Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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Our last few strikes were not tough and were uneventful. One over Okinawa Okinawa aimed at knocking out an already pretty well gutted warehouse, and I’m none too sure we made it any worse. The only new island to me was Tokuna Tokuna, found only after a long search because of terrible weather and very high winds, which put our navigation off. As a matter of fact we had started for Kikai but never found it because of the clouds, and even Tokuna we could see so little of that we dropped our bombs in level flight over where we thought the airfield was. The next day we found Kikai Kikai all right and bombed revetments.

We thought that might be our last flight and felt sure of it when we went through a typhoon typhoon damage 6/5/45 and had the forward corners of the flight deck folded down. When a visiting F4U caught a bad air current and went into the drink*, however, they decided to launch planes backwards and got a whole group of fighters which was to search for lost ships, off without mishap. That wasn’t a very efficient way to operate, however, and by placing metal wind batterns in a certain area of the folded portions of the deck, they made it safe for planes to take off over the bow again. We even went on another strike after that, to Okino Daito, 6/6
Okino Daito (last strike)
a tiny island well southeast of Okinawa. We got off the deck in good shape just by starting from a little nearer the stern than usual, but there wasn't much to bomb on the island. We were instructed to have a try at a weather station, but going down in the dive I found it hard to identify and aimed for the most convenient building. There was a pretty strong cross-wind, and some of the fighter-bombers experimenting with napalm bombs dropped their bombs in the ocean.

pilot saved

Well, after that we went straight to the new anchorage in the Gulf of Leyte anchorage, Philippines Gulf of Leyte, between Leyte and Samar, in the Philippines. It was a much more interesting anchorage than Ulithi. As we steamed up into the bay, islands of all sizes loomed up on both sides, the peaks of the larger ones disappearing into the clouds. Some of the smaller ones were little more than rocks and some, especially along the shore of Samar, were of fantastic shapes, higher than they were wide, and had overhanging cliffs on all sides, but every last one had some vegetation on top. Native sailing canoes with out-riggers were seen here and there, and some even came closer to the ship.

There was a huge officers’ club on Samar Samar, as usual good for nothing except drinking, though it’s fair to say it was a good place to run into friends*. The temptation to strike off into the jungle and explore was strong, but steep cliffs faced one on all sides. It was possible, however, to walk short distances along the shore, and Matthews and I soon found plenty of shells shells to fill our pockets. The birds were pretty quiet, and the only ones I got more than a glimpse of were a very ordinary-looking crow and a few birds small swifts.

Shippen Goodhue for one