Porter III DD-356 - History

Porter III DD-356 - History


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Porter III DD-356

Porter III(DD-356: dp. 1,850,1. 381'0"; b. 36'2", dr. 10'5", s. 35 kcpl. 238; a. 8 5", 8 40mm, 8 21" tt., 2 dGt.; CL Porter).Thc third Porter (DD-356) was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J., 18 December 1933; aunched 12 December 1935; sponsored by Miss Carlile Patterson Porter, and commissioned at Philadelphia 25 August 1936, Comdr. Forrest B. Royal in command.After shakedown in waters off northern Europe, Porter visited St. John's, Newfoundland, for coronation ceremonies in honor of George VI in May 1937 and was at the Washington Navy Yard during the Boy Scout Jamboree, June July 1937. Then reassigned to the Pactfic Fleet' she transited the Panama Canal and arrived at San Franclsco 5 August 1937. She operated continuously with the Pacific Fleet until the outbreak of World War II, homeported at San Diego.On 5 December 1941, Porter got underway from Pearl Harbor, escaping the Japanese attack by two days. She patrolled with cruisers and destroyers in Hawanan waters before steaming in convoy 25 March 1942 for the west coast.She operated off the west coast with TF 1 for the next 4 months. Returning to Pearl Harbor in mid-August, she trained in Hawaiian waters until 16 October when she sortied with TF 16 and headed for the Solomons. On 26 October 1942, TF 16 exchanged air attacks with strong Japanese forces northeast of Guadalcanal in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. During the ensuing action, Porter was torpedoed by a submarine and, after the crew had abandoned ship, was sunk by gunfire from Shawl Her name was struck from the Navy List 2 November 1942.Porter earned one battle star for World War II service.


Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands

The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, fought during 25–27 October 1942, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Santa Cruz or Third Battle of Solomon Sea, in Japan as the Battle of the South Pacific (Japanese: 南太平洋海戦 Minamitaiheiyō kaisen), was the fourth aircraft carrier battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II. It was also the fourth major naval engagement fought between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the lengthy and strategically important Guadalcanal campaign. As in the battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, and the Eastern Solomons, the ships of the two adversaries were rarely in sight or gun range of each other. Instead, almost all attacks by both sides were mounted by carrier- or land-based aircraft.

In an attempt to drive Allied forces from Guadalcanal and nearby islands and end the stalemate that had existed since September 1942, the Imperial Japanese Army planned a major ground offensive on Guadalcanal for 20–25 October 1942. In support of this offensive, and with the hope of engaging Allied naval forces, Japanese carriers and other large warships moved into a position near the southern Solomon Islands. From this location, the Japanese naval forces hoped to engage and decisively defeat any Allied (primarily U.S.) naval forces, especially carrier forces, that responded to the ground offensive. Allied naval forces also hoped to meet the Japanese naval forces in battle, with the same objectives of breaking the stalemate and decisively defeating their adversary.

The Japanese ground offensive on Guadalcanal was underway with the Battle for Henderson Field while the naval warships and aircraft from the two adversaries confronted each other on the morning of 26 October 1942, just north of the Santa Cruz Islands. After an exchange of carrier air attacks, Allied surface ships retreated from the battle area with the fleet carrier Hornet sunk, and another fleet carrier, Enterprise, heavily damaged. The participating Japanese carrier forces also retired because of high aircraft and aircrew losses, plus significant damage to the fleet carrier Shōkaku and the light carrier Zuihō.

Santa Cruz was a tactical victory and a short-term strategic victory for the Japanese in terms of ships sunk and damaged, and control of the seas around Guadalcanal. However, Japan's loss of many irreplaceable veteran aircrews proved to be a long-term strategic advantage for the Allies, whose aircrew losses in the battle were relatively low and quickly replaced.


The 12 Gayest Men in Show Biz History, From Paul Lynde to Billy Porter

The glittery, let’s-pretend world of show biz seems to attract a lot of gay men, whether they’re in, out, or halfway there. And many of them have brought us joy through the decades with their tempestuous talent and irrepressible antics.

Here are my picks for the dozen gayest of all, complete with some well-accessorized runner-ups. I’m not including fashion designers (too easy) or newscasters, just entertainment figures—and I am including some men who were so gay they screamed it, even if they didn’t always say it.

Paul Lynde (1926-82)

With his barbed delivery of a line followed by a wicked little chuckle, Paul Lynde was the epitome of gay—an unspoken shrine to homosexuality back when no one was out. It was all about hints and innuendos. Lynde was a scream as the angsty father in Bye Bye Birdie (singing the bitter “Kids,” though I never understood how he had any), the campy Uncle Arthur on the gay-friendly sitcom Bewitched, and the decidedly off-center Center Square on the game show Hollywood Squares (“Why do the Hell’s Angels wear leather?” Lynde: “Because chiffon wrinkles easily.”) In lieu of out gay heroes, we had Paul Lynde flapping his wrists and virtually welcoming us inside his closet while slamming the door in our faces.

Another fab flamer who spanned both theater, TV series, and game shows was the extremely funny Charles Nelson Reilly (1931-2007), who shook up The Match Game with his gestures and polyester prints. And the other runners up are Jim Nabors, Jim J. Bullock, Jim Parsons, Bruce Vilanch, Taylor Negron, and Queer Eye guys past and present.

RuPaul (1960-)

“You better work!” “We’re all born naked. The rest is drag.” “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” “Don’t let your mouth write checks that your ass can’t cash.” “Sissy that walk!” Enough said? Gay, gay, gay!

Other legendary drag superstars include Charles Ludlam, Charles Pierce, Jim Bailey, Lori Shannon, Charles Busch, Lypsinka, and every Drag Race contestant who ever lived.

George Takei (1937-)

Having survived early years spent in a Japanese-American internment camp, Takei miraculously emerged not only as a noted actor (best known as Sulu in Star Trek), but as a vocal gay who came out in 2005 and has been blissfully outspoken in favor of the queer cause ever since. With 2.87 million Twitter followers (as of publication), Takei sends out stingingly on-target messages, satirical thoughts (“Trump has offered to have Mexico pay for the rebuilding of Notre Dame”) and pictures of himself and his husband with Pete Buttigieg.

Elton John (1947-)

We’ll forgive Sir Elton’s marriage to a woman in 1984. After all, even he admits he was denying who he really was by entering into it. Except for occasional detours like that, the British singer has always been flashy, trashy, and true, with large sunglasses and boas to match the grandiosity of his incredibly catchy hit records. Writing the score for 1994’s The Lion King (which later became a smash Broadway show and now a CGI remake) gave him a whole new legitimacy, and now, with his biopic Rocketman about to be released, he’s practically as revered as the Queen herself.

Honorable mentions to Freddie Mercury, the Village People, Boy George, Jimmy Somerville, Andy Bell, George Michael, Jobriath, Lance Bass, Adam Lambert, Sylvester, and Rudolf Nureyev.

Divine (1945-88)

In a skin-tight red dress, with impossibly raised eyebrows and tortured yellow hair, Divine was quite a sight as the plus-sized villainous vixen in John Waters’ Pink Flamingos (1972). She went on to other brazen hilarity in Waters films like Female Trouble, returning for a sympathetic turn in the much more socially conscious classic Hairspray, while also venturing into tribal dance music and other unexpected turns. Divvy (born Harris Glenn Milstead in Baltimore, of course) was about to play a male role on Married With Children when he died, barely able to absorb the new praise from Hairspray.

Truman Capote (1924-84)

The New Orleans-born author had range, veering from the classic social-climbing novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s to the chilling non-fiction novel In Cold Blood. He also had an inimitable style, that of a prissy, elfin man with a squeaky voice that you couldn’t make up if you tried. Unselfconsciously appearing on various talk shows, he became a wildly popular cultural figure and an inspiration to gays hoping to make it without watering down their identities.

Similarly, Rex Reed is a breezy writer who camped it up on TV’s The Gong Show and as Myron in the 1970 movie of Gore Vidal’s trans book Myra Breckinridge. Oh, and Vidal ranks high on this list, too, along with Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, and Tennessee Williams, though none of these writers is as gay as little old me!

Liberace (1919-87)

Liberace didn’t say he was gay—even when his ex-boyfriend Scott Thorson sued him for palimony—and in fact, he sued a magazine that dared to assert that he was one of us, and he won! What’s more, when Liberace came down with HIV, he claimed he’d simply lost weight as the result of a watermelon diet. But still, this was the gayest man ever in show biz—maybe ever on earth—glittering from head to toe (including his megawatt smile), as he tinkled classical ditties on the ivories for an adoring audience of clueless women.

A mama’s boy, Wladziu Valentino Liberace was also a big queer who, when I interviewed him in 1985, told me a raunchy joke about a “transvestite” with a big dick, a tidbit I felt he offered as a subtle nod to our shared sexuality. Even when he was sick, “Lee” kept performing in an elaborate fashion, luxuriating in jewels, showmanship, and a sheer love of the spotlight.

Allan Carr (1937-99)

Swanning around in colorful caftans, Carr (pictured above on the left) became the ostentatious producer of hits like Grease, though his flops (Can’t Stop the Music, Grease 2, Where the Boys Are ’84) may have been even more fascinating. Surrounding himself with hot young gay men at Hollywood pool parties, Carr was as larger-than-life as his brand, though his job helming the 1989 Oscars—the one with Rob Lowe and Snow White woefully duetting on “Proud Mary”—became legendary for all the wrong reasons. Carr may not have been that proud a Mary himself, but the fact remains that he was gayer than all of Tinseltown combined.

Billy Porter (1969-)

A fine singer-actor, Billy has long been out, proud, and vocal. He won the Tony for Kinky Boots, and when I asked him at the time what it was going to be like to play the character Harvey Fierstein intended as straight, Billy gave me an earful he had no intention of playing Lola straight, thank you. Add his wild success on Pose and his gender nonconforming outfit that stole the Oscars, and Billy is the man of our gay dreams.

Also: Nathan Lane and Christopher Seiber.

Alan Sues (1926-2011)

On the topical sketch comedy show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Alan Sues was a riot, playing out-there characters like an effeminate sportscaster named Big Al who obsessively rang his little bell, and also a dude who swaggers into a Wild West bar, all bowlegged and manly, only to campily order a frozen daiquiri. Sues was as gay as Ikea on Super Bowl Sunday, though he hid in an opposite-sex marriage for a while, and never came out on the record. But beneath his wonderful mannerisms, Sues was not only gay, he had a gay soul. In fact, he reportedly started feeling that the material he was given to do on the show was homophobic. If he had been born later, he would no doubt have been way more of an activist.

Also: Mario Cantone, Wayland Flowers, and Edward Everett Horton.

Leslie Jordan (1955-)

The Chattanooga-born comic pixie is a longtime scene-stealer—from Will & Grace to American Horror Story: Coven—and he’s always been marvelously mouthy as himself, as well. Whenever I chat with Leslie, I know I’ll laugh myself into the prostrate position, thanks to his racily hilarious revelations. And how many Emmy winners can say they used to host the Hookie Awards for male escorts?

Runners up: Ramon Novarro, William Haines, Van Johnson, Michael Greer, Roddy McDowall, Anthony Perkins, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, Jonathan Frid, Jonathan Harris, Rupert Everett, John Gielgud, Quentin Crisp, Sir Ian McKellen, and Neil Patrick Harris.

Andy Cohen (1968-)

Duh. Need I really explain?

A Thong to Remember

Some future icons parade their business around in the Brolesque revue on Sundays at the Bedlam club on Avenue C in New York. I just caught some of the show, which had studly guys like Richard, Puck, and Bobby working the room, from the top of the bar to the moose head on the wall and then some. Some of the sight lines were less than ideal, but the guys—who all started out in sailor’s hats for Fleet Week—sailed smoothly into writhing semi-nudity, as Alan Cumming, his husband Grant Shaffer, and I genteelly applauded. The DWorld Underwear Party that followed was no doubt utterly delightful.

Speaking of male disrobers, the Magic Mike musical has canceled its Boston premiere run, but I hear that the Michael Jackson jukebox show, Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough–which seemed to pause in its tracks while the HBO doc spun its dramas—is coming in anyway. Sort of like a pedophile.


Solving the Mysteries of Santa Cruz

The South Pacific campaign for Guadalcanal was reaching its climax in late October 1942, and U.S. Marines were hanging on to the island by their fingernails. Desperate to recapture Guadalcanal and its airbase, Henderson Field, the Japanese army was mounting a land offensive, and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) came out in support. Some of the hardest-fought naval air battles of World War II figured in the six-month Guadalcanal campaign, including possibly the toughest, the 26 October Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.

The IJN put its first team into the balance, sending large task forces to the east of the Solomon Islands. Aggressive Admiral William F. Halsey, who had just assumed command of the South Pacific theater (SOPAC), opposed them with his own flattops in two groups built around the USS Enterprise (CV-6) and Hornet (CV-8). Using the incomparable advantage of Ultra—information gleaned from decrypts of enciphered Japanese radio transmissions—Halsey was able to concentrate on the enemy’s flank. At the time, only the Hornet was actually in SOPAC after having had damage from the Battle of the Eastern Solomons repaired, the Enterprise was hustling forward from Pearl Harbor. The American carrier task forces rendezvoused just in time.

Under the tactical command of Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, the principal participating SOPAC units—Task Forces 16 and 17—included the pair of flattops the battleship South Dakota (BB-57) half-a-dozen cruisers, with several of the new specialized antiaircraft light cruisers and 14 destroyers. Another force, built around the battleship Washington (BB-56), figured in the foes’ calculations, though it would not participate directly in the battle. Employing their own array of formations, the Japanese navy’s participating forces comprised 3 big carriers, 1 light carrier, 4 battleships, 8 heavy and 2 light cruisers, and 21 destroyers.

The course of the subsequent bitterly fought battle can be very briefly summarized. During the night before the main action, U.S. PBY Catalina search planes sighted some of the key Japanese fleet units and loosed glancing blows. The enemy took precautions and turned away while Admiral Kinkaid aggressively sought to close with him. From his headquarters at Nouméa, New Caledonia, SOPAC commander Halsey famously signaled, “ATTACK. REPEAT. ATTACK.”

The morning air searches by the Enterprise on 26 October found the main Japanese carrier force—Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo’s Kido Butai, or Striking Force—and scout bombers made immediate attacks that put the light carrier Zuiho out of action. Japanese scouts had almost simultaneously found Kinkaid’s ships, and the sides exchanged air strikes. Passing near each other, some of the strike formations’ planes mixed it up. American aircraft went on to sideline a second enemy carrier and to damage a heavy cruiser. The Japanese meanwhile damaged the Enterprise and crippled the Hornet.

The “Big E” managed to restore her flight deck sufficiently to resume air activities and maintained combat air patrols through the day as a succession of Japanese strike waves hit, inflicting more damage on the Hornet. Brave sailors fought the Hornet’s fires and kept her afloat, but late in the day the crew of the grievously wounded carrier was ordered to abandon ship. Admiral Kinkaid already had withdrawn from the battle area. That night Japanese torpedoes sank the Hornet, a task that “fish” and shellfire from U.S. destroyers had been unable to do before the “tin cans” were forced to retreat.

Japanese attacks also had damaged the South Dakota, the heavy cruiser Portland (CA-33), the antiaircraft cruiser San Juan (CL-54), and the destroyers Mahan (DD-364) and Smith (DD-378). What was likely an errant U.S. torpedo sank the Porter (DD-356). American strikes had hit the carriers Shokaku (Nagumo’s flagship) and Zuiho and the heavy cruiser Chikuma. By percentage, plane losses on each side were nearly equal. But in number, the IJN lost 99 aircraft against 80 American planes, and Japanese aircrew losses were substantially greater.

Many more-in-depth narrative histories of the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands have been written. Nevertheless, certain elements of the action continue to be poorly understood or remain virtually unknown. So rather than repeat the efforts of previous historians, what follows is an exploration of some the battle’s enduring mysteries.

Locating the Japanese Fleet

While Ultra’s code-breakers furnished crucial insights into the Japanese navy’s intentions and maneuvers, Allied intelligence was not omniscient. Pacific Fleet Commander-in-Chief Admiral Chester W. Nimitz at Pearl Harbor and Admiral Halsey at Nouméa based their plans on weekly intelligence estimates of Japanese fleet dispositions that were compiled by the F-16 Section of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) in Washington. During the weeks before the Santa Cruz battle the estimates were consistently inaccurate, leading commanders to believe IJN forces to be weaker than they were.

Based on Ultra, Nimitz warned of a Japanese naval offensive as early as 17 October. But U.S. radio direction-finding and traffic analysis placed only two Japanese aircraft carriers in the battle area, and the ONI estimates located three of the five enemy flattops in home waters when all of them were at sea. Four Japanese flight decks would be at Santa Cruz compared with two American. The disparity would have been even worse save that the Japanese carrier Hiyo, crippled by mechanical failure, was sent away for repairs. The day after the battle, ONI still estimated that an enemy carrier division that had fought at Santa Cruz was in Japan.

The intel record with respect to other warships was equally poor. That was partly because of assessments that both of the Aoba-class heavy cruisers had already been sunk and partly because Rear Admiral Norman Scott, who won a surface victory off Guadalcanal at the 11–12 October Battle of Cape Esperance, had overestimated enemy losses in that fight. He initially claimed three Japanese cruisers and four destroyers had sunk, but the IJN had actually lost only one heavy cruiser and one destroyer. The exaggerated losses were then scored to units other than Japan’s Cruiser Division 6, which had the Aoba-class ships and had been the main opponent at Cape Esperance. This had the effect of minimizing Japanese heavy-cruiser strength. When the cruisers Myoko and Maya bombarded Guadalcanal on 15 October, U.S. intelligence believed the former was in Yokosuka and the latter at Palau.

As for battleships, the 20 October ONI estimate carried as “possibly damaged” one of Admiral Takeo Kurita’s vessels that had smashed Henderson Field on 13 October, placed the Yamato and Mutsu as possibly at Rabaul, and credited the enemy fleet in the Solomons as, again, “possibly” including the Ise, which was in Japan. At Santa Cruz, the Japanese surface fleet chased Kinkaid’s task force as the Americans retired from the scene. If the pursuit had resulted in a gunnery engagement, the mistaken appreciations would have come home to roost.

Who Owned Henderson Field?

The Imperial Japanese Navy’s offensive was to be triggered by notice that the Japanese army had captured Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. The army demanded repeated postponements of a schedule that had called for the event to occur on 22 October. Had that schedule been kept, not only would the Japanese fleet have had more plentiful fuel stocks but the U.S. Navy would have swung into action before the Enterprise had joined up with the Hornet. For Halsey, who believed that carriers together were worth double what they were individually, that made a big difference. Japan’s army faced huge obstacles on Guadalcanal, but the degree of its cooperation is open to challenge.

That is true for the army’s information as well. In August, during the sequence of actions that led to the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the army had falsely reported success to the IJN. Wanting surety this time, the navy set up an observation post on Guadalcanal to supply direct reports to the Combined Fleet flagship, the superbattleship Yamato at Truk.

On the night of 24–25 October the Japanese army duly reported it had taken Henderson Field. Naval observers indicated that fighting raged in the airfield’s vicinity. In the morning, Japanese naval aircraft flew down to Guadalcanal to verify Henderson’s status. One plane even tried to land. The scouts found the field safely in American hands. That night the army again attacked, and it again failed to capture the key American airbase. This time even the army’s chain of command confirmed that its ground attacks had failed. The navy nevertheless chose to proceed.

The IJN had been repeatedly frustrated by the army’s inaccurate reporting and warned more than once that diminishing fuel supplies would oblige it to withdraw from Solomons waters. Why it proceeded with its offensive is an enduring mystery. Only conjecture is possible. Japanese naval officers, from Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on down, were chagrined at the Allies’ ability to prevent the IJN from effectively supplying Japanese forces on Guadalcanal. Faced with desperate conditions at the front—Japanese on Guadalcanal nicknamed the place “Starvation Island”—Yamamoto determined to persist despite every obstacle.

Japanese Timing

Imperial Japanese Navy veterans, from Kido Butai Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka to destroyer skipper Tameichi Hara, noted in postwar writings that principal commanders were influenced by several elements, including very limited information on the presence of American aircraft carriers, staff officers’ observations that 27 October was Navy Day in the United States, and reports in the American press of an impending major battle in the South Pacific.

Kido Butai commander Admiral Nagumo behaved cautiously precisely because of the thin intelligence. The other two factors have long been obscure, but there is evidence supporting both points. Since 1922, when the Navy League of the United States organized the first observance, 27 October has been celebrated as Navy Day in America. The date was the birthday of President Theodore Roosevelt, father of the Great White Fleet and a staunch American navalist. The event acquired some significance among IJN commanders because calendar dates were of special importance to the Japanese, who indulged themselves in a sense of fateful consequence.

Meanwhile, the idea of an impending major battle in the South Pacific was current in the United States. The Associated Press reported on 16 October that the battle for Guadalcanal was shaping up to be “one of the decisive engagements of the war.” The next day the Chicago Tribune headlined, “COURSE OF WAR AT STAKE!” The story quoted Secretary of the Navy Frank J. Knox claiming in the Nelsonian tradition, “I don’t want to make any predictions, but every man out there, afloat and ashore, will give a good account of himself.” Reporting on Guadalcanal a few days later, the Associated Press explicitly forecast an imminent surface naval battle off Guadalcanal.

On 19 October, the United Press, another major news wire service, alluded to the same idea of a surface action but added carrier fighting for good measure, reporting that experts expected “the outcome . . . would hinge on the naval struggle” and the United States would combine the kinds of tactics used at the Battle of the Java Sea with those of “Coral Sea–Midway.” Similarly, military correspondent Hanson W. Baldwin commented in a 23 October New York Times article that “we cannot fight a protracted delaying action in the Pacific we must, it is felt, hit Japan continuously and without respite.”

Such press reporting was grist for the mill of shortwave news that was broadcast to the Pacific from San Francisco, and listening in was routine for friend and foe across the South Pacific. On Guadalcanal, Marine commander Major General Alexander A. Vandegrift listened to the broadcasts every night before bed, and they were also staples on board the flagships of the Combined Fleet, the Kido Butai, and Rear Admiral Kakuji Kakuta’s Carrier Division 2.

Rear Admiral Kusaka of Nagumo’s staff used the Navy Day date and the sense of impending battle in a dispatch to the Combined Fleet, suggesting that Admiral Yamamoto order the Japanese advance for 27 October. Instead, holding to his Henderson Field–hinged timetable, Yamamoto insisted on immediate action. And by the 27th, the battle for Santa Cruz was over.

What Happened to the American Air Strikes?

At Santa Cruz, scout bombers in the U.S. Navy’s dawn search succeeded in damaging the Japanese light carrier Zuiho. Later, Hornet dive bombers busted up the flight deck of the fleet carrier Shokaku. After those surprise bombings, throughout a long day’s battle, no Japanese flattop was again attacked. Yet the Hornet got off two strike waves (totaling 24 SBD Dauntless dive bombers and 13 TBF Avenger torpedo planes) before she was damaged, and the Enterprise hurled a strike wave of her own (with three SBDs and nine TBFs), necessarily small because she had used many planes in the air search. Thus the main enemy force was barely engaged by the major U.S. strike missions.

The “battle of the air groups” that took place as the adversaries’ strike groups flew past each other on reciprocal courses does not account for this phenomenon. During the clash, Japanese fighters reduced the Big E’s torpedo planes by about half, but none of the American formations turned back, and except for escort fighters, attack strength was not further affected. One of the Hornet squadrons, possibly disoriented in the melee, shifted its vector, but that too was not determinate.

The long range at which the battle took place and the disposition of the Japanese fleet were the main reasons the U.S. attacks miscarried. Historians have almost uniformly castigated IJN operational doctrine for its practice of dividing forces into numerous fleet units—Striking Force, Vanguard Force, Advance Force, Main Body, and so on—in effect, diluting available strength. But at Santa Cruz the tactic worked to Japanese advantage.

The Vanguard Force, sailing dozens of miles ahead of Nagumo’s flattops, was the first enemy the American planes encountered. Some U.S. aircraft immediately attacked others pressed on to the limit of their range in hopes of finding the Kido Butai and then returned to strike the Vanguard. This was where the cruiser Chikuma suffered her damage. Because Kinkaid’s carriers lost their flight decks early in the day, and the Enterprise, once she restored service, was preoccupied with maintaining combat air patrols, there were no follow-up air strikes.

The Japanese Aviation Code

Embarked on board the Enterprise was a so-called “mobile radio detachment,” a unit of the signals-intelligence fraternity. It furnished Admiral Kinkaid with decrypts that circulated on the communications-intelligence network as well as tactical information from its own radio monitoring. The detachment in the Big E was led by a Marine, Captain Bankston T. Holcomb. His unit was instrumental in the survival of the Enterprise, for Holcomb provided Kinkaid with his earliest warnings of some of the incoming Japanese air strikes, helping the carrier to position combat air patrols even before the enemy was acquired on radar. According to a postwar history of the mobile radio detachments, in the midst of the battle Holcomb had gained extraordinary access to Japanese aircraft message traffic because he was handed a copy of the IJN aviation code, salvaged from one of the attacking enemy aircraft that had crashed.

This account now appears to be more complicated than it originally did. The Japanese air group and squadron commanders—the pilots most likely to have possessed copies of the aviation code—either did not crash aboard the Enterprise, or their aircraft were completely consumed while doing so. In addition, it is known that documentary material was recovered from a different Japanese aircraft, a plane that crashed aboard the destroyer Smith.

Aviation Machinist’s Mate Third Class Thomas Powell, a gunner with “Torpedo 10” on board the Enterprise, recalled a provenance for the codebook, which was related to him by Admiral Kinkaid himself. In port some weeks after the battle, Kinkaid told Powell and some other sailors that the codebook had indeed been captured on the Smith. The Big E’s after-action report does not mention the destroyer or indicate the Enterprise came to a stop during the battle to receive materials from another vessel. If true, this suggests that the Japanese aviation codebook could only have changed hands after Santa Cruz. Captain Holcomb’s assistance to Kinkaid in the heat of battle derived from more conventional radio-monitoring techniques.

What About the Enterprise?

Many arguments about the outcome at Santa Cruz hinge on the notion the sides’ postbattle carrier forces were somehow equal. Once the Japanese sent the Zuikaku home to train a new air group, equality in literal terms did exist. But the status of the Enterprise, the flattop on the American side of this equation, is poorly understood. The combination of bomb hits and near misses that the carrier sustained at Santa Cruz did more than jam one elevator in place on her flight deck, thereby slowing flight operations. Captain Osborn B. Hardison, the ship’s skipper, soon learned that damage was more serious than thought.

Two near misses had sprung rivets or deflected plates—in places as much as 2½ feet inward—opening fuel tanks to the sea along almost 100 feet of hull. In one area, all the frames, floors, and bulkheads had buckled. Leaks threatened. The Enterprise’s stem was laced with fragment holes, a few up to a foot wide, and she was taking water, down four feet by the bow. On the hangar deck, the floor of a 50-foot section near the No. 1 elevator was heavily damaged, the decks below blown out. Crewmen in one compartment were actually trapped by flooded spaces above them. Two bomb hoists were questionable. The bridge gyroscope had failed. Several radios and a direction-finding loop were out.

Some repairs could only be made in port. Although the Big E could launch and recover aircraft, she was not truly combat-ready and in a renewed engagement would have been gravely disadvantaged. Battle speeds and even stormy seas might have threatened her seaworthiness. Captain Hardison’s damage-control parties—plus every spare hand—bent superhuman efforts to enable the ship to make speed despite her damage.

For 11 days after the carrier arrived at Nouméa she was completely incapacitated, as Admiral Halsey added every engineer and repairman to those already working over the ship. Hull breaches were repaired, but the aircraft elevator jam awaited drydocking in the United States. When the Enterprise went to sea again, Pearl Harbor privately estimated that the carrier was operating at 70 percent of her combat efficiency. Meanwhile, the IJN decision to return the Zuikaku to Japanese Empire waters was entirely voluntary, based on a plan to regenerate for another Guadalcanal offensive timed for January 1943. She just as easily could have been retained in the South Pacific.

Who Won?

American observers take a variety of positions on the outcome at Santa Cruz. Marine General Vandegrift termed the battle a “standoff.” Theater commander Admiral “Bull” Halsey wrote that “tactically, we picked up the dirty end of the stick but strategically we handed it back.” Similarly, official Navy historian Samuel Eliot Morison rated the battle a Japanese tactical victory that gained precious time for the Allies. And aviation historian John Lundstrom, author of the most detailed examination of the aerial exchanges, wrote of a “supposed” Japanese decisive victory and followed this with an analysis that, while not actually saying so, framed the outcome as Japanese defeat. Robert Sherrod, chronicler of Marine aviation in the war, said Santa Cruz was a case in which “the box score is deceptive.”

Guadalcanal campaign expert Richard Frank made no direct assessment but approvingly quoted Admiral Nimitz’s opinion, penned some weeks after the battle, which declares that the Japanese were turned back and their carrier air groups shattered on the eve of critical battles. Commander Edward P. Stafford, author of the authoritative history of the Enterprise, termed the battle “a bloody draw . . . which had been a U.S. victory only because it had momentarily thwarted a Japanese attempt at recapture.”

Popular authors parse their meanings too. Naval historian E. B. Potter concluded that the Americans “had got the worst of the battle” but had the solace of inflicting very heavy aviation losses. Edwin P. Hoyt called Santa Cruz “an American loss, but not one that made it impossible . . . to hold on to Guadalcanal,” while Eric Hammel termed the battle “technically a Japanese victory.” Carrier warfare authorities James and William Belote scored it a Japanese win, “a victory won at nearly intolerable cost.” And Kenneth I. Friedman pictured a tactical defeat that “forestalled a total and catastrophic debacle.”


Gallery


Porter III DD-356 - History

Operating from San Diego as flagship of Destroyer Squadron 5 (see table), she and her squadron participated in training exercises and large-scale fleet problems until the outbreak of World War II.

On 5 December 1941, Porter with DesDiv 9 of her squadron (Drayton, Flusser, Lamson and Mahan) departed Pearl Harbor with Lexington&rsquos Task Force 12 (also including heavy cruisers Chicago, Portland and Astoria) to deliver Marine scout bombers to Midway Island and were at sea when the Japanese attacked on 7 December, returning to Pearl Harbor 13 December after searching to &ldquointercept and destroy&rdquo the enemy.

Porter remained in Hawaiian waters until March 1942, when she began four months&rsquo operations off the west coast. Returning to Pearl Harbor in August, she sortied on 16 October for the Solomons with Enterprise&rsquos Task Force 16&mdashbattleship South Dakota, heavy cruiser Portland, anti-aircraft cruiser San Juan and destroyers Mahan, Conyngham, Shaw, Cushing, Smith, Preston and Maury. Ten days later, following the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Porter was hit by the torpedo carried by the Avenger torpedo plane whose crew she stopped to rescue. After the crew had abandoned ship, was sunk by gunfire from Shaw.


New NRA leader James Porter has history of controversial rhetoric

HOUSTON The incoming leader of the National Rifle Association has a long history with the powerful gun rights lobby and a penchant for bold statements that are sure to enflame an already explosive national debate over gun control.

James Porter, an Alabama attorney and first vice president of the NRA, assumes the presidency on Monday after the group's national convention wraps up in Houston. He didn't wait until then to ignite a new furor over gun control, telling the NRA grass-roots organizers on Friday they are the front line of a "culture war" that goes beyond gun rights.

"(You) here in this room are the fighters for freedom. We are the protectors," Porter said.

Porter, 64, whose father was NRA president from 1959-1961, is part of the small, Birmingham, Ala., law firm of Porter, Porter & Hassinger. The firm's website notes its expertise in defending gun manufacturers in lawsuits.

Porter takes over the organization as the NRA finds itself in a national fight over gun control in Washington, D.C., and state capitols around the country. The NRA had a major victory regarding gun control with the defeat in the U.S. Senate of a bill that would have expanded background checks for gun sales. But it lost ground in some places as several states passed laws expanding background checks and banning large ammunition magazines after December's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

Glen Caroline, director of the NRA's grass-roots division, noted the coming fight over gun control in the 2014 elections. "Our senators are on record. They cannot hide from those votes," Caroline said.

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As shown by his "culture war" comment Friday and others in his past, Porter's style is likely to be one that fans the flames of an emotionally combustible debate.

Porter has called President Barack Obama a "fake president," Attorney General Eric Holder "rabidly un-American" and the U.S. Civil War the "War of Northern Aggression." On Friday, he repeated his call for training every U.S. citizen in the use of standard military firearms, to allow them to defend themselves against tyranny.

Gun control advocates say Porter makes outgoing NRA President David Keene look like a moderate on gun issues, even though Keene had said the NRA would try to punish lawmakers who voted in favor of expanded background checks and other gun control measures.

Keene had worked to offer a softer, if equally staunch voice for the gun lobby's ideas when compared with Wayne LaPierre, the fiery executive vice president who remains the NRA's most prominent voice on the public stage.

Porter as president, "pulls (the NRA) more into the extremist camp," said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "With Jim Porter, they've gone full crazy."

But Porter was greeted with rousing applause at the grass-roots organizing meeting, and several in attendance called out, "Hey Big Jim!," as he walked through the crowd.

NRA officials did not respond to a request for comment about Porter taking over the organization. In an interview this week with the Washington Times, Keene called Porter "the perfect match for president" and noted his legal expertise.

Porter has served as a head of the NRA's legal affairs committee. His legal experience will be counted on to help the organization challenge some of the gun control laws passed in several states around the country in court, Keene told the Washington Times.

First published on May 4, 2013 / 1:11 PM

© 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


USS Porter (DD-356)

Entrato in servizio nell'agosto 1936, dopo l'entrata in guerra degli Stati Uniti d'America nel dicembre 1941 la nave operò nel teatro bellico dell'oceano Pacifico contro i giapponesi il Porter fu affondato il 26 ottobre 1942 durante la battaglia delle isole Santa Cruz dopo essere stato silurato.

Impostata nei cantieri navali della New York Shipbuilding Corporation di New York il 18 dicembre 1933, la nave venne varata il 12 dicembre 1935 con il nome di USS Porter in onore di due figure storiche della United States Navy, il commodoro David Porter (ufficiale durante la guerra anglo-americana) e l'ammiraglio David Dixon Porter (figlio del precedente, ufficiale unionista durante la guerra di secessione americana). La nave entrò poi in servizio il 25 agosto 1936 [1] [2] .

Dopo manovre d'addestramento condotte nelle acque dell'oceano Atlantico, nel maggio 1937 il Porter si recò in visita a Saint John's a in Canada nell'ambito delle manifestazioni per l'incoronazione di re Giorgio VI e della regina Elisabetta. Riassegnato alla United States Pacific Fleet, si trasferì a San Francisco via canale di Panama il 5 agosto 1937 nei mesi seguenti condusse missioni di addestramento nelle acque dell'oceano Pacifico, facendo base principalmente a San Diego [1] .

Il 7 dicembre 1941, giorno dell'attacco di Pearl Harbor e dell'entrata degli Stati Uniti nella seconda guerra mondiale, il Porter si trovava in navigazione al largo delle Hawaii, essendo salpato da Pearl Harbor giusto due giorni prima dell'attacco giapponese nei giorni seguenti pattugliò le acque hawaiane in formazione con altri incrociatori e cacciatorpediniere, prima di scortare un convoglio diretto verso la costa occidentale degli Stati Uniti il 25 marzo 1942. Continuò in seguito a operare lungo la costa ovest, pattugliando le acque di casa e scortando convogli [1] .

Rientrato a Pearl Harbor alla metà di agosto 1942, il Porter condusse missioni di addestramento nella zona delle Hawaii fino al 16 ottobre seguente, quando fu inserito nella Task Force 16 del viceammiraglio Thomas Kinkaid come unità di scorta per la portaerei USS Enterprise diretta verso le isole Salomone per prendere parte alla campagna di Guadalcanal contro i giapponesi. Il 26 ottobre il Porter fu quindi impegnato in azione nel corso della battaglia delle isole Santa Cruz, fornendo fuoco antiaereo contro i ripetuti attacchi dei velivoli decollati dalle portaerei nipponiche. Intorno alle 10:00 il cacciatorpediniere fu colpito in pieno da un siluro: non è chiaro se l'ordigno sia stato lanciato da un sommergibile giapponese [1] (forse lo I-21 [3] ) o se al contrario sia partito per errore da un aerosilurante statunitense Grumman TBF Avenger della Enterprise, ammarato a fianco della nave dopo aver terminato il carburante [4] . Ad ogni modo, il siluro causò gravissimi danni oltre a 15 morti tra l'equipaggio il salvataggio dell'unità si rivelò impossibile e, dopo aver evacuato l'equipaggio, il cacciatorpediniere USS Shaw lo finì con il fuoco dei suoi cannoni [1] [2] .


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Page Needs [ edit | edit source ]

1. A number of record citations have been recovered from emails of the late Jerry Penley, a well known Wigton Walker researcher. In some cases the exact citation or date is missing. In other cases, the record is a paraphrase of the original record. Additional information is needed about these records.

2. Additional cleanup is needed for some records, especially those dealing with land records in Orange Co. Most records listed seem to refer to John III rather than to John IV. Also, many of these records deal with Samuel probable brother of John III, who remained in Caswell County when John III and John IV left. These records might usefully be transferred to a page for Samuel Walker.


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