April 06, 2009

 To borrow a line from the movie "Enemy at the Gates." "I wasn't expecting someone so prestigious."

I must confess that when I first saw that you had written about Ports in Australia used by the US Navy, I assumed you to be some mild-mannered Public School history teacher.

I have done further investigation and assume you are the Mackenzie Gregory of HMAS Canberra.

I am including the photo I told you about, of the Octans in a "Yard Floating Drydock," YFD-18. The date given for this photo is June 15, 1943, just 4 days before the date of the photos you sent me. I found this at a website called http://www.navsource.com.

The PCC-1169 was the last ship my Dad was on in the Navy. It was the one he had the most affection for, keeping an 8X10 photo of it on his bedroom wall for as long as I can remember back. I found a photo of it at the hullnumber.com website, but it was poor quality. It showed the "mousetrap" rocket launchers placed on the forward deck, but it appears the hullnumber had been censored.

I found this photo of the 1169 at atlanticfleetsales.com. The guy who runs this is smart. He doesn't show the photos he has, just gives a list of ship names and hullnumbers, with a written description of how many photos he has of each. I sent him an inquiry about two negatives he had of the 1169, and ordered this 8X10 from him.

Thanks again for the information about Kenneth G. Oliver's book on the Octans. I found a copy of it at Amazon.com, and purchased it.

Randal Wilson
Joplin, Missouri


Thank you for your very kind message, but you flatter me.

Yes, I am Mackenzie Gregory and was sunk at Savo in HMAS Canberra.

I am really but a retired Naval officer from the Royal Australian Navy who happened to be at sea or overseas for all of WW2, who has been lucky and enjoyed an interesting life. My passion is certainly Naval History at all levels and in all Navies, I value my contacts such as with yourself and people around the world, if I am able to help by unravelling some event, or find details of a ship for a relative that gives me a lot of pleasure.

Best wishes and regards.

Thank you Sir for the information. Also thanks for the photo of Octans. I had found a site that had photos of the bow and stern, taken on the same day, and also one of the ship in a floating drydock, but this photo has all three of them beat.

I'll also check into the book you mentioned and see about purchasing it.

Randal Wilson
Joplin, Missouri

April 30, 2009

Subject: Buried Treasure.

At about 2130 last night, Mom told me she was going through some papers and photos, and ran across an old "Whitman's" tin box stuffed with Dad's Navy photos.

I've included some of them. The photo of the Octans was dated Dec. 13, 1945. According to the book I bought on the Octans, by Kenneth Oliver, that was the date the Octans arrived in Shanghai.

One of the photos shows a Japanese ship, with one of the Octan's gun positions in the foreground.  The photos of Dad sitting with a dog, and sitting on a gun, were on the bow of the PC-1169. Note the port side rocket launcher is up. I think those photos were taken when they were in port at San Fransisco, which would have been around June, 1946.

The tin also had photos of Chinese atrocities or justice, I'm not sure. Just men being stripped and butchered and/or beheaded in the street, by men wearing official looking uniforms.

It also had quite a few Japanese Government "Pesos" I guess from the Phillipines.

According to Kenneth G. Oliver's book on the USS Octans, they were in Manila Bay at the time of the October, 1945 typhoon. I'm assuming that these storm photos were taken at that time. That would also explain the scarring seen on the port side of Octans in the photo of her arrival in Shang.

The engine room crew photo doesn't have my Dad, so I'm assuming he's the one behind the camera. With a crew that size, I'd also have to assume it was taken on the Octans.

I believe the photo of PC-1169 and PC-1244 was taken at San Fransisco. Note in the background is the minesweeper YMS-458.

Randy Wilson
Joplin, Missouri















Here are more photos of the typhoon at Manila Bay. I wonder what happened to the fellow who was down in the water?

I know the Octans was a civilian freight and passenger carrier before the war. I wonder if the Rec. room photo was taken on board the Octans? There was nothing written on the back.








Thank you for sharing the new find, I will ask Terry to add these to our original about Octans at our  URL: http://www.ahoy.tk-jk.net/Letters/Octans.html


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