Operation Forager

7-10-16

The Task Force (TF58) left the anchorage at Majuro (Marshall Islands) on 6/6/44, beginning operations to take the Mariana Islands from Japan.  They focused on Guam, Tinian and Saipan, bombarding strategic targets and supporting the landings.  By mid June, the activities of the American ships triggered a defensive plan that pitted the bulk of the IJN (Imperial Japanese Navy) in a defensive counter-strike against the Task Force that culminated on June 19 in the “First Battle of the Philippine Sea,” aka “The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.”

After spending 4 days in anchorage at Eniwetok (Marshall Islands), Boston, a unit of Task Group 58.1 departed for the Bonin Islands.  Japan was using Iwo, Chichi and Haha Jima to send planes and reinforcements to Guam, Tinian and Saipan. On July 3, TG58.1 and TG58.2 launched massive airstrikes against the Bonins, damaging and sinking transport ships and planes on the ground. (Two months later, George H Bush, an Avenger pilot on the San Jacinto, was shot down over Chichi Jima.) From July 6 to July 21, Boston’s task group pounded Guam with airstrike after airstrike, supporting the landing that day (and for 20 more days of bombing.)  The men saw plenty of action and plenty of manning their battlestations (General Quarters) until they left the area on Aug 6, arriving at Eniwetok for an extended anchorage.

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The Temple Bell revisited

6-24-16

Vol. 3 of Baked Beans has a section near the back about the Japanese Temple Bell.  I’ve seen it in the Emerald Necklace string of parks in Boston  –  it is in the Back Bay Fens, right across the street from the back of the Museum of Fine Arts.  It is a beautiful bell, whose nearly half a millenium  history includes escaping meltdown by the IJN to be used for artillery casings, a boat ride to San Francisco, a train ride to Boston, being on display for years in the Common / Public Gardens, and a late night roll down back streets in Boston by thieves wanting to sell it for scrap.

I had lots of great stuff about the bell when the Baked Beans books were published, but I was missing a critical piece.  There were newspaper accounts of the bell’s journey by train en route to being presented to the city on behalf of the crew of the USS Boston (by her former skipper, Capt. M.R. Kelley [no relation].  There was collaboration by plankowners Bob Knight and Pat Fedele that the bell had been lowered into the “gooney bird” hangar in the rear of the ship.  But there was no “proof”.

As I mentioned in my last post, Robin Tougas and his brothers had exactly what the doctor ordered.  It was in among dozens of pictures in a trunk of their dad’s Navy stuff (Roland Tougas) and I spotted it when Robin posted a bunch of pictures of his dad on the CA-69 Facebook page.

Salvaged Temple Bell being lowered into the fantail hangar deck CA-69 Boston

Salvaged Temple Bell being lowered into the fantail hangar deck CA-69 Boston

When I first got the picture from Robin, I reached out to our friend Lola Heiler at the Emerald Conservancy.  She responded, after she caught her breath, by forwarding these pictures of the installation of the restored Temple Bell (the email thread includes Rika Smith McNally (the bell’s restorer) and Paul Craeger (documentary director about the Temple Bell(s) journey to America).  I have the email originator’s [Rika McNally] permission to share the photos.  (Permission from Robin and his brothers as well.)

The restored bell (after it was recovered by Boston Police on it’s way to a scrap yard) was installed in its current location on Nov. 15, 2006.

install2

Fumiko, who translated all the writing on the outside of the bell, checks for any writing inside before it is fixed into position.

Fumiko, who translated all the writing on the outside of the bell, checks for any writing inside before it is fixed into position.

Here are a few links you might find interesting: emeraldnecklace.org and resonancefilm.com

peace

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Random stuff

6-4-16

Too young to retire . . . to old to . . . whatever.  So the writing of books about the Boston, and my participation in this blog, and the other Kellys (Bill and Lisa  –  who put a lot of behind-the-scenes energy into the websites)  –  for us, this is all a labor of love.  For us, as I’m sure for all of our readers, we are engaged in the day-to-day activities of our lives first.  The Boston stuff, while important, is second (or third, or fourth, or . . .)

I have these ideas and plans and projects, which may line up and get done, at some time or other, in some order or other:

Book revisions:  New facts, new pictures, new documents have unfolded to me over the last several years, and basically, each book could have a couple of additions.  My first book, A Bird’s Eye View, was created as a giant MS Word file – my all-time most hated software.  I have never been happy with the formatting – especially the photos –   and someday I hope to redo it.  The book is 99%  accurate, but I did make a couple of assumptions about the ship’s location that proved to be incorrect.

Other books:  Currently back-burnered but part-way finished:  a book about the six months of hell starting with the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and ending with Typhoon Cobra.  CA-69 is portrayed as a unit of Task Force 58  –  one capital ship in a force of 100 battle ships.  Wish list: a fourth Baked Beans just about the ship and crew’s role in Occupation Duty.  The Occupation of Japan was a gigantic bit of legal, structural, economic and military organization carried out immediately after the signing of the surrender documents.  I would have to do a boatload of research to do this book justice.     I want to . . .  but it moves to the furthest burner back on the stove.

Website(s):  Behind the scenes maintenance and security of just this one web/blog site is challenging enough. The Kellys are talking about and kinda planning and kinda starting a website about Task Force 58/38.  At any given time during the Central Pacific War, there were about 100 warships divided into (usually) four task groups.  While there were “core” ships in the TFs (Boston being one of the “constant” heavy cruisers), ships were moved around the Pacific like chess pieces.  Ships drifted in and out of the task groups based on operational needs  –  so there are ‘fluid’ ships in and out throughout the War. Point is – there were more than 100 ships and there were more than 100,000 sailors in the TFs at any given time.  To do such a website, we would have to approach this incrementally and have modest expectations.  The potential is there for this to quickly become too much for the Kellys to manage.

Other Things: There are several other things I’d like to do about the Boston, but if I list them, I’ll just get tired and feel like I should be doing more!  But, Pictures: I always encourage folks to get in touch with us and send pictures.  Every now and then I choke a leprechaun and hit the jackpot.  The most spectacular jackpot was when Bernie Oster’s (ship photographer assigned to the Captain) son, Dirk, reached out to me.  He had this stack of pictures . . . might I be interested in seeing them?  Many of his photos grace the pages of Baked Beans Vol 2 and 3.  Invaluable, to say the least.  So a couple of days ago, one of our Facebook page members (Robin Tougas, son of Roland Tougas, and one of my father’s pals) posted a series of pictures on the Facebook page. I took a quick look and was stunned by one of them. After a couple of emails, Robin sent me a higher resolution scan.  It is a picture of the Japanese Temple Bell, confiscated and salvaged from a giant scrap pile at the Yokosuka Naval Base by the officers of the Boston  –  being lowered into the hold on the back of the ship.  Three things will come of this:  1. I’ll post it to this site soon(ish), 2. I’ll force myself to go to the National Archives (help me, Bill!!!) and retrieve more photos (which will include the official Bell photos, I am sure), 3. I’ll have to revise the Baked Beans Books after all.

 

p.s.  I just re-read this post.  Let me clarify:  there were about one hundred warships in Task Force 58 and Task Force 38 at any given time.  It is not accurate to say there were 100 warships in the Pacific at any given time  –  there were thousands and there were scores of Task Forces and Fleets across the length and breadth of the Pacific.  The most notable:  The Third and Fifth Fleet (Task Force 38 and 58) and The Seventh Fleet (aka as MacArthur’s Navy.)

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Remembering ALL folks who served

5-29-16

This National Archives aerial shot, taken Aug 28, 1945, by Lt. G.D. Rodgers, carrier pilot from the USS Shangri-LA, is captioned: American Prisoner of War camp in Japan.  Note: “News?” and “Drop Food” signs painted on roofs.

pow

We salute everyone who has served our country, in war and peace, in combat and in support, at home and abroad.  For those veterans who found that Hell has many dark places, we cannot know what you found out.

steve

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Late May, Early June

5-21-16

May 27-31, 1945:  Today we are tied to the navy yard pier.  We are taking on ammo and provisions.  Liberty is up to 0800 hours, and I am taking advantage of it, returning just before time runs out.  I was A.O.L. on my last liberty and I probably will get extra duty for being late.  After we loaded ship, we pulled away from the pier and anchored inside the breakwater about one mile off shore.  People were jumping ship and stole the whaleboat.  They floated ashore on empty ammo cans.

June 1, 1945:  This morning we weighed anchor pulled out of the breakwater and out to sea.  This is our last look of the California coastline, probably for a long time.  I was looking at the coast line till it was out of sight.  We are on our way to Pearl Harbor.  The ship has a new paint job, blue hull with gray superstructure.  We are minus of over 100 crew members, who are A.O.L.        Frank Studenski

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Excerpted from Samuel Eliot Morison’s Victory in the Pacific 1945 (Vol 14 of his History of United States Naval Operations in World War II):    This attack (the eighth kikusui assault of 27-29 May) coincided with the relief of Admiral Spruance by Admiral Halsey on 27 May, when Fifth Fleet again became Third Fleet, and TF 58, TF 38. Since 17 March Fifth Fleet had been at sea dishing it out and taking the rap, exposed to the threat of deadly air attack day and night.  With a count so far of 90 ships sunk or damaged badly enough to be out of action for more than a month, this Okinawa operation had proved to be the most costly naval campaign of the war, seldom exceeded in any war.

And . . . .  Thus, as the war against Japan drew to its close, Okinawa became a giant air and naval base which was destined to play a major role in the cold war that followed the war with Japan. For it we paid a heavy price.  Thirty-two naval ships and craft had been sunk, mostly by kamikaze attack, and 368 ships and craft had been damaged.  The fleet lost 763 aircraft.  Over 4900 sailors were killed or went missing in action, and an additional 4824 were wounded.  This was by far the heaviest loss in any naval campaign in the war.

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June 7-July 1, 1945:   This afternoon we pulled into Pearl Harbor.  We will be here for about three weeks.  The anchorage and piers are crowded with ships.  We are tied up to a pier at the navy yard.  Every time we pull in or out of Pearl we have to shift into whites.  While in pearl, we had a change of command, we also had an Admiral’s Inspection.  The ship is still Flagship of Cruiser Division Ten.

Our sister ship, the St. Paul, pulled into Pearl and tied up alongside of us.  I ran into an school buddy, who is stationed aboard the St. Paul.  We pull out of Pearl early in the week and are back by the weekend.  We have anti-aircraft practice, and day and night eight inch and five inch firing.  On liberty I went shopping for non-perishable groceries.  I think of those mid-watches, when these snacks will really taste good.  We will be pulling out of Pearl on July 2nd.  Some of the A.O.L. men were picked up and returned to the ship.

Frank Studenski.  RIP.  I’m really glad you decided to keep a diary, Frank.

 

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