USS Fletcher DD-445

Tarawa Action Report

November 26, 1943

c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Calif.

Serial 073

CONFIDENTIAL (DECLASSIFIED)                                                                    26 November 1943.

From:  The Commanding Officer.
To:    The Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.
Via:   (1) Commander Task Group 50.2.4 (ComDesDiv 42).
           (2) Commander Task Force 50.2 (R.Adm. A.W. Radford, U.S. Navy)
           (3) Commander Central Pacific Fleet.

Subject: Action Report.

Reference: (a) PacFlt Conf. Ltr. 36CL-42.
                        (b) CTG 50.2 despatch 271707 of November, 1943.

  1. This vessel, while serving as a screening unit attached to Task Group Fifty Point Two and operating fifty miles west of Tarawa Island, (Gilbert Group), participated in repelling several torpedo attacks by Japanese aircraft about 1900 (Zone plus twelve) on November 26, 1943. The Officer in Tactical Command was Rear Admiral Radford in ENTERPRISE. Formation was in Five Victor; this vessel's station 2.5/020 (Axis 310°T), positioned between INDIANA and BOYD.

  2. Weather Conditions:

     Wind from S.E. - Force 2,
     Sea - Calm,
     Night - Dark, overcast.

  3. Of an estimated ten attacks on the formation totaling thirty to forty planes that attacked the formation from many directions, there were three that approached this vessel from a direction in which the FLETCHER could fire (220°T through north to 060°T), without endangering adjacent ships. Defense of the formation was maintained by gun fire, radical maneuvers by O.T.C. and by night fighter action.

  4. Since the raids occurred during total darkness, full Fox Dog Radar control was used for both main battery and 40mm battery. On this vessel the 40mm may be controlled by Fox Dog Radar from main battery director. Since the initial velocity of 40mm and 5 inch projectiles are almost identical, the main battery solution and ballistic correction can be applied satisfactorily to the 40mm trajectory. The 5 inch mark 32 projectile was used during all main battery firings. Total ammunition expenditure was 94 rds. - 5 inch Mk 32 (Lot S); 84 rds. - 40mm. The type of attacking plane was not ascertained, but was believed to be the Jap "Betty". Estimates of the number of planes in each case was made from the SC-2 Radar screen.

  5. At 1900 Attack No. 1 was contacted bearing 305°(T), distance about fifteen miles, on course 170°(T), speed 180. Own ship's course at this time was 170°(T), speed 20 knots. At 1903 the formation appeared to be four planes flying at an altitude of about three to five hundred feet, and changed course to 130°(T). At 1905 with the planes bearing 270°(T) (110° relative), speed 160 the FLETCHER and INDIANA opened fire on the group. At 1906 two planes were shot down and seen to crash in water without catching fire; observers, following the direction of 40mm tracer fire, claim one plane definitely shot down by FLETCHER with the second plane a possible by this vessel. This raid is described in Enclosure (A).  This attack was preceded by shadowers dropping over twenty flares ahead and on original starboard beam of formation.

  6. At 1913 Attack No. 2, estimated to be about four planes, was contacted bearing 285°(T), 10,300 yards, course 120°(T), speed 160. At 1916 this raid changed course to 050°(T) and closed the formation on bearing 230°(T). This raid was taken under fire by other ships of the formation with unobserved results from this vessel; target was in blind sector for this vessel. The formation changed course to 240°(T) at 1917. At 1919 the RADFORD reported "Torpedo wake on port side of the formation." The raid retired on course 180°(T), speed 180.

  7. At 1926, Attack No. 3, estimated to be three to four planes, was contacted bearing 310°(T), ten miles, course 100°(T), speed 130, closing. Own ship's course was 280°(T). At 1929 this vessel opened fire bearing 010°(T), range six thousand yards, and an emergency turn of 90° to the left was ordered by the O.T.C., bringing  the ships to course 190°(T). About 1930 the FLETCHER ceased firing on an opening range. During this phase the after port side of the FLETCHER was sprayed with numerous bits of shrapnel from the AA fire of an unknown ship of the formation. One piece, identified to be part of a 5" projectile, struck the primer at the base of a 40mm projectile in the hands of CURRY, Charles W., F2c, USNR, an ammunition passer on 40mm mount No. 45. The resultant explosion of the 40mm shell caused severe multiple laceration and compound fractures of the right forearm of this man. Another man, PETERSON, Howard "M", TM3c, USNR, (Depth Charge Watch) sustained a slight scalp contusion when struck by a piece of shrapnel. Several small holes and dents were made on superstructure, torpedo tubes, and depth charges, none serious. There was no equipment disabled. Details of Attack No. 3 are given in Enclosure (B). (missing)

  8. At 1930 Attack No. 4, estimated to be from two to four planes was contacted bearing 325°(T), range 11,900 yards on course 190°(T), speed 150, opening. Own ship's course was 190°(T). At 1931 it changed course to 125°(T) and shortly afterward passed into the blind sector of this vessel at three thousand yards. Simultaneously, the O.T.C. ordered an emergency turn of 90° to the left to course 100°(T). "Commence firing" was ordered at 1931 and "Cease firing" at 1932, when firing bearing closed blind sector. No results were observed. Details of Attack No. 4 are given in Enclosure (C). (missing)

  9. The conduct of all personnel was excellent and in accord with the best traditions of the service. The performance of the anti-aircraft battery was eminently satisfactory; as far as could be limitedly observed at night, both the 5 inch projectiles and 40mm ammunition functioned satisfactorily. There were no material casualties; the only two personnel injuries sustained were mentioned in paragraph 7.


Copy to:
  ComInch (advance copy)
  ComDesRon 21
  War Diary (3)

Serial 065

Destroyer Division Forty-Two,
c/o Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, Calif.,
7 December 1943.


CO FLETCHER Conf. ltr.
DD445/A16-3 Serial 073
dated 26 November 1943.

From:  The Commanding Destroyer Division Forty-Two.
To:      The Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.
Via:     (1) Commander Task Group 50.2.(R.Adm. A.W. Radford, U.S. Navy)
           (2) Commander Central Pacific Fleet

  1. Forwarded.

  2. The first attack was made while there was still sufficient light to see planes with binoculars. I observed this attack with binoculars and identify the planes as "Betties". Of the four in my field of vision two were brought down and crashed with large clouds of black smoke.


Serial 059


2nd Endorsement
ltr. DD445/A16-3
serial 073 dated
26 November 1943.

From:  Commander Task Force 50.2 (Commander Carrier Division ELEVEN.)
To:    The Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet.
Via:   Commander Central Pacific Fleet.

Subject: Action Report.

  1. Forwarded.

  2. The Task Group Commander takes this opportunity to state that the fire support and station keeping of screening vessels in both the subject action and on the preceding night were excellent.


Copy to:
  ComDesDiv 42

Flagship of the Commander

Serial 052


ltr. DD445/A16-3
Serial 073 of 11/26/43.

From: Commander Central Pacific Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
To: Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Subject: Action Report.

  1. Forwarded.



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