J. Sherwood Tuttle, Commander, USN

Oct. 1, 1914 - Sept. 28, 1997



Captain John Sherwood Tuttle, he preferred "J. Sherwood Tuttle",  the second commanding officer of the WATCHMAN was a mustang Quartermaster first class in the enlisted ranks.  I recall, as a young Ensign that he would come into the wardroom and order up a head of lettuce from which he would peel leaves all the while carrying on a normal conversation.  He also had a thing about lemons.  Later, I found out that he was a survivor of the USS POPE (DD-225) which was sunk in the Java Sea in February, 1942. He and his shipmates along with survivors of HMS ENCOUNTER spent about 20 hours in the water before being picked up by the Japanese destroyer IKAZUCHI commanded by LCDR Shimsaku Kudo. The IKAZUCHI picked up a total of 442 people at great risk to her own safety.  (Read more about this episode in the links below.) He then spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp in Celebes.  Perhaps the lack of these foods while in the POW camp created a craving within him.  Anyway the following sites give more information about him,  the USS POPE (DD-225) as well as the Japanese ship that picked him and other survivors up.

Capt. Tuttle's POW history:  http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=304620

More on the USS POPE (DD-225): http://military.wikia.com/wiki/USS_Pope_%28DD-225%29

LCDR Kudo: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=59721642

Info on Celebes POW camphttp://ww2today.com/7th-april-1942-suffering-and-defiance-as-prisoners-of-the-japanese

Official report on sinking of POPE http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/logs/DD/dd225-Java.html

From the above web pages: "The following day, Ikazuchi rescued 442 survivors from Pope and Encounter. The survivors had been adrift for about 20 hours - in rafts and lifejackets, or clinging to floats, many coated in oil, and some blinded. This humanitarian decision by Lieutenant Commander Shunsaku Kudō placed Ikazuchi at risk of attack, and it interfered with her fighting ability, due to the sheer load of rescued sailors. The action was later the subject of a book and a 2007 TV programme."


Ray Hand served as Electronics Materiel Officer (EMO) under Capt. Tuttle and offered a few anecdotes.

Hi Frank,

and all my shipmates,

But first a warning.  

Once I got stated writing sea stories about Captain Tuttle I kept thinking of more stories.  I probably have written way too much but I did it anyway.


Captain Tuttle is certainly a colorful part of Watchman history and there are many sea stories that can be told.  Given his World War II experiences, however, I think his sometimes seemingly “eccentric behavior” — like the lettuce episode — should be forgiven.  

As an idealistic fleet Ensign just out of the Naval Justice School, I confronted him from time to time about his, “unique interpretations” of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  This did not please the Captain.  He was fond of saying, “Nobody tells me how to run my ship.”  From time to time, however, I was “called on the carpet” by a real lawyer/Navy Commander on Treasure Island who reviewed our ship’s legal actions.  Fortunately for me, he clearly understood relationships between Captains and a junior officers and he thankfully he always “had my back”.

On a more positive note, I am grateful to Captain Tuttle for the opportunity he gave me to learn how a navy ship works as a “system” from stem to stern.  I think he thought that cross training of junior officers was a good safety measure for the ship.  In any event, it had a significant influence on my future career as a naval system engineer.  

In keeping with his motto, “Nobody tells me how to run my ship”, the Electronics Material Officer (EMO) and the Supply Officer stood bridge watches.  The EMO billet was designated for limited duty officers only that had previously been an Electronic Technician Chief.  But the Captain wanted to promote the EMO, Glen Grosenbach. to Operations Officer and so he did.  And then he promoted me to EMO since I had a degree in electrical engineering.  Captain Tuttle made the rules for his ship.

I never observed the Captain pealing a head of lettuce, but he did like J. Sherwood Tuttle and also perfected a very flowery “J.S. Tuttle” signature with which he signed all Watchman correspondence.  By the way, he insisted that all correspondence for his signature be typed without erasures.  Many a time a Yeoman retyped a letter several times before getting it “error free”.  In those days we had typewriters and not word processors and printers.  By the way, when I left the Navy he gave me a nice letter of recommendation complete with the flowery “J.S. Tuttle” signature.

Captain Tuttle making “full” Commander was a rare and significant accomplishment for a mustang in those days and should be respected.  Never the less, he must have been planning for it for sometime.  I remember him coming aboard ship in his brand new blue dress uniform with three shiny new gold stripes on each sleeve and a Commanders hat with shiny gold “scrambled eggs”.  We then put to sea and we all shifted to our khaki uniforms.  Soon the Captain made an appearance on the bridge and the scrambled eggs on his khaki hat were so green you would have thought he had been wearing the hat in salt air at sea for 20 years.  Out of respect, I tried not to laugh, but I understood because I had heard as a midshipman that sometimes senior officers soaked their scrambled eggs in salt water for effect.

Three more stories and I am done.

First, my wife Sharon reminds me that while Watchman’s junior officers wanted to spend the little shore time we had with our wives and girl friends, Captain Tuttle always wanted to have a cocktail party.  Attendance at the parties was not mandatory but not attending was a big mistake.  Really big ! !

Second, Captain Tuttle enlisted in Portland Oregon and requested permission to take his own ship back to Portland to end his naval career.  Again, the junior officers would rather have been ashore in San Francisco but we went to Portland anyway.  The trip was never-the-less a experience to remember that included crossing the bar at the mouth of the Columbia River and a 12 hour “sea and anchor detail” up the river to Portland.  Captain Tuttle had schooled us on the dangers of crossing the bar but the inbound trip was uneventful with calm seas.  On our return the sea was rough.  Shortly after crossing the bar the engine room rang up “all stop”.  I was on the bridge and you should have seen the Captain’s face.  We had damaged the bearings on the forced draft blower to the boilers.  The Captain order the engine room to keep it running until we could get far enough off shore to effect repairs.  We then wallowed in the rough sea until repairs could be made and we could head home.

And finally a humorous story.  Captain Tuttle decided Watchman needed a new logo and that he would design it.  He had studied the “rules of heraldry” which he lectured us on during dinner in the Ward Room.  In order to draw a logo, he got some colored crayons and went to work.  He needed to sharpen the crayons to do his work so he used the pencil sharpener in the Chart House which was next to his Sea Cabin.  The crayon sharpening gummed up the pencil sharpener with crayon wax.  One day a Seaman, a Quartermaster striker, was sitting in the Chart House.  A Third Class Quartermaster came into the Chart House and took the cover off of the pencil sharpener.  He noticed the wax and said to the Seaman, “Who did this?”.  The Seaman said, “Captain Tuttle”.  So the Third Class said, “Then tell Captain Tuttle to clean it up.” and he left the Chart House.  No doubt the Captain heard the conservation from his sea cabin so later when the Third Class returned to the Chart House, the Captain walked in.  The Captain took the cover off of the pencil sharpener, noticed the wax, said, “That needs cleaning.”, took out his pocket knife, and started cleaning it.  You should have seen the look on the Third Class’ face when he thought the Seaman had followed his order.  Score one for the Captain’s sense of humor.

End of sea stories.  Best wishes to all my shipmates — Sharon and I talk regularly about you and the Watchman days.

Ray Hand