WELCH, Clifford, S1c

Deceased
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Seaman 1st Class
Last Primary NEC
SN-0000-Seaman
Last Rating/NEC Group
Seaman
Primary Unit
1943-1946, 00-0000, USS New Orleans (CA-32)
Service Years
1943 - 1946
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Order of the Golden Dragon
Iwo Jima
Panama Canal
SN-Seaman
One Hash Mark
Seaman 1st Class

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

1535 kb

Home State
Arkansas
Arkansas
Year of Birth
1925
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember WELCH, Clifford (Cliff), S1c.
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Duncan, OK
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Dec 28, 2013
 
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin


 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback Order of the Golden Dragon Blue Star




 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

WWII American Campaign Banner

WWII Asiatic/Pacific Campaign Battle Streamers

CLIFFORD ALLEN WELCH

Seaman First Class, U.S. Navy
1943 - 1946
U.S.S. New Orleans


I was 17 when I volunteered for duty in the Navy back in February 1943, at the height of the Second World War. I served until 1946 on the heavy cruiser U.S.S. New Orleans CA-32. The New Orleans received 17 battle stars for World War II service, placing her among the highest decorated ships of the second world war. I participated in the majority of those battles.

Navy Tradition, Shellback Initiation
I crossed the equator for the first time, on the USS New Orleans, on 25 August 1944 - in the Pacific Ocean.
   
Other Comments:
At the close of the war

The USS New Orleans sailed on 28 August 1945 with a cruiser-destroyer force to ports of China and Korea. She covered the internment of Japanese ships at Tsingtao, the evacuation of liberated Allied prisoners-of-war, and the landing of troops in Korea and China, until sailing 17 November from the mouth of the Peking River (Hai He), carrying veterans homeward bound. More returning troops came aboard at the Sasebo U.S. Fleet Activities base, and all were disembarked at San Francisco 8 December. After similar duty took her to Guam in January 1946, she sailed through the Panama Canal for a 10-day visit to her namesake city, then steamed to Philadelphia Navy Yard, arriving on 12 March.
   
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Leyte Campaign (1944)/Battle of Cape Engano
Start Year
1944
End Year
1944

Description
he battle of Cape Engano (25 October 1944) was a one-sided American victory that saw Admiral Halsey's 3rd Fleet sink four Japanese aircraft carriers, but at the same time exposing the invasion shipping in Leyte Gulf to a possible Japanese attack.

The Japanese had long realised that an American conquest of the Philippines would cut their empire in half, isolating their main sources of fuel in the south. Accordingly they decided to fight the 'decisive battle' of the war in the Philippines, using just about every available naval unit. Admiral Ozawa's Main Force was to sail from Japan, where new naval aviators had been training, and approach the American fleet from the north. In the final version of the plan his role was to draw the powerful American 3rd Fleet away from the invasion fleet, leaving them vulnerable to an attack by other Japanese forces approaching from the west.

Admiral Ozawa started the battle with four carriers, two battleships that had been converted to carry some aircraft, three cruisers and eight destroyers. The four carriers were something of a mixed bag. The best of them was the Zuikaku, a veteran of the attack on Pearl Harbor and one of the best Japanese carriers of the war. The other three were less impressive. Zuiho was a light carrier produced during 1940 by converting a submarine support ship. Chitose and Chiyoda were sister ships produced by modifying seaplane carriers. Work on the conversions began in the aftermath of the battle of Midway and they arrived in service in late 1943-early 1944.

The two battleships were the Ise and Hyuga, both of First World War vintage. After Midway their rear turrets had been removed and a short flight deck installed. Neither ship was carrying any aircraft at Leyte Gulf.

Halsey's 3rd Fleet contained fifteen fleet carriers, seven modern fast battleships, twenty one cruisers and fifty eight destroyers. His orders were to protect the landing fleets at Leyte Gulf but also to seek out a chance to defeat and destroy the Japanese fleet.

On 24 October the Americans detected all of the incoming Japanese fleets (although Ozawa's carriers weren’t found until quite late in the day). Halsey launched a series of air strikes on the most powerful of the surface fleets, Admiral Kurita's I Striking Force. This contained the Musashi and Yamato, the two most powerful battleships in the world, but during the day the Musashi was sunk by repeated air attacks. Kurita briefly turned back to avoid further attacks while passing through the narrow San Bernardino Straits. This, combined with a belief that Kurita had suffered more damage than he had, convinced Halsey that the Japanese battleships no longer represented a serious threat and could be dealt with by the old battleships and escort carriers of Admiral Kinkaid's 7th Fleet. In contrast four Japanese aircraft carriers posed a potentially very serious threat to the invasion fleet, and so at 20.00 Halsey ordered his entire fleet to move north.

At this point the American command structure broke down. Halsey created a new Task Force 34, under Admiral Lee. This force, of four battleships and a large number of cruisers, might be used to engage Kurita if he passed through the San Bernardino Strait. As Halsey didn't expect this to happen Lee's ships were taken north with him. Unfortunately Kinkaid heard this message and assumed that Task Force 34 was being left behind to watch Kurita. Kinkaid thus felt free to move his six old battleships south to deal with Nishimura's fleet heading for the Surigao Strait. Kinkaid was not the only person to make this assumption - Admiral Nimitz back on Hawaii also believed that Task Force 34 was watching the San Bernardino Strait.

At 2.2am Admiral Mitscher's scout plans find the Japanese carriers. The first of a series of air strikes went in at about 8am. The few Japanese aircraft left were quickly destroyed and in this first attack the light carrier Chitose was sunk and the fleet carrier Zuikaku hit by a torpedo. The second attack was unopposed and the Chiyoda was badly damaged. At about the same time Halsey received the first in a series of messages from Kinkaid requesting urgent help. Kurita's powerful battleships had indeed emerged from the San Bernardino Strait and turned south to head for Leyte Gulk. Instead they ran into six of Kinkaid's escort carriers and a desperate running battle began (Battle of Samar). Over the next two hours Kinkaid sent two more increasingly urgent requests for help, but Halsey refused to be budged. He was dealing with the most dangerous Japanese fleet and Kinkaid would have to cope by himself (to be fair to Halsey by the time the second and third messages arrived Kurita had withdrawn from combat with the escort carriers, but it was still at large).

At around 10am Halsey received a message from Nimitz, 'Where is repeat where is Task Force thirty-four'. Unfortunately some padding added to increase security was erroneously left in the final message, so Halsey read ' Where is repeat where is Task Force thirty-four rr The World Wonders'. Halsey was furious, but he did finally send one of his three carrier task groups south to try and help Kinkaid.

The remaining carriers launched a third strike on the Japanese carriers at 1.10pm. This time Zuikaku and Zuiho were both set on fire. Zuiho managed to keep going, but Zuikaku was doomed and at 2.07 she sank. The fourth and final American strike finished off the Zuiho. The last Japanese carrier, Chiyoda, was already dead in the water and sank later. The two converted battleships managed to escape, but the Japanese carrier force had been eliminated. Further south Kinkaid's carriers had escaped total destruction through their own efforts, and Kurita had retreated back through the San Bernardino Strait.

Halsey's conduct of the battle has remained controversial. Afterwards he wrote 'At that moment Ozawa was exactly 42 miles from the muzzles of my 16in guns. … I turned my back on the opportunity I had dreamed of since my days as a cadet', a revealing statement that suggests that Halsey was so focused on the chance of engaging in a major gun battle that he ignored the danger to his south.


   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1944
To Year
1944
 
Last Updated:
Mar 27, 2012
   
Personal Memories

Memories
1944

From 29 January 1944, New Orleans fired on targets in the Marshalls, hitting air installations and shipping as the Navy took Kwajalein. She fueled at Majuro, then sailed 11 February to join the fast carriers in a raid on Truk, Japanese bastion in the Carolines on 17-18 February. While air strikes were flown, New Orleans, with other warships circled the atoll to catch escaping ships; the task force's combined gunfire sank a light cruiser, a destroyer, a trawler, and a submarine chaser. The force sailed on to hit the Marianas, then returned to Majuro and Pearl Harbor.

The carriers, with New Orleans in escort, again heaped destruction on targets in the Carolines late in March, then in April, sailed south to support Allied landings at Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura), New Guinea. There on 22 April, a disabled Yorktown plane flew into New Orleans' mainmast, hitting gun mounts as it fell into the sea. The ship was sprayed with gas as the plane exploded on hitting the water, one crew member was lost, another badly injured, but New Orleans continued in action, patrolling and plane guarding off New Guinea, then joining in further raids on Truk and Satawan, which she bombarded on 30 April. She returned to Majuro on 4 May.

Preparations were made in the Marshalls for the invasion of the Marianas, for which New Orleans sortied from Kwajalein on 10 June. She bombarded Saipan on 15-16 June, then joined the screen protecting carriers as they prepared to meet the Japanese Mobile Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. In this last major carrier combat the Japanese were able to mount, American naval aviators and submariners sank three enemy carriers and destroyed almost every aircraft launched against them, 395 in all. The few enemy planes which penetrated to the American carriers were shot down by New Orleans and other escorts. The Marianas operation continued, and Japanese naval aviation was virtually nonexistent after this great victory of 19-20 June.

New Orleans made patrols and bombardments on Saipan and Tinian into August, returned to Eniwetok on the 13th, and sailed the 28th for carrier raids on the Bonins, bombardments of Iwo Jima on 1-2 September, and direct air support for the invasion of the Palaus. After re-provisioning at Manus, the task force assaulted Okinawa, Formosa, and Northern Luzon, destroying Japanese land-based aviation which otherwise would have threatened the landings on Leyte on 20 October. The carriers continued to send raids, aiding troops ashore, as they prepared to meet the Japanese, who were sending almost every surface ship left afloat in one great effort to break up the Philippines operation. New Orleans guarded her carriers as they joined in the great Battle for Leyte Gulf, first attacking the Japanese Southern Force on 24 October, then raiding the Center Force in the Sibuyan Sea, and next destroying the Japanese Northern Force of decoy carriers in the Battle off Cape Engano. The carriers then sped south to aid the gallant escort carriers holding off the powerful Japanese battleship-cruiser force in the Battle off Samar. A stunning American victory was followed by strikes against the retreating Japanese remnant.

   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
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