October 13, 1944


Over the years I have posted many times about the “Battle Off Formosa”, which resulted in Boston’s sister ship, Canberra, being hit by an aerial torpedo on Friday the 13th, 1944  –  about 80 miles off the coast of Formosa (Taiwan).  Her station in the task group was replaced by the light cruiser Houston in the afternoon of the 14th.  The task group was attacked again by a large group of Japanese fighters and bombers, and the unfortunate Houston was hit by a torpedo.  Boston was ordered to take her in tow, and the “Ordeal of the Crippled Cruisers” began in earnest.  The Wichita and the Boston, towing Canberra and Houston, set a course to Ulithi, 1200 miles away, travelling at less than 4 knots.

The Houston, just after Boston surrendered the tow to a fleet tug on October 16, was hit again as another swarm of enemy bombers attacked the ships.

USS Houston, CL-81, showing damage inflicted during the Formosa Air Battle, 16 October, 1944.

Damage to the ship’s aircraft hangar from a torpedo hit in her starboard quarter received off Formosa on 16 October 1944. View looks through the blown-open hangar hatch in the direction of the torpedo’s impact point, showing men working in the damaged area. Photographed circa 27 October 1944, after Houston had been towed to Ulithi Atoll. Note broken aircraft crane at right, sea free-flooding into the hangar, and greatly distorted structure.   Wikimedia Commons

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HALSEY on 9/2/45


(found online {University of Michigan} ADMIRAL HALSEY’S STORY published in 1947 by the Curtis Publishing Company).

Halsey describes the events of September 2, 1945, aboard the battleship Missouri for the Signing of the  Documents of Surrender.  (excerpts)

. . . A table with the two sets of surrender documents stood on the starboard veranda deck. almost in the shadow of No. 2 turret, MacArthur and Nimitz took their places behind it, and I joined the line of Navy officers.  The ceremony opened with a short address by MacArthur, beautifully phrased and forcefully read.  His voice was clear and firm, but his hands shook with emotion.  When he had finished, he pointed to a chair at the opposite side of the table and almost spat out, “The representatives of the Imperial Japanese Staff will now come forward and sign!”   (My flag log records it thus: “0903.  Jap envoys were asked to sign.  They did.”)

The Foreign Minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, who was to sign for the Emperor, limped toward the table, leaning on a cane. He had lost his leg to a grenade thrown by a Korean in Shanghai; Nomura, later Ambassador to Washington, lost an eye at the same time . . . He took off his gloves and silk hat, sat down, dropped his cane, picked it up, fiddled with his hat and gloves, and shuffled the papers.  He pretended to be looking for a pen  –  an underling finally brought him one  –  but I felt certain that he was stalling for time, though God knows what he was trying to accomplish.  His performance made me so mad that when we returned to my cabin after the ceremony, I told MacArthur, “General, you nearly had a contretemps the morning.”
     “How’s that?” he asked.
     “When Shigemitsu was stalling out there, I wanted to slap him and tell him, ‘Sign, damn you! Sign!'”
     MacArthur said, “Why didn’t you?”

The second Jap, Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, who was to sign for the Imperial General Staff, he did his job briskly; he didn’t even sit down for it.
     MacArthur was next, as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, then came their various representatives, led by Chester [Nimitz].  His war plans officer, Rear Adm. Forrest P. Sherman and I were invited to stand behind his chair while he signed.  Newsreels show MacArthur putting his arm around my shoulder at this moment and whispering to me, and many of my friends have asked what he was saying. Again we fell short of the solemn occasion.  MacArthur said, “Start ’em now.”
     I said, “Aye, aye, sir!”
     He was referring to a mass flight of 450 planes from TF 38, which we had ordered to orbit at a distance until we gave the word.  We passed it to them now, and they roared over the Missouri mast-high.

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There Was a Time . . .


Aviator George H. Bush, flying in a squadron of Torpedo Bombers (Avengers) from the light carrier San Jacinto, flew into a blanket of anti-aircraft fire as they attacked a radar installation on ChiChi Jima on September 2, 1944.  After bombing his target, he flamed down, crashing into the sea.  He was the only survivor.  He was rescued by a submarine, and one month later he was returned to his ship.

During Typhoon Cobra (December 18-20, 1944), young Lieutenant Gerald Ford (who replaced Nixon upon his impending impeachment) led a brigade of fire-control sailors into the hangar deck of the light carrier Monterey where partially gassed planes, slammed about by the treacherous seas, caught fire.  President Ford’s actions helped saved the ship from complete disaster.

Young Lieutenant John F. Kennedy’s PT Boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer in the Solomons during the night of Aug. 1, 1943.  The torpedo boat sank.  Two crewmembers died, but 11 survived.  Kennedy’s heroics, swimming for miles while belt-towing an injured crewman and their subsequent six day cat and mouse escape from Japanese patrols, is the stuff of legends.

His predecessor, President Dwight Eisenhower, well . . . we all know his story.

None of the Presidents who served after H W Bush served in the active-duty or combat military.  Arizona Senator and presidential candidate John McCain, whose grandfather, Admiral John S. McCain Sr. was Task Force Commander during WWII, and whose father, Admiral John S. McCain Jr. served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, passed away yesterday.  He, like his predecessors, was a naval aviator.  In October 1967 his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Hanoi.  The seriously injured pilot was captured and remained a prisoner until 1973.  He suffered from broken limbs, barbaric torture, illnesses, deprivations of all sorts, and attempts by the North Vietnamese to betray his country.  He never did.

There was a time when the passing of a man of great tenacity and courage in battle, a hero by (just about) everyone’s definition, a man who devoted his life to serving his country, would have brought unequivocal praise, honor and respect by the President.


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“In a Friendly Way”


August 15, 1945:  This morning we returned to the Tokyo area and the carriers had launched their 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.

August 16, 1945:  This morning we have our C.A.P. over the task groups, bogies are still in the area.  There are some Jap pilots that refuse to surrender.

August 17, 1945:  Today Admiral Halsey announced to shoot down Jap planes “in a friendly way” if attacked.

August 18, 1945:  Several Jap planes were shot down today by C.A.P.  These planes tried to attack the ship by crashing into them. We are still on Condition Three Watch.

Frank Studenski   WAR DIARY U.S.S. BOSTON CA-69

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During Okinawa


I am “polishing up” A Bird’s Eye View (for many reasons).  This is an interesting process for me.  I wrote this book about the Boston first, relying on Frank Studenski’s amazing diary and research from whatever I could find on the internet.   In retrospect, it is a good chronicling of the (Central Pacific) War and Task Force 58 and 38.  I am on the Okinawa months, during which the Boston headed stateside and was docked in San Pedro, CA for overhaul and radar / weapons control upgrades.

From a damage – injury – loss of life perspective, CA-69 was a lucky ship.  Many other ships were not so lucky.  The Japanese tactic of “kamikaze defense” was in place routinely by the latter days of the Philippines Campaigns.  There were some incidences during Iwo Jima.  However, during the last-ditch desperation of the Okinawa invasion, Japan unleashed wave after wave of savage one-way “floating chrysanthemums” attacks against US ships and landing forces.   The numbers of ships and men lost are staggering.

3-19-45.    Men on cruiser Santa Fe look on as the heavy carrier Franklin lists. 1,700 men were evacuated to other ships, 260 men were wounded and 724 sailors perished in fiery explosions below deck as enemy bombs ignited planes and aviation fuel.

5-11-45.  Kamikazes hit the flight deck of heavy carrier Bunker Hill, fully loaded with gassed-up planes ready to take off. 389 men perished, 264 men were wounded. TF Commander Marc Mitscher was not wounded, but he lost 14 of his staff. The ship was so badly damaged it never returned to the War.

Just a few examples.  The Boston was truly a “lucky ship.”

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