Home
 
About Us
 
USS 'Frisco' Memorial
 
Foundation News
 
History Of The Ship
 
Stories Of The Ship
 
Stories Of The Men
 
List of Men Who Served Aboard USS San Francisco
 
CA-38 Honor Roll
 
Ships Bell
 
USMC In The Pacific
 
Join The Foundation
 
Donations
 
Add Me To Your Database
 
Ship Photos
 
Links Of Interest
 
Contact Us

Veterans War Memorial Building 
401 Van Ness Avenue. Rm.123
San Francisco, CA 94102

Toll Free: 800-569-6711

 

LINKS OF INTEREST

"Bruce Hale In The Orient"

 By:  CLIFFORD SPENCER

EVEN THOUGH HE WAS RATED AS HIGHLY DISABLED BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION FROM WOUNDS RECEIVED IN WWII CLIFF SPENCER STILL FELT LIKE HE COULD FIGHT ANOTHER WAR SO WHEN THE NORTH KOREANS POURED SOUTH INTO SEOUL ON JUNE 24,1950 HE RUSHED TO THE HONOLULU MARINE RECRUITING OFFICE!

THEY BRUSHED HIM OFF WITH AN OFFER TO TAKE HIM AS A RECRUITER.

HE FINALLY OMITTED THE TRUTH AND WAS ACCEPTED BY MILITARY SEA TRANSPORT SERVICES AS A LOWLY WIPER ON A SMALL AVIATION GAS TANKER OPERATING OUT OF INCHON, SOUTH KOREA.

YOKOHAMA WANTED HIM TO REPORT ON DRUNKENNESS ABOARD MSTS SHIPS BUT THE REQUIREMENTS QUICKLY EXPANDED TO OTHER DUTIES.

THIS THEN IS THE STORY OF SPENCER’S ESCAPADES IN JAPAN AND KOREA

THIS IS A NOVEL SPRINKLED WITH TRUTH THAT THE READER WILL ENJOY THE ACTION, DEATH AND SEX NEEDED TO COMPLETE HIS WORK!!

Below is a sample of

"Bruce Hale In The Orient"

THE KOREAN WAR WAS TWO AND A HALF YEARS OLD, WHEN CLIFF SPENCER BOARDED THE JAPANESE EXPRESS TRAIN IN YOKOHAMA FOR THE LONG TRIP SOUTH TO THE PORT OF SASEBO. THE PLAN BY AMERICA, AT LEAST, WAS TO USE THIS FIGHT AS A PLUG IN THE LEAKING OF COMMUNISM INTO THE FAR EAST, BY THE DOMINO EFFECT. THE FIGHTING WAS STAGNATED AROUND THE 38TH PARRALEL, NORTH LATITUDE. THE ‘POLICE ACTION’ WAR, UNDER THE FLAG OF THE UNITED NATIONS HAD BEEN VERY COSTLY IN TERMS OF MEN KILLED IN ACTION AND THOUSANDS MORE WERE FELLED BY WOUNDS. AGAINST THIS BACKGROUND MEN OF MANY NATIONS FOUND FUN AND RELIEF FROM THE STRESS IN ANY FORM THEY CHANCED UPON. THE UPCOMING TRIP OF TWO DAYS AND A NIGHT ON A FIRST CLASS TRAIN PROVIDED SUCH A VENUE.

JAPAN’S ORIENT EXPRESS

YOKOHAMA TO SASEBO

 The Yokohama railroad station swarmed with men and women wearing uniforms of many nations and Japanese Nationals who seemed to always be in a hurry. I noticed that most were men and almost all dressed in suits and ties, the impact of Western style dress in the last eight years was very evident.

With their version of a red cap assisting me, we found my berth, B15, car 8, train 1005, soon I was settled in a space roughly 6 by 7 ft. Since it was my first experience with first class train travel I was impressed with my accommodations. It sure was much superior to the ‘Challenger’ from San Francisco to Chicago, with the green velour back breaking seats, that I rode several times during the last ‘war to end all wars!’ The compartment had a sink but not a toilet so I went on the hunt for the WC, as I passed the adjacent unit to mine I was greeted by a raucous shout of “Hello Yank, join us in a drink to the Queen!” Since I wasn’t looking forward to a solo trip, I would have toasted Togo about then, so I accepted a paper cup nearly full of the vilest imitation scotch I had ever tasted. “To the Queen,” “To the Empire!” I dutifully answered! Introductions followed and I met the hardest drinking, fun loving, hell-raising and congenial, small group, of Limeys, it has ever been, my good fortune to meet!

Three of the celebrants were in uniform, all British Naval Officers the fourth was a sandy haired civilian. Causally dressed in a dark wool suit with an open collared shirt, he was tall for a Brit. 6’ 1” at least, and even in the dead of winter he still was tan and fit, he looked more like a sailor than any of the other three. The senior officer, a Lieutenant Commander with medical insignia, introduced a sub lieutenant we call this rank ensign, as his aide and a full lieutenant as his patient. The lieutenant had his arm in a confining sling with brown stains of dried blood near the wrist. He then turned toward the civilian and said “This gentleman has just joined us, informs me that he is Bruce Hale, of Hong Kong, and late of the North of England!”  I formally identified myself and firm hand shaking went around.

2.

After one more drink of their vile brew, I said,, “No disrespect to your hospitality, but what is this swill you are drinking?” They informed me it was a Japanese blend called Tory Whisky, also that their real scotch was exhausted on the way up from Sasebo to pick up their patient from the hospital in Yokosuka. They scornfully told me that he did not even bring a pint of his own stock, they had to buy the Tory from a peddler in the station we were just leaving.

Excusing myself, I returned to my compartment and with a bit of reluctance took two bottles of Pinch, Haig & Haig from my sea-bag. Holding them up on my return I said, “Now this is Whisky!” Cheers went up, and looks of disbelief, that a Yank would possess such treasures!! All reserve passed and they without further ado detached and folded back my dividing compartment partition, now we had a spacious three-unit suite with plenty of room and seating.

I glanced out of the window and realized we were traveling at least at seventy miles per hour as the picture postcard landscape whizzed by. Powered by at least six large diesel units the train had enough power to have pulled the fifteen or so cars through our Rocky Mountains! The relative flat roadbed didn’t need so much horsepower but the Nips were very proud of having trains that were always on time, so with the excess they could keep tight schedules with ease.

With the proper gray matter lubricant, the stories and explanations flowed in the easy manner of peers passing the time of day. I told them that I was headed to Sasebo to pick up a small tanker on my way to Inchon. Here I made an error because, ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships,’ is not just an old saying, such talk is prohibited during wartime, even though the Korean War was a different breed. The enemy had only a few small vessels left and no submarine threat existed in the classic sense. Dr. Meredith told me that they were crewmembers of the HMS Ladybird, Headquarters & Communications Ship for the British in the Korean Affair. During all of the light banter, I noticed that the civilian, Bruce Hale, added very little to the conversation.

Lunch was announced, by a crier, Bruce and I got up to leave for the dining car with a questioning look I said “Aren’t you gentlemen hungry?” They laughed and said they would guard the stores until we returned! As we made our way aft through several cars, Hale volunteered, with a chuckle, that one meal a day would suffice for that lot, that they were old Asiatic Pacific Sailors, except for the young Sub-Lieutenant, that would either drink or eat but not both during the same period!

3.

The diner was spacious, in its’ seating arrangement, our waiter was well starched in his white top and black trousers and very attentive. He asked me for my military coupon for free western style food, I handed him a chit marked for lunch and told him that it was his tip and would he bring me a lunch, of his choice, from his countries luncheon menu. He beamed and said ‘Arigato’ (Thank You) several times. Bruce gave him his order in Japanese and also ordered a small bottle of excellent rice wine. During our quiet lunch I noted that his skill with chopsticks put me to shame, he has been out here a long time I thought as we ate in comfortable silence. The food was great and from my limited experience the wine was an excellent choice.

Bruce produced a small cigar, which I declined, preferring a cigarette after such a memorable lunch. Over coffee he looked at me closely and then decided, I supposed at the time, that I was just what I had told them, a retread American trying to get back into action in this, the only war available at the time. “I am in Japan on business for a client still living in Hong Kong. He has interests in Japan and Korea but due to the Nip occupation during WWII and now because he is old and Chinese, he doesn’t travel much.” Wondering where he was going with such a serious conversation, I said that now with the communists on mainland China being active in their support of North Korea, his travel would also be dangerous in Korea? He agreed and said “Shall we get back to the party?”

One bottle of scotch had become a ‘dead soldier’ and the other one was about half finished when we returned. By now it was about dusk outside and still we thundered on south. The smell that I had noticed earlier was more noticeable, it smelled like our American brand of Raleigh unfiltered cigarettes. The only other smell like it, in my experience, was Marijuana! I casually mentioned that the smell of ‘hemp’ was pervasive in the passageways of the entire train. Lieutenant Dodge told me that it was not illegal to smoke it in Japan, and that it was quite popular with the ’natives.’

With our scotch exhausted, seemingly on cue, the train slowed to a stop in the station of a sizable city. The station was crowded with Japanese travelers. The British contingent rose and exited onto the station platform suddenly there were screams and shouts of alarm, then lots of giggling and laughter. My fun loving companions had donned very grotesque rubber masks and had jumped out into the crowd with growls and roars!! Bruce and I bucked the crowd and gained the platform in time to see our clowns running toward a row of vending stands. We walked up and down the platform to limber up our travel weary legs for a few laps and then lit a smoke. Our delinquents soon returned with their arms full of clanking bags of bottles and other packages, even the wounded Lt. Dodge carried a shopping bag in his left hand.

4.

Dried, smoked fish, oysters, and shrimp sushi were some of the delicacies spread out for easy access, along with several bottles of booze, when I returned to our suite. I picked up one of the bottles and saw that it was named ‘Sun Tory Whisky, the good doctor explained that it was much better than Tory. With a thought of “God, I hope so,” I sipped on a cup full of this, new to me, Japanese Scotch. “It is not Haig & Haig but much smoother that that embalming fluid we drank earlier,” was my offhanded compliment.   We dined entirely on this spread of food and when dinner was announced we ignored it. One more late stop in an unnamed city and I was getting tired and ready for the rack.

I pulled down my bunk, stripped down to my shorts and stretched out on a comfortable mattress, all this amid catcalls, boos, and comments of being a lightweight Yank, didn’t deter me from grabbing forty winks of slumber! Before sleep engulfed me, I tried to put my new found friends into perspective; Number one on my list was that you don’t send a Lt. Cmdr. on a 2,000 mile roundtrip to pick up an obviously ambulatory lieutenant without he is a VIP of some sort! How did he get injured, was he British Intelligence? Also, they were too familiar in their interactions with Bruce Hale, our erstwhile business- man, to have just met him in Yokohama?? As my favorite comic Red Skelton used to say, “They just don’t look right to me!”

During the night we had crossed over, or under, the Shimonoseki Straits that put us on the Southern Island of Kyushu, by early afternoon we would be in Sasebo. In the fullness of time, I regret not paying more attention to the cities, towns, and beautiful countryside we had passed through. I regret most being asleep while we crossed into Kyushu, I don’t know if we went over a bridge or through an underwater tunnel. The Straits are famous, or infamous if you please, for being the passageway of the 1905 Japanese fleet that invaded and conquered Korea, they also landed in China during that same era.

Slightly hung over I needed coffee, lots of coffee! All of our motley crew were of the same mind and with a bit of freshening up we made the long trip to breakfast. This time I used my military issue breakfast chit and to the envy of all I had delicious orange juice, ham, eggs over easy, and rye toast with loads of currant jam! Over coffee I asked Lt. Dodge how he was wounded or injured, without hesitation he said that he had been imbibing a bit too much and had stuck his hand through a window pane while trying to open it… Possible but, after watching his copious consumption the last twenty-four hours, I doubted it.

5.

Bruce and I lingered over coffee after the others had left. He opened up and told me that he had been exiled to Hong Kong to live with relatives back in 1936, for an indiscretion of youth. He said, “I am what is known out here as a remittance man, I receive adequate funds each month to live quite comfortably from my family, the only condition being that I cannot return home for many more years. Family Honor and all that, you know!” “Then why are you working for a Chinese Taipan? Isn’t it dangerous work being a civilian in a war zone?” He admitted that is was a bit dicey at times but very lucrative.

He continued with an apology for the Commander and Lieutenant, “You must remember that when they first joined the Asiatic Far West Pacific Command, England was the most powerful nation in the world, His Majesty’s Ships sailed with impunity all the seas of the planet! The Lords of the Admiralty, like your Battleship Admirals, believed that their battle fleets could fight and be victorious, against the new fangled aircraft carriers, even land-based aircraft. A bit stiff necked and unyielding perhaps, but until the outbreak of hostilities in the Pacific, only the Bismarck had been severely compromised by a mostly fabric and wire aerial torpedo plane, even then it took surface craft to finish her off.”

With an embarrassed cough of apology for being so long winded, he continued, “Then when the Nips rampaged through all of the British Asiatic Possessions, also the sinking of the Battle Cruiser Repulse and the Battleship Prince of Wales, Dec.10th 1941, by high level Japanese bombers and torpedo planes, marked the end of an era, they with a very few others, barely escaped with their lives by running south to Australia or eventually to India, all was lost!! Their pride was gone, the Asiatic Fleet no longer existed, their homeland, was being bombed daily by the Germans, the all powerful British Empire was in tatters, all seemed lost. Then slowly a colony that they had lost, and derided in jest for a hundred years, came to the rescue! They liked the Yanks but it was, for some, a bitter pill to swallow to be brought back from the brink and made victorious once again, by the uncouth and carefree Americans… So now at times they imitate them in conduct and manners, most times it doesn’t come off well, but it relieves the stress.”

“Come let us rejoin the merry makers and finish this trip in style!” Then as an afterthought I ask him how we could stay in touch, at least during our stay in Sasebo? When he answered that he would find me after he got settled, I knew damn well that this guy was deeply connected with someone, “Bruce Hale, who the hell are you, really???”

 

PRICED AT $25.00 PLUS $5 S&H, READ ONLY CD AT $15.00 INCLUDING S&H. ORDER FROM CLIFF AT palispen@prodigy.net  or 760-789-5518

I have 4 copyrighted books, "War Years, Boy/to Blooded Veteran", "Bruce Hale in the Orient", ( a semi true novel about my escapades in Japan/Korea during the police action), "Bare Foot Dreamer", the very true bio of my childhood during the Depression in the hills of Kentucky, and for the grand and great grandchildren, a delightful little,read to, childrens book, "Nakao the Oak Tree Spirit."

Also Available in CD's

 

copyright © 2007 USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation

webmaster