Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Journal Begins: February 28, 1945

28th ___ We left T... 00 _ we were really sorry to leave, ... [w]ere soupose to go at 1500 but somethi[ng] had to be fixed at the last minute. ... could see the lights of Long Beach till ... (Write to Dell.)

Elena's notes:

Reminder: Joe's word's are in black, my notes in blue. Where he missed a period or indented, I put a pink spacer.

"..." is used where the pages were too damaged for anyone to understand the words. Where I felt I could make educated guesses to the voids, I put my letters in brackets. As you can see,there was a lot of damage to this page. Only the first few pages of the journal has damage like this.

T = Terminal Island, California, the Navy Yard where the Mobile had been repaired. The "lights" Joe mentioned had only recently been turned back on, after the blackout restrictions were lifted. The photo above shows Long Beach as it looked in 1945.

1500 = 3 pm.

Dell was Joe's girlfriend from Long Beach.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The 1945 Journal: Editor's Notes

In 2 days I'll begin posting the 1945 journal entries. I'm taking a one day break first.

I intend to reproduce the journal exactly as Joe wrote it, only changing his spellings or adding punctuation where Joe's usage might cause confusion. All my additions will be in brackets. Joe's words will be in black. Anything added to the page by me will be in blue.

Joe only used apostrophes for "not" contractions. In an effort to keep the entries cleaner, I won't add them elsewhere. His meanings are usually obvious--just remember that the word "were" should often be read "we're." Also, Joe frequently forgot periods. To show where one sentence ends and another begins, I'll add an underline in a lighter color.

In places where damage to the book, spelling, or handwriting made words difficult to decipher, my guesses will be in brackets, or I'll insert a question mark in brackets where I don't feel comfortable hazarding even a guess. An ellipsis (three dots ...) will indicate where the page is ripped and words are missing.

Because it drives me nuts when I have figure out all the naval terms and abbreviations in books like TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC, I'm going to put notes below each entry where necessary, for readers like myself who are clueless in such matters.

Lastly, I'll add footnotes in an attempt to clarify some of my uncle's references. Wherever I could find the information, if he gave a ship's number, I'll list the name. If he mentions damage, casualties, or the sinking of a certain ship, I tried to find more of the story, mainly to give you a better idea of what Joe witnessed, but also to honor those lives lost by passing on a tale they were never able to tell themselves.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


December 17 through January 11, 1945

Task Force 38 was out in the middle of the Philippine Sea on December 17th, trying to refuel when, with no warning, a typhoon hit, carrying wind gusts up to 70 knots. (More than 80 miles per hour. Not the most powerful typhoon, but by all accounts, this was a tight and nasty little storm).

Because the projected path of the typhoon had been northerly, the American fleet tried sailing west, then south to avoid it, which only placed them more deeply into the storm's path. Many of the ships, in anticipation of taking on the added weight of new fuel, had already emptied their ballast tanks, which essentially made them top-heavy. Three destroyers capsized and sunk. Many other ships were damaged, with the loss of nearly 800 men. When weather improved on the 19th, the task force conducted a two-day search for survivors of the lost vessels.

A one-day strike was scheduled for December 21st, and Task Force 38 tried to comply, but as they sailed westward, weather and sea conditions became more hazardous, so the operation was canceled. Instead they proceeded to Ulithi and from there, on Christmas Day, 1944, the Mobile was directed to Navy Drydocks, Terminal Island, California for repairs and yard work, with a one-day stop at Pearl Harbor en route.

She arrived on the West Coast January 11, 1945. Many of her crew, including Joe, were allowed to go home on leave.

The above information was taken from Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 13.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Early December 1944

Task Force 38 had been at sea without a break for 84 days. They'd lost several ships and hundreds of men. Many vessels were in need of repairs. The sailors aboard the surviving ships had lived in a state of heightened alert for nearly three months, witnessing scenes of unbelievable carnage almost weekly.

In early December, after the engagement in the Phillippines, Task Force 38, including the Mobile, was given a ten-day period for rest, recreation, replenishment and repairs at Ulithi before being sent back to the Philippines. There, beginning on the 14th, they spent three days bombarding the air strips and harbor on Luzon and Mindoro Islands. Troops were landed on Mindoro on the 15th (photo).

From the "Data" section of Joe's journal:
Philippine Is. __________ Dec. 14, 15, 16, 1944
Luzon _ } _ Air strips
Mindoro } _ or harbor & air fields
We landed troops on Mindoro on 15th of Dec.

235 Jap planes destroyed_ } 3
138 " __ " ___ damaged _ } days

Jap ships sunk
1-large oiler
1-Medium oiler
1-mine layer
7-small craft
5- _ " _ vessels

Jap ship damaged
8- small cargo ships
4 - destroyers
2 - destroyer Escorts
1 - large cargo ship
1 - large transport

Fuel & ammunition dumps destroyed on Angeles & Clark fields
4 - locomotives _ 6 cars destroyed in Lozon area.
15 Railway cars destroyed & a trucking convoy & a sugar factory damaged.

"Lozon" in last entry is a misspelling of Luzon.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Late November 1944

Task Force 38 went back to Ulithi for more replenishment and were anchored in the lagoon there the morning of November 20. Lookouts on the Mobile sighted the periscope of a Japanese midget submarine, which was fired upon. Later, when they spied another disturbance in the water, the Mobile's crew coached two destroyer escorts into position for depth charge attacks. Shortly after, two Japanese sailors and considerable wreckage came to the surface. Photo is from that attack.

The force returned to Luzon Island, Philippines by November 25, where, amidst both heavy air and submarine attacks, they commenced more strikes on the Manila area. While torpedoes exploded in the water as close as 200 yards from the Mobile, the crew assisted in bringing down one plane. Another crashed into the carrier Essex in their group, and two more into carriers Cabot and Intrepid of group 38.2. The carrier Hancock, also of that group managed to avoid a direct hit, but was damaged by falling debris.

Information on the November 25th engagement was taken from Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 8.

From the Data section of Joe's Journal:

Philippine Is. _____________ Nov 25
"Manila Area" air strike
Jap ships sunk
1 Heavy Cruiser
3 destroyers
1 destroyer escort
3 landing ships
2 large cargo ships
4 small cargo ships
4 oil tankers
2 luggers

Jap ships damaged
2 destroyers
4 large Cargo ships
4 medium cargo ships
1 small cargo ship
2 oil tanker
3 landing craft
1 small coastal ship
9 - luggers

Japs planes shot down _______ were 58
_" ___ " ___ destroyed on ground " _61

Sunday, February 21, 2010

November 11-14, 1944

On November 11, the task group struck again at shipping west of Leyte Island (Joe called this Leyte Harbor), then zipped back to Manila Bay at dawn on the 13th for more air strikes. According to Joe (below) American planes were lost in both operations.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

Philippine Is. ____________
Nov. 11, 1944
(Leyte Harbor) air strike
__ sunk
5 DDs
4 transports
1- DE
Japan lost 18 planes shot down in the air
__we lost * planes

Philippine Is. ___________ Nov. 13, 14
Manila Bay - air strike
Jap ships sunk & damaged.
1 C.L.
4 DDs
21 AKs
6 H.K.
6 cargo ships
Jap planes shot down 28
" __" ___ destroyed on ground 35
We lost 6 planes.

* - In this spot Joe drew an arrow pointing upward, possibly meaning that the Americans also lost 18 planes.

DE = Destroyer escort ship
CL = light cruiser
AK = cargo ship
Not sure what HK means. Possibly another type of cargo ship?

Saturday, February 20, 2010


November 5-6, 1944

In November, after a quick replenishment of supplies and ammo at Ulithi, the Mobile was sent back to the Philippines for air strikes and strafing of Manila Bay. On November 5th, the Mobile's group was first targeted by Kamikazes, a newly-formed elite corps of Japanese suicide planes. "Kamikaze" means "Divine Wind" which was the name give to the typhoon of 1281, that destroyed two fleets sent by Kublai Khan to conquer Japan.

The Moe's crew managed to shoot down one Zeke and one Judy that were diving over the carriers, and also assisted in the takedown of another plane, but a fourth crashed into the carrier Lexington, killing 50 men, wounding 132. Photo shows the crash.

Zeke = Mitsubishi Zero-3 fighter.
Judy = Aichi dive bomber.

Information on this first Kamikaze attack and the Lexington incident were taken from Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 8.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

Philippine Is. ___________ Nov 5 & 6 1944
Luzon ____ } __ air strike & strafe
Manila Bay_ } __ on Manila Bay
Jap ships sunk _______ damaged
1 heavy cruiser ____ 1 light cruiser
1 tanker _________ 7 DDs
2 sub. Chasers. ____ 2- D.E.s
_______________ 14- transports

Jap planes shot down _______ 120
" __ " __ destroyed on ground. 327
" __ " __ straffed __" __" ___ 312
Total Jap planes destroyed __ ( 759

DE = Destroyer Escort Ship

Friday, February 19, 2010

October 20-27, 1944

Task Force 38 regrouped at the Philippines for air strikes and troop landings on Leyte Island on October 20. The Japanese sent surface forces to retaliate and, without a rest, the Mobile found herself in the middle of the week-long Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Enemy air attacks were constant, with approximately 150 planes reported. The Mobile was in Task Group 38.3 which also included the light carrier Princeton. On October 24, one lone Judy dropped a bomb on the Princeton's flight deck, port side (photo). The bomb passed through three decks and exploded in the ship's bakeshop. Gasoline from the hangar deck ignited, setting off the torpedoes stored on the airplanes. Orders were given for all but the fire-fighting crews to abandon ship. Many sailors simply jumped or slid down the lines into the water and tried to swim against the rough seas to a destroyer that came alongside. Many of those who managed to grab the cargo nets hanging from the side of the destroyer were knocked back down by stronger men climbing over them.

When the Birmingham, one of Mobile's sister ships, came alongside to help fight the Princeton's fires, a huge explosion on the latter sent steel debris down on the Birmingham, causing horrendous casualties. Many were burned and decapitated. The Birmingham was sent back to the West Coast for repairs. The Princeton, which couldn't be saved, was abandoned, then torpedoed and sent to the bottom.

The next day the Mobile was sent to Cape Engano, the northernmost cape on Philippine island of Luzon, with orders to search for and destroy all crippled enemy vessels. When they arrived, the Imperial light carrier Chiyoda was dead in the water. Several Japanese destroyers, including the Hatsuzuki, were attempting to rescue survivors.

The American force stopped the rescue effort by sending the Chiyoda to the bottom with her entire crew of 1470 men. The other Japanese destroyers fled, but the cruiser group pursued the Hatsuzuki until after dark, using star shells to illuminate their targets. Three hours later they saw her explode and sink, also with all hands. The Mobile was credited with assisting the two sinkings.

Information was taken from Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 8.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

Philippine Is. ____________ Oct 20 to 27
Leyte - air strike troops landed on Leyte Oct 20

__ (sunk) ____________ Pro[b]. sunk
4 aircraft carriers ____ 1 Battle ship
3 Battle ships _______ 4 heavy cruisers
6 heavy cruisers _____ 1 light cruiser
2 light cruisers ______ 6 DDs
16 destroyers

Jap ships damaged
6 heavy cruisers _____ 6 BBs.
3 light cruiser ______15 DDs.

DD = destroyer
BB = battleship

Thursday, February 18, 2010


October 12-17, 1944

By the 12th, the fleet had reached Formosa and begun a heavy air strike. At sunset, Japanese planes came. Their air attack lasted throughout the night. Mobile's anti-aircraft battery shot down one. More Allied strikes were launched the following morning, with more enemy air attacks beginning again at sunset.

During these attacks, the heavy cruiser Canberra was struck below her armor by an aerial torpedo which ripped a huge hole in her engineering spaces, letting in 4500 tons of water and killing 23 men. Miraculously, the ship didn't sink, but she was dead in the water. (The USS Canberra was a new American cruiser, but instead of being named for a U.S. city, she was named to commemorate an Australian cruiser sunk at the Battle of Savo Island on August 9, 1942.)

The USS Wichita was directed to take the Canberra in tow and Mobile's cruiser division (ominously, number 13) was ordered to escort the cripple, along with six destroyers. This was designated Task Group 30.3, commanded by Rear Admiral L. T. DuBose. On the morning of October 14th, they began their withdrawal southwest toward Ulithi at a slow 3 knots (3 nautical miles per hour, which for a landlubber, would be about 3.5 miles per hour. Imagine a normal walking speed).

They were barely underway when the light cruiser Houston (part of Cruiser Division 13) was also hit by an aerial torpedo. She was in better shape than the Canberra but also needed to be towed. Tethered to the USS Boston, the Houston joined Task Group 30.3 on the 15th. At that point, the small fleet was nicknamed "Cripple Division 1." Besides the Boston, the light carriers Cabot and Cowpens, two fleet tugs, and more destroyers joined the group at various times during its trip. The fleet tug Pawnee took over the towing of the Houston.

Enemy aircraft harassed them constantly. The task group began to circle clockwise around the cripples to better protect themselves by maintaining a higher speed of 15 knots. During an especially fierce attack on the afternoon of the 16th, the Houston's stern was hit by a second torpedo, increasing flooding and nearly sinking her, and making it necessary to remove 300 of her crew. Houston survivors were brought aboard the Mobile on a bosuns chairs hanging from lines strung between the ships (photo). This slow rescue was accomplished while the rest of the force continued to circle and fight off attacking planes. Mobile's Captain Miller was awarded the Silver Star for performance of duty during this operation.

With this turn of events, Admiral Halsey began calling the group "Bait Division 1," actually hoping they'd lure the Japanese fleet out into the open. It almost worked. The Japanese at first thought 30.3 was all of Task Force 38, retreating from Formosa. They sent a surface force within 250 miles before they realized the trap and quickly withdrew.

After dark on the 17th, Cruiser Division 13 (that is, what was left of it, including the Mobile) was released from the task group and sent back to Task Force 38.

Bosun's chair = a harness within a round life preserver, used to do maintenance on the outside of the ship's hull.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

20. Formosa _____________ Oct 12, 13, 14, 1944
Air strike
221 Jap planes shot down
175 _" __"__ destroyed on ground

__ sank _____________ damaged
2 large _ A.K.* _____ 2 large A.K.
4 medium " _______ 9 medium AK
9-small _" ________ 10 small AK.
12 coastal " _______ 1 oil tanker
________________1 large troop transport

37 small craft sunk or damaged
(We lost 45 planes.)

*A.K.s are cargo ships.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Early October, 1944

In early October, the task force rendezvoused and headed northwest to the Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa. On the morning of the 10th, while strikes were sent against Okinawa and other islands of the Nansei Shoto group, the Mobile and two destroyers were dispatched to intercept two Japanese ships sighted by aircraft about 30 miles away.

By the time they arrived, one ship had already been sunk by aircraft. The remaining vessel was a 700 ton cargo ship which was quickly sunk by salvos from the Mobile. After the destroyers picked up survivors, the group headed back to their task force.

According to the official record, the force only feinted toward the northern Philippines. Joe's notes indicate that on October 11th the Mobile actually participated in an air strike there, on the city of Aparri on Luzon Island.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

19- Ryukyu Is. ___________Oct 10, 194[4]
Okinawa air strike
110 Jap planes shot down
95 destroyed on ground

_ Jap ships sunk ___________ Prob sunk
1- destroyer Escort ________ 1-mine sweeper
4- small submarine _______ 10-small ships
14 cargo ships ____________ 9 " craft
1 sub tanker
25 small ships
411 barges & small craft

Jap ships damaged
8 cargo ships
1 large mine layer
19 small ships
also numerous Japanese luggers and barges

Philippine Is. ___________ Oct 11, 1944
Luzon ___ } ___ air strike
Aparri ___ } ___15 planes destroyed on ground.
_________buildings & warehouses were damaged.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Late September, 1944

Back at the Philippines by September 21st, the task force, including the Mobile, continued air strikes around Manila Bay on Luzon Island, ending on the 24th with one day of heavy strikes on
the Philippine Islands hit earlier in the month.
From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

Philippine Is. ____________ Sept 21, 22
Luzon______ } ____ air strike
Manila Bay __ } ____ Clark field
Subic Bay ___ } ____ Nichols field and Canila Naval Base

140 aircraft Destroyed on ground
144 aircraft shot down

____ Sunk
1 large destroyed*
4 [large] oil tankers
1 small [oil tanker]
5 Cargo ships

1 destroyer
2 large oil tankers
1 large transport
20 cargo ships
1 floating dry dock

Clark and Nichols fields were on the island of Luzon, not far from Manila.
* Probably meant "destroyer".

Monday, February 15, 2010

Early September, 1944

On September 6, the force was sent to the Caroline Islands for an air strike against Palau, then immediately after to Mindanao Island in the Philippines for another air strike. After a one-day rest on September 12, they hit more Philippine islands: Negros, Cebu, Leyte, Samar, Bohol, and the southern tip of Luzon.

The very next day, September 15, the Mobile was in the Caroline Islands, covering the landing on Peleliu, and stuck around to assist the landing on Anguar two days later.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

18 - Caroline Is. __________ Sept 6, 7, 1944
Palau air strike
Heavy damaged

___ Philippine Is. ________ Sept 6, 7 1944
Mindanao ____ air strike
52 Jap ships Sunk

___ Philippine Is _________ Sept 12, 13 & 14, 1944
Cebu ____ } __ air strike
Samar ___ } __ 191 Jap planes
Banay* __ } __ destroyed & 50 to 80
Davao# __ } __ ships sunk
Negros __ }

___ Caroline Is. __________ Sept 15
Angaur __ } __ landed troops
Peleliu _ }

* Banay is a misspelling of Panay
# Davao is a city on Mindanao

Sunday, February 14, 2010

August, 1944

By August 4, the Mobile was back at the Chichi and Iwo Jimas for more air strikes. Just after sunset that day, aided by star shell illumination from the USS Oakland, the Moe sank an 8,000 ton cargo ship on her own, then assisted in the sinking of a Japanese destroyer. The next day, they bombarded Chichi Jima. Japanese shore batteries targeted the Mobile three times but only straddled the ship.

The Mobile headed back to Eniwetok, conducting several days of fleet tactical training on the way, then rested for two weeks while the task force was reorganized once more. Task Force 58 was redesignated as 38, but on August 27, Mobile was assigned to Task Force 34, the Heavy Surface Striking Force. Four more days of tactical training and exercises followed, then Task Force 34 was dissolved and Mobile found herself back in Task Force 38.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

17 _ Bonin Is. ____________ Aug. 4, 5 1944
_________ air strike & shore bombardment, we had a air strike on Aug 4 & shore bombardment on Aug 5 Japs ships sunk or damaged

_____ Sunk ______________ Prob. Sunk
4 aircraft carriers _______ 2 heavy cruisers
2 Destroyers __________ 3 tankers
2 tankers _____________ 2 destroyers

1 light cruiser

Saturday, February 13, 2010

July, 1944

After Guam, Task Force 58 returned to Eniwetok Atoll, at the west end of the Marshalls, for supplies and ammunition. Two days later, the Mobile was sent northwestward to the Bonin Islands. They celebrated Independence Day by covering air strikes against Chichi Jima in the morning, then provided afternoon bombardments of Iwo Jima's airfields and ammunition dumps, which must have produced monstrous fireworks for the occasion.

From there, Mobile was sent back to the Marianas, where they spent most of July supporting air operations in preparation for the July 21 landings on Guam. Afterward, they went straight to the Caroline Islands to provide the same service for air strikes on Yap and Ulithi.

On July 29, a new skipper took the helm from Captain Wheeler: Captain Christopher C. Miller, USN, Class of 1918 (photo). The retiring commander, Captain Wheeler, was presented a Legion of Merit medal for performance of duty since Mobile's commissioning.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

15 - Bonin Is.*
Chichi Jima __ } _ Air strike
Iwo Jima ____ } _ & shore bombardment

We had air strike on Chichi Jima & shore bombardment on Iwo Jima. 50 planes destroyed on Chichi Jima.
50 to 70 planes destroyed on Iwo Jima. We also destroyed air fields & Ammunition dumps.

16 - Marianas Is.
__________ July 21, 1944
Guam ___ landed troops.

Caroline Is. ______________ July 26, 27, 28, 1944
Yap _____ } ___ air strikes
Ulithi __ } ___ Moderate Damaged

* Joe didn't list the date, but it was July 4, 1944.

Friday, February 12, 2010


June, 1944

In early June, the Mobile headed westward to the Marianas Islands, providing support first for heavy air strikes on Saipan, Tinian and Guam.

As Joe mentions in his notes, they covered the landings on Saipan June 15th and the air strike on Guam on the 19th. This fight later became known as the First Battle of the Philippine Sea and was the largest carrier battle of the war. At Guam, Joe claims they were under coastal air attack all day, while the official record says the attack was "carrier-based" not coastal.

Apparently at least two Japanese carriers launched planes that first flew toward Guam before turning toward the American fleet, and this was likely what Joe saw--planes coming from the direction of the island.

In fact, the Mobile was the first ship to open fire, after one of her Marine lookouts spied the first Judy coming in. The Moe was credited with shooting down one plane that day. Photos shows ships following evasive patterns to avoid being hit.

Judy = nickname given to the Aichi dive bomber

Account of this battle taken from Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 8.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

14 - Marianas Is. ____________ June 11 to 15
Saipan __ } ___ Japs lost 402 planes
Tinian __ } ___ 23 ships sunk &
Guam ____ } ___ 26 more damaged

We landed troops on Saipan on June 15. We launc[h]ed air strike on Guam on June 19 _ we were in coastal air attack all day long _ we knock down more than 200 planes that day with our forces.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

March-April, 1944

As the battles progressed westward toward Japan, Allied airstrips and ship anchorages were quickly constructed on previously occupied islands, sometimes in as little as 2 days.

After picking up ammunition and supplies at the anchorage on Majuro Atoll, the Mobile provided cover for troops landing on Emirau in the Admiralty Islands just north of New Guinea. From there, the task force sailed back to the Carolines, arriving March 29, for air strikes on Palau, Yap, Ulithi, and Woleai Islands. (photo below is Yap)

The Japanese Second Fleet, however, got wind of the American approach, and shipped out of Palau on March 28. Nevertheless, the task force sank many Japanese tankers and cargo ships and one destroyer, and demolished at least 150 aircraft. The Americans lost about 25 planes in combat.

In April, the Mobile provided cover for troop landings, air support and shore bombardment on New Guinea, and in the Caroline Islands on Truk, Sawtawan and Ponape, with Japanese air attacks on the task force in each location. They finally got a decent rest in May, spending the month mostly at anchor in the Kwajalein Atoll and Maduro, preparing for their next assignment.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

10 - Admiralty Is. ____________ Mar 20, 1944
"Emirau" _ Escorted troops.

11 - Caroline Is.
Palau _________________ ___ Mar 29, 1944
Yap ______________________ Mar 30, 1944
Woliea* ___________________Apr. 1, 1944
46 Japs ships sunk
300 planes destroyed.

12 - New Guinea _____________ Apr. 21, 1944
Escorted troops
Sarmi ____ } _______________Apr. 21, 1944
Wadre# ___ } shore bombardment _ Moderate damaged done to island.

13 - Caroline Is. ______________ Apr 29, 1944
air strike & straffed
Moderate Damaged.

* Woliea is a misspelling of Woleai
# Sarmi and Wadre are misspellings, referring to Sawar Airfield and Wakde Island.
+ Satawan is a misspelling of Sawtawan Island.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


February, 1944

In February, the Mobile, as part of Task Force 58, assisted with air strikes at Truk Atoll in the Caroline Islands, where the Japanese lost a large number of ships and planes, and in the Marianas Islands.

Because the force was sighted on its way to the Marianas, they suffered numerous attacks by both Japanese torpedo and dive bombers. The Mobile shot down two planes and assisted in the takedown of two more. During one of these attacks, "a bursting anti-aircraft shell fired by another ship sprayed the starboard side of Moe with shrapnel, injuring thirteen men, one of them seriously."

Quotes from Captain Lewis's War Record and Ship's History of U.S.S. Mobile.

From the Data section of Joe's Journal:

8 - Caroline Is. _____________ Feb, 12, 1943*
Truk } air strike _ we sank 24 ships & 7 more probably sunk & destroyed 288 planes.

9 - Marianas Is. ____________ Feb. 22, 1944
Saipan __ } air strike _ Mobile shot down three more
Tinian __ } planes. #

* Joe mistakenly put 1943. Should have been 1944.

# The Mobile was actually credited with 2 takedowns and 2 assists.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

January, 1944

The U.S.S. Mobile left the West Coast January 13, 1944, making a stopover at Lahaina Roads, Maui--the last they'd see of Hawaii for nearly a full year.

Their first destination was the Wotje Atoll where, along with three other cruisers and six destroyers, the Mobile bombarded the shore under sporadic fire from Japanese shore batteries. One of the destroyers, the Anderson (photo), was hit, killing her captain and 5 men, and wounding 14 more.

After Wotje Atoll, Task Force 53 force provided fire support for the landings on Roi and Namur Islands. Once the Marshalls were taken, the fleet was again reorganized and the Mobile was assigned to Task Force 58 for, essentially, the next eleven months.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

7 - Marshall Is. ______________ Jan. 30 1944
Roi _________ } air strike & shore bombardment landed
Namai _______ } troops which took them.
Kwajalein _____}
Wotje ________} except Wotje.

Monday, February 8, 2010


December, 1943

The Central Pacific Force regrouped once more and the Mobile was assigned to Task Force 50, which proceeded to the Marshall Islands for preliminary air strikes on December 4 and 5, 1943. The amazing photo shows what the strike force looked like from the air.

As they were leaving, the task force was heavily attacked by Japanese planes for, according to Joe, "7 hours." The Mobile assisted in the takedown of one plane. Sometime during this operation, "a five-inch shell exploded in a 40MM mount, killing two men and wounding twenty-three, eight of them seriously" and causing a fire. These were the Mobile's first personnel casualties.

Although it's unclear exactly where repairs were made, the ship spent just over two weeks at Pearl before being sent on Christmas Day back to Long Beach, California for "rehearsals" of the forthcoming landings on the Marshall Islands, scheduled for late January. Their assignment this time was to Task Force 53, the Northern Attack Force. The Moe would assist in the assaults on Roi and Namur Islands of the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshalls.

Quotes are from Captain Lewis's War Record and Ship's History of U.S.S. Mobile.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

6 - Marshall Is. __________ Dec. 15, 1943*
Wotje & Kwajalin Air strike we were attacked by Jap planes for 7 hours _ The Japs lost 5 ships & unknown number of planes.

* The official war record states that the Marshall Island operation was December 4-5, 1943 and that "During the retirement from these strikes, the task force was under enemy air attack,during which Mobile's anti-aircraft fire assisted in the destruction of one plane. In mid-December the task force returned to Pearl Harbor." The ship's cruise book lists them back in Pearl by December 9. Since Joe probably wrote this nearly 2 years later, he may have simply mis-remembered the date. Or his pen slipped and it just looks like a "1".

Sunday, February 7, 2010


November 20, 1943

After her first six months, the Mobile's crew began calling their ship the "Mighty Moe" (not to be confused with "The Mighty Mo", the nickname of the battleship Missouri).

After a two-day breather at Purvis Bay, Florida Island, the Mobile was sent back to the Gilbert Island operation, where on November 20 she provided shore bombardment for the landings on Tarawa Island. Though the operation was considered a success, nearly half of the more than 6000 Marines landed became casualties, and a third of those died.

Joe mentions in the back of his diary that a carrier was sunk during the operation. The escort carrier USS Liscome Bay (photo), on her first and last mission, was struck by a torpedo fired from a Japanese submarine at 5:10 AM on November 24. The huge explosion sent flames a thousand feet into the air. Seconds later the bombs stored in the Liscome Bay's hold detonated, blowing apart the entire back third of the carrier, showering ships as far away as 1500 yards with debris and human flesh. The ship went down 23 minutes later with the loss of her captain, Admiral Mullinex, 53 officers and 591 men. Of the 272 others were rescued, many were horribly burned, disfigured and blinded, and all were coated with fuel oil.

In such incidents throughout the war, the Mobile frequently assisted either search and rescue efforts, or provided a defensive screen for the rescuing ships. Joe later spoke to his sister of having seen bodies floating in the water during many of these rescues.

Details of the Liscome Bay sinking are from Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 7.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

5 - Gilberts Is. __________ Nov. 20*, 1943
Tarawa & Makin. Air strike & shore bombardment & landed troops captured it in 76 hours. We lost 1 aircraft carrier & 1 destroyer.#

* Some sources list this as Nov. 21, saying the 20th was by "Pearl Harbor Time."

# The carrier Joe mentioned was the Liscome Bay. However, the light carrier USS Independence was also hit by a torpedo from a plane. The Independence didn't sink, but 12 men were killed, 5 missing-in-action, 43 wounded.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


October-November, 1943

The raid on Wake Island (October 5 and 6) was the Mobile's first experience in shore bombardment. Joe's gunnery crew would have been active.

Joe was on the crew in turret number two, which had large five-and six-inch guns (meaning they fired shells five and six inches in width). The photo shows Turret 2 guns and crew, with Joe standing on the steps in the middle. These guns were designed for ship and shore bombardment rather than anti-aircraft fire.

The Mobile returned to Pearl again and ten days later sailed south as part of the Central Pacific Task Force, toward the planned assault and occupation of the Gilbert Islands, but the ship was diverted to Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides to join the Southern Pacific Task Force, which had already begun to land troops on Bougainville Island.

The Mobile's job was to cover the supply and troop transport ships approaching the beachhead at Empress Augusta Bay. On the night of November 8-9, 1943, the Mobile was subjected to its first heavy enemy air attack. The ship was responsible for one of the 10 planes shot down that night, and assisted with the take-down of two others.

Regarding the air attack, the planes weren't Kamikazes. That corps of suicide planes wasn't formed until fall 1944. Many of these planes, though, could drop torpedoes.

From the Data Section of Joe's Journal:

3 - Wake Is. ____________ Oct 5 & 6 1943
Air strike & shore bombardment. Heavy damaged was done to the island.

4 - Solomon Is __________ Nov. 10, 1943
Bouginville escorted troops _ also were attacked by planes that night & Mobile got credit for three planes.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Summer 1943

Note: For this month, in Joe's "Data" section -- my words will be in black, his in blue.
The Mobile participated in a month of training exercises in and around the Hawaiian islands, until the last week of August. Then, as part of a carrier task force, they sailed west, toward Marcus Island, to participate in their first air strike.

Air strikes were made in advance of landing assaults for the purpose of feeling out enemy defenses and for taking aerial reconnaissance photos of enemy installations and island topography. In these early strikes, the Mobile mainly provided defense against air attack with her smaller guns.

The task force returned to Pearl to regroup. Less than a week later, they headed for Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, crossing the equator for the first time on September 18. In hazing ceremonies as old as seafaring, the new sailors (called Pollywogs, and this included Joe) were turned into "Shellbacks." Photo at right shows part of the ceremony.

That same day at Tarawa, they supported another air strike, followed by more regrouping and enlarging of the task force, before they were sent off to raid Wake Island.

From the "Data" section of Joe's Journal:

1 - Marcus Is. _____________ Aug. 31, 1943
Air Strike Bombed & Strafed. 66 planes destroyed

2 - Gilberts Is. ___________ Sept. 18, 1943

Tarawa air strike
50% of the island was destroyed. We also crossed the equator for the first time.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Physical Characteristics -- The Journal Entries

At the beginning, Joe's entries were made in blue ink in a small, even script. A neat, straight, red line separated each day and, to define the left margin, he traced another straight red line over the existing first ledger column separation. At intervals of five to ten days, below that day's entry, Joe wrote in red ink how many days he'd been "out of the states" that year. Also, as they headed west from Pearl, Joe noted time changes in red ink.

On April 8, less than a week after they joined the bombardment of Okinawa, his writing began to lose some of its evenness. He crossed out words for the first time (though he did this rarely). On April 11th, he stopped retracing the left margin ledger line. On the 21st, a few days after an accident in his gun turret, he stopped separating the days with red lines. His handwriting became more of a scrawl.

During May, his grammar got worse and his word order often became confused. Since they were bombarding and fighting off air attacks twenty-four hours a day for weeks, this was likely the result of sleep deprivation.

Conversely, though, his entries regarding the ship's activities during the Okinawa operation became more and more detailed. Notations included times written in both military and civilian format. Accompanying ships were noted nearly every day.

Yet, on May 22, his entries suddenly became very terse. When they left Okinawa he began adding a bit more detail for a few weeks, but from the end of June through early August, he said very little.

September through December's writings are again more detailed, except when there was, as he put it, "not much doing" on board. After Okinawa, Joe wrote almost nothing about what he did when given liberty or recreation. His main pastime seems to have been watching the other ships.