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Smitty’s Letter XIV – “On the Move Again”

 

Letter XIV                                    “On the Move” (again)                        undated due to censorship

Dear Mom,  We have been at sea now for three days heading toward someplace the Land and the great white father in Washington only knows.

As I sit here writing this, I just can’t help but feel like a very small insignificant part of something so vast that the mind can’t in any way begin to comprehend what it is all about.  Here I am on a ship heading out to something, someplace, and it was all planned probably months ago, miles and miles away from anywheres near here.  Suddenly it all takes form.  Transports and other ships stream into the harbor and just as quickly and quietly we are made loose and moving out.  It all happens so fast and so smoothly that you can’t help but admire it all.

Of course, as serious as it all is, the army just can’t help but be the cause of many amusing incidents.  When we first landed in New Guinea we got lost looking for our camp and coming down to the boats, the trucks again got lost and so we had to travel up and down the beach until finally, instead of us finding the boats — the boats found us.  Climbing up the gangplank with our packs and duffel bags always provide an amusing incident or two, but at the time seem pretty damn dangerous.

On board ship, we are once again packed in like sardines down in the hold.  Once shown our bunk, we proceed at once to get rid of our equipment and dash up on deck to pick out some spot where we can spend the night,  It isn’t long after this that the details are handed out — and so — what could have been a very pleasant voyage soon turns out to be anything else but.  I was lucky in that I was handed a detail that only worked for an hour each day, but the poor guys that hit the broom detail were at it all day long.  All we could hear, all day long, over the speaker system was: “Army broom detail, moping and brooms, clean sweep down forward aft, all decks.”  They kept it up all the time until soon one of the fellas made up a little ditty about it and sang it every time we saw a broom coming down the deck.

The food was excellent and really worth talking about.  On the first trip coming over from the states, we dreaded the thought of eating, but on this ship, it was more than a welcome thought.  Generally, when you go to a movie there are news reel pictures of convoys of ships and the men aboard.  They always try to show you a few playing cards or joking and say that this is how the boys relieve the tension they are under.  Well, I don’t know about the seriousness of the situation was anything like what the news reels portray.

Of course, it was a strange sight to see the boys at night line up at the side scanning the sky and distant horizon.  This was generally though at night and early dawn.  What we expected to see, I don’t know and what our reaction would be, if we did see something — I hesitate to predict.  It won’t be long after this letter is written that we will land or at least sight our destination, so wishing  to be wide-awake when we do, I’ll close this letter now and hit the hay hoping I sleep an uninterrupted sleep.

Till next time, “Good night and pleasant dreams.”                          Love, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – For those of you who will be in the Fredricksburg, Texas area…..

http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joan Abery – Darley Dale, ENG; RAF, WWII

Emil Adams – brn: Slovakia/US; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Annapolis graduate

David Altop – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio operator

George E. Bria (101) – brn: Rome, ITAL/Waterbury, CT; AP war correspondent, ETO

Otis ‘Roger’ Humphrey – Montpelier, IN; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Johnson – Wichita, KA; US Navy, WWII

Lucien Legault – Windsor, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

John Mumford – St. Petersburg, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 318/325/15th Air Force, KIA

Marion “Flee” Pettygrove – CA; USMC Women’s Corps, WWII

James Summitt – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, radioman

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Liberty Belle’s Last Flight

A survival story for heroes in October 1944.

IHRA

Balikpapan. A Japanese stronghold in the earlier part of the Pacific war. At the time, it was heavily defended by some of Japan’s best pilots, and the Allies hoped to change that soon. General George C. Kenney in particular felt that if Fifth Air Force was to destroy the oil refineries on the island, it would be a huge setback in Japan’s attempt to hold onto its position in the southwest Pacific. Over the summer, Kenney directed the 380th Bomb Group to bomb several refineries in the area, with little success, though they were a factor in some fuel shortages. By September, he was eager to send his forces back to Balikpapan. There were a few missions flown by the Thirteenth Air Force and the 90th Bomb Group, however, approximately 40% of the planes flown on these mission were either lost or too damaged to be put back in service…

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Flying The Hump

To honor the men who flew to support the men on the ground….

The Java Gold's Blog

The first massive airlift in history

One of the chapters in ‘The Java Gold’  is dedicated to ‘…flying the Hump…’as the ‘air bridge’ into China across the Himalayas soon became known. ‘It was the first massive airlift in history.

image The Himalayas as seen after take off from a field in Assam

‘The Hump’  started early in 1942, initially with just a handful of aircrew and airplanes. Most of these planes were hastily ‘converted’ civilian DC-3’s that had been ferried across the Atlantic, Africa and India by a Pan American subsidiary. Often the former civilian owner’s logo and lettering couldstill be seen shining through the hastily applied olive drab army paint.
The US 10th Air Force, ATC and CNAC attempted to carry 10.000 tons of cargo each month into the beleaguered Kunming area that was isolated after the loss of the Burma Road.

image Chabua airfield in 1944, with a view of…

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October 1944 (6)

While the Imperial Navy was floundering in their attempts to halt the persistent invasion of Leyte, Gen. Yamashita was in his headquarters at Fort McKinley on Luzon.  He was receiving very little information from his own people and upon hearing of the US landing, he was heard to say, “Very interesting.  But where is Leyte?”  [The Japanese general had only just been transferred from Manchuria.]

Yamashita did not feel that the Japanese all-out standing defense should be on Leyte and he refused to supply more troops to the island.  But he was overruled.  Gen. Terauchi, knowing that the island’s occupation by the Americans would divide their bases, so reinforcements would be sent in.

MacArthur inspecting the beach

21 October – Most of the Japanese beach defenses had been shattered by bombing and strafing and a majority of the 1st Battalion/16th Division had been wiped out.  Parts of Tacloban had been liberated by the US troops and Gen. Makino was now forced to split the remainder of his 16th Div. in half, North and South Defense Forces.

As the ground forces continued fighting, Japanese aircraft from all other bases in the Philippines arrived on Luzon to support the plans for a counteroffensive.

25 October – Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, in charge of defending the Central Philippines, still was receiving inferior or misleading intelligence and remained confident of Japanese victory because:  He still expected support from the Navy; he had glowing reports concerning Formosa; he was told that ALL US carriers had been sunk and no American aircraft were flying over his headquarters on Cebu.  Suzuki told his Chief of Staff, Gen. Tomochika, “…we are about to step on the center of the stage.  There is no greater honor or privilege.”

Two Japanese units were on en-route to Luzon:  the Japanese 1st Division [the Gem Division] to land at Ormoc on the west coast and the 26th Division at Carigara in the north.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The assault continued after a rapid consolidation of the first few days  objectives.  Numerous enemy counterattacks were beaten off in all areas during the next few days as advancing forces reported increased resistance on every front.  By the end of the third day, over 2,000 Japanese had been reported killed…

“On 24 October, elements of the XCorps began a drive up the Leyte side of San Juanico Strait, while farther south other units of the Corps pushed westward.  At the same time, the XXIV Corps directed attacks northward and westward.  The 96th Div., moving inland from Dulag, met heavy opposition from fortified positions on Catmon Hill, a terrain feature dominating the division’s zone of action and giving protection to enemy mortars bobbing shells toward the assault shipping in Leyte Gulf.  Catmon Hill was initially by-passed, then neutralized by naval guns and field artillery and finally cleared of the enemy by 31 October.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

“try to say something funny, Joe”

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Jack Agnew – Hamilton, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Leonard Beford – Falmouth, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Herbert Creacey – Roseburg, OR; US Navy, WWII

Catherine Ewell – Zachary, LA; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Herbert Good – Bound Brook, NJ; US Army, WWII

Frank Hill –  Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII

Ralph Konze – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt.Colonel (Ret.)

Caldon Norman – Mineapolis, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

John S. Powell Jr. – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, Korea, Captain

Gerald Shepler – Liberty, IN; US Army, Korea, K/3/187th Airborne RCT, KIA

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October 1944 (5)

 

20 October – the X and XXIV Corps of the 6th Army, under General Krueger, made their amphibious landing on a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of coastline between Dulag and Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte.

At o945, the 1st Cavalry went ashore on White Beach, the 24th Infantry Division went on their left at Red Beach and the 96th Infantry Division landed further south on Orange and Blue Beaches.  They all moved inland for about a mile, hitting stiffer resistance as they went.

The 7th Infantry Division at Violet and Yellow Beaches had the lightest opposition, but Dulag was taken by the following day.  MacArthur described the view he witnessed from the flag bridge of the USS Nashville:

Gen. MacArthur surveys the beachhead ay Leyte.

Landings are explosive once the shooting begins and now thousands of guns were throwing their shells with a roar that was incessant and deafening.  Rocker vapor trails criss-crossed the sky and black, ugly ominous pillars of smoke began to rise.  High overhead, swarms of airplanes darted into the maelstrom.  And across what would have ordinarily been a glinting, untroubled blue sea, the black dots of the landing craft churned towards the beaches.

From my vantage point, I had a clear view of everything that took place.  Troops were going ashore at Red Beach near Palo, at San Jose on White Beach and at the southern tip of Leyte on tiny Pansom Island…

MacArthur became impatient and ordered a landing craft to carry him and President Osmeña to Red Beach for a dramatically staged arrival back to the Philippines.  But the boatload of VIP’s and press were caught in a traffic jam of vessels making an effort to the same makeshift pier.  The harassed beachmaster directed the VIP’s away and said, “Let ’em walk!” This more and likely is the reason for his surly expression in the famous photograph, despite him trying later to create a better one.

Mac went into the 24th’s area and sat on a log with Osmeña and a Signal Officer gave the general a microphone.  The “Voice of Freedom” was back on the air and Mac gave his speech, “People of the Philippines, I have returned…”  His aides noticed that the speech left him shaken and visibly moved.

By evening, a 17-mile beachfront was taken with only light casualties, but a serious enemy counter-attack came with Japanese torpedoes bombers that scored a hit on the USS Honolulu.  Approximately 22,000 enemy troops were dug into their positions in the hills behind Tacloban.

The X Corps had unfavorable conditions in terrain and sporadic mortar and artillery fire which caused them to take 5 days to complete unloading.  This however did not prevent them from the establishment of their beachhead.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The enemy’s anticipation of attack in Mindanao caused him to be caught unawares in Leyte and the beachheads of the Tacloban area…  The naval forces consisted of the 7th US Fleet, the Australian Squadron and supporting elements of the 3rd US Fleet.  Air support was given by naval carrier forces, the Far East Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.  The enemy’s forces include the 14th Army Group under Field Marshall Count Terauchi, of which 7 divisions have been identified – 16th, 26th, 30th, 100th, 102nd, 103rd and the 105th.”

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Military Humor – 

“Cause no one’s going to notice a branch covered moving tank…”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Harry Adams Sr. – New Cumberland, PA; US Army, WWII

Robert Clark – Westmoreland, NH; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

Cleo Douglas – Berwyn, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Doris Graham – Blanchard, MI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, Unit 32 nurse

Virgile Green – Paron, AK; US Army, WWII, PTO

Raymond McCormick – E.Greenwich, RI; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin, Alabama & South Dakota

Naomi Oliver – Wanganui, NZ; Women’s Nurse Corps # 816540, WWII

George Psiropoulos – Fon du Lac, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Infantry Div., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Frank Southern – Dipton, UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 272 Squadron navigator, POW

Lester Tenney – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, tank commander, Bataan POW

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Japanese View from the IJN Musashi

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

Yamato and Musashi (artist unknown)

This was originally published in “Sensō: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War”, edited by Frank Gibney.  Story by: Satō Kiichi, from Yokosuka, Japan.

The Last of Battleship Musashi

“Third attack,” came the warning.  The damage from the second attack had been terrible.  Lying on the deck were several wounded men receiving emergency treatment.  I was taking a brief break.  My two subordinates were on their way to the infirmary.  Just at that moment, a torpedo approached with a sinister hissing sound.  Shouting “Go on up!” I rushed to the upper deck.  I couldn’t see the two who had gone to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

IJN Musashi (artist unknown)

I had to get those two.  I looked down the hatch.  There was already close to a meter of water flooding the ship.  The infirmary was left isolated.  Neither my voice nor my concern could reach that far.  Was it too late?  My feeling of grief ran ahead of me.  Then I recalled that the exhaust vent ran through the pharmacy.  I frantically threw a rope from the deck down into the exhaust pipe.  But there was no response.  Still I continued to call out desperately.

I regained a bit of my composure.  I was crouching in the safety zone under the main gun turret.  The battle gained in ferocity.  I wondered what had happened to my two men.  To think that a single hatch would be the difference between life and death.  We had spent our days together as crew members on the battleship Musashi.  Looking back, I still agonize about their going to the infirmary.

IJN Musashi

IJN Musashi

After the fourth and fifth concentrated air attacks, the Musashi, once called unsinkable, finally sank into the Sibuyan Sea.  Its bow tilted.  Columns of water and flames spewed up into the sky.  I heard voices of my comrades singing “Umi Yukaba” [“Across the Sea”]* and other war songs amid the waves.  Even now I see clearly onto my eyelids the faces of my two subordinates.  I hear my war buddies singing as their heads bob in the waves.

* “Across the Sea” was the anthem of the Japanese Navy.  The verse went:

Across the sea, water-drenched corpses;

Across the mountains, grass-covered corpses.

We shall die by the side of our lord,

We shall not look back.

Two years ago….

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Abe – Appleton, WI; US Navy, WWII

Kenneth Bourke – AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Warramunga

Robert Futoran – Pompano, FL; US Navy, WWII, Lt., USS Black

Leslie Gibson – Dallas, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO,, LST-1040

Kenneth Ketron – Elsmere, KY; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Dallas Milton – Venice, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert Nelson Sr. – New London, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Frank Panzzie – East Meadow, NY; US Army, WWII

Teddy Sheean – Tasmania, AUS; RA Navy, WWII, HMAS Armidale, KIA

Lawrence Snowden – Charlottesville, VA; USMC, WWIII, Korea & Vietnam, LtGeneral (Ret.)

Click on images to enlarge.

Personal Note – My apologies for a late-in-the-day post and delayed viewing of your sites as I have been under the weather.

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Japanese View of the Leyte Naval Battle

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The following was published in “Senso: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War.”

Don’t Shoot at a Sinking Enemy

As a 25-year old seaman about a destroyer, I participated in the sea battle off Leyte.  In the midst of the battle, our destroyer was pursuing a fleeing aircraft carrier through squalls and curtains of smoke.  Suddenly a single enemy destroyer headed directly for us.  Attacked by the concentrated fire from our destroyer squadron, it rapidly went up in flames.  As we neared the enemy ship to see its last moment, it listed to one side, with flames rising everywhere.  It was about to sink.  Men were floating on the water’s surface or sinking beneath it, while half-naked crew members jammed themselves into lifeboats and rowed away, escaping.

We were close enough to see their unkempt beards and the tattoos on their arms.  One of our machine-gunners impulsively pulled his trigger.  He must have been overflowing with feelings of animosity toward the enemy.  But he was checked by a loud voice from the bridge saying, “Don’t shoot at escaping men!  Stop shooting, stop!”  So he inflicted no injury on the enemy.

I read an article written after the War’s end that the captain, who survived*, (a descendant of the Cherokee tribe) had tears in his eyes when he recalled the scene. “A Japanese destroyer that passed by did not shoot.  What is more, I cannot forget the officers on the Gigantic warship who saluted us in seeming condolence for the loss of our ship.”  What flashed through my mind was the story of Commodore Uemura, who rescued the crew of the sinking Yurik during the Russo-Japanese War.  Seppū was the name of his destroyer – known as the luckiest warship in the world.

This was written by Okuno Tadashi, who became a business owner in Ōmuta, Japan after the war.

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Edward E. Evans

Edward E. Evans

Commander Ernest Edwin Evans was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma on August 13, 1908.  He was three quarters Cherokee Indian.

During the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944 Commander Evans and the USS Johnston were assigned to Task Unit 77.4.3 AKA Taffy III with 2 other destroyers (Hoel and Heermann), 4 destroyer escorts (Butler, Dennis, Raymond, Roberts) and 6  escort carries (Fanshaw Bay, Saint Lo, Kalinin Bay, White Plains, Kitkun Bay, Gambier Bay).  Here, at the Battle Off Samar, they fought the vastly superior Imperial Japanese Navy Centre Force which consisted of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers.

At 9:45 AM Commander Evans ordered his crew to abandon ship.  The USS Johnston sank at 10:10 AM, receiving a hand salute from the skipper of a Japanese destroyer.

* The article Mr. Tadashi read must have been written by another crew member, as Cmdr. Evans was seen abandoning ship, but was never found.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal note – 

I would appreciate hearing if you are interested in more stories from the Japanese side of the war.  I refrained from adding a second story here from a crew member of the Musashi to keep the post at a decent size.

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Military Humor – from the Readers Digest ‘Humor in Uniform –

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“I’m the commander of data security.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Allis – Clearwater, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lou Bucelli Sr. – Bridgeport, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Scoter

George Clifford-Marsh – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 629433, WWII, Cpl.th-jpg1

James Fuehrmeyer – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas Gibson – Nashville, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Stuart Hansen Jr. – Kettering, OH; US Army, Vietnam

Robert Jones – Syracuse, NY; US Navy, WWII

William ‘Bud’ Liebenow – Fredericksburg, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO & ETO. Captain, PT-199

Howard Porter – Kalamazoo, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, medic

Joseph Wapner – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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October 1944 (4)

USS Samuel B. Roberts

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)

Halsey was battling Ozawa’s Decoy Force at Cape Engaño where the last surviving Japanese ship from the Pearl Harbor attacks, IJN Zuikaku was ablaze and abandoned.  The Chitose was dead in the water.  Commander Hathaway’s USS Heerman was badly damaged, along with the Hoel, Johnston and Samuel B. Roberts.

IJN Chikuma

IJN Chikuma

When Halsey retreated south, the remaining ships had planes out that proceeded to hit the IJN Chikuma and Chokai before they too retreated.  The Zuikaku sank and hour later the Zuiha succumbed, followed by the Chiyoda.

In less than 7 hours ____

At 0750, escort carrier GAMBIER BAY, dead in water, is continually hit by 8-inch shells, set afire and floods.

IJN Chokai

IJN Chokai

At 0805, CruDiv 4’s CHOKAI, hit and set afire by numerous bombs from KITKUN BAY’s aircraft, goes dead in the water. At 0807, GAMBIER BAY, capsizes and sinks.

At 0814, Vice Admiral Kurita orders all ships to assemble and head north. At 0850, CruDiv 7’s CHIKUMA and TONE, followed by CruDiv 5’s HAGURO and CHOKAI, pursue “Taffy Three’s” escort carriers. At 0853, CHIKUMA is attacked by four TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers from “Taffy Two”. She is hit in stern port quarter by a MK-13 aircraft torpedo that severs her stern and disables her port screw and rudder.

At 0907, CHIKUMA reports to YAMATO that she has been torpedoed and is unnnavigable. Then at 0920, CHIKUMA reports that she has lost a propeller, is making 18 knots, but is unsteerable. At 0930, CHIKUMA reports she is at 11-25N, 126-48E and making nine knots.

At 1020, Force A reverses course towards Leyte Gulf. At 1105, CHIKUMA is attacked by five TBMs from KITKUN BAY. She is hit portside amidships by two torpedoes and her engine rooms flood. Power is lost. She comes to a stop and takes on a list to portside. At 1110, destroyer NOWAKI is dispatched to assist her.

After 1415, CHIKUMA is attacked by three TBMs from ORMANNEY BAY led by VC-75’s CO, Lt Allen W. Smith. Three torpedoes hit her portside near amidships. NOWAKI takes off her survivors then scuttles her with torpedoes. At 1430, CHIKUMA capsizes and sinks by the stern at 11-25N, 126-36E.

USS Heermann at Battle of Samar, by: Dwight Shepler

USS Heermann at Battle of Samar, by: Dwight Shepler

26 October 1944: 65 miles SSE of Legaspi, Philippines. At 0054, NOWAKI is crippled and set afire by gunfire from Task Force 34.5’s VINCENNES (CL-64), BILOXI (CL-80) and MIAMI (CL-89) and DesDiv 103’s MILLER (DD-535), OWEN (DD-536) and LEWIS HANCOCK (DD-675).  At 0149, NOWAKI, dead in the water, is sunk by gunfire and torpedoes from the destroyers at 13N, 124-54E. NOWAKI goes down with all hands, including CHIKUMA’s survivors.

Ship list from Wikipedia:

Allied losses:

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

Japanese losses:

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

Listed Japanese losses include only those ships sunk in the battle. After the nominal end of the battle, several damaged ships were faced with the option of either making their way to Singapore, which was close to Japan’s oil supplies but could not undertake comprehensive repairs, or making their way back to Japan where there were better repair facilities but scant oil. The cruiser Kumano and battleship Kongo were sunk retreating to Japan. Cruisers Takao and Myoko were stranded, unrepairable, in Singapore. Many of the other survivors of the battle were bombed and sunk at anchor in Japan, unable to move without fuel.

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Military Humor – in Naval Training –

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Farewell Salutes –

Chester Bochus – Licoln, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Ralph Gardener – Battle Creek, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO & CBI, 9th Air Force, Transport Command

Margaret Jaffe – Santa Cruz, CA; US Army Nursing Corps, WWII1e12f2d7f401d503e1678a3a20527afb-jpglord-kitcheners-farewell-salute

Harold Knowles – Bathhurst, NB, CAN; RC Signal Corps, Korea

Richard Lonien – Everett, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Brian P. Odiorne – Ware, MA; US Army, Iraq, 2/82/3/1st Cavalry Division, cannon crew

George Russell – Clifton Heights, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Company C/152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Elwin Swigart – Molalla, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Keith Wells – Lakewiew, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO, 5th Marine Div., Lt., Navy Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Leonard Woods – Christchurch, NZ; RAF # 1330880, WWII, Warrant officer

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October 1944 (3)

Japanese Center Force: Nagato, Musachi & Yamato

Japanese Center Force: Nagato, Musachi & Yamato

Avengers from the Cabot and Intrepid attacked the enemy superbattleship Musashi [the Palace] and she withstood 3 more torpedo hits.  The IJN Myoko was damaged, but the carrier aircraft continued to concentrate on the “Palace.”  Kurita, on the Yamato radioed out:  “URGENT REQUEST LAND-BASED AIR FORCE AND MOBILE FORCE TO MAKE PROMPT ATTACK ON ENEMY CARRIER FORCE IN SIBUYAN SEA.”  This call went unanswered.

The Musachi took 7 more torpedoes, that hit her port quarter and bridge tower, and still she moved at 6 knots.  Kurita ordered the experimental “San shiki” shells to be loaded into the guns. (These were designed to loft fragmentation bombs at low-flying planes.)  But finally, after 17 bombs and 19 torpedoes, the Palace succumbed and sank vertically like a skyscraper.

VAdmiral Toshihira Inoguchi chose to go down with his ship; 1,376 of her 2,399-man crew were rescued. About half of her survivors were evacuated to Japan, and the rest took part in the defense of the Philippines.*

Task Force - 58

Task Force – 58

24→25 October – Adm. Kinkaid ordered Adm. Oldendorf to prepare for a night engagement and to re-position his Task Force-77.  At the entrance to the Suriago Strait he situated double lines consisting of 6 battlewagons, 8 cruisers, 28 destroyers and 39 “expendable” PT boats.

The dual lines caused echoes in the Japanese radar of the Southern Force and between the torpedoes and gun barrages, Nishimura’s force was devastated: 2 battleships, 1 heavy cruiser and 4 destroyers after 2 hours of battle.  Shima’s group had 2 cruisers sunk, 1 battleship damaged and the admiral began a retreat.

25 October – as Halsey and the TF-38 headed north to intercept Ozawa’s Decoy Force, Kurita aimed his Centre Force at the US escort carrier group TG-77.43 “Taffy 3, under Adm. Sprague.  With only 6 small carriers and 6 destroyers, Sprague was all that sailed between the ground invading force and the enemy ships.  In an apparently suicide tactic, the admiral charged Kurita by air and sea.  The enemy thought they were facing the entire Third Fleet.  In maneuvering to avoid the attack, Kurita lost any tactical control.

Sprague suffered heavy losses, but the enemy had the cruisers Kumano, Chokai and Chikuma at the bottom of the sea.  Kurita retreated with the Suzaya, Haguro and sister-ship to the Musachi, the IJN Yamato; all having been hit by aircraft fire.  Sprague was now low on fuel and ammunition.  Kinkaid radioed Halsey: “WHERE IS – REPEAT – WHERE IS TASK FORCE 34?  THE WORLD WONDERS.”

Superbattleship IJN Musachi

Superbattleship IJN Musachi

* In March 2015, the American philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, and his team of researchers located the wreck of Musashi in the Sibuyan Sea using a remotely operated underwater vehicle deployed from the yacht Octopus. The ship lies at a depth of around 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).  The wreck was revealed to be in several pieces with most of the hull amidships appearing to have been blown apart after leaving the surface.  The bow section from the number one barbette forward is upright on the sea floor while the stern is upside down. The forward superstructure and funnel is detached from the rest of the ship and lies on its port side.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Wilfred Adams – No.Battleford, CAN; RC Army, WWII, RTO

Chester Bingaman – Huntsville, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Mississippi and LSM-183maxresdefault

Michael Francuck – Holly, MI; US Navy, WWII

Walter Haas – Brn: GER, FL; US Army

John Hogg – Sacramento, CA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Howard Kelly, Miami, FL; US Army, WWII

Arnold Keuneke – IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt., Signal Corps

David Plotkin – Massapequa, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWI, PTO, pilot

Richard Roether – Cincinnatti, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt.

Robert Trpinc – Millsboro, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO

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October 1944 (2)

October 20, 1944: U.S. troops head toward the beaches of Leyte island during the amphibious assault to reconquest the Philippines. (AP Photo)

October 20, 1944: U.S. troops head toward the beaches of Leyte island during the amphibious assault to reconquest the Philippines. (AP Photo)

15→16 October – Carrier aircraft again set off to bomb shipping and installations at the Manila Bay, Luzon area on both days.  The Japanese lost: 20 aircraft shot down and 30-40 destroyed on the ground.

17→18 October – Northern Luzon and again the Manila Bay area were attacked by the carrier aircraft and the enemy this time lost 56 aircraft; four ships were sunk, with 23 others damaged.  The US lost 7 aircraft.

19 October – Carrier aircraft bombed, rocketed and strafed select targets in the Visayas Group of the Philippines.  The US 6th Army , under Gen. MacArthur began landings on Leyte which pushed the Japanese Navy to act.

22→23 October – Three enemy task forces converged for battle.  The Japanese Combined Fleet were underway for Operation Sho, (Sho  = Victory) and they would meet with their first casualties from the US submarines Darter and Dace in the Palawan Passage.

Just after 0500 hours, LtComdr. Benitez said to his men, “It looks like the 4th of July out there!”  Adm. Kurita’s cruisers IJN Atago & Maya of  the 1st Strike Force were ht and sinking.  The enemy’s position was passed on to command and the US Task Force 38/3rd Fleet sailed to the Sibuyan Sea to intercept.  The Second Battle of the Philippine Sea was underway and it would continue through 27 October.

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[It will take the next few posts to try and encapsulate all that transpired in this short period of time – Please bear with me.]

Japanese losses would include: 2 battleships, 4 carriers, 6 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 3 small cruisers or destroyers, and 6 destroyers.  Severely damaged were: 1 battleship, 5 cruisers, 7 destroyers.  Others with damage: 6 battleships,4 heavy destroyers, 1 light cruiser and 10 destroyers.

US losses: the light carrier Princeton and 2 escort carriers, the Saint ‘Lo and Gambier Bay were sunk.  Two destroyers, Johnston and Hoel went under, along with 1 destroyer escort, the Samuel B. Roberts and a few smaller craft.

[The story of the USS Samuel B. Roberts can be read in the book “For Crew and Country,” by John Wukovits.  It is an inspiring book to read.]

24 October – Adm. Mitscher’s aircraft assaulted Adm. Kurita’s Center Force and the Nishimura/Shima Sounthern Force while their planes  were out hitting US concerns around the Philippines.  The Princeton was hit by a kamikaze carrying a 100-pound bomb that went through her deck.  The Birmingham was damaged by later explosions as she assisted the damaged carrier; this killed 200 seamen.

The following 10 minute video shows both Allied and Japanese photography.


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Military Humor – Navy style

war

“I have a funny feeling about those blind dates of ours.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Millard Ball – Clarksville, TN; US Merchant Marine, WWII / US Army, Korea, 187th RCT / Vietnam, 101st Airborne, CSgtM (Ret. 45 years)

Victor Carty – San Jose, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aircraft mechanicsalute

Edward Cooke – Fonda, IA; US Navy (USNA graduate), WWII, CBI, minesweeper, VAdmiral

Warren Ferguson – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3167th Signal Corps

Teresa Gies – Wellington, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII

Harry Hamilton Sr. – St. Petersburg, FL; US Navy, WWII

Matuszewski Klemens – Taragowa, POL; Polish Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Paul Martin – Croghan, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 318 Fighter Sq./7th Air Force, Cpl.

Richard Ramsey – Bloomington, IN; US Navy, WWII, LST-947

Frank Yates – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 502/101st Airborne, Sgt.

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