Before we had a chance to wonder where our next assignment would take us, we were once again on our way to Japan. This time, as escort to thirty LST's and one LCFF, were bound for Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan, a distance of about 2500 miles. It was a long, slow, and tedious journey, with little to break the monotony except the fringes of a storm off Okinawa. During our passage through the Tsugaru Straits, which had been heavily mined by the Japanese and our own B-29's, we sighted and destroyed by gunfire our first mine. Gun No. 41 placed the telling shot. Before long another mine was sighted, and with very little time wasted, Gun No. 41 scored again!
After twelve days at sea, we reached Otaru. From our anchorage, the city appeared to be a picturesque place. The quaint little dwellings, the intricate rice terraces, and the strange temples of their religion were a pretty sight. Much was added to the beauty of the place by the light snow that fell during our stay. However, we soon revised our opinion of Otaru. On our first liberty we discovered that the streets were paved with mud, the dwellings that looked so quaint from a distance were really miserable hovels, and about the whole place was a pungent odor which we later learned was characteristic of all Japanese cities. Everywhere we were pursued by the local citizens, all of whom, it seemed, wanted to buy "American Cigaretto." After a short stay in Otaru, we escorted a portion of the LST flotilla to Hokodate, in the Tsugaro Straits. At Hokodate we found one of the best harbors in the world, and one of the most modern of Japanese cities. After completing this mission, we returned to Otaru, and from there escorted the remainder of the LST flotilla to Tokyo Bay.
From Tokyo Bay we were ordered to Nagoya for HECP duty. Upon our arrival in Nagoya early in November, we found that the natives in that area had ceased hostilities only a few days before. The city of Nagoya was the home of the well-known Mitsubishi airplane. In eliminating the aircraft factory, our airmen had destroyed half of the city. We were among the first ships to enter the harbor, and so were able to obtain some interesting and valuable souvenirs from the ruins. It seemed ironic that we should find many
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