Monday, September 17, 2018

Military Monday -

On December 7th, the IJN destroyed the U.S. Battle Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Which in some ways, was a good thing. With all the battle wagons out of commission, Fletcher, Halsey, and Spruance were allowed to fight their carriers. And that is obviously good. The Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons, and Santa Cruz bear that out.

But, once the Japanese onslaught was blunted, we had to slog our way back across the Pacific. And where as the fast Iowas, North Carolinas, and South Dakotas could certainly keep pace with the CVBGs, those were in short supply. The Marines needed gun fire support. And the merchant ships would need close in protection.

Enter the Ghosts of Pearl Harbor. Of the eight battleships sank at Pearl, the Navy raised and returned to service six of them. The Arizona and Oklahoma being total losses.

And the Tennessee, Maryland, and Pennsylvania found themselves under the command of at the time VADM J.B. Oldendorf.

Now, for the duration of the war in the Pacific, battleships were pulled in and withdrawn from service with the shore bombardment forces. But, generally they were all old pre war ships.

And on the night of 25 October 1944, the old battlewagons exacted a measure of revenge for theirs sisters lost at Pearl.

The Southern Force, as commanded by Admiral Nishimura moved down the Surigao Strait in an attempt to crush the U.S. invasion force at Leyte Gulf.

After intrepid attacks by the American PT boat screen, the Japanese battleships made contact with the &th Fleet Support Force. In one of those defining moments in history, Oldendorf was able to "cross the T" of the Japanese fleet. The Allied victory was decisive. And was the last time battleships fought other battleships on the high seas.

As a kid, for whatever reason, the resurrections of the battleships from Pearl fascinated me. To this day I will angrily rant that the USS Nevada, as the only battleship to get under way on 7Dec41, should have led the fleet into Tokyo Bay.

And whereas the capitulation of the Japanese empire was formally held on the deck of an Iowa class ship named after the President's home state, one could make a case that post paid was put to the account of the IJN on 25Oct44, when old slow battleships commander by Admiral Oldendorf defeated them in a night surface action.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mack;

    I remember reading about Admiral Olendorf decisively beating the Japanese and "Crossing the T". Which is the goal of any admiral since Admiral Nelson and Trafalgar. This also put the myth of Japanese superiority on surface combat to rest.


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