"NOW HEAR THIS"

Subject: Yalta Conference

Published: August 1993

By: Dick Whiting

 

I certainly enjoy reading “Now Hear This,” particularly, the letters from those who served in the Mediterranean theatre in 1943.

 

I missed all that, not reporting until June 1944, and being sent to Newport, RI under Commander E.J. Davis, to assign new crew to their eventual billets.  I think I must have interviewed everyone of the replacement crew that later reported to the Savannah on 14 August 1944.

 

I read, with interest, Joe Heesemann’s letter, but felt I should correct a couple of paragraphs for the record.  We were not originally assigned training duty.  Rather, when we left the Philadelphia Navy Yard in September, and finished our shakedown, our orders were to show a US Navy presence in the “Coastal Mid-Atlantic.”  The primary duty being to ward off, with our two escorts, any die-hard attempt by German submarines, as a last gasp, to cause any incident off the New England to Virginia coast.

USS Quincy (CA-17)

Official US Naval Photograph

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Center

In late January we went to the Mediterranean, as a decoy for the USS Quincy, and its six escorts, which carried President Roosevelt to the Yalta Conference (4 Feb to 11 Feb).  Those on board will remember we wore whites for several days to become more obvious as a decoy.  President Roosevelt never came aboard the Savannah – the closest we got to him was the six hours we spent in Algiers along side the Quincy waiting for General DeGaulle to show up, which he never did.  It was immediately after leaving Algiers that we steamed at “Flank,” at 32.5 knots, through the Straits of Gibralter in order to avoid any German U boats that were believed to be lurking outside the entrance.  This was the fastest the SAVANNAH had steamed since she was refitted, other than during the shakedown trials.  With that speed capacity she could have been able to keep up with the newer ships in the Pacific Fleet.

 

It was on returning to New York, in late February, that we were assigned to Fleet Operational Training Command.

 

About 19 March we started “training.”  We eventually took three groups of Midshipmen on board for “at Sea” indoctrination, going from the Seven River to Guantanamo and return.  We were enroute from Guantanamo when “VE” Day was declared on 14 August.

 

After all this, I am enclosing a check to help defray some of your mailing costs.

 

Dick Whiting

Commander, USNR (ret)`