The boys off the Carrier had been in the water for 2 days and nights. They told of how the Japs bracketed her with Battleships, Cruisers and Destroyers and let her have it. The fellows claim that their ship hit the Battleship twice, one in the No. 2 Turret and one in the superstructure.
GQ at 0500. The other force was being attacked. We could see the AA fire from here. We were left alone. Secured at 0800. Up until 1300 we have had little rest. No air attack. GQ set again at 1400. One Jap Val went down. At night another Jap plane was hit. She made a mad dive at one of our Liberty ships and hit her on the after part of the ship setting her on fire. The next day she was low in the water but still afloat. Had a large hole in her. Tonight we received a PC about 120 survivors from the Destroyer Escort USS ROBERTS who were in the sea battle and also a group from the Aircraft Carrier USS CAMBE BAY, which was sunk. We expected 350 more about 2400. They arrived at 0400 on 28 October.
GQ at 0500, nothing happened. I think they bombed inland on the beach. We secured at 0530. GQ was again sounded at 0600 and the planes came in. We and the ships around shot it down. She didn’t have a chance. When the plane hit the water, it sank immediately. Well, everyone was happy then and we secured. GQ was again sounded at 0800. Planes came around but were out of range (high flying). The 5″ on all the ships fired. One was shot down by the AA fire. One strafed and dropped two bombs close to the Hospital ship. Thank God they missed. The USS MERCY is in taking out casualties.. She left this afternoon. Well, anyway, we finally secured at 0930. Most of the day has been spent at GQ as usual. Planes in and out. Another Destroyer was towed in by a Tug. She was hit in the sea battle out there at sea. This bay by the way is called SAN PEDRO BAY. That makes two crippled Destroyers. (35 dead on this Destroyer). We have been to GQ 5 times today. Only 2 hours of leisure. One Jap plane dropped tin foil to throw off the Radar. It didn’t work — it was shot down. The crippled Destroyer was hit by our own Cruiser when she went in for a torpedo run.
Today a Jap Betty came so close to our stern that the gun crew thought she would hit. It came through the smoke screen and evidently thought she was in a clear spot. The LCI’s opened fire and almost hit our ship. The gun crew had to duck in order to avoid being hit.
General Quarters at 0500. Nothing happened, although there were enemy planes in the vicinity. We secured at 0730 when the boys were about to have breakfast Flash Blue was announced and two minutes later GQ. One Val was seen and was fired on by 5″ batteries in the area. He made smoke to let the boys believe he was hit. Last I saw him he was still going. I imagine one of our planes picked him off, as they were in the vicinity. The Val and Betty seem to be Duck bait to our fighters.
Destroyer still afloat. At 0900 about 20 more Jap planes came in. Four dived on ships lying off our port side near the beach. Evidently they missed their target. They are now in the beach area doing damage. Can’t tell from here whether our fighters are in there. Its raining now and hard. Can’t see a thing. Just heard some more AA fire. We fired our guns again. One plane seemed to be hit and another seemed out of control. Must have hit the pilot. It layed out and rolled over. I guess the other Jap got her under control. What a target she made only the ships were firing at the planes diving in. The crippled Destroyer shot down one Val.
NOTE: Received word the USS PRINCETON (Carrier) had an explosion and was scuttled because the Jap Task Force was too near. Our PT Boats were out last night. Don’t know just what damage they did to the Jap Force but they emptied their torpedos and came back in. It is believed that 3 Jap Carriers, 4 Battleships and 6 Cruisers and a number old Destroyers are out there. ADMIRAL HALSEY is moving in for a position. The latest information received was that three Jap planes made suicide dives on 3 Carriers out there and prevented planes from landing or taking off. The planes did come in here and landed on the air strip. Things really seemed grave for all concerned, with a task force out only 60 miles from here. The other Carrier planes did damage to the Japs all day. The latest was that all told 2 Jap battleships were going down and lay dead in the water. One Destroyer sunk and another crippled. “Bull” Halsey and his Third Fleet was chasing another Jap Carrier Force. He sent up four of his fast Carriers to us along with 6 Cruisers.
The air-raids continued all day and one of our small boats (LCVP) got a Zero up on the beach. It seems the Zero attempted to strafe the boys and came just a little to close as they sat in there behind their 30 caliber machine guns and let him have it. They brought back the Red Insignia and were going to bring the Jap back only his body was a mess. The only damage the Japs did a plane came in and crashed into one of the oil dumps on the beach. I saw one dive-bomb an oiler and missed. The two bombs dropped right off the stern of a small boat, Boy, I can just see the fellows in the small boat.
We had six air raids today. The only time of leisure was at 1400 and 1500. All the other was mostly at General Quarters. Zitzman, one of the storekeepers came real close to a slug. It was right through his shirt and down on the deck. Another fellow was wounded by shrapnel in the hand and leg. All told, there are about nine of ours wounded.
Boy, we really have been kept busy for the last two days.
This has been a day I will never forget in all my days. At 0500 enemy planes appeared and were shot at by AA fire, but at 0800, 30 enemy planes were heading our way and all hands went to GQ. They were first sighted by our fighter planes who put at least 5 on fire who came over the mountain toward the ship. One plane slid down the mountain side in a large envelope of flame. Another on fire made a suicide attempt to crash into one of our Liberty ships and succeeded. It rammed forward of the superstructure in flames, starting a fire causing quite a lot of damage. Another plane came in on fire in an attempted suicide and rammed a tug, bounced off her into the engine room of a Liberty ship. Another still burning rammed an LCI and a large fire started which resulted in the sinking of the LCI. Almost the whole crew got off but with sever burns. We received the casualties from the LCI and the Liberty ships. The burns were due to not wearing shirts. This should be a lesson to the boys. These planes seemed to have been set afire and shot down all at the same time. Then the planes came our way and we opened fire on them. The boys almost shot down two of our own fighters who were on the tail of a Betty crossed aft of the superstructure where I was sitting. They sure came close and probably put a few holes in the Betty. The fighters must have gotten her later as they were on top of her. During this, several other Jap planes crossed our bow. We suffered 5 casualties on our ship. The Jap bomber strafed our Flag bridge and wounded 5 of the fellows. They missed the Admiral but got his messenger who was standing along side the Admiral. In fact, the Admiral caught the boy when he fell. One of the suicide planes rammed and sank a tug. The Tug lost 5 men. We have all the casualties on board. We also have the rest of the survivors. About 200 yards off the ship lies one of our Destroyers. Her name is the USS ROSS. She was out on patrol and ran into a mine and to top it off, backed down into another. She was towed in close by a Tug and is still afloat. They are going to pump water and beach her, patch her up and go back as did the Australian Cruiser and the Cruiser USS HONOLULU. All told, it is believed for the days work, both our fighters and our ships knocked down 32 of the Jap Betty’s and Vals. Most of them were shot down by our Grumman Hellcats. There is a sea battle going on tonight about 200 miles from here and one report I received was our Carrier planes had already sunk a Jap battleship with torpedoes and damaged a Cruiser.
During the afternoon our bombers were dive-bombing Jap positions here on the island. We have advanced 16 miles to date.
One of our most serious cases died at 2100. He was burned almost from head to foot. His hair was all gone and face swollen.
We went to GQ 5 times today. It really wears a guy down.
As usual, air raid at 0500 and 1830. This night one BETTY came in on us from the stern straight forward to the bow and so low that it seemed to touch our mast. We did not fire on her. If the forward 40 MM had been told, she surely would have been shot down.
As usual at 0500, a couple of enemy planes appeared. One was shot down and the other driven off. At 1830 they returned again. One came across our superstructure but we did not fire. We have been making smoke every time planes appear and everyone on board seem to be mad at the idea as it hinders the gunners from seeing a plane until it is right on top of the ship. The smoke screen is not effective at all in my opinion. The Captain also dislikes the idea but has to carry out orders from the SOP who is on the USS BLUE RIDGE.
This morning a group of enemy planes appeared and two were shot down. One dropped a bomb on the Australian cruiser and damaged her superstructure and they say the Captain was killed.
At 1130, and outrigger canoe with four Filipinos appeared from SAMAR and one of our small boats went after it, and towed it to the ship. It had an American flag and a Philippine flag underneath the American flag. One of them was taken aboard for information. They escaped from the Japs located on the island (SAMAR) not yet invaded. Very interesting sight. At 1830 enemy planes appeared again and were driven off by AA fire.