From the personal collection of Gilbert J. Raynor
A note from the Webmaster
The main body of the original handwritten document was penned as one large paragraph.
I have taken the liberty of breaking it up into small paragraphs to facilitate reading.
I have also taken the liberty of correcting obvious mis-spellings and typographical errors.
Minor editorial changes to ship names have been made to facilitate URL links.
The following is a transcription of a report of the Battle Off Samar written on that occasion 25 October, 1944 by GILBERT S. RAYNOR, who served as an Aerographer's Mate on the U.S.S. KITKUN BAY CVE-71.
This account was provided to the author's son on 19 November 1989. This account of the battle was written by Gilbert S. Raynor and given to Richard (Dick) Riffey in the sick bay aboard the KITKUN BAY before Dick was transferred to a base hospital. Dick was injured when the first suicide plane crashed at 1050.
At 0650 our carrier task force of 6 CVE's, 4 DE's and 2 DD's sighted an enemy task force of 4-5 BB, 8 CA and 10-20 DD at 15 miles. We made preparations to launch aircraft and turned to flee. At 0700, 3 large shell bursts in water about 1500 YDS abaft G.B. (USS GAMBIER BAY (CVE 73)) beam. Immediately after 3, 8" shells landed 50 yards in front of G.B. We sounded G.Q. and enemy was 40,000 yards away.
By 0704 shells were landing all around and we started making black smoke and escorts laid smoke screen. Set course 270, full speed.
0706 Launched 6 fighters couldn't turn into wind to launch TBM's. Shells landed 400 yards astern. Enemy closing.
0740 Escorts ordered to deliver torpedo attack.
|R.L. Beush, K.L. Chesmore, G.S. Raynor (author of this article) and Dick Riffey|
0757 Got hit on CA (Jap cruiser), forward part of ship ablaze, one escort that went in for torpedo attack got 4 direct 8" shell hits and sunk immediately (is believed to have launched torpedoes first on BB). (1 DE and 2 DD lost in this attack, USS DENNIS (DE 405) was DE).
0820 Enemy had our range and was getting very close misses on G.B.
0825 GB hit and lost control of forward engine.
0826 Under heavy fire from CA and 1 BB using pink marker shells. One CA was TONE Class, heaviest of Jap heavy cruisers. We were firing 5" and scored 2 direct hits and some near misses.
0842 GB hit again.
0900-0915 Under heavy fire. One shell landed 20 (yards, feet?) off fantail. Previous salvos had straddled ship.
0915 Enemy CA passed 12,000 YDS off port beam. Another enemy force sighted 210 degrees true.
0921 Two enemy cruisers turn away, under attack by our planes.
0924 Enemy retiring eastward.
0929 Enemy CA dead in water.
0950 Enemy cruiser sinking. (when enemy turned we launched 6 TBM, 5 torpedoes and 1 with bombs) other ships launched also. Now have 14 FM and 6 TBM in air. Globalear (it is unknown to the transcriber if this is the correct spelling, not having a ships roster available, it is apparent that it is the name of a pilot from the following sentence) dropped 4 500 LB bombs on bridge section of Jap CA. 2 other pilots put fish in another CA. Fighter pilots made many dummy runs to draw Japs attention. USS WHITE PLAINS (CVE 66) pilot bombed a BB and later Howler and other pilots hit it.
Planes arrived from large carrier task force and apparently from other CVE groups to assist in striking enemy. Later we launched 4 TBM with fish and 2 fighters to attack enemy fleeting into Bernardino Straits scored 1 torpedo hit on CA.
When enemy turned we were close in to Samar Island with enemy on both flanks. Enemy was up to 4 1/2 miles.
|AGM2c Gilbert S. Raynor, USNR aboard KITKUN BAY's island structure.|
Apparently 4 CA and 1 BB were firing on us. Rest were further back. After enemy turned 3 DE came back but were later sent back to pick up survivors from G.B. (GAMBIER BAY) which was shelled up close by CA and replied with AA fire. Time of sinking unknown. After enemy retired 7 torpedoes approached formation. Fired from sub or enemy DD. 2 carriers fired AA guns at them. Apparently fired at extreme range as some stopped of own accord.
Went on without escorts.
1049 Seven Jap planes in air attack, several maneuvered off port bow to draw attention and others made attack.
1050 One Jap Tony made suicide dive on ship. Hit port catwalk opposite Exec's room. Exploded, shrapnel splattered all forward section of ship and sheet of flame flashed as far as the bridge. 1 killed, a number hurt.
1050 One plane made suicide dive into flight deck of MIDWAY (USS ST LO (CVE 63)) and exploded. Fire and explosions followed.
1104 MIDWAY (ST LO) abandoned ship (800 rescued).
1111 All DE's leave to pick up survivors.
1120 Another suicide dive on ship from aft by Judy. Exploded just off bow. Bomb landed on starboard side, motor on port. Plane in bits strewn all over and part of pilot landed on deck. Gas splattered all over - - water splashed up to bridge and shrapnel broke large signal light.
1515 Japs now 220 degrees, 115 miles away.
In evening traveling without screen but following us at 7 miles. Prepared to fire 5". Met opposite bound convoy and borrowed 2 DD. Group of enemy planes came near at 2145, 6-12 flew over and hung around some time. Another group of 3-6 came from 80 to 30 miles but turned away. Contacted 2 friendly night fighters then PBY, a DD got a sub and 1 plane. In all action we lost 1 TBM, 2 crew and not over 3 fighter pilots.
This ends the handwritten account by Gilbert S. Raynor.