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1st Reply From: email@example.com Subject: Re: QUERY: Trapped Sailors at Pearl Harbor Date: February 3, 2009 8:02:52 PM EST To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU While the articles do not speak to the rescue, only the recovery, I commend to the list Robert Trumbull's New York Times dispatches of December 1942, published (for the first time many years later) in the New York Times in December 2006. It is a series of dispatches about the recovery and rebuilding that followed the attack at Pearl Harbor over the course of a year. The link is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/07/opinion/07trumbull.html Jonathan Winkler Wright State University ____________________________________ Jonathan Reed Winkler Assistant Professor of History Wright State University Dayton, OH 45435 firstname.lastname@example.org www.wright.edu/~jonathan.winkler Office: (937) 775-3839 Fax: (937) 775-2892 ____________________________________ 2nd Reply From: email@example.com Subject: RE: QUERY: Trapped Sailors at Pearl Harbor Date: February 3, 2009 10:05:35 PM EST To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU See Edward Raymer's "Descent into Darkness" for an excellent discussion of this. Raymer was one of the first salvage divers into the sunken and capsized battleships. He mentions the buildup of fuel vapors and the potential explosion from the cutting torches as one factor. On one of the ships, tapping was heard for almost a week, and when the compartment was finally reached there were over a week's worth of tick marks on the hull. I think the magnitude of the task and the limited resources available probably best explains the failure to reach the trapped sailors. 3rd Message From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: QUERY: Trapped Sailors at Pearl Harbor Date: February 4, 2009 12:20:29 AM EST To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU I am sorry that I do not have the actual reference handy, but years ago I read an article that dealt with the rescue attempts for the trapped sailors. In the large ships, there were men trapped in big compartments with enough air to support life for days. They could be heard tapping in Morse code, telling people where they were. In some cases the only way to get them out was for divers to attempt to cut through the hull plates with torches. After a diver was killed when his torch hit a gas pocket and caused an explosion, such attempts were curtailed. I recall the horribly sad comment of one of the men quoted in the article saying the tapping when on for several days after that, and when it finally stopped, it was a horrid relief in some ways. R J Del Vecchio 4th Reply From: email@example.com Subject: Trapped Sailors at Pearl Harbor Date: February 4, 2009 12:23:16 AM EST To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU I can't answer your specific queries, but I did read an excellent first person account by a sailor who was trapped in the Oklahoma for some time. He was a seaman first class assigned to number 4 turret. The biggest problem was that once the rescuers cut through the last bulkhead, the air pressure which had built up inside the compartment they were in decreased, and water started to fill up the space. The book is Stephen Bower Young's _Trapped at Pearl Harbor: Escape from Battleship Oklahoma_, Naval Institute Press, 1998. It is highly readable. I also believe this subject was mentioned by one of Studs Terkel's interviewees in his book _The Good War_. The interviewee recalls being on the docks at Pearl Harbor, several days after the attack, and hearing several trapped men banging on the hulls of various ships. In the meantime, they were all expected to go about their regular duties, though rescue crews were at work. Some were rescued after several days, and, if I recall correctly, even weeks later. Terkel asked how they survived, but the interviewee had no answer for that. Greg Leck 5th Reply From: David.A.Vandenbroucke@hud.gov Subject: QUERY: Trapped Sailors at Pearl Harbor Date: February 4, 2009 7:03:22 AM EST To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU Cc: hendsn1@GMAIL.COM >> Could someone give me some more information on how much time the rescuers had and whether even today it would have been possible to get to the trapped men.<< You might want to try to find a copy of _Descent into Darkness_, by Edward C. Raymer (Presidio Press, 1996, ISBN 0-89141-589-0). The subtitle is "Pearl Harbor, 1941, a navy diver's memoir." It's not exactly a riveting book, but it does go into some detail about the rescue attempts. Dav Vandenbroucke Senior Economist U.S. Dept. HUD firstname.lastname@example.org 202-402-5890 I disclaim any disclaimers. 6th Reply From: email@example.com Subject: Re: QUERY: Trapped Sailors at Pearl Harbor Date: February 4, 2009 10:12:57 AM EST To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU In Day of Infamy, Walter Lord reports that some crewmen were trapped in compartments that, although filled with air, were below the water level of Pearl Harbor. These spaces were essentially "bubbles" underwater. The problem was that when the first pilot holes (preparatory to cutting a man-sized opening) penetrated these areas, the air escaped, allowing the in-compartment water to rise to its "natural" level, often leaving the trapped crew with no breathable air. I've visited a number of WWII-era warships-turned-museums and have gotten confused more a few times in the lower decks (The Army fliers in the movie Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo have the same problem when learning their ways around the Hornet). I can just imagine what they'd be like upside or tilted, in the dark, with water everywhere. Belowdecks areas are often cramped, tight spaces as well. Everyone's favorite escape-from-a-capsized ship movie, The Poseidon Adventure, did not convey the claustrophobia of the ship's lower corridors well because the sets had to be large enough to fit cameras and equipment. Roger Horky PhD Student and Teaching Assistant History Department Texas A&M University College Station TX 7th Reply From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RE: QUERY: Trapped Sailors at Pearl Harbor (UNCLASSIFIED) Date: February 4, 2009 10:45:17 AM EST To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU There is a new book by Thomas Hone, Jeff Phister and Paul Goodyear by OK University Press out about the Battleship Oklahoma which goes into great detail on this issue and others, if I remember correctly (since I read it when I was a teenager) Day of Infamy by Walter Lord spends time on this issue as well. The BB-37 book is reviewed in this month's Proceedings. Anything involving by one of the various members of the Hone family is worth reading, IMHO. Vr, John John T. Kuehn, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Military History Department of Military History U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, KS "The human mind, moreover, has a universal thirst for clarity, and longs to feel itself part of an orderly scheme of things." Carl von Clausewitz, unfinished and undated note published as one of two prefatory notes to _On War_ by the Author. 8th Reply From: email@example.com Subject: RE: QUERY: Trapped Sailors at Pearl Harbor Date: February 4, 2009 4:08:39 PM EST To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU Dr. Shepardson, On the Naval History & Heritage Command website, we have a copy of the West Virginia salvage report. http://www.history.navy.mil/docs/wwii/pearl/salvagewv.htm. I cut the portion regarding to the recovery of bodies. 29. Recovery of Bodies: During the salvage operations sixty-six bodies were recovered from the West Virginia. These were found widely scattered throughout the ship. In most cases they were in an advanced state of decomposition, and considerably dismembered. As in the case of the California the bodies were handled in heavy canvas bags made for the purpose; when drawn tight at the top for closing the odors emitted were negligible. By this means the bodies were removed from the ship at various times almost unnoticed by the working parties on board. 30. There were evidences that some of the men had lived for considerable period and finally succumbed due to lack of oxygen. In the after engine room, several bodies were found lying on top of the steam pipes, which areas were probably within the air bubble existing in that flooded space. 31. Three bodies were found on the lower shelf of storeroom A-111 clad in blues and jerseys. This storeroom was open to fresh water pump room, A-109, which presumably was the battle station assigned to these men. The emergency rations at this station had been consumed and a manhole to the fresh water tanks below the pumps had been removed. A calendar which was found in this compartment had an "X" marked on each date from December 7, 1941 to December 23, 1941 inclusive. There may be other salvage reports available online. v/r Dr. Timothy L. Francis Naval History and Heritage Command Histories and Archives Division Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060 (202) 685-0436 Original Message: On Feb 3, 2009, at 6:45 PM, Dr. Scott N. Hendrix, Ph.D. wrote: > From: firstname.lastname@example.org > Subject: trapped sailors > Date: February 2, 2009 5:30:09 PM EST > To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU > > > This morning I mentioned in class that many sailors were trapped > inside ships after the Pearl Harbor attack. I know that some were > rescued but many were not. One of my students asked why many of > them could not be reached. I mentioned the inability to cut through > the hulls, etc. Could someone give me some more information on how > much time the rescuers had and whether even today it would have > been possible to get to the trapped men. > > Thanks, > > Don Shepardson, History Dept, University of Northern Iowa > > > ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----