3 November 1944.
|The Commanding Officer.
|The Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet.
|(1) The Commander Task Group 38.4.
(2) The Commander Task Force 38.
(3)The Commander Third Fleet.
(4)The Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas.
|Action Report - Fleet Action and Operations Against the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS Area, from 22 to 31 October 1944.
|(a) Cominch ltr. Serial 7152 of 29 Oct. 1943.
(b) PacFlt Conf. Ltr. 2CL-44 of 1 Jan. 1944.
|(A) Subject Report.
(B) Copy of AA Action Report, 30 Oct. 1944.
(Signed) CATO D. GLOVER
|Cominch (Air Mail).
|CinCPOA (2) (Air Mail).
|CO USS FRANKLIN.
|CO USS BELLEAU WOOD.
|CO USS SAN JACINTO
|TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Action Report, 22-31 October 1944
|PART I - Introduction.
|PART II - Chronology.
|PART III - Ordnance Material and Equipment.(p.8)
|PART IV - Battle Damage.
|PART V - Air Operations.
|PART VI - Special Comments.(p.17)
|PART VII - Personnel Performance and Casualties.(p.21)
On 22 October ENTERPRISE was a unit of Task Group 38.4. The Task Group was commanded by Rear Admiral Ralph E. DAVISON, USN. Rear Admiral Harold B. SALLADA, USN, Commander Task Unit 38.4.11 was embarked in ENTERPRISE.
The composition of Task Group 38.4 was as follows:
- FRANKLIN (F)
- SAN JACINTO
- BELLEAU WOOD
- NEW ORLEANS
At 0725, 23 October, WASHINGTON, ALABAMA and DesDiv-100 joined this Task Group. (Vice Admiral Willis A. LEE, USN, ComBatPac, embarked in WASHINGTON).
At 0255, 25 October, WASHINGTON, ALABAMA, NEW ORLEANS, WICHITA, DesDiv-100, PATTERSON, BAGLEY and HELM detached this Task Group to Task Force 34.
At 0950, 26 October, NEW ORLEANS, WICHITA and BAGLEY rejoined this Task Group.
ATTACK ON THE JAPANESE FLEET
On 22 October this Task Group, in company with Task Groups 38.1, 38.2 and 38.3, was operating in the vicinity of 15° N., 127° E. During the afternoon Task Groups 38.1 and 38.4 were ordered to proceed to ULITHI for replenishment and proceeded in that direction.
During the night of 22-23 our submarines made contact with units of the Japanese Fleet west of PALAWAN and west of MINDORO. It appeared that these units were preparing to enter the SULU SEA through MINDORO STRAIT with the probable mission of opposing the occupation of the VISAYAN GROUP by United States forces.
During the forenoon of 23 October Task Group 38.4 was ordered by Commander Third Fleet to proceed to a position east of SAMAR and to launch searches at dawn on 24 October, covering the SULU SEA as far west as possible. At the same time, Task Group 38.2 was ordered off SAN BERNARDINO STRAIT and Task Group 38.3 off LAMON BAY, east of central LUZON.
At dawn, 24 October, from a position 60 miles northeast of the southern end of SAMAR, ENTERPRISE launched 16 VF loaded with rockets and 12 VB loaded with 2-500 SAP bombs each in two search/attack groups to search sector 230°-250° to a distance of 325 miles. At about 0915 our aircraft located a Japanese Task Group at 8°-55' N., 121°-50' E. The group was composed of 2 BB (YAMASHIRO and FUSO), 1 CA (MOGAMI) and 4 DD. The two search and attack groups rendezvoused and attacked. Bomb hits were scored on both BB's and rocket hits on the CA and DD's (See attached photographs - Nos. 1, 2, 3).
During the forenoon contact reports were intercepted reporting another enemy force south of MINDORO and entering TABLAS STRAIT. This force consisted of 5 BB, 7-8 CA and CL, and 13-14 DD. During the later forenoon this Task Group, as well as Task Group 38.3, was ordered to close on Task Group 38.2 east of SAN BERNARDINO STRAIT. About noon, after recovery of the morning search/attack groups, the group headed northwest to close Task Group 38.2.
At 1330 ENTERPRISE launched a deck load strike against the enemy force in TABLAS STRAIT. When attacked the enemy force was in two groups of about equal size and was in the SIBUYAN SEA at about 12°-50' N., 122°-30' E. ENTERPRISE group made a coordinated bombing and torpedo attack on a BB identified as the MUSASHI. Several bomb and torpedo hits were scored and after the attack she was reported burning, dead in the water, and down by the bow (See attached photographs - Nos. 4, 5, 6).
There were no enemy aircraft in the vicinity of either force attacked by our group. The enemy anti-aircraft fire was intense but inaccurate and relatively ineffective. During the morning attack one VF was hit in the engine and forced to make a water landing near the enemy force. The only casualty suffered by the afternoon strike was the wing top shot off of one bomber. The pilot of the VF was last seen in a raft and his fate is not known.
During the afternoon attack it was noted that the enemy BB's were using main battery anti-aircraft fire against our planes and some appeared to be phosphorous bursts.
This Task Group rendezvoused with Task Group 38.3 in the late afternoon about 120 miles east of SAN BERNARDINO STRAIT. After sunset both groups proceeded westward at high speed. Task Group 38.3 had been under heavy air attack during the afternoon. The PRINCETON was seriously damaged and that group did not rendezvous until late in the evening.
During the afternoon of 24 October one of our long range land-based search planes made contact with an enemy force some 180 miles west of the north tip of LUZON. This force was on a southerly course and was reported to contain carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers.
At 2010 our groups changed northerly course at high speed to intercept the force to the north.
At about 0100 25 October INDEPENDENCE launched a night search group to search for the enemy to the north.
A bogie was detected at 0115 bearing 295°T, distance 65 miles and ENTERPRISE launched 2 VF(N). At 0215 one of our VF(N) shot down a "MAVIS" patrol seaplane bearing 210°T, distance 40 miles from the formation.
At about 0205 an INDEPENDENCE search plane reported contact on two groups of enemy ships at about 16°-50' N., 125°-10' E. which was about 120 miles north of our position. The enemy was reported to be on an easterly course. The search plane evidently did not maintain contact on this force as no further reports were received until after a dawn search was launched and made contact.
At 0540, from position 15°-45' N., 126°-05' E., ENTERPRISE launched 7 VT and 10 VF search planes. Our sectors were 190°-220° and 250°-290° to the PHILIPPINE Coast. Shortly thereafter we launched all remaining planes as a strike group to orbit and await contact. It was not until about 0715 that a search plane from another carrier contacted and reported the enemy force about 130 miles bearing 340°T from our force. Our strikes then proceeded to the attack. The enemy had by this time turned north and was composed of 1 CV, 3 CVL type, 2 BB (with flight decks aft), 2-3 cruisers and 8-9 destroyers. Only a few enemy aircraft were encountered around this force during the first strike and none thereafter. This indicates that the aircraft of this force had been flown into the PHILIPPINES the previous day, or that it was planned to fly aboard air groups from the PHILIPPINES to pursue our forces, which the enemy expected to be beaten and retiring.
Our losses for the 25th were 3 VF, one shot down by an enemy plane and two by anti-aircraft fire, with all three pilots rescued.
Three deck load strikes had been made as scheduled. By the time the third strike returned aboard three carriers had been sunk and the fourth was in a sinking condition; the two battleships had been hit; and several destroyers were reported sunk and others damaged. One cruiser was reported as being apparently undamaged and at this time authority was requested of the Task Group Commander to launch 16 VF armed with 1000 pound AP bombs to stop the cruiser in order that our surface forces might finish it off that night. This was the last air attack delivered on this enemy force and several of our planes made night landings on their return. The special VF strike attacked the cruiser with the first 8 planes and obtained several hits, inflicting such heavy damage that the remaining 8 planes shifted their attack to a BB. It is believed that the cruiser stopped by our VF strike was one of the ships sunk that evening by our surface forces.
During the day's action the enemy made good a course of about 020°T with our force in hot pursuit and closing until at sunset only some 30-40 miles separated us from the damaged stragglers. The escaping BB's and destroyers were still a hundred miles ahead and making about 20 knots. At 2200 the Task Group in company with Task Group 38.3 began steaming to the southeast to the vicinity of 16°-30' N., 129°-00' E. to fuel on 26 October.
After fueling on the 26th, Task Group 38.4 proceeded to a point about 100 miles off SAN BERNARDINO STRAIT arriving at dawn on the 27th. Search planes from another carrier reported a cruiser dead in the water off the southern tip of MINDORO and at 1015 ENTERPRISE launched 12 VF loaded with 500 pound GP bombs to attack this ship which was 330 miles distant. The ship proved to be a DD and was hit by four bombs, left burning fiercely, and probably sank. This same flight also strafed and burned a DE.
During the afternoon of the 27th, we received replacement VF and VB aircraft and pilots from carriers of Task Group 38.3 to bring our strength to the new complement of 54 VF, 15 VB and 12 VT.
SEARCHES AND AIR PATROLS
This Task Group also maintained a TCAP over LEYTE on the 27th. ENTERPRISE afternoon TCAP shot down 1 VAL and 1 OSCAR.
On the 28th and 29th this group moved south to a position off the north of SURIGAO STRAIT and maintained a TCAP over LEYTE, flew searches over the SULU SEA area for enemy surface forces, and flew searches over the sea area off SAMAR where our CVE forces had been engaged by the enemy on 25 October.
On the 28th the morning target patrols encountered some unexpected airborne opposition. The last 2 planes in one team were jumped by a superior enemy formation which had considerable altitude advantage. Before our pilots had an opportunity to maneuver into firing position, the enemy had disabled them. One pilot was forced to bail out and the other made a water landing while his plane was afire. One (and probably the other) was picked up subsequently by friendly forces. Four enemy planes were shot down and one was damaged.
Upon returning, the last TCAP encountered a dangerous frontal squall about 20 miles from base. Attempts to find an opening were negative. Consequently, pilots who had commenced to run low on fuel were forced on instruments. Planes landed from this mission 5 1/2 to 6 hours after takeoff. One landed on another carrier with 6 gallons of fuel remaining.
On the 29th, a 4-plane pre-dawn TCAP shot down 2 (plus 1 probable) enemy aircraft over the channel separating LEYTE and SAMAR. The enemy was apparently bent on a dawn attack on our newly acquired fields and failed to detect the presence of our planes which had an altitude advantage. Remaining TCAP's and search missions during the day were negative. Some of our TBM's landed on TACLOBAN Airfield and ferried back 6 pilots who had landed there several days previous. Three of the late landing TBM's at the field were obliged because of an alert to take-off under protest. A line squall obscuring vision was over the area with the result that a mid-air collision occurred involving two of our planes. Fortunately, the pilots successfully landed without injury. Weather complications also beset the afternoon returning TCAP and search pilots, forcing them on instruments. One plane was again obliged to land on another carrier.
AIR ATTACK AGAINST T.G. 38.4
During the later morning of 30 October, several bogies were picked up by radar, but disappeared from the screen before interception could be made by patrols on station from other carriers.
At 1400, a 13 plane VF group took off to provide air protection for tankers. The group leader, because of engine trouble, was forced into the water a few minutes after taking off. He was quickly recovered by a DD.
At about 1420, the ship went to General Quarters upon the appearance of an estimated 8-plane bogie very high and closing about 16 miles distant. During the next half hour the ENTERPRISE fought for her life against one of the most vicious enemy attacks she had ever encountered.
A copy of the ship AA report attached, covers the details of the encounter. Suffice to say, "suicide" attack must have been the order of the day for the Jap pilots. Two enemy planes dove toward the FRANKLIN, disposed off the port beam of the ENTERPRISE. The first plunged in just aft of the island structure, immediately starting a dangerous looking large fire. Deep penetration had taken place as orange sheets of flames burst from the deck followed by huge quantities of black smoke. The second plane pulled out over FRANKLIN's bow, momentarily heading toward the ENTERPRISE while our port guns opened up on it. It is believed the plane was hit as it swerved toward the BELLEAU WOOD where it crashed on the after portion of the flight deck. Immediately a great blaze billowed up on the BELLEAU WOOD enveloping a mass of planes. About 8 minutes later, another enemy plane plunged from high altitude toward the SAN JACINTO. The ENTERPRISE starboard guns were among those firing at this attacker, but it is not believed our guns scored a hit. The plane plunged into the sea missing the port bow of the SAN JACINTO by a narrow margin. Shortly after, another plane (and the last observed attacker) started its dive directly toward the ENTERPRISE. The death-dealing plane plane was repeatedly hit by both our 20MM and 40MM guns. Suddenly, it burst into flames, slightly changing its direction as it rolled over and plunged into the sea less than 25 yards off the port quarter. It had passed from starboard to port just aft of the island structure, clearing the heads of our continually firing port gunners by about 10 feet.
The ENTERPRISE was spared damage during this attack by her good gunners who had the advantage of having the attacker approach from the beam. Obviously this type attack, as any other dive bombing attack, is best countered by placing the attacker on the beam, but the time required to turn the ship demands early detection of the raid.
At 1500, the ship was enabled to launch its interrupted 19-plane scramble, but no enemy planes were left in the air. A bogey was detected on our screen about 1715, 18 miles distant, but soon disappeared.
This day's action should leave no doubt of the determined manner in which the enemy intends to defend his ill-gotten PHILIPPINES. Suicide tactics will no doubt be continually employed as we approach his homeland. Improved Fighter Direction including faster interception at a further distance from the ship, expanded CAP's, and a greater utilization of all fire power at farther ranges by all caliber guns are suggested as possible remedies to offset this lethal menace.
The following day, 31 October, the ENTERPRISE refueled and steamed toward ULITHI. Meetings were held to discuss the previous day's action and steps that might be taken in the future to combat similar enemy tactics.
- Aerological Data
Subject operations were carried out under weather conditions influenced by the movement and intensity of the Equatorial Front. Throughout most of the operating period, aircraft operations were carried on under average to good flying conditions. Partly cloudy skies with cumulus predominating were encountered in both the cruising and target areas. Surface winds were moderate and varied in direction from Northeasterly to Southeasterly.
On 28 October, the Equatorial Front passed over the cruising area. Aircraft operations on that date were hampered by heavy squalls, thunderstorms, low visibility, and gusting winds.
During 29 October, a small, moderately intense typhoon developed in the LEYTE GULF area and moved Northwestward across Northern LEYTE and Southern SAMAR ISLANDS. High winds, thunderstorms and a low overcast precluded aircraft operations over that area during the night of 29 October and during most of the day of 30 October. Separate and complete weather reports will be contained in the Monthly Aerological Record for October.
Note: As this report was transcribed from microfilm records, the photos and track chart could not be included in this reproduction.
|Rem. on Hand
|Gun: (Attack of 30 October)
All of the above ammunition gave good performance. Of particular interest, was the excellent torpedo performance which was outstanding compared to torpedoes without the ring tail. Of the 20 dropped, difficulty was experienced with only one which hung up in the bomb bay and did not release until after the run was over. All made hot, straight and normal runs and one of these was in spite of a release at about 1200 feet altitude and about 300 knots. The pilots are reasonably certain of numerous hits.
The eight torpedoes dropped against the YAMATO Class BB were set for 12 feet. This was probably too shallow a setting for this class of ship. On the following day, 16 feet was used against CVs, CVLs and BBs of the ISE Class with better effect.
On both the 24th and 25th, the SB2Cs carried two 1000# bombs, either two SAP or an AP and SAP. The double load was found feasible on this ship while experimenting with a substitute for 1000# SAP trunion bands. While at MANUS, during our last re-arming, the ship was only able to obtain about 30 such bands. A 500# GP trunion band was tried on a 1000# SAP bomb by using ordinary 3/8" bolts, 5" long. The bolt length was necessary to permit pulling the band together. This rig resulted in a slight displacement of the trunions that was not sufficient, however, to affect accuracy. With these bands it was recognized that the normal bomb bay arrangement for two 500# GP bombs could be used and, therefore, two 1000# SAP bombs could easily be carried. Shortly after this discovery, word was received of a similar effect accomplished by cutting off the long trunions on the 1000# SAP band.
The mixed load of AP and SAP bombs apparently was effective against combatant ship targets.
Pilots report the use of enemy BB main batteries as AA guns at long ranges. Apparently, ranges in the neighborhood of 25,000 to 30,000 yards were used, permitting the relatively slow train and elevation of the turrets to stay on the target. This fire was surprisingly accurate and somewhat disturbing though no damage was sustained by the planes so attacked. The projectiles were, from all indications, of the phosphorus type.
Another development exhibited by the Japanese was the use of colored bursts, probably for spotting purposes. Blue and orange bursts, as well as black and white, were used.
In connection with the phosphorus projectiles, one pilot reported "double" bursts consisting of a small puff followed very shortly by the main burst. These bursts were distinct but apparently from the same projectile. It is probable that this effect was caused by a slight delay in the bursting of the canister after ejection, the first burst being the ejection of the canister from the projectile. A similar effect is sometimes noted with our own white phosphorus projectiles.
It is apparent that the Japanese are doing considerable experimentation to improve AA performance. The above developments are along the lines experienced in the Southwest Pacific Area and reported in Flak Information Bulletin No. 1.
- Own Ship:
- Ship: None.
- Aircraft: 6 VF aircraft were lost in combat, 3 of them from AA fire and 3 from enemy planes. It is thought that all pilots have been reported recovered except one who was last seen in good condition in a rubber boat.
- Enemy Forces.
- Aircraft: A total of 12 enemy aircraft was shot down by planes from this ship. Included were 5 Oscar, 2 Fran, 1 Judy, 1 Tojo, 1 Val, 1 Mavis and 1 Zeke. One further plane was probably shot down and two damaged. In addition, the ship's AA batteries shot down an enemy plane in the action on 30 October.
- Naval Vessels: Planes from this ship
damaged the following vessels, many of them seriously. Some of them were also damaged by
planes from other ships in the Task Force. Many are believed to have sunk, but it is
impossible to allocate credit to the planes of any one ship for such sinkings.
- 24 October (A.M.) - 2 BB (FUSO and YAMASHIRO), 1 CA (MOGAMI), 4 DD.
- 24 October (P.M.) - 1 BB (MUSASHI), 1 cruiser, 2 DD.
- 25 October - 1 CV (class unidentified but length in excess of 800 ft.), 1 CVE (OTAKA class), 1 BB (ISE class), 3 cruisers, 4 DD.
- 27 October -1 DD.
- Merchant Vessels: 1 small AK was destroyed and another severely damaged during these operations.
- Ground Targets: None attacked.