William A. Moore WWII Experience
In the early morning on Sunday may 30, 1943, the 23rd battalion Seabees
landed on the beach at Massacre Bay. They were placed on the beach to
supplies that had accumulated on the beach. Earlier that day, a group of
Japanese soldiers broke through U.S. Army defenses and, were coming
mountain range from Chichagof Bay to Massacre Bay. It would be about a
hike over rough terrain. It was a clear night and that time of the
darkness didn’t last too long. The Japanese first came in contact with
Red Cross hospital tent area. They cut the tent ropes and tent fell on
sick and wounded. The killed anything that moved or yelled under the
using the bayonets on their rifles.
The Army Engineers were moved into position to stop the advance of the
or at least slow the advance to the supplies on the beach. The
poorly equipped to stop the advance. It was hand to hand fighting. It
the Japanese had broken through the Engineer’s defenses, but they
retreated. They were carrying large supplies of TNT and hand grenades
thought they would use at the beach. Instead the 500 men put the hand
grenades to their chest and killed themselves. We think the 23rd Seabees were
dressed Marine green and possibly made the Japanese think they were up
against well-equipped and well-trained outfit. As a result, the 23rd didn’t fire a
We were landing north of the supply store on the beach. If the
their heads on straight, they could have changed their advance to the
would have met our 22nd battalion wading ashore and they would have had a big
advantage. We could have lost several lives and one could have been
think someone was looking out for our good. We just had to be
I would like to say something of our 22nd going to shore. As soon as the 23rd was
ashore, we loaded up and were sent in. We had backpacks with enough
supplies to make a foxhole comfortable. We were carrying WW I
30-06 and an ammunition belt loaded with shells. Going over the wall
of the ship
our ammunition belts were unfastened in case we would fall into the
way we could shed off all the weight and keep from sinking to the
bottom of the
bay. A chief electrician fell into the water and we pulled him back
into the boat.
Someone gave him a blanket to keep warm, because there was no turning
As we were going ashore we were all standing in the boat and were
pretty close. The ramp on the front o the landing craft was so high we
see the beach and this was there for our own protection from rifle
fire. We didn’t
have a gunner on our landing craft.
I had to think of Maurice Alexander (Miriam’s cousin), he was a
guided the landing craft ashore in Naples, Italy. They stood on a
in the back of the boat high enough to see the beach. If he would get
was another man to take his place. They would run the landing craft
the beach let ramp on the front down. We would wade ashore and we got
wet. With the weight of the men off the boat, it raised off the beach
and back off
for another load. With no gunfire, we had a pretty good landing!
I know my son’s wouldn’t be interested about the time I ate too much
canned pineapple, but this is where it fits in the story. Therefore, I’m
going to tell
the complete and gruesome story! After the landing, everyone was
job and I was put on guard duty on a large tent that was located about
feet from the supply build up located on the beach. It was to shelter
and food supply for the 22nd battalion and they wanted to get these supplies out
of the weather as soon as possible. Several men carrying heavy boxes
them in the tent from load trucks from the beach. I was left standing
my faithful 30-06 and I thought I was pretty lucky drawing this guard
assignment. But things were about to change….
About 5:00 PM the men stopped working and left for supper. I was
but I knew I would be relieved at 8:00 since that was the standard way
of doing it.
By 8:00 I found a case of pineapple in one-gallon cans. No one had
yet, so I took my bayonet and opened one of the cans. I ate a few
I ate more than just a few.
The men stopped work around 10:00 and they closed the side of the
tent. At this
time of night in the north there is still a little light outside. The
inside of the tent
was pretty dark. At 12 midnight I still wasn’t relieved, so I ate some
pineapple. It was as dark as it was going to get this time of the year
and I was
getting pretty tired. I started thinking what was wrong with the
corporal of the
guard. First, everywhere on the Island they were standing double
guards at each
point. I’m standing at this place by myself.
I got to think about those Japanese that traveled all last night on
nothing to eat
and the battle they had with the engineers that morning. 500 of them
themselves within a half a mile of where I stood. Now if I had been
one of those
Jap soldiers, I would have taken off to the mountains. By this time I
pretty hungry and be hunting something to eat. The only thing between
a tent full
of food and a hungry Jap soldier was me. This fear was real to me
thought this would be the first place they would take over. Little did
I know at the
time, I would be standing guard for another four hours.
My rifle would be no help inside the dark tent. My bayonet would be my
weapon. I thought I could fire my rifle two or three time through the
tent roof I
might get some help and scare the intruder away. I was having a lot of
time and firing the rifle sounded good to me. I did have part of a can
I could share with my intruder!
I realized that this was the first time the pacifist ways that I was
taught at home
and at Cedar Grove could be challenged head on this night. This fear
was real to
me. I did pray to Lord Jesus to see me through the night. The words of
people that taught pacifism rang in my ears. I had a feeling that I
could be on my
own. I did accept Jesus as my savior and I was sure he was close by.
battalion chaplain was Catholic and he said that when you prayed to
he would be with you. It made the 23 Psalm real to me. It was the
of my life.
The corporal of the guard did show up at 4:00 in the morning with two
relieve me. Our camp was set up on the Casco Peninsula. There were men
setting up tents, the cook kitchen and the mess tents. The corporal of
dropped me off at the cook tent to get some things to eat. I wasn’t
good. But being me, I think I did eat something. The cook tent was
night with hot coffee and some things to eat for the men that were
cooks were to tell me where the supply tent was so I could pick up a
bag, new long john underwear and some socks. It was there that I
tent assignment. There were four men assigned to each tent. It had a
cook stove in the center.
When I arrived at my tent there was a hot fire burning and it was warm
Our helmets we wore had an inside liner to adjust to fit your head.
was painted Marine green. One of the men had one of the steel helmets
water. It would fit just right in the hole in the top of the stove and
the water was
hot. We were wearing the same clothes we had on when we left Sitka and
needing a bath!
Bert Looney was the only man at the tent when I arrived. Bert was from
and was around 30 years old. He was one of my great buddy’s. He
me of my brother Ross. He had brown hair when we left Sitka and after
months on Attu it was snow white. The eleven months were hard on
He was glad to see me knowing that I was assigned to this tent. When I
show up at 8 and midnight, he and two other men reported me missing to
guard soon after midnight.
Before I get back to the pineapple story, I want to tell you we had
cold soft water
at each of the tents. The muskeg was grass that grew fast in the short
season. It was about 8 feet deep and the cold weather the grass was
men would dig a hole into the muskeg 18 inches deep to the top of the
would dip our helmet in and it was clear soft rainwater. We used our
take a bath and wash our clothes .
When we were in boot camp they gave us two large duffel bags, one was
mattress roll to sleep on and the other bag was clothes, shoes and
owned. Some one had dropped them off at my tent. The first thing I did
get the cot unfolded and in place. Bert Leenie having the experience
night had some wood slats to put under the cot legs. The tent had a
waterproof floor. Without the slates the cot would go every direction.
I got my
sleeping bag out on the cot using the card bard carton to stand on to
bath. I put my new long johns on and my new sox’s. The sleeping bag
bags with a zipper the full length of each bag. While getting ready
for bed the
two other men had come back from breakfast (I don’t remember their
think they were trying to give me advise and they told me don’t get
zipped up in
the sleeping bag. But I had already zipped myself in and fell to sleep
When I woke up, it wasn’t fifteen minutes I woke up and I wasn’t feeling
my stomach. I was hot and sweating and I couldn’t find the inside
ripped out the inside zipper and I finally did find the outside one.
confusion and talk the men in the tent seemed to be getting a kick out
problem, which didn’t help me one bit. Adding to the confusion, my cot
slipped off the wood slates and it was listing about 45 degrees to the
The said my face was broken out with red spots and I looked at the
rest of my
body and it was the same way.
The boys in the tent said I put on quite a show and did a lot of
talking. What I
had gone through the night, I might of thought I was in hell. I have
hell quite a bit do describe things. But compared to Cedar Grove and
farm life it
was hell. I got my cot squared up and laid on top of the sleeping bag.
they said that you could zip those bags up in 60 below zero, lying on
and still have a heat stroke. I told the boys not to fire up the coal
Now I have told you the entire sad story about eating too much
that it has been over 55 years, I still don’t like to eat pineapple to
this day. I have
told or written about my war experience and the longest day and night
of my life.
While I was standing through this long day and night of guard duty,
carpenters built a toilet for company C along the beach of Casco Bay
100 feet from our tent. They built a wood floor with four holes on a
platform making it comfortable to sit on. This wood floor was also a
to take a bath. The platform was extended out over the beach and when
came in it would flush the toilets. It worked just fine, but there
were some flaws
in the design. The strong wind that blows in from the northwest, they
called it a
Willy Wal, the toilet paper would go down one hole and up the other.
me of the white dove on the TV show Touch of an Angel. This “dove”
have mixed emotions and would circle the tent and it really didn’t
care where it
landed. Everyone tried to get away from it and when the tent would
usually greeted the guy coming in. We had to sack the “bird” up
because it was
trying to build all sorts of nests down the beach.
We didn’t live in the tents too long, maybe two or three weeks. We had
large Quonset huts for our galley and mess hall. Then we went to work
Quonset living quarters. We didn’t move into the Quonset until we had
built for all of the men. Our living quarters were comfortable. They
had fuel oil
stove and as we built them we installed electric wiring so they could
be hooked up to
the generators. Some of the huts had trouble with the fuel stove because
they would smoke and blow out the fires. It made a lot of difference how they
faced the wind. We didn’t have any trouble with the wind. We had iron bunk beds
and I had the lower bunk.
There were men putting in a pipeline from the mountain area for water
Bay. In the mean time it was being hauled into the galley and mess
hall. We still
wanted water for the Quonset toilets and showers. When the water was
up to the toilets and showers with hot water that was great treat for
One of the first things we had to do was dig us a foxhole on higher
the living quarters. They had to be high enough to drain water away
so we could have dry holes.
If a patrol plane would sight an unidentified craft or ship in the
area and fog
moved in, we would go to our foxholes. It seemed like we spent a lot
of time in
and around our foxholes and we would have to take our backpacks and
We had foxholes at all of our work sites. The ship Casco was a PBY
tender that was anchored in Casco Bay. The Navy pilots and their crews that serviced
the PBYs and Kingfishers and kept them in flying condition for patrols
were stationed on this ship. On all alerts all of the ships, including
would move out in the ocean to make themselves moving targets. So when
would see the Casco moving out into open water we know we were going
alert. On all alerts the planes would try to get into the air in a
The PBYs and the Kingfishers would take off every morning at daylight
if the weather was favorable (no fog or severe wind). We had built in
clocks as they fired themselves up to take off of Casco Bay.
The Army had 90-millimeter (MM) guns on the ridge above our living
One morning just at dark the lights on the island were turned off. I
was taking a
shower and a Quonset hut is a very dark place with no electricity. We
I got back
to my quarters, everyone was trying to find their backpacks and rifles
to go up on
the ridge. I had to wait for some men to clear so I could get dressed
up my gear. On this particular day, 12 Japanese bombers went over the
runway and over the 23rd Battalion Seabees. One man was hurt from a
exploding bomb. The big 90-mm on the ridge and a battery of 90 mm guns
across Casco Bay on Murder Point cut loose on the planes. The planes
pretty high and the gunners got their range pretty quick. The shells
split up the
formation and the shells followed the planes out to sea. There was one
that was smoking pretty bad. The USS Charleston gunboat was putting up
of fire with their tracer shells. They had only 40-mm guns and bombers
flying too high for them to reach. There was some Winchester 30-06
the men who fired their weapons were questioned later.
Tokyo Rose is the lady that broadcast popular music to us each day
and gave the Japanese version of the war news. Her version of the
that the Japanese bombed Attu and there was a lot of damage. Their
that they seen fire burning 50 miles out to sea. Our version of the
story was it
was the fire of the 90-mm hitting them in the ass! She said there were
planes that failed to return.
When I was at Sitka Alaska, a good buddy, Bill Nordroft and I bought a
rod and different baits. We fished quite a bit in a large river with
pretty fast water,
which should have held some trout in it. I don’t believe I caught any
Here on Attu we had pretty good luck. We worked 14 days and have the
off to do our washing of our clothing. When the weather was nice we
fishing. The washing just had to wait. We were catching Dolly Vardon
pounds plus in size. We were putting them back in the river, thinking
was no way to fry them. We talked to the cooks and they said they
would fry the
fish anytime we wanted after the evening supper was over. This one
we caught 6 nice size trout and Bill N. cleaned them (I don’t do that
kind of work).
We stopped at the galley and the cooks were glad to see them. They
they would serve supper around eight PM. It was good trout for us all.
the thunder out of Spam! We had some good times!
There was a fellow in our company C with low moral standards. He was
the Japanese soldier graves. It was no problem to do this since they
were laid in
foxholes and a blanket was laid over the graves. He would be in big
trouble if he
ever got caught. The story around camp was this fellow was out looking
foxholes and there was a live one that climbed out of the foxhole and
ran to the
mountains! “Low life” took off running for camp and left his rifle in
Now that gave us all something to think about. There were several
that did not kill themselves and they would stay close to camp in the
night they would come out looking for food in the garbage cans. It
more than a day old. Spam will last forever and Spam taste the same
where it came from!
As soon as we got the living quarters set up everyone was assigned to
details. I was assigned to a carpenter crew helping build a submarine
There was a large quonset set up called a ship’s store for Navy
was an inside job for some time as the store grew it would need more
and storage space to be built. There was a quonset hut living quarter
men on the submarine when it would tie up to the dock. It was our job
to make it
a comfortable as possible. The men in the submarine had to be special.
couldn’t furnish good weather, but at least we gave them fresh air and
to walk on. We were invited to go inside the sub, but I didn’t go in
thought I was too tall and big to get inside. I was afraid they would
close the door
after hearing about Bill N. big experience. The ship’s store had
fishing rods and
bait to sell. I think there were several Seabees made fishing a
from this experience. I wonder about those Dolly Varden trout and
how big they have grown in 55 years! Those were good times.
Company C built four airplane hangers that I helped work on the
We worked in some awful cold, bad weather. The hanger’s framework was
Douglas Fur trees brought in from the State of Washington. The trusses
over 100 feet long. The studding was 30 feet long, 12 inches wide by 4
The trusses and studding was precut and all we had to do was put them
There was 1 X 8 sheeting and tarpaper for the roof. Before we had one
finished they had a PBY and other planes pulled inside to work on them
the weather was getting pretty bad. The last to go in place was the
doors and I’m glad I wasn’t involved with hanging them. The men
involved in running heavy equipment worked on the runway 24 hours a
day. The equipment was never shut down and the men would work 12
hours shifts. The equipment and men were worked hard and several
men developed health problems.
They were put on 8-hour shifts. Other labor and we carpenters worked
a day. Working for 14 days straight you never knew when Sunday
wasn’t long until the PBYs and the Kingfishers were landing on the
The longer the runway got built the heavier and bigger the airplanes
got. In the
winter months the snow on the side of the runway was 15 to 20 feet
had snow blowers that blew the snow that high. With the strong
planes bucking against it, the planes would hit dead air when they got
top of the snow pile. It was hard for the pilots to adjust and some of
There were some men that couldn’t take the mental pressure. They were
sending them back to the States. We called the sickness “Rock Happy.”
Battalion was sent back to the States in April of 1944 after 11 months
We were sent home on a 30 day leave. I’m sure some people here at home
checking me for the “Rock Happy” problem. There was a lot to tell
longest and darkest winter in my life on Casco Peninsula, Attu,
I will try to make my oversea travels a short story. The 14 months
went fast and
it was the nice weather that was a joy I think. Here’s my tour of the
We went aboard the liberty ship USS Adrian on its maiden voyage to the
Pacific. It was an improved liberty ship with more speed and heavier
carpenter and welder Seabees got to build shelving and storage places
ship made its way south. There was a lot of welding to do. We ate our
with Ships Company. We didn’t have to stand in a long line for each of
meals. It was an enjoyable cruise. It was the best.
We sailed from San Francisco to Manus Island, part of the Admiralty
which is north of New Guinea. Seeadler harbor was the main base for
Navy Fleet for their invasion of the Philippines. When we were sailing
harbor a large group of Battleships, Aircraft Carriers and other ships
ready for the invasion. We were to anchor inside the harbor. On board
Liberty Ship were young replacement sailors that would be apart of
The main fleet was anchored outside the bay. These men were put to
soon as we got anchored.
The next morning early, a group of us men went ashore for supplies we
going to need. We were to sail on to Milne Bay in New Guinea. As we
cruising along the shore I spotted a freighter that Marshall Daughtery
cousin Lois is married to Marshall) was on as part the Arm Guard. I
chief in charge I would like to see him. He agreed and I was told to
meet at a
certain time at the dock. Marshall wasn’t out of bed and hadn’t had
yet. So I had another breakfast with Marshall and boy was that a
had just cruised up from Australia and we had fresh eggs with our meal
bacon too! On the Adrian we had nothing but powdered eggs. Marshall
went to the ship’s store and I bought a box of Harvester Cigars. The
the Adrian were low on everything, especially cigarettes and cigars.
When I did
make it back to the Adrian with that box of cigars, I had all kinds of
box of cigars didn’t last very long.
The following morning we were getting ready to go to Milne Bay New
Everyone was on top deck and we could see a freighter about a
the Adrian. There were boats from every different ship in the fleet
ammunition circling the USS Mt. Hood.
When we went ashore yesterday morning the Adrian was the only ship
out in the bay so the Mt. Hood must have anchored in the bay yesterday
or during the night. The Fleet was taking on ammunition for the
landing on the
Philippines. First there was a small explosion and then there was a
The fire and smoke raised high in the sky and it was shaped like a
cloud. Within minutes of the explosion the air was filled with British
fighters looking for the enemy. When the smoke cleared off the water,
no evidence the USS Mt. Hood ever existed. They said there were 600
men killed and it was a tragedy that touched every ship in the Fleet.
and a chief from the Mt. Hood went ashore to pick up mail for the crew
explosion and they were the only survivors. The explosion blew the end
quonset warehouses on shore beyond where Marshall’s ship was tied up
dock. There was a large piece of steel that hit the Adrian breaking a
extension off from the ship to tie the boat to shore. The Adrian must
more damage. They took us off the Adrian to look for damage and put us
shore. We spent the afternoon looking for bodies that might wash
didn’t find any.
Yesterday morning our detail was in a boat looking for the correct
dock to load up
supplies for the Adrian. If we were on the water when the explosion occurred,
would have blown us out of the water. If the explosion happened the
the large piece of steel that hit the Adrian could have traveled
another 15 feet, it
would have hit a crowded deck where we were enjoying the view. What a
difference a day makes. Several more lives could have been lost. They
know what caused the explosion.
The next morning we men were loaded on large landing crafts that could
100 or more troops and we headed toward Milne Bay, New Guinea. That
we sailed through the Bismarck Sea where earlier in the war was a big
battle that Japanese took a beating. That night was so level it looked
and a big bright moon was shining. There was a fellow playing guitar
and he was
pretty good. All the troops were out on the deck were all singing late
night. It was pleasant trip to Milne Bay. When we arrived, it was
morning and I
think it took us about two days to get there. We went ashore and got
our gear in
place. We were a replacement to a maintenance unit. We lived in tents
was pretty nice.
Now when we came into the Bay, it looked like the same naval fleet
that was at
Manus. Going into Milne Bay there was a freighter set out by itself.
It was the
last thing my mind that us carpenters would be working on it that
Navy fleet had taken the ammunition that they needed. The Navy Fleet
down to Milne Bay. Around noon we got word we were going out to the
to put wood shoring in place to keep the ammo from shifting down in
during high or rough seas. After seeing the Mt. Hood blow up, we
believe that we would be walking over the top of ammo all afternoon.
no smoking signs everywhere and they didn’t have to worry about us men
smoking, but we did drink a lot of coffee! It was fairly late in the
we left the ship. They had some sandwiches and some more coffee for us
During our two-month stay at Milne Bay we did take hikes back into the
area for pineapples, papaya and bananas. There were wild hogs in the
and they liked the pineapple patches too. You could see and hear the
and pigs leaving. I’d never seen a wild bore before. We would find all
pineapples that we wanted to eat, but this did me no good since I
to even look at them!
We did some fishing while we were there and we would take an old
out into the bay. We had a fellow that knew how to handle dynamite. He
fuse up a stick and throw it over the side and knock the fish silly so
float to the surface and we would gather them in. Our fishing trips
didn’t last too
many trips when our dynamite expert didn’t get a stick of TNT over the
the boat and blew the end of it off. We almost lost the explosive “expert”
process. (We were enjoying the war)
We went up to Hollandia, New Guinea (now is part of Indonesia and now
is called Jayapura). Our marines were driving the Japanese closer to
the process our navy shelled the area and they hit a native church.
Our first job
was to put the framework of the church back in place. The natives
grass roof on it. It was interesting to hear the natives talk. They
were a jolly
bunch of people to be around.
We would be on the job at eight in the morning. The natives would have
ten o’clock they would stop work, have lunch, leave and return around
o’clock in the afternoon. During this time they were at the river
fun. Us dumb Seabees worked right through the hot of the day.
We visited an American Mission that we had to use a boat to get to. It
was on a
Sunday and they were having church. It was neat to hear them sing our
in their language.
There was one more thing about my stay here at Hollandia. The area we
building this barrack was a big area of Red Cross barracks. There were
coming and going from the docks and people working in the hospital.
a Red Cross doughnut shack and they had doughnuts and coffee for
This was one of our stops going to and from work. They had goats that
milked for the making of the doughnuts. I think they had some of the
milk for the
sick in the hospital. One Monday morning going to work we found that
favorite doughnut shack had burned to the ground. The people that
were waiting for our crew to stop. They asked if we could build them a
shack. They already had the building supplies on the spot. We did get
permission to build before we started. It didn’t take us long to have
them back in
business. After that we carpenters got special attention.
It was at Hollandia that we were building a barrack in the hospital
area for our
wounded and sick. We were working on the roof and it was there that we
that President Roosevelt died. I think I was in the fourth grade when
he was first
elected President. I was here in Hollandia when I heard that we
Atomic bomb on Japan. That bought the war to an end.
They were sending troops back to the States by how many months they
the service and how many months spent overseas. I think they lost my
Everyone was in a hurry to get home.
When I got back home to Cedar Grove the Heifer Project was just
sending heifers overseas. I was talking to Virgil Deeter from Beech
he was working for our district heifer project. I told him that the
and babies were under nursed. Hogs was the native main meat supply and
they ran through the village like dogs. They said that some of the
on mother hogs. There is a lot of green foliage to feed goats and you
keep wild animals away from them. But I think that they would be an
ideal for our
district to think about sending a goat to New Guinea. The heifer
project did get in
touch with some missions and they did sent goats to New Guinea. The
the Bill Moore Goat Mission (no that’s a lie!). But I did see it first
hand and I knew
it would work.
I wrote down my thoughts as they came to me. The thirty-two months
had four Thanksgivings, four Christmas’ and three New Years overseas.
fourth New Year I was in Chicago IL. and I was on my home. So I guess
miss four New Years.
This is the end of my duty overseas. I know that the Lord Jesus was
with me all
the way. I think my Quaker prayer did work and I feel that I am well