Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Maj. Gillham boards a Navy ship bound for home

Finally, the day has arrived, albeit rather unexpectedly.  Maj. Gillham is now on his way home, and while his first attempt to sail home fizzled (as we read earlier), it took some doing to make his second attempt a success.

Aboard U.S.S. Alcor
7 May 1946

Dearest Lovely,

I have had a terrible time for the last two days sweating out this passage, but "all's well that ends well."  I am aboard the U.S.S. Alcor, a navy destroyer tender.  It is a big ship (450 ft. long -- about 13,000 tons) and a very comfortable one.  It has been in these waters for about 18 months and is starting home tomorrow at 0900.  We will stop a couple of days at Pearl Harbor and also at Balboa, C.Z. You may write me at both places:

U.S.S. Alcor
c/o Port Director
Pearl Harbor, T.H.
Balboa, C.Z.

After that we will put into some port on the east coast of the U.S.  They don't know yet for certain.  It may be anywhere from Boston to Charleston.

There are three other army officers aboard.  A Lt. Col. Wilder seems to be a very nice person -- he has the Commodore's Suite.  I have a double room previously used by two Lt. Cmdrs.  It is somewhat like Dan's room on the Canberra, except it is longer with the two bunks end to end and has two large windows opening on the promenade deck.

The Navy was swell to me all the way through, but the Army caused all the trouble they could and did everything possible to prevent my going this way.  It was only by sheer persistence and some luck that I made it.  It should be an interesting trip and will be far more comfortable and pleasant than being crowded up in a victory ship troop transport.  The captain and others of the ship's officers have been most hospitable.

This ship is a large floating machine shop, capable of making most any major repairs on destroyers.  They say it is very seaworthy and steady -- only rolled 8 degrees in the typhoon last fall.

I imagine the trip will take 5 or 6 weeks, getting me home about the middle of June.  That is as close as we can plan anyhow.  That won't be much of a delay and I think the trip and rest will be worth it.

I will write you from Pearl Harbor and from Panama.

It is a long, long way to go, but to be moving in your direction, my little darling, makes life take on a new meaning for me.  I shall dream of you throughout the entire voyage.

I ran into Frisby in the navy hdqtrs. yesterday.  He is planning to stay on as a civilian and bring his family out.  So is Wrightson, and I think Bull is, too.

I love you, my darling, I love you.



The USS Alcor was originally built in 1928 as the S.S. Dixie, a commercial passenger ship, and was later acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1941 and fitted to be a destroyer tender.  Alcor is the name of a star in the constellation Ursa Major.  The only ship in her class, the Alcor was designed to repair and equip destroyers damaged in battle.  Originally, the ship carried out its repair duties for 30 months in the docks at Norfolk, VA, but by July, 1944, she had sailed to the Philippines to help in repairing the Pacific Fleet.  After Japan surrendered, she spent several months in Okinawa before sailing for Yokosuka, a port on Tokyo Bay opposite Yokohama.  It was here that Maj. Gillham boarded the ship on May 8, bound for Norfolk, VA via Hawaii and the Panama Canal.

No comments: