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Stuart Hotchkiss oral history interview, July 16, 1989

Date: Jul. 16 1989 | Identifier: OH0115
Captain Hotchkiss grew up on Long Island Sound where at an early age he became involved in yachting and international yacht racing. As a Naval ROTC student at Yale University, Hotchkiss received a US Naval Reserve commission and volunteered for active duty in April 1941. After assignment to a minesweeper, he received command of the schooner BOWDOIN and conducted hydrographic studies along the coast of Greenland. In June 1943 Hotchkiss was given command of the COOLBAUGH (DE 217) in which he experienced a violent storm in the Atlantic and participated in convoy and firing exercises in the Pacific. The COOLBAUGH participated in the Leyte Gulf invasion as well as engagements at Luzon and Manila Bay. In August 1945 Hotchkiss took command of the DD 939 (former Z-39) and in November the USS GRIDLEY (DD 380), the latter of which he cruised the Mediterranean. Both the interview and the Stuart Hotchkiss Papers detail the above experiences. Interviewer: Donald R. Lennon. more...



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
Stuart Hotchkiss (DECO)
July 16, 1989
Interview #1

Donald R. Lennon:

Your memoir was so specific and had so many good details which is very important for research purposes, I was wondering, did you have records accessible to you that gave you the precise time and weather conditions and everything that you so vividly utilized or was that from recall?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

I began, first of all, by excavating all the letters which, fortunately, my family had kept, so I had all of that. As I was going through those [Of course, with the self-imposed censorship you couldn't be specific. I'd make a reference to something and thin, "Gee, what the dickens was that," and so forth.] So then I got in touch with Washington and I'd order up the log pages for those specific dates or whatever. This all came out of the smooth log, and the smooth log is one of those formalities, but, at any rate, you can get a lot of stuff out of it. This way I could be specific and then, of course, re-reading the logs bough back--keyed in--the memory of what happened. All the detail stuff is right out of the log pages.

Well, what I would like for us to do is to turn back prior to the World War II period. You started your memoir in 1943 by saying that you had been in Greenland for



thirteen months before you entered DE service. What I would like for us to start with is something of your background. From talking with you just now I see that all the way back as early as '35, you were doing a lot of sailing. If you could give us a little of your background, where you grew up, when you first got involved in sailing and then bring it up into World War II.]

I was born about 400 feet from here, because this was the family place here. They put it together back about 1909, bit by bit during the years after that. This was our summer place with the cottage on the shore. Then, in 1917, a classmate of my father's, Andover and Yale, designed this building which was our barn. We had horses here and it acted as a garage, and the second floor was the hayloft with two great big, heavy steel I-beams to support it. So you could go anywhere upstairs with a pogo stick now and not do any harm. So anyhow, that's sort of where it all started.

Then I started out sailing at about the age of nine, or so. My first boat is the one up there to the left. A 14-foot sailing row boat, she was. Ten in 1925, I believe, my father bought for my older brother a sloop, let's see, second item down over there. Her name was GOLLYWOG. My brother had her from 1925 on, and I used to sail in her until 1928. Then my father, again, had built this KETCH DOUBLOON, and I inherited GOLLYWOG. At the age of 15 a friend of mine and I just cruised all over Long Island Sound, and up to Newport, and out of Montauk, and all over the place. We were 15 year old kids but we didn't get into any trouble at all. We certainly had some good sailing!



Donald R. Lennon:

The traffic on Long Island Sound back then was not quite what it would be today.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Quite a different proposition!

Donald R. Lennon:

You said this was your summer home. Where was winter home?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

We lived in m grandfather's house in New Haven which was on the corner of Hillhouse Avenue and Sachem Street. We sold it to the University in '33 and moved out in 1935. That was our winter home and then I went to school in New Haven. All of us then would move out here for the summer.

When my brother was in college, and got into graduate work in geology, why, then the KETCH was pretty much unemployed, so to speak. I took her over and we sold the little sloop. I took over DOUBLOON and in 1931 I took her for a cruise down to Maine and New Brunswick. In 1932 I went out from New York on a steamship--it was one of the Dollar Liners they alternated--one week they would have a ship around the world and then the next week it would be on the Orient run and back. I was on the Orient run.

Donald R. Lennon:

At this time you were in college?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Yes. That was the summer from college.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were at Yale?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Yes. I was at Yale.

Then in 1933, the following year, I took the Ketch and, with some college classmates, sailed her from here, first of all, to Halifax. Then we cruised to Nova Scotia coast and then to Newfoundland. We had a problem with the rudder about halfway up the



west coast of Newfoundland that took some time to square away. Then we came back from there and went along the south coast to St. Pierre et Miquelon, the French islands there off of the south coast of Newfoundland, and then home. That made a pretty good cruise. I guess that I was 20. When I got home from that we laid her up.

That was when I went over to England and signed on the four-masted PARMA. Actually, I went to Sweden first because my family was over there. My father was engaged in straightening out the mess of the Krueger and Toll (?). Do you remember the "Swedish Match King" and all international intrigue that sort of grew around him and so forth. He, I think, committed suicide, and there was an awful lot to be cleaned out and my father was representing the Irving Trust Company of New York.

I went over and stayed with them for a week or so and then on over to London where I joined PARMA. I got back from the PARMA in the summer of '34. In 1935, I took the schooner VAGABOND in the race to Norway, after we had finished.

Then we cruised down the coast to Oslo and laid her up there, then I went over to Lymington, in England, to join STORMY WEATHER, which is this boat here, which had won the race to Norway. I joined her in Lymington for the Fastnet Race in 1935 and then we sailed back across the ocean in her.

1936 is where the Navy comes in because I had been in Naval ROTC at Yale. In order to do the Norway race I had deferred the cruise required for Naval ROTC. Before getting my commission, I had to put in the cruise time, and I did that first thing in '36.



That's how come we didn't get over to Norway until July. Then like I mentioned, we picked up VAGABOND, the schooner. We sailed her home by Copenhagen and through the Kiel Canal, over to Cuxhaven, then outside to Terschelling and then to Zuyder Sea, which was then a navigable body of water. Down to Amsterdam through the canals and out at Middleburg and Flushing, then out into the North Sea and into the English Channel. We almost lost her off of Start Point, because we got hit by a squall which laid her over on her beam ends. She had an offset companion way for you to go down below. Fortunately, we were hit on the starboard tack so that the companion way was up instead of down. She went right over on her side.

Donald R. Lennon:

It did not take on enough water?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

That's right. We just had on port hole that was open. One of the boys who was down below was able to get that battened down. Then we go her back up on her feet. But if it had been the other way around...

Donald R. Lennon:

It was kind of testy there?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

We went into Portland and Brixham and then Plymouth. We fitted out in Plymouth for the rest of the long trip. So then from there we went down to Lisbon and then from Lisbon to Madeira and from Madeira to Tenerife. We climbed the peak at Tenerife, which is a lot of fun. They call it Teide; it's about 13,000 feet. It wa a lot of fun. Good exercise.

Then from there we went over to Port Etienne in French Maernetania and from Port Etienne down to Dakar in Senegal. From Dakar we went down to Bathurst inn Gambia and



then we took her 100 miles up the Gambia River which was a lot of fun. We borrowed rifles from some people we had gotten to know in Bathurst so we could go bush-pig hunting upriver and so forth, and that was a lot of fun.

Then from there we sailed across to Trinidad and then from Trinidad we sailed on up, hitting almost all the islands up through the West Indies. Of course in those days, there were no yachts,, it was just natural native situations. I guess there were one or two yachts down in Port of Spain, but we didn't see another yacht until we got up to St. Kitts. Then just one yacht and that was that.

We took in all these islands, the sailed on to St. Thomas and then from St. Thomas we went on over to San Juan. That was where I left. We had Christmas there, then I left shortly after that and the rest of the boys took her from San Juan directly over to Miami.

Well, that got us into '37. Fortunately the outfit that I went to work with was rather broadminded is allowing me time off. Then in '37, that was when we did the Fastnet Race, Dick Reynolds, me, Lizzy Mack, and all. We came back by steamer that time on the QUEEN MARY.

That was another story. When we were finishing the Fastnet Race, it had been very foggy with very light winds and so forth from the Lizard in to about 40 miles from Plymouth. As we came up toward the breakwater we could see the English boat call the Teaffe outside the breakwater. We were trying to nurse the boat in, in very little wind and just doing what we could to keep her moving. We speculated and we though, "Gosh, she'd



rounded the Lizard three hours ahead of us, 40 miles back." We figured that she had probably finished. She's just out here to watch the other boats come in. Dick Reynolds in his characteristic big way said, "Well, if she hasn't finished, I'm going to buy each one of you a case of champagne!" So we laughed it off, you know. As it turned out, she had not finished! We beat her across the line. Of course we forgot all about the case of champagne. We raced down the French coast and across the Channel and then down to La Buule and the Bay of Biscay side.

Dick went back on the QUEEN MARY a trip or so ahead of the rest of us. When we stepped aboard the QUEEN MARY looking like a bunch of pirates, I guess, why right away the smoking room steward was waiting at the gangway and he looked at us and he said, "Mr. Reynolds' friends?"

"Yep."So, he said, "I have something for you." He marched us up to the smoking room and gave us each an envelope with a hundred dollars in it! Of course a hundred dollars in 1937 was a hell of a lot of money! We decided Dick's purpose in this was to give us a hell of a good trip back. And we had it! We had a lovely time.

1938 was when BLITZEN was new and we raced her to Bermuda. Then 1939 came along and we then took her in the Honolulu race and she was shipped out to San Francisco and Dick had all of us flown out.

Donald R. Lennon:

By that time the situation in Europe was such that you couldn't race to Europe



anymore, could you?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

No. That's right. Well that worked out for 1939. I had been out of college long enough that I had not kept up with my requirements for my Navy commission, I took four weeks of cruising in four-stack destroyers, on the USS THATCHER. She was one of the ones who was turned over to the British right after the second cruise, in the Land-Lease business. The Bermuda race was in '40, but I went on active duty in April of '41.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were they calling up Reserve officers at that point or did you volunteer?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Oh, I volunteered. I figured that it was coming along, so let's get on with it, so I volunteered in April of '41. I was assigned as executive officer of a YP--YP62. She was in a Consolidated Shipyard in the Bronx in New York. That lasted until June. It was just a couple of months. I never really had much to do with her.

Then I was made prospective commanding officer of the minesweeper that was building up in Ipwich, Mass. We didn't commission her until the 29th of September. The exec., a fellow named MacGruger Dent, who is still a good friend of min, he and I sort of spent the summer going to mine school and that kind of stuff. I was living at the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead which is convenient. It was a pretty easy-going summer, actually, because the people at the yard didn't want the Navy people hanging around. We did do what we had to do and that was about it.

She was commissioned in September and then we took her down to Yorktown to the naval mine warfare establishment there for shakedown. Then from there we went for a



brief availability to the Norfolk Navy Yard, and then on up here. We got up here in the later part of November. We based in New London, which was very convenient as far as I was concerned. It was just thirty-five miles away from home.

We operated out of there. We'd start out from New London and go out through the race. We'd stream our sweep gear, then we'd steam on out past Montauk and go about twenty miles beyond Montauk. Then we come back into Block Island Sound and we'd patrol Block Island Sound for that night. When daylight came we would join up with another sweeper. WE would then sweep from Block Island Sound out again, twenty miles off of Montauk and then back in New London and then we would lay over for a day. It was quite a nice setup.

That lasted until February. At that time I was given command of the schooner BOWDOIN. She was an Arctic exploration vessel, I don't know whether you've ever heard of her or not.

Donald R. Lennon:

I've heard the name, but I don't recall what context it was in.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Well she had been owned by Donald B. MacMillan, the Arctic explorer. She had been built in 1919. I guess he wintered up in Northern Greenland, and so forth, for five different winters. She'd been an Arctic exploration vessel.

I was given command of her. She was at that time lying up in Boston, at Lawley's yard there in at Neponsett. We fitted out. They had various things there that they wanted to do, install a heating plant, for example, because we were going to be in Greenland over the



winter. She also required some other thins. Amazingly enough she had no independent generating system. All of the electricity was generated by the main engine and held in a whole bank of storage batteries. This was not a satisfactory situation. Also, it was the main engine that ran the compressor to give compressed air for starting the main engine. So if you ran out of air, you were in trouble.

Donald R. Lennon:

Or if your main engine went down and those batteries depleted, you were in trouble too!

Stuart Hotchkiss:

That's true. Absolutely incredible setup. Anyhow I got right on to that and installed a seven and a half W generator and we also installed air compressors so that we were independent of that. Actually at one time in the previous summer, Captain Mack had had her in Greenland and they had run out of air! It was incredible.

Donald R. Lennon:

Another ship would have to come inn to assist you.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Yes. That was it.

Donald R. Lennon:

What was your mission in Greenland?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

We took her up there under sail, which was a lot of fun. Our mission was to do hydrographic surveys of some of the fjords on the west coats. First of all we went into fjords of southern Greenland to Tunugliartik Fjord Bluie West One, which was the biggest of the Greenland bases and was serving as sort of ferry stop. They would stop in at Base One and fuel and whatever and then they'd go on from there over to England.

Donald R. Lennon:

So there was a military purpose to the surveying as well as a scientific purpose.



Stuart Hotchkiss:

Definitely. This was really basically a military purpose. We had two survey officers on board to begin with. Then we had a bunch of aerial photographs that had been taken with a 60 percent overlap so that we had to triangulate the fjords.

From Tunugliartik we sailed north to Sondre Stromfjord. This was the first one that we were to survey. One reason for that was a ship had run aground in December just prior to our arrival. They were anxious to get the whole fjord surveyed. That was about 85 miles and took us from about the twentieth of June until we finished that job in early September. This mean building signals, primary signals, which would be occupied by theodolite, then secondary signals to key in various points, promantorive and one thing or another. Those could be used in controlling the tracings from the photographs and suchlike.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was this being done entirely by military personnel or did you have hydrographic civilians on board?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

No, this was all Navy, as far as we were concerned. I had nine enlisted men and two survey officers and an executive officer. Of course when we were up there, it was a lot of hard work. Dory work. Ferrying in and out of the shore to build the signals and then to come back and occupy them. After the boat sheets had been made up with all the shore points plotted in, signals and that, then we ran lines of bearing with just visual soundings, fatemeter-type instruments. We kept checking out position with horizontal sextant angles to keep exact tabs of our line of soundings. So it was a pretty effective process. The only trouble with it was tat it was not like a wire drag survey, where you had a couple of survey



vessels and a wire drag and if it happens to be a pinnacle or anything like that you find it; whereas, with our type of survey, if that happens to be a pinnacle, it may show just this one quick blip, which could be a fish or darn near anything. We did apparently miss one pinnacle down inn the entrance of Sondre Stromfjord Fish Master's Harbor, and some vessel did foul up on that, but other than that, everything worked out fine.

In September, then, we moved south to Tunugliartik Fjord and we did surveys inn Tunugliartik Skkovfjord and the entrance to Bredefjord and that whole area. We worked over the winter which again was pretty tough work particularly for the survey officer because they were shuttling back and forth in the dories building signals, and then having to occupy them wearing thick gloves and all.

Donald R. Lennon:

The weather there in the winter is something to behold, is it not?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

It is indeed. Then of course during the winter you get these foehn winds and those are absolute killers. I'm not exactly clear on precisely what the meteorological sequence is but it has to do with the temperatures and pressures on the ice cap. Of course Greenland is 99 percent ice cap anyhow. What happens in effect is that suddenly you being to feel the temperature rising then maybe about 10 degrees above zero something like that and suddenly it starts going up at twenty, at thirty, thirty-five and then you know the wind's not far behind. When the wind come, it blows at full hurricane force. On one occasion, fortunately we were up at the base, the berth that we lay in was right under a high cliff so if we encountered the foelm wind there it went right out over the top of our mastheads and we



were in pretty good shape. But I remember one of them striking down and the anemometer blew away at 165 miles of wind!

We had other experiences. We spent the week between Christmas and New Year's down at Juluenehaab. We encountered a foehn wind down there. For a week, five days I guess it was, the wind never went below 75 miles an hour, which was a little wearing. At that point we were lying alongside a steamer that was in the harbor with her stern right up against the shore and she had as many as thirteen steel warps ashore. She rode it out alright. We were right alongside and the wind was blowing off the land and so forth, but that was a kind of a wearing time. We just kept sea watches the whole time. It was interesting. There was one ______ that came close to putting us on the lee shore. We got out of that one alright. There were some hairy times during the weather there.

I was detached from her in June, I guess, and they sent out a replacement commanding officer, a fellow name John Backland from Seattle. He and his father had owned and sailed a four-master schooner out on the west coats trading from Seattle up the Alaskan coast all the way to Point Barrow. It sounded like an absolutely marvelous type of thing. John was a pretty confident kind of guy and the crew all like him because the letters I got from everybody afterwards all seemed to like John Backland.

Anyhow, I went from the winter i Greenland to spend the summer in Miami.

Donald R. Lennon:

...It probably seemed like the South Pacifics!

Stuart Hotchkiss:

The two volumes of your memoir on the COOLBAUGH, look like they are very



thorough. I had noted a couple of items that I might warrant some additional details. You mentioned encountering an island storm as you were getting ready to return from shakedown in Bermuda in December of '43, after which you were ordered to search for fishing trawler, the St. Peter. Any more specifics about the violent storm as for how it affected the destroyer escort?]

No. She took it well, you know. It was nothing really that much out of the ordinary. No, I have no particularly strong recollections about that particular storm. I couldn't tell you now how hard it was blowing--it may have reached 50 miles an hour or something like that.

Donald R. Lennon:

Rough on a fishing trawler, but not much of an impact on a DE?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

That's right.

Donald R. Lennon:

When you were assigned to the Pacific, you became part of Halsey's Third Fleet.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Very briefly.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you have any direct contact with Admiral Halsey there?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

No. We didn't at all. As a matter of fact, come to think of it, I guess we were assigned to the Third Fleet right up until the time of Leyte. But we had no contact with him at all really. Most all of our orders emanated from the shore establishment there in Tulage.

Donald R. Lennon:

It was a full year that you were in the Pacific where it appears that you were involved primarily in convoy duty and anti-submarine duty in the Solomans. You did not encounter any enemy at all during that first year, did you?



Stuart Hotchkiss:

No, not at all.

Donald R. Lennon:

Wasn't that frustrating?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Yes it was. It was very frustrating. We'd go out for several days to pick up a ship at Point Able and then escort her to Point Baker where somebody else would pick up and then we'd come back to Purvis Bay and then the whole thing would be repeated later on. It was frustrating.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did it affect the morale of the crew?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

No. The morale was good all around. It was just we would have like to have had more activity but the morale on board wa always good. We had good officer sand a good crew and of course there were the liberty parties and such, and mutual shore activities, and that kind of stuff. It was disappointing when we first got word that we were heading back for Pearl and nothing had happened. We had these passengers embarked and we were just on our way. Suddenly, we got that change of orders to replace the DE that had been torpedoed off Morotai. Then things began to pop up. That was a good moral builder too.

Donald R. Lennon:

I've read a lot of World War II letters that were censored. You managed to get away with giving a lot more information in you letters than in ones that were actually censored by the censors. Was anyone actually reading your letters or were you just self-censoring yourself?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

No. It was self-censoring. But as far as I was concerned there wasn't anything that we said really that pinpointed location. I mean, for example, it got so that I dubbed Purvis



Bay "Sleepy Hollow." "Sleepy Hollow" was our base but anybody reading that wouldn't have the vaguest idea where "Sleepy Hollow" was. Really there wasn't anything that would identify, for example, Seeadler Harbor, Manus and various other places.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well now for the record in the copies of the letters as they appear in your books, the locations indicated on the top of those letters were added later, were they not?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Oh definitely.

Donald R. Lennon:

I was sure of that but I wanted to make it part of the record.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

That I'd put in the footnotes too, you know. Little asterisks and so forth. Giving up ships' names or whatever.

Donald R. Lennon:

But on the letter themselves, if you look at them now, you'll have Leyte Gulf or something like that written at the top of the page up with the date and someone looking at the copy would think that you were actually addressing them from those places at that time.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

No. That was just added in to key the letters in when I was putting it all together.

Donald R. Lennon:

When you diverted to Leyte, I think you were part of what yo sad was 738 ships that made up the 7th Fleet assembling for that invasion.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Yes, I think that was very impressive indeed. Of course Seeadler Harbor and Manus is a tremendous body of water and so it accommodated all those ships quite well but it was certainly in massive contrast to what we had been looking at before that.

Donald R. Lennon:

You included in your book a reference from Morison that mad reference to the unpleasantness of Manus, Mollandiu, Seeadler, and other places like that as staging areas



for Leyte. What was unpleasant about them?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

I don't know. I don't recall that particular thing.

Donald R. Lennon:

You had quoted Samuel Morison in your book on that.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Well I don't know what he was referring to really in that. I guess that was sort of incidental to what I was really taking from it.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well I didn't know if there was some hidden meaning there.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

No, I can't think of why especially. Hollandia was no problem there. I did go ashore to a certain extent. There was an island there some of the liberty parties used and so forth. But other than that I never got ashore there in Hollandia at all. Quite a few of my crew members did. They had WACS and WAVES and things ashore and so of course that created a lot of absenteeism I should say.

Donald R. Lennon:

In the book you have give quite a bit of detail about the battle of Leyte Gulf, and Surrigao Strait (?) and what have you, but you say relatively little about what was happening aboard the COOLBAUGH as part of that. Could you speak of what you were doing on the COOLBAUGH?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

We were working with the carriers, our task group, so I think that pretty well covered all that affected us. In other words we had the brunt of air attacks. In our case, I guess, with our task unit, we were the very first ones to get kamikazes. We couldn't believe it when we saw this happen first. As far as we were concerned we had a little shooting at the Jap planes that came in to attack and then, of course on that night retirement when we



tangled with that submarine, that was interesting. But otherwise it was a matter of plane guard with the carriers and scooping up survivors, rescues at sea. We didn't have action the way they did for example in Leyte and off Surigao and so forth. We missed a lot of the heavier action, certainly.

Donald R. Lennon:

I imagine the first few times your crew saw those kamikazes coming in they thought, "Gee, we could be back in Pearl now."

Stuart Hotchkiss:

I don't know. I think everybody was happy to have something to shoot at.

Donald R. Lennon:

Reading the earlier part, I thought they must be awfully frustrated by target practicing out in the South Pacific where they knew the war was going on and all the fighting was going on and here you were looking for targets to fire at.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Right. On the other hand, all the target practice was to keep things sharp. They all realized that and welcomed it to keep up efficiency.

But yes, I wanted to lift quite a lot out of Morison's book during all of that. Of course it was what was going on and it lent a perspective and also was fascinating reading. The way the formations were drawn up and exactly what happened there at Leyte was extremely interesting, so, in order to provide a perspective, my feeling was that you had to give a little framework of what was going on contemponneously.

Donald R. Lennon:

Exactly.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

With our day to day schedule it would be a very restricted thing and to know about the details of what was happening over the horizon at Leyte and Surigao beam in on what



was happening in Eriwetok and these other places, you know contemponneously with what we were dong, I think lent a little perspective.

Donald R. Lennon:

You mention and explained briefly about the "Hedgehog" attack. You're the first naval officer I have heard talk about the "Hedgehog." You want to say some more about that? Usually they take about just rolling barrels and I really wasn't that familiar with the "Hedgehog."

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Well the "Hedgehog" was these sort of spike-like mountains that these relatively small bombs were mounted on. The way they were rigged was the mounting and so forth could be changed in elevation and in train as well, so that you weren't limited to firing them just directly over the bow, but you had a certain control of them. When you fired, they all flew out at the same time. Then the separate bombs, they're thin you know, just simply go on down and they would only explode on contact. Of course with the depth charges you set them to a certain depth and whether there was something there or not they'd go off and that was that. But with the "Hedgehog" if you didn't get any response after firing you knew you hadn't hit anything but on the other hand if you got a response then you knew you'd hit something so then you carried on a pursued the attack.

Donald R. Lennon:

Seems like that would be much more effective than the regular depth charge.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Well they each had their uses you know under varying circumstances.

Donald R. Lennon:

You talked about the MOUNT HOOD explosion. They have never determined what caused that disaster to happen?



Stuart Hotchkiss:

No. That's right.

Donald R. Lennon:

Seemed like a rather awesome sight from the way you described it.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Absolutely incredible. We were a couple of miles away, I guess. I remember having sent off a liberty party and going in and sitting at my desk. There was a porthole ____ by, all of a sudden, first thing I knew was there was this terrific rush of air, then it was followed by the sound of the detonation. I went out on deck then to see what I could see. I've got some photographs of MOUNT HOOD a little while after the explosion from different ships. One from PETROF BAY and NATOMA BAY. I also have one from the liberty ship. I remember you could look out going by her and see a hole and you could just... lasted right through to the other side.

Donald R. Lennon:

That's awesome, it really is.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

I've got quite a lot of photographs and stuff. I have some from Pearl after we got back. We were doing exercises with sort of a mail pickup system that they'd devised. Anyhow, we had some photographers on board and they took pictures of us.

I had quite a correspondence with a fellow named Sam Mesat (?) and he did all of these acrylic paintings. These are having too do with the Surigao group and he really is a very good artist. I have a lot of stuff tucked away. The Japanese shells were all color-coded so they could tell where their _____ went, which made a lot of sense.

Donald R. Lennon:

I found it very interesting that the DE officers, even though they served in other types of warships, have a special affinity for the DEs. Do you want to say anything about



that before we close the chapter?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Well, you mean as a ship itself?

Donald R. Lennon:

About DEs as a class of ship, and service aboard them. Apparently in talking to a number of destroyer escort officers they seem to have a special place for them.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Well I think that's right. The one that I had was fitted with a turbo-electric power plant and she was a nice ship. Very nice to handle, with a very flexible power plant--a nice ship all around. I enjoyed her a lot. Later on GRIDLEY was built as a destroyer and a little different. At any rate, both ships were very nice. GRIDLEY wa a geared turbine vessel; I was very pleased with her.

Donald R. Lennon:

When you left the GRIDLEY, you resigned from active duty at that point, did you not?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Well, what I did was I had terminal leave so I had a couple of months to make up my mind on what to do. I was very much tempted to stay in the Navy because I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it as you can see.

Donald R. Lennon:

It was natural for you.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Yes it was. It was absolutely a natural. I mean on the BOWDOIN I couldn't believe I was being paid for what we were doing because it was just like cruising.. Then with the COOLBAUGH, that was interesting, very congenial. Of course, the German ship was another perspective which was a lot of fun, and duty with the GRIDLEY in the Mediterranean was a real lark!



Donald R. Lennon:

Vacation!

Stuart Hotchkiss:

That was a real house party. We had an awful lot of fun out of that. But then, there were a couple of considerations. In the first place, I just thought I didn't want to sever my connections here. Also, what I was not interested in was shore duty, and I thought that that was inevitable at some point.

Donald R. Lennon:

Right. And you have to have so much of that.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Yeah, absolutely. That I would not look forward to. So I finally decided when the chips were down, that I'd go out--leave the Navy. A number of my friends did stay in. Bob Brookings who was, I guess, the Class of '35 at Harvard. Brook stayed in. I didn't know him until GRIDLEY time. He had command of the sister ship, the CRAVEN. In the Med. we did not operate together, but we got together before coming home. So we came back across the ocean, to Brooklyn, then out around through the canal, to San Diego, and out to Pearl and all like that. So we had a lot of contact. He and I got to be good friends and we played tennis together, you know, all kinds of stuff that was very nice. He had a very interesting time. For a while he was assistant naval attache out in Saigon, before the Vietnam War. All of the guys who stayed in went to the War College up in Newport and then from there they went to different duties. Book went back to the Med. and had command of another destroyer over there, then the Saigon thing, and then at one point he had command of a LSD. He really had a very interesting time. Of course it took him all over the place and they didn't have any kids or anything.



Donald R. Lennon:

One of the problems with a Navy career is that it's difficult to put down any roots anywhere.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

That's right and Jenny fitted into that type of life very well. And so that worked out fine. And then Sterl Judson, who was one of my crew members on the VAGABOND, Sterl stayed in. His homebase is San Diego. I guess that Georgia stayed right there at home. Anyhow they maintained their anchors.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well now career-wise, briefly for the record, what did you get into once you left the Navy?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Well, I first of all, decided I wanted to change from what I had been doing before, so I went to work for a wire rope company, called Rochester Ropes, because it sort of had nautical connections too. That worked out fine for a little over a year, and then that, I forget exactly why, turned bad.

From there I got sort of a temporary job which had to do with sales and pruinging equipment, and stuff like that. With Orkill(?) which was a lot of fun in a way because June and I have been married in the meantime and so this meant quite a lot of traveling around so we drive, just married and all like that, why we had no responsibilities. We drove all over the country and that quite a lot of fun. Then from that we settled down into Pressed Steel Car Company which manufactured railroad cars. That was in the south of the Chicago area for about three years, until Pressed Steel went out of the car business. Again that was an interesting business because you were dealing with millions of bucks. Going on these car



jobs for freight cars, you know, box cars and hopper cars and the gondolas etc. and so forth.

Then they went out of the car business, so that was it, and then I went into the utility business. That was about 1952, I guess and then I stayed on with that right up until retirement which is 11 years ago, so I was in the utility business for about 25 years.

Donald R. Lennon:

And you stayed in the Reserves?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Yeah, I stayed in the Reserve until about 1958. But we lived in New Town at that time and if I had kept up I would have had to have gone on these different training sessions. the base was in New Haven so it would have meant going back and forth there quite a lot and then going to other activities and all. So I decided, the heck with it. Being awarded the Legion of Merit, why then, that gives you a tombstone promotion right there. So I had been commander right up to retirement time and so then...

Donald R. Lennon:

So you retired as a captain?

Stuart Hotchkiss:

I retired as captain.

Donald R. Lennon:

Unless you have any other observations, I think that kinds of puts the three volumes I have into perspective and rounds things out a lot.

Stuart Hotchkiss:

Yeah. Well, good.

[End of Interview]

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