Red Headed Stepchild
(The Barrett family memoir of Navy Life)
by Sophie Ruth Meranski with photos

 

Carrier YORKTOWN photo #780 p 24
Carriers played a decisive role in World War in the Pacific, especially in great battles of Coral Sea May 7, l942, Midway June 4-5, l942, amphibious operations including Guadalcanal August l942-Feb l943, and battles of Philippines Sea and Leyte Gulf l944. Sophie Barrett's memoir includes extensive materials on Commander Phil Dehlquist's experiences on the carrier YORKTOWN at Coral Sea and Midway. The Yorktown was badly damaged at Coral Sea but special emergency repairs prepared for her to participate in critical Battle of Midway four weeks later, though Yorktown was not at full speed and ultimate was sunk by a Japanese sub more than a day after the main battle in which Japan lost four big carriers - the turning point of the war.Dahlquist tells how the YORKTOWN developed fire=prevention techniques by cutting airplane fuel hoses when enemy bombers were detected approaching,so that she would not have the huge fires that doomed ENTERPR ISE at Coral Sea.However, she had too much structural damage, and could not move fast enough back to port to elude an enemy sub. Dahlquist lowered a temporarily blinded sailor when "Abandon-ship" was ordered - the rope was too short - Dahlquist had to alert a rescue vessel - then cut the rope, and the sailor drpped the last few feet and was recued though startled. Jack Barrett's friend Dr. James B. Moloney Boston Ltion l9l0 Harvard college l9l4 Harvard Medical l9l7 was a career Navy surgeon l9l7-l950. He was at battle of Midway and thought very highly of Admiral Spruance, who he saw frequently aboard Northampton - Spruance also directed U.S. effort at Midway from Carrier ENTERP RISE, which sank three Japanese carriers.Moloney advised John Barrettt junior on hospital Economics thesis l956 and made many suggestions for material for Barrett family memoir. He lived at Harvard Club of boston l950-l976, then following aorta aneurysm at Soldiers Home, Chelsea Mass. to September l980. Sophie text:'th from the Coral Sea that #75 DAHLQUIST YORKTOWN at MIDWAY June 4-5 l942 {Authors of particular passages named in brackets} {SOPHIE BARRETT} I shall now quote many sections of this long letter because it is a first hand account of the last weeks of the aircraft carrier YORKTOWN by Commander Dahlquist,who was one of the survivors when she was sunk at Midway.{PHIL DAHLQUIST}"The thing about our carriers being sunk was that they caught fire & burned to the extent that we very often had to sink them with our own torpedos when they became so badly burned it was impossible to salvage them.To my knowledge the YORKTOWN was the only carrier which had to be bombed & torpedoed until it sank.It did not burn.By this I mean-there is always a fire when a bomb hits a ship.We had such fires-lots of them-but they were brought under control quickly & contained 7 it did not interfere with the battle efficiency of the ship to any great extent.I remember that after the LEXINGTON was sunk in the Coral Sea we all got our heads together & decided we were not going to burn as did the LEX.But how to do that?You see, there are gasoline fueling lines running from the main fuel tanks up to the hangar deck & the flight deck for the fueling of the planes.We could & did launch as many as a hundred planes at one sitting,& that called for a lot of gasoline.Then when the ship was hit with a bomb or a torpedo, it was to be expected that these gasoline lines throughout the ship would become ruptured, & gasoline would be accumulated in various places in the ship.It was just a question of how long before it would become ignited by a spark from some electrical apparatus.This happened to the LEXINGTON, & I imagine to the other carriers which had burned as well.We had these same fuel lines, & we decided that when p.562 an alarm was sounded of approaching aircraft we would cut off the lines at the main tanks by a valve, & then blow high pressure air through the pipes to blow the gasoline in them overboard. We did this & we had no gasoline fires as a result- or maybe we were just lucky- I don't know.About the Battle of Midway we were on our way up from the Coral Sea & feeling a little sorry for ourselves as we had taken quite a beating.We had a bit of repairs to be made-& all we could think of was about six months in Bremerton navy Yard- & our families. That was when I suggested to Peg that she run over & call on her friend Vi Hawes.Peg was living in Norfolk at the time,& Vi lived in San Diego.But she took the hint & shipped things out to the West Coast & drove out with the children.{JOHN BARRETT note}(Note- this appears to have gotten past the censors, whereas a statement the YORKTOWN would be coming to San Diego would have been censored) {PHIL DAHLQUIST letter continues}It was when she got to San Pedro that she had the accident.It was also on the way north from the Coral Sea that we found out that the Jap code had been broken.We found that ships of various types were being ordered out from Japan to be assembled at a rendezvous & when there they would split up- some going to the Aleutian Islands for a diversionary attack to draw our carriers & heavy ships up there- & then they could attack Midway with their main fleet of four carriers plus battleships & a whole mess of ships.We had no battleships at the time & only a few heavy cruisers & three carriers, counting the YORKTOWN,which was slowed down a lot due to damage from bomb hits in the Coral Sea.We had a submarine spotted at the rendezvous point with instructions to remain hidden & to just report the various types & numbers of ships arriving & departing.This sub reported the arrival & departure of the expedition for the Aleutians & also reported the massing of the Jap fleet for its attack on Midway.We arrived at Pearl on the day the attack on the Aleutians took place,& the other two carriers & the escorting cruisers pulled out of Pearl Harbor as fast as they could & were presumably headed for the Aleutians.I'm sure that Jack knew all about this. One division of light cruisers (MARBLEHEAD type) did go on up to the Aleutians.The rest of our ships changed course one hundred miles out & headed for Midway.We were given two days' emergency overhaul & repairs to the YORKTOWN, & then we left too.There also went our six months overhaul in the Navy Yard.We ran as fast as we could & joined up with the two carriers to the northeast of Midway before the Japs had arrived.The Japs were sighted by small B-17's.The Japs hit & messed up Midway pretty badly,& the Marines there were given a bad mauling.The YORKTOWN was not able to keep up with the other two carriers because of the damage to the ship in the Coral Sea.So we laid back some twenty to thirty miles & hoped to send our planes to the attack, which we did.Then when the three Jap carriers & some of their cruisers were page 564 finished & the whole Jap fleet was running every which way, we saw a flight of enemy bombers coming in to attack us.They had come from the fourth carrier, which had taken their station behind us & had not been spotted up to then. Well, we were too far away for the other carriers to help us, & our escorting cruiser & the destroyers stayed with us,& we took a pretty bad bombing.Our power was knocked out,& we were dead in the water for a while.We took several very severe hits.Finally we got some headway on the ship & were making seventeen knots.Then we got word there was another flight of enemy planes coming in. These we knew would be torpedo planes.Several of their planes were shot down, but we took two tropedoes on our port side just where they might have exploded our magazines if we hadn't flooded them.I have often thought how lucky we were this didn't happen.It would have blown the ship to pieces,& we would have lost most of our crew.The hits put holes in our side that one could have driven a truck through, & we listed very badly.To keep from losing a lot of men,the skipper ordered the ship abandoned. We went over the side, after tossing life rafts overboard- & then slid down lines to the water & swam to the rafts.Then they would pull away & be picked up by destroyers. I was finally picked up by the destroyer ANDERSON together with a hundred or more other men.Then I was transferred to a cruiser & finally to a submarine tender which was to take us to Pearl.A Japanese submarine fired four torpedoes at the stricken YORKTOWN at very close range. Two of them hit the YORKTOWN & two of them hit the destroyer standing by.The destroyer was sunk immediately, & the YORKTOWN could not be helped from then on. The YORKTOWN turned over & sank (on the morning of June 6 - check date).She & the destroyer were the only two American ships to be hit in the whole engagement. The fourth Jap carrier was sunk by our planes joined by planes from the other three carrier. I arrived at Pearl Harbor with what I was standing in at the time I left the ship-shoes, pants,shirt & a cap.I felt pretty lucky.We lost very few men from our ship,We lost a lot of our pilots, especially those flying the slow torpedo planes.I waited in Pearl for well over a month before I could get orders home.And the it was the HENDERSON. I could have walked faster." {SOPHIE BARRETT comments} #75 DAHLQUIST evacuating wounded from carrier YORKTOWN at Battle of Midway June 4-5 l942 from manuscript additions pages u & w following page ll9:When all the secret preparations were being made at Pearl Harbor, Jack's l924-l927 friend from the MARBLEHEAD Philip Christain Dahlquist in l970 a retired Lietenant Commander at 790 East Thirty-Sixth Street,Eugene Oregon, was on the carrier YORKTOWN, which was damaged in the main battle June 4. Enemy subs frustrated efforts to bring the disabled carrier back to port -she had been hurriedly repaired following serious damage in early May at the Battle of Coral Sea. When on June 5 the order came to "Abandon ship," Dahlquist saw a young sailor on deck whose head & eyes were covered with bandanges due to earlier wounds.He was temporarily blinded.Dahlquist ordered some men to put a rope around the lad to lower him over the side.But when he was several feet above the life raft, he just dangled in the air as the amount of rope was insufficient to reach the raft.Signalling the men in the raft what he was about to do, Dahlquist cut the rope, & the boy fell in the water & was taken onto the raft after a very harrowing time in the water.Dahlquist did not know who the boy was & had himself to go over the side quickly as the ship was sinking.On the destroyer that rescued Dahlquist he had a pair of pants, a shirt,& a cap.When they reached Pearl Harbor,he did not go to Jack's office for transportation, because all survivors were kept in the hills of Pearl Harbor to prevent interviews by reporters who might get information about losses of ships & personnel that would be valuable to the Japanese.After about a month he arrived in California where his wife &three sons were hospitalized following a bad automobile accident.His wife Peggy & one son were critically injured.Eventually Dahlquist's next work assignment was at a Naval prison in Virginia.One day his corpsman told him that a young prisoner who had seen his name as being present there requested permission to talk with him. Dahlquist immediately reecognized him as a baker's striker from the YORKTOWN.They discussed the ship, & the sailor told Dahlquist that he was very angry because some "S.O.B." had cut the line (rope) he was using to abandon ship-& he had a rough time in the water before he was picked up, because he couldn't see anything due to the bandages over his eyes.After the sailor had recovered from his injuries,he requested leave to go home to recuperate & relax & regain his confidence, but a young officer refused the leave. Whereupon he went home & when he returned we was courtmartialed for being AWOL (absent without official leave) & subsequently sentenced to a year in the Prison,where he was currently serving the time.When Dahlquist explained that he was the"S.O.B." who cut the line to save the boy's life by freeing him from the sinking ship, the boy was quick to understand & said he still loved the Navy.When his term was drastically reduced,he returned happily to War service & gave a good account of himself.We had a picture of Dahlquist & of the lad taken at the Prison.Although Jack did not see his former shipmate Dahlquist at Pearl Harbor, he did see many others & took great pride in the fact that many of his former junior officers had important commands of their own in the Pacific theater ofthe war.Throughout his Naval career Jack was interested in developing the younger officers, the petty officers & the enlisted men. Phil Dahlquist, who enlisted as a sailor at a young age in supply from Lancaster in northern Minnesota, was commissioned for heroism at Coral Sea & Midway on carrier YORKTOWN May-June l942. {John Barrett notes)One of his sons became an Army officer, another and artist.He & his wife Peggy corresponded extensively with the Barretts in the l970s.They took an interest in the efforts of Vice Admiral Joseph E. Stika USGC Retired to obtain quality health care for his wife, & they participated in letter round robins with Sophie Barrett in West Roxbury,, Admiral Stika in Fort Worth, Texas & Norfolk Virginia, Ivan McCormack in Salem New York, & others.Phil worked as a timber salesman aftrer retirement & told us when he & Peggy traveled the Inside Passge to Alaska.He was a sports fan & especially interested in University of Oregon sports. A basketball star at the University of Oregon in Eugene was Ronnie Lee, who had attended Catholic Memorial high School in Wst Roxbury - Phil sent many newsclippings from the Eugene newspaper. __ Admiral King#75ee In the June 1971 issue of the United States Naval Institute Proceedings magazine, Admiral J.J. Clark has an article on Ernie King (Fleet Admiral Earnest King) entitled, "Sundowner par Excellence". Admiral Clark was on theYORKTOWN in eaRLY 1942 WHEN JACK'S FRIEND AND shipmate of MARBLEHEAD days, Lieutenant Commander Phil Dahlquist was a paymaster on the YORKTOWN. {Sophie Barrett note:}In response to our inquiry, CommanderDahlquist wrote on November 5th l97l:{ Another Phil DAHLQUIST letter follows} "Dear John, Yes, I know AdmiralJ.J. Clark quite well. He was our Executive Officer until just before Midway when he was ordered home to be made a captain and to take command of the new Lexington.Later when I came back to the mainland after the YORKTOWN was sunk at Midway - and was stationed at Camp Peary and commuting from Norfolk to Newport News on the ferry, on weekends, I would seem to catch the same boat as he did each time. and we invariably found each other and re-fought the battle of the carriers many times.He went from Commander to a fourstar Admiral in something like three years.While in the YORKTOWN with him, he was in firiest person I've known in the Navy, I think. He would be on the bridge and see something going on down on the deck, - and he didn't need any megaphone to assist him. There was a blast- usually accompanied with various degress of profanity- and some very choice words at that-and while the edges werre curled somewhat, I did survive.That evening I was up on the Flight deck getting a bit of air before going to bed. I heard somebody just behind me and looked back and saw Commander Clark walking fast to catch up with me. He told me how peaceful it seemed up here in the nice evening air, and he felt rested after a walk. Then he told me how he used to go fiushing with a bamboo pole and a cork float and with a worm on the hook for bait.He was from Oklahoma, I believe. I said that I had done all of those things too as a kid and that I often thought of those times as being some of the best recollections of my childhood. We walked and talked for some two hours and never a mention of anything about the ship. I think he had been in an airplane accident shortly before I knew him, and this gave him the appearance of hobbling along.Believe me - it didn't slow him down the least bit.He was part Indian - just how much I do not know. But he never hesitated about speaking his piece and his choice 0f words was most enlightnening, and nobody ever mistook his meaning.The title of the article leads me to believe that I might have been in the center of what he was writing about.I would like very much to see the article.I will return the article to you promptly.I am enclosing a bit of the tape that I had around a folder in my file. This is not the red tape that you mention. (Jack Barrett had shown John red tape rolled on a cylinder that was constantly used at his office at Pearl Harbor. but it is very similar. I believe that the red tape that you mentioned might haave been a bit heavier and wider - but not very much.We always carried it in stock, and I'm almost certain that any big stationery store would know of it. We used it to tie up file copies of our quarterly returns and other things that would be stored away for possible future reference. This tape would never rot out like rubber bands.- and this is the famous "red tape" that people deried through the many years.Actually it was a very necessary and useful thing to have around an office. It came rolled in a cylinder and was of a brick red color. I had alway had the highest regard for Admiral King up until the Battle of the Coral Sea (May l942). On page 50 of my Log in the first full paragraph on this apge you will note the OPNAV (Admiral King) was giving us (the YORKTOWN) a bad time. I have an idea that this is what Clark mught have been referring to, or part of it.. While I was at Camp Peary, several of the Reserve officers were getting spot promotions, and I remarked about it to the Commodore [Clark]. He grinned and said," Oh, well Phil, they expect us to to the job without the promotions." I guess so - but we like to eat and have nice things too."- Phil Dahlquist."
Subject: carrier YORKTOWN (D)
Year: 1942YORKTOWN