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Taken from The Gorgon, April, 2004

Memories of Japan
By Bill Bradfield

When we left Okinawa on September 27, 1945 we knew that we were going to Japan - but not sure of just where - this was below decks. Of course, the wardroom knew and in time so did we. On the way, we spent a good amount of time on sharp lookout for mines - some floating free after long years of subjection to the vagaries of wind, tide and typhoon. Our chance came to kill a few - although hitting them with our 2Ormn AA shots took a bit of time. I recall being glad that they weren't Jap planes. No damage was done to us in the process, however.

We stayed out of the harbor at Sasebo, anchoring outside (memory is poor here! and went into the inner harbor by small boat. I recall being told that the inner harbor was so heavily mined that it was unsafe for the ship to go in. Is anyone's recollection much clearer? The boat put us ashore on a ramp, leading up to a road, which seemed to be spread with reddish pebbles. We were told that this road had been macadamized, but that the tar had burned during the fire raids, leaving only the filler! The road up into the city was lined with the remains of small shops, it seemed. Only the burned out safes, sitting on a few bricks, remained of those wooden structures.

Fraternization was banned of course, along with outward displays of Yankee aggression. No worry. I don't recall hearing of one incident of hostility while we were there (although there was, I believe, some fraternization!) The ban on removing sewage from the drains puzzled us until we saw women, with poles on their shoulders balancing buckets of night soil, lately bailed out of the manholes, on their way to spread it on the household food gardens

Kure and Sasebo seemed much the same - with Kure the more interesting because of the presence of the Japanese Naval Academy there. From there came the Jap rifles we were issued as souvenirs to take home. It was there that Commander Paul Schratz, (of "Schratz's Raiders'' fame) with the assistance of a EURYALE gunner's mate who was THAT?), managed to blow up a large building near the dry docks and then sign for it with Gen'l. MacArthur's name. Some Kempetai lost his job over that. (See "SUBMARINE COMMANDER", Schratz's book, published by the University Press of Kentucky before his death about 10 years ago). By the way there are some interesting stories in that book about his time on EURYALE, including the great ride home with the surrendered Jap subs. (I am, however, not sorry to have missed that!)

In Sasebo, I recall, we heard about a Catholic Church in the city. It seemed a good idea to seek it out and so we did. The Pastor was, I believe, a Belgian Jesuit priest, by then more Japanese than Belgian. A group of us went to Mass there, arriving at least 30 minutes before the appointed time. We found the place undamaged, full of people on tatami mats, men to the left and women to the right, all praying away assiduously on their rosaries. We removed our shoes, placed them in the appointed boxes outside the door and stood in the rear. Not a head turned to us. The service, which began a half hour later was in Japanese, of which we understood not one word.

Those of us with some high school Latin had hoped to hear Latin but we were sadly disappointed. However, we tried to follow along. When Mass was over, we went to the Rectory - the Pastor's English was equal to our Japanese. I tried my high school French on him with some minor success. On leaving we had achieved a different view of Japan and the people who had suffered such terrible leadership for so long. We still remembered PEARL HARBOR however, and still do!

Who can forget the sight in the harbor- a group of brand new Japanese destroyers swinging to a buoy, trapped there because of mines and fuel shortages? Weren't they gorgeous ships - and not a threat! The perimeter of the harbor lined with beached and burned carriers, cruisers, destroyers-even one of the older Japanese battleships with its immense turrets blown up out of their barbettes, muzzles hanging down in the water. What a blast it took to do that!

I left EURYALE from Sasebo on November 6. 1945, coming home on USS ANDROMEDA (AKA 15), after artfully avoiding transfer to a cruiser whose evaporators had failed- giving almost the entire crew dysentery. What a sight that was! My recollection is that they were taking only Hospital Apprentices to "stop it up" and non-petty officers to mop it up . I was, happily, neither.

ANDROMEDA had been hastily converted to bring people home. One look below decks convinced me to avoid the crammed troop decks, which were 7 and 8 racks deep! I volunteered to work as a Radioman for the ship, in exchange for a berth in crew's quarters, which was only half-full. This worked out well, only three of us dot-dash people to do the work- so we worked chow and chow all the way the States without incident (and without water rationing. which held sway in the troop decks). No other incidents - except for the alcoholic beverage (raisin wine?) found brewing in a water breaker on a raft by the bridge. We newcomers were obviously innocent - it was already fermenting. To our knowledge, the brewmaster (oenologist?) was never found - he must have left, having more points than we did. He was probably a Quartermaster!

> En route, we were diverted to Seattle from San Francisco (it was full of returnees) and arrived on Thanksgiving night, out of food - turkey soup and salt crackers for Thanksgiving dinner that day- but who cared. Gone for over two years, many of us had large lumps in throats as we saw Mount~ Whitney on the skyline.

Home by train- a great memory is the side-of-the-tracks milk and cookies reception, at a small town in Idaho. Late night, cold as blazes, and months after the war had ended- there were those wonderful ladies, still

Discharged at Sampson, N.Y., on December 7, 1945, just 4 years to the day after that awful Sunday morning. Back to school, back to work and - best of all- back to Jeanne.

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