Diary of William Ritchie

24 October 1944

A day to remember for the storm broke. The Jap air force really came out of hiding. From 5:30AM up until 11:PM it was one GQ after another. Many planes were hit and fell all over the transport area. It was a sight I’ll never forget and to try to put into words the certain cruel beauty of the scene would be impossible. Several planes suicide dived our ships and though the material loss was very light (only two ships that we could see, actually sunk) the loss in personnel was pretty high for a lot of the ships were still unloading and the crews were on deck. The bay was smoke and flames all day. Several small calibre shells hit our ship doing no damage. One hit about 15 ft. behind my General Quarters station and 7 men were injured. Upon securing from the last GQ, several of us went to the Mess Hall for coffee and listened to a broadcast from Australia telling of the Jap fleet coming out in force and on the way to us. There was a strange silence for we knew Admiral Halseys’ Carrier force was keeping them busy around Luzon and Formosa and between the Jap fleet and ourselves, stood only a few of our older battle ships. This bay wouldn’t be hard to bottle up and at this range, they could just sit at the entrance and pick us off like sitting ducks.