World War II

The USS Hudson (DD475) 
I Reported for Duty

... We saw our share of action- survived

Bob Ross

Reported to Hudson
Really enjoyed the 30 days leave after the USS Edward Rutledge was sunk. Now I was going to a destroyer, a real fighting ship. I reported to the Boston Naval Shipyard, Charlestown, Mass where The USS Hudson (DD475) was being built, or completed. Found the ship and was sent to Building 39, next to the Marine Barracks. This is where the ship had set up shop. The ship's office and barracks were here.

The skipper was Captain William R. Smedberg III and Executive Officer was LCDR. Robert R. Pratt. The Hudson was newly commissioned and only a shell. Nothing in most of the work spaces. It is hard to try and remember everything going on at this time, but I do remember meeting my future wife during this time. She worked the night shift, and came to the cafeteria every night before going to work.

Although it was a newly-commissioned ship, we still had to operate like a part of the fleet. Service records had to be maintained by the Yeomen for the crew and all radio traffic logged in and filed. Every department worked constantly just like all other ships.

My boss, the Communications Officer, was LTJG Stanley E. Eisenberg, who later became the Executive Officer. Since we did not have any equipment, our radio guard was handled at the Communications Center in the Fargo Building.  We picked up our traffic every hour during the day by riding the shuttle bus. Our last pick-up was at 4pm. That's when Liberty commenced and the Captain was not available. Since we were not operational there was no important traffic addressed to us.

I met my future wife one night in the cafeteria. Angela Cimino. She was known as Lillian and called Lil. It took sometime before she would acknowledge that I had spoken to her. Once she accepted that I wasn't giving up, we got fairly friendly. I sat and talked with her and her friends many a night.

I finally got a date, took her to a movie, then home. Met her family, and we got along so, so. Her father and I got along real good. I would come to visit, bring a few quarts of beer and we drank, talked and I spent a lot of my time at her house.

Liberty in Boston was outstanding and I enjoyed it while waiting for the work to be completed on the ship. Finally things began to take shape. The crew moved aboard and we were ready to become part of the fleet.

Lil and I dated now and then and once the word was out we would be leaving, I told her. Prior to leaving I promised to write her and she promised to write me. Both of us kept our promises.

I have tried, unsuccessfully to remember and write everything myself. It's impossible to remember so I searched through my files and came up with the Official U.S. Navy History, as prepared by the Ships Section, Office of Public Information, Navy Department.  This is attached here.

Since the story about the USS Hudson was published in the Melrose Mirror in February 1999 and is now in the Remembering World War II section, I am linking it to this article in case you have not read it previously.

Click here to read the History of the USS HUDSON

As you can see from the history, the Hudson made the rounds. I will fill in some of the things I remember after we got underway.

After our shake-down cruise, designed to see if the ship could stay afloat, fire its guns, communicate with the fleet, etc, we headed for Panama, and through the Panama Canal. I think we went to San Diego, then headed for Pearl Harbor.

We trained, trained, trained. Fire drills, at General quarters tracking other ships or aircraft, improving our skills. Day and night this went on, but we became pretty good at doing our job. They say practice makes perfect. We practiced all the time.

When we crossed the equator on September 2, 1943, there was a big shindig. Those of us who had never crossed the equator were "Polliwogs". The senior Chief on the ship became King Neptune, ordered all persons who had never crossed the Equator to report to the fantail. He was dressed up and penalties were assigned. I had to carry a typewriter around taking messages from anyone who stopped me. A few days before the ceremony a slop-shoot was fabricated from a few sheets, and garbage from the messhall was put in it. You can imagine what it is like after a few days in HOT weather. After a day of harassment, King Neptune sat on his throne and tried each of us. Everyone, including the Officers, had to participate in this ceremony. Each of us had to make our way through the slop-shoot, get washed down, then get on our knees in front of King Neptune. He had a big bottle with something in it, with a nipple. We had to drink from the bottle, then were declared to be a Shellback.

This is a very important ceremony for all sailors. You get a large certificate, a small card to carry in your wallet and an entry is made in your service record.

Something similar takes place when you cross the International Date Line, but I don't remember much about that. That's when you lose a day.

We arrived at Pearl, enjoyed the liberty and joined the fleet in New Guinea. My brother was on the USS Cleveland (CL55) and was part of the task force the Hudson was in. We communicated by Flashing Light and Semaphore frequently.

We operated out of Tulagi in the Solomon Islands, making runs up and down the slot, the waterway between the islands. Other ships made the same runs regularly. This is where Captain (Now Admiral) Burke became known as "31 Knot Burke". His squadron participated in numerous battles, having several of the ships damaged. My memory fails me now, but I saw some of the ships coming in all shot up.

During the landings on Bougainville Island, the ship provided shore fire support and engaged enemy aircraft attacking the beach.  

One night while on patrol we made contact with a submarine, and suddenly radar picked up other contacts. Small boats moving rapidly toward us. We could not make radio contact and the Captain had the search lights turned on. We discovered the contact was a U.S. Navy Torpedo Boat. Fortunately they did not fire their torpedos at us, nor did the Captain open fire on them. We got credit for sinking a Jap submarine.

After this encounter, we became the Mother ship for a squadron of torpedo boats for awhile.

During this period I learned from my brother that our Dad's ship was making runs in the islands. We never managed to get together though. He would be coming in as we left or vice versa.

Made a trip to New Caledonia and my father was leaving as we pulled in. We then went to Sydney, Australia for some much needed R&R. If you didn't have the watch, you were on liberty. Sure hated to leave.

Involved with taking of Saipan, and Tinian and Guam. After Guam was taken, had liberty and met my brother on the beach.

The Hudson followed the action across the Pacific. The worst and scariest of all was around Okinawa where we were a Picket ship. Our duties were to give early warning of aircraft or ships. During this period, the Japanese turned their pilots into Suicide Planes. Again we were lucky, but I can assure you, it was scary.

Click here to read the Details of the USS HUDSON action

We joined another task force heading north after this. Scuttlebut was to prepare for the invasion of Japan. Fortunately the "Bomb" was dropped and an invasion was not necessary. The ship joined another task force and provided coverage in Northern Japan. We were nearby when the surrender was signed. Each of the crew was given a brochure of the participants of the surrender signing. It was over. I was still alive.

The war was over... Peace time now.. it wasn't long and we would be heading home. The Hudson pulled into a port in Washington state. Most of the crew got orders and a 30 day leave.

I visited an uncle in Minneappolis, MN for a fews days then headed to Boston. Called Lil, and went to her house. Spent a few days there then headed for Albany, GA to visit family. Albany was dead and I called Lil, told her I was coming back to Boston. Asked her to marry me.

Was on the next train to Boston. She agreed to marry me and we got married in Malden, MA. on January 13, 1946. Had a short honeymoon in Washington, DC., then back to Boston for a few days. Then I was off to the receiving station, San Francisco, to join up with others that had orders to participate in the Atomic Bomb Test on Bikini Island in the Pacific.

Click here for Photo of USS HUDSON DD475
Click here for History of USS Hudson DD475
Click here for Hudson at Bougainville/Okinawat

If by chance any crew member from the Hudson should read this, drop me a line and include your E-mail address.

To be continued.....

January 7, 2000

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