U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation Collection: Kenneth E. McAbee Papers

Manuscript Collection #677-066
McAbee, Kenneth E.
Physical description
0.155 Cubic Feet, 15 items , consisting of personal correspondence, a typescript history of the USS KITKUN BAY, CVE-71, typescript biographical account entitled "Cruising the Pacific 1941-1945," published cruise book (1944-1945) for Composite Squadron 63, certificates, citations, newspaper and magazine article(s), and photographs.
Preferred Citation
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation Collection: Kenneth E. McAbee Papers (#677-066), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Correspondence a typescript history of the USS Kitkun Bay, CVE-71, published cruise book (1944-45) for Composite Squadron 63, typescript biographical account entitled "Cruising the Pacific, 1941-1945," photographs, citations, certificates, and miscellany. 15 items.

Biographical/historical information

The collection consists of material concerning the World War II Naval experiences of Kenneth E. McAbee. Throughout the war he mainly served in the South Pacific Theatre on the jeep carrier USS KITKUN BAY.

Scope and arrangement

Found here are his reminiscences, an official history of the KITKUN BAY, a cruise book for Composite Squadron 63 and numerous certificates.

McAbee enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Indianapolis on December 8, 1941, and was sent to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and then to Electricians Specialist School in Detroit, MI. While stationed on the USS WHARTON in the Pacific raiding Japanese-held islands, McAbee notes in his memoir that he and a Marine went on commando raids to destroy radio stations and power houses [p. 1]. From there he went on shore patrol in San Francisco, California, in spring 1942 and described entertainments used by military personnel [p. 4]. After this service, he was stationed on the KITKUN BAY (CVE-71) as a member of the first crew on board. He describes personnel and armaments and mentions that this type of ship was referred to as a "Kaiser Coffin" [p. 7]. Of particular interest are descriptions of the Japanese attack on Dutch Harbor, Alaska (June 3, 1942) [p. 10], the battle at Midway (July, 1942) [p. 12], and a battle led by the USS YORKTOWN and the USS LEXINGTON resulting in the sinking of the LEXINGTON, the tanker USSNEOSHO, and the destroyer escort USS SIMS in the Coral Sea (1942) [p. 13]. McAbee mentions that the first kamikaze mission was flown by Japanese Admiral Masafumi Arima against the USS FRANKLIN on October 13, 1944 [p. 17]. He describes in detail Admiral Kincaid's 7th Fleet (split into three groups called Taffy 1, 2, 3), backed by Admiral Halsey's 3rd Fleet, engaged in the battle at Leyte Gulf (October 1944) [pp. 18-22] where the USS SONOMA sank; the battle of Lingayen Gulf (January 7, 1945); the sinking of the USS ST. LOUIS; and the abandoning of the KITKUN BAY after it was hit by a kamikaze pilot and its later rescue [p. 23-27]. He ends his memoir with statistics on kamikaze missions and Japanese sinking of American ships [pp. 27-28], and a discussion of the end of the war operations, the Japanese surrender, and the surrender of Hokkaido in N. Japan to the KITKUN BAY in September 1945 [pp. 29-30].

A manuscript entitled "History of CVE-71, USS KITKUN BAY" describes military operations of the KITKUN BAY including a battle chronology [p. 1]; attacks near Saipan, the Tinian Islands, and the Marianas Islands (June-July 1944) [pp. 7-19]; action off the coast of Guam (August 1944) [pp. 20-21]; an attack on the Peleliu and Anguar Islands and Ulithi (September 1944) [pp. 22-24]; a detailed description of the battle on October 25, 1944, in the Philippines [pp. 25-36]; the subsequent attack and abandonment of the USS MIDWAY [p.32]; and statistics on the damage and armaments used [pp. 34-35]. The turning over of command of the KITKUN BAY from Captain J. P. Whitney to Captain Albert Handly [p. 37]; routine training exercises [pp. 37-40]; the battle in Surigao Strait (January 6, 1945) [p. 41] and the subsequent transferring of personnel and repairs of the KITKUN BAY [pp. 42-45]; retrieval of Allied prisoners of war from Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan (September 1945) [p. 58]; and statistical reports of ships sunk or damaged by the KITKUN BAY and personnel aboard killed, wounded or decorated [pp. 60-61] are described.

Two items of personal correspondence dated September 17, 1945, and October 20, 1945, describe Tokyo Bay and mine sweeps in Tsugaro Strait; the retrieval of liberated Allied prisoners in Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan by and the boarding of Japanese officers on the KITKUN BAY; the return welcome for American servicemen in San Francisco Bay; and the release from service of Kenneth E. McAbee.

Miscellaneous items include a Presidential Unit Citation given to Task Unit 77.4.3 for service against the Japanese fleet during the battle off Samar, Philippines, fought on October 25, 1944; a list of awards given to McAbee; humorous certificates for the Domain of the Golden Dragon, the Mystic and Auroral Order of Alaska Cheechakos, and a Plank Owner; the published Composite Squadron 63 Cruise Book (1944-1945); and clippings concerning the October 25, 1944, battle, and the retirement of Vice Admiral Tommy Sprague. Photographs are of Kenneth McAbee, ruins in the business district of Yokohama, Japan (September 22, 1945), and unidentified snapshots of Japanese places and people.

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 9, 1997, 15 items; Correspondence, a typescript history of the USS KITKUN BAY, CVE-71, published Cruise Book (1944-1945) for Composite Squadron 63, a typescript biographical account entitled "Cruising the Pacific, 1941-1945," photographs, citations, certificates, and miscellany. Donated by the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation, Washington, D.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation

Processing information

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
McAbee, Kenneth E.
Corporate Names
Kitkun Bay (Ship)
United States. Navy--Officials and employees
Kamikaze airplanes
World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations, Japanese
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Pacific Ocean
World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations, American
World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons