Location in Pearl HarborThe U.S.S. Raleigh, my dad's ship, was moored in berth F-12, ahead of the Utah. Ahead of the Raleigh was the Detroit in berth F-13. These berths are on the Northeast, or Pearl City side of Ford Island.
Damage to the USS Raleigh During the Attack on Pearl HarborI've read that the first torpedo in the assault on Pearl Harbor hit the USS Raleigh at about 7:55 a.m. The light cruiser Raleigh was attacked by Japanese single engine low wing monoplane torpedo planes.
The torpedo created a hole in the side of the Raleigh about eight feet in diameter. Firsthand reports say the ship fantail was lifted out of the water by the explosion.
Dad's locker was probably located on the lower decks. These were flooded with water and oil when a dive bomber struck the ship with a bomb. It passed through the carpenter shop and oil tank, piercing the hull below the water line. The bomb detonated on the bottom of the harbor.
What did Dad do after he recovered from the shock of being thrown down the stairway to another deck? Since he wasn't assigned to a gun post, I think he helped others jettison as much as they could from the port side when they thought the ship would capsize. The crew threw everything they could away to lighten it. Anchors were let go, awnings cut down and torpedo tubes, searchlights, altimeter, aircraft launcher, anything loose was tossed overboard.
The ship started to list to starboard, so they did the same thing on the starboard side. The crew struggled to keep the ship afloat throughout the attack and into the night. The ship was finally stabilized when a barge with salvage pontoons on board was lashed alongside.
According to the action report, around 8 am, the Captain of the Raleigh learned that there were survivors tapping in the hull of another ship. Dad may have been the coxswain of the motor launch that took the rescue party with a cutting torch over to the capsized USS Utah to cut men out of the hull. This was considered a brave act on the part of all in the rescue party because the Japanese were continuing to strafe.
The Raleigh had a few crew wounded, but no deaths. The Raleigh is considered to have contributed to the destruction of five enemy planes.
Repairs to the USS RaleighOn December 22nd, the Raleigh was towed into the Navy Yard for repairs. This is probably around the time that Dad was able to retrieve Mom's engagement ring from his soggy locker.
The Raleigh departed Pearl Harbor on February 21, 1942 as an escort of a five-ship convoy and arrived in San Francisco on March 1, 1942.
Dad proposed to Mom, with the soggy, oily engagement ring box and lovely ring, on April 2, 1942.
Resources and ThanksI'm very grateful to Glenn Nichols and J.R. "Bob" Loftis for their willingness to talk to me about their experiences aboard the USS Raleigh that fateful day. I'm also thankful that my mom, Alice Sowersby, has such a great memory and kind heart.