Hartley Bayne, an Eastern Shore Maryland native, was drafted into the Navy in 1943 during the Second World War. He served as a radar instructor and technician in Jacksonville, Florida. He protected the American Atlantic Seaboard against the German U-Boat campaign.
Down in Jacksonville, Florida, [German POW’s] worked in the mess halls. Most of them could speak English as good as I did, you know. You meet strange things. I remember one time going through the chow line, and one guy had a plate. There were trays with little pockets in there. And he had finished eating. And when you came out, you dumped your tray in a big garbage can and put your tray inside so they could wash it. But this guy just walked up to a German prisoner, and he threw the stuff right into the German prisoner’s [face]. I said, “Ignorant.” That was an ignorant thing to do in my opinion, you know. He didn’t want to be where he was; he was forced. And I didn’t want to be where I was. (laughs) But that was the case.
Scaring a Farmer
I’ll never forget one time a hotshot pilot, he was a good pilot, we flew down south to Florida. Targets, and a lake down there. As we were coming back up, there was a farmer on a tractor. And he came down real low and went over that farmer. (Laughs). Just for fun, you know. I never forgot that, (laughs) but I often wonder how that farmer felt.
Looking for a Submarine
I was teaching radar in a room in Jacksonville, building 167, and my officer who was named Molyneau, he was a good guy. He said, “They need you over at BB1 sitting over there [at the] airstrip.” It was a big building where planes gassed up there and parked there and everything. So, I went over and got this plane. I still didn’t know what was going on. The other radio man came from another part of the base, and I didn’t know him so we got acquainted. And I said, “What’s going on?” He said, “I don’t know. They just told me to do this so I did.” And we took off, and we turned north. I figured we were in South Carolina, and I figured right. And all of a sudden the plane made — it was 1,200…1,500 feet — and it made a real sharp turn and put her in a dive. And I said, “What the hell is he doing?” (Laughs). Then I looked out the blister, and I could see the submarine. And he dropped two torpedoes and both landed right on top of the conning tower. And then water just shot up and chairs and life jackets. I didn’t see any bodies, but there was fifty-nine men aboard [the] German submarine. Fifty-nine men, and I didn’t find that out until I told my son about it, and he got on his computer and he told me everything —the fifty-nine men on it and all that stuff.
I went to high school and took agriculture, and you had to have a project so I raised Poland China pigs. And of course killed them, ate them,you know, in Fall down at my uncle’s house ‘cause he had this scald. You scald them and scrape them with a thing, get the hair off of them and all that stuff. They’re called bells, and you scrape and you get the hair off the hog.
In the Navy, in the radar end of it, and they kept me there as an instructor. I instructed candidates going through, just regular guys like myself. And then the Academy, Norfolk officers came down for their two weeks, and I taught them,and I didn’t even have a rank, I was the lowest man you could get to be, but I knew what was going on with the radar, and they kept me there as an instructor. I taught them on the ground, in a classroom, in a building, of course. And then I taught them in the air. I could take, I guess it was eight at a time. Others went to San Diego or elsewhere, but I had, I bet it was probably twenty of them. They were all good fellows. They were officers, but that didn’t. Just had one guy acted up a little bit one time. The pilot heard, saw it, and he said “When we get down, you tell him I want this plane scrubbed from bottom to top, stem to stern with soap and water.” That was an order, and I had to tell that guy you go to the chief on the ground and tell him what I just told you. I walked away, and you better believe he did his job [laughs].