Battle of Leyte Gulf/Unlikely Coincidences

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Battle of Leyte Gulf/Unlikely Coincidences

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Thu Sep 28, 2006 3:34 pm

Mawnin'

Leyte Gulf, October 1944, an all out attack by Japanese Air Forces based on Formosa, Kyushu and the Phillipines assaults the Seventh Fleet.

The Japanese expect, report, believe and let their own people to believe that the massive air assault (to be detailed later) inflicts crippling losses on the American Fleet.

In Fact, 500-1200 Japanese Aircraft of all types are Clawed out of the sky by The Fleets CAP and antiaircraft defenses.

The landings proceed unhindered.

Coincidences and Ironies:

October 24, 1944; A lone Japanese Aircraft slips under radar and airborne surveilance and hits the Light Carrier Princeton with a single 550 Kilogam aerial bomb.

Princetons aircraft are on deck, rearming is underway.

Princeton is in serious trouble and it's Captain goes to the flight deck.

A light Cruiser Pulls alongside to assist.

Suddenly a massive explosion wracks the Princeton.

Over one hundred men engaged in damage control, controlling fires and hosing down the hangar and flight deck array of weapons are killed.

The On deck loads have cooked off.

I recall the Princeton's Captain has his leg blown off in the explosion.

Simultaneously the Light Cruiser's deck is swept by shrapnel and a crewman's leg is blown off, among countless other casualties.

The Captain is later depicted in a late 50's movies.

He is allowed to stay in the Navy, citing John Paul Jones as an example. he is played by the later expatriate actor Sterling Hayden.

The Light Cruiser's crewman mentioned later writes about his loss of limb in WWII Magazine: "One Leg in the Grave".

The Princeton and the Light Cruiser share the same hull design.

I may be able to find the name of the Captain and crewman if I search through my own archives and the Web.

I am also looking for the name of the Light Cruiser.

Later in the Battle of Surigao Strait, billed as the last action of the Heavies, a beleagured and damaged column of Japanese warships tries to force the Strait.

A line of Battleships, most of of which have been raised from the Bottom at Pearl and/or are survivors of Dec. 7, 1941, under Adm. Jesse Oldendourf crosses the decimated Japanese column's 'T" at Surigao Strait.

The only Battleship remaining in the Japanese Force is "Yamashiro" it sinks under a rain of shells.

Yamashiro was designed by an English Naval Architect; Sir George Thurston.

As an aside night surface actions were the exclusive domain of surface ships during world War II.

Even American Submarines attacking at night attacked on the Surface.

Aircraft and particulary carrier based aircraft could not operate effectively against sea surface targets at night at this time.

I know a smattering of other type aircraft do not fit this general rule. (PBM'S PBY'S? P-61 Black Widow, the latter an impressively armed night fighter.)

Surigao Strait, Leyte Gulf, Subayan Sea, San Bernadino Strait and other related surface actions, generally will, I hope, be covered in later threads.

Only one of the Old Battleships was unable to acquire a target at Surigao. Little of the original japanese surface force assigned to force the Strait remained left after repeated attacks by Oldendourf's PT's, cruisers and destroyers.

I am searching for some source books here to flesh this out.

All the above was written from memory except for the date of the action.

In an unrelated bit of trivia while researching a matter for a future thread i came accross the list of the Dead from the Alamo. Among those not tejano was listed the decidedly Anglo name of John Thurston.

Quite sobering really.Image


Birmingham Alongside Pricetion before the explosion.
JT
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Postby RACastanet » Thu Oct 05, 2006 12:31 am

Hello John.

At Leyte, my boss in the late 70s, was the weapons officer aborad the Submarine Dace. The sub attacked the heavy cruiser Maya and blew the bottom out of it with one torpedo using a magnetic exploder. Almost the entire crew of the Maya died. The Dace's wolfpack leader was the Darter, which took out two Japanese capital ships.

The light cruiser involved with the Princeton was the Birmingham.

Two really good books with a lot of detail are 'The Rising Sun' by John Toland, and 'Silent Victory' by Clay Blair Jr. I have read them both several times.Image

Dace Shown above

Rich
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Thanks Rich

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:03 am

Thanks you Rich for fleshing this out.

Dace and Darter were the first ships to make contact with any of the Japanese ships involved in the "SHO" plan for the defense of the Phillipines.

I have updated my remarks and reccommend a great Naval History site that i know you will enjoy. I'd print it out in toto if I had enough ink.

I have "Rising Sun" and i will pull it out again for another read.

Richard Hough's irreplacable book "Dreadnought" helps me immensely.

I was searching thru "Ships of the US Navy in the 20th Century" and searached my collection ot "Military History" and "WWII", and recall seeiing the Birmingham mentioned, but I could not find the article by the Crewman on the Birmingham who not only lost his leg but was blown into the water.

I have perhaps 10,000 pictures from WWII in my Dad's "Pictorical History Of World War II". If I have a date, I can usually find something.

In the intordution to the Battle Of Leyte Gulf, the loss of the Princeton and Gambier Bay are mentioned, but no photos of them followed.

I know they are available, as the Princeton and Birminham were shown quite well in the article I cannot find.Image

Darter Shown Above
JT
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Light Cruiser Birmingham

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:44 am

The original Light Cruiser Birmingham was designated CL-2 and laid down at Fore River Shipyard, Quincy ma.

The Light Cruiser mentioned in the Leyte Gulf thread was laid down at Newport News Va and saw extended service in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific.

She is shown alongside Princeton on the Website dedicated to ships of this name.

Another ship of this name was a Los Angeles Class Attack Submarine retired in 1997.

I looked in "War Movies" (the book) and found no mention of the film I remember. I will look again when I have my glasses on.

Apparently the copy of Military History featuring the same pictures is among the missing.

JT
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Cl22

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:50 am

I located the picture frozen in my memory of Birmingham alongside Princeton.

I will send it to you tommorrow.

If you had not recalled the name of the Cruiser, I would never have found it.

One feels kind of old when one reads about the retiring of Los Angeles Class boats.

Thanks

JT
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Fuso and Yamashiro

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:54 am

"Nihon Kaigun", the site I meant to recommend to Rich, states that American Naval History has the Yamashiro and Fuso (same class) confused.

They were both apparenly part of the Southern wing of the "Sho" plan.

Nihon kaigun states Yamashiro was sunk first and Fuso second.


JTImage


"Fuso" from a drawing on "Nihon Kaigun"
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The Eternal Sea/1955

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Thu Oct 05, 2006 8:28 am

After some research I found the Movie in question.

It was filmed, another coincidence, aboard the Essex Class Carrier "Kearsarge" whose namesake put a melancholy end to the depredations of the Confederate Raider "Alabama" off the French Port of Marseilles.

"The Alabamas fate was sealed, when the Kearsarge she hove into view" refrain: "Roll Alabama Roll".

The characters is Captain John Hoskins, later Rear Admiral.

Like the character in the more recent film about navy divers where the main character, played by cuba Gooding Jr., Hoskins also had a rough time just to stay in the service.

Anecdotally he was apparently on a flight carrying wounded from the Korean conflict and a GI waved what was his left of his left leg in the Admiral's face and says: "see if you can get a laugh out of this"

The Admiral was reputed to have leaned over, roled up his pants, and knocked on his own artificial leg.

I am sure the GI's response may have , in fact, been unprintable but the movie had him merely saying : 'sorry sir".

If i now asked you to name the Raider who sunk the bulk of the New England Whaling Fleet during the Civil war, I am sure a WAG could be made on this information.


JT
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Postby RACastanet » Thu Oct 05, 2006 9:07 pm

Image

Uss Birmingham underway






Image


Birmingham alonside Princton before secondary explosion
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Thanks Rich

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:11 am

I had not intended to ask you to post the pictures as I burden you already too much.


Image

Another picture of Yamashiro
JT
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