When we left the USS Sway (AM-120) in our last installment, she had just departed Algeria en route to the United States. The Sway had been in the European/North African theater of operations since 1943. She had participated in operations Shingle and Dragoon, had come under fire in Italy and Southern France, and been involved in a friendly-fire incident with General Mark Clark. Now she was en route to the United States for a major overhaul and refit before reporting to the Pacific Fleet for operations against Japan. My grandfather had joined the ship in May 1944, and as of 1 January 1945 he had risen to the rank of quartermaster third class. (All entries are from the ship's war journal unless otherwise noted.)
1–19 January 1945
Under way from Oran, Algeria, to U.S.A.
Also reported on the ship's muster roll 1 January 1945:
“S1c Thomas Schreck to QM3.” As of that day he was promoted to quartermaster third class.
19 January 1945
0905—Moored port side Mine Depot Pier, Yorktown, Virginia, to unload depth charges and hedgehog ammunition. 1045—completed unloading. 1230 Got under way for N.O.B. Norfolk, Virginia, 1522—Moored portside to convoy escort pier, N.O.B. Norfolk.
After crossing the Atlantic the Sway had arrived back in the United States for repairs and refitting. The Naval Mine Depot in Yorktown, Virginia, had been established during World War I and today still operates as the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station.
20 January 1945
1437—Under way for Craney Island, Virginia, to unload fuel. 2325—completed unloading.
21 January 1945
1003—Under way for Navy Yard. 1105—Moored Pier 2, St. Helena Annex, Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, for repairs and alterations.
The Sway would remain here undergoing refitting through 5 March.
And here is an entry from my grandfather’s journal under “Civilians I've met in the service.” I include this here since he met the woman described while in Norfolk.
Shirley Peterson A Girl I Would
like to write about but can't.
Won't be easy to forget how
nice she was to a lonely gob.
"Benny" Jordan Shirley's sister. She
acts crazy at times and is a darn
good dancer. Has two nice little girls
named "Pat" and "Katey." Has a heart
of gold and is about the nicest
family I met in Norfolk.
This is the one of the last down periods before the Sway sailed for the Pacific theater. As entries in coming days would show, the Sway would begin loading munitions and supplies along with undergoing training exercises and general shakedown after a long overhaul. She then sailed for Florida for some additional refitting en route to the Pacific. As the war was winding down in Europe, Allied forces were pushing more and more toward Japan and the planned invasion of the Home Islands.
6 March 1945
At navy yard. 1300—Left Navy Yard for fuel piers, Craney Island, Norfolk. 1432—Moored to Pier C, Fuel Depot Craney Island, Norfolk, for fueling.
7 March 1945
At Craney Island. 0915—Under way for C.E. Piers, Norfolk. 1105—Moored starboard side to Pier 23 Convoy Escort Piers, N.O.B. Norfolk.
8–11 March 1945.
At Convoy Escort Piers, N.O.B. Norfolk, loading stores, provisions, and ammunition, and squaring away ship after long overhaul.
12 March 1945
At Convoy Escort Piers, N.O.B. Norfolk. 0812—Under way for RDF calibration and magnetic compass compensation off Cape Charles City, Chesapeake Bay. 1703—Moored to starboard side USS Speed (AM-116) at berth 51, Pier 5, N.O.B. Norfolk. This and subsequent events part of training period assigned by Commander Service Squadron FIVE.
13 March 1945
At Pier 5, N.O.B. Norfolk. 0817—Under way for Yorktown, Virinia. 1128—Moored to pier at Naval Mine Depot, Yorktown. Loaded depth charges and bomb-type ammunition. 1555—Under way from Yorktown to anchorage off Cape Charles City, Virginia. 1806—Anchored in Chesapeake Bay off Cape Charles City for night.
14 March 1945
Anchored off Cape Charles City. 0625—Under way for adjustment of magnetic minesweeping gear. 1150—Completed adjustment. Stood toward Little Creek, Virginia. 1430—Moored at Frontier Base, Little Creek.
15 March 1945
At Little Creek. 0001—Under way with USCGC Mako for special tests. 0051—Took Mako in tow. Stood out Thimble Shoals channel in very heavy fog. Radar navigation necessary. 0224—Cleared Cape Henry, fog lifted. 0745—Arrived at assigned rendezvous, slipped tow. Standing by Mako. Mako unable to conduct tests because of failure of generator for special instruments. 1340—Canceled tests, took Mako in tow, set course for Chesapeake Bay entrance. 1754—Entered Chesapeake Bay approach channel. 1945—Entered Thimble Shoals Channel. 2041—Tug from Little Creek took Mako in tow. Stood into Little Creek independently. 2127—Moored at Little Creek. 2213—Under way for N.O.B. Norfolk. 2340—Moored portside to Pier 5, N.O.B. Norfolk.
16 March 1945
At N.O.B. Norfolk. 1304—Under way for Army Piers, Norfolk. 1349—Moored portside YF-337 and YF-466, Army Base, Norfolk. Unloaded depth charges. 1526—Left Army Base and arrived south side, Pier 5, N.O.B. Norfolk at 1600.
YF craft like the ones mentioned above were non-self-propelled, shore-dependent, steel-covered lighters designed to carry cargo requiring protection from the weather in harbors, rivers, or other protected waters. The craft were designed to carry a distributed load on their main decks within the deckhouse structure.
17 March 1945
At N.O.B. Norfolk. 0745—Left N.O.B. Norfolk and arrived St. Helena Annex, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, at 0855 for replacement of magnetic tail.
18 March 1945
At St. Helena Annex, Norfolk. 0818—Left St. Helena Annex and stood out in lower Chesapeake Bay for adjustment of new magnetic tail. 1739—Anchored off Cape Charles City for the night.
19 March 1945
Anchored off Cape Charles City. 0758—Under way and streamed and adjusted "O" type minesweeping gear. 1125—Completed adjustment. Made rendezvous and adjusted magnetic minesweeping equipment. Returned to Pier 7, N.O.B. Norfolk, arriving 1854.
19 March 1945
0715—Left N.O.B. Norfolk, arrived at Army Base Norfolk, at 0800. Loaded depth charges and left 1030. Stood up to firing area off San Marcos Wreck, Chesapeake Bay. Fired surface and A.A. practice in company with USS Symbol (AM-123) and returned to N.O.B. Norfolk, arriving at 2154.
21–22 March 1945
0802—Left N.O.B. Norfolk in company with Mine Division 18. Stood out to operating area off approaches to Chesapeake Bay entrance. Held tactical exercises and minesweeping drills returning to Pier 23, Convoy Escort Piers, Norfolk, 1811, 22 March.
23–26 March 1945
At Convoy Escort Piers, Norfolk, preparing for sea. At 1314, 23 March, Inspection Board, Captain P. C. Wirtz, Senior Member, held departure inspection of personnel and material, completing inspection at 1600.
27 March 1945
1458—Left Convoy Escort Piers, Norfolk, in company Mine Division 18 for Miami, Florida, in accordance with COMSERVLANT Dispatch 2613 25 March. Took departure from Buoy "XS" at 2140.
The Sway now was under way for Miami, where she would go through more refitting before setting sail for the Pacific theater. My grandfather also would experience an event in his life there that I never had been aware of until undertaking this project . . . but more on that in the next installment.