AN AIREDALE GOES ON WEATHER PATROL
Given the time frame, immediately after World War II when the Coast Guard was in disarray, This airedale found out that transportation to Argentia on a 255 which turned out to be three 255's, Mendota, Androscoggin, and Winnebago, wasn't easy.
I remember well how the Coast Guard went about expanding it's fleet, especially
the 255s, to fulfill the Weather Patrol commitments!
In June 1946 I was transferred to the Boston Representative of the North Atlantic Ocean Patrol for transportation to the Coast Guard Air Detachment at Argentia NAS, Newfoundland. I was an Aviation Machinist Mate 3/C. An Airedale at the mercy of General Service Sailors.
The term "shanghaied" had not yet entered my mind. I was assigned to the CGC WINNEBAGO (WPG-40) for the trip. And quartered in what was called "Survivors Quarters", which was, I believe, made from the removed aft twin 5-inch guns, upper handling room.
The first morning the MAA rousted me from my bunk to turn to and help with the reloading of the 500 5-inch projectiles and 500 powder cans for the forward twin mount guns. And he threw in numerous 40mm rounds which came in pretty heavy cans. This was all done manually, of course, with a lot of bending, twisting, lifting on my part. The gunners mates got to push the buttons for the ammo hoist. WINNEBAGO had just come out of dry dock and everything had to be reloaded. It seemed as though I personally got to handle nearly "everything".
The next morning the MAA again made a special trip to my private survivor quarters. We were to load stores from a railroad car right there on the pier. He helped me roll out of the sack. (I'm glad I was on the lower bunk!) The only muscles that didn't hurt were my eyeballs. Getting dressed was a major task. I had never hurt so much in my life. Loading 100-pound sacks of potatoes, onions, carrots and whatever else, took much of the stiffness out of what was left of my muscles and bones.
The third day I was told to report to the bridge. Someone reviewing my records, for what reason I can't recall, noted I had been a Quartermaster before becoming an Aviation Machinist Mate. So I was assigned to help the only other Quartermaster on board stand watch. We then proceeded to sea for a tour of Ocean Weather Station Charlie. Normally the weather ships put into Argentia to top off fuel tanks before going on station. Not this time! Straight from Boston to "Charlie." "Oh, we'll drop you off on our return," is what I was promised, but, a problem in the engine room sent us straight back to Boston!
Back in Boston I and numerous members of the WINNEBAGO crew were reassigned to the CGC ANDROSCOGGIN (WPG 68). We shared station "Bravo" with Canada, and it was "our turn". Argentia was not even a possibility! Of course I once more had my private quarters which, by the way, were a significant distance from the mess hall and the head. But I did have quarters to myself.
By this time "Shanghaied" was a key word in my
might also mention seasickness. Not the only crew member seasick
and eating everything twice, but the only Aviation Machinist Mate. And, yes, being afraid I
was "not" going to die is the best description I can give.
Back in Boston, I attempted to remind someone that I was just there for transport to Argentia. "Sorry you got caught in the system", they said. The CGC MENDOTA would "take me there". Dumb me. I thought that meant from Boston. Not on the return from Station Able. Anyhow, I finally made it to my duty station with the CG Air Detachment, Argentia. Which started my overseas tour date. Not when I started Weather Patrols, where I was to relearn a lot of QM things.
My hat is off to those who manned the 255-foot cutters day in, day out, years on end. I really regret that so many names have faded into distant memories. Thanks for letting me reminisce.
Ted A. Morris is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel
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