Diary of Events, 1944-45
|The ship departed Seeadler Harbor on October 12 to participate in the invasion of the Philippine Islands. One week later, the West Virginia steamed into San Pedro Bay and began a bombardment against targets on Leyte. After a few days, a large Japanese naval force began its approach toward Surigao Strait. On October 25 the West Virginia's radar picked up this force and fired sixteen salvoes from her 16-inch main battery, repeatedly striking the battleship Yamashiro. The Japanese force was crippled by the American attack and forced to withdraw in the last naval engagement fought by line-of-battle ships.|
|After a period in floating dry-dock, the ship returned to the Philippines on November 26. Serving as part of the anti-aircraft screen for transports and amphibious ships, the West Virginia shot down a kamikaze plane on the following day. On January 5, 1945, the battleship entered the South China Sea, and provided shore bombardment and protection for the American aircraft carriers. In addition to covering operations, the ship's powerful guns destroyed ammunition dumps, railway and road junctions, machine gun and mortar positions, entrenchments, gun emplacements, and warehouses. The shelling also leveled the town of San Fabian.|
|The West Virginia was then ordered to Iwo Jima, reaching the desolate island on February 19, and immediately provided fire support for the invasion. The battleship's 16-inch shells sealed caves, destroyed anti-aircraft gun positions and blockhouses and destroyed ammunition dumps. The ships provided support until departing on March 4.|
|The West Virginia reached Okinawa on March 25, 1945 and spent several days bombarding the island in preparation for the American amphibious assault. On the 27th, a Japanese kamikaze plane was shot down by the ship's anti-aircraft guns.|
|At 0630 on the morning of April 1, the ship opened fire on the island, while thousands of American troops stormed the beaches. The bombardment of Okinawa continued throughout the day.|
At 1903 hours, three enemy planes approached the ship. One crashed into the West Virginia, killing four and wounding seven sailors. Though the bomb carried by the plane broke loose from its shackle and penetrated to the second deck, it did not explode and was rendered harmless by the bomb disposal officer. The dead were buried at sea and the ship continued fire support duties within a short time. During the next few months, the West Virginia provided illumination and counterbattery fire in support of the Army and Marines at Okinawa, broke up Japanese troop concentrations and destroyed caves which served to shelter the enemy.
August 31, the West Virginia steamed into Tokyo Bay. Two
days later, the ship anchored a few miles from the USS
Missouri and was the only ship present for the Japanese
surrender that had been attacked at Pearl Harbor. The surrender
marked the end of World War II and the beginning of the end for the
mighty West Virginia.
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