View Full Version : This day in history, Dec 18, 1944

12-18-2002, 06:54 PM
"The US Navy's Task Force 38, en route to Luzon, Philippines, was struck by a fierce typhoon in the Pacific Ocean. Three destroyers capsized and were lost; several other ships were severely damaged."

(got the 2003 WB Mariner's Book of Days as a present)jimd

J. Dillon
12-18-2002, 09:56 PM
Yes, I remember. I was 15 teen then and I remember the newspapers had a picture of the flight deck of one carrier rolled up like a newspaper. Admiral Halsey was almost court martialed.

"The Caine Munity" a fictional book that was made into a movie where the xo ( Van Johnson) took over command while the skipper (H. Bogart) cowered on the bridge.

Good flick and one worth getting out in a video.


12-18-2002, 10:05 PM

That is a good flick. One of Bogie's most memorable performances, Capt. Queeg. That scene where J.Ferrer puts him on the stand! Rolling the steel balls, raving about the strawberry caper. That look on Bogie's face, when he realizes what has happened. For all of his appeal as a "character" actor, the fellow sure knew his craft.

Only a bit tarnished by the insipid romanntic story line they inserted, for God knows what reason, 'cept maybe to get the gals to to go. :D


12-18-2002, 10:20 PM
One of the things that made that story so good for me was that Queeg was a seaman, who had risen through the ranks, dealing with an executive staff of college men. I didn't know who to root for until I saw he was crazy.

J. Dillon
12-18-2002, 10:25 PM

Lawyers breaking down witnesses is a good theme.

Ever see "A few good men" ? Where Tom Cruise" manipulates Jack Nicholson while on the witness stand and good ole Nicholson falls into the trap and shoots his mouth off.

Court room dramas are good stuff for movies.

"12 angry men" is another good one and all the variations of the Scope "Monkey" trail

"Inherit the wind"


12-18-2002, 10:31 PM
Hijacking the thread a mite. Yeah Rod, I agree, but remember that the xo, Van Johnson, was also a seaman. He's conviced of Queeg's instability by the smooth talking college boy played by Fred MacMurry, but is really torn until the scene on the bridge in the typhoon. When push comes to shove, when they go to file a report with Halsey, and later at courtmartial, the McMurry character chickens out.

One of the last scenes, the victory party, when Ferrer (who has just destroyed Queeg on the stand) comes in and read's 'em the riot act, challenging McMurry to "step outside", throwing a drink in his face. "And I'm drunk, so it'd be fair fight." Or words to that effect.

Great flick, 'cept for the romance nonsense.

[ 12-18-2002, 10:32 PM: Message edited by: ishmael ]

12-18-2002, 10:49 PM
Could you clear something up for me. I've always given Queeg credit for turning-tail to the typhoon, but I am unsure. Its been a long time, after all. Who was it who chose to turn away from the storm?

12-18-2002, 11:01 PM
I don't remember the details of the seamanship, but it was the xo who did the correct thing, which I believe involved bearing off.

J. Dillon
12-18-2002, 11:01 PM

The XO , Van Johnson.


Paul Scheuer
12-18-2002, 11:27 PM
Yes, I remember. I was 15 teen then and I remember the newspapers had a picture of the flight deck of one carrier rolled up like a newspaper. A little younger (1-1/2) at the time, but I had seen the picture and thought of it often while at G.Q. in the secondary conning station (under the forward flight deck) of a "modern", Forestal class carrier, USS SARATOGA, built with a "huricane bow", developed as a result of that event.

This was also the X.O.'s G.Q station.

John Bell
12-18-2002, 11:53 PM
My father's oldest brother served as an officer aboard a DD in that task force. I had the privilege of spending some time with him last September when I was in Annapolis for the forum sail outing. I sat up with him for hours every night listening to his 'sea stories' as he called them. He claimed his can was rolling through nearly 90 degrees during that typhoon. As terrifying as that was, the most chilling tales were of picket duty near Okinawa. There they survived a kamikaze attack. The DD astern of them was not so fortunate, sinking with a terrible loss of life. I really regret I did not have a way to record these stories for posterity. I'm hoping to go back soon and try to get him to tell them for me again, this time with a video camera rolling.

On a related note, my father, who has been in poor health of late, has apparently finally started talking about his experiences in counter-intelligence in Korea in the very early 60's. He's always hinted that some of the stuff that went on was pretty 'hot' for the cold war, but my mother who has only recently heard these stories for the first time said she had no idea about how dangerous a life he lived in those days. He's said he's going to gather his children around and try to tell about a part of his life he's been trying to forget, that we need to know some things about the old man. I'm hoping he'll consent to my recording the conversation, too.

12-19-2002, 07:46 AM
John you need to get those stories recorded. The local news here has been running a Veteran History special that was sponsered by congress. Here is the introduction on their web page.

The Veterans History Project was initiated by Congress in October 2000 to promote public learning and preserve our heritage for future generations. It is a national effort to honor our nation's war veterans for their service and to collect their stories and experiences on audio and videotape. These oral histories, along with documentary materials such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs and home movies of America's war veterans and those who served to support them will be catalogued by The American Folklife Center and preserved at the Library of Congress. They will be made accessible to researchers and the American public.

There are amazing life stories of Tennessee Valley veterans that might never be told without a strong public appeal. Channel 3 Eyewitness News, First Tennessee and Erlanger have partnered to promote the Veterans History Project in an extensive 2-1/2 year program to document and preserve the history of our local veterans. We are encouraging Tennessee Valley veterans to participate in the national campaign by videotaping their personal stories about the realities of war and everyday acts of sacrifice and heroism.
Go to this link and click on the Veterns Histroy Project link to learn more.



Ken Hall
12-19-2002, 10:12 AM
If I remember, the romance was also in the book, which Wouk also wrote (and from which he wrote the play of the court-martial, and later the screenplay). Wouk is one of my favorites. The novel is much more Willie Keith's story than the film. There's a fair bit about the previous captain of the Caine, and by the end of the book Keith is the last captain of the ship.

12-21-2002, 09:05 PM
The rest of the week in history...

Dec 15, 1909: The six masted schooner Wyoming, largest wooden schooner ever built - 329 feet length, 50 feet beam, 30 feet draft - was launched in Bath, Maine.

Dec 16, 1773: Colonials dressed as Indians dumped tea from the British ships Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver in a rebellious act that would become known as the Boston Tea Party.

Dec 17, 1939: The German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled off Montevideo, Uruguay, after an action with three British cruisers.

Dec 19, 1861: The clipper ship Empress of the Seas burned in Queenscliffe, Australia.

Dec 20, 1822: The US Congress authorized a 14 ship squadron to suppress piracy in the Caribbean.

Dec 21, 1850: The extreme clipper ship Witchcraft was launched in Chelsea, Mass.

Dec 22, 1837: The US Congress passed the first bill authorizing public vessels - specifically, cutters of the Revenue-Marine, forerunner of the US Coast Guard - to go to the aid of distressed mariners.