JACK HEYN IN THE SOUTH WEST PACIFIC
(MEMBER OF THE 3RD BOMB GROUP)
Jan. 31, l942, 1:30 AM we board the U.S.S. Ancon. She was a combination passenger liner-freighter built in 1939, and had been converted to a troop ship capable of carrying 3000 troops. On this trip she would carry the 3rd Bomb. Gp., the 35th Air Base Gp. and the 49th Pursuit Gp. - later to be designated the 49th Fighter Gp. To accommodate that many they had bunks stacked 3 high in the cargo areas and 4 high in the ball room. The bunks were narrow metal frames, just long enough to handle my 6'1" frame, with canvas stretched between the frame. Definitely not the Waldorf-Astoria. After finding our area, stowing our gear and checking out the ship a little we hit the sack.
The U.S.S. Ancon which carried the 3rd Bomb Gp., 35th Air Base Gp. and the
49th Fighter Gp. (Major Bong's outfit) to Australia. The photo was actually taken
in 1947 in New York City
That afternoon we were topside leaning on the rail about 2:30 when we got under way. We had had some discussions on seasickness in previous days, but I insisted it was all your head. I would not get sea sick. We slipped under the Bay Bridge and as we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, a thought ran thru my mind - would I ever said back under that bridge. Thanx to an ever vigilant Guardian Angel and a Merciful God, 3 years 1 month and 8 days, almost to the hour, I sailed back under it on the General A.E. Anderson troop ship. As we sailed under the bridge we hit the ground swells, and my stomach did a complete roll over. For the next three days I didn't care whether I lived or died, I had never been so sick in my life. On the fourth day I was feeling like a human being again and started to take stock of the situation. We had 10 ships in our convoy and that included 3 Navy ships. The next three weeks were filled with details, a lot of reading, playing a lot of bridge - since money was in short supply there was very little poker, the G.I.'s favorite form of recreation. And an awful lot of speculation, as nobody knew where we were headed, but a lot of us figured it to be the Philippines.
Feb. 4 - We started calecentics, and believe it or not they were welcomed, It was a break in the monotony.
Feb. 6 - Lucky for me our Chaplain was a Catholic priest, Father Barr. Tonite we started meeting in his quarters every nite after the 2nd meal (they only fed us twice a day) of the day. We would pray the rosary and then have a bull session. We discussed every thing from religion to politics to women. In deference to the Padre the discussions on the later were kept clean.
Feb. 9 - Two destroyers split off from our convoy and headed in a different direction, but we were rejoined by two British destroyers.
Feb. 10 - We crossed the equator and the Navy guys had their King Neptune initiation. Later in the day we had an alert and the destroyers dropped back and dropped some depth charges.
Feb. 12 - Cruiser and destroyer drop back and throw more ash-cans.
Feb. 14 - Seems like we had been sailing in circles for a time, today we were joined by a smaller group of ships. Our convoy now consisted of 15 or 16 ships which included 3 cruisers and 2 destroyers.
Feb. l8 - About 10:30 AM we had an alert. Destroyers drop ash-cans about 300 yds. off our starboard side.
Feb. 19 - Lost to the International Date Line. We went to bed Wed. nite and got up Fri. morning. That's one way of getting old in a hurry.
Feb. 22 - The convoy split again and we were joined by a white ship. I would assume it was a hospital ship, but don't remember seeing any red crosses on it.
Feb. 23 - Once again our destroyers drop back and throw ash-cans, this time they claimed sinking a sub.
Feb. 25 - Came topside this morning and saw land for the first time in 25 days, it looked mighty good to a bunch of land-lubbers. About 3:00 in the afternoon we debark, board Aussie trucks (lorries?) and are delivered to Ascot race track. Tents were already up and waiting for us, and about 7:00 PM they fed us. All due respects to our hosts, I'm glad we didn't have to depend on them for chow the whole time we were there. And so ended a 25 day pleasure (?) cruise in the South Pacific.
Our time at Ascot was spent on details, loading flat cars, and just loafing about. We were allowed short passes and got into town 2 or 3 times, took in a couple movies, bought some necessities and sent a calbegram to the folks. Letting them know that we had arrived safely and were somewhere in Australia. On March 8 we boarded a cinder-burner and headed north.
Jack Heyn in the South West Pacific during WW2 - The Full story
© Peter Dunn and Jack Heyn 2013
This page first produced 1 January 2001
This page last updated 05 May 2013