Hamilton County


Mike DeMoss




Blairsburg Sailor Survived Torpedoing of U. S. Cruiser

Forced off a torpedoed cruiser, afloat on a raft for 43 hours with 164 men aboard it, landing on a small island where the party spent eight days with only roots and wild bananas to eat, was the experience of Mike DeMoss, son of Mr. and Mrs. L. E. DeMoss of Blairsburg in the upper Solomon islands group. It was a harrowing experience.

Mike, a boatswain mate, is enjoying a short furlough at the home of his parents and other relatives in the Blairsburg community.

On Bombed Cruiser

Bo’sun DeMoss has been in the navy for more than four years, having enlisted May 1, 1939. Immediately following his enlistment he was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and assigned to the U. S. cruiser, Helena. When the Japs staged their sneak attack on that harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, the Helena was badly damaged by bombs and her crew was sent back to the United States.

It took six months to repair the cruiser, at the end of which time Bo’sun DeMoss, with others of the crew were returned to Hawaii and assigned again to the U. S. cruiser Helena.

Same Ship Torpedoed

Soon afterward, the Helena was sent to the Solomons, where she did patrol and escort duty and also participated in a number of sea battles. While engaged in a desperate battle July 6, 1943, she was torpedoed and sank.

Many of her crew were killed, some drowned and others got away in life boats and rafts. The life boats and rafts were all picked up by planes and U. S. crafts except the one occupied by Bo’sun DeMoss and his comrades.

Marooned on Island

The 164 men crowded on this raft drifted about for 43 hours on the open sea and finally, weakened by exposure, thirst and hunger, they landed on a small, uninhabited island in the upper Solomons known as Fella Lavella. There they stayed for eight days, subsisting wholly on roots they dug up and wild bananas gathered from the trees on this tropical island. On the eighth day they were rescued by a U. S. Naval destroyer which had sighted their signals while on patrol duty. The men were pretty hungry when taken off the island for roots and wild bananas made a rather monotonous diet.

They were returned to their base, being no worse for their experience. Bo’sun DeMoss says that none of the men lost any weight.

To Newport News

His furlough expires Oct. 11, when he must report to Newport News, Va. He does not know where he will be sent from there, except that he will likely be transferred to one of the European theaters of war. His period of enlistment will expire in 18 months, or upon the duration of the war if it should end before that time.

Bo’sun DeMoss likes the service but is undecided as to whether he will remain after his period of enlistment expires. His naval rank compares to a sergeant in the army.

He speaks modestly of his experiences, but naturally hopes some of them will not be repeated when he goes back again for active service.

Source: Webster City Freeman, Oct. 4, 1943

Beverley Alan ‘Mike’ De Moss was born Sept. 4, 1917 to Leroy E. and Grace L. Slone DeMoss. He died Dec. 1, 2000.

Mike served with the U.S. Navy in World War II and survived when his ship was torpedoed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Source: ancestry.com