Original thread is here: http://www.alternatehistory.com/disc...d.php?t=182727
Please post all comments there.
My POD is that after the Fall of France in May 1940, FDR is able to wake-up Congress to the need to improve and modernize The United States Army, Navy and Marine Corp. He also pushes the improvement of defenses and stationing of troops and ships in the United States, Pacific territories of Wake, Guam and America Samao.
Governor of the territory of Guam, Naval Captain Brad Davidson looked around his office as the sweat dripped down his neck. The heat of the day was over powering. How anyone got any work done in this tropical heat was beyond his thinking. He knew that once the evening trade winds started he would feel better but that was then, now at 1130am on the 5th of August 1940, it was hot, no wind to cool or move the air. The small office fan was not working because the electrical generator was out once again. So no electrical service for at least an hour until his small staff could get the darn thing working again. It just wasnít fair he thought to himself. When he had been told four months ago that his next assignment was to be the Governor of the Territory of Guam his thoughts had been yes, my path to a star. He had never been to Guam all his duty stations and shipboard assignments had been either in the Pacific Northwest or the Atlantic. It seemed like such an easy assignment.
He thought back to his arrival at Pearl Harbor and the trip on to Guam on the American President Liner SS President Harrison. His family was enjoying the beaches, especially when he and they could make the all day, 30 miles on a dirt track, more than a trail than a road, trip from Agana down to Cocos Lagoon. His wife Sue and two daughters had taken to the island right away, the Guamanians had in turn fallen in love with them. He mentally shook himself and looked again at the two page message he had just received.
The seaplane tender USS Langley was going to be arriving from Pearl with a detachment of engineers, Army engineers not even Navy to build an airstrip on either the central plain or the northern tip of the Island or maybe even both. The Langley would off load 10 crated P-36ís fighters and 5 of the new A-20 Havoc Attack Bombers. Along with the airmen, ground crew and a small security detachment that would include a Battery of Anti Aircraft guns. Two naval supply ships would arrive with the Langley. They would increase his small Marine company with Marines from China that had been removed due to the on going war between Japan and China. These Marines would have also a platoon of (5) M-3 Lee tanks. Also was the news that he would have 4 PBYís assigned to the island for daily scouting. He was further directed to insure that the Chamorro Civil Guard( two companies of light infantry)were well trained and rearmed with modern weapons. Furthermore the message advised him that the Island defense force was being upgraded due to the United States receiving information that Japan was upgrading defenses on itís islands of Saipan and Tinian.
Japan was protesting this upgrade at Guam but the War Department had been told to, quote get it done, end quote. He could expect the troops, planes and equipment by the end of August.
The Navy planed to assign a sub-tender along with two subs and two destroyers, those assignments would be sometime in October. Last but not least in his eyes he was now a one star admiral. He was to use the Pan Am clipper the next day for a trip to Pearl for a full briefing from Admiral Kimmel who was in the process of an inspection of Pearl Harbor and itís facilities. Admiral Kimmel would be returning to his Fleet Headquarters at San Diego after the briefing.
Tuesday morning Brad found himself at the Pan Am dock for the 8 hour trip to Honolulu. He had told his wife Sue to expect him back on Friday. Sue had told him donít you go getting all drunk now and spending all your money buying drinks for all those people at Pearl Harbor celebrating your promotion. As the clipper took off, Brad thought as he looked over the island that maybe it was a paradise. Dockside at Honolulu, Brad was met by Admiral Kimmelís driver who then drove him to Peal Harbor to meet with Admiral Kimmel and his staff. After the pleasantries and congratulations on his promotion the Pacific Fleet Commanders staff started the briefing.
First off he was told that should war come between Japan and the United States there were no plans to get reinforcements to him with in the first six months of war. Subs would be used to bring in supplies if possible. He was to insure that his fuel, ammunition and supply dumps were well protected from bombing or naval shell fire. The two naval supply ships that would bring in the Marines would include what was hopped to be enough fuel, ammo and supplies for the island for six months. He could expect supply ships once a month starting in September from Pearl that after stopping at Guam would continue on to the Philippines. Once the airstrip or strips were set up they were to train, train and yet do more training. With Saipan and Tinian only about two hour flying time from Guam they had to stay alert and remember that Japanese military history was full of surprise attacks with no warning. ( Much later Brad wondered why they didnít listen to their own briefing.) Brad asked if he should have the dependents evacuated and was told, no, not at this time. There should be warning enough to evacuate them if that became needed.
His Marines, the Chamorro Civil Guard and Army units along with the naval units attached would give him around 1500 men on the ground to defend the island. The Sub-Tender and Destroyers would be sitting targets so would pull back to Pearl if war started (if they were able to). The Army also hoped to use the airstrips as a rest stop for B-17ís heading for the Philippines, as with Guam sitting where it was, it was hoped that they could then fly with a full load out of guns and ammo. Because of Japanese fighters on Saipan, the Army fighters would be expected to provide air cover for both the airfield and the Piti Naval Yard. Ben was told he would be in command of all forces on the Island as the Governor and as the ranking military Officer. To assist him in this an Army officer, Major Glen Davis would be assigned to his staff. Major Davis was an engineer who was also a Army Pilot, he would meet him tomorrow when he was briefed by the Army. The PBY unit was to set up using the Sub-Tender as a base in Agana Bay again early morning patrols out at least 200 miles everyday full circle of the Island. Brad looked over at Admiral Kimmel and asked if he thought war was going happen. Kimmelís responded that he sure hoped not as there did not appear to be any way to move a relief force to either Wake or Guam let alone the Philippines.
Later as the briefing went on he was told that should the Army build two strips then he might also get some Marine fighters. Radio communications some times were not the best between Guam and Pearl so the next month it was planned to start laying an underwater cable from Honolulu to Guam and on to the Philippines. It was hoped that, that would be completed by sometime in the spring of 1941. Additional fuel for aircraft would be shipped in once the airstrips were built and underground tanks were ready. Until then a supply stored above ground would be left by the Langley.
When asked if he had questions Ben laughed and yes more than you can answer right now, but first off the Island is going to need a new electrical generator and phone lines to cover the entire island. Can, after the airstrips are built, new roads be built? Brad was told the Army engineers would be staying on the island for some time and as Governor he could assign them community jobs and even employee Chamorros as part of the labor force. Congress had increased his Islands budget by almost $150,000. He was the Governor use it how he wished. He then asked if any Coastal Guns 5 or 6 inch would be assigned. Not at this time was the reply.
The next day after a wonderful party to wash down his new star and a slight hangover Brad was driven to General Shorts office for the Army briefing. After meeting the newest member of his staff Major Davis and the Major of Engineers, Pat Smith and the two USAAC Captains in charge of the P-36ís and the A-20 Havocs, Jim Walker and George Jones and the Captain of the security unit ( two platoons of infantry and one platoon of AAA guns), Jackson Smart he was given the same brief as the before. The big difference in the briefings was that when Brad was introduced to the Army officers by General Short each in turn was told that, Brad was not only the Governor of the Territory of Guam but was also their new commander. There would be no inter-service problems on Guam. Turning to Capitan Smart General Short then advised Brad and the others that Smarts small security detachment would consist of four white officers and 85 negro troops. That if any of them had a problem with that to speak up now.
Capitan Smart then told them all his unit had been trained to secure airstrips and to provide AAA cover with the newest AAA weapon the quad 50ís. His unit would have a section of two of the new units, each mounted on a 2 1/2 ton truck body. ď I have to tell you gentleman these are 85 very well trained menĒ.
Ben noticed that Capitan Smart had a vary deep southern accent. Oh this will be fun thought Brad Iíll have Army vs. Navy vs. Marines and all vs. the negro troops. Might need to build a bigger brig thought Brad. Brad again asked if the Army could or would provide any Artillery for costal defense. Once more the answer was not at this time.
After the briefing Brad and his new aide Major Davis were driven to the dock for Brad to meet the last officer that would have troops on the island Lt Commander George Oliver, who would command the 4 PBYís. He was told that the aircraft and crews would fly in by the end of the month to meet up with the support crew arriving on the Langley.
Later that afternoon he asked Major Davis to contact all the other officers and arrange a dinner where they could all get to know one another and so that he, Brad, could give them a briefing about Guam and itís native population of Chamorros. He also wanted to find out if any of them would be bringing families to Guam.
Friday morning on the trip back to Guam on the Pan Am clipper, Brad thought back to April when he was being sworn in at the White House as the new Territory Governor of Guam. The President at lunch that day told him,
ďYou are going to love the islandĒ. Then he had been briefed about how to handle the Chamorros. That Guam was a laid back assignment where except for an earthquake or typhoon nothing ever happened. There was hope that a new school and hospital could be worked into the budget. The State Department brief had told him that the Japanese on Saipan sometimes boarded the Chamorro fishing boats from Guam and forced them to give up their catch. Claiming they had caught the fish in Japanese waters. He was told not to react too strongly about this but to always try to insure none of the American citizens which the Chamorros were, were harmed. They laughingly asked him to please do not start a war with Japan over a fishing boat. Well thought Brad with two destroyers on station I might not start a war but I can sure offer better protection to the fishing fleet. That will be something I can ask Commander Oliver to insure that our fishing boats are checked on by his patrols. He leaned over to his new aide Major Davis and asked him to make a note about that so he would remember it later.
His wife was going to be happy with six more military families on the island. His daughters were going to love having eight more kids too. I guess I'll have to push to get housing built. There are going to be lots of changes ahead.
All these changes were happing because war was on the horizon. How the President had got Congress to approve all this new spending on Wake, Guam and American Samoa to increase not only airstrips but troops on the ground, while at the same time continuing the build up in the Philippines was, he now knew to be because of the fall of France and the wake up that both Germany and Japan were on a path that could and most likely would lead to war. The United States had to start getting ready. He wondered if Guam would have time to build up.
Time marches on Thursday October 3 1940
Work had progressed very fast on the first airstrip, it was in progress of being paved and revetments for aircraft storage being bulldozed. The revetments were an add on due to input from some of the Marines that had arrived from China as they reported how Japanese fighters, Type-96, would fly two or three abreast at about 100 feet shooting up everything. Captain Smart upon hearing that, asked the engineers to bulldoze him firing pits for his AAA guns also. More than one for each unit so he could move them around.
One of the first actions Brad had taken upon his return from Pearl was to contact the mayors of the small towns and other civic leaders to let them know what was going on. There were only about 22,000 Guamanian Chamorros and maybe 100 Americans as well as around 60 citizens of other nations (to include Japanese) on the island. The local Guam Insular Force was renamed the Civil Guard and was tasked with police duties as well as acting as a light infantry scout force. Two of his marine NCOs would act as their training instructors and leaders with oversight from Major Davis.
The Idyllic paradise was changing from lush coconut groves and walls of tropical jungle into something else. The Chamorros were hard working fishermen, farmers just everyday type people, heavily Catholic due to the Spanish rule of almost 250 years. They had warned him that the Chamorros on Saipan were not to be trusted. But they also told him they were hearing many stories of bad treatment by the Japanese of the Northern Chamorros. A new road had been plowed from Agana to the new airstrip in the center of the island near the small town of Barriganda. Rain would wash it out but the bulldozers would get it reopened. It would need to be either paved or oiled. The track to Cocos Lagoon was also plowed turning it into a dirt road that would also need either paving or oiled when the rains came.
There were reports that the Pacific Fleet might move from San Diego to Pearl Harbor. His original assigned mine sweeper the USS Penguin was escorting the main fishing fleet as the Japanese were continuing to harass Guamanian fishing boats. He had also received information that to insure a safe shipping line from Hawaii south to both American Samoa and Australia a recon force of PBYs with a small security detachment were being installed on Howland Island. There were a lot of build ups going on but if everyone else had troops like his especially the engineers they just might make it. He had thought that inter-service or racism might cause problems but to his surprise the troops were getting along well. There were fights but no big problems.
At the normal Friday, staff meeting, (February 7th 1941) , Brad was brought up to date on the improvements ongoing at the Piti Naval Yard. Also updated was the status of the completed airfield at Barrigada and the road connecting it to both the navy yard and Agana. The engineers reported that work was underway to improve the trail to the village of Lupog into a road and that work would be able to be started on the second airfield by mid March.
PBY over flights of the Guamanian fishing fleet along with having the Destroyers or the Minelayer providing an escort now and then had all but stopped the harassment by the Japanese towards the Island fishing boats. The Civil Guard had reported that Chamorros from Saipan had been attempting to land on the south end of the Island by Cosos Lagoon . They had told the guard that they had ďlost their wayĒ They were given food and water and they put back to sea heading for Saipan. It was decided that one of the Marine Companies would move to the south end of the Island and that it would cover the Cosos Lagoon area and Mount Lamlam which at 406 feet was the highest point on the Island. That Company would be stationed in Merizo, quarters and supply points would have to be built. Ben then advised his staff that with the airfield in operation the Army planned to start using it right away for ferrying B-17s to the Philippines. All fighters station here will be armed and ready for combat at all times.
Brad then brought to everyoneís attention that the mayors of the several villages and towns had been voicing concern about the lack of respect shown the native Chamorro girls and that he wanted that stopped right now. These are a very Catholic people treat them with respect. Remind your troops that this is a territory of the United States and those folks are us.
New EquipmentValentines day, 1941 the navy seaplane tender USS Curtiss, lay at anchor in Agana Bay off loading
10 new P-40 Fighters and equipment. The 10 P-36ís were to be crated and sent on the next supply ship to the Philippines. Capitan Walker and his pilots and ground support staff were all very happy with this change as the P-40 was faster and better armed with 50cal guns not the little 30cal. Also being off loaded along with itís assigned crew and supplies was a SCR-270 radar that would be moved to Mt Lamlan. Phone lines would have to be installed to connect the radar crew with the airstrip and also with the Marines stationed at Merizo. No one but the crew of the radar knew anything about radar, itís capabilities and liabilities. Lots of training was in store for both the crew of the radar and the pilots assigned to Guam with their new equipment. Additionally the security group sent to Howland Island had been removed and had been reassigned with two more quad 50ís to Guam. That gave Capitan Smart a full company of negro security troops. He planed that once the second airfield was competed to split his force between the two airfields.
Capitan Jones had requested that more training bombs as well as some of the 500lb armor piercing bombs be sent from Hawaii so that his crews could get more training. At that time he had only 100lb and 250lb general purpose bombs and 50 training bombs. He felt his A-20 crews needed more work and training.
The Major in charge of his three Marine companies wanted to know if Pear Harbor could or would send them any coastal defense guns, 5 or 6 inch. Brad advised him he would request them but did not know if they would be sent. There was no artillery assigned to Guam other than the puny guns on the M-3 tanks.
The Marines were worried that with no artillery of their own any (Japanese) force with artillery would
have no trouble taking Guam.
The Capitan of the Curtiss had let him know that the cable laying ship from Pearl was about 500 miles from Guam. That meant then in about two weeks he would have teletype and phone communication with Hawaii.
Training and MovementBy July the second airfield at Lupog was competed and another group of 10 Army P-40s with support staff and equipment had arrived at Guam on the monthly supply ship from Pearl along with the requested bombs.. This made Guam one of the strongest fighter bases after Hawaii that the United States had in the Central Pacific. Also being reinforced were 4 more PBYs for the scouting mission between Guam and both Hawaii and the Philippines.
New additions to the A-20 Havocs were 5 more aircraft, crews and Lt Col. Nash, who would command all the Army Air Corps units. Lt. Col Nash requested right away that a radio be set up at the radar unit so that training and coordination between the radar operators and his aircraft could begin. He had seen during his assignment to England during the summer and fall of 1940, how the English used radar to vector fighters towards the German bombers and give warning of raids.
Both the S-41 and S-43 had during the last two months reported major Japanese troop and ship movements in around both Saipan and Tinian. It appeared that Japan had reinforced Saipan with up to 6000 special naval infantry and three heavy cruisers had been sighted. Once again as the military commander of Guam Brad asked that artillery of either costal defense or towed cannons such as 105mm be assigned to the Island.
It now appeared that the Pacific Fleet would move to Pearl Harbor. That would make his scouting units more important but both of his subs the S-41 and S-43 needed major yard work that the tender could not accomplish so it was possible that unless they were rotated back to Pearl for overhaul and replaced by other boats he might lose his best scouts for around Saipan waters.
By September 1941 in was becoming obvious that the Japanese 18th Naval Air Unit on Saipan was attempting reconnaissance of Guam and the US navy units assigned to it. While they did not attempt to over fly Guam, the Japanese were flying around that island at a distance of about 30 miles from shore. The float planes from Saipan were intercepted by fighters when ever they attempted to close to closer than 30 miles. So the Japanese knew there were now fighters on Guam. They just didnít know how many. It was also unknown if the Japanese knew about the A-20s.
By November of 1941 the Japanese war plans were being flushed out.
The 55th Infantry Group under the command of Maj. Gen. Fomitaro Horii was organized as the South Seas Detachment with the mission to seize Guam and the Bismark Islands. They were reinforced with 400 sailors trained as marines from the Saipan garrison. Not knowing for sure what the United States had on Guam as each attempt to land intelligence agents Northern Chamorros from Saipan or Japanese intelligence agents onto Guam had failed. For these reasons a very strong landing force was planned along with a very strong navy force of 4 Heavy Cruisers, 4 Destroyers, 2 Gunboats 6 Submarine chasers 2 Mine sweepers along with 6 to 9 transports to move the Infantry for the invasion. the Japanese air assets were not as strong only 18 floatplanes (that were both scouts and bombers), 12 bombers (Kates) and 15 fighters (Type96). The plan was for the fleet units with transports to arrive off Rota and move on Guam after the attack at Pearl Harbor.
United states reactions to these reconnaissance missions was to order the Guam command to stock caves with food and water to act as civil defense shelters for the population. On October 17th the order was given to evacuate dependents on the island back to Hawaii. American wives, children and non American females and children from other nations were sent to Hawaii on the APL SS President Polk. Escorting the Polk back to Hawaii was the USS Shaw . Two patrol boats the YP-16 and 17 were fitted out with 30cal machine guns, to act as escorts for the fishing fleet. Once again both the Army and Navy in Hawaii said no to giving Guam artillery. Plans were made to position the 5 tanks near the most likely landing beaches. Two near the Orote peninsula, 2 near the Barrigada airfield and one at the Lupog airfield. Orders were given to the radar crew to insure that if it looked that they would be overran to destroy all manuals and blow up the SCR-270. Japan did not have radar so far us the United States knew and those manuals or the equipment could give them a big intelligence find. One squad of Marines was reassigned from Cosos Lagoon unit to the radar as extra security. By mid-November, Guam had 2 Submarines the S-41 and S-43, One Destroyer, one Submarine tender, one Mine Sweeper and two patrol boats; 20 P-40s, 10 A-20s, 8 PBYs. Three Marine Infantry Companies with 5 attached tanks. One Security Company with 4 attached quad 50s mounted on trucks. Plus the radar section.
First StepsAfter the war warning sent on the 25th of November, The Pacific Fleet Headquarters ordered that the remaining destroyer USS John Paul Jones, to relocate from Guam back to Pearl Harbor. For now the Submarine Tender USS Seawall would remain in Agana Bay because it was also acting as the depot for the PBYs. Dawn, noon and sunset air patrols were set for the PBYs and fighters. Vigilance was the word of the day for the radar unit, both the S-41 and S-43 the scouting PBYs.
At 0400 (Guam time) 0800 Hawaii, 7 December (Hawaii), morning of the 8th (Guam) the radio communications duty Petty Officer was shocked by the announcement of Air Raid Pearl Harbor, this is no drill. The duty PO called both airstrips, the radar unit and the Governors office. Plans after the first shock wore off were rapidly put into place. Ten of the P-40s were scrambled to act as a combat air patrol over the island airstrips and harbor. The A-20, Havoc Attack Bombers were armed with the 500lb AP Bombs and prepared for possible anti-ship attacks. At 0550 the radar site reported that they had a possible target approaching from Saipan that looked like 15 to 20 aircraft. The remaining 10 P-40s were scrambled and vectored to intercept the approaching Japanese aircraft. The 4 quad 50s were positioned into their firing pits around the two airfields.
Marine and Civil Guard beach watchers took up their positions to watch for possible landings. All 8 PBYs were sent aloft to scout for any possible invasion fleet. The Japanese were about to find out that Guam had teeth.
The five floatplanes ,10 kates and 10 type 96 fighters, in the Japanese attack wave were bounced by the 15 P-40s at about 15 miles out to sea, none of the floatplanes, only 2 of the kates and 3 type 96 got past the first group of American fighters. the 3 type 96 fighters attempted a strafing run on the airfield at Barrigada and found out that 2 quad 50s made Swiss-cheese of their planes. The 2 kates made a bombing run on the USS Seawall, but the 5 P-40s flying CAP over the harbor made short work of them.
The complete lack of success by the 18th Naval Air Unit was unknown by the Japanese fleet units moving in from Rota Island. By 0700 The PBYs had discovered the Japanese fleet units and the 10 A-20 Havocs escorted by 10 P-40s went after them. Surprised by American Attack Bombers, Japanese Anti-Air was not very successful. But the American pilots were on their first mission and went after the war ships not the transports. Two of the Heavy Cruisers were hit as were 1 destroyer and 1 sub chaser. Two of the A-20s were damaged but were able to return to Guam. The Japanese fleet turned and fled towards Saipan and the waiting S-41 which put two torpedoes into one of the damaged heavy Cruisers. At Saipan the Japanese command reported the failed air attack on Guam and the sinking of one Cruiser and the damage to another. Word was passed that one of the Japanese carriers would assist the next attempt with itís A6M Zero fighters. But for now use what air units they had to keep the pressure on Guam.
No P-40s had been lost. Lt Col Nash wanted to raid Saipan with his 8 remaining A-20 Havocs, escorted by 10 fighters. The raid was planned for mid-afternoon 4 Havocs would have AP bombs the other 4 general purpose bombs. The crews of the 4 with general purpose bombs 100lb and 250lb were told go the transports. The fighters would fly a cap and strafe the airfields.
Word was being received by 1600(4pm) about the damage at Pearl Harbor and also at the Philippines. Brad and all his officers could not understand how such damage had happened, especially the aircraft losses in the Philippines. Reports from Pearl advised that the Japanese Zero was faster than the P-40, could turn inside it, could not climb as fast and was under gunned. Good thing we only had to deal with type-96 fighters. By 1700 the attack force was back from Saipan. Two freighters were damaged, the airstrip on Saipan had been both bombed and strafed with at least 3 more aircraft destroyed on the ground. Col Nash reported that one more A-20 was damaged and two P-40s also had damage. This report along with the names of two of the P-40 pilots who had shot down 5 Japanese aircraft was sent to Pearl. The first day was over no one was sure what would happen next. For now Guam was holding and giving it back much harder than it was taking it.
At 0430 the S-41 reported that the Japanese CA IJN Kinugasa had sunk and that it appeared that the CA IJN Kako had taken at least two bomb hits. The Japanese fleet was now in the Saipan anchorage with two destroyers covering the entrance. Orders were given to the S-41 to maintain it's coverage of Saipan to act as an early warning if the Japanese warships started back towards Guam.
The Second Day
The USAAC pilots wanted to hit Saipan again. A raid was planed for 0800 that would include the 7 Havocs
and 14 of the P-40s. The remaining 5 serviceable P-40's would be kept as cover for Guam. The Havocs would hit the harbor area with 5 P-40s acting as cover, while the other 10 fighters would strafe the airfield
and any troop concentrations. More intelligence was being received that the Japanese Zero was a much better aircraft than the Type -96 fighters. Luckily for Guam, Saipan had not had any assigned to it.
When the raid returned at 1300, one P-40 was in trouble and the pilot bailed out over Agana Bay. The Patrol Boat YP-17, was able to pull him from the water. Two more transports had been hit in the Saipan anchorage and 3 more Type-96 fighters shot down. The fighters acting as the cap for the Havocs strafed the floatplane base and report they had shot up 5 floatplanes. No warships except for the damaged IJN Kako were seen in the harbor. A search by the PBYs could not locate them. Col Nash made the decision that all remaining 500lb AP bombs would be held for a counter to a possible Japanese naval attack.
As long as Guam had air cover it was felt that the Island could hold. Guam had fighters and the Havocs but no guns to secure the beaches. Airpower had to keep the Japanese from landing.
The S-43 was patrolling off Guam to cover the approach to Agana Bay. But no further contact from the S-41 off Saipan had been received by 1800. Had something happened to the S-41? They should have reported the Japanese warships exiting the Saipan anchorage. Then at 2200 the S-41 radioed in that it had damage from depth charges and was returning to Guam. The second day of the war ended with no new attacks on Guam. The crews of the PBYs were tasked to search the next day to find the missing Japanese warships. Also was the worry that with Japanese airpower on Saipan taken out would Japanese carriers attempt to raid Guam like they had Pearl.
The news reports in the United States told of great damage to Pearl Harbor and the Philippines but the ray of sunshine from Guam, let the people know that we were fighting back. With the damage at Pearl to the fleet, the defenders on Guam knew that what they had was all they would have for quite awhile.
Then like a slot machine giving a jackpot one lonely freighter steamed into Agana Bay. The SS Samuel Jackson had been on itís way to the Philippines with a stop at Guam as the monthly supply ship. Itís cargo included two Batteries of 105mm field artillery and the unit of the Oregon National Guard assigned to them as well as one company of 81mm mortars. Additional Bombs 100 and 250 general purpose as well as 50 more 500lb AP bombs.
Ten crated P-40ís and their crews and supporting ground service crews and 10000 gallons of aviation fuel.
Additional ammo and food The freighter had been strafed by a Japanese floatplane but luckily not bombed. When the attack on it happened it was 250 miles from Guam, so headed for Guam as the Capitan knew he could not make the Philippines and not be caught by the Japanese. All at once there was a good chance that Guam could hold off a Japanese landing.
After the freighter was off loaded, fuel sent by trucks to the two airfields along with the bombs and other ammunition for the aircraft. The ten new P-40s were sent to the airfield at Lupog, to be assembled. The Oregon National Guard units were assigned to cover the Orote Peninsula and Tolofofo Bay with one Battery each. The Heavy Weapons Company 81mm mortars was split into itís three platoons with each platoon assigned to a Marine Infantry Company.
December 10-20 1941
The Governors office contacted all the village and town Mayors as well as the Roman Catholic Bishop, and asked that they plan on meeting at the Governors office at 1400. Governor Davidson wanted to insure that the people of Guam understood what was happing and why. Additional caves were set up as air raid shelters. One large cave was near the Piti Navy yard it was decided to use it as a back up aid station. Medical supplies and cots were moved to it from the small hospital in Agana. Volunteers from the Guamanian population would be given first aid training and would act as medics for the troops. The mayors were told that food would be rationed, that all extra supplies should be moved to caves to protect them. They in turn wanted to know about what air raids might mean to the fishing fleet. Governor Davidson asked that those engaged in fishing please continue to do so, so that fresh supply of fish would be available.
The S-41 returned to Agana Bay on the evening of the 10th. Damage would be able to be fixed by the Submarine Tender. But might take up to a week. On the 12th a PBY patrol over Saipan reported that all Japanese shipping was gone from the Saipan anchorage including the damaged IJN Kako. Without any way to be sure it was thought that the warships and transports might have withdrawn to Yap or all the back to Japan. No Japanese aircraft lifted off of Saipan to challenge the PBY. It was possible that the USAAC had destroyed all of Saipans planes.
This information was relayed back to Pearl Harbor along with the news of the arrival of the SS Samuel Jackson and that the equipment, supplies and troops had been off loaded. The freighter would attempt to make a run back to Hawaii while the Japanese warships were gone from the area. As military commander Admiral Davidson requested addition medical supplies be sent either by B-17 or submarine. Pacific fleet Headquarters was advised that with no Japanese aircraft on Saipan, B-17 ferry flights to the Philippines could resume. Then on the 11th word was received that Wake Island had fought off an attempt to take it. But the Wake defenders had Coastal Artillery as well as fighters.
Daily patrols over Saipan and out 300 miles from Guam by the PBYs were not finding any Japanese fleet units nor aircraft on Saipan. This pause in Japanese action in and around Guam would come to an end on December 21st.
IJN Forth fleet commander Admiral Nariyoshi and Major General Fomitaro Horii of the South Seas Detachment, were shocked and just a little dismayed that the Guam operation had failed so badly. Saipan by the second day of war had no aircraft left. Naval units and transports were withdrawn to Yap for repair and rethinking of what had gone so wrong. Both Wake and Guam had withstood the first attempts; however Wake had lost most of itís fighters. Guam however had not been surprised, all of itís aircraft had been aloft and the P-40 was more than a match for the Type-96 fighter. Intelligence and reconnaissance were needed to discover why Guam had not been surprised. Additional aircraft were going to be needed to swamp the air defense of Guam.
Admiral Nariyoshi put a request into IJN Headquarters that at least two carriers be sent to assist in the next effort at Guam. He was told that none would be available until late December around the 20. The decision was made that he would use what was left of his original attack force and would attempt to land the South Seas Detachment on the either the 21 or 22 after the two carriers The IJN Shokaku and IJN Zuikaku launched an overwhelming air attack on Guam. The two carriers would then proceed to Wake to overwhelm itís air defenses. It was thought that an attack again at sunrise would catch the Guam defenders asleep just as they had at Pearl Harbor. the thinking at Forth fleet Headquarters was that the warning from Pearl was what had alerted Guam before.
By the 20th the three damaged Havocs had been repaired as well as the one damaged P-40 from the first day. The USAAC now had 29 P-40s and 10 Havocs. The Navy still had all 8 PBYs and both the S-41 and S-43 were back out to sea. The S-43 was patrolling about 250 miles northwest of Guam on an arch back to the southwest. The S-41 was back by Saipan.
At 0455 On the morning of the 21st the radar reported a very large flight of aircraft from the northwest towards Guam, The operators thought it was at least 100 aircraft.
All fighters were scrambled and the 10 Havocs were sent with 5 P-40s on a backward vector from where the attacking aircraft were coming from. The dawn patrol of the PBY to the northwest reported that it could see two aircraft carriers at about 225 miles from Guam after giving the position report it went off the air and was thought to have been shot down. The S-43 was on the surface and was only 20 miles from the reported location. It increased speed heading for the contact reports and was able to close to within 5 miles before it had to submerge. Just after it submerged the 10 Havocs made an attempt to bomb the two carriers both turned right into the path of the S-43. At a distance of only 2000 yards it was able to put 2 torpedoes into the IJN Shokaku. The 5 P-40s were attempting to keep the carrier C.A.P. off the Havocs and were discovering that the Zeros could out turn them and that the Japanese pilots seemed to be better trained than the Type-96 pilots they had faced over Guam and Saipan. Still six of the Havocs dropped 500lb AP bombs on the IJN Zuikaku only two hit but they left it burning. Five Havocs and three P-40s went shot down. The remaining aircraft left for Guam wondering if there would any runways to land on. The S-43 while unable to continue itís attack did watch the Japanese task force tow the two damaged carriers away. After the last Japanese ship had disappeared over the horizon the S-43 surfaced reported to Guam and Pearl what had happened and was able to pull 2 of the P-40 pilots and 6 Havoc crewmen from the water. There were no Japanese carriers able to land their strike force they would have to land at Saipan after the attack on Guam.
The remaining 24 fighters at Guam lost 15 of their number in air battles but were able to down 5 Zeros and 15 Vals and 10 Kates. The Japanese dive Bombers (Vals and kates) were able to hit the Submarine Tender USS Seawall, the Minesweeper USS Penguin and sink the oil storage ship USS Robert L Barnes. While the Zeros attempted staffing attacks on the two airfields the quad 50ís were able to keep the damage limited. Two bombs hit the main runway at Barrigada but none at Lupog. Only 5 Havocs and 11 P-40s were left.
The Japanese had recovered around 60 aircraft at Saipan. Ten Zero fighters and a mix of Vals and Kates.
Air superiority was now in the hands of the Japanese. Unless Pearl Harbor would send a flight of B-17s that could be then armed and attack Saipan from Guam it did not look good. Once the USAAC recovered at Lupog while bomb repairs were being accomplished at Barrigada, Col Nash recommended an attack with what was left on Saipan right away. before it could be planned the S-41 reported the return of the Japanese invasion task force at the Saipan anchorage. The troop transports were more of danger than the Japanese aircraft something had to stop them.
The reports from the S-43 that two Japanese carriers had been badly damaged and were being towed to either Yap or Japan was acted upon by the Pacific Fleet Headquarters by dispatching a small convoy of two merchant ships with an escort of two destroyers towards Guam. Twenty more P-40s just arrived from San Francisco still in crates and 10 crated Havocs that had been planed to be shipped to American Samoa were along with crews, ammunition more food and medical supplies sent towards Guam. Two carriers the USS Saratoga and USS Enterprise along with their escorts would sail also but not with the convoy about 100 miles would separate the two groups. It was planed that maybe the Sara and Big E could raid the Saipan anchorage. Fleet Intelligence thought that based on radio intercepts the Japanese did not know that the radar was giving the warning at Guam. The Japanese thought the carrier task force was seen by the PBY and the submarine. The question was could the two subs and the paired down aircraft on Guam hold for the 5 to 10 days to get there.
United States Reaction
All over the United States calls to help Guam were coming into the White House, Congress and newspapers. People could see that at Guam and Wake we could fight back and win.
Could Guam hold? Would the relief convoy or itís escorting carriers be seen by the Japanese? Pacific Fleet ordered that if seen by the Japanese before reaching Guam the convoy and escorts were to turn back.
The raid on the Saipan AnchorageCol Nash could see that his pilots were exhausted but they had to hit the troop transports before they could land the IJA on Guam. Twice the Japanese had attempted sunrise attacks on Guam. It was time for some payback. The 5 remaining Havocs would be armed with general purpose bombs to damage as many troopships or transports as possible. Five P-40s would fly cover for the Havocs while the remaining six attempted to strafe the airfield. Should no CAP be seen over the anchorage the five P-40s there would attempt to strafe ships. Two passes only were planed if no CAP. Each Havoc could carry two 250lb general purpose bombs. After dropping the bombs they were to head for Guam at the lowest possible over water height as possible so that hopefully they could avoid the Japanese Zeros. The P-40s would climb and try to cover the return to Guam. Take off was planed for 0430 truck lights would line the runway.
The Japanese were caught off guard at both the airfield and anchorage. The first warning they had was when the P-40s started strafing the aircraft on the ground. The Havocs had a free run over the transports and hit three of them, heavy damage was seen. At the airfield two passes over the parked aircraft destroyed 6 of the remaining Zeros and 10 Kates along with damaging 5 Vals. No Japanese aircraft attempted to catch the retiring USAAC aircraft. Major General Horii of the South Seas Detachment was wounded by a piece of shrapnel and would end up losing his leg due to the wound. Plans to send the South Seas Detachment attack force to Guam was put on hold until such time that the USAAC could be overcame. Guam was turning into a tar pit for Japan. Two carriers and one cruiser along with 6 transports damaged. One cruiser sunk and almost 50 aircraft destroyed or damaged. Maybe it was time for Japan to do something to overwhelm the American forces on Guam. All across the Pacific Japan was winning except at Guam and Wake.
Plans had to be changed to delay deployment to the South Pacific. New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Bismark Islands would have to wait until Guam was taken. Carriers and other warships received new orders. Nothing could be pulled from Malaya, the Philippines or the plans for the DEI. But actions to the south would have to wait. It was planed to have the new covering naval forces to Yap by the new year. Then Japan would roll over Guam.
While the South Seas Detachment was licking itís wounds in Yap. The attempts to attack Wake from the Marshall Islands had, had only limited success. The naval units had lost 2 destroyers with a cruiser damaged. Most of the twin engine Bettyís had been shot down by the remaining Marine 4F4s on Wake. Plans were that after the IJN Shokaku and IJN Zuikaku were finished at Guam, they would continue to Wake. Those plans had to change with both carriers damaged at Guam.. Wake would be left alone until Guam had fallen.
The United States Pacific Fleet Intelligence unit was reading some of the Japanese coded messages and the decision was made to take the chance to reinforce Wake. The USS Lexington , itís escorts and supply ships set out for Wake on the 22d of December. This left Pearl Harbor without any carrier coverage. But with the knowledge that two of the Japanese carriers had been damaged it was felt this was a risk worth taking to get more aircraft and supplies to Wake. The United States had two carriers sailing towards Guam and one to Wake. Should both supply convoys get through it was felt that both Guam and Wake could hold.
Guam had thrown a monkey wrench into the time line set by the IJN Headquarters. The IJN Shokaku would have to be towed to Japan for dry dock work to repair the damage. Luckily the damage to IJN Zuikaku could be repaired with out dry docking her. She was sailing under her own power and repairs were hoped be accomplished by mid-March. The entire South Pacific plan to cut off Australia was going to be delayed. Guam had to be taken and taken fast. The next attack was planed for January 7th 1942. No change of forces from Singapore, Java or the Philippines was seen as needed.
With Wake still in American hands the route for the B-17s from Hawaii to Midway to Wake to Guam then on to the Philippines, following the Pan Am Clipper route could be used. But Japanese troop movements in the Philippines stopped the reinforcement of B-17s to the Philippines. But Guam was still open. On 26 December 1941 a flight of five B-17s landed at the Barrigade airfield. Refueling and loading of bombs
was accomplished and on the morning of the 27th the airfield at Saipan was awoken to the unloading of
5 B-17s bomb loads. Five P-40s had flown as escort and the remaining five Havocs again raided the anchorage. They report no warships or transports in the anchorage so dropped their bombs on the docks and buildings. The Japanese aircraft at Saipan had once again been taken by complete surprise. Damage at the airfield left it unable to land or take off aircraft due to numerous bomb craters. An unknown number of aircraft had been either destroyed or damaged on the ground. After returning to Guam The B-17s were refueled rearmed and place into revetments. Guam now had nine P-40s, five B-17s and five Havocs. The relief ships were two days away. For security reasons Guam did not know this.
Problems of equipment breaking down at the radar site were, because of constant use becoming worse. Word was passed to Pearl Harbor to send replacement parts as soon as possible, without the radar Guam would be blind. A special trip by one B-17 was laid on to bring parts to Guam. It should arrive on the 30th
Guam was advised. Guam was not told that an entire new SCR-270 was being shipped in on the relief ships along with a new operating crew so that Guam would have two radars.
When word was passed to Pearl Harbor that there were no Japanese ships at Saipan the planed raid by the Sara and Big E on Saipan were canceled. Where had the Japanese ships gone? It was thought Yap, could they be planning another attempt from there on Guam? Unless spotted the Sara and Big E would try to stay about 250 miles to the Southwest of Guam. If the Japanese came from Yap it was thought they would approach again from the Northwest which might give the two American carriers an opportunity to strike at the Japanese fleet. With Japanese air grounded at Saipan due to the bomb damage and the ongoing battles around Singapore and Java. Pacific Fleet Intelligence thought that at the most the Japanese might use the IJN Soryu and IJN Hiryu as a strike force. Should they launch at Guam they might just be left unguarded.
The USS Saratoga and USS Enterprise had to remain undetected for this surprise to work.
Action StationsAt 1300 on December 29th the S-43 reported that two US destroyers and two transports were about 50 miles from Agana Bay. Five P-40s were sent to act as a covering force for the four ships. As they steamed into the bay the damaged USS Seawall let loose with itís air horn as did the Minesweeper USS Penguin. With no foreknowledge of the relief ships everyone on Guam was overjoyed. Equipment, supplies, food fuel and more aircraft all were off loaded throughout the night and the next day. The P-40 aircraft were trucked to Barrigada airfield for assembly, while the Havocs were trucked up to Lupog airfield to be assembled. The new SCR-270 was trucked to Mt. Tenjo to be set up there for operation.
Work on assembly of the aircraft was undertaken by not only the aircrews but engineers and the security unit. All were assembled by the night of the 1st and engine and flight tests were accomplished on the 2nd. The new pilots that arrived were given briefings by the surviving pilots on Guam. While only nine P-40s were left there were 15 pilots unwounded and 5 wounded who had survived to that point. Three of these were double digit aces and two were aces. All briefed the new pilots with the same information. Stay with your wingman, Do not try to dogfight the Zero climb and dive on them. Your guns are better but the Zeros 20mm will kill you. If the Zero gets on your tail dive your faster only in a dive. Remember that the Kates and the Vals can damage our airfields and ships kill them , your 50cal guns just rip them apart. But stay alert for Zeros getting on your tail. You are going to be trained with our help on using the vectors from our radar crew to surprise the Japs. At first you will be teamed up with one of our older pilots. Remember to stay with your wingman. We will try to always during daylight have a CAP of 6 over the Island flying in pairs. From just before sunrise to sunset we will train and fly coverage. Our radar gives us a big advantage not one Japanese raid has surprised us here at Guam. But we have launched three big raids on Saipan and have surprised the Japs each time. Our raid on the Japanese carriers was made possible by the use of back tracking the heading from the inbound Japanese raid and the alert eyes of some very brave Navy PBY crews. Understand this the Japanese raid from their carriers cost us deeply. The Zero can and does fly rings round the P-40 but if you get it in your gun sights itís dead meat. The Japanese planes just canít stand up to our 50cal.
We have 5 B-17s and now 15 Havocs when ever they fly a mission we provide a covering force. When we hit the carriers 3 out of 5 P-40s were lost as were 5 Havocs. But we also have two Submarines and two Patrol Boats that will try their best to find you and bring you back. Col Nash will brief you about the Island itís people and our support troops. For those who donít know our security troops have 4 quad 50s to protect the airfields. Should a strafing attack happen by Japanese aircraft donít get to close behind the attacking aircraft as those quad 50ís just make mincemeat out of airplanes.
Coordination training started right away with the new SCR-270 and crew with the aircraft on Guam. By the 3d the four ships left with all the wounded personnel to return to Pearl Harbor. The Island had been supplied, rearmed and moral given a big push up.
The PBY crews doing the search around the island were the only people other than the Governors staff and the two submarines who know of the two American carriers to the Southwest.
All were told not to report their sightings of the American ships over the radio. PBY crews were told to if they saw American F4F fighters to just rock their wings in greeting. That no radio challenge would be given. The S-43 and the S-41 were both to patrol on an arc from the Northwest to the Northeast at around 250 miles out from Guam. Should they see a Japanese fleet or taskforce in the act of launching an air attack then attack otherwise wait until they could make a radio report to Guam and Pearl, the American carriers would hear the report and take action. After reporting then make their attacks. It was hoped that this way the two American carriers would not be discovered until after they had launched. Both carriers would return to Pearl if no action had happened by the 10th of January 1942. Other missions awaited them.
Contact and Fight
On January 6th the most northern evening patrol PBY reported seeing Japanese ships but contact was lost with it before it could give a position report or types of ships. Guam was able to inform both the S-41 and S-43 of the report and where it was thought the PBY had been on itís patrol. Unknown to Guam was that the USS Triggerfish was also in that area and had copied the PBYs report. At 2200 while on the surface to recharge itís batteries it saw the troop transports and what looked like 2 carriers. This position report was passed on to both Pearl Harbor and Guam. The S-41 was about 50 miles away the S-43 about 100. As the S-41 closed on the position given by the Triggerfish it saw another Japanese taskforce that had two carriers about 25 miles away from the Triggerfish reported position, thinking this was the same group that the Triggerfish reported it failed to notify either Pearl or Guam of itís position but did attempt to get into attack position. The USS Triggerfish continued to close while on the surface and at 0200 gave another position report then dove to get into attack position. The S-41 also still on the surface copied the 0200 report and it was only then that it realized there were two Japanese taskforces. The S-41 got off itís contact report and position and also dove but was seen by a Japanese destroyer and attacked by depth charges. It was forced to depart the area underwater and was unable to set up an attack.
Both Guam and the two American carriers were at first confused by the different position reports but then realized there were 4 Japanese carriers. On Guam the 15 Havoc and 5 B-17s were prepared for action. Ten Havocs would go after the first contact report, and five for the second. While the B-17s raided Saipan again.
No P-40s would go with the B-17s and only 5 with each Havoc group. That would leave 19 to cover the Island. It was hoped that after raiding Saipan the B-17s would be able to land rearm and head for the second contact. Take off from Guam would be at 0400 with lights from trucks to line the airfields.
To the Southwest the two American carriers prepared for a strike on the second contact. It was felt that these must be large carriers, that smaller carriers would be with the transports. Just before take off from Guam the Havocs and P-40s had their targets changed to hit only the first contact. It was only now that news of the two American carriers was passed on to the Guam attack force. The Havoc pilots and crews were told the carriers can hurt us but the transports can take the Island away. Go for the transports. The largest Naval Air battle to date was about to begin and so far the Japanese did not know about the American carriers.
The Japanese knew that a PBY had seen one group and that a submarine the other. They planned for a take off at sunrise 0540 with all bombers armed for taking out the airfields, Piti Navy Yard and any troop concentration spotted. The Transports with their escorts started the high speed run in towards Guam with the plan to be off the Tuman Beach by 0800 where they would split up with some heading for the Orote Peninsula to land the bulk of the troops there on the peninsula and only a few at Tuman Beach. One transport would continue down the island to land the 400 man special naval landing force at Cosos Lagoon.
three different locations were landings were planed. With almost 6000 men it was thought by the Japanese that following the air raids, this should be enough strength.
With odds of 4 vs. 2 the USS Saratoga and USS Enterprise made the joint decision to launch before daylight at 0400 using the landing lights on the carriers. This it was hoped would allow the American strike to close on the Japanese carriers just at sunrise. They did not know that their two targets were in fact the IJN Akagi and IJN Kaga. All American aircraft launched as planed from both Guam and the carriers. At 0500 the Japanese I Boat I-19 spotted the CA USS Portland before driving to get away from an approaching destroyer it sent a contact report of American ships to the Southwest. It was unable to report how many or what types. Scout floatplanes from the carrier escorts were launched to the Southwest. The IJN Akagi attack force was ordered to rearm with anti-ship ordnance. This would delay it launching itís aircraft until around 0630 which by that time it was hoped more information was reported. The combat air patrol (CAP) was increased from 10 Zeros to 20 over the Akagi and Kaga but CAP coverage over the Soryu and Hiryu and the transports had to be split. Fifteen stayed with the transports, five to each group; twenty stayed with the carriers. But this left only the twenty Zeros from the Kaga to cover the strike on the Island.
At 0540 the Japanese strike force started to launch with all strike aircraft forming up about 100 miles from Guam. Both radars on Guam reported the large formation of Japanese aircraft. All remaining P-40s lifted off from Barrigada airfield. Air raid warning were sounded through out the Island and the Guamanian population headed for the caves. Radar was reporting at least 150 aircraft on the way. American fighters and Havocs from Guam hit the rapidly approaching transports at 0700. The 15 Havocs made their approach as the P-40s attempted to keep the Zeros off them. All six transports were hit and damage from the 500lb AP and 250lb general purpose bombs started fires and dangerous listing on all six targets. The Havocs paid a price of 10 shot down along with all 10 P-40s. But the invasion transports had been stopped for the second time. The transports escorts attempted to rescue as many troops as they could and then retired towards Saipan
The P-40s had splashed only 4 Zeros. All 10 P-40 pilots were from the relief force and didnít have the experience to fight smart. The action was about 30 miles off the coast and both the YP-16 and 17 attempted to rescue as many pilots and Havoc crews as they could. The remaining 11 Zeros of the transports CAP having been unable to save the transports started their return to their carriers after flying cover for the escorts attempted rescue of troops from the transports.
At Saipan the B-17s arrived and unloaded their bombs just as the remaining Japanese aircraft were getting ready to lift off for a strike at Guam. Once again with no early warning the Japanese were sitting ducks. The Five remaining Zeros did lift off but were unable to stop the bomb runs. Saipan was once again out of business until the runways could be repaired. No B-17s reported any damage from fighter attacks. The box formation trained by the USAAC Bomber Command gave all around protection. The Zeros broke off after only two attempted passes.
At 0630 the USS Triggerfish was in position and fired a total of six torpedoes at the IJN Hiryu only one hit.
But it hit in the stern and damaged the props. The IJN Hiryu went dead in the water. The S-41 having been forced away from the second group of Japanese carriers had moved to the position reported by the Triggerfish and was also in position off the IJN Hiryu and fired two torpedoes at 0700 both hit. The IJN Hiryu already dead in the water had itís back broken and started sinking. Almost none of itís crew got off. The escorts around the Soryu and Hiryu savagely depth charged both American submarines. But as the Soryu was moving off they also moved to cover it leaving two American Subs damaged but not sunk.
A rain squall swept over the Akagi and while it was hidden by the squall the American strike force of 90 aircraft found the Kaga. Three torpedoes and four 500lb AP bombs left her in flames. Not seeing another carrier the American strike force attacked the escorts damaging two cruisers and three destroyers. Departing for the American ships they did not see the Akagi steam out of the squall nor did they see it launch itís aircraft to follow them. The CAP over the Kaga had shot down 10 Dive bombers and one torpedo plane and four F4F fighters, while the American fighters claimed eight Zeros.
The CAP over the Saratoga and Enterprise had twenty F4F fighters. The two carriers were about 8 miles apart. The twenty remaining escort fighters from the American strike were short on ammunition after the fight over the Hiryu. The Dive Bombers and Torpedo planes were short on fuel, they lined up to land first. As the two carriers were streaming in a straight line to allow the landings when the CAP saw the Japanese strike force. There were twenty F4Fs from the American strike along with the CAP of twenty. The Akagi had launched seventy five aircraft/ twenty Zeros, thirty Dive bombers and twenty five Torpedo planes. They split and attempted to attack both carriers. The American Dive Bombers and Torpedo planes cleared the area while the fighters strove to hit the bombers and torpedo planes. The American Dive Bombers went on the attack dropping down to sea level and going after the slower Japanese torpedo planes, this distracted the Zero fighters just long enough for the American fighters to breakup the Dive Bombers plan of attack on the Enterprise and Saratoga. Three Diver Bombers however got through to the Saratoga and hit the flight deck with their bombs and their aircraft.
The Saratoga became a torch. No Japanese Torpedo planes were able to launch and no hits were made on the Enterprise. As the Japanese aircraft withdrew less all twenty five Torpedo planes, fifteen Dive Bombers and ten Zeros. The Enterprise started landing the fuel starved planes it did not have room for all the planes from it and the Saratoga. Those aircraft from the Saratoga with fuel to make it to Guam were ordered to head there.
The attack on Guam by the combined forces of the Hiryu, Soryu and Kaga overwhelmed as planed the nineteen P-40s. Bomb hits closed both airstrips but again when the Zeros attempted to strafe the airfields the quad 50ís shot them down. Down town Agana, the Piti Navy Yard were hard hit, and both the Submarine tender and Mine Sweeper were sunk. The Japanese lost seven more zeros ten Kates and fifteen Vals to both the nineteen P-40s and quad 50ís. Only three P-40s were left and they were damaged with no where to land until the bomb damage was repaired. As soon as the last Japanese aircraft left the bulldozers were out filling the holes at Barrigada airfield. The five B-17s were also flying back from Saipan as were an unknown number of aircraft from the Saratoga and the last five Havocs. The airfield needed to be repaired fast and it was.
Japanese efforts to take Guam had failed. But at a very high cost.
Status and PlansAmerican airpower on Guam was down to 5 B-17s, 5 Havocs, 3 damaged P-40s. With the runways repaired at Barrigada and Lupog the 5 A-20 Havocs were moved to Lupog as were survivors from the Saratoga; Ten Navy SBD Dauntless Dive Bombers five TBD Devastators. Fifteen F4F Wildcats were sent to Barrigada. All the other aircraft from the Saratoga that had survived were on the Enterprise. The United states commander of the Enterprise task force and surviving Saratoga escorts, Admiral Halsey , ordered that 10 torpedoes be transferred to one of the destroyers. That destroyer was to make a high speed run to Guam off load the torpedoes so that the Devastators would have some weapons to use. After dropping off itís cargo it was to make itís way back to the task force. The American task force would start back towards Pearl Harbor with plans made to meet up with the USS Lexington somewhere around Midway Island.
The IJN commander , Admiral Naguno on the IJN Akagi ordered the surviving Soryu its escorts and the lost Hiryu escorts to join with him as they retired towards the home islands. New plans would have to made. The drive to isolate Australia and take most of the South Pacific to act as a line of defense for Japan had been handed a major setback. The South Seas Detachment had lost all six transports almost 2000 infantry troops were reported lost. The escorts were approaching Saipan and after disembarking the survivors would withdraw to Yap. Without air cover Saipan anchorage was not safe.
Returning aircrews reported that the American P-40 fighters over Guam tended to ignore the Zeros to push the attacks on the bombers. This cost them but it also meant more Japanese bombers were shot down then should have been. The reports of the success of the quad 50s covering the airfields led the Admiral to think that additional training on strafing was needed. Luckily there had not been any Anti-Aircraft Artillery other than the quad 50s or even more planes might have been lost. After the losses in the air battles the Akagi and Soryu had room for all the remaining Japanese planes. Saipan was reporting that one runway was repaired and that it had five Zeros, ten Kates and 10 Vals left from the Shoakau and Zuikaku aircraft that had been forced to land there after the battle on the 21 of December. Admiral Naguno had the Soryu send another ten Zeros to Saipan. He ordered Saipan to try to keep pressure on Guam but to do a better job of setting up some type of early warning for the Island.
On Guam the Havocs and the Dauntless were prepared for one more strike at Saipan and the escorts heading that way the five B-17s lifted off at 1500 followed by Havocs and SBDs. The B-17s would hit the airfield again while the Havocs and SBDs went for the ships. All fifteen surviving F4F would cover the dive bombers. The ten Zeros from the Soryu were just arriving over the Saipan airfield when the B-17s made their approach. With their attack on the bombers for the first time Saipan was able to disrupt an attack. Damage was very limited and two B-17s were damaged and had to make forced landings off Guam.
The attack on the South Seas Detachment escorts came with no warning and the SBDs were able to hit two heavy cruisers and one destroyer. The Havocs damaged 2 submarine chasers and one gunboat. Another 1500 infantry troops were lost. All the American fighters and bombers returned to Guam. The reports that Saipan had an active runway and at least fifteen Zeros put a damper on the good feelings.
Both sides were now exhausted and no more attacks happened for three days. Hawaii sent five more B-17s
and two submarines with medical supplies arrived in Agana Bay. The severely wounded and surviving P-40 pilots to include Guamís five aces were transported back to Pearl Harbor on the damaged Triggerfish and S-41. The two new subs The USS Salmon and USS Hammerhead along with the S-43 would continue to patrol around Guam. The Submarine Tender Seawall was repaired and would continue to act as a base for the three subs and 6 remaining PBYs. The damage underwater to the Seawall while it caused flooding was patched and the water pumped out. A supply run from Hawaii was going to be needed and two freighters, one light cruiser and two destroyers were loaded to be sent by the second week in February. This supply run would include two Batteries of 3in Anti-Aircraft guns as well as fuel, ammunition bombs and more P-40s. This small convoy would be covered by the USS Yorktown newly arrived at Pearl from the Atlantic and the Lexington.
Newspapers all across the United States were shouting the news of the gallant defenders of Wake and Guam. Questions were being asked why there but no where else were Americans winning? Was it the leadership? The lack of training or the effort at good training there. Guam had five aces. Again the questions were why there? A heroes welcome for the Army pilots was planed and questions would be asked how they accomplished with the P-40 what no one else was doing.
The same questions were being asked in Japan. One pilot off the Akagi reported what he thought was a radar set at Mt Tenjo. His was the first report that Guam had radar. Now the Japanese knew why no raids on Guam had achieved surprise. Saipan would need to be reinforced with IJA aircraft, IJN aircraft were needed elsewhere, so as to overwhelm the Guam defenders. Build up at Saipan would start as soon as either the Philippines or Malaya were secured.
The assault on the DEI was going on schedule. Guam and then the South Pacific would be next.
Japans Army and Navy except for Guam and Wake were having success in all the other areas,
Malaya was being occupied and the Singapore garrison was on itís last legs and expected to fall by mid-February. IJA troops were ready to start the advance into the Dutch East Indies. Plans were for the first troops to land on Sumatra by January 10th. The American army in the Philippines had been driven onto Bataan, without most of itís supplies. It was only a matter of time for it to surrender. All ready efforts to supply the Philippines had been reduced to what submarines could carry. Supplies to the DEI were having to be shipped to Australia then to Darwin and up the through the Java Sea to Java and Sumatra. Guam by holding had slowed the Japanese efforts to cut the supply lines in the South Pacific. Troops and ships planed to move South had been stopped. Two carriers were lost, two more damaged, numerous cruisers and destroyers damaged or lost. The South Seas Detachment reduced to 2500 men with no equipment on Saipan.
Plans had to be changed the IJN Zuikaku flight deck repairs would be speeded up and work to repair the torpedo damage on IJN Shokaku would be accomplished faster. Should it be needed work crews
for the Shokaku would be taken from other ship building projects. Aircraft and pilot losses were more than had been planed for. Training for new pilots would have to be looked at to see if the way training was being done would work for a longer war than originally planed for. Transfer of IJA air units to Saipan and additional troops and equipment would be accelerated. Additional transports and freighters would be moved to Yap then on to Saipan. The Marshall Islands would receive reinforcements of IJA air units so as to keep pressure on Wake Island but any invasion plans would be put on hold until after Guam was taken.
Guam had become a bottleneck that if left untaken could open the way for American reinforcement of the Philippines or provide a way to have supplies shipped there and the DEI without the long leg to Australia.
Orders were given, plans made, Guam to be taken by mid-March.
St Patrick's DayAll during the rest of January and February 1942 Japanese and American forces on Saipan and Guam raided each other by air. The American edge of having B-17s able to keep the airfield on Saipan closed due to bomb damage was off set by the Japanese zeal to repair it each night. By the end of February Japanese losses had left Saipan with only three Zeros and no attack aircraft. American combat losses had been 2 more B-17s lost along with 2 of the SBD Dauntless and 5 of the F4F fighters. Guam had received 20 more P-40s and now had 10 B-17s at Barrigada, Also ten of the new P-38 Lightings had been shipped in. Guam had eight SPD Dauntless, five A-20 Havoc and three TBD Devastators as well as 23 P-40s (the three damaged had been repaired) and ten F4F wildcats along with the ten P-38 lightings. The next supply convoy would include the Oregon National Guard Division the 41st. And more Havocs and P-40s. Fifteen more SBD Dauntless dive bombers that would be flown in off the USS Yorktown so as to give Guam an even stronger combined Navy and Army airpower. The Army engineers started work on another airfield by Cocos Lagoon. No Japanese shipping had been seen off Saipan after the escorts remaining of the South Seas Detachment had retired to Yap.
Plans were made to land troops on Rota Island some 90 miles off Guam and build yet another air field there. Chamorro scouts reported no Japanese troops on Rota other than a small communications staff. To insure the success of this operation the Pacific Fleet Headquarters made the decision to send a strong taskforce that would have the USS Yorktown and Lexington and their escorts as a covering force. While two of the American battleships The USS Colorado BB-45, and the USS New Mexico BB-40 along with three heavy cruisers, the USS San Francisco, Salt lake City and Indianapolis, and eight destroyers would be used to shell Saipan and add further protection to the relief convoy to Guam. The decision to send the two battleships had been hard but this large convoy had to get to Guam as Guam had to be held. With Japan having no air assets left on Saipan it was a risk to be taken. Pacific Fleet intelligence thought that with most of Japans Central Pacific naval units at Yap, the largest of which was two heavy cruisers that everything should work out right.
The Oregon NG division had at the start of the war on itís way to the Philippines and had been diverted to Australia then on to New Caledonia The transports to move it to Guam along with itís escorts two American CA the San Francisco and Salt Lake City with 4 destroyers departed on March 3 from New Caledonia for Guam. The Lexington with itís escorts would as act as an air covering force for the trip into the Central Pacific then would join with the Yorktown to cover the landing on Rota Island, and bombardment of Saipan.
The Naval department in Washington DC thought if this works as planed then maybe a convoy could go from Guam to Bataan. The knowledge that 4 of Japans top carriers were either sunk or damaged was changing minds about reinforcement of both the DEI and the Philippines. the taskforce from Pearl and New Caledonia were set to meet at Guam on St Patrickís Day, the 17th of March.
Repairs on the flight deck of the Zuikaku were finished by February 25 1942. The Akagi, Soryu and repaired Zuikaku would act once again as a covering force to first reinforce Saipan and then to take Guam. Two fast Japanese battleships would be sent from the home fleet, the Kirishima and Hiei, along with three CA the Mikuma, Tone and Kinugasa, two light cruisers the Tenryu and Yura as well as 10 destroyers. They would join up with the remaining original escorts of the South Seas Detachment and proceed to Saipan to land an Army Division from the Home Islands as well as an Army air unit of bombers and fighters. Then the Army units and the Battle line would move on Guam. Plans were for everything to be in place by the 17 of March.
Two FleetsThe American task force from Pearl Harbor escorting four freighters and one tanker, loaded with food, aircraft, fuel and ammunition had by 12 March reached Angana Bay. Leaving two destroyers to provide anti-submarine protection the two United States battleships along with the CA Indianapolis and two destroyers pulled back to a point about 100 miles from Guam. The one covering carrier the USS Yorktown was another 150 miles off shore along with it's escorts. Due to arrive from New Caledonia on 15 March were the eight transports carrying the 41st Infantry Division. The two escorting CA the San Francisco and Salt lake City would after the arrival of the transports join along with their 4 destroyers the Battleship task force. The USS Lexington covering the troop transports would then join with the Yorktown to cover by air the battleship task force as it in turn covered the landing on Rota Island of the three Marine Companies stationed on Guam. The arrival of the 41st Division would free up the Marines to take Rota which scouting units advised had less than fifty Japanese troops on the Island. Plans called for the Rota invasion to have a D Day of 18 March.
With the knowledge that eight more transports with troops and equipment would be arriving on the 15th. The four freighters and the tanker were off loaded around the clock by the Piti Naval Yard personnel along with help by the Army engineers, USAAC and Marines on Guam. The new aircraft were moved to the airfields and work on assembly started. The new pilots were briefed on procedures and actions. The big surprise was that all most all the airmen sent back to Pearl had after debriefing there, voluntary asked to return to Guam.
Guam was becoming an unsinkable aircraft carrier. Four more PBYs were flown in via the Midway, Wake route as well as six more B-17s. Vigilance and reconnaissance over Saipan and the waters surrounding the Mariana Islands was further improved by the addition of two more Submarines patrolling around Guam.
Not only was Guam unsinkable but with the 41st Division arriving it was now thought to be safe from conquest also. The big problem would be food and supplies. Should Japan be able to reinforce Saipan and send a fleet to blockade the Island that could creative another Bataan. The lines of supply from Hawaii would have to be kept open. Until such time as the new battle line was ready to face the Japanese as much food and equipment would have to be sent in as possible. Plans were made to supply Guam with two convoys a month. Covering forces would have to be used as needed to include a carrier with each convoy.
Japanese reinforcements for Saipan were approaching from the Northwest. Ten transports and 4 freighters with the 32d Infantry Division troops and equipment escorted by two fast battleships, three heavy cruisers and two light cruisers and ten destroyers were by March 15, 150 miles from Saipan. Their three carriers providing coverage were 90 miles to the west. The remaining escorts and transports of the South Seas Detachment from Yap were approaching Saipan from the Southwest with plans to continue northward until meeting with the ships of the 32d division. Between the escorts for the South Seas Detachment and the escorting force for the 32d Division the Japanese had two Battleships, a total of five heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and nine destroyers. The three aircraft carriers had as their escorts another six heavy cruisers,
3 light cruisers and 10 destroyers. This overwhelming force had orders to first reinforce Saipan, and then to land the 32d Division on Guam. Japanese floatplanes were attempting reconnaissance of Guam and the surrounding area were meeting with no success as American fighters were intercepting them as much as 100 miles out from Guam. Vectored to the floatplanes by the radar on Guam. The Japanese fleet was sailing in the dark with no new intelligence on Guam.
The increase of floatplane scouts by the Japanese was correctly interpreted by American intelligence agents that a Japanese attempt to reinforce Saipan was underway. PBYs and submarines were tasked to increase patrols to the Northwest. B-17s raided Saipan to insure that the airfield there was closed. Flights over all of Saipan discovered a second airfield was being built. It also was visited by the B-17s. On the afternoon of 15 March the ships of the 32d Infantry Division were seen by a PBY. The USS Salmon was ordered to check out the contact report. Two more sighting by PBYs were reported as the Japanese task force from Yap joined with the task force escorting the 32d Division. As more American reconnaissance efforts were sent to check out the ships with the 32d Division a weather front moved over the three Japanese carriers. They were not seen by any American assets. A large strike from Guam was planned but was unable to take-off due to a heavy storm that dropped almost 5inchs of rain with 40 to 50 knot winds over the Island. The fast moving storm cleared the island by 1800 on the 16th. Three American submarines were in contact with the Japanese fleet. It too had, had to slow itís approach due to the bad weather. By 0400 on the 17th the Japanese transports and freighters were approaching the Saipan anchorage. As the submarines reported the status of the transports they also reported that the majority of the warships were on a course towards Guam.
Admiral Newton commanding the USS Lexington felt something was very wrong. Why are Japanese sending surface vessels to Guam with no air coverage? There is nothing on Saipan to give them coverage there must be Japanese aircraft carriers out there. But no carriers had been seen. Contacting Guam might give his position away but the transports with the 41st Division had because of that storm been delayed. They were only now starting to make their way into Agana Bay to be off loaded. A message was sent to Guam asking that more assets be sent to look for possible Japanese carriers. Now that a message had been sent he contacted the Yorktown and he and Admiral Kincaid made the decision that they would configure all strike aircraft for anti-ship action. All units were brought to action stations for possible Japanese air strikes.
On the battleship USS Colorado, Admiral Cunningham, was kept up to date by his communications staff.
So two Japanese fast battleships with a possible identification as the IJN Hiei and IJN Kirishima were headed for Guam for possible ship to shore bombardment. It was possible that the Colorado and New Mexico could surprise them. The two American battleships with three heavy cruisers and destroyers started towards Guam. They would hold position 4 miles off Ritidan Point, launch their floatplanes and see what happens. P-38s from Lupog would cover the American task force just in case with orders to make sure no Japanese floatplanes came anywhere near them.
At 0530 Guam launched all SBD Dauntless and A-20 Havocs covered by 20 P-40s for a raid on the Saipan anchorage. All B-17s were also launched to raid the Saipan airfields and docks. It was felt that the raid would have time to hit Saipan return to Guam rearm for an anti-shipping strike on the approaching warships. The remaining F4Fs 10 P-38s and 20 P-40s would be kept as a combat air patrol for Guam.
The three TBD Devastators were armed and made ready for the anti-shipping strike. Until it was known
if there were any Japanese carriers or not, no strikes from the American carriers would happen. The PBY covering the Saipan anchorage reported at 0630 that there were 10 Japanese Zeros approaching the anchorage acting as a combat air patrol over the ships off loading. Hiding in a cloud it was not seen by the Japanese fighters. At 0700 the American air strike started. with the warning given of Zeros in the area the P-40s were able to protect the dive bombers as they dove on the transports. At the same time 5 of the B-17s started a bombing run over the dock area and the troops unloading there. The Japanese Zeros went for the P-40s and allowed the SBD dive bombers and A-20s what amounted to a free run on the transports in the harbor, only limited anti-aircraft fire disrupted the attack runs. No American attack aircraft were lost, 8 P-40s were lost and all 10 Zeros were shot down. The Japanese transports were left burning and sinking of the 18,000 troops assigned to the 32d Division almost 1/3 were dead or injured. Almost all equipment was lost on the sinking transports. Saipan now had around 14,000 infantry troops with no heavy equipment or weapons and a limited amount of ammunition.
The three Japanese carriers at 0600 launched a massive strike at Guam but sent only 10 fighters to cover the transports. Radar on Guam reported 130 to 150 aircraft on approach towards Guam arrival of the attack would be around 0745. The back track of the radar vector showed that the Japanese were about 135 miles from Guam to the Northwest. 2 PBYs managed to spot and report the position before both were shot down.
The three American submarines tracking the warships were given the go ahead to attack the Japanese warships. Two other American submarines were directed towards the Japanese carriers. The Yorktown and Lexington now having the Japanese position launched their attacks on the Japanese carriers.
The battle over Guam was bloody. Forty Zeros were with the attack aircraft that were to hit the airstrips and any shipping discovered in Agana Bay. American pilots for the most part as before attempted not to engage the Zeros but to go after the attack aircraft. Japanese losses of attack aircraft consisted of almost 50 percent. No ships were hit in Agana Bay as that was where the P-38s were sent to cover. American losses in F4Fs and P-40s were at almost 75percent. But the job was accomplished Barrigada airfields runway was undamaged. Lupog airfield runway was cratered but work started right away on fixing it. Only 20 Zeros out of the 40 escorted the remaining attack aircraft back towards their carriers.
As the returning Japanese aircraft were nearing the carriers, the American strike on the three Japanese carriers began. the Zeros from the Guam strike rushed to join the Zeros flying CAP over the carriers. The inadequate TBD Devastators were unable to launch any of their torpedoes before being shot down by the Japanese Zeros or hit by flack from the anti aircraft guns. Their loss brought most of the Zeros down to sea level making life easy for the SBD dive bombers The just repaired flight deck of the Zuikaku and the flight deck of the Soryu were both pierced by three bombs. Fires started in hanger decks and both slowed to just under half their normal speed. Once again the Akagi lived a charmed life with no hits. As the American strike left for their carriers, two float planes from the carriers escorts trailed behind them The Akagi was able to land the remaining strike from Guam refuel and rearm for anti shipping and send them on the way towards the American carriers. Fires were brought under control on both the Soryu and Zuikaku and along with escorts turned for home.
Admiral Naguno on the Akagi thought that this just might be the end. Two more carriers damaged. The reinforcements for Saipan destroyed. Unless his strike aircraft got lucky American airpower around Guam would insure it would and could hold. His hope now was that the battleship and cruiser bombardment would cause more harm to the Americans. It was beginning to look that more assets from either Japan or China would be needed. This was not going to be the quick war the General Staff thought. It was as Admiral Yamamoto had forewarned the United States was not going to stop until Japan either won or America did. The Americans were not soft.
The Japanese strike on the two American carriers was reported by radars from both American carriers and from Guam. Still 35 Zeros and 45 strike aircraft of both dive bombers and torpedo planes attacked the Yorktown and Lexington, American SBD Dauntless again attempted to use the same tactic of flying at sea level to disrupt the torpedo planes. This time it failed as three hits were made by torpedoes on the Lexingtonís port side. Aviation fuel lines broke and a massive hanger deck fire started, two near misses by dive bombers sprang plates and started leaks along the starboard side. The list towards the port side was counter flooded and speed dropped to 10 knots. The Yorktown was hit on the flight deck by one bomb forward. It could still recover aircraft but would be unable to launch them. The decision was made that any aircraft that had enough fuel were to make for Guam. After landing those aircraft that could not make Guam the two carriers started back towards Pearl Harbor.
The Akagi after recovering what was left of three carriers planes no longer had the aircraft strength to try to take on Guam by itís self. It would hold in the area until after the shore bombardment and then retire to Japan with the rest of the warships, following the other two carriers.
By 1600 the Japanese bombardment ships were sitting 5 miles off Saupon Point. escorting destroyers had dropped depth charges on what was thought to be an American submarine spoiling itís attack set up. Their float planes acting as spotters were ready to adjust fire for the two battleships and five cruisers. Shortly after launching from the battleship catapults American P-38s shot them down. Then at 1630 the three TBD Devastators made a torpedo run on the IJN Hiei. One torpedo hit that while not causing major damage did flood an oil bunker. Japanese lookouts then reported two American float planes just as water splashes from 2 ranging shots from the USS Colorado big 16in guns fell astern of the IJN Hiei. Then two more splashes fell aft of the IJN Krishima from the USS New Mexico 14in guns. Both Japanese battleships attempted to target the American ships and without their spotting planes, they were dependent on their lookouts. Even so the Japanese scored the first hits on the New Mexico just aft of the bridge. Then both the Colorado and the New Mexico as well as their cruisers found the range and started hitting the two Japanese battleships and two of the Japanese cruisers.
Hoping to off set the American advantage of aircraft acting as spotters, the Japanese destroyers made a high speed torpedo attack run on the five American war ships. Launching their Long Lance torpedoes then laying down a smoke screen to cover the Japanese ships. The USS Salt lake City took one torpedo amidships and lost all power. All the rest of the torpedoes missed but the American formation was broken due to dodging the Japanese torpedoes. With both IJN battleships damaged the Japanese started to withdraw only to have the SBD Dauntless dive bombers launch an attack that managed hits on three of the cruisers and one on each battleship. Both task forces broke away from each other to recover, just as Japanese dive bombers from the Akagi attempted a bomb run on the American ships. American P-38s broke up the Japanese attacks as both side withdrew out of range. The Japanese battle line broke towards the Northwest to meet up with the Akagi and head for Japan.
The battle was over. Japanese and American losses were high but the United States was left holding Guam.
With Guam being still under United States control Japans Southward expansion. was stopped. Australia was safe. Saipan had no way to attack Guam. Wake was also safe and American counter attacks towards the Marshall Islands would begin. Convoys to Guam would come under attack from Japanese submarines but they could not stop the flow of material into Guam. The Philippines and the Dutch East Indies would still fall. But as Japan was to find out in April the United States would and could attack the home islands ( the Dolittle raid). Japans leadership had not understood American resolve and would pay the price as total war raged in the Pacific.
If only the Congress of the United States had saw the hand writing on the wall; that war was on the way and actions needed to be taken. Maybe then this could have been the real history not Alternate History. Had The United States prepared for War then just maybe Japan would have backed down.
Last edited by Burton K Wheeler; June 16th, 2011 at 01:30 AM..