Personal History and Log of USS BAKER DE 290
13 August 1943;
Sworn in at New Haven, CT. Recruiting Office. General written test was taken by all in attendance for that appointed time.
20 August 1943;
Train to Newport, R.I. Boot Camp, from Bridgeport, Conn. Begin boot camp training - U.S.N.T.S. Company 990.
13 October 1943;
Boot camp completed - orders to Norfolk, VA. Advance school, basic radio/radar repair/operate.
Nine day leave at this time with strict instructions not to dare mention the word "radar" again. Orders to report to Norfolk, VA Navy Operating Base. (NOB). A strong reprimand by the company petty officer on the use of the word 'radar'.
21 October 1943;
Reported to Norfolk N.O.B. (receiving station).
25 October 1943;
Reported to Radio/ Radar Operators School (2 week course) at Little Creek, VA. First week involved building a radio from 'scratch'. We were given some flat pieces of metal, wire sockets, and tubes. The radio had to be operable and with efficient trouble shooting pass the course. Failing this course returned the individual rapidly to sea duty. Having passed this section you continued on to the Hotel Chevalier, Virginia Beach, VA., for radar training and C.I.C (Combat Information Center).
13 November 1943;
C.I.C. school (Combat Information Center 2 weeks). Operate radar sets, plotting with charts, 5 days practical operation aboard older Presidential yacht (Potomac, burned in 1945). Little Creek Branch School, Section Base Branch # 6, Little Creek, VA.
Graduation awarded the Radarman 3rd Class rate (RDM3/C). Landing craft and landing forces were training a short distance from our base, very loud.
All radar personnel were immediately assigned to ships, mainly Destroyer Escorts. They went through the roster alphabetically to assign individuals to the waiting to be commissioned DE's.
30 November 1943;
Transferred to Quarantined - Unit X Bldg 66-3, NTS DE 190 Group Norfolk, VA. As the crew names were formulated in order, the individuals, with their specific rate, were sent to this barrack making up the ship's compliment.
The quarantine lasted for four days and began to create many claustrophobic symptoms. There was nowhere to go except within and the immediate area outside the barracks. Many card games with those that enjoyed playing cards.
Mailing address was issued: USS Baker DE 190 C/O Fleet Post Office, New York.
22 December 1943;
Crew was shipped from barracks by train to Brooklyn, N.Y. Reported aboard USS Baker DE 190 in Brooklyn Navy Yard, N.Y. with crew directly from quarantined barracks in Norfolk, VA. Home port designated was Brooklyn, New York.
23 December 1943;
Commissioned USS Baker DE 190 in Brooklyn, New York Navy Yard. Named for Aviator Ensign John Drayton Baker, USNR, who lost his life in the battle of the Coral Sea.
Ensign Baker was born in Plainfield, New Jersey 31 May 1915. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1941 and was appointed Naval Aviator 26 August 1941 and commissioned Ensign 18 September 1941. Ensign Baker was reported missing in action 7 May and officially declared dead 8 May 1943. He received the Navy Cross.
The Baker 190 was built by the Federal Ship Building and Drydock Company, Kearney, NJ. Displacement 1240 tons; length 306' ; beam 36'10" ; draft 11' 8"; 3 3" ;triple torpedo tubes; one 40 mm twin gun ; 8 - 20 mm guns ; 2 depth charge racks ; 8" K gun projectors. Compliment 15 officers with 201 men. Actually had as many as 212 men with some sleeping in hammocks in the forward compartment. Average cost of the Cannon Class was $3,500,000. The Baker 190 was launched 18 November 1943 and (commissioned) sponsored by Mrs Margaret Baker, mother of Ensign Baker, 23 December 1943.
Captain - Lt. Cmdr. L. B. Lockwood (Greenwich, Conn)
2 January 1944;
Started daily trial runs in Long Island Sound. Quite a thrill to see the towns and cities I grew up in from a different vantage point.
9 January 1944;
Started for Bermuda and 'shake down', scheduled 4 weeks. One day liberty in Bermuda. Good length of time to familiarize ourselves with the operation of equipment while getting to know each other.
7 February 1944;
Back in Brooklyn Navy Yard, from Bermuda and shake down.
13 February 1944;
We missed our scheduled operation to rendezvous with Task Group 21.16 with the Carrier USS Block Island CVE 21 and DE's Bronstein 189, Thomas 102, Bostwick 103, Breeman 104, and the destroyer Corry DD 463.
We joined convoy, UGS -33, as part of the destroyer screen, Escort Div 48. The other DEs were all Coast Guard manned and part of CortDiv 45 (Escort Division) under Taffey 60 (Task Force) and the New York section. Coast Guard DEs; USS Vance DE 387; USS Lansing DE 388; USS Durant DE 389; USS Calcaterra DE 390; USS Chambers DE 391; USS Merrill DE 392.
The Flag of Commodore E. J. Roland (USCG) was on the USS Vance DE 387. Off Norfolk the remainder of the convoy plus another division under Taffey 66 joined together to proceed across the Atlantic.
2 March 1944;
Arrived at Gibraltar where English ships took over the protection screen and continuation into the Mediterranean. Our division then turned South headed for Casablanca for fuel and provisions. Due to the fear of failure of the evaporators (making fresh water) and the severe weather, we were restricted from use of water being allowed one ' bucket bath ' in the three weeks it took to get to Casablanca. The Captain thought we were not experienced enough to handle any emergency associated with the evaporators.
7 March 1944;
Liberty in Casablanca.
It was also suspected that landing parties were being put ashore in that area. The raid, made within the range of shore batteries, went off without mishap and the trip home followed.
8 March 1944;
Rendezvous with the convoy GUS-32 at Gibraltar homeward bound. Ninety-six ships were picked up at Gibraltar and delivered to U.S. East Coast Ports.
20 March 1944:
The USS Bronstein DE 189, who with USS Breeman DE 104, were in Dakar loaded with 15 tons of gold ($68,000,000) from the Bank of Poland arrived in New York April 3, 1944. The Bronstein now joined our CortDiv 48.
24 March 1944;
Back in Brooklyn, New York. 72 hours leave, Sister's Birthday. Part of the convoy escorted by Escort Div 45 went on to Chesapeake Bay area.
On the way into Brooklyn we were in a pea soup fog. In the New York channel passing Ambrose Light Ship we (the radar men), were calling out the location and distance of the buoys.
The officers on the bridge confirmed our statements, but seemingly ignored the findings.
Suddenly we were on a collision course with a freighter impossible to see excespt through radar. Captain Lockwood appeared in the radar shack questioning how we knew such specific details. Based on what he saw on the radar screen he ordered hard rudder and avoided the collision. We (ships) were close enough to each other to hear the verbal barage to 'stay out of the way or get run over' by the merchant seaman.
Needless to say the radar information was immediately recognized to be valid. The details up to this point were not recognized. The radar did guide us into and through the long channel and on safely into the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
In time, the accuracy and details were further proven when the surface radar was able to detect a group of low flying birds.
4 April 1944;
In Casco Bay, Portland, Maine. Had day liberty.
13 April 1944;
Second convoy, Task Force 60, assembled in Hampton Roads (Bay off Norfolk and Chesapeake Bay) began trip to North Africa and into the Mediterranean.
Along the way we dropped off merchant ships at varying ports along the coast of North Africa. This was convoy UGS-39 Eastbound. We were on extra precaution since convoy ahead of us ran into some strafing attacks from German aircraft.
Captain suggested sleeping at battle stations since it was not very cold.
20 April 1944:
Convoy UGS-38 was attacked off the coast of Algiers by 21 JU 88's and HE 111's.
During this action the USS Lansdale (a destroyer) and USS Paul Hamilton, a troop ship with 500 soldiers, were sunk and three other merchant ships torpedoed.
30 April 1944;
Escorted ship into harbor of Oran and one into Mars El Kabur. On the way in the Mediterranean we passed a Greek Navy Destroyer. Being off the duty watch Captain Hoffman paged me to the bridge, questioning if I could speak and understand the Greek Language.
I answered in the affirmative and was asked to stand by until the Greek Ship passed by.
We were at attention type postures while the Greeks were seated on their haunches, against the bulk head, smoking, and gazing at us as we continued onward. There was no contact or recognition.
1 May 1944;
Escorted ship into Algiers.
2 May 1944:
Escorted into Bone and Carbone harbors.
3 May 1944;
Tied up at South Carriere, Goulet Du-Lac, Bizerte, Tunisia.
4 May 1944;
Liberty in Bizerte. Many Italian prisoners who were wearing Army sun tans with no insignia. Most happy prisoners. Multitudes of them. No fear of attempting escape.
7 May 1944;
Two day pass into Tunis. About 40 miles. Hitchhiked and had to ride open Airforce truck, carrying 5 gallon gas cans. Spent time with Italian prisoners. Invited to their camp (tent city) at the outskirts of town, Ferryville. Had some Italian wine. Food and bedding supplied for them by Red Cross. Red Cross supplied rooms for some limited U.S. Service Men along with small Italian imitation hotel in town.
11 May 1944;
Left Bizerte for the States. Task Force 60 Coast Guard Div 45 with the USCG Bibb 31 as the Flag Ship, USN Div 48, escorting convoy GUS - 39.
12 May 1944;
USS Bronstein DE 189 sank a mine with rifle fire.
14 May 1944;
Just North of Oran, Algeria a German Sub surfaced between the screen of Destroyer Escorts and the merchant ships. (That is within the screen. The sonar and radar men had to be asleep to miss that one)
The sub was close enough that the large guns could not be depressed enough for use against the sub. Our men were firing hand guns and machine guns at the sub. Two merchant ships were torpedoed, the S.S. Waiden and S.S. Fort Fidler. Our position in the convoy was to the rear on the port side.
As the merchant ships were empty they closed off their compartments and survived into port, Oran. A request by our Captain Lockwood to the Bibb to at least drop an 'embarrassing charge' by all the surrounding DEs, was considered and confirmed. Aircraft and other vessels were called to the scene to search out the sub but it was it was not confirmed whether the sub was sunk. Division 19, a Destroyer Division was sent out to search for the submarine.
18 May 1944:
A cargo ship was sunk by German torpedo in the Mediterranean. The last sinking in that body of water by a Nazi Submarine.
30 May 1944;
Back in Brooklyn Navy Yard.
5 June 1944;
Began 5 day leave. Also Mother's birthday.
10 June 1944;
Left Brooklyn for Casco Bay, Portland,Maine.
12 June 1944:
Arrived in Casco Bay with other DEs and gunnery drills.
18 June 1944;
Left Portland, Maine, training and availability. Bound for Norfolk, VA
22 June 1944;
Arrived in Norfolk, Virginia.
25 June 1944;
Left Norfolk, VA assigned to USS Card Aircraft Carrier CVE 11. CVE- 11, a converted aircraft carrier, with other DEs of Escort Division 48, Task Group 22.10, operating as the screen seeking U-boats. The group included the Bronstein 189, Baker 190, Coffman 191, Thomas 102, Bostwick 103 and Breeman 104. The area of search stretched to Hamilton, Bermuda; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Horta, Azores and Reykajavic, Iceland.
5 July 1944;
The USS Baker was in position two miles on the port beam of the USS Card CVE 11. At seven minutes after seven in the evening the USS Baker made sound contact with underwater sound equipment (sonar) and fired off a pattern of depth charges.
At the same time two depth charge attacks were delivered. At 19:31 hours U-233, a 1600 ton minelayer refueler type U-boat, one of Germany's largest, broke the surface with her after torpedo room and after engine room ripped open and flooded. (This was the sister ship of the U-234 which surrendered at Portsmouth, New Hampshire shortly after V-E Day with Luftwaffe generals and Jap Hara Kari victims aboard). Lat. 42 39'N and Long. 58 47'W;1907 - Upon receiving sound contact bearing 135 T distance 100 yards - Streamed Foxer gear - Sounded General Quarters - commenced making runs on sound contact.
1907 - Upon receiving sound contact bearing 135T distance 100 yrds - Streamed Foxer Gear - sounded general quarters - commenced making runs on sound contact. Lat 42 39' and Long. 58 47'W.
1912 - Dropped one full pattern depth charges and fired K Guns.
1916 - Y gun gear temporarily out of order. Jarred by explosions of depth charges. Later found that too much grease had been applied.
1918 - Circled and headed towards contact and dropped another full pattern of depth charges and fired K Guns.
1925 - Upon surfacing of the German Submarine on the Starboard Quarter, USS Baker opened fire with all batteries, expending a massive array of ammunition into the submarine with indications of positive and damaging hits. The Baker rode back and forth turning so each side of the ship would be able to fire their guns. This also allowed a short period of time for cooling of guns. Our youngest sailor on the 20mm gun on the stern fired single and short bursts keeping his gun the coolest.
The Submarine had lost steerage way while a continuous stream of fire was directed towards her conning tower. At this point her crew began abandoning their submarine. There were a few attempts of the German Sailors to use their forward three inch gun. At least one was killed with a direct hit from our 20 mm gun fire.
Two torpedoes were fired and driven into the submarine's hull but did not explode since more time and distance was needed to arm the timing mechanism.
At this point the submarine burst into flames and continued smoldering, leaving a black, brown smoke.
My battle station was to man the phones transmitting communications from the Captain to the other ships in the division. Captain Hoffman wished to inform the Commodore, whose flag was aboard the USS Thomas DE 102, that we were going to capture the submarine. Lt. Floyd Wilsford tried to get Captain Hoffman to ram the sub.
A voice from the Commodore instructed that his order was to refrain from any ramming of the submarine. It was his intention also to bring the submarine into port as a prize catch. At this time the USS Thomas was five miles from the scene, steaming towards the scene.
This message was relayed to our Captain Hoffman. The USS Baker returned to picking up survivors from the water. The submarine, meantime was in flames,slowly sinking into the water. The USS Thomas on her full steam approach announced to the other ships that she was going to ram the submarine.
She continued on her course towards the submarine but literally went over the edge of the deck of the submarine ripping open the bottom of the USS Thomas.
The submarine had sunk too far into the waters to be capable of any degree of ramming. It seems the Commodore was surprised at this aspect and later said Captain Kellog was correct in what he did. Captain Kellog of the USS Thomas went 'all back full' jast as he was about to ram - thus not getting too hung up to any degree.
1942 - Both ships resumed and continued picking up and rescuing survivors. A total of 69 survivors were rescued. All firing was now ceased.
1945 - The submarine, bright with flame and sending a continuous flow of smoke into the air; battered, wrecked, and beaten from the accuracy of the crews gunfire; leaving debris, oil , and part of her hull and conning tower drifting, was sunk. The Baker 190 rescued ten prisoners, two officers and eight enlisted men; their Captain, suffering from wounds and exposure.
Captain Hoffman piped over the loudspeaker ' fair treatment for the prisoners, with immediate medical care as needed; according to the rules of Geneva Conference. (Seeing those men in the water seemed to impress those of us on the stern helping them aboard as to how ' young ' they looked. They were about our age).
2020 - Proceeded at standard speed on course 225 T - 225 1/2 P.G.C. 255 P.S.C. towards USS Card to discharge prisoners.
2117 - Drew alongside USS Card and took lines over from the carrier and rigged breeches buoy and established communication.
2121 - First prisoner transferred to USS Card.
2139 - Completed transfer of prisoners to carrier. The two officers on board were not transferred due to severe enough injuries. Cut off all lines of USS Card; proceeded at full speed to take position on starboard side of guide. Took course 050 T --050 1/2 P.G.C. 071 P.S.C. --TO K & S.
2225 - Changed course B/C to 180 T - 180 1/2 P.G.C.,- 207 P.S.C. took station bearing 315 Rel from guide - distance 3000 yds, speed 8 K & S.
2214 - position 42 39' N 58 47' W;Sunset - darkened weather decks.
NOTE - Submarine sank about 105 miles South East of Sable Island.(due east from Boston 150 miles)
Resume of Activities With Submarine:
For fourteen minutes U-233 was engulfed in a hail of flying lead, depth charges set shallow, and torpedoes, but these latter had too short a run to allow detonation.
The U-233 never got off a shot. Her crew abandoned the ship by two's and three's as their boat, down by the stern and with the conning tower on fire, continued to take it.
The war was over for 61 Germans, 31 of whom were captured, including the skipper, Oberlieutenant Hans Stein, who died the following day from shrapnel wounds.
A personal interview with Lt(jg) Howard D. Edwards (Later promoted to Captain of the Baker 190) revealed that we had two types of depth charges aboard. The older type had adjustable settings to detonate at various predetermined depths. The newer depth charges were detonated at pressure and physical contact with the object.
7 July 1944;
Steaming full speed to Boston, MA, to deliver prisoners; dry dock the Thomas 102 for repairs; and five day R & R. WE RAMMED A WHALE bending the 'sound dome' (which should have been raised under conditions of speed).
The forward compartment into which the sound dome is usually retracted was filling with water since the bent shaft of the sound dome could not be retracted. The compartment was sealed off and water tight.
10 July 1944;
In Boston orders were changed; sound dome shaft was repaired; the commodore shifted his flag to our ship the USS Baker since the repairs to the USS Thomas 102 would be longer than expected. We were off to the Caribbean, with the Carrier, still on search duty.
4 July 1944;
Passing through Mona Passage, Puerto Rico.
16 July 1944;
Submarine contact by carrier based airplane had to be aborted due to USS Card's engine casualty and dead in the water for about six hours.
One of our duties during take off and landing of the aircraft was to lie back 2,000 yards (to the rear of the carrier) and starboard side of the carrier. Our duty was to steam to retrieve the pilot from any air craft that went over the side. The average time afloat of the air craft was 30 to 40 seconds. The longest one we recorded was 90 seconds.
18 July 1944;
Entering San Juan, Puerto Rico.
24 July 1944;
Left Puerto Rico heading North East in the Atlantic.
16 August 1944;
In Horta, Azores for fuel. Few hours ashore near the pier.
17 August 1944;
24 August 1944;
In New York Harbor- channel-degaussing. Testing of men from the fleet for attending V-12 officers training program. Our division had one opening. It boiled down to two individuals. One of them was myself. I was sent to the other DE. It was said we were about on par for the pick and no one wished to make that choice and decision. THE OTHER SAILOR AND I DECIDED WE WOULD TOSS A COIN. He won the toss to officers candidate school. On to Brooklyn Navy Yard for upkeep repairs.
8 September 1944;
Left New York for open spaces.
10 September 1944;
In Portland, Maine, Casco Bay, availability.
14 September 1944;
Left Portland 2300 hours due to impending Hurricane, heading South. Barometric reading was 28.53, the ship recorded a roll of 62 degrees, we were off the coast of Long Island, New York about 0100 hours listening to the damage ashore in Connecticut. (I was on duty).
During this time the small selzen motor that operates the rotor in the radar antenna on the mast stopped working. We were going to draw straws for the task but Donald "Pappy" Bryant, our electronic expert (and about 40 years old) decided he would be the one. Claimed it was too dangerous for 'us' young ones. I still do not know how he could have made it up the mast and back.
I also don't know how we would have made out without radar while expected to travel in formation during a storm. Also heard on the radio during this time that one destroyer was sunk in the storm off the coast of Norfolk attempting to make it into the Chesapeake Bay. One of the ships was the Destroyer Warrington 383.
Included in the rescue attempt were the USS Hyades #28, a reefer supply ship, two ATR #9 and #62; DEs USS Frost 144, USS Huse 145, USS Inch 146, USS Swasey 248, USS Snowdon 246, USS Woodson 359 and USS Johnnie Hutchins 360. Five officers and 68 enlisted men were rescued.
16 September 1944;
Arrived in Norfolk, Virginia - extreme weariness and fatigue.
18 September 1944;
Left Norfolk, headed South for Bermuda to conduct exercises with Escort Div 48, USS Card, planes, and friendly submarines. Practice depth charges dislodged paint bucket behind circuit board shorting all electrical power for a few minutes.
20 September 1944;
In Bermuda waters. Rough waters during the calm weather. (Due to the reefs?) To operate with friendly sub.
25 September 1944;
The Breeman suffered engine problems and headed for safe harbor.
25 September 1944;
Left Bermuda heading Eastward. Heading Eastward and Northward off the coasts of Spain, Portugal, down to North Africa.
15 October 1944;
Terrific gale force storm. Felt worse than the hurricane. Broke off our Starboard Fin. Very eirre feel in different roll of ship to the Starboard.
25 October 1944;
In Casablanca. Incident of having to use hoses on natives to get to lines to prepare for departure.
26 October 1944;
Left Casablanca headed to New York via Southern route.
13 November 1944;
In Brooklyn Navy Yard, NY.
15 November 1944:
Left Brooklyn Navy Yard for Bermuda. Spent more than one month in training and search for expected Nazi submarine push.
16 November 1944;
Started 22 day leave along with delayed orders to alter travel. Transferred to train in advanced radar repair procedures. Still attached to ship's roster.
LOCATION OF USS BAKER FROM NOVEMBER 16, 1944 THROUGH APRIL 6, 1945 WHILE I WAS OFF THE SHIP;
20 November 1944:
Left Brooklyn Navy Yard for Casco Bay. Rough seas.
22 November 1944:
Arrived in Portland - Caso Bay.
23 November 1944:
24 November 1944:
Left Portland enroute to Norfolk.
26 November 1944:
Arrived in Norfolk.
30 November 1944:
Enroute to Bermuda for A.S.W. training with CTG 22.2 ComCort Div 48.
2 December 1944:
In Bermuda area. Day of Army-Navy Football Game. Army 22-Navy 7.
4 December 1944:
Operations between DE 103 and DE 190 - Frank F. Foxie Fry volunteered to ride the breeches buoy to the 103 and back. During this time the other DEs operated with the Carrier Card CVE tracking a friendly sub.
31 December 1944;
New Year's Eve arrived in New York after two day passage from Bermuda. A party was enjoyed including the celebration of the one year anniversary of the Baker DE 190 commissioning.
4 January 1945;
One section of Escort Division 48 including the Bronstein went to Casco Bay for training. Curtailed due to bad weather.
5 January 1945:
Arrived in Rhode Island.
8 January 1945:
Left Newport, RI with USS Thomas DE 102 and carrier for exercises.
9 January 1945:
USS Bostwick DE 103 joined the group.
11 January 1945;
With USS Card off Nantucket Island and pilot qualification flights.
11 January 1945:
USS Breeman DE 104, USS Bronstein DE 189 and USS Coffman DE 191 joined the group ComCort 48.
USS Thomas DE 102, USS Bostwick DE 103 and USS Baker DE 190 were ordered to proceed to Casco Bay.
13 January 1945:
At 0100 were ordered to proceed back to Newport, RI to operate with Carrier CVE 31 USS Prince William. Two DDs joined the group to carry out flight operations.
21 January 1945:
Left USS Prince William to join with ComCort 48 and Carrier USS Card. USS Card and DEs Breeman 104 and Coffman 191 left for Norfolk. ComCort 48 left enroute for New York.
22 January 1945;
Back in Navy Yard, N.Y.
30 January 1945:
Departed New York for Norfolk.
4 February 1945;
Baker 190 and Bronstein 189 escorted USS Card from Delaware Capes to Norfolk.
6 February 1945:
Completed duty with Task Group 22.2 and on to Norfolk, tied up to Convoy Escort pier 21.
7 February 1945:
Pulled out into bay for calibration. Returned to pier 21 same day.
8 February 1945;
Escort Div 48 left Norfolk with carrier USS Bogue, where she was left at the Ambrose Light Ship, while the DE's continued to Casco Bay.
11 February 1945:
Arrived Casco Bay. 10:00 hours standing by to carry out Div 48 orders. Left Casco Bay at 12:30 bound for area of operation.
16 February 1945:
Met with CortDiv 48 Task Group 22.21 and ComCortDiv 7 Task Group 22.4, USS Core CVE 15 and total of 12 DEs.
18 February 1945:
The Baker and other DEs of Escort Div 48, operating with the Carrier USS Core CVE 13, Task Unit 22.21, screened the North Atlantic.
The group encountered one of the worst storms off the coast of Iceland. The winds were of hurricane force and in this region are known as 'Iceland Loaf' known for their severity. The wind velocity was up to 95 knots with 35 foot waves pounding the DEs. Rolls of 70 degrees were recorded on several of the vessels. Before it was over the Baker had sustained heavy, but not critical damage.
Twelve 'Y' frames forward on the portside were sprung from main deck level to the first platform. One expansion joint was cracked and both were leaking. Stanchions and life lines on both port and starboard sides were swept away.
The depth charge racks were bent and the sound gear smashed, but the ship rode it out and limped into Reytkajavik where minor repairs were made prior to yard overhaul in the States.
The DEs in the unit were USS Thomas 102; USS Bostwick 103; USS Breeman 104; USS Bronstein 189; USS Baker 190 and USS Coffman 191. A sad incident of the storm was the loss, overboard, of one of the sailors aboard the U.S.S. Coffman 191. After the storm the seas were still quite treacherous. While on watch the sailor was returning with a pot of coffee from the galley. The search for him was unsuccessful.
There were a total of 12 DEs stretched across an area over 90 miles long looking for a weather reporting German submarine just south of Iceland. The storm was on February 20.
The USS Core, the Carrier, reported the winds at 116 knots at which point the anemometer blew away. The carrier was also ordered back to New York while the DEs were on orders to remain on station. CortDiv 48 was detached from Task Group 22.4 into Argentia to refuel.
The ships formed a North-South barrier designated Operation 'Teardrop', one of the largest hunter-killer forces assembled. Their duty was to intercept super-Schnorkels (Group SEEWOLF) which were proceeding across the Atlantic to invade America's Eastern Sea Frontier. Five of the known six submarines were sunk and the sixth surrendered shortly thereafter.
23 February 1945:
Low on fuel - headed for Iceland to refuel. Ship covered with thick ice. Bad Storm. Forward head portside gave in after taking a blow from a large swell. Head had to be secured for shoring.
25 February 1945:
Steaming for Reykjavik, Iceland.
7 March 1945:
Underway with ComCortDiv 48 to join TG 22.13. Met with 4 ships of TG 22.13 at position 47N 37W. DEs were USS Carter DE 112, USS Clarence L. Evans DE 113, USS Oswald DE 767, USS Neal A. Scott DE 769, USS Muir DE 770 and USS Sutton DE 771.
13 March 1945:
Headed for Argentia, Newfoundland for fuel. Position 43 09'N 47 57'W. Along side of USS Thomas DE 102 to pass mail and pick up Dr. Maggied. Div 48 departed from TG 22.13 headed for the States.
16 March 1945:
Expected in Brooklyn Navy Yard.
23 March 1945:
Underway from Brooklyn to calibrate HFDF.
24 March 1945:
Arrived in New London, CT.
25 March 1945:
Underway with USS Bronstein DE 189 and two subs for exercises. Returned to New London and anchored in bay.
28 March 1945:
Operating with friendly subs.
31 March 1945;
Graduated from Fleet Service School. We were informed that we would be returning to our prior ship unless we were not desired by that ship.
1 April 1945;
Arrived at Pier #92 in New York City.
4 April 1945;
Left Pier #92 by train for New London where the USS Baker had gone. Reported aboard the Baker that day with extreme happiness and contentment to be back 'home'. Many DEs tied up abreast of each other.
12 April 1945:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt died at 03:09 in Warm Springs, GA., while ship was in New London.
14 April 1945;
We headed out to sea in search of a submarine off the coast of Norfolk, VA. The search lasted for 22 day and included DEs; DDs; PCs; SCs; and Blimps. The search lasted through May 4, for the Baker. The remaining ships continued their search for this submarine. This U-boat got two merchant ships and damaged a third within sight of the Virginia Coast.
29-30 April 1945;
The Division was split into two groups. Three DE's worked North of the Norfolk channel while the other three DE's worked South of the channel. Bronstein, Breeman and Baker were assigned to the Southern Group. The Northern Group made many attacks on a submarine that resulted in a 'B' assessment.
1 May 1945;
USS Wingfield DE 194 escorted a ship from convoy into Norfolk, which collided with another ship.
5 May 1945;
While at sea we were informed of the impending end of the war in Europe. Orders were immediately issued for radar personnel and hospital corpsmen, for they were badly needed in the Pacific Theater.
5 May 1945: ( cont )
We arrived in Brooklyn, NY whereby I was transferred from the USS Baker DE 190 with orders to Fargo Building, Boston, Mass.
Although I was not on board at the following time, I continue the history of the ship:
From May 1945 until October 1945 Baker 190 operated out of Quanset Point, RI, as a plane guard during carrier qualifications.
12 May 1945:
USS Bronstein DE 189 and USS Breeman DE 104 escorting USS Card CVE 31. Card lost one pilot and two airplanes overboard.
21 May 1945:
In Melville, RI, to refuel, then on to Quanset, RI, a large Naval Base. Div 48 detached from CTG 22.21. USS Card left for Norfolk.
25 May 1945:
USS Croton CVE 25 pulled in to join Div 48 for flight operations.
22 June 1945:
Good leave for officers and crew.
25 June 1945:
Bad storm up and down the coast. Operations cancelled.
13 July 1945:
Into Melville, RI to refuel. All leaves cancelled until new skipper arrives. Fox, J. N.; Fraley, A.; Fry, F.; several other men boarded a truck for a ride to the gate on liberty. The driver made a sharp turn at a fast rate of speed throwing Fox, J. N. off the truck. He suffered a fractured skull plus other injuries.
14 July 1945:
All leaves resumed.
28 July 1945:
Assigned mission with USS Bostwick DE 103, USS Clarence L. Evans DE 113 and CVE 25 for flight operations.
14 August 1945:
SURRENDER OF JAPAN - V-J DAY.
28 October 1945: NAVY DAY IN NEW YORK HARBOR:
Since the war was declared over, Frank F. 'Foxie' Fry, who offered the later day details, stopped recording the specific daily details of the Baker 190. Foxie was discharged November 1945 from Lido Beach, NY.
During November and part of December, Baker 190 escorted the captured German Submarine U-977 to various ports as part of the Victory Loan Bond Drive selling War Bonds. Some of the ports visited were Albany, NY; Lewis, DE and Richmond, VA.
USS Baker left Boston headed South on the way to Green Cove, FL.
4 March 1946:
USS Baker DE 190 was decommissioned in reserve at the famous Green Cove Bay, Jacksonville, Florida. The Captain was Lt(jg) Howard D. Edwards, Executive Officer Lt(jg) August E. Zipse.
29 March 1952:
USS Baker DE 190 was transferred to France under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.
USS Baker DE 190 was sunk in 1970.
As of October 1945, Baker 190 had traveled 100,500 miles since her commissioning on 23 December 1943.
USS Baker DE 190 received one battle star in the American Theater for her action with the detection and sinking of the German Submarine U-233. This battle occurred 150 miles off Boston, MA., South of Sable Island.
ADDITIONAL DETAILS BUT NO RECORD OF SPECIFIC DATES CONCERNING LIFE AND ACTIVITIES ABOARD THE USS BAKER DE 190:
After completion of two convoy trips Lt. Cmdr. Lockwood, Captain, was succeeded by Lt. Norman Hoffman as our new skipper. Lt. Fleming became our new Executive Officer.
Captain Hoffman was proud as being amongst the young skippers of any large vessel in the Atlantic Fleet, at age 33 yrs. He was also quite Gung-Ho in his actions.
While leaving the pier in Bayonne, NJ, he ordered '1/3rd ahead' on the engines before/while the lines were being 'let go'. We pulled part of the pier with us, though it was an old and rickety pier.
While pulling into Newport, Rhode Island with many other DEs we were ordered to tie up along side another DE due to dock space shortage. Since the current was in our favor the Captain ordered 'all engines stopped' while we coasted into position along side another DE. Needless to say it was too late for the propellers to take hold when the order for 'all engines astern full' was ordered. The two Captains got into a shouting match with the threat of fist-cufs offered by the other Captain.
While at sea we were to practice 'mail passing', as well as person transfer with the use of the breeches buoy. Boarding submarines was another practice exercise.
The submarine boarding exercise was to be carried out under 1/3rd speed. During this time the whale boat with thirty eight men and their periphenalia is slowly lowered with the stern supposedly hitting the water first as lowering is continued. Our Captain ordered 2/3rd speed without informing those in the whale boat activity. Our thirty eight men were dumped into the ocean. It took the better part of the day to retrieve all of the men.
The currents spread everyone out so rapidly except for those who immediately held hands to remain together. It was also a poor time to find that the CO2 canisters in the waist type life belts did not work to inflate the life belt. The large 'May West' life jackets worked quite well. Our whale boat was the last to be salvaged and was off in the horizon at least four miles from the ship. It was now easy to begin to understand the ocean currents. It was also a bad time to find some of the regular pre-war enlisted men did not know how to swim.
Another occasion we were to practice 'mail passing'. This procedures required the use of the 'breeches buoy' from the bow of one ship to the bow of the other ship. It did involve throwing a line with a weight to carry over a distance, that is then used to pull a heavier rope to involve the use of the breeches buoy. Meanwhile the two ships are close enough that care must be taken not to ram each other.
Our Captain was going to execute the boarding submarine and whale boat procedure along with the breeches buoy, in succession. These are two separate procedures. First we dropped off the whale boat with success. Then our Captain decided we could pull up close enough to the other DE to throw or hand them the mail.
It was a good idea, but he forgot to have the davits which stick out into space when the whale boat is not aboard ship. As we pulled along side the other DE our davits knocked out the stanchions supporting the other DE's 20mm gun tub on the Port side, collapsing the gun tub.
During the time of 'screening' the USS Card Carrier CVE 11 (as well as the other carriers) we often had the duty of 'plane guard'. The DE rode astern of the carrier and off to the starboard side prepared to pick up the pilot in case of being forced to ditch their plane if their landing pattern failure. The longest we ever counted the flotation of an airplane was about 90 seconds. The majority of planes sunk within 45 seconds. The TBF which held three crewman lasted the longest. I do not know why our ship was always picked to do the 'plane guard' duty. I'm glad we were chosen. It added another point of interest and prevention of boredom.
The carrier pilots were all qualified to take off in the dark. Only two pilots were qualified to take off and land in the dark. One of those pilots had the code name of 'Love'.
Time spent aboard the Baker was profitable in the learning process. Being bored with the amount of time off, duty watch time was spent reading the Blue Jackets Manual. I learned how to type with the aid and loan of a typewriter in the short wave radio shack.
I learned to be a helmsman (the steering wheel). There was always someone who wished time off from their duties. When not on 'liberty' it was even more boring. I learned to handle the whale boat, transferring men from the ship to shore and return. Most often we were not at a pier but anchored off shore.
I learned how to make a 'monkey's' fist and dressed the hand rails to the bridge.
It was the Dungaree Navy. Larger ships maintained work hours from 08:00 to 16:30 with dungarees as the uniform. At 16:30 hours the uniform was undress blues. This held whether on land base or at sea aboard ship. However, this did not apply to smaller vessels such as the DE. Due to lack of space for storage of clothes, dungarees (blue jeans for civilian talk) were the uniform at all times.
Shipboard life was very good under the circumstances. The ship's crew was incorporated on a starboard-port basis for liberty. One half of the ship was at liberty while one half remained aboard.
While at sea the crew was divided into three sections for standing watch. I was in section A for the watch. Section A was bunked in the forward most section of the ship.
The watches were set every four hours from 08:00 to 12:00, 12:00 to 16:00, 16:00 to 20:00, 20:00 to 24:00. At 07:00 someone relieved the watch for breakfeast and at 18:00 hrs someone relieved the watch long enough for dinner.
There was no allowance, whatever 'watch' you were on, for being in your bunk for sleep between the hours of 06:00 and 22:00 hours. Most all of the bunks folded up against the bulkhead.
At sea everyone had three duties. One was your daily watch duties, of which mine was the radar duties. Second, everyone had a battle station. Mine alternated between plotting targets and, or more often, manning the phones side by side with the Captain, repeating his instructions.
The third was your cleaning station. Mine was the small space outside the radar shack, captain's sea cabin and wheelhouse. There wasn't much there with the exception of the overhead wire cables.
There was never a dull moment aboard the USS Baker DE 190 but always a good home to a group of good individuals.
Officers and Crew
5 June 1944:
31 December 1944:
25 May 1945: came aboard
1 October 1945:
1 January 1946:
1 April 1946 to Decommission:
1 February 1946: reported aboard;
1 March 1946:
1 April 1946:
1 May 1946:
8 - 11 October 1995: REUNION
A fifty year reunion was held in Charleston, S.C., chaired by (Lt(jg)) Howard D. Edwards and his wife Tina. It was without a doubt a most memorable four days. In attendance:
Joseph B. Cusick RDM 3/C
Howard D. Edwards Lt.(jg)
Edward F. Fabryka RDM 3/C
Tom Finn QMCS
Constantine J. Forkiotis RDM 2/C
Arthur Forrestal Lt.(jg)
Frank F. Fry RDM 3/C
James J. Harrington Lt.(jg)
Burr Higgins Lt.(jg)
Donald Hoevels FM 1/C
Paul Martin EM 3/C
Robert McAllister QM 2/C
Harry Nelson Lt.(jg)
Henry B. Prickett Lt.
Lawrence A. Smith SOM 2/C
Floyd Wilsford Lt.
August Zipse Lt.(jg)
8 November 1995:
Chic Sanker died this morning in his home in Garden City,(Myrtle Beach) South Carolina.
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