"A TERRIFIC EXPLOSION RESULTED AND A LARGE OIL SLICK COVERED THE SURFACE": WORLD WAR II PACIFIC THEATER REPORTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE U.S.S. YORKTOWN, FROM ITS MISSIONS TO SUPPORT THE INVASION OF TARAWA AND THE DARING ATTACK ON THE MAIN JAPANESE NAVAL BASE AT TRUK
(WORLD WAR II) (U.S.S. YORKTOWN). Archive: World War II-era reports, photographs, and medals. Pacific Ocean: November 1943-February 1944. Nineteen pages of documents, four photographs, five service medals and Navy aviator's badge, various sizes. $3000.
Archive of contemporary documents, photographs, and service medals from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, chronicling the carrier's cruise to the Gilbert Islands in November 1943 to support the Allied invasion of the island of Tarawa, as well as the attack on the main Japanese anchorage at Truk Atoll in February 1944. The archive also includes a series of World War II service medals including American Defense, American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, and World War II, as well as the Air Medal (with one star) and a Navy aviator's badge. The archive includes 13 contemporary mimeographed battle reports submitted by various pilots of Torpedo Squadron Five (VT-5) aboard the Yorktown during Operation Hailstone, a major U.S. raid on the main Pacific Japanese naval base at Truk staged in February, 1944.
Nicknamed "The Gibraltar of the Pacific" by the Allies, the Truk Islands served as the main Pacific base for the Imperial Japanese Navy. In February of 1944 the U.S. planned and carried out a raid on the base, code-named Operation Hailstone. The Japanese received advance warning of the raid and managed to evacuate their heavy battleships and carriers, but the raid nonetheless destroyed 12 smaller warships as well as 32 merchant vessels which significantly weakened the installation's ability to support Japanese naval efforts in the South Pacific. As the U.S. advanced toward Japan, the base at Truk became increasingly isolated, but did not surrender until August, 1945, although the garrison was near starvation by that point.
Lt. (jg) W. Laliberte's after-battle report is one of the more interesting accounts. After taking off at 1300 local time, he rendezvoused with his squadron and climbed to 14,000 feet before mounting a diving attack on his target, a "fat little AK… At the bottom of my dive I was making 36 knots…" Laliberte's bombs fell short, but as he was pulling away he noticed "what appeared to be a little ship towing an even smaller one, but the wake showed a speed of nearly 20 knots. Upon closer investigation these two little ships turned out to be a submarine. I immediately attacked, and dropped one 500# bomb which either landed on top of or directly below the just submerged submarine. A terrific explosion resulted and a large oil slick covered the surface for about 20 yards. When I got back to the ship I was informed that while attacking the submarine a Tony [Kawasaki, Ki-61, Hein Army Type 3 Fighter] made a run on me, which I didn't know anything about at the time…" (Interestingly, the official list of sunken and damaged vessels from that raid does not include a submarine.) Lt. Commander R. Upson's account provides an excellent account of the action below him as he circled above Truk at 14,000 feet, and reads, in very small part: "One heavy cruiser and two destroyers were sighted just south of North Pass, maneuvering and firing AA guns. There were two destroyers approaching the cruiser's position from the south. One or possibly two fighters were strafing the cruiser at that time… A large number of fires, presumably airplanes, were seen on the western side of the Moen bomber strip… The break-up of the bombers and torpedo planes occurred almost directly over Eten Island. Divers made toward the northeast. Torpedo planes went into their dives at almost the same time that the bombers went in, 0835, and in the same direction… My drop was interfered with by the cross-wind, which was stronger than I had anticipated." Much more fine content is included in this archive, with four excellent contemporary photographs documenting the Truk Island strikes.
The archive also concerns an earlier mission conducted in support of the U.S. Marine landings at Tarawa, which took place between November 20 and 23, 1943, and include daily schedules for the Yorktown's crew for November 15, 19, 20 and 21, 1943, as well as two pages of teletype news from the fleet's radar station, dated in pencil "26 Nov. 1943 1900 [hrs.]" The carrier, on its return from the Gilbert Islands encountered "BOGIES AT 040 AT 40 MILES CROSSING., OUR COUSRE.,..BOGEYS STILL ORBITING AT 040 DIST 40 MI.,..BOGEY ABLE AT 048 DIST 38 MI… TWO WHIE FA XX FLARES SIGNTED 15 MI., ON S….BOGEY DOG AT 107 DIST 19 MI." The radar continued to track the enemy planes until "BOGEY ABLE FADED FROM SCREEN." Another one appeared soon afterwards which "LOOKS TO US LIKE SNOOPER WHO HAVE,.PASSED AHEAD OF DISPOSITION." Soon after the "LEXINGTON REPORTS SAME BOGEY AS SURFACE.,CONTACT," the "ENTERPRISE HAS JUST REPORTED UNDER FAIRLY,.HEAVY AIR ATTACK . ENTERPRISE POSITION. AT PREP XX PRESENT TIME APPROX 23 MI.,WEST OF TARAWA.,..SURFACE CONTACT ONLY INDICATION AT PRESENT.,ON RADAR SCREEN., CORRECTION – SARATOGA AND PRINCETON., - NOT ENTERPRISE – ARE UNDER ATTACK."
File holes, very light toning, else fine condition overall.