THE PIERRE VICTORY IN ENEMY ACTION - APRIL 6, 1945 by CHARLES C. BARTLEY The PIERRE VICTORY entered Kerama Retto in Convoy with 6 other ships. Because of the nature of their cargo, the S.S. PIERRE (V) with 2 other Victory ships, the S.S. HOBBS and S.S. LOGAN, were not allowed to enter the main anchorage; but were moved to an anchorage between the 2 small islands, some distance from the main anchorage. The only other ship in this area was an L.S.T. and the only defensive fire power in the attacks which followed, was that supported by the 4 ships. All attacks were by suicide planes resulting in both the S.S. Hobbs (V), the LOGAN (V) and the LS.T. being rammed by the Kamakazis and set afire. One attacking plane was definitely destroyed by the PIERRE (V), one was accredited by all observers as a plane knock down and one other direct attack was beaten off by rapid accurate fire. At 1535 on April 6, 1945, all ships received warnings of an air attack and all hands went to their battle stations. At 1620, low flying enemy planes were seen heading for the main anchorage off our starboard side. Gun fire was opened up by all ships in range but no hits was observed. An enemy plane crashed into the starboard side of the L.S.T. midships, exploding and setting her in flames. At 1624, a low flying enemy plane (ZERO) was seen moving in the same direction and about 4000000 yards, the plane banked sharply and headed directly for the Pierre (V) at about a 30 ft. elevation. Fire opened up immediately with 3"50 and 5"38 guns. The starboard 20MMs opened up at about 2000 yards. At about 1500 yds. distance, the plane was hit by a burst of our 5"38 gun tearing off part of its port wing, causing the plane's line of flight to change from amidships toward the after part of the ship. All starboard 20MMs were observed hitting at various times and also close burst from the 3"50. At about 80 yards from the ship, the plane received a direct hit from the 5"38 gun, exploding the plane and causing wreckage to hit the water about 60 yards off the starboard quarter. At 1635, A Jap single engine plane came into view around the island and headed over the anchorage. Fire opened with the 3"50 and 5'38 at about 2500 yards distance. Starboard 20MMs opened up at about 1800 yards. The third round from the 5Z"38 was seen to burst directly underneath the plane and at the same instance, the plane burst into flames and crashed. Other firepower was being directed at the plane and tracers were seen hitting but observers watching the action were of the opinion that the 5'38 burst was the causing for it to explode. At 1640, low flying suicide plane came in from our starboard side and started for the center of the anchorage. The S.S. PIERRE (V) and the 3 other ships in the anchorage opened fire. The Pierre (V) opened fire at about 3000 yards distance and the 20MMs opened up at about 20 yards. The plane then changed course, went around the edge of the anchorage and across the ship's bow. The starboard 20MMs and 5"38 ceased fire as their guns would not bear. The 3'50 kept up continuous fire and near misses were observed. The plan then banked sharply and headed back for the anchorage. The 3"50 continued fire and the 5"38 opened up at about 3500 yards. At about 2500 yards, the plane straightened out and headed directly for the LOGAN (V), at about 1800 yards. The port 20MM opened ftre and tracers were seen striking the plane. After crossing our bow from Port to Starboard, the plane crashed into the bridge of the Victory Ship laying off our starboard bow, setting her in flames. At 1652, the PIERRE (V) hoisted anchor and proceeded out of the anchorage for fear of an explosion of the burning ship and for maneuvering. At 1730, a low flying suicide plane was spotted at about 4500 yards off our starboard side, making a run for the ship. Fire opened immediately with 3'50 and 5"38. The 20MMs also opened fire at long range; all guns firing rapidly. At about 1800 yards, the plane banked sharply to the left, crossing our stern. The 5"38 continued firing until plane was well past the ship. No hits observed. At 1745, a low flying suicide plane was seen making a run on the Victory ship off our stern, but this ship was in no position to fire. The plane crashed into the bridge of the Victory ship, setting her on fire. At 1810, a dog fight was observed off our starboard side between our HELLCATS and Jap Zeros. Two Jap planes were shot down in flames. April 7th, 1945 0300, received warning of enemy air attack, all hands to the battle stations. 0310, a twin engine Jap bomber passed over the Pierre (V) after dropping bombs on the main anchorage. The Pierre (V) held its fire because of poor visibility and did not undergo any more attacks while laying alone at an anchorage in Kerama Retto awaiting movements to Okinawa but the guns were manned continuously for 5 days because of constant alerts and air attacks in the vicinity. A vigilant watch was maintained at night for guard against suicide boats which were active in this area.
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