6

In a March 26, 2019 Reddit post with 1.1k upvotes, there is a picture with a story as follows (emphasis added).

15 Mar 1952: The Wisconsin receives her first direct hit in her history when one of four shells from a North Korean 152mm gun battery struck the shield of a starboard 40mm mount.

Subsequently, the Wisconsin destroyed the battery with a full 16in salvo before continuing her mission.

After destroying the artillery battery with her big guns, the Wisconsin received a message from one of her escorts, USS Buck (DD-761). The message read simply "Temper, temper".

Did the event in bold, namely a message from the USS Buck (DD-761) reading "Temper, temper", ever get sent to the USS Wisconsin on or after 15 Mar 1952?

I have not seen any version of the story with the USS Buck's message until 5 days ago. Here is a picture of the USS Buck with the USS Wisconsin (and the USS Saint Paul (CA-73)) on 22 Feb 1952. The image can be accessed here. Original caption: Buck (DD-761), Wisconsin, and Saint Paul (CA-73) steaming in close formation during operations off the Korean coast, 22 February 1952. (U.S. Navy Photograph80-G-440021, National Archives and records Administration, Still Pictures Branch, College Park, Md.).

  • 4
    Hmm, you also asked this question on Skeptics SE, and it has an upvoted answer there. – Lars Bosteen Apr 1 at 13:30
  • 1
    @LarsBosteen Good point! The problem with the answer on Skeptics.SE is that it isn't definite. Everything in that answer, I had already discovered by self-research before posting the question. I would love to learn more and will award a 100 rep bounty. I am posting this question here because, as a more history-oriented community, you will have a new perspective and will be more skilled in finding new and interesting information (e.g. radio transcripts?). I hope that my motives are understandable and OK. I can happily delete this question instead. – Barry Harrison Apr 1 at 21:12
  • 1
    This seems like the sort of thing the Navy would be happy to relate, but they don't. Not here either. – Spencer Apr 2 at 23:12
  • 2
    Jokes like this were fairly common around bombarding battleships. During the bombardment of Genoa by the Royal Navy, the admiral in command, who liked to make jokes, had the signal "You look like an angry P&O" sent to the battleship HMS Malaya. Malaya had been paid for by the Federated Malay States, and always flew their flag, which was very similar to the house flag of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. – John Dallman Apr 7 at 9:14
  • 2
    @Evargalo Urban dictionary may help. – sempaiscuba Apr 8 at 15:36
8
+150

tl; dr

There is some evidence to show that the message was, in fact, sent during that engagement, but it seems unlikely that it was the USS Buck that sent it. It seems more likely to have been the USS Duncan (DDR-874).


Eyewitness account

There is a Facebook group dedicated to the USS Wisconsin (BB-64). This picture of the damage sustained by USS Wisconsin on 15 March 1952 was posted there on the anniversary this year (15 March 2019):

Shell damage to deck of USS Wisconsin

A member of the group, whose father served on the USS Wisconsin at the time posted the following:

"My dad told me about this. If I remember the story correctly this is when the USS Wisconsin received the message, “Temper, temper”"

Which is anecdotal evidence from an eyewitness (albeit at second-hand), which does suggest that the story of the message from an escort vessel may be true.


The Daybook

The Daybook is an authorised publication of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum which currently manages the battleship USS Wisconsin. In Volume 7, No 4 they relate two stories about the incident.

The first of these, part of the article titled 'Freedom Fighter: Battleship Wisconsin in the Korean War', states (on page 16):

"After observing Wisconsin returning the North Korean challenge in dramatic fashion, Duncan signaled to the battleship “Temper, Temper Wisconsin.”

This being a reference to the destroyer USS Duncan (DDR-874), the article having previously noted (on page 14):

"In early March 1952, Wisconsin and the destroyer USS Duncan (DDR-874) steamed north as part of an overall effort by the Navy and Air Force to strike targets deep inside North Korea ..."

Unfortunately, since they do not explicitly state their sources for the article, this cannot be considered canonical. However, as their website notes, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum Library "collects materials associated with the battleship Wisconsin", so it seems likely that the story has some evidential basis (which may, of course, be the recollections of men who served on her during the Korean War).


The second reference (on page 12), challenges the claim on many sites on the Internet (although no on the Reddit thread you cited) that the USS Wisconsin was hit by a 155mm shell. They point out that:

"the North Koreans didn’t use the 155-mm howitzer, as it is an American caliber"

and that

"It is a known fact the Soviets handed over a number of 152-mm guns to their North Korean allies."

It is interesting to note that, while I've found while trying to track down the source of this story, most of the sites that state the message was from USS Buck also state that the USS Wisconsin was hit by a 155mm shell.


Naval History and Heritage Command

This identification of the escort as the USS Duncan seems to be confirmed by the website of the Naval History and Heritage Command, on its Korean War: Chronology of U.S. Pacific Fleet Operations, January–April 1952 page, which notes that on 16 March 1952:

"USS Wisconsin (BB 64) and USS Duncan (DDR 874) at Songjin Chaho area; received four salvos from shore battery vicinity Dojo-ri. One direct hit slightly injured three personnel, material damage to Wisconsin negligible. Wisconsin scored 2 direct hits in counter-fire."


After Action Reports

Unfortunately, although some After Action Reports from the Korean War are available online (including a collection available to view and download from archive.org), the actual After Action Report covering this incident doesn't appear to be among them (yet).

This may well be part of the collection 'Reports and Other Records Relating to Korean War Military Operations, 1950 - 1956' held by the US National Archives. This collection is described as follows:

"This series consists of reports and other records relating to U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations during the Korean War. Included are final reports on U.S. Pacific Fleet operations, and on the First Marine Division operation at Chosin Reservoir. After action reports on other operations, and many maps and map overlays are included. There are national intelligence surveys on Korea, and transcripts of interviews with Marine officers about their combat experiences. Illustrated pamphlets on major lessons of the Korean War, and published historical studies on U.S. Air Force operations in the war are also included. At the end of the series is an Army War College conference report on United Nations military operations in Korea to the end of 1951, and First Marine Division general orders designating combat units in Korea for 1953. The records were maintained by the History and Museums Division and its predecessor."

Since the Hampton Roads Naval Museum also maintains an extensive collection of material relating to the USS Wisconsin (as it says on their website), they may well also have copies of the reports there (in addition to records of the recollections of men who served on her during the Korean War).

  • You have my upvote for such a highly detailed answer. Thank you for your time and contributions to History.SE! – Barry Harrison Apr 8 at 0:28
  • I never noticed the difference in gun caliber before (155 mm in the website cited by Spencer vs. 152 mm in the reddit post). – Barry Harrison Apr 8 at 0:30
  • Would you like to post this answer to the same question on Skeptics.SE? I will accept it over the current answer (although it may be highly upvoted).. – Barry Harrison Apr 12 at 2:25
  • @BarryHarrison I'm not actually a user of Skeptics:SE – sempaiscuba Apr 12 at 2:27
  • 1
    @BarryHarrison By all means, although you might want to add a link back to this one to avoid any accusations of plagiarism. – sempaiscuba Apr 12 at 2:31
2

The only source I have found prior to the Reddit post is this page on MilitaryHistoryNow which was published in August, 2018 in conjunction with the release of Amy Waters Yarsinske's book USS Wisconsin: The Last Battleship.

I suspect the real answer will be found in Ms. Yarsinske's book or its bibliography. The site contains the text

Following the exchange, an escort ship using its signal lamp jokingly signaled Wisconsin: “Temper, temper!”

Notice this mentions "an escort ship" of Wisconsin rather than the Buck specifically. The Reddit post adds the detail, and it may be that the poster got the information from reading the book.

That said, the Navy's own fleet chronology mentions the incident, but not the Buck:

16 March

USS Wisconsin (BB 64) and USS Duncan (DDR 874) at Songjin Chaho area; received four salvos from shore battery vicinity Dojo-ri. One direct hit slightly injured three personnel, material damage to Wisconsin negligible. Wisconsin scored 2 direct hits in counter-fire.

  • Would you mind including the text found in the book? Thanks! – Barry Harrison Apr 6 at 20:32
  • @BarryHarrison The poster does not have the book. They deduce the source of the story will be found there, since the author of the book is also the writer of the linked article. – Boaz Apr 7 at 4:29
  • @BarryHarrison Given your interest in the subject, you may find it useful to get the book. It’s available on Amazon of course, but there are already used copies for sale as well: abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&cm_sp=SearchF--home--Results&an=&tn=&kn=&isbn=9781634990486 – Boaz Apr 7 at 4:34
  • @Spencer Got it. I would have to say that, personally, something in a book is more credible than something on a website. Of course, that may be personal bias. Thanks for the link to the book! – Barry Harrison Apr 7 at 5:19
  • Depends on the book. While looking into this I actually found a book which listed the Missouri as the battleship in the group photo above. Also, according to the comments on the website this answer references, the original article (edited now) implied the Wisconsin was involved in Beirut in 83, which it was not. Neither books or websites are always right. – justCal Apr 7 at 14:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.