USS Russell (DD 414)
Destroyer of the Sims class
|Navy||The US Navy|
|Built by||Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. (Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A.)|
|Laid down||20 Dec 1937|
|Launched||8 Dec 1938|
|Commissioned||3 Nov 1939|
|End service||15 Nov 1945|
Decommissioned 15 November 1945.
Commands listed for USS Russell (DD 414)
Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.
|1||Lt.Cdr. James Conner Pollock, USN||3 Nov 1939||12 Jul 1941|
|2||Lt.Cdr. Glenn Roy Hartwig, USN||12 Jul 1941||14 Jan 1943|
|3||T/Cdr. Warren Howard McClain, USN||14 Jan 1943||11 Dec 1943 (1)|
|4||T/Cdr. Frederick Evans Moore, USN||11 Dec 1943||14 Dec 1943|
|5||Lt.Cdr. Lewis Robinson Miller, USN||14 Dec 1943||14 Aug 1944|
|6||John Edward Wicks, Jr., USN||14 Aug 1944||15 Sep 1945|
|7||Leigh Cosart Winters, USN||15 Sep 1945||15 Nov 1945 (1)|
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Notable events involving Russell include:
4 May 1942
Battle of the Coral Sea
Allies Forces in the area on 4 May 1942.
The Allied forces in the area were made up of the following units; Task Force 11; aircraft carrier USS Lexington (Capt. F.C. Sherman, USN, flying the flag of R.Adm. A.W. Fitch, USN), heavy cruisers USS New Orleans (Capt. H.H. Good, USN), USS Minneapolis (Capt. F.J. Lowry, USN, flying the flag of R.Adm. T.C. Kinkaid) and the destroyers USS Phelps (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Beck, USN, with Capt. A.R. Early, USN, commanding DesRon 1 on board), USS Farragut (Cdr. G.P. Hunter, USN), USS Dewey (Lt.Cdr. C.F. Chillingsworth, Jr., USN), USS Worden (Lt.Cdr. W.G. Pogue, USN), USS Monaghan (Lt.Cdr. W.P. Burford, USN), Aylwin (T/Cdr. R.H. Rodgers, USN) and the tanker USS Tippecanoe (Cdr. A. MacOndray, Jr., USN).
Task Force 17; aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (Capt. E. Buckmaster, USN, flying the flag of R.Adm. F.J. Fletcher, USN), heavy cruisers USS Chester (Capt. T.M. Shock, USN), USS Portland (Capt. B. Perleman, USN), Astoria (Capt. F.W. Scanland, USN), and the destroyers USS Morris (T/Cdr. H.B. Jarrett, USN, with T/Capt. G.C. Hoover, USN, commanding DesRon 2 on board), USS Sims (Lt.Cdr. W.M. Hyman, USN), USS Anderson (Lt.Cdr. J.K.B. Ginder, USN), USS Hammann (Cdr. A.E. True, USN), USS Russell (Lt.Cdr. G.R. Hartwig, USN), USS Walke ( Lt.Cdr. T.E. Fraser, USN) and the tanker USS Neosho (T/Capt. J.S. Phillips, USN). The heavy cruiser USS Chicago (Capt. H.D. Bode, USN) and the destroyer USS Perkins (Lt.Cdr. W.C. Ford, USN) were also temporary attached to Task Force 17, these two ships were units of Task Force 44.
Early on the 4th (0805KL/4), Two more units of Task Force 44, the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.G. Crace, CB, RN) and Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) had made rendezvous with Task Force 11.
Prelude up to 4 May 1942.
Task Force 11 and Task Force 17 had met earlier, around 0615LM(-11.5) on 1 May 1942 in position 16°16'S, 162°20'E. Task Force 17 had just spent seven days of upkeep and provisioning at Tonga.
Task Force 11 was then ordered to join the heavy cruiser USS Chicago, destroyer USS Perkins and tanker USS Tippecanoe in position 16°00'S, 161°45'E and with those ships rejoin Task Force 17 the next morning which they did.
It was desirable to take as much fuel out of USS Tippecanoe as possible before she was to return to Port Vila, Efate in accordance with orders from the Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet and to hold as much fuel as possible in USS Neosho as a reserve.
Intelligence reports meanwhile indicated that the long awaited Japanese attack on Port Moresby, New Guinea, might start very soon. Task Force 17 completed fuelling on May 2, but Task Force 11 did not expected to complete fuelling until noon on the 4th. Rear-Admiral Fletcher therefore ordered Rear-Admiral Fitch to fuel his destroyers, if practicable, on northwesterly course at night and rejoin Task Force 17 at daylight May 4 in position 15°00'S, 157°00'E. This was the same rendezvous as had been arranged with Rear-Admiral Crace, RN, which was to join with the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia and light cruiser HMAS Hobart.
At 1545LM/2, an air scout from USS Yorktown sighted an enemy submarine on the surface in position 16°04'S, 162°18'E, just 32 miles north of the Task Forces at that moment. The submarine dived but surfaced shortly afterwards as it was again sighted and depth charges by three planes sent out to locate it. Two destroyers were then ordered to search the area but no contact was made. It was thought possible that the Task Forces might have been reported by the enemy. [The enemy submarine in question was the Japanese I-21 (offsite link) en-route from Rabaul to Noumea. She reported the attack but did NOT report that the attacking aircraft were CARRIER BASED aircraft, so the Japanese were still unaware of the American carriers that were operating in the Coral Sea.]
Task Force 17 with USS Neosho continued to the northwestward during the night and topped off destroyers from Neosho on the third. It was intended to top off other ships requiring it after effecting rendezvous with Rear-Admirals Fitch and Crace the next morning. The former had been directed to sent USS Tippecanoe to Efate with a destroyer escort, this he did after his entire force had topped off with fuel. The destroyer USS Worden was ordered to escort the tanker to Efate.
Task Force 17 consistently kept in readiness for action on short notice by topping off destroyers from the tanker, cruiser and the carrier whenever they could receive as mich as 500 barrels of fuel. This condition of readiness paid dividends on the night of May 3 and 6.
At 1900LM/3, Rear-Admiral Fletcher received intelligence reports from the Commander Southwest Pacific Forces stating that five or six enemy vessels had been sighted at 1700 hours on 2 May, off the southern end of Santa Isabel Island possibly heading to Tulagi and that two transports were unloading into barges at Tulagi at an unspecified time. This was just the kind of report he was waiting for. It was regrettable that Task Force 11 was not available yet but it was fortunate that Task Force 17, fully fuelled, was able to stike at daylight on the 4th. USS Neosho, escorted by USS Russell was ordered to proceed to position 15°00'S, 157°00'E to meet Rear-Admirals Fitch and Crace at 0800 hours on 4 May and the combined force was then to proceed eastwards and join Task Force 17 in position 15°00'S, 160°00'E at daylight on 5 May.
Japanese landings at Tulagi on 3 May 1942 and the American response on 4 May 1942.
Tulagi had been evacuated by the Australians based there on 2 May 1942 and the Japanese landed there the following day. The Japanese force that had arrived there and had landed troops and supplies was made up of the minelayer Okinoshima, auxiliary minelayer Koei Maru, destroyers Kikuzuki, Yuzuki, auxiliary submarine chasers Toshi Maru No.3 and Tama Maru No.8, auxiliary minesweepers Wa-1, Wa-2, Hagoromo Maru, Noshiro Maru No.2 and Tama Maru. The transport Azumasan Maru (7623 GRT, built 1933) is also part of the force. (All links are offsite links).
At 2030LM/3, Task Force 17, currently made up of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, heavy cruisers USS Chicago, USS Chester, USS Portland, USS Astoria and the destroyers USS Perkins, USS Sims, USS Anderson, USS Hammann, USS Walke and USS Morris changed course to the north and increased speed to 24 knots and two hours later to 27 knots. At 0701LM/4, USS Yorktown launched a six plane combat air patrol and the first attack group. Combat air patrol was maintained throughout the day and cruisers maintained inner air patrol. The surface force maneuvered south of Guadacanal Island. Three air attacks were made on the Japanese at Tulagi. No enemy ships or aircraft were sighted from the ships of Task Force 17. The last attack group landed back on USS Yorktown at 1702LM/4.
One torpedo plane and two fighters failed to return due to being lost and running out of gasoline. The fighter pilots were recovered from Guadalcanal Island by USS Hammann that same evening. Six scout bombers and two torpedo planes were slightly damaged. USS Perkins was also detached to search for the missing torpedo plane but found no trace of it.
Enemy losses were reported by returning aircraft as two destroyers, one cargo ship and four gunboats sunk. One light cruiser beached and sunk, one destroyer, one heavy cruiser or aircraft tender severely damaged. One cargo ship damaged. Various small craft destroyed. Five single float planes shot down. [Actual damage inflicted on the enemy was as follows; During the first strike the destroyer Kikuzuki was sunk. During the second strike the auxiliary minesweepers Wa-1, Wa-2 were sunk. The Okinoshima , escorted by the Yuzuki were attacked but managed to dodge all torpedoes by radical maneuvering. She sustained some minor damage though, from near misses and strafing. Also the Yuzuki, Azumasan Maru, Koei Maru were damaged as was the Tama Maru which sank two days later as a result of the damage. Also five float planes were destroyed.]
Events between the action of Tulagi and the action of Misima.
During the night of May 4 - 5, Task Force 17, less USS Perkins and USS Hammann, proceeded southeast and south at 23 knots to rendezvous as previously arranged. The two detached destroyers rejoined Task Force 17 in the morning.
At 0825LM/5, USS Yorktown launched four fighters to investigate a radar contact bearing 252°, distance 30 miles. Interception was completed 15 minutes later and an enemy patrol plance was shot down. At this time the patrol plane was fifteen miles from USS Lexington and twenty-seven miles from USS Yorktown, so it might have been trailing Task Force 11 and not Task Force 17. Shortly before rejoining USS Hammann sighted the patrol plane. At 0845LM/5 Task Force 17 made rendezvous with Task Force 11 and HMAS Australia and HMAS Hobart.
Task Force 17 fuelled from USS Neosho on 5 and 6 May 1942. Task Force 11 and Task Force 44 now joined Task Force 17.
The heavy cruisers USS Minneapolis, USS Astoria, USS Portland, USS New Orleans, USS Chester and five of the destroyers were assigned as ' Attack Group ' in case enemy surface ships were to be attacked during a surface action.
HMAS Australia, USS Chicago, HMAS Hobart and two destroyers were assigned as ' Support Group '.
The carriers were assigned four destroyers as close escort.
The remaining two destroyers were assigned to escort the tankers, though one destroyer and one tanker were at Efate.
Intelligence reports were received on a large amount of various types of enemy vessels in the Salomon Sea between New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomon Islands. It was also reported that three enemy carriers were in the area.
It was decided to be in attack position at daylight on 7 May. Tanker USS Neosho was detached to the southwards escorted by USS Sims.
Action of Misima Island, 7 May 1942.
The morning air search was planned to locate the most suitable objective for attack and to obtain positive or negative information regarding enemy carriers of whose movements no information had been received since the previous afternoon. It was quite possible that three enemy carriers might be within striking distane. Unfortunately the search to the east-north-eastward was not completed due to bad weather. A scout searching to the north-westward reported two carriers and two cruisers north of Masima Island. After launching the attack groups, the scouts were recovered and it was learned that an error had been made in using the contact pad and that the pilot had not sighted any carriers. About the time this error was discovered, Army aircraft reported an enemy carrier group close to Misimi and the attack groups were diverted and made contact. The carrier and a light cruiser were claimed sunk in position 10°29'S, 152°53'E. The large number of torpedo and bomb gits and the rapidity of her sinking (within five minutes) must have resulted in the loss of practically all personnel and aircraft aboard the carrier. The light cruiser was reported to sink so quickly that there must have been great loss of life in her also. The attack groups returned to USS Yorktown and USS Lexington around 1338LM/7.
The Japanese carrier sunk was the Shoho, which had been part of the cover force for the Port Moresby landing group. The cover force had been made up of the already mentioned Shoho, the heavy cruisers Aoba, Furutaka, Kako, Kinugasa and the destroyer Sazanami.
The main assault force for the Port Moresby landings was made up of the light cruiser Yubari, minelayer Tsugaru, destroyers Oite, Asanagi, Mutsuki, Mochitsuki, Yayoi, minesweeper W-20, auxiliary minesweepers Hagoromo Maru, Noshiro Maru No.2 and Fumi Maru No.2, the fleet tanker Hoyo Maru (8692 GRT, built 1936) and ten transports with troops and supplies, these were the naval transport Shoka Maru (4467 GRT, built 1935), Mogamigawa Maru (7509 GRT, built 1934), Goyo Maru (8469 GRT, built 1939), Akibasan Maru (4670 GRT, built 1924), Chowa Maru (2719 GRT, built 1940) and the army transports Matsue Maru (7061 GRT, built 1921), Taifuku Maru (3520 GRT, built 1939), Mito Maru (7061 GRT, built 1921), China Maru (5870 GRT, built 1920) and Hibi Maru (5873 GRT, built 1921).
Thoughts were given to launching another strike or search but it was unlikely that another suitable objective was to be found near the location of the attack of this morning. The location of the Japanese 5th Carrier Division was still unknown but it was thought possible that these were within striking distance. Radar contacts and radio interceptions showed that our position was known to the enemy. One four engined enemy patrol bomber had been shot down by fighters from USS Yorktown.
It was decided to head westwards during the night to be in position if the enemy would pass through the Jomard Passage by morning heading for Port Moresby.
At 1659LM/7 an enemy seaplane was sighed but fighters failed to intercept.
At 1747L/7 (clocks had been set to zone -11 at 1700 hours), radar showed a group of planes to the south-eastward on a westerly course. Fighters were sent to intercept and between fifteen and twenty enemy planes were claimed to have been shot down. American losses were three fighters. When American aircraft were landing after dark, three enemy aircraft circled showing light and they made no sign of hostility probably having mistaken our forces for their own. It was realized that the enemy carriers must be in the area for such a mistake to happen. One of these enemy aircraft was shot down by AA gunfire.
Loss of USS Neosho and USS Sims.
While all of the above was going on, at 1051LM/7, a signal, repeated several times, was reveived from USS Neosho that she was being bombed by three enemy aircraft in position 16°50'S, 159°08'E. Later at 1600LM/7, USS Neosho reported that she was sinking in position 16°38'S, 158°28'E.
A subsequent signal from the Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet indicated that USS Sims had also been sunk. Unfortunately, nothing was received as to the type of aircraft which attacked them. It would have been extremely valuable information if it had been reported that they were carrier planes. The destroyer USS Monaghan was detached during the night of May 7-8 to search the next morning for survivors. While well clear of the Fleet, she was also to sent radio signals to the Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet and others. This left seven destroyers and five cruisers with the two carriers.
According to survivors of the USS Sims around 0910LM/7, a lone Japanese twin engined bomber had dropped a single bomb which hit the water rather close to port abreast the forward guns. On man at No.2 gun mount was injured by a fragment but no furher damage was done. The plane then kept shadowing USS Sims and USS Neosho. Weather was clear and the sea smooth.
USS Sims had numerous radar contacts and about 0930LM/7, sixteen high level bombers came in to attack USS Sims and USS Neosho. They dropped bombs but missed the Sims wide, Neosho reported being near missed, but neither ship was damaged.
Survivors from the USS Sims reported that the ships 5" DP gunfire apparently disturbed them with the above result. During these fist two actions 328 rounds of 5" ammunition was expended.
The horizontal bombers disappeared from sight but USS Sims continued to pick up planes on her SC radar. None were sighted, however, until twenty-four dive bombers, appeared around 1130LM/7 [USS Neosho gives the time as 1201/7, but it might be she kept another time zone]. As soon as these aircraft appeared, USS Sims went to flank speed and turned left to take position on the port quarter of the tanker. Fire was opened with the 5" guns in director control when the planes came within range. The attacks were directed promarily at the tanker and came in from various bearings astern in three waves. The planes approached at about 15000 feet and dove close to the ship in shallow dives of about 30°. Bombs were released quite close aboard. Survivors stated that some dive-bombers were destroyed by the blast of their own bombs. USS Sims obtained one direct hit on one of the dive bombers and the plane exploded in the air. The 20mm AA guns fired continuously at the dive bombers as they passed overhead and tracers were seen to pass through the planes, but the projectiles failed to burst and destroy the aircraft. One of the forward 20mm guns jammed early in the action and was not cleared during the remainder of the engagement.
Four aircraft broke off from one wave of Neosho attackers and directed their attack at USS Sims, diving on their succession from astern. All of these planes were single motored, had fixed landing gear, and had a silhoutte similar to that of Japanese dive bombers. The first released a bomb wihch landed in the water about amidships to port. The second released a bomb which landed on no.2 torpedo mount and exploded in the forward engine room. The third released a bomb which apparently hit the after upper deck house and went down through diagonally forward, exploding in the after engine room. The fourth plane is believed to have made a direct hit on No.4 gun but this can not be definitely established.
Numbers three and four gun mounts and the after 20mm guns were put out of commission by the bomb hits, but the forward mounts in local control and one 20mm gun forward continued firing at the planes untill all of them were out of range. The total of rounds fired by the Sims cannot be ascertained, but one survivor states that over 200 rounds were fired from number two mount alone. During this last attack, the paint on the barrel of number one mount blistered and caught fire. The crew, however, continued to fire with the complete length of the barrel in flames. Several planes were brought down by gun fire during this attack. It is believed that the bombs dropped were of about 500 pounds size. USS Sims broke in two and sank around noon.
Though there are only thirteen survivors of the Sims, these men are from widely separated battle stations and it was possible to reconstruct a fairly accurate account of her last moments. The survivors of the USS Sims then made for the USS Neosho was had been abandoned but was still afloat.
USS Neosho meanwhile had also been dive bombed. The majority of the dive bombers had been forced to released their bombs early due to effective AA gunfire which claimed to have shot down three of the attackers. One of these planes made a suicidal run into the ship hitting no.4 gun enclosure. Non the less the ship was hit by about five bombs, three near the bridge and two aft. It is also believed that at least two of the ships boilers exploded.
The Commanding Officer gave order to ' prepare to abandon ship ' but some must have misunderstood the order or only heard ' abandon ship ' some personnel in some part of the ship began to do so. Neosho's motor whale boat and the motor whale boat from the Sims were then dispatched to round these up. They picked up men and put them on raft so they could continue their search for more men in the water. After the boats were then full they returned to the ship. It was however to close near sunset to sent the boats out again to collect the rafts as it was also feared that the Neosho could sink at any moment due to her listing badly. The liferafts then drifted away with their occupants.
A muster roll was held and with the known casualties it was established that 4 officers and 154 men were missing. Accounted for were 16 officers and 94 men. The survivors on Neosho had been joined by only 15 survivors from the Sims. To righten the ship from it's 30° list, three valves in starboard wing tanks were opened, three other valves could not be opened due to them being damaged. Power could however not be restored.
During the night of 7/8 May, two surivivors (wounded), one from the Neosho and one from the Sims died. They were buried at sea in the morning of the 8th.
On the 9th, three more men (all from the Neosho), were buried at sea.
Shortly after noon on the 10th, an Australian Hudson aircraft was sighted and information was passed. Also on this day, three more men (all from the Neosho), were buried at sea.
Shortly before noon on the 11th, a Calatina aircraft was sighted and 1.5 hours later, the destroyer USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Smith, USN) arrived on the scene. Just as well as by now the Neosho would not have held out much longer. The survivors were then taken on board the destroyer, a total of 123 officers and men. At 1522L/11, USS Neosho slid underneath the waves with her colors flying after having been scuttled by a torpedo and gunfire from the Henley. Position was 15°35'S, 155°36'E.
USS Henley then set course for Brisbane arriving there on the 14th. On the 12th an ex Sims survivor had died from his wounds as did an ex Neosho survivor on the 13th. Both were buried at sea on the 13th.
On 16 May 1942, the destroyer USS Helm (Lt.Cdr. C.E. Carroll, USN), which had also been searching in the area picked up four survivors from a life raft. One of these however died shortly afterwards. These survivors were also taken to Brisbane where the Helm arrived on 18 May 1942.
As a result of the confusion on board USS Neosho the Commanding Officer suggested to change the order ' prepare to abandon ship ' Navy wide to ' fall in at boats and raft stations ' and to only use the words ' abandon ship ' if this was actually to be done.
Carrier battle, 8 May 1942.
As shore based aircraft had not detected the two Japanese carriers and our intelligence was not sure of their position either with reporting that they could be either east or west of Task Force 17, a 360° degree search was launched at dawn. At 0828L/8, a scout from USS Lexington reported two carriers, four heavy cruiser and three destroyers. This was amplified seven minutes later as two carriers, four heavy cruisers and many destroyers bearing 028°, 175 miles from our own force (enemy approximate position would then be 11°51'S, 156°04'E). An intercepted radio transmission showed that Task Force 17 had been sighted by the enemy at 0822L/8.
Around 0900LM/8, attack groups were launched. Cruisers and destroyers were around the carriers in a circular screen. During the morning two radar contact resulted in no interception. One visual contact resulted in the destruction of a four engine enemy bomber / scout. At 1055L/8, radar indicated a large group of enemy aircraft bearing 020°, range 68 miles. Fighters were sent to intercept them.
American aircraft commenced to attack the enemy carriers out twenty minutes earlier then the Japanese aicraft commenced their attack on Task Force 17. The attack group from Yorktown arrived ahead of the attack group from Lexington although the almost attacked around the same time. The Yorktown bombers and torpedo planes made a coordinated attack on the northernmost enemy carrier. They reported six 1000 pound bomb hits and three, possibly four torpedo hits. When leaving they reported the enemy carrier ablaze forward and obviously severely damaged. The Lexington group reported three bomb and five torpedo hits on an enemy carrier of the Shokaku-class. When last seen she was on fire, settling and turning in a circle. It was thought that both enemy carriers had been severely damaged. In fact both air groups had attacked the same carrier.
The Japanese attack on Task Force 17 started around 1115L/8. USS Yorktown was hit by one bomb and suffered many near misses. USS Lexington suffered at least two torpedo and two bomb hits besides many near misses by both torpedoes and bombs. Both ships remained operational immediately following these attacks and damage they had sustained. There were troubles with the elevators in USS Lexington though.
Following the Japanese air attacks and the return of our aircraft an informal estimate of the situation was made. Consideration was given to making another attack or sending in the Attack Group for a surface attack. A returning Lexington pilot had reported that one enemy carrier was undamaged.
At 1422L/8, a report was received that an additional enemy carrier may have joined the enemy force. Three boilers in USS Yorktown which had been out of commission, were placed in use again and the ship was capable of 30 knots. Damage had reduced the speed of USS Lexington to 24 knots.
Radio interceptions showed that some aircraft of the Shokaku had landed on Zuikaku, this must mean that the Shokaku was damaged and that the aircraft were unable to land on her. The idea of making another attack was abandoned when it became apparent that USS Yorktown had only eight fighters, twelve bombers and eight torpedo planes serviceable. The idea of making a surface attack was also abandoned due to the fact that they then would not be with the carriers to provide protection against enemy air attack. Course was therefore set to the southward. It was intended to transfer operational aircraft from the Lexington to the Yorktown and then sent the Lexington to Pearl Harbour to effect repairs, however it was not to be.
At 1445L/8, USS Lexington reported that she had suffered a serious explosion and seven minutes later it was reported that the fires could not be controlled. The explosion was caused by leaking gasoline and the forming of fumes which eventually ignited. At 1610L/8, USS Lexington reported that they were abandoning lower deck spaces and at 1657L/8 they reported that all power had been lost. At 1710L/8, they started abandoning ship. Around 1737L/8, a big explosion ripped through the ship, possibly caused by ammunition exploding.
Rear-Admiral Kinkaid was then tasked to take charge of the rescue operations with USS Minneapolis, USS New Orleans, USS Phelps, USS Anderson, USS Hammann and USS Morris. They rescued over 2700 officers and men. USS Lexington was beyond salvage and was eventually scuttled by torpedoes from USS Phelps in position 15°05'S, 155°16'E. Five torpedoes were fired of which at least three hit.
Operations by Task Force 17.3 / Task Force 44.
At daylight on the 7th (0645LM/7), Rear-Admiral Crace, Royal Navy, had been detached with the ' Support Force ' made up of HMAS Australia, USS Chicago, HMAS Hobart, USS Perkins and USS Walke and reinforced with the destroyer USS Farragut. They were to proceed to the Jomard passage to destroyer enemy transports and light cruisers heading towards there. The group was known as Task Force 17.3.
Around 1130LM/7, an enemy shadowing aircraft was sighted by this group.
At 1506LM/7, Task Force 17.3 was attacked by eleven enemy torpedo bombers. No hits were obtained and five of the attackers were shot down. One torpedo passed close down the Port side of HMAS Hobart.
At 1513LM/7, they were attacked by nineteen high level bombers. Bombs fell close to HMAS Australia but no hits were obtained.
At 1519LM/7, three high level bombers attacked but they did no damage. It was later found out that this had been Allied aircraft which had attacked in error.
At 1055LM/8, a single shadowing aircraft was sighted.
In the afternoon of the 18th, HMAS Hobart fuelled USS Perkins.
At 2013LM/8, HMAS Hobart and USS Walke were detached to proceed to the Grafton Passage and then onwards to Australia.
At 1235LM/9, HMAS Hobart and USS Walke entered the Grafton Passage.
At 0045KL/10, HMAS Hobart and USS Walke parted company with each other. HMAS Hobart set course for Brisbane while USS Walke proceeded to Townsville.
Meanwhile USS Farragut fuelled from HMAS Australia in the morning of the 8th.
At 1947LM/9, a signal was received that Task Force 17.3 was released from operations with Task Force 17 and reverted to being Task Force 44 under operational command of ComSoWesPacFor.
Around 0735LM/10, Task Force 44 set course for the Grafton Passage which they entered around 1745LM/10.
Task Force 44 arrived in Cid Harbour around 1145KL/11 where they fuelled. The cruisers from the Australian Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Karumba (3798 GRT, built 1916), and the destroyers from the cruisers. Around 1900KL/11, USS Chicago and USS Perkins departed for Sydney where they arrived in the morning of the 14th. HMAS Australia and USS Farragut proceeded to Brisbane where they arrived in the afternoon of the 13th.
25 Aug 1942
Continued operations in the Guadacanal - Tulagi area following the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.
25 August 1942.
During the night of 24 August/ 25 August, Task Forces 11 and 16 retired to the south to refuel or retire from the area for repairs respectively. Task Force 18 had completed fuelling and now proceeded northwards to take their place.
The composition of Task Force 11 was as follows; the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (Capt. D.C. Ramsey, USN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral F.J. Fletcher, USN), heavy cruisers USS Minneapolis (Capt. F.J. Lowry, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H. Wright, USN), USS New Orleans (Capt. W.S. Delany, USN), HMAS Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) and the destroyers USS Phelps (T/Cdr. E.L. Beck, USN, with Capt. S.B. Brewer, USN on board), USS Farragut (Cdr. G.P. Hunter, USN), USS Dewey (T/Cdr. C.F. Chillingsworth, Jr., USN), USS Macdonough (Lt.Cdr. E. van E. Dennet, USN), USS Worden (T/Cdr. W.G. Pogue, USN), USS Bagley (T/Cdr. G.A. Sinclair, USN) and USS Patterson (Cdr. F.R. Walker, USN).
Task Force 16 was made up of Enterprise (Capt. A.C. Davis, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral T.C. Kincaid, USN), battleship USS North Carolina (Capt. G.H. Fort, USN), heavy cruiser USS Portland (Capt. L.T. Du Bose, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral M.S. Tisdale, USN), AA cruiser USS Atlanta (Capt. S.P. Jenkins, USN) and the destroyers USS Balch (T/Cdr. H.H. Tiemroth, USN, with Capt. E.P. Sauer, USN on board), USS Benham (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Taylor, USN), USS Ellet (T/Cdr. F.H. Gardner, USN), USS Maury (T/Cdr. G.L. Sims, USN), USS Grayson (T/Cdr. F.J. Bell, USN) and USS Monssen (T/Cdr. R.N. Smoot, USN).
Task Force 18, made up of the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (T/Capt. F.P. Sherman, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L. Noyes, USN), heavy cruisers Salt Lake City (Capt. E.G. Small, USN), USS San Francisco (Capt. C.H. McMorris, USN), AA cruiser USS San Juan (Capt. J.E. Maher, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral N. Scott, USN) and the destroyers USS Selfridge (T/Cdr. C.D. Reynolds, USN, with Capt. C.W. Flynn, USN, on board), USS Farenholt (T/Cdr. Lt.Cdr. E.T. Seaward, USN, with Capt. R.G. Tobin, USN on board), USS Aaron Ward (T/Cdr. O.F. Gregor, USN), USS Buchanan (T/Cdr. R.E. Wilson, USN), USS Lang (T/Cdr. E.A. Seay, USN), USS Stack (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Greenacre, USN) and USS Sterett (Cdr. J.G. Coward, USN).
The battleship USS North Carolina, the AA cruiser USS Atlanta and the destroyers USS Grayson and USS Monssen were ordered to detach from Task Force 16 and join the other Task Forces.
Another Task Force, Task Force 17, made up of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (Capt. C.P. Mason, USN , flying the flag of Rear-Admiral G.D. Murray, USN), heavy cruisers USS Northampton (Capt. W.D. Chandler, Jr., USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.H. Good, USN), USS Pensacola (Capt. F.L. Lowe, USN), AA cruiser USS San Diego (Capt. B.F. Perry, USN) and the destroyers USS Morris (Lt.Cdr. R.B. Boyer, USN, with Capt. G.C. Hoover, USN on board), USS Hughes (T/Cdr. D.J. Ramsey, USN), USS Anderson (T/Cdr. R.A. Guthrie, USN), USS Mustin (T/Cdr. W.F. Petersen, USN), USS Russell (T/Cdr. G.R. Hartwig, USN) and USS O'Brien (T/Cdr. T. Burrowes, USN) were approaching the New Hebrides area from the eastward. With them was also the tanker USS Guadalupe (T/Capt. J.S. Freeman, USN). Originally intended as reinforcements but they now could take the place of Task Force 16. USS Guadalupe parted company with Task Force 17 on this day as did USS Hughes which was detailed to escort the tanker.
Shortly after midnight during the night of 24/25 August, enemy destroyers shelled our positions in the Guadalcanal / Tulagi area but they inflicted almost no damage. Casualties among our troops were two killed and three wounded. Some dive bombers took off from Henderson Field and claimed to have obtained on hit on an enemy destroyer. The Japanese destroyers which were operating in the Guadalcanal / Tulagi area this night were the Kagero, Isokaze, Kawakaze, Mutsuki and Yayoi. Our positions on Guadacanal were also bombed by high level bombers shortly before noon this day.
After daylight on the 25th, Task Force 11 and part of Task Force 16 commenced fuelling from the tankers USS Cimarron (T/Capt. R.M. Ihrig, USN), USS Platte (Capt. R.H. Henkle, USN) and USS Sabine (T/Capt. H.L. Maples, USN) which were escorted by the destroyers USS Clark (T/Capt. M.T. Richardson, USN), USS Dale (Cdr. H.E. Parker, USN) and USS Gwin (Cdr. J.M. Higgins, USN).
On completion of the fuelling USS Enterprise, USS Portland, USS Balch, USS Benham and USS Ellet parted company to leave the operations area. USS Maury was ordered to proceed to Tulagi. She rejoined on the 28th. Task-Force 16 arrived at Tonga on 30 August 1942.
Meanwhile Task Force 18 was operating in support of the Marines on Guadalcanal. Three enemy reconnaissance aircraft were shot down by fighters from USS Wasp. In addition aircraft from USS Wasp reconnoitred Rakata Bay which was suspected to be used by the enemy but the Bay was found to be empty.
Two submarine contacts were obtained by Task Force 18 on the 25th. The destroyer USS Grayson sighted a ship on the horizon and was detached to invesitigate. The ' ship ' turned out to be a large submarine which submerged. USS Grayson then attacked with several patterns of depth charges. She was later joined by USS Patterson. When USS Grayson ran out of depth charges USS Monssen took over from her. In the end the Japanese submarine, which was the I-9 (offsite link), managed to escape damaged. The other submarine contact was attacked by a dive bomber from USS Enterprise which claimed a direct hit.
26 August 1942.
Shortly after midnight Task Force 11 (Saratoga Group) completed fuelling and reinforced by USS North Carolina, USS Atlanta, USS Grayson and USS Monssen proceeded northwards to join Task Force 18 (Wasp Group).
At 1215L/26, our positions on Guadacanal were raided by sixteen twin engined enemy bombers supported by twelve Zero fighters. Allied land based fighters intercepted them and shot down seven bombers and five fighters for the loss of one fighter including its pilot.
On joining up both Carrier Task Forces operated during the night of 26/27 August on the parallel of 11°S, between San Christobal Island and the Santa Cruz Islands.
27 August 1942.
During the day the carrier groups had steered to the southward and by sunset had reached position 12°00'S, 165°00'E. In the afternoon the CAP had shot down a large four-engined enemy flying boat which attempted to shadow the carrier forces.
Allied reconnaissance aircraft from Ndeni again found enemy naval forces to the north-east of the Solomons. The forces comprised a battleship, cruisers and destroyers. They were reported on various courses during the day but always in the vicinity of position 02°00'S, 162°00'E.
According to intelligence more and more units of the Japanese Fleet were known to be in the area as were a lot of the Japanese senior naval commanders. This indicated the magnitude of the effort the Japanese are preparing to make in the area.
The Allied Commander South Pacific (Vice-Admiral Ghormley) decided that every effort should be made to reinforce our positions in the Guadalcanal - Tulagi area.
During the day the seaplane tender (former destroyer) McFarland (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Alderman, USN) relieved the destroyer minelayer USS Breese (T/Cdr. H.F. Staut, USN) at Ndeni thus joining the seaplane tender USS MacKinac (T/Capt. N.R. Hitchcock, USN) there.
In the Guadalcanal - Tulagi area there were no reports of enemy activity. A large patrol had been sent to attack a Japanese outpost at Kukumbona (seven miles west of Lunga Point). In the afternoon four additional fighters landed at Henderson Field. On their way in they had damaged and hopefully destroyed a large four-engined enemy flying boat.
During the night Task Forces 11 and 18 cruised around latitude 12°00'S between meridians 165°00'E and 162°00'E.
28 August 1942.
At daylight the two carrier groups were sixty miles south of San Cristobal Island and operated throughout the day to provide cover for a convoy en-route to the Guadacanal - Tulagi area from the New Hebrides area.
This convoy was made up of the transports USS William Ward Burrows (AP 6) (4577 GRT, built 1929) (T/Cdr. E.I. McQuiston, USN) and Kopara (New Zealand, 679 GRT, built 1938). They were escorted by the destroyer minelayers 2157 Gamble (Lt.Cdr. S.N. Tackney), 2368 Tracy (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Collis, USN) and the high speed transports (former destroyers) USS Colhoun (T/Lt.Cdr. G.B. Madden, USN), USS Gregory (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bauer, USN) and USS Little (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Lofberg, Jr., USN).
Reconnaissance aircraft found no enemy naval forces in the area north-east of the Solomon Islands. Enemy submarine activity in the area between 05°S and 15°S, and 160° to 170° has greatly increased during the last few days and it is estimated that there area now at least ten enemy submarines in the area. It would appear that the enemy is aware of the approximate vicinity of our forces and is andeavouring to achieve some success against our carriers with this concentration of submarines. However, the carrier forces have an ample number of screening destroyers and strong A/S air patrols which are maintained during daylight and have been keeping the submarines down and scoring some successes against them.
During the day Rear-Admiral Scott transferred from the USS San Juan to the San Francisco. The USS San Juan then parted company to join Task Force 16 (the Enterprise Group) as she had a defective gun mount for which she needed to undergo repairs.
In the Guadalcanal area, the US Marines patrol returned after dealing with the enemy detachmentt at Kukumbona. US casualties had been five killed and ten wounded. Enemy casualties uncertain.
An afternoon air patrol from Guadalcanal located an enemy force comprising three large destroyers and one smaller one seventy miles to the northward and steering south. Eleven dive bombers took off and attacked this force resulting in one large destroyer blowing up and sinking, one large destroyer being hit amidships and set on fire and the smaller destroyer being hit and left proceeding at slow speed and in distress. The remaining large destroyer escaped. One of our dive bombers failed to return. It was reported that these destroyer had carried considerable quantities of gear on deck. The destroyer attacked were the Asagiri which was sunk while the Shirakumo and Yugiri sustained heavy damage and the Amagiri sustained minor damage. [All these destroyers were the same size as all belonged to the Fubuki-class, all links are offsite links.]
It was learnt that about 100 Japanese had landed on Mahige Island (South end of Isabel Island) the previous afternoon from two rafts. It is probable that this party consised of survivors from the transport which had been sunk about 120 miles to the northward on the 25th by our aircraft.
During the night of 28/29 August 1942, both carrier groups proceeded to the northward.
29 August 1942.
At daylight the carrier groups were in approximate position 10°00'S, 163°00'E, able to cover the arrival at Guadalcanal of the convoy mentioned earlier. In this position Task Forces 11 and 18 were joined by Task Force 17. During the day they operated to the southward reaching latitude 12°S by sunset.
At 0440L/29, our position in Guadalcanal was bombed by 6 enemy aircraft and at 1155L/29 our position was again bombed. In this raid, which was carried out by 18 twin-engined bombers, supported by 9 fighters, our shore based fighters intercepted and shot down at least three enemy bombers and four enemy fighters (Type Zero). In addition one bombers was brought down by AA fire. Two Allied fighters were destroyer on the ground and two were damaged in aerial combat. Some ammunition and AA material had been destroyed. Allied casualties were 3 killed and 9 wounded.
The Commanding General Guadalcanal has reported that only the F4F Wildcat fighters are able to compete against the enemy's bombing formations owing to the great height at which they approach.
At 1250L/29, our convoy arrived in the Tulagi area with a much needed cargo of ammunition, rations, aviation spirit and stores. After unloading, the three high speed transports (former destroyers) will remain in the area to transport Marine raider detachments in mopping up operations against outlying enemy detachments.
The next movement of supplies to Guadalcanal area began today with the departure from Esperitu Santo of the destroyer USS Helm (T/Cdr. C.E. Carroll, USN) escorting the patrol tenders YP 239, YP 284 and YP 326 and of the destroyer USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. E.K. van Swearingen, USN) escorting the Naval Cargo Ship USS Betelgeuse (AK 28) (6198 GRT, built 1939) (T/Capt. H.D. Power, USN).
A report was received the enemy cruisers or destroyers have left Faisi (Shortland Islands) to proceed to Guadalcanal at high speed. Orders were therefore given for the USS William Ward Burrows, Kopara and their escort to retired to the eastward through the Lengo Channel and to return to the area the next day to complete unloading. Indeed the Japanese destroyers Isokaze, Kawakaze, Suzukaze and Umikaze had departed followed by the Fubuki, Hatsuyuki and Murakumo. They landed Japanese troops near Cape Taivu during the night of 28/29 August 1942.
During the night of 29/30 August 1942, the Carrier Groups cruiser in the vicinity of position 12°00'S, 164°00'E.
30 August 1942.
At daylight the light cruiser USS Phoenix (Capt. H.E. Fischer, USN) finally joined the Carrier Forces which at 0800M/12 were reorganized as follows; Task Force 61 (Vice-Admiral F.J. Fletcher, USN) Task Group 61.1, under Vice-Admiral Fletcher was made up of the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, battleship USS North Carolina, heavy cruisers USS Minneapolis, USS New Orleans, AA cruiser USS Atlanta and the destroyers USS Phelps, USS Farragut, USS Dewey, USS Macdonough, USS Worden, USS Grayson and USS Monssen. Task Group 61.2, under Rear-Admiral G.D. Murray, USN, was made up of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, heavy cruisers USS Northampton, USS Pensacola, light cruiser USS Phoenix, AA cruiser USS San Diego and the destroyers USS Morris, USS Anderson, USS Mustin, USS Russell, USS O'Brien, USS Bagley and USS Patterson. Task Group 61.3, under Rear-Admiral L. Noyes, USN, was made up of the aircraft carrier USS Wasp, heavy cruisers HMAS Australia, USS San Francisco, USS Salt Lake City, light cruiser HMAS Hobart and the destroyers USS Selfridge, USS Farenholt, USS Aaron Ward, USS Buchanan, USS Lang, USS Stack and USS Sterret.
During the day the combined Task Force operated in the vicinity of position 12°30'S, 164°00'E.
In the Guadalcanal area there was an aerial engagement in the forenoon in which Allied fighters shot down 8 land-based enemy type Zero fighters for a loss to themselves if 4 aircraft of which 1 pilot was rescued. Around 1500M/30, 18 enemy bombers attacked Allied ships unloading of Kukum during which the high speed transport USS Colhoun was sunk. No other ships were hit. During the night of 29/30 August the transport William Ward Burrows had grounded on Sylvia shoal off Tulagi. She was towed off, with great difficulty, the following day. It was believed that USS Gamble and USS Little each destroyed an enemy submarine in the area on the 29th. [USS Gamble indeed sunk the I-123 (offsite link).]
In the afternoon 17 F4F fighters and 4 scout dive bombers arrived as reinforcements at Henderson Field.
During the afternoon an enemy force of four cruisers was located between Isabel and New Georgia Islands, proceeding to the north-west. They were then bombed by the aircraft which made the sighting but no hits were obtained. [More likely this were destroyers though.]
During the night of 30/31 August 1942 the combined carrier forces steered to the northward. Task Force 18 / 61.3 ('Wasp'-Group) was to be detached during the night to proceed to Noumea for fuel, provisions, ammunition and a few days of in harbour. Task Forces 11 / 61.1 and 17 / 61.2 would reach latitude 10°S at daylight to continue the operations.
31 August 1942.
Shorty after midnight, Task Group 61.3 turned to the southward to proceed to Noumea as planned.
However, at 0748M/31, in position 10°34'S, 164°18'E, USS Saratoga was hit by a torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-26 (offsite link) which had fired a salvo of six. The torpedoes were spotted by USS Macdonough which alerted the carrier which was able to dodge the other torpedoes, one of which had broken surface as well. The carrier came to a standstill. Prior to the attack, at 0310M/31, the new SG radar of USS North Carolina had detected a surface contact and at 0337M/31, USS Farragut had been detached to investigate but she could not find anything [obviously, the submarine had submerged and tried to get into an attack position.]
Towing gear was then rigged and USS Minneapolis and USS New Orleans were ordered to make ready to take the disabled carrier in tow but at 0835M/31, USS Saratoga was able to get underway on one shaft and commenced to leave the area. the destroyer USS Monssen was left behind with orders to keep the sumbarine down until sunset and then rejoin. At the same time USS Phelps obtained a contact. While maintaining contact USS Macdonough came in and dropped depth charges. USS Monssen then took over.
Around 1018M/31, the destroyer USS Bagley joined from Task Force 17 / 61.2 to reinforce the damaged carrier's destroyer screen. Eight minutes later a second shaft could be used to propel the damaged carrier which by now was back on an even keel.
At 1043M/31, all power was however lost and she was dead in the water again. At 1204M/31, a towline was established with the cruiser USS Minneapolis and towing commenced around half an hour later.
Around 1310M/31, both usable shafts were back 'online' and she was able to propel herself again. Towing was still continued though and the ship was towed into the wind and at 1330M/31, 29 aircraft were flown off to Esperitu Santo. Tow was casted at 1637M/31.
During 1 September 1942, 5 more aircraft were flow off to Esperitu Santo while 2 returned from there. Also an A/S patrol was maintained throughout the day. Around 1842M/1, the tug Navajo (T/Cdr. J.A. Ouellet, USN), escorted by the destroyer Laffey (Lt.Cdr. W.E. Hank, USN) joined.
On 2 september USS Saratoga flew off 2 aircraft to Esperitu Santo and a total of 32 fighters to Efate. also the Task Group, less the Saratoga fuelled from the tanker USS Guadalupe which had arrived escorted by the destroyer USS Dale. Also during the day personnel and bagage were transferred to the destroyers USS Monssen and USS Grayson. Early in the afternoon 17 aircraft landed on from Esperitu Santo for gear, torpedoes, etc.. These aircraft later took off again to return to Esperitu Santo but one crashed on taking off, the pilot being rescued by USS Navajo. Again A/S patrols were maintained throughout the day.
On 3 September fuelling was completed and USS Guadalupe and USS Dale were detached around 1245M/3. As usual air patrols were maintained throughout the day. Task Force 11 arrived at Tonga on 6 September 1942.
Meanwhile around 1200M/1, Task Force 18 / Task Group 61.3 turned around. The destroyers then fuelled from the bigger ships.
On 31 August 1942, in the Guadalcanal area, moonlight air patrol had located two enemy cruisers and two destroyers near Cape Taivu. They were close inshore and are thought to have been discharging troops and cargo. Dive bombers then attacked them forcing them to withdraw. [In fact during the night of 31 August / 1 September, 1000 troops and stores were landed by the Japanese destroyers Kagero, Kawakaze, Suzukaze, Umikaze, Fubuki, Amagiri, Hatsuyuki and Murakumo.]
In the afternoon the USS Betelgeuse escorted by USS Henley arrived at Guadalcanal. On board were much needed stores including aviation spirit. Also on board were 200 Navy construction personnel to assist in unloading operations. On their departure these two ships were to evacuate 400 POW's. Also on this day the Kopara completed unloaded and departed escorted by the USS Tracy.
Around 1800M/31, HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart and USS Selfridge parted company with Task Group 61.3 with orders to proceed to Brisbane, Australia.
Around 1900M/31, USS Phoenix, USS Bagley and USS Patterson parted company with Task Group 61.2 also with orders to proceed to Brisbane, Australia. All these ships were to revert to the control of the Commander-in-Chief South-West Pacific.
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