Lest We Forget

Merriam-Webster says…

Definition of lest we forget

formal + literary

  1. :  it should not be forgotten <She’s a talented singer and, lest we forget, a fine musician as well.>

I say…

They should not be forgotten…


Robert L. Price MIA



VF-5 USS Saratoga, 15 July, 1942

Collection Richard Emerson Harmer  (courtesy Tom Harmer)


The presence of American carriers nearby firmed up Japanese plans to land troops on Guadalcanal on 24 August, covered by the fleet carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku and the light carrier Ryūjō. A force of Japanese troop transports was detected on the morning of 23 August some 300 nautical miles (560 km; 350 mi) north of Guadalcanal. Fletcher was not originally inclined to attack them until another force of two transports was spotted at Faisi later that morning. He changed his mind and ordered Saratoga to launch her airstrike of 31 Dauntlesses and six Avengers in the early afternoon at very long range. They could not locate the Japanese convoy in poor visibility because it had reversed course shortly after spotting the American reconnaissance aircraft. The aircraft lacked the range to return to their carrier and they were ordered to land at Henderson Field and return the following morning.[71]

The Japanese failed to locate the American carriers during the day and Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo, commander of the First Carrier Division, ordered Ryūjō, escorted by the heavy cruiser Tone and two destroyers, to attack Henderson Field, as per Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto‘s orders. American aircraft located the Ryūjō task force the following morning as it approached within aircraft range of Guadalcanal, as well as other enemy ships, but failed to spot the fleet carriers. Fletcher delayed his attack until further reconnaissance aircraft failed to find the other Japanese carriers and his own aircraft returned from Henderson Field. In the meantime, Ryūjō had launched her own airstrike against Henderson Field, although they inflicted little damage while losing seven out of 21 aircraft during the attack.[72]

Saratoga launched an airstrike against Ryūjōs task force in the early afternoon that consisted of 31 Dauntlesses and eight Avengers; the long range precluded fighter escort. While those aircraft were en route, a number of reconnaissance aircraft from Enterprise spotted and attacked the Japanese formation. They inflicted no damage and the Japanese CAP shot down one Avenger.Saratogas aircraft sighted the carrier shortly afterward and attacked. They hit Ryūjō three times with 1,000-pound (450 kg) bombs and one torpedo; the torpedo hit flooded the starboard engine and boiler rooms. No aircraft from either Ryūjō or Saratoga were shot down in the attack.[73] The carrier capsized about four hours later with the loss of 120 crewmen.[74]

About an hour after Saratoga launched her airstrike, the Japanese launched theirs once they located the American carriers. Shōkaku contributed 18 D3As and nine Zeros while Zuikaku launched nine D3As and six Zeros. Reconnaissance SBDs from Enterprise spotted the 1st Carrier Division shortly after the Japanese airstrike had taken off and five of Shōkakus Zeros stayed behind to deal with the Dauntlesses as they attacked Shōkaku. The Dauntlesses survived the attack by the Zeros, but their spot report was garbled and the enemy’s location could not be understood. This incident prompted Nagumo to launch a follow-on airstrike with 27 D3As and nine Zeros.[75]

The first airstrike attacked the ships of TF 16 which was initially defended by fighters from VF-6. Once radar spotted the incoming Japanese aircraft, both carriers launched all available fighters. Enterprise was badly damaged by three bomb hits, but the Japanese lost 19 dive bombers and four Zeros to the defending fighters and anti-aircraft fire. They claimed to have shot down a dozen Wildcats although the Americans lost only five, of which two belonged to VF-5; some of the American losses were reportedly due to friendly anti-aircraft fire. In turn, the American fighters claimed to have shot down 52 Japanese aircraft, 15 more than the Japanese committed to the attack. The second Japanese airstrike failed to locate the American carriers.[76]


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