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18 November 1944
PACIFIC FLEET CONFIDENTIAL NOTICE 36CN-44
1. Enclosed extracts from a report of landing operations at Guam are of interest in showing some of the many situations that confront a fire support ship and how one destroyer ably solved them.
C. H. McMorris
O. L. Thorne,
GUNNERY BULLETIN No. 5-44
A. Chronological Extracts
This vessel supported the landing of the First Provisional Marine Brigade on the Agat beaches of Guam, commencing at 0530 21 July 1944, until Orote Peninsula was secured, about 1800, July 29th. During this period the ship fired various call fires and neutralizing and harassing fire missions as detailed chronologically below, expending a total of 3546 rounds of 5"/38 AAC, 50 WP, 135 5"/38 common, 289 Star shells, and 3200 rounds of 40mm ammunition:
21 July 1944
22 July 1944
24 July 1944
27 July 1944
28 July 1944
29 July 1944
B. General Comments.
1. The decision to move in ahead of the landing assault waves as close to the beach as possible on the flank proved to be a fortunate move, as several enemy batteries took the ship under fire rather than the landing beaches and leading waves and thereby reduced our personnel losses on the landing beaches considerably. Also the control officer was able to locate several heretofore undisclosed batteries and destroy them with counter-battery fire. The Jap powder smoke was of blue color very similar to green wood smoke and was easily located except in very dense woods where it was often confused with wood smoke. The ship was straddled repeatedly but small amounts of maneuvering prevented any hits and there were no personnel casualties. This latter is believed largely due to the conscientious efforts of the officers to keep "sight-seers" clear of the engaged side.
2. The use of white phosphorous shells for spotting in dense foliage again proved very effective. The only difficulty being that with only fifty on board, they were soon expended after call fire was started.
3. CIC performed exceptionally well in furnishing ranges and bearings to the gun battery and in exercising control over exterior communications and generally keeping the commanding officer and gunnery officer informed of the situation. Grid charts were accurate and adequate.
4. This is the first time this ship has been engaged for such a length of time, and several items cropped up which were new. The condition watches are capable of furnishing night illumination and harassing fire so long as the volume of fire does not exceed two gun salvos. After strenuous operations, the crew experienced no trouble sleeping while the battery was firing.
5. The flashless powder creates an objectionable amount of burning debris which is a fire hazard with ventilation system in use, and the ship is unlivable when buttoned up for very long periods.
6. Feeding becomes quite a problem. The bakers could not turn out enough bread to feed entirely on sandwiches, and there was no suitable substitute.
7. The star shell illumination for front line observers presents a somewhat different problem than that for surface targets at sea. This ship used this procedure: determine point to be illuminated, determine point of observation, and put star burst on line through the two points and two thousand yards behind point to be observed (i.e. away from observer and at an altitude of twenty-five hundred feet). This procedure brought several favorable comments.
8. The silencing of enemy batteries in the area just to the east of Neye Island presented an interesting problem. These batteries were protected from seaward by the high outline of Neye Island, and were in caves which could be seen only when directly between Neye Island and Pelagi Rock very close to the surf. The problem was solved by putting the ship's bow within 50 yards of the surf and holding her there by jockeying the engines ahead and astern so as to keep the screws in deep water.
9. Two pinnacle reefs in the area added a further hazard. The sound chemical recorder with the gain turned well down proved effective for keeping off the reef and the pinnacles.
10. The range was so short that only pointer fire could be used. It was also found necessary to use the gun at the same approximate height as the target. The hours of practice spent in pointer and trainer control in manual operation which had looked so useless to the tyros paid long dividends. The Nips seemed to realize that they had a good thing here because they repeatedly remanned the area after it had been cleared.
11. The Island of Guam lends itself ideally to the performance of the Sugar George radar, and the performance of CIC in controlling night firing was well nigh miraculous.
12. Pre-operation briefing of radar operators on the topography at the objective paid dividends in that precise radar fixes were obtained smoothly from time of arrival until completion of operation. Further, condition watch teams were able to carry out this function during night illumination and harassing fire as ably as the general quarters crew.
13. Guard of three voice radio circuits (TBS, fire support Common, and shore fire control frequency) was kept by CIC. This is felt to be the maximum capable of being handled; even when, as in this operation, the TBS is providently reserved for urgent traffic only. Headsets were used with TBS and fire support common, and the shore fire control frequency was put on a speaker. The attention and efforts of the evaluation, radar officer, and all unoccupied hands were necessary to be able to receive our traffic on this badly overworked frequency. It is recommended that, when possible, each firing ship with shore control party be assigned a frequency which will not be shared with other units ashore (as tank groups), and which will be shared by a minimum number of other firing groups.
14. When firing at targets on hillsides, the rangefinder operator should have his independent elevation correction knob zeroized. If he doesn't he may possibly start ranging on a different target than the one the pointer and trainer are on.
15. If necessary to open fire while the ship is backing down, own ship's course (gyro reading plus 180°) and speed should be set manually in the computer.
16. In control of 40 mm guns with the mark 37 director, the Syn E knob should be kept out and the control officer should adjust fall of shot in range and/or elevation with the elevation spot knob. If there is time, fire only one 40 mm gun at a time for more accurate control, as there is no horizontal parallax compensation in this setup.
17. There were no personnel casualties. The performance of the officers and crew was marvelous. For practically eight consecutive days and nights we were either shooting, standing by to shoot, loading ammunition or fueling ship. Their only fear was that we would run out of ammunition, and have some other destroyer ordered to replace us. It was an inspiring performance.
Transcribed by RESEARCHER @ LARGE. Formatting & Comments Copyright R@L.
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