He fought aboard destroyer USS Beale at Battle of Philippine Sea and Okinawa

Ray Pomeroy was 17 in 1943 and had just graduated from boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center outside Chicago when this picture was taken. Photo provided

From the pages of the diary he kept aboard  the destroyer he served on– the USS Beale (DD-471) — Ray Pomeroy of Rotonda, Fla. was able to recreate two of the biggest sea battles of World War II he fought in: The Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Okinawa.

“I was in the Number-4 Lower Handling Room in the bowels of the ship passing five-inch shells up to the guns. It was hot as hell. I was part of MacArthur’s navy for the next six months off New Guinea,” the 86-year-old former sailor said. “The ship would get up to speed and zig-zag. When our main guns went off there was a terrible roar.

This is Ray Pomeroy’s diary he kept while serving aboard the USS Beale during the Second World War. It was against Navy regulations to have a personal account like this, but he kept it anyway. Sun photo by Don Moore

His diary picks up his story from there: “Dec. 23, 1943: Big Day, fleet went into action for the first time. We heard our guns open up and I began to get scared. After the first bark of our guns I was okay.

“USS Brownson (DD-518) sunk by Jap bombardment. She was struck between her stacks and went down in 15 minutes. She was in our destroyer squadron,” he wrote as a teenage sailor more than 65 years ago.

A downed American pilot is pulled out of the sea by sailors from Pomeroy’s destroyer. He said the aviator lost his toes in the crash. Photo provided

“The biggest battle I was involved in was the Battle of the Philippine Sea. By then they found out I was a quartermaster. They put me on the bridge steering the ship during general quarters.

A destroyer is framed by the five-inch main guns of Ray Pomeroy’s destroyer USS Beale (DD-471), off Leyte in the Philippines. His ship was part of Supreme Commander South Pacific Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s fleet. Photo provided

“There were two Japanese fleets coming toward Leyte trying to break up the American invasion of that Philippine island. It was late October 1944 and our group was headed south for the Surigao Strait to face Vice Adm. Kiyohide Shima’s fleet.

Nothing is left of Nagasaki, Japan in a picture Pomeroy has in his collection. Sailors on his destroyer visited the city decimated by the second Atomic Bomb dropped by the U.S. Air Force ending the Second World War. This was a few weeks after the bombing. Photo provided

“This is when we attacked a Japanese battleship. We fired five torpedoes at three battleships. According to the people aboard our ship two of our torpedoes hit. The history books say all our torpedoes missed,” Pomeroy explained.

Ray and a buddy take in easy aboard ship somewhere in the Pacific during World War II. He is the sailor on the right. Photo provided

“There were more than 100 torpedoes fired from our fleet toward the Japanese fleet. During the battle two of their battleships blew up,” he said. “After our torpedo run all our cruisers were in a semi-circle firing their six and eight inch guns at the Japanese. When the cruisers got the range you could see their shells flying through the air and landing smack on target.

“Behind the cruisers were six American battleships, some of whom we recovered from Pearl Harbor,” the old salt said with satisfaction.

By the time the shooting ceased the Japanese had suffered a resounding defeat at the Surigao Strait. What was left of the emperor’s fleet retreated toward Japan and safer waters. The American amphibious landing on Leyte was saved from Japanese destruction.

The Beale and other ships in the fleet returned to the U.S. for repair.

For days Okinawa was shelled by the American fleet, as shown in this picture, before United States Marines hit the beach. Despite the intensive shelling 12,500 Americans lost their lives and 36,900 were wounded during the 82-day battle. The Japanese lost 95,000 defenders and another 10,000 were captured. Photo provided.

“When we reached San Francisco I got a 30-day leave to go home. I took a 19-hour flight from San Francisco to New York,” Pomeroy said. “It was the first time I had ever been in a plane. When we took off I was so excited my toes were digging a hole in the belly of that airplane.”

When he and the Beale sailed under the Golden Gate for the war zone they were headed for Okinawa and the biggest battle in the Pacific during World War II.

“The big attack started for us about 3 p.m., April 6, 1945. That’s when three Jap torpedo bombers came in low, about six feet off the water, on our port bow,” he said. “We opened up with everything we had on the three torpedo planes. We splashed two of the planes. The third one kept coming and getting bigger and bigger. She finally went down 3,000 yards off our port bow.

“Shortly thereafter we joined the fleet. We were no more in position when we were surrounded by Jap planes that kept coming at us from all directions. The destroyer beside us was hit by a Kamikaze amidship and burst into flames,” he said.

Pomeroy and the Beale stayed off shore during the entire 82 day battle for Okinawa and escaped without sustaining serious enemy damage. After the second American Atomic Bomb obliterated Nagasaki and the Japanese surrendered aboard the Battleship Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945, the Beale was dispatched to Sasebo, Japan.

“One of the days we were at Sasebo they decided to take all the sailors from the Beale to see Nagasaki. We went by Army truck. There was nothing left of Nagasaki,” Pomeroy remembered six decades later.

Like millions of other men and women who served in World War II, Pomeroy took advantage of the G.I. Bill and went to college. He graduated with an engineering degree. For the next 31 years Pomeroy worked for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad retiring as a railroad superintendent.

He and his wife, Betty, have been married 57 years. They have two children: David and Laura, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.


This story first appeared in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, March 19, 2012 and is republished with permission.

Click here to view the War Tales fan page on Facebook.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.


Comments

  1. My Dad was also aboard the US Beale. He was Chief Glenn Marble in the engine room for a full 3 years. He spoke of going to Nagasaki after it was bombed.. My brother and I always blamed our strange illnesses on our Nagasaki genes ..I was born in 1949..lol my brother 3 years prior. My dad passed with Alzheimers…He loved talking about the war but at the time, we kids did not want to keep hearing it lol. I have a lamp he made while passing time in the engine room. It is made of brass shells.He die tapped a picture of a sea plane and the Beale on to the main shell.. The main part of the lamp is from a 40mm shell. My brother passed from ALS a few years back..

  2. My grandfather was Glenn A. Marble & he also served on the USS Beale during WWII. I find it interesting that your story confirms many of the stories he told us, especially the story about Nagasaki. I call that THE NAGASAKI EXPERIMENT as my grandfather said they were NOT forewarned of the dangers of the radiation until they got back to the USS Beale AFTER they had been in Nagasaki all day. The Navy then informed the men who had gone that the Navy would have to follow their health “to look out for them” for the rest of their lives! And sure enough the Navy did do periodic physical exams on my grandfather for the rest of his life & now we have had a multitude of BIRTH DEFECTS in our family…I for one was born with 1 MEGA-Kidney, one male cousin with Tetralogy of Fallot, one nephew with Gastroschisis, & another nephew with Craniosynostosis!!! This is no different than the Tuskegee Experiment except our families have never been compensated!

    I am curious to ask if you remember my grandfather???
    thanks
    Ben Marble, M.D.

  3. I am Glenn Marble’s oldest daughter who was born during the war. I was born in June 17,1942. Mom took me to New York to see my Dad for the first time. His ship was in port for repairs that he had to do in the engine room. We had a short visit with him. I have photos of him in his uniform holding me. A slight correction to what my nephew said. The Navy NEVER followed up to make sure his health was ok through the years. The VA wouldn’t even give him hearing aids when he was losing his hearing due to the extremely loud engine noise, at the time they told him, it was not covered. So; he and my Mom had to pay for the hearing aids the best they could. My Dad had the long Alzheimer’s that lasted 15 years. I was his caregiver after my Mom died. Dad was in the Navy 14 years.

  4. Dad (Glenn Allen Marble Jr.) retired from Civil Service Dept. at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL after working 35 years. He was also born on in their home on the Naval Base in 1917. His death was in 2002 and he is buried at Barrancas Military Cemetery on the Naval Base.

  5. Sorry to keep adding comments but there was no way I could add it after I submitted the others. I have a 12 page report written by Lieutenant Buell M. Brooks, USNR, Squadron Communicator, Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Four. A Lt. J.G. R.S. Baker USNR that was in New York sent it to my Dad in 1945. I have it in a report folder with the plastic covers to protect it. I am going to turn it over to our Navy Museum on our Naval Air Station Base.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s