Thursday, April 3, 2008

a 60 day wonder

USS LST-312 Launched December 30, 1942
Commissioned January 99, 1943

Pat called late this afternoon. I took some notes but didn't take as much as I should've. He went over the email he sent me yesterday. There's a lot more to come in the coming months, mostly pieces to a puzzle that I'll fit together in chronological order when I feel I've gathered enough history to tie the strings together. This blog has been helpful in gathering email, and posting my Google findings. Please bare with me, I am posting everything find out there on the world wide web. If there are inconsistencies, I hope to iron them out in time. Take for instance the rocket bomb incident in Deptford, England. There are some sources that state that it was a V1 that hit the USS LST-312 and other sources state that a V2 was the culprit. I'm going to just keep posting and researching and see what comes of the venture. I welcome those who've Googled themselves to this blog - those who have stumbled across me online while searching for the wake of their father's ship. I welcome your input, your correction, your submission, your much welcomed connection, your piece to this story's telling.

Pat spoke today of his earliest days in the war. As mentioned in an earlier post, Pat went to Navy officers training corps at Princeton (N.J.). Pat said that because of the rush to get officers to the front, he was what you would call a 60 day wonder (as opposed to the 90 day wonders). That's right, Pat went in the front door and came out two months later an Ensign. Pat said that promptly upon graduation, he was charged to the newly built USS LST-312. Newly built was right - Pat arrived to find workmen at the ship's ramp and workmen aboard the ship still riveting her together.

Upon boarding the LST-312, Pat met a handful of other wonders. A ranking officer was there telling who was going to be who and what who was going to be doing where. The officer in charge asked Pat what was his major in college. Pat told him that his major was in journalism. The officer told Lt. Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson that he was now the ship's Communications Officer - yep, just like that! So Pat was over all the ships communications, from the signal man to radioman. As mentioned in an earlier entry, Pat's final rank was that of Lieutenant Commander.

Pat said that they all fell into the routine of keeping watch four hours at a time. They were 'on" four hours and were "off" eight. Sailors enjoyed mail call and uncle Pat was no exception. He enjoyed getting news from home via V-Mail (Victory Mail). He said that he would sometime receive the occasional care package of a six pack of six ounce Coca-Colas from one of his sisters. I meant to ask him if it was Rutha that sent him the Cokes. Aunt Rutha couldn't go a day without a Coke.

Pat said the his older brother, Chief Warrant Officer, Murdoch was in the same flotilla (not on the same ship) that Pat was. James Murdoch Finlayson had a real important job...he was the guy that wrote the paychecks for the fleet. I'm sure he got a lot of love and respect from everyone. Anyway, Pat said that Murdoch was in the same flotilla during both the North Africa Campaign and the Normandy Invasion. There were times when Murdoch would visit Pat, and if docked, would go and have coffee or lunch together. Pat said that he went to visit Murdoch at his office while the 312 was moored at Deptford. I know that was nice to spend time with a brother - being so far away from home.

Regarding the Deptford bombing - the officers drew straws to see who would stay aboard ship on watch and who would get liberty. It was that luck of the draw that Pat got off the ship the day the rocket bomb hit the 312 - hit right over his stateroom, killing his friend. I believe it was the day that Pat had ventured toward Piccadilly Circus with Lt. Braman, (from Connecticut).

Pat, please correct me via blog comment or e-mail if I am wrong.

We covered various ground today and I will post more tidbits as I rehash the phone conversation in my head. I know that I am being a little redundant with some of the information in these posts. Sometimes I may retell an event, just to add a new piece. Please indulge me, as I am pulling it all together and sometimes you have to move the same factoid around on the table in order to positon into the correct context and moment.
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