From CV-38 Day by Day entry:
Jul. 24 - The Corsairs made sweeps of airfields and the Avengers and Helldivers struck at shipping in Kure. Damaged many ships with heavy A.A. opposition.1
Positions: 0800-Lat. 31-22.8N, Long. 134-43.9E; 1200-Lat. 31-24.5N, Long. 135-12.1E; 2000-Lat. 31-22.3N, Long. 135-25.8E.1
After several days of steaming toward replenishment rendezvous, refueling and re-arming, TASK GROUP 38.4 conducted operations against airfields and naval combatant ships at Kure. Although weathered out at Miho, AIR GROUP 85 attacked in the Wakayama, Himeji, Miki and Yonago areas. Destroyed 7 unidentified planes and 2 Topsys; damaged 24 planes on the ground.2
At Kure 3 small freighters and 21 luggers were sunk. Damage was inflicted on 6 warships, including the battleship HARUNA, and 9 smaller craft. 7 locomotives were destroyed.2
Five planes, two pilots and two aircrewmen were lost by the SHANGRI-LA.2
One FG-1D, which was damaged by mid-air collision over the target, crash landed on deck and was jettisoned.2 [The collision was with an aircraft from YORKTOWN. YORKTOWN's plane spun in from 14,000 feet.(7, page 70)]
One SB2C was damaged by barriers on landing and was jettisoned on July 27.2
One SB2C was damaged by flak over Kure and ditched. Pilot was recovered.2
One SB2C was missing from action over Kure and another was shot down by flak. Pilots: LT Alfred G. SYMONDS, Jr. missing in action. LTJG Richard W. MANN, missing in action. Aircrewmen: ARM1c Edward HICKS, missing in action. ARM2c Robert F. HANNA, missing in action.2
Sorties: SWEEP 40, STRIKE 75, GRAPHIC 8, SUBCAP 16, DCAP 16, RAPCAP 16, WEATHER RECCO 6, DUMBOCAP 6, TOTAL 183.2
Our aircraft departed at dawn to strike at the Kure Naval Base on the Inland Sea. The targets were battleships, carriers, cruisers and various other craft. While over the target, our planes encountered very heavy AA from the ships, which resulted in the loss of one plane over the target, and another made a water landing on the return leg of the mission. The pilot was later picked up. Damage inflicted is not available at this time.3
SB2C no. 82, Buno. 20853, engine no. 88192, prop no. 113189, pilot LTJG Richard Walter MANN, failed to return. Aircrewman: ARM2 Robert F. HANNA. Plane was shot down by antiaircraft fire.9
1528hrs. Commenced launching aircraft for DUMK mission.9
1531hrs. Completed launching 8 F4Us 9
1542hrs. Landed one British F4U.9
1803hrs. Launched British plane.9
1835hrs. F4U no. 32 crashed on deck while landing.9
1843hrs. Plane no. 32 was jettisoned.9
1911hrs. SB2C no. 84 crashed on deck while landing. Pilot and aircrewman uninjured.9
1946hrs. One USS MONTEREY TBM crashed into island and barriers while landing.9
1954hrs. Completed recovering aircraft. The following aircraft failed to return: SB2C no.74, Buno. 20691, piloted by LT Alfred Guernsey SYMONDS, Jr.; Aircrewman ARM1 Edward HICKS.9
VF-85: The force was now south of Kure. While VB, VT and VBF hit that naval base, the Captain led a fighter sweep on Miho and Yonago Fields, flying across Shikoku and Honshu only to find the target closed in by a low overcast. In the search for targets on the way back, BLOOMFIELD's division strafed and destroyed four Jap locomotives in the vicinity of Okayama. The rest of the flight attacked a roundhouse with bombs and rockets, causing severe damage. Later, two luggers were sighted and sunk.
The afternoon sweep was led by Ted HUBERT against Himeji and Miki fields. Approximately 19 planes were destroyed or damaged on the ground and hangars were burned.
On the retirement, DEVEREAUX and MIFFLIN burned a factory. The flight also strafed a "Sugar Baker" and MIFFLIN, Sid, HUBER, Grau and DEVEREAUX sank two "Sugar Dogs".
CAPs, RAPCAPs and SUBCAPs were flown as scheduled and the night fighters again flew weather patrols.
In late afternoon, a flight of eight planes led by BLOOMFIELD, took off to act as a Dumbo rescue of a YORKTOWN pilot who was down in the Inland Sea near Osaka. The pilot was rescued and the flight retired; one Oscar made the mistake of flying near the PBM and was splashed by BLOOMFIELD's division.
VB-85: After several days of much needed rest while the ship refueled at sea, the Squadron was airborne again in the morning for the first of a series of very successful but costly strikes on the remnants of the Japanese Navy at Kure Harbor. LCDR MALTBY led the bombers over the Shikoku, located the naval base and harbor, spotted the heavy cruiser TONE and proceeded with the attack. Direct hits were scored by LT GIBSON, LTJG MANN and ENS EVEN and, in addition, five 1,000 pound bombs were dropped close aboard. Anti-aircraft fire, including vari-colored bursts and phosphorous shells, observed for the first time by the aviators of the Squadron, was moderate to intense. LTJG MANN's plane was hit while in the dive and he made what appeared to be a hard water landing. As no survivors were observed, he and his aircrewman, ARM2 Robert F. HANNA, USNR, were reported as Missing in Action. However, following the cessation of hostilities, a report was received that both pilot and crewman were prisoners of war of the Japanese. Amid hearty greeting, they returned to the SHANGRI-LA on September 2 in order to return home with the Squadron.
On the afternoon strike, the course again lay over Shikoku and all went well until reaching the Inland Sea area, where a heavy cloud cover and haze caused the strike group to break up. One circle was made over Kure and, with lanes strung out in what could hardly be called a formation, the attack was begun. Four planes attacked the light cruiser OYODO resulting in direct hits by LT A. G. SYMONDS, Jr., USNR, and LT THOMAS and two very near misses. Five planes dived on the battleship HARUNA with LT HEMBY scoring a direct hit and three others dropping close aboard.
LT GIBSON, following his attack on the HARUNA, found himself running the gauntlet of Kure Harbor with all guns firing at him, but came through unscathed. His aircrewman, ARM2 Charles H. LINSZ, during this time, was snapping pictures with an F-8 camera resulting in photographs of the battleships HARUNA, HYUGA and ISE, that of the latter being one of the first good close-ups ever made of the flight deck of this CV-BB ship.
LTJG JONES flew the same course on retirement but was not so fortunate. When about in the center of Kure Harbor the lower port side of his cockpit was struck by an explosive shell, probably 40mm, which injured the pilot, demolished his instrument panel, destroyed the generator control box and cut the hydraulic line so that fluid sprayed in his face. Before LTJG JONES' ceased to operate because of electrical failure, LT HEMBY gave him instructions for joining up and proceeded to lead him over the mountains of Shikoku. Being unable to locate the rescue submarine, which probably had submerged as all other planes had returned from the strikes, he was directed to ditch at the Tomcat, which he did without further injury to himself or his aircrewman, ARM2 Paul R. ISENBERG.
After seeing LTJG JONES and his crewman safe in their raft with a destroyer nearby, LT HEMBY, LT W. GAUVEY, Jr., USNR, and ENS C. L. TRUMP, USNR, flying with him, returned to the ship but by this time they were extremely low on fuel and night had fallen. ENS TRUMP landed aboard YORKTOWN, it being the first carrier he found in the darkness and LT GAUVEY came aboard the SHANGRI-LA. As LT HEMBY was coming up the groove and almost at the ramp when his engine cut out, and to observers on the flight deck and island the plane disappeared below the flight deck. Word was passed that a plane had gone in the water when he was discovered flying up the starboard side of the ship below the level of the hangar deck. He had shifted from a dry tank to an "empty" one and with the mixture control in automatic lean came aboard on the next approach.
Including several other planes, which returned to the ship earlier, all aircraft on the afternoon flight were accounted for except LT SYMONDS. One pilot reported having seen him at the southeastern rendezvous area but also there were reports of a plane crashing in flames near the target. He and his aircrewman, ARM1 Edward HICKS, USNR, are listed as Missing in Action.
VT-85: This was first of a three-day series of strikes against remnants of the Japanese fleet in and around Kure. VT-85 again ran interference, carrying 260 lb. fragmentation bombs to drop on A/A positions (of which there were plenty) and so protect the dive bombers and torpedo planes from other ships in the group from the heavy fire they had to penetrate to reach their targets, which were major units of the Imperial Navy, the TONE, the HARUNA, the ISE, the HYUGA and the OYODO, together with the HOSHO and other CVLs.
LCDR E. V. WEDELL led the squadron, which was the base element of the group, whose leader was CDR W. A. SHERRILL of CVG-85.
The targets were partially obscured by clouds at 5000 feet and on this first visit the many islands of the Inland Sea presented a difficult problem in orientation. Word had been received from army sources, which by longitude and latitude indicated the HARUNA, the primary target, had moved to a new anchorage considerably east of where she had been. The attack was carefully planned with this in mind but upon arrival at Kure she was found to be off the east coast of Eta Shima, her original anchorage. This necessitated a last minute alteration of plans, but the attack was made from the north as had been contemplated and A/A targets for the torpedo planes were plentiful and were well covered. It was felt that the torpedo planes made a significant contribution to the success of the attack.
LTJG Francis Dean BOYERS sustained a 20mm hit in the starboard wing but succeeded in returning to base. The use of shells of variegated colors was observed by most for the first time on this flight. Their purpose was not determined - it was conjectured that they were used to permit each gun or a group of guns under the same control to distinguish that battery's bursts and facilitate correction of range or deflection.
In the afternoon, a second strike was sent in to get the battleships and cruisers at Kure. It was not too sharp.
A "circle happy" hop is the description given by a pilot. The leader of the striking group circled at the southern coast of Shikoku enroute to the target, circled the northern coast over known A/A positions, and circled the target before attacking. Rendezvous could be effected and planes returned in small groups as darkness was falling.
LT James W. SMITH who led the torpedo squadron returned with no radio and most of his instruments out, flying wing on whomever he could find.
LT Dwight K. BEAL earned the everlasting gratitude of a fighter pilot, who was in SMITH's flight, by leading him safely back to base.
The bright spot in the attack was LT Robert B. GIBLIN's resounding hits on the OYODO, which doubtless contributed to her capsizing the next day.