STORIES THAT PERHAPS SHOULD REMAIN
Note: A few of the stories are from HORROR AT GUADALCANAL
so you may want to skip any that you have already read.
When I had finished writing the story of the O'Bannon , I was satisfied that it was as accurate and truthful as I could make it. Further reading of other World War II stories gave me food for thought however. There were stories that contained swearing and told of incidents that I had purposely omitted in an effort to put our ship and crew in the best possible light. Maybe this wasn't being entirely truthful. Maybe the bad as well as the good would have to be told if an accurate account was to be presented. With this in mind, I add the following events to my story.
These events tell of the use of really foul language, of how the crew and officers got along, of thievery, of womanizing, of cowardice, of gays on board, of desertion, of drunkenness and of other things that I would have just as soon swept under the rug. If you are offended by this type of activity, read no further. If however, you are not easily offended or may even enjoy reading the sordid side, then, by all means, read on.
PROFANITY, CURSING AND FOUL LANGUAGE
One of the first questions history might ask is: "Was foul language used on the O'Bannon? Let me answer this by saying there was little else used but foul language. About every fourth word contained only four letters. Why, did so much foul language seem necessary? Looking back, across some fifty five years, I think it was just a safety valve for releasing pent-up hostility and emotions. Probably the same reason that people use it in every day life. So in this case, I guess a bad word was a good thing.
RELATIONS BETWEEN OFFICERS AND MEN
From my vantage point, the O'Bannan was very fortunate in officer and crew relationships as most officers were well liked by the crew. However, there was an occasion where one of one officers got a black eye. It happened as he came up from below deck at night.. As he emerged through a hatch onto the main deck, he was temporally blinded as he came from a lighted area into an unlighted one. At night, it was usually pitch black at sea with just enough starlight to make it around on deck. Someone was waiting on deck for him could easily see well enough to make out the person emerging from the hatch and would have little chance of being seen in return. POW!! a black eye could be administered with little risk to the person giving it and small chance of his being discovered. It happened, and probably more than the once I knew.
RELIGION ON BOARD
The battle in the Pacific could never be called a religious crusade by any stretch of the imagination. Just the opposite, I guess. It was a mission of revenge for Pearl Harbor. In retrospect, the attack on Pearl Harbor put us on a mission allowing us to fight and kill always with a clear conscience. Looking back, I can see how important this was. Mostly, religion was reserved for the very solemn occasion of committing a body to the sea.
Would a shipmate steal from you? You bet. One time, someone stole a blanket off my back while I was sleeping. Another time, after coming out of ship's stores, I put two dimes in my shirt pocket. Stopping in the head (lavatory) to wash my face on my way back to the locker, I hung my shirt on a hook on the bulkhead (wall) close to my shoulder and then made the mistake of closing my eyes for a moment as I washed my face. When I opened my eyes, my shirt and my two dimes were gone. I found the shirt lying on the deck outside (it had my name on the back in big letters) but the two dimes were missing.
While off watch one time and sitting in the radio shack, I removed the gold watch from my wrist (high school graduation present), and put it in the drawer at the desk where I was writing a letter home. I may have been away from the desk for a short time, in any event, when I decided to put my watch back on, it was gone.
One day I was below deck in crews quarters and was standing by my locker when a delegation of the ship's officers came hurrying in. I was puzzled as they quickly opened another sailor's locker and started looking through it as though searching for something. They took out a bar of soap they found and quickly cut off one end of the bar with a knife. Inside they found a small hollowed out area where a twenty dollar bill had been hidden. The sailor who had been assigned this locker was thrown in the brig and spent several days on bread and water. This sailor later restored himself to everyone's good graces by helping in the rescue of survivors from the Chevalier. He dove into the black waters to help exhausted sailors up the ship's ladder to the safety of our deck. Given the hazardous condition of that situation this required a great deal of courage on his part.
I don't think the term had even been invented in the 40's and our chance to meet girls was really rare once we got underway. This had the effect of putting the girls up on a pedestal and the longer we remained at sea, the higher the pedestal became. It was almost unheard of in our day to treat the girls any other way but with great respect. And we had a lot of respect for ourselves as well so if a girl did not want us around, we departed in a hurry. After all, it was her loss we told ourselves. The American serviceman was not something to be sneezed at.
As we left the States we did not realize that it would be a year and a half year until we had the chance to see an American girl again. Had we known this we might have stared a bit longer at our last female encounter. And it would be nine months until we saw any females at all. Well, we went six months without even setting foot on dry land; not a record probably, but a real pain nevertheless. As we left the States in the initial leg of our journey, we had only been at sea about a week before arriving at the Panama Canal. So the pedestal was not all that high.
As we descended on the citizens of the city of Balboa in the Canal Zone, we proceeded first class. About eight of us left the ship at the same time and as we came down the gangway, shoes shined and whites pressed, we found a large touring car waiting to be our taxi to the city. As I remember, we were all teenagers or in our early twenties. The big touring car with its open top, high polish and its big wheels with wooden spokes (highly varnished) made a big impression on our gang. As we circled the car looking it over, it is now easy to realize why the sons and grandsons of these sailors would have such a love affair with the American automobile.
As the great car proceeded we didn't pay much attention to where we were going for after all there was only one city to go to. The driver spoke only Spanish but we assumed he knew where we wanted to go. After only what seemed like a few minutes we arrived at our destination and the driver stuck his hand out for his fare and then quickly departed. He was heading back to the ship for more fares we figured.
Our group surveyed the situation. We had been dropped off on a rather second class looking street that was lined with row houses, most of which were two stories high. On the upper floors, on porches and hanging out windows, were rather young dark skinned girls with fine features. On the lower floors, also on porches and hanging out windows, were women just as dark skinned but considerably older, heavier and minus the sharp features. As young and inexperienced as our group was, it didn't take a brick wall falling on us to guess where we were. If it had been in the evening, the red lights would have probably been a dead give-away.
Somewhat taken back but not wanting to give away our inexperience, we tried to look nonchalant and worldly as we sauntered slowly down the street toward the more central part of the city. One of the older women came over and pinched the cheek (the one on the face) of one young sailor of our group and laughed and yelled "chicken." It was probably the only English word she knew. Everyone chuckled as we watched the young sailor's embarrassment. Although no one said it, the expression: "Let's get out of here" seemed to sweep over the group.
Down the street we went, getting closer to the center of the city. At the end of the street was a small bar and, as sailors are known to do, we quickly dropped in for a beer. Well, nothing less was expected of us. To show our worldliness, we drank from the bottle; no glasses for us, we didn't want to catch anything. The bartender had to drag out a girl from a back room (young but homely) as a possible source of additional revenue for his establishment. We finished our beer and left. Maybe it was the dire warnings from the ship's doctor of catching something worse than the Bubonic Plague -- whatever, we continued onward.
As we walked ever closer to the downtown section, young boys (about ten or twelve years old) would run up to us asking if we would care for a romantic adventure (not the exact words) with their mothers or sisters for twenty five cents. Again, no one left the group for such high adventure but at least the price was right. We did dally to watch a gathering of local men of all ages who were watching a "cock-fight" but, having been raised with baseball and football, we did not find this of great interest. We finally entered the main part of the city. There must have been nothing much of interest happening there that day for I can remember nothing after the "cock-fight" except maybe getting a little something to eat at one of the booths in the market area. So much for Balboa in the 1940's. Upon my return to the ship late that evening, I must have had one beer too many as all I wanted to do was to "hit the sack". But, this was not without hazards.
As I staggered toward sleeping quarters, I noticed an inebriated sailor on the second deck urinating over the railing. He must have thought he was going over the side with his stream but alas, he was hitting the sailors on the deck below. These were poor souls who had passed out had been laid out like dead bodies by the "Shore Patrol" and were being allowed to sleep it off. Fortunately, they were to far gone to notice anything as minor as this gentle "rain." I can't remember whether I tried to stop him or whether I tried to wake the sleeping sailors or whether I just ignored the whole thing; probably the latter. Maybe this was good training for the sleepers as it could have been conditioning them for what lay ahead.
Cowardice, another subject that is better not to mention. Oddly enough, we did not see it as a problem on our ship. Sure, after our first big naval battle, we did have four or five sailors who cracked under the strain and one was even a chief, if I remember correctly. But this appeared to be more like a mental crack-up and no one had any animosity towards these crew members who were removed from the ship when we returned to base. I didn't see it but some who did say that a couple of these poor souls foamed at the mouth and ran around on all fours. I'm sure we felt nothing but sorrow for them as they were removed from the ship.
GAYS IN THE MILITARY
Gays in the military, you hear of it now but we had it then (and with less polite words for it). Again, no one wanted to talk about it. The gay that I had knowledge of seemed to do his job well even though he might often be seen being chased down the deck by some outraged sailor. It seems he couldn't keep his hands to himself. However, if you weren't the one doing the chasing, it provided some comic relief and we needed every laugh we could muster. As far as I knew, he never got anywhere with his shenanigans, but then again, what did I know? Fortunately, our gay shipmate was rather skinny, short and not very strong. Had he been a big, tough bruiser the story might not have been so pleasant to tell. But, on the O'Bannon, we had the luck of the Irish.
Drinking and getting drunk onboard ship, did it happen? What sailor hasn't heard of torpedo juice? Undoubtedly, many a sailor has become "stewed" on this stuff, but this was not a common occurrence but it did happen. What I did see was a case of beer being brought into the radio shack. Now this is a rare occurrence on a US man-of-war and in battle at that. But, there were extenuating circumstances. This happened after our final engagement with the Japanese in what was to become known as the Battle of Vella LaVella. Our ship had been hit, had lost power and was sitting dead in the water. Of our two accompanying destroyers, one was sinking and the other was on fire. To make things worse, eight Japanese destroyers were less than a mile away and , as far as we knew, were heading our way. One of their destroyers had been hit and was on fire, so it alone presented no danger to us.
I had been ordered up from emergency radio to main radio at the time. While on deck, I took in the dramatic scene of sinking and burning ships and what looked like a hundred or more men swimming toward our ship. Many were waving flashlights. The O'Bannon was taking on water having been torn back at the bow about fifty feet. I did not have the luxury of standing by to watch the drama but followed orders and hurried to main radio. There I stood by as our encoding officer prepared our emergency messages for transmittal to base. When encoded, the Japanese could still intercept our messages but would be unable to read them. As the officer worked the encoding machine, I waited for him to finish nearby in main radio.
In the radio room, we all had a chance to experience what it must have been like during the French Revolution to be standing in line waiting to go to the guillotine. No one panicked but faces were sullen. Finally, some relief was provided as one of our radioman came in with a case of beer. He said they were giving away beer and whiskey in the officer's wardroom. Impossible I thought, but realized the officers must be giving up hope of survival and were doing this as a last gesture to the crew. The shipmate bringing in the beer was a few years younger and still a teenager. He took the dispensing of beer by the officers in good spirit but it left me more numb than before.
The encoding officer came into the radio room and handed me the messages. I quickly departed with them, seven in all and quickly dispatched them to base from the location in emergency radio. I never knew what happened to the beer nor did I care at that point. In talking with the sailor that brought the case of beer into the radio room some fifty five years later, he did not remember the incident. Seems like memories are funny things, they remember what seems important at the time. But what you think may be important, someone else may think is trivial, evidently.
My faithful companion in the emergency radio room I remember quite well. He had asked me (as if somehow I would know) when we first collided with the ship that we hit, "What happened?" The only thing that I could think of that would stop 2200 tons of steel in its tracks was "we must have run aground." His face registered his concern. I never forgot that look. But in talking with this fellow sailor some fifty five years later, he did not remember these statements. What he did remember (which I have no recollection of nor would imagine saying) was, "If you're a Christian, then you'd better start praying." Sounds funny now, not so funny then.
Fortunately for us in this battle, as described in the battle report section of this story, the Japanese Vice Admiral Ijuin Matsuji did not chose to finish us off at this time as his mission was to rescue Japanese garrison from the island of Vela Lavella and he had accomplished his mission successfully. Not wanting to risk the lives of the rescued soldiers or to tangle with a force that had been reported erroneously to included four cruisers, he turned his force homeward. It's a little late Admiral, but thank you anyway for that wise decision.
DESERTION DURING WARTIME
Another subject that few want to discuss is desertion during war time. Did it happen? It did. Even within the radio gang, it had been considered as an option. Since we had it better than some poor swabs in the hot engine rooms, we were probably not the first on board to consider it. Were any of us really considering it or was it just another way of relieving tension? That I will never know, but here is one incident that I was aware of.
Returning to the ship after a few days in Sydney, Australia, about a half dozen radiomen (and possibly a few shipmates from other departments) had a serious discussion. What was proposed was called "jumping ship" and it seemed to make such good sense. Just don't return to the ship and it pulls out without you. Your shipmates go out to face death while you live on. And it's not like deserting your post since someone else would replace you, hopefully. After more than a year of combat, we were now considered heroes and patriots and not likely to be shot or seriously punished for just "accidentally" missing your ship. Well, why not jump ship?
For one thing, we couldn't forget that over nine thousand of our fellow sailors along with thousands of Marines and Airmen had given their lives holding these islands in the Solomons. Many of the finest US ships that ever were, rested on the bottom there. Turning our backs on all of this just couldn't be the right thing to do. If the Japanese were to retake this place, it would have to be over our dead bodies. And, of course, nothing would have pleased them more. So, as far as I was aware, no one in our group would talk about this again. However, there were others on our ship who were about to take this serious step. Our having talked about it perhaps made it a little easier for us to understand their action and perhaps not think so harshly of them. After all, everyone has their breaking point.
This happened many months later after morale on board had reached a new low. It was at this time that the O'Bannon made a stop in New Zealand. I believe we were making a delivery of some defective ammunition that the experts wanted to examine. At this time, the ship's company was to receive no shore leave nor was even to be permitted to step ashore on the dock. It is hard to believe today that we traveled all the way to New Zealand but never set foot there. The only ones who were allowed on shore were a work party that was sent to obtain fresh vegetables. The story was that the work party jumped from the truck in which they were riding and ran. And the ship did pull out without them.
The outcome of this event was indeed strange, because we were heading for what was to be our last battle in this area. After that, the ship would be out of service for a long time to come. The battle occurred before the deserters could be picked up and returned to the ship (the usual course of action for ship jumpers at this time in the war). Had our ship gone down, these deserters (or really ship jumpers) could have been the only survivors and they would have had to believed they had made the right decision. After all, they would have been alive and the rest of the crew would probably be dead or maimed. But fate can play strange tricks.
As it turned out, when they were caught, the O'Bannon had already pulled out and was underway to the Solomons. The story was that they ran into a theater to hide and were picked up by the shore patrol. There was never a chance for them to be returned to the O'Bannon since by that time, the ship had been seriously damaged and was heading for the States for repairs. Instead they were transferred to other ships that were scheduled to remain in the area. No one that I knew of harbored hostility towards those crew members. It was more like "there, but for the grace of God, go I."
PERSONAL RELATIONS WITH OUR ALLIES
What other unpleasant stories can I throw at you? There are more. While I told of our great and friendly relationship with the our Australian allies, I didn't mention the Sydney Harbor Bridge incident. What happened there was that some of our great Australian allies tried to beat the crap out of a couple of American sailors. Here is how it happened. There were three of us sailors from the radio gang that were wandering into what looked like a small carnival or street fair that was located near the entrance ramp to the bridge. The three of us approached a few young ladies that were gathered and talking together. We three sailors meandered up to the girls and started a friendly conversation. I will mention that we were carrying a bottle of whiskey that we had purchased in our wanderings. I will admit that this may not have looked entirely proper to another group of wandering servicemen. These happened to be Australian soldiers.
As this group of about twelve approached us, they encircle us so that we could not leave the area without passing through their line. It appeared obvious to the three of us that they were up to no good. We did have one escape route open to us however, but it was straight down a long and steep embankment down toward the water. We decided that route out appeared safer than pushing through their line, so over the hill and down we went, arriving at the bottom somewhat ruffed up by the bushes and growth on the way down. The bottle of whiskey though was unbroken so we felt we had survived successfully. The soldiers looking down at us from the considerable distance at the top apparently decided they had accomplished their mission and did not bother to chase us further.
Our feelings may have been a little hurt but since our bottle was intact, we figured no harm had really been done. And, after all, approaching young ladies with a bottle of whiskey in your hand may not have looked like the proper way for American servicemen to behave in a foreign land. And, of course, it might have been the male ego thing with the bottle just an excuse for the Aussies doing what they wanted to do anyway.
The Australian soldiers often did appear to have hostility toward American sailors, and yet the US Navy was guarding their shores? Why did this hostility develop? Well, one possible answer was they didn't seem to like the way we were treating their women. How could they think this we wondered when we were treating the Australian girls better that they had ever been treated. That is just the point. We were opening doors for them, helping them put their coats on, giving them cigarettes and other niceties that American men do (or are supposed to do) for the girls. The Australian girls were really eating it up. Maybe we were spoiling them and there would be hell to pay when the Australian sailors and soldiers returned home.
Looking back across the years since these events transpired, it does seem that maybe the Australian men were right. Their women did seem happy and well adjusted without our special treatment and free gifts. Maybe anyone can be corrupted by being given things they didn't earn or feel that they deserved. Whatever -- I always think highly of the Australian girls that I knew, and, of how warmly most Australian people treated us.
I previously wrote about the occasion in New Caldonia where the citizens of Noumea (the capitol) had held a dance for our destroyer squadron. Not mentioned was my romantic interlude with one of the young ladies as the dance drew to a close. When the dance first started, the young Free French girls (free in this case referring to not being under control of the Nazis) knew nothing of the American dance craze called jitterbugging. Boy, but were they quick to learn. In about a half hour, you would have thought they were professionals (dancers, that is). And consider this, they could not speak English and of course how many American sailors could speak French, none of us. There was one young lady, and only one, who could speak English and quite well. She was not my first choice as to beauty and in fact was probably the least attractive of the girls there, but still well within the acceptable range after so many months at sea. So, I set my sights on her and managed to drag her away from the dance floor for a drink (only soft drinks provided) and conversation. What could we possibly have in common though, she living in such a remote and inaccessible corner of the earth and myself having grown up in a large US city. Turned out though that we had no problems finding something to talk about what-so-ever.
She was charming and delightful to talk to and it seemed infatuated with American movies and culture and would like nothing more than to go to America. Since meeting with her that night was out of the question due to the nature of the gathering, I proposed a date for the following day. By the end of the evening, I found myself becoming more attracted to this young lady. We were to meet at the corner of Sevastopol Street (I still remember the street fifty five years later) and the main drag the following day at noon. Of course, everything hinged on whether or not our squadron would still be in port the following day. She could look out into the harbor and easily make out if our squadron of six ships was still lying at anchor so at least she would not be left standing on a street corner. When she looked out the following morning our ships had indeed departed. I hope she was not as disappointed as I was.
FOOD FIGHT WITH MOTHER NATURE
Sure, you've heard of food fights, but we had one with Mother Nature. The sequence of events that ended in hysterical laughter started on a calm Pacific morning. The ocean was tranquil (that's why they called it the Pacific in the first place) as we glided somewhere in its broad expanse. Our Chief Commissary Steward (you might call him the cook but many of the crew would disagree with that description) was not the most popular man on board and this day he decided to do something to enhance his image. He decided to make spaghetti for the crew. A navy is not noted for spaghetti (an exception might be made for the Italian Navy, perhaps) but he decided to make it anyway. All went well with the spaghetti that day but not with the weather. A breeze picked up sometime during the day, then dark clouds and finally a gale. By the time the evening meal was to be served, we were in a raging storm. Too late for sandwiches, which would have been the proper fare for heavy seas, so the spaghetti would have to be served anyway. Making it to the galley and getting in line was no small task either as the ship rolled and heaved.
I finally made it into the chow line and had a load of spaghetti dumped on my metal tray. Proceeding with all caution, holding on here and grabbing on there, I reached an empty seat at a table and actually managed to get into a position suitable for eating. By holding onto the table and letting go a moment as the ship passed through a position that was level, it was possible to take a few bites of food before the next roll. Everyone was eating this way giving the impression that it was not all that unusual. There were about a dozen sailors at each table and about three tables in the galley. Had not the unexpected happened, this event would have been quickly forgotten and there would have been no story to remember.
However, the unexpected did happen as the cotter pin that held the table in place finally gave under the pressure of about a dozen sailors using it to keep themselves from flying through space. The cotter pin snapped in two allowing the table to flip over along with all the sailors that were using it for a "hand hold." I and five other sailors were seated on the inboard side of the table and about a half dozen sailors were sitting on the outboard side of the table. Those on the outboard side were thrown over our heads by the ships motion. Everyone went crashing to the deck. The decks were hard steel with all the paint having been scraped off since paint fumes were found to be a great hazard during combat. This high polished steel now had a good coating of spaghetti sauce making it the equivalent of highly polished ice.
What had promised to be our best evening meal for some time turned into a disaster after only a few bites of food. Everyone was lying on the deck and were slipping and sliding around with each motion of the ship and, to make matters worse, all were draped in long pieces of spaghetti and covered with sauce. Trying to stand up could have resulted in broken limbs so everyone decided to crawl or slide toward the exit hatches. What could have been a stupid disaster suddenly turned into uproarious laughter. Sailors slipping and sliding covered with spaghetti sauce was ridiculously funny to everyone. After climbing out of this mess and onto a dry area, laughter continued for another half hour. Well, at least we hadn't lost our sense of humor.
SLEEPING ON WATCH
The next incident that I have to report has never been recorded anywhere in naval annals, so you will be reading about it for the first time ever. Most of the people involved may have passed away by this time so that part wouldn't matter. This incident happened up on the bridge in the room (and I believe it is called a room rather than a compartment) immediately behind the quartermasters position on the bridge. I think it was called the bridge radio room at one time but now had been taken over by the radar and sonar operators with far more important functions. We ships radiomen did have some equipment left there which was not used at sea like the radio direction finder. So we had little reason to enter this room except on rare occasions.
Well, this night was one of the rare occasions that demanded my being there for whatever reason. As I entered the room it had a certain amount of light in it -- not much -- but enough to allow the sound and radar men to function properly. And there was enough light for me to see that every one in the room (about a half dozen men) was sound asleep at their positions. I'm not sure what authority I had in this situation but no one questioned it as I chewed out everyone for being asleep. You would have thought I was the captain. But I think everyone felt guilty enough that I heard no back talk so no report was necessary ( in my opinion) so there is no record anywhere that this incident ever happened and it's just as well, I guess.
Perhaps I had been conditioned by a previous occurrence in which I was the guilty party. In this particular incident, our ship was proceeding deep into the Kula Gulf or some other god forsaken channel in the Solomons. This night we had a "black cat" patrol plane out ahead of us looking for any Japanese ships that might be ahead of us. A radio circuit was established to monitor any transmissions from the plane. To put this circuit as close to the captain as possible, the two chief radiomen (we had two of them) had set up a circuit in the captain's cabin on the bridge. The reason for doing this was that the warning messages from the "black cats" were to be sent in Morse code. This required some light for the operator (in this case, me) to write down the messages. The only place this would be possible close to the captain's location was from his cabin on the bridge.
I got as comfortable as possible sitting in a chair in the captain's cabin. It was rather comfortable in there but very hot and stuffy as the ducts that supply air were shut down for general quarters. The captain came in a few times to see that everything was functioning okay. Now the long wait started as hour after hour we steamed deep into Japanese territory. It was deathly quiet in the cabin as there was little noise on the bridge and even that did not trickle into my location. The cabin was nice and neat with the customary pictures of the wife, etc. After a few hours, I found I was starting to nod off. To counter this I picked up a book that was lying on a table (can't remember what the captain was reading, however) and held it up in the air so that if I fell asleep, it would drop and wake me. This worked quite well for a couple of times until I woke up only to see the book on the floor. How long did I doze off. I had no idea for I couldn't see any clock. I hoped that if a message had come in, the loud signal in my earphones would have awakened me. But that is only a hope. From then on I started to stand up and move around which proved much more successful in keeping me awake than the dropping of a book.
After we had accomplished our mission and were well back out of enemy territory, we secured from general quarters. As I left the captain's cabin I noticed how haggard everyone looked from the long hours of tension. Oddly enough though, I didn't feel all that badly.
DOING SOMETHING REALLY STUPID
And the story gets worse. This incident started out innocently enough but developed into a real faux pas. As the radioman in charge of the emergency radio room, I had the only key available to the crew for this location. This worked out quite well and I had a nice place to sleep and be by myself. I had no desire to jeopardize this perk so I made sure the room was always in tip top condition. Of course, other radiomen knew this and accepted this arrangement but knew they were always welcome to go there and type a letter home or whatever. And we did use the room to get together when we were off watch and could enjoy a little peace and quiet. But when the room was empty, I would always see that it was locked so that it would be ready for any emergency condition.
One day one of the radio crew came to me and asked if he could use the emergency radio room to do a little typing, well more than a little typing -- a lot of typing. He said that he and some quartermasters were going to make a copy of the log book or something and needed the privacy. Not thinking as clearly as I should have I said "Yes, and put a carbon copy in for me." I didn't want to be left out of anything. It took a bit of copying and I did check once to see if he had a copy in for me. Yes, he said, it would be the ninth carbon and not real legible. Good enough I thought as I wasn't particularly interested in a copy anyway. When he finished he gave me my copy and I promptly folded it up and shoved it in the back of my locker for a souvenir.
Months passed and I had forgotten all about the thing when one day there was a little excitement on the quarter-deck. What's up, I asked someone. Oh they're holding a captain's mast (trial) for some of the crew who were caught with a copy of the ship's log. How dumb I thought, why would they do that. Then it dawned on me that I had a copy of the thing in my locker. I can only assume that since I was not really a part of the operation that the other eight sailors with copies had not known or forgot that there was a ninth copy. Not wanting to be a party to this sordid mess, I kept my mouth shut until this very day. But now you know. And how else could I have put the correct times, dates and ships into my story. In fact, without the log, it would have been all but impossible to have such an accurate account of the adventures of the O'Bannon. I rest my case.
Of course, all of the events above are just my opinion and the way I perceived the various situations at the time. Others may have had quite a different interpretation of these same events.
In case you want to see the O'Bannon Log (First Page) Click here.