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The Battle of Samar

An evening pause: For Veterans Day, a story about the men who in World War II risked their lives and died to make it possible for freedom to reign for the next three-quarters of a century.

Hat tip Mike Nelson. For a much longer and more detailed documentary describing this battle, go here.

Genesis cover

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  • John

    Where is task force thirty four the world wonders

  • Andrew M. Winter

    Technically: The Battle OFF Samar. As a burgeoning History Nerd in the early 70’s I encountered this historic battle in a book about World War II Pacific Naval Battles, the title of which I can’t remember. There was an entire chapter dedicated to this fight. That chapter was entitled “The Ordeal of Taffy Three”. That would be TF-3.

    I have ready dozens of accounts of this mess. What my take away is this.

    The Ordeal of Taffy Three, was when, first the US Navy, and eventually the entire US military industrial complex made the incredibly earth shattering discovery that “impossible” was merely a state of mind, that could be overcome with little more that hard work and persistence.

    That Japanese Task Force should have rolled right over TF-3, but couldn’t quite do it. Even mighty Yamato was put out of action in the first salvos by a steering gear hit from a torpedo fired from a US Destroyer or Destroyer Escort.

    The smoke screens laid down by the US Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts were so confusing to everybody that one Tin Can found itself having to take evasive action to keep from Colliding with the Japanese Battleship Kongo. They were so close that Kongo could not depress their guns low enough to engage the Destroyer. The Destroyer in question took the bridge of Kong under direct point blank fires, fled the scene, and escaped.

    Very few accounts can actually bring home the absolute insanity of the US Navy’s win. Even this account is rather bland, and has accounts of way too many torpedoes being used. The Taffies just didn’t have that many. They were ASW task forces and simple “trucks” ferrying new planes to the main fleets. I am concerned that this article does not credit Chickuma with being damaged by the sub gun on a carrier. The account I read did.

    Aircraft launched from “Taffies” 1, 2 AND three were not setup for anti shipping combat. The little Jeep Carriers of those three Task Forces were mostly armed for anti submarine warfare. While some torpedos were dropped there came a point where the Naval Aviators were dropping depth charges on the decks of Japanese Warships knowing that all they were doing was scaring the hell out them and making them “flinch”.

    Other aircraft that had no ordinance left were using their machine guns to distract the Japanese AA gunners, from the ones who had “stuff” to drop.

    One of the most amazing stories was the sinking of the Japanese Cruiser Chokai. A Japanese Cruiser flotilla got so close to the Jeep Carriers, actually sank the one, and a COOK on the bridge of another said KEEP IT UP! We’re sucking em into 40mm AA gun range.

    Well those jeep carriers were converted merchant hull. They all retained a low velocity high angle of fall 5″ Anti Submarine gun on the Fan Tail. One lucky shot came down near one of Chikuma torpedo batteries. It penetrated the deck without blowing out the battery, but it started a fire in the torpedo magazine.

    Chikuma “got away” but within a couple of days had to be scuttled from the damage caused. So one of the JEEP Carriers got credit for sinking a Japanese Cruiser with GUN fire. At least that was the account I read. I

    That battle was NUTZ. It is the kind of battle that confirms to the religious that “Divine Intervention” is a very real thing.

  • Mark

    Of potential interest: Author James Hornfischer documented the battle in his NY Times bestseller “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.”

    And a quote from the Commanding Officer of on of the other destroyers, the USS Samuel B. Roberts:

    “This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.”
    Commander Robert W. Copeland
    USS Samuel B. Roberts
    October 25th, 1944 Battle off Samar (Philippine Sea)

  • Jay

    You are correct, there is more to the events of Taffy-3 in the battle. One item that was not mentioned in the video was that the smaller U.S. ships were so close in and low, that the main batteries of the Yamato and cruisers could not fire at those low angles. Taffy-3 went with the old tactic of the ships of the line, side-to-side point blank range firing.
    I remember first watching it on History Channel, back when they showed history and not “Alien Pawn Shop Brokers” like it is now, and read about it in great detail from the book- “The Little Giants: U.S. Escort Carriers Against Japan”. I do recommend the book. I was surprised that most of the escort carriers were built on the Columbia River near Portland, Oregon. I wish one of those ships was preserved.

  • sippin_bourbon

    This is one of my favorite stories of recent military and naval history.

  • wayne

    The Battle of Samar
    Drachinifel (2019)

    “A serious problem in planning against American doctrine is that Americans don’t read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine.”

  • Dan

    Thanks for posting this. WW2 remembrance on veterans day seem cliche to younger people as it’s not part of their lives. I’m not a WW2 vet but I am a vet who appreciates the the sacrafice of a whole generation. The battle off Samar was part of a larger campaign, the battle of leyte Gulf. It was the largest naval engagement and involved heroic and desperate action. Other battles include Surigau and san Bernardino straits.
    And still to this day old fools continue to involve free people in unnecessary and costly wars as their personal gain will come with no sacrifice to themselves.

  • Jeff Wright

    The only time a carrier was sunk by deck guns—after Bull Halsey was drawn offsides by Ozawa’s hard count—as it were:
    Yamato’s 18 inch guns likely found their mark.

    Then too, I seem to remember hearing it had incendiary shells. Had Kurita pressed the attack, he might have caught MacArthur on the beach.

  • john hare

    @Jeff Actually the Scharnhorst sank a British carrier in June 1940.

    @Andrew One of my readings of many years ago suggested that the main problem for the Japanese was that they misidentified the ship types. In thinking they were firing against fleet carriers and heavies, they were using armor piercing instead of high explosive shells. The fuses on armor piercing didn’t react when not hitting armor on the jeeps and tin cans. High explosive properly fused for the ship type would have had a somewhat different effect.

    Also with proper identification (and second guessing by many historians) they should have gone straight for the transports and basically ignored any warships that were not directly in their path. It would have been suicidal anyway giving Oldendorf and Halsey time to return, but could have disrupted the landings.

  • Jeff Wright

    A beached Yamato would be a nice defacto fort…better than her actual end.

  • Icepilot

    As “wayne” indicates, for all things naval, Drachinifel is the place –

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