Chapter VIII


The Japanese Subdue Our Services' Differences

By early July it was obvious to all the planning staffs in Washington that the time had arrived when something had to be done to really stop the southward extension of island control and daily air reconnaissance by the Japanese. Both the Army and the Navy, at long last, were agreed that offensive air-sea-ground action was the answer. Cooperation by all hands, at all levels, might lack from practice, but did not lack from willing effort.1

While Rear Admiral Turner was at Pearl Harbor (5-8 July 1942) radio intelligence made it clear that Japanese forces would be found in some strength on Guadalcanal. If the Japanese after local reconnaissance had chosen Guadalcanal as the best place to build an airfield, and moved their Pioneer Forces there to do this essential chore, and antiaircraft units to protect the site, then Rear Admiral Turner knew the Navy and Marines' first priority task must be Guadalcanal.

Since the available amphibious forces in the South Pacific were not adequate to land at Ndeni in the Santa Cruz Islands and at the islands, Tulagi, Gavutu, Florida, and Guadalcanal, in the Solomons all at the same time, the decision was made at CINCPAC Headquarters to postpone the occupation of Ndeni, where the enemy was not, until Tulagi and Guadalcanal, where the enemy was, were in hand. This was considered to be within both the spirit and letter of the Joint Chiefs of Staff directives, which directed the seizure of Tulagi and "adjacent positions."

Planning for PESTILENCE

The receipt of COMINCH despatch 031905 of April 1942 to prepare for the execution of major amphibious operations had oriented CINCPAC's


planners toward offensive amphibious operations, in general, and particularly toward initiating these from the South Pacific and Southwest Pacific Areas. This planning assisted mightily in the development of a naval belief in the practicality of the over-all concept of PESTILENCE.

When Admiral Nimitz arrived back in Hawaii after his 23-24 April conference with Admiral King in San Francisco carrying the specific directive to COMSOPAC to "prepare to launch a major amphibious offensive against positions held by the Japanese," detailed staff studies were undertaken at CINCPAC Headquarters to carry out this broad task, starting in the Santa Cruz and lower Solomon Islands. These anticipatory staff studies together with subsequent CINCPAC and COMSOPAC lively actions, made possible the telescoping from three months to three weeks of the necessary operational planning at the amphibious level for the WATCHTOWER Operation. For four days, 5-8 July, the senior members of Rear Admiral Turner's staff, Linscott, Doyle, Weir and Harris, worked alongside members of CINCPAC staff in the CINCPAC Headquarters.

Kelly Turner at Tongatabu, Tonga Islands with
Brigadier General Benjamin C. Lockwood, AUS, and Commander Charles E. Olsen, USN,
bound for Guadalcanal, 12 July 1942.

Turner Collection


Fleet Admiral Nimitz, in recalling the occasion, said:

This was my first opportunity to work closely with Kelly Turner. I never served in the same ship or organization with Kelly Turner. He was in War Plans when I was Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, and I used to see him in Stark's office.

I once asked Kelly Turner: 'Could I look at our War Plans?'

He said: 'We will tell you what you need to know.'

As an aside, perhaps you would like to hear about my becoming CINCPAC [Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet].

On 16 December, Colonel Knox sent for me and asked: 'How soon can you travel? The President and I have just decided that you are going out to take command of the Pacific Fleet. I asked for Russell Wilson or Kelly Turner to be my Chief of Staff. Neither could be sprung. I decided it would be foolish of me to try to disrupt the Navy Department.

Our PB2Y plane almost capsized on trying to take off. Finally got off on 24 December and arrived Pearl on Christmas morning.2

Rear Admiral Turner could not actually issue any orders until he took command of the South Pacific Amphibious Force, but he had the attentive ear of those who could issue orders.

With every day counting, and with Rear Admiral Turner's impatience mounting as a hound dog's scenting the fox, the flight from Pearl Harbor to Auckland in northern New Zealand was interminable. Bad weather delayed the Patrol Wing Two plane a day in Canton and a day in Tongatabu, Tonga Islands. But Rear Admiral Turner, ever the busy bee and top notch staff officer and making one hundred percent use of the time available while at Tongatabu, went "thoroughly into the status of the construction projects, as regards completion." He sent off his opinion that "most of the work can be done within the next four months," in a detailed four-page report to Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, Chief of Staff to CINCPAC.3

Arrival at Auckland and reporting to Vice Admiral Ghormley did not take place until 15 July, a week out of Pearl, and four days later than Rear Admiral Turner had planned. The last leg had to be made via Fiji rather than direct because of a weather front.4

On Thursday, 16 July, after receiving a "Can do" from Rear Admiral Turner, COMSOPAC set the date for the landings as 7 August 1942.5

On Friday, 17 July 1942, Rear Admiral Turner flew south to Wellington,


New Zealand, and went aboard his flagship, the USS McCawley. Saturday morning he assumed command of Amphibious Force, South Pacific Force. The heat was on him, and he raised the operating temperature all around him, as he threw himself into detailed planning and last-minute training.

The South Pacific Amphibious Force

Rear Admiral Turner's amphibious command was the first balanced amphibious force assembled by the United States Navy in World War II. The backbone of its strength was a Marine Division, 13 transports, and five cargo ships. Temporarily assigned for the purpose of the particular operations ahead were two Marine Defense Battalions tailored for island occupation and defense, a Marine Barrage Balloon Squadron, four destroyer-type transports and five destroyer-type minesweepers.

Rear Admiral Turner viewed his own duties in the command as purely operational. Administrative command of the units of the force was vested by him in the following subordinate commanders: the Commanding General,


South Pacific Marine Provisional Corps, Major General Alexander A. Vandegrift, USMC; Commander Transport Divisions, South Pacific Force, Captain Lawrence F. Reifsnider, U.S. Navy (Class of 1910) and Commander Minesweeper Group, Commander William H. Hartt, U.S. Navy (Class of 1918). Commander Naval Bases, South Pacific, a direct subordinate of COMSOPAC, had not been named. This command not yet fully activated was to administer and train the Amphibious Force Boat Pool, initially to be located at Wellington. Commander Service Squadron, SOPACFOR, Captain Mark C. Bowman, U.S. Navy (Class of 1909) another direct subordinate of COMSOPAC was responsible for logistic support of the Amphibious Force, South Pacific.6

Transport Division Eight and Transport Division Ten were regularly assigned to Transport Divisions South Pacific Force. Transport Divisions Two and Twelve were temporarily assigned. The individual transport divisions were organized as follows:

Captain L. F. Reifsnider, U.S. Navy, Commanding (1910)

Captain Pat Buchanan, U.S. Navy, Division Commander (1911)

AP-9 USS Zeilin       Captain Pat Buchanan (1911)
AP-40 USS Crescent City       Captain I. N. Kiland (1917)


AP-39 USS President Hayes       Commander F. W. Benson (1917)
AP-38 USS President Adams       Commander C. W. Brewington (1917)
AP-37 USS President Jackson       Commander C. W. Weitzel (1917)
AK-26 USS Alhena       Commander C. B. Hunt (1919)
AK-28 USS Betelgeuse       Commander H. D. Power (1920)
Captain G. B. Ashe, U.S. Navy, Division Commander (1911)
AP-16 USS Neville (Flagship)       Captain C. A. Bailey (1911)
AP-14 USS Fuller       Captain P. S. Theiss (1912)
AP-12 USS Heywood       Captain H. B. Knowles (1917)
AP-13 USS George F. Elliott       Captain W. O. Bailey (1918)
AK-20 USS Bellatrix       Commander W. F. Dietrich (1917)
AK-22 USS Formalhaut       Commander J. D. Alvis (1918)
Captain L. F. Reifsnider, U.S. Navy, Division Commander (1910)
AP-10 USS McCawley (Force Flagship)       Captain C. P. McFeaters (1914)
AP-11 USS Barnett       Captain W. B. Phillips (1911)
AP-35 USS American Legion       Captain T. D. Warner (1919)
AP-27 USS Hunter Liggett (Flagship)       Commander L. W. Perkins, U.S. Coast Guard
AK-53 USS Libra       Commander W. B. Fletcher (1921)
Commander H. W. Hadley, Division Commander (1922)
APD-4 USS Little (Flagship)       Lieutenant Commander J. B. Loftberg (1927)
APD-5 USS McKean       Lieutenant Commander J. D. Sweeney (1926)
APD-3 USS Gregory       Lieutenant Commander H. Bauer (1927)
APD-2 USS Colhoun       Lieutenant Commander E. C. Loughead (1923)

It should be noted that Transport Division Two was shy a separately detailed division commander, and that Commander Transport Division Ten doubled in brass as Commander Transport Divisions.

The South Pacific Marine Provisional Corps had the First Marine Division regularly assigned. The First Division was organized around the 1st, 5th and 7th Regiments of Infantry and the 11th Regiment of Artillery. This division was without its 7th Marine Regiment reinforced, which was on base defense duty in Samoa. It was to receive from the Second Marine Division the 2nd Marine Regiment currently enroute from San Diego, and in addition the 251st Marine Observation Squadron.

The following Marine units were temporarily assigned to PHIBFORSOPAC:

1st Marine Raider Battalion - at Noumea, New Caledonia


3rd Marine Barrage Balloon Squadron

5th Marine Defense Battalion under orders to reinforce the 2nd Regiment upon its arrival from the East Coast

The 3rd Marine Defense Battalion, to sail from Pearl Harbor on 22 July in the Zeilin and Betelgeuse, was due to be assigned to PHIBFORSOPAC upon arrival.

The Flagship

The McCawley, named after the eighth Commandant of the Marine Corps, was a 13,000-ton, 17-knot diesel-engined merchant ship (SS Santa Barbara) designated AP-10 (later APA-4). She had been built by the Furness Ship Building Company in England in 1928. After purchase by the Navy Department from the Grace Steamship Line she was commissioned in the United States Navy in August 1940, after a 25-day "conversion" job. Needless to say, the McCawley's communication capabilities and staff accommodations were far from what the Solomon Islands' amphibious operations would show were needed in an amphibious flagship. At that time, she even lacked a regularly installed voice radio. But, based on the state of the amphibious art as it was known in June 1942, she was deemed adequate.7 Furthermore, the McCawley was available in the South Pacific, having carried Marine Observation Squadron 251 to Pago Pago, Samoa, in early May. That neither Rear Admiral Turner, nor the drafter of the letter designating the McCawley as flagship, nor Admiral King who signed it 7 June 1942, had any idea at that time that COMPHIBFORSOPAC would be landing at Guadalcanal only 61 days later, on 7 August, is indicated by the fact that the letter prescribed "Flag Allowances of publications, personnel, and material should be sent in time to arrive Wellington by 7 August 1942."

Her skipper, when Rear Admiral Turner broke his flag afloat for the first time, was Captain Charles P. McFeaters of the Class of 1913. The Executive Officer was Lieutenant Commander George K. G. Reilly. These two officers struggled constantly to meet the demanding requirements of a stern taskmaster and an eager beaver staff, but never quite made the grade.8 An


indication of how very busy they were is that no July or August 1942 War Diary for the ship survives in any of the depositories, and it seems probable it never was forwarded.

Although the 13,000-ton McCawley had been the Grace Line's passenger ship Santa Barbara for some years, and presumably had more than adequate living accommodations for any naval purpose, this did not prove the case. Staff officers of the rank of lieutenant commander were crowded together three in a room, and the more junior ship and communication officers were stacked up in bunk rooms. The McCawley, as one of the 13 transports designated for WATCHTOWER, had to carry her share of troops and the boats to land them. This task absorbed communication facilities needed by the Amphibious Commander.

Of the PHIBFORSOPAC Staff, only the aerologist filed a "satisfactory" report on the particular flagship facilities needed for his efficient functioning.9

Putting the Pieces Together

In his San Francisco Memorandum to CINCPAC, Rear Admiral Turner bluntly stated that "neither the troops, ships, nor aircraft assigned to this project are adequately trained in amphibious warfare." The Commanding General of the Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, had reported recently:

The state of readiness of the First Marine Aircraft Wing is such that it is considered imperative that steps be taken immediately to remedy the situation.

However, Rear Admiral Turner believed that "there is sufficient time to remedy training deficiencies provided corrective steps are taken at once."10 To initiate the corrective steps, he attached to his memorandum to CINCPAC a prospective training schedule. This schedule included landing Marines during an actual gun and air bombardment, conducted by the aircraft, heavy cruisers, and destroyers slated to support the initial landings and controlled by air controllers and shore fire control parties from these ships.


CINCPAC directed this to be done insofar as ship availability made it practicable.

As soon as Rear Admiral Turner reached Pearl on 5 July 1942, the despatches started to fly from CINCPAC Headquarters.

  1. The transport Heywood was directed to transfer the 1st Marine Raider Battalion from Tutuila, Samoa to Noumea, New Caledonia to arrive 10 July 1942.

  2. Transport Division Twelve (composed of four fast destroyer- type transports) was ordered to Tutuila, to arrive 15 July 1942. It was slated to embark the 1st Raider Battalion at Noumea.

  3. The Zeilin (AP-9) Flag of Transport Division Two, and the Betelgeuse (AK-28) of the same division, under orders to proceed to Pearl from San Diego, were ordered to sail from Pearl about 20 July 1942, to the South Pacific Area.

  4. Air and ground reconnaissance of the Fiji Islands by Marines of the First Division was directed for selection of an appropriate site for rehearsal of the prospective amphibious operations.

Prophets of Gloom

On the same day that Rear Admiral Turner was leaving Pearl for New Zealand (8 July 1942), full of zest for the difficult fight ahead, Vice Admiral Ghormley, his prospective area boss, was leaving New Zealand for Melbourne, Australia, under order from COMINCH and CINCPAC to confer with General MacArthur.

Vice Admiral Ghormley had no taste for the conference.

On account of early commencement of Task One and the great detail of planning necessary, will be accompanied by minimum officers and my stay must be as short as possible.11

Vice Admiral Ghormley and General MacArthur also had no taste for the operation, then scheduled to take place only three weeks later.

The two commanders are of the opinion, arrived at independently, and confirmed after discussion, that the initiation of the operation at this time without a reasonable assurance of adequate air coverage would be attended with the gravest risk. . . . surprise is now improbable. . . . successful


accomplishment is open to the gravest doubts. It is recommended that this operation be deferred.12

This gloomy and surprising despatch crossed one in which Admiral Nimitz told Vice Admiral Ghormley: "I have full confidence in your ability to carry this operation to a successful conclusion."13

Fortunately for Rear Admiral Turner's peace of mind during the next week, he did not see the pessimistic despatches until he arrived in Auckland, and by that time, General MacArthur's and Vice Admiral Ghormley's recommendation to their respective Chiefs of Service to defer the operation had been turned down, and the "Go" signal was resounding throughout the South Pacific.

At the same time that the tremendous difficulties of the WATCHTOWER Operation were being pinpointed to the Chiefs of Staff by two of the principal commanders concerned with its execution, the Imperial General Headquarters of the Japanese Navy was pulling in its horns and cancelling the Japanese plans to occupy strategic points in New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa. However, neither General MacArthur nor Vice Admiral Ghormley could have their hopes buoyed by this information, as the fact that the Japanese had cancelled out was not known to them until after the formal surrender of Japan.14

The pessimistic despatches of 8 July from General MacArthur and Vice Admiral Ghormley more than served a purpose in Army and Navy Headquarters at Washington. They caused the Army to get the Army Air Force to do what the Navy had been unsuccessful in pleading for it to do for many months, which was to increase markedly and soon the heavy bomber strength available in the South Pacific.

Vice Admiral Ghormley summarized the South Pacific air situation up to this time as follows:

On the feature of Army aircraft based in the South Pacific, the Planners were in complete disagreement. The Army wanted to supply a limited number of aircraft to be based in the South Pacific Area and depend entirely on reinforcements from Hawaii or the Southwest Pacific in order to strengthen


our heavy bomber force, so necessary in this area of great distances between bases. The Navy Planners' stand that these heavy and medium bombers should be based in the South Pacific ready for action was sound. This was later demonstrated many times. The reason for the Army Planners' refusal to agree to the Navy's proposition was doubtless based on shortage of suitable aircraft; however this shortage was probably due to the following causes:

It was the plan of the Chief of the Army Air Corps, General Arnold:

To hold the bulk of his heavy bomber strength at each end of the Pacific line, ready for concentration at any intermediate base. One heavy group, then assigned to Hawaii, would be available outside the Central Pacific on orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.16

During early July 1942, the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, had directed that the Hawaiian Mobile Air Force and the Australian Mobile Air Force be created. This took several weeks for the reluctant Army Air Force to implement. But, despite reluctance

by July 15th, the 19th Bombardment Group (H) had been designated as a mobile force in the Southwest Pacific and on the following day the 11th Group received its designation as Mobile Force, Central Pacific.

Four days later the 11th Group left Hickam Field for operations from Fiji, New Caledonia, Efate, and Espiritu Santo.17

The first B-17 from the Hawaiian Mobile Air Force (11th Group) landed on Espiritu Santo on 30 July 1942. However, the Australian Mobile Air Force was slow to gain its scheduled strength. It "was never called down [called over would be more accurate] as were the Hawaiian units."18

General Arnold's plan to hold the bulk of his heavy bomber strength at each end of the Pacific line was the one officially approved by the Joint Chiefs, but the Joint Chiefs implemented the plan by promptly ordering the Hawaiian Mobile Air Force to the South Pacific Area. This accomplished a fair share of the Navy's desire for more airplanes in the South Pacific Area, prior to the WATCHTOWER Operation.


The implementation of the Army Air Force plan in this manner did not mean that General Arnold had a change of opinion in regard to the desirability of increasing the land based air power in the South Pacific. As late as 29 July 1942, the Chief of the Army Air Forces was so little worried with the upcoming PESTILENCE operations that he strongly recommended that the nine heavy bombardment groups slated for the Southwest Pacific Area not be sent there until the requirements of the European Theater for the "modified BOLERO, " the build-up of United States forces and supplies in the United Kingdom for its cross-channel attack, and for TORCH, the Allied invasion of North Africa, were "completely implemented."19

In Command at Long Last

On the day that Rear Admiral Turner assumed command of the Amphibious Force South Pacific, the just published 174-page Operation Plan for WATCHTOWER from Commander South Pacific Force (No. 1-42 dated 16 July 1942) was flown in. This plan designated his command as "Task Force 62" for the WATCHTOWER Operation. The much shorter designation, TF 62, found greater favor and use than the longer administrative title, PHIBFORSOPAC.

During the four days between assuming command and sailing for the lower Solomons via the Fijis, where there would be a dress rehearsal, Rear Admiral Turner and his small staff ground out a large part of the 87-page Operation Plan (and its annexes) which were to govern in detail the first large- scale United States amphibious offensive operations of World War II. This was a large chore for a small staff inexperienced in amphibious warfare. It had to be driven through because radio silence would be an essential after sailing. Every word in it was checked and nit-picked by the Boss Man and a goodly share of the important parts written personally by him.20

Rear Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, Royal Navy, arrived in Wellington on 19 July with Task Force 44, "General MacArthur's Navy," consisting of three Australian cruisers, two U.S. Navy heavy cruisers and seven 1,500-ton U.S. destroyers, with two more U.S. destroyers soon to join.

Major General Alexander Archer Vandegrift, U.S. Marine Corps, Commanding General First Marine Division, and the "South Pacific Marine


Rear Admiral Turner with Major General Alexander Vandegrift, USMC,
on the Flag Bridge of USS
McCawley (APA-4), July-August 1942.
(NH 69107)

Provisional Corps" had been in New Zealand a month when Rear Admiral Turner arrived. He was tremendously helpful in the necessary orientation, and in having all ready a "Scheme of Maneuver" quite workable from the Navy's point of view.21 Transport Division Ten under Captain Reifsnider, at Auckland since 25 May 1942, had carried out much needed boat training while the Marine Corps gear was being unloaded from the transports and reloaded by the Marines specifically arranged for the WATCHTOWER combat operation.

The staff log of COMPHIBFORSOPAC, in the handwriting of the Chief of Staff, notes during this four-day period with monotonous regularity and marked simplicity:

All ships of Transport Group, South Pacific Force, in company, engaged in reloading and rearranging cargo on basis of projected operations [and] in embarkation of troops. As these processes completed, ships anchored in the harbor in succession.


Intelligence Chills

One of the first things that Rear Admiral Turner was told upon his arrival in Wellington, New Zealand, was that Tulagi had already been named in the local papers as a probable amphibious assault objective. This perturbed him.22

A Wellington daily newspaper, The Dominion, on 4 July 1942 carried a long story with a New York City dateline quoting Major George Fielding Eliot as having said in the New York Herald Tribune:

What is needed, is to drive the Japanese out of their positions and convert them to our own use. The only way to take positions such as Rabaul, Wake Island and Tulagi is to land troops to take physical possession of them.23

Observation of the amenities of military life seemed the best and simplest cover plan to disguise the imminence of the combat operation, if not its destination, so the Governor General of New Zealand, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Cyril Newall, E.C.B., O.M., G.C.M.B., C.B.E., kindly entertained the senior officers at dinner.

Despite the cover plan, on 21 July 1942, the day before sailing, Rear Admiral Turner, reported to the Area Commander, Vice Admiral Ghormley:

A very disturbing circumstance is that a lot of New Zealand civilians in the government service seem to know the general features of our plans. We are having this investigated, but believe the leak occurred in the New Zealand Intelligence Office, which the Marines consulted in order to obtain information.

However, in a happier mood, he said:

On the whole, I feel well satisfied with the plan, although there are one or two tough spots in it. I do not underestimate enemy reaction either in the air or on the surface. On the contrary, the arrangement of force proposed is designed to take care of these reactions as well as we can. I am trying to leave as little to chance as possible but since the operation has been decided upon, the best thing to do is to assume it will be successful and to push it through as rapidly as possible.24

Organization for WATCHTOWER

The command diagram in COMSOPAC's Operation Plan 1-42 for WATCHTOWER, dated 16 July 1942, was simplicity itself.



Vice Admiral Ghormley placed all his land and water-based aircraft in TF 63. All other seagoing units with a capability to carry out the operation, he put in TF 61, the Expeditionary Force.

Task Forces 11, 16, and 18 each were single carrier task forces with supporting cruisers and destroyers. Task Force 44 from General MacArthur' s Navy contained four cruisers and nine destroyers. Task Force 62 was a beefed- up Amphibious Force South Pacific.

In 1942, Joint Action of the Army and the Navy governed all Joint Overseas Expeditions. This publication called for the appointment of a Commander Expeditionary Force and the naming of all forces assigned to his use. WATCHTOWER was an Overseas Expedition although not a Joint one, and it was both necessary and natural for COMSOPAC to designate an Expeditionary Force Commander and to name the forces assigned, with such broad organizational guide lines which he believed appropriate.

This left the detailed organizing of Task Force 61, the Expeditionary Force, up to Vice Admiral Fletcher, who organized it in his Operation Order 1-42, dated 28 July 1942, as follows:

Vice Admiral Fletcher's Op Order for WATCHTOWER did not indicate when, nor under what circumstances, the amphibious forces command would shift from being TG 61.2 to TF 62. However, it made real progress in welding the amphibious force organizationally by not carrying forward as a separate entity a Task Group designation, 61.6, previously assigned to the naval command coming from the Southwest Pacific Area.


He thus made the basic naval organization for WATCHTOWER as follows:

Command Problems TF 61 and TF 62

The command problem of the Expeditionary Force (TF 61) and its integral carrier task forces was complicated by the fact that Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes, Class of 1906, was the senior carrier task force commander, while Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, a classmate just three numbers his junior on the Navy List, was the far more war-experienced, having commanded naval task forces at the Battles of Coral Sea and of Midway. Noyes commanded Task Force 18 built around the Wasp, while Fletcher commanded Task Force 16 centered on the Enterprise. On 10 May 1942, and 21 June 1942, CINCPAC recommended to COMINCH that Fletcher be promoted to Vice Admiral. On 28 June he repeated this recommendation and added that Fletcher should be given the Expeditionary Force Command. CINCPAC renewed his recommendation personally on 4 July at the San Francisco Conference. As late as 14 July Admiral Nimitz, with the carrier task groups all at sea and headed for a rendezvous north of the Fijis, was still trying to get approval for the actual promotion or for his request that "Rear Admiral F. J. Fletcher be authorized to wear the uniform and assume the rank of Vice Admiral at once."

The first big hurdle to get by was Admiral King. After this, the promotion had to be approved by the President and by the Senate. On 15 July 1942, CINCPAC was notified that this had been accomplished and the promotion


papers were in the mail. Soon thereafter Fletcher had his three star rank by radio dating back to 26 June 1942, the date the recommendation had finally cleared the Navy Department to the President. He became Commander Expeditionary Force, while Noyes was designated as Commander Carrier Aircraft of the Expeditionary Force.25

The command problem of Task Force 62 was complicated by the fact that the second senior officer in the force, Rear Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley, was from an Allied Navy, the British Navy, which of itself had no ships in the Task Force. The three Australian cruisers present therein had just come under the command of recently promoted Rear Admiral Crutchley, who, in June 1942, had been loaned by the British Admiralty to command the Australian Naval Squadron since the 30-year existence of the Australian Navy had not been long enough to mature many officers to Flag rank.

On 29 July 1942, Rear Admiral Turner notified Rear Admiral Crutchley that he would be designated as:

Second-in-Command of the Operation.. . . . The Third-in-Command will not be named, as the command will automatically pass by seniority in the case of the United States Service. It would be well for senior Captains to have an idea of their relative rank, whether British or United States.26

This did not please Rear Admiral Crutchley. He replied:

I am very honored to hear that you are contemplating nominating me as Second-in-Command of what amounts to a very considerable United States Expeditionary Force. I must say that I doubt the propriety or wisdom of this suggestion. It is mainly a U.S. Force and you have another U.S. Flag Officer on the scene [Rear Admiral Norman Scott]. I have not yet been able to ascertain his seniority, we are both too junior to appear in our respective Navy lists.. . . . I feel that as long as there is a U.S. Flag Officer present, he should be in charge.27

Despite this reluctance, Rear Admiral Crutchley was designated as Second-in-Command, when the final draft of the operation order was distributed.28

TF 62's Run to the Rendezvous

There was no pain, no strain on the run to the rendezvous, except the hot bearings on the recently reduced allowance of typewriters and mimeograph


machines, directed by Admiral King, as they were worked on a 24-hour basis, grinding out the last version of the rehearsal order. This was distributed the second and third days after departure from Wellington, together with the first version of the WATCHTOWER Operation Order.29

The Task Force sailed off from Wellington at 0800 on July 22nd to the southeast at speed 14 knots on course 140°. It did not take up northeasterly courses toward the rendezvous until late afternoon, in the hope of making useless to the enemy any intercepted sighting reports of the task force course by small fishing craft or off-course commercial aircraft.

The weather was ideal the first day but by Friday the 24th, the sea was really rough and the visibility was poor. The speed was reduced to 11 knots to reduce the seasickness factor and the steady pounding of the heavily laden ships. (Task Force 62 labeled the weather "quite heavy." Several ships termed the weather "a gale.")

Copies of the rehearsal plan and first draft copies of the WATCHTOWER Plan were sent on ahead to Task Force 61 and all others afloat and ashore in the Fiji area who needed to know, by the workhorse of the Navy, the destroyer.

Up to the time the ships coming from the north and east assembled at the rendezvous and received copies of the prospective operation order, most of the lower echelons did not know where the operation would take place. The War Diaries contain such entries as:

Loading marine equipment and stores for destination unknown. . . .
To transport marine personnel stores and equipment to destination unknown. . . .
For operations in the South Pacific. . . .30

The Gathering of the Clan at Fiji

Rendezvous day was Saturday, 25 July 1942, 350 miles south of Suva in the Fijis. Seventy-six ships were directly involved in the rendezvous and 72 made it on time. Fourteen ships did this via a 1,250-mile detour to Wellington from Australia; 15 in Task Force 18 came 5,500 miles via Great Circle course from San Diego; 16 in Task Force 11 and 11 in Task Force 16 rolled down the 3,100 miles from Pearl Harbor, while Rear Admiral Turner and 26 ships, including 14 from Australia had the shortest run, 1,000 miles from New Zealand. The rest came from Pearl Harbor in small task units.


The 2nd Marine Regiment (Reinforced) (Colonel John M. Arthur, USMC, Commanding) from the Second Marine Division was in the transports loaded at San Diego, and escorted to the rendezvous, by Task Force 18, centered on the carrier Wasp (CV-7) (Captain Forrest Sherman). The Wasp, in company with the brand new battleship North Carolina (BB-55) (Captain George H. Fort) had departed Norfolk, Virginia, for transfer from the Atlantic to the Pacific Fleet two days prior to the sinking of the Yorktown (CV-5) at Midway (5 June 1942). It had been anticipated that this transfer would mean a highly desirable increase in carrier air power in the Pacific Ocean areas, but actually it only made good a severe loss. Departure of Task Force 18 from San Diego was on 1 July 1942.

Every responsible commander in the Navy thought highly of the Marines. Commander Task Force 18, Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes, thought so highly of them that he requested Colonel Arthur to submit a plan for the capture of the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area, with nothing more than the ground forces under his command plus one Marine raider battalion embarked in four destroyer transports.31 Since the 2nd Marine Regiment had been aboard the transports since 1 June, and were going to be aboard more than another month, they probably would have been quite willing to undertake this considerable combat task just to get off the transports.

The 1st Marine Raider Battalion was in Samoa but was to be transported to Noumea by the Heywood and then picked up by the four fast destroyer transports in Transport Division 12 currently en route with Task Force 11 from Pearl Harbor.

The First Marine Division (Reinforced) included the 1st, 5th, and 7th Marine Regiments, but only the 1st and 5th were in the transports coming up from Wellington. The 7th Regiment was in Samoa to defend that island, and was not sprung until 20 August 1942.

The 3rd Defense Battalion (Colonel Robert H. Pepper, USMC) in the Zeilin (AP-9) (Captain Pat Buchanan) and Betelgeuse (AK-28) (Commander Harry D. Power) was the last Marine unit of the 19,000 Marines the Navy was scheduled to assemble. This essential event did not take place until 3 August, long days after the dress rehearsal had been completed.

These two ships had sailed from San Diego on 8 July, seven days later than Task Force 18 which was taking a far more direct Great Circle route for the rendezvous. They sailed from Pearl Harbor in a six-ship convoy on 21 July, six days after Task Force 16 departed for the rendezvous, and 13 days later than Task Force 11.


Convoy 4120 leaving Pearl had expected to make good 13 knots, but as luck would have it, one ship of the convoy, the SS Nira Luckenback, found it impossible to maintain the anticipated 13-knot speed, so the convoy was cut back to 12.5 knots, then to 12.25 knots, and even then the Nira Luckenback had "engine trouble." The convoy then ceased zigzagging, adding to the risk of submarine attack in order to gain greater advance towards its rendezvous.32

With everybody maintaining a strict radio silence, the heavy cruiser escort for the convoy, the San Francisco (CA-38) (Captain Charles H. McMorris), at 0430 in the morning of 1 August went darting over the horizon trying to locate Task Force 61 to effect the rendezvous. Two hours later she was back. She had not made contact. So the convoy went in to Suva Harbor arriving about 1800 and learned that Task Force 61 had departed westward about 1630 on the 31st, but that Commander Task Force 62 had left two destroyers behind for their escort.

Having missed their 30 and 31 July rendezvous with Task Force 61, the Zeilin and Betelgeuse took up the stern chase at 16 knots, escorted by the Dewey (DD-349) and the Mugford (DD-389). The Betelgeuse, pushing its top speed, had a fire in the exhaust trunk lagging of the engine room and had to stop for nearly three hours and put the exhaust trunk plates back together to stop the leak of carbon monoxide gas.

All this time Rear Admiral Turner was worried, darn worried, because an essential battalion of Marines was missing. The entries in the Staff Log reveal this:

August 1st Zeilin, Betelgeuse not yet joined or reported. . . .

August 2nd All ships present except Zeilin and Betelgeuse. . . .

But on August 3rd, the log contained this entry:

August 3rd

0555. Sighted ship bearing 110° true which proved to be USS Zeilin escorted by USS Mugford. Betelgeuse-Dewey still absent and unsighted. . . .

1700. Betelgeuse and Dewey joined formation. . . .

Aircraft for WATCHTOWER

About 635 aircraft participated in the WATCHTOWER Operation. These came from the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Army Air Force, the Australian Air Force, and the New Zealand Air Force. Of the 635 aircraft, some 238 U.S. naval aircraft were on the three carriers in the air support


forces and under the control of Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes, CTG 61.1, and 45 in the 10 heavy combatant ships in the amphibious forces, CTG 61.2, under Rear Admiral R.K. Turner. Some 290 land and water based aircraft were in Task Force 63 under Rear Admiral John S. McCain's operational control, but of these, 145 were in the rear area of the South Pacific (Fiji, Tonga, and Samoan Islands) and were able to render support to WATCHTOWER only by air reconnaissance and by keeping the rear bases secure. They did not operate in the combat zone. The 145 aircraft under CTF 63 operational control which did participate in the early Tulagi-Guadalcanal combat phase of the operation consisted of 27 B- 17's, 10 B-26's, and 38 P-39's from the Army Air Force; six Hudsons from the New Zealand Air Force; 24 Marine scout bombers (SBDs) at Efate, New Hebrides; 17 Marine SBDs at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides; 22 seaplanes (PBYs) and three scouting planes (VSOs) operating from Seaplane tenders.33

From General MacArthur's command, about 20 B-17s of the 19th Bombing Group of the Army Air Force were to search the Solomon Sea and the northern Solomons area to the west of New Georgia (158° 15'E). About 40 reconnaissance aircraft of the 435th Reconnaissance Squadron, including Australian Air Force planes, assisted by searching the Coral Sea area, eastern New Guinea and New Britain area.

Admiral Turner and the Marines

Admiral Turner remembered:

During the first five months of the war in the Pacific our armed forces, and those of our Pacific Allies, were outfought as well as kept off balance by the Japanese. I believed then and said so that a realistic effort had to be made by United States forces, professionally well trained and mentally ready for battle, to jolt the Japanese off balance, and stop their island eating advance. The Japanese Army and Japanese Marines had been fighting in China for years. They were battle experienced, tough and capable.

I had the greatest faith in our Marines. I believed that even with their disadvantage of not having fired any shots in anger for some years, they could stand up to the Japanese; and outwit them and outfight them.

I thought it essential that a battle trial be held soon, or the millions of civilians we were training to be soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines would come into the Military Services with a defeatist attitude, which would be hard to cure.


On the bridge of USS McCawley, Flagship of Commander Amphibious Force South Pacific.
Left to right: Rear Admiral Turner; Lieutenant Colonel Harold D. Harris, USMC, Intelligence Officer;
and Lieutenant Colonel Frank D. Weir, USMC, Assistant Operations Officer.

(Turner Collection)

As May turned into June, and June into July, I became more and more convinced that it was time for 'our turn at bat.'34

Fighting the Problem

On Sunday, 26 July 1942, Vice Admiral Fletcher held a conference of senior officers on board the Expeditionary Force flagship, the Saratoga (CV- 3) near Koro Island about 100 miles south of Suva, Fiji Islands. It was not only a pre-rehearsal conference for DOVETAIL but the vital conference for WATCHTOWER. DOVETAIL was the code name assigned by CINCPAC for the rehearsal of the WATCHTOWER Operation.35

It was a large conference. The log of destroyer Hull (DD-350) that picked up and delivered the passengers to the Saratoga indicates that 17 went to the conference from Commander Task Force 62's flagship, the McCawley. These included Turner, Vandegrift, Peyton, Linscott, Doyle,


Weir, Harris, and Bowling, and all the senior First Marine Division staff officers. The junior ones from both staffs attended subsidiary conferences of intelligence, communication, and Landing Force officers.

During the main conference, the most important decision announced by Vice Admiral Fletcher was that the carrier task groups built around the Enterprise, flagship of Rear Admiral Thomas G. Kinkaid; the Wasp, flagship of Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes; and the Saratoga, flagship of Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, would not be held in a position where they could support the Tulagi-Guadalcanal landings for more than two days; that is, no later than the morning of Sunday, 9 August 1942.

It is easy to say (but not yet proven) that this decision allowed the Japanese Navy to make an unhampered and largely undetected run at our seaborne forces gathered north of Guadalcanal Island the night of 8 August 1942. But there is no question that the carrier task force withdrawal provided the Japanese an unpunished retirement after their glorious victory at Savo Island.

The decision, proven later to have permitted a risky Japanese operation to thumb its nose at our carriers and escape the dangers of this thumbing, is not one that anyone present at the conference, with the exception of Admiral Fletcher and Admiral Kinkaid, still seeks to be associated with. These two still stated 20 years after the event that, based on our capabilities then and those of the Japanese, the arrangement was essential.36

The only contemporary written record of the conference now known to exist was prepared by Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan, Vice Admiral Ghormley' s Chief of Staff37 and he apparently was not in sympathy with the announced decision in regard to the withdrawal of the carrier task groups, for in advising COMSOPAC of this decision, he wrote:

Task Force must withdraw to South from objective area (i.e. general advanced position) within two days after D day!38

This exclamation point and his dissatisfaction with the decision could be directly related to the suggestion made by COMSOPAC (Ghormley) to CTF 61 (Fletcher) several days later of an involved operational arrangement by which carrier aircraft equipped with special belly tanks would operate from Efate while the carriers huddled in a strip-tease condition


several hundred miles south of Guadalcanal. CTF 61 did not buy this proposal and COMSOPAC later decided it was impractical.39

One of the participants interviewed labeled the Saratoga conference "stormy." Captain Peyton's (Chief of Staff to COMPHIBFORSOPAC) recollection of the conference ran as follows:

The conference was one long bitter argument between Vice Admiral Fletcher and my new boss [Turner]. Fletcher questioned the whole upcoming operation. Since he kept implying that it was largely Turner's brainchild, and mentioning that those who planned it had no real fighting experience, he seemed to be doubting the competence of its parent.

Fletcher's main point of view was the operation was too hurriedly and therefore not thoroughly planned, the Task Force not trained together; and the logistic support inadequate.

My boss kept saying 'the decision has been made. It's up to us to make it a success.'

I was amazed and disturbed by the way these two admirals talked to each other. I had never heard anything like it.

In my opinion too much of the conference was devoted to 'fighting the problem,' as we used to say at the [Naval] War College, and too little time to trying to solve the problem.40

A more senior observer and one more used to the sharp give and take during the councils of the naval great, took a much calmer view of this conference.

I would call the mood of the conference animated rather than stormy. Turner asked for a lot of things, much of which he didn't get, because they were not in the realm of the possible.

The sharpest divergence of opinion was in regard to the length of time the carriers should be held in an area where they could support the landings. Fletcher insisted that two days was all that could be risked because of both the submarine danger and the risk of Japanese shore based air attack.

Other divergences of opinion related to air search and logistics.

After the conference was over, I overheard Turner ask Vandegrift 'How did I do?' Vandegrift's answer was 'all right.' That also was my personal assessment.41

Vice Admiral Fletcher's remembrance of the conference was that:

Kelly and I spent most of our time picking on Dan Callaghan because of the poor logistics situation.. . . . Fuel was my main consideration.

Kelly was no shrinking violet, and always spoke his piece in conferences.


But there was no bitterness in the discussion. Plenty of opinions vigorously expressed as to what or could be done.

One thing I remember particularly well and have been telling it ever since the Battle of Savo Island. I said: 'Now Kelly, you are making plans to take that island from the Japs and the Japs may turn on you and wallop the hell out of you. What are you going to do then?' Kelly said: 'I am just going to stay there and take my licking.'

Kelly was tough, a brain, and a son-of-a-bitch, and that's just what he did.42

Vice Admiral Fletcher's appraisal of the logistical aspects of the conference is borne out by Rear Admiral Callaghan's notes. Fourteen of his 23 numbered paragraphs of notes were under the heading of "Logistics."

In Admiral Ghormley's "The Tide Turns" he states:

I was desirous of attending this conference, but found it impossible to give the time necessary for travel with possible attendant delays. I, therefore, sent my Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Callaghan and my Communication Officer, Lieutenant Commander L. Hardy.43

There is always the possibility that had Vice Admiral Ghormley attended the conference, he would have sided with the Commander of the Amphibious Forces and overruled Vice Admiral Fletcher. But in view of Vice Admiral Ghormley's generally cautious approach to operational problems and operational commanders, this does not seem a likely possibility. In fact his absence from what should have been a "must" conference, dealing with the first major naval offensive of the war, and the first in his command area, is a straw in the wind of his stand-off approach to operations in the South Pacific Area.

And Rear Admiral Turner did not appeal the decision. When asked nearly 20 years after the event why he did not, his answer was:

Whom to, and who was I to do so? Fletcher was my old boss, and at that moment the most battle experienced commander in our Navy. It was his judgement, and it was my job to live with it.44

Vice Admiral Fletcher had expected that Vice Admiral Ghormley would be with him in his flagship Saratoga during the operation.45 This was in accordance with Admiral King's expressed desires in his message of 022100 July 1942, which stated:

It is assumed Ghormley will be made Task Force Commander at least for


Task 1 (WATCHTOWER) which he should command in person in operating area.

Admiral Nimitz's 0633 of 9 July 1942 followed this up by telling Vice Admiral Ghormley: "You will exercise strategic command in person."

Admiral Ghormley's reaction to the CINCPAC order, which did make him the commander for Task One and in "direct operational control of combined forces," from 10 July 1942 on, was to plan to move 1,000 miles north from Auckland to Noumea, five days before D-Day, but not to lend his person to the most important conference which took place prior to the WATCHTOWER Operation in the South Pacific.46

Rear Admiral Callaghan's notes of the 25 July 1942 conference in the Saratoga throw some further light on this matter:

Admiral Fletcher called me aside and said that he was pleased that you [Admiral Ghormley] put him in tactical command of this operation. Thought you were going to exercise that function. Said he hoped you would not hesitate to change tactical disposition if you thought it necessary, and he would not take it amiss, as you might be in much better position to see the whole picture. Told him I thought you would not hesitate to do this if you found it necessary but hoped that need for such action would not arise. Pointed out that during radio silence our knowledge of his tactical disposition would have to be based solely on his operation order and some guessing, unless he could keep us informed by plane. He promised to do this at every opportunity.47

Fuzzy Command Directives

To do justice to Vice Admiral Ghormley, it should be pointed out that when he was in Pearl Harbor in early May 1942, he had discussed with Admiral Nimitz a draft policy directive governing task forces of the Pacific Fleet entering the South Pacific Area prior to its issuance. When issued on 12 May 1942, Admiral Nimitz's directive read as follows:

When Fleet Task Forces operate in the South and/or Southwest Pacific Area, my command of them will, unless otherwise specified, be exercised through you. Under some conditions these forces will be made available to you to accomplish such of your tasks as you see fit. At present, their tasks are being assigned by me in broad terms in order that sufficient support may be left to the Senior Task Force Commander, and ordinarily will require


little amplification by you. It is expected, however, that you will exercise such direction as you may consider necessary when changed or unforeseen situations arise.. . . .48

Vice Admiral Ghormley, on 9 May 1942, spelled out his understanding of this directive in considerable detail in the very excellent COMSOPAC War Diary as follows:

The Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet would order Task Force Commanders to report to the Commander South Pacific Force for duty. The Commander South Pacific Force would direct the Task Force Commander to carry out his mission (as given by the Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet). The Commander South Pacific Force would not interfere in the Task Force Commander's mission unless circumstances, presumably not known to the Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet, indicated that specific measures were required to be performed by the Task Force Commander. The Commander South Pacific Force would then direct the Task Force Commanders to take such measures.49

It is certainly deducible from this, that if COMSOPAC felt he had only limited authority to interfere in the broad mission, then he had even less authority to interfere in how the mission was carried out tactically.

This CINCPAC directive apparently was so firmly in Vice Admiral Ghormley's mind that when the despatch version of the WATCHTOWER directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived on the Fourth of July 1942, stating that COMINCH assumed Ghormley would command in person in the operating area, he still did not visualize himself as an operational commander exercising the full range of command authority in an operating area. This was so even though the word "command" had been used by COMINCH without limiting adjectives and therefore included "the direction, coordination, and control of military forces."50

Admiral Nimitz's despatch of 9 July that COMSOPAC would exercise "strategic command in person" was certainly a modification of the basic CINCPAC 9 May directive to COMSOPAC, but it was also a modification of the CINCPAC despatch of 27 June telling COMINCH that "Ghormley will be placed in full command of operation."51 The use of the words "strategic command" by Admiral Nimitz could have been interpreted as a warning not to step into the immediate tactical field, and certainly left no


question that Vice Admiral Ghormley would not be the tactical commander. COMSOPAC might well have assumed also that, if there was a difference of opinion between Admiral King and Admiral Nimitz as to where in the grey area between strategical and tactical command he should operate, then by notifying them both of his personal movement to on board the Argonne (AG-31), he had afforded them an opportunity to step in and clarify the situation.52

If anything further need to be said as to why Vice Admiral Ghormley should have attended the Koro Island conference in the Saratoga and been present "in the operating area" regardless of the side effects his absence would have had on the administrative command of the South Pacific Force, he has supplied the necessary quotation:

I did not receive Fletcher's order for the operations until in September, a month after the operation had commenced.. . . . The orders issued by Crutchley for the naval protection of our forces, I did not see until he and Turner returned to Noumea after the landing.53

The Unsatisfactory Rehearsal

The Fijis was the location recommended by Rear Admiral Turner to CINCPAC for the rehearsal. While not so judged by the military defenders of the islands, the Fijis were in the process of becoming a rear area (1, 100 miles from Guadalcanal) from where it would be difficult for the Japanese or neutral nation agents to collect and transmit intelligence on a large gathering of U.S. Navy ships. Additionally the Fijis were a practical meeting point, based on availability and distances of the forces being assembled from San Diego, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia for the actual conduct of the WATCHTOWER Operation.

The period allocated for the rehearsal was 28 to 31 July. Upon recommendation of Rear Admiral Turner, as well as by the Navy Port Director at Suva, Commander F. S. Holmes, U.S. Navy, and the First Division Marines who actually reconnoitered the Fiji area, the rehearsal was held at Koro Island in reef-locked Koro Sea. Koro Island was not one of the


Fiji Islands.

three islands initially suggested as suitable by CINCPAC, and turned out on the days of the rehearsal to be quite unsuitable.54

The uncertainties involved in this rehearsal related not only to those always present when bringing together a large number of ships, aircraft, and men inexperienced in battle, but

at the time the basic order was made out [for the rehearsal], there was some uncertainty as to the identity of all ships in Squadrons X-RAY and YOKE specifically [Transport Divisions Two and Twelve] and also uncertainty as to the identity of the squadron commanders.55

On 24 July, Rear Admiral Turner sent a personal letter to Rear Admiral V.A.C. Crutchley of the Royal Navy, then in the Australian cruiser Australia enroute to Koro Island. He commanded the Screening Group of four heavy and one light cruisers and nine destroyers. The letter reveals that at this late date, Rear Admiral Turner still did not know whether he would have any minesweepers for use in the operation or any tankers to provide


continuing logistic support. It also made clear that the transport Zeilin and the cargo ship Betelgeuse carrying the 3rd Defense Battalion of Marines would not join "off KORO until about the 30th," and hence these Marines would not participate in the rehearsal everyone knew was essential.

Additionally, Rear Admiral Turner wrote:

The thing which most concerns me at the moment is the prompt organization of the Attack Force, once we meet the other elements of the Pacific Fleet.

I regret deeply that lack of time and ability to consult you require that I myself make the assignment of vessels to stations in Squadrons X-RAY and YOKE. [Which Admiral Crutchley's Screening Force was to protect from air and submarine attack, as well as from enemy surface force attack.] However, I believe this is necessary if we are to obtain a prompt organization of the squadrons on the 26th and 27th.56

Since Rear Admiral Turner was dealing with a particularly distinguished and particularly brave British Naval Officer, it probably was especially hard to decide that circumstances required him to take over a task properly belonging to this subordinate.

In a much longer letter57 to Vice Admiral Fletcher the next day, 25 July 1942, Rear Admiral Turner reported:

  1. Encountering 'quite heavy weather,' and being four hours late for the rendezvous.
  2. The cargo ship Fomalhaut (AK-22) Commander John D. Alvis, U.S. Navy, Commanding, being a 'lame duck.'

  3. Refueling and refilling with ammunition used in the rehearsal would be necessary for the destroyers, and refueling for three transports.

  4. A conference after the rehearsal was essential.

  5. The Australia aircraft warning radar 'has a consistent working range of only fifteen miles,' and that he believed Admiral Crutchley should shift his flag to the Chicago.

  6. If things go well, it seems likely we may be able to send Transport Division Two (Captain I. N. Kiland, U.S. Navy) to the rear on the night of D-Day, and probably send the rest of the transports out on the night of D plus one Day. The great difficulty is going to be with the five cargo vessels left. Estimates for unloading vary all the way from three to six days, but you can rest assured that we will get this done as soon as possible. We will need air protection during this entire period, but will be able to send out about all the Pacific Fleet combatant ships with the Second Group of transports.


  1. 'There is plenty more to talk about when we meet.'

It should be noted that Vice Admiral Fletcher apparently did not agree with Rear Admiral Turner in three important respects:

  1. No general conference was held after the rehearsal by Commander Expeditionary Force, CTF 61, a sine qua non for amphibious operations. Since Commander Expeditionary Force did not call such a meeting, a conference of most of the group and unit commanders of Task Force 62 was held in the H.M.S. Australia on 31 July.58

  2. Air protection was not provided during the "three to six days" of the unloading period.

  3. Vice Admiral Fletcher did not direct Rear Admiral Crutchley to shift his Flag to the Chicago, nor regrettably did Rear Admiral Turner, who could have done so, but probably encountered reluctance by that officer to shift to an American ship.

In his letter to Rear Admiral Norman Scott, Rear Admiral Turner had said:

I foresee considerable difficulty, particularly in the rehearsal, in keeping the transports in the same locality all day long while loading and unloading. The water is too deep to anchor, of course, and I hope we don't have a lot of collisions. However, there will be more important difficulties in the combat operations, so we can't worry about these.

The rehearsal, from 28 through 31 July, was less than full blown. The original plan had been to conduct landing exercises on 28 July, re-embark the Marines on 29 July, and then conduct further landing exercises on the 30th, with accompanying air bombings and ship gunfire support fire, and again re-embark the troops on the 31st.

Despite the fact that the sea was smooth, COMPHIBFORSOPAC Staff Log for 28 July 1942 reads as follows:

0900. Began rehearsal exercises on Koro Island. Beach conditions very inadequate and hazardous for boats. Landing conducted on beaches Blue and Green in accordance with plan, but incomplete on beach Red.

The COMPHIBFORSOPAC order had said:

Care will be taken to avoid damage to boats, as they cannot be replaced before being required for combat.

This explains why COMPHIBFORSOPAC'S War Diary records that:


Beach condition proved hazardous and endangered future employment of ship's boats and tank lighters. Troops not ashore were recalled. Boats were hoisted in and troops not landed were re-embarked.

The personal notes of Rear Admiral Turner on the first day of the rehearsal are limited to a page and a half, and mainly directed towards the planned rewrite of the PHIBFORSOPAC Operation Plan A2-42. They included such items as:

  1. All personnel not required on upper decks must remain below decks as long as possible, until immediately before debarking.

  2. Change task of gunfire support ships to include covering of transports while unloading.

  3. Indicate type number alongside names of ship in Task Organization, thus Fuller (AP-14).

On Affirm plus one day, there was much concern about the boats, while the troops on Beach Blue and Beach Green were re-embarked. This was done successfully. On the last two days of the rehearsal, the previously designated units of troops were put into the boats, but not put on to the beaches.

Revealing an unanticipated liberty attraction ashore, the COMPHIBFORSOPAC Staff Log records for 30 July that:

Three Marine Corps stragglers from American Legion [APA-17] were apparently left on Koro Island.

A more serious worry:

Fleet tanker USS Kaskaskia failed to keep appointed rendezvous with the force.

And on 31 July and 1 August:

USS Kaskaskia still unaccounted for. USS Kaskaskia still missing.

There is an old Navy saying that:

In every task force there is always some so and so ship that doesn't get the word.

On 1 August 1942, it was the Kaskaskia.

The Kaskaskia (AO-27), Commander Walter L. Taylor, had been in the same convoy as the radarless Zeilin and Betelgeuse and had arrived Suva, Fiji, the late afternoon of 1 August. She turned to and fueled 15 small harbor craft in the next two days, but she did not sail. Her onward orders from Commander South Pacific did not arrive until 3 August. The initial words of the despatch tell the story.


This is a reencipherment of NPM Fox Number 710. Apparently bad set up. . . .59

In non-seagoing language this meant that the coding set up for the message had turned out a garbled product.

Rehearsal Trials, Tribulations, and Benefits

Only a little better than one-third of the Marines who were supposed to have had the benefit of an actual rehearsal for an amphibious landing had debarkation or shoreside training at Koro. On the other hand, gunfire support ships and the air support aircraft carried out the pre-landing shelling and bombings of the rehearsals as planned and derived benefit therefrom. For the amphibious ship the rehearsal was the cornerstone of later successes. As related by the Commanding Officer Alhena:

We had hoisted our wooden-hulled Higgins boats [before leaving San Diego] in and out for so long that we thought that we knew all there was to know; but always in harbor and never in any sort of landing exercise. Off Onslow Beach in the early days I had acted as a spare parts supply ship, doling out engines and propellers as they were burned or beaten up. How well the others had been trained I do not know, but we all certainly heard from U-NO-HOO after the first rehearsal in the Fijis. Kelly sounded off in no uncertain terms and no one was spared. We hoisted the boats in and did it again. Times were cut about fifty percent but still it was not good enough. The third time we all thought that we did a real bang up job, but not so, according to the Boss. And he was right. After a conference aboard his ship that night we went out to sea, came in and did it again in about one third the time of our first try and with ten times the precision. Here again Kelly was the perfectionist, not the sundowner, and his driving was certainly needed and paid off.60

In May 1943, in making his official report on the WATCHTOWER Operation, Major General Vandegrift informed the Commandant of the Marine Corps:

Rendezvous was effected on 26 July and from 28 July until 31 July rehearsals for the forthcoming operation were conducted at Koro. Coral conditions on the island beaches rendered them impractical for actual landing operations and to that extent the rehearsal period was unsatisfactory. It proved invaluable, however, in providing an opportunity for familiarization


with debarking procedure, ascertaining debarkation intervals and the conduct and timing of large scale boat movements. . . .

It also permitted the necessary exchange of staff visits and conferences. . . . during which further details of execution of the attack were agreed upon and minor changes carried into effect. . . .

In the light of this experience an effective and workable boat pool was established. . . .

General Vandegrift on 12 March 1948, in talking with the Marine Corps History Group at Princeton, described the Koro rehearsal as a "complete bust," and this terse description caught fire and has been carried forward into the Official Marine Corps History as well as most unofficial writings on Guadalcanal.

Rear Admiral Turner was unhappy about the selection of the Koro beaches and thought the partial rehearsal "unsatisfactory" but he thought it far, far from being "a complete bust."

In retrospect, General Vandegrift agreed with him, writing in 1964:

Although I later described the rehearsal as 'a complete bust,' in retrospect it probably was not that bad. At the very least, it got the boats off the transports, and the men down the nets and away. It uncovered deficiencies such as defective boat engines in time to have them repaired and gave both Turner and me a chance to take important corrective measures in other spheres.

This confirmed again what the General had written officially way back in March 1943:

The 'unusually successful landings' reflected the benefits to be obtained from a period of rehearsals of the precise operation immediately prior to its execution.61

1100 Miles of Worry

Admiral Fletcher remembered:

Fuel was my main consideration during the run from the Fijis to the Solomons.62

And it was a major consideration for all his subordinate naval commanders.

On Thursday, 29 July, CTF 61 (Fletcher) advised COMSOPAC (Ghormley) and his subordinate commanders that TF 61 would be short


2.1 million gallons of fuel oil on departure from the Fijis for the Solomons. CTF 61 considered it "imperative" that his force should be fully fueled on departure and topped off en route to the landings.63

The Ranier (AE-5), Platte (AO-24), and the Kanawha (AO-1) worked at rearming and refueling the fast carrier task forces on 30 and 31 July, but when, at 1630 on the 31st, the Expeditionary Force started its decoy course to the southward before turning westward to the Coral Sea and Guadalcanal, three heavy cruisers and seven destroyers of the fast carrier task forces still were not fueled. These were temporarily detached and worked at their task throughout the night. All heavy combatant ships and three transports were fueled by 1000 on 1 August 1942, but some of the destroyers had not fueled to capacity.64

On 31 July, Task Group 61.2, the designation of the amphibious forces while part of the Expeditionary Force, also fueled from our oldest tanker, the 28-year-old Kanawha (Commander Kendall S. Reed), and from the Platte (Captain Ralph H. Henkle) and replenished the ammunition expended in the rehearsal from the Ranier (Captain W.W. Meek).

The logistical support forces were inadequate, and the problem was only beginning to be handled at the highest operational level in the task forces of the Navy. According to the official history of naval logistics:

The vital importance of an adequate supply of fuel, and its timely and properly allocated delivery to the vessels of the South Pacific for the campaign about to begin, was clearly recognized by Admiral Ghormley. The distances involved, the scarcity of tankers, and the consumption of oil by task forces operating at high speeds made the solution of this logistic problem difficult enough if the normal operating consumption was used for estimates. But what would constitute 'normal' when the offensive was underway?. . . . Furthermore, though Ghormley foresaw the situation, and tried to anticipate it, his logistic planners were too few and had too little experience.65

At the late date, 31 July, the Zeilin and Betelgeuse, carrying essential Marines and Marine equipment, had not joined and no one in TF 61 knew where they were, so CTG 61.2 (Turner) directed the heavy cruiser Chicago (CA-29) (Captain Howard D. Bode) to fly two planes northeast to Suva to: "ascertain if the Zeilin and Betelgeuse are in Suva; if not, does the Director of the Port know where they are?"66


Another letter from Rear Admiral Turner carried by these planes was addressed to the Director of the Port, Suva, and contained the following:

The Kaskaskia, Zeilin and Betelgeuse did not show up. I am much afraid that they have gone to Koro and are awaiting there for me, in which case they are sure to be too late to join me.. . . . The Dewey (DD-352) and Mugford (DD-389) have orders to wait at Suva until nightfall (or longer if they get orders from COMSOPAC), in order to escort the Zeilin and Betelgeuse to me.67

The reply via the Chicago's plane brought good news.

A plane took off at about 1015 to Koro to order the Zeilin and Betelgeuse to the rendezvous off Suva as directed.. . . .68

Rear Admiral Turner made every effort to top off his fuel enroute too the Solomons. On Sunday, 2 August, he sent the Australian light cruiser, Hobart (Captain H. A. Showers, R.A.N.), six destroyers of Destroyer Squadron Four, and five destroyer-type minesweepers, Mine Squadron Two, to top off at Efate in the Southern New Hebrides.

They were to obtain oil from shore facilities, if they existed, or from the chartered Merchant Tanker SS Esso Little Rock. The latter presumably had been diverted by COMSOPAC to Efate in the New Hebrides on her run from the Fijis. However, by mischance the USS Wilson (DD-408) (Lieutenant Commander Walter H. Price), on the northern flank of the circular cruising disposition of TG 61.2, had contacted the Esso Little Rock during the early morning hours (0200) and seeking to keep the ship clear of the formation, had directed her to steam north for one and a half hours before resuming her course for Efate. This unhappy and too extended diversion ordered by an officer not knowing the urgency of the timing in Esso Little Rock's mission delayed the arrival of the tanker well past the hour when Commander Destroyer Squadron Four (Captain Cornelius W. Flynn) and his flock arrived at Efate. The non-existence of other oil resources at Efate made the visit fruitless, and, of course, further deteriorated the oil situation of the 12 ships involved.

Since no other fuel was available, on 4 August, all 24 of TG 61.2 (Amphibious Forces) destroyer and destroyer-types and the Australian Hobart, a short-legged cruiser by American standards, were fueled from the transports and cargo ships of the task group. The exception was three destroyers which completed the emptying of the fleet tanker Cimarron


The Solomons and Southern Approaches.

(Commander Russell M. Ihrig), which had fueled TG 61.1 (Air Support Forces) the same day.

On 5 August, Rear Admiral Turner brought his task group to a halt to transfer 17 newly and prematurely graduated ensigns from the Naval Academy Class of 1943 and their monumental baggage to their assigned ships via ship boats, instead of by high line transfers from the Zeilin, the ship which brought them out from the States. This stopping of the task group observed from afar disturbed Vice Admiral Fletcher and while Task Group 61.1 and 61.2 were not cruising together, he stepped in and sent a message to CTG 61.1 to get underway immediately.

I just figured that Kelly was punch drunk and my short despatch would snap him out of it. When I next saw him, which was in Noumea, we laughed together about the incident, and he admitted he might not have been very bright. But he still said there were no Jap submarines anywhere around.69

On the morning of 6 August, the day before the landings, the weather was hazy, visibility was four miles, and later became even less. COMPHIBFORSOPAC Staff Log stated the problem and the result:


No navigational sights possible. . . .

At 0800 reported positions [from ships of the force] differed by 27 miles in latitude and 15 miles in longitude. . . .

At 1200 despatched Comdesron Four in Selfridge (DD-357) to Bellona Island, about 60 miles to the northeast, with orders to fix navigational position, and rejoin disposition by 1800. . . .

Haze closed down, with some rain. Still not zigzagging in order not to complicate navigational data.

Guessing the Submarine Menace

After deploying 27 submarines in direct connection with the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese Navy made minimal offensive use of their 60-ship submarine fleet during the first six months of the war.70 But it was gloomily, and quite erroneously, anticipated by Rear Admiral Turner that as the United States Navy moved from the defensive to the offensive, the Japanese Navy would make much more effective use of their submarines. He thought the Japanese submarines would orient their attacks away from the fast-moving well-compartmented combatant ships which were fully destroyer-protected to the far slower and far less watertight compartmented transport and logistic support ships of the amphibious forces.71

During this July-August 1942 stage of the Pacific War, the Japanese had the capability to assign 20 submarines in the Solomon Island area, and in September they reached this standard.72 However, in July and up until 7 August, the best evidence available is that there were only three Japanese submarines (I-123, I-169, I-172) actually operating in the almost million square miles encompassed by the Fiji-New Caledonia-Solomon Island, South Pacific Area.73

But Rear Admiral Turner did not think that Task Force 62 had much to worry about from submarines, until after the Japanese had felt the initial weight of its amphibious attack, and had time to make the command decision to orient their submarine fleet toward the Solomons and the


United States Amphibious Forces therein. So on the 800-mile run from Auckland to the Fiji Island rendezvous, his 26-ship task force zigzagged during daylight, but not during dark.

On 29 July 1942, Rear Admiral Turner wrote to Rear Admiral Crutchley, who was concerned over the task force not zigzagging at night and possible submarine attacks:

I agree that submarines are a menace in this operation, but not very much so. The Japs have few submarines down here, and it is a very large ocean, so these few cannot cover much of it. I do not believe we are likely to find any in this immediate vicinity, though of course, I may be surprised. Ordinarily we will zigzag during daylight.

I have considerably greater concern over the dangers of an air attack, than over the dangers of a submarine attack, particularly in the early stages of the action after arrival in the Tulagi Area.74

However, Rear Admiral Crutchley was not dissuaded. On the next day he replied:

As regards the 2nd paragraph, your intelligence is probably much more complete than mine, but we have had persistent reports of growing numbers of submarines in the Rabaul area as well as reports of large and small (R.O. Class or even Midget) submarines in the Solomons.

I regard the former as a menace at sea and the latter as a great menace after we have arrived for their small size makes them very difficult to detect by ASDIC. I hope that I shall prove wrong.75

Rear Admiral Crutchley very politely did not add that a Japanese submarine, later learned to be I-169, had just sunk the Dutch Ship Tjingara close to New Caledonia. The survivors had been picked up by the USS Platte on 27 July 1942. Nor did he add that the Army Air Force had reported the presence of midget submarines in the Solomons just as the task force left Auckland, and regular-sized submarines off Santa Isabel Island only 60 miles from Guadalcanal as Task Force 62 moved towards Koro Island in the Fijis.76

The Japanese Navy reacted with their submarines to the 7 August landings by ordering seven additional submarines from Truk to the lower Solomons, and by concentrating in Indispensable Strait, which separates Guadalcanal Island from Malaita Island to the northeast, those submarines


already in the South Pacific Area. The attack objective of their submarines was not changed to the amphibious and logistic support forces, as had been anticipated by Rear Admiral Turner.77

On the run from Wellington to Koro in the Fijis, there were only two submarine alarms, but as the COMPHIBFORSOPAC Staff Log indicates "contact could not be developed, presumed non-submarine."

On the first days of the six-day run from the Fijis to Guadalcanal, there were no submarine alerts within Task Force 62, a most unusual occurrence for a large task force at sea, and indicative that the submarine menace in the South Pacific had a low evaluation in the minds of the hundreds of alert sailormen who manned the submarine detection gear.

A Word of Confidence

Just before dark, on the night before the assault landing, Rear Admiral Turner sent out the following personally written message to Task Force 62.


On August seventh, this Force will recapture Tulagi and Guadalcanal Islands, which are now in the hands of the enemy.

In this first step forward toward clearing the Japanese out of conquered territory, we have strong support from the Pacific Fleet, and from the air, surface and submarine forces in the South Pacific and Australia.

It is significant of victory that we see here shoulder to shoulder, the U.S. Navy, Marines and Army, and the Australian and New Zealand Air, Naval and Army Services.

I have confidence that all elements of this armada will, in skill and courage, show themselves fit comrades of those brave men who already have dealt the enemy mighty blows for our great cause.

God bless you all.

R.K. Turner, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy, Commanding

Rear Admiral Turner thought enough of this message to retain it in his personal files. This was the only one of the many he sent prior to an operation that he so retained. It was neither a public relations office blurb, nor a football pep rally speech, but a subdued and serious statement by a very serious-minded man.


Compare it with the one sent out from Vice Admiral Ghormley's Headquarters:

We look to you to electrify the world with news of a real offensive. Allied ships, planes and fighting men carry on from Midway. Sock 'Em in the Solomons.78

History Foretells

One of the better students of military history, Captain B.H. Liddell Hart, had written in 1939:

A landing on a foreign coast in the face of hostile troops has always been one of the most difficult operations of war. It has now become almost impossible, because of the vulnerable target which a convoy of transports offers to the defender's air force as it approaches the shore. Even more vulnerable to air attack is the process of disembarkation in open boats.79

Admiral Turner later said:

I had read Lidell Hart's book and that part of it kept coming back to my mind as we chugged around Guadalcanal in the haze on 6 August.80

"At Last We Have Started"

With these words CINCPAC advised COMINCH that the WATCHTOWER Operation was underway. Where did Admiral Nimitz first learn of the start? From COMSOPAC or from Commander Expeditionary Force? Neither. He learned it from reading Japanese radio traffic.81 Six hours later CINCPAC still had no report from COMSOPAC or Commander Expeditionary Force, but the Japanese were keeping him informed of the favorable progress of the WATCHTOWER Operation.82

The first detailed summary report of the operation was sent by COMPHIBFORSOPAC to all interested seniors as of 2000, local time on 7 August, a bit late for a good staff officer. In this summary report, COMSOPAC and CTF 61 were requested to provide "scouting against approach enemy forces from westward."83 It was a wise but fruitless request.


Table of Contents  *  Previous Chapter (7)  *  Next Chapter (9)


1. (a) Craven and Cate, Guadalcanal to Saipan, p. 6; (b) Turner.

2. Interview with Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, 19 Oct 1961. hereafter Nimitz.

3. Turner to Spruance, letter, 13 Jul 1942.

4. Linscott.

5. (a) Linscott; (b) COMSOPAC to CINCPAC, 160612 Jul 1942.

6. (a) COMPHIBFORSOPAC, letter, no Ser of 18 Jul 184, subj: Establishment of PHIBFOR, SOPAC; (b) The Alchiba (AK-23) (Commander James S. Freeman), which participated in the WATCHTOWER Operation was assigned administratively to Transport Division Six.

7. (a) McCawley designated as flagship by COMINCH on 7 Jun 1942. COMINCH letter FF1/A3/a/A16-3, ser 00468 of 7 Jun 1942; (b) Defects of Conversion in CNO to CINCLANT, letter Ser 013423 of 15 Feb 1941. Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet stated that the McCawley was not equipped to conduct successful landings in Force.

8. (a) Turner; (b) Interview with Rear Admiral John S. Lewis, USN (Ret.) (ex-Flag Lieutenant), 7 Nov 1962. Hereafter Lewis.

9. (a) Interviews and questionnaires from PHIBFORSOPAC Staff, 1961-1963. Hereafter PHIBFORSOPAC Staff Interviews; (b) A.C.W. Baskin, letter, 16 Nov 1962.

10. (a) PESTILENCE Memo, para. 2; (b) Commanding General, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Pacific Fleet, to Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, letter, KV10/A16-CSN-082 of 11 may 1942 and First Endorsement thereon by Commanding General, Amphibious Corps, pacific Fleet, 13 May 1942. This was the Wing whose forward echelon landed on Henderson Field, 20 Aug 1942.

11. Ghormley to MacArthur, message 050011 Jul 1942. He took only the Flag lieutenant and one other officer from his staff. Conference lasted 0800-1230, 1400-1450 on 8 Jul 1942.

12. COMSOPAC to King, 081012, 081817, 081020 Jul 1942.

13. CINCPAC to COMSOPAC, 090633 Jul 1942.

14. On 5 May 1942, the Japanese occupations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa had been postponed "until after Midway and the Western Aleutians had been occupied." On 18 May 1942, the 17th Japanese Army had been established, and the Navy alerted to capture New Caledonia, the Fijis, and Samoa in early July. On 11 June these operations were postponed "for two months." IGHQ Navy Order #20, dated 11 July 1942, cancelled them, once and for all time.

15. Vice Admiral R.L. Ghormley, manuscript covering the early history of the South Pacific Force and South Pacific Area, 22 Jan 1943, pp. 34-35. hereafter, Ghormley manuscript.

16. Craven and Cate, Guadalcanal to Saipan, p. 28.

17. Ibid., pp. 28-29. See also COMINCH to CINCPAC and COMSWPACFOR 032255 Jul 1942; CM-0221-OUT-1 Jul 1042; CM-0741-IN-2 Jul 1942; CM-1100-OUT-F Jul 1942.

18. Craven and Cate, Guadalcanal to Saipan, p. 101.

19. Henry Harley Arnold, Global Missions (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1940) p. 335.

20. (a) COMPHIBSOPAC (TF 62) Operations Plan, A3-42, Ser 0013 of 30 Jul 1942; (b) Staff Interviews and questionnaires; (c) Turner.

21. Ibid. A Scheme of Maneuver is the tactical plan to be executed by a force in order to seize assigned objectives.

22. Turner.

23. Herbert L. Merillat, The Island (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1944), p. 11. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates Inc. Copyright 1944 H.L. Merillat.

24. RKT to Ghormley, personal letter, 21 Jul 1942.

25. (a) CINCPAC to COMINCH, 092219 May 1942, 202013 Jun 1942, 272251 Jun 1942, and 141027 Jul 192. COMINCH 151500 Jul 1942; (b) King papers; (c) Notes on conversations between CINCPAC and COMINCH, 4 Jul 1942.

26. RKT to Crutchley, letter, 29 Jul 1942.

27. Rear Admiral Crutchley to RKT, personal letter, 30 Jul 1942.

28. PHIBSOPAC, Op Plan A3-42, 30 Jul 1942, para. 5(c).

29. (a) PHIBSOPAC, Op Plan A2-42, 22 Jul 1942; Rehearsal Op Plan AR-42, 22 Jul 1942; (b) COMPHIBSOPAC War Diary, Jul 1942.

30. USS Betelgeuse War Diary, 20-31 Jul 1942; USS Maury War Diary, 15 Jul 1942.

31. USS Wasp War Diary, 6 Jul 1942.

32. (a) USS Zeilin War Diary, 21, 22, 27 Jul 1942; (b) Hawaiian Sea Frontier Op Order 34-42, 19 Jul 1942.

33. COMAIRSOPAC (CTF 63), Op Plan 1-42 of 25 Jul 1942. Colonel Clyde Rich, Army Air Force, CTG 63.1, commanded the 69th Bombing Squadron at Espiritu Santo, along with the New Zealand Hudsons, the 67th Pursuit squadron, and several PBYs. Colonel LaVerne G. Saunders, Army Air Force, CTG 63.2, commanded the 11th Bombardment Group of 16 B-17s at Efate.

34. Turner.

35. CINCPAC to COMSOPAC, 070231 Jul 1942.

36. Fletcher; Kinkaid.

37. Callaghan was a fresh caught (three months to the day) and temporary rear admiral, but he had 32 years of naval service behind him, and according to three senior witnesses (Fletcher, Kinkaid, Peyton) very ably represented the strategic commander of the operation.

38. Ghormley manuscript, p. 67.

39. (a) COMSOPAC to CTF 61, 020240 Aug 1042; (b) COMAIRSOPAC to COMSOPAC, 041436 Aug 1942; (c) CINCPAC to COMAIRSOPAC, 022115 Aug 1942.

40. Peyton.

41. Interview with Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, USN (Ret.), 20 May 1963. Hereafter Kinkaid.

42. Interview with Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, USN (Ret.), 25 May 1963. Hereafter Fletcher.

43. Ghormley manuscript, p. 64.

44. Turner.

45. Fletcher.

46. (a) CINCPAC Operation Order 34-42, 30 Jun 1942; (b) COMSOPAC, 170602 Jul 1942; COMSOPAC completed shift of headquarters to Noumea on 8 November 1942.

47. Ghormley manuscript, p. 69.

48. CINCPAC, Instructions to Prospective COMSOPAC, Ser 09000 of 12 May 1942.

49. COMSOPAC War Diary, 9 May 1942.

50. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dictionary of United States Military Terms for Joint Usage (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1960).

51. CINCPAC to COMINCH, 272251 Jul 1942.

52. (a) CINCPAC, 092001 Jul 1942, 122359 Jul 1942; (b) COMSOPAC, 311510 Jul 1942.

53. Ghormley manuscript, pp. 60-61. Fletcher's Op Order 1-42 was not issued until 28 Jul 1942. Crutchley Op Order does not bear a date but Turner in commenting on it, told him on 29 Jul, he "could issue it any time. . . ." COMSOPAC was not on Crutchley's distribution list for the order.

54. (A) CINCPAC to COMSOPAC, 041844 Jul 1942; (b) RKT to Deputy CNO Admin, letter, 27 Sep 1950.

55. RKT to Rear Admiral Norman Scott, prospective Commander Gunfire Support, 25 Jul 1942.

56. RKT to Rear Admiral Crutchley, letter, 24 Jul 1942.

57. RKT to Vice Admiral Fletcher, letter, 25 Jul 1942.

58. PHIBSOPAC (TF 62), Rehearsal Operation Plan AR-42, 22 Jul 1942. Paragraph X (6) directed his subordinates to hold conferences on 1 Aug 1942 prior to issuing their final operation plans.

59. COMSOPAC, 022340 Aug 1942.

60. Hunt.

61. (a) Commanding General, First Marine Division, WATCHTOWER Operation, Ser 00204, Phases I-IV; (b) Alexander A. Vandegrift, Once a Marine (New York: W.W. Norton, 1964), p. 122; (c) PHIBFORSOPAC Staff interviews; (d) RRT [sic] to DCNO (Admin), letter, 20 Aug 1950.

62. Fletcher.

63. CTF 61 to COMSOPAC, 280201 Jul 1942.


65. Worrall Reed Carter, Beans, Bullets and Black Oil (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1951), p. 24.

66. RKT to Captain Bode, letter, 31 Jul 1942.

67. RKT to Commander F.S. Holmes, Director of the Port, Suva, letter, 31 Jul 1942.

68. Commander Holmes to RKT, letter, 31 Jul 1942.

69. Fletcher.

70. E.B. Potter and Chester W. Nimitz, Sea Power, A Naval History (Englewood Cliffs; Prentice Hall, 1960), pp. 796-800.

71. Turner.

72. (a) Mochitsura Hashimoto, Sunk; The Story of the Japanese Submarine Fleet, 1941-1945. trans. E.H.M. Colgrave (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1954), pp. 2, 48. 70, 90, 81, 238; (b) Morison, The Struggle for Guadalcanal (Vol V), p. 130; (c) Emanuel Andrieu d'Albas, Death of a Navy; Japanese Naval Action in World War II (New York: Devin-Adair Co., 1957), p. 173.

73. Hashimoto, p. 258.

74. RKT to Rear Admiral Crutchley, RN, personal letter, 20 Jul 1942.

75. Crutchley to RKT, personal letter, 30 Jul 1942.

76. (a) USS Platte to COMAIRSOPAC 262010 Jul 1942; (b) Hashimoto, p. 258; (c) CM-IN-7335, 7/21/42, CM-IN-7634, 7/22/42, CM-IN-8247, 7/24/42. The Archives Branch of the Federal Records Center, Suitland, Md.

77. From August through November 1942 in SOPAC Area two U.S. carriers, one battleship and one anti-aircraft cruiser were torpedoed: Saratoga (CV-3), 31 Aug by I-26; Wasp (CV-7), 15 September by I-19; North Carolina (BB-55), 15 September by I-15; Juneau (CL-52), 13 November by I-26. Juneau was sunk, and Wasp disabled was then actually sunk by U.S. forces. Others were damaged.

78. COMSOPAC to TF's 61, 62, 63, 061040 Aug 1942.

79. B.H. Liddell Hart, The Defense of Britain (New York: Random House, 1939), p. 130.

80. Turner.

81. CINCPAC to COMINCH, 062045 Aug 1942.

82. CINCPAC to COMINCH, 070231 Aug 1942.

83. CTG 61.2 to COMSOPAC and CTF 61, 071030 Aug 1942.