moved from gun                                       
 position to deck. Broadside guns                                        
 trained and pointed periodically                                        
 throughout day - found okay.                                            
                                                                         
                                                                         


 Diary of the Armed Guard Gunnery Officer on the S.S. Lewis Luckenbach    

 Mag Temp: Fwd:  46  Aft:  45        Mag Temp: Fwd:  49  Aft:  48        
 Monday, December 13, 1943           Tuesday, December 14, 1943          

 EWT - 0400 - Weather clear.         EWT + 1 Hr - 1300 - Boat Drill      
 EWT - 1200 - Picked up 17 addition- EWT + 1 Hr - 1330 - Battle Station  
 al ships at Halifax, N.S. Escort    Drill                               
 apparently increased also, akthough                                     
 exact number not known.                                                 
 Guns 8 and 10 cleaned and greased.                                      
 EWT - 1750 - General Quarters to                                        
 1830.                                                                   
 EWT + 1 Hr - 2000 - Finally secured                                     
 merchant crew list from Purser                                          
 Roberts showing boat and battle                                         
 stations. Will correlate it with                                        
 Navy crew list battle stations.                                         
 EWT + 1 Hr - 2400 - Time advanced                                       
 one hour as of 0200, 12/14/43.                                          
 Watches' time of duty advanced 20                                       
 minutes for each of them starting                                       
 at 2000 today.                                                          
                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                         


 Diary of the Armed Guard Gunnery Officer on the S.S. Lewis Luckenbach    

 Mag Temp: Fwd:  47   Aft:  47       Mag Temp:  Fwd:  42   Aft:  44      
 Wednesday, December 15, 1943        Thursday, December 16, 1943         

 EWT + 1 Hr - 0600 - Rain, sleet,    EWT + 1 Hr - 0115 - Distress message
 snow, high wind. Barometer falling. received from KCTG to the effect    
 EWT + 1 Hr - 1200 - Position 45-02N that she is under submarine attack  
 50-24W; course 076.                 at 48.47N - 22.01W.                 
 EWT + 1 Hr - 1400 - Heavy seas      EWT + 1 Hr - 0645 - General Quarters
 breaking over bow. Bow watch        to 0710. Guns all ok.               
 secured and moved to promenade deck EWT + 1 Hr - 1200 - Position of     
 forward.                            vessel: 44-38N, 47-20W. Course 098. 
                                                                         
 Battle helmets have been            British-type battle helmets given   
 distributed to Chief Mate McCann,   to Chief Mate McCann for distribut- 
 2nd Mate Roberts, 3rd Mate McPhee   ion to the seven members of his     
 and to Captain Olsson.              emergency party.                    
                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                         


 Diary of the Armed Guard Gunnery Officer on the S.S. Lewis Luckenbach    

 Mag Temp:  Fwd:  44   Aft:  46      Mag Temp:  Fwd  40   Aft:  42       
 Friday, December 17, 1943           Saturday, December 18, 1943         

 EWT + 1 Hr - 0620-0720 - General    EWT + 1 Hr - 0615-0715 - General    
 Quarters stood. Guns all fully      Quarters. All guns trained and      
 trained and elevated - all OK.      elevated fully - all OK.            
 EWT + 1 Hr - 0715 - Biplane -       EWT + 1 Hr - 2000 - Time advanced   
 probably Albacore from convoy       one hour as of 0200, December 19,   
 escort carrier - circled convoy     1943. Watches time of starting duty 
 twice.                              advanced 20 minutes for each of     
 Capt. Olsson given gas mask,        them starting at 2000 today.        
 bringing votal distributed to 51.                                       
                                                                         
 Guns 3,5 and 7 cleaned and                                              
 lubricated.                                                             
                                                                         
                                                                         


 Diary of the Armed Guard Gunnery Officer on the S.S. Lewis Luckenbach    

 Mag Temp: Fwd:  47  Aft:  49        Mag Temp: Fwd:  47  Aft:  49        
 Sunday, December 19, 1943           Monday, December 20, 1943           

 EWT + 2 Hrs - 0640-0720 - General   EWT + 2 Hrs - 0600-0720 - General   
 Quarters. All guns fully trained    Quarters. All guns fully trained and
 and elevated. All OK.               elevated. All OK.                   
 EWT + 2 Hrs - 0715 - Two explosions EWT + 2 Hrs - 1230 - Message        
 heard. Presumed to be depth charges received from Commodore "Mines      
 Location and distance or cause not  reported in vicinity." T. Bowerman, 
 determined.                         GM2c stationed on bridge with .30   
 EWT + 2 Hrs - 0810 - Message        caliber rifle, and lookouts warned. 
 received from Commodore to effect   Both .30 cal. Remington Rifles test 
 there are submarines in vicinity.   fired today.                        
 Lookouts and all Navy crew warned   EWT + 2 Hrs - 1535 - Message        
 to keep especially sharp watch.     received from Commodore:"Submarines 
 EWT + 2 Hrs - 0930 - Commodore      known to be at position indicated." 
 signalled emergency turn 45 degrees However, no position was specified. 
 to starboard.                       Navy watch and rest of Navy crew    
 EWT + 2 Hrs - 1130 - Message        informed and again warned to keep   
 received from Commodore to effect   sharp watch.                        
 we are now in submarine zone and    EWT + 2 Hrs - 1620-1730 - General   
 column leaders should keep better   Quarters.                           
 position.                                                               
 EWT + 2 Hrs - 1645-1735 - General                                       
 Quarters and gun drill. 5"51 gun                                        
 cleaned and lubricated today.                                           
                                                                         
                                                                         
 


 Diary of the Armed Guard Gunnery Officer on the S.S. Lewis Luckenbach    

 Mag Temp:  Fwd:  46   Aft:  46      Continued from previous page        
 Tuesday, December 21, 1943          Tuesday, December 21, 1943          

  EWT + 2 Hrs - 0600-0720 - General  duty advanced 20 minutes for each   
  Quarters. All guns fully trained   of the three watches starting at    
  and elevated. All OK.              2000 today.                         
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 0815 - Commodore     Guns #1,6 and 8 cleaned and         
  signalled emergency turn 45        lubricated today. 3"50 cleaned,     
  degrees starboard.                 lubricated and bore gauged.         
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 0820 - Commodore                                         
  signalled emergency turn 45                                            
  degrees starboard.                                                     
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 0945 - Commodore                                         
  signalled "Unidentified aircraft                                       
  approaching." General Quarters                                         
  called.                                                                
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 1000 - Signal of                                         
  Commodore of 0945 hauled down.                                         
  General Quarters continued until                                       
  1100. Gun drills, tracking, etc.,                                      
  on all guns in that hour.                                              
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 1055 - Commodore                                         
  signalled emergency turn 45                                            
  degrees port.                                                          
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 1230 - Message                                           
  received from Commodore to effect                                      
  that we might fire our machine                                         
  guns and "two-pounders" in a safe                                      
  direction at 1330.                                                     
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 1300 - Fire, boat,                                       
  and battle-station drills to 1330.                                     
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 1330 - Fired guns                                        
  #2,3,4,5,6,7,8 (20 MM's) for an                                        
  approximate total expenditure of                                       
  240 rounds. Fired #1 gun (3"50)                                        
  with 2 anti aircraft shells (2                                         
  second setting on fuze) and 3                                          
  common rounds. Merchant crew were                                      
  instructed and participated as                                         
  loaders on the 20 MM guns during                                       
  firing. Secured at 1400. No                                            
  structural defects noted except an                                     
  observed recoil on the 3"50 fire                                       
  which was possibly a little too                                        
  violent. Recoil cylinder on this                                       
  gun will be checked.                                                   
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 1615 - General                                           
  Quarters until 1705.                                                   
  EWT + 2 Hrs - 2000 - Time advanced                                     
  one hour as of 0200, December 22,                                      
  1943. Watches' time of starting                                        
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