The USS Cleveland, CL-55

This article appeared in the Mid-June 1949 issue of Our Navy magazine.

1945

January 3, 1945, with overhaul completed and many new officers and men aboard, the CLEVELAND left the United States for duty with the Seventh Fleet in the Phillipines area.

February 9 the ship anchored at Subic Bay, Luzon. A task goup including the CLEVELAND set out from here February 13 to support the recapture of Corregidor and the landing at Mariveles, Bataan. Cruising through mined waters to within a mile of "The Rock," the CLEVELAND carried out her bombardment, which coordinated with Army Air Force strikes, kept the island fortress smoking throughout February 14, the day of the landing on Mariveles.

February 15 paratroopers jumped to capture the upper terrain of Corregidor shortly before the amphibious troops hit the beach to secure the lower portions. Preliminary neutralization was so effective that only occasional small arms fire opposed these sky and shore landings.

Then followed the support of consolidation operations in the Phillipines. Toward the end of February, the CLEVELAND covered the Army's landing at Puerta Princesa, Palawan Island, and after replenishment, proceeded to the Visayan area where on March 18, support was provided for the invasion of Panay, the first of the Army's landings in the central Phillipines. Throughout this operation, CLEVELAND reconnaissance planes were greeted by Filipinos waving American flags as well as their own. At some points, huge writing on the sandy beaches proclaimed "No Japs Here."

Then, on April 17, the CLEVELAND supported the Army's landings in the Malabang-Parang area of Mindano Island, the last Jap stronghold in the Phillipines.

The next task was to aid in the liberation of Borneo. On June 7 the ship set out from Subic Bay with a force ordered to act as a distance covering group southwest of the Brunei Bay area of British North Borneo where Australian forces landed on June 10. This patrol was designed to preclude interference from enemy cruisers operating near Singapore. June 11, having been released from the covering operations, the CLEVELAND entered Brunei Bay to provide close fire support for ground forces. Shore batteries and Army Black Widows destroyed snoopers that attempted dusk reconnaissance of the operation.

June 15 the CLEVELAND returned to Subic Bay and eventually to Manila where General of the Army Douglas MacArthur and his staff embarked to observe the initial assault on the oil-rich port of Balik-Papen Dutch Borneo.

Three sister cruisers had already wrecked Jap installations and started large oil fires when the CLEVELAND steamed in on the afternoon of June 30 after a speedy twenty-eight knot run from Manila Bay.

Commencing at 0630, the following morning, the ship effected a heavy three-hour pre-landing bombardment of Nip batteries and encampments. During this action enemy anti-aircraft fire severly damaged one CLEVELAND spotting plane which, however, was brought safely back to the ship with personnel uninjured through the skillful piloting of Lieutenant C.J. Stewart, the ship's senior aviator.

Soon after Australian troops landed, General MacArthur and his staff made an inspection tour of the landing area, reembarking after a three-hour tour of the beachhead. The CLEVELAND immediately got under way for Manila at high speed.

As soon as the official party had disembarked at Manila on July 3, the CLEVELAND, now under the command of Captain Charles J. Maguire, set out for Leyte where she and the sister ships of her division joined a new cruiser task force operating directly under the command of the CinC Pacific Fleet.

This force sailed from Leyte to Okinawa and from this latter base initiated a series of anti-shipping sweeps designed to ensure Allied control of the East China Sea. From July 12 to August 7 three series of sweeps were made along the China coast from Foochow to Shanghai; these were the first surface ships of the United Nations to enter these waters since the fateful 7th of December 1941. Although the force operated close to the Yangtze River night after night, no enemy surface opposition was encountered, but enemy snipers as well as many floating mines constantly menaced the formation. Combat air patrol destroyed several Jap aircraft while the guns of the task force destroyed many mines.

August 10, when peace rumors reached Okinawa, flares and tracers shot up from the beaches and small craft in premature celebration of the war's end. But despite surrender negotiations, raids by Nip planes continued to appear. In addition to attacks on shore installations, valuable shipping was damaged in those last minute raids. During the night of August 12, a lone Jap successfully torpedoed the battleship PENNSYLVANIA anchored near the CLEVELAND; and the following night, a transport was suicided by a Kamikaze plane in the Buckner Bay anchorage area.

With the war finally over on September 9, the ship left Okinawa as a part of a covering force of carriers, cruisers, and destroyers detailed to evacuate Allied prisoners of war from Wakayama, Honshu, Japan. Following the evacuation operations, the CLEVELAND served as part of a Naval occupation group until the Sixth US Army made their initial landings on Honshu. At first the Japanese were frightened, but when it became obvious that their propaganda of American savagery was utterly false, they assumed an air of obsequious friendliness.

During this period of operations in mine-infested waters, the principal enemy was the never-ending procession of typhoons which marched over the waters of the Japanese Archipelago. While anchored off Wakayama, the CLEVELAND experienced several of these typhoons. During one of these severe storms, winds reached velocities of ninety knots as amphibious ships, small craft, and sea planes were wrecked on the shore.

After seven weeks of occupation operations in the inland sea of Japan, the CLEVELAND finally joined our other forces in Tokyo Bay for a four-day look at the enemy capital before starting the long homeward journey to join the Atlantic Fleet. ***