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"We saw a mess…" (Video interview, 10:28)

   Jim Ralph Beigh
Collection image
Jim Beigh [detail from video]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Memphis (CL 13); USS Wright (AV 1); USS Breckinridge (DD 148); USS Estes (AGC 12); ZP-12 (Airship Patrol Squadron)
Service Location: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Pensacola, Florida; Maine; San Francisco; Philippines; Pacific Theater
Rank: Chief Aerial Photographer
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On December 7th, Jim Beigh was aboard the USS Wright, steaming back to Pearl Harbor after delivering cargo and Marines to Wake Island. In the days that followed, he would confront not only the carnage of the attack, but a huge new set of responsibilities: after his entire division was transferred to Ford Island, he was left aboard ship to train a crew to man the anti-aircraft guns. Later on in the war, he was sent to photography school to learn how to shoot cameras instead of guns, eventually becoming a Chief Aerial Photographer.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (68 min.)
»View List (3 items)
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»Pearl Harbor
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Headed back to Pearl Harbor from Midway on day of attack; heard the news; went to general quarters and manned guns; altered course slightly; arriving in Pearl Harbor and seeing carnage; attempting to rescue survivors. (02:14) The day after the attack, he was told that the rest of his division had been transferred off the ship to Ford Island; put in charge of two guns and the crew to run them (02:29) Experiences at photo school in Pensacola, Florida; had previously been taught to mix chemicals; at photo school, was taught how to operate movie cameras, still cameras, and aerial cameras. (02:02)
Taking pictures of Japanese submarines that had gone aground; taking pictures of the plane crashes that happened when pilots would fly along railroad tracks upside down; photographing swamps filled with alligators. (02:20)  
 Memoirs (3 items)
Handwritten memoir, April 1940 to Dec. 30, 1941, aboard the USS Wright Handwritten memoir, USA Photo School, Pensacola, FL Handwritten memoir, My Duty Aboard the USS Estes AGC 12

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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