MID DECEMBER ABOARD THE BOSTON

1944: On Dec 9, the Boston weighed anchor after more than two weeks in drydock in Seeadler Harbor.  The ship headed north to rejoin the rest of the ships of the Task Force anchored in Ulithi Lagoon. They arrived at the lagoon on Tuesday, December 12th. The following day, they formed up off Ulithi into Task Group 38.1, joining the cruisers New Orleans, San Francisco, the Baltimore and San Diego along with the battleships Massachusetts and Alabama.  Those seven large capital ships form the screen around the four aircraft carriers of the group: the Yorktown, Wasp, Cowpens and Monterey.  Sixteen destroyers form the outer screen.  The Task Force (TF38) and the Invasion Force begin the second phase of operations to liberate the Philippines, code named Operation Love lll, the landing of invasion forces on Mindoro.  By now, the Japanese use of suicide attacks (kamikazes) against American ships was becoming commonplace.

On December 14, 15, and 16, the carriers of Task Force 38 launch deckloads of fighters and bombers against targets on Mindoro and Luzon. On December 17th, the weather stiffens and the seas grow heavy –  a typhoon is gathering – and conditions get worse and worse.  They are about to run afoul of the fiercest typhoon of the War – Typhoon Cobra.

I will do a separate post on this terrible storm.

Manus and Drydock

I found these sets of pictures from the USS Boston Cruise book:

manus header 550

Manus is an island in the Admiralty Island chain, just north of New Guinea.  There is an exceptional port called Seeadler Habor at it’s northeast corner.  It was here, after the japanese were defeated on the island, that the navy set up a floating drydock.  In late November, the USS Boston entered the drydock and her boilers were overhauled, she was painted stem to stern and she was relaunched by mid-December.

Here, she enters drydock:

entering drydock 550

The ship in drydock:

manus no1 550

Working on the ship:

manus drydock no2 550

All hands were required to help paint:

manus no3 550

EARLY DECEMBER ABOARD THE BOSTON

1943: December 1st was the last day of Liberty in San Francisco. The ship has been reprovisioned and has taken on some new crewmembers and marines hitching a ride to their first destination: Pearl Harbor. The Boston pulls out of San Francisco Bay on 12/2 heading west. On December 6, the day before the two-year anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Boston lines up with other ships waiting to enter P.H. When they enter, the men aboard see the devastation all around.  The Battleship Oklahoma is belly-up and on her side.  Oil is still spewing out. Then the Boston eases into it’s berth on Battleship Row, right next to the sunken Arizona, watery grave of  1,100 sailors. The men spent the next month and a half at Pearl Harbor; daily war exercises and drills with other ships in Hawaiian waters, and weekend liberty in Honolulu.

USS_Arizona_from_port_bow.jpg 500*337 pixels

USS Arizona

1944: After arriving in Seeadler Harbor (in the Admiralty Island of Manus north of New Guinea) the Boston, was in drydock for boiler repairs and a new paintjob from Nov 21 through Dec 9.  The war in and around the Philippine Archipelago raged on unabated while the men and their ship was away.

Image:Admiralty Islands Topography with labels.png - Wikipedia,

1945: After the Surrender of Japan, a Demilitarization Task Group was formed, with the Boston in command. The men spent the month of December ranging up and down the coasts of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, destroying suicide subs and boats and seizing weapons.

LATE NOVEMBER ON THE BOSTON

1943:  After transiting the Panama Canal on Tuesday, Nov. 23, the Boston anchored at Balboa Harbor. The men were given afternoon liberty in Balboa City. They departed Balboa and headed north on the 24th. The men feasted on Thanksgiving Day off the coast of California on Thursday, the 25th. The ship entered San Francisco Bay on the 28th.  The men had liberty in San Francisco through Dec 1.

1944: The Boston, a capital ship of Task Group 38.1 (under the command of William Halsey) spent most of November in constant combat off the Philippines. By then the ships were experiencing their first encounters with the Japanese “Special Attack Corps” – also known as “Devil Divers” or kamikazes (“Divine Wind”) – that would extract a murderous toll on the men and ships of the US Navy by war’s end.  On Nov, 21 the Boston was ordered south to the Admiralty Islands into drydock for a quick overhaul of her boilers.  She detached from her Task Group and headed south on the 22nd. The ship remained there for two weeks.  Thanksgiving was celebrated in Seeadler Harbor, off Manus Island, at the naval-base in the Admiralty Islands. Manus Island is south of the Equator between New Guinea and the Caroline Islands.

Oceania.ai

1945: After the Surrender of Japan, a Demilitarization Task Group was formed, with the Boston in command. The men spent the month of November ranging up and down the coasts of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.  They were tasked with seizing weapons and destroying suicide subs and boats.  Thanksgiving was spent off the coast of Japan.

Drydock at Manus Island

014112

Manus Island is a part of the Admiralty Islands off the coats of New Guinea.  In 1942, the Japanese established a military base on Manus island.  This base became a problem for the US, since it strategically interfered with shipping from the west coast of the US to Australia.  Operation BREWER (which the USS Boston did not participate in), attacked the Admiralty Islands on February 29th, 1944.  Manus Island was caputured and Seeadler Habor was established as a base by the US Navy.

The USS Boston arrived on November 21st at Seeadler Harbor on Manus Island to dry dock and repair her boilers.  Among the constant reminders of war seen by the men on the USS Boston, must have been the remains of the USS  Mount Hood.  On November 10th, just 11 days before the Bostron arrived at Seealer harbor, the USS Mount Hood exploded.  It was loaded with ammunition, and at 8:55am a small flash was noticed, followed by 3800 tons of ammunition exploding.  Only small fragments of the ship were left.  18 ships were damaged in the harbor and 378 people died and 372 were wounded in this tragic accident.

Later I’ll describe the Boston’s trip to Manus Island.

-Bill