manley osborne



steward Mates and the Alcohol

In World War II we had been at sea a long time.   We never had enough of canned orange juice on the ship so mostly it was rationed to the pilots.  It was served in their ready rooms while they were being briefed on their next flight.  The steward mates had custody of the juice.  There were many black steward mates who cooked and served the officer food, made the beds, and so forth.   Now the enlisted airplane mechanics decided that they would like some of this orange juice controlled by the steward mates.  The mechanics had access to some alcohol.  So one day the mechanics and steward mates made a deal.  They would swap what each wanted.  That night the steward mates had a big party drinking alcohol.  But they started getting sick.  They were afraid to turn themselves into sick bay because they knew they would be in trouble. But then one of them died.   They all made a dash to sick bay.  They had been drinking methyl alcohol rather than ethyl alcohol.  Several more died and the rest could not work.  The officers beds went unmade and they had to eat cafeteria style at the enlisted mess for several days.  I do not remember the punishment awarded, but I am sure the steward mates got off lightly.  I trust the mechanics were punished severely for knowingly furnishing the methyl alcohol. 



The Dirty Bombs

I have heard of similar stories happening currently in 2001 but this is a true story from 1945.  The aviation gunners must get up very early in the dark morning to install fuses on the bombs, which themselves may be left on deck at night.  The gunners noted that in the dark they were getting some very stinky stuff on their hands.  This went on for a couple of mornings then the gunners decided to do something about it.  They put out guards to determine what was going on.   They caught a culprit urinating and defecating on a bomb.  They took him to Captain's Mast.  His story was that he wanted to crap on the Japanese and that was his way of doing it.  The Captain was not amused.



My flight as Gunnery Officer

We had been in the Bremerton Ship Yard for some time for repairs.  We got underway and were supposed to test some new ammunition the next day.  We got a message that another carrier nearby had just tested it and the gun mount blew up, killing a number of men.  We checked with the other carrier and we had exactly the same lot number of ammunition.  I did not want to test it, but the Captain wanted to do it anyway since he was anxious to get back to the war zone.  So we made a compromise.  I would go ashore and call up the experts at the Bureau of Ordnance.  In those days we had no ship to shore phones.  But how was I to get ashore?  The Captain noted that we had an old torpedo plane on board that the pilots had been flying from the Kitsap County airport to get their flight time in.  this plane was too old for combat.  The plane had a seat for only the pilot so the Captain decided I would act like a torpedo and be stored in the torpedo bay in the bottom of the plane.  They strapped me in a sort of hammock and closed the torpedo door.  It was dark in there.  They put the plane on the catapult and fired.  I heard rivets popping everywhere, the catapult was too much stress for the old plane.  But we did get to the airport, the pilot got me out of the torpedo bay and I called the Bureau of Ordnance.  They said it was just a freak accident on the other carrier and that we should test the ammunition.  The pilot strapped me back in the torpedo bay, we took off and then we had to make a carrier landing.  I could not tell what was going on, but all of a sudden the plane bumped and stopped quickly.  I knew we were back on the carrier.  I reported to the Captain.  This was my first and last carrier landing.  We tested the ammunition without problems.  We sailed for the war zone.



Copyright 1998 by Patty Cannon all rights reserved