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Time-Line, Events, & Comments
0842 Appearing from behind a rain squall a well balanced and organized flight of taffy aircraft begin a concentrated effort against the four remaining Japanese heavy cruisers. They focus their weapons upon CA’s CHIKUMA and CHŌKAI.
U.S. Navy Photograph
Very rare photograph of a Japanese heavy cruiser under attack by Taffy aircraft.
Probably HIJMS CHIKUMA or HIJMS CHŌKAI
EVENT Two Japanese heavy cruisers are now rapidly closing on the carrier formation.
EVENT Unable to rely upon his destroyers for further attacks, RADM Sprague orders the destroyer escorts to engage the cruiser line. Destroyer escorts ROBERTS and RAYMOND, on the port side of the escort carriers, immediately engage the cruiser line. On the starboard quarter, destroyer escorts DENNIS and BUTLER cross the escort carrier formation, lay smoke, and join the attack on the lead cruiser.
EVENT Destroyer Escort ROBERTS' effective 5-inch gun fire, about 300 rounds from two turrets, knocks out CHIKUMA's #3 8-inch turret, destroying her bridge and starting fires aft.
A/C During its free-for-all with CHIKUMA, the two gun mounts on ROBERTS were literally firing everything they had without consideration for type of ammunition. As a result, CHIKUMA was hit with armor-piercing, common antiaircraft, proximity fuse, star shells, and plugged target projectiles.
EVENT Destroyer Escort RAYMOND closes to within 5,900 yards of the cruiser line, guns firing.
EVENT Destroyer Escort BUTLER, running abeam of CA CHIKUMA, attempts to launch her torpedoes but cannot obtain a suitable firing position. BUTLER hits CHIKUMA with 5-inch gun fire.
LCDR Robert W. Copeland, USNR
"...these two guns, No. 1 and No. 2, beat a regular tattoo on the Jap cruiser's upper works. The boys took the ammunition just the way it came up the hoist, nobody cared what it was. They just took it as it came. Five-inch blind loaded and plugged, 5-inch AA, 5-inch common, 5-inch AP, 5-inch stars hells, 5-inch proximity fuse: just whatever came up the ammunition hoist. It was fodder for the guns. They threw it in as fast as they could get it. It was very odd to see those star shells banging off over there in the daylight.
The boys set up a terrifically rapid rate of fire. We carried 325 rounds per gun and it's almost unbelievable that from the time those guns received word to commence firing till the time they ceased firing...it was a period of only thirty-five minutes...gun No. 2 had put out 324 rounds of 5-inch ammunition."
EVENT Destroyer Escort DENNIS' #2 5-inch gun mount becomes inoperative due to a broken breach. She remains in action with her remaining gun.
0843 TBS - Taffy 3 v DERBY, "THERE ARE 8 SHIPS CLOSING ON MY STARBOARD QUARTER." .... v Taffy 3, "ROGER OUT."
A/C This was the IJN Destroyer Squadron 2 led by CL NOSHIRO.
0844 Taffy II completes the launching of their second air strike.
U.S. Navy Photograph
Tragic sight - carrier USS GAMBIER BAY (CVE 73)
Contemporaneous U.S. Navy caption
EVENT The Japanese heavy cruisers continue to concentrate their accurate fire on CVE GAMBIER BAY. She is now far behind the other escort carriers and is easy prey for the Japanese warships as she is just barely making way on one engine. The next shell strikes the pilot house, killing all men in it and, as a result, the ship loses all steerage way. The same salvo enters the port engine room and pierces No. 3 boiler and the steam generating tubes, leaving the escort carrier with no propulsion capability.
0845 Engaged in an uneven duel with the heavy cruisers, DD HEERMANN is hit by 8-inch gunfire. Four men on the bridge are killed including the helmsman.
0845 TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, ‘SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT SHACKLE YOKE WILLIAM EASY UNSHACKLE TURN, OUT."
A/C Ships of the task unit are ordered to course 180° T.
EVENT Destroyer Escort ROBERTS passes DD HOEL, which is dead in the water. Severely damaged, burning, and listing to port with her fantail awash, her crew can be seen abandoning ship.
A/C Lieutenant Commander Copeland of ROBERTS knew it was against Navy Regulations to provide assistance to a disabled warship during battle without permission from the CTU and therefore did not come to the aid of HOEL's men.
CDR Amos T. Hathaway, USN
"We were under fire from four of the enemy ships at this time. I realized that it was four ships by the fact that there were several colors of splashes. There were red, yellow, green, and no color splashes around us. It looked like a rainbow. There was more red than anything else, in fact it looked kind of rosy, looking through it, although I guess it was probably rosier for the Japs than it was for us at this particular moment.
All they hit us was - they had one 8-inch hit in the uptakes and one down on the keel, one about the waterline forward of gun mount No. 1 and one hit our sound dome."
Because of the dire predicament the escort carriers were in, and the number of lives involved should a CVE be sunk, he decided not to aid HOEL but continue on and further engage the Japanese warships.
0846 TBS - Taffy 2 v FAMOUS, "I HAVE LANDED 8 VT AND WILL LOAD AND LET YOU KNOW WHEN THEY ARE READY TO TAKE OFF."
EVENT Destroyer JOHNSTON engages BB KONGŌ at 7,000 yards and scores about 15 hits with her remaining 5-inch guns. Battleship KONGŌ returns fire and misses.
A/C Throughout the battle the Japanese heavy warships are forced to fire on the small American destroyers and destroyer escorts through smoke and rain, often unable to tell friend from foe. In this case, JOHNSTON is three and one-half miles from KONGŌ, is under limited propulsion, and still manages to engage KONGŌ without being hit in return.
EVENT Aircraft from Taffy II arrive and focus on CA SUZUYA. She is fatally crippled after several hits.
A/C SUZUYA was the second heavy cruiser to be hit during the Battle Off Samar. She never recovered from this damage and became a choice target of the American aircraft throughout the engagement.
EVENT Heavy cruiser CHIKUMA falls prey and is hit by aircraft from CVE GAMBIER BAY's Composite Squadron VC-10.
EVENT Destroyers HAYASHIMO and HAMANAMI of Destroyer Squadron Two are damaged by aircraft.
ARM3c Louis Vilmer Jr., USNR
"Ensign Shroyer, John Britt, and myself were among the first to be launched when the order was given to clear the flight deck. When Ensign Shroyer made his first pass at a Japanese ship, he fired rockets and 50 caliber machine guns. Gunner Britt also fired his 50 caliber gun, from the ball turret. When we broke through the clouds we were extremely low and did not have enough power to pull up and away...we were finally able to pull away and gain altitude. Ensign Shroyer told me over the intercom that he had been unable to open the bomb bay doors with the control in the cockpit and instructed me to try the one in the radioman's compartment. It worked. Shroyer chose the TONE Class cruiser and began his run firing his 50 calibers. I opened the bomb bay doors when instructed. When the bombs cleared the bay, Shroyer was able to close the doors with his control. Britt began firing his turret gun as we pulled up and away. I immediately turned to the notch window under the plane’s tail to observe the hits. The bombs DID NOT hit the cruiser. They hit the water just a few feet behind it and went off as depth charges. Planes following us reported that the ship stopped dead in the water."
A/C The aircraft of Taffy II were now in the area enmasse, effectively attacking the ships of Centre Force. This was the first coordinated and effective large-scale air strike of the day; ultimately responsible for finishing off two heavy cruisers and damaging several other warships.
0847 TBS - Taffy 2 v CIRCUS, "I HAVE LAUNCHED 7 VF AND 4 VT LOADED WITH FISH. HAVE TWO MORE TO LAUNCH IN FIFTEEN MINUTES."
0847 TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT TURN SHACKLE GEORGE NAN BAKER UNSHACKLE. DERBY ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v DERBY, "WILCO, OUT."
A/C Ships of the task unit are ordered to course 220° T.
0847 Enemy salvos fall close aboard DE DENNIS on her starboard quarter. Eight enemy warships are reported closing on the starboard quarter.
A/C These were the seven destroyers of Destroyer Squadron TWO led by Light Cruiser NOSHIRO.
0848 Admiral Halsey, urged on by VADM Kinkaid’s pleas for help, cancels his previous order to Task Group 38.1. He orders VADM McCain to steam southwest at maximum speed and to launch an air strike against Centre Force. Task Group 38.1 is presently refueling, about 400 miles distant to the southeast.
0848 TBS - CATNIP v Taffy 3, "ARE YOU STAYING WITH US?"
U.S. Navy Photograph
USS GAMBIER BAY (CVE 73) dead in the water and near-missed by heavy shells
0850 Escort Carrier GAMBIER BAY, dead in the water, is hit by 8-inch shells nearly every minute. With fires and flooding increasing by the minute, Captain Vieweg realizes his ship is lost. Reluctantly, he orders all hands to abandon ship. Although CVE GAMBIER BAY is being systematically destroyed by the Japanese warships with no hope of survival, the captain refuses to strike her colors.
A/C GAMBIER BAY's crew would spend over two days in the water before being rescued.
0850 TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT TURN SHACKLE NAN CHARLIE KING UNSHACKLE, OUT."
A/C Ships of the task unit are ordered to course 240° T.
0850 VHF - Taffy 3 v Planes, "PRIMARY TARGET IS CRUISER ON PORT QUARTER. ATTACK! ATTACK!."
CAPT Walter V. R. Vieweg, USN
"During the period from this first hit, which was around 0810 in the morning, until we sank, which was about 0910 in the morning, we were being hit probably every other minute. The hits that went through the upper structure did very little damage since the shells did not explode inside the ship. However, those shells which hit either just short or below the water line did explode and the result was that in very short order I had a flooded after engine room I had to secure which left the ship helpless in the water and without any power to provide water pressure.
At about 0850 with the ship helpless in the water and with this division of cruisers passing close by and other ships of the main formation passing close by on the other side (destroyers), and being fired at from all sides, I ordered the ship abandoned. As we were abandoning ship the enemy ships in various directions were still firing."
0850 Furthest west in the Japanese formation Destroyer Squadron Ten begins its approach towards the escort carriers for a planned torpedo attack.
0850 Destroyer Escort DENNIS is hit by an 8-inch armor-piercing shell. It punches a clean hole through her, port to starboard, just above the water line. The damage control party in the CPO Quarters is killed and the forward ammunition magazine is flooded.
A/C DENNIS’ Deck Log read, "0850 Enemy salvoes continue to approach. Received direct hit on port side three feet above the first platform deck at frame 35, passing through deck and out starboard side at frame 31, three feet above the water line. Ordnance storeroom and dry stores storeroom, compartment A-306A flooded. Shell fragments entered hull at frames 137 just below main deck, doing considerable damage."
EVENT Escort Carrier FANSHAW BAY is hit by a 6-inch shell from TONE.
EVENT Destroyer Escort ROBERTS sights 14-inch battleship shell splashes closing her from astern. Contemplating the fall of the next shell, DE ROBERTS rings up "ALL BACK FULL" to take off speed. The ship quickly slows and the next 14-inch shell lands an equal distance ahead of her.
A/C The battleship’s fire control solution on ROBERTS was clearly correct. This BB is believed to be the merciless KONGŌ which performed extremely well during the entire engagement.
EVENT Vice Admiral Kinkaid instructs RADM Oldendorf, Commander of the Bombardment and Support Group, to move several of his ships to the southern and eastern approaches to Leyte Gulf in lieu of supporting the Taffies.
EVENT Rear Admiral Oldendorf orders his Battle Line commander to take the old battleships TENNESSEE, CALIFORNIA and PENNSYLVANIA, heavy cruisers LOUISVILLE, PORTLAND, MINNEAPOLIS, NASHVILLE, HMAS SHROPSHIRE, and two destroyer squadrons 25 miles eastward where they would be in a position to sortie in support of the taffies.
LCDR Robert W. Copeland, USNR
"...one of my lookouts yelled up at me, "Captain, there's 14-inch splashes coming up on our stern." I turned and looked just in time to see 14-inch splashes...great big ones...off our fantail...for the moment, those shells seemed to be a greater hazard than the 8-inch shells from the cruiser. So I yelled, "All engines back full." ...this was an emergency...I didn't even give them a stop bell. That was one time the old ship really shuddered and shivered and quaked. She just kind of lay down and pretty nearly backed her stern under water. About the time we were starting to back down, directly over us and right ahead about 100 yards, "Whoosh", were three or four 14-inch shell splashes. The instant those things hit I yelled, "All engines ahead flank." We had just barely started moving when we were no longer dodging and chasing salvos...we had walked right into an 8-inch salvo...."
A/C The choice of battleships is interesting. TENNESSEE and CALIFORNIA fought well during the battle of Surigao Strait with their new MK-8 gunnery fire control radars. WEST VIRGINIA, which fired the most AP rounds, was not ordered to sortie to support the Taffies, probably because her supply of AP ammunition was nearly exhausted. PENNSYLVANIA on the other hand, did not fire her main batteries during the Battle of Surigao Strait due to the poor performance of her old MK-3 gunnery fire control radar. PENNSYLVANIA was therefore probably the most well off, ammunition-wise.
EVENT The crew of CVE GAMBIER BAY abandon their ship by all means possible as she continues to be the focal point of the 8-inch gun fire. Most of the crew leaves from the starboard side of the ship, the opposite side from which the TONE class heavy cruiser methodically fires at the sinking escort carrier.
0851 Destroyer Escort ROBERTS rings up "ALL AHEAD FLANK." Before she can gain adequate speed she is hit by three 8-inch armor-piercing shells from the heavy cruisers. One 8-inch shell strikes below the waterline in the No. 1 lower handling room, and rupturing the main steam line in No. 1 fireroom, putting No. 1 fireroom out of commission, and reducing maximum speed available to 17 knots. Badly mauled, DE ROBERTS takes on water. She now becomes a focal point of Japanese gunfire.
A/C Closed in on three sides by Japanese ships, ROBERTS was a sitting-duck once she lost steerage way.
0851 TBS - Mercury 33 v Taffy 3, "HAVE YOU ANY FISH LEFT?"
SK3c Norman R. Loats, USNR
"Just before we left the ship we released a life raft. The GAMBIER BAY had already begun listing to starboard when we jumped, so the jump from the catwalk to the water seemed mighty long, and as we hit the water, I though I would never surface for I went down - down - down. But eventually I did come up; thank God I had loosened our straps on our helmets or we would have surely snapped our necks.
As I surfaced, I swam to the life raft we had released as did the Chief Engineer. The two of us only sightly wounded began attempting to tow the raft away from CVE-73 before the undertow would get us. However our progress was nil, for after what seemed minutes of attempting to get away from the sinking ship, we noticed the raft was still secured to the sinking ship. It didn't take long to cut the line and be on our way."
0851 TBS - v GEORGIA, "CRUISER BROADSIDE ON MY STARBOARD QUARTER FIRING ON US. I BELIEVE THE SHIPS ON MY QUARTER ARE DD’s. IF YOU HAVE ANY FIGHTERS THEY COULD HELP US WITH STRAFING."
0851 Another spotting aircraft is launched from BB YAMATO.
0853 Thirty US carrier planes attack heavy cruisers CHIKUMA, TONE, HAGURO, and CHŌKAI.
A/C American aircraft continued to arrive in greater numbers from Taffies I and II. This airpower contributed significantly to the outcome of the battle, slowing the Japanese pursuit of the escort carriers and aiding in their escape.
National Archives Photograph
Imperial Japanese Navy heavy cruiser CHIKUKA under air attack at Samar
0853 VHF - Plane v Taffy 3, "I BELIEVE THE SHIPS ON STARBOARD QUARTER ARE DESTROYERS. FIDO COULD HELP WITH DESTROYERS."
0854 VHF - Taffy 3 v Planes, "THERE ARE DESTROYERS. ALSO BELIEVE ONE CRUISER."
A/C Composite squadron aircraft report the sighting of Destroyer Squadron Ten.
0854 Battleship HARUNA is ordered to pursue the warships sighted to the southeast, range approximately eighteen miles.
A/C These were the warships of Task Unit 77.4.2 (Taffy II).
0855 USS HOEL (DD-533) rolls over on her port side and sinks stern first as a result of more than 40 five, eight, and sixteen inch hits from enemy battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. Latitude 11°-46' North, Longitude 126°-33' East. She is the first ship of Taffy III to be sunk by Centre Force.
USS ST LO (CVE-63)
At 0848 two Jap ships could be seen off the port beam. They were reported 134 degrees, 10,400 yards. During the time the group on the starboard quarter closed to 6900 yards, considerable fire from that direction was noted, presumably 4.7". From the splashes it appeared that the KALININ BAY was their primary target, with the ST LO receiving considerable attention. The ST LO was repeatedly straddled particularly around 0900 by estimated 4.7" coming from a ship, or ships, which had closed, under cover of smoke, on her port quarter. The group on the starboard quarter after closing under 7,000 yards, reversed course, but after opening range reversed course again to about 7,000 yards firing steadily, then made a final reversal and pulled away. It is believed that full salvoes of torpedoes were fired on the last run, about 0910.
A/C HOEL lost 253 destroyer men when she sunk, fifteen more perished on the rafts and flotation nets the next day.
EVENT Escort Carrier FANSHAW BAY is hit by a 6-inch shell on the forward end of her flight deck.
0858 Escort Carrier FANSHAW BAY is hit again by another 6-inch shell.
0858 TBS - Taffy 3 v MONGREL, "WE HAVE BEEN HIT BELOW THE WATER LINE." .... v Taffy 3, "ROGER OUT."
0900 Destroyer Escort DENNIS is hit by three more 8-inch shells from CA TONE. One shell destroys her 40mm director and kills four men. The second creates a small hole in her port side aft and cuts electrical cables. The last shell glances off the forward 5-inch mount shaking up all men inside of it. She retires behind DE BUTLERs smoke screen.
U.S. Navy Photograph
View from CVE of Task Unit 77.4.3 under fire
0900 The heavy cruisers resume pouring their fire at CVE KITKUN BAY and drop a salvo 200 yards astern of the ship. The cruisers are now about 12,000 yards away, approaching from the port beam. Having expended most of her 5-inch shells during the morning’s ordeal, the captain orders the 5-inch mount to cease fire.
A/C The captain gave the order to cease fire because he wanted to reserve the remaining 5-inch shells to help repel an expected Japanese destroyer attack.
0900 TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT SHACKLE GEORGE NAN KING UNSHACKLE TURN, OUT."
A/C Ships of the task unit are ordered to course 220° T.
0900 Both 5-inch gun mounts aboard DE DENNIS are reported as inoperative.
A/C The forward 5-inch gun, Mount 1, was reported inoperative due to personnel casualties sustained by the direct hit on the turret. Mount 2, aft, suffered a broken breach operating spring.
EVENT At about 0900 and the range closed to 4000 yards DE ROBERTS receives seveal hits coming in rapid succession. No. 1 engineroom is hit and knocked out. Another heavy shell, either 8 or 14-inch hits, the superstructure deck house aft and explodes, completely obliterating the after twin 40mm mount and after 40mm Mark 51 director. No further trace of the mount, gun, shield or director was ever seen. Next, a tremendous explosion takes place, believed to be from two or three 14-inch shells from BB KONGŌ. The violent impact rips a 30-40 foot hole in her port side near the waterline. The impact of the shells is so great that all hands are knocked down to the deck. This salvo wipes out No. 2 engineroom, rupturing the after fuel oil tanks, and starts fires on the fantail. All power is lost and the ship, aft of the stack, was left an inert mass of battered metal. ROBERTS is now incapable of motion and without offensive or defensive measures.
EVENT At that moment, a torpedo track is sighted running straight toward DE ROBERTS. Word is passed to standby for torpedo impact. The torpedo passes harmlessly under her keel.
LCDR Robert W. Copeland, USNR
"...about the time of the torpedo attack, the destroyer JOHNSTON came by us and I saw her for the last time. That picture is engraved in my memory...She had taken a terrific beating. Her bridge was battered and had been abandoned. Her foremast, a steel tubular mast...had been split from shellfire and then bent down over itself...the mast was doubled over on itself and dangling down with its radar swinging just like a pendulum.... It gave me a hurt feeling to look at it. Her searchlights had been knocked off. One torpedo mount was gone and her No. 3 gun had completely disappeared. As she went by...she was limping along at a pretty slow speed...I saw her Captain. He was a very big man with coal black hair...he was standing on the fantail conning his ship by calling down through an open scuttle hatch into the steering engine room. I can see him now. He was stripped to the waist and was covered with blood. His left hand was wrapped in a handkerchief...he wasn't over one hundred feet from us as he passed us on our starboard side...he turned a little and waved his hand at me. That's the last time I saw him because JOHNSTON was sunk, too, a few minutes after we were."
EVENT The five remaining escort carriers continue southward firing their single 5-inch guns as they run. Escort carrier FANSHAW BAY scores five hits with her 5-inch gun on CA CHIKUMA. One brings smoke from her superstructure. Meanwhile, CVE WHITE PLAINS puts six shells into CA CHŌKAI, causing damage.
EVENT Admiral Halsey with Third Fleet, presently far to the north, east of Luzon, receives a plain-English message from VADM Kinkaid:
"ENEMY FORCE ATTACKED OUR CVEs COMPOSED OF 4 BBs 8 CRUISERS AND OTHER SHIPS. REQUEST (VADM) LEE PROCEED TOP SPEED COVER LEYTE. REQUEST IMMEDIATE STRIKE BY FAST CARRIERS."
A/C This was one of many urgent messages VADM Kinkaid sent to ADM Halsey requesting immediate assistance. Admiral Halsey became annoyed by the constant stream of messages requesting assistance and wondered why VADM Kinkaid left his northern flank exposed. He felt Third Fleet was not responsible for protecting Seventh Fleet; his mission was to strike with his fleet against all contingencies.
0901 The heavy cruisers straddle CVE KITKUN BAY with 8-inch shells on both sides of the ship. Seconds later another lands 20 yards astern. Expecting the next salvo to cause serious damage, the captain swings the ship between 200 T and 270 T in an effort to forestall the apparently inevitable. By the grace of God, the Japanese cease their fire on CVE KITKUN BAY.
A/C For a brief moment, it appeared KITKUN BAY would meet the same fate as GAMBIER BAY.
0901 TBS - Taffy 3 v DREADNAUGHT, "PLEASE REPEAT YOUR LAST TRANSMISSION."
0902 More planes of Taffy II's second wave of aircraft arrive on the scene.
0902 TBS - Taffy 3 v MONGREL, "BOTH MY MAIN BATTERIES INOPERATIVE."
A/C DENNIS reports to CTU 77.4.3 that both of her 5-inch guns are out of commission.
0902 TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "NEW COURSE SHACKLE GEORGE NAN KING UNSHACKLE, OUT."
A/C Ships of the task unit are once again ordered to course 220° T.
EVENT One of the true acts of valor at Samar came by the actions of one young Gunner’s Mate Third Class named Paul Henry Carr. Carr was the gun captain of the #2 5-inch turret on ROBERTS. After aggressively firing his gun all morning power to the rammer was lost and the ammunition hoist suffered a mechanical failure. Carr and his crew resorted to handling the powder bags and ammunition by hand, a very hazardous endeavor which required the by-passing of built-in safety systems. While loading a powder bag by hand into the gun breech it subsequently detonated from the intense heat, destroyed the gun, and killed or wounded every man in the gun mount. After the explosion, Carr mortally wounded, was found trying to load the last shell by hand. Carr of posthumously awarded the Silver Star medal for his actions.
Silver Star citation
|Gunners Mate Third Class
Paul Henry Carr
U.S. Naval Reserve
0902 Battleship KONGŌ reports knocking out a "destroyer" with a salvo from her main battery.
A/C This was ROBERTS.
0902 Speeding to the southeast, BB HARUNA opens fire with her main battery against the warships of Task Unit 77.4.2 (Taffy II).
A/C HARUNA fired at Taffy II from 0902 and 0907 without scoring any hits.
0903 The aft 5-inch gun crew aboard DE DENNIS is ordered to the forward gun mount to replace the injured gun crew. Repair crews commence work to repair the broken breach operating spring on the aft mount. Simultaneously, the crew commences to bring 5-inch ammunition forward from after magazines as access passageway to the forward magazines is impossible due to flooding.
0903 TU 77.4.1 (Taffy 1) CVE's SANGAMON and PETROF BAY resume flight operations.
EVENT Heavy cruiser CHIKUMA is struck by two torpedoes from aircraft of Taffy II. She turns hard to port with a large fire on her fantail.
A/C This particular heavy cruiser took an extraordinary amount of punishment before sinking.
EVENT Destroyer Escort DENNIS turns into DE BUTLER's smoke screen to make repairs, both of her 5-inch guns out of action.
0904 The spotting aircraft launched from BB YAMATO at 0851 reports it is being attacked by American aircraft. The Japanese plane is soon hit and lost in short order.
0905 Destroyer HEERMANN positions to the rear of Taffy III and lays more smoke behind the fleeing carriers.
0905 Heavy cruiser CHŌKAI is put out of action by aircraft from CVE KITKUN BAY. The pilots take her by surprise and land two very-near misses, one direct hit astern, three direct hits on the bow and five more amidships. She drifts to a halt severely damaged and ablaze.
0906 Taffy II General Motors TBM-1C Avenger torpedo bombers attack the two Japanese battleship of BATDIV 1 and BB KONGŌ. Battleship YAMATO, BB NAGATO, and BB KONGŌ spend the next fifteen minutes evading aerial torpedoes.
CDR Amos T. Hathaway, USN
"At 0905 I turned the HEERMANN and started across the rear of the carrier formation to lay another smoke-screen. We couldn’t see any targets that were within our gun range at the time and it looked to me as if the screen was getting a little thin back there and I decided to lay another...About 0907 a MAYA Class cruiser closed us from astern. We squared off with her and started to shoot it out. She engaged us for three minutes and then retired and opened the range further than we could shoot."
EVENT Heavy cruisers TONE and HAGURO close to 10,000 yards and continue to fire on the escort carriers, scoring some hits.
EVENT In single column, Destroyer Squadron Ten, led by CL YAHAGI and destroyers URAKAZE, ISOKAZE, YUKIKAZE, and NOWAKI position to attack the escort carriers with torpedoes at very long range. Light cruiser YAHAGI fires her torpedoes at 15,000 yards.
EVENT Destroyer Squadron Ten approaches the escort carriers from the starboard flank. Destroyer JOHNSTON, acting on her own, closes range and engages the entire destroyer squadron with gunfire and scores twelve 5-inch gun hits on the flagship, light cruiser YAHAGI. Her torpedoes away, CL YAHAGI turns away to starboard and the destroyers of Squadron 10 soon appear to follow.
A/C YAHAGI was following Japanese naval tactics doctrine. It was standard procedure to turn away from a target after launching torpedoes; allowing the next ship in line to fire its torpedoes, and so on. However, JOHNSTON’s stubborn boldness paid off, forcing the Japanese ships to fire their torpedoes at the escort carriers too soon.
EVENT The destroyers URAKAZE, ISOKAZE, YUKIKAZE, and NOWAKI hit DD JOHNSTON with gunfire and then retire northward.
EVENT Light cruiser YAHAGI, still opening the distance, fires more torpedoes at the fleeing escort carriers. All miss.
EVENT Heavy cruisers TONE and HAGURO, the most fit of the remaining Japanese cruisers, concentrate their gunfire on DD JOHNSTON.
0907 With a Japanese cruiser still shooting at her about one mile off her beam, GAMBIER BAY capsizes to port.
A/C Captain Vieweg, Commanding Officer of GAMBIER BAY, in the water near his ship as she was sinking noted a Japanese heavy cruiser about 2,000 yards distant was still shooting at GAMBIER BAY, and still missing.
CAPT Walter V. R. Vieweg, USN
“After we sank, the enemy ships that had been firing on us went about their business and pursued the remainder of our formation and disappeared from sight. However, perhaps the most alarming thing of the whole operation, from my point of view, was the fact that very shortly after we sank I observed a large Japanese ship dead in the water about three miles to the eastward. We were pretty low in the water hanging on to a life raft bouncing up and down and not feeling too well. I'm not so positive of the identification as to say that I'm entirely right. I believe it was a battleship of either the KONGŌ or FUSO class since the pagoda type structure would indicate such was the case. Personally, I did not see the stacks but an officer trained in identification is quite certain in his own mind that it was a KONGŌ class battleship since it had two stacks.
At any rate this ship remained dead in the water until about sunset at which time it gradually picked up steerage way to change course to the north and disappeared from sight. This ship was at all times attended by a destroyer, a two stack destroyer, which during the early stages would seem to disappear and reappear and we couldn't quite figure out what it was doing, whether it was picking up people or what. Once the ship got underway just before sunset, this destroyer continued to circle the apparently damaged battleship.”
0907 Aboard DE DENNIS, a weighted sack of registered publications is thrown overboard as a precautionary measure.
0908 TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT TURN SHACKLE GEORGE PETER EASY UNSHACKLE. FIDO AND DERBY ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v FIDO, DERBY, "WILCO OUT."
A/C Ships of the task unit are ordered to course 240° T.
EVENT Heavy cruisers TONE and HAGURO are the nearest threat to the remaining escort carriers. With most of the screening ships sinking, sunk, or damaged, CA TONE and CA HAGURO are able to use their superior speed to close the range on the escort carriers unopposed. Their 8-inch salvos increase in accuracy.
EVENT Escort Carrier KITKUN BAY is frequently damaged by shrapnel from near-misses.
EVENT Escort Carrier WHITE PLAINS is hit by 6-inch shells from CL NOSHIRO, flagship of Destroyer Squadron Two. Near-misses shake the ship.
EVENT Escort Carrier FANSHAW BAY is hit by four 8-inch shells, including two very near misses. One hit holes her below the waterline and one severely damages her flight deck. Three of her crew are killed and 20 are wounded.
EVENT Escort Carrier KALININ BAY is hit by eleven 8-inch cruiser shells and one 14-inch battleship shell. Her main steering control is knocked out and she has to be steered by hand.
U.S. Navy Regulations
1. In case of the loss of a ship, the commanding officer shall remain by her with officers and crew so long as necessary and shall save as much Government property as possible. Every reasonable effort shall be made to save the deck log, personal diary and pay records of officers and crew, and other valuable papers.
2. If it becomes necessary to abandon ship, the commanding officer should be the last person to leave.
3. The commanding officer shall:
a. take all possible precautions to protect the survivors and such Government property as has been saved.
b. report to the nearest United States naval or military command and request instructions and such assistance as is required; and
c. report the circumstances to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations as soon as possible.
EVENT One shell hits KALININ BAY’s forward elevator and destroys the platform. Several armor-piercing shells pass through her hull without exploding.
A/C With the three most aggressive American ships out of the picture (JOHNSTON, HOEL, & ROBERTS), and the range decreasing by the minute, the Japanese are able to pour on very effective gunfire. The escort carriers are now once again on the verge of being wiped out.
EVENT Destroyer HEERMANN fires on a "MAYA" Class cruiser, possibly CA TONE, and rejoins the escort carriers to lay more smoke.
0910 Under pressure from the destroyers and heavy cruisers, RADM Sprague orders the destroyer escorts to, once again, attack.
0910 Destroyer Escort DENNIS changes course to 240° T. Range commences to open on the Japanese heavy cruiser attacking from astern, range about 7,500 yards. With the range opening, further disposal of registered publications is cancelled.
EVENT Listing eleven degrees and settling by the stern, the men of DE ROBERTS are ordered to abandon ship.
A/C Captain Copeland has surveyed ROBERTS and found that both 5-inch guns were inoperable, communications were lost, and the engines had been knocked out. From the stack aft, the area reaching to the stern of the ship was hopelessly battered. Dead and wounded men littered her deck.
0911 Escort carrier USS GAMBIER BAY (CVE 73) slips beneath the waves into the Philippine Trench, the only US carrier sunk by naval gunfire in World War II.