Norm Bayley


Readers of my book will recognize the Commanding Officer of the USS Boston Marine Detachment, Norm Bayley. Norm joined the ship late in the War. For a refresher on Norm’s story, check out Vol 3 of Baked Beans.

Norm was a student at Santa Clara University, when his pal, Will McDonough talked him into signing up for the Marine Corps Reserves. Norm was asked several times where he wanted to serve, always answering “Air Corps.” After his training in Camp Pendleton, he found himself aboard a cruiser, bound for the invasion of Guadalcanal. He endured all the horrors that unfolded on that island. Once there, he learned that his pal McDonough (who was actually in the Air Corps), was one of the pilots on Guadalcanal. Japanese ships bombarded the island every night, and one night the saw the distant airfield go up in a massive fireball. He lost his best friend in that attack.

Norm Bayley (r) A rare quiet moment in Guadalcanal

Norm Bayley (r) A rare quiet moment in Guadalcanal.  Photo compliments of Norm’s grandson, Patrick Masson

Norm contracted malaria. His condition was so bad they shipped him off to New Zealand, from whence his body would be shipped back to the States. Miraculously, he did not die in New Zealand, and eventually found himself in an experimental malaria treatment facility in Klamath Falls, Oregon. All the while the Boston was engaged in the many battles of the War in the Central Pacific, Norm fought off bout after debilitating bout of deadly malaria.

And you wonder why they got Malaria . . . in foxholes, up to their shorts in rainwater.

And you wonder why they got Malaria . . . in foxholes, up to their shorts in rainwater.  Norm’s photo, compliments of his grandson, Patrick Masson

Finally deemed “fit for duty,” Norm was assigned to the Boston, replacing the CO of the Marine Detachment. In July of 1945, Norm flew to Pearl Harbor, then to Kawajalein where he boarded one of the Service Ships of TF 30, steaming east to join up with Task Force 58 in their final push against the Home Islands of Japan. (For Norm’s remarkable stories, take a few minutes to re-read about Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Surrender of the Kamikaze Training Base at Katsuura in Baked Beans Vol 3). Norm played significant roles in the Occupation of Japan, including setting up a major Marine Base Camp at Kure. {Someday, I hope to add a Vol. 4 to Baked Beans – focusing just on Occupation Duty.}

September 1945, Officers of the USS Boston accept surrender of Sasagama Chiba, Japan.  Norm Bayley (seated r)

September 1945, Officers of the USS Boston accept surrender of Sasagama Chiba, Japan. Norm Bayley (seated r)

Norm Bayley, (l) in his cabin on the Boston, judging "prettiest girlfriend" contest, in Japanese Waters, Christmas 1945

Norm Bayley, (l) in his cabin on the Boston, judging “prettiest girlfriend” contest, in Japanese Waters, Christmas 1945

Norm Bayley turned 99 last week.


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More October


Posts over the last several years have detailed many aspects of the Battle off Formosa and the subsequent torpedoing of the Canberra (Oct 13), followed by the Houston (Canberra’s replacement in Task group 38.1) being torpedoed not once (first on Oct 14) but twice (then again on Oct 16).

In The End of the Imperial Japanese Navy, Chapter 7, The Battles for Leyte; Phase One,  author Masanori Ito writes:  . . . enemy air attacks hit Formosa, beginning  12 October, and depleted the strength of the Sixth Base Air Force.  These air battles were reported at home as great victories for Japan, but nothing could have been further from the truth.  Fukudome’s air strength suffered such losses in these enemy attacks on Formosa that it was rendered useless for the Sho operation.  [Operation Sho 1 was designed to counter any enemy attempt to invade the Philippine Islands.]

Of the crippling of the American cruisers in the Philippine Sea off the coast of Formosa, Ito continues in the next chapter: Complications began in mid-October with the attacks on Formosa by Admiral Halsey’s fast carrier striking forces.  The air battles off Formosa, according to the reports of surviving Japanese pilots, were a great victory for Japan.  The cumulative results of these reports indicated that one dozen capital ships of the enemy had been sunk and another two dozen heavily damaged.  On the basis of these reports, it was judged that the enemy would not soon return. In reality, only two enemy cruisers had been damaged, while Japan suffered the loss of 174 planes.  These air battles, were, in fact, a great victory for the enemy.

On the basis of these erroneous reports, Admiral Shima’s fleet was ordered out to  pursue the fleeing enemy south of Formosa, and to rescue downed pilots.  Shima’s ships were selected because of their high speed and mobility.  As Shima approached the scene of his intended “mopping-up operation,” however, he was astounded to find two gigantic naval forces, in perfect battle order.  [ Ito is describing Halsey’s “Streamlined Bait” mousetrap . . . the Boston and it’s small task unit was “dangled out” as bait to lure the enemy fleet to come within range of the Cripples to finish them off.  However, within a hundred miles of the Cripples, he waited for the enemy with two of his four task groups  –  carrier planes gassed and loaded with bombs; capital ships on General Quarters ready to unload their five and eight inch guns. ]   His ships could not last five minutes against such an enemy.  Admiral Shima wisely ordered a course reversal for his cruisers and destroyers and, at flank speed of 34 1/2 knots, headed for Amami Shima and comparative safety.


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Early October 1944


In late September, task force planes were bombing Leyte in preparation for the upcoming invasion.  The Boston spent the last five days of the month anchored in Eniwetok.  On Oct 1, the ships headed west toward Okinawa to begin a systematic reduction of Japanese aircraft in bases that could be used against American assault troops.  The task groups hit a typhoon, and for several days they were unable to launch any planes.  On October 10, after refueling the day before, they launched planes against Okinawa.

I have mentioned many times over the years that the Japanese had a series of defense plans to counter American advances  –  all designed to be crushing defeats of the Americans as they advanced across the Pacific.

From The End of the Imperial Japanese Navy by Masanori Ito*   Following the defeat in the Marianas in mid-June 1944, Japanese planners had estimated that it would take eight months for the Navy to be back in fighting trim.  In just half that time Combined Fleet was obliged to sortie with all available forces.  It was shattering to naval staff men when Operation Sho 1 had to be activated so precipitously on October 18, after scarcely three months of training at Lingga [Lingga Roads, near Singapore, was where the Japanese Navy relocated after Task Force raids drove them from the “impregnable fortress” of Truk (Carolines)].  Yet has they stopped to think of it, in view of the amazingly rapid advances the enemy had made in the third year of the war, the Japanese Navy was fortunate to have had even that long for a breathing spell.

Operation Sho 1 was designed to counter any enemy attempt to invade the Philippine Islands. Its tasks may be summarized as follows:

  1. Land-based naval air forces were to meet the enemy invading forces at a distance of 700 miles from the islands; to reduce his strength by means of aerial attack with bombs and torpedoes; and, in cooperation with the Army Air Force, to annihilate the remainder of the enemy force at the invasion point.
  2. Combined Fleet was to assemble at Brunei Bay, north of Borneo; and, at an opportune time, sortie to intercept the enemy’s convoys and escorts.
  3.  Once the enemy had begun landing operations, Combined Fleet was to storm the invasion point with full strength and annihilate the invading forces.
  4. Vice Admiral Ozawa’s carrier division was to assist by coming south from Japan to lure the enemy force northward.  [This was the “decoy carrier fleet” that Halsey had TG38.1 chase during the latter part of the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea.  Boston was a unit of TG38.1.]

All the above factors played out over the rest of October and the Boston was in the middle of all this as both the Battle Off Formosa and Battle for Leyte Gulf (the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea) unfolded.

*The End of the Imperial Japanese Navy by  Masanori Ito  English Translation copyright 1962 by WW Norton Company

Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Octobers on the Boston

Oct 3, 2016

During October, 1943, the ship was in the midst of a month-long shakedown cruise along the Atlantic coast.  One year later, the Boston, a unit of Task Force 38, was in the midst of Operation King, a complex series of landings and strikes against targets in the Philippines that began September 1 and “ended” when the ship departed Iwo Jima in late February (1945.)  During that October (1944), the men endured the aftermath of the Battle off Formosa (the Crippled Cruisers affair) and the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea.  One year later, the men participated in the Demilitarization of Japan  –  ranging up and down Eastern Honshu, capturing arms, destroying suicide speedboats and suicide subs hidden in caves and coves by the hundreds.

I don’t think I can go the whole month without saying something about the Crippled Cruisers and the Tow of the Houston.  I’m guessing I’ve done so each year this website has been in existence.  I promise a slightly different POV this time, however.  I am just returning home from a two week vacation “back east” – during which I got to meet my 3 month old granddaughter (my first).  There was a little side-trip to Ogunquit, Maine, fulfilling an overdue promise to Roxanne that we would spend some time invading antique shops.

I found an awesome and fascinating book, written by a Japanese reporter (Masanori Ito) in 1956, “The End of the Imperial Japanese Navy” at Arrington’s Historical and Military Books (Ogunquit, ME).  The author’s take on the events leading up to (and during) the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea from the Japanese perspective is really interesting.  I guess I’m letting the cat’s head out of the bag a bit:  I’m probably going to present a look at the “Streamlined Bait / Crippled Cruiser” affair rounded out with a different perspective . . .

Speaking of Arrington’s:  I got to chatting with the owner (George Arrington) about my interest in the Central Pacific War.  We talked some about the Boston.  He sells lots of Cruise Books, along with all manner of books, photos, prints, etc., etc.  He’s been in business since 1988 at the same location.  He has never laid eyes on a CA-69 USS Boston Cruise Book.


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Eniwetok


The following are a couple more snippets from the one-month-anchorage (August 1944):

While at anchorage, I had to pull duty on one of the Higgins boats.  I was the bow man, and we had to make a trip to the battleship Indiana to pick up a passenger.  The lagoon was choppy and as we came alongside the starboard gangway, the Coxswain was having trouble coming alongside; we tried 2 more passes, but we could not get close for me to grab the lines.  The Captain happened to be standing on the quarter deck watching us.  He finally  yelled down for us to stay where we were and he would up anchor and bring his ship alongside us.  We were looking for a place to hide, because several hundred people were watching us.  (Frank Studenski)

Being parked in the lagoons was kind of dreary and dull and boring.  Depending on which one you were in, they would send you ashore.  They had a limit – only so many guys at a time from each of the ships.  So what they’d do is give you two warm cans of beer and send you on the island.  But these guys got together – they’d carry a green tablecloth like you’d find in a gambling casino and they set up either a crap game or a card game . . . they had some real games going too.  (George Pitts)

And, later in  the War . . .

We got a chance to swim once in a while when we were anchored in the lagoons.  The Boston was out there for a long time.  Twenty nine months of fighting.  A lot of guys came out and went back  –  they got some relief.  We didn’t.  We were vital to the Navy’s strategy.  After a while we were so homesick and so . . . psycho . . . I guess ‘difficult to get along with’ would be a good way to describe us.  The Admiral put out a warning to the other ships while we were in the lagoons to stay clear of the Boston’s crew when we were on an island.  Really!  It was an order!  And we had to be careful on the lagoons ’cause we were getting into fights all the time with guys from the other ships.   (Pat Fedele)

Lagoon liberty was nothing more than a beer party.  They’d give you two cans of beer and a sandwich.  Sometimes four cans of beer and two sandwiches. There came a time, at one point, where they wouldn’t let us go ashore to the same beach as all the other sailors from the other ships.  Both us and the guys from the New Jersey had to go to our own beach.  We were considered ‘Asiatic’  –  out there too long . . .  trouble.

In one of the lagoons, the Wasp was out there on liberty.  They had beer left over at the end of their liberty and they buried it in the sand.  Some of our guys saw what they were doing.  Our guys went ashore and drank all the beer that they hid.  They knew it was us;  we were the only other ship to come ashore there.  We always had fights after that – the Wasp and the Boston.  We drank their beer – the stuff they were saving for next day.  (John Farkas)



Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment