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U.S.S. Honolulu in Honolulu Harbor, July 1939.
Interview of Jim Sime by James Scott,
December 13, 2002; 9:58 am to 11:03 am
SCOTT: The date is December 13th-it's a Friday in 2002, I am the interviewer, James C. Scott, and this is the interviewee, James Sime. He has been very kind; he and his wife have invited us into their home in Sonora, California. The time right now…is two-minutes-to-ten, so nice and early in the morning.
Basically, I have a waiver for Mr. Sime to sign. This will actually release the information that he is going to give us to the public, under the Freedom of Information Act…if you could just sign right there by the "X," Jim.
Now, it's important for me to mention that during this interview if you feel uncomfortable answering any question or questions you just don't have to, plain and simple.
SIME: I understand that.
SCOTT: Now, one thing we need to do before we actually get into the meat of the questions is we're briefly going to go over the survey that you filled out quite kindly. Basically, we can go ahead and take a look at your information prior to your involvement in the War.
Um, it looks like, let's see…you were involved in junior college in Oakland. Is that true?
SIME: San Francisco.
SCOTT: Okay. In San Francisco. And your civilian occupation was an accounting clerk?
SCOTT: Okay, and let's see, can you recall your service number while in the Navy?
SIME: I thought you…
SCOTT: Ya, it looks like it's 397076.
SIME: 070 I think, or was…?
SCOTT: I've got 076 here…
And, of course, you participated in the service branch of the Navy. You came into active duty on 11/12/1940 at Treasure Island, California…San Francisco, California, as a Storekeeper 3rd Class. You served on the Honolulu, the President Jackson, and the Gregg. The major campaigns you were involved in were Guadalcanal, Tolugi, New Hebrides, Guam, Leyte in the Philippines, Okinawa and its looks like you were also-it looks like-part of the occupationary force in Japan. And, of course, you did serve, most notably, during the attack on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor.
SIME: No. I wasn't in the occupation force in Japan.
SCOTT: Oh, you weren't? Okay, it says Japan right here.
SIME: Ya, well, I was there.
SCOTT: Okay. Further service? You did not have any. It looks like you did utilize the GI-Bill for home purchase which you did mention a little bit earlier, and let's see, as we keep on going down the line here, um, it looks like, you are willing to have us copy some of your scrapbooks, orders, any of the paraphernalia you've been able to accrue through the years, but not donate.
It looks like the reason why you actually entered the military was because of a high draft number…you felt good about being in the War…you felt good about serving during the Second World War…it looks like you did fire a shot at an enemy soldier which we can talk about a little bit later and longer. Now, in so far as dropping the bomb over Hiroshima or Nagasaki-you were in favor of that-you were in favor of also dropping the bomb on Berlin if such was needed.
Now, in so far as the question regarding the difference between U.S. servicemen in WWII and their counterparts later on, um, you did feel as if there was a difference with Vietnam troops and Gulf War troops. In so far as Korea and WWI, really no difference. The group of troops you respected the most and deserved the most recognition were the Marines, the Marines, and we jump ahead to question "38"…do you believe you have the ability to tell us more about your military experiences? Yes. Do you have War stories on your own military experiences to relate to us? Yes indeed. Are you willing to sit through a one-hour audio-recorded interview? Yes, and that's what we're going to do and if sometime after the interview you wish to make a video-taped interview would you be willing to participate? Yes, and of course we have that going on here today as well. So, going through this list of questions is merely perfunctory and we're all done with that, so we can get to, at this point, the meat of the questions right here…
SCOTT: Now, number one basically deals with experience prior to the War, whether that be your upbringing, and occupation before the War-things like that. But, could you give me some information, other than that we've already talked about, about your background prior to entering active duty in World War II: did you have any military training before entering the War? Were you in the Boy Scouts? Anything like that? Can you talk about that? What was going on, say in the late 30s, prior to entering, in your world, in your life?
SIME: Well, in the 30s, of course, that's when I would have been in high school, and uh, I guess the reason why I favored going into the Navy, as opposed to the Army or being drafted or whatever, was the fact that I had a boat, a little sail boat on San Francisco Bay. I spent every weekend on the boat, and uh, I was familiar with the water and so, and I just took to it naturally, and uh, and that's how come I went into the Navy. And uh, due to the fact of my occupation at the time as an accountant, I was able to go into the Naval Reserve as a 3rd Class Storekeeper, and uh, at the same time I had to take a test to see if I was, I could do it, and had an idea of what it was all about. Apparently I got a passing grade on it. But uh, the next thing I knew…
And also, how I came to get into the Navy was, I, I was with a good friend and uh, we'd decided that we would, uh, join the Reserve and that way we would be able to go, go to sea, because at time in San Francisco, the Naval Reserve was going into active duty and so on, so we went down one evening and uh, uh, to the Reserve offices and they had a lot of kids, a lot of people down there signing up for the Navy. Of course this was the time when the draft was going on, so we stood in line and my buddy, he was ahead of me-quite a few people were behind him, and I came along there-and uh, he took his physical and signed up and for all intense and purposes "Hey" he was in the Navy. Well, along I come-I didn't know this-and along I come behind him, and I came behind him, and I took my physical, and when it came time to sign, I said "well, I wanna think about it, and I'll come back."
So, we were riding-we had an apartment together in San Francisco-so we were riding home on the street car and he turned to me and said, "well, we're in the Navy!" And, I said, "what do you mean!?!" And he looked at me and said "what DO YOU mean!?!" And I said, "I didn't sign up," and he said "Well [he] did!"
Oh, my God, and it was 9:30 [pm] or something and the place is already closed, and I thought "what am I gonna do?" So, the next day I think "Man, my buddy's in the Navy and I'm not in!?! Oh, this is terrible" So, the next day, I got up and I went down, and told 'em I wanted to sign-up and they said, "Recruiting has already closed!" So, I couldn't get in. So, I didn't known what to do. So, my parents lived in San Francisco, so I went and talked to my dad. He knew a lot of people and a lot of military people, Naval officers. And he knew this one commander and he made an appointment with him for me to go down to the 12th Naval District-I believe that's what it was at that time-and talked to this officer. So, a week later, I guess, I went down and saw him, and says "well, you know I can't, uh, you know, we're all filled up, no chance." So, I, I was very disappointed so I went down to the street and walked across the street and there was a bar over there so I went into the bar and sat down and started to drown my sorrows. Pretty soon in comes the chief Petty Officer, and he sits down, you know, and says "What's going on?" And I [laughs] told him my story and he says "I saw you up in the commander's officer." And, uh, he says "You really wanna get in?" And I says, "Ya." He says, "Alright, you me down there at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning, have the stuff that you'll need packed in a bag, and you'll be in the Navy." My God, how can this happen? Here he is in his little office right next store to the commander?
So, I went down there the next morning and my God, at 9:30 I was in the Navy…
SCOTT: You were in, wow…
SIME: …and on my way to Treasure Island which was the recruiting station or whatever you wanna call 'em. And, uh, I got a uniform, and I got a hammock and a bed roll, shown where to hang the hammock and all this and, you know, I was in the Navy…and two days later, I guess, I uh…and while I was there I took another test, a written examination on storekeeping and so on, and uh, I was, we were taken up to, uh, the Navy Yard in Mare Island then…
Do you want me to go on with this story?
SCOTT: Oh, absolutely, ya…
SIME: The Navy Yard at Mare Island, and uh, I went aboard the light cruiser, the U.S.S. Brooklyn, which is the same style ship as the Honolulu which I was assigned to. So, and the Brooklyn was going to Pearl Harbor, so that was my transportation to Pearl. So, I guess, the Brooklyn was in the Navy Yard having repairs done, so I guess it was probably two to three weeks before I got to Pearl Harbor on the Brooklyn, and that gave me quite a bit of time to adjust to the Navy life: the terms and the where-with-all of everything; where the "head" was, you know...
At that time, they had just taken the uh, the hammock hooks down and they had put in spring bunks on the side hull of the ship, so there was no more hanging of hammocks that they use in the mess room and all this.
Anyway, we went out to Pearl Harbor and gee, the Brooklyn was a great ship and I tried to stay on her, but of course, my orders were for the Honolulu, so when we got into Pearl Harbor I went aboard the Honolulu which was my ship until uh…Let's see the War started when? And, uh, when was Pearl Harbor?
SIME: 41. 41! Thank you…I was a little off…
Ya. 41, December 7, 1941. And, ya, I was out there in 1940! Okay, that's what it was. I was there in 1940 and we had uh, made trips back to the States, I think once.
SCOTT: Now, when you went back to the States, did you go back to San Francisco or did you go to San Diego?
SIME: No. We went to Long Beach, somewhere down there in Long Beach.
And, uh, then we went back to Pearl.
SCOTT: So, so, it sounds like you were at Pearl Harbor with plenty of time before December 7.
SIME: Oh ya, I was there a whole year.
SCOTT: So, basically, it sounds like you were a young man, you've got more-or-less the sea in your blood. You know you've sailed, done things, you've grown up on the Bay. Um, you've got experience as an accountant that enables you to basically establish a position, a ready position within the Navy, you've got three weeks on the Brooklyn. What's going through your head? I mean we're not war yet, um, were you excited about being in the Navy? I mean, what was your state of mind at that time?
SIME: No, I wasn't excited about it, uh…I was having too much fun in my prior life and uh, with the boat that I had and the girls that I knew, and the only reason I was in the Navy was to avoid the draft-I didn't want to go into the Army, marchin' with a gun on my shoulder, a pack on my back. So, and I never considered the Navy a career, it was just something I figured any year-that's what I, you'd signed up for, one year active duty-in a year I would be out, and I remember my year came up prior to Pearl Harbor invasion or bombing, and I made such a stink on the ship that the captain sent a notice down to me, that I'd better shut my mouth or I'd spend the rest of my time in the brig. So, uh, you know, that was that, and I was very unhappy, 'cus I think President Roosevelt, at that time, declared everyone frozen in their particular jobs and so on. I had to stay in. So, I was really unhappy the whole darn four or five years when they…I really didn't go for it…the taking orders, then the giving orders, and you know, I thought "oh boy," but at the very end I came to realize that taking orders and giving orders was very important-you had to have the discipline on the ship or the service, wherever that was…very, very important to your own protection and the protection of others.
SCOTT: So, you mentioned that you had the boat, you had the girls: it was a fun life before you went in. Did you have a girlfriend? Were you engaged?
SIME: No. I didn't have a girlfriend.
SCOTT: Were you living with your parents at the time?
SIME: No, I had an apartment…
SCOTT: That's right, you had an apartment.
So, jumping ahead a little bit, let's talk about the training process, induction, getting your shots, swearing in. What can you remember from that? Boot Camp more-or-less, can you relay some your experiences from that time?
SIME: I, I never went to Boot Camp, and uh, uh…the shots and so on were just the regular shots that you get in the service, and uh, that was about all. I know I can remember at uh, even my prior life, boy I'd see a needle or somethin' and I'd faint [laughs], boom down I'd go, and I had an awful time in the service when I'd go for a shot-I'd look away or man I really couldn't face it because I was always afraid I was gonna faint, and uh, this followed me in the service until we were-and this has nothing to do with the Honolulu-until I was on the ship, and I think it was the Griggs, the U.S.S. Griggs, and uh, the Philippines, no in Guam, and we were designated as a secondary hospital ship or something and we had to take wounded aboard, so they had all the officers, which I was one of them, and we were given a position on the outside deck and given a jug of morphine and a needle, and when these came up and they were in bad shape, you'd inject 'em. And I thought "my God, here I am" you know "the guy that faints!" [laughs] "I'll never be able to do this!" Well, I saw some of those guys come aboard and I had some, I got over that REAL QUICK [emphasis]. Since then, it has never bothered me, but boy I was sure one scared kid!
SCOTT: Ya, thank you for your answer. Um, so can you remember any good buddies you made?
SIME: In the service?
SCOTT: Well, on the Brooklyn, and maybe in your early times in Pearl Harbor-any good friends that you can remember, and funny times goin' on in Honolulu?
SIME: Well, I uh, I had some friends who were civilians that were, I believed they worked for the Kaiser cement company in Oahu, Honolulu, and uh, they had a home in Honolulu just right out near the beach out there, near the Waikiki and uh, we'd get, generally we'd be at sea for a week and then we'd come in on like a Friday night or whatever and we'd have Saturday and Sunday, and then we'd go back to sea again, and I'd go ashore and I spent some time with them, and uh, I met this girl over there who was boarding at one of the houses, and uh, eventually I married her, when the War was over we got married. Uh, I made some good friends on the ship, but I haven't seen them since. I've never seen anyone since, except uh, you know, I belong to the uh, Veterans of Pearl Harbor and uh, the group that I belong with up here in Sonora, the fellows are from three, three different counties: Tuolemne, Calavares, and uh, one other, and I see those fellas once a month, but you know, we're not, you know…just guys. We have a meeting every Thursday, I mean, every third Thursday of the month, and we take our wives there, but, you know and I spent a lot of time in going back to Honolulu again when I was, we were in Pearl Harbor at the beach in Honolulu and swam a lot…
SCOTT: Did you ever surf?
SIME: And surfed, and all that sort of stuff, but there they had the big surf boards. They didn't have these classic things. When you got hit by one of those boards you knew it…
SCOTT: Did you ever climb Diamond Head?
SIME: Oh ya. I never climbed it-drove up there in a car…
I've been back to Pearl Harbor, I guess twice since the War…
SCOTT: Alright let's jump ahead to the next question and this relates to actual duty that you served, the skills you put to work while on the ships. Now it sounds like you were trained as a storekeeper. Um, what uh, were you able to apply you accounting skills to doing that?
SIME: Ya, I, you I knew what it was all about. I wasn't in from the, just from the turnip truck. Uh, you know, I knew what a pencil, a ledger, and big sheet of paper looked like, but you know a lot of those fellas who came into the Navy, they were from the farm, or, you know, they had no idea and had to really be trained and I was able to pick it up and do, do the math that was necessary and uh, I advanced myself through the different ranks: 2nd class, 1st class, Chief and Warrant Officer and so on. So, it uh, you know, you're in charge of store rooms and how you handle it, and how you handle the different people-you know you have payday, and how you pay 'em…
SCOTT: So, you were a pretty popular guy on payday I imagine…
SIME: Ya, [laughs] I was fairly popular except you'd with paydays sit there with a gun on your hip, anyway…
SCOTT: So um, it seems like you felt like you were pretty good at what you did, you were pretty confident in your ability, um what can you remember doing in the service, whether related to um, you know specifically being a storekeeper, or anything else on the ship, that you were most proud on doing?
SIME: Gee, that's a tough question…
SCOTT: Maybe you were proud of everything you did; what the heck!
SIME: No, you know you did it; you just did it, and you figured hey, that's all there is to it. I don't know?
SCOTT: Well, can you think of things that you might have regretted doing while in the service?
SIME: Ya, I, I…
SCOTT: And again, you don't have to answer the question if you don't feel comfortable.
SIME: What I regretted was when I had the opportunity to get a commission uh, I-and this was in the service-I uh, chose to be a Warrant Officer as opposed to being an Ensign, now the Ensign's a line officer and the Warrant is uh, in different sections of divisions, whatever you were, and I was a pay clerk, and uh, 'cus I figured if I had taken an, but except I was, I was proud of the Warrant Officer, because generally Warrant Officers come up from the enlisted ranks, and you find that you have more respect, you get more respect from the men. I know there were many times on the ship, an Ensign was trying to get something done, and he was having difficulty and they'd call the Warrant Officer over and "Bingo!" The guys would do it because they knew you knew how to do it, and what it was all about, and, so I liked that part of it, but then as the years went by I realized that if I had taken an Ensign I would have had a good chance, the way I was moving ahead, I would have come out the Navy as maybe a Lieutenant Commander, you know, which would have been a good step, and possibly have stayed in.
SCOTT: Okay, so, did you feel that, um, as you were on the Brooklyn, Honolulu, eventually the President Jackson, did you feel that your training was adequate, um, either as a fighting man, or as a pay clerk, it sounds like as a pay clerk, or storekeeper, everything was fine, but were you, were you satisfied…
SCOTT: I had just asked Jim if he was satisfied with the amount of training that he'd received.
SIME: Oh ya, oh ya, the training on board the ship was good. We were always training, uh, uh, I recall at the, I was uh, like my battle station was uh, uh, I think I was on the phone, something, a forward uh-I forget what they call it-it was the top of the mast up there, and I was right directly under the gunnery officer, and, but of it was just using your head, you know, going the right way…
SCOTT: Okay, well…
SIME: The only thing I was disappointed in was uh, we would go ashore occasionally or, I guess once, and went to the rifle range, and I was thought I was a good shot with the rifle…[laughs]…and I was terrible on the rifle range. And that, that the really got to me, I mean boy I never forgot that one. Even today I still think of it when I'm out here with my gun plinkin' around, I'm thought "God, I couldn't hit I couldn't hit the side of a barn!" I don't know what it was, but man…
SCOTT: Okay, this is where we get to the meat, or one of the more interesting sections of the interview…combat. Can you, can you describe any combat or near combat experiences that you had during your time in the Pacific? Of course, this definitely um, begs whole question with regard to Pearl Harbor.
SIME: Well, no, uh, I, I, I wasn't involved in any combat uh, as on the U.S.S. Honolulu, I had transferred or been transferred off the ship to the President Jackson before the Honolulu got in any, individual ship-to-ship combat or whatever…
SCOTT: But, you were still on the Honolulu during Pearl Harbor, right?
SIME: That's correct.
SCOTT: How did you feel when, as I understand it, the ship was hit by a bomb.
SIME: The bomb went between the dock or pier and the ship and it went down into the mud and blew, I guess you'd call it, implosion, and blew a hole in the bow of the ship and, but I was…let's see, I stayed at my ex-father-in-law's house that night prior to Pearl Harbor, Dec. 6th, and he called the next morning and he was a work, and he said "get on the radio, and get down to Pearl Harbor." So, we turned on the radio and God the War was on. So, we went out and hailed a taxi cab. This is kinda dumb jumpin' all over the place…anyway we hailed a taxi cab and the cab didn't wanna take us so it was my buddy with me and we told him we'd tear the damn cab apart…
SCOTT: Was the cabby afraid to go down to Pearl?
SIME: Oh ya! So, he said, "well, okay." So, we got in the cab and we went down to Pearl and uh, we got through the gates-generally you're stopped at the gates; well the gate was wide open and we went right in. And, we were down by uh, Henderson Field, and a Marine runs out and stops us, and the guy stopped immediately, and he told us to "get out of the cab and get under the car…right now!" So, boy, we jumped out of the cab and got under the car, and while that was going on, we looked up here comes this plane diving down. "Oh man!" So, and, the Marine, he's leaning on the hood of the car, shooting at the airplane with the rifle, and it was an old Springfield rifle. "Oh Jeez," I thought, "Man, we got a lot to learn in this War." And, I'd never seen an airplane like that before. It was one of those Japanese Zeros and they were hot airplanes. So, anyway, that passed and uh, of course, Henderson Field was in shambles and they were still dropping bombs on it and everything, so we got down to the ship, and just prior to arriving at the dock a bomb had come down-the ship was pulling out to get underway-well it was a good thing probably that it didn't get underway because if it had got out in the Harbor, they'd of sunk it and blocked a lot of stuff, so they came back, they tied the ship up and we jumped aboard. Let's see, our armament, we had 5-inch guns on the sides of the ship and uh, the main battery, I guess, uh, I can't remember, they were 6-inch guns, I believe, where on a heavy cruiser the main battery is 8-inch guns, so the main battery never fired 'cus were shootin' from a distance, you know, so the anti-aircraft guns which were 5-inch, and we had machine guns, you know, 50-calibers, nothing larger than that, and they were all firing, and anything that flew, and uh, that was it.
SCOTT: So, so, what kinds of thoughts are going through your head with regard…obviously, is there fear? Anger?
SIME: Oh, the anger was terrific, you know, and even, even when we came aboard the ship, you know, and this Japanese plane's comin' down, a dive-bomber, and the planes are all flying so slow…you know, you could hit 'em with a rock, darn near, you know? Today, the plane would come by and they'd be in Los Angeles before you knew what happened. Anyway, you know, and the Japanese would wave as they would come down. It was, uh…that night was really something because we figured-I did anyway-figured that they'd be back that night, the enemy, because, they utterly had destroyed us-the Army, the Navy, the whole Sha-Bang. And…but, they didn't, and to this day, I don't know why they didn't because if they had, they'd-a had the island…for sure. And, of course, I guess the island was probably sixty to seventy-percent Japanese people who lived there who were good people…
SCOTT: So, did harbor any, uh, suspicion of those Japanese folks, while you were at Pearl?
SCOTT: Were your comrades the same way?
SIME: Some were and some weren't. You know, some of 'em were…but I had met a lot of them and known a lot of 'em, and uh, you know, they, they seemed to be all right. They just looked different. You know, even today, uh, we got one of the fellas in the Pearl Harbor survivor's group-he won't go to a Japanese restaurant, he won't buy a Japanese car, he won't touch anything that's Japanese, well…I could say I won't buy a German car, and I don't think I will either…with the price!
SCOTT: So, um, moving out of Pearl Harbor, obviously you participated in other campaigns in the South Pacific: there's Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and uh, Leyte Gulf. Can you recall any other combat experiences, maybe during those campaigns, that you'd like to tell us about?
SIME: Well, I guess, uh, Guadalcanal was the first. And that was really, really somethin' because there we were, with Pearl Harbor all over again, with the might of Japanese aircraft, they were around us like flies. We carried-I was on the President Jackson then-and we carried, uh, the 2nd Marine I believe landed there, we had them. And, you know, at that time we had these wooden Higgins Craft for landing boats, and uh, those Marines were really somethin' else and they just went ashore and got beat up, and beat out…
SCOTT: Tell me about the Marines. What did you think of the Marines?
SIME: Well, they were great. They were really a fighting force. A lot of Semper Fidelis, you know, and boy, they-and they believed in it, they really believed in it, and uh, they…fought when they had to and uh, we, even on uh, I was on another ship, we carried these Navajo Indians-that was interesting. But, to get back to the Marines on Guadalcanal, and I think it was Henderson Field there, was the airport or the landing strip that they had to take, and uh, they finally took it, but gee…we were under, on the Jackson, we were under continual air attack, day and night, submarines…submarines weren't that noticeable…I didn't notice them that much. Then we went over and landed some Marines at Tulagi, and uh, that was across the bay, maybe, I don't know, twenty-miles-it was another island directly across-and that island, they had that under control really quick.
SCOTT: Were those the "Raiders"?
SIME: I don't know.
So, and then of course, we uh, watched some sea battles that took place. I guess they call it "Iron Bottom…"
SIME: …area up there. Honolulu was involved, and the Chicago, and the USS San Francisco, and oh a whole bunch of ships, and uh, of course we were always been under the impression that the Japanese were a short, squat, had glasses like bottle bottoms, and couldn't see, couldn't fight. Oh, we sure learned differently! And they were real good…
SCOTT: So, during Leyte Gulf do you remember anything that took place there?
SIME: Leyte Gulf. I think that's were that general landed…MacArthur, didn't he land there somewhere? Philippines, I think? Ya, we were, we landed, we, we landed troops up above the Manila Bay. I don't know what it was called. I can't remember…it was still on the main island of Manila area. And, then we came back down, and by that time, Manila bad been cleaned out and we stayed on this, took on supplies, and left off supplies, and medical stuff…and we there for probably three or four days, I guess. And then eventually we went up to Okinawa.
SCOTT: Do you remember manning a gun and shooting at something?
SIME: Uh, the only time, I guess, was on the, I was on the President Jackson, and uh, I was a…I filled in for a guy on a machine gun there. I don't know where he was or what happened to him. He was a Marine and he wasn't using it, so I was there and I recall the planes-the torpedo bombers-would fly maybe twenty feet above the water or something, so you're really shooting right straight at 'em and they'd come down between the ships. I remember seeing this guy and his bomber down there-and you could see the pilot-and shooting at 'em, and uh, I don't really remember if I hit 'em or not…but then I remember we came back and we tried to pick up some Japanese who were sitting on the top of there aero-plane that was down in the water and they wouldn't let us. They had pistols and bolt rifles and they were on top of their airplane shootin' at us, so the captain said shoot 'em.
SCOTT: Okay, well let's uh, let's move away briefly from combat experiences, um, to the more social aspects of your time in the Navy. Did you ever use alcohol to excess?
SIME: No, I never used it to excess.
SCOTT: And, do you remember using and drugs?
SIME: Oh no, I never got into drugs.
SCOTT: Did you ever get into any military trouble? Were that SPs ever called, were the MPs ever called when Jim Sime came into the bar or came out of the bar? [Laughs]
SIME: Uh, well I had gotten in a couple of bar fights, but I'd never been involved with the Shore Patrol. I was usually on Shore Patrol. But, I remember, I had joined the Navy and two friends that I had made were, had fought in San Francisco at this prize fight in, I think they called it the "Bucket of Blood" up there in San Francisco, and uh, so we used to go ashore a lot, and they were fun lovin' guys and it was my job to go into the bar and start an argument and they'd come in and clean it up. And this one time I went in and started the argument and they didn't come in, and [Laughs] they nearly broke up our friendship. But, you know, it’s easy for a sailor to go in and start an argument with a Marine anyway. That was a pretty good pass-time, but you know even the fights we had were not like today. They were what you call a fair fight: you knocked the guy down, he goes down. Nobody kicked anybody or anything like that…
SCOTT: So, in so far as maybe in some of the training you had or on ship, on shore, if any one your comrades was disciplined. Did you ever see the corporal punishment that was meated-out: um, given extra exercises to do, push-ups, pealing potatoes-anything like that?
SCOTT: Do you remember maybe if there was one of your comrades on the ship who wasn’t pulling his weight. Can you remember maybe groups of friends or buddies getting together and trying to discipline him on your own? Or was it always done via the chain-of-command?
SIME: Oh no, we took a lot of that discipline ourselves. I mean, we gave it. People who wouldn’t pay attention or were out of control, I can recall taken a couple of guys over to the shower and sobering ‘em up, so they don’t get in trouble.
SCOTT: Here’s a question you don’t have to answer-I’ll give that disclaimer-but, the question is, were you celibate during your World War II service?
SIME: I won’t answer it. [Laughs]
SCOTT: Okay. Moving onto the next question as smoothly as possible, at the end of the War, describe your separation process-getting out of the Navy.
SIME: Sounds like some of these have been put to you to ask me.
SIME: Some of the sea stories I tell here, and the real truth is…well anyway. Ya, uh, coming to the states, we left uh, Japan. I don’t remember what the city was and we came to the Philippines and we picked up soldiers to bring ‘em home. And, at the time, the War was over, and there were so many points for time in service, so many points awarded for combat you’d been in, so many points for different medals that you had. God, I had points coming out my ears, so I should have been one of the first discharged, so we get to San Diego-it was terrible, the trip home-because there was no order on the ship at all with the troops we were carrying: they wouldn’t move, they wouldn’t do anything-we couldn’t control ‘em. And they didn’t give a darn-the War was over. And, uh, you know, the sailors that had to wash the ship down, hell the guys would just stay there, they wouldn’t get out of the way, whatever. It was really just wild, so we got into San Diego, and-I was on the Griggs then, the U.S.S. Griggs-and I don’t recall clearly, but the troops are all ashore and we were, I think tied up to the dock, and we, uh, everybody was getting discharged, and we in the supply corps, was checkin’ ‘em out and signing ‘em off, and sending over into San Diego, and San Diego would ship ‘em to wherever they were supposed to go. So, the last guy goes, and this was probably 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon and we’re sittin’ around and I said, “Gee, when am I going?” And they said, “Well, we’re going to Australia tomorrow and we need you on the ship.” [Laughs] I said “No way! I’m going to go” And, they said, “Well, you can’t.” And, I said, “Well, watch me!” And that’s how I happened to just go ashore without a jacket and just my shirt, so they got, they sent a message up to the captain, and he said “Let ‘em go.” So, I had to check out my stuff, and the money, and the various things I was responsible for, and went ashore, got onto the Navy station, Naval station, and got on the train, and I took some sailors up to San Francisco, and that’s were I was going, and I left the ship…
SCOTT: So, the War’s over basically for you now, and you’re back home, you’re in San Francisco. What now? What now? What did your life transform into?
SIME: Well, I went to parents’ home, and of course, everyone’s glad to see me…you know, I had to get a job, I figured I needed a job, and uh, I had some money saved from running some poker games on the ship, uh, and uh, you know, when I left my old job, I was working a Whalen Drug Company which was part of United Cigar Company or United Cigar Drug Stores-they were the ones who used to have the Indian standing out in front-so, I didn’t want to go back there. I guess I went back, but it, everything had changed, the people were different you know and hell, I’d’a probably just gone back into the same job that I’d had before…things change. So, I left my parents’ house and went downtown to San Francisco and got a room in a hotel and started to look and uh, I got a job with a guy who ran a fishing tackle company. Well that seemed to be the idea and uh, that was pretty good, so I bought into the company with the money that I had and-quite a bit of money-and uh, I was an equal partner, but it seems that this fellow was having an affair with a woman, and a couple years later, one day I was deer hunting and I came back and he was gone and money was gone and “oh boy, we got a lot of problems.” So, that was, that was that.
And, I had gotten married to the girl that I had met in Honolulu.
SCOTT: So, how did you make your living…after the War.
SIME: Well, somehow, coming out of the service, being in the supply corps, we were, I guess I was thinking of becoming a CPA. Well, I had a commission as a public accountant, a PA, and uh, next thing I knew, I was working for a plumbing wholesale company as a purchasing agent and away I went, and I stayed in purchasing for the rest of my career.
SCOTT: How were you regarded by people, uh, people you’d run into during uh, your time after the War? Were you looked at as a hero? Were you given first class treatment?
SIME: Oh ya. We were…there were a zillion of us.
BREAK IN TAPE
SCOTT:…Sime and how he was viewed as a hero, coming back to the states, and what does he have here?
SIME: I have here, a letter from the uh, from the supply officer on the USS Griggs that he gave to me before I left the Navy, I was still on the ship. But, it was a “To Whom It May Concern” letter, and I’ll let you read it whenever you feel like it. It’ll probably answer all your questions as to what I did, uh…See I can’t even, I’m trying to remember the date. Now, here, on this thing on the President Jackson, they say she was hit by a Japanese bomb in November of 1943. Well, I went aboard the Griggs on 1944, and I, I don’t remember that bomb, and uh, they said we landed in Bougainville, I don’t…I don’t remember that either.
Now, I do remember Emaru, or whatever they call it, Island in New Britain. Now that was just off the coast of Australia, I believe, and…I remember going ashore there, being a supply person, I could go and get whatever was needed for the ship and uh, they had these Japanese prisoners all enclosed in a big wire coral, and these natives from the various islands around there were still natives. I mean, they didn’t wear anything. They eat, they’ll cannibals, and [Laughs] the Japanese probably were scared because the Marines guarding them always threatened them. They got fat, they’d turn ‘em loose on the cannibals, and the cannibals would sit out there, “yum, yum, yum.” Oh, it was something, so…
Okay, I’ll put this over here and you can read it, after while I guess…
SCOTT: Okay, great…thanks, Jim…so, moving on, it sounds like you utilized the GI Bill to purchase a home. Where did you buy your home?
SIME: Well, I bought it in Belmont, California. And, uh, there it was half built, and the builder ran out-he took off. And, I didn’t uh, have him insured or covered which was, I figured the bank had done it, but there was so much building of homes and things going on then, and I guess it just got lost, so I finished the house myself, and that was uh, boy that was a real…job. And uh, I think my payment was sixty-dollars a month, including insurance at that time. I think it was, 6 or 7 thousand dollars, it was small, and then I sold it for 13, 14, and I bought another house in Belmont, already built [Laughs].
SCOTT: Okay, um, I’m gonna go ahead and insert my own question here; just something we have the liberty to do. Um, with regard to your attitude to Japan, um, do you still harbor any resentment toward Japan?
SIME: No. Uh, we won and they lost. Uh, no, there’s no resentment. Sometimes I feel that uh, in their schools…maybe they do now, a while back they hadn’t put enough emphasis on the War, on their participation in it. We were the bad guys that dropped the two bombs, and what would have happened if we hadn’t have dropped the bombs? I mean, there would have been four times as many people lost, plus all the people we would have lost. It would have been horrendous. But, I think the Japanese are very good people. I have had a lot of dealings with uh, with the Japanese, and American-Japanese are, hell they’re great. We’ve had ‘em to the house. They’re regular guys. Uh, this house here, was owned by a Japanese couple. We see them up at the store everyday. No, I have no resentment, but I know some of my shipmates do, and uh, I was quite surprised by it. I don’t say anything.
SCOTT: We’ll, we’re coming to the end here, and uh, I was wondering if you wanted to um, add anything for the record to your interview?
SIME: No, I uh, I think it uh, I gave you a pretty straight-forward interview as opposed to some of the stories that I tell here at dinner time. Uh, you know, and uh, some of what would be fit to put on this, and some are true and some aren’t, but they all love it and I think Debbie has probably taken some of those to heart…I was a pretty wild guy. I guess I was a pretty wild kid when I was growing up, even in the Navy…I really resented being under the control of someone, they way you are there. I mean, you told when to go to bed, when to go to the bathroom, when to eat, and uh, that really has never been my cup of tea. That’s why I like my wife Marilyn, she’s, you know, I can do no wrong; well that’s not true [Laughs]. I think she understands me pretty well.
SCOTT: Well, that’s a sweet thing to say and it’s on tape, too. [Laughs]. So, um, I think with that I’m gonna go ahead and end this portion of the interview which will be submitted to the California Military Museum. Um, but, uh, I am James Scott the interviewer. This is James Sime, the interviewee, at his home in Sonora. We thank you very, very much. It’s been honor speaking to him. The time right now looks to be about 11:08, and uh, this, this portion of the interview has concluded. Thank you very much…
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Last updated November 18, 2002. Please send comments, questions, and reports of problems to firstname.lastname@example.org. Composed by: James Christian Scott, CSUS Reference Librarian. Copyright ©: 2001.