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   A Brief Report to Jog your Memory

  THE FORGOTTEN NAVY EXPEDITION OF WORLD WAR II

   SINKING OF THE YORKTOWN

  SECOND BATTLE OF THE SOLOMON SEA  

Balch History: Page 2

  

 

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With special thanks to S. Hugo Blomgren, CQM,

For providing all History materials used on this page, for the histories of the

USS Balch DD 363 

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USS Balch DD 363

1933 - 1945

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A Brief Report to Jog your Memory

Compiled from information provided by the Naval Historical center of the National Archives, Washington D.C. which was made possible through the efforts of Senator Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota

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From: DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL FIGHTING SHIPS, Vol. I, pp. 87.

USS Balch DD 363

Born in Shelbyville, Tenn., 3 January 1821, George Beall Balch was appointed Acting Midshipman in 1837. He served in the Mexican War and was executive officer of Plymouth during Commodore M. C. Perry's expedition to Japan. During the Civil War he took part in many engagements. Rear Admiral Balch served as superintendent of the Naval Academy (1879-81) and for a short period commanded the Pacific Fleet. He retired in January 1883 and died 16 April 1908 at Raleigh, N. C.

II

(DD-363: dp. 1825; l. 381'1"; b. 36'11", dr. 17'9"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 294; a. 8 5", 12 21" TT.; cl. Porter)

The second Balch -(DD-363) was launched 24 March 1936 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy, Mass.; sponsored by Miss Gertrude Balch, granddaughter of Admiral Balch, and commissioned 20 October 1936, Commander T. C. Latimore in command.

After her commissioning Balch operated for a period under the Chief of Naval Operations. She departed Newport R. I., for the Pacific in October 1937 and, upon arrival at San Diego she joined Destroyer Division 7, Battle Force. Thereafter as flagship of Destroyer squadron 12, and later of Destroyer Squadron 6, she participated in fleet training, cruises, and battle problems in the Pacific and Haitian-Caribbean area. After participating in Fleet Problem XXI at Pearl Harbor, Balch steamed to Mare Island Navy Yard where she underwent a yard period in the spring of 1940. Upon the completion of her yard period she made six cruises alternately between the Hawaiian Islands and the west coast (August 1941} December 1941).

On 1 December 1941 Balch put to sea as a unit of TF 8 and remained with the Task Force after the Pearl Harbor attack. She cruised in the Pacific during the early months of the war and participated in the bombardment of Taroa Island, Marshall Islands (1 February 1942). Between February 1942 and June 1944 Balch performed widespread screening, patrolling, and fire support duties during the Wake Island raid (24 February 1942); the decisive Battle of Midway (4-7 June), during which she rescued 545 survivors of Yorktown (CV-5) Guadalcanal landings (7-30 August); Attu invasion (11 May-2 June 1943 ; Toem-Wakde-Sarmi landings (25-28 May 1944); and Biak Island invasion (28 May-18 June).

On 15 July 1944 Balch arrived at New York. Between 2 August 1944 and 23 May 1945 she completed five trans-Atlantic convoy escort crossings to various North African ports. On 16 June 1945 she commenced her pre-inactivation overhaul at Philadelphia; was decommissioned 19 October 1945 and scrapped in 1946.

Balch received six battle stars for her Pacific service during World War II.

U.S.S. BALCH DD 363 - A VERY BRIEF REPORT

FORWARD

            History is a fascinating subject. Especially if the events and places become of historical value because you were there and had some small part in making it happen. Historians today and in the years to come may not consider the contributions of the U.S.S. Balch DD 363 worth recording in the broader story of World War II. However,even though as only a very small cog in the huge war machine of the 1940's, the  Balch served well and did the thankless job it was designed and built to do. And, she did it well and proudly.

            Those of us who served on this guardian of the fleet, this greyhound of the sea, one of the expendables, did so with pride, loyalty, dedication and a comradeship as "Tin Can Sailors" not found anywhere else in the fleet. The Balch was our home and the men of the Balch our family. We were trained to be the fine tuned instrument that the responded instantly and correctly to each order given - whether in battle or some daily task. We came from all walks of life. Different ages. Different occupations. Different nationalities. But we all had one goal in mind - to win the war, stay alive, do our very best and get the job done so we could go home!

           Not one officer or crew member who put the Balch into commission in 1936 was aboard at the decommissioning in Philadelphia on 19 October 1945. Yet every man who served in peace or war, will never forget their shipmates, adventures and experiences on the U.S.S. Balch DD 363 !!!!!!   

                                                                                                        S. Hugo Blomgren, CQM

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U.S.S. BALCH DD363

    The U.S.S. BALCH DD363 was the second destroyer so named. The first was the U.S.S. Balch DD50 which served in World War I and after. The ship was named for RADM George Beal Balch, USN 1821-1908 who served the navy and his country with distinction.

    DD363 was authorized for construction by Acts of Congress of 11 July, 1919 and also by Acts of 1916 and 1918. The builder was the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation of Fore River, Quincy, Massachusetts and was built at a cost of $3,7839500.

    On 3 August, 1933 the contract was signed but it wasn't until 16 May 1934 that the keel was laid. At this time the' ship's number was changed from DD356 to DD363.

    The Balch was launched on 24 March, 1936. Miss Gertrude Balch was the sponsor and started the ship down the way with the proverbial bottle of Champaign across the bow after she had christened her the U.S.S. Balch DD363.

    All work by the shipyard was completed on 6 October) 1936. The ship was accepted by the navy and first commissioned on 20 October, 1936.

    Although the Balch was given a date when she would be overage (5 October, 1953), it was decommissioned on 22 October, 1945 in the Philadelphia Navy Yard while undergoing a complete overhaul. on 1 November, 1945 the U.S.S. Balch DD363 was stricken from the Navy Register and designated for scrapping which was completed on 29 March, 1946. It was then entered on the Decommissed Status Sheet on 27 August, 1946.

LAUNCHED  March 24,1936

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STATISTICAL DATA

Length over all

381 ft. 1 inch

Length, water line at standard displacement

371'

Extreme beam, water line standard displacement

36 ft. 2 inches

Draft at standard displacement

10 ft. 4 inches

Standard displacement

1825 tons

Trial displacement

2132 tons (est)

Designated speed

35 plus knots

Tons per inch immersion service conditions

24 tons

Maximum draft service conditions

16 1/2

Smoke pipes, Number.

2

Masts,

# of - 2

Propellers

# of - 2

Fuel capacity, normal

644 tons

Boilers

# of - 4

Boilers, type

Express

Turbogenerator sets

# of - 2 and 2

Turbogenerator sets, type

2 Turbo and 2 Diesel

Turbogenerator sets

D.C. or A.C. - A.C

Armament

5" (max.) 8 - 5"  38 cal., 2 Quad T.T.

Compliment

16 officers, 278 crew

Quarters, officers

2 cabins, 11 wardroom

Quarters

CPO - 14

Contract price

$3,783,500.00

Date of Act

29 August, 1916

Contract signed

3 August, 1933

Keel laid

16 May, 1934

Sponsor

Miss Gertrude Balch

Launched

24 March, 1936

Contract date of completion

6 October, 1936

Preliminary acceptance

20 October, 1936

First commission

20 October, 1936

Date of completion  20 October, 1936

Date over age 5 October, 1953

Decommissioned 19 October, 1945 (Records show the 22nd also as the decommissioning date. However, as the 19th is mentioned more than once, we assume that this is the correct date.)

Stricken from the Navy Register - 1 November, 1945

Scrapped - 29 March, 1946

Decommissioned Status Sheet - 27 August, 1946

 

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The Scraping of the USS BALCH DD 363

CRUISES OF U.S.S. BALCH DD 363

From Commissioning to Decommissioning

After acceptance by the navy, the Balch operated for a time under the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) before departing Newport, Rhode Island, for San Diego, California in October, 1937. Thereafter she operated with the Fleet assigned to Destroyer Division Seven (DesDiv 7), Destroyers, Battle Force, in problems held at Hawaii in the spring of 1938 and again in 1940. She served as Flagship of Destroyer Squadron twelve (Des:Ron 12), Battle Force, U.S. Fleet, and, after a cruise in the Canal Zone, Haitian-Caribbean Area, she became Flagship of Destroyer Squadron Six (DesRon 6), tattle Force, based in San Diego, California. After participating in Fleet Problem XXI at Pearl Harbor, T.H. in the spring of 1940, Balch returned to Mare Island Navy Yard, California. Upon completion of work at Mare Island Navy Yard, she participated in exercises in the Hawaiian Operating Area, Pearl Harbor, T.H., and the West Coast. From 1 December, 1941 the Balch was at sea continuously on special mission in company with Task Force 8 until war commenced on 7 December, 1941.

 

The following are the dates and places in chronological order as provided by the Naval Historical Center of the National Archives in Washington, D.C.:

 

1940

6 December - Pearl Harbor, T.H.

 

1941

21.May - San Diego, California

1 June - 22 July - Mare Island Navy Yard, California

2 August - Pearl Harbor, T.H. (via Long Beach, California)

5 August - Flag, Destroyer Squadron Six (DesRon 6)

 

1942

5 February - Pearl Harbor, T.H.

21 February (est) - Wake Area, Wake Island 11 March - Pearl Harbor, T.H.

8 April - With Task Force 16

18 April - Off Tokyo, Japan

25 April - Pearl Harbor, T.H.

30 April - With Task Force 16

26 May  - Pearl Harbor, T.H.

15 July - With Task Force 16

26 August - Roses Area (Coral Sea

28 August - With Task Force 16

31 August - Tongatabu, Tonga Islands

10 September - Pearl Harbor, T.H.

12 November -With Task Force 11

15 December - Noumea, New Calidonia

30 December - Noumea, New Calidonia

1943

12 January - Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides

17 January - Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands  23 January - Noumea, New Caledonia  30 January - Suva, Fiji Islands  3 February - With Task Force 64 11 February - Noumea, New Caledonia  19 February - With Task Force 64   9 March - Noumea, New Caledonia  5 April - Efate, New Hebrides 7 April With Task Group 52. 10 - 18 April - Pearl Harbor, T.H. 23  April - Adak, Aleutian Islands   26 April - With Task Group 16.7  28 April - West of Attu, Aleutian Islands 3 May - Adak, Aleutian Islands 6 May - With Task Group 16.7 19 May - Adak, Aleutian Islands 28 June - San Francisco, California 8 September - Pearl Harbor, T.H. 25 September - Noumea, New Calidohia I November - Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides 8 November - Tulagi, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands 19 November - Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides 21 November - Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands 23 November - Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides

1944

8 January - Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides 13 January - Noumea, New Caledonia ' 18 March -                    Guadalcanal Area Solomon Islands 20 March - Emirau (2) 1 April - Emirau Atoll 4 April -                    Purvis (2) 23;April - Efate, New Hebrides

28 April - Sydney, Australia

10 May - Efate, New Hebrides

13 May - Milne Bay$ New Guinea

17 May - wakde Landing, New Guinea

19 May - New Guinea Area

27 May - Biak Landing, Schouten Islands

8 June - With Warrington 11 June - Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Islands 18 June - Espiritu Santo, New                Hebrides 28 June - Bora Bora, Society Islands 8 July - Canal Zone, Panama

15 July - New York, New York

1 August - Hampton Roads, Virginia

22 August - Bizerte, Tunisia

18 September - New York, New York 24 September - Boston, Massachusetts

7 October - Hampton Roads, Virginia

31 October - Bizerte, Tunisia

5 November - Oran, Algeria

11 November - Passing Gibralter

30 November - New York, New York

12 December - Boston, Massachusetts

13 December - New London, Connecticut

16 December - Hampton Roads, Virginia

1945

5 January - Oran, Algeria

24 January - New York, New York

5 February - Montauk Point, Long Island, New York

8 February - Hampton Roads, Virginia

1 March - Oran, Algeria

23 March - New York, New York

5 April - East of Montauk Point, Long Island, New York

10 April - Hampton Roads, Virginia 29 April - Oran, Algeria

22 May - New York, New York

15 June - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Decommissioned)

I hope this information, dates and places will jog some memories of special interest to you such as liberties, storms, battles, names of other ships we operated with (i.e. the three battle ships to Sydney), friendships with other members of the crew, humorous incidents or bad (i.e. reduction gear job in the South Pacific) and anything else you might deem to be of importance to you and others. Also pictures if you know who is on them and where taken. Write the information on a piece of paper and tape to the back. DO NOT WRITE ON the picture either the front or the back. All pictures will be returned after making duplicates. Unless it is a duplicate that you send. It has long been a goal of mine to write the story of the Balch and I have been informed by the National Archives that next year I can get the ship's logs and War Diary on microfiche, Time is running out for all of us so it is imperative that whatever information you can furnish, it be done as soon as possible. Thanks to all of you and may you have a fair wind and smooth sailing!

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THE FORGOTTEN NAVY EXPEDITION OF WORLD WAR II

by Shipmate Bert Whited, Granite State Branch 338

    After the 7 December 1942 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, American land and sea forces suffered major set-backs through-out the Pacific. As losses mounted, the American public's morale was at a very low tide. Secretly, President Roosevelt authorized an extremely dangerous and sacrificial mission to retaliate against the Japanese. This Expeditionary Mission was to bomb major industrial targets in Tokyo and in other large Japanese cities. An action of this kind was most desirable at that time due to the psychyological impact it would have on the American public, our allies and the enemy.

    To accomplish this heroic feat, the aircraft carrier USS HORNET (CV-8) on 2 February 1942, experimented in successfully launching two Army Air Force B-25 bombers from its flight deck in the Atlantic off Norfolk, Virginia. In late February 1942, she sailed for the Panama Canal to join the Pacific Fleet. After a short stop at San Diego, California, she proceeded to the Alameda Naval Air Station in San Francisco Bay. On 1 April 1942, 16 Army B-25 bombers were towed to the dock alongside the HORNET and hoisted aboard. The crew assumed they were ferrying the bombers to Hawaii or some other South Pacific island.

    On 2 April 1942 the HORNET sailed under sealed orders with its screen of Cruisers and Destroyers. We were all fully aware of the ship's vulnerability. The B-25's occupied more than half the flight dock preventing use of the elevators to get any of our planes up to the flightdeck. That afternoon Captain Marc A. Mitscher, over the loudspeaker system, revealed our destination - that we were going to span the Pacific Ocean, over 5000 miles, to take Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle's bombers and crews to within striking distance of Tokyo. The HORNET's job was to get the bombers to within 400 miles of Japan, then streak from there as fast as her four, peak-driven propellers, could take her. After the bull-hom squawked off, and a moment of stunned silence, wild rebel yells resounded throughout the ship. Thrilled signalmen sent the word from ship to ship in the escort, where echoing cheers rang out. The Task Force crews were told, that if our mission were successful, we would be awarded the Navy Expeditionary Force Medal for this morale building expedition.

    On the morning of 13 April 1942, came a welcome sight. It was the USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) and her screen of ships, sent to escort the HORNET on the last leg of her mad dash to Japan. The renewed presence of patrol planes overhead served to abate some of our tension. The combined Navy Task Groups 16.1 and 16.2 were forged into Task Force 16 and was comprised of the following ships.

TASK FORCE 16

Task Group 16.1

Task Group 16.2

 

CARRIERS:

USS Enterprise

CRUISERS:

USS Vincennes   USS Nashville

DESTROYERS:

USS Gwin ~   USS Grayson

USS Monsson ~    USS Meredith

OILERS:

USS Cimarron

 

CARRIERS:

USS Hornet

CRUISERS:

USS Northampton ~ USS Salt Lake City

DESTROYERS:

USS Balch ~USS Benham

USS Eilet ~ USS Fanning

OILERS:

USS Sabine

 

    The submarines USS Thresher and USS Trout were operating off the Japanese coast, watching for enemy fleet movements and to report weather conditions. On 17 April, the fleet crossed the 180th Meridian, in a latitude considerably higher than Tokyo and following the same route the Japanese took to bomb Pearl Harbor. At 1400 that day we heard 'Tokyo Rose' speaking from the Japanese Radio Station JOAK. She was telling her listeners why it was impossible that Tokyo would ever be bombed.

    It was an ever present fear throughout the dash west - that we would be sighted by an enemy ship or patrol plane that would radio in an alarrn, warning the Japanese of our coming. At 0210  on the 18th, we picked up two blips on radar showing enemy ships dead ahead. The force altered course to avoid them, and at dawn reconnaissance planes were launched from the ENTERPRISE. At 5 am the ENTERPRISE pilots reported a picket boat 42 miles ahead, and an hour later a third vessel was sighted visually from the HORNET. Within ten minutes, cruisers and dive bombers were blasting them from the water, but there could be no assurance that they had not successfully sounded a warning. We were still 550 nautical miles from our intended launching spot, 150 miles further away than desired. It was originally planned to fly the planes off in the afternoon of the 19th which would permit the pilots to bomb at night, after which they would seek out forewarned but unfamiliar landing sites in Free China in the daylight the next morning. As many months of planning had been put into this mission, it could not be abandoned this close to success.

    Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle conferred with Admiral Bull Halsey and they decided to launch the aircraft as soon as possible. Gasoline tanks were topped off and extra fuel in five gallon cans were stowed aboard each plane, as every ounce of fuel was needed to help the fliers reach their destination.

    At 0700  came the call,"Army Pilots man your planes', and the twin-engine, fully loaded bombers, cranked up their engines with an ear-splitting roar. The spread of the bombers' wings left only four feet of clearance between the right wing tip of the bombers and the carrier island structure. The slightest veering from a white line painted down the flight deck would end in disaster. The wind and seas were so strong that sea water was breaking over the HORNETS flight deck. Doolittle, in the first plane to be launched, charged off the deck at 0824 on his way to Tokyo. The Flight Deck Launching Officer had to time each takeoff to coincide with the rise and fall of the bow to give the planes as much of a boost as possible as it left the flightdeck. All planes were airborne by 0920 and the operation was marred by only two unfortunate mishaps -a sailor in the flight deck handling crew lost his arm when struck by a propeller, and a B-25 smashed a plexiglass nose cone when it rammed the tail of the bomber ahead of it.

    Tokyo had been alerted for a large air raid with Japanese planes conducting a mock air raid. The real raid by the American planes followed so closely that the Japanese public never knew of our attack until it was over. No air raid sirens sounded for at least 15 to 20 minutes after the Doolittle Raiders were over the cities. The actual damage inflicted by our bombers was not great by later bombing standards, but the Japanese officials had a difficult time explaining how such an attack could happen and they suffered considerable 'loss of face". The news of the attack on Tokyo gave a great boost to American and allied morale.

    None of our bombers were lost over Japan; one landed in Russia; fifteen others in China. Seventy-one of the 80 pilots and crewmen, including Doolittle, survived the raid. One crewman was killed when he bailed out; two were killed in crash landings; five were interned in Russia; eight were captured by the Japanese and the rest managed to reach Free China and safety. Of the eight that were captured, three were executed; one died; and four were freed at war's end.

    Our part in this spectacular raid discharged, the carriers HORNET and ENTERPRISE with their task force ships reversed course and made tracks for safer waters. Admiral Halsey made good our retreat without molestation, even though the Japanese launched both planes and ships in pursuit. Within three hours, the combat air patrols from both carriers attacked 16 enemy surface ships sinking several of them, one surrendering to the Light Cruiser USS NASHVILLE and its crew taken prisoner.

    During this extremely dangerous undertaking, the crews of the Joint Task Force Ships knew that to successfully complete this mission, they would if necessary, be sacrificed. Again the crews of the ships in Task Force 16 were told they would be awarded the NAVY EXPEDITIONARY FORCE MEDAL for this heroic endeavor, and to this day this medal has not been authorized.

    The HORNET was only one year and six days old when she was lost, but she took her toll of enemy ships during her short life span, earning four Battle Stars. After returning from the Doolittle mission, she sailed to join the Battle of Coral Sea, but did not arrive in time for action. She did participate in the Battle of Midway, losing her entire Torpedo Squadron Eight, VT-8. She was with the USS WASP (CV-7) in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific when the WASP was sunk. By October 1942, the ENTERPRISE (bomb damaged in early August), the USS SAGATOGA (CV-3) (torpedo damaged on August 31st.) were back for repairs. The HORNET was for a short time, the only serviceable aircraft carrier in the Pacific Fleet, carrying out bombing raids on Japanese installations in the South Pacific Islands. By 15 October 1942, in ten months of flight deck operations, the HORNET had registered 6,619 landings.

    On 18 October 1942, TASK FORCE 17 (USS HOR-NET CV-8) was once again joined by TASK FORCE 16 (USS ENTERPRISE CV-6), together to make up TASK FORCE 6 1. On 24 October this combined group moved east of the Santa Cruz Islands to intercept the Japanese Combined Fleet steaming south to reinforce their land forces on Guadalcanal. Task Force 16, under Rear Admiral Kincaid, was comprised of the aircraft carrier ENTERPRISE, one battleship, two cruisers and eight destroyers. Task Force 17 under Rear Admiral Murray, was comprised of the aircraft carrier HORNET, four cruisers and six destroyers. Squadrons of this combined TASK FORCE 61 engaged the enemy in one of the most critical battles of the war.

    Because of the HORNET's involvement in the Doolittle Raids, she became the focal point of all the fury of the attacking Japanese aircraft. At 09:10 enemy VAL dive bombers and KATE torpedo planes attacked the HORNET through a curtain of F4F's and anti-a rcraft fire. The HORNET took the first bomb hit on the starboard side of the flight deck aft and suffered two near misses off the starboard bow. At 0913 the Japanese squadron commander, his VAL damaged by a shelf burst, crashed his plane into the HORNET, slicing off the signal bridge, glancing off the stack and on through the flight deck. He was carrying one 500 pound and two 100 pound bombs. The first 100 pounder detonated on impact with the stack and signal bridge, killing most of the signalmen; the other went off as it passed through a ready room below the flight deck, while the 500 pounder was a dud and was secured to the bulkhead to keep it from rolling around and possibly going off.

    Next, two torpedoes exploded in the engineering spaces, knocking out our boilers and rupturing our rudder at an angle, making it more difficult to be towed. Three more 500 pound bombs struck, one detonated on impact with the flight deck, killing most of the Marine detachment manning a I -I gun mount aft of the island superstructure and most of the sailors manning the twenty mm anti-aircraft gun spaced on the catwalk around the flight deck. The other two penetrated to the fourth deck before exploding and knocking out our generator rooms, causing us to lose all electrical power. This disabled our fire water pumps so we could not effectively fight fires. A Kate made a suicide run at 0917 into the port forward gun gallery coming to rest in the forward elevator pit.

    Only after the HORNET became disabled did the Japanese turn to attack the rest of our Task Force ship's. The HORNET, during the many attacks by enemy carrier and land based aircraft, hit by several bombs, torpedoes, and crashing Japanese Kamikaze aircraft lay dead in the water. Herculean efforts were made aboard the HORNET to save her. After hours of exhaust-ing fire fighting, with bucket brigades and fire hoses assed from destroyers alongside, the fires and flooding were brought I under control. All efforts were made to get three of her boilers on line and the rudder free. The Heavy Cruiser

    NORTHAMPTON made three attempts to take her in-tow, but additional Japanese raids frustrated these efforts. Over 800 excess squadron personnel and 75 wounded were transferred to destroyers. At 1520 another six Japanese KATE$ appeared and at 1523 the HORNET took another torpedo on her starboard side.

    At 1625 Rear Admiral Charles F. Mason gave the order to "Abandon Ship". As the commanding officer he was the last one to leave the stricken ship. The Destroyer USS MUSTIN (DD-413) became the guardian angel of the HORNET by having some of her crew courageously man a Motor Whale Boat in open seas picking up over 337 HORNET survivors. Admiral Mason and Corn-mander Lockhart were picked up by this Motor Whale Boat and delivered to the MUSTIN. The Destroyer USS ANDER-SON (DD-41 1) and other ships in the Task Force rescued the remainder of the HORNET's men. The final count revealed I I I HORNET men killed and 108 wounded. The MUSTIN and the ANDER-SON had the grim duty of destroying the crippled, heavily damaged and abandoned HORNET. Nine more torpedoes hits and nearly 300 rounds of 5-inch shells failed to sink her. By 2040 the HORNET was ablaze throughout her whole length and the two destroyers headed south. At 2120 two Japanese destroyers, Makigumo and Akigumo, closed in on the HORNET and fired four big 24-inch torpedoes into her. At 0130 on 27 October the HORNET finally sank in 2700 fathoms of water off the Santa Cruz Islands. She was the last large U.S. carrier to be lost in World War II.

    On 25 October 1992 (because of the International Dateline) it will be the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Santa Cruz and the loss of the HORNET, and the I I th Joint Reunion of the MUSTIN/HORNET. This reunion is being held at the

    Merrimack Inn in Merrimack, New Hampshire, where all the crew members of the two Task Forces have been invited to assemble. This would be the appropriate time for our Country, the President, the members of Congress, and the responsible Military Departments to issue the long overdue "Navy Expedition-ary Force Medal" to the crews and ships of the Task Force 16.

    There are not too many of us left (most over seventy years of age), and we feel it would not be to big a burden for the government to correct this oversight and issue us our medal. We have been assured by many Senators and Representatives that we are deserving of this award and are willing to support us in our efforts.

18 OCTOBER1992

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SINKING OF THE YORKTOWN

The Imperial Japanese Navy by Paul S. Dull - 6/4/42

 

    Shortly before noon the Japanese dive bombers began their attack. (Hiryu's first wave) Three of their bombs hit the Yorktown: the first exploded on the flight deck, setting fires which spread to the decks below. The second bomb struck near the smoke funnel, and destroyed three of the boiler ventilators. Without operable uptakes, five out of sixboilers in the engine room lost their fire and the engines stopped. The Yorktown's speed dropped to six knots, and by 1220 she was dead in the water. A third bomb ex-ploded deep in the ship, on the fourth deck, but prompt flooding and use of carbonic acid gas prevented the nearby gasoline and ammunition from exploding. But, because the second bomb had knocked out the island bridge's communication systems, radar, and plotting room, at 1315 Admiral Fletcher shifted his flag to the nearby heavy cruiser Astoria, and ordered the heavy cruiser Portland to take the Yorktown in tow. The Yorktown's boilers remained intact, ventilation was restored, and by 1340 four of her engines were functioning and she was moving at a speed of 20 knots. The deck crew began fueling more fighter planes, and it looked as if the Yorktown was back in business.

    Meanwhile at 1331 the Hiryu launched her second wave: ten torpedo planes and six fighters. The small number of planes was largely because of losses suffered in the Midway attack. As before, the Chikuma's No. 5 plane led the Hiryu's planes to the York-town, and despite heavy antiaircraft and fighter resistance, they pressed home their attack. The defensive screens' radar had again picked up the oncoming raiders, and the Yorktown had twelve fighters ready to intercept the incoming enemy planes. Nevertheless, the determined Japanese pilots broke through, despite the loss of five of their attack planes and three of their six fighters. Two torpedoes hit the Yorktown on her port side at 1430, causing explosions and fires; the Yorktown's port side fuel tanks were destroyed, her rudder jammed, her power connections were lost, and she began to list to port. Her predicament was especially critical because the emergency repair job performed on her at Pearl Harbor had not fully restored her water tight integrity. Fearing that she would soon capsize, Captain Elliott Buckmaster ordered the Yorktown abandoned at about 1500. 2,270 of her men survived and were picked up by destroyers.

    Admiral Fletcher decided to abandon the Yorktown and join Admiral Spruance. Wanting to be in position for a battle on the next day and to avoid attack if an undiscovered fifth Japanese carrier appeared. Task Forces 16 and 17 retired eastward until daylight, and then reversed course to be in position to protect Midway from the northeast. The destroyer Hughes, detached to stand by the Yorktown during the night of 4-5 June, reported that the Yorktown probably could be saved, so the minesweeper Vireo was sent from French Frigate Reef to attempt a tow. Later the destroyer Gwin joined the vireo. The Yorktown, although listing 25 degrees to port and down a bit by the head, was still afloat, so Fletcher and Buckmaster decided to try to salvage her. The destroyers Hammann, Balch, and Benham were sent with a salvage party to try to bring her to port. The H , on the Yorktown's starboard beam, put a salvage party on board, while a four destroyer anti-submarine defense ring guarded her from a distance of 2,000 yards.

    All this protection was to be in vain, however. A Japanese search plane had spotted the Yorktown at 0700 and reported her location and condition. Admiral Yamamoto sent sub-marine I-168, which had shelled Midway on 5 June, to the Yorktown's location. The sub-marine evaded the destroyer screen and at 1330 fired four torpedoes: one missed, two went under the and hit the Yorktown, and the last hit the H suare midships. The destroyer sank in three minutes, while the stubborn Yorktown finally sank on 7 June at 0600.

 

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Budd Lupton  Sent this:   THE SINKING OF THE YORKTOWN"  The caption is copied from http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/363.htm Budd writes, "thought it would be nice to identify the USS  Balch DD 363"

.U.S. NAVY FORCES AT THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY

TASK FORCE 16

Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance

TASK FORCE 17

Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher

TASK GROUP 16.5

Heavy Carrier: Enterprise, Hornet

Heavy Cruisers: New Orleans, Mimeapolis, Vincennes, Northampton, Pensacola

Light Cruiser: Atlanta

TASK GROUP 17.5

Heavy Carrier: Yorktown

TASK  GROUP 17.2

Heavy Cruisers: Astoria, Portland

 

TASK GROUP 16.4

Destroyers:

Balch, Conyngham, Benham, Ellet, Maury, Phelps, Worden, Monaghain, Aylwin, Dewey, &   Monssen

 

TASK GROUP 17.4

Destroyers:

Hughes, Morris, Anderson, Russell, Gwin

 

TASK FORCE 7

TASK GROUP 7.1 (Midway Patrol)

Twelve fleet submarines

 

FLEET  TRAIN

Destroyers: Blue, Ralph Talbot

One Tanker

French Frigate Reef

Destroyer: Clark

One tanker

Two tenders

Auxiliary Craft

 

 

Battle of MIDWAY 58 years ago

Here is a story that appeared on CNN

From Correspondent Rusty Dornin

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- On June 3, 1942, a U.S. PBY Catalina flying boat left the U.S. Navy base on a tiny atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to search for a Japanese invasion fleet. What the crew spotted 700 miles away started the greatest naval battle of modern times and marked the turning point of the war in the Pacific.

The Battle of Midway took place 58 years ago on Sunday.

Art Lewis was there, serving on the USS Balch DD363. And so was Lee McClearly, an airman. Both survived to tell about their part in an action when heroics by U.S. airmen, timing, the breaking of the Japanese code and some slices of luck saw four Japanese aircraft carriers and a cruiser sent to the bottom of the ocean.


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American losses were one aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown, and a destroyer, the Hammann.

Admiral Nimitz, forewarned by American cryptanalysts who had broken Japan's code, knew the attack plans of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, who had masterminded the Pearl Harbor attack.

American carrier aircraft were launched and several torpedo-carrying planes attacked the Japanese carriers Akagi, Kaga and Soryu, all of which had taken part in the Pearl Harbour attack.

"Several of the Japanese carriers were caught with their planes either refueling or in the air," said Richard M. Abrams, of the University of California-Berkeley. "So when the carriers themselves were sunk or badly damaged the planes had nowhere to go."  Later the Japanese carrier Hiryu was sunk, but her aircraft followed U.S. planes  back to the Yorktown, attacked and crippled her.

"We're cutting the lines"

Art Lewis was on the USS Balch when the Yorktown got hit and thousands of sailors were thrown or jumped into the sea. Lewis and one other man volunteered to jump in the sea and throw lifelines to the Yorktown's survivors.  He said his captain told them that if the Japanese were to return, "we're cutting the lines and gonna leave you.'"

The Yorktown staggered on, listing heavily. On the morning of June 7, she was hit by torpedoes from a Japanese submarine and sank, but more than 2,200 of her crew were rescued by other U.S. ships.

It took 54 years for Lewis to receive a medal for his heroic efforts. He now lives in a veterans' home in California and finally was awarded the bronze star for his valor. But he never told his family of the day he risked his life for others.

Part of the American attack on the Japanese fleet was launched from Midway itself. Even patrol planes such as the Catalinas carried torpedoes to drop on the Japanese task force.

'Pretty soon they caught us'  Lee McCleary said his aircraft was no match for the Zeros. "Pretty soon they caught us. Three enemy planes ... we fought them for, I guess, less than 20 minutes. We had got one of them, maybe two, but the other kept pouring lead into our plane."

McCleary's plane crashed. Six of the crew died but McCleary and three others survived after spending three days in shark- infested waters.  He still has the small mirror with which he signaled a plane overhead.

On June 6, 1942, U.S. dive bombers sent the Japanese cruiser Mikuma to the bottom, effectively ending the Battle of Midway. Killed in the encounter were 362 Americans and an estimated 3,057 Japanese.

For Midway survivors like McCleary, glory was not on their minds. "I'm not a hero. The heroes are the guys who didn't come back.  "As far as I am concerned, they are the men who gave up their lives in the battle."

Two years ago the Yorktown was found, 16,650 feet down, by Bob Ballard, the
man who found the Titanic. The carrier is said to look good, despite being on the ocean floor for 58 years.



 

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