Yesterday while reading through my Twitter news feed, I came across this photograph posted by the USS Hornet Museum @HornetMuseum.  At first I thought this would be a great addition to my ancestry records as I thought that my dad would have experienced this Thanksgiving feast but in looking back at the muster rolls, my dad was transferred off on October 25, 1945.  The war with Japan was over by this time so the transition to peacetime had already begun. Even though, he would not have been on board for this event, I thought it was a fitting posting for today, Thanksgiving 2015.

Thanksgiving Menu USS Hornet CV-12 1945

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

It is April 1945, the world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).  In my last posts, I covered the Battle of Iwo Jima and other events in February and March 1945 leading up to the Battle of Okinawa.  This post will be the first for the Battle of Okinawa and cover April 1945.

General Background (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Okinawa)

ww2 asia map 47

The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II. The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and planned to use Okinawa, a large island only 340 mi (550 km) away from mainland Japan, as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japanese mainland (coded Operation Downfall). Four divisions of the U.S. 10th Army (the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th) and two Marine Divisions (the 1st and 6th) fought on the island. Their invasion was supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.

USS Hornet (CV-12) operating near Okinawa, 27 March 1945. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-14466).

USS Hornet (CV-12) operating near Okinawa, 27 March 1945. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-14466).

The battle has been referred to as the “typhoon of steel” in English, and tetsu no ame (“rain of steel”) or tetsu no bōfū (“violent wind of steel”) in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of kamikaze attacks from the Japanese defenders, and to the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Based on Okinawan government sources, mainland Japan lost 77,166 soldiers, who were either killed or committed suicide, and the Allies suffered 14,009 deaths (with an estimated total of more than 65,000 casualties of all kinds). Simultaneously, 42,000–150,000 local civilians were killed or committed suicide, a significant proportion of the local population. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria caused Japan to surrender less than two months after the end of the fighting on Okinawa.

Nimitz reveals to the world the news of U.S. invasion of Okinawa, 325 miles from Tokyo. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)

Nimitz reveals to the world the news of U.S. invasion of Okinawa, 325 miles from Tokyo. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)

According to the USS Hornet (CV-12) ship’s log:

6/7 Apr 1945 – Okinawa Invasion. During the period more than 500 Japanese planes attacked task force. Of the 152 shot down, HORNET scoreboard tallied more than one third of the kills.

Sixteen F6F Hellcats from VF-17 running up their Pratt & Whitney R-2800's on April 6, 1945 to attack the Japanese battleship Yamato and her escorts.

Sixteen F6F Hellcats from VF-17 running up their Pratt & Whitney R-2800’s on April 6, 1945 to attack the Japanese battleship Yamato and her escorts.

07 Apr 1945 – HORNET pilots find and conducted initial attacks on the largest Japanese battleship YAMATO which is left sinking.

14-16 Apr 1945 – HORNET aircrews downed more than 60 Japanese planes along Kyushu.

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

East Sunday, 1 April 1945, was LOVE Day of the operations against Okinawa and the Task Group’s (58.1) mission was to furnish air support to forces of Task Force 51 which were making the initial landings.  These strikes continued with scattered enemy air assault.  Friday, 6 April 1945 was a “Field Day”.  The Hornet fliers shot down 53 enemy planes, and the ship’s personnel were at General Quarters most of the day, dodging the “Banzai Boys”.

Hornet under attack as seen from Bennington (CV-20), April 1945. Photo by Lowell Love.

Hornet under attack as seen from Bennington (CV-20), April 1945. Photo by Lowell Love.

USS Hornet (CV-12), along with USS Bennington (CV-20), shooting down a kamikaze off Okinawa, April 1945.

USS Hornet (CV-12), along with USS Bennington (CV-20), shooting down a kamikaze off Okinawa, April 1945.

Early on the morning of 7 April 1945, Navy search planes far to the north reported the incredible feet that an enemy task force, comprising the heaviest and fastest warships Japan still possessed, had left its bases in the Inland Sea, steamed stealthily along the coasts of Kyushu during the night and was now headed into the East China Sea.  The entire Task Force (TF 58) raced northward at top speed, and shortly after noon flight quarters sounded and the planes were launched.  The Yamato was mortally wounded by eight torpedo hits and eight 1000 lb. bombs, racked by a series of tremendous explosions and sank beneath the waters of the China Sea less than sixty miles from Kyushu, her guns blazing to the very end.  Two cruisers and three destroyers shared her fate, while the remaining six destroyers, heavily damaged, were left burning in the water.

"A Kamikaze just misses USS Hornet. This picture was taken on the USS Hornet (CV-12) off Okinawa during April 1945 by Photographer’s Mate 2/c Paul D. Guttman, and it was definitely not taken with a telephoto lens! The black specks visible in the midst of the blast aren't flaws in the film, they're bits of shrapnel from the exploding plane. Paul was knocked unconscious by the blast, and came to later, in sick bay. He wasn't even aware that he'd taken this picture until sometime later, after the film was developed!" "The other carrier visible in the background, wreathed in smoke from the firing of her own AA guns, is supposedly USS Intrepid (CV-11) [(?)]."

“A Kamikaze just misses USS Hornet. This picture was taken on the USS Hornet (CV-12) off Okinawa during April 1945 by Photographer’s Mate 2/c Paul D. Guttman, and it was definitely not taken with a telephoto lens! The black specks visible in the midst of the blast aren’t flaws in the film, they’re bits of shrapnel from the exploding plane. Paul was knocked unconscious by the blast, and came to later, in sick bay. He wasn’t even aware that he’d taken this picture until sometime later, after the film was developed!”
“The other carrier visible in the background, wreathed in smoke from the firing of her own AA guns, is supposedly USS Intrepid (CV-11) [(?)].”

Later that afternoon (7 April 1945), two twin-engined enemy Frances’ got through the Task Groups protecting patrol and pounced upon the formation.  They were detected and blasted out of the air within a few thousand yards of the Hornet due to the expert marksmanship of the Hornet’s gunners.

The next several days saw the Hornet’s Air Group ranging up and down the Ryukyu chain, striking at opportune targets. Kikai, Tanoga Shima, Amami O Shima, enemy ground forces on Okinawa, and even Kyushu itself felt the burning sting of our strafing, bombs, and rockets. On Saturday, 14 April 1945, two Bettys carrying rocket planes were shot down.  This rocket plane with rider is called “Baka”, the Japanese name for fool.  Also on 14 April 1945, one of the patrols shot down 18 planes which were trying to reach our force. In the afternoon two planes were splashed by ship’s gunfire.  Sunday and Monday, 15, 16 April 1945 were also days of accomplishment.  The ship was at General Quarters most of the time.  From late Sunday night to early Monday morning the ship was under constant attack in the light of flares almost as bright as day, and much credit goes to the night fighters for their skill in breaking up attacks before the enemy could get in on us.  Monday, 16 April 1945, was another “Field Day” for the Task Group.  Here is an itemization of the results:

  • Early in the morning one of the night fighters shot down a Betty, and ship’s gunfire bagged a low flying heavy enemy plane.
  • Sweeps to Kyushu shot down out of the air fourteen single-engined planes, burned ten on the ground and seriously damaged ten planes which did not burn.
  • The 16 April 1945 saw a total of seventy two airborne planes shot down by this Task Group.
  • No pilots were lost that day.

From the 18 – 27 April 1945 continuous strikes were made against the areas of Kikai-anami, Tokuno, Okinawa, Minami, Daito Jima, and Kita Daito Jima. Napalm was dropped on several of these strikes with generally good results.  The Task Group began retirement towards Ulithi on the 27th and anchored in the Ulithi Harbor on the 30 April, 1945.

Unique shot of a VF-17 Hellcat being lowered down Hornet's deck edge elevator showing her geometric tail and wingtip design, April 1945.

Unique shot of a VF-17 Hellcat being lowered down Hornet’s deck edge elevator showing her geometric tail and wingtip design, April 1945.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

The world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

I recently accessed a war diary on the website Fold3.  This war diary provides a narrative of the Hornet’s activities during each month.  Most of my posts on this blog have been based on factual sources about the war in the pacific and where the Hornet was involved; however there wasn’t always something in those sources specifically about the Hornet.  I plan to go back to some of my previous posts and add some of these pieces of information.  Recently I added the January – March 1944 and the December 1944 information.

According to the ship’s log:

16 Feb 1945 – HORNET launches pre-dawn strikes on Tokyo to resume where HORNET (CV-8) had left off 34 months before.

Late Feb 1945 – Strikes in support of Iwo Jima invasion.

In part 1, I covered February 1945

19 Mar 1945 – Strikes conducted against Kobe and Kure while HORNET cruised 40 miles off Japanese coast.

Kobe, Japan after the 1945 Air Raids

Kobe, Japan after the 1945 Air Raids

 

Map showing the destroyed areas.

Map showing the destroyed areas.

Three Japanese aircraft carriers and an unidentified submarine in Kure Bay, during strikes by US Navy carrier planes, March 19, 1945. Carrier at the extreme right is IJN Kaiyo. Those in the center top (barely visible) and at the bottom are probably IJN Amagi and IJN Katsuragi. The submarine is underway in the upper left. Photographed by an Air Group 17 plane from USS Hornet (CV-12). Kaiyo, a 16,748-ton escort aircraft carrier, was built at Nagasaki, Japan, as a civilian passenger liner. Source: http://worldwar2database.com/gallery/wwii1251

Three Japanese aircraft carriers and an unidentified submarine in Kure Bay, during strikes by US Navy carrier planes, March 19, 1945. Carrier at the extreme right is IJN Kaiyo. Those in the center top (barely visible) and at the bottom are probably IJN Amagi and IJN Katsuragi. The submarine is underway in the upper left. Photographed by an Air Group 17 plane from USS Hornet (CV-12). Kaiyo, a 16,748-ton escort aircraft carrier, was built at Nagasaki, Japan, as a civilian passenger liner. Source: http://worldwar2database.com/gallery/wwii1251

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

March, 1945 – A month of Sever-Tolling Strikes.  The first few days in March 1945 were occupied in singeing the board of the Japanese Emperor. Up and down along the fringe of the important Ryukyu chain, or Nansei Shoto, the ships of the fast carrier task force ranged,lashing out with crippling strikes against Okinawa and other islands with our fighter, torpedo, and bombing planes. The Japanese themselves estimated the number at more than six hundred.

Location of the Ryukyu Islands.  In an attempt to include a picture of Nansei Shoto Island, I learned unless I am mistaken that they are one in the same.

Location of the Ryukyu Islands. In an attempt to include a picture of Nansei Shoto Island, I learned unless I am mistaken that they are one in the same.

Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Islands - Loochoo Islands) Source: http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/nansei_shoto.shtml A Pocket Guide

Nansei Shoto
(Ryukyu Islands – Loochoo Islands)
Source: http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/nansei_shoto.shtml
A Pocket Guide

US Government: Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Island - Loochoo Islands), A Pocket Guide, US Government, ca 1945 (pre-invasion - April 1, 1945), pamphlet, 2 maps, 9 illustrations (most cartoon type drawings), 4 1/4 x 5 1/4 in, paper wraps, staple bound, 39 pp (2 blank for "Notes"). Reproduced by 30th engineer Base Top BN. USAFCPBC. No. 5356. This is obviously a pocket guide prepared for troops about to engage in the Nansei Shoto (Okinawa) campaign of WWII. Loaded with basic information and guidance to include an "English into Japanese" section with such terms as "Cease fire!," "If you resist you will be shot!," and "Shut up!." A typical government undertaking. Everything the American GI would need to know for the pending invasion of Okinawa. Source: http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/nansei_shoto.shtml

US Government:
Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Island – Loochoo Islands), A Pocket Guide, US Government, ca 1945 (pre-invasion – April 1, 1945), pamphlet, 2 maps, 9 illustrations (most cartoon type drawings), 4 1/4 x 5 1/4 in, paper wraps, staple bound, 39 pp (2 blank for “Notes”). Reproduced by 30th engineer Base Top BN. USAFCPBC. No. 5356. This is obviously a pocket guide prepared for troops about to engage in the Nansei Shoto (Okinawa) campaign of WWII. Loaded with basic information and guidance to include an “English into Japanese” section with such terms as “Cease fire!,” “If you resist you will be shot!,” and “Shut up!.” A typical government undertaking. Everything the American GI would need to know for the pending invasion of Okinawa. Source: http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/nansei_shoto.shtml

Our forces sank or damaged 55 of Japan’s ships, destroyed or damaged 91 planes; and smashed and burned their military installations such as radio stations, buildings, hangers and barracks.  From March 4th through 14th 1945, the Hornet was at anchor in Ulithi harbor.  The usual replenishment of supplies and recreational parties took place.

Hornet, showing heavy weathering and rust after more than a year of sustained combat and salt water, anchored at Ulithi on March 6, 1945 with Air Group 17 on deck. LCI(L)-1052 is in the foreground.

Hornet, showing heavy weathering and rust after more than a year of sustained combat and salt water, anchored at Ulithi on March 6, 1945 with Air Group 17 on deck. LCI(L)-1052 is in the foreground.

The ship weighed anchor on the 14 March 1945 and set her course for Kyushu.  The 18 March 1945 was occupied in heavy strikes against the southernmost part of the Japanese home islands: Kyushi, Shikoku, Honshu, and the Inland Sea.  The principal targets were airfields.  The planes of the Task Group (58.1) came in so fast that by noon 800 had been sent out and by 2 p.m. 1400 had been sent out.  The devastating blows of our airmen against Kure Bay in the Inland Sea where a large portion of the enemy fleet was hiding, marked a day of brilliant activity that will long be remembered in the history of Naval Air warfare.

One of VB-17's SB2C Helldivers taxiing out for launch, March 1945.

One of the USS Hornet’s VB-17’s SB2C Helldivers taxiing out for launch, March 1945.

The Task Group’s score:

  • Ships sunk:  Six freighters
  • Ships badly damaged: One or two battleships, two or three large aircraft carriers, two light aircraft carriers, two escort carriers, one heavy cruiser, one light cruiser, four destroyers, one submarine, one destroyer escort, seven freighters.
  • Aircraft: 281 planes shot down out of the air, 275 destroyed on the ground, more than 100 damaged in the first days attacks, and a large number damaged in the second day’s attacks.
  • Ground installations: Hangers, shops, arsenals, and storage facilities were destroyed.
Hornet recovering and Bennington (CV-20) launching aircraft off the coast of Japan, March 1945. (National Archives photo).

Hornet recovering and Bennington (CV-20) launching aircraft off the coast of Japan, March 1945. (National Archives photo).

This video is freely downloadable at the Internet Archive, where it was uploaded by WWIIPublicDomain. Naval Photographic Center film # 11149. National Archives description “This film shows Okinawa under a bombing attack and views of the USS Hornet (CV-12).” National Archives Identifier: 2462408 Invasion of Okinawa: The USS Hornet, 03/19, 1945 (full)

During this time, our fleet was under heavy air attack.  The afternoon of 21 March 1945 at least twenty “Bettys’ with escorting fighters were on their way to get the ships.  The Hornet’s CAP broke up the attack completely by shooting down 16 of the Bettys and 14 of the fighters.  Three fighters and one Betty were damaged.  The rest high-tailed for home.

planes

Beginning on 23 March 1945, preliminary neutralizing strikes were sent out against Korama Rotto, which was shortly thereafter successfully invaded.  The islands of Miyako, Mikusuki, Amami O Shima, Kikai and Minami Daito are generally in this area.  On 24 March 1945, Lt. (jg) W.B. Vail and Walter F. Miller made the 18,000th landing on the Hornet.

March 1945, with Air Group 17 on the flight deck. National Archives.

March 1945, with Air Group 17 on the flight deck. National Archives.

Another aerial view of USS Hornet (CV-12) during operations off Okinawa, in March 1945, with Air Group 17 aboard.

Another aerial view of USS Hornet (CV-12) during operations off Okinawa, in March 1945, with Air Group 17 aboard.

Another aerial view of USS Hornet (CV-12) underway, that might have been taken at the same time as the photos above

Another aerial view of USS Hornet (CV-12) underway, that might have been taken at the same time as the photos above

USS Hornet (CV-12) operating near Okinawa, 27 March 1945. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-14466).

USS Hornet (CV-12) operating near Okinawa, 27 March 1945. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-14466).

In the last 13 days of March 1945 in attacks on the Ryukyus and Kyushu, the task force (58.1) planes destroyed 750 Japanese planes, damaged 217, sank 34 ships, probably sunk 14 more and damaged 33.  This is why there was so little initial enemy interference with the Okinawa invasion.

What else happened in the US Navy during March 1945 – USS Franklin (CV-13) bombed.

This is one of three videos about the USS Franklin’s attack in March 1945.  The other two cover her recovery.

 

 

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

The world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

I recently accessed a war diary on the website Fold3.  This war diary provides a narrative of the Hornet’s activities during each month.  Most of my posts on this blog have been based on factual sources about the war in the pacific and where the Hornet was involved; however there wasn’t always something in those sources specifically about the Hornet.  I plan to go back to some of my previous posts and add some of these pieces of information.  Recently I added the January – March 1944 and the December 1944 information.

According to the ship’s log:

16 Feb 1945 – HORNET launches pre-dawn strikes on Tokyo to resume where HORNET (CV-8) had left off 34 months before.

Late Feb 1945 – Strikes in support of Iwo Jima invasion.

19 Mar 1945 – Strikes conducted against Kobe and Kure while HORNET cruised 40 miles off Japanese coast.

Iwo_jima_location_mapSagredo

February 1 – 18, 1945

40mm Quad Machine Gun Mount firing on board USS Hornet (CV-12), circa February 1945, probably during gunnery practice. The original picture caption identifies the photo as having been taken during Task Force 58's raid on Japan, 16 February 1945. However, helmetless members of the gun crew, and rolled up shirt sleeves, strongly indicate that the occasion was in warmer climes and not while in combat. View looks aft on the port side, with the carrier's port quarter 5"/38 guns just beyond the 40mm mount. Note ready-service ammunition and spent shell casings at right; men passing 4-round clips to loaders at left. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-413915).

40mm Quad Machine Gun Mount firing on board USS Hornet (CV-12), circa February 1945, probably during gunnery practice. The original picture caption identifies the photo as having been taken during Task Force 58’s raid on Japan, 16 February 1945. However, helmetless members of the gun crew, and rolled up shirt sleeves, strongly indicate that the occasion was in warmer climes and not while in combat. View looks aft on the port side, with the carrier’s port quarter 5″/38 guns just beyond the 40mm mount. Note ready-service ammunition and spent shell casings at right; men passing 4-round clips to loaders at left.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-413915).

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

The personnel of the USS Hornet (CV-12) enjoyed a period of rest and relaxation at Ulithi up to the the tenth, on which day the ship once again got underway for major action.  The sixteenth of February was D minus 3 days of the operations against Iowo Jima and the day of our first carrier plane attack against Tokyo.  The weather proved a serious handicap and limited the amount of damage which might have otherwise been inflicted on grounded aircraft on the numerous fields around Tokyo.  Strikes were launched against Chichi Jima on 18 February 1945 where Susaki Airfield and Omura Seaplane Base were attacked.

 

 Direct air support of expeditionary forces which landed on Iwo Jima on the nineteenth were begun on 20 February 1945.

U.S. Marines in Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel (LCVPs) head for the beach at Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945, during the initial landings.

U.S. Marines in Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel (LCVPs) head for the beach at Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945, during the initial landings.

Upon a designated area near Iwo Jima, the Commander Control Unit (CTG 51.10) in the USS Eldorado (AGC-11) assigned specific targets or target areas to strike leaders.  It was the observation of flight leaders from the Hornet’s Air Group that this system of attach functioned well and that the ship-air communications were generally satisfactory throughout this phase of the operation.

ELDORADO in the Pacific. AGC-11 USS ELDORADO 1945.

ELDORADO in the Pacific. AGC-11 USS ELDORADO 1945.

For the next two days strikes were made on Chichi Jima and Haha Jima during the continuing air support of the Iwo Jima invasion.

Chichijima

Chichi Jima

Hahajima Island

Hahajima Island

The Task Group proceeded from here to make strikes on Tokyo for the second time.  The first strikes were launched on 25 February 1945 but weather conditions proved an insuperable obstacle to the mission and only one strike reached the assigned target.  After the fourth strike was launched further offensive operations were cancelled.  Task Group 58.1 in company with Task Group 58.2 and 58.3 continued steaming towards the vicinity on 28 February 1945 from which point strikes against Okinawa were to be launched the next day.

Task Group 58.1 Composition (Source: http://home.grandecom.net/~cvproj/tg-fast.htm)

Heavy Carriers (Essex-class): CV-12 USS Hornet  [ Flag of United States ] , CV-20 USS Bennington
Light Carriers (Independence-class): CVL-24 USS Belleau Wood, CVL-30 USS San Jacinto
Battleships (South Dakota-class): BB-58 USS Indiana, BB-59 USS Massachusetts
Battleships (Iowa-class): BB-62 USS New Jersey, BB-63 USS Missouri, BB-64 USS Wisconsin
Heavy Cruisers (Portland-class): CA-35 USS Indianapolis
Heavy Cruisers (Baltimore-class): CA-68 USS Baltimore, CA-72 USS Pittsburg
Light Cruisers (Brooklyn-class): CL-49 USS St. Louis
Light Cruisers (Atlanta-class): CLA-54 USS San Juan (Anti-aircraft light cruiser)
Light Cruisers (Cleveland-class): CL-64 USS Vincennes, CL-86 USS Vicksburg, CL-89 USS Miami
Destroyers (Fletcher-class): DD-502 USS Sigsbee, DD-540 USS Twining, DD-556 USS Hailey, DD-573 USS Harrison, DD-574 USS John Rogers, DD-575 USS McKee, DD-576 USS Murray, DD-658 USS Colahan, DD-659 USS Dashiell, DD-683 USS Stockham, DD-684 USS Wedderburn, DD-796 USS Benham, DD-501 USS Schroeder (Radar Picket), DD-554 USS Franks (Radar Picket), DD-797 USS Cushing (Radar Picket)
Destroyers (Allen M. Sumner-class): DD-727 USS Dehaven, DD-728 USS Mansfield, DD-729 USS Lyman K. Swenson, DD-730 USS Collett, DD-744 USS Blue, DD-745 USS Brush, DD-746 USS Taussig, DD-747 USS Samuel N. Moore, DD-731 USS Maddox (Radar Picket)

 THE BIG PICTURE

 While the war diary focused on where the USS Hornet was during this important battle of the war, I thought I’d step back and provide some information on Battle of Iwo Jima as a whole.  The following is a brief synopsis with the assistance of the following source http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-pac/iwojima/iwojima.htm

On 19 February 1945 U.S. Marines stormed ashore on Iwo Jima, a small volcanic island half way between the Mariana Islands and Japan. These landings opened more than a month of extremely bloody ground fighting between three Marine divisions and more than 20,000 Japanese defenders.

iwo_jima_landing

The Iwo Jima invasion began on 16 February 1945, when a formidable U.S. Navy armada started three days of pre-landing preparations. As minesweepers and underwater demolition teams cleared the nearby waters, warships and aircraft methodically tried to destroy the island’s defenses. However, given the abundance of well-concealed strong points and deeply buried underground facilities, this was not nearly enough.

The black sands of Iwo Jima with Mt. Suribachi in background. February 1945.

The black sands of Iwo Jima with Mt. Suribachi in background. February 1945.

Thus, when the Marines landed, they confronted intense opposing fire from the landing area and from flanking positions on Mount Suribachi in the south and the rugged terrain of northern Iwo Jima. Securing Mount Suribachi and the rest of southern Iwo Jima required more than four days of intense combat. Another week’s bloodshed brought the Marines into the middle of the desperately defended north, where the bitter fight to eliminate organized Japanese resistance took nearly four additional weeks.

Raising the flag on Iwo Jima 1945

Raising the flag on Iwo Jima 1945

For the U.S. Marines, Iwo Jima was the most difficult of World War II’s many tough fights. It remains an enduring demonstration of the essential role of infantry when ground must be captured, even when seemingly overwhelming air and sea power is present. The abundant heroism of the attackers was recognized by the award of twenty-seven Medals of Honor, more than half given posthumously.

Medal of Honor. (twenty-two) were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry at Iwo than for any other World War II battle. (A total of eighty-one Marines were thus decorated for the entire war.)

Medal of Honor. More than twenty were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry at Iwo. More than for any other World War II battle. (A total of eighty-one Marines were thus decorated for the entire war.)

In American hands, Iwo Jima soon became an important base for the air campaign that ended with Japan’s August 1945 capitulation, thus justifying the blood spilled to take it. Had the war continued, its role would have been even more critical.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

The world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

I recently accessed a war diary on the website Fold3.  This war diary provides a narrative of the Hornet’s activities during each month.  Most of my posts on this blog have been based on factual sources about the war in the pacific and where the Hornet was involved; however there wasn’t always something in those sources specifically about the Hornet.  I plan to go back to some of my previous posts and add some of these pieces of information.  Today I added the December 1944 information.

According to the ship’s log, in January 1945 – the USS Hornet (CV-12) enters the South China Sea for strikes on Formosa, Pescaderos, Saigon, Camranh Bay and Hong Kong.   According to various sources, the events of January 1945 were called Operation MIKE I and Operation GRATITUDE.

Operation Mike I was the first of seven operations, a series of American landings at Luzon between 1945-01-09 and 1945-01-31 after the conclusion of Operation KING, which was obligated by General McArthur’s insistence that he liberate the entire archipelago. MIKE consisted of seven proposed landings and other operations. Each plan was numbered, but they were executed out of sequence. Operation MIKE was followed by Operation VICTOR.  It was the major American landing on Luzon, the principle island of the Philippines. On 1945-01-09, the United States I Corps and XIV Corps performed an amphibious landing at Lingayen Gulf, halfway up the west coast of the island. The Japanese responded with an aerial Kamikaze attack that failed. The operation was concluded with no major contact between the ground forces.

The arrow on the map indicates the area of the landings

The arrow on the map indicates the area of the landings

Rushing out of a Higgins boat during the Luzon Invasion.

Rushing out of a Higgins boat during the Luzon Invasion.

Operation Gratitude was a raid of the South China Sea area conducted by the United States Third Fleet between 10 and 20 January 1945 during the Pacific War of World War II. During the operation, the Third Fleet’s aircraft carriers and battleships attacked Japanese shipping in and near Indochina on 12 January. The fleet then sailed north and attacked Formosa on the 15th of the month. Further raids were conducted against Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan the next day. Further planned attacks were frustrated by bad weather, and the Third Fleet departed the South China Sea on 20 January.  The Third Fleet’s raid on the South China Sea was highly successful. The American carrier aircraft and warships sank 40 Japanese ships and destroyed 110 aircraft. The Japanese succeeded in shooting down 98 aircraft, however.

FORMOSA

If you are not familiar with Formosa, it is the former name for Taiwan.

Formosa-3

January 3 and 4, 1945

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

In accordance with the stated mission, first strikes were scheduled for 3 January, against Formosa and the Ryukyus.  The four days enroute to launching position were spent in routine patrols, group exercises, and fueling.

Operations began with a predawn fighter sweep, launched on schedule in spite of unfavorable weather.  Weather was to remain the severest obstacle during the entire cruise, and it is greatly to the credit of the fliers that missions were generally carried out under the conditions encountered.

Airborne opposition was negligible, which was to be the rule throughout the cruise.  The principal targets on this and most subsequent strikes were plans on the ground and shipping underway and in the harbors.  Anti-aircraft fire and weather were invariably the chief causes of casualties.

The targets assigned to the Hornet this first day, as on all subsequent strikes on Formosa, were the airfields grouped around Tainan, the Pescadores and Takao and Toshien Harbors (see map above).  Frequently, under conditions of bad visibility Hornet fliers attached other fields, and shipping wherever encountered.  But for the most part they remained over the assigned areas.  On 3 and 4 January, the first two days of the operations, these targets were not particularly productive.  The net for the two days was one plan shot down, 30 planes destroyed or damaged on the ground, 1DE, 9 AKs, 25 luggers probably sunk or damaged, and various buildings and installations bombed.  There were no personnel losses during these strikes.

For me it is time for definitions:

What is a DE?  The Japanese Destroyer Escort Program. The Japanese suffered crippling destroyer losses in the Solomons in 1942. While the standard Yugumo destroyer class was an excellent design, its construction took far too long to make good the Japanese losses. The Japanese Navy therefore rushed a new design into production (the Matsu class) that emphasized ease of construction and survivability. These were designated as destroyers but resembled the American destroyer escorts, being slightly smaller but faster and better armed. Further simplifications to speed up construction resulted in the Tachibana design

Japanese Matsu Class Destroyer Escort

Japanese Matsu Class Destroyer Escort

What is an AK?   Cargo ships, together with transports, are the ultimate reason why navies exist.  They are the least expensive way to transport goods over long distances, though not the fastest.  A typical cargo ship of the late 1930s could carry a few thousand tons of goods at a cruising speed of perhaps 10 knots, with a fuel consumption of around 0.1 ton per nautical mile. Some of the older cargo ships still used coal instead of fuel oil.

jap_merch_vessels

What is a lugger?  A lugger is a class of boats, widely used as traditional fishing boats, particularly off the coasts of France, England and Scotland. It is a small sailing vessel with lugsails set on two or more masts and perhaps lug topsails.

Japanese wooden luggers

Japanese wooden luggers

The USS Hornet (CV-12) was part of Task Force 38 in the TG 38.2

TG 38.2

CTG RAdm Gerald F. Bogan

Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan

Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan

CV Hornet II, Hancock, Lexington II/GF
BB New Jersey/FltF, Wisconsin
CA (temporarily attached 01/11-01/12): Boston, Baltimore
CL San Juan
CruDiv17: Wilkes-Barre, Pasadena, Astoria II
DD Trathen (from 01/05)
DesRon52 DesDiv103: The Sullivans, Miller, Owen, Stephen Potter, Tingey
DesDiv104: Hunt, Marshall
DesRon62 DesDiv123: Ault, English, Waldron, Haynsworth, Charles S. Sperry
DesDiv124: Wallace L. Lind, John W. Weeks, Hank
DesRon61: (temporarily attached 01/11-01/12):
DesDiv121: De Haven II, Mansfield, Lyman K. Swenson, Collett, Maddox II
DesDiv122: Blue II, Brush, Taussig, Samuel N. Moore
Elements of Task Group 38.2 underway from Ulithi on 30 December 1944. Aircraft carriers are (front to back) INDEPENDENCE CVL-22, HORNET CV-12 and LEXINGTON CV-16. Cruisers at right are SAN JUAN CL-54 followed by CruDiv 17 ships. -U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-300093

Elements of Task Group 38.2 underway from Ulithi on 30 December 1944. Aircraft carriers are (front to back) INDEPENDENCE CVL-22, HORNET CV-12 and LEXINGTON CV-16. Cruisers at right are SAN JUAN CL-54 followed by CruDiv 17 ships. -U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-300093

VT-4 Avenger over the mountains of Formosa, January 3, 1945.

Not from the Hornet, but in the same operation. VT-4 Avenger over the mountains of Formosa, January 3, 1945.

January 5 – 7, 1945

I tried to find a map of Luzon that shows all the places mentioned below and this is the best I could find.

clark2

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

After fueling for a day, target was shifted to Luzon, and strikes were launched on 6 and 7 January from a position off the east coast of that Island.  Conditions were much the same as at Formosa – bad flying weather and little air opposition.  Five airborne enemy fighters were destroyed over the target in the two days, but there was no real fighter defense.  Friendly planes roamed over the island at will.  All airfields were attacked.  Hornet’s assigned area was a group of fields north of Clark Field, principally Bamban and Tarlac.  However, Mabalacat was frequently struck, and one sweep covered the Cagayan River Valley as far north as Aparri.  Frequently the weather was so bad that only fighters in a strike would get to the target.  The two days showed a score for Hornet of 25 planes destroyed or damaged on the ground, and many military trucks and several railroad locomotives strafed and burned.  Two fighter pilots and a bomber pilot and crewman were lost in action on 7 January, largely as a result of the very bad visibility.

Clark Field, Luzon, Philippines

Clark Field, Luzon, Philippines

 

US Army 40th Division, showing American soldiers advancing on the Japanese held up in the Bamban Hills, Bamban, Tarlac, Luzon, Philippines, 1945

US Army 40th Division, showing American soldiers advancing on the Japanese held up in the Bamban Hills, Bamban, Tarlac, Luzon, Philippines, 1945

 

January 8 and 9, 1945

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

After Luzon, the Task Force moved back to Formosa, fueling enroute on 8 January.  The first landings n Luzon were scheduled for 9 January, and there were reports of enemy shipping concentrations on the wet coast of Formosa.  This proved correct, as Takao Harbor and vicinity produced many fine targets on 9 January.  A few planes were strafed on the various airfields, and five locomotives destroyed, but the shipping score totaled a destroyer and 2 medium AKs blown up, a large oiler, a DE, and 6 medium freighters probably destroyed of damaged.  One torpedo plane was shot down by flak over the south tip of Formosa and one Torpedo crewman was killed in his plane, also by flak.

 World War II in Pictures- On January 9, 1945 the Hell Ship Enoura Maru was still in the harbor at Takao (and moored to the same buoy with a Japanese tanker making them a prime target) when aircraft - again from the USS Hornet - attacked.

World War II in Pictures- On January 9, 1945 the Hell Ship Enoura Maru was still in the harbor at Takao (and moored to the same buoy with a Japanese tanker making them a prime target) when aircraft from the USS Hornet attacked.

 

January 10 – 12, 1945

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

From Formosa, the Task Force steamed south to transit the Luzon Straits for the first time.  Night fighters from Independence splashed two high flying bogies, probably ferrying between Formosa and Luzon in the early dawn of 10 January.  Heavy weather delayed fueling on the 10th, and it was continued on 11 January.  Searches were flown on this day, covering practically the entire South China Sea.  Hornet’s Air Group flew three ten degree sectors to 420 miles, two fighters and one bomber in each sector.  Searches were negative, and after completion of fueling, course was set for the Camranh Bay-Saigon section of the coast of French Indo-China, for a surprise shipping attach at dawn on 12 January.  Two fast battleships, with cruisers and destroyers, were detached to steam ahead and destroy any fleet units found in Camranh Bay.

Predawn searches by night fighters found no major targets in Camranh Bay and the battleships and cruisers rejoined.  But the air strikes up an down the coast, from Saigon and Cape St. Jacque to Tourano, produced one of the biggest shipping hauls on record.  Hornet’s share of the shipping was a Katori Cruiser, a large oiler, a DE, and 2 medium freighters sunk, 7 DE’s and 9 freighters (large, medium and small), damaged, beached or set on fire.  Other air groups joined in some of these attacks.  Added to this were three seaplanes destroyed at Camranh Bay, and 14 land planes strafed at Tan Son Nhut field, near Saigon.  One torpedo plane and crew were lost in one of the shipping strikes, and a fighter pilot made a forced landing on land.  Word was subsequently received that this pilot was in friendly hands.

F6F-5N's VFN-41 CVL-22 USS Independance

F6F-5N’s VFN-41 CVL-22 USS Independance

 

Curtiss SB2C-3 Helldiver aircraft bank over the carrier before landing, following strikes on Japanese shipping in the China Sea, circa mid-January 1945. Photographed by Lieutenant Commander Charles Kerlee, USNR. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-469319).

Curtiss SB2C-3 Helldiver aircraft bank over the carrier before landing, following strikes on Japanese shipping in the China Sea, circa mid-January 1945. Photographed by Lieutenant Commander Charles Kerlee, USNR. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-469319).

 

$_57

A U.S. Navy Grumman TBM-3 Avenger of torpedo squadron VT-11 from the aircraft USS Hornet (CV-12) flies past three Japanese oilers burning in Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina (later Vietnam), on 12 January 1945.

A U.S. Navy Grumman TBM-3 Avenger of torpedo squadron VT-11 from the aircraft USS Hornet (CV-12) flies past three Japanese oilers burning in Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina (later Vietnam), on 12 January 1945.

 

January 13 – 15, 1945

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

For two days after the Indo-China strikes, the Task Force was occupied chiefly in riding out the fringes of a tropical typhoon.  On 13 January there was no flying at all.  On 14 January, searchers were flown, and the Task Force was fueled.  On 15th January, strikes and sweeps were launched against both Formosa and Hong Kong, and the China coast between.  Hornet’s Hong Kong fighter sweep bagged the prize of the day, a Tess, escorted by 4 Zekes, approaching Hong Kong.  All were splashed and even Tokyo Rose railed at this loss.  Hornet’s CAP splashed a Jill (Ticonteroga’s CAP got 4 Zekes a little later), a destroyer was bombed at the Pescaderos, but Formosa produced little, only about 15 planes strafed and probably destroyed, on the various fields near Tainan.  Of the fields near Hong Kong, only Kai Tak showed any planes, sixteen being counted, and three destroyed.  There were good shipping targets in Takao Harbor, but a low ceiling plus barrage balloons and intense anti-aircraft made any attacks suicidal and they were not undertaken.  One bomber water landed on return, the pilot only being recovered.

 

Definition time again.

What is a Tess? The United States gave names to Japanese aircraft.  Tess was the name for Douglas DC-2 used by Japan.

Douglas DC-2

Douglas DC-2

What is a Zeke?   Another American name for Japanese aircraft.  A Zeke was better known as a Zero which was the Mitsubishi A6M.

A6M3 Model 22, flown by Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa over the Solomon Islands, 1943

A6M3 Model 22, flown by Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa over the Solomon Islands, 1943

What is a Jill?  Another American name for Japanese aircraft.  A Jill is a Nakajima B6N Navy Carrier Attack Bomber.

A Japanese Nakajima B6N2 "Tenzan" torpedo bomber in flight.

A Japanese Nakajima B6N2 “Tenzan” torpedo bomber in flight.

 

Heavy seas and rain on the morning of 13 January 1945. USS LEXINGTON CV-16 attempts to fuel from ATASCOSA AO-66 while a destroyer takes a heavy roll to starboard. -U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-299869

Heavy seas and rain on the morning of 13 January 1945. USS LEXINGTON CV-16 attempts to fuel from ATASCOSA AO-66 while a destroyer takes a heavy roll to starboard.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-299869

 

In an image often incorrectly attributed to Typhoon Cobra, a SUMNER-class destroyer plunges in a trough in the South China Sea on 13 January 1945. This image was taken from NEW JERSEY BB-62. -U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-470284

In an image often incorrectly attributed to Typhoon Cobra, a SUMNER-class destroyer plunges in a trough in the South China Sea on 13 January 1945. This image was taken from NEW JERSEY BB-62.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-470284

 

Tokyo Rose (alternative spelling Tokio Rose) was a generic name given by Allied forces in the South Pacific during World War II to any of approximately a dozen English-speaking female broadcasters of Japanese propaganda. However, Iva Toguri is the most famously linked name behind the Tokyo Rose. She was a native to Los Angeles and was stranded in Japan because she was visiting her family when the war broke out. The intent of these broadcasts was to disrupt the morale of Allied forces listening to the broadcast. American servicemen in the Pacific often listened to the propaganda broadcasts to get a sense, by reading between the lines, of the effect of their military actions. She often undermined the anti-American scripts by reading them in a playful, tongue-in-cheek fashion, even going as far as to warn her listeners to expect a “subtle attack” on their morale.

 

Iva Toguri D'Aquino mug shot, Sugamo Prison - March 7, 1946.

Iva Toguri D’Aquino mug shot, Sugamo Prison – March 7, 1946.

Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong. Circa 1946, Short Sunderland Mk.V flying boats of en:No. 209 Squadron RAF (visible in the middle left of photo is 'WQ-S', one of the squadron's Sunderland) parked on land and at the seaplane anchorage of en:Kowloon Bay off en:RAF Kai Tak. Also visible in the foreground is a Douglas Dakota Mk.I of en:No. 215 Squadron RAF.

Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong. Circa 1946, Short Sunderland Mk.V flying boats of en:No. 209 Squadron RAF (visible in the middle left of photo is ‘WQ-S’, one of the squadron’s Sunderland) parked on land and at the seaplane anchorage of en:Kowloon Bay off en:RAF Kai Tak. Also visible in the foreground is a Douglas Dakota Mk.I of en:No. 215 Squadron RAF.

 

January 16, 1945

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

On 16 January, the Task Force strikes covered Hong Kong, Canton, and Hainan.  Hornet’s Air Group was assigned shipping, docks, and airfields in and about Hong Kong.  Strikes on the docks and shipyards were successful.  Three ships were burned and much damage done to the docks at Taikoo shipyards, Kowloon and Cosmopolitan Dockyards at Kowloon, and the Royal Navy Yard at Hong Kong were heavily hit.  But the results of the strikes against ships anchored in Hong Kong Harbor were not commensurate with the effort expended or the losses.  A combination of cramped terrain, intense and concentrated A/A (my guess anti-aircraft) and water too shallow for proper torpedo runs all contributed to the unsatisfactory outcome.  Hornet lost 2 fighters and on torpedo with all personnel.  Photos showed 2 large oilers in Hong Kong Harbor damaged by the attack, one moored at the Royal Navy Yard.  Planes on Kai Tak field were strafed, and the Texaco Oil Tank at Kowloon was burned.

24208-050-01C640E2

Task Force 38 Air strike on Hong Kong 16 Jan 1945

Task Force 38 Air strike on Hong Kong 16 Jan 1945

Kowloon 1945

Kowloon 1945

 

January 17 – 21, 1945

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

For the next four days, the Task Force cruised the South China Sea, fueled, flew extensive searches, but conducted no effective operations.  On the night of 20 January, the Luzon Straits were transited again, this time on a northeasterly course.  The CAP’s of the two other Task Groups accounted for 12 bogies destroyed during the transit, again all appearing to be ferry planes.  Strikes on Formosa were ordered for the following morning.

Formosa, particularly Takao, Tainan, Pescadores area (see map at beginning of post), was by this time a familiar target for Hornet’s fliers.  Shipping was not plentiful, but there were targets in Takao, Toshien, and Pescadores Harbors.  Two destroyers were hit (one fresh out of dry dock at the naval base at Mako Ko, Pescadores), and three large oilers, 5 medium freighters damaged at Takao and Toshion.  Three airborne fighters were destroyed, and upward of 60 destroyed or damaged on the ground.  Enemy rolling stock was reduced by three more locomotives.  The weather was favorable for once, and there were no losses to Hornet’s Air Group.  The day was marked, however, by the only real enemy attack on the force during the entire operation.  Shortly after noon, with hardly any warning from radar, CTG 38.3 reported his Task Group under attack.  No planes got as far as Task Group 38.2, 10 miles distance, but in all, 28 planes were counted in the two main raids which came in.  Of these, 22 were splashed, 20 by CAP and 2 by ships A/A.  Hornet remained at General Quarters for several hours, but all strikes were launched on schedule.  Task Group 38.2 CAP did not encounter any enemy planes.

 

January 22 – 31, 1945

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

The last strike of the cruise was against Okinawa, on 22 January.  The mission was primarily photographic, and there were very few respectable strafing or bombing targets.  A few luggers and fishing boats were fired by strafing, several old looking planes bombed, rocketed, and strafed on Yontan, and Le Shima fields, and various buildings and trucks destroyed.  But in general the day was unproductive and uneventful.  Machinato and Yonabaru fields assigned to Hornet, were completely negative.  The target also clouded up in the afternoon, and photographic results were impaired.  The Okinawa strike ended offensive air operations for the cruise.  It has been a long and intense period for the Air Group, made more difficult by continuous bad weather.  All hands were ready to return to Ulithi for replenishment, which was ordered on 23 January

 

A mix of Hellcats. Flat windscreen F6F-5's and round windscreen -3's from VF-11 on Hornet, late January 1945, launching for strikes against Formosa.

A mix of Hellcats. Flat windscreen F6F-5’s and round windscreen -3’s from VF-11 on Hornet, late January 1945, launching for strikes against Formosa.

Hornet and Independence (CVL-22) together, Jan. 25, 1945, as seen from Enterprise (CV-6). National Naval Aviation Museum, photo # 1996.488.245.010. Robert L. Lawson Photograph Collection.

Hornet and Independence (CVL-22) together, Jan. 25, 1945, as seen from Enterprise (CV-6).
National Naval Aviation Museum, photo # 1996.488.245.010. Robert L. Lawson Photograph Collection.

CV-12-USS-Hornet-II-1945-01

USS Hornet (CV-12), January 22, 1945

Check back next time for the Battle of Iwo Jima (February – March 1945).

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

The world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

A VF-11 F6F getting a wave off while another Hellcat taxies out of the way, Dec. 1944 on USS Hornet (CV-12).

A VF-11 F6F getting a wave off while another Hellcat taxies out of the way, Dec. 1944 on USS Hornet (CV-12).

The famous "Murderers Row" at Ulithi lagoon, December 1944, as seen from USS Wasp (CV-18): USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), and USS Hancock (CV-19).

The famous “Murderers Row” at Ulithi lagoon, December 1944, as seen from USS Wasp (CV-18): USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), and USS Hancock (CV-19).

The ship’s log did not specifically mention this; however according to Wikipedia, in the months following the Battle Leyte Gulf, Hornet attacked enemy shipping and airfields throughout the Philippines. This included participation in a raid that destroyed an entire Japanese convoy in Ormoc Bay.

The Battle of Ormoc Bay was a series of air-sea battles between Imperial Japan and the United States in the Camotes Sea in the Philippines from 11 November-21 December 1944, part of the Battle of Leyte in the Pacific campaign of World War II. The battles resulted from Japanese operations to reinforce and resupply their forces on Leyte and U.S. attempts to interdict them.

Battle of Ormoc Bay Part of the Pacific Theatre of World War II

Battle of Ormoc Bay
Part of the Pacific Theatre of World War II

After the Battles at Leyte Gulf in late October, the Japanese commander in the Philippines, General Tomoyuki Yamashita, believed that the United States Navy had suffered severe casualties and that the Allied land forces might be vulnerable.

Tomoyuki Yamashita

Tomoyuki Yamashita

Accordingly, he began to reinforce and resupply the garrisons on Leyte.  The Japanese ran nine convoys to the island, landing around 34,000 troops from the 1st, 8th, 26th, 30th, and 102nd divisions. Ormoc City at the head of Ormoc Bay on the west side of Leyte was the main port on the island and the main destination of the convoys.

Decryption of messages sent using the PURPLE cipher alerted the Allies to the concentration of Japanese shipping around Leyte, but they initially interpreted this as an evacuation. However, by the first week of November the picture was clear, and the Allies began to interdict the convoys.

Codename Purple by the United States, was a diplomatic cryptographic machine used by the Japanese Foreign Office just before and during World War II.  The machine was an electromechanical stepping-switch device.  The information gained from decryption was eventually code-named Magic within the US government.  The codename “Purple” referred to binders used by US cryptanalysts for material produced by various systems; it replaced the Red machine used by the Japanese Foreign Office. The Japanese also used Coral and JADE stepping-switch systems.

The Japanese PURPLE machine. At the end of World War II, the Japanese destroyed nearly all of their code machines, and very few parts exist today. This fragment is on display at the National Cryptologic Museum in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of National Cryptologic Museum, NSA)

The Japanese PURPLE machine. At the end of World War II, the Japanese destroyed nearly all of their code machines, and very few parts exist today. This fragment is on display at the National Cryptologic Museum in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of National Cryptologic Museum, NSA)

TA-3 and TA-4 (Japanese)

On 8-9 November, the Japanese dispatched two convoys from Manila to Ormoc Bay. The convoys were spaced one day apart so that the destroyers escorting the first convoy could double back and escort the second. However, the convoys were spotted on November 9 and attacked by land-based aircraft of the Fifth Air Force.

Battle of Ormac Bay

Battle of Ormac Bay

On 10 November the 38th Bomb Group, based on Morotai, sent 32 B-25 Mitchells escorted by 37 P-47 Thunderbolts to attack TA-4 near Ponson Island.

Ordeal at Ormoc Bay

Reaching the convoy just before noon, the B-25s attacked at minimum altitude in pairs, sinking the two largest transports, disabling a third, and sinking two of the patrol craft escorts, at a cost of seven bombers, for which the group was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation.

On 11 November, U.S. 3rd Fleet commander Admiral William F. Halsey ordered an attack by 350 planes of Task Force 38 on the combined convoys.

Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey – Commander US Third Fleet at Leyte Gulf

Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey – Commander US Third Fleet at Leyte Gulf

Four destroyers — Shimakaze, Wakatsuki, Hamanami and Naganami — and three transports were sunk. Rear Admiral Mikio Hayakawa went down with Shimakaze.

DD Shimakaze - off Leyte 11 November 1944

DD Shimakaze – off Leyte 11 November 1944

A Japanese destroyer Wakatsuki burns off Leyte, Philippine Islands after being attacked by U.S. carrier planes, 11 November 1944. 350 U.S. Navy aircraft sank the destroyers Hamanami, Naganami, Shimakaze, and Wakatsuki and all the transports of a convoy 80 km north-east of Cebu, Philippines (10.50N 124.35E).

A Japanese destroyer Wakatsuki burns off Leyte, Philippine Islands after being attacked by U.S. carrier planes, 11 November 1944. 350 U.S. Navy aircraft sank the destroyers Hamanami, Naganami, Shimakaze, and Wakatsuki and all the transports of a convoy 80 km north-east of Cebu, Philippines (10.50N 124.35E).

TA-5 (Japanese)

Convoy TA-5 left Manila on 23 November for Port Cataingan and Port Balancan. Of the six transports, five were sunk by air attack.

U.S. destroyer sweeps

USS Pursuit (AM 108)

USS Pursuit (AM 108)

USS Revenge (AM-110)

USS Revenge (AM-110)

Bad weather in late November made air interdiction less effective, and the U.S. Navy began to send destroyers into Ormoc Bay. Canigao Channel was swept for mines by the minesweepers Pursuit and Revenge, and the four destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 22 (DesRon 22) under the command of Captain Robert Smith (Waller, Pringle, Renshaw and Saufley) entered the bay, where they shelled the docks at Ormoc City.

USS Waller (DDE-466)

USS Waller (DDE-466)

An Allied patrol plane radioed a message to the division noting that a surfaced Japanese submarine (I-46) was south of Pacijan Island and heading for Ormoc Bay. The division headed south to intercept; and, at 01:27 on 28 November, Wallers radar picked up the target just off the northeast coast of Ponson Island. Waller disabled I-46 with her first shots and, unable to submerge, she could only return fire with her deck guns until she sank at 01:45.

TA-6 (Japanese)

Two transports escorted by three patrol vessels left Manila on 27 November. They were attacked by American PT boats in Ormoc Bay on the night of 28 November and by air attack as the survivors left the area.  (Night of November 28/29, 1944, PT 127 and PT 331 torpedoed and sank IJN subchaser No. 52 and Patrol Boat No. 105 at Ormoc Bay.)

Crew of PT 127

Crew of PT 127

PT 331

PT 331

All five ships were sunk.

Another U.S. destroyer sweep on the night of 29-30 November in search of a reported convoy resulted only in the destruction of a few barges.

TA-7 (Japanese)

A convoy of three transports departed Manila on 1 December, escorted by destroyers Take and Kuwa under the command of Lieutenant Commander Masamichi Yamashita.

Japanese destroyers KUWA and TAKE

Japanese destroyers KUWA and TAKE

Two groups of transport submarines also took part in the operation.

The convoy was docked at Ormoc City when it was engaged at 00:09 on 3 December by three ships of U.S. Destroyer Division 120 (DesDiv 120) under the command of Captain John C. Zahm (Allen M. Sumner, Cooper and Moale).

USS Allen M Sumner (DD-692)

USS Allen M Sumner (DD-692)

USS Cooper (DD-695)

USS Cooper (DD-695)

USS Moale (DD-693)

USS Moale (DD-693)

The U.S. ships sank the transports as they were unloaded but came under heavy attack from Yokosuka P1Y “Frances” bombers, shore batteries, submarines that were known to be in the harbor, and the Japanese destroyers.

The Yokosuka P1Y Ginga was a twin-engine, land-based bomber developed for the Japanese Imperial Navy in World War II. It was the successor to the Mitsubishi G4M and given the Allied reporting name "Frances".

The Yokosuka P1Y Ginga was a twin-engine, land-based bomber developed for the Japanese Imperial Navy in World War II. It was the successor to the Mitsubishi G4M and given the Allied reporting name “Frances”.

Kuwa was sunk and Commander Yamashita was killed. Take attacked Cooper with torpedoes and escaped, though with some damage. Cooper sank at about 00:15 with the loss of 191 lives (168 sailors were rescued from the water on 4 December by Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats).

The Consolidated PBY Catalina was an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.

The Consolidated PBY Catalina was an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.

 

At 00:33, the two surviving U.S. destroyers were ordered to leave the bay, and the victorious Japanese successfully resupplied Ormoc Bay once more. This phase of the Battle of Ormoc Bay has gone down in history as the only naval engagement during the war in which the enemy brought to bear every type of weapon: naval gunnery, air attack, submarine attack, shore gunnery and mines.

Ormoc Bay U.S. troop landings

Major General A.D. Bruce (standing) during World War II

Major General A.D. Bruce (standing) during World War II

 

On 7 December, the 77th Infantry Division, commanded by Major General Andrew D. Bruce, made an amphibious landing at Albuera, 3.5 mi (5.6 km) south of Ormoc City.

HEAVY MACHINE GUNS COVER CROSSING of the Antilao River by men of the 77th Division at Ormoc.

HEAVY MACHINE GUNS COVER CROSSING of the Antilao River by men of the 77th Division at Ormoc.

The 77th Division’s 305th, 306th, and 307th Infantry Regiments came ashore unopposed, but naval shipping was subjected to kamikaze attacks, resulting in the loss of destroyers Ward and Mahan.[1]

58_big

USS Mahan (DD-364)

USS Mahan (DD-364)

Other operations

All five transports of convoy TA-8 were sunk on 7 December by air attack, and the escorting destroyers Ume and Sugi were damaged.

Convoy TA-9 entered the bay on 11 December and landed troops, but two escorting destroyers, Yūzuki (by air attacks) and Uzuki (by PT boats), were sunk and the third, Kiri, was damaged.

 Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Yuzuki.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Yuzuki.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Uzuki, the second Japanese warship to bear that name.

Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Uzuki, the second Japanese warship to bear that name.

Aftermath

By fighting this series of engagements in Ormoc Bay, the U.S. Navy was eventually able to prevent the Japanese from further resupplying and reinforcing their troops on Leyte, contributing significantly to the victory in the land battle. The final tally of ships lost in Ormoc Bay is: U.S. — three destroyers, one high speed transport, and two LSMs; Japan — six destroyers, 20 small transports, one submarine, one patrol boat and three escort vessels.

Historian Irwin J. Kappes argued that naval historians have unjustly neglected the importance of these engagements, writing:

“In the end, it was the rather amorphous Battle of Ormoc Bay that finally brought Leyte and the entire Gulf area under firm Allied control. From 11 November 1944 until 21 December, the combined efforts of Third Fleet carrier planes, Marine fighter-bomber groups, a pincer movement by the Army’s 77th Division and the First Division plus a motley assortment of destroyers, amphibious ships and PT boats trounced the now semi-isolated Japanese in a series of skirmishes and night raids. And because of poor weather conditions air support for most of these surface actions was almost non-existent.”

 

 

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

The world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

I should have included the following photograph in my posts about October 1944.

Overhead view of an ammo ship replenishing USS Hornet (CV-12), October 1944. Note the forward antenna masts half way up.

Overhead view of an ammo ship replenishing USS Hornet (CV-12), October 1944. Note the forward antenna masts half way up.

Nov-Dec 1944 – Shipping and land strikes in the Philippine area, support of the Mindoro invasion.(According to ship’s log)

Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (Photo #: 80-G-294131).

Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (Photo #: 80-G-294131).

The ship’s captain is still Captain Austin K. Doyle 9 August 1944 – 1 August 1945

doyle_austin_k

The Battle of Mindoro was a battle in World War II between forces of the United States and Japan, in Mindoro Island in the central Philippines, from 13-16 December 1944, during the Philippines campaign.  In a war history found on the website Fold3, I learned the following about the USS Hornet (CV-12) for December 1944:

Strikes made in support of Mindoro Invasion.  The ship got underway on 10 December from Ulithi.  The 100,000th mile-stone was passed on December 13, 1945.  During the next three days, flying in support of the airborne and amphibious landings in Mindoro Island, the Hornet’s pilots piled up 400 combat sorties against airfields and shipping in the Luzon area, meeting little air opposition.  Foul weather soon cancelled other operations and the ship returned to Ulithi on December 24, 1944.  This brief and unexpected respite from the strain of combat over the Christmas holidays was deeply enjoyed by all hands.  Five days later, however, the breathing spell was over, and the ship weighed anchor once again.

 

Sixth Army Operations, Mindoro and Marinduque Islands, December 1944

Sixth Army Operations, Mindoro and Marinduque Islands, December 1944

Summary

Troops of the United States Army, supported by the United States Navy and U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF), made an amphibious landing on Mindoro and defeated Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) forces there.

USS LCI(L)-1018 disembarking her troops at Mindoro during the Luzon campaign, 12 to 18 December 1944.

USS LCI(L)-1018 disembarking her troops at Mindoro during the Luzon campaign, 12 to 18 December 1944.

There was no significant opposition from the Imperial Japanese Navy, nor from the Japanese Army and Navy Air Forces, except for kamikaze (suicide) attacks on American ships.

USS LST 472 Struck by Kamikaze, December 15, 1944

USS LST 472 Struck by Kamikaze, December 15, 1944

The Japanese force in Mindoro was not large, and was eliminated in three days. The Army was assisted in the campaign by guerrillas from the local Filipino population.

A propaganda poster depicts the Philippine resistance movement during the first year of Japanese occupation. Following the fall of Corregidor on May 6, 1942, the Philippine guerrilla movement provided valuable behind the lines intelligence reports to Allied strategists, as well as ambushing the occupying Japanese forces.

A propaganda poster depicts the Philippine resistance movement during the first year of Japanese occupation. Following the fall of Corregidor on May 6, 1942, the Philippine guerrilla movement provided valuable behind the lines intelligence reports to Allied strategists, as well as ambushing the occupying Japanese forces.

The U.S. captured Mindoro to establish airfields there, which would be in fighter range of Lingayen Gulf in northern Luzon Island, where the next major amphibious invasion of the Philippines was planned. Ground-based fighter cover was necessary for this operation. Mindoro could also serve as the advanced base for U.S. troops going to fight in Luzon.

Background

For the invasion of Luzon, U.S forces needed air bases that were closer to the northern island than Leyte Island. Mindoro was the logical choice. Located not too far south of Luzon, and being about one-half the size of New Jersey, Mindoro is mostly covered by hills and mountains, with a few narrow plains along its seacoasts. Almost daily rains and high humidity, caused by clouds moving up from the south trapped by the high peaks made it a breeding ground for malaria and other tropical diseases. However, Japanese defenses on the island were minimal.

The airfields recently constructed at Leyte were deemed unreliable, so potential additional airfields in Mindoro appealed to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the commanding general of this theater of operations.

General Douglas MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur

But taking Mindoro was a daunting task. The northeastern coast was best suited for amphibious landings, but was exposed to what was left of Japanese air power on Luzon, so this was ruled out. The town of San Jose on the southwest corner, though nearer to Mangarin Bay, Mindoro’s best deepwater port, was the spot chosen by his planners.

Modern day photograph of Southwestern Mindoro Island, Philippines

Modern day photograph of Southwestern Mindoro Island, Philippines

The U.S. Sixth Army under Lieutenant General Walter Krueger was assigned to seize Mindoro.

General MacArthur and Lieutenant General Krueger discuss the progress of the Philippine campaign aboard a PT boat in October 1944

General MacArthur and Lieutenant General Krueger discuss the progress of the Philippine campaign aboard a PT boat in October 1944

Krueger, in turn, gave the task to Major General Roscoe B. Woodruff’s 24th Infantry Division, with the 19th Infantry and the separate 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team of Lieutenant Colonel George M. Jones to spearhead the assault.

Major General Roscoe B. Woodruff

Major General Roscoe B. Woodruff

Insignia of the 24th Infantry Division

Insignia of the 24th Infantry Division

Insignia of the 19th Infantry Regiment

Insignia of the 19th Infantry Regiment

George M. Jones as a Colonel during the Philippines Campaign (1944–45).

George M. Jones as a Colonel during the Philippines Campaign (1944–45).

Insignia of the 503rd Infantry Regiment

Insignia of the 503rd Infantry Regiment

The main threat to the amphibious assault vessels and supporting warships was land-based Japanese kamikaze planes. The Japanese had begun the deadly practice as a desperate measure during the final stages of the Battle of Leyte and widened its use by December 1944.

Landing ship LSM 20 sinks off Philippines after kamikaze attack on December 5, 1944

Landing ship LSM 20 sinks off Philippines after kamikaze attack on December 5, 1944

In early December, USAAF and USN airplanes attacked Japanese air bases to destroy potential kamikazes before they could attack. U.S. aviators claimed more than 700 planes destroyed on the ground.

On 13 December 1944, two days before the scheduled assault on the island, kamikazes struck at the Navy task force bringing the landing force. The light cruiser USS Nashville was hit by a kamikaze, killing over 130 men and wounding another 190.

USS Nashville II-8

Brigadier General William C. Dunkel, the commander of the landing force, was among the injured. Other kamikaze attacks damaged two tank landing ships (LSTs, for Landing Ship, Tank) and disabled several other ships.

The Battle

On December 15, 1944, the invasion of Mindoro began. The clear weather allowed the full use of American air and naval power, including six escort carriers, three battleships, six cruisers and many other support warships against light Japanese resistance. Because of inadequate airstrip facilities in Leyte, the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team came ashore in Mangarin Bay with the landing force instead of jumping. Destroyers provided fire support for the troop landings and anti-aircraft protection for the ships in the transport area. Two LSTs struck by kamikazes were abandoned and sank.

LST-738 burning after she was hit by a kamikaze off the Mindoro landing beaches, 15 December 1944. USS Moale (DD-693) is nearby. Note the hole in LST-738's starboard side, just forward of the large "738" painted there. Smoke in the left distance may be from LST-472, which was also hit by the kamikaze attack.

LST-738 burning after she was hit by a kamikaze off the Mindoro landing beaches, 15 December 1944. USS Moale (DD-693) is nearby. Note the hole in LST-738’s starboard side, just forward of the large “738” painted there. Smoke in the left distance may be from LST-472, which was also hit by the kamikaze attack.

In one heroic action, the destroyer USS Moale (DD-693), under the command of Commander Walter M. Foster, went alongside the burning LST-738 (which was loaded with aviation fuel and ordnance) to rescue crewmembers. Several explosions aboard LST-738 caused damage to Moale as she pulled away. Some pieces of shrapnel were two feet square and they put four holes in Moale‘s hull. Gunner’s Mate Ed Marsh reported that a one-gallon jar of vaseline from the LST’s cargo splattered on one barrel of his twin 40 mm Bofors AA gun, providing unwelcome lubrication. Moale suffered one casualty and thirteen wounded. In addition, Moale also rescued 88 survivors.

There were 1,000 defending Japanese soldiers stationed on Mindoro. Another 200 survivors from ships sunk off Mindoro en route to Leyte were also present. The defenders were outnumbered and outgunned. Some 300  Japanese manning an air raid warning station at the island’s northern end put up a stiff fight against a company of the 503rd, but except for mopping up, the island was secure within 48 hours.

Aftermath

The defending Japanese forces on Mindoro suffered some 200 killed and 375 wounded. The survivors fled into the jungles, where they lurked till the end of the war. The 24th Infantry Division lost 18 men and had 81 wounded.

By the end of the first day, Army engineers were at work preparing airfields. Two were completed in thirteen days. These airfields allowed U.S. aircraft to provide direct support for the Luzon invasion. The Mindoro airfields were also used by long-range bombers, especially USAAF B-24 Liberators, to attack Japanese shipping from Formosa to Luzon. These bombers also operated over the South China Sea, and combined with the Navy to blockade shipping between Japan and south-east Asia.

B-24 Liberators

B-24 Liberators

USS Hornet (CV-12) Air Group 11 consisting of pilots of VF-11 F6F's, VB-11 SB2C's and VT-11 TBF's taken at Ulithi in late December 1944 just before the start of their cruise to the South China Sea.

USS Hornet (CV-12) Air Group 11 consisting of pilots of VF-11 F6F’s, VB-11 SB2C’s and VT-11 TBF’s taken at Ulithi in late December 1944 just before the start of their cruise to the South China Sea.