Battle was joined at 7:30 a.m. Approximately one hour later, the USS Hoel was sunk, and the USS Johnston showed every sign of following.
End of Chapter Thirty-one:
- As wicked as the crossfire was, a sight now commanded everyone’s attention on the Johnston’s bridge: an escort carrier, listing to port, dead in the water and taking heavy fire. It was the Gambier Bay. She had lost her boiler and could do only eleven knots.
Beginning of Chapter Thirty-two:
- There was no telling how many ships had drawn a bead on her now. Under fire for nearly ninety minutes . . . the Gambier Bay took her first hit at 8:20 a.m., when a shell penetrated her forward engine room.
Ironically, this is when the first rescue ships sent by Admiral Stump arrive. The Gambier Bay’s signal officer opens the shutters of his lamp and blinkers, We are under attack, please help.
The rescue ships turned and withdrew to the south. Admiral Stump “had decided against risking his most capable escorts in a dicey offensive action. If the Japanese destroyed Taffy 3 and continued south, he would need them for his own defense.”
Edward Huxtable was commander of the Gambier Bay’s air group, VC-10. Seeing “the carrier taking concentrated fire from Japanese cruisers . . . Huxtable turned, descended, and leveled off in a mock torpedo attack.” Actually, he had taken off from the Gambier Bay in such a hurry that he had no time to load his bombs. “He made four” dummy runs, “each time . . . flying level with bomb bay doors open.”
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.