Young Men of the Beale

 

The Young Men of the Beale was selected as the title for the task as it truly describes the men who served aboard the U.S.S Beale DD/DDE-471. We were all young men. The youngest Boots were 17 in 1942. Some may have been younger. And, we must have had some salty old Chiefs who might have been in their 50’s. Today, in 2016,  our youngest shipmate who was 17 in 1968 is now 65. And our oldest, the Plankowners of 1942 would have to be about 90. When giving some thought to the “ages”, we were indeed The Young Men of the Beale. And, our current ages notwithstanding, we still are.

 

While we continue to be The Young Men of the Beale, we are aging. Before long and if we don’t document our memories, the memories will have vanished. Hopefully this ongoing project will safeguard the history of the Beale and her crews.

 
 

Navy Life

Ashore & Aboard the Beale

by Charles H. Harvey, SN, 1952-1953

Tales and “sea stories” of  my time on the Beale and my many years as a merchant seaman

In Baltimore 1951, I bought my father a box of cigars to get him to sign my enlistment papers. I wanted to leave Baltimore’s rough streets in the wake of a ship on an adventure to see the world. I joined the U.S. Navy.

 

Boot Camp was at Bainbridge, MD. Bainbridge had been reopened because of the Korean War. It was wartime and wintertime in old WWII barracks. There was very little heat. Everyone got sick. They would wake us up at night to give us pills. Only recently I have wondered what was in those pills. I had not gotten sick. But, when in the middle of the night, with guys coughing and sneezing, and a group of Navy Corps men, wake you up to take a pill, you take the pill.

USNTC Bainbridge -- Recruit Barracks photo from 1954 Compass book. Notice smoke rising from the chimney, it appears each barracks still maintained its own coal fired heating system. Again observe the ladder like "decoration" at the ends of the barracks; these were actually fire escape ladders.

.Because I had joined the Navy Reserves at Fort McHenry prior to active duty, they made me 2nd platoon leader. I was proud to have the responsibility of leading so many recruits.

Five of us from Bainbridge reported to the USS Beale DDE 471 in CEP (Convoy Escort Pier) Norfolk Harbor. The Skipper’s was CDR. F. H. Price Jr. The Executive Officer was LCDR E.B. Herndon III. I was in the second Division led by Ens. R. A. Topp. In my Division, I remember David Nieves, Herman Booth and a good friend, Frank Randall, who was also from Baltimore. Among the crew, I especially remember: Dick Dwigans, Bill Jones and many others.

The first cruise we made was a shakedown cruise after the Beale had been re-commissioned from DD (Destroyer) to DDE 471 (Destroyer Escort.) The following is a map of our cruises.

After staying in Norfolk for several weeks, we headed for the Caribbean. first port San Juan, Puerto Rico

Then we sailed on to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and Kingston, Jamaica.

Not all our time in the Navy was on shore leave. We worked every day. We chipped paint, swept and swabbed the deck, shined the brass, did Look-Out Watch, and emptied the trash over the fantail.

 

When we were able to go ashore, we were proud to wear our Navy uniforms. Civilian clothes were not allowed for the crew in those days. Some of us had our uniforms made special ordered and tailored to fit. We had dragons imprinted on the underside of our cuffs and collars on the dress blues. We had real bell-bottoms with 13 buttons for the 13 original states.

 

Norfolk was home port so we returned there after sailing the Caribbean. We spent a lot of forgettable time in Norfolk. Most sailors know how we felt about that port city.

 

Eventually, we sailed across the Atlantic. The Beale sailed into the Port of Londonderry, Ireland.

 

We were in Derry, as the locals call it not wanting to mention London, for quite a while. We had joint operations with the British Navy. That’s where I met and became friends with two British submariners.

 

A group of us including these two British blokes, Tom and Henry, would walk into town. Henry was the taller of the two and liked his pint. Both of them were on the short side, good for sub duty. To Tom, the idea of a good time was to pick a fight with a Local.

We usually went to drink beer at a pub named The King’s Arms. The King’s Arms was a good sized pub. There was room for dancing and drinking beer. On Sunday’s everything in Derry was closed including the pubs. We would than go across to the Irish Free State side where the pubs were always open.

 

One night at the King’s Arms, Tom started arguing with a Local guy. A minute later Tom was fighting with the Local guy. At first Tom was winning. But later that night, the Local came back and got in the first punch on Tom and the Local won that fight.

 

Tom was so beaten-up that I agreed to help Henry get him back to their Sub. Tom still wanted to fight, but we carried him out. Then we had to help him walk all the way back to their ship and pass the Watch as his Colors (uniform) were pretty bloody. The amazing thing was, you never met a happier submariner than Tom. He had a black eye, a bloody nose, and his uniform was a mess. But he had the biggest grin. “That was a bloody good battle, that was,” he said.

 

There were lots of girls in Londonderry. Many of them were factory workers. They were easy to talk to, and they seemed interested in the life of a sailor. We had met some who walked back with us to see where the Beale was docked. We were all young and had fun making out alongside the train freight cars near the ship. A few of us each took a girl inside the box car to make out. Our liberty was up at midnight, but the girls wanted to see more of the ship. They asked if they could go aboard the Beale with us. “If you get us aboard,” they suggested, “we would tell the Captain that we snuck aboard by ourselves.”

 

“Sure” we told them, “that would be okay then.” We had no intention, no matter how tempting, to let them get us in trouble. The girls regrettably walked back to town.

 

One interesting time after we left Londonderry Port, when we were at sea, the Beale met up with another Destroyer. At that time, to transfer someone from ship to ship, we would rig a high-line transfer. We used a heavy cable and a pulley system containing a basket.

 

A Message from the Skipper: 

 

              I WISH TO CONGRATULATE ALL HANDS ON THEIR EXECLLENT PERFOMANCE DURING THE CARIBBEAN AND MEDITERRANEAN CRUSES X THE BEALE ONCE AGAIN HAD A FINE RECORD PRIMARILY DUE TO YOUR EFFORTS X WELL DONE AND MY BEST WISHES FOR MANY SUCCESSFUL CRUISES IN THE FUTURE X

 

There is still more to tell about my time aboard the USS Beale DDE-471 from 1952 to 1953. Suffice it to say, 60 years later, I have many great memories.

 

Charles H. Harvey

Frank Davidson

Torpedoman - WW-II

 

Frank Davidson, Torpedoman, served on the Beale during WW-II. He participated in the Battle of Surigao Strait when the Beale launched its torpedoes against the Japanese battleship Yamashiro and destroyer Yamagumo. Analysis of battle reports and POW statements clearly indicate Beale's torpedoes and others from accompanying ships of Desron 24 made direct hits on the Japanese ships and caused them to sink.

The following handwritten narrative was sent to Bill Jones a number of years ago. The handwriting was enhanced but still may be difficult to read. Bill thought it would be fitting to include Frank's story in the Young Men of the Beale.

What I Remember About Torpedos

by Frank Davidson

Bill Jones, BMSN

1952 - 1954

 

On our Med cruise, in 1953, we ended up at Cannes, France for the weekend. Everyone had to anchor out, including our division, Beale, Bache, Eaton, and Murray, and a couple of other divisions, consisting of The Cruiser Baltimore,( which was bound for the Coronation of the Queen, of England.) and several other Destroyers, one of which was the Stoddard.


On Sunday night, with all liberty parties safe aboard, a storm built up, with high winds, and rain.
Sometime on the mid watch, the Anchor watch, Fred Reed, reported to the OD, Ens. Topp, that he thought that the closest DD, anchored off our port quarter, was getting closer. The OD, thought the DD was on his anchor swing, but about two hours later, The Stoddard was indeed dragging anchor, crashed into our bow, and came to rest, after crossing their anchor chain over ours, and slamming into the Beale's Starboard side.


Some one rang GENERAL QUARTERS, instead of the collision bells, and as we headed to our battle stations, we were met with the sight of the Stoddard, alongside, as if tied up with us, needing fenders.
The Beale was split at the prow, from about 5 feet below the main deck, to several feet below the waterline. (picture of damaged Beale, from 1953 cruise book).

The decision was made, for the Beale to drop its anchor chain, anchor and all, into the water, which allowed the Stoddard to inch its way forward, while taking the slack out of the chain, and weighing anchor. That day, every ship in the port, left us sitting alone. I cannot remember if we got the anchor back, or left it, but "stages" were put over the sides, at the bow, and the Whale boat, and gig were used to assess our predicament. The bow had to be raised out of the water, so our ship fitters could weld sheets of steel, at the sharpest point of our bow. Oil was shifted from forward tanks, to after tanks, and a couple hundred gallons came out of a breather pipe, somewhere about midships, and ran down the starboard side of the ship, and onto the Beautiful FRENCH RIVIERA. We were stuck there, for the better part of a week, and our French allies had 5 ft high signs, along the beach, letting us know what assholes we were.

After repairs were made, and the oil washed off our ship, we were on our way to the USA, but not as fast as we would have liked. We had to escort a damaged US SUB,(picture from 1953 cruise book) from the AZORES, to a point where the sub headed North, and we could see the outline of our great country, in the distance.m a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. I’m a great place for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.

We were doing about 15 knots, and the ship made a violent turn to starboard, another to port, and a third to starboard again, resuming our western course. We had just averted a terrible tragedy. Mr.Topp had the con, and just sped around another SUB, lying there at periscope depth, and Thank you to our look outs, on the bridge.I have no idea, why sonar was caught off guard, beings that Sub chasing was our everyday job. As far as I can remember, we assumed that it was one of ours, but no one wanted to talk about it, and as far as I know, there was no investigation on the "Near miss". If the guys on that sub had any clean skivvies, it would surprise me, to this day.
 

Our ship fitters were given commendation awards of some kind, but I can`t tell you how that part went.
Chuck Harvey,  Tom Brizzolara, Bill Conrad, Charlie Aulffo, and I, were all part of these SNAFU operations, in 1953.

                                                     Bill Jones

 

 

 

 

Mark Evdemon, RM2

1958-1960

The Mark Evdemon's story could very well be one of the most unique of our shipmates. Born on a rural farm in Africa, he immigrated to the United States then joined the Navy. He lives in Pennsylvania and has attended many of our reunions.

 

This is still a work in Progress!

It is next in line to be completed.

 

Our Shipmates' Albums

 

The Young Men of the Beale recorded their days aboard the Beale with many photos of the ship, their shipmates, themselves, shipboard activities, ports of call and, of course, their "shenanigans". This section is devoted to their albums.

Reserved
 

Bill Jones, BMSN

Larry Harkenreader

 
 

Jules Kenda - WWII

 

Herb Zurfluh - WWII

 

Mark Evdemon, RM2, 1958-60

Is the above a Sea Story or a Fairy Tale?

You can see Mark Evdemon's story by clicking on the link Mark Evdemon.

 

Jack Spencer, SFM3

I was a ship fitter on the Beale. Part of my job was to make ship's  crests  for the officers. The only colored one was in the wardroom It had a broken top. I replaced it with a new one and kept the old one. The gold one was what we gave to officers. The lighter went with me two times to Vietnam, once on the Beale and once on the Newport News. The Beale belt buckle and the lighter followed me from the Beale through three years in the Army. Then, there is picture of a Beale tie clasp.

Finally, the next pictures are of my coat with Beale ship's patch and Anywhere Anytime  patch and the big Vietnam patch on the back. All from the Beale's ship's store.

Thought you might want to see them.

Jack 

George Feifer, ENS

 

II served on the Beale from 1957-1959. This picture was taken during our 1957 cruise to the Middle East. While on this cruise, the Beale steamed south through the Atlantic around South Africa because the Suez Canal was closed. This was the only time a Beale crew became Shellbacks crossing the equator in the Atlantic. You can click on the following link to see the Cruise Book.

 

Robert Duke, LT

Navigator, 1964 to 1966.

RAD VIETNAM 1966.jpg

Standing by 50 cal. machine gun while on the "gun line",

South Vietnam, summer 1966

RAD TAKING SUN LINE.jpg

Taking a sun line.

WesPac Cruise 1966

 

Roger and Sue Gillingham

Roger Gillingham.jpeg
Sue Gillingham.png

ENS Roger Gillingham, later promoted to LTJG, Supply Corps 
  Beale S Division Officer (ca. 1961)

SA Sue Gillingham , HMA, Hospitalman Apprentice, (ca. 1955)

Sue, a WAVE, and Roger , a Yeoman, met while at USNTC Bainbridge, MD and were married there in 1956.

They attended many Beale Annual Reunions and were hosts at our 2006 Reunion in Newport News.