Start of the War, first offensive action

Marshall's - Gilberts Operations

Updated 04/26/2015

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The Raid on Japanese bases in the Gilberts and Marshalls February 1, 1942.

      Compared with present standards, the task force that struck the Gilberts and Marshalls would seem almost impotent. It embodied no battleships at all. It had only one light cruiser, the St. Louis; then there were four heavies and ten destroyers. The nucleus was two carriers, the U. S. S. Enterprise and the old U. S. S. Yorktown. Yet the intrepid handful succeeded in inflicting damage by bomb and bombardment upon nine islands in the two groups, and some of the damage could be described most accurately as severe. Jap air units apparently were elsewhere at the time, crew members of the St. Louis, for instance, recalling that they saw but one enemy plane during the complete operation


Marshall-Gilberts Island Campaign Memories:
This was the incident described by Pete Reeve

During the Saipan-Tinian operation we withdrew and operated to the east of the islands. One dark night I was on watch in the forward Mk. 37 director. The group made radar contact on a small target off the starboard bow. Two destroyers were ordered to investigate. As they headed towards the target the two skippers had an interesting TBS conversation:

"OK this one is mine I'm going in!"
"The hell you are, I have numbers on you, get your ass out of here and stand by".
"Damn you, this is no place to pull rank on me".  

   The conversation ended there when a searchlight went on and illuminated a submarine on the surface. A shower of 40mm. tracers and five inch shells showered the sub, passing through her and bounding into the darkness. The bow rose vertically out of the water and then silently slid stern first straight down.
    Those standing bridge watches during the Saipan operation can never forget Admiral Kelly Turner's night instructions to his amphibious force units the night of the landings. From sunset to sunrise the air was flooded with a steady stream of forceful, colorful, and often vulgar language describing the genealogy and mental ability of the amphibious force units. I was thankful that his tirade was not directed to us. Maybe he was trying to scare the Japs.... he was scaring everyone else.