"March 26th, 1943"
Stan Hogshead, Lt.(jg)
All the USS BAILEY Officers
BAILEY Officers
Stan Hogshead holding bugle

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The pictures, story & document were contributed to the SLC Website by BAILEY Veteran Stan Hogshead

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Stan's story begins shortly after the USS BAILEY joined up with the USS INDIANAPOLIS

We went in to Dutch Harbor, for fuel and provisions. The weather couldnít have been worse. We were in what the natives called a Willywaw--a severe and often sudden storm. Winds along with snow could hit you at gale force--up to 60 or 70 knots. And the mountainous seas were treacherous. We had been instructed to tie up to a buoy, but couldnít get close enough to effect the tie up. Finally, the Captain received permission to drop anchor which he did. But he took the precaution to instruct the engine room to maintain steam up to the throttle so that in an instant, we could get underway should that become necessary. After fighting the wind and seas, anchoring, and writing his orders to the Officer of the Deck, the Captain went below to his sea cabin for a well deserved rest. I was up on the bridge during the 000 to 0400 watch when by taking bearings on fixed objects on the shore it was apparent we were moving--or dragging our anchor.

The Captain was called by shipís phone and the danger reported to him. In a flash he was on the bridge, dressed only in his pajamas but he had taken a second to get that cigar so I guess in his mind he was fully dressed. We sent below for a pair of pants, shoes, and his heavy coat, helped him step into the trousers and put on his coat as he gave orders to the helmsman and issued instructions to the engine room to make so many turns. Meaning, turn the propellers so as to make 10 knots, or 20 knots, or whatever was required to keep the ship underway and avoid being driven aground. Rather quickly we were out of danger of being dragged onto the rocky shore but we didnít miss by much. It was scary to say the least. Through it all the Captain was calm, orderly, didnít appear to be excited but was just doing his job. A blinker signal was received saying the anti-submarine nets that had closed the entrance to Dutch Harbor had been swept away by the mountainous seas and at the option of our Captain we were free to proceed out of the harbor to the open sea. Our Captain chose to accept that option and as we gained the open sea, the mountainous seas swept over us. They hit us from the beam and so we rolled, rolled to the point of taking some sea water down one of the smoke stacks, and for a moment, our forward fire room was out of commission. The damage was quickly controlled and the power restored, otherwise I hate to think what might have happened. The Captain was finally able to point the bow of the ship into the wind and sea, making her less subject to the violent rolling. Let me tell you, there were more than a few sea sick sailors that night, even the old hands who long ago got their sea legs were sick. Me? I was one of the lucky ones, never had a problem. But food of any kind was not very appealing.

Finally the storm abated and we were able to re-enter Dutch Harbor, tie up to a buoy, and take on our much needed fuel and provisions. There were three or four days to complete those tasks, do some maintenance on some of the machinery and otherwise, get the ship ready to proceed to sea with the SALT LAKE CITY, and three other destroyers who made up our task force. They were the DALE, MONAGHAN, and the COUGHLAN. The INDIANAPOLIS had been detached and replaced by a light cruiser, the RICHMOND.

On March 16, 1943, the BAILEY left Dutch Harbor along with the RICHMOND and the COUGHLAN to form a patrol just southwest of Kiska. On March 22, the SALT LAKE CITY, the destroyers DALE and MONAGHAN joined up so it was now a task force of 6 ships. On the 25th, the BAILEY and the other destroyers pulled along side the SALT LAKE CITY to be fueled, always a somewhat risky procedure. But in the heavy seas of the Aleutians, the procedure can be extremely hazardous and has often resulted in parted fuel lines resulting in large amounts of oil spillage, personal injury and damage to ships.

It is necessary now to back track one day and mention that on the 21st, an enemy float plane was observed at long range, which clearly indicated that the enemy was nearby. A float plane is normally carried by only heavy or sometimes by light cruisers. Iíve never heard whether our task force commander was aware of the total strength of any enemy force, but it would have been logical for him to draw the conclusion that at least an enemy heavy cruiser and its escorts were in the vicinity. Why? Cruisers are normally escorted by other vessels, logically destroyers. After the war we all learned that the Japanese codes had been broken and Washington was aware of Japanese ships being sent to the Aleutians with troops and supplies destined for Kiska, Attu, and other Japanese held islands. Thus, Washington knew that a force was in our area, but did not know the composition of that force. We did not have those details. Our Task Force Commander had only been told to expect trouble--lots of it. And we were shortly to find it. AND HOW!!!

On the early morning of March 26, while at General Quarters, the COUGHLAN reported two ships on her radar screen. Our battle lines were drawn and speed increased to 25 knots. Soon we were told that several more enemy ships were sighted, at least two of them large ships. It was about this time that our Captain announced to all hands that this was not just a general quarters drill, but that we were undoubtedly headed into a battle with a superior enemy force. Soon it was announced that the enemy consisted of two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and six, count Ďem, six destroyers. We were going to be outgunned almost two to one!!! You donít expect to survive from odds like that.

What followed began with the enemy heavy cruiser opening fire at 0845 and thus began the longest daylight naval engagement in the history of the U.S. Navy. It was not to end until 1230. The battle was fought under most unusual conditions in the Aleutians, good visibility and a calm sea. The complete details of the battle that took place are far to numerous to relate here. I will only attempt to relate the salient and important facts as they affected the BAILEY and me. Should anyone really want the complete story I would refer you to a book entitled ďThe Battle of the Komandorski Islands,Ē written by John A. Lorelli. I treasure that book in my library as this is being written in December 1998.

We had been firing at a range of 12,000 yards (six nautical miles) while making speed of 32 or more knots. I do not know personally if any of our shells had hit the leading cruiser that we were directed to fire on, other ships in our force were also firing at the same target,. But the enemy ship was seen to take several hits as reported by our bridge and lookouts. Remember I am in the locked water tight compartment in the Fire Control room so we were completely isolated from any vision of the battle scene. Suddenly, we were told over our sound powered telephones that our own heavy cruiser, the SALT LAKE CITY, had been severely damaged and was stopped dead in the water. Our task force screen commander who was aboard the BAILEY, then directed the BAILEY and two other destroyers to make a torpedo attack on the leading enemy cruiser, with one destroyer to remain behind and set up a smoke screen to hide the whereabouts of the SALT LAKE CITY. Hopefully, the enemy would not find her in her severely weakened condition and direct all their fire to close in and sink her. As the word for the torpedo attack was announced to all hands, there was absolute total silence as we stared at each other and wondered if we could possibly survive it. I didnít and I donít think anyone else did either. Typically, a torpedo attach is made at maximum speed and torpedoes are not launched until you are as close as you can possibly get which greatly increases the possibility of hits. Speed was increased to around 34 or 35 knots and we turned toward our enemy. The range began to close rapidly. Soon we were hearing the sounds of enemy shells landing close to us--a kerchunk sort of sound. Then a very large close explosion, it came from the compartment just forward of us, where the ships stores, food, was kept. and the galley was located. Then another explosion occurred just aft of us and almost immediately water started coming in and soon reached shoe top level. All this time we were getting off a salvo every 12 to 15 seconds from our two forward guns as they were the only ones who could bear on the target. We were in a very perilous situation, and I stopped to pray to God for protection. As the range continued to close, we shook hands with other, wished us all Godís protection, and then the lights went out. We had lost all power, and were slowing steadily, 20 knots, 15 knots, 10 knots, then 5 and finally stopped. Our Captain ordered the signal hoisted ďMy speed zeroĒ. As the 32 degree temperature water continued to rise around our feet, I felt certain that my time had come. The water was numbing cold. We tried to stuff a couple of life jackets in the crack in the bulkhead where the water was seeping in, and that was able to stop most of it, but it continued to slowly rise until it was just below our knees. There were lulls during this period and I was able to keep a rough diary of the events of that morning. I still have it among my memoirs.

Finally the distance between the enemy and us had closed to only 9500 yards and at that range, it is considered almost impossible for a heavy cruiser to miss her target. It is like looking down the barrel of a rifle. Well, the cruiser didnít miss, as we shall see in a moment. At 9500 yards, our torpedoes were fired. All were observed to run normally. At least one torpedo struck home and the enemy immediately turned to break off the engagement. Within minutes, our own damage control party under the leadership of Lt. Ralph Moreau was able to get the ship underway again and it was then reported that the SALT LAKE CITY had also gotten underway. Were we safe at last? No one knew, but we had turned from the battle area, about 600 miles from the Komandorski Islands toward Dutch Harbor about 1200 miles away.

As soon as we were out of immediate danger, the Commanding Officer of the SALT LAKE CITY, Captain B. J. Rodgers, sent a message by blinker light that read, and I am quoting from a copy of it in my scrap book ďThe SALT LAKE CITY extends its most heartful thanks for the magnificent work you and your ships did today x We are proud of you and dammed gratefulĒ. There were several other messages exchanged most of which related to battle damage sustained, number of casualties, ammunition expended. and so on.
[See scan of original document]

There was a sigh of relief as all hands relaxed for the moment---every single one of us dead tired, fully spent, needing a trip to the head, and desperate for at least a cup of coffee and food. How had we managed to escape the far superior enemy force? Lots of good luck and superior seamanship and gunnery on the part of the shipís officers and crews. This battle was to go down in history as an example of how the odds can be against you but still manage to escape and inflict heavy damage to the enemy. We never knew how much real damage was inflicted to the Japanese forces. But it was clear, had they pressed their advantage when they had it, our forces would and probably should have been annihilated. This battle has been replayed over and over again in the War games of the Naval War College, always with the same result, the U. S. forces were defeated.

Earlier I spoke of Lt. Ralph Moreau and his reputation as the hardest working officer aboard ship. As the engineering officer, he was also the damage control officer. As such his main duty was to keep the engineering equipment of all kinds functioning and to repair as quickly as possible any battle damage the ship might receive. Ralph held drills of his damage control party daily, usually during the time we were at general quarters. He made up exercises with examples of pipe lines being damaged, or electrical cables cut, as well as many others to give his crew the practice and skills necessary to know how to react instinctively to any emergency. Everyone felt that it was his knowledge and leadership that enabled the BAILEY to survive her wounds, critical as they were. It was his damage control party that had made jury rigs for power, kept other compartments from flooding, and on and on that enabled the BAILEY to survive.

Later that afternoon we went from General Quarters to a watch and watch--or 4 hours on duty and 4 hours off. The battle damage was being assessed which was far beyond what I had expected and is reported here in some detail. We were operating on one engine and one fire room as those two main compartments had been completely flooded. When we finally secured from general quarters and I went up on deck I was shocked to observe how low in the water we were. The sea was only inches below deck level--the effect of the two main compartments being flooded. Our speed as we proceeded back toward Adak was reduced to a maximum of about 12 knots and due to only one engine we could maneuver only with considerable difficulty. One officer and three enlisted men had been killed, and one later died of his injuries. [See List below]

The stores and galley room just forward of the fire control room was completely destroyed, leaving us with nothing but emergency rations for the 5 day trip back to Adak. This was hard tack and rice. There was some cold canned meat that the cooks could make into sandwiches, so we didnít really starve, but it was pretty monotonous eating sandwiches or hard tack meal after meal.

The trip to Adak was pretty grim, what with the physical damage to the BAILEY being so severe, the threat of another enemy attack while we were in our weakened condition, and our meals and living conditions being so bad. But the worst problem confronting all of us was the dead and severely wounded on board. Captain John Atkeson was able to obtain permission from the Army Base Commander at Adak to receive our dead comrades and transferred all the wounded to the base hospital. So that was a very high priority when we first arrived there. There was an Army cemetery on the little island, and my shipmates were interred there. Many months later we received word that they had been transferred to some National cemetery in the States, but I never learned which one it was.

The forward fire room had flooded due to a hole near the waterline and at the junction of the fire room and the fire control room. This was the source of the water flooding our compartment. There was a second and much larger hole nearly 1 foot by 3 feet below the waterline in the forward engine room. That compartment flooded rather quickly but there were no injuries and thanks goodness no drownings of personnel in that compartment. There were two areas on the main deck near amidships where it was obvious 8 inch shells had struck and bounced off, but did not explode. Either one of those shells, had they exploded, would have undoubtedly sunk the BAILEY. Was God looking after us or what?

A personal anecdote now, concerning a young enlisted man by the name of Raymond. He was totally dedicated to his job of taking care of the Captain's gig. or his duties in the forward fire room. A fine sailor, I liked him and respected him for his dedication to his job. But his general quarters station was in one of the gun mounts so he was completely unaware of the battle damage until we had secured from general quarters. Raymond was about to return to his watch station and was about to step over the combing and onto the ladder leading down to the compartment. As he did so, his foot stepped down into the water and as he then looked down and exclaimed in utter amazement, ďOh my gosh--my cleaning station!!Ē .It sounded to the uninformed observer that he didnít care about his shipís narrow escape or lost comrades, only about his cleaning station. Of course, not true at all. But it was very funny to those of us who witnessed the incident.

We limped back to Adak with carefully posted lookouts, expecting at any moment to be picked up by enemy ships. But none appeared. At Adak, some of the battle damage was repaired in preparation for the trip back to Dutch Harbor, where more temporary repairs were effected. And it was on Adak that our shipmates that had been killed were buried. A sad day indeed. Meanwhile, both officers and crew were getting to be a pretty smelly bunch as there were no showers, no hot water, and as mentioned earlier, very limited meals.

At Dutch Harbor, further temporary repairs were effected, other ships invited us aboard for showers and hot meals and morale soared as we were soon to be on our way back to Mare Island for permanent repairs. I was both joyous and sad, for some good men had lost their lives while mine had been spared. But we were alive, headed for home, and in our opinion, had prevented the enemy from achieving their objective which meant a victory for David and a defeat for Goliath. PTL

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BAILEY receives Heartful Thanks from SLC

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Battle of The Komandorski Islands

Men Killed in Action - March 26th, 1943

Leroy E. Whitehead, Ensign
A. H. Gromko, CMM(AA)
T. T. Hinkle, SC1c
K. W. Aten, WT2c

March 27th, 1943
R. J. Kimble, MM2c died as a result of injuries received in organized action with the enemy.

Injured List

M. E. Day, SF1c received multiple injuries. Hit by shell fragments during organized action with the enemy. Large lacerations on chest and right shoulder, head and left eye. Lacerations on both legs, compound fracture right lower lip, possible fracture lower jaw.

W. A. Meagher, Jr., Machinist received multiple injuries. Hit in the back by shell fragments during organized action with the enemy. Lacerations and contusions of back.

H. R. Gould, B2c received multiple injuries. Hit by shell fragments during organized action with the enemy. Lacerations of both legs. Fracture of right femur.

G. H. Bumpas, Ensign, contusion right forearm. Hit by small shell fragment during organized action with the enemy.

M. M. Wilds, OC1c, Contusion and laceration of left hand and forearm. Hit by shell fragments during organized enemy action.

E. T. Lamb, CPhM(PA) received contusion of left upper arm and laceration of left middle finger. Hit by shell fragments during organized action with the enemy.

Signed by
J. C. Atkenson, Lieut. Comdr., Commanding Officer
J. M. Clute, Lt. Comdr. Executive Officer

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img-misc/uss_bailey-4 Stan & Sue Hogshead
Christmas, 2002

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Return to Battle of the Komandorski Island Index
Donated article Fire and Death at the Komandorskis

Other Websites of Information
New Website for the USS BAILEY DD492

Order of Battle of the Komandorski Islands 26 March 1943


A Salute to the Destroyers

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