restricted access Four Preliminaries: 6–18 October 1944
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c h a p t e r f o u r Preliminaries 6–18 October 1944 On the afternoon of Friday, 6 October 1944, Task Groups 38.2 (Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan) and 38.3 (Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman) sailed from Ulithi. Task Group 38.1 (Vice Admiral John S. McCain) had sailed from Seeadler harbor, at Manus, on 4 October, and Task Group 38.4 (Rear Admiral Ralph E. Davison) had sailed from Manus on 24 September and then operated off the Palaus until 5 October, when it discontinued operations in readiness for the concentration of Task Force 38’s four groups two days later, just before dark, some 375 miles west of the Marianas.1 During this time other elements of conflict manifested themselves. On 6 October the Japanese corvette C.D. 21 and the 10,241-ton merchantman Akane Maru were sunk off northwest Luzon by the submarines Seahorse and Whale respectively, while the submarine Cabrilla accounted for the 5,154-ton Yamamizu Maru No. 2 west of the Luzon Strait. Off Penang, the British submarine Tally-ho sank a small auxiliary submarine chaser. On the following day P-47 Thunderbolts from the 10th Air Force and P-51 Mustangs and P-40 Kittyhawks from the 14th Air Force attacked a variety of targets in China and Indo-China, and B-24 Liberators from the Far East Air Force struck at Zamboanga, on the western tip of Mindanao, while fighter escorts attacked various targets of opportunity there and offshore. B-25 Mitchell medium bombers attacked Langoan, Tompaso, and Tondegesang , all of these targets being on Celebes, and also various installations on western Amboina as well as the Japanese airfield at Babo, in western Preliminaries 59 New Guinea, and positions on Doom Island. Other aircraft from the Far East Air Force attacked Kaoe, in northern Halmahera, and the oil storage tanks at Boela, in eastern Ceram, while Liberators from the 7th Air Force, operating from Saipan, attacked various targets on and shipping off Marcus Island, but to no discernible effect.2 Marcus itself was subjected to bombardment by a task group consisting of three heavy cruisers and six destroyers on 9 October. On the previous day nine oilers replenished the carriers in 18˚00'North 138˚00'East in readiness for the start of operations.3 All these activities, spread over just four days and supplemented by other bombing activities and the sinking of Japanese warships, naval auxiliaries , and other ships, were evidence of a totality of war that was indeed the hallmark of the First and Second World Wars. Yet if one were to provide a single example of the totality of war across the globe, one would not cite any of these—though one would be tempted to cite the bombing of inoffensive Tondegesang for the first and only time during the war—but rather an event, actually two incidents, seldom afforded much attention in histories of the Second World War. On 5 October, on which day Task Group 38.4 came off station and Task Group 38.1 was making its way to the combat zone, the German submarine U-168, which was leaving for home after the German navy had decided to close down its base at Penang and end its operations in the Indian Ocean, was sunk in 06˚20'South 111˚28'East, north of Java. Two days later the 2,330-ton Japanese minelayer Itsukushima was sunk in 05˚26'South 113˚48'East, southeast of Bawaen Island in the central Java Sea. Both, the one the representative of the nation that occupied the homeland and the other of the nation that occupied the empire, were torpedoed and sunk by the Dutch submarine Zwaardvisch, operating from an Australian base under American orders. There is always something especially poignant about the operations of those ships or submarines, air force squadrons, and military formations from the conquered states of Europe that, rather than surrender, fought and so often died without homeland , in the cause of freedom and honor, but these two small episodes, and more obviously a Dutch submarine sinking a German submarine in the middle of the Java Sea, do represent the global dimension of total war as it came to be fought in the first half of the twentieth century. After the concentration of its carrier formations, which for the first time meant that an American carrier force had more than a thousand aircraft embarked, Task Force 38 moved...


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