Battleships of World War 2 - The USS North Carolina BB-55

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Alan "Jim" Campbell, a Man That Left a Legacy

My father, Alan "Jim" Campbell, served on the famous battleship the USS North Carolina BB-55 during World War 2. He was chief radioman on the ship and served in all of the battles during the Pacific campaign and Guadalcanal. He was also on the ship when they cruised into Pearl Harbor after the bombing, to the cheers of thousands of people standing on the shores (they were the first battleship to enter Pearl Harbor after the harbor was bombed)

My father recounted many stories to me, and this is one of them that I wrote word for word before he died (RIP 2003) My father was one of the bravest men I have ever had the pleasure to know. He battled stage 4 cancer for over 10 years with the same steadfastness that he served our country with during World War 2.

Truly, I understand why this generation of men and women were called the "Greatest Generation".

I am proud and honored to present my fathers story here about the famous battle for Torpedo Junction, which has been recounted by many historians and academics alike. Not only was my father mentioned in many history books but he leaves behind this legacy of his stories. Although the official story said there were only 2 subs in the area that day, my father theorized that there were actually three. Here is his personal story about the Battle for Torpedo Junction - and the day the USS North Carolina BB-55 was hit and wounded by a torpedo.

Dad, I love you. And this is for you and those left behind.

And for your crew members Dad, who you loved until the end.


The Battle for Torpedo Junction - World War 2


By Chief Radioman Alan J. Campbell (retired Navy) as told to Dorsi Diaz, his daughter

Place: Torpedo Junction - Southeast of Guadacanal

Time: World War 2, Sept. 15 1942 at 1445

Ships involved which were damaged or sunk:

the WASP (CV-7 - SUNK)

the O'BRIAN (DD-415, torpedoed then later SUNK)

the USS NORTH CAROLINA BATTLESHIP (BB-55, torpedoed)

A Survivors First Hand Account of the USS North Carolina Being Torpoedoed During World War 2

(These are the words of my father. We worked together on this story. He talked, I wrote)

On 24 July 1942 we're in the Nukualofa Anchorage and we left and our venture into fighting began. We sortied to rendezvous with Task Group 61.1 Our designated area was to stop any enemy ship who was to supply Japs on the shore of Guadalcanal. Our marines were to make an invasion on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942. On the 24th of July we had our first action. The Japanese found our ships and an air attack was repelled. Seven Jap planes shot down and score more probables had been splashed. We were then patrolling the area called "TORPEDO JUNCTION".

The day was great - no rain - I can see very clear. I was on watch that day - my job was to go to the bridge and monitor the message frequency in case we went into action. We are on Radio "SILENT" every day. My log shows "NO SIGNAL" every 5 minutes and we type on the log. We have a "TRANSMITTER/RECEIVER "TBS". The "TBS" was only for massages with "LINE OF SIGHT". It means that no ship can hear that is out of "LINE OF SIGHT". Later - it was not the case. We found that "SKIP JUMPING" transmission can be heard for thousands of miles.

"Man Your Battle Stations!"

I had my headphones and transmitter (radio phone) and I have about 10 feet of wire connected to my phones. I can walk around - if the captain needs me - I can jump fast to his side and make a transmission.

At 1440 I was out looking at the Wasp (CV-7) - it was always fascinating looking at how that plane got out of the carrier and when the plane came back. I have seen many planes hit the carriers, planes jump over the side, planes out of gas and planes hitting the water, etc.

Time 1442: I was looking at the Wasp CV-7. Suddenly I saw a big explosion and then another one. I was looking for 2-3 minutes. I thought one of the carrier planes hit the ship.

Then CQ,CQ,CQ, "MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS" (a sound that makes your hair go up!)

It's a sound that you have to RUN to your battle station. I was on watch so I was ON a battle station. As I was looking at the Wasp CV-7 I heard a message from the destroyer O'Brian DD 415-CODE (Buttons) that "3 TORPEDO'S WERE UNDER OUR SHIP HEADED FOR YOU"

My Dads friend "Hutch" wrote this book. My dad is mentioned several times

My Dad in his Chiefs Uniform - 2000 Fremont,Ca. Parade

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A Third Sub Was There?

The captain made a right rudder. I made sure I got a good grip on the railing to see the torpedo - it was very deep and I couldn't see anything.

IT HIT.

I watched a big explosion. It was higher than the mast. I jump back on the bridge - then it was bedlam.

We had some destroyer to help us get out of the area - we had many CQ's after it - it seems other Jap subs were after us (Later we found out that 8 Jap subs were in the area) We had many depth charges in the water from the DD's trying to hit a sub. Finally went to the Fiji Islands for emergency repairs. It was fascinating to see the welding under the water, we watched for hours on the deck.

Captain Blee had a very good article (referring to a later news article about the incident) It was interesting to me (see his article and the article on the Wasp)

As I see it, the torpedo that hit our ship came from 350 degrees true. - then at the same time the O'Brian was hit from 350 degrees true.

I THINK THE THIRD SUB GOT US.

The DD Mustin got a sonar contact 3,000 yards southwest of the O'Brian - speculation is that 3 SUBS WERE IN THE AREA. The Jap sub 1-19 and 1-15 did not survive the war (see the diagram in which I think that the third Jap sub hit us?)

@copyright Dorsi Diaz 2011

(Dorsi Diaz is a freelance writer/publisher here on the internet and writes about a variety of topics including God, health, ADHD and political conspiracies. Please feel free to leave a comment and thanks for reading. If you have enjoyed this article please share it with your friends)

My Dad - Alan "Jim" Campbell, Chief Radioman on the USS North Carolina, BB-55

My dad Alan "Jim" Campbell, wore his chiefs uniform at a gathering for the battleship USS North Carolinas, BB-55. 50th anniversary
My dad Alan "Jim" Campbell, wore his chiefs uniform at a gathering for the battleship USS North Carolinas, BB-55. 50th anniversary | Source

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Comments 16 comments

Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

Hey Dorsi, thank you for sharing this story about your father. It's always a pleasure to learn from those who have been there. All kinds of things are remembered and passed on. I'm glad to see he shared parts of his life with you. War can have different effects on people and how they recall them, sometimes is in chunks and not clearly. So retain better recall. It appears as though he did a job at remembering. I appreciate you sharing. :)


DiamondRN profile image

DiamondRN 5 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

Good stuff. Thanks from a Vietnam combat vet, Dorsi.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Cagsil) War had a big impact on him, I remember 50 years later that he would still get teary eyed recounting certain events.

@etsllaeffects) Thanks for sharing that. It encourages me about the human race!

@DiamondRN) Thanks for reading and defending our country. My brother was in the Vietnam was but stationed over in Guam at the time.


SirDent 5 years ago

Very detailed account. I salute your father for serving during WW2. Many men lost their lives fighting for the freedom we now possess.

If you are planning on doing a series of these hubs, I have some photos ot the Battleship USS Wisconsin that I took personally where it is docked in Norfolk. I wouldn't mind lending them to you if you want to use them.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

It's really wonderful, Dorsi, that you had the opportunity to talk with your father about his World War II experiences. This was particularly interesting to me because I lost my Uncle Bill near Guadalcanal on Sept. 5, 1942 when his ship, the USS Gregory, was sunk only 10 days from the time of your father's ship was torpedoed. I wrote my uncle's story on my blog: http://torpeykin.blogspot.com/

Your father and my uncle may very well have crossed paths. Thank you for telling his story.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@SirDent) Thanks you for the kind offer. I may take you up on it. As I get more of my fathers things out I will be writing more. He left so many interesting things behind. Quite a legacy.

@William F. Torpey) Thanks William. Doing this hub has probably been the most satisfying thing I have done in so long. I know my dad would have been so happy that I wrote about this. Strange to think that our family was in the same vicinity fighting the same battle. Wow.

I'm off to check out your blog!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for sharing this wonerful story with us. Those men must have gone through hell. How could any government declare war? They don't know what they are/were doing.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@hello, hello) I agree!!


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

God bless your father Dorsi and thank you for this. Although I've visited the ship in Wilmington several times in my life I didn't know the history all that well. To read a first person account like this as told by your father is ..well, i'm getting sentimental these days. Truly thank you.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 5 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Alastar) What a wonderful comment. My dad would be so pleased that people are enjoying his story. Glad to hear you have seen the ship. I hope to visit it one day!


Ralph Phelps 4 years ago

My father, Raphael Phelps, was Boswain's Mate 1C aboard at the torpedo hit. Helped with damage control. May have known your father. I am finally visiting the battleship memorial next week. Thanks to all who served.


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 4 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Ralph) That is very cool that our dads served together. I am jealous you get to go see the USS North Carolina. My mom and dad went back there twice in the 90's for the ships and war anniversary. I wish I had gone - I really regret it. My dad has lots of books on the ship and names of his friends written down - I am going to look up your dads name.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

It's so great that you captured your dad's story, Dorsi. Congrats on its selection as Editors Choice!


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 3 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@Deborah) Thank you so much my friend. My dad was my hero in so many ways. I miss him a lot.


stevarino profile image

stevarino 2 years ago from East Central Indiana

I visited the USS North Carolina on the Cape Fear River in Wilmington as a kid growing up in Durham. It was an awesome experience.

Excellent article!


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 2 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area Author

@stevarino) I'm jealous, I have never been there! Hopefully one day. So glad you got to see "The Showboat". Thanks for coming by and reading.

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