Walter Harding Carter

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VETERAN REMEMBERS

I AM A VETERAN OF WORLD WAR II

 

INTRODUCTION

WALTER HARDING CARTER

 

 

CHAPTER I

When I was 19 years old I lived in a little place called Port Richmond, Virginia, (now West Point, Virginia). In November of 1942 a few friends and I decided to volunteer to join the Navy. We went to Richmond, Virginia and spent the night in a hotel. I think it was the Jefferson Hotel. The next day we walked over to the recruiting office and some of us were accepted in the service and some of us were not. I was accepted in the Navy and I signed up for the duration of the War. I went on a train to Great Lakes, Illinois for Boot Camp. At Boot Camp we had to run around the base every morning before breakfast and we cleaned the barracks. We had wooden floors and we had to get the black marks off the floors and we scrubbed the floors with steel wool and if we did not get the floors clean by meal time we had to get up earlier the next day to get them clean. We slept in hammocks. The hammock was made out of canvas with ropes. It was hung on about 4 inch pipes about four feet off the floor, the hammock was pulled tight so it would not sag. You had to put a mattress, pillow, sheets and cover on the hammock. Then you had to open it up to get in it to sleep. It was hard to sleep on. Most of us fell in the floor several times. You were not allowed to sleep on the floor; you had to sleep on the hammock. We took immunization shots. We took shots in both arms. My right arm got so sore I had to lift it with my left arm to put it in my pea coat sleeve. We had to keep our barracks clean, our uniform had to be correct and we had to salute the officers and salute the flag. If we did anything wrong we were punished. Sometime for our punishment we had to get our sea bag and walk up and down the side walks or sometime we had to work in the mess hall. We had to stand watch. While we were in boot camp, I remember going on liberty and taking the train into Chicago, Illinois. After we finished boot camp, we came home on leave. We reported back to boot camp and got our orders. Some went other places but I went to San Pedro, California and stayed there until I got my orders to report to the U.S.S. SANTA FE CL60. While I was at San Pedro, California, I went on liberty and went to Long Beach, California. I saw William and Sonny Hooper in Long Beach. They were both from West Point, Virginia and had joined the service, William was in the Navy and Sonny was in the Army.

In the early part of 1943 we reported to the U.S.S. SANTA FE. The SANTA FE was built as a fast moving cruiser; she had twelve 6-inch rifles, and anti-aircraft protection with 8 barrels of 5-inch, 40 millimeter and 20 millimeter guns. She was a fast moving task force unit. The U.S.S. SANTA FE had rare Spanish-American coins placed beneath the main mast. Some of these coins were from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Miss Caroline Chavez christened the SANTA FE with water from the Santa Fe River, which had been blessed by the Archbishop.

When we got on the ship we did not have to sleep in hammocks anymore, we had bunks to sleep on. These bunks were on the wall and at night you opened your bunk and slept on it and in the morning you put the bunk back against the wall. We had rules in the mess hall. You could put what you wanted on your plate, but you had to eat everything that you put on your plate. The SANTA FE had no women on board.

The U.S.S. SANTA FE sailed from Long Beach, California to Pearl Harbor. We reached Pearl Harbor on March 23, 1943. When we sailed into the Port of Pearl Harbor we could see some of the damage that had been done to the United States ships on December 7, 1941. We went on leave and walked on the beach. Walked through the town and we went to a ranch and we rode horses. We left Pearl Harbor and we anchored in Kuluk Bay, Adak, Alaska. The next day we headed west and began going through the never-tobe-forgotten Aleutian fog. The first war mission of the SANTA FE was a shore bombardment of Attu on April 16, 1943. The following day Tokyo Rose announced that a battle ship of the SANATA FE class shelled the Island of Attu. In May and June we had to patrol around Attu. U.S. Troops landed on Attu on May 11th and this cruiser force was necessary to intercept any Japanese attacks. During July and August the patrol was shifted to Kiska to soften it up before the invasion. We bombarded Kiska on July 6 and July 22. On August 15, 1943, the SANTA FE was covering the troops wading ashore at Gertrude Cove, Kiska. With some relief we learned that the Japanese had somehow completely left Kiska. From Kiska we went to Adak. After returning to Adak, the SANTA FE was to report to CinCPac at Pearl Harbor.

When we returned to Pearl Harbor, after being in the Aleutian Islands, we went on liberty. We went to the Nimitz Recreation Center and drank beer. We went to the hula shows and we bought grass skirts as souvenirs.

In September 1943 we were in Pearl Harbor. On September 17, after days of intensive drills, the task force 15 which included the SANTA FE started toward Tarawa, a little Island in the Gilberts near the Equator. Early the next morning all hands were at General Quarters watching the red and green lights of the planes of the first strike. The Air Strike lasted all morning long on September 18, 1943. The first carrier raid had been a success and we headed back to Pearl Harbor to await orders.

September 18, 1943 was the first time I had been across the Equator. With the Captain’s announcement “Stand by for a bump when the Equator is reached”. Shellbacks broke out razors and scissors, and immediately set to work carving out the undeniable badge of the Pollywog, the partly shaved scalp. All of us had to go through this initiation whether we were officers or not. We all had our hair cut, some in baldy-cuts. This hazing went on all day long. We had to kneel to King Neptune, bow at the Queen’s feet, drink from the Royal Baby’s bottle, and kiss his belly. The Dentist gave us a mixture of soap, quinine and Diesel oil as a mouth wash. We had to crawl through an airplane target, which was a long canvas chute filled with garbage, oil and bilge water. While we were crawling through this chute the Old Timers were on both sides hitting us with paddles. After we had passed all of these tests, we were given a certificate of King Neptune’s Domain. We were than called a shellback and we did not have to go through this again.

We were at Pearl Harbor in October. From Pearl Harbor we went to Wake Island. On October 5, 1943 we began shelling the enemy defense installations. After about an hour this small Island was an inferno of raging explosions and fire. The following day the planes bombed again. Then the SANTA FE headed back to Honolulu.

The SANTA FE became a part of the Fifth Fleet on October 13, 1943 at Pearl Harbor. The Fifth Fleet was on its way to the Central Pacific. The SANTA FE headed north to Bougainville. The transport groups that were to send reinforcements were there at sunset. At dawn on November 8, the Marines were sent ashore. That evening a lone Japanese snooper saw the Marines and the ships and gave the ship’s location to every Nip south of Tokyo. That evening about 30 to 35 twin engine “Bettys” made an attack with bombs and torpedoes. When a torpedo is shot at your ship, you have to turn the ship to avoid being hit broad side or you have to go straight into it so if your ship is hit, the torpedo will bounce off your ship. Every ship in the group let loose with its anti-aircraft guns until finally they lost so many planes they left. At this time I was in the lower handling room sending up ammunition to the upper handling room so they could send it up to the gun mount to be fired. Then about mid-night these planes came back. Our ships guns sent them blazing into the sea one after another. One flaming plane passed over the SANTA FE so close that its torpedo rack fell on the main deck. .

After Bougainville the SANTA FE came back to the Gilberts for the invasion of Tarawa to support the second Marines landing. Before dawn the SANTA FE was bombarding the island as amphibious troops got into landing craft for the first invasion of Japanese territory in the Central Pacific.

After two hours of steady shelling the Marines went ashore. Sniper and machine gun fire killed a lot of the first wave. The SANTA FE closed to point blank range for call fire. Many pill boxes made of concrete about seven feet thick and these costal defense guns were shelled. The only way to get rid of these guns in the pill boxes was for the Marines to go in with torches called flame throwers and burn them. The Marines went in and destroyed the guns in the pill boxes. This 72-hour battle for Tarawa cost over 3,000 in casualties. After the Marines took over Tarawa there were very few palm trees left standing on the Island.

After Tarawa was in the hands of the United States, the SANTA FE went north to make an air strike on Kwajalein on December 4th and 5th. After this air strike on Kwajalein in the Marshalls, we returned to Pearl Harbor.

The SANTA FE arrived at Pearl Harbor on December 11, 1943. We stayed there for two weeks. New Radar equipment was put on board. We were ordered to pick up the Kwajalein Invasion Convoy and escort them out. On January 2, 1944 we were at Terminal Island, U.S.A. The ship turned and went out to sea again for battle practice maneuvers. We came in to Long Beach on January 3, 1944. Then we had liberty; we had to sail on January 13, 1944.

On January 30, 1944 we bombarded the Island of Wotje. We left Wotje during the night and went north to arrive At Kwajalein at dawn the next morning. The bombardment started immediately we shot high explosive shells over and over again. I was stationed on a five-inch gun mount. Later a spotting plane that had been circling overhead dropped a cluster of flares, and the shells were lifted to a point a few yards up from the water’s edge; then the troops landed behind the curtain of fire and advanced up the island. Kwajalein was liquidated by February 2, 1944. On February 16, after three days of cruising the force ran in and launched six strikes unopposed on the Island of Truk. That night was etched with tracer patterns as all ships beat off low-level torpedo attacks. The task force’s total score for this one raid was 250 planes destroyed; 18 ships including two cruisers, sunk. At dusk on the twenty first a “betty” was spotted as it sneaked away. The Task Force moved toward Saipan and just after dark the battle started. All night long the bogies went down in flames ignited by our bullets. At sunrise the first strike was launched as the guns were still blazing.

The SANTA FE got one ‘Betty” headed directly toward the ship. This plane exploded so close to the SANTA FE that the flash would burn you.

On February 26 the ship anchored at Majuro. The following week the SANTA FE went to Espiritu and joined Admiral Halsey’s Task Group. On March 20, 1944 the force covered the invasion of Emirau Island.

On March 29, 1944, the SANTA FE was near Palau and Japanese torpedo planes attacked from sunset until late that night.. No ships were damaged, but we did destroy several enemy planes, after these strikes we went to Yap and were under a heavy five-hour air attack Then we went to Majuro.

On April 13, l944, the SANTA FE left Majuro and went with Task Force 58 to New Guinea for the invasion of Hollandia. On April 21 the carriers launched air strikes to cover Hollandia. That afternoon a friendly plane was reported forced down off Wakde Island. The SANTA FE sent two seaplanes to possibly rescue the plane. The seaplanes landed near Wakde and rescued the pilot and crew of the plane, which had been shot down that morning by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. The SANTA FE only carried three seaplanes, which had to be launched off the ship. These planes could land on the water and take off. These seaplanes had to be put back on the ship with a crane and put in position so they could be launched again.

The night of April 21-22 the SANTA FE and company were temporarily sent from the carrier task group to support a bombardment of the air installations on Wakde and Sawar. On the morning of the April 22, the SANTA FE and company opened fire and sent over 10,000 rounds of five and six inch shells into the installations on Wakde and Sawar on the mainland. The bombardment was done by radar because the land could not be seen from the ship. The group then returned to the carrier force. At dawn on April 22, 1944 MacArthur’s forces landed at Hollandia and Aitape.

On April 26 the SANTA FE with the rest of the force left Hollandia and went to Manus Island to refuel and to get supplies. The fuel was brought to the ship by a tanker. We helped hook the hoses up and the tanker pumped it over to our ship. The supplies were brought to our ship by barge and lifted on our ship with a crane. We all helped with the supplies and put them in storage. We left Manus and crossed the International Date Line on April 29. The next day, which was another April 29, we launched an attack on Truk. On April 30 we also had additional strikes against Truk and Satawan. On May 1, 1944 we struck Ponape with air attacks and a bombardment.

We came to Port in Majuro. When the SANTA FE was in port we would paint and repair the ship. Provisions came aboard at all hours. If we were looking at a movie we had to stop and get the supplies aboard the ship. The crane on the ship hoisted ammunition aboard from morning until night. We all removed it from the cargo nets and carried it to the magazines. Each evening 300 men and 3 cans of beer each, were taken to the Island for a few hours of relaxing. We could sit on the beach, go swimming, and play ball or search for seashells.

On June 6, 1944, the SANTA FE left Majuro and was still assigned to the Task Force 58.

Beginning June 11, 1944, we had daily air strikes against Saipan, Tinian and Guam. We were shooting at planes on their runways and also to weaken the island defenses. By June 16 we knew that a large Japanese surface force was approaching. On June 19, 1944, our carrier planes began shooting their planes. This was to be known as the First Battle of the Philipine Sea. From early that morning the Japanese forces launched an all out air attack on our forces. By evening our CAP had shot over 400 planes, this was the largest number of planes shot for any one day of the war. This day was called “Marianas Turkey Shoot”. A few of the Japanese dive-bombers did get through but they were shot down or they dropped their bombs in the sea.

On June 20, our planes were sent to strike the Japanese fleet. Most of the planes had to return to the ships at night and there was no moon shining. The SANTA FE and all other ships turned on every light they had and fired star shells, but still plane casualties were high. Destroyers went rapidly to places where a plane’s running lights had disappeared into the sea and a great many of the personnel were saved. This attack was a success for it had left the Imperial fleet’s carriers crippled and no longer a threat to the Marianas’ Landings.

On July 4, 1944, the SANTA FE sometimes called the LUCKY LADY with Task Force 58 went to Iwo Jima for a bombardment. This bombardment demolished over 75% of the buildings on Iwo Jima and hit most of the airplanes. During this time our spotting plane was attacked by 3 Zeros. The radioman gunner shot down one of the three before the SANTA FE’s riddled plane was forced to land. A rescue destroyer picked up the crew from the water, and they were thankful to get back. The radioman was shot in the leg.

On July 5, 1944, there was a Task force strike on Pagan. We had to get refueled at sea. From July 6 to July 21, we launched daily air strikes on Guam and Rota. After that we moved south for more air strikes against Yap, Woleai, Ulithi and Palau. On July 28, the SANTA FE came with the carriers to the Marianas anchoring off Saipan on August 2.

On August 4, the search planes saw a Japanese convoy leaving Chichi Jima. Planes were immediately launched from the carriers to attack the enemy units. After about five hours the DD’s in an attack group sighted and sank a small oiler and a vessel similar to an LST. This group was ahead of the cruisers. At about seven thirty a third ship was sighted and identified as a Japanese destroyer. The SANTA FE and other cruisers opened fire immediately. The Japanese destroyer returned accurate fire, but light. After about an hour the destroyer sank. The survivors identified the ship as the destroyer MATSU . The cruisers saw a cargo ship and they sank it. The units then searched north and east but found no more of the convoy.

On August 5, 1944, the cruiser and destroyer group, including the SANTA FE headed toward Chichi Jima. After several plane attacks were driven off with anti-aircraft fire, the group formed into a bombardment position and bombarded Fukamito Harbor. Enemy fire was accurate and one shot splashed close aboard the SANTA FE’s starboard quarter, but the shore gun was destroyed before any damage was done. The “cease fire” was ordered and we headed for port. The SANTA FE arrived at Eniwetok.

While the SANTA FE was in Port at Eniwetok Island some of the men were given liberty. To get to the Island the men got off the SANTA FE and got into a small boat to take them to shore. When the men were in the small boat they thought the Island was closer than it was and they were in a hurry to get to shore, so some of the men jumped off the boat to swim to shore. There were about five men who were not able to swim to shore. These men drowned and they were taken back to the SANTA FE for a burial at sea.

On August 8, 1944 I was with a group of sailors in the bottom of the front of the ship getting out paravane gear to put out for mines, the paravane gear would destroy the mines before the mines could hit the ship. While we were getting out the gear, the ship rolled and a steel table that had not been lashed down fell over and hit me. The table weighed about three hundred pounds. I realized that my foot was hit so I took off my shoe and I found out my toe was crushed into my sock. I had no feeling in my left leg. Another sailor saw this happen and immediately helped me hop to Sick Bay. My left great toe was badly crushed and was bleeding freely from three lacerations, one along each side and a large irregular one across the tip in such fashion that the end of the toe was “duckbilled”. The nail was held on by a shred of tissue. There were visible bone chips in the large wound and X-ray revealed a crushed facture of the proximal phalanx. Other than the maceration of the wound edges, the wound was relatively clean.

Treatment: Under local anesthesia, the wound edges were trimmed and cleaned and all loose bone chips removed. Sulfanilamide crystals were freely dusted into the wounds and they were closed with interrupted dermal suture. The toe was then dressed and splinted. Healing was slow and complicated by a sloughing and low-grade infection of the distal.

From August 8 until September 12, I stayed in bed most of the time and every time I tried to get up and walk on crutches, my foot would swell up and I had to get back in bed and elevate my foot. On September 12, 1944 I returned to duty under treatment, because I still could not stand up for very long periods. My foot never got well and I still feel the pain from the bony spurs in my foot today.

The SANTA FE along with cruisers, Destroyers and the rest of the group made up task force 38 and they left Eniwetok on August 30, 1944. We had gunnery exercises and the Ancient Order of the Deep ceremonies and then the Third Fleet launched strikes against the Palau Islands on September 6th and 7th. On the 9th an enemy convoy was sighted. This convoy was attacked by the carrier aircraft on their first flight over Mindanao Island. The SANTA FE and group were detached from the Third Fleet and sent to attack the remaining 22 ships, which attempted to hide in Bislig Bay north of Sanco Point on Mindanao Island.

The SANTA FE fired over 1500 rounds of 6 inch, 5 inch and 40 millimeter guns and sank four of the 15 ships she fired upon in this two-hour battle. The rest of the ships were left burning. The Japanese craft did not damage the SANTA FE group. Air strikes were continued against Mindanao Island on September 10th.

Air strikes were continued against the Visahyan area on the 12th through the 14th while we were near Dinagat Island. The same day more battleships joined the Task Group.

An enemy bomber come over the ships and attempted a suicide mission to destroy a ship, but he missed and landed in the sea.

During this time we had to fuel the ship, continue fighting, receive mail and bury the dead. When we buried the dead we all came to the deck to show our respect and we had a service for each sailor. We placed a flag over the body; we had eight pallbearers to lift the body into the sea.

The SANTA FE’s two King fishers, which we call our seaplanes, went into enemy held territory to the Camotes Islands where they rescued two aviators that had been shot down, and these aviators were in the care of friendly Filipino guerillas.

The Task Force Provided air support when the Marines went ashore on Pelelieu Island then on the 21st the SANTA FE with the Task Force went toward Luzon to provide air strikes against Manila.

After the first part of the Philippine fighting, the SANTA FE was anchored in Kossol Passage, Palau Islands. This was close to the Japanese forces on Babelthaup and the SANTA FE had to keep moving so the Japanese would not know where we were. On the first of October 1944 the Task Group went to Ulithi, a Caroline Atoll, and this became the base of future fleet operations,.

The sailors aboard the SANTA FE had many duties when we were at sea. We started the day with reveille an hour before sunrise (about six O’clock). Almost any time we would have – alert general quarters – which meant to get to our battle stations. We had firing anti-aircraft sleeve practices, fueling the ship every few days, receiving operation plans and receiving official U.S. Mail from a destroyer.

The Gunner’s mates would guide the cargo net of ammunition to the proper place on deck. We had to clean our guns after firing them. There were standing condition III readiness watches, taking part in special training exercises, launching and recovering “Gooney Birds” (these were the sea planes on deck). We had the responsibility of rigging a towing spar for surface firing practice. We had cleaning and maintenance work and training programs set by the Ship’s Plan of The Day. These were some different duties we had to perform.

During October, we made air strikes against the Philippines and proved that the carriers could successfully attack places protected by land based planes, and could also defend itself against the planes. Landings were planned for Leyte in late October.

The SANTA FE went from Ulithi October 6 with Task Group 38.3 and a few days later made an all out air strike against Okinawa. From Okinawa we went to Formosa and the Pescadores hitting them with heavy air strikes. That night on the twelfth of October, the Japanese sent out their torpedo bombers. The Task Force ships opened fire and the Japanese planes burst into flames. When the battle was over that night the Task Force had suffered no damage.

On Friday the thirteenth the carrier planes were back over Formosa and the Japanese waited until dark to attack. The Japanese hit the CANBERRY with a torpedo in the bottom of her ship. She immediately asked for a tow and was assisted. The group of the SANTA FE, BIRMINFHAM, MOBILE and six destroyers were to escort and protect the CANBERRY which was being towed at about three knots. All night the ships were busy trying to fight off the Japanese raids. The SANTA FE kept the CANBERRY covered with stack smoke so the planes would not see her and also managed to destroy one more Japanese plane. On the 14th the HOUSTON was hit by a torpedo and had to be towed. The BOSTON was towing the HOUSTON and they were ordered to join the SANTA FE and her group.

At this time the Tokyo Radio broadcasts were boasting of how they had defeated the U.S. Fleet and claimed the sinking of 20 carriers. Then the SANTA FE began to send out plain language radio messages to give away the “Blue Fleet’s” location, so the enemy planes would attack. Heavy enemy planes took the bait, but just as they were about to come close, the enemy watch planes discovered the Carrier Task Force and the Japanese Navy turned and ran from the very ships that it boasted they had sunk.
 

On the sixteenth the SANTA FE took on part of the HOUSTON”S crew, these men had been picked up from the water by another ship after the HOUSTON was torpedoed. Throughout the day, our group was number one target for the Japanese air strikes. No Japanese planes got through until evening when a Francis came through the barrage and torpedoed the injured HOUSTON.

Just a few minutes later the SANTA FE was the target of a Japanese torpedo bomber. All of the ship’s guns opened fire, the 5 inch, the 20 and 40 MM were firing but still the Japanese bomber launched a torpedo at the SANTA FE, a moment later the plane burst into flame and the pilot did a wing-over trying to crash dive into the ship. All aboard including the survivors of the HOUSTON braced themselves for an explosion. Under full rudder the ship turned sharply to port, bringing the bow further from the fiery gasoline laden plane and swinging the stern out of the path of the torpedo. The torpedo exploded harmlessly in the water. During this time I was in the 5-inch gun mount with some other sailors The Japanese plane was so close to the ship’s bow that the men operating the 20 MM guns were severely burned by the spattering, flaming gasoline. In this group there were five Marines that got burned badly. These men were placed in the Captain’s lounge on sheets, lying on the floor. They were burned so bad their flesh was black. They were treated for these burns. I thought they would never recover from these burns. Later when I saw them they had healed and I didn’t see any marks on them. I was surprised that they looked so good.

I will tell you about the gun mount that I was in. We shot the 5-inch guns. The ammunition was stored in the lower handling room and when it was needed it was sent to the upper handling room. The guns were setting on the main deck and the upper handling room was just below the guns. There was a spade-man to pull a lever to put the spade down, a powder-man to put in the powder and then the shell-man put in the shell and he pulled a lever and then the gun was ready to fire. Sometimes the guns were set on automatic and some time they were fired manually. If we were shooting at airplanes the guns were elevated high and when the guns were fired sometime the powder can would come back into the gun mount and the sailor with asbestos gloves on would grab the hot powder can and throw it out of the chute.

The SANTA FE turned her attention to the HOUSTON, which had been hit two times. When the smoke cleared away you could see how much damage had been made to her main deck. She had an added list in front, but the men doing repairs kept her going and we did not have to reduce the slow towing speed. There were attempts that afternoon to finish sinking the HOUSTON and the CANBERRA. The CABOT and the COWPENS kept the planes from getting through.

October 17, 1944 was spent taking portable pumps to the HOUSTON, water to the CANBERRA and fuel to two Destroyers. Japanese planes were spotted that evening, but friendly planes kept the Japanese from reaching the Task Group. Late that afternoon the HOUSTON survivors were transferred from the SANTA FE to a Tanker. After the survivors were transferred the SANTA FE was ordered to return to her original Task Group 38.3

 

These days of protecting the crippled ships had been hard for the SANTA FE. We had to spend long hours in cramped general Quarters Stations waiting for and fighting off enemy bombers and we had to watch out for submarine attacks on the slow, crippled force. We had extra fueling to do and we had to care for 200 extra men. That was all over and now we were headed northwest to join the Task Force 38.3 and prepare to invade the Philippines.

 

WALTER HARDING CARTER

 

SAILOR 1945

 

 

 

U.S.S. SANTA FE 1945

 

 

CHAPTER 2

October 23, 1944 was the beginning of the second battle of the Philippines. The SANTA FE was in a Task Force within the Third Fleet. An enemy surface force was sighted. We knew they were going to strike and at about mid night the first planes began closing in and all hands to their battle stations was called. The planes stayed all night, but they stayed out of firing range most of the time at about 20 to 25 miles away.

The next morning search patrols were launched and they saw about 40 planes and as the planes were taking off from our ships, another 30 enemy aircraft were spotted. With so many airplanes in the air the radar screen could not be depended upon and visual sighting had to be used. The anti-aircraft guns, the five-inch, 40 and 20 MM, were being fired continuously. It was hard to tell friends from the enemy. The men in the lower handling room felt a bit of relief when it was discovered these planes were dive-bombers and not torpedo bombers. One of the dive-bombers dove at the HEALY and just missed it. Another dive-bomber hit the PRINCETON on her hangar deck and she had to drop from the formation. THE BIRMINGHAM tried to rescue the PRINCETON by pouring streams of water into her. Suddenly the PRINCETON blew up violently causing both boats to have hundreds of casualties. While this battle kept going on, the ESSEX and the LEXINGTON sent out search planes and discovered the Japanese planes were carrier based planes and they were approaching from the North.

About noon while we were busy with launching and recovering operations, another group of Japanese planes began to attack. The sky was full of planes. We launched more planes and two raids were broken up, but one group of enemy planes got through and into the formation. Three dive-bombers got through and a torpedo bomber made a run; The SANTA FE port and starboard batteries opened fire. The ships in the formation turned, zig-zagged, evaded, and luckily no hits were scored.

Our search planes made contact and reported a Japanese Carrier force of about 26 ships about 190 miles northeast. Halsey made a decision to leave San Bernardino unguarded so that we could attack this new group. His plan called for early morning air strikes from all of the Task force 38, he wanted the surface vessels to go ahead of the carriers and finish off anything that was left. The plan seemed perfect. The Japanese were only 44 miles away; the first strike had good hits over target. Just as we were going to finish off this group, a third Japanese fleet was sighted back in San Bernardino Straits. As soon as this was known, the main striking forced of the Third Fleet made a 180 degree turn to return to San Bernardino and counter this new Japanese fleet.

The SANTA FE was given tactical command of a cruiser destroyer group, that group was the MOBILE, WITCHITA, NEW ORLEANS and 12 destroyers. This group was ordered to go North and catch and sink any damaged ships. Two carriers had aircraft that stayed and continued to fight the enemy. A surface craft was picked up by radar and soon a Japanese carrier could be seen. No planes could be seen on the Japanese carrier but the crew was still on board. As soon as the Japanese carrier came in range all four cruisers opened fire. With steady fire from the guns from the four cruisers, the Japanese carrier later identified as the CHITOSE capsized and went under.

As soon as the Japanese carrier had gone down, the cruisers continued on. A LANGLEY plane sighted the Main enemy group consisting of many ships about 40 to 50 miles away. Later there was reported surface contact at about 17 miles, some of the same ships. Now that it was dark, the men on the main deck could see nothing. but the radar scope showed three pips and the distance between them was rapidly closing. THE SANTA FE and MOBILE were directed to fire at the closest targets, and the heavy cruisers were to fire at the distant targets. At about 7:00 O’clock the main battery opened fire and shortly thereafter the secondary battery also began firing. The night was aglow with red tracers going toward the target. The Japanese ships returned fire through out this battle. There were some “short” and some “over” fire seen but did not hit the target. With some fires breaking out on the Japanese ship, the ship was still able to make speeds up to 28 knots. At about 9:30 O’clock the 5-inch mounts commenced shooting star shells and lighting up the sky and the SANTA FE came into almost point-blank range and continued firing. The range was about 4800 yards now, and the majority of the shells hit and the Japanese ship sank. This ship was later identified as the OYODO or AGANO class.

At about 10:00 O’clock it was reported the nearest target was 43 miles north. Since fuel was needed before much longer, the force was to join the carrier groups. The next day the SANTA FE was refueled and joined Task Group 38.3. She went to Leyte Gulf in a covering position, until she was ordered to proceed to Ulithi. That was the SANTA FE’s part in one phase of the greatest battle of all time. The Japanese had suffered many losses and would never again be able to control the Pacific Waters.

The SANTA FE was in port about two days and then we headed for Manus. Later that evening on November 1, 1944, the fleet course was changed to go to Leyte to counter a Japanese naval thrust. On November 3, while we were traveling through heavily mined waters, the Task Group was attacked by a Japanese Submarine, which shot a torpedo into the RENO forcing her to retire to port. Air strikes against Luzon were ordered. Japanese air power, although reduced was still able to attack against the landing forces at Leyte. On November 5, the Task Group’s planes hit Manila and at the same time the Japanese sent out suicide planes, which attacked the formation just after the noon meal. One plane crashed on the LEXINGTON, one near the TICONDEROGA and a third pane was shot down.

On November 11, 1944 the Task Force destroyed an entire convoy of Japanese reinforcements for Leyte that were in the Camotes Sea.

The next day was refueling day and on the 13th and 14th the Task Force made strikes against the manila area.

The SANTA FE returned to Ulithi. During our stay at Ulithi I was driving whaleboat number 2 from the SANTA FE to the dock for the sailors to go on Liberty and then I would pick them up from the dock and bring them back to the SANTA FE. Sometime when I was driving the whaleboat the waters would get rough and the ocean spray would come over the boat and hit me in the face this ocean spray contained salt and it would make my eyes hurt. When whaleboat number 2 was needed, the Coxswain would blow his whistle and get on the loudspeaker and say whaleboat number 2 launch your boat. The crew would get in the boat and go to the gang plank and the officer of the day would give me my orders of what to do and where to go. On this whaleboat I was in charge, I had a bell to ring to give the engineer his orders. I took my orders from the Officer that was on duty. On whaleboat number 2 I had an engineer and a bow hook man. The engineer was supposed to run the motor and the bow hook man was supposed to catch the gangplank of the ships and hold the boat beside the gangplank for passengers to get on and off. When we went back to the SANTA FE he was supposed to catch the boat boom and tie the boat up until we got the orders to go again. One time I was sent with my orders to carry movies to other ships and trade them for different movies, I also had a sailor on board that needed to be put on a larger boat. I took the movies to the other ships and carried out all my other orders and it was so rough when I tried to put the sailor on the larger boat I had a hard time doing it. I went along the side of the large boat for him to get off, the waves were so rough that it was hard for him to get off and in order for him to get off, the large boat had to get underway and then I would try to get along beside the large boat for him to jump on the large boat but that didn’t work because the large boat rolled my way and caught the side of my boat and tore my boat. At that time the passenger sailor jumped off and the bow hook man jumped off with him on the larger boat. I could not get back close enough to the large boat to get the bow hook man back. The waves kept rolling and whaleboat number 2 and the other large boat kept hitting together. So I went back to the SANTA FE and it was so rough that every time I would rise up to the boat boom on the SANTA FE, the whaleboat would fall with the swells of the ocean and after trying for a long time, I finally got whaleboat number 2 tied up to the boat boom. Then the crane from the SANTA FE lifted the whaleboat out of the water and put whaleboat number 2 in the hole of the SANTA FE. I did not see the bow hook man for a few days. I worked on the whaleboat with other sailors until the damage was repaired on whaleboat number 2.

On November 20, Japanese midget submarines came into the harbor to torpedo and sink the fleet tanker MISSISSINEWA. A SANTA FE aviator and his radioman became heroes by taking a sea plane and rescuing the survivors.


On November 22, 1944 after the SANTA FE had been refueled and received supplies, we headed toward the Philippines with Task Force 38.3. On November 25, while firing at northern Luzon, heavy Japanese air fire was met and the ESSEX was hit with a Japanese dive-bomber on her flight deck. Within minutes the fire is controlled and the ESSEX is able to stay in formation in the Task group. The SANTA FE shot down another dive-bomber as it began its dive. These strikes were continued until December 2, and then the Task Group went towards Ulithi,

On December 10, 1944, the SANTA FE with the Task Force headed for Luzon, to keep the Japanese air force from attacking the troops of South West Pacific while they were going ashore and getting established there.

During December 14th 15th and 16th the Third Fleet ‘s planes were hitting the airfields of Luzon both day and night. Only a few Japanese planes came near the SANTA FE’s formation and none of the planes attacked the ships.

On December 17, a heavy typhoon was forming to the east and was headed directly for the Task Force. The typhoon caught the Task Force Group directly in its path. After winds read 80 – 90 knots, the ship takes a 52-degree roll to starboard. The SANTA FE rides out the storm without major damage. There was minor breakage. Eight ships in the Group were damaged and some were sunk. Some had to return to Ulithi and repair the storm damage. The Task Group took a final look for survivors before they returned to Ulithi on Christmas Eve.

On December 24, the SANTA FE returned to Ulithi to learn that we were not going back to the states for our yearly overhaul. The day after Christmas we saw our sister ship MOBILE pull out and head for the States to take her yearly overhaul. But the SANTA FE stayed and broke the record of being longer without an overhaul than any other ship. On December 25, we took on more supplies of ammunition and food.

I was on the SANTA FE and in the Third Division. The Third Division loaded 5-inch ammunition and manned gun mounts 51,52, and 53. We were at the loading machines and in the gunrooms. Everyone had to help with refueling and taking on supplies. We also had to practice loading the guns and handling the powder and the shells. One day while we were firing the guns, the spade man had not put the spade down and the man with the powder put the powder in before the spade, when the man with the shell saw that the spade was not down and the powder was going out of the chute, he jumped out of the gun mount to the deck below, with the shell in his hands, because he thought the powder can would blow up. The powder did not explode; it just got bent and went out of the chute to the deck where all of the empty cans go after they are fired. When I was in Port, I drove whaleboat number 2 to take movies from one ship to another, take sailors on liberty, take officers from place to place and I went wherever I was ordered to go.

The SANTA FE could carry no more than three “King fisher” seaplanes. The SANTA FE could carry two seaplanes on deck and one in the hole. Sometimes we had two planes or less. The water was so rough sometimes the seaplane would come in for a landing and turn over and wreck. The anti-aircraft fire and Japanese Zero fighters would keep the “Gooney Birds” from getting back to the ship.

On December 30, 1944 the SANTA FE and the rest of the Task Force 38 left Ulithi with orders to go to the Lingayen area for air strikes against the Japanese planes.

On January 3rd and 4th 1945 we launched air strikes against Formosa and on the 6th and 7th we launched air strikes against Luzon. On the 9th, which was McArthur’s Luzon Dog-Day, the Task Force 38 had planes attacking Formosa’s airfields trying to keep the Japanese planes from hitting the men landing at Luzon. That same night Halsey ordered the Task Force to go through Bashi Channel into the South China Sea. On January 12 Camranh Bay and Saigon, Indo-China were hit.

On January 17, 1945 when we were gong for a refueling, the SANTA FE passed her 200,000-mile mark. The siren and whistle were heard, celebrating this event. We were all thinking, we will be going back to the States soon. One sailor started the rumor that we were going back to the states and when the rumor (scuttlebutt) got back to him, he believed it himself. When we were trying to refuel the SANTA FE and the tanker came beside us to give us fuel, the sea was so rough that it was hard to get the hose to pump the fuel oil to the SANTA FE We pulled the hose aboard our ship and hooked the hose up and were pumping the oil and the waves were rolling and the ships were rocking back and forth and the hose broke apart. The tanker was still pumping the oil, and before we could get the tanker to stop pumping oil to the ship, the oil went everywhere, onto the decks and covering us with black oil, this oil was hard to get off. We had to clean up this mess.

We had air strikes against Takao on Formosa, Amoy and Swatow on the China Coast The Task Force also hit Hong Kong and Hainan Islands.

Tokyo Rose had announced on the radio that an American Fleet could never enter the China Sea. We got in and then she said the Fleet could never get out. Task Force 38 got in the China Sea and got out. Tokyo Rose was educated in the United States and she could speak English well. We could hear her on the radio on the U.S.S. SANTA FE. Tokyo Rose wanted to upset all the Navy men so they would worry about everything and they would not be able to do their jobs well. Tokyo Rose said your girlfriend is at home in the United States and she is running around with other men and you are over here fighting for your country. She said the U.S.S. SANTA FE was sunk. Tokyo Rose also said that other ships were sunk. We found out later that the other ships were still fighting.

On January 21st and 22nd we went back and hit Formosa and Okinawa with heavy air strikes again. We knew we had done a good job over there and the Third Fleet went back to Ulithi.

We knew that we had to hit the Japanese Empire like they had hit the United States when the Japanese planes hit Pearl Harbor.

On February 9, 1945, the Task Force 58 left Ulithi and headed straight for Tokyo for a carrier bombing of the Japanese capital. We made successful air strikes on Tokyo on February 15th and 16th.

The SANTA FE left the Tokyo area on the 18th to go as a fire support unit for the invasion of Bonins. This was the SANTA FE’s 12th and last bombardment of the Japanese Islands. This was the third time that the SANTA FE had covered the beachheads for the Marines to land.

You could see hundreds of ships in the early morning of February 12, 1945 when the SANTA FE began shelling the southern beaches of Iwo Jima. The shelling increased as many landing craft headed toward the Island. We were on the SANTA FE and we were firing both 5-inch and 6-inch guns and then stood by right off shore for call fire.

I was in the 5-inch mount and it was difficult to fire these guns because we could not see the Japanese gun positions from out ship. The rear seat Marine spotter that was in one of the search planes was fatally injured by flak. He was pointing out new targets when he was hit.

For two nights the SANTA FE kept firing these guns and we were also firing star shells over the island. Heavy fire was ordered in the morning as the Marines advanced and secured their position. At about noon on the 21st after two and one half days of living at battle stations, the SANTA FE was relieved by the NORTH CAROLINA. We had shot over 4000 of our shells into the pillboxes and blockhouses of Iwo Jima. We were tired and glad to leave the battle stations and we knew that we had done the best we could.

On February 16, 1945 the Fifth Fleet launched a heavy strike against Tokyo. I was on the SANTA FE and we were surprised we did not have more resistance that day.

The SANTA FE left the carrier force on February 18, but after a brief stop at Iwo Jima we rejoined the carrier force for the second raid on Tokyo on February 25. It was apparent that the Japanese air force and fleet could not defend their homeland. These last two raids had damaged and destroyed over 650 Japanese planes and sank and damaged over 50 ships.

The last of February, with the success of these two raids, the U.S.S. SANTA FE left the Japanese waters and headed for Ulithi

While we were at Ulithi, all of the ships were refueled and were fully loaded with ammunition.

On March 19, 1945 when Task Force 58 was launching an air strike against Shikoku and Kyushu, a Japanese bomber came out of the low clouds over the bow of the FRANKLIN and went the length of her flight deck. This Japanese bomber dropped two 500-pound bombs on the FRANKLIN. The first bomb hit near the bridge, the second 500-pound bomb hit the flight deck and the parked airplanes. There was a tremendous explosion. The FRANKLIN (Big Ben) was a 27,000-ton carrier.

Fire consumed the airplanes and shot up and swept the fantail and some of the men jumped and some were knocked overboard.

There were almost 1000 men dead or missing and about 200 seriously wounded. This was one of the largest single disasters in the history of the United States naval warfare. No other United States ship has ever survived that much damage. The fire was so hot that big girder twisted like taffy and the steel melted into liquid. The ship had just taken on all the ammunition it could carry and some of this ammunition burst into flame. Captain Gehres of the FRANKLIN was steaming crosswind to control the smoke. Rescuers were risking destruction to help the crippled carrier. Among them were the destroyers HUNT, MARSHALL, TINGLEY, HICKOX and MILLER and the light cruiser SANTA FE

Captain H.C. Fritz of the SANTA FE came up on the starboard side of the FRANKLIN and asked, “are your magazines flooded?” He was remembering the SANTA FE’s sister ship the BIRMINGHAM last fall when she tried to help the PRINCETON and the PRINCETON exploded and there were a lot of casualties on both ships. Now there were at least 4,000 men’s lives at risk.

The next explosion was a five-inch service magazine. Some of the wounded men were being transferred when the magazine exploded. Flame and smoke shot about 7,000 feet in the air. There were pieces of armor plate being tossed around. The first wounded man was taken on the SANTA FE at about 10:00 O’clock that morning, crossing the water on a stretcher on the lines. The SANTA FE could not keep her position alongside the FRANKLIN because of the FRANKLIN’s drift. The SANTA FE then cast off, circled and then made a magnificent approach and came back in at 25 knots at a wide angle. The SANTA FE slammed against the FRANKLIN and held her with the SANTA FE’s engines. At this time the FRANKLIN was listing 14 degrees and still blowing up. The FRANKLIN was a much larger ship than the SANTA FE and when we slammed against her, part of her flight deck was over the SANTA FE.

The SANTA FE got five large hoses going and many of the crewmen began fighting the fires. Leaking gasoline helped spread the fires. These were brave men that kept the hoses going with shrapnel flying in the air.

Men began jumping from the FRANKLIN to the SANTA FE some were jumping in the sea and some were dropping down lines to the deck. The men were getting on he SANTA FE any way they could. Finally a catwalk was placed from the flight deck of the FRANKLIN to the top of one of the SANTA FE’s gun mounts. Some of the men that fell into the sea were never seen again. Rescue ships recovered over 1700 men from the FRANKLIN. The SANTA FE had almost half of these men.
 

The U.S.S. PITTSBURG also helped rescue the FRANKLIN.

Some of the sailors on the SANTA FE gave up their bunks and clothing to these survivors. One sailor from the FRANKLIN told me he was looking for his brother who he said was on the FRANKLIN with him. I don’t know if he found his brother or not. I do not remember seeing that sailor again.

On March 24, 1945 the SANTA FE came to Ulithi.

On March 26, the SANTA FE left Ulithi with the damaged FRANKLIN.

On April 10, 1945 the SANTA FE came in to Terminal Island, U.S.A. When we came in Dinah Shore was Singing. I remember her singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and she sang song after song. Dinah Shore came aboard the SANTA FE. She kissed one of the sailor’s white hats. Dinah Shore gave autographs to some of the men.

There were men of faith on the SANTA FE. There were men of many denominations and faiths on board. We had a chaplain who held services aboard the ship on Sunday.

On May 29, 1945 when we were in the states my eyes were still hurting and they were blood red, so I went to sick bay and they gave me my medical records from the ship and I was sent to the U.S. Naval Hospital, Long Beach, California. At the Hospital they examined my eyes and said it may have been a blood vessel that ruptured in my eyes and they gave me drops for my eyes. My foot was also hurting so they examined my foot too; they said I had tenderness on touching skin over distal scar of left great toe. Probably there is a small neuroma, which could be the cause of the pain. The Doctors at the U.S. Naval Hospital said I could be sent in for study and possible surgical procedures or the scar and possible neuroma could possibly be removed on the SANTA FE X-rays taken at the U.S. Naval Hospital revealed a small fragment of osseous tissue which may be blocking the distal joint.

By July 16, 1945 the SANTA FE was completely overhauled from keel to topmast. The SANTA FE went to San Diego and the SANTA FE would soon be going to join the fleet.

On July 26, 1945 the SANTA FE headed to Pearl Harbor and we were ready to spend another two years at sea.

The SANTA FE was at Wake and then the SANTA FE spent three weeks at Okinawa’s typhoon – plagued Buckner Bay

On September 25, 1945 the SANTA FE came to Sasebo and stayed there for a few days. While we were at Sasebo a surrender delegation was ordered aboard the SANTA FE. I was standing on the deck of the SANTA FE when the surrender delegation came aboard. The sailors could go ashore on Sasebo. We saw the Japanese people, geisha houses, department stores and trolley cars.
 

On October 8, 1945 the SANTA FE left Sasebo. A Typhoon came up and forced us to stop at Nagasaki and this gave all of us time to look at all of the destruction that the atomic bomb had made in Nagasaki. I drove whaleboat number 2 to Nagasaki; we were taking the officers to see how much damage was done to Nagasaki. There was nothing left of Nagasaki but ashes. I saw an old gas mask on the shore. In the water I saw little wooden boats that had been filled with explosives so the Japanese could commit suicide by hitting our ships with these little boats and blowing up our ships.

The first port that we visited on Honshu was Wakayama.

The SANTA FE went to Yokosuka, located at Tokyo Bay’s entrance. While we were there we could visit both Tokyo and Yokohama. While we were on liberty we visited the Emperor’s Palace and the Imperial Hotel. We had some places we could visit and some placed were off limits. When we were in port I would be driving whaleboat number 2 and I was taking the sailors to shore when they had liberty. One day I saw the old battleship NAGATO with her guns made useless and her powder magazines empty, she was one of the reminders of the once proud powerful Japanese fleet.

On October 17, 1945 Captain Fitz was transferred from our ship and Captain Freeman became the Captain of the SANTA FE. Within hours of becoming captain of the SANTA FE Captain Freeman was ordered to go to Ominato KO.

We went to Otaru Hokodate, and Aomori and came back to Ominato on November 4, 1945.

After the war was over there were some rifles that had been captured from the Japanese army. These rifles were placed on the deck of the ship and we were told we could get one of these rifles for a souvenir if we wanted one. Each sailor that wanted a rifle had to get a permit to carry the rifle. I got a permit and got one of the rifles. I had a hard time bringing the rifle home. I could not mail the rifle home. The only way to get the rifle home was to carry it. I kept the rifle in my possession until I got home. I still have that rifle today.

On November 14, the flag was transferred to the QUINCY and the U.S.S. SANTA FE became part of the Magic Carpet operation.

On December 17, 1945, I was examined for discharge from the Navy and after my examination, when the defects were noted; I was found to have Pterygium in both eyes and Varicocele in my left foot. For the rest of my life I will have to live with both my eyes hurting and my foot hurting too.

During this time that I was in the Navy on the U.S.S. SANTA FE we had liberty some time. I remember going on liberty and spending a few hours on Mog-Mog’s Coral Beach, I remember diving down in the water, swimming around, looking for sea shells, relaxing, sitting on the beach, drinking beer, eating peanuts, and talking about what we would do when we were on liberty in the States.

I was on the SANTA FE when we left Long Beach. California in 1943 and I stayed on the SANTA FE until I was discharged from the Service in December 1945.

 

Hawaii 1945

 

Walter Harding Carter

 

 

 

Two Sailors

 

 

Edmond Borinski and Walter Harding Carter

 

 

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