V J Day September 2, 1945

9/2/17

Not all Task Force ships could fit into Tokyo Bay for the historic day.  Many of the warships that had endured all those Battles and Campaigns were stacked up in Sagami Wan Bay outside of Tokyo Bay waiting for a “spot” to drop anchor and bear witness to the Signing of the Articles of Surrender.  The day was rife with politics and political decisions  – not the least of which was the presence of General MacArthur, the polarizing character who was a threat to run against Harry Truman in the next election.  The selection of the Battleship Missouri (the johnny-come-lately that entered the Pacific War just in time for Okinawa)  –  Harry Truman’s home state  . . .  and last, but not least, the British task group ships, who finally got around to go the Pacific and joined TF58  –  around the same time as the Missouri (mop-up duty).

No room for the Boston.

Putting politics aside, I smile as I transcribe Frank Studenski’s diary entries for the couple of days leading up to the 2nd:

August 31, 1945   Today is another normal day.  This bay is filled with the Pacific fleet.  This afternoon some of the ships weighed anchor and entered Tokyo Bay.
Anchored in Sagami Wan before entered Tokyo Bay [sic], the off duty watch had movies on the fantail at 1800 hours.  May watch was on Quad 5.  We were still on Condition Three and I was Gun Captain, I wanted to see the end of the movie and told the phone talker to stay awake, if air defense checks the quads.  I went back to se the end of the movie and about a half hour later my name was called over the P.A. and was told to report to the quarter deck on the double.  The phone talker fell asleep and air defense could not raise Quad 5.  I was given a deck court martial for violating General Order #5 (I shall not leave my post without being properly relieved.)  I was given ten days breqad and water with full rations every three days.  I’ll never forget those ten days.

September 1, 1945   Almost half the ships left here and are now anchored in Tokyo Bay.

September 2, 1945   Today is “V. J. Day” with the signing of the Peace Treaty.  I am looking forward to some liberty in Tokyo.

 

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Mid August, 1945

8/12/17

August 10, 1945    We met the carriers this morning, the water was a little choppy and while recovering our 4-SCI Seahawks, one of them cracked up, turned over and sank, we lost the pilot.  During the night while on mid-watch, I heard the first peace rumor.  It spread through all of the gun crews on watch and created a lot of excitement through out all of the gun mounts.  Everyone coming off watch was not able to sleep.

August 11, 1945     Bad weather held up our operations today, we did not hear any more news on the surrender.

August 12, 1945     Planes took off to hit northern Honshu, no Jap planes came out after us, a few planes were shot down over the target.

August 13, 1945    Planes took off to hit the Tokyo area this morning.  C.A.P. shot down several Jap planes.  Quite a few planes came out after us.  Peace rumors flew back and forth and we will retire from the area for a few days.

August 14, 1945    Today we moved out of the Tokyo area and will not launch any planes against Japan.  We have our C.A.P. on patrol and there are a lot of bogies in the area.

August 15, 1945     This morning we returned to the Tokyo area and the carriers had launched their planes for the first strike when we heard the final news of the Japanese surrender.  So the war ended for the U.S.S. Boston, 21 months after we left home port.

War Diary U.S.S. Boston CA69  by  Frank Studenski

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Souvenirs from the Ship

7/21/17

My dad did not have a Cruise Book.  Apparently, they are incredibly rare  –  a limited number were printed (once only – no reprints.)  The National Archives has a copy.  Some crewmembers” families possess one . . . a memento of their loved one’s service aboard the great ship.  While I knew of their existence, I had never seen one until I met Pat Fedele.  Pat has a copy.  None of the other plankowners I met had one.  After all those years (60+), no one seemed to remember who got them, how they got them, or why.  I was curious why my father didn’t have one . . .  (By the way, Pat, loaned me his book  –  let me take it home for a couple of weeks so I could scan the pages.  Another reason I love this guy.  He was willing to trust a stranger with that prized possession.)

Fast forward a couple of years.  I visited Frank Studenski in his home in N.C.  There on the wall was this great black and white etching of the Boston, framed with handles on the side.  I recognized it immediately.  One just like it hung in my room when I was a kid.  (It had long since disappeared.)  The protective glass on Frank’s copy was missing, but the right-angle handles were intact.  You see, it is a tea tray.

I asked Frank about the Cruise Book.  He didn’t have one.  I asked him about the “Boston Tea Tray” that was hanging on his wall and he said he wasn’t sure why, but some guys got a Cruise Book, and some guys got the picture.  A few years later Frank died.  In one of the strangest twists of fate that I have experienced, Frank’s tea tray (minus the handles) came into my possession.  I am humbled and honored to own this, but it came to me in a cloud of great sadness.

CA-69 line art etching inscribed: Frank Studenski S 1/C
USS BOSTON

Speaking of souvenirs from the ship . . .  Bob Knight told me that when they mustered off the ship all they could take with them was whatever fit inside their duffel bag.  Bob, like many others, had to leave behind many items that he had saved for his return to civilian life.

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Fourth of July, 1944

July 1, 2017

From George Pitts’ diary:

From Frank Studenski:

July 4, 1944:  This morning at 0500 our planes were launched to bomb the bases and air strips of Iwo Jima.  At 1530 hours the Boston, Canberra, San Juan, Santa Fe, Mobile and about 15 destroyers went in to bombard the island. We fired our 8″ and 5″ guns.  We got in close to fire 5″ shells.  We launched one of our catapult planes for spotting duty over the target.  We were hitting the southern airfield where almost seventy aircrafts were lined up.  We also hit gas storage tanks.  We were hitting all our assigned targets.  Looking through the binoculars, I could see a lot of planes on the field blowing up.  There was a lot of large fires and explosions.  The smoke was thousands of feet into the air.  A ship was sighted leaving the harbor, so we immediately opened fire on her, a destroyer went in to finish her off.  One of the planes from the Santa Fe that was spotting for us was shot by three Jap fighters.  The crew was picked up by one of our submarines.  All together this day 116 Jap planes were destroyed and five ships were sunk and several damaged.  This was a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July, killing Japs.

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Battle of the Philippine Sea

6-25-17

The (First) Battle of the Philippine Sea (6/19 & 20/44) was a major victory for the ships of Task Force 58.  When we began the invasion of Saipan (6/15/44) – the opening round of our Marianas’ campaign, the Japanese Navy headed north and east to disrupt the landing(s) and destroy the American fleet.  Their plan was to whack the task groups from their carriers to the west, and from land based planes launched from bases on Guam.  Planes were supposed to be on the ground ready to launch, and planes were supposed to be arriving in great numbers from the Bonins (Iwo and Chichi Jima).  Unfortunately for them, we had been striking airbases relentlessly.  There weren’t any available Japanese planes to speak of. (The Boston’s group was called back from bombing Iwo Jima on June 17 at full speed to return to the Task Force.)  TF58 was forming up into a gigantic Battle Formation west of Guam, in anticipation of the arrival of the Japanese Fleet.  A fifth task group, made up of battleships and called the Battle Line, was added.  We were going to have a kick-ass ship-to-ship battle, old-school, like two man-o-wars lining up across from each other and firing their cannons.

None of that worked out as planned.  Instead, the Japanese carriers, desperate after searching for the American ships for days, finally spotted part of one of the task groups and launched all their fighters.  They were way out of range and could not strike American ships and return home (not enough gas).  Pilots were instructed to strike the Americans, then land on Guam, refuel and then strike again on their way home.  The Task Force commanders, many of them old-school Navy guys, were itching to sink some Japanese ships.  What developed instead, was wave after wave of Japanese fighter and bomber planes getting intercepted and picked off by the better-trained and more seasoned Navy pilots.  The resulting lopsided disaster came to be known as the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.  We destroyed over 400 Japanese planes that day.  The Imperial Japanese Navy never recovered from the devastating loss.

. . .  The fleet refueled early in the morning of 20 June and set course for Nakagusuku Bay, Okinawa. At 1710 a reconnaissance plane reported the sighting of two enemy carriers accompanied by ten other warships, some 200 miles to the rear of the Japanese force.  Hoping for a break, at 1900 Ozawa ordered Kurita’s Second Fleet to prepare to engage in night battle.  Before that order could be carried out, however, enemy planes came sweeping down on the Mobile Fleet to score direct hits on carriers Zuikaku, Junyo, Ryuho, and Chiyoda; and carrier Hiyo, still adrift after it’s torpedoing by an enemy submarine, was sunk by aerial bombs.

Thus the Japanese Navy’s last real opportunity to destroy the enemy fleet ended in tragic defeat. With two out of three fleet carriers and one out of three light carriers lost, together with the destruction of nearly 400 carrier planes, it would be almost impossible to reconstitute the Mobile Fleet.  In contrast to Japan’s tremendous losses in this two-day naval battle, the United State’s Navy suffered damage to battleships South Dakota and Indiana, carriers Bunker Hill and Wasp, and heavy cruiser Minneapolis, and lost slightly more than 100 planes.      [Excerpted from “The End of the Imperial Japanese Navy” by Masanori Ito.]

 

 

 

 

 

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