John Raggie, QM1c

Quartermaster 1st Class John Raggie served aboard the Beale during WW2. In 2007, at the Frankenmuth Reunion, John stood with other WW2 veterans to share his recollections of his time on the Beale. The following

from John's hand written notes is his personal account of the Cape Gloucester invasion.

 

A map of the area is furnished for your reference.

2007 - Frankenmuth

QM1 - Right Arm  Ribbons Earned 1942-1946

Cape Gloucester Invasion

December 26, 1943

New Britain Island             John Raggie, QM 1/C

 

 

Prior to invasion of cape Gloucester, New Britain, (I) went ashore in Buna (New Guinea) for the operation folder for the invasion. Returned to the ship, met in Executive Officer’s stateroom with Mr. Bentley. We took our part of the operation out of the folder. We made 3 copies, 1 - CIC, 1 - Bridge, 1 – Main battery director.

 

This was a few weeks prior to the invasion. Some of my men knew what I was doing. Couldn’t tell them what was coming up.

 

Underway from Bora, New Guinea with some landing craft, stopped at Finschaffen added more landing craft all loaded with troops. We were escorting the 2nd wave of troops and landing craft.

                                                         John Raggie

Japanese radio correspondent Tokyo Rose told us they knew where we were going and would be waiting for us.

As we got into the area the cruisers and DD’s left to go back to New Guinea.

I asked Captain Cochran what a loss of firepower.

 

John Raggie, QM1/C

The first group consisted of the 7th Fleet cruisers Nashville, Phoenix, Boise and 2 Australian cruisers Shropshia and Australia and 2 DD’s, Arunta and Warramunga with other American DD’s.

As we came in range of Cape Gloucester, we could hear the noises of shell fire.

The Jap planes came from Rabaul on New Britain and Admiralty Island North. (This was) the First Attack. They also came from New Guinea, Madang and Wewak. This was the 2nd Attack

The beale was fighter Control ship for our land based planes coming from bases in New Guinea. John Raggie.

They carried auxiliary gas tanks and when they were empty dropped them. We were fighter control ship and directed our planes to the incoming japs keeping some to protect the invasion ships

 

John Raggie, QM 1/C

About 80 planes made the first attack. High level bombers, torpedo engine attacked DD’s and fighters, machine gunned ships and landing area, Dive bombers attacked nearby DD’s.

 

We sent our planes after the largest group which came from Rabaul, New Britain consisted of High level bombers, Dive bombers, torpedo planes & fighters. We kept many planes over us protecting ships & landing craft.

 

John Raggie

Our planes accounted for 40 planes of the 80. Many got through from that attack.

 

50 Jap Planes got through, some attack our squadron of DD’s, some the troops.

 

The QM on bridge was taking bearings on incoming Jap Planes with an “Alidade” for fire control. He forgot to remove the Alidade from magnet compass. The 5 inch (gun) concussions blew the instrument into the ocean.

 

John Raggie, QM 1/C

We formed a column Bronson, Beale, Shaw, Benson, Bagley 35 knots 100’ apart. Each ship peeled right and left to be broadside to incoming planes set up a wall of flak for the planes to run into.

 

When the Jap planes hit us I was following the Bronson in column. A Dive Bomber came on us. Our fire drive him off. He hit the Bronson between the stacks splitting her in half. Other DD’s saved what men they could.

John Raggie QM 1/C

We continued to be fighter control ship.

 

My battle station was the wheel, Capt. & I had cotton in our ears. I had to know the gyro and magnet course. When the 5” would fire the gyro would go off.

 

During the first attack Shaw, Daly severely damaged and several other DD’s out of commission.

We shot down 2 Zekes & Aichi at least 4 this attack.

 

John Raggie, QM 1/C

The skipper and I were the people with cotton in our ears.

Capt. J.B. Cochran would stand on the flying bridge watch dive bombers when the dropped, he would give me a turn and run to the other side of bridge. My change from Port to Starboard stretched out to hatch to hear the next order.

Our practice with carrier Essex paid off.

 

Several planes got over us P47 dropped Auxiliary gas tanks we fired they did not have I.F.F. but radioed us they were on our side.

 

After the first air attack, we moved closer to the beach. I put one of my men on the wheel. Grabbed a pair of binoculars to look. Watch(ed) a bulldozer push over a pillbox. Driver stood up with 2 carbines and killed Japs. John Raggie, QM 1/C

There came a tap on my shoulder. J.B. Cochran said “If you really want to go to the beach, I can arrange it.”

2nd Plane Attack

 

Lull in battle. Several damaged ships left for New Guinea.

 

 

Second plane attack came from Madang and Wewak, New Guinea.

 

Jap dive bombers, torpedo bombers fighters they attacked the DD and ships.

 

One Betty bomber 2 torpedoes started to run on us. First fish we evaded turn to port then turned to starboard plane turned too!

Skipper said “Clear the Bridge”, still the bomber came on. He was on port flying bridge. Our P38’s were trying to shoot it down. The P38 could not slow down enough to bring it down. Our 40 mm and 20 mm were.

 

I could see both pilots slumped over. Whole front of the plane open. Just before it would have hit the bridge, it nosed over, tails hitting deck below bridge. John Raggie QM 1/C.

We shot down 2 torpedo bombers. Reports not one Jap plane returned from this attack.

We stayed at battle stations rest of day.

 

 

(over)   Note: this is last page of notes.