On a serious note.
every time I see one of these little sea flea units I am reminded of the real life Battle of Samar where Taffy 3 a small task force almost identical to these sea flea units fought a heroic battle against a vastly superior Japanese force. This battle has been described as the American Navy's finest hour and a battle where Unimaginable bravery turned certain defeat into a legendary victory. If you haven't heard of this battle please look it up and read about it, for me in all of WWII there is nothing else that comes close to being as astounding as this single battle. It truly demonstrates why the generation that won WWII is the greatest generation in history.
here is a link for you all to check out.
this is taken from the military reports of the battle and some from the board of inquiry for Adm. Halsy. But its actually pretty good.
I will give a brief description of the battle with some quotes from the above link and some from the history channel episodes i have seen and some from the book " the Last Stand of the Tin Can Soldiers".
The Battle off Samar was the centermost action of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles in history, which took place in the Philippine Sea off Samar Island, in the Philippines on October 25, 1944. As the only major action in the larger battle where the Americans were largely unprepared against the opposing forces, it has been cited by historians as one of the greatest military mismatches in naval history.
In no engagement of its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar"
6 escort aircraft carriers
Japanese Center Force
please note that one of the Japanese battle ships was the Yamato the most powerful Battle ship in the world.
In a battle that James D. Hornfischer would call "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors", the very powerful force of Japanese battleships, cruisers, and destroyers commanded by Admiral Kurita engaged a US task unit of six escort carriers, three destroyers, and four destroyer escorts. The Americans were taken entirely by surprise because the Seventh Fleet had firmly believed that its northern flank was being protected by Admiral Halsey's immensely powerful 3rd Fleet, which consisted of eight fleet carriers and six fast battleships.
Taffy 3 literally looked up and saw the Japanese fleet bearing down on them at full speed, that was all the warning they had. Adm. Sprague ordered Taffy 3 to retreat and they attempted to flee. Most of taffy 3's planes where already airborne on either anti sub patrol or ground support of the landing troops and all where already loaded with either depth charges or anti personal bombs not a single plane had a torpedo or armor piercing bomb. all planes where ordered to engage the enemy and those on the carriers where launched immediately with what they where already armed with. All planes where told to attack then head to an air base on a nearby island because it was feared none of the escort carriers would survive, the enemy was too close.
Ernest E. Evans, commander of the destroyer Johnston, the closest to the attackers, took the initiative first. Seeing that it was impossible for the escort carriers under his protection to escape he decided to turn and fight to buy precious time for the little carriers. So the USS Johnston turned and charged full speed into the mouth of hell.
The planes of Taffy 3 had been strafing the Japanese fleet and watching their depth charges and bombs bounce harmlessly off the armored decks of the warships started to break off and head to the nearby airfield to refuel and rearm when they saw the USS Johnston charging all by itself at the enemy. the tiny destroyer had so many shells exploding around it that at times it was blocked completely from view. Horrified that one of the destroyers was charging with no help the pilots turned and continued to dive and make mock attacks at the enemy ships after they had run out of all ammo just trying to distract the Japanese gunners in an attempt to offer any help they could.
The USS Johnston charged on until it was in torpedo range and launched her torpedoes and by god blew the bow off of the heavy cruiser Kumano, she then circled around for another torpedo run and was hit on her foredeck by a 14" shell so hard that it stopped her dead in the water. from 34 knots to a dead stop in a split second. Witnesses said the tiny ship was lifted clear out of the water it was hit so hard. repair crews went to work and soon got one engine running and at half speed the Johnston turned and started to withdraw from the battle.
Then three 6 in (152 mm) shells, possibly from Yamato, struck Johnston's bridge, causing numerous casualties and severing fingers of Captain Evans' left hand. The bridge was abandoned and Evans proceeded to steer the ship back towards the fleet, shouting orders from aft down to men manually operating the rudder from aft, when he noticed other destroyers starting their torpedo run.
Emboldened by Johnston's attack, Sprague gave the order "small boys attack", sending the rest of Taffy 3's destroyers and destroyer escorts on the offensive. They attacked the Japanese line, drawing fire and scattering the Japanese formations as ships turned to avoid torpedoes. Despite heavy damage, Evans turned Johnston around and reentered the fight while damage control teams restored power to two of the three aft turrets.
At 0910, a direct hit on one of Johnston's forward turrets knocked it out and set off many of the 5 in (127 mm) shells stored in the turret. Her damaged engines stopped, leaving her dead in the water. As her attackers gathered around the vulnerable ship, they concentrated fire on her rather than the fleeing carriers. Johnston was hit so many times that one survivor recalled "they couldn't patch holes fast enough to keep her afloat."
At 0945, Evans finally gave the order to abandon ship. Johnston sank 25 minutes later with 186 of her crew. Evans abandoned ship with his crew, but was never seen again. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. As a Japanese destroyer cruised slowly by, the survivors saw the enemy standing at attention to salute.
USS Samuel B. Roberts
At 0851, the Japanese landed two hits, the second of which destroyed the aft gun turret. With her remaining 5 in (127 mm) gun, Roberts set the bridge of the cruiser Chikuma afire and destroyed the No. 3 gun turret, before being pierced again by three 14 in (356 mm) shells from Kongō. With a 40 ft (12 m) hole in her side, Roberts took on water, and at 0935, the order was given to abandon ship. The ship sank in 30 minutes, with 89 of her crew. She would go down in history as "the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship".
Hoel now found herself crippled and surrounded by the enemy. During the next hour, the ship rendered her final service by drawing enemy fire away from the carriers. In the process of fishtailing and chasing salvos, she peppered them with her two remaining guns. Finally at 0830, after withstanding over 40 hits from 5 to 16 inches (127 to 406 mm) guns, an 8 in shell stilled her remaining engine. With her engine room under water, her No. 1 magazine ablaze, and the ship listing heavily to port and settling by the stern, Kintberger ordered his crew to "prepare to abandon ship." The Japanese fire only stopped at 0855 when Hoel rolled over and sank in 8,000 yd (7,300 m) of water, after enduring 90 minutes of punishment after her first hits.
Heermann sped to the starboard quarter of the carrier formation to lay more concealing smoke and then charged back into the fight a few minutes later, placing herself between the escort carriers and a column of four enemy heavy cruisers. Here she engaged Chikuma in a duel which seriously damaged both ships. A series of 8 in hits flooded the forward part of the US destroyer, pulling her bow down so far that her anchors were dragging in the water, while one of her guns was knocked out.
the Heermann was the only destroyer to survive.
While its true that all the carriers in taffy 1,2 and 3 had a total of 400 airplanes. it was almost 90 mins that the tiny destroyers battled the giants from japan alone. due to the planes from taffy 1 and 2 all being loaded with the wrong things and having to go back to their carriers and rearm and the planes from taffy 3 had to attack with what they had and most of them continued to harass long after they where out of ammo to try and help the destroyers, they only left the battle when they ran out of fuel.
the Japanese where so close to the carriers that the carriers where engaging the enemy with their lone 5inch guns. they where running into and out of smoke screens and rain squalls to survive and their top speed was only 17 knots half that of the slowest Japanese ship.
The only thing between the cargo,supply,troop ships and men on the beaches at Leyte and the huge Japanese fleet was Taffy 3 and Taffy 3 stopped them cold and caused them to withdraw. Taffy 3 lost over 1000 men.
Casualties and losses
2 escort carriers
1 destroyer escort sunk
3 heavy cruisers sunk
3 heavy cruisers damaged
1 destroyer sunk
1 destroyer damaged
that's a very brief synopsis of the battle and each destroyers story is worthy of a movie by itself. the whole thing is quite amazing and if you like WWII, I urge you to look into it a little deeper.
< Message edited by 82ndtrooper -- 8/27/2010 8:35:33 PM >
HHC 302nd Engineer Battalion
82nd Airborne Division
Honorably Discharged Jul/80