USS SIGSBEE DD-502
The above painting by Naval artist Peter Hsu (copyright authorized) shows the 502 under air attack 4/14/45
ACTION REPORT SERIES:
SIGSBEE'S FIRST WAR ACTION
ACTION REPORT SERIAL 001, 9 OCTOBER 1943 BOMBARDMENT OF WAKE ISLAND 5 OCTOBER 1943, ACTION BY FIRST BOMBARDMENT GROUP TASK UNIT 14.2.1
From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet
Via: 1. Commander Task Unit 14.2.1 (Commander Cruiser Division 6) 2. Commander Task Force 14 Commander Carrier Division 12) 3. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
Subject: Action Report, Bombardment of Wake Island, October 5, 1943.
1. At 0645 this vessel, in company with Task Unit 14.2.1 departed from main body of Task Force 14 which was then conducting an air attack on Wake Island.
2. By signal, the Task Unit formed with CA's in Vee with Destroyer Division 50 (less Dashiell) as screen, SIGSBEE on starboard bow. Course 188 degrees, zig zagging in accordance with Plan 14, speed 21 knots, proceeding generally toward a point 20 miles east of Wake Island. Wind, NE, force 3, sea from NE, condition 3.
Chronological Log of Events
0723 Bogies 210 degrees T, 45 miles.
0800 Changed Base Course to 197 degrees T.
0915 CAP (8VF) overhead.
1044 Changed Base Course to 208 degrees T.
1115 34,000 yards from Wake Island approaching for attack.
1135 Unidentified planes bearing 302 degrees T, 15 miles. Fighters vectored out by FDO. Bogies came within 10 miles then turned around heading for Wake Island. CIC reported: "They are probably Zeros, because they out-distanced our fighters." "There is a merged plot indicating our fighters have closed."
1145 Various courses at 30 knots taking station. Cruisers launching VO planes.
1148 CIC plot indicates dog-fight.
1150 Fighters reported Tallyho, 3 Zekes with one down.
1152 Bogies Northwest, distance 10 miles.
1153 CAP overhead.
1155 CIC reported: Possible air battle going on 5 miles west of us.
1156 Large group of Bogies bearing 120 degrees T, 82 miles. CIC reported: "Undoubtedly planes from Marshall Islands."
1201 Large Bogies approaching bearing 115 degrees T, 75 miles.
1205 Took anti-submarine station, screening for cruisers.
1206 Large Bogies closing, bearing 120 degrees T, 45 miles, course 300 degrees T, speed 200 knots. "Closing rapidly."
1208 Fighters vectored out to intercept.
1208 Steady on course 286 degrees T on station in anti-submarine screen, SIGSBEE on starboard bow. Speed 25 knots. Cruisers in column, CA36 (MINNEAPOLIS) as guide.
1209 "We are going in for our bombardment as scheduled, mow them down", from the Commander Task Unit 14.2.1.
1211 Bogey bearing 125 degrees T, 13 miles, course 305 degrees T, speed 200 knots.
1211 Large Group of Bogies bearing 145 degrees T, 27 miles.
1212 Task Unit 14.2.2 to Northward of Wake Commenced firing.
1214 Bogies bearing 145 degrees T, 25 miles and 30 miles, small group.
1215 Bogies bear 170 degrees T, 23 miles.
1215 Changed course to 295 degrees T.
1216 Took station sharp on bow of cruisers to get out of line of fire.
1219 Bogies bearing 165 degrees T, 34 miles. CIC reported: Apparently they circled in then circled out when they saw our fighters.
1220 Changed speed to 30 knots.
1221 CIC reported: We are closing about a mile inside our estimated bombardment line.
1221 Merged plot bearing 175 degrees T, 33 miles.
1223 CIC reported: The dog-fight appears to be opening from us. Tallyho from fighters who report one fish shot down.
1225 Went to full power to take proper station due to change of course to the left
1228 VHF reports 1 Betty shot down.
1229 Our fighters overhead.
1229 Cruisers commenced firing.
1230 Fired upon by shore batteries from Peacock Point. One salvo landed 500 yards off our starboard beam.
1233 Salvo 800 yards over U.S.S. MINNEAPOLIS from the beach
1235 Planes attacking Wake. Our VB's and VF's practically unmolested. No visible Ack-Ack. It looks good.
1235 Shore batteries still firing. Salvos landing about 200-300 yards off port side of U.S.S. MINNEAPOLIS.
1237 U.S.S. RINGGOLD granted permission to open fire. RINGGOLD firing directly over us.
1240 SIGSBEE requested permission to open fire on shore battery.
1241 Salvo from the beach landed 250 yards off our bow.
1242 Permission granted, SIGSBEE opened fire.
1243 Our salvos started a fire on the beach.
1245 Commenced firing at second coastal defense gun.
1247 Salvo landed about 300 yards behind us.
1248 Various courses to the Northwest, speed 18 knots.
1250 A gun located in middle of island is firing away.
1259 Reduced rate to slow deliberate fire.
1304 Bogies bearing 190 degrees T, our fighters are intercepting.
1305 Ceased firing on first phase and turned on Westerly course, speed 30 knots.
1306 Merged plot bearing 182 degrees T, 8 miles.
1307 Bogies inside fighters bearing 180 degrees T, 10 miles.
1308 Bogies bearing 180 degrees T, 8 miles, course 000, speed 150 knots.
1308 Bogies bearing 195 degrees T, 7 miles, are coming in on course 010 degrees T.
1309 Three shells from Wake Island just passed overhead landed 500 yards away.
1310 Observed SOC aircraft shot down by fighters 5 miles on port beam.
1310 Salvo from beach landed 50 yards off port beam.
1311 Two parachutes sighted on port beam, fighters strafing men on way down.
1315 OTC ordered: All stations open fire on planes on port side.
1316 Planes sighted coming in on our port beam. They did not attack. Control identified them as SOC and TBF.
1316 Other ships fired on above. Gun 4 fired 2 rounds at these planes before he could be stopped.
1316 Plane dog-fight overhead to port.
1319 Changed speed to 25 knots.
1319 Two aviators in the water bearing 285 degrees T, 9,000 yards. U.S.S. SCHROEDER ordered to pick them up.
1327 Changed course to 095 degrees T.
1329 Two planes on our starboard quarter, TBF's.
1330 CA38 (U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO) opened fire on planes on starboard quarter.
1340 Small bogey bearing 020 degrees T, 12 miles. CAP investigating.
1346 Took station on starboard bow of formation for second phase in compliance with orders of CDD 50.
1346 Sighted AK west of Peale Island burning fiercely, out of our range. Estimate 2000 tons.
1347 Much debris on water just ahead, probably SOC shot down at 1310.
1347 CIC reported: Large Bogey bearing 125 degrees T 47 miles, course 305 degrees T, speed 180 knots, probably from the Marshall Islands.
1351 SCHROEDER ahead dead in water recovering SOC pilot and rear seat man.
1353 Large Bogey bearing 125 degrees T, 35 miles coming in.
1355 Wake Island broad on port bow, 15,000 yards, Cruisers firing on Island.
1356 Received Tallyho from our planes bearing 125 degrees T, 30 miles.
1357 Other destroyers opened fire at Island
1402 SIGSBEE opened fire on Peacock Point at shore batteries.
1411 Shells just passed over us landing 30 yards of starboard beam. Bridge force heard it whistle.
1419 Cease firing 325 rounds 5" ammunition expended.
1425 Cruisers maintaining fire while retiring.
1442 Changed course to 062 degrees T.
1445 Received orders to rendezvous with (submarine) U.S.S. SKATE to take a wounded man and then rejoin.
1446 Changed speed to 28 knots. Changed course to 230 degrees T.
1503 Changed course to 270 degrees T, proceeding South of Island at 8 miles speed 35 knots.
1530 Approaching rendezvous with SKATE. Periscope search on SG radar, rigorous visual search.
1536 Changed course to 324 degrees T.
1540 Slowed. Commenced calling SKATE on QCL.
1541 Arrived at rendezvous, 10 miles West of Wake Island
1542 Circling rendezvous at 18 knots, on radius one mile.
1551 Started calling SKATE on 4235 kcs.
1555 Large Bogey bearing 152 degrees T, 60 miles closing rapidly.
1557 Changed speed to 35 knots.
1559 Bogies bearing 150 degrees T, 54 miles and closing
1559 Changed speed to 36.5 knots.
1602 Estimated altitude of Bogies 8,000 feet.
1604 Attempted to report Bogies to MINNEAPOLIS by VHF and TBS.
1609 Tallyho from fighters on the bogey.
1613 Changed course to 065 degrees T, swinging around the North side of Wake Island to effect a rendezvous with our Task Group.
1626 Discontinued calling SKATE on 4235 kcs. No success by any means in contacting SKATE.
* Read excerpts from the SKATES war patrol off Wake Is. by clicking hyperlink below: http://www.subvets.com/subleague/articles/skate.html
1628 Bogey bearing 165 degrees T, 16 miles.
1630 Bogey appears to be circling bearing 175 degrees T, 15 miles over Wake Island.
1637 Sent message to chicken circling over Wake that a Bogey was over Island, apparently in preparation for landing.
1700 Report from VHF says one group of our chickens shot down 2 Zeros and 3 Betty's.
1713 Surface contact reported by SG radar, bearing 038 degrees T, range 29,500 yards. Single ship.
1755 Changed course to 130 degrees t, to close surface contact, which developed to be RINGGOLD.
1805 Task Group bearing 064 degrees T, 33,400 yards.
1946 Rejoined Task Group 14.13.
Interesting excerpts taken from written report submitted by SIGSBEE
Comments on Bombardment: About 1241 commenced firing at shore battery on Peacock Point, salvo master-key fire, interval four seconds, director control in train, range finder ranges, stable element control in elevation, direct spotting, initial range 13,500 yards, decreasing to 12,200. Fire slowed to deliberate after Gunnery Officer reported direct hit on dual-purpose gun. Expended 235 rounds of 5"/38 AA Common. Attempt was made to experiment with fuse setting in bombardment on two salvos; the first burst 300 feet in air over beach upon application of UP 4 mils, decreased to UP 2 mils and next salvo burst about 75 feet in air. Spotting throughout was optical, FD having too many land and plane pips to range or spot.
Other Gunnery Comments: About 1250 Bogies were reported on starboard beam. Ceased firing, shifted to air set-up. Sighted two Zekes distance about 19,000 yards making climbing turn away, own fighters in pursuit. Returned to shore bombardment.
About 1300, expended two rounds of 5"/38 Common from Gun #4 at TBF making low run near MINNEAPOLIS. Gun captain saw plane in his sector making an apparent torpedo run, saw all other ships firing. He followed doctrine and opened fie, after reporting over J P circuit. He used open sight, local control, estimated fuse range, fuse setting of seven seconds. Fortunately, he did not hit.
The ready racks located in the gun mounts are unsatisfactory. All guns reported the projectiles from these racks jarring out on deck disturbing the loading in all cases, and in two cases bruising the shell men's feet.
Conclusions and Recommendations: Fighter Direction and fighter action left nothing to be desired. On several occasions, this ship was all prepared to open up on enemy planes, when they were expeditiously finished off or chased off by the alert F6F's.
Bombardment of Wake Island: A). Three major fires started in Peacock Point Area. B). Shore battery on Peacock Point silenced. C). No fire from any shore batteries on SIGSBEE's run to the Westward to rendezvous with SKATE. D). One small 2000 AK demolished. It is not known whether this was accomplished by planes or CL's. E). One minor ammunition dump burned as a result of SIGSBEE fire. Very few rounds fell into water.
It was noted with great satisfaction that C.I.C. performed with skill and smoothness. It was of great assistance in making this overall picture much clearer to the Commanding Officer, CIC is considered qualified to direct fighter interception.
The Commanding Officer has nothing but praise for the conduct of the officers and men of the SIGSBEE. This vessel has been fortunate in having had the opportunity to fire a considerable number of gunnery practices since arrival in the Pacific Area. As a result of these recent practices, the gunnery department has reached a high state of training. However, the ship had never been in action before and with few exceptions, personnel had not previously been under fire. it was therefore very reassuring to note the calm and efficient behavior of all hands while under fire, particularly in view of the fact that quite a few salvos landed near the ship.
B.V Russell, Commanding Officer
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