TenderTale V
World War Two - desperate times - desperate measures

A Tender Finds itself ordered into the middle of combat...

From the TenderTale Webmaster-
A point that must be made: Auxillaries (which is what a Submarine Tender is) are by nature, armament, training, etc. not combatants. Their job is to provide forward support and supply for combatants (specifically Submarines in this case) which do take the "war" to the enemy. Auxillaries aren't supposed to wind up in battle areas - in harm's way - yet - when needed - inspite of knowing the risks - certain auxillaries have not only been "caught up in a battle" - but intentionally ordered in - as they were best available to do the job at hand. This is a story of such an instance - in probably the single most important Pacific battle in World War II.

This story is yet another TenderTale told in the "first person". We feel it very important that the story be told by the person themselves in their own words - so that you - the reader are exposed to not only the "facts" of the story - but the emotions of what it was like to be a Tender Sailor at the time and place this story happened. There is nothing fiction here - while the writer notes very strongly that some is from his memories - memories somewhat faded by the passage of time - every effort has been made to ensure that the essence of the story is as accurate to history as possible.

Mr. Meyer tells the Fulton's (and his) story through a commentary that relates his personal experience and memories- combined with a chronological time table of the details of the battle as it developed - and the ship and her crew's eventual involvement in front-line action.

Here then is TenderTale Five:

The USS Fulton (AS 11) at the Battle for Midway
as told by crew member Charles J. Meyer HTCM, USN, Retired.

In Retrospect:
     Some that read this account will find it difficult to understand the events and situations that existed during the earliest and darkest days of World War II. Secrecy was on the minds of every one. Slogans such as "Loose lips sink ships" were the key phrases of the day. Even our troops going into battle and ships on missions to engage an enemy fleet were told little or nothing about the operation. The reasoning seemed logical, should you be captured you would have little to no information that would aid the enemy. Very different from today's coverage of events, where T V cameras are located on the beach to televise an invasion and news reporters accompany the troops and radio in uncensored reports of action and casualties as they happen.

     I thank God, for that policy of secrecy that existed in the early part of the Pacific conflict, our losses at Pearl Harbor were only partially reported, and our ship losses were seldom reported until months after the fact. For example in this story, the sinking of the USS Yorktown (CV 5) that occurred on 7 June 1942, was not reported to the general public until September of 1942. The Japanese knew they had sunk an aircraft carrier but never were certain (or so we were told) which one. It was also recorded in several of the books I've used to research this report, that the Japanese had rescued American pilots during the battle. They were grilled and tortured for information about the size and location of our forces on Midway and number of ships and planes in the Midway area. After getting the maximum amount of information from them, they were killed or just tossed overboard.

     Secrecy about everything and anything was the way we lived, and we aboard Fulton at no time knew of a pending action to protect or defend Midway. We knew about increased vigilance against possible enemy air attacks on Pearl Harbor, and we saw the major U. S. Fleet units come in and leave port, but these were every day occurrences, and normal to expected events. When the Fulton received orders to get underway that evening of 4 June 1942, we never had a clue to why we were leaving port or where we were going. Many initially thought another attack on Pearl Harbor was pending. It wasn't until the next day when we started making preliminary preparations to take aboard battle survivors that the rumors started flying and even then we received only enough information to help us prepare for our mission.

     In retrospect also, the reader must understand that the 1940s war technology was never so advanced, as it was in future wars. Radar had just been invented and was in it's infancy, few of our ships had any, the Fulton a new ship had one unit, and keeping it operating was a constant job. Radio communications between ships and planes was often a problem because of secrecy. At one time during the transfer of wounded survivors from the heavy cruiser USS Portland to the USS Fulton -- Portland's float scout plane flew over us and dropped a bean bag message onto the bridge of the Portland, saying there were Japanese submarines in our area. It was a crude way to pass a message but effective.

     The speed of planes in those days was painfully slow when compared to plane speeds of today. Patrol planes such as the PBY Catalina's air speed was around 100 miles per hour, and even our fighter aircraft were very slow as compared to planes of the 1950's to the present era. The duration of their flights were limited, and as often happened during the Midway operations, the pilot's often ran out of fuel and crash landed in the ocean, because they tried to stretch their fuel and get a few licks at the Japanese fleet.

     The service men of those days, the old hands or the new recruit had only one thing in mind, that was to avenge the loss of ships and shipmates lost during the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Many a man spent two or three years over seas during the war, I personally spent 44 months in the Pacific war zones, having been in the continental United States only one month from the time I left for Pearl Harbor until my ship's return in October of 1945. I had just turned 17 the day they signed me into the Navy, I was not yet 21 when I was first discharged. All of us were dedicated to do whatever our country asked of us regardless of the consequences. Many of us expected to die,, but the Lord was with us. It was a different time and attitude of the U. S. People, they were united behind and for the troops. Our nation had just come out of a depression, money was scarce, my father and mother worked in an automobile factory for 60 - 70 cents an hour. I received $21.00 a month for my first 4 months in the Navy, at the time of the Battle for Midway I was making $36.00 a month. Admirals (so I've been told) in command of Battle forces had massive? paydays; of $600.00 a month. Compare those amounts with service members pay of today. A recruit entering the service to day earns in excess of $700.00 a month.

     Weather forecasting was more of an educated guess rather than today's 5 to 7 day forecast that are extremely accurate. The weather played a major part in the Battle for Midway, allowing the Japanese forces to advance towards Midway under cloud cover, our patrol and scout planes could fly above the clouds but could not spot the ships below them. Ships still relied on lookouts up in the mast to spot other ships and land falls. Signal flags, and blinker lights using Morse code was a prime means of close support communications. Radio was of course used but was able to be picked up and used by the enemy, codes were used but with difficulty. No satellites or TV, and no instant replay.

     Medicine was much improved from our earlier wars but pale in comparison to the technology that exists today. Penicillin had just been invented, cuts and wounds were often treated with sulfa drugs, and a black salve. Aspirin or a similar service drug was the normal prescribed drug for what ever ailed you. During times of enemy action, little attention was given to a seriously wounded shipmate, he may die anyway, so help the guy with minor wounds who could get back on his gun and continue to engage the enemy. After the intensity of the battle, then help those more seriously wounded. War was and is hell, the survival of the ship and many men had preference over a single or a few souls.

     So in retrospect, remember those early days of the war in the Pacific, had little resemblance to the actions of today. I personally feel the men of W.W.II were more dedicated to their shipmate and their country than today's service personnel. They adapted and fought with valor and dedication much like the men who fought in W.W.I.

The Midway Atoll - Eastern Island in the foreground with Midway's Airfield; and Sand Island in the background - on which was built the "rest" of the base - including fuel tanks, etc. Hard to believe that the outcome of a war that raged over thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean - would turn on the battle for this tiny piece of land.

     The BATTLE of MIDWAY in June of 1942 has come to be recognized as the most decisive and significant naval action since Trafalgar. As Winston Churchill wrote, "This memorable American victory was of cardinal importance, not only to the United States, but to the whole allied cause ... At one stroke, the dominant position of Japan in the Pacific was reversed... The annals of war at sea presents no more intense, heart-shaking shock... the qualities of the United States Navy and Air Force and the American race shone forth in splendor." These quotes are from WALTER Lord's book "INCREDIBLE VICTORY".

     The USS Fulton (AS-1 1), a Submarine Tender had a small yet vital roll in the final tally of events and conclusion of the Battle For The Midway Islands. An action the ship or her officers and crew had never envisioned but an operation that was performed in the highest traditions of the U S Navy's standards of courage, skill, and devotion to duty. Only Admiral Nimitz knew the reasoning for his ordering the Fulton out to the battle zone on June 4th 1942. Some say it was his only option there being no other ship in Pearl Harbor that had the speed to reach the area near the sinking aircraft carrier Yorktown (CV-5) and able to take aboard the thousands of survivors. Only Admiral Nimitz knew the situation and what resources he had available on the scene and left in port, but he wanted to leave his battle task groups unencumbered with survivors and able to continue the fight.

     This chronological information contained here in has been compiled from several books and my personal memory that has faded since the events happened some 56 years ago. It encompasses a time frame, of when the Fulton was commissioned, and the Japanese were planing their attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and later their planed attack and occupation of Midway Island.

     Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto commanded the Japanese Combined Fleet. The primary battle forces were aircraft carriers and their supporting ships consisting of cruisers, destroyers, and oilers. An advance Submarine Force of 15 boats were disbursed in and around the Midway area to cordon it off. The Japanese also had a Midway Invasion Force comprised of battleships, cruisers, destroyers, air craft carriers, 12 transports carrying troops, oilers, supply ships, repair ship, sea plane tender, minesweepers, and cargo ships, over 200 ships in all for the combined operation. The Japanese also had a diversion (Northern Aleutians) Fleet of considerable strength that was designed to confuse and split U. S. Forces.

     Admiral Chester W. Nimitz commanded the United States Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas; Commanding Carrier Striking Force (Task force 17) was RADM Frank Jack Fletcher aboard the USS Yorktown CV-5, with 2 heavy cruisers and 6 destroyers. Commanding (Task Force 16) was RADM Raymond A. Spruance, and the carriers Enterprise CV-6, and Hornet CV-8, with 6 cruisers and 9 destroyers. Two oilers with 2 destroyers accompanying, were attached to this group. Twelve (12) submarines were in the Midway Patrol group. Midway Shore-Based Air Detachments consisted of 32 PBY Catalinas, 6 TBF's: The Marine Aircraft Group consisted of 20 F2A's, 7 F4F's, 11 SB2U's and 16 SBD's.: The Army Air Force detachment consisted of 4 B-26s and 19 B-17's. The Midway Local Defenses consisted primarily of the 6th Marine Defense Battalion. On Midway also were 8 PT boats, small patrol craft, and an oiler group with supporting destroyers. The U. S. Forces in the Aleutian Campaign were considerable, but not involved in the Midway Action so is not mentioned further in this text.

The USS Fulton (AS 11) initially was not a part of this battle group, it's primary mission was the up-keep and overhaul of submarines, and this she was doing in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii at the start of the Battle for Midway on June 4th 1942. This chronological history will cover events about Fulton from her commissioning through the length of the battle for Midway Island, as well as Japanese events paralleling the same time frame.

Exerts from USS Fulton (AS 1 1) War Diary (1-30 June 1942)

Report of the USS Fulton
Operating as tender for Submarine Squadron EIGHT, under Commander Submarines, Pacific Fleet, in accordance with Commander-in-Chief U. S. Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) dispatch of February 1942.

Task Organization.
G7.12 Submarine Squadron EIGHT USS Fulton, (AS 1 1) a submarine tender, Commander A. D. Douglas, U. S. Navy, Commanding.

Location and General Activities. (June 1, 1942) The USS Fulton (AS 11) was moored at Pier S-1, Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, T. H. (Territory of Hawaii). Engaged in training, and providing tender services for Submarines of Submarine Squadron EIGHT and such other submarines as are assigned to Fulton, for voyage and refit repairs, by commander Submarines, Pacific Fleet. Anti-aircraft batteries manned for Base Defense Conditions as prescribed by the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, the CINCPAC, and the Commander Submarines, Pacific Fleet. USS Growler (SS-215) moored alongside to port.


19 July 1939 Keel for the USS Fulton (AS 11) was laid, at the Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California. The fourth U. S. Ship to be named in honor of inventor and ship designer ROBERT Fulton.

27 December 1940 Fulton was launched under the sponsorship of Mrs. Arthur T. Sutcliffe, great-granddaughter of Robert Fulton.

12 September 1941 Fulton Commissioned at Mare Island Navy Yard, California.

16 October 1941 Fulton passes under the Golden Gate Bridge at 1304 hours and noses out into the Pacific for builders' trials on her virgin voyage.

22 November 1941 Fulton puts to sea, heading South, stops at San Diego on 25 November 1941

1 December 1941 Fulton gets underway from San Diego in a dense fog. The fog lifts, a destroyer is aground but the Fulton is well clear. She noses out to sea and turns her bow Southward for Balboa, Panama Canal Zone on her Shakedown Cruise

7 December 1941 Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii: Fulton goes to General Quarters after receiving the word at 1345 hours that there was an air raid on Pearl Harbor, Fulton strips for action and starts zig-zagging. "This is no drill", extra lookouts posted, every merchant ship a potential "Jap!" The silence that followed the announcement was deafening, all the crew exclaimed "Just show us the Japs"

10 December 1941 Japanese captures Guam

23 December 1941 Wake Island falls to Japanese forces

12 December through 27 January 1942 Fulton is assigned various missions of building advanced sea plane bases in Central America and on a Pacific Island near the Equator: Davey Jones come back aboard after giving us a reprieve from when we first passed over the line on January 21st and with proper ceremony, Pollywogs became Shellbacks on 27 January 1942

31 December 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii At 1000 hours Admiral Chester W. Nimitz assumes command of the U. S. Pacific Fleet, Aboard the Submarine USS Grayling an appropriate setting in view of his long background as a submariner.

Late December 1941 Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of Japan's Combined Fleet, stated "We should occupy Midway"

11 January 1942 USS Saratoga torpedoed and goes to Bremerton for repairs.

1 - 14th January 1942 Japanese Admirals complete plans and sketch, including the attack and occupation of Midway Island. As the plan developed, the operation had a two fold aim: First to occupy the atoll and convert it into a Japanese Air Base and jumping off place for an invasion of Hawaii; second to lure the U. S. Pacific Fleet into the Midway area for a knock-down, drag- out fight which would finish it off

31 January 1942 Fulton leaves Central America and heads for the States.

9 February 1942 Fulton arrives in San Diego, CA. And ties up at the Broadway Piers, Commander of Submarine Squadron EIGHT moves his flag aboard.

13 February 1942 Fulton receives a draft of 300 new recruits straight out of Boot Camp. I was a member of that group, I had enlisted only 43 days ago, on 1 January 1942. I was slated for submarine duty, but was sent to the pipe and copper shop until I received some training.

15 February 1942 Singapore surrenders to the Japanese.

1-28 February 1942 Japanese victories continue to mount; with the landings at Rabaul, Java Sea battle victories, sinking of the old carrier USS Langley, and the cruiser USS Houston, the loss of the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse, and air raids on Darwin in northern Australia. U. S. carrier forces and submarines continued to fight with limited success.

8 March 1942 Fulton joins a convoy and heads for Pearl Harbor Hawaii

13 March 1942 Fulton enters Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and we view the results of the blitz; sunken ships, some capsized and others still smoldering, the whole harbor was covered with oil, it was a sight and smell none of us will ever forget.

16 March 1942 Fulton receives it's first submarine alongside, The USS Drum (SS-228): I had never seen a submarine before, she looked sleek and deadly, I could hardly wait to go aboard her.

All of March 1942 Japanese plans on Midway attack are firmed up.

2-5 April 1942 Japan's High Command (Premier Hideki Tojo) approve of Midway attack

5 April 1942 Japanese sink two British Cruisers in Colombo

9 April 1942 Japanese sink British carrier HMS Hermes and destroyer HMS Vampire at Trincomalee, Ceylon

18 April 1942 Lieutenant Colonel James (Jimmy) Doolittle, and 16 B-25 bombers flew off the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and bombed Tokyo, Yokohama, and other Japanese cities

All of April 1942 Fulton continues to support and refit submarines for their mission against Japanese merchant and war ships. Fulton furnishes working parties to assist on unloading ammunition etc., from sunken battleships, and relieving navy base shop workers by taking over several repair shops on nights and weekends.

28-29 April 1942 Admiral Yamamoto, holds Midway attack strategy meeting aboard his flagship Yamato

29 April 1942 Nimitz advises CINCPAC, Admiral Ernest J. King, of Midway situation as follows: "Defenses Midway [break] Consider island at present able to withstand moderate attack but would require fleet assistance forward against major attck[break] will give full consideration to such strengthening and development as may be practicable"

March & April 1942 Nimitz and his Combined Fleet Staff were diligent in attempting to predict the Japanese next targets and thus circumvent them. Commander Joseph Rocheford, chief of the Combat Intelligence Office familiarly know as "Hypo" headed the Pearl Harbor based cryptanalysis section of Navy intelligence, they worked to break the Japanese code "JN25". Their team could read parts of each Japanese message.

1- 4 May 1942 Japanese forces conduct preliminary war games for Midway attack.

2 May 1942 Nimitz inspects Midway defenses.

5 May 1942 Japanese Admiral Nagano orders Midway and Aleutians operations.

All of May 1942 Fulton continues to service submarines, as ship's force carrying out routine upkeep and training. As a potential submarine crewmember I was sent to the Diving Tower and qualified for escaping from a sunken sub. Daily we had frequent dispatches to take condition of "Readiness One for Action", so we go to General Quarters and man all the guns. During this time Fulton is also modified and recieves upgraded armament, replacing 50-caliber machine-guns with 20-MM guns. Work ashore on sunken battle ships continue, 16 & 18 hour days are the normal, we sleep in the shops aboard Fulton, as the work goes on.

6 May 1942 Corregidor surrenders to the Japanese.

7 - 11 May 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea; USS Lexington sunk, USS Yorktown (CV-5) damaged. Two Japanese carriers hit, (Shoho sunk and Shokaku damaged.) [Lexington actually sunk on 8 May]

10 May 1942 Midway Island sent a fake message that they were short of water. (This was a trap message to confirm the Japanese main target was Midway Island)

12 May 1942 Navy Intelligence [Hypo] intercepts a Japanese message that "AF" (Japanese code name for Midway) is short of water, and through this "innocent" message - falll into the trap that confirms that Miday is in fact "AF" and is the target of their planned invasion.

15 May 1942 Nimitz orders Halsey's task force to Pearl Harbor

17 May 1942 The submarine USS Triton (SS 201) torpedoed and sank the Japanese submarine I-164 while it was on the surface off Kyushu.

17 May 1942 Nimitz orders North Pacific Task force to the Aleutians consisting of heavy and light cruisers and destroyers with support vessels

18 May 1942 7th Army Air Force placed on special "Alert" new B-17s begin to arrive in Hawaii from mainland.

18 May 1942 At 1347 hours Fulton again goes to G. Q. - ready for action, all guns manned; and preparations for getting underway made.

20th-21st May 1942 Japanese's Midway attack and occupying forces sortie from Japan and rendezvous for exercises at sea and also some forces meet at Saipan. American forces on Midway Islands are on full alert ... General George Marshall flew to the West Coast, fearing the Japanese would very soon strike the southern areas in reprisal for the Doolittle raid on Tokyo

22 May 1942 Demolition charges tripped and blow up Midways gasoline dump.

22-26 May 1942 Reinforcements poor into Midway. U. S. intelligence intercepts Japanese message indicating "D" Day for attack was 3 June 1942.

26 May 1942 U S Aircraft Carriers Enterprise and Hornet arrive in Pearl Harbor. Admiral Halsey too ill to command the operation and he recommends Spruance to take over command.

27 May 1942 Japanese forces sortie toward Midway. The U. S. carriers Enterprise and Hornet are refurbished and remanned. At 1352 , The damaged aircraft carrier Yorktown enters Pearl Harbor for repairs. Fulton crew observes the Yorktown and her damage as they nudge her into berth 16. It was estimated that it would take 3 months to put Yorktown back in prime fighting condition, but the circumstances directed it would take a minimum of about two to three weeks....

28 May 1942 Task Force 16 (Enterprise and Hornet, with support ships leave Pearl Harbor) head to sea with Admiral Spruance in command to await Japanese attack forces off Midway.

28 May 1942 Admiral Fletcher named commander of U. S. Task Forces for Midway operations (His flag is aboard USS Yorktown). Yorktown moved from Berth 16 to Dry Dock #1 at 0645

29 May 1942 Midway receives additional Army Air Force bombers and crews (B-17 and B-26s) Commander Logan C. Ramsey was sent to Midway to co-ordinate all air operations.

30 May 1942 Japanese submarine I-123 find U. S. Ships at French Frigate Shoals, which they had planned to use as a base for their seaplanes. Operation "K" postponed. NOTE: This was a flying boat mission intended to furnish the Japanese with intelligence on the U S Pacific Fleet positions. The submarine was to refuel the flying boats at French Frigate Shoals.

30 May 1942 Task Force 17 sorties from Pearl Harbor, Yorktown, (hastily repaired in less than 48 hours) supported by the heavy cruisers Astoria and Portland and destroyers Hammann, Hughes, Morris, Anderson and Russell.

31 May 1942 The Stage was set: Towards Midway ----- two tiny specks almost invisible on a map of the Pacific ---- raced the sea power of the United States of America and Empire of Japan. With the ships rode the intangibles. Would the Japanese with their superior tonnage and firepower and habit of victory succeed in another convincing victory? ... Or would the U. S. Navy, out manned and out gunned, but with surprise, flexibility, naval intelligence and a grit determination to stop the Japanese victory parade be enough for a convincing United States Victory.
Movements of the various fleets. The Japanese deployed a total of ten task forces -- any one of which was a serious threat to both of the task forces sent by the Americans (the tenth "force" from the Japanese side was the submarine cordon line stretched between Hawaii and Midway. Had that line intercepted either task force leaving Hawaii - the results would have undoubtedly been much different.

31 May 1942 Fulton crew senses emergency, all liberty is cancelled until further notice

1 June 1942 Japanese midget submarine penetrates Sydney Australia harbor and fires torpedo at U. S. Cruiser Chicago, missing it but hitting ferry boat being used as barrack-ship for sailors killing a number of them. All three Japanese Midget Submarines involved were sunk.

1 June 1942 Fulton continues her daily routine, voyage repairs to submarines, and training. The crew observed the departing of fleet units, and a sense of caution that existed in the port area, what we didn't know was that a major battle was shaping up for the control of the Midway Islands.

{Beginning 2 June 1942 the pace of activity during the day quickens as the battle draws near - time of day is now included.}
2 June 1942 1023 Fulton shifts berths, to pier S-13, Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, T. H. Moored Port side to.

2 June 1942 1600 U. S. Task Forces 16 (Enterprise & Hornet) and 17 (Yorktown) rendezvoused at designated spot named "Point Luck" (32° North Latitude, 173° West longitude, about 325 miles northwest of Midway)

2 June 1942 Japanese positioned two cordons of submarines between Midway and Pearl Harbor for surveillance and to attack any fleet vessels that may attempt to join the battle for Midway Island.

3 June 1942 0700 Japanese 2nd Carrier Striking Force attack Dutch Harbor: "AO" (Japanese code name for Aleutians) is the main target of Japan's diversionary thrust against the lonely Aleutians.

3 June 1942 0900 Japanese escort forces spot U. S. planes flying search missions from Midway. Jack Reed in a PBY had spotted elements of the Japanese Invasion force, 700 miles from Midway.

3 June 1942 1228 Midway B-17s take off to strike Japanese force.

3 June 1942 1640 B-17s attack Japanese Transport group; no hits.

3 June 1942 2115 4 PBYs with torpedoes attached to their wings take off from Midway to make a night attack on Japanese forces.

4 June 1942 0245 PBYs (Catalinas) report attack completed on Japanese Transport group, one hit reported; no sinkings.

0400 Midway sends out search planes, and B-17s to attack the Japanese Transport group, also protective cover aircraft for the island

0430 Japanese begin launching attack aircraft towards Midway. From the carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu respectively, they launched 108 planes consisting of Zero fighters, dive bombers and straight bombers.

0530 Air crews alerted on Midway, they waited and they watched.

0530 Reveille aboard Fulton, another routine day, we continue voyage repairs to submarines alongside, ships force carrying out routine upkeep and training. No hint of the major battle that is just starting for the Midway Islands.

4 June 1942
USS Enterprise
0534-0645 Enterprise receives a report on a Japanese carrier; Midway aircraft scramble aloft to meet the Japanese, out numbered and unable to match the attack capabilities of the Zero fighters, the Navy and Marine pilots shoot down and damage several of the bombers,. The Japanese continued on their mission to knock out the air defense on Midway, Sand and Eastern Island. The air battle was fierce and our losses heavy.

4 June 1942
0630-0643 Midway defenders ordered to open fire when Japanese planes are within range. The PT boats were underway in the lagoon, their machine guns and even rifles and pistols at the alert. The level bombers reached Midway first and concentrated on Sand Island.. Anti-Aircraft (AA) fire brought down two of the attacking bombers. Fuel tanks on the Northeast end of the island suffered a direct hit. AA guns were knocked out. On Eastern Island, the hanger was hit, the power house was demolished knocking off all electricity and the water distillation plant. Fuel lines between the dock area and the main gas storage areas were destroyed, now all planes had to be fueled from drums of gas via hand pumps. The marine mess hall and post exchange were hit and knocked out. The Navy Dispensary, clearly marked with a big red cross on the roof was completely demolished along with the laundry. After the bombers had left the zeros came in strafing the area.

0643-0700 Japanese end the 1st attacks on Midway Islands and start their return to their carriers. They lost 8 bombers and 3 Zeros, with a number of bombers and Zeros damaged. American losses were worse, fourteen pilots lost out of 26, and only two of the fighter aircraft were fit to fly again. 20 men were killed on the ground. A Japanese pilot reports "There is need for second attack". Midway defenders had done their gallant if not very effective best.

0700-0707 USS Hornet and USS Enterprise launch a total of 116 aircraft for a coordinated strike of torpedo and dive bombers with fighter escort towards the Japanese carriers some 200 miles away.

0710-0755 Midway Navy, Marine and Army planes attack Japanese carriers, the garrison had launched a determined, gallant but futile attack with no tangible results, and many planes lost.

(4 June 1942) 0800 USS Nautilus attacks Mobile Force, no hits. Depth-charged repeatedly

0820-0918 Japanese Admiral receives report of American task force that includes carriers; his carriers Hiryu and Soryu had total of 36 dive bombers on deck, and the Akagi and Kaga had torpedo bombers with land bombs, all ready for a second attack on Midway. His Zeros were in the air and needed to be landed, rearmed and refueled. A decision was made to change from bombs to torpedoes for attacking the American carrier forces. The USS Yorktown (CV-5) at this time began launching her aircraft: All returning Japanese aircraft land aboard the carriers. All planes will be refueled and rearmed and ready to attack U. S. Forces around 1100. Reports received from his scout plane "10 enemy (U.S.) torpedo planes are heading towards you".

0955-1022 USS Enterprise's SBDs (32 Dauntles Dive Bombers) spot the Japanese Mobile Force. Initial contact for attack was the carriers Akagi and Kaga. Kaga was hit by bombs, squarely amidst the planes massed for take off, instantly the flight deck was a holocaust. Additional bomb hits in the vicinity of the forward elevator exploded in the hanger deck causing the fully armed and fueled planes that were ready for the next attack on Midway Island to explode, the ship was doomed and abandon ship was sounded.

1022-1042 Lt. Richard H. Best led his 5 SBDs against the Japanese carrier Akagi, dropping bombs on the flight deck as the carrier was attempting to launch fighter (Zeros) aircraft. The bombs were fused to penetrate the flight deck and explode in the hanger deck.. The Enterprise dive bombers had caught the Akagi with her flight deck full of armed and fueled aircraft; plus, bombs destined for Midway that had been removed so torpedoes could be installed for the attack on the U S Task forces, had not been returned to storage. The induced explosions of planes, fuel and armament doomed the Akagi, and turned her into "a burning hell".

1025 USS Yorktown planes start bombing runs against Soryu, she was hit several times and bombs exploded in her hanger deck fires enveloped the whole ship in no time. Exactly half an hour had passed from the first hit on Soryu until "Abandon Ship" was sounded. Thirty short minutes had transformed Soryu from a smart, proud carrier -- to a burned-out crematorium. The dive bombers had accomplished in a matter of minutes what the preceding attack waves had failed to do in 3 hours. The torpedo bombers had failed to dent a single Japanese ship.

1150 The U. S. dive-bombers did not escape unscathed. The Yorktown group was the most fortunate- no one was lost in this action. Enterprise was not so lucky, she had lost fourteen dive bombers, of which a number had to ditch at sea for lack of gas.

(4 June 1942) 1200 As the Yorktown planes returned to their ship they received a wave-off, Yorktown was under attack. Support vessels were ordered to assume Victor formation against the air attack, the heavy cruisers Astoria and Portland on Yorktown's port and starboard bow with the destroyers setting up an outer screen.. Damage control parties were on station, all guns manned, and 12 Wildcat fighters were sent aloft to meet the incoming Japanese bombers and fighters. At about 15 miles out the USS Yorktown planes, assisted by 6 planes from the USS Enterprise tangle with the Japanese Zero fighters and bombers. Before the enemy planes could reach Yorktown 10 of their planes had been shot down.

1201 Yorktown's gunners took up their ships defense, shooting down several dive bombers as they dove on the ship, but their bombs fell on the Yorktown's deck, killing or wounding over 36 men. A hole ten feet square was blown in the center of the flight deck, fires were started in planes on the hanger deck. Fires from a bomb with a delayed action fuse exploded in the Yorktown's stack, snuffing out fires in her boilers, and causing her speed to drop to about 6 knots.

1220 Yorktown at a dead standstill, her damage control crews continue fighting fires and repairing the damage from the 3 bomb hits. Carpenters rushed to the flight deck and with their know-how and determination had the flight deck usable within 25 minutes. The boiler room crew ignoring the searing heat and choking fumes and constant danger of being blown to bits, soon (1 hour and 20 minutes after the breakdown flag was hoisted) worked up sufficient steam to get her underway again.

1313 Admiral Fletcher realizing the damaged Yorktown was no longer practical to serve as his flagship decided to remove his flag to the heavy cruiser Astoria. The staff sliding down manila lines into the Astoria's #2 whale boat, and Admiral Fletcher lowered by two seamen into the boat. Immediately upon arriving aboard the Astoria, Fletcher informed Admiral Nimitz of the situation; CINCPAC dispatched to the scene the minesweeper Vireo from Hermes Reef and the fleet tug Navajo from French Frigate Shoals. He also diverted the destroyer Gwin, already a day out of Pearl Harbor en route to join Spruance, to augment Yorktown's guard.

1437 Yorktown built up enough speed to make a respectable 19 knots. A spontaneous cheer rang out from every ship in the carriers screening forces. Yorktown was still alive.

1443-1454 Planes from the Japanese carrier Hiryu, attack the Yorktown for a second time, and score two torpedo hits on her port side piercing the port fuel tanks, flooded three fire rooms and the forward generator room - cutting off all electrical power. A short in the control board blocked off the emergency generators. Her rudder jammed for the second time that afternoon. Yorktown stopped in her tracks and tilted to a 17° list to port. Within about ten minutes after the torpedoes struck she was leaning 26°.

4 June 1942
USS Hornet
Hornet had experienced a tragic and frustrating day. She had lost all her torpedo bombers; her dive-bombers had missed the action entirely; and her fighters ditched for lack of fuel. And while playing good Samaritan to refugee planes from the Yorktown a wounded pilot crashed his Wildcat without cutting off his machine guns, the impact sprayed slugs into the carriers island killing five men and wounding twenty. The killed included the son of the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Ingersoll.

4 June 1942
USS Yorktown
1455 With all power and communications lost, the ship healing over to where her flight deck almost touched the water. Her ruptured fuel tanks spreading a deadly oil film around the ship that even a small spark would ignite and turn it into a sheet of flame, Captain Buckmaster, orders the 3000 men aboard to abandon ship. Yorktown was a dead loss as an aircraft carrier. Her only remaining assets were the men aboard her. The blue and white signal flag was hoisted; "Abandoning Ship": The USS Balch (DD- 363), Benham, Russell, and Anderson (Destroyers) closed in to pick up the evacuees, while others established an anti submarine screen. The removal of Yorktown's wounded was very difficult because of the ships list and slippery decks. By various means the wounded were lowered gently or carried bodily to the rescue ships. Sailors from the other ships dived in the water to assist those unable to swim. Cargo nets, life rafts, and motor boats all played their part. Captain Buckmaster made an inspection of the ship before he also abandoned her, he went aboard a life raft and was later picked up by the destroyer Hammann and thence to the cruiser Astoria.

1445-1550 The Japanese carrier Hiryu was located by U S scout planes, Admiral Spruance immediately ordered aloft all airworthy attack aircraft, some armed with 1000# bombs others with 500# bombs.

1645 U S Planes from Enterprise and Yorktown (flying from Enterprise) sight the Japanese carrier Hiryu.

1701-1705 U. S. Planes attack Hiryu, she is hit by four bombs in rapid succession, fires spread throughout the ship. Burning from bow to stern she was still running at high speed like a mad bull.

1707 Planes from the Hornet join the attack on other ships, No hits.

1745 B-17s from Midway Island attack other Japanese ships, same results as earlier in the day. No hits.

1750-2000 Japanese carriers Kaga and Soryu are sunk, while all hands abandon the sinking Akagi.

2015 The USS Fulton received verbal instructions from the Commander Submarines Pacific Fleet to prepare to get underway as soon as possible. As I recall, we were totaly unaware that a major battle had been taking place just off Midway Island. The crew was watching the movie "Sergeant York", on the boat deck when the word was passed, and the movie stopped. All hands prepared the ship for sea.

2204 The USS Fulton was underway, in compliance with CINCPAC dispatch of 4 June, and stood out of Pearl Harbor. The USS Breese (DM- 18) and USS Allen (DD-66) joined as escorts. Proceeded to northwestward, zigzagging at seventeen knots speed, towards prescribed rendezvous with undesignated vessels of Task Force 16 and Task Force 17 who are to transfer excess personnel on board (survivors of Midway battle) to Fulton for transportation to Pearl Harbor. Expect to make rendezvous in forenoon six June.

5 June 1942 0130 The Japanese submarine I-168 fires on Midway Island, no damage. Shortly thereafter the I-168 is ordered to sink a U. S. carrier 150 miles away.

0200 The USS Fulton, continues on her mission of mercy, transversing through the cordon of 16 Japanese submarines stationed northwest of Hawaii to intercept any fleet units that would be sent to support the defense of Midway.

0230 Abandon Ship is ordered aboard the Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu.

0255 Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet, calls off the operation against Midway. It was necessary to completely reorient themselves from an attitude of "How far reaching will our victory be" to "How much can we salvage".

0430 Evacuation of Hiryu completed.

0500 Japanese carrier Akagi scuttled.

0510 Japanese destroyer torpedoes Hiryu.

0600-0850 U. S. patrol planes spot 2 battleships 1 heavy cruiser and 3 light cruisers, U. S. bombers (B-17s) attack a cruiser. As daylight had just begun, destroyers screening the damaged and abandoned Yorktown were startled to hear a rattle of machine gun fire from her. The destroyer Hughes sent a detachment to the carrier to investigate. Much to their surprise, they found a S2/c badly wounded, who had fired the machine gun, and he informed them that another sailor, left for dead was alive in sickbay. Both men were returned to the destroyer.

5 June 1942
USS Fulton
0800 The Fulton's position: Latitude 22° 43' N. Longitude 159° 33'W. The crew prepares equipment and resources to take aboard battle survivors, many of them wounded.

0900 Japanese carrier Hiryu sinks.

1200 Fulton position: Latitude 23° 12' N. Longitude 160° 30' W.

5 June 1942
USS Astoria
1430 While Captain Buckmaster was assembling a salvage party aboard the cruiser Astoria, his hand picked group of 24 officers and 145 men would board the destroyer Hammann that later would return to the Yorktown.

5 June 1942
Midway Island
1435 B-17 bombers from Midway Island, sent out to bomb elements of the Japanese fleet, found no carriers but reported attacking other ships.

5 June 1942
USS Yorktown
1436 U. S. Navy minesweeper Vireo began to pull Yorktown at a barely perceptible two knots. The destroyer Gwin appeared and assumed command of salvage operations. The destroyer Hughes and Gwin sent boarding parties aboard the Yorktown and worked rapidly to throw overboard everything they could from the listing side of the ship. Little could be done as darkness approached and the Yorktown had neither power nor light.

after dark
Enterprise and Hornet begin launching 58 bombers to finish of the Japanese carrier, but found nothing but a lone Japanese destroyer Tanikaze. No hits, lots of near misses. planes return to carriers, and Admiral Spruance orders search lights turned on as beacons to assist returning planes find the ship. 1 plane was lost to AA fire and one plane was lost, running out of gas trying to land.

2000 Fulton continues on her mercy mission, position: Latitude 24° 13' N. Longitude 162° 41'W.

2320 The Japanese transfer wounded survivors to Battle ships.

6 June 1942 0200 Over twenty-four hours after she had been abandoned, with the minesweeper Vireo towing her, before daybreak Hammann secures to Yorktown's starboard side, transferred the salvage party and provided power, pumps and water for their work. Captain Buckmaster and his men worked like beavers. They quenched the one remaining fire, corrected the list by counter flooding with the aid of Hammann electrical power and pumps, jettisoned planes and removed weights from the port side and had made considerable progress by mid afternoon.

6 June 1942 0410 The Japanese submarine I-168, that had shelled Midway earlier, and been ordered to go get the Yorktown, spots her in the distance at 20,000 meters (approximately twelve miles).

0502 Enterprise launches aircraft in search of Japanese battleships, cruisers and destroyers.

0645 Enterprise planes spot what were thought to be battleships and cruisers, actually it turned out to be two crippled cruisers and two destroyer escorting them.

0759 Hornet launches 26 dive-bombers and 8 fighters to attack the Japanese cruisers and destroyers.

0800 Fulton closes in on Yorktown Task Force, position: Latitude 25° 44'N. Longitude 165° 52' W.

0945 Hornet planes attack and make hits on 3 Japanese ships.

1045 Enterprise launches 31 dive-bombers and 12 fighters, Midway sends out 26 B-17s after the cruisers. The B-17s fail to find cruisers but spot the U. S. Submarine Grayling (thinking she was a Japanese cruiser) and bomb her with over 20, 1000 pound bombs and reported her sinking in 15 seconds. The sub skipper surfaced later and reported the incident to headquarters, and wanted to know why an American Submarine had to crash dive to avoid being bombed by the Army Air Force.???

1200 Fulton's position: Latitude 26° 18'N., Longitude 166° 57' W. Course and distance made good since 1200 June 5, course 298° true; distance 393 miles (remember we were zig-zagging) average speed 16.3 knots.

1230 Enterprise planes score hits on both cruisers.

1237 Sighting of the Yorktown group rewarded the Japanese skipper's of the submarine I-168s pertinacity. He skillfully penetrated the U. S. destroyer and cruiser anti-submarine screen undetected. He was within 500 meters, and inside the destroyer's screen. As he raised his periscope the Yorktown loomed over him like a mountain, he could clearly see the faces of men aboard her. He was too close for comfort and too close for a torpedo attack. He was forced to move back for a more favorable point to attack from. As he moved into his turn he discovered all sounds of enemy detection activities had disappeared. (The captain and his navigator assumed the U. S. Destroyer sonar men had gone off to lunch; {[ED. CJM] I wonder if that could have been so????}) allowing the I-168 to move back under the screen for a distance of 1200 meters.

6 June 1942 1300 USS Fulton meets the USS Portland, USS Morris and USS Russell at Latitude 26° 26' N., Longitude 167° 13'W. Steamed on various courses and speeds preparatory to towing alongside Portland to transfer survivors of the Yorktown to Fulton. The destroyer Allen received survivors from the USS Russell.

1331 The Japanese submarine fires 4 torpedoes at the crippled Yorktown. The first one hit the destroyer Hammann amidships (she was tied up to the carriers starboard side.) blasting the destroyer almost in half, she sank in about 3 minutes, with the loss of many of her crew. As she plunged down her depth charges exploded at three different levels. Nine of the Hammann 13 officers were killed and seventy-two of her crew of 228.
The I168 - pictured here in March 1934- probably on Sea Trials. At this time she was known as the I68 - but was renamed the I168 in May 1942. Photo donated by Kazutashi Hando in 1970 to the U. S. Naval Archives.

1332 The next two torpedoes struck the Yorktown at frame 85 starboard at the turn of the bridge, knocking a huge hole in the hull. The forth torpedo was off target, passing the carrier just astern.. Yorktown's No. 3 Auxiliary elevator pulled loose, various fixtures crashed to the hanger deck. All rivets in the starboard leg of the foremast sheared. Men were thrown every which way, some overboard entirely, others incurring broken bones, cuts and bruises.

1336-1640 Within 5 minutes of torpedoing the Yorktown, I-168 undergoes severe depth charge attack, he goes towards the carrier, thinking the U. S. destroyers would not drop depth charges in an area that would kill any survivors in the water. Over 60 depth charges were dropped around them.. A destroyer passed directly over them and dropped two depth charges that severely damaged the I-168. The sub's lights went out, emergency lights came on, flooding in the forward torpedo compartment, and after steering rudder engine room. Quick work of the crew patched the flooding. As sulfuric acid leaked from damaged batteries and mixed with the salt water in the bilges to form chlorine gas, breathing became more and more difficult. Both horizontal and vertical rudders were out of commission. Sunset was in two hours, the captain rallied his men to stick it out till then. Finally the ship had to rise, the crew prepared for battle surface, determined to go down fighting. When they surfaced, to their amazement nothing was in sight nearby, 3 enemy destroyers were about 10,000 meters away, but no carrier in sight, they assumed she (Yorktown) had been sunk.. The I-168 had survived.

It is somewhat ironic that at the very moment the Fulton was meeting up with Taskforce 17, the cruiser Portland and the destroyers Morris and Russell, preparing to take aboard survivors from the Yorktown, the Japanese submarine I-168 was in the immediate area and was sending four torpedoes towards the badly damaged carrier. While we were in the process of high lining wounded survivors in coal bags between the two ships the Portland's float plane flew over the bridge of both ships and dropped a bean bag message to the bridge, that said "Japanese submarines are in the area". The skilled and battle tested captain of the cruiser Portland gave orders to cut the lines that secured our two ships together. Fulton crew members commenced undoing the lines from the cleat's and chocks, so the lines could be pulled back aboard each ship, that operation would take valuable time and Portland's skipper knew that. He shouted down to the deck and ordered the lines cut, and his crew picked up axes and severed all lines attaching the two ships, and at the same moment ordered his ship to flank speed and started zig-zagging away.

6 June 1942
USS Fulton
1411 Received lines from Portland and towed alongside her port side; lines rigged as for fueling at sea; course 130° true, speed 8 knots, wind East by North, sea calm. Rigged five trolleys and whips and commenced transfer of survivors.
Wounded and other survivors being hauled across open sea in coal bags suspended by nothing more than ropes. The Fulton (AS 11) on the left; the Portland (CA 33) on the right.

1445 The USS Hornet bomber group hit the Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma.

1500 Japanese Admiral Yamamoto orders all out battle, risking Main Body of his attack force, but air searches fail to find U. S. fleet so plan is abandoned.

After Sunset The Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma sinks after heavy bombing from Enterprise and Hornet planes. The captain of the Mikuma refuses to leave and committed "hara-kiri". This particular action was probably the closest American and Japanese ships came to each other in this battle for Midway Islands. The Hornet pilots could see simultaneously Task Force 16 behind them and the enemy ahead.

1845 Fulton passed lines to Russell and towed her alongside to port. Rigged trolleys and whips preparatory to transfer of survivors.

1900 Admiral Spruance (Task Force 16) completes air operations, turns east to rendezvous with oilers.

1930 Fulton's escort ship Allen reported sound contact, suspected submarine. At that time no survivors had been received from the Russell, and 15 stretcher cases remained to be transferred from the Portland. Russell, on our port side, cast off all lines. Fulton cast off (lines were cut by Portland, with fire axes) from the Portland on our Starboard side. All ships proceeded to the northeast at best speeds on evasive courses, and conforming to Portland's movements.

2000 Fulton's position: Latitude 25° 57'N., Longitude 166° 29'W.

2008 Fulton stopped. Several of our boats were lowered. Commenced recovery and transfer of Yorktown survivors from Portland, Russell, Morris, and Allen by boat during darkness. Fulton crewmembers (myself included) manned the open cargo hatches on the second deck amidships and as the boats came alongside we assisted the survivors scramble up cargo nets that were hung from both hatches. Many of the men we assisted had little or no clothes on, having lost or shed them while in the water.

2200 Completed transfer of survivors. Total number of survivors received on board Fulton, 101 officers and 1790 enlisted. This included 59 stretcher cases. Portland and destroyers screen Fulton during these operations. It was reported Fulton received 500 men from the USS Morris, 492 from the USS Russell, and 899 from the Portland.
Yorktown survivors being checked aboard Fulton after their transfer from the USS Portland (CA 33). Note what appears to be oil stains on their life jackets.

2245 Transfer of survivors completed, Fulton hoisted all her boats aboard. Portland, Morris and Russell proceed on duty assigned. Fulton gets underway for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. at 17 knots. The USS Allen and Breese acting as escorts. The destroyer USS Benham, had many of the sunken destroyer Hammann personnel aboard her and previously had headed for Pearl Harbor.

6 June 1942
USS Yorktown
Earlier in the evening, Yorktown salvage continued After the Japanese torpedo attack on the crippled carrier, they thought it had sunk, curiously enough the torpedoes had corrected Yorktown's list to seven degrees, and Captain Buckmaster hoped to resume salvage operations in the morning. Much of his days work had been undone, including that of identifying the dead, for their effects and the records, including fingerprints, had slid into the sea. With the destroyers fully occupied in rescuing survivors, pulling bodies out of the water, or hunting for the I-168, Captain Buckmaster decided to suspend salvage operations until daylight, when he expected the fleet tug Navajo. He and his salvage team therefore left the carrier and boarded the destroyer Balch.

7 June 1942 0400 Incredibly the Yorktown remained afloat throughout the night. Not until nearly dawn did her crew and escort really give up. When the destroyer squadron commander saw the great carrier was doomed, he arranged his destroyers around her for a final ceremony. It was particularly heart-breaking to see this ship in her death throes, for having made it through so much, it seemed the grand old girl deserved to live.

0458-0600 In the full glow of a splendid dawn, all the attending destroyers moved in position to see Yorktown go down. It was a sober and sickening sight to see such a great ship go to her death. All the destroyers were at half-mast, the crews, their heads uncovered, stood at attention while Yorktown went under. The old flattop, nick-named by her crew "Waltzing Matilda", would waltz no more. She sank in Pacific ocean waters two thousand fathoms deep.

0800 Fulton was underway as before, enroute to Pearl Harbor. Position: Latitude 25° 01'N., Longitude 164° 5'W. course and distance made good since 1200 June 6: course 120° true, distance 240 miles speed 10 knots (Zig-zagging).

7 June 1942 Since the survivors were received aboard Fulton Since receiving the first survivors aboard Fulton, every crew member made sure the survivors were well cared for. Many of them were given blankets, clothing and shoes from our personal lockers, they were treated to hot shower's with toiletries supplied by Fulton crew members. Every thing was donated, no one was concerned about getting the items back, our main thoughts were the comfort of these gallant men. For the wounded and sick survivors the doctors worked around the clock operating on some and treating all of them with the best possible medical service. The survivors were offered crew members bunks, many of them could not sleep, being emotionally drained over the loss of their ship, they gathered in groups and spoke of lost shipmates and wishing to get another ship so they could pay the Japanese back. The exhausted survivors showed no fear and little shock, revenge was on their minds as they huddled in the various shops and mess halls consuming coffee as fast as it could be made. Fulton sailors listened diligently to the survivors tell where they were and what they did as the bombs hit their ship, there were heroic actions but no heroes, each man did his duty.

7 June 1942 2000 Fulton's position: Latitude 24° 1'N., Longitude 161° 19'W. Crew members remember survivors, prior to bedding down for the night, wrapped in blankets with many laying on steel decks singing "God Bless America", and other patriotic songs. Those who witnessed this impromptu emotional expression of love for their country, choked up with love for these shipmates who had given so much, it gave all of us a desire to do our part in this war and get even with the Japanese for attacking the USA.

8 June 1942 0800 Fulton's position: Latitude 21° 52' N., Longitude 158° 50' W.

1200 Underway as before, Latitude 21° 20'N., Longitude 158° 14'W.

1532 Fulton arrives at Pearl Harbor and moored at pier S-13, Submarine Base. Admiral C. W. Nimitz, USN (CINCPAC) and Vice Admiral W. L. Calhoun USN, Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet came aboard to welcome the survivors. All survivors put ashore, Wounded survivors were placed in litters and lowered by crane to the dock where waiting ambulances took them to hospitals. The Fulton received her first battle star for participating in the Battle for Midway Island.
The Fulton arriving at Pearl Harbor 8 June, 1942
Admiral Nimitz (second from left) waits at the pier for the Fulton to dock.
The Fulton being "nudged" to the pier - along with the Fulton's crew are 1891 survivors of the Battle for Midway.
Truck load (and a Navy Bus) of Yorktown survivors on their way to Camp Catlin soon after their arrival at Pearl Harbor aboard Fulton June 8, 1942.

From the 9th of June through the 7th of July 1942, Fulton remained in Pearl Harbor, operating as a tender for submarines, Pacific Fleet. Our Task Organization was G7.12 Submarine Squadron EIGHT Captain Roper USN; USS Fulton Commanding Officer A.D. Douglas, USN. Fulton continued her task of providing tender service for all submarines assigned to her for voyage and refit repairs. Training of her crew and submarine relief crew members. Assisting as requested in repairs of other ships and base facilities. Ships force carrying out routine up-keep, and training of personnel.

On the 5h of July Fulton received from the CINCPAC, mailgram 050549, July, establishing TASK GROUP 7.1, Captain Roper, (Commander Submarine Squadron Eight). USS Fulton, USS Anderson, USS Russell, ordered to depart Pearl Harbor at 1700 GCT July 8th, 1942, proceed to Midway Island. Anderson and Russell as escorts and to return to Pearl upon completion of escort duty, Fulton to remain at Midway to tend submarines and assist in establishing shore based submarine facilities.

The next couple of days activities consisted of preparations for getting underway, and we received on board numerous passengers, officers and enlisted, including 26 officers and 302 enlisted men of Submarine Repair Unit, Pearl Harbor, Commander W. V. O'Regan, USN commanding officer. Received a CINCPAC dispatch 071929 deleting the USS Russell from task group 7.1.

At 0720 Fulton is underway for Midway with the USS Anderson as escort, first proceeding to operating areas for target practice for all gun crews. At 1347 completed targets practice and set base course for Midway 280° true. Zig-zagging, standard speed 17 knots, followed along route 60 miles south of island chain.

On the l2th of July at 0620, 1942, sighted the water tower on Midway, at 0750 received harbor pilot and at 0755 entered Midway harbor and moored to the dock, starboard side to. Immediately commenced discharging passengers and cargo to the dock. On the 18th of July Fulton shifted berths and moored to a buoy in the lagoon. From this location we tended ships and submarines needing voyage repairs and upkeep until we departed on 17 October, for Pearl Harbor.

Men and ships lost:
United States
Casualties 307 2,500
Carriers 1 4
Heavy Cruisers 0 1
Destroyers 1 0
Aircraft 147 332

At Midway the Japanese lost or left behind a naval air force that had been the terror of the Pacific -- an elite force, an overwhelming force that would never again come back and spread destruction and fear as it had over the first six months of the war. "This was the great meaning of the Incredible Victory at Midway".

It had a stimulating effect on the morale of the American fighting forces; ... it stopped the Japanese expansion to the east; it put an end to Japanese offensive action which had been all conquering for the first six months of the war; it restored the balance of naval power in the Pacific which thereafter steadily shifted to favor the American side; and it removed the threat to Hawaii and to the west coast of the United States. Thus it was that the Japanese were forced to a defensive role.

This was the ultimate meaning. At Midway the United States laid aside the shield and picked up the sword, and through all the engagements to follow, never again yielded the strategic offensive.

Sources used for this document:
1) Miracle At Midway (Book) Author; Gordon W. Prange
2) Incredible Victory (Book) Author; Walter Lord
3) Yamamoto (Book) Author; Edwin P. Hoyt
4) USS Fulton 50th Anniversary (Book) Publisher; Turner
5) USS Fulton, War Diary (June 1942) Office of Naval Records and Library
6) Personal notes & recollections Charles J. Meyer Jr. HTCM, USN, Retired
7) Fulton Bow Plane (Cruise books) For 1942, 1943, and 1944
8) The Battle of Midway 50th Anniversary Commemorative Yearbook

All pictures are official US Navy photographs (except the I68 as noted) - and all are from the United States National Archives.

Mr. Meyer's story is copyright © 1999 Charles J. Meyer Jr., - used with Mr. Meyer's kind permission. No portion of his story may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Charles J. Meyer.
All other text, images and content of this page copyright © 1999 Common Cents Computers. No portion of this electronic document nor images it contains may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Common Cents Computers.
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