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Thomas M. McAlone oral history interview, October 5, 1992

Date: Oct. 05 1992 | Identifier: OH0024-049
Thomas M. McAlone Oral History Interview. McAlone comments on his service as Master at arms on the USS North Carolina BB-55 during World War II. Interviewer: Captain Ben Blee. more...



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW #24.049
Thomas M. McAlone
USS NORTH CAROLINA Battleship Collection
October 5, 1992
Interview #1
Interviewer is Capt. Ben Blee

Capt. Ben Blee:

What are the dates that you served on the ship?

Thomas M. McAlone:

March 30, 1942, to December 15, 1945.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Where was your battle station?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Damage control. That would be up in officers' country. Below deck.

Capt. Ben Blee:

What did you actually do on damage control?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Well, I had the ear phones.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Taking reports from the bridge?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Yes. Taking reports from the bridge if we were being attacked or something like that. What part of our ship that was hit, we were supposed to take care of that part of the ship. There were five of us in that part of the ship at the time.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Where and what was your duty station?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Master at arms.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Exactly how did you do that?



Thomas M. McAlone:

Well to the best of my ability. No problems. Treated everybody the way I wanted to be treated. When the chief said do something, I had to do it. Like put somebody on report or something; that was my job. I did my job.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Did the master at arms ever do any shore duty?

Thomas M. McAlone:

No. I never did. They have master at arms in the service on the beach. Mine was all abroad ship.

Capt. Ben Blee:

What was your rating and rank?

Thomas M. McAlone:

First class boatswain mate.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Under what circumstances did you become a member of the United States Navy?

Thomas M. McAlone:

I joined of my own free will.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Any particular reason why?

Thomas M. McAlone:

I always wanted to go into the service.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Versus the Army, Air Corps.

Thomas M. McAlone:

Always wanted to go into the Navy, when the war started I went in.

Capt. Ben Blee:

What did you do for fun and recreation?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Well, did a little drinking and fighting, a few girls now and then. Mostly bars when we got liberty.

Capt. Ben Blee:

What particular battle experience stands out in your mind?

Thomas M. McAlone:

When we were torpedoed on September 15. I was on watch that day with sky control when the WASP got hit, the USS WASP, the carrier. It was hit that day and was sunk. We got hit the same day. That was with a torpedo. That was the scariest experience I ever had.

Capt. Ben Blee:

What is sky control?



Thomas M. McAlone:

That is super structure, all the way at the top. They had lookouts up there. I was on watch that day, at that particular time that it happened. I saw the WASP on fire; I reported it to the officer that it looked like a plane had crashed onto the carrier. About that time, another torpedo hit it. It looked like it come out of the water. We made a hard port turn, and we got hit.

Capt. Ben Blee:

How long did you stay up there during this engagement?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Well, we went to general quarters right away. Then I went from there back aft to my battle station.

Capt. Ben Blee:

What was your favorite liberty port and why?

Thomas M. McAlone:

All of them. Just to get off the ship and relax. Do a little drinking, chase a few women now and then, you know.

Capt. Ben Blee:

What were your holidays like on the ship?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Very nice. We had nice dinners. Turkey on Christmas and Thanksgiving. Cigarettes. They give you cigarettes and cigars and stuff like that. Pumpkin pie. Very nice. Lonesome, but nice.

Capt. Ben Blee:

What did you like or dislike about the ship?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Really, nothing. It was my home as far as I was concerned. I enjoyed it. Scary at times, but it was still home for four years. It was just like family. The whole crew. We were all family. Very few squabbles. If there was any grievance, you settled it with gloves. I had to put a few in the brig, but not my doings. I was told to do it. So I had to lock them up.

Capt. Ben Blee:

How does one go about putting someone in the brig?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Well, the chief master at arms will be with you. He is the one that files the report of what happened. They may have give him some back talk or lip or something. Until they had their court-martial or whatever it was, they would be in the brig. Except if you were in the war zone.



If you were in the war zone, we had like a cage upstairs topside on the back of the ship where we put them. We wouldn't leave them below deck. Everything we did--the master at arms did--we were told to do.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Who were your favorite officers or ones that you disliked?

Thomas M. McAlone:

My favorite officer was Commander Stryker. He was a fine man. Instead of prisoners most of the time in our brig, we had beer. That was for recreation parties. He was a fine man. He was my favorite. He was the commanding officer.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Can you describe any funny incidents?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Yes. I can. It was me. I came back off of liberty one morning in the after mess hall; we had a ladder that we went down into the ship. A guy said, “Why don't you play p-38?” I dove down the ladder. I was drunk then and I didn't feel, I really didn't feel nothing to the next day. I went right on down the ladder on my stomach. Shot right in the mess hall.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Do any damage to yourself?

Thomas M. McAlone:

No.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Can you describe the relationship between officers and crew?

Thomas M. McAlone:

I think maybe a few of them had a grievance against an officer. Most of them were fine. They treated us with respect and we treated them with respect. You had to at times like that, because we were all doing the same thing for the same cause.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Can you tell us about black sailors?

Thomas M. McAlone:

I was in charge of the stewards aboard ship. To me they were as good as I was. I treated them with respect and they treated me with respect.

Capt. Ben Blee:

How many were there?



Thomas M. McAlone:

I think there was about fifteen of them. They worked at the officers' mess. We always got along fine. It was my duty to wake them in the morning for general quarters. Never had no problems.

Capt. Ben Blee:

What did you and your shipmates consider good luck or bad luck?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Well, coming out of there alive to me was good luck. The Good Lord was looking after all of us. To me that was lucky.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Were there any superstitions particular to the USS NORTH CAROLINA?

Thomas M. McAlone:

Not that I know of. I don't think so.

Capt. Ben Blee:

Thank you very much, sir.

[End of Interview]

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