Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Captain of the Whip: December 10, 1941, Cavite, P.I.

The following account is as written in my father's own hand after the action. His account is somewhat longer, and there are other parts of the larger story that may be posted on this blog later. I chose this date for this excerpt, as tomorrow marks the anniversary of the day upon which the events occurred. Most people know of the action recounted, which followed the attack on the base at Pearl Harbor by someting like 48 hours. Here is a piece of that history:

The Captain of the Whip: December 10, 1941, Cavite, P.I.

The commands: “General Quarters!” “Heave Around!” got the Whippoorwill to Battle Stations and under way. We headed for Manila. Submarines were coming out as fast as they could from their buoys and from alongside tenders. They submerged when they were clear of the breakwater.

Then we saw the enemy. All sorts of planes, light bombers, fighters, heavy bombers, were there. There appeared to be over a hundred of them. Our big, slow-moving flying boats were flying toward Corregidor, keeping close to the water.

An attack was started on our starboard side, toward Nichols Field, an Army airport. We shot at a number of planes in that direction. Two planes were hit and crashed. We were shooting at them but so were a lot of other people. Every once in a while a submarine would show his conning tower, so we would not run over them. They became quite a nuisance, and it seemed that we annoyed some sub or other every time we turned.

After we neared the breakwater we turned and headed toward San Nicholas Shoal. Bombs were dropped on Manila Harbor among the merchant ships, but only one was hit. The attack on the navy yard was now in progress. We kept up a fire on low flying fighters and dive bombers coming out from attacks on the navy yard. One came very near to us, coming up on our port quarter. The after machine guns fired at him, and some light colored smoke came out of his fuselage. He tried some kind of maneuver, banking his plane and putting a burst of machine gun bullets about 50 feet ahead of the ship. We put on full left rudder and went from “Ahead” to “Full Astern” in an effort to let him get ahead of the Whip. He crossed close aboard ahead of us and fell into the water, sinking immediately.

Cavite Navy Yard was a mass of flame. We headed for the yard to see if we could help, and to see if our boat was still there. The wooden boat had been left in Canacao Bay to reduce the splinter hazard on board the Whip. We had left one man with the boat, the boat engineer, armed with a Springfield rifle.

About this time the Isabel reported over the radio telephone that she was in communication with the navy yard. I asked her to have the navy yard tell me where they needed us most. The navy yard never answered. We saw the yard signal station. It was flying a distress signal - I said, “Boy! she isn’t lying! She is in distress if anything ever was!” It was difficult to decide where to go. The Pidgeon was playing her hoses on some barges that were burning at the end of Guadeloupe Pier. I made out a destroyer at the small pier between Machina Wharf and Guadeloupe Pier.

I sent the Pidgeon a signal: “The Whip is going in and take out that destroyer.” We went in between Guadeloupe Pier and Machina Wharf. It was a mess. It was the Peary. The ship had many little fires all over her. She had been strafed and had been struck by bomb fragments and debris. The war heads and torpedo air flasks in the torpedo overhaul shop on Machina Wharf next to her were exploding. The air was filled with clouds of debris.

A small motorboat under the command of an Ensign, a young reserve officer, attached to Inshore Patrol, assisted in the efforts to take out the Peary. The heat and explosions made ship handling difficult. The pressure would be on one side and then on the other. The Ensign tried to take lines from the “Whip” to the Peary without success as we made our approach. We put our bow against her stern. We made fast with a 6-inch line. We backed and parted the line. The heat or a falling fragment might have caused the line to part. We tried it again. Again the line parted. It became more difficult to keep in position for backing out. The wind and the current kept working to put the Whip broadside to the end of the pier. This was bad.

Guadeloupe Pier and Machina Wharf each attended a good distance beyond this little pier. We came up to the Peary again. We went quite far up on her port quarter. This was the side away from the pier. I sent a man over to the Peary to make sure that she had no mooring lines to the pier. The Whip’s man reported when the lines were clear. We backed and she came away.

We backed clear of the dock. There was shoal water not far from the piers. We went alongside the Peary. This was more easily done than jackknifing her. The Whip went between the Peary and the burning barges off Guadeloupe Pier. We had all of our hoses going all of the time. Once in a while we played the water on the bridge to cool that place off. The men on deck were kept cool by hosing them down when it became too hot.

The Peary was short of men. Some of her officers and crew had been killed in the navy yard where they were working. Others were in the navy yard but unable to get back to the ship.

We went out of the navy yard searching for the target raft mooring buoy. I asked the acting executive officer of the Peary whether he had any other ideas to suggest concerning the Peary. He replied in the negative. There was a great deal of loose gear floating around in the water. It seemed that we might not be able to find the buoy. The Peary had no anchors aboard. We connected one of our bower anchors to a heavy piece of wire rope which was led from the bow of the Peary. After getting ready to anchor the Peary we found the buoy and moored her to it. The Peary and her surviving crew were saved.


Anonymous said...


ert08kenda said...


任何時間 said...

When everything is coming your way, you are in the wrong lane.............................................

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Am looking for info on a trip to Ireland and BallyFerriter. The usual, what to see, where to go and what to do, without being totally ripped off. Any help will be much appreciated. Thank you in advance. Please email me at:

Steve Ferriter