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Volume 3369

Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Oldest War Correspondent of WWII

Reports from the USS Cahaba :: Part I
(Part II Continued at ERBzine 3369a)
1. Excerpts from ERB: The Illustrated War Years: 1945
ERB: The War Years Series ~ ERBzine 
2. Tanker Like 'Accident About To Happen,' Burroughs Feels
Honolulu Advertiser ~ July 5, 1945
3. Laughs at Sea Found by Author Traveling With a Naval "Oiler"
Honolulu Advertiser ~ July 9, 1945
4. USS CAHABA (AO 82) by Captain Lawrence B. Brennan, USN (Ret.)
Excerpts from U.S.C.S. Log ~ December 2010
5. Letters to Daughter Joan Written While on the Cahaba
Wartime Letters of Edgar Rice Burroughs: ERBzine 1027
6. and 7. Continued at 

1. Excerpts from ERB: The Illustrated War Years: 1945

May 25: Ed left Pearl Harbor on the U.S.S. Cahaba, a fleet oiler. He wrote of fleet procedures, being shot at by a sniper at Ulithi Atoll, a kamikaze attack on Kerama Retto atoll, and flying in a plane piloted by Lieutenant Tyrone Power.

May-June-July: Multi-thousand mile cruise on the oiler/refueler, U.S.S. Cahaba commanded by Lieutenant Commander Julius Burnbaum. Sailed to the Carolines and other islands in the Western Pacific. They came under sniper fire, and a bombing and kamikaze attack on Kerama Retto atoll. A spoof of the visit appears in William Brinkley's satiric novel, Don't Go Near The Water.

July 5: "Tanker Like Accident About to Happen" - News Bulletin appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser

July 15: Ed  Flew to Guam in a plane piloted by Lieutenant Tyrone Power., and then on to Hawaii, having travelled 5,000 miles by air and 11,000 miles by ship over a period of two months.

July and August: The articles chronicling his experiences appeared in the Advertiser. "Laughs at Sea Found by Author Traveling With a Naval 'Oiler'"

July 23: ERB experienced Angina Pectoris pain. Angina attacks increased in frequency over the summer.

Crew of the Cahaba
© Photos  2004 Danton Burroughs Archive
Not for duplication

2. Tanker Like 'Accident About 
To Happen,' Burroughs Feels
Honolulu Advertiser ~ July 5, 1945
Editor's Note: Following is one of a series by author Edgar Rice Burroughs on little known sides of the Pacific War.

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

ON BOARD A FLEET OILER, June 10 (Delayed) (UP) - The fleet oilers, although unsung, are a vital auxiliary of the fighting Navy. Without them, the fighting ships could not fight, the Navy fliers could not fly.

Having just completed the first 4,000 miles of a cruise that may last 18 months and take the ship almost anywhere in the Pacific between Pearl Harbor and China, I have acquired vast respect for oilers in general and unlimited pride in my ship in particular.

This ship, the U.S.S. Cahaba, is some ship. She is larger (longer over-all) than certain cruisers, and she is all-Navy. Don't confuse her with merchant tankers unless you want a fight on your hands. The merchantman brings her principal cargo of fuel oil and aviation gas to some comparatively safe anchorage. She takes it out to the fighting ships, often close to land-based enemy planes where she may be subject to attack by suicide bombers and suicide subs, the Kamikaze and the Kamashio of the fanatic Jap -- Divine Wind and Divine Sea.

The discipline and morale on my ship are high. I do not see how they could be higher on any ship. And the credit for that belongs, of course, to the skipper, Lt. Cmdr. Julius Burnbaum, USNR, of Brooklyn, 30 years at sea in the regular Navy and merchant marine.

Had Their Moments
Although so far relatively distant from any battle zone, we have had our moments both while cruising down here and while lying at anchor. No matter how often you have experienced it, the call to general quarters evokes a little thrill of excitement, accentuated by the sight of nearly 300 officers and men running along decks and cat-walks up and down ladders to their battle stations.

Coming down here, we were called to stations three times by our own planes falling to identify themselves -- two C-54s and a Coronado. Fortunately for them our skipper is a careful man, as they flew within easy range of our guns.

Close Call
Since we anchored here our bogies have proved to be enemy planes. One of them got within six minutes of us. It was reassuring to see our planes go out to meet them. What happened, we never learned; but no Jap got through to us. The disappointment of the gun crews was great, but they had it all to themselves. No one shared it with them.

Although not a combat ship, we are adequately  armed and well equipped with the latest scientific instruments for our own protection. However, with our enormous inflammable and explosive cargo, augmented by the considerable store of ammunition we must carry, we appear to an innocent bystander like this correspondent, to be an accident going somewhere to happen.

Cahaba refuellingCorrespondent Burroughs in Hawaii

and USS IOWA (BB 61) 
Third Fleet, Western Pacific, 1945.
3. Laughs at Sea Found by Author
Traveling With a Naval "Oiler"
Honolulu Advertiser ~ July 9, 1945
(Editor's Note: This is the third of a series dealing with an oil tanker 
which supplies fleet units at sea with life-giving fuel.)
AT SEA, June 15 (Delayed) - (UP) - For two days my fleet oiler has been ploughing along in a north-northwesterly course into noticeably cooler latitudes. We are in a convoy and under escort, and we are to rendezvous somewhere with a task group and fuel them at sea, the thing I will have traveled some 5,000 miles to write about, the principal duty that this $12,000,000 ship was built to perform. In addition, she carried some 150 tons of deck cargo for the fleet. 

This is a period of comparative rest for the crew, something they deserve after our last day in port when they transferred 72 tons of cargo from the deck of a victory ship to our deck in something like four hours, carrying 48-pound loads up and down ladders and along catwalks to all parts of the upper decks below the bridge, without a grouse, but with a lot of laughs. They got a great kick out of showing up the merchant marine crew of the victory ship, who stood around doing nothing. They are great kids, ours. 

Cruising 4,000 miles through a vast and empty sea endows minor incidents with importance. A whale, a school of porpoises, a derelict wooden box, another whale. They were the only other things in the enormous world of which we were the center.

And at last a ship. Below the horizon, it was invisible to us on the bridge; but our lookout in the crow's-nest picked it up even before the men at the marvelous scientific instruments with which we are equipped. In our little world the boy was immediately famous. He is good-looking black haired, 18-year-old Audrey Paul Guillory, S2c, of Crouley, La. His father, Pfc. Archie Gauillory, USA, stationed at Kunming, China, owned a meat market before the war. Young Gauillory ran it before he enlisted in the Navy; then they had to sell it. For every American family making sacrifices such as this, a thousand noble patriots bawled like hell about a 12 o'clock curfew. 

Another lad who won fame, at least in my eyes, is Joe "Red" Clennan, S1c, son of Benson C. Clennan of Chapman, Kan. Red, two years in the Navy, 20 years old, is one of the crew of No. 1 motor launch. He has seven sisters and four brothers. After the war he wants to finish high school and go to Kansas City College.

In harbor, No. 2 motor launch is moored to a boom that is rigged aft on the starboard side of the ship. The boom sticks far out over the water. From its end a Jacob's ladder extends 10 feet down into the water. Along its upper surface a four-inch board forms the cat walk along which the launch's crew make perilous trips to and from the constantly bobbing and cavorting launch.

Whenever possible, I always stood at the rail on No. 2 deck and watched this Ringling Brothers' aerial act, and at last my patience was rewarded -- Red missed the boat and fell into the sea. It was darn nice of him.

There are other laughs, too. A boy wrote home, "Tarzan is aboard. He is a war correspondent." Another, writing to his girl, said: "I smell under the arms, my feet smell, and I have pimples all over my body." Then he asked her to wait for him. An optimist. 

4. USS CAHABA (AO 82) by Captain Lawrence B. Brennan, USN (Ret.)
U.S.C.S. Log ~ December 2010

Dedicated to the Study of Naval and Maritime Covers
Vol. 77 No. 12 ~ December 2010 ~ Whole No. 925

Decemberís cover of the month is one of several sent from a Gunner's Mate serving in USS CAHABA (AO 82) during World War II.

Larry Brennan (L-6221) shares the historical background of the ship's operations. Then he provides an insight into the day-to-day wartime shipboard activities as recorded in selected letters written by CAHABA's most famous rider -- war correspondent Edgar Rice Burroughs.


Excerpts from  U.S.C.S. Log ~ December 2010
Without a shakedown cruise and within a month of her commissioning, CAHABA cleared San Pedro, California, on 11 February 1944 bound for Pearl Harbor and Majuro, arriving on 1 April. After two weeks as station oiler, she put to sea to fuel Task Force 8 from 13 April to 2 May, as the massive task force attacked the Palaus, Truk, and Hollandia.

Returning to Majuro, the oiler based there for two fueling runs to Kwajalein and one refueling voyage to Pearl Harbor between 3 May and 13 June.

With the development of the Marianas operation, CAHABA's base became Eniwetok. From 28 June, she fueled Fifth Fleet ships for their strikes on Guam, Saipan, and Tinian. As the fleet she served moved westward, CAHABA followed, serving as station oiler at Ulithi from 13 October to 27 December, along with refueling Third Fleet ships from 14 to 30 October. 

Supporting the Lingayen Gulf Covering Force, the oiler took station in Kossol Roads from 28 December 1944 to 26 January 1945, then returned to Ulithi. 

She contributed to the capture of Iwo Jima by fueling TF 58 ships from 23 February to 4 March 1945. 

Following overhaul, CAHABA sailed from San Pedro to Okinawa, delivering oil to the station tanker at Kerama Retto in late June 1945. Through the close of the war, she sailed out of Ulithi refueling Third Fleet as it carried out raids on the Japanese homeland. 

Clearing Ulithi the day after Japan's surrender, 3 September, the oiler paused at Okinawa and then sailed to Shanghai. Brief occupation duty at Okinawa, Formosa, Hong Kong, and Amoy continued until 16 March 1946, when she cleared for the Panama Canal and New York City, arriving on 28 April. 

CAHABA was decommissioned on 15 May 1946, and transferred to the Maritime Commission on 8 May 1947. Reacquired in March 1948 and transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service on 31 July 1950, CAHABA served in a noncommissioned status until 20 January 1958 when she was returned to the Maritime Administration. CAHABA was acquired by the US Army in 1966 and converted to a floating power station at Bender Shipbuilding and Repair Co., Mobile, Alabama. She served in Vietnam and was struck from the Navy List before being scrapped in 1971.

CAHABA received eight battle stars for World War II service.

During the War, CAHABA was commanded by Reservist Commanders and Lieutenant Commanders, but after hostilities ended she briefly was commanded by a Regular Captain, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (Class of 1927), and a former submarine commanding officer who was awarded three Navy Crosses before being relegated to shore duty. Captain William H. Brockman, Jr., USN assumed command of CAHABA for a few months in December 1945 through February 1946. More>>>


The most famous man to serve in CAHABA was Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of the Tarzan series. Burroughs was the oldest war correspondent in the Pacific. He embarked in CAHABA at Pearl Harbor in May 1945 and clearly enjoyed his cruise, in the Captainís cabin, through the war zone in the Western Pacific. Following are extracts from Burroughsís letters written nearly every second week to his adult daughter while he on board ship from late May through mid-July 1945. 

These letters provide interesting descriptions of life on board CAHABA from a seasoned observerís pen. The letters and some of the covers sent by Mr. Burroughs to his daughter are found at a brilliant website "Bill and Sue-On Hillman's ERBzine" found at

My deepest appreciation to the owners of the website, Bill and Sue-On Hillman, for their prompt and gracious agreement to allow the USCS LOG to quote extensively from the correspondence and to illustrate this article with selected images of Mr. Burroughs's letters and covers from CAHABA.

Captain Lawrence B. Brennan, USN (Ret.),
USCS (L-6221, 176 Christol Street,
Metuchen NJ 08840


Sunday 27 May 1945Sunday 27 May 1945
Sunday 27 May 1945
10 June 194510 June 1945
10 June 1945
23 June 194523 June 1945
23 June 1945
14 July 194514 July 1945
14 July 1945

Stern view of USS Cahaba (AO-82) at San Francisco
just prior to the start of her conversion for Naval service, 6 September 1943

The U.S. Navy fleet oiler USS Cahaba (AO-82)
refueling the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61) and aircraft carrier USS Shangri-La (CV-38) in 1945.

Part II Continued in ERBzine 3369a

ERB WWII CorrespondentUSS Shaw off the Philadelphia Navy Yard, January 26, 1937
See the Edgar Rice Burroughs / USS Shaw Connection

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