Line Drawing of the St. Louis
Editor, J. R. Jones - crew member - GM 3/c 2nd Divsion
Okinawa Operation - 1945
Jack R. Jones - 1112 N. 18th St. - Cambridge, Oh 43725
NAVY ACTION BULLETIN
In the 70 day tour of duty, 61 of the days were spent in the Okinawa area where the cruiser ST. LOUIS was on the firing line 50 days and 38 nights. The 5 and 6 inch batteryís blasted Japanese caves, pill-boxes, shore installations, fuel and ammunition dumps and troop and vehicle concentrations. The ship began what was probably the longest bombardment in Naval History March 26 th and except for 8 days devoted to replenishment of stores and ammunition was subject to bombardment and illumination call fire for the ensuing two months.
This incredible performance covering 61 days of unbroken combat operations during the Okinawa campaign by the crew of the USS. ST. Louis or as we called her "The Lucky Lou" was an epic of human endurance in the greatest sea-air battle in history. Over 1900 Kamikaze pilots made mass and individual suicide raids on U.S. Ships, 355 of them on one day (with conventional planes). When the Okinawa operation was secured, it was revealed later that 34 U.S. Ships had been sunk and more than 300 damaged.
On March 23rd we were detached from the Task Force 58 and ordered south to harass and pressure enemy forces in the southern Ryukyu Islands "Okinawa Gunto" then to us an unknown island group. The bombardment force consisted of the battleships TENNESSEE, IDAHO, NEW MEXICO, ARKANSAS, WEST VIRGINIA, COLORADO and NEW YORK. The heavy cruisers SALT LAKE CITY, PENSACOLA, WICHITA, PORTLAND, SAN FRANCISCO, MINNEAPOLIS, and the ill fated INDIANAPOLIS, light cruisers BILOXI, BIRMINGHAM and ST. LOUIS and an undetermined amount of screening destroyers. The USS Indianapolis was carrying the "Flag" for our heavy battleship / cruiser / destroyer group. We arrived March 26" off the coast of Okinawa and quickly set up commencement of shore bombardments in preparation of the assault on this island.
This battle in great detail depicts the U.S. Navyís fierce defense against a baffling and horrifying new weaponóthe Japanese air- and sea borne suicide attackers: the kamikazes. In the final days of World War II, Ďbody crashingí became Japanís last ditch strategy to hold off the onslaught of Americaís war machine on Japanís home islands. So close to the end of war and a safe return home, young sailors daily faced off against an alien yet very personal specter of death.
On April 6, 1945, the first wave of ten coordinated kamikaze attacks began to hit the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet off the coast of Okinawa. Ships in the Fifth Fleet had experienced suicide attacks before -- but never on such a scale. The terrifying sight of Japanese pilots diving their planes into ships would become common over the next two and a half months. Aircraft carriers and battleships were supposed to be the main targets, but the ships that suffered the most damage were the destroyers and smaller vessels assigned to protect the fleet from incoming attacks.
There followed a
period of constant action which consisted of incessant bombardments of Okinawa,
both pre-invasion and support, illumination and harassing fire, anti-suicide
boat bombardment, call fire, counter shore battery fire and various other duties
connected with the support of our operations. On 26 March ST. LOUIS was
straddled by two torpedoes from a midget submarine. April 1 (D-Day) her five and
six-inch guns blasted a new record in Naval gunfire - 1450 rounds expended.
ON STATION OFF OKINAWA:
It is now known as a part of history, the Japanese Government had prepared for the attack for weeks and moved everything at their disposal to Okinawa. Tokyo radio had solemnly told the Japanese people "The rise or fall or our nation will be decided." The battle for this 67 mile long island lasted from April 1st to June 2nd .
Our arrival on station brought immediate response from Japanese forces, our ships battle log records we were immediately straddled by two torpedoes from an awaiting midget submarine, the "torpedo's" were sighted running just as the helm was laid over turning the ship in preparation to obtain firing position for shore bombardment. Our skipper Captain Riggs quickly ordered a fast correction on heading causing the ship to turn between the two, one passing forward and one aft, escaping a hit that possibly could of destroyed the ship and this writer. This was to be an early indication of what we would be facing for the next 61 days. There followed a period of incessant bombardments of Okinawa, both pre-invasion and support, illumination and harassing fire, anti-suicide coast bombardment, call fire from spotters on shore, counter shore battery fire and various other duties connected with the support of our operations.
Jones (no buttons) and Saville (earphones on)
Assault landings were made on April's Fool Day, a Sunday morning April, 1st 1945, the opening of the largest Air and Sea battle ever waged on this planet. we commenced firing at 0445 AM and continued with a steady 6"47 turret and 5"38 AA mount bombardment until 0655 AM. The St. Louis fired 1400 and some odd rounds of 6"47 ammo that morning, that really depleted our magazines, all before the boats went in. When we secured the magazines and came topside for fresh air, a breather to clear our heads from the ether fumes that emerge from the opened powder cans and to help store expended "Brass", plus. The odor of exploded powder hung heavy in the air and the sky was yellow from the fumes, burnt cork from the 6" powder cartridge cases littered the decks and all corners, the silence topside was almost over whelming after such extended firing. Even those on deck talked quietly and low.
The shore line was like looking into the fires of Hell! Burning as far as we could see. What a job the Navy and Air force did. Hard lessons learned and applied from Saipan, Tarawa, Iwo and former island landings. The troop ships had come up through the night to a launch distance from the shore. About 3-5 miles out. The assault boats were in the water circling to go in. Others still on the way in from the outside troop ships.
Many of the troops were brought closer to shore in LSMís we called them tank gliders, many stopped at an LST the large shore landing ships. Troops were transferred over onto the LSTís and then replaced in "Alligators" these were boats that had treads on them like a tank, they were capable of going through water, and right up onto the beach. They couldnít come from way out because of riding so low in the water, waves would cause them to ship water, and the possibility of swamping. Mostly marines were in these.
The troops commenced the beach landings about 0710. Our Navy and Air Force certainly qualified for lessons learned and did the planned job, the assault troops made the beach landings, and proceeded inland for three miles before a shot was fired at them.
UNDER HEAVY ATTACK:
Two days later the "S........ hit the fan. Our moving and sustaining fleet of ships were brought under the most severe attacks imaginable. Our guns were extremely active for the first 15 days, records show our immediate naval group was brought under air attack on 88 different occasions during this battle by (presumed) Kamikaze suicide planes. Our cruiser was even taken under fire by enemy shore batteries on three different occasions. (They lost) The gunners on the 20's and Mk 10 director operators for the 40's were so good (experienced) that no plane could come close to us without the fact of touching or hitting us. (Maybe every ship feels that way about its gun crews) Our gun crews were credited with one "Kill" at 8000 yards with a 5 inch shell , and splashed another boogie at 100 yards with the 40's and 20's . That one was a little too close for comfort, especially when one remembers these planes were closing at 200 + miles per hour. Normal distances for kills were 1000 to 3000 yards.
kamikaze - hit and burning
I can recall with clarity, from my battle station in Turret 4 powder magazine of the distant stares of the men in the "Powder Magazine", with eyes directed at the angle between the "Overhead" and "Bulkhead" while listening to first the 5" guns, then the 40's and finally 20mm's directing fire at incoming planes. Not knowing down four decks under water in the "six inch" powder magazine, with all air shut off, and hatches securely dogged down, what was happening topside. Hearing mainly the shrill high pitched scream of the ships 4 screw shafts housed in the shaft tunnels outboard of the magazine bulkheads. These carried to us the sound of increasing revolutions bringing the ship to "Full Flank Speed" thereby allowing its highest maneuvering and sharp turning ability. ....... "A Pause in the Firing"...... then the eagerly awaited report from the "Gun Room" above in the turret "SPLASH ONE BOOGIE on the PORT QUARTER". How sweet that report was. The men would look at each other and grin or with some, a period of quiet would come over them and no talking would take place for a short period to time. Conversation would start again and until another "Boogie" came or "SECURE", "SECURE" would sound, we knew inside us that "Our Lucky Lou" (nickname for our ship) and its well trained crew had brought us through again.
When a young man, (18) death is something that happens to others and not yourself. It is very possible, I could not be sitting here at my computer putting these bits of recorded history together if our crew in its entirety had not been as competent, efficient, supportive and dedicated as it was. Our ships gunners had experience going back to Pearl Harbor, when the St. Louis was the first to clear the channel that Sunday morning and came out firing with three accredited plane kills for painting on the bridge.
MY BATTLE STATION:
I was a powder passer in the # 4 Turret magazine during the entire Okinawa campaign, I suppose I was the lowest on the totem pole because of my lack of seniority, and I know what the word "tired" means from just being on the beginning or commencing end of the firing.
At General Quarters all outside air was shut off and the magazines were sealed. This was to keep from drawing fire into the air systems in case of a hit on the ship. Fire was one of the most dangerous foes. Because of the lack of air, the magazines became extremely hot inside the handling room and the powder storage rooms. Opening the powder cans in preparation of withdrawing the brass powder cartridge allowed an outpouring of powder ether. An odor emitted from the powder itself. Some would get light headed. The men would quickly start undressing, and some would be down to their underclothes. After several days of firing, we emptied our powder cans out of the passage ways, and always pulled powder cartridges from the top of the stored cans down to deck level. This would give us more room to move around. Stretching out spread eagle on the deck on the deck at times was as comfortable a feeling you could obtain. The cool steel deck felt good to the bare skin. Upon the word SECURE! SECURE! A rush would ensue to be first up the ladder after the job of un-dogging and raising the armored hatch took place.
LIFE IN A POWDER MAGAZINE:
One part of living not thought about during these battle conditions is the Non-Ability to use a toilet facility. A crude and most primitive item used was just a galvanized bucket. Some times we would be dogged in for long periods of time. And body functions happen whether one is in combat or sitting a bus terminal in Chicago. All men used the bucket, no one gave it a thought.
It normally would take two men to open the armored hatch, it was supposed to be counter balanced but the ship had taken two severe metal twisting and stress beatings, one probably caused by the bomb hit at Green Island and the Kamikaze at Leyte didnít help either. These I suppose may have contorted the ships metal in some, any way the hatch was more than a normal person could swing by themselves. Especially reaching up over your head with one arm and hanging on the ladder with the other to swing it up and open. We had one seaman by the name of S. H. Johnson , my good friend that could open the hatch by himself. He was strong as a bull as a young man. And liked to show it. Then the mad scramble climbing the ladder up through the barbette to the hatch opening into the mess hall and the air (90ļ) up there felt cool like air conditioning, although we didnít know what that term meant back then.
ADJUSTMENTS IN BATTLE:
At Condition #1 we stood 4 hour on watch, then supposedly 4 hours off. The trouble was the off hours in the daytime normally were ships work hours, so you hardly ever got into a lay down position to sleep.. (I slept under a turret #5 overhang at night) You would be going into and out of General Quarters (under attack) so often, (Air attacks happened in the daytime) that sleep for the first 8 to 10 days of the battle was almost a memory. Iíve witnessed a man sitting on the deck with his head resting on the bulkhead in the area between the two starboard 5"38 mounts while awaiting the chow line to start moving , actually sleeping with call fire from the beach occurring and acted upon , the firing would cause his head to bounce on the bulkhead. But he still slept. Port or Starboard 5"38 mounts apparently took turns being on call and firing as directed to targets of opportunity from the land observer or from observation planes spotters. Illumination fire would be at night every 30 minutes. Other ships took turns at firing illuminating shells. It just stood to reason, one ship couldnít carry all the "Star" shells.
Our illuminating shells burned a bright white. The Japanese burned a tinted yellow color. Our tracers were red orange, the Japanese was as I remember a greenish yellow, so a person always knew where the fire was coming from. I can recall seeing a stream of Greenish Yellow tracers come up out of a valley back of some hills on the island, so I assumed these were Japanese tracers.
We cruised up and down the coast, accepting call fire from the beaches and laying down harassing fire where needed. Those first few weeks, we would expend 80-90% of our ammunition, then draw back about 100-125 miles to a group of islands with a protected harbor in the center called "Kerama Reto" for re-supply. We would arrive early daylight, leave early dusk, so we could not be observed coming and going. The Japanese knew we were in there, but our destroyers would circle the anchorage and lay down a dense smokescreen from their smoke generators over the anchorage in the evening. It was like real heavy fog that lay over us. We could hear the enemy planes flying over us at night, but they couldn't see us.
SCRATCH ONE JAP:
One night after tracking a particular nosey boogie flying above the smoke for some minutes, the port side after mount #54 fired one round with an "proximity fused" 5"38 projectile. "Scratch one Boogie" That proximity fuse was so secret in those days, we were not even allowed to take one out of the box to look at them. It took special permission to put one on a projectile and fire it. That came from the first case of them brought aboard, They were dark green opaque looking. Strange to us. Of course later we used them quite often but still not common like the set timed fuses we loaded on the High Explosive AA projectiles used for 5"38 firing when we were brought under air attack.
CALL FIRE REQUEST:
We had an urgent request one night for illumination at a certain range and bearing inside our area of responsibility. We hung two shells over the area. It illuminated a group of Japanese about 20, that were making an end around move on our Marineís. They made short work of them once they could see what was going on. We had a nice grateful thank you from the company commander for the accurate placement of the star shells.
NAVAL FIRING RECORDS:
As a part of the record set by our ship in the 61 days we were on line in the battle for Okinawa, we were documented in firing 26, 265 rounds of major (5"38 AA shells and 6"47 turret High Explosives Ammo ) not including the 20-mm and 40-mm AA shells for *Bombardment, Call Fire, Submarines, Illumination, Enemy planes, Suicide boats, Ammunition Dumps, and Harassing Fire. We were even challenged and brought under attack by shore base batteries on three different occasions. (They LOST) This record is posted and recorded by the Bureau of Naval Ordinance and is a part of Naval History. No ship ever before or after fired that many rounds in a single operation.
Loading "Turret" projectiles
Naval records also document over 1900 Kamikaze pilots made mass and individual suicide raids on the U.S. Ships. 355 of them on one day (with conventional planes) When the battle was over, 34 U.S. Ships been sunk and more than 300 damaged. The personnel casualties, for the Americans, the costliest of all Pacific Island campaigns, were 12,500 killed and missing, and 36,631 wounded. The Navy casualties were 8000 killed /or wounded, the largest figures ever suffered in the history of the Navy The Japanese personal casualties were recorded over 90,000 to battle, 16 combat ships sunk, and 7,830 planes destroyed. Over 1000 planes were destroyed by the fleet in one day. This gives a little idea of the ferocity of the battle on land and sea.
Received from John B. Leslie - 8403 170th Ave. E. - Sumner, WA - 23464-1649
I would like to relate a humorous incident that took place while we were at Okinawa. Mount 3 had been doing the harassing fire all night, firing one round about every 20 minutes. The next morning at reveille, in the crews quarters which was right under Mount 3, everyone getting up and dressing. When it was noticed John Sims climbed down from his bunk fully dressed, shoes and all.
He explained as follows:
"I got off watch at midnight last night, I thought we would be going to GQ shortly so I didnít bother getting undressed except for my shoes. I put my shoes on the beam above my bunk, I just got to sleep when Mount 3 fired, my shoes fell on my chest and woke me up. I put them back on the beam and again fell asleep again, Mount 3 fired another round and my shoes fell on my chest and woke me again, same thing happened again the third time, so I just got pissed off and put them on my feet. Every time I think of that story, I get a chuckle. Hope you do also.
Additional Memories and recalls: ( On watch from the Radio Shack)
(H-B Editor Jack)
I remember those "Call Fire's" John. Seems like every time I was in the chow line the 5" guns would fire. Sitting in a chow line, and leaning against the bulkhead was a sure way to catch some sleep. Especially in those 4 on and 4 off watches. The rattling of the ammo. elevator warned us mostly, but not if you were asleep.
While we were in the waters off of Okinawa, St. Louis received orders one evening to depart from Okinawa with some destroyers (all under the command of our captain) to intercept one of the largest Jap battleships, the "Yamato" (armed with 18 inch guns) which had been sighted heading south.
I decoded the orders and carefully typed them on a message form which showed that the message required action by the captain, the navigator, the gunnery officer and others whom I carefully designated. The typing showed additionally which officers received copies of the message. Each such officer had initialed the original to indicate his receipt of a copy.
The orders had specified the route that our task force was to take and the time (0800 on the next day) when we were to rejoin the rest of our group. Fortunately for us, Halsey sent some planes north to sink the battleship. At 8AM the following morning, I was on the bridge looking for the group that we were to rejoin. As time passed and the other ships were not in sight, I questioned the captain, who obviously was sharing my anxiety. He sent for the navigator who was responsible for the routing of our force. The navigator said that the time for joining the other ships was 0900. By that time I was on the phone to the coding room ordering our messenger to bring the message clipboard to the bridge. The original of the message showed that the navigator had received a copy, and that the jointer with the other ships was to have occurred at 0800.
I was not privileged to sit in on any conversation at that
point between the captain and the navigator.
Whitney A. Cude
........6th April, 1945 I do not recall the hour, but it was shortly before midnight because I had assumed the mid-watch as a loader on a 40mm Quad mount anti aircraft gun.
We were standing off Okinawa in Nakugusuku Wan, later named Buckner bay, when general quarters sounded. I was relieved of this watch and I proceeded to my battle station on the shell handling deck under a six inch main battery, my G.Q. position; and the ship immediately got underway.
The captain came on the horn and announced that we were on our way with a small group to intercept and sink the Japanese battleship Yamato, the world's largest battleship. Oh Lord!! It was armed with 18 inch cannon and we only had six inch caliber and or course 6" armor on our armor belt and faceplates of the turrets. Somebody must have been nuts because that ship had a range of well over 20 miles and we were doing well if we could reach 8 -10 miles. Thank the Lord their radar was inferior to ours or those guns would sink us before we could even get within range.
IJN -- Yamato Battleship underway
I was relieved when it was announced that we were to be an escort for aircraft carriers and would not have a ship to ship shoot out. That monster would have made the St Louis nothing but an oil slick on the sea before we could fire a shot.
Received in Radio Room USS St. Louis CL-49
0800, 7th April, 1945. The Yamato, its escort cruiser Yahaga and four destroyers were located at about 250 miles from us and closing fast. The attack began about 1200, or noon. The Yamato's end was not announced but it didn't last very long. The last of the effective battle fleet was finally destroyed. Our revenge for Pearl Harbor was sweet indeed.
Robert M. Goldman
2411 Stonemill Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21208-3436
Ph (410) 828-1104
We again set sail in early 1945, heading for Pearl Harbor. There, when we picked up our orders, we received a number of copies of the orders for other ships in the main body of the Pacific Fleet. Those orders constituted the battle plan for Pacific Fleet action off of Kyushu, to cover our carriers while they launched air attacks to destroy the remaining Jap air force. The next step after that was to be the taking of Okinawa and, thereby, to get in position ultimately for the invasion of Japan. We delivered the copies of the op-orders to the rest of the fleet in Ulithi. That was the first time we operated in the same force as the "big boys", (ie. the New Jersey, the Missouri, the large carriers, other battleships, newer cruisers, etc.). The fleet was of a size that stretched 30 miles from the lead ship to the last ship at the rear. In that action, the carrier Franklin was hit ( March 19th ) and was the most heavily damaged ship ever to have made it back to port. We later found out they suffered over 775 casualties.
Our fleet stayed in the area a number of days beyond the previously scheduled departure to extinguish fires on the Franklin and to protect it from further attack. We were strong enough to dare the Japs to come after us. It was as though we were thumbing our noses at them. And we were proud to follow the tradition of never abandoning our fellow sailors.
When the Lucky Lou left the task force, Okinawa was our destination.. Our assignment was to give support fire, primarily with our six inch guns, on enemy targets. I recall stubborn resistance from the Japs at Suri Castle. We were on the firing line, without any timeout for about two months, and we fired some 26,000 rounds of six inch shells. Our guns needed re-boring. On 4/12/45, when we received word of FDR's death, to honor his memory, we fired at least one round of ammo from every gun on the ship at a genuine target.
Aubrey Diehl, Pfc USMC
Former Marine serving on Light Cruiser
USS ST. LOUIS CL-49 * 1943-45
Following pages and written accounts taken from his Personal Diary.
Our unit refuels at sea in preparation for next air strike. At Okinawa ???. Late this evening we are joined by the NEW JERSEY, ALASKA, GUAM and NORTH CAROLINA. This is quite a rugged unit. Sea has been rough all day but just right for comfort. Our next strike is tomorrow morning. We are 500 mile south east of Japan and directly east of the Nansie Islands. A chain that extends directly south of Kyushu.
Reveille at 0510 then GQ. Speed 25 knots. Had a surface contact last night. The destroyer HAGGARD investigated and finds a submerged sub and dropped depth charges. Later found the sub surfaced so the DD rammed and sank it. Air strike grouped at 0630 and leave for attack. We are still in doubt to just exactly where the planes are striking.............Just found out! It was at Okinawa!!.
Carrier planes bombed at 2000 ft. Ack-Ack was moderate. Several of the planes
had to make water landings. Floating mines are often seen. It's windy and rough
with thick low hanging clouds with occasional rain. Air defense has kept us busy
all day. Scuttlebutt is that the 2nd and 6th Marine division will make the
assault landing about the 1st. At 1730 Condition (1) set. Two Jap
planes (reconnaissance) came in for a look. Windy and cloudy as hell.
Morning air strike launched. We are sixty miles off Okinawa. Course 270 true.
We are detached from 58.4 and assigned to 58.1. Battle ships of all units
bombard beaches and shore installations. In our new unit we have the CV's HORNET
and BUNKER HILL, CA cruiser PITTSBURGH, cruiser BOSTON and
Australian cruiser CANBERRA, CL (light cruiser) PROVIDENCE and two
A-A cruisers. Damage inflicted by two air strikes on Okinawa knocking out
emplacements etc by strafing, bombing and rocket fire. Very bad weather for such
operations. Cloud ceiling is 2000 ft. Heavier than normal caliber 37 mm. Ack-Ack
was termed as moderate. No air opposition or planes on the ground. Shot down one
"bogie" believed to be a "Jill". We bombard tomorrow
We leave task force 58.1 with the INDIANAPOLIS and two destroyers to join bombardment group on Western side of Okinawa. In the afternoon we pass two groups of CVE's each having five "Baby flat tops." Condition (1) was set at 1415. It has been a peaceful day and the first since leaving Ulithi anchorage. We have been maneuvering 30 miles off the southern end of Okinawa and now joined with the WEST VIRGINIA, TENNESSEE, NEW YORK, ARKANSAS, NEVADA, COLORADO, NEW MEXICO and IDAHO. The heavy cruisers SAN FRANCISCO, WICHITA, MINNEAPOLIS, PENSACOLA, SALT LAKE CITY, PORTLAND, INDIANAPOLIS and (Light cruiserís) BIRMINGHAM and our ship the ST. LOUIS with about eighteen destroyers making up our screen. Sighted land for the first time in eleven days. We are now in the East China Sea about 11 miles off Western beaches of Okinawa. "DOG DAY" is the first of April. First, Second and Sixth Marine Divisions will make assault landings The screen is clear with only one alert. It seems the Japís don't have any planes left. But that's what we though at Leyte. Note: the H.M.S. LONDON is with us. The ST. LOUIS is leading the formation.
March 26th to March 30th actions:
The PORTLAND and INDIANAPOLIS are the first to open up shelling from their main batteries. The rest followed suit. Targets are barracks. air fields and gun emplacements. Anti-aircraft fire is moderate from ground, they have firing at carrier planes all day. All units started shelling at 17,000 yds. Sub-alert, destroyers dropped depth charges 1500 yds off our st'bd beam after a torpedo wake were seen to pass fore and aft of our ship. Mine sweepers are making sweeps up and down the coast. This certainly is going to be grueling. Looks like shelling night and day and night and day for weeks.
Morning opened with an air attack. Three intended suicides and two torpedo
planes shot down. I got in a lot of pretty good shots. The ST. LOUIS, for
once, wasn't their target. A destroyer on our starboard beam is hit with 5"
and 40mm. friendly fire. The "can" had to retire from area with
numerous casualties. Set affirm (GQ) and I was caught below decks while at
breakfast mess. We left with two DD's to cover for mine sweepers. Condition (1)
set all day. Rain and strong winds made it quite uncomfortable. We returned in
the morning. Task Force 52.1.3 continues to bombard beach and carrier planes
cause damage from bombing, strafing and rocket fire.
Flash red, control yellow at sunrise. Destroyer just ahead of us took a near miss Kamikaze off her fantail. Minor alerts all day. Condition (1) set until 1715. We bombard targets from 6000 down to 4000 yds. Mine sweeper is sunk after running into a mine. Carrier planes are making continuous runs. A-A fire becoming light. Shore batteries have opened up on us but with no results.
We have approx. 30 DD's as our screen ( the bombarding fleet). There are frequent sub alerts. Up to now we haven't had the night duty. One small island with artillery and A-A battery in-placements taken without opposition. The Island, Okinawa, is a beautiful island much like Saipan. Factories, ware houses and other important targets litter the beaches. We have plenty of targets, but shore batteryís and A-A emplacementís are our prime and most important targets. Maybe tomorrow we will be close enough to use our 40mmís to bombard. Today is the first day with conditionís good enough to carry on such an operation.
Condition (1) set at 1915. Our screen opens up on "bogies." The sky
is clear with the moon shining brilliantly. No results for either side.
At 0405 Condition (1) [air defense] set after an unidentified number of "bogies" closed on us. Destroyer off our starboard bow took a near miss and the plane was shot down by another DD dead ahead. Reveille at 0500. For the past few days these mine sweepers have been constantly blowing up mines using small 30 caliber guns. We are getting closer to the beach each day. Small farm houses and dwellings that look hay stacks can be seen plainly with the naked eye. One FM2 was shot down by a DESRON but the pilot was picked up.
Carrier based planes FM2's and TBF's have been making bombing, rocket and
strafing runs on targets. Our task force, 52.1.3 put up a beautiful barrage all
day. At least a hundred fires were started. Navy demolition men go within 200
yds of the beaches to blow coral reefs for landing party passage. The smoke was
so thick the sun was blotted out and it seemed as though rain clouds were
forming. We pulled away from the area at 1545 with at least 25 to 30 fires
blazing. Reconnaissance planes report the Japs have "really" dug in.
Note: Okinawa is about 58 to 60 miles long and from three to eight miles wide.
We are about half way up the island on the East China Sea side. The population
is estimated at approx. 69 to 80 thousand civilians and about the same number of
troops. Okinawa is about 325 miles from Japan proper. We have an over cast night
and the moon hasn't broken through yet, which, by the way doesn't make any one
Condition (1) set until 1800. Ceased bombardment at 1740 after shelling the
beaches but not with the intensity of yesterday. Air alerts all during the day
but it seems as though as soon as the Japs see us they "haul tail.' At
least 20 Japs are explaining to their ancestors why they couldn't reach us.
During course of day troops can be seen along and near the beaches. Our closest
approach has been 3000 yds. LCI's have come within 200 yds to bombard with 40
mm's. Today has been beautiful except for a little drizzle earlier in the day.
Demolition men continue to blast coral reefs. A few mines missed that were
overlooked are found and exploded. The crew has been unusually jovial and good
natured since the beginning of this operation. Today is "Good Friday."
Pulled into Kerama Reto and dropped anchor for the first time since the 14th. It's an odd feeling being "stopped" completely. This place looks like submerged mountains with only the peaks and summit exposed; like the fjords in Norway. An LEST pulled along side and we took on 5" and 6" ammunition. The INDIANAPOLIS [fourth in formation] was hit by a suicide while entering the anchorage. The BILOXI was hit by a 1000 lb bomb according to the rumors yesterday but it isn't confirmed.
We head east again from Kerama Retto to Okinawa a distance of about twenty-five miles and proceeded to bombard until 1830. Condition (1) set from 1300 to 1800. Note: When we pulled into Kerama Retto, army troops were blowing up caves and crevices where Japs were holed up.
This place make a beautiful harbor, surrounded by these almost perpendicular peaks which are around 5 to 6 hundred feet high.[*Retto translated means Islands , plural] We continue to bombard at 2700 to 3000 yds and more. Main target is a suicide boat base and caves sheltering Jap troops.
( Kerama Retto, Jap spelling, Camera Retto, English.)
April 1st Reveille at 0315. "Bogies" are all around us. Five were shot down. Battleships, Cruisers and Destroyers take up their screen. All ships form and take up their stations around 0630. LST's, LCMs, PCs, SPs by the score. The LST's launch their landing boats. First wave forms, followed by second, third etc. BB's, CL's, CA's and DD's turn broadside at about 6000 yds. LCI's cover for smaller landing craft from there on. Navy planes make strafing, rocket and bombing runs on proposed land cites. Ships of all sizes and class open up. It seems the world was coming to an end. Smoke was so thick we couldn't see over 200 yd. toward the beach. Am-tracts are the main type of landing craft.
St. Louis bombarding,
First wave hit the beaches at 0837. The First, Second and Sixth Marine Divisions take the North beaches. Soldiers of the Tenth Amy (two divisions) land in our area. All landing parties hit the beaches and promptly secure the area penetrating several hundred yards with none if any opposition. One air strip and base are taken. APA's and AKA's stand in and move heavy equipment in by LCVP's, LSVM's, LCT's etc. Air attacks about 1800.
Ships lay smoke screens. WEST VIRGINIA takes a hit from one suicide. During the night we have the constant danger from Jap suicide swimmers and boats. Japs illuminate us with star shells. Modified feeding all day. Oh yes, today is Easter Sunday. Call fire from ST. LOUIS all during the night. ( Confirmed: the BILOXI did take a 1000 LB bomb, but is was a dud. It went completely through the decks and out the bottom.)
April 2nd Crafts of all makes and sizes maneuver among anchored ships and continue laying smoke screens throughout the night. We dropped anchor but it made us an easy target for these suicide swimmers, so we up anchor. Several of these swimmers have been shot before any could do damage. But one ammo barge was blown up. We continue to bombard artillery and troop installations.
Our planes bomb, strafe rocket fire several times during the day. No dope about how far troops have gone since last evening. Condition Two set which make life a little easier for the crew. One of the two army infantry division that made the landings is the 77th. Air attacks just before sunrise. No damages, thanks to the smoke generators. We have been laying off the beaches around 6000 yds. Several Japs had surrendered to ships a few days before the landings. Some were shot while trying to board to do some damage. A rumor says the TENNESSEE brought an officer aboard with valuable military records and documents. Smoke screen laid again this PM.
April 3rd Air defense sounded twice during the night. A-A fire can be seen north of us. We rearm today. Two hospital ships pull in, one being the "RELIEF" Those nurses look pretty nice in their white uniforms. We continued to rearm at noon after pulling out to an AKA. Illuminated Jap positions during the night.
More air strikes on Jap positions. This is becoming mighty boring and rumors say we'll be here until the 27th. The cruiser CL63 MOBILE pulled in yesterday supposedly to relieve us to go back Task Force 58. Fleet pulls out of anchorage at 1145 to form. Tomorrow I think we'll refuel at Kerama Retto.
Air alert at 1600. Smoke was being laid just after we pulled out. CAP splashed 20 "bogies." Most of them were Judyís. A-A fire all around us. Condition (3) set at 1945. Last night torpedoes were running wild in the area. A mine layer took one but it did not sink. Fifteen more "bogies" splashed during course of night.
April 4th Reveille at 0500. Pulled into Kerama Retto at 0720. First fairly peaceful day in almost three weeks. Refueled and rearmed and then pulled out at 1715. Water is getting very rough.
April 5th Left our force with two destroyers to cover mine sweepers operating on a small island 15 miles north west of north landing beaches. (the small island with a very short name, "Ie"). Condition (2) is set. Sea is rough, the weather cold and windy and very uncomfortable for us guys around the bridge.
GQ sounded shore bombardment at 1245. Our starboard 5"38' guns fired two salvos and received a dispatch to cease firing. The area of our gunfire is ten miles north of the left flank. Marine patrols have advanced up to this area and there was in danger of us firing on them. Authorities say the operation is 400% ahead of schedule. It is now 5 days plus LOVE DAY and the Marines have advanced at this time where they were scheduled to be 20 days plus LOVE DAY.
Our casualties on the beach have been surprisingly low. Out of 60,000 men only 600 come under the heading of dead, wounded and missing. This operation may be a picnic so far. But we'll wait and see what happens. The Japs are not giving in that easy.
(NOTE): Two days ago when eleven Jap planes were shot down, two Jap pilots bailed out and were captured. The pilots were extremely young, and contrary to belief, did quite a bit of talking. One said that now, in Japan, pilots go 1/3 of the way through school and are taken out to pilot planes just off the assembly line. They are in need of pilots so bad they have taken up the only alternative. The aerial gunners are infantrymen told to man the guns. We have been told by a good source, that the Japs have a new weapon. This weapon is somewhat like the German V-1 bomb only on a smaller scale. They carry a 1000 lb explosive charge, are jet propelled and have an open cockpit for a pilot. Their duty is to crash dive ships and large valuable targets. They are painted white and silver, have a twelve foot wing span, will do 400 to 425 mph and air fourteen feet long. Up to now two have been seen. They were found on the island.
So far today we have received dispatches to stand by for a large scale air
attack on our ships in the area.
Dropped anchor at approx. 1900. Deck guards posted. Harbor is pretty well lighted up. Condition (1) set for air defense until 1730.
April 6th Condition ( 1) set at 0600. Today was really hell. One Jap pilot shot down said one hundred planes just off the assembly line were to be sent against our forces. Task force 58 shot down about 60, our force shot down twenty at least. Every single plane that came down were intended suicides.
I got in some beautiful shots at the "Oscar" that dived on us. A destroyer was hit amidships just off our starboard bow. It caught fire, then the torpedoes tubes, and magazine blew up. The explosions went towering up to 400 feet. It was hit at approx. 1800, burned until it sank at 2010. Two other destroyers picked up survivors.
At the anchorage, one transport and a LST was badly hit about 1600 and both were burning until the smoke screen was laid. One explosion after another filled the horizon with black smoke. We up anchor at lighten ship and have been maneuvering around Ie Shima all day covering for some mine sweepers. Yesterday the NEVADA took three six inch hits from Jap shore batteries at the southern end of Okinawa. The BILOXI is back with us. The 1000 lb bomb she took went through the hanger deck and out the bottom. This day was as bad as Leyte except we weren't the ones to be hit. The weather is windy and extremely rough all day. The sky is very cloudy but high enough to see all the "Bogies" at a safe firing range.
April 7th Condition (1) set at 0515 and continued until 1915. Early in the day the SAN FRANCISCO and TUSCALOOSA joined our unit. Later in the afternoon the WITCHITA. We bombarded shore battery emplacements at the extreme southern end and we took the South west corner. The same area that the NEVADA took the 6 inch hits. The WICHITA was taken under fire, but their return fire was effective. We returned to anchorage at sunset. The waters have been as "smooth as glass" all afternoon. Our main battery set Condition (2) and knocked out and secured a Jap 240mm siege gun.
Our starboard 5 "guns continued to respond to call fire all night. Earlier today, task force 58 caught one Jap BB, CA and three destroyers off Honshu and scored direct hits on and disabled the destroyers. Later on in the day the two larger ships were sunk. Yesterdays excitement cost our forces two Fletcher class DD's and several ships in the anchorage were hit. Two ammo ships and tankers included. Army artillery fired on Japs from an island taken a few days before Love Day. The Army highly complimented the ST. LOUIS for its excellent call fire results. Approx. 36 bogies have been shot down today. We saw one Val, but it hauled tail before it got in our range . Flash red control yellow numerous times during the night. It is now 2400 (midnight)
April 8th We continue to fire our 5" starboard battery. The men in the gunnery departments, particularly the AA gunners, haven't been getting much rest for the last three days. It is more to the extremes than the days previous to Love Day. The Japs are really getting desperate. They are trying everything but without noticeable effect. The TUSCALOOSA rejoined us two days ago.
Condition (2) set at 0800 in all gunnery stations for more call fire. Total number of bogies splashed in the last three days reported to be, 391. Four Marine F4U squadrons landed at Yonton field yesterday. Bombarded south western end of Okinawa at different interval today. Condition (1) set at 1815 followed by Condition (3) at 1930. Four bogies splashed within a 40 mile radius of us.
April 9th Bombarded suspicious looking objects in Naha area. We viewed some beautiful homes and as yet haven't been touched. Condition (2) set in all stations since securing from GQ. Earlier in the morning several Japs seen in the waters wearing life jackets. There were too many of them to be considered downed pilots. The ST. LOUIS, with others in the unit, opened fire at them with rifles and 20mms. It was nice to see them get a little of what they had dished out in the past. They were all on the port side so I didn't get to use my 20mm. But I was ready. Condition (2) after air defense at 1930 for readiness of suicide boat attacks.
We illuminated South Western side of Okinawa using ourselves as bait for these boats. The night was one of the most miserable I can remember. Rain, drizzle and a strong steady wind made it so.
April 10th Rain and wind. Bogies all around us, but at 1430, Condition (3) is maintained. Our Fighter Director Ship (a destroyer) was attacked by six Valís and was left dead in the water after shooting down four at least. She was hit be a determined Kamikaze plane. The purpose of Fighter Director Ships (or picket boats) operate some distance away (100/200 miles) report suspicious or unfriendly planes closing in our area. Dropped anchor in "Bogie Bait Bay" at approx. 1100. So far in this operation the ST. LOUIS has had five torpedoes launched at her. The sea is rough with a cold, windy rain all day. This has been an another miserable one.
April 11th Underway at 0630 with Condition (3) set at 0715. Call fire from Marines against pocket resistance. We are here with the Portland and at the same place during the air attack of April 6. Air defense set at 1020, but with no action. Bogies were seen but out of our range. Our "Picket DD" was hit by Kamikaze just below the bridge. It retired under its own power. Condition (1) set at 1915, then after securing were called up again. Condition (3) set at 2005.
April 12th Condition (1) set at 0330, secured at 0405. No planes got in. General quarters sounded at 0525. One bogie splashed just off our port side. Condition (3) set at 1225. Condition (1) set at 1330 and was maintained until 2000 only to be called again at 2010. Our group did some beautiful shooting. The CL Mobile missed a Kamikaze. During the course of the day ninety-three bogies have been splashed. Our group got at least twelve. The majority going to Task Force 58.
One destroyer ( DD Sellers ) and the Tennessee were hit by Kamikazes. The Sellers proceeded to Kerama Retto under its own power. One F4U was shot down but the pilot was picked up. Condition (2) set at 2400. The weather has faired up. No one is getting much sleep. We were told we might get some mail. We have been told this before. Scuttlebutt is that we will be in Guam by the 17th. No chow, mail or sleep for quite awhile.
April 13th Friday, we pulled into Kerama Retto to refuel and rearm at about 0230. Finished at 1415 Around us, we can see several destroyers that have been hit in the last few days. The bogies seem to be picking on DDís. We have lost three or four in our group alone. No sleep, no air defense, no bogies nothing but ammunition. The guys are certainly about ready to drop in their tracks.
The mail situation is disgusting. We'll need to head to some port before long. Our chow and stores have just about been used up. The fellows got a big shock today. We got word at about 0800 that President Roosevelt passed away in Warm Springs, Georgia.
Pulled into Kerama Retto's southern approach and GQ set at approx. 1730. One Jap Val is reported off our starboard beam. The sky is clear and crisp. The 5' (mounts 1&3) opened fire at 12000 yds. At that time we could see the bogie coming straight for us. The firing pattern is perfect and the Val went down at 9500; that was beautiful shooting and the first single plane I've seen our 5' knock down. A small mine sweeper, on patrol, just off our starboard side paid us a high compliment. "I'm glad you are on our side."
Japanesse "Val" dive bomber
Condition (2) set at 1930 to harass the enemy with our star shells, provide cover for our pickets and use the ST. LOUIS as bait, hoping that these Jap suicide boats will attack us. No excitement all night. The sea is like glass.
April 14th Pulled in and dropped anchor at 0800 in "bogie bait bay" ( the anchorage in SW part of the island now called Buckner Bay named for the our army general, Simon Bolivar Buckner commander of our army units) We pick up thirty bags of mail here some time today. The sky is clear and it looks as though it will be a beautiful day. And good for shooting down Japs if they try to come in. We may have the duty to night. It looks as though our whole force is here to form, I presume. Picked up eight bags of mail at 1015 and almost immediately pulled out. At 1130 Condition (1) set followed by General Quarters. Condition (3) set at 1200. We just heard that the NEVADA, MARYLAND and Cruiser PENSACOLA are shoving off to "State Side." And we have the duty again tonight. A lot of the fellows are speculating that we'll be back in the States in August or September for a general over haul.
We have had forty-three air defense alerts in one month and at times remained at our guns over 20 hours. It seems as though we've had a thousand. Condition (1) set for shore bombardment. Got six letters today. Our bombardment area was in the South Eastern side of Okinawa just opposite Naha.
We are now with the NEW YORK and ARKANSAS, the cruiser SAN FRANCISCO and WITCHITA Several large fires were started. Our troops can be seen about three miles west. We are in a small bay or lagoon, half-moon shaped with about six miles at the entrance closed off by several small islands. The Jap fleet used to anchor here while on maneuvers. Just after darken ship two bogies came in and the New York followed them down with 40mms fire hitting the ARKANSAS as one plane crashed in the water near the ARKANSAS. The other bogie fled.
The sky is clear and the moon is in its first quarter -- so soon. It seems only a week or so ago we had a full moon. Mail call has made the crew almost jubilant. So far we haven't been assigned the night bombardment and harassing duties.
April 15th Bombarding same area. Yesterday and today the ST. LOUIS has dropped anchor to bombard. One air alert. Condition (2) is set. It is a beautiful day, the water is smooth. The fellows have had enough time to write a few letters while off watch. Held services commemorating the death of our president. Condition I set at 0230 until 0340. Condition (2) set for illuminating.
April 16th Bombarded as yesterday. Last evening the forces on opposite side of island caught the devil right after darken ship. A bogie flew across the Marine airstrip with its landing lights on, and dropped three bombs. The search light battery illuminated him (the first time for such) and was finally brought down.
Marine 40mm mount #1 strafed 180 rounds toward the beaches and started two beautiful fires which spread from house to house. Several horses can be seen running frantically. Our 5" splashed two of them. We have the duty again tonight. The other ships operating with us (WICHITA, NEW YORK, ARKANSAS, CALIFORNIA ) have to ration their fire. Condition (2) set at about 2000. Condition (1) set all day. Several alerts but no attacks. Another beautiful day.
April 17th The day opens up following yesterdays routine. Illumination fire from our 5" batteries all night. Mine sweeps are making runs on the left approach of the harbor. The soldiers are at a standstill. The Japs have dug in, so maybe our forces will make another landing in this area. The last few days have been perfect. The sky is clear and our only main time of worry is at dawn and twilight. They know we can spot them visually when it's so clear as it has been the few days past. Condition (2) set since General Quarters.
We steamed out at 1445 and headed north at 26 knots. I think to Point Motobu. Condition (3) set at 1500. One destroyer in Okinawa area (fighter director) was attacked by twenty-five Jillís and Valís. She shot down six and took four Kamikaze planes and two bomb hits and still pulled away making 20 knots. Our main battery men have filled all shell hoist and decks with AP (armor piercing) projectiles and flash-less powder. Rumors say we are forming to go north to mop up remnants of the Jap task force that task force 58 misses. All this except the ammo type is strictly scuttlebutt.
We are just off Ie Shima. Incidentally, army troops landed here yesterday. The troops have taken one airstrip and has just now run into resistance from the Japs on the southern side of this island.
The crew is in an apprehensive mood and expects to hear General Quarters sounded very shortly. The time of this recording is 1945. Affirm set several times during the night. Bogies in to three miles.
April 18th Pulled into Kerama Retto at 0730 to refuel and rearm. Stuff like this is what makes a guy want to be a 4F. Completed rearmament at 1130. Maneuvered to a tanker for refueling at 1245. Scuttlebutt is that the ST. LOUIS and a couple destroyers are to have the radar direction duty. If so, weíre going to catch the same hell these Fighter Director DD's have been getting. Pulled out of Kerama Retto at approx 1730 with the SALT LAKE CITY and later the BIRMINGHAM. Condition (1) set at 1815. The ST. LOUIS fired a few rounds of 5" to port and the bogies kept their distance. Condition (3) then set at 2100. For tomorrow our force is going to set an amphibious trap or fake landing. The nights are getting more brilliant. The moon is in it's first half.
April 19th Commenced bombarding at a point about a mile or two south of the original landing beaches. It's been raining hard all morning. At a little after noon we pulled out in clearing weather and proceeded south to same position of our previous bombarding. Condition (2) set in the morning until 1400. Condition (1) set for routine evening air alert. Dispatch says to expect a large scale air attack tomorrow. Condition (2) set with deck sentries at 1900. It's beginning to fair up and turn cooler.
April 20th Condition (2) set after General Quarters and the morning alert. Army troops gained up to 8,000 yds when this "feint" was taken under effect. ( mentioned previously on April 18) The Marines are in the process of "mopping up" on the northern end of Okinawa. We dropped anchor. The ST. LOUIS has the Radar Control duty. Condition (3) set after evening alert. Deck sentries posted as usual. Bogies have been coming and going all night, but no shots were fired cause it might give away our position. We take no planes under fire unless actually seen visually.
April 21st Reveille at 0445. Condition (2) set after GQ and morning alert. ( on April 18 the Navy put on one of the most terrific bombardments in history on Jap mortar and pill boxes that have the Army stalemated ) Today we bombard as usual with 6" and 5" battery. Up to now it has been more vicious than any with the exception of Love Day.
We remain pretty concealed in this harbor so we havenít had much aircraft shoots. Rumors say we'll be in Ulithi or Guam about the 27th. After Condition (1) evening alert Condition (2) is set. A whaleboat from one of our destroyers is patrolling our waters for suicide boats. Deck sentries posted. Large scale night air attacks on Fontan air field. Jap "Betty" bombers, with intention of dropping incendiary on our lines, dropped them on their own lines. Slight gains to the south. These Japs are really "dug" in. Mopping up on continues on Ie Shima. This is where Ernie Pyle was killed a couple days ago.
April 22nd Same duty as yesterday i.e. trying to blast out the Japs. Yesterday we got a dispatch to keep on the alert. A fifteen hundred plane attack is to hit the Okinawa area. All hands think this is slightly exaggerated.
Continue to bombard as called for. No air attacks on us but fifteen Valís and four Nickís are shot down. This formation signed their own death warrant. This force came into 20 miles then go out and after repeating such action are finally shot down by our naval and air combat. One large scale alert but Condition (2) maintained. Deck sentries posted. About twelve large man-o-wars have left this area which gives the reason for our continued night duty.
April 23rd We continue to bombard Jap held position in NAKUGUSUKU Wan ( Bogie Bait Bay , also now called Buckner Bay). The lines in our area have shifted hands numerous times. Ie Shima is in the last stage of mopping up. Ditto for Marine forces in north Okinawa.
Clouds are forming and Condition (3) set approx 1400 after a slight sprinkle. A few days ago one of the cruiser MOBILEís turret guns blew up causing numerous casualties. The ST. LOUIS has taken steps to prevent such an accident. Brass residue from firing form a coat on the bore and may choke the projectiles. One of our 6" guns was taken out of commission after an inspection. Our "Bogie" worries are over for awhile, at least a large scale attack, because Mariana Island based B-29's blasted air strips on Kyushu where the Japs concentrate their planes before a raid in the Okinawa area. Underway at approx 1430 and heading north. All guns back in commission. We'll most likely re-arm to-morrow. Two months ago today we left the states. Approximately 60 Jap planes were given the "Tally-Ho" yesterday by Task Force 58 Navy AA guns etc.
April 24th Commenced re-arming at 0745 after pulling into Kerama Retto. Drizzling or raining all day. For the first time since state side we brought on provisions. Replenishing ammo and bringing on stores has been an all day job. Lately we've had no "Joe" and rationed one piece of bread per meal per man. Our chow situation is pitiful. I've lost fifteen pounds. Some of the guys have lost as much as twenty-five. Underway at 1745 and headed east. The 10th Army Corps has lost ground since yesterday. The Russians have half of Berlin and elements of the American 9th are within 20 miles of the Russian lines. Dropped anchor in Bogie Bait Bay. Condition III set for the night.
April 25th Where are all the "Bogies" ??? This is too good to be true. One alert in the morning but it turned out to be PBM. Underway at about 0700 and heading north toward Naha. More bombardment later on today. Condition II set at 0815 for continuing shore bombardment in the Naha area. Continuous rain all last night and this morning. The troops are fighting the Japs in a seesaw battle. The Marines have landed on two small islands off Kummu Bay on the eastern side of Okinawa and are in the process of "mopping up". Forty-seven Japs were shot down yesterday but the St. Louis hasn't been touched or attacked for several days (about 1 & Ĺ weeks) which, by the way agrees with the crew 100%. The St. Louis, Wichita, New Orleans (CA 32) and other BB's etc bombard enemy encroachments and positions in Naha and on the front lines. The city of Naha is on the South side of Okinawa and has a population of about 66,000 (prewar). Three fourths of the island is now in our hands. Again we have the night duty. Weather has turned to clear at about 0830. Full moon. I wish a certain person was here!! We are anchored in Nago Bay.
April 26th Up anchor and continue bombarding as yesterday only at a longer range. Jap artillery opened up on the St. Louis while in close. Shells fell and burst right off our starboard bow and beam. Full-scale support is being given the American troops. Navy guns, Army and Marine artillery, Marine and navy planes. But still the Japs haven't seemed to be fazed. A slight drizzle about noon. Condition II is still maintained. We arrived at Okinawa a month ago to day. The ST. LOUIS has been having the night duty for about five weeks except when we pull out to re-arm or refuel. The main object of the "Bogie" attacks is our fighter director ships, our airstrips and shipping in Nago Bay. But as we are in this area we are constantly alerted. Smoke screens are laid at night as a general routine. Condition II is still maintained through out the night.
April 27th We continue to bombard the Naha area. The 10th Army Corp. is still almost completely stalemated. Full support twenty four hours of the day from by Arial assaults, Army and Marine Artillery and the Navyís big guns. The Japs to the south are taking a terrific pounding but they have the advantage. They are dug in: pill boxes, caves and the army is the attacking force. Late in the afternoon enemy artillery open up on ships at the extreme southern flank of the anchorage. The ST. LOUIS , NEW YORK and several AKAís are their targets. All ships shifted and the firing ceased at the approach of darkness with no damage. We drop anchor for routine night bombardment and illumination. One air attack on ships under smoke screen. One Liberty ship and a Destroyer hit. Condition 2 is maintained.
April 28th After general quarters, condition 3 is set, presumably to give the crew a rest. (Which incidentally, is just so much ............!!) Within 2 hours: Condition 2 set, quickly followed by: Condition 1 set. Condition 3 set mostly throughout the day. Up anchor at approx. 1400 for new assignment. At 1500 we commenced routine bombarding in Naha area. Condition 1 is set at 1830 and at 2000. The ST. LOUIS shot down one "Bogie" with Port 5"38. The plane came down about 5000 yds off our port bow. Condition 1 set in AA battery, all night with Condition 2 set in other stations, we put up a tremendous barrage all night. No one got any sleep in AA Battery. We are almost completely out of 5" and 6" ammunition. Weíll probably re-arm tomorrow. The WICHITA was hit yesterday, but up to now, no one know the extent of the damage. It is now confirmed she also was run aground and which flooded a storage compartment. The moonlight nights are beautiful.
April 29th Condition (3) set after General Quarters. Air defense sounded while crew was at chow. The Bogies turned out to be PBMís. Yesterday one pilot shot down seven "Val's" for himself. Total for yesterdays bag in Okinawa area [ 105 ] Commenced bombarding at 0730 in same area.
At 1003 this morning, Radio intercepted an AP. News dispatch from the U.S., saying that "Germany" has surrendered, "Unconditionally" The crew is jubilant!!! The Marines pulled each other out of their sacks, slapping backs and shaking hands and giving blood curdling long yells and screams. Some of the married fellows, whose wives are expecting sat down and with tears in their eyes wrote home. Everyone is visualizing just what sort of celebrations are going on at home. Incidentally it is Saturday night at home, around 7:00 PM. Even the fellows bloodshot eyes, from the lack of rest are bright eyed as stars. The Chaplain is holding Mass for all hands for prayer.
A few of the Jap piloted rocket bombs have attacked war ships in this area. But their speed and lack of training for the pilots make them almost ineffective and up to now we havenít gotten any word that damage of any sort has been effective in the fleet.
The Navy ship USS COMFORT was hit by a Japanese suicide plane. Hospital ship are not armed in any way. This is the meanest of low things they have done. In the mean time, our planes shot down one "Nell"; while bombarding Naha and sinking nine Japanese suicide boats.
We continue to keep up harassing fire on Naha. The "COMFORT" made its way back in, under its own power, escorted by a couple of destroyers in case of another attack, or emergency.
Condition (2) set at 1445. Condition (1) set in AA battery for air defense. Bogies turned out to be two B-29's over Kerama Retto. ST. LOUIS continues to bombard Naha and nearby Japanese strong points. The TENNESSEE is now with us. Japs have given a little ground on one contested ridge. It has been almost two weeks of see-saw conflict. Mount #4 is completely out of ammunition and has to be supplied by the other three while in process of firing to Port-side. The nights are brilliantly light. Condition (1) set in AA battery for air alerts. Suicide plane attacks and air defense off and on throughout the night. Due to shortage of 5"ammunition, no rounds fired unless Bogies are closing on us.
The DDís way off shot down two Japs. It illuminated the sky on the horizon.. The ST. LOUIS now has no screen of any kind. When not in an air alert, we continue to bombard and illuminate Naha.
April 30th Condition (3) set at 0630 following daylight General Quarters, As we first reach this area reveille was at 0515 but due to the approach of summer it is now at 0440. The night have been uncomfortably cool and windy. But the daylight hours are ideal. At approximately 1030 we pulled along side an LST to re-arm. We took on only 300 round of 6" which is all they had. We took off all our empty 5" and 6" powder cans. Pulled out of Nago Bay at 1330 to bombard Naha only eight miles to the south. Condition (2) set at 1500. We bombard again to-night. The weather is becoming warmer and warmer and more humid by the day.
May 1st Pulled away from Nago Bay and headed west to KERAMA Retto. Pulled in at approximately 0700. Took on fresh provisions and ammunition until 1700. Pulled away from LSTís and headed east for Okinawa. Bombard again to-night I guess. Light drizzle off and on all day. The Army sent us word that of all the things the Jap prisoners said they dreaded most was the Naval gun fire. The ST. LOUIS has fired twice as much ammunition as any other bombarding ship. The ST. LOUIS is said by ground forces, to be the best there is in this area for "Call Fire" Condition (2) set at 1845 for shore bombardment and illumination. This is a miserable night. Drizzling all night, almost with out let up. Started clearing up about 2300.
May 2nd Our initial velocity is getting awfully high. The guns now are at PA 23 and 50, they are rendered almost useless. Battle activities can be seen on the beach almost constantly. The northern most air strip of the two still in Japanese possession is the front line objective. Drizzle and rain, drizzle and rain all day. Dropped anchor in Nago Bay approximately 1830. We have the night duty. Condition (2) is maintained.
May 3rd Another miserable night. We have been keeping deck sentries posted every night in the event of a suicide boat attack. More have found in mint condition in the Naha area. Up anchor from Nago at approximately 0700. Condition (3) set for an hour or so to give the crew a chance to wash and clean up. Condition (2) again for routine firing. The sky has a low ceiling and is extremely cold and windy, the same as after or during a rainy spell. After 6" turrets open up at rapid fire (7 second salvos) at target on beaches. (Presumably troop concentration). 1st Marine Division reinforced Army unit and gained 1400 yds; More than what has been gained in our two weeks struggle. Air Defense twice to-day. The latter being in the evening. One Marine F4U shot down a bogie and it can be seen falling about five miles off our st'bdí beam. One TBF was forced to make a water landing after developing mechanical trouble following a raid on Naha. A destroyer in our force, picked up all three men. During the evening alert the AARON WARD took five suicides and was left dead in the water. Later all hands were ordered to abandon ship (this DD was on the Radar Picket duty) One fleet tug, two LCMís took hits also.
We dropped anchor way out in Nago Bay for night harassing, illumination and bombardment. Condition (2) set and maintained, interrupted only by Air Defense alerts. The weather is clearing up considerably and has turned from cool and windy to warm and calm. But as night comes we always don extra clothing. The night is beautifully clear with practically none, if any wind.
May 4th Quite a bit of nocturnal activities. Small picket boats can be seen firing 20 and 40 mmís at suicide boats, accurate firing from the beach confirmed, destroyers confirmed by illumination the action: In an area just south of Haguushi, a large number of Japs, estimated as one battalion, tried a sneak flank attack. The attack was repulsed and 257 Japs were found dead on the beach. Another 25 lost their lives after entering a small village which was their objective. The balance fled with out a fight, when they found they were trapped. The battalion was well outfitted with small arms, mortars and anti-tank guns and had provisions enough to last one week. These men seemed to be in perfect condition considering the blasting theyíve been getting.
The ST. LOUIS illuminated the approaching attackers while tanks and patrol craft hammered them with light and heavy machine guns. All this happened between 0200 and General Quarters. Condition (2) maintained but air defense was set most of the morning. At 0837 the starboard. 20 and 40mm battery shot down an "Oscar" after he completely circled the ST. LOUIS. It fell at about 1500 yds and as the plane fell the pilot fell out and splashed in the water.
The Destroyer Radar picket DD 422 the LUCE was sunk by Jap suicide divers.. The BIRMINGHAM was also hit forward just aft of turret two (2) on its top side. Fires burned up through 1400 PM. Thirty seven Jap planes and three Buzz Bombs were splashed during this mornings initial attack. We continue to bombard when not at Air-Defense. Except at General Quarters and Condition (1), Condition (2) is maintained. LCVPís lay smoke screen during evening a lot now.
May 5th The nights seem cool and day fair with lots of sun and scattered clouds. Our guns are rapidly burning themselves out. At this rate weíll be back in the a repair yard before our scheduled time. We maneuver in range just southwest of Naha. We illuminate and bombard trying to provoke and bait Japanese artillery fire. Condition (2) set practically all night. These nights are miserably cold on the guns.
May 6th The day opens following the general routine. Several air alerts but Condition (2) is maintained other wise. The sea is rough and very windy with a clear sky. The Japs are getting hammered as usual by flame throwers. (Tanks with heat tanks attached can be easily seen from the ship), from all sides they are getting Army and Marine artillery, hand gunfire plus air strikes from glide bombing TBFís, rocket and strafing runs from F4Uís and F6Fís.
Air defense set during evening a lot. This is our first free night in about three weeks, but as luck goes, I have the 12-4 watch. Condition (1) AA firing, set at 2015 and I was caught in compartment. Bogies all around us, I canít understand why overall Condition (1) wasnít set. Our "Initial velocity" on the 20's is still around .33 according to the latest dope.
May 7th The Jap planes could skim over these peaks and drop in on us before we had a chance to fire; but our C-A-P is the best and provides the greatest protection possible. Kerama Retto is an operational base for sea planes (PBMís), a refuge for damaged American ships until able to proceed to a repair yard after being patched up by a repair ship, a supply base for stores, ammunition, fuel and an advance base for tankers and freighters until called for at Nago Harbor.
Finished ammo. replenishment at approx. 1730 and got underway soon after. It has been fairly windy with heavy clouds with rain in the afternoon and continues still at 1830. We are heading east for Nago Bay. They say we have the duty to-night. Condition (3) maintained, Condition (1) set at 1835 as we approach Nago Bay. Condition (3) set at 1900 and we drop anchor at 1905. A smoke screen is being laid . This is to be my first fairly good nights sleep, but I got up at 0315 for the 4-8 watch. I saw DD 552 pass just now.
May 8th There is scuttlebutt that the BROOKLYN and SAVANNAH which have been on the East Coast throughout the war, is due to arrive here before long. Condition (3) is maintained. Commencing fire on the enemy at approx. 1915. Upon anchoring for night. Deck sentries are posted and LCIís lay smoke screens. Condition (3) is maintained as the 5" battery is all that is called for. Just illumination and harassing fire. In Naha- Gusuhia Bay with us is the BBís MISSISSIPPI, TEXAS and NEW YORK, a division of Destroyers and about a score of LCIís. The evening has cleared up slightly but more rain is expected later to-night ó I have all night in the sack, but wrote letters before turning in. Not one air alert to-day, which I believe is the first of such. The SAVANNAH, BROOKLYN and PHOENIX is said to be in the area. But it is no confirmed as far as I know.
May 9th No entries this date:
May 10th This has been an ideal day. Clear, with plenty of sun. "Bogies" can be seen at high altitudes making "Vapor" (from 20 to 40,000 feet high) Our C-A-P finishes them off as they seem to be reluctant about coming down. Condition (1) set several times to-day. The ST. LOUIS has the Fighter Director duty and have four Corsairs (F4Uís) as protection. We remain in Naha Geisuku Bay. Condition (3) set at 1715. Affirm set most of the time during the night, which makes it quite uncomfortable for the sleepers. Same went on top-side. LCIís cover us with smoke. I have the 12-4 watch.
May 11 No entry this date:
May 12th Condition (2) set at about 0745. Elements of the 1st and 6th Division Marines are within 4000 yds of Naha. One air alert at General Quarters but turned out to a PBM. No more alerts up thru 1300. The rumor about going to Leyte (or the Philippines) is becoming more and more logical. Have had engine or diesel engine trouble off and on steady now, but after all night and morning Motor Mechís working on it, it is back in running order again.
Air Defense at 1400 but a F4U tally-hoed and shot the Bogie down about 20 miles away. One FM2 burst into flames and fell behind enemy lines while making a strafing run. Reason for explosion ????? who knows.
Air defense sounded 1845. AA fire can be see over Okinawa from ships in Naha Area. The NEW MEXICO took a near miss and a Kamikaze by the stack. It knocked out four 5" mounts and lesser guns. From the latest word, fifteen men were killed and fifty seven wounded. Condition (2) set for night. Harassing fire and illumination tonight. We are still the Fighter Director ship with 4 F4Uís at our disposal.
May 13th Mothers Day today, wrote mom, but was interrupted by Air Defense. Condition (2) was maintained after the alert. The PORTLAND and NEW ORLEANS left us a day ago. The TEXAS pulled out this morning. We are supposed to have mail on one of the DDís that pulled in last night. One bag of mail brought over to us by LCIís. Got one V-Mail letter from mom. The NEW ORLEANS is back with us. This has been a beautiful but hot day. Condition (3) set at 1600.
C-47's can be seen spraying occupied ground with some sort of chemicals to kill the rats and insects. A couple of alerts but Condition (2) was maintained.
The Japs have a new plane that is almost identical to P40. It was shot down by 5" guns. The plane was painted silver and has been named "Grace". The plane is either a dive bomber or a torpedo bomber. The scuttlebutt is that we have two stars for our operations since February 28th .
May 14th We had a sprinkle during the 12-4 watch. We remain as Fighter Director ship. Condition (1) set for evening alert. A few bogies reported but kept their distance. Condition (2) set for night bombardment and harassing firing duty. A slow miserable drizzle all night long.
May 15th No entry this date:
May 16th Underway for Kerama Retto at daybreak. Pulled in and immediately commenced re-arming and taking on provisions. Got some letters today, the best haul so far. Each time we re-arm, it seems to get more and more grueling. Took on 900 cans of 40mm ammunition. Finished up at 1715. So far, more than half of the LSTís we re-arm from are built at Evansville, Indiana. They come down the Mississippi and prior to going the Pacific via Panama Canal, they pick up their first load at Mobile, AL. Their load comes from the Naval Supply base at Theodore AL.
Underway and headed east for Naha at about 1745. Condition (1) set in AA battery for evening alert. Smoke screen in laid. The moon is in its first quarter. A couple bogies shot down far out from us. Condition (3) maintained through out the night and I have the 6-8 watch which gives me all night in the sack. It was wonderful.
May 17th No Entry this date:
May 18th The 6th Marines have entered Naha. The Navy has shelled Okinawa with 35,000 tons of explosives since the beginning of this operation. We got a dispatch from CTG51 complementing us and seventeen Destroyers for such an excellent job of shooting down attacking planes. The ST. LOUIS is laying in close, putting up a terrific 5" and 6" barrage on enemy pill-boxes, gun emplacements etc. The Destroyer LONGSHORE was hit by Jap artillery in Naha area. It was reported in grave condition and abandon ship was about to be given. The Jap shell hit one of her 5" magazines and set off the other forward magazines. Her bow was blown off almost to the superstructure.
Up to-date, 52,000 Japs have been killed and approx. 1052 prisoners have been taken. Their losses, compared to ours have a ratio of 11 to 1. The LONGSHORE was eventually sunk by the Navy. Condition (1) set for evening alert, but Condition (2) was maintained through out the night for illumination and harassing fire.
May 19th Condition (3) set at 1800. To-day is the ship anniversary; six years old, but the anniversary meal will be given tomorrow. The WEST VIRGINIAN was reported to be hit by a Kamikaze, but was later reported to be a near miss. She had just pulled into Nago after an absence of several weeks. It is reported that the CLís VINCENNES, VICKSBURG and CA PITTSBURGH are now in the area. We are scheduled for re-gunning shortly, but when ???? and where ????
Condition (2) set at 2000 for night illumination and harassing duty. A squadron of LCIís made a rocket run on target at the southern end of NAKUGUSUKU Wan last night, they started numerous fires, with 40mmís fire on one of the small island blocking the entrance of the Bay. Never did find out what whey were shooting at. It was bum dope we found out about the SAVANNAH and the BROOKLYN arriving here, as we soon found out.
May 20th Third time the ship has not gone to morning General Quarters, but as usual Condition (1) set in AA battery. Underway and proceeded out of NAKUGUSUKU Wan at 0700. Presumably for Nago Bay. A beautiful moon light night, opens into a fair and comfortable morning. One of the small island is under bombardment by Destroyers and LCIís. There is strong and convincing scuttlebutt that we leave for Leyte either Monday or Tuesday. The ST. LOUIS has fired more rounds per gun 11,774 6" projectiles , 11,842 5" projectiles, from March 26th to May 18th than any other ship in the Okinawa campaign. 3918 tons, that is 3% of the 35,000 tons total ship firing. It is said the ST. LOUIS may have set a new record for any Naval Bombardment in any single campaign. The WICHITA and the ST. LOUIS are the only two major fleet units that have remained in Okinawa throughout the operation without being relieved. The WICHITA ran aground a few weeks ago.
We pulled in at Naga Wan. Condition (3) maintained and during evening alert several bogies were shot down about 20 miles west of us. One Destroyer transport was hit and Destroyer took a near miss. A mine sweeper took a Kamikaze. This is an odd evening for Okinawa. It is hot, humid and no wind and a low ceiling. When the smoke screen was laid the smoke went straight up and finally began to spread out. I have all night in; the 6-8 watch. Rumors have it we go to Kerama Retto to rearm our 5" ammunition. Then probably for Leyte the day following.
May 21st No entry this date:
May 22nd After the evening alert Condition (2) is continued. At lest six planes are shot down during the evening alert alone. It has become such common talk to hear of Japanese planes getting shot down, that doesnít seem important enough to record. Except on a large scale air strikes. Our C-A-P has shot down 90 to 100 planes trying to reach our shipping area around and in Okinawa. The night is clear with a very high overcast which is strong and steady and a cool breeze from the southwest.
May 23rd After our routine General Quarters the day runs parallel with yesterdayís activities. We are in turn to re-arm but due to the lack of 6"ammunition we have rationed our fire, so to speak, until there is a supply at Kerama Retto. The morning is clear and cool with a cool breeze and a very high overcast which provides good protection from the air. The bogies can dive through the clouds and still be high enough to be noticed in time to fire. Organized resistance has diminished to only "pocket" resistance. But even as such, our lines have had no major or outstanding changes. The Americans continue to steam roller the Japs. No large air strikes on the Japs positions for the last few days.
A steady rain begins at 1330. It has been extremely cool for the last few days. We up anchor at approximately 1600. It continues to rain. Condition (2) set at 1500. Deck sentries posted. Mail came aboard prior to leaving NAKUGUSUKU. No evening air alert. We snake dance tomorrow. Condition (1) set in AA battery at 2015 Condition (2) resumed at 2100. "Make Smoke" No wind and has slacked off raining at 2130.
May 24th No General Quarters, this has been the most peaceful day since Ulithi. Condition (2) has been maintained all day and with not a single alert up to 1630. We are to get under way at 1730 we are still at Nag Wan, just a mile of Point Bolo/ The weather is warm and with plenty of sun. I have the 6-8 watch and unless something turns up ó all night in the sack. Condition (2) set for evening alert followed by GQ. Condition (2) set in all stations after the alert by condition (1) maintained in the AA battery. Plenty of nocturnal air activity. The Japs took advantage the beautiful moonlight night but constantly keep the AA personnel on alert. Several air attacks on ships in Okinawa. Fifty seven "Boogies" are shot down was the final count for the night.
May 25th No entry this date:
May 26th No General Quarters as its still raining and with a thick overcast. Condition (3) set at approx. 0700 and is maintained except for one air alert. Four Japs splashed 40 miles to the north. From March 18 to May - 3490 Jap planes have been shot down. Yesterday two pilots flying F4Uís attacked a formation of 30 "Zekes" and shot down seven and sent the remainder into a terrifying attempt to get back. Rain all day. The MISSOURI is now in Nago Harbor and it is said Admiral Halsey is aboard with his staff.
Routine evening air alert. It has ceased raining at this time but rain clouds hover over us. We have remained at Nago since this morning Condition (3) is set and I have the 12-4 watch. Again. We are to go to Kerama Retto. Cruisers and Battleships have been harassing south of us near Naha.
Major Fleet units now in this area, are the IDAHO, MISSISSIPPI, MISSOURI, TEXAS, NEW YORK. The NEW MEXICO hasnít left for repairs and she remains at anchor in Nago Wan. The cruisers VINCENNES, MOBILE, VICKSBURG, ST. LOUIS, WICHITA, NEW ORLEANS, FRISCO, TUSCALOOSA and maybe the DENVER which is supposed to just come in.
May 27th More rain commencing just before reveille. Cmdr. Smith came aboard from the MISSOURI as our new Executive Officer. Condition (1) set at 0830 followed by Condition (3) at 1200. Still raining. Seven bogies shot down. A "DMS" shot down two and was crashed dived by the third. I canít keep track of all the ships that get hit. What I write is only in the immediate vicinity of Nago and Okinawa. We leave tomorrow for ó Leyte ??? Six months ago at approx. the exact time (1210) we were catching hell at Leyte Gulf. An LCI brought out mail bags at 1100 Approx. two full bags. As we are completely out of 6" Ammunition forward and with a little left aft, we havenít had the duty. No telling when 6" ammo. Will be brought into Kerama Retto. But with the VICKSBURG, QUINCY and VINCENNES we can rest for awhile as they have full magazines. We have been at Okinawa two months and two days to date.
Condition (1) set in AA battery for evening alert. Several bogies shot down. One destroyer was hit by Jap shore batteries south of here toward Naha. All ships in that area BBís and CLís and CAís open up with all they have to knock it out. Tracers from the main batteries can be seen arching from the ships to the target. The MISSOURI is down there throwing a few in also. Condition (2) set at 2030. We definitely leave for Leyte to-morrow. Word came over the PA system.
May 28th After General Quarters was sounded, Boogie #17 came in off our port beam. It was a "Pete" and also the first plane Iíve seen shot down by a direct hit 5" hit. The boogie completely disintegrated into a million pieces. It wasnít quite daylight so the flack was brilliant. The ST. LOUIS, WICHITA a Destroyer and a couple of cargo ships claimed it. Later on an "Oscar" dived thru the clouds at us, but missed and was shot down by a destroyer. The Japs sent thirty different raids to strike the shipping and bomb Yonton airfield. A couple nights ago one Jap transport landed at Yonton and 20 Japs jumped out and with themselves made up as human bombs destroyed six of our transports.
May 29th The ST. LOUIS, WICHITA, and SALT LAKE CITY leave at 1100, we are underway for Leyte. We are due to arrive there Thursday. This is Monday. Now for a little piece and quiet. Field day today. Clean up. Remained at condition (1) all morning. The Destroyers HALL, LEARY, and FOX make up our screen. I have the 6-8 watch.
NAVY ACTION BULLETIN
In a 70 day tour of duty, 61 of the days were spent in the Okinawa area where the cruiser ST. LOUIS was on the firing line 50 days and 38 nights. The 5 and 6 inch batteryís blasted Japanese caves, pill-boxes, shore installations, fuel and ammunition dumps and troop and vehicle concentrations. The ship began what was probably the longest bombardment in Naval History March 26th and except for 8 days devoted to replenishment of stores and ammunition was subject to bombardment and illumination call fire for the ensuing two months.
This incredible performance covering 61 days of unbroken combat operations during the Okinawa campaign by the crew of the USS. ST. Louis or as we called her "The Lucky Lou" was an epic of human endurance in the greatest sea-air battle in history. Over 1900 Kamikaze pilots made mass and individual suicide raids on U.S. Ships, 355 of them on one day (with conventional planes). When the Okinawa operation was secured, it was revealed later that 34 U.S. Ships had been sunk and more than 300 damaged.