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Interview on experiences in World War II

View at Kansas Memory

Creator: Stanhope, Stanley

Date: November 14, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 212787

Biographical sketch: Stanley Stanhope grew up on a farm near the town of Reece, which was about sixty miles from Wichita. During the Depression times were hard, he said, even though they had plenty to eat. His father lost the farm in 1939 and they moved to Benton Illinois where his Dad worked in the oil fields and he attended grade school. Stanley didn't go to high school, but said he always knew he wanted to get into the service. After Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, he would hurry home from school to read the newspaper and he kept track of what was happening in other countries. When he was old enough he enlisted in the Navy at St. Louis, and was sent to Farragut, Idaho, which he described as "the end of the world." The weather was cold and damp and nearly everybody got sick with what they called "Cat Fever." They were treated with a Penicillin shot every three hours. He was only there for four weeks, being trained to follow orders, mostly, and he talked about trying to teach a lot of the draftees how to swim. They had to swim a hundred yards and jump off a thirty foot tower before they could get out of boot camp. From boot camp he went by troop train to Shoemaker, California, where he spent about a week before getting aboard a troop ship and heading to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. In August of 1944 he was assigned to the USS Evans and they moved to Ulithi in the Marianas. They were getting ready to invade the Philippines, which he said MacArthur wanted to do. In December, 1944 they got into a typhoon and he said,"That was the only time I was ever scared in my life. But I am telling you, I was scared." He described how you could look around and see 75 ships, then the next time you would look out you wouldn't see any of them, as you would be on the top or bottom of a wave. Also, he talked about the screws coming out of the water and people getting seasick, although he never did. There were "three cans sunk, the 'Spence', the 'Monaghan,' and the 'Hull." On their ship they had sonar and he said when you were standing watch on the bridge you could hear the ping and you could tell by the different sounds if there was an object that it hit. On this destroyer there were ten torpedoes, seven twenty millimeters, five twin forties, and five, five inch guns, and also a radar man and ping jockeys so he said altogether a crew of probably three hundred and twenty. His job was loader on the five inch gun. They went to Ulithi, and got ready to go to invade Iwo Jima. When they were still out quite a ways he said you could smell the island before you saw it, "it smelled like rotten eggs." They were called in to anchorage by Iwo for shore bombardments and he said that was the day they were getting ready to load out the Marines. The troop ships came up and started loading out these "Higgins Boats" with the Marines . (This is a very difficult thing for Mr. Stanhope to talk about and he becomes very emotional at this point in the interview.) Their ship was only about eight feet out of the water and when the boys in the Higgins Boats came by they could look into their white faces, knowing that 65 to 70 percent of them would be killed out of the first wave or two. They provided the fire support for the Marines and their code name was "Popcorn." When the flag went up they didn't have enough ammunition left to kill a bird, he said. All the ships started blowing their sirens and their horns when they saw that flag. The first flag that went up was taken down because the General wanted it to go into the Marine Corps Museum so a second flag was put up about the third day. The "Evans" headed back to Ulithi and hunted up an ammunition ship, took on new supplies, and then headed to Okinawa where the worst battle in the Pacific took place in World War II. Stanley said that Iwo Jima was bad but Okinawa was Japan's home island, being only a hundred miles from Japan. That was where their airfields were and where the Kamikazes came from. On April Fool's Day they invaded, having fifteen stations with one destroyer on each station. The Admiral, Arley Burke, said that the destroyers could fight better together and wanted to put four on each station but they didn't have enough to do that so they put two on each station. They were paired with the "Hadley" doing "Picket Duty," and were on point fifteen, which was the closest to Japan. They were on a picket line and would call back if they saw any Japs coming and it would give them thirty minutes to lay the smoke. There were nineteen ships in the US Navy that got the Presidential Unit Citation in World War II and the "Evans" and the "Hadley" were two of them. "They called us the Champion Kamikaze Killers," and we shot down approximately forty, he said. The "Hadley" got hit by two and the "Evans" got hit by four. When they were hit it completely flooded the forward fire room, forward engine room, after fire room, and after engine room. They threw everything overboard that wasn't nailed down to try to keep from sinking and called in air support. Support ships pulled along side and they got rid of the crew except for about fifty guys. Stanley stayed on because he was a ship fitter and his job was repair. He said the only thing that saved them from sinking was that the ocean was calm, "just like a bathtub." After pumping water out they were towed to Ie Shima, the island where Ernie Pyle, the war correspondent, was killed. Stanley got to meet him and he said that he was a great guy. They were towed eight thousand miles back to San Francisco and when he got back he was put on Survivor's Leave. He said they were told to, "go home, get drunk, raise Hell, spend your money, because we are going to Japan," when they got the ship back up and running. Stanley laughs and says he did all that and then they dropped the bomb before he got back off of leave. He was sent back to Farragut to be refitted with new gear and then sent to Seattle, Washington, and went on a troop ship hauling troops back and forth. Stanley met his wife in Kansas City, they have four children, nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. His career has been spent as a truck driver and a teamster official.

Summary: Stanhope enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and served until on the USS Evans. Interviewed by Robert Elder on Nov 14, 2007, Stanhope talked about military experiences in the Second World War. The 2005 Kansas Legislature passed a bill funding the WWII Veterans Oral History grant program. This transcript is from one of the community institutions receiving grants. The transcript of the interview is presented here; the original video copy of the interview is available through the Watkins Community Museum of History (Lawrence) and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

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Title (Main title): Interview on experiences in World War II

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019-14-05-06  Mini DV Tape 

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