Gentlemen Cordite, Lieutenant Commander Warwick
edited by Nicholas Bracegirdle
A vivid account of the re-capture of the Philippines
LEYTE ISLAND AND LINGAYEN GULF
October 1944 - February 1945
(by kind permission of CPO Arthur Cooper RAN Chief Gunners Mate)
"I shall return!" .. said General Douglas MacArthur.
Sometimes minute-by-minute onboard SHROPSHIRE…
Since the beginning of time there have been wars and quarrels on this earth among its inhabitants. After it is all over we ask ourselves "What was it all about, and was it worth while/" There are not many MINUTE TO MINUTE DESCRIPTIONS OF ACTIONS.
The following is a descriptive account in the Fire Control Room of the heavy cruiser HMAS Shropshire. Through a little mechanical adjustment, one of the Operators from the Admiralty Fire Control Table was made redundant. As he had a set of earphones on he could hear everything which was going on and broadcast around the ship. He was given the means of recording, via the medium of pencil and paper, all that he heard. The Operator was a bandsman by the name of Chan Redding - a very intelligent man with a good sense of humour.
The story covers that part of World War II when the Royal Australian Navy joined with the United States 3rd Fleet, and under the overall command of General Douglas MacArthur attacked and recaptured the Philippine Islands from the Japanese.
Besides the recording of Chan Redding, I added other comments and notes to the screed at the time.
The whole record had been reproduced a few times, but not very well until now, when by many hours of good work, with patience and good eyesight, it has been reproduced by our Secretary of the Canberra/Shropshire Association, Arthur Carter, a survivor of the "Canberra" and a Radar Operator on "Shropshire". He has patiently reproduced this epic record, so that all can read and understand at least one part of what went on in World War II.
Let every reader, particularly those who were there, sit back and wonder how we, on "Shropshire", survived the many attacks. We survived many because we were an efficient fighting ship, and with a lot of good luck.
For those folk who read this epic, live with us over again a little of what we went through as part of the Campaign to save our country from an aggressor.
Arthur Cooper, Chief Gunners Mate RAN (Retd.)
LEYTE ISLAND OPERATIONS (Philippines)
20 October - 16 November 1944
Arrived off Leyte Island at dawn, where landing and invasion is to take place (5a.m. Friday 20 October - 'A' Day). Troops to land at 9.45. Bombardment commenced - Battleships 7a.m. to 9a.m. "Shropshire", Yank cruisers and destroyers 9a.m. to 12 a.m. During the night a mine was caught in the Port paravane (paravanes were streamed about 10pm. last night); the mine was about 10 yards from the ship's side and was slipped astern about 4.30a.m. and we made a sharp turn to port. Convoy consisted of hundreds of ships; as day dawned all ships were in position for bombardment and landing of troops. A Jap recce plane was sighted early and flew around our convoy, area 30 by 30 miles (900 square miles). Numerous ships opened fire, and the plane was presumed destroyed. Battlers opened fire at 7a.m. at shore batteries and then moved in and carried out scheduled bombardment from 8 to 9. We waited in position, then at 9a.m. moved in and opened fire. During early bombardment destroyer had several near misses by bombs. After first wave of troops landed there was a lot of mortar fire at position,.
We will have landed 70,000 troops against a suspected 17,000 Japs. Expect air raids at any minute. Went topside and watched other ships bombarding and also dive bombers hard at work. San Pedro Bay - ships in every direction - oiled at sea Wednesday afternoon last, large fleet tankers. Padre puts over goffers 3p.m. 2 men overboard off transports, 1 lost and the other rescued by end of convoy. Submarine suspected in convoy area approx. 3p.m. yesterday, 19 October, depth charges dropped by destroyers - no definite result.
1015 a.m. Troops 900 yards inland.
10.30 a.m. L.S.Ts pass our stern for shore.
10.45 a.m. Aircraft coming down in flames.
10.10 a.m. Spotting aircraft report Nip tanks approaching front line - General MacArthur arrives in "Nashville".
11.20 a.m. L.S.Ts under heavy mortar fire - 1 on fire, 5 damaged.
11.30 a.m. L.S.T. on fire now under control.
11.40 a.m. 40 Nip tanks approaching towards peninsula.
11.45 a.m. Our L.S.Ts returning - unable to land tanks - beach unsuitable.
11.50 a.m. L.S.Ts ordered to try and land tanks 500 yards further down beach.
11.55 a.m. Scheduled bombardment completed.
12 noon L.S.Ts damaged - leave beach under smoke screen.
4.07 p.m. Torpedo bomber alarm, coming in from stern.
4.10 p.m. Report cruiser of Southern Attack Force torpedoed, result unknown as yet. Pipe "on lifebelts". Think it's the USS Honolulu 6" cruiser that was hit. Weather conditions very suitable for a torpedo bomber attack; low clouds with occasional breaks - our planes have gone to investigate torpedo bomber reports.
4.15 p.m. H. Spence is counting his money and asks "How much is a single ticket to Sydney?" A cruiser hit near the bridge, lots of smoke pouring out of the superstructure.
4.30 p.m. Cruiser has a list to starboard 10 degrees and is only 7 miles from us in San Pedro Bay.
4.50 p.m. HMAS Warramunga 8 miles east of us has an ASDIC contact.
5.00 p.m. "Warramunga" is about to drop depth charge on underwater contact-sub??
5.06 p.m. No signs of enemy aircraft in vicinity, ships on our port and starboard quarters firing at them; planes not visible to us yet.
6.45 p.m. (dusk). Enemy aircraft all around us, distance from 5 to 15 miles, they are not visible as it is nice and dark - one just passed us two miles ahead (7.45p.m.).
8.30 p.m. Pipe - 8 inch quarters relax at action stations" - hell of a joke, there's 25 of us down here, and room for six to lie down. Flares and tracer during the night.
6 a.m. (21st October) - opened fire at aircraft - 2 down, not to us.
6.05 a.m. Aircraft fired on by 4" - aircraft crashes on bridge of "Australia" - on fire. "Aussie" and ourselves got this plane.
6.10 a.m. Fire on "Australia" appears to be under control - aircraft burning in water - mast over about 20 degrees.
6.15 a.m. Fire out on "Australia". Apparent damage 273 radar and ADP - correction "Australia" reports that it was a small bomb which hit her, the aircraft crashing in water close by. USS "Honolulu" hit by bomb, not torpedo, she has been beached. Wild reports from "Australia" Commodore Collins, Captain and Commander (N) besides numerous ratings killed - report not confirmed as yet. We take over flag, cyphers, etc.
9.15 a.m. Air raid Red. Many aircraft over southern end of island - 1 shot down - terrific fighting going on ashore - dive bombers, 16 Liberators just gone over. Report unconfirmed one Yank destroyer hit by fighter. Another Jap shot down over island.
9.40 a.m. All clear.
2.15 p.m. Correction to "Australia's" news - aircraft did crash foremast near tripod, damage as mentioned, casualties confirmed; Captain and Commander (Navigator) and 8 ratings killed - Commodore Collins severe burns arms and face also shock. 65 other casualties, mostly burns. As plane hit superstructure it burst into flames, petrol and oil fires down from mast over bridge, etc. "Australia" sailed at approx. 2.30 p.m. Afternoon quiet for us so far.
4.30 p.m. Plenty action ashore, expect air raids at dusk, bad visibility for us. Report during the afternoon that the troops have occupied the three towns, also air strip.
4.50 p.m. Air raid Red. "Australia" and "Honolulu" proceeding for repairs report they are being attacked and request fighter support.
5.00 p.m. All clear. Air raid Red from Southern Attack Force, torpedo bombers being attacked by our fighters over southern end of island.
5.10 p.m. It's off. Correction - our troops have only occupied the town of Palo, and airstrip not taken as yet - entered Palo at 1400 today. "Australia" and "Honolulu" air cover arrived in time. L.S.Ts have all landed, their tanks are now returning to their bases.
6.30 p.m. Close up - dusk. Numerous enemy planes around - torpedo bombers - as these planes come in very low over the hills and only about 6 degrees above the water, a smoke screen has been laid by various ships around and we have sailed into the protective screen of smoke.
7.00 p.m. Quite a lot of tracer and bofors fire going up in various areas.
12.20 a.m. Air raid Red. I had the middle watch.
6.50 a.m. Air raid Red. One enemy aircraft made a pass at us. Our 4 inch opened up and drove him off.
7.40 a.m. Air raid Red from Southern attack force.
7.55 a.m. All clear.
6.30 p.m. Air raid Red. We have put to sea on patrol.
6.45 p.m. Numerous enemy aircraft around our force - opened fire - one plane hit and on fire, has been burning for some time now, gradually losing height, burning brightly now - he's disappeared. During the afternoon a very large convoy of troops arrived. Dive bombing Jap positions, also occasional naval bombardment - single ships. A canoe with three Filipinos in came alongside, one of the lads went to throw them down two tins of fruit, and they commenced to paddle away - apparently they thought it was a booby trap, but they came back when our two boys lowered the tins in a box, down to water level.
7.00 p.m. Enemy aircraft still around.
8.30 p.m. All clear.
Early this morning USS "Russell" (destroyer) was sent to intercept barges coming from a nearby island to Leyte. It opened up with starshell (5 inch) and everything else - no barges made the trip. At Action Stations this morning, groups of enemy aircraft all around. One flew right over us and was gone before we saw him. Both Southern and Northern attack forces were throwing up quite a lot of tracer - no results. All Clear about 7.15 a.m. Large crowds of Filipinos can be seen on the beaches (through glasses) apparently coming down from the hills to avoid being caught in the fighting.
5.00 p.m. Closed up for bombardment - moved into 3,000 yards and let go a few 8 inch.
6.10 p.m. Yank destroyer just passing us being towed by a tug - destroyer down by stern. Hands to supper.
6.15 p.m. Action alarm - 2 enemy aircraft came over and dived through a hell of a lot of flak, headed towards shore low down, then turned and headed towards us but veered off over to Southern attack force. Flak everywhere. Considering the number of ships here - boy! That's a hell of a lot of flak.
6.30 p.m. Have 5 bogeys reported at different distances and bearings, have just picked up a group of bogeys on screen at 7 miles and coming towards us - four different groups coming towards us from each quarter, time 6.55 p.m. Report - our fighters are in the vicinity. We have increased speed to 20 knots.
6.40 p.m. Bogeys have faded. It's just on dusk, but bright moonlight and clouds on horizon.
7.00 p.m. Bogey coming up our stern fair way off, has dropped a flare.
Incidentally there was a dance held in Palo last night - "Ball of Liberation".
8.00 a.m. Closed up for bombardment.
8.05 a.m. Air Raid Red - 6 groups enemy aircraft all directions - our fighters intercepting. 4 enemy aircraft (bombers) going down in flames, couple of bombers over us - 3 bombs dropped 500 yards on port beam - another 200 yards ahead - these blokes must have come in very high - can't see them. Plenty flak, more enemy aircraft coming in - time 8.30 a.m. Group of 20 planes at about 20 miles bearing 130 degrees (Radar) - alarm 4 aircraft, height 2,000 feet, open fire 8.35 a.m. Port 4" having a lash, plane turned away. Stick of bombs dropped astern of destroyer near us. One that had a go at us was a Zeke (Zero). 10 waves coming in Port side - nearest wave 15 miles. 18 to 20 planes port bow. Quite candidly these enemy aircraft aren't worrying me, but by hell these hickies are - they're that blasted itchy. Planes have turned away.
8.45 a.m. Oh! Oh! Here they come again - port side - "Betty's", large bombers these, carry torpedoes, etc., 2 in flames, another crashed into tanker. Alarm port - aircraft, height 2,000, speed 200 m.p.h. Tanker is well on fire now.
8.50 a.m. She only came in this morning - a large fleet tanker - looks like Guy Fawke's Night. Cruiser and "Arunta" laying a smoke screen - belay tanker, it's a large L.S.T. - flames 100 feet in air, it's close inshore and would be loaded with tanks, petrol, swatties, etc., time 8.55 a.m. 3 groups coming in astern, port beam and port bow, distance about 30 miles (Radar), 9 miles on port quarter nearest group.
9.00 a.m. 2 groups port and starboard bow, nine miles. We believe that all these planes are coming from Luzon about 300 miles North of us.
9.15. a.m. No further reports of enemy aircraft at the moment, all we have on screen is one group returning to Luzon, distance 80 miles.
9.30 a.m. Screen clear.
9.35 a.m. Large group of bogeys at 50 miles - closing.
10.00 a.m. L.S.T. has just sunk. Our losses in aircraft are 1 down, and 1 badly damaged - managed to land.
11.00 a.m. Latest reports lost 7 fighters in raids this morning, Japs 19. Estimated 120 bombers came over altogether. Have bogeys on screen distance 60 miles closing.
11.05 a.m. 3 groups approaching, 40, 35, and 30 miles. Air Raid Red just received.
11.15 a.m. 7 groups now, one mixing it with our fighters.
11.20 a.m. Smoke floats being dropped all over the Bay. We are proceeding out to sea a little way with tankers to oil, smoke everywhere, we are also making smoke, and dropping floats. Latest air raid 2 for 18. We have 2 tankers, 3 battleships, several cruisers and numerous destroyers waiting to oil, smoke everywhere, more tankers, we are circling.
12.25 p.m. Another enemy aircraft shot down. Have been closed up for 8 hours so far and no dinner yet! Lots of enemy aircraft still around.
12.30 p.m. Our fighters have just intercepted another enemy group 30 miles ahead of us. Temperature 96 degrees.
3.45 p.m. We are alongside oiler. About 8 or 9 oilers altogether with battlers, cruisers and destroyers tied up alongside - others patrolling around us. Action alarm. 3.50 p.m. all clear. Looks like we all have a date tonight - a reliable report of a Jap fleet of 3 battlers, 2 carriers, cruisers and destroyers coming down through straits, central Philippines, 3rd and 5th Army Air Force have already been detailed to have a crack at them. Well, we'll see how things go.
6.00 p.m. Well, here we go. Our force consists of 6 battle wagons, 8 cruisers, 21 destroyers and 30 P.T. boats (Cruisers 3 x 8", 5 x 6"). Correction - Jap fleet consists of 2 battlers, 4 heavy cruisers, and approx. 16 destroyers. They were sighted west of Mindanao and a little south of Leyte Island and headed for Surigao Straits - no results of Air Force strikes have been received as yet. The P.T. boats should be waiting around entrance of straits. Jap fleet report came from allied sub. Report - our carrier strike claim two bombs on each battler, 1 heavy cruiser and 2 destroyers, and have heavily strafed the rest of the destroyers. Enemy aircraft around us now.
7.00 p.m. Battlers have opened up, but it's dark now and can't see anything. Leading line of our destroyers have opened fire on our starboard bow - time 7.03 p.m.
12.30 a.m. Radar picked up at 10 miles, enemy force of 3 destroyers and 2 heavier units - they turned and ran, we did not open fire or chase, we suspected a trick to draw us away from the straits.
2.10 a.m. Firing going on about 30 miles south of us, it is suspected to be our P.T. boats engaging the enemy.
2.45 a.m. Report that enemy have broken through P.T. boats, and are proceeding up the Strait towards us. Action alarm has just sounded.
2.55 a.m. Picked up on Radar at 28,000 yards. Our destroyer screen has been ordered in to attack. P.T.Bs still attacking. Searchlights seen over the horizon, apparently searching for the P.T.Bs. - 3.10 a.m.
3.11 a.m. Destroyers have just fired starshell and let go their fish (Torpedoes).
3.15 a.m. Destroyers report that there may be 5 ships there, 2 of which have slowed down, apparently hit.
3.19 a.m. Destroyers report that they scored a hit on a big ship. Saw the flash from here at approx. 16 miles distant.
3.21 a.m. HMAS "Arunta" going in now. Destroyers going in one at a time. One of the enemy is illuminated and is making smoke. Our speed at present (3.35 a.m.) is 15 knots.
3.45 a.m. A large flash on our starboard bearing - a few starshells around.
3.46 a.m. From Destroyer 124 - "Have one skunk dead in the water, we are going in to present our skunk with 5 fish".
3.50 a.m. Our Battlers are about to open fire - cruisers ordered to stand by to open fire.
3.51 a.m. Battlers firing - 2 hits scored.
3.55 a.m. Enemy now firing on our force - we have opened fire - "Broadsides".
3.59 a.m. One of our Battlers has been straddled.
4.01 a.m. "Straddle".
4.08 a.m. "Commence, Commence, Commence", 32 broadsides - target was a Battler, she's burning brightly - revenge for HMAS "Canberra".
4.10 a.m. All ships have ceased fire now, compass gyro 160 degrees, Red 110 degrees, very big explosion at 4.15 a.m.
4.19 a.m. Opening fire again.
4.24 a.m. The battleship we hammered is below the horizon with explosions coming from her. Quite a few went over us, but no hits sustained. We did not open fire again at 4.19 a.m.
4.45 a.m. Received instructions to open fire if we get in range of enemy. 214 rounds of 8" HE fired during action. "Arunta" sneaked in very close to have a go but was ordered by our battlers to beat it or be sunk also. This particular action lasted approx. 2 hours. Report: Approx. 4 enemy broadsides passed over our heads. Report: Saw by light of our cruiser's gun flashes enemy shells straddling our battlers. 8" HE fall of shot.
5.00 a.m. Bogeys reported at 30, 40 and 50 miles. Air Raid Red 5.05 a.m.
5.17 a.m. We are now steaming at 25 knots towards burning ship, it is on the horizon and it looks as though we have to go in and finish her off.
5.20 a.m. Tactical Plot reports we are chasing 4 enemy ships. The battler is a mass of flames, report 2 more enemy ships coming up straits.
5.25 a.m. Something alongside battler just fired.
5.30 a.m. Have picked up on P.T.B. frequency "suspect three cruisers coming up straits".
5.35 a.m. Battleship almost submerged - cruiser to her right on fire and cruiser on her left has just blown up. Left hand cruiser nearly gone, right hand cruiser burning brightly and being fired on by our battlers.
5.37 a.m. Our fleet 15" bricks (tracer shells) can be seen going all the way to the target over horizon, cruisers have also opened up.
5.40 a.m. We are turning 180 degrees, 15" have been told to cease fire.
5.43 a.m. Enemy aircraft over to observe result of night's work - hope they like it.
5.45 a.m. We are proceeding back North at high speed (26 knots), apparently suspect some ships may have sneaked up behind us and headed for San Pedro to attack our transports.
6.00 a.m. Dawn is just breaking and at least 3 ships are suspected to be ahead of us.
6.10 a.m. Report re enemy ships ahead of us is false.
6.11 a.m. Report: Casualties on our side are 1 destroyer damaged, a large number of casualties on board. Report: some of our destroyers are amongst Jap survivors and have been instructed to pick them up. No reports of losses of our M.T.Bs as yet.
6.30 a.m. Our destroyers report that Japs refuse to take lines to be pulled aboard. We have turned 180 degrees and are now returning to scene of action. Admiral Kincaid, Commander-in-Chief of Naval Forces has just sent a signal to the Commander of our Task Force - "Top of the morning to you and your Naval Cohorts and well done". Report that there are approx. 3 burning ships by 6.45 a.m.
6.50 a.m. All clear.
7.18 a.m. A Jap destroyer which was standing by burning ships is being fired on by destroyers and cruisers.
7.22 a.m. Jap destroyer blown up. Report 15 miles south of Taynian Island 2 battleships, 3 heavy cruisers and 4 destroyers and one three stacker, 110 miles north-east 2 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers and unknown number of destroyers also 3 cruisers and 6 destroyers east of Leyte. We are after the latter at the moment, speed 28 knots.
7.50 a.m. Report: Fighter airstrip at back of Tacloban is in our hands and our fighters are on it.
7.50 a.m. There is a scrap on just east of Leyte Gulf and our carriers are attacking - we are going up to help. In the Surigao Strait battle we sunk 1 battleship, 2 cruisers and 2 destroyers. Correction: - our carriers east of Leyte Gulf are being attacked by 1 battleship, 2 cruisers and destroyers - they are 100 miles from where we are and we are steaming at 28 knots towards them. Re Jap survivors, only three would come aboard and we left the others in the drink. Jap shore batteries opened fire on our returning M.T.Bs.
8.00 a.m. Air Raid Red - we are running into a 35 knot wind.
8.10 a.m. We have now joined up with some of the battlers that were with us last night.
8.15 am. Destroyers opened fire on enemy aircraft which dropped a stick of bombs near our battlers.
8.15 a.m. Have cleared guns of S.A.P.C., loading H.E. barrage - 15 dive bombers have been sighted.
8.17 a.m. "Pennsylvania" just brought down 3 dive bombers. Report: Fighter pilot requests permission to strafe Japs in water.
8.24 a.m. Further reports of 4 battleships, 8 cruisers and destroyers and smaller ships - this apparently comprises the butt of the Jap fleet.
8.33 a.m. Now in centre of Leyte Gulf and have taken up position with our battleships - we are sailing West to get position.
8.33 a.m. It looks as though we are stooging around Leyte Gulf to cover the landing area. Torpedo bombers coming in to attack Jap fleet, we think, from the Central West Pacific Force which are further north of the main Jap force.
8.36 a.m. Yank destroyer, which received hits in the centre of our force, has a bad list and steering is bad.
8.37 a.m. Torpedo bombers attacking main enemy force.
8.44 a.m. Report that our fighters are refueling on Tacloban air field.
11.20 a.m. 3 enemy aircraft, bombers, over, 1 bomb has fallen near us, 1 plane down from ack ack.
12.40 p.m. Bogeys between 7 and 10 miles on port beam have been identified as ships.
12.48 p.m. All Clear.
2.25 p.m. 2nd degree. Report that the large Jap force north of us and between Admiral Halsey's force are trying to escape by making the straits North of Samar Island (next to Leyte). Halsey is coming down to try and intercept them. Tonight, so far as we know, we will stooge around the entrance to Leyte Gulf. Our force at present consists of 3 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 2 cruisers, and 40 destroyers, and we are being joined by another three battleships, cruisers and destroyers; in all our force for tonight will consist of something like 6 battlers, 12 cruisers, and approx. 60 to 70 destroyers. Report that English fleet or carrier based planes blew up two battleships and damaged 4 cruisers off Singapore.
8.23 p.m. Report - suspect enemy warships 15 miles ahead of us - we have reduced speed to 7 knots.
8.50 p.m. Ships reported as friendly - 2 frigates.
8.27 a.m. Air Raid Red - USS "Phoenix" opened fire. The battleship that has sunk was either the Yamashiro or Y class. Aircraft in sight - speed 200.
8.50 a.m. Opened fire, sneaked in across our stern just over "Phoenix" - here's another. We picked up the battleship at 32,000 yards - Radar followed them down and opened fire at about 15 to 16,000 yards. Enemy speed was 19 knots, 15, 10, and then stopped as she was repeatedly hit. Particulars - His Imperial Majesty's Japanese ships Fuso and Yamashiro - 30,000 tons (BBs), length 673 feet, 94 feet beam, 28 feet draught, side armour was 12", turret armour 12", had 12 x 14" guns (6 twin), 16 x 6", 8 x 5" A.A. twins, 1 catapult and three aircraft, 2 inch deck and 8 inch armour over vitals.
9.08 a.m. Our fighters are now mixing it with bogeys on our starboard beam. Bogeys all around at various distances.
9.20 a.m. Battler 5 miles away just opened up. Lot of cloud around.
9.33 a.m. All Clear.
10.22 a.m. Air Raid Red. "Blue Ridge" reports 2 shot down over transport area. Bogeys all around.
10.40 a.m. All Clear.
10.45 a.m. Report - during the last hour our fighters have 5 certain kills and 2 probables.
1.30 p.m. Air Raid Red.
1.37 p.m. All Clear - Wouldn't it?
6.15 p.m. Air Raid Red. 6.35 one down. 6.40 another down. Our troops have advanced 20 miles. Tanuan liberated. Japs lost 65 planes on Tuesday. Fantastic claims by Japs at Leyte Gulf (Surigao Straits battle).
6.55 p.m. Another one down right astern.
7.00 p.m. And another one down.
7.05 p.m. Several explosions over transport area, don't know what they are. Raid 4 miles astern of us, and coming towards us - it is now dusk.
7.10 p.m. Aircraft passed right overhead.
7.45 p.m. All clear.
7.48 p.m. We have just shot down a twin-engined torpedo bomber which flew over us at mast height (close range weapons). Quite a lot of stuff came over us from other ships - lot of ducking on deck.
8.58 p.m. One torpedo track just astern of "Nashville" and ahead of us. Closed up again immediately. It has been like this ever since we got here - really has been one continuous air raid.
8.56 p.m. Submarine contact - destroyer going in to drop depth charges.
9.00 p.m. Destroyer lost contact.
9.05 p.m. Found contact again and dropping a lot of charges.
5.30 a.m. During the night we received orders to proceed north and join the carrier force (18 carriers), Nashville, Phoenix, Boise and Shropshire with one destroyer.
6.40 a.m. Carrier force is about 20 miles ahead of us. Passed 6 carriers about 10.40 a.m. Nashville and Boise left us and picked them up. We picked up 2 carriers and destroyer about 11.15 a.m.
1.40 p.m. Air Raid Alarm - our fighters have taken off - 1 enemy plane shot down.
1.43 p.m. Dog fights going on in vicinity of heavy thunderstorms, lightning, etc.
2.20 p.m. Fall out. More bogeys during afternoon.
4.00 p.m. One plane coming in to land on carrier missed retaining ropes, bounced, pushed another into drink (which the ship ran over) and he turned upside down on flightdeck.
7.30 a.m. More bogeys - our fighters have taken off and are mixing it with them. Early this morning two more carriers and a destroyer joined our force. They had been well out to sea for refueling.
3.45 p.m. More bogeys. Our fighters have taken off to intercept. Depth charges dropped during the afternoon about 2.30 p.m. and again at 2.50 p.m. Our force now consists of 2 cruisers, 10 destroyers and 4 carriers. We are now 90 miles east of Leyte Gulf - time 6.15 p.m. Aircraft still landing on carriers just on dusk. 5 minutes ago a plane came in with wheels down and carriers opened fire on it, signals were made by aircraft - one of ours. When first lot of charges were dropped at 2.30 p.m. the force put on speed and cleared area - 2 destroyers went back and dropped more charges at 2.50 p.m. and after a while oil and wreckage appeared on the surface - it (sub) was presumed destroyed.
7.20 a.m. Air Raid Red. Bogey closed to 4 miles and then opened and we picked up a friendly aircraft 1 mile astern of him - he has now opened to 20 miles. During the night we left the carriers (Shropshire and 4 destroyers) - think we are going to Leyte to refuel.
7.38 a.m. All clear. Arrived at Leyte Gulf at approximately 10.45 a.m. - did not refuel. A few air raids during the afternoon - bad visibility. Left Leyte approximately 6 p.m. It's rumoured that we are sailing down through Surigao Straits and around the South end of Leyte Island. Our force consists of 3 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers and 12 destroyers - offensive sweep. It is also rumoured Admiral Halsey is sailing through San Bernadino Strait north of Samar Island and then coming south to meet us. Rumour at 7 p.m. that a 50 knot gale is approaching us. Report - last night's news reports that U.S. troops have occupied Samar Island. Well, the gale reached us about 11 p.m. - threw the ship about a bit.
7.30 a.m. Arrived back at Leyte Gulf.
10.45 a.m. Air Raid Red. Closed up. Bogeys over northern and southern landing areas.
11.00 a.m. All Clear.
1.45 p.m. 2 groups enemy aircraft approaching - Air Raid Red - distance 30 miles.
2 p.m. Another bogey - distance 24 miles. This bogey has now closed to 10 miles - "All turrets with barrage shell load".
2.18 p.m. All Clear.
3.05 p.m. More "bogeys".
3.15 p.m. All Clear.
6.30 p.m. Closed up - Air Raid Red.
6.40 p.m. Pipe - "As it is a bright moonlight night, and will be all night, we may expect some fun, therefore there will be no restriction on 8" barrage". Well, we'll see.
7.00 p.m. All Clear.
7.20 p.m. Here they come again - over transport area - distance 20 miles. A bloody nuisance these fellers, I was down in the bathroom covered with soap and water when the action alarm went.
7.30 p.m. All Clear.
8.45 p.m. Air Raid Red.
9.05 p.m. All Clear. Buzz - during the first watch, 2 torpedoes passed us - not confirmed.
5.30 a.m. Hands close up - dawn phase.
3.45 p.m. Air Raid Red. All Clear 4 p.m.
4.30 p.m. Air Raid Red. 3 large groups of Bogeys - distance 20 miles - supper at action stations.
6.30 p.m. Air Raid Red. Bogey 10 miles distant - low down.
6.50 p.m. Enemy aircraft over transport area - 2 shot down. Huge red glow from transport area - apparently something has been hit.
7.00 p.m. All clear. "Hands to sleep at action stations" at 8.30 p.m. This is getting bloody boring - I must remember to write out my resignation again tomorrow!
8.12 p.m. Air Raid Red - enemy aircraft distant 6 miles. It's almost as light as day because the moon is so full, which naturally makes us a splendid target.
3.00 a.m. Still closed up. Bogeys 3 miles distant and a destroyer on our port bow has opened fire.
3.25 a.m. All Clear.
5.30 a.m. Dawn phase.
9.35 a.m. Air Raid Red - distant 20 miles - 3 groups of enemy planes.
9.40 a.m. Have now closed to 8 miles.
9.45 a.m. Open fire 4 inch, Bofors, Oerlikons plane off port bow. Enemy aircraft crash-dived a destroyer. No. 10 Oerlikon reports "X" barrage sight fired with right gun and the blast turned the aircraft away from our ship.
9.48 a.m. Report from "A" turret - 3 in drink.
9.52 a.m. Report - left of "Y" was fired by director as barrage sight did not pick aircraft up, but right of "Y" was fired by automatic barrage unit.
9.55 a.m. 4" and Bofors have opened up again - bogeys all around us.
9.59 a.m. Report - the enemy aircraft landed on the after stack of the destroyer. No. 10 reports - the "Val" (dive bomber) that went for us dropped her bombs near a destroyer which now has a list.
10.05 a.m. Enemy aircraft in immediate vicinity - the last attack was carried out by single and twin-engine bombers, coming in from all directions at the same time.
10.06 a.m. Alarm port - enemy aircraft, height 8,000, speed 220 knots.
10.07 a.m. Enemy aircraft turning away.
10.09 a.m. Enemy aircraft coming towards us port side, 4" firing, enemy aircraft diving - has turned away.
10.12 a.m. Destroyer now has no stacks at all - is not on fire. Alarm port - speed 220 - still plenty of enemy aircraft about.
10.25 a.m. Destroyer on starboard beam has opened fire. 2 groups of enemy aircraft at 7 miles.
10.26 a.m. Radar "281" has bogeys right ahead. Another bunch at 11 miles, closing us. Bogeys in all directions.
10.35 a.m. Our fighters have intercepted.
10.37 a.m. Report - After Bofors out of ammunition - arrangements made for supply.
10.40 a.m. Report - Another destroyer hit on bridge, USS Claxton. That makes 3 of our destroyers damaged so far. The plane that damaged "Ammen" hit her after stack and fell into the drink in flames. Our patrol destroyers outside have been well done over.
10.45 a.m. The enemy aircraft that had a go at us turned away and had a lash at a destroyer but hit her and bounced into the drink. It was a twin-engined bomber, a "Fran".
10.48 a.m. Destroyer "Bush" on patrol outside reports that she is under attack by enemy aircraft.
11.02 a.m. We now have fighter cover, and "Bush" reports she has shot down a "Val", single engine bomber. Our fighter cover is 12 Lightnings.
11.30 a.m. Sighted a rubber dinghy 1.5 miles ahead - somebody in it. We have now passed dinghy.
1.35 p.m. Air Raid Red - bogey 10 miles orbiting, another aircraft has crash-dived a destroyer. The destroyer was the USS "Abner Read" and is now badly afire amidships.
1.50 p.m. A very big explosion just occurred on the "Abner Read" - (probably her magazines), and she appears to be sinking stern first, and some of her crew have bailed out. Report - "Our fighters were up but the bogeys got through them." The "Abner Read" is well afire. A lot of magazine fires are occurring and survivors are being picked up out of the water.
1.58 p.m. Bogeys 15 miles orbiting.
1.59 p.m. 4" opened fire at aircraft 6 miles closing. That bastard took a direct hit, and hit the drink. He was coming down in a 20 degree dive to crash a destroyer. Comment - The way the Nips seem to be attacking our destroyers very, very strongly indicates submarine attacks in the near future. "Abner Read" is still afloat.
2.05 p.m. Our battlers are firing into the water - they have apparently sighted torpedoes.
2.10 p.m. "Abner Read" has rolled over and the end is very near. Official Control: When she was hit she fired her fish, one of which passed under "Arunta" and was heading for one of the battlers. "Abner Read" sank at 2.12 p.m. leaving a large patch of burning oil on the water.
3.55 p.m. Enemy aircraft 15 miles distant. News report from Tokyo Radio - They claim that they have 2,000 suicide pilots with which they intend to attack the enemy (allied) ships in Leyte Gulf. - Still closed up.
5.00 p.m. Action scran again.
5.18 p.m. Air Raid Red - Enemy aircraft distant 15 miles.
5.35 p.m. Hands carry on with scran.
5.40 p.m. No scran yet. Another bloody Air Raid Red - distant 5 miles - and flying low.
7.00 p.m. Another of our destroyers, USS "Andersen" has just been crashed by suicide plane.
7.40 p.m. Bogey on starboard bow - distant 12 miles. Air Raid Red.
7.47 p.m. Bogey now 6 miles distant. Report of Jap force consisting of 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers and destroyers proceeding south to Leyte Gulf. We are now apparently going out to intercept them. Our force consists of 3 battleships, 1 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers and 14 destroyers.
7.50 p.m. Destroyer on our right flank attacked by enemy aircraft - no results as yet. Our battle formation approximately as hereunder:
Extreme left flank 7 Destroyers
Left flank USS Phoenix - 15 x 6" guns.
HMAS Shropshire - 8 x 8" guns.
Centre Battler - 12 x 14" guns.
USS California - 12 x 14" guns.
USS Mississippi - 12 x 14" guns.
Right flank USS Nashville - 15 x 6" guns.
USS Boise - 15 x 6" guns.
Extreme right flank 7 Destroyers
8.10 p.m. Bogey on port quarter 5 miles closing - was fired on by destroyers and buzzed off.
8.12 p.m. "Phoenix" opened up at something on our port bow, couldn't see anything ourselves. Our speed has dropped to 26 knots, about 25 minutes ago to 4 knots, so apparently the Jap task force report was only a buzz.
8.50 p.m. Well, maybe it ain't just a buzz after all. The Captain has just spoken to us over the speaker system and he said: "It looks as though we'll have a busy night tonight, with aircraft hanging around our ears, and tomorrow we'll probably have to sink some more Jap battleships." Hell, what a day, we've been closed up all day.
9 p.m. All Clear.
12.55 a.m. Air Raid Red - Action Stations.
1.11 a.m. All Clear.
5.45 a.m. Bogey at 12 miles closing.
5.50 a.m. Skipper has just told us that he thinks we'll have fighter cover during the day, and if the surface action with Jap task force does not occur before midday today, it's off, as we have another of our task forces in the vicinity and ready to jump at the enemy with us.
6.00 a.m. Bogey 9 miles closing - now 7 miles.
6.03 a.m. One of our destroyers screen opened fire on him and he has turned away.
6.35 a.m. All clear.
7.15 a.m. Buzz - another of our destroyers outside hit by fish from torpedo boat - not confirmed as yet.
7.45 a.m. Air Raid Red - 9 miles - our fighter cover intercepting.
7.50 a.m. Enemy aircraft going away pursued by our fighters.
8.55 a.m. Our fighters have just shot down two enemy aircraft over Ormoe Bay, 30 miles away from our landing beaches, opposite side of island. Our Third Fleet is only 80 miles away and our Third Fleet Carrier Force about 100 miles. Japs have landed a force at Ormoe Bay - numbers unknown. This landing will be a snag to our forces - we are unable to contact their surface forces because the landing beach can be well protected by subs, mines, etc. This means that our carrier force will have to strike hard and heavy - this news came from the Captain. Landing force is supposed to consist of 4 large transports and L.C.I.s escorted by usual battle fleet.
5.40 p.m. Air Raid Red - 3 enemy aircraft in sight.
5.50 p.m. Enemy aircraft have left.
6.00 p.m. Message from Control - "If a surface action takes place, we are to engage the third target from the right" - Must be something cooking.
6.07 p.m. 1 large group of enemy aircraft at 26 miles and closing.
6.08 p.m. This large group now looks like Mitchell bombers and are astern of us - but as yet have not given us I.F.F.
6.11 p.m. Ack Ack going up from a ship on our starboard at 16 miles.
6.28 p.m. All clear.
6.53 p.m. Several groups of aircraft coming in - distant 26 miles and closing. Although we have been provided with fighter cover during the day we have no night fighter cover yet. The nearest group have now closed to 18 miles and are suspected to be torpedo bombers.
6.57 p.m. Now at 14 miles.
6.57 1/2 p.m. Nearest bogey at 12 miles closing. We now have bogeys on either bow and the nearest is 10 miles. 6.59 p.m. - Now at 7 miles. We expect to open fire any minute now.
7.00 p.m. Some of those bogeys have passed down our starboard bow, distant 4 miles. They have opened up to 9 miles and have turned around again.
7.10 p.m. No enemy aircraft in immediate vicinity.
7.15 p.m. Stacks of bogeys all around us distant 30 to 60 miles orbiting, apparently waiting for an opportunity to come in and have a lash at us.
7.20 p.m. The last group came in pretty close and took up ideal positions for an attack and then turned away again and vanished.
7.28 p.m. "Hands relax at Action Stations.".
7.40 p.m. All Clear.
8.17 p.m. She's on again - Air Raid Red. Tracer going up ahead of us.
8.25 p.m. Bogeys on starboard beam at 9 miles. Report - "Only 60 survivors out of 280 to 300 picked up from "Abner Read". Moon has just risen - full - it's almost as bright as day with clouds all around the horizon. Ideal for aircraft attacks.
8.28 p.m. Bogey has opened to 28 miles.
8.34 p.m. Warning of a gale received.
8.42 p.m. Report from destroyer that opened up on aircraft, that he was diving and kept on diving and is claimed as a probable, although we didn't see him crash - or for that matter we didn't see him at all. The Captain spoke to us again at 7.45 p.m. and said that it appeared from observation that the Japs on the other side of the Island of Ormoe appear to be evacuating their troops and not landing them as we thought early this morning.
9.25 p.m. All clear.
5.30 a.m. Dawn phase.
10.30 a.m. Went alongside Fleet Tanker at Tacloban and the Filipinos came alongside in their outrigger canoes and did quite a lot of bartering. I swapped a very chatty singlet for two 50 centavo notes - Japanese occupation money, and 7 Filipino half-pennies. Left the oiler and proceeded to join up with our half of the Seventh Fleet in the Gulf at approximately 6.30 p.m.
6.45 p.m. Pretty quiet at the moment with no bogeys around and we still have our fighter cover. Ammunitioned ship today. Lots of aircraft around, fighters, bombers; transports near peninsula near Tacloban. Only one bogey during the night.
Very quiet - nothing doing at all - battlers and cruisers oiled - rest of the fleet in a circle around oilers and ships being oiled.
7.00 p.m. Our night fighter cover consisting of one Black Widow is overhead. The Black Widow is a modified version of the single seater Lightning P38, but the Widow is a two seater job.
A very quiet night - went alongside ammunition ship at 8.20 a.m. and finished ammunitioning at 4.30 p.m.
Skipper told us that a Division of Japs is suspected of having landed on Leyte on opposite side of Island to us. Buzz that "Warramunga" arrives Saturday or Sunday with our mail. The Captain gave the following percentage of losses to Jap fleet since 4 October: Battleships - 22 to 55%; Fleet Carriers - 27 to 45%; Escort Carriers - 25%; Heavy Cruisers - 21 to 56%; light cruisers 30 to 80% and destroyers 22%, all of which totals to approximately one third of the Japanese fleet. Our own losses were not quoted but to use the Captain's own words: "They amount to a mere flea bite, or a mild dose of prickly heat." The Captain also told us not to make any reference in our letters to the Japanese suicide pilots for security reasons.
6.30 p.m. Have had a few days and nights of peace but we now have a bogey 10 miles distant. One just passed overhead.
7.20 p.m. All clear.
8.50 p.m. Air Raid Red. Enemy aircraft closed to 4 miles and there are lots more around. Plenty for all (joke)!
8.54 p.m. Enemy aircraft has opened to 12 miles, and there appears to be a lot more around - looks like a busy night tonight.
9.00 p.m. The Southern Force appears to be getting quite a bit of attention from the Nips, they have searchlights there now, and they are weaving across the sky on the Jap planes and there's a hell of a lot of ack ack going up now.
9.03 p.m. One bogey has passed through Southern Force and is now closing on us at 6 miles and there is yet another on our starboard bow at 6 miles and another on the port bow flying very low. Lots of bogeys around at 8 to 10 miles, another at 3 miles astern of us, 2 more at 11 miles distance, 1 at 10 miles and 1 at 4 miles all closing us. It's very dark and apparently they can't see us yet, they just seem to be missing our force and passing down both sides.
9.35 p.m. A ship on our starboard bow has opened fire at a bogey distant 8 miles.
9.40 p.m. A destroyer on our starboard bow and a lot of ships of our force have opened up now.
9.41 p.m. Ships have stopped firing now and we can't locate the bogey. He apparently turned away after being fired at, and has now opened to 12 miles.
9.45 p.m. Our destroyers have opened fire at enemy aircraft 4 miles away. All these bogeys are low flying and usually get in to about 8 miles before being detected.
9.50 p.m. Things have quietened down now.
10.10 p.m. All Clear.
7.05 a.m. Air Raid Red. Air cover patrol report a group of 50 enemy aircraft 25 miles away.
7.10 a.m. Have lost sight of the bogeys.
7.15 a.m. Two very large groups of aircraft distance 25 miles to the south appear to be flying N.E.
7.20 a.m. Report - "Yesterday our Carrier borne aircraft attacked enemy shipping in Ormoe Bay and sunk 4 transports and 4 out of 5 destroyers".
7.30 a.m. All Clear.
8.40 a.m. Air Raid Red alert distant 5 to 10 miles - 4 down to our fighters. More of our fighters have been sent to intercept.
8.55 a.m. Bogeys on our starboard beam at 12 miles closing - our fighters have missed them - they have closed to 6 miles.
9.03 a.m. They have flown all around us and have now opened up to 12 miles - they appear to be going away.
9.05 a.m. Another one right ahead at 5 miles - closing us.
9.15 a.m. All clear - our fighters claim 5 shot down and one probable. There have been bogeys all around us all afternoon but we did not close up as they did not come in too close. Also our fighters were mixing it with them.
6.05 p.m. Bogeys at 5 miles - closed up.
6.20 p.m. A group of enemy planes closed to 7 miles and our fighters shot a couple down. All clear.
Quiet all day.
10.50 p.m. Air Raid Red - lots of enemy aircraft in the vicinity - lots of flares being dropped - some of our ships have opened up.
11.30 p.m. All clear.
Usual bogeys at dawn and dusk, otherwise quiet.
7.05 a.m. Air Raid Red. A few bogeys around and it's raining and poor visibility as a result. Ships ahead of us opened fire on bogeys which turned out to be our own fighters.
7.40 a.m. Report - "Enemy aircraft attacking one of our Liberators 15 miles away."
7.55 a.m. All clear.
5.00 p.m. Air Raid Red - a large group of enemy aircraft approaching us. Our fighters are intercepting. We have been relieved from our patrol in Leyte Gulf and are now proceeding back to the Admiralty Islands.
7.00 p.m. Pipe - "On tin hats, anti-flash gear and lifebelts". Hell, they're at it again.
7.09 p.m. We have opened fire with our 8 inch barrage. Now other ships have also opened up.
7.10 p.m. Cease firing. The bogey is still about. That last one came in to 3000 yards and when we opened fire with our 8 inch barrage he and the rest of the bogeys beat the hell out of it, apparently.
7.40 p.m. All clear.
LUZON - LINGAYEN GULF TO MANILA
2 January - 27 February 1945
Monday 1 January 1945
Tuesday 2 January
10.00 a.m. Air Raid Red - 4 inch opened up - distant 5 miles.
12.00 p.m. Air Raid Red - everybody closed up - group of enemy aircraft at 20 miles.
12.10 p.m. U.S. ship reports that group of friendly aircraft are chasing enemy planes and have now closed with them.
12.18 p.m. Both groups appear to be going away now, distance 35 miles. Have one plane in sight - it appears to be friendly (Douglas). Report - our planes have not yet caught up with enemy planes and are about 6 miles astern of them; they appeared to merge together earlier on 8 inch quarters and barrage sights crew fallen out. 4 inch and close range remain closed up.
12.30 p.m. Another bogey picked up, so 8 inch quarters remain closed up.
12.33 p.m. Last bogey identified as friendly - revert to 3rd degree of readiness.
6.00 p.m. Dusk action stations - Air Raid Red - enemy aircraft closed to 12 miles. Now identified as friendly. At 4.30 p.m. all clocks were retarded 1 hour. Went alongside oiler in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, at 11 a.m. then moved out to "Yunnan" at 6 p.m. - ammo ship - took on 650 rounds 4 inch and Bofors, etc., also sent our fish and depth charges to her.
Cruised around all night.
8.00 a.m. Have joined fleet and are proceeding down Surigao Straits on way to Lingayen Gulf north of Manila. Our force consists of 6 battleships, heavy cruisers, 12 light cruisers, destroyers, and carriers. During the forenoon we were sighted by an enemy submarine which was attacked - result of attack not known. During the afternoon one of the old four-stack destroyers moved into the centre of the formation and fired a few shots into the water - apparently at a mine. Closed up to dusk action stations at 5.45 p.m.
7.00 p.m. Air Raid Red - 2 groups of bogeys at 12 miles - closing.
7.07 p.m. Our port after bofor and pom pom opened up at an enemy aircraft which came down in a spin and hit the drink 50 yards from our port side.
7.13 p.m. Other ships in the formation have opened fire.
7.15 p.m. Bogeys from 6 miles outwards. Things here are a little quiet at the moment.
7.18 p.m. Port side after bofor and pom pom have opened fire again - also 4 inch.
7.21 p.m. Numerous bogeys flying up and down the formation but no ships have opened fire yet.
7.27 p.m. Bogeys still around, distant 9 miles and two new groups coming in astern at 30 miles. We have a report that all our own planes are down so that definitely makes the one that crashed on our port side an enemy.
7.36 p.m. We now have only one bogey at 60 miles opening. Note: it is very dark now and making it difficult for them to see us, but when the moon comes up (and it's almost full), well, what the hell, we'll probably have some fun.
7.45 p.m. On tin hats, anti-flash gear and life jackets.
7.48 p.m. All clear.
3.40 a.m. Air Raid Red - enemy aircraft at 6 miles.
3.47 a.m. Bogeys at 5 miles and some ships have opened fire. Note: - we have passed the southern end of Negros Island (where Brenda Marshall, the film star was born), and are proceeding up the coast 20 miles off land.
4.05 a.m. All clear.
4.15 a.m. Air Raid Red - several groups of enemy aircraft distant 10-15 miles.
6.00 a.m. Closed up for dawn action.
6.40 a.m. It is now nearly light and our carriers have moved into day formation; already we have about a dozen of our fighters in the air.
6.45 a.m. We have picked up a group of bogeys approaching us, we have sent additional fighters up.
6.47 a.m. Our fighters have now engaged with the enemy at 16 miles.
6.48 a.m. One enemy aircraft has got through and is now 12 miles distant - closing. Flying low.
6.50 a.m. More of our fighters have taken to the air and are circling around us.
7.00 a.m. All clear.
11.30 a.m. Air Raid Red - large numbers of enemy aircraft in close vicinity - carrier borne fighters are taking off.
11.43 a.m. HMAS "Warramunga" has sighted a parachute coming down and is going over to investigate. 12.50 p.m. - All clear.
5.15 p.m. Air Raid Red - group of enemy aircraft high up - a bomb has dropped on a carrier and she is burning amidships. She has pulled out of the formation, and is still afloat. She is 5 miles away, and the smoke and exploding ammo can be seen. Another near miss on a carrier in our group, about the same time as the first one was hit.
5.31 p.m. Large group of bogeys 5 miles ahead.
5.33 p.m. The carrier is blazing like hell now and appears to be low in the water, a destroyer is standing by her.
5.36 p.m. "Abandon carrier" - destroyer is now picking up survivors. There is a lot of scattered cloud high up near the sun, and the bogeys are dodging around that. It's vary hard to see them.
5.50 p.m. Carrier is still afloat but is burning fiercely. This carrier was in the force ahead of us. Semirana Island is just ahead of us and we will soon be entering Mindoro Strait.
5.52 p.m. Have another bogey high up and closing and about 16 miles away.
5.54 p.m. We have opened fire and so have the carriers close to us. This plane is right overhead but cannot be seen as she's too high.
6.00 p.m. Today's joke - we have, and several other ships have, just opened fire on the star Venus, which is bright and fairly low, and looks like the glint on the metal of a plane. Groups of enemy aircraft still around and groups of friendlies are approaching us from astern and our port side.
6.06 p.m. Carrier is still afloat, and lots of splashes in water around her where her bombs, etc., are exploding.
6.17 p.m. Carrier has just blown up.
6.20 p.m. 2 bogeys coming in at Red 90, right amongst us and headed for the carriers, have turned away with a Wildcat on their tail, they are now 2,000 feet above "Arunta" which did a few quick turns. Our plane is not a Wildcat fighter but an Avenger torpedo bomber, which is chasing the Nip fighter - no wonder he can't catch him.
6.30 p.m. Pipe "All A.A. positions take care as our fighters are coming in to land - don't open fire but be very watchful as enemy planes may follow them in".
6.38 p.m. All quiet at present but have just had a warning from Mindoro Island (occupied by our troops) that more enemy bombers are on the way.
6.45 p.m. More bogeys at 20 miles on starboard beam.
6.49 p.m. A couple of destroyers are still picking up survivors from the carrier (which was hit by a suicide bomber, which crashed on it, and still has not sunk). On completion of picking up survivors the destroyers are going to stick a fish into the carrier's guts.
6.57 p.m. Several bogeys at 20 miles.
7.58 p.m. Big explosion astern of us - the carrier blowing up.
8.10 p.m. All clear.
2.45 a.m. Air Raid Red. Bogeys distant 9 miles.
3.00 a.m. Well, we have just entered the China Sea.
3.15 a.m. More bogeys.
3.25 a.m. Ships on our port beam have opened fired.
3.27 a.m. A bomb explosion - apparently something has been hit.
3.30 a.m. One enemy plane down in flames and hit the drink.
3.35 a.m. A destroyer near us has opened fire at enemy aircraft right overhead.
3.37 a.m. Two more bogeys coming in at 4 miles.
3.40 a.m. Ship near us reports low flying plane.
3.45 a.m. All clear at the moment.
5.03 p.m. We have been ordered to remain with the first force until the bogey position clears up. The Yanks as well as ourselves highly value our Radar. During the forenoon when our 281 went off the air, the Admiral sent back a message - "For God's sake hurry up and fix it, we'll be needing it". Unquote.
5.04 p.m. Bofors and pom poms opened up, also 2 salvos from 'Y' barrage sight.
5.10 p.m. We were firing right into the sun, an echo we picked up by barrage sights and we could not see anything, but a few seconds later a couple of Wildcats flew out of the sun.
5.12 p.m. A plane flying very low dodging around at the moment.
5.15 p.m. This plane has just hit one of our heavy cruisers, it's the USS "Portland" - correction - it's the USS "Louisville" and was hit on the bridge, probably with a bomb.
5.20 p.m. HMAS "Arunta" has apparently been hit, has a bad steam leak, and steering out of action.
5.22 p.m. "Arunta" has a bad list to port, and is going around in circles, she has not reported what hit her yet.
5.30 p.m. Our striking force has returned and reports that one BB is burning low in the water, no report of the other. "Arunta" has a bad list to port, and is going around in circles, she has not reported what hit her yet.
5.32 p.m. We are just passing the "Arunta"; she has stopped and another destroyer has been detailed to stand by her.
5.37 p.m. Bogeys in vicinity - everybody's getting itchy trigger fingers and ready to fire on everything, our own planes have been fired on several times. The Southern force is under attack again, and most of the ships are firing.
5.40 p.m. Latest report re destroyer ahead of us is one dead in water and two smoking badly. (I don't know where the other one came from yet!!)
5.43 p.m. Have one Val (enemy dive bomber) in sight on our port bow, distance 9 miles.
5.45 p.m. Two of our fighters are after him, height 8000, distance now 15 miles.
5.46 p.m. Our fighters have caught up with him and shot him down - "Louisville" is still with us, apparently has fire under control, damage was probably between decks as no evidence can be seen of damage on upper deck.
5.47 p.m. Group of enemy low flying aircraft flying through the formation - believe one shot down. Report "Aussie" has picked it up again, No. 2 funnel afire - I think she's all right again - plane hit drink. 'X' turret reports that they can see a large fire on the "Aussie's" No. 2 funnel - 3 of those planes were shot down, 2 got away.
5.48 p.m. There appears to be a lot of steam and smoke from the "Aussie".
5.55 p.m. Carrier has opened up on some Wildcats (our own).
5.57 p.m. Well, we've got to eat, so here goes, to hell with the war.
6.40 p.m. We have turned around and returned to South force - another carrier reported damaged.
6.45 p.m. Dusk action stations.
6.55 p.m. Bogeys 20 miles.
7.00 p.m. Have joined up with Southern force - bogeys 5 miles.
7.05 p.m. Can see "Aussie" and she appears to be O.K. Her middle funnel is opened out a bit at the top.
7.15 p.m. Groups of bogeys starboard side distance 15 miles.
8.30 p.m. All clear.
2.55 a.m. Action alarm - bogeys 6 to 15 miles. Have just felt an underwater explosion, don't know what it is yet, probably a mine somebody picked up.
3.03 a.m. Bogey 12 miles astern, orbiting.
3.08 a.m. A new bogey 9 miles ahead.
5.15 a.m. All clear - action cooks - breakfast!! Struth!! and what a fighting breakfast it is too - one bottle of tomato sauce to 4 gallons of water, and swimming around in this mess were a few thin streaks of spaghetti. If you were lucky you'd get a thin streak of spaghetti - I was unlucky. All I can say is this - "If that's what the Dago fleet has as their fighting food, no damn wonder they used to run away."
5.40 a.m. More bogeys 5 miles astern - it is still dark, but fairly moonlight.
6.40 a.m. The Captain has just spoken and said that the carrier that was damaged yesterday is O.K., and at present sending up her planes. The "Aussie" is O.K., it was a plane that crashed her middle funnel, 12 ratings lost. The "Arunta" welded up about a dozen broken steam pipes, and patched up a few holes, and once again she is O.K. and with us. The sea has been rather choppy since about 9 p.m. last night.
7.37 a.m. Bogeys 5 miles astern, hands to action stations.
7.45 a.m. Bogeys still in vicinity - one of our bofors fired at it a few minutes ago - port pom poms opened up on friendly aircraft. There is quite a bit of cloud about this morning making it hard to spot bogeys. Bombardment on San Fernando will commence approximately 9 a.m.
8.55 a.m. Now well into the Lingayen Gulf area, 20 miles from San Fernando harbour Pero Point. Our aircraft report 50 small craft in the harbour.
9.10 a.m. We are now approximately 6 miles from our bombardment station.
9.37 am. Report - "There are 30 ships in San Fernando harbour."
9.45 a.m. Message received to the effect that we will take up our bombardment position and commence opening salvos at 10.45 a.m.
10.00 a.m. All lookouts have been instructed to keep a very keen watch for enemy aircraft particularly in the sun sector and to report any suspicious aircraft immediately to the A.D.P. All ships will be doing likewise, and any reports will be signalled.
10.15 a.m. Report - Liberators bombed oil dumps early this morning, smoke and flames can be seen from where we are.
10.21 a.m. Bogeys 10 miles astern.
10.24 a.m. Gun flashes seen on the beach.
10.47 a.m. Stand by for bombardment.
10.487 a.m. Our spotting aircraft is over the target area (spotting aircraft is off "Minneapolis"). We are approximately 5 miles off coast. Spotting aircraft has spotted 5 seaplanes on beach. We are not going to fire on seaplanes yet, but on scheduled targets - the planes have probably already been hit from bombing earlier this morning.
11.00 a.m. Our spotter is having trouble with enemy aircraft.
11.01 a.m. Opened fire with 'A' turret single gun ranging salvos. Spotting reports seaplanes have been blown up also by airstrike. "Shropshire" was last ship to open fire. An enemy tanker has been fired upon and hit several times by one of our ships, but it is not afire yet, time 11.10 a.m.
11.13 a.m. 'A' turret broadside fired - our battlers have just opened fire. Our aircraft cannot pick up our fall of shot and target.
11.20 a.m. "Broadsides" - enemy plane 5 miles over water approaching us - we're giving it all we've got.
11.22 a.m. 3 more enemy aircraft port side.
11.24 a.m. A sub periscope reported a few minutes ago, but it turned out to be a red flag on a float. Result of 'A' turret firing was all on the target and a near miss on a building in the area.
11.33 a.m. Bombardment temporarily discontinued on account of an air raid on us. Numerous aircraft flying low around us. All turrets switch to barrage. Aircraft made several passes at some of our ships.
11.37 a.m. Our minesweepers can be seen at work half way between us and the shore.
11.40 a.m. Our destroyers ahead of us are being fired on by shore batteries - the destroyers are opening fire upon them.
11.42 a.m. We have been straddled by fire from shore batteries, approximately 6 inch, and we have got this position and will probably get in some counter battery fire.
11.45 a.m. Have been straddled again - 'A' and 'X' follow director, stand by to clear guns.
11.46 a.m. 'Barrage shells' - with high explosives - several other ships are firing on this shore battery as well as ourselves.
11.58 a.m. Bogey right astern of us having a fight with our destroyers.
12 noon We are firing at enemy aircraft which went past us and crashed into a battler ahead of us.
12.01 p.m. We are firing again - 4 inch, bofors, 8 inch barrage - an officer photographer is up on the 273 platform taking his movies, and when the plane came alongside, our port side, he was busy turning away at the handle, but when we opened up, he was blown of his balance, and had to quit.
12.08 p.m. Report - that destroyer was hit by plane across her stern. Battler "New Mexico" has her hoses going.
12.09 p.m. Dive bomber coming down on us, and dropped bomb near our starboard side, we felt the bump, I nearly had a baby, and a suicide dive bomber flew past bridge, and crashed into the drink on our starboard side, 300 m.p.h. - he was that close you could have touched him with your hand - a piece of the aircraft landed on the A.D.P., time now 12.15 p.m.
12.18 p.m. Turrets clear guns - we are now carrying on with bombardment - hold it - more enemy aircraft.
12.26 p.m. Has turned away.
12.29 p.m. 'Y' turret clear guns. 'Y' load with H.E. - mine sweepers are getting close inshore now, and doing a good job.
12.45 p.m. The battlers are still firing with secondary armament, 5 inch, and there's plenty of smoke and fire about on the shore. 12.49 p.m. - We are about to open fire on a new target, a gun emplacement.
12.49 p.m. Open fire.
12.56 p.m. C.C.C. report from carrier - well in the target - several guns there, he can't determine the size of them, we have now approached to within 8,000 yards of shore, and we may be firing more at same target. Must have been shooting 'cos we're shifting target. We can see more clearly now and most of our targets just out of San Fernando town are on fire and also a few buildings in the town itself.
1.05 p.m. We have just opened fire on a new target and 4 inch have also been ordered to bombard. Directors reports that there is a ship almost as large as this one, on fire in the harbour. Our target is on the East side of the Isthmus and fall of the shot can be seen well on the target. Oil dumps nearby are still on fire, huge flames and clouds of smoke. Time now 1.14 p.m.
1.17 p.m. C.C.C. 8 inch and 4 inch have opened fire on shore target.
1.30 p.m. Air Raid Red.
2.35 p.m. Opened fire with 4 inch, bofors and 8 inch gun barrage.
2.38 p.m. Stopped firing. One plane came down almost into a battler, then altered course, came for us and turned away. One crashed into the drink - think we got another.
2.55 p.m. Bogeys still around, 1 to 11 miles, we are turning south now, and are going to join up with force, making one large one.
3.12 p.m. Another group enemy aircraft astern 40 miles. When the enemy aircraft crashed alongside us earlier some of the boys on the starboard side of 4 inch gun deck were lightly sprayed with burning petrol, also No. 1 Motor-boat cover and starboard side 4 inch guns, but nobody was burnt, also bits of the plane were showered all over the starboard side of the ship. Quite a lot of pieces of duralium and other metals from the aircraft were picked up as souvenirs. I managed to get a small piece of duralium. She came in from the port bow and crossed very, very low between 'B' turret and the bridge, and crashed into the drink 10 yards from ship's side. When the shore batteries were straddling us, shells were landing on either side of us, and on the one occasion, just after we had made a turn to port, a shell landed right in our wake, close astern of us.
3.20 p.m. We are proceeding out to sea now, expecting to return later in the afternoon for another bombardment. There are lots of fires and huge clouds of smoke still going in-shore.
3.45 p.m. We are just a little south of where we bombarded yesterday, and we can see lone bomber bombing a town. Cruiser "Minneapolis" has been ordered to have spotting plane in the air by 4.00 p.m., and we will be bombarding again shortly at 24,000 yards (12 miles). Group of bogeys coming in at 54 miles. Report: - the destroyer that was hit on the stern by a zombie (S.B.) has sunk - not confirmed. Report from aircraft spotter this morning's bombardment, the last switch of target, we were firing just a few degrees left of a lighthouse, and the target was completely obliterated.
4.10 p.m. Air Raid Red - bogey coming in, opened fire, got him, another coming in near battlers.
4.28 p.m. Opened fire with bofors.
5.20 p.m. Bogey coming in behind force astern of us has just been shot down.
5.25 p.m. Bogeys approaching us low.
5.26 p.m. Opened fire - the works - all ships firing.
5.30 p.m. "Aussie" got it again amidships, middle funnel, large fire amidships starboard side. Reports - two battlers and cruiser in the other force got it - not confirmed - "Aussie" getting fire under control.
5.40 p.m. Fire seems to be under control on "Aussie" - a rumour that these bogeys are coming in using our I.F.F.
5.43 p.m. More bogeys at 17,000 feet.
5.45 p.m. Fire is out on "Aussie" and they are ditching gear over the side. Think that all of "Aussie's" 4 inch guns are out of commission, port side were put out yesterday - not confirmed yet. Most of the enemy aircraft are coming in out of the sun at 250 to 300 m.p.h. and only 10 to 15 feet above the water.
5.55 p.m. These bogeys have come around into the sun and have passed several ships.
5.58 p.m. Bogeys - 4 inch firing at them - turned away - coming in again - firing.
5.59 p.m. He's down, he's up, he's blown up, he was only a few feet above the water.
6.03 p.m. Firing again.
6.04 p.m. Stopped firing.
6.05 p.m. Another bogey 6 miles closing.
6.08 p.m. Fired a few bofor.
6.19 p.m. Bogeys 5 miles ahead. The "Aussie" is moving in between two battleships.
6.27 p.m We are still steaming north and are off Poro Point which we bombarded this morning - our fighters are around but the enemy aircraft come in so low - we've stopped one - and report that pom pom starboard side was wiped out - time 6.30 p.m. - there was a thump down there. It now appears that the enemy aircraft was diving at us on the port quarter when the port pom pom blew him in halves - one half of the plane went on either side and hit ship's side. There were two airmen and they pointed plane at ship and parachuted out at 500 feet before reaching us, and then slipped their chutes and dropped into drink. Time now 6.43 p.m. Phew! I and the rest of us down here have almost had two babies each!! That's the second near miss we've had today. "May it please God that we don't have any more - or direct hits either - Amen." Time now 6.45 p.m. Darken ship. (Roy Cazaly earned his DSM!)
6.48 p.m. Ship on port side opened fire for a while. We took in a lot of water on the upper and 4 inch gun deck when halves of plane hit drink. He dived down on us unexpected and pom pom was only unit to open fire - think port pom pom.
7.04 p.m. So far we have fired 64 x 8" bombardment, 26 x 8" barrage, and the total 4 inch up to this time is 471.
7.06 p.m. Bogey on port quarter, it's dark, can't see him.
7.08 p.m. Action cooks.
7.30 p.m. Bogeys 5 miles astern.
7.52 p.m. Two bogeys ahead approaching, distance 5 miles.
8.00 p.m. They seem to have quietened down now for a while, thank God.
8.40 p.m. Revert to 2nd. degree. Latest information re plane which dived at us - she came in on our port quarter at an angle of approximately. 60 degrees, port pom pom and Nos 10 and 12 bogors opened fired and blew her in half, the halves plunging into the drink on either side of the ship. When she blew apart, two airmen were thrown out of her, one opened up his chute and drifted into the drink, they other slipped his chute and apparently was caught by the plane, everything happened so quickly that some of the details vary according to different eye-witnesses. One very early report was that they were dropping mines by parachute. When she hit the drink, the whole of the upper deck and superstructure as high as the A.D.P. and director were deluged with water, apparently the ship's side was not hit, and the hell of a thump we felt was the concussion when she hit the drink. Well! All's well that ends well. Time now 9.15 p.m.
4.25 a.m. 2 bogeys 5 miles ahead, some ships have opened fire on them. It is quite moonlight.
4.45 a.m. Have 4 bogeys at the moment, snooping around.
4.52 a.m. Enemy aircraft shot down in flames some miles ahead of us.
4.58 a.m. Quite a few bogeys around now from 3 miles.
5.05 a.m. Quiet for a while.
5.33 a.m. Action Alarm - plenty of ack ack going up at the moment.
5.40 a.m. Action cooks.
7.30 a.m. More bogeys.
9.20 a.m. Have bogey coming in which got past our fighter. We've been stooging up and down the coast of Lingayen Gulf, we were supposed to bombard the town of Bauang, about 6 miles south of San Fernando, but a report says that our bombers have done the place over, and there's lots of explosions, fires, etc., and we may not have to do it. Still stooging around.
10.15 a.m. Our mine sweepers and underwater demolition teams are working on the approaches to the beachhead at San Fabian, and we have been ordered to stand by 7 miles north of the town of Damortis where there are suspected shore batteries, 6 inch - no definite time has been set for our bombardment - we will be using 'B' turret and 'A'; and 'Y' will be loaded with barrage shell in case of an attack.
10.30 a.m. We are now steaming in towards the beach head, will soon commence on our first target for today.
11.05 a.m. Opened fire bombardment - target is concentration of trucks and white roofed building - railway station, also coastal defence and A.A. batteries.
11.14 a.m. We have just plastered to the left and right of the target, and the next few should be right on it. Approximately 10.15 a.m. the "Aussie" was observed burying her dead. Our range is approximately 15,900 yards (nearly 8 miles), we have hit all around the target but have not yet made a direct hit - visual target - no aircraft spotting. Check check check at 11.19 a.m., 11 single gun salvos were fired from 'B' turret - we are now looking for opportunity targets.
11.25 a.m. 'X' turret reports a large battery on shore with a large crowd of people around it, bearing green 150; this battery is right on the foreshore bearing red 90, now appears to be camouflaged, also a tent, all situated near two white cliffs - these reports from rangetaker 'X' turret.
11.33 a.m. 'X' reports that they saw a flash (gun) from shore.
11.34 a.m. Bogey coming in.
11.42 a.m. Bogeys coming in from land, distance 12 miles. We are about to open fire on another target - fired 11.49 a.m. range 7,000 yards (3.5 miles) 16 rounds H.E., the target was a large collection of huts - Japs can be seen running from remaining huts, hidden behind trees - there are no Filipinos in this coastal area, only Japs, maybe some Filipino collaborators and our own observers.
12.05 p.m. Group bogeys coming in distance 15 miles, headed towards battlers.
12.09 p.m. 7 miles distant - can't see them yet.
12.25 p.m. Gun flashes have been observed from nearby where we were this morning - going to investigate - it's probably 'X's' target that they reported earlier, which we did not fire at.
1.35 p.m. 'X' opened fire at target on hill 5 rounds H.E. We are going in to 4,000 - 5,000 yards off San Fabian town to cover our underwater demolition teams, and watch out for any counter battery fire - we will be in position by 2.15 p.m. and U.W.D. teams commence operation at 2.45 p.m. Our bombers are coming around bombing various targets.
2.44 p.m. In position - "Aussie" has opened fire - director can see San Fabian railway station. We opened fire 2.49 p.m. 'X' turret range 8,700 yards, our target is a little house on the beach where director can see a gun. We've been walking our fire along beach.
3.03 p.m. Check check check - 20 rounds fired - single gun salvos.
3.15 p.m. "Minneapolis", another battler, and destroyers are covering U.W.D. teams now where the landing, beach will be on 'S' day - mine sweepers are very close to the beach.
3.32 p.m. Couple of bogeys coming down Gulf towards us.
3.40 p.m. Think they are friendly - one fighter reports coming in low over water.
3.45 p.m. All remaining battlers, cruisers and destroyers have now opened up and are really beating hell out of San Fabian and surrounding areas whilst U.W.D. teams continue work.
3.46 p.m. 'X' reports a shot has just fallen 300 yards astern of us.
3.50 p.m. More shots have fallen astern of us - we are trying to pick up the battery that opened up on us. Another shot landed 1,000 yards ahead and we are being fired on by a battery dead astern.
3.56 p.m. Another - over 400 yards. As we have been steaming at only 2 knots, we are increasing speed - another over 200 yards - 'X' turret gun salvos fired 3.58 p.m. Up 300, fire 3.581/2 p.m. - right 20 - up 4 - right 4 - have target on beach, thinks it is the one firing on us - left 10 - broadsides 'X' turret - fired 4.01 p.m. - up 2 - broadsides 4.011/2 p.m. - broadsides 4.021/2 p.m. - switched to After Director - altering course to starboard. "Aussie" is also firing at same target now, range approximately 10,800 yards.
4.06 p.m. Fore Director directing 'X' salvos right gun commencing - range 11,100 yards, left 2, up 2 - fire 4.08 p.m. - right 1 - fire 4.09 p.m. - up 50 - fire 4.091/2 p.m. - our own speed 10.5 knots - fire no change 4.11 p.m. - there is a ship on fire in the harbour and target is somewhere on beach near ship. Have fired 14 H.E. and we are turning to go around again.
4.19 p.m. Japs opened up again but fell short - we are firing again - another lobbed short - our shells weigh 256 lbs. and cost approximately 47 pounds each - expensive isn't it?
4.40 p.m. Check check check - fired 32 H.E.
4.46 p.m. 4 inch are now having a go. In the background an air strike is taking place.
4.55 p.m. Bofors are now having a go at shore targets.
5.15 p.m. Bogey 7 miles. Has been met by our own fighters and turned back.
6.30 p.m. Bogeys 20 miles.
6.40 p.m. Plane hit drink about 10 miles off.
6.41 p.m. 'Y' cleared both guns loaded with barrage.
6.57 p.m. Few bogeys hanging around, can't see them, we have Black Widows (night fighters) overhead.
7.00 p.m. We are firing.
7.01 p.m. Check fire. Bogeys still about - this plane was reported to be friendly, but we couldn't recognise him, so we opened up.
7.08 p.m. Ship firing astern - can't see what it is.
7.12 p.m. We are moving into our night disposition and steaming out of Lingayen Gulf - there is an enemy aircraft 9 miles astern of us.
7.36 p.m. Enemy aircraft is now 10 miles astern.
8.08 p.m. We were just ordered to make an emergency turn to port, and narrowly missed running down a minesweeper.
8.10 p.m. "Revert to 2nd. degree of readiness".
4.50 a.m. Few bogeys around. They have been around all night. Flares being dropped 10 miles ahead.
5.00 a.m. 2 bogeys at 9 and 10 miles, and 3 more at 5, 7, and 8 miles.
5.46 a.m. "Action cooks to muster for scran."
6.40 a.m. Bogeys 4 miles astern - "Action Stations" - it is still dark (moonlight) - but we can't see anything.
6.47 a.m. "Revert to 2nd. degree of readiness".
7.16 a.m. Action alarm - firing 8 inch barrage, 4 inch barrage, bofors and pom poms - these bogeys dived down over the formation and were followed in by our Wildcat fighters - the fighters shot one enemy (Val dive bomber) down into the drink, but unfortunately our fighters were so close that the combined fire of the formation shot one down - everybody was firing at the time. However, the pilot was saved but he had a broken thigh. This was a very unexpected attack. Last night was the first good sleep I've had for a long time (6 hours), and today's wash was the first for 2.5 days. I can assure you that everybody starts to hum after going without a wash for that long in this climate. The Bish (Padre) was with us for awhile and he told us that the total casualties on the "Aussie", with their two incidents, was 40 killed and 50 wounded - the second time all the 4" guns crews were wiped out - she now has only one 4 inch gun in action - local control at that, so not very satisfactory.
7.32 a.m. Firing again - a zombie crashed 200 yards from our port side and another crash-dived into the "Aussie" - into her port side abreast 'A' turret. There is a large hole in her side (14ft by 10ft) and she has a 5 degree list to port.
7.50 a.m. We are nearly in position off White Beach 3 - very close in for Counter Battery assignment, whilst the Underwater Demolition Teams move right in to clear underwater obstacles. No further reports from the "Aussie" as yet.
7.56 a.m. Report from 'X' turret - the "Aussie" has a hose out of a port on No. 5 messdeck, pumping like hell, and directly underneath the water is bubbling up. The "Aussie" has moved out from between the two battlers where she had been throughout the night and was just moving up astern of us to take up position for covering the underwater demolition teams.
8.12 a.m. We are now in position and waiting for an opportunity target - there is an air bombing strike taking place ashore at present - our port pom pom shot the plane down which crashed the "Aussie" afterwards. The "Aussie's" 281 radar is out of action.
8.15 a.m. Our bows are pointed at the beach which leads to the town of San Fabian. On our port bow is the "California", and on our starboard bow is the "New Mexico" - both battlers - are closer inshore and have commenced bombardment, and will continue (bogeys permitting) for the next two hours. Then we move in. Report from 'X' turret re the "Aussie" - she is not listing now and the hole is on her waterline just forward of the armour plating - she has 4 or 5 compartments flooded. Our range offshore is 8,000 yards. Official report re the "Aussie" - "This plane made a hole in the waterline, abreast the bridge port side - no casualties, only a few scratches.
9.05 a.m. The survey and underwater demolition teams have apparently landed on the beach as the director has just been ordered to take ranges between the red and black flags which have already been planted on the beach for invasion barge traffic at the landing which takes place tomorrow "S Day". After our shoot here this morning we will go a little further up the gulf and bombard again at Poro Point - San Fernando town.
10.34 a.m. Commence bombardment - Report - "There are two Jap aircraft folded up on the beach." 4 inch are bombarding the mouth of Bued River.
11.45 a.m. 8 inch bombardment commenced - and very good too. Two fires started. Shooting - 10 yard corrections on railway line and station etc. - direct hit. From aircraft spotting - "Your deflection is perfect" - hit - two direct hits with our last salvo. The last place we were firing at was San Fabian station - 20 rounds. 8 inch opened fire again on centre of San Fabian town. This town is to be razed to the ground before "S" Day (tomorrow). 6 rounds. To the aircraft - "Thank you for your spots" - From aircraft to us - "Thanks, it was a pleasure, your big boys are marvellous". Bogey coming in - gone again. 4 inch bombarding house near beach. Target is a suspected pill box - a direct hit. Ah! Dinner - stewed dried peas, prunes - then Chan spilled it down the hatch - "Chan, Chan the musical man, spilled the scran and away he ran!" During the forenoon the sweepers have been criss-crossing and several mines have been swept up that were missed earlier. The sweepers then stand off about 50 yards and sink them with rifle fire.
1.30 p.m. 'A' turret stand by to bombard. Latest report re the "Aussie" - "A bomb from the plane landed right alongside and exploded - made several smaller holes in her side on the water line, whilst the plane carried on and just grazed her stern and hit the drink."
1.40 p.m. "New Mexico" ahead of us and another battler are firing at targets with their main armament.
2.40 p.m. 8 inch bombardment commenced on trenches and area - direct hit - rapid fire called for. 16 rounds completed. From aircraft - "The area has been well done over" - patch in centre looks like a gun emplacement - direct hit. Six more in the area will finish. Getting up some 'K' shell in 'A' turret - fired 3 - aircraft reports - "Area well covered". Range for the first shoot was 5,600 yards. Whilst our shoot was in progress the "New Mexico" and "California" carried out a heavy bombardment - one of them was using a phosphorous anti-personnel shell which exploded above the trees and burst into a white ball of smoke and streaming red lumps of burning phosphorous coming from it. It looks like a big white octopus with red tentacles. These shells must have caused a great number of casualties among the troops ashore. We have finished with the San Fabian area now and are steaming north again to the San Fernando area where shore batteries have been shelling our sweepers and other small craft. Signal from the "Aussie" - "The last plane to hit us was a Dinah (twin-engine bomber). A hole on the water line and the 5 degree list to port was balanced by flooding compartments on starboard side. Oil fuel tank leaking - steering from after steering position. Other side damage under control. Only 30% of 4 inch and AA weapons in firing order" - Well, folks, that is the official news.
4.55 p.m. Bogey coming in.
5.08 p.m. Hands close up at action stations for bombardment.
5.45 p.m. 'Y' turret opened fire - range 16,400 yards (approximately 9 miles) - target is a gun emplacement on Poro Point. Second 2-gun salvo was right alongside a gun emplacement "direct hit" from aircraft - have switched to another - fired - straddled - a shore battery has opened fire on some trawlers - we have wiped out that battery - now ranging on an ammunition dump.
6.00 p.m. Commence, commence, commence. One of the battlers is firing in the same area so we are shifting our target. Our next rounds went over to the eastern side of the harbour and large flames were observed. Switched target - gun positions on Eastern side of San Fernando Bay.
6.13 p.m. Commence, commence, commence. Ship is turning 180 degrees.
6.19 p.m. Bogey at 9 miles.
6.25 p.m. Open fire.
6.34 p.m. Check, check, check. Bombardment completed - battlers are still going - our last shoot was unsatisfactory as the pilot of the spotting aircraft could not see too well.
6.45 p.m. Report - "20 miles from here is a small island to the west of the entrance to the gulf, sheltering there are some enemy transports - they are reported to have their own air cover". This is a report from our aircraft.
7.55 p.m. Bogeys at 15 miles.
7.57 p.m. Bogeys at 5 and 8 miles. Bogey is passing down our port side and it is now dark - can't see a thing.
8.20 p.m. Revert to 2nd degree of readiness.
5.40 a.m. Bogeys 8 and 9 miles.
5.47 a.m. Action cooks. It's still dark - (moonlight).
6.55 a.m. It's just starting to get light now - can just see our main invasion forces - 2 miles off out port quarter - they have just opened up on a bogey and there are streams of tracers coming from all ships. Two large fires ashore which were started by gunfire this morning very clearly.
7.05 a.m. Battlers have opened fire - this marks the opening of bombardment, which will last approximately 2 hours, and will then be followed by invasion. It is lighter now and invasion convoy has moved into positions all around us. They are awaiting the cessation of the bombardment. Overhead we have Army, Navy and Third Fleet planes providing us with air cover. We will stand by until approximately 0830, watching for opportunity targets in the mountains, and will then commence our own bombardment.
7.15 a.m. Single bogey making passes at L.C. and everybody is having a lash at him - he got away.
7.21 a.m. Undarken ship.
7.30 a.m. There are now thousands of small landing craft, barges, L.C.I's and L.C.T's etc. clustered around the large number of landing ships - bogey shot down by our aircraft just east of convoy.
7.31 a.m. There are at least 40 - 45,000 ton battlers here of the Idaho and New Jersey class. Report bogey 20 miles away.
7.35 a.m. Sun is just peeping over the hills.
7.45 a.m. A bogey came over and dropped a bomb in the formation but did not hit anything.
8.29 a.m. We are about to commence our bombardment which will consist of 500 x 8" and 400 x 4" - our main target is to raze the town of San Fabian.
8.30 a.m. Opened fire. It is really thrilling to stand on the upperdeck and gaze around and look at the hundreds of large ships, warships, escorts and their thousands of barges not forgetting our valuable little sweepers; most of the warships are carrying out a very heavy and intense bombardment while convoy ships are loading their barges with men and material of war. Huge clouds of smoke and dust from explosions ashore have drifted all around us making visibility not so good. The dust really smells good - it is so nice and earthy. Remember, we've been on this floating "Iron Lung" for 7 months, and all we've had is sea breezes.
8.43 a.m. Have completed San Fabian area, and have switched target to beach area.
8.45 a.m. Opened fire - have aircraft spotting.
9.00 a.m. Bogeys at 6 miles. Report from aircraft - "Doing well, right in the area". Numerous fires ashore.
9.08 a.m. A thrilling sight - every warship here is firing.
9.11 a.m. First wave of landing barges is on the way in closely followed by the second wave. Our range is 8,000 yards.
9.19 a.m. Completed beach target.
9.25 a.m. First wave landed on beach, second wave has just passed astern of us.
9.30 a.m. Switch target and open fire at 9.32 a.m. Rocket ships are in action. There is now a terrific pall of dust around and can just see a small blue patch of sky overhead. Troops have landed on all beaches.
9.42 a.m. Counter battery fire called for, but not in our area. Report from Pilot - "Boy, you sure are deadly." This new target we are on are main roads with block houses on roof from San Fabian to Binday. Report from aircraft - "You have completely ruined these roads". Range 10,000 yards. Have wiped out all the roads and main cross roads, also trees in vicinity under which suspicious objects were seen yesterday. This next target is a suspected Railway Junction, store houses, etc. Our first salvo landed 25 yards to right of railway track, range 11,000 yards. Our next target is San Jacinto town, about 3 miles south of San Fabian, range 13,000 yards.
10.10 a.m. Our shells are landing right in town area. Report from aircraft - "Right in area, plastering end of town, the bottom end of the town has been well done over."
10.15 a.m. 8 inch relax for a while.
10.20 a.m. Troops who have landed ins this area (White Beach) have met with very little or no opposition and landing barges are returning to ships and will carry on usual shuttle service between landing ships and shore.
11.10 a.m. Fire support called for - railway area we did earlier.
11.14 a.m. Counter Battery fire called for. Director observed flash from shore battery, we are getting on it.
11.30 a.m. Chan gone to 'A' cordite handling room to help with cordite. Fired 4 inch guns - short. Up 400 yards - fire - direct hit. Smoke pouring out of area. Down 200 - fire - good. Checking around in area.
11.55 a.m. 6 guns to finish.
12.15 p.m. A white flag has been hoisted on one of the remaining buildings in San Fabian.
12.30 p.m. Action cooks.
1.05 p.m. Action Alarm - open fire at 1.06 p.m. Three planes came out of sun, one hit the drink short of a destroyer - another narrowly missed the "Aussie" and crashed into a battler - she's on fire - have hoses going at 1.12 p.m. Report: that plane hit the "Aussie" on the foremost funnel - 281 and S.G. out of action - no casualties. Boy oh boy, how's that for a run of bad luck? The joke is, we picked up the bogeys and reported them as enemy and the "Aussie" reported them as friendly, and she caught one.
1.26 p.m. Bogeys still in area. Think the battler is USS "Mississippi". "Aussie" forward funnel is folded over half way up. Johnson got his photo taken in action, for the first time.
1.41 p.m. Bogeys closing the formation. Enemy aircraft that crashed the battler is not the same one that hit the "Aussie".
1.47 p.m. Fire under control on battler.
2.00 p.m. Bogeys still around.
2.05 p.m. Nine P.B.Ms (Martin Mariner Flying Boats) are coming in to land.
4.30 p.m. Fire support called for, town of Manaog, distance 9 miles.
5.07 p.m. Bogeys 5 miles, action alarm.
5.30 p.m. Group of Zekes (Zeros) approaching formation, our fighters are mixing it with them about 5 miles away.
5.38 p.m. Three Zekes have got through our fighters and are heading down centre of gulf at 10 miles distant.
5.45 p.m. "Aussie" has sent us a signal wishing us good luck, etc. - she leaves now to go South. 4 or 5 Zeros have already been shot down by our fighters - 3 more down.
6.00 p.m. We are now leaving the bombardment area and moving out to the entrance of the gulf where we will probably stooge around during the night. Last night we did not go out to sea, but remained in the gulf.
6.40 p.m. Bogeys 8 miles - 4 Black Widows have gone out to intercept. Transporters in the bay behind us are well covered by smoke screens. All ships have smoke floats going on their stern, and destroyers weaving about up-wind also have the floats in operation. Some are being dropped in the water.
7.56 p.m. We have opened fire. This bogey was a twin engined bomber and passed at a great height over formation and kept on going.
8.50 p.m. Bogeys still about - are still closed up.
9.30 p.m. Revert to second degree of readiness.
During early morning a number of suspected Torpedo Boats endeavour to pass us and get down to the transport area. We are patrolling about half way down to the mouth of Lingayen Gulf - our battlers are occasionally sweeping with their searchlights, and on one occasions they opened fire and blew up a torpedo boat. Flares, or rather starshell, are being sent up regularly at close distances to the shore in case any of these M.T.Bs try to sneak past close inshore.
6.15 a.m. Action cooks to muster for breakfast.
6.30 a.m. Bogeys at 8 miles distant. 20 minutes later, and bogeys are circling the formation.
6.55 a.m. Our fighters are now in the area - still dark (moonlight) but the faint flush of dawn can just be seen over the hills.
6.58 a.m. Lots of tracer in the air - one bogey has just been shot down close to our bows.
6.59 a.m. Bogey dead astern at 3 miles.
7.07 a.m. It is fairly light now and we are down by the transport area - bogeys still around us - are still covered with smoke - ships astern are firing on a bogey - our fighters are chasing them.
7.10 a.m. Our bofors are firing. This aircraft is a Val and the bastard has just done his suicide dive on a destroyer, but missed the mark, and did a lovely crash into the drink.
7.35 a.m. Revert to second degree.
7.45 a.m. Action stations - bogey over transport area at 11,000 feet.
7.50 a.m. We are now right in transport area which is thick with smoke and can't see anything except right overhead.
8.00 a.m. Have moved further south towards the landing beaches and have left the transport area and its protective smoke screen astern of us. Radio news reports that during the night Japs swum out to several ships and threw grenades.
1.10 p.m. We have just been warned about these Jap swimmers, midget subs, P.T. boats, etc. A destroyer reported that early this morning a Jap was swimming in the water near her with a bundle on his back, he was fired on, and was blown up by a powerful explosion that was presumed to be in the bundle. The amazing coincidence is this; while we are being warned about keeping a sharp lookout for these Jap swimmers and any floating and suspicious object, and instructions to be followed in the event of seeing them, two underwater explosions were felt in the T.S., and on reporting them to the control were informed that 2 Japs had been swimming in towards a destroyer close by us and called out for help - they got it - and the result was that there were at least two Japs exploded in the water.
1.28 p.m. We have just seen 6 depth charges go off a fair way up, must be enemy subs trying to get in. The ships is stationery about 4 or 5 miles off shore.
3.45 p.m. We have been asked for fire support. Our troops are being held up by artillery fire.
4.30 p.m. Opened fire - 4 gun salvo, range approximately 7 miles. First salvo was a direct hit.
4.43 p.m. Bombardment completed.
4.45 p.m. We have been ordered to rendezvous with the rest of the fleet further out of the gulf. Huge clouds of smoke are rising from our target area. We're in a hurry - speed 25 knots, something must be cooking.
5.00 p.m. From the Captain to T.S. crew and Director - "The last bombardment was very well done, congratulations, we received a message from the shore fire control party saying 'Thank you very much, your firing covered the area well.'"
6.00 p.m. Action cooks
6.30 p.m. Dusk stand- to - bogeys closing.
6.47 p.m. Opened fire - he passed very high over us - bogeys over transport area. Large fires can be seen at San Fernando as a result of a big air strike today.
7.03 p.m. Bogeys still around at 2 or 3 miles - lots of A.A. fire.
7.07 p.m. One down.
7.15 p.m. Two bogeys directly overhead - so high they are out of sight.
7.20 p.m. An unidentified surface craft reported - destroyer ordered to investigate - turned out to be friendly.
7.30 p.m. Huge fires have been seen at Poro Point and a terrific explosion has been observed.
7.45 p.m. Skipper told us over the speaker system that we have finished all of our bombardment at San Fabian and had now joined the fleet and are to join up with Admiral Halsey's carrier force and patrol between gulf and Mindorro. Fleet we were attached to was under Vice Admiral Oldendorf.
10.05 p.m. Action stations - bogey passed over us and went on south.
6.30 p.m. Dawn phase - very quiet day so far - nothing at all.
6.40 p.m. Dusk phase - fairly heavy sea running. Last evening at dusk, just as the light was fading, we fired at an enemy plane as it passed us on its way to the transport area. It was too high for accurate close range fire, or from long range guns, but the fleet generally gave it a good reception and as the plane passed down to and over the transports and beach area, the heat was turned on full strength. Millions of rounds of tracer shell weaved clear patterns into the sky, and it would take too much paper to describe what it looked like, but the explosions in the sky from heavy A.A. fire can be likened unto the crystals in a gigantic chandelier which is agitated by the wind. This continued for some five minutes before dying down and then the sound waves reached up and we can understand just exactly how fierce the barrage was. The unmistakable crump! of bombs could be heard above the barrage.
6.15 a.m. Dawn action stations. Nothing doing.
9.30 a.m. Bogeys 30 miles away, our combat planes gone to intercept.
9.45 a.m. Fighters have intercepted and fierce dog fights taking place.
10.00 a.m. Action stations. Dog fights still in progress, our fighters report 4 enemy planes shot down.
10.10 a.m. Our fighters reported a large bunch of bogeys 40 miles south of us but apparently headed for troop convoy, which is on its way up. Our fighters headed after them.
10.16 a.m. Other carrier force reports bogeys at 30 miles and we have just picked up a possibly bogey at 15 miles - has opened to 30 miles - our fighters and bogeys have merged at 30 miles.
10.22 a.m. Bogey has disappeared from screen and we now only have friendly - another bogey at 40 miles.
11.30 a.m. All clear 12 50 p.m. - Bogey at 5 miles.
1.00 p.m. All clear.
6.50 p.m. There is an alarm to starboard - low flying plane. The tracer shells stab the blackness of the sky, criss-crossing as they reach for the plane which passes down our starboard side towards the transport area. Transports take up the action as the enemy draws near, and millions of tracer cross in all directions in the vicinity of the plane, gathering in intensity as it nears the shore. Suddenly there is a terrific flash - the sheet of flame lights up the sky and a vivid orange flame and a glow comes from a spot astern of us. Many thoughts flash through our minds, but there is no feeling of anything for the dirty little yellow man, who is just throwing his life away in his suicide crash against a ship, but a quick prayer for those of our allies who must surely have been killed in the stricken ship.
The tracer dies down as quickly as the glow of exploded high octane spirit on the ship, leaving just a red flame as the ship burns.
You don't stand looking at the spot for long - there is another low flying bogey coming in on the starboard bow - where is this one going to crash? We have already shot down, or blown to pieces, half a dozen such planes attempting to crash on us, and deterred innumerable others which started to make their run in, but finished up on other ships, or in the water close by them.
Rather a peculiar characteristic of the suicide Jap is the fact that even though he is determined to end his life by crashing on the ships, he doesn't like hot steel coming at him. We put up the fiercest and most accurate barrage of control fire of any ship here because of our capability to fire main armament at aircraft, and the belch of flame and smoke as the 8" fire and the detonating effect of the shell as they explode near a plane must have given rise to some speculation on the Japanese Home Front. The Tokyo Radio has been heard to broadcast that the two Australian cruisers have a secret weapon which throws forth flame which plucks planes out of the sky. This gives rise to speculation on board that they are out to get us if possible.
The "Aussie" does not use her 8" against aircraft, having no Barrage Directors, and in this operation alone 5 planes have suicided into her, as well as some near misses, while a greater number have had a go at us.
Well, if we can only see them, or be put on to them in time, we hope to survive, but attacks develop in seconds, and we must remain hair trigger. We shot down a Wildcat the other day which flew close during a raid.
We definitely saved ourselves from getting hit when the port pom pom and after bofors did the only thing that was possible to save the ship by blowing the earlier plane to pieces as she came down at us. Large pieces of debris fell on either side of us, showering the ship with water and petrol and small fragments. As the engine and piece of one wing hit the water 2 feet from the ship's side, the one remaining blade of the aircrew was still revolving, and the concussion of the impact nearly lifted the old lady out of the water. Two mines and the pilot fell out, when she disintegrated, and then parachutes opened, the pilot slipped himself free and his arms and legs weaved and milled around as he fell. He hit the water flat on his stomach and a splash went up and then subsided slowly over the dirty little maniac. The mines floated just over the top of our funnels, missing by about fourteen feet. Thus ended just one attempt to put us out of action but we felt no sympathy for the Jap, as had he achieved his mission he set out to do there would surely have been some mothers, wives and sweethearts in mourning right now for someone or ones among us on this ship. But this is war.
Quiet day - oiled from fleet tanker 3 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. - sea was fairly rough.
10.00 a.m. Bogeys around.
10.50 a.m. Action Alarm - bogeys at 10 miles closing - our fighters have been mixing with them earlier.
11.10 a.m. All clear.
Nothing doing today as yet.
Same as yesterday as was Wednesday 17th - very rough seas and quite a lot of the waves 20 to 30 feet high. It was quite a thrill to see the Battlers taking them from stem to stern, they just bury their bows right down into the sea until they look like subs making crash dives. At times, all that could be seen was their funnels, and upper superstructure - we had our share of the "greenies" also, particularly when we make a 180 degree turn and by doing so come broadside on to the sea - hell did this tub roll. At times I thought she'd roll right over. The Carriers also had their troubles trying to get their planes down. I'll take my hat off to those U.S.N. Pilots as they've sure got guts. You should see the way those boys put their planes down on the plunging, rearing flight decks of the carriers. It appears to me that they take their lives in their hands when they're out on patrol, but doubly so when landing on their carriers in a rough sea.
On one occasion I saw one boy come in, hit the deck and burst into flames. On numerous occasions they would come in, but a little fast, and they would pile up their plane against the control tower in preference to running off the flight deck, and falling into the sea in front of their carrier and thus be run over by her.
On another occasion I saw a plane which was standing on the after end of the flight deck, lifted bodily by a strong gust of wind, thrown clear of the carrier into the water astern of her. The Captain told us that on the day of the landing, one of the battlers which stopped a Zombie had General MacArthur and his staff on board, and that his right-hand man was killed by the crash. Also Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, Commander of the British Pacific Fleet, was on board the "New Mexico" when she stopped a Zombie.
8.00 a.m. Have now entered Lingayen Gulf again.
9.00 a.m. Have dropped pick down by the landing beach - there's quite a lot of shipping around.
6.40 p.m. Action stations - bogey at 15 miles.
7.00 p.m. Bogey at 6 miles. L.C.I's have been laying white smoke screen over the harbour.
7.30 p.m. All clear.
7.35 p.m. We are still at anchor and from the upper deck about ten fires can be seen burning with a bright red glow away up in the hills, and the sound of battle carries quite clearly to us over the water. It is moonlight, quite a number of lights on right around the landing beaches. Our troops are 32 miles inland in the main drive to Manila, and are holding a front of 15 miles, and at various points mortar could be seen clearly; also at one particular spot, which appeared to be flame throwers at work.
2.00 a.m. Bogeys 4 miles - action alarm. Quite a lot of ack ack going up ashore.
2.35 a.m. All clear.
6.40 a.m. Dawn phase - few bogeys around.
7.40 p.m. All clear.
9.40 p.m. Action alarm - one enemy aircraft has been circling over the airstrip ten miles astern of us - another bogey has now appeared.
10.00 p.m. All clear.
6.30 a.m. Dawn action stations.
2.55 p.m. Air raid red - bogeys around distant 8 miles. Another 40 miles coming in. The battle is still going on ashore and last night lots of gun flashes and the glow of fires started by shells could be observed. During the forenoon a destroyer, and a little further around the harbour, a cruiser, were busy carrying out single gun bombardment.
3.14 p.m. All clear. Bogeys have now been identified as friendly.
7.00 p.m. Dusk action stations.
8.35 p.m. Action stations - air raid red. Bogey coming in astern 10 miles - lots of smoke - black and white, all over the harbour being laid by destroyers. Gun flashes and sounds of battle can be seen and heard. Plenty of searchlights on - have picked him up but he has buzzed off.
9.00 p.m. All clear.
9.25 p.m. Air raid red - bogey at 10 miles.
9.40 p.m. All clear.
"Arunta" arrived during the afternoon from Leyte with mail and parcels. Oh, yes, the Commodore and his staff also arrived and are now aboard "Shropshire".
All quiet till now.
8.10 p.m. Action alarm - air raid red - several bogeys around at 10 to 50 miles. It's a bright moonlight night and for the last three nights no smoke screens have been laid around the harbour.
8.20 p.m. A fire on the water has been observed about 5 miles ahead of us and is reported to have been an incendiary bomb, which near missed one of our patrol craft - probably an oil bomb.
8.30 p.m. It's still burning brightly. Our Radar reports that bogeys came in and only one went out - seem to think fire is a Zombie.
8.45 p.m. Captain has just spoken to us and confirmed the last Radar report, and also has warned us to close up at the rush when action stations sound off - not to get slack.
9.00 p.m. All clear.
All clear until now.
7.25 p.m. Air raid red - bogeys 10 miles. They are over the airstrip, and appear to be friendly.
7.45 p.m. All clear.
All clear until now.
3.45 p.m. Group of enemy aircraft reported by ships further up the gulf - one ship reports she is under attack - flying very low - another report enemy aircraft low flying near airstrip, distant 10 miles. They must be low because we can't pick them up on radar.
3.50 p.m. One ahead of us 13 miles - opening.
3.53 p.m. Has turned and is coming towards us - distance 17 miles - our fighters report another one on a southerly course and are after it.
4.20 p.m. All clear.
6.50 p.m. Dusk action stations. Two bogeys 8 and 10 miles.
7.30 p.m. Relax.
7.45 p.m. More bogeys 9 miles. A plane just passed overhead. The smoke screen has already been laid and it is pretty smokey up top at the moment.
7.53 p.m. Two bogeys at 23 miles.
8.40 p.m. Fall out, but air raid red is still on ashore.
11.50 p.m. Action alarm - have had bogey during most of the first watch distant 20 miles. A night fighter was sent up to investigate and bogey closed to 7 miles towards formation and was then lost.
12.10 a.m. All clear.
Saturday and Sunday 27 and 28 January
1.40 a.m. Action alarm - air raid red - 2 bogeys at 15 miles. A.A. fire observed from ashore.
1.48 a.m. Bogeys have closed to 2 and 5 miles - one passing down port side of us has been fired upon by ships near us. It is a very bright moonlight night.
1.54 a.m. New bogey to west, distant 20 miles. Smoke layers have been very busy laying the usual screen.
1.56 a.m. A.A. fire observed from ships ahead.
2.30 a.m. All clear.
All clear till 10.25 p.m. when action alarm sounded as there was a bogey at 5 miles.
10.45 p.m. All clear.
Thursday 1 February
2.15 a.m. Action alarm - bogey at 5 miles - lots of smoke around - our fighters are up - millions of A.A. bursts in the air.
2.30 a.m. Enemy aircraft shot down but hit the drink a couple of miles ahead of us - other bogeys in vicinity.
2.45 a.m. All clear.
Only one alarm at 9.15 p.m., otherwise a quiet day.
7.35 a.m. Proceeding to sea for exercises. Radar tracking with fleet.
11.15 a.m. Report that General MacArthur and First Cavalry Division entered Manila last night under cover of darkness - 3 other divisions are surrounding it and there is fighting in the suburbs - isolated resistance and snipers.
First Cavalry Division went straight into the concentration camp of Santa Tomas where they liberated 3700 internees, a thousand of which were Aussies, Englishmen and Dutchmen.
Today we had on board 25 releases prisoners of war who, with 500 others, were released from a camp near Subic Bay after Yank forces had landed and attacked the camp. I spoke to quite a few of these chaps and they told me they had been brought over from Singapore about 5 months ago where they had been prisoners for nearly three years. Whilst in Singapore they, and thousands of others, mostly Australians, had been employed in building a railway in Thailand. This railway went from Thailand to Burma. The Aussies were on the Thailand end and the English on the Burma end. The Aussies were working in tropical swamp areas where numerous infections of legs and tropical ulcers were contacted.
Jap medical supplies and doctors were scarce and inefficient; our own doctors with the troops worked day and night to save legs, but in most cases amputation was necessary.
The majority of these troops (prisoners) were the 2/10 Division. In lots of cases the Japs would come to our own doctors for treatment, so inadequate was their own medical service.
Casualties amounted to between 25 to 50,000 dead due to tropical diseases such as beriberi, cholera, malaria, etc. The only medical treatment they could get was in the form of quinine.
Incidentally, all these 25 chaps were Englishmen. When they were shifted from Singapore to Subic Bay they were bombed by American planes whilst in the bay, and 4 transports with the prisoners in them, and 4 destroyers were sunk..
The ship these chaps were on was comparatively small but there were 1,500 prisoners on board, cramped in the hold, but out of the 1,500 only 130 of them managed to get ashore where they were nearly all picked up again by the Japs and put into the camp at Subic Bay.
Two of the 130 who escaped drowning managed to get ashore and evade the Japs and were fortunate enough to be picked up by some of the guerrillas with whom they joined up in their fights against the Japs. They went on to say that the guerrillas had plenty of food, cigarettes, cigars, etc. The guerrillas were very well organised, at least 5,000 in each province, and they were in contact with the Yanks by radio, and they repeatedly asked for arms and ammunition with which they claimed they could have played merry hell among the Japs.
They supplied vital information regarding strategic targets etc., for bombers, and after the Yanks landed at Lingayen Gulf, produced maps of importance such as camouflaged midget submarine pens, etc., which have since been blown to pieces by bombers.
The others that were in the prison camp were, as can be imagined, very fortunate. Their meals consisted of, at dawn, breakfast of thin watery soup and a few dry biscuits; lunch, one bowl of rice; supper, one bowl of rice and a few hard biscuits.
They were put to work in a large market garden, and commenced right after breakfast at dawn, half hour for lunch, worked in relays so that there was somebody working all the time; half hour for supper and then they worked through till 10 p.m. at night.
Most of them haven't worn shoes for ages and whilst in Thailand the only clothing they wore was a loin cloth.
They have witnessed numerous forms of torture used upon those who rebelled at times, such as pulling out finger nails with pincers, belted on the shins, and all over the body with the butt of a rifle, thrashed with heavy bamboo canes, etc.
The most gruesome site he witnessed was when a prisoner was lashed by the feet to one sapling and by the hands and arms to another a little distance away; prior to having been lashed up this way the tips of the trees had been drawn together by a rope. When the prisoner was lashed up as mentioned, the rope was cut and the trees swinging back to their upright position tore the unfortunate victim's body apart.
Another form of torture used was to force a hose into the victim's mouth and turn on the water; very quickly the victim's stomach would swell out to a terrific size - they were then jumped on and kicked in the stomach - needless to say the victim always died a very painful death as the stomach would burst.
The longest period any sick man was allowed to be in the doctors' hands was 5 days, and at the expiration of that time he had to be back on his job irrespective as to whether he was cured or not. For minor offences the Japs took great delight in making the biggest and strongest man amongst the prisoners give the victim a belting with his bare fists. At first the prisoners selected to give the belting would go lightly on their victim but then the Japs would punish him for not doing his job properly. Eventually, the only way out was for the strong chap to try and knock his victim out with one blow.
On one occasion, two of the chaps that were on board were working in the garden carrying earth in a large basket slung between two poles. As they went past a pool of water they stopped to scoop up a few handfulls to drink - they were rewarded with a bamboo belting each.
Everybody then had to learn how to count up to a hundred in Japanese as when they fell in each morning and night, going to and coming from work, they had to line up in lines of one hundred - woe betide those who didn't learn quick enough.
If a prisoner was too ill to walk, or had bad feet and legs, he would be wheeled or carried in a cot or stretcher to a pile of rocks, then he would have to proceed to carry on and break them up.
They had no mail and were not allowed to write home since being prisoners. Red Cross parcels used to arrive now and then and were distributed one parcel between six men. The Japs used to take and use the rest.
Out of all the Japs they were in contact with they only struck two who were in any way decent inasmuch as they would occasionally smuggle in a few extra biscuits and cigarettes when they could. Incidentally, the prisoners used to get two 5 minute smoke-ohs during the day, one in the forenoon and one in the afternoon.
The Jap guards, when off duty, sat up in two rows back to back looking at nothing, and apparently asleep, and relaxed this way.
When the Yank Rangers (commandos) approached the camp, the guards on the main gate could not make up their minds as to whether the Yanks were to be their prisoners or whether they were to be the Yank's prisoners. However, the Yanks didn't allow them to think long as they cut them in half with Tommy Guns, raced over to the nearby guardhouse and threw in hand grenades. Hell, what a mess.
We have been living on bully beef now for three weeks, and growling like hell about it. These chaps had some on board today and to use their words, remarked "It's bloody beautiful". Can you beat that?
Quiet day until 8.15 p.m. then action alarm - bogey 5 miles - very dark night.
8.35 p.m. All clear.
MacArthur reports having taken another camp in Manila and released a further 2500 internees including women and children. Released prisoners of war and internees number more than 5000 to date.
All clear so far.
7.15 p.m. Our three battlers and a few cruisers and a number of destroyers sailed at approximately 6.30 tonight. Haven't been informed of their destination as yet. We are remaining in Lingayen Gulf with a number of cruisers and destroyers; convoys have been arriving during the week, and early this morning a very large troop convoy came in comprising 25 large ships including "Manoora", "Kanimbla" and "Westralia".
8.30 a.m. We are to proceed to sea for exercises (more fun and games) but a report has come through that a Jap force consisting of 2 battlers and 1 heavy cruiser and destroyers is sailing in the China Seas 650 miles west of MIndoro Island, presumed to be from Singapore. Our bombers have already gone out to make an air strike and our destroyers have left to take up position for air-sea rescue work, should any be forced down. I counted well over 60 twin engine bombers going out in one flight. Others followed at regular intervals.
7.20 p.m. Report from Task Force Commander that a submarine reports 1 enemy battler and 1 heavy cruiser badly damaged. If all goes well we will have pictures on the forecastle now. (tonight).
All clear. Bombers left again today on a mission in groups of 60.
2.45 a.m. Hands called and ship gets under way.
3.30 a.m. We are on our way to bombard entrenched coastal batteries on Corregidor Island. Speed 26 knots. The Skipper spoke to us and said that the 6 inch cruisers have been bombarding the target area but do not seem to be having much success, as most of these gun positions run back into tunnels in the cliff face, and these guns have already damaged 2 destroyers, so it is our job to go in and blast their positions with heavier guns.
12.15 p.m. Have arrived off Bataan Peninsula after a very fast trip. Weather is fine and perfect. We can see Corregidor 3 or 4 miles away, and at the moment it is under terrific aerial bombardment which has been going on from dawn to dusk every day for the last week..
There are quite a number of ships from cruisers to landing craft here, and we have reduced speed, and have orders from Admiral Berkley to stand by as he is not sure whether he will need us at the moment.
From the look of the air strikes going on, which are being carried out by low flying and dive bombing planes (Mitchells and Bostons), a naval bombardment at this stage is unnecessary. Planes come over in formation of 19 at a time dropping 500 and 1,000 pound bombs, then come back and strafe the cliff face with rocket guns. The detonation as the bombs exploded was terrific - great clouds of smoke billowed into the sky and the blast could be felt from where we were laying. The dust raised by these explosions so completely filled the air that I was reminded of some of Melbourne's noted dust storms. I'll bet that the "Sons of Heaven" on Corregidor are doing a lot more than keeping the dust out of their eyes (Catch on).
1.10 p.m. We have moved up a little closer now and are only 3 to 4 miles from the island.
2.00 p.m. About 3 battalions have landed on Bataan Peninsula and are making their way inland. Tanks and jeeps are approaching our forces from inland, but they are our own troops who have forced their way down from Manila. Our bombers and dive bombers are still doing over Corregidor using sticks of fire bombs. These bombs detonate with a terrific flash of red flame and smoke, and are very spectacular from our point of view, but I'm not so sure about the Japs.
2.30 p.m. We are now 20 yards off the port side of the "Phoenix" - their skipper is hailing us on his loud hailer with the glad news that he has some mail from Down Under (as he says) for us. He hoped it wasn't official, which news brought a loud cheer from all the lads on the upperdeck. Also that we were to have the privilege of taking part in the final bombardment of Corregidor, which is to take place early tomorrow morning prior to the troops landing.
Bostons are now dropping parachute anti-personnel bombs on Corregidor. These bombs float slowly down and explode about 20 or 30 feet above the ground and cover a large area with shrapnel. Incidentally, Corregidor rises vertically from the sea to a height of about a thousand feet. On top of the island the remains of shell and bomb-torn buildings, presumably barracks, can be seen.
2.50 p.m. Mail arrives on board - most of us received a few letters from home
7.50 p.m. Report of a bogey - turned out to be friendly.
7.17 a.m. Opened fire on Corregidor with 4 gun salvos - range 5 miles.
7.24 a.m. Completed bombardment firing only 6 rounds a gun.
7.44 a.m. Destroyers have moved in close and opened up on beach areas.
7.50 a.m. and 7.57 a.m. Two heavy air strikes were carried out.
Report that during the evening there were suicide boat attacks against our ships. The enemy suicide boat attack this morning was partly successful - boat went close to one of our destroyers and blew up, inflicting slight underwater damage on the destroyer.
Our bombardment target was a lot of wireless masts, evidently a radio station. Yank cruisers bombarded beach and jetty area. During bombardment destroyers sank several mines off Corregidor.
8.35 a.m. Hundreds of Douglas troop transports began dropping men and supplies over the island. Different coloured parachutes denote what type of supplies are attached to each parachute. Out to seaward destroyers are exploding mines by the dozen. There are now hundreds of planes in the air of all descriptions, and the hillsides are dotted with white specks which are discarded parachutes. The whole scene reminds one of newsreels of paratroop landings.
9.30 a.m. Parachutes still dropping - a few have missed their mark but most of them were saved. There has been one Super Fortress flying around all morning with its escorts of fighters which we presume to be carrying General MacArthur.
9.45 a.m. All paratroopers landed.
10.00 a.m. Destroyers doing a bombardment of the beach areas, after which seaborne troops will go ashore. Barges are already in position.
It is estimated that there are about 700 Japs on the particular part of the island where the paratroopers landed, and they numbered only something like 500. Still they seem to think that that's enough, and so does everybody else. Destroyers are firing on likely targets. Douglas transports are coming in to land more troops. Supply ship "Merkur" is due in Lingayen Gulf on Sunday.
We are on our way back to the Gulf - (we are eating bully beef three times a day.)
Just a few remarks about the landing on Corregidor:
Each time the Douglas transports went over the target they dropped ten chutes; five white containing troops and five coloured containing guns, ammunition and supplies. Quite a number of chutes failed to open, especially coloured ones. Watching through binoculars, the troops could be clearly seen kicking their legs in preparation for the landing. Some paratroopers missed the top of Corregidor and went down the side of the cliff, which is sheer, and hung there; they would be rescued later. Others went down to the water's edge and some failed to open until they nearly hit the ground.
The small island to the north of Corregidor appears to be just a barren rock with a lighthouse on it, and as there had been no opposition from there it was being ignored whilst the attacks on Corregidor were being made. One of our P.T. boats went close to this small island, and suddenly the Japs opened fire with mortars and other guns. The pounding a destroyer gave it immediately afterwards would, I imagine, be sufficient to quieten them for some time.
Saturday 17 February
7.30 a.m. Have just dropped our pick (anchor) in Lingayen Gulf. Have had a few enemy aircraft around today, some of which were identified as friendly, and the rest beat it.
11.15 p.m. Bogey at 9 miles.
11.20 p.m. Two explosions ashore - presumed to be bombs - the flashes were terrific - large fires burning. All clear.
All clear until 10.30 p.m. when action alarm sounded - bogeys at 5 miles flying high.
11.00 p.m. All clear again.
All clear. The Captain spoke to us today and said "That he was now able to tell us that we would be leaving here very soon and the ship would be heading in the direction we all wanted - south and HOME" Gosh, you should have heard the cheers and noise from 1,000 matelots at the conclusion of that announcement.
USS "Boise" and "Phoenix" arrived early this morning and believe it or not the "Phoenix" had a hell of a lot of mail and parcels for us.
9.00 p.m. Proceed to sea. GOODBYE LINGAYEN GULF. It's a beautiful moonlight night and the boys on the upper deck are singing loudly and merrily - we are so happy to be heading home after such a time in the tropical areas. Looking at the many lights ashore and for some distance inland, it is hard to realise that a little over one month ago we came in here and commenced the bombardment of Luzon. I had it to the Yanks - their organisation is terrific.
A few miles further out and inland occasional flares and the sound of mortar and gunfire can still be seen and heard. That has been going on for all the time we have been here, but of course the Nip is being continually pushed further inland.
Whilst watching and listening to the movies of a night time you could invariably hear the occasional flares and gunfire - funny war ain't it?
10.15 p.m. Now steaming at 15 knots - wish they'd do 30 - want to get south in a hurry - got a bad attack of channel fever.
Captain spoke to us and told us the ship expects to arrive at Leyte on the 1st of March, where we de-ammunition, then proceed to Seeadler Harbour expecting to arrive forenoon 5th March. Remain until the 10th, exercising with the "Hobart". On the 10th we proceed to Sydney, expecting to arrive Friday, 16th, then we proceed on 28 days leave. YOU BEAUT!!!
COPIES OF SIGNALS SENT AND RECEIVED AT LINGAYEN GULF
6 AND 9 JANUARY 1945
C.T.G. 77.3 100256