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Photographer's Diary Part 2
(18 May 1944 - 30 December 1944)

This Photographer's Diary is an extension of the USS Natoma Bay (CVE-62) online logbook project described here.

Part 1 (14 October 1943 - 18 May 1944)

Part 2 (18 May 1944 - 30 December 1944)

Part 3 (1 January 1945 - 15 August 1945)


Comments, corrections, and additional information should be sent to:
Lucinda DeWitt
109 Chelsea Drive
Whiting, NJ
or use our contact form



(as transcribed by Glenn McWilliams)

Part 2 (18 May 1944 - 30 December 1944)

18 May 1944

Entered Pearl Harbor at 1100. Tied up at the Navy Yard. The squadron flew off to Kaneohe.

19 May

Started work on engines. Took on stores.

21 May

About 10 LST and an ammunition ship burned and blew up. Believe 700 killed.

22 May

Work continued on engines. Began new paint job. Lots of new radio and radar gear added.

1 June 1944

Shifted from Navy Yard to Ford Island. We loaded 37 Army P-47's aboard. We have the 19th Fighter Squadron aboard and the MANILA BAY has the 18th. We are to catapult them in the Marianas.

5 June

Underway at 1600 with the MANILA BAY, HECTOR, 584, and 585 for Eniwetok, Marshall Islands. There we will fuel, leave the HECTOR and proceed the Marianas. Our P-47's are to land on an airfield on Saipan as soon as it is secured by our ground forces.

6 June

Smooth sailing. Invasion of Europe started on the French coast.

9 June

G.Q. during the day caused by unidentified planes which turned away.

10 June

This day lost by crossing the International Date Line.

13 June

Entered Eniwetok lagoon at 1300.

14 June

Recreation party for the first section. Much evidence of the heavy fighting that took place a month ago still remains.

15 June

The Army's newest P-61 night fighter flew in and landed on the airstrip here. Initial attacks on the Marianas began. 125 Jap planes were shot down. We lost 15. We are put on 2 hour notice to leave for there.

16 June

Pulled out of Eniwetok at 0900 with the MANILA BAY (MB), 584, and 585 headed for Saipan. Jap fleet left the Philippines for the Marianas and should reach there about the same time we will. (Aren't we going the wrong direction?). B-29 Superforts bomb Japan.

17 June

Jap torpedo planes and bombers attack a force just ahead of us and did some damage.

18 June

Big tank battle going on in Saipan. We heard the battle over the radio. Our losses are heavy. Japs recaptured the airfield our P-47's were to land on. At 1500 the tankers ahead of us are under heavy attack. One was torpedoed. At 1930 the tankers are under a second attack by 12 planes. One tanker afire - 3 damaged. The FANSHAW BAY (CVE-70) shot down 5 planes, but took a bomb hit.

19 June

Early GQ. 30 miles off Saipan.

0700 - 14 freighters and cans 10 miles from us under heavy attack. Jap plane shot down just off our port bow. Japs recaptured airfield so we can't catapult our P-47's yet. Two very large Jap forces about 600 miles from Saipan.

1100 - Heading east fast. Japs have air superiority because our big carriers left to meet the Jap fleets.

1200 - Freighters under second attack.

1530 - Freighters under third attack. Fierce tank and infantry fighting heard over the radio in Charan-Kanoa area. Many flame throwers used.

20 June

Early GQ. 300 miles east of Saipan and headed back there again. We were supposed to fuel the destroyers but didn't. Too many Jap planes around.

1000 - Jap sea plane (Emily) circled around but didn't quite come within AA range. P-47 readied in case of another attack.

21 June

Back and forth about 200 miles off Saipan. Still no airfield for our planes to land. Heavy fighting.

22 June

40 miles from Saipan. Marines captured Aslito Airfield and the CB's have fixed it enough to take same of our planes. Catapulted 25 at 0730. 12 left to be catapulted tomorrow. DD sank sub 25 miles away. Battleship next to us attacked last night. One got a torpedo hit.

News Release (22 June 1944)


23 June

20 miles off Saipan. Launched remaining 12 P-47's. We could see evidence of heavy fighting on the S.E. corner of Saipan where a large Jap army is trapped. Much artillery fire could be seen.

1230 - 3 BB, 2 CA, 3 tankers, 15 DD, MANILA BAY, and us were under attack by Jap Zekes carrying 2 350 pound bombs each. The attack was concentrated on the MB and us, no bombs being dropped on the other ships. No hits, but some close near misses. No planes were shot down but some were damaged. Two were shot down by fighters on their way back to Tinian.

24 June

20 miles off Saipan. Flares seen from fighting ashore. MB launched her planes and we headed for Eniwetok at 1600.

27 June

Pulled in Eniwetok at 1600. Most of the fleet (BB, CV, CVL, CA, CL) already in.

29 June

GQ at 1100. 4 Jap planes came in close and were shot down.

30 June

GQ during the night. Jap planes were shot down by night fighters.

1 July 1944

Took on load of badly wounded from Saipan. Left Eniwetok at 1800 with MANILA BAY (MB), 2 oilers, and 2 cans for Pearl Harbor. We are S.O.P.A.

4 July

Had two 4ths of July. Crossed the International Date Line.

8 July

Pulled in to Pearl Harbor at 0800. Ambulances were waiting to take off the injured. Unloaded all bombs and took on passengers for the States.

9 July

Left Pearl Harbor at 0700 for San Diego. Due there on 16th. Gunnery practice all morning.

12 July

35 knot wind. Heavy sea.

16 July

Arrived San Diego at 1000. Wounded and passengers removed. Shifted berths to Repair Base. 15 day leave for the first half of crew. Repairs to ship began.

2 August 1944

First leave ends and the second leave party shoved off. Ship is in dry dock with all hands over the side.

7 August

Captain Meadow is relieved by Captain Morehouse. (A great relief to all hands). We also have new Air and Engineering Officers. About 30% of the crew is transferred and replaced with new men. We are to get a new squadron, VC-81.

20 August

Shifted berths and began taking on ammunition, bombs, and rockets.

22 August

Went out for one day trial run, flight operations, and gunnery practice. Returned to San Diego in the evening.

23 August

Took on stores, passengers, and 16 B-25's.

24 August

Shoved off for Pearl Harbor. We are Flagship, Carrier Division 24 with Admiral Stump and staff aboard. We are to pick up oursquadron VC-81 at Pearl Harbor.

25 August

Heavy sea and high wind. Most of passengers and crew sick.

31 August

Gunnery trials with new ammunition for the 5"-38.

1 September 1944

Sighted Oahu at 0830. Docked at 1300 Ford Island. Unloaded passengers and planes.

5 September

Underway to check out our squadron and have gunnery practice. VC-81 flew aboard. Bombing and rocket practice on towed sled. One barrier crash.

7 September

Rocket practice in the morning, then VC-81 flew in to Pearl Harbor. Qualification landings for VC-81 in the afternoon. Three barrier crashes.

8 September

Carrier landing practice for Air Group 100 consisting of F6F, SB2C, and TBM. One F6F went into the catwalk.

9 September

Night landing practice.

10 September

Moored at Ford Island. Began preparing for Admiral's inspection.

13 September

Successful inspection.

15 September

Shoved off from Pearl Harbor with the Flag aboard. The scuttlebutt says we are headed for Yap the big Jap naval and air base. Our first stop is to be Eniwetok in 9 days. We are with the MANILA BAY (MB), about 40 transports and landing craft, and many destroyers. Gunnery practice and flight operations all afternoon.

16-19 September

Flight operations, strafing, and rocket practice.

21 September

Crossed the date line and lost the 20th.

25 September

Arrived Eniwetok. Started taking on stores. Swimming party over the side.

28 September

Shoved off from Eniwetok for Manus Island (Admiralty Islands) with MB and our previous force. Seems as though we are headed for the Philippines. Gunnery practice and flight operations.

1 October 1944

A destroyer rammed us whi1e transferring guard mail. It made a one foot hole in our side. The destroyer lost her anchor and received 4 or 5 holes. MB fighter spun in while landing. The pilot was lost. I made Chief!

2 October

Flight operations. One of our fighters went over the side during take off. The pilot was picked up by one of the cans. Another fighter missed all the arresting cables, hit the barrier and flipped over on its back. The pilot received a broken finger. We crossed the equator.

Fighter #11 nosing up after hitting barrier.

Fighter #11 nosing up after hitting barrier.

Fighter hits barrier; looses wing tank.

Fighter hits barrier; looses wing tank.

3 October

Entered Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Islands, and dropped the hook. The harbor was filled with all types of ships.

4 October

About 250 pollywogs were duly initiated into the domain of Neptune Rex, Ruler of the Raging Main, with an elaborate and colorfuI ceremony which included beating their tails. My part was Royal Chief of Police.

6 October

Still at anchor. Played basketball game with MB. We won.

7 October

An orchestra from one of the transports came aboard in the evening to entertain us.

8 October

Smoker and boxing match held with MB. We won 3 1/2 to 2 1/2.

9 October

Colored CB orchestra entertained us.

11 October

Lt. Barrett was awarded the Bronze Star Medal by Admiral Stump for work done as Executive Officer of a destroyer in the Solomons.

12 October

0600 - Shoved off from Admiralty Islands with 12 CVE, 8 Battleships, 4 Cruisers (Gen. MacArthur aboard the NASHVILLE) and 40 destroyers. We are headed for the Philippines. We are to strike and soften Leyte and then cover the landing. This is the biggest operation of this war. October 20 is "A" day.

15 October

Passed Palau (Our troops are still fighting on the island). Quite a few bogeys, but none closed in. Bad weather and high seas.

16 October

Flight operations. Jap planes came within 40 miles.

17 October

A-3 day. Ran into typhoon last night. High sea and wind up to 70 knots all day. "Commandos" landed and secured two small islands controlling the entrance to Leyte Gulf. One of our destroyers was sunk in the operation.

18 October

A-2 day. The 18 carriers have split up into 3 divisions. We have 6 carriers and 6 destroyers. Battleships and cruisers are shelling the beach at Leyte. I flew the photo mission in the afternoon. We mapped the beaches and 4 Jap airfields. We also shot obliques of the airfields. Encountered anti aircraft fire, but they missed.

19 October

A-l day. We lost a fighter in the morning hop. A TBM pulled out its tail hook in landing. He couldn't use his flaps because they were shot out. At 0930 bogeys were chased away.

1100 - GQ. 11 Bettys and 12 fighters were intercepted by our CAP and all were shot down or chased away.

20 October

A day. Early GQ with many bogeys. SANTEE had two near misses and shot down 1 of 6 attacking planes. Our fighters shot down a Sally (two engine bomber) 40 miles away. 2 CV, 2 CVL, and our 18 CVE are bombing and supporting landings which started at 1000. 125,000 troops landed and were slightly ahead of schedule. SANGAMON hit with 250 pound bomb. HONOLULU took a fish.

21 October

A+l day. Troops have advanced 2 1/2 miles from shore and captured Dulag and Tacloban airfields. Army gunners shot down a MB TBM, but the crew bailed out and were rescued by a PT boat. We fueled a destroyer during the night, but had to stop, as subs were picked up 7 and 10 miles away.

22 October

Troops moving ahead slowly. Our fighters and TBM strongly supporting ground forces.

23 October

Troops continue to move ahead slowly. We photographed the whole area ahead of our troops and saw tanks battling it out, and lots of mortar and shell fire.

24 October

Leyte under attack by 33 Sally (twin engine bomber) with many Zekes as escort. Many were shot down by CAP, but some damage was done by them. Six of the SANGAMON's F6F were shot down while attacking the island of Cebu. Much of the Jap fleet is headed this way. Our submarines sank one cruiser, put 4 fish in a battleship, and got a hit on a carrier last night. Air attack on Leyte continues all day. Some of our transports, LST, and LSI have been sunk or damaged.

25 October

Tanker on way out to fuel us was sunk last night.

0400 - Jap fleet consisting of 4 battleships, 8 cruisers, and 20 destroyers are chasing us. (There are 3 groups of 6 CVE, but our group of 6 are the only ones able to attack).

0500 - Started loading torpedoes into TBMs.

0745 - Launched 4 TBMs with torpedoes.

0800 - SANGAMON bunch is under attack.

0815 - Launched all available fighters (12 FM-2).

0830 - Shell fire seen on horizon. They are getting closer. We launched the remaining TBM's with torpedoes.

0845 - The SANGAMON bunch has been under attack 3/4 hour. FANSHAW BAY group is under shell fire, but hasn't been hit yet. Our cans are being shelled by Jap cruisers. Our 3 remaining TBM loaded with 1000 lb. armor piercing bombs are launched. The SANTEE's island was blown off by a suicide plane.

0915 - Six of the Jap cruisers are 11 miles behind us making 25 knots. We are at top speed - 19.4 knots. The Jap cruisers and battleships are shelling us now and getting pretty close.

Shells land close.  Making Smoke

Shells land close. Making Smoke

NATOMA BAY and MANILA BAY under attack.

NATOMA BAY and MANILA BAY under attack.

[Note: There seems to be some debate about (1) which ship is shown in this picture and (2) whether this picture belongs here or with the above description of the action at Saipan (see June 1944).  I have placed it here because the original Photographer's Diary references both of these pictures in the description of the events of October 25th.--LD]

0925 - Launched 4 TBM with 1000 lb. A.P. bombs. Two torpedo planes missing from attack.

0945 - Began landing and rearming planes. One TBM has 2 foot hole in wing. All are shot up pretty well by AA fire. Three TBM's got torpedo hits on a cruiser, blowing the bow and stern off, sinking her.

1000 - Jap fleet appears to have changed course. Maybe we have turned them away.

1009 - Emergency turn. Under air attack. Our AA shot down a Sally 2 engine bomber. We continued landing planes. One TBM went to Leyte to land because his radioman was badly shot up. He died later. One TBM landed in the water. The landing gear and flaps had been shot out.

1100 - Our fighters shot down a Zeke.

1115 - Our fighters shot down a Jill (torpedo plane).

1130 - Catapulted 4 TBM with 4 500 lb. AP bombs each. Launched 4 fighters. Three other carriers badly damaged by suicide attacks.

1150 - Started landing and rearming planes.

1300 - Four TBM with 4 500 lb. AP bombs each were launched to continue the attack.

1315 - Fighters are being loaded with 250 lb. bombs.

1400 - Landed 3 TBM. A shell exploded in the tunnel of one during a torpedo run and injured the radioman very bad. The gunner kept him from bleeding to death.

1515 - Four TBM took off with full bomb load and 12 fighters with 250 lb. bombs. The fighters are going after the Jap destroyers.

1715 - Many Jap planes picked up at 40 miles. Our CARDIV CAP shot down 26 out of 40, and scared the rest away. We lost one fighter.

SUNSET - All seems quiet again. General Quarters secured after 18 hours. We are out of torpedoes and AP bombs.


MIDWAY (CVE-63) sunk. 310 survivors out of 900.

GAMBIER BAY (CVE-73) sunk. 600 survivors out of 900.

FANSHAW BAY (CVE-70) heavily damaged. Running on one engine.

Other three carriers of this division damaged. KALININ BAY took 18 hits.

Three destroyers and one DE sunk in suicide torpedo runs attempting to stop Jap battleships.

Two CVE's laying smoke screen.

Two CVE's laying smoke screen.

MIDWAY/ST.LO blows up

MIDWAY/ST.LO blows up

Abandon ship. MIDWAY/ST.LO.

Abandon ship. MIDWAY/ST.LO.


One Cruiser sunk.

One Cruiser damaged - one torpedo hit and many bomb hits.

One Battleship damaged - a torpedo hit and bomb hits.

One Destroyer sunk.

Other ships hit with unknown damage.

26 October

0400 - GQ. Our destroyers sank one sub and damaged another last night.

0600 - Eight VT launched for 200 mile search, and 4 VF for CAP.

0730 - Search spotted a Jap cruiser and 5 cans. They are attacking them.

0840 - TBM shot up and coming in. Lost flying speed and spun in, going over catwalk.

1200 - Landed TBM with only one landing gear. Wrecked the wing.

1310 - GQ. Bogies chased away. Three Jap carriers 100 miles away, 2 CV, 1CVE, 1 BBX battleship carrying 10 suicide dive bombers. Morning strike group hit cruiser and destroyers. Attack continuing throughout afternoon. Fighter ran out of fuel and went in the drink. Pilot lost.

27 October

The cruisers BOISE and NASHVILLE and their destroyers joined our carrier division this morning. One of our fighters shot down a "Toni". Three other Jap planes destroyed by pilots from our carrier division. The CHENANGO took a fish on the way back to Manus.

28 October

CAP shot down a "Nell" 2 engine Jap bomber. We fueled at sea.

29 October

Japs have ferried 40 planes to Sumar Island and an air attack is expected. One of the SAVO ISLAND's planes was shot down this morning. Weather is getting bad - high winds and heavy sea. The tail end of another typhoon.

30 October

Headed for Manus for supplies. We are just about out of everything from ammunition to food. Joined in the morning by 4 BB, 4 CA, 6 CVE, and 20 DD.

3 November 1944

Entered Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Is. at 1200. Began taking on stores, bombs and fuel. One of our pilots and his crew who were shot down while making a torpedo run on 25 October were picked up in a life raft. All three are all right.

Taking on stores at Manus.

Taking on stores at Manus.

7 November

The 7 damaged CVE's 1eft, and headed for the States for repairs.

10 November

The ammunition ship "MT. HOOD" AE-11, blew up, shaking the entire harbor. There were no survivors from the MT. HOOD, and few from the HAZELWOOD - DD 531, one of our destroyers that was along side. There were 200 men killed on the Mindanao, repair ship anchored 500 yards from the Mt. Hood. There were lesser number of fatalities on other ships from debris and concussion. The total fatalities were about 500. We sent our doctor, corpsmen and plasma. The army put on a show for us in the evening called "Stars and Gripes". It was a professional show and was enjoyed by all. (Also see account of Mt. Hood in "Recollections" section of Logbook.)

11 November

Jap planes bombed the field here, doing little damage. MacArthur is slowed down on Leyte as the Japs have landed 35,000 troops.

25 November

Leyte Gulf under heavy and constant Jap air attack with our ships being hit (including a battleship).

27 November

Underway at 1200 with 5 other CVE's and 7 destroyers headed for Palau where we are to meet another force. Squadron flew aboard with 12 TBM and 18 FM-2. Conducted gunnery practice.

28 November

Smooth sailing and travelling fast. Three big carriers and a cruiser were hit off Leyte by suicide dive bombers and were badly damaged.

30 November

Sighted Palau IsIand at 0600. Anchored in Kossol Passage about 4 miles off Babelthaup (still occupied by 25,000 Japs). Underway at 1030 because we intercepted a Jap message saying Jap army planes were to attack us here at 1300. Strong CAP kept in the air. Three TBM flew off and we got 6 more FM-2 giving us 24 fighters and 9 torpedo planes (Total =33).

1 December 1944

Off Palau Island. Harbor was bombed yesterday by Japs doing little damage.

2 December

Reentered and anchored in Kossol Passage.

3 December

Went over to see natives on an island 12 miles north of here. Brought back delicious limes and bananas from the natives. They are very friendly and clean.

4 December

The WEST VIRGINIA, COLORADO, NEW MEXICO, 4 cruisers, and cans are to operate anchored in Kossol at 1600. COLORADO began repairing damage from suicide bomber.

5 December

Continued taking on stores. Refueled.

10 December

Left Kossol Passage, Palau Island at 1300 headed for the Philippines with 5 other CVE, 3-BB, 4 cruisers, and 18 destroyers. We are to go through Leyte Gulf into the Mindanao Sea, then the Sulu Sea, and up to cover an amphibious operation on Mindoro. This is expected to be quite an operation. The big threat is suicide dive bombers, torpedo planes, PT boats, and subs. We can expect to be under constant air attack.

11 December

We are about half way to Leyte. This will be the first time an American task force has gone inside Philippine waters.

12 December

GQ at 1030. Jap planes sighted 5 miles away, but it got away. We are 120 miles off Leyte. All hands are given instructions as to conduct in case of being marooned on a Jap Island. Because suicide bombers usually aim for the forward elevator, a decoy elevator was painted on the forward part of the flight deck.

13 December

0000 - Entered Leyte Gulf.

0200 - Passed through Surigao Strait (7 miles wide). GQ started and will continue all day. Three subs picked up ahead of us last night and depth charges were dropped.

0800 - Off Bohol. Passing transports and LST's.

0910 - Our planes blew up 3 jap "luggers" 12 miles away.

1500 - Convoy under attack. Six planes shot down. Cruiser hit by suicide dive bomber.

1630 - We are under attack. Four planes shot down, one by our 40mm guns. One plane flew into one of our destroyers (DD685). It is burning, and is badly damaged.

1700 - Convoy is attacked. Two Bettys shotdown near us.

1800 - Planes returned after fighters from our CARDIV shot down 16 Jap planes.

1930 - Secured from GQ after all day.

14 December

0500 - GQ in Sulu Sea. NASHVILLE was the cruiser hit, losing 170 men. DD685 lost 50 men.

0900 - Our fighters shot down 4 "Zekes". A fighter went through all three barriers, wrecking 3 planes on the flight deck.

1400 - Under attack. Our fighters shot down 3 within sight, and AA got another.

1600 - Under attack. AA shot down 3 of 5 torpedo planes. No damage to our force.

1700 - Under attack. We are putting up much AA with little success on either side, the Jap planes staying at maximum range.

1900 - Secured from GQ.

15 December

In the middle of Sulu Sea.

0400 - GQ. "Bettys" dropping flares. BB, CA, and DD firing AA guns by radar control.

0445 - Secured from GQ as planes went away.

0530 - GQ starting another long day.

0745 - Under attack. AA and fighters shot down 2 torpedo planes 2 miles astern.

0810 - Under attack. AA shot down plane in flames which was making a torpedo run.

0830 - Under attack. Two suicide bombers dove on the MARCUS ISLAND (CVE next to us). They hit the water just off her bow killing 4 from the debris. These planes dove down from 22,000 feet, making no attempt to pull out. Planes are going down all around us from AA fire.

0910 - Under attack. Violent dog fight over us, with the Jap going down in flames.

0945 - Under attack. Our 20mm cut the tail off a Judy (dive bomber). A Frances was shot down next to OMMANEY BAY with a terrific explosion. One FM-2 was shot down but the pilot parachuted out.

Burning Frances over stern.

Burning Frances over stern.

Frances afire.

Frances afire.

15 December (continued)

1400 - Launched 8 plane fighter strike.

1500 - Funeral services held on USS COLUMBIA for 7 men killed by strafing.

1600 - Strike group landed. They strafed airfields on Negros Island, doing much damage by catching many planes on the ground.

1945 - Headed for Mindanao and out. (Orders were changed and we stayed another day).

- Troops successfully landed on Mindoro today after paratroopers landed last night. They are under heavy Jap air attack, as the army is unable to give them proper support.

- In the past 3 days our forces have shot down 76 planes.

16 December

Because of bad weather, Army planes could not operate and we had to reenter the Sulu Sea to cover our amphibious forces.

0545 - GQ. Another all day affair.

0745 - CAP shot down Jap reconnaissance plane (Jake) within sight. Our planes shot down an Irving over the beach.

0900 - Jap reconnaissance plane came within 12 miles but CAP was unable to catch him and he got away.

1100 - Our planes shot down a Val over the beach.

1900 - Secured from GQ. Headed back out again, we hope.

17 December

We are in the Mindanao Sea. Expect to pass through the Surigao Strait today.

0540 - GQ.

1030 - Entering Surigao Strait.

1145 - Entering Leyte Gulf. Secured GQ.

1300 - In open sea headed for Palau.

18 December

Quiet day. Heavy ground swells.

19 December

Anchored Kossol Passage at 1200.

20 December

Hoisted anchor and headed for Manus.

23 December

Anchored in Manus at 0700. USS RENO (light cruiser) towed in with two after turrets blown off by suicide bomber off Luzon.

25 December

Christmas in Manus. Continued taking on stores and refueled.

27 December

Left Manus at 1030 for Kossol Passage, Palau with 12 CVE and escorts of DD.

30 December

Anchored in Kossol. Fueled.

Photographer's Diary continues with Part 3 (1 January 1945 - 15 August 1945)