I Enlisted in the Navy in 1942 in Baltimore Md.
I then went to Boot Camp in Newport R.I and after Six Weeks of training
I received orders to report to the U.S.S. Laramie a navy oil tanker.I
remember standind on the dock and looking up at the Laramie and thinking
O'Boy what am i in for now.After getting settled in and getting squared
away everthing turned in to being routine.All of the crew and officers
were really great. Duty on board a tanker is great as far as
the food is concerened. We had a baker that made the best pies,we called
him Dough Head. The crew sat down to meals at long tables and the mess
cooks (me being the new kid on the block was one of the mess
cooks) severing tables that were assinged to me. What I liked about that
was a tip bowl was put at the end of the table and the shipmates would
tip us. I saved my tips for going on liberty.Like I said all was
routine, chipping paint, applying red lead and of course lots swabbing
decks. The mess cooks had to keep the dining area clean. On the 26th of
Aug we got underway and left Boston Harbour with our cargo of high test
aviation gas and depth charges heading for the Air Force Base in
Greenland. None of the crew seemed unduly alarmed about the threat of
Enemy Subs. However that compliaancy was soon put to rest for on the
evening of the 27th we were torpedoed in the Belle Isle straights off
the coast of Newfoundland. I was on watch on #1-5 inch gun when we were
hit,the fish hit in the food locker compartment and the crews quarters,
it ruptured the bulkheads and killed four of my shipmates.The damage
control gang are credited for saving the ship along with the Skipper
using evasion manuvers.Why the ship didn`t blow us all to kingdom come
is one of the miracles of war. My next watch was on the port side of the
bridge as lookout. Well that was that night and after everything settled
down we buried my shipmates at sea on Sept 2nd. That was the saddest
monument of my life having to watch them go overboard.
After all this happened we went to Boston for repairs.We were
given leave and i went home to Baltimoe after only being in the navy for
six weeks. Had a nice leave and returned to the Laramie and contiued my
The life on board was good during the summer months,however
winter time was something else.The Atlantic in the winter is nasty. At
times the ship looked like an iceberg. Here`s where I really learned about chipping
ice. Had to wear really heavy foul weather gear.
When not on duty you could find me in the after steering room playing
poker, we had to go there it was a good place to hide, the bosun mate
played also. This is where some of my tip money that I got for waiting
tables went, I hardly ever won. I think that is why they invited me to
Moral was for the most part always good. We had movies from time to
time. Lke I said, all was pretty routine, making trips back and fourth to
Greenland, standing watches, and general shipboard duties.
After awhile I wanted to strike for something. My preference was
bosun, but there was no opening. There was one for Hospital Corpsman which
I grabbed. So on the 13th of Aug 1943, I graduated from Hospital Corps
School in Norfolk Naval Hospital, Portsmouth Va. as Hospital apprentice
first class. From there I was ordered to the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth
New Hampshire. From there bumped around and finally wound up on the
U.S.S. Relief, a beautiful Ship. You will find her story in this history of
Art`s Page below.
Thanks to Bob Mills, who says:
Yes, I too was on the "Galloping Goose" when she was T-boned 08-27-42. I had just hit the rack ( forward crews quarters beside the ladder ) after securing from sunset general quarters. I heard the ship on our port beam get hit, so I hauled out of there. I was standing by the gunwal tying my life jacket when the fish hit us. I was washed down the deck until I hit the mess hall bulkhead.
By the way, the forward fuel tank was ruptured and lost the fuel on the forward tank. I could taste it when I was washed down the deck.. If we had been a Fleet oiler we would have been long gone. The laramie was an auxiliary oiler ( hence the AO ) with store rooms on both sides of the tanks. That's what saved us. Fleet oilers are all tanks.
Thanks for listen.
Click On Photo To Enlarge
Thanks to Rod Keller, who says:
"I hope it's OK to send this picture to all of you. It's about 78K, which you can resize if you need a smaller image for a web page. I don't know anything about it, other than it was in my grandfather's pictures from the Navy. It says on the back in his writing:
"U.S.S. Laramie tanker, torpedoed in Belle Isle Strait, 1943, got back to Boston with a loss of four lives"
Subsequent comments by Arthur...can't shut the guy up:
"I guess ROD sent U this picture.There are a few dates & info
incorrect.We were torpedoed on Aug 27th 1942 & besides the 4 shipmates
we put overboard 5 other shipmates were lost.
Glad this picture showed up,been wondering all these years if someone
took a picture. Look at the gun turret & thats where I was on watch when
we got hit. Hell of a noise HA. Where the hole is thats the crews
Art's Other Account At Ramon's Site
Where This Took Place - Maps
The Mysterious Thing On The Foremast
Start Up Email
Hi Carlos,Thanks for the attachment on the Laramie,sure
some good & some rather sad memories.
I was one of
the seamen that put the bodies of my 4 shipmates in canvas
body bags for
burial at sea. that were killed when we were
torpedoed.The good LORD was
with me that night,I was on watch on
#1gun,my bunk was right over top of the
guy`s that were killed.I have
pictures of the burial at sea and sometime i
will send you a picture if
you would like to have it.
Thanks for the
Info and maybe some of your puter buddies will have some
Again THANKS Waiting to hear from you.
I Remain Art
Hi CAROS,read your mail to RAMON and i don`t know who who wrote that
article about the LARAMIE but here` the straight scoop.
I was on watch on #1 Gun when the fish hit and there was no Fuel
splashing around in the gun turret,the fish hit the food locker and
the bulkheads in that compartment.We were really lucky that night,When
the fish hit i was on the phones and i looked down at the water & saw
another fish pass right in front and go on by.My bunk was right over top
of the 4 shipmates that were killed,so if i didn`t belive in guardian
angles i sure did after that night.This happened to me after only 6
weeks in the navy at age17,I am now 75 years old and i can still hear
that explosion.Had 4 weeks of boot camp. & on the 6th week i was home
on leave from being torpedoed..
We had a great damage control team and they are the one`s that saved our
ship that night.
Again there was no fuel sloushing around where i wa on #1 gun other
place i can recall.
If you get a chance write me back,sure would
like to know of any shipmates that might still be alive and were there
Hi Carlos,Got your mail on the offer to make a special page on the
Laramie I will be sending
you some photos along with some captions for each one.I am on webtv and
i have to take a picture of the ones i want to send you. with my
camcorder and then i have to transfer it to my e-mail.Is that ok with
you?I can only send one
picture at a time.
Now I would like to clear up all the scuttle-butt About all the fuel
oil and gasoline sloushing around,Like I said before there was none in
the gun turret where i was on watch,and there was none anyplace else.My
land don`t these guys know that if there had of been I wouldn`t be
writting to you ,If all that fuel was loose that ship would have been
blown to kingdom come.
Carlos thanks for the e-mail and thanks for the offer.
Carlos one more ?Can you track another ship I
was on in the south pacfic.It was the USS Relief
A hospital ship.This is also an interesting story.
Me and some of the Pharmacist and some of the ships crew went and took
the wounded off
the BIG E the night she got hit.
I have a whole journal on her.
I REMAIN Art
Hi CAROS,I am sending this to you,I wrote this chap after you gave me
that link to The Laramie
You nkw i don`t recall anything he is telling us here..It was night time
when we got hit and evening & dark and i don`t remember anyone
going overboard with the damage-control crew
trying to save the ship & the Skipper using evasive action also to save
this could have been i just have any recall of it.
By the way I went thru my photos and came up with a picture of the
Laramie,the wife is going to have it blown up(No pun here) and will get
the picture to you.
See YA Art
From: arthur altvater
Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2000 10:49 AM
Hi Harold,I was stationed aboard the Laramie &
she was my first ship after i got out of boot camp, and we were
torpedoed going thru the Belle Isle straits newfoundland.That was Aug
27th 1942 at 21:31 hours.Four of my shipmates
were killed & we buried them at sea on Sept 2nd.
When were you aboard her?
Write ack when you can.
Art ,PHM2nd class
Wow what a surprise! (I am writing for Harold he is blind, his wife Agnes)
I too went on the Laramie as my first ship out of boot at Great Lakes. I
was definitely on there when we were torpedoed I was blown off the ship
and remember when they picked me up took me to sick bay and gave me a shot
of whiskey to warm me up. After we returned to the states when we went for
repairs I was transfered to the Lackawanna also a tanker and that is where I
spent my Navy time in the So Pac I was transfered in 45 to Phila to W/T
school and after that the war was ending and because I was reg. Navy got
out. After all the years finally we started a reunion of the AO 40 in 85
and have attended everyone As the years went by and we found more guys
there was Arthur Wainz and Herman White that had also been on the Laramie
and transfered at the same time I was. I lived in Calif. from 48 to 84 and
worked for the Santa Fe RR then retired to Az. Great hearing from you.
Write anytime Harold Williams
PS both men mentioned are deceased now
USS Relief AH-1 - Another ship I served on.