Quincy III (CA-71)
The third U.S. Navy ship named for the city in Massachusetts, and also to perpetuate the name after the Japanese sank the second Quincy, a heavy cruiser (CA-39), during the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August 1942.
(CA-71: displacement 13,600; length 673'5"; beam 70'10"; draft 20'6"; speed 33 knots; complement 1,142; armament 9 8-inch, 12 5-inch, 48 40 millimeter, 24 20 millimeter; aircraft 2 Vought OS2U-3 Kingfishers; class Baltimore)
The third Quincy was authorized as a heavy cruiser (CA-71) on 17 June 1940; and laid down by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass., as St. Paul on 9 October 1941.
“The loss of the [second] United States cruiser Quincy,” Mayor Thomas S. Burgin of Quincy wrote to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on 13 October 1942, “is keenly felt by the citizens of this city for which the ship was named. Maintaining the traditions of the United States Navy, our ship went down fighting during the fierce attack on the Solomon Island. She had made a distinctive record for herself since being built here at the Fore River Shipyard. Acting in behalf of our 80,000 citizens, I earnestly suggest that you authorize one of the new heavy cruisers being built at the Fore River plant in Quincy to be named Quincy as a tribute to the officers and men of the Navy who were lost on the Quincy and also in honor of this great shipbuilding city of Quincy and the only city in the United States in which two presidents were born [John Adams and John Quincy Adams]. The spirit of Quincy will never die and we hope that the new cruiser Quincy may avenge the loss of its predecessor and be a definite factor in defeating the Axis Powers.”
St. Paul was consequently renamed Quincy on 16 October 1942; launched on 23 June 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Catherine F.L. Morgan (née Adams) -- who sponsored the second Quincy -- daughter of former Secretary of the Navy Charles F. Adams III; and was commissioned on 23 June 1943, at Naval Drydock, South Boston, Mass., Capt. Elliot M. Senn in command.
Quincy completed fitting out in No. 3 Graving Dock at Boston through the end of the year, and on New Year’s Eve shifted to Pier 1E. The ship performed a brief sortie in conjunction with fitting out on 28 January 1944, when, accompanied by destroyer Quick (DD-490) and a blimp, she set out to “swing ship” for compass compensation in the area of Humaroch, Whistle Buoy No. 4. Quincy returned to Pier 1-W to continue fitting out.
The heavy cruiser reported for duty to the Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, on 2 February 1944, and was assigned to Task Force (TF) 27.1. Quick escorted Quincy as the new warship turned her prow to sea and headed southward for training, initially in Chesapeake Bay. The ship fired her guns for the first time during structural firing tests the following day, and shot 27 8-inch, 24 5-inch, and 480 each 20 and 40 millimeter rounds. Quincy released Quick when they entered Chesapeake Bay on the morning of 4 February.
Quincy carried out a variety of tests during the succeeding days in (north–south) Areas Able, Baker, Charlie, and Dog, including day and night spotting practice on a moored target sled, general drills, checking directors, tactical exercises, radar calibration, radio direction finding calibration and training with planes for gunnery spotting. Reduced visibility compelled the ship to anchor on the morning and afternoon of 6 February, and four days later Grumman F4F Wildcats flew a simulated attack against the ship to help train her gunners to repel aerial assaults.
The ship went alongside Pier 2 at Naval Operating Base (NOB) Norfolk, Va., during the forenoon watch on the 13th. Rear Adm. Donald B. Beary, Commander, Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, inspected her at 1000. At 1500 the commanding officers of light cruiser Miami (CL-89), and two vessels of Destroyer Division 35, Capt. Harry Sanders in command, Carmick (DD-493) and Doyle (DD-494), reported for duty, thus forming Task Group (TG) 27.1, Capt. Senn in command. Beary then held a group conference on board the flagship.
Quincy chartered southerly courses as the ship set for her shakedown cruise in the Caribbean on 14 February 1944. At 0402 the following day, Miami reported that S2c Leonard S. Dera fell overboard while the ships fought heavy seas, and she dropped out of formation to search for him. Carmick faithfully screened Miami and joined the search until the cruiser called off the effort at 0520 and they returned to the formation. The powerful swells compelled the cruisers to drop to 17 knots to spare the destroyers harm, and at 1250 Miami reported another man overboard, only to discover him still among the ship’s company. Quincy anchored in Berth D-3 at NOB Port of Spain, Trinidad, in the British West Indies, during the first watch on 18 February. As the other ships stood in to the anchorage that night, TG 27.1 dissolved.
The ships trained in the Gulf of Paria, between Trinidad and Venezuela, during the next few days. Miami ran aground in the southwest corner of Area F-5 in the gulf briefly during the first and second dog watches on the 19th. Quincy proceeded to that area and stood by and anchored until the cruiser was refloated. Carmick, Doyle, Endicott (DD-495), and McCook (DD-496), screened Quincy on some of the days as she completed a variety of tests including firing at towed sleeves. Additional ships worked up in the area at times including aircraft carrier Wasp (CV-18), small aircraft carrier San Jacinto (CVL-30), and Houston (CL-81).
A detachment of six of Quincy’s officers boarded San Jacinto and observed flight operations on 28 February. San Jacinto embarked the planes of Carrier Air Group 51 — Grumman F6F-3 Hellcats of Fighting Squadron (VF) 51, and Eastern TBM-1C Avengers of Torpedo Squadron (VT) 51. The pilots and aircrewmen of VT-51 who honed their skills included Ens. George H.W. Bush, USNR, the future 41st President of the United States.
As Quincy’s crew improved their battle skills their evaluators ran them through increasingly challenging drills, including simulated enemy aerial attacks. The ship also practiced refueling at sea when she ran along the port side of oiler Aucilla (AO-56) while headed into the wind at nine knots on 2 March. Later that day she alternated with Miami as the two vessels took turns taking each other in tow to gain experience in that potentially dangerous endeavor.
Capt. Senn took an improvised task group, consisting of Quincy, Miami, Baldwin (DD-624), and Thompson (DD-627), to the waters off Culebra Island, P.R., for a series of exercises (3–4 March). Both cruisers carried out full power trials the first day and Quincy reached a full power of 33 knots (1145–1745), and then her crew put the ship through a crash back — the time from 32.6 knots ahead to dead in the water covered two minutes, nine seconds, over a distance run of 1,210 yards. The warship also backed at full power for five minutes, and shifted from full left to full right rudder during her trials. While steaming in the area south of Virgin Passage the next day, Quincy refueled Thompson and Miami refueled Baldwin.
The cruisers then practiced shore bombardment against the northwest end of Culebra, spotted by their embarked aircraft — Quincy and Miami each of the cruisers operated a pair of Vought OS2U-3 Kingfishers. The ships then turned their prows northward for home, and often launched their planes to search ahead of their tracks for U-boats (German submarines). They exchanged call signs with an Allied convoy on a northwesterly course on the 6th, and the following day battled heavy seas and 20 knot winds as they rounded the Virginia capes. The foul weather reduced visibility and the sea return cluttered radar, so that Quincy experienced difficulty identifying buoys as she navigated through the channel and anchored at Berth 22 in Hampton Roads, Va., at 1552 on 7 March. Miami anchored in Berth 23, and the escorts to their berths at the NOB.
Quincy was assigned administratively to Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 10, which also comprised Boston (CA-69), Baltimore (CA-68), and Canberra (CA-70). She did not normally operate with her heavy cruiser sisters, however, and continued a grueling regimen of training. The ship initially embarked two OS2U-3 Kingfishers of Cruiser Scouting Squadron (VCS) 10.
Rear Adm. Beary broke his flag in Quincy as he inspected the ship and her readiness for war (10–11 March). The cruiser’s historian reported that the admiral commented on “the fine appearance of the officers, the ship’s company, and the ship, and the efficient performance of all drills,” which made her an “outstanding ship.” Beary hauled down his flag and shifted to gunboat Williamsburg (PG-56), and Quincy then (11–12 March) fired at a target drone off Cape May, N.J, which her 5-inch guns finally brought down on the second day of shooting. Baldwin escorted Quincy as the ship made for South Boston, where she berthed at Pier 5 at Naval Drydock for an availability (13–27 March). The commanding officer granted the port watch a welcome five days leave, and workers completed a number of projects, including the installation of Loran DAS-1 radio navigation equipment.
Quincy sailed in company with Satterlee (DD-626) and Thompson for Hussey Sound in Casco Bay, Maine, on 28 March 1944. There, the new warship was assigned to TF 22, Rear Adm. Morton L. Deyo in command. A number of ships operated in the area at times including battleships led by Rear Adm. Carleton F. Bryant, Commander, Battleship Division (BatDiv) 5: Arkansas (BB-33), Nevada (BB-36), New York (BB-34), and Texas (BB-35); Tuscaloosa (CA-37); and a variety of escorts, minesweepers, and yard and district craft; as well as British frigate Bahamas (K.503). During the following days, Quincy prepared for war and carried out evolutions that included shore bombardment against Seal Island and daylight and nighttime antiaircraft practice. The ship returned to Pier 1-W at Boston Navy Yard for an availability (10–16 April).
Quincy next reported to TG 23.9, Rear Adm. J. Carey Jones Jr., who broke his flag in destroyer tender Denebola (AD-12), and continued training out of Casco Bay. The ship marked multiple highlights during the rigorous training including: reaching 30 knots on two boilers for a half hour on 18 April; several fighter direction exercises; and illumination practice with Murphy (DD-603) and Coast Guard sea going buoy tender Cactus (WLB-270) on the evening of the 20th. Some F6F-3 Hellcats and TBM-1D Avengers of Observation Fighting Squadron (VOF) 1 spotted the ship’s gunfire as she bombarded Seal Island on several occasions; she took part in a fighter direction scenario involving “window” [clouds of small, thin pieces of aluminum wire or similar material — chaff] on the 25th; and on 30 April got underway with a single hour’s notice to test the efficiency of the watch at that evolution. Quincy returned to Pier 1-F at Naval Drydock, South Boston, at 1620 on 4 May.
Trippe (DD-403) and Wainwright (DD-419) escorted Quincy as the ship set her prow eastward to join TG 27.10 and cross the North Atlantic to British waters (5–14 May 1944). The following morning the cruiser launched her Kingfishers to scout ahead for U-boats, and the trio rendezvoused with the task group at 0545 on 6 May. Capt. Albert C. Murdaugh, Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 17, broke his flag in Nelson (DD-623) in command of the group, which also comprised Butler (DD-636), Gherardi (DD-637), Glennon (DD-620), Herndon (DD-638), Jeffers (DD-621), Murphy, Plunkett (DD-431), and Shubrick (DD-639), ammunition ship Mount Baker (AE-4), minelayer Miantonomah (CM-10), and Chiwawa (AO-68). Quincy detached the destroyers and joined the group, which steered 073°T (all bearings are given in True) at a speed of advance of 13.5 knots.
Butler made what her sonar team considered a “reliable” sound contact (2017–2215 on the 8th), and Shubrick joined her as the two ships depth charged the apparent U-boat, but the elusive intruder escaped. The undersea menace continued, however, as U-boats prowled the Atlantic. Allied cryptanalysts countered by obtaining signals intelligence and breaking enemy encrypted radio and teleprinter communications, and one minute after noon on 11 May the British Admiralty signaled the group to alter course. The ships did so at 1230, and their new route took them to the south of the area where the cryptanalysts believed U-boats operated and they avoided the submarine threat. The Admiralty sent a similar signal during the forenoon watch on the 12th, and at 0920 the ships again altered course accordingly.
Quincy made landfall on Achill Head, Ireland, at 0517 on 14 May 1944, and at 0635, the cruiser, Glennon, and Murphy received orders to detach and proceed independently. The ships left the formation and chartered a course for Tory Island [Toraigh], rounded the northern Irish coast navigating off Inishtrahull [Inis Trá Tholl], passed through the North Channel, and at 1550 Quincy anchored in Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland.
The warship reported by dispatch on 16 May 1944 to the Twelfth Fleet’s TF 122 Western Naval Task Force, a command led by Rear Adm. Alan G. Kirk. Quincy’s Aviation Unit, Lt. Cmdr. William Denton Jr., transferred to the British Royal Naval Air Station at Lee-on-Solent, England, for training in gunnery spotting in Supermarine Spitfires, on 18 May 1944.
At 1020 on 19 May 1944, Kirk accompanied Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, USA, when the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, inspected the ship’s company in Belfast Lough. British Rear Adm. Richard H.L. Bevan, RN, Flag Officer-in-Charge Belfast, Rear Adm. Deyo, Commander, TF 129, and a group of other officers and aides also accompanied the general. After their inspection, Eisenhower addressed the crew:
“Officers and men of the Quincy, I am proud to be on this ship today. I have been in the European area for a year and a half and during that period I have been on British men of war several times where I have been received with greatest courtesy and expressions of good will. Although I enjoyed those visits, I have looked forward with eagerness to the time when I could be on board one of the warships of our own fleet. Today I have that opportunity for the first time. I am more than proud to visit your magnificent ship.
Perhaps you would like to know something about our operations in the Mediterranean at least insofar as combined operations are concerned. Each branch of the service know what it could do, but the Army and the Air Force have found that they could not get along without the Navy. We have discovered that each branch reaches its maximum efficiency when cooperating with the others. The Army and the Air Force are more than glad to have the Navy on the team, and we know the Navy is glad to be a part of it.
I congratulate you again on this magnificent ship. As I walked her decks today, I found myself wishing that I had earlier in my career decided to follow the sea.
I am looking forward to the day when we can be together again and have a big party in some port deep in the Baltic or North Sea — some port which the enemy now claims as his own.
Good luck to you all.”
Eisenhower departed and visited Tuscaloosa, and at 1430 left for Bangor, Northern Ireland. Quincy stood out of Belfast Lough for the Clyde Estuary at 0700 on 20 May 1944, and at 1150 anchored in Berth B-4 at Greenock, Scotland, to begin special training in shore bombardment. Capt. Senn attended a conference held by British Rear Adm. Sir Richard A.S. Hill, RN, Flag Officer-in-Charge Greenock, and the commanding officers of British light cruisers Ajax (22), Orion (85), and Sirius (82), Polish light cruiser Dragon, and the British 40th Minesweeping Flotilla on the 21st. The following day, Senn received Operation Plan No. 2-44 on West Two of the task force, which directed the ship to support the Allied invasion of German-occupied Normandy, France. Quincy joined Ajax, Orion, Sirius, and Dragon for an exercise in Kilbrannan Sound, Scotland, on the 23rd, where planes of Royal Air Force (RAF) No. 516 Squadron flying from Dundonald Air Station designated the targets. British minesweeper Tattoo (J.374) swept the route ahead of Quincy as she returned and anchored in B-7 at Greenock.
Following the gunnery training, Quincy turned back for Belfast Lough (0515–1024 on 25 May 1944), where she anchored and received Operation Order 3-44 on West Three. The order directed her to make the final preparations for the invasion of Europe under Deyo’s command as part of TG 125.8, Bombardment Group, Fire Support Unit 1, Assault Force U, Rear Adm. Donald P. Moon, part of Kirk’s Western Task Force. Rear Adm. Moon broke his flag in command ship Bayfield (APA-33), and Deyo initially flew his flag from Tuscaloosa. Quincy and her consorts were to support the landings by the U.S. First Army’s VII Corps, Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, USA, in command, which would land the 4th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Raymond O. Barton, USA, on Utah Beach along the Baie de la Seine.
The ship’s historian reported that she was primarily directed “to approach to within 5,000 yards, deliver a drenching fire on the landing beach and breach a sea wall that presented an obstacle to egress of both men and vehicles.” Quincy was to shoot at the enemy’s beach defenses, and when the first wave of assault boats neared the shore they would fire a black smoke rocket, at which signal the ship was to shift fire to selected flank targets.
The Admiralty arranged to stow large caliber ammunition in lighters and ammunition ships so that it would be readily available to supply the fire support ships. Planners generally made one refill of main battery ammunition available for battleships and destroyers, and two refills for cruisers. The Allies held 14-inch, 12-inch, 8-inch, and 5-inch rounds in Plymouth, England, and 8-inch and 5-inch shells in Portland and Southampton. Nitro (AE-2) carried the majority of the heavy projectiles while she lay at Plymouth. Small caliber ammunition for landing craft was available at all bases on the south coast and small Admiralty ammunition ships were to carry some of the antiaircraft ammunition, depth charges, and smoke material to the assault area.
Quincy set out with Bombardment Force A for training exercises on 30 May 1944, but reduced visibility compelled the ships to return to Belfast Lough. As the time drew closer to the landings the Allies increased their security, and that afternoon they “sealed” all the ships in the task group and placed them on four hours sailing notice. Crewmen could only go ashore on “necessary official trips” and officers were to accompany them at all times.
Quincy took part in a naval gunfire support exercise in Dundrum Bay, Northern Ireland, with other ships of the bombardment group including Nevada, Tuscaloosa, British light cruisers Enterprise (D.52) and Hawkins (D.86), British antiaircraft cruiser Black Prince (81), and Butler, Gherardi, Herndon, and Shubrick (1000 on 31 May–0951 on 1 June). At 1700 Senn attended a conference with Deyo on board Tuscaloosa, at which he received information that H-Hour for D-Day would be 0600 on 5 June — the captain also received Movement Order 4-44. Richard L. Strout, War Correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, embarked on board the ship for passage to the impending battle. The captain briefed the officers and chief petty officers concerning the landings, on the afternoon of the 2nd.
At 0800 on 3 June 1944, Quincy stood down the channel in company with Tuscaloosa, British light cruisers Bellona (63), Enterprise, Glasgow (C.21), and Hawkins, Black Prince, and Butler, Gherardi, Herndon, and Murphy for the landings. The ship’s company mustered at 0900 and Senn read them Eisenhower’s message to the “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!” The captain then added a brief message of his own, and the cruiser continued to cross the Irish Sea by southerly courses toward the English Channel.
The weather turned foul, however, and heavy seas and high winds plagued Allied vessels, and low clouds prevented aircraft from identifying many of their targets. “The outlook was not very good,” British Adm. Sir Bertram H. Ramsay, RN, Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief, Expeditionary Force, summarized to the Admiralty in a report on 16 October 1944, “and it deteriorated further during the next three days.” Quincy recorded that “a high overcast set in about 0600 [on the 4th], and the barometer commenced to fall steadily at that time. By evening the wind was southwest, 25 knots, accompanied by intermittent rain and reduced visibility.”
Despite the likelihood that ordering the ships to come about would fatigue the assault troops and sailors, as well as increase the possibility that the Germans might detect the invasion armada, planners reluctantly decided during the morning watch on 4 June 1944 to postpone the landings for 24 hours. The recall orders reached the ships of Force U as they plunged into heavy swells, and Quincy received her directive at 0800 on the 4th. That morning the vessels laboriously swept round and punched into a head sea as they returned to Weymouth Bay.
The stormy weather scattered some of the landing craft and the conditions vexed planners, who feared that they might have to postpone the landings until the next full moon. Ramsay reported that when Kirk learned about the possible delay he said, “with characteristic verve,” that they should resume the landings on schedule. Meteorologists meanwhile forecast a brief break in the weather, and Eisenhower momentously decided to proceed. “At 2200 [on the 4th],” Quincy recorded, the barometer started to rise and the weather began to clear; the wind continued at 25 knots from the west-southwest.”
Quincy sailed with the ships that screened Assault Convoy U1A overnight from the Solent to the Western Naval Task Force Area. Glasgow, Bellona, and Murphy detached as previously directed off Falmouth, England, at 0745 on 5 June 1944, and at 0803 Tuscaloosa slid into station astern of Quincy. During the forenoon watch the remaining ships of the group formed into a column ahead (in order): Enterprise, Hawkins, Nevada, Quincy, Tuscaloosa, and Black Prince.
Occasional showers and high winds at first confronted the ships but the weather began to clear within the hour. “The sky is overcast,” war correspondent Strout noted. “The sea is lead-colored but quiet. There is hardly any wind.”
Bayfield, with Rear Adm. Moon embarked, joined the ships at the head of the column at 1120, along with escort ship Rich (DE-695) and motor torpedo boat PT-199. Hobson (DD-464) and O’Brien (DD-725), attack transports Barnett (APA-5) and Joseph T. Dickman (APA-13), British infantry landing ship Empire Gauntlet (F.123), and submarine chasers PC-1176, PC-1261, and SC-530, joined the column ahead (not in order) off Plymouth at 1340. The ships passing through Channel No. 2, an approach lane swept clear of mines, and during the first dog watch Quincy overtook and passed some of the slower landing craft, barrage balloons often trailing overhead of the craft, but the smaller craft gradually caught-up as the cruiser slowed. Erebus (I.02) rendezvoused with the force at one point, following the British monitor’s sortie from Weymouth. “Our help is in the Lord,” Quincy’s chaplain solemnly prayed over the cruiser’s loudspeaker that evening at 1900 as she prepared for battle.
The warship sounded general quarters and the crew manned their battle stations at 2230 on 5 June 1944. The breeze freshened and during the mid watch lights suddenly flashed on the horizon and startled men as Allied planes bombed the enemy, and antiaircraft tracer rounds arched up toward them — and sometimes found their fiery mark. Some of the aircraft flew at lower altitudes while returning to their British airfields, showing their prearranged recognition signals. Quincy reached her initial battle position at 0300, and the landing craft closed up around her shortly thereafter. The crescendo of bombing increased until “the roar of planes is like an express train going over a viaduct,” Strout explained, adding that “the bombs on land are so near and so big I feel the concussions.” The ship stopped engines and anchored in ten fathoms of water at 0452, the light at île du Large bearing 224° at 4,400 yards.
A German shore battery emplaced near Fontenay-sur-Mer, which the Americans designated Target 13A (361/056), and which Lt. Cmdr. John R. Blackburn of the ship’s company described as a “small white blockhouse,” fired four salvoes at Quincy beginning at 0530 on 6 June 1944. “We heard a sharp “splat” off our starboard bow,” Blackburn recalled of the opening salvo, “and looked over to see three shells fall and explode about 1,000 yards away. We were the target of one of the shore batteries. Everyone looked at the other men with a mingled feeling of fear and excitement. I put on my helmet, and the rest of the lads followed suit. The next salvo of enemy projectiles landed even closer — only about 500 yards short this time. Instinctively, we all placed ourselves behind the three-quarter-inch armor shield around sky control, feeling a little sheepish as we did so.”
The 709th Bodenständige (Static) Infantry Division, Generalleutnant Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben, defended the area but it proved to be a division of limited mobility and comprised a mix of German soldiers, as well as Ost-Bataillone (eastern battalions) of Soviet émigrés of doubtful combat value. In addition, its 1,709th Artillery Regiment’s three battalions could theoretically turn a powerful arsenal against the attackers, but it fielded an array of German and captured Allied weapons including German 20 millimeter, 50 PAK 38 and 75 PAK 40, ex-Soviet 76.2, German 88, Czech 100, French 104 and 155, and German 150 millimeter sFH 18 guns, howitzers, antiaircraft guns, and antitank guns, that fired dissimilar ammunition and required different spare parts, which exacerbated German logistics issues.
Enemy fire from shore also proved ineffective because the Allies used smoke screens and radar countermeasures, including radar jamming, radar reflector balloons, and “window”-filled rockets and shells.
Quincy nonetheless got underway and shifted her position, and, because the Allies had not yet ordered her to initiate “counter battery plan Zebra,” Deyo gave her permission to engage the enemy. The ship hoisted her battle ensigns and at 0537 opened fire from a range of 16,000 yards from her station on the right flank of Utah Beach in the Baie de la Seine. Her gunners and many of the watchstanders stuffed cotton in their ears, but the noise proved all but deafening at times, and they could feel the heat from the blasts. Quincy shot 42 8-inch shells at the enemy battery and observers spotted hits in that area. The ship’s 5-inch guns also fired rapidly at selected beaches as the assault troops neared the shore.
The warship shifted fire to different targets throughout the day, blasting them with both her main and secondary batteries. Dense smoke began to obscure the area and the ship initially experienced some targeting difficulties with the 5-inch guns. Blackburn noted that the initial rounds threw up “columns of spray” as they fell into a swamp “on the other side of a neck of land.” The gunners corrected their shooting and the ship’s fire began to tell as she hurled 464 5-inch rounds against Target 70 (436992) and a “strong point” at Target 72 (438993). The main battery meanwhile at 0550 pounded Target No. 20, which intelligence analysts believed to be a German artillery headquarters, with 48 rounds. The ship’s heavy guns then (0610–0650) shifted fire and shot ten full 8-inch salvoes at Targets 70 and 72, while her secondary batteries lobbed 196 5-inch shells onto Target 78.
Strong currents pushed some of the U.S. 8th Infantry Regiment’s assault troops nearly half a mile to the southeast of their planned landing sector. The error proved fortunate when they discovered that the obstacles and defenses there lacked strength, and that the USAAF’s IX Bomber Command had plastered the defenders. Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the 4th Division’s assistant commander, decided to “start the war from right here” and directed the following waves to land behind them.
The landings did not pass without losses offshore, however, and at 0633 Corry (DD-463) hit a mine which exploded below her engineering spaces, and the ship lost power. Within minutes, she had broken amidships and water rose above her main deck. “It was heartbreaking to watch,” Strout observed. “The enemy fire splashes again and again. We shift our fire to knock off a battery.” A German position designated Target 86 repeatedly shot at the stricken destroyer. Quincy fired 53 white phosphorous rounds to lay a smoke screen between the shore and Corry to protect the stricken destroyer as her crew passed the order to abandon ship. Corry’s survivors struggled in the water for almost two hours under shelling until Butler, Fitch (DD-462), Hobson, and PT-199 rescued them. Six of Corry’s crewmen died, 16 were missing, and 33 injured.
Quincy’s 5-inch guns took Target 86 (399/045) under fire at 0721. Despite the apparent success at which the men stormed Utah Beach the fighting continued ashore, however, and the ship’s gun crews grew increasingly anxious because they could not establish secure communication with the assault waves. The rescuing vessels continued to search for Corry’s survivors in the English Channel and German gunners from two different batteries also shot at Fitch. Quincy’s 8-inch guns therefore shifted fire and sent six 8-inch rounds against Target 20 at 0805, while her 5-inch guns shot at 13A to cover Fitch.
“The ship shook from bow to stern until I bet there wasn’t a tight rivet throughout,” SN1c Robert G. Huggins of the Repair Division recalled. “But even more we felt the concussion from shells exploding in the water near us. It was a new, different sound, like a giant hand pounding at the bulkheads.”
“When it first started -- you see it was baptism of fire for many of us -- we couldn’t think much, there was so much noise and motion and tension. The air got stuffy and dust and dirt were shaken down on us, fumes from the guns set us coughing, and we got confused in our minds. Then we got sort of used to it, it lasted all week, you know.”
A spotting plane flew overhead at 0820, and ten minutes later the ship registered her first salvo on Target 3 (368/043), which the plane observed to be a battery of six ex-French 155s. Quincy poured it on and flung 42 rounds at the battery, and the pilot reported that her fire “neutralized” the howitzers. Shubrick reported dodging German salvoes from Target 3, however, and enemy fire hit PC-1261 (Lt. Rency F. Sewell Jr., USNR), starboard side midships, while the submarine chaser operated as a control ship for the Red sector beach. The craft, one of the vessels that sailed with Quincy and the column, sank, and PC-1176 (Lt. John B. Ricker Jr., USNR), continued to so operate off the Green sector but also relieved PC-1261, and dispatched assault waves and reinforcements for both beaches.
Quincy sounded an air raid alert at 0900 as spotters reported Luftwaffe (German Air Force) planes approaching from a range of 25 miles, but the Luftwaffe attacked other ships and Quincy received the “all clear” signal after ten tense minutes. The heavy cruiser next used an air-spot as she fired 60 8-inch rounds at Target 20. The plane did not sight “activity” but at 0952 reported two hits. Enemy gunfire also targeted Tuscaloosa and Black Prince, and Quincy overlapped her shooting missions and joined Tuscaloosa as both cruisers unleased (0944–1035) a booming barrage against the six German 104 millimeter guns at Target 7A (373/198) — Quincy shot 51 rounds and observers reported several hits.
The cruiser’s cooks gamely attempted to feed some of the men breakfast in between the salvos at about 1000, and those who did ate a less than hearty meal and usually washed down a plate of beans with coffee before they rushed back to their battle stations. Quincy’s crew manned their stations repeatedly during the days leading to the landings, and tirelessly stood by the assault troops during the fighting on D-Day and thereafter. “We’ve had catnaps on the iron deck plates and few hours in our bunks,” Strout remarked. The warship experienced momentary lulls in the carnage, and crewmen discussed their homes, or “the chances of the Red Sox beating the Browns.”
The ship only established her first secure communication with the assault waves when she linked with Shore Fire Control Party No. 3 at 1120. Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division’s 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, Col. Howard R. Johnson, USA, fought a series of actions against the Germans overnight and into the morning. Some of the men dropped over widely scattered areas and Johnson collected about 200 and attempted to seize or destroy two bridges that crossed the Douve River northwest of Carentan. The colonel worked with the shore party, which linked-up with Quincy, and she turned her 8-inch guns loose on the enemy in a rare example of a ship supporting airborne troops.
The defenders at the battery at 7A steadfastly clung to their posts and at 1130 they fired three salvoes that missed Quincy. One of the rounds splashed barely 50 yards astern of the ship, wetting down the men on a 40 millimeter gun mount on the fantail. The German gunners followed that attack by another hail of shells that twice missed Quincy and Tuscaloosa as a couple of salvoes splashed between them at 1225 and two more three minutes later. The Americans arranged for a plane to spot their shooting at the persistent artillerymen and the aerial observers sighted what appeared to be two pairs of 104 millimeter guns at Target 17 (341139) and Quincy fired 27 8-inch rounds at them until the plane reported “target neutralized.”
Tuscaloosa meanwhile at 1238 requested assistance in battling the Germans at 7A, and Quincy shot 80 rounds at the battery, recording three direct hits. Twenty-two minutes later the aerial observers reported that the gunfire silenced the position, and Quincy shifted her fire against Target 12 (3776/2038). The observer identified the target as a battery of four 155s, and some of Quincy’s officers surmised that they might be the resilient gunners, since they fought in the vicinity of 7A.
The report proved to be premature, however, as the enemy resumed fire and hurled another pair of salvoes that missed Quincy at 1318. Quincy returned fire but within the hour urgent pleas from the soldiers ashore compelled her to switch fire at 1400 and throw six 8-inch rounds against enemy troops arriving in trucks in Square 32/05 east of Montebourg. The Germans at 7A fired two more salvoes at the ship at 1440 and four minutes later, so she returned fire, but then shifted again, this time to tackle a “strong infantry point” (378882), and beginning at 1500 a shore party directed the ship’s fire as she shot 57 shells at the bastion.
Toward evening Butler spotted for the cruiser as she tirelessly engaged the Germans, pummeling targets until the enemy ceased fire or Allied troops radioed that they seized the positions. Quincy opened fire on Target 82, a blockhouse (411/024) at 1710, and the destroyer and the shore party alternatively called the shots as the cruiser shifted fire and hurled 77 8-inch rounds against German troops in another position (379/873). Butler spotted for Quincy as she turned her main battery against the “strong point” at Target 86 (398/045) at 1920, but after a minute and only shooting six rounds at the position, the shore party urgently requested fire support against another target (380/875). Precious minutes slipped by while Quincy’s crewmen and the shore party worked out the coordinates, and she then (1943–2000) fired 56 shells into the area until the spotters reported “mission successful.” The warship next answered “emergency call fire” against the enemy in a different position (384/864) into the first watch.
Quincy anchored in Berth D-52, Anchorage Area U-3, in eight fathoms of water at 2044, in order to permit her exhausted crew to eat dinner — the light at île du Large bore 262°. The ship ceased fire against that position (384/864) at 2150, but the fighting kept on into the night and she then (2200–2235) called all hands to general quarters and resumed fire against enemy soldiers at another position (383/873), until the spotters determined that she accomplished her fire mission.
Maj. Gen. Collins especially requested main battery firing by Nevada and Quincy in support of his corps during the landings. In addition to helping Corry and the other ships while they rescued her survivors, Quincy worked in conjunction with shore fire control parties and aircraft spotters to protect the shore teams from enemy fire. One such party “sent us fervent thanks for saving their lives on several different occasions,” Lt. Cmdr. John F. Latimer, the ship’s assistant communications officer, recalled. The ship responded to eight separate calls to bombard German soldiers battling U.S. paratroopers along the road between Carentan and Sainte-Mère-Église. Throughout the day, Quincy carried out accurate pinpoint firing against enemy mobile batteries and concentrations of trucks and troops. She also neutralized and destroyed heavy, long range enemy batteries, and supported minesweepers operating under enemy fire.
Quincy completed her gunfire support after dusk without damage or casualties, which Latimer attributed to “thorough preparation, consistent application to the task in hand, excellent leadership, and splendid cooperation.” Quincy shot 585 8-inch and 660 5-inch shells, as well as 53 5-inch white phosphorus rounds, on D-Day. Despite Latimer’s glowing appraisal and the careful arrangements made before hand, the cruiser shot so many shells that she faced the next day of battle low on ammunition.
Her men grabbed whatever rest they could in between watches, and Blackburn reflected that after 18 wearisome hours he could barely stand on his feet and did not recall collapsing into his bunk. In addition to some of the assault troops landing beyond their planned sector, the swells rolled less off Utah Beach than elsewhere, and the Americans made considerable progress there and landed nearly 21,000 men at the cost of 197 casualties by the end of the day.
The battle continued into the next day as soldiers consolidated their beachhead and advanced inland. Quincy experienced what her historian recounted as “a quiet night,” but one punctuated by numerous “distant warnings of enemy aircraft and “E” boat [motor torpedo boat] activity but nothing close at hand.” The ship sounded general quarters at 0500 on 7 June 1944, and almost immediately began her second day of supporting the Normandy landings by firing 14 8-inch rounds at bridges (383/864). Shortly after sunrise and into the morning, her men also witnessed the stirring sight of Operations Galveston and Hackensack (reinforcements), and Operations Freeport and Memphis (supplies), as hundreds of transport planes and gliders passed overhead carrying men and equipment to reinforce and resupply the paratroopers and glider-borne assault troops of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions who had attacked the enemy the previous night.
Throughout the day the ship supplemented her repeated fire missions by working with Butler to rescue Allied airmen downed in the English Channel. At 0735 “Sassy Sue” -- PT-509 -- moved alongside the cruiser and transferred some USAAF aircrewmen who ditched or bailed out into the water: 1st Lt. Jacques L. Sherman Jr., 1st Lt. Jerome W. McQuiad, 2nd Lt. William G. Kelly, S. Sgt. William E. Batchelas, Sgt. Harry L. Miller, and Corp. Anthony T. Tanzola. Miller and Tanzola received medical attention for minor abrasions and a superficial laceration of the right forearm and contusion of the abdomen, respectively.
The ship continued to battle the enemy batteries but at 0800 S2c J.M. Bruce of the 5th Division suffered an abrasion and laceration of his left foot, when a projectile fell on him while he worked in the lower handling room of Mount 5. Bruce was treated and returned to his station. Fifteen minutes later SK3c Lindsay J. Shortridge, V-6, USNR, of the CY Division, who had just been advanced in rate on 1 June, received a laceration of his scalp while climbing a ladder in that division. The medical team treated him and he returned to duty.
Despite the pounding the Allies gave the Germans at Target 7A on D-Day they resolutely resumed fire at the ships offshore, and so at 0845 Quincy renewed her battle with the enemy position and used an air-spot to shoot 18 8-inch rounds at the determined Germans — the aerial observers reported four hits on the enemy’s concrete emplacements. The enemy steadfastly clung to their posts, however, and the ship’s heavy guns struck the position three more times at 0915. “Every now and then yesterday a battery we had “silenced” reopened on us,” war correspondent Strout noted wryly, “until our pride became involved.”
Meanwhile, “Miss Kate” -- PT-499 -- slid alongside to starboard and transferred more USAAF airmen: 1st Lt. C.E. Breeden, 2nd Lt. R.A. Casaler, S. Sgt. L. Robb, Sgt. A. Warlin, and Pvt. P. Franklin. The ship also received some of the nation’s hallowed dead that day and at 0900 sailors brought on board J.V. Zamola, USNR, whose body was pulled from the water. Quincy fired at German troops fighting the Allied soldiers at different points ashore through the morning, and at 1009 shifted her shooting to German trucks moving through the area (321/101) as they attempted to contain the landings. The ship’s fire bracketed the area and cratered the road as 25 8-inch shells rained down on the German column. The shore party coordinated her gunfire against enemy vehicles and artillery (23/00) and 26 shells bracketed the area, starting at 1045. The spotters ashore succinctly reported “excellent results” as the ship fired 79 main battery rounds against German guns (382/866), beginning the deluge of shot just before noon.
Minesweepers braved enemy fire as they swept mines in the vicinity of Banc du Cardonnet at 1315 on the 7th, and at 1340 communication problems apparently bedeviled Quincy as she shifted to the common bombardment frequency and then back again to the shore party’s line. The situation grew ominous at 1412 when German solders near Montebourg held-out and the shore party requested fire support, only to lose communication with them. In addition, the cruiser maneuvered throughout the day as she fired at the enemy positions and carefully threaded her way amidst the crowds of ships and landing craft, but 23 minutes later Nevada crossed her bow while the battleship turned into a firing position. Minesweepers redoubtably stood into danger while they swept the explosive devices from Banc du Cardonnet at 1500, but 45 minutes later Deyo signaled the ship to come about at sunset for Portland to replenish her ammunition.
Quincy received additional soldiers and airmen on board during the first dog watch: Lt. P.T. Hast (the logkeepers did not identify their full ranks), Lt. W.J. McGillis, Lt. K.F. Ullman, Lt. S.M. Willis, Lt. C.O. Wire, S. Sgt. R.S. Barham, S. Sgt. O.D. Collins, Sgt. M.L. Railford, Corp. L.E. Bovy, Pvt. J.L. Crosby, and Pvt. T.H. Kosch, along with Willard F. Shadel, a war correspondent who covered the landings for CBS Radio.
The heavy cruiser continued to support the troops battling ashore and against bridges over the Douve near Carentan. The shore party directed her firing that afternoon and evening as she shot 25 8-inch rounds against an “enemy concentration” (340/986), beginning at 1603, and seven minutes shifted fire and started sending 31 more shells against a “strong point” (362/891). The shore party spotted the ship’s gunfire as she bombarded German machine guns (37/03 and 364/022) with 27 rounds, commencing fire at 1630. Shortly thereafter, the ship ceased fire with her main battery and took stock of the day’s action. She fired 302 8-inch rounds at the enemy that day and counted 35 remaining 8-inch shells in her magazines, which worked out to barely four projectiles per gun.
The ship then at 1715 received two more dead servicemen from Tuscaloosa via Rich: T. Fabiszak, USA; and a third body, but it was so decomposed that Quincy buried him at sea. In total during D-Day, PT boats transferred about two dozen Allied servicemen on board Quincy that they pulled from the English Channel, some wounded and “all suffering from more or less exposure,” Latimer grimly reflected.
Quincy then crossed the invasion area toward Bayfield, and, at 1752, stopped and received a boat from the command ship, and British Maj. Gen. Robert E. Laycock, Chief of Combined Operations, and Brigadier Anthony H. Head boarded. Quincy then stood out of the busy beachhead, crossed the Channel, passed St. Alban Light at 2123, and at 2337 moored to a buoy in Berth B-1 at Portland, where the generals and the other passengers disembarked. The ship shot 347 8-inch rounds while maneuvering in Station No. 9 in Fire Support Area No. 1 on 7 June. The ship loaded ammunition and refueled, but complained that “the service was very slow” and that lighters were also not initially available to help the cruiser empty her powder tanks. The problems delayed the ship’s return to the fighting but she set out at 1803 for the waters off Utah Beach, and anchored in Berth D-53 in company with Tuscaloosa at 2238.
The sky was overcast, the moon just past full, and the wind and sea moderate from the southwest. The night did not pass uneventfully as Quincy received a “Red” warning (2303–2345 on 8 June 1944), and during the early morning hours of 9 June, watchstanders observed flashes on the horizon to the north, bearing 350° at 9,000 yards at 0050, as enemy E-boats assailed the invasion armada. German Adm. Theodore Krancke, Commander-in-Chief, Navy Group Command West, ordered the motor torpedo boats to lay mines off the Îles Saint-Marcouf and to attack an Allied convoy. Ten E-boats set out from Cherbourg, France, but Hambleton’s radar picked up several of the boats and during a running four-hour gun battle Baldwin, Frankford (DD-497), and Hambleton drove off the attackers, who at one point made smoke to elude the destroyers. Baldwin received credit for sinking one of the nimble enemy craft, but the Germans separately sank LST-314 and LST-376 as the tank landing ships steamed with three other vessels and British destroyer Beagle (H.30) in Convoy ECM1P.
Quincy greeted sunrise on the 9th prepared to return to battle and 0830 established communication with the shore party to fire at German troops near the village of Magneville (304/014). The fighting flowed over the area, however, and within the half hour the shore party called the cruiser to cease fire and she recorded the reason: “Unable to fire because our troops had moved up too close to our target.” Quincy again experienced radio issues. “Having communication difficulties with Shore Fire Control Party,” the ship logged at 1000, “there appears to be some enemy interference in addition to a heavy load on the common circuit.”
The ship fired 14 8-inch rounds at Target 3 (367/040), the Crisbecq Battery, three ex-Czech 8.3-inch guns, two of them emplaced in strong casemates, near the village of Marcouf, beginning at 1020. Twenty-eight minutes later she shifted fire to a target (304/020) believed to be German troops near the hamlet of La Lande, but experienced problems authenticating the target. Enemy salvoes splashed in the water off the Îles Saint-Marcouf at 1130, but observers on board the ship could not identify the location of the guns.
Just after noon the warship received orders to shoot at Target Nos 102 (370/095), a machine gun nest in a pillbox, and 104 (362/100), buildings. Quincy got underway to turn and fired 23 5-inch rounds at the enemy. The ship hailed a new shore party during the afternoon watch, and as she waited for orders, Deyo shifted his flag from Tuscaloosa to Quincy, and the former ship came about. A German radar installation and battery in the vicinity of 7A fired at minesweepers, and Quincy took the enemy under fire (1830–1900) — the Germans did not return fire.
An LST fired at an unidentified aircraft at 2025, and an air alert 11 minutes later triggered a confusing series of clashes throughout the first watch as watchstanders sighted additional aircraft. Allied planes flew over the ships but no Luftwaffe types despite claims to the contrary, and to add to the mayhem, the ship intercepted a radio message in plain German language on 40.5 megahertz. “Proceed with caution” the speaker said, and Quincy’s watch section surmised that enemy E-boats again attempted to slip past the screen to lunge at the vulnerable amphibious craft and transports. The cruiser’s 5-inch guns fired four “unauthorized” rounds at an unidentified plane at 2150, and some of the 40 millimeter guns followed suit. The captain investigated the incident, and observers sighted a burning plane plunge into the water, and other low-flying ones to seaward pass over destroyers. Quincy hove in to short stay as the chaos subsided. British battleship Warspite (03) stood in to the anchorage area and anchored at 2306, and at 2330 watchstanders observed “intense” antiaircraft fire rising from the vicinity of the merchant ship anchorage. Quincy answered eight calls for fire on the 9th, the third day of the landings, and her guns perforated the enemy with 114 8-inch rounds, while the 5-inch guns fired 43 antiaircraft shells. The cruiser anchored overnight in Berth D-53 in the fire support area.
The fighting continued and barely ten minutes into the mid watch on the 10th, the ship fired 20 8-inch rounds at a radar tower north of 7A, though could not determine the results against the tough position. Quincy spent an eventful night as repeated alerts of enemy planes and E-boats punctuated the hours of darkness. “Numerous reports of rocket bombs intercepted, but none sighted,” the ship also logged worryingly.
German troops counterattacked the Allies and at 0603 on 10 June 1944, a shore fire control party radioed Quincy that panzers (tanks) menaced the soldiers struggling to expand the Utah beachhead. The ship swung immediately into action and fired 13 8-inch rounds at the target (303/069) using the shore party’s spots. The enemy pulled back in the face of the heavy gunfire and the soldiers asked them to cease fire, gratefully adding “mission accomplished, nice shooting.” Quincy slugged it out with artillery batteries throughout the day, firing at positions containing 105 and 155 millimeter pieces, as well as a group of howitzers of unknown caliber. The ship sometimes utilized aerial spotting when available, and during the forenoon watch, a plane investigated the village of Valognes, where the observer suspected the Germans established a panzer headquarters, but could not verify the suspicion from the air.
A German battery at Target 12 (3775/2038) opened fire at small craft operating off Cap de la Hague at 1610, and the cruiser used an air spot to shoot at the battery until 1625, when Warspite relieved her and unleashed her 15-inch guns on the enemy. A howitzer group at Target 14A (361/080) shot at transports unloading offshore at 1745, and at 1807 the ship fired a single 8-inch salvo at the enemy battery. Warspite then took over, but spotters in the meanwhile sighted flashes from another locale at 1-A, tentatively believed to comprise 170 millimeter weapons, so Quincy pounded them with seven 8-inch shells. Additional clashes occurred into the 2nd dog watch, and the ship went “to rapid fire” and shot “for effect” until spotters signaled her to cease fire. Quincy received word of expected human torpedo attacks and watch supervisors warned their gun crews and lookouts to be “especially alert,” but no such attacks materialized.
The spotters ashore signaled Quincy and thanked the ship for her “highly accurate pinpoint firing against enemy mobile batteries and even against small concentrations of tanks, trucks and troops inland.”
The nighttime continued to be tense and further wore on the men as they stood alerts from enemy air attacks on the ships offshore, though none attacked the cruiser overnight (10–11 June). Quincy’s “jamming watch” reported several radio controlled bombs in the vicinity but watchstanders did not spot any. Quincy shelled multiple enemy troop and artillery positions throughout the night and into the daylight hours while supporting the build-up. The weather was unfavorable for flying with low overcast, which prevented her from using aerial spots. Deyo boarded “Boomerang” -- PT-515 -- and inspected the accompanying destroyers under his command during the morning, and returned that afternoon. Multiple air alerts and warnings about E-boat attacks broke the stillness that night (11–12 June).
The 12th dawned bright and clear but the ship encountered communications problems linking-up with a shore party or aerial spotters. German guns in the vicinity of 7A fired at Allied minesweepers working off Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue during the forenoon watch, and Quincy again fought the tenacious battery, using a plane that also spotted for Nevada. “Glad you were among those present,” one of the minesweepers gratefully signaled the cruiser. Deyo recommended “heavy bombing” on the enemy troops at Target Nos 7A and 12, and that afternoon Allied aircraft worked over the enemy guns at 7A. Quincy in the meantime contacted a shore party, which corrected the ship as she fired salvoes at the battery, as well as at a pillbox (335/072).
The ship participated in the reduction of the garrison of the town of Quinéville that afternoon and into the evening. Quincy repeatedly fired both her main and secondary batteries at the enemy during the hotly contested battle, and “received orders to fire 6 rounds per minute for 10 minutes 5”/38” at 1451. Quincy worked with a shore party at times and crewmen observed “heavy fighting in the vicinity of Chapel Gaujens and Quineville” (1530–1700). Window strips fell on the ship during the fighting, and crewmen strained to discern the identity of the planes but finally relaxed their vigilance when they noted that one of the strips measured 300 m.g., and was thus likely of Allied origin. Minesweeper Pheasant (AM-61) transferred a couple of men requiring dental treatment to Quincy as the cruiser rounded out the day, which she logged as “the best for flying and unloading transports so far.”
The fighting moved inland and Quincy went through three planes before the observers spotted worthwhile targets on the morning of the 13th. Lt. (j.g.) Samuel W.W. Shor took charge of No. 2 Motor Whaleboat and led a salvage party escorted by “Idiot’s Delight” -- PT-502 -- over to attempt to retrieve Corry’s radar, which they could not risk falling into enemy hands. A tank landing craft struck a mine and sank on Banc du Cardonnet at 0925, however, and the Allies temporarily suspended all boat traffic until they swept that channel again. The battle of Quinéville continued and Quincy added her guns to the Allies’ arsenal, a shore party correcting her fire, as well as against their determined foes at 7A. Quincy’s screws drew a fallen barrage balloon into the ship at one point in the D-Day fighting, and the balloon fouled her circulator injection.
The Germans struck back against Allied ships on the evening of 14 June, and at 2300 a plane dropped two bombs, possibly Henschel Hs 293s, small but powerful radio-controlled glide bombs equipped with rocket motors to enable them to increase the range of their attacks, near Quincy. The first one splashed bearing 156° about 1,000 yards from the ship and 400 yards from Arkansas, anchored in Berth E-51. The second glide bomb flew toward the ships at 2329 and splashed closer to Quincy, bearing 134° at 700 yards and 300 from Arkansas, and the boil of water rose as high as the battleship’s main deck. Quincy battled the enemy the rest of the day, and the shore party radioed the ship: “Mission successful, our troops advancing.” Flares and starshells lit the horizon that night as the Luftwaffe attacked some of the ships.
A new organization became effective on 16 June 1944, and Rear Adm. Deyo took command of TF 129 Support Force, built around BatDiv 5, CruDiv 7, and DesRons 10 and 16 and also comprising Bellona, Black Prince, Enterprise, and Glasgow, French light cruisers Georges Leygues and Montcalm, and Dutch gunboat Soemba. The destroyers of DesRons 17 and 18 increased the screen of TG 122-4. Their orders modified W.N.T.F. [Western Naval Task Force] – A.P. Plan 2-44, and directed the ships to support the “U.S. First Army with Naval gunfire as called for, assistance in AA [antiaircraft] protection of shipping in W.N.T.F. assault area, furnish escorts for fire support ships, be prepared to meet any strong enemy surface attack.”
Quincy and her consorts resumed the battle off Utah throughout the day and into the night, ranging against targets called by aerial or shore spotters. Rain and high winds lashed the area the following morning, though gradually cleared during the forenoon watch. The ship continued fighting in those waters, and recovered the body of Sgt. John A. Callahan, USA, at 1720, and at 2046 committed his remains to the deep. Quincy in the meantime received TF 129 Battle Plan 6-44 and Operation Plan 5-44. Deyo ordered the ship to join the fighting off Omaha Beach at 2116, and she therefore reported to Rear Adm. Bryant and BatDiv 5. A further dispatch indicated that her task was to “deliver long range fire commencing at 0530, 17 June, if called on. Maximum allowance — 27 rounds, as conservation of ammunition was vital. No further expenditure unless authorized [by Deyo].”
The warship chartered a course through the crowded waters to Channel 12 Extended and anchored off Omaha Beach (2122–2212), the light at île du Large bearing 307°. The gunnery and communications officers immediately reported to Bryant for a late night conference. Quincy shifted berths more than once during the following days as she fired 8-inch salvoes against the defenders inland while they attempted to confine the Americans to their beachhead. Combined headquarters and communications command ship Ancon (AGC-4) signaled incoming radio controlled bombs during the mid watch on 18 June, and Quincy helped jam the enemy wavelengths to disrupt their targeting the destructive devices. Arkansas, Nevada, and Texas came about for British waters later that night, and their departure left Quincy as one of the heaviest ships fighting off Omaha. The ship fueled and provisioned Gherardi (1710–1900), and then (2122–2310) recovered the body of a British seaman, but could not identify him and consigned him to the Channel. Throughout the fighting at D-Day, Quincy shot 1,813 8-inch (70 armor piercing and 1,743 high capacity) and 935 5-inch shells.
A storm lashed the beachheads and destroyed Mulberry A, an artificial harbor that helped the Americans’ unload ships off Omaha Beach (19–22 June 1944). Quincy logged the wind rise to 20 knots from the northeast “all day” on the 19th, and the following day to 30 knots with high seas. The tempest ripped Mulberry No. A2/67 adrift at 0510 and the ship attempted to take the bombardon under tow. Crewmen secured a line to the derelict and Quincy stood into shore, but the line parted, and the ship doggedly repeated the maneuver. The heavy swells drove the bombardon ashore in the vicinity of Pointe du Hoc at 0720, however, before the sailors could secure a tow line. The storm’s fury wreaked havoc with the vessels off the beachheads and the next day British tank landing craft LCT-432 sought shelter and secured a line astern to Quincy, but the foul weather parted the line at 1100. Another British vessel, LCT-7034, was meanwhile secured astern of the cruiser and endured the moderate gale, and LCT-432 fought the heavy seas and crewmen secured her along the starboard side of the American ship at 1517.
The Allies grimly realized the gravity of the situation and at 2100 Deyo signaled the ship to come about and join a convoy for the safe haven of Portland. Quincy cast off the British landing craft and rendezvoused with Enterprise, and Glasgow, screened by Barton (DD-722), Ellyson (DD-454), Emmons (DD-457), Hambleton (DD-455), Laffey (DD-724), Murphy, O’Brien, and Rodman (DD-456) at the Kansas Light Vessel at 2140. Just before midnight Tuscaloosa and Gherardi joined them, and the ships battled the waves through Channel 14 and Route A back across the English Channel. Quincy weathered the storm and anchored in Berth D-4 in six and a half fathoms of water at Portland at 0745 on the 22nd. Shortly after the ship anchored, divers cleared the barrage balloon that fouled her circulator injection.
The lack of an adequate port hindered Allied logistics and the storm compounded the delays in the build-up ashore. Consequently, the Allies desperately needed a port and dispatched a naval force to support the landward advance up the Cotentin Peninsula to Cherbourg. Quincy joined other vessels as they assembled into Rear Adm. Deyo’s TF 129 Cherbourg Bombardment Force. The ship received Operation Order 7-44 during the 1st watch on 24 June, and on the mid watch set out in company with Hambleton and Murphy to join the other vessels. The trio rendezvoused with some of the other ships, but at 0532 received orders to “counter march” and came about and returned to their anchorages. Murphy tied up along Quincy’s starboard side and Hambleton outboard of her, and Deyo decided to go over the operation one more time and summoned the commanding officers and division officers of the ships to a conference on board his flagship Tuscaloosa at 1100, where they set the attack for the following day.
Quincy consequently sailed with the force’s TG 125.1 from Portland at 0508 on the 25th. Group 1 comprised Nevada (Capt. Powell M. Rhea), Quincy, Tuscaloosa, Enterprise, and Glasgow, in company with Ellyson, Emmons, Gherardi, Hambleton, Murphy, O’Brien, and Rodman. Bryant’s Group 2 included Arkansas and Texas and their screening destroyers. In addition, at times ships of the 159th Minesweeping Flotilla and British 9th Minesweeping Flotilla also took part in the operation.
Hitler declared Cherbourg a “fortress” and ordered Generalleutnant von Schlieben, whom the Allies had driven back from the beaches, to defend the city, but the landward defenses lacked strength against the overwhelming forces the Allies deployed against the port. Toward the sea, however, the Germans arrayed potentially heavier defenses, and emplaced four 11-inch guns and artillery ranging from 75, 88, and 150 millimeter guns and up around the area, often in casemated batteries — many of which could engage Allied ships. Both sides anticipated a bitter battle as the 25th of June opened as an otherwise beautiful and warm day. Haze restricted the view until the sun’s rays gradually broke through, and Quincy then logged the day as “bright and clear with a southeast wind of 8 knots.” The warship’s plan of the day called for breakfast and then succinctly summarized her goal as “neutralize Cherbourg.”
Allied planes including USN Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberators and Eastern TBM Avengers searched for U-boats to the westward, while other planes, among them USAAF Lockheed P-38 Lightnings, flew protective flights over the ships, and still others including British Fleet Air Arm Tarpons (Avengers) supported the attack. One of the aircraft spotted what the pilot believed to be a midget submarine during the morning watch near 50°11ˈN, 2°2ˈW, which generated fears among the Allied crews, but the (reported) enemy boat failed to maneuver into an attack position.
The group’s ships formed a column on the flagship (in order) at 0521: Tuscaloosa, Nevada, Quincy, Glasgow, Enterprise, Ellyson, Gherardi, Murphy, Hambleton, Rodman, Emmons, and O’Brien. Aerial spotters discovered that two long-range railway batteries believed to be in the area appeared to be deserted, and the welcome word was passed over Quincy’s loudspeaker system. The Allies began the preliminary phase of the battle from a range of 25,000 yards at 0905, and Group 1 made landfall at 0940, bearing 165° about 15 miles north of the port. The minesweepers swept the waters ahead of the group’s bombardment ships as they initially entered Approach Channel No. 1 and made for Fire Support Area No. 1.
The heavy vessels closed the range to 13,000 yards at 1000 in order to better spot their targets. Tuscaloosa signaled Quincy at 1156 that while the latter followed the starboard hand buoys in Approach Channel No. 3 she drifted out of the channel, a dangerous development because of the minefields. The ship’s navigation team quickly double-checked their position and believed they moved about 700 yards in from the west edge of the channel, while the flagship (apparently) steamed on the east edge, and surmised that minesweepers had swept and buoyed the channel twice the planned width.
As the ships awaited the advancing VII Corps’ calls for fire the German batteries opened up at 1206, the first rounds splashing 190° and about 3,000 yards from Quincy. The enemy guns continued and huge geysers of water erupted around some of the ships. Four 150 millimeter rounds passed over British minesweeper Sidmouth (J.47), the lead sweeper, and a three-gun salvo bracketed Nevada, one of the shells splashing within 100 yards. Rear Adm. Deyo ordered the ships to begin counter-battery fire, but the German gunners proved accurate, scoring a number of hits on some of the other task force ships, and the accompanying destroyers laid smoke.
The “enemy batteries opened fire with extreme accuracy,” Ramsay observed, “whilst the force was turning at slow speed from the approach channel into the fire support area. To avoid heavy damage destroyers had to make smoke and the heavier ships to manoeuvre at increased speed, and, in some cases, without regard to keeping inside swept water, in order to maintain manoeuvering searoom. Despite the accuracy of the enemy’s fire, by frequent use of helm and alterations in speed the Force managed to avoid any but minor casualties and damage, whilst at the same time continuing accurate fire on the enemy’s defences.”
Contemporaneous with this action, the group commander received calls for fire from fire control parties ashore. At 1212, Nevada fired her 14-inch battery on a battery approximately 2.5 miles southwest of Querqueville. Quincy hoisted her battle ensign at the fore truck six minutes later and at 1225 the ship’s 8-inch guns fired white phosphorous rounds to support minesweepers laying smoke. The ship at first experienced problems linking with aerial and shore spotters, though Kingfishers and fire control parties then spotted the incoming rounds and called in corrections for 25 minutes. In addition, more than 50 RAF and USN-manned Spitfires observed for the ships, but some failed to reach the area because of flak or mechanical issues, and others found it difficult to identify targets.
Some of Quincy’s crewmen ate a lunch of beef-hash sandwiches and coffee while still at their battle stations, but the Germans fired more than once (1228–1455) at the ship, though the cruiser’s historian reported that she “maneuvered radically to avoid hits.”
“Nice firing,” a shore party radioed Nevada, “You are digging them out in nice big holes.” Quincy added her fire to the battleship’s and together their salvoes rent the air as they engaged the enemy. The German guns bracketed Nevada six times (1240–1245), but Capt. Rhea maneuvered the ship and she successfully avoided being struck. The enemy hit Glasgow at 1248, however, and the British warship sustained structural damage in her hangar area and aft to electric cabling and fire control equipment. A three-gun salvo straddled Enterprise at 1301, and five minutes later another three rounds straddled the British warship, one of the shells splashing barely 50 yards astern of her. An enemy salvo struck close aboard Quincy at 1320, and 13 minutes later three shells splashed scarcely 50 yards astern.
German sailors manned four 11-inch guns at Target 2, Marine-Küsten-Batterie Hamburg, a strong position protected by steel shields -- though not entirely enclosed in concrete casemates -- emplaced on a hill near Fermanville, not far from Cap Levi and about six miles east of Cherbourg. Six 88 millimeter and a half dozen each light and heavy antiaircraft guns also protected the battery. Multiple ships including Arkansas and Texas fought Batterie Hamburg and disabled one of the 11-inch guns but failed to knock out the strong position, and Bryant requested that Deyo deploy Quincy from her other tasks to lend a hand. The latter so ordered the ship and a shore party and a plane spotted the fall of shot as the cruiser shifted fire and blasted the enemy, though apparently without effect (1330–1410). Deyo surmised that too many ships attacked the battery and that their gunfire prevented accurate spotting.
The Germans resisted stoutly and Oberleutnant zur See Rudi Gelbhaar of Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 260, the battery’s commander, unleashed their 11-inch guns against Quincy. Salvoes tore the air barely 20 yards above Turret II, the rounds, one of them apparently a dud, narrowly missing the U.S. warship and splashing 50 yards abeam at 1340. Two minutes later Deyo ordered Glasgow to come about from the battle and directed destroyers to screen the cruiser while she made repairs.
As the British ship made to comply, Quincy continued her duel against the heavier enemy guns. Two more German three-gun salvoes hurtled into the waves about 200 yards to Quincy’s starboard at 1345, followed a minute later by a third salvo. One of the enemy shells from the third shoot splashed under the ship’s starboard anchor in the vicinity of frame 150, gouging out several holes, the largest about three inches in diameter. Some water seeped into a storeroom and destroyed several thousand packages of cigarettes and candy bars. A seaman eagerly showed Strout a fragment that ripped his sea jacket, though the young man escaped unscathed. Ellyson laid smoke to protect Quincy as the cruiser opened the range an additional 2,500 yards. Gelbhaar later received the Knight’s Cross for his fight against the ships.
Quincy passed Nevada at 1400 while both ships maneuvered to fire and received a chilling message from the battleship that she was standing toward a mine. The cruiser reversed course to 090° and then 105° and eluded the mines. Despite these conditions, Quincy shifted fire and helped some of the ships of Group 1 as they pounded a battery (085/262) near Target 308, Querqueville, but the enemy defiantly held to their posts there as well and continued the battle as the ship used an air spot to shoot 22 8-inch rounds at the target.
The ship came about at 1503 and withdrew through Channel No. 3 to Point C. Quincy joined up with Tuscaloosa but enemy salvoes splashed off her starboard quarter nearly 1,000 yards away between Quincy and Nevada at 1508. The cruiser then (1511–1530) fired at a position (148/236) until a plane reported “fires raging all around, well cleaned out.” At 1530 the ship ceased fire and began to retire from the action, her consorts forming the same order as they had that morning while they turned their prows toward British waters. Quincy fired 96 8-inch, 76 5-inch “common” and 70 5-inch white phosphorous rounds during the battle.
Capt. Senn received the Silver Star for demonstrating “the highest qualities of personal intrepidity, coolness and leadership while under heavy fire from the enemy and while operating in mined waters,” during D-Day and again (a Gold Star in lieu of the second award) in the Battle of Cherbourg. “The exceedingly efficient performance of the USS Quincy while engaging in counter battery fire and while rendering close supporting fire to the advancing troops is undoubtedly due largely to the ability and leadership displayed upon repeated occasions during the action.”
“I regard the operation as highly successful,” Deyo said later that night. The ships of the task force hit 19 of their 21 primary targets with varying degrees of success. Their salvoes disabled some of the enemy positions so that they continued to face to sea (the Germans could have turned some of them inland on the advancing troops). The bombardment thus aided the landward assault and the Allies considered the battle a triumph. Their casualties and inability to knock out all of the defenses, however, weighed on some of their leaders.
“The important lesson to be learnt,” Ramsay summarized the battle, “is that duels between ships and coast defence guns are quite legitimate provided some or all of the above precautions [D-Day] are taken; owing to the prevailing conditions, it was not possible to take the necessary precautions before and during the bombardment,” adding ruefully that enemy gunfire hit some of the ships as a result.
Quincy anchored in Berth C-3 in seven fathoms at Portland at 1931 that evening. Before the night ended, Hambleton moored alongside Quincy’s starboard, and then Murphy to Hambleton’s starboard side.
The following morning, Von Schlieben reported to Generalfeldmarshall Erwin Rommel that “heavy fire from the sea” helped the Allies reduce the opposition at the port, and Krancke subsequently observed in his war diary that the “naval bombardment of a hitherto unequalled fierceness” rendered the defender’s resistance ineffective. The Germans subsequently surrendered Cherbourg but thoroughly wrecked and mined the port, and Allied engineers spent weeks laboriously restoring it to capacity.
Quincy anchored in Berth Y-6 at Belfast Lough (30 June–4 July 1944), and rumors credited her with returning to Boston. The ship remained under Deyo’s overall command but some shifting placed the cruiser within TG 120.6, which also comprised Arkansas and Nevada, Tuscaloosa (Deyo’s flagship), Ellyson, Emmons, Fitch (DD-462), Forrest (DD-461), Hambleton, Hobson, Plunkett, and Rodman. The ship then received the group’s Operation Order 8-44, which directed her to the Mediterranean.
The heavy cruiser sailed with the group auspiciously at 1129 on Independence Day. Off the Mull of Cantyre [Kintyre], Scotland, they joined the Clyde Group of assault transports: Anne Arundel (AP-76), Barnett (AP-76), Charles Carroll (AP-76), Dorothea L. Dix (AP-76), Henrico (AP-76), Joseph P. Dickman (AP-76), Samuel Chase (AP-76), Thomas Jefferson (AP-76), and Thurston (AP-77). Two days later the Plymouth Group, consisting of Augusta (CA-31), Bayfield, and Achernar, joined the convoy. The ships passed through the Strait of Gibraltar overnight (9–10 July), and Quincy moored alongside Augusta in Berths 2 and 3 in Mers-el-Kébir near Oran, Algeria, at 1840 that evening.
The veteran warship received Mediterranean publications and instructions and stood three alerts that night, but none of the lookouts sighted any enemy planes. Quincy’s departure was delayed a day while she loaded ammunition from Mount Baker, including one third armor-piercing. The cruiser then (16–18 July) turned toward Italian waters. F6F-3N and F6F-5 Hellcats of VF-74, and F6F-5s of VOF-1, spotted for Quincy while she practiced shore bombardment in the Gulf of Arzew in Algeria that afternoon, and moored alongside Tuscaloosa in Berths 3 and 4 at Palermo, Sicily, on the morning of the 18th. The poverty of the Sicilians as they attempted to recover from the ravages of the war shocked crewmen who went ashore. Beggars, many of them emaciated children, ranged the streets, only loosely patrolled by policemen who often proved to be former Italian soldiers, identified by the Fascist regime’s uniforms they continued to wear. Women endured dire straits that compelled many of them to practice prostitution in order to survive.
Quincy received Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Northwest African Waters Operation Order 3-44 of 8 July 1944, which assigned her to serve under Vice Adm. Henry K. Hewitt, Commander, Eighth Fleet and Western Task Force, as part of Rear Adm. Lyal A. Davidson’s TF 86 Sitka Force, within Deyo’s TG 86.2. The ship operated from Palermo through 26 July, and carried out shore bombardment practice with a number of other ships including Tuscaloosa and Omaha (CL-4) at Camarota Bombardment Range on the Gulf of Policastro, Italy, in preparation for Operation Dragoon — landings by the U.S. VI Corps, Gen. Lucian K. Truscott Jr., USA, and the French II Corps, Gen. Edgard de Larminat, between Cap Nègre and Fréjus in southern France.
The cruiser’s 5-inch, 20 and 40 millimeter guns practiced repelling E-boats during the work-ups to the landings. Emmons and Rodman screened Quincy on the 26th as she steamed to the Grand Harbor at Valetta on Malta via the Strait of Messina, and Capt. Senn attended a conference on board Ajax with reference to orders for shore bombardment and training exercises. Following that visit, the cruiser participated in a training exercise near Filfla Island, Malta, on 31 August.
On 5 July 1944, Quincy was assigned to TG 84.7, British Rear Adm. John M. Mansfield, RN, Commander, 15th Cruiser squadron, who broke his flag in Orion. She then (6–7 August) passed back through the Strait of Messina for Operation Preface, a larger exercise at Camarota, where, screened by Eberle (DD-430) and Livermore (DD-429), Quincy’s own Kingfishers spotted for her. Following their return to Malta on the 8th, Mansfield held a conference for the commanding officers in the naval dockyard four days later, in which he promulgated the final instructions for Dragoon. Quincy received TF 86’s Operation Order 5-44.
Previous Allied landings in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy experienced problems coordinating naval gunfire support between the various navies. The soldiers fighting ashore “became well acquainted with naval gunfire and appreciated its capabilities,” Vice Adm. Hewitt observed in his report on Dragoon. “Both British Forward Observer Bombardment officers, Naval Gunfire Liaison officers, and air spot were used, and the need for a common shore bombardment procedure and code became more apparent.” Hewitt therefore worked with U.S., British, and French naval, air, and army representatives and published and promulgated the Mediterranean Bombardment Code, under which Quincy operated during the landings.
When the Allies carried out Operations Husky and Avalanche (landings in Sicily and the Gulf of Salerno, respectively) in 1943, Curtiss SOC-3 and SOC-3A and Naval Aircraft Factory SON-1 Seagulls from VCS-8 spotted the fall of shot from the cruisers’ 6-inch guns. German Messerschmitt Bf 109s savaged the vulnerable scout planes; however, and Hewitt noted that North American P-51 Mustangs “performed brilliantly as spotters with negligible losses.” Naval officers, principally from VCS-8, correspondingly emphasized spotting by high performance aircraft and trained naval aviators to fly missions in Mustangs and Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, though Quincy faced the landings with a pair of embarked OS2U-3 Kingfishers of VCS-10.
At 1952 on the evening of 13 August 1944, Quincy cast off her mooring lines from Berth 13 in the Grand Harbor for the landing areas. The ship set out in company with some of the other vessels of TF 84 Alpha Force, Rear Adm. Frank J. Lowry: British light cruisers Ajax, Aurora (12), and Orion, French light cruiser Gloire, Ericsson (DD-440), Eberle, Kearny (DD-432), and Livermore, and British destroyers Termagant (R.89) and Terpsichore (R.33). Quincy sailed with TG 84.7 and Mansfield, who broke his flag in Orion. Termagant detached to escort British battleship Ramillies (07) and Black Prince, Quincy’s familiar companion from D-Day, on the 13th, and early on the morning of 15 August Quincy reached the Baie de Cavalaire, where the other ships assembled.
German Army Group G, Gen. Johannes Blaskowitz, opposed the landings and consisted of the Nineteenth Army, Gen. Friedrich Wiese, deployed along the Riviera coast, and the First Army, Gen. der Infanterie Kurt von der Chevellerie, along the Biscay coastline. “The main line of defense is and will remain the beach,” Wiese ordered his men, adding defiantly that they were “to fight to the last man and the last bullet.” The Germans detached many troops northward to battle the Allies in Normandy, however, and the balance comprised mostly poorly equipped soldiers, including some Ost-Bataillone. In addition, French Maquis resistance fighters wreaked havoc with their supply lines.
The carriers of the Naval Attack Force, Rear Adm. Sir Thomas H. Troubridge, RN, supported the landings. Hellcats of VF-74, embarked on board escort aircraft carrier Kasaan Bay (CVE-69), and F6F-5s of VOF-1 flying from Tulagi (CVE-72), together with British planes from escort carriers Attacker (D.02), Emperor (D.98), Hunter (D.80), Khedive (D.62), Pursuer (D.73), Searcher (D.40), and Stalker (D.91), flew defensive fighter cover over the shipping area, spotted naval gunfire, flew close air support missions, and made destructive attacks on enemy concentrations and lines of communication. Hellcats from Kasaan Bay bombed and strafed German positions and vehicles, attacked tanks of the 11th Panzer Division, Generalmajor Wend von Wietersheim, and splashed two German planes over the invasion beaches.
American and Canadian soldiers of the 1st Special Service Force landed on Île du Levant and the nearby island of Port-Cros, two of the four Îles d’Hyères (14–17 August). Naval planners requested the assault because they feared that the German guns on those islands could threaten ships operating in the Baie de Cavalaire. Ramillies and Augusta at times supported the Forcemen as they overran the defenders during some brisk actions.
The ship noted that the night of 15 August 1944 was “practically cloudless” but light fog lingered in the area. German search radar trained on the ship in an effort to track her during the mid watch, and the ship made several attempts to jam the radar. Quincy entered thick fog that reduced visibility to barely 100 yards and she reduced speed, but the fog gradually cleared and the ship rang up increasingly faster bells as she chartered a course to Fire Support Area No. 5.
Allied air and naval bombardment neutralized many of the defender’s guns on the left flank of the landings, and drove their crews to take shelter in dugouts or abandon their guns. Quincy supported the 7th Regimental Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. John W. O’Daniel, USA, as the soldiers landed on Alpha Red at Cavalaire-sur-Mer on the 15th.
“Sea conditions for craft were ideal,” the Eighth Fleet reported, “being almost calm in the Transport Area. Visibility about 5 to 6 miles with some ground mist…A slight ground haze made beach recognition extremely difficult and prevented the Scout Officer’s light (which had been successfully tried on the rehearsals) being seen. An unexpectedly strong Westerly set close inshore resulted in the landings in some cases being made somewhat to the Westward of the intended positions.”
The invaders’ approach did not pass without incident and at 0430 Quincy received a report that Somers (DD-381) (Cmdr. William C. Hughes Jr., USNR) had fired at a ship that refused to answer her challenge. Somers’ vigilance paid-off as, during the ensuing Battle of Port-Cros, she engaged and sank German corvette UJ6081 (ex-Italian Camoscio) and sloop SG21 (ex-French Amiral Senes).
Quincy sounded general quarters at 0439, launched her Kingfishers to spot gunfire for the cruiser and for some of the other Allied vessels, and maneuvered into Fire Support Area No. 5. The ship used direct spot when she opened fire against Target P-40 (U-516/092), a battery of four 150 millimeter howitzers, at 0601. The beach recognition issue plagued the ship during the morning and forenoon watches. “Weather very hazy and a great deal of smoke shoreward,” she logged. “Since 0700 heavy bombers have been bombing installations. No direct gunfire possible; visibility reduced to 5,000 yards.” One of the cruiser’s aircraft reported heavy clouds at 600 feet over the enemy positions, which rendered accurate spotting from the air impossible.
The first waves of assault troops meanwhile hit Red and Yellow Beaches at 0800, and Quincy recalled her planes in order to refuel them and await a break in the weather. Communications with the soldiers ashore worked more smoothly than at D-Day and the ship established a link with a shore fire control party twenty minutes after the landing craft touched the beaches. The soldiers experienced the same visibility issues, however, and repeatedly moved forward to seek targets. Their advance proved their undoing when the ship received word at 1120 that the spotter had been wounded. As a result the warship’s planes returned and dropped a message that at 1050 the troops advanced a mile from Yellow Beach and seized roads with little opposition. Throughout the day Quincy blasted the German troops, and also stood several alerts of possible Luftwaffe raids, but enemy planes did not attack the ship.
Quincy secured from battle stations at 1918, and at 2009 took station astern of Ramillies as the vessels stood out to sea (in order): Orion, Black Prince, Ajax, Ramillies, Quincy, Gloire, and Aurora, while Livermore, Eberle, Terpsichore, Termagant, Kearny, and Ericsson screened the column. German planes apparently struck during the second dog watch, and the British battleship fired at aerial intruders to the northward while destroyers laid smoke off Quincy’s starboard bow, but the cruiser did not detect the attackers.
A gentle breeze from the northwest and a partly cloudy sky greeted Quincy as she re-entered the fray on the morning of 16 August 1944. The ship could not establish communications with a shore party, and at 0830 Mansfield directed the cruiser to launch a Kingfisher to discover the position of German guns that fired at Allied troops at Cap Nègre. The ship launched a plane that scoured the area and in the meantime shifted to Fire Support Area No. 2 and lashed the enemy soldiers defending that sector. Enemy gunfire countered and shells splashed around the ship, including one close on the starboard bow at barely 50 yards at 1056 and a minute later another on the same range, and one on the port quarter at a scant 200 yards at 1101. The Kingfisher finally spotted the culprit at Target M-18 (Z-276/958), which consisted of four guns which the spotter estimated at 120 millimeter weapons. Quincy unleashed her 8-inch guns against her tormentor and at 1115 demolished the battery with a direct hit that ignited its ammunition dump — the plane and British light cruiser Dido (37) reported the ensuing explosion. The ship shot 31 rounds at the battery during the brief battle, and the spotting aircraft understatedly noted “no further activity at M-18.”
The following day on the 17th, Quincy and Augusta scouted the coast from Cap Bénat to the Îles d’Hyères. One of the ship’s embarked Kingfishers, flown by Lt. (j.g.) William J. Francis and ARM2c E. L. Rickles, flew a run for Ramillies during the afternoon watch. After the battlewagon worked over a fort on Port-Cros with her 15-inch guns, the Kingfisher passed overhead and Francis and Rickles saw German soldiers indicating their desire to surrender.
The German Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (the High Command of the Wehrmacht) ordered Army Group G to retreat that evening. Allied carrier planes and Maquis bands harried the retreating columns of German troops and motor transport, along with their railway rolling stock, and their discipline largely collapsed. The enemy left garrisons behind to hold the crucial ports of Marseilles and Toulon, however, and the Allies thus required additional operations to clear those harbors. Quincy’s planes meanwhile on the 18th busily flew missions for the cruiser as well as for French battleship Lorraine, for Augusta as she battled the enemy on Île de Porquerolles, one of the Hyères, and for French light cruiser Émile Bertin.
Quincy then (19–24 August 1944) transferred to TG 86.4, Center Support Group, led by Rear Adm. Theodore E. Chandler, Commander, Cruiser Division 2. The ships of the group included Nevada and Texas, Lorraine, Augusta, Cincinnati (CL-6), Marblehead (CL-12), Omaha (flagship), Philadelphia, Georges Leygues and Montcalm, and French large destroyers Le Fantasque, Le Malin, and Le Terrible, while they carried out a reconnaissance in force off Toulon to support the 3rd Infantry Division and the French 2ͤ Corps d’Armée as they advanced on the port, defended by Konteradmiral Heinrich Ruhfus. Ellyson, Emmons, Fitch, Forrest, Hambleton, Macomb (DD-458), Murphy, and Rodman also operated with the group at times. Nevada, Lorraine, and Augusta shelled the harbor and batteries at Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer and Cap Sicié. Nevada also engaged German-manned battleshipStrasbourg, hitting the ex-French battleship aft and causing her to list to starboard.
Quincy, McCook, and British destroyer Lookout (G.32) maneuvered in an area south of Port-Cros on the 19th. The ships provided counter-battery fire against German troops on the Giens Peninsula, and bombarded the enemy positions on Porquerolles. One of the cruiser’s planes encountered heavy flak as it flew over the island at 1630.
The following morning, German gunfire repeatedly straddled Lookout and engaged Niblack (DD-424) as the ships fought off Cap Sicié. Quincy used air spotting to attempt to take the pressure off the lighter ships as they slugged it out the shore batteries, and in concert with Lorraine fired at Target J-15 (Y-856/973), a railway battery. The ship hurled 12 8-inch rounds until the aerial spotter observed that the fire “pulverized” the battery. The enemy deployed a variety of artillery in the area and before noon on that eventful day, Quincy used aerial spotting to fire at Target J-39 (Y-887/921), four 88 millimeter guns, and at J-42 (Y-905/923), a position comprising an estimated four 75, two 100, and three 138 millimeter guns.
In addition, the Germans removed two twin 13.4-inch gun turrets from scuttled French battleship Provence in an effort to turn the heavy guns against the Allies. French patriots sabotaged the first turret and an Allied plane also damaged it with a bomb. The enemy emplaced the second one, however, on the crest of the headland on Cap Cépet, not far from the village and naval arsenal at Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer. Nearly 1,800 enemy sailors held the battery and additional antiaircraft guns and artillery positions, including 138 and 164 millimeter pieces, on the cape. Their bastion comprised a warren of great strength with underground chambers containing barracks, a power plant, and ammunition bunkers linked by tunnels. The batteries dominated the approach to Toulon and posed a daunting challenge to Allied planners. “These guns [the 13.4-inch] were highly critical to our neutralizing efforts,” Hewitt summarized, “because they could outrange all of our gunfire support ships.”
Nevada, Ramillies, Lorraine, Augusta, Philadelphia, Aurora, Émile Bertin, Georges Leygues, and Montcalm all fought the 13.4-inch battery at times (19–26 August 1944). The enemy emplaced the surviving guns in a thick concrete structure that defied efforts to knock them out, however, and sailors nicknamed the persistent battery “Big Willy” as a macabre play on words — “Will he hit us, or will he miss.”
The German gunners demonstrated their art in deadly earnest when Quincy engaged Target K-20 (Y-935/925), as the Allies designated Big Willy, on the afternoon of 20 August 1944. Time after time, the 13.4-inch guns and a number of the other weapons shot at the Allied ships, which alternatively returned fire or made speed to maneuver out of harm’s way and laid smoke. Three waves of Allied bombers also attacked the area with a heavy bombardment, but the Germans resolutely continued the duel.
Rounds of various sizes erupted around Quincy and the ship traded shots with the enemy more than once during the afternoon and first dog watches, but she often experienced difficulty in distinguishing their origins. “Cannot identify the battery firing,” Quincy logged gloomily as she attempted to dodge the nearly continuous gunfire at 1313. At 1345 two shells splashed on the starboard beam barely 50 yards over, followed in repaid succession by another on the port quarter, and one astern at 300 yards. Quincy made smoke with her aft stack, and did so again later that afternoon.
The fog of war impeded the ship throughout the day as rounds of various sizes assailed her and at 1450 she logged: “Believe source of firing to be mobile battery on top of cliff at Cape Sicie.” The cruiser swung her 5-inch guns around against that area four minutes later, but at 1455 a shell splashed barely 100 yards off the port beam and the ship rang up flank speed to dodge the gunfire. A “big splash” nonetheless rose just 75 yards off the port beam four minutes later as the Germans corrected their aim “(K-20 again; flash at 040°T)” the ship logged, the acknowledgement of Big Willy’s persistence a telling indication of how the crew felt about battling the heavier guns.
One of the German rounds splashed close aboard the cruiser during the battle, washing a 20 millimeter gun crew from their station. “It was pretty hot there — right warm going,” Capt. Senn observed to Strout. “They couldn’t have missed us any closer…Men standing 40 feet above the water got wet.” One of the large caliber shells passed just over the warship’s masts and splashed near Lookout, which made smoke.
“Since last plane departed there has been no spotting plane available,” Quincy reported at 1537, “and unable to use direct spotting with armor-piercing shells at 23,000 yards; it also appears doubtful if 8” shells are big enough to be effective.”
The ship stood to the westward toward Omaha, and at 1615 established contact with a spotting plane and resumed shooting at Big Willy. The German sailors promptly returned fire and a 13.4-inch round splashed scarcely 700 yards on the port quarter. Quincy laid a small smoke screen, and McCook did so to northward, and just in the nick of time as another shell splashed 1,000 yards on the cruiser’s port bow. Quincy fired full nine-gun salvoes with her main battery and the enemy replied earnestly and a shell cracked into the water 800 yards on the port bow at 1632, followed five minutes later by another 1,000 yards on the port bow.
Quincy ceased fire at 1647 after shooting 99 8-inch (including nine high-capacity) rounds at Big Willy during this segment of the battle, and she retired to the south. The aerial spotter reported that the ship’s gunfire hit the casemate and “covered” the area, yet, a shell splashed 1,000 yards astern at 1653, and the ship laconically logged: “K-20 still shooting.” The Germans chased Quincy out of the fray and their rounds continued to churn the water in her wake. “Apparently,” the cruiser noted, “the battery’s casemates are too heavy for our 8" shells.” The ship received orders at 1730 to break off the action and rendezvous with Rear Adm. Davidson in Augusta, which she did about three miles south of Grande Passe des Îles d’Hyères at 2000. Senn then joined some of the other ships’ commanding officers for an admiral’s conference on board the flagship.
The ship operated for most of 21 August 1944 to the south of the Giens Peninsula, from where she supported soldiers fighting ashore. Quincy worked at times with Lorraine, Philadelphia, Aurora, Eberle, Kearny, Niblack, Lookout, and Le Malin, some of whom fought from the other side of the peninsula. The enemy fired a mix of 75, 88, 90, and 105 millimeter weapons at the ships, but Niblack caught Quincy’s attention at 1921 when she observed that Big Willy also targeted the cruiser.
One of Quincy’s Kingfishers spotted for Eberle as she returned to the dangerous waters off Île de Porquerolles during the second dog watch on the 21st, and fired at the German garrison until her lookouts spotted a white flag. The plane orbited to direct Eberle while she fought to “prevent enemy escaping,” and a landing force took 58 prisoners after the destroyer’s gunfire shattered their escape boats. The following day another 14 Germans surrendered to her. On Tulagi’s last day to support the landings on 21 August, her Hellcats shot down three German Junkers Ju 52s, and wreaked havoc with an enemy convoy retreating toward the northward, snarling roads for miles around Remouline. carrier planes assisted Allied troops during their advance up the Rhône Valley.
Allied leaders were determined to knock out Big Willy and at 0300 on 22 August 1944, Davidson ordered Quincy to wait on call 15 miles south of Cap Sicié. The ship met the dawn sounding general quarters, and, in company with McCook and Niblack, proceeded to her fire support station. They did not have to wait long to learn the Germans’ intentions because at 0820 a 13.4-inch shell splashed 3,000 yards from Quincy as the enemy registered the range, initiating another day of fierce battle. The trio of ships maneuvered to skirt enemy gunfire, sometimes ringing up flank speed as the rounds plunged toward them, and other times making smoke.
The cruiser used aerial spotting to fire at other batteries near Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer, and at one point detected enemy radar attempting to track her. German flak threatened the three aircraft, which, in succession, spotted for the ships, and the second plane reported three of six-gun salvoes and some of the following rounds as direct hits on enemy positions (at 1454, 1458, and 1500). At 1526, however, Turret III suffered a blown gasket in the high pressure hydraulic line that caused a leak in the training system and disabled the turret. The gunners initially estimated that they could repair the casualty in a couple of hours, but after working on it realized that they would require replacement parts, which, as far as anyone knew, were not deployed forward and only available in the United States. In the meanwhile, the plane could not report worthwhile targets except for Big Willy, and the Allies gave the honor of knocking out the battery to Lorraine, so Quincy came about for the night.
Quincy and McCook took station about 15 miles south of Cap Sicié at dawn on the 23rd, the cruiser’s gunners temporarily repairing Turret III so they could train it by hand-powered drive. The ships linked-up with a spotting plane, and at 0952 a German 13.4-inch shell splashed 5,000 yards astern of the cruiser, letting everyone know that Big Willy was open for business. Three minutes later Quincy’s 5-inch guns fired eight white phosphorus rounds over the cape to impede the enemy observation post believed to be there, but the area was too large and the screen proved ineffective.
The warship shot at a number of positions through the day, and during the forenoon watch fired her 8-inch guns at Target J-35 (Y-870/910), identified as six 90 millimeter guns, and her 5-inch guns against observation posts. Quincy hurled 29 8-inch and 31 5-inch rounds toward J-35 and a couple of other suspected observation posts before she ceased firing at 1032, noting “several direct hits and several near-misses” with the main battery, and reported hits with the secondary, but adding that with “these results, a further expenditure of ammunition was not justified; also the spotting plane was low in fuel and returning to base.” The ship temporarily retired out of Big Willy’s range while she awaited the next aircraft.
Nevada meanwhile eased into position and became a more enticing target so Big Willy shifted fire to her. Rodman and then Plunkett joined the battle that afternoon, the lighter destroyers often waging an unequal duel with the enemy guns. At 1413 Davidson “urgently” ordered Quincy to take on Target J-31 (Y-885/955), a fort with four 90 millimeter guns. The ship replied that her spotting plane only had ten minutes of fuel remaining, and as the aircraft flew off the cruiser reversed course to “set-up on J-31.” Quincy opened up against that battery at 1454, but during the next hour two other batteries, J-40 (Y-901/923) and J-42 (Y-905/923), shot at the ship with discomforting accuracy. Their first shell splashed scarcely 300 yards from the ship, bearing 035°T, at 1511. A minute later two more rounds tore into the water about 500 yards from Quincy, and additional splashes erupted around her port starboard beams at 500 yards, and again at 60 yards as the enemy closed the range. The German gunfire also straddle some of the destroyers, and Quincy momentarily retired from the action at 1519, covering the destroyers with her 8-inch salvoes as she came about, but resumed the battle and fired 76 8-inch rounds a J-31 (1723–1746). Jumpy gun crews on board one of the destroyers fired at a spotting plane as the ships retired for the night.
Quincy rendezvoused with her screen to the south of Grande Passe des Îles d’Hyères to lay in overnight. The ship then received a directive to make for the Golfe de Fos and Étang de Berre, which lie between the Rhône Delta and Marseilles, to support Allied efforts to clear those waters of mines. News reached her that the French liberated Marseilles, however, which countermanded the order, so she returned to the scene of the previous fighting to the south of Cap Sicié.
The ship closed the range toward Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer, but at 1403 witnessed Big Willy fire a 13.4-inch round that passed 700 yards above Aurora — which steamed five miles to the east of the U.S. cruiser. Quincy engaged the enemy to take the heat off the British cruiser, but the Germans turned their guns against Quincy and a shell passed overhead and splashed hardly 30 yards beyond at 1409. The ship prudently reversed course but enemy gunfire zeroed in hot and heavy, and another round splashed just 40 yards off the warship’s starboard beam as she turned. Destroyers laid smoke screens but a shell splashed 300 yards over, followed by another at 500 yards. A plane reported multiple hits on Big Willy and at 1420 noted reassuringly that the battery “looks neutralized.” Just as Quincy and her consorts came about, however, the spotter added: “target straddled several times and area covered but gun still firing.” True to form, enemy shells suddenly cracked the air around the ships and two splashes rose only 50 yards ahead of the lead destroyer. Quincy rang up 30 knots as she withdrew a few minutes later.
The Germans scuttled French tanker Garonne as a blockship in the northern channel to Toulon Roads on 21 April 1944. As Allied troops closed the ring around the port, enemy tugs attempted to take Strasbourg and ex-French light cruiser La Galissonnière in tow and scuttle them in the southern channel, but USAAF North American B-25 Mitchells sank both ships.
Target Nos D-06 and D-07, a pair of German batteries emplaced near the Baie de Marseilles fired at minesweepers that attempted to sweep channels into the Golfe de Fos, and effectively halted their operations. Quincy thus came about to the westward, and Kearny and Plunkett escorted her as the trio raced at 30 knots toward the area (1432–1600 on 24 August 1944) to help the smaller vessels. Quincy followed seven minesweepers for ten harrowing miles up a swept channel to Port-de-Bouc, her men on the lookout for drifting mines.
“I looked over the side once and there anchored in the water was a mine, not more than 50 feet away,” Senn recalled. “I never moved so gingerly in my life,” the captain added, as he backed the cruiser a short distance and then resumed the perilous passage. A spotting plane reported the guns at D-06 as “well camouflaged,” but directed Quincy as she shot at the battery and knocked out a nearby ammunition dump (1806–1900). The ship withdrew a bit and then resumed shooting, sending a total of 85 8-inch rounds and scoring up to three direct hits on casemates, and detonating a magazine (or part of the dump). She then retired back through the swept mines after dusk, and rendezvoused with the rest of the group south of Cap Croisette.
Quincy supported minesweepers off the entrance to the Golfe de Fos the following day, and while her Plane No. 2 passed over D-07, German flak hit the Kingfisher’s gas tank, and the aircraft returned to the ship. Quincy launched No. 1 to relieve the damaged plane, and that evening rendezvoused with the group 13 miles south of Cap Croisette, where McLanahan (DD-615) relieved Plunkett. Quincy left the battle and turned toward Oran at 2000 on the 25th.
The ship anchored in Berth A in Algiers at 1232 on the 26th, replenished her ammunition from Mount Baker, and refueled from tanker American Trader. McLanahan broke the stillness of the Sunday port routine the following day when she sank an object with gunfire that lookouts believed to be a mine. The cruiser then turned her prow northward to return to battle, and reached her station eight miles south of Île de Planier at 0800 on the 28th. At 1040 Émile Bertin signaled her that Big Willy surrendered, however, and Quincy subsequently learned that Konteradmiral Ruhfus yielded the garrison of Toulon and the surrounding area.
“The shooting at Cherbourg was good,” Senn summarized the fighting, “but in southern France German gunnery was even better and more accurate.” A large fragment from one of the Allied salvoes knocked out Big Willy’s left-hand 13.4-inch gun, but the right-hand weapon continued to be serviceable. Bombs and shells plowed the ground around the turret, and French ordnance specialists investigated the position after the Germans capitulated and noted that the larger craters carved out by the heavy naval gunfire stood out compared to the bombing impact holes. When Contre-Amiral André-Georges Lemonnier, the French Navy’s chief of staff, questioned one of the battery’s officers, the German told him that the shelling stunned many of his gunners and they refused to man the guns during the final stages of the battle.
Quincy and McLanahan proceeded toward Palermo, but during the mid watch on 29 August the cruiser’s air search radar detected an unidentified plane approaching. The aircraft failed to acknowledge identification, friend or foe (IFF) and at 0312 Quincy’s antiaircraft guns opened fire. The chastised Allied plane turned on its IFF and running lights, and fired recognition flares, and escaped undamaged. That morning the ships passed through the Strait of Bonifacio and reached the area off Palermo, where they joined Omaha and Marblehead, and the convoy turned toward North African waters. Quincy moored in Berths 2 and 3 alongside the breakwater at Mers-el-Kébir at 0838 on the last day of the month. Chandler hauled down his flag, and command of the task group devolved upon Senn. Omaha and Marblehead received initial orders to make for Recife, Brazil, and Quincy and Cincinnati to sail for Boston and New York, respectively.
Planners selected Quincy to transport President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Argonaut Conferences of Allied leaders at Malta and at Yalta in the Soviet Union. Quincy was accordingly detached from European duty on the 1st of September and steamed in company with Cincinnati, Omaha, Marblehead, MacKenzie (DD-614), and McLanahan across the western Mediterranean, and passed through the Strait of Gibraltar the following day. The group then split up, and Omaha, Marblehead, and McLanahan detached and proceeded on their own, while MacKenzie came about and returned to Oran. Quincy and Cincinnati continued across the Atlantic until the 7th, when Cincinnati detached for New York. Quincy moored at Pier 1, East, Naval Drydock, South Boston, at 0957 on 8 September.
The ship required alterations for the voyage, and workers at the yard installed new equipment including an elevator and a ramp to accommodate Roosevelt’s wheelchair, as well as the Saudi king (see below), who had suffered injuries that prevented him from safely using ladders. The apparatus ran from the main deck on the starboard side of the quarterdeck to the 0-1 level. The alterations included two special gangplanks with chrome railings, and two custom-built boats for transportation. Furthermore, a bathtub, carpets, and small items of furniture, such as lamps and end tables, were added to the captain’s cabin. The work proceeded at a solid pace, and despite security precautions word spread about Quincy’s unique assignment, and wags at the yard referred to the cruiser as “The Showboat.”
Mayor Charles A. Ross of Quincy and members of the city council hosted the ship’s officers during a reception and dinner at the Neighborhood Club on Navy Day, 27 October 1944. The attendees savored a main course of Lobster Newburg or ham, rounded out by a desert of Melon Moulds of Raspberry Sherbet, and followed the hearty repast by dancing with their wives and sweethearts.
The ship returned to sea for training in Casco Bay on Halloween and at times into December, and embarked one OS2U-3 and a Naval Aircraft Factory OS2N-1 of VCS-10. The warship practiced shore bombardment against Seal Island, and shot her antiaircraft guns at target sleeves and a drone. Quincy steamed for Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads on 16 November, where, at times, she trained to repel aerial attacks, carried out an underway battle and damage control problem, and conducted night illumination practice.
Quincy experienced an aviation accident while training in Chesapeake Bay on 1 December. The ship catapulted an OS2U-3 (BuNo. 09582), manned by Lt. (j.g.) John M. Sickler, USNR, and AM1c Murry S. Creswell, USNR, for a spotting flight. The Kingfisher completed the mission but approached too fast for a Charlie recovery and bounced off the water about eight feet into the air, and struck the swells a second time in a slightly nose attitude with the starboard wing low. The starboard wing float dug into a wave, pulling the wing tip into the water and tearing off the wing tip float of the wing.
Sickler and Creswell climbed onto the port wing and attempted to keep the Kingfisher from capsizing, but the swells and the wind rolled the plane over to starboard. The two men crawled around on to the main float and were rescued, though they had suffered minor injuries. An investigation yielded “pilot error” as a contributing cause, but one of the officers who looked into the accident remarked that “there was a considerable amount of air turbulence noted behind the ship close to the water which may have contributed” to the mishap.
A few days before Christmas (13–16 December 1944), the ship pulled into Norfolk Navy Yard, where workers removed some of her topside gear. She then spent the holidays (20 December 1944–3 January 1945) moored to the south side of Pier 88 along the Hudson River at New York City, and returned to Norfolk (3–6 January), where men then reinstalled some of the topside equipment. Quincy also took part in a battle problem and (separate) training exercises, following which, she quietly slipped across to Newport News, Va., and moored portside to Pier 6 South at 1737 on 22 January. The officers in charge of security enforced strict measures and the Army reinforced the Navy and stationed soldiers to help man the entrance to the pier.
Marines began patrolling the pier at 0500 on 23 January 1945, and Quincy called away quarters for muster at 0800. Six minutes later, President Roosevelt and his party began to embark, with the list of VIPs in the chief executive’s entourage reading like a Who’s Who of American leaders that included: Anna E. [née Roosevelt] Boettiger, President Roosevelt’s daughter; Fleet Adm. William D. Leahy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, Army and Navy; Vice Adm. Wilson Brown Jr., Naval Advisor to the President; Vice Adm. Ross T. McIntire, MC, Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and Roosevelt’s personal physician; Maj. Gen. Edwin M. Watson, USA, Senior Military Aide and Appointments Secretary to the President; Justice James F. Byrnes, Director of the Office of War Mobilization; Edward J. Flynn, Advisor to the President; Stephen T. Early, White House Press Secretary; and Maj. Henry W. Putnam, AC, USA. The naval staffs also included 17 officers and enlisted men, some of whom served the passengers their meals, and ten Secret Service agents.
The working party required dozens of sailors to load all of the baggage, but at 0831 the ship cast off her lines and set out in accordance with Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet (CinCLant), Speedletter 0042 of 12 January 1945, and CinCLant Dispatch 201359Z January, which directed Senn as commander of TG 21.5 to chart a course for Maltese waters. Satterlee searched ahead of the ship for U-boats as they stood out to sea, and the ships of the group rendezvoused off the entrance to Thimble Shoal Channel during the forenoon watch. Springfield (CL-66) took station in column astern of Quincy, and Herndon and Tillman (DD-641) moved in to form an antisubmarine screen ahead of the cruisers. Planes flying from the Eastern Sea Frontier patrolled overhead, and during the voyage Allied aircraft flew protective patrols over the ship and her consorts from airfields at Bermuda; Lajes in the Azores; Casablanca, Morocco; Gibraltar; and Malta. When the ships reached the open sea they began to zig-zag in accordance with Plan No. 6.
Satterlee scoured the waters along the group’s passage to Bermuda and detached just before midnight on the 23rd, and informed the Allied garrison on Bermuda that the convoy would reach the rendezvous point off those islands two hours earlier than expected. Herndon and Tillman detached during the morning watch on 26 January 1945, and Task Unit (TU) 21.5.3, consisting of Carmick, Doyle, and Endicott reached the area and formed and antisubmarine screen ahead of the cruisers.
At a point about 300 miles south of the Azores on the afternoon watch of the 28th, the ships of TG 21.5 were relieved by TU 21.5.4, comprising Savannah, Baldwin, Frankford, and Murphy, and Springfield, Carmick, Doyle, and Endicott detached and headed for the Panama Canal while the other vessels shepherded their important charges across the Atlantic. Capt. John S. Keating, Commander, DesRon 17, broke his flag in Murphy. Despite Quincy’s great size, the unruly Atlantic failed to cooperate on more than one occasion, and seasickness plagued some of the guests, including Anna Roosevelt. The president received messages via a specially installed teletype, and the crew kept informed of global events via three news bulletins a day. Quincy held a “Smoker” on her fantail one Sunday afternoon, and the events included boxing matches and a pie eating contest, which Roosevelt and some of the guests observed.
Alarums and excursions punctuated the 29th, and first Murphy and then Baldwin (separately) believed they detected U-boats on their sound gear, only to then evaluate the contacts as fish. The threat of an enemy attack that could claim so many leaders in a single blow was a real one, however, and watchstanders maintained vigilance, keenly aware of their essential passengers. Laub (DD-613) and Nields (DD-616) joined the screen on 30 January, and the following day, Champlin (DD-601) slid into the formation. Following Quincy’s rough passage of the Atlantic, she steamed through the Strait of Gibraltar and made for Maltese waters, launching her Kingfishers to patrol along the Eastbound Convoy Route as the ship passed through the strait. Allied aircraft also flew overhead at times, as did airship K-112 of Blimp Squadron (ZP) 14 out of Naval Air Station (NAS) Port Lyautey [near Kenitra], Morocco, which stayed with the convoy until it passed Bizerte, Tunisia.
As the ships steered for the strategic island during the mid watch on 2 February 1945, Quincy sailed as the senior officer present and the guide, while Champlin and Laub formed an antisubmarine screen, and Savannah sailed in column astern of the heavy cruiser. Laub detached as the ships passed Pantelleria, abeam to port, but Nields rejoined the formation.
The destroyers steamed ahead of Quincy and Savannah as the column passed the breakwater and through the net gate into Malta’s Grand Harbor during the forenoon watch, and a steward wheeled Roosevelt out onto the 0-1 level on the starboard side. A number of people in the chief executive’s entourage joined him as the cruiser serenely glided toward her berth on the embattled island, whose garrison and people had valiantly withstood a siege by the Germans and Italians.
Orion and Sirius, moored to either side, rendered honors, and the British cruiser to the U.S. ship’s starboard included Prime Minister Winston L.S. Churchill. The Royal Marine band mustered on her fantail struck up the “Star Spangled Banner,” and the prime minister doffed his hat and waved to the president, who cheerfully responded in kind. Maltese manning small boats swarmed around the ship to watch the historic occasion, and thousands more gathered along the hillside. Quincy moored starboard side to Boat House Wharf, French Creek, at 1001. Additional ships present included Memphis (CL-13), along with British escort carrier Hunter and monitor Abercrombie (F.109).
Beginning at 1020 that morning and mere minutes after Quincy moored, Roosevelt received calls from a number of leaders and dignitaries on board the ship including: Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius Jr., British Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons R. Anthony Eden, Harry L. Hopkins, Advisor to the President, and British Lt. Gen. Sir Edmund C.A. Schreiber, Governor General of Malta (who twice boarded at 1042 and 1415); British Adm. of the Fleet Sir Andrew B. Cunningham, RN, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff (at 1053); Fleet Adm. Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet, and Commander, Tenth Fleet, and Gen. of the Army George C. Marshall Jr., USA, Chief of Staff of the Army (1107); Adm. Harold R. Stark, Commander, Twelfth Fleet, and Vice Adm. Hewitt (1122); and Prime Minister Churchill and Sarah Churchill, the Prime Minister’s daughter (1138). The crowds applauded and cheered the Prime Minister as he made his way along the pier, and he extended his right arm in the V for Victory salute and then waved his hat at the throng.
Roosevelt, Churchill, Stettinius, and Eden went ashore and toured the island that afternoon (1445–1623). Upon their return to the ship additional guests boarded including: W. Averell Harriman, Ambassador to the Soviet Union at 1520; and a British group comprising Field Marshall Sir Alan F. Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Air Chief Marshall Sir Charles F.A. Portal, RAF, Chief of the Air Staff, Gen. Sir Henry M. Wilson, Chief, British Joint Staff Mission, Gen. Sir Hastings L. Ismay, Secretary of the Imperial Defence Chiefs of Staff Committee and Deputy Secretary of the War Cabinet; and Maj. Gen. E. Ian C. Jacob, Military Assistant Secretary to the War Cabinet (at 1755).
The guests departed the ship that evening, bound for Yalta in the Crimea by air. Scores of sailors again shuffled their baggage off to a convoy of Army trucks, which loaded the cargo into USAAF Douglas C-54 Skymasters. Following a dinner on board with Churchill and Eden during the second dog watch, Roosevelt went ashore and boarded The Flying White House, a VC-54C (Ser. No. 42-107451) also known as the Sacred Cow. The modified plane included an executive conference room with a large desk and a rectangular bulletproof window, a fold-down bed, an electric refrigerator, then a rarity, and a private head. A battery-powered elevator aft enabled him to board. Officers concerned with his safety displayed the Sacred Cow’s serial number as 42-72252. The plane carried the president to the strategic meeting with Allied leaders including Soviet Premier Joseph V. Stalin and his staffers at Yalta.
Quincy, Baldwin, Frankford, and Murphy stood out of Malta at 0820 on 6 February 1945, and the destroyers staunchly ploughed alongside the cruiser until they reached Port Said, Egypt, where they arrived during the morning watch two days later on 8 February. The ships entered the Suez Canal at an average speed of seven knots and Quincy anchored in Lake Timsah off Ismalia. Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Giles, USA, Commander, Army Forces in the Middle East, and Minister to Egypt, and Capt. Keating and their party boarded the ship and conferred with Senn (1035–1130). At 1450 Quincy weighed anchor and dropped anchor in Great Bitter Lake at 1632. Murphy anchored nearby, and Italian battleships Italia (ex-Littorio) and Vittorio Veneto also lay at anchor in the vicinity. The following day, the cruiser detached Murphy so that the destroyer could embark King Ibn Saud [Abdulaziz] of Saudi Arabia and his entourage.
Murphy passed through the canal into the Red Sea to Jidda, Saudi Arabia. The lookouts sighted the port through the haze at 1030 on the morning of 11 February 1945, “a flat, dusty collection” of buildings,” Ens. W. Barry McCarthy, USNR, of the ship’s company recalled. “Far to the right, looking like a mirage, was one of the King’s palaces.” A cluster of giant oil storage tanks to her portside “testified” to the kingdom’s ongoing progress. As the destroyer threaded her way through the reefs, a dhow manned by three mariners tied up alongside and a barefoot pilot named Mohammed E. Salamah, boarded, who elicited great curiosity among the crewmen as he led the ship into port.
The Saudi monarch and his royal party then embarked including: Abdullah bin A. al Saud, the king’s brother; Prince Muhammad bin A. al Saud and Prince Mansour, his sons; Minister of Finance Sheikh Abdullah bin S. Al-Hamdan, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Yusuf Yassin, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom Sheikh Hafiz Wahba, Privy Counsellor Sheikh Bashir Saadawi, the king’s physician, Dr. Rashad Far’oun, and a host of courtiers, valets, and slaves, protected by ten guards chosen from the different tribes and bearing golden-hilted sabers and daggers.
The king originally intended to feed the ship’s crew as a gesture of friendship and planned on bringing 85 sheep on board, but Col. William A. Eddy, USMC, Minister to Saudi Arabia, persuaded him to reduce the total to 48 animals, enough to feed the royal party. The ship’s company rigged a sheepfold aft by stringing lines from one depth charge to another, and the Saudis used the improvised pen to feed and slaughter the animals during the voyage.
The king settled into a tent pitched over oriental rugs spread upon Murphy’s forecastle. His servants spread a huge white tablecloth over the carpet, upon which they served a sumptuous repast of lamb and rice, rounded-out by smaller platters of chopped potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Cmdr. Bernard A. Smith, the ship’s commanding officer, Ens. McCarthy, and a number of other officers squatted as they partook of the meal at the king’s request. His Majesty carried on a conversation through Col. Eddy, and following the meal, a luxurious hammered-metal bowl filled with rosewater and holding an island equipped with Lux soap was passed from hand-to-hand so that the attendees could wash.
The ship in the meanwhile came about and steamed back up the canal to the lake. The weather was clear but the wind was from the north, and consequently, she sailed through a white-capped sea and a number of the guests struggled with seasickness. The Americans launched a depth charge for their regal guests’ amusement and showed three films: Janie, Best Foot Forward, and The Fighting Lady. The Saudis enjoyed all three motion pictures and the king asked many questions while viewing the third, but eventually fell asleep before he finished watching the film. King Ibn Saud presented the crew with $12,000 (in Egyptian currency) presents, which worked out to about $60 for each chief and $40 for each seaman. The officers received royal ceremonial costumes consisting of a gold headdress and a soft cashmere shawl.
Roosevelt and his party returned to Quincy on 12 February 1945 and the next day (1205–1535) he received King Farouk I of Egypt. The monarch inspected the ship informally, and chatted with Roosevelt about a number of issues, including the U.S. purchase of large quantities of long-staple Egyptian cotton during the war. Both leaders expressed their hope that the trade would continue, to the mutual benefit of both nations. The president also surmised that tourists would wish to visit Egypt following the war, and that the number of their excursions would increase as civilian air and sea travel resumed.
That afternoon Allied planes flew Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia and his party, which included John K. Caldwell, Minister to Ethiopia, President of the Crown Council Ras Kassa, and Vice Minister of Finance Alto Y. Deressa, to the British airfield at Deversoir, Egypt. Adm. Leahy and Minister Tuck met the emperor and his entourage, and they were driven in cars to the pier, where they boarded a launch that took them to Quincy. The emperor and his party climbed on board the cruiser on that busy day (1722–1900), carried out an informal inspection of the ship, and then the emperor, Caldwell, and Deressa joined Roosevelt in the president’s cabin for tea. They began their conversation in French and then shifted to Amharic, which Deressa interpreted. Roosevelt thanked Haile Selassie for arranging a site and buildings for the Americans to use as a legation in Addis Ababa.
Their discussion included a maritime issue concerning the Ethiopian need for a port. Roosevelt asked the emperor if he preferred Djibouti or one in Eritrea (most likely Massawa). Both posed international problems because the French occupied the former and the Italians had the latter until the Allies drove them from the area (1940–1941). Haile Selassie replied that from a short term view, Djibouti would provide the best port because of an existing railroad, but that for a long term project he preferred a port in Eritrea. The president inquired how long such a project might take, and the emperor responded that it could be accomplished. Roosevelt mentioned that if the Ethiopians contracted with an American company for the task that they should not pay an excessive price, and offered the same advice in regards to petroleum.
Murphy passed northward through the Suez Canal and at 1020 on 14 February approached Quincy on the cruiser’s starboard bow. The navigation team erred slightly, however, and the destroyer carried away a wingtip and float of one of the cruiser’s Kingfishers. Murphy successfully lay alongside on her second attempt, and her passengers boarded Quincy at 1120. Roosevelt received the king, and at 1409 Gen. Giles, and they discussed issues primarily concerning the Middle East, including the immigration of Jews to the British Mandate of Palestine. The king, Giles, and the other guests departed at 1557. The residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, which is located in the Diplomatic Quarter of Riyadh, has since been known as Quincy House in honor of the meeting.
Quincy immediately got underway and passed through Port Said that night. Baldwin and Frankford rendezvoused with the cruiser off that port during the mid watch, and searched ahead for U-boats until Quincy detached them and at 1052 on the 15th she moored to Buoy B2 at Alexandria, Egypt. Stettinius, Maj. Gen. Giles, and Hooker A. Doolittle, Consul-General (Alexandria), boarded the ship to confer with Roosevelt (1100–1143). Five minutes after noon Eddy boarded, and then Churchill and his party, who met with Roosevelt briefly (1225–1556).
The ship steamed for Algiers that afternoon. Allied planes of the Mediterranean Air Force flew protectively overhead during the first few hours of the journey, Baldwin and Laub scoured the seas ahead for submarines, and Savannah steamed astern. Frankford detached for engineering repairs at Oran. The ships zig-zagged at times, and as they neared Pantelleria during the morning watch on the 17th, Champlin and Nields relieved Baldwin and Laub, which steered for Oran. The vessels passed through the Tunisian War Channel, and as they passed Cap Bengut Light, ten miles abeam to port at 0637 on the 18th, Parker (DD-604) joined the convoy. One-by-one the ships entered Algiers harbor that morning, and Quincy moored starboard side to the south side of Mole de Passageur at 1001.
Presidential confidante Harry Hopkins, Ambassador to the United Kingdom John G. Winant, Jefferson Caffery and Alexander C. Kirk, the U.S. ambassadors to France and Italy, respectively, British Vice Adm. Geoffrey J.A. Miles, RN, Flag Officer, Western Mediterranean, and French Vice Adm. Emile M. Ronarc’h, boarded at times that afternoon and talked with the chief executive. Rumors circulated that Roosevelt intended to meet with Gen. Charles de Gaulle, but the French leader did not attend the meetings.
Following the presidential conference the cruiser set out for her return voyage to the United States at 1600 on 18 February 1945. Champlin, Nields, and Parker formed an antisubmarine screen ahead of Quincy, Savannah steamed astern, and a number of aircraft patrolled the convoy’s intended course: four USAAF Lightnings and a British Vickers Wellington of the Mediterranean Air Force, and a pair of Lockheed PV-1 Venturas of Fleet Air Wing (FAW) 13.
Baldwin, Frankford -- which completed her repairs and raced to join her consorts -- and Laub joined the convoy that evening, as did Murphy the following morning. The Venturas handed-off their charges to another couple of Venturas of FAW-15 and K-109 of ZP-14 out of Port Lyautey. Quincy passed the Rock of Gibraltar abeam to starboard seven miles away at 1306 on the 19th.
Champlin, Laub, Nields, and Parker then detached and made for Oran, while Quincy and her remaining screen continued to plow across the Atlantic. Murphy in the meanwhile during the voyage detached from the cruiser and returned to New York Navy Yard for a minor overhaul. Maj. Gen. “Pa” Watson, however, suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage while the ship headed for home at 0830 on the 20th. At midnight the Venturas came about, and planes from other commands continued the air cover. Communications problems sometimes plagued the important passengers, and that evening Frankford left the formation and proceeded ahead about 50 miles in order to transmit radio messages, and rejoined the convoy after midnight.
The following morning the ships rendezvoused with TU 21.5.4, comprising Carmick, Doyle, and Endicott. Shortly thereafter they experienced some tense moments when an unidentified ship appeared on the horizon and Carmick detached to investigate the intruder, only to discover Douglas E. Howard (DE-138), which screened Mission Bay (CVE-59) and TG 22.1. On the afternoon of 24 February the convoy rendezvoused with TU 21.5.2, consisting of Augusta, Herndon, Satterlee, Tillman, and Kennebec (AO-36). Savannah, Carmick, Doyle, and Endicott refueled from the oiler and then detached, and Augusta slid into position to further escort Quincy.
The other ships detached and Quincy led Augusta past Cape Henry Light abeam to port on the evening of 27 February 1945, and she moored port side to Pier 6 at Newport News at 1823. Adm. Jonas H. Ingram, Commander, Atlantic Fleet, and his party boarded the cruiser briefly (1847–1950) and greeted the president and his party, who then disembarked. Maj. Gen. Watson’s body was removed from the ship at 2050.
Rain and sleet fell the next day when Roosevelt, his daughter, Fleet Adm. Leahy, Under Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew, Gen. Marshall, James Byrnes, Chairman of the War Manpower Commission Paul V. McNutt, Attorney Gen. Francis B. Biddle, Assoc. Justice of the Supreme Court Felix Frankfurter, and financier and political consultant Bernard M. Baruch attended Watson’s burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.
Quincy meanwhile that morning shifted to starboard side Berths 7 and 8 at Norfolk Navy Yard and completed an availability, which removed most of the special equipment installed for the voyage. Quincy stood down the channel at 0954 on 5 March 1945 for the war in the Pacific, holding dawn alerts and antiaircraft gunnery practice as she passed down the east coast. No. 3 shaft caused problems on the 6th, but crewmen did not discover a casualty and Quincy continued.
The cruiser passed 21 miles from Bird Rock Light off Pittstown Point, Crooked Island, in the Bahamas, during the morning watch on 7 March, and just before noon launched both Kingfishers to help in firing her heavy and light machine gun battery practice. She recovered the port plane, but the starboard Kingfisher, an OS2N-1 (BuNo. 01444), slipped off the net and capsized. Crewmen scrambled and rescued the pilot and the passenger, but could not retrieve the aircraft despite multiple attempts, and the ship sank her with 20 and 40 millimeter gunfire.
The warship anchored off Limón while she embarked Panama Canal pilots on 9 March 1945, and Senn then “conned” the ship into the canal, where the pilots took over. The cruiser passed through the Gatún Locks and moored port side to Pier 6 at Balboa, where the ship craned on board another Kingfisher, also an OS2N-1 (BuNo. 01268), she obtained from NAS Coco Solo to replace the lost plane. Quincy then set out across the eastern Pacific, holding dawn alerts, zig-zagging, and launching the planes each day to search the sea ahead of her for Japanese submarines. She occasionally passed other ships, and as she steamed past Molokaʻi in the Hawaiian Islands on the 20th fired her 5-inch guns at a plane-towed sleeve and then the 8-inch guns at a target raft, followed by additional 5-inch firing runs and evasive and tactical maneuvers against simulated torpedo boat attacks, before mooring bow and stern to buoys in Berth C-3 at Pearl Harbor, T.H., at 1911 that evening. Other vessels present in the harbor included Mississippi (BB-41).
The ship spent the next few weeks replenishing and loading gasoline, ammunition, and fresh water, and training off the Hawaiian Islands, primarily to the south of Oahu, in preparation for her sojourn back into war. At times Quincy fired her main and secondary batteries for shore bombardment practice, including runs against a target raft and other shooting at Kahoʻolawe Island; both day and night antiaircraft exercises; night battle and illumination practice; and a fighter direction exercise.
Quincy set out for Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands at 0801 on 23 March 1945, zig-zagging, holding dawn alerts, and launching planes to search her course ahead for threats. The ship carried out evasive maneuvers to repel simulated aerial attacks, and sometimes sent up a Radioplane TDD-1 target drone for that purpose. Quincy crossed the International Date Line at 2400 on 3 April, and Gilligan (DE-508) escorted the ship into Eniwetok Lagoon, where she moored starboard side to the port side of tanker Gemsbok (IX-117) in Berth K-3 at 1631 on the 7th. The tanker refueled the cruiser, which then shifted berths to L-4, and the following day Quincy and Gilligan shaped a course for Ulithi in the Carolines. The cruiser occasionally catapulted her drone aloft for machine gun practice, and joined the Fifth Fleet at Ulithi when she anchored there in Berth 25 at 1137 on 11 April, and then shifted berths and refueled from Schuylkill (AO-76).
Two days later she departed Ulithi in company with TG 50.8.8, also consisting of cargo ship Cowanesque (AK-79) and Mayfield Victory (AK-32), along with Cacopon (AO-52), Escalante (AO-70), Neshanic (AO-71), and Patuxent (AO-44), screened by Kalk (DD-611) and Welles (DD-628), and Hilbert (DE-742), Raymond (DE-341), and Weaver (DE-741).
The ships rendezvoused with TG 50.8 at 0517 on the 16th, and Quincy joined Rear Adm. Lloyd J. Wiltse’s CruDiv 10 in TF 58.2, part of Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher’s TF 58 Fast Carrier Task Force. The ship initially took station astern of Baltimore and ahead of Pittsburgh (CA-72), protected by Stockham (DD-683), Twining (DD-540), and Wedderburn (DD-684) of Destroyer Division 106, which formed an antisubmarine screen ahead of the column.
On 6 April 1945 the Japanese launched the first of a series of ten mass kamikaze suicide plane attacks, interspersed with smaller raids and named Kikusui (Floating Chrysanthemum) No. 1, against Allied ships during Operation Iceberg — the invasion of Okinawa in the Ryūkyū Islands. These attacks involved 1,465 aircraft through 28 May. Quincy began operating with TG 58.1 on 17 April, which comprised Bennington (CV-20) and Hornet (CV-12), Belleau Wood (CVL-24) and San Jacinto, Indiana (BB-58) and Massachusetts (BB-59), Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Vicksburg (CL-86), Vincennes (CL-64), Miami (CL-89), and San Juan (CL-54), and their destroyer screen. The enemy air threat compelled the ships to stand dawn and dusk alerts, and for lookouts to unceasingly scan the sky.
Quincy screened her charges in an area about 125 miles east of the southern tip of Okinawa while the carrier aircraft struck Amami-guntō and Minami daitō jima on the 18th. Carriers dispatched information throughout the day that indicated that the strikes achieved excellent results; and knocked out several artillery positions and left warehouses and other buildings ablaze. The attacking ships then withdrew to the southeast, maneuvered overnight, and the carriers hurled their planes against the enemy again the following day, when pilots reported that their attacks started “large fires” in the target towns. Quincy received word that night to expect a “heavy enemy air attack on the morrow,” but the Japanese did not await the sun and at 2002 on the 20th snoopers infiltrated the Allied screen. Night fighter planes attempted to intercept the assailants but they escaped into the darkness, though during the mid watch at 0127 they attained better results and splashed a pair of bombers they tentatively identified as Mitsubishi G4M1 Type 1 attack planes — known as Bettys.
The destroyers of the group shelled Minami daitō jima during the afternoon and first dog watches on 21 April, and knocked out radar installations and started fires. Quincy maneuvered with the group during the bombardment, and stood by on the 23rd as a destroyer sank a mine with gunfire. A moderate rainfall, visibility of no more than two to four miles, and a ceiling at 900 feet compelled planners to cancel air strikes on 24 April, and Quincy’s lookouts heightened the tension when they sighted a mine on the starboard beam at 300 yards.
The ship could only remain in the battle if properly replenished, and thus refueled from Tomahawk (AO-88) and loaded ammunition from, and unloaded empties to, Vesuvius (AE-15) on the 26th. The next day North Carolina (BB-55), Hale (DD-642), and Hickox (DD-673) reinforced the group, and the carriers launched their final strikes of the sortie against enemy positions and local shipping. Quincy supported the carriers through the storm of fire, and came about with them on that date and on 30 April returned to Ulithi, refueling from Cowanesque and then anchoring in Berth 13 in the atoll’s northern anchorage. Quincy replenished and carried out antiaircraft drills during her all too fleeting interlude in the carnage.
In company with Indiana, Massachusetts, and the ships of TF 58, Quincy stood out of Ulithi at 0745 on 9 May 1945 for the area east of Kyūshū. The cruiser accomplished a variety of gunnery drills and tactical maneuvers while en route, including shooting at a towed sleeve target, and refueled from Guadalupe (AO-32) on 12 May. On that date Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Quincy screened the carriers as they sent their planes against Amami-guntō. Alabama (BB-60) and Monterey (CVL-26) detached from TG 58.1 and worked with 58.3 that afternoon. A trio of enemy planes slipped past the pickets at 0144 on the 13th but night fighters chased them off, and that day the carriers launched seven strikes against Japanese airfields and positions on Kyūshū. Enemy planes attacked some of the picket ships but mostly did not penetrate their screen or the combat air patrol (CAP) to threaten Quincy, as she operated further within the screen. An unidentified intruder lunged toward the ship’s station from a distance of 13,000 yards at 2144, however, and her 5-inch guns fired at the plane until it turned and fled the scene.
Japanese planes attacked again before dawn on 14 May 1945 while Quincy maneuvered about 110 miles east of southern Kyūshū. Other ships reported “Bogeys” (unknown aircraft) in the area at 0130 and the cruiser set Condition I (manned and ready for battle) in her antiaircraft battery. An enemy plane closed the ship four minutes later but her 5-inch guns drove it off. Some of the gunners stood down but a message warned the ship of another attack and she sounded general quarters at 0334. Quincy’s men wearily scanned the darkness and at 0355 a Japanese twin-engine plane, possibly a Betty, roared toward the ship from an initial range of 13,000 yards. The 5-inch guns opened fire and splashed the attacker, which observers saw burning as it fell into the sea and exploded. Congratulatory messages from the task group flowed into Quincy crediting her with the “kill” and “fine shooting.” The ship secured from battle stations at 0433 but kept the antiaircraft guns manned at Condition I.
The decision proved a prudent one when additional enemy planes probed the formation at 0640, and Quincy again manned her battle stations and joined the other ships in blasting the attackers, one of which exploded in mid-air near Baltimore, and another one of which crashed near Vicksburg. The carriers sent the first of six strikes aloft to pummel Kyūshū, and one more Japanese plane penetrated the screen at 0814 but crashed in flames, bearing 050°. Quincy and some of the other ships came about to the southward overnight and opened the range from the enemy airfields. The following day the ship replenished ammunition from Wrangell (AE-12) and then refueled from Ashtabula (AO-51), and on the 16th lay alongside Sabine (AO-25) and topped-off her fuel. That afternoon the ship uniquely supported the carriers when she launched the TDD-1 and Bennington, San Jacinto, Hornet, and Belleau Wood (in order) practiced their antiaircraft proficiency against the drone. The cruiser stood dawn and dusk alerts, and maneuvered within formations as the carriers launched raids against the enemy homeland.
Quincy launched both Kingfishers, led by Lt. Charles O. Little of VCS-10, for search and rescue patrols but the planes also spotted gunfire and strafed Japanese troops in Omonawa on Tokunoshima on 19 May. Harrison (DD-573) reported a possible sound contact during the forenoon watch and the group swung sharply into emergency turns, but three destroyers investigated the potential submarine but evaluated the contact as “doubtful.” Quincy loaded provisions from Aldebaran (AF-10) on the morning of the 20th, and then launched her drone again as San Jacinto, Belleau Wood, Hornet, and Bennington in succession shot at it. The group sometimes altered its nightly withdrawals, most likely to keep the enemy guessing, and came about to the northward overnight.
Carrier planes encountered a paucity of worthwhile targets on Tokuno shima on 21 May 1945, and shifted their attacks against Kikai jima to the north. The ship sometimes closed Okinawa during the fierce fighting and steamed within 35 miles of the embattled island, bearing 280°, at 1225 on the 22nd. The following morning Quincy refueled from Cache (AO-67), and then catapulted her drone aloft while San Juan, Quincy, and Indiana in turn fired away at the pilotless craft. Quincy supported carrier air strikes against Amami-guntō and Asumi-guntō on 24 May, and closed Okinawa to 32 miles at 340° at 0507. Just before midnight a Japanese plane swept in against the ships and destroyers fired at the attacker until night fighters pursued but lost the aircraft in the clouds, its starboard engine afire. A few minutes later Quincy’s lookouts observed a burning plane fall into the water 005° at 20 miles, though could not determine if it was the same or another Bogy. After sunrise an apparent Aichi D3A Type 99 carrier bomber closed to within 37 miles of the ship but CAP fighters splashed the Val. Foul weather caused planners to cancel air strikes on 26 May.
Quincy refueled from Neshanic and replenished from Aldebaran on the 27th, Duluth (CL-87) joined TG 58.1, and Quincy’s busy drone provided target practice for Baltimore and Pittsburgh. At 1500 that day a change in command from the Fifth Fleet, Adm. Raymond A. Spruance in command, to the Third Fleet, Adm. William F. Halsey Jr., took place that adjusted all task number designations from the 50’s to the 30’s — Quincy thus served in TF 38.1, and Alabama shifted to the group. Quincy rounded-out the month by refueling from Nascoma (AO-83) and replenishing from Shasta (AE-6), and launching both Kingfishers for radar calibration checks.
Carriers sent their planes against Amami-guntō and in offensive sweeps in that area on 1 June 1945, and the following day against Japanese troops on Okinawa. On the 3rd, however, Army teams ashore radioed that they no longer required naval air strikes to support their advance, though the ships maneuvered to the southeast, rotating their group axis in readiness for flight operations.
Capt. Senn had received the Legion of Merit for his command of Cincinnati during operations in the South Atlantic (22 May–21 October 1943). He then received a Gold Star in lieu of his second award of the medal for leading Quincy through a “period of intense combat activity” (17 April–3 June 1945) while supporting the carriers during the Battle of Okinawa.
Observers in the meanwhile on 1 June 1945, noted “a weak cyclonic circulation” in a position approximately 250 miles north of the Palaus. The circulation moved northwestward at about ten knots, and weather planes flew patrols to observe the progress of the storm, beginning on 2 June. The following day, the storm grew into a typhoon and proceeded toward the Ryūkyūs. Naval aircraft flying from the Philippines and Okinawa and a plane of the USAAF’s XXI Bomber Command operating from the Marianas tracked the tempest. The typhoon advanced to a point about 300 miles south of Okinawa and appeared to break up, but a secondary, and more violent typhoon, replaced the primary typhoon. The second storm separated from the original disturbance and moved in a northeasterly direction — toward the Third Fleet.
Quincy refueled from Escambia (AO-80) on the morning of 4 June 1945, and then took part in another antiaircraft exercise when she calibrated radar and launched her drone for Massachusetts, Baltimore, and San Juan. The group cancelled the exercise at 1046, however, and formed Disposition 5-R, Quincy taking station 254° at 5,400 yards from Massachusetts, the guide, and withdrawing to the east on alternate courses 105° and 110° at 12–14 knots to outrun what the ship succinctly categorized as the “threatening weather.” The cruiser estimated the typhoon centered in an area bearing 215° at 270 miles, and approaching at 16 knots. The first typhoon appeared to be located in an area bearing 285° at 170 miles, and also moving at 16 knots but likely to pass out of range. Hornet served as the guide and officer in tactical command (OTC) as the task group began to zig-zag in accordance with Plan No. 6 at 2134, and at 2212 changed the group course to 110°, speed 12 knots.
The second typhoon continued furiously and Quincy and her consorts chartered different courses and rang up varying speeds as they attempted to escape the oncoming tempest: they ceased zig-zagging and turned to course 300° at 0135 on 5 June; 12 knots at 0150; 14 at 0224; 000° at 0320; 12 knots at 0400; and 16 knots at 0420. Despite the fleet’s best efforts, however, the storm slammed into them, and Advance Headquarters Pacific Fleet on Guam reported that “mountainous” seas crashed into the ships. Quincy plotted the typhoon’s center bearing 215° at 20 miles, moving at 26 knots, course 030°, at 0500. The group swung on to various courses and speeds to clear the typhoon’s center but to no avail, and southeasterly gale-force winds rose from 40–50 knots to 80–90 knots.
Hornet transferred the guide to Massachusetts at 0528 but the battleship’s staff realized the gravity of the situation and at 0555 issued orders that all ships were to maneuver independently. Quincy began lying to in the typhoon’s right quadrant, central area. The wind reached 120 knots, the seas rose to 50–60 feet, and the visibility dropped from barely 1,000 yards to a scant 100 yards as the storm’s full fury ripped into the cruiser. Men clung on for their very lives, and the fierce weather tore away both whaleboats and the port plane, which disappeared over the side into the maelstrom, and damaged the starboard Kingfisher beyond repair, as well as No. 1 40 millimeter and Nos 1 and 2 20 millimeter gun tubs.
The typhoon scythed through the fleet and at 0620 the center passed close by Quincy. The foul weather momentarily abated as the barometer dropped to 28.16, and the wind decreased to 30–40 knots. The center passed within 15 minutes, however, and the wind shifted to 285° and rose again to 80–90 knots. Quincy could do little but ride out the typhoon and at 0800 began steering southerly courses at slow speeds taking the wind and sea on the starboard beam. The typhoon finally granted the exhausted men a reprieve when the winds decreased to 28 knots by noon on the 5th. Quincy only rang up six knots as she continued to battle moderate swells and fresh winds from the west while the storm abated into the afternoon and evening, the air warm and humid.
Reports from the other ships filtered in throughout the day and revealed a devastating blow to the fleet: Bennington and Hornet each survived the tempest with nearly 50 feet of their flight decks bent over forward; the typhoon structurally weakened Belleau Wood and San Jacinto’s hangar decks; Baltimore emerged with a weakened bow but operational; Pittsburgh’s bow broke off forward of frame 26; Duluth’s bow forward of Turret I was “badly battered” and in danger of falling off; Schroeder (DD-501) sustained a break at frame 30 that ran nearly the width of the ship and extended two feet down both sides; Stockham lost power on two boilers and incurred miscellaneous damage topside; and Conklin (DE-439) survived on only a single boiler, and without her radar or gyro-compass operational.
In all the typhoon damaged 36 vessels: Alabama, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Missouri (BB-63); Bennington and Hornet; Belleau Wood and San Jacinto; Attu (CVE-102), Bougainville (CVE-100), Salamaua (CVE-96), and Windham Bay (CVE-92); Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Quincy; Atlanta (CL-104), Detroit (CL-8), Duluth, and San Juan, Blue (DD-744), Brush (DD-745), Dashiell (DD-659), De Haven (DD-727), John Rodgers (DD-574), Maddox (DD-731), McKee (DD-575), Samuel N. Moore (DD-747), Schroeder, Stockham, and Taussig (DD-746); Conklin, Donaldson (DE-44), and Hilbert; Lackawanna (AO-40) and Millicoma (AO-73); and Shasta.
Inadequate weather reporting and communications hampered the admirals’ responses; however, a court of inquiry found Halsey, Vice Adm. John S. McCain, who led TF 38, and Rear Admirals Donald B. Beary and Joseph J. Clark negligent in their implementation of precautions learned as a result of a typhoon on 18 December 1944, noting a “remarkable similarity between the situations, actions and results” of the admirals concerning the two storms. Pittsburgh, Duluth, Schroeder, and Conklin detached with escorts and made for Guam for repairs.
The Allies resumed their high tempo operations against the Japanese forces on Okinawa, but the remaining battered ships slowly proceeded northward. Quincy refueled from Caliente on the morning of 6 June 1945, and that afternoon carried out antiaircraft gunnery drills on “surprise bursts,” and jettisoned the starboard Kingfisher damaged in the typhoon. Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), Oklahoma City (CL-91), Topeka (CL-67), and Ringgold (DD-500) joined the task group after dusk. The carriers launched nearly 400 planes against Japanese forces on Kyūshū on 8 June, and the following day Quincy refueled again from Caliente. The cruiser launched her TDD-1 and along with several other ships fired away at the drone, as she did more than once on the following days. Meanwhile, some of the battleships and cruisers detached and bombarded Minami daitō jima and Oki daitō jima, after which about 100 carrier planes tore into the defenders. The Allies repeated the shelling and bombing the next morning, and at 1854 on the 10th came about for a period of replenishment and upkeep in Philippine waters. Quincy anchored between Berths 75 and 90 in San Pedro Bay in the Gulf of Leyte at 1702 on 13 June. She then refueled from Big Horn (AO-45).
Rear Adm. Thomas L. Sprague relieved Rear Adm. Clark as Commander, TG 38.1 on 15 June 1945. On the 23rd Baltimore and Quincy shifted from TG 38.1 to 38.4. Quincy hoisted on board an OS2U-3 (BuNo. 09652) to replace one of her lost Kingfishers, newly received on 24 June from the aircraft pool with Aviation Repair and Overhaul Unit 2 at Naval Air Base Samar. On the morning of the 28th, Baltimore slid alongside Quincy and Wiltse transferred his flag to the latter, which then refueled from storage tanker Abarenda (IX-131).
Quincy set out from Leyte Gulf with Vice Adm. McCain’s TF 38 at 0711 on 1 July 1945. The task force initially consisted of 14 carriers, and intended to carry out a series of raids against Japanese airfields, ships, and installations from Kyūshū to Hokkaido. A replenishment group and an antisubmarine group each included escort carriers. Quincy took station astern (in order) of Missouri, Wisconsin (BB-64), and Iowa (BB-61) as they steamed through the channel and out to sea. Iowa, South Dakota (BB-57), and Missouri in turn served as the guide as the ships passed through Surigao Strait and charted northeasterly courses. Quincy often held dawn alerts and practiced her antiaircraft gunnery against towed sleeves. Chicago (CA-136) and Stockham reinforced TG 38.4 on the 8th, and Quincy then refueled from Escalante. The following night the ship also held a dusk alert as they neared Japanese waters.
McCain launched the first attacks of the battle on airfields in the Tōkyō plains area at 0400 on 10 July 1945. The Japanese camouflaged and dispersed most of their aircraft, which reduced the aerial opposition the attackers encountered, but also diminished the results obtained as the planes tore into revetments, bridges, and other structures. Quincy held a dawn alert at 0325 and escorted the carriers throughout the day’s fighting, and repeated her efforts when she held a dawn alert at 0315 on the 11th. Excitement punctuated the mid watch on the 12th, and at 0202 Stockham reported sighting five torpedo wakes plowing through the water on course 130°. The group turned to that heading to comb the wakes, but Norman Scott (DD-690) reported four more wakes churning northward a minute later. None of the ships reliably detected submarines on their sonar, however, and Quincy logged that porpoises likely were the culprits of the agitation. After dawn she held antiaircraft drills with her drone and refueled from Chipola (AO-63).
On 14 and 15 July 1945 low overcast and poor visibility compelled the Americans to shift their attacks, and they withdrew from the area steering easterly courses. They then turned westward and launched planes that raided airfields, vessels, and rails in northern Honshū and Hokkaido, strikes that wrought havoc with the vital shipment of coal across the Tsugaru Strait.
The seasoned warship joined Task Unit (TU) 34.8.1, a bombardment group that formed part of a larger group including Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota, Chicago, and nine destroyers, for the raids. Rear Adm. John F. Shafroth broke his flag in command of BatDiv-2 and led the task unit from South Dakota. The Allies deployed a vast array of ships and Missouri served as the larger formation’s guide, and the OTC sailed in Yorktown (CV-10).
Quincy sounded a dawn alert at 0300 on 14 July 1945, and the day turned into a clear one with unlimited ceiling and slight to moderate seas. At 0832 her radar plot detected an approximately 4,000-foot peak rising in the vicinity of Kamaishi, Honshū, bearing 245°, 76 miles. “The homeland island of Japan is now visible on the starboard bow,” Capt. John A. Waters Jr., Quincy’s commanding officer, ordered passed to the crew at 0900 as the ships continued to close northern Honshū. All hands manned their battle stations shortly thereafter at 1030 and made preparations for firing. “Never Forget Pearl Harbor!” some of the ships signaled. South Dakota steamed as the guide of her column and led Indiana, Massachusetts, Quincy, and Chicago (in order) at an average distance of 1,250 yards between the ships and an initial speed of 25 knots. Nine destroyers screened the heavier ships.
As they readied for battle Quincy attempted to reach Spotting Plane No. 1, but the aircraft’s radio failed. The ship launched Spotting Plane No. 2, an OS2U-3 (BuNo. 09652), Ens. Joseph A. Hudak, USNR, and ARM3c Gordon R. Coady, USNR. The Kingfisher’s pilot routinely checked in with the ship on the radio spotting frequency. “There’s some flak [antiaircraft fire] coming up,” he then reported anxiously, and added, “But we can see the target and are ready to observe.”
The ship experienced some tense moments around noon when she temporarily lost power forward, which knocked her forward gyro out of commission, but crewmen scrambled and restored power. At 1210, South Dakota opened fire on the Kamaishi Steel Works. The concern comprised one of the seven major plants of the Japan Iron Co., and some of the sailors involved nicknamed it “The Pittsburgh of Japan.” The complex of iron works and warehouses lay in the narrow valley of the Otatari River, surrounded by rugged crests that hindered the barrage. The battle marked the first gunfire attack on the Japanese home islands by Allied heavy warships during WWII.
Quincy joined the cacophony of fire at 1221, concentrating her opening rounds against the south wharf area from an initial range of 21,500 yards. Hudak and Coady corrected her shooting. “Up 200 yards, right 200 yards,” Hudak called. The cruiser responded thunderously and the pilot shouted: “No change, no change!” During the next two and a half hours, Quincy pounded piers, warehouses, and oil tanks. The concussions from the explosions spread numerous fires from people’s cooking fires to paper partitions and straw matting, kindling further blazes within warehouses and nearby oil tanks. Heavy smoke rose from the conflagrations and obscured the targets from the spotter planes. Planners had utilized aerial reconnaissance photographs and radar positioning data to pre-plot the shoots, and therefore continued the shelling.
Chicago spotted what she identified as an enemy escort and opened fire with her secondary batteries at the ship, beginning at 1251. The 5-inch rounds straddled the ship, and she trailed smoke, came about, and returned to port. Quincy opened fire with her 5-inch battery on an apparent escort vessel in the harbor at 1314, and the range-finder operator reported that the first salvo straddled the ship and the second hit, though could not confirm the hit in the confusion of the fighting. The Japanese vessel came about and sought cover at 1322, and Quincy fired 26 rounds at her — neither cruiser could determine if they fired at the same ship or two separate ones. Quincy then resumed firing at the south pier, five minutes later shifting her shooting to the north pier. The spotter reported three direct hits on the pier, which began to burn. Quincy then scored a direct hit on an oil tank situated between the two piers, and at 1346 passed 4,200 yards abeam of Sangan-jima, a steep island with a wooded summit, and then shifted fire against more tanks north of the dock area. Shafroth signaled Quincy to cease firing at 1415, and she came about and opened the range.
The ships sailed past the harbor six times, firing 802 of their 16-inch, 728 8-inch, and 825 5-inch shells — Quincy shot 368 8-inch rounds. The Allied naval blockade gradually cut the flow of raw materials into Japan and the plant operated at only half its capacity. Following the war, the Allies inspected the effects of the bombardment and estimated that the shelling cost the Japanese the equivalent of two and one half months of coke production, and a month of pig iron production. Several Japanese planes retaliated unsuccessfully against some of the other ships and Quincy’s men anxiously scanned the sky until she opened the range, and at 1930 secured from general quarters. Shafroth released CruDiv 10 and DesDiv 96 from TU 34.8.1 at 2125, and they then rejoined TF 38.4.
The ships steamed overnight so that the carriers could launch strikes against Japanese forces on Hokkaido and northern Honshū on the morning of 15 July 1945. Light southwesterly winds at ten knots shifted to the northeast and an early morning fog cleared as the ships closed the Honshū coast. Slight to moderate seas rolled throughout the day, and the visibility became eight miles with unlimited ceiling. Quincy sounded a dawn alert at 0300, and during the morning watch cleared the formation and brought on board an OS2N-1 and an OS2U-3 from Wisconsin while the battleship bombarded the enemy.
Quincy rejoined the formation and received a report that the Japanese shot down a U.S. plane off the western coast of Hokkaido, so she catapulted the two Wisconsin aircraft on a search and rescue mission (0843–1440). The enemy did not shoot at the Kingfishers, most likely because they flew above the thick overcast over Hokkaido, but although the planes searched into the afternoon they could not find the lost aircraft or pilot.
TF 37, Vice Adm. Sir H. Bernard Rawlings, RN, in command and including British carriers Formidable (67), Implacable (86), and Victorious (38) reinforced the Americans at 0715 on 16 July. Eight days later Indefatigable (10) arrived. Allied planes meanwhile on the 17th bombed targets around Tōkyō, and night CAP from Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) protected U.S. and British ships, including Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and British battleship King George V (41) that shelled the industrialized Mito-Hitachi area of Honshū. The following day carriers launched aircraft against the naval station at Yokosuka and airfields near Tōkyō, while the ships of TG 34.5 detached and made an offensive sweep of the areas bordering Sagami Wan, outside the entrance to Tōkyō Bay, bombarding as they went. The Allies sank eight Japanese ships including training cruiser Kasuga and escort destroyer Yaezakura, and damaged five vessels including battleship Nagato.
The fleet shaped a course out of the area to the eastward in order to clear the expected track of a typhoon to the southwest. The ships continued steaming to the eastward to avoid the approaching tempest on 19 July, but carriers sent planes that damaged Japanese battleship Haruna and carriers Amagi and Katsuragi.
Boston and Saint Paul (CA-73) reported to TG 38.4 on the morning of the 20th. Quincy then catapulted both of the Wisconsin Kingfishers and one of her own planes, Hudak and Coady’s OS2U-3, and refueled from Lackawanna. The visibility was five miles and a fresh breeze blew across the area during the plane’s three hour and 30-minute flight.
At approximately 1100 the pilot attempted his first Charlie recovery since reporting on board Quincy. Hudak approached too fast and elected to go around again. On his second attempt he again approached too quickly, and bounded off a swell in the slick to a height of 20 feet. Hudak applied throttle to prevent the Kingfisher from landing too hard but overshot the remainder of the slick and landed abeam of the ship in rough water.
The pilot attempted to take off again with full emergency throttle (42 in M.P.), full low pitch and three-fourth flaps, but only bounced off the swells several times, and the port wing float dug into a wave, which practically tore it off. The ship radioed the crew to orbit, stand by for a Dog recovery, and to be prepared to abandon the plane. A rescue destroyer slid in to Quincy’s wake and took station on her starboard quarter, and the cruiser headed into the wind at eight knots.
The plane landed smoothly, but the impact nonetheless carried away the damaged port wing float. Hudak and Coady scrambled on to the starboard wing to counterbalance the aircraft, but before they could reach the wing’s tip the Kingfisher rolled over. Both men inflated their lifejackets and swam clear, and at 1150 the destroyer rescued them, and then sank the plane with gunfire. Hudak and Coady sustained minor injuries. The ship recovered her port plane without mishap at 1724. “In view of the limited opportunities for practicing underway recovering in the forward area,” an observer in Quincy reported in the wake of the mishap, “it is recommended that all seaplane pilots be given sufficient training in such recovering to prevent loss of aircraft through inexperience before being assigned to a ship based unit.”
Quincy carried out training exercises while steaming in formation during the following days, using her drone and towed sleeves. She reprovisioned from Aldebaran and rearmed from Lassen (AE-3) on 21 July, and the next day rearmed from Mauna Loa (AE-8) and then Wrangell. Quincy maneuvered throughout the 24th as McCain’s TF 38 attacked Japanese airfields and shipping along the Inland Sea and northern Kyūshū, supported by long-range strikes by USAAF aircraft. Carrier planes flew 1,747 sorties and sank 21 ships including battleship-carrier Hyūga, heavy cruiser Tone, training cruiser Iwate, and target ship Settsu, and damaged 17 vessels. The carriers repeated the sweep on 25, 28, and 30 July. Wasp joined the task force on 26 July, and that afternoon Quincy went alongside Chicopee (AO-34) for refueling. A Japanese mine drifted past close aboard at 1640 on the 28th, and the ship marked it with smoke floats.
Indiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Chicago, Quincy, Saint Paul, and ten destroyers reformed TU 38.8.1 on 29 July 1945. Shafroth broke his flag in command of the unit, BatDiv-2, and BatDiv-8, in South Dakota. Quincy and CruDiv 10, escorted by DesDiv 95, sailed in Bombardment Group Able, TU 34.8.1. The ships formed cruising disposition 4-S-B at 1050, and steamed toward a position to the east of Hamamatsu, Honshū. A British group, TU 37.1.2, consisting of King George V and destroyers Ulysses (R.69), Undine (R.42), and Urania (R.05), detached from TF 37 at noon and shaped northeasterly courses to rendezvous with Shafroth. At one point during their voyage, Ulysses and Urania collided. The impact slightly damaged Ulysses, but both ships continued in the operation.
Night CAP and spotters flying from Bon Homme Richard supported the operation. Quincy steamed as the leading heavy ship, followed (in order) by Saint Paul, Boston, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Chicago on a line of bearing 272° at 2200. King George V sailed on a line of bearing to the eastward. The destroyers formed a screen ahead, astern, and on the disengaged side of the heavier ships.
Quincy’s SG radar picked-up a 173-foot lighthouse on Omae-Saki at a range of 47,700 yards five minutes later. Night fighters intercepted a Bogey at a distance of 25 miles at 2220, and the ships shaped a course of 002° at 20 knots, and then dropped to 15 knots. The ship’s radar operators in her Combat Information Center (CIC) marked the ranges and bearings to Kakesuka Lighthouse near the entrance to the Tenryū River as the ships closed the shore. Light haze and low clouds restricted visibility, and the typhoon, despite being tracked nearly 500 miles to the southwest, impacted the weather. Light winds blew from the south-southeast, and slight seas rolled in long, low, easterly swells.
The battleships opened fire at 2320, King George V against the Japanese Musical Instrument Co. (which manufactured aircraft propellers). Quincy’s first salvoes rang out a minute later against a military barracks on the west edge of Hamana-ko. The ship hurled 102 8-inch rounds at the area, and then shifted fire to “unidentified industry” and the western approaches to Benten jima Bridge. The spotting plane experienced difficulty tracking the ship’s fall of shot and seven minutes before midnight, reported that the crew could see the salvoes land but not the bursts.
At one point, Undine fired at a small group of unidentified vessels that sailed nearby — most likely fishing boats. South Dakota fired her final 16-inch salvo of the shelling at 0011 on 30 July. Eleven minutes later, the ship opened fire with her 5-inch guns against the enemy airfield at Tenryū, ceasing fire at 0029. Quincy shot 168 8-inch shells at the factory and bridge, including 54 rounds into the factory after the aerial spotter observed “no change,” but causing an “uncertain” amount of damage.
The ships formed cruising disposition 4-S-B at 0035 on 30 July 1945, the guide in South Dakota, and retired from the area. A Japanese plane approached the force during the mid watch, but then veered off to the eastward, and night fighters chased another pair away from the retiring vessels. The British ships detached and returned to their task force by steering southerly courses. Quincy, CruDiv 10, and DesDiv 95 cleared the group at 0430 on the 30th, and rejoined TG 38.4 and screened the carriers as they launched raids against Japanese forces in the Tōkyō and Nagoya areas.
Quincy refueled from Escalante the following day, and began the mid watch on 1 August 1945 operating about 400 miles to the south of Tōkyō. The typhoon approached the Third Fleet, however, and Halsey brought the ships about to the southward. Quincy recovered a pair of Kingfishers from Wisconsin that morning and then rearmed from Vesuvius. The cruiser attempted to catapult her drone for antiaircraft practice, but “unfavorable” seas and winds caused her to cancel the exercise and continue to evade the tempest, and the fleet eventually charted a course for a position near 25°N, 137°E.
Quincy took part in exercises during the following days, refueled from Neches (AO-47) on 3 August 1945, and on the 7th from Taluga (AO-62). Fog blanketed the group on the 8th and planners cancelled the day’s air strikes. Three enemy aircraft took advantage of the weather to attempt to penetrate the screen, but CAP fighters splashed two of the attackers and the third bolted.
CruDiv 10 cleared the task group and rendezvoused with other ships to reform TU 34.8.1 at 0341 on 9 August 1945. High, thin, scattered clouds drifted across the morning sky and gradually cleared to unlimited visibility, though a stationary front caused cloudiness that decreased visibility to seven miles as the ships closed northern Honshū. Light fog also existed along the coast at times but did not hinder the aerial spotters. A moderate breeze from the southwest touched slight seas.
The task unit included Boston, Chicago, Quincy, and Saint Paul, together with British light cruiser Newfoundland (59) and New Zealand light cruiser Gambia (48), escorted by ten American and three British destroyers. The ships formed cruising disposition 4-S-B and stood toward the shore. The vessels shifted their formation at 1247 and deployed to their bombardment positions (in order): South Dakota, Massachusetts, Indiana, Quincy, Chicago, Boston, and Saint Paul. Newfoundland and Gambia plowed ahead on a line of bearing to the south.
Japanese antiaircraft guns shot at the Allied spotting aircraft as South Dakota commenced firing her main battery at Kamaishi at 1250. The other vessels followed her salvoes in rapid order, and Quincy fired at Target Area 905505, located about two miles west of the city’s center and bordering on a four-line railroad and the Kasshigawa River. The ship trained her guns against a factory on the north side of the river, and at barracks and various buildings. The spotter had some difficulty in distinguishing between Quincy’s bursts and those of Chicago’s, and at 1310 reported that Quincy’s rounds fell on the railroad tracks and rolling stock and nearby buildings, and five minutes later the ship calculated her range to the targets as 16,500 yards. The enemy antiaircraft guns attempted to shoot down the spotting plane, which radioed that it flew through “considerable” fire from below, and the ship kept up her shelling and at 1330 passed the tip of the Ozaki Peninsula at 3,000 yards.
The spotters persevered through the flak and at 1350 reported that they finally distinguished between Quincy’s and Chicago’s bursts. Ships in the screen suddenly alerted their consorts to a Bogey approaching at a range of five miles, and CAP fighters intercepted the intruder, only to discover an Allied plane. Quincy passed 4,000 yards from Sangan-jima at 1433, and requested to fire an additional 50 8-inch rounds “as we are making direct hits on target.” Shafroth concurred and the ship continued to blast the enemy until the admiral ordered all of the ships to cease fire at 1445. Quincy shot 315 8-inch rounds during the battle, and the aerial spotter estimated the following damage: 40 direct hits in the barracks area damaging 15 houses, 11 direct hits on administrative buildings, and 15 direct hits on railroad tracks damaging cars and cutting the rails in about five places. At 1602 an unidentified Japanese plane dove on the formation as it retired, but escaped despite fire from multiple ships. The Allies continued to struggle with identification issues and CAP fighters radioed that another pair of Bogeys approached at 1619, only to again discover “friendly” aircraft.
Capt. Waters received the Bronze Star for his “meritorious achievement” while commanding Quincy in the battles against the Japanese during this period (10 July–15 August). “By his fighting spirit, resourceful leadership and devotion to duty, (he) contributed directly to the success of these vital operations, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself, his gallant ship and the United States Naval Service…”
Quincy rejoined TF 38 on 10 August, and the following day refueled from Neches and went alongside Boston to receive 8-inch powder charges. The task group changed its base course to 270° at 2301, in order to avoid a typhoon threatening the area from a position about 700 miles to the south. The ships charted courses to evade the foul weather and the next day turned to 245° at 16 knots to avoid, or pass through, the outer area of the typhoon, 500 miles distant but closing on a north-northeasterly track. The Allies continued to adjust their courses and speeds to escape the menace, and turned to the southeast on the 13th to refuel. At twilight the CAP splashed five Japanese planes that attempted to break through the screen. Quincy refueled from Sebec (AO-87) on 14 August, and the group made to the northeast to be in position to launch strikes against the enemy mainland the next day.
The ship held her customary dawn alert at 0355 on 15 August 1945, and maneuvered in the area as the carriers launched their first strikes of the day at 0415 against the Tōkyō plains area. The Japanese accepted the terms of unconditional surrender, however, and McCain cancelled the follow-up strikes and recalled the attackers. Quincy received the “suspend air strikes” order at 0634, and at 1117 hoisted Wiltse’s personal flag while Halsey announced the end of the war and the Allies celebrated V-J [Victory in Japan] Day — 14 August in the Eastern Pacific. Fragmentary communications prevented some of the Japanese forces from learning of the surrender, and planes approached the task group while the ships opened the range from the Japanese home islands. The fighters of the CAP splashed seven of these aircraft during the afternoon hours.
Quincy refueled from Lackawanna and received stores from Thuban (AKA-19) on the 19th, and Iowa, San Diego, and DesDiv 106 detached from the formation. Quincy refueled from Pamanset (AO-85) on 21 August 1945, and then steamed to the southwest to avoid the path of an oncoming typhoon, located approximately 250 miles to the southeast. The ship detached and joined TF 35, the Third Fleet’s Support Force, on 23 August. Additional ships in the formation at times included South Dakota, Cowpens (CVL-25), Pasadena (CL-65), and San Juan.
Aircraft carriers launched reconnaissance missions over the Japanese homeland as Halsey led ships of the fleet into Sagami Wan on the morning of 27 August 1945. TG 35.90, comprised of Colorado (BB-45), Idaho (BB-42), Mississippi, New Mexico (BB-40), and West Virginia (BB-48) augmented TF 35 and steamed astern of the task force, and Knapp (DD-653) rendezvoused with the force separately. TF 35’s OTC sailed in Pasadena and Cowpens acted as the guide.
Quincy sounded a dawn alert at 0405, and detected the Japanese island of Izu Ōshima on her radar bearing 302°, 73,200 yards, at 0825. The cruiser entered Sagami Wan at 1147, and at 1409 let go her anchor in Berth 20 in 34 fathoms of water. Crewmen noted with relief that the enemy did not resist, and that many Japanese troops and civilians stopped their activities and watched the fleet enter the bay, while others continued with their daily tasks. Nonetheless, the ship continued to man her antiaircraft guns, and held dusk and dawn alerts.
Quincy refueled from Neches on 28 August, and the following day Iowa and Missouri, and then South Dakota separately, detached and proceeded toward Tōkyō Bay. Two ex-Japanese submarines manned by American prize crews meanwhile stood into the area.
The cruiser weighed anchor on the morning of 30 August 1945 and in company with TG 35.3 and BatDiv 3 stood out to sea for standby fire support stations in Sagami Wan as Allied occupation troops landed in Tōkyō Bay. Quincy maneuvered in an area about seven miles to the south of her anchorage, and a mile to the westward of a north-south line of cruisers. The ship launched her planes, and men anxiously awaited news of the landings as the Fleet Landing Force’s TF Able, consisting of the Fourth Marines, reinforced by additional U.S. marines and sailors, and by a composite battalion of British Royal Marines and sailors, seized Japanese positions including the naval station at Yokosuka, and advanced inland to link-up with paratroopers of the 11th Airborne Division as they landed at the airfield at Atsugi. “All news received throughout the day indicated a[n] orderly, bloodless occupation,” Quincy logged with relief. “No need for active fire support at any time.” The ship returned to her anchorage at Berth 20 at Sagami Wan. Gambia and Newfoundland detached for the Tōkyō area on the last day of the month.
The Japanese formally surrendered on board Missouri in Tōkyō Bay on 2 September 1945. Quincy steamed into the bay for the ceremony on the 1st, transferred some men to a destroyer, and anchored in Berth C-70 at 1528. The ship shifted her berths several times during the following days, and ended the war with a pair of OS2U-3s of VCS-10 embarked. The heavy cruiser loaded stores from Lesuth (AKA-125) on the 5th, and on the 15th Shafroth boarded Quincy as she lay anchored in Berth F-43, and presented a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Legion of Merit to Wiltse. The latter transferred his flag to Vicksburg at 1649 on 17 September.
A typhoon approached the area the following day, causing high winds and rough seas. Quincy veered her anchor chain to 75 fathoms and prepared to get underway during the mid watch, and the winds gusted to 61 knots at 0500. The center of the typhoon swept by 150 miles to the north at 1000, and the wind and seas began to abate.
Quincy joined the Fifth Fleet as part of TF 53, Eastern Japan Force, operating in Tōkyō Bay, at 0900 on the 20th. Spruance broke his flag command of the fleet in New Jersey (BB-62), and Piedmont (AD-17) assumed administrative senior officer present afloat duties. Quincy refueled from Niobrara (AO-72) two days later, but on 28 September a storm lashed the area with high seas and wind gusting to 40 knots. A tanker dragged her anchor and drifted down into Oakland (CL-95), and the cruiser slipped her starboard chain and got clear. Quincy made preparations to get underway and veered her anchor chain to 75 fathoms, but rode out the storm as it passed during the forenoon and afternoon watches.
The ship refueled from Chicopee on 20 October 1945, and Capt. Waters assumed command of TU 53.7.2, which also comprised Dortch (DD-670), Gatling (DD-671), and high-speed transport Runels (APD-85). Quincy led her consorts during the demilitarization of the Izu-shotō, a group of volcanic islands stretching south and east of Honshū’s Izu Peninsula (23 October–6 November). Dortch and Gatling escorted the cruiser as she stood out of Tōkyō Bay, where Runels then rendezvoused with them. Gatling reconnoitered Miyake-jima on the morning of 24 October, and Dortch sighted and sank a floating mine. Quincy then landed parties, usually with a Japanese interpreter, on selected beaches, which met with the islanders and then returned to the ship. In addition, she often catapulted planes for reconnaissance and photographic flights.
The deep coastal waters and rapid currents in those islands made anchoring a dangerous evolution, and on Halloween the ships also cleared their anchorages at Hachijō-jima and proceeded to sea to ride out a storm. Quincy consequently returned to Tōkyō Bay on 2 November 1945 and refueled from Kaskaskia (AO-27), and then resumed the operation until the 6th. The ship turned over her duties to Gatling and returned to Tōkyō Bay, where Phobos (AK-19) transferred provisions to her.
Quincy shifted from TF 53 to Rear Adm. Deyo’s TF 56 on the evening of the 8th, and two days later reached her new command in Mutsu-wan on northern Honshū, and moored starboard side to Santa Fe (CL-60) at Ominato-ko at 0821. At 1337 the crew greeted a familiar face as “Mort” Deyo shifted his flag from Santa Fe to Quincy, and the latter then anchored in Berth 5. Quincy subsequently (20–22 November) came about and returned to Tōkyō Bay, where she moored to a buoy in Berth 33 at Yokosuka at 0800.
Commodore Oliver O. Kessing broke his flag in Quincy at 0817 on 26 November 1945, and at noon the ship stood down the channel singly and at last set out for home. Quincy crossed the International Date Line at 1957 on 1 December, and at times during the voyage exercised at various drills and passed a number of ships. Quincy established radar contact with the Farallon Islands at 0430 on 8 December, and at 0819 passed triumphantly beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The ship moored port side to Pier 7 at San Francisco while the agricultural and customs inspectors boarded and inspected her, the passengers debarked, and the commodore hauled down his flag, and at 1224 anchored in Berth 1, Anchorage Area 12. Quincy refueled from self-propelled gasoline barge YOG-16 the following day.
Quincy moved down the coast from San Francisco on 10 December 1945, passed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge at 1847, and at 1454 the next day moored starboard side to South Dakota at San Pedro. The ships present also included Alabama and Wisconsin. Rear Adm. Howard F. Kingman, who led BatDiv 9, relieved Halsey of the command of the Third Fleet on 22 November, and Halsey hauled down his flag and departed from South Dakota. Kingman was promoted to vice admiral on 10 December, and at 1010 three days later shifted his flag from South Dakota to Quincy. The cruiser then stood out to sea and followed the coastal piloting route back to San Francisco (13–14 December), where she moored starboard side to the south side of Pier 22.
Quincy was decommissioned on 19 October 1946 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. The ship was assigned to the Bremerton Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet, until 31 January 1952, when the need for additional heavy ships to provide gunfire support in the Seventh Fleet for United Nations (UN) troops fighting in the Korean War led to her recommissioning. Following fitting out and readiness training, she was assigned to CruDiv 3 on 25 February 1953. The cruiser worked-up initially out of Long Beach, Calif., and then turned her prow westward to the war zone.
The East Bloc forces halted their final major offensive in the Korean War on 19 July 1953, and on the morning of the 27th UN and communist representatives signed an armistice at Panmunjom in Korea which ended the large-scale fighting. For TF 77 the final day involved strikes on northern airfields; Bremerton (CA-130) and Saint Paul completed their last missions at Wŏnsan; and the Amphibious Force busied itself in preparing to repatriate prisoners. At 2200, as the allied troops emerged from their positions across the Korean peninsula, the ships in Wŏnsan harbor turned on their lights.
The communists repeatedly violated provisions regarding reinforcement, however, and beyond the demarcation line frustrated the activities of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Committee. Quincy deployed at the end of the war but at a tense time as she steamed in the screen of the Fast Carrier Task groups ranging off the Korean coastline (25 July–1 December 1953).
Following Quincy’s final deployment, she was again decommissioned on 2 July 1954 at Bremerton. The ship returned to an inactive status with the Bremerton Group until 13 September 1973, when inspectors from the Board of Inspection and Survey determined that she was “unfit for further Naval service.” The inspectors noted in particular that the ship, along with Bremerton and Rochester (CA-124), “had not been modernized.” In order to meet “the minimum demands of present day operations, extensive repairs and modernization would be required. The costs of such a program are disproportionate to the value of the ships.” Quincy was therefore stricken on 1 October 1973.
The Navy sold ex-Quincy to American Ship Dismantling Co., 3300 N.W. Yeon Avenue, Portland, Ore., for $1,156,667.66, on 1 September 1974, and on 12 September 1974 released the vessel from naval custody and transferred the ship -- that had hosted a President, Kings, a Prime Minister, and an Emperor, not to mention admirals and generals -- to her purchaser.
Quincy received four battle stars for her World War II service.
|Commanding Officers||Date Assumed Command|
|Capt. Elliot M. Senn||23 June 1943|
|Capt. John A. Waters Jr.||14 June 1945|
|Cmdr. Bruce L. Carr||13 April 1946|
|Capt. Lucius H. Chappell||17 January 1952|
|Capt. Arthur H. Taylor||December 1952|
Mark L. Evans
6 June 2018