World War II

Sunday December 7

... remembering WWII

by Jerry Norton

It was a very cold 8:00 PM when I and a couple of my pals (Al Graham and Francis O’Brien) were leaving the Granada theatre in Malden, to be greeted by a newspaper with the full-page headline "Japs Attack Hawaii." One had to look inside the paper to learn that it was a military base on the island of Oahu. At that time there probably wasn't one in a thousand Americans who had ever heard of a place called "Pearl Harbor"- probably thought it was an oyster bed in Chesapeake Bay.

We were in our senior year at Melrose High and the bugles were calling. The following February I and another buddy enlisted in the Navy with the proviso that we would be called up after our graduation on 12 June. Two weeks later I was undergoing training in Newport, RI - followed by additional schooling until the fall of 1942. I was then assigned as a signalman in the Navy Armed Guard, to serve with navy gunners for protection of our vulnerable merchant ships.

The end of 1942 and early spring of 1943 saw us sustaining terrible losses to submarines in the North Atlantic convoy battles. I was always saddened to learn of the deaths of men with whom I had trained only months before.

For three years this duty brought me to deep water ports all over the world on ships that supplied our troops in various theatres of the far-flung war. Luckily I always seemed to be one step ahead (or behind) of a bombing here or a torpedo there.

December 7, 2007

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