WWII (1943-46)

“The Sailor & The Spindle” — Stories of the KIDD & the CHAUNCEY

Memory from: Crew of USS CHAUNCEY (DD-667)

Setting the Scene

Life in the Navy is fraught with danger, whether in peacetime or war. Ships that weigh thousands of tons do not stop on a dime. Sometimes, someone does not get the word of warning needed when working with dangerous equipment. Sailors have long memories, particularly when they feel that their ship has been maligned. The entry below comes to us from the crew of USS CHAUNCEY (DD-667), one of the KIDD's sisterships in DESDIV 96 of DESRON 48 during World War II. As you can see, like the KIDD with the NORTH CAROLINA, the CHAUNCEY crew in good humor does not let us forget our mistakes.

The Recollection

The deck log of the USS CHAUNCEY, the KIDD’s sister ship, records, on April 14, 1944, that at 2200 hours, the KIDD came along the starboard side too fast, striking down seven stanchions along the starboard gunwale, punching a two-inch hole above the waterline and smashing three dents in the steel plating along the bulkheads supporting the midship’s 40mm battery. This was the worst damage the CHAUNCEY suffered during the entire war. On another occasion, the KIDD pulled up astern with mail from home, preparatory to passing the mail bag. As customary in these situations, the fantail of the CHAUNCEY was cleared, and a line-throwing gun on the KIDD was brought forward to the foc’s’le. At the moment when the spindle and thin line was hurtling through the air from the bow of the KIDD to the fantail of the CHAUNCEY, one of the CHAUNCEY’s sailors stepped out onto the fantail from the hatch below and was struck in the right side with the spindle and line punching through two inches of the sailor’s muscle in his right side, without hitting any vital organs, knocking the sailor to the deck. [Editor’s Note: When reminded of the latter incident, Rear Admiral Allan B. Roby, the KIDD’s first commander, added the following recollection.] That’s not the end of the story. I well remember the event. The young sailor came out and was standing on the deck when the spindle knocked him down. He stood up and attempted to thread the spindle back through the hole in his side. Looking back at the KIDD, he was on the end of a long line over the dark sea, with the other end of the line holding the KIDD. A Boatswain Mate came out with an ax and cut the line. It was necessary to send the line over again. The next day, the crewmen of the KIDD took up a collection and bought a $50 war bond for the wounded sailor, whose side was quickly patched up, and he was not much worse for the experience. Thereafter, the sailors of the KIDD established a fund to buy the wounded CHAUNCEY sailor ice cream whenever the ships reached port.

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