Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater. A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. I plan on walking on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. You can contact me at:

More on the USS SLATER (

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

8/9/2009 - Vets and their famlies

On some days we seem to have visitors who are vaguely aware of the Battle of the Atlantic and the Navy's role during WWII. This wasn't one of those days! We had scores of visitors who were navy vets and their families. They gave me plenty of material to write about in today's blog entry. The ships mentioned included: the USS Yorktown (CV-5); the USS Tinsman (DE-589); the USS Salt Lake City (CA-25); the USS Bennion (DD-662); the USS Maloy (EDE-791); and the USS Long Beach (CGN-9). And I know there's a few I missed (I just don't take good notes while I'm conduction a tour).

At the onset we were well staffed. I think we had seven guides to start with. We thought we would be luckily to give one tour apiece. A pleasant surprise - we were all pretty busy. I managed to give three tours, probably about 30 visitors in total. The weather was great for touring the Slater. It was relatively cool, and overcast but no rain. This kept us dry above decks, and the lack of sun kept it comfortable below decks.

A friend from one of my work places (I work at several places) asked about a tour, and I recommended Sunday Morning at 10:00. On Sunday we always seem to start slow. The biggest groups arrive right after Sunday Dinner/Brunch. However, this Sunday was an exception. We were busy right from the start. In the first group I had a WWII vet who served on the USS Tinsman (DE-589), and another family who's father was a WWII DE vet. I love having WWII Vets in a group because their reflections add an interesting dimension to the tour.

When I have children in a group I try to play a little game revolving around Naval/Nautical Terms. It helps keep them engaged. I'll ask a question like "What are you standing on?" The typical answer would be a "Floor!" I would respond "NO", in Navy terms that would be wrong - "It's a Deck". In the 2nd tour group I had a Navy Vet who joined in (with an interesting twist). He watched my language intently and was sure to correct me whenever I failed to use the proper Navy Term. It was great fun and I think the kids liked seeing me on the defensive.

The last group was a small one that arrived about 45 minutes before the Closing (4:00 PM). Since it was a small group we could move quickly, and I could tailor the tour to their interests. I managed to cover all the highlights. Near the end I was happy to learn that I was giving an encore presentation. They had visited a year before and I was their guide. Next time we'll have to make sure that they have another guide to give them a little different presentation.

In my first tour group there was a WWII vet who served as a fireman on the USS Tinsman (DE-589). I couldn't find many photos of the Tinsman on the Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive. The ship on the right is the USS Tinsman (DE-589). It is under construction with the USS Peiffer (DE-588) at the Bethlehem-Higham Shipyard.

During the tour we recounted many details concerning the USS Tinsman. The ship was named after
Sea 2c Carl Welby Tinsman who was killed on the USS Eberle (DD-430). Tinsman was a member of a boarding party on a German Blockade runner the Karin. The full account is detailed in this book concerning Marylander's Service in WWII.

One of the last reunions that the USS Tinsman had was a memorial for it's Captain, Lt. Commander William G. Grote, USNR. Captain Grote passed away in November, 2006 (obit.).

Following WWII the Tinsman rode out a typhoon. A typhoon, by itself is very dangerous. The one that the Tinsman had an added danger. While ridding out the typhoon one of the ships that the Tinsman was escorting was damaged by a mine. During that storm the Tinsman spotted an destroyed six other mines. The account was detailed under the Wikipedia entry for the USS Beckham (APA-133).

Shinyo Boat

During a tour, when I'm at the 20mm gun mounts, I usually discuss the Kamikaze threat to Destroyer Escorts. I've written a few blog entries about Kamikazes before.

During January 1945, in the Philippines, the USS Tinsman (DE-589) and the USS Lough (DE-586) engaged a groups of suicide motor boats (Called Shinyo Boats). The Tinsman Vet noted that his ship salvaged one of the boats and delivered it to Naval Intelligence. He also noted that the boat was equipped with two depth charges and a Ford Engine.

There's an excellent account of Shinyo Boats on the web site for the 503d Parachute Regimental Combat Team. The 503th encountered Shinyo Boats during the recapture of Corregidor. Unlike the boats that the Tinsman encountered, these boats were equipped with Chevy Engines. It's my guess that the Sinyo boats were manufactured locally, using materials on hand. The Japanese probably gathered up pre-WWII American cars as a source of engines. Sometimes they used Ford Engines and sometimes they used Chevy Engines.

There's a surviving example of a Shinyo boat from Kerama Retto, Okinawa at the PT Boat Museum, at Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts. This boat had a Crosby Marine Engine (made in Detroit).

A few other Links on Sinyo Boats:
Tosashimizu 132nd Shinyo Special Attack Squadron Monument

Grave markers at sea: Record of sea-based special attack shinyo boats
by Seifu Nikaido

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