The Philippines--TAWI TAWI GROUP, MORO GULF
AIRFIELD SEIZED WITHOUT OPPOSITION
Troops of the 41st Division, U.S. Army landed on Sanga Sanga Island on the 2nd of April, 1945, in the Tawi Tawi Group southwest of Zamboanga and at the extreme southwestern end of the Sulu Archipelago. A bombardment of the beaches proceeded the landings and by 0900 three assault waves were ashore. There was no opposition and our troops quickly seized the airfield which was the primary objective of the invasion. Later in the day units of the division seized a beachhead on nearby Bongao Island
LST-829 AT IE SHIMA
and. on the 3rd, occupied Bongao town, against light resistance. Occupation of these two strategic islands, some 200 miles southwest of Zamboanga brought our forces within less than 50 miles of the northeastern tip of Borneo.
CGC SPENCER LEADS ATTACK
Early on the morning of 17 April, 1945 elements of the 10th Corps landed unopposed along the eastern shores of Moro Gulf. Troops of the 24th Division and other units of the 10th Corps were put ashore at Parang, about 15 miles north of Cotabato, after a preliminary bombardment of the beachhead by cruisers and destroyers. By midday our troops had advanced more than 5 miles south of Parang, still meeting light opposition. Meanwhile farther to the north, other units of the 24th Division landed, at Malabang. As the Amphibious force, of which the CGC Spencer served as flagship, approached Malabang, and a few minutes before the heavy naval bombardment of the beach and nearby airstrip was scheduled to begin, a small motor craft put out from shore. As she approached, the American ensign could be identified in the pre-dawn light. The craft was manned by native guerrillas and carried three U. S. Army fliers as passengers. They explained that the Japanese had fled the area and that the beachhead was unguarded. Troops of the 24th Army Division were landed and took up pursuit of the fleeting Japanese.
U.S. SHIPS AT BOMBARDMENT
Australian Army units landed on the islands of Tarakan and Sadau in Dutch East Borneo, about 185 miles southwest of Tawi Tawi on 30 April, in an amphibious operation supported by bombardments by Australian and American warships, which began shelling Tarakan on the 27th and were still at it on the 1st of May. The main landing was made on the southern coast of the Island of Tarakan, which has a good port and is an important oil-producing center. The landing was made near the town of Lingkas, two miles east of the island's airfield. Earlier in the day, Australian Commandos had gone ashore unopposed on Sadau, a small island lying between Borneo and Tarakan. The Borneo coast opposite the Island of Tarakan is swampy and there is no land connection between the two islands.
LST-67 AT TARAKAN
May 1st found the Coast Guard manned LST-67 anchored off Tarakan Island, Borneo with the original assault forces. Destroyers, gunboats, rocket ships, and mine sweepers came alongside to replenish their magazines and resume the devastating fire which made possible the steady advance of the attacking Australian forces. The LST-67 also acted as general logistics ship during the operation, furnishing dry stores, fuel, and fresh water to the various participating vessels.
COAST GUARD-MANNED LCI'S READIED FOR ACTION AGAINST THE JAPS
JAPANESE ARE DRIVEN TO THE HILLS
Units of the U.S. 24th Division, working overland from Parang had secured Kabacan, an important road junction in the center of the island of Mindanao, and moving
swiftly through the hills to the east had reached the west coast of Davao Gulf at Digos on the 27th of April. Here less than 30 miles southwest of Davao, they spread out along the coast, while units advancing to the north towards Davao reached the western outskirts of the city on the 1st of May. The same task force that had operated in the Moro Gulf, with CGC Spencer as flagship, swept around the southern tip of Mindanao and landed additional troops and material near Digos where the 24th Division troops had already cleared the beachhead of the enemy. The city of Davao was captured on the 4th of May by troops of this Division. Little opposition had been met as our troops seized airfields at Darong and Daliao, near the coast southwest of Davao, and at Padada, south of Digos. They had to overrun extensive minefields and other beach obstacles and had found an elaborate system of abandoned AA batteries below Davao, as well as coast defense installations with many guns intact. After crossing the Davao River on the 2nd of May, increasing resistance was met in the outskirts of Davao and house to house fighting developed as our forces drove the enemy from the city and into the hills. Davao's seaport, Santa Ana, was taken on the 3rd when Matina and Libby airfields were also secured. Heavy resistance was met in the foothills two miles to the northwest of Davao.
BRUNEI BAY--BRITISH BORNEO
U.S. SEVENTH FLEET UNITS SUPPORT AUSTRALIAN LANDING
After a three day bombardment by units of the U.S. Seventh Fleet and an Australian Squadron, troops of the Ninth Australian Division landed at four points in the Brunei Bay area of British Borneo. On the 10th of June negligible losses were suffered as the Australians went ashore at two points on Labuan Island, on Muara Island and at Cape Polompong on the southwestern shores of Brunei Bay. On Labuan they captured Victoria Town, secured the harbor, and overran a 4,300-foot airstrip. Muara was completely occupied in 48 hours. On the mainland they took the town of Brooketon and drove southward toward Brunei 13 miles distant. On the 12th a landing was made on the north shore of the Brunei River two miles east of Brunei. General Douglas MacArthur landed with the troops on Labuan. He pointed out that seizure of the Brunei Bay area would give us another base from which to intensify the blockade of the Japanese occupied regions of the Southwest Pacific and would enable us to strike at the enemy's overland communication routes in the Malay Peninsula and Indo-China. Brunei Bay offered 250 square miles of protected anchorage for vessels of any size and the area had important air bases and such strategic materials as oil, rubber, coal, lumber, and iron. On 17 June the Australians landed at Weston on the eastern shores of Brunei Bay and southern terminus of a 65-mile railway, longest in Borneo, which runs north to Jesselton. Two days later they landed at Mempakul on the northeast tip of the Bay. They had captured Brunei Town on the 13th and by the 16th had reached Tutong, 25 miles
COAST GUARD LST'S IN THE BALIKPAPAN INVASION CARRYING NOT ONLY TROOPS BUT ALSO HEAVY EQUIPMENT NECESSARY TO PUT THE OIL RICH REGION INTO OPERATING CONDITION SOON AFTER THE ASSAULT
to the southwest of Brunei, without making any contact with the enemy. The drive continued southwest toward the Seria and Miri oilfields and on the 23rd, 50 of the Seria oilfields were seized, most of which could be placed in production within a short time. The destruction of pipelines and storage tanks at Miri, on the other hand, precluded their rapid restoration to operation.
COAST GUARD AT BRUNEI BAY LANDING
On the morning of 10 June, 1945, the Spencer took her station as command ship for the staff of the 20th Australian Brigade about one mile from the mainland. Assigned mission of the 20th Brigade was to land troops on Red, White, and Yellow beaches, on the Southern side of the bay. Besides providing communications facilities for the 20th Brigade as her troops pushed on toward Brooketon, the Spencer acted as radar guard against Jap planes coming in near the mouth of the bay. Preparations had been well made for the landings, and the Spencer shifted anchorage farther inward by Yellow Beach when after two hours it became apparent that everything was going according to schedule at Red and White beaches. From 1000 on, the Spencer's personnel enjoyed fishing, once they were secured from battle stations. The situation remained peaceful until an hour before sunset when all hands went to the routine battle stations. About 30 minutes before sunset a station in the aircraft warning net reported a bogey. Spencer's plotting room dead reckoned the bogey until it appeared on the radar screen in a position that checked with the contact report. Lieut. Olen I. Kull, USNR, who was in radio contact with a P-61, Black Widow night-fighter in the vicinity, coached her on to the bogey. Over the air came the message "Now I see him straight down. I'm going in. Now I'll let him have it. That did it." And as the message came through the topside personnel of the Spencer saw a plane catch fire at 120 degrees relative, distant six miles, and plunge in flames to the ground near the bay. The 11th of June, the part of the invasion for which the Spencer's staff was responsible having been well established on land, the Spencer upped anchor and returned to the staging area,
AIR RAID WARNING FACILITY SITES
Landings were made by a reconnaissance battalion of U.S. troops on Kume Island, 50 miles west of Okinawa on the morning of 26 June, 1945, The landings were without opposition, all but 30 natives having fled to the hills. These reported that there were 40-50 Japanese military personnel on the island, possibly as service personnel for the airstrip, which was a rough, sandy runway used for emergency landings. Kume afforded an additional air raid warning facility site for U.S. positions and forces at Okinawa, Iheya Island, about 17 miles northwest of the northern tip of Okinawa's west coast, had been occupied without opposition by the Second Marines on 4 June and Aguni Island, 30 miles off Okinawa's west coast, was invaded and secured on the 9th, also without resistance. In addition to providing bases for radar installations, all three islands had possible airfield sites.
IMPORTANT OIL PORT CAPTURED
Infantry and armored units of the Australian Seventh Division landed east of the Klandasan district of the
oilport of Balikpapan, on the southeast coast of Borneo, on 1 July, 1945. The landings culminated three weeks of concentrated air assaults and a fortnight of naval bombardment. The troop met scattered small arms fire but little other early opposition. Opposition increased as the units advanced inland but by midafternoon they had taken Paramatta ridge in
the southern outskirts of the city overlooking the ruined and still burning oil refineries. On the 2nd and 3rd they captured the Sepinggan medium bomber field outside Balikpapan and pressed on toward Manggar fighter field, 12 miles to the northeast, on the coast road. 300 ships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet and Royal Netherlands Navy put the landing craft ashore. General Douglas MacArthur came ashore with the fourth wave of assault troops personally to direct the op ration. A ten foot anti-tank ditch and triple rows of barbed wire entanglements had to be penetrated before the troops could advance inland. The Japanese had been forced to abandon an elaborate network of pillboxes and tunnels behind the beach, but dual-purpose guns on the coast were manned and fought aggressively, though the enemy had lost most of their striking power because of constant pounding from allied planes and ships. Seventeen of twenty-eight known gun positions were knocked out by the 13th Air Force prior to the landings and 60 per cent of the town of Balikpapan had been leveled by air and naval attacks. Oil pipe lines paralleling the beach to be used as beach defenses, had never been fired because the tanks supplying them had been knocked out by the preparatory bombardment. In 18 days of intensive bombing prior to the landing 3,500 tons of bombs had been dropped on military installations in or near the city, while 1,250 tons of shells had been fired by naval vessels. By the 7th the infantry had driven to the northern edge of Balikpapan and crossed the Soember River against Japanese opposition. By the 9th the encirclement of the town was completed with the crossing of Balikpapan Bay on the 5th by Australian troops in landing craft and amphibious tanks supported by a bombardment by two American cruisers and four destroyers, to land near Penadjam point and by a landing by Dutch amphibious troops on the 9th at Djinabora on the north bank of the Riko River, 4 miles to the north. By the 18th of July advance units of the Seventh Australian Division had entered the oil field center and pumping station of Sambodja, 30 miles northeast of Balikpapan. The settlement was deserted except for two Japanese, who were killed. This placed the Australians in the middle of an oil producing area which was before the war, one of the richest sources of petroleum in the Netherlands East Indies. Although oil was pumped from Sambodja to Balikpapan for refining, much of the crude oil in this section could be used for fuel without refining. Like the Dutch, the Japanese attempted to destroy their oil stocks and equipment as they retreated and great fires were found roaring through the Sambodja field, which was the smallest of the three fields serving the Balikpapan refineries. The other two fields, about 30 miles north, at Louise and Moera-Angana had respectively double and triple the annual million barrel production of Sambodja. At the time of Japan's surrender on 14, August, 1945, the Australians were consolidating positions for a push into the latter two fields, where destruction was expected to be considerable lighter than at the Sambodja field or the Balikpapan refineries. Total enemy casualties in Borneo were reported on the 14th of August as 5,693 counted dead and 536 prisoners. Allied casualties were 436 killed, 1,460 wounded and 3 missing.
USS Samuel Chase (APA-26)
LST-67 AT BALIKPAPAN
On 17 June, 1945, the Coast Guard manned LST-67 departed Morotai to take part in the operations against Balikpapan. Anchoring in Tawi Tawi until the 22nd, the LST headed south with a destroyer as escort. She passed through the Macassar Straits June 23rd, a full week before the invasion forces, thus becoming the first LST through this historic pass. On "D" minus seven, June 24th, the 67 anchored in Balikpapan Bay. Ammunition was speedily transferred to cruisers and destroyers who were reducing enemy defenses to rubble. Shortly after the 67 was underway on the night of the 25th, Japanese torpedo planes evaded the air patrol. Accurate fire routed the attackers, however, one plane being hit repeatedly by the 67's guns as it circled in to port, finally crashing in flames a few hundred yards off the beam. The LST-67 returned to Tawi Tawi where additional ammunition was taken aboard. On June 29th she rendezvoused with the main convoy bound for the Balikpapan landing. Invasion day (1 July, 1945) found her again at anchor in Balikpapan Bay, supplying destroyers and support ships with explosives as they blasted a path for the troops engaged in the last major amphibious operation of the war. The LST's 66 and 168 also participated in this latter operation.
LANDINGS IN JAPAN
LST-789 AT YOKOSUKA AND KURE
After the surrender of Japan the Coast Guard manned LST-789 was assigned to carry one half of the 602 CBMU and NAB personnel together with their equipment and gear to Yokosuka, Japan. On 2b August, the LST anchored in Miyata Wan, Sagami Wan, off Yahagi, Honshu, Japan and proceeded to Tokyo Bay on the 30th, immediately beaching on the seaplane ramp at the airport at Yokosuka Naval Base. Unloading was completed on 2 September. They then retracted and anchored off the Yokosuka Breakwater. During the next b days they picked up 4 officers and 203 seamen for transportation to the United States and departed for Guam on the 10th. Again on the 26th of October they departed Leyte for Kure, Honshu, Japan with 4 officers and 145 men of the 731 Engineers and a cargo of motorized equipment. They arrived at Kure on 2 November and beached next day at the Hiro Airport. On the 9th they departed for Saipan.
USS SAMUEL CHASE AT YOKOHAMA CHASE
On 1 September, 1945, the Coast Guard manned USS Samuel Chase (AP-26) was anchored in the outer harbor at Cebu, P.I. At 0833 she was underway en route to Leyte Gulf where she anchored on the 2nd. A few hours later she was proceeding as unit of Task Group 33.3 en route to Japan. On the 3rd the ships zigzagged and exercised at tactical maneuvers. The Chase anchored in the outer breakwater area, Yokohama, Japan, at 1206 on 8 September, 1945, and next day moored at the starboard side of Berth No. 4, Customs Wharf, Yokohama, Japan, and commenced unloading cargo and debarking troops. By the 10th all cargo and personnel of the Americal Division, U.S. Army was disembarked. At 1520 on that day the Task Group was headed for Leyte Gulf, P.I. Again on the 25th of September the Chase was underway from Cebu, P.I. with 45 officers and 828 enlisted men of the 77th Division, U.S. Army and attached units, as a unit of the Hokkaido Transport Group.
COAST GUARDSMEN LAND AUSSIES IN BALIKPAPAN INVASION
LST-784 AT TOKYO
As soon as the war with Japan had ended on 14 August, 1945, the Coast Guard manned LST-784, found herself occupied in the roll-up movement of men and supplies from the Philippines to Japan. The first units carried were Counter-intelligence Corps, Metropolitan Unit, No. 80 and 7 officers and 84 men of the 196th Ordnance Company, together with 383 tons of organizational gear, rations, and vehicles. Under the tactical command of Commander, LST Flotilla 14, the LST-784, left Batagas on 6 September. She anchored in Tokyo Kaiwan on the 15th and unloaded on the 17th. A wind of typhoon intensity built up during the morning of the 18th, estimated to be blowing at 70 knots. A number of small boats broke free and were wrecked and one LST was driven onto the sea wall. The blow lasted all day. On the 20th, the 78b, set out for Manila. On the 8th of October she got underway again for Japan but put into Subic Bay for the night when a typhoon was supposed to pass close by. After a long, slow, rough-weathered trip she anchored in Tokyo Kaiwan on the 19th and the following day discharged a group of Army personnel to whom the life ashore had become more desirable than they would ever before have believed. On 29 October, she departed Tokyo for Saipan.
USS CAMBRIA AT NAGASAKI
On 17 September, 1945, as flagship of Temporary Squadron 12, composed of 21 ships, the USS Cambria (APA-36) left Saipan carrying Headquarters Company, 2nd Marine Division. As if in summation of all the landing the Cambria had made, she led her squadron through the narrow channel of Nagasaki Ko, into Japan itself. On the afternoon of the 23rd September, the Cambria wardroom was the scene of an impressive ceremony as the Japanese Governor of Nagasaki Prefective and the Acting Mayor of Nagasaki received instructions from Major General LeRoy B. Hunt, USMC, Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Division Occupational Forces. Through the porthole one could see the effective results of precision bombing in the wreckage of the Mitsubishi shipyards, and a little farther away, the almost unbelievable destruction of the second atomic bomb. From the Cambria could be seen results of action by all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, land, sea and air, together with scientific production, and the ultimate outcome---Capitulation.
LST-829 AT NAGASAKI
On 17 September the Coast Guard manned LST-829, in a large landing ship convoy, set cut from Saipan for Nagasaki with occupation troops of the 2nd Marine Division. Japan was first sighted at dawn on the 28th. It was a curious crew that lined the rails to get their first look at the country with which they had been at war for four years. The country side was green and more homelike from a distance than anything most of these men had seen in many months. As the ship proceeded into the large bay, it was plain that the damage was terrific. While at anchor in the outer harbor awaiting unloading orders, lookouts spotted several Japanese bodies floating in the water, apparently victims of the second atomic bomb. The smashed devastation of Nagasaki proper became visible when the LST-829 moored at the Custom House pier to unload. The stench was particularly unpleasant. Japanese waved strenuously, bowed and smiled, but no one was under any illusions as to how friendly they really were.
LST-788 BRINGS TROOPS
As a unit of the Southern Occupation Force, the Coast Guard manned LST-768 arrived at Nagasaki on 2b, September, TO JAPAN1945. Unloading of troops and cargo in Nagasaki harbor was completed the same day. She departed for Leyte on the 26th, On 13 October she departed Leyte and arriving at Davao on the 15th loaded elements of the 34th Infantry Division and 63rd Field Artillery, U.S. Army for Mitsuhama, Shikoku, Japan as a unit of the Central Occupation Group, Arriving on the 25th she unloaded on the beach without using the pontoon causeways and departed for Manila on the 29th,
LCI(L) GROUP 103 DESTROYS MINES AT WAKAYAMA
LCI(L) Group 103, consisted of LCI(L)'s 83, 84, 86, 88, 94, 96, 320, 323, 325, 332, 350, and LCI(M)-810. All except 332 and the LCI(M) were Coast Guard manned. These were engaged in mine destruction from 11 September, 1945, until 1 October, 1945, operating in conjunction with Navy mine sweeping units. During this period, a channel was cleared through Kii Suido to Wakayama Anchorage. A task group of hospital ships and supporting war ships then evacuated allied prisoners from camps in the area and allied occupation forces to garrison the Kobe-Osaka-Wakayama area were landed. During the period the Kii Suido moored minefield was swept to a depth of 200 feet and a total of 312 mines were definitely known to be sunk or exploded by the mine destruction vessels. Many additional mines were destroyed by the mine-sweepers or exploded in their gear. During the operation the following were regularly or occasionally assigned to operate with the destruction unit: PGM's 27 and 27 [sic], PCE(R)-860, LCI(M)'s 808, 819, and 1090, YMS-236 and 331 and AM's 162 and 220. These ships, collectively designated during operations as T.U. 52.6.7, operated with sweep units designated as T.U.'s 52.6.1, 52.6.2, 52.6.3, and 52.6.4.
The mission of the mine destruction vessels was to destroy promptly and completely all mines cut adrift by the four Navy mine sweep units. The main field consisted of 630 moored mines, reported by the Japanese to have been laid off the entrance to Kii Suido in three lines. Rifles, carbines, 30 calibre, 20 mm and 40 mm machine guns comprised the armament of the various ships, assigned destruction duties. An additional duty of the LCI's was to lay dan buoys to mark channels and swept areas. The normal disposition in operation with mine vessels in sweeping formation was for one destruction vessel to be abeam of one and astern of another sweeper. Thus there were approximately as many destruction vessels as sweepers. The following destruction vessels were assigned to the Sweep Units:
SWEEP UNIT DESTRUCTION UNITS T.U. 52.6.1 LCI's 83, 84, and 86 T.U. 52.6.2 LCI's 88, 94 and 96 T.U. 52.6.3 LCI's 320, 323, and 330 T.U. 52.6.4 LCI's 332, 325 and LCI(M)-810
Two types of enemy moored mines were encountered. In the main field near Kii Suido, the mines were approximately 48 inches in diameter with five horns six to eight inches in length. Inside Wakayama Wan, near Tomogoshima
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN JAPAN
Suido, the mines were smaller, approximately 40 inches in diameter, with four horns about three or four inches long. Except for the destructive typhoon which struck on the night of September 17-18, and the typhoon warnings of September 27-30, the weather did not seriously interfere with any of the sweeping operations. By the 27th of September the last of the mines which were obstructing the channel had been sunk and all drifting mines destroyed after visual search by the destruction vessels.
LST-768 IN "GUINEA PIG" RUNS
Having beached at Sasebo on 19 October, 1945, the Coast Guard manned LST-768 was assigned to CoMinPac and ordered to prepare for "Guinea Pig" operations. These are the first runs made over newly swept channels. Excess fuel was transferred to another LST, together with all ammunition, 20 mm and larger. The main engine controls were moved out of the engine room to the wheel house so that no men need be below in case a mine were struck. On 23 November, 1945, forty men of the crew were transferred temporarily in order to skeletonize the crew for the "Guinea Pig" runs and on the 26th the LST sailed for Iki Shima, Japan; then to Fukuoka on the 28th, where the runs were to be made. Here the crew was further skeletonized and together with LST-553 began to make the "Guinea Pig" runs. No men were allowed below and all hands wore life jackets. The runs were completed on 4 December, 1945, without damage, except for burning out one auxiliary engine for lack of lubrication. The fortitude, cooperation, and cheerfulness of the crew during this hazardous duty was a credit to the men of the ship and to the service.
Thus the fighting Coast Guard, manning its own and Navy vessels, went the whole, hard blood stained road from Guadalcanal to Tokyo. Men taught to save life now had to take it. But this did not prevent them from performing the many acts of mercy even in the midst of combat which so richly emblazon the Coast Guard tradition. In seeing it through they knew that they were but once more fighting the nation's battles as they had in all its wars. And for the Peace that follows and the manifold duties which it brings they will be "Always Ready."
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