Chapter XVIII
Further STALEMATE Support

Medical Plans and Facilities--Mail--Service Unit at Seeadler--With the Fast Carriers--Squadron Ten Prepares to Move

Every great military operation means casualties, and STALEMATE was no exception, so surgical and medical equipment had to be adequate to such a tremendous effort. Four hospital ships--Bountiful, Relief, Samaritan, and Solace--went to the forward area to assist in evacuation of the wounded. In addition, the transports Pinkney and Tryon, after carrying troops to the objective, served as casualty evacuation ships to Manus. The Rixey, similarly adaptable, was to have been used for Phase II, but when that plan was canceled she was diverted to the Philippines campaign. Army and Navy hospitals in the South Pacific were at Noumea, Espiritu Santo, Tulagi, Guadalcanal, and the Russell Islands. Other casualties were sent to Oahu. Newly erected facilities at Manus provided 1,000 beds for staging casualties ultimately destined for South Pacific hospitals, and another 1,000 at Kwajalein took casualties going to Oahu. WOunded sent to either of these rear areas moved by air or surface vessel, depending upon the urgency and condition of the cases. For those evacuated by air, arrangements were made in the staging areas to move approximately 250 patients a week.

The remains of those who died ashore in the Palaus were left for identification and burial by the Graves Registration Service of the landing force. When death occurred aboard ship, burial was conducted at sea or in deep-water areas off shore. After combat operations had ceased, the dead were generally sent ashore to Graves Registration, or in cases where a number of deaths occurred on hospital ships bound for rear areas these too were buried at sea.

For evacuation purposes, patients were classified under a color scheme:


Red, all serious cases and those requiring more than 2 months' hospitalization; Blue, men requiring more than 2 weeks' but less than 2 months' hospitalization; White cases that could be returned to duty within 2 weeks and which, so far as practicable, were returned to their units before hospital ships left the combat area. One such ship reported that if greater care had been taken in classifying types of casualties on the beach, many would not have been sent aboard hospital ships, diverting attention from the more seriously wounded.

A detailed procedure for transfer of the wounded from the beach to evacuating hospital ships was worked out, but of course varied with combat conditions. In general, however, all vessels except those designated to receive prisoners of war were fitted to accommodate casualties as follows: APA (attack transports), 150 stretcher cases and 325 ambulatory; AKA (attack cargo ships), 15 stretcher, 50 ambulatory; AP (transports), 75 stretcher, 200 ambulatory; LSV (landing ships (vehicle)), 50 stretcher and 200 ambulatory cases. Evacuation from the beaches was directed by the beachmaster of the landing force. He was authorized to place wounded in any of these ships' boats leaving the beach, for transportation to hospital ships, or if necessary to send out DUKW's, the famous amphibious trucks, to meet these ships at the line of transfer.

The Relief experienced some difficulty in embarking casualties during heavy seas on 27, 28, and 29 September at Peleliu and Anguar. On the 29th, swells were so high at Anguar that evacuation had to be suspended temporarily. The Relieffelt that LCT's or LCI's could have been used to advantage during this period, but none were available.

The transport Harris was one of many such ships which carried Army and Marine forces to the operation. As an APA she was also equipped to handle casualties during combat, and 23 September she participated in the occupation of Ulithi. Her utility did not end there, either. In addition to her medical facilities, which included an eye surgeon for serious cases, she furnished water and provisions to various smaller craft from 23 to 25 September, gave 21,000 gallons of fuel oil to the high-speed minelayer Montgomery, and transferred 8 LVCP's and 1 LCM to the Navy boat pool to remain at Ulithi.

The Bountiful and Samaritan sortied from Manus several days prior to D-day. Arriving off Peleliu 18 September, the latter immediately began embarking casualties, and left on the 19th for the Russells with 607 patients. On the 24th she went aground on Tauu Reef, with considerable damage to the ship but no personnel injuries. She was assisted to Renard Sound, Russell Islands, for disembarking patients and making


temporary repairs, and on 2 October docked in ABSD-1 at Espiritu for hull and engine work.

Solace and Relief went to Peleliu from Eniwetok. During August both had been at Pearl with casualties from the Marianas. On reaching Eniwetok the Relief helped to check the dysentery epidemic in the Ajax. The Solace embarked 542 wounded at Peleliu from 22 to 25 September and sailed for Noumea to discharge her casualties to Army and Navy hospitals. The Relief reached Peleliu 24 September, but did not begin loading until the Solace had reached capacity. On the 26th she received her first group from Peleliu and Anguar. Loading was dangerous on subsequent days because of weather conditions,but by the 30th she was under way with 690 cases which she discharged to hospitals in Noumea.

The transports Tryon and and Pinkney, the former with 1,323 troops and the latter with men of the First Marine Regiment, left from Guadalcanal 8 September, unloading troops and cargo no D-day, 15 September, remaining a few thousand yards off shore. That morning the Pinkney received her first casualties. On the 16th she moved from 6,000 yards off shore to 5,000 to relieve the Tryon, and discharged badly needed blood plasma on the beach while continuing to embark wounded. Both ships got under way on the 20th, the Tryon with 797 casualties, the Pinkney with 690. After discharging them at Manus, the 2 vessels loaded with dry stores and mine-sweeping gear and sailed for the combat area. Hospital ships meanwhile had taken on board most of the remaining wounded, so, after reloading assault troops, Tryon proceeded to the Russells 4 October with 1,309 passengers and 87 patients, the Pinkney with 1,339 troops and 81 casualties. The two reached Renard Sound, Russell Islands, on the 10th for disembarking.

Medical supplies for land-based forces for STALEMATE were stocked for 60 days. Resupply after return from combat was available at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Noumea, Majuro, Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Manus, and Pearl. All ships receiving casualties were to exchange with medical groups ashore as many stretchers,bunk straps, blankets, and metal or plywood splints as they received from the beach. Each APA was to land 40 litters, one-third of its supply of splints, and 40 life jackets with the beach party. Each stretcher patient, so far as was possible, was to have a life jacket for the shore-to-ship movement.

Evacuation from the beaches moved smoothly during daylight, but at night some difficulty was encountered in locating medical boats at the reef. It was felt that in the future such boats should carry night lights and be prepared to give more accurate bearings of hospital ships. Facilities


for Operation INTERLUDE (Morotai) included the Comfort and three other hospital ships, besides naval and military hospitals at Manus, Mios, Woendi, Hollandia, Finschhafen, Milne Bay, and in Australia. All ships stocked medical supplies to capacity, with resupply available at Manus, Finschhafen, and Brisbane.

Mail Facilities. Until post offices could be established ashore, a landing ship (tank) was assigned to each anchorage to serve as a fleet post office. Postal personnel and equipment were transported in the first garrison echelon and transferred to the various LST's at different objectives. Following the capture of Peleliu and Ulithi, post offices were established there to serve all forces.

Mail from the staging areas in the Central and South Pacific for Peleliu-Ulithi was shipped fast as transportation was available. To avoid betraying a ship's destination by her mail cargo, numbers were used by Navy and Marine Corps, such as Navy 3253, Peleliu Island; Navy 3011, Ulithi Atoll; Navy 3257, Anguar Island.

Recognizing that good service was essential to high morale in any military operation, Admiral Halsey recommended in his report on STALEMATE that (a) "The mail base must be the same as the fuel base; (b) CinCPac postal officer must cooperate and move the mail base only on request of the Fleet; (c) officer messenger mail, registered, air, and first class matter can be expeditiously passed at sea by AO's (oilers); (d) second and third class mail should be held at the mail base and transported to anchorages when groups are definitely en route to the anchorage; (e) shore facilities must cooperate in separating mail by task groups, and not loading over 75n pounds per pouch, and if possible, using a distinctive color tag for each group."

The Service Unit at Seeadler

Rear Admiral T.S. Wilkinson, commanding Task Force Thirty-one, ordered the Western Garrison Group, under Commander MacGowan for the capture and defense of Peleliu,Anguar, and Ulithi, to assemble at Seeadler. The 12 vessels, mostly merchantmen, including the Cape Georgia, Cape Stevens, Sea Runner, and Sea Sturgeon, with the cargo ships Matar and Lesuth, arrived on the 7th and 14th, and on the 15th of September departed for the Palau operation. A few days later 2 fast carrier groups came in for quick replenishment. The required levels of supply as prescribed by the fleet logistic plan for STALEMATE had been furnished Fast Carrier Task Groups 38.1-2-3-4 in August by Service Squadron Ten


at Eniwetok. From the end of that month they had made strikes in the Bonins, Carolines, and Philippines and were low in everything but fuel, which was supplied to them at sea.

First to arrive was Rear Admiral Davidson's 38.4--the carriers Franklin, Enterprise, Belleau Wood, and San Jacinto, cruisers New Orleans and Biloxi, and 2 destroyer groups, Squadron Six and Division Twenty-four, totaling 12 destroyers. On the 24th the force left Manus. Next to come was Task Group 38.1, Vice Admiral McCain, with the Wasp, Hornet, Cowpens, Monterey, Destroyer Squadron Forty-six and Destroyer Division Twenty-three--12 destroyers in all. These left 2 October, each group visit lasting only 4 working days, which was typical of previous visits at Eniwetok and subsequent stops at Ulithi, thus maintaining the tempo of the strikes and keeping unrelenting pressure on the Japanese. To conform to this tight schedule Captain Ogden's forces had to accelerate their already very busy support activities. This meant around-the-clock handling of ammunition, food, stores, aviation supplies, fueling, and watering, with the ever-present demand for boats to carry out the servicing and furnish such transportation of shore parties as could be fitted into the lay-over time. Multiplicity of details always confronted the service unit at times like this.

Attack, escort-carrier, and fire-support forces steamed back to replenish ammunition and stores, beginning late in September. On 2 October, 42 ships of TransDiv 32 entered Seeadler. The greatest number returning from Palau entered next, when 87 ships anchored. Captain Ogden was caring for the 348 ships already in port on 1 October, and this addition considerably increased the responsibilities and duties of service personnel. The transport flagship Harris, Captain M.E. Murphy, for example, which came in on the 2d, took 12,913 barrels of fuel, provisioned ship, and loaded cargo, on 7 October embarking 95 officers and 1,543 men of the Twelfth Regiment, First Cavalry Brigade, and left on the 12th to attack and seize Leyte as part of Admiral Fechteler's Task Group 78.2. Most of the others were similarly serviced, but the burden of extra boat work was eased somewhat for the transports, which used their own boats instead of relying upon the pool. Despite the strain of all the extra boats instead of relying upon the pool. Despite the strain of all the extra work, Captain Ogden and his assistants proved equal to the occasion and acquitted themselves in a manner bespeaking his fine leadership, shown not only here at Manus but later at Kossol Passage and Leyte Gulf.

All the STALEMATE forces--land, sa, and air--accomplished their respective missions on schedule, though at the cost of heavy casualties


the assault groups. With the exception of mopping up on Peleliu, STALEMATE was virtually completed after the seizure of Ulithi September 23. As was to be expected, the preparation and coordination of the plans proved the most important elements in success, with ships, planes and men brought from all Pacific areas, including the west coast, to be available at the crucial moment. The magnitude and complexity of the logistic problem was unparalleled, and made all the more intricate because of the delayed end of the Marianas engagement. With scarcely a breather after STALEMATE, FING II, the Philippines operation at Leyte, followed, with the fleet in furious activity.

With the Fast Carrier Groups

Vice Admiral Mitscher's Task Force 38, between 29 August and 27 September, conducted operations supporting the occupation of Peleliu and Anguar in the Palaus, Ulithi in the Carolines, and Morotai in the Moluccas. From Palau its Task Group 38.4 proceeded to Manus for bombs, fuel, and food. The rest of Task Force 38 steamed to the waters east of Luzon, then conducted the first carrier attack of the war on the island, including Manila. Afterward, all the task groups retired to replenishment bases--Task Group 38.1 to Manus on 29 September, 38.2 to Saipan 28 September, and 38.3 to Kossol 27 September. Before 38.1 reached Manus, 38.4 sortied operating in waters east of Palau until 5 October. At Saipan, logistics were handled by Squadron Ten Representative, Captain Forrest A. Rhoads.

Captain C.C. Laws, commanding the repair ship Prometheus, on 3 October became the Kossol Passage Representative of Service Squadron Ten. On 1 and 2 October, Task Groups 38.2 and 38.3 reached Ulithi, just after that atoll had been captured and before the arrival of logistic forces under Commodore W.R. Carter, Commander Service Squadron Ten. Besides the shortage of facilities, the difficulties of servicing the task groups at this time were aggravated by a typhoon. On the 5th, Task Force 38 began that phase of its operations preliminary to seizing Leyte, ending on the 20th. On the 7th the four task groups rendezvoused and next day took 290,000 barrels of fuel from Captain Acuff's oilers, and 367,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. Commander F.S. Gibson, commanding the oiler Platte, reported that fueling conditions were very hazardous, with moderate to heavy long and confused swells from the west and southwest. Three sections of hose were broken because it was


impossible to keep close positions in the heavy seas. Nevertheless the Platte persevered and despite adverse conditions and damage delivered 48,000 barrels of oil that day and met all requirements of ships coming alongside.

On 9 October, from a point about 600 miles southeast of their objective, all task groups commenced their high-speed run in toward Okinawa, and on the 10th launched aerial strikes against that stronghold. On the 11th, the fast carrier force (Task Force 38) made a dawn rendezvous with the fueling group (Task Group 30.8) and while steaming on a westerly course, took on 331,000 barrels of oil and 542,000 gallons of aviation gasoline. Planes lost in combat or operationally, were replaced from the escort carrier Nehenta Bay, attached to the oiler group.

After this fueling, all groups on the 12th and 13th launched strikes against Formosa, Japan's strongest and best-developed permanent base south of her islands proper. Formosa had never been hit before by carrier aircraft. Its antiaircraft batteries and defensive planes exceeded those of any areas struck thus far. With Japan only 700 miles away, stiff resistance was to be expected. On the 13th the heavy cruiser Canberra was torpedoed and taken in tow, and next day the Houston also was torpedoed. Commander Task Force 38 changed his operation plan to cover the retreat of the crippled cruisers, using them as a decoy to entice the enemy main fleet to come out.

Another refueling came on the 15th. This time Captain Acuff transferred by boatswain's chair and trolley from his flagship John D. Henley to the battleship New Jersey for conference with Admiral W.F. Halsey, commanding the Third Fleet, and returned 40 minutes later. In her war diary the Intrepid reported the day devoted chiefly to fueling and aircraft replacement. Alongside the Shuylkill for 3 hours 36 minutes, the Intrepid took aboard 9,543 barrels of fuel and 76,000 gallons of aviation gasoline, while from replacement carriers she took 5 fighter and 10 bombing planes. She also reported that "We are preparing to meet Japanese surface and carrier units who believe we are a fleeing crippled and disorganized fleet." During 15-16 October, Acuff's group issued 292,000 barrels of fuel and 726,000 gallons of aviation gasoline.

Squadron Ten Prepares to Move

With the landings of the Central Pacific forces in the Southern Palau group and of the Southwest Pacific forces on Morotai, the final barriers


to our assault on the Philippines had been pierced. Acquisition of the Palau Islands and of Morotai brought the Philippines within range of our land-based aircraft and pushed the Japanese back to their inner defenses. From them they had to hold the Philippines or be completely cut off from their captured territories in the East Indies and Southeastern Asia.

Expansion of air and naval facilities proceeded energetically at our recently acquired bases in the Marianas, but though this area provided small harbors, nothing could be used as a major fleet anchorage. For the berthing and servicing of the huge concentration of ships required for deeper thrusts into the Pacific, a large harbor farther west than Eniwetok was a necessity. The atoll of Ulithi in the Western Carolines, with its extensive anchorage area, was the choice as ournext advanced base for mobile support of the fleet.

Before describing Ulithi and outlining the difficulties of moving the squadron's equipment forward we must consider briefly the logistic situation in the Marshalls at the time.Eniwetok was the farthest west of the atolls of that group, and the most useful because of its closeness to recent operations. Kwajalein, more than 300 miles to the eastward and somewhat south of Eniwetok, was a flight stop for transport planes to and from Pearl. It had been important as a replenishing point in previous campaigns but was now fast becoming a rear area.

In preparation for moving to Ulithi, Commander Service Squadron Ten wished to draw all but a few service units from Kwajalein. There was some slight objection, but a definite expression of policy soon came in a dispatch from Commander in Chief Pacific Ocean Areas. This ruled that Squadron Ten, with its responsibilities for supplying the needs of the fleet, could not afford to tie up much equipment to service local small craft, and the sub-area commander must support such "splinter fleet" locally. Though the incident in itself was not grave, it indicated to doubters that with the advance westward of fleet operations, mobile support units must advance also, rear bases being reduced to a minimum consistent with actual needs or allowed to dry up altogether. The mobile support idea was opposed to the fixed support idea of constructing and developing large shore naval bases at great expense in time and money. These could not be readily moved forward with the fleet, and once left behind, became only costly monuments to those who had failed to grasp the correct over-all strategy. For best results, fleet action and its support had to go forward together, and promptly.

Preparations for the Move. Shifting a floating logistic center from


Eniwetok in the Marshalls to Ulithi in the Western Carolines imposed a variety of problems. First of all, the service squadron was composed of many different types of support craft. It was not homogeneous like a destroyer squadron, for instance, and the ordinary plan to proceed at high speed to the destination did not fit the circumstances. A number of the support craft were not self-propelled but had to be towed, not at 10, 15, 20 or more knots, which with zigzagging offered fair immunity from torpedoing, but 6 nots or less. At that crawling speed zigzagging offered no protection and merely slowed down the group. Second, the trip to the new anchorage was across more than 1,300 miles of ocean and the tows would pass within 180 miles of the Japanese island of Truk. Previous raids on that stronghold had forced the withdrawal of the Japanese fleet closer to its home waters, and so there was not too much fear of enemy surface action, though there remained some possibility of an air attack. Third, as this was the typhoon season, the forces of nature might impose an even greater threat than that of the enemy. But, all in all, the movement was a farily good calculated risk.

Some of the preparations involved hoisting LCVP's and LCM's. The former were of plywood construction and their light weight of8 tons presented no hoisting problem. But for hoisting an LCM weighing about 22 tons the ordinary 10-ton cargo boom available on most ships, would not do. Ships with heavier booms were kept busy lifting LCM's. Every type of ship possible was used to transport boats forward. Concrete barges with their large deck space were fairly good carriers, but skids and shoring had to be provided upon which th rest the LCM's. As the crockery fleet had no booms of sufficient lifting capacity to hoist an LCM aboard, it was necessary to shift the concrete barges alongside a Liberty ship or put a ship alongside the barge. This involved considerable shifting of anchorages and men, and the use of tugs. Concrete barges, because of their fragile construction, could easily be damaged by the impact of heavier ships against their fenders when coming alongside. Another difficulty with them was that until the very last they were busy issuing provisions and stores. Also, all last-minute services required the use of boats; they had to stop work sometime in order to be hoisted.

Hooking up the tows presented its own problems. The fleet, rescue and salvage tugs, and some others, were equipped for towing with their own wire and towing engines, but the cargo and other ships, particularly the Liberty and older ones, did not always have towing equipment and perhaps had never towed before. In some instances there was a reluctance to tow because of the reduction in speed and consequent greater


danger of submarine attack. However, Boatswain C.F. Scully of the operations department did excellent missionary work, visiting the prospective towing vessels and convincing each commanding officer that his type of ship had towed previously and that his ship could be safely used. The general reaction was that "if another can do it, wa can," and the operation was arranged.

Not counting boats, 110 craft had to be moved to Ulithi, ranging from the self-propelled types down through drydocks, lighters, barges, landing craft,and seaplane wrecking derricks. On 4, 5, and 12 October, 1944, the first convoys set out at the snaillike pace of 5 or 6 knots. Astern of the self-propelled nits were towed the open and covered barges, concrete barges, floating docks, and other non-self-propelled craft. Where possible all types carried boats and little harbor tugs. The larger harbor tugs made the voyage on their own power, and, acting as retrievers, could assist tug convoys. Wire rope and manila hawsers were very scarce in the forward areas, and much hard work and ingenuity went into the "hooking up" of a tow. Destroyers,minesweepers, and submarine chasers as available were used as escort vessels. Steam was up for the toughest voyage.


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