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Battle Of Sibuyan Sea

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The morning of October 24, 1944, Admiral Kurita's ships were discovered in the Sibuyan Sea, just about to turn into Tablas Strait. During all that morning, the Essex had been on alert.


At 10:15, a twin-engine bomber broke through the combat air patrol screen and came down on the formation to attack the LANGLEY. This Betty bomber was pursued by an F6F which dared the anti-aircraft fire to come in. But the AA guns got the Betty, and it crashed between the LANGLEY and the ESSEX; they nearly got the F6F as well, until it banked and waggled its wings to show its markings.

The next raid came twenty minutes later, five Japanese bombers moved in fast, but two were shot down and the other three were chased off before they could drop torpedoes or bombs. Another raid came in at 11:00. The ESSEX was preparing a strike. In some ways it seems a wonder that the beleaguered carrier could mount a strike.

Admiral Sherman's first strike was launched at 10:53 on the morning of the 24th and discovered two groups of Japanese ships, totaling 26 vessels in all, about 3 miles apart. Ten ESSEX Helldivers were involved in that strike, and two of them, LT.jg Matthews and LT.jg Parrish, found the MUSASHI, one of the world's two largest battleships (her sister ship the YAMATO, was the other). They each braved intense anti-aircraft fire to put a bomb into her. Commander Mini, LT.jg Nelson, and LT.jg Fontaine scored hits on the battleship NAGATO. Someone hit the YAMATO twice. LT.jg Kelley found a cruiser and bombed it.
Japanese battleship YAMATO

Very noticeable on these attacks were the heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire. Commander Mini was hit hard and barely made it back to the carrier group; he wasn't able to get aboard ESSEX though, and had to land in the water and was picked up by a destroyer.


The main ESSEX strike got off at 12:59 PM, consisting of 8 fighters and a dozen Helldivers. The ESSEX pilots went after the big ships. There was some confusion because both the YAMATO and MUSASHI were in action that day, and several pilots reported hitting battleships of this class, but which was not certain at the time. It's believed YAMATO escaped further attacks by seeking cover under a squall.


Most of their attacks were directed at the hapless MUSASHI, which succumbed to her wounds late in the afternoon after absorbing a staggering amount of punishment (twenty torpedoes, seventeen bombs, and eighteen near misses). Several other vessels received damage as well. Kurita briefly turned his force around to the west to get out of American air range, but then returned to an eastward heading. As luck would have it, the American fast battleship force that might have met him in the San Bernardino Strait that night had been moved northward with Halsey's carrier forces as he sought to attack Ozawa's bait force. By dawn Kurita would be off the beaches of Samar, with no one the wiser as to his whereabouts.


Note: Sources and photos of this article were gathered from the following sites:


Related Article: Glorious Death - The Battle of Philippine Gulf


Battle of Sibuyan Sea Photo Gallery

Admiral Halsey

US fleet

Battle of Sibuyan Sea. This battle took place
north northwest of Simara Island. Many local
residents have witnessed this historic battle.

Admiral Kurita

Japanese fleet

Japanese Battleship YAMATO. One of the world's two largest battleships.
Her sister ship MUSASHI, was the other.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 February 2009 23:52  

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