Eyewitness Report of William G. Bartley, COX, USN
On December 7th, 1941, I was on board the USS UTAH when the Japs bombed us, I told Kaiser S1/c and Mechlaski BM1/c that we were being bombed by the Japs.
It was then that the bugler blew abandon ship. I went over the side and while I was swimming towards the beach a ship mate said to me, “For God’s sake give me a hand. I can’t swim.” I told him to take it easy. I swam over to him and told him to put his hands on my shoulders and kick his feet. We got to a motor whale boat which Ensign Barrington was Coxswain of. The men in the boat pulled the man in and tried to get me to get in. I refused because the boat was full and it was a short way to the beach.
I saw Lt. Commander Isquith in the boat, I couldn’t hear what he was saying but I guess he was telling the coxswain what to do. After swimming away from the boat I headed for the beach along with other men. It was then that we were machine gunned. I saw two of my shipmates when they were hit with machine gun bullets. After I reached the beach a truck pulled up and took a load of men to the B.O.Q.
We were there about ten minutes when a Lieutenant came in and asked if anyone could shoot a machine gun. I said, “I can,” so with about 8 other fellows we went with him, got the gun and mounted it on topside; we waited for the ammunition but none came. The shrapnel was falling so thick that the Lieutenant told us to take cover.
We went below and about 40 or 50 of us left the B.O.Q., ran across the flying field to a dock. While crossing the field I saw Ensign Hewitt with about 20 men and 6 or 8 machine guns. He asked where we were going. I said, “I’ll be D___ if I know.”
When we got to the landing there was a boat for us to take us to the USS ARGONNE. As soon as I got on board I was stationed on a 37 mil., by Younger GM1/c from USS UTAH.
It was about 0930 or 1000 then. I was not relieved from that gun until about 1800. After being relieved from the gun I carried ammunition from the USS ARGONNE to boats for different ships in the harbor. After carrying ammunition for about 2 hours, a boat came along side and the coxswain said that he wanted some oxygen bottles and water for the OKLAHOMA. We loaded the water and oxygen bottles in the boat and Harshman S1/c and myself went in the boat to the OKLAHOMA.
While the men were cutting [through the ship's hull to rescue trapped personnel] it was then that it seemed to me that all H____ cut loose, shrapnel and bullets were falling so thick it looked as if all of us would be hit, but the men that were cutting did not stop working to take cover. The man in charge kept saying, “Keep those torches burning.” After a while we went back to the ARGONNE. I asked Younger if there was any place a fellow could rest a while. He said he did not know, so I laid down by the 37 mil. for a little rest. I was relieved about 0300 or 0400 the next morning.
WILLIAM GLENN BARTLEYCoxswain, USN
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