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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.