Tuesday, May 10, 2005

This (belated) Day in History...May 4,1945

(Posted from an e-mail at El-ahriarah's request, slightly edited because I'm a better writer than he is, nyah, nyah -- CH)

May 4th in military history...1945.

The USS Birmingham is hit by a kamikaze during the invasion of Okinawa. During the invasion, the USS Birmingham was a part of Rear Admiral Deyo’s off-shore gunfire support task force which included a large number of battleships, including his flagship, the USS Tennessee. On the 12th of April, the Tennessee was hit by a kamikaze, killing 22 sailors and wounding 107 others. The damage didn’t put the Tennessee out of action immediately and the ship stayed on station for two more weeks before leaving the area for Ulithi atoll for repairs.

When the Tennessee left the area, Admiral Deyo transferred his flag to the Birmingham. Unfortunately for the Birmingham, Admiral Deyo was a “kamikaze magnet” and a few days after he came on board, the ship was attacked by three kamikazes. She was able to fight off two of the attackers, but the third crashed just aft of the forward turrets, killing 51 crew members and wounding 81 others. It probably didn’t help matters either that the Birmingham had been ordered to slow to almost full stop to provide off-shore fire support when the attack happened.

Our (the Cap’n and I) sainted father was on board the Birmingham during the invasion of Okinawa. She was one of the unluckiest ships in the fleet for her size, being hit by a torpedo and two bombs off Empress Augusta Bay during the invasion of Bougainville in November of 1943, being severely damaged by an explosion on the aircraft carrier USS Princeton during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October of 1944 (237 killed and 426 injured out of a ship's complement of 1400), and the kamikaze attack off Okinawa. Some would say that Dad was very lucky, but we tend to think that it was through Divine Providence that he was protected.

Incidentally, the attacks did have one happy side-effect: Because his ship was forced to return stateside for repairs after each attack, my father was able to spend every Christmas during the war with his family.


At 1:23 AM, Blogger Rosemary said...

Cpt. Holly, You are soooo bad! LOL.

I'm sorry to hear about all the families who suffered. I'm glad your family was alive. I can't really say that you didn't suffer, because I know he probably lost many friends. I consider that suffering.

I'm glad you all spent Christmas together! Were you born yet? Huh hem, aren't you giving away your age? Hehehe. Good to hear from ya. Good article. Take care. :)

At 9:59 PM, Blogger clint said...

my grandpas brother lloyd "Mac" Hale was also on the Birmingham. He was caught by shrapnel during the Princeton explosion. He carried that metal with him for many years afterwards... It caused him much pain and suffering for the rest of his years. He wouldnt talk much about his exploits though he did receive a distinguished flying cross for his actions during a mission as radio operator on board an osu kingfisher plane. Pictures of him at the hawaian radio operators school show young kids for classmates. It was shocking to realize how far off Hollywood is on that point. My uncle was about 18 when he landed in the Navy. His widows scrap book has his hog and lamb ribbons from the fair just a year before he was sent to War.


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