Taffy 3 - The Battle Off Samar - Ships Nostalgia
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Taffy 3 - The Battle Off Samar

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  #1  
Old 19th August 2015, 04:30
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Taffy 3 - The Battle Off Samar

"This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can." ~~Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland, commanding officer, USS Samuel B. Roberts

Many people consider the Battle Off Samar to be the premier action that the US Navy has ever performed. Three destroyers (DD's) and four destroyer escorts (DE's) covered the withdrawal of six escort carriers (CVE's) by attacking the entire Japanese Center Force, four battleships (including Yamato), six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, eleven destroyers, and 30 kamikazes.

The amazing thing is that the courage of the American forces overwhelmed the Japanese to such a degree, that the Japanese turned tail and ran.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_off_Samar

http://www.bosamar.com/

http://destroyerhistory.org/actions/index.asp?pid=4583


One of my volunteer guides is this man, Bob DeSpain, a veteran of Taffy 3 and a survivor from USS HOEL.


Quote:
Bob DeSpain was 16 when he learned the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the USS Tennessee, which happened to be the ship his brother Herb was serving aboard.
DeSpain said it was this day, on Dec. 7, 1941, that he knew he would join the Navy after his birthday in December.
He did just that.
On Dec. 29, 1941, DeSpain was headed to Farragut, Idaho. After 100 hours on a coal steamboat, DeSpain, a Long Beach-native covered in black coal dust, saw his first snowfall.
“It was freezing,” he said. “I always figured I would be sent to San Diego for basic training, but boy was I mistaken.”
DeSpain, after training, became part of the original crew for the brand new USS Hoel. After months of training exercises, the ship departed for Hawaii in October of 1943.
Nearly two-years later, DeSpain said he and his shipmates could see the Japanese ships on the horizon. He said the “silhouette was like a dream.”
He was in the morning chow line when he heard and felt the first explosion. He rushed to his battle station as the Hoel was taking on heavy fire from the Japanese.
“They were firing on us from so far away we couldn’t see them at first,” he said. “We were in a desperate position, and had to move fast, zig-zagging violently, the acceleration was too much for the Hoel, and the ship began shuddering from the vibration of the screws.”
DeSpain said he and a shipmate began making a smoke screen from the ships stacks and smoke generators to provide a smoke shield of cover.
“We were being hit hard, and then suddenly a Jap shell hit the 20 mm gun tub on the fantail,” he said. “The hole was big enough to crawl through, and that was the beginning of the end for the Hoel.”
As the ship slowly began to sink stern first, DeSpain laid on the deck not sure if he was wounded from all the blood and gore that had flowed down from the gutters.
“As the water rose up to the fantail onto me, it finally dawned on me that the Hoel was doomed, and I slid off into the ocean,” he said.
DeSpain spent three days and three nights in the ocean, clinging to a net that was attached to a raft. He had given up his lifejacket to an injured shipmate shortly after hitting the water.
He still remembers “lashing himself” into the net to keep from drowning when sleeping.
“It was a terrible feeling. We really didn’t know if we would ever be rescued,” he said. “But I’ll never forget seeing that LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) and knowing we were getting out of there.”
DeSpain is one of the dwindling number of World War II veterans left, and on Friday, he was honored to be able to tell it again.
“Anytime I step foot on a ship it is like coming home,” he said. “I fought like hell for three years to get the USS Iowa to San Pedro — I wrote letters, I attended every meeting, and to be able to step on this ship, right here in my backyard, it is special to me.”
DeSpain is one of the many veterans that volunteers on the USS Iowa each and every day.
“It’s special to me,” he said. “It’s special to all of us — it’s home, this is where our brothers are, and in many ways, I feel like bringing the USS Iowa to dock here, was like bringing my lost shipmates home.” ~~Kelsey Duckett, San Pedro Beacon
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  #2  
Old 19th August 2015, 05:39
Kaiser Bill Kaiser Bill is offline  
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Thank you James for posting this, it is something I never knew about.
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  #3  
Old 21st August 2015, 21:18
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jamesgpobog jamesgpobog is offline  
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USS HOEL Action Report

USS HOEL Action Report
15 November 1944

From: The Commanding Officer - USS HOEL
To : The Secretary of the Navy.
(1) Commander Destroyer Squadron FORTY-SEVEN
(2) Commander Carrier Division TWENTY-FIVE (Commander
Task Unit 77.4.3).
(3) Commander Seventh Fleet.
(4) Commander in Chief, United States Fleet

Subject: Combined Action Report and Report of Loss of U.S.S.
HOEL (DD 533) on 25 October, 1944.

Reference: (a) CTG 78.2 secret desp. Of 28 October, 1944, to
Cominch reporting loss of U.S.S. HOEL (DD 533)
(b) U.S. Navy Regs., 1920, Art. 874 (6).
© U.S. Navy Regs., 1920, Art. 841 (3).
(d) PacFlt Conf. Ltr. 2CL-44
(e) ComCarDiv 25 Special Report of 29 October, 1944.
Serial 00100.

Enclosure: (A) Casualty Report
(B) Wounded in Action Report.

PART I

1. To supplement reference (a), this report, to cover the circumstances of the
action and loss of the U.S.S. HOEL (DD 533) is submitted in compliance with reference (b) and (e). All times mentioned herein are Item (Zone -9), and from memory. All records, accounts, logs, publications and papers were lost with the ship.

The U.S.S. HOEL sank at about 0855 Item on 25 October, 1944, in Latitude 11 degrees - 46' North, Longitude 126 degrees - 33' East, as the result of more than forty (40) five, eight and sixteen inch hits from enemy battleships, cruisers and destroyers sustained over a period of two hours. During this time maximum use was made of all available weapons. One half salvo of torpedoes (5 torpedoes) was launched at the leading battleship and one half salvo of torpedoes was launched at the leading heavy cruiser in a desperate attempt to damage or turn these ships so that the escort carriers might escape. Gunfire was maintained continuously on enemy targets until the ship was abandoned, the last gun being trained manually and fired locally. The smoke screen laid proved very effective, and the accurate main battery fire by this ship on various Japanese vessels drew much of their fire from the carriers.

This vessel was instrumental in damaging several Japanese ships, one heavy cruiser by torpedo fire to the extent that it was later scuttled and abandoned. This most unique action of our light forces against a major enemy task force resulted in the loss of but one escort carrier when the enemy was in a position to destroy every ship of the task unit.

2. Preliminaries
(a) Sortieed from Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, Admiralty Group, with Task Group 77.2 (Fire Support Group) on 12 October , 1944, as a unit of the Anti-submarine Screen. Proceeded to Leyte Island, P.I. On 18 October, 1944, this Task Unit (77.4.3) began operating independently as the Northern Air Support Group about sixty (60) miles east of Samar Island, P.I., with the screen commander (CTU 77.4.33) in this vessel. The task unit was increased by two escort carriers and two destroyer escorts on October 20th (Able Day). Acted as a unit of the Anti-submarine and Anti-aircraft screen until October 25th. During this period recovered two crews of TBM's of the U.S.S. AT. LO and sank one floating mine.

(b) For tactical aspects and assumptions of the situation see reference (e). In the absence of specific orders, doctrine used in the engagement was in accordance with the General Tactical Instructions and Torpedo Doctrine contained in DTD 4-44.

(c) Own forces at the outset of the action consisted of the surface and air units of Task Unit 77.4.3, namely, the escort carriers, FANSHAW BAY (OTC), ST. LO, WHITE PLAINS, KALININ BAY, GAMBIER BAY and KITKUN BAY; destroyers HOEL, HEERMANN and JOHNSTON; destroyer escorts ROBERTS, RAYMOND, DENNIS and BUTLER. Task unit was in formation 5R with escort carriers equally spaced on circle 2.5 and this vessel in the most norththerly screening station. The position of the task unit and it's ensuing track during the action were as outlined in reference (e).

(d) Enemy forces consisted of four battleships (2 YAMATO and 2 ISE), four to six heavy cruisers (2 TONE) and from seven to ten destroyers (3 ASASHIO; 4 TERUTSUKI) all in position west of this unit and in approximate column by class with the battleships in the northern column, cruisers in the center and destroyers to the south. The interval between columns was several thousand yards (about 8000) with the column leaders on a line of bearing about 240 degrees T from north. The enemy bore about 320 degrees T, distance 17 miles from this ship at the outset of the engagement.

(e) See reference (e) for conditions of wind, sea and visibility.

PART II

At approximately 0650 word was received by voice radio that an ASP plane of our unit was being fired upon by an enemy surface force. Simultaneously a lookout reported anti-aircraft bursts to the northwest. Within a few minutes SG radar contacts were reported to the northwest and gunfire splashes were seen falling near the carriers. Word was received by voice radio "We are being pursued by a large portion of the Japanese Fleet". General Quarters was sounded and orders given to light off all boilers and prepare to make maximum speed. The enemy force was to the northwest at a range of 33,000 yards on course 110 degrees True, the northern forces making 27 knots and the central and southern forces making 30 knots. Out task unit was on an easterly course at a speed of 18 knots with carriers launching all remaining aircraft.

Orders were received to lay a smoke screen. The HOEL left is screening station turning to port and laid a smoke screen between the enemy and our own formation following the JOHNSTON and the ROBERTS. While laying this screen the force entered and remained in a rain squall for about ten minutes during which period the enemy force ceased all firing.
When the range of the enemy force closed to 18,000 yards, commenced torpedo approach on the leading battleship. Torpedoes were set at intermediate speed and ship's course set at 000 degrees as advised by combat. A half salvo was ordered because the tactical situation required the stopping or turning of at least two columns of enemy ships.

Commenced firing main battery on the leading Japanese battleship at a range of 14,000 yards (modified radar control). At 0725 received the first hit on the bridge destroying all voice radio communications and the remote PPI. At 0727 launched one half salvo of torpedoes at the leading Jap battleship which was then on a course of 140 degrees True at a speed of 20 knots at a range of 9000 yards. Results were unobserved. Immediately after launching this attack, hits were received to the after fireroom followed by a direct hit on the after turbine causing the loss of the port engine.

The rudder jammed right while turning away from the torpedo attack, due to another hit aft causing the loss of power to the after guns and steering aft, and this vessel turned slowly to the right heading for the battleship at which the torpedoes had been launched. Shifted to hand steering in about two minutes using the steering engine room trick wheel controlled by the bridge pointer.

Attempts were made to fire the after guns manually, but this proved impossible. Number 3 gun was untenable due to steam escaping from the engine room. And due to a fire in Number 3 handling room (later extinguished by the after repair party). Half of the barrel of Number 4 gun was shot off by a direct hit. Gun Number 5 was frozen in train by a near hit. Guns 1 and 2 continued to fire on targets of opportunity using SG radar and gun number 2 relative bearing to plot for a solution of course and speed. The Mark 37 director and FD were useless from three direct hits.

At about 0735 using one engine and hand steering position was gained for a torpedo attack on the leading heavy cruiser using manual train and selective aim with the torpedo officer on number two mount due to the loss of communications with the torpedo mounts. One half salvo of torpedoes was launched at the leading cruiser at a range of about 6000 yards. Target angle 050. All torpedoes ran hot straight, and normal and large columns of water were observed to rise from the cruiser at about the time scheduled for the torpedoes run.

Retirement was attempted to the southwest, but was impossible as the ship was boxed in on both sides by enemy capital ships. By fish-tailing and chasing salvos this vessel was able to remain afloat for more than an hour in its precarious position, with enemy battleships 8000 yards on the port beam and cruisers 7000 yards on starboard quarter. During this period guns 1 and 2 fired continuously, each gun expending more than 250 rounds of ammunition.

At about 0830 power was lost on the starboard engine, at which time all engineering spaces were flooding, and number 1 magazine was on fire. At 0835 word was passed to "Prepare to abandon ship". AT 0840 ship was abandoned, at which time she was listed about 20 degrees to port. The enemy continued to fire at the HOEL until 0850. At 0855 the ship rolled over on her port side and then sank stern first.

No appreciable underwater explosions occurred. It is estimated that more than 300 two and three gun salvos were fired at the ship before she sank, many of which were major caliber and dye loaded. Practically all major caliber ammunition was armor piercing and penetrated both sides of the ship without exploding. Most of the minor caliber shells were anti-personnel.

Upon retiring, six of the Jap ships passed close aboard the rafts but no attempts was made to fire on the personnel in the water.

Last edited by jamesgpobog; 21st August 2015 at 21:22..
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  #4  
Old 21st August 2015, 21:34
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John Rogers John Rogers is offline  
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Upon retiring, six of the Jap ships passed close aboard the rafts but no attempts was made to fire on the personnel in the water.

Maybe this was due to the gallant fight the little Tin Can put up against them, respect for a fighting ship and its crew.

Great story James.
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  #5  
Old 21st August 2015, 21:42
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jamesgpobog jamesgpobog is offline  
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This is a pic from Bob's personal collection. He is marked in red.

Not a single man in the photo except Bob survived the ship's sinking.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Hoel 1.jpg (386.0 KB, 30 views)
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  #6  
Old 23rd August 2015, 00:07
Wallace Slough Wallace Slough is online now  
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I salute Bob DeSpain and the men of his generation whose sacrifice made for a free world. Two books that I would highly recommend on this action are:
Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James Hornfischer
http://www.amazon.com/Last-Stand-Tin...ptunes+inferno
For Crew and Country by John Wukovits
http://www.amazon.com/Crew-Country-I...muel+b+roberts
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  #7  
Old 23rd August 2015, 00:56
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jamesgpobog jamesgpobog is offline  
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Bob's picture is actually in Tin Can Sailors.

He sets stuff up here in the wardroom, tells his stories, and signs copies of TCS that people buy in the gift shop...
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Old 27th August 2015, 00:47
Klaatu83 Klaatu83 is offline  
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My father was on USS Fanshaw Bay, the flagship of Taffy 3, during the battle of Samar. He said that after they launched their planes, the escort carriers were basically running away as fast as they could, which was not very fast, and especially not fast enough for the nearby USS Gambier Bay, which he saw being sunk by Japanese gunfire. One thing he vividly recalled was the different colored splashes made by the shells from the Japanese ships, which he presumed was to aid in spotting the fall of shot from the various ships.
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Old 27th August 2015, 02:09
SAGcadet SAGcadet is offline  
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It's all very impressive but in the Royal Navy you were EXPECTED to do these things

You don't run the world for 300 years because you might, or you probably will, get beat

At Trafalgar btw, apparently, a huge number of the crewmen were from the New World (usa)

It's a funny old game

IMO the most impressive thing America ever did was the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot
The four Japanese air strikes involved 373 carrier aircraft, of which 130 returned to the carriers. Many of these survivors were subsequently lost when the carriers Taiho and Shōkaku were sunk by submarine attacks on the first day of the battle. After the second day of the battle, losses totaled three carriers, more than 433 carrier aircraft, and around 200 land-based aircraft.
Losses on the U.S. side on the first day were only 23 aircraft. The second day's airstrike against the Japanese fleet saw most of the aircraft losses for the U.S. Of the 215 aircraft launched on the strike, only 115 made it back. Twenty were lost to enemy action in the attack, while 80 more were lost when they expended their fuel returning to their carriers and had to ditch into the sea.

from the same page:

during the Battle off Samar. Halsey's rush off to battle created a crisis in which the Americans narrowly averted a strategic disaster.

Last edited by SAGcadet; 27th August 2015 at 02:48..
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Old 27th August 2015, 02:20
SAGcadet SAGcadet is offline  
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In the Battle of the River Plate for example, being totally out gunned, the sensible thing to do was to stand off and wait for reinforcements

This was in December 1939 by the way, 2 years before America decided it should join world war 2

Did you guys know that the final battle for Moscow finished on December 5th 1941?

It's a funny old world

Operation Typhoon had failed. From that day forwards, it was back to Berlin

Midway was impressive, even though the US knew what was happening you still need the people to do the necessaries

Last edited by SAGcadet; 27th August 2015 at 02:32..
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Old 27th August 2015, 03:06
SAGcadet SAGcadet is offline  
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By the 5th of December 1941 WW2 in Europe was finished, the Soviet Union was going to win

What did we do in Europe?(The allies)
We stopped France and Western Europe becoming communist

D-day was 6th June 1944, and two ME109s turned up to fight us
da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da

and less than 12 months later..... it was over (Around 30th April/early May 1945)
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