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USS BUSH (DD 529) - Ship's Poetry

It was tradition that the first deck log entry for a new year be completed in verse. Initial watches for New Year's 1944 and 1945 are noted on this page.

A third poem written by the No. 5 Handling Room (for the No. 5, 5-inch gun) is also included. This poem, titled "The Fighting '29 Was There" was composed one night in late December 1944 while the BUSH waited out repeated enemy attacks.

Regarding the third poem, Handling Room crew chief Robert Aguilar recalled, "because the BUSH needed repairs and could not keep with the fast ships, she was assigned to escort the fuel barges which normally went at a speed of 2 or 3 knots....Every man in the crew contributed; a word here, a phrase there....I salute that group of 18 and 19 year old men for their courageous and rigorous performance, and their ability to sit thoughtfully in that metal hellhole composing a poem, scared out of their minds."

Click on a title to move directly to the poem of interest:

1944 Initial Watch

1945 Initial Watch

The Fighting '29 Was There


FIRST WATCH OF 1944
Hours 0000 to 0400

Steaming as before on true course 054
Checking 061 on a mission of war
Nine knots (88 rpm) is the speed of advance
Patrol thirty degrees, as though in a trance
Got plenty of steam, four boilers in parallel.
Enough stuff at the guns to give the Nips hell
Torpedoes are ready, five at each mount
Personnel stationed to make each fish count
It is degrading business, have amphibs in tow
LST's 459, 457, 465, 206, 26, all in a row
Anti-submarine screen 54 natural order of ships
BUSH (CDD48), BACHE, MULLANY, as in any other trips
Working for Doug, ComSouwespac
Condition one easy, no time in the sack
Taking artillery to Cape Gloucester - New Britain, not Maine
ComTaskFor 76 orders to blame
Dated 29 December of year 43
Our operation order 4 dash 43
0020 was disturbed to find, the radar operator on the line
Range 4.5 miles bearing 316 true
The boatswain mate call, all hands to GQ
Target was lost at double 0 four nine
Back to one easy, everything fine
At midnight plus 56 minutes
New course 085(T) our hearts not in it
Checking 091 psc
New Britain's coast we're beginning to see
Bring on some Japs, it's getting mighty late
Our thoughts they be - sail under the gate.

... P. A. Lilly, jr., Lieut., USN.

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FIRST WATCH OF 1945
Hours 0000 to 0400

"Steaming as before''- - that we can't say.
A full log we must write on New Years day.
One January, nineteen hundred forty-five
And, frankly, we're lucky to be alive.
We're steaming back from old Mindoro
Where the "Kamikazis" are plenty thorough.
The mighty BUSH - - the fighting five two nine
Using boilers two and three on the line.
That furnished all the power we need
Eight and a half knots - - not very much speed.
For were not alone, we're heading the screen
For that convoy known as Uncle plus fifteen.
Course zero eight five, checking one zero two
The latter magnetic, the former is true.
Commander R. E. WESTHOLM, USN
Skippers us there - - and back again.
Eight cans form the screen
For old Uncle plus fifteen.
Twenty three LST's, a merchantman too
And one Army ship completes our screen
Now there are those who sing of "31 knot Burke"
But it is not for him that we do our work.
At one easy we labor with might and main
For "Four and a knot Captain McLean".
ComDesDiv forty eight (sometimes ninety, too)
And also commander of this TU.
Seventv eight dot three dot one five
Has been busy as bees in a hive
Forty five GQ's in the past five days
Rough on sleep but with the nips it pays.
We can hear him now - - "Flash Red, Control Green"
This message comes from Demerit Fif teen.
Thirty-nine planes have been the splash
While the five inch roar and the fortv's flash.
The jeep tells us that bogeys are near
The nips from the sun start into their dive
A message comes on the air from Austere
Sorry no CAP, savannah is five.
Rear Admiral Struble is seventy eight point three
For him we sailed the Sulu Sea.
He got his orders to operate
From Vice Admiral Barbey, CTF 78.
And over him is Com Seventh Fleet
Vice Admiral Kincaid, mighty hard to beat
And supreme in command, most resplendent by far
Is "Dug out the Doug" the mighty five star.
Now we head for San Pedro Bay
And the bogeys over Tacloban way.
Through patrol dog - - of Bush reknown
Where we shot those two planes down.
We've come pretty far in forty four
But we've got to go a whole lot more
The new years goal for which we strive
Is Tokyo in nineteen hundred forty five.

... N. P. Foss, Lt.(jg), USN.

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"THE FIGHTING '29 WAS THERE"

On the 20th day of October, nineteen hundred and forty-four,
We landed our troops on the Philippine shore.
The day was mild and the planes flew high,
As they dropped their bombs from the Phillipine sky.

They came in numbers, three and four,
Maybe less and maybe more.
Some were shot down and some got away,
But no matter where they are, they will remember that day.

The task force was great, the USS NASHVILLE was there,
And so was the USS BUSH, she too, had her share.
The first day was calm and we were at ease,
The Filipinos were happy, for we had brought them peace.

At first it wasn't bad and we don't mean to tell,
But at dusk the first day, we began to catch hell.
When the Jap Fleet was approaching, our chance finally had come,
But we stayed with General MacArthur and missed out on the fun.

The General hit the shore, once more on Philippine soil,
And the USS BUSH was forgotten amidst the turmoil.
Then to "picket dutv" the USS BUSH was assigned,
To see if in Surigao Strait enemy subs she could find.

For three days and nights, the area was clear,
But on the 1st day of November, the general quarters gong we did hear.
Not very far off, several planes were in sight,
Some on the left and some on the right.

There were Bettys and Zekes, they came in fast,
And at the moment, we didn't know how long it would last.
It didn't last long, three hours in all,
And we came out alright, we were all on the ball.

The five-inch guns cut loose with everything they had,
Also, the 20's and 40's which didn't do so bad.
The Japs were astonished, by the roar and the blast,
"Tokyo Rose" called them machine guns, they were firing so fast.

We are proud of the Skipper, you could hear the crew say,
He maneuvered her nicely and thus saved the day.
He will be remembered as long as we live,
And for him any day, our best we would give.

We then returned to Manus Island for badly needed repairs,
But not very long did we get to stay there.
They needed the USS BUSH, they needed her aid,
To help bring to a finish the Philippine raid.

So now, in action we find ourselves once again,
We don't like it more than we did before.
And the USS BUSH may be torn, tattered and old,
But her life's history you will often hear told.

And, now off to Mindoro Island, her course straight and true,
Her decks stripped for action, her flag red, white and blue.
She escorted some fuel barges, and oh, what a ride!
The barges started to race and wounded her pride.

The "snipes" did their best, to help save her face,
But, the tug boats kept chugging and held a steady pace.
At the speed of five knots the USS BUSH is now in the lead,
And she shall get there first, although an overhaul she does need.

And now, as on to Victory we go,
We will move on ahead meeting our foe.
For no other duty would we ever trade,
Until we have finished the Philippine Raid.

... Crew of the No. 5 Handling Room.

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