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Sinking a Battleship and Dodging Kamikaze Attack in WW2 | Leyte Gulf

Sinking a Battleship and Dodging Kamikaze Attack in WW2 | Leyte Gulf

>>Franklin D. Roosevelt: Dec. 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. [The Battle of Surigao Strait | Philip Hollywood]>>Philip Hollywood: I was little small-town kid from New Jersey. My dad was in the Navy, my oldest brother was already in, so I wanted to go. After the Pearl Harbor attack, patriotism was running very high, and you had to have parental consent to join the armed forces at 17,
[FC2 Philip Hollywood [Ret.] | U.S. Navy – World War II] and my mother did not want to sign. But my father said, “Let him go up there to New York. They’re not going to accept him.” Because I was a very skinny kid. I think I weighed about 118. So I went up to New York, enlisted, and they accepted me. So it was kind of a shock to my mother. I wasn’t too bad a looking guy.>>Michael Dolan: When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, millions of Americans were galvanized into a patriotic gesture
[Editor, American History magazine] that also put them in contact with something larger than themselves: a goal, a quest, a mission. ♪ music playing ♪>>Philip Hollywood: After completing advanced fire control school, the first ship I was assigned to was the USS Melvin. It was the proudest day of my life when I finally walked aboard that ship. She looked like, to me, like everything I wanted, a fighting ship. I was thrilled and excited. The sad part was that as we sailed by Long Branch, New Jersey, I could see my hometown. I was seasick as a dog, just throwing up and retching and “Get me off!” Well I was never seasick again, strange enough. Everybody, we wanted to face the enemy. Wasn’t thinking anything else. I didn’t miss my parents, I didn’t miss home, anything. [SIREN] Destroyers were known as the tip of the spear. We were detached single destroyers to go out, and our purpose was we detected on our radar major Japanese flights coming down to alert the main landing area to that. ♪ music playing ♪ More destroyers were either sunk or damaged in the Okinawa campaign than in the rest of the total war in the Pacific. ♪ music playing ♪>>Michael Dolan: A destroyer is essentially a warship that was like a giant cigarette boat from “Miami Vice.” It was nothing but engine and hull with a few guys studded around it with guns. Being a frontline ship, they were often lost. I recently read one tally that had 77 American destroyers lost, 17 of them by kamikaze attack, which seemed in that list to be the leading cause of destroyer mortality. [PLANE PROPELLER WHRRRR]>>Philip Hollywood: This is a very good photograph. And in combat, guess where I was? Right up top in the director here. Wherever we pointed on target, the guns automatically pointed. There were moments when I was afraid, not sure if I was going to live or die. But one thing for certain, I wanted to fight and save our ship. The patriotism was raging in my blood. The first combat I saw was at Saipan, where we discovered a surface blip on our radar, and it was a submarine, which we subsequently sank. Shortly thereafter that same night, we picked up another submarine signal, and then we sank that submarine also. So that was my first kind of little bit of excitement. Felt great. That’s what I wanted to do. [Philippines Invasion | October 1944] When we got to the Philippines, the kamikazes became quite frequent. You’re literally on your own. And we didn’t give it another thought until the Japanese wised up and decided to kamikaze us.>>Michael Dolan: For the 1930s and into the 1940s, Japanese youth had been inculcated into this culture of Bushido, the warrior culture of Japan. And they had been force-fed the idea that all was for the emperor. The emperor was a god of Japan. That it was better to smash yourself in defense of the emperor than to remain whole. Because the planes were coming at a given ship in a swarm, and they were not the most predictable pilots in the world. Oftentimes, they were making their first and last flight on that trip, the idea being that you would have so many planes in the air, each loaded with explosives or carrying a bomb or both, that the enemy couldn’t possibly shoot all of them out of the sky. It was like — it was the aerial equivalent of a banzai charge.>>Philip Hollywood: During a kamikaze attack, being in the main battery director, we were on telescopes. Looked like he was coming right down our throat. I was kind of frightened. My heart was pounding. One of them looked like he was going to hit us. We kept hitting him, we kept hitting him, and I would say, “Well, this guy’s going to hit us.” I could see flecks of his wings breaking up. That’s the moment I looked death in the face. And then all of a sudden the ocean came into view, and it had crashed in the ocean. It was a new experience, trying to kill an opponent who only wanted to kill you and not survive. If anybody at that time says they weren’t scared, I don’t think they’re telling the truth. [EXPLOSION] All these destroyers were sunk.>>Michael Dolan: By October of 1944, when we get to the invasion, the Japanese empire has now been rewoven into a noose, and the Americans, the Allies are pressing forward on multiple fronts. There were more than 300 ships involved, 200,000 men. It took place across 100,000 square miles. The scale alone makes it the biggest naval battle in history.>>Philip Hollywood: Oct. 24, 1944. It was 3 a.m. Our destroyer squad had received orders that we were going to be the initial combat attack on the Japanese force. It involved a number of warships: battleships, cruisers, destroyers. Probably one of the last great battles involving warships.>>Michael Dolan: You only saw a few battles in World War II that had anything like this volume. Much more often it was task force on task force or ship on ship, but never anything of this grand scale. [Japanese Imperial Navy] The Japanese had believed the entire war that there would be one great battle in which they would smash the Americans and that would be the end of it. It was an article of faith with them. And that’s why it was so important for the Americans to win. [CRASHING WAVES]>>Philip Hollywood: As we closed in on our torpedo run, we were illuminated by star shells. They were literally over the ship, so we were lit up like daylight at that moment. The Japanese wanted to kill us before we could kill them. And by this time, the cruisers and battleships were firing so they could fire all their big batteries at them. [ARTILLERY FIRE]>>Michael Dolan: The sky is completely black, there’s no moon. The Melvin and the other destroyers are keyed up, they are revving their engines, they’re at their maximum speed. There is water splashing on the decks of these destroyers from incoming enemy rounds. It’s like something out of the movies.>>Philip Hollywood: We could see shells from the battleships and the cruisers just like going through the air, just like that floating light. Then they would come down. When there was a hit, it would be an explosion. [EXPLOSION]
♪ dramatic music ♪ It’s a sight I’ll always remember. The Japanese ships were firing on us, and the shells were landing with huge splashes on all sides of the ship and in front of us. The ship is shuddering. We had to keep going. Because I was in the director, I’m hearing other ones saying, “Wow, that was close.” [ARTILLERY FIRE] I could hear the boom-booms rattling into the ships. It all happened so fast you don’t think. You just want to do your job. Get out. ♪ dramatic music ♪ We went in fast. dropped our torpedoes. ♪ dramatic music building ♪ [EXPLOSION] We hit the Japanese battleship Fusō, broke it in half and sunk it. And we were out of there. ♪ gentle music ♪>>Michael Dolan: The Fusō went down with great explosions, and there were those who survived and got off the ship who spoke afterwards of seeing it appear to break in half. It was clearly mortally wounded.>>Philip Hollywood: We made a quick turn, and the engine burners were told to make smoke, so we were retiring under a whole screen of black smoke. ♪ music playing ♪>>Michael Dolan: When Phil Hollywood, aboard the USS Melvin as part of the Americans defending the Surigao Strait undertook that battle, they were beginning the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which effectively destroyed the Imperial Japanese Navy as a force in the rest of the war. ♪ music playing ♪>>Philip Hollywood: When I look back at that battle, I feel so lucky that we survived. I think it’s important that we tell these stories so that people don’t forget what was sacrificed for our freedom. So I talk to my children and my grandchildren because I think they should know what went on. If we all keep it a secret, history will never know. I would describe war as pure carnage, destruction of facilities and of human lives. It’s incomprehensible to me how this happened, so I believe in talking about it. I’m proud of my service to my country. ♪ dramatic music ♪ [In memory of Philip Hollywood, 1925-2016]

Reader Comments


  2. Fantastic history! Thank you and your generation for your undying commitment to this country, God speed.

    Gary HT2 USN 75-81

  3. Don't believe all that BS about japanese kamikaze, first of all no man in japan was dumb enough to use A6M2 zeros as suicide bombers, kamikaze missions was a very end of war thing, and early examples of it may just be failed missions and pilots facing death the most courageous way they can think of.. at the end of the war japan was desperate for high performance planes and would only use planes which were nearly destroyed anyway. For us to think that japanese officials were dumb enough to send young pilots in fighter planes on suicide bombing missions… yes the emperor was like a "god", but not everybody believes in gods

  4. Yes the TIN CANS DESTROYERS were the first line of defence so they got hit first and more of them got sunk than the rest of ships

  5. My father was in the Canadian Navy during WWII. His ship escorted the convoys from Eastern Canada to northern Russia and back. The heroic action of these men who defended our Liberty should never be forgotten.

  6. It's actually a common misconception that Fuso broke in half from a magazine explosion. Of course the Veterans don't know what exactly all happened in battle, especially a night battle, however Fuso's wreck is almost in one piece after her finding in November of 2017. The bow has almost snapped off as it corkscrewed by the bow and rolled to starboard, the bow hit the soot on the bottom, buried itself and tore off as the hull sank. The great fire seen by many of Fuso is in fact the highly combustible fuel oil that spread around the stern still sticking out of the water and ignited, killing most of the survivors; this being why there are only 10 out of over 1,600.

  7. I'm 34 and it gives me chills to hear these heroes tell what happened. It makes me so proud to know people like this came before me. Thank you will never be enough and I can say for certain that I'll never forget.

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