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Clearfield (APA-142)

1945–1946

A county in Pennsylvania.

(APA-142: displacement 6,720; length 445'; beam 62'; draft 24'; speed 17.7 knots; complement 536; troop accommodation 1,561; armament 1 5-inch, 12 40-millimeter, and 10 20-millimeter; class Haskell)

Clearfield (APA-142) was laid down on 15 September 1944, at Wilmington, Calif., by California Shipbuilding Corp., under a Maritime Commission contract (M.C.V. Hull 58); launched on 21 November 1944; sponsored by Mrs. F. L. Chambers; acquired by the Navy on 11 January 1945; and commissioned on 12 January 1945, Capt. Frederick C. Stelter, Jr., in command.

Following Clearfield’s commissioning, the ship worked up and carried out trials and drills along the west coast. In the meanwhile, Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) 106, Lt. Cmdr. Paul L. A. Keiser, officer in charge, had been activated at the Naval Construction Training Center at Camp Peary near Williamsburg, Va., on 14 July 1943. Just three months later the battalion was deactivated at the Construction Battalion Replacement Depot at Camp Parks, Calif. The battalion was activated a second time, however, at Camp Peary on 19 October 1943, and following training there and at Camp Endicott at Quonset Point, R.I., and Camp Parks, the Seabees arrived at Port Hueneme, Calif., on 29 February 1944. On the 1st of April the battalion was split into two sections. Section 2 shipped out for Pearl Harbor, T.H. (16–23 July), to deploy to the fighting against the Japanese in the Pacific.

Section 1 and their cargo, meanwhile, boarded Clearfield at Port Hueneme and turned westward for Pearl Harbor (9–15 March 1945). On the 20th the ship and her passengers stood down that channel and formed up with Commander Escort Division (CortDiv) 14 into a convoy comprising escort ship Gillmore (DE-18), Arenac (APA-128), Clearfield, J. Franklin Bell (APA-16), Sherburne (APA-205), Windsor (APA-55), and transport General Omar Bundy (AP-152). Later in the day, they rendezvoused with part of Task Force (TF) 19.8.17, consisting of Austin (DE-15), Doneff (DE-49), Edward C. Daly (DE-17), and Engstrom (DE-50).

The convoy crossed the International Date Line on the 25th, and two days later reached Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. Clearfield’s commanding officer served as the officer in tactical command (OTC) as she led Aulick (DD-569) and C2 type freighter Typhoon, operated by the Mississippi Shipping Company, Inc., for the War Shipping Administration, out to sea and turned westward on 1 April. The following day, the T2 tanker Sunset (Pacific Tankers, Inc.) joined the formation and took station astern of Typhoon, but detached on the 3rd and proceeded independently. Mullany (DD-528) and Dempsey (DE-26) rendezvoused with the convoy briefly overnight on the 10th and 11th and helped Aulick screen the ships.

Aulick reported a sound contact that she suspected might be a Japanese submarine at 1818 on 12 April 1945, and Clearfield executed an emergency turn to starboard. The sonar operators continued to search for their elusive prey but ultimately determined the contact to be false echoes. The ships arrived at Ulithi in the Carolines, and Clearfield anchored in berth 115. Brig. Gen. Charles E. Thomas Jr., USAAF, the XXI Bomber Command’s chief of staff, and Col. L. J. Greeley, USAAF, boarded for transportation. The ship later shifted to berth 210 and reported to Okanogan (APA-220).

Clearfield joined Task Group (TG) 55.8, also comprising Okanogan as the flagship of the group, Transport Division (TransDiv) 56, and the OTC, destroyer Mustin (DD-413), the escort commander, Abercrombie (DE-343), Gilligan (DE-508), Oberrender (DE-344), Jerauld (APA-174), attack cargo ships Benoir (AKA-74), Goshen (AKA-108), Lumen (AKA-30), Trousdale (AKA-79), Valencia (AKA-81), Venango (AKA-82), and Victory ships Bozeman Victory, Gretna Victory, and Kelso Victory. On the morning of the 13th they turned their prows westward and northward toward Okinawa in the Ryūkyūs. A lookout on board Okanogan sighted a floating mine on the 16th and Gilligan detached and searched for but could locate the deadly device. The ships dropped anchor off Okinawa on 17 April, and at 1051 Clearfield anchored in berth H-180 at Hagushi Anchorage. About ten Japanese planes roared in over the anchorage later that night but they attacked other ships.

The following afternoon the ship shifted to Ie Shima [lejima], but upon reaching that anchorage received further orders directing her to Nago Wan on western Okinawa, where she anchored in berth E-9 at 1739. Enemy aircraft sent Clearfield’s men to alert again that evening at 1922 and she made smoke but the Japanese struck other targets. A second raid followed suit with similar results. A dozen officers and eight men of the Seabee’s Garrison Beach Party went ashore early on the morning of the 19th. Clearfield then stood out and went to Hagushi, where another air raid sent her crewmen scrambling to man their battle stations that evening, though the planes continued on to assail other vessels. Additional raiders flew overhead that night more than once, and each time the ship called her exhausted crew to general quarters.

Clearfield got underway at 1220 on 20 April 1945, and at 1447 anchored in the transport area at Ie Shima. There she landed a Garrison Beach Party of the Seabees’ Section 1 consisting of one officer and 21 men. Clearfield returned to H-180 at Hagushi just in time for another enemy air raid. The ship made smoke and escaped without injury. About five or six enemy planes appeared in the vicinity just after midnight, and Clearfield again made smoke but the aircraft winged off without attacking her. The increasingly seasoned ship shifted berths on the morning of the 21st, and then joined amphibious force flagship Panamint (AGC-13), Chilton (APA-38), La Grange (APA-124), and Tazewell (APA-109) of TransDiv 17 and steamed to Ie Shima. She returned to Hagushi later that day, and manned battle stations more than once. “Undetermined number of enemy planes appeared in vicinity,” Clearfield reported during the first watch, but they did not attack her. The ship made smoke but then secured, though her crew rushed to their guns a second time when she received an “Air Flash Red, Control Yellow” at 2038. At 2113 a plane swooped overhead and the 40-millimeter gunners unleashed 16 rounds on the (apparently) Japanese intruder but the aircraft disappeared into the darkness. About 10–12 planes flew into the area at 2224 but did not attack the ship, and her exhausted crew finally stood down so that those off watch could catch a few hours of sleep. The attacks marked a nearly continuous cycle of air raids while Clearfield operated in the battle.

Brig. Gen. Thomas and Col. Greeley disembarked for their assignments ashore on the 22nd, and the ship resumed unloading men and cargo, some of which she shifted into medium landing ship LSM-29. Panamint, Chilton, Clearfield, Gretna Victory, and Typhoon steamed to Ie Shima the following day to discharge cargo and disembark troops. While there, a swinging load pinned Seabee S1c E. G. Kunkel, USNR, between the pallet and a fixed ladder in No. 2 hold. The accident crushed Kunkel’s chest and he was admitted to sick bay in critical condition.

The ship landed the balance of the Seabees’ section of 14 officers and 520 men in primarily two echelons; one of five officers and 200 men (21–23 April), and the other of nine officers and 320 men (23–24 April). In addition to Brig. Gen. Thomas and Col. Greeley, the ship also transported and disembarked at times 17 officers and 114 enlisted men of the Navy’s Mobile Communications Unit, five officers and 43 enlisted soldiers of the Army’s 1714th Signals Service Company, seven officers and 117 enlisted men of the 148th Army Airways Communications Squadron, and 39 officers and 116 soldiers of the Army’s Garrison Force.

The Seabees of Section 1 turned to with gusto and erected structures necessary for the base to operate. In addition, they built a siren tower, a signal tower in the beach area, a marine air warning hut, and a Quonset hut for Naval Communication Unit 17. Japanese aircraft repeatedly and desperately lunged at the ships offshore and the Seabees counted no less than 177 air raids by the end of the war. The Japanese did not attack Section 1’s Seabees on the ground, but the sailors captured several enemy stragglers during different incidents. The Army’s demolition soldiers suffered high casualties in the horrific fighting and the naval battalion’s demolition sailors reinforced the soldiers, who lauded their success in clearing booby traps and mines. Ultimately, Naval Construction Battalion 106 stayed on Ie Shima through the end of the war and was deactivated on 28 November 1945. Clearfield received the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon for her part in the Okinawa Gunto Operation (17–28 April 1945).

Clearfield sailed in company with Task Unit (TU) 51.29.23 from Okinawa for Ulithi (26–30 April 1945), and at 0950 on the 29th executed an emergency 20° turn to starboard to avoid a floating object that Mullany sighted ahead of the column. Lookouts believed the object to be a mine, but as the destroyer diligently closed the area; men in the convoy breathed a sigh of relief when she discovered a floating oil drum, and the ships resumed their voyage. The convoy typically dissolved upon entering the atoll and Clearfield anchored in berth 233. Clearfield served with TransDiv 70, Capt. Edwin T. Short, on 1 May, and after refueling and provisioning charted easterly courses for home (7 May). Clearfield reached Hawaiian waters but in the meanwhile (17–19 May) marked time by practicing gunnery exercises. Clearfield finally turned for the west coast, slipped beneath the Golden Gate Bridge on the morning of 23 May, and at 0825 dropped anchor in anchorage 12 in San Francisco Bay.


(Left–right) Arneb (AKA-56), Heywood (APA-6), and Clearfield lay at San Francisco, 23 May 1945. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph 19-N-90748, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: (Left–right) Arneb (AKA-56), Heywood (APA-6), and Clearfield lay at San Francisco, 23 May 1945. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph 19-N-90748, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

The ship shifted to Pier 3, East, Fort Mason, Calif., on the 24th. There she embarked Lt. Col. J. L. Jacobs, USA, 14 officers, and 177 soldiers of the Army’s Replacement Troop Provisional Companies, A, B, C, D, E, F, and K and loaded their vehicles and cargo (29–30 May 1945). That morning she changed berths and moored starboard side to Pier 15 at San Francisco. Some 52 more officers and 1,217 enlisted men of these companies finished boarding and hauling their gear on board, and at 1530 the ship cast away her morning lines and steamed out into the broad expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

The ship crossed the International Date Line on 9 June 1945, and then (13–14 June) anchored at Eniwetok, shifting her berths to refuel and provision. Clearfield resumed her westward journey (14–18 June) transporting the troops and joined TU 96.6.1, which also consisted of Dempsey, Stadtfield (DE-29), Bosque (APA-135), Lamar (APA-47), Menard (APA-201), Okaloosa (APA-219), and Sherburne. Clearfield anchored in berth 133 upon reaching Ulithi.

Following an all too fleeting overnight rest, the next morning the ship stood down Mugai swept entrance channel and out to sea with Ulithi-Manila Convoy No. 2 along with Ahrens (DE-575), with Commander, CortDiv 60, embarked, Okaloosa, and Sherburne. The vessels steamed through the Verde Island Passage between Luzon and Mindoro in the Philippines and into the South China Sea, and from there turned northward and entered Manila Bay (19–23 June), passed Corregidor Island abeam to port, and anchored in berth 28. The convoy dissolved upon its entrance, and Clearfield debarked her 67 commissioned and 1,383 enlisted Army passengers. The following day she transferred to berth 2 at Pier 5A to unload their cargo. Clearfield shifted berths more than once while unloading cargo and taking on fuel and provisions during the succeeding days. The attack transport took in all lines and got underway from Manila Bay for Hollandia, New Guinea, passing back through the Verde Island Passage into the Sibuyan Sea, passed and sighted additional islands during her otherwise uneventful voyage (30 June–5 July), and stood into Humboldt Bay [Yos Sudarso Bay] and anchored in berth N-11.

Clearfield refueled and then shifted berths and moored portside to Pier 9 at Humboldt Bay, where she embarked 17 officers and 227 enlisted men of the Army's 978th Signal Service and First Reconnaissance Battalion on 8 July. The following day she welcomed one officer and 223 enlisted "casuals" from various naval command, 222 Army enlisted casuals, and further Army reinforcements comprising one officer and 14 men of the 103rd Chemical Processing Company, eight men of the 4164 Quartermaster Detachment, 15 officers and 246 soldiers of the 4025 Signal Services Group, one officer and 445 men of the 35th Transportation Corps Group, and one officer and 23 soldiers of the 59th Ordnance Ammunition Company.

On the morning of the 9th of July 1945, the ship stood out of Humboldt Bay and took station 31 in Convoy T2, consisting of Riley (DE-579), with Commander, CortDiv 67 on board, Biven (DE-536), President Hayes (APA-20), Gallatin (APA-169) (which joined later that day as the convoy flagship and OTC), tank landing ships LST-18, LST-26, LST-170, LST-468, LST-578, LST-583, LST-630, LST-679, LST-680, LST-705, LST-706, LST-707, LST-754, LST-775, LST-778, and LST-927, and large infantry landing craft LCI(L)-608. The convoy steamed in five columns and Clearfield served as the guide for Column 3.

The following day at 1020 on 10 July 1945, the convoy crossed the equator at 137°31' E. Biven and Gallatin detached when the ships sighted Mindanao on the 14th, and LCI(L)-27 joined. As they passed through Surigao Strait the next day LST-26, LST-170, LST-468, LST-578, LST-583, LST-630, LST-679, LST-680, LST-705, LST-706, LST-707, LST-754, LST-775, LST-778, and LST-927 detached and proceeded independently. The remaining vessels continued into Leyte Gulf in the Philippines and Clearfield anchored in berth 24 in San Pedro Bay at 0756 on the 15th. Eight naval officers and 52 enlisted casuals reported on board, as did additional Army casuals totaling four officers and 223 soldiers. Clearfield weighed anchor and steamed to Manila via Surigao Strait, Mindanao [Bohol] Sea, Sulu Sea, Mindoro Strait, and the East China Sea (16–19 July), and anchored in berth 36 in Manila Bay. The ship shifted berths on occasion while preparing to move more occupation troops among the Philippine Islands.

Clearfield suffered a tragic accident at 0758 on 20 July 1945. BM1c M. L. Hervey was working as a tender at No. 1 hatch when a guy line on the No. 2 boom parted under the strain of a ½-ton weapons carrier. The load pinned Hervey against the boat skid on the hatch coaming, crushing his cervical spine and trachea and killing him instantly. Lt. Cmdr. J. V. Bennett, USNR, convened a board of investigation and determined that “no evidence of negligence was apparent.” Hervey was interred in Grave No. 1967, Row 16, Plot 1, United States Armed Forces Cemetery No. 2 at Manila on the 21st.

The ship stood out of Manila Bay and steamed to Finschhafen, New Guinea (23–30 July 1945). At 1645 on the 28th she crossed the equator again, this time at 145°20'E, and upon entering Langemak Bay at Finschhafen moored portside to Dock No. 8. While the ship lay at her berth, 19 officers and 234 men of the Army’s 4th Field Artillery Battalion boarded. Clearfield moved from that harbor to Humboldt Bay (1–3 August), and additional soldiers eventually boarded, altogether comprising the artillerymen plus six officers and 111 men of the 55th Chemical Processing Company, six officers and 18 men of the 169th Quartermaster Company, 81 soldiers of the 22nd Quartermaster Company, two officers and 70 enlisted men of the 273rd Signal Corps Company, one officer and four men of the 97th Signal Maintenance and Repair Unit, and 14 soldiers of the 588th Quartermasters’ Laundry.

Clearfield took in all lines from berth N-10 and stood out of Humboldt Bay and steamed as the OTC and the guide with Convoy HPT 4, also consisting of Chaffee (DE-230) in which rode Commander, TU 75.2.12, and Dauphin (APA-97), to Leyte Gulf (5–9 August 1945). Clearfield crossed the equator at 138°39'E at 1941 that evening. As they sighted Mindanao on the 8th, Chaffee and Dauphin detached and proceeded independently, and destroyer Burns (DD-588) joined Clearfield to escort her the rest of the way. The pair passed through Surigao Strait and Clearfield anchored in berth 12 in San Pedro Bay at 0710 on the 9th, where the attack transport disembarked her passengers.

The following day the ship embarked a number of Army troops comprising ten officers and 220 enlisted casuals, 13 men of the Headquarters 1st Replacement Center Battalion, two officers of the Eighth Army’s Headquarters, and eight men from the 4th Replacement Depot. Later that day Clearfield moved and anchored in berth B-4 in Guiuan Bay, where she transferred three Mk III mechanized landing craft (LCM(3)s), one large personnel landing craft (LCPL), one ramped personnel landing craft (LCPR), and 18 vehicle and personnel landing craft (LCVPs) to the Amphibious Forces Pacific Boat Replacement Pool at Samar. Clearfield then (10–12 August) crossed the Mindanao Sea, steamed through the Bohol Strait, and, after briefly anchoring while awaiting a berth, moored portside to Pier No. 1 North Side at Cebu City, Cebu, at 1250 on the 11th. The ship disembarked her passengers and unloaded their gear and vehicles, and then cleared Cebu and sailed for Eniwetok. Just after noon on the 13th, however, Clearfield received orders that swung her around back to Leyte Gulf, where she anchored in berth 38  arly on the morning of the 14th. While there that day, Lt. John W. Thiele, USNR, relieved Lt. Cmdr. Maurice J. Keily, USNR, as the executive officer.

A large contingent of Navy casuals from the Philippine Sea Frontier, numbering 36 officers and 730 sailors, boarded the ship and she transported them to Guiuan (16–17 August 1945). While the vessel lay in that port she loaded Navy casuals numbering one officer and 628 enlisted men, and furthermore received two LCM(3)s, one LCPL, one LCPR, and 18 LCVPs from the Amphibious Forces Pacific Boat Replacement Pool. Clearfield then (17–19 August) sailed via Leyte Gulf, Surigao Strait, the Mindanao Sea, Sulu Sea, and the Mindoro Strait to Manila, where she dropped anchor in berth 60 that morning on the 19th and debarked one naval officer and 246 enlisted casuals. Before the busy day ended the ship stood out of Manila Bay past Corregidor abeam to port, and steamed up the coast to Subic Bay (1734–2314), where she anchored in berth 169. The remaining contingent of Navy casuals, numbering 36 officers and 1,112 enlisted men, disembarked the following day. Once Clearfield delivered the passengers, she turned back to sea, passed Grande Island outbound, and charted a course for Batangas Island. The ship anchored there in berth F at 1645 that evening and reported to TransDiv 65. Transport Squadron (TransRon) 16 requested that Clearfield transfer the two LCM(3)s and one of the LCVPs on the morning of the 22nd, and the ship so complied by noon.

Seven Army officers and 151 troopers of the Advanced Detail of the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team of the XI Corps boarded the following day (22–24 August 1945), and two more officers and 151 men of B Troop of that regiment the next day. The day after 29 officers and 807 soldiers from Troop B, 148th Field Artillery Battalion, and Troop A, 79th Engineers, both of the 11th Airborne Division, 1st Squadron Headquarters and Headquarters Troops, A, B, C, and D Troops, 1st Squadron, 1st Squadron Medics, 592nd E, B, and S Regiment, and the 1st Squadron Drivers Detachment also boarded.

On the morning of 25 August 1945, TF 33, consisting of high speed transports Burke (APD-65) and John Q. Roberts (APD-94), patrol escort PCE-877, submarine chasers PC-466, PC-1230, and PC-1421, Cecil (APA-96), the formation guide and flagship for TransDiv 46 and TransRon 16, Bosque, Briscoe (APA-65), Clearfield, Cullman (APA-78), Darke (APA-159), Deuel (APA-160), Dickens (APA-161), Highlands (APA-119), Lavaca (APA-180) (TransDiv 65), Lenawee (APA-195), Missoula (APA-211), Rutland (APA-192) (TransDiv 47), Talladega (APA-208) (TransDiv 48), St. Mary’s (APA-126), Sherburne, Sheridan (APA-151), Medea (AKA-31), Pamina (AKA-34), Tolland (AKA-64), Whiteside (AKA-90), and Yancey (AKA-93), stood out of Batangas Bay and sailed in two columns to take part in the occupation of the Japanese home islands.

Hansford (APA-106), flying the flag of Rear Adm. John L. Hall Jr., Commander Amphibious Group 12, rendezvoused with the task force at 1000 and the admiral assumed tactical command of the ships. More vessels swelled the convoy's strength as the Manila Group joined them at 1620 that day: Mount Olympus (AGC-8) Commander, Third Amphibious Force embarked, Botetourt (APA-136), Gasconade (APA-85), Libra (AKA-12), Sirona (AKA-43), Skagit (AKA-105), and Todd (AKA-71).

At 2310 on 26 August 1945, the combined ships came about and returned to Subic Bay because of Typhoon Ruth, which swept across the area with winds reaching a recorded peak of 130 knots. The ships weathered the tempest from within the shelter of the bay and resumed their voyage the following morning. PCE-877 and PC-1421 detached but PC-549, PC-1177, and PC-1180 reinforced the screen, and Yancey lagged behind but rejoined the formation on the 28th. During the forenoon watch on that date Benson (DD-421), with Commander, Destroyer Squadron 7 embarked, Charles F. Hughes (DD-428), Madison (DD-421), and Mayo (DD-422) further reinforced the escorts. Lookouts occasionally sighted floating mines, but the ships passed them at a safe distance. Escort aircraft carrier Salamaua (CVE-96) and her screen, comprising Goss (DE-444), Kendall C. Campbell (DE-441), Ulvert M. Moore (DE-442), and William Seiverling (DE-421), joined the convoy at 1800 on the 29th. The next morning John Q. Roberts detached for independent duty.

Salamaua and other aircraft carriers protected the vessels as they closed Tōkyō Bay by launching planes that flew reconnaissance missions over the Japanese homeland and fighters that flew protective combat air patrol over the ships, while the carriers whence they came steamed outside the bay. The convoy meanwhile passed Sagami Wan [Sagami Bay] outside the entrance, and from there entered Tōkyō Bay on 2 September 1945. At 1134 Clearfield dropped anchor in B-23 of the Yokohama District, at 35°3'N, 149°40'5"E. The ship’s company thus viewed from afar the proceedings as the Japanese formally surrendered on board battleship Missouri (BB-63).

The following morning [3 September 1945], Briscoe, Clearfield, Cullman, Lavaca, and Sheridan weighed anchor and cleared the harbor, and turned for the Japanese Naval Air Station Tateyama. Clearfield anchored in the transport area near the station at 0655, and at 0744 began to disembark the first wave for an assault against the facility. Many men on board the ship and in the assault wave feared that some of the Japanese might resist the landings and held their breath anxiously as the landing craft circled, formed up, and at H-Hour at 0930 hit the station’s landing ramp as scheduled and the troopers went ashore. The Japanese garrison fortuitously obeyed their orders not to resist, however, and the succeeding waves landed and secured the air station. The ship landed 25 officers and 743 enlisted men of the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team, one officer and 98 gunners of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment, three officers and 136 men of A Company of the 78th Engineers, an officer and 20 soldiers of the 592nd Engineers, and one officer and six men of a Joint Signal Assault Company by 1400. The following afternoon at 1300 on the 4th Clearfield disembarked a further six officers and 62 men of the 112th’s 1st Squadron, as well as seven Army enlisted patients that she turned over to a shore party. That afternoon (4–7 September) she set out with another convoy for Buckner Bay at Okinawa.

Clearfield shifted berths between Buckner Bay and Hagushi more than once during the following days, and turned her prow seaward in company with Sheridan to escape an approaching typhoon (16–18 September 1945). Algol (AKA-54), Situla (AKA-140), and freighters Elihu Thompson and Foxworth rendezvoused with them at times and the half dozen ships rode out the tempest.

After surviving the typhoon Clearfield received on board (19–25 September 1945) a number of marines of the 7th Service Regiment including 14 officers and 105 enlisted men of the Headquarters Company, 141 men of the Headquarters and Service Battalion, 20 officers and 25 men of the Engineer Company, four officers, 19 enlisted men, and two civilian contractors of the Signal Company, 14 officers and 269 marines of the Ordnance Company, 36 men of the Service Company, an officer and 105 men of the Motor Transport Company, one officer and 16 men of the Automotive Company, 34 men of the 4th Salvage Repair Company, five officers and 74 men of the Headquarters and General Supply Company, 47 men of the Supply and Maintenance Battalion, 18 marines of the General Supply Company, a trio of officers and 85 men of the General Detail Company, one officer of the 1st Cargo Company, and four officers of the 38th Depot Company’s Guard. In addition, two Navy medical officers and six sailors also boarded. Some fortunate marines received early discharges and disembarked to find other transport home including five men of the Headquarters Company, a half dozen from the Engineer Company, one of the Signal Company, 14 marines from the Ordnance Company, and two of the Guard.

Clearfield embarked the marines and Navy medical team because she received orders to operate between Okinawa, Manila, and ports in China to support the reoccupation of northern China. The ship sortied as part of TU 78.1.1 for the voyage to Chinese waters (26–30 September 1945). Catoctin (AGC-5)Commander, Seventh Amphibious Force, embarked as OTC) led the convoy, which also comprised most of TransDivs 49, 59, 65, and 69 and their escorts: Ahrens, Cronin (DE-704), Earl V. Johnson (DE-702), Frybarger (DE-705), Holton (DE-703), Catoctin, hospital ship Relief (AH-1), dock landing ship Ashland (LSD-1), Attala (APA-130), Bergen (APA-150), Briscoe, Burleson (APA-67), Butte (APA-68), Chilton (TransDiv 49, TransRon 17, and the formation guide), Collingsworth (APA-146), Cortland (APA-75), Crenshaw (APA-76), Crescent City (APA-21), Cullman, Effingham (APA-165), Geneva (APA-86), Hanover (APA-116), Lavaca, Leon (APA-48) (TransDiv 59), Randall (APA-224) (TransDiv 69), Sarasota (APA-204) (TransDiv 50), Sheridan, Arcturus (AKA-1), Caswell (AKA-72), Devosa (AKA-27), Sirona, Skagit, and Tate (AKA-70).

During the afternoon and first dog watches on the 28th lookouts on board a number of ships sighted multiple floating mines in the vicinity of 34°N, 125°E. The vessels of the convoy claimed to sink 21 of the mines and Clearfield fired 270 20-millimeter rounds at them, though apparently without result. The convoy passed the Kwantung [Liaodong] Peninsula 12 miles abeam to starboard on the afternoon of the 29th, and the following morning entered the Gulf of Pohai [Bohai Gulf] and anchored in the transport area off the Taku [Dagu] Forts southeast of Tientsin [Tianjin], China. Clearfield landed a marine officer from the Headquarters Company, an officer from the engineer company, an officer from the Headquarters Motor Transport Battalion, and one officer and 62 of his men from the 38th Depot Company in the forenoon watch. The ship landed the additional marines on the following days.

Clearfield completed her transport of the marines and then joined TU 78.13.3 as the vessels of the task unit formed a convoy and turned for Manila (6–13 October 1945). Crescent City served as the guide and Frybarger escorted the ships. Clearfield’s gunners fired 200 20-millimeter rounds at a floating mine off the port bow on the afternoon of the 8th, but again without result. The ship’s company soon had more pressing concerns besides their poor gunnery when the convoy slowed to ten knots that evening because of the “indeterminable track” of an approaching typhoon. The tempest continued to churn the sea into froth and the convoy reversed course during the mid watch on the 9th. The barometer dropped dramatically that afternoon and fell to a low of 29.72 at 2300. Clearfield rolled heavily and Tate lost an LCM and an LCVP, and by midnight huge swells and gale force winds savaged the ships. The center of the typhoon passed about 250 miles to the eastward at the end of the mid watch on the 10th, and although the barometer slowly began to rise, heavy seas continued to pummel the ships. Frybarger escorted Montauk (LSV-6) as the vehicle landing ship detached for other duty, and the convoy finally emerged from the heavy seas and reached Manila Bay, where Clearfield anchored in berth 611.

Ahrens escorted Briscoe, Clearfield, Cortland, Crenshaw, Leon (the division’s flagship), Sirona, Trousdale, and the other ships of TransDiv 59 as they cleared Manila, crossed the South China Sea (22–24 October 1945), and made port at Kowloon at Hong Kong. Although Clearfield twice left the formation because of engineering problems, she reached the British Crown Colony and moored portside to Holt’s Wharf, Pier 2, where 138 Chinese Nationalist officers and 1,535 enlisted soldiers of the 10th Regiment, 4th Division, Thirteenth Army, boarded. Clearfield cleared the wharf and vacated her moorings for other vessels and anchored overnight in berth J-2 in Junk Bay.

Once the ships loaded their men and cargo they set out from Hong Kong and, joined by Crenshaw, made for Taku but received orders changing their destination while en route and instead stood into Chinwangtao [Qinuangdao] in northern China before the sun set (25–30 October 1945). On the 29th the ship’s lookouts sighted a floating mine but her gunners withheld their fire because of its proximity. Shortly thereafter, Ahrens sank a mine ahead of the formation.

As the sun rose on Halloween the vessels began to land the Chinese troops of the 4th Division’s 10th, 11th (Col. Tong Swae-Ye), and 12th Regiments. Clearfield disembarked her men and unloaded their gear while moored portside to berth 7 at Breakwater Pier, and then cleared the pier to enable Trousdale to disembark her passengers. Liberty ship J. H. Quick moored half way through the morning and distributed winter clothing to the thinly clad and shaking Chinese troops, and also off loaded 36 trucks. The ships completed their arduous tasks and began to stand back out into the Gulf of Pohai at 1600 that afternoon, and turned southward for Hong Kong. Trousdale transferred a stretcher patient to Ahrens and the escort ship on to Clearfield during the first dog watch on 1 November. The following day, Ahrens sank a mine and detached on the 3rd for other duty. The convoy reached Hong Kong on the morning of the 7th and Clearfield anchored in Lema Channel while (1227–1710) the ship put her main engines out of commission to effect emergency repairs to the auxiliary condensate pump. LeRay Wilson (DE-414) escorted Clearfield through the bustling harbor to refuel from oiler Chepachet (AO-78), and the attack transport moored starboard side to Pier 1, North, at Kowloon. Some 139 Chinese Nationalist officers and their 1,720 soldiers of the 2nd Regiment, 1st Division, Eighth Army, boarded.

Clearfield and her vital charges got underway on the morning of the 9th for a voyage to Tsingtao [Qingdao] on the Shantung [Shandong] Peninsula (9–14 November 1945), but the ship’s turbine developed vibration. She dropped speed to only five knots while the engineers toiled on the turbine and determined that the rotor appeared to be warped. The ship proceeded at slow speed to permit self-realignment, and radioed her predicament to the commodore, who concurred with the solution. Clearfield stood out of Hong Kong and rang up 16.6 knots without apparent issues, then stopped all engines to double check the turbine. Sailors examined the system and did not discover any rubbing, and the ship gradually increased speed to 1/3, 2/3, and standard speed at 15 knots, all the while checking the gear for any issues, and then rejoined the convoy. The ships passed to the southward of Formosa [Taiwan] and Clearfield stood into Tsingtao and anchored in berth E-135 at 1145 on the 14th. She shifted to F-12 and disembarked the Chinese troops (1318–1610). Clearfield followed up her transportation duties by completing an availability to clean her boilers and make voyage repairs (15–23 November), and then (26–29 November) steamed independently to Buckner Bay. Clearfield received the China Service Medal for her deployment to those waters (29 September–6 October and 24 October–27 November 1945).

The ship refueled and completed additional repairs, and shifted to berth H-307 at Hagushi on the 30th so that four officers and 141 soldiers of the Army’s 25th Replacement Depot could board via boats. She then carried her passengers to reinforce the troops already deployed to Japan. Clearfield was awarded the Navy Occupation Service Medal as a result of her operations supporting the occupation of the Japanese home islands. (2–28 September and 28 November–2 December 1945).

Clearfield got underway for Tacoma, Wash., on 2 December, and after overhaul, sailed for the east coast, passed through the Panama Canal, and reached Norfolk, Va., on 4 February 1946. Clearfield was decommissioned there on 4 March 1946, and two days later was returned to the War Shipping Administration, which laid her up at the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River Group, at Lee Hall, Va. The veteran ship was stricken from the Navy Register on 20 March 1946.

The ship underwent brief repair work with the Polarus Steamship Company under a General Agency Agreement (2 September–27 October 1955). On 9 April 1973, ex-Clearfield was sold for $111,560 to Union Minerals & Alloys Corp., of New York City, N.Y. Withdrawn from the Reserve Fleet at 1440 on 7 September 1973, she was sent to the breaker’s yard via the River Terminal Development Company at Kearny, N.J.

Clearfield received one battle star for her World War II service for her part in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto (17–28 April 1945).

Commanding Officer Date Assumed Command
Capt. Frederick C. Stelter, Jr. 12 January 1945


Mark L. Evans

28 October 2020

Published: Wed Oct 28 13:23:25 EDT 2020