Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

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

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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.

USS Hornet (CV-12) ready room, February 1945.
National Archives and Records Administration (photo # 80-G-469242).

“Number CV12-1411, 9 Feb. 1945, USS Hornet—Ernie Pyle, war correspondent visits the USS Hornet (CV-12) and chats with Comdr. W.E. Gailard and Lt.(jg) Frank R. Reynolds.”
“With Comdr. W.E. Gaillard in entry port and Lt.(jg) Frank R. Reynolds at top of ladder and to right.”  National Archives photo (# 80-G-317021).

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.

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.

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.  In Part 2, I wrote about the Battle of Sibuyan Sea.  In Part 3, I wrote about Admiral Halsey’s decisions and the San Bernardino Strait.  For Part 4, I wrote about the Battle of Surigao Strait.  For Part 5, the Battle of Samar.  For Part 6, the Battle Cape Engaño.  For this final installment in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, I will write about the criticisms of Admiral Halsey (some of which I mentioned throughout), a recap the losses experienced by all participants in these critical battles and the aftermath.

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

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

Bull’s Run

Among the criticism of Halsey in the Battle of Leyte Gulf was his decision to take TF 34 north in pursuit of Ozawa, and for failing to detach it when Kinkaid first appealed for help.

A piece of US Navy slang for Halsey’s actions is Bull’s Run, a phrase combining Halsey’s newspaper nickname “Bull” (in the US Navy he was known as “Bill” Halsey) with an allusion to the Battle of Bull Run in the American Civil War.  There were two battles of Bull Run (Manassas) but maybe the slang referred to both.

1st Battle of Bull Run

First Battle of Bull Run, chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison

In his dispatch after the battle, Halsey justified the decision as follows:

Searches by my carrier planes revealed the presence of the Northern carrier force on the afternoon of 24 October, which completed the picture of all enemy naval forces. As it seemed childish to me to guard statically San Bernardino Strait, I concentrated TF 38 during the night and steamed north to attack the Northern Force at dawn.
I believed that the Center Force had been so heavily damaged in the Sibuyan Sea that it could no longer be considered a serious menace to Seventh Fleet.

Halsey also argued that he had feared leaving TF 34 to defend the strait without carrier support as that would have left it vulnerable to attack from land-based aircraft, while leaving one of the fast carrier groups behind to cover the battleships would have significantly reduced the concentration of air power going north to strike Ozawa.

Vice Admiral Willis A Lee

Vice Admiral Willis A Lee

Admiral Lee said after the battle that he would have been fully prepared for the battleships to cover the San Bernardino Strait without ‘any’ carrier support.   Moreover, if Halsey had been in proper communication with 7th Fleet, it would have been entirely practicable for the escort carriers of TF 77 to provide adequate air cover for TF 34—a much easier matter than it would be for those escort carriers to defend themselves against the onslaught of Kurita’s heavy ships.

It may be argued that the fact that Halsey was aboard one of the battleships, and “would have had to remain behind” with TF 34 (while the bulk of his fleet charged northwards to attack the Japanese carriers), may have contributed to this decision, but this is in all likelihood a minor point.

USS New Jersey - Pacific - 1944-45

USS New Jersey – Pacific – 1944-45

It has been pointed out that it would have been perfectly feasible (and logical) to have taken one or both of 3rd Fleet’s two fastest battleships (Iowa and/or New Jersey) with the carriers in the pursuit of Ozawa, while leaving the rest of the battle line off the San Bernardino Strait (indeed, Halsey’s original plan for the composition of TF 34 was that it would contain only four, not all six, of the 3rd Fleet’s battleships); thus, guarding the San Bernardino Strait with a powerful battleship force would not have been incompatible with Halsey personally going north aboard New Jersey.

Probably a more important factor was that Halsey was philosophically against dividing his forces; he believed strongly in concentration as indicated by his writings both before World War II and in his subsequent articles and interviews defending his actions.  In addition, Halsey may well have been influenced by the criticisms of Admiral Raymond Spruance, who was widely thought to have been excessively cautious at the Battle of the Philippine Sea and so allowed the bulk of the Japanese fleet to escape. Halsey was also likely influenced by his Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Robert “Mick” Carney, who was also wholeheartedly in favor of taking all of 3rd Fleet’s available forces northwards to attack the Japanese carrier force.

Rear Admiral Robert "Mick" Carney

Rear Admiral Robert “Mick” Carney

However, Halsey did have reasonable and, in his view, given the information he had available, practical reasons for his actions.

  1. Halsey believed Admiral Kurita’s force was more heavily damaged than it was. While it has been suggested that Halsey should have taken Kurita’s continued advance as evidence that his force was still a severe threat, this view cannot be supported given the well-known propensity for members of the Japanese military to persist in hopeless endeavors to the point of suicide. So, in Halsey’s estimation, Kurita’s weakened force was well within the ability of Seventh Fleet to deal with, and did not justify dividing his force.
  2. Halsey did not comprehend just how badly compromised Japan’s naval air power was and that Ozawa’s decoy force was nearly devoid of aircraft. Halsey, in a letter to Admiral Nimitz on 22 October 1944 (three days before the Battle off Samar) wrote that Admiral Marc Mitscher believed “Jap naval air was wiped out.”  Mitscher, with Admiral Spruance at the Battle of the Philippine Sea (the Marianas Turkey Shoot) drew his conclusion from the very poor performance of the Japanese. Halsey ignored Mitscher’s insights, and made an understandable and, to him, prudent threat-conservative judgment that Ozawa’s force was still capable of launching serious attacks. Halsey later explained his actions partly by explicitly stating he did not want to be “shuttle bombed” by Ozawa’s force (a technique whereby planes can land and rearm at bases on either side of a foe, allowing them to attack on both the outbound flight and the return), or to give them a “free shot” at the US forces in Leyte Gulf. He was obviously not similarly concerned with giving Kurita’s battleships and cruisers a free shot at those same forces.

The fact that Halsey made one seemingly prudent threat-conservative judgment regarding Ozawa’s aircraft carriers and another rather opposite judgment regarding Kurita’s battleships probably reflects his understandable bias toward aircraft carriers as the prime threat of the war. At Leyte Gulf, Halsey failed to appreciate that under certain circumstances battleships and cruisers could still be extremely dangerous, and ironically, through his own failures to adequately communicate his intentions, he managed to bring those circumstances about.

Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague

Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague

Clifton Sprague—commander of Task Unit 77.4.3 in the battle off Samar—was later bitterly critical of Halsey’s decision, and of his failure to clearly inform Kinkaid and 7th Fleet that their northern flank was no longer protected:

In the absence of any information that this exit [of the San Bernardino Strait] was no longer blocked, it was logical to assume that our northern flank could not be exposed without ample warning.

In his book, The History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Samuel Eliot Morrison wrote the following regarding Halsey’s failure to turn TF 34 southwards when 7th Fleet’s first calls for assistance off Samar were received:

If TF 34 had been detached a few hours earlier, after Kinkaid’s first urgent request for help, and had left the destroyers behind, since their fueling caused a delay of over two and a half hours, a powerful battle line of six modern battleships under the command of Admiral Lee, the most experienced battle squadron commander in the Navy, would have arrived off the San Bernardino Strait in time to have clashed with Kurita’s Center Force… Apart from the accidents common in naval warfare, there is every reason to suppose that Lee would have “crossed the T” and completed the destruction of Center Force.

Instead, the mighty gunfire of the Third Fleet’s Battle Line, greater than that of the whole Japanese Navy, was never brought into action except to finish off one or two crippled light ships.

—Morison (1956), pp. 336–337

Perhaps the most telling comment is made with just a few words by Vice Admiral Lee in his action report as Commander of TF 34 —

No battle damage was incurred nor inflicted on the enemy by vessels while operating as Task Force Thirty-Four.

—Task Force 34 Action Report: 6 October 1944 – 3 November 1944

Losses

The losses in the battle of Leyte Gulf were not evenly distributed throughout all forces; for instance, the destroyer USS Heermann—despite her unequal fight with the enemy—finished the battle with only six of her crew dead. More than 1,000 sailors and aircrewmen of the Allied escort carrier units were killed. As a result of communication errors and other failures, a large number of survivors from Taffy 3 were unable to be rescued for several days, and died unnecessarily as a consequence.

USS Heermann

Due to the long duration and size of the battle, accounts vary as to the losses which occurred as a part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf and losses that occurred shortly before and shortly after. One account of the losses lists the following vessels:

Allied losses

The United States lost six front line warships during the Battle of Leyte Gulf:

  • One Light Carrier: USS Princeton

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Princeton

  • Two Escort Carriers: USS Gambier Bay and St. Lo (the first major warship sunk by a kamikaze attack)
Gambier Bay (CVE-73) under Japanese fire during the Battle of Samar. The smudge in the upper right corner is a Japanese heavy cruiser. US Navy photo. img URL: http://www.navsource.org/archives/03/0307304.jpg

Gambier Bay (CVE-73) under Japanese fire during the Battle of Samar. The smudge in the upper right corner is a Japanese heavy cruiser. US Navy photo. img URL: http://www.navsource.org/archives/03/0307304.jpg

USS St. Lo Burning from a Kamikaze

USS St. Lo Burning from a Kamikaze

  • Two Destroyers: Hoel and Johnston
Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944 American survivors of the battle are rescued by a U.S. Navy ship on 26 October 1944. Some 1200 survivors of USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), USS Hoel (DD-533), USS Johnston (DD-557) and USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) were rescued during the days following the action. Photographed by U.S. Army Private William Roof. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944
American survivors of the battle are rescued by a U.S. Navy ship on 26 October 1944.
Some 1200 survivors of USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), USS Hoel (DD-533), USS Johnston (DD-557) and USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) were rescued during the days following the action.
Photographed by U.S. Army Private William Roof.
Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

  • One Destroyer Escort: USS Samuel B. Roberts
  • Four other American ships were damaged.

Japanese losses

The Japanese lost 26 front-line warships during the Battle of Leyte Gulf:

  • One Fleet Aircraft Carrier: Zuikaku (flagship of the decoy Northern Forces).
Zuikaku's crew jettisoning explosives, 25 Oct 1944

Zuikaku’s crew jettisoning explosives, 25 Oct 1944

  • Three Light Aircraft Carriers: Zuihō, Chiyoda, and Chitose.
Zuihō during the Battle of Cape Engano

Zuihō during the Battle of Cape Engano

his light carrier of the Japanese NavyÂ’s Chitose Class lies dead in the waters off Luzon following attacks by Helldivers and Avengers on 24 October 1944

his light carrier of the Japanese NavyÂ’s Chitose Class lies dead in the waters off Luzon following attacks by Helldivers and Avengers on 24 October 1944

  • Three Battleships: Musashi (former flagship of the Japanese Combined Fleet), Yamashiro (flagship of the Southern Force) and Fusō.
Battleship Musashi under fire October 1944

Battleship Musashi under fire October 1944

Imperial Japanese Navy battleships Fusō (foreground) and Yamashiro (background)

Imperial Japanese Navy battleships Fusō (foreground) and Yamashiro (background)

  • Six Heavy Cruisers: Atago (flagship of the Center Force), Maya, Suzuya, Chokai, Chikuma, and Mogami.
Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser Atago photo from 1939

Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser Atago photo from 1939

Japanese Heavy Cruiser Maya torpedoed October 23, 1944

Japanese Heavy Cruiser Maya torpedoed October 23, 1944

Cruiser Mogami

Cruiser Mogami

  • Four Light Cruisers: Noshiro, Abukuma, Tama, and Kinu.
Japanese cruiser Abukuma

Japanese cruiser Abukuma

  • Nine Destroyers: Nowaki, Hayashimo, Yamagumo, Asagumo, Michishio, Akizuki, Hatsuzuki, Wakaba, and Uranami.
Destroyer Akizuki

Destroyer Akizuki

Aftermath

The Battle of Leyte Gulf secured the beachheads of the US Sixth Army on Leyte against attack from the sea.

National Archives 111-SC-349595 General MacArthur and soldiers walk from LSTs through the water onto Leyte Island, Philippines, October 1944.

National Archives 111-SC-349595
General MacArthur and soldiers walk from LSTs through the water onto Leyte Island, Philippines, October 1944.

However, much hard fighting would be required before the island was completely in Allied hands at the end of December 1944: the Battle of Leyte on land was fought in parallel with an air and sea campaign in which the Japanese reinforced and resupplied their troops on Leyte while the Allies attempted to interdict them and establish air-sea superiority for a series of amphibious landings in Ormoc Bay—engagements collectively referred to as the Battle of Ormoc Bay.

JAPANESE CONVOY UNDER ATTACK in Ormoc Bay. A destroyer escort is blown apart by a direct hit

JAPANESE CONVOY UNDER ATTACK in Ormoc Bay. A destroyer escort is blown apart by a direct hit

JAPANESE CONVOY UNDER ATTACK in Ormoc Bay. A large transport is straddled by bomb bursts

JAPANESE CONVOY UNDER ATTACK in Ormoc Bay. A large transport is straddled by bomb bursts

The Imperial Japanese Navy had suffered its greatest loss of ships and crew ever. Its failure to dislodge the Allied invaders from Leyte meant the inevitable loss of the Philippines, which in turn meant Japan would be all but cut off from its occupied territories in Southeast Asia. These territories provided resources which were vital to Japan, in particular the oil needed for her ships and aircraft. This problem was compounded because the shipyards and sources of manufactured goods such as ammunition, were in Japan itself. Finally, the loss of Leyte opened the way for the invasion of the Ryukyu Islands in 1945.

ryukyu_islands_30th_parallel

The major IJN surface ships returned to their bases to languish, entirely or almost entirely inactive, for the remainder of the war. The only major operation by these surface ships between the Battle for Leyte Gulf and the Japanese surrender was the suicidal sortie in April 1945 (part of Operation Ten-Go), in which the battleship Yamato and her escorts were destroyed by American carrier aircraft.

yamexplodes

The first use of kamikaze aircraft took place following the Leyte landings. A kamikaze hit the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Australia on 21 October. Organized suicide attacks by the “Special Attack Force” began on 25 October during the closing phase of the Battle off Samar, causing the destruction of the escort carrier St. Lo.

Japanese Kamikaze Pilots 1944

Japanese Kamikaze Pilots 1944

J.F.C. Fuller, in his The Decisive Battles of the Western World, writes of the outcome of Leyte Gulf:

The Japanese fleet had [effectively] ceased to exist, and, except by land-based aircraft, their opponents had won undisputed command of the sea.

When Admiral Ozawa was questioned… after the war he replied ‘After this battle the surface forces became strictly auxiliary, so that we relied on land forces, special [Kamikaze] attack, and air power… there was no further use assigned to surface vessels, with the exception of some special ships’.

And Admiral Yonai, the Navy Minister, said he realized the defeat at Leyte ‘was tantamount to the loss of the Philippines.’

As for the larger significance of the battle, he said, ‘I felt that it was the end.’

Months after the battle, the US Navy knew the American public had to be told something. The battle had been too large, involved too many US military personnel and had resulted in too much loss of life just to ignore. To this end, the US Navy provided most of the information to the publication Popular Mechanics to publish an article on the battle showing the American public that the battle had gone exactly as Halsey had planned.

Cover of Popular Mechanics Magazine, February 1945.  I do not know if this is the issue in question.

Cover of Popular Mechanics Magazine, February 1945. I do not know if this is the issue in question.

It was several years before the true story of Halsey’s decision to leave the San Bernardino Strait unguarded became known to the American public.

 

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.  In Part 2, I wrote about the Battle of Sibuyan Sea.  In Part 3, I wrote about Admiral Halsey’s decisions and the San Bernardino Strait.  For Part 4, I wrote about the Battle of Surigao Strait.  For Part 5, the Battle of Samar.  In Part 6, I will write about the Battle Cape Engaño.

The Battle of Cape Engaño (25–26 October)

leyte_map_annotated

Ozawa’s “Northern Force” comprised four aircraft carriers (Zuikaku—the last survivor of the six carriers that had attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the light carriers Zuihō, Chitose, and Chiyoda), two World War I battleships partially converted to carriers (Hyūga and Ise—the two aft turrets had been replaced by a hangar, aircraft handling deck and catapult, but neither battleship carried any aircraft in this battle), three light cruisers (Ōyodo, Tama, and Isuzu), and nine destroyers. His force had only 108 aircraft.

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku (left center) and (probably) Japanese aircraft carrier Zuiho (right) under attack by U.S. Navy dive bombers during the battle off Cape Engaño, October 25, 1944. Both ships appear to be making good speed, indicating that this photo was taken relatively early in the action. Both carriers are emitting heavy smoke. Note heavy concentration of anti-aircraft shell bursts in lower right and right, and a SB2C "Helldiver" diving in the lower left.

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons
Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku (left center) and (probably) Japanese aircraft carrier Zuiho (right) under attack by U.S. Navy dive bombers during the battle off Cape Engaño, October 25, 1944. Both ships appear to be making good speed, indicating that this photo was taken relatively early in the action. Both carriers are emitting heavy smoke. Note heavy concentration of anti-aircraft shell bursts in lower right and right, and a SB2C “Helldiver” diving in the lower left.

Ozawa’s force was not located until 16:40 on 24 October, largely because Sherman’s TG 38.3—which was the northernmost of Halsey’s groups—was responsible for searches in this sector. The force which Halsey was taking north with him—three groups of Mitscher’s TF 38—was overwhelmingly stronger than the Japanese Northern Force. Between them, these groups had five large fleet carriers (Intrepid, Franklin, Lexington, Enterprise, and Essex), five light fleet carriers (Independence, Belleau Wood, Langley, Cabot, and San Jacinto), six battleships (Alabama, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Washington), eight cruisers (two heavy and six light), and more than 40 destroyers. The air groups of the 10 US carriers present contained 600-1,000 aircraft.

Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee, Jr., USN  Portrait photograph, taken circa 1942. From RAdm. Samuel Eliot Morison photographic files. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee, Jr., USN
Portrait photograph, taken circa 1942.
From RAdm. Samuel Eliot Morison photographic files.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

At 02:40 on 25 October, Halsey detached TF 34, built around the 3rd Fleet’s six battleships and commanded by Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee. As dawn approached, the ships of Task Force 34 drew ahead of the carrier groups. Halsey intended Mitscher to make air strikes followed by the heavy gunfire of Lee’s battleships.

Around dawn on 25 October, Ozawa launched 75 aircraft to attack the 3rd Fleet. Most were shot down by American combat air patrols, and no damage was done to the US ships. A few Japanese planes survived and made their way to land bases on Luzon.

During the night, Halsey had passed tactical command of TF 38 to Admiral Mitscher, who ordered the American carrier groups to launch their first strike wave, of 180 aircraft, at dawn—before the Northern Force had been located. When the search aircraft made contact at 07:10, this strike wave was orbiting ahead of the task force. At 08:00, as the attack went in, its escorting fighters destroyed Ozawa’s combat air patrol of about 30 planes. The US air strikes continued until the evening, by which time TF 38 had flown 527 sorties against the Northern Force, sinking Zuikaku, the light carriers Chitose and Zuihō, and the destroyer Akizuki, all with heavy loss of life. The light carrier Chiyoda and the cruiser Tama were crippled. Ozawa transferred his flag to the light cruiser Ōyodo.

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Chitose class Carrier under attack, near miss Leyte gulf. This ship was finished off at 1630 by cruiser gunfire, East of Luzon, 25 October 1944.

Chitose class Carrier under attack, near miss Leyte gulf. This ship was finished off at 1630 by cruiser gunfire, East of Luzon, 25 October 1944.

The crisis – US 7th Fleet’s calls for help

Shortly after 08:00 on 25 October, desperate messages calling for assistance began to come in from 7th Fleet, which had been engaging Nishimura’s “Southern Force” in Surigao Strait since 02:00. One message from Kinkaid, sent in plain language, read: “MY SITUATION IS CRITICAL. FAST BATTLESHIPS AND SUPPORT BY AIR STRIKES MAY BE ABLE TO KEEP ENEMY FROM DESTROYING CVES AND ENTERING LEYTE.” Halsey recalled in his memoirs that he was shocked at this message, recounting that the radio signals from the 7th Fleet had come in at random and out of order because of a backlog in the signals office. It seems that he did not receive this vital message from Kinkaid until around 10:00. Halsey later claimed he knew Kinkaid was in trouble, but he had not dreamed of the seriousness of this crisis.

One of the most alarming signals from Kinkaid reported, after their action in Surigao Strait, 7th Fleet’s own battleships were critically low on ammunition. Even this failed to persuade Halsey to send any immediate assistance to the powerful 7th Fleet. In fact, the 7th Fleet’s battleships were not as short of ammunition as Kinkaid’s signal implied, but Halsey did not know that.

From 3,000 mi (2,600 nmi; 4,800 km) away in Pearl Harbor, Admiral Nimitz had been monitoring the desperate calls from Taffy 3, and sent Halsey a terse message: “TURKEY TROTS TO WATER GG FROM CINCPAC ACTION COM THIRD FLEET INFO COMINCH CTF SEVENTY-SEVEN X WHERE IS RPT WHERE IS TASK FORCE THIRTY FOUR RR THE WORLD WONDERS.” The first four words and the last three were “padding” used to confuse enemy cryptanalysis (the beginning and end of the true message was marked by double consonants). The communications staff on Halsey’s flagship correctly deleted the first section of padding but mistakenly retained the last three words in the message finally handed to Halsey. The last three words—probably selected by a communications officer at Nimitz’s headquarters—may have been meant as a loose quote from Tennyson’s poem on “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, suggested by the coincidence that this day, 25 October, was the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Balaclava—and was not intended as a commentary on the current crisis off Leyte. Halsey, however, when reading the message, thought that the last words—”THE WORLD WONDERS”—were a biting piece of criticism from Nimitz, threw his cap to the deck and broke into “sobs of rage”. Rear Admiral Robert Carney, his Chief of Staff, confronted him, telling Halsey “Stop it! What the hell’s the matter with you? Pull yourself together.”

Eventually, at 11:15, more than three hours after the first distress messages from 7th Fleet had been received by his flagship, Halsey ordered TF 34 to turn around and head southwards towards Samar. At this point, Lee’s battleships were almost within gun range of Ozawa’s force. Two-and-a-half hours were then spent refuelling TF 34’s accompanying destroyers.

After this succession of delays it was too late for TF 34 to give any practical help to 7th Fleet, other than to assist in picking up survivors from Taffy 3, and too late even to intercept Kurita’s force before it made its escape through San Bernardino Strait.

Nevertheless, at 16:22, in a desperate and even more belated attempt to intervene in the events off Samar, Halsey formed a new task group—TG 34.5—under Rear Admiral Badger, built around Third Fleet’s two fastest battleships—Iowa and New Jersey, both capable of a speed of more than 32 kn (37 mph; 59 km/h)–and TF 34’s three cruisers and eight destroyers, and sped southwards, leaving Lee and the other four battleships to follow. As Morison observes, if Badger’s group had succeeded in intercepting the Japanese Center Force it would have been seriously outgunned by Kurita’s battleships.

Cruisers and destroyers of TG 34.5, however, caught the destroyer Nowaki—the last straggler from Center Force—off San Bernardino Strait, and sank her with all hands, including the survivors from Chikuma.

Battle of Cape Engaño – final actions

When Halsey turned TF 34 southwards at 11:15, he detached a task group of four of its cruisers and nine of its destroyers under Rear Admiral DuBose, and reassigned this group to TF 38. At 14:15, Mitscher ordered DuBose to pursue the remnants of the Japanese Northern Force.

Rear Admiral Laurance Toombs DuBose

Rear Admiral Laurance Toombs DuBose

His cruisers finished off the light carrier Chiyoda at around 17:00, and at 20:59 his ships sank the destroyer Hatsuzuki after a very stubborn fight.

USS Mobile 10

When Admiral Ozawa learned of the deployment of DuBose’s relatively weak task group, he ordered battleships Ise and Hyūga to turn southwards and attack it, but they failed to locate DuBose’s group, which they heavily outgunned. Halsey’s withdrawal of all six of Lee’s battleships in his attempt to assist Seventh Fleet had now rendered TF 38 vulnerable to a surface counterattack by the decoy Northern Force.

At about 23:10, the American submarine Jallao torpedoed and sank the light cruiser Tama of Ozawa’s force.

USS Jallao (SS-368)

USS Jallao (SS-368)

This was the last act of the Battle of Cape Engaño, and—apart from some final air strikes on the retreating Japanese forces on 26 October—the conclusion of the Battle for Leyte Gulf.

In my next post, I will bring this major battle of World War II to a close with a summary of losses on both sides, a little about the criticism of Admiral Halsey and the aftermath of this series of battles.