Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

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.

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.