SERIAL 0666   1 NOVEMBER 1944
18 TO 24 OCTOBER 1944.

Serial (0666)
U.S.S. West Virginia (BB48)
c/o Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, California.

1 November 1944.
From: Commanding Officer.
To: Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
Via: (1) Commander Battleship Division FOUR.
(2) Commander Battleship Division THREE (Commander Battle Line).
(3) Commander Cruiser Division FOUR (Officer in Tactical Command) (Commander Task Group 77.2).
(5) Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject: U.S.S. West Virginia -- Report of Fire Support; LEYTE Island Operation -- 18 to 24 October 1944.
References: (a) Article 712, U.S. Navy Regulations.
(b) CincPac Letter 2CL-44.
(c) CTG 77.2 Secret Operation Plan 2-44.
Enclosures: (A) Chronological Record of Events.
(B) Comments by Commanding and Gunnery Officers.
(C) Statistical Record of Fires.
(D) Schedule of Bombardment.

  1. Enclosures are forwarded herewith in compliance with references.


cc: Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet (Advance copy)
CincPac (Advance copy)
ComGen 24th Corps APO 235 San Francisco, Calif.


19 October 1944.
0600 - Steaming into LEYTE Gulf. Numerous contacts have been reported during the night, all proving to be friendly.
0610 - Streamed paravanes.
0700 - Approximately 18 miles from bombardment station.
0746 - Launched planes for gunnery observation.
Weather not clear, but visibility good. Ceiling about 5000 feet.
0807 - GENERAL QUARTERS sounded.
0818 - Ship reported to be in condition ZEBRA, all battle stations manned and ready. About 8 miles from bombardment station. Speed 10 knots.
0907 - On bombardment station, all engines stopped.
0910 - Commenced firing, both Main and Secondary Batteries. Target for Main Battery was the Tacloban Air Strip. Target for Secondary Battery was a road intersection south of the Tacloban Air Strip. Distance to target about 7500 yards. Main Battery using HC reduced charge ammunition and Secondary Battery using AA Common Mk 18 Fuse. Firing to port. Target areas were shifted approximately every half hour. Heavy concentrated fire was directed at the White Beach Area, as a message was received stating that enemy defenses were very deep in that area and needed some special attention. No enemy aircraft sighted.
1100 - Air strike in progress over target area.
1120 - Gunfire from Jap positions on White Beach falling around UDT boats.
1207 - Eleven Jap bombers and 12 fighters reported to south of us, distance about 70 miles. Escort carrier planes broke up this formation and the Japs turned back.
1212 - Air flash RED.
1214 - Air flash BLUE.
1215 - Planes recovered, refueled, and sent back to gunnery observation stations.
1215 - Three casualties from UDT boat were brought aboard for medical attention.

Three sixteen inch salvos directed at DIO Island, from which enemy gunfire was observed. Direct hits.

1500 - UDT's going in to White Beach.
1553 - Air contacts reported intermittently.
1600 - Ceased firing. Planes recovered.
1600 - Underway to moved out of the San Pedro Bay area. To rendezvous with Task Group 77.2 U.S.S. Welles as screen.

278 rounds of 16" and 1586 rounds of 5"/38 were expended in the bombardment.

1900 - Unidentified contacts reports.

During the night several contacts made, all proving friendly or false.

This is a day.

20 October 1944.
0100 - Proceeding inside Leyte Gulf to bombardment station.
0545 - One type "OSCAR" attacked and was fired on.
0613 - Opened fire on an enemy plane, identified as a "VAL", bearing 060°T. No hits.
0642 - Launched planes for gunnery observation.
0700 - On bombardment station. Commenced bombardment with Main and Secondary Batteries. Target White Beach Area.
0900 - Ceased firing.
1000 - Troops began landing on White and Red beaches, with little opposition. Standing by for call fire.
1831 - Air flash RED, Smoke screen being laid down in Southern area.
1845 - Opened fire on enemy plane. No hits scored. Type "Unidentified."
1920 - Air is clear.
1925 - Anchored in San Pedro Bay.



Gunnery Officer's Comments and Recommendations on the Bombardment of Leyte Island from 18 to 24 October 1944.


    It was difficult for the gunnery department to properly prepare for this bombardment due to the inadequate supply of information. There were insufficient copies of bombardment and fire support plans and grid charts for the necessary officers. All Officers and a majority of the enlisted personnel were briefed a day or so before A-2 Day, and drills were held on the procedure for counter battery fire. Radar operators were especially instructed in prominent radar objects to be used.


    1. As points of aim could not be determined beforehand, the schedule of fire was based entirely on indirect fire for both main and secondary batteries. All firing was indirect method, except for two instances when both main and secondary batteries fired at Dio Island and a blockhouse in the vicinity of White Beach. Main battery plot maintained its own ship's track by use of the Mk 8 Mod 2 radar. Secondary plot received data from C.I.C. for the computer setup and control of fire. Both main and secondary plots controlled plane spotting communications on a common frequency. For area coverage, a definite point in the numbered grid was selected as a point of o open fire. The plane spotters either spotted to this point or a nearby target. When a "No change, No change" spot was received, plot then shifted the MPI to cover known targets in the area assigned, or the plane spotters designated a new target by grid coordinates or spot from last fall of shot.

    2. The ship did not enter Leyte Gulf on A-2 day, therefore the ammunition allowance for this day was assigned to A-1 day targets. The statistical record of fires for A-1 and A day is attached. It was not possible to maintain the time schedule of fire as laid down, nor to follow a fixed order of targets due to the interruptions by air strikes. The ranges of the assigned targets was so great that only the main battery could fire at White Beach during an air strike and keep below a 1000 foot maximum ordinate. All assigned areas were covered, but due to interruptions beyond the control of the ship all of the ammunition allowance was nod. Results observed were good.

    3. In the call fire phase on A day and thereafter, this ship stood by, but was not called on for call fire.

    1. This was the first bombardment of enemy held territory by this vessel and the officers, crew, and ordnance material performed excellently. The men in magazines and lower handling rooms suffered considerably from the heat and inadequate ventilation. Three men in the forward magazines were overcome by the heat and either fumes and had to be removed. Turrets could not be rotated in firing as desired due to: (1) The inability of the ship to maneuver in the restricted waters; (2) With both batteries firing at the same time at different targets, turrets had to be selected to prevent cross fire.

    2. it is recommended that each ship be given: (1) One or more additional copies of the operation orders and a minimum of twelve copies of all grid charts; (2) That some consideration be given to elimination of cross-fire between batteries when assigning target areas.

    3. In assigning positions for firing in shallow water and in areas where charts and surveys are incomplete, thorough consideration must be given to the possibility of grounding valuable ships. in San Pedro Bay ships always steamed at low speeds and proceeded carefully because of dangerous shoals near the assigned bombardment positions and the discovery of several uncharted shoals. Furthermore, one landmark on the chart discovered to be out of position making very cautious navigation necessary. The lead, fathometer, and bearing checks were sued continuously. Hydrographic ships did valuable work in buoying shoals. However, Mariquitdatquit light was left unlighted. It was used many times in approaching at night and in smoke screens and even a dim light thereon would have been extremely valuable. It is thought that the value of the light to our own vessels would have much overbalanced any use to the enemy.



Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation