THE COAST GUARD AT WAR: IV
THE NORTH ATLANTIC SYSTEM
While the work on the Nova Scotia stations preceded with the joint efforts of the Radiation Laboratory, Royal Canadian Navy and U.S. Navy and field tests were being arranged, further thought was being given to installations to serve more important sectors of the North Atlantic.
The Radiation Laboratory had in general discussions talked about a North Atlantic convoy route, but beyond some visits to Newfoundland and Radiation Laboratory proposals that Canada operate such stations, little had resulted. Conferences between the Radiation Laboratory and the U.S. Naval Liaison Officer (Captain Harding) resulted in proposals by the officer that instead of attempting to set up a continuous chain of stations as the Radiation Laboratory visualized, certain key sectors by groups of stations. The Navy continually emphasized the necessity for conserving time and speeding usable results if the system was to be of practical value in the war.
Accordingly, careful advance studies were made by Capt. Harding and the Radiation laboratory and Commander Donald B. MacMillan, USNR, the famed explorer, furnished invaluable advice and assistance in spanning the difficult gaps from Nova Scotia towards Europe. By the end of June, the general areas had tentatively been decided upon.
It was at this point of development and expansion that the Radiation Laboratory began to fully realize that it lacked by far the volume of trained personnel necessary to man stations for regular operation. Since it was increasingly hopeful that the system would prove of valve to the Navy, the Laboratory requested Captain Harding to obtain personnel either from the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Coast Guard to man the proposed Greenland station, and also eventually to man the units at Fenwick and Montauk. These men were to be trained along with the Canadians both at the Laboratory and the two stations in operation. At this time it was still planned for the Canadian Navy to man any Newfoundland-Labrador stations as well.
A survey party for sites #5 and #6 consisting of Commander MacMillan, USCR, Captain Harding, USCG, and Dan Fink of the Radiation laboratory departed Quonset, R.I. in a U.S. Naval seaplane, 15 July 1942, they stopped briefly at Shediac, New Brunswick to pick up Dr. Waldschmitt and Lt. Comdr. Argyle, RCNR, and continued to Newfoundland. This was the first really difficult foreign field survey trip since the two stations in Nova Scotia were in communities or areas served by public transportation.
The technique developed by Captain Harding during the survey for sites #5 and #6 served as a prototype for subsequent surveys. It was conducted by plane, small boat and on foot. The idea of a preliminary survey of the coastline from the air was Captain Harding's and proved efficient and economical in time and energy. The log of the above survey, as kept by Mr. J. A. Waldschmitt of the Radiation laboratory, after joining the party in the S-42 at Shediac, New Brunswick, 15 June 1942 follows:
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After stopping briefly at Shediac to pick up Lt. Comdr. Argyle and Mr. Waldschmitt the flight continued to Newfoundland that same day. Bad weather in the Newfoundland Mountains forced them down at Day of Isles where they spent the night. On 16 July they took off again and after a short stop at Botwood, Newfoundland, proceeded by air, the same day, to Bona Vista.
On 16 July, the site for #5 was finally selected; near Bona Vista, on a point jutting out to sea. Contact was made with the local contractor the Laboratory intended to employ for the construction, a man by the name of Heber Way and arrangements were made with him to accept consignments.
On 17 July, the party left Bona Vista by air, and returned to Botwood where they were held over by band weather conditions. An amusing incident occurred to Waldschmitt at the Canadian air base here, on the morning of the 18th. Rising late, he had decided to forego breakfast in favor of an early lunch, and was sitting in the officers club with the rest of the party, they only member of the group in civilian clothes.
He felt a tap on his shoulder, and turning around, found a U.S. Brigadier General, complete with numerous aides, inviting him to breakfast with them. Waldschmitt was thoroughly baffled but accepted. After breakfasting with the general and spending part of the morning with him, returned to his own party no wiser than before as to why he had been selected for such a signal honor, or as to who the general might be.
This particular air base was at that time a focal point for transatlantic air travel and many celebrities passed through daily. The survey party members still think Waldschmitt was mistaken for a youthful European king who was at the base the same day.
The weather cleared and about noon on the 18th the survey party left Botwood for Battle Harbor, Labrador. They landed at St. Mary's, Battle Harbor, and Stanley Brazil, quite a local character, came out to the plane with his small boat and ferried the party ashore. Brazil was an old friend of Commander MacMillan and turned out to be the local tycoon, being owner of the general store, postmaster, judge, etc. He quartered the party in his house for the night and proved most helpful in many ways.
The following day 19 July the party surveyed the shoreline of the vicinity in Brazil's launch the "Lily". An unnamed point was agreed up for the site of Unit #6 and the party went ashore surveyed it thoroughly marked necessary points with cairns or rocks and christened it Loran Point.
20-21 July the party was weather-bound at Battle Harbor. During those two days Brazil was appointed as local representative for the Laboratory and all preliminary arrangements were made with him for accepting consignments to be shipped. On the 22nd, the plane finally got through from Botwood, picked up the party and proceeded to Goose Bay, Labrador.
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At Goose Bay, arrangements were made with the Canadian McNamarra Construction Co. to act as general representatives and contractors. On 23 July the party flew to Shediac, N.B. where they stayed over night and where Comdr. Argyle left the party to expedite acquirement of the selected sites. On 24 July the rest of the survey party flew back to Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
While Waldschmitts' notes were colorful, Captain Harding's notes are those of the NLOL and they cover the practical consideration of site selection. The following excerpt is quoted;
"Airborn [sic] survey conducted 17 July thru 24 July 1942 along Northeast coast of Newfoundland, Labrador, Davis Straits and vicinity. Site selected near Bona Vista light, Newfoundland for first station."
"In Labrador, working out from Battle Harbor, selected point just north of False Harbor shown on British Admiralty charts, after rejecting various other sites around Cape Charles, Tiloey Island, Wall Island. Collected all necessary data on local radio interference situations, winter transportation, mail, medical services, contractors, and supplies. These two sites are compromises but are best obtainable to cover the first leg of Nova Scotia to Greenland gap and were selected with due regard to minimizing the eventual problem of getting across Davis Straits, where a long base line is inevitable."
"Present prospects are that stations can be gotten in this season if Radiation Laboratory delivers the technical equipment and Canadian navy carries through the construction and manning of same expeditiously. The sites are both isolated, transportation difficult, and winter weather conditions bad so it will require real effort by all hands to get Loran trials under way in northwest Atlantic this season."
Future events in the construction of these two stations proved Captain Harding warnings only a mild forecast of actual happenings.
Upon his return to Cambridge, Captain Harding found the results of the tests made on the USS MANASQUAN which had been completed 17 July awaiting him. These tests which were primarily to determine the service range of the Loran system, showed most satisfactory results. The ground waves were efficient up to 680 miles in the daytime when the reflecting Heaviside layer was affected by the sun, and were effective up to 1,300 miles at night when the Heaviside layer was reflecting the sky waves to earth.
Captain Harding lost no time in reporting his findings to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and to Admiral Furer with probably a strong recommendation that the trial chain covering the Northwest Atlantic be pushed into operation as quick possible. It should be here noted that this was still a preliminary trial, which furnished only a test of the probable service range of a Loran system and some practical data on single "lines of position". Three or more operating stations in a system would still be required for full trails.
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Since it was becoming more apparent every day to the NLOL that the navy would eventually have to take over the major burden of construction and operating personnel for the station under the jurisdiction of United States, he probably brought this situation to Admiral Furer's attention at the same time.
The result was a Navy directive for the project, calling for a complete trial system of two United States units, (Fenwick and Montauk) two Canadian units (Bona Vista, Newfoundland and Battle Harbor, Labrador), and sequent survey. These five units, together with the two already under the jurisdiction of the Royal Canadian Navy at Boccaro [sic] and Deming, would give complete skeleton Loran coverage of the Northwest Atlantic area.
It was during the months of June and July 1942 that cracks began to appear in the NDRC program so optimistically presented to the Joint Chiefs of Staff by Mr. Eastham in March. As time went on these cracks developed in such number as to break the entire fabric of the original program, and eventually throw the entire burden of Loran system establishment onto almost entire dependence on Radiation Laboratory for basic electronic equipment fabrication.
The Royal Canadian Navy was still expressing itself as prepared to furnish operating personnel and maintenance and supplies to all four of the proposed Canadian units. It was to furnish housing as well for the two Newfoundland-Labrador units. The Radiation Laboratory, however, was encountering increasing difficulties in supplying adequate operating and maintenance personnel for the two original units at Fenwick and Montauk.
The Laboratory's predicament is not difficult to comprehend in the light of a few basic facts. While the staff of the Radiation Laboratory was undoubtedly composed of brilliant scientists, very few had any practical experience in the operation and maintenance of a transmitting station. The ranks of available, competent radio operators and maintenance technicians were meanwhile thinning swiftly as increasing numbers of civilians entered the armed forces.
While the laboratory itself may not have realized the future personnel complications in store, it is apparent that Captain Harding did. Shortly after being informed by the Vice Chief of Naval Operations that the United States Coast Guard would probably supply the sic Radiomen requested to be assigned to the proposed Greenland unit, for preliminary Loran training at Cambridge, Captain Harding requested the VCNO to also assign some officer personnel for training.
At about this time. Mr. Eastham had independently convinced the Army that an airborne Loran receiver was practicable. This action suddenly stimulated the War Department interest in Loran particularly since the English had sent George Dippy one of their foremost G-System men to America to work with our scientists on Loran and Radar. Mr. Dippy, who joined the group at the Laboratory some time after Captain Harding had been able to assure the U. S. Army that some of the RAF's most successful bombing raids had been directly due to the use of the G-System.
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Unfortunately, the Army did not assign Liaison Officer to the Laboratory, and it fell to Captain Harding's lot to not only attempt to coordinate the representations made by the Army to the Laboratory, and the activity resulting therefrom, but to endeavor to keep the staff of Division 11 interested in steadily concentrating on the establishment of the seven-unit chain as a priority project.
While Captain Harding was coping with the above complication, he was steadily being called upon to aid increasingly in the collection of supplies for Battle Harbor and Bona Vista, which were hastily being assembled. For a time, all hands turned to, drawing up plans, and starting the shipments, of supplies and equipment flowing northward.
The partial shipments by Navy-arranged common carrier covered a very involved and complicated route, going first by rail to Sidney, Nova Scotia. From there they were shipped across the Strait of St. Lawrence, and from that point went by narrow gauge to Bona Vista, Newfoundland. The shipments to Battle Harbor went from Sidney across the Strait, then by narrow gauge railway to Cornerbrook, then by coastal steamer to a point in Labrador, where they were transshipped by small boat to Battle Harbor.
Much was learned, however, in this process, concerning packing and shipping this particular experimental equipment as much of it arrived damaged through improper packing and handling. This impeded getting the units into operation somewhat, but also served as a guide to what to avoid in packing future shipments, as well as emphasizing to the Radiation Laboratory the value of supplying spares in equipment from the start, something they had shown little interest in to date.
While the Bona Vista and Battle Harbor surveys were being made, Mr. Vissers, one of the field staff of the Laboratory, had relieved Waldschmitt as Radiation Laboratory representative at Baccaro and Deming, and remained in that area about a month, pushing the construction work on both stations. He was then relieved by a party from the laboratory consisting of Jennings. Davidson, Lawrence, Pote, and McKenzie who arrived at Baccaro. Davidson and Jennings went on to Deming, where they supervised the construction for a month or more, and after the equipment arrived, began preliminary test operations. Lawrence and Pote acted in rather a liaison capacity between Baccaro and Deming, and McKenzie superintended the majority of the Baccaro construction. Then Lawrence and Pote returned to Boston, McKenzie took over the completion of the Deming unit.
Very late in July 1942, Mr. Vissers left units #3 and #4, when relieved by the above mentioned party, and with Henson went to Battle Harbor where Mr. Brazil had already started the local contractor on the construction of Unit #6. They supervised construction and installations there, and Vissers returned to Bona Vista, leaving Henson in charge.
All during the construction of the two Nova Scotia stations and the two Newfoundland-Labrador stations, Lt. Comdr. Argyle, RCNR, acted as general expediter, liaison officer and engineer advisor, and much credit is due him for the speed of the work.
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At Bona Vista, Vissers was joined by Ken Taylor, another Radiation Laboratory field man, and together they put Unit #5 on the air, testing. Captain Harding's report to VCNO for the month of July 1942, reported that the first field trails of three-station fixes were made by Bell Telephone Laboratory under Radiation laboratory and Navy sponsorship in this month, by means of truck mounted receivers operating in the New Jersey area..
The July 1942 NLOL report also included the information that NDRC had set up in the Radiation Laboratory at Navy request under the direction of Dr. J.A. Pierce, training equipment and a tentative instruction plan for personnel.
The next step was the siting of the Greenland station, #7 in the seven-unit Northwest Atlantic chain. The following log, kept by J.A. Waldschmitt, of the Radiation Laboratory, gives one view of a graphic picture of a most efficient piece of work.
6 August 1942 - Commander Mac Millan, Captain Harding and Waldschmitt depart Quonset, R.I. in a Navy C-47 1st Naval Squadron Ferrying Command, to Goose Bay, Labrador.
7 August 1942 - Took off for Greenland in PBY assigned to Captain Harding but were turned back by weather after crossing entire Davis Strait
8 August 1942 - Detained by bad weather, accompanied plane on rescue mission
9 August 1942 - Flew to Greenland (BW1) where they met Captain Von Paulson, USCG, SNOP, Greenland and stayed overnight
10 August 1942 - Made an air survey flight along the coast for Cape Farewell to Cape Desolation, during which only one likely site near Federiksdal, and several poor alternates were finally found. Returned to BW1
11 August 1942 - Depart BW1 on USCG AKLAX, Captain Olson, bound for Federiksdal
12 August 1942 - Went to assistance of USS ARMSTRONG, which was on the rocks and abandoned by the Army. Commander MacMillan insisted she was salvageable, and after a bit of work she was later gotten off and dispatched to a repair base
13 August 1942 - Party landed at Federiksdal, a primitive native Eskimo village
14 August 1942 - A tentative location and site were selected near the Eskimo village and two miles from a beach suitable for landing.
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15 August 1942 - Party returned to BW1. Here Captain von Paulson had inquired of Army Engineer representatives as to what type of immediate construction aid they were prepared to furnish. The Army tentatively agreed to put up the "CCC Barracks type building, 20' x 120', and a small storage building , and also to build a skidway to facilitate landing supplies.
16 August 1942 - Waldschmitt, Commander MacMillan and Captain Harding flew back to Goose bay, Labrador, and released the PBY to return to operational work.
17 August 1942 - The party proceeded to Presque Isle from Goose Bay and then to Boston by air transport facilities.
From Captain Harding's notes on the same survey, are the following "from May [sic; August?] 5 to August 18, 1942, conducted airborne and surface craft surveys along southwest coast of Greenland and selected best compromise site near primitive Eskimo collection of igloos called Federiksdal on Danish charts. Serious problems of strong winds, field ice from Cape Farewell and Greenland government objections to naval establishments near Eskimo buildings, but there is no satisfactory technical alternative between Cape Farewell and Cape Desolation. The survey was accomplished rapidly by combination of expert flying by PBY pilot Kand and cooperation and seamanship of Ensign C. L. Olson, commanding USCG AKLAK, assigned by S.M.O.D. Greenland. Final details of survey accomplished by landing party with obvious interest by Eskimos and friendly cooperation through their evident respect for Commander MacMillin and their delight in finding that he spoke their tongue. Much information on local condition of ice, wind and weather obtained from Eskimos but some of it conflicting, raising doubt as to its reliability because of their friendly desire to please."
Upon his arrival back in Cambridge, Captain Harding relayed the location of the selected Greenland site to VCNO, who requested the United States State Department to acquire the site from the Greenland Government. Prior to departure for Greenland, concerned lest efforts should lag in the United States while he was absent, Captain Harding urgently requested an assistant and Lt. D. C. Cowie, USCG arrived at Cambridge the same day Captain Harding left for Greenland.
Until the 23 August when he left to form a survey party in the Aleutians and Bering Sea the NLOL and his assistant were very busy. The enlisted personnel for training had been selected and were to report to Dr. Pierce during August. Preparations for the course had to be completed. Also, before leaving on what might prove to be protracted duty in the Pacific, Captain Harding had to get in motion the procurement of supplies, personnel and equipment for the Greenland station.
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Each day, more and more of the problem of procuring supplies, materiel and personnel was shifted from the Radiation laboratory onto the Navy and the Coast Guard. There was also the problem of equipment production.
Having had no experience in mass production, or indeed, any production of any sort to speak of the Radiation Laboratory had spread its contracts for transmitters, receivers, timers, etc. with fine abandon. To put it mildly, as the construction of the system chain progressed, the inability to obtain delivery of technical equipment was a constant drag on the effort to get the stations into operation. By the end of August Mr. Eastham assured Lt. Cowie acting NLOL after Captain Harding's departure on the 23rd that total number 51 receiving equipment could be expected finished and delivered to the Navy by 1 October 1942. This assurance was however no guarantee that they would be ready for actual sea service on or near that date as the contractors delivered many in entirely unusable condition.
Mr. Easham also assured Lt. Cowie that the Army had reported ordering 1250 airborne receivers from Philco and would probably order 2,000 in the near future. Since these figures were never confirmed, they show only the confusion existing in the relations between the Radiation Laboratory and the Army.
During September 1942, the USCG personnel who where to man the Greenland station began training at the Radiation Laboratory, the assembly of supplies progressed, and all preparations were made to move onto the site.
Baccaro and Deming were nearing completion and the Canadians took over operation, with the assistance of Radiation Laboratory technicians.
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For the sake of maintaining proper sequence in this record, this chapter and the one following will treat primarily with the construction difficulties attendant upon the establishment of Bona Vista, Newfoundland and Battle Harbor, Labrador. More space is devoted to the building these stations, than to that of the first two Canadian units, because the first two units were the only ones followed through on by the Royal Canadian Navy in accordance with the original Radiation Laboratory plans and were practically no different then that construction of the two temporary stations in continental U.S. since they were inaccessible [sic] and inhabited parts of Nova Scotia.
By October 1942 the status regarding supplies, maintenance and personnel for the Newfoundland and Labrador units had undergone a drastic change. The Newfoundland Government had confessed itself lacking in adequate personnel to man them and the Canadian Navy withdraw recommending that direct arrangements be made between the United States and Newfoundland. The poor showing of the local contractors on the two original Canadian stations, plus the civilian labor shortage farther North, made the necessity of the U.S. Navy's taking over all construction on the remaining stations of the obtain apparent.
For example, when Mr. McKenzie left Boston for Battle Harbor, Labrador on 27 October with 1,000 pounds of technical equipment he was under the impression that the construction of the buildings at both Battle Harbor and Bona Vista had been completed. His recollections of the next few months, however, paint a very different picture.
Arriving in Halifax, he received excellent cooperation from the local U.S. Navy's Lt. Malcolm Stanley, who had been advised by NLOL and how arranged his further passage under U.S Navy sponsorship. He left Halifax in a corvette, in a convoy. All the other ships turned back shortly after starting, due to extremely bad weather condition, but the corvette Mr. McKenzie was on maintained her course and after a very rough trip, he arrived in Battle Harbor, where his equipment was lightered ashore. Here, he found conditions very bad.
The station, which was supposedly complete, was without plumbing essential parts being unavailable to the local contractor. It was also without wiring, lights, provisions or cook. McKenzie had been selected for the Radiation Laboratory field service because he had a fair, though not to extensive, background in construction work so in spite of all these disadvantages, he managed to get the equipment installed and the station on the air by 15 November 1942 with the help of Lt Comdr. Argyle, RCNR.
However, in fairness to the contractor, it should be here recorded that in attempting to expedite the work at Battle Harbor, a Royal Canadian Air Force plane exploded in the bay on landing and the first group of lives were sacrificed in the hazardous and long field undertaking that made the final development of Loran possible. The contractor's superintendent was seriously injured in the crash, and was unable to carry on the work thereafter, further, the work was interrupted by spectacular submarine attacks rescues of survivors and searches near the station, all of which were participated in by Lt. Comdr. Argyle and the others.
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Original caption: Battle Harbor, Labrador - Before construction of Station. The site from the southwest (Loran Point) from 1000 ft.
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Original caption: Battle Harbor, Labrador - After construction of Station.
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Original caption: Bonavista, Newfoundland - Before construction of Loran Station.
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Unfortunately, getting the station on the air by 15 November was not as good as it sounds. Throughout the entire process of establishing the system, the field men of the Radiation Laboratory, being primarily scientists, showed infinitely more interest in getting the equipment into experimental operation, than in seeing that the station themselves were fit for occupancy by a permanent crew and ready for reliable service.
Construction was also delayed at Bona Vista and Battle Harbor, due to the necessity for the U.S. Navy through the NLOL, to leap into the breach and without any forewarning try to supply the materials and supplies which were originally supposed to be supplied by the civilian contractors, the Canadian Navy or the Radiation Laboratory. Lt. Cowie carried most of this burden while Captain Harding was still in the Pacific.
By October 1942, then the status of establishment was scrambled to say the least. The Radiation Laboratory was still footing and bills and supplying the strictly Loran technical equipment for the stations. They were also supplying advisory technicians to install the equipment and get the stations on the air. The burden of supply and transportation had fallen on the U.S. Navy, with occasional help from any Army units within reach. Personnel were being drawn by now, at the direction of CNO, almost exclusively from the Coast Guard, and Radiomen and Technicians of the USCG were training at Cambridge to man the Bona Vista and Battle Harbor stations.
On 8 December 1942, Mr. McKenzie, with orders to return to Boston, was transported by the U.S. Navy to Argentia, where he received new orders to proceed at once to Bona Vista, Newfoundland, transported Mr. McKenzie with orders to return to Boston. There, he found conditions almost as bad as those at Battle harbor. No radio equipment had arrived at the site at that time, no barracks had been built, no plumbing had arrived and the well for the water supply was incomplete. The day after his arrival it blew a 90-100 mph gale.
Also at about this time, the first war loss of equipment bound for a Loran station occurred with torpedoing of a ship between Newfoundland and the mainland.
Radio Electrician, James Koonce, USCG with a Coast Guard crew to man the station and hundreds of tons of supplies arrived late in the year, almost two months behind schedule, having had a terrific struggle to reach the station at all. Taylor, who was on the site when McKenzie arrived, managed to keep the road open with the tractor, and the gear and equipment was brought in to the site overland before the snow set too deep. By dint of all hands turning to and keeping on the job until completion all equipment and supplies available were moved onto the site with the exception of some gas and oil which had to be left until a later date.
Food proved a major problem next to inadequate housing and practically no heat. Shortly after the Coast Guard crew arrived, over two-thirds of the entire personnel on the site came down with influenza, intestinal influenza and dysentery. Warrant Officer Koonce and Mr. McKenzie were also stricken and an impossible situation developed. The local doctors refused to leave the towns during the winter to treat anyone in isolated spots. Mr. Koonce appealed to the commanding officer of a U. S. Army unit stationed nearby and the doctor attached to that unit came to the site as often as possible and treated the men. During the rest of the time the half sick cared for the sick.
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It was impossible to keep warm as there were not enough stoves and the buildings had been so poorly constructed that they leaked more cold that the inadequate stoves could overcome. The lack of plumbing was a most serious hazard, as it was highly dangerous for very sick men to leave the comparative warmth of their beds for, the zero and sub- zero weather outdoors.
As soon as he could get on his feet, Mr. Koonce appealed to the local contractor to do something, but the contractor professed himself unable to carry on any further construction until spring. In desperation, Mr. Koonce went to the Navy Construction Battalion plumbers who speedily installed a "token" plumbing system which nevertheless serve its purpose for the worst of the epidemic.
Illogically the local contractor then threatened to sue the Radiation Laboratory, because the plumbing work had not been left for him to do as was originally agreed. After an interview with Mr. McKenzie who was very ill, but not too ill to be also very angry, the contractor decided that a suit on such grounds would be unwise. Mr. McKenzie was probably the sickest member of the personnel at the site. Mr. Koonce managed to keep him alive by feeding him a mixture of half-baked bread, bullion cubes and whiskey.
There was no fresh food to be obtained and although Mr. Koonce made arrangements with the Army outfit nearby which was furnishing the doctor, to also furnish them with fresh food, for quite a long period there simply wasn't any and the Army too lived on field rations.
Another hardship for the crew though a psychological one was the absence of mail and communications. No mail was received by any of the men at the site for over four months and Mr. Koonce encountered numerous difficulties and establishing any type of communications.
In spite of all these mishaps and disasters, the station was on the air testing by February 1943. The testing developed into one of those comedies or error so frequent in any new operations.
After Mr. McKenzie had arrived in Bona Vista, the rate agreed upon for Battle Harbor was changed by Radiation Laboratory directive. Since Mr. Koonce had been unable to establish a mail or communications system with the outside by the time the unit was ready to go on the air, no one at the Unit #5 had received their copy of the new instruction. As a result Mr. McKenzie had quite an irritating time, blinking at Battle Harbor almost constantly as a signal that the operator there should put his signal back on the correct rate.
When he was positive that the technical part of the unit was operating correctly, sometime in March 1943 Mr. Mckenzie returned to Cambridge where he entered the hospital to recover from his illness of that winter. Mr. Koonce remained in Newfoundland in charge of the station for the U.S. Navy.
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The foregoing chapter has given some idea of the hardships under gone by the personnel engaged in establishing the first isolated Loran station. Possibly, nothing really can so graphically describe what the men of the Coast Guard endured and overcame than a combination report and log, kept by the Warrant Officer in charge of the crew which went to Battle Harbor late in the Fall of 1942 and operated that unit.
This crew commanded by Wm. H. Keel, Radio Electrician, USCG deserves a spot in Coast Guard History. The following excerpts are from the report written by Gerhard I. Howen, MM1c, as the senior enlisted man present for Mr. Keel of the trip to Battle Harbor and the station log after arrival.
The member of the first crew of the #6 unit is as follows:
HOWEN, G.I. (217-239) MM1c
NEWTON, C.R. (226-573) RM1c
MEARS, L.A. (222-602) RM1c
OGLETREE, W.A. 200-941) RM1c
WIRT, R.W. (225-500) RM1c
LARSEN, C.J. (595-869) SC1c
CARROLL, M.J. (235-244) RM2c
NESMITH, J.W. (223-565) RM2c
HINES, W.H. (605-032) Cox.
STEWART, W.D. (227-665) RM3c
TURANO, F.J. (220-997) RM3c
SWANSON, G.P. (547-205) RT3c
It is not necessary to quote from Keel's report the part covering the trip from the United States to Halifax. Suffice it to say that it was the 23rd of November when they reported for duty in Boston and the22nd of December when the crew arrived in St. John's Newfoundland, to await further transfer to a U.S. Army chartered schooner. Howen was taken to the hospital on this date with a high fever sore throat and indications of a weak heart.
On 26 December 1942 Howen reported aboard the chartered schooner THOMAS S. GORTON, and proceeded to aid Keel in making an inspection of the ship and her cargo. It should be noted here that it was desperate undertaking to get into Battle Harbor so late in the winter and the U.S. Army Newfoundland Base Command's chartering of the local schooner by Navy request was the only means of getting the crews up there to establish the station at any time during the winter.
The following is quoted from Keel's inspection report:
1. Galley range for our party stowed on deck without covering. Owner of Schooner unable to furnish tarpaulin for cover. Tried to requisition
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Original caption: Bonavista, Newfoundland - After construction [of the] Loran Station. Air View looking NW from 500 ft. altitude.
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one from USATS but unable to because all they had on hand were new, and they did not want to let one go, (Suggested it could be returned by Schooner and was informed that once it got aboard they would never see it again as canvas was scarce with schooners in these parts).
2. Unable to load on all cargo. Oil drums 190 stowed on Army Pier at St. Johns. Drums that were put aboard on deck were without lashing Ship's owner stated that he was unable to supply same. Requisitioned a coil of 2 1/2 line from USATS to use for lashings, only a small portion used.
3. Filthy and inadequate bunks (8 bunks for 13 men) and bunking space for men inadequate bedding. Requisitioned 13 comforters and 13 blankets from U.S. Army. Men having to sleep two to a bunk with bunks wet from broken and missing deadlights in decks.
4. Checked food supplies and found insufficient food for men. (Schooner's cook estimated only enough for 2 to 3 days at best) Owner supplied small amount of food saying: "We can always get food enroute." Cooking utensils were dirty and lousy and inadequate for number of men aboard. (13 of us and 7 in ships crew).
5. No sanitary system aboard, no washing facilities, (Not even a bucker).
6. Heating system consisted of one very small coal stove aft, and a galley stove in forecastle, which was not sufficient to keep quarters dry and warm.
7. Ship infested with bedbugs, roaches, etc
From Keel's inspection, we jump to his long of the voyage:
26 December, 1545 hrs. departed St. John for destination as directed. Encountered heavy winds and seas outside deck cargo to shift even after being lashed as securely as possible....running a danger of losing cargo overboard.
27 December, 0300. Arrived Carbonear, Nfld., Owner departed for home.
(They lay in harbor here until the 2nd of January, weatherbound)
29 December, Contacted USNLO at St. Johns requested authority to move men ashore as colds are developing. Stewart's arm swollen to almost twice its normal size from bedbug bites. Living condtions in general, injurious to health. Howen released from hospital 26 December has cold coming on, is not feeling well. Authority granted to move men to Hotel which was done at 1100 all except for two for watch aboard schooner, watch to change to noon each day. All bills for Hotels to be submitted to M.I.T. (Radiation Laboratory) via USNLO, St Johns. Contacted owner regarding more food supplies and he states he can provide more. USNLO advised that if owner unable to supply food I am to do so and charge to M.I.T as hotel bills are.
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31 December Mears has severe cold coming on; given Bromo-Quinine Tablets.
1 January 1943. Checked out of hotels GOFF AND WESTEND and went aboard Schooner. Checked on food and only one case of Tomato juice and one sack of Potatoes received aboard. Owner says he can get more food at Catalina as we have enough to last to the point. Departed for Catalina or Port Union. Mears cold pretty bad, turned him in with plenty of blankets and gave two aspirins. 1000, Carroll having light chills and apparently running a fever; given two Bromo-Quinine Tablets and put to bed. 1700: arrived Port Union; went ashore and purchased only thing available in local store for colds, aspirins and salt pills. 2000; Carroll feeling better Mears given 2 salt pills and 2 aspirins will covered and sweating freely. Stationed watch to keep fire going and to watch Mears as he must have a high fever. (No Thermometer available)
2 January 1943, 1815; Weather cleared enough to depart, Bound for Pool Harbor. Mears feeling better still unable to eat much as throat sore. Carroll and Howen feeling better. Stewart's face swollen badly from bedbug bites; applying Vicks Vaporub as that is only thing available. 1645; Arrived Pool Harbor. 2400; Mears resting good.
3 January 1943, 0800; Underway, Mears feeling better, 1200; Mears feeling worse. 1600; throat seems to be getting worse, given aspirin and covered well. 2000; repeated 1600 treatment on Mears. Swanson getting cold, given physic and applied Vicks and put to bed. 2400; Mears resting well. Stopped at Cape Farewell for night.
4 January 1943, 0800; Mears about same. Swanson feeling better. 1200; Mears and Swanson about same. 1700; Mears able to eat some canned peaches. Swanson's cold getting worse with aches and pains, covered chest, throat and back with Vicks given Bromes and put to bed as warmly as possible underway tonight.
5 January 1943, Mears feeling slightly better, continuing Bromos. Swanson feeling about the same, continuing treatment of Vicks and Bromos and keeping in bed. Weather getting heavy and barometer falling fast. Seeking shelter in Canada Bay but ice too heavy. Continued on to Conce. Heavy NE wind blowing. Boat ashore to get provision, weather too heavy to bring anything aboard except a small piece of seal meat.
6 January 1943, Weather still to heavy to sail. Larsen getting cold with aches and pains, given Bromos and put to bead. Mears and Swanson feeling a little better. 1300; Boat ashore to try and get provisions and medical supplies that might be available. Returned with out anything. Howen's throat getting worse. Started gargling with aspirin.
7 January 1943; departed from St. Anthony, arriving at 1630. Hit small patches of slob ice en-route. Ashore and contacted Dr. Loomis at the Grenfell Mission Hospital and requested he come aboard and examine Larsen, Howen and Mears. Dr. Loomis came aboard and found Larsen to have a temperature of 102 degrees, advised bringing him to the hospital tomorrow for further checkup. Howen examined and taken to hospital with sore throat. Dr. suspects trench month and infection of his throat. Mears examined and diagnosed as sinus trouble, however requested Mears to be brought to Hospital along with Larsen for further examination. Howen turned in at hospital.
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8 January 1943; Larsen and Mears taken to Hospital. Larsen put to bed with suspected case of flu. Dr. stated Howen and Larsen might be able to leave tomorrow. Mears examined and treated for sinus and issued medicine. Ice conditions at Quirpon such that it would be impossible to make harbor there so, if doctor thinks it safe, will bring hospitalized men aboard tonight and try to make an early run for the Straits tomorrow, 9 January. Wired USNLO at St. Johns our whereabouts. At 2000 Howen and Larsen released from Hospital and brought aboard schooner. Howen issued Hydrogen Peroxide and Sodium Perborate with instructions to continue treatment, also to make all mess gear and keep it separate from others to prevent spreading. Larsen thought to be getting along all right if given an opportunity to keep warm and get ample rest. Bill for Hospital and Medicine sent to M.I. T. as per USNLO's instructions.
9 January 1943; departed for destination, encountered heavy slob ice in straits retarding speed, however not enough to endanger ship too much crossed and anchored in Lodge Cove for night.
10 January 1943; Tried to make Battle Harbor but ice conditions too heavy had to put in between Caribou and Hare Island to contact Mr. Vissers who introduced Mr. Gus Bradley, who according to Mr. Vissers had been placed in charge of the unloading of the cargo and moving same to site. Our men moved ashore and to site as it was decided that a portion of the deck cargo (oil drums) would have to be unloaded on Hare Island in order to get at the general cargo. Owner of schooner refused to enter any inlets or coves near site, claiming slob ice and weather might set in heavy and damage ship. However on the promise that Mr. Bradley would assume the responsibility for the schooner, the owner consented to enter Murphy's Cove for unloading providing all is clear tomorrow. (since Charter did not call for cargo to be landed on island where site is located, but only as near site as he saw fit without endangering ship, he was under no obligation to land cargo on island where site is located. Mr. Vissers trying to get a copy of Charter to take into office at M.I.T. on his return. Our men except one to watch cargo, moved ashore.
11 January 1943; Schooner entered Murphy's Cove and began unloading cargo, Mr. Bradley supervising unloading. It had been discovered that several comforters, blankets and other material was missing; went aboard schooner over owner protest and inspected and found two comforters, four blankets and several boxes of cargo hidden away in forepeak and other parts of ship; removed all that could be found. Cargo unloaded at 1800 and ship cleared harbor with Mr. Vissers and five of the contractor's men aboard fpr transportation to M.I.T. Mr. Bradley and crew worked until 2400 however, all oil and about half of general cargo still to be moved to site. Two-man watch placed on remaining cargo for night. Mr. Bradley's men put up at station for rest of night as they all live too far from station to return home at that time, work resumed in the morning.
Here ends Mr. Keel's log of the journey. It has been included almost in its complete original form as it is significant in several ways. It shows that at the time, the Radiation Laboratory was still paying the bills for the units being established. It also shows that without the expediting done by the various Navy Liaison Officers, even greater difficulties would have been encountered.
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Keel's report of the first three weeks of the Coast Guard crew at the site, gives perhaps the most complete picture available of how extremely badly the construction work of the station was handled by the civilian contractors. It must be kept is mind, while reading the following excerpts from that report, that the construction of the station was supposed to have been completed by the time Howen [sic; Keel?] and his crew arrived. That the Radiation Laboratory representative, Mr. Vissers, considered it adequate, is demonstrated by his departure with the construction crew the day after the Schooner brought the Coast Guardsmen to Battle Harbor. Henson, the remaining Radiation Laboratory representative, was there to help install the technical equipment and get it running.
Excerpts from Mr. Keel's report follows:
12 January 1943, building at site found unfinished; sewage system light system and water lines incomplete all doors and windows work erratic. Have not had time to make a complete survey of station as cargo too important to chance leaving outside too long. Mr. Bradley's crew back on moving of cargo. Our men unpacking and checking also cleaning out building for storage space. Machinists mate working on sewage system. Two man watch placed on cargo remaining away from site.
13 January 1943; Mr. Bradley had five men working on movement on cargo, weather too heavy for full crew to show up for work. Our men unpacking and checking cargo. Stewart bruised ankle, which has swelled badly, keeping him inside on light duty and treating with Absorbine Jr. Carroll catching cold and sore throat, feeling bad by night, put in bed and treated with Vicks. Had to secure Mr. Bradley's men from cargo put them to hauling coal for cooking and heating. Weather heavy, strong winds and snow.
Here is interpolated a list of notations made on the condition of the station when the Coast Guard operating crew arrived. It gives a clear picture of what Keel and his half-sick crew had to cope with.
1. Sewage system incomplete in that septic tank was not hooked up for drainage and line from main building to tank was frozen.
2. No inter-connecting wiring run between buildings for power.
3. Water system incomplete. No pump installed. (This was known and we had pump in cargo.) All water lines leaking at joints and had to be broken and leaded making almost a complete overhaul of whole system.
4. No electrical fixture in main dwelling, wiring run but in haphazard fashion in that lines were run down between the walls for wall plugs and left hanging without any fixtures or holes cut for ends (Which without checking would have been a severe fire hazard.) No fixtures for lights installed and 2 outlets plugs but only hooked together without any power leads. A few fixtures were located around buildings and temporary lighting rigged.
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5. Workers had been living in main dwelling and that had not been cleaned (apparently) since completion in that footprints all over walls and big holes in gyprock finish on inside of building. All tin cans and dishwater thrown out back door making garbage dump alongside building.
6. Storage house full of junk and had to store cargo in main dwelling until space could be cleared for storage.
7. Water from well unfit for drinking, as it is of sickly looking yellowish color and smells worse than stagnant. (Hauling drinking water from a spring about a mile and a half away.)
8. No doors and windows work properly and building impossible to heat until all are overhauled.
9. Roofing blowing off main dwelling and took shed in high winds.
10. No washbowls hooked up. Head next to galley not hooked up and wash-bowls not hooked up.
11. Interior of main dwelling unfinished and unpainted with holes punched in wall boarding. In some places cracks almost an inch wide exist between sections of wall boards.
12. Pump house built with 6 to 10 inch space around bottom...allowing place to freeze solid and ice a foot thick to form over well.
13. Main dwelling built in rock and no outside drainage for water that runs down from hill. North end of bunkroom gets flooded every time it rains or thaws enough for snow to melt. Hole punched in end of building allowing a portion of this water to flow into basement keeping it flooded.
14. No lockers or storage space built in main dwellings, just four walls to each room. No storage space planned what there is inadequate for storage of supplies that will have to last for a year or so.
15. Flooring in main dwelling was green timber when laid and now is coming apart and cracks are showing up which are anywhere from 1/8 to the whole board coming completely loose at ends.
16. Building was build before plumber had a chance to install piping in dwelling and all piping is exposed. (Understand there was a petty feud going on between some of the workers and no one was interested and the foreman only wanted to get home for the winter.
17. Water line is run in a boxlike affair. Stood about 4 or 5 feet above the ground, which makes it almost impossible to insulate it enough to prevent water freezing. (This is purported to be one of the jobs where the petty feud interfered with production - the plumber stated that it needed more insulation, but the foreman said there was enough; results, it has more insulation, it has to be practically replaced every time a severe cold spell hits.)
18. One of the shacks that had been constructed for the workers had to be covered and insulated for storage or cargo and equipment.
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Keel's inspection and notes of the condition of the Quonset hut show conditions to be no better on the rest of the station than in the main dwelling. It should be noted here that this type of Quonset hut was selected specifically by the Radiation Laboratory and was furnished by the U.S. Navy only at the Laboratory's request. It is not the type successfully and regularly used in later Coast Guard stations, although all structures of the same general classification are referred to as "Quonset huts" in this document.
1. Found that generators had not been run for several weeks. (Stated lack of oil.)
2. Generator room leaking during rain or snow, doors and windows with cracks so large that equipment has to be covered to protect from weather that means generators, transmitters and the shielded room.
3. Flooring incomplete in that only sections of boards had been laid and equipment installed on this making it impossible to re-cover and get under portions of equipment without complete removal. Two heaters required preventing freezing temperature.
4. Transmitting antenna tuning house not weatherproof - found all coils and condensers covered with snow and ice. (This while Henson sick.)
5. Ground system frozen ice and seas well, if not already done, carry away most of it by spring.
6. Quonset leaks where sections of tin overlap and around nail heads, endangering equipment (having to construct sheet time drains and place to carry water off equipment.)
7. Radio transmission line for receiving antenna leaks gas to such as extent that it is impossible to keep gas pressure up any longer than line is filled.
8. Receiving antenna connection broken off at tuning house.
Most of these listed things have temporarily been corrected, however it is only a temporary job as only scrap material was available, for use some of the items will have to be re-done in the spring, and others can be got along with until a later date.
No comment is necessary in the face of the above documents, they speak for themselves. It might however, be added that Henson was a very sick man for almost the time the Coast Guard crew arrived, until this report ends 31 January 1943. Howen nursed him with the few remedies at hand as no doctor was then available. In Spite of all hardships and mishaps the crew had this station on the air and testing by March 1943.
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The construction of the unit in Greenland, #7 is not only of interest due to the difficulties to be overcome, but because it was the first unit whose field erection was handled exclusively by the armed services. Mr. Whipple and Mr. Waldschmitt of the Radiation laboratory, were the technical men on the job, but they concerned themselves primarily with the installation of the transmitting and receiving equipment, which was the only equipment supplied this unit by the Radiation Laboratory.
The establishment of the Greenland unit got off to a bad start, due to a series of misunderstandings between the USCG Commander of the Greenland Patrol at that time, the Army Engineers who had agreed to handle the construction of the buildings and the Greenland Government. A dispatch was received early in October by the NLOL, stating that the U.S. Army now considered the site unsatisfactory and that therefore would would not furnish the support the Navy had expected from the Army Engineers.
This amazing dispatch apparently originated with an officer since lost in action. Captain Harding was at this time in the far Pacific and could not be reached so a hurried meeting was called by the VCNO at which were present;
Captain Von Paulsen, SOPA, BW-1
Commander MacMillan, USN
Lt. D.G. Cowie
The decision reached at this meeting was the Navy would now shoulder the task of constructing the station. This decision was reached on 13 October and the freighter, NORLAGA which had been chartered to carry equipment, material and supplies, was scheduled to sail at midnight 15 October.
The situation called for very fast footwork by all concerned. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Navy scraped together a construction crew from halfway down the Eastern seaboard and got them on board the freighter.
In the meantime, Mr. Tierny and Waldschmitt descended on the Quonset Point Supply Depot armed with a blanket U.S. Navy order. Acting on the theory that once in Greenland, replacement, spares or special pieces of equipment would be difficult to obtain. Tierny and Waldschmitt ordered far more than was they thought necessary to build and set into operation the Greenland unit. This foresight was to pay great dividends later on as was Captain Harding's earlier advice that they included several Quonset huts in any such order, regardless of Army promises to build wooden buildings.
The Navy did an excellent job of packing and shipping, then Tierny impressed the officers at Quonset Point that all of the order placed must be on board the NORLAGA by midnight of the 15th. All Navy trucks in the area were commandeered for the task, and a steady stream of trucks
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were loaded and dispatched all through the day of the 15th, on the road to Boston and the freight made the vessel before sailing time.
On October 16th, the USCG installation and operation crew under Lt. Clark and Chief Radioman Michaels, and accompanied by J.A. Waldschmitt, sailed in convoy for Greenland on the DORCHESTER, which was incidentally torpedoed and lost on a later trip to the same area. They arrived at BW-1 on 11 November 1942.
From 11 November until the 14th, the party remained at BM-1; upon arrival at this point, Waldschmitt and Clark were amazed to discover that far from considering the site unsatisfactory, the Army Engineers considered it ideal. They assured Lt. Clark that they had never considered it otherwise and had already dispatched construction supplies to the site. The Engineers were quite prepared to proceed with the construction as originally agreed, and after a little ironing out of misunderstanding all round the construction of the Unit became a sort of joint Army-Navy proposition. No one concerned could at that time figure out the reason for the origin of the dispatch received by the Navy from Commander, Greenland Patrol, but in time the entire story which is of no consequence here, was revealed to the proper authorities in the USCG.
From the 19th to the 23rd of November, Waldschmitt and Clark were at the site near Frederiksdal, supervising the clearing of the site and making preliminary preparations for the construction work, using the USCG construction crew for this purpose. They returned to BW-1 on the 23rd and found that the NORLAGA had arrived with the supplies.
A barge had been obtained to use as a lighter, as there was no dock available to which the NORLAGA could tie up. The barge would be towed to the site, beached and unloaded and then kedged off at high tide. The loading of this barge was begun immediately, although it was delayed somewhat by a 109 knot gale.
On 4 December 1942 the USCG RARITAN, commanded by Lt. Riley, the barge with Lt. Clark, Michaels and a USCG seaman and the BLUEBIRD with twelve Army construction crewmen and Waldschmitt on board departed together for the site. They arrived 7 December 1942.
The following day the barge was beached and unloading of materials and supplies began. Electric outdoor floodlights were set up as the darkness was practically constant at this time of the year. These lights fascinated the native Eskimo villagers, who dropped everything to gather around and watch operations. When the ten-ton tractor came ashore from the barge under its own power, in Mr. Waldschmitt's words "it scared the wit out of the Eskimo natives, and they took to the hills in all direction. Their curiosity soon overcame their fear, and they were all back. In order to amuse them the Army man bossing the construction crew took out his false teeth for them. This novelty supplanted their fright over the tractor and for the next week they went around vainly trying to take their own teeth out."
All material on the barge had to be hauled two miles over land from the beach to the site. This was accomplished between the 8th and 11th and everything was in readiness, tents up, etc., when the construction material arrived on the BLUEBIRD and the RARITAN around 13 December.
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From the 13th to the 19th the second of the terrific gales, which constantly plagued the Greenland party, raged. The tents and temporary shack which had been erected to house the party, blew away and supplies were rolled about all over the site.
Radio Electrician Michaels tells an amusing incident to the gale. He was in his bunk when the cook tent, which was part of his quarters, began to blow away. He felt a draft and yelled to the cook to shut the door, unaware that the major part of the shelter had already gone sailing out to sea. Shortly after, he became aware of what was happening and rolled out of his bunk to seek safer shelter. He saw the cook still vainly trying to light a fire in the gally stove, after the galley had blown from around it.
On the 20th, at the tail of the gale, the USCG AKLAK arrived escorting the freighter, TINTAGEL. According to Waldschmitt, the TINTAGEL was a sorry old wreck, leaking like a sieve after the gale, with a young skipper, first command, first voyage and nervous as a bride. To add to the captain's unhappiness, it was necessary to take the TINTAGEL way up the fjiord that night to anchor. It was dark, foggy and still blowing what would amount to a full gale anywhere but in Greenland. There were no charts available, but the only safe anchorage was as far up the fjiord as possible. They took her up so far that one could reach from the deck and touch the rocky walls on either side and there with the captain in practically a state of nervous collapse, the unloading began.
Due to the severity of the storm, it was necessary to unload the freighter immediately, and get her out of there. All hands, including the Navy gun crew of the TINTAGEL and the Coast Guard operating crew for the unit which had arrived on the RARITAN turned to unloading. They worked without stopping for rest until Christmas night, when all freight was finally ashore. During this period the second set of tents blew away.
December 26 the TINTAGEL sailed and on the 27th the RARITAN and the barge departed from BW-1. Mr. Michaels returned to BW-1 with the RARITAN.
By the last day of the year the Army Engineer construction crew aided by the Coast Guardsmen had erected the Armour type of buildings, specified for the Unit and all hands moved gratefully into the wooden buildings.
The inhabitants of the new unit, enjoyed the luxury of the wooden buildings less than twenty-four hours, for on the night of 1 January 1943 and the morning of the 2nd a storm of unprecedented fury struck. A 160 mph gale was reported and the wooden buildings were not only completely demolished but actually blown off Greenland. Mr. Clark's laconic, formal report ended with the statement that "When last seen, buildings were headed in the general direction Boston, MA, USA." All hands made their way to the Eskimo village of Frederiksdal, where they took refuge in the church. Only one man, a member of the Army construction crew, was injured not seriously, but the wind carried away large amounts of supplies, personal equipment, etc., and picked up one six hundred pound piece of equipment in its shipping case, tossed it about in the air and deposited it some twelve feet from its original position.
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It is reported that personnel were rescued from the site by towing a steel cable by tractor, with all hands clinging thereto, around the base of the mountains to the Eskimo village, which was in a protected saddle of the hills.
At this point, the Army construction boss wanted to quit, so without the authority to do so. Mr. Waldschmitt fired him and he and lt. Clark undertook the job of rebuilding the unit with the Coast Guard crew. When the attempt to rebuild was begun, Captain Harding's foresight and the foresight of Lt. Clark and Waldschmitt paid big dividends. Quonset huts had been included in the original shipment for Quonset Point, on Captain Harding's original advice, Upon arrival of the NORLAGA at BW-1, opinion had been divided as to the advisability of carrying the huts to Frederiksdal, in the face of the readiness of the Army Engineers to furnish the specified building. However, Clark and Waldschmitt resisted all efforts to leave the Quonsets behind, including those of the Senior Naval Officer Present who wanted them for storage huts, and them managed to have five included in the freight destined for Frederiksdal.
These huts were now salvaged from the debris at the site and Clark and Waldschmitt decided that they were the most practicable bits of construction available.
However, the series of gales and storms they had been treated to made them wary. It was concluded the nothing build on top of the ground gave any guarantee of staying put when the wind blew. It was therefore decided to relocate the site a trifle. Nearby was a spot of sand that seemed ideal for their plans.
The plan of reconstruction was sound, but a bit drastic. It involved digging a six foot deep trench, constructing the Quonset huts in a line along the bottom of the trench, anchoring them there with sand and turf around the sides and wood and ply board battens across the tops.
The construction crews were discouraged and unwilling to even make an attempt at such an unorthodox project, so Clark, Waldschmitt, and two members of the construction crew who proved more amenable than the rest, started work alone.
The first step was to get the layer of frost off the sand. This involved dynamiting and several attempts were made with explosives. The early ones were unsuccessful because the TNT when buried in the frost exploded to the sides instead of upward and the frost layer remained more or less undisturbed. However, by dint of trial and error, the frost layer was at length removed and the process of digging the trench with the tractor was begun.
Partly shamed by the efforts of four energetic men and partly because they gradually began to see that the plan was a sensible one the remainder of the construction crew filtered back to work and by 12 January four huts had been set up and more or less buried in the sand. Since the storms had blown all the sheet metal away, that had been originally intended to cover the Quonsets, tarpaper and wooden strips were used, which in the long run proved more weather tight than the sheet metal.
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As soon as the building was completed, they set about erecting the antenna masts. By dint of using nine guy wires to a pole and including a Beverage antenna, they managed to affect a system, which was satisfactory.
23 January 1943, the RARITAN and the barge returned to the site to pick up the construction crew and their equipment. On the same date the NOGAK arrived with Radio Electrician Michaels on board. This time prepared to remain at the station. Also on the NOGAK were two construction superintendents. The latter had with them equipment to repair the damage done to the building during the January 1-2 gale.
While total destruction of the Armour type building had been reported to BW-1 at the time, it was assumed that those at the site had been exaggerating as the Armour type of building had been especially designed for Artic use, and had been so used successfully over a period of years. The repair superintendents were amazed to discover that no more than the truth had been reported. They inspected the buried Quonsets, expressed their approbation and prepared to leave with the first ship.
On the 26th all the above ships and contractor's men departed and technical equipment installation proceeded under the supervision of Mr. Waldschmitt. The USCG Radiomen, sent to man the unit, and even the Pharmacist's Mate helped with the installation.
The following excerpts are from Mr. Waldschmitt's log of that period:
27 January: Loran observations were made on the signals from Fenwick, Baccaro and Deming and continued fifteen hours a day thought the rest of the technical installations. As fast as a piece of equipment was installed, it would be put into operation and all effort made to maintain it in operation regardless of all difficulties.
8 March: This unit saw the ground wave signals, intermittently for the first time from Battle Harbor and Baccaro.
11 March: On the air for the first time. Observed by Battle Harbor, but no attempt was made at obtaining synchronization. This lack of attempt by Battle Harbor to obtain sync was a great irritation to Waldschmitt.
29 March: First Beverage antenna used in Loran in operation.
15 April: Operating on Schedule from 1200-1900 and 0300-0600 G.M.T. No satisfactory sync. Had yet been obtained with Baccaro or Battle Harbor.
16 May: This unit went on a sixteen hour a day schedule.
30 May: First satisfactory sync. By dispatch, sent specifications for Beverage antenna to Battle Harbor. This helps to wind up the difficulties they seem to be having there.
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Original caption: Fredericksdal, Greenland - Before construction of Loran Station.
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Original caption: Fredericksdal, Greenland - After construction [of the] Loran Station.
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Between the 4th and 6th of July 1943 Waldschmitt decided his work at Unit #7 was concluded. He handed over the station operation to Lt. Clark and his Coast Guard crew and departed of the States with seven of the original Coast Guard construction crew who had been practically shanghaied from their stations on that wild night before the NORLAGA sailed in October 1942.Note: the following 57 pages are the transcripts of a record of the first Loran winter in Greenland, kept by S. Michaels, Radio Electrician.
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LOG AND DIARY OF ACTIVITIES FROM DEPARTURE FOR GREENLAND TO RETURN
Departed 16 October 1942, Boston
Samuel Michaels, C.R.M., USCG
15 October 1942
On board S.S. DORCHESTER at 8 pm received gas mask and cabin number. To bed at eleven
Party: Lt. Clark
G. Hoyt Whipple
C. A. Robinson
M. O. Lux
J. B. Tremblay
R. E. Michaud
M. J. Le Blanc
and 8 men for construction work at the site #5 [sic].
16 October 1942
Up at 7 after good night, chow at 7:30. Must be all of 500 soldiers aboard besides a civilian construction gang all heading for Greenland, bunking with Hoyt. Glad of the company
We left dock at 10:30 anchored midstream. Crew held "Fire" and "Abandon ship" drill. Underway at 2:30 for lower bay.
All hands assigned to gun crews to assist with ammunition. Gun drill at 5:30 and chow at 7:00.
Passed through Cape Cod Canal at 10:30 heading for New York. Be there in A.M.
Gabfest with Mr. Clark. Then to bed, 11P.M.
17 October 1942
Up at 7:30 and took four turns about deck. Weather chilly, cloudy but not rough or windy. Passing through Long Island Sound. Recognized Falkners Island abeam at 8 am
At 9:30 decks cleared for soldiers morning setting up exercises and drill. Anchored New York harbor at 1:30 to await departure of convoy. Passengers cleared off decks to prevent disclosing movements.
18 October 1942
Departed at about 4:00 am. up at 8:00 and took daily turn about deck. Convoy looks quite big, about 40 or more ships. Freighters, tankers, transports. Saw destroyer over to west drop about four depth charges. Noticed one corvette running through convoy.
Held gun drill on all guns. Handled fore on AA gun #3 took over firing position then to #1-3 inch on bow. Regular crew off and held training for our gang. Not bad for first day. Secured at 11:20. Filled in good morning.
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Weather is fine with smooth sea and mostly overcast sky. Visibility about 6. No wind, temperature about 65 about 80 in afternoon, slept most of afternoon and stations for Abandon ship at 4pm.
Took fore watch on bridge from four to eight. Next one at 8 am ships course 89. Moonlight and clear starry sky. Visibility about 8. to bed about 10:30 pm.
19 October 1942
Up at 7:30, chow and fore watch at 8:00. Time set one hour ahead from Midnight. Position few miles east of Nantucket. Supposedly covered 190 miles since departure. Smoke streak in water from 6th line of ships. One ship fired four shots, destroyer on spot with plane overhead. Don't know what it was.
Escort destroyer, British asked us to take acute appendix case on board. Man aboard at 12:30. Office watch at 12:00. Next one at Midnight. Still heading East 80. Weather clear, sunny, sea smoother, chilly, wind but lee actually hot. Slept from 3 to 4:30 pm.
Understand seven more ships presumably from Boston, joined convoy this afternoon. Tried to identify NORLAGE in convoy but unsure. Hope she is in convoy. Gear aboard vitally necessary as food, equipment and heat and power are aboard for our party.
Moonlight just after dark but overcast with stiff wind later. To bed early for mid watch.
20 October 1942
On bridge at midnight. Overcast, stiff breeze, sea smooth. On course 49 since 2:30 yesterday at about 60 miles east of Nantucket. Off at 4 with no activity. To bed and up at 10. On watch at 4 again. Weather is turning a bid cold now. Expect by tomorrow the weather should be really cold. No rough weather or submarines thus far. Hope the luck holds all through the trip.
Just off watch. Nothing untoward. Friendly sub crossed bow about 4pm. Identified by escort. Position at 4 pm., 42;45 n 62;30 w which is about 120 miles ENE of Seal Island.
Was noticing effect of blackout with indirect moon glow. Vessels out of line of glow are almost impossible to discern. With moon clear all vessels are clearly visible while with heavy over cast all are shapeless. A small light shows for miles.
21 October 1942
up very early for chow and on watch at 8. Sea like glass with very little wind. Cool, clear weather, sky mostly overcast. Position NE of Halifax course 63 speed nine.
MATTHEW LUCKENBACK was rammed during night was dropped out of convoy. Seven ship convoy crossed ahead at 8 am. Destroyer alongside at 1 pm to take aboard appendix case.
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Busy most of pm on ICS fones making repairs. Day uneventful with fine weather still holding. To bed early for mid watch.
22 October, 1942
Mid to 4 watch with nothing of any importance occurring. Ship passed outside of convoy fully alight. Quite a sight. Fishing fleet passed at 2 am. Sea still exceptionally smother, with clear moonlight. Wind shifted to NE.
To bed at 4 am and soldiers doing their daily "stomp" woke me at nine. Returned to repairing fones. Two more repaired. All OK now. Sun shining brightly and sea still smooth though the air is sharp.
Watch at 4 pm off at 8. Nothing of importance. Sea calm, wind brisk shy clear, moonlight. Just the night for attack, Pray out luck holds. To be at 10.
23 October, 1942
On watch at 8 A.M. Weather overcast, sea smooth, wind is north and brisk. Relieved at 8:30 to fix lights on gun aft. Worked on that and fones [sic] till 4. Finished job.
Convoy split at noon, most heading east. Four of us left heading for Greenland. Escort of five Coast Guard Cutters from Greenland Patrol. Sure is a sight for weary eyes. Haven't recognized any of them yet.
Weather is getting cooler now. Looks like rain or snow. Possibly just soup. Will see later.
Pulled into St. John, Newfoundland, and docked at 7:00 P.M. Secured our watches.
24 October, 1942
Still docked at St. John, Newfoundland. No liberty. Looked at what could be seen of the territory, the harbor is a natural out between two high hills, and landlocked with a narrow entrance. The entrance is blocked with a submarine net with a Harbor Defense Patrol Craft circling about in the inner harbor. The houses are frame shacks perched on the side of the hill toward the town. The town population 30,000 seems modern enough and is perched on the top of the midsection of the hill. The section of the hill backing on the sea is almost barren rock with few houses and little vegetation. Winding roads were noticeable going up the hills. Saw a few of the shaggy monsters they call dogs. Understand they are used for hauling carts.
There are a good number of ships in the harbor awaiting departure of the convoy. The dock to which we are moored is still in process of construction. Should be 600/700 feet long when completed. Pier is of reinforced cement with cement pilings.
A garrison of soldiers is stationed here and noted four Canadian corvettes and six CG Cutters moored in the harbor. Guess we are waiting for the rest of the convoy to form, which might be any time.
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Weather is considerable warmer, overcast, hazy. Rain and fog all night. No rain today and fog almost cleared with brisk offshore breeze blowing. Few miles to north is the naval base at Argentia.
Liberty has been granted to the ships crew and the commissioned personnel, both Army and Navy not to enlisted men.
Spent day washing clothes and reading. Nothing of importance transpired. So to bed early as I spend last night coughing on account of my darned sinus.
25 October 1942
Same dock, same place. Getting tiresome just sitting here doing nothing. Weather mild, overcast.
Liberty granted all hands. Ashore about 3 P.M. and walked about. Not much to see as it is Sunday and everything is shut down. Hills and hills and MUD. The traffic runs on the opposite side to what ours does, to the left. Make it hard crossing streets as habit makes you look the wrong way for traffic. At night everything is blacked out. The cars run with very low lights. The fenders on all cars are painted white for visibility in the dark. Few of the streets are paved, the hills are steep and I haven't seen any very nice homes. Guess I just haven't been to the right part of town.
Went to the U.S.O. at the top of the hill. Very nice place. Bowling games, library, restaurant, soda fountain, dance hall, auditorium, ping-pong. Wrote to Nellie and the kid. Was extremely tickled at the opportunity to write them. Took a load off my mind.
Stayed at U.S.O. on account of rain and saw the local talent show which was mighty good. Had a bite and retuned to ship at 10:30 and to bed.
Exchanged some money for N.F. money. Hold it for Louise. Dollar is worth $1.10 in exchange. Language used is an old time "Chaucer" a mixture of what seem Welsh and Gaellic and Cockney.
There was a parade in town. Never understood the reason, but it looked like a defense parade, mostly kids, boys and girls.
Everything but soft drink and candy stores and churches closed on Sunday.
26 October 1942
Rain again this morning, In fact all day. Still at dock. Understand from some of the boys that the NORLAGA and two others pulled in this morning. Means we may leave here soon. I figure, by Wednesday. The NORLAGA has the food, recreation, heating, cooking power, technical gear and living quarters on board, all belonging to this expedition. Not much use being there without her there too.
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Went ashore today to look for a souvenir, but got rained out. Got a few post cards and went to U.S.O. for supper. Left there at 8 to return.
Gosh, what hills and the U.S.O. is on top of the last hill. Up and up and then some more. Coming back almost got lost in the blackout. I never say or felt such thick blackness. When I found I had missed my way only two blocks out of my way. Rain still falling. To bed at 10 and read till I feel asleep.
27 October 1942
No rain today though sky still overcast. Still at some dock, waiting for ??? but waiting still. Nothing of interest. Went over and mailed cards and got a pearl handled nail file for Louise and a changed purse for Nellie and back to ship at 3:30. to bed to read.
28 October 1942
Still sitting at Newfy John dock. Didn't go ashore. Eat, sleep and talk. Nothing else to do. Mr. Clark had word to report to Naval Control Officer. Liberty as usual for gang.
29 October 1942
Same dock. Mr. Clark ashore after passing words "No Liberty". When he returned the dope was that we would have to build our own barges, as there were none on the "NORLAGA". Liberty granted as no sailing date mentioned. Barges are primary requisite for beaching equipment.
From the information picked up, I understand that a ship was sunk right out of St. Johns. And the "TIRPITZ" is loose in the north Atlantic and is supposedly shelling weather station. This is all rumor it is known the TIRPITZ is loose. And load of survivors was brought in today. A destroyer came limping in with a heavy list. That ship could raise hell with a convoy. It could stay ten miles off and shell a convoy to bits.
Bad as this place is, I'd rather be here than out there swimming. But I wish this would get over with and we would get out of here and head for Greenland.
30 October 1942
Same dock. Liberty granted again. There is a Hollowe'en Dance at the U.S.O tonight. Thought of going but we left the dock to anchor in midstream. Bumboat ferry costs twenty cents each way, and I don't care enough for this dump of a town to pay that to go over.
Ship anchored near us has a hole in the forward cargo hold on the starboard side. Been struck by torpedo. SMALL DAMAGE TO BRIDGE. THEY WERE TRANSFERRING LUMBER FROM HER. Must have been what kept her afloat. She also has torpedo nets hoisted on booms aft. Perhaps the nets didn't fulfill their purpose.
Sat around reading all day as nothing else to do. And not much in way of news or even rumor for change.
31 October 1942
Anchored out. Weather as usual, mostly overcast and bit chilly, though still not cold. "SS TENTEGAL" [sic] just came in and tied alongside. Has motor boats, trucks and derricks on deck. Must be headed for the same place we are.
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Word has been spread in the news that this boat "SS DORCHESTER" was sunk off Greenland. That is hot. Darn good thing that Nellie doesn't know what ship I am on. Would give her a real scare. Have no idea whether my letter and cards went thru the mail yet. Sincerely hope so. But there is no way of knowing until we arrive at Bluie West One, our starting point is Greenland. Providing we leave this dump in time. Getting physically and morally tired of this enforced inactivity.
1 November 1942
Sunday and still sitting out here in midstream. Soldiers getting pretty rambunctious. Fighting among themselves all night long. I stopped one fight at a little after midnight by asserting authority. If we don't leave here soon, all hell will break loose. The soldiers have only been over twice and then only to Fort Pepperell and back. Like a bunch of caged animals, on board now. So we had better leave soon. Went out on boat deck reading most of afternoon. Weather exceptionally warm. Spend most of my time reading. Nothing else to do.
2 November 1942
Same anchorage. Muggy, rainy day with a very high wind blowing outside. We are protected by the high hills. Liberty granted by Mr. Clark to all hands tell 8 A.M. and I hear that is the last.
Took on fuel today, which might mean anything or nothing. I hope it means we are leaving. Am anxious to get started and on the job.
Heard that all the letters written by those on board are back on board. I hope not as I wrote two letters to Nellie and two to baby and sent them a card each, way last week.
Found a game set and played "Crown and Anchor" for an hour and "Acey Ducey" for three hours after the Robby. First time in about seven years. Really enjoyed it too. Sat talking with some of civilians and before I could realize it was one thirty.
3 November 1942
Election day. Still sitting out here. Shore leave cancelled for all hands. Three limey sweepers out this morning. Look as though we are preparing to depart. I understand that this boat is due to go to Bluie West Eight first which would put us another two weeks behind. If this is true, I hope our gang gets shifted to some ship going direct to Bluie West One. It is getting close to cold weather - too close to afford us much more time.
Mr. Clark has gone to attend a conference the outcome of which is ? He returned just before chow and had no dope. Perhaps our skipper has orders to proceed for Eight. We'll see in a few days.
This is our departure day as moved up from 28th. At anchor all day in same spot. Quite a bit of activity in the harbor. Three Coast Guard cutters, I think the "COMANCHE", "MOHAWK" and "ALGONQUIN" and a submarine tender which arrived here yesterday, departed to stand by outside and wait for us. A good sized convoy came in to anchor here. Captain ashore for his clearance orders.
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Back with pilot and orders to clear all decks of soldiers and civilians at two o'clock. Weighed anchor at four and headed out. Relieved the fone watch on the bridge for chow. This coast seems to be all bleak rock. The entrance is practically invisible until one is right on it. I go on watch from 8 to 12pm. Mr. Clark said we were going directly to Bluie West One, but not to let it out. Glad of that as it will allow us so much more time to get things done.
On watch at 8pm a dark but beautiful night. Overcast skies at nine and a heavy wind storm at ten. Seas started picking up at about midnight. Decks so dark that nothing is visible. Practically impossible to pick out next ships in convoy.
Course 17 speed 7.5 knots. Heavy beam seas with north wind about 35mph. Skies overcast with light rain squalls.
5 November 1942
up "shooting" the breeze till two am and enjoying the feel of the ship tossing. Been three years or more since I last felt it. (Nov 39). On "TRITON" heading for Puerto Rico and running from a hurricane at that time.
Up at 7 for breakfast. Spent a poor night. This ship creaks and groans like an old man with rheumatism. Sea is getting pretty rough. Weather overcast with fresh winds from north. Log at mid read 45.8 and 70 at 8am (6.5 kph)
Turned in and caught up on sleep tell early chow and on watch from 12 to 4. Log 74.4 lat. 48.46 Course 17 turning 47 rpm. Seas calming down wind NW fresh #5 weather overcast Alto Cumulus 10. Next watch 4am temperature about 40.
6 November 1942
Off watch at 8am. Uneventful. Weather clearing, sea smooth, wind NW fresh. Convoy consisted of SS TINEL, DORCHESTER, FAIRFAX, and a Panamanian coal burner. (don't know name). Escort-MOHAWK, COMANCHE, ALGONQUIN and tender SANDPIPER. Course 17° speed about 4 k. changed course at 0715 to 355t. taff log 65 at 8am (165 M. from Nfld.) nothing of importance occurred all day. Log at 4pm 203.3 (3.3) which puts us off or abeam of Belle Island. Early tomorrow we should be off Belle Isle which is a notorious submarine junction. When we get past that point there will be little further danger from subs but we might start to see ice. Watch at 6 to 12. log at mid 43.3.
7 November 1942
Up at 7:30 for chow. Sea smooth. Weather overcast looking like snow log at 8 am 83.3 (283 miles doing 5 kph. Watch at noon. Snow flurries and high winds most of the afternoon. Course 350 log at noon .5 (300.5) Noon position 52.47 N. Puts us off Hawk Island in Labrador at about 4 pm wind about 55 mph from NW. Course changes at noon tomorrow to 22 secured watch in crows nest and split watches on bridge to 2 hours. Next watch 4 to 6 am. Seas picking up pretty badly, no ice yet.
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8 November 1942
Sunday again though it makes no difference. On watch at 4 to 6 wind had died down during the night but picked up again about 5a. log at 4 a 36 (356M.) snow flurries all night and today temperature 34. In yesterday's storm the soldiers were placing bets as to which cutter would sink first. Even the gunnery officer remarked on the beating they were taking. Lost the TINTAGEL last night but she showed this morning. Position at 4 P 53;44 N 41;57 W log 76 (376) course 350. Captain asked "COMANCHE" for permission to split convoy but not granted. Watch from 8 to 10 P.
9 November 1942
left slow part of convoy and changed course to 22 at 8a. On watch at noon. Log 77 (477) speed 10. Course 22 position 55;43 n 50;57 W. Three ships and three escorts, heading direct for "Onoto" Bluie West One. Wind and sea on port quarter. Snow flurries very often. Relieved at 1:30 P. Should be in early Wednesday A. Nothing of importance during the day.
10 November 1942
On watch at 4 A. off at 6A. Snow flurries and high NW wind. Ice on deck. Temperature 31. Slowed down due to breakdown on eastern Guide. Two patrol bombers from Greenland flew over this morning. Log read 43 (643) at 8 a. Position at 8A 58;30. About 5 knot speed maintained all day. The northern lights were active when I came off watch at 10P. One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. The moving panorama of varied lights moving in assorted pattern across the heavens. The beautiful effects are never still, constantly changing color and pattern.
11 November 1942
Nellie's birthday. Sighted Gammatrou Station Eight at 2a. Out on deck at 7:15a. A beautiful sunrise in the first clear sky since leaving St. Johns. Out on deck most of the day watching the scenery. Bare rock cliffs reaching hundreds of feet in the air with not a bit of plumage or foliage anywhere. Entered the fjord at about 9 a with the COMANCHE leading the way. Quite a few small iceberg floating around in the fjord. Temperature I judge about 15. Water in fjord coated with about two inches of ice though ice was easily broken. Trip up fjord to Base One was forty miles and we docked at about 2:30. Orders were for Mr. Clark and his detail to remain on board until sent for by S.O.P.A. Color in icebergs were of purest crystalline blue and in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Sun was under haze most of day, so peaks had a desolate, snow covered look. Not twilight, but dark set in at 3:30 P. wrote a letter to Nellie giving her greetings of the day. Walked about deck at 5P. and watched passenger fishing. Caught a few cod using bread for bait. Snow all night and weather turning warmer.
12 November 1942
Rain and sleet this morning early. Later turned colder. Rain stopped but weather remained overcast. Assisted on repairs to gyro motors and part of cargo unloaded. COMANCHE pulled out and AKALAK docked. Got two official letters today. Received word we were due ashore at 8am tomorrow. Weather considerably warmer.
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13 November 1942
Friday the thirteenth. Mr. Clark and the mms departed for site five on the BLUEBIRD, to be gone a week. We loaded our gear on the GG trucks and proceeded to S.O.P.A barracks. Quite a gang here. Met Adams, CRM, in charge of shack. Talked to Lieut. (jg) Chriswell. Said we would be here at least two weeks, and that all the construction gang would stay at site for good. Yeoman said we would leave when transportation and accommodation were available. Weather bad, rain, snow, sleet all day and night.
14 November 1942
Sun out, a beautiful day. A beautiful country, the sun reflecting on the glaciers and hills. The nearest hill is about 3000 feet. Snow about 1 foot thick. Temperature about 20. Admiral [Edward "Iceberg"] Smith held inspection. Nothing doing all day.
15 November 1942
Sunday, got up at 4 a to take a bath. Then back to sleep for a while. Went for a two hours walk this morning. Borrowed a fur parka as it is quite cold. No sun today. Doc, Boats and I visited the new movies and dance hall which is opening today. Then walked around and across the airfield. Saw three fortresses and a transport plane take off. Poor Doc got more than he could take. This is the first exercise in a month. About 40 transports lined on lower end of field. Fine weather for a good walk. Went for a ride later in the hills, thru a river bottom, which is flooded when the thaw starts. Water from the ice cap and the snow in the hills fills the bottom. The gang set traps for fish in one of the lakes.
16 November 1942
Weather has turned so warm that all the snow and ice have melted leaving think mud. Rained most of day. Spent day making canvas duffle bag. Raid drill at 9:40pm. Guns firing at Artillery Point. Lasted two hours and twenty minutes, all clear at midnight. Don't know the story.
17 November 1942
Weather still overcast and a bit colder but not enough to freeze. Been watching the official artist, Norman M. Thomas, painting. Pictures are for his story of "NORTHLAND" to be or being written.
In talking to various people I find that the "DORCHESTER" is running on borrowed time. The subs have been looking for her. Last trip the "CHATHAM" a sister ship was lost tho she wasn't carrying troops at the time.
Not much doing today. Got Maffie and McKennon from "FAIRFAX" at 10:00p and brought time to the barracks.
18 November 1942
A fine day. Up at 6:30. sky clear but too early for sunrise. Air crisp and ground frozen over. Planes in and out all day. Understand there is a flight missing for the last eleven days, and a search party of PBY's is going on a search party [sic]. Three planes are missing, I hear. One plane of search party damaged its forward gear in takeoff and remained on the ground. One transport was unable to get height so returned to field. Heard that mail planes in and out.
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Word has gotten out that a civilian construction crew is already constructing our barracks at Liba. Expect they will have a dock for us too, very soon. I hope this is true.
All sorts of stories on the two hour, forty minute blackout the other night, but can't believe any. Expect Mr. Clark and the master minds today or tomorrow.
Gang here is in pretty good form. A lot of noise but no fights. All hands live in a long barracks and a Quonset hut. The barracks is a wood building 120 x 20 x 15 filled with bunks and pretty warm.
The Quonsets are a fabricated, half round hut 36 x16 with a corrugated steel roof. Insulation is used for keeping the huts warm. Hot and cold running water in the bathroom. The officers have a well set mess and recreation hall in the S.O.P.A building. There is no place set for the enlisted personnel so we use the barracks.
Bedding is issued here. As most of us left ours behind, we needed it too.
Lux got permission to leave on the PBY flying today. Said he would try and see whether anything is being done in Liba.
Things here at Bluie West One are more comfortable than I thought possible. There is a big airfield well protected by the surrounding mountains. Water is supplied by the reservoir tanks up in the hills.
The place is extremely well protected by artillery and anti-aircraft posts. It would be almost suicide for any enemy to try for a landing here.
The Coast Guard is very active in Greenland. This being headquarters. Weather patrols, convoys escorts, hunting and rescue parties supply bases, D/F and beacon and lighthouse station, ice breaking, sounding and chart making and surveys of harbors are a few of the duties of the Coast Guard here.
Admiral (Iceberg) Ed. H. Smith is S.O.P.A
19 November 1942
A dreary day. Not very cold, but freezing point. Overcast all day. Expect snow by tonight. Mr. Clark has not come back yet. Didn't hear any planes come or go today. An advanced base is being established here, being known as Advanced Base, Navy #1503.
Food here is good. Thru lack of fresh vegetables and calcium in the water, vitamin "C" is introduced pill form as part of the regular diet. Men who have been here for a while are complaining of gum trouble due to lack of calcium.
20 November 1942
Another gloomy day. And one of the famous Greenland windstorms been building up all day. Wouldn't surprise me to hear of it reaching 120 miles per hour. Right now it is about 60 mph. Planes in the field are running their engines to keep the wind from sweeping them into the air and crashing them. A little rain fell. Surprisingly the wind is comparatively warm. The snow and ice on the hills in the vicinity has all been melted.
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Mr. Clark returned today and I saw him in the office. He said nothing and I didn't ask any questions. So there is no news from that point.
The station or base here has about 2000 men, soldiers, sailors (Navy and Coast Guard) and civilians' construction gang. I haven't been about much or I would know more. The Army PX sells beer four times a week and they also have a commissary, which doesn't stay open very long at a time.
21 November 1942
Overcast again today. Tho there is no wind. Sun rises at about eight and sets about three. Starts getting light at about 7:30 am and is already dark at 3:30. days getting shorter each day. Wind died suddenly last night at ten. Picked up today, suddenly at four P.
Saw Mr. Clark last night again but he is still not putting out any information. Losing my curiosity very fast as it seems much easier to let things slide along without bothering.
Nothing happened today other then the Admiral's weekly inspection. Thomas, the artist, had an old favorite book of mine. I hadn't read "Aphrodite" by Pierre Louys in twenty years and spent an enjoyable afternoon reading it.
22 November 1942
I'm tired, so tired I can just get around. But I had a better time then I have had for many a year. Three of us, Mason, CBW, Tapper, SK1c, and I went for a hike [sic]. We started at nine this morning with a lunch and two 22's. The base truck took us to the new hospital site. Mason took one 22 and I took the lunch and Tappar took the other 22. These we swapped about. From the site we started out. We walked for about three miles thru the valley until we came to the ledge over the river bed. The weather was cool and rainy tho the going wasn't bad at all. We passed quite a few streams, whose source was in waterfalls. These were from melting ice on the mountain top. The scenery even without sunshine was impressive. Distances were impossible to measure. Everything was so massive making a mere human something negligible. We decided to climb on of the hills to look for game. From the valley it looked like a climb of about 200 to 300 feet. What a mistake. Climb to one level, then climb some more then kept it up. I almost gave out once and had to sit down to rest. In fact I rested twice in the climb. One part of the upgrade was almost perpendicular and the only footing was loose rocks. A little risky but made it ok. From the top we looked back where we came from. Judge the climb to have been over fifteen hundred feet. I doubt we could have gone back the way we came up. Tapper got a rock-rolling spell. It was quite an unexplainable sight to see rocks of all shapes and sizes perched in all sorts of precarious positions. How they got there is hard to understand. We all had a hand in the rock rolling. We met two civilian workers out hunting. They were on their way back for dinner. We talked awhile and then continue on our way. Got into a brush pile about as thick as jungle growth. One place I slipped and soaked my rear end, underwear and all. Then darned if Mason didn't do the same thing. Pushing thru the brush soaked everything we had on.
Finally decided to try and make a fire so we could have some coffee and sandwiches. That was a stunt. We had very little paper and all the brush was soaked with rain. In the sandwich box some of the sugar had spilled.
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All we could get out of the fire was lots of smoke. We had almost given up the first idea when Mason suggested pouring the waste sugar on the blaze. It worked. Tapper took the 1/2 gallon can, broke thru the ice in a nearby pothole and got the water. It was crystal clear and ice cold. I went hunting dead wood. By the way, the heaviest bit of wood anywhere was not thicker than man's forearm. The coffee we used was the dissolving powder kind and, man oh man, was it delicious. With pimento cheese, spam, and salami, we had a good assortment of sandwiches. For dessert we had dried apricots. I enjoyed, really enjoyed, that meal. Between us we finished almost a half-gallon of coffee. But, sad to related, Tapper broke his good pipe. Must have sat or fallen on it during the scrambling around. When the coffee was finished we had some pictures taken in front of the fire. Soon after we ambled on. Hunting was out as there was nothing to hunt. We fired a few times at some crows, tho they were flying too high. Went rock pushing again? We found one weighing about three tons; sitting perched on fiver very small stones. We had picture made of Tapper and I pushing on the rock and another of Tapper and Mason when the rock was moved. We couldn't more the boulder until we shot three of the stones out from under it. Then pushing was simple. By that time it was late enough to start back as the truck was to meet us at three P. Smart me, I thought had found as easy way down so I parted from the others. They found a way down which only had two steep drops one about 10 feet and one about 65 feet. But I after going almost straight down for a while came to a cliff with about a forty foot drop. And me with a rifle in my hand. I backed up to the top again. I was scared quite a bit, a few times and came on some slippery spots getting back up. I found a path from the top which tho slippery was fairly easy going. When I got down I met Mason who had gone looking for me thinking I had been hurt. From there, into the truck and home tired soaked to the skin but happy and planning another trip next Sunday.
A convoy of pretty good size in late this pm. Contacted Mr. Clark after supper for clarification of orders for tomorrow. One man to be at small dock during working hours to check loading of Loran equipment on barge. Also said that "NORLAGO" had finally arrived. To meet Joe here in am.
23 November 1942
Snowed quite a bit last night. About four inches of snow on the ground this morning. Snowed some this morning too. Met Joe at 9A. and proceeded to the small dock to check the loading of the barge for Site 5 but only two loads of section for the construction gang foreman and workers shack came down. Had long talk with Joe this evening to settle problems. Then Mr. Clark had one with me.
24 November 1942
Snowed again last night. Pretty nice weather all day. Loading out barracks on the barge today. Went to the picture tonight in the new "Rec.' hall. Saw "Private Buckaroo". Pretty good.
25 November 1942
I had better not write what I am thinking tonight as I might burn up these pages because I am plenty mad and getting madder.
26 November 1942
Thanksgiving Day. Had a fine dinner. Turkey, etc. regular back home spread.
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27 November 1942
High winds today. To movies at 2P.
30 November 1942
Nothing much doing for the last few days except checking the loading of the barge carrying our equipment down to the site. Reported my dress coat stolen on Friday (27th). No action taken so Sunday night I went to Lt. Young. His reply was " I am not interested". There was time when in the service, a Petty Officer was accorded a bit of respect. Those days are practically gone. To-wit, my treatment on this job. Was ready to call it quits a few times but I am going along and see how things turn out. The two civilians have shown themselves to be insufferable prigs.
The NORTHLAND has been called on a rescue job. Some R.A.F. flyers wrecked their planes on the ice cap up on the east coast. Some of them are known to be injured. Rescue flights had been attempted and food was dropped. Seems the men were on the cap about 17 miles in and were surrounded by crevices. Army and Navy said rescue was impossible. But as usual the Coast Guard did the impossible. Lt. Pritchard took the NORTHLAND plane, landed on the ice cap took some of the survivors off and landed them on the NORTHLAND. Haven't heard of the finish yet. Same old Coast Guard to the Rescue. Rescue was made Sunday (29th).
The NORTH STAR arrived from the states today. She is supposed to unload her cargo the NORLAGO and transfer all LIBA etc. cargo to the NORTH STAR. When she leaves we are to go along for transportation to our site. Mr. Clark, Waldschmidt, boats and bolts left today. Cook and Fielding leaving tomorrow on BLUEBIRD.
3 December 1942
Party departed early this morning. Delay caused by bad weather. The wind on Tuesday (1st) reached one hundred and twenty-five mile per hour. Had been blowing for four days. Wind died down during that night and snow all of yesterday. Sun shone today for the first time in over two weeks. Weather clear and cold. NORTH STAR left for rescue job. Understand Lt. Pritchard landed on ice cap to attempt second rescue and his motor conked. One of the men left on cap had both legs frozen. Cap temperature about 35 below.
This makes cargo transfer to NORTH STAR out. Plans changed again.
4 December 1942
BLUEBIRD, carrying Michaud, Fielding and Joe started for site yesterday, but as seems to be usual thing somebody forgot something or made a mistake. Anyway she came back. She was due to leave at dawn again but at for am a mighty strong wind came up. Been blowing like all hell all day. Don't know officially but I can guess at more than 125 mph. Breeze. Set of antennas blown down and repaired. Storeroom Quonset had section rook blown away. Just a gentle breeze.
Headed for the picture this pm. Used my wind hood and borrowed a pair of glasses to keep the sand out of my eyes. Going along the road was bad enough but the airfield was terrible. Across that open space the wind was blowing up a sandstorm. The stones blowing around, hurt when they hit. One bunch crossing ahead of me stopped in the middle of the field and sat down. That was the worst wind I have ever come in contact with. As I write it seems to be dying down with occasion strong gusts.
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8 December 1942
Plans finally going ahead. Should be on the site next week if plan don't change.
Pritchard is dead. NORTHLAND is stuck in the ice. Haven't heard any more on the rescue job. First men were rescued and have Pritchard to thank for their lives. A brave man. Unable to get full true story of rescue flight, but actual facts of any kind are scarce. Everything is secret.
10 December 1942
Today has been the first really cold day since early in November. Temperature down to about 15 F with few clouds in the sky.
Out in the fresh air all day. Down to the TINTAGEL for information relative to L.R.N. equipment in morning and over to moraine to check in afternoon.
The story is told here about Lord Haw Haw. In a broadcast directed at this base, he promised us an attack on December ninth which was yesterday nothing has happened.
16 December 1942
Leaving on the SS TINTAGEL tomorrow for Fredericksdal. Busy for three days now loading her from SS. NORLAGO. Cargo stowed and extra food on board.
17 December 1942
Aboard SS TINTAGEL at 8am. Found we had no food for our thirteen men for one day. Called the office and they ordered four men to AKALAK for the trip. Broke out sleeping bags for all hands. Two short. Left dock at 10:00 underway for "LIBA". No show from S.O.P.A. so arranged for chow.
18 December 1942
Still underway, Iceberg all around. Twelve hours trying to find a way thru one field of ice. Covered about 20 miles from Simiutuk.
19 December 1942
Same thing. Still underway. Ice put a hole in No. 1 hold. Crew worked making comment bulkhead over holes.
20 December 1942
Arrived in cove at 2:00. Anchored overnight. Four days to make 100 miles. Ice so thick that had one hell of a time.
21 December 1942
at 9:00 RARITAN brought barge alongside. 10:30 started unloading set 4 and 8 gangs for 24 hour work.
22 December 1942
RARITAN took barge in tow for beach. Loaded to the rafters. Started unloading right away. Quite a job rigging a gangplank of 12X12 to put small dozer ashore. Spent time from about 3am swinging barge to full tide.
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23 December 1942
Worked all day unloading. Weather cold and snowy. Quit at 6:00. Made trip to point in cat to get two sleeping bags. Wind picked up and almost froze sitting there. On the way back the cat got stuck and had to walk back with the bags. Cold and windy and a tough road to travel. In bed at 8P.
24 December 1942
Started at 9 am and worked thru to 2:30. Christmas morning. Barge to be ready to leave for 2nd load off TINTAGEL as skipper was soared of ice forming to block entrance. Put in 17 1/2 hours. A fine Christmas Eve.
25 December 1942
Christmas Day, to bed at 2:30 and up at 10:00. Barge away at 9:00 and no work. A real nice day. Snowed again last night so everything was covered. After dinner the whole gang walked out to the point to visit the construction gang who seemed glad to see us. They are shacking in what is to be our generator and storeroom. Stayed about an hour and started back. Storm picked up as we started back with snow and high winds. Blow kept increasing all thru the night. Roughing is not the word for this. There was no coal and I chopped wood all morning to get firewood. Got to bed early. Wind almost took out tent down a few times. Snow all over everything when we got up.
Eskimo keep Christmas for three days. And the people go to church each of the three days. At night the kids carry lanterns and visit all the houses singing carols. Their harmony and songs are beautiful. One night we sang for them and they returned by singing for us.
26 December 1942
28 December 1942
Cook got sick so took over.
30 December 1942
Finished unloading barge at 10PM Moving out to point tomorrow. Mr. Clark gave each group a quart. It sure went good.
31 December 1942
Took down our tents and packed all gear for the move. Got temporarily situated in "tec." Room for a while. Feels good to be able to get our feet on a wooden deck again. Our permanent sleeping quarters have not been finished. The "Tec." Room, Mr. Clark's room and the "Rec." and "Mess" rooms have been covered and are livable. Put the cook stove in the R and M room until galley is finished. Set up radio and record player. Both give fine results. No antenna on radio but it works fine even on all short wave.
Doc and J.B. both broke out their New Year quarts and spread them around. To bed at 11:30. New Year's eve.
Happy New Year 1943
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1 January 1942
Put flag up at station for first time. Four men to village for poles and boxes. Four men working on pole rigging. One man helping electrician rest busy. Galley and storeroom almost finished. Setting up range. Wind increasing some. Got to get our tools up here tomorrow. Weather has been normal all day.
5 January 1942
Haven't been in a position to write since New Years day. The evening of January first the wind began to puck up. Went to bed with normal plans for next day. Wind increased but no special attention to it as. After the days work there was not much more that could be done. The main building was about complete but for another section to be finished and the building anchored.
At about 5:30 am on the second, I woke hearing a heavy wind blowing and tearing things loose. But no alarm had been raised so I went back to sleep. At about 6 the building started to come apart. We all got up and put on what clothing we had handy and could keep warm in and evacuated to the small building about twenty feet away. This building, intended for a generator and storeroom, was housing the construction gang. In crossing we had to be exceptionally careful on account of flying wreckage and building sections. The walls of our quarters were starting to go as a evacuated. All hands made it safely across.
We were all mighty glad of the shelter. All felt like homeless children. But the generator house was coming apart too. The construction men were busy strengthening the roof and walls of the shack. A big case of glass had been lifted and thrown against one corner of the building starting the wreckage. Two of the cat operators left to set the cat in front of the building as wind break.
Something hit the chimney once and knocked the pipe loose and a new chimney had to be rigged. But since all the food had been moved the day before to the main building there was nothing to eat.
At about 10 the cat went to the village for some fuel and food, and returned at about 1:00. We spent most of our time watching the wind tear the rest of the building down. During one slight letup period, all hands went for salvage. Most of the sleeping bags and personal clothing was salvaged also the new broadcast radio and the record player and records. Shortly after the salvage run the last of the roof and walls went in the wind. Saw sections weighing close to 900 pounds go flying thru the air, as they were paper. There were four pieces about 8 feet high and 3 feet square, which actually took six men to handle. These were blown over like matchsticks, one of them first being moved a few feet.
Things got so bad that we finally had to evacuate this building too; line was stretched behind the cat and on wagon. Each of us took one blanket and got underway for the village. I had the line about my arm at the start but it almost cut my arm off, so I let go. The weight of the men and the wind broke the line after a short pull. I piled on the cat wagon for the rest of the ride. I was never in my life as miserable as I was on that ride wind and snow.
When we arrived at the village I was one solid lump of ice. Cold, hungry, miserable and feeling old. But I was not alone. All hands took it like
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veterans. We were met by the natives who gave us two schoolrooms to live in and helped us build fires and get comfortable. Each of us had to find a place to sleep. I slept, fully clothed, in the teacher's chair, leaning by head on the desk. But all in all it could have been lot worse. No one was injured or taken sick.
Five men stayed behind in the shaky building but they didn't fare too badly. In the village, the wind had blown our tent down and some of our equipment, flying around had wrecked a few of the Kayaks. If it hadn't been for the natives we would have been in a real fix.
On the morning of the third, with the wind much stronger, the cat went to the point to get sleeping bags and mess gear. I cooked for our gang. The stove was old fashioned and had a flat plate about 6 feet up in the stovepipe which could just hold a bucket. All the cooking was done on that. In the other room the stove would not heat so all cooking was done with a gasoline blowtorch. The wind kept up all day and night.
The morning of the fourth three radiomen went to the point to make the installation of the communication equipment. Stayed behind to manage the separating of the pile of stores. Wind still blowing bad as ever. Plans being made to dig in four Quonset huts under about 4 feet of ground. "Boats" working with gang to put power boat in water. It was brought around and beached. Going to be anchored ashore for the winter.
2 January 1942
Left the village for the point. Wind still as ever. Assisted with installation of communication equipment. Got first message off at 7:55 pm "NOI" here S4 reports us S! to S# rising and falling. Antenna now about 85 feet long and not very high. Set not loading as she should so will try loading shorter antenna and raising it some.
Uno dug part of new tunnel tonight. Said it went easy so fat. Kept watch till midnight. Called "NOI" no luch. He unheard since 2300.
Wind increasing to greater force then ever and getting worse all the time. To bed at 12:30am.
6 January 1942
Wind held very strong all night and was still increasing this morning. Wind dropped at about ten and weather turned warm and a heavy rain started. Harold went over to the dugout and found it dry.
Rest of the gang came out today. Guess we will start salvage operations tomorrow if the weather changes.
Made contact with one at about 1:00pm. Will note at four whether results are o.k. Radio gang setting RAM receiver for Medium frequency, keeping HRO for H.F. reception. Keeping "Com" setup temporary until decision is reached regarding permanent installation. Antenna is now about 70 feet long. Can still be out if necessary. Height about 15 feed horizontal.
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Looking back, December 17, we went aboard the 'TINTAGEL" for transportation to Liba. Issued sleeping bags to 10 men. Called the office about food for 13 men for 24 hours. But we left dock too soon. Down stream at 10 after putting four men aboard the AKLAK. AKLAK was lead ship. Got to Gamatron expected to arrive Frederiksdal at about 9 on eighteenth. But struck trouble the first night. Ran into a field of ice, both floe and bergs. The icebergs were regular mountains of ice. The AKLAK spent about 20 hours trying to find a way thru the ice. Quite a few of the bergs hit the TINTAGEL. Had to rig a cement bulkhead in No 1 hold to cover the holes made by the icebergs. Due to the heavy ice it took four days to make the 105 mile trip. Arrived at Frederiksdal at 2 pm on 20th December.
The RARITAN taken the barge to safety up Prinz Christian fjord due to a heavy wind a few days before. The storm had put two holes on each side of the power boat. Just picked it up and set it on the rocks.
Contacted the RARITAN on the 21st and began loading the barge at 10am. Completed loading one full load at 12 on 22nd and headed for the beach.
Eskimos were out in their kayaks for trading all during the loading time. Quite a sight to see the first time. The kayaks are skin boats (understand they take eight months to make) about 1 foot deep. They sit down in them with their feed straight in front. Everything dry is kept in their laps. They wear a skin shirt, which fits tightly over the pit of the kayak, keeping then inside dry. On the top of the kayak in front is a gun boot and at each side of the kayak is a spear. In back are thongs for holding game and fish. A double bladed car, the blades, propels the kayak only three inches wide. They make quite a bit of speed.
The country is tough looking with high jagged mountain crags almost all sides. Tho the harbor seems well protected. We landed with only sleeping bags. There was one tent up and we opened up cot bundles to get enough bunks. Set up a tent and all hands worked till 10 when gang split in two sections one kept working and one turned in. Broke out at 2:30am to get on the job but spent all the time till 9 beaching the barge on the tide. Spent many hours unloading. Another tent was put up and made trip to the point to get 2 more sleeping bags.
Barge left for TINTAGEL on 25th. So took the day off. Barge returned 26th and went to work again and finished about 10pm on 30th.
Moved out to the point on 31st. A barren strip of land with not even a blade of grass growing. On a flat ledge about 15 feet above sea level with mountains in the background. Just a windswept strip. There were two buildings, one completed on the site. One the generator room is 20x40 and the other was 160 x 20. This main building was well laid out with a sleeping room, washroom, and sickbay and weather room. Galley, mess and rec. room, office and officers quarters and a tec. Room. Each of the rooms was plenty large.
Finished 1600 sked with "NOI". S2-3 reported with shorter antenna. Has msg. For 2300.
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7 January 1943
Checked line voltage and set motor solid. Response on GN noticeable. Pulled line to 110 V. at switch by increasing line. Output at alternator steeped to 112 A.C. making transmitter output to antenna 1A and final at 150 am. No change in antenna.
Generator house being completely reinforced to hold against future storms. Tunnel finished and cat to village for Quonset flooring and sections.
Contacted "NOI" at 8 and 12. Two to go at 4pm. Working on 2670 with reported S1-0 sig. Tried 4050 no sig.
Weather overcast all day with snow flurries and varying temperatures. Cold this am. Warmer during pm. With colder after 4 pm wind Norman.
Salvage operations proceeded today. Clearing and collecting material from beachfront and area to building. 'Eskimos were out here today. One had hurt his hand some way. They seemed to approve of the digging of the trench to bury the upright sections of the Quonsets and turfing to the roof. Ought to be ready to move into in about two weeks.
Shed at 8pm. Reported sig as S2-4 not good. Uno returned with load for starting Quonsets. Weather still overcast, no wind, cool.
8 January 1943
Weather partly overcast with heavy gusts of winds early this morning. Turned warm during day. Radio no change.
Strips for Quonsets set down today.
9 January 1943
Weather clearing after light rain this morning. Found that all bundles of masonite lost in storm. These crates weight upwards of 600 pounds. These were gone. Must have blown away.
10 January 1943
Beautiful day. No winds. Ice began forming in harbor this morning and by late evening the whole harbor and out as far as the eye could see was covered with ice. Don't know how long it will last, but a shift of wind is all that will drive it out. Eskimos were out in kayaks. Understand polar bears quite often came ashore at the point. I wonder. There will be no boat in until ice goes.
Saw an interesting remnant of the storm. One of the construction carpenters found a shore 2x4 with a piece of quarter inch ply board driven three inches deep into it. Proof of the winds force. We all signed it as a souvenir.
Had a picture made of the whole group. One Quonset is almost complete. I am going to wire it tomorrow for lights. Four of them are being erected in a four-foot trench. This will leave only the round roof exposed to the winds. Earth is to be used to fill up to the roof rounds. And anchors used to hold the roof. The first one will be the storeroom and office. A six foot passage (covered) acting as storeroom and entrance from outside to office and sleeping quarters which adjoins. Each of these is thirty-six feet long.
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A covered passageway them leads to a seventy two foot hut which will house the "rec" room, mess hall, galley, sick bay and storeroom.
Had a thaw for a few days but ground is now a sheet of ice. Turning colder tonight.
Reports on radio about the same.
11 January 1943
Another beauty of a day. Not too cold. Wired one Quonset today. We are moving in tomorrow. Not so bad. Ready to hoist two pole tomorrow. Most of the stores brought up from the village. Only fuel left to be brought up.
Bay still blocked with ice. Plane made flight over site today.
Radio contacts normal.
12 January 1943
Another beautiful day but cold. Had a heavy frost last night. And cold increasing tonight. Set in AC line today ran almost 2000 feet of #14. Had to make roundabout lay because of tractor traffic and burial is next to impossible. Dug one trench four inches deep by eight inches wide by twenty feed long with a jackhammer. Took most of two hours. The frost makes the ground harder than rock down to over two feet.
New barracks are 600 feet from the old site. We moved in today. Set up broadcast receiver today. Strung short antenna on hill and reception marvelous. Listened to Bob hope.
Sun sets now at a little after three and rises about nine fifteen.
Communication reports very good today. One pole set today. 60 feet high. Quite a job digging pole holes and anchors for guys.
13 January 1943
Another beautiful day, very cold and clear. Building almost completed. Continued wiring. "old Glory" hoisted on high pole today. Another pole up today. Nothing much of interest
Ice has gone from harbor.
14 January 1943
Big winds again today. Started about midnight. Blew about 70-mph. With gusts from 90 to 100 mph. Steadied down to about 50 this evening. Started snowing about ten and a depth of 18 inches at six and still snowing.
Winds caused no trouble. New hurried house is snug. Set lights in office. Started motor on stove. Line from generator is too small and motor just turned over. Spoke to Mr. Clark and arranged to run #6 line from generator to building. Using soldering iron and unable to use radio.
15 January 1943
Snowed all night. About 2 feet of level snow this morning. Some drifts 5 to 6 feet. I know, I fell in one.
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Brought one generator over from other shack on account of large line drop. Set separate circuits in Quonsets. Started galley range. Ramps built between sections with small, protected storeroom.
Made a late run with Robby to find drinking water. Snow hip high and we had quite a time breaking trail. Clear, cold, cunning water at a temperature of about 25. back late.
Beautiful day again. Out all day without a coat,
16 January 1943
Busy installing lighting system for galley, mess room and doc's room.
Crew's mess established at supper. Since arriving we had been eating out of army mess kits, and taking turns using them. All cooking was done in buckets and on a wood stove. Quite a change to sitting at a set table again.
Weather again fine. Weather station set today. Probably get readings hereafter.
Making use of "rec" room for this writing for the first time. And it feels good to get away from sitting on a bunk in off hours.
18 January 1943
Still on lights. Finished "rec" room. Cleaned room, arranged library, brought out games and inaugurated use of room. "Rec" and mess room is 16X40. About 10 feet is used as mess room during the day. At night the mess tables are used for games and writing.
Yesterday, a wonderful day, the men had a day off. Some went skiing some snow-shooting some hunting and tobogganing. Doc had a time staying up. He went up the mountain on skies all right but coming down he was mostly down.
The weather today was mostly overcast. Raise tonight. The ice pack set in today. RARITAN is due for tomorrow.
19 January 1943
Looks like the start of another blow. Been raining all day and now the wind is beginning to blow. About 35 now.
Fixed beds with sheets, blankets and pillows. First I have had since I got to B.W. One.
Weather station still not in commission due to a couple of pieces being missing. Ought to find them soon.
RARITAN returned to anchorage during storm.
20 January 1943
Rain, wind and mud all day. Barometer dropping, a sure sign of some high winds. Blowing now pretty hard, puffs reaching over 70 mph. Building is safe so far and don't see how it could be hurt. A little worried about a stream catching us in this ditch, but drainage was dug the other day, which seems to be working well. The drain runs directly to the beach. It should work even in the heavy spring and summer rains.
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A couple of construction men just came over from the other building. They came in the big cat because of the strong winds. They say the wind is up to 70 with gusts over 100.
Had an experience today. Strung an antenna from the pole back of the house to the broadcast set. As we were checking results a static storm must have passed as the antenna became charged. Einar, one of the men drew a quarter inch spark.
During this period, which came at communication schedule time, reception was impossible. Noise on broadcast was solid. The antenna was about 120 feet of #22 solid copper.
Completed all wiring today and now ready for the main job when it's ready. Things shaping nicely, washroom almost ready, hot water tomorrow (I hope), "rec" room comfortable. Galley and storeroom coming along, water system about ready.
Ice in bay gone but for a few grounded iceberg.
21 January 1943
Blow-whew!!!! The wind blew all night. Have no way of knowing the velocity but I judge over 140. Our place was snug even at the height of the storm. The other shack stood up O.K. This morning the wind was down a bit but snowing hard with gusts of wind.
Both communication and broadcast antennas were down with broken insulators. Put both up again not expecting them to stay. The floor of the original building, the only part left, started to go. Six pieces of the floor, weighing close to 500 pounds were torn up and were found over 1000 feet away. The skimpy cook shack put up on the flooring platform was not even harmed. And the darn thing is only made of paper.
Busy making up antenna to rig after storm for 2670. About three this afternoon the wind started again with a gust about 150. North wall of generator house gave about six inches and the door, which has been nailed shut, blew open. I was out in back of the house searching for lost parts when it started. I saw a wall panel and a few 2x4's and some fuel drums go flying by and jumped for shelter. All four transmitter sections each weighing 900 were nailed together and braced to the floor. They went, not far but they went. The wind picked them up, carried them gently about four feet and dropped them.
Our antenna broke again, so we set the new one. Slid on my fanny three times crossing from the shack to the pole. All four radiomen worked on the line. While J.B. and Mel worked on the lead-in Bobby and I held the line, both hiding as well as we could from the flying junk, behind the pole. When we took up on the down-haul, the line broke and we had to start over.
Joe gave us the wrong distance from the shack to the pole, se our antenna was 50 foot short.
Securing watch at 8 pm due to storm. All construction men moved over here until the storm is over, as the generator shack might go anytime.
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22 January 1943
Another Greenland day. Rain, winds and then snow. Blew and rained and snowed all night. This morning it was still blowing but no snow or rain. The ground was clear. Then it began to snow at about ten. At three the snow and wind stopped. Close to a foot of snow on the ground. The sun came out for a while and the storm was officially over.
Hot water started today.
Antenna we strung yesterday was still up this morning tho there was a lot of slack to be taken up. "S" reports were exceptionally good on the new antenna. Won't make a proposed additional lengthening of 25 feet until conditions show whether present results are atmospheric or not. Broadcast reception is pretty good tonight tho fading is bad on long wave. Probably due to the northern lights.
Boys had a hot time tonight with the toboggan. Took it up the mountain and let it come down. Mostly flying.
Lowest barometer reading during storm was 28.40 now 29.11 and still rising. Anemometer has been found and guess regular reports will start soon. Judge the wind average reached 100 with gusts of 150.
Poles withstood wind but next test fro them will be under the weight of antennas.
23 January 1943
Not much today. Weather turned fine tho the wind blew the snow about quite a bit. Wind about 35.
Trouble with stomach for past two weeks, so Mr. Clark arranging to send me on one for treatment.
24 January 1943
No work today. Went out with .22 this morning. Wore snow shoes on account of deep snow. Went up mountain back of the house to the water source. About a seven mile round trip. Lots of fun.
Sighted RARITAN with barge in tow entering harbor.
Mail today. Got one from Nellie and baby. Leaving for one on her Tuesday to take treatment for acid condition in stomach. So I'll pack tomorrow and go aboard some time tomorrow evening.
May have to quit this log for a while.
26 February 1943
Left Liba on board the RARITAN at midnight on 25 January headed for S.P.O.A for hospitalization. The construction gang did some final work on the technical building, bunging in the transmitters and timers. They loaded the big cat and the Sullivan and other gear on the barge and we left for Bluie West One.
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Arrived at 2pm. Reported in to S.O.P.A office and next day entered the hospital. Final diagnosis was severe attack of indigestion. Stayed in hospital until 3 February. Hospital was cleared of all ambulant patients that day to make room for the arrival of survivors from the SS DORCHESTER, sunk at 1:55am, 3 February about 10 hours out from Gamatron which is at the fjord entrance to BW One.
The DORCHESTER with two freighters escorted by the cutters TAMPA, COMANCHE AND ESCANABA, and rushed to port to the hospital most of them with frozen legs. Of the 35 Coast Guard men who were on board only six were saved. About 19 Navy transients were lost only 2 being saved. Nine of the gun crew were saved. The others were civilians and soldiers.
Loss of life was heavy due mostly to the cold water. It was stated that 30 minutes was the longest anyone could stay alive in that water. When the torpedo struck, she hit the refrigerator feed line, loosing ammonia gas which must have killed hundreds.
The captain, most of the ship's officers and four Army Chaplains were lost. Most of those saved were afloat in the rafts. Two boats only were launched and in one of these only 2 of 18 were alive. One thing that helped men to be found easily was the little red lights, which were attached to the life jackets. These helped in finding floats in the dark.
The DORCHESTER sunk in about 10 minutes.
Another Coast Guard ship was lost in December. The trawler "NATUK" in company with the "BLUEBIRD" and "NANUK" were on their way to the states when the "NATUK" iced up and turned over. All hands, 35 men, were lost. The ship was found bottom up a few days later.
Stayed at "One" for 4 weeks awaiting transportation back to LIBA. The only thing else of importance was the loss of a PBY on the ice cap. All hands were finally saved. Flying over the cap, the PBY hit an air pocked and landed, damaging her landing gear. Supplies, stoves, fuel and food were chuted to them. They were reached by the rescue party on motor sleds from the "AKALAK" a Coast Guard Trawler.
Found my coat which had been missing for months and also got my October pay check.
Ordered aboard the "COMANCHE" at 2pm on the 24th for transportation to "Liba". Departed at 3 and anchored off Gamatron that night. Departed 11am 25th late on account of the heavy weather. Anchored at entrance to Prinz Christian fjord and stayed till 26th on account of large bergs and heavy floes. Proceeded then to set landing party of 8 soldiers and 1 officer armed to the teeth ashore on Narsak Island. It had been reported that a building and some crates were seen here and pictures were taken of the site by patrol planes.
When landing party returned they reported finding two building, one storage and one a well set up living quarters, both vacant. Two empty steel boxes and machine gun placements were also found. No one was on the island.
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Departed Narsak (Nunarsuak), heading for Frederiksdal. There was a lot of big ice in the fjord, and the skipper not knowing the waters was leery of entering. I assisted in piloting, as I was the only one who had been here before.
Arrived ashore at the village in ship's powerboat and started walking to the point. Asked boatman to wait for my return on the tractor with the mail. But as were on our way in we saw the COMANCHE headed out to sea.
Fell into stream got my outer clothes wet. Didn't get wet thru as the clothes froze immediately.
39 years old this day.
27 February 1943
A beautiful day and not too cold. Took time to look around. Every one looking fine with flowing beards all about. Technical room set up and ground laid. Timers set up in one screened room and communication equipment in another shielded room. Just a few odd jobs to do on timers and both transmitters to be tuned and the doghouses to be set. Antenna to be replace. Sorry I was not here for complete installation but have plenty of time to get acquainted with layout.
Wind about topped but wet snow still falling.
There is a "policeman" a Dane now living in the village. That will kill the trading.
Wind picked up again at about 4:30 and blowing about 50.
1 March 1943
Got up to a beautiful day but the weather changed about ten and started to snow and snow continued off and on all day.
The first weather report was sent in today and three will be sent each day.
Started working today, after being away for quite a while. Will take a little time to reacquaint myself with the equipment. Last I saw of it was in the lab in early October.
Quite a few men here were hit by monoxide gas poisoning. Number 3 generator on the south side of the building was in operation and the exhaust lying on the ground outside was forced back under the building by the wind. The gas must have seeped up thru the floor. LeBlanc, Billiel, Joe, Whipple, Robby and Tremblay got sick from it but none very seriously.
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All exhausts were extended to reach above the roof to overcome any further danger. This is the second time, as some of the men were overcome when the exhaust of the Quonset generator clogged. This happened before my return. That exhaust was also raised.
Took over Tremblay's watch for the last schedules with S.O.P.A
2 March 1943
Weather warm and overcast today. Mixed sleet early this morning which turned to rain. Rained most all day, but stopped toward evening.
Not much doing. Mel laid forms for Xman lines, J.B. worked on com. Equipment, Robby on timer and I on making some test gear.
3 March 1943
Snowed all day today with the wind about 20. Stranded and installed "Tech" antenna replacing on which was too short. A bit working out in the weather. Dug a trench in the snow to place the transmission line forms. Ground lines were laid about two weeks ago and there was two to two and a half foot of snow covering them.
Saw a crash of lightning as I was coming over for supper and the crash reverberated for about two minutes against the mountains.
The wind picked up at 5 and the weather turned so bad, its next to impossible to see.
The gang had a snow fight in the sleeping quarters, which ended in a couple of them almost naked out in the snow bank.
4 March 1943
Snow again. This makes thirty-two that it has snowed. And at noon the wind started picking up and by 3pm settled into a real blizzard with the wind about 40 and increasing. Visibility about 50 feet.
Busy all day on various outside jobs until the weather got too bad. Worked on soldering the "binding ring on the ground system, set ground strip for matching unit in the dog house, assisted laying transmission lines and hauled toboggan load of test gear around.
Checked walkie/talkie last night and now have one in doc's room and one in the "tech" room for use in passing weather messages. This saves an extra trip during bad weather.
Whipple has instruction book written on timers and is giving a lecture tomorrow night and Sunday night we start 24 hour watches, keeping timers heated and starting tests on Monday on hi-power equipment.
Turned exceptionally warm tonight and the snow is melting exceptionally fast with the wind still increasing and rain started.
Ice is starting to collect in the harbor.
5 March 1943
Same old combination snow and blow, all day with the wind blowing.
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From all points of the compass. Blowing about 50. Swells running sometimes fifteen to 20 feet high and breaking on the banks. This is an explanation of why the banks are out so sharply on this point.
Left the shack at 4 with the sun showing but hadn't gotten far when it started snowing like hell again. If you don't believe the weather is good or bad, just wait a minute.
Finished laying transmission line and installed antenna coupling unit in doghouse. Straightening up storage shelves and started tube locker in back of No.2 transmitter.
Lecture at 6:35 on timers.
Finished lecture at 8 and to barracks. Wind increased and skies cleared. Winds about 60.
6 March 1943
All kinds of weather today but mostly snow with a moderate wind from the northwest.
Nothing of importance happened. One gang went to the village to work on the boat and reported that yesterday's surf pushed the ice way up on the beach.
The Eskimos say that in April the snow stops and the ice comes. When it comes it will stay for a few months. Then we surely will be isolated from the rest of the world.
All the boys are in fine shape. Just a little stomach trouble, but not serious but fairly happy. There is just enough to do to keep all hands occupies.
The radio room is starting to shape up now and beginning to look right. JB worked on Harvey Wells, Mell on tube locker. Robby helped tune timer antenna matching section and I made installations and slight changes to radio room.
Ought to be on the air for tests by Tuesday or Wednesday. Starting timer tomorrow to prepare for 24 hours schedule. Start checking crystals for frequency drift and check delay on Battle Harbor and attempt to find Montauk to check true frequency.
Transmitter schedules are from 3 to 7 am and pm.
7 March 1943
Sunday and no work. A blizzard began last night at about ten and continued till late this afternoon. Then the snow stopped but the wind continued. This stopped at about six pm. The weather now is beautifully clear and cold.
The snow is now piled roof high between the sleeping quarters and the "rec" room with just a path out thru. Ramp passage was cleared between officers' quarters and ours.
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Quite a few ducks have been seen here in the last few days. Had an idea of going hunting today but the weather was too bad.
Everyone spent a very quiet day.
8 March 1943
Turned exceptionally cold last night, at least for this country. Temperature down to 30.
Blizzard renewed this morning and still going strong at 8 pm. Thirty-six now that it has snowed at Liba. If it wasn't for winds and thaws the snow would be all of 20 feet high. As it is, it runs an average of 3 feet.
First day of 24-hour watches but only difference for me was to go over earlier and stay later. Robby has mid to 6am. Mel the 6 to noon. I have Noon to 6pm and J.B. the 6 to mid.
Haven't been away from the base since I got back. It is going to be a bit difficult to assume normal social functions on returning to the states. Haven't seen a white women since early in November. At "One" there are a few thousand men, the we only contact a very few and the social life is limited to movies, fights, hockey and wrestling and basketball. All they are not too often. Here with eighteen men, there is ping-pong, radio, phonograph, pinochle and work. But surprisingly the men get along exceptionally well.
Wonder how it will feel to get back to noise, motion, people, lights buildings, dressing up, movies, dances, drinks and all that goes with civilization? Even the 'skimos' stay away from here in bad weather and at best they are not much to see or talk to, as that is hard even with signs.
Haven't done a bit of trading yet. Perhaps we'll get a chance later. The law is very strict about skins. No can do any kind or any time. Also strict on hunting. Not fox, seal or eider duck. I mentioned there being a "policeman" living at the village. Seems he is a Danish sailor who was caught in Greenland on the invasion of Denmark and hasn't been able to get home, what his actual duties are is pretty obvious as the Greenland government permits not trading, visiting or contacts between natives and Americans. All trading must be done with regular traders. Fear of disease is used as the reason.
Have learned about 10 words thus far. But as we have very little contact with the 'Eskimos' I guess I won't learn many more. Have learned a few of the customs. One in particular is the burial custom, where, when, one dies, he is buried under a conical mound of stones. The kayak of a man who dies is placed alongside his grave. The native houses smell pretty rank due to the custom of a whole family using one tub for urine, which is used for the tanning of skins. Births are cared for by the village midwife.
For firewood, the natives use the juniper shrub. They have to dig it out of the snow, and to us it looks pretty skimpy. But I don't believe there is a bit of wood over three feet high in all of Greenland. Haven't seen a tree and haven't met anyone who has seen one. At one there is some gnarled white birch but not much over three feet tall.
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9 March 1943
Just a few flurries of snow today. The wind even seems to be dying out. This morning we had another gale and blizzard but that died out and the only wind after that was in very strong gusts, which only lasted for short periods. Other wise the weather was fine.
No work today, outside. With no new advancements.
Weather has been cold all day and now the doors are freezing temperature at 6 pm and 8.
10 March 1943
The first day in 38 days that there was no snow. Been wonderful outside. No clouds and a light 30-mile wind, which died at noon. And briskly could all day. Wish the weather would keep this way, but that's asking too much.
The cold has a queer effect. To walk across the snow when it is close to zero sounds like walking on a hardwood floor with squeaking shoes only twice as loud and all the door hinges freeze stiff. The downhaul ropes on the antenna masts freeze to the pulleys in a few seconds.
Made the last outside test today and found just a few adjustments to be made such as shortening and antenna.
Figure on going on the air at three-tomorrow afternoon. Then we can go to straightening up and making the things we need.
Took a walk this aft down the water front to look at the bergs. There are some mighty big ones in the fjord now.
11 march 1943
The first clear day was spoiled by snow last night at ten. Continues all night and on into today. No wind about 3 when a light 20 mile breeze came up.
Been pretty busy all day what with the loss of counters on the "T" equipment, found a condenser open. This pm final tests on the "P" transmitter and equipment started at 4 after "Com" schedule. Actually on the air tonight.
Had the gang "s" up about the juice when things started and had them all quite scared. Bullial was there while things were going and seemed surprised when nothing unusual happened. Couldn't see the signal or anything moving or blowing up. But he's only a wood butcher.
12 March 1943
A beauty of a day with only a wind marring it. Not a cloud in sight. Perhaps our 40 days and 40 nights are over.
Getting colder now. If it ain't one thing it's another. But the cold isn't as bad as the wind.
Mr. Clark hot word from Mr. Cowie that our records were not straight, we were not being paid for Foreign Service. Also asked about disposition of our checks. Mr. Cowie promised to take care of things.
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Yesterday "L" synch'd' in with our signal but today they seemed to pay not attention to us. Joe made numerous matching adjustments. But output is still not perfect.
13 March 1943
Everything normal. Weather fine and cold.
14 March 1943
Sunday, and another beauty. Had the pm watch so I couldn't leave Lux, Robby and Joe went to the top of the mountain, the razorback in back of the place. It's about 4000 feet high and the top is fat for a couple of miles and there is a fine lake up there. The snow was frozen to a sheet of ice. So sliding down was easier then walking. They were 2 hours going and 45 minutes coming down.
The rest of the gang went tobogganing and there are a lot of sore legs, arms, hips, backs, and heads but they had a lot of fun. And there was an aftermath when some one short sheeted "Doc" and "Cook" took LeBlanc and Red out in the snow just before "Lights out".
15 March 1943
Five months today since we left Boston. Another beauty of a day. Temperature between 10 and 15. no wind. A "PBY" was over yesterday and again today. Not a cloud in the sky for days.
Busy today on odd jobs and continuing with Loran adjustments. "L" recognizes our early morning pulse but doesn't seem to see our day time pulse. Another timer lecture tonight and starting tomorrow the timers will be kept by us. Joe started work on the other pulse transmitter.
Had some trouble with the "GN" but found the transmission lines arcing over. Caused breaks in signals.
Daylight now from 6 to 6. "NOI" comes in all day now. Last week he came in at 3 pm and for about a month before. January he came in at 5am to noon and out till 4 pm and in from 4 to 10. Our signals equal to "NOI" and when we hear him, he hears us. Antenna is strung from corner of building 60 pole giving close 60 radiating surface and about 40 current distribution surface giving capacitive flat top effect. Putting out about 75% efficiency, about 85 out of 125 watts.
16 March 1943
Another beaut, with just a little wind. We can appreciate good weather after some of the weather we have had.
Got a slight headache from too much scope work. Trouble with "GN" today. Put another oscillator tube in and other then a shift in F everything is well again.
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The toboggan gang was out again this evening. Now there are "crips". This is the way it is don. There is no regular slide. Just the side of the mountain, rocks and all. Four to six men board the toboggan about 100 yards up the hill and start down. (Generally pushing snow like a plow). The driver (if he can keep his eyes open) hollers "right or left" according the way he wishes to lean, or steer to avoid the boulders. The thing gathers speed immediately and by the time they are half way down, one or two have been tossed in the air by the bumps, if the toboggan hasn't turned over it continues to within five yards of the beach wall, which has a drop of about 15 feet to the beach. (Not for me, I love life).
Ski-ing is done in the same manner but more gentlemen like.
17 March 1943
Another beautiful day. Not a cloud in sight anywhere. And beautiful moonlight tonight.
St. Patrick's Day and most of the boys had an Irishman's half holiday and went hiking and hunting. Billial got 2 ptarmigan back of the village. Some of the men went hiking over toward Prinz Christian Fjord. They say a blue fox and polar bear tracks. Nordham says the bear will be here very soon now. There was seal on the beach at the village today and the whole darn village missed him. They fired at it from eight feet and missed. It got away.
The toboggan was taken to the village for the boat battery today and the skimos went for a few rides. They had a bit time at it.
Joe matched the timer antenna and increased the signal input 100%. Starting on a coupling unit day after tomorrow, tho L sync's with us on the early morning sked.
18 March 1943
For the first time in a week the sun hasn't shone all day. But just as usual for this country, not just a few clouds. But at noon, after a beautiful morning, the sky became overcast. Looks like snow, though there is no wind yet. Hope we don't get nay wind.
Everything normal at the base.
19 March 1943
A muggy, warm, overcast day. Snowed a little last night. No wind.
Didn't go on the air with Loran today as Joe is remaking the coupleing unit. But "Com" schedules held as usual.
No news or new info.
20 March 1943
Another overcast, warm day. Very little wind.
Loran back on the air with very little change. But we are not sure of our results at L is very irregular with his pulse and delay setting.
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The ice is packing again in the fjord. Tho it is still a week or two before we are iced in according to the natives.
22 March 1943
What a day. Absolutely beautiful. A few clouds, no wind and just warm enough for the snow to melt slowly.
And the sunset was sight seldom to be seen anywhere. There is quite a collection of bergs and flow and drift ice. The reflection of the sun on the ice and the mountains in the perfectly still smoother water sets color combination which could give lesions to a rainbow.
Worked to 11:30 pm in the radio room. All day on an out of order scope. Repaired it and started on Harvey-Wells, as bum a piece of equipment as was ever turned out. Timer check was OK or seemed so until check was made with Harvey-Wells. Our signal drifted in one direction without being able to stop it. Checked counters again and found pulse jumping.
Took over morning watch so the gang could go hiking and fishing. A fine, hot, sunny day. The ice is melting slowly so that there is no mud. The temperature goes to about 40 during the day and drops below freezing at night. And the weather is wonderful, tho now clouds are forming, "clouding up to rain". Hope not as that would cause the snow to melt too fast and make a muddy mess of this place.
The boys went hiking, fishing and hunting. Some went up to the plateau, about a 3 hour hike up. The cook and Billial went back of the village to hunt and brought back four ptarmigan. Doc and Mel went fishing. A big time was had by all.
Had another session tonight to get straight on logs. Everything going very smoothly and getting settled.
23 March 1943
A rainy day and warm. Snow is really going fast and the ice pack is moving in much closer and it looks like a solid wall of ice. Won't be long now until we will be isolated from the rest of the world and unapproachable for long while. Ice to hem us in at sea and impassable mounds of rock on land.
Atmospherics were interesting today. Between 12 and 1 today an electrical storm, probably rain static blocked the receivers. Made it impossible to receive anything. Suddenly it died and there was not noise at all. The third time, now that this had happened. Be interesting to note the effects on Loran. Loran modulates our GN signal badly.
Whipple has turned over the timer operations and is now only interested in test logs. Upkeep and manipulations are in my hands. In another few weeks I guess Joe will release the pulsers. By that time we should be fairly well indoctrinated.
Both the M.I.T boys are stuck here now until the ice clears and it is breaking their hearts. They were supposed to have been finished in December, but they're still here and will be for a while.
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Food is running to a likeness not. Hot or dry cereal in the morning with Danish coffee. Our coffee ran out two weeks ago. Corned beef for dinner and weenies or fried baloney for supper. And no relief in sight. Cook bakes bread, rolls, cake and pie regularly. Everything but these last is canned. I guess I will appreciate a good meal when we get home.
25 March 1943
Another fine day and the snow is leaving fast. Walked on bare ground here for the first time since January.
The generator room was flooded with over a foot of water and went down today.
Saw smoke on the horizon this evening which looked like a ship afire, far out the ice fields.
Had a stiff breeze last night which forced the ice out a little but it is still there and getting closer.
Holding a regular two period schedule on Loran each day. Three to seven morning and evening. Not much luck so far, as "L" does not seem to see us during the day and at night, he seems to have trouble synchronizing with us.
The radio room is coming right along. Work is clearing and odd fixtures are being made to make things easier and neater.
27 March 1943
Raining all day, started with snow and a freeze. Just slippery ice to walk on.
A raft made o beams and empty drums was tried out today. Made to use an outboard motor. If it is successful it will be used for runs around the islands.
28 March 1943
The good was too good to last. There is over a foot of snow on the ground and a stiff breeze is blowing. Sunday too. All hands stayed at home.
29 March 1943
What a day. Blowing like hell all day and still blowing as bad. A good reminder of the true weather of Greenland. Just to show that a few good days don't mean much here. Even our doors are frozen again.
But we had our first day light success, today. : was "synching" with us almost from the first.
30 March 1943
A fine day if it wasn't for the cold and wht wind, which was a bit strong.
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Holding transmitter discussions at night. Tonight was the second.
No luck with Loran today.
1 April 1943
Yesterday was fine day and an Army bomber flew over and dropped five bags of mail. No letter for me other than a Christmas card mailed 15 December.
It was quite a sight to the eyes of this bunch who have seen nothing new in months. A very good pilot, he flew over once, just clearing the poles. He came over three other times and dropped the mail, never clearing the ground by more than a hundred or so feet.
That called for a bit of a celebration and refreshments were served to all hands.
Snowed all day today, without wind.
The beverage antenna is a completed success. One and half wavelengths long and pointed right at "L". signals are about 100% greater with a very slight decrease in noise lever. Going to change our "Com" antenna, using the vertical of the Timers with slight additions.
Whipple has permission and transportation to "One" where he will leave for home. Leaving, possibly, on Saturday. Joe says he can't make it.
2 April 1943
A warm windy day.
3 April 1943
Been overcast, windy and cold all day. Wind is about 75 and getting stronger by the minute.
As a general rule when the wind does not blow, regardless of the temperature, it feels so warm that we can go about in our shirtsleeves. Yesterday was an exception. Weather, that in the states would call for lots of clothes, is without any wind actually summery here.
Parkas, high top boots and glasses are still the outdoor dress. For a few days, two weeks ago, no coats were needed. But the weather went back to normal. And all this wind has driven the ice out to sea, tho there are a good number of begs grounded in the fjord.
Noticed, the other evening, low lying clouds no more than 50 feet above the water both in our fjord and in Prinz Christiensond fjord. I have never before seen clouds lying so low.
The last trading schooner until late in June was due in today but the wind kept them out. It will be here when the wind stops, which may be tomorrow (Sunday) or perhaps Tuesday or later.
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The skimos were out fishing two days ago. The first time this year. They say the fish come with the ice and later, the salmon come when the ice goes.
Sanders went hunting this pm and brought in one patarmigan.
Wind and snow static have been in excess these last few days. But the Beverage has held it down. With the old vertical, reception would have been impossible. Static here does not come in crashes as it does in the tropics. But in a continuous roar, which shows on the scope as a block.
Blew like hell all Saturday night and all yesterday morning, then calmed down tho stayed cold. Wind must have been up to about 150. today was another wind and wet snow and now rain.
7 April 1943
Second day of thaw. This one is more effective then the last one. Very little sun but lots of rain and wet snow. But good working weather.
Trading schooner in today, at least, taking Whipple to Nanortalet, first leg of his journey home. Took the mail with him, the first to leave here since I left in January, 2 1/2 months. Nanortalek to Juliannahab, then to Narssarasuak (Base One) and home. "Whip" carried our hopes with him.
"L" has been advancing but seems to be having a lot of equipment trouble. But he "syncs" once in a while.
This is the third day that we have been out of coffee. Not even Danish coffee. Matches are on ration, 2 boxes a week. Breakfast cereal is all of one king and all other foods of sameness unless someone brings in fish. Expect it to be this way until June or when a boat gets in (if sooner).
GN keying circuit went out during 4 pm schedule, left Lux working on it.
Had visitors tonight. Mr. Nordham , the cop, Mr. Hanse, the Chief trader (bistra) and Mr. Kemnitz the minister and school principle of South Greenland.
8 April 1943
A funny day. Fine tho. Left for work this morning without a coat as it was exceptionally warm. About 35 with no wind.
It's beautiful tonight with a clear sky and the moon in its first quarter with little wind.
Walked around this morning and saw the wreckage from the storm. All sorts of lumber smashed and splintered. Very few whole pieces and the wreckage is spread from the radio room to the water's edge. This shaw is showing it up.
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Renewed the transmission line from the timer to the beverage and also installed a twisted pair #6 wire as transmission line for the GN. An all day job. Didn't operate Loran today as antenna was out. Put it in my 8 pm so am schedule will be OK.
9 April 1943
A fine day just cold enough so that nothing froze or melted and it was still warm enough for shirt sleeves.
Contact with "One" twice-early and late. Got some dope which leads to suppositions that we may "slave" for "L" and "V". "L" held "sync" on proper delay all during schedule. First time he actually did, without assistance.
Trying our new antenna tomorrow. Beverage matching unit installed and signal to noise ratio is 50 to 1 with sigs at saturation.
11 April 1943
Sunday and for once things didn't go wrong. Day started warm and cloudy but sun came out later.
Gang went on usual Sunday trips. I had my watch so couldn't go off.
"L" tended to business and was on the ball from the start. The new vertical "com" antenna hasn't turned out so good so has to be tuned with a matching unit.
The skimos were out today collecting the scrap wood. They are going to clean up all the wreckage.
Got word that Whipple reached Julianahaab yesterday.
Ice is really forming now, if a wind doesn't come up to blow it out again. Bergs galore off the beach. The word is that good weather starts when the ice is in. Snowed a little last night and a light northwest wind is blowing now. Going to be another beautiful night, with a half moon.
14 April 1943
The last few days have been fine, but cold and windy. Wind has blown the ice out again. Been blowing since late Sunday night.
Nothing new happening except the tearing up of the platform and building of a storeroom.
We start keeping sync for L on the morning sked, to continue for two weeks. The lab requested Joe send them to specifications on his antenna and receiver installations and variation. These are to be duplicated at L. The S/N is increased to now about 50/1 where before we had 3/1. Joe has done a fine job.
According to Hansen, the trader, the winds started here just twenty years ago and have been getting worse each year. The bad one we had is said to have been the worst storm yet seen. Also the village here will have to migrate to a safer place in a few years, as their houses are getting weaker. They are very strongly built, as we found during the time we lived in the church and school but even then they shook pretty badly.
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All work is about finished in the radio room and men are only required to stand for watches. Walls are now boarded up and painted and the new vertical is showing good results.
15 April 1943
Six months today since leaving Boston. Half a year gone.
Had a touch of all the seasons today. This morning at four, the sun was bright, the sky was clear and it was warm and snow was melting. At eight the sky was overcast, windy, cold and frozen again. Snow at ten changed to rain at two and sunny and warm at five. Overcast and windy at seven. Hail at eight. Did we miss some kind.
A big day for the village. The first bear meat of the year. A bear (polar bear) was sighted swimming near the village. One 'skimo set out in his kyak but the bear chased him ashore. All the village turned out for the chase. More than a thousand pounds of meat. Enough for everyone.
First day of sync. L hopping all over the place. Seems to be having timer trouble.
17 April 1943
Weather looks as tho it might break soon. But perhaps I'm talking too soon. Been fairly nice all day. Not cold, not warm but it is turning cold with the going down of the sun.
Daylight comes now at 3:30 am and the sun sets about 9 pm. April 21 is supposed to start the twilight season, when the sun doesn't set.
Joe is finished. At last. And is going to try and leave by next Sunday. He admitted today, he has done his best and can't do more. Everything is going according to Hoyle. L has corrected his drift and set his crystal. I guess he had received the specifications for the installation of Beverage and matching units and work is going along (I Hope). Ought to be ready to take over sync by next weekend.
Recommendation for warrant went in yesterday but I don't expect to hear from it for three months or more. Means an increase of at least thirty dollars.
18 April 1943
Palm Sunday. A nice sunny day but still cold and windy.
No one made any sortees. Too chilly.
20 April 1943
Pay day again. Seem closer together now tho they are just calendar days to us. Getting accustomed to see them pass.
Last few days were fine tho cold and just a little windy. Now the wind is picking up again.
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22 April 1943
An all around day today. Every kind of weather. But with it all most of the snow has gone, tho what is left is all slick hard ice. Some of it two feet thick.
Yesterday was accident day. The cook stove blew up and there was a fire in the galley. Then the hot water heater got on fire. And Mac almost cut off the end of his finger. In the galley fire to cook got excited and climbed up on the water tank with a fire extinguished and dripped the darn thing in the tank. That gained him two points over LeBlanc. He is now F.U. #1.
Nordam brought some fresh apples out yesterday. The first fresh fruit was have had in over two months. Really tasted good. And Hansen want us an Easter Lily he got from Boston.
The radio gang still gets in about three nights of pinochle each week. Been doing it since we arrived here.
Food is getting lower. Mr. Clark expects to put the boat in the water soon. And as soon as possible he is going to One to get some supplies. We need them as no boat has been here since February 26 almost two months.
Joe made arrangements to leave next Wednesday.
23 April 1943
Pretty nice today only snowed twice. Wind still blowing but turning warmer.
Saw an article in Colliers about a place in Iceland which is supposed to be the most isolated station manned by U.S. services. There are just a few women, but not enough to go around. All there is to eat is beef and pork. Fifty miles to the nearest town over band roads and supplies only come once a week. Tee-hee and the wind once blew 125 miles an hours. Just imagine. They never saw Liba.
But we get along fine for a small crew. Most of the boys are in bed by eight and up at seven. And we manage to keep busy all day. Broke out the balls and gloves and soon as the weather clears there'll be other sports. Days are getting longer and will give more time for sports.
25 April 1943
Easter Sunday. A fine day too.
The weather must be nice at one as planes go back and forth every morning. There were plenty of then over this morning.
Robby found a pool today. Up on top of the rock on the point. Lux took his ice skates over and had a good time skating. The pool is all of six feet deep by fifty or more feet long by thirty-five wide. This ice is all of a foot thick there. I must have walked over it when the snow was on it. But who would suspect a fresh pool in a spot like that. It's right on the waterfront but on top of a rock about 70 or so feet above the water. Must be kept full by rain. Will make a fine swimming pool during the summer. As it is fairly well protected from the winds. Put brooms stick down the edges and struck a sand bottom.
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Last night I stood out in the night and watched the display of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights.) It was the second time since coming to Greenland that I have seen a display of colors.
It was entrancing to watch a shaft of white suddenly shoot out from nowhere, spread over the heavens in ever changing patterns and color combinations until, the colors fading the heavens are bright. These sudden shafts come from innumerable points. Some expanding, others fading almost instantly. Some, in expanding, is joining others adding to the elaborate display. Seemed as the Lord was putting a special show for little me, to compensate for being at Liba during Easter.
The display lasted about twenty minutes and then settled to the everyday white or blue lights, which can be seen on almost any clear night.
It was something I would like to see often. I'd never tire of such beauty. It made up partly for not being with my family for this holiday.
Last Easter, I was in New York and took Nellie and Louise to their first Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue.
Two years ago I was on the SS Coamo, one day out of New York. The end of a four day trip (first class) from San Juan.
26 April 1943
Weather is breaking at last. Been a fine warm day. Cloudy but not wind.
A gang went to the village today and reported lots of new faces there. Women, men and kids. Next week starts the big seal hunt. That is the reason for all the new faces. All the natives from the nearby villages are collecting here for the hunt.
They are supposed to go from Frederiksdal to the big island, probably Narsuak group. Don't know how long it is supposed to last. Bear and seal are what they are after.
27 April 1943
Raining - and how
28 April 1943
Rained buckets full all day and night yesterday but no rain today. Been overcast and windy and wet all day, tho warm.
The ice is back again. This time a real pack. And perhaps the wind won't get it this time. Seems as tho all the season chantes are a full month late.
Nordham is in Nonortalik and can't get back because of the ice. So Joe couldn't leave if he wanted to. But he got word today to remain here until "L" finishes some tests. The day schedule has changed. On at 12:30 to 7. "L" still on 3 to 7.
29 April 1943
Spoke too soon. All last night and all day we had a real old winter
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storm. Snow and blow. But there is very little snow to show, as the wind was mighty strong. Reached a hundred or more during the night.
Stopped late this pm and now we have the sun and thaw again.
Nordham got back today as the wind broke the ice up some.
1 May 1943
Wind is still blowing. A times the guest reach a force of 70 or more. A new month and still no definite change of weather tho the sun is warm and we have some thaw but only around noon. Rest of the time freeze.
Was told today that Coast Guard takes over Loran on 15 May. Also, schedules are being arranged between L. V. & R. for communications. Won't be feasible as frequency coverage is unpredictable from day to day in this area. Can still cover our "NOI" schedules.
3 May 1943
Wind blew all yesterday with snow yesterday morning and rain all afternoon and night. Then more snow, in fact it is still snowing. (And I changed to summer underwear), perhaps I still hope there will be summer sometimes.
A plane passed over a little after six-yesterday morning and must have crashed in the snow storm, as we received an "OP" on it having been forced down new Frederiksdal. Kept a bonfire going all night and kept a radio watch on army bands for 24 hours. But the weather was so thick that visibility was about 0.
Had a freak on Loran today. Due to the wet snow, couldn't bring it up to frequency. But it finally came up after about 3 hours.
4 May 1943
Well, we can start over again. After the thaw clearing the ice and snow almost completely we had a good storm with the wind between 70 and 90 and everything covered again. In fact, it's still snowing, tho the wind has stopped.
This morning, we had to dig out again as there was a 6 foot band at the door.
Three planes over this morning looking for survivors.
6 May 1943
The plane was found not 5 miles from here yesterday. As far as we are concerned it may just as well have been 50 or 500. We still couldn't reach them. A C.G. boat is near the wreck. An skimo "adol" told us about it.
Been very nice today for once. But a wind is picking up now. Don't know what it will lead to. So damned tired of wind and snow. And waiting patiently for the weather to change.
Not going anywhere, so have to wait.
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9 May 1943
This damned wind again. After two real nice days. Started blowing last night and it's still blowing. Officially, 75 mph was reported, but must have reached 100 and more during the night.
Our main antenna came down last night in the storm. Had just had a new 1 1/4 inch line put in yesterday morning and it snapped last night.
Using the system with the line down as can't do any climbing yet to renew. But "L" can still get us even with it down.
Schedules have been set up for communicating with "L" who has schedules with Boston radio. Working out real well too. Much better than "NOI". Working FV with NJN, while NOP is on FD and FN. Contacted NJN yesterday and each schedule since with reports of S3 to S5.
12 May 1943
Snow all yesterday morning again. Today was beautiful. The finest day we've had at Liba. And the ice is coming in again. How long will it last? Expect a good wind will come up and - as usual.
Planes passed heading both ways and one circled over us.
News of the plane. The plane landed safely and all hands were rescued. Went aboard the RARITAN to One. But I understand that the RARITAN has been basing at Ivigtut for the last month as the ice has kept the fjord at One blocked. No boats have gotten in or out for a long while.
The gang is working on the board, getting it ready to launch. About a three week job.
A lot of bald heads here now. Mostly due to lack of excitement. Started with one man daring another to cut his hair. Then everyone mixed up in it had his hair cut. Just a little fun for a change.
Daylight hours now are from about 2 am to about 9:30 pm and getting longer.
Days are warm about 40 to 50 and night temperatures are still freezing.
"L" must have his Beverage up and tuned as he takes over the holds sync at the start of each schedule. Nights are not so successful for some undisclosed reason. Possible misunderstanding of sky and ground components. May be due to static, which is extremely bad at night.
17 May 1943
Snow, snow, snow all day Saturday, Saturday night and off and on yesterday and cold winds again. Wonder when the weather will begin to clear. Perhaps we will still be here when it does turn nice.
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Food propositions really getting disastrous. Coffee has been out for months, got enough cocoa for week, potatoes (dehydrated) are running out, powdered milk is getting low. Vienna sausage, bologna, ground pork sausage is our regular diet. Sunday - ham. Coca for breakfast and dinner, tea for supper. Been like this for some time now. Think rationing would be easier on us. Fresh meat has been out since the second week in March. Last vessel to come in here was COMANCHE on 26 February. Last mail, dropped by plane 31 March. Great life, isn't it?
Last night at 11 o'clock the sky to the north showed almost broad daylight. South showed light. Won't be long before we'll have 24 hours daylight.
Been hearing a song on the radio lately which strikes home, "Wait for me Nellie".
18 May 1943
Good day, tho cold and windy
Looking back, I found the last mail I received was some Xmas cards on February 9th. The last letter was on February 4th. These were dated before December 15.
20 May 1943
Another payday on the books. Quite a few now. Thirteen, in fact.
Went for long walk along the beach to Prinz Christensond Fjord. Still plenty of snow over that way.
Adolf says no more bad winds or weather. I wonder if he knows. We can just wait and see.
Boys went fishing again yesterday and brought a couple of trout in. But they were caught skimo fashion. Lines, baited hooks and flies are no use. The fish don't bite. The only way to catch trout here is to put a large cod hook on the end of a pole and gaff the trout as they swim by. Generally the kids throw rocks into the water, scaring the fish towards the shallows where they can be hooked.
Went to bed after one this morning just out of curiosity, to see whether darkness would come. But it was light all night. In fact the sky was brighter at one than at midnight.
21 May 1943
A little rain today. And the wind started playing tricks tonight. About every ten to twenty minutes would come a gust sometimes a high as 85 mph. Everything not securely tied down went.
Boss, Nordham, Joe and Boats left last night for a hunting trip to a little place called Igdlorsuk (place of bad houses) and came back at noon today.
23 May 1943
Up at 4 this morning for a watch. Light and cloudy. Off at 8 and planned to go fishing but it was still cloudy and as I was sleepy I turned in till dinner.
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After dinner, sky clear, Corky and I started out with poles with hooks on the the ends. Went down to the stream at the village and went along it to the first lake, about 2 miles. Still a lot of ice and snow along there. Didn't catch any fish tho we saw a few small ones. Went up the near side and came down on the far side. Water was fast with a lot of rapids due to melting ice. Ice was just breaking up on the first lake.
Coming back down we met Boats who had been gone since early morning. Then came across some skimo kids who offered to show us where the fish were. But to follow them over the rocks in the fast running stream was impossible. They were like goats. Robby, who had joined us tried and got soaked for his troubles.
The natives have a strong bridge built across the stream at one place. And instead of using it both Corky and I traveling down stream looking for fish tried fording at another spot where we couldn't jump far enough. Both of us got soaked. Cold--- woo.
Had a good hike and took all the stiffness out of me. Got a lot of sore joints and muscles from kicking and chasing a football the other day but go rid of the soreness, climbing.
On watch again at 8 and off at mid with the sky almost bright as day.
25 May 1943
The ice is in again and really thick this time. No frost the last 3 days and no wind in 4 days so it looks as tho it must be time for good weather. Always a light breeze.
Incoming signal has dropped suddenly about 10 times. Can't place the cause yet.
Overcast today for change tho still warm (about 50) for this country.
27 May 1943
Beautiful weather. Ice still thick. First fog last night. Lasted all morning and started again about 3 pm
29 May 1943
Fog and ice still thick. Three days and nights of fog now. But the weather is still fine.
Got word to send in list of food supplies needed as a boat is being sent here. Have no hopes of seeing a boat for another three weeks, with the ice and fog as thick as it is.
30 May 1943
Sunday again. Another week is gone. Beautiful day and no fog for change.
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Would have gone fishing but have the noon watch. Would be a fine day for a nice long hike.
The salmon run is just about to begin at the stream in the village. Guess I'll go tomorrow and make a try.
Went last Sunday and got a good hike out of it. Snow and ice was still bad along the stream.
Skimos found a block of ice yesterday with seven frozen sheep in it. They are busy now chopping them out and distributing the meat. Just another sign of the past tough winter.
Most of the village is out at the island hunt. "Poossee and nanuk". Seal and bear. That is what they are after. They are due back in July.
31 May 1943
Fog last night and this morning. And then the sun dispersed the fog and the day was beautiful.
I started out about 10 with fishing pole and headed for the village. Stopped off for a little where the gang is working on the boat. Then headed up the stream. I had heard quite a bit about the third lake. Already saw the first lake and know where the second one was but I was curious about the third one.
Went along the stream looking for fish and looking the country over. The salmon run doesn't start till July or August but there are hundred of fish from 3 to 6 inches long. Should be good size in a few months.
The wildest country I've seen. The stream is mostly rapids with just a few quiet spots but no boat or canoe make it and portage is impossible as there are enormous boulders all along the way and it is all plain mountain climbing.
The first lake is round, about 100 years across and it is set in a small valley with high mountains on both sides. A stream from the second feed it. By the way, all the streams are still iced over. From the first lake to the second is a pretty easy path as it seems to be almost a flat plateau.
The second lake is set in a beautiful wild valley with high mountains on three sides. The peaks above the far end like sharp needles or church spires reaching five or six thousand feet into the clear sky. Rocks some as big as houses, covered the mountain side.
Reaching the second lake, I could see no stream bed to the third lake but half way up the left side was waterfall, about 55 feet high. Being sure this was fed by the so called third lake and being curious to see it, I climbed. Snow, ice and rocks, and almost straight as the side of a house about 600 or 700 feet up to the level from which the water was coming. Came on a shallow bowl in the mountain top all ice and snow. And a very small lake at the far end. The second lake is about half the size of the first. And this one was very small, not 50 feet wide.
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But now I hear that it wasn't the third lake but an unknown fourth lake. They way to the lake I wanted to see was thru the mountain pass at the head of the second lake. That pass was covered with snow and didn't look accessible.
The view to see from the mountain was gorgeous. Was all of two thousand feed above see level.
Got back at 5 just in time for supper, tired and hungry as I had no dinner. Nothing but my pipe and tobacco and mountain water to drink.
Got my feet wet as usually, this time walking in the lake. Had to empty the water from my boots, take off my socks and carry them and wring out the felt pads.
So done in that I made it back in relays. Walk a while and rest a while. I don't think I'll try going up there again. Too tough a grind. But I still haven't seen that third lake.
3 June 1943
Weather still the same. Not much doing.
4 June 1943
Clear weather. Small boat was launched today.
7 June 1943
Starting out another fine day.
Got back late last night (Sunday) from a camping trip and visit to Nonortalik, 20 miles from here.
Saturday pm the C.O. called me and asked if I wanted to go hunting and camping in the powerboat.
Got our sleeping bags, camping mess kits, food, lines, guns and coats. Put them all in Nordam's pulling boat, using our outboard and dodging between the big bergs, went down back of the village where the power boat was tied.
This is a navy fuel boat, 36' long which was originally an open boat with a stern tiller. A cabin has been built on it and the rudder stem connected with a running line to a steering wheel midships port side. A windshield is set up on each side. Very comfortable with place with place for two men to sleep in the cabin.
Fueled up, picked up Nordam and at 5 o'clock got underway. Trip being made with Mr. Clark, "Joe" Waldschmitt, Nordam, myself, "Boats" Chevrier, "Bolts" LeBlanc, Billiel, "Shorty" Fielding (with all his teeth) and "Mac" McKinnon.
Fired at a few ducks on the way but no luck. About two hours running time to Igdlogesek (Ishloogosik) which means "Dirt Houses". The village hasn't
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more than a dozen people. The only 2 wooden houses (and they are crumbling) are the church and the storehouse. The people live in sod huts, about 5 feet square and about four feet high. They are built of banked sod blocks (grass and turf) and a family lives in each one. There are a half dozen or so of these. We just passes there to look, then headed for the fjord where the Greenlanders go each summer for their fishing.
Found the place at last but just as we got there spotted a goose. He was winged first shot but he gave us a hell of a run for our money. It took a box or more of shells to stop him. Even then with two holding the wings and Nordam pulling the neck he wouldn't die. So his head came off and LeBlanc with his dainty stomach got the dry heaves. But the goose was bagged.
We had ten extra passengers on the "Wild goose chase". As we came to the fishing grounds we met a boat load of women from Frederiksdal out fishing. Took then in tow and put the women and girls aboard for a ride back, so they with plenty of laughs and giggles were in on the chase.
At the fishing grounds we met the school principle of this district who is also the Bishop. A pleasant looking elderly, gray haired Dane who knows no English. He was there with his family and one of the family of Hansen, the by sterer (bistro) of the District, on his auxiliary schooner.
Tied the boat alongside his schooner for the night and went ashore with our gear. Was then about 9:30 and sum and bright as noon. Made a fire, made tea, heated our beans and sausage and "et".
Smelt was running wild about half and hour after we arrived, on the turn of the tide. The natives come each year in the early summer for the smelt, which they dry in the sun and bag and store for winter. Natives from all over the district come there with their small hand nets. When they have sufficient for a load they row them over to Igdlogesik and after the season carry them home. Some use the nets for smelt and others have poles with hooks, which they use to hook the haddock, chasing the smelt. These haddock weight up to 80 lbs. The haddock chase the smelt to the shore where the people are waiting with their nets.
The parson had a seine one end of which was held on the beach while the other end was towed by a rowboat, and brought in a half circle to another point along the shore from where it was pulled in each catch weighing, I judge about 300lbs.
He sells these to help his expenses.
The Greenlanders go wild on these smelt runs, yelling, laughing, running in and out of the water, a regular picnic. Our gang was just as bad. Joe had our net, and wearing hip boots (LeBlanc's) would stand watching in wonder and saying "Just look at them" until someone would shout to remind him he was supposed to be catching not just looking. At which he would wake up and sweep with the net. One small net full was more the enough to fill a bucket. We got a bag full for our own natives who were left at home and a bucket full for our gang.
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Mac jumped in over his boot tops and got soaked and so did Joe with his hip boots. Boats had a fire with a frying pan ready for the fish and he and Mac cooked them up to about midnight. When we all turned in sleeping out in the open in sleeping bags.
The spot is a naturally beautiful one. At the end of a fjord in a valley surrounded by mountain peaks. It didn't get dark. Sun wet down at about eleven and started up again at midnight.
Up at 7:30 for tea and smelt and underway at 8 with a kayakman on board with his kyak, also towing the same boat and carrying ten women and kids back to Igdlogesik, arriving thee shortly after 10. Then off for Nanortalik. Arrived about 12 and met by Mr. Hansen.
We were going to cook but these naturally curious native crowded around so thickly that we changed to tea and crackers. This over we started to "do the town". Nanortalik is about three times the size of our town village, with a rock and cement dock at the district warehouse. About 75 houses from sod to frame and full population of 2000 most of whom are now away sealing and fishing. A school, church, hospital, store and my warehouses for storage of seal oil, blubber and skins, which are shipped to Denmark normally. The oil is cooked up in vats and stored in tanks and hog heads.
Invited to Mr. Hansen house for coffee the first in over two months. After which we waited for full load to start back.
Underway at 4 for home, our kayak man still on board, having made his visit. Shooting game on the way. Our bag was 1 goose and 4 small ducks. Near Igdloquesik, winged another goose and after a three quarter house chase, lot him in the shallows.
Dropped the kayak man and again picked up the same gang and took them to Fredericksdal. Arrived and carrying the important things, headed for the base. Got home at 10.
Mr. Hansen had given Mr. Clark four pounds of coffee and 34 fresh laid eggs. Two apiece. The first since leaving the states and the first eggs in months. And cook made a pot of coffee immediately.
8 June 1943
Still no mail, boat or food. Fine weather lots of fog, ice, no wind.
Another set of lakes back of our place over towards Prinz Christensond fjord. Salmon, trout and speckledfrom 6 to 19 inches. Bite at almost anything that flies. Worms, cut bait, paper, white rag, anything. Robby and Mel brought in over twenty the other day. And they brought in about 15 more this evening. Fine eating too. At least we have plenty of fresh fish to make up for our food shortage.
9 June 1943
Heavy fog early this morning but cleared into another cloudless day.
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10 June 1943
A damp foggy day with a pretty stiff breeze blowing. All the ice has been blown to sea and the harbor and passages are cleared. Just right for a boat to make it here now.
Not a very good day for fishing as the fish don't bite much in the wind but I went anyway more for the hike and exercise.
Went to the lakes over near the fjord. A tougher grind than to the other lakes near the village. The first mile is lever but then it turns to an uphill climb over rocks. Up, over and down, three times, each higher than the last. And then the three lakes, all about 1000 feet across. The first two form a figure eight with a shallow, narrow passage joining them. The second lake is fed by a brook, winding around the rocks from the third lake about a quarter of a mile away. This last lake is fed from a vertical waterfall from the mountain on back.
The first lake has small passage down the cliff to the ocean and I understand the salmon make their run up this cliff when they come from their egg laying.
Found our fish trap, here and raided it for bait. Caught plenty of small fish, but cast them back. Returned at about seven with seven medium sized trout, 3 salmon, 3 mountains and 1 speckled trout. Not much of a catch for this country but it was a first try.
Guess I will go again next time I am off and "weather permitting".
The boat is ready for a trip now and Mr. Clark is planning on leaving here on Saturday or Sunday for a trip to "One" for mail and food. Again "weather permitting".
12 June 1943
A couple of warm foggy days and cloud banks right around us this afternoon. I have heard of clouds at some height, which people have walked thru but never right down to sea level. Not fog, but heavy cloudbanks lasted about an hour.
Power boat with Mr. Clark, Boats, Mac. LeBlanc and the cook departed at 5 pm for Nassarasuak, "Base One". A 115 mile trip. They should arrive there, if the ice isn't bad, at about the same time, tomorrow. Gone for mail food and coffee.
Leaves me as O in C with 11 other men.
13 June 1943
Sunday. Fine weather. Working all day on Loran. Blew pretty hard all last night with the wind reaching about 40, and died out this morning. Don't think if affected the boat as it may have been only local. The first wind in almost three weeks. Ice is well scattered.
15 June 1943
Two days of fog and drizzle.
Boat must have arrived O.K. as it is not back.
Loran trouble again but slowly getting straight.
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16 June 1943
Overcast with wind in gusts, tho widely separated.
18 June 1943
Cloudy all day. Warm with no wind.
Boat returned today at 10:30 from Bluie west One. Carried our first mail since March 31st. Eight bags. Got thirteen letters from home, one from Bob and two from Lou. Great day.
Lots of fresh food. Had steak for supper. Steak mind you. Four months since we had fresh meat and potatoes. Oranges and grapefruit and turkey. Wooh---
Gang at "One" has changed some. ESCANABA was lost in an explosion. Three men saved.
Oh yes, we have a dog now. Patsy, a Greeenland huskie pup was given to us by someone in "One". Mr. Malloy sent me a pound of tobacco. Have to thank him.
Got some Loran changes and bit of dope on Alaska. Five third class electrician's mates are at "One" awaiting transportation to this base for duty.
Ice is back in. Fills the harbor and reaches about 30 miles offshore.
20 June 1943
Sun shone for first time in a week. And the ice is in, packed solid. Reaches far out to sea.
A boat from SOPA is on its way down here. Laid over in Julianehaab all last night and left for the inside route and will try to get thru the ice. They may be able to make Nanortalik tho Mr. Nordam says they can get thru all they way. She has 5 men, supplies and (I hope) more mail.
The natives have all returned from their hunting trip will stocked with skins and meat. Guess it has been a big year for them.
Looking forward to relief soon. Moves are underway for it. Will be great to be back.
Tomorrow is the first day of summer tho it is still chilly. Light all day and night.
21 June 1943
NOGAK in today with fuel supplies and mail. Weather fine. Boat just made it thru the ice.
24 June 1943
Been nice weather tho ice is very thick. Turned overcast today.
Five E.M.'s reported from NOGAK for duty. Mr. Clark made trip to Nanortalik carrying Mr. Nordam who is leaving to get married. Back at midnight. Had a fair trip out but the trip back was tough. Understand the ice was so bad they came close to being crushed a few times.
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NOGAK, which hasn't been able to leave on account of the ice. Tried to get out this morning but was forced back. Ice as far as they eye can see, and farther. Solid now right to the bank and only a kayak might get thru.
Wind shifting. If it stays long enough it might drive ice out.
27 June 1943
Sunday. Fine all day. Nogak and ice still in.
29 June 1943
Wind blew enough yesterday to break the ice up. Nogak departed today.
1 July 1943
Rain all last nigh and today. Ice well broken up.
Got orders to shut down but orders were rescinded. No idea why.
Understand Labrador and Bona Vista men have already been relieved so possibly our relief's are on their way. At least I hope so.
This makes nine months since I last saw the family.
3 July 1943
The end of another week-per se. been a beauty of a day with a blue sky and a sharp wind. Natives predict a big wind tonight. (?)
Saw a sight, natural to Greenland. The slanting rays of the last sun, striking the ice, shot columns of color into the air. Gave the effect of numerous rainbows starting but being cut off just a short way up. A really beautiful sight.
Gang went for boat trip up to fjord back of the village and came back with stories of the beginnings of salmon run. Going out tomorrow properly equipped for good catch.
5 July 1943
Rain and wind. Ice packed again.
Men who came to assist in building are leaving as soon as the small boat is able to get through the "One".
7 July 1943
Still raining. Wind blowing pretty heavily. Looks are tho it might pick up into a real blow before morning. Ice is packed solid, still, tho it is breaking up slowly. Wind right now is really whipping up.
10 July 1943
Had a pretty high wind the other day. Blew all the ice out. Gang left for "One" today. Eight men gone.
Quiet here now. But boss will be back by Wednesday. Hope he brings work of relief.
11 July 1943
Boat returned at 2am. Unable to get thru the ice above Nanortalik. Don't know when they will leave now. Hansen is going to report ice conditions each day.
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12 July 1943
Joe authorized to return home when he can. Will leave with the rest.
16 July 1943
Rain today for a change. Ice is on its way back.
Mr. Clark got notice that his transfer is at "One". Going to Nantucket.
NOGAK is coming, perhaps in a day or so.
20 July 1943
NOGAK is in. Came in last night. They are escorting a three-masted Nova Scotia schooner "Terre Nova" loaded with soldiers, construction men and supplies which is heading for the other end of Kristensond Fjord, they couldn't get thru the ice so they stopped here and dropped our mail and supplies. As soon as they can they are going thru. On the return trip they are picking up our transients.
Got three letters from home.
21 July 1943
Wind has been trying to blow for three days now. Hasn't reached over 40 yet but looks like it may turn into a good blow before it ends.
NOGAK still in.
Doc has a nasty job last night. One kid, a 10-year-old girl in the village had her leg opened by a falling rock. Took 125 stitches to sew it up again.
26 July 1943
Kind of a yes and no day. Foggy this morning then some rain and more fog with sunshine to top it all off.
The Terre Nova is still here waiting to get thru the ice. Had the solders ashore for dinner and supper and a chance to stretch their legs, after being confined on board a small ship for two weeks.
They are the relief's for an Army weather station on the East Coast and they are staying for a year. If was a pleasure for all hands, we saw new faces and talked to strangers and they had a trip ashore.
28 July 1943
Mr. Clark piloted the Terre Nova out this morning. May return in ten days.
1 August 1943
Sunday. Another week and new month.
3 August 1943
Gang went fishing yesterday for salmon. No luck. Got a lot of small trout. Robby and Campbell got a beautiful catch of salmon Sunday.
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Now have a canvas kayak the boys build. Made with a sort of flat bottom. But it floats and handles well. Using it for cod fishing. Use a double end paddle.
In for another storm. Wind picked up suddenly at noon. Gusts about 35 or more now.
4 August 1943
Wind still blowing. Between 60 and 70 now.
Terra Nova returned today. Had ice troubles. They put men and equipment ashore at Kiristensond but the ice forced them back to Epeletok where they stayed for a few days. Couldn't get back to pick up the men or equipment for Skjoldungen as everything was blocked with ice. Laying here now waiting on fuel, food and an escort.
Some reliefs are at "One". May possible come down on ship bringing supplies. (?) means, "I have my fingers crossed."
Danish trading schooner came in the other night and left yesterday am for Epiletok. Came back soon tho. Ice again. Guess it is still here as no one has seen it leave. And in this wind there is no safe anchorage here except possibly for up th fjord.
Nordam is not coming back here. He got married in Jacobshvn and then was transferred up the east coast. Made the trip by dog sled over the cap, leaving his wife behind. We are stuck with the "Long Legs Groenning."
5 August 1943
Still blowing hard, tho slowly decreasing. Must have hit over 100 mph this morning as last night. No damage.
Ten contractor's men from Terre Nova here today for dinner and supper. Glad of the chance to stretch their legs. According to them the Terre Nova has to go to "One" for coal.
6 August 1943
Blow is over. Stopped during the night. Terre Nova left for Julianakaab.
7 August 1943
Beauty of a day.
PBY dropped mail this afternoon. Robinson, Tremblay, Steele, LeBlank, Michaud made chief. Note to Mr. Clark from Mr. Cross in plane said boat was leaving "One" tomorrow for Federiksdal.
8 August 1943
Sunday. Hansen on visit.
9 August 1943
No boat yet.
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Installed new receiving antenna at the barracks for use on H.R.O.'s.
10 August 1943
No ice other than scattered bergs since the wind. May be finished for year.
Dark at 9:00 pm and northern lights are beginning again.
11 August 1943
AMORAK in today with supplies, wx man, new skipper Mr. Cross. Mr. Clark left for One. Left almost immediately.
Got my package from home.
15 August 1943
Sunday. ARUNDEL in with fuel and radio supplies. Left early in morning. No mail or supplies.
Ice on horizon (?).
16 August 1943
Beaut of a day. Wind and cold.
18 August 1943
Put in quite a day "Gas-drumming". PBY dropped mail today. One from Nellie. B-25 snooping this afternoon.
20 August 1943
Pay day again (I think). Anyway I have it on the books.
Skipper took the boat for a trip yesterday to Cape Christian. Looked for the plane which came down in May. Saw a few black fish. Came back with a few cod.
Understand Lt. McDonald is due here for an inspection. May be at "One" now.
22 August 1943
Sunday. Fine day tho wind is starting to pick up a bit.
25 August 1943
Bit wind, but nice weather.
ARVEK in today. Mr. McDonald ashore. ARVEK had Quonset and other supplies for us. Going to be a job for an engineer in water transportation to get thins ashore. No mail this time except N.Y. News from Lou.
27 August 1943
Yesterday Lt. Comdr. Gibson and Lt. Ishmael ashore for check on construction. Looks like lots more work coming. Another Quonset to bury. Pipe line, toilets, showers, diesel generators. Civilization. Not used to it.
Unloaded Arvek yesterday. Quonset and supplies. Left at night with engineers. Mr. McDonald here yet. Arranged beach load today.
29 August 1943
Sunday. A really dreary one. Heavy fog all morning and over-cast all pm.
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31 August 1943
Fog all day, like pea sour. Dreary. End another month at Liba and waiting. No news of relief yet.
1 September 1943
New month but nothing else is new. Fortress and B25 passed over today flying high.
4 September 1943
Days are fine with the nights generally could and foggy. Regular display of northern lights each night but not yet in color.
Set three forms from the new diesels which are due tomorrow. Mr. Ishmael's gang is coming too. Eight men to assist in all the work. Setting the new pipe line, Quonset, plumbing and diesels. And possibly the tower.
Two boats due with new gear, and supplies tomorrow. And mail I hope.
7 September 1943
MANITOU with a barge and the NANOK came in loaded, on the 5th, Sunday. AMAROK still not in. Unloaded three new diesel generators, plumbing, building supplies, etc. Adams, Collins and 3 aerographers reported. Eight more with supplies on AMAROK.
8 September 1943
Italy out of the way.
AMAROK in today with supplies and seven men. Mail too, but none for me again. Don't know what can be wrong at home. NANOK gone.
9 September 1943
Unloading. Mostly drum, 300 of them before we are thru.
10 September 1943
It has started. Rain and wind started last night. Picked up and blew to about 50. Lasted till late this evening. Old times are here again.
Our motorboat was sunk in the storm last night. Tied up to the MANITOU. And the "cat" got rained out.
11 September 1943
Nice today. All O.K. got our boat to the beach where it will sit for the winter. Put a tarp over the cat last nite and a stove under the tarp and dried out the wires. Running now.
12 September 1943
Sunday (wouldn't know it tho).
13 September 1943
Finished unloading of AMAROK and MANITOU yesterday and boats left. Next job is getting everything to the base. Generators first.
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Then building of Quonset and laving of pipe line starts.
A story of the "Daisy Mae". The Daisy Mae is our dinky dingy. Made of scrap lumber, she is about 6 foot long and about 2 1/2 feet across her flat stern, and with a flat bottom. She is used to run to and from the power boat and shore. She carries two safely, if they are not too heavy, tho she gets cranky and pouts once in awhile. When she is pouty she will sink, giving a nice ice cold bath to whoever is riding. In other words she isn't worth the energy required to knock her apart with a hammer.
Well, Daisy Mae ran away the other day. But it didn't last. She was caught and brought back. And the hell of it is, brining her back cost $5.00 whether we wanted her or not.
It was this way. During the storm the other day, she broke away. Some skimo at Nanortalik, 20 miles away found her, calmly drifting toward the Artic Circle, and took her in. Yesterday a Danish boat came towing her back and soaked the O.M. five bucks for the job. And was he fit to be tied.
15 September 1943
Eleven months today since we left Boston.
Message came the night of the 13th with the appointment of Adams and myself to Radio Electrician.
Work is going along fine. Got one generator to the base. And getting the ditch for the pipe line dug. In facti worked on it yesterday.
Wind is a blowing.
20 September 1943
A little more than weather to talk of today. The ATAK came in yesterday, Sunday with more fuel, the new cold box, and sundry supplies. No mail.
One diesel was started today. Be ready for use in a few days, after breaking in. Real nice jobs.
Got orders to proceed to Nantucket upon arrival of relief. "But" they are as CRM, which may be cancelled. Robby is going also.
Weather has been pretty good the last few days. Not much wind, lots of rain on Thursday night.
21 September 1943
Rain and lots of it. Mud and lots of it.
ATAK left today taking Adams and Collins back to SOPA. Wiring a finished on the diesel panels. Base of Quonset is almost done.
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22 September 1943
Beautiful day with a brisk wind blowing. ATAK couldn't get out due to think fog and rain. Left this morning. Possibly get some new orders soon. But I am slowly preparing to leave.
25 September 1943
Rain yesterday and today, and lots of mud.
Put in our new board and changed over to diesel for power today. Did a record job in 2 1/2 hours. Running fine.
26 September 1943
Sunday and rain.
27 September 1943
More rain with a little windstorm thrown in for good measure.
28 September 1943
All previous rains here must have been just drizzles because today it rained. And the wind did its [sic] little to help.
29 September 1943
Our first snow came last night. Didn't last on the ground but the mountains are covered. Didn't expect to be here to see snow this year, but her I am still.
30 September 1943
Second fine day. Ground is frozen about 3" thru. Temp remaining below freezing.
Plane over and dropped mail. Got 3 from home and one from Ed Brichta.
Six seamen, coming here, were at Argentia on 7 September and 3 R.T.'s left Boston for Liba on 28 Sept. That means I will be leaving on their arrival.
The five operators made 2nd on 14 September and mine was effective 20 August. Will take my medical and oath in day or so.
2 October 1943
Mixed rain and snow for the last two days. Turned nice this pm with a cold stiff wind blowing.
3 October 1943
Sunday, and a fine day. Still cool. PBY over today and dropped mail for the "Aids".
1st October was one year since I was home and saw the wife and kid. Perhaps our reliefs were on that transport plane which flew over this morning. Hope so.
6 October 1943
Rain, rain, rain. Three days now, took oath this morning.
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7 October 1943
Snow last night and today. About an inch on the ground. Wet and slushy. Boat is supposed to be in here to take the "Aids" gang back to "One". Hope the relief's are on it. Just 8 days short of a year since we left.
9 October 1943
First good day in a week.
New washroom with piped water was opened. Shower should be ready on Tuesday.
12 October 1943
Been blowing for two days now. Wind reaching about 40 at times. Snow now.
AMAROK in yesterday with 6 seamen, mail, supplies. But no reliefs.
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Four continuity's sake, the last three chapters have covered the establishment of the three final stations in the Northwest Atlantic chain from the original site surveys, through construction, up until they were taken over for operation by the United States Coast Guard.
While these activities were proceeding throughout the latter part of the 1942 and into the summer of 1943, other phases of Loran development were being carried on simultaneously, at the Radiation Laboratory and elsewhere.
Late in August 1942, Capt Harding was suddenly ordered to Washington, DC to attend a meeting at which it was decided that a Loran survey by made of the Bering Sea area and southern Alaska by representatives of the Army Air Corps, Army Signal Corps, and Capt Harding representing the Navy.
On 23 August, Capt. Harding departed for the West Coast to join the Army representatives in Seattle, Washington. There he met Major Thomas S. Banes of the Army Air Corps, and Lt. H. S. Toner of the Army Signal Corps. Mr. A. C. Peterson of Western Electric Co., representing NDRC for the duration of this survey, was also of the party.
The survey party was delayed at Seattle by the loss of the air transport with fourteen officers and men, as it was enroute to Seattle to transport the party to Alaska. After consultation with Western Sea Frontier Command, the party of four flew to Kodiak by way of Annette Field.
In consultation with Commander Alaskan Sector, plans were made for the survey, and top this end Capt. Harding was attached to Pat Wing Four and N.O.B., Dutch harbor, was directed to provide see transport. Pat Wing Four PBYs were used for air work; in combination with combat patrol operational flights and for this reason only Capt. Harding and Major Banes participated in the air work, although all four members joined in the sea and land work, using a PC boat assigned to this duty.
U.S. forces were still on the defensive in the Aleutians, as they had been since the Dutch Harbor attack. Air losses were still running high, and [Japanese] submarines still roamed the Bearing Sea. However, all combat commands still considered the Aleutian navigational hazards the worst in the world and they were most enthusiastic about the possibilities of Loran.
An excerpt or two, quoted from Capt. Harding's report on the survey, explains the military status in that area at that time and also shows why the survey party was limited in size.
"The tactical situation at time of survey was doubtful and air reconnaissance was made twice without definitely ascertaining whether enemy forces were in vicinity. Advance operation at Ogliugla (near) Tanaga) and at Adak took place practically concurrently with this survey, but these two sites are not possible of use with present plan due to intervening land. If offensive operations continue successfully westward it is recommended that southern side of Aleutian chain be surveyed."
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Original caption: St. Matthew Isle, Alaska - Before construction [of the] Loran Station.
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Original caption: St. Paul Island, Alaska - Before construction [of the] Loran station. Southwest Point looking approximately east from air off-shore.
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Again " landing force from ship was effected with armed party. Subsequently the Army established a weather observation post on opposite side of island from the selected site. There is at present probably no garrison sufficient to defend the Loran station and therefore it should be classed as expendable."
On 8 September, and again on 10 September 1942, St. Paul's Island, pribilors, and St. Matthew, Bering Sea, were surveyed by air. The dense fog over St. Matthew prevented any conclusion decision and it was decided to wait to settle on site definitely on this island until landings could be affected by boat.
On the 12th a landing by small boat from the PC was effected on St. Paul's Island, at Village Cove, near an abandoned village. The site selected was fifteen miles from the cove by road, then 1 1/2 hours over rough grass hummocks on foot. The following day Capt. Harding's party, with landing force landed on St. Matthew in small boats and selected the Loran site there. On the 16th a landing party from the PC anchored in Nikolski Harbor, went ashore at Nikolski, an evacuated native village on western Umnak Island, and a site on Cape Starr was selected.
Capt. Harding and party then returned to Dutch Harbor and in company with Lt. Toner and Mr. Peterson surveyed three additional sites in the Gulf of Alaska.
Upon his return to Cambridge, Capt. Harding found that Lt. D.G. Cowie his acting NLOL had not been idle. During September the training system for officers and men in Loran had began to take a definite shape.
One Navy Radio Electrician and five enlisted men from the Atlantic Fleet were at the Radiation Laboratory training to install and maintain Loran shipboard equipment. Also five Coast Guard Radiomen for ground transmitter station were receiving Laboratory instruction in operation and maintenance of ground transmitting equipment.
By the end of October, the entire Loran program was beginning to be pulled together, and the shape of things to come was becoming apparent.
The Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet had designated the vessels RANGER, CHARGER, CHANANGO, SANTEE, SUNANEE, SANGAMON, MASSACHUSETTS, AND INDIANA, and ships of Cruiser Divisions SEVEN and EIGHT to receive Loran receiver installations at the earliest possible moment, these to be followed by the installations on thirty more destroyers, to be later designated by Commander Destroyers, Atlantic Fleet. On 18 October 1942 the first regular installation of a Loran shipboard receiver was made.
It is interesting to note here that a special shock mounting, designed by the Radiation Laboratory staff at the suggestion of Navy representatives there and used in the early shipboard installations proved more satisfactory under operational stress, i.e., heavy weather, salvo firing, etc., than any other mount for radio equipment then in use in the Navy.
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Original caption: Umnak Island, Alaska - Before construction [of the] Loran Station.
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Capt. Harding had for some months foreseen a need for two types of development in Loran equipment that were most logical and also would add materially to the operational scope of the system. The first was the addition of a direction-finding loop to Loran receiving equipment. The second was some method of extending the daylight service of the Loran system from the existing seven hundred to something comparable to the nighttime thirteen hundred miles. The necessity for early development of these projects he had earnestly presented again and again to the staff of Division 11.
Unfortunately, Division 11 was scattering its shot at this time, in an effort to sell the Army Air Corps on airborne receivers, although there was then no indication that an acceptable airborne receiver could be produced in the near future. However, before the end of 1942, Capt. Harding's did manage to instigate a study into the development of a direction-finding loop, which the Radiation Laboratory delegated to the Sperry Gyroscope Co. through a sub-contract. Due to lack of interest in the subject in the Radiation Laboratory the project was no adequately pursued; the results seemed rather inconclusive and the development of the other phases soon left this project too far behind to be immediately useful.
Instead of the pursuit of the second project, the Radiation Laboratory sub-contracted to Bell Telephone Laboratories the study of the Loran frequency spectrum and its relation to interference with other radio services. The results of this survey and study were completed in December 1942, with no important data to indicate that previous calculations and estimates were at fault and the daytime service area likewise was left behind as other phases of Loran service developed.
For many months it had been evident that Monauk was not a good site for a Loran station as the waves weakened materially by the intervention of areas of land between Montauk and the other units. Field trials begin on 21 October with the four-station chain in operation consisting of Fenwick, Montauk, Baccaro and Deming on the air on a 16-hour day and these tests proved conclusively that for reliable operation Montauk would have to be replaced in a better location.
A study of the Atlantic coastline between Fenwick and Baccaro showed that a spot on Nantucket Island, Mass., near Siasconset would give clear over water baseline both northwest and southwest. The decision was made to replace Montauk with a unit at Nantucket he proposed unit to be operated by the United States Coast Guard.
A monitoring station had meanwhile been set up at Sankaty Head Nantucket on Coast Guard property and manned by Coast Guard personnel to check operations of the four-station chain, and its findings aided materially in deciding on the site.
As the various units went into operation on the air, the practice of giving them flag names, based on the code words for various letters in the site names, was adopted. Thus Fenwick became Fox, Montauk became Mike Boccaro became Baker, and Deming, Dog. Due to the duplication of B's in the initial letters of the stations, the V was taken from Bona Vista, which became Victor and the L from Battle Harbor made it Love. Greenland became N and Nan. They will be referred to by their code names hereafter in this document.
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When the unit on Nantucket, designed to replace Mike, went on air its proximity to Siaconset gave it the code name Sugar and Mike went temporarily into retirement until revived as a code name for a unit in the Bering Sea late in the following year.
By the end of October 1942 the Loran school had been set up by NLOL under the direction of Lt. j.g. Morgan USN and had been removed from the Laboratory quarters in the Hood building, and was equipped to train (1.) Navigation Officers and Quartermasters, (2.) Loran receiving equipment maintenance personnel, (3.) Loran ground station operating personnel. Instruction texts and standardized lectures were in preparation, partly by the Navy, partly by Laboratory personnel and partly by the NLOL.
The NLOL report of 31 December 1942 states that thirty-one ships of the Atlantic Fleet were by that time equipped with Loran receivers and making such use of them at sea as the limited station service then permitted.
The early use of the receivers by navy vessels was of the utmost importance to Loran development at this stage. Only through careful reporting of results obtained by the navigators of the ships could the Hydrographic Office of the Navy hope to draw up and publish adequate Loran charts. Each sheet on Loran the analysis of which when turned in to BUSHIPS, was not only expected to furnish indications to both the Navy and the Radiation Laboratory of where any "kinks" in the system might be. All preliminary reports at the end of 1942 were uniformly favorable and the two major errors detected were correctible being lack of adequate Loran training and experience of navigators at sea, and ground station operators ashore.
As 1942 drew to a close the Radiation Laboratory was forced to throw in the sponge as far as operation of the existing or future stations was concerned. The United States Coast Guard was formally requested, through the Navy, to take over full operation of Fox, Mike and the monitor station at Sankaty Head on 1 January 1943.
However, the Radiation Laboratory was loath to relinquish entirely their right to entrance to the stations as the two in the United States furnished excellent facilities for trying out future experiments. But it was evident that experimental work and service to the Fleet did not mix well at the same stations.
In December 1942 the radiation Laboratory made at long last a concession to the pleas of the Navy and set up experimental high frequency transmitters at Fox and Mike, to select additional frequencies suitable for extending service areas of existing Loran stations.
By the close of 1942 also, the Radiation laboratory had fallen into a morass of production difficulties on existing models. With the extension of Loran chains in other areas waiting upon delivery of equipment, the Laboratory had let contracts to practically all comers. General Electric,
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Western Electric, Fada, R.C.A., Philco, Emerson, Sperry Gyroscope, and various others were all given contracts without adequate inspection supervision being provided for.
The results were just about what might have been expected under the circumstances.
Some of the contractors, under the impression that the equipment to be manufactured did not call for a high degree of engineering. Delivered such poorly manufactured transmitters, receivers or timers that they had to be practically rebuilt in the Laboratory before being released to the units or vessels for which they were intended. Upon information furnished by the NLOL, the Navy found it necessary and desirable to furnish Navy inspectors to the various manufacturing plants, in order to enforce the observance of Navy specifications or their equivalent.
The Army had placed orders for large numbers of airborne receivers and suffered so greatly from hit and miss engineering that it is even now still greatly behind on scheduled receipt of all items.
All these confusions and duplications of effort, or absolute neglect of necessary action tended more and more as 1942 ended to push phase after phase of the extension of the Loran system into the Navy's jurisdiction and through the Navy onto the Coast Guard. The period of Naval (Coast Guard) construction installation and operation of Loran system chains was by 1 January 1943, well over the horizon.
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Early in 1943 the British Admiralty begin to take an active interest in the performance of Loran in the North Atlantic. More and larger convoys were ploughing their way across the northern route to England or up around Norway to Murmansk. It did not take the Royal Navy long to perceive that an extension of the skeleton Loran system across the North Atlantic would be a most constructive and desirable undertaking.
At the meeting of Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC in 1943 it was decided that a three-unit chain in the Northeast Atlantic was necessary to afford complete Loran coverage for these routes. The cooperation was to be very close between the Royal Navy's Admiralty and CNO, U.S. Navy. The U.S. Navy would supply the technical Loran equipment for the new stations and the Admiralty would undertake responsibility for the construction, maintenance, operation and supply of the three Northeastern Atlantic units.
Forewarned by the early difficulties of the Canadian and other Northwest Atlantic stations and aware that they were venturing into a completely new and unfamiliar field, the Admiralty made no secret from the start that they expected to have a lean heavily on the U.S. Navy for technical advice and technical training of personnel. Consequently their first move was to request the U.S. Navy for the services of their most experienced Loran officer, the NLOL, Capt Harding at the time on temporary duty on the General Eisenhower's staff in North Africa. Proper arrangements being made by CNO to honor this request, Capt Harding reported to the Admiralty and, while on temporary duty there sited the three U-K units for them in Iceland, the Faroes and the Hebrides. He was assisted in this duty by Lt. jg Jack D. Roberts, USNR, since lost in the Pacific while still on duty directly connected with Loran. The siting of these stations was very difficult because of the remote inaccessible and exposed locations most of them still at that time under regular air surveillance and frequent attack by enemy air forces. It was however accomplished in record time to the satisfaction of both the Royal Navy and U.S. Navy European Forces operational staffs and the actual installation was started under high priority by the Royal Navy practically as soon as sites were discovered and laid out. The Battle of the Atlantic was still at its peak at this time and Allied Naval Forces placed the highest importance on this Loran service for the "winning of the war". Capt Harding and Lt. Roberts turned the project over to the Royal Navy at this point and returned to duty with the U.S. Naval Forces.
In order to present a truly fair picture of the actual construction of this chain several things must be brought to attention at this point to prevent any inference that the British did not cooperate fully in this project.
The first thing to consider is that the British had been since 1939 fighting an active and hard war. They were short on manpower and spread very thin over a large area. It was impossible at first for the ideal type of personnel for Loran to be so assigned. Any officer, whether or not psychologically fitted to such a command would at that time have to do.
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Original caption: Vik, Iceland - Before construction [of the] Loran Station.
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The second point to remember is that the construction of the stations had to be detailed to various outfits, ranging from civilian contractors to the Royal Marines. It is hard to determine now whether the project itself was kept so secret at that time that the construction groups were unaware of the importance of what they were doing, or whether the need for security had not been impressed sufficiently by the Admiralty upon the Construction Detachment officers. However, it may safely be assumed that what mistakes and omissions were made during the early period of the U-K chain were chiefly due to the extreme strain under which all British forces were then operating.
It is also well to note, that the British as a race do not possess the feeling for mechanical things which characterizes the average American. This lack of mechanical "feeling" was evident in the African campaign, and in every other operation where the British soldier or sailor came up against a piece of machinery, whether it was an ordinary truck or a highly sensitive Loran transmitter.
Too much emphasis cannot be given the above remarks, as otherwise the report would infer that Admiralty mismanaged the actual construction, which would be highly unfair and was not the case.
Since BUSHIPS was not at this time prepared to furnish the necessary technical equipment for the three units, the U.S. Navy purchased what was required from the Radiation Laboratory and saw that it was delivered to the various U-K sites. The sale of the equipment to the navy by the Radiation Laboratory constitutes the only official contact the Radiation Laboratory had with the establishment of this chain.
In addition to training various operations personnel for the Admiralty at the Loran School, the U.S. Navy also assigned technical personnel (USCG) to assist in setting up the station and getting them on the air, at the request of the Royal Navy.
The first of these men of the Coast Guard to be so assigned were Radio Electrician Everett B. Kopp, USCG and Chief Radio Technician Theodore C. LeBaron, USCG who were sent to Iceland in October 1943 to help install the technical equipment and put the unit on the air.
While Kepp's report of the two months he and LeBaron spent putting the Royal Navy Station "Lervik, (at Vik) on the air, is too highly technical to be here included in its entirety certain excerpts are most illuminating and are quoted below:
"Arrived at Reykjavik on 12 October 1943 in company of Theodore LeBaron, CRT. Reported to Commandant-Navy Operating Base, Iceland for assignment to temporary duty with the Royal Navy. Reported to ACI(c) on 13 October and were received and interviewed by the Signal Officer. We were to proceed to the site the following day and on 14 October proceeded approximately 150 miles in the back of a three-ten truck to the village of Vik. We were accompanied by Captain the Viscount Stonehaven of the Royal Marine Engineers, who was in charge of the physical construction of the station and two Royal Navy Radio Mechanics part of the permanent complement. On arrival at the site it was discovered that both the jeep
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and 3/4 ton weapon carrier obtained from the U.S. Navy had been put out of service due to careless and improper use."
"The diesel generators had been mounted but no attempt had been made to wire them up. The operations hut was unfinished and the Loran equipment was still in the packing cases. Some of the cases had been broken open and carelessly nailed shut. The transmitters and timers were standing upside down or lying sideways regardless of the markings "this side up" on the cases. Most of the gear was damp and wet; in many boxes the wood was rotting from dampness. The canvas covers on the transmitters were covered with mold. On questioning it was discovered that the gear had been lying there since about the middle of August. All cases which were shipped from the states had arrived....we then started to unpack the gear and clean up the mess.
Here follows a technical description of the condition of the equipment upon being unpacked. All cases on hand were unpacked in two days then:
"None of the installation material and tools which were to be supplied by the Admiralty had arrived. There was absolutely nothing to work with. I proceeded to Reykjavik by truck on Sunday 17 October. The R.N. Signal Officer was too busy to talk to us or to be bothered in assisting us in procuring the necessary material. The Assistant Commandant of the U.S. Naval Operating Base, Iceland was then contacted. He was very cooperative and provided us with all the material possible, including springs for the jeep. After three days in Reykjavik during which time we located a considerable amount of the British material stored in the transit shed, we returned to VIK. Still missing were square duct, lead-covered #10 wire for power wiring, transmitting antenna wire and insulators, test instruments, many necessary tools, lighting fixtures, conduit and other small items."
Here follows a technical description of work done on the station up to 24 October. Then to quote again:
"Capt. Stonehaven and his construction crew departed on October 25th leaving us the two R.N. Radio Mechanics as sole assistants. Operations hut still leaking profusely. Much that could have been done construction ally remained unfinished. The shielded room had been erected, but only covered with the outside screening the seams of which had not been soldered. Had to tear down several wallboard bulkheads to get at some of the seams. The soldering which should have been done previously took one week for two men. Another man spent two days rebuilding the door properly. No suitable soldering iron had been supplied, so one was borrowed from the U.S. Army Radar Station. The isolation transformer was used to supply 115 volts to the iron and incidentally to dry itself out."
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"One Royal Marine electrician was sent down about this time to assist us in getting the electrical work done. We had been promised a complete crew of electricians for the job. The one man, however, proved to be a capable electrician and good worker and made excellent progress as far as material available would permit. At the time of our departure all light wiring external to the shielded room was still temporary."
Kopp here interpolates a technical description of rigging the antenna with a "jury" cable rig. There is also a paragraph on the relaying of the ground system, which had been incorrectly laid by the Royal Marine Engineers.
"Two more radio mechanics arrived on the truck convoy; so kept them busy installing telephone line from the operations hut to the Army Radar Station where it connected to a 10 pair cable leading to the base camp switchboard. Telephone working on November 3. Pulled all coaxial cables through conduit on 6 November without trouble. All Loran and coax lines now complete."
"Weather was so bad and operations hut leaking so badly that everything was damp. Screened room insulation resistance between screens was only 50,000 ohms due to dampness in wood."
This laconic and factual report omits mention of a wind which, except on "fair" days, a man could not walk against. Kopp does not concern himself with reporting the constant cold, mud, snow, ice and gales, which he and LeBaron as Loran field men were expected to and did take in their stride. However, it may have been such seemingly insurmountable difficulties and discomforts that discouraged the Royal Marines from pushing the construction of a station of whose vital importance they may well have been totally unaware. They heavy drain on British manpower, especially in the qualified officer class; at that time is probably the excuse for lack of proper supervision and direction.
A few more notations from Kopp's report will be of possible interest to the reader:
"At this time there was still no set analyzer or tube checker. Borrowed set analyzer from radar station but tubes had to be checked by substitution method."
"On November 14th one month from date of arrival at site, we put power into the antenna for the first time. Commenced testing with master station on 19th. His signal very unsatisfactory weak and jittery. Sync. Impossible. Signal better on the 20th, but still not good enough for sync. The installation was declared complete and ready for operation on 28 November.
"The following week was spent instructing the available station personnel including the Commanding Officer, and testing with the paired master station. His signal was at first very poor and considerably off frequency. The station personnel two of which had been to the Loran school, being satisfied and having checked their work and all other points to our complete satisfaction departed Vik by U.S. Army truck on 4th December 1943. After conferring with the Staff Signal Officer to ACI (c) we were released from further temporary duty with the Royal Navy Forces on 13 December 1943."
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Original caption: "Vik, Iceland - After construction [of the] Loran Station.
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Exactly two months after reporting for duty in Iceland, Kopp and LeBaron had installed, adjusted, testes and turned over the technical operations of the first of the U-K units to the Royal Navy.
By the middle of December 1943, two of the U-K stations were on the air but two weeks later they were still having difficulty achieving synchronization and the Admiralty appealed to the U.S. Navy for technical advice. The U.S. Navy turned the problem over to the U.S. Coast Guard and Lt. (jg) T.D. Winters USCGR, was ordered to ALUSNA in London for temporary duty as technical adviser."
The Admiralty also requested the retention of the services of Radio Electrician Kopp and LeBaron who were sent to the Skuvanes Head station in Faroes to discover what was causing the difficulty in synchronization between this station and Vik.
Lt. Winters, acting in a liaison and advisory capacity later discussed the situation at this station with Mr. Kopp and himself paid a visit of inspection to the station at Mangersta in the Heorides, which he followed by a trip to the Iceland station. His reports, less technical but more general than Kopp's follow almost in their entirety:
These excerpts deal with the report on the Faroes station:
"The commanding officer of this station is Lieutenant Holland of the Royal Navy. When Radio Electrician Kopp arrived at the station be found the following conditions to exist:
"The screened room was not soldered and it was necessary to remove the side of the room in order to solder it."
(Seven technical difficulties are outlined in this part of the report which it is not considered necessary to reproduce here.)
"...The oscilloscope was not hooked up and when Mr. Kopp questioned Lt. Holland he was told they had tuned the equipment up and put it on frequency once and that was all that was required.
"After these items were cleared up perfect synchronization was maintained with LORVIK until the operations building (at VIK) blew down. The security at Skuvanes Head was very poor and when Mr. Kopp arrived in the village, he found the natives knew of his coming mission. The local people were allowed to remain inside of the operations house while the station was on the air. Several of the local civilians watched Mr. Kopp tune up the transmitter and when he complained to Lt. Holland, he was told that the local people had been hanging around since the station was started and nothing could be done about it now."
"Confidential instruction books were left lying around and anyone could look at them. When Mr. Kopp left Skuvanes Head he reported the inadequate security to the NOIC, Captain Corbett, who promised to pay a surprise visit to the station and see the security measure were improved. When I visit Skuvanes Head I will report on how effective these measures have been."
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"I visited the Managersta station on 11 February, and found security conditions at this station much the same as reported at Skuvanes Head station by Mr. Kopp. Local workmen are allowed to look over timer and transmitter equipment and the confidential instruction books are left lying in an open toolbox that is used by local civilian workmen. These conditions have been reported to the Admiralty and action has been promised. Arrangements are being made to give each man a double tot of rum at 1100 each morning. I suggested that the men on watch and the men about to go on watch have their portions held for them until they come off duty.
"When the weather is bad waves climb up the cliff and spray the operations hut. With the two small stoves it is impossible to keep the hut dry and a central heating system was suggested by me and approved by the Admiralty. This station will probably be on the air about 16 February. Mr. Kopp and Chief LeBaron have found it necessary to tear out quite a bit of the station equipment and reinstall new power lines, grounds, timer and transmitter wiring. Mr. Kopp and Chief LeBaron have done an excellent piece of work and I feel sure no trouble will be experienced with the equipment at any of the stations. The personnel problem appears to be our only worry. Mr. Kopp in his report complains about the lack of cooperation by the British. I am satisfied that the British are giving us excellent cooperation but that things move so much more slowly here then in the States. On 14 February I met with Mr. Burt and Mr. Tollerbond at the Admiralty Signal Establishment, Hasselmere, and operational instructions were drawn up for the U-K Loran Chain using out Coast Guard Instructions as a basis. I expect to leave for Iceland within the next few days in order to hurry up the repairing of the station at that point."
On 11 February, A. Yasinsac, CRM, USCG arrived at The Hebrides station and verbal orders to remain until the station was on the air and operating satisfactorily. He found that Mr. Kopp and LeBaron were already there and had completed the major part of the work. He followed his orders and remained until good solid signals were observed 24 hours a day.
In the meantime, Lt. Winters and Chief Radio Technician LeBaron had gone to Iceland, where they reported in Lorvik on 25 February 1944. LeBaron had the station back on the air by 27 February, but found many operational and personnel problems to report on. Lt. Winter's report bears out the remarks earlier in the chapter concerning the difficulty the British had in obtaining qualified personnel for their Loran stations. These quotation from his Iceland report not only cover the personnel problems but are strangely reminiscent of the reports received at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington from the Coast Guard crew taking over supposedly completed stations in Labrador and Newfoundland.
"There is a great lack of supervision. The Commanding Officer is a man without experience and not fitted for command of a station of this type. This may best be illustrated by the following facts. The station blew down on the Monday and the CO did not check on the damage personally until the following Thursday. While the station was in operation he visited it only once or twice a week and after it blew down, less often. The C.O. was very cooperative to all my suggestions to the limit of his capabilities.
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Original caption: Skuvanes, Faeroes Island - Before construction [of the] Loran Station.
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Original caption: Skuvanes, Faeroes Island - After construction [of the] Loran Station.
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Original caption: Mangersta, Hebrides Island - Before construction [of the] Loran Station.
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Original caption: Mangersta, Hebrides Island - After construction [of the] Loran Station.
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"The discipline is very lax to the point of being non-existent. Men talk back to the C.O and to the petty officers and leading men. Work ordered done is ignored as long as possible. The attitude of the men was to keep the station off the air as long as they could, in order that they would not have to stand regular watches. This fact was substantiated by subsequent talks with the men in front of the C.O., who was quite surprised that this attitude existed. The petty officers and leading men instead of being the backbone of the disciplinary organization encouraged the men in their insubordination. As is to be expected in a loosely run organization, the moral is very low.
"The motor mechanics, of which there are five at the station are not capable of maintaining the equipment. It is suggested that one good motor mechanic and four seamen capable of commonsense mechanical repairs replace these five men.
"The vehicles at LORVIK have not been placed there with proper thought, as the road leading from the base camp to the operations hut can be used only by jeeps. The vehicles at the station at present are two jeeps, one dodge weapons carrier, one Ford four wheel drive truck and one Bedford 15-ton of which only one jeep is operating. This jeep was repaired by a motor mechanic whom I borrowed from NOB, Iceland. It is suggested that two jeeps and a jeep trailer be furnished this station and the rest of the equipment recalled for other use.
"The buildings are poorly constructed and have been placed with little thought to natural drainage. It is believed that the operations hut is still in dangerous condition and that immediate action should be taken to keep the equipment from being damaged by wind or water."
Then one bright note is all this gloom. "Security of classified publications was very good at this station." Followed by more trouble. "Security of material was poor. No guard was placed over the equipment at night, nor was anyone required to inspect the operations hut even though a fire was left burning all night."
In spite of the nature of these reports, it is safe to assume that the British were doing the best that they could with the personnel and material available to them at that time, and there is good reason to believe that strong action was taken after Winter's and Kopp's reports were received in the Admiralty. The completion of this three-unit chain and its operation on the air within a relatively short time not only proves that the Admiralty was deadly earnest in its interest in Loran, but that when necessary, the Combine Allied Commands could work as swiftly and harmoniously together toward a common end as did the Joint Commands of the Armed Services in Alaska. All Coast Guard personnel loaned to the British Admiralty were back in the United States and on other duty before the end of May 1944.
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Right from its beginning, 1943 proved a Coast Guard year for Loran. On 1 January the units Fox, Mike and the monitor station at Sankaty Head, Nantucket were transferred from the control of NDRC to the United States Coast Guard. The complete responsibility for the operation and maintenance of Nan was turned over to the Coast Guard on 15 May.
The beginning of this year brought about many changes, long advocated by Capt. Harding. During most of 1942, the construction, installation and operation of the stations had been a catch-as-catch-can proposition as far as the participation of various Government and private agencies was concerned.
The Radiation Laboratory, Navy, USCG, Army, Royal Canadian Navy and local civilian contractors had all had a hand in the construction of the original seven-unit chain, with the resultant Comedy and Tragedy of Errors recorded in the previous chapters. The Radiation Laboratory whose original idea to construct maintain and operate the chain on its own had proved disastrously impractical, was quite content that the United States Coast Guard should take over the establishment of Loran chain in Alaska, when it was so ordered by the Navy directive, in January 1943.
Being primarily research scientists, the staff of Division 11 had more or less lost interest in further development of Loran for Navy use, once it began to prove its practicability in actual use. They were at this time much more interested in the development of airborne receivers for the Army Air Corps, and it was only by dint of much pushing that Capt Harding could keep them working on the production of still necessary timers and transmitters, largely hand-produced in laboratory shops. The D/F loop and high frequency transmission projects were practically lost in the urgent concentration on simple production of timers and transmitters.
Several happenings early in 1943, tended to help convince the Radiation Laboratory that it would be a good idea to continue with daylight transmission range extension experiments. One primary mover to such experiments was that intense interest Jack Pierce himself had in reflected propagation. Also by February 1943, thirty-one ships of the U. S. Atlantic Fleet and two Coast Guard weathers ships had been equipped with Loran receiving sets and were sending in their performance reports from sea to Navy BUSHIPS. As a result, BUSHIPS set up a section within itself, for the sole purpose of analyzing these reports, which were uniformly favorable.
The ships at sea reported that good, useable, sky-waves were found at a distance of 2,000 to 3,000 miles from the baselines of the various pairs in operation. This indicated that the service area could possibly be extended, and doubtless BUSHIPS, through the NLOL, exerted a little pressure on Division 11 relative to pursuing such experiments at an early date to extend service to "second bounce area."
By early February, the Radiation Laboratory had installed small high frequency transmitters at Fox and Mike, and Laboratory engineers and Coast Guard Radiomen were in Florida establishing a temporary monitoring system at Mosquito Lagoon. Here they would make observations of the high frequency
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test transmission from Fox and Mike and observe the E-layer reflections of 1.95 mcs.
The training of Loran personnel also became stabilized at this time. The "school," which had taken on some of the characteristics of the Flying Dutchman, was formally transferred from the NDRC to the Senior Naval Officer at M.I.T. its name changed to Naval Training School (Navigation), and it came to rest at a location in 19 Deerfield Street, Boston, MA. There it remained until March 1944 when its expansion caused it to be transferred to the Coast Guard and moved to Groton, CT, where it now is.
The course was, at the time of taking over by the Navy, comprised of three sections: Navigator's Course, Radio Technician's Installation and Maintenance Course, and Transmitting Equipment Installment and Maintenance Course. Personnel assigned to study at the school could take one or the other of the courses, depending on the future assignment in store for the individual upon completion of trading.
With the Loran system proving itself more and more satisfactory every day the men trained at 19 Deerfield Street were destined eventually to the voyage east and west to the farthermost reaches of American and British Naval control.
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