The Battle Of Samar And The Sacrifice Of "Taffy 3"

By Ethan Cole on
 December 13, 2021

During World War II, Rear Admiral Clifton A. F. Sprague of the TG 77.4.3 went head to head with the Japanese Imperial Navy's Mobile Fleet in the Battle of Samar. On October 15, 1944, the Japanese began Operation Sho to attack the Allied naval forces in the Phillippines.

Japanese Attack

Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita charged his ships with pursuing the U.S. ships, but they were still changing their formation from night to day, so there was a little confusion on the part of the Japanese ships, which reduced their overall impact on the battle.

Sprague and Taffy 3 saw the antiaircraft fire, then saw the ships on the radar, but Kurita had his forces firing up Taffy 3, which was made up of six escort carriers, three destroyers, and four destroyer escorts. Sprague had a few of his carriers change direction and fire upon the Japanese ships. Taffy 1 and Taffy 2 were about 25 miles southeast of the Taffy 3's position, but both assisted with air support.

Sprague ordered torpedo attacks at 7:16 and 7:50 from destroyers Johnston, Heerman, and Hoel. Johnston hit Kumano with a torpedo but was hit by return fire. Hoel missed the Kongo and was hit with return fire. Heerman went after the Haguru but missed.

The Heerman then fired torpedos and 5-inch guns at the Kongo, Yamato, and Nagato. The destroyers fierce defense made Kurita believe he was fighting stronger carriers and Sprague's second torpedo attack reinforced the belief.

Heading Southwest

The Samuel B. Roberts, Heerman, Hoel, Dennis, John C. Butler, Raymond, and Johnston attacked the Japanese cruisers and destroyers. The ships laid smoke and proceeded southwest, but the Hoel was dead in the water by 8:30.

Even though the other ships were going southwest, the Japanese continued to attack. Samuel B, Roberts, Heerman, and Johnston continued to fight with the John C. Butler, Dennis, and Raymond sliding in front of the carriers.

Eventually, the Samuel B. Roberts and the Johnston sank. The Japanese were bombarded with aircraft torpedos and bombs from the Taffy 2. Three Japanese ships sunk, and others were heavily damaged.

When Kurita's final scout was shot down, he decided to stop his pursuit. The Taffy 3 plus the U.S. navy air attacks in the Battle of Sumar were so fierce they stopped Kurita from demolishing the U.S. forces in Leyte Gulf, hindering the Japanese navy overall.

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3 comments on “The Battle Of Samar And The Sacrifice Of "Taffy 3"”

  1. My dad was in the navy at that time and place. In the way his life ended it is clear to me that he had a severe case of PTSD. Just a few of the things he saw and did that I have been told about would have done it!
    Just one instance. A young sailor just became a dad. He was so proud and showed the new baby’s picture. The very next day he was killed and Dad pulled his body to a place of safety off the deck.
    War is beyond cruel.

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