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View Full Version : My interview with CVE 40mm gunner: from Guadalcanal to Okinawa, USS Sangamon.



Enforcer572005
01-28-2006, 11:01 PM
Ok kids, this is the first interview ive ever done, so Im not Jay Leno, ok? The subject is Mr. Art Lattimer, a nieghbor who lives across the alley from me. He was on board the CVE USS Sangamon, the largest class of CVE which was converted from large fast tankers (fast for tankers-20 knts). They looked similiar to the independance class CVLs but were alot slower, but they had a long deck which made for easier ops.

Art was onboard her from Oct 42 off Guadalcanal to the final fight off Okinawa, where the ship was gravely damaged by a kamikaze hit amidships. She survived more damage from that hit than any other CVE, but it ended the war for her as she was so badly damaged, at about the same time as the Franklin was. His experience goes from fending off Betties off the canal to waves of kamikazes at leyte and more waves at Okinawa, at the trigger of a twin 40mm mount forward on the starboard side.

I will post this in 2 parts, as its just too much to put on here (whith navy photos) in one night, so be patient. If you have questions, feel free to ask them, as he is very willing to discuss the war and provide as much info as he is qualified to do. Keep in mind that this was 6 decades ago, but he has excellent recall of the events he was in. His wife was also there and they were really interested in talking of those times.

I took him an original copy of the book issued to most CVE sailors in the pacific after the war (but he didnt get one) about escort carrier ops in the pacific. He was gobbling that thing up and it stimulated some conversation that he graciously allowed me to record and share wiht you. I will quote as much as possible, but in the interest of clarity and time, i will paraphrase sometimes and combine questions and answers taht are related and complete info. Best i can do. So pay attention, as he is the real thing. I will add occaisional notes for historical clarity and context, so noted.

C.

And Im E and he is A, so.....

E:When did you join the Navy and how old were you?

A: In early 42, and i was 17 yrs old. I lived right down the street here at the time.

E: 17!?!? COOL....My late uncle, in whose house i now live, was in his 30s, and he enlisted about the same time and became a CB, since he was already an engineer.

A: When we would go ashore in the various pacific islands, we would always look up the CBs(note;construction battalions-navy). they always had the best food. And yeah, they were already construction guys, welders etc, so they already knew what they were doing. And they always did a super job. Good bunch of guys.

E: Where did you take your training?

A: San Diego. I took a test while in boot camp, and they sent me to fire control school, and i wound up in San fransisco boarding the ship before it left for the Solomons. I was assigned to the 2cd division deck force, but i chipped paint and cleaned heads for a while before an opening came along in fire control, and they put me on a 40mm mount....thank goodness.

THE SANGAMON UNDERWAY JUST BEFORE GUADALCANAL.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/0302601.jpg

E: What were your duties at that station, and where were you located on board?

A: I was located on the starboard side on a twin 40mm AA mount. This weapon had a Mk-1 gunsight, which i operated and used to sight the targets. Id get the enemy plane in focus, then fire with triggers on a handlebar control, which i used to move the guns about. I had a sailor on either side in case the traversing mechanism went out, who could elevate and traverse the guns manually if the traversing mechanism went out. There were 2 more men passing ammo up through an opening in the deck, to other men who fed the shells into the top of the guns. (note:5 rd clips).

E: How did you select targets? Was the CIC involved, and to what extent?

A: Yes, I had earphones on, and they would spot the planes, give us range and direction, then we'd pick it up in the sights. They'd call out a target inbound starboard side, then we'd pick it up and engage it.

STARBOARD GUN GALLERY LOOKING AFT ON SANGAMON, TWIN 40MM MOUNT IN FOREGROUND. Note director on rt side of gun in control seat.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamongungallerylowres.jpg

E: Did you use proximity fused shells when you first went aboard, and if so, how effective were they?

A: Yes, usually. They were very, very effective.It sure was.

Mrs A: Years ago, when our kids were small, we went to Mobile about the USS Alabama. There was a sign on a gunmount (40mm) that said "no climbing", so i told the kids to stay off them. I turned around and Art was already on top of that thing. (rolls eyes).

E: Well he was certainly qualified to be there; probably the only guy on board who could crank that sucker up and start blasting.

A: (Looking through the book at pics of aircraft on decks). Yeah, i could sure do that. But I always loved to talk to the pilots and listen to thier stories. Especially one who had been shot down and finally got back to us later after being down on some island. Some got back, some didnt. I tell ya, those pilots, they were men of their own....had to be pretty tough to go through what they did day after day and make it back to us. They lived a life we just couldnt know about.

E: Yes, it was hairy enough just to get back on that deck. When did you get to Guadalcanal?

A: a couple of months after the Marines landed. (NOTE: Oct 42). We fought off lots of airattacks there, then wound up off New Guinea. There were no ports where we were, just ships at anchor, and japanese soldiers all over the place. They were even climbing up anchor chains looking for food and whatever. They sent us to help beat them down a bit, close support for the troops.

(NOTE: his grandson comes in at that point, who is about to join the Navy himself and is REAL enthusiastic about it).

E: What other operations stand out in your mind?

A: We supported the landings at Tarawa...hand me that map....The marines really caught it there. We flew air support, again with F4Fs, SBDs, and TBFs. Lots of air support...close in to the Marines.

E: Did you come under air attack off tarawa?

A: Yes, several times. We were also in support of the Saipan and Tinian operations. lots of resistance in the air at Saipan. We would steam so close to the beach that we could see our guys fighting through binoculars. Could see the tanks rolling over little trails.

E: Were you actually doing air ops that close in to the beach?

A: No, we would steam out a ways to launch aircraft into the wind, but head right back in after they were off the deck. (looking through the photos of CVEs in Pearl Harbor). I always enjoyed out trips back to Pearl to resupply...nice place. Made about 7 trips there through 43. Didnt have any place else we could go at that time. The Japanese owned nearly everything until then. By 44 we had anchorages in places like Ulithi, and I also spent some time at Tulagi. The Pacific was just so vast.
We even checked the island they exploded the atomic bomb at after the war....Bikini island....made sure the Japanese werent there.

E: Back to Guadalcanal (NOTE: my scripted plan for this has gone to blazes by now). How long did you stay on station in that area?

A: About three weeks.

E: Where did you operate generally? Were you close in covering Admiral Turner's transports, or out forward deployed?

A:We were forward deployed, moving around alot, trying to intercept air attacks coming in from Rabaul before they got close. I saw alot of air attacks, Betties especially, coming real low sometimes; we were determined to stop them.

DAMAGED F4F ON SANGAMON'S DECK, AROUND THE END OF THE SOLOMONS CMPN.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/0302606.jpg

E: The CVEs didnt get alot of press compared to the fleet carriers, as I suppose giving air support to landings and troops inland isnt very glamorous. Then came the Phillipines and the Battle of Samar. Where was the Sangamon during that operation?

A: Well, right before Samar we were part of Kinkaid's command (NOTE: 7th Fleet under Admiral Kinkaid provided direct support for the landings at Leyte, and included 16 CVEs under Admiral Sprague. Kinkaid was under Gen. Macauthor's command, while the 3rd fleet under Admiral Halsey, which was charged wiht destroying Japanese naval forces, was under Admiral Nitmitz. This led to some of the usual command foul ups which plagued the two headed monster command structure of the Pacific, as you will see).

We interupted our support missions to launch against an incoming Japanese fleet we caught (launched Aircraft) at about 0400 hrs. (NOTE: Halsey's 3rd fleet launches massive air strikes on Admiral Kurita's incoming large surface force of BBs and cruisers, sinking super battleship musashi. Sangamon supported this op; 10-24-44). We found ourselves withdrawing, trying to get out of the way of Yamato and the huge force the other CVE's were holding off.

C: Were you flying close air support, or anti-shpping missions, or a combination of both?

A: At that point, a combination of both. Plus our fighters were constantly fighting off air attacks, which we were under day and night for days. We stayed on our guns solidly for over a week, not going below at all; they were attacking constantly, 24 hrs a day, they would come in at any moment. They would bring us our food-we never left our battle stations.

E: Did you see any of the first kamikaze attacks at that time, and if so, what was the general reaction of the crew to these guys flying perfectly good airplanes into ships?

A:Yes, we couldnt believe it. Really freaked everybody out when they started doing that. Our sister ship Santee took a bad kamikaze hit. They sent alot of her wounded to Sangamon, and there were stretchers all over the passageways wiht badly wounded men, many of them horribly burned. Once when we came under attack and the bugle call sounded for general quarters (which everybody was already at), some of them tried to get up move. The flesh just fell off of them, exposing bones and such. Those poor guys were just cooked. Was terrible, but we kept fighting.
We also wound up wiht a japanese pilot in our brig we had shot down, and they were interogating him before they finally sent him to a destroyer and then to Pearl. Thought we'd never be rid of him. Man did he smell bad. Took weeks to get the smell out of the brig. (NOTE: the Japanese pilots in the Phillipines lived under horrid conditions of near starvation).


E: Do you remember any of the aircraft types that were attacking you, or were you just too busy shooting at them to notice?

A: I remember mostly Betties and Zekes, and there were many other types, but I just cant remember. There were so many that I really didnt know what many of them were at the time. We just fired at anything with the rising sun on them (laughs).

Enforcer572005
01-28-2006, 11:01 PM
Ok kids, this is the first interview ive ever done, so Im not Jay Leno, ok? The subject is Mr. Art Lattimer, a nieghbor who lives across the alley from me. He was on board the CVE USS Sangamon, the largest class of CVE which was converted from large fast tankers (fast for tankers-20 knts). They looked similiar to the independance class CVLs but were alot slower, but they had a long deck which made for easier ops.

Art was onboard her from Oct 42 off Guadalcanal to the final fight off Okinawa, where the ship was gravely damaged by a kamikaze hit amidships. She survived more damage from that hit than any other CVE, but it ended the war for her as she was so badly damaged, at about the same time as the Franklin was. His experience goes from fending off Betties off the canal to waves of kamikazes at leyte and more waves at Okinawa, at the trigger of a twin 40mm mount forward on the starboard side.

I will post this in 2 parts, as its just too much to put on here (whith navy photos) in one night, so be patient. If you have questions, feel free to ask them, as he is very willing to discuss the war and provide as much info as he is qualified to do. Keep in mind that this was 6 decades ago, but he has excellent recall of the events he was in. His wife was also there and they were really interested in talking of those times.

I took him an original copy of the book issued to most CVE sailors in the pacific after the war (but he didnt get one) about escort carrier ops in the pacific. He was gobbling that thing up and it stimulated some conversation that he graciously allowed me to record and share wiht you. I will quote as much as possible, but in the interest of clarity and time, i will paraphrase sometimes and combine questions and answers taht are related and complete info. Best i can do. So pay attention, as he is the real thing. I will add occaisional notes for historical clarity and context, so noted.

C.

And Im E and he is A, so.....

E:When did you join the Navy and how old were you?

A: In early 42, and i was 17 yrs old. I lived right down the street here at the time.

E: 17!?!? COOL....My late uncle, in whose house i now live, was in his 30s, and he enlisted about the same time and became a CB, since he was already an engineer.

A: When we would go ashore in the various pacific islands, we would always look up the CBs(note;construction battalions-navy). they always had the best food. And yeah, they were already construction guys, welders etc, so they already knew what they were doing. And they always did a super job. Good bunch of guys.

E: Where did you take your training?

A: San Diego. I took a test while in boot camp, and they sent me to fire control school, and i wound up in San fransisco boarding the ship before it left for the Solomons. I was assigned to the 2cd division deck force, but i chipped paint and cleaned heads for a while before an opening came along in fire control, and they put me on a 40mm mount....thank goodness.

THE SANGAMON UNDERWAY JUST BEFORE GUADALCANAL.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/0302601.jpg

E: What were your duties at that station, and where were you located on board?

A: I was located on the starboard side on a twin 40mm AA mount. This weapon had a Mk-1 gunsight, which i operated and used to sight the targets. Id get the enemy plane in focus, then fire with triggers on a handlebar control, which i used to move the guns about. I had a sailor on either side in case the traversing mechanism went out, who could elevate and traverse the guns manually if the traversing mechanism went out. There were 2 more men passing ammo up through an opening in the deck, to other men who fed the shells into the top of the guns. (note:5 rd clips).

E: How did you select targets? Was the CIC involved, and to what extent?

A: Yes, I had earphones on, and they would spot the planes, give us range and direction, then we'd pick it up in the sights. They'd call out a target inbound starboard side, then we'd pick it up and engage it.

STARBOARD GUN GALLERY LOOKING AFT ON SANGAMON, TWIN 40MM MOUNT IN FOREGROUND. Note director on rt side of gun in control seat.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamongungallerylowres.jpg

E: Did you use proximity fused shells when you first went aboard, and if so, how effective were they?

A: Yes, usually. They were very, very effective.It sure was.

Mrs A: Years ago, when our kids were small, we went to Mobile about the USS Alabama. There was a sign on a gunmount (40mm) that said "no climbing", so i told the kids to stay off them. I turned around and Art was already on top of that thing. (rolls eyes).

E: Well he was certainly qualified to be there; probably the only guy on board who could crank that sucker up and start blasting.

A: (Looking through the book at pics of aircraft on decks). Yeah, i could sure do that. But I always loved to talk to the pilots and listen to thier stories. Especially one who had been shot down and finally got back to us later after being down on some island. Some got back, some didnt. I tell ya, those pilots, they were men of their own....had to be pretty tough to go through what they did day after day and make it back to us. They lived a life we just couldnt know about.

E: Yes, it was hairy enough just to get back on that deck. When did you get to Guadalcanal?

A: a couple of months after the Marines landed. (NOTE: Oct 42). We fought off lots of airattacks there, then wound up off New Guinea. There were no ports where we were, just ships at anchor, and japanese soldiers all over the place. They were even climbing up anchor chains looking for food and whatever. They sent us to help beat them down a bit, close support for the troops.

(NOTE: his grandson comes in at that point, who is about to join the Navy himself and is REAL enthusiastic about it).

E: What other operations stand out in your mind?

A: We supported the landings at Tarawa...hand me that map....The marines really caught it there. We flew air support, again with F4Fs, SBDs, and TBFs. Lots of air support...close in to the Marines.

E: Did you come under air attack off tarawa?

A: Yes, several times. We were also in support of the Saipan and Tinian operations. lots of resistance in the air at Saipan. We would steam so close to the beach that we could see our guys fighting through binoculars. Could see the tanks rolling over little trails.

E: Were you actually doing air ops that close in to the beach?

A: No, we would steam out a ways to launch aircraft into the wind, but head right back in after they were off the deck. (looking through the photos of CVEs in Pearl Harbor). I always enjoyed out trips back to Pearl to resupply...nice place. Made about 7 trips there through 43. Didnt have any place else we could go at that time. The Japanese owned nearly everything until then. By 44 we had anchorages in places like Ulithi, and I also spent some time at Tulagi. The Pacific was just so vast.
We even checked the island they exploded the atomic bomb at after the war....Bikini island....made sure the Japanese werent there.

E: Back to Guadalcanal (NOTE: my scripted plan for this has gone to blazes by now). How long did you stay on station in that area?

A: About three weeks.

E: Where did you operate generally? Were you close in covering Admiral Turner's transports, or out forward deployed?

A:We were forward deployed, moving around alot, trying to intercept air attacks coming in from Rabaul before they got close. I saw alot of air attacks, Betties especially, coming real low sometimes; we were determined to stop them.

DAMAGED F4F ON SANGAMON'S DECK, AROUND THE END OF THE SOLOMONS CMPN.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/0302606.jpg

E: The CVEs didnt get alot of press compared to the fleet carriers, as I suppose giving air support to landings and troops inland isnt very glamorous. Then came the Phillipines and the Battle of Samar. Where was the Sangamon during that operation?

A: Well, right before Samar we were part of Kinkaid's command (NOTE: 7th Fleet under Admiral Kinkaid provided direct support for the landings at Leyte, and included 16 CVEs under Admiral Sprague. Kinkaid was under Gen. Macauthor's command, while the 3rd fleet under Admiral Halsey, which was charged wiht destroying Japanese naval forces, was under Admiral Nitmitz. This led to some of the usual command foul ups which plagued the two headed monster command structure of the Pacific, as you will see).

We interupted our support missions to launch against an incoming Japanese fleet we caught (launched Aircraft) at about 0400 hrs. (NOTE: Halsey's 3rd fleet launches massive air strikes on Admiral Kurita's incoming large surface force of BBs and cruisers, sinking super battleship musashi. Sangamon supported this op; 10-24-44). We found ourselves withdrawing, trying to get out of the way of Yamato and the huge force the other CVE's were holding off.

C: Were you flying close air support, or anti-shpping missions, or a combination of both?

A: At that point, a combination of both. Plus our fighters were constantly fighting off air attacks, which we were under day and night for days. We stayed on our guns solidly for over a week, not going below at all; they were attacking constantly, 24 hrs a day, they would come in at any moment. They would bring us our food-we never left our battle stations.

E: Did you see any of the first kamikaze attacks at that time, and if so, what was the general reaction of the crew to these guys flying perfectly good airplanes into ships?

A:Yes, we couldnt believe it. Really freaked everybody out when they started doing that. Our sister ship Santee took a bad kamikaze hit. They sent alot of her wounded to Sangamon, and there were stretchers all over the passageways wiht badly wounded men, many of them horribly burned. Once when we came under attack and the bugle call sounded for general quarters (which everybody was already at), some of them tried to get up move. The flesh just fell off of them, exposing bones and such. Those poor guys were just cooked. Was terrible, but we kept fighting.
We also wound up wiht a japanese pilot in our brig we had shot down, and they were interogating him before they finally sent him to a destroyer and then to Pearl. Thought we'd never be rid of him. Man did he smell bad. Took weeks to get the smell out of the brig. (NOTE: the Japanese pilots in the Phillipines lived under horrid conditions of near starvation).


E: Do you remember any of the aircraft types that were attacking you, or were you just too busy shooting at them to notice?

A: I remember mostly Betties and Zekes, and there were many other types, but I just cant remember. There were so many that I really didnt know what many of them were at the time. We just fired at anything with the rising sun on them (laughs).

Saunders1953
01-28-2006, 11:21 PM
Salute Mr. Lattimer! Thanks for this opportunity, Enforcer. Keep it coming.

woofiedog
01-29-2006, 12:23 AM
Extremely Mint Work you did here and a Very interesting story.
A Big Thank's to Mr. Art Lattimer for sharing his story with us and also to you for taking the time to put this story altogether and posting on the Forum.
Again Great Job... Thank's

Enforcer572005
01-29-2006, 12:50 AM
sure guys....ill get as much tonight as i can. REmember, if any1 has any questions, he will try to answer them, if he can. I go back in about a week to get my book; he really loves that thing. He cant find anyone else that was on sangamon, despite efforts to find out about reunions etc.

Anyway, continuing ........

E: Did you ever see any of the Admirals, like sprague or Kinkaid?

A: Yes, both Sprague and Kinkaid used Sangamon as thier flag ship on occaision. Admiral Sprague especially, since he was in command of the CVEs in the pacific and at the Phillipines. He had his flag on board during some of these attacks and we were giving it our all, fighting constantly and manuvering the ship, and he thought we looked real good, which is pretty much what we wanted him to think.

A KAMIKAZE NARROWLY MISSES THE SANGAMON'S STERN.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/kamikazeastern.jpg

E:How was the Sangamon's airwing equipped?

A: At Guadalcanal we had F4Fs, SBDs, and TBFs. then we got the later model wildcats (NOTE: FM-2s). BEfore Okinawa, F6Fs replaced SBDs, and we still had some wildcats. The Marines had been equipped wiht F4Us, but we got a Navy squadron wiht them. They couldnt operate off of the small CVEs supposedly, but our longer deck could handle them. at Okinawa we had F6Fs, F4Us, and TBFs. The ship was crawling wiht pilots, coming out of every hangar deck.

E: How many Aircraft did the airwing usually have?

A: I beleive it was from 50 to 60, depending. The folding wings really helped htat along. Had to keep most of them above deck though, as there wasnt enough room for many below. we were a converted tanker, not designed as a carrier.

A 1/72 SCALE MODEL OF SANGAMON AS IT APPEARED AT LEYTE AND OKINAWA.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamonmodel.jpg

E: Did the ship ever take any bomb hits?

A: Yes, once at Leyte we were skip bombed during a large air attack by one that got through. The bomb was dropped in a low level run and bounced up and onto the flight deck.

A DAMAGED HELLCAT BURNS ON SANGAMON'S DECK.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/0302609.jpg

E: Any idea what type aircraft?

A: I couldnt tell you, as i had problems of my own, and it was very confusing with all that shooting and all those planes flying around, explosions, crashing planes and such. There were just so many of them, and we were wondering where they were coming from. I started smoking then, and we had to go below decks to do it, but we had to stay on the guns.

(NOTE: these planes were land based in the Phillipines, but the intensity of these attacks and large numbers convinced the normally astute Halsey there were IJN carriers in the area, prompting him to take the bait of Admiral Ozawa's planeless carrier decoy force to the north. This left San Bernidino straights open through a commo foul up between Kincaid, Halsey, and Lee, who had just anhilated a surface force the night before at Surigao straights in the last battleship fight. This in turn left the invasion beaches open guarded only by Taffey 3 at Samar-6 CVEs, 3 DDs, 4 DEs).

SANGAMON LEADS ADMIRAL SPRAGUE'S CVEs TO LEYTE.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamonCVEstoleyte.jpg

E: There were attacks every day in the Phillipines?

A: Every day, and night. Several of them. Big ones, lots of planes, including kamikaze. This included torpedo attacks.We stayed on the guns for days, and as stated, we had our meals brought up to us.Stayed awake for days, almost no sleep.

E: Im curious about the night attacks.Did they start that in the Phillipines, and how did you target them?

A: It wasnt easy, as you could easily hit other American ships wiht AA fire, and that happened sometimes.

E: Yeah, I know Enterprise lost most of a gun gallery of gunners to friendly AA fire much earlier in the war.

A: Alot of them were coming in really low, below radar. When we were at Tulagi earlier, somebody had the bright idea of turning on the topmast lights so that the position of our ships could be determined by the gunners and we wouldnt shoot them. It also revealed our positions to the Japanese, and we suffered heavy losses as a result. Not very effective. Confusion and chaos with extremely low attacks. Bombs, torpedos, and kamikazes.

E: You see lots of film of low level torpedo attacks and endless geysers of water in front of the planes. Many say that was a deliberate tactic to foul up their targeting solution. Is that correct, or is all that fire just rounds that miss?

A: No, if you hit the water, the range finder was low, and you had to adjust it. They were low and fast, and we took them under direct fire, always. They were too low for the radar to assist us.

E:So it was pure visual target aquisition at that point, just correcting it manually. Windage and elevation as John Wayne said.

A: yes, if you hit short you had to adjust quickly. We werent used to fighting like that, as we had no idea the Japanese had that in them. This nation was really lucky to beat them.

E:There is a much published photo of a plane engulfed in flame with a huge trail of black smoke, usually acredited as a japanese plane at Leyte guld. Turns out its a wildcat, as can plainly be seen in the photo. Some poor guy got into the defense screen during a kamikaze attack as he was trying to recover. Did you have any identification friend or foe (IFF) problems?

A: Oh yes, big problems, big problems.Had alot of shot up planes trying to recover, and they were supposed to approach high at a particular altitude, but often were too damaged to stay at that altitude and were limping in barely in the air....and we would open up on them. One pilot told us, landing aboard after such an event, that there was so much fire he could have gotten out and walked on it, and he was glad he wasnt Japanese.

Those pilots were really something; they would go through hell EVERY time they'd go up, and having to be of a sound enough mind to recover on the deck after all that. Getting shot at by everybody, facing what they did on a regular basis. I saw alot of them wipe out, many come in and just bounce up off hte deck into the water. We lost alot of planes....those pilots, they were...rough and ready.

E: Did you still have any FM-2s on board at leyte, and at what point did you get the Corsairs? Part of the reason i ask such is because these guys on the sim forum i hang out on recreate WW2 in their campaigns, and they are very meticulous.

A: Yes, we still had some Wildcats at Leyte. We got Corsairs just before Okinawa. We didnt have them very long. The Navy felt they were too fast for the smaller CVEs. I never saw any operate off the small ones. I did see some land on the small ones when they had no place to land, but they didnt take off from them.

E: The Sangamon was limited to what, 20 to 21 knots speed? So i assume you had to use the catapult alot wiht loaded planes into the wind?

A: With loaded TBFs we always had to use the cats. They were just too heavy for our speed. The fighters though, could get off pretty easily, especially wiht our long deck. The would take off then drop really low over the water, really low. I saw alot of planes go into the water, and we would manuver to avoid them while the Destroyers picked them up. I really admired those destroyer guys, the way they would race around grabbing our pilots out of the water and protecting us.

The pilots would pretty well be shot out by the time their tour ended, I mean no nerves left at all, but they always flew.

SO ENDS PART ONE.....Stay tuned tomorow for part 2, same bat channel, same bat time. Theres lots more kiddies, as the malestrom of Okinawa proves too much for some ships, but not the Sangy....she takes a kamikaze and more damage than most full size CVs could handle. Part 2 will conclude this tomorow.

A Ki-61 TONY NARROWLY MISSES SANGAMON, CLIPPING AN ANTENAE....30 miniutes before a Ki-45 slams her amidships.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamontookoffantenae30minbeforeon.jpg

partic_3
01-29-2006, 02:32 AM
Thanks for posting.
And thank your friend for his service. I'm an Australian and probably wouldn't be here but for men like Mr. Lattimer.

Enforcer572005
01-29-2006, 10:29 AM
sure partic, ill tell him. Im gonna copy this to a cd after a few days along with a ton of stuff i got from the naval archives so he can see it on his sons computer when he gets a chance.

OK>..PART 2.

The Sangamon took part in Okinawa, being part of the picket defense as well as supporting the troops wiht her hellcats, corsairs, and avengers. The reception was far worse than even that at Leyte, with kamikazis raining from the air, in addition to conventional air attacks. And for the first time since the Solomons, IJN surface ships became a threat, as gettting in the way of the Yamato could ruin your whole day.

We take up with Art talking of the conclusion of the Phillipines cmpn.

A: We had gone to Australia for a couple of days before the Leyte landings, the cruiser Nashville picking up MacArthur (i mis-spelled that earlier-duh http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/35.gif) and taking him there. Unfortunately I didnt get to go ashore in Austrailia. The REd Cross did a super job, as they came along and gave us stuff we needed like toothbrushes, cigarettes, toothpaste, some candy. Then we got a copy of MacArthur's "I have returned" statement, that we got to keep as a keepsake.....(pauses looking through the book at the Phillipines section)...that was quite an adventure...you had to be young though. You couldnt go in that 40 yrs old....I think 35 was the limit.

E: When you look at the older admirals who served so long and with such determination but were up in yrs a bit, many of them just up and died shortly after the war ended. General Roy Gieger, who commanded the troops on okinawa and was air commander at Guadalcanal, died shortly after returning home, as did Admiral Mitscher, and Admiral John McCain who was also at Guadalcanal, died the night he came home...in his sleep-flying into Henderson in a PBY between raids-not getting any rest at all hardly. It just wore these guys out apparently.

A: I didnt know that about McCain....there were alot of guys up to thier late 30s in senior positions-they usually gave them a bit lighter duty with their seniority, and alot of them were shore patrol and such, but they were there in the fight. Staying on your gun 24 hrs a day for weeks at a time was pretty demanding.

E: that must've been totally nerve wracking.

A: Yeah, on the gun mount we had myself and another sailor who would set the range once we recieved it, and 6 on the mount itself, and we alternated and would try and rest a while, but someone kept thier eyes open all the time.

E: Weren't you guys hit at about the same time the Franklin took those bombs that hurt her so bad? And can you tell me about the kamikaze attack itself when you were hit? Was it during one of the mass attacks?

DECK DAMAGE FROM THE KAMIKAZE, ELEVATOR BLOWN OUT OF WELL.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamondeckdamagelowres.jpg

A: Yes, it was about the same time as the Franklin, and we were under a mass attack, massive, sure was. You didnt know who was friend or enemy, they threw everything against us, and it seemed they all came in that attack. As at Leyte, we were wondering where these guys were coming from-there were so many of them. It was during one of these we took one.

MORE DECK DAMAGE.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamondeckdamage3.jpg

DECK LOOKING FORWARD.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamondeckdamageforwardlowres.jpg

E: What happened when it hit...I assume you were blazing away at them when it did.

A: All hell broke loose....it was total chaos for a while. The aviation division working the flight deck was very good and swung into fighting the fires immiediately. There was ordinance all over the deck and fuel lines running, but they got alot alot of that took care of and really lit into fighting the fire.

(NOTE: Sangamon's crew had ALL been extensively trained in fire control as a result of a new policy, and this saved the ship along wiht some design features it inherited from being a tanker. The ordinance was mostly rolled overboard, fuel lines shut off, and there were surprisingly less casualties compared to ships like Franklin and Santee. When fires drove the bridge crew off, the capt. helmed the ship from aft steering on the flight deck).

E: So the deck handlers and damage control were taking care of the fire......

A: yes, and then we pulled off the line as quickly as we could and all hands stood to, everyone was in damage control while we fought those fires. You wonder how you got outta there sometimes.

E:How long did it take to get the fires under control?

A: Took us....well we got outta there making 5 knts, and thats slow. We got pretty far out before we got them under control. The destroyers were racing all over the place firing like mad at the kamikazes. (NOTE: 2 DDs and an auxilery helped fight the fires as they did and took damage, a burning hellcat falling on one's depth charges but being pushed overboard-2 of them were damaged when Sangamon heeled into them, but they stayed on station firing and fighting fires).

E: So you headed home at 5 knts, then what happened?

A: We finally made it to the west coast at 5 very slow knts, but all the anchorages were full of ships damaged at Okinawa; there was no room at all. So we were ordered to go through the panama canal to Norfolk, believe it or not.

Low_Flyer_MkII
01-29-2006, 10:35 AM
Great stuff! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

Very well presented.

You've obviously looked into your subject and considered what to ask - it shows. Keep up the good work!

Enforcer572005
01-29-2006, 10:58 AM
OK, im back, as my cmputer CTD due to some "runtime" error....took over my comp, but like MacArthur I took it back.

(NOTE: the kamikaze was a Ki-45 Nick that came in low from the stern while other planes were attacking from the sides. It dropped a bomb that penetrated the flight deck and exploded in the hangar deck, but due to the Capt's policy of emptying the hangar deck during attacks, nobody was hurt there. The Nick exploded amidships, setting off some ordinance and blowing both elevators out of thier wells, one flying into the air and the other just collapsing).

THE AIR WING WAS OBLITERATED, EVEN THE TOW TRACTORS.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamondamagetodecktractors.jpg

THE HANGAR DECK LOOKING AFT TO THE COLLAPSED ELEVATOR.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamonelevatorcollapse.jpg

LOOKING AFT AT BUCKED FLIGHT DECK, NOBODY ON BRIDGE AS COMMAND HAS TRANSFERED TO AFT STEERING.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamonsteeringtransferredaftlowre.jpg

E: So how was the trip home? All the way to Norfolk.....

A: We traveled 12000 miles at 5 lousy knots....thought we would never get home. We went through the canal and into Norfolk, a Pacific fleet ship into an Atlantic fleet port, since ours were all full of damaged ships from the kamikazes. Finally home.....after the navy took a look at her, it was decided she was beyond repair at that point in the war....so she was decommisioned and eventually scrapped. So our war was over, a long one. It was an adventure though.

E: Well I appreciate your giving me this opportunity, and so will the guys on the Il-2 forum. There are guys on there from all over the world who will be interested in this and will probably have some questions.

A: I'll try to answer them if its anything I know. Alot was going on. When i was in the Australian port, I didnt get to go ashore, but I did go on a large British cruiser....nice looking ship, but man was that thing filthy. They were real good to us, but i couldnt have spent the night on there....the British sailors were fine, lots of fun, cheerio and all that.Great guys. But that thing needed a few mops. (NOTE:the one tool everybody in the USN knows how to use is a mop, as any American sailor can tell you).
And they were good fighters, that was a fightin' navy for sure, but they were lousy housekeepers (laughs). I guess they had been too busy fighting to worry about it. Thanks for bringing this book.

E: Thank you, and Ill be back in a few days.

Saunders1953
01-29-2006, 11:22 AM
Enforcer, has Mr. Lattimer tried this contact person for reunions and such?

USS Sangamon CVE-26:

Mr. Henry J Millan
165 W 20th St
Bayonne, NJ 07003-1507

201-823-3560

This contact info might be kind of old--several years I believe, but it's a start.

Enforcer572005
01-29-2006, 11:31 AM
Thanks, ill give him that when I go back. He'll be interested in that. He looks and acts alot younger than his yrs, but I think he wants to bet in touch with his old shipmates.

Here's some more pics from the naval archives, which has 19 pages of photos and documents on the Sangamon. I hope this link thingy works.
www.navsource.org/archives/03/cve-26/sangamon01.htm (http://www.navsource.org/archives/03/cve-26/sangamon01.htm)

THE ONLY RADIO LEFT INTACT WAS IN THE ONLY PLANE NOT TOTALLLY DESTROYED.This and one signal lamp from and LCI were the only communications they had.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamononlysurvivingradiolowres.jpg

JtD
01-29-2006, 11:33 AM
Thanks for all this, well done.

Saunders1953
01-29-2006, 11:35 AM
Just reread this again. Fantastic read. Thanks again, Enforcer.

I have a question--what formation did they generally use when under attack, and what was the approximate distances between the ships in the formation?

Enforcer572005
01-29-2006, 11:37 AM
ill make a list of all the questions. I suggest the navy archives site i listed above for some really amazing info on this ship and her amazing crew....19 pages of photos and documents.

SANGAMON IN THE LOCKS OF THE PANAMA CANAL.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamonthroughcanallowres.jpg

THE DEAD ARE LAID TO REST IN THE SEA. Sangamon had amazingly fewer killed than the other ships that were this badly damaged, thanks to her captain's policies, the crews training and guts, and a couple of design quirks. ALL HONOR TO THEM.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamonburialatsea.jpg

Saunders1953
01-29-2006, 11:51 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">A: We finally made it to the west coast at 5 very slow knts, but all the anchorages were full of ships damaged at Okinawa; there was no room at all. So we were ordered to go through the panama canal to Norfolk, believe it or not. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

D@mn, that's a lot of havoc wreaked!

-HH-Dubbo
01-29-2006, 02:52 PM
Brilliant read Enforcer. Excellent work my friend. Hat's off to you and Mr Lattimer

joeap
01-29-2006, 03:33 PM
Thanks Enforcer, send my greetings to Mr. Lattimer as well!

Enforcer572005
01-30-2006, 05:52 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/1072.gif
I have to correct a mistake that I (me,myself,not Art) made in the dates of arrival in the solomons.....i looked at the log, and they departed for the pacific in Dec 42,, not october. They arrived in new caledonia jan 3,43, and operated in the solomons until April, with the first few weeks of that being in proximity to Guadalcanal im sure. He couldnt remember the exact month, and i incorrectly extrapolated (is that a word) from ohter info...so DUH on me http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/35.gif.

I dont give those hollywood morons any leeway, so i dont give myself any either. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif The Sangy was in Operation Torch in North Africa in november42, art joined the ship rt after her return to the US.

The log is on the naval archives site provided earlier. Ill have to ask him if he talked to any of the pilots who flew in torch.....probably guys aboard who tangled wiht the Vichy. There were alot of guys in the Solomons who got thier first combat in Torch.

They operated with 2 of thier sister ships in the solomons, and a couple of the old battlewagons, before going to N.Guinea.

Below are color photos of her going into an anchorage somewhere in the pacific, then a shot of the SBDs on deck in Torch, and a shot of a sister ship wiht a neat camo job.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamonandchenango.jpg

the caption says she carried 34 planes, but that seems kinda light for a ship that size. It was 6 decades ago, and that kinda thing varied, and I know they really crammed those things sometimes. Dealing with war is sort of like dealing with women...alot of crazy stuff going on and many variables mixed with chaos. That's why we have all these screaming arguments over AC performance on here http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/53.gif.

ok, i just thought of something....Did SBDs even have folding wings? I dont remember ever seeing a shot of such, but i dunno. If they didnt, Art's mention of the folding wings allowing increased AC storage would make sense, wiht her carrying more planes later in the war.
I believe that the earliest models for sure had rigid wings, like the early wildcats (F4F-3s). This is what leads to all the inconsistancies we see on here and in accounts on WW2 events and weapons performance etc. everything changes with so many variables, so.....

This is one of her under attack: Note the AA bursts on the right. There's no date, and the caption said it was a kamikaze attack, but this guy is doing a pretty poor job of it if that's the case. Looks more like a conventional attack, but again, who knows.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/kamikazedivingonsangamon.jpg

This is a message from an escorting DD that engaged the kamikaze that hit her. He compares the fires to the one that sank Lexington in 42.
Looking through the logs and more of the material on the archives site really gives an insight into the people involved in all this.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/Enforcer572005/sangamonmessage2.jpg

I also noted in the above color phpto that it says the camo scheme worn by Chenango in the bottom color plate was a "late war scheme", but you'll notice the planes are in early war (42-43) markings and colors as worn in the solomons cmpn. Man, historians have thier work cut out for them. I guess this is why you should always caption your photos somewhere.

Slickun
01-30-2006, 06:46 AM
Thanks for doing the interview, and posting this.

Fellas, if you are lucky enough to be around a veteran, any country, any branch of service, get out and do an oral history on him. You will both be so very glad you did it.

That said, I'm struck by how tough the conditions were for everyone. We think its glamorous sometimes. It ain't. He went through hell, and feels sorry for the pilots!

I'm sure he doesn't view himself this way, but he is a hero, and my hats off to him.

Saunders1953
01-30-2006, 07:34 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I dont give those hollywood morons any leeway, so i dont give myself any either. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Good on you, my man. If enough people held as meticulous a standard, we'd all be better off.


[/quote] I'm sure he doesn't view himself this way, but he is a hero, and my hats off to him.[/quote]

Almost all of them are like that. Growing up in a small midwestern USA town, my Dad and all my friends dads were WWII vets. He was a working stiff like everyone else(although, funny thing, us kids all thought we were rich--we never went without, and we seemed to clean up at Christmas! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif).

Hanging around waiting for Pops while he was chewing the fat with his buddies/contemporaries around town, they'd inevitably get around to talking about their service, especially at Flynn's Bar on Friday nights having a cool one after a long workweek. I'd hear the best war stories! I still talk to some of those guys--mostly at funerals now--and some times I can get them going about their experiences. I cannot recall any bragging/self promotion by anyone of those guys. Ever, in over 45 years of hearing this stuff from them.

That's a good website, Enforcer. Coincidentally, I just started reading "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors"--my Dad's first cousin was on the DD Hoel. According to research and interviews with survivors by his brother, Seaman 1st Class James Landsperger made it into the water, but the sharks took him. I can't hardly fathom what these people went through.

Lucius_Esox
01-30-2006, 07:58 AM
That must have been hell. Great read enforcer.

Dunkelgrun
01-30-2006, 08:36 AM
Enforcer, thanks very much, excellent stuff.
Sat hello and thanks to Art from us all.

Cheers!

Enforcer572005
01-31-2006, 01:06 AM
I saw him today in his yard (he's always going-never seen him slow down) and told him some of the things you guys said, and he was glad somebody was interested in his ship. I didnt have the adress i was given to give him, but i will get that to him next week sometime. He was going somewhere and so was i.

He finds it interesting that we can pretty much recreate most any scenario from ww2 to one extent or the other. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

Saunders1953
01-31-2006, 06:51 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">He finds it interesting that we can pretty much recreate most any scenario from ww2 to one extent or the other. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I bet he thinks that's kinda wierd, though. I do.

dieg777
01-31-2006, 07:44 AM
Please thank Mr. Lattimer for his time and for sharing his memories.

As someone whos primary interest was the western front- I am pretty ignorant of Pacific operations, but would like to know if there was any tour of duty for the fliers e.g. 30 missions or if they just stayed with the ship for her tour.

He mentioned his war was over after they scrapped the USS SAngamon, didnt he serve on any other ships after his return to the States? How did his service days end ?

-S-

Enforcer572005
01-31-2006, 08:02 AM
yeah, well it is kinda wierd i guess, but everybody i know considers Im kinda wierd http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/53.gif(i kinda used that as an advantage wiht the chicks when I was younger-heh heh). He knows that there are alot of us who are really into WW2, and not being forgotten is a good thing. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif

Ill add the tour question to the next set of questions...thanks.

I dont think he served any more tours on ships since the war was soon over and he mustered out I believe, like my uncle in his mid 30s after his tour as a CB-went back to the Celanese village and worked in the local textile mill, like most of the community probably. The whole village was emptied of healthy males during the war, nearly all of them enlisting after Pearl, from what my late uncle told me. They all stood tall in hell as far as im concerned http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif.
There is a long list of those from here who didnt come back.

Ill find out for sure. ....most of those guys were in it for the duration and werent prof military types. The Sangamon was actually (I discovered) sold to commercial concerns and rebuilt by them to the original tanker config http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif.....but it was eventually scrapped after a number of yrs, just dunno when.

FlatSpinMan
01-31-2006, 10:40 AM
Interesting stuff, Enforcer. Thanks to you and your neighbour.