Newspaper account of USS Laffey at Guadalcanal

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Newspaper account of USS Laffey at Guadalcanal - STAR-GAZETTE- I the 12 on the of less in for...
STAR-GAZETTE- I the 12 on the of less in for David vs. Goliath .." " U. S Laffey Torpedoed Battleship, Silenced 2 Other Jap Warships, Blew Up Big Destroyer of Vi 8 6 i oy San Francisco (AP) At the height of a violent sea battle in the --Solomons, the huge gray hulk of a Jap battleship came slashing through the darkness, her engines driving her at a speed of close to 25 knots. In her path was the audacious USS Laffey, the first of a swift new series of destroyers. The captain of the Laffey, Lt. Com. W. E. Hank of Norfolk, Va., and her crew, were set for a kill that night. A few minutes earlier they had silenced the guns of a Jap cruiser. But th'3 was bigger game. The report of the 12th Naval District told Tuesday of the sea " epic, of the battle that raged Nov. 12 and 13. The Laffey rocketed straight at the vast shape of the Jap bat-tlewagon, her engines racing at "emergency full." When the range was right Commander Hank let go with a salvo of torpedoes. But the Laffey was moving almost as fast as the torpedoes. And it was clear that with both ships heading at full-speed for the same square yard of ocean, the destroyer was going to be there first. But by how much? Every man held his breath. The Navy report said "as the bows crossed, an alert Jap on the forward deck could have tossed a hand grenade onto the deck of the destroyer." The margin was just over 10 feet. But the racing Laffey got clear in time. It appeared that two of the torpedoes hit the battleship. And then, as a parting insult, the Laffey's four 5-inch guns were turned on the battleship's massive superstructure, focused on the bridge. The bridge appeared literally to pulverize and blow away. "It was shot completely off the ship," the Navy stated. The battleship started blazing away with secondary guns she couldn't depress her larger bat teries far enough as the Laffey widened the range. Then the little destroyer found herself in deeper trouble. She had separated from 'her companion ships and was surrounded by the enemy. There was a battleship on her stern, a second on her port beam, and two large Jap destroyers on the port bow. The Laffey and the two Jap destroyers opened fire simultaneously. The Laffey put one Jap out of action' and left her burning briskly. But the other put a torpedo into our ship, and got a fair hit on the Laffey's deck. The Laffey still had three oi her 5-inch guns working, and turned them on the remaining Jap destroyer, in a no-quarter duel at point blank range. Damage to both ships was tremendous. One after another the Laffey's guns were silenced. Finally she was down to a single big gun. But she kept on fighting. The Jap destroyer tried to creep away. But she exploded and sank. The Laffey was left alone on the darkened .sea. But she was a sorry sight of a ship, with all her guns silenced and a bad fire out of .control. Then the Jap battleship whose bridge had been shot away straddled the Laffey with a salvo of 14-inch-ers. The destroyer was almost swamped by the splash. The fire was burning without hope of recovery. The wounded men were put on life rafts; the others in life jackets. Commander Hank gave orders to abandon ship. Commander Hank and three other officers were on deck forward. A medical officer was bringing up the last wounded man from sick bay. A violent explosion ripped the Laffey apart. The medical officer was trapped below; the captain was never seen again. The Laffey sank immediately. To ed

Clipped from
  1. Star-Gazette,
  2. 13 Jan 1943, Wed,
  3. Page 15

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  • Newspaper account of USS Laffey at Guadalcanal

    staff_reporter – 26 Oct 2017

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