WWII (1943-46)

“Friendly Fire” from Battleship NORTH CAROLINA — Part 2

Memory from: Lieutenant (jg) Arthur Black

Setting the Scene

KIDD was generally alert to emphasize the positive aspects of any event. In this instance, it happened that the forward damage control party was exercising in the immediate vicinity of the location where one star shell entered the crew's quarters. They had an assumed casualty strapped in a stretcher preparing to lift him up to a medical station on the deck above. Just as the stretcher was about to be lifted from the deck, the star shell entered and crossed just above the chest of the pretended casualty. A fleck of steel, or paint, or a splinter struck the right forehead of the pretended casualty. It was a minute abrasion having no harmful effect. The skipper sent a message to OTC, something as follows: "KIDD claims to be the best prepared ship in the Navy. We had a victim already strapped in the stretcher when he was wounded." Lieutenant (jg) Arthur Black recounts the NORTH CAROLINA incident in more detail regarding the "pretended casualty."

The Recollection

As I recollect–and I may be wrong–one shell passed through the doctor’s quarters and took out all of his clothes. The other shell, which went through the ship from starboard to port, passed directly over one of my radarmen, namely Walter Jordan, who was acting as a casualty in a simulated disaster drill. Walter, at the time, was strapped down in a basket-type stretcher. To this day, nobody knows how he ever got out of it. But out he got and was up in the radar shack within a few seconds, shaking like a leaf, but declaring that he was okay and not really scared. I also remember that Jack Matthews, who was junior officer of the deck at the time, stuck his head into the radar shack and said to George Hill, our exec at the time, “Mr. Hill, star shells are hitting us, and this is no drill.” When we finally rejoined the formation, we were called alongside the NORTH CAROLINA and received packets of ice cream for the entire crew. We also received a huge box for the wardroom, and when it was opened, there was a huge cake which had on it the date of the “engagement,” the name of the ship, USS KIDD, and a large Purple Heart in icing. After that, we were always treated very well by the NORTH CAROLINA.

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