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USS Thornton, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack

Serial 520
U.S.S. Thornton (AVD-11)  
    Pearl Harbor, T.H.
December 17, 1941.



From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Engagement, report of, December 7, 1941.
Reference: (a) US Navy Regulations, Art. 874.
(b) CinCPacFlt Conf. Dispatch 102102 of December 1941.
  1. U.S.S. Thornton was moored port side to dock at berth S-1, Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, T.H. The following officers were on board: Ensign J.S. BURNS, jr., D-V(G), U.S.N.R., Gunnery Officer and First Lieutenant; Ensign I.D. PUTMAN, D-V(G), U.S.N.R., Communication Officer; Ensign H.T. McCABE, E-M, U.S.N.R., Engineer Officer; Ensign J.H. LEONARD, E-V(G), U.S.N.R., Stores Officer. Eighty five percent of the crew were on board.
  2. At 0756 attack by Japanese aircraft commenced; general alarm was sounded immediately and all hands went to air defense stations. Stations manned were as follows:



    Control, Machine gun Battery Control, Repair, and the following pieces:
    4 - .50 caliber machine guns.
    3 - .30 caliber Lewis machine guns.
    3 - .30 caliber Browning automatic rifles.
    12 - .30 caliber Springfield rifles.


    This represents the Air Defense Bill effective on this vessel to employ all pieces including landing force allowances, in case of air attack.

  3. At 0758 commenced firing with .50 caliber machine gun battery followed immediately by other weapons as listed above. At 0810 first dive bombing attack ended. At 0910 second dive bombing attack commenced. At 0917 second dive bombing attack ended. Throughout the entire period there was horizontal bombing in various Pearl Harbor areas.
  4. One enemy torpedo plane was shot down in mid-channel between Submarine Base and Officers' Club landing by combined fire of .50 caliber machine guns of Thornton and Hulbert. This plane burst into flames and fell into the water. The torpedo fell clear, but was not launched.
  5. Neosho was shifted berth from Fox 4 to Mike 3 when second dive bombing attack commenced. Neosho proceeded to berth Mike 3 as Sumner, Hulbert, and Thornton directed fire at planes appearing to make attack on her. Two attacking planes turned away when put under fire; the third plane strafed personnel on the Fleet Landing at Merry Point.
  6. All planes attacking in vicinity of this vessel were torpedo planes excepting the three seen to attack the Neosho. These appeared to be light bombers or fighters. They only fired machine guns at the Neosho. There were about eighteen torpedo planes attacking the battleships from the Merry point channel area near this vessel. These torpedo planes were seen to approach from over the Merry point landing and level off at between twenty-five and fifty feet altitude. Torpedoes were launched at the battleships from points opposite the Submarine Base to points opposite Kuahua Island.
  7. Fifteen horizontal bombers flying at an estimated eight thousand feet altitude were seen to bomb Hickam Field and the battleships. These planes were flying in Vee formation with five planes in each group. Dive bombers were seen attacking area near Pennsylvania in angles between 65 and 75 degrees. These planes came in from the Northwest and Southeast almost simultaneously.
  8. There were no material or personnel casualties suffered by this vessel. The performance of all personnel as very creditable. All hands manned their stations rapidly and kept the enemy under fire at all times when within range. The efforts of all were well co-ordinated and no one man is deserving of special credit.
  9. Ammunition expended was as follows:

    6000 rounds .50 caliber.
    2000 rounds .30 caliber.

[signed] W.F. KLINE.


    Compatwing Two 

    Source: Enclosure (E) to CINCPAC action report Serial 0479 of 15 February 1942, World War II action reports,
    Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.


Published: Wed Mar 14 09:14:01 EDT 2018