A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname

Notes for Gordon Lewis BARNUM

Gordon graduated from Independence (Oregon) High School on 8 June 1928.

Gordon L. Barnum served in the US Navy from 1929 to 1933. In 1939, he and his wife Eunice were living at 2333 SW 6th Avenue, Portland, Oregon. Eunice was listed as a telephone operator and Gordon was operating a gas station at 2301 SW 6th Avenue. Source: 1939 Polk’s Portland (Oregon) City Directory.

In the 1940 US Census for Errol Heights, Multnomah County, Oregon the family of Gordon Barnum was enumerated as follows:
4832 SE Knapp Street; Family #195; Non-farm home rented for $14.00/mo.
Barnum, Gordon L.; Head; Male; White; 32; Married; Highest grade: H-4; b. Washington; Resided in San Diego, California on April 1, 1935; At work on previous work day; Worked 48 hour during previous week; Laborer; Railroad; Wage earner; Worked 36 weeks during 1939; Earned $335 during 1939; Did not receive $50 or more from sources other than wages or salary
Barnum, Eunice R; Wife; Female; White; 37; Married; Highest Grade: C-4; b. Oregon; Resided in San Diego, California on April 1, 1935; At work on previous work day; Worked 44 hour during previous week; Telephone operator; Cleaners & Dyers; Wage earner; Worked 52 weeks during 1939; Earned $1144 during 1939; Did not receive $50 or more from sources other than wages or salary

Gordon enlisted in the wartime Navy (WWII) on 23 June 1942. The following is a transcription of a letter sent by him to members of his family in December 1942, outlining his activities during Operation Torch, which began on 8 November 1942 and terminated on 11 November of the same year. In an attempt to pincer German and Italian forces, Allied forces (American and British Commonwealth), landed in Vichy-held French North Africa:
Morning of Dec 7-1942. Dear Folks & Eunice, Lee & Thelma & Son, Doris & Don, Marion, Pat, Kreigs & Tiny. Just a few lines now. I am going to really give you the dope and try to get it through. You will have to be sure to keep it quiet, I left the States on the 26th of September. We arrived in North Ireland at Belfast the tenth of October after stopping at Halifax, left Belfast and went to Inderary for landing maneuvers. From there we joined a large convoy, at Greenich, Scotland. After four or five days a convoy of forty transports with its escort left for Africa. The convoy split just outside of Gibraltar, we went through the Rock about the fifth of November. The sixth we had our first air raid. That day we joined a large task force of twenty-six ships. Our convoy included six transports with its living escort. The morning of Nov. seventh we lost our first ship, the USS Thomas Stone was hit on the rudder by an aerial torpedo; it was disabled and later towed into Algiers. That night our loading barges and tank lighters were lowered at about 10:30 P.M. The first wave of commandos hit the shore at about 11:30 or twelve. There was little resistance on the beach, but some resistance was met farther inland, an airport was taken over about six miles inland; a fort offered some resistance but the task force soon changed their minds. We had raids all day Sunday and had a large one Sunday night. Our ship (the troop transport USS Leedstown) was the only one hit; it was also hit on the rudder by an aerial torpedo and disabled. One of our gunners got the plane. Early the next morning they dropped flares on us,but no bombs. At daylight Monday a lone Stuka came over and dive bombed at one of the ships, but missed. Soon after this the convoy left us and went into the harbor at Algiers; we were left with a corvette to protect us. They were dropping depth charges all morning; at 12:30 Monday morning we had an attack. We had a six-foot miss on one side of the ship and a twenty-foot miss on the other; about six minutes later we were hit rear amidships by two submarine torpedoes. We had to abandon ship. We lost four of the men in the engine crew and four in the surf. I was picked up by the corvette. Most of the crew were in the water about two hours. The corvette kept picking up survivors and patrolling for the sub. During all this time we had little R.A.F. protection. Monday night we had a large air raid and the R.A.F. went into action; they downed thirteen of eighteen aircraft. Our convoy was credited with twelve enemy planes and our ship got three or four of those. During the raid that night our ship was finished off. I stayed on the corvette until six the next morning. I was transferred, along with 150 others that were picked up by the corvette, to an English transport, from there to a mine sweeper, and from thereto the destroyer escort USS Chase. The rest of the crew was taken aboard about Thursday. After the convoy was unloaded we headed for Gibraltar. Twenty-nine of the Leedstown were put on the cargo ship Almaac,including six radio men. We left at four o’clock one evening for England. At 3:30 the next morning the Almaac was torpedoed (our second in a week). We were taken back to Gibraltar on a Norwegian destroyer. We went on a hike through part of Gibraltar, from there an American destroyer brought us to Casablanca. We radiomen were given shore duty. We have a little hope of getting to the states, but are not too sure of it. This isn't such a bad place. We haven't been paid yet, our records were lost, so I don’t know when we will be paid. All for now. I’m sending this with a Merchant sailor. Write soon, all my love,Gordon.

From the Oregon Statesman, Salem, Oregon, 30 January 1943: Navy Radioman On Home Visit. Independence, Jan. 30 (Special)—Gordon L. Barnum, navy radioman, has returned to Independence to visit his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Barnum, after surviving a series of thrilling experiences, including the torpedoing of two ships, off the coast of northwest Africa. Barnum was aboard the Leedstown, which was sunk after attacks by a torpedo plane, a high-altitude bomber and a submarine. Rescued by an English corvette, Barnum and others were finally transferred to a cargo ship only to have it torpedoed. He later was taken to Casablanca and served on duty there for a month. Barnum also will visit his brother Lee at Salem. Another brother Don was chief radioman on Guam when that island was captured by the Japanese and now is held prisoner by the Japanese.

Later in the war, Gordon served in the Pacific aboard the escort carrier USS Kitkun Bay (CVE-71). New Year's Day 1945 dawned with CVE-71 steaming as part of Task Unit 77.4.3 (Lingayen Transport Cover Group) bound for the invasion of western Luzon. After passing through Surigao Straits, the convoy underwent a series of air attacks. Air cover destroyed seven enemy planes but at 1857 hours (6:57 pm) a Nakajima Ki-43 “Oscar” got through and crashed into Kitkun Bay’s port side amidships at the waterline. Almost simultaneously a 5-inch shell struck her starboard side. The resultant fires and flooding were brought under control, but 16 were dead and 37 wounded. The following day, with a list and only one engine operating,she withdrew and proceeded by stages first to Leyte, then to Manus, to Pearl Harbor, and arrived at San Pedro, California on 28 February.

From the Oregon Statesman, Salem, Oregon, 7 October 1945: Barnum Awaits His Discharge. Independence—Gordon L. Barnum, RM 2/c, formerly of Independence, has recently arrived at Treasure Island from Guam and is awaiting discharge. A veteran of the original African invasion, he was a crewman of the ill-fated transport Leedstown which was sunk in Algiers harbor, Nov. 8, 1942. For the past six months he has been aboard the [submarine chaser] PC-882 [USS Asheboro], which has been used in weather observation and rescue work. He served an enlistment between 1929 and 1933 and has spent three years in the wartime navy. He and his wife now make their home in Portland. A younger brother, Donald Barnum, chief radioman, USN,has recently been liberated from a Japanese prison camp and is at home with his wife and son in Independence.

After the war, Gordon owned and operated a gasoline station in Sandy, Oregon for a number of years. He and his wife later operated rural newspaper routes in the Sandy area, for many years rising at three o’clock in the morning seven days a week and driving thousands of miles each year while delivering the Oregonian newspaper.

From U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949: Name: Gordon L Barnum; Ship, Station or Activity: USS Leedstown (AP-73); Muster Date: 30 Sep 1942; Service Number: 392 99 32; Rating: RM3c V-6; Date of Enlistment: 8/4/42; Place of Enlistment: Portland, Oregon.

From U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949: Name: Gordon L Barnum; Ship, Station or Activity: USS Burns (DD-588); Muster Date: 3 Apr 1943; Service Number: 392 99 32; Rating: RM3c V-6; Date of Enlistment: 8/4/42; Place of Enlistment: Portland, Oregon. [Identical information for muster date of 19 May 1943].

From U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949: Name: Gordon Lewis Barnum; Ship, Station or Activity: USS PCE-882 (PCE-882); Muster Date: 23 Feb 1945 (which was the commissioning date of the vessel); Service Number: 392 99 32; Rating: RM2c. [Identical information was found for muster dates 31 March, 1 July and 1 September, 1945, with the exception of the middle initial "L" in place of his full middle name].
Adjacent to (and sometimes confused with) Fir Hill Cemetery.

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