Posts Tagged ‘Aircraft Carrier’

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

If you read my previous post, the USS Hornet (CV-12) along with other vessels of the United States Navy ran into some rough weather in early June, 1945.  That was Typhoon Connie (sometimes called Typhoon Viper) and Hornet suffered some damage which included 24 feet of her flight deck smashed.  During the month of June, US Naval Command decided that Hornet needed to go in for repairs so off she went by the end of the month.

On the 7 July 1945, USS Hornet (CV-12) and her crew, including my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan steamed through the Golden Gate. That must have been some site for Californians on the homefront.  This video, although from after the surrender of Japan, has a portion showing Naval ships coming through the Golden Gate.

Hornets planes and ammunition were off loaded and she entered dry dock at Hunters Point Naval shipyard.

navy.memorieshop.com1
Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, 1945 – Notice the Victory Mail icon included in the image.

The photograph below is not from 1945.  It is from 3 July 1947; however the arrow indicator with the 4 is Hornet.  After her stay in drydock in 1945, Hornet had more service to provide yet but apparently its drydock again two years later.

At that time she was placed in drydock in July 1945, the crew were given 30 days well earned leave and rest.  According to documents in my father’s Naval records, this was his first leave since recruit leave for nine days in January 1943.  The document states granted 25 days leave with no travel time, commencing 1130, 8 July 45 and due to expire 0800, 3 August 45; however, he returned after 27 days.  Document states AOL 2 days, 9 hours 15 minutes excused as unavoidable.  He traveled home to Philadelphia.  I bet my Grandparents, Jerome and Margaret Ryan were glad to see him.

What was happening in August 1945 when my father returned to duty.  Some pretty important events.

During the final stage of World War II, the United States dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.

The Enola Gay crew photographed the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima. The photos on the right show the city of Hiroshima before and after the blast.

On August 14 1945, it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II. Since then, both August 14 and August 15 have been known as “Victoryover Japan Day,” or simply “V-J Day.” The term has also been used for September 2, 1945, when Japan’s formal surrender took place aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay.

The excitement over peace turned ugly in San Franscisco so I am glad that my father was back on duty in the USS Hornet and not in the city.  After President Harry Truman announced to the nation that Japan was surrendering, the news resulted in the greatest explosion of mass euphoria in American history; however, something went dead wrong in San Francisco.  Thousands of frenzied, drunken revelers, an estimated 90 percent of them young Navy enlistees who had not served overseas, embarked on a three-night orgy of vandalism, looting, assault, robbery, rape and murder. By the time the “Peace Riots” burned themselves out on Friday morning, 13 people were dead, at least six women had been raped, 1,059 people were injured, and an incalculable amount of damage had been done to businesses, public buildings, streetcars, cars, traffic lights, signs, barber poles, marquees and everything else the rioters had gotten their hands on. They were the deadliest riots in the city’s history.

San Franciscans crowd 4th Street and Market Street on Victory Over Japan Day. Overnight the crowd, fueled by liquor and hysteria, would riot, leaving eleven dead, and 1,000 injured. Many of the injuries involved broken limbs and cracked noggins from fights and falls. The riot, which followed the Japanese surrender announcement by a day, was mostly confined to downtown San Francisco and involved thousands of drunken soldiers and sailors, most of them teenagers. They smashed store windows, attacked women, halted all traffic, wrecked Municipal streetcars. 30 streetcars were disabled, and one streetcar worker was killed. The rioters took over Market Street and refused to leave until military and civilian police drove them away long after nightfall following hours of chaos. At 11 o’clock that night, the authorities finally moved in on Market Street. The police and military moved up Market, sweeping the rioters before them. Hours later, the rioters dispersed. The State Theatre at 787 Market Street, designed by Alfred Henry Jacobs, closed in 1954.

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John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

It is June 1945, the world is still at war in the Pacific and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).  In my last posts, I continued the Battle of Okinawa and covered May 1945.  The war ended in Europe but the war with Japan still rages on. In this post, the battle continues with June 1945.

Note:  Much of the story of the Battle of Okinawa is a story of the land battle and the US Army and Marines.  Since my writing is about the USS Hornet, I only cover the story as it  relates to the carrier.  The rest is too much to write about.  The full story is available from many other sources.

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

I shared this background information previously.  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.

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.

The battle may have been referred to as the “typhoon of steel” but Hornet was in for a typhoon of a different sort.  And now, the USS Hornet (CV-12) in June 1945.

View looking aft from the ship’s island as she steams with other carriers during a western Pacific gunnery practice session, circa June 1945. Next ship astern is USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), firing her 5″/38 battery to starboard. Two small aircraft carriers (CVL) are beyond her. Note yellow flight deck markings on Hornet and TBM and SB2C aircraft parked aft.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-5702).

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

1 June 1945 – Planes were launched to support the advanced elements of ground forces on Okinawa.

4 June 1945 – Fueling was begun but discountinued when orders were received from ComThirdFleet.  A typhoon, under observation, was moving north at a estimated speed of 12 knots.

TYPHOON CONNIE

(some accounts name it Typhoon Viper)

5 June 1945 – HORNET struck by typhoon with winds of 110-120 kts. and 100 foot seas. Twenty-four feet of flight deck at bow buckled. (Another account) The typhoon encompassed the Hornet and becuase of mountainous pyramidal seas of 50 to 60 feet from crest to trough the fight deck collapsed from the forward edge back to frame #4, a distance of 24 feet. These photographs speak louder than words

Photo taken from the bridge on the morning of June 5th, 1945 just as the first 24 feet of the flight deck get smashed to splinters by the typhoon. The forward antenna mast has left the ship!. National Archives.

A VT-17 TBM-3E Avenger on top of a VF-17 F6F-5 Hellcat, June 6, 1945 the day after the typhoon.

Shown here after weathering a typhoon on June 4–5, 1945. She continued on despite the damage and when it was too dangerous to launch over the bow, she backed into the wind until there was enough wind across the deck to safely launch planes. Compare these photos to those of Wasp (CV-18) and Bennington (CV-20). Tracy White, Researcher @ Large  See additional photos and read “Flight deck structural failure and collapse during June 1945 Typhoon” at the Researcher @ Large website.  Larger copy submitted by Steve Whitby.

6-7 June 1945 – Flights were launched, one plane spun in due to turbulance over the bow caused by teh overhanging portion of the flight deck.

7-10 June 1945 – Hornet’s planes participated in further strikes against Okinawa and other targets in the vicinity.

13 June 1945 – Entered and achored in San Pedro Bay between Leyte and Samar Island.

15 June 1945 – For a communication from Hornet’s Commanding Officer, A.K. Doyle to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet, accompanied with more photographs, visit the following link.  http://www.researcheratlarge.com/Ships/CV12/1945FlightDeckMemo.html

15 June 1945 – The Commanding Officer made the long anticipated announcement to the ship’s company that the Hornet would return to the United States for overhaul.  Rear Admiral J.J. Clark lowered his flag in this vessel and Command of Task Group 38.1 was assumed by Rear Admiral T.L. Sprague in the Bennington (CV-20)

16 June 1945 – Embarked Air Group Thirty and Air Group Nine for transportation to the States.

19 June 1945 – Underway for Pearl Harbor

29 June 1945 – Moored at F-9-N Pearl Harbor

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

June 1945 – Strikes made on Okinawa and Kyushu.

The Hornet was operating in Task Unit 38.1.1 with CTG 38.1 (ComCarDiv 5) (Rear Admiral J.J. Clark) embarked.  At 0530 on 1 June 1945, 6 VT were launched to land at Kadena Field on Okinawa from where they made 23 sorties during the day dropping supplies to advanced elements of ground forces.  Ths operation was again repeated on 2 June 1945 but other flight operations were handicapped by bad weather.

The fourth of June brought the typhoon warning that hit the ship the next day.  The typhoon caught the ship on 5 June 1945 and one of the mountainous wave collapsed the flight deck from the forward edge back to frame #4, a distance of 24 feet.  The highest winds reached a velocity of 1210 knots with gusts up to 120 knots.

On 6 June 1945, 9 VF replacements were received from the ATTU (CVE-102) and six from the Bougainville (CVE-100).  At 1414, a VF of the Shangri-la (CV-38) spun in on take-off due to turbulence over the bow caused by the overhanging portion of the damaged flight deck.  The polit was rescued by the Dehaven (DD-737).  Pending further investigation, it was considered unsafe to continue lauching over teh bow so the next flight, a search of 24 VF, was launched over the stern while the ship was backing down at 18.5 knots.

On 8 June 1945, a large strike was launched against Kanoya.  Hornet’s planes dropped 67 fragmentation bombs on the target and took damage assessment photographs after the strike. (These must be the photographs above and at the link provided above).

On 9 -10 June 1945, strikes were made on Okino Daito Jima and Minami Daito Jima.  Hornet anchored in San Pedro Bay between Leyte and Samar Island on 13 June 1945.  From 15 June 1945 through 29 June 1945, see ships log above.

 

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

It is May 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 began the Battle of Okinawa and covered April 1945.  In this post, the battle continues with May 1945.

Note:  Much of the story of the Battle of Okinawa is a story of the land battle and the US Army and Marines.  Since my writing is about the USS Hornet, I only cover the story as it  relates to the carrier.  The rest is too much to write about.  The full story is available from many other sources.

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

I shared this background information previously.  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.

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)

And now, the USS Hornet (CV-12) in May 1945.

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

1 May 1945 – The first day of a period of replenishment and recreation

9 May 1945 – Underway from Ulithi.

12 May 1945 – Strikes launched against ground targets on Okinawa.

13 May 1945 – HORNET air wing attacked the giant Kumatomo aircraft plant in Southern Kyushu.

13-14 May 1945 – Strikes made on airfields at Kyushu and on shipping in that area.

17-19 May 1945 – Repeated attacks against Okinawa.

20-22 May 1945 – Photo missions and strikes were made on teh Wan Airfield area of Kikni Shima.

24 May 1945 – A sweep of 24 fighters was launched to attack Miyazaki Airfield in in southeastern Kyushu.

25-31 May 1945 – Strikes were made on Okinawa when whether permitted.

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

The Hornet weighed anchor on 9 May 1945 and set sail for Kyushu.  The second week in May the ship’s work began again in earnest.  The Air Group set out to attack airfields, installations, aircraft assembly plants, and factories on the Japanese home islands of Kyushu and Shikoku, and diversified and supporting strikes against the Amami Gunto and Okinawa.  Over this later target, especially, the pilots laid down some of their most blistering attacks, supporting our ground forces, dropping bombs at the mouths of caves, and maintaining absolute mastery of the skies over the island.

Mother’s Day, 13 May 1945, was a day of heavy activity.  The ship was at general quarters most of the day.  Many sorties (an attack made by troops coming out from a position of defense) were carried out that day against Kanoya and Izumi on Kyushu, and against the field and seaplane base at Saeki.  Shops, hangers, A/A positions, and planes were strafed and bombed.  A schooner and another small crafter were sunk, and 5 small cargo ships were damaged. Twenty-eight twin-engined bombers and eight fighters were destroyed on the ground, and forty six were probably destroyed or damaged.

80-G-331621: Japanese plane being shot down by gunfire on 14 May

The next day, 14 May 1945, was also a busy and eventful day.  The ship was at general quarters twice between midnight and sunrise.  One of the bogies came in close and was fire upon by other ships in the group.  Later one explosed within the screen, and an apparent Kamikaze suicide plane, headed for the Hornet, was splashed by the ship’s gunfire. Our planes hit the great Kumamoto aircraft assembly plant (photo above) in southern Kyushu and found this a prime target, as it was one of the few important places remaining.  Also on the 14 May 1945 strikes were made on Tachairai Field, Matsuyama West Field on Shikoku, and also Kochi and Kushira.  Seven single-engined fighters wer shot down by the air group on this day.  For the next ten days targets were scarce.  Combat air patrols and effective supporting strikes at Okinawa, and strikes at Amami Kikae, and Tokuno were the principal operations carried out.

Blasting Miyazaki Airfield and Shops, Kyushi Japan 1945 (US AF Photo)

24 May 1945 was a good day for ten planes were burned on the ground and many others damaged at Miyazaki, Kyushu.  In eighteen days of operations during May, there were 771 sorties over enemy areas, 317 defensive patrols, and 246 miscellaneous hops, making a total of 1,334.

Don’t know what month in 1945 this photo is from. A row of 20 mm Oerlikon guns aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Hornet 1945 (CV-12) [2465 2617]

On 27 May 1945, Task Group 58.1 passed from operational control of Commander Fifth Fleet to Commander Third Fleet.

To further explain this pass of operational control.  The protracted length of the campaign under stressful conditions forced Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to take the unprecedented step of relieving the principal naval commanders to rest and recuperate. Following the practice of changing the fleet designation with the change of commanders, US naval forces began the campaign as the US 5th Fleet under Adm. Raymond Spruance, but ended it as the 3rd Fleet under Adm. William Halsey.

Meanwhile this same month in the World War

Sir Winston Churchill VE Day

VE Day Celebration

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:

1 April 1945 – This was LOVE Day of the operations against Okinawa and the Task Group’s mission was to support the landing operations.

2-6 April 1945 – Operations continued in support of the Okinawa landing operations.

7 April 1945 – The Task Group moved slowly northward to contact the enemy fleet units reported in teh area.  The enemy force was discovered and consisted of the BB Yamato, two light cruisers, and ten destroyers.  The Hornet’s planes wer the first to attack.

6/7 April 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.

8 April 1945 – Rendezvous was made for refueling and replenishment of ammunition.

9 April 1945 – Continued Strikes

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.

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

8 April 1945 – Rendezvous was made for refueling and replenishment of ammunition.

9 April 1945 – Continued strikes in the vicinity of Okinawa in support of our invasion forces.

12 April 1945 – Continued CAP over airfields at Kikai Shima and Tokuno Shima in order to deny their use to the enemy.

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

12-27 April 1945 – Repeated strikes were made on Okinawa and the islands in teh vicinity.  During the whole operation the Task Group was under constant enemy air attack.

30 April 1945 – The Ship entered Ulithi Harbor and anchored.

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.

A grainy shot of Hornet’s TBM Avengers and SB2C Helldivers from Air Group 17 preparing for launch, April 1945.

TBM-3 Avengers from VT-17 attacking targets around Tokyo, possibly in April 1945.

Forward flight deck view, from the port side, of the island of USS Hornet (CV-12) in April 1945. Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters from Fighting Squadron (VF) 17 “Jolly Rogers” can be seen on deck, as well as the bridge superstructure with its radar antennas, 40-mm and 5″ gun mounts.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) photo, # 80-G-469299.

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.

 

 

hornetisland

Originally I planned on writing the haunted story of the USS Hornet after completing the story of my father’s time on the carrier but then I thought that it is a story for Halloween.  After all, the USS Hornet is considered the most haunted ship in the Navy, past or present.

158531-325x216-USS-Hornet

The USS Hornet (CV-, CVA and CVS-12) is a floating history of the US Navy where in her years of service, she housed a hospital, a tailor shop, a cobbler shop, three barbershops, and seven galleys.  She is the size of three football fields and could carry 3,500 servicemen.  Her history is spectacular with much already reported in my previous posts; however I’ll sum up her record:  Nine battle stars for military service, In WWII, her pilots destroyed 1,410 Japanese aircrafts and almost 1.3 tons of enemy cargo.  If ever there was a ship that would be haunted, it would be the Hornet since In her 27 years of service, there were 300 deaths from battles, accidents and suicides.  The USS Hornet holds the Navy record for the most suicides.  Very sad statistics.

Now a museum docked at the Alameda Naval Air Station in California, she is reported to be full of ghosts.  There has been a lot of unexplained phenomena reported by tourists and staff members since she arrived in Alameda and many skeptics are now believers.

  • unusual noises
  • items that come up missing
  • apparitions
  • Psychics and ghost hunters have investigated and agree that the activity is probably souls of the departed sailors carrying out their final orders.
  • People reported the feeling that someone touched or grabbed them when no one else was about
  • The spotted servicemen have not all been Navy
  • Report of ghostly figures that are real looking.  They blend in with the living.  They appear dressed in uniform, patrolling the hallways and carrying out their duties
  • They have been spotted on decks, climbing ladders and in the Combat Information Center.
  • Toilets mysteriously flush by themselves
  • Lights turn on and off on their own.
  • Men have been heard talking but no one is present.

The steam room is one of the most haunted sections of the USS Hornet.  One sailor believed to have died in the steam room remains there as he doesn’t know that he is dead.

Engine Room #1 was one of two engine rooms that provided propulsion power to the Hornet. Eight boilers produced the steam required to generate 150,000 horsepower.

Engine Room #1 was one of two engine rooms that provided propulsion power to the Hornet. Eight boilers produced the steam required to generate 150,000 horsepower.

There has also been a report of ghosts that are not American.  One spirit is believed to be a Japanese pilot who had been a prisoner of war on board during WWII.  He allegedly went mad in the small cell and inhabits the room and is still trying to get out.

Another ghost that is often seen is Admiral Joseph “Jocko” Clark who served as commander during WWII.

Here are a few of the witness accounts from the following website:  http://www.its.caltech.edu/~drmiles/ghost_stories.html  There are several more like these.

In early February, 2009 I was volunteering on USS Hornet with a group of my fellow US Coast Guardsmen. We were painting a compartment and a few of us were wearing white Tyvek paper suits. When our paint started running low I went off in search of the Hornet worker that was supplying our paint, getting lost in the process. As I wandered the passageways I came off a “side” passage onto the starboard main passageway, one deck below the hangar deck. I saw what I thought was one of my coworkers stepping off the main hall onto a side passage about 25 feet away from me. I called out to him but he kept walking and when I got to the hall he stepped into, there was a chain blocking the entrance and it was an empty compartment! Needless to say I was confused, but kept walking and eventually found my way back to the room we were painting. When I saw the coworker I thought I had seen earlier, I mentioned to him that I had called him in the passageway but he told me that he hadn’t left the room for about an hour. Later when I mentioned this to the Hornet employees, one lady said that I had seen the “Dress Whites Ghost”, apparently an apparition of a sailor wearing his dress white uniform!

Bob Eiess
Coast Guard Island
Alameda, California

I love ghost stories and shows on tv about ghost and ghost investigations. About 3 or 4 years ago, I visited the Hornet with my family and about 15 other people from our church. I knew stories about seeing soldiers at certain parts of the ship, and kept my eyes open, but didn’t see anything. After the tour, before we were leaving, my mom and I stopped off at the bathroom. We were the only ones in there, and when we went to wash our hands we were chatting. When we got over to the sinks, we could hear two guys talking (one of them actually sounded like a kid perhaps) pretty loud; not loud enough to understand what they were saying, but loud enough that we noticed and had to talk over them. We figured that there was a men’s restroom next door to the women’s, but when we walked out there wasn’t, so we just figured someone must have been outside talking and we just didn’t see them. A few months later, we were watching a ghost show and they talked about the Hornet. Sure enou gh, they showed the bathroom we were in and talked about reports of men talking near the sinks! It was very creepy and I for sure will never go there at night for one of those overnighters!

Katie

shifty.jones@gmail.com

My husband and I went with my aunt to tour the USS hornet. At the end of the day when the tours were closing down, my husband drug me off into a section of the ship that was obviously not open to tourists. The hallways were dark, the side rooms had bed frames just tossed into them, debris strewn all over like a trash heap. I was getting nervous we would either get lost or get into trouble for being in a section that was closed. Suddenly a full uniformed officer came from around the corner. I knew for sure we were in trouble. He walked past us. He never made ANY eye contact, no acknowlegdment of our presence what so ever. He then turned into one of the rooms about 10 feet ahead. We followed behind him, and when passing the side room he went into, again piled high with bed frames and what not, he was gone. I told my husband we had to get out of there. Just then my camera crashed to the floor. The camera came apart from the strap. I have owned this camera for 8 years. Ne ver before and never since has the camera come off the strap. I think back now – and I think what sent off alarms was the lack of air movement as he walked by, and NO acknowldgement that we were even there. I truly believe we saw a ghost!

Kathleen

katpickett@comcast.net

I was recently aboard the USS Hornet on a 4H Exchange Club trip with my host family and took lots of pictures but when I got home and started looking through the pictures I took, I noticed in the medical wing in one of the rooms I took a picture and when I took it the chair in the picture was empty and when I looked at the picture that night chills ran up my spine when I seen someone sitting in the chair in that picture that was wearing something that looked like an old time pilots helmet and looked like he was tied down. I asked all the people that were on that trip if they would look at the picture and they did and saw the same thing I did. Take it this was down in medical operating wing on Tuesday, July 4, 2006 around 4:25 pm.

Steven Shirk

walnutst@hotmail.com

Here is a video about the haunted USS Hornet.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

October 1944 continues and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

20-26 Oct 1944 – Strikes on Leyte supporting invasion of the Philippines as stated in the ships log for the USS Hornet (CV-12).

In my previous post I wrote about the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea (Leyte Gulf).  The Battle of Leyte Gulf, also called the Battles for Leyte Gulf, and formerly known as the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea, is generally considered to be the largest naval battle of World War II and, by some criteria, possibly the largest naval battle in history.  Since the Battle of Leyte Gulf consisted of four separate engagements between the opposing forces: the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Battle of Cape Engaño and the Battle off Samar, as well as other actions, I decided to break the story into multiple parts.  In Part 1, I covered the background and the submarine action in Palawan passage on October 23, 1944.  Today for Part 2, I write about the Battle of Sibuyan Sea.

The four main actions in the battle of Leyte Gulf: 1 Battle of the Sibuyan Sea 2 Battle of Surigao Strait 3 Battle of (or 'off') Cape Engaño 4 Battle off Samar. Leyte Gulf is above 2 and to the left of 4. The island of Leyte is to the left of the gulf.

The four main actions in the battle of Leyte Gulf: 1 Battle of the Sibuyan Sea 2 Battle of Surigao Strait 3 Battle of (or ‘off’) Cape Engaño 4 Battle off Samar. Leyte Gulf is above 2 and to the left of 4. The island of Leyte is to the left of the gulf.

The Battle of the Sibuyan Sea (24 October 1944)

Around 08:00 on 24 October, the Center Force was spotted entering the Sibuyan Sea and attacked by VF-20 squadron F6F-5 Hellcat fighters, VB-20 SB2C-3 Helldiver dive bombers, and VT-20 Avenger torpedo bombers from USS Enterprise of Halsey’s 3rd Fleet.
The Japanese "Center Force" leaves Brunei Bay, Borneo, on 22 October 1944, en route to the Philippines. Ships are, from right to left: battleships Nagato, Musashi and Yamato; heavy cruisers Maya, Chokai, Takao, Atago, Haguro and Myoko. Courtesy of Lieutenant Tobei Shiraishi. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-fornv/japan/japsh-xz/yamato-k.htm

The Japanese “Center Force” leaves Brunei Bay, Borneo, on 22 October 1944, en route to the Philippines.
Ships are, from right to left: battleships Nagato, Musashi and Yamato; heavy cruisers Maya, Chokai, Takao, Atago, Haguro and Myoko. Courtesy of Lieutenant Tobei Shiraishi.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-fornv/japan/japsh-xz/yamato-k.htm

Despite its great strength, 3rd Fleet was not well-placed to deal with the threat. On 22 October, Halsey had detached two of his carrier groups to the fleet base at Ulithi to provision and rearm.

It was called "Murderer's Row." Aircraft carriers lined up across Ulithi Lagoon. Ulithi was used as the major "secret" naval base during WWII. Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

It was called “Murderer’s Row.” Aircraft carriers lined up across Ulithi Lagoon. Ulithi was used as the major “secret” naval base during WWII. Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

When Darter‘s (A US Submarine) contact report came in, Halsey recalled Davison’s group, but allowed Vice Admiral McCain—with the strongest of TF 38’s carrier groups, to continue towards Ulithi.  This will turn out to be a poor decision by Admiral Halsey.  In order to be clean in my understanding of the different groups in this part of the theater, I needed to understand the individual sections of TF 38.   I found a document online that details out which ships were part of which group under TF 38.  Here is Vice Admiral McCain’s Task Force 38.1  This is the group I just wrote that Halsey didn’t recall back from going to Ulithi for supplies with the other parts of the taskforce on October 22, 1944.

Task Group 38.1: Vice Admiral J.S.Mccain
USS Hornet (CV8)  This had to be an error and should be CV-12 as the CV-8 was sunk at the Battle of Santa Cruz in 1942.
USS Wasp (CV18)
USS Hancock (CV19)
USS Monterey (CV26)
USS Cowpens (CV25)
USS Pensacola (CA24)
USS Chester (CA27)
USS Salt Lake City (CA25)
USS Boston (CA69)
USS San Diego (CL53)
USS Oakland (CL95)
USS Brown (DD546)
USS Conner (DD582)
USS Cowell (DD547)
USS Case (DD370)
USS Cummings (DD365)
USS Cassin (DD372)
USS Downes (DD375)
USS Dunlap (DD384)
USS Fanning (DD385)
USS Farenholt (DD491)
USS Grayson (DD435)
USS Izard (DD589)
USS McCalla (DD488)
USS Woodworth (DD460)

Halsey finally recalled McCain on 24 October—but the delay meant the most powerful American carrier group played little part in the coming battle, and the 3rd Fleet was therefore effectively deprived of nearly 40% of its air strength for most of the engagement. On the morning of 24 October, only three groups were available to strike Kurita’s force, and the one best positioned to do so—Bogan’s Task Group 38.2 (TF 38.2)—was by mischance the weakest of the groups, containing only one large carrier—USS Intrepid—and two light carriers (the failure to promptly recall McCain on 23 October had also effectively deprived 3rd Fleet, throughout the battle, of four of its six heavy cruisers).

USS Intrepid (CV-11)

USS Intrepid (CV-11)

Planes from carriers Intrepid and Cabot of Bogan’s group attacked at about 10:30, making hits on the battleships Nagato, Yamato, and Musashi, and severely damaging the heavy cruiser Myōkō.

Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, 24 October 1944 Japanese battleship Yamato is hit by a bomb near her forward 460mm gun turret, during attacks by U.S. carrier planes as she transited the Sibuyan Sea. This hit did not produce serious damage.

Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, 24 October 1944
Japanese battleship Yamato is hit by a bomb near her forward 460mm gun turret, during attacks by U.S. carrier planes as she transited the Sibuyan Sea.
This hit did not produce serious damage.

A second wave from IntrepidEssex and Lexington later attacked, with VB-15 Helldivers and VF-15 Hellcats from Essex, scoring another 10 hits on Musashi.

A USS ESSEX ordnanceman carries ammunition to the ship's F6F Hellcat fighters, 24 October 1944. -Paul Madden photo from NARA collection

A USS ESSEX ordnanceman carries ammunition to the ship’s F6F Hellcat fighters, 24 October 1944.
-Paul Madden photo from NARA collection

As Musashi withdrew, listing to port, a third wave from Enterprise and Franklin hit her with an additional 11 bombs and eight torpedoes.

20.5

Kurita turned his fleet around to get out of range of the aircraft, passing the crippled Musashi as his force retreated. He waited until 17:15 before turning around again to head for the San Bernardino Strait. After being struck by at least 17 bombs and 19 torpedoes, Musashi finally capsized and sank at about 19:30.

IJN Admiral Takijiro Onishi

IJN Admiral Takijiro Onishi

Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Takijirō Ōnishi had directed three waves of aircraft from his First Air Fleet based on Luzon against the carriers of Rear Admiral Sherman’s TG 38.3 (whose aircraft were also being used to strike airfields in Luzon to prevent Japanese land-based air attacks on Allied shipping in Leyte Gulf). Each of Ōnishi’s strike waves consisted of some 50 to 60 aircraft.

Most of the attacking Japanese planes were intercepted and shot down or driven off by Hellcats of Sherman’s combat air patrol, most notably by two fighter sections from Essex led by Commander David McCampbell (who is credited with shooting down nine of the attacking planes in this one action). However, one Japanese aircraft (a Yokosuka D4Y3 Judy) slipped through the defences, and at 09:38 hit the light carrier USS Princeton with a 551 lb (250 kg) armor-piercing bomb. The resulting explosion caused a severe fire in Princeton‘s hangar and her emergency sprinkler system failed to operate. 
The light aircraft carrier Princeton afire, east of Luzon, 24 October 1944.

The light aircraft carrier Princeton afire, east of Luzon, 24 October 1944.

As the fires spread rapidly, a series of secondary explosions followed. The fires were gradually brought under control, but at 15:23 there was an enormous explosion (probably in the carrier’s bomb stowage aft), causing more casualties aboard Princeton, and even heavier casualties – 233 dead and 426 wounded – aboard the light cruiser Birmingham which was coming back alongside to assist with the firefighting. Birmingham was so badly damaged, she was forced to retire. Another light cruiser and two destroyers were also damaged.  All efforts to save Princeton failed, and after the remaining crew were evacuated, she was finally scuttled—torpedoed by the light cruiser Reno—at 17:50.
The light carrier USS Princeton explodes at 1523 on 24 October 1944 - after being bombed by a Japanese aircraft during the Battle for Leyte Gulf. The light cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-62) is visible on this side of the Princeton. Birmingham was seriously damaged in the explosion, which caused more than three hundred casualties aboard the cruiser. [This is an official US Navy photograph, probably taken from the battleship USS South Dakota]

The light carrier USS Princeton explodes at 1523 on 24 October 1944 – after being bombed by a Japanese aircraft during the Battle for Leyte Gulf.
The light cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-62) is visible on this side of the Princeton. Birmingham was seriously damaged in the explosion, which caused more than three hundred casualties aboard the cruiser.
[This is an official US Navy photograph, probably taken from the battleship USS South Dakota]

Of Princeton’s crew, 108 men were killed, while 1,361 survivors were rescued by nearby ships. USS Princeton was the largest American ship lost during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
g270437

In all, US 3rd Fleet flew 259 sorties—mostly by Hellcats—against Center Force on 24 October. This weight of attack was not nearly sufficient to neutralize the threat from Kurita. It contrasts with the 527 sorties flown by 3rd Fleet against Ozawa’s much weaker Northern Force on the following day.  Moreover, a large proportion of the Sibuyan Sea attack was directed against just one ship, Musashi. This great battleship was sunk, and cruiser Myōkō crippled, but every other ship in Kurita’s force remained battleworthy and able to advance.

In my research I note that there is a story within the story of the Battles of Leyte Gulf that warrants a separate posting.  It is part of the October 24th story but too lengthy to include here.  It is a story of communication and miscommunication and the devastating results.  So in my next part, read about Admiral Halsey’s decisions and the San Bernardino Strait.