Naval Operations in the Pacific from March 1944 to October 1945

"Anchors Aweigh"

[Excerpted from Admiral Earnest J. King, Second Report to the Secretary of the Navy: Covering Combat Operations from 1 March 1944 to 1 March, 1945. March 1945, pp. 103-133 and Second Report to the Secretary of the Navy: Covering the period 1 March 1945 to 1 October 1945. December 1945, pp. 173-204]

Combat Operations

The Pacific

DURING the year 1944, the whole of the United States Navy in the Pacific was on the offensive. My previous report, summarizing combat operations to 1 March 1944, showed the evolution by which we had passed from the defensive, through the defensive-offensive and offensive-defensive stages, to the full offensive. To understand the significance of our operations in the account which follows, the reader must be aware of the basic reasons behind them.

The campaign in the Pacific has important elements of dissimilarity from the campaign in Europe. Since the "battle of the beaches" was finally won with the landings in Normandy last June, the naval task in Europe has become of secondary scope. The European war has turned into a vast land campaign, in which the role of the navies is to keep open the trans-Atlantic sea routes against an enemy whose naval strength appears to be broken except for his U-boat activities. In contrast, the Pacific war is still in the "crossing the ocean" phase. There are times in the Pacific when troops get beyond the range of naval gun support, but much of the fighting has been, is now, and will continue for some time to be on beaches where Army and Navy combine in amphibious operations. Therefore, the essential element of our dominance over the Japanese has been the strength of our fleet. The ability to move troops from island to island, and to put them ashore against opposition, is due to the fact that our command of the sea is spreading as Japanese naval strength withers. As a rough generalization, the war in Europe is now predominantly an affair of armies, while the war in the Pacific is still predominantly naval.

The strategy in the Pacific has been to advance on the core of the Japanese position from two directions. Under General of the Army MacArthur, a combined Allied Army-Navy force has moved north from the Australian region. Under Fleet Admiral Nimitz, a United States Army-

Navy-Marine force has moved west from Hawaii. The mobile power embodied in the major combatant vessels of the Pacific Fleet has, sometimes united and sometimes separately, covered operations along both routes of advance, and at the same time contained the Japanese Navy.

In November 1943 South Pacific forces secured a beachhead on Bougainville, on which airfields were constructed for the neutralization of the Japanese base of Rabaul on New Britain. Simultaneously Southwest Pacific forces were working their way along the northern coast of New Guinea.

In November 1943 Pacific Ocean Areas forces attacked the Gilbert Islands, and at the end of January 1944 the Marshall Islands-the first stepping stones along the road from Hawaii. To control the seas and render secure a route from Hawaii westward, it was not necessary to occupy every atoll. We could and did pursue a "leap frog" strategy, the basic concept of which is to seize those islands essential for our use by-passing many strongly held intervening ones which were not necessary for our purposes. This policy was made possible by the gradually increasing disparity between our own naval power and that of the enemy, so that the enemy was and still is unable to support the garrisons of the by-passed atolls. Consequently, by cutting the enemy's line of communicating bases, the isolated ones became innocuous, without the necessity for our expending effort for their capture. Therefore, we can with impunity by-pass numerous enemy positions, with small comfort to the isolated Japanese garrisons, who are left to meditate on the fate of exposed forces beyond the range of naval support.

This strategy has brought the Navy into combat with shore-based air forces. It has involved some risks and considerable difficulty, which we have overcome. However, as we near the enemy's homeland, the problem becomes more and more difficult. During the first landing in the Philippines, for example, it was necessary to deal with the hundred or more Japanese airfields that were within flying range of Leyte. This imposed on our carrier forces a heavy task which we may expect to become increasingly heavy from time to time. While shore-based air facilities are being established as rapidly as possible in each position we capture, there will always be a period following a successful landing when control of the air will rest solely on the strength of our carrier based aviation.

The value of having naval vessels in support of landings has been fully confirmed. The renewed importance of battleships is one of the interesting features of the Pacific war. The concentrated power of heavy naval guns is very great by standards of land warfare, and the artillery support they have given in landing operations has been a material factor in getting our troops ashore with minimum loss of life. Battleships and cruisers, as well as smaller ships, have proved their worth for this purpose.

As I pointed out above, our advance across the Pacific followed two routes. At the opening of the period covered by this report, General of the Army MacArthur's forces were working their way along the northern coast of New Guinea, while Fleet Admiral Nimitz, by the capture of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, had taken the first steps along the other route. The narrative which follows begins with the operations leading to the capture of Hollandia on the north coast of New Guinea.


On 13 February 1944 the final occupation of the Huon Peninsula in northeast New Guinea was completed. The occupation of the Admiralty Islands on 29 February 1944 by General of the Army MacArthur's forces and of Emirau in the St. Matthias group, north of New Britain, by Admiral W. F. Halsey's forces on 20 March had further advanced our holdings. In these two operations, the amphibious attack forces were commanded respectively by Rear Admiral W. M. Fechteler and Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) T. S. Wilkinson. On 20 March battleships and destroyers bombarded Kavieng, New Ireland.

The enemy had concentrated a considerable force at Wewak, on the northern coast of New Guinea, several hundred miles west of the Huon Peninsula. Hollandia, more than two hundred miles west of Wewak, had a good potential harbor and three airstrips capable of rehabilitation and enlargement. In order to accelerate the reconquest of New Guinea, it was decided to push far to the northwest, seize the coastal area in the vicinity of Aitape and Hollandia, thus by-passing and neutralizing the enemy's holdings in the Hansa Bay and Wewak areas. This operation was made possible by the availability of the fast carrier task force of the Pacific Fleet to perform two functions, namely to neutralize enemy positions in the Western Carolines from which attacks might be launched against our landing forces or against our new bases in the Admiralties and Emirau, and to furnish close cover for the landing.

Carrier Task Force Attacks on Western Carolines

Under command of Admiral R. A. Spruance, Commander Fifth Fleet, a powerful force of the Pacific Fleet, including carriers, fast battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, attacked the Western Carolines. On 30 and 31 March, carrier-based planes struck at the Palau group with shipping as primary target. They sank 3 destroyers, 17 freighters, 5 oilers and 3 small vessels, and damaged 17 additional ships. The planes also bombed the airfields, but they did not entirely stop Japanese air activity. At the same time, our aircraft mined the waters around Palau in order to immobilize enemy shipping in the area.

Part of the force struck Yap and Ulithi on 31 March and Woleai on 1 April.

Although the carrier aircraft encountered active air opposition over the Palau area on both days, they quickly overcame it. Enemy planes approached the task force on the evening of 29 March and 30 March but were destroyed or driven off by the combat air patrols. During the three days' operation our plane losses were 25 in combat, while the enemy had 114 planes destroyed in combat and 46 on the ground. These attacks were successful in obtaining the desired effect, and the operation in New Guinea went forward without opposition from the Western Carolines.

Capture and Occupation of Hollandia

The assault on Hollandia involved a simultaneous three-pronged attack by Southwest Pacific forces. Landings at Tanahmerah Bay and, 30 miles to the eastward, at Humboldt Bay trapped the Hollandia airstrips situated 12 miles inland. The third landing, an additional 90 miles to the eastward at Aitape, provided a diversionary attack, wiped out an enemy strong point, and won another airstrip. Approximately 50,000 Japanese were cut off and the complete domination of New Guinea by Allied forces was hastened. The operation was under the command of General of the Army MacArthur. Three separate attack groups operated under a single attack force commander, Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) D. E. Barbey, who also commanded the Tanahmerah Bay attack group. Rear Admiral Fechteler commanded the Humboldt Bay group and Captain (now Rear Admiral) A. G. Noble the Aitape group. This amphibious operation was the largest that had been undertaken in the Southwest Pacific area up to that time. Over 200 ships were engaged. A powerful force of carriers, fast battleships, cruisers and destroyers from the Pacific Fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) M. A. Mitscher, covered the landings.

Throughout 21 April, the day before the landings, the carriers launched strikes against the airstrips in the Aitape-Hollandia area, which had previously been bombed nightly since 12 April by land-based aircraft. On the night of 21-22 April, light cruisers and destroyers bombarded the airfields at Wakde and Sawar. The amphibious landing took place on the 22nd, and on that and the following day planes from the Pacific Fleet carriers supported operations ashore, while keeping neighboring enemy airfields neutralized. Prepared defenses were found abandoned at Aitape; at Hollandia and Tanahmerah Bay there were none. The enemy took to the hills and the landings were virtually unopposed. Once ashore, all three groups encountered difficulties with swampy areas behind the beaches, lack of overland communications, and dense jungles. In spite of these obstacles, satisfactory progress was made. At the end of the second day the Aitape strip had been occupied and fighters were using it within twenty-four hours. The Hollandia strips fell a few days later.

As soon as the airstrips were in full operation and the port facilities at Hollandia developed, we were ready for further attacks at points along the northwestern coast of New Guinea.

Carrier ask Force Attack on Central and Eastern Carolines

Returning from support of the Hollandia landings, the fast carrier task force attacked Truk on 29 and 30 April. Initial fighter sweeps overcame almost all enemy air opposition by 1000 on the morning of the 29th, and thereafter over 2200 sorties, dropping 740 tons of bombs, were flown against land installations on Truk Atoll. Our planes encountered vigorous and active antiaircraft fire, but did exceedingly heavy damage to buildings and installations ashore. One air attack was attempted on our carriers on the morning of the 29th, but the approaching planes were shot down before they could do damage. Our plane losses in combat were 27 against 63 enemy planes destroyed in the air and at least 60 more on the ground.

For over two hours on 30 April a group of cruisers and destroyers bombarded Satawan Island, where the enemy had been developing an air base. Although existing installations were of little importance, the bombardment served to hinder the enemy's plans and furnished training for the crews of our ships. Similarly, a group of fast battleships and destroyers, returning from Truk, bombarded Ponape for 80 minutes on 1 May. There was no opposition except for antiaircraft fire against the supporting planes.


During the summer of 1944, Pacific Ocean Areas forces captured the islands of Saipan, Guam and Tinian, and neutralized the other Marianas Islands which remained in the hands of the enemy.

The Marianas form part of an almost continuous chain of islands extending 1350 miles southward from Tokyo. Many of these islands are small, rocky, and valueless from a military viewpoint; but others provide a series of mutually supporting airfields and bases, like so many stepping stones, affording protected lines of air and sea communication from the home islands of the Japanese Empire through the Nanpo Shoto [Bonin and Volcano Islands] and Marianas to Truk; thence to the Eastern Carolines and Marshalls, as well as to the Western Carolines, the Philippines and Japanese-held territory to the south and west. Our occupation of the Marianas would, therefore, effectively cut these admirably protected lines of enemy communication, and give us bases from which we could not only control sea areas further west in the Pacific but also on which we could base aircraft to bomb Tokyo and the home islands of the Empire.

As soon as essential points in the Marshall Islands had been secured, preparations were made for the Marianas operation. Admiral Spruance, who had already conducted the Gilberts and Marshalls operations, was in command. Amphibious forces were directly under Vice Admiral (now Admiral) R. K. Turner and the Expeditionary Forces were commanded by Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, USMC. Ships were assembled, trained, and loaded at many points in the Pacific Ocean Areas. More than 600 vessels ranging from battleships and aircraft carriers to cruisers, high-speed transports and tankers, more than 2,000 aircraft, and some 300,000 Navy, Marine and Army personnel took part in the capture of the Marianas.

Enemy airbases on Marcus and Wake Islands flanked on the north our approach to the Marianas. Consequently, a detachment of carriers, cruisers, and destroyers from the Fifth Fleet attacked these islands almost a month before the projected landings in order to destroy aircraft, shore installations, and shipping. Carrier planes struck Marcus on 19 and 20 May and Wake on 23 May. They encountered little opposition and accomplished their mission with very light losses due to antiaircraft fire.

From about the beginning of June, land-based aircraft from the Admiralties, Green, Emirau and Hollandia kept enemy bases, especially at Truk, Palau, and Yap, well neutralized. The fast carriers and battleships of the Fifth Fleet, under Vice Admiral Mitscher, prepared the way for the amphibious assault. Carrier planes began attacks on the Marianas on 11 June with the object of first destroying aircraft and air facilities and then concentrating on bombing shore defenses in preparation for the coming amphibious landings. They achieved control of the air over the Marianas on the first fighter sweep of 11 June and thereafter attacked air facilities, defense installations, and shipping in the vicinity.

Initial Landings on Saipan

Saipan, the first objective, was the key to the Japanese defenses; having been in Japanese hands since World War I, its fortifications were formidable. Although a rugged island unlike the coral atolls of the Gilberts and Marshalls, Saipan was partly surrounded by a reef which made landing extremely difficult. To prepare for the assault scheduled for 15 June, surface ships began to bombard Saipan on the 13th. The fast battleships fired their main and secondary batteries for nearly 7 hours into the western coast of Saipan and Tinian Islands. Under cover of this fire, fast mine sweepers cleared the waters for the assault ships, and underwater demolition teams examined the beaches for obstructions and cleared away such as were found.

The brunt of surface bombardment for destruction of defenses was borne by the fire support groups of older battleships, cruisers and destroyers, which preceded the transports to the Marianas and began to bombard Saipan and Tinian on 14 June.

Early on the morning of 15 June the transports, cargo ships, and LST's of Vice Admiral Turner's amphibious force came into position off the west coast of Saipan. The bombardment ships delivered a heavy, close range pre-assault fire, and carrier aircraft made strikes to destroy enemy resistance on the landing beaches. The first troops reached the beaches at 0840, and within the next half hour several thousand were landed. In spite of preparatory bombing and bombardment, the enemy met the landing force with heavy fire from mortars and small calibre guns on the beaches. Initial beachheads were established, not without difficulty, and concentrated and determined enemy fire and counterattacks caused some casualties and rendered progress inland slower than was anticipated.

The 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions landed first and were followed the next day by the 27th Army Infantry Division. Although Saipan had an area of but 72 square miles, it was rugged and admirably suited to delaying defensive action by a stubborn and tenacious enemy. The strong resistance at Saipan, coupled with the news of a sortie of the Japanese fleet, delayed landings on Guam.

Battle of the Philippine Sea

This sortie of the Japanese fleet promised to develop into a full scale action. On 15 June, the very day of the Saipan landings, Admiral Spruance received reports that a large force of enemy carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers was headed toward him, evidently on its way to relieve the beleaguered garrisons in the Marianas. As the primary mission of the American forces in the area was to capture the Marianas, the Saipan amphibious operations had to be protected from enemy interference at all costs. In his plans for what developed into the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Admiral Spruance was rightly guided by this basic mission. He therefore operated aggressively to the westward of the Marianas, but did not draw his carriers and battleships so far away that they could not protect the amphibious units from any possible Japanese "end run" which might develop.

While some of the fast carriers and battleships were disposed to the westward to meet this threat, other carriers on 15 and 16 June attacked the Japanese bases of Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima. During this strike to the northward our carrier planes destroyed enemy planes in the air and on the ground, and set fire to buildings, ammunition and fuel dumps, thus temporarily neutralizing those bases, and freeing our forces from attack by enemy aircraft coming from the Bonins and Volcanos. The forces employed in the northward strike were recalled to rendezvous west of Saipan, as were also many of the ships designated to give fire support to the troops on Saipan.

On 19 June the engagement with the Japanese fleet began. The actions on the 19th consisted of two air battles over Guam with Japanese planes, evidently launched from carriers and intended to land for fueling and arming on the fields of Guam and Tinian, and a large scale lengthy attack by enemy aircraft on Admiral Spruance's ships. The result of the day's action was some 402 enemy planes destroyed out of a total of 545 seen, as against 17 American planes lost and minor damage to 4 ships.

With further air attacks against Saipan by enemy aircraft unlikely because of the enemy's large carrier plane losses, and with its basic mission thus fulfilled, our fleet headed to the westward hoping to bring the Japanese fleet to action. Air searches were instituted early on the 20th to locate the Japanese surface ships. Search planes did not make contact until afternoon and, when heavy strikes from our carriers were sent out, it was nearly sunset. The enemy was so far to the westward that our air attacks had to be made at extreme range. They sank 2 enemy carriers, 2 destroyers and 1 tanker, and severely damaged 3 carriers, 1 battleship, 3 cruisers, 1 destroyer and 3 tankers. We lost only 16 planes shot down by enemy antiaircraft and fighter planes. Precariously low gasoline in our planes and the coming of darkness cut the attack short. Our pilots had difficulty in locating their carriers and many landed in darkness. A total of 73 planes were lost due to running out of fuel and landing crashes but over 90 per cent of the personnel of planes which made water landings near our fleet were picked up in the dark by destroyers and cruisers. The heavy damage inflicted on the Japanese surface ships, and prevention of enemy interference to operations at Saipan, made these losses a fair price to pay in return.

The enemy continued retiring on the night of the 20th and during the 21st. Although his fleet was located by searches on the 21st, planes sent out to attack did not make contact. Admiral Spruance's primary mission precluded getting out of range of the Marianas, and on the night of the 21st, distance caused the chase to be abandoned. The Battle of the Philippine Sea broke the Japanese effort to reinforce the Marianas; thereafter, the capture and occupation of the group went forward without serious threat of enemy interference.

Conquest of Saipan

During the major fleet engagement, land fighting on Saipan continued as bitterly as before. Between 15 and 20 June the troops pushed across the southern portion of the island, gaining control of two enemy airfields. During the next ten days, from the 21st to the 30th, the rough central section around Mount Tapotchau was captured. The Japanese, exploiting the terrain, resisted with machine guns, small arms and light mortars from caves and other almost inaccessible positions. This central part of the island was cleared of organized resistance, and the last stage of the battle commenced. By 1 July, the 2nd Marine Division had captured the heights overlooking Garapan and Tanapag Harbor on the west coast, while the 4th Marine Division and 27th Army Division had advanced their lines to within about five miles of the northern tip of the island. From 1 to 9 July the enemy resisted sporadically, in isolated groups, in northern Saipan. On 4 July the 2nd Marine Division captured Garapan, the capital city of the island. One desperate "banzai" counterattack occurred on 7 July but this was stemmed and all organized resistance ceased on the 9th. Many isolated small groups remained, which required continuous mopping up operations; in fact, some mopping up still continues.

While the campaign ashore went on, it was constantly supported by surface and air forces. Surface ships were always ready to deliver gunfire, which was controlled by liaison officers ashore in order to direct the fire where it would be of greatest effectiveness. Carrier aircraft likewise assisted. Supplies, ammunition, artillery and reinforcements were brought to the reef by landing craft and were carried ashore by amphibious vehicles until such time as reef obstacles were cleared and craft could beach. The captured Aslito airfield was quickly made ready for use, and on 22 June Army planes began operation from there in patrols against enemy aircraft. Tanapag Harbor was cleared and available for use 7 July.

Japanese planes from other bases in the Marianas and the Carolines harassed our ships off Saipan from the time of landing until 7 July. Their raids were not large and, considering the number of ships in the area, these attacks did little damage. An LCI was sunk and the battleship MARYLAND damaged. An escort carrier, 2 fleet tankers, and 4 smaller craft received some damage, but none serious enough to require immediate withdrawal from the area.

While these activities went on in Saipan, the fast carriers and battleships continued to afford cover to the westward, and also to prevent the enemy from repairing his air strength in the Bonins and Volcanos. On 23 and 24 June, Pagan Island was heavily attacked by carrier planes. Iwo Jima received attacks on 24 June and 4 July and Chichi Jima and Haha Jima on the latter date. The 4 July attack on Iwo included bombardment by cruisers and destroyers. These attacks kept air facilities neutralized and destroyed shipping.

Reoccupation of Guam

As has been seen, the unexpectedly stiff resistance on Saipan, together with the sortie of the Japanese fleet, had necessitated a postponement of landings on Guam. This delay permitted a period of air and surface bombardment which was unprecedented in severity and duration. Surface ships first bombarded Guam on 16 June; from 8 July until the landing on the 21st the island was under daily gunfire from battleships, cruisers and destroyers, which destroyed all important emplaced defenses. This incessant bombardment was coordinated with air strikes from fields on Saipan and from fast and escort carriers. The destruction of air facilities and planes on Guam and Rota, as well as the neutralization of more distant Japanese bases, gave us uncontested control of the air. The forces engaged in the reoccupation of Guam were under the command of Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) R. L. Conolly.

Troops landed on Guam on 21 July. As at Saipan the beach conditions were unfavorable and landing craft had to transfer their loads to amphibious vehicles or pontoons at the edge of the reef. With the support of bombarding ships and planes, the first waves of amphibious vehicles beached at 0830. There were two simultaneous landings; one on the north coast east of Apra Harbor and the other on the west coast south of the harbor. Troops received enemy mortar and machine gun fire as they reached the beach. The 3rd Marine Division, the 77th Army Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade, under command of Major General R. S. Geiger, USMC, made the landings; from 21 to 30 July they fought in the Apra Harbor area, where the heaviest enemy opposition was encountered.

The capture of Orote Peninsula with its airfields and other installations, made the Apra Harbor area available for sheltered and easier unloading. Beginning on 31 July, our forces advanced across the island to the east coast and thence pushed northward to the tip of Guam. While enemy opposition was stubborn, it did not reach the intensity encountered on Saipan, and on 10 August 1944 all organized resistance on the island ceased. Air and surface support continued throughout this period.

The elimination of isolated pockets of Japanese opposition was a long and difficult task even after the end of organized resistance. As at Saipan, the rough terrain of the island, with its many caves, made the annihilation of the remaining small enemy forces a difficult task. The enemy casualty figures for Guam illustrate the character of this phase. By 10 August the total number of Japanese dead counted was 10,971, and 86 were prisoners of war. By the middle of November, these numbers had increased to 17,238 enemy killed and 463 prisoners.

Occupation of Tinian

The capture of Tinian Island, by forces commanded by Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) H. W. Hill, completed the amphibious operations in the Marianas in the summer of 1944. Located across the narrow channel to the southward of Saipan Tinian was taken by troops who had already participated in the capture of the former island. Intermittent bombardment began at the same time as on Saipan and continued not only from sea and air, but from artillery on the south coast of Saipan. A joint naval and air program for "softening" the defenses of Tinian went on from 26 June to 8 July, and thereafter both air and surface forces kept the enemy from repairing destroyed positions. There were heavy air and surface attacks on 22 and 23 July, the days immediately preceding the landing, and these completed the destruction of almost all enemy gun emplacements and defense positions. The landings, which took place on beaches at the northern end of Tinian, began early on 24 July. Beach reconnaissance had been conducted at night and the enemy was surprised in the location of our landing. Troops of the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions landed in amphibious vehicles from transports at 0740 on the 24th. They met only light rifle and mortar fire, and secured a firm beachhead. Like Saipan and Guam, Tinian presented a difficult terrain problem, but enemy resistance was much less stubborn than on the other islands. On 1 August the island was declared secure, and the assault and occupation phase ended on the 8th.

Throughout this period, surface and air units provided constant close support to the ground troops. In addition, on 4 and 5 August units of the fast carrier task force virtually wiped out a Japanese convoy, and raided airfields and installations in the Bonin and Volcano Islands. Damage to the enemy was 11 ships sunk, 8 ships damaged, and 13 aircraft destroyed; our losses were 16 planes.


Before and during the Marianas operation, Southwest Pacific forces under General of the Army MacArthur engaged in a series of amphibious landings along the north coast of New Guinea. These operations were undertaken to deny the Japanese air and troop movements in western New Guinea and approaches from the southwest to our lines of communication across the Pacific, thus securing our flank. Unlike the Hollandia operation, which was supported by carriers and battleships of the Fifth Fleet, they involved the use of no ships larger than heavy cruisers.

Occupation of the Wakde Island Area

In order to secure airdromes for the support of further operations to the westward, an unopposed landing was made on 17 May 1944 by U. S. Army units at Arara, on the mainland of Dutch New Guinea, about 70 miles west of Hollandia. Under command of Captain (now Rear Admiral) Noble, a naval force of cruisers, destroyers, transports and miscellaneous landing craft landed the 163rd Regimental Combat Team reinforced. Extending their beachhead on D-day along the coast from Toem to the Tor River, the troops made shore-to-shore movements to the Wakde Islands on 17 and 18 May. By 19 May, all organized enemy resistance on the Wakde Islands had ceased.

Occupation of Biak Island

Because of the need for a forward base from which to operate heavy bombers, an amphibious assault was made on Biak Island, beginning on 27 May. The attack force, under the command of Rear Admiral Fechteler, composed of cruisers, destroyers, transports and landing craft, departed Humboldt Bay on the evening of 25 May and arrived off the objective without detection. Initial enemy opposition was weak and quickly overcome, but subsequently the landing force encountered stiff resistance in the move toward the Biak airfields. Air support and bombardment were furnished by B-24's, B-25's and A-20's, while fighter cover was provided by planes from our bases at Hollandia and Aitape.

After the initial landing on Biak Island, the enemy, entrenched in caves commanding the coastal road to the airstrips, continued stubborn resistance and seriously retarded the scheduled development of the air facilities for which the operation had been undertaken. Furthermore, it became apparent that the enemy was planning to reinforce his position on Biak. To counter this threat, a force of 3 cruisers and 14 destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral V. A. C. Crutchley, RN was given the mission of destroying enemy naval forces threatening our Biak occupation. On the night of 8-9 June, a force of 5 enemy destroyers attempting a "Tokyo Express" run was intercepted by Rear Admiral Crutchley's force. The Japanese destroyers turned and fled at such high speed that in the ensuing chase only one of our destroyer divisions, commanded by Commander (now Captain) A. E. Jarrell, was able to gain firing range. After a vain chase of about three hours the action was broken off.

Occupation of Noemfoor Island

On 2 July 1944, a landing was made in the vicinity of Kaimiri Airdrome on the northwest coast of Noemfoor Island, southwest of Biak Island. The amphibious attack force, under the command of Rear Admiral Fechteler, consisted of an attack group, a covering group of cruisers and destroyers, a landing craft unit, and a landing force built around the 148th U. S. Infantry Regimental Combat Team reinforced. Landing began at 0800, and all troops and a considerable number of bulk stores were landed on D-day. Prior to the landing nearby Japanese airfields were effectively neutralized by the 5th Air Force.

Enemy opposition was feeble, resistance not reaching the fanatical heights experienced on other islands. There were not more than 2000 enemy troops on Noemfoor Island and our casualties were extremely light, only 8 of our men having been killed by D-plus-6 day. Again, forward air facilities to support further advance to the westward had been secured at a relatively light cost.

Occupation of Cape Sansapor Area

On 30 July 1944 an amphibious force, under the command of Rear Admiral Fechteler, carried out a landing in the Cape Sansapor area on the Vogelkop Peninsula in western New Guinea. Rear Admiral R. S. Berkey commanded the covering force.

The main assault was made without enemy air or naval resistance. Beach conditions were ideal and within a short time secondary landings has been made at Middleberg Island and Amsterdam Island, a few thousand yards off shore.

Prior to D-day Army Air Force bombers and fighters had neutralized enemy areas in the Geelvink-Vogelkop area and the main air bases in the Halmaheras. On D-day, when it became evident that the ground forces would encounter no resistance Army support aircraft from Owi and Wakde were released for other missions and naval bombardment was not utilized. Again, casualties sustained were light: one man killed, with minor damage to small landing craft.

This move brought our forces to the western extremity of New Guinea. It effectively neutralized New Guinea as a base for enemy operations, and rendered the enemy more vulnerable to air attack in Halmahera, the Molukka Passage and Makassar Strait. Enemy concentrations had been bypassed in our progress up the coast, but due to the absence of roads, the major portion of enemy transport was of necessity water-borne. Here our PT boats did admirable service, roaming east and west along the coast, harassing enemy barge traffic, and preventing reinforcements from being put ashore.


Following closely upon the capture of the Marianas, Fleet Admiral Nimitz's forces moved to the west and south to attack the Western Caroline Islands. Establishment of our forces in that area would give us control of the southern half of the crescent shaped chain of islands which runs from Tokyo to the southern Philippines. It would complete the isolation of the enemy-held Central and Eastern Carolines, including the base at Truk.

Admiral W. F. Halsey, Jr., Commander Third Fleet, commanded the operations in the Western Carolines. Additions to the Pacific Fleet from new construction made an even larger force available to strike the Western Carolines than the Marianas. Nearly 800 vessels participated. Vice Admiral Wilkinson commanded the joint expeditionary forces which conducted landing operations. Major General J. C. Smith, USMC was Commander Expeditionary Troops, and Vice Admiral Mitscher was again commander of the fast carrier force. Troops employed included the 1st Marine Division and the 81st Army Infantry Division.

Preliminary Strikes by Fast Carrier Task Force

Prior to the landings in the Western Carolines, wide flung air and surface strikes were made to divert and destroy Japanese forces which might have interfered. Between 31 August and 2 September, planes from the fast carriers bombed and strafed Chichi Jima, Haha Jima and Iwo Jima. Cruisers and destroyers bombarded Chichi least 6 ships, and damaged installations, airfields and supply dumps. Our forces lost 5 aircraft. On the 7th and 8th, planes from the same carriers attacked Yap Island.

Simultaneously, other groups of fast carriers devoted their attention to the Palau Islands where the first Western Carolines landings were to take place. In attacks throughout the group from 6 to 8 September, they did extensive damage to ammunition and supply dumps, barracks and warehouses.

The plan was for Pacific Ocean Areas forces to land on Peleliu Island in the Palau group on 15 September, simultaneously with a landing on Morotai by Southwest Pacific forces. In order to neutralize bases from which aircraft might interfere with these operations, carrier air strikes on Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines were made. These attacks began on 9 September and revealed the unexpected weakness of enemy air resistance in the Mindanao area. On 10 September there were further air attacks, as well as a cruiser-destroyer raid off the eastern Mindanao coast, which caught and completely destroyed a convoy of 32 small freighters.

The lack of opposition at Mindanao prompted air strikes into the central Philippines. From 12 to 14 September, planes from the carrier task force attacked the Visayas. They achieved tactical surprise, destroyed 75 enemy planes in the air and 123 on the ground, sank many ships, and damaged installations ashore.

In direct support of the Southwest Pacific landing at Morotai, carrier task force planes attacked Mindanao, the Celebes, and Talaud on 14-15 September. On the 14th destroyers bombarded the eastern coast of Mindanao. There was little airborne opposition and our forces destroyed and damaged a number of aircraft and surface ships.

Landings on Peleliu and Angaur

Ships and troops employed in the Western Carolines landings came from various parts of the Pacific. Three days of surface bombardment and air bombing preceded the landing on Peleliu. During this time mine sweepers cleared the waters of Peleliu and Angaur Islands and underwater demolition teams removed beach obstructions. The Peleliu landing took place on 15 September, the landing force convoys arriving off the selected beaches at dawn. Following intensive preparatory bombardment, bombing and strafing of the island, units of the 1st Marine Division went ashore. Despite difficult reef conditions, the initial landings were successful. The troops quickly overran the beach defenses, which were thickly mined but less heavily manned than usual. By the night of the 16th, the Peleliu airfield, which was the prime objective of the entire operation, had been captured. After the rapid conquest of the southern portion of the island, however, progress on Peleliu slowed. The rough ridge which formed the north-south backbone of the island was a natural fortress of mutually supporting cave positions, organized in depth and with many automatic weapons. Advance along this ridge was slow and costly. The Japanese used barges at night to reinforce their troops, but naval gunfire dispersed and destroyed many of them. Enemy forces had been surrounded by 26 September, although it was not until the middle of October that the assault phase of the operation was completed.

The 81st Infantry Division went ashore on Angaur Island, six miles south of Peleliu, on 17 September. Fire support ships and aircraft had previously prepared the way for the assault transports. Beach conditions here were more favorable than at Peleliu. Opposition also was less severe, and by noon of 20 September the entire island had been overrun, except for one knot of resistance in rough country. Prompt steps were taken to develop a heavy bomber field on Angaur. Part of the 81st Division went to Peleliu on 22 September to reinforce the 1st Marine Division, which had suffered severe casualties.

The southern Palau Islands offered no protective anchorage. Before the landings of the 15th, mine sweepers had been clearing the extensive mine fields in Kossol Roads, a large body of reef-enclosed water 70 miles north of Peleliu. Part of this area was ready for an anchorage on 15 September, and the next day seaplane tenders entered and began to use it as a base for aircraft operation. It proved to be a reasonably satisfactory roadstead, where ships could lie while waiting call to Peleliu for unloading, and where fuel, stores and ammunition could be replenished.

Marine troops from Peleliu landed on Ngesebus Island, just north of Peleliu, on 28 September, by a shore-to-shore movement. The light enemy opposition was overcome by the 29th. Later several small islands in the vicinity were occupied as outposts.

No landing was made on Babelthuap, the largest of the Palau group. It was heavily garrisoned, had rough terrain, would have required a costly operation, and offered no favorable airfield sites or other particular advantages. From Peleliu and Angaur the rest of the Palau group is being dominated, and the enemy ground forces on the other islands are kept neutralized.

As soon as it became clear that the entire 81st Division would not be needed for the capture of Angaur, a regimental combat team was dispatched to Ulithi Atoll. Mine sweepers, under cover of light surface ships, began work in the lagoon on 21 September and in two days cleared the entrance and anchorage inside for the attack force. The Japanese had abandoned Ulithi and the landing of troops on the 23rd was without opposition. Escort carrier and long range bombers kept the air facilities at Yap neutralized so that there was no aerial interference with landing operations. Although Ulithi was not an ideal anchorage, it was the best available shelter for large surface forces in the Western Carolines, and steps were taken at once to develop it. Landings on Morotai

Occupation of the southern part of Morotai Island was carried out by the Southwest Pacific forces of General of the Army MacArthur to establish air, air warning and minor naval facilities. This action was further designed to isolate Japanese forces on Halmahera, who would otherwise have been in a position to flank any movement into the southern Philippines. It was timed simultaneously with the seizure of Palau by Pacific Ocean Areas forces. On 15 September 1944 an amphibious task force composed of escort carriers, cruisers, destroyers, destroyer escorts, attack transports and miscellaneous landing ships and craft, all under the command of Rear Admiral Barbey, approached Morotai. Practically no enemy opposition was encountered, and personnel casualties were light; difficulty was experienced, however, in beaching and unloading, due to coral heads and depressions in the reef adjacent to the landing areas.

Prior to D-day Army land-based planes from Biak and Noemfoor carried out heavy strikes on enemy air facilities in Ceram, Halmahera, northern Celebes, Vogelkop and southern Philippine areas. Carrier fighter sweeps combined with further bombing operations prevented hostile aircraft from reaching Morotai on D-day. Naval gunfire support was furnished by destroyers and two heavy cruisers. During subsequent covering operations we sustained our first naval loss in the Southwest Pacific Area, except for planes and minor landing craft, since the Cape Gloucester operations in December 1943; the destroyer escort SHELTON was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine.


After providing support for the Palau landings, the Third Fleet fast carrier task force returned to the attack on enemy power in the Philippines. From waters to the east, they conducted the first carrier attack of the war on Manila and Luzon. Under cover of bad weather the carriers approached without detection. On 21 and 22 September planes from the carriers attacked Manila and other targets on Luzon, inflicting severe damage on the enemy and suffering only light losses.

On 24 September carrier planes struck the central Philippines. They completed photographic coverage of the area of Leyte and Samar, where amphibious landings were to take place in October, and reached out to Coron Bay, a much used anchorage in the western Visayas. Many enemy planes and much shipping were destroyed. The light air opposition revealed how effective the first Visayas strikes of 10 days previous had been. Following the strikes of the 24th, the fast carrier task force retired to forward bases to prepare for forthcoming operations.

Initial plans for re-entry into the Philippines intended securing Morotai as a stepping stone with a view to landings by the Seventh Amphibious Force on Mindanao some time in November. The decision to accelerate the advance by making the initial landings on Leyte in the central Philippines was reached in middle September when the Third Fleet air strikes disclosed the relative weakness of enemy air opposition. It was decided to seize Leyte Island and the contingent waters on 20 October and thus secure airdrome sites and extensive harbor and naval base facilities. The east coast of Leyte offered certain obvious advantages for amphibious landings. It had a free undefended approach from the east, sufficient anchorage area, and good access to the remainder of the central islands in that it commanded the approaches to Surigao Strait. Moreover, the position by-passed and isolated large Japanese forces in Mindanao. The accelerated timing of the operation and choice of the east coast for landing required, however, the acceptance of one serious disadvantage-the rainy season. Most of the islands in the Philippines are mountainous and during the northeast monsoon, from October to March, land areas on the east sides of the mountains have torrential rains.

Forces under General of the Army MacArthur carried out the landings in the Philippine Islands. For this purpose many transports, fire support ships and escort carriers were temporarily transferred from the Pacific Fleet to the Seventh Fleet, which is a part of the Southwest Pacific command.

The Central Philippine Attack Force, composed of Seventh Fleet units, greatly augmented by Pacific Fleet forces, was under the command of Vice Admiral Kinkaid. This large force was divided into the Northern Attack Force (Seventh Amphibious Force, Rear Admiral Barbey commanding) and the Southern Attack Force (Third Amphibious Force, Vice Admiral Wilkinson commanding), plus surface and air cover groups, fire support, bombardment, mine sweeping and supply groups. It comprised a total of more than 650 ships, including battleships, cruisers, destroyers, destroyer escorts, escort carriers, transports, cargo ships, landing craft, mine craft, and supply vessels. Four army divisions were to be landed on D-day.

The Third Fleet, operating under Admiral Halsey, was to cover and support the operation by air strikes over Formosa, Luzon and the Visayas, to provide protection for the landing against heavy units of the Japanese fleet, and to destroy enemy vessels when opportunity offered.

Preliminary Strikes by Fast Carrier Task Force

Preparatory strikes to obtain information on installations, and to destroy air and surface strength which might hinder our success in the Philippines, lasted from 9 to 20 October.

While a cruiser-destroyer task group bombarded and damaged installations on Marcus Island on 9 October, ships of the fast carrier forces were approaching the Nansei Shoto [Ryukyu Islands]. Long range search-planes and submarines "ran interference" for the force, attacking and destroying enemy search-planes and picket boats, so that our heavy forces achieved tactical surprise at their objective. Carrier aircraft attacked Okinawa Island in the Nansei Shoto on 10 October. The Japanese apparently were taken by surprise. Not only was little airborne opposition met, but shipping had not been routed away from the area. Many enemy ships were sunk and airfields and facilities severely damaged.

On 11 October while the force was refueling, a fighter sweep against Aparri on the northern end of Luzon disorganized the relatively underdeveloped and lightly garrisoned fields there.

The next attack, on Formosa and the Pescadores, took place on 12 and 13 October. These strikes on aviation facilities, factory warehouses, wharves and coastal shipping, were expected by the enemy and, for the first time in this series of operations, a large number of enemy planes were over the targets and antiaircraft fire was intense. In spite of opposition, 193 planes were shot down on the first day and 123 more were destroyed on the ground.

At dusk on the 13th, part of the task force was skillfully attacked by aircraft and one of our cruisers was damaged. Although power was lost, the ship remained stable, due to prompt and effective damage control, and was taken in tow. With a screen of cruisers and destroyers, and under air cover from carriers, the slow retirement of the damaged ship began. At that time the group was 120 miles from Formosa and within range of enemy aircraft on Okinawa, Luzon, and Formosa. Enemy planes kept the group under constant attack and succeeded in damaging another cruiser on the evening of the 14th. She also was taken in tow, and both vessels were brought safely to a base for repairs. (This was "CripDiv 1", LWJ)

In order to Prevent further air attacks while the damaged ships retired, the carriers launched repeated fighter sweeps and strikes over Formosa and northern Luzon on 14 and 15 October.

Beginning on 18 October the carrier planes again struck the Philippines. In strategical as well as direct tactical support of the landings of Southwest Pacific forces at Leyte on the 20th, the strikes of the 18th and 19th were aimed at the northern and central Philippines. On 20 October some of the fast carriers furnished direct support to the Leyte landing and others conducted long-range searches for units of the enemy fleet. Thus, Japanese airfields in and around Manila and in the Visayas were kept neutralized during the initial assault phase of the Leyte landing, while at the same time carrier planes from the Third Fleet furnished direct support to the landings by bombing and strafing beaches and interior areas on Leyte throughout the day. On 21 October there were sweeps and strikes to southern Luzon and the Visayas, including an attack as far west as Coron Bay. Carrier planes also continued long- range searches with negative results.

Leyte Landings

During the 9 days preceding the landing on Leyte, the task groups sortied from New Guinea ports and the Admiralties and moved toward Leyte Gulf. On 17 October (D-minus-3 day) preliminary operations commenced under difficult weather conditions. By D-day the islands guarding the eastern entrances to Leyte Gulf were secured. The approach channels and landing beaches were cleared of mines and reconnaissance of the main beaches on Leyte had been effected.

After heavy bombardment by ships' guns and bombing by escort carrier planes had neutralized most of the enemy opposition at the beaches, troops of the X and XXIV Corps were landed as scheduled on the morning of 20 October. The landings were made without difficulty and were entirely successful. Our troops were established in the central Philippines, but it remained for the naval forces to protect our rapidly expanding beachheads from attack by sea and air.

In the amphibious phase of the Leyte operation, YMS 70 sank in a storm during the approach and the tug SONOMA and LCI (L) 1065 were sunk by enemy action. The destroyer ROSS struck a mine on 19 October and the light cruiser HONOLULU was seriously damaged by an aerial torpedo on 20 October.

Battle for Leyte Gulf

The Leyte landings were challenged by Japanese naval forces determined to drive us from the area. Between 23 and 26 October a series of major surface and air engagements took place with far reaching effect. These engagements, which have been designated the Battle for Leyte Gulf, culminated in three almost simultaneous naval actions, the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Battle off Samar, and the Battle off Cape Engano. They involved the battleships, carriers, and escort carriers, cruisers, destroyers and destroyer escorts of the Third and Seventh Fleets, as well as PT boats and submarines.

Three enemy forces were involved. One of these, referred to hereinafter as the Southern Force, approached Leyte through Surigao Strait and was destroyed there by Seventh Fleet units on the night of 24-25 October. A second, or Central Force passed through San Bernardino Strait in spite of previous air attacks by Third Fleet carrier planes and attacked Seventh Fleet escort carriers off Samar on the morning of the 25th. Finally, a Northern Force approached the Philippines from the direction of Japan and was attacked and most of it destroyed by the Third Fleet fast carrier force on the 25th.

On the early morning of 23 October, two submarines, DARTER and DACE in the narrow channel between Palawan and the Dangerous Ground to the westward discovered the Central Force, then composed of 5 battleships, 10 heavy cruisers, 1 to 2 light cruisers, and about 15 destroyers. These submarines promptly attacked, reporting four torpedo hits in each of three heavy cruisers, two of which were sunk and the third heavily damaged. DARTER, while maneuvering into position for a subsequent attack, grounded on a reef in the middle of the channel, and had to be destroyed after her crew had been removed. Other contacts were made later in the day in Mindoro Strait and off the approach to Manila Bay, resulting in damage to an enemy heavy cruiser.

On the 24th carrier planes located and reported the Central Force (in the Sibuyan Sea) and the Southern Force (proceeding through the Sulu Sea) sufficiently early to permit aircraft from Vice Admiral Mitscher's fast carriers to inflict substantial damage.

The third enemy force, the Northern, was not located and reported until so late on the afternoon of the 24th that strikes could not be launched against it until the next morning. While these searches and strikes were being made, the northernmost of our fast carrier task groups was subjected to constant attacks by enemy land-based planes.

Although about 110 planes were shot down in the vicinity of the group, one of the enemy aircraft succeeded in bombing the light carrier PRINCETON. Large fires broke out on the damaged carrier and despite heroic efforts of cruisers and destroyers to combat them, PRINCETON suffered a series of devastating explosions which also caused damage and casualties to ships alongside. After hours of effort to save the ship, it became necessary to move the task group to meet a new enemy threat (the reported sighting of the Northern Force), and PRINCETON was sunk by torpedo fire from our own ships. It should be noted that PRINCETON was the first fast carrier lost by the United States Navy since the sinking of HORNET in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October 1942.

Battle of Surigao Strait

A part of the enemy's Southern Force entered Surigao Strait in the early hours of 25 October. Seven ships (2 battleships, 1 heavy cruiser and 4 destroyers) advanced in rough column up the narrow strait during darkness toward our waiting forces. The enemy was first met by our PT boats, then in succession by three coordinated destroyer torpedo attacks, and finally by devastating gunfire from our cruisers and battleships which had been disposed across the northern end of the strait by the officer in tactical command, Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) J. B. Oldendorf. The enemy was utterly defeated. This action is an exemplification of the classical naval tactics of ìcrossing the T.î Rear Admiral Oldendorf had deployed his light forces on each flank of the approaching column and had sealed off the enemy's advance through the strait with his cruisers and battleships. By means of this deployment he was able to concentrate his fire, both guns and torpedoes, on the enemy units before they were able to extricate themselves from the trap. The Japanese lost 2 battleships and 3 destroyers almost before they could open fire. The heavy cruiser and one destroyer escaped, but the cruiser was sunk on the 26th by our planes. Other ships of the Southern Force which did not engage in the night battle were either later sunk or badly damaged by aircraft attack. In the night action, the destroyer ALBERT W. GRANT was severely damaged by gunfire; our other ships suffered no damage.

Battle off Samar

Throughout the 24th the Third Fleet carriers launched strikes against the Central Force which was heading for San Bernardino Strait. This force consisted of 5 battleships, 8 cruisers and 13 destroyers. As they passed through Mindoro Strait and proceeded to the eastward, our planes launched vigorous attacks which sank the new battleship MUSASHI-pride of the Japanese Navy, 1 cruiser and 1 destroyer, and heavily damaged other units, including the battleship YAMATO, sister ship of MUSASHI, with bombs and torpedoes. In spite of these losses and damage which caused some of the enemy ships to turn back, part of the Central Force continued doggedly through San Bernardino Strait and moved southward unobserved off the east coast of Samar. Our escort carriers with screens, under the command of Rear Admiral T. L. Sprague, were dispersed in three groups to the eastward of Samar, with the mission of maintaining patrols and supporting ground operations on Leyte. Shortly after daybreak on 25 October the Japanese Central Force, now composed of 4 battleships, 5 cruisers and 11 destroyers, attacked the group of escort carriers commanded by Rear Admiral C. A. F. Sprague. A running fight ensued as our lightly armed carriers retired toward Leyte Gulf.

The 6 escort carriers, 3 destroyers and 4 destroyer escorts of Rear Admiral C. A. F. Sprague's task group fought valiantly with their planes, guns and torpedoes. Desperate attacks were made by planes and escorts, and smoke was employed in an effort to divert the enemy from the carriers. After two and one-half hours of almost continuous firing the enemy broke off the engagement and retired towards San Bernardino Strait. Planes from all three groups of escort carriers, with the help of Third Fleet aircraft, which struck during the afternoon of the 25th, sank 2 enemy heavy cruisers and 1 destroyer. Another crippled destroyer was sunk and several other enemy ships were either sunk or badly damaged on the 26th as our planes followed in pursuit.

In the surface engagement, the destroyers HOEL and JOHNSTON, the destroyer escort ROBERTS and the escort carrier GAMBIER BAY were sunk by enemy gunfire. Other carriers and escort ships which were brought into the fray sustained hits; these included the escort carriers SUWANEE, SANTEE, WHITE PLAINS and KITKUN BAY. Enemy dive bombers on the morning of 25 October sank the escort carrier SAINT LO. Approximately 105 planes were lost by Seventh Fleet escort carriers during the Battle for Leyte Gulf.

Battle off Cape Engano

Search planes from Third Fleet carriers had located the enemy Southern and Central Forces on the morning of 24 October, and had ascertained that they were composed of battleships, cruisers and destroyers, without aircraft carriers. As it was evident that the Japanese Navy was making a major effort, Admiral Halsey reasoned that there must be an enemy carrier force somewhere in the vicinity. Consequently he ordered a special search to be made to the north, which resulted in the sighting by one of our carrier planes on the afternoon of the 24th of the enemy Northern Force-a powerful collection of carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers-standing to the southward.

During the night of the 24th-25th, our carrier task force ran to the northward and before dawn launched planes to attack the enemy. Throughout most of 25 October the Battle off Cape Engano (so named from the nearest point of land at the northeastern tip of Luzon Island) went on with carrier aircraft striking the enemy force, which had been identified as consisting of 1 large carrier, 3 light carriers, 2 battleships with flight decks, 5 cruisers, and 6 destroyers. Beginning at 0840 air attacks on these ships continued until nearly 1800. Late in the day a force of our cruisers and destroyers was detached to finish off ships which had been crippled by air strikes. In that day's work all the enemy carriers, a light cruiser, and a destroyer were sunk, and heavy bomb and torpedo damage was inflicted on the battleships and other Japanese units.

Early on the morning of the 25th, Admiral Halsey received the report that the Central Force, which his carrier planes had attacked the day before, had pushed on through San Bernardino Strait, had turned southward along the coast of Samar and was attacking Rear Admiral Sprague's escort carriers. Consequently, Admiral Halsey dispatched a detachment of fast battleships and carriers to the assistance of these Seventh Fleet units. Meanwhile the Central Force had turned away and begun to retire northward to San Bernardino Strait in the face of the heroic defense put up by the escort carriers and the expectation of attack by other of our forces. Third Fleet aircraft reached this Central Force after it had begun to retire and inflicted additional serious damage. On the afternoon of 25 October our carrier planes probably sank 2 heavy cruisers and a light cruiser, blew the bow off a destroyer, and damaged 4 battleships and other cruisers and destroyers. Fast surface ships of the Third Fleet reached the scene of action after the enemy had re-entered San Bernardino Strait. However, they encountered a straggler on the 26th, which was promptly sunk. This straggler was identified as either a cruiser or destroyer.

On 26 October aircraft from Third Fleet carriers attacked the retiring Japanese forces again, doing further damage to the surviving battleships. By the end of that day, the Battle for Leyte Gulf was over and the three enemy forces were either destroyed or had retreated out of range of our ships and planes. Thus the major Japanese threat to our initial Philippine landing was averted and the enemy's total surface power severely crippled. The losses of our Third Fleet in the action amounted to 40 planes in combat, in addition to the light carrier PRINCETON.

November Carrier Task Force Strikes

While part of the fast carrier task force retired to fuel and reprovision at forward bases, the remainder continued in action in support of the Leyte campaign. During this period the fast carrier task force was commanded by the late Vice Admiral J. S. McCain. On 27 October planes from carriers bombed and strafed a cruiser and a destroyer off Mindoro.

No major naval actions developed during the remainder of 1944, but the Third Fleet was constantly active in providing vigorous support for the operations in the Southwest Pacific Area. Although Japanese installations in the Philippines and to the northward had been heavily damaged by the September and October strikes, they were not destroyed. On 2 November enemy planes attacked a carrier task group of the Third Fleet and, although 10 of the Japanese aircraft were shot down, several ships were damaged and some personnel casualties were suffered.

Carrier aircraft of the Third Fleet struck at Manila and the airfields in the vicinity on 5 and 6 November. They destroyed 439 planes, sank a cruiser, a destroyer, a destroyer escort, a submarine chaser, an oiler, 2 transports and a freighter, as well as damaging 44 vessels. They hit numerous ground installations and destroyed railroad facilities.

On 11 November planes from the fast carriers attacked and destroyed a Japanese convoy entering Ormoc Bay on the west coast of Leyte Island. They sank 4 transports, 5 destroyers and 1 destroyer escort, and shot down 13 enemy aircraft. This effectively ended one major attempt by the enemy to reinforce his Leyte garrison.

Another two-day series of strikes on Luzon by aircraft from the fast carriers occurred on 13 and 14 November. Antiaircraft fire over the targets was light on the first day, but increased the second. Carrier aircraft sank 3 transports, 3 freighters, and 3 destroyers, and damaged 43 vessels. Eighty-four enemy planes were destroyed in the two days' raid.

Another air attack on Luzon targets came on the 19th. There was little airborne opposition, only 16 planes being shot down at the target, but 100 were destroyed on the ground and with those shot down near the carriers, 124 enemy planes were eliminated during the day. Few shipping targets could be located and the total in that category was 1 freighter and 2 small craft sunk with 13 vessels damaged.

On 25 November the last strike in support of the Leyte operation was launched against Luzon. This time, a light cruiser, a mine layer, a destroyer escort, 6 freighters, and a tanker were sunk, and 29 vessels were damaged. Over the target our planes shot down 25 aircraft and destroyed 32 on the ground. Enemy air attacks on the carriers were heavier than usual, and 31 enemy planes were shot down near our ships.

During the November strikes the air combat losses of the fast carrier task force were 97 planes.

Landings at Ormoc Bay

In order to cut the enemy overwater lines of supply and reinforcement and to separate enemy round forces on Leyte, an additional amphibious landing was made at Ormoc Bay, on the west coast of the island, on 7 December. Naval forces commanded by Rear Admiral A. D. Struble put Army troops ashore 3 miles southeast of Ormoc against sporadic resistance. The destroyer MAHAN and destroyer transport WARD were, however, so heavily damaged by enemy aerial torpedoes that it was necessary for them to be sunk by our own forces. Several days prior to the landing, the destroyer COOPER was lost in a night action, while engaged in an anti-shipping sweep in this vicinity, and on 11 December the destroyer REID was sunk during an enemy air attack on a supply convoy en route to Ormoc Bay.

Landings on Mindoro

On 15 December Southwest Pacific forces landed on the southwest coast of Mindoro Island, nearly 300 miles northwest of Leyte, in order to seize the San Jose area and establish air facilities there. Enemy air on Luzon, not having been entirely neutralized, attacked the convoy en route. Our ships suffered some damage but continued the approach. The landing was without opposition from shore but sporadic air attacks resulted in the sinking of a few LSTís. In moving from Leyte to Mindoro, our forces obtained the advantages of more favorable weather for airfield construction and aircraft operations.

Occupation of southwest Mindoro presented a more serious threat to Manila and to Japan's shipping lanes through the South China Sea. As an immediate and strong reaction by the enemy was expected, carrier planes of the Third Fleet promptly began making Manila Bay untenable. Securing tactical surprise, they struck at dawn 14 December, the day before the Mindoro landings. Local air control was gained and held continuously for three days. In attacks on 14, 15 and 16 December our carrier aircraft sank or destroyed 27 vessels and damaged 60 more, destroyed 269 Japanese planes, and bombed air and railroad facilities. Enemy aircraft did not molest the carriers during this strike, but 20 of our planes were lost in combat.

On 17 December sea conditions began to deteriorate east of Luzon where the Third Fleet was scheduled to refuel: a typhoon of severe intensity developed with great rapidity along an erratic course. Although the main body of the fleet escaped the center of the storm, the destroyers HULL, SPENCE and MONAGHAN were lost.

Landings at Lingayen Gulf

The mid-December carrier strikes on Manila Bay had led the enemy to expect further landings in that area. When we by-passed southern Luzon and landed on the south and southeast coast of Lingayen Gulf on 9 January, the enemy was again taken by surprise.

Luzon, the largest of the Philippine Islands, with an area roughly the size of Virginia, is generally mountainous, but is cut by two large valleys. The central plain, extending from Lingayen to Manila Bay-about 100 miles long and from 30 to 50 miles wide-contains Manila, the capital, the major concentration of population and wealth, numerous airfields, and a network of roads and railways. Prompt seizure of this area would strike at the heart of the enemy defenses in the Philippines, provide bases for the support of further operations against the Japanese, and deny the enemy the freedom of the South China Sea. The most vulnerable part of the central plain is at Lingayen, where the low land does not offer the same opportunities for defense as do the approaches to Manila Bay.

The Luzon Attack Force, commanded by Vice Admiral Kinkaid, under the over-all command of General of the Army MacArthur, was composed of Seventh Fleet units largely augmented by Pacific Fleet forces, and numbered more than 850 ships. This was divided into the Lingayen Attack Force (Vice Admiral Wilkinson commanding), the San Fabian Attack Force (Vice Admiral Barbey commanding), a reinforcement group (Rear Admiral Conolly commanding), a fire support and bombardment group (Vice Admiral Oldendorf commanding) and surface and air covering groups (Rear Admiral Berkey and Rear Admiral C. T. Durgin, respectively, commanding). The Luzon Attack Force was to transport, put ashore and support elements of the 6th United States Army (Lieutenant General Walter Krueger commanding) to assist in the seizure and development of the Lingayen area.

The Third Fleet, operating under Admiral Halsey, with its fast carrier task force commanded by Vice Admiral McCain, was to cover and protect the operation by air strikes over Luzon, Formosa and the Nansei Shoto. Complete surprise was attained in attacks on Formosa and the southern Nansei Shoto on 3 and 4 January. There was little airborne opposition, but unfavorable weather conditions somewhat reduced the toll of enemy ships, planes and facilities destroyed. Luzon was hit 6 January, with the zone of operations extending southward to the Manila Bay area in order to give special attention to enemy airfields. Overcast weather prevented blanketing of the northern Luzon fields, and the attack was consequently renewed on the 7th.

Landings in Lingayen Gulf were scheduled for 9 January. During the passage of the attack force to Lingayen there was no enemy surface opposition. One Japanese destroyer put out from Manila Bay, and was sunk by our escorting destroyers. There was, however, intensive air attack both during the passage and the preliminary operations in Lingayen Gulf, which resulted in the loss of the escort carrier OMMANEY BAY the fast mine sweepers LONG, HOVEY and PALMER and considerable topside damage to other ships. For three days prior to the assault, Vice Admiral Oldendorf's battleships, cruisers and destroyers bombarded the area, while mine sweepers were at work and beach obstacles were being cleared. Immediately prior to the landings the bombardment by heavy ships and the air strikes from escort carriers were intensified; the assault waves were preceded by rocket-firing and mortar-carrying landing craft, which took up the frontal fire against the beaches, while the heavier calibre fire was directed inland and to the flanks.

The Lingayen Attack Force landed the XIV Army Corps on the southern shore of Lingayen Gulf, while the San Fabian Attack Force simultaneously put the I Army Corps ashore on beaches in the Damortis area to the northeastward. Only very light resistance was met at the beaches, and the troops advanced rapidly inland in spite of unfavorable terrain conditions. Bombardment and bombing had already silenced or destroyed the great majority of fixed defenses and dispersed their personnel.

While the troops were going ashore in Lingayen Gulf on 9 January, the Third Fleet fast carrier task force was striking Formosa. This target was chosen to lessen the enemy air strength which had been operating against Seventh Fleet forces on earlier days. As a result of this operation there was little enemy air interference with the actual Lingayen landings: the Third Fleet in addition netted 1 enemy ships sunk and 58 damaged for its day's work.

Although the troops pressed rapidly southward on Luzon, and were soon out of range of naval fire support, a heavy force of battleships, cruisers, destroyers and escort carriers remained in Lingayen Gulf for a considerable length of time to cover the landing of reinforcements and supplies and prevent enemy surface, subsurface, and air interference.

Third Fleet Covering Operations

In continued support of the Lingayen operations, the Third Fleet fast carrier task force made a thrust into the South China Sea, especially seeking the destruction of any major units of the Japanese Fleet that might be encountered there. None were found, but the air strikes of 12 January on the coast between Saigon and Camranh Bay achieved much shipping destruction. One enemy convoy was entirely destroyed and two others were severely mauled: the shipping tally totaled 41 ships sunk and 31 damaged. One hundred and twelve enemy planes were destroyed, and docks, oil storage and airfield facilities were heavily damaged. Air opposition was negligible.

Formosa was struck again on the 15th, against very slight opposition, while fighter sweeps and searches were made to Amoy, Swatow, Hong Kong and Hainan. Poor weather, however, greatly reduced the score of shipping destruction.

To complete the Third Fleet's visit to the China coast, Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan were struck in force on 16 January. A considerable amount of shipping was damaged or destroyed. Extensive destruction was inflicted on docks, refineries and the naval station in the Hong Kong area, while huge oil fires were started at Canton. Air opposition was again negligible.

In the course of this thrust into waters that the enemy had hitherto considered his own, 3800 miles were traversed in the South China Sea with no battle damage to our ships. No enemy aircraft had been able to approach the fast carrier task force closer than 20 miles.

Formosa and the southern Nansei Shoto were again attacked on 21 January under favorable weather conditions. Heavy damage was inflicted on aircraft, shipping, docks and the industrial area at Takao. On the following day Okinawa in the Nansei Shoto was struck. The destruction of enemy aircraft and airfield facilities in all these strikes led to a marked lessening of Japanese air effort against the Luzon assault forces.

Operations against Manila

During the remainder of January, General of the Army MacArthur's troops pressed steadily southward from Lingayen Gulf down the central plain. To accelerate the progress of operations against Manila and to open sea access to its harbor, additional amphibious landings were carried out in southwestern Luzon at the end of the month. On 29 January an amphibious assault force, commanded by Rear Admiral Struble, put the XI Army Corps ashore in the San Narciso area, northwest of Subic Bay. This move, which was designed to cut off Bataan Peninsula, was entirely unopposed. Mine sweepers made exploratory sweeps off the landing beaches with negative results, and as it was evident that no enemy forces were present the scheduled bombardment of the area was not carried out. The troops moved rapidly inland and reached Subic by noon. On the following day, the 30th, troops were landed on Grande Island in Subic Bay, again without opposition. Mine sweeping of Subic Bay continued, with negative results, and this fine harbor was made available for further operations against the Manila entrance.

An assault force commanded by Rear Admiral Fechteler landed elements of the 11th Airborne Division at Nasugbu, 15 miles directly south of the entrance to Manila Bay, on 31 January. In this instance the naval bombardment was confined to destroyers and smaller ships. Although the troops reached their objective without opposition, a number of small high-speed craft attacked the naval force, and PC 1129 was sunk in the ensuing action.

On 13 February a force of light cruisers and destroyers, commanded by Rear Admiral Berkey, commenced a preliminary bombardment of the entrances to Manila Bay, and on the following day continued to shell Corregidor Island and the southern portion of Bataan Peninsula. Mine sweepers began clearing Manila Bay. On the 15th, while the bombardment of Corregidor and the mine sweeping continued, troops landed at Mariveles on Bataan against very light opposition, and on the 16th landings were made on Corregidor itself.

The ability to place troops ashore in protected and mined waters was made possible by naval gunfire against the fixed defenses of Corregidor, and the sweeping of mines in the channel between Corregidor and Mariveles. In considerably less than two months from the initial landings at Lingayen Gulf, General of the Army Mac Arthur's forces had covered the ground that had required more than four months for the Japanese in 1942. In comparing the methods used by the two invaders for seizing positions controlling the entrance to Manila Bay, it is interesting to note that in both cases the attacking forces had control of the sea and air. The Japanese relied principally on field artillery from Bataan against our guns on Corregidor. Our method employed naval strength as the spearhead of amphibious assault, thus allowing the ground force commander flexibility in selecting the time and place of the attack.

Landings on Palawan

At the close of February various operations against enemy holdings in different parts of the Philippines were in progress, in which forces of the Seventh Fleet were participating. On the 28th, the last day covered by this report, a force of cruisers and destroyers commanded by Rear Admiral R. S. Riggs bombarded Puerto Princesa, on the east coast of Palawan. An amphibious attack group, commanded by Rear Admiral Fechteler, put troops ashore shortly after. No opposition was encountered: the town and two nearby airfields were quickly seized. This landing secured virtual control of the westernmost of the Philippine Islands, and provided the sites for air bases that will assist in hindering enemy water transport from the Netherlands East Indies.


The amphibious operations of the spring, summer and autumn of 1944 carried our forces such great distances across the Pacific that in February 1945 they were enabled to begin the assault upon the inner defenses of the Japanese Empire itself.

The occupation of Saipan, Tinian and Guam had established shore-based air forces of the Pacific Ocean Areas in positions from which continuing air attacks could be made against the Volcano and Bonin Islands, and from which long-range bombers could operate against Japan. To operate with the greatest effectiveness and a minimum of losses, long-range bombers should be provided with fighter support. Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 750 miles from Tokyo, provided three sites for airfields, and was admirably situated for the establishment of a fighter base for supporting Marianas-based B-29's operating over the home islands of the Empire. The possession of Iwo Jima would also permit medium bombers to attack Japan, deprive the enemy of an important aerial lookout station, and reduce his air attacks on our Marianas bases.

The operations for the capture of Iwo Jima were under the command of Admiral Spruance, Commander Fifth Fleet. Vice Admiral Turner was in over-all command of the amphibious forces, and the Expeditionary Forces were commanded by Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, USMC. Major General Harry Schmidt, USMC commanded the Fifth Amphibious Corps; Major General Clifton B. Cates, USMC, the 4th Marine Division; Major General Keller E. Rockey, USMC the 5th Marine Division; and Major General Graves B. Erskine, USMC the 3rd Marine Division. The fast carrier task force, operating in support of the assault, was once more commanded by Vice Admiral Mitscher.

It was anticipated that enemy resistance would be severe. Iwo Jima had been heavily fortified by the Japanese over a period of many years because it is the only island in this strategically important group which lends itself to construction of airfields. As the island is only five miles long and less than two miles wide, the enemy could cover the whole shoreline with artillery and machine gun fire and could concentrate on the only two landing beaches. There was no opportunity for maneuver to select an undefended landing place, and hence there could be no surprise once we had begun reduction of the major defenses of the island. Consequently preparations had to be made for the most intensive ground fighting yet encountered in the Pacific. Landing forces of 60,000 Marines, put ashore by a naval force of more than 800 ships, manned by approximately 220,000 naval personnel, are evidence of the scale of the attack and the determination of opposition expected.

Preliminary Air-Surface Attacks on Iwo Jima

For seven months prior to the February 1945 assault, Iwo Jima was subjected to air attacks and surface bombardments, which increased in frequency and intensity from December 1944 onward. Planes from the fast carrier task force struck the island on 15, 16, 24 June, 4 July, 4-5 August and 31 August-2 September; on 4 July and 2 September bombardment by surface ships was carried out.

Beginning just before midnight on 11 November and continuing until 0100 on the 12th, cruisers and destroyers commanded by Rear Admiral A. E. Smith bombarded Iwo Jima, making special efforts to damage air installations. There was moderate shore battery fire during the first part of the bombardment, but none of our ships suffered damage. Numerous explosions were seen and several large fires were started.

Early in December bombers of the Seventh Army Air Force, operating under the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Areas, began daily attacks on Iwo Jima, and Marine Corps bomber squadrons, based in the Marianas, began a daily series of night harassing flights against enemy shipping in the area. These constant raids were supplemented periodically by intensified air attack and surface bombardment.

On 8 December and again on 24 December attacks by P-38's, B-29's and B-24's were followed by over an hour's bombardment by Rear Admiral Smith's cruisers and destroyers. A number of large fires were started ashore during each attack. The bombarding ships suffered no damage.

On 27 December Army B-29's and P-38's bombed Iwo Jima once more, and the same surface ships returned to fire on shore targets for an hour and a half. Little opposition was encountered on either day, although one of our ships received slight damage from shore batteries. Light personnel casualties aboard one of our destroyers resulted from a hit from an enemy destroyer escort which was pursued and sunk at sea.

Chichi Jima and Haha Jima in the Bonin Islands, as well as Iwo Jima, were bombarded on 5 January 1945 by Rear Admiral Smith's surface ships, while Army aircraft of the Strategic Air Force, Pacific Ocean Areas, bombed airstrip installations on Iwo. Fire from enemy shore batteries was meager.

A battleship-cruiser-destroyer force, commanded by Rear Admiral O. C. Badger, attacked Iwo Jima on 24 January in a coordinated action with Strategic Air Force bombers and B-29's of the 21st Bomber Command. Air installations and shipping were attacked, with no interception by enemy planes and only slight antiaircraft fire. One Japanese cargo vessel blew up and two others were left burning.

Attack on Tokyo

Carrier aircraft of the Fifth Fleet attacked Tokyo on 16 February, exactly one year after the first carrier strike on Truk. Fleet Admiral Nimitz's communique announcing the strike stated: "This operation has long been planned and the opportunity to accomplish it fulfills the deeply cherished desire of every officer and man in the Pacific Fleet."

Landings on Iwo Jima were scheduled for 19 February. Consequently on the 16th pre-invasion bombardment and bombing of Iwo Jima began, while the fast carrier task force struck Tokyo. This attack on the enemy's capital was designed to provide strategic cover for the operations against Iwo by destroying air forces, facilities and manufacturing installations, as well as to bring to the Japanese home front a disrupting awareness of the progress of the war.

Approaching the coast of Japan under cover of weather so adverse as to handicap enemy air operations, our forces obtained complete tactical surprise; our attack was vigorously pressed for two days. All enemy efforts to damage our ships were unsuccessful. Against a loss of 49 of our planes, 322 enemy aircraft were shot out of the air and 177 destroyed on the ground. A Japanese escort carrier at Yokohama was bombed and set on fire; she went down by the bow and was left lying on her side. Nine coastal vessels, a destroyer, 2 destroyer escorts and a cargo ship were sunk. Hangars, shops and other installations at numerous airfields were destroyed; the Ota aircraft factory was damaged; and the Musashine Tama and Tachigawa engine plants were heavily bombed. Upon completion of the 17 February strike, the fast carrier task force retired towards Iwo Jima to give more direct support of the landing operations.

Landings on Iwo Jima

After three days of intensive bombardment by surface ships of the Fifth Fleet and bombing by Navy carrier and Army shore-based planes, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions began landing operations at 0900, 19 February, on the southeast shore of Iwo Jima. This bombardment and bombing made initial opposition light, except for some mortar and artillery fire at LSTís and boats, but resistance rapidly developed in intensity during the day. The enemy was soon laying down a devastating curtain of artillery, rocket and mortar fire on the beaches, and the remainder of the day saw bitter fighting as the Marines inched ahead against determined resistance from heavily fortified positions. The troops who came ashore encountered an intricate system of defenses, as well as some of the most modern weapons that the enemy has employed in the present war. The defending garrison, estimated at 20,000, was emplaced in an interlocking system of caves, pillboxes and blockhouses, with both the guns on Mount Suribachi (at the southern tip of the island) and in the high northern area commanding the Marines' positions, the beaches and the sea approaches. By the end of the first day, the Marines had advanced across the width of the island at its narrow southwestern tip, isolating the Japanese on Mount Suribachi from the main enemy forces in the north.

During the early morning hours of 20 February, an enemy counterattack was broken up by the 27th Marines; by the end of the day our troops had captured Motoyama Airfield No. 1.

Desperate fighting continued during the third day: by 1800 more than 1200 Japanese dead had been counted, and one had been captured. The 3rd Marine Division landed, as reserves, and moved into line between the 4th and 5th Divisions. Although enemy air strength was generally light, it succeeded in sinking the escort carrier BISMARCK SEA. During the night of 21-22 February, the enemy counterattacked again and again, but each assault was hurled back. The following morning the Marines renewed the attack; by noon they were advancing slowly under adverse weather conditions, knocking out enemy strongpoints. During the afternoon the enemy counterattacked again, exerting maximum pressure on both flanks of the Marine spearhead which was pointed toward Motoyama Airfield No. 2; the attack was repulsed with heavy losses to the enemy.

The southern part of Motoyama Airfield No. 2 was occupied on 23 February. Simultaneously other troops stormed the steep slopes of Mount Suribachi, capturing the summit and winning gun positions which commanded the island. At 1035 the 28th Marine Regiment hoisted the United States flag over the extinct volcano. The capture of these heights eliminated some of the enemy mortar and artillery fire which had been directed against our troops on the previous days, while mortar fire from Kangoku Rock, northwest of the island, was eliminated by a destroyer. Throughout the entire period, close support was constantly furnished by carrier aircraft and naval gunfire. Unloading continued on the beaches; roads were being constructed, and the captured airstrips being restored to operational condition.

By 25 February, Marines of the three divisions, spearheaded by tanks, had captured approximately half of the island, including Motoyama Airfield No. 2, and were closing in on the main village. The advance was made against fanatical resistance from rockets, bazooka-type guns, pillboxes and interlocking underground strongholds. On one flank alone, 100 caves, 30 to 40 feet deep, had to be knocked out one by one.

By the end of February, Marine Corps observation and artillery spotting planes were operating from Motoyama Airfield No. 1; the 3rd and 4th Marine Divisions had captured hills which further reduced the enemy's fire power and allowed a freer supply flow on the beaches. The Japanese, despite heavy losses, continued to offer maximum resistance, but the Marines were established on high ground, and the conquest of Iwo Jima was assured.

Renewed Attack on Tokyo

Tokyo was again attacked on 25 February by Vice Admiral Mitscher's fast carrier task force, which struck the island of Hachijo, off the coast of Honshu, the following day. Weather conditions were extremely adverse, but at least 158 planes were destroyed and 5 small vessels sunk. Numerous ground installations were attacked. The Ota and Koizumi aircraft plants were heavily damaged; radar installations, aircraft hangars, and 2 trains were demolished. Our forces lost 9 fighter planes in combat; the ships of the task force suffered no damage during the attack, but minor damage was inflicted upon two light units during retirement.

On 1 March 1944 our forces were in the Marshall Islands and northeast New Guinea. On 1 March 1945 they were established in Iwo Jima, 750 miles from Tokyo.


In addition to the great battles and the major combats, there were many vital continuing operations against the Japanese in the Pacific. Although less spectacular, they were none the less significant in exerting pressure on the enemy at every possible point. These activities, with the exception of those by submarines, took place in areas where campaigns had already been fought and where the fruits of those campaigns were now capitalized on. Favorable positions and bases gained from the enemy became points of attack on his more remote holdings.

Northern Pacific

From bases in the Aleutians our air and surface forces kept up a constant attack on Japanese positions in the northern and central Kurile Islands. In spite of chronically bad weather, Army and Navy planes flew both attack and photographic missions to the Kuriles many times each month. They not only observed Japanese activity, but also destroyed important installations, supply dumps and shipping units. A task force of cruisers and destroyers commanded by the late Rear Admiral E. G. Small bombarded Matsuwa Island in the Kuriles on 13 June and Kurabu Zaki, an important enemy air base on the southeast tip of Paramushiru, on 26 June. Matsuwa Island was again bombarded on 21 November by a task force commanded by Rear Admiral J. L. McCrea. On 5 January 1945, Rear Admiral McCrea's forces bombarded Suribachi Wan, off Paramushiru, returning on 19 February to bombard Kurabu Zaki.


The activities of Pacific Fleet and Seventh Fleet submarines grew more extensive and varied after 1 March 1944. As previously, they operated aggressively against enemy combat ships and commerce. No waters of the Pacific were too remote for their operations and their patrols carried them to the interior lines of Japanese sea communication, where they have littered the bottom of the ocean with the sunken wrecks of a large part of Japan's once great merchant fleet, as well as many naval vessels. Their contribution to the success of our advance in the Pacific is noteworthy. Besides their combat patrols, the submarines have rendered invaluable service on reconnaissance missions and have rescued many aviators shot down during strikes against various Japanese bases. Pacific Fleet submarines have been under the command of Vice Admiral C. A. Lockwood, Jr., during the period covered by this report. Seventh Fleet submarines were under the command of Rear Admiral R. W. Christie until 30 December 1944, when he was relieved by Rear Admiral J. Fife, Jr.

The British Pacific Fleet

Recently we have had the pleasure of welcoming the arrival in the Pacific of a strong task force of the Royal Navy, commanded by Admiral Sir Bruce A. Fraser, G.C.B., K.B.E. This potent addition to the Allied naval power in the Far East has been placed under the operational control of the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and will work side by side with our armed forces in the common effort against the Japanese. Australian cruisers, destroyers and attack transports-under the command of Rear Admiral V. A. C. Crutchley, V.C., D.S.O., RN later Commodore J. A. Collins, C.B. RAN, and now Commodore H. B. Farncomb, M.V.O., D.S.O., RAN-have continued to operate as an integral part of our naval task forces, as they have in previous years.

Combat Operations: Pacific

THE final phase of the Pacific naval war commenced with the assault on Iwo Jima in February 1945, closely followed by that on Okinawa in April. These two positions were inner defenses of Japan itself; their capture by United States forces meant that the heart of the Empire would from then on be exposed to the full fury of attack, not only by our carrier aircraft but also by land-based planes, the latter in a strength comparable to that which wreaked such devastation against the better protected and less vulnerable cities of Germany. After Okinawa was in our hands, the Japanese were in a desperate situation, which could be alleviated only if they could strike a counterblow, either by damaging our fleet or by driving us from our advanced island positions. The inability of the Japanese to do either was strong evidence of their increasing impotence and indicated that the end could not be long delayed.


The strategic situation prior to the assault on Iwo Jima, the command organization for that operation and the forces involved, the landing on 19 February, and the first ten days of ground fighting, have been included in my previous report and will not be repeated herein. As March opened, fierce ground fighting on Iwo Jima was still in progress. The front line ran roughly parallel to the short axis of the island, the northeastern third of which was still held by the enemy. Our right flank (4th Marine Division) extended inland from the beach just beyond the East Boat Basin and faced the enemy's skillfully prepared defense positions in steep and rough terrain, which made progress difficult; our left flank (5th Marine Division) rested on Hiraiwa Bay directly across the island; in the center the 3rd Marine Division had pushed a salient along the central Motoyama Plateau to occupy Motoyama village and the near end of Airfield No. 3. By nightfall of 2 March this last airfield and the whole of the Motoyama tableland were under our control, leaving the enemy in possession of a diminishing horseshoe-shaped area fringing the northeastern end of the island.

Airfield No. 1 had for some days been in use by light artillery spotting planes, but on 3 March it came into its own when a B-29, after a strike against the Japanese mainland made a successful forced landing at Iwo Jima. More of such landings followed as the tempo of air strikes against Japan was stepped up. On 6 March the first land-based fighter planes came in, made patrol flights the following day, and relieved carrier aircraft in close support of troops on the third day after arrival. Airfield No. 2 was operational on 16 March.

Progress during the first week of March was slow despite daily artillery preparation, supplemented by naval gunfire and air strikes before each ground attack. On the night of 7-8 March the 4th Marine Division killed about 1000 enemy troops who had organized a major infiltration. Subsequently the resistance to our attacks diminished somewhat, and during the next three days control was secured of all the eastern coastline to a distance of approximately 4000 yards south of Kitano Point at the northeastern extremity of the island. On 16 March the northwest shore had been reached and Kitano Point isolated. Much mopping up remained to be done, particularly of a small stubborn pocket of resistance in one of the rugged gulches running southwest to the beaches from Kitano Point; but on 16 March all organized resistance was declared ended as of 1800, and the 4th Marine Division started re-embarking.

On 14 March the flag was raised officially and the establishment of military government was proclaimed. On 18 March the 5th Marine Division re-embarked. On 20 March the United States Army 147th Infantry Regiment of the garrison force arrived. At 0800 on 26 March, responsibility for the defense and development of Iwo Jima passed to the garrison force and the Commander Forward Area, Central Pacific. The capture of the island had taken 26 days of actual combat; over 20,000 enemy troops were destroyed; and our casualties ashore, as reported on 17 March, were 20,196, of whom 4,305 were killed in action.

The diminutive size of Iwo Jima and its general barrenness, lack of natural facilities and resources should lead no one either to minimize the importance of capturing it or to deprecate as unreasonable and unnecessary our heavy losses in doing so. It was important solely as an air base, but as such its importance was great. Not only was the pressure of air attack by our Marianas-based B-29's materially intensified by the availability of Iwo for topping them off with fuel and for supplying them with fighter cover from there on, but also there was an increase in combat effectiveness of the B-29's due to the heightened morale of personnel, heavier bomb loads, and decrease in abortive flights. There was, moreover, a substantial saving in valuable life in the number of B-29's which would have been shot down over Japan had there been no fighter cover, and in the number which would have been lost at sea had Iwo Jima not been available for emergency landings. It is estimated that the lives saved through this latter factor alone, subsequent to the capture of Iwo Jima, exceeded the lives lost in the capture itself.

This loss of life during the capture resulted inevitably from the strength of Iwo Jima as a defensive position and from the readiness of the enemy. Neither strategic nor tactical surprise was possible in our landing since, with Luzon and the Marianas in our hands, the seizure of some point in the Nanpo Shoto chain was obviously our next move, and Iwo Jima was by its location and the character of its terrain the most profitable objective.

It had no extensive coast line to afford invading troops a choice of landing points where they would meet little opposition, either on the beaches or in subsequent deployments for advance against enemy positions. Landing was feasible on only two beaches of limited extent, and they were so situated that a single defensive organization could oppose an assault against either separately or both simultaneously. The Japanese were, therefore, well prepared to meet us.

The defensive organization of Iwo Jima was the most complete and effective yet encountered. The beaches were flanked by high terrain favorable to the defenders. Artillery, mortars, and rocket launchers were well concealed, yet could register on both beaches-in fact, on any point on the island. Observation was possible, both from Mount Suribachi at the south end and from a number of commanding hills rising above the northern plateau. The rugged volcanic crags, severe escarpments and steep defiles sloping to the sea from all sides of the central Motoyama tableland afforded excellent natural cover and concealment, and lent themselves readily to the construction of subterranean positions to which the Japanese are addicted.

Knowing the superiority of the firepower that would be brought against them by air, sea, and land, they had gone underground most effectively, while remaining ready to man their positions with mortars, machine guns, and other portable weapons the instant our troops started to attack. The defenders were dedicated to expending themselves-but expending skillfully and protractedly in order to exact the uttermost toll from the attackers. Small wonder then that every step had to be won slowly by men inching forward with hand weapons, and at heavy costs. There was no other way of doing it.

The skill and gallantry of our Marines in this exceptionally difficult enterprise was worthy of their best traditions and deserving of the highest commendation. This was equally true of the naval units acting in their support, especially those engaged at the hazardous beaches. American history offers no finer example of courage, ardor and efficiency.

As a whole the operation affords a striking illustration of the inherently close relation between land, sea and air power. The fleet with its ships and planes delivered and supported the land forces. The Marines took an air base from which our land-based planes could operate with effectiveness far beyond that possible from our other bases in the rear. The same general pattern marked our long progress all the way across the vast central and western Pacific.


Our capture of the Marianas and Philippines had placed us on a strategic line some 1300 miles from the Japanese homeland and across its direct routes of communication to the south. The occupation of Iwo Jima had advanced this line to within 640 miles of Tokyo at the eastern end. The next step directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as to secure a position in the Nansei Shoto chain, which extends in a shallow loop from Kyushu, the southernmost of the main Japanese islands, down to Japanese held Formosa Okinawa, the largest and most populous island in this chain, offered numerous sites for airfields from which almost any type of plane could reach industrial Kyushu only 350 miles distant, and attack the enemy's communications to Korea, to the Chinese mainland, and to the Indo-China and Singapore areas. Since Okinawa also contained several excellent naval anchorages, it was chosen as the objective; the Operations against it followed immediately on those for the capture of Iwo Jima.

From many standpoints the Okinawa operation was the most difficult ever undertaken by our forces in the Pacific. It was defended by about 120,000 men (including native Okinawans serving with the combat forces) with tanks and artillery. As possible reinforcements there were some 60,000 troops in various other positions in the Nansei Shoto chain, plus much larger forces in nearby Formosa, Kyushu, and the Shanghai area. Also of great importance was the large native population, which afforded the enemy an unlimited supply of labor, and which might easily become a serious problem to us by clogging roads and imposing a burden of relief.

The most serious threat to us, however, lay in the very factor for which we had initiated the operation, namely the short distance from Okinawa to the Japanese homeland, where lay the main reserves of air and naval power. Just as we would be able to strike Japan to better effect after securing Okinawa, the Japanese could strike us while we were attacking that island. Japan's naval strength had been so reduced that it could not hope for success against our own in a decisive action; but hit-and-

run raids, or perhaps forlorn-hope, honor-saving attempts, were a possibility. Air attack, particularly of the suicide variety, was the greatest menace, since the Japanese airfields within easy range of Okinawa were too numerous to permit more than their partial and temporary interdiction by our own air strikes against them. Severe damage and losses, therefore, had to be expected and accepted as the price of our success.

The operations for the capture of Okinawa were under the command of Admiral R. A. Spruance, Commander Fifth Fleet. Major forces participating under him were: the Joint Expeditionary Force (all elements engaged directly in the landings), Vice Admiral (now Admiral) R. K. Turner; the Expeditionary Troops (all ground forces engaged), the late Lieutenant General S. B. Buckner, USA; the Fast Carrier Force, Vice Admiral M. A. Mitscher, (including the battleships and other fire support vessels of the late Vice Admiral W. A. Lee's Striking Force); the British Carrier Force, Vice Admiral H. B. Rawlings; the Logistic Supply Group (tankers and cargo vessels which serviced the fleet under way close to the combat areas), Rear Admiral D. B. Beary; Service Squadron Ten (the repair, supply and service vessels of all kinds, based on Leyte Gulf, the Marianas, etc.), Commodore W. R. Carter; the Amphibious Support Force (comprising escort carriers, minesweepers, underwater demolition teams, gun-boats, and the gunnery ships assigned to bombardment missions), Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) W. H. P. Blandy; and the Gunfire and Covering Force (the battleships and other gunnery vessels not with the fast carriers), Rear Admiral M. L. Deyo. Numerous other participating task groups and units and their commanders are not mentioned herein. About 548,000 men of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps took part, with 318 combatant vessels and 1139 auxiliary vessels, exclusive of personnel landing craft of all types.

The greater part of the intelligence information required for the operation was obtained from photographic coverage. Adequate small scale coverage for mapping purposes was first obtained on 29 September 1944 by B-29's of the XXI Bomber Command; from then on until the conclusion of the operation, additional photographing was done at frequent intervals by Army planes and planes of the Fast Carrier Force. The prompt developing, printing, and interpreting of these photos, and the early and wide distribution of the prints and of the information gleaned from them, was an important feature of the operation.

The island of Okinawa, which is about 65 miles long, is roughly divided into almost equal northern and southern parts. The northern area is generally rugged, mountainous, wooded and undeveloped. The southern area, which is generally rolling but frequently broken by deep scarps and ravines, is the developed part of the island, containing the greater number of towns, roads, and cultivated areas, the capital city of Naha, all five of the island's airfields, and the strongest defenses. (See Plate 15.)

The preferred plan called for our ground forces to land on six miles of beach on the southwest shore, protected from the prevailing northeast trade winds and closely bordering the island's Yontan and Kadena airfields. Four divisions were to be landed abreast on these beaches. With the two center divisions advancing directly across the island to the east coast, and with the left and right flank divisions pivoting toward the north and south respectively, the Japanese forces in the southern part of the island would be isolated by these maneuvers, and were then to be overcome by attack from the north. Coincident with the main troop attack, there was planned for the southeast coast a demonstration, and an actual landing, if necessary.

Planned operations preliminary to and in support of the main landings included the following: the seizure of the islands of the Kerama Retto group, 20 miles to the southwest, in order to establish therein a logistics supply and naval repair base and a seaplane base; the seizure of the small island of Keise Shima, about 20,000 yards from the landing beaches and 11,000 yards from Naha city, and landing army artillery there to command the lower end of Okinawa; mine sweeping on a scale greater than in any previous operation; the usual work by underwater demolition teams; and the intensive bombardments by air and naval forces.

Cargo and troops were loaded and embarked on the United States west coast, in the Hawaiian Islands, in the southwestern Pacific, the Marshalls, the Carolines, and Leyte. The various elements proceeded to assemble afloat at Ulithi, Guadalcanal, Saipan, and Leyte. Following rehearsals the several forces departed for the objective in the more than 1200 ships of all kinds which the Joint Expeditionary Force contained. Movement of all forces to the objective was carried out without enemy interference. Operational breakdowns en route were insignificant, a fact which speaks well for the efficiency of our material and our personnel in operation, maintenance, and repair. An indispensable element in the campaign as a whole was the covering operations of the Fast Carrier Force, which are given in some detail in the next section of this report.

The mine sweepers were in the van, and on L-minus-8 day, 24 March, commenced sweeping under cover of gunfire from battleships of the Fast Carrier Force, and continued this work up to L-day, 1 April. There were 75 sweepers; and the entire coastal perimeter of southern Okinawa was cleared of mines during this pre-assault phase, in addition to the sweeping necessary for the capture of Kerama Retto and Ie Shima. Including re-sweeping, over 3000 square miles were swept and declared safe prior to L-day. Some 177 mines were swept and about 80 floaters destroyed. The thoroughness of this task is evidenced by the safety with which bombardment and assault ships in great numbers closed the assault beaches without significant loss from mines.

On L-minus-6 day the assault on Kerama Retto was commenced, and by L-

minus-1, 31 March, these islands and also Keise Shima had been occupied against minor resistance. Nets were immediately laid to protect the anchorages, and the seaplane base was established. Tankers, ammunition ships and repair vessels were brought directly to this anchorage, which assumed a progressively more important role as the principal haven for ships damaged by "kamikaze" attacks of suicide planes.

Since L-minus-7, 25 March, Okinawa itself had been under intermittent bombing and gunfire, and on L-day, 1 April, preceded by intense naval and air bombardment, the Tenth Army landed according to schedule over the Hagushi beaches on Okinawa against light enemy resistance. The assault waves, embarked in amphibious vehicles, hit the beach at 0830, moved rapidly inland, and by 1230 had captured both Yontan and Kadena airfields with light losses. Prior to dark the Tenth Army, with approximately 50,000 troops ashore, had gained a beachhead 4000 to 5000 yards in depth. Proceeding rapidly against initially weak resistance, our troops crossed the island to the east shore, and on 4 April the Yontan-Kadena segment of the island was in our hands.

The Japanese had made no serious attempt to stop us at the beaches where we had landed; as the attack progressed from day to day, it was evident that they had withdrawn most of their forces into the southernmost part of the island, and had established their defenses in depth on terrain admirably suited for defense and delaying action tactics. The enemy defenses consisted of blockhouses, pillboxes, and caves, protected by double apron barbed wire and minefields. Here the enemy used his artillery unstintingly, and his defensive tactics were described as "artful and fantastic."

In the north progress was rapid against scattered opposition; on 22 April all organized resistance in the northern two thirds of the island had ceased, though patrolling and mopping up continued. In the south our advance was stubbornly contested. From 4 April to 26 May our lines had advanced only about four miles, and it took from 26 May to 21 June to cover the remaining ten miles to the southern tip of the island. On 21 June, after eighty-two days of bitter fighting, organized resistance was declared to have ended, although mopping up of two small enemy pockets remained to be done.

On 18 June, while observing the attack of the Marine 8th Regimental Combat Team, Lieutenant General Buckner, Commanding General of the Tenth Army and the Ryukyus Forces, was instantly killed by a shell burst. Command of the ground forces was then assumed by Major General Roy S. Geiger, USMC, until after the capture of the island, when he was relieved by General Joseph W. Stillwell, USA on 23 June.

The general pattern of the operation for the capture of Okinawa was similar to those for the capture of Iwo Jima, the Marianas, the Marshalls, etc.; it differed mainly in the size of the air, naval, and ground forces employed, the length of time required to secure it after the initial landing, and the number of naval vessels damaged or sunk at the scene of operations by air attack, mainly of the suicide variety. Having been experienced in previous operations, this form of attack was not new, but the shorter distance from numerous air bases in Japan, and the desperate situation which would threaten the Japanese if our assault on Okinawa were successful, stimulated them to their greatest and most fanatical effort.

The time element was closely connected with the extent of our ship losses. By its very nature an amphibious invasion implies advancing a huge number of vessels, both combatant and noncombatant, from a zone dominated by oneís own land-based air forces into one hitherto dominated by the enemy's. Our vessels are localized by the landing so that the enemy has not the problem of finding them, but only of hitting them. Thus exposed, their protection depends wholly on their own antiaircraft fire, smoke, and on cover from our own carrier-based air forces, which are to that extent diverted from offensive missions. This precarious situation for shipping continues until progress ashore at the objective results in relief: first, by the establishment of our own air forces, air facilities, antiaircraft radars, and fighter-directors ashore in strength sufficient to dominate the area; secondly, and more important, by releasing most of the shipping so that there are fewer vulnerable targets presented to any enemy that gets through. The longer this relief is delayed by the continuance of ground fighting, the higher our shipping casualties mount. The longer the Navy must remain in support of assault troop operations, the more vulnerable it is to attack, and the higher is the proportion of personnel and ship casualties. Slow progress on the ground is directly reflected, therefore, in naval losses.

The first enemy air attack at Okinawa occurred on 24 March when the mine sweepers arrived; the first damage was done on 26 March; and by 21 June, when organized resistance had ceased, about 250 vessels of all classes, from battleships and carriers down to destroyers and landing ships, had been hit by air attack, by far the greatest proportion of them in suicide crashes. Some 34 destroyers or smaller craft were sunk. Early warning of impending attacks proved to be the best countermeasure and for this purpose destroyers and other small vessels were stationed as pickets at appropriate distances from the concentrations of heavier shipping. These pickets took the heaviest losses themselves, but in so doing they undoubtedly saved many bigger and more valuable vessels during a critical three months.


After the supporting operations for the Iwo Jima campaign were completed, Vice Admiral Mitscher proceeded with his fast carrier task force in support of the forth-coming Okinawa campaign. First he went toward the Nansei Shoto in order to obtain photographic coverage of that area. Planes were launched on 1 March, and excellent photo reconnaissance was obtained for use in planning the Okinawa campaign. While in this area, cruisers of the force bombarded Okino Daito Shima on 2 March, starting numerous fires and providing valuable training for the ships participating. The force then proceeded to Ulithi for a ten-day period of regrouping and logistic replenishment.

On 14 March the task force departed from Ulithi and proceeded toward Japan t6 carry out its part in the invasion of Okinawa. On 18-19 March, from a position 100 miles southeast of Kyushu, air strikes were launched against airfields on that island in order to eliminate future airborne resistance to our Okinawa invasion forces. Fleet units at Kure and Kobe were also attacked with considerable success.

On the morning of the 19th the carrier FRANKLIN was badly damaged by fires started when she was hit by two bombs from an enemy plane. Outstanding rescue operations saved 850 men from the water, but the dead and missing totaled 772. Sweeps against enemy airfields were made to forestall an organized attack on the slowly moving damaged ships and escorts. On 21 March 48 enemy planes were intercepted 60 miles from the force by 24 carrier-based planes. In the ensuing battle all the Japanese planes were shot down with a loss of only two of our fighters.

In a four-day period Vice Admiral Mitscher's forces destroyed 528 enemy planes, damaged 16 enemy surface craft, and either destroyed or damaged scores of hangars, factories, and warehouses. Our own plane losses were 116. As a result of this operation, the enemy was unable to mount any strong air attack against our forces on Okinawa for a week after the initial landing.

On 24 March, under the command of Vice Admiral Lee, battleships of the task force bombarded the southeastern coast of Okinawa. This was part of a diversionary move to cover up the actual location of our landing beaches; apparently the ruse was successful.

When the invasion of Okinawa began on 1 April, planes from the fast carriers began a series of almost continuous strikes and combat air patrols in direct support of the operation. For a few days enemy air opposition was almost nonexistent, but on 6 April the Japanese finally struck with fury against our ground and supporting forces. All units of the carrier force performed admirably during the day's attack, knocking down 248 planes, while losing only 2.

The carrier task force then proceeded northward, and on 7 April attacked strong Japanese fleet units which had been located in the East China Sea off Kyushu. Heavy weather handicapped our airmen, but in spite of this they sank the battleship YAMATO, the cruiser YAHAGI and 4 destroyers. Fires were started on 2 other destroyers, and only 3 destroyers in the entire force escaped without damage.

While our planes were otherwise occupied in striking YAMATO and those ships, the enemy resumed the heavy assaults of the previous day against the carrier force. Combat air patrols destroyed 15 planes over the force, and ships' gunfire knocked down 3 more. One suicide plane penetrated the antiaircraft fire, however, and dropped a bomb on the carrier HANCOCK; it then crashed on her flight deck, killing 28 men, and badly damaging the carrier.

On 11 April the enemy resumed the air attacks on the fast carrier task force. The number of Japanese planes participating was not large, but their pilots were determined to destroy themselves by diving their planes directly on the chosen target. Fortunately there were no direct hits, but 8 near misses caused some damage. During the day our carrier-

based planes shot down 17 of these suicide planes, and ships' gunfire destroyed 12 more, but they still constituted a serious threat to our forces.

The next day the enemy shifted the weight of his suicide attacks to the ships anchored at Okinawa, and the combat air patrols from both fast and escort carriers had little difficulty in shooting down 151 enemy planes over the islands.

On 15 April the carriers launched a surprise attack against southern Kyushu airfields, destroying 51 enemy planes on the ground and setting numerous ground installations afire. The Japanese managed to launch some planes in opposition, and 29 of these were shot down before our aircraft returned to the carriers.

Fighter sweeps were again launched against Kyushu on 16 April in an effort to and destroyed 54 on the ground. In spite of this success, however, the enemy launched heavy air attacks during the day against our Okinawa forces and the fast carrier task force. All ground support was canceled, and every effort was concentrated on a successful defense of the task force. The final score for the day was 210 enemy aircraft shot down, against a loss of 9 of our planes. Heavy damage was caused to the carrier INTREPID when a suicide plane crashed on her flight deck at the height of the battle.

On 19 April Vice Admiral Lee commanded a division of fast battleships in the bombardment of the southeastern coast of Okinawa. This action coincided with the beginning of the Tenth Army's all-out offensive. The bombardment not only destroyed important military installations, but it assisted in making a feint landing at that point appear authentic.

On 29 April suicide planes again attacked the task force in strength, hitting and badly damaging two destroyers. The enemy paid for them, however, with 25 aircraft knocked out of the air by planes and guns of the task force.

After several days of relative calm, enemy aircraft returned in large numbers on 4 May to attack our land and amphibious forces in the Okinawa area. This attack was apparently part of a counter-landing operation to aid their own ground forces. The fast carrier task force was not attacked, however, and its fighters were free to defend the Okinawa area, shooting down 98 enemy aircraft, while losing only 5 planes.

On 11 May another major air battle was fought over Okinawa and the ships of the task force. Carrier-based planes shot down 69 enemy aircraft, ships' gunfire accounted for 3 more, while 2 were destroyed in suicide dives on the carrier BUNKER HILL. This ship was badly damaged, and 373 of her personnel were killed, with 19 missing.

The fast carriers moved northward on 12 May and launched additional air strikes against Kyushu airfields on 13-14 May. Few planes were found and virtually no air opposition was encountered over the fields. On the morning of the 14th, however, the enemy managed to launch a force of 26 planes against the ships of the task force. Of these 6 were shot down by ships' gunfire and 19 by combat air patrol; the remaining plane was destroyed in a damaging suicide crash on ENTERPRISE.

On 24 May the fast carriers launched a clean-up sweep by 98 planes against airfields in southern Kyushu. Except on Kanoya airfield little activity was found, and it was evident that the previous strikes against this area had been very effective. The score for the day was 84 enemy planes destroyed, while our losses were confined to 3 planes lost to antiaircraft fire off Kanoya.

On 28 May the late Vice Admiral J. S. McCain relieved Vice Admiral Mitscher as commander of the fast carrier task forces.

On 2-3 June further long-range sweeps were launched against Kyushu, but bad weather impaired their effectiveness. Only 30 enemy planes were destroyed, while our losses were 16. By 4 June the bad weather had developed into a typhoon, and the ships of the task force spent the next 24 hours in attempting to avoid the storm's center. Serious damage to 3 cruisers, 2 carriers, and 1 destroyer resulted.

Operations were resumed on 8 June when a final attack was made on southern Kyushu. It was well executed, but previous raids had so reduced Japanese air strength in this area that only 29 planes could be destroyed. Only 4 of our carrier planes were lost. On 8 and 9 June, cruisers and battleships from Vice Admiral McCain's task force bombarded Okino Daito and Minami Daito to the east of Okinawa. These attacks terminated the supporting action of the fast carrier task force, and on 10 June course was set for Leyte Gulf, where they anchored on 13 June for a period of replenishment and repair.

For a period of nearly three months, the fast carriers and their escorts had operated in and near the Okinawa area, giving invaluable support to our occupation forces. During this time the task force had destroyed 2336 enemy planes, while losing 557 of its own aircraft. In addition, widespread damage had been inflicted upon shore installations in Japan, the Nansei Shoto, and upon important units of the Japanese fleet. This remarkable record detracted considerably from the ability of the enemy to oppose our landing forces on Okinawa, thereby contributing notably to our final success.

British Carrier Operations

A fast British carrier task force, under the command of Vice Admiral Rawlings, was assigned to Admiral Spruance's Fifth Fleet to assist in the air support operations for the Okinawa assault. From 26 March to 20 April, and again from 4 May to 25 May, planes from this force rendered valuable service in neutralizing the enemy air installations on Sakishima Gunto, southwest of Okinawa. Carriers of the force were subjected to frequent attacks by suicide planes, but none of them was put out of action. Battleships and cruisers of the force bombarded Miyako Jima on 4 May with satisfactory results.


The situation in the Philippines on 1 March 1945 found United States forces controlling all of Leyte and Mindoro, most of Samar except a small area in the north, the central part of Luzon from Lingayen Gulf to Manila and certain areas to the south. Isolated resistance was still encountered within a few buildings in Manila and islands in the bay. Guerrillas controlled substantial areas of the Visayan Islands and Mindanao. Landings had been made on 28 February at Puerto Princesa on the east coast of Palawan with practically no opposition. Control was quickly extended over adjacent territory, providing airfields from which enemy sea traffic in waters to the westward and southward could be observed and attacked. Japanese concentrations still existed in many key cities of the Philippines and along certain of the routes which our ships had to travel to bring up vitally needed supplies and munitions. In addition, though their general air strength in the area had greatly diminished, the Japanese still controlled a number of airfields which permitted harassing attacks.

A series of operations was undertaken to gain control of the important straits leading into central Philippine waters in order to cut off enemy reinforcements and to set the stage for the ultimate reduction of remaining Japanese strongholds in the Philippines. The capture of Palawan provided an effective barrier on the west and gave us a base for naval and air operations which controlled the Balabac Strait entrance from the South China Sea to the Sulu Sea. At the same time we secured the most direct sea lane to Manila with an amphibious assault on Lubang Island, controlling the Verde Island Passage just south of the capital. The islands of Burias and Ticao were seized on 4 March and Romblon and Simara on 12 March. Possession of these islands afforded protection to our shipping through San Bernardino Strait and obviated the need for the roundabout route through Surigao Strait which was still subject to air attacks from the Visayas.

The campaign to complete the reoccupation of the Philippines resolved itself naturally into a series of amphibious landings to seize control of coastal cities and other strongly held Japanese positions. In March three such landings were made by forces of Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet. (See Plate 9.)

The first of these landings was made on 10 March at Zamboanga, at the southwest tip of Mindanao, in order to obtain control of the passage from the Sulu to the Celebes Sea, secure naval and air facilities with which to compress the Japanese remaining in the central Philippines, and provide a further steppingstone down the Sulu Archipelago for future operations towards Borneo. The attack group was under command of the late Rear Admiral F. B. Royal. Light cruisers and destroyers bombarded enemy positions there for two days while mine sweepers made sure the approaches were clear. On 10 March the 41st Division was put ashore under moderate enemy artillery and mortar fire. The troops quickly overran Zamboanga City and the two airfields nearby, driving the Japanese back into the hills. A further landing was made on Basilan Island on 16 March without enemy opposition.

On 18 March a similar assault force landed at Iloilo on the island of Panay. To clear this island and establish radar and air facilities as well as motor torpedo boat bases, the 40th Division was staged from Lingayen Gulf. Only token opposition to the landings was offered, and naval gunfire preparation was withheld to save the lives of natives. The assault group was commanded by Rear Admiral A. D. Struble. Iloilo City was secured on the 20th; the docks and harbor area were found practically undamaged. Subsequent minor operations had by the end of March virtually cleared Panay and nearby smaller islands.

Troops of the Americal Division were used for the landing at Cebu on 26 March. Captain A. T. Sprague, Jr., commanded the attack group, which was supported by a covering group of cruisers and destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral R. S. Berkey. Although the beaches were well organized for defense, the enemy positions there were found abandoned. Cebu City was captured on the next day, but considerable opposition to the advance of the troops inland developed, requiring extensive ground operations to clear the island.

On 17 April, after naval bombardment and air strikes, the X Corps with two divisions landed at Malabang (on Moro Gulf in southern Mindanao) and moved overland toward Davao Gulf against light opposition. Rear Admiral A. G. Noble commanded the naval task group and Rear Admiral R. S. Riggs the cruiser force which covered the landing. Cotobato and its airfield were secured on the next day. A novel feature of this campaign was the successful use of light landing craft on rivers leading inland. Davao Gulf was reached late in April and Davao City was captured on 4 May, followed by further extension of control along the shores of the Gulf. In the meantime, troops also advanced northward and effected a junction on 23 May with a regimental combat team which had been landed at Macajalar on the north coast on 9 May. These operations effectively sealed off enemy garrisons in the interior of the island where they could be mopped up at leisure.

The landing at Malabang was the last large amphibious assault necessary for the reoccupation of the Philippines, but a number of minor landings on the small islands were required in order to eliminate their garrisons. The most important of these were: the crossing of a regimental combat team from Iloilo to Pulupandan Point on northern Negros on 29 March, to assist in clearing that island of the enemy; the landing of another at Legaspi, Luzon, on 1 April to facilitate the clearing of the Bicol Peninsula; and landings by a third such unit at Sanga Sanga in the Tawi Tawi group on 2 April and at Jolo on 8 April. Such landings were generally supported by naval gunfire, as well as by air strikes. Landings were also made at Masbate on 3 April; on Busuanga Island, lying between Mindoro and Palawan, on 9 April; and at Tagbiliran, Bohol Island, on 11 April. Bohol was the only major island in the Philippines on which we had not yet established a firm hold. From this time until the close of hostilities, most naval operations in the Philippines involved small groups transporting and covering American troops and guerrillas in shore-to-shore movements. The major units of the Seventh Fleet were occupied with the invasion of Borneo to the south.

The operations against Borneo, which began in May, were designed to deny the enemy the fruits of his conquests in the Netherlands East Indies and his use of the approaches to those areas. These included the capture of Tarakan to obtain its petroleum resources and to provide an airfield for support of the Balikpapan operation; the seizure of Brunei Bay to establish an advance fleet base and protect resources in that area; and the occupation of Balikpapan to establish naval air and logistic facilities and to conserve petroleum installations there. (See Plate 16.) Vice Admiral D. E. Barbey was designated the commander of the Borneo attack force.

The first Borneo operation was directed against the island of Tarakan, approximately 185 miles southwest of Tawi Tawi, to overcome some 3000 Japanese that were estimated to be on the island, and to develop facilities for future operations. Australian and American cruisers and destroyers began shelling the island on 27 April and continued through 1 May. At the same time the mine-sweeping group cleared the necessary approaches. Numerous neutralizing air raids had been made on airfields in the area. On 1 May the attack group under Rear Admiral Royal moved in. Units of the 9th Australian Division were landed on schedule with only small arms opposition.

In the second Borneo operation the 9th Australian Division, reinforced, was transported from Morotai to the Brunei Bay area of northern Borneo. Three separate landings were made at Labuan Island and on the mainland at Bintang and Cape Polompong. Air support was furnished by the United States Thirteenth Air Force and the Australian First Tactical Air Force. For ten days preceding the target date air strikes neutralized enemy airfields and harassed troop movements and shipping in Borneo, with emphasis on Brunei Bay targets the last three days. Mine sweeping began on 7 June under the protection of Rear Admiral Berkey's covering force of cruisers and destroyers. The mine sweeper SALUTE struck a mine and sank with many casualties.

Beginning on 9 June a distant covering group of cruisers and destroyers under Rear Admiral Riggs patrolled 50 miles west of Brunei Bay to prevent enemy surface interference.

The attack group commander was again Rear Admiral Royal. On 10 June, after an hour of heavy bombardment which caused the enemy to retreat from the beaches, the assault waves landed without opposition and moved inland against slight resistance.

When the landings had been successfully executed and one of the two Japanese cruisers in the area had been sunk off the Malay coast by a British submarine, the distant cover group was withdrawn on 11 June. Throughout the operation motor torpedo boats rendered valuable assistance strafing shore targets and patrolling the area. One hundred twenty miles to the south at Miri-Lutong a supplementary landing was made by combined forces after a week of mine sweeping in which 458 mines were swept.

The operations against Balikpapan were carried out under Rear Admiral Noble as commander of the attack group, and Rear Admiral Riggs as commander of the cruiser covering group. In preparation for the attack heavy air strikes had been made for a month using the Army, Navy and Australian air forces with as many as 100 sorties a day. The target date was set for 1 July. Sixteen days prior to this, mine sweeping and underwater demolition activities began with covering fire from cruisers and destroyers. This was met with intense reaction from enemy coastal guns. Three mine sweepers were damaged by enemy fire and three were sunk and one damaged by exploding mines. There was some doubt as to whether the target date could be met, but finally on 24 June destroyers were able to get close enough inshore to smother the enemy guns before the landing. An escort carrier group under the late Rear Admiral W. D. Sample provided day and night air cover, since land planes were based too far distant to assure their presence in the case of bad weather.

The attack force consisted of the largest number of ships used in the Southwest Pacific area since the Lingayen landings. In the cover and carrier groups were 9 cruisers (including 2 Australian and 1 Dutch), 3 escort carriers and destroyer escorts. The attack group was of comparable scale. After an intense two-hour bombardment on 1 July, the assault waves moved ashore. In spite of enemy artillery, mortar and small arms fire, seventeen assault waves landed without a single casualty. Stiffening resistance was met as the troops progressed inland and fire support was rendered by cruisers both day and night. This support continued through 7 July. A further landing at Cape Penajam was made without casualties on 5 July. There was no surface or subsurface interference with the attacking forces, and only four light harassing attacks were made by enemy planes with no damage to our ships or personnel.

While the period covered by this report witnessed no single naval operation of the size and scope of the Leyte or Lingayen landings, the numerous amphibious operations in which the Seventh Fleet participated contributed materially to the consolidation of our positions in the Philippines and the wresting of vital resources from the enemy in Borneo.

These numerous amphibious landings were conducted on short notice and in many instances were so closely spaced that for all practical purposes they were concurrent operations. Their successful completion on schedule reflects great credit on the commanders responsible for their planning and execution. In addition to the landing operations, unremitting and constantly mounting pressure was maintained on the enemy by Seventh Fleet submarines, aircraft, and motor torpedo boats, which by June had brought to a virtual standstill all enemy sea-borne and coastal transport in the Southwest Pacific area.

Of equal importance with the offensive operations mentioned above were the large movements of men and supplies into the Philippines, and the extensive redeployment of men and equipment within the area in preparation for the staging of the projected landings on the Japanese home islands. The control and protection of the large number of ships employed for this task were successfully accomplished without loss from enemy action, although a considerable strain was placed on the available facilities and forces.

With the cessation of hostilities, the Commander Seventh Fleet was relieved of all responsibilities as senior naval officer in the Southwest Pacific area and with a reconstituted Seventh Fleet assigned the tasks of occupying and controlling the waters of the Yellow Sea, Gulf of Pohai, the coastal waters of China south to twenty degrees north and the navigable portion of the Yangtze River; the landing and establishing of United States Army troops in Korea, and United States Marines in North China; the evacuation of ex-prisoners of war and internees; the support of operations of United States forces in the China Theater; the clearance of mine fields and opening of ports in the Seventh Fleet area; and the routing and protection of friendly shipping. The planning for and execution of these tasks in the initial stages were necessarily accomplished in great haste and with certain improvisations. However, the new organization has been perfected rapidly with attendant uniformly satisfactory progress.


After nearly three weeks of replenishment in Leyte Gulf, subsequent to their support of the Okinawa operation, the fast carrier forces of Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet, comprising the greatest mass of sea power ever assembled, proceeded northward on 1 July toward Japan. This huge armada was to complete the destruction of the Japanese fleet, conduct a preinvasion campaign of destruction against every industry and resource contributing to Japan's ability to wage war, and maintain maximum pressure on the Japanese in order to lower their will to fight.

On 10 July the force arrived in the launching area, 170 miles southeast of Tokyo. On that day strikes were made against airfields and industrial plants in the Tokyo area; 72 planes were destroyed on the ground and extensive damage inflicted on other targets. No attempt was made to conceal the location of the fleet but, in spite of this, little enemy air opposition was encountered.

Admiral Halsey then moved north to attack northern Honshu and southern Hokkaido on 14-15 July. Aerial strikes dealt a severe blow to critical water transportation facilities between Hokkaido and Honshu, when 5 railroad ferries were sunk and 4 others damaged. Again, little air opposition was encountered by our planes. Simultaneously with these air strikes heavy units of the force shelled Kamaishi and Muroran, causing damage to the steel mills and oil installations in those cities.

On 17 July the Third Fleet moved south and was joined by units of the British Pacific Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Rawlings. Admiral Halsey was in over-all command and, on that day, ordered the first combined American-British bombardment of the Japanese homeland. Battleships fired 2000 tons of shells into the coastal area northeast of Tokyo and encountered no enemy opposition during the operation.

On the following day American and British carrier-based planes struck at enemy fleet units concealed at the Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay. NAGATO, one of two remaining Japanese battleships, was badly damaged. Numerous shore installations and transportation facilities were also hit.

On 24 and 25 July the combined British and American naval forces launched extensive air strikes against targets in the Inland Sea area. The planes concentrated on the major fleet units still afloat at the Kure naval base. Six major ships were badly damaged and, in all, 22 naval units totaling 258,000 tons were either sunk or put out of action, sounding the death knell of Japanese sea power. Intensive antiaircraft fire was met, and for the first time the enemy mounted aggressive, airborne opposition. A total of 113 enemy aircraft were destroyed during the two-day attack, while only 12 British and American planes were lost.

A follow-up attack was made on Kure and the Inland Sea area by the carrier-based planes on 28 July. Reconnaissance indicated that the enemy fleet units had been effectively reduced by the previous strikes, but additional bombs were dropped for good measure. Extensive damage was also done to merchant shipping and to vital shore installations, particularly railroad facilities. Strong air opposition was encountered once more, but our aircraft knocked down 21 Japanese planes air-borne and destroyed 123 on the ground for a total of 144 for the day, while our forces lost 36.

On 30 July the Tokyo area was harassed for the third time in three weeks by aircraft from the fast carriers, our airmen destroying 121 enemy planes during the day and inflicting severe damage on lighter enemy fleet units found in the region. Meanwhile, the fast battleships were shelling the port of Hamamatsu on the east coast of central Honshu, spreading havoc in that area.

For the first eight days of August the harassed Japanese homeland was given a temporary respite while Admiral Halsey's fleet was riding out a heavy typhoon. On 9 and 10 August, however, the offensive was renewed with another air attack on northern Honshu. It was known that the enemy had withdrawn a large part of his air force to fields in this area, and the strikes were designed to destroy as many of them as possible. The plan was partially successful, for during the two days 397 enemy planes were destroyed and 320 others damaged. Almost no air-borne opposition was encountered, and all but 10 of the destroyed planes were caught on the ground. The British and Americans lost only 34 planes. While these air strikes were in progress, battleships from the Third Fleet bombarded the coastal city of Kamaishi for a second time, inflicting further heavy damage on the steel mills in the area.

Admiral Halsey's final blow was delivered against Tokyo on 13 August. Airfields and other military installations were the primary targets, with 46 planes being destroyed on the ground. The Japanese tried to get through to the surface ships, but 21 planes were shot down in the futile attempt. The strong protective screen around the fleet was too much for the fading enemy air strength.

On 15 August the order of Fleet Admiral Nimitz to "cease fire" was received too late to stop the first of the day's air strikes planned for Tokyo. It knocked 30 enemy planes out of the air and destroyed 10 more on the ground. The second strike had also been launched, but it was recalled in time; its pilots were ordered to jettison their bombs and return to their carriers.

Since 10 July the forces under Admiral Halsey's command had destroyed or damaged 2804 enemy planes, sunk or damaged 148 Japanese combat ships, sunk or damaged 1598 enemy merchant ships, destroyed 195 locomotives, and damaged 109 more. In addition, heavy blows had been struck at industrial targets and war industries, effectively supplementing the bombing by B-29's. This impressive record speaks for itself and helps to explain the sudden collapse of Japan's will to resist. Naval air power, acting in close conjunction with naval surface power and Army bombers, had beaten enemy land-based air power besides inflicting critical losses on naval ships and seriously damaging many shore targets.


Although somewhat obscured by the more spectacular amphibious assaults and carrier force operations which marked our major advances toward the Japanese homeland, there were many other vital and necessary activities which by their nature had more the form of a continuous pressure than of major individual operations against the enemy. Outstanding parts were played by the submarines (whose achievements are summarized in a later chapter), by the land-based air forces, and, to a lesser extent, by the Northern Pacific forces.

Northern Pacific Forces

Although usually hampered by foul weather, which ran the gamut of fogs, rain, gales, snow, and floating ice fields, naval and air forces of the Northern Pacific continued to exert pressure against the Japanese-held northern Kurile Islands, posing a constant threat to the enemy's northern flank.

Army and Navy aircraft flew such searches as weather permitted, bombed and rocketed Japanese shipping and bases in the Kuriles several times each month, and maintained photographic coverage to detect any increase in enemy installations. Light naval task forces, usually consisting of 3 of the older cruisers and from 5 to 7 destroyers, bombarded coastal positions in the Kuriles once in March, once in May, twice in June, and once in July, and even penetrated the Okhotsk Sea in search of enemy shipping. On 11-12 August cruisers and destroyers commanded by Rear Admiral J. H. Brown, Jr., combining a high-speed antishipping sweep on both sides of the central and northern Kuriles with bombardments of enemy shore installations, intercepted two enemy convoys and destroyed 10 trawlers and a subchaser.

Land-Based Air Forces

With the exception of the B-29's of the Twentieth Air Force, the principal missions of land-based air forces of the Pacific Ocean Areas were support of the Iwo Jima and Okinawa operations, attacks on Japanese shipping, and continued neutralization of by-passed enemy bases.

During the period of this report, the greatest expansion of land-based air forces took place in the Army's Twentieth Air Force. Airfields in the Marianas were constantly increased to accommodate greater numbers of B-29's. When Iwo Jima became available for emergency landings, greater bomb loads were carried safely, and fighter support became possible. From that time until the end of hostilities, strategic bombing against vital Japanese industries and cities was constantly stepped up, coordinating with bombing by fleet planes, and many thousands of mines were dropped in Japan's harbors and sea lanes. Destruction resulting from these raids, and the final blows dealt with two powerful atomic bombs, undoubtedly were a major factor in forcing Japanese capitulation.

Of less spectacular nature, yet also important in their effect on the war, were the operations of other land-based air forces against enemy shipping and by-passed islands in the Pacific. With the capture and development of airfields on Okinawa, Army and Marine Corps bombers and fighters of the Tactical Air Force and Fleet Air Wings One and Eighteen were brought within easy range of the China coast, Korea, Shikoku, Kyushu, and even Honshu, and were enabled to bring Japanese shipping in these waters to a virtual standstill. Okinawa, as did Iwo Jima, returned rich dividends for the investment involved in its capture by hastening the war's end.

Support of the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns, routine searches, and constant neutralizing attacks against the many islands of the Pacific still in the hands of enemy garrisons, were tasks which absorbed much of the time and effort of Army, Navy, and Marine land-based aviators throughout the Pacific, and were well coordinated with the air operations of the fast carrier task forces in the advance toward Japan.

The last night of the war saw the first and only offensive mission carried out from Okinawa against Japan by the B-29's of the recently deployed Eighth Air Force, with their target the industrial city of Kumagaya in northern Honshu.

Antisubmarine Warfare in the Pacific

By 1 March Japanese submarines had been nearly driven out of the central Pacific by our countermeasures. Only an occasional supply or reconnaissance submarine ventured into this area. Near the beginning of March Japanese submarines were encountered near Iwo Jima, and during the Okinawa campaign the Japanese made their main submarine effort around that island. After the fall of Okinawa, most of the Japanese submarines were drawn back to the homeland to aid in the defense against our expected invasion. In addition to these anti-invasion employments, the enemy was building and using a number of cargo submarines in an attempt to supply by-passed positions. A considerable number of his submarines were also employed for antisubmarine work. Our submarines made many reports of sighting hostile periscopes and torpedo wakes. A number of German U-boats continued to operate out of Penang, even after the surrender of Germany.

In the main the Japanese submarines were ineffective, and our antisubmarine measures bolstered by the advanced techniques used in the Atlantic, took heavy toll. In return we suffered very light losses, with the exception of the sinking-with heavy loss of life-of the heavy cruiser INDIANAPOLIS probably by an enemy submarine, on 30 July. In March and April antisubmarine measures executed by screening vessels by planes from land bases and carriers, and by regular hunter-killer groups, effectively checked the Japanese submarines and accounted for several kills. It is interesting to note that several of these kills were made by our own submarines. Through May, June, July, and August the Japanese put an increased underwater fleet around Okinawa and managed to cause some damage. including the sinking of a destroyer escort in July. For these operations the Japanese were building and operating large numbers of midget submarines and human torpedoes. It is believed that the destroyer escort mentioned above was sunk by ramming a human torpedo. The Japanese submarine effort was rapidly descending to the suicide level; but by the end of the war it was well under control, as the Japanese shipyards were taking heavy damage from the air and more escorts were being released from the Atlantic after the surrender of Germany.


With the reduction of Okinawa in June 1945, the campaign against the Japanese Empire was concentrated on the home islands, with intensified bombing by the Army Strategic Air Force from the Marianas, a rapid acceleration of attacks by the Okinawa-based Tactical Air Force, and far-ranging air attacks and bombardments by the Third Fleet. These operations were climaxed by the employment of the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, almost simultaneously, Russia's entry into the war to open a strong three-pronged attack on Japanese forces in Manchuria and Korea.

On 14 August Japan declared her acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Proclamation, which involved complete disarmament and surrender of all military forces and equipment as set forth by the heads of the states of Great Britain, the United States, and China. The instrument of surrender was presented to Japanese representatives by General of the Army MacArthur at Manila on 19 August 1945. This instrument provided that Commander in Chief, Army Forces, Pacific should receive the surrender of the Imperial General Headquarters, its senior commanders, and all ground, sea, air, and auxiliary forces in the main islands of Japan, minor islands adjacent thereto, Korea south of 38-00 North latitude, and the Philippines; whereas the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet was designated to receive the surrender of the senior Japanese commanders and of all ground, sea, air and auxiliary forces in the Japanese mandated islands, Ryukyus, Bonins, and other Pacific islands.

For this purpose the Third and Fifth Fleets, which had heretofore been alternative organizational titles for much the same assemblage of ships, were now each assigned approximately equal forces and became separate entities. Correlating the fleet assignments with the various zones of responsibility assigned the various Army commands, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet assigned naval responsibility to the Third Fleet for the zone of the Eighth Army (to the northward and eastward of a line crossing Honshu west of Yokohama and Tokyo); to the Fifth Fleet for the zone of the Sixth Army (the remainder of the Japanese home islands to the southward and westward of that line); to the Seventh Fleet for that of the XXIV Corps (Korea south of 38 North latitude), as well as any operations which might be carried out in Chinese waters; and to the Commander, North Pacific, local responsibility for northern Honshu and for Hokkaido.

Similarly, the three amphibious forces were coordinated with the respective fleets and armies; the Third Amphibious Force under the Commander Third Fleet for operations of the Eighth Army; the Fifth under the Commander Fifth Fleet for operations of the Sixth Army: and the Seventh under the Commander Seventh Fleet for operations of the XXIV Corps and of any troops which might require transportation to China. B-day (the date designated by Commander in Chief, Army Forces, Pacific for the initiation of operations) was proclaimed as 15 August 1945. At that time orders were issued to the U.S. Pacific Fleet and to other forces under the command of Fleet Admiral Nimitz to cease offensive operations against the Japanese. On 28 August a small force of our Army Air Force technicians landed at Atsugi Airfield, 14 miles southwest of Tokyo, to prepare the way for a subsequent air-borne landing and for the landing at the Yokosuka naval base of Marine and Navy units. Originally it had been planned that this preliminary air-borne force should land at Atsugi on the 26th, and that General of the Army MacArthur should land there personally on the 28th to discuss occupation arrangements with members of the Imperial General Staff; simultaneously, Marine and Navy units should land at the Yokosuka naval base below Tokyo, as well as at points in Sagami Bay.

The beginning of the occupation, however, was delayed 48 hours by a typhoon, which also caused postponement from 31 August until 2 September of signing of the formal instrument of surrender, a copy of which Japanese emissaries had brought back from Manila. Nevertheless, on the morning of 27 August an advanced unit of the Third Fleet, guided by a group of Japanese naval officers, harbor pilots, and interpreters, and provided with maps and charts, moved into Sagami Bay, which is just southwest of Tokyo Bay.

On 29 August Fleet Admiral Nimitz arrived from Guam to break his flag in the battleship SOUTH DAKOTA. Aboard MISSOURI Admiral Halsey, Commander Third Fleet, entered Tokyo Bay and anchored off Yokosuka naval base. The following day General of the Army MacArthur arrived at Atsugi Airfield to set up General Headquarters at Yokohama. With him came an aerial armada of troop-carrying planes. At the same time about 10,000 Marines and naval personnel landed and took possession of the Yokosuka base and neighboring fortress islands. Working toward a junction, the two forces deployed. The last day of August many American prisoners of war were freed and the area of occupation was expanded; new forces came ashore from transports, some groups reaching the outskirts of Tokyo.

The Japanese naval base of Tateyama, across the bay from Yokosuka, was occupied by Marines on 1 September, as American control spread smoothly and swiftly throughout the whole area south of the capital.

The formal surrender of the Japanese Imperial Government, the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, and all Japanese and Japanese-controlled armed forces wherever located, was signed on board the battleship MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay at 0908 on 2 September 1945. General of the Army MacArthur signed as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, and Fleet Admiral Nimitz signed as representative for the United States.

Even before the formal surrender of the Japanese government, the Japanese commander of Mille Atoll in the Marshall Islands had surrendered on 22 August aboard the destroyer escort LEVY, Mille being the first of the many Japanese island possessions to capitulate as a result of the Emperor's acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation. Nine days later, on 31 August, on board the destroyer BAGLEY, Rear Admiral F. E. M. Whiting received the surrender of Marcus Island.

The largest-scale island surrender, however, came shortly after the senior Japanese Army and Navy officers at Truk Atoll had received word of the capitulation of the Imperial government. By the act of signing the terms of the surrender, the Commander of the 31st Imperial Japanese Army committed the following islands under his control to laying down their arms and awaiting United States occupation: Truk, Wake, the Palaus, Mortlock, Mille, Ponape, Kusaie, Jaluit, Maloelap, Wotje, Enderby, Mereyton, Rota and Pagan. The affixing of the signature of the Commander of the Imperial Japanese Fourth Fleet further entailed the surrender of the Japanese Navy-controlled bases of Namorik, Nauru, and Ocean. In the case of both Army and Navy surrenders, the actual capitulation by individual islands was effected over a period of several days following; however, their submission became only a matter of time after the Truk ceremony.

It was estimated that a total of 130,000 Japanese military personnel were involved in the Truk surrender-on Truk itself a total of 49,000 military and 9,000 civilians; on Babelthuap in the Palaus, 27,000 military and 12,000 civilians; on Ponape 8,900; and additional large groups on Rota and Yap, with the remainder spread thinly throughout the Caroline and Marianas Islands. On 3 September the surrender of the Bonin Islands was received, and four days later the capitulation of 105,000 Japanese Army and Navy forces in some 60 islands of the Ryukyu group was signed at General Stilwell's Tenth Army Headquarters on Okinawa.

Five days after the formal Japanese surrender, General of the Army MacArthur entered Tokyo, and his troops raised the United States flag over the American Embassy. It was the same flag which had flown over Washington, D.C., on 7 December 1941; which had been hoisted over Rome and Berlin; and which had been flown on the battleship MISSOURI while the Japanese signed their surrender there.

Our access to the Japanese homeland gave opportunity at last for securing reliable information as to conditions there, both by our own observation and by conversation with Japanese officials who no longer had the incentive or the ability to deceive either their enemies or their own people. It was at once apparent that while the damage to their cities and production centers by strategic bombing was fully as great as photographic reconnaissance had indicated, the strangulation from our less obvious but relentlessly effective surface and submarine blockade and from our carrier-based air attacks had been a decisive factor in the enemy's collapse. Their merchant marine had been reduced to a fraction of its former size; of the few remaining ships, mostly small ones, only half were still operable. Their food situation was critical, and their remaining resources in fuel and all strategic materials were not less so. It had been known that their few remaining carriers and heavy naval vessels had been damaged, but it appeared that the fury of our carrier strikes had forced them to withdraw all but a handful of men from these ships, practically abandoning them.

Never before in the history of war had there been a more convincing example of the effectiveness of sea power than when a well-armed, highly efficient and undefeated army of over a million men surrendered their homeland unconditionally to the invader without even token resistance.

True, the devastation already wrought by past bombings, as well as the terrible demonstration of power by the first atomic bombs, augured nothing less for the Japanese than total extinction; yet without sea power there would have been no possession of Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa from which to launch these bombings. True, the Japanese homeland might have been taken by assault in one final amphibious operation of tremendous magnitude, yet without sea power such an assault could not have been attempted.

Chapter III

Logistics and Bases-Pacific

BEFORE the conclusion of the war, plans were maturing for the invasion and occupation of the main Japanese islands. Two major operations were projected: the first, with the code name of "Olympic," against southern Kyushu; after consolidation there, the next-"Coronet"-into the Tokyo plain area which is the industrial heart of Japan. The amphibious parts of these operations-involving the preparation of landing beaches by mine sweeping, underwater demolition teams, bombardment and bombing; the transportation of the assault troops; and the initial landing for the establishment of firmly held beachheads-were to have been the responsibility of Fleet Admiral Nimitz.

The large-scale bombardments and bombings of the Third Fleet that began on 10 July were actually in preparation for operation "Olympic." In mid-August, as the war ended, the United States Navy had in the Pacific 90 per cent of its combatant vessels of submarine size or larger and 42 per cent of its combatant aircraft. These ships, aircraft, support auxiliaries and landing craft included:

Battleships 23
Aircraft Carriers 26
Escort Carriers 64
Cruisers 52
Destroyers 323
Escort Vessels 298
Submarines 181
Mine Craft 160
Auxiliary Vessels 1,060
Large Landing Craft 2,783
Combat Aircraft 14,847
Transport, training and utility aircraft 1,286

All six Marine divisions, or 100 per cent of the Marine Corps combat strength, were also available for Pacific operations. The "Olympic" and "Coronet" operations as planned would have been the largest amphibious operations in history. While the Third Fleet provided strategic cover and support for the amphibious forces making the invasion, the Fifth Fleet was to have executed the amphibious phases of the invasions of Kyushu and Honshu by transporting their troops and equipment to the attack position on shore. By the application of naval force they would have established the necessary ground troops in positions favorable for further maneuvers to complete the destruction of Japanese ground forces.

In discharging its responsibilities for the amphibious phase of the Kyushu or "Olympic" operation the United States Navy would have employed 3033 combatant and noncombatant vessels of a size larger than personnel landing boats. Although the application of our sea power in its various forms proved sufficient to bring Japan to terms without the necessity of invading her home islands, the possibility of invasion on the scale contemplated indicates the amazing progress in matters of supply and support that had been made in less than four years of war.

In this evolution advance bases have played a vital role. The 1940 Navy had no properly equipped advance bases other than Pearl Harbor. More than 400 have since been established in the Atlantic and Pacific areas in order to maintain the fleet and air forces in the forward areas where there was fighting to be done. As we progressed across the Pacific, islands captured in one amphibious operation were converted into bases which became spring boards for the next advance. These bases were set up for various purposes depending upon the next operation. At first they were mainly air bases for the support of bombers and for the use of protective fighters. This gradually changed to the establishment of staging bases for the anchoring, fueling and refitting of armadas of transports and cargo ships, and for replenishing mobile support squadrons which actually accompanied the combat forces and serviced them at sea. Further advances made necessary the development of repair and refitting bases for large amphibious forces. As we progressed further and further across the Pacific, it became necessary to set up main repair bases for the maintenance, repair and servicing of larger fleet units. The first of such large bases was set up at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides and was followed by a main repair base at Manus in the Admiralty Islands. It was then determined that so long as ships were in condition to function in the battle line, minor battle damage and derangements should be rectified in the forward area, thus eliminating the necessity of returning ships to continental bases or even to the Hawaiian Islands.

These conditions were recognized and steps were taken to support the entire fleet in the Marianas, Philippines and Okinawa areas. A very large base, capable of supporting one third of the Pacific Fleet, was set up at Guam; another large base was established at Leyte-Samar; a third was in process of construction at Okinawa when the war ended. Each of these bases was designed to dock ships of various sizes, some being able to take ships of the heaviest tonnage. All of the bases could repair major battle damage to hull and equipment. Facilities were established ashore with piers, roads and machine shops, in large measure duplicating the type of facilities found at any of our navy yards. There was also provided the replenishment storage necessary to restock every type of vessel with fuel, ammunition and consumable supplies as well as food. The stocks currently on hand at Guam would have filled a train 120 miles long. The magnitude of the fuel supply alone is indicated by the total of 25,026,000 barrels of bulk fuel which was shipped to the Pacific in June 1945 for military purposes. At Guam alone one million gallons of aviation gas were used daily. As these bases were gradually pushed forward, assault forces were brought two to five days steaming nearer the enemy. By proper selection of the strategic points necessary to accomplish the advance, we were able to by-pass and ignore many bases established by the Japanese which they could no longer use because their loss of command of the sea.

But for this chain of advance bases the fleet could not have operated in the western reaches of the Pacific without the necessity for many more ships and planes than it actually had. A base to supply or repair a fleet 5000 miles closer to the enemy multiplies the power which can be maintained constantly against him and greatly lessens the problems of supply and repair. The scope of the advance base program is indicated by the fact that the personnel assigned directly to it aggregated almost one fifth of the entire personnel of the Navy-over half a million men, including almost 200,000 Seabees. In the concluding months of the war 82 per cent of the Seabees were in the Pacific, the vast majority of them at work on bases. In the Naval Supply Depot at Guam there were 93 miles of road. At Okinawa alone there were more than fifty naval construction battalions building roads, supply areas, airfields and fleet facilities for what would have been one of the gigantic staging areas for the final invasion of Japan

In the period covered by this report almost two million measurement tons of materiel were shipped in connection with the advance base program.

An essential element in the facilities of our advance bases were floating drydocks, which were capable of receiving vessels ranging from small craft to the battleship MISSOURI. One hundred fifty two of these docks were produced. They proved their special value in the speed with which damaged ships could be returned to combat.

As our advance came nearer to the Japanese islands, the rear areas which had been the scene of combat operations in earlier months were utilized for logistic support. In the South Pacific, for example, more than 400 ships were staged for the Okinawa operation. They received varied replenishment services, including routine and emergency overhaul as required. Approximately 100,000 officers and men were staged from this area alone for the Okinawa campaign, including four Army and Marine combat divisions plus certain headquarters and corps troops and various Army and Navy service units. Concurrently with the movement of troops large quantities of combat equipment and necessary material were transferred forward, thus contributing automatically to the roll-up of the South Pacific area. Similarly in the Southwest Pacific area Army service troops were moved with their equipment from the New Guinea area to the Philippines in order to prepare staging facilities for troops deployed from the European Theater. The roll-up was similarly continued and progress made in reducing our installations in Australia and New Guinea.

This vast deployment of our forces throughout the Pacific required careful planning not only at the front but also in the United States. During the last six months of the war the problem of materiel distribution became of primary importance, and throughout this period our system of logistic support had to be constantly modified to meet the rapidly changing tactical conditions. War production had shifted the emphasis from procurement to distribution; that is, while production was still of high importance, a still greater problem was that of getting well balanced materiel support to designated positions at certain fixed times. Put another way, motion, not size, had become the important factor. It was, nevertheless, essential in insuring the uninterrupted flow of material through the pipe-line of supply to our forces overseas that the reservoir within the United States which kept these pipe-lines full did not become too large. On 1 June 1945 a set of standards for Navy inventory control was promulgated which stressed a balance between procurement and inventory. The attainment of these standards was of primary importance to efficient distribution of materiel within the United States, and particularly on the west coast, which was our major base for the logistic support of the Pacific Fleet.

It has always been a cardinal principle of our Pacific logistic support policy that the west coast be utilized to its maximum capacity. There are two reasons for this: the source of supply must be as close to the point of requirement as possible so that inventories at advance bases may be kept to a minimum; secondly, greater utilization of shipping can be achieved by the shortest haul possible. The integration of these two elements, supply and shipping, was a major task in 1945.

When the collapse of Germany was imminent, a review in conjunction with the Army of our policy of maximum west coast utilization was necessary. It was concluded that approximately 68 per cent of the Navy's predicted logistic requirements would have to be moved from the west coast to bases in the Marianas, Philippines and Okinawa, as well as to the mobile logistic support forces-Service Squadrons Six and Ten. Bases in the Admiralties, New Guinea, and the Hawaiian Sea Frontier, since they were in nonoperational areas, could be supported from the east and Gulf coasts. In May, after a joint Army-Navy study, a ceiling was set on the amount of materiel which could be shipped to the Pacific from the west coast by the Army and Navy; this ceiling was based on the estimated capacity of the six major west coast ports. By detailed study of the capacities of port facilities and supply activities, as well as a complete analysis of the types of commodities shipped by the Navy since the first of the year, Commander, Western Sea Frontier (who coordinated naval logistic matters on the west coast) reallocated the Navy's share of west coast capacity among the various ports. Estimated tonnages were set for each port, both by types of commodity and by overseas destination to be served.

In the establishment and execution of this planned employment of west coast facilities, Commander, Western Sea Frontier provided one of the major links between the distribution systems of the continental United States and Pacific Theater. Since the flow of materiel and the ships to carry it are immobilized when more ships have sailed to a destination than that destination can receive, the planned employment of west coast ports was a matter of vital concern.

This was facilitated by the expansion of the functions of the Western Sea Frontier which had taken place in November 1944 when the necessity for coastal defense had assumed relatively minor proportions. The expansion of function included placing every major activity of the three west coast naval districts under a single command, with a view to coordinating all essential matters of materiel and personnel and to eliminating activities within the Western Sea Frontier which did not contribute to the major effort.

While defensive operations became secondary, the responsibility of the Western Sea Frontier to regulate the movement of ships and aircraft through frontier waters was greatly increased. The eastern Pacific had become a network of channels for the passage of traffic to the forward areas. These channels were the most heavily traveled military highways on and above the sea. In the period covered by this report there were over 17,000 sailings of vessels large and small through the six million square miles of Western Sea Frontier waters. In the same period an average of one aircraft arrived on or departed from the west coast each fifteen minutes on the longest over-water flight lane in the world.

The substantial increase in the level of Navy materiel movement which occurred between March and July 1945 fully justified the planning for an increased west coast load which had been undertaken. Total exports, excluding aircraft, from May through July showed a 25 per cent increase over March and April shipments. Items used in the construction of new bases doubled during May and July as compared with March and April. Ammunition shipments doubled, because of the considerable expenditures during the Okinawa campaign (where 50,000 tons of 5-inch to 16-inch projectiles were fired by surface ships) and the necessity for building up a reserve for the assault upon Japan.

By the vast system thus developed the great concluding operations in the Pacific were supported. Each month in the immediate past we shipped out 600,000 long tons a month into the Pacific Ocean areas. The momentum generated by this materiel operation can be imagined. The problem presented by the deceleration of this great tide of supply after V-J day can also be imagined.

The following steps taken in the days immediately after the surrender of Japan indicate the effort the Navy has made to reduce its logistic energy as rapidly as possible without damage either to the domestic economy or to the support of fleet elements still at sea. All shipments of ammunition and of advance base components were stopped except those required for occupational purposes and those specifically requested by the fleet commanders as necessary for further operations. Maintenance materiel movements overseas were subjected to careful review and reduction. Stock levels at overseas bases of provisions, clothing, equipment, medical needs, aviation requirements and spare parts items were reduced to a thirty-day minimum and a sixty-day maximum. Orders prepared in advance canceling procurement of materials were mailed in tremendous volume from the Navy Department on the night of 14 August. All continental public works construction projects, including those actually under construction and those on which it was possible to begin construction, were carefully reviewed-projects which were not required for demobilization purposes or postwar purposes were canceled.

Chapter IV

Submarine Operations

SUBMARINE warfare was an important factor in the defeat of the Japanese. With the end of hostilities, it is now possible to reveal in greater detail the splendid accomplishments of the submarines of the Pacific Fleet and the Seventh Fleet. Our submarines are credited with almost two thirds of the total tonnage of Japanese merchant marine losses, or a greater part than all other forces, surface and air, Army and Navy combined. (See Plate 18.) Of the total number of Japanese naval vessels sunk, our submarines are credited with almost one third.


Our submarines, operating thousands of miles from their bases and deep within enemy-controlled waters, began their campaign of attrition on Japanese shipping immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and continued to fight with telling effectiveness until the Japanese capitulated. During the early part of 1942, while our surface forces were still weakened by the Japanese initial attack of 7 December 1941, submarines were virtually the only United States naval forces which could be risked in offensive operations. Although the number of submarines available at the start was so small that the 1500 ton fleet-

type class was augmented by older types, submarine attacks produced immediate and damaging results, which were greatly needed at the time. They made it more difficult for the enemy to consolidate his forward positions, to reinforce his threatened areas, and to pile up in Japan an adequate reserve of fuel oil, rubber, and other loot from his newly conquered territory. Their operations thus hastened our ultimate victory and resulted in the saving of American lives.

Sinking of enemy merchant ships rose from 134 ships totaling 580,390 tons in 1942 to 284 ships totaling 1,341,968 tons in 1943. Then in 1944, when submarine coordinated attack groups reached the peak of their effectiveness, the merchant fleet of Japan suffered its worst and most crippling blow-492 ships of 2,387,780 tons were sunk or destroyed in submarine torpedo and gun attacks. The figures given above, which are based on evaluated estimates, include only ships of 1000 tons and larger. It should be borne in mind that our submarines sank or destroyed, chiefly by gunfire, large numbers of smaller vessels, particularly during the latter part of the war, when few large enemy ships still remained afloat.

In 1945, because of the tremendous attrition on Japanese shipping by our earlier submarine operations and the destructive sweeps by our fleets and carrier air forces, enemy merchantmen sunk by submarines dropped to 132 ships totaling 469,872 tons. The advance of our forces had further driven Japanese ships back to the coast lines and shallow waters of Japan and the Asiatic mainland. Our submarines followed the enemy shipping into these dangerous waters and made many skillful and daring attacks, such as the one in April when TIRANTE entered a patrolled anchorage in Quelpart Island to blow up a 10,000 ton tanker and two 1,500 ton escort vessels, which were peacefully lying at anchor. Further south, persistent submarine patrolling plus air sweeps had, by the end of March, stopped almost all enemy traffic along the sea lanes of the East Indies and the coast of Indo-China.

For a time, Japanese shipping continued to ply in the East China and Yellow Seas, but the invasion of Okinawa in April soon made the East China Sea untenable to the Japanese. Causing heavy damage, our submarines were very active during April and May in the Yellow Sea and along the east and south coasts of the main Japanese islands. In June the landlocked Sea of Japan was penetrated in force. The submarines had excellent hunting, and in a series of coordinated attacks did tremendous damage to the remnants of the Japanese merchant fleet. One of the intruders, BARB even landed a party on the coast of Honshu, and successfully blew up a bridge and the speeding train that was crossing it. By the end of the war, the Japanese merchant fleet was virtually nonexistent.


While United States submarines were effectively eliminating the Japanese merchant fleet, they were also carrying out damaging attacks on Japanese naval units. During the course of the war, the following principal Japanese combatant types were sent to the bottom as a result of these attacks:

Details of these sinkings will be found in Appendix A. While the loss of the heavier naval units was critical to the Japanese, especially as the strength of our surface fleet increased, the surprisingly high losses of enemy destroyers and escort vessels to submarine attack are particularly noteworthy. Our submarines, refusing to accept the role of the hunted, even after their presence was known, frequently attacked their archenemies under circumstances of such great risk that the failure of their attack on the enemy antisubmarine vessel placed the submarine in extreme danger of loss. So successful, however, were these attacks that the Japanese developed a dangerous deficiency of destroyer screening units in their naval task forces, and their merchant shipping was often inadequately escorted.


Among the special missions performed by submarines were reconnaissance, rescue, supply and lifeguard duties. An outstanding result of effective submarine reconnaissance was the vital advance information furnished our surface and air forces prior to the Battle for Leyte Gulf, information which contributed materially to that victory. Our submarines in a number of instances rescued stranded personnel and performed personnel evacuation duties, notably from Corregidor. The supplies and equipment delivered by submarines to friendly guerrilla forces in the Philippines did much to keep alive the spirit of resistance in those islands.

When our air forces came into positions from which they could intensify their attacks on Japanese-held territory, United States submarines were called upon to carry out lifeguard operations to rescue aviators forced down at sea in enemy waters. Sometimes assisted by friendly aircraft, which provided fighter cover and assisted in locating survivors, and sometimes operating alone, our submarines rescued more than 500 aviators during the course of the war.

Fifty-two United States submarines were lost from all causes during the war, forty-six due to enemy action, six due to accidents and stranding. These losses were due to continued penetration deep within the enemy zone of defense, far from our bases, and, until the last phase of the war, far beyond the areas where our surface ships and aircraft could operate. Because of the nature of submarine operations and the general necessity of submarines operating alone, the personnel loss in most instances was the entire ship's company. As heavy as were the losses in submarine personnel and equipment, submarine training and building programs supplied replacements so effectively that our submarine force at the end of the war far exceeded its pre-Pearl Harbor strength-and was the most powerful and effective in the world. The Japanese capitulation found our submarines on station searching for the remnants of the Japanese Navy and merchant marine, and on the alert to rescue downed aviators off the coast of Japan.

Submarines of the Pacific Fleet have been commanded by Vice Admiral C. A. Lockwood, Jr., since February 1943. Rear Admiral James Fife, Jr., has commanded the Seventh Fleet submarines, including a number of British and Dutch submarines, since December 1944.

No account of submarine warfare in the Pacific would be complete without mention of the splendid contribution of the submarines of our Allies. These craft, operating in the southwest Pacific, contributed materially to the destruction of Japanese naval and merchant shipping, and inflicted losses over and above those previously listed.