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Chapter 11
0911 to 1030
RECALL

Wednesday, October 25, 1944

 

Time-Line, Events, & Comments

What makes this book unique is the use of a time-line for all events, all listed in chronological, time-line order. The events in Chapters 5 through 13 are listed in the order in which the author believes they occurred. Entries listed simply as "EVENT" are also placed in a chronological, time-line order and are closely related in time to the last numbered "time" event. Comments by the author associated with events are often listed also. Entries are displayed as follows:

0708 A time-specific event, in the order in which the author believes they actually occurred.
EVENT A specific event, closely related in time to the last numbered "time" event.
A/C Author's Comment. A personal explanation of events by the author.

 

0911     Vice Admiral Kurita aboard BB YAMATO, sends an immediate message to all ships ordering:

"CEASE ACTION, COME NORTH WITH ME, 20 KNOTS."

Still under aerial torpedo attack, BB YAMATO swings to port and heads north. The remaining ships of Centre Force begin to break off their attack against the remaining units of Taffy III and head northward to regroup.

A/C     Vice Admiral Kurita had clearly had enough and thought now was the time to regroup. His tactical picture of the battle from his vantage point far to the north was foggy at best. The ships of Centre Force were scattered over a wide area of ocean with no cohesiveness in their attack. Several of his heavy cruisers had by now succumbed to the increasingly heavy air attacks by Taffy aircraft. He also reasoned that since it was well over two hours since he ordered "general attack", the "heavy" carriers had all but gotten away and were well ahead of his pursuing lead units.

A/C     The constant assault by carrier borne aircraft was taking its toll on VADM Kurita’s remaining ships and weighed heavily in his decision to regroup. 

The American pilots from all three Taffies harassed Centre Force relentlessly with and without torpedoes, bombs, or ammunition for their guns. These efforts alone were the greatest significant factor contributing to Centre Force’s calculated retreat.

USS KALININ BAY (CVE-68)
Action Report

A TBM aircraft, believed to be from ST LO that had been circling the formation, made a steep glide astern of the ship and strafed in the wake of the ship about 100 yards astern, exploding two torpedoes which had been fired from enemy destroyers. The explosion of the torpedoes was only a short while after the enemy had ceased surface shelling of the force. This was the first warning of a torpedo attack being launched against this ship. Immediately after these torpedoes were exploded, another torpedo was sighted directly astern in the wake of the ship. It appeared to be broaching. The 5-inch gun on the fantail opened fire at a depressed elevation...and a shell exploded approximately 10 feet ahead of the approaching torpedo; it was next observed veering to port. At least 12 other torpedo wakes were sighted on parallel course on both sides of the ship. After the torpedo attack the entire enemy force retired to the northward.

Also, the sighting of Taffy II to the southeast led him to believe additional heavy U.S. carrier forces were nearby and would soon be adding their weight to the air attacks. He saw his only logical defense was to pull his remaining forces together to optimize their combined air defense and to possibly organize another attack as an effective, cohesive unit.

A/C     Vice Admiral Kurita was physically exhausted by this point. The entire SHŌ operation had been a great drain on his personal health. The need to stay alert only maximized as they approached nearer to Leyte Gulf, resulting in little or no sleep.

A/C     Also of significance was the actual damage inflicted upon Centre Force since departing Brunei Bay. Originally consisting of thirty-two warships, the entire remaining force now comprised about sixteen ships. Two days earlier he literally had to swim for his life after his flagship CA ATAGO was sunk beneath him and one other heavy cruiser was sunk. The crippling of another heavy cruiser in Palawan Passage and the need to dispatch two destroyers for escort duty significantly weakened his force. Later the next day during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea his forces came under heavy air attack by Halsey's Third Fleet task groups which cumulated in the loss of super-battleship MUSASHI. Add to that one more damaged heavy cruiser, including another destroyer for escort duties. The unrelenting U.S. carrier aircraft attacks received by his forces today only lessened his resolve. Unable to get past the heavy American air attacks, the entire SHŌ-GO plan seemed to be falling apart before his eyes and was now appeared to be failing.

A/C    In his Action Report, LCDR Hansen of DE DENNIS wrote, "...It appears that the tactics of the Task Group Commander were to retire from the superior enemy force, using all available means to do so.  The tactical use of smoke to cover the movements of the Task Group and conceal from the enemy the whole situation, including the possibility of reinforcements, appears to have been a prime objective.  The striking forces available, planes and escorts, were used to engage and delay the enemy and probably had much to do with finally turning back the enemy force.  The escorts were interposed between the enemy and the CVE's for concealment by smoke and to engage those advance units that were striking at the CVE group.

It is not possible for this command to judge the tactics of the enemy.  It appears that at one time an encirclement of the CVE group was commenced and apparently individual units attempted to close our formation.  These attacking units were effectively twarted by surface and air units.  No logical explanation of the enemy's failure to close the formation in force and strike boldly can be advanced, except that they were unwilling to risk what might be beyond the smoke." 

0911     A report is received aboard CVE ST LO that one-half of the Japanese force is retiring westward.

0913     Escort Carriers ST LO, WHITE PLAINS, KALININ BAY, KITKUN BAY and flagship FANSHAW BAY steam SW course 240° T. Japanese warships bear 048° T, 12,000 yards; 159° T, 15,200 yards; and 109° T, 11,200 yards.

0915     Destroyers URAKAZE, ISOKAZE, YUKIKAZE, and NOWAKI of Destroyer Squadron Ten fire torpedoes at the escort carriers at very long range and miss.

0916     TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT SHACKLE NAN GEORGE EASY UNSHACKLE TURN. FIDO ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v FIDO, "WILCO OUT." 

A/C      Ships of the task unit change course to 220° T.

EVENT     Shortly after their torpedo attack, the Japanese destroyers of Destroyer Squadron Ten close range and concentrate on DD JOHNSTON, causing great damage with effective, nearly point-blank 5-inch gunfire.

ETM2c Zachery Z. Zink, Jr., USNR
K Divisision, USS KADASHAN BAY (CVE-76)
TASK UNIT 77.4.2 (Taffy II)

"Our ship was not damaged in the Battle Off Samar but we sure were in harm’s way. We had two pilots shot down while strafing cruisers and battleships. They both made their way to land and were picked up by the native underground. They got back to our ship about a month later.

I gave the pilots credit for stopping the Jap fleet. They hit them like a bunch of Bees. Eighteen baby flat tops with all those planes in the air makes a lot of planes hitting the enemy. Many of our planes came back full of holes, some beyond repair. The pilots would get out and get back into another and take off. It was a scary day. By day’s end we had planes that were from several different carriers.

Ensign Nans L. Jensen from our ship was the first to spot the Jap fleet. He was later killed in a plane crash." 

A/C     The torpedo attack by the destroyers of DESRON TEN appeared to be performed half-heartedly. All destroyers fired at an extremely long range without results.

A/C     The combination of JOHNSTON's stubbornness in challenging the destroyers and VADM Kurita's recall order saved the escort carriers from further losses.

0917     TBS - Small Boys v Taffy 3, "TWO SMALL BOYS GET ON PORT BOW AND MAKE SMOKE."

0917     TBS - Great Danes v Taffy 3, "LOAD AVAILABLE FISH WITH TORPEDOES AND MAKE ATTACK ON THE ENEMY, OUT."

0918     Destroyer escort BUTLER expends all of its 5-inch ammunition. She is ordered to the head of the escort carrier formation to lay more smoke.

A/C     This clearly indicates the intense gunfire action the destroyer escorts were engaged in throughout the morning. With only two 5-inch guns, BUTLER fired nearly 300 rounds from each at ranges of 5 to 10 miles. One note: although she tried, BUTLER was the only destroyer escort remaining in the screen not to fire her 3 torpedoes.

0918     TBS - FIDO v Taffy 3, "HOW BAD ARE YOU HIT?"

0918     TBS - DERBY v Taffy 3, "HOW BAD ARE YOU HIT?"

0918     Placed out of action by taffy aircraft, CA CHŌKAI reports she is in serious trouble and unable to continue her pursuit of the escort carriers.

EVENT     As the men of DE ROBERTS carry out abandon ship procedures, a Japanese destroyer continues to throw shells at the helpless vessel.

A/C     The ship took four 5-inch hits while abandoning ship, killing six or eight men.

0919     TBS - Taffy 33 v Taffy 3, "HAVE YOU SMALL BOYS STAND BY 2 STRICKEN CARRIERS." .... v Taffy 33, "ROGER OUT."

0919     TBS - v DERBY, "I’M OK."

0919     TBS - v GEORGIA, "OK."

0919     TBS - v FIDO, "OK."

0919     TBS - v DEXTER, "OK."

0920     TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "AM EXPECTING SOME SMALL BOYS TO COME OUT AND JOIN ME, OUT."

LCDR Robert W. Copeland, USNR
Commanding Officer
USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE-413)

"I went on down the deck. Nothing about the ship portrayed her condition as much as the view I had when I turned from looking at those boys (the dead) and saw our motor whaleboat hanging in the davits with the boat gripes having been shot away...shrapnel had come and ripped the bottom of the boat out and the boat gripes away...so that she was dangling. She was still two-blocked up there at the davited heads, but she was dangling nevertheless.

Lieutenant Gurnett and I went forward up to the eyes of the ship, right up to the very bow. It was about twenty-five feet to the water because the bow was starting to come up. It was a good thing we went up there because we were able to spot a life raft more quickly than some of the men who left the ship fifteen minutes before we did because we knew where we were going...then we jumped."

0920     Unknown to VADM Kurita, heavy cruisers TONE and HAGURO have approached to within 10,000 yards of the remaining, badly damaged escort carriers of Taffy III; nearly point-blank range for their 203mm, 8-inch guns. Following VADM Kurita’s orders, they swing hard to port, breaking off their attack and steer northward to regroup with the remaining ships of Centre Force.

A/C     As seen from the port beam of ST LO, TONE and HAGURO had reversed course. Both had been firing steadily, though slowly, at the fleeing escort carriers.

0920    Between 0920 and 0930 DD JOHNSTON scuttles all depth charges in the stern racks.

0920     Repairs to the broken breach operating spring on DE DENNIS’ aft 5-inch gun are completed and No. 2 gun crew is shifted aft, placing the gun back in service.

0921     Admiral Halsey receives another plain-English message from RADM Sprague addressed to everyone...Kinkaid, Nimitz, and Tommy Sprague:

"STILL UNDER ATTACK AT 0830".

0921     TBS - DREADNAUGHT v Taffy 3, "I HAVE NO SMALL BOYS WITH ME AT THIS TIME, OUT."

0924     Battleship YAMATO, well to the north of the escort carriers and out of contact with the forward warships of Centre Force, continues her northward course with the eight warships of Destroyer Squadron Two nearby in tow.

0924     Lieutenant Waldrop of CVE ST LO’s Composite Squadron VC-65 aloft in his Avenger torpedo bomber, warns the escort carriers of "many torpedoes approaching from the starboard quarter." 

A/C     A number of torpedoes were sighted from the ship. Nearing the end of their run, they were porpoising near the surface. LT Waldrop, radio call sign, 88 DERBY, strafed one which exploded in the wake of KALININ BAY. Another exploded a short distance on the port quarter. The wakes were numerous and the porpoising so continuous that both ST LO and KALININ BAY attempted to explode the torpedoes with 40mm and 20mm fire.

VADM Matome Ugaki, IJN
Commander Battleship Division ONE
HIJMS YAMATO

"It was decided, first of all, to go down the center and destroy the group of carriers (Taffy III, and then it was decided that the fleet should head for the enemy off to the east (ADM Halsey’s carriers).

We accordingly changed course to SSE and headed in that direction but it was already too late. We were unable to locate the aforementioned carrier group. Headquarters (VADM Kurita) heard DESRON 10 ordering attack (the abortive torpedo attack against the CVE’s) and directed all ships to gradually assemble to the north. We changed course to north. The time was 0924." 

0925     Battleship KONGŌ, the most resolutely led Japanese battleship in this engagement, breaks off her pursuit of the fleeing escort carriers and turns northeast to regroup with the remaining warships of Centre Force.

0925     TBS - v Taffy 3, "LOOK OUT FOR FISH FROM ASTERN."

0925     TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT SHACKLE GEORGE NAN EASY UNSHACKLE. GEORGIA ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v GEORGIA, "WILCO OUT."

A/C     Ships of the task unit change course to 220° T.

0925     TBS - Taffy 3 v DREADNAUGHT, "DO YOU STILL WANT US ON THE PORT BOW, OVER." .... v Taffy 3, "NEGATIVE."

0925     The island of Samar is sighted visually aboard DE DENNIS, bearing 220° T.

EVENT     On board flagship CVE FANSHAW BAY, a signalman, upon seeing heavy cruisers TONE and HAGURO break off action and turn away, yells, "Goddamit boys, they're getting away!" Their retreat signaled the end of the major surface action of the Battle Off Samar.

A/C     The only remaining ships available to screen the escort carriers were DD HEERMANN, and destroyer escorts BUTLER, DENNIS, and RAYMOND. As stated earlier, only BUTLER had torpedoes remaining, and most if not all of the screen ships suffered from battle damage and were perilously low in 5-inch gun ammunition. Taffy III’s remaining screening ships were in no condition to repulse another determined attack. The two remaining Japanese heavy cruisers TONE and HAGURO were in an excellent position to finish off the remaining escort carriers if they chose to press it home.

0927     With his entire fleet engaged with VADM Ozawa to the north, ADM Halsey sends a message to VADM Kinkaid informing him that help is on the way:

"AM NOW ENGAGING ENEMY CARRIER FORCE. TG 38.1 WITH 5 CARRIERS AND 4 CAs (cruisers) HAS BEEN ORDERED TO ASSIST YOU IMMEDIATELY."

SURVIVING SHIP'S OF TASK UNIT 77.4.3
Upon conclusion of the surface action

Escort Carriers
USS FANSHAW BAY (CVE-70)
USS ST LO (CVE-63)
USS WHITE PLAINS (CVE-66)
USS KALININ BAY (CVE-68)
USS KITKUN BAY (CVE-71)

Destroyer
USS HEERMANN (DD-532)

Destroyer Escorts
USS DENNIS (DE-405)
USS JOHN C. BUTLER (DE-339)
USS RAYMOND (DE-341) 

Belatedly, he also let Seventh Fleet know his position by adding:

"MY POSITION WITH THREE OTHER CARRIER TASK GROUPS..."

A/C     The seemingly endless string of messages sent by Seventh Fleet units to Halsey was probably getting to him. Halsey's reply let VADM Kinkaid know how helpless he was by stating "there was nothing further he could do" at his present location. Once again the miscommunication between the fleets was evident by ADM Halsey stating "...my position...". Embarked in BB NEW JERSEY, ADM Halsey would have been riding along with Task Force 34 had they been left behind to guard San Bernardino Strait. His last message told VADM Kinkaid he was indeed far to the north with the carriers, striking VADM Ozawa's decoy Northern Force.

0927     TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SPEED IS SHACKLE YOKE DOG UNSHACKLE. DEXTER AND FIGLEAF ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v DEXTER, FIGLEAF, "WILCO OUT."

A/C     Ships of the task unit change speed to 15 knots.

0928     TBS - Taffy 3 v DERBY, "I HAVE ONE FISH READY TO GO ON CATAPULT."

0929     TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SPEED SHACKLE ITEM ABLE UNSHACKLE. DEXTER AND FIGLEAF ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v DEXTER, FIGLEAF, "WILCO OUT."

A/C     Ships of the task unit increase speed to 17 knots.

0930    As enemy shells hit DD JOHNSTON with disconcerning frequency, she is surrounded by four heavy cruisers and several destroyers.

0930     Thirty-six minutes after being ordered to attack the warships of Task Unit 77.4.2 (Taffy II), BB HARUNA ceases action and turns to port to rejoin Centre Force. On the western side of the battlescape, Destroyer Squadron Ten turn east to rejoin.

A/C     HARUNA’s luckless chase of Taffy II was another stroke of luck for the struggling escort carriers of Taffy III. Her eight 14-inch guns were thus diverted from RADM Sprague’s group and fortunately only scored a few near-misses against RADM Stump’s.

USS JOHNSTON (DD-557)
Action Report

Finally at about 0930 we found ourselves with two cruisers dead ahead of us, several Jap destroyers on our starboard quarter and two cruisers on our port quarter.  The battleships were still well astern of us.  Shortly after (about 0940) this an avalanche of shells knocked out our lone remaining engine room and fire room.  Director and plot lost power.  All communications were lost throughout the ship.  All guns were out of operation with the exception of five inch gun number four that was still shooting in local control.

0930    Destroyer Escort BUTLER observes the Japanese light forces on her port side unaccountably turn to port and retire after closing to about 13,200 yards.  Shortly thereafter Cruising Disposition 5R is ordered. 

SCREEN 5-INCH/38 CALIBER SHELL EXPENDITURES
DURING SURFACE ACTION
 SHIP  EXPENDITURES
HOEL (DD-533) 600
?
?
?
?
TOTAL    
Common 5-inch
AA Common w/MK18 fuse
AA Common w/MK32 fuse
Star shells
The initial hits on HOEL disabled her aft three 5-inch guns.  #53 was untenable due to steam escaping from the engine room, half of the barrel #54 was shot off by a direct hit, and #55 was frozen in train by a near hit.    
JOHNSTON (DD-557)  800+
?
?
?
?
TOTAL
Common 5-inch
AA Common w/MK18 fuse
AA Common w/MK32 fuse
Star shells 
HEERMANN (DD-532)  1025
150
875
0
0
TOTAL
Common 5-inch
AA Common w/MK18 fuse
AA Common w/MK32 fuse
Star shells  
SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE-413)  608
?
?
?
?
TOTAL
Common 5-inch
AA Common w/MK18 fuse
AA Common w/MK32 fuse
Star shells  
ROBERTS had expended all but 42 rounds of her 5-inch ammunition.
DENNIS (DE-405)  205

50
80
0
0

37
38
0
0
TOTAL
Gun #51
Common 5-inch
AA Common w/MK18 fuse
AA Common w/MK32 fuse
Star shells
Gun #52
Common 5-inch
AA Common w/MK18 fuse
AA Common w/MK32 fuse
Star shells   
RAYMOND (DE-341)  414
70
239
114
0
TOTAL
Common 5-inch
AA Common w/MK18 fuse
AA Common w/MK32 fuse
Star shells  
JOHN C. BUTLER (DE-339)   372
100
268
2
2
TOTAL
Common 5-inch
AA Common w/MK18 fuse
AA Common w/MK32 fuse
Star shells  

 
0930     After watching heavy cruisers TONE, HAGURO, and the remaining ships of the Japanese Centre Force retreat, RADM Sprague orders the nine remaining ships of Taffy III to form "formation 5 Roger," normal cruising formation.

A/C     The Battle Off Samar surface action has now ended for the nine surviving warships of Taffy III. Of the four ships currently sunk or sinking, unexpectedly, one more escort carrier would soon join their ranks.

0930     TBS - Taffy 3 v DREADNAUGHT, "DO YOU MAKE DAMAGE REPORTS ON THIS CIRCUIT FROM SMALL BOYS?"

0930    From 0930 to 1230 the GAMBIER BAY surviors assembled into seven or eight separate groups.  The lashed life rafts and floater nets together and collected sections of fligh deck planking and any other floating debris to support those from whom there was no room on or around the rafts.

EVENT     From the bow of the sinking ship, the last remaining men of DE ROBERTS abandon ship and jump into the water.

0931     TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT TURN SHACKLE NAN YOKE EASY UNSHACKLE. FIGLEAF AND DERBY ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v FIGLEAF, DERBY, "WILCO OUT."

A/C     Ships of the task unit change course to 210° T.

0932     As the range between the retiring Japanese fleet and DE DENNIS increases, cruising disposition 5-R is ordered.

0934     Destroyer Escort DENNIS changes speed to 19 knots.

0935     Destroyer Escort DENNIS changes speed to 17 knots.

0935     The escort carriers of Taffy II launch eleven Avengers and eight Wildcat fighters. Only one torpedo bomber is armed with a torpedo, the remainder carry four 500-pound bombs apiece.

0940    TU 77.4.1 (Taffy I) CVE SUWANEE reports all fire have been extinguished.

0940     Destroyer JOHNSTON dead in the water, becomes the focal point of Destroyer Squadron Ten's gunfire. Destroyers URAKAZE, ISOKAZE, YUKIKAZE, and NOWAKI concentrate their fire on her "...like Indians circling a covered wagon...".  Shells hits knock out #1 engine room and fire room.  The ship slows and finally goes dead in the water.

A/C     JOHNSTON was helpless at this point.

0945     Badly battered, sinking, and unable to defend herself, CDR Evans aboard DD JOHNSTON orders "abandon ship."

0945     TBS - Taffy 3 v Taffy 2, "DUMMY EXPECTS TO BE AT SOUTH OF POINT FIN AT 0950." .... v Taffy 3, ‘ROGER OUT."

0945     Destroyer Escort DENNIS changes course to 210° T.

0948     Destroyer Escort DENNIS changes course to 180° T.

0949     TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT SHACKLE ITEM JIG KING UNSHACKLE TURN. DERBY AND BRASSLOCK ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v DERBY, BRASSLOCK, "WILCO OUT."

MoMM3c Robert J. Sochor, Sr., USNR
USS JOHNSTON (DD-557)

”When l got to the fantail I could not locate a life preserver and my back side now began hurting a great deal. With few options remaining, I realized there was precious little time left to abandon ship and get safely out of range of the suction of the sinking ship. Not sure whether to jump or dive, I did a half jump, half dive into the water. Not knowing how badly I was bleeding and being An excellent swimmer, I decided to swim as fast as I could to the nets and rafts while still able. It seemed as though I swam with little or no effort. Half way to the rafts I met up with a pharmacist whose name I believe was Ken Bowers. He was very young and religious and always carried a small bible. He had on a life jacket, so I hung on to him to rest for a few minutes. We were now about halfway between the sinking ship and the rafts and nets. He said he could not swim and he thought his life jacket would not hold the two of us. I told him I just wanted to rest a minute or so and then I will leave. We were about 1/8 of a mile from the sinking ship when I turned to him and said, “Take your last look at the Johnston,” as it disappeared into the sea.”

A/C     Ships of the task unit change course to 180° T.

0950     TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "SIGNAL EXECUTE UPON RECEIPT SPEED SHACKLE ITEM DOG UNSHACKLE. JUGGERNAUGHT ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v JUGGERNAUGHT, "WILCO OUT."

A/C     Ships of the task unit change speed to 15 knots.

0955    Aboard DD JOHNSTON all personnel capable to do so have left the ship.  The gig and four life rafts are successfully launched.  However, the gig is full of shrapnel and sinks shortly after it was in the water.  Considerable difficulty is experienced in getting the floater nets over the side as they are not easily removed from the ship.  Several floater nets go down with the ship.

0957     TBS - Great Danes v Taffy 3, "ALL GREAT DANES GET IN POSITION TO PANCAKE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. DEXTER ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v DEXTER, "WILCO OUT."

A/C     CTU 77.4.3 ordered all CVEs to prepare to land aircraft as soon as possible.

0958     TBS - v FIDO, "WE ARE READY IN A FEW MINUTES."

0958     TBS - v DEXTER, "I HAVE SHACKLE HOW UNSHACKLE VT PLANES ON DECK LOADED WITH FISH. WILL BE READY TO LAUNCH IN SHACKLE YOKE KING UNSHACKLE MINUTES."

A/C     KITKUN BAY reports she has six TBM torpedo bombers on deck loaded with torpedoes, ready for launch in ten minutes.

0959     TBS - v DERBY, "READY TO PANCAKE AT ANY TIME."

A/C     ST LO reports....

0959     TBS - DEXTER v Taffy 3, "WE ARE LAUNCHING YOUR BOYS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I WILL COME INTO THE WIND." .... v DEXTER, "WILCO OUT."

A/C     KITKUN BAY reports....

1000      Admiral Halsey, aboard BB NEW JERSEY, is handed a message from ADM Nimitz, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in Pearl Harbor. The message reads:

"WHERE IS, RPT (REPEAT), WHERE IS TASK FORCE 34? RR THE WORLD WONDERS."

An irate Halsey cannot control his emotions and throws his cap to the deck!

A/C     Admiral Nimitz, like Kinkaid, Sprague and most others, also believed TF 34 was guarding San Bernardino Strait.

A/C     The actual message text received by BB NEW JERSEY's communications center was:

"TURKEY TROTS TO WATER RR WHERE IS RPT WHERE IS TASK FORCE 34? RR THE WORLD WONDERS."

A/C     The first and last "sentences" were padding, separated from the "meat" of the message by double letters (RR). Padding was routinely placed on messages to confuse the enemy code breakers. When ADM Halsey was given this particular message, the words making up the end padding, "THE WORLD WONDERS," were not dropped by the communications center personnel because plausibly, they appeared to be part of the message.

LT Robert C. Hagen, USNR
Gunnery & Senior Surviving Officer
USS JOHNSTON (DD-557)

"The effectiveness of the Japanese gunnery was not impressive.  While they were good enough to sink us, with gunfire they had available, our staying afloat as long as we did is nothing short of remarkable. Their reactions seemed very slow, and we continually succeeded in throwing many salvos into both Jap cruisers and destroyers before they would retaliate.  At the medium ranges at which they was engaged their percentage of hits unbelievingly low.  No fire control radar was apparent and no effective search radar seemed able to help them anticipate us, as we continually surprised them as we came out of the smoke screen.

Green and red projectile bursts were observed closely.  The battleships were firing AP projectiles. The Japanese destroyer torpedo attack was ineffective as a result of their unexplainable failure to take a favorable position on the bow of the carriers before launching their attack.  In general the Japanese appeared hesitant and uncertain as to what to do, both in their maneuvering and in their gunnery, and as a result ended up doing very little."

Admiral Halsey, knowing that the double letters "RR" indicated the words in the last sentence were padding, perceived the entire message as a calculated insult from his superior officer. An infuriated Halsey contemplated his next move...

1000     Aboard BB YAMATO VADM Kurita completes his initial battle report summary for GHQ. He reports the sure sinking of two American carriers, one of the INDEPENDENCE class, two heavy cruisers, some destroyers, and damage to several others. Also reported is the serious damage imposed upon heavy cruisers CHŌKAI, CHIKUMA, and KUMANO.

A/C     Kurita’s assessment of the battle damage inflicted upon the Americans came from all of his commanders and staff. Later, bloated reports from the Commander of the Tenth Destroyer Squadron inflated the number of carriers sunk to four, all of course, larger than escort carriers since the Japanese had no knowledge of their existence.

1000     TBS - Taffy 3 v MONGREL, "I AM WELL FLOODED FORWARD, AM MAKING SHACKLE YOKE EASY UNSHACKLE." .... v Taffy 3, "ROGER OUT."

A/C     DENNIS, obviously laboring from the flooding, reports her speed as 10 knots.

1000     TBS - Taffy 3 v FIDO, "WE ARE TRYING TO GET INTO POSITION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE."

1000     One Avenger torpedo bomber from ST LO’s Composite Squadron VC-65, armed with a torpedo, is launched in accordance with orders from CTU 77.4.3, with instructions to join a similarly loaded Avenger from CVE KITKUN BAY. Both are under orders to attack the retiring Japanese force.

1001     TBS - DREADNAUGHT v Taffy 3, "DO YOU REQUIRE ASSISTANCE NOW?"

1001     TBS - Taffy 3 v DREADNAUGHT, "I AM IN THE SCREEN. I WOULD LIKE TO SLOW DOWN TO WORK ON MY FORWARD BULKHEADS." .... v Taffy 3, "ROGER OUT."

A/C     HEERMANN reports....

1001     Escort carrier ST LO is ordered to land any composite squadron aircraft of Taffy III.

TU 77.4.2/COMCARDIV 24 Action Report
RADM Felix B. Stump, USN
in USS NATOMA BAY (CVE-62)

Aircraft attack groups of TU 77.4.2 plus attacks groups from TU 77.4.1 and possibly some from TU 77.4.3 were responsible for turning this Jap force away from TU 77.4.3, TU 77.4.2 and the entrance to LEYTE GULF, causing the Jap force to flee to the north where they were later repeatedly attacked by aircraft from both TG 77.4 and the fast carriers.

Throughout the 25th of October tactical performance was demonstrated by every ship of this Task Unit.  Speed in re-arming and precision  and speed in launching and landing without accidents was amazing.  The valor and skill displayed by pilots in making repeated glide bombing and torpedo attacks, often without even strafing support, against heavy, accurate, intense anti-aircraft fire is believed to have been of the higest order.

A/C     Several of the escort carriers’ flight decks were out of commission. ST LO’s flight deck was probably in the best shape of the five remaining CVEs.

1003     Admiral Halsey receives another message, this time from VADM Kinkaid, urgently requesting help:

"MY SITUATION IS CRITICAL. FAST BATTLESHIPS AND SUPPORT BY AIR STRIKE MAY BE ABLE TO PREVENT ENEMY FROM DESTROYING CVEs AND ENTERING LEYTE".

1005     Taffy II's latest strike arrives and attacks the crippled Japanese cruisers, scoring three more hits.

1006     TBS - Taffy 3 v DREADNAUGHT, "MY SPEED SHACKLE KING EASY UNSHACKLE." .... v Taffy 3, "ROGER OUT."

A/C     HEERMANN reports her speed as zero knots, all stop.

1006     TBS - Mercury 3 v Taffy 3, "ALL GREAT DANES PREPARE SPECIAL PANCAKE AND SLINGSHOT. DEXTER ACKNOWLEDGE." .... v DEXTER, "WILCO OUT."

A/C     CTU 77.4.3 directs special aircraft landings and catapult launches.

1006     TBS - v DERBY, "I HAVE A FISH READY TO LAUNCH."

A/C     ST LO reports she has a TBM torpedo bomber ready....

1006     TBS - Taffy 3 v FIDO, "I HAVE TWO FISH READY TO LAUNCH." .... "FIDO, DERBY," v Taffy 3, "ROGER OUT."

A/C     WHITE PLAINS reports she has two TBM torpedo bombers ready....

1007     Destroyer Escort USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE-413), reduced to a twisted wreck, rolls over and sinks, the third American ship of Taffy III to succumb to Centre Force.

A/C     SAMUEL B. ROBERTS lost three officers and eighty-six enlisted men, many of whom died of wounds on the rafts during the next forty-eight hours.

1008     TBS - Taffy 3 v MONGREL, "REQUEST MEDICAL AID WE HAVE TWO KILLED AND EIGHT SEVERELY WOUNDED. WILL PREPARE SUMMARY OF OUR DAMAGE AND WILL SUBMIT IT AT EARLIEST POSSIBLE MOMENT." .... v Taffy 3, "ROGER OUT."

A/C     DENNIS reports....

1009     TBS - Taffy 3 v DREADNAUGHT, "I AM GOING TO UNLOAD A HOT GUN." .... v Taffy 3, "AFFIRMATIVE."

A/C     HEERMANN reports.

1010     Destroyer USS JOHNSTON (DD-557) rolls over and sinks bow first, receiving a salute from the skipper of a Japanese destroyer as she goes down.

A/C     Of JOHNSTON’s 327 officers and men, only 141 survived.

1010     Steering southward, CVE ST LO announces "SECURE FROM GENERAL QUARTERS."

A/C     ST LO had been at general quarters since about 0650. 

1014     Heavy cruiser SUZUYA, badly damaged by previous attacks, is hit again by US carrier aircraft and is left in a sinking condition.

VADM Matome Ugaki, IJN
Commander Battleship Division ONE
HIJMS YAMATO

"While heading north, flashes were sighted in direction 280 and the fleet headed in that direction while continuing to assemble. Sighted scattered patches of water colored by dye loaded shells and a considerably large area of darkish red water. Immediately beyond the latter were enemy survivors, some clinging to damaged cutters and some just drifting. I wonder what these survivors thought on seeing our fleet sweep boldly by in pursuit? Even though they were in need of help they gave no indication of it when they saw who we were." 

1015     Aboard DE DENNIS, the Japanese fleet is reported bearing 070° T, 25 miles by radar.

1016     An additional CVE joins the formation.

A/C     The straggling CVE was probably KALININ BAY. She had taken about fifteen 8-inch shell hits during the battle.

1016    TU 77.4.1 (Taffy 1) CVE SANTEE resports a submarine astern of the ship.  Destroyer escort ROWELL investigates but finds no contact.

Chikuma2_Samar.jpeg

National Archives Photograph

HIJMS CA CHIKUMA  and DD NOWAKI at Samar

1018     Vice Admiral Kurita orders the three damaged heavy cruisers of his force to retire independently. Only CA KUMANO is able to do so, the other two are in dire straits and in a sinking condition. For this purpose three destroyers are dispatched as escort and clean-up duties. From Destroyer Squadron Two, DD HAYASHIMO is sent to aid and screen CA KUMANO and DD FUJINAMI to transfer the men of CA CHŌKAI and subsequently sink her by torpedo. To rescue the men of struggling CA CHIKUMA, DD NOWAKI is dispatched from Destroyer Squadron Ten with the intent to sink her after transfer of her crew is complete.

1020     TBS - Taffy 3 v FIDO, "WE ARE LAUNCHING FOUR FISH AND ONE CHICKEN. THAT IS ALL WE HAVE AT PRESENT TIME."

A/C     WHITE PLAINS reports the launching of four TBM torpedo bombers and one FM-2 fighter.

1020     Condition Watches are set aboard CVE ST LO, giving the crew a chance to eat and relax.

1021     The task unit turns into the wind to land aircraft.

1030     American CV HORNET, from Vice Admiral McCain's TG 38.1, launches six fighters to search for Centre Force which is 335 miles away.

1030     TBS - GEORGIA v Taffy 3, "MIKE CORPEN SHACKLE YOKE FOX DOG UNSHACKLE." .... v GEORGIA, "WILCO OUT."

A/C     CTU orders KALININ BAY to course 135° T.

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