"Buster" Campbell's Account

Excerpts from the wartime diary of ship's baker, Harold "Buster" Campbell

On the afternoon of April 11, 1945, ship baker, Harold "Buster" Campbell, opened a diary and began to write:

Wednesday April 11

1400: "Well this day will live forever in my memory as the most exciting incident I've ever experienced! Pat and I were in the Photo Lab. 1404 the "Air Alert" was sounded and we both ran up to the bridge [08 level] and broke out our cameras. I used the K-20 as always and Pat the F-56. Well we saw a bit of firing on the horizon, then the Jap planes entered our area and all the ships in our Task Group opened up. We hit one and he exploded, I got a few shots [photographs]. While we were shooting this one, another came up off our stern. I got him in the sight of my K-20 and started shooting shots. He kept coming in through the greatest ack-ack [anti-aircraft gunfire] I've ever seen. 5", 40's and 20mm; about 100 yards off the starboard quarter he was hit slightly but kept coming. I keep shooting pictures. He then banked toward the ship about 25 ft above the water.I had taken approx 10 shots since I picked him up. He then came direct at the ship and hit us on the starboard quarter on the main deck, burst into flames. I was shaking but felt relieved after he hit. I took a beautiful shot of him as he hit and several as he came burning all along the starboard side till he ended at Mt. #1 [5" gun mount]. All in all I got 18 shots. Poor Pat was in back of me and couldn't get a thing. They put out the fire and believe it or not, we didn't have a single casualty, not a person was hurt. This I really believe is a miracle as I'll get the pictures to show just what happened. It only lasted about 5 minutes but it sure was something to see."

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