BRIEF OF THE HISTORY OF THE U. S. S. BEALE (DD471)

FROM DATE OF COMMISSIONING TO 1 OCTOBER 1945

 

The following was written by Allen B. Register, CDR, USN, Commanding Officer of the Beale (19 June 1945 – 11 April 1946), in a transmittal to the Secretary of the Navy dated 1 October 1945. While there are many historical and anecdotal accounts of the Beale's World War II record, we think it is appropriate to use this one written by Captain Register. The document is courtesy of Rudolph J. Tichy, LT(jg), 1942-1946.


 

U. S. S. BEALE (DD471)

c/o Fleet Post Office

San Francisco, Calif.

 

                                                                                                                     1 October 1945

 

FROM: The Commanding Officer

TO: The Secretary of the Navy

 

1. The BEALE was commissioned on 23 December 1942 in New York Navy Yard with Commander J. B. COCHRAN, USN, Commanding. After the finishing touches had been put on the ship's equipment and the last bit of stores had been taken aboard the BEALE got underway for Casco Bay, Maine. The new ship with three-fourths of her crew green and the remaining one-fourth without sea legs headed into a moderate running sea at 25 knots. This was a truly fitting start for a shakedown and in spite of a good many pale faces the crew of the ship stood up well under the first shakedown.

 

2. The month of January and half of February were spent conducting individual ship's training exercises between Casco Bay, Maine and Guantanomo Bay, Cuba. From the middle of February to the middle of March bugs were taken out and new guns added in the New York Navy Yard. From the middle of March until the middle of April the BEALE carried her training to a higher degree, conducting flight training exercises out of Trinidad with the USS ESSEX. The middle of April was spent taking the last kinks out of the ship in the New York Navy Yard. The last of April and the first part of May were spent enroute to Pearl Harbor by way of the Panama Canal. The trip through the Canal and across the Pacific made early "old hands" out of the crew and they were ready for whatever the Pearl Harbor Training Command had to give them. The last part of May and the month of June were spent training the crew in how to shoot, control damage, act as a coordinated unit in an emergency and handle themselves in war time maneuvers. The ship left Pearl Harbor with a much wiser and a much more experienced crew.

 

3. As a pleasant surprise, the BEALE headed east from Pearl Harbor instead of west and spent the month of July operating off the west coast of the United States, training in, the vicinity of San Diego with the Ninth Amphibious Force. At frequent intervals films from the West Coast Training Command covering the landings and combat conditions at Attu were shown the crew. This, plus the fact that a very adequate supply of winter clothing was taken aboard, gave the ship's personnel an inkling of what was to come.

 

4. As part of a screen for heavily loaded transports the BEALE, with Destroyer Squadron 24, left San Francisco at the end of July, heading north. The first part of August was spent conducting training, patrolling and screening duties in the Aleutians as part of the North Pacific Force. On 16 August 1943, as a unit of Task Group 16.4, the BEALE with the USS IDAHO, USS PORTLAND and USS HUTCHINS took part in the amphibious landing operations at Kiska. Extensive bombardment training under adverse weather conditions was received in this operation and, although no combat experience was received, the first casualty to the BEALE's squadron occurred when the USS ABNER READ's stern was blown off by an underwater explosion.

 

5. The remainder of August and the months of September, October and November were spent conducting patrolling, screening and escort duties along the Aleutian chain.

 

6. On the first of December, glad to be rid of, fog, cold, rain and Arctic storms, the BEALE headed south for Milne Bay, New Guinea and duty with the Seventh Fleet. Upon arrival at Milne Bay, the BEALE went alongside the CONYNGHAM, a veteran destroyer of the MAHA class,whom she was relieving and the crews of each ship lost no time in learning from the other of the areas to which the other was immediately heading. The following morning Destroyer Squadron 24 relieved Destroyer Squadron 5; Destroyer Squadron 5 headed eastward for a well-earned rest in the United States and the BEALE, with Destroyer Squadron 24, carried out patrolling, escort and screening duties along the southeast coast of New Guinea the last part of December.

 

7. On 26 December, 1943, well prepared by the CONYNGHAM's stories and forecasts, the BEALE, as part of the assault and occupation forces landing at Cape Gloucester, New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago, saw her first enemy action. Of the 60-odd Jap planes that left Kavieng, New Ireland and Rabaul New Britain, about 15 got through the heavy Army fighter screen to attack the naval forces lying off Cape Gloucester. The Japs pressed home their attack with vigor, hitting two destroyers of the BEALE's squadron, sinking the BRONSON with a direct hit down #2 stack and damaging the DALY with a near miss. BEALE expended 12 rounds 5" ammunition, 109 rounds 20 MM, and 51 rounds 40MM ammunition on one VAL which crashed in the water and later expended 43 rounds 20 MM and 100 rounds 40 MM on a "BETTY” which also crashed, probably damaged originally by hits from two P-47s which were chasing her.

 

8. Following the Cape Gloucester action, Squadron 24 graduated from the "screening" class to the "gunfire support and covering" class; assigned to work with two U. S. cruisers, two Australian cruisers and two Australian destroyers. Task Force 75 consisted of the PHOENIX, NASHVILLE, BOISE and Destroyer Division 47. Task Force 74 was made up of the Australian cruisers, SHROPSHIRE and AUSTRALIA, the Australian destroyers ARUNTA and WARRAMJNGA, and the AMEN and MULLANY of Destroyer Division 48.

 

9. From January 1944 to September 1944 the BEALE took part in 18 naval operations and amphibious landings along the coast of New Guinea. When not participating in an actual operation, ships of Squadron 24 carried out patrolling aid screening duties along the coast of New Guinea. On 2 January 1944 the BEALE expended 317 rounds of 5” ammunition on bombardment, in support of the assault and occupation of Saidor, New Guinea. On 8 January, 327 rounds of 5" ammunition were expended in naval: bombardment of by-passed Gali Village southeast of Saidor. Results of this bombardment were gratifying, as heavy fires were observed throughout the area at its completion. After a negative destroyer-patrol torpedo-boat barge hunt of the Gali-Reiss area on 17 January, the BEALE participated on 29 February in the bombardment, assault and occupation of the Los Negros Islands in the Adrniralty Islands Group. Worthy of note at this time is the fact that H. R. Olesen.(FC3c) was commended by the Commanding Officer for excellence in the performance of duty when he sighted a lost LCV(R) under extremely poor conditions of visibility. The lost landing craft was directed to return to his assigned area and the crew thereof saved from probable casualty. On 7 March the ship expended 123 rounds of 5” and 76 rounds of 40 MM ammunition on an enemy held island off Seadler Harbor, Los Negros Island with no observed results. On 19 March, in company with the rest of Squadron 24, BEALE expended: 300 rounds 5" ammunition in anti-shipping sweeps and bombardment off Wewak, sinking one Type G Jap barge and damaging another.

 

10. By 22 April 1944 the Army was ready to move again and the BEALE, with Task Force 74 and Task Force 75, took part in bombardment and assault of the town of Hollandia in the Humboldt Bay area. BEALE's expenditure of 206 rounds of 5" ammunition was reported particularly effective as neutralizing fire. On 30 April, with Task Force 75, participated in the bombardment, assault and occupation of the Wakde-Sawar area; expended 488 rounds of 5" ammunition, starting heavy fires in the vicinity of the Sawar area. On 12 May, BEALE, operating with the ABNER READ and the BACHE, expended 673 rounds 5” and 1,388 rounds 40 MM ammunition on known gun emplacements, supply dumps, miscellaneous buildings and village bivouac areas on bypassed Wewak. 3” and. 37 MM return fire was received from the Jap shore batteries which straddled but failed to damage any of the three destroyers.. On 17 May, BEALE, in company with Task Force 75 and 74, supported the assault and occupation of the Wakde-Sawar area, expending 208 rounds of 5" ammunition with no observed results. On 27 may, Task Force 75 supported the assault and occupation of Biak Island. The Squadron's flagship, USS HUTCHINS, was hit and slightly damaged by shore batteries.. BEALE expended 214 rounds of 5“ ammunition with no observed results.

 

11. While standing by off Biak as a covering force for the troops on Biak, Task Force 75 was taken under surprise low-level bombing attack by Jap planes on 4 June. The NASHVILLE and the PHOENIX both took near misses, causing slight damage. BEALE was able to get out only 22 rounds of 5" and 4 rounds of 40 MM fire before the attack was broken up. The destroyers of the group received no damage. On 8 June the vigilance of Task Force 75’s "watch" off Biak for Jap attempts at reinforcement was rewarded and five Jap destroyers were intercepted in their approach to Biak Island. Immediately upon contact the Japs turned tail and a running battle-was underway. It-was three hours before our destroyers were able to close the range so that our guns were hitting them. By then, however, the pursuing destroyers were near the Shoten Islands and into heavily protected Jap territory. Even though hits were being obtained on the trailing Jap destroyer, the U. S. Task Force was forced to turn back because of the imminent danger of disastrous enemy air attack the following morning, were the dawn to find us too far north. In this engagement 146 rounds of 5“ ammunition were expended, the only observed result being a trail of heavy black smoke from the last Jap destroyer.

 

12. On 2. July, Task Force 74 and, 75 participated in the bombardment, assault and occupation of Noemfoor Island off northwest New Guinea. 239, rounds of 5” and 393 rounds of 40 MM were expended by the BEALE with no observed results. On 10 July, Task Force 75 stood by off Sansapor, northern New Guinea, as a covering force for the landing there. The Japs, however, were taken by complete surprise and since no combat condition existed naval gunfire support was not called for.

 

13. By this time MacArthur’s army forces, supported by the Seventh Fleet, had advanced as far into Jap territory as was expeditious at that time. The task of consolidation was begun in earnest and as part of this plan the BEALE and the HUTCHINS, on 16-17 July 1944, conducted a night hunt for Jap barges and trucks between Marubian and Sowan, New Guinea. No barges were sighted, but 97 rounds of 5" ammunition were expended on the headlights of Jap trucks which were travelling the shore road. The lights were extinguished but the amount of damage done could not be determined. On 18-19 July, BEALE, in conjunction with motor torpedo boats, conducted a night barge and truck hunt between the Dendriwad River and Cape Karawop. 83 rounds of 5” ammunition were expended on truck headlights with no observed results except for extinguishing the lights. For the month of August BEALE's part in the consolidation of the remainder of New Guinea was played by remote control from Willamaloo Dock in Sydney, Australia. The assault and occupation of Sydney was one of the BEALE's most successful campaigns. Consolidation was restricted to the spreading of goodwill.

 

14. For service as Commanding Officer of the BEALE during the action at Cape Gloucester, the Admiralties, Hollandia, Wakde, Biak, Noemfoor and Morotai, Commander J.B. Cochran received the Legion of Merit Award.

 

15. The BEALE, operating with Task Force 74 and 75, expended 306 rounds of 5" ammunition with the help of air spotting by cruiser planes with no observed results. For the first two weeks of October BEALE carried out logistics at Seadler Harbor and by the 13th of October army air fields on Halmahera and the northern tip of New Guinea had been sufficiently developed so that our forces were ready for amphibious assault in the Philippines. BEALE proceeded to the area of Leyte, Philippine Islands with Task Force 78, arriving off San Pedro Bay on the morning of 20 October. Scheduled shore bombardment for the next four days in support of the ground forces earned the BEALE a commendation from the Commander Seventh Fleet for excellence in shore bombardment. During those four days enemy air activity was considerable; on the 20th, the USS HONOLULU was hit by an aerial torpedo, on the 21st BEALE fired on an attacking “VAL” which was diverted to crash dive the HMAS AUSTRALIA close at hand. On the 22nd, 18 rounds of 5 “, 96 rounds 40 MM and 123 rounds 20 MM drove off an attacking “VAL”. On the 24th, 96 rounds of 5 “ammunition kept a twin-engine Jap bomber and a “TONY” out of attacking range. LCI-105, close at hand, was not so lucky and was crash-dived by the "TONY".

 

16. On the evening of the 24th BEALE was ordered to form with Task Group 77.3 as the right flank of battle formation under the command of CTG 77.2 which was to cover Surigao Strait against the approach of attacking enemy forces. At 0200 on the morning of the 25th, an enemy task force, consisting of battleships, cruisers and destroyers was reported in the Strait and at 0315 Squadron 24 was detached from the right flank of the battle formation to attack the enemy battle line with torpedoes. One-half salvo of five torpedoes was fired at a FUS0 class Jap battleship at a range of 6,800 yards, after which explosions were observed on the Jap battleship fired at and a cruiser close at hand. Making smoke and preparing to take the enemy under fire with the main battery, BEALE was straddled twice by 5" and 6" shells, some of which went through the ship's antennae. Squadron 24 then turned and retired to the north. The tactical approach of BEALE's division led by HMAS ARUNTA was outstanding and it was this approach which was responsible in part for the excellent results obtained by the ships of this division. For this action Commander D.C. Coffee, USN, commanding, received the Navy Cross; Lieutenant George Whitney, Jr., CIC Evaluator and Lieutenant (JG) R. J. Tichy, CIC Plotting Officer, received the Bronze Star. M. F. Brennan, Jr. (RdM3c) was recommended for the Bronze Star. For her part in the action BEALE received the commendation from the Commander Seventh Fleet which is reproduced as enclosure (A).

 

17. From the 25th through the 29th of October, BEALE continued operations with Task Group 77.2 as a covering force in the vicinity of San Pedro Bay. Enemy air activity continued to a moderate extent. On the 25th, BEALE fired 42 rounds of 5 " ammunition at a high-flying “SALLY” which kept the enemy plane from attacking. On the 26th, BEALE fired 42 rounds of 5" ammunition on two attacking "FRANCES” that were also being chased by U. S. fighters. Both planes were shot down. On the 28th, the task group formation was taken under attack by an enemy suicide dive bomber. 41 rounds 5" and 42 rounds 40 MM were expended with no observed results. The plane crash-dived, narrowly missing the DENVER who received minor damage from the near miss. On the 29th, BEALE was ordered to anchor in San Pedro Bay to receive the USS ROBINSON alongside to transfer remaining torpedoes and all but a minimum amount of ammunition. No master-at-arms was needed to oversee this working party because removal of the ammunition meant that the BEALE was through with San Pedro Bay for the present.

 

18. The month of November was spent in route to San Francisco by way of Ulithi, Pearl Harbor and Seattle. The months of December and January were spent undergoing overhaul at Bethlehem Steel Company Ship Yard in San Francisco and the Destroyer Repair Base at San Diego. February and March were spent enroute to Leyte by way of Pearl Harbor and Ulithi; extensive shore bombardment and individual ship's training being conducted at Pearl Harbor.

 

19. At Leyte BEALE was attached to Task Unit 51.13.1 (Transport Group D) for approach to an amphibious assault on the island of OKINAWA, Nansei Shoto, of the Ryukyus island chain. On the 1st of April 1945 a large amphibious force approached and laid off the beaches of southwestern Okinawa and for the next 82 days BEALE operated in the immediate vicinity of southern Okinawa as a unit of the screen and gunfire support force. During this period expenditure of 5 “ammunition on enemy aircraft and shore bombardment of enemy installations with air and ground spot was 9,352 rounds. 3,319 rounds of 40 MM and 2,141 rounds of 20 MM ammunition were expanded on enemy aircraft.

 

20. Enemy air activity in the vicinity of Okinawa throughout the campaign was extremely heavy and very effective against the naval forces covering the ground forces on the island. On 6 April, Task Force 54, gunfire and covering support force, was taken under attack by enemy "KATE” torpedo planes, eight of which BEALE took under fire, obtaining probable hits on three. The USS NEWCOMB, crash-dived by three enemy aircraft, was observed close at hand to be burning heavily and BEALE proceeded alongside to assist in putting out the fires. NEWCOMB's fires were extinguished in 23 minutes. A a result of the excellent work by repair parties for their service in this action Commander D. M. Coffee, USN, Commanding, was recommended for the Silver Star by Commander, Destroyer Squadron 60; Lieutenant (jg) A. C. Estep, USNR, Chief Electricians Mate Stormont, USNR, Chief Boatswains Mate Clark, USN were recommended by the Commanding Officer for the Bronze Star.

 

21. On 7 April the same formation was again taken under attack by a sing1e "VAL" which crash-dived the MARYLAND. No hits were obtained on this plane by the BEALE. On 16 April BEALE, who was patrolling a screen sector in the vicinity of Ie Shima, was taken under attack by two "VALS" and another enemy plane identified as a FOCK-WULF 190. The FOCK-WULFE attempted to crash-dive the ship, was taken under fire, damaged in its approach and crashed clear of the ship. Shortly thereafter, two "VALS" attacked from the starboard beam and fire was opened at a range of 8,000 yards. A Marine Corsair was observed chasing the ”VALS”; fire was ceased but all three planes crashed into the water. The Marine pilot parachuted to the water and was rescued by a nearby destroyer escort. On 4 May the BEALE was again taken under attack at close quarters after dark by a single-engined enemy plane which crash-dived, missed, and crashed into the water 100 yards off the port beam. The excellent work of the 5" and 40 MM directors and radar tracking undoubtedly saved the ship from severe damage in this instance. 12 rounds of 5”, 120 rounds of 20 MM and 12 rounds of 40 MM were fired at this plane with many observed hits. Again, on 28 May in the early morning another "VAL" made a suicide attempt on the BEALE. Two rounds 5 “, 33 rounds 20 MM and 290 rounds 40 MM ammunition were expended with observed hits. The plane caught fire and crashed close aboard.

 

22. BEALE’s part in the general bombardment of enemy territory in southern Okinawa was extensive. During the daytime call fire was delivered with spotting by carrier planes and shore fire control parties. At night harassing 5" gun fire and call fire illumination was delivered upon request of army gun fire controllers. Hits were reported obtained on many enemy installations. Spotting by the shore parties and Navy pilots was excellent. Worthy of particular note is one instance in which a Navy pilot attempted to coach BEALE's guns onto seven enemy mechanized tanks. The pilot's spotting was such that the ship's fire eventually caught up with the fleeing tanks; five were destroyed and two were overturned. The fine work of the crew in handling and directing fire of the large amount of ammunition stated above under arduous conditions was rewarded by Commander, Destroyer Squadron 60's recommendation of the BEALE for the Navy Unit Commendation listed as enclosure (B).

 

23. On 3 June, BEALE participated in the bombardment, assault and occupation of Iheya Shima off northern Okinawa. Enemy resistance ceased on 21 June, capture of Okinawa was completed, and on 4. June, in company with Destroyer Squadron 24, departed the area and proceeded to Leyte, Philippine Islands. Upon completion of logistics and minor repairs in Leyte, the BEALE returned to Buckner Bay, Okinawa on 16 July and commenced operations with Task Force 95. Three anti-shipping sweeps were conducted in the East China and Yellow Seas and the southern part of the Sea of Japan from 17-23 July, 27-29 July and 1-7 August 1945.

 

24. Upon cessation of hostilities, BEALE commenced operation and continued for the months of August and September operating with the Fifth Fleet as a covering force for naval forces evacuating allied ex-prisoners of war from Nagasaki, Sasebo and Wakayama, Japan.

 

A. B. REGISTER

 

Notes on “enclosure references A & B”:

 

Enclosures A and B are recommendations for the Beale to be awarded the Navy Unit Commendation Medal for its battle performance at Leyte and Okinawa. As of the date of this entry, we have not located supporting evidence that the NUC Medal was awarded to the Beale.

 

 

Glossary of enemy aircraft identifiers used:

 

BETTY - Mitsubishi G4M, land based Attack Bomber

FRANCES - Yokosuka P1Y, carrier borne Medium Torpedo Bomber, also used as Kamikaze

KATE - Kakajima B5N, carrier borne Torpedo Bomber

SALLY - Mitsubishi Ki-21, land based Heavy Bomber

TONY - Kawasaki K1-61, land based Fighter

VAL - Aichi D3A, carrier borne Dive Bomber

 

Additional sources of Beale World War II History:

 

There are too many to list. You should Google on USS Beale DD471 and you will be furnished with many links to written history and photos.