At the end of the month, I’m planning a trip to the National Archives outside of Washington D.C. to research more information about the USS BOSTON. The archives have the original deck logs, war diaries, photographs, etc. from the USS BOSTON. The preparation has been a little daunting since in researching this topic, you find out that a deck log is a very large piece of paper that can have 4 pages on a boring day and 120 pages on an exciting decklog day. The USS Boston in World War II (CA-69) has six bound volumes that are 11 inches by 10 inches.
In addition, the archives houses war diaries, and muster rolls (who has on the ship) have been declassified are available on microfiche. One startling fact Steve and I came across from looking at the BEANPOT was in the first year at sea, 1/3 of the crew of the BOSTON was reassigned to other ships, often at liberty spots like Ulithi Atoll in the Pacific. The crew list we currently have is from one place in time which is just shy of 1600 sailors (I haven’t yet added the Officers). So if the turnover was constant we’ll exceed 2,500 sailors.
I’ll update everyone on my DC adventure…
As I mentioned in my last post, the tiny island of Iwo Jima was very important to both sides in the War for the Pacific. The Boston set sail for the Bonin and Volcano Islands four times between mid-June of 1944 and Feb/March of 1945.
In the lead-up to the First Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 19-21, 1944), Boston’s Task Group 58.1 (Adm. Clark) was joined by TG 58.4 (Adm. Harrill) in a two-day raid against airfields on those islands – with emphasis on the planes on Iwo Jima. Despite typhoon conditions, deckloads of fighter and bombers took off from the carriers and inflicted major damage on enemy aircraft on the ground (91 planes) and in the air. The raids (June 15 and 16) severely damaged Japanese operational plans during their attacks on the American Invasion Fleet massed off the west coast of the Mariana Islands a few days later.
The actions of the Battle of the Philippine Sea found the ships of Task Force 58 searching for downed airmen in the seas north and east of the Marianas on June 22. Next day, the ships were on their way for resupply and replenishment at Eniwetok (Marshall Islands), with a scheduled raid on the Marianas on the way (a typical WWll “drive-by shooting”) On June 24, raids launched by the carriers of TG58.1 destroyed 66 more planes on the airfields of Iwo. In dogfights over Iwo and Chichi Jima, Navy pilots destroyed 59 planes in the air (and 24 more on the ground.)
The Boston’s next visit to Iwo Jima was July 4 and 5th. As the flagship of Cruiser Divison 10, CA-69 lead a task group of five cruisers and 15 destroyers in bombardments of airfields and military installations on Iwo Jima. With the combined carrier plane strikes and ship’s bombings, the day netted 116 planes on the ground, five enemy ships sunk and several heavily damaged.
After spending the entire month of July in combat (Operation Forager) off various Mariana Islands, Task Force 58 headed back for resupply to Eniwetok. On the way, Jocko Clark’s task group broke north for another two day raid on Iwo, including another cruiser bombardment lead by CruDiv10 on August 4 and 5th.
Boston’s next visit to Iwo was in mid February 1945, when the Combined Fifth Fleet (Task Force 58 and the Invasion Fleet) sailed north from Ulithi for the start of Operation Detachment – the amphibious assault of Iwo Jima.
1944: The first day of February dawned on Task Force 58 ships engaged in the simultaneous attacks on atoll groups in the Marshall Islands (Operation Flintlock.) The Boston and sister cruiser Baltimore, along with several destroyers detached from the group during the night of Feb. 5 and steamed west. On Feb 6, they bombarded targets on Engebi Island (Eniwetok Atoll). Next day, the ships pull into Kwajalein lagoon, and anchor there while the Marines are still “mopping –up” entrenched enemy troops in the Atoll. The ships pull out on Feb 11 and begin Operation Catchpole – the capture of Eniwetok.
1945: The Boston is in anchorage at Ulithi Atoll until Feb 10. The Task Force is changed from TF38 back to TF58, under the over-all command of Raymond Spruance aboard the cruiser Indianapolis. The Boston forms up with group 58.2. Operational command of the ships is the responsibility of Marc Mitscher, aboard the heavy carrier Lexington. The group consists of the carriers: Lexington, Hancock and San Jacinto, the battleships Wisconsin and Missouri, cruisers Boston and San Francisco and nineteen destroyers (including DesRons52 and 53). They begin Operation Detachment (the invasion of Iwo Jima) by steaming north to attack airbases on the Bonin Islands and Operation Jamboree – bombing targets in and around Tokyo.
1946: The Boston has completed her Occupation Duties, and is heading back to the States to unload her crew prior to her retirement in Washington.
Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline Islands was found by the US Navy to be an deep water lagoon that could hold up to 700 ships. The Island of Mog-Mog in the lagoon was converted to a rest an relaxation station. The USS Boston stopped by a few times and the rations delivered for the day was 2 Cheese sandwiches and 4 cans of Beer. Must have been an interesting time with thousands of sailors each with their 4 beer allotment having some R&R.
ABOARD THE BOSTON – NOVEMBER 1943
After returning to the city of Boston from a month-long Caribbean shakedown cruise, the Boston crewmembers continued final preparations before leaving for the Pacific through the first half of the month. On Nov 14, the ship left the Fore River Navy Yard in South Boston (Quincy, MA) for the last time, heading south for the Panama Canal. On the 23rd, they transited the Canal, reached the Pacific, and headed north to San Francisco. The men spent their first Thanksgiving Day together at sea, off the coast of California. Next day, they sailed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and began a few days Liberty in San Francisco.
ABOARD THE BOSTON – NOVEMBER 1944
After months of wild combat action ending with the Battle for Leyte Gulf (also called the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea) (Oct. 23-26), the Boston and the other ships of her Task Group anchored in the lagoon at Ulithi (north of Palau and south of Guam). On Nov 1, the ships left Ulithi and headed back to the action in and off the Philippines. And there was plenty of action! After 21 days of continual combat, the Boston was ordered south to the Admiralty Islands into dry-dock for a paintjob and quick overhaul of her boilers. (See picture above) She steamed out of the action, heading south on the 22nd. The ship remained there for two weeks. The men had liberty on the naval-base island of Manus Island.
ABOARD THE BOSTON – NOVEMBER 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 coast of Japan, seizing weapons and destroying suicide subs and boats. The first of three groups of sailors mustered out and headed home on Nov. 9th. The ship remained on Occupation Duty until the end of February, 1946. See the full size picture here.