This website has been blessed with all the help that it has received from the wonderful people on the internet This young gentleman has been very, very, helpful just like the very fine people that helped me create the Memorials for these fighting cruisers. I am sure that all the relatives of those brave sailors that served on these fighting cruisers will thank you for this information. They have been asking me for any news that I might have.
MR. PRESTON COOK
Eastern US Sales Manager
Boise Locomotive Company
Hi Paul- You have done a wonderful job on your website. Wanted to make you aware of two documents which might be of particular interest to your site. There is a narrative by Captain Samuel Jenkins of the ATLANTA on her sinking which gives great detail on the damage and casualties. It was declassified in 1958. Might be a very interesting addition to your site. I do not have it in an e-mailable format but if you could send me your mailing address sometime I can get a copy made at the local library. My copy is very faded and hard to read, but public information office at DOD might also be able to find one. There is also a narrative on the sinking of the JUNEAU by Lt. Roger O'Neill which is also declassified. I have a much better copy of this one. He was the senior survivor but was on the SAN FRANCISCO treating wounded when the JUNEAU was torpedoed.
I received the report in 1967 when I was a college student. It was provided by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Assistant Director of Naval History, Captain F. Kent Loomis USN (ret.), on 9 August 1967. At the time I received it, it seemed like the 25 years that had passed between the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and Captain Loomis sending it to me constituted a very long time! Hard to believe that it it now more than 30 years later. It spent all that time in a folder in the back drawer of a file cabinet in my home. I was reminded of it when I saw your web site.
REPORT OF USS JUNEAU CL-52
NOVEMBER 11 to 13, 1942
Senior Known Survivor
Lieutenant Roger W. O'Neil
MC-V(G), U.S. Naval Reserve
CL50/A16-3 (007) .....U.S.S.HELENA......November 17, 1942 10-S
From: Senior Known Survivor, U.S.S. JUNEAU (Lieutenant Roger W. O'Neil, MC-V(G), U.S. Naval Reserve)
To: Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet
Via: Commanding Officer, U.S.S. HELENA
Subject: Report of U.S.S. JUNEAU activity from November 11 to 13, 1942, inclusive.
References: (a.) U.S. Navy Regulations, 1940, Arts. 712 and 874 (6). (b.) Pac Flt Conf. Ltr. 24CL-42
1. In accordance with references (a) and (b) the following report covering the activity of the U.S.S. JUNEAU from November 11 to 13, 1942, ] inclusive is submitted:
Occupied our positions in formation of Task Force. Nothing of unusual note occurred aboard ship.
Captain and Gunnery Officer were very much satisfied with anti-aircraft performance during afternoon air attack of Japanese planes. They felt that we had accounted for a good percentage of the planes destroyed. Planes were described as twin engined bombers of Mitsubishi type, and very large. There were no known casualties aboard the JUNEAU during this attack. At nightfall we were on our way out the channel, and to the best of my knowledge we were outside the channel about 2230. We re-entered with the Task Force sometime later, approximately between 2300 and 2400. We had radar contact about 2400 which was at first thought to have been enemy contact but later found to be land.
We were advised on station at approximately 0130 of November 13 to expect enemy contact momentarily. Scene of action illuminated by star shells, searchlights, and some of JUNEAU personnel thought also by enemy planes dropping flares. We commenced firing somewhere in the viscinity of 0140 to 0150, at which time we were on the port side of the SAN FRANCISCO. I understand that she ordered us to get out of the way in order that she might get a broadside on a heavier Japanese warship on the port side, and we proceeded to pick up speed, cross the SAN FRANCISCO's bow, and came back on her starboard side where we were hit by an enemy torpedo which I feel was originally intended for the SAN FRANCISCO. We had fired a very small amount of ammunition. I would say approximately 25 rounds of 5 inch plus some 20mm and 1.1 inch ammunition.
November 13 (Yes it was a Friday)
The torpedo hit was of sufficient concussion to buckle the deck just aft of turret 8 plus throwing three depth charges overboard. The port motor whaleboat was also torn to pieces and lost by the impact of that hit. I should say that the torpedo hit somewhere between frames 42 and 45 on the port side and entered the forward fireroom. The hit was below armor belt and above rolling chalks. All hands, approximately 17 inside, were lost immediately.
Immediately forward to the forward fireroom was the plotting room, and later on I learned from Ensign Kloter, who had been there, that they were thrown to the floor but were protected from the forward fireroom by a double bulkhead. The first one had given away and the second had buckled somewhat and was leaking at spots in the seams. The deck had also buckled and oil fumes were coming through. They attempted to carry on but had to secure a short time following this. The Chief Engineer was quoted as having said that in his opinion the keel had been broken by the torpedo hit.
Immediately following the hit the ship seemed to rise and then settle deeper and listed somewhat to port. All lighting forward of after mess was lost. I understood that immediately following the hit we shifted to the after engine room generators for power but that they could not carry the load, so we shifted immediately back to emergency diesel for our power. We had lost all fire control of our turrets. We immediately left the scene of the action; to the best of my knowledge proceeded through Sealark channel, and headed northeast for Malaita Island. I had occasion to do some minor surgery on the Navigator and the Chief Engineer about dawn and had occasion to overhear their discussion, from which I was given to understand that we were running on our after fire and engine rooms and doing approximately 20 knots, and were headed towards Malaita where Captain Swenson had hopes of finding a cove which might offer sufficient shelter to allow us to accomplish temporary repairs before making a dash for Button.
By dawn we had accomplished sufficient repairs so that we had local fire control in one turret at a time. This was previous to sighting the remainder of the Task Force - HELENA, SAN FRANCISCO, etc. We sighted them about dawn on our starboard side until which time we thought we were alone. We were not sure at this time whether they were friendly or enemy ships. Also at dawn there was evidence the JUNEAU was 10 to 12 feet down by the bow, with approximately 2 degrees list. I understood this remark was attributed to the First Lieutenant. We had also lost suction in the main feed pump causing reduced pressure and the ship to go dead in the water several times about dawn. We were making turns for 27 knots and doing approximately 20, according to Dennis, who was a throttleman in the after engine room.
Due to the excessive casualties on the SAN FRANCISCO, the senior medical officer of the latter asked assistance, and my senior medical officer Lieutenant Commander James G. Neff, (MC), USN, who had struck his head at the time of the first torpedo hit, asked me if I would care to go over. The destroyer O'BANNON a short time later sent over a boat, and I took three of my corpsmen, namely, Theodore D. Merchant, Orrel G. Cecil, and William T. Sims, plus some medical supplies, and proceeded to the SAN FRANCISCO. I was in the Admiral's cabin just donning a mask prior to assisting Lieutenant Commander Lowe to operate on Captain Young of the SAN FRANCISCO, when the JUNEAU was torpedoed the second time at approximately 1101, November 13th. In view of the fact that the Admiral's cabin is located on the port side, and the JUNEAU was on our starboard side when hit, I did not see the actual hit. However the SAN FRANCISCO swung to the starboard side and within 30 seconds of the hit I saw the spot where the JUNEAU had been. The only thing visible was tremendous clouds of grey and black smoke. I could not see any debris in the water but I was at least two to three thousand yards distant.
Later on I questioned men on the SAN FRANCISCO who had been on watch on the starboard side and had witnessed the incident, from the gist of which I gathered that three torpedoes had been fired. The first crossed the SAN FRANCISCO's bow and just missed astern of the JUNEAU. The second appeared to come from beneath the SAN FRANCISCO and its wake was not visible immediately. The third came aft of both ships. It was the second torpedo which struck the JUNEAU on the port side very close to the location of the first torpedo hit in the early morning. It was impossible for the SAN FRANCISCO to inform the JUNEAU of its imminent attack, and if the JUNEAU actually saw the torpedo wake I am of the belief that it was impossible to heel hard starboard because of its broken keel and the possibility of breaking the ship in two.
The men told me that the JUNEAU appeared to explode instantaneously and appeared to break in two, both segments of which sunk within 20 seconds. The debris from the explosion flew many feet in the air, one portion of which struck #1 gun of the SAN FRANCISCO, putting it out of commission. The signalman on the bridge of the HELENA was in the process of taking a message from the JUNEAU and had his glasses trained on the signalman on that ship and reports that the signalman was blown at least 30 feet into the air.
2. I wish to state emphatically, that during the operations described above, my shipmates conducted themselves magnificently.
ROGER W. O'NEILL
To all relatives of the crew members of the Juneau.
Please share this webpage.
I would like for every child and widow of the deceased crew members think that they are like Juanita and her mother in the webpage "Juanita, you have touched my heart and soul!" You don't know it but you have all touched my heart and soul very much. I only wish that I could make a memorial for each one of you. I can't because of the server space that would be needed to do it.
"Juanita, you have touched my heart and soul!" This webpage is for you and your family. It is a small payment for the difficult times that you and your mother went through without your father. Juanita, after searching the internet for a day I have found medals I believe your father may have been entitled to. They are not the real medals that you can touch but I am sure that you and your family will enjoy them just the same.
Dear Paul, My Father, GM3c Marvin Lee Gattis, was on the USS JUNEAU. I just saw this wonderful sight the memorial to the USS JUNEAU, and God only knows how this was for me. A flow of warm tears, but happy ones, to have had the opportunity to see this. I never got to know my father but he lives within my heart. I was only one year old, but I well remember the hell we had growing up without a Father. I feel as though I received a hug, when I saw this sight. I have added this to my list of favorites. We never receive to me to get them and I will treasure them.
Thank you and all that made this possible. I will look at this everyday. Bless You.
I was so very happy to hear from you. I was lost for the right words to express my gratitude for all the time and effort you have put into helping me. If I never get these medals, I will not be a loser, because having the great opportunity of knowing people as yourself really care about us. Thanks so much Paul for all the time and effort. I only wish the military had the compassion that some of you have. I love all of you that have not forgotten and will never forget the Price Of Freedom.
God loves you and so do I.
To the GM3c Marvin Lee Gattis's family
I would like to thank GM3c Marvin Lee Gattis for the service to his country. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was the turning point of the war although at the time we did not realize it. It turned a Japanese advancement into the Japanese withdrawal back to their homeland. It took two year and 10 months more of hard and painful fighting to make them surrender. May Marvin and his shipmates rest in eternal peace.
The war was rough on everyone, but waiting and not knowing the fate of their beloved sailor or soldier made the warespecially hard on the people back home. Most were waiting for the letters to arrive with the news they did not want to read about. Losing a husband and father was exceptionally difficult in those families with children. Mothers had to cope with their own devastating loss and, at the same time, help their children deal with a death they couldn't understand. I hope and pray this page will help bring you the closure that you have been seeking all these years.
GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU
is maintained by Paul D. Henriott
Last updated 13 November 2012