USS MASSEY DD778 Ship’s log Okinawa 6 June 1945
Latitude 26 deg N, Longitude 127 deg- 51 E, Zone time -9
“Kate” – torpedo bomber
“Val” – dive bomber
“Zeke” – fighter
“Oscar” – land based fighter
CAP – combat air patrol
LCS – landing craft support
RPP – radar picket patrol planes
OTC – officer in tactical command
SOP – senior officer present
6 June – Patrolling Radar Picket Station #9, southwest Okinawa Shima in company with W.D. PORTER and STODDARD and support craft LSC 117 (SOP support craft), LCS 92, LCS 122, and LCS 123….At 0721 a total of ten Corsair F4U planes on duty for CAP. At 1414 USS CLAXTON relieved W.D. PORTER as Fighter Director Ship …at 1540 assumed OTC and formed destroyers (3) on 1500 yard circle, axis 330 deg (T), CLAXTON #1, MASSEY #2, STODDARD #3, and commenced patrol 150 deg (T) – 330 deg(T) at 15 knots. This formation in effect, placed ships in equilateral triangle formation with 1300 yards distance between ships. Ships on radar picket station to the North reported that a Val with American wing markings made a suicide run on them but was shot down. At 1750 four of the CAP departed for home base, leaving six Corsairs.
At 1852 exercised crew at General Quarters for evening alert. Weather is clear, visibility good, ceiling about 3000 feet. At 1854 “possibly bogey” on bearing 240 deg (T), distance 15 miles; at 1855 bogey at 12 NM. At 1857 bogey at 250 deg (T), 7 NM and all ships picked it up. Visually identified as Zekes and Val, and the other unidentified. Raid appeared to be splitting up. At 1858 went to 20 knots – 2 planes closing; went to 30 knots. CAP was not in a position to make interception. Two Zekes appeared to be making run on port beam. Control and main battery went on forward (right) plane, automatic weapons watching second to left, and behind first plane. Two F4Us came into line of sight at about 10,000 yards and fire had to be temporarily withheld until planes had approached to 7,000 yards at which time (1900) plane
#1 (forward plane) was taken under fire with main battery and #2 shortly thereafter by automatics. Ship was brought slightly left to keep planes on port beam. Plane #1 continued run to about 3500 yards when he cut across plane #2’s track. As it became evident that plane #1 was going to pass astern of the ship, fire of main battery was shifted to plane #2 which had now closed to 1200 yards headed for the bridge structure. At 900 yards plane #2 changed course to make a suicide crash amidships. Plane was being hit by 40MM and 20MM and course continued to alter toward stern. Plane #2 crossed very close astern about 15 feet altitude and crashed within 40 yards of starboard quarter. Plane #1 crossed astern of this ship at a distance of about 1500 yards and was reported burning. Plane #1 was taken under fire by STODDARD and crashed on the opposite side of formation at about 1902. During the time three planes were under fire. #3 and #4 planes had crossed astern of the formation at approximately 10 miles to attack from the opposite side. #3 made a fast run in from starboard and was taken under fire by CLAXTON or STODDARD, or both, to splash just to starboard of the opening between the CLAXTON and STODDARD at about 1903. While the previous three planes were working attacks from both sides, #4 had at first stayed out about 12 NM on our stern, then was tracked by Combat as he moved to 5 NM on our starboard quarter (145 deg relative). #4, a Zeke, started a run just before #3 was splashed and control was quickly coached by Combat and lookouts topside.
Course was changed to bring the plane on the starboard beam. Corsairs came over low on our starboard quarter at about 3000 feet and automatic weapons fired several bursts at them, then stopped and shifted to the enemy plane at about 4500 yards as it dived (1904). At 3500 yards the main battery opened up, three 5”/38 shells in rapid succession exploded beneath
( proximity fuse) the Zeke making the run and it burst into flames, went out of control, and dove in a left spiral at an angle of about 70 deg to crash in the water about 1200-1500 yards on the starboard quarter. AA fire of ships accounted for four out of four planes on the raid.
Just prior to the raid a ship in another picket station had reported a Val with American markings, attack them. This word was passed to gunnery stations; automatic weapons, thus in the poor light, the two Corsairs were mistook for possible attacking “Graces” since they came in from the direction from which the fourth attack was reported to be closing.
At about 1910 screens of all ships were reported clear of all unidentified planes. At 1923 slowed to 15 knots. At 1925 Radar Picket Patrol Planes and remaining division of CAP were dispatched to base; no CAP present.
At 1932 MASSEY SC (long 50 CM wave length) radar picked up bogey bearing 295 deg (T), distance 11 NM and reported to other ships; then bearing 290 deg (T), distance 10 NM, closing – several planes.
At 1943 OTC change speed to 20, then 25 knots, and changed course to 030 deg (T), then
050 deg (T). Control identified planes as five Vals – low on the water. SG (surface search short 10 CM wave length) radar reported that planes were splitting up into two groups or more. Two planes (#3 and #4) were seen to detach themselves from the others and start a run straight in from about 7 NM, meanwhile a single plane(#5), started on a skirt of the formation to the South, and another group (#1 and #2) started to skirt the formation to the North. Control and main battery were placed on northern (forward) of the two attackers making their run, and automatics on the second one following. At 1938 MASSEY opened fire with main battery on lead plane at 9,000 yards. Planes came straight in until about 4,000 yards, the lead plane (#3) turned sharply to his left and went North to fall in behind other planes skirting the formation now at speed 30 knots. Meanwhile plane #4 had closed to 4,000 yards where automatics of MASSEY and CLAXTON had taken him under fire. Main battery was shifted quickly to #4 but fire ineffective because of close range.
(It was probably not enough time for the fuses to be armed). MASSEY maneuvered to right to keep plane on beam. (This would bring all guns to bear). At about 500 yards an Oscar banked sharply to the left and made a dive on CLAXTON, ahead, splashing in water about 10 yards from her starboard amidships at about 1941 hours. CAP planes were called back to assist in fighting off attack as they skirted formation about 10 miles North. MASSEY took over IFD net reports for the group. At 1941 bogey to the South had closed to 220 deg (T), 4NM then opened out rapidly to 12 NM. At 1941 bogey to North at 060 deg (T), 9 NM, closing, then at 065 deg (T) at 7 NM (about 070 deg relative). Plane started straight in on starboard beam in shallow dive. MASSEY opened fire at 6,000 yards. The bogey was hit early and glowed with a bright orange light. Shortly thereafter it heeled over sharply and crashed in a steep dive. Another plane was observed to crash on the starboard beam just before the plane at which MASSEY fired caught afire. It is possible that STODDARD splashed this or one of the support craft. While MASSEY had been firing at #2, #3 had started a slow weaving run in from about 040 deg (T) at 10 NM and Combat ordered automatic weapons to watch him. He closed at 5 NM then delayed, then closed to about 7,500 yards by that time Control ceased firing on #2. Control was quickly shifted to #3 and opened fire on him at 6,000 yards with main battery and automatics. Plane approached 4,500 yards when he was hit, and a few shreds of burning material were seen to fall…#3 turned back straight away and fire was ceased at 7,000 yards. The plane’s speed dropped off and it lost altitude, then at about 12,000 yards was seen to splash. Visibility by this time was very limited and darkness was setting in.
Plane #5 opened out to South 15 NM then headed East…Night fighters were directed after him. Support craft claimed to have shot down two planes during the engagement. Destroyers reformed and resumed their patrolling stations. Radar screens were all clear and all CAP and RPP planes were sent to land base.
At 1941 time during the attack, MASSEY passed a man wearing a life jacket in the water.
It latter developed that two sailors were missing from their ships from Radar Picket Station #9.
A search was instituted in which the support craft directed by CIC (Combat Information Center) recovered the men based on the radar plots available. At 2059 secured from General Quarters and set regular condition watch when all enemy planes were clear of area. CAP and RPP planes were sent to land base.
Comments on AA Action of this Date
The net results of this evening’s attack were: Eight of the nine or more of the attacking planes were shot down by the destroyers or support craft combined. No casualties to personnel or ships. Both CLAXTON and MASSEY had near misses. Because of late warning and the presence of cloud formation during the first attacks, neither CAP or RPP could be effectively used. During these raids, both SG and SC-4 radars were depended on heavily for engagement information. Both did an excellent job in their alternate turns, as information became available to the SG at extremely low altitudes, to the SC-4 at higher altitudes and close in. Lookouts and control personnel were called on also to keep track of and especially to differentiate between friendly and enemy planes (before IFF Identification Friend or Foe transmitting).
The MASSEY claims two Zekes and one Val destroyed by gunfire- unassisted, plus one assisted with STODDARD and one Zeke and a strong possibility on unidentified bogey last fired at when opening and crashing at 12, 000 yards. MASSEY also fired at an Oscar which narrowly missed CLAXTON. The crisscrossing tactics employed by these groups at 8,000 to 10,000 yards were confusing and resulted in both cross fire and reduced firing times with the 5 inch battery because of the indecision as to which bogies were attacking the ship. Earlier opening fire by one ship might precipitate the attack and permit other ships more time in which to track and select the proper target.
Ammunition expended this date:
59 rounds 5”/38 AA Common
258 rounds 5”/38 VT (Variable Time Proximity)
317 rounds 5”/38 SPDN 6943 powder
1376 rounds 40 Millimeter HEI (high explosive impact) & HEIT (high explosive time)
3150 rounds 20 Millimeter
*Main Battery consisted of three twin mount 5”/38, designated mounts 51, 52, and 53. Firing rate 17 to 22 rounds per minute.
** Automatics consisted of twelve 40mm AA guns and, ten 20mm. Firing rate over 120 rounds per minute.