U.S.S. Allen M. Sumner DD-692
Commander Destroyer Division 120 Action Report

CDD120/A16
Serial 02

COMMANDER DESTROYER DIVISION ONE-TWENTY
c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California

C O N F I D E N T I A L 15 January 1945.

From:

Commander Destroyer Division ONE-TWENTY.
To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet.
Via: (1) Commander Destroyer Squadron SIXTY.
(2) Commander Task Unit 77.2.1 (ComBatDiv 3).
(3) Commander Task Group 77.2 (ComBatRon 1).
(4) Commander Task Force 78 (Commander Seventh Amphibious Force).
(5) Commander Task Force 77 (Commander Luzon Attack Force).
(6) Commander SEVENTH Fleet.
(7) Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet.

Subject:

Comdesdiv 120 Action Report - Support of the LUZON landing operation, 2-13 February 1945.

Reference:

(a) PacFlt ltr. 2CL-44..
(b) CANF SWPA Operation Plan No. 17-44.
(c) CTG 77.2 Operation Plan No. 3-44.
(d) CTF 78 Operation Plan No. 103-44.
(e) CTG 77.2.1 Combatdiv 3 Operation Plan No. 5-44.
(f) Combatdiv 3 Sortie and rendezvous ltr. ser. 0041 of 31 December 1944.
(g) Comdesron SIXTY screening instruction ltr. ser. 0017 of 31 December 1944.

     1.     This report is made without attempting correlation of the individual action reports of the ships in this division due to the number of individual ship assignments and the fact that CDS 60 has directed all ships in the squadron to submit action reports covering this operation directly to him. It is assumed that the correlation will be made by CDS60 and this report therefor covers the actions in which the Division Commander and the ships under his command at various times participated. In order to eliminate paper work, the navigational track, detailed DRT tracks and TBS Log are not duplicated here. They are included in the action report of USS ALLEN M. SUMNER, division flagship.


PART I - NARRATIVE


     1.     The LUZON operation (designated Mike One) was designed to transport, protect, land and support troops in order to seize, occupy, and develop the LINGAYEN area of Central LUZON. It was under the command of Vice Admiral T. C. KINCAID, USN, Commander Naval Forces, Southwest Pacific Area.

     2.     Task Group 77.2, under command of Vice Admiral J. B. OLDENDORF, USN, Commander Battleship Squadron One, was the Bombardment and Fire Support Group composed of two units, 77.2.1, SAN FABIAN Fire Support Unit, and 77.2.2, LINGAYEN Fire Support. 77.2.1, SAN FABIAN Fire Support Unit under Rear Admiral WEYLER, USN, Commander Battleship Division Three in USS NEW MEXICO. NEW MEXICO, WEST VIRGINIA, MISSISSIPPI, MINNEAPOLIS, HMAS AUSTRALIA, HMAS SHROPSHIRE, DesRon SIXTY - BARTON (Comdesron 60, Captain W. L. FRESEMAN, USN), WALKE, LAFFEY, O'BRIEN, A. M. SUMNER (Comdesdiv 120, Comdr. J. C. ZAHM, USN), MOALE, INGRAHAM, LOWRY, plus HMAS ARUNTA and HMAS WARRAMUNGA (DDs.), APDs RATHBURNE (Comtransdiv 101 (Temp.) Lt. Comdr. MURPHY), HUMPHREYS, CLEMSON, DICKERSON, and BLESSMAN.

     3.     CDD120 in USS ALLEN M. SUMNER departed from San Pedro Bay, Leyte, P. I., at 2322 2 January 1945 and sortied with DesRon 60 in company with other ships present of TG 77.2; formed cruising disposition in Leyte Gulf, and on the morning of the third rendezvoused with TG 77.4 (Escort Carrier Group) and the rest of TG 77.2 (Bombardment and Fire Support Group). Two circular dispositions were formed, both including units from each task group, and at an interval of three miles, the two formations proceeded via Surigao Strait, Mindanao Sea, Sulu Sea, and Mindoro Strait en route to Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, P. I. 3 January was Sugar minus six (S-6) day.

            The first air attack came shortly after sunset on 3 January. One plane dove at and missed HMAS SHROPSHIRE and others were driven off by AA fire. The next attack was at 0325, 4 January (S-5) with no observed results. During daylight, CAP was furnished by the CVE's in the formation. Again, on the 4th, shortly before sunset, enemy planes attacked both formations. The OMMANEY BAY (CVE) was hit by a suicide plane and had to be abandoned and sunk by torpedoes. Enemy planes again attacked about 0300 on the 5th with no results.

            On the afternoon of the 5th (S-4) two enemy destroyers were reported ahead of the formation and air attacks against them were launched. A heavy series of air attacks on both formations began at about 1600 when we were due West of Subic Bay and continued until about 1930. During this period the HMAS AUSTRALIA, HMAS ARUNTA, LOUISVILLE, MANILA BAY and STAFFORD were all hit by enemy suicide planes. Most of the attacks were low-level and coming out of the West.

           At 0500 on S-3 day, Task Groups 77.4 and 77.2 separated and 77.2 moved into Lingayen Gulf for shore bombardment. Task Group 77.2 then divided into 77.2.1 and 77.2.2, Unit 77.2.1 proceeding toward San Fernando for the bombardment of Poro Point. At 1024, on direction of CTG 77.2, CDD120 in the A. M. SUMNER temporarily assumed command of the Minesweeper Support Unit as CTU 77.2.9 in place of CDS60 in the BARTON.  (The BARTON was effecting repairs to the main battery director). The SUMNER and WALKE left Task Unit 77.2.1 and proceeded to separate stations with the minesweepers near the eastern beach. At 1201 four ZEKES attacked the WALKE simultaneously. The first two were shot down, the third crashed and exploded on the port side of the signal bridge, and the fourth was shot down. The WALKE lost the Captain and fourteen others killed as a result of the crash, and sustained considerable damage. At 1159 the SUMNER was attacked from starboard and the plane was driven off by AA fire. At 1201, with a plane threatening attack on the port quarter, another enemy plane came out of the sun on the port bow and strafed and dove on the SUMNER, crashing through the rigging and number two stack and exploding on the after torpedo mount. Fourteen men were killed and twenty-nine wounded. Mount 3 of the main battery, and 40mm Mount 43 and its director were temporarily out of commission; two 20mm guns, and torpedo mount 2 were demolished; Mount 3 magazine had to be flooded and fighting the fire around the large hole in the main deck had flooded a living compartment. As a result, the INGRAHAM was ordered to relieve the SUMNER, and the O'BRIEN to relieve the WALKE. SUMNER and WALKE joined TU 77.2.1 which was bombarding Poro Point. CDS60 in the BARTON shortly relieved the INGRAHAM and became CTU 77.2.9, CDD120 becoming ComScreen of TU 77.2.1. The screen consisted of Desron 60 (less O'BRIEN and BARTON) and five APDs. There were numerous suicide plane attacks during the rest of the day. At 1429 the O'BRIEN was hit on the port side aft by a suicide palne and suffered considerable damage, thereupon being relieved of minesweeper support duties and rejoining the 77.2.1 screen. The LOWRY was strafed, the NEW MEXICO was hit, and HMAS AUSTRALIA was hit for the second time. Several Jap planes were splashed.

            Bombardment was continued during the afternoon, the heavy ships of both task units being in column with 77.2.1 to the northward. At dark 77.2 formed a circular disposition and retired from the Gulf. At dark SUMNER and WALKE transferred casualties to the WEST VIRGINIA and MINNEAPOLIS respectively before joining the formation. CDS 56 was ComScreen in the absence of CDS 60 (the BARTON remaining with the minesweepers). CDD 120, by direction of ComScreen, assigned stations and exercised control of the 77.2.1 ships which were stationed on the forward semi-circle of the formation.

           On the 7th (S-2), the task group again split into 77.2.1 and 77.2.2, CDD 120 taking charge of the point one screen. The heavy ships of TU 77.2.1 conducted shore bombardment in the vicinity of Santo Tomas with the screening ships forming a line to seaward. At 1400 the whole task group took station off the landing beaches, point one in the San Fabian area, and point two in the Lingayen area and at 1445 commenced shore bombardment to support the Underwater Demolition Teams. After half an hour of bombardment by all ships, the UDT teams moved in, the ships closed to within 2000 to 4000 yards from the beach and the bombardment was continued until the UDT teams were back aboard at 1740. There was little fire from the beach. About sunset, during the retirement out of the Gulf, the suicide planes again attacked, but without success.

           The SUMNER and MOALE had been assigned night harassing duties as TU 77.2.3 (CTU 77.2.3 CDD 120) in the San Fernando and San Fabian areas, but, because of SUMNER's damage, the LOWRY was substituted for the SUMNER. MOALE and LOWRY carried out their assignment without interference and rejoined the task group during the night.

           In the morning of S-1 day (8 January) TU 77.2.1 again moved in toward the beaches for the heavy ships to conduct shore bombardment. CDD 120 was still ComScreen. There were several air attacks shortly after dawn, HMAS AUSTRALIA being hit for the third time by a suicide which dove steeply, then leveled off, hit the water, smoking, bounced and crashed into the AUSTRALIA's side. The heavy ships were again screened to seaward during the bombardment, by DesRon 60 (less BARTON) and the five APD's. The SUMNER had lost a large percentage of fuel by contamination as a result of the hit and fueled alongside the NEW MEXICO from 1130 to 1318.

           A minesweeper near San Fabian beach called for fire support and CDD 120 sent the LOWRY on that mission. The INGRAHAM was assigned as escort for the HMAS AUSTRALIA as she left TU 77.2.1 and joined 77.2.2. At 1545 TU 77.2.1 proceeded toward San Fernando for further bombardment at Poro Point and was joined at 1740 by CDS 60 in the BARTON, whose minesweeper support duties had been completed. CDS 60 relieved CDD 120 as ComScreen. TU 77.2.1 proceeded to carry out the Poro Point bombardment and then joined TU 77.2.2 in the Gulf.

            The INGRAHAM and O'BRIEN were scheduled for night harassing fire for the night of S-1, but because of the damage to the O'BRIEN, on CDD 120's recommendation, CTU 77.2.1 assigned the LAFFEY in place of the O'BRIEN. INGRAHAM and LAFFEY carried out the assignment and rejoined the task group during the night.

            Task Group 77.2 formed a circular screen and remained in Lingayen Gulf during the night, taking station ahead of the assault force as it moved into the Gulf in the morning.

            At 0630 on 9 January (S day) all of the ships of Task Group 77.2 were in position, lying off the San Fabian and Lingayen beaches. The huge assault force was moving in behind them when the heavies commenced their shore bombardment at 0700. By 0900 the assault forces were in position to launch their first waves and all of the ships of the Bombardment and Fire Support Group took up the bombardment, pouring a tremendous volume of fire into the beaches. At 0930 the beach bombardment ceased and the first waves of the assault troops reached the shore. It was reported that the landings were successful and that little opposition was encountered.

            The ships of TG 77.2 remained in station off the beaches for the rest of the day furnishing called fire when required. At 1305, two Jap planes came in low from the Southwest. One strafed a Higgins boat, missed an AK with a bomb and clipped the top of HMAS AUSTRALIA's forward stack. This was the fourth time the AUSTRALIA had been hit by a suicide plane in five days. The other Jap crashed on the MISSISSIPPI.

           At 1715 the SUMNER received orders from CTG 77.2 to report to CTF 79 off the Lingayen beach and was directed to remain in that area. The WALKE and O'BRIEN received similar orders. There was an air attack from 1825 to 1925 and the planes were apparently driven off by the heavy AA fire. The first returning convoy left shortly after sunset. It was reported during the night that several small enemy boats were in the transport area and that explosives were being thrown from them onto the ships. One small boat was reported sunk by gunfire. During the next day several Japs were discovered swimming in the water with explosives strapped to their backs.

            There was a dawn air attack on the 10th, during which two enemy planes were soon shot down. SUMNER, WALKE, and O'BRIEN stayed in the Lingayen beach area screening the anchored ships and awaiting orders. WALKE and O'BRIEN fueled from AGCs and, at 1600, CDD 120 received orders from the CTF 79 assigning him as ComScreen for a convoy of large ships departing for Leyte at 1800. Thirteen ships were assigned to the screen, but beside the SUMNER, O'BRIEN, and WALKE, only five reported to CDD 120 in spite of continuous and repeated calls. It was later reported that the missing five ships had sailed for Leyte on the previous evening. The eight ships, consisteing of the SUMNER, WALKE, O'BRIEN (all three damaged) MMAS GASCOYNE (PF), the destroyer LANG, DE PEIFFER, DMS SOUTHARD, and APD BLESSMAN, were stationed in a circular screen around the column of transports departing from the Lingayen transport area and stood out into the Gulf. The regular evening air attack lasted from 1902 to 1920 during which the APA DUPAGE was hit and the SUMNER shot down on Jap plane. The DUPAGE was in the group of transports standing out from the San Fabian transport area, which we were proceeding to join. At 2040 Task Unit 79.14.2 was completely formed consisting of 17 APAs, 2 KAs, 2 LSDs and 1 AKA in four columns, and the eight screening ships in a circular screen. CTU 79.14.2 was Commodore RICHARDSON, USN, in APA CAVALIER. At 0128 three APAs were detached and directed to return to Lingayen Gulf. The LANG and SOUTHARD were assigned to escort the returning APAs. This left 19 large ships screened by the three destroyers, the GASCOYNE, one DE, and one APD. The BLESSMAN (APD) whose sound gear was out of commission, was stationed 2000 yards astern of the center of the convoy, and the SUMNER, GASCOYNE, and PEIFFER were assigned stations 1, 2, and 3, respectively, of an eight ship screen in circle 3, using the center of the first line of large ships as the fleet center. The WALKE and O'BRIEN were assigned stations 5 and 6 on circle 4, the APA formation being 3000 yards wide. Several Lingayen-bound formations were passed during the night.

            After departure of the LANG, which had been designated Fighter Director ship, the O'BRIEN was assigned this duty. Shortly after dawn CAP arrived and were put on patrol and later two ASP planes reported. The O'BRIEN gave an outstanding performance of fighter direction during the rest of the trip to Leyte.

            At 1053 on 11 January the WALKE reported a firm sound contact on the starboard side of the formation which she attacked twice. The contact was lost after the second attack, and no results were observed. The ASP had been directed to search the area of the contact, but reported results negative. WALKE rejoined the screen.

     Several bogies were reported during the day, but were all either chased by CAP or proved to be friendly. At 1620 our CAP (From CVE KITKUN BAY) left to return to base.

            The DE NICKEL, and DD FOOTE joined the screen at 0300. O'BRIEN and WALKE were moved up to stations 3.5208 and 3.5080 respectively while the NICKEL and FOOTE were assigned stations 4250 and 4110. At 0540 the NICKEL and FOOTE received orders and were detached to escort a damaged submarine which was 100 miles to the northward. O'BRIEN and WALKE resumed previous stations.

           No CAP was assigned to the convoy until late in the afternoon of the 12th, but the O'BRIEN found some unattached Army CAP planes and persuaded them and their reliefs to give us cover until shortly before sunset. Several bogies were reported shortly after sunset but none approached close to the formation.

            The remainder of the trip to Leyte Gulf was uneventful. The FOOTE and NICKEL rejoined at 0245 on the 13th, and the screen was rearranged as before. CAP cover arrived at sunrise. At 1134, HMAS GASCOYNE was detached at point CAY to proceed to GUIUAN, her destination.

            The convoy arrived in Leyte Gulf in the afternoon of the 13th. The FOOTE, NICKEL, PEIFFER, and BLESSMAN remained in TU 79.14.2 while the SUMNER, WALKE, and O'BRIEN reported to Commander Philippine Sea Frontier.


PART II - CHRONOLOGICAL ACCOUNT


     2 January 1945 (S-7 day)

2322   CDD 120 in ALLEN M. SUMNER departed San Pedro Bay, Leyte, P. I., in company with Desron 60 and other ships present of TG 77.2, and sortied into Leyte Gulf in accordance with sortie plan, reference (e).

     3 January 1945 (S-6 day)

0258   Formed cruising disposition 4RW with 21 ship circular screen around large ships, cruising in Leyte Gulf to rendezvous with the rest of TG 77.2, and TG 77.4.

0400   Contacted TG 77.4 and the rest of TG 77.2 entering Leyte Gulf.

0700   TG 77.4 and TG 77.2 commenced forming cruising disposition 4RO consisting of two circular formations, three miles apart; DDs of TU 77.2.1 forming 17 ship circular screen for van goup; formations proceeding South into Surigao Strait.

1051   Cruising disposition 4RO formed, CVEs of 77.4 and heavy ships of 77.2 distributed equally between van and rear groups, CALIFORNIA guide of van group; Vice Admiral OLDENDORF in CALIFORNIA, OTC of van group.

1525   Passed Camiguin Island abeam to port, distant 10 miles, passing through Mindanao Sea. Route passes through Sulu Sea, Mindoro Strait, and South China Sea.

1840   Carriers completed recovery of aircraft.

1900   First enemy air contact. AA fire observed.

1910   SHROPSHIRE in van group reported a plane dived at her and missed.

1912   Enemy plane driven off by AA fire from van group.

2122   Passed Siquijor Island abeam to starboard, distant 12 miles.

     4 January 1945 (S-5 day)

0043   Bogey contact 228, 12 miles.

0210   Changed course to 330.

0247   Bogey contact 240, 18 miles.

0325   Bogey contact 040, 12 miles and 098, 7 miles.

0336   AA fire from both van and rear groups.

0647   Carriers completed launching planes.

0648   Bogey contact 060, 11 miles.

0834   Changed course to North.

1115   CAP intercepted enemy planes 30 miles Northwest of formation.

1227   Bogey contact 030, 13 miles.

1434   Fishing stakes noted during MINDORO operation again reported as periscope.

1705   Carriers recovering planes.

1717   Enemy planes over van and rear groups; heavy AA fire.

1718   Sighted large explosion, later identified as OMMANEY BAY which was hit by suicide plane.

1754   Enemy planes over van group; heavy AA fire.

1819   Heavy AA fire observed from rear group.

1905   Formed cruising disposition 4RN (night version of 4RO).

1957   Observed heavy explosion bearing 165, 15 miles. It was reported that OMMANEY BAY, having been abandoned, was sunk by our torpedoes.

2000   Entering Mindoro Strait.

2310   Destroyers with survivors from OMMANEY BAY commenced transferring them to larger ships.

2348   Observed AA fire bearing 333.

     5 January 1945 (S-4 day)

0235   Bogey contact 240, 11 miles.

0245   Bogey contact 165, 9 miles.

0305   Bogey contact.

0320   Sighted flares apparently dropped by plane.

0329   Observed AA fire from both groups.

0353   Bogey contact 050, 5 miles.

0610   Enemy plane reported 357, 20 miles.

0645   Carriers commenced launching planes.

0713   Passed Cape Calavite, Mindoro, abeam to starboard, distant 24 miles.

0739   CTG 77.4 assumed tactical command of van group.

0823   Bogey contact reported.

1039   Passed Lubang Island abeam to starboard, distant 30 miles.

1047   CAP reported splashing one JUDY.

1450   CAP reported two enemy destroyers 60 miles ahead of the formations.

1545   Carriers launched planes for strike on enemy destroyers.

1602   Second strike launched.

1610   Bogey contact.

1652   AA firing in rear group, low-flying enemy plane reported.

1705   AA fire from rear group.

1709   Plane reported coming in from Southeast.

1714   Two low-flying enemy planes came into van group between screen stations 6 and 4. One crashed on the ARUNTA in station 6, the other, though hit and burning, crashed into the LOUISVILLE and exploded. (See note in Comments re this attack.). ARUNTA lost steering control and dropped out of station. INGRAHAM ordered to stand by the ARUNTA. Screen equalized.

1735   IZARD, in station 4, reported that one of the enemy destroyers was now 15 miles ahead, bearing 029.

1740   VAL sighted by SUMNER at 137, 12 miles.

1747   Enemy planes attacking rear group, heavy AA fire, one VAL reported splashed.

1750   AUSTRALIA in van group hit by suicide plane. STAFFORD (DE) in rear group hit by suicide plane.

1751   SUMNER sighted 4 enemy planes bearing 250.

1753   MANILA BAY in rear group reported hit by suicide plane.

1838   BARTON, WALKE, and MOALE escorted SHROPSHIRE to rear group and took stations in rear group screen.

1908   Sighted a plane as it burst into flames and splashed, bearing 040, 12 miles.

1918   AA firing at 020, about 12 miles.

1925   Observed AA fire at 020 about 12 miles.

1930   Heavy AA fire from part of the van group.

2000   SUMNER, LAFFEY, and O'BRIEN proceeding to stations in rear group 13 ship circular screen. (There was considerable shifting of ships between van and rear groups to separate the two task groups).

     6 January 1945 (S-3 day)

0130   BARTON reports casualty to main battery director.

0242   Enemy planes, 135, 20 miles.

0250   Enemy planes intercepted by friendly.

0253   Enemy plane, 155, 7 miles, closing.

0255   AA firing, 165, 5 miles.

0257   Enemy plane, 165, 7 miles, opening.

0310   Enemy plane, 207, 8 miles.

0315   Enemy plane dropped float lights, 120, 6 miles.

0448   Enemy plane at 160, closing.

0500   TG 77.4 and TG 77.2 separated off entrance to Lingayen Gulf, TG 77.2 proceeding toward Gulf. TG 77.2 then divided into TU 77.2.1 and TU 77.2.2; ARUNTA and WARRAMUNGA shifting from 77.2.1 to 72.2.2. The Lingayen Bombardment and Fire Support Unit (TU 77.2.2) was to bombard Santiago Island, and the San Fabian Unit (TU 77.2.1) to bombard Poro Point. Screen of TU 77.2.1 on circle 7.

0554   Observed AA fire bearing 170.

0738   North of Cape Bolinao entering Lingayen Gulf wit San Fabian Unit, unidentified plane over formation.

0843   Screen closed in to circle 5.

0915   Because of casualty to BARTON's main battery director, CTG 77.2 ordered CDD120 to take temporary command of CTU 77.2.9, the Minesweeping Supprt Unit, in place of CDS60.

0930   Shipping reported in San Fernando harbor.

1005   Heavy ships of San Fabian Unit launched spotting planes.

1024   CDD120 ordered as CTU 77.2.9 to take SUMNER and WALKE and proceed to separate assigned stations to support minesweepers who were off the eastern beach.

1030   Contacted CTG 77.6 (Minesweeping Group) for information as to swept channels and to proceed to assigned area which was near the southeast corner of the Gulf.

1052   SUMNER contacted minesweepers in assigned area Depressor, obtained information and proceeded toward entrance to swept channel. Heavy ships of San Fabian Unit, steaming off San Fernando, opened fire on assigned shore bombardment targets.

1104   Received report that minesweepers were being fired on.

1115   WALKE proceeding toward assigned station.

1120   Enemy plane attacked bombardment ships and was driven off by heavy AA fire.

1135   Low-flying enemy plane sighted, bearing 135.

1138   SUMNER reached point IRK and entered swept channel, course 115.

1148   Shell from beach passed over Australian cruiser and landed 1500 yards from SUMNER.

1153   Sighted explosion at 200, 15 miles. Probably in Lingayen Unit area.

1158   Enemy plane headed for SUMNER sighted off starboard quarter. Speed increased to 25 knots, maneuvering radically and putting up heavy AA fire from all guns which would bear.

1200   Plane threatening SUMNER turned away. Ceased firing. Another plane threatening attack from the port quarter.

1201   Enemy plane came out of the sun on port bow, strafed and dove on the SUMNER crashing through rigging, hitting No. 2 stack and exploding on the after torpedo mount. Subsequent reports showed following casualties and damage: 14 killed, 29 wounded; No. 3 Mount and Mount 44 temporarily out of commission, two 20mm guns and after torpedo mount demolished; fire in No. 3 magazine necessitating flooding, eight foot hole in main deck at frame 158, and compartment 203 full of water, oil, and debris, degaussing out, and 40,000 gallons of fuel lost or contaminated, WALKE (to southward of SUMNER) attacked simultaneously by four ZEKES. WALKE shot down first and second, the third crashed on the port side of the signal bridge, and the fourth was shot down. The WALKE's damage (from subsequent report): Captain and fourteen others dead; numerous wounded, bridge damaged, gyro out, SC radar out, nearly all radios out.

1220   Three planes sighted close to the water at 270, 10 miles.

1220   INGRAHAM ordered to relieve SUMNER.

1233   SUMNER sighted two men in the water off port bow. INGRAHAM, arriving as relief, picked them up and SUMNER joined bombardment groups taking station in A/S screen #53 at south end of column of heavies. (See appendix 1 of Annex ABLE of reference (c)).

1240   Received word that the WALKE had been hit.

1247   Heavy ships still steaming in column off Poro Point conducting shore bombardment. CDS60 in BARTON at CTU 77.2.9 relieved INGRAHAM in support of minesweepers. CDD120 became ComScreen of TU 77.2.1, BARTON remaining with minesweepers until afternoon of S-1 day. WALKE, having been relieved by the O'BRIEN, rejoined the San Fabian Unit screen consisted of Desron 60 less BARTON and O'BRIEN plus five APDs.

1429   The O'BRIEN was hit by a suicide plane on the port side, aft of Mount 3. No casualties occurred but considerable damage resulted and several compartments were flooded. O'BRIEN directed to cease minesweeper support duties and rejoin the 77.2.1 screen.

1435   Three enemy planes reported bearing 075, 10 miles.

1436   Formation under attack by three JUDYs. Heavy AA fire was thrown up by the formation with no observed results.

1515   TU 77.2.1, with heavies still in column, having completed the bombardment of Poro Point, took position astern of the Lingayen Unit column which had completed its assigned bombardment. The San Fabian Unit screening ships were stationed on either side of the column abreast of the spaces between the heavy ships in order to furnish close AA support yet not foul the range for the heavy ships. The formation proceeded South into Lingayen Gulf for further shore bombardment by the large ships.

1620   SUMNER sighted two Jap planes bearing 215.

1622   Formation putting heavy AA fire at plane coming in low. Jap splashed.

1628   Three planes reported coming in out of the sun.

1630   Minesweepers reported results so far negative.

1720   A suicide plane crashed on the NEW MEXICO.

1725   A VAL reported at 105, distance 10 miles.

1728   Formation under attack by several planes; putting up heavy AA fire.

1731   AUSTRALIA reported being hit by a suicide plane putting all heavy AA guns out of action.

1733   Three planes sighted 060, 6 miles.

1737   Enemy plane coming in low at 160.

1741   Plane at 300, 6 miles.

1752   Formation firing on VALs drove them off.

1755   JUDY reported at 270, 11 miles.

1800   Formation firing on low-flying Jap plane which was splashed.

1803   Another Jap plane driven off by formation's AA fire.

1830   A Jap plane dove in a steep dive at the SHROPSHIRE. The SHROPSHIRE fired about 20 rounds and the plane's wings came off, the fuselage splashing close aboard the SHROPSHIRE. Two parachutes were observed opening just as the wings came off the plane. It was reported that one parachute carried what appeared to be a package, possibly a mine.

1852   Bombardment completed, the heavy ships commenced recovering spotting planes. The DDs were ordered to screen individual heavy ships while they were recovering planes.

1855   SUMNER went alongside WEST VIRGINIA, and WALKE alongside MINNEAPOLIS to transfer wounded. This was a difficult exercise in the dark.

1900   TU 77.2.1 and 77.2.2 joining and forming formation 4RO1. CDS 56 was ComScreen and directed CDD120 to assign San Fabian Unit DDs and APDs to stations 1 to 12 in the 23 ship screen and to detail ships to screen the WEST VIRGINIA and MINNEAPLOIS while the SUMNER and WALKE were alongside. INGRAHAM and MOALE were directed to screen the MINNNEAPOLIS, and LAFFEY and O'BRIEN the WEST VIRGINIA. The five APDs were distributed between the destroyers in the stations in the forward semi-circle of the screen.

1920   SUMNER alongside WEST VIRGINIA transferring 11 casualties.

2100   SUMNER completed transfer of casualties; proceeding to take station number 1 in 5RO1 screen, LAFFEY and O'BRIEN screening WEST VIRGINIA as she overtook the formation.

2210   SUMNER on station number 1. CDS56 in the LEUTZE directed CDD120 to exercise control over the ships in the forward semicircle of the screen. The formation retired from Lingayen Gulf for the night, LAFFEY, O'BRIEN, WALKE, MOALE, and INGRAHAM took assigned stations in the screen.

     7 January 1945 (S-2 day)

0645   Approaching Lingayen Gulf.

0725   TG 77.2 split into Lingayen and San Fabian Units; San Fabian Unit forming column on course 160, with screen close along sides and at the end of the column for AA support.

0850   Entered Lingayen Gulf to conduct shore bombardment in San Fabian area.

0915   The SUMNER conducted burial services for 13 men.

0945   The screen was stationed to seaward of the column of heavy ships as formation approached target area, - DDs along the column 1000 yards out and the APDs forming a second screen outside the DDs. CTG 77.2.1 had directed that screening be to seaward.

1012   Heavy ships launched spotting planes.

1105   Heavy ships on individual stations commenced shore bombardment, DDs screening heavies to seaward.

1415   All ships proceeding to assigned stations for fire support of UDTs, DDs screening heavies en route.

1440   All ships on station. Lingayen Unit off Lingayen beaches, and San Fabian Unit off San Fabian beaches.

1445   Ships opened fire on assigned targets on beaches.

1515   Destroyers moving in to stations about 2500 yards from beaches to furnish close fire support, bombardment continuing. Landing craft and small boats closing in towards beaches.

1530   Swimmers in water approaching beaches.

1645   Swimmers recovered and on the way back to landing craft. UDT operation apparently successful. Bombardment ships firing on targets of opportunity. There was very little fire observed from the beaches.

1740   Commenced withdrawal from bombardment positions, DDs screening individual heavy ships en route to join the Lingayen Unit and form disposition 5RO1. CDD120 as CTU 77.2.3 (San Fabian Harassing Unit) had recommended substitution of the LOWRY for the SUMNER in the night harassing assignment because of SUMNER's damage. CTU 77.2.1 directed the LOWRY be substituted. The MOALE and LOWRY stayed with the formation until dark and then proceeded on the assigned mission.

1905   Cruising disposition 5RO1 formed on retirement course; screen assignments, with minor variations, the same as preceding night.

1915   Air attacks began and lasted about twenty minutes - the formation putting up intense AA fire with no observed results. Two bombs were dropped, one near LOWRY and one near SUMNER, - no damage.

1957   On retirement course out of Lingayen Gulf, AA fire was observed to the westward. Retired and cruised outside the Gulf during the night.

     8 January 1945 (S-1 day)

0457   Moale and LOWRY rejoined formation taking stations in the screen. They had carried out their missions without interference.

0510   AA fire observed to the southward.

0610   Lingayen and San Fabian Units separated. The San Fabian Unit DDs and APDs formed a screen on circle 3 around the heavy ships proceeding into Lingayen Gulf for further shore bombardment.

0644   Formation fired on attacking enemy plane without observed results.

0718   A plane was hit by AA fire and splashed near the center of the formation.

0730   SUMNER sighted pilot in the water and proceeded to pick him up.

0734   An enemy plane made a steep dive toward the AUSTRALIA from the port quarter through heavy AA fire. The plane leveled off into a shallow glide at about 200 feet, hit the water, skipped and crashed into the AUSTRALIA, exploding. This was the third time that the AUSTRALIA had been hit by a suicide plane.

0743   SUMNER rescued Navy FM pilot from CVE HOGGATT BAY.

0805   Heavy ships in column on course 160, - DDs screening 1500 yards to seaward of heavies for AA support with APDs forming A/S screen at ends of the column.

0819   Heavy ships on stations commenced shore bombardment of east coast of Lingayen Gulf, DDs and APDs screening to seaward.

1050   SUMNER left screening station to fuel from NEW MEXICO in center of Lingayen Gulf. Rescued pilot was transferred to New Mexico during fueling. O'BRIEN in charge of screen during absence of CDD120.

1230   On recommendation of CDD120, LAFFEY was ordered substituted for O'BRIEN for night harassing duties on account of O'BRIEN's damaged condition.

1344   SUMNER back on screening station.

1445   INGRAHAM directed to screen AUSTRALIA proceeding to join TU 72.2.2 off Lingayen beaches and to stay with that unit until dark and then proceed on night harassing assignment.

1524   LOWRY directed to proceed to area PIG to give fire support to minesweepers.

1545   Bombardment completed, San Fabian Unit formed disposition 7VW on signal of CTU and proceeded toward Poro Point. APDs were ordered by the CTU to join the Lingayen Unit.

1635   Changed formation to 4CW, screening column of heavy ships.

1740   CDS 60 rejoined and relieved CDD120 as ComScreen.

1745   Heavy ships in column bombarding San Fernando and Poro Point, screen 1000 yards to seaward.

1841   Bombardment completed, formed 4CW and proceeded to rejoin TU 72.2.2 in Lingayen Gulf.

1850   LOWRY returned from fire support mission and took station in the screen.

1856   Sighted AA firing from the direction of the Lingayen Unit.

1932   The LAFFEY left the screen on assigned night harassing mission.

2100   TU 77.2.1 joining 77.2.2 and forming cruising disposition 5RO1. The Task Group remained in the Gulf for the night. The LAFFEY and INGRAHAM rejoined the formation and took stations in the screen having carried out the harassing mission without interference.

     9 January 1945 (S day)

0410   Task Group 77.2, preceding the assault forces into Lingayen Gulf, separated into Lingayen and San Fabian Units.

0500   Individual ships preceding to assigned shore bombardment positions.

0545   Ships in San Fabian and Lingayen Units firing on planes.

0630   Ships on stations for initial shore bombardment; the assault forces moving in to seaward of the bombardment ships.

0700   Assigned ships (mostly heavies) commenced shore bombardment.

0710   CTU 77.2 ordered CTU 77.2.1 to report to CTF 78, Vice Admiral BARBEY, Commander San Fabian Attack Force, for duty. San Fabian Bombardment and Fire Support Group became a part of San Fabian Attack Force.

0719   Landing craft began assembling between the bombardment ships and the beach and moving in.

0747   Enemy plane over the Lingayen Beach transport area. On Jap was splashed by AA fire.

0750   Suicide plane dove and crashed on the COLUMBIA in Lingayen Beach area.

0845   Bombardment ships moving to close-in stations. Assault craft heading for the beach.

0900   All Fire Support ships commenced bombardment of assigned targets.

0930   H hour. Bombardment of beaches ceased and heavies shifted to other targets. The first waves of assault troops hit the beach.

0942   It was reported that there was no opposition on the beaches. A steady stream of assault boats was proceeding to the beaches.

1002   The destroyer JENKINS reported that she had been hit by fire from a shore battery which she had then silenced.

1303   Two Jap suicide planes came in from the southeast. One crashed on the MISSISSIPPI. The other strafed a Higgins boat, missed an AK with a bomb and clipped the forward stack of the AUSTRALIA. This was the fourth time in five days that the AUSTRALIA had been hit by a suicide plane.

1400   The heavies continued intermittent bombardment, and other ships responded to calls from SFCPs. Landing craft moved in to the beach while the destroyers screened for AA support.

1715   SUMNER, WALKE, and O'BRIEN received orders from CTG 77.2 to report to CTF 79. CTF 79 ordered the three ships to remain in the vicinity of the Lingayen Beach transport area.

1825   SUMNER sighted a VAL bearing 230. Ships in transport area commenced making smoke.

1856   Heavy AA fire on enemy plane over Lingayen Beach transport area continued intermittently until 1925.

2003   Jap plane shot down by two well-directed streams of 40mm.

2145   SUMNER, WALKE, and O'BRIEN maneuvering slowly in transport area. Enemy firing star shells at irregular intervals during the night from the eastern shore of the Gulf.

     10 January 1945

0445   Enemy torpedo boats were reported in the transport area. It was also reported that an LST and AP had been hit by torpedoes, and another ship hit by a heavy charge thrown from a small boat.

0653   Enemy air attacks. Heavy AA fire and one Jap splashed.

0712   VAL sighted high over the transport area. Hit be heavy AA fire he tried to dive on a destroyer but missed.

1016   SUMNER, WALKE, and O'BRIEN steaming slowly in the transport area. It was reported that two men on a torpedo had been sighted.

1017   The BELKNAP reported picking up 2 Japs swimming in the water with explosives strapped to their backs. Additional reports of enemy swimmers were received and a search was made by several destroyers.

1400   WALKE and O'BRIEN fueled to 60 percent from AGCs in the transport area.

1600   CDD120 received orders from CTF79 to be ComScreen for convoy departing for Leyte at 1800. Thirteen ships assigned to screen but five of them were reported to have left the night before. Remaining eight ships ordered to rendezvous at 1800.

1707   AA fire observed in Lingayen transport area.

1735   SUMNER arrived at rendezvous point for screening ships.

1800   Screening ships SUMNER, O'BRIEN, WALKE, LANG, HMAS GASCOYNE, PEIFFER (DE), SOUTHARD (DMS), and BLESSMAN (APD), proceeding to form circular screen around column of 5 APAs leaving Lingayen Transport area to join others departing from San Fabian area.

1850   Screen formed around single column of APAs which now numbered 8, three more having joined.

1902   Observed AA fire bearing 305, distant 6 miles. Enemy planes reported overhead.

1903   Heavy AA fire from ships in formation. SUMNER shot down one VAL.

1912   Two planes reported, bearing 270.

1914   Heavy AA fire from Lingayen Transport area.

1917   Heavy AA fire from ships near entrance to Gulf.

1919   APA DUPAGE in group we were joining was hit by enemy plane.

1930   Preparing to join three columns of ships which were the rest of the convoy, - TU 79.14.2. Screen opening to form circle around all four columns. Convoy speed 12 knots.

1935   On order from CTU 79.14.2 (Commodore RICHARDSON in CAVALIER) the O'BRIEN was detached from the rear of the screen to search for survivors of the DUPAGE.

1944   Observed large explosion on horizon, bearing 010.

2000   O'BRIEN reported search negative, that other ships were rescuing survivors. O'BRIEN rejoining screen.

2040   Passing out of Lingayen Gulf, the main body of the convoy formed, - 4 columns - 17 APAs, 2 AKAs, 2 LSDs, and 1 KA. An 8 ship circular screen was formed, equally spaced on circle 3, SUMNER in station 1.

2125   Screen reformed: Ships in stations 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, on circle 3 with center of first line of large ships as fleet center, APD BLESSMAN in station 8 at rear of convoy, ships in stations 6 and 7 moving back to equalize spacing in after semicircle. Screen axis same as course. It was felt that an equally spaced circle could provide neither adequate AA nor A/s protection so screening ships were concentrated in forward semicircle to increase effectiveness of A/S screen.

2330   Passed Lingayen-bound convoy.

     11 January 1945

0128   Orders received by three APAs to return to Lingayen Gulf. CDD120 ordered to detach one large and one small ship from screen to escort returning APAs. LANG (DD399), and Southard (DMS 10) detached to act as escorts.

0130   Screen reformed: Stations 1, 2, and 3 remain the same, O'BRIEN and WALKE assigned stations 4 and 5 of 8 ship circular screen on circle 4. BLESSMAN, whose sound gear was out, remained in picket station 2000 yards astern of convoy. O'BRIEN designated fighter director ship. Passed Lingayen-bound convoy.

0730   CAP of three planes overhead, taken under control by O'BRIEN.

0900   Commenced zigzagging, plan #6.

0945   Ceased zigzagging to change base course to 175.

0953   Convoy slowed to 5 knots to permit transfer of passengers between large ships. Screen patrolled stations at 10 knots.

1030   Convoy speed increased to 14 knots.

1048   Resumed zigzagging, plan #6.

1053   WALKE left station to investigate sound contact on starboard beam of convoy.

1100   WALKE reported firm contact, that she was making a run and dropping charges.

1105   WALKE made second run and dropped charges. WALKE ordered to return to screen as soon convoy well clear of area of contact.

1135   WALKE reports contact lost after diligent search and she is rejoining screen.

1620   Our CAP (Navy) left to return to base, CVE KITKUN BAY.

1635   Ceased zigzagging to change base course to 147.

1700   Resumed zigzagging - plan #6.

1739   Ceased zigzagging.

2230   Contact on Lingayen-bound convoy.

2314   Passed Lingayen-bound convoy.

     12 January 1945

0150   Passed ILIN Island abeam to port, distant 12.5 miles.

0300   FOOTE (DD511), and NICKEL (DE587) joined formation. O'BRIEN and WALKE were moved up to stations 3.5208 and 3.5080 respectively, NICKEL and FOOTE taking stations 4250 and 4110.

0540   NICKEL and FOOTE received orders to join disabled submarine 100 miles to northward and left formation. WALKE and O'BRIEN resumed former stations.

1349   O'BRIEN as fighter director ship found CAP not on duty elsewhere and persuaded them to give us cover until just before sunset.

1817   Bogey reported, bearing 192, distant 45 miles.

1830   Bogey closed to nine miles, bearing 285.

1835   Bogey opening.

     13 January 1945

0245   NICKEL and FOOTE rejoined formation and screen reformed as before.

     No further action. Convoy arrived in Leyte Gulf and at 1209 began to break up to proceed to various anchorages.


PART III and IV


     Individual ships' action reports are not available as noted in paragraph 1, so no remarks are made in regard to ordnance performance and own battle damage.


PART V - COMMENT


     The continued success of Japanese suicide planes in achieving their goal presents the most critical problem of unit defense at the present time. The first step in solving this problem is, of course, alert, trained lookouts. Too frequently fire has been opened at ranges under 2000 yards.

     The Jap pilots appear to favor attacks on detached ships where fire power is less than can be brought to bear by a formation. It is suggested, therefor, that whenever possible, at least two ships be sent together on all detached missions in order to increase the AA fire power and provide a less attractive target than that of a single, unsupported unit.

     This same line of reasoning leads to consideration of tighter formation screens with screening ships drawn in so that a larger sector of the screen can bring fire power to bear on an attacking plane. In this connection, note that the Jap planes which hit the ARUNTA and LOUISVILLE were fired on only by the three destroyers in stations 4, 6, and 8, of the 17 ship screen. This was partially due to the fact that the attacking planes came in low and were not observed until fairly close, but the fact remains that screening ships within 45 degrees of the point of entrance into the screen, were too far away to fire automatic weapons and could not fire 5 inch without endangering other ships.

     It is believed that 1000 to 1500 yards between screening ships is ample for evasive maneuvering and, where possible, the distance between stations should not be greater than this during an air attack.

     It has been suggested that local control of 5 inch mounts on ships attacked by suicide planes might be more effective than full director control. This suggestion might be developed further by leaving one mount in director control and firing Mark 32 fuzed projectiles from the others in local control on the theory that the pattern would be greater and that one direct hit from a 5 inch gun would accomplish the purpose. The addition of Mark XIV sights for use in local control of the 5 inch mounts would further increase the effectiveness of such a plan.

     It is further suggested that 20mm guns have proven ineffective against determined suicide planes and that greater protection would be afforded by the substitution of either single or twin 40mm guns for the 20mm groups.

     The following named ships came under the operational control, for varying periods, of Commander Destroyer Division ONE-TWENTY during the time covered by this action report:

     HMAS GASCOYNE, USS SUMNER (DD692), MOALE (DD693), INGRAHAM (DD694), WALKE (DD723), O'BRIEN (DD725), LAFFEY (DD724), LOWRY (DD770), FOOTE (DD511), LANG (DD399), NICKEL (DE587), PEIFFER (DE588), SOUTHARD (DMS 10), RATHBURNE (APD25), HUMPHREYS (APD12), BLESSMAN (APD48), CLEMSON (APD31), DICKERSON (APD21).

     These ships while under the control or observation of the Division Commander, performed all their duties in an excellent manner.

     The officers and men of the WALKE are to be congratulated on the way in which they carried on and competently fulfilled all assignments despite the loss of the Captain and the service of five key officers and numerous bridge personnel, and serious damage to fire control and communications equipment.

     The O'BRIEN gave an outstanding performance of fighter direction on the trip back to Leyte, both in obtaining CAP and making the best possible use of the planes available.

     The casualties suffered by the SUMNER bring to over twenty-two the percentage of personnel casualties suffered by this division in the five weeks from 2 December 1944, through 6 January 1945. During that period one of the ships in the division was sunk, and two have been hit twice. Of the nine ships which constituted Destroyer Squadron SIXTY at the beginning of this period, only three have entirely escaped damage or casualties from enemy action.


J. C. ZAHM.