November 1942 (4)

USS New Orleans nears Tulagi with her bow missing

USS New Orleans nears Tulagi with her bow missing

The Battle of Tassafaronga, sometimes referred to as the Fourth Battle of Savo Island or, in Japanese sources, as the Battle of Lunga Point (ルンガ沖夜戦?), was a nighttime naval battle that took place on November 30, 1942 between United States (US) Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy warships during the Guadalcanal campaign. The battle took place in Ironbottom Sound near the Tassafaronga area on Guadalcanal.

30 November – at 23:14 hours, operators on the USS Fletcher made radar contact with the enemy ship IJN Takanami about 7,000 yards away.  Cmdr, William Cole, of RAdm. Carleton Wright’s destroyer group, radioed for permission to fire.  Four minutes passed before Wright responded with the OK to fire; by then the enemy had escaped to a marginal position, passing the US ships abeam.  Wright also ordered his own cruisers to begin firing.

The Takanami was the closest Japanese vessel to Wright’s column and received most of the American gunfire as she released her full load of 8 torpedoes.  But she had been hit almost immediately, caught fire and within 4 minutes, was incapacitated.  So much attention was given to her, that the rest of Tanaka’s ships were increasing their speed, maneuvering and getting into position to avenge the US attack.

Adm. Tanaka's flagship, IJN Naganami

Adm. Tanaka’s flagship, IJN Naganami

Tanaka’s flagship, Naganami, reversed course to starboard, opened fire and set out a smoke screen as the Kawakaze and Suzukaze reversed course.  At 23:23, Suzukaze fired 8 torpedoes in the direction of Wright’s gun flashes, followed shortly after by the 2 other IJN vessels.

Four minutes later, 2 torpedoes slammed into the USS Minneapolis.  One warhead exploded the aviation fuel storage tanks and the other knocked out 3 of the ship’s 4 firerooms.  The bow forward of turret-one folded down at a 70-degree angle and the ship lost power and steering control and 37 men were KIA.

appendix49

Less than a minute later, a torpedo hit the New Orleans and exploded the forward ammunition magazines and gasoline storage.  The blast severed the ship’s entire bow forward of turret two.  She was forced to reverse course; 183 men were KIA.  Pensacola took a torpedo abreast of the mainmast and flaming oil spread across the main deck and into the interior, killing 125 men and sitting dead in the water.  The last cruiser, Northampton, at 23:48 was hit by 2 of Kawakaze’s torpedoes.  The vessel listed 10 degrees and caught fire; 50 men were KIA.

USS Minneapolis damage

USS Minneapolis damage

At 23:44, Tanaka ordered his ships to retire from the battle area and cancel rescue operations at the Takanami, due to the American ships proximity.  The surviving crew abandoned ship, but many were killed in the water when the ship exploded.  The Japanese destroyer division commander, Toshio Shimizu and the vessel’s captain, Masami Ogura were two of them.  Out of 244, only 48 of her crew reached Guadalcanal and 19 were captured.

PT boat carries survivors of the Northampton to Tulagi - New Orleans in the background

PT boat carries survivors of the Northampton to Tulagi – New Orleans in the background

USS Fletcher and Drayton rescued 773 of the Northampton crew.  The Minneapolis, New Orleans and Pensacola returned to friendly ports for extensive repairs.  The New Orleans returned to action in August, Minneapolis in September and Pensacola in October 1943.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Our old buddy - SadSack!!

Our old buddy – SadSack!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Matthew Ammerman – Noblesville, IN; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt.

Doug Baker – AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, PTO, 86 Squadron, F/O, Mustang pilot

Melvin Belson – Hazel Park, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII 2nd Air Div.burialatseablog1

Harry DiCicco – FL; US Army, 169th Artillery/43rd Infantry Div.

Fleming Haley Jr. – WPalm Bch., FL; US Navy, Dental Corps, Lt.

Faith Hinkley – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, Iraq, Sgt.

Frank King – Brookhaven, NZ; WWII serv. # 490113, Pvt.

George McArthur – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force

John Robison – Boise, ID; US Navy, WWII, ETO, and Korea

Robert Robinson – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Chester Shaffer – Salem, OR; US Army Air Corps, 187th RCT/11th Airborne Div.

Walter Sisung – Belle Chasse, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQS/457 Artillery Reg.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 1, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 54 Comments.

  1. Great read as usual gp, don’t think we really appreciate the horrors of Naval warfare these days, wars are primarily land based now.
    The thought that on land there is an escape route, on the high seas you are open to the mercy of the Gods.

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  2. Wow, that first picture gave me chills. I cannot believe it was still afloat! I also love the way you end your blogs with a bit of humor and then honoring the fallen. Thanks again for your hard work and dedication.

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  3. Just finished reading Good Bye Darkness: a Memoir of the Pacific War by William Manchester. Gave me a much better understanding of that conflict, which is rather murky in most Americans’ common knowledge of history. Highly recommended.

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  4. It took four minutes? Here we are, with a firing solution and all turret lights showing green … and we have to wait four minutes?
    Oh.
    Of course.
    The coffee was hot …

    (In the meantime, love those Sack cartoons~!)

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    • Wright felt the enemy wasn’t close enough for them to fire on effectively, but as you can see – those 4 minutes gave the Japanese time to get even farther away. I hope he enjoyed that cup of joe!! Thanks, Argus!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I know these men were defending our country and hoping for world peace, but it seems a terrible way to lose your life. When I saw the picture of the Tulagi, all I could think of was what those men must be thinking as they stood there seeing their ship being torn apart. No matter which side they were on, it would be a terrible feeling. It gives me chills.

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    • War does horrible things all the way around, Bev, and I dearly hope that by learning their history, people will one day learn to end battles such as these. Then we will have to worry about our exploding population and how to feed and house them, especially since global warming will reduce the amount of dry land. What’s the answer?

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  6. Great picture of the USS New Orleans. Amazing that it is still afloat.

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    • I had to use that picture because I thought the same!! We can give the shipbuilders credit for their expertise in putting it together so well! Thanks for reading this post, Ken!

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  7. When you think about the battle damage by its basics, there is essentially a hole in a ship – perhaps plural. Not a very good situation at all if you were aboard her. If I had survived the initial blast, I’d be scared s_itless knowing that… Plus the fires.

    But like in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, these ships not only stayed afloat, they were repaired. Incredible… and if I may make an assumption, the Japanese Type 93 Long Lance torpedo was likely the best in that era being not only reliable but packing a devastating wallop. Amazing more young men weren’t killed.

    Nice writeup once again.

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    • As far as I can tell the Japanese torpedoes were more effective. In reading the complete story of this battle, our torpedoes still were not up to snuff. A lot of the damage we produced on enemy ships were the subsequent fires and explosions that resulted from WHERE they hit, not by how well the torpedo worked.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I am continually amazed by the precision of information about events that must felt like chaos at the time, especially when so many of the personnel involved, never mind the paperwork, didn’t survive.

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    • As much data is preserved as possible by the company historians and assigned observers – it doesn’t always survive or become declassified, but a lot. At this point, I’m certain you noticed, that data from the CBI appears scarce [at least for me]. Do you have the time or resources to fill us in, Hilary?

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  9. Amazing history. May it never happen again.

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    • If a world war were to ever happen again, I do believe it would be over rather quickly and planet Earth would have to start from scratch again. WWIII (IMO) would be the definite end to every story.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. How tragic that so many lives were lost. They were so brave. Excellent, Everett!

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  11. I never knew any specifics about Guadalcanal and just recently learned of some of them. Great additional info and incredible photos.

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  12. Lots of intense fighting going on there.

    The comic is somewhat reminiscent of Pixar’s Burn-e cartoon.

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  13. (I missed the typos completely) Another interesting post, thank you. When you add up the deaths in this account, it certainly brings home the cost of war. Fifty people killed in a supermarket fire and we’d be talking about it for months. War soon makes such tragedies not actually acceptable, but perhaps, nothing particularly out of the ordinary

    Liked by 1 person

    • The typos were edited, so you didn’t miss them being as they were no longer there. I was quick on the draw – 🙄 You’re right about the sailors KIA. In war the numbers are tallied and people tend to forget that they represent actual persons. [one reason I put in the eyewitness stories, to bring it back into perspective.]

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  14. Thanks for bringing this one to our attention. It sounds horrific.

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  15. I know that when a battleship has its bow blown off many sailor die and the ship nearly sinks. But when a sailor loses the laces in his boots, all hell breaks loose. Another fantastic post of sadness, horror and humour.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. More terrible fighting and tragic loss of life during fierce naval engagements that I had never heard of. You do good service by bringing us these ‘different’ battles GP, and keep the spirit of those sailors from both sides alive today.
    Best wishes from England. Pete.

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  17. Pierre Lagacé

    Typos

    the the vessel’s

    Out od 244

    The Japanese destroyer division commander, Toshio Shimizu and the the vessel’s captain, Masami Ogura were two of them. Out od 244, only 48 of her crew reached Guadalcanal and 19 were captured.

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  18. Father Paul Lemmen

    Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

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  19. Are sailors the bravest of all?

    Like

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