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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
USS Henley, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack
U.S.S. Henley (391)
Pearl Harbor, T.H.
December 15, 1941.
Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet.
Offensive measures during air raid on Pearl Harbor, T.H., December
(a) CinC,Pac.Flt. despatch 102102 Dec., 1941.
- At 0755 December 7, 1941, the following conditions existed
aboard this vessel:
- 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.
- As a result of (a) above, the crew and officers on board
were "on the move."
- All of the crew were in the general vicinity of the fantail
and they saw first torpedo plane attack on the Utah.
- 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.
- No awnings were spread.
- None of the armament, other than the hoist mentioned in (d)
above, was out of commission.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 wit 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
Source: Enclosure (E) to CINCPAC
action report Serial 0479 of 15 February 1942, World War II
the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration,
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.