Jim Mains' World War II Experiences in China, 1945-1946

Jim Mains, ©2009

n Dec 1944, when my mother could stand my persistent pleadings no longer, she signed papers that permitted me to enter the service.  I was only 15 years old at the time but she indicated that I was 17 (the minimum age allowed).

On 22 Jan 1945, I enlisted in the US Navy for the "Duration of the War plus Six Months", indicating that I was born on "4 Jul 1927".  I traveled from my home in Pine Bluff, AR to Camp Robinson at Little Rock, AR where I assembled with other recruits and boarded a Troop Train for Boot Camp at San Diego, CA.  After 12 weeks at Boot Camp, I attended amphibious training at Coronado, CA, and then left the United States for overseas locations where I participated in naval amphibious operations.

I traveled as a passenger aboard several US Navy Ships:  on 25 Aug 1945, I departed Treasure Island Naval Station at San Francisco, CA, aboard the US Navy Attack Transport (APA-33) USS Bayfield en route via Eniwetok Atoll and Guam to Tacloban, Leyte, Philippine Islands - The ship arrived at Leyte Gulf on 14 Sep 1945 and unloaded its passengers and cargo at Samar; after a few days ashore, I departed Samar aboard the US Navy Attack Cargo Ship (AKA-77) USS Towner en route to Okinawa; about mid-October 1945 (soon after the devastating Typhoon on 9 October passed), I departed Okinawa aboard the US Navy Vehicular Carrier and Troop Transport (LSV-6) USS Montauk en route via Tsingtao [now known as Qingdao] to Taku, China.  As an element of our parent organization, Group Pacific (GROPAC) 13, my unit was in support of elements of the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions which had been sent to North China to assist Chinese Nationalist authorities in disarming and repatriating the Japanese and in controlling ports, railroads, and airfields. They also supported the Nationalist government while it reasserted its control of that nation in the face of anarchy and civil war.

My amphibious unit established and maintained a Boat Pool at Taku, located at the mouth of the Hai River in Bo Hai Bay, which is connected to the Yellow Sea by the Bo Hai Strait.  We were involved with transporting supplies and equipment between large ships that lay at anchor off the Taku Bar and the shore. (The Taku Bar is a submerged bank in the estuary created by continuous deposits of sand from the river.  Located some ten miles east of the port city of Taku - the gateway to the major city of Tientsin [now known as Tianjin], the sand bar effectively blocked large American warships from proceeding further up-river.)  Personnel of my Boat Pool were berthed and fed aboard the Self Propelled Barracks Ship (APB-41) USS Wythe which remained parked pier side in the Taku Harbor.   [More information and a photograph of this ship can be found at NavySource.Org.] This ship originally had been launched as Landing Ship Tank (LST-575) and later modified and redesignated LST (M) and finally APB-41 USS Wythe.  As a member of the Garrison Boat Pool, my primary occupation was Coxswain of Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM). [Also see this link to the USS Wythe... Navy History.]

In Jun 1946, I became eligible for return to America and discharge from the service.  On 5 Jun, I boarded the American Freighter and Troop Transport (SS Dashing Wave) and debarked at San Diego, CA, on 22 Jun.  I boarded a Troop Train and traveled to Millington, TN, where I received an Honorable Discharge from the service on 27 Jun 1946 (seven days before my 17th birthday when I would become eligible to enlist legally).  During that enlistment, I attained the grade of Seaman First Class (E-3).

I was one of four recruits who joined the US Navy at Little Rock, AR and remained together throughout our naval service.  They are:  Glen Marshall; Robert (Bob) Mathis; (?) Magness; and myself.  Glen Marshall and I have stayed in contact for several years but I have no idea where the other two have got off to. 

After leaving the US Navy in Jun 1946, I joined the US Army on 13 Sep 1947 and served in several branches of that organization until I finally retired from military service at Fort McClellan, AL on 31 Dec 1966 as a Sergeant Major (E-9) in the US Army Chemical Corps.  I then joined the US Civil Service and served in various positions of the US Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service until October 1982. At that time, I transferred to the US Army Chemical School (an element of the US Department of Defense) and finally retired from that organization at Fort McClellan, AL on 31 Dec 1989 as a Military Research Analyst (GS-12). 

After 1 Jan 1990, I have continued to support non-profit activities of local veteranís organizations, civic groups and clubs in which I have maintained membership.

The following is a listing of websites depicting information about the ships that I was aboard: