Memorial Day 2004


As the nation pays special tribute to those who served in World War II, here's an account of the ocean crossing of a troop convoy. My great Uncle Floyd Bates would have been a part of this convey. He was with the 127th Infantry in New Guinea. The convoy left San Francisco on April 22, 1942, headed for Port Adelaide, Australia.

What followed was almost six weeks at sea. One of the ships could only make 9 knots, consequently the convoy could only go that speed. Because of sea sickness, I could not go on deck for about the first week, and the heavy swells stayed with us until at least Hawaii (we never made land).

One day out, we were joined by the cruiser Indianapolis, which would act as escort. Aboard the Scott, the destination was not known (although it was rumored to be Melbourne or Brisbane, Australia).

En route, the troops were miserable. The orders of the day included three meals down promptly followed by three meals back up. The deck had salt water showers and the heads of the ship sloshed with vomit. The crew of the ship also occasionally played pranks on us.

One that stands out occurred on May 6, 1942, when the crew announced that there would be fishing the next day and a sign-up sheet was posted. The next day, on May 8, it was announced that "suckers" were caught and the list was of signees posted. As it turned out, the ship had crossed the International Date Line and there was no "next day" to go fishing.

Uncle Floyd, who received two Purple Hearts, passed away at the end of last year, one of the many WWII vets that didn't live to see the completion of a national memorial honoring their fallen comrades. You can read my account of his funeral here.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 1, 2004 12:49 AM.

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