L' Ecritoire

Location: Sacramento, California

I am a retired lawyer and administrative law judge, aged but active, with a variety of interests.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Captain Sims Carries a Flag of Truce

My great-grandfather, Edwin O. R. Sims, a private in the 18th Mississippi Infantry, received a mortal wound at the Battle of Ball's Bluff in October 1861. His younger brother, Captain Robert Moorman Sims, CSA, a graduate of The Citadel, survived the war and became Secretary of State of South Carolina. During the war he served on the staff of General A. P. Hill and, when Hill fell in 1865, on the staff of General James Longstreet (probably as a supernumerary). Captain Sims carried a flag of truce (not the only one) in the lead-up to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. This is his account of that episode. (It is easy to infer a low regard for General Custer and his intelligence, and perhaps a recognition of Custer's bloody-mindedness.)

The account has been copied from A Civil War Treasury, B. A. Botkin, Ed., Promontory Press, 1993, originally published by Random House, 1960. It is excerpted from a letter addressed by Captain Sims to a Union officer some years after the end of the war, apparently in response to a request for a description of the circumstances of the incident he describes. I have put a misplaced paragraph in its proper sequence (publisher’s error).
Upon frequent applications from General Gordon to General Longstreet for reinforcements, he (Longstreet) sent me to say to General Gordon that General Lee had ridden down the road to meet General Grant and that if he thought proper he could send a message to General Sheridan, who was in command in his front, asking him for a suspension of hostilities until General Lee could be heard from. I found General Gordon without a staff officer near him, and he begged me to take the flag, which I did.

The flag was a new and clean white crash towel, one of a lot for which I had paid $20 or $40 apiece in Richmond a few days before we left there. I rode alone up a lane (I believe there was only a fence on my right intact), passing by the pickets or sharpshooters of Gary’s (Confederate) Cavalry Brigade stationed along the fence, enclosing the lane on my right as I passed. A wood was in front of me occupied by Federals, unmounted cavalry, I think. I did not exhibit the flag until near your line, consequently was fired upon until I got to or very near your people. I went at full gallop. I met a party of soldiers….and near them, two or three officers. One was Lieutenant Colonel Whitaker, now in Washington, and the other a major.

I said to them: "Where is your commanding officer, General Sheridan? I have a message for him."

They replied: "He is not near here, but General Custer is, and you had better see him."

"Can you take me to him?"


They mounted and we rode up the road that I came but a short distance, when we struck Custer’s division of cavalry, passing at full gallop along a road crossing our road and going to my left. We galloped down this road to the head of the column, where we met General Custer.

He asked: "Who are you, and what do you wish?"

I replied: "I am of General Longstreet’s staff, but am the bearer of a message from General Gordon to General Sheridan, asking for a suspension of hostilities until General Lee can be heard from, who has gone down the road to meet General Grant to have a conference."

General Custer replied: "We will listen to no terms but that of unconditional surrender. We are behind your army now and it is at our mercy."

I replied: "You will allow me to carry this message back?"

He said: "Yes."

Do you wish to send an officer with me?"

Hesitating a little, he said: "Yes," and directed the two officers who came with me, Lieutenant Colonel Whitaker and the major, whose name I don’t know, to go with me.

We rode back to Gordon in almost a straight line. Somewhere on the route a Major Brown, of General Gordon’s (Confederate) staff, joined me, I think after I had left Custer.

On our way back to Gordon two incidents occurred. Colonel Whitaker asked me if I would give him the towel to preserve that I had used as a flag. I replied: "I will see you in hell first; it is sufficiently humiliating to have had to carry it and exhibit it, and I shall not let you preserve it as a monument of our defeat." I was naturally irritated and provoked at our prospective defeat, and Colonel Whitaker at once apologized, saying he appreciated my feelings and did not intend to offend. Passing some artillery crossing a small stream, he asked me to stop this artillery, saying "If we are to have a suspension of hostilities, everything should remain in statu quo."

I replied: "In the first place, I have no authority to stop this artillery; and, secondly, if I had, I should not do so, because General Custer distinctly stated that we were to have no suspension of hostilities until and unconditional surrender was asked for. I presume this means continuing the fight. I am sure General Longstreet will construe it so."

When I reached General Gordon he asked me to go in another direction, almost opposite to the one I had been, and take the flag to stop the firing. I replied that I could not do so, as I must go to General Longstreet; besides some of his (Gordon’s) staff were now with him. He directed Major Brown to go. Major Brown came to me and asked me to loan him the towel. I took him off to a private place and told him I would let him have the towel on condition that he would not let the Federal officer get possession of it and that I would call in the afternoon for it. He took the towel, and in going into your lines (so he reported to me that afternoon) Colonel Whitaker asked for the towel to display to keep his own people from firing on him, and, as soon as he got into the lines, he mixed up with the others and disappeared with the towel. (I learned a few years ago that Mrs. General Custer has the towel.)

Just after I left Custer he had come in sight of our lines. He halted his troops and, taking a handkerchief from his orderly, displayed it as a flag and rode into our lines. He was surrounded by some of our people and was being handled a little roughly when an old classmate of his recognized him and rescued him.

When I reached General Longstreet, after leaving General Gordon, I found him and General Custer talking together at a short distance from the position occupied by the staff. Custer said he would proceed to attack at once and Longstreet replied: "As soon as you please," but Custer did not attack.
R. M. Sims

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Problem With French

Le Problème (with French)

Les dents, la bouche. Laid dans la bouche. Les dents la bouchent. L'aidant la bouche. Etc. !

These phrases, which sound exactly alike, mean, respectively, "the teeth, the mouth;" "ugly in the mouth;" "the teeth choke her;" "helping her chokes her."

9th Arkansas Infantry, CSA

9th Arkansas Infantry Regiment

The 9th Regiment, Arkansas Volunteer Infantry, was organized at Pine Bluff on July 20, 1861, and taken into state service at Pine Bluff on July 27. They marched to Pocahontas, Arkansas later that month where they were mustered into Confederate service and assigned initially to Pillow's Division. Like all the other Arkansas regiments raised in the first wave of recruiting in 1861, they were taken into Confederate armies east of the Mississippi River, and only a few survivors made it home after the war.

[One of your host’s great-grandfathers, George Lawrence Blackwell, was a member of this formation and was wounded, I believe, at Shiloh. Recovering from his wound, he served in the 19th Arkansas, and fought to the bitter end, mustering out when Gen. Kirby Smith surrendered, some time after Appomattox.]

The 9th Arkansas was known as the "Parsons’ Regiment" because it included 42 ministers of the gospel of all protestant denominations among their ranks. The regimental commander was a preacher, as was the major and many of the company officers. Notwithstanding it contained so many men of the cloth, it was a hard-fighting regiment and many of its officers, notably its last lieutenant colonel (Dunlop), were as intrepid and gallant as any knight of chivalry. Field officers were Colonel John M. Bradley, Major John C. Bratton, Lt. Col (later Col.) Isaac L. Dunlop, Lt. Cols. W.Y. McCammon, Reuben W. Millsaps, and Jefferson W. Rogers, and Majors R.M. Wallace and W.J. Wallace.

The company commanders were: Co. A, the "Bradley Guards", of Jefferson county, Cpt. John M. Bradley; Co. B, the "Cut-Off Guards, of Drew county, Cpt. W.H. Isom.; Co. C, "Henry's Hornets", of Jefferson county, Cpt. Phillip G. Henry; Co. D, of Bradley county, Cpt. W.Y. McCammon; Co. E, of Bradley county, Cpt. John W. Blankenship; Co. F, the "Dixie Guards", of Drew county, Cpt. W.G. Haislip, Co. G, the "Arkansaw Travelers" of Union county, Cpt. Robert M. Wallace; Co. H, the "Hardee Guards" of Jefferson county, Cpt. James T. Anderson, Co I, "McCulloch's Guards" of Jefferson county, Cpt. George F. Bayne; Co. K, of Ashley county; Cpt. John F. Carr.

The regiment saw its first combat at the battle of Belmont, MO, and was subsequently retained at Bowling Green, KY for the defense of that post during the winter of 1861-1862. The regiment served in Shaver's Brigade, covering the retreat out of Kentucky to Corinth. It fought gallantly at Shiloh, charging repeatedly upon the "Hornet's Nest" where it lost Lt. Col. Dunlop.

Late in the day at Shiloh, General Albert Sidney Johnston sought to rally his troops, which has lost cohesion. He rode from the rear through this regiment, brandishing a tin cup he had appropriated earlier that morning from a Union campsite, describing it as "My share of the spoils." He addressed the regiment, saying, "Men of Arkansas, the enemy is stubborn. I want you to show General Beauregard and General Bragg what you can do with your bayonets and toothpicks!" The regiment went forward with a cheer and passed him at a run; in five minutes 130 men of their ranks were killed or wounded, but they did not falter. Lt. Duckworth was killed at the head of his company, and Cpt. Wallace was wounded. It closed up and disappeared into the thicket in front, followed by the whole Confederate line, and the enemy was silenced in twenty minutes. General Johnston, however, received a mortal wound while leading this charge, and shortly thereafter bled to death.

Following the Confederates' repulse at Shiloh, the 9th Arkansas returned to Corinth and participated in the Corinth Campaign, in the battles of Corinth, and Iuka, MS. They served at Coffeeville, and in the Vicksburg Campaign in the spring and summer of 1863, where they served briefly in the garrisons of Port Hudson, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi, then fought in the battle of Champion Hill on May 15, 1863. The 9th served in Loring's Division at Champion Hill, and following that battle, Loring retreated north to join Joe Johnston's army near Jackson rather than being trapped with the rest of Pemberton's army in the Vicksburg defenses.

The 9th Arkansas served with Johnson's attempt to relieve Vicksburg, in the second battle of Jackson, in the Meridian (MS) campaign in Feb. to March, 1864; and the Atlanta Campaign at Resaca, New Hope Church, Kennesaw Mountain, Dug Gap, Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Ezra Church, and the final siege of Atlanta, as well as follow-on action at Lovejoy's Station and Jonesboro, Georgia. Following the fall of Atlanta, the regiment participated in the Tennessee campaign that resulted in the battles of Franklin, and Nashville, TN.

They continued service with the Army of Tennessee to the close of the war, fighting at Sugar Creek on December 26, 1864, and in the Carolinas campaign in February to April, 1865, including the last big stand-up fight of the Tennessee Army at Bentonville on March 19-21, 1865.

The few remaining survivors of the 9th Arkansas were consolidated with the survivors of the 1st and 2nd Arkansas Mounted Rifles, the 4th and 25th Arkansas, and others as the "1st Mounted Rifles Regiment" (dismounted, since they didn't have many horses left, either) in the last reorganization of the Army at Smithfield, North Carolina on April 9, 1865. Two weeks later, they were surrendered with the rest of the Army of Tennessee near Raleigh, North Carolina.
References: James Willis, Arkansas Confederates in the Western Theater (Regimental and Brigade history and complete, annotated muster rolls for the regiment.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"Shrimp and Grits" Recipe

Shrimp And Grits

Cheese Grits

1 cup Quaker Quick Grits
4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup Extra Sharp Cheddar (White)
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon Paprika
Tabasco Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook grits according to instructions on package.

As grits are finishing, whisk in butter, cheddar, Parmesan cheese, cayenne, paprika and Tabasco Sauce.


2 cups Chopped Smoked Bacon
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 1/2 lb. 20-30 CT Shrimp
Salt & Black Pepper
3 teaspoons Mince garlic
3 cups Sliced White Mushrooms
3 tablespoons White wine
2 tablespoons lemon Juice
2 cups Sliced Scallions

Cook bacon 'til it begins to brown, remove from heat. Strain and reserve bacon grease and bacon bits.

Heat large skillet until very hot, add olive oil and 2 tablespoons of Bacon fat. As oil begins to smoke, toss in shrimp to cover bottom of pan. Before stirring, season with salt and pepper (this will season shrimp in particular, but the rest of the dish as well). Stir until shrimp begin to turn pink all over (let pan return to original hot temperature). Stir in minced garlic and bacon bits (be careful not to burn the garlic). Toss in mushrooms and coat with oil briefly. Add lemon juice and wine, stir for 30 seconds or so until everything is well coated and incorporated. Assuming that this is ready to be served, toss in sliced scallions and stir for about 20 seconds (if these hold too long before serving) They will begin to turn brown and lose all of their crunch).

Serve over the aforementioned, patiently waiting, cheese grits. Enjoy, burp, reminisce about those fine meals at City Grocery.

This should serve 3 or 4 depending on how hungry everyone is.

Recipe courtesy of Chef John Currence, City Grocery, Oxford, MS.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Poem by W. B. Yeats

An Irish Airman Foresees his Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

William Butler Yeats

Milton on Rhyme

The Verse

The measure is English heroic verse without rime, as
that of Homer in Greek, and Virgil in Latin – rime being
no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good
verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a
barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame meter;
graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern
poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own
vexation, hindrance and constraint to express many
things otherwise, and for the most part worse, than else
they would have expressed them. Not without cause
therefore some, both Italian and Spanish poets of prime
note, have rejected rime both in longer and shorter works,
as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a
thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true
musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit
quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out
from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of
like endings – a fault avoided by the learned ancients both
in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of
rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may
seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be
esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient
liberty recovered to heroic poem from the troublesome
and modern bondage of riming.

John Milton, Preface to Paradise Lost

Pour encourager les autres

Pour encourager les autres

The original quote is by Voltaire in Candide.

Dans ce pay-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.

In this country it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, to encourage the others.

He's referring to the execution of Admiral John Byng in England in 1757. Sent in 1756 to prevent the French from taking Minorca, he arrived when the island was already under siege and, after an indecisive naval engagement, withdrew without relieving the siege. He was court-martialed and executed for "failure to do his utmost". This brought charges that he had been used as a scapegoat for ministerial failure. On his tombstone it says "bravery and loyalty were insufficient securities for the life and honour of a naval officer".

Leapfrog Bicycle Touring

Three Easy Riders Leapfrog Touring Procedure


This procedure assumes the participation of three congenial cyclists who are evenly matched in terms of ability and who wish 1) to tour by riding from one town or point to another, rather than return to the point of beginning each day, 2) to ride together for companionship and mutual support, 3) to ride without the encumbrance of the baggage associated with ordinary "self-contained" touring, 4) to have quick access to the comfort, convenience, and security of an automobile and a telephone while riding, and 5) to stay in motels (engaging one room with twin beds and a rollaway) rather than camping.


From the point of beginning, Rider One drives the vehicle containing the baggage of all three riders and his own bike an agreed-upon distance (say, 10 miles) along an agreed-upon route, where the car can be safely parked, and there waits for Riders Two and Three. Upon the arrival of both, Rider Two becomes the driver and Rider One, having unloaded his bike, begins cycling with Rider Three. After loading his bike, Rider Two drives on to the next rendezvous point and there waits for the arrival of his fellows. Upon their arrival, Rider Three becomes the driver and Rider Two resumes cycling, this time with Rider One. This alternation of driving and riding continues as the three riders may agree, with modifications (the vehicle carrying two or all three bikes) to accommodate meals, snacks, gasoline purchases, motels, or any other contingency which may occur.

This procedure permits varying the distances covered by the three riders, to recognize their individual wishes and peculiarities in topography and traffic congestion along the route, and enables them to avoid riding altogether in unsafe conditions. It also has a built-in capability for getting to the point of beginning of the tour without relying on an airline or the charity of others, admits of aborting a trip which has become unpleasant because of inclement weather or illness, or other reason, and can be followed for a single day, or for several days. Most important, it ensures that friends and assistance are always close at hand, even in the course of an otherwise venturesome undertaking.

Although the procedure can be utilized by four riders (or more), I believe that three is the optimal number. Four riders will almost certainly require a larger vehicle than three, and it is far easier for three to reach consensus or agreement on any question than four - and issues requiring decision will arise constantly.

History of U.S.S. Oak Hill (LSD-7)

A Narrative History of U.S.S. Oak Hill (LSD-7)
from 5 January 1944 to 17 November 1945, Composed by an Anonymous Crew Member in 1945 and Revised and Enlarged by Captain James M. Moose, Jr., USNR (Ret), a Former Crew Member, in April 2003

The first U.S.S. Oak Hill (LSD-7) was authorized by an Act of Congress on 7 July 1942. Her keel was laid at the Moore Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Oakland, CA on 9 March 9 1943, and the ship was launched on 25 June 25 1943. Her sponsor was the wife of LCDR Robert E. Garrels, USN, then Assistant Supervisor of Shipbuilding, U.S. Naval Station, San Francisco. [At the time of this revision, a second U.S.S. Oak Hill (LSD-51) is in service.]

The morning of 5 January 1944 was not a pleasant one in the Oakland, CA yard of the Moore Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, where Oak Hill lay moored. It had rained throughout the previous night and, by the appearance of the sky, it was evident that it would rain again that day. Notwithstanding the inclement weather, it was business as usual in the Pre-Commissioning Office and at the Detail Barracks of the U.S. Naval Receiving Ship, where every effort was being made to move necessary equipment and records to the new ship and, in general, to set up her housekeeping arrangements.

At 0800, a Navy tug attached to the Receiving Ship tied up astern of the Oak Hill, loaded with men and their gear. These were the men who would be the crew of the new ship, the men who would man her guns and keep her engines running, on whom her life would depend - and a greener lot of new recruits could not be found. There were a few old timers among them, and on them and a few experienced officers would rest the responsibility for making the rest into "men of war."

This was the first time most of the crew had seen their new ship. Most had no idea as to her function. Some thought she was an aircraft carrier of some sort; others thought she was a cargo vessel. Almost all stood and gaped at their first sight of her. She was in fact something new, and as yet unmentioned in the press. Although she was the seventh of her kind, very few of the crew had seen or heard of a "landing ship dock." Her lines were not the most graceful, and she would later be called "cheese box" and "garbage scow," but she had been built for a purpose. She was 457 feet in length, with a beam of 72 feet and a draft of 18 feet, and displaced 4,490 tons. Her primary purpose (as the crew learned) was to operate with amphibious task forces, carrying loaded landing craft which, under their own power, would issue from a flooded well deck (extending from the stern two-thirds of the ship’s length) through a gate in the ship’s stern and head for the landing beaches.

At 1100 on that rainy morning of 5 January 1944 the Oak Hill was placed in commission, assigned to the command of her first captain, CDR Carl A. Peterson, USNR. No one seemed to know for sure the significance of the ship’s name. The builders believed "Oak Hill" was the name of a school for girls in England. This information did not seem quite right to the captain, who initiated an inquiry to the Navy Department. Shortly after commissioning, the ship received a large picture of Oak Hill, the residence of James Monroe, the nation’s fifth president, for which the ship was named. The curiosity of the crew was satisfied: they knew that their ship had a good American name, and the picture was hung in the wardroom as proof of her name’s origin.

Oak Hill left the dock at Moore’s on 7 January 1944, and ship and crew were at last on their own, on the way to becoming a part of the fleet and of the effort to defeat the enemy, the Empire of Japan. Yet much remained to be done before even beginning the shakedown cruise: it was necessary to receive and stow ammunition, dry stores, and fresh provisions. This hard work was undertaken gladly, however, the crew happy in the knowledge that they were about to get their chance to get into the war.

The crew could not know that Oak Hill would steam 80,000 miles in less than two years, that she would take part in major landings at Saipan, Palau, Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa, and in lesser affairs at Ulithi Atoll and, near Okinawa, at Iheya Shima and Aguni Shima. Nor did they know that their ship would encounter numerous air attacks and a submarine attack, and would weather two typhoons. They were resolved, however, to do their best, and they knew that they needed to get the most out of the shakedown cruise.

The shakedown actually began with application of a new coat of paint, rather than drills. Oak Hill received the ministrations of the painters at the U.S. Naval Repair Base, San Diego, who gave the ship a flashy camouflage job, featuring shades of green and gray, with occasional patches of black, and only then proceeded to six weeks of intensive training. The crew worked with a will at this training, which included gunnery, ballasting, and loading and handling cargo, among many other things, most of which were peculiar to the specialties into which the Navy divides the work of its officers and men. This, the ship’s first serious work, was facilitated by the leaven of the "old hands," officers and enlisted men, including a sprinkling of former merchant marine officers, who knew their way around ground tackle and engine rooms. At the end of this period, the crew were fairly on their way to becoming a capable unit: "The officers and men of the U.S.S. Oak Hill," and they were ready to undertake any job the Navy handed them.

May 1944 found the ship in Pearl Harbor, although not for the first time, after a largely uneventful crossing from the West Coast, "largely" because it was during this crossing that the crew became acquainted with Seabag. His master had planned to send Seabag ashore at Pearl, but quarantine regulations would not allow it, and as a consequence Seabag became an adopted and well-loved canine shipmate. Seabag never liked the reports of the guns, but could always find a kindly sailor in a repair party to shield his ears when the guns spoke. He was a crew member during three major engagements, but went AWOL in December 1944, failing to return from a shore liberty.

Oak Hill had been to Pearl Harbor on three or four other occasions, always laden on the outbound leg and in ballast on the return leg. Now she was being loaded at Pearl, the shakedown days were over, and the crew were no longer "green." Oak Hill took a well deck lading of LCMs (landing craft, medium) to Hilo, on the island of Hawaii, where she embarked tanks, cargo and personnel of the Second Marine Division.

The crew would not forget the Second Marines, who were with them for over a month. Of all the passengers Oak Hill carried, they were the most memorable to the crew, and the ones for whom they had the warmest feelings. They had been involved in the terrible fighting at Tarawa in November 1943, were veterans, and each one had his story to tell.

Now the crew underwent more training - loading, unloading, and manuevers - rehearsing for the upcoming operation at Saipan. Rehearsals completed, the ship sailed for Saipan, via Eniwetok. On 14 June 1944, the eve of the landings, Oak Hill was close enough to her destination that her crew knew she could be attacked by Japanese aircraft - they could observe the flashes from the naval bombardment - and they were tense with excitement. On 15 June Oak Hill launched tank-carrying LCMs, which, after landing their tanks and tank crews on the beach, assisted in the unloading of cargo ships. Saipan was Oak Hill’s first operation, and it was carried off reasonably well. One error was made, resulting in the capsizing of an LCM and the loss of a much-needed tank. Fortunately, the crews of the LCM and the tank escaped drowning, and the incident was soon forgotten.

At 1840 on D-Day, just as dusk was falling, Oak Hill first fired at an enemy plane. Her 5-inch gun, which had done well in firing practices, helped put up a barrage into which Japanese planes seemed unwilling to venture. Battery officer LT Daniel M. Newbern and Gunner’s Mate First Class Grady W. Risner were highly gratified by their gun’s performance.

Oak Hill anchored offshore, and remained in her anchorage for six days thereafter, for the purpose of repairing small craft, LCMs, LCVPs, and LCTs. During one 24-hour period, she attended to twenty (20) such craft. On 22 June 1944, in company with a number of other ships, Oak Hill sailed for Pearl Harbor. Thereafter, she sailed to San Francisco in company with U.S.S. Lindenwald (LSD-6), and upon arrival underwent a ten-day upkeep period.

Upon completion of the upkeep period, Oak Hill sailed again for Pearl Harbor, where she was assigned to a task group destined for the Western Carolines operation. She was again combat loaded, with three LCTs and their crews and the officers and men of the 710th Tank Battalion, for a voyage which was to be remembered well by many of the crew.

Beginning 19 August, while en route to the next operation, a small minority of the crew were astir with unwonted activity, doing a great deal of hard work that would result in considerable consternation for a good many of their shipmates. Oak Hill was about to enter the Royal Domain of Neptune, and it was the solemn duty of all trusty shellbacks to initiate the pollywogs of the crew. The great day was 22 August, when Oak Hill crossed the line, and the efforts of the shellbacks were finally revealed in impressive costumes and ingenious instruments of torture. Initiation activities consumed a large part of the day, as they undoubtedly did on all of the vessels of the convoy, and for a brief period attention was diverted from the serious business of war.

Oak Hill steamed on to Guadalcanal, then almost a backwater in the Pacific War, where she rehearsed her role in the Palau landings. On 17 September 1944, Oak Hill arrived off Anguar Island, in the Palau Island group of the Western Carolines, and the LCTs in her well deck successfully landed their tanks and crews. During the morning of the initial landing, the ship was menaced by mortar and small arms fire from the beach, but she maneuvered so that it was ineffective. Once again Oak Hill was assigned the task of repairing small craft, which was successfully performed despite the evasive maneuvering.

During the days that followed, Oak Hill joined a task unit for the capture of the Ulithi Atoll, a group of 40 islets in the Western Carolines. Ulithi was occupied without resistance, and the task unit commander gave permission to send recreation parties ashore. This R&R, in peaceful, almost idyllic, surroundings will never be forgotten by those who participated.

Upon completing repairs to some small craft, the ship proceeded to Humboldt Bay, on the northern coast of New Guinea, and was assigned to the Seventh Amphibious Force, a part of the Seventh Fleet. ["Humboldt Bay" is a valid name, appearing in several ship histories, but has not been found in current atlases.]

At this point the crew began to believe that Oak Hill was needed everywhere in the Western Pacific, as she never seemed to stay in one place for very long. From Humboldt Bay she proceeded to Langemak Bay, New Guinea, near Finschhafen, in company with U.S.S. White Marsh (LSD-8) and two minesweepers, U.S.S. Token (AM-126) and U.S.S. Teal (AM-23). At Langemak Bay she loaded a variety of landing craft and proceeded to beautiful Seeadler Harbor, on the island of Manus, Admiralty Islands, named for the armed German merchant cruiser commanded by CDR Felix von Luckner which used the harbor as a refuge during World War I. (Luckner sank 14 Allied ships without loss of life on either side.) Manus was then an enormous forward base of the Navy: the U.S.S. Pennsylvania (BB-38), a battleship, was present, high and dry in a floating drydock. Manus was also a base for Army Air Force bombers. Oak Hill’s short stay here permitted enlisted crew members to go ashore for more R&R, also called"beer."
[Note:U.S.S. Mount Hood (AE-11) blew up in Seeadler Harbor on 10 November 1944.]

At Seeadler Harbor Oak Hill embarked boats and personnel of Company "A," 592nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, which carried the combat cargo of Company "D," 44th Tank Battalion, First Cavalry Division, and rehearsals were begun for what would be the biggest operation yet. Two days out of Seeadler Harbor the crew received booklets disclosing that the ship was going back to the Philippines.

On D-Day, 20 October 1944, cargo and personnel were successfully landed on the island of Leyte, and the ship immediately sailed for Hollandia, on the northern coast of New Guinea, to load supplies and reinforcements. In company with other LSDs, she made six such trips, some of them via Biak and Mios Woendi, carrying a variety of cargoes. On one trip, between Hollandia and Leyte, she encountered enormous seas, the tail end of a typhoon, and the ship rolled 45°, according to the inclinometer on the bridge.

Following her shuttle trips to Leyte, Oak Hill sailed for the island of Morotai, north of Halmahera, in what had been the Dutch East Indies, in company with U.S.S. Belle Grove (LSD-8), U.S.S. Gunston Hall (LSD-5), and U.S.S. Lang (DD-399). The Lang had seen more than her share of active combat with Japanese ships and aircraft, as she had been involved in the protracted battles in "The Slot," in and around Guadalcanal. [Her history is posted on the net at: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-l/dd399.htm]

Belle Grove and Gunston Hall left the task unit short of Oak Hill’s destination, going to Sansapor, in western New Guinea, and Oak Hill and Lang continued on to Morotai, where Oak Hill spent five grand days, the crew fishing and swimming and almost forgetting they had ever been to Leyte, while loading three LCTs, with other cargo and personnel of the First Battalion, 544th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment. The ship then proceeded to Cape Sansapor, at the end of the Vogelkop Peninsula, which is the westernmost point of the island of New Guinea, to join a task group formed for an assault on the island of Luzon at Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines.

At 0028 on 30 December 1944, while lying at anchor off Cape Sansapor, "general quarters" was sounded on Oak Hill’s PA system, and all hands went to their battle stations. Searchlights on the beach soon illuminated a Japanese float plane, which was destroyed by a hit from an AA battery on shore at 0035. This was the first occasion for most of the crew to observe the destruction of a Japanese aircraft.

Oak Hill’s next movement was to San Pedro Bay, in Leyte Gulf, on the east side of Leyte Island, for further staging for the landings in Lingayen Gulf. The crew had heard a great deal about the employment of suicide aircraft attacks by the Japanese against American ships, which began at Leyte shortly after the landings on that island, and they were to witness these attacks at first hand during the passage of the convoy from San Pedro Bay to Lingayen Gulf.

Oak Hill and her convoy having passed through Surigao Strait into the Sulu Sea, at dusk on 4 January 1945 the crew on deck observed the convoy’s CAP (Republic P-47 Thunderbolts) shoot down three Japanese "Val" dive bombers. They also observed, over a period of twenty minutes or so - it seemed a very long time to those watching - a Japanese plane at a great altitude fly down the starboard side of the very large formation, at a distance of several miles, in the direction of its course and, turning, fly back on the opposite side of the convoy, again two or three miles distant, apparently unseen by American fighter planes, and again changing its course, this time by 90°, fly across the convoy and - finally - through a tremendous barrage, crash into an escort carrier. [She was the Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), and she was sunk with the loss of 100 men.]

At 1857 on 8 January, still in transit to Lingayen Gulf, Oak Hill opened fire on a Japanese Zero approaching high on her port beam. Her 40mm guns were seen to have scored some hits, and a burst from the 5-inch gun, firing proximity-fuzed ammunition, apparently induced the pilot to change course. The plane then nosed down and crashed into the water close astern of a nearby transport. Oak Hill claimed an assist in the demise of this plane.

Oak Hill anchored in Lingayen Gulf at 0744 on 9 January 1945, and sent her LCTs, with their cargo and personnel, on their way to the beach. She was then ordered to withdraw and proceed to Leyte. She did so in company with a very large number of ships, formed into a convoy, and the watch officers on the bridge were entertained on the TBS ("talk between ships") for a couple of hours or more by the convoy commander’s irate and caustic comments on the failure of one vessel to execute his tactical signals properly - or at all.

Following a transit which was uneventful except for the verbal pyrotechnics just mentioned, Oak Hill arrived at Leyte on 12 January 1945 and proceeded thence to Morotai for another lading - cargo and personnel of the 3017th Engineer Maintenance Company of the 544th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment. She then returned to Leyte to join a task unit bound for Lingayen Gulf.

At 1700 on 24 January 1944, the first day out from Leyte, the convoy was attacked by Japanese aircraft. One plane was immediately shot down by ships’ gunfire. A plane having been reported on the starboard quarter, the convoy was turned (all ships changing course simultaneously) to starboard, so as to place the plane more on the beam of its constituent ships, thus giving their anti-aircraft ordnance its greatest effect. The plane, which was judged to be a "Betty" bomber, capable of carrying bombs or torpedoes, launched a missile which struck a ship in the outboard column on the starboard side of the convoy. The plane was hit by 40mm fire, however, and was soon aflame. As she approached Oak Hill’s column and rank, it seemed certain to observers on Oak Hill that she would crash into their ship, and likely that the pilot was making every effort to bring this about. This did not happen, but the plane flew directly over Oak Hill, at little more than masthead altitude, and crashed into the sea on her port beam at no great distance. It is likely that the pilot had lost control of his craft, as he had nothing to lose by taking Oak Hill with him to the Great Beyond. One expression concerning the close call came from Steward’s Mate First Class Joe Smelly of Centreville, AL, who told the gunnery officer, LT James L. Slaughter of Jonestown, MS, "Sir, you shoot ‘em down, I’ll sure pray ‘em over the ship." No one thought that Joe was being facetious, and not many were in a joking mood.

Oak Hill landed her reinforcements for Lingayen on 27 January 1945, returned then to Leyte, and sailed from the latter place to Milne Bay, and thence to Guadalcanal, as part of a task unit which included U.S.S. White Marsh (LSD-8) and U.S.S. Casa Grande (LSD-13), her sister ships, and U.S.S. Mustin (DD-413), another veteran of the Guadalcanal actions of 1942 and 1943.

While Oak Hill stopped off for a few days at Milne Bay, on the extreme eastern tip of New Guinea (recall that she had also been to the western extreme of the island) to load landing craft, her crew enjoyed some R&R, which was thought the best yet. Upon arrival at Florida Island, on the opposite side of Iron Bottom Sound from the island of Guadalcanal, on 27 January 1945, Oak Hill went alongside U.S.S. Vulcan (AR-5) for minor repairs. (Iron Bottom Sound, also called Iron Bottom Bay, is so named for the American ships which lie sunk there.)

Oak Hill’s officers were enabled to visit the "Iron Bottom Bay Club," an establishment on Florida Island which supplied a variety of potables in addition to beer, which was all that enlisted personnel were able to get and which was consumed by the latter in an ambiance less congenial than that in officers clubs. The beer drunk by the crew was usually supplied by the ship, brought up from some inviolable space in the bowels of the ship and carried ashore in its natural warm state with those who were to drink it. "Ironically," much of this beer was "Iron City," brewed in Pittsburgh, PA.

After this trip, Oak Hill crewmen came to refer to U.S.S. Mustin as "our little friend," as her captain was a friend of Oak Hill’s supply officer, LT Keith N. Sherlie, of Snohomish, WN, and the two had made arrangements (with Captain Peterson’s permission) for Oak Hill to provide ice cream on appropriate occasions for Mustin’s crew. Having more advantages in this regard than the crews of smaller ships, Oak Hill crewmen were happy to share their gedunk supplies with their less fortunate and fully deserving protector. Needless to say, Oak Hill always knew when Mustin was in any port in which she called. [The history of U.S.S. Mustin is posted on the internet: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-m/dd413.htm]

Upon completion of repairs, Oak Hill loaded LCMs and their crews and proceeded to the Russell Islands (just north and east of Guadalcanal), where she embarked the First Tank Battalion of the First Marine Division on 28 February 1945. On 8 March she embarked cargo and personnel of Standard Landing Craft Unit 36 (a Navy unit), and then joined a transport group destined for landings in the Ryuku Islands for rehearsals. Upon completion of these rehearsals and AA firing practices, she sailed for Ulithi Atoll, where she was to stage for landings on Okinawa, in the Ryuku Islands.

At 0730, on 1 April 1945, Easter as well as All Fools Day, Oak Hill launched her tank-laden landing craft off the Hagushi Beaches, on the west side of Okinawa, all of which landed their ladings successfully. Having accomplished this, it became Oak Hill’s mission to repair damaged landing craft, and this task was immediately undertaken. At this point, the LSD in general, and the Oak Hill in particular, proved to be an extraordinarily valuable ship type. Higher authority had believed the LSD capable of repairing small craft, including LCVPs, LCMs, and perhaps LCTs (the latter so large that only three could be carried in the well deck), but were skeptical about her ability to repair ocean-going landing craft.

On Captain Peterson’s urging that she had such capacity, Oak Hill was given the opportunity to prove it and, in the event, she did. In addition to the smaller craft, LCVPs and LCMs, which were repaired in large numbers, in the 72-day period following D-Day Oak Hill docked and repaired 17 LSMs (landing ship medium), 6 LCSs (landing craft support), 6 LCIs (landing craft infantry), and 17 LCTs (landing craft tank). All of this work was accomplished with the threat of attack by enemy aircraft a constant factor, which required an almost constant level of alert ("Set Condition Baker") by her gun crews.

Most of this period (6 April – 22 June) coincided with the desperate struggle, just a couple of aircraft minutes away, between Japanese kamikaze planes and the radar picket line of American destroyers and other vessels, during which 3000 sacrificial sorties were launched by the Japanese against American naval forces, apart from conventional air attacks, sinking 21 ships and damaging (permanently or temporarily) 66 more. During most of this period, Oak Hill - and other ships lying off the Hagushi beaches - "made smoke" with their oil fog-generating machines during nighttime hours as protection from kamikaze aircraft. During April 1945 Oak Hill went to general quarters 79 times, and for periods up to 12 hours.

On 3 June 1945 Oak Hill was part of a task group which supported landings on Iheya Shima, an island 25 nautical miles northwest of Okinawa’s north tip, carrying tanks and personnel of Company "A," Second Tank Battalion, Second Marine Division. Returning to her anchorage off the Hagushi Beaches, she embarked tanks and other vehicles of the same outfit for a landing on Aguni Shima, 25 or 30 nautical miles west of Okinawa. She then returned to her "regular" anchorage and made preparations for another return to the Philippines, to which she then proceeded and where she remained for the balance of the month of June. The crew were afforded R&R on Samar Island, which was greatly relished after the long stint at Okinawa.

On 6 July 1945 Oak Hill was underway for Guam, carrying three LCTs loaded with motor torpedo boat (MTB) skids. She arrived off Apra Harbor, Guam on 10 July in the midst of a submarine alert, and her entry into the port was delayed a few hours. On 13 July she was underway again, headed for Espiritu Santo, in the New Hebrides, via Enewetok in the Marshalls. Upon arrival in the former place, she disembarked the three LCTs and loaded cargo, personnel and six MTBs of MTB Squadron 37, which she then carried to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, calling first in San Pedro Bay, Leyte. She arrived in the former place on 9 August 1945.

At that time rumors were current that Japan had offered to surrender, and it was a fact that a celebration of sorts was occurring on the beach, as Oak Hill was treated to a display of rockets and tracers such as her crew had never seen during even heavy attacks by Japanese aircraft. Captain Peterson forbade any participation in this affair, however, and Oak Hill’s gun crews observed strict fire discipline.

On 11 August the ship was underway again for Leyte, where her crew were to learn that even if the Japanese high command was offering to surrender, some of its subordinate units were not aware of it. At 1826 on that date, an Oak Hill lookout, GM2C Robert O. Whitbeck of Denver, CO, reported a periscope on the ship’s port quarter, distant one thousand yards. Oak Hill instantly changed course and the engine room was ordered to afford steam for maximum speed. The periscope was now astern, and the sub appeared to be on a parallel course, its speed estimated to be about 12 knots. Oak Hill’s radical course changes seemed to be matched by the sub, which, strange to say, seemed to surface from time to time. It was now concluded that the "sub" was not full size, but was much smaller.

The escort, U.S.S. Thomas F. Nickel (DE-587), fired one depth charge pattern astern of Oak Hill. After following in Oak Hill’s wake for about twenty minutes, the "sub" exploded with great force at a distance of about 2000 yards, a detonation apparently unrelated to the depth charges. At 1910 a second periscope was sighted astern, and Nickel dropped another pattern of depth charges, subsequently reporting that an explosion unrelated to the effect of the depth charges had occurred, and that it was assumed that the second sub had been destroyed.

These missiles were "kaiten" suicide submarines, which have been described as "not so much a ship as an insertion of a human being into a very large torpedo." Launched from full-size submarines, they were essentially a standard 24-inch Type-93 torpedo, with the mid-section elongated to create a space for a pilot, who sat in a canvas chair practically on the deck of the craft, a crude periscope directly in front of him, and the necessary controls close to hand in the cockpit. The propulsion unit was in the tail, and the nose was packed with 3000 pounds of high explosive.

The commander of the mother submarine, the I-58 (the sub which torpedoed and sank U.S.S. Indianapolis (CA-35) on 29 July 1945), is reported to have believed that Oak Hill was a seaplane tender. The kaiten launched against Oak Hill were apparently the last such weapons to be launched in the war.

Official word that the war had ended reached Oak Hill when she was anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, and was anticlimactic: the gunnery celebration which occurred was far less than that had been observed at Okinawa. The crew of Oak Hill were gratified nonetheless.

Although she had been ticketed to go to Espiritu Santo to discharge her MTB skids, Oak Hill unloaded them at Guinan, on the Island of Samar, and proceeded to Iloilo, Panay Island to load cargo for another operation. On 29 August she loaded boats, cargo and personnel of the 532nd Boat and Shore Regiment, Second Engineer Special Brigade, as well as men of the 40th Infantry Division. In company with an escort, U.S.S. Crosley (APD-87), she then proceeded to Okinawa, encountering off Luzon the worst typhoon of her experience, surpassing that met in October 1944. At Okinawa she joined ships of a task unit carrying troops and equipment of the 24th Corps destined for the occupation of Korea. Upon discharging her lading in Jinsen, Korea, she returned to Leyte in company with U.S.S. Parle (DE-708), U.S.S. Lloyd (APD-63), and other APDs.

On 16 September 1945 she was underway for her second trip to Iloilo to load cargo and personnel of the 532nd Boat and Shore Regiment. While in Iloilo, the crew had liberty and enjoyed it greatly, despite the almost complete destruction of the town. For most of the crew, this was the first visit to what can be called a town in over 15 months.

Oak Hill was underway again for Jinsen, Korea on 18 September in company with U.S.S. Lloyd (APD-63), U.S.S. Seminole (AKA-104), and U.S.S. Torrance (AKA-76). Upon discharging her cargo in Jinsen, she proceeded independently to Leyte to effect much-needed repairs.
After repairs were accomplished, some of which occurred while the ship was in dry dock, Oak Hill loaded boats and crews destined for Korean Service Group and Service Division 101. She sailed for Jinsen, Korea on 24 October and arrived on 1 November.

After discharging her lading, she embarked LCVPs and their crews for transportation to Tsingtao, China. Calling first in Weihaiwei, she arrived in Tsingtao on 5 November. Upon discharging the lading, the crew enjoyed two days of liberty in Tsingtao and the ship then sailed for Jinsen, Korea.

Oak Hill spent a month in Jinsen repairing small landing craft, as well as LSMs and LCSs, which are ocean-going vessels. The crew also enjoyed liberty, which included several hunting trips in the hill country behind the port. The officers proved the best hunters: they returned with pheasants, while the enlisted men returned with nothing but wild tales.

On 17 November 1945, the date this history ends, the crew bade farewell to CAPT Carl A. Peterson, USNR, of Beverly Hills, CA, Oak Hill’s commanding officer since commissioning. (Captain Peterson was promoted to four-stripe rank while serving in Oak Hill.) He was relieved by LT Raymond C. Russell, of San Francisco, CA, a former merchant marine officer, who had also been aboard since commissioning, serving first as First Lieutenant and then as Executive Officer.

Guadalcanal (poem)


Longer and longer shadows will obscure them, until their
Guadalcanal sounds distant on the ear like Shiloh and Valley Forge.

James A. Michener, Tales of the South Pacific, 1948

The name sounds distant on the ear,
as some chroniclers foretold,
although an epoch in any proper reading -
half a year of unremitting struggle
whose outcome teetered, momentous,

in the balance, before the Japanese withdrew;
at sea, combat the most savage in the history
of the navies of America and Japan, desperate
battles in "The Slot," Iron Bottom Sound,
and many other deep-sea scenes;

and on the island itself, bloody fighting between
Japanese soldiers and the First Marine Division
(whose patch with pride proclaims still
its birth in battle there: "Guadalcanal");
and in the air, combats by day and night

between the improvised "Cactus Air Force"
at Henderson Field (the raison de, whose use by
the Japanese the campaign sought to foil),
and the Zeros, Bettys, Vals and Rufes
of the Japanese 11th Air Fleet.

The deeds of some who fought in that arena,
American and Japanese, are written down,
but thousands fell without a trace to mark
their feats and sacrifice, and those left standing
at the fighting’s end, who did not perish

in later strife, are mostly gone by now,
timed out by Nature’s relentless clock,
the service of even those who survived
the war rarely noted at their deaths.
My friend Saul was one such warrior

who, leaving the Navy, lived life to the lees -
married, sired two daughters, and became a judge -
but, even in an ambience of collegiality, never
told his brethren of his involvement in the
the twists and turns of that bloody battleground.

In retirement, and nearing his end,
this self-effacing man disclosed to a friend
the role he played in that campaign in 1942.
Like Justice Holmes, he may have been as proud
of his martial career as his later life in law.

A tin can sailor, Saul owned a plank in
U.S.S. Buchanan (second of her name), a destroyer
present at the Battle of Savo Island (the greatest
defeat ever suffered by the United States Navy)
and at the Battle of Cape Esperance,

in which our fleet fared better, sinking
the Japanese heavy cruiser Furutaka, an event
to which Buchanan’s torpedoes, fired on the order
of her torpedo officer (Saul Benjamin by name),
made a potent contribution.

Let those who read of the passing of any of the
heroes still among us who fought on land or sea
in the "Canal" campaign, raise a glass to all
who fought, including Saul, and may all such men
"Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red."

James M. Moose

The Wartime Service of Saul Benjamin

The Wartime Service of Saul Benjamin

The Sacramento Bee of April 30, 2004 published the obituary of Saul Benjamin, who expired in Sacramento on April 23, 2004. He was 89.

For five years Saul was my colleague as an "author" of appellate opinions of the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board in Sacramento. He was gentle, humane, friendly and self-effacing, and I never learned that he was a naval officer during WWII, as revealed in the obituary. He was the torpedo officer on USS Buchanan (DD 484) during the Guadalcanal battles of 1942, when things were going hot and heavy for the U. S. Navy. Iron Bottom Sound, the last resting place of a number of American ships, got its name from that campaign. It is my view that Saul's service deserves more notoriety than its brief mention in the obit. Accordingly, I have set out below the history of the ship in which he served.

History of U. S. S. Buchanan (DD-484)

USS Buchanan (DD-484), second of her name [a third is now in service] was one of 64 destroyers of the Livermore Class of 1938-1941. She was launched 22 November 1941 by Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N. J.; sponsored by Miss Hildreth Meiere, great-granddaughter of Admiral Buchanan; and commissioned 21 March 1942, Lt. Cdr. R. E. Wilson in command.

Buchanan got underway for the Pacific 28 May 1942. She played an effective role in the landings at Guadalcanal and Tulagi (7-9 August) and on 9 August she was present during the Battle of Savo Island and rescued many survivors of Astoria (CA-34), Quincy (CA-39), Vincennes (CA-44), and HMAS Canberra, sunk during the battle. In September she escorted Wasp (CV-7) and other units to Noumea, New Caledonia. Shortly there after, as part of TF 64.2, Buchanan assisted in the occupation of Funafuti Island in the Ellice Islands.

On the night of 11-12 October, as a unit of TG 64.2 Buchanan took part in the Battle of Cape Esperance. On 12 November the destroyer was damaged during the initial stages of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal when she was accidentally hit by U. S. naval gunfire. She suffered the loss of five of her crew and had to withdraw from the action. After undergoing repairs, she was assigned to convoy escort duty until February 1943.

After leave in Sydney, Australia, Buchanan joined the screen of TF 15. On 30 April 1943, while screening in convoy, the ship ran aground off the southern coast of Guadalcanal and, after jettisoning heavy gear and ammunition, she was eased off the reef by three tugs. She proceeded to Espiritu Santo New Hebrides, for repairs. Repairs completed, she participated in the New Georgia Group operations (30 June-13 July) and while under heavy attack she effectively bombarded the enemy shore batteries during the invasion of Rendova. She participated in the bombardment of Munda (12 July) and the Battle of Kolombangara (13 July). Buchanan was damaged when she collided with Woodworth (DD-460) during the latter engagement and retired to Noumea for repairs. During the ensuing months, Buchanan convoyed ships to Noumea, Espiritu Santo, and Guadalcanal. She participated in the Treasury-Bougainville operation (1-11 November), taking part in the Rabaul and Buka-Bonis strikes. Next, as a unit of TF 38, she bombarded Shortland Island and Bougainville (8 and 13 January 1944). On 22 January, while going to the rescue of the torpedoed oiler Cache (AO-67), Buchanan hunted down and sank the Japanese submarine RO-37 in 11°47' S., 164°17' E.

During February the destroyer participated in various phases of the Bismarck Archipelago operation (15 February-1 March). She covered the Green Island landings and took an active part in the bombardment of Kavieng, Rabaul, and New Ireland before steaming to the United States to undergo a yard overhaul at Mare Island.

Upon completion of overhaul and refresher training, Buchanan returned to the Pacific and served with the transport screen during the assault and capture of the southern Palaus (6 September-14 October 1944) . She next participated in the strikes against Luzon between 14 and 16 December. On 18 December she was damaged by a typhoon in the Philippine Sea. Upon completion of repairs she engaged in attacks on Luzon, Formosa, and the China coast (6-16 January 1945) in support of the Luzon operation. During the remainder of World War II she participated in the Iwo Jima invasion (15 February-5 March ), Okinawa operation and supporting 3d and 5th Fleet raids (16 March-30 June); as well as the 3d Fleet operations against Japan (10 July -15 August 1945).

On 29 August she entered Tokyo Bay escorting South Dakota (BB-57). On 1 September she carried Fleet Admirals Nimitz and Halsey from their respective flagships to Yokohama where they met with General MacArthur and then returned them to the fleet. The following day she carried General MacArthur to Missouri (BB-63) where he accepted the Japanese surrender and then returned him to Yokohama. [This service was almost certainly in recognition of the ship's hard knocks and the fact that she was a survivor of the Battle of Savo Island, the greatest defeat ever suffered by the U. S. Navy.] She remained on occupation duty in the Far East until 8 October and then departed for San Francisco where she arrived 20 October. Buchanan steamed to Charleston, S. C. for pre-inactivation overhaul and went out of commission in reserve there 21 May 1946.

Buchanan was recommissioned 11 December 1948 at Charleston and underwent shakedown and refresher training with a nucleus Turkish crew aboard. On 29 March 1949 she got underway for Golcuk, Turkey, where she was turned over to the Turkish Navy 28 April 1949.

Buchanan received the Presidential Unit Citation and 16 battle stars for her World War II service.