The actions reported, herein, involved the invasion and retaking of the
Philippine Islands and the initial landings which were made on the
island of Leyte with the troop ships and supporting combat vessels being
in Leyte Gulf
Operating outside the Gulf were the escort carrier groups assigned to
support the landings. Each group was composed of six escort carriers
and three destroyers and four destroyer escorts as a screen for the
carriers. There were three task units as Task Group 77.4 under Rear
Admiral Thomas L. Sprague. They were called Taffy 1, 2 and 3.and their
official designation was 77.4.1, 2 or 3.
This report is about the action of the aircraft from Squadron VC-10
embarked on the U.S.S. GAMBIER BAY attached to Taffy 3, or Task Unit
77.4.3 , Rear Admiral C. A. F (Ziggy ) Sprague. This task unit was
stationed in the northernmost operating area, approximately forty miles
east of the island of Samar. There were about fifty miles between each
of the three Taffy groups.
The duties of the aircraft from these groups included combat air patrol
and anti-submarine patrol of their own task unit. In addition they were
on scheduled flights over the island and supported the ground troops in whatever was required. Ground
call for bombing and strafing where indicated. In addition fighters from
those flights provided combat air patrol to prevent enemy aircraft from
interfering with or attacking our troops.
U.S. Navy Action Report
From: Commander Task Unit
77.4.3 (Commander Carrier Division Twenty-Six).
United States Pacific Fleet.
Subject: VC-10 (Gambier Bay) Aircraft action reports No. 1-B of 24 October,
2-B, 3-B, 4-B, 5-B, and 6-B of 25 October,, 7-B of 26 October and 8-B of 27
October 1944 - submission of.
Following is the verbatim copy of the report of the 24 October action over
Leyte Island by E. J. Huxtable, Lt. Comdr., USN: (Commanding Officer,
VC-10) (Changes or additions are in parenthesis)
divisions of fighters took off at 0500 24 October 1944 to make rendezvous
and proceed to the objective area over Leyte Island for combat air patrol.
The flight organization was as follows: Lt. Roby, Lt (jg) Courtney, Lt(jg)
Phillips, and Lt (jg) Hunting, first division; Lt. Seitz, Ens. Dugan, Lt
Ellwood, and Ens. McGraw second division. The available pilot’s reports are
attached for interest and information.
orbiting at the various initial points west, north, and north-east of
Tacloban for approximately two and one-half hours, the flights of Japanese
craft began to appear on the scene coming from the west and northwest intent
on attacking our shipping in Leyte Gulf. The interceptions that followed,
that were made by this group and others in the air, very effectively
minimized the success of the enemy raid. The effectiveness of the
interception by our group was, however, greatly curtailed due to the acute
shortage of gasoline in several planes.
about 0800 a lone SALLY was intercepted and shot down by Lt. Roby’s
division, with he and Courtney getting credit for the kill. At about the
same time, Lt. Seitz’s division, which was orbiting much higher intercepted
a flight of four SALLY’s, and Lt. Seitz got one and Ens. Dugan another. This
about ended the action for the flight as a group.
there were apparently only a very few enemy fighters in the air, or at least
Effectively worry our own VF, the interception of this and other groups
turned into individual actions in going after the bombers to knock them down
before they arrived at LEYTE GULF. The action commenced at about 13000’ and
ended at about 8000’ when the few remaining bombers went through a cloud
layer and out into the LEYTE GULF area where AA was active.
to the speed at which the bombers were traveling on their approximate 15
degree glide, very few overhead runs could be made and tail chases and long
bursts from dead astern were by far the most effective. While Lt. Ellwood
stayed up above the group to worry around with one or two ZEKES, the rest of
the planes, with the exception of Lt. Seitz, went in and piled into the rest
of the bomber formation which was estimated originally at 15-21 LILLY’S.
Lt. (jg) Hunting shot down one on a tail chase, Ens. McGraw got two, and
damaged another, Lt. Roby got one and another probable.
pilots agree that, although the LILLY’S were flying a very tight formation,
only on one occasion was any defensive fire noted. Some return fire was
noticed emanating from the dorsal turret on the SALLY’S. The appearance of
most of the enemy planes was usual and nothing out of the ordinary was
noticed in their flight, markings, or general tactics.
of the pilots had any serious complaints concerning any of their equipment
used. Excellent combat results were achieved with the FM-2 wing guns and
few link jams developed. It is notable that one plane was airborne a full
five hours with only one wing tank, and this included about one half hour of
Submitted: E. J. Huxtable,
Lt. Comdr, USN
Report of Lt. R. W. Roby
regarding Combat Air Patrol over Leyte Island,
24 October, 1944
took off the USS Gambier Bay at 0500 for objective CAP over the Leyte-Samar
area. My division consisting of Lt(jg)’s Phillips, Courtney and Hunting.
Lt. Seitz’s division included Ens. Dugan, Lt. Ellwood and Ens. McGraw. We
arrived on station at Point William at 0530. We orbited until daylight and
then I assumed station NAN to KING and Lt. Seitz from NAN to WILLIAM. At
0730, Lt. Seitz came to Pt. King and made rendezvous with me. There had
been no bogeys up to 0745.
0745 we investigated two friendly planes making propaganda drops along
Carigara Bay. After that my division stayed at angels 3, and Lt. Seitz’s
division went to angels 8. At 0800 bogies were reported (Note: This would
have been reported by radar contact and ground control information.)
approaching from the west and almost at once I tally hoed a SALLY to the
west and above me. I started to climb and kept the SALLY in sight.
However, when I reached angels 8, Courtney, my wingman, tally hoed a SALLY
on the starboard beam. I turned into it and fired a long burst in a flat
side run. The SALLY caught fire at once. Courtney followed me in and shot
off the right wing. The plane then rolled over and spiraled down to the
ground in flames. At the same time, Seitz and Dugan shot down one each and
another outfit got the fourth one.
was due to return to base at 0820 with the two divisions, I called the
commander of support aircraft for permission to do so. However, before I
received permission, another group of bogies was coming in. Of my eight
planes, one did not have sufficient gas. My wingman and I started climbing
to angels 12, and at about that time a group of over 20 bombers were tally
hoed by VF from another squadron. I spotted them east of my position and
about 2000’ above. I turned toward them and intercepted 15 LILLY’s. They
had started to push over and were at angel 11. I made a steep stern run on
one and got some hits but had to break off to miss an F6F coming in from
astern and flat. (Note: Two or three of the carriers in Taffy 1 were
equipped with F6F’s the rest with FM-2’s) I then pulled up to astern of a
bomber well forward in the group and shot from dead astern. After a long
burst this plane (LILLY) burst into flames, rolled over, to spiral into the
not see my wingman after starting the first run. I then pulled out and came
in behind another bomber and started firing from dead astern. Pieces flew
from his tail and his left engine caught on fire but due to my rapid rate of
closing, I had to break off to avoid a collision and I did not see this
plane actually go down. I fired at one other bomber, but he was in AA range
and I broke off. This plane was hit by AA and went down. I joined up with
others in the flight and landed at 0945 with 4 rounds of ammunition left in
one gun and about ten gallons of gas when I landed.
(End of report)
REPORT OF LT(JG) C. F. HUNTING
OBJECTIVE AREA - CAP OVER LEYTE ISLAND,
24 October, 1944
took off at about 0500 and at 0505 I joined up with Lt (jg) Phillips to
proceed to point William. Here we joined up with Lt. Roby and Lt (jg)
Courtney. We were then directed to orbit point NAN at angels 8. At 0800 we
made contact with 4 SALLYS- three of which were soon burning. I observed
some hits by Phillips on one SALLY.
0815 at angels 15. 30 miles from point NAN, 15-21 Jap bombers were
sighted. I left Phillips and made two high side runs from the port side
with no apparent damage. I made an overtaking run from dead astern and
fired a long burst from about 300 to 500 yards. The planes remained in
tight formation and were taking no evasive action. I saw the plane I had
been firing at start smoking in both engines and it went into a steep left
spin and caught afire. The plane was identified as a LILY.
estimate the speed of the LILY’S, when they were in their glide approach at
about 240 knots. I saw no bombs dropped or jettisoned nor did I see any
return fire from the LILY’s. I did see some small caliber fire from dorsal
turrets of Sally’s attacked by other planes from my flight. I saw no
parachutes anywhere in the area, and apparently all enemy personnel went
down with their planes.
(End of report)
REPORT OF LT(JG) E. H. COURTNEY
REGARDING COMBAT AIR PATROL OVER LEYTE
ISLAND, P. I.
24 October 1944
Report written by Lt. Stewart of VC-10) Verified by Lt. Comdr. Huxtable and
Lt. R. W. Roby-also of VC-10.
Courtney flew wing position on Lt. Roby on this flight. When chasing the
SALLY tally hoed by Lt. Roby, Courtney tally hoed a SALLY on his starboard
beam. When Roby made a flat side run, Courtney went in with him on a
section run. Both planes were firing at the same time. Courtney broke off
last and his burst shot the right wing off the SALLY.
the flight of LILLY’S were closed on and Roby made his stern run, Courtney
followed a LILY which broke out of formation and headed down in a steeper
dive than the rest of the enemy planes. He tailed in dead astern of her at
about 8000’ and fired five or six long bursts into her. The LILY smoked
some but definitely did not flame. Courtney continued firing on her until
she had completed a 180 degree spiral and had disappeared into a cloud.
climbed back up to 8000’ and attempted to locate more enemy planes without
success. He then returned to base, critically low on fuel and landed at
(Note: This report was apparently prepared while on the return to Hawaii. Lt
(jg) Courtney was not airborne on 25 October and therefore was not with the
men who prepared this report for him but returned by a different route.)
(End of report)
Report of Lieutenant E. W. Seitz
VC-10, concerning a flight
24 October 1944
October 24th, at 0805, while on CAP over Leyte, contact was made with a
group of 4 or 5 SALLY’s. I made a high side run on a SALLY from its
starboard quarter. I fired a 4 to 5 second burst and shot off the port wing
immediately behind the engine. The plane burst into flames and fell to the
earth about 6 miles west of Tacloban. No personnel were seen to jump.
REPORT OF ENS. C. J. DUGAN
CONCERNING FLIGHT OF
24 October 1944
took off at 0500, 24 October 1944, for CAP island objective and made routine
patrol with Lt. Seitz and division until 0750 when we tally hoed a formation
of four or five SALLY bombers over Pt. Love. The bombers were at about 9 to
10000 feet. We were at about 7000 feet. We started to climb and follow.
Lt. Seitz took one plane and I tailed onto another. The plane I took had an
altitude and speed advantage, and I chased him to the eastern side of the
island. I got into range junction with no results and then tailed in and
fired from dead astern. The plane smoked badly after about a three second
burst. I was closing fast and fired a long burst. As I went by the wing
roots flamed and the plane rolled into a dive. It crashed about five miles
north of TACLOBAN AIRFIELD.
very low on gas so I pulled up to look for my division. I made rendezvous
with Lt. Ellwood and started for base. Lt. Seitz called in that he was
departing for base. I chased another bogie but it was an FM2. Lt. Ellwood
did not follow and I departed for base alone using ZB. I came upon a large
carrier task unit about 65 miles out and made an emergency landing to
refuel. Later I returned to my own ship.
(signed) C. J. DUGAN Ens.,
A-V(N), USNR VC-10
REPORT OF LT. C. R. ELLWOOD
REGARDING CAP OVER LEYTE ISLAND, P. I.
made a pre-dawn (0500) take off from the GAMBIER BAY, made rendezvous and
departed for the Island objective, for combat air patrol. Lt. Seitz was
leading our division, with Ens. Dugan on his wing. Ens. McGraw was on my
were assigned to orbit point NAN at angels 8. Up until 0800 we chased three
separate bogies all of which proved to be friendly. ( Note: Radar control
would have sent these planes out to investigate bogies.) At about 0800 we
sighted and gave chase to the first enemy plane our division had reported.
This plane was evidently one of a group that had closed from the north-west,
and was heading toward Tacloban and letting down to gain speed. It was a
SALLY with brown camouflage. We were above and behind this plane. Seitz
and Dugan were closing-one on each side-with McGraw and I bringing up the
rear, and also working to set up a bracket position.
after this, several planes from the flight made do any good here with Ens.
Dugan and Lt. Seitz so close-so I looked back for other possibilities. I
saw one plane coming down towards us-although high and still out of range.
I turned back towards it, and pulled up into a chandelle. It was a
Zeke-either silver or light gray like the underside of our FM-2. I decided
not to give chase by myself and without altitude advantage. I looked back
and saw that Lt. Seitz’s SALLY was flaming down with one wing falling by
itself. I found a lone FM-2 and was trying to get him to follow me as I
could see a melee above us and over ORMOC. While climbing, I kept looking
back, and once again a plane started a run from above and astern. I turned
away from the other FM-2 to attempt to set a weave-but this other plane paid
no attention to me-so I turned my plane around to get in a head-on shot at
this ZEKE which was now firing his 7.7 Seeing that I couldn’t get around in
time, and I would be shot down if I didn’t do something violent, I shoved
under in more or less of an inverted cartwheel, I blacked out and came out
on what should have been a course behind the ZEKE-and going in his same
direction-but I didn’t see him any rendezvous and we returned to base to
land aboard at 0930.
(End of report)
REPORT OF ENSIGN JOSEPH D. MCGRAW
COMBAT AIR PATROL OVER LEYTE, P.I.
24 October 1944
VF division was catapulted at 0500. We joined up and departed from over the
lead destroyer. We arrived on station at about 0525, and patrolled from
Point KING to Point NAN. At about 0800 over point KING a large bogie was
reported We started climbing at full military power as we were only at about
4000’. We had been chasing a bogie on the deck which turned out to be a TBM.
We tally hoed three SALLY’s high above us (about 12000’), and Lt. Seitz and
Ens. Dugan, his wingman overtook two of them to shoot them down a few miles
west of Tacloban Town. I was unable to close within firing range. I think
the third SALLY was also shot down by a VC-10 fighter.
During the chase I became separated from my section leader, so I joined up
on Lt. Seitz. We circled at point KING again until Lt. Seitz was forced to
leave due to shortage of fuel. I remained on station as I still had about
about 0840 a large bogie was reported coming in at point KING, high. Just
then a large formation of twin-engine bombers was tally hoed.. I was at
10,000’, and as I climbed to 13,000’ I sighted about 21 LILLY’s in close
formation headed for Leyte Gulf-at 15,000’.
made my first run on a section of LILLY’s, low, and on the starboard side of
the formation. I fired a long burst at mid-range of about 200 yards at the
section leader from a full deflection down to about 30 degrees.
My tracers were hitting
the starboard side of the fuselage just aft of the cockpit, but he seemed
to suffer no serious damage.
I concentrated my fire at his wingman at about 100 yards range. After a
long burst from 20 degree deflection to almost dead astern, that went into
his starboard engine and wing root, the LILY burst into flames, and dropped
out of the formation. Just as he fell, in flames, his starboard wing came
off. Just as the LILY burst into flames another FM-2 zoomed very close
underneath me-coming from my left. He may have been firing at the same LILY
as I-although I saw no other tracers. There was no return fire from this
plane, although the dorsal hatch was opened. He made no evasive action-but
held in formation. His speed was 160-170 knots, and mine was from 180-200 IAS.
recovered to the right of the bombers and made another beam run from the
starboard, this time on a lone LILY low and on the starboard side of the
formation. I fired a long burst from full deflection down to about 30
degrees, and observed hits on the fuselage and cockpit. I then sucked in
behind and fired another long burst at his port engine, which exploded and
caught fire. Then I fired into his port wing roots, which also flamed. As
the LILY dropped off on his left wing, I rolled to the left. As I did the
rear hatch gunner scored 8 hits on my plane, although none did any serious
damage. The LILY continued its roll and spun-in in flames.
recovered on the left side of the remaining bombers, and I now saw only six
left. I made two more runs on the rear LILLY’s but observed no real damage
from my fire. Three more of the bombers were shot down by other fighters,
two were in flames, before they arrived over the transports in the Gulf. As
the remaining three bombers dove thru the thin layers of clouds over the
ships, the ships’ AA opened fire. I pulled out to the left and headed back
to point NAN. I observed two planes crash into the water that had probably
been hit by our AA fire, and one was close alongside a large landing ship
just off shore.
Point NAN I joined up with Lt. Seitz, who had turned back, and Lt.(jg)
Hunting. As we were all quite low on fuel we headed for our base. I landed
aboard with from 8-10 gallons at 0930.
Final Report of Fleet Action 25 October 1944
Following is the verbatim copy of the Final Report of Fleet Action 25
October 1944, action against the Japanese Fleet when it attacked the task
unit 77.4.3 which included the U.S.S.GAMBIER BAY and Squadron VC-10.
Tactical and Operational Data narrative and comment from pilots on action of
VC-10 based on USS Gambier Bay. Mission: Attack on Japanese Fleet.
Participants were 10 FM-2 aircraft and 9 TBM aircraft launched while Task
Unit 77.4.3 was under attack from the Japanese force of: 4 battleships, 6
heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers and from 12 to 14 destroyers.
reports of the squadron commander and of most of the pilots that
participated are printed below but statistical information, materiel
inventories, sketches of dispositions are omitted.
flight was launched under the worst possible conditions with the enemy fleet
a few miles astern and already shelling our disposition, and as a result the
attack could not be organized and planned as it could have been with just a
little more notice. Two of the nine torpedo planes had nothing but their
ammunition to attack with, and one of the others had only two inert
rockets. Planes were launched and the attack made in spite of these
summarize, seven VT and ten VF type planes were launched with all possible
speed commencing at about 0655. (Note: There was a TCAP flight over Leyte
launched at 0500 which is why there were fewer planes launched than the
total complement. There were also a couple of TBM types that were never
able to be launched.) Within one half hour two more VT were launched loaded
with torpedoes. As long as the planes remained under 1000’ it was easy to
spot the enemy warships, but to make an effective attack on these ships
under the very cloudy and rainy weather conditions altitude has to be
gained. Some time was required before even a fairly good try could be made
due to the weather. Since the flagship of the disposition was ordering
immediate attack, Lt. Comdr. Huxtable made the best of a very poor situation
and finally found a hole in the clouds for the few torpedo planes he had
loaded to make an attack. Due to mechanical or personnel failures in
failing to release the bombs on the first try, second and third runs had to
be made to properly get rid of the bombs. The fighters, meanwhile, had
climbed to altitude and found a few holes through which to make vertical
strafing runs at the weather decks of the exposed ships. Soon after 0800
the enemy fleet began to move out into a clearer area and three very
effective bomb hits were scored on two CA’s and one near miss on one of
these. The TONE class cruiser that was hit on the fantail by Ens. Shroyer
with two bombs soon went dead in the water. The two planes that had been
loaded with torpedoes, which took off later, proceeded to their attack at
about 0800, and apparently made very good launchings against a BB, but there
was no observation of results. The rockets carried by one plane were
launched at a new type DD after the main attack had taken place with
fighter pilots could notice no specific results from their strafing with the
exception of greatly decreased AA fire. The damage to several ships could
have been heavy. One of the VF was hit hard by heavy AA, but pulled out and
was escorted to a field by another fighter. On the way to Tacloban field,
these two planes were attacked by a lone TONY which fled the area when our
two VF fired at him. Ens. Gallagher’s plane was badly damaged, and he had
to make a water landing about a mile in front of our disposition of ships
that were fleeing the Jap Fleet as fast as possible and could not be picked
up. He and his two crewmen were seen to get into a raft. They were never
spite of the fact that two of the torpedo planes had no loadings and only
ammunition, many strafing and dummy runs were made by them to distract and
draw firepower. The fighters, when their ammunition had been expended, did
the same thing if their remaining gas allowed them to do so.
interesting to note that the enemy is using various colored bursts for
spotting his heavy AA fire. Also noteworthy is the fact that the pilots
apparently are more afraid of the heavy AA at medium to high altitudes than
they were of the fire at much lower altitudes near the ships.
the approach tactics, cloud cover had to be used of necessity, and the TBM’s
were using a very steep glide angle to attack at high speeds and pull back
up into the clouds. The fighters made almost vertical strafing runs-firing
from about 5000’ to pull-out points a low as 600’ and they also would retire
into the clouds at high speed. Sun cover did (not) come into use due to the
cloud conditions over most of the targets.
of the planes had to land at Tacloban or Dulag fields on LEYTE at the
conclusion of their attack, although one VT and one VF landed on the U.S.S.
MANILA BAY to join in another attack later on. Our base, the U.S.S.
GAMBIER BAY, was sunk by enemy shell fire during the squadron’s attack on
the enemy fleet.
to the fact that the planes and pilots were widely scattered after the
attack, no appropriate or effective data on materiel factors can be
presented. However, most of the equipment used in very hard and unusual
circumstances performed normally and well. The failure of the bomb-release
mechanism in two instances may have been due to personnel failure in the
excitement of the moment. Insofar as is known, the torpedoes ran true and
did not porpoise. The possible failure of two bombs to detonate` may have
been due to improper fusing in the excitement on deck prior to take-off.
Huxtable, Lt. Comdr., USN
Commanding Officer, VC-10
(End of Report)
Statement of Lieutenant Commander E. J. Huxtable, USN - Compron 10
0530 on 25 October, 1944 an eight plane TCAP was launched from the GAMBIER
BAY. Secure from General Quarters was sounded at 0635 and Condition THREE
set in the Gunnery Department. I went below for breakfast at this time and
(approximately) General Quarters was sounded and I immediately returned to
the Ready Room. The word was passed there that a Japanese Fleet was twenty
miles astern and we manned planes immediately. Ten fighters were flown off
and five torpedo planes catapulted. I was in the lead VT which I found had
no bomb load. I sent one of the deck crew to ask the Air Officer for a bomb
load, but was told to launch immediately. As I taxied on to the catapult
the first enemy salvo landed in the formation and I knew the enemy was much
closer than twenty miles. The VT rendezvoused on the starboard bow at 2000
feet. Fleet course was 90 degrees full or flank speed. Weather ahead was
clear, overhead was overcast at 2000 feet, astern was a large squally area
with lowering overcast in which was the Japanese Fleet. I could see their
gunfire flashes as we were rendezvousing and at this time BENDIX broadcast
“Attack Immediately”. My fighters had started towards the Japanese and I
followed with the VT at 2000 feet just under the overcast. The first ship I
saw astern of our carriers was one of our own destroyers on a course of
about 120 degrees. She was firing at the Japanese cruisers and under heavy
fire herself with several salvos of splashes in the near vicinity.
Farther west was a column of four Japanese cruisers with a MOGAMI class in
the lead on a course of 060 degrees at flank speed. Astern of these on a
course of 90 degrees (approximately) was a column of four Japanese
battleships with a FUSO class in the lead.
this time I was on a heading of 290 degrees (approximately) and climbing
through a rift in the clouds at 2500 feet. The Japanese cruisers were
giving our formation a heavy concentration of fire whereas the Japanese
battleships appeared not to be firing at all. I decided to attack the
Japanese cruisers immediately. I turned back in an easterly direction and
spread my VT out in column and climbed to 3000 feet above which was solid
overcast. I turned back to attack on a westerly course above a thin
overcast at 2000 feet. The fighters had not contacted but I believed this
no occasion to delay for fighter protection and went in to attack. Shortly
after I came out of the thin overcast at 2000 feet and distant about 4000
yards from the Japanese cruisers they opened fire with a terrific barrage of
AA both heavy and medium. I was coming in on their starboard bow and told
my flight to concentrate on the lead cruiser which was nearest and I made a
feint for the after cruiser, trying to draw as much fire as possible away
from my planes which had a bomb or torpedo load. Turning left at the end of
the line I went back through the clouds to a position ahead of the cruisers
and started to scout them, drawing heavy AA at 6000 to 7000 yards distant.
They had changed course to 30 degrees and I advised base. Our force was
making much smoke and between that and the murky weather it looked like the
Japanese contact had been broken for a while.
planes had become separated and two were hit by anti-aircraft fire. Base
advised return to TACLOBAN FIELD on LEYTE. One of the two planes was forced
to make a water landing in the vicinity of own force. My fighters had
joined with DEXTER group which was not in contact at this time.
BENDIX was organizing a fighter group for strafing runs and I decided to
remain in the vicinity for a short while to see if I could be of assistance.
cruisers were evidently trying to box our formation between themselves and
the battleships. I advised that the best course was now south as cruisers
had now gained a true bearing of 30 degrees from own force and both cruisers
and own force were in clear weather. Battleships were still in area of
smoke and low visibility west of formation as were our own destroyer’s. The
CVE on the port quarter at this time was receiving concentrated fire from
the cruisers on course south. The fighters started strafing runs and as
they started their runs I made simulated torpedo attacks in to about 3000
yards drawing quite a bit of AA but no damage. I made four runs in this
fashion and then saw what I presumed to be DEXTER TBMs start bombing runs.
I heard flight leaders from the other CVE group preparing for attacks and
decided that the situation was much improved and left for TACLOBAN at 0915
(approximately) to bomb up.
Arriving at TACLOBAN at 0945 I circled until 1000 waiting on fighters which
were low on gas to land. During this time I inquired from HALIFAX if bombs
were available at TACLOBAN. HALIFAX said negative and I decided my best bet
was the other group of CVE’s, which previously had been too engaged. Over
TACLOBAN one of my VT had joined up with me. On return I encountered own
force and asked permission to land and rearm. Five CVEs were present at
this time but I was directed back to TACLOBAN departing at 1030. TACLOBAN
was filled and I was directed to DULAG FIELD where I landed at 1130.
Statement of Lieutenant J. R. Jackson, Jr. U.S.N.R.- Compron 10
approximately 0650 on 25 October 1944, I was in the Ward Room eating
breakfast when General Quarters sounded. When we reached the Ready Room we
were told to man the first plane we found.
0700 we were launched from the deck of the GAMBIER BAY to attack an enemy
surface force consisting of 4 battleships, six heavy or light cruisers and
several destroyers, which was shelling our own force from a distance of
approximately fifteen miles and closing. Our aircraft, a TBM-1C carried a
load of two-five hundred pound SAP bombs and a full load of ammunition.
joined up with the Squadron Commander, Lieutenant Commander E. J. Huxtable
and two other TBM’s flown by Lieutenant Bassett and Ensign Shroyer. We then
headed for the enemy force in a climb, but because the Japanese Fleet was so
close we had only twenty-five hundred feet altitude when we reached them.
We made a three quarter turn which gave us another thousand feel altitude,
then Lt. Comdr. HUXTABLE lead us in the first attack in column. I had my
bombs set for release in train at 240 knots, 150 feet apart.
enemy fleet was in a rain squall at the time and as I entered the clouds,
the rest of the air group was lost to sight. When I emerged I found that I
was not on a target and since the base of the cloud was at about 1000 feet
it was too late to find one, so I continued my dive in a turn to the right.
This turned out to be a bad move because instead of coming out over the
leading warship as planned, I discovered that we were over the starboard
side of the force. We had attacked from ahead and the right turn took us
over the remainder of the enemy force at less that 1000 feet altitude. I
think that this move came as such a surprise to the enemy that it is the
only reason we escaped. I continued the dive until we were just clearing
the surface of the water. I had everything wide open and I glanced at the
airspeed indicator and found that we were indicating well over three hundred
knots. The air seemed to be full of tracer and exploding AA shells. The
water was one mass of splashes and spouts and never before have we seen such
passed between two battleships one of them being a KONGO class and the other
an unidentified class. It is entirely possible that their own AA might have
inflicted damage upon each other because they were both firing as we passed
between them. The fire followed us for what seemed minutes but was probably
about twenty or thirty seconds until we got out of range. Still, scattered
three and five inch followed us. A great deal of the fire seemed to pass
behind us evidently, because of our speed although it looked as if the plane
was wreathed in fire.
flying clear of the force we found ourselves alone. The radioman and gunner
W. F. Bounds, ATM3c and J. Orewyler, AMM3c, respectively, reported
everything O.K. so we started climbing, staying clear of the AA fire which
we could see lancing out at other planes.
Throughout, the Japanese
had continued shelling our forces.
Meanwhile, we heard over the radio that our destroyers were going to make a
torpedo attack and to be careful not to hit them. We continued climbing
ahead of the force until we reached an altitude of 10,000 feet. Every few
seconds there would be a burst of AA fire in our vicinity.
this time we heard Ensign GALLAGHER report that he had been hit and was
making a water landing.
leading ships had by this time cleared the clouds and we found ourselves
astern of the leading cruiser, a MOGAMI class. I immediately started my
dive and at 3500 feet released the bombs. Immediately the tracer again
opened up but I continued my dive ahead and was soon clear. Looking back we
saw the one explosion which seemed to be just slightly short of the target,
but close enough to shake them up considerably. The reason for only one
explosion was soon made known when BOUNDS reported that only one bomb had
dropped. Again we started climbing. The enemy fleet had again gone under
the cloud, but by checking its course we knew it would again soon emerge.
leveled off at 7000 feet and since there did not seem to be many explosive
AA shells coming up through the clouds, we started orbiting at the west side
of it. In a few seconds the MOGAMI class cruiser again appeared and before
they could see us we were in our dive. As I nosed over I saw a bomb from
another plane hit on the stern. I continued my dive meeting very scattered
fire. At 2500 feet I released the bomb. As we looked back we saw it hit
just forward of amidships, probably near the bridge. There was a sheet of
red flame and black smoke rolled up. A few seconds later we heard another
plane report the leading cruiser was putting out smoke both on the stern and
forward, so we are positive that we had a very good hit.
had climbed to 2000 feet and started for TACLOBAN to rearm when we sighted
our other carrier force. It being nearer we started for her, instead.
Almost immediately we heard our last transmission from our ship. She gave
bearing and distance to TACLOBAN and said to rearm and return. I orbited
our base twice and proceeded to TACLOBAN at 0840.
left we saw this picture: our own force headed south. Our own ship nearest
the enemy (less than 4000 yards) was following a zig-zag course but had been
hit at least once and was being straddled on almost every salvo. The main
Japanese fleet still proceeding on a south by southeast course. Our own
destroyers and destroyer escorts attempted to get between our force and the
enemy, but had been boxed by and enemy cruiser and five destroyers in line,
distance about five miles northwest.
On the flight to TACLOBAN
I was joined by four VT and 11 fighters from other ships.
I landed on TACLOBAN strip
at 0950 and was unable to rearm and I was not allowed to take off again.
(End of statement)
Statement of Ensign B. F. Dillard, U. S. N. R., Compron 10
October, 1944, I took off at approximately 0700. As I turned back abeam of
the ship for rendezvous, I saw three shells land close aboard the port
side. While climbing through a heavy overcast, I became separated from the
group with the exception of one plane from the FANSHAW BAY. We were to
attack immediately, so, upon finding a hole at 9500 feet I started a
strafing dive upon what I believed to be the leading cruiser. I faintly
remember recovering from the dive but remember nothing more until I regained
consciousness at 800 feet. My cockpit hood, helmet and goggles were
missing. There was a 4” hole in the port side of the cockpit.
AA fire was somewhat heavy and of many different colors, mostly pink and
orange. While the FANSHAW BAY plane was leading me to TACLOBAN airstrip,
attacked by a TONY, which fled when fired upon with no visible damage. I
cuts on the face. There was no other damage to the aircraft (B-22). Pilot
of escorting plane was said to have believed that my aircraft was out of
control from two to four minutes.
Statement of Ensign J. I. Turner, U. S. N. R., COMPRON 10
October, 1944 at 0500, two divisions consisting of Lieut. OLIVER, myself and
Lieut. HARDERS, Ensign BENNETT, Lieut. STEWART, Lieut. ROBY, Lieut.
WICKERSHAM and Ensign GIGER Took off for target CAP. At 0915, after
sighting no enemy planes, we were instructed to land at TACLOBAN. All
landed safely except myself. I landed and due to the misunderstanding of
the signal landed long and hit an overturned plane on the runway. Both
planes caught fire but I escaped uninjured.
1515 I again took off with Lt. (jg) C. F. Hunting to fly a CAP. At 1715 we
jumped from six to eight ZEKES low over Point NAN and attacked. Lt. (JG)
HUNTING flamed one and I hit two without any apparent damage. We were
separated and I called for HUNTING’s position. He was directly over
TACLOBAN airfield with an emergency landing. I heard him receive
instructions to orbit Point WILLIAM, but when I tried to find him I was
fired on by the transports in the area. I believe Lt.(jg) HUNTING was shot
down by this AA. I landed at about 1815.
October 26th, 1944 I downed my plane because of low fuel pressure for
combat, so did not fly.
October 27th, we were ordered off TACLOBAN to DULAG and took off about
0830. At 0930 my engine began to lose power and shortly after I was forced
to make a water landing. At 0915 I saw Ensign LISCHER shoot down a TONY and
at 1000 I saw him chase a VAL, which he later got. I was picked up by a
destroyer escort with minor lacerations on my face.
Statement of Ensign J. F. LISCHER, U.S.N.R., COMPRON 10
October 1944, at approximately 0655, word was passed that a Japanese task
force of approximately four battleships, and several cruisers and destroyers
was directly astern of us, 20 miles away. General Quarters was sounded and
at about 0700 I took off in B-14, (Plane number used on fuselage) Bureau No.
joined up on seven other FM-2s and we sighted two destroyers about 12 miles
weather was very bad, with the enemy enclosed in a heavy rain squall. The
group of fighters I was with attacked the destroyers, but during the attack
I lost contact with them
BOROGAN on the east coast of SAMAR. They had apparently just been under
attack, one destroyer was burning and a cruiser was leaving an oil slick.
We reported to HALIFAX (Seventh Fleet Command) and he told us to remain
there and inform him of any developments. At 1430 (approximately) a large
group of carrier planes struck because of the storms. Intense, light and
medium AA was encountered from the destroyers. On recovering from my
strafing run on one of the destroyers, I encountered sight of eight of our
VTB covered by approximately four divisions of VF. I joined up with them
for the destroyers had moved into a heavier squall, and I thought I could be
of more value with a coordinated group. This group was led by 99 DEXTER,
who was Commander Fowler I believe. We attacked a force of about six heavy
cruisers who were closing and shelling our carriers. We made several
attacks on the cruisers. I expended all my ammunition on a MOGAMI class
cruiser and a TONE class cruiser, making about eight runs in all. I
encountered moderate, heavy and medium AA during this time. During the
action I observed two bomb hits on two cruisers. One cruiser was hit
amidships, unidentified, and a TONE class was hit at the stern and was
stopped, leaving a large oil slick it drifted a short ways, and then lay
dead, slightly down at the stern. At 0900 I departed for TACLOBAN airstrip
according to orders I received by radio from BENDIX base (USS FANSHAW BAY,)
flagship task unit 77.4.3) to land there to refuel and rearm.
1145 I took off with Lt.(jg) R. L. PHILLIPS. At approximately 1230 we saw
the Japanese task force on a course of 000 degrees, speed about 20 knots.
About 15 miles east of the task force. I observed a probable hit on a
battleship, a possible hit on another battleship and a possible hit on a
cruiser. Also, many near misses. At 1500 PHILLIPS and I returned to
TACLOBAN low on gas. The task force was on course of 015 degrees, speed 20
knots (approximately) at this time, still east of BOROGAN, but within five
miles of SAMAR.
the 26th. of October, 1944, I took off at 0800 and joined up with four
other CATNIP VF on local CAP - negative.
the 27th of October at 0730 I took off with six other fighters under Lieut.
STEWART from TACLOBAN and we proceeded to DULAG airstrip. After becoming
airborne we were ordered to circle southeast of DULAG over LEYTE GULF
because of an air alert. During this time we observed one TONY retiring
from the transports and we gave chase. Lieut. STEWART caught him first and
gave him a good burst before he overran.
TONY skidded in front of me and I got in a long burst, and as I pulled up
his right wing went down and when I looked back he had crashed and exploded
right on the beach about 10 miles south of DULAG. Lieut. WICKERSHAM and one
other pilot got in a few bursts on the TONY.
Retiring to our orbit point, Ensign TURNER had engine failure and while we
were orbiting him, after he had landed in the water, I observed a VAL come
out of the clouds and
turn towards land. I chased him and finally shot him down five miles south
and 3 or 4 miles inland. He crashed and exploded. We then landed at DULAG
at 0945, after Ensign TURNER had been rescued by a PT.
REPORT OF LT. H. B. BASSETT
OCTOBER 25, 1944 FLIGHT
Take-off was at approximately 0700. Within five minutes after becoming
airborne, the Skipper gave instructions for immediate rendezvous. Four VT
made rendezvous in right echelon-HUXTABLE, Bassett, Crocker, and Shroyer,
this being the order, with two other VT joining us enroute to the target,
which seemed to be about 12 miles north at the time. During join-up I
heard orders from base to attack at once. We began to climb as fast as
possible heading in the direction of ships which we could see firing on our
disposition. Heavy cloud formation with base around 1500’ obscured most of
the enemy ships, but Huxtable found one thin spot which enabled us to read
2500’. Just as we deployed for attack I noticed a great deal of AA which
was apparently directed at someone who preceded us. I swung to the
Skipper’s port side, interval about 100 yards just prior to his signal for
attack. I lost sight of other planes at that time. We seemed to be
approaching a column of cruisers from the south-their course being
easterly. As the Skipper dove to the left, heading for the second ship in
column, he instructed me to take the one on the right which was in the
lead. It was a MOGAMI class. I pulled up to about 2800’ as the distance
closed and as I nosed over from the cloud base, I realized that the AA was
becoming very intense. My run was from slightly abaft the starboard beam of
the cruiser. The dive was approximately 35 degrees. Almost simultaneous
with the release of my first bomb at 2000’, the plane shuddered from a hit
and I released the second bomb at once-pulling out at 1500’ at about 200
knots, and within about 20 seconds I was able to get into the clouds ahead
of the cruiser.
weather prevented both my crewmen and myself from observing results. Since
none of us felt the bomb explosion I am inclined to believe that my 500#
bomb (GP) had hydrostatic fuses only. Several of our planes had been loaded
for ASP flight scheduled for 1000, and I don’t know if the ordnance men had
time to effect a change of fuses on such short notice. This will have to be
ascertained from other sources.
knowing how badly the plane was damaged, I climbed to 8000” on instruments.
Upon emerging from the clouds I could see and my crewmen could check rather
closely the damage to the tail. When the stick was pulled back there was a
slight binding, but was otherwise satisfactory with all instruments all
right. Later investigation showed that the starboard horizontal stabilizer
had been hit from beneath by an explosive shell which had made a hole about
10” in diameter below and 18” in diameter above-completely severing two of
the fore and aft braces and producing a bulge in both the leading edge and
the after braces athwart ships.
latter bulge being forced against the elevator causing the binding mentioned
before. One piece of shrapnel came thru the glass window on the port side
next to the radioman’s seat, but caused no damage inside.
Orders were received about thirty minutes after our attack to proceed to
Tacloban field for rearming and refueling. I proceeded there singly and was
informed the field could take emergency landings only. I circled until
1100, joining my group meanwhile and landed at Dulag shortly after 1100.
plane was repaired by changing the starboard horizontal stabilizer and I was
able to proceed from Dulag to the USS Savo Island on 27 October. My crewmen
and some Army personnel effected the repairs by removing the stabilizer from
a wrecked TBM and putting this on my plane.
REPORT OF LT. R. W. ROBY
CONCERNING ATTACK FLIGHT
25 OCTOBER 1944
0650 I was in the ready room when word came from Air Plot that the Jap Fleet
was 30 miles astern and that all planes were to take off immediately. I
manned a fighter and was launched at 0655. I joined up with five or six of
our own VF and we started climbing toward the Jap Fleet. At approximately
0710 we broke out in a clear area over a portion of the Jap force-consisting
of four or more DD’s. We made attacks immediately. After three or more
runs, I pulled up to 9500 feet and made rendezvous with Dexter VF and VT..
I made vertical runs with the VF planes from that group. After that I
became separated and joined with other VF and made about four more passes.
By 0800 my guns were either jammed or empty, but I made repeated dry runs at
a group of cruisers to draw their fire. I left the area to go to Tacloban
and rearm at about 0920.
arrived over point WILLIAM at 0950 and escorted Ens. Dillard into the
field. However I was ordered to circle until further notice, by the
commander of support aircraft. At 1040 I landed, re-fueled and re-armed at
(End of report)
REPORT OF ENS. P. A. BENNETT
REGARDING ATTACK FLIGHT
25 OCTOBER 1944
shells were landing nearby when GQ was sounded aboard the USS GAMBIER BAY
about 0700 on October 25. With the exception of some fighter pilots in
condition 11, most of the pilots were in the wardroom eating breakfast. All
available aircraft were
ordered manned and launched immediately. All planes were airborne by about
the exception of 4 VT and some VF on the hangar deck) There were 6-8 VF
and 7 -VT launched at this time. The carrier group was headed for a rain
squall at this time and when I, in the last plane, was launched, it was
necessary to go on instruments almost immediately. By the time a clear area
and friendly planes were located they were already on the way to the
target. By the time I had climbed to altitude and arrived on the scene the
attack was under way. I was joined about this time by an FM-2 from my
squadron who flew around me and headed for the Jap formation ahead. The
FM-2 began a strafing run on the leading cruiser, and as I came up, I
followed him in the attack. (I had taken off with no bomb or rocket load).
No AA was seen to burst near us at this time. After pulling back up into
the clouds where I lost the FM-2 a Jap BB emerged from the rain squall
behind the cruisers and a strafing run was made on it. I broke out of the
clouds at about 3500’. The run was made at a target angle of about 010
degree and at about a 60 degree glide-and recovery was into the clouds
again. The AA was heavy, and many bursts were below and to starboard.
There was some tracer. Except for one small hole in the right aileron we
were not hit. The gunner and the radioman strafed all targets within
range. I don’t believe we did much damage at this time, but we did draw AA
from planes that were attacking on the enemy’s port side.
this time our carriers in our group were being called regarding landing and
rearming. They (the planes) were told to go to the beach. I decided to try
to get to the beach and pick up some bombs, but as we were swinging around
TG 77.4.2 was picked up on radar distant about 25 miles, and I headed out
for it. While circling here and waiting for permission to land, I joined up
on Comdr. Fowler (VC-5) and landed with him on the USS Manila Bay at about
were rearmed and took off from the USS MANILA BAY at about 1115 (about 12 VT
and 5 VF) and took a course of about 240 back to search for the Jap Fleet.
We sighted a Jap BB and a heavy cruiser dead in the water. A DD was
underway nearby. We left these ships, as Comdr. Fowler was looking for the
main Jap force. They were sighted off the coast of Samar on course of about
300 (degrees) at 1200. Another group of planes came up. They were to
attack from the northeast while we came in from the northwest
Japs had now changed course to about 350 (degrees). As the VF started down,
the Japs turned toward us, and hoping for a bow to stern run my radioman had
set up the bombs to be released in train with an inter valometer setting of
20’ for 240 knots. I started my glide run from about 8000’-and weaved about
to dodge the AA which was rather thick but not very accurate. By the time I
reached release altitude (2500’) I was coming in almost directly over the
stern of the Jap CA I had picked as a target. Glide was made at about a
sixty degree angle with 250 knots being indicated. On pull-out one bomb
slick was observed close off the CA’s port quarter, and a dark brownish
smoke hung over the ship. According to my crewmen and what I could see,
three hits were scored across the stern of this CA-class undetermined. I
joined up with Comdr. Fowler and returned to our own carrier group and
landed aboard the FANSHAW BAY at about 1330.
REPORT OF ENS. JOSEPH D. McGRAW
REGARDING ATTACK FLIGHT
25 OCTOBER 1944
General Quarters sounded at about 0700 and we manned all our aircraft. I
took off at about 0705 and joined our VT and escorted them to the Jap Fleet
which was then shelling our carriers. At about 0725 we hit their ships. I
made about 11 strafing runs on one BB (Judged to be a FUSO class) and three
CA’s one of which was a TONE. I started the first runs at 8000’ and I used
a little cloud cover at this height and started succeeding runs at
6000’-pulling out usually at about 1000’ and sometimes to about 600’. Their
AA at lower levels was fairly heavy but inaccurate.
Before leaving I observed a CA turning to port and apparently badly
damaged. I also saw one of our carriers dropping far behind the rest-she
was being heavily shelled and smoking badly.
landed aboard the USS MANILA BAY at about 1000 with only five to 8 gallons
of gas. I had come in on the ZB.
1115 we were launched again to make a major attack on the Jap fleet.
Cripples were to be ignored. Comdr. Fowler of VC-5 was leading this
flight. We encountered the Japs off the coast of Samar about 20 miles.
There were at least 2 BB, four CA or CL and 7 or eight DD. At about 1245 we
attacked this group. I strafed the lead BB which I saw hit with bombs
amidships-by Comdr. Fowler, I believe, and I then strafed a CA on the other
side of the BB as I pulled out and then a DD in the outer screen.
continued on my way to the rendezvous area. On the way back to the MANILA
BAY, we passed a Jap BB dead in the water and down at the stern, a CA
listing to port and 1 DD apparently un hit. There was a pilot near them in
the water in his life raft. A BB was circling nearby. I landed aboard the
USS MANILA BAY at about 1415.
(End of report)
REPORTS OF THREE VF PILOTS REGARDING ATTACK FLIGHT OCTOBER 25, 1944
LT(JG) R. E. Phillips
were scrambled at about 0700 and joined up with our VF. We went direct to
the Jap Fleet which was about 20 miles astern of our disposition. I made
three strafing runs on a DD and all my guns went out of order.
last two runs were made with one gun firing. I then went back to base and
reported-no answer-so I proceeded to Tacloban and landed at about 1000.
took off again at 1205 with Ens. Lischer and spotted the Jap fleet off Samar
Island. We tracked them and reported information to commander support
aircraft until 1330. I saw an air group (PEPPER Radio Call) make a strike
on them. We then reported and returned to Tacloban for flying objective CAP
and landed at about 1630.
scrambled at about 0700. I joined up with the other VF from my squadron and
we proceeded to the target. I made eight strafing runs on a Fuso class BB
and a Mogami class CA. My first run was from 10,000’ and following runs
were from six or seven thousand feet-with pullouts at 1500’ to 2000’. The
damage done is undetermined, but we seemed to reduce their AA fire. We
returned to Tacloban and landed about 1000.
Lt(jg) C. F. Hunting
took off at about 0700 when all our VF were scrambled. At about 0745 I
joined up with Ens. McGraw and made five strafing runs on a cruiser. I
think it was a MOGAMI class. These runs were made from about 6000’ and over
a period of about forty-five minutes. The last run I made was a dry run
with torpedo planes. I landed at Tacloban airfield at about 0945.
REPORT OF ENS. E. A. OSTERKORN
REGARDING ATTACK FLIGHT
25 OCTOBER 1944
took off at around 0700 and looked around to join up with planes of our
group, but did not find any. I proceeded to the area over the Jap Fleet and
entered the clouds at about 6000’. I came out of the clouds, after finding
a hole, and proceeded into my attack glide. Bombs were armed with nose and
tail fuses. In the first run nothing happened. I climbed back up into the
clouds, and saw a group of VF going in on a cruiser and I followed them in.
One bomb was released this time, but no explosion was seen. I climbed back
up and got set for a third run. I again went in on a cruiser, released one
bomb-but no explosion was seen. I then proceeded to Tacloban airstrip. I
circled with my wheels down, but I was not given permission to land. I
pulled up my wheels and continued circling. A few minutes later the AA
opened up on me, so I put down my wheels and proceeded to point KING. I
circled there until I heard Lt. Comdr. Huxtable call in and I then joined up
on him to go in and land at Dulag.
Report of Lieutenant E. W. Seitz,
VC-10, concerning flight
about 0700 on 25 October, GQ was sounded and all pilots were ordered to man
all planes. I was catapulted in a FM-2 almost immediately after I had
started the engine. After I cleared the ship I looked back and saw one of
the carriers straddled by 5 or 6 shells. The Japanese fleet position was
reported so I headed for them. In about ten minutes I attacked along with
some Dexter and Catnip torpedo planes. Intense A.A. was absent. (Note: The
word absent is used but it probably was a mistake for there was plenty of
AA, perhaps the word “not” is missing.) Brilliant red, purple and yellow
A.A. were seen above 4000 ft. All bursts below that level were black. It
looked as though the Jap DD’s were throwing up a lot of 20 and 40 MM stuff.
I made runs with three other attack groups, expending all my ammo in about 8
or 9 runs. I made one dummy run with another group to ascertain the type of
ships we were attacking and to observe bomb hits. I believe there were one
or two Mogami class cruisers and one Fuso class among the battleships. I
also saw several Teratsaki DDs. The A.A. seemed to decrease considerably as
the attacks progressed. Hits were reported. I saw no hits, but did see one
cruiser and 2 DDs dead in the water.
expending all my ammo and most of my fuel I flew to Tacloban airfield.
There I encountered other pilots from my squadron. We refueled and rearmed
and were ordered by the officer in charge (Marine General) to fly a target
CAP over the island. Pepsicola Base sent us to point K. One of the
divisions contacted 2 Zekes but lost them in the clouds. Upon completion of
the CAP we were ordered to fly to Taffy 2. While enroute to Taffy 2 we
encountered 4 units of Taffy 3 and decided to land on Dexter Base. We were
taken aboard at about 1630. At 1715 I was scrambled along with 7 other
pilots because of a threatened Jap air attack. We were up for one hour but
results were negative. We landed at 1815 during a rain squall.
(End of report)
REPORT OF LT. C. R. ELLWOOD,
(Composite Squadron Ten)
25 October 1944
Shortly before 0700 on 25 October 1944, it was announced over the public
address system of the USS GAMBIER BAY that surface units of the Jap Fleet
had been tally hoed approximately twenty miles astern of our formation. As
far as I know we were cruising in a north easterly direction and into the
wind. The announcement to man all planes was followed by another that the
Japs had opened fire. I was the third fighter to leave the deck. The first
plane had already disappeared and the second turned into our formation as
though to rendezvous over it. I turned away from the formation and as I
came back over it at least eight planes had rendezvoused on me.
foremost units of the Jap Fleet were in a thick rain squall, and we climbed
climbed it became apparent that either the whole Jap disposition was in the
rain squall or at least obscured by it. We made a 90 degree turn into the
squall picking our way through holes, and had been in it only a short while
when we sighted a group of destroyers which were probably the tail end units
of the disposition.. We immediately started repeated strafing runs.
first the Jap destroyers seemed to be maneuvering wildly in every direction
and finally got into several columns. After several runs I heard DEXTER and
CATNIP skippers preparing for their torpedo and bombing attacks. By this
time our fighters had separated after their repeated dives and recoveries
into the clouds. I paralleled the Jap disposition on the port side in
effort to get up front and be of some use on the torpedo and bombing runs.
I found some torpedo bombers making bombing runs on three cruisers (in
column), and started making strafing runs on the last one which all of the
attacks seemed to be concentrated. During these runs I observed only one
bombing hit which exploded on the bow and seemed to knock out all of the
forward batteries. My guns were all firing intermittently so that I had to
charge them after each run. Finally I had but one gun firing, and only
forty gallons of gasoline so I departed for the beach. The amount of AA had
decreased to where there was only occasional bursts during my last few runs.
the way to TACLOBAN I found two TERATSUKI type destroyers dead in the
water. I climbed for a strafing run and reported their position. They both
opened fire and one started getting under way. I made one run firing until
my one gun quit. I recovered and they were still firing at me when an FM-2
went almost directly over them at a very low altitude. We joined up and
flew to TACLOBAN AIRSTRIP.
C. R. ELLWOOD
REPORT OF ENS. C. J. DUGAN,
(VC-10), CONCERNING FLIGHT OF
25 October 1944
about 0700 all aircraft were scrambled. I was on standby and was about
third of six planes off. We rendezvoused and departed base. The first Jap
shell splashes were hitting around the ships as we took off. We contacted
the Jap Fleet about 20 miles off our port quarter. The visibility was
rather poor, but the continual gun flashes made the fleet plainly visible.
could then hear a formation of bombers preparing to attack, so we went in on
a strafing mission. On my first run I fired at a destroyer and then a
cruiser; they were in column. I pulled out at about 3000 feet and
recovered straight up into the heavy cloud formations.
AA was very heavy with a great deal of light stuff about like 20 MM coming
DD’s. This fire was not effective over 2000 feet, and I was usually out of
my run by that altitude. The large AA was the best for judging altitude
that I have ever seen, however, it was almost always astern. As near as I
could tell, they shot under me on the run, and behind me on a deflection
shot. High speed and continual change of altitude seemed to me to be the
best way to avoid the heavy AA.
about three runs with our group, I became separated from them so I went to
about seven thousand feet and broke into the clear. At this time I spotted
our VC-10 torpedo planes under Lt. Comdr. Huxtable coming in for an attack
and I joined with him. When he gave the word I went on a strafing attack.
All of this group was in heavy AA from the time that they arrived over the
Japs until they recovered. However, I don’t know what the effects of the
runs or the damage that was done for I recovered low on the water and
continued west until I was in a clear area.
then heard a plane asking for support on a group of cruisers and went to
that area. It was a group of CL’s closing on our carrier force. I joined
with a group of VF which were making runs and expended the last of my
ammunition. The AA from these ships was greatly decreased when I left. I
then joined with a single torpedo planes and made runs with them from
different angles in an effort to spread the AA. At first it seemed to work,
but toward the last I don’t think that they were firing at anything that
didn’t have the bomb bay doors open. My gasoline was getting low so I
called in and received orders to go to the beach to refuel and rearm and get
back if possible.
TACLOBAN only those planes low on fuel could land. I had about ten gallons
left so I went in and landed. I found most of the other VC-10 fighter
pilots here with Lt. Stewart in charge. Operations were extremely
difficult. However, the Army personnel gave us excellent cooperation in
rearming and refueling. About 1330 I took off with Lt. Seitz and Ens.
Abercrombie. We flew CAP over the island until about 1500 when we departed
for the USS KITKUN BAY.
flew one CAP scramble hop that evening which was negative.
Ens., A-V(N), USNR VC-10
REPORT OF ENS. R. L. CROCKER
REGARDING ATTACK FLIGHT
the morning of 25 October at approximately 07000 I took off in a TBM1C.
However, due to the emergency conditions, my plane did not have any bombs or
torpedoes and only two armor-piercing rockets and full ammunition.
joined up on Lt. Comdr. Huxtable and three other VT pilots from our
squadron, but was told not to go in on the first attack, as I had no bomb
load. I then flew alongside the enemy disposition in an attempt to divert
the AA fire, while the others attacked. I was fired on by their heavy
caliber guns, and as a result my instruments went out and I had no radio or
the attack I spotted Ens. Gallagher smoking badly and I joined up on him and
started to lead him to Tacloban. It was soon apparent that he wouldn’t make
it, so I went in front of our own disposition and he landed about a mile
ahead of our ships. He went over on his back after the landing, but all
three got out and were together. I dropped several dye markers and a float
light and my seat boat pack to them. I then climbed for altitude over the
enemy force, and, being by myself I circled for a while waiting for someone
to join up with. However, after half an hour I went ahead and made runs on
the DD’s firing my rockets and machine guns. My turret gunner also fired.
I received one 20 MM or 40 MM hit in my port wing stub and engine but there
was no loss of power. After my last run I saw another plane fire 8 rockets
into the water beside the DD’s so I investigated and sighted a sub just
submerging. I had nothing to attack with. I returned to Dulag where I
landed. A fighter crashed into me as I was taxiing off the strip and
damaged my propeller.
(End of report)
REPORT OF Ens. W. C. SHROYER
REGARDING ATTACK FLIGHT
25 OCTOBER 1944
took off around 0700 and attacked immediately on the battleships. I was
with Lt. Comdr. Huxtable. My load was 2-500# bombs. I strafed but did not
drop on them due to bad weather restricting visibility. There was lots of
AA fire. Then I pulled out and went right into cloud cover. when I came
out of the clouds I was at 2000’ right over the 6 Jap cruisers. Luck was
with me and I got away from them by diving on the water as there was
terrific AA fire.
I started climbing up by myself and about 0900 carried out a dive-bombing
attack on a TONE class cruiser from 10,000’. There were about ten or twelve
FM’s that went in strafing, so I followed them in. My two bombs must have
dropped on the fantail. This was confirmed by two of the FM pilots-Lt. Paul
Garrison VC-5, and Ens. Lischer VC-10. A half-hour later I saw this cruiser
dead in the water.
then tried to go after more bombs but was ordered to Tacloban. I landed at
Dulag field. On the 27th. I flew from Dulag to the MANILA BAY.
(End of report)
REPORT OF ATTACK FLIGHT
25 OCTOBER 1944
LT(JG) R. E. WEATHERHOLT
about 0700 General Quarters sounded, and I reported to the ready room. The
other planes had taken off-or were taking off and we had just been informed
of the presence of a Jap fleet 20 miles to the north of us. They had
commenced shelling our disposition. We had four VT which did not take off
with the first group, and we were to be loaded with torpedoes. At around
0720 Ens. Gallagher took off with the first plane loaded. I took off with
the second plane loaded about at about 0730. At that time we had two more
planes nearly ready. I circled the ship waiting for the other two planes to
be launched and intending to join up to make an attack.
that time the shelling was very close to our ship-as close as 75 yards. I
circled for 30 minutes and when other planes had not been launched at that
time, I departed to find other planes to make an attack with. At about 0830
or 0900, I joined up with another VT and we were sent in to make our drops
on a BB. We went in against either bow-and about 15 degrees off dead
ahead. The other VT made his drop slightly ahead of mine. The BB turned
toward him and then straightened out. I did not observe any hits.
(End of report)
report below is partial but sufficient concerning an attack made later in
the morning from the USS MANILA BAY in which at least two VC-10 pilots
participated, this report is apparently by Lt. Cmdr. E. J. Huxtable and is
marked report 3-B)
of our pilots, one VF and one VT, participated in this major attack on the
Jap Force by the CVE groups. This was the first attack of the day in which
loadings could be properly made and the attack properly planned. It was
successful in damaging several units of the enemy fleet.
Commander Fowler was leading a group of approximately 35 VF and VT type
planes from Task Unit 77.4.2 and were to attack from the north-west. Lt.
Comdr. Dale was leading approximately the same number, and was to attack
from the northeast in coordination. Our two pilots, Ens. McGraw and Ens.
Bennett, were flying in the group attacking from the northwest.
wide circle was made to coordinate the timing of the attacks of both groups
and a large cumulus cloud was skirted on approach, and the attack began from
about 8000’. With the fighters strafing immediately ahead of the VT, the
torpedo bombers went down in a very steep glide angle and had as their
targets the major enemy ships mostly to the front and center of the
disposition. At the same time several planes loaded with torpedoes made
their runs and many bomb and torpedo hits were scored.
Bennett chose a heavy cruiser (type unknown) which was on the starboard
flank of the disposition as it was heading north, and scored three of four
bomb hits across the stern of the vessel. Damage was probably heavy from
these hits and from the one near miss. Ens. McGraw made his major strafing
pass at a NAGATO class BB which was hit by bombs, and dipped down twice in
his recovery to strafe a heavy cruiser and a destroyer. In spite of very
heavy anti-aircraft fire, our planes were not hit, made rendezvous with the
group, and returned to base.
were no adverse comments from the pilots participating in this attack
regarding material failure. Everything used performed satisfactorily and
E. J. Huxtable, Lt. Comdr., USN
Commanding Officer, VC-10
25 October 1944
(The following is report
made by E. J. Huxtable)
report of Ens. McGraw, which is attached, is very complete, and only a few
comments need be made.
McGraw had already been in the air about six hours when he took off on this
flight from the foster carrier the U.S.S. MANILA BAY. Excellent fighting
spirit and fighter tactics enabled him to again help materially in stopping
and turning what could have been a serious raid on our task group of CVE’s.
Undoubtedly, if he had been able to release his wing tank, the performance
of his plane against the enemy would have been greatly improved, however,
when intelligently handled the FM-2 is definitely the master of a ZEKE when
both planes have auxiliary fuel tanks.
flight of ZEKES encountered was using our proven tactical formation--both as
to section and division and in escorting. This is one of the few cases of
this that has come to our attention.
Ordnance, Communication, and Engineering details were normal, with the
exception of the droppable wing tank. Serious trouble continues with the
FM-2 wing tanks under combat conditions and has been covered in previous
reports. This remains the major source of trouble and worry with this type
of plane when flying under combat conditions.
E. J. Huxtable, Lt.
Commanding Officer, VC-10
25 October 1944
REPORT OF ENSIGN JOSEPH D. McGRAW
CONCERNING CAP AND ATTACK FLIGHT OF
OCTOBER 25, 1944
1500 I took off from the USS MANILA BAY as section leader of an eight plane
flight on local CAP mission around TG 77.4.2. At about 1615 we were
vectored out about 30 miles where I tally hoed 18-20 Vals with 10-12 Zekes
as escort. We made a high side run on the Vals who were in a formation of
V’s-line astern. There were two Zekes on each side and about six above
the first run, my wingman shot a Val down in flames, and the plane I shot at
dove down in front of me and I continued to shoot at him until he flamed and
broke up. The Zekes had followed us down and had closed enough to shoot at
us in our dives. The Zekes tracers went over my right wing, missing me. I
rolled over in a steep, diving right turn and lost him. Then Lt. Fischer,
the division leader called on the radio saying that he had been hit and was
going to make a water landing. I did not see him after that. He was later
picked up by a fast BB unit (?).
I recovered from my dive at about 3500’, I climbed back up to find myself
directly beneath the leader of the VAL formation, which had turned and was
heading back toward Luzon-course about 270. I climbed up ahead and to their
right to make another pass. I found one Zeke between myself and the Vals.
As I turned and started in on my run, the Zeke slowly turned into me. He
had a belly tank. I still had my left wing tank which I could not release.
I had the altitude advantage so I fired first and held the trigger down.
The Zeke did not seem to try to raise its nose and fire at me. When he was
only a few feet in front of me, his engine exploded and fire and smoke came
out. His prop started to windmill slowly. I pulled around to get on his
tail as he passed underneath me. He continued on a little way, then made a
slow nose-down left turn. He entered a glide with his engine smoking and
prop wind milling slowly. He never pulled out, but held that angle of dive
until he hit the water.
then started looking for the Vals again, but they had disappeared into a
line of clouds. As I came through these clouds, I was climbing, and, on
breaking into the clear, I sighted six planes high above me at about 6000’.
I was then at about 2500’. They were flying our type of division-four plane
formation. I climbed to recognize them and at about 4000’ saw that they had
belly tanks and round wing tips and were Zekes. There were no Vals around.
I dove away and headed back toward the ship. I later met my wingman and the
division leader’s wingman searching several oil slicks in the water. I
counted 8 of them. We joined up and came in to land at 1800. The score for
our flight was three certains-2 Vals and one Zeke. Lt. Fischer may have
downed a plane, but I don’t know.
following is marked as report 5-B, made by Lt. Cmdr. E. J. Huxtable, USN,
Commanding Officer of VC-10. Note that it is reporting on the early flight
on 25 October 1944 that left the ship at 0500. It can be assumed that it
appears in the total report at this point because these pilots made their
reports later than the ones on the ship, due to circumstances.)
(2) four (4) plane FM-2 divisions were launched from the U.S.S. GAMBIER BAY
at 0500 (I) for Target Combat Air Patrol over LEYTE ISLAND.
the way to rendezvous point one division at 10000 feet above a locally solid
overcast received some highly accurate AA probably from our transports in
the area below. Shrapnel hit the vertical stabilizer of one plane.
division orbited points KING, LOVE, and MIKE at 10000’, and the other
division at 15000’ on the orders of PEPSICOLA BASE.
0815 (I) Lt. Wickersham tally hoed one OSCAR about 3000 feet above and one
mile distant, and his division gave chase with Wickersham in the lead.
After a 30 mile chase Southwest over LEYTE, Lt Wickersham caught up and
fired a long burst into the OSCAR from dead astern. He was about one foot
off the surface of a river when hit. He bounced off the river and crashed
into flames on the shore.
to the inability of the GAMBIER BAY to take planes aboard, the division
landed at Tacloban Field on LEYTE at 0915 (I). During the landing, due to a
misunderstanding of the signal, one plane landed long and hit an overturned
plane on the runway. Both planes caught fire, but the pilot escaped
this time it might be of interest to describe the conditions of TACLOBAN
field. It was not prepared for operations but was under Army construction.
The runway had shell holes from Japanese attacks prior to this day. It
seemed to observers that about every third plane crashed because of these
conditions. The Army never the less rose to the occasion and supplied
ammunition and fuel and did the best it could to keep operations going.
Some fighters were lucky and able to operate off the field. The next day or
two finally brought a break and they moved the flyable planes to DULAG and
those planes joined with the TBM’s there. The TBM’s had been sent there for
they were able to stay in the air longer than the fighters for they had more
fuel. The fighters operated out of TACLOBAN as long as they could and then
were sent off. Ultimately all surviving planes were sent out to the
carriers left from 77.4.3 and then all were retired from the area as no
longer a viable organization.)
Planes were refueled and at 1200 (I) took off on Target CAP with one plane
from VC-4 relieving the one lost from our division.
ZEKE was tally hoed and one division fired on it before it escaped into the
clouds. It was not seen again.
1500 both divisions were ordered to return to T. U. 77.4.2 as the USS
GAMBIER BAY was sunk during the morning. On the way they found T. U. 77.4.3
and due to the fact that they could not contact 77.4.2 they landed on the
U.S.S. KITKUN BAY.
adverse comments made by the pilots. All equipment performed normally and
J. Huxtable, Lt. Cmdr. USN
Commanding Officer VC-!0
REPORT OF LT. J. L. OLIVER,
DIVISION LEADER VC-10, USS GAMBIER BAY
REGARDING FLIGHTS OF 25 OCTOBER, 1944
We had eight planes that
took off from the GAMBIER BAY at 0500 for objective CAP over LEYTE ISLAND.
made rendezvous and were over SAMAR ISLAND at about 0540. We reported in to
PEPSICOLA BASE and they told us to orbit point KING or MIKE. It was still
dark and we couldn’t see very well at this time. While we were trying to
find these points I became separated from my second section. As soon as it
got light they rejoined me over point MIKE. We patrolled points KING MIKE
and LOVE while Lt. Stewart’s division was patrolling these points at angels
10-we were at angels 15.
0815 PEPSICOLA BASE asked Lt. Stewart for the location of our base and
whether or not we were under TAFFY 3. They were given the information and
they told us that our base was under attack by enemy surface forces. We
were then ordered to land at TACLOBAN AIRFIELD. We did this at about 0900.
Shortly after this many other planes started landing at the same field and
we re-fueled and took off again at about 1200. While we were at the field
they had two enemy air attacks and I saw one enemy plane burst into flames
as it was hit by AA fire at the south end of the strip. This happened just
as we were lined up ready for take off.
take-off we had Lt. Oliver, Lt. Mudgett from the WHITE PLAINS, Lt. Harders,
and Ens. Bennett. I think the other division must have been Lt. Roby, Lt.
Stewart, Lt. Wickersham, and Ens. Wallace. I think there was one more plane
but I don’t know who was in it. Lt. Seitz, Ens. Abercrombie and Ens. Dugan
took off about ten minutes later. This group did not join with us. We
received orders then from PEPSICOLA BASE to return to our base. After we
had gotten about ten miles on our course to our ship they changed our orders
and told us to remain on CAP. My four planes went to point KING at angels
12 and Lt. Roby’s five planes went to point NAN at mattress elevation.
While on patrol we sighted one ZEKE but he dove away thru the clouds and we
did not see him again. At 1500, we received orders to return to TAFFY 2-the
whole group, but I did not join with Lt. Roby because he had received his
orders first and had already started. I heard his group on the radio and
they were returning to TACLOBAN strip due to the fact they were low on gas
and could not find this group of carriers. We flew on course for about 35
miles and sighted a task force to the south, and flew towards it and it
turned out to be TAFFY 3. We asked FIDO base for a bearing and distance to
TAFFY 2 and at this time the KITKUN BAY gave us a Charlie on the light and
we landed. Lt. Mudgett returned to his own base rather than landing on
the KITKUN BAY.
took off from the KITKUN BAY at 1720 on a scramble, but there was no
activity on this flight and returned to land aboard at 1810.
the way to the objective area when we first took off in the morning, the
weather was bad and it was dark and the enemy surface units were not sighted
and the first thing I saw were the lights on the coast of SAMAR.
were, I know, seventeen of our fighter pilots were in the air at the time
of the surface attack. I saw sixteen of these pilots at TACLOBAN-and two
more were accounted for, I only saw one VT pilot of our group-Lt. Jackson.
Ens. Turner ran into a plane on the runway in landing and wrecked his
plane. As far as I know he remained on the field last night.
(End of report)
REPORT OF ENS. W. W. ABERCROMBIE,
A-V(N), USNR, VC-10, (CVE-73)
25 OCTOBER 1944
took off at 0500 on TCAP in a division of FM’s composed of Lt. Wickersham
and Ens. Giger, Lt. Stewart and myself. We patrolled point KING until
approximately 0800 when Lt. Wickersham spotted an Oscar. We gave chase with
Wickersham in the lead. He closed and went through a cloud to shoot the
to the inability of our base to take us aboard, we landed at TACLOBAN at
0915. When our planes were gassed and armed, we took off to perform
additional TCAP, on station from 1330 until 1530 when we were told to go to
TAFFY 2. Enroute we encountered TAFFY 3 and were taken aboard.
REPORT OF LT. HARDERS,
CONCERNING FLIGHT OF
25 October 1944
0500, 25 October 1944, I took off with the LEYTE ISLAND CAP as second
section leader of the division called CATNIP 4. As we left for the island I
was not rendezvoused, but planned to make a running rendezvous on the way to
the island. I caught up with the formation and my wingman, Ens. Bennett,
joined me at point QUEEN. Very shortly after that I lost Lt. Oliver, the
division leader. PEPSICOLA BASE ordered us to patrol points KING, MIKE,
AND LOVE at 15000 feet. I rejoined Lt. Oliver on this station where we
patrolled without encountering opposition. When our fuel became low,
PEPSICOLA BASE ordered us to land at TACLOBAN FIELD and refuel. We landed
there and during the landing lost the plane of Ens. Turner, who hit another
plane which was on its back in the center of the runway at the time of this
landing. Ens. Turner was not injured.
1200 we were ordered to take off again and resume CAP. Lt. Mudgett of VC-4
replaced Ens. Turner in the division. While patrolling point KING at 12000
feet, I made a tallyho on a ZEKE at about 7000 feet. On the way down two
ZEKES passed abeam of us heading northwest. We did not see them again. We
all fired a long burst at the first ZEKE before he got into the clouds he
was skirting. After he entered the clouds, we did not see him again. At
about 1500 we were ordered to return to T.U. 77.4.2. We found T.U. 77.4.3
and could not get 77.4.2 on the ZB so we landed on the USS KITKUN BAY.
H. J. Harders
Lt., USNR VC-10
ADDITIONAL REPORTS OF VF PILOTS FROM VC-10 ON CAP MISSION 25 OCTOBER
ENS. J. I. TURNER A-V-(N) USNR
On 25 October, 1944, at
0500 two divisions consisting of Lt. Oliver, myself, Lt. Harders, Ens.
Bennett and Lt. Stewart, Ens. Abercrombie, Lt. Wickersham, and Ens. Giger
took off for target CAP. At 0915, after sighting no enemy planes, in my
division, we were instructed to land at Tacloban. All landed safely except
myself. I landed, and due to the misunderstanding of the signal landed long
and hit an overturned plane of the runway. Both planes caught fire, but I
Lt. STEWART A-V(N) USNR
planes were launched at 0500 on target CAP. The division were as listed in
other reports. My division made rendezvous and arrived over the area at
0535. It was too dark to orientate our position with accuracy until about
0555. At about 0545 while at 10000’ above a locally solid overcast, I led
my division somewhere in the immediate vicinity of the transports. At that
time we received highly accurate AA fire and I got a small shrapnel hole in
my vertical stabilizer. We were assigned orbit points KING, LOVE and MIKE
at angels 10. At about 0815, Lt. Wickersham tally hoed one OSCAR about
3000’ above us and one mile distant. After a chase of about 30 miles
Wickersham shot the Oscar. PEPSICOLA BASE told us our task unit ships could
not recover us and that we were to land at Tacloban. We landed at
approximately 0915. When the second division landed, Ens. Turner cracked up
ENS. ABERCROMBIE. A-V(N) USNR
took off at 0500 for target CAP and flew in Lt. Stewart’s division. We
patrolled point KING until approximately 0800 when Lt. Wickersham spotted an
OSCAR. We gave chase with Wickersham in the lead. He closed and went thru
a cloud to shoot the OSCAR down. Due to the inability of our base to take
us aboard we landed at Tacloban at 0915.
LT. WICKERSHAM. A-V(N) USNR
Take-off at 0500, and landed at Tacloban at 0915. At about 0800 I tally
hoed one Oscar. After chasing him 35 miles southwest over Leyte, I caught
up with him and fired a long burst into him from dead astern. We were about
one foot off the surface of a river he was following, and when my shots hit
him he immediately began to smoke. His plane bounced off the river and
crashed into flames on shore.
ENS. GIGER A-V(N) USNR
took off at 0500 on target CAP over Leyte. at about 0810 Wickersham tally
hoed an Oscar and shot it down. I landed at Tacloban at about 0900.
(End of reports)
REPORT 6-B, LT. CMDR. E. J. HUXTABLE, USN, C/O OFFICER VC-10
flight took off at 1515 at Tacloban Airfield as an extra combat air patrol
section to engage enemy aircraft which had been in the area all afternoon.
two pilots on this mission had already flown six hours each on this day.
were patrolling the assigned orbit point for about an hour, a flight of
ZEKES was seen and intercepted. There were possibly six to eight ZEKES in
the immediate vicinity and one FM-2 was already attacking one of the enemy
planes. Hunting and Turner attacked and apparently started out making a
section run, and both hit the same plane to destroy it. Then, due to the
numerical superiority of the enemy, a dog fight resulted in which Hunting’s
plane was hit in the engine and Turner was able to hit and damage two more
ZEKES. Hunting soon returned to the Tacloban area trying to make an
emergency landing. He was directed south and was shot down by friendly AA
fire along the beach. He made a successful water landing although injured,
and was picked up by natives. Turner stayed to fight with the Jap planes
until they either left the area or went into heavy cloud cover. He then
landed at Tacloban just at dusk.
Nothing out of the ordinary was noticed concerning the enemy planes and
equipment or their tactics. The engagement was strictly a dog fight from
our angle, and tactics corresponded.
fact that Hunting’s guns went out after a few bursts was probably traceable
to the fact that they had already fired six to seven hundred rounds already,
and probably had not been properly serviced under the emergency conditions
prevailing. Other items of equipment performed in a normal and satisfactory
J. Huxtable, Lt. Comdr. USN
REPORTS OF TWO VF PILOTS
REGARDING CAP FLIGHT OVER LEYTE ISLAND, P.I.
25 OCTOBER, 1944
1515 I again took off from Tacloban to fly with Lt (jg) C. F. Hunting to fly
combat air patrol. At 1715 we jumped from six to eight Zekes over point NAN
and attacked. Lt(jg) Hunting flamed one and I hit two without apparent
damage. We were separated and I called for Hunting’s position,. He was
directly over Tacloban airfield with an emergency landing necessary. I
heard him receive instructions to orbit point WILLIAM, but when I tried to
find him, I was fired on by the transports in the area. I believe that
Hunting was shot down by this AA. I landed at about 1815 at Tacloban.
1515 I took off at Tacloban for CAP over Samar and Leyte. At 1600 we
sighted an FM-2 attacking two Zekes. With Ens. Turner I attacked. It
developed into quite a dog fight. Ens. Turner shot down one Zeke. During
this engagement my guns went completely out and my plane started vibrating
badly. I returned to Tacloban field for an emergency landing. I was
ordered to stay clear of the field because of fire, so I started south along
Leyte beach. My plane was hit in the engine by friendly AA along the
beach. I ditched the plane due to resulting engine failure in the water
between the transports and the beach, and the AA continued to fire at me
after I had made the water landing. I made a successful water landing
without being able to lower my flaps. I was picked up by the natives in an
outrigger boat after being in the water about 30 minutes. I was put aboard
the USS FREMONT for medical treatment as I had received some small pieces of
shrapnel in my right arm and face. I was then transferred to the USS MERCY
on 26 October.
REPORT 7-B, LT. CMDR. E. J. HUXTABLE, USN, C/O OFFICER VC-10
October 1944, at 0730, five of our planes that were temporarily based on
Tacloban Airstrip took off on a routine combat air patrol over the
to lack of facilities at the airstrip oxygen could not be replaced that had
been used during the fighter flights of the previous day, and consequently
the group was flying at 10000’ rather than at a more advantageous higher
level. At about 0800, while the group was over the Ormoc area, on the west
side of the island, a flight of six OSCARS was sighted at four to five
thousand feet greater altitude heading for the LEYTE GULF AREA. As soon as
our group started climbing for altitude for attack, the enemy planes went in
various directions, and apparently were not looking for a fight in any
manner. No fire from the enemy planes was seen to be directed at our
Stewart and Lt. Wickersham who were in the lead succeeded in closing on one
plane that fled to the eastward, and each got in two or three bursts from
almost dead astern to smoke the plane and cause the Jap pilot to bail our of
his aircraft. It is very interesting to note that on top of the enemy
parachute was a large red ball, indicating, perhaps that the enemy is still
interested in who he might be strafing in a parachute.
it is definitely questionable as to the quality of the Japanese pilots in
this encounter, the FM-2 certainly has again proven its worth in catching
this type of enemy plane in spite of original altitude advantage enjoyed by
the enemy. Enemy tactics were certainly not of the best--offensively or
defensively--while our group stayed together and concentrated their
attention to gain a decision.
E. J. Huxtable,
Lt Cmdr., USN
26 October 1944
REPORTS OF FIGHTER PILOTS
WHO WERE ON COMBAT AIR PATROL
OVER LEYTE ISLAND, P.I.
26 OCTOBER 1944
took off at Tacloban airfield at 0730 on 26 October. The flight was
composed of Lt. Stewart, Ens. Wallace, Lt. Wickersham, Lt. Roby and Ens.
Lischer. We orbited points KING, LOVE, and MIKE at angels 10 due to lack of
oxygen. At about 0800 we tally hoed six Oscars over point LOVE at angels
14. It was the start of a stern chase. Two of the enemy planes broke off
and went into the clouds near point PETER, three headed for Point SUGAR.
Lt. Wickersham fired at this last one from astern, and then I closed into
this plane from dead astern to about 600’ at which time he pulled up into a
tight right chandelle. I opened fire as he started his turn and followed
him thru. He started smoking immediately and when he had completed about
120 degrees of his turn, he rolled on his back and bailed out. Ens. Wallace
followed the chute down but did not strafe. The chute had a large red
circle on the top of it. We could not find the remaining five Oscars, and
we landed at Tacloban at about 1000.
entire afternoon of the 26th we were alerted with our planes at the take-off
spot at the end of the runway. This was in compliance with the orders of an
army colonel in charge of the field. The field was under strafing and
incendiary attack about 1600 by four Oscars.
took off at Tacloban at 0730 on combat air patrol. At about 0815, six
Oscars were tallyhoed and one was shot down. We landed at Tacloban at 1000.
off at 0730 at Tacloban. Landed tere at about 1000. At about 0800 we
tally hoed six Oscars at about 5000’ above us. We caught the last one and
Lt. Stewart and I shot it down. I got two bursts into him from 20 degrees
to dead astern and I clearly saw him bail out. Lt. Roby saw the parachute
also on a combat air patrol flight, but took off 30 minutes later than the
rest of my squadron flight and was with a group from the WHITE PLAINS. We
landed at Tacloban at 1000 after having negative results on the flight.
off at Tacloban at 0730 with the group noted by Lt. Stewart for combat air
patrol over Leyte. At about 0815 I tally hoed six Oscars approaching Leyte
at Ormoc Bay. We had a disadvantage as to altitude, but Lt. Stewart and Ltr.
Wickersham shot one down and we dispersed the others. We were vectored
after the other bogies but had negative results. We landed as ordered at
LT. CMDR. E. J. HUXTABLE,
USN, COMMANDING OFFICER, VC-10
flight was intended as a ferry hop only between Tacloban and Dulag fields on
LEYTE ISLAND. Two planes took off, due to the Army order to clear the
field, that never would have been flown without repairs in normal
circumstances, and one of these was an operational loss due to engine
Shortly after the planes were airborne, a condition RED was set in the area
and the planes orbited over LEYTE GULF -- some distance out due east of
Dulag. Due to the fact they were only intending the flight to be a short
ferry hop, they were continuing to fly below the low clouds which had a
bottom at about 1000’. While orbiting and keeping on the alert for enemy
planes, a TONY was seen and all planes able to try to attack tailed after
the enemy and shot him down, apparently without the enemy ever having seen
our fighters. He was only at cruising speed and took no evasive tactics
until after he had been well hit and when it was too late. At about this
time, Ens. Turner, who had to try and fly his plane by using the emergency
fuel pump, had to make a water landing due to complete loss of power. Six
of the remaining planes stood by to orbit, set rescue facilities in motion,
and dropped rescue gear. Another had to proceed to Dulag to land in
emergency conditions. While orbiting over Ens. Turner, who seemed to be
well covered, Ens. Lischer saw a VAL come down through the cloud layer and
head in the general direction of the Dulag Field. He chased the plane and
caught it within a few miles, and it crashed 3-5 miles south of Dulag about
3 or 4 miles inland. Some evasive action was attempted, but the enemy had
no altitude to use to evade the much faster FM-2 and was easily caught in
the tail chase by Ens. Lischer.
the flight had determined that Ens. Turner had been picked up, they returned
to land at Dulag Field. A twenty-mile ferry hop had resulted in the
shooting down of two enemy planes.
considered likely that no material failure occurred in the cases of the
engines operating poorly and the guns on one plane failing to fire.
Facilities on Tacloban were not present to repair or check routine
mechanical or engineering troubles, and the failures that occurred were
definitely thought to have resulted from lack of proper maintenance.
J. Huxtable, Lt Cmdr. USN
Commanding Officer, VC-10
REPORTS OF VF PILOTS
ON CAP FLIGHT 0730-0900
27 October 1944
informed by the Colonel in charge of the field at Tacloban that all planes
not off the field that morning would be junked. We departed Tacloban for
Dulag at 0730. Pilots were Lt. Stewart, Ens. Wallace, Lt. Wickersham, Ens.
Giger, Ens. Lischer, and Ens. Turner. Ens. Turner took a plane up that had
no fuel pump and he was trying to operate the plane using his emergency
pump. Lt(jg) Phillips also took off in a plane that he had grounded due to
the fact that the engine had been cutting out.
flew to point WILLIAM and then south and were to approach Dulag from the
east. A RED alert was broadcast, so we orbited at mattress elevation of
about 1000’ midway between the southern transport group and Dinagat Island.
Tony was tally hoed on a southerly course. It was a tail chase. I closed
on this plane very rapidly and opened fire at about 500’ and got in a long
burst before having to break off to keep from ramming him. At this time he
was in about a ten degree glide at 500’ heading down toward the beach a
little south of point SUGAR. After I pulled out from the port side I saw
three other planes fire on him from astern. I saw neither smoke or flame
as he continued his descent in a slight right turn until he hit the beach
Following this Ens. Lischer reported to me by radio that he was chasing a
VAL which he reported shooting down a few minutes later. At about 0830 Ens.
Turner’s engine failed and he made a water landing in the Gulf. I contacted
the commander of support aircraft and a SOC was sent to rescue. Ens.
Wallace dropped his boat pack and departed for Dulag. All other planes
circled until rescue was completed by a DE and by a PT boat. All planes
that remained in the air landed at 0930. A PT boat returned Turner to Dulag.
took off at 0730 at Tacloban for Dulag. I was leading the flight as I had
been to the Dulag strip previously. A RED alert was sounded so we had to
circle over Leyte Gulf. We tally hoed a Tony and I assisted in knocking him
down. My firing was from a position astern. Ens. Turner made a water
landing in Leyte Gulf due to engine failure. I threw my life boat to him
and then went over to land at Dulag strip at 0845. At that time, I had only
one gun left that would fire.
took off with the others at about 0730 and landed at 0930 at Dulag. At
about 0845 we tally hoed a bogey which was a Tony at about our altitude
(1000’) and turning away from us. We caught up with him and fired, and
there were about four of us firing at him at the same time. I got in three
bursts. He began to smoke and went into a slow diving turn to crash and
burn on Leyte. I don’t believe he had ever seen us.
took off at 0730 from Tacloban for flight to Dulag. Soon after we were out
over the Gulf, our group tally hoed
a Tony. I got in a stern run and fired with the one gun that was working.
Ens. Turner’s engine failed and he made a water landing. Upon completion of
the rescue operations we landed at Dulag at 0930.
were ordered off Tacloban field and to fly to Dulag and took off at about
0730. At about 0830 my engine began to lose power, and shortly afterwards I
was forced to make a water landing. At about 0815 I saw our VF shoot down a
Tony and at about 0900 I saw Ens. Lischer chasing a Val which he later got.
I was picked up by a destroyer escort. I had minor lacerations on my face.
were ordered off the Tacloban field by the Army. At about 0730 Lt. Stewart
and about six other VF took off for Dulag. I was unable to leave because my
starter was inoperative. At 0930, I had it repaired and took off to land at
left Tacloban at 0730 and I landed at Dulag at about 0915. My engine was
cutting out and my landing at Dulag was an emergency.
27October at 0730 I took off with six other fighters under Lt. Stewart from
Tacloban and we proceeded to the Dulag airstrip. After becoming airborne,
we were ordered to circle southeast of Dulag over Leyte Gulf because of an
air alert. During this time we observed one TONY retiring from the
transports and we gave chase. Lt. Stewart caught him first and gave him a
good burst before he overran. The TONY skidded in front of me and I got in
a long burst, and as I looked up his right wing went down and when I looked
back he had crashed and exploded right on the beach about ten miles south of
Dulag. Lt. Wickersham and one other pilot got in bursts at the TONY also.
Retiring to our orbit point, Ens. Turner had engine failure, and while we
were orbiting him, after he had landed in the water, I observed a Val come
out of the clouds and turn towards land. I chased him and finally shot him
down five miles south of Dulag at about 0930 after Ens. Turner had been
picked up by a rescue craft.
(End of report)
ended the momentous three days for Squadron VC-10, and CVE USS Gambier Bay
of Carrier Division 26 of Task Unit 77.4.3 in the Battle Of Leyte Gulf,
Philippine Islands. Lost also were destroyers and destroyer escorts from
our supporting screen, USS Hoel, USS Johnston, USS Samuel B. Roberts. We
remember also the loss of the CVE USS St. Lo from a Kamikaze later on 25
OF ALL REPORTS
reports are typed verbatim as submitted. There have been no changes except
the correction of names of people involved when needed.)