The Battles of Kendari & Menado
Defending the Malay Barrier Campaign
In the WAF VAdm Ozawa completed the 4th Malayan Convoy as well as Miri and Jesselton.
The Brits under Admirals Phillips and Palliser took Mauritius as a reinforcement. The Dutch under RAdm Doorman transferred from Batavia to Surabaya to combine with the Americans.
In the EAF the Americans received Pensacola as a TE reinforcement (this GT only) at Surabaya and sortied under RAdm Glassford against the Eastern Axis with everything that could sortie (2 DDs had mechanical problems). The ANZACs under RAdm Crace also sortied from Darwin against the Eastern Axis.
VAdm Kondo had transferred to the EAF with CS4 on GT1. He now sortied a patrol in the Eastern Axis with CS4 & 5 (2 Atago & 3 Myoko). He also had DesDivs 9 (4 Asashio) and 24 (4 Shiratsuyu).
RAdm Tanka sortied a M convoy against Ambon with Jintsu, DesDiv 15 (4 Kagero), CVS Mizuho and 8 AP.
RAdm Nishimura sortied a S convoy against Menado with Naka, DesDiv 2 (4 Shiratsuyu) and 4 AP.
The EAF also sortied a S convoy against Kendari with DesDiv 16(-) 2 Kagero, Chitose and 4 AP.
A TE gave the EAF an extra CD and the EAF thus sortied a CG under VAdm Kakuta in the Eastern Axis.
EAF LBA struck both the ANZACs and Task Force 5 with 2 bombers damaged and no hits as a result. VAdm Kondo failed to find either the ANZACs or Task Force 5 (I rolled 11 twice in a row for contact). This no Kondo on the patrol’s part looked bad for the convoys then the campaign’s higher power remembered the CG (I was either rusty, dusty or musty).
RAdm Kakuta’s pilots found the ANZACS and struck them twice. Each time the last TB flight scored a hit. First on HMAS Vampire and then on HMAS Canberra. RAdm Crace saw it as a sign and aborted the sweep. RAdm Kakuta’s planes could not find Task Force 5.
The wily RAdm Tanaka avoided the American sweep like the veteran he is. But Task force 5 caught both the convoys to Kendari and Menado in daylight.
This report is written from RAdm Glassford’s POV and is limited to that observed from the bridge of USS Houston. The wind was a Force 5 from the north. Visibility was 21,000 yards with a complete overcast. There were no squalls or sea haze reported.
RAdm Glassford’s flagship USS Houston lead USS Pensacola, USS Boise and USS Marblehead in line ahead. DesDivs 58 & 59 in a column to port and 57 to starboard.
At 1618 hours the masthead reported ships ahead on the port quarter. Houston and Pensacola opened fire and Pensacola hit a destroyer (later determined to be Amatsukaze). RAdm Glassford ordered his cruisers to launch their spotter a/c.
At 1624 hours the wind slackened to Force 3 and veered to the north. Houston’s lookouts could now see a second destroyer to the port of the first destroyer. Houston and Pensacola continued to fire on Amatsukaze while Boise now opened on what was later determined to be Hatsukaze.
At 1630 hours Marblehead joined Boise in firing at Hatsukaze. Over the next 12 minutes or so the Americans would land many hits on both destroyers finally silencing them both before sinking them. But the Kagero class destroyers did not go down without a fight. They both hit and damaged John D. Ford and Alden slowing them to 30 knots. Visibility had dropped to 17,000 yards.
Task Force 5 would run down 4 transports before night but what appeared to be a CVS managed to escape.
RAdm Glassford detached DesDiv 57 to RTB and decided to press on towards Menado.
At 1200 hours the next day Task Force 5 was approaching Menado. At 1218 hours Pensacola’s surface warning radar detected contacts ahead and RAdm Glassford ordered an increase in speed.
At 1224 hours Houston’s lookouts again reported enemy ships ahead on the port quarter. The visibility was only 15,000 yards so they were considerably closer than before.
The Pensacola drew first blood again. This time against what appeared to be a cruiser. There was a flash on the cruiser’s bridge as Pensacola’s first salvo struck home.
The Japanese continued straight ahead and Houston and Pensacola both targeted the cruiser. The cruiser (later determined to be Naka) suffered multiple hits and then blew up.
By this point there appeared to be two columns of Japanese destroyers to either flank of the cruiser. Boise targeted the leading destroyer of the port column while Marblehead targeted the leading destroyer of the starboard column. Both hit their targets.
1236 hours Houston and Pensacola now each targeted the port destroyer column while Boise and Marblehead fired on the starboard column. Boise found the range and firing rapidly struck what was later determined to by Yudachi repeatedly (some claiming to have counted 15 separate hits). Yudachi came to stop and began sinking. Marblehead hit what was later determined to be Samidare several times also. Samidare slowed appreciably and turned away under smoke.
Houston and Pensacola hit the other two destroyers slowing one perceptively and they also turned away under smoke one after the other. But not before they hit and damaged John Paul Jones, Pope and Peary.
Task Force 5 would run down four transports before calling it a day and RTB at Surabaya.
The EAF has now taken Davao, Jolo and Ambon.
The ABDA will form next GT and we’ll see what happens.