Pearl Harbor Attack: USS Henley (DD-391) Action Report

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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

USS Henley, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack


  U.S.S. HENLEY (391)  
DD391/A16
Serial 038
   
Pearl Harbor, T.H.
December 15, 1941.

From: Commanding Officer.
To: Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet.
 
Subject: Offensive measures during air raid on Pearl Harbor, T.H., December 7, 1941.
 
Reference: (a) CinC,Pac.Flt. despatch 102102 Dec., 1941.

  1. At 0755 December 7, 1941, the following conditions existed aboard this vessel:

    1. Through error of the gangway watch in calling crew to quarters for muster at 0755 the GENERAL ALARM was sounded instead of the gas alarm which was customary.

    2. As a result of (a) above, the crew and officers on board were "on the move."

    3. All of the crew were in the general vicinity of the fantail and they saw first torpedo plane attack on the Utah.

    4. The upper handling room on 5" gun No. 2 still had ready service ammunition (25 rounds) stored there due to a material casualty of the lower ammunition hoist for that gun. The ammunition was so placed during the preceding operating period. Repairs were to have been undertaken on this day.

    5. No awnings were spread.

    6. None of the armament, other than the hoist mentioned in (d) above, was out of commission.

  2. Upon realization that torpedoes dropped from planes aimed at the Utah did not constitute a target practice, the crew proceeded to their battle stations while the general alarm sounded for a second time. The "Rising Sun" emblem was plainly visible about the center of the fuselage of the black planes. Members of the repair party proceeded to set material condition "Afirm" in accordance with ship doctrine. Word was sent to the engine room to make immediate preparations for getting underway. By the time this word arrived, lube oil pumps had already been started and the fire room had been instructed to open by-passes and get up steam.

  3. The time required to fire the first gun is not known exactly, but the 5" gun No. 2, mentioned in the first paragraph, was one of the first, if not the first, medium caliber gun to fire. Early targets were light bombers in irregular formation at an altitude of about 17,000 feet on an apparently steady northerly course, approaching from seaward and passing over Ford Island. The majority of attacking planes were all east of Ford Island. At 0830 this vessel was underway from Buoy X-11. While slipping the chain to the buoy a large bomb intended for the nest struck the water about 150 yards on the port bow. After clearing the nest a signal, "submarine in harbor" was received. The MacDonough, directly ahead, proceeded to make a depth charge attack and then cleared channel at high speed. This vessel was the third ship to sortie. After rounding Hospital Point the ship was subjected to a straffing attack by a light bomber coming up from astern showing five distinct sources of machine gun fire from the plane. This plane was taken under fire by .50 caliber machine guns at close range. Machine Gun No. 2 is given credit for bringing down this plane for as it passed ahead of the ship smoke and flames issued from the fuselage and the plane was seen to crash offshore. A few minutes later, while this ship was still in the channel another light bomber approaching from the starboard hand, flying about 2000 feet altitude, was taken under fire jointly with a destroyer in Sector No. 1. A close burst forced this plane into a dive from which he was unable to pull out and this plane likewise crashed at sea. Upon arriving at the sea buoys, this vessel proceeded to the outer edge of Sector 2 and thence to Sector 3 to patrol the area as ordered. While enroute through sector 2 a fairly certain sound contact was made, close aboard to port. Sound contact was lost bearing abeam distant about 200 yards. After a hard left turn two depth charges were dropped. No visible surface results were apparent. About 1030 a visual signal from the Trever reported that the Henley Captain and Executive Officer were aboard that vessel. About 1130, permission was obtained to pick up the Captain and the Trever was closed. While the Trever was steaming at five knots to stream her magnetic sweep this vessel took position ahead and streamed a life raft on a long piece of manila line. The Captain and the Executive Officer, Lieutenant H.G. Corey, U.S. Navy, jumped from the Trever and got aboard the life raft, then aboard the Henley.

  4. LOSSES -- DAMAGE: No losses or injuries were experienced with any personnel. The only damage occurring to the ship was the result of straffing attack in the channel. During this attack three machine gun bullets struck and penetrated the director shield. No other damage resulted. The forecastle shows evidence at several places where bullets ricocheted from the deck. Considerable difficulty was experienced with the control circuit relays from the QCB equipment. These kept coming open as a result of gun fire. These relays were gagged to keep them in. When an opportunity was available relays were adjusted so as not to open so freely.

  5. DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT OF PERSONNEL: Al enlisted personnel conducted themselves in a manner which left absolutely nothing to be desired. Chief Machinist's Mate, W.H. Fiddler, F-4-D, U.S.N., while preparing to muster the engineering department, saw the first torpedoes launched and proceeded to make preparations for getting underway without further orders. G.T. Dukes, BM2c., U.S.N., gun captain gun No. 2, had his gun loaded with a projectile set with dive bombing fuse setting and pointed at the attacking aircraft before phone communication was established with the director. He reported ready to commence firing, awaiting only orders to do so. D.J. SEELY, GM3c., U.S.N., gunner for machine gun No. 2, is credited with the bringing down of the plane making the straffing attack. Chief Quartermaster M.O. Nelson, U.S.N., rendered invaluable assistance in piloting clear of the harbor. He performed his duties in a calm, collected, and highly efficient manner. During the sortie and the three days at sea afterwards, M.H. TAPLEY, RM1c., U.S.N., worked day and night almost continuously to keep the radio and sound equipment in excellent material condition and rendered valuable assistance in communications. All five of the ship's reserve officers were on board and performed the duties formerly assigned to regular officers in a highly efficient manner. Lieutenant F.E. Fleck, Jr., U.S.N., was commanding officer of the Henley at the time the air raid commenced. The manner in which he got the ship underway and fought the enemy during the sortie of the Henley is worthy of special commendation. The seamanlike manner in which he picked up his Captain and Executive Officer at sea is greatly appreciated.

ROBERT HALL SMITH

Copy to:


  U.S.S. HENLEY (391)  
DD391    
Pearl Harbor, T.H.
December 30, 1941.

From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet.
 
Subject: Additional Information required by Comdesbatfor mailgram (conf) 130143 of December 1941 re: Pearl Harbor action, Sunday December 7.

  1. The following additional information not already reported in the report of this vessel's action on Sunday, December 7, 1941, is submitted herewith:

    1. Ship's berth -- X-11.

    2. Nested with port side clear alongside Ralph Talbot and Patterson, bow north.

    3. Direction of ship's head -- 025°.

    4. Location of Japanese planes seen to crash -- during the early part of the action, at least three planes were observed in flames falling from high altitudes towards what appeared the Navy Yard-Hickam Field area. While proceeding out of the channel two planes were observed to crash -- one about 500 yards off Keahi Point and one about one mile off that same point, the first as a result of .50 caliber machine gun fire from this vessel during a straffing attack and the second as a result of 5" fire jointly by this vessel and a destroyer patrolling in Sector I.

[signed]
ROBERT HALL SMITH

Copy to:


Source: World War II action reports, Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.
09/02/2003