usf2.gif (10730 bytes) USS SIGSBEE DD-502  usf2.gif (10730 bytes)

The above painting by Naval artist Peter Hsu (copyright authorized) shows the 502 under air attack 4/14/45





From: The Commanding Officer.

To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet

Via: 1. Commander Task Unit 14.2.1 (Commander Cruiser Division 6)  2. Commander Task Force 14   Commander Carrier Division 12)  3. Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Subject: Action Report, Bombardment of Wake Island, October 5, 1943.

1. At 0645 this vessel, in company with Task Unit 14.2.1 departed from main body of Task Force 14 which was then conducting an air attack on Wake Island.

2. By signal, the Task Unit formed with CA's in Vee with Destroyer Division 50 (less Dashiell) as screen, SIGSBEE on starboard bow.  Course 188 degrees, zig zagging in accordance with Plan 14, speed 21 knots, proceeding generally toward a point 20 miles east of Wake Island.  Wind, NE, force 3, sea from NE, condition 3.

Chronological Log of Events

0723  Bogies 210 degrees T, 45 miles.

0800  Changed Base Course to 197 degrees T.

0915  CAP (8VF) overhead.

1044  Changed Base Course to 208 degrees T.

1115  34,000 yards from Wake Island approaching for attack.

1135  Unidentified planes bearing 302 degrees T, 15 miles.  Fighters vectored out by FDO.  Bogies came within 10 miles then turned around heading for Wake Island.  CIC reported:  "They are probably Zeros, because they out-distanced our fighters."  "There is a merged plot indicating our fighters have  closed."

1145  Various courses at 30 knots taking station.  Cruisers launching VO planes.

1148  CIC plot indicates dog-fight.

1150  Fighters reported Tallyho, 3 Zekes with one down.

1152  Bogies Northwest, distance 10 miles.

1153  CAP overhead.

1155  CIC reported: Possible air battle going on 5 miles west of us.

1156  Large group of Bogies bearing 120 degrees T, 82 miles.  CIC reported: "Undoubtedly planes from Marshall Islands."

1201  Large Bogies approaching bearing 115 degrees T, 75 miles.

1205  Took anti-submarine station, screening for cruisers.

1206  Large Bogies closing, bearing 120 degrees T, 45 miles, course 300 degrees T, speed 200 knots. "Closing rapidly."

1208  Fighters vectored out to intercept.

1208  Steady on course 286 degrees T on station in anti-submarine screen, SIGSBEE on starboard bow.  Speed 25 knots.  Cruisers in column, CA36 (MINNEAPOLIS) as guide.

1209  "We are going in for our bombardment as scheduled, mow them down", from the Commander Task Unit 14.2.1.

1211  Bogey bearing 125 degrees T, 13 miles, course 305 degrees T, speed 200 knots.

1211  Large Group of Bogies bearing 145 degrees T, 27 miles.

1212  Task Unit 14.2.2 to Northward of Wake Commenced firing.

1214  Bogies bearing 145 degrees T, 25 miles and 30 miles, small group.

1215  Bogies bear 170 degrees T, 23 miles.

1215  Changed course to 295 degrees T.

1216 Took station sharp on bow of cruisers to get out of line of fire.

1219  Bogies bearing 165 degrees T, 34 miles.  CIC reported: Apparently they circled in then circled out when they saw our fighters.

1220  Changed speed to 30 knots.

1221  CIC reported:  We are closing about a mile inside our estimated bombardment line.

1221  Merged plot bearing 175 degrees T, 33 miles.

1223  CIC reported:  The dog-fight appears to be opening from us.  Tallyho from fighters who report one fish shot down.

1225  Went to full power to take proper station due to change of course to the left

1228  VHF reports 1 Betty shot down.

1229  Our fighters overhead.

1229  Cruisers commenced firing.

1230  Fired upon by shore batteries from Peacock Point.  One salvo landed 500 yards off our starboard beam.

1233  Salvo 800 yards over U.S.S. MINNEAPOLIS from the beach

1235  Planes attacking Wake.  Our VB's and VF's practically unmolested.  No visible Ack-Ack.  It looks good.

1235  Shore batteries still firing.  Salvos landing about 200-300 yards off port side of U.S.S. MINNEAPOLIS.

1237  U.S.S. RINGGOLD granted permission to open fire.  RINGGOLD firing directly over us.

1240  SIGSBEE requested permission to open fire on shore battery.

1241  Salvo from the beach landed 250 yards off our bow.

1242  Permission granted, SIGSBEE opened fire.

1243  Our salvos started a fire on the beach.

1245  Commenced firing at second coastal defense gun.

1247  Salvo landed about 300 yards behind us.

1248 Various courses to the Northwest, speed 18 knots.

1250  A gun located in middle of island is firing away.

1259  Reduced rate to slow deliberate fire.

1304  Bogies bearing 190 degrees T, our fighters are intercepting.

1305  Ceased firing on first phase and turned on Westerly course, speed 30 knots.

1306  Merged plot bearing 182 degrees T, 8 miles.

1307  Bogies inside fighters bearing 180 degrees T, 10 miles.

1308  Bogies bearing 180 degrees T,  8 miles, course 000, speed 150 knots.

1308  Bogies bearing 195 degrees T, 7 miles, are coming in on course 010 degrees T.

1309  Three shells from Wake Island just passed overhead landed 500 yards away.

1310  Observed SOC aircraft shot down by fighters 5 miles on port beam.

1310  Salvo from beach landed 50 yards off port beam.

1311  Two parachutes sighted on port beam, fighters strafing men on way down.

1315  OTC ordered:  All stations open fire on planes on port side.

1316  Planes sighted coming in on our port beam.  They did not attack.  Control identified them as SOC and TBF.

1316  Other ships fired on above.  Gun 4 fired 2 rounds at these planes before he could be stopped.

1316  Plane dog-fight overhead to port.

1319  Changed speed to 25 knots.

1319  Two aviators in the water bearing 285 degrees T, 9,000 yards.  U.S.S. SCHROEDER  ordered to pick them up.

1327  Changed course to 095 degrees T.

1329  Two planes on our starboard quarter, TBF's.

1330  CA38 (U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO) opened fire on planes on starboard quarter.

1340  Small bogey bearing 020 degrees T, 12 miles. CAP investigating.

1346  Took station on starboard bow of formation for second phase in compliance with orders of CDD 50.

1346  Sighted AK west of Peale Island burning fiercely, out of our range. Estimate 2000 tons.

1347  Much debris on water just ahead, probably SOC shot down at 1310.

1347  CIC reported:  Large Bogey bearing 125 degrees T 47 miles, course 305 degrees T, speed 180 knots, probably from the Marshall Islands.

1351  SCHROEDER ahead dead in water recovering SOC pilot and rear seat man.

1353  Large Bogey bearing 125 degrees T, 35 miles coming in.

1355  Wake Island broad on port bow, 15,000 yards, Cruisers firing on Island.

1356  Received Tallyho from our planes bearing 125 degrees T, 30 miles.

1357  Other destroyers opened fire at Island

1402  SIGSBEE opened fire on Peacock Point at shore batteries.

1411  Shells just passed over us landing 30 yards of starboard beam.  Bridge force heard it whistle.

1419  Cease firing 325 rounds 5" ammunition expended.

1425  Cruisers maintaining fire while retiring.

1442  Changed course to 062 degrees T.

1445  Received orders to rendezvous with (submarine) U.S.S. SKATE to take a wounded man and then rejoin.

1446  Changed speed to 28 knots. Changed course to 230 degrees T.

1503  Changed course to 270 degrees T, proceeding South of Island at 8 miles speed 35 knots.

1530  Approaching rendezvous with SKATE.  Periscope search on SG radar, rigorous visual search.

1536  Changed course to 324 degrees T.

1540  Slowed. Commenced calling SKATE on QCL.

1541  Arrived at rendezvous, 10 miles West of Wake Island

1542  Circling rendezvous at 18 knots, on radius one mile.

1551  Started calling SKATE on 4235 kcs.

1555  Large Bogey bearing 152 degrees T, 60 miles closing rapidly.

1557  Changed speed to 35 knots.

1559  Bogies bearing 150 degrees T, 54 miles and closing

1559  Changed speed to 36.5 knots.

1602  Estimated altitude of Bogies 8,000 feet.

1604  Attempted to report Bogies to MINNEAPOLIS by VHF and TBS.

1609  Tallyho  from fighters on the bogey.

1613  Changed course to 065 degrees T, swinging around the North side of Wake Island to effect a rendezvous with our Task Group.

1626  Discontinued calling SKATE on 4235 kcs.  No success by any means in contacting SKATE. 

* Read excerpts from the SKATES war patrol off Wake Is. by clicking hyperlink below:

1628  Bogey bearing 165 degrees T, 16 miles.

1630  Bogey appears to be circling bearing 175 degrees T, 15 miles over Wake Island.

1637  Sent message to chicken circling over Wake that a Bogey was over Island, apparently in preparation for landing.

1700  Report from VHF says one group of our chickens shot down 2 Zeros and 3 Betty's.

1713  Surface contact reported by SG radar, bearing 038 degrees T, range 29,500 yards. Single ship.

1755  Changed course to 130 degrees t, to close surface contact, which developed to be RINGGOLD.

1805  Task Group bearing 064 degrees T, 33,400 yards.

1946  Rejoined Task Group 14.13.


Interesting excerpts taken from written report submitted by SIGSBEE


Comments on Bombardment:    About 1241 commenced firing at shore battery on Peacock Point, salvo master-key fire, interval four seconds, director control in train, range finder ranges, stable element control in elevation, direct spotting, initial range 13,500 yards, decreasing to 12,200.  Fire slowed to deliberate after Gunnery Officer reported direct hit on dual-purpose gun.  Expended 235 rounds of 5"/38 AA Common.  Attempt was made to experiment with fuse setting in bombardment on two salvos; the first burst 300 feet in air over beach upon application of UP 4 mils, decreased to UP 2 mils and next salvo burst about 75 feet in air.  Spotting throughout was optical, FD having too many land and plane pips to range or spot.

Other Gunnery Comments:  About 1250 Bogies were reported on starboard beam.  Ceased firing, shifted to air set-up.  Sighted two Zekes distance about 19,000 yards making climbing turn away, own fighters in pursuit. Returned to shore bombardment.

About 1300, expended two rounds of 5"/38 Common from Gun #4 at TBF making low run near MINNEAPOLIS.  Gun captain saw plane in his sector making an apparent torpedo run, saw all other ships firing.  He followed doctrine and opened fie, after reporting over J P circuit.  He used open sight, local control, estimated fuse range, fuse setting of seven seconds.  Fortunately, he did not hit.

The ready racks located in the gun mounts are unsatisfactory.  All guns reported the projectiles from these racks jarring out on deck disturbing the loading in all cases, and in two cases bruising the shell men's feet.

Conclusions and Recommendations:  Fighter Direction and fighter action left nothing to be desired.  On several occasions, this ship was all prepared to open up on enemy planes, when they were expeditiously finished off or chased off by the alert F6F's.

Bombardment of Wake Island:  A). Three major fires started in Peacock Point Area.  B). Shore battery on Peacock Point silenced.  C). No fire from any shore batteries on SIGSBEE's run to the Westward to rendezvous with SKATE.  D). One small 2000 AK demolished.  It is not known whether this was accomplished by planes or CL's.  E). One minor ammunition dump burned as a result of SIGSBEE fire.  Very few rounds fell into water.

It was noted with great satisfaction that C.I.C.  performed with skill and smoothness.  It was of great assistance in making this overall picture much clearer to the Commanding Officer, CIC is considered qualified to direct fighter interception.

The Commanding Officer has nothing but praise for the conduct of the officers and men of the SIGSBEE.  This vessel has been fortunate in having had the opportunity to fire a considerable number of gunnery practices since arrival in the Pacific Area.  As a result of these recent practices, the gunnery department has reached a high state of training.  However, the ship had never been in action before and with few exceptions, personnel had not previously been under fire.  it was therefore very reassuring to note the calm and efficient behavior of all hands while under fire, particularly in view of the fact that quite a few salvos landed near the ship.

B.V Russell, Commanding Officer

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