Posts Tagged ‘WWII’

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

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

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

ww2 asia map 47

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

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

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

According to the ship’s log:

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

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

In part 1, I covered February 1945

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

Kobe, Japan after the 1945 Air Raids

Kobe, Japan after the 1945 Air Raids

 

Map showing the destroyed areas.

Map showing the destroyed areas.

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

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

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Task Group’s score:

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

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

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

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

planes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Submitted for the Daily Prompt: Greatness

Assignment: What makes a teacher great?  Photographers, artists, poets: show us GREATNESS.

The photographs I have included in this post are obviously not my work.  These have been obtained from various USS Navy WWII sources.  In my opinion, the Aircraft Carrier defined GREATNESS in World War II.  I am biased in the included photographs as these are all the USS Hornet (CV-12) which my father served from December 1943 – February 1946.

On 3 Aug 1942 the keel of hull #395, named USS Kearsarge (CV-12), was laid by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia. On 27 October 1942, the USS Hoornet (CV-8) was sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz Island. With the Hornet officially stricken from Navy record, hull #395 was renamed USS Hornet (CV-12).

On 3 Aug 1942 the keel of hull #395, named USS Kearsarge (CV-12), was laid by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia. On 27 October 1942, the USS Hoornet (CV-8) was sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz Island. With the Hornet officially stricken from Navy record, hull #395 was renamed USS Hornet (CV-12).

USS Hornet CV-12 1944

USS Hornet CV-12 1944

Deck crewman aboard USS Hornet CV-12 disengages tailhook from the arresting gear while another chases stray ordnance that came loose during landing

Deck crewman aboard USS Hornet CV-12 disengages tailhook from the arresting gear while another chases stray ordnance that came loose during landing

USS Hornet (CV-12) underway in January 1944 during her shakedown in the Atlantic, before Air Group 15 came aboard. She is wearing Measure 33, Design 3A camouflage. There are only four radio masts on the starboard side of the flight deck, and the hangar catapult outrigger is in the stowed position. In place of a third Mk 37 director, a 40-mm quad mount was fitted at the same level as the flight deck. Note the hull number on the flight deck is unusually painted facing "the other" way — this was corrected before she entered combat. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

USS Hornet (CV-12) underway in January 1944 during her shakedown in the Atlantic, before Air Group 15 came aboard. She is wearing Measure 33, Design 3A camouflage. There are only four radio masts on the starboard side of the flight deck, and the hangar catapult outrigger is in the stowed position. In place of a third Mk 37 director, a 40-mm quad mount was fitted at the same level as the flight deck. Note the hull number on the flight deck is unusually painted facing “the other” way — this was corrected before she entered combat. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

This photo was taken on March 4, 1944 as Hornet was tying up to the mooring at Fox 9 Ford Island, Pearl Harbor with Air Group 15 on the flight deck. The photo was taken from Essex (CV-9) who would soon be taking Air Group 15 aboard while Hornet would take Air Group 2 into her first combat with the Japanese. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

This photo was taken on March 4, 1944 as Hornet was tying up to the mooring at Fox 9 Ford Island, Pearl Harbor with Air Group 15 on the flight deck. The photo was taken from Essex (CV-9) who would soon be taking Air Group 15 aboard while Hornet would take Air Group 2 into her first combat with the Japanese. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

Murderers Row US Aircraft Carriers of Task Force 58

Murderers Row US Aircraft Carriers of Task Force 58

USS Hornet (CV-12), World War II. Overhead plan and starboard profile meticulously drawn by John Robert Barrett. Available from Navy Yard Associates (if you decide to purchase artwork from them please indicate that you heard about their work from NavSource).

USS Hornet (CV-12), World War II.
Overhead plan and starboard profile meticulously drawn by John Robert Barrett. Available from Navy Yard Associates (if you decide to purchase artwork from them please indicate that you heard about their work from NavSource).

Hornet's flight deck and island taken while at anchor in Eniwetok Atoll, August 26, 1944. This was a ceremony in which Admiral Mitscher, Commander of TF-58, honored the ship, crew, and Air Group 2 for their part in the conquest of the Marianas Islands. The ship anchored off Hornet's starboard side is USS Essex (CV-9). The light carrier is believed to be USS San Jacinto (CVL-30). National Archives photo.

Hornet’s flight deck and island taken while at anchor in Eniwetok Atoll, August 26, 1944. This was a ceremony in which Admiral Mitscher, Commander of TF-58, honored the ship, crew, and Air Group 2 for their part in the conquest of the Marianas Islands. The ship anchored off Hornet’s starboard side is USS Essex (CV-9). The light carrier is believed to be USS San Jacinto (CVL-30). National Archives photo.

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.

USS Hornet (CV-12) after the Battle of the Philippine Sea June 1944

USS Hornet (CV-12) after the Battle of the Philippine Sea June 1944

Presidential Citation to the USS Hornet (CV-12)

Presidential Citation to the USS Hornet (CV-12)

Submitted for the Daily Prompt: Country

Assignment: Are you patriotic? What does being patriotic mean to you?  Photographers, artists, poets: show us COUNTRY.

When I think of country, I think about the servicemen and women who risk their lives so that we can have the life we have today.  I also think about those that continue to serve.  I write this blog in honor of my father who served in World War II.   So through him, I define country.  I am currently telling his WWII story and there is a link to the beginning in the blogroll on the left panel.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

USS Hornet (CV-12) after the Battle of the Philippine Sea June 1944

USS Hornet (CV-12) after the Battle of the Philippine Sea June 1944

I also cannot define country without thinking about the people that came from all over the world to live in the United States.  My country truly is a melting pot.  So to help me define country, I add my mother immigrating from the Ireland in the 1950s.

My mom in the 1950s

My mom in the 1950s

Passenger Ship of the Greek Line,  The New York

Passenger Ship of the Greek Line,
The New York

Enjoying the Vogage

Enjoying the Voyage

Leaving the family farm in Ireland

Leaving the family farm in Ireland

Leaving all that she knew

Leaving all that she knew

In my previous posts, I wrote that my father, Seaman First Class, John T. Ryan enlisted in October 1942 and was received on board of USS Hornet (CV-12) on December 10, 1943.   I didn’t know when and where he reported to boot camp and what else he experienced between October 1942 and December 10, 1943.  This week the copy of his Naval file came in the mail.  It is a lot of pages and many of them are duplicates but I have been able to construct a timeline of the period between enlistment and coming on board the USS Hornet (CV-12).  If you are new to my blog, you may wish to start at the beginning.  There is a link to the introduction on the right panel of the site.  I have also put what I am about to write into the original post where it fits in the order of chronological events.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

Through completing a form and as I am a direct descendant of the veteran, I was able to obtain a copy of his US Navy file.  I have gained a little more information by getting this file.  As stated before, my father, John Thomas Ryan enlisted in the United State Navy on October 28, 1942.  This is actually the date that he reported to the Naval Recruitment Center in Philadelphia.  On October 30, 1942 he was transferred to USNTS, Bainbridge, Maryland.  His rank was A.S., V-6.  (Apprentice Seaman).

SEAMAN–Performs ordinary deck duties in connection with the upkeep and operations of a ship. Stands watch as look-out, telephone talker, messenger, or simillar duty. Member of gun crew.

V-6 — Enlisted men required for mobilization in addition to other classes of Volunteer Reserve.

General View of Bainbridge (Md.) Naval Training Center

General View of Bainbridge (Md.) Naval Training Center

According to my research, this training center had been active only a month when my father arrived.  His commanding officer upon arrival was C.F. Russel, Captain USN.

Bainbridge Naval Training Station, Bainbridge. Capt. Russell's house. Architects: Eggers & Higgins

Bainbridge Naval Training Station, Bainbridge. Capt. Russell’s house. Architects: Eggers & Higgins

United States Naval Training Center, Bainbridge (USNTC Bainbridge) was the U.S. Navy Training Center at Port Deposit, Maryland, on the bluffs of the northeast bank of the Susquehanna River. It was active from 1942 to 1976 under the Commander of the Fifth Naval District, based in Norfolk, Virginia.

Located on the appropriated campus of the Tome School for boys, the training center sat between various important naval centers of World War II: about 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Baltimore, Maryland, and 75 miles (121 km) from Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was reached via Maryland Route 222, about halfway between US 1 and US 40.

Tome School for Boys

Tome School for Boys

The center was activated on October 1, 1942, and the first batch of recruits arrived 10 days later to begin “boot camp” training and indoctrination. They came in busloads from transportation collection points at Havre de Grace and Perryville, Maryland. The recruits were given a battery of tests to determine their educational and skill levels, then trained in indoctrination, ordnance and gunnery, seamanship, fire fighting, physical training, and military drill.

Halfway through boot camp, recruits had a “service week”, which generally included kitchen duty, peeling potatoes, mopping, picking up cigarette butts, etc. Recruits with desirable skills, such as typing, could end up on an office typewriter rather than in a kitchen.

Recruits were also trained in shipboard duties aboard the R.T.S. Commodore, a relatively large “ship” built on dry land. The trainer was equipped with most of the facilities found on a real ship, including deck guns, pilot house, davits with whaleboats, and mooring lines fastened to earth-bound bollards, so that crew members could learn casting off hawsers and other lines connecting the ship to its dock.

Recruits training on the "USS Neversail", USS Commodore (401B), at USNRTC Bainbridge.

Recruits training on the “USS Neversail”, USS Commodore (401B), at USNRTC Bainbridge.

USNTC Bainbridge--BARRACKS INTERIOR

BarracksBainbridgeRecruitBarracksInterior1954

By the end of World War II, the center had trained 244,277 recruits who transferred to various ships and stations throughout the world.

On January 26, 1943 while at the USNTS, Bainbridge, MD, John Thomas Ryan was promoted to Seaman Second Class (S2c, V6).

On February 22, 1943 when my father completed training in Bainbridge, Maryland, he was transferred to the Naval Shipyard in Long Beach, California.

The life of the Long Beach Naval Shipyard began in 1940 when, for $1, the Navy acquired 104 acres of oceanfront on Terminal Island from the city of Long Beach. Later, landfills and dredging increased the shipyard site to 396 acres. It was located at Terminal Island between Long Beach and San Pedro about 23 miles south of Los Angeles International Airport.  It opened in February 1943 with 300 workers.  It was established to repair and refurbish U.S. naval vessels. During World War II, the naval dry docks did routine and battle damage repairs to tankers, cargo ships, troop transports, destroyers and cruisers. It also served as a depot for fuel and supplies for U.S. Navy ships on their way to war or deployment.

On March 20, 1943, Seaman Second Class, John Thomas Ryan was received on board the USS Dashiell (DD659).  According to my research, this would be on the ship’s commissioning date.  According to the US Navy WWII Muster Rolls, he remained on board through October 17, 1943.

USS Dashiell (DD-659) Spring 1943, NA 80G60026.

USS Dashiell (DD-659) Spring 1943, NA 80G60026.

Although my father was only on board for a part of the USS Dashiell (DD-659) war history, here is a little about her.  You can read more about the ship at this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Dashiell_%28DD-659%29 or other internet sources.

The USS Dashiell (DD-659) was a Fletcher-class destroyer of the United States Navy, named for Robert B. Dashiell (1860–1899).  Dashiell was launched 6 February 1943 by Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J.. sponsored by Mrs. R. B. Dashiell, widow of Assistant Naval Constructor Dashiell; and commissioned 20 March 1943, Commander J. B. McLean in command.

In World War II, the USS Dashiell (DD-659) arrived at Pearl Harbor 24 July 1943 to join the Fast Carrier Task Forces for the raids on Marcus Island of 31 August to 1 September; Tarawa, 18–20 September; and Wake Island, 5–6 October. Arriving at Efate, New Hebrides, 5 November, she prepared for the invasion of the Gilberts and was one of the first to enter the lagoon in the assault on Tarawa 20 November. She passed into the lagoon under heavy enemy fire, took up position just off Tarawa’s reef, and opened return fire on shore batteries, enemy strong points and an ammunition dump to aid the troops ashore for three days. Following the cessation of hostilities on Tarawa, the Dashiell was sent to the US’ west coast for an overhaul.

On October 17, 1943, my father was transferred to C.O. RecSta, Pearl Harbor, T.H. FFT.  I don’t know what these abbreviations are but according to the papers from his file, he was granted 8 days leave in accordance with BuPers c/L No. 167-43 and additional orders to report to Recship at San Francisco, California which he did on November 7, 1943.

How did enlisted personnel get from one place to another during the war.  Nothing in the papers says how he traveled from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to San Franscisco, California.  Is it the reason for the leave?  Did the men have to find a means of transport?  If anyone reading this blog has the answer, I would like to know.

On November 19, 1943, my father reported to the station at Newport News, Virginia.  Again, how did he get there, clear across the country?  Was it the Recship mentioned above.  Could a ship get from California, down through the Panama Canal and up to Virginia in twelve days?

In my last post, I wrote that the USS Hornet (CV-12) was in the port of Majuro for change in command 29 May 1944.  It departed Majuro on June 6, 1944.

Good bow shot of Hornet in original form tied up at Majuro, May 29, 1944. National Archives photo # 80-G-242616.

Good bow shot of Hornet in original form tied up at Majuro, May 29, 1944. National Archives photo # 80-G-242616.

The Second Captain

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Sample

William Dodge Sample (9 March 1898–2 October 1945)

Captain William Dodge Sample

Captain William Dodge Sample

He ultimately was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and an Escort Carrier Division commander in World War II. He was the youngest rear admiral in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.  Sample was born in Buffalo, New York and graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in June 1918.

During World War I, Sample served aboard the transport Henderson. For meritorious service during a fire onboard Henderson, he received a letter of commendation from the Secretary of the Navy. Detached in August 1918, he served on several destroyers based at Queenstown, Ireland. He remained in the European Waters Detachment after the end of World War I.  In December 1921, Sample was transferred to the gunboat Pampanga in the Asiatic Fleet.  Sample attended flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida and was designated a Naval Aviator on 23 June 1923. Shortly thereafter, he served as Commanding Officer of Scouting Squadron VS-1. In the 1920s, he successively served in the Aviation Departments of the light cruisers Raleigh and Richmond, and battleships Arizona and New York.  Sample served on board the aircraft carriers Saratoga and Lexington, commanding Fighter Squadron VF-5 on the latter from 1932-1934. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander, Sample saw duty at the Bureau of Aeronautics from 1935-1937 followed by duty as Navigator on Ranger in 1938. In 1939, Sample was assigned as Air Operations Officer on Yorktown. His last duty before World War II was as Supervisor of Aviation Training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.  At the outbreak of World War II, he assisted in the conversion of the oil tanker Santee into an escort carrier. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to Commander. Assuming command of Santee on her commissioning, he was awarded a letter of commendation for service during Operation Torch; the invasion of North Africa.  Captain Sample assumed command of Intrepid on 19 April 1944. In May 1944, he was transferred to serve as Commanding Officer of Hornet and in the ensuing months participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and a strike against the Volcano Islands.  In late summer 1944, Sample was promoted to Rear Admiral, planting his flag aboard the escort carrier Marcus Island as Commander, Carrier Division 27 (CarDiv 27), for the invasion of Palau. In October 1944, at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, his CarDiv 27 was part of Task Unit 77.4.2 (TU 77.4.2, otherwise known as Taffy II) at the Battle off Samar under Rear Admiral Felix B. Stump. In early 1945, Commander, CarDiv 27, and Marcus Island supported the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Philippines. For the Invasion of Okinawa, Sample moved his flag to CarDiv 22 and Suwannee.  During the Leyte invasion, Rear Admiral Sample “desired a better view of operations” and decided to hitch a ride in a torpedo bomber. He lay in the “tunnel gun” position and observed through the window below the tail. The plane was hit by antiaircraft. Sample was severely cut on the head and shoulders. James C. Edinger, ARM3c, USNR, of Foxburg, Pennsylvania), came down from the “blister” where he was manning a .50 in (13 mm) machine gun, and applied first aid. Edinger said that it took them more than an hour to return to Marcus Island, during which he kept kicking Sample in the face with his foot to keep the Admiral from passing out. Sample was a big man: Edinger was afraid that if they ended up in the water, he wouldn’t be able to get him out of the plane. Each time Sample would warn Edinger to make sure the .30 in (7.6 mm) machine gun in the tail was empty. He was afraid that when they landed the gun would go off. Later, in the state room Sample explained to Edinger that he could see the headlines in the paper, “Admiral lands upon carrier: shoots hole in deck”. According to the ship’s surgeon, Commander Lee,”the excellence of Edinger’s treatment helped prevent infection”. Admiral Sample was awarded the Purple Heart, and at Sample’s request, Edinger was promoted to Aviation Radio Man, Second Class.

On 2 October 1945, shortly after the war ended, Sample was listed as missing after his Martin PBM Mariner aircraft failed to return from a familiarization flight near Wakayama, Japan. Rear Admiral Sample was officially declared dead on 3 October 1946.

The remains of Sample, Capt. Charles C. McDonald of Suwannee (CVE-27), and the seven members of the flight crew were discovered in the wreckage of the aircraft on 19 November 1948, recovered, and returned to the United States to be interred together at Arlington National Cemetery on 17 May 1949.

For the purposes of my writing, William Dodge Sample was the Captain of the USS Hornet (CV-12) from 29 May 1944 through 9 August 1944.  In 1968, a ship of his namesake was commissioned the USS Sample (FF-1048), a frigate that served in Vietnam.  Of interest to my story is that my oldest brother had a brief period in the USS Navy in late 1970s/ early 1980s and served at one point on the USS Sample.  Interesting cross generational connection don’t you think.  I don’t think my brother knows this connection and I can’t wait to tell him about it.

In June 1944, the USS Hornet (CV-12) and the other participants in Task Force 58 continued to engage the enemy.

Aboard as HORNET’s lethal sting was Air Group 2, which had previous combat experience while assigned to Enterprise (CV-6). Air Group 2 included F6F Hellcats, TBM Avengers, and SB2C Helldivers. HORNET’s initial baptism under fire was participation in the Asiatic-Pacific raids and the Hollandia operations. In June 1944, HORNET began seven weeks of intensive air strikes in the Marianas Islands including the strategic islands of Saipan, Guam, and Tinian. During this period more than 3,000 sorties were flown from HORNET’s flight deck against Saipan. VF-2 would distinguish itself by splashing 233 Japanese aircraft.

F6F-3 Hellcats of VF-2 on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-12) June 1944

F6F-3 Hellcats of VF-2 on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-12) June 1944

June 12, 1944

Attacks by carrier aircraft on the Marianas were continued. Battleships conducted a day‑long bombardment of Saipan. Night of 12‑‑13 June: Destroyers bombarded Saipan and Tinian.

USS Hornet (CV-12) recovering an SB2C Helldiver from VB-2, June 1944.

USS Hornet (CV-12) recovering an SB2C Helldiver from VB-2, June 1944.

The next two photographs were taken within seconds of each other according to http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/12.htm

"ENS F. T. Long from Torpedo 2 [VT-2] wrote off TBM-1C BuNo 45593" in June 1944. It looks like the landing gear collapsed, perhaps because the hydraulics of #93 had been shot out. This picture shows to good advantage the "Net" that the LSO dove into if there was a problem.

“ENS F. T. Long from Torpedo 2 [VT-2] wrote off TBM-1C BuNo 45593” in June 1944.
It looks like the landing gear collapsed, perhaps because the hydraulics of #93 had been shot out. This picture shows to good advantage the “Net” that the LSO dove into if there was a problem.

"ENS F. T. Long from Torpedo 2 [VT-2] wrote off TBM-1C BuNo 45593" in June 1944. Apparently #93, its engine and starboard wing ripped off, had already been hit some time earlier, as attested by the still unpainted fabric patch on its rudder.

“ENS F. T. Long from Torpedo 2 [VT-2] wrote off TBM-1C BuNo 45593” in June 1944.
Apparently #93, its engine and starboard wing ripped off, had already been hit some time earlier, as attested by the still unpainted fabric patch on its rudder.

 

June 18 – 20, 1944

The Battle of Philippine Sea – the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot

Map of Battle of the Philippine Sea

Map of Battle of the Philippine Sea

Here are a couple of videos to enhance the story:

http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/destroyed-in-seconds-marianas-turkey-shoot.htm

http://www.military.com/video/operations-and-strategy/second-world-war/ww2-great-marianas-turkey-shoot/1235886034001/

There were eleven US aircraft carriers involved in the Battle of the Philippine Sea (or the Great Mariana Turkey Shoot). They belonged to Task Force 58, under Marc Andrew Mitscher. Five of them were fleet carriers (USS Yorktown CV-10, Hornet CV-12, Enterprise CV-6, Lexington CV-16, Essex CV-9) and the six remainder were light carriers (Bataan CVL-29, Belleau Wood CVL-24, Langley CVL-27, Cowpens CV-25, San Jacinto CVL-30, Pinceton CVL-23). They were escorted and protected by seven fast battleships and several cruisers and destroyers. Each of the fleet carriers could carry up to 100 aircraft, which included fighters and dive bombers, such as the F6F Hellcat and TBF Avenger respectively.

Nearly every Japanese aircraft was shot down in the great air battles of 19 June that became commonly known as “The Marianas Turkey Shoot”. As the Japanese Mobile Fleet fled in defeat on 20 June, the carriers launched long-range airstrikes that sank Japanese aircraft carrier Hiyō and so damaged two tankers that they were abandoned and scuttled. Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa’s own flag log for 20 June 1944 showed his surviving carrier air power as only 35 operational aircraft out of the 430 planes with which he had commenced the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa

Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa

Aircraft from Japanese carrier striking force attacked our sea forces covering the Saipan operation in the first stage of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The enemy attack continued for several hours. The Japanese aircraft were intercepted and a high percentage of them shot down. Enemy losses for the day: 402 aircraft, all but 17 of which were destroyed in the air; two carriers damaged. Our losses: 17 aircraft and superficial damage to two carriers and a battleship.

Aircraft from our carriers attacked the Japanese carrier striking force, in the second stage of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Japanese losses: 1 aircraft carrier, 1 light aircraft carrier, 2 destroyers, 1 tanker sunk; 1 aircraft carrier, 1 destroyer and 1 tanker possibly sunk; 1 aircraft carrier, 1 or 2 light aircraft carriers, 1 battle­ ship, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 1 destroyer and 3 tankers damaged. 26 Japanese aircraft were shot down. Our losses: 93 aircraft (many of the personnel were rescued from these planes, a large percentage of which had been forced to land on the water in the darkness that night).  From this date until 7 July Guam and Rota were attacked each day by at least one strike from our carrier forces. On that day continued heavy surface bombardment‑coordinated with the air strikes‑began.

According to the ship’s log for the USS Hornet (CV-12)’s bombers were credited with sinking the Japanese carrier Shokaku and damaging another carrier and cruiser.  Hornet fighters splashed 52 Japanese planes in the “Marianas Turkey Shoot.”  Other sources credit U.S.S. Cavalla (SS-244), a submarine with the sinking of the Shokaku.

shokakusink

The Sinking of Shokaku

There were eleven US aircraft carriers involved in the Battle of the Philippine Sea (or the Great Mariana Turkey Shoot). They belonged to Task Force 58, under Marc Andrew Mitscher. Five of them were fleet carriers (USS Yorktown CV-10, Hornet CV-12, Enterprise CV-6, Lexington CV-16, Essex CV-9) and the six remainder were light carriers (Bataan CVL-29, Belleau Wood CVL-24, Langley CVL-27, Cowpens CV-25, San Jacinto CVL-30, Pinceton CVL-23). They were escorted and protected by seven fast battleships and several cruisers and destroyers. Each of the fleet carriers could carry up to 100 aircraft, which included fighters and dive bombers, such as the F6F Hellcat and TBF Avenger respectively.

Murderers Row US Aircraft Carriers of Task Force 58

Murderers Row US Aircraft Carriers of Task Force 58

Japanese ships under attack during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Photo Credit: US Navy

Japanese ships under attack during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Photo Credit: US Navy

The ships of Task Force 58 at anchor at Ulithi Atoll in the Pacific — one of the most powerful naval fleets ever assembled in history. Photo Credit: US Navy

The ships of Task Force 58 at anchor at Ulithi Atoll in the Pacific — one of the most powerful naval fleets ever assembled in history. Photo Credit: US Navy

turkey-42

The USS Hornet’s crew stands at attention during an inspection by Task Force 58 Commander Vice Admiral Mark A. Mitscher after the Battle of Philipines Sea, a victory that left Japan without carrier air power (National Archives)

Clearly June was a successful month for the USS Hornet (CV-12) and the entire Task Force 58.  The Battle of the Philipine Sea is among the top battles of the war in the Pacific.  Labeled as a carrier vs carrier battle, the Battle of the Philippine Sea was crucial in abolishing the Imperial Japanese Navy’s ability to organize large-scale carrier action.  While Japan suffered a heavier loss – three aircraft carriers, up to 645 aircraft, and hundreds of pilots – the training of US pilots and crew was accredited with a lighter loss for the United States.

I found a film by History Channel International about the USS Hornet (CV-12) which features the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.  I am linking to the website but not to the actual film as it is a wmv file which needs to be downloaded.  I haven’t been able to find it already uploaded to youtube.

CV12-BThttp://navy.memorieshop.com/Alongside/Hornet/

I am so proud of my father for his service in World War II.  As a member of the crew of the USS Hornet (CV-12) during this and many other battles, he provided a great service to America.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

According to the ship’s log for the USS Hornet (CV-12) http://www.uss-hornet.org/history/cv12/, offensive operations were conducted between March and May 1944 with targets in Caroline and Marianas Islands including: Palau, Yap, Ulithi, Woleai, Wadke, Sawar, Sarmi, Hollandia, Truk, Satawan, Ponape, Moen, Eton and Dublon.

According to US Navy Muster Rolls for the USS Hornet (CV-12), my father Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is on board during this period.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

The war in the pacific was a very complex operation.  I will do my best to write it correctly.  Much of what I post will be directly from other records.  I am currently reading a book to get a better understanding.

Costello, John The Pacific War 1941-1945 (New York 1981)

Costello, John The Pacific War 1941-1945
(New York 1981)

Caroline Islands

Source: http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/C/a/Caroline_Islands.htm

Caroline Islands Copyright 2010 Kent G. Budge

Caroline Islands
Copyright 2010 Kent G. Budge

The Caroline Islands are a large archipelago located in the Western Pacific just north of the equator and extending some 1700 miles (2740 km) from the Palaus in the west to Kusaie in the east. To the north are the Marianas; the Gilbert and Marshall Islands are to the east; the Philippines are to the west; and New Guinea is to the south. There are actually 45 distinct groups of islands, including both atolls and high volcanic islands.  The latter include the Palaus and Truk, two important bases for the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1941, as well as Yap, Ponape, and Kusaie (Kosrae). Atolls include Ulithi and Woleai. There are a total of about 549 islands in the chain with a total land area of about 830 square miles (2150 km2). The large islands are heavily vegetated and almost all are surrounded by reefs.  The Carolines were originally seized from Germany by Japan in the First World War.  Japan received a League of Nations Class C mandate over the islands, and respected the terms of this mandate, which forbade the building of any military installations, until after Japan withdrew from the League in 1933.  Even then the pace of construction of military fortifications was slow.  But Japanese secretiveness about the Mandates promoted suspicions that heavy fortification had taken place.  The Carolines were largely bypassed by the Allied counteroffensive of 1944-1945. Truk was smashed by repeated raids in February-April 1944. Peleliu and Angaur in the Palaus were taken in September-October 1944 after a bloody struggle, and Ulithi was occupied without opposition on 22 September. The central and eastern Carolines were left to wither on the vine.

Marianas Islands

http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/M/a/Mariana_Islands.htm

Marianas Islands Copyright 2009 Kent G. Budge

Marianas Islands
Copyright 2009 Kent G. Budge

The Marianas Islands are an island arc located about 1400 miles (2250 km) south of Japan. There are 15 islands in the chain, which extends about 425 miles (684 km) from Farallon de Pajaros in the north to Guam in the south. Most are mountainous, with elevations up to 2585′ (788 meters).  The islands have a total area of 402 square miles (1041 km2), of which over half (225 square miles or 583 km2) is from Guam alone. The islands have relatively fertile soil and are covered with mixed scrub and grassland, with a few mangrove swamps. Beaches tend to be narrow and backed by coral cliffs and there are reefs off many of the shore lines.

In late 1941, the southernmost of the Marianas, Guam, had been a U.S. possession since the Spanish-American War of 1898. The remaining islands belonged to Japan, which had seized them from Germany in October 1914, during the First World War, and developed them for sugar production under the auspices of the South Seas Development Company. By the time war broke out in the Pacific, the Japanese population of the islands outnumbered the indigenous population (Chamorros) by two to one.

Rota, just north of Guam, produced enough sugar to support two refineries and a distillery and had a population of 764 Chamorros and 4800 Japanese and Koreans. A small airstrip was constructed on the north part of the island during the war. Other important islands include Saipan and Tinian.

The naval disarmament treaties specified that these islands were not to be fortified, but with the lapse of the treaties in the early 1930’s Japan proceeded to build large airfields on Saipan, within easy range of Guam. The United States neglected the building of fortifications on Guam, which was considered too exposed to be held in the event of war. Japanese troops landed on Guam just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and easily conquered the island.

The Marianas were identified as an important objective in prewar planning (Plan ORANGE), but it was not until August 1943, at the QUADRANT conference, that a formal decision was made to invade the Marianas following the seizure of the Palaus. In December 1943, at the SEXTANT conference, the U.S. Army Air Forces forcefully argued for an early invasion of the islands so that they could be used as bases for the strategic bombing of Japan by B-29 Superfortresses. Seizure of the Marianas would also open a number of options to the Allies, since bases here would be within range of Palau, the Philippines, Formosa, or the Bonins. Invasion of the Marianas was given priority over the Palaus. However, the target date of 15 June 1944 was not set until 12 March 1944, and Nimitz assigned FORAGER to 5 Fleet (Spruance) on 28 March.

American carriers struck the Marianas repeatedly, beginning on 23 February 1944. This was the first good look at the Marianas in over two years, and the raiding aircraft brought back a wealth of photographic intelligence. The raid also destroyed 168 Japanese aircraft and sank 45,000 tons of shipping. Land-base aircraft of 5, 7, and 13 Air Forces, mostly heavy bombers conducting night raids, bombarded Japanese bases in the Carolines throughout March to ensure there would be no Japanese interference with FORAGER from the south. Starting on 18 April, photo reconnaissance aircraft (B-24s) from VD-1, VD-3, and VMD-254 from Guadalcanal began staging through Eniwetok to map the Marianas. These were joined by VD-4 based on Eniwetok itself.  Since Operation FORAGER began in June 1944, it will more than likely be part of one of my future blog postings.

_________________________________

Source: CINCPAC PRESS RELEASE NO. 707

At this link, the entire chronological listing of events of the war in the pacific for 1944 can be read.  For my posting I am trying to indentify the combat events that the USS Hornet CV-12 was or more than likely was involved.

NOTE:  References to 5th Fleet are referring to the forces that were part of Admiral Raymond Spruance’s Fifth Fleet, it bore the designation Task Force (TF) 58.  As written in my previous post, the USS Hornet (CV-12) became part of Task Force 58 upon arrival in Pearl Harbor on March 4, 1944.

29‑31 March 1944

Admiral Raymond A. Spruance

Admiral Raymond A. Spruance

In the deepest penetration yet made of enemy defenses, carrier forces under tactical command of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN, heavily attacked the Palau Islands with additional strikes at Yap, MIMI and Woleai in the western Carolines. The approaching force was detected, and many enemy ships, including heavy units, fled from Palau anchorages. However, on 20‑30 March, 29 Japanese ships were sunk at Palau: 3 destroyers; 2 large, 6 medium and 9 small freighters: 3 large, 1 medium and 1 small tanker; and 4 smaller vessels. 4 18 other vessels were severely damaged, some of them fired or beached, 114 Jap aircraft were shot down; 46 destroyed on the ground. Yap and Ulithi were hit on the 30th. At Yap, 1 small craft was sunk; at Ulithi, 1 sunk, 1 damaged. At Woleai on the 31st, 7 aircraft were destroyed on the ground, 3 barges destroyed. Installations at all four locations suffered heavy damage. Our losses were 25 aircraft lost in combat.

Strike photograph of raid against Palau taken by planes from the carrier Hornet (CV 12), 30 March 1944

Strike photograph of raid against Palau taken by planes from the carrier Hornet (CV 12), 30 March 1944

Strike photograph of raid against Palau taken by planes from the carrier Hornet (CV 12), 31 March 1944

Strike photograph of raid against Palau taken by planes from the carrier Hornet (CV 12), 31 March 1944

20‑23 April 1944

Forces of the 5th Fleet provided air and surface support for landings of Southwest Pacific forces at Aitape and Hollandia on the northern coast of New Guinea. 5th Fleet carrier aircraft bombed and strafed Japanese airfields at Wakde, Sawar and in the Hollandia area, 5th Fleet cruisers and destroyers bombarded Japanese airfields at Wakde and Sawar at night. Ground Installations, fuel and ammunition dumps were destroyed in these strikes. It is estimated that 5th Fleet aircraft whose operations were coordinated with those of the Southwest Pacific Air Forces‑destroyed 88 Japanese aircraft on the ground, 34 in the air; and 1 small cargo vessel and 6 small craft. 5th Fleet losses: 10 aircraft in combat.

An F6F-3 Hellcat of VF-2 is in flight. The squadron is assigned to USS Hornet (CV-12) April 1944

An F6F-3 Hellcat of VF-2 is in flight. The squadron is assigned to USS Hornet (CV-12) April 1944

21 April 1944

Under cover furnished by ships of the 5th and 7th Fleets, and shore‑based aircraft of the Southwest Pacific forces, troops under command of General MacArthur went ashore at Humboldt Bay and Tanahmerah Bay to secure Hollandia, and also at Aitape. Opposition was light. Beachheads were quickly secured and by the 28th, all airfields and airdromes at both areas were in hand.  This move effectively isolated at least 60,000 Japs of the Japanese 18th Army between Aitape and Madang, and made it possible to blockade them as enemy troops in the Solomons, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Marshalls were being blockaded.  In this operation the 5th Fleet units were under tactical command of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, USN, and the 7th Fleet units were under Rear Admiral D. E. Barbey, USN.

Admiral Marc Mitscher

Admiral Marc Mitscher

An American landing craft, loaded with troops, approaches the beach at Hollandia. In the background shell bursts from the preliminary bombardment. April 22, 1944

An American landing craft, loaded with troops, approaches the beach at Hollandia. In the background shell bursts from the preliminary bombardment. April 22, 1944

29‑30 April 1944

Returning from the Hollandia operation, 5th Fleet units under Vice Admiral Mitscher attacked Truk. Carrier aircraft heavily bombed and strafed ground installations, doing extensive damage. Other enemy losses 63 aircraft shot down, 60 destroyed on the ground; 4 small craft sunk. We lost 27 aircraft.

VF-2 pilots manning their F6F-3 Hellcats for a raid against Truk, May 1944.

VF-2 pilots manning their F6F-3 Hellcats for a raid against Truk, May 1944.

 

From the War Diary from the website Fold3:

Operations in the Western Carolina Islands.  As the ship began the return trip to Majuro, strikes were sent against Woleai the following day.  Little activity was found and the strikes were terminated earlier than planned.  The Task Group returned to Majuro for three days for a brief rest and replenishment period.  The Hornet then sailed with the Fleet to support the Southwest Pacific forces in their occupation of Hollandia on the Northwesterly coast of New Guinea.  The Task Group targets were the airfields at Wadke and Sawar and the Supply Depot at Sarmi.  Again enemy air opposition was not severe, but the fields, buildings and planes on the ground were severely damaged.  The returning three days were spent in strikes Truk, Satawan and Ponape.  After two days of continuous strikes, in which the Hornet’s group had also hit the Islands of Moen, Eton, and Dublon, a combination strike and bombardment operation was conducted against Ponape.

1 May 1944

Battleships of the 5th Fleet, supported by carrier aircraft, bombarded Ponape in the Carolines. Numerous buildings in Ponape town, the seaplane base, and the wharf area were destroyed. (Ponape and other Japanese bases in the Carolines had suffered increasingly heavy shore‑based air attacks during the months of March and April. Such attacks were further stepped up during May).

An F6F-3 Hellcat of VF-2 warming up on the flight deck of the USS Hornet (CV-12) May 1944

An F6F-3 Hellcat of VF-2 warming up on the flight deck of the USS Hornet (CV-12) May 1944

From the War Diary from the website Fold3:

A month of rest and relaxation.  A strike was launched on 1 May to gain control of the air and to stack airfields and gun positions at Ponape  prior to bombardment by the battle lines.  On the way from Ponape to Kwajalein, time was found for King Neptune to hold his court and initiate the vast number of Pollywogs on board, who had already crossed the Equator several times with impunity. (See my previous post for the Crossing the Equator event in March 1944).

The ship returned to Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, for five days and then proceeded to Majuro.  Here the ship received stores and conducted up keep and minor repairs.

Captain W. D. Sample, U.S.N., relieved Captain M.R. Browning, U.S.N. as Commanding Officer of the Hornet on 29 May , at 1038 (Details below).

29 May 1944

The USS Hornet (CV-12) arrived in port Majuro for Change of Command.

Good bow shot of Hornet in original form tied up at Majuro, May 29, 1944. National Archives photo # 80-G-242616.

Good bow shot of Hornet in original form tied up at Majuro, May 29, 1944. National Archives photo # 80-G-242616.

In my previous post where I introduced and wrote about the naval career of the ship’s first captain, Miles Browning, I told of an incident in the spring of 1944 that changed his career.  During a nighttime showing of a film on Hornet’s hangar deck, someone discharged a CO2 canister and triggered a stampede. In the chaos, two sailors fell overboard; one of them drowned. A board of investigation was ordered, which criticized Browning’s command. The ensuing ruin of his career, “one of the great wastes to the American prosecution of the war,” resulted, ironically, from nothing having to do with combat. Browning was removed from command of Hornet in May 1944 and reassigned to the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he taught carrier battle tactics during the final months of the war. Halsey was given command of the carrier-oriented Third Fleet during 1944-1945, but with his old chief of staff tossed onto the beach, he made grave mistakes that Browning might well have been able to help prevent.

I will write about the next captain in my next post.