26 March 2013

70 years ago...

Seventy years ago, as of the time of this post, a battle was just ending in the North Pacific.  Task Group 16.6, USN, under RAdm Charles McMorris, had just successfully disengaged from combat with a superior Japanese force under RAdm Hosagaya Boshiro.  This battle is commonly known as The Battle of the Komandorskis, after the nearby Russian island group.

There are some good on-line articles on the action, with one at Microworks, and another at HistoryNet.  The order of battle is listed in a concise fashion at NavWeaps.

The only book on this specific battle is authored by John Lorelli.

My father served aboard USS Richmond from 1942 through 1945, and was present for this battle.  He never did talk about it much, but one night decades ago, when we were at my sister's house, and my sister and mum were off, my father spoke briefly about his war experiences with my brother-in-law and myself.  He did admit that he was not so scared that day, even though it could have turned out much worse especially when USS Salt Lake City (old Swayback Maru - the ship a visiting German delegation declared in the 1930's as a ship good only for payclerks and cooks) went dead in the water and things were looking grim.  He was much more worried during a patrol a year later, near northern Japan, when, during an unusually clear night, his radar screen picked up an approaching aerial contact out of the west.  This was, presumably, a Japanese recon plane.  Richmond's captain ordered an unorthodox maneuver - he called for 'All Stop' and brought the cruiser dead in the water.  This was to prevent the aircraft from seeing the faintly phosphorescent wake left by the ship.  Minutes seemed like hours as the crew waited for the aircraft to either find or miss them... The recon plane moved closer, closer, then turned away. 

To the sailors of TG 16.6, and especially my father - you are not forgotten.