1-7 November 1944

Much the same as before with Japs becoming scarcer each day but still making nightly appearances one at a time. This was more or less just nuisance raids to keep us up at night.

 


30 October 1944

The barometer dropped drastically and the wind rose to 71 knots. Quite an experience for I was on watch (12AM – 4AM) when it came up and what a time we had. Some ships broke from their anchorages and drifted about the bay. With the congestion of the bay, this was bad. Thanks to the bad weather, air activity let up and much rest was had by all.

 


26 October 1944

Started at 4:40AM today and worked through until 11:30PM. Had a close one when a plane made a run on us off our bow. Every gun in range fired and didn’t stop until he disappeared in the water just even with us.

 


25 October 1944

Same thing as yesterday with little variation. Things started at 5:05AM and continued on and off all day, up till midnight. To say we were tired, would be putting it mildly for we had a couple of GQs during the night and early morning, one of which lasted 3 hours but didn’t fire on one plane. There were times during the day when we didn’t even open our eyes as planes out of our range were taken under fire by other ships. Just bored to death with the whole affair. Falling Jap planes became a regular occurrence and lost its appeal. Believe it or not.

 


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.

 


20 October 1944

Another memorable day in the life of the great Ritchie. At midnight we passed Dinogat [Dinagat] Island and entered Surigao Strait and Leyte Gulf. Tight squeeze for a convoy of this size with little or no maneuvering space. 5:30AM went to our first GQ. At this time we had a steering casualty and by losing control for a few seconds, we missed a mine which was picked up by the ship directly astern of us, in her paravane. Lucky, already? 6:30AM Saw our first Jap plane which flew over our convoy and was fired upon but not hit. Much too high. 8:00AM Anchored in San Pedro Bay near Tacloban between between Leyte and Samhar [Samar]. 10:23AM Troops debarked and we moved in closer to the beach. The beachhead had been secured with slight opposition. The pounding that beachhead got and was getting paid dividends in saving many soldiers lives. Several GQs during the day but we didn’t fire.