Below is the transcribed diary. We would like to give a special thanks to Brooksie Conery for the wonderful job she did transcribing George Crane's diary.
DIARY OF GEORGE CRANE
One-Half Century (1943) or 50 years ago – The war in the Pacific was about to begin – (Story of the war life of George H. Crane). September 15, 1943 after spending a week in the receiving station of _______________ California, I was assigned (transferred) to go aboard the USS Yorktown (CV-5) which was leaving the states with a full crew for Pearl Harbor. The Yorktown was a huge 45,000 ton carrier. Being a first time on a ship – just finding your way around without getting lost was quite a chore in itself. The passengers were allowed to sleep on the fantail and I found a nice cozy place in a protected area of the flight deck. The trip out to Pearl took 6 days; the weather was good except for one day the rains came and the sea was quite rough. A lot of the crew and passengers were sea sick and the heads were packed all the time. We arrived on a beautiful day off Diamond Head and entered Pearl Harbor at 1000 to tie up to an embarkation dock. All the passengers boarded busses to go to the receiving ship at Aeia which was a well-maintained base, where I was there for five days to wait to be assigned to my first ship.
Sept. 27. I was transferred back to the Pearl Harbor area to go aboard the USS San Francisco (CA-38) heavy cruiser with an unbelievable history since the days of Pearl Harbor 1941 all through the Guadalcanal Battle when it and the crew received the Presidential Unit Citation.Sept. 29. Early muster for the ship to leave Pearl Harbor at 0800 the skipper came on the skwak box informing us we were with a cruiser and carrier task force headed for Wake Island; it was a strong fortification of Japs that was too close to Pearl.
Oct 4 and 5 we bombarded Wake Island for two days – one of our ________ was shot at by a zero over the target – while spotting for our gunnery. But he did survive ____. Wake Island is a flat island only 7 miles long. We head back to Pearl where we anchored in the stream where the crew took liberty and took buses into Honolulu – some of us enjoyed going out to Waikiki Beach for a good meal at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and had a brief tour of the beautiful beach area
Oct. 31. Some of us remembered it was Halloween in the States. We got underway for gunnery practice for four days and were on gunnery practice for four days and were on patrol in the Hawaii area.
Nov. 11 we left Pearl with cruisers, carriers, and met up with a battle wagon task force for the Gilbert Islands which meant we were going to cross the equator, 00-00 longitude and 170-10 latitude – the new crew members were lined up from the fan tail to the well deck with Pollywogs for their_____________________ by the old timers (Shellbacks) – with big paddles, paint and sloppy goo – I lost most of my hair by the _________ _________ barber and had a very sore back side but most of us survived and received special Shellback certificates from the rustic Sea Dragon.
Nov. 20th , Early G.Q. at _____ when we arrived off the shore of Makin Island which was the uppermost top fortified island in the Gilbert chain. Troop ships arrived on Nov. 22 and started landing marines on Makin and Tarawa Islands meeting very strong resistance that turned into a bloody battle.
Nov. 29th. GQ at dusk, Jap planes coming from everywhere attacked – many were shot down by our gunners. We heard that the CVE carrier Liscomb Bay was torpedoed and it sunk in about 18 minutes. Five hundred of the crew was saved. Crew members topside said the whole horizon ____ up. Later the same evening, while top side in pitch darkness suddenly a light coming toward us on the port side that came passed us was the hospital ship Mercy headed for the many injured troops at Tarawa.
Dec. 4th. Our carrier planes bombed the Marshall Islands at 1210. We were attacked by Jap planes. From top side we watched the CV Lexington shoot the Jap planes down all around us. _____ defense at 2115 we were attacked by torpedo planes for 7.5 hours G.Q. One of the torpedoes crashed into the CV Lexington. We were dispatched to escort it back to Pearl. Dec. 9th – We arrived back to Pearl for rest and relaxation (R&R) off and on for two weeks.
Dec. 25 Christmas Day, the crew had a special Christmas party for the children from Honolulu with a big chow and Santa Claus.
Dec. 26. We had a change of command from Capt. ________ to our new skipper, Capt. H.E. _________ a mustang from Annapolis.
Jan. 1st, 1944. Happy New Year – we were all praying for a better year. It was reported that the Frisco has traveled some 87,789 miles since Feb. 15 to Jan. 1, 1944.
Jan. 2nd, left Pearl for gunnery practice on patrol duty around the Hawaiian Islands for four days.
Jan. 6th arrived back at Pearl for liberty. The weather was beautiful like you would never know that there was a war going on.
Jan. 22 finally got underway to meet up with a carrier task force for the Marshall Islands.
Feb. 1-6 arrived and bombarded the Coral Islands in the Marshalls and the second day troops of Marines were landing on Kwajalein Atoll, the largest of the Marshalls heavily fortified by Japs.
Feb. 7. Troops reported 286 of our guys were lost in battle with over 8,000 Japs dead. Stiff resistance continued – we were in GQ, our gunneries destroyed, two tankers and several small auxiliary job ships.
Feb. 8 left Kwajalein to go to Majura in the most southern atoll of the Marshalls for refueling and supplies.
Feb. 12, Left for Truk in the Caroline Islands which was reported the Japs have a strong fortification of their fleet there, the island was like Pearl Harbor to us; the same for the Japs.
Feb. 16, arrived at Truk, our planes bombed the whole area and did much damage, one of our new carriers CV USS Terpits was torpedoed, we took part in escorting it as far as Majoro.
Feb. 18. About sunset our lookouts spotted something strange on the horizon. We broke formation to investigate and found it to be a Higgins boat (H-44) we all felt a little fear it could have been used as a decoy for a Jap submarine or maybe a mine was aboard. The skipper passed the word to pick it up, no one was aboard and it was safe to bring aboard by the deck force. We found out that it was about 38 hours out of Majuro.
Feb. 20th, we arrived in Majuro for R&R, a beer shore party and softball game in the sand.
Feb. 28 received word to get underway for Pearl to arrive back for a week of R&R which was deserved by our crew. Rumors were we may be released to go back to the states - boy everyone was getting excited. But only rumors.
March 18th, we went out with the other cruisers for gunnery practice to find out we were going to war against the Japs again to leave in the morning for Majuro to arrive there March 20, for fuel and supplies and ammo.
March 22nd, left Majuro for Palau Islands with the fast carrier task force which is about 500 miles from the Philippines—and deep in the South Pacific.
March 25th, we crossed the equator 5 times all day long.
March 29th, we were attacked by Jap planes at dusk but no damage, our gunners shot some down.
March 30, our carrier planes bombed Palou Island and we pulled away at dusk.0 We were attacked by torpedo Jap planes, but no damage.
March 31, planes continued to bomb Palau and we were attacked by Japs again. We were relieved to return back to Majuro to arrive April 6th for a week of R&R, more beer parties and mail from home.
April 13, left Majuro with carrier task force for Hollandia in the New Guinea area.
April 15, crossed international date line and equator. Just one Pollywog this time. He said he was well received by the Shellbacks with a sore back side and hair cut.
April 21, arrived near Hollandia, our planes bombed it all day preparing for a soft landing of our Marines tomorrow April 22nd.
April 23, our planes attacked the Japs and the Jap planes attacked our task force with no damage. We patrolled off the coast of New Guinea.
April 29, our planes started to bomb the Satayan Island. In the Truk area we were attacked by Jap torpedo planes at sunset – as they came out of the ____ when they came into range, our gunners, shot down 15 Jap planes which was a great victory.
April 30, we continued to bombard Satauan Island, with much devastating results.
May 4 arrived in Majuro for R&R for much rest and plenty of mail and beer parties. On Margie Island we stayed there for a month.
June 6, turned out to be a very special day to celebrate. The skipper came on the PA and said he just received word “D” Day in Europe, while we were underway for Roi an atoll island in the western Marshall’s.
June 7th, Arrived at Roi at dawn for fueling and supplies in preparations for the next campaign to hit the Japs.
June 14, Day we arrived in the area of the Marianas Islands to start the bombardment of the small island of Tinian just off of Saipan.
June 15, continued bombardment all night, early attack of Jap planes before dawn, Japs shot down, no damage. Dawn our Marines and troops from the transports landed on Saipan and encountered very stiff resistance, we bombarded and received return fire from shore batteries – our gunner’s target was to destroy these shore batteries. It was reported that there were heavy losses on both sides. A Jap submarine was sunk trying to capture a Jap Admiral.
June 16, we bombarded Guam the big island in the Marianas. The Jap fleet was reported out to stop the invasion – we were dispatched to join up with the carriers and battle ships of Task Force 58.1 to intercept the Jap fleet somewhere off the Philippines.
June 19, early morning GQ we repelled Jap air attack. Our combined forces and task force shot down over 300 planes by AA fire and our carrier based fighter planes. We were in GQ all day and it was reported job well done. The Jap fleet was limping back to port after the first Battle of the Philippines Sea, we suffered no damage – only one ship had minor damage in our task force. We were dispatched to return back to Saipan and continue the battle.
June 25th, we arrived back at Saipan and found a very bloody mess; took on supplies and fuel and added our support to the troops onshore using our doc as spotters of Jap forces. We had a tricky job recovering our soc to pilot keep missing the sea ___ due to rough seas, thank God he finally made it safely and we all cheered.
June 26, we left Saipan for patrol duty for a week of steady steaming with not much excitement. Second night out we saw the hospital ship Repulse pass a few miles away all lit up headed for Guam to pick up the wounded troops.
July 5, we arrived back at Saipan to discover that our troop and Marines had almost secured the island of Saipan. There were Jap bodies floating in the water as far as a few miles off shore where we were standing by – the others were everywhere also they were well fed. Some of the crew afternoon mess was watching a huge shark swimming back and forth along our starboard side – the galley cook dropped a big beef carcass over the side, the shark tore it all in one bite, with all the decay of bodies, the smell was unbearable, we got underway for Guam.
July 9, we arrived at Guam early morning, we bombarded Guam to add support to our planes, they strafed and dropped bombs for four days, the Japs were well fortified, little by little they were bombed and burned out, there were fires and black smoke everywhere.
July 13, we went back to Saipan and bombarded Tinian Island to the east of Saipan, which is a much flatter island of the group.
July 18, left Saipan for Guam and patrolled for 2 days to take on fuel and supplies.
July 21, we started bombarding Guam to support our Marines and troops for their landing at dawn. We encountered plenty of opposition, our ships continued the bombardment until the 28th. The Japs were finally bombed and burned out and our troops were ready to secure the Island of Guam.
July 29th, the Big Day we all have waited for. In the afternoon the skipper announced on the PA that as of 2400 we were detached from Task Force 58 and were to be underway for the States – all hands went wild and even started to break out the blues.
Aug. 2nd, arrived at Eniwetok in the western Marshalls, picked up passengers.
Aug. 4th left Eniwetok for Pearl Harbor
Aug. 6th re-crossed international date line.
Aug. 9th arrived in Pearl for 24 hours.
Aug. 10th left Pearl for the states and Mare Island for overhaul and leave. The crew was preparing their gear and playing cards with the passengers (poker) because the passengers all were paid off when they left Pearl. Some big pots were won and lost here.
Aug. 16, after an _______ but uneventful trip we arrived under the Good Old Golden Gate at 0720 very slowly, what a great sight to see San Francisco off in the distance, in the afternoon we finally arrived at pier 22 Mare Island, everyone was waiting for their loved ones – and we all kissed the ground and enjoyed our welcome home sweet home and leave started the next day for most of the crew.
“Facts About the Frisco”
Traveled 53,065 miles
Used 228 tons of sugar
Used 456 tons of flour
Crossed the equator 25 times – 15 times in one day
Mailed about 114,000 letters
Received about 57,000 letters
Fired 4,500 rounds of 8” shells
Fired 29,400 rounds of 40 min.
Fired 5,500 rounds of 5” shells
Total cost value of ammunition $3,000,000
Used 5,532,328 gallons of fuel oil
Screws turned over 295,000,000 times
Received 181 bags of mail in one day
Ships been west of Tokyo.