Cmdr Rae E. Arison, USN, took command of LCS(L) Flotilla One at San Diego Naval Base on 10 Sep 1944, raising his pennant aboard
LCS(L) 48. The 48 was joined in San Diego by LCSs 26, 27, and 49; and the four ships conducted training exercises in the area until 20
Oct, when they departed for the Western Pacific. Flotilla One was joined by LCS(L) 8 in Hollandia, New Guinea; the flotilla spent 11 days
at Hollandia staging for the pending operations on Luzon, in which they were due to participate. They sailed on 8 Jan 45 for San Pedro
Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands, arriving there on 15 Jan, when they were joined by the LCS(L) 7.
Flotilla One’s first combat assignment was to participate in landings at San Antonio Bay in Zambales Province on 29 Jan. The ships
departed Leyte on 25 Jan along with 13 other Amphibious Craft as a part of Task Unit 78.3.8. Flotilla One’s primary mission was to
precede the first assault wave and provide close inshore fire support for it and the following waves. The flotilla took position at H-hour
minus 60, approximately 200 yards inshore from the line of departure; at H-hour, the six LCSs led the first assault waves to the beach.
Fire was withheld in compliance with orders of the Commander, Task Group (CTG) 78.3, RAdm Arthur D. Struble. No enemy activity was
encountered and the operation proceeded without incident. The flotilla was then assigned screening duty in the area south of the
beaching area for the night of 29 Jan.
The Task Unit departed the area at 0400 on 30 Jan for Subic Bay. Together with other
ships of the Task Group, they arrived at the rendezvous area at 0815 ready to support
the assault on Grande Island in the mouth of the bay. As was the previous day, there
was no enemy resistance and the operation was completed without incident. During
the next few days, Flotilla One was involved in routine work such as minor patrol and
smoke screen assignments.
On 13 and 14 Feb, two units of the flotilla, LCSs 26 and 27 conducted pre-invasion
mine clearing operations in Manila Bay. The LCSs followed the minesweepers
destroying the mines that had been cut loose by the sweepers. During those two days,
LCS 26 destroyed 30 mines and the 27 destroyed 53. The ships also came under fire
from a Japanese battery on Corregidor, which was promptly put out of action with the
help from a destroyer. Later on the second day, the 26 and the 27 came to the aid of
two destroyers which had struck mines near Mariveles.
On 15 Feb, Flotilla One provided inshore fire support for the landings on Mariveles Harbor. After preliminary shelling by destroyers and
high level bombing by B-24 Liberators, the flotilla proceeded into the bay along the boat lane. Opening fire with all guns and rockets, they
strafed the harbor area. At the end of the day, Flotilla One ships were serving as a screen across the mouth of Mariveles Bay to protect
three LSTs stuck in the beachhead in the bay. Contrary to following their usual procedure of providing protection by patrolling back and
forth across a designated area, the LCSs were ordered to anchor in a line across the bay’s mouth. That they were, in effect, dead in the
water and unable to get underway within several minutes made them highly vulnerable to attack by water and by air.
On 16 Feb, at approximately 0320, the flotilla came under a surprise attack by about 30 suicide boats, and by heavy short-based gunfire
that appeared to come from Cabello Island. In a matter of minutes, LCSs 7, 26, and 49, after receiving multiple hits, were sunk with the
loss of 73 lives and many more wounded. LSC 27 managed to sink 4 of the suicide boats, however, a fifth one blew up along the port
side causing extensive damage resulting in flooding. The ship was saved from sinking by beaching it in Mariveles Bay. LCSs 8 and 48
were not in the immediate area and did not come under attack by the first wave of suicide boats. Both ships subsequently detected
targets on their radars and took them under fire. They then began searching the area for survivors, picking them up and taking them to
the LST hospital ship in the bay.
The following is a description of the events of 15-16 Feb in Mariveles Bay by Ardin Lee Hunt, a Signalman aboard LCI(L) 226. This
description is taken from a journal he kept while aboard the 226 and later aboard LCI (L) 72:
D Day at Mariveles -Battaan, Phillippines
Feb. 15, 1945
When the sun came up, our not too large convoy was about
six miles from Corregidor which is located at the mouth of
Manila Bay. There were six LCI Rocket ships and six LCS Gun
boats. Mine Sweepers had been throughhere before us.
Corregidor had several good bombings before today.
About a half mile away from Corregidor, the Japs opened up with
a big 8 in. gun hid some where in a cave. Their first few shots did
not hit any thing. Than one shell hit very close to a small boat carrying
troops, it did not turn over but it almost. We did not think any one was
hurt. About five minutes later the same boat came by us told us by
semaphore they had four wounded men who were in bad shape and wanted us to take them. We could not stop so they tied along side
us still underway. We were now heading into Mariveles Harbor. Ships were shelling the beach already. We carried the first man aboard
whose arm was hanging on by the skin underneath; he was one mass of blood. The second one I helped carry. His shoulder was laid
open about six inches long and three in. deep. I got stick blood all over my hands, and the wound smelled terrible. The third man had
shell fragments in his skull, and chest. His face was covered with blood. The fourth man died just as they were about to take him out of
the boat, so they left him in and threw him on beach as soon as they landed. Blood was all over our deck now. Our P.H. Mate had the
three carried down in Six Bay, which is in Three Compartment where I sleep.
I now had to get back on my fifty cal. gun as we were going in on the run. We let go all our rockets which sure cleared the beach. Then
troops went in. At the same time a L.S.M. hit a mine and caught on fire. It blew a half truck full of troops clear us on the top deck killing all.
Many were killed. We now loaded all forward rack for any emergency run. We gave the beach a heavy shelling with our 40MM and other
guns. We went along side an LCI who had a doctor on, right away as the wounded men were very bad. The man with the arm all most off
was by now all most dead, from lack of blood even though our P.H. Mate did give him plasma. By now the army had the beach quiet. This
concluded our part of the operation on D Day. We finished loading our racks, for Corregidor tomorrow morning. We anchored all night
here in Mariveles harbor.
D Day on Corregidor
Feb. 16, 1945
Today I saw one of the most awful sights that I shall never forget as long
as I live. The day stared at 0300 in the early mourning. The reason
G.Q. was sounded at this time was that several Jap P.T. boats sneaked into
Mariveles Harbor, and were raising hell! When I got on top side I saw
one LSM and one LCS all in one big mass of flames. We got all the fire
fighting equipment out and stood by our guns for the unknown. By now,
tracers and large shells were flying all over the harbor. We couldn't see
what they were shooting at. The harbor was so small that shells were
hitting all around us. Just than another one of our LCSs blew up. The
shells were still hitting all over the harbor. LCI 225 got hit by a 40MM
shell in their fog generator and drums. A couple of their crew got shell
fragments in them, but not hurt bad.
By now two more LCS were hit. The one burst in to flames and blew up
and went straight to the bottom with all hand still aboard. The other
LCS was still on fire but she rammed her bow on the beach so she could not
sink. Half her crew was killed. Shells and tracers were flying all
over the harbor like mad yet. Then the LCS next to us burst into flame
and blew up. We could hear their men scream as their ship went to the
bottom. Only a few were saved. We were all so scared by now we didn't
know what to do. We though we were next because we were next in the line
of ships that blew up. We did not know how the Jap were blowing up these ships and still do not know. Now all the firing had stop. All was
quiet except for the cries of the many survivors floating in the water. We were all sick now our selves. Things were so mixed up, that we
never found out how many Jap small boats we sunk. We could hear men yelling for help. The LCI's got orders to pick them up.
In the 24 hours we took over Mariveles Harbor we lost, two LSMs and four LCSs which have been ove seas only four months. The one
LCS did not sink because it was rammed upon the beach. We lost about 200 men whom several I knew, and six ships, beside the others
hit by smaller shells. We now got orders by radio to proceed out of harbor and form column for our protection. We went out to sea about
six miles and than returned. By now the sun was coming up. When we got back in Mariveles Harbor all was quiet. The LCS was damaged
on the beach. The others were sunk. By now it was light and we had to get ready for the landing on Corregidor.
The following is an account of the events by personnel on LCS 8:
The situation remained normal until 0310 on 16 Feb when General Quarters
was sounded. Two LCSs were seen afire (caused by explosions). One was
known to be the 7 and the other believed to be the 26. Men and officers on watch
claimed to have seen the 49 explode and sink within 30 seconds; the 26 sank
prior to the time our battle stations were fully manned. At 0345, the LSC 7 rolled
over on its port side and sank; its engines were observed to be running. We later
picked up from the water one survivor off the 7, and a PT boat transferred more to
us from the ill-fated 7. At 0600, on orders from CTU 78.3.8, we followed the LCS 48
out of the harbor, returning at 0640 to find that the 7, 26, and 49 had been sunk and
the 27 beached and badly damaged.
Lt (jg) Charles Trezona, on LCS 49, recalled his ship’s last moments:
We had no warning of the attack. The ship was hit twice in a minute and a half and we
didn’t have a chance. At 0300 something whizzed out of the darkness, holed into the aft
end of the ship, and our port side shot into flames. None of us had ever seen anything
like it before. The low-slung pointed boat just disintegrated against the side of the ship.
We had organized a party to fight the fire of the first ramming when something struck us
forward on the starboard side the ship heaved. I was thrown in the water. Some of our
rafts and gas drums floated by in the wreckage. The officers were swimming about
rounding up groups and assigning the badly hurt to rafts. It was one of the coolest
performances I’ve ever seen and all hands deserve credit. The Skipper was seriously
injured himself, but gave up his life belt to one of the weaker men and held another in
his arms for two hours while clinging to a drum. One of the wounded men had a life belt
and couldn’t inflate it. Though part of my upper teeth had been knocked out in the explosion,
somehow I managed to blow his belt up; still I don’t know where the necessary air came from.
Ensign D. C. Demeter, LCS 7’s Communications Officer, was Officer of the Deck at the time the ship was ordered to serve as a screen
across the mouth of the bay. He held this position until 0320 the next morning when the 7 was the first of the three LCSs to be crashed
and sunk by the suicide boats. This is Demeter’s description of what happened on the 7:
By the time our radar operator interpreted the signal, there wasn’t much time for shooting. When I ordered the crew of our ship’s gun
nearest to the oncoming ship to fire, they failed to do so. I then fired two shots from a rifle and two more shots from my .38 revolver when
a blinding explosion knocked me unconscious. When I regained consciousness, the conn was a mass of wreckage. The entire port side
and superstructure were ablaze. Ammunition was exploding all around. Men were lying about the decks with burns and broken bones.
The ship was sinking.
F1c Don Thompson was standing watch on LCS 27 at his starboard 20 mm gun tub when the attack began. He related the following.
We had supported putting troops ashore the previous day and were anchored across the bay
guarding the entrance. The first indication we had was when we saw the explosions on the other
LCSs. I was at the 20 mm on the upper deck next to the conning tower. We didn’t know what
had caused the explosions on the other ships, but we immediately began scanning the waters
around our ship. I spotted the wake of something moving quickly toward us and began firing
at it, hitting it before it could get too close. Then there was an explosion on the other side of
our ship. I wasn’t hit by anything because the conning tower was between my position and the
explosion. We then pulled up our anchor and headed toward the beach to keep from sinking.
As we approached the beach, I saw another boat coming toward us and I began firing at it,
again sinking it before it could get too close. We spent the rest of the night and most of the
following day (16 Feb) on board the beached ship manning the guns. I saw a Destroyer hit
a mine in the bay and saw one guy get blown off the ship by the explosion. We could see movement on land, but didn’t know whether
they were Japs or our Army. We fired our guns over their heads to get their attention; it turned out they were our guys.
Later in the morning of 16 Feb, LCSs 8 and 48 began providing fire support for the landing on Corregidor. The Japanese used
controlled mines, machine guns and artillery fire to oppose the landing. Definite targets were taken under fire by the LCSs and all were
silenced before the troops hit the beach. During the landings, the LCSs were forced to withdraw several times to let the guns cool. They
received no casualties during the operation but the men were very tired and nervous after their close escape the night before and the day-
long firing into Corregidor after the Mariveles attack, with no rest between.
The crews of LCSs 8 and 48 spent the next week on liberty on Grande Island in Subic Bay; it was a welcome respite for all hands.
On February 17, initial salvage efforts on LCS 27 failed when the salvage tug struck a mine as it was coming alongside. The entire crew
was removed and taken to Subic Bay on an LCI.
As of late Feb, the 48 was not longer the Flotilla One flagship, since Captain Arison and his staff were transferred to a Landing Craft
Flotilla Command Ship LC(FF).
From March through June temporary repairs were made to LCS 27, first in Subic Bay. Further repairs in dry dock were performed in
Leyte Gulf. The final repairs and refitting were conducted in Mios Wendi (near Biak Island), New Guinea.
In July, LCS 27 was assigned duty to escort 4 LCTs from Hollandia to Subic Bay. In August at Illo Illo, Panay, LCS 27 engaged in training
exercises with troops for the invasion of Japan. A-bombs were dropped on Japan and peace declared.
LCSs 8 and 48 participated in several more landing support missions in the Philippines Islands and Southern Pacific area before the
end of the war.
After the surrender of the Japanese, the surviving LCSs that once were a part of Flotilla One, the 8, 27, and 48, sailed north. In the
company of other LCSs, they performed mine search and destroy operations in the Yellow Sea. Ports of call in Korea included Inchon
and Pusan. They then went to Tientsen, China to support the 3rd Marine Division occupation mission to intern the Japanese troops
In November, they headed to Tsingtao, China, arriving about 1 Dec. On about 10 Dec, they were ordered to return to the states. On the
way, they weathered a Typhoon on the trip to Pearl Harbor and a February storm before reaching the West Coast.
Concerning the tragic loss of men from the three LCSs of Flotilla One at Mariveles Bay, Richard Rhame, Flotilla One Historian has
written these lines: "Left behind beneath the blue-grey waters of Mariveles Bay were those 73 brave men who had given their lives in the
best tradition of the Navy. Their sacrifice will live forever in the hearts and minds of their mates."
The most vivid and expressive account of the tragic event and the feelings it generated was given by W. M. (Marty) Kingwell, crew member
and survivor of the 26:
|The Saga of LCS(L) Flotilla One
World War II
|LCS 48 Stands Off LSM 169 Helping Ocean
Rescue Tug Fight Fires
Island of Corregidor in Background
|Japanese "Shinyo" Suicide Boat
|"Shinyo" Suicide Boat Driven by a
U. S. Army Soldier
|View of Mariveles Landings from Con of
|Manila Bay, Corregidor Island
and Mariveles Harbor
|LCS 8 Off Corregidor on
16 Feb 1945
|Tonight we’re placed at Harbor’s mouth,
Five ships in line from north to south.
I’m standing watch, t’ween three and four,
There comes a flash, an awful roar.
We stand in awe, we hear men scream,
It seems unreal as if a dream.
Another flash, they’ve hit one more,
It lights us up, the flames now soar.
We look in vain, we cannot see,
What caused all this, what can it be?
I see them now, just two grey shapes,
They’re coming fast, I see their wakes.
Torpedo-like boats, suicides,
A crazy Jap in each one rides.
The one hits near, we feel the thud,
It don’t explode, it is a dud.
It was God’s will, I’m satisfied,
He interfered or I’d have died.
Toward the bow, the other hit,
A blinding flash, the sky is lit.
Our ship’s in flames, men run about,
Trapped men now scream, others shout.
I turn to leave, a blow I feel,
My forehead stings, it makes me reel.
I keep my feet, I gain the rail,
I can’t give up, I must not fail.
I hit the sea, I head for shore,
Some mates are near, there’s three or four,
We swim awhile, then turn to gaze,
The ship now sinks, the sea’s ablaze.
From burning oil, which soon burns out,
Once more it’s dark, men swim about.
Jap snipers fire from off Bataan,
I’m glad it’s dark, three hours till dawn.
They say at dawn the trees bore fruit,
Jap bodies hung, quite limp and mute.
I reach the shore, I utter thanks,
Then stagger up the rocky banks.
At dawn they come to rescue us,
We’re cold and grim, there’s little fuss.