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USS Wintle DE-25
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"Sea Stories"

After fifty years, some memories fade, others become amplified. Either effect can be distorting. What follows are "sea stories" collected from crew members of the USS Wintle. Some of the accounts contradict each other. All are influenced by the specific sailor's point-of-view. I leave them unchanged, as they were recounted to me.

I'd like to collect as many stories as possible from the travels of the USS Wintle. The first one is an excellent account of the rescue of the crew of a B-29 which crashed off Nafutan Point, Saipan. If you have stories, or even basic recollections of the ship, please drop me a note! Don't worry about your writing skills. I'm an experienced editor. Or, I would be happy to telephone and then type up the conversation. Every little fragment helps bring it all back to life. Plus it puts it here, on the web, to become part of permanent history (more and more other web pages are linking to the USS Wintle page all the time). I will certainly post your story as "anonymous" if you like. Some stories are still "secret".


B29 Rescue Swann Stories -- A seperate page filled with stories by crew member Joe Swann.
Photo of the ship notes
Training LST trip
Use of the brig PB&J sandwiches
Movies Rations
Appendicitis Typhoon Cobra
Seasick USS North Carolina "shore duty"
The Natives Shelling of Wotje
Torpedeo Pearl Harbor
kamakaze St. Elmo's Fire
Lightning hits geysers Showering in a squall
Tokyo Rose and the WAVES Liberty
Kicking Back Hot!

B29 Rescue

The following is an account of the rescue of survivors from a B29 crash on December 27, 1944, written by member of the USS Wintle crew,
Maynard Brown.

We were patrolling between the Islands of Siapan & Tinian. We saw a low-flying B-29 coming down the slot, and as it flew past the port side of our ship, one engine backfired. We told the look outs, "You better follow that plane, because it's going down!" Of course, that was already obvious to any one that was watching.

So we fired up our other two diesel engines and headed after the plane. The struggling B-29 finally hit the water some distance from us, broke apart, and sank. When we got to the wreckage, we rescued two guys hanging on to a barely floating fuel tank. They had been holding hands across the top. Whenever there was a large swell one would go under and then the other. They were raw from the aviation fuel and from rubbing on the tank. Both were pretty sick puppies.

We spotted another survivor floating in an inflatable yellow dinghy. As we came alongside it with the USS Wintle, large swells lifted the little boat twice. The man in the dinghy's leg was broken off just above his shoe top. All that was holding it on was a little flesh and tendons on the left side. Each time the injured man's foot would flop up to his knee. He was in shock, yet both times he took a hold of his own boot and put it back in the right position. When we brought him aboard he told us how two of his other crewmates had put him into the little boat, and shot him full of morphine. They then swam to nearby Tinian Island.

Later, the two survivors who had been hanging from the fuel tank told us how they had watched helplessly as the bombardier died. He had been trapped in the nose of the aircraft and futilely pounded his fists through the Plexiglas nose windows as the plane sank.

I still can't understand why the bombardier hadn't moved back the rear of the aircraft before the crash. There's a forty-foot tunnel in a B-29 that you crawl through to get from the front, though the bomb bay, to the rear.

The whole thing was not a pretty picture, but who ever said war was pretty? The are eleven members of a B-29 crew, and at least five got out to see another day, this time. Doc went over to Siapan a couple days later, to see the how the survivor from the dingy was coming along. They had been able to save his foot and leg -- so you can find some good even in the midst of the worst things.

Maynard Brown, 12 August, 1999
New info! I now have the names of the three men rescued on that day! - MEW (13 Mar, 2000)

USS Wintle photo notes

According to Andrew Pulley Sr, the baker and #1 loader for the #2 3" gun, the photo of the USS Wintle shows some very interesting details. At the fantail you can see a large white rectangle. This is actually a bedsheet erected for use as a movie screen! This places the photo as being taken on a Sunday, which was movie night. Furthermore note that the ensign at the bow is at half mast. Andrew's recollection is that this was due to the death of President Roosevelt. That places the photo as May, 1945.

According to
David Saunders, this photo was taken by Captain Lieper.


According to Andrew Pulley Sr, the baker and #1 loader for the #2 3" gun, the "plankowners" (the first crew of a ship after it is commissioned -- plankowners may request an actual wooden plank from the ship when it is scrapped) of USS Wintle we almost all shipped to Little Creek, in Virginia Beach for training. After training they were sent by troop train to Mare Island Naval Shipyards, in San Francisco Bay. Interestingly Mr. Pulley now lives in Virginia Beach.

LST Escort

According to Andrew Pulley Sr, the baker and #1 loader for the #2 3" gun, a particularly onerous mission was escorting a damaged LST (landing craft) from the SW Pacific to Pearl Harbor. The damaged ship could only make six knots. That's a lot of ocean to cover at six knots!

Use of the brig

In many DE's the brig was used for an officer's quarters, since there wasn't quite enough room in "Officer's country". Apparently on the USS Wintle the brig got used for its intended purpose. An interesting side-effect is that people in the brig often ate very well. The idea was that they were given bread & water. In practice other crew members felt sorry for the person in the brig and brought them bits of food here and there, until they were eating very well indeed.

Now being able to consult the official Navy deck logs from the USS Wintle, I can see that the brig was used quite a number of times. Usually it was for sailors returning a day or more late from liberty. The punishment was typically five days in the brig with nothing but bread & water. Harsh!

the most famous time the USS Wintle brig was used was when a stabbing occurred. A dispute over gambling caused it. A sailor was caught palming a card by the (huge) radioman. The two fought on the chow table. The OD heard of the altercation in the mess, and ordered them to fight it out on the fantail, where such things were settled. While the two were walking up, this same crew member then used a palmed knife to stab the radioman, nicking his lung and kidney. The radioman was sent to a hospital, and the other crewman was put in the brig, then transferred to a stateside prison. I doubt he was brought much food by the other sailors.

PB&J sandwiches

Mr. Jacobs takes credit for a nice USS Wintle tradition. The bakers would be preparing the next day's bread every night during the midnight to 4am watch. Since they were up and had fresh bread handy, they would use the old bread to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for everyone on watch.

Another account points out that at sea, where the sailors had no place to spend their money, cash lost meaning. Food, however, was a very tangible currency, and the cooks had "a good thing going." In other words, not everyone on watch got sandwiches.

Movies shown on the fantail

I really want to collect the names of movies shown on the USS Wintle. So far I have the following: Harry James, Betty Grable, Bob Hope & Betty Langford, Abbott & Costello, Winter Wonderland -- The Andrew Sisters ("We must have watched that one three dozen times").


Luckily the USS Wintle crew never had to abandon ship. Apparently the store of "emergency rations" was repeatedly raided. Since they consisted of Cookies, cheese, ham & eggs, the temptation proved irresistible.

This story is clarified a bit, and loses a little of its color by some facts. The food in question is the "10-in-1 ration" store, kept under the #2 gun. They weren't really for emergencies, but to extend the cruise time of the ship.


Frank Wallace had an attack of appendicitis while on board. Since the USS Wintle had no doctor, he was sent via ropeline, while underway, over to a ship being escorted for medical attention.


In December of 1944 Typhoon Cobra hit the South Pacific. It was so severe that it actually sank three US destroyers and 146 planes were lost off carriers and other ships! During the typhoon, it was up to Ray Hackenberg on the USS Wintle to keep the two oil tanks balanced. The USS Wintle suffered minor damage from the typhoon. However the beating was incredible. Mr. Jacobs describes it: "The bow came up and up and it seemed like it wouldn't ever stop. Then it would come down, and crash against the sea like a hammer on an anvil." The destroyer escort Robert F. Keller measured 72 degrees of roll at the worst of it!


DE's, and Evarts-class ones in particular, have a reputation for pitching a great deal, since their beam was so narrow. But they also heave so much that the #1 gun is seldom manned, since it's so often under water! This ship type is not for the weak of stomach. Apparently the USS Wintle sailors got used to it eventually. Except for Ralph Sweeny. "You could look down the lifeline of the ship at any time of the day and see him hanging over it. Ralph single-handedly fed a LOT of fish."

USS North Carolina "shore duty"

Once the USS Wintle came alongside the USS North Carolina -- a battleship (now on display in NC!). The crew of the little USS Wintle, pitching and heaving as per usual, and even moreso due to the giant ships wake, noticed the crew of the USS North Carolina strolling easily on the huge ship's deck. This caused a general question to be shouted to the USS North Carolina crew -- "How do you like shore duty?!"

The "natives"

The USS Wintle was based out of a number of ports that had, previous to Japanese occupation, seen few or no "white people." Apparently they quickly learned that their shells were collectibles to the US Navy men, and would come alongside and trade them for food and other items. Communication was accomplished by hand gestures.

According to Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton, the natives of Fiji made a drink that they sold to the sailors, called a "Butterfly". One of the primary intoxicating spirits of the beverage was AvGas (aviation fuel). After partaking of these drinks, crews had to be carried back to their ships, completely dead-weight. Drunken bodies were piled like chords of wood. The USS Wintle Chief Bosunsmate had to be brought aboard on a cargo net.


For a few days the USS Wintle carried three captured Japanese prisoners of war. More details as I get them.

Shelling of Wotje

According to Mr. Jacobs, the USS Wintle was not searching for a midget sub (as the DANFS claims) when attacked by Wotje. She was actively shelling a reported Japanese shore battery. The crew urged the captain to get closer and closer. Then the shore batteries opened fire. Shells hit very close to the little ship. W G Bishop had been barefoot and shell bounced 10-15 feet from him in the water. He ran to a hatch and yelled for his shoes. The response? Get you own damn shoes!

Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton gives another account of the "bounce". The shore batteries "bracketed" the USS Wintle with ranging fire, but were unable to depress their guns enough to be accurate, since the ship was too close to the shore. The guns being so close to horizontal, the shells fired actually "skipped" on the water surface right near the ship.

Another story from the same incident recounts the actions of Commander Adams (USNR) that was aboard the USS Wintle at the time. Adams was a pompous and bizarrely "colorful" character, and not well regarded (an "SOB"). He had a "captain's chair" welded to the flying bridge of the ship, and strutted around it in British walking shorts and pink socks, despite, hypocritically, being a stickler for dress-code amongst the men. He was fond of bringing nurses to visit the USS Wintle in his personal skimmer (fast launch). After the Wintle retreated from the huge shore-based guns at Wotje, Commander Adams wanted to go back in. The captain refused to re-approach the large weapons, since the Wintle had puny 3" guns, not suitable for the task. Adams retort to the skipper, "Captain, you don't know the power of your own ship." Luckily the captain knew the limitations of his small sub-hunting escort vessel, and did not want to pretend that it was a battleship suitable for a duel with 8" shore guns. Since there were no lives in jeopardy if the Wintle let a bigger (armored) ship do the job, and over 100 at risk if it did, he was wise to let Commander Adams try to "die in glorious battle" another day.

Torpedeo near miss

According to the XO (no name yet), who has attended all but the last reunion, at one time a torpedo passed under the shallow-draft USS Wintle. This is certainly possible, as DE's were one of the shallowest ships in the navy. This is why so many were converted to APD's (invasion craft) and invasion command ships. What is also interesting is that the DE's were widely considered "expendable". That's one of the primary tasks of an escort "screen". You protect a freighter or a carrier by getting in the way of a torpedo, like a secret service officer taking a bullet for the president. Unfortunately no one ever told the sailors this. Apparently just this year most of the USS Wintle heard of their role for the first time. They were quite surprised. A sub hunter/killer group consists of DE's and "CVE" escort carriers ("jeep carriers" or "baby flattops") The "E" in CVE and DE was joked to stand for "expendable".

The first visit to Pearl Harbor

According to Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton, when USS Wintle steamed into Pearl Harbor for the first time, in October, 1943, they were still cleaning up the mess. The masts of Battleship Row were still visible standing out of the water, and pumps were constantly running, in the (successful) effort to refloat the sunken BB's.

Nearby carrier kamakaze'd while our crew watches movie

According to Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton, when USS Wintle was at anchor at Ulithi Atoll, the crew was on the fantail watching a movie. Off in the distance they saw and heard and explosion. The TBS (short-range radio) was suddenly busy with the chatter of the nearby escort-carrier USS Randolph under Kamikaze attack. The Wintle crew observed explosions as the Randolph took a direct hit in an ammunition magazine. A second Kamikaze mistook a small island for another carrier according to Quenton Tregeagle (aboard USS Oscelot, IX110), and a third was driven off by anti-aircraft fire. Decades later the repaired USS Randolph went on to recover John Glen from his famous orbit of Earth.

St Elmos Fire

According to Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton, while at sea one night there was severe St. Elmos Fire. The glow was on the crew's fingertips and noses. Then there was a thunderclap and the glow was gone.

Lightning hits geysers

According to Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton, while at sea, even on a clear day, lightning could strike the geysers from depth charge explosions. While this may seem odd, realize that hundreds of miles could be between islands, with no tall object for lightning to discharge to. A water geyser would be an awfully attractive conductor.

Showering in a squall

According to Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton, while at sea fresh water was a pretty precious commodity. When a squall was spotted on the horizon, some crew members would lather up, and the ship would head towards the squall. Once under, the crew could rinse off in the storm. This usually worked well, but sometimes the storm would be smaller than anticipated. Rinsing in salt water is reported to be very unpleasant.

Tokyo Rose and WAVES

Since the USS Wintle served with many fewer liberty stops than most ships, the men seldom even heard the voice of a woman. According to Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton, "Tokyo Rose" broadcasts were welcome entertainment, the sailors imagining some exotic Japanese woman in the "Geisha" tradition. Also welcome "entertainment" were the distant overheard radio instructions of WAVE air traffic controllers. At night the broadcasts of voices of the womens' air controllers talking down planes would "bounce" over the long distances of the Pacific Ocean, well beyond their intended range.


Stories of liberty are, of course, notorious. In particular the JeepNapping story is infamous. Dusty Rhodes, famous as a funny character, stole a Marine Corps Jeep in Pearl Harbor. He painted the vehicle meticulously in Navy grey, covering over the Marine green. Since so many Jeeps were stolen, the Marines were quite thorough in looking for them. Dusty was thorough enough to file the serial numbers off all the parts, even the engine. Unfortunately, he never thought to remove the lot codes off the tires. He was caught and disciplined. Oddly JeepNapping is not considered a very serious crime, and the punishment was light.

Ulithi was one of the largest Navy bases in the world, and a secret one at that. The Atoll had beaches designated as Beer Gardens. One beach convenience was that pipes were driven into the sand and funnels attached at the top. Sailors could stand at the funnels and urinate without having to leave the beach, or even stop drinking. Drunken brawls while re-boarding the ship were quelled with firehoses.

Kicking back

According to Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton, at least two sailors found imaginative ways to relax while at sea. Carpenter's Mate DeCarlo was a very funny guy. His post was a compartment that included a bench for woodworking. He found it was actually a handy place to sleep too, as long as he braced his ankles in the bench vise first!

Another USS Wintle sailor, who ran the SA (Surface to Air) Radar, found that he could turn the SA handle with his feet and kick back in his chair while scanning the skies for aircraft. The SA antenna is the giant "bedspring" device at the top of the USS Wintle's mast. While the SL (Surface to surface) Radar turned constantly, the SA antenna needed to be manually aimed.


It was so hot and the South Pacific sun so brutal on some days that the ammo storage magazines on the USS Wintle had to be sprayed down with water to keep them from exploding. Sonar Chief Arthur Clifton recalls that his bathothermometer readings showed the water temperature to be 90F degrees!

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