Please click here for Mr. Dunn’s memoirs in scanned PDF format. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read that gives a glimpse into what life was really like for those who served on the “cucumber”.
From a letter by Paul “J” Dunn, former ETM 1/c
© Copyright 2013, Paul J. Dunn. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
By the time the Cumberland Sound left Puget Sound, it had been given a nick name – Cucumber or for short, Cuke. While in Tacoma, there was one other tender in the same ship yard: St. George AV-16. There was a friendly rivalry evident in some popular night spots that drew members of both crews. The largest was “Happy Days” – a dance hall-bar – the St. George crew began taunting the Cumberland Sound crew by calling them the crew of the Cucumber.Our first stop was Naval Station Alameda where we picked up a number of new crew members. We picked up more in San Diego and even more in Hawaii. We joined forces with our squadron during a short stay in Eniwetok. We arrived on our duty station, Ulithi Atoll, January 1945. The lagoon is some 15 x 22 miles and at its peak in 1944-45, it “housed” some 690 ships, an assembly site for fleets launched for Iwo Jima, Saipan, Tinian, Guam, and it supported battles in the Philippines. Our assignment was twofold, ASP, anti-submarine patrol, and ASR, air-sea rescue. Along with other squadrons, we patrolled the shipping lanes serving Ulithi from the east and south from which supplies of fuel, ammunition, mail, food, personnel were delivered.
One major sequence of events began Thursday 1 Feb. 1945 with much of the crew assembled on the seaplane deck to see a movie – Something for the Boys. It started at 8:00 pm and lasted maybe 10 or 11 minutes when were called to General Quarters (“All Hands, man your battle stations!”) We huddled in Radio II with no messages until 89:15 when we “Return to Duty” and no movie that night. The next day we were informed that enemy aircraft flew over our position at 10,000 feet. Marine fighters were unable to reach them before they flew off in an easterly direction. They were lightly armed and able to escape our planes.
Two weeks later, we were watching the same film and we were called to General Quarters again, although this time we knew that we were accessible and we moved faster, but the same results with the enemy escaping easily.Sunday 11 March and we had managed to obtain the same film for screening. It only happens in the movies, but it did and we scrambled, but before we could reach our stations, a two-engine bomber, a “Betty” hit the flight deck of the CV-15 Randolph sending flames two miles into the sky. A second Betty mistook a short paved road on Falalop for a carrier and carved a crater in the island center. Some purple cloth found later identified the pilot as a Kamikaze pilot. On the Randolph, over 100 were injured and 28 killed.