The war diary of Commander Fifth Fleet for 18 March 1945 contains the following notation regarding fleet support as action moved westward:
Support Activities at Leyte-Samar
Service Squadron Ten Main Body Moves to San Pedro Bay--Naval Bases on Leyte-Samar--Reorganization of Service Squadron Ten--Dysentery in Fleet Anchorage--Service Force Pacific Absorbs Service Force Seventh Fleet
"CinCPac advised ComFifthFleet that . . . development of the Leyte-Samar-Naval Base will proceed as a matter of highest priority to replace ulithi prior to the advent of the typhoon season; a major portion of ServRonTen and principal advanced base facilities will be retained at Ulithi until May and then transferred to Leyte-Samar . . . facilities at Ulithi ashore and afloat will be maintained for the support of merchant shipping, escorts, and occasional combatant units."
Following this, much earnest investigation, discussion, and thought were expended in determining the best anchorage area for Service Squadron Ten in the Philippines. The Gulf of Leyte was a very exposed area for the barges, boats, docks, and other paraphernalia of the squadron, yet it did not have open sea room enough for craft which would get under way to ride out a blow. Casiguran Bay on the east coast of Luzon seemed ideal in many ways. It was well protected by four- and five-hundred-foot hills to seaward--big enough, yet narrow enough, to prevent the forming of heavy swells. A survey party was sent to make a complete report on it, and as luck would have it a long Japanese plane made a pass at the vessel. When this was known the balance of high opinion turned against
using it, and San Pedro Bay in the Gulf of Leyte was selected, notwithstanding the favoring of Casiguran by Commander Fifth Fleet and Commander Service Squadron Ten. This decision was influenced considerably by the fact that we were already committed to building a large shore base on Samar in the Gulf, and did not want to divert any Seabees to Casiguran to construct an airfield there. The squadron commander felt that a jeep carrier could furnish the necessary cover, but it was felt by the high command that none could be spared. So the fleet anchorage was to be San Pedro Bay, Leyte.
For the first half of May there was an average of slightly more than 600 ships at Ulithi. Service Squadron Ten units kept busy servicing them. Dry provisions were issued by the concrete Lignite and other provisions ships and from three merchant ships--the Cape Ducato, Midwest Farmer, and Cape San Blas. Fresh and frozen came from the merchantman Matchless and the Lignite, while the Quartz issued general, small, and canteen stores. Many ships were served by the ammunition department, cargoes were consolidated, torpedoes overhauled, the Amador and Bluefield Victory made available for general issues at Leyte, the Shasta reloaded for Task Force 58, and 11 LST's sent to Kerama with bombardment ammunition.
Maintenance work continued at its usual heavy schedule. The repair ship Ajax made damage repairs to the Tennessee, the heavy-hull repair ship Jason made repairs and alterations on the Missouri, and other maintenance vessels, including the Mindanao, Tutuila,Vulcan, and Hector, carried their usual load. Merchant tankers arrived from the coast and the Panama Canal; fueling the fleet was a continuing job in port. Navy tankers came from at-sea fueling with remnant loads to be consolidated, and to have their tanks refilled from the merchant tankers, which sailed for more as soon as empty. The drydocks docked a never-ending stream of vessels, inspecting and overhauling sea valves, making rudder repairs, adjusting and repairing sound gear, and doing miscellaneous underwater work. The units included four 3,500-ton floating docks, ARDs-15-18-23 and 25, the 1,900-ton AFDL-32, and the 1,000-ton AFD-17.
In the midst of all that activity, towing convoys were prepared for transporting non-self-propelled equipment from Ulithi to San Pedro Bay. This also meant adjustment in scheduling of services after the departure of that equipment. The hooking-up of tows was not so worrisome and tedious this time as it had been at Eniwetok, for now more towing bridles, wire, swivels, and the like were on hand and more tugs
were available. The first towing convoy left Ulithi 7 May in 10 strings, each tug towing two service units, all valuable. It arrived in San Pedro Bay 13 May, the convoy commander, Commander G.S. Higginbotham of the U.S.S. Albert W. Grant, reporting the voyage "completed without incident, the weather clear except for light squalls, wind gentle to moderate, sea calm." This was ideal weather for the ungainly tows, for though the voyage was not so long as from Eniwetok to Ulithi, it was 900 miles at about 6 knots through waters even more dangerous from typhoons and enemy.
On 19 May another towing convoy departed--9 towing vessels with 2 service units each, 18 in all; 4 hotel barges, 3 concretes, a 3,300-ton ARD, a 1,000-ton drydock, 2 repair barges, an oil barge, and 6 barges of food and other stores. All reached the new base safely. Accompanying the tows and acting as retrievers in case of breakdowns or as dispatch boats for transfer of sick or emergency purposes were 4 YTN harbor tugs. There were also 2 garbage lighters, 1 gasoline barge, 1 oil barge, and 1 degaussing vessel. All arrived safely 24 May at San Pedro Bay.
Just as our towing vessels were more numerous and towing gear more plentiful than formerly, so our mooring facilities in Leyte were better. Captain S.B. Ogden, Squadron Ten's Representative A at Leyte, reported in his war diary for 22 May "considerable harbor work done in laying mooring and boat strings to receive boats and non-self-propelled equipment of Service Squadron Ten expected to arrive this area within a few days."
On the 21st, 10 merchant provision ships arrived from Ulithi, and on the 25th, 22 supply and ammunition ships and 5 merchant vessels.
On 27 May 15 more ships arrived from Ulithi, among them several of the big tenders and repair ships. Service Squadron Ten was almost ready to take on its full load again after transfer of its main body to a new base, without ever completely stopping service.
On 24 May Commodore Carter with some of his staff left Ulithi in the Ocelot, the former Yomachichi, built at Tampa in 1919 and taken over by the Navy and commissioned 2 October 1943 as a barracks ships. Before leaving, Carter designated Captain O.A. Kneeland, commanding the destroyer tender Prairie, as Representative Commander Service Squadron Ten at Ulithi and Administrative Senior Officer Present Afloat, to supervise activities there.
The Ocelot had one of the early Diesel installations and was not too reliable. At first all went well, but on the evening of the 27th the lubricating system of her main engine broke down and she dropped speed
The Ocelot--"Spotted Cat"--Carter's flagship.
from 10.5 to 7.6 knots. At 9:20 p.m. she had to stop to repair No. 2 cylinder of the main engine, and after 20 minutes went ahead at 8.6 knots. At 2:05a.m. she stopped again because of loss of lubricating-oil pressure and for an hour lay to, a sitting duck for any roving Japanese submarine that might have chanced upon her.
With the exception of the 100 percent cooperation of her officers and crew, it can be said here that the Ocelot was hardly the vessel the squadron commander would have chosen for his flagship. Commander Service Squadron Ten had the largest staff afloat in the Pacific, with several hundred ships and floating equipment under his operational control. The ship had been fitted out for flagship duties as far as her limited space and antique design permitted. The very large amount of radio and visual signal traffic the service job required had taken up much space topside and in the superstructure for radio and coding rooms, to say nothing of the berthing space required for personnel. The squadron commander, a group of his key staff officers, and their enlisted men took up more space. The flag office was in the forward hold. While it had some extra ventilation, it was not good, and at times personnel employed there had to knock off and go up on deck for fresh air. There was no clear deck space of any consequence topside, and the berthing spaces of everyone, including the senior officers, were small and hot. Though far from adequate, she had to be used. The squadron commander had to work with the tools at hand.
To lie broken down and wallowing at sea between Ulithi and Leyte was not a situation the high planners had visualized. The squadron commander, whose quarters adjoined the main exhaust, had been getting his sleep to the "huff and puff" accompaniment of the old engine, and it was not too restful. Now that the engine had stopped for repairs, a few minutes sounder sleep seemed likely. It was at this time, however, that the messenger of the officer of the deck reported the mishap and asked for instructions. The squadron commander's satirical reply to this almost unanswerable but sleep-disturbing query was "Get out the oars!" Somehow the sweating engineers patched up the damage, and after wallowing an hour, the Spotted Cat, as she was dubbed because of her camouflage, got underway again, reaching San Pedro Bay the next day.
Naval-Base Plans, Leyte-Samar Area. After three days of bombardment by Navy ships and planes, the initial landings had been made on Leyte Island in the face of light enemy resistance the morning of 20 October 1944. Within 24 hours, Tacloban, provincial capital of the province, and its adjoining airstrip had been secured. On the morning of the 22d, naval
headquarters for shore-based naval activities had been established in Tacloban in buildings which, prior to Japanese occupation of the island, had been the provincial hospital. Naval personnel were temporarily housed in abandoned warehouses fronting the municipal docks, and in houses in the hospital area.
Carefully worked out plans for the naval base in the area proved useless when it was discovered that about 80 percent of the land allotted to the Navy was swamp and rice paddies. An entirely new location had to be sought. Reconnaissance on foot and from the air revealed that the beach area from Basey, Samar, west, directly across San Juanico Strait from Tacloban, contained considerable acreage of promising land. By the time negotiations were completed for securing this section from the Army, the 75th and 105th Construction Battalions had landed at Tacloban. Their removal across the Strait was necessarily slow and laborious. By early November the rainy season had set in in earnest. Soil conditions were the worst imaginable; any kind of rock or gravel surfacing material was nonexistent. Commodore Angas, in charge of the 3d Construction Brigade, visited the area and said that the mud was "even worse than Cambododo," the south coast of Milne Bay where in developing the base 400,000 cubic yards of sticky water-soaked gumbo had been moved.
By mid-November it was evident that the rains would soon bring construction to a standstill. Jeeps, trucks, bulldozers, and other mobile equipment bogged down and frequently had to be abandoned because of the mud. Up to this time the Army had been able to develop only one satisfactory airstrip on Leyte, on Cataisan Point, Rear Admiral Wagner, Commander Aircraft Seventh Fleet, present in the seaplane tender Currituck, was insistent that a naval airstrip capable of taking heavy bombers must be built in the Gulf area as an absolute tactical necessity. The urgency of providing proper naval air facilities prompted an engineering reconnaissance of the southeastern peninsula of Samar, the Guiuan district, which was reported to have an abundance of live coral available for surfacing and road construction. The report of this reconnaissance was so encouraging that Wagner requested that construction of the airstrip begin immediately. It was also recommended to Commander Seventh Fleet that major naval-base construction be transferred to the same area.
On 9 December Admiral Kinkaid concurred, issuing a general order to that effect. Construction in the San Antonio-Basey district of Samar was abandoned and construction battalions camped there moved to the
Guiuan Peninsula as rapidly as possible. Subsequent survey parties developed the availability of Manicani Island for ship repair facilities, and of Calicoan Island for construction of docks and warehouses.
This complete change of plans made it evident that the main naval activities would be centered in the Guiuan region, but because of the limited number of anchorages in close proximity to it, it was equally apparent that a majority of the fleet units would continue to anchor in San Pedro Bay. Because of this it was decided to build limited naval facilities in Tacloban to provide some kind of service for them.
On Christmas Day, 1944, Commander Seventh Fleet established the U.S. Naval Operating Base, Leyte Gulf, and designated Captain S.B. Robinson as temporary commandant. On the same day naval activities around Guiuan were specified as U.S. Naval Station, Samar, with Captain R.M. Fortson as commanding officer. Naval activities in the San Pedro Bay area, including San Antonio, Samar; Tacloban, Leyte; and Tolosa, Leyte; were designated as U.S. Naval Shore Facilities, with Commander R.C. McIlvaine commanding officer. The airstrip on Guiuan was officially named Naval Air Center, Captain J.M. Shoemaker commanding.
The Naval Operating Base, Leyte Gulf, was to be a major base in the Philippines, so equipped and operated as to provide effective and adequate support and service to United States and Allied naval force operating in that theater: As a subordinate commander of Service Force Seventh Fleet, the commandant was directed to conduct and supervise in the Leyte Gulf area general services to the Seventh Fleet and attached units. To insure full coordination of all logistic facilities both afloat and ashore, they were placed under the commandant's operational control. He was designated Commander Task Group 72.7.
Support of Seventh Fleet Operations. The wary diary of Commander Service Force Seventh Fleet records that "Planning for the Lingayen operation, the largest invasion in the Philippine area, was begun as early as October 1944 . . . Initially, the invasion force was to be supplied from New Guinea and the Manus bases, with resupply established on a regular schedule from Leyte, Mindoro, and Lingayen in the days immediately preceding and following the invasion. In addition it would be necessary to fuel at sea practically the entire transport groups and their screens. These plans were all predicated on a target date of 20 December. However, the target date was later changed to 9 January, causing some slight modifications to the original plans. These modifications largely resulted in greater use of Leyte as a logistic and staging center for the operation,
but did not affect the intactness of the service force units previously set up to handle the logistic requirements of the operation. These merely remained at anchor, completely loaded, waiting for the new date. On 5 January these units started moving within the Philippine area. On 9 January the invasion took place and its success was immediately assured."
These are quotations to be remembered, for it is quite apparent that notwithstanding the plans for big base development and its mission, at the end of 22/3 months after the Leyte landings the facility was still of so little use to the fleet in its greatest amphibious operations to date as to be negligible. Had entire dependence for logistics rested upon the shore base facilities, the assault would have had to be postponed to a much later date. Fortunately the floating mobile logistics were available.
On 22 February 1945, Captain J.H. Jacobson--promoted to commodore 14 April--assumed command as Commandant, Naval Operating Base, Leyte Gulf. During the month, construction throughout the Gulf had pushed ahead through handicapped by weather, lack of construction-battalion personnel, continued to present a problem in housing, but makeship arrangements made it possible to provide some sort of shelter for all coming ashore. Assignment of the barracks ships APL-17 and APL-19 to Leyte Gulf proved of great aid in relieving the berthing situation at this critical time.
Welfare and Recreation. The fleet recreation facilities in Leyte Gulf were used to the full during June. The presence of numerous units of the Third Fleet--battleships, cruisers, carriers, and escort forces--increased the liberty parties beyond all previous records. At both San Antonio and Osmena Fleet Recreation Centers the fleet, to avoid congestion and yet give as many men as possible an opportunity to get off their ships, scheduled liberty parties in two shifts. The first arrived at 9 a.m. and left the area at noon; the second arrived at 1 p.m. and left at 5 p.m. San Antonio averaged 18,000 men daily, Osmena 26,000. The peak load at the new commissioned officers mess at Macarata was 4,000 officers.
Water. Ships watered at Balusao, on the northern coast of the Gulf. Here the fresh-water line was run out on piling to deep water, where a set of mooring dolphins permitted mooring for vessels loading water. The water itself was good and plentiful, but getting it was frequently attended by maneuvering difficulties. When getting clear of the dolphins with an offshore wind the tendency was for the stern to foul the
The Ponaganset loading fresh water at Balusoa Water Point, Samar.
dolphins or catwalks as the bow blew off. Nevertheless, in the week of 6 July 1945, 9,000,000 gallons of water were furnished from this source.
Construction of naval facilities throughout the area continued. There were 3,111 officers and 49,424 men shore based on 15 April and 4,055 officers and 58,167 men on 1 May. In May the big floating drydock ABSD-5, stationed at Manicani Island, began limited operations. On 10 June LST's 630 and 597 were the first ships docked at Samar in the YFD-21.
At Naval Station Samar, where Captain S.B. Robinson relieved Captain R.M. Fortson as commandant on 25 March, during June 88,977 long tons of cargo were discharged from War Shipping Administration vessels and 24,672 tons from Navy ships, a total of 113,649 long tons, while 74,309 long tons were loaded into ships and craft of all types. At Tacloban 2,106 tons were discharged and 544 loaded, a total handlingfor the area of 190,608 long tons.
When June ended there were 3,783 officers and 67,793 enlisted men at shore-based activities in the area, of which 2,831 officers and 58,604 men, including Seabees, were at the Naval Station, Samar. The anchor section had 645 officer and 2,626 men. Other naval shore facilities, including some Seabees and Receiving Station, took the remainder--307 officers and 6,563 men. The number of men ashore was not, however, a factor of usefulness. The Leyte Gulf development, most of which, as planned, was to be at Samar, on Manicani, and Calicoan islands and vicinity, was never of great usefulness to the fleet, which depended principally on floating facilities. In all fairness it should be said that this great shore development might have been worth its cost many times over if the war had continued and the Japanese had fought the invasion of their homeland foot by foot for another year or more. Might have been! If enemy action, typhoons and other unforeseen disasters had been great and the floating facilities suffered from them, the huge base and repair facilities might have developed to high worth. The plans included a huge supply depot requiring many acres of covered and open storage, needing three cargo piers 500 feet long, on 500-foot pontoon pier for seven cargo ships, and a jetty for five LCT's. The cold storage included twenty-four 6,800-cubic-foot refrigerators.
Facilities included a major destroyer repair base, ship repair department, wharves, berths for large floating drydocks, and a system of both fresh- and salt-water lines on Manicani Island. Near Guiuan was a large 3,000 bed hospital, a large receiving station, and the biggest motor-torpedo-boat base yet built. In addition to all these and many lesser
facilities, there were the airfield--which was always worth its cost--a very large amount of harbor improvement, and an advance base construction depot covering 80 acres for material to be used in still more bases. A tremendous amount of road was constructed,together with miles of piping and wiring for sanitary and electric systems.
Of all these facilities, involving so many men and so much effort and money, perhaps the one most necessary--or to put it more positively, the only one positively necessary except the airfields--was the great ABSD, the floating drydock for our biggest ships. After the battleship Mississippi-anchored off Hagushi Beach to bombard the Okinawa Japanese--was hit on the starboard quarter above the blister, she was put into the dock for repairs; a 33,000-ton fighting ship expertly repaired, almost at the scene of action, many thousand miles from her home port. Nearly 40 years had elapsed since such a thing had been done in the Philippines. The last time was when the old battleship Wisconsin (10,000 tons) was cared for in the famous Dewey drydock, and whose tow out to the Far East made naval history early in the century.
In preparation for strikes to be made in November 1945 against the Japanese homeland it was planned to base major fleet units at Eniwetok and in Leyte Gulf. The former had been a rear operating base ever since the fleet had based at Ulithi, but now with the prospective raiding and harrying of Japan's home coasts it was decided that Eniwetok was the place on which to base the fast carrier force, since it was not only just as near the objective as Leyte but would relieve the strain on large concentrations there, was pretty well out of the typhoon belt, and would make a shorter haul for commercial tankers from California and Panama. A new and larger service detachment was set up at Eniwetok in July 1945 to take care of this carrier force. A considerable expansion of its floating logistic activities was cut short by the enemy surrender.
Reorganization of Service Squadron Ten--Service Force Pacific Absorbs Service Force Seventh Fleet
The projected November operations were on such a vast scale, and the amounts and needs of the fleet were becoming so great, that it was first proposed that in addition to Service Squadron Six for at-sea supply,
two new service squadrons be established in the forward areas. These were to be independent in their assigned responsibilities and in dealing directly with any fleet commander in their fields of action. Consideration was also given to a northern invasion and a basing in the Kuriles. It was felt by some that the distance separating northern from southern activities would be too great for the commander of the service squadron to administer logistics properly in both spheres simultaneously; therefore another service squadron should be formed for the northern zone and put under an independent commander.
The Commander Service Force Pacific pointed out that some of the detachments of Service Squadron Ten were already separated by hundreds of miles but nevertheless operated successfully. Accordingly, the scheme was dropped for what appeared to be a better plan; namely, keeping Squadron Ten as over-all administrative organization with cognizance of all service-force activities afloat in the forward areas, but establishing subordinate operating units to be known as service divisions in place of the detachments then under Squadron Ten. There were four decided that Commander Service Squadron Ten should have besides his personal staff, administrative officers for supply, squadron operations, personnel, ammunition, medical, maintenance, and communications. Internal organization of each service division was to follow the general plan outlined for the squadron, each division commander having a staff consisting of a chief staff officer, supply, operations, personnel, ammunition, medical, maintenance, and communications officers, and a flag secretary. With such an arrangement Commander Service Squadron Ten instead of being tied to one specific location would be free to move, in his own flagship if he wished, from one anchorage or port to another, thus more closely following the logistics of all areas. This was the main advantage of the new organization which, after freeing the squadron commander from administrative duties at any one location, did not greatly differ from the previous organization except in names and titles.
The over-all mission of the squadron remained unchanged. On 1 July 1945 the new organization went into effect and the service divisions were actuated. Prior to this, Representatives A, B, C and D had been located respectively at Leyte, Kerama Retto, Saipan, and Ulithi. Upon the arrival at Leyte from Ulithi of the main body of the squadron under Commodore Carter, the detachment under Representative A had been absorbed by the main body, and some members of the representative's staff had been detailed to form a nucleus staff for the detachment being
built up at Eniwetok. Captain J.V. Query had been chosen as chief staff officer there.
The term "representative" had not been in wide favor. It had been adopted to give the officer in charge of a detachment a mail address. The alphabetical designation, though not perfect, was better than one involving a geographical identity or mail number might have involved confusion or delays in routing mail and freight. A place name in the title was also undesirable from a security standpoint. Though "representative" sufficed as an early term, it was not a proper title for a naval unit; the term "service division" was. The directive from Commander Service Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, dated 4 June 1945, ordered the new organization put into being, and it continued under his over-all administrative command. It was under the immediate supervision and operational control of Commander Service Squadron Ten, who in turn was a task-group commander under the fleet commander to whom he was assigned by Admiral Nimitz. The four Service Divisions were 101, 102, 103 and 104. The detachments, excepting the one at Ulithi, were changed to divisions as previously stated, each with a flag officer, his staff with needed additional personnel and equipment absorbing and complementing the current organizations.
Service Squadron Ten in July 1945 in preparation for its coming gigantic logistic mission was constituted as follows: Commodore W.R. Carter in the Ocelot; Commander Service Division 101 (Commander Task Unit 30.9.1), Commodore E.E. Duvall, Jr., also in the Ocelot in Leyte Gulf; Commander Service Division 102( Commander Task Unit 30.9.2), Commodore J.T. Acuff, who assumed duty 5 July 1945, in the Argonne at Eniwetok. Commander Service Division 103 (Commander Task Unit 30.9.3), Captain H.A. Houser, acting, in the Luzon at Saipan) Commodore Henry Harley relieved him 21 July); and Commander Service Division 104 (Commander Task Unit 30.9.4), Commodore T.J. Keliher, in the Hamul at Okinawa. No service division was assigned to Ulithi and the title "Senior Officer Present Service Squadron Ten," with code word for Ulithi, was given the commanding officer of the Prairie, Captain F.S. Gibson, who was acting in logistic matters for Commander Service Squadron Ten.
One of the first problems under the new organization was to get the squadron commander a flagship and separate his staff from that of Service Division 101, for the principal officers of each occupied the same
flagship which handicapped both organizations by limited facilities and crowded space. Furthermore, the squadron commander was not yet free to go where he felt he was needed, which was one of the principal purposes of the reorganization. Some trained key men had to be drawn from Service Squadron Ten for use in Division 101, and in order to maintain efficiency, some corresponding departments in both had to be held united until each had sufficient personnel and space to operate effectively alone. Coming at a time when such big efforts were in the making, this was particularly annoying to the squadron commander, who was anxious to have a smoothly working routine well started before it was necessary to support the fleet in Operation OLYMPIC, the intended invasion of Japan.
The flagship problem was not confined to the squadron commander. Two of the division commanders occupied vessels handicapped in their servicing by the congestion caused by the presence of the staffs; and because of the congestion, the staffs were not at proper efficiency. Exactly how this situation would have been overcome had the war continued was never answered. Doubtless a solution would have been found. At the time of the surrender, the old submarine tender Holland was being made ready as one flagship, though not an ideal one. She was really too valuable as a ship supplying services to be given over entirely to administrative duties. Other ships probably would have been chosen and assigned in time to meet conditions, even though at first some fretting was done.
In addition to the heat, normal logistic work and preparation for the "big show," the summer of 1945 brought more worry in the form of an outbreak of dysentery on ships in San Pedro Bay. A survey reported on 5 July that 956 cases had been treated during the previous 2 seeks and apparently cured, but that 715 were still under treatment, a total of 1,671 cases in 92 ships, with one death on the hotel barge APL-18. All vessels were put on a strict regimen. The following were some requirements: chlorination of all unboiled water for drinking or washing; sanitary control by medical officers over food and food handlers; no use of harbor water for cleaning purposes (which included washing down decks); and no swimming from alongside the ships.
On 1 August at Leyte, 29 ships reported 839 cases of gastroenteritis. Although diminishing, this was still 8 times more serious than the estimated norm of 100 cases. Six days later, with 1,400 ships present, 29 reported 599 dysentery cases. This relieved anxiety over a condition which had appeared on some of our large ships such as the large cruiser
Alaska and the Mississippi. The former reported 423 cases of this painful inflammation of the lining of stomach and intestines. The Mississippi had been quarantined 31 July and released 12 August. Between these these dates she continued her training under way in exercises in the Gulf and Philippine Sea for radar calibration and drone and sleeve target practice. It was logical that the better the training and the more men trained, the better a shortage due to illness could be borne. On 19 August there were 451 cases on 29 vessels, indicating a continued downward trend. By the end of the month, while still present in the Leyte area, dysentery was apparently under control. There were no more deaths.
During the first part of August the water of San Pedro Bay was foul. Large areas were covered by a mixture of garbage, trash, oil, and boxes, the latter a potential danger to propellers and the hulls of lightly constructed craft. This condition probably had some relationship to the epidemic of dysentery. Of the 1,400 ships of various types present, it is estimated that 1,050 required garbage and trash service; that is, if the refuse was not to be dumped overboard. This service could not be supplied, and consequently large amounts did go overside. Though the anchorage was very large, the relatively slight tidal movement of the water was not much help in carrying away the stuff. Only 3 garbage lighters and 3 LCT's were available, and as each had to make a 100-mile round trip per load, the situation for a time was uncontrolled. An estimate of the essential service called for 14 additional garbage lighters and 10 additional LCT's which were not available.
The digression made here on the subject of dysentery is because of the influence of health on military operations. The spread of the disease during July and August, and the possibility that it might adversely influence future operations, concerned fleet and unit commanders. Everyone remembered the case of the repair ship Ajax during the previous summer, with 195 of her men affected and two deaths. She was went on 9 September 1944 to Kwajalein, where she remained until 10 October, her services lost to the fleet. Fortunately this was not serious at that time. Later at Okinawa the situation called for every repair facility available, yet still we could not keep up with the battle-damage rate. The coming invasion operations would use every man and resource available, and any serious loss through dysentery or any other epidemic, might be more disastrous than enemy action.
Service Force Pacific Absorbs Service Force Seventh Fleet. Following the reorganization of Service Squadron Ten, the Service Force Seventh Fleet was reconstituted as Service Squadron Seven of Vice Admiral W.W.
Smith's Service Force Pacific Fleet, while remaining under Admiral Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet operational control. At this time Service Squadrons Three, Four, and Nine, formerly echelons of Service Force Seventh Fleet, were dissolved and reestablished as Service Divisions Seventy-one, Seventy-two, and Seventy-three, respectively, under the newly constituted Service Squadron Seven.
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