OPERATION CROSSROADS 75 YEARS AGO
To mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Crossroads in 2021, I’ve launched a series of posts lifted from the pages of Bill McGee’s Operation Crossroads, Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946. The posts are a retrospective of Crossroads as witnessed by Bill — a mix of photos and snippets of text, some humorous, some serious. Sign up for Sandra’s Occasional Newsletter (on the right) to receive new posts in your inbox. To view all of the posts to date, click HERE. Enjoy! – Sandra McGee
En Route to Bikini: Smuggled Aboard, 2 Feb 1946
At sea, USS Fall River (CA-131), 2 Feb 1946 – On January 31, the USS Fall River departed Hampton Roads, Virginia, for a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands called Bikini. Only the day before, the ship was headed to Europe. This sudden change of plans made for a disgruntled crew.
At sea, rumors were circulating aboard ship that someone was smuggled aboard. The story came out in the ship’s bi-weekly newspaper, The Old Fall River Line, also known as the Straight Dope:
At sea, 2 Feb 1946 – The Fall River crew increased by one. Since the new crew member was smuggled aboard, the ship’s log fails to report which port, let alone date, the crew member came aboard.
However, now it can be told. The “Straight Dope” on how our ship’s new member came aboard for duty. Through a man’s desire for companionship and his love of animals, the Fall River had her crew increased by one: a dog we’ll call “Guns.”
One night in January 1946, while visiting friends in Newport News, Gunner’s Mate Welsh of the Seventh Division was completely carried away by a small bundle of fur behind two large brown eyes. Nothing would do but sole possession. After much bickering, Welsh drove a bargain, and the dog was his.
All that remained was to get her aboard. After conspiring with Ullrich, “Pop” Finley, Farrel, and Hodkinson, it was decided that Welsh should shanghai her aboard under his peacoat.
The scheme proved successful, and the dog was kept hidden until the day before sailing, when she was discovered and ordered off the ship. All hands turned to, and through a special chit signed by “Guns Boss” Little and Executive Officer Dennett, “Guns” the dog was allowed to stay.
“Guns” the dog has been known by several names since first coming aboard. Some of the better known ones are “Flags” from her week’s stay on the Signal Bridge, “Hashmark” from her anticipated long naval career, and “Shanghai” for obvious reasons.
Ballots will be printed and distributed in chow line. Put in your vote for a name, and we’ll let you know the outcome in the next issue.
Excerpted from Operation Crossroads, Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946, “En Route to Bikini,” by William L. McGee with Sandra V. McGee.