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How These World War II Admirals Died Battling At Sea

Rear Adm. Isaac Campbell Kidd
KIA Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941

Isaac Campbell Kidd was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 26, 1884, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1906 and collaborating within the Great White Fleet’s globe-girdling “show of the flag” in 1907-1909. During World War I he served aboard the battleship USS New Mexico.

Kidd had attained the rank of rear admiral, commander of Battleship Division 1 and chief of employees and aide to the commander of the Battleship Battle Force at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by Dec. 7, 1941. He was ashore when a pressure of six Japanese plane carriers attacked Pearl Harbor that morning.

Captain Kidd photographed on the deck of his ship, circa 1939. (Donation of Richard C. Beggarly, Jr., June 2000/U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)
(Donation of Richard C. Beggarly, Jr., June 2000/U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

Hastening aboard his flagship, the battleship USS Arizona, he directed its protection till bombs penetrated its bridge and journal, destroying the ship and killing 1,177 of its crew. Although Kidd’s physique was by no means discovered, his Academy ring was discovered fused to the bridge’s bulkhead, as was a trunk containing his private results, which had been returned to his widow. The first U.S. flag officer killed by a international enemy, Kidd was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. 

Adm. Sir Tom Phillips
KIA Kuantan, Dec. 10, 1941

Born in Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Cornwall on February 19, 1888, Sir Thomas Spencer Vaughn Phillips was nicknamed “Tom Thumb” because of his stature. He got here from a protracted line of army figures and selected the Royal Navy in 1903. During World War I he led destroyers within the Mediterranean Sea and Asia.

From 1920 to 1922 he was a army adviser on the Permanent Advisory Commission for Naval, Military and Air Questions Board on the League of Nations. On Jan. 10, 1939 he was made rear admiral and naval adviser to King George VI. In May 1941 he was given command of the Far Eastern Fleet with the rank of performing admiral. It was not till Dec. 2, nevertheless, that he boarded the battleship HMS Prince of Wales, which grew to become the flagship of Force Z, together with battlecruiser HMS Repulse and 4 destroyers.

Phillips selected to go down together with his ship in December 1941.
(National Portrait Gallery, London)

On Dec. 8 (concurrently with the assault on Pearl Harbor, throughout the International Dateline), Japanese forces landed at Kota Bharu, British Malaya. On Dec. 9 Adm. Phillips led Force Z out of Singapore to disrupt one other Japanese touchdown at Kuantan, however was noticed and reported by Japanese submarine I-65. Japanese naval help, together with battleships Kongo and Haruna, was dispatched to intercept, however didn’t make contact. The subsequent day, 86 Mitsubishi G3M2 and G4M1 bombers of the Saigon-based Genzan, Kanoya and Mihoro kokutais (air teams) attacked the pressure, which had no air cowl of its personal.

The consequence was the primary victory of air over naval energy on the open sea, with each capital ships torpedoed and sunk. Repulse took 426 crewmen down with it, whereas Prince of Wales’ 327 fatalities included its captain, John C. Leach, and Phillips, who selected to go down with their ship. 

Karel Doorman
KIA Java Sea, Feb. 28, 1942

Karel Willem Frederik Marie Doorman was born in Utrecht on April 23, 1889 and in 1906 he and his brother enlisted within the Royal Netherlands Navy as midshipmen. In 1910 Karel obtained his officer’s fee and was first assigned to the Dutch East Indies. In March 1914 he requested switch to aviation and from 1915 to 1921 he served as a flight teacher. As commander of Naval Air Station De Kooy at Den Helder, his excellent group and operating of the bottom led to his being awarded the Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau. In 1934 he went again to the Indies and in 1938 was positioned accountable for aviation there. 

After the Netherlands was overrun by the Germans in May 1940, the Netherlands maintained a government- in-exile in Britain and held on to their Far Eastern colonies. On May 16 Doorman was made a rear admiral and on June 13 was given command of the naval squadron there, flying his pennant from the sunshine cruiser De Ruyter.

After seven hours of exhausting preventing, Doorman selected to go down together with his flagship.
(Ministerie van Defensie, Netherlands)

When Japan entered World War II and despatched invasion forces to the Netherlands East Indies, Doorman was put accountable for ABDA Command, a polyglot assortment of accessible American, British, Dutch and Australian warships. Japanese plane foiled an try to cease them at Makassar on Feb. 4. Another assault in opposition to Japanese landings on Bali led to failure within the Bandung Strait on Feb. 19, with destroyer Piet Hein sunk by Japanese destroyer Asashio.

When an invasion pressure moved on Java, Doorman led ABDA pressure to oppose it on Feb. 27, solely to be engaged by the Japanese escort pressure, together with heavy cruisers Nachi and Haguro and lightweight cruisers Jintsu and Naka. The two sides had been pretty evenly matched, however Doorman had the handicap of attempting to coordinate efforts of commanders of 4 completely different nationalities.

He held his personal for seven hours, however on the twenty eighth Nachi managed to torpedo De Ruyter, Haguro torpedoed gentle cruiser Java and the Allied formation disintegrated—and with it, Allied hopes of saving Java. Doorman selected to go down together with his flagship. He was posthumously made a Knight third Class of the Military William Order.

Rear Adm. Tamon Yamaguchi
KIA Midway, June 5, 1942

Born Aug. 17, 1892 in Koishikawa Tokyo, Tamon Yamaguchi got here from a samurai household and was given the childhood title of a legendary 14th century samurai, Kusunoki Masashige. In 1912 he graduated twenty first out of 144 cadets from the Naval Academy. July 1918 noticed him aboard Kashi, a part of a squadron based mostly at Malta. From 1921 to 1923 he attended Princeton University, N.J. and in 1927 he served on the General Staff. During the warfare in China, he commanded the sunshine cruiser Isuzu, battleship Ise and the first Combined Air Group, rising to rear admiral on Nov. 15, 1938. 

By Dec. 7, 1941, Yamaguchi was accountable for the 2nd Koku Sentai (air division) of Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo’s 1st Kido Butai (air fleet), consisting of plane carriers Soryu and Hiryu, which attacked Pearl Harbor and supported the invasions of Wake and Ambon islands, a bombing strike on Darwin, Australia and provider raids on Ceylon (Sri Lanka). 

By the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, Yamaguchi had shifted his pennant from Soryu to Hiryu. When reconnaissance planes noticed the provider USS Yorktown within the neighborhood, he urged Adm. Nagumo to launch all his Nakajima B5N2s in opposition to the American ships with the bombs they held, moderately than wait to exchange them with torpedoes.

Nagumo overruled him, ensuing within the Americans arriving simply in time for Douglas SBD-2 dive bombers from carriers Enterprise and Yorktown to inflict deadly harm to carriers Akagi, Kaga and Soryu. They failed to seek out and destroy Hiryu. Its B5N torpedo planes and Aichi D3A1 dive bombers struck again, crippling provider Yorktown earlier than Hiryu was disabled by Enterprise’s SBDs. On June 5, Yamaguchi ordered his crew to desert ship. He and Captain Tomeo Kaku selected to go down with the doomed vessel.

Rear Adm. Aritomo Goto
KIA Cape Esperance, Oct. 12, 1942

Born in Ibaraki Prefecture on Jan. 23, 1888, Aritomo Goto graduated from the Naval Academy in 1910 and served aboard all kinds of ships. In World War I he manned a radio outpost within the South Pacific. On Nov. 15, 1939 he was made rear admiral and given command of the 2nd Cruiser Division. 

On Sept. 10, 1941, Goto was put accountable for the sixth Cruiser Division, consisting of heavy cruisers Aoba, Furutaka, Kinugasa and Kako. His cruisers performed supporting roles within the second assault on Wake on Dec. 23, 1941, and within the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942. August 1942 noticed the sixth Cruiser Division based mostly at Kavieng and Rabaul, New Britain, when U.S. Marines landed on Guadalcanal.

Goto died of his wounds a day after a battle with U.S. Navy cruisers.
(Kahle/Austin Foundation)

Goto joined Vice Adm. Gunichi Mikawa for the nocturnal Battle of Savo, and the sinking of heavy cruisers USS Astoria, Quincy and Vincennes, and RANS Canberra. While returning to Kavieng, nevertheless, Kako was waylaid and sunk by the U.S. submarine S.44.

The tables had been turned on the night time of Oct. 11. Goto, main a mission to bombard Henderson Field whereas Japanese military reinforcements had been being shipped to Guadalcanal, bumped into an ambush of U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers below Rear Adm. Norman Scott off Cape Esperance. The Americans misplaced the destroyer USS Duncan, however sank Furutaka and badly broken Aoba, whose casualties included Goto, who died of his wounds the following day.

Rear Adms. Daniel J. Callaghan and Norman Scott
KIA Guadalcanal, Nov. 12-13, 1942

Daniel Judson Callaghan was born in San Francisco, California on July 26, 1890 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1911. After commanding the cruiser New Orleans throughout World War I, he served as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s naval aide from July 1938 to May 1941, when he was given command of the heavy cruiser San Francisco. In April 1942 he was made a rear admiral and chief of employees to Vice Adm. Robert L. Ghormley.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana on Aug. 10, 1889, Norman Scott graduated from the Naval Academy in 1911. He was govt officer on the destroyer USS Jacob Jones when it was torpedoed between Brest, France and Queenstown, Ireland by the German submarine U-53 on Dec. 6, 1917. With 66 sailors killed and two captured by U-53 (which then radioed its sufferer’s coordinates to Queenstown), Jacob Jones was the primary American warship sunk in motion throughout World War I. Scott later served as naval aide to President Woodrow Wilson and commanded Eagle boats in 1919.

Scott’s profession continued via World War II, when he made rear admiral in May 1942. He commanded the sunshine cruiser USS San Juan in August and in September was given command of cruiser and destroyer outfitted Task Force 64, whose personnel he educated to comprehend his aggressive method to fight, together with night time preventing. This paid off at Cape Esperance on the night time of Oct. 11-12, when Scott “crossed the T” on Japanese Cruiser Division 6, killing Rear Adm. Aritomo Goto, damaging his flagship Aoba, and sinking heavy cruiser Furutaka. 

Callaghan was accountable for Task Group 67.4 when the Japanese despatched two battleships and different warships below Vice Adm. Hiroake Abe to bombard Henderson Field at Guadalcanal on the night time of Nov. 12-13, 1942. An aggressive officer who educated his males in gunnery, Callaghan was posthumously criticized for failing to difficulty a battle plan to his scratch pressure and never profiting from his latest radar. Scott was current aboard gentle cruiser Atlanta. At the time, many naval officers believed the battle would have turned out in another way had Scott been in total command.

Both forces superior to level clean vary earlier than they grew to become conscious of one another, ensuing within the wildest, most violent floor encounter of the warfare. Atlanta demolished the Japanese destroyer Akatsuki and broken Ikazuchi however took a torpedo from both Ikazuchi or Inazuma. Nearby, San Francisco battled the battleship Kirishima, gentle cruiser Nagara and a destroyer, additionally touchdown 19 8-inch shells on Atlanta, putting its bridge and killing Scott. Badly broken, Atlanta was scuttled three miles east of Lunga Point. San Francisco survived the carnage with 77 crewmen lifeless, together with Callaghan. The Japanese, whose losses included the battleship Hiei, withdrew, leaving the Americans victorious. Both Callaghan and Scott had been posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. 

Rear Adm. Henry Mullinnix
KIA off Makin, Nov. 24, 1943

Born in Spencer, Indiana on the Fourth of July 1892, Henry Maston Mullinnix graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy first in his class in 1916. Studying aeronautical aviation, Mullinnix certified as an aviator on Jan. 11, 1923, happening to advance using air-cooled engines in naval plane.

On Nov. 13, 1942, Mullinnix was promoted to rear admiral and commanded the plane provider USS Saratoga from April to August 22, 1943. After some shore responsibility with a provider division, Mullinnix was despatched to the Central Pacific accountable for Task Group 52.3—Air Support Group of Northern Attack Force (Makin), Task Force 52—with the escort provider USS Liscome Bay as his flagship.

Mullinnix was killed when his ship was torpedoed in November 1943.

On Nov. 20, U.S. Army troopers of the one hundred and sixty fifth Infantry Regiment landed on Makin within the Gilbert Islands and the island was secured by the twenty fourth. That day, nevertheless, Japanese submarine I-175 slipped into the duty group and fired an expansion of three torpedoes on the plane provider.

At least one struck residence, penetrating to the journal and blowing the ship aside. Only 272 of its crew survived; the 644 killed included Adm. Mullinnix, Captain Irving D. Wiltsie and Cook third Class Doris Miller, who earned the Navy Cross for his efforts to defend his ship in the course of the Pearl Harbor raid. Mullinnix was posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V.”

Vice Adm. Shoji Nishimura
KIA Surigao Strait, Oct. 25, 1944

Born on Nov. 30, 1889, Shoji Nishimura graduated from the Naval Academy in 1911 and was broadly characterised as a “sea dog” who abhorred onshore assignments. In November 1941 he received his first command, Destroyer Squadron 4. The demise of his solely son in an air accident on Dec. 23 left him with a fatalistic streak.

His efficiency in battle was blended at greatest. Near Bali on Jan. 24, 1942, his squadron chased a Dutch submarine whereas 4 U.S. Navy destroyers savaged the convoy he was presupposed to escort. At the Java Sea on Feb. 27, his squadron failed to attain a single torpedo hit (together with the eight launched from his flagship, gentle cruiser Naka). During the Second Battle of Guadalcanal on Nov. 14-15, 1942, Nishimura’s destroyers didn’t land a single torpedo hit. 

In spite of that poor report, Nishimura was promoted to vice admiral in September 1944 and put accountable for Battleship Division 2. On the night time of Oct. 24-25, 1944, he led his unit in attacking the American beachhead on Leyte from the south, solely to run into many of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, together with six battleships, at Surigao Strait. It was clearly a suicide mission.

Nishimura misplaced battleship Fuso and three destroyers to American destroyers’ torpedoes earlier than he even reached the enemy battle line. He engaged the battleships till he went down together with his flagship, Yamashiro, below an avalanche of shells and probably 4 torpedoes. Of the seven warships he led up the strait, solely the destroyer Shigure escaped intact.

Vice Adm. Seiichi Ito
KIA East China Sea, April 7, 1945

Born on July 26, 1890 in Miike County (now Miyama City, Fukuoka Prefecture), Seiichi Ito graduated from the Naval Academy in 1911 and rose quickly although the Japanese naval employees. Like Isoroku Yamamoto, he was a staunch proponent of sustaining good relations with the United States. He rose to vice chief of employees of the Imperial Navy General Staff and on Oct. 1, 1941 was made a vice admiral. In December 1944 he commanded the 2nd Fleet within the Inland Sea. 

After the Americans landed on Okinawa on April 1, 1945, Ito was ordered to guide an operation through which the colossal battleship Yamato would pressure its option to Okinawa, run itself aground and shell the American beachhead till it ran out of ammunition. Ito protested that this may be a waste of assets.

However, when informed that the Emperor anticipated the High Seas Fleet to do one thing, he obeyed and personally led Yamato, escorted by the sunshine cruiser Yahagi and eight destroyers. The unit was noticed and got here below assault on April 7, 1945 by tons of of U.S. Navy provider planes. 

Hit by at the very least 11 torpedoes and 6 bombs, Yamato was sunk, together with Yahagi and 4 of the destroyers. Ito’s final order was to cancel the operation and have the remaining destroyers rescue whoever they may earlier than he joined the three,055 of three,332 crewmen who went down with Yamato. Ito was posthumously promoted to full admiral. His solely son was killed 10 days after his demise flying a kamikaze airplane to Okinawa.


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