mid Sept. 1944

Sept 13, 2014

While I am tempted to continue the chronology of the last several posts and talk about Occupation duty, I have chosen instead to look at Sept. 1944.

After spending the entire month of August, 1944 anchored in the lagoon at Eniwetok (Marshall Islands)  –  during which time the ship was reprovisioned, their Admiral (Crudiv 10) was changed, and their Task Force was changed from TF 58 to TF 38  –  the ship headed south for the raid on enemy stronghold Palau. By Sept. 8, the ship headed north and would stay involved off the shores of the Philippines for months.

The following are excerpts from Frank Studenski’s diary:

September 12, 1944: We hit targets on Negros Island today.  Tomorrow troops will land on Cebu Island.  Radar picked up some bogies and kept us at general quarters.

September 13, 1944:  Today we headed south to assist in the landing on Cebu Island 300 miles south of the Philippines.

September 14, 1944:  Planes continued to hit Cebu Island.  Troops also landed on Palau Island today.  Carrier planes are supporting the troops.

September 15, 1944:  Today we refueled from tankers and received some mail from home.  Army troops also landed on the Island of Morotai and the Marines landed on Peleliu Island.

September 16, 1944:  Today we hit targets on Zomboanga  Island.  This is the rainy season and it rains everyday, as we pass through the rain squalls.

September 17, 1944:  This morning  Army troops landed on Anguar Island.  The weather is wet and rainy.

September 18, 1944:  This morning while at general quarters, bogies were in the area.  Task Force 38.2, which is on the horizon, opened fire. None of the planes came in close enough for us to fire at.

September 19, 1944:  Today bogies are in the area, the planes stayed out of range which kept us at general quarters all day.

September 20, 1944:  Today we are heading for Luzon and tomorrow morning planes will hit Manila.

September 21, 1944:  This morning at 0800 hours planes took off to bomb Manila Harbor.  The task force is about 80 miles from Luzon. The Japs did not discover our ship so far.  Our Task Force 38.1 was assigned to Manila Bay, while the other two groups were assigned to Clark and Nickels fields.  We had two air attacks this morning, but they did not do any damage to the ships.  The rest of the day was pretty quiet, except for bogies all around us.  We were at general quarters all day.  A lot of ships were hit and sinking.  The rest of the day and night were quiet with no bogies around.

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Sept 2, 1945 – War, Politics, and Surrender

Aug 31, 2014

The documents of Surrender were signed aboard the USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay, to much fanfare on September 2, 1945.  Given the finite size of the Bay, not every ship afloat in the Pacific was going to be able to squeeze in and be present during the ceremony.  A little more than 250 Allied ships of all types and sizes were there – from battleships to sloops.

War and Politics, Politics and War  –  as the old song says – go together like a horse and carriage.  A British Task Force arrived in the Pacific late in the Okinawa campaign – at Churchill’s insistence and agreed to by Roosevelt before his death.  The Brits, who still had vast colonial stakes in Asia, did not want the US to single-handedly win the War in the Pacific (despite the fact that we actually had done so).

(Page 333, Victory in the Pacific, 1945  by Samuel Eliot Morison:)

On that day (Aug. 11) Admiral Halsey invited Admiral Rawlings to a conference and suggested the the British flagship fuel from the same tanker as his. While HMS King George V and USS Missouri were fueling, the two admirals and their staffs conferred. Later that day, Admiral Rawlings received word from Admiral Fraser, C. in C. British Pacific Force, that Admiral Nimitz had agreed to incorporate a number of his ships in Task Force 38, for the naval occupation of Japan.  Accordingly, HMS King George V, Indefatigable, Gambia and Newfoundland, with ten destroyers, under Admiral Rawlings, became TG 38.5 (Boston was in TG 38.4) on August 12 and passed under the command of Vice Admiral McCain, CTF 38.  The rest of the British force, excepting Admiral Fraser’s Duke of York, then headed for Manus.

30 British (which included Australian and New Zealander) ships were present in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the Surrender, including the battleship King George V, three cruisers, 10 destroyers and sixteen other vessels.  The crew of the USS Boston, veterans of each Fast Carrier Task Force 58 and Fast Carrier Task Force 38 battles and operations in the Pacific (except Okinawa); survivors of the unparalleled perilous salvage of the Crippled Cruisers after the Battle of Formosa, did not get to experience the Surrender and the closure it brought first-hand.

There was no room for them and their amazing ship in the Tokyo Bay that day.

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AUGUST 15, 1945

August 15, 2014

From Frank Studenski’s Diary:

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.

The next day, the ship celebrated:

Cover of the Armistice Day Celebration (8/16/45)

Cover of the Armistice Day Celebration (8/16/45)

 

And, the menu:

ArmDayMenu

Compliments of Bob Knight

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Aug 9, 1945

Aug 9, 2014

The Boston, along with cruisers: Quincy, Chicago and St. Paul, split off from Task Group 38.4 at 0300 hours, and met up with battleships: Massachusetts, South Dakota and Alabama by 0500 hours and formed a formidable Bombardment Group.  By 1200 (noon), they were within 20 miles of the Japanese mainland in Kamaishi Bay (northern Honshu) for a daylight bombardment of the industrial city (Kamaishi).

Meanwhile, some 800 miles south, Norm Bayley and his unwilling translator approached Kyushu in a commandeered Japanese Army truck.  They were headed for Nagaski, knowing that another Atom Bomb was going to drop.  As they crossed the Inland Sea bridge from Honshu to Kyushu, despite the fact that it was after 11:00 in the morning, the sky was pitch-black and the truck was being pelted by heavy clumps of mud.  Not certain what was going on, they stopped on the side of the road.  The mud was so thick, the windshield wipers could not keep up.  Norm stuck his hand out, and was drenched in mud.  He looked at it, smelled it, and in abject horror, realized that the city of Nagasaki, evaporated in the Hydrogen Bomb fireball, was raining down on him.

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August 6, 1945

August 6, 2014

Discussing the last days of the war, Pat Fedele says this: We were ordered to prepare for ship-to-ship battle with the Japanese. The Quincy, the Boston, the destroyers – not the carriers though, were going to go in and shoot shells at the Japanese Navy.  It got called off.  The very next day, we saw the flash in the sky.

Frank Studenski’s Diary entry for August 6:  The weather is getting better and we are on a course for the Jap mainland.

As the Atom Bomb detonated over Hiroshima a few minutes after 8 am, Captain Norman C. Bayley, USMC, commander of  CA-69’s Marine detachment, was aboard a captain’s skiff in the Inland Sea, along with his unwilling translator, the twice (or thrice) sunken destroyer captain who he calls Takai, headed for the shoreline. His top secret mission was to  provide an eyewitness account of details of the destruction of the first nuclear weapon unleashed in any war:  locate and identify “ground zero”  and record the extent of the damage.  When Norm arrived,  there was nothing to see except for a few buildings that did not evaporate, a few smokestacks still standing, and thousands of badly wounded and horribly burned people streaming toward him and away from the city.

Norm was equipped with a .45, two notebooks and a camera.  I have always assumed he was in civilian clothes – you know, inconspicuous (as inconspicuous as a white American could be in a Japanese industrial/military wartime city.)  In fact, he was in full uniform.  The reasoning was that if he were captured, he might stand a chance of surviving as a prisoner of war if he was in uniform.  If he was in civilian clothes, he would be tortured and executed as a spy.

The second part of his mission was to make his way from southern Honshu to the island of Kyushu and repeat the process for the second bomb, dropped on the 9th of August, over the industrial city of Nagasaki.

I met with Norm again a few weeks ago.  He is 96 years old.  He has not forgotten.

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