Aboard DE-443

The USS Kendall C. Campbell was launched with its sister ship, USS Goss, on March 19, 1944.

USS Kendall C. Campbell, DE-443

 

Campbell’s Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N – K – O – F

img066
USS Kendall C. Campbell launching in March 1944

0644375

Dad was a Lieutenant JG and a plank owner (original crew member) aboard the USS Kendall C. Campbell. It was commissioned at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on July 28, 1944. The ship’s deck log noted visitors coming onboard for a luncheon at 12:30 and leaving by 13:20.  My mother fondly remembered being invited to dine in the officers’ quarters and  the special treatment afforded her as an officer’s wife.

Shipboard Pictures (28)
Invitation to Commissioning Ceremony  (courtesy of Len Nowak)

Several days after the commissioning, the ship left for Bermuda with 201 crew and 12 officers sharing 306 feet of space to undergo their shakedown cruise operation.  Then back to New York for post-shakedown availability.

Before the Campbell could begin war duties it steamed to the Naval Operating Base (NOB) in Norfolk, VA, and joined another DE and two Navy tankers.

USS Kendall C. Campbell History
United States
Laid down: 16 December 1943
Launched: 19 March 1944
Commissioned: 31 July 1944
Decommissioned: 31 May 1946
Struck January 1972
Fate: sold for scrapping 15 January 1973
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,350/1,745 tons
Length: 306 ft (93 m) (oa)
Beam: 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
Draught: 13 ft 4 in (4.06 m) (max)
Propulsion: 2 boilers, 2 geared turbine engines, 12,000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 24 knots
Range: 6,000 nm @ 12 knots
Complement: 14 officers, 201 enlisted
Armament: 2-5 in (130 mm), 4 (2×2) 40 mmAA, 10-20 mm AA, 3-21 inch (533 mm) TT, 1 Hedgehog, 8 DCT’s, 2 DC tracks

On October 4, 1944, there was a terrible accident on the ship in Norfolk.  A hand grenade exploded, unfortunately causing the death of James B. Ardrey, S2c, from Oklahoma City, OK.  He’d  only been in the Navy for a year and a half.    The accident also wounded Kenneth McIntosh and Howard L. Heath. Despite the tragedy, the Campbell left the next day for the Panama Canal where they reported to the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific fleet, for duty.  Then on to San Diego, CA and Pearl Harbor, HI.

According to the ship’s muster (roll of everyone onboard and their positions), there were men from nearly every state in the USA, and  also from Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides and Noumea, New Caledonia.  New Hebrides was located in Micronesia and is now known as Vanuata.  Vanuata served as a military base for the Allies and provided crewmen for the Navy as well.

The map below outlines the route the Campbell took in the South Pacific.  My father served as:  assistant engineering officer, senior deck watch officer, and my personal favorite, the movie officer.

Route the Campbell took during WW II

Growing up, most of my friends’ fathers served in World War II, but for whatever reason never talked about it.  When I was seven years old,  my father told me,  “The birds had squinty eyes.” I either believed him or sensed he didn’t want to talk about it.  However, my husband, Gene, talked to my father about the Campbell and where it went.

I came to be in possession of my father’s weathered service file in a round-a-bout way.  My mother saved it after my father’s death in 1996, and the record ended up in a box of old family photos at my sister Mimi’s house. Mimi gave it to Gene  in 2013 when he started to build his 1/96 scale model of the  USS Kendall C. Campbell.  The file sat on a shelf gathering dust for a year in Gene’s study.

In January 2014, I was searching for ancestry vital records, specifically about my father’s family, so opened the file.  While I didn’t find family records as hoped, it was a pleasant surprise to learn about my father’s career in the Navy and the journey of the USS Kendall C. Campbell.

It had a wealth of Navy records that were produced on typewriters, carbon copies, and mimeograph machines.  The pages were so fragile and worn that tiny pieces broke off when I handled them.

20160730_154430_resized (2)

I didn’t read about my father’s Navy service until 70 years after it happened. His service file made the story of the Campbell come alive.

20160730_155917_resized (2)

Dad was promoted to lieutenant while at sea.  His duty station was down below on the ship in Engine Room Number 2. I cannot  imagine what it must have been like in constant fear of attack by torpedoes, mines, or Kamikaze pilots.

20160730_160101_resized (2)

Besides the enemy, another danger facing ships was stormy weather. The USS Kendall C. Campbell saw severe turbulence weather  and was able to avoid the typhoon named Cobra near Luzon from December 14-19, 1944.   Winds were up to 140 miles per hour.

Len Nowak, sonar operator on the Campbell, told me during choppy weather it was hard to keep from being thrown out of their sleeping sacks, and food would just fall off their plates.

Even though the crew on my father’s ship were not storming the beaches in hand-to-hand combat, as depicted in television and movies, they served heroically by destroying enemy mines, fending off air attacks, rescuing twenty downed pilots, and participating in the destruction of Japanese midget subs.

IMG_0913
Officers inspecting the crew on deck in April 1945. My father is the junior officer second from the bottom. (Photo Courtesy of Len Nowak and Carmen Trimarchi)

On December 22, 1944, the Campbell celebrated Christmas, at anchor, with liberty on Mog Mog Island.

The USS Kendall C. Campbell  joined the  Luzon Attack Force at Lingayen Gulf in the Phillippines as an escort and anti-submarine vessel on New Year’s Day in 1945.  The Campbell endured numerous enemy air attacks but successfully repelled them during this operation.

On January 5, 1944, two enemy destroyers exiting Manila Bay were taken under fire by the largr vessels of the foreward van group.  The Campbell’s group was under attack by a sizeable group of Kamikazas, sustaining a direct hit on the USS Seiverling, DE 441, as well as a hit on the USS Omaney Bay CVE 76, resisting sinking by the USS Burns DD 588 — also hit USS California and an Australian cruiser.

There was a continuation of daylight air attacks from January 7-14, 1945.  The Campbell rescued two downed fighter pilots from the USS Bismark CVE 95 and three from the USS Hogattbay.

On January 27, 1945, at night, the Campbell was struck mid ship on the starboard side followed by damage to the propeller — a possible torpedo.  Excessive vibration and starboard shaft — but able to maintain screen speed.

The Campbell participated in invasion and landing operations at Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Third Fleet final action operations against the Japanese mainland as a hunter-killer anti-submarine group.

The Campbell detached from the escort group to anchior south of Iwo Jima on March 11, 1945, to act as mail ship.  They viewed the raising of the US flag on Mount Sarabachi.

c (3)
View of Iwo Jima from the USSS Kendall C. Campbell  (courtesy of Len Nowak)

On March 25, 1945, the Campbell was under attack from kamikaze enemy planes out of  Okinawa.  By April 6th these attacks were almost daily.  Great air coverage from the USS Tulagi’s fighter squadrons protected the Campbell and others.  The attackers were downed before reaching the group.

I found old Life magazines on eBay from that time period when Life was published weekly and cost ten cents.

20160731_163952_resized (3)
Battle of Iwo Jima in February-March, 1945

On July 30th an approaching typhoon required the Campbell to change its patroling station to the south.

The Campbell’s Commander, “Dick” Warner, oversaw day-to-day operations and was responsible for documenting the ship’s history.  His diary  gave me insight into life aboard the Campbell.

The ship’s history gave details of its success as part of Hunter Killer Task Forces credited with sinking three (3) Japanese midget submarines in August 1945.

The men earned four (4) bronze stars for their support in the Philippine Liberation, battles of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the final coastal raids prior to the planned invasion of Japan.  The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshimo, August 6, 1945, made the invasion unnecessary as the War ended.

The Campbell also sighted and destroyed twenty-three (23) enemy mines by gunfire during the period covered by this history.”

“The Campbell was fortunate enough to rescue a total of (20) pilots and air crewmen from navy aircraft which were downed in the Pacific waters, a record of which we feel justly proud.”

Shipboard Pictures (5) copy
Returning a downed pilot to his carrier (courtesy of Len Nowak and Carmen Trimarchi)

The individual name, rank, and ship of the rescued men are listed at the end of the ship’s history.

20160730_155132_resized (3)
The names of the rescued crew members, with rank, name of plane, date, and assigned ship
b (2)
Tokyo Bay for the signing ceremony (courtesy of Len Nowak)

The Campbell was with the first group of US Naval groups to enter Tokyo  Bay prior to the signing of the surrender.  On September 2nd, the ship’s men joined thousands of sailors and newsmen who had the honor of witnessing the official Japanese surrender aboard the Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

IMG_0250 (2)
Ships present on 9/2/45 for signing of surrender (Courtesy of Len Nowak)

Lieutenant Commander Elmer wrote a personal thank you note to my father on October 15, 1945:

“As an engineering officer and senior deck watch officer, and while serving on this ship from 31 July 1944 to the present, you performed your duties in a manner which met the high standards of the naval service.  Your knowledge of engineering and dependability as a watch officer in wartime contributed materially to the successful completion of the mission of this command.”

After the War, my father received a letter from James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy.

20160730_155210_001_resized (2)
Letter to my father from the Secretary of the Navy

My sister also gave us a brass plaque that she found with my father’s  service file.  Gene researched it and identified that it belonged to one of the 5-inch guns on my father’s ship and described the tram angles for mounts #1 and 2.

Tram Plate
Brass plaque from gun mount on the Campbell

Campbell Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons


Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right

Top Row:   Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive)

Second Row:   American Campaign Medal – Asiatic-Pacific    Campaign Medal w/ 4 stars – WWII Victory Medal

Third Row:   Navy Occupation Service Medal w/ Asia Clasp – Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation – Philippine Liberation Medal


My father’s ship did its job well, ever-vigilant against enemy attacks. It never suffered serious damage.  And never lost a man during combat operations although one man died during training before the ship left for the Pacific.

Dad served aboard  for 16 months until disembarking at San Pedro, California in November 1945.  After several days processing, he boarded a train to return home to his famiy in Philadelphia.  The 3,020 mile trip took him five days.

On completion of my research, I wrote an article “My Father and the USS Kendall C. Campbell” and submitted it to Tim Rizutto, Executive Director, USS Slater museum. He was kind enough to publish it in the Slater’s 4th Q 2015 newsletter.

                                                                                       
Next Page

6 thoughts on “Aboard DE-443”

  1. Hey there! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *