War’s End Approaching

Sea Stories

Hitachi Intelligence Photo

Hitachi Intelligence Photo

“July 7 and 8, 1945 – We join the fleet! Up early this morning-go topside on deck to view a breathtaking panorama; around us, as far as the naked eye can see are some 50 warships….Word is flying about that we’re heading up to Japan for a mess of air strikes and bombardments. Wonder what it’ll be like being under bonzai attacks? Feelings are surprisingly nonchalant.

July 10 – We’re in battle formation, screening our carriers…which are launching planes. We’re less than 150 miles off Tokyo. Report no opposition – expected but didn’t get any.

July 11 – Early G.Q., around 2:30 AM. Still no Bonzais. Where in [ ] is the Japanese air force?

July 13 – Up at 2:45 AM. 2-1/2 hours sleep. G.Q. at 3:10 AM. We’re on air defense till noon. Strike called off-weather too rough-planes grounded to the flat tops. Ships weaving like granddad after a rough day in a saloon!”

-Frank Seesock, Electrician’s Mate 1/c, diary entries

July 12, 1945

Chart indicating Hitachi

Chart indicating Hitachi

“We are now 450 miles from north of Tokyo and the temperature topside is 69 degrees, which is darn cold after being in that warm climate. The information was passed this evening that Task Force 38 will strike between the island of Hokkaido and Honshu. The raid will be carried over the period of two days against airfields and factories. This is the first time that any U.S. force has struck in this area.”

-Bill Fleishman, Fireman 1/c, diary entries

“On July 9th and 10th (1945) we [fleet] kept up continuous attacks on the home islands [Japan]. We were very much surprised by the lack of opposition. No enemy air attacks at all even though we announced our presence by running lights at night and no radio silence. On July 17th we [BB55] made a bombardment on Hitachi Industrial Complex (60 miles from Tokyo). The bombardment was made at night. This is what we’ve waited two years to do. We can go home now. We’ve done it all out here. The rest will be repetition.”

-Lloyd Glick, Musician 2/c

“The most satisfying action I remember was when we bombarded the Japanese mainland. I felt that this was a payback for all the lives lost at Pearl Harbor and in the rest of the Pacific war. It was raining that night (July 17) and I was angry because my spotting scope in the fire control tower was fogged up and I wanted to see the damage….”

-James Masie, Fire Controlman 2/c


July 16, 1945

“We are just a few miles from the coast of Japan and it really is cold. We have been making air strikes the last few days and bombarded two days ago. The NORTH CAROLINA did not go in then but we are going in tomorrow night. Maybe we will have some fun.”

-Donald Ayers, Baker 3/c, diary entry


July 17, 1945

“We commenced bombarding at 2320 this evening. While we were bombing they were broadcasting it back in the states. There was no return fire from the beach. Our closest penetration was six miles and the weather was very foggy. The mainland was not visible. We shot 30 nine-gun salvos. Bogies penetrated within six miles and then went back out.”

-Bill Fleishman, Fireman 1/c, diary entry

Damage on Hitachi

Damage on Hitachi

“Our final bombardment of the war took place on July 17, 1945. We, along with three other battleships and some smaller ships, conducted the first shore bombardment of the war against the Home Islands of Japan. Our target was the Hitachi steel works on Honshu. Our commanders were uncertain as to what opposition would develop, so the plan was to bombard after nightfall at extreme range for our protection. The bombardment job was up to the main battery while our task in the secondary battery was to repel torpedo boat or air attacks that might be launched against us.

We were edgy about operating so close to the Japanese homeland. Admiral Halsey was confident and authorized for the first time a live radio broadcast by a CBS correspondent from [Halsey’s] flagship IOWA describing the action to the folks back home. We were able to get Radio Central to pipe the broadcast to our speakers in Plot so that we could follow the action.”

-Captain Tracy Wilder, USN (Ret.)