Early Raids in the Pacific Ocean February 1 to March 10, 1942

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  1. World War II: The Pacific Islands - The Atlantic
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In general, Combat Narratives represent a reasoned interpretation of these discrepancies. In those instances where views cannot be reconciled, extracts from the conflicting evidence are reprinted. Thus, an effort has been made to provide accurate and, within the above-mentioned limitations, complete narrative with charts covering raids, combats, joint operations, and battles in which our Fleets have engaged in the current war.

It is hoped that these narratives will afford a clear view of what has occurred, and form a basis for a broader understanding which will result in ever more successful operations. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations. The intervening period had been one of constant success for the enemy: Manila and Cavite fell on the 2d of January, Bougainville in the Solomons on the 22d, Rabaul and Balikpapan on the 23d.

These advances were the result not only of a matured and well implemented plan of campaign, but of the enemy's ability to exploit the advantages accruing to him from his initial surprise attack. Moreover, commitments in the Atlantic contributed to the defensive role which was forced upon our Pacific Fleet.

Nevertheless, known movements of the enemy were carefully scrutinized, and the disposition of his forces considered in order that offensive action might be launched at the earliest moment. During the first days of January, the pattern of these movements began to indicate that such a moment was approaching.

Broadly stated, our own submarine reconnaissance and other intelligence indicated that the Japanese Fourth Fleet 1 was based principally on Truk in the Mandates and that it had been reinforced by the Eighth Cruiser Division 2 and the Second Carrier Division. However, many of these submarines were operating. Also indicative of the trend of events were raids by cruisers, destroyers, and converted merchantmen which had been reported against four islands of the Gilbert group.

One island of this group, Makin, had been occupied by an unopposed force of Japanese as early as December 9th and had subsequently been employed as a base for their four-engined reconnaissance seaplanes. There also were indications that an air base was being developed there. Thus, while the main Japanese naval units were still being employed against Borneo, the Celebes, and other islands to the west and southwest, there were clear hints that the next area of attack might well be to the southeast of the Mandated area.

Fletcher, commanding, or against Suva in the Fijis or Canton Island. Success in any of these operations could jeopardize the northeastern approaches to Australia and be of substantial assistance to any future attack which the enemy might launch against that continent. It appeared to Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who had become Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, on December 17, , that the time had come for a damaging raid against the Marshall Islands before enemy strength was fully assembled in the Mandates. At that time, our information concerning the Marshall and Gilbert Islands was by no means complete.

So far as the Marshalls were concerned, it was known that 2 landing fields, each with a hangar capable of housing 20 medium-sized planes, had been constructed on Enybor Island, just north of Jaluit. Camouflaged storehouses and gasoline and fuel-oil storage tanks were adjacent to these fields. On Jaluit, administration buildings and shore batteries were known to have been established along the three-quarter mile water front street, called the Marine Parade.

It was also assumed that, given warning, the enemy could concentrate a considerable over-all strength for mutual support. Navy flag names for the first letter of surnames of commanding officers have been substituted. In order to observe Japanese activities in the area, a shuttle patrol of six Army B's and six Navy patrol planes was established between Canton and Suva on the 19th of January.

On January 9th Admiral Nimitz directed Admiral Halsey to raid the southern Marshall and northern Gilbert area employing air attack and ship bombardment, the general priority of objectives being: combatant ships; aircraft, particularly those on the ground or water, and tenders; other ships; aircraft supporting installations; fuel tanks, power, and radio installations; troop concentrations; and storehouses.

Our task forces were to depart from Samoa on the 25th of January. Northampton , Capt. William D. Salt Lake City , Capt. Ellis M. Dunlap , Lt. Virginius R. Chester , Captain Shock. Balch , Commander Charles J. Maury , Lt. Elmer D. Blue , Commander Harold N. McCall , Commander Frederick Moosbrugger.


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Hughes , Lt. Donald J. Sims , Lt. Willford M. Russell , Lt. Glenn R. Walke , Lt. Thomas E. Upon departure from Samoa, these forces were to proceed to the vicinity northeast of Howland Island, for refueling on the 28th of January. On completion of this operation the Platte and the Craven were to proceed to Pearl Harbor, while the Sabine and Mahan , upon completion of the first fueling, were to proceed eastward in time for a second fueling rendezvous at a point about midway on the return trip, at on February 2d.

The Sabine 's approach to the second fueling point was to be from the southeastward to avoid possible contact with other units of the task forces during the preceding night. Fighter planes from the Enterprise were to support the bombardment groups by strafing prior to bombardment.

World War II: The Pacific Islands - The Atlantic

Attacks were to be repeated and other objectives attacked as developments warranted. The primary objectives for the Enterprise bombing squadrons were to be any ships found at Roi Island; or, if none were found, the planes were to proceed immediately to Kwajalein Island in search of enemy ships and to support the first division of the torpedo squadron. The Enterprise scouting squadron was to make a gliding attack to strafe and drop pound bombs on the air field, planes on the ground, hangars, fuel tanks, and other installations on both Roi and Kwajalein.

If suitable objectives survived, a second dive-bombing attack with pound bombs was con-. If suitable targets for a torpedo attack were found or remained after the horizontal and dive-bombing attack had been completed, the Enterprise was to be informed and the second division of the torpedo squadron was to attack with torpedoes. The fighter squadron was to make attacks on the fields at Wotje and Maloelap Island, six planes on each, while six other planes were to fly a combat patrol over the ship.

Further attacks by all planes were to be made as conditions warranted. As a result of prior study it was believed that all Japanese shore installations would be found on the island of Wotje and that enemy vessels inside the atoll would probably be in the anchorage immediately to the westward of that island. This did not, however, preclude the possibilities that shore batteries might be located on outlying supporting islands, such as Egmedio, Ene Cherutakku, or Ormed, and that ships might be found using other anchorages, such as Ormed and Christmas Harbor, or attempting to leave or enter the lagoon.

In selecting the point from which to commence the bombardment and the courses to be steered during it, the following factors were given considerations:. Aircraft on the ground were obviously important, but these were assigned to the Enterprise fighters. Also, the possibility of being able to bring enemy aircraft under effective fire from ships' guns during the early stages of the bombardment seemed unlikely, as the location of the landing field was unknown.

Wind data available for the Marshall Islands showed prevailing winds from northeast to east. If these data were accurate, the necessity for a good east-west runway would have placed the landing field on the north end of the island. Concerning our 5-inch batteries, however, consideration had to be given to the difference in ranges to the shore line, where enemy batteries probably were located, and to the positions of shore objectives. Cruiser aircraft should be launched as late as possible in order to conserve fuel, but early enough to permit them to be on spotting stations by , yet not so close to Wotje that the flash from the catapult powder charges would alert the enemy.

It was also undesirable for our ships to be silhouetted from Wotje on the eastern horizon before our fighters attacked. These considerations, the proximity of Erikub and Maloelap Atolls to the southward of Wotje Atoll, the low-lying nature of all land in these atolls and the fact that rather strong ocean currents were known to exist, all would require exceptional accuracy of navigation during the night. The foregoing considerations resulted in the decision to approach Wotje from the southeastward, and to arrive at at a position 20, yards from probable shore batteries whence ships at the anchorage would be under direct observation; to maneuver by turn movements on courses to close the range while maintaining broadside fire, firing deliberately with 8-inch partial salvos on enemy ships and at the same time developing the location and strength of the shore batteries; and, finally to shift fire to shore objectives, closing the range, if possible, to permit the cruiser 5-inch to fire effectively.

An approach from the southward of Wotje Island, rather than the northward, was selected because this covered Schischmarev Strait, the principal entrance to the lagoon, and the channel to it from Wotje anchorage. Moreover, for fire against shore objectives a position to the southward of Wotje Island was desirable because the major axis of the island is north and south. The attack on Taroa was to be carried out by a task group consisting of the Chester , Balch , and Maury.

The ships were to continue on that course with the Chester 's main battery firing for about 20 minutes. Thereafter, if practicable the group was to close the range to permit effective fire of all 5-inch batteries. The priority of objectives would be as set forth in Admiral Nimitz's order. If any enemy surface vessels were present and attempted to escape, the group was to maneuver to cover the entrance to Enijun Channel. Admiral Fletcher's orders to his task force required that the striking group, which consisted of the Yorktown , Louisville , and St.

The striking group was to launch an air attack on Jaluit, Makin, and Mili from the Yorktown. The attack was to be executed to strike about 15 minutes prior to sunrise; however, launching times could be advanced to permit attack and recovery of aircraft prior to daylight if weather conditions were propitious.

Admiral Halsey's task force proceeded at reduced speed throughout daylight hours of the 31st. Once during that time, there was an alert. At , when the first carrier plane was launched, there was little or no wind and a full moon was still above the horizon. The launching of the first group, which consisted of 36 scout bombers, each carrying one and two pound bombs, was completed and at nine torpedo bombers and an additional scout bomber were put into the air.

All these planes, which were detailed for Kwajalien and Roi Islands in the Kwajalein Atoll, took their departure at with Comdr. Howard L. Young, the Air Group Commander. Fifteen minutes later, the planes for Roi were estimated to be 20 miles northeast of the island. From an altitude of 15, feet, the tip of the sun could be seen rising above the horizon just as the moon was setting.

These conditions should have afforded good visibility at sea level, but the horizon was shrouded in mist so that a small strip of land which was observed at was not identified as Roi Island until 5 minutes after 7. This was due, also, to our planes being equipped only with small photostatic maps. No ships or other signs of activity were observed. The scouting squadron, which was in a three-division formation, was ordered to attack.

At almost the same moment, the air group commander received word from our planes over Kwajalein via the Enterprise that there were numerous ships, including "two carriers" in that area. He immediately detached his bombing squadron to assist in dealing with that situation. The first division of the scouting squadron began its glide-bombing attack from an altitude of 14, feet, 15 miles north of Roi.

Because of the paucity of prior information, the selection of targets was left to the discretion of each pilot. While the first division was approaching the target area, the second circled the island close aboard, in order to open out on the first. During the course of this maneuver, it was seen that enemy fighters, perhaps aroused by the first passage of our planes near the island 20 minutes earlier, were coming in to attack.

A considerable amount of antiaircraft fire was rising. The second division therefore moved on the target area at a higher speed knots than the first and from an altitude of 10, feet. The third division followed closely, and like the others, most of the planes released their pound bombs. Some, in all three divisions, also dropped their pounders. Meanwhile additional enemy planes had joined those already in the air with the result that numerous individual fights ensued. Our planes succeeded in destroying 3 enemy fighters, while the Japanese were seen to shoot down 2 planes of the scouting squadron, one of which was in flames.

In addition, we lost one plane probably to antiaircraft fire and another to causes unknown. This fourth plane was last seen making what appeared to be a controlled, but extremely fast, down-wind landing on the water about a mile north of Roi. Some of our planes succeeded in making a second attack on the shore installations of the island. When these operations were completed seven of the squadron proceeded to Kwajalein and the balance returned to the Enterprise. Objectives were combatant ships, valuable surface ships and shore facilities at Kwajalein Island.

Weather conditions were good, low scattered clouds at 3, feet, three- to four-tenths overcast, unlimited ceiling. Wind was from the east-northeast at 15 knots. Landfall was made at Kwajalein and attacks were begun against nine cargo ships, two four-engine planes, and a large compound on the island. The first bomb was released at ; the last at Sufficient addi-. The antiaircraft fire met by the torpedo squadron was intense and more accurate than had been expected. No enemy aircraft opposition was encountered.

The squadron departed from Kwajalein at and landed aboard the Enterprise at As has already been noted, the Air Group Commander at Roi Island, having received the report of the presence of enemy ships at Kwajalein, ordered the 10 scout bombers which were at Roi to proceed to Kwajalein. At , these bombers began a southward movement down the middle of the lagoon, searching for enemy ships. They arrived off Kwajalein 20 minutes later at an altitude of 14, feet. The light and visibility were sufficient at this time to reveal that the 'two carriers' previously reported were, in fact, large merchant ships.

As the squadron approached the target area, an umbrella barrage of 3- to 5-inch antiaircraft was sent up, with fuse setting at 10, feet. This barrage was directly over the anchorage and was not directed at our approaching planes. At the same time heavy machine-gun fire was noticed, which was an utter waste of ammunition. Although there was some large caliber antiaircraft fire from shore guns, the greatest volume of fire came from an antiaircraft cruiser in a central anchorage position.

This cruiser was armed with 12 or more large caliber and numerous small caliber antiaircraft guns, and at least 1 multiple pom-pom. Because the squadron was cruising in a three-division attack formation and squadron doctrine thoroughly covered the situation, a single signal was all that was necessary to launch the attack. This signal was given at and the divisions separated and each section chose a target.

Normal dive-bombing approaches were used and pound bombs were dropped. In several cases individual pilots, not satisfied with their dive, or observing previous hits on target selected, pulled up and chose another target. As radical evasive action was required to escape the great volume of machine-gun fire, planes became separated and each pilot made his subsequent attacks individually. In these subsequent attacks, glide bombing and strafing were employed against smaller ships, large sea-planes, and the shore installations. No enemy aircraft were encountered in the air.

While en route, these planes were advised that their attack should be initiated from the north and as a consequence, course was altered and the planes arrived off Bigej Channel at about 5 minutes after 9. Antiaircraft fire was immediately encountered at 1, feet. The group was in a close echelon of V 's at this time.

Several large auxiliaries anchored in parallel lines lying approximately east and west with oilers in the northernmost line, cargo ships and troop transports in the next line were observed. Light vessels of tender type were anchored close in to the island and about a dozen patrol type vessels were maneuvering around the lagoon to the north of the line of oilers. The pilots were informed that the first plane would take the first large vessel to the east and the other planes were to assume large objectives working toward the west in rotation. The formation, in a right echelon of echelons was then at to feet just passing over the reef bordering the lagoon to the north of Bigej Island.

Intense antiaircraft fire from 5- or 3-inch guns and pom-poms was now being encountered. The formation was broken up and the attack initiated. It was necessary to pass over numerous small vessels of the gun boat type and skirt vessels beached along the lagoon. All of these vessels maintained an intense machine-gun fire. Large vessels were using pom-poms as well as 3- or 5-inch antiaircraft guns. Antiaircraft guns along the island or edge of the lagoon were also firing.

At about this point a light cruiser was noted limping out of the anchorage toward the south pass. Three planes were ordered to concentrate on the cruiser. Planes were now rapidly closing on the first line of ships. Planes releasing on these targets dropped their torpedoes at about to yards and then zoomed over their targets and retired to the east. Planes with targets in the second line dropped torpedoes after maneuvering over or through the first line and then they, too, retired to the east. The planes concentrating on the cruiser maneuvered to box him in, dropped their torpedoes and retired to the north.

While the enemy antiaircraft fire was intense and sustained, it was haphazardly controlled. It is believed the enemy's antiaircraft inflicted considerable casualties on themselves: the second line of ships firing into the first line and shore guns firing into all ships. It was noted that a vigorous dive on a gun crew dispersed it even though the attacking. One attempt was made to strafe patrol planes and facilities on Ebeiye Island, but this failed due to a gun jam.

All radiomen maintained a vigorous fire with free guns during the approach and the retirement. A rendezvous was effected about 10 or 15 miles east of Kwajalein Island. While circling for the join-up, it was noted that large caliber shells from shore batteries were falling in the water around the formation. The attack group returned to the ships, arriving at about Bullet and shrapnel holes were found in three of the returning planes, but no crew members were injured. All torpedoes appeared to have run satisfactorily; however, one of the torpedoes launched at the cruiser exploded before reaching the ship, probably on a coral head.

Fortunately, in this action Torpedo Squadron SIX encountered no air opposition, but it is certain that their mission would not have been accomplished had they been intercepted by enemy fighters which were in the near vicinity. Beginning at , five fighter planes, each equipped with a pound bomb, left the Enterprise to carry out strafing attacks on Taroa Island in the Maloelap Atoll. A sixth plane crashed in taking off. The group reached its goal and observed that a new airfield had just been completed. Its two 5,foot runways and installations, compared not unfavorably with that at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor.

Had this field been in full operation, the position of the task force might have been seriously jeopardized. Numerous planes were observed on the ground. These and the installations were attacked until a quarter after 7. During their time over the island, our fighters were attacked by an enemy patrol and considerable antiaircraft fire.

Two of the Japanese planes were shot down by Lt. James S. Gray, Jr. William E. It is believed that one enemy plane was destroyed on the ground and that many more would have been put out of action had our planes been provided with incendiary bullets. At , nine scout bombers which had landed at , after having taken part in the dawn attack on Kwajalein, were launched for a second attack on Taroa Island. This group was composed of seven planes of. At the time of the launching the Enterprise was about 95 miles from the objective.

Emergency departure was taken and rendezvous was effected en route.

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Flying in three three-plane sections, the group climbed until an up-sun position about 30 miles to the southeast of Taroa Island at 19, was reached at At this time, and from this point, a high-speed nose-down approach was commenced directly towards Taroa. The group remained closed up in a modified division V formation one wing section high and one wing section low for mutual defense against enemy fighter aircraft, which were reported to be plentiful in the vicinity of the target.

When about 6 miles from the target, the sections were released and when almost at the dive point the individual planes of each section were placed in an opened out ABC 6 formation in a generally north to north-west direction. Flaps were opened and vertical dives made from 13, feet altitude directly over the flying field at Taroa. No fighter opposition and no enemy antiaircraft fire was encountered prior to the attack. The island showed no signs of having been previously bombarded. The hangars and buildings were new, uncamouflaged, undamaged, and the planes were lined up in neat rows.

About 12 two-engined bombers were parked in a single row on the edge of the north south runway, 5 fighters were parked in front of the north hangar and 6 fighters were parked at the south end of the north-south runway. Two bombers were parked to the northeast of the runways and were well separated. The first section leader dropped a ripple salvo of two pound and one pound bombs, aiming at planes parked on the field. His bombs destroyed two large bombers and set two others afire, there being little doubt that the last two were ruined. Three small fighter planes were also seen to catch afire from these bombs.

The second plane dropped a pound bomb on the southernmost of two hangars near the field making a direct hit. The hangar must have contained gasoline as it went up in very high flames after the bomb explosion. The hangar was apparently a total loss. This plane then headed for Ollot Island where the pilot attacked what appeared to be radio towers and an administration building or barracks and a small radio station or powerhouse.

He dropped two. Distances between units and altitudes of units depend upon circumstances encountered. When attacked from the air the units usually draw together, when under antiaircraft fire they separate. The B unit is particularly mobile, moving between A and C as conditions warrant. The third plane dropped one pound and two pound bombs about 20 feet in front of the northern hangar. Three fighter planes in front of the hangar were demolished. The second section leader dropped one pound bomb from 9, feet at planes parked on the field.

This bomb hit alongside a large bombing plane, which was demolished and two fighter planes were seen to catch on fire. He then dropped his pound bomb on an oil storage tank to the southeast of the hangars, making a direct hit and setting it on fire. He headed for Ollot Island and dropped a pound bomb on an anti-aircraft gun emplacement there. The bomb explosion was followed by puffs of white smoke, possibly indicating that ammunition was exploding afterward.

The second plane of this section dropped all his bombs in the initial dive, but was unable to observe where they hit due to pulling out fairly low. The third plane dropped all his bombs on a T -shaped building that was apparently a barracks or administration building. A direct hit opened the building up about half way down the stem of the T. These two planes then strafed a small boat seen proceeding toward a pier on Ollet. Another plane was attacked by a fighter just after pulling out of the strafing run.

He did not have time to announce the fact over the radio and was forced to take evasive action by himself. The enemy fighter did not push his attack home, but seemed willing to display the maneuverability of his plane and fire outside of gun range. The pilot was able then to evade him and eventually to make a safe getaway and return to the ship alone undamaged. The third section leader dropped his pound bomb on the southern hangar making a direct hit. This was the second direct hit with pound bombs on this installation. He then dropped his two pound bombs in salvo at the planes parked on the field.

They hit in the middle of the northeast-southwest runway in the vicinity of the planes, but no damage to the planes was apparent. The second plane of this section dropped all his bombs in ripple salvo in the dive, aiming at the northern hangar, but was unable to observe the drops because of pulling out low. No bombs were seen to hit the northern hangar, however. The third plane also unloaded at the northern hangar, but his bombs all dropped between two hangars causing no damage apparent from the air.

This third section retired to the northward, and when the section leader was about 6 miles north of the field a fighter dove on him. He escaped. Here, again, the enemy fighter pilot seemed content to display the greater maneuverability of his plane and did not drive home his attack. Throughout the attack no antiaircraft fire was encountered, except machine-gun fire after the first section planes entered their dive.

All sections dived through the machine-gun fire, but only one small hole in the right aileron of the second section leader's plane was found. Antiaircraft fire from several guns on Taroa and from four or five on Ollot Island was observed after the attack. This fire was rather sporadic and inaccurate at first, each gun apparently trying to select its own target. When the flight leader was about 5 miles on his retiring course, however, the batteries appeared to concentrate on his section and the fire became fairly accurate.

The planes had inadvertently put themselves in a position to be enfiladed while joining up on the flight leader. When all planes dove for the water the fire again became very ineffective and ceased when the retiring planes were about 8 miles away. Seven planes returned together; the two that had been attacked by fighters returned singly and joined the group just prior to landing aboard.

At nine bombing planes were launched for a third attack on the island. This group was composed of eight planes of the bombing squadron and one plane of the scouting squadron. Departure was taken immediately and course set for Taroa. Shortly thereafter two two-plane sections of enemy fighters were seen turning toward us. Accordingly, our formation turned toward Taroa and went immediately into column thus sacrificing mutual firepower support for better observation of possible targets. This turn placed the enemy fighters broad on our starboard bow, but as our group, in order to gain speed, went into a knot power glide, the enemy held altitude.

Presently, they attacked, following our planes down. Simultaneously, bursts of antiaircraft fire were seen at 10 to 12 thousand feet over the field which was still 7 or 8 miles distant. Course was altered in the hope of confusing the ground batteries which it was thought would soon be brought to bear. However, as our group arrived just. Our planes were now in diving position. Just as they were about to push over, the pilot of plane B, the last in column, flew under and ahead of B, the next in line.

The pilot of B saw that the reason for this maneuver was an enemy fighter on the tail of B B opened fire with his two fixed guns, and shot down the fighter. The leading planes attacked the hangars and area close by, while those following selected the large bombers on the field. All except B dropped their bombs in ripple salvos on the first dive. During the pull-out the planes were immediately engaged by what must have been a low level fighter patrol. The action broke up into individual dog fights, during which two enemy fighters were shot down.

It was during this phase that B was last seen dodging into a cloud with a pursuing enemy fighter. All planes were attacked at least once by fighters and had to make defensive use of the excellent cloud layer at from 2 to 4 thousand feet. Enemy fighters encountered were types 96, 97, and, in one instance, Zero fighters.

The F4F's were much faster and had more gun power than the enemy planes, but the pilots of Fighting Squadron Six made no attempts to engage in dog fights as soon as the maneuverability of the enemy fighters became apparent. No information was obtained on the relative performance of the type Zero fighter and the F4F A group of six fighter planes destined for Wotje Island were launched immediately after the first group which attacked Taroa.

All planes were in the air by It was anticipated that this island would prove the most fully developed from a military viewpoint. For this reason, the main attack was built around bombardment by the Northampton , Salt Lake City , and Dunlap beginning at The first attack by the fighters was unopposed, their second was met by antiaircraft fire.

The planes left the island before the beginning of the bombardment. Later in the day, at , a second group consisting of eight scout bombers, each carrying one and two pound bombs, and nine torpedo planes carrying three pound bombs, were launched, and delivered an attack on the few targets which had survived the bombardment. The airfield and its facilities were completely destroyed while only two of the original eight or nine ships in the harbor could be seen. At February 1st, the ships were turned into the wind for launching the aircraft.

Just after the cruiser planes were catapulted the presence of our task force was signaled to the shore by a rocket fired from a patrol boat of about tons. The Dunlap was designated to sink the boat which went zigzagging away. Only the bow gun of the destroyer would bear, so she had some difficulty hitting her fleeing, low-freeboard target. Upon completion of the launching, the planes from the Salt Lake City and Northampton rendezvoused as a unit and proceeded to the north of the island of Wotje. The reconnaissance and photographic planes broke off and headed south to photograph the straits and reconnoiter, passing clockwise around the atoll.

At the antiaircraft guns on the island opened fire on the fighters from the Enterprise and a few minutes later shifted fire to the spotting planes. Spotting stations first were taken up north of the island. At about the ships of the task group sighted land on the starboard bow. It consisted of numerous low-lying islands, with the island to the extreme right, Wotje, having what appeared to be two radio towers of medium height and various fire control and lookout masts.

Upon closer observation one large ship was seen in the lagoon and within a very few minutes the stacks of about five others came into view. Many of the ships were showing black smoke indicating that they were lighting off. An initial report of "three ships and no shore batteries" was received from the reconnaissance group. Subsequently, it was learned that actually eight ships and five batteries were present.

Such incomplete information could have caused disaster. When the range to Wotje was about 24, yards, three large freighter type ships could be seen. The left-hand ship was clearly visible and was the normal target for the Northampton. The Salt Lake City control officer designated the right-hand auxiliary ship for his target. Thereafter, the Dunlap operated independently, sinking the patrol vessel, then searching to the westward for two submarines reported to be standing out of the lagoon, and finally following the cruisers on a northeasterly course, bombarding Wotje Island.

The Northampton opened fire with a full salvo. The control officer on the Salt Lake City had been ordered by his captain to follow the movements of the flagship in either single turret or full salvo fire. About 20 seconds later the Salt Lake City opened with a full salvo, slow fire. After the second salvo, it was observed that the Northampton was firing single-turret salvos, so the Salt Lake City control ordered single turret salvos, slow fire, to economize ammunition.

The targets for our cruisers for the next 55 minutes were cruisers in the lagoon. Target designations against the enemy ships in the harbor partially hidden by high spots of land, some getting underway, and all changing relative positions with his own ship's movement, proved a difficult problem for our control officers. Our air spotter had trouble attaining good spotting positions because of clouds and enemy antiaircraft fire.

Rangefinders, due to their varying heights, had different views of the partially hidden ships. The problem of locating target designations was finally solved by giving the plane spotter the best possible description of the target in order to identify it. An example of the difficulty that confronted Admiral Spruance's Task Group can be shown by relating what happened when an enemy ship was placed under fire at about by the Salt Lake City.

When one of the Salt Lake City 's targets became hidden from view, fire was shifted to a ship of about 4, to 5, tons which was pouring black smoke from its funnel and obviously trying to escape from the lagoon. The enemy's speed was between 12 and 15 knots.

It seemed that this vessel might be either a submarine tender or seaplane tender. Apparently she had three small deck guns which were being fired. In opening on this ship, the Salt Lake City crossed fire with the Northampton who at that. The target maneuvered radically, seeking as often as possible to place an island of the atoll between our cruiser and herself. While behind an island she would often reverse her course.

The plane spotter for the Salt Lake City was having difficulty with clouds, so that each time the ship again came into view there would be another rangekeeper set-up necessary. Each time the target got behind an island, fire was checked. Also, by this time, the plane spotter had obtained good spotting position over the lagoon and sent in satisfactory information on the target maneuvers and spots.

Control ordered full gun salvos, but maintained slow fire. The gun range was 15, yards. The first salvo landed on in deflection and just over, the spot D , left 1 mil. The next was a perfect straddle. The next salvo was a similar straddle. The enemy ship was extremely fortunate to live through those two salvos. The plane observers later reported that it was unbelievable that she was still visible when the splashes cleared away. The next salvo landed 7 mils right but was not spotted. The next was another perfect straddle.

The target commenced to go down by the bow; however, she then appeared to steady and hold her own, so the Salt Lake City control officer ordered, "Give her another good one. Just before this salvo hit, the target commenced to go down rapidly by the bow and when this salvo landed a great flash appeared in the superstructure just below the bridge. The final gun range was 13, yards. The target sank at During this time return fire from shore batteries and some of the enemy auxiliaries was observed, but their shots landed short of our vessels.

At about the Northampton and the Salt Lake City shifted their fire to shore objectives on Wotje. The extent and perfection of the camouflage used by the Japanese on their shore installations made spotting from the ships very difficult. Gasoline tanks were painted green and were covered on top with sod. Other installations such as buildings were often painted to resemble sand dunes. Many of these buildings were discovered only because of the shadow they cast in the sunlight.

The distinct handicap under which a task force operates when there is no prior specific information known regarding objectives for bombardment can be shown by relating in some detail the account of the Salt Lake City 's shelling of a group of aircraft installations. A group of buildings, some of which appeared to be hangars, were observed some distance from the beach.

Eight buildings, painted to resemble sand dunes, were counted by the spotter with no trouble. However, the director pointer and trainer, with lower powered optics than the spotter, could not pick up any of these buildings through their telescopes. To the right of these sand-colored buildings was a group of smaller buildings painted a deep green. Since the director pointer and trainer were able to see these green buildings, they were ordered to use the left group of the green buildings as a point of aim. An arbitrary spot of left 5 was put on the rangekeeper to cause the shots to fall in this aviation center.

But, the rangekeeper operator was not notified that the target had been shifted, and the left 5 was applied to a left deflection accumulated spot remaining from the previous target, so the first salvo landed well to the left of the hangars. There was no observation on that salvo. Another was fired with the same set up and a rich orange flame leaped into the air from among the palm trees to the left of the aviation buildings. Then the error on the rangekeeper was corrected and the next salvo was a little off to the right and another heavy fire was observed to start.

The control officer next ordered full gun salvos. The first landed among the aviation buildings followed by another salvo close to the same place, and it is believed considerable damage was done. A spot of right 03 was given, and our shells landed among the green buildings that were being used as the point of aim. The gun range at this time was averaging 11, yards. Later reports from the aviators revealed that this salvo did immense damage to industrial plants.

The enemy opened fire at , using guns on one of the ships in the atoll. It was not until , however, that shore batteries began to be effective. At that time shells burst close to the Salt Lake City. The ship increased speed and turned away but shells from two guns, probably 5 inchers, burst just astern. At , the Northampton was straddled but although the enemy continued firing for another hour, his efforts were ineffective.

At the flagship ordered "Cease Firing" and the planes from the Northampton and Salt Lake City were ordered to attack the remaining objectives with the two pound bombs that each plane carried. The task group withdrew and commenced recovering their aircraft at During recovery one plane from the Salt Lake City crashed into the side of the ship. The Dunlap rescued the pilot and his radio man uninjured and then sank the plane with machine gun and rifle fire. At and again at the task group opened fire on enemy planes that were making an attack on the Enterprise.

This task force suffered no damage or casualties as a result of enemy action. The 5-inch No. Four Chester planes were launched at , two for spot and two for reconnaissance. Taroa Island was sighted at , range 28, yards. At , two enemy dive bombers attacked, dropping their bombs well clear. Shore batteries fired at the Chester at Their location could not be discerned, but the splashes indicated 5- or 6-inch guns. Fighters from the Enterprise could be seen strafing the island. At , the Chester opened fire with the main battery, using the towers on the northwest corner of the island as the point of aim.

No air spot was available as our spotters were under attack. Almost immediately a second attack by enemy dive bombers was made. After the shore batteries kept the Chester under scattered fire. Suddenly, when the point of aim was shifted to the shore batteries, the range dropped to 12, yards, well within the range of shore batteries. Lack of topographical knowledge of the island had thus brought about a potentially dangerous situation.

Five additional salvos were fired at the shore batteries apparently silencing one, while the ship was under air attack. With the Chester still in range of the shore batteries and only two small auxiliaries visible in the lagoon, a left turn was ordered at to reverse the course. On the new course the main batteries resumed fire on the shore-line batteries, working north toward the hangar and airfields.

The Balch was taking the center of the island under effective fire. Nine minutes later eight twin-engined bombers were seen taking off from the island and a speedy retirement was now in order. Until many dive-bombing and strafing attacks were made on the group, with the Chester being the principal target. The cruiser was able to avoid the bombs by changing courses until when one pound bomb hit the well deck near the port catapult tower. The narrowest escape from serious damage or sinking came at when eight bombers dropped pound bombs from 12, feet. These fell about yards astern.

Thereafter, air attacks slackened. Maximum speed was maintained, but no attempt was made to close the Enterprise since it was necessary to avoid indicating her direction to the enemy. At the Chester 's four aircraft were recovered. The enemy lacked aggressiveness and failed to press their attacks home. Release was high about 4, feet and recovery was made by an abrupt pull-out with a steep turn. The enemy reluctance to close in for.

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A few planes were seen to jettison their bombs at some distance from our ships. Only one determined dive was seen. His plane pulled out at about a 1,foot altitude. This plane scored the only hit. The same plane had previously made a very steep dive that resulted in a near miss. He then pulled out, climbed rapidly, executed a split "S" and returned for his hit. The enemy dive bombers used cloud concealment at about 8, feet altitude very effectively in making their approach. On all attacks on the Chester 's reconnaissance planes, the Japanese fighters maneuvered to gain position directly overhead.

They executed a half roll and steep dive. In no instance did they close to effective range. Their pull-outs were high and abrupt, resulting in scattered and inaccurate fire. Combat patrols were flown throughout the day, covering the retirement of the Enterprise. During the early afternoon, five twin-engined bombers some persons who saw the attack insist a sixth plane peeled off from the formation and dropped bombs in the vicinity of the Salt Lake City were intercepted by the combat patrol.

The first range finder range, about 3 seconds after breaking through the clouds, was 3, yards, altitude 6, feet. The enemy bombs were dropped at about 3, to 4, feet and the planes passed over the Enterprise at about 1, feet after dropping. The planes simultaneously dropped three bombs each, of about to kilograms. The nearest bomb hit about 30 feet from the port side of the Enterprise and it was later found that there were about 13 holes in the gasoline line in the vicinity of this near hit. A great quantity of gasoline from the punctured fuel line sprayed out on the walkway, saturating the rubber mats which burnt like cellophane.

One of the enemy bombers peeled off from the formation after passing over the ship and made an effort to either strafe the planes on deck or crash into them; the pilot was either killed or lost control of his plane due to the heavy machine-gun fire, and crashed onto the deck and over the side.

His wings struck the tail of one of our planes, damaging it so severely that it was partially stripped and shoved overboard. At about a twin-float seaplane was intercepted and the plane was disabled by machine-gun fire. The pilot of the enemy plane attempted to parachute, but crashed into the sea. In the late afternoon two two-engined medium bombers were discovered making an attack at high altitude 14, feet in level flight, speed knots. These planes were originally sighted on the starboard quarter at a range of more than 50, yards.

They were tracked all the way to the port quarter, range about 70, yards. They then made their approach from the sun and through large scattered clouds.

Action Off Rabaul

At the time they were sighted coming in, the range finder was unable to get a range due to the smoke gasses. Two bombs, each weighing pounds or more, were dropped from each plane simultaneously. One of the fighter patrol planes, which was close to the enemy, reported that our shots were short. A spot of Out was applied, and a report was then received that Enterprise guns were on. A long trail of smoke was still visible when the plane disappeared into the clouds.

The other enemy bomber was shot down in flames by our fighter plane patrol. The performance of our ship's antiaircraft batteries, on the occasion of the first attack to which she was exposed, was expectedly erratic; nevertheless, the effectiveness was so negligible as to give rise to grave anxiety.


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  8. In the case of the first attack on the Enterprise particularly, properly controlled antiaircraft fire should have taken a heavy toll of the attacking planes. The above totals include 12 vessels and 35 planes confirmed losses. In addition it is considered that between 4 and 7 ships suffered damage of indeterminate degree, at least 2 of which Wotje were in a sinking condition, and that an indeterminate number of planes were destroyed or damaged in the hangars and dispersal parks adjacent to the fields at Roi and Taroa.

    In addition one fighter plane crashed on take-off and was lost. One scout bomber was damaged on deck. One Salt Lake City reconnaissance plane was damaged during recovery, and was abandoned and sunk. The Yorktown , Louisville , and St. The support force of four destroyers approached on the same course at a speed of 15 knots. This course was held until on February 1st and was then reversed. The weather at the time of the launching was high overcast with a large dark bank of clouds and lightning in the direction of Jaluit.

    The moonlight showing through the clouds was sufficient to give a good horizon for take-off. The group consisted of 11 torpedo bombers and 17 scout bombers under the command of Comdr. Curtis S. Smiley, commander of the Yorktown air group. In order to give the scout bombers the maximum radius, it was necessary to use planes without leak-proof fuel tanks.

    This necessitated some exchange of planes between the scouting and bombing squadrons. The planes were spotted on the flight deck of the Yorktown in order of squadron tactical organization. The first plane in the Jaluit attack group in the spot and to be launched was flown by Lt. Robert G. Because of the extremely bad weather the squadron became separated.

    Since an accurate and complete account of the ensuing events is not available, Lt. Armstrong's experience is presented here as typical:. After making a normal run ahead of about 4 minutes, turning running, tail and formation lights on dim, he executed a wide sweeping turn to the right. A majority of the first division of the bombing squadron joined up in loose formation by the time he had completed the turn passing along the starboard side of the Yorktown on a course parallel.

    A large group of lights were seen at this time, ahead and to the starboard of the track of the ship. Armstrong then made another easy turn to the right and when again alongside the Yorktown he had with him possibly 15 planes in loose formation which he believed to be the entire bombing squadron attack group. One or two additional easy turns were made on the starboard side of the ship to the right, while. He believed that during this time some planes from the torpedo squadron joined his squadron.


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    It was then about 10 minutes past the time for departure and, not having sighted the torpedo squadron, he crossed ahead of the Yorktown and made a wide sweeping turn to the left in hope of making contact. He took his formation well ahead of the port side before turning to a course opposite to that of the Yorktown. Lights were seen which were believed to belong to torpedo bombers. At about , not having been able to complete a rendezvous, he took departure for Jaluit, but 5 minutes later, thinking that he saw lights astern which might have been a part or all of the torpedo squadron, he made a wide sweeping turn to the left in the hope of effecting a rendezvous.

    On completion of this turn, he again set out for the objective, believing that about 22 or 23 planes were in formation. These included a plane on his starboard bow which he later learned was the Yorktown Air Group Commander. A speed of about knots was maintained in order to conserve the fuel of the torpedo planes with him and those which might be astern, but out of sight.

    The relatively heavy clouds and the fact that the moon was nearly down made the morning very dark. The horizon was extremely indistinct and it was not possible to avoid or see all of the many thunderstorms in the area. Cruising altitude varied between and feet. At Lt. Armstrong believed he was near the south tip of Jaluit Atoll. The higher clouds were brightening with the dawn and he decided to climb above the thin overcast in order to avoid detection.

    He had been using the automatic pilot for about 50 miles, and he now increased the throttle and began to climb at about feet per minute. His plane rose through the thin overcast and plunged immediately into a heavy thunderstorm. Nevertheless he maintained course and climbed for about 2 more minutes through the increasingly heavy rain until he saw two bright flashes which he thought was lightning.

    He then turned the pilot to descend at about knots, breaking clear of the clouds at feet 3 minutes later. With him were five other planes.

    The south tip of Jaluit was sighted about a half mile distant on the starboard bow and a turn to the left away from the land was begun. The planes were then in a clear area about 3 miles wide, dawn having. Two large thunderstorms extended in a general northwest-southeast direction for a considerable distance. The leader called on the radio in an attempt to reassemble the group, notifying them he had sighted the south tip of Jaluit, their navigational objective.

    He now climbed on a southeast direction for about 7 or 8 minutes. Course was then reversed in order to gain a position over the western part of the atoll, preparatory to commencing the attack. While at about 8, feet on this northwest heading, two additional planes were seen flying together about 4, feet below. Neither plane heard Lt. Armstrong's call by radio, but they did follow astern while the attack was being made. High winds, which were much stronger from the northeast than had been anticipated, and the clouds below delayed contact with the westward part of the atoll until Course was then set for the Jaluit anchorage, the bombing objective.

    Thunderstorms and heavy clouds covering most of the island caused considerable delay in reaching the anchorage and confusion as to the exact location of the harbor. Japanese bomber planes sweep in very low for an attack on U. Several direct hits on the flight deck killed 74 men; the photographer of this picture was reportedly among the dead. A breeches buoy is put into service to transfer from a U. The American Navy turned back the Japanese in the battle but lost an aircraft carrier and a destroyer.

    These Japanese prisoners were among those captured by U. Japanese-held Wake Island under attack by U. Crouching low, U. Marines sprint across a beach on Tarawa Island to take the Japanese airport on December 2, Secondary batteries of an American cruiser formed this pattern of smoke rings as guns from the warship blasted at the Japanese on Makin Island in the Gilberts before U.

    Troops of the th infantry, New York's former "Fighting 69th" advance on Butaritari Beach, Makin Atoll, which already was blazing from naval bombardment which preceded on November 20, Sprawled bodies of American soldiers on the beach of Tarawa atoll testify to the ferocity of the battle for this stretch of sand during the U.

    U.S. troops recapture Philippine island of Corregidor

    During the 3-day Battle of Tarawa, some 1, U. Marines died, and another U. Marines are seen as they advance against Japanese positions during the invasion at Tarawa atoll, Gilbert Islands, in this late November photo. Of the nearly 5, Japanese soldiers and workers on the island, only were captured, the rest were killed.

    Two of twelve U. A Havoc light bombers on a mission against Kokas, Indonesia in July of The lower bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire after dropping its bombs, and plunged into the sea, killing both crew members. Two U. On the left is Pvt. A member of a U. Marine patrol discovers this Japanese family hiding in a hillside cave, June 21, , on Saipan. The mother, four children and a dog took shelter in the cave from the fierce fighting in the area during the U. Dead Japanese soldiers cover the beach at Tanapag, on Saipan Island, in the Marianas, on July 14, , after their last desperate attack on the U.

    Marines who invaded the Japanese stronghold in the Pacific. An estimated 1, Japanese were killed by the Marines in this operation. With its gunner visible in the back cockpit, this Japanese dive bomber, smoke streaming from the cowling, is headed for destruction in the water below after being shot down near Truk, Japanese stronghold in the Carolines, by a Navy PB4Y on July 2, Lieutenant Commander William Janeshek, pilot of the American plane, said the gunner acted as though he was about to bail out and then suddenly sat down and was still in the plane when it hit the water and exploded.

    The amphibious tanks with turret-housed cannons went in in after heavy air and sea bombardment. Army and Marine assault units stormed ashore on Peleliu on September 15, and it was announced that organized resistance was almost entirely ended on September Marines of the first Marine Division stand by the corpses of two of their comrades, who were killed by Japanese soldiers on a beach on Peleliu island, Republic of Palau, in September of After the end of the invasion, 10, of the 11, Japanese soldiers stationed on the island had been killed, only some captured.

    A few seconds after this picture was taken the aircraft was engulfed in flames. The design of the para-frag bomb enabled low flying bombing attacks to be carried out with higher accuracy. Douglas MacArthur, center, is accompanied by his officers and Sergio Osmena, president of the Philippines in exile, extreme left, as he wades ashore during landing operations at Leyte, Philippines, on October 20, , after U. The bodies of Japanese soldiers lie strewn across a hillside after being shot by U.

    Smoke billows up from the Kowloon Docks and railroad yards after a surprise bombing attack on Hong Kong harbor by the U. Army 14th Air Force October 16, A Japanese fighter plane left center turns in a climb to attack the bombers. Between the Royal Navy yard, left, enemy vessels spout flames, and just outside the boat basin, foreground, another ship has been hit.

    A Japanese torpedo bomber goes down in flames after a direct hit by 5-inch shells from the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, on October 25, Landing barges loaded with U. The men aboard the crafts watch the dramatic battle in the sky as they approach the shore. This photo provided by former Kamikaze pilot Toshio Yoshitake, shows Yoshitake, right, and his fellow pilots, from left, Tetsuya Ueno, Koshiro Hayashi, Naoki Okagami and Takao Oi, as they pose together in front of a Zero fighter plane before taking off from the Imperial Army airstrip in Choshi, just east of Tokyo, on November 8, None of the 17 other pilots and flight instructors who flew with Yoshitake on that day survived.

    Yoshitake only survived because an American warplane shot him out of the air, he crash-landed and was rescued by Japanese soldiers. A Japanese kamikaze pilot in a damaged single-engine bomber, moments before striking the U. A closer view of the Japanese kamikaze aircraft, smoking from antiaircraft hits and veering slightly to left moments before slamming into the USS Essex on November 25,