Task Force 44

Task Force 44 was an Allied naval task force during the Pacific Campaign of World War II. The task force consisted of warships from, mostly, the United States Navy and a few from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). It was generally assigned as a striking force to defend northeast Australia and the surrounding area from any attacks by Axis forces, particularly from the Empire of Japan.

Task Force 44
TG17.3 and HMAS Australia under attack May 7 1942
Task Force 44 (temporarily redesignated as Task Group 17.3) under Japanese air attack on May 7, 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea
ActiveApril 22, 1942 – March 15, 1943
Country United States
 Australia
Branch United States Navy
Royal Australian Navy
RoleNaval warship support
EngagementsWorld War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
John Gregory Crace
Victor Crutchley
John Augustine Collins

History

1942

The task force was created on 22 April 1942 from the ANZAC Squadron as part of United States Army General Douglas MacArthur's South West Pacific Area (command). The unit's first commander was Royal Australian Navy Rear Admiral John Gregory Crace. From 13 June 1942 the task force was commanded by Rear Admiral Victor A.C. Crutchley of the Royal Navy.

The unit saw action during the Battle of the Coral Sea, in which it helped turn back a Japanese attempt to invade Port Moresby, New Guinea. The Force was temporarily redesignated Task Group 17.3 during the battle. The task force later, under Crutchley, assisted with the initial stages of the Guadalcanal Campaign along with escorting Allied convoys around the northeast Australia, New Guinea, and Coral Sea areas. In August 1942, the force participated in the Battle of Savo Island. The next month, the unit served with the U.S. Navy's Task Force 18, centered on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp.

1943

When the Operation Pamphlet convoy sailed from Fremantle on 20 February 1943 it was escorted by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Adelaide, as well as the Dutch cruiser Jacob van Heemskerck and destroyer Tjerk Hiddes. It met the ships of Task Group 44.3, a component of Task Force 44, on 24 February in the Great Australian Bight. This force comprised the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia and American destroyers USS Bagley, Helm and Henley, and had been dispatched from Sydney on 17 February to escort the troopships.[1] Adelaide and the Dutch warships left the convoy shortly afterwards to escort Nieuw Amsterdam into Melbourne; the liner docked there on the afternoon of 25 February.[1][2] Task Group 44.3 escorted the remaining ships to Sydney, passing south of Tasmania. The escort was strengthened by Jacob van Heemskerck and the French destroyer Le Triomphant en route.[2] The three liners arrived at Sydney on 27 February 1943, completing Operation Pamphlet without loss.[2][3] Despite the official secrecy concerning the convoy, large crowds assembled on vantage points around Sydney Harbour to watch the ships arrive. Queen Mary anchored off Bradleys Head and the other two liners berthed at Woolloomooloo.[4] Curtin officially announced that the 9th Division had returned to Australia in a speech to the House of Representatives on 23 March.[5]

On 15 March 1943 the organization was redesignated as Task Force 74 under the United States Seventh Fleet.

1944

In mid-1944, Commodore John Augustine Collins was made commander of the Australian-U.S. Navy Task Force 74, and commander of the Australian Naval Squadron, with the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia as his flagship. He became the first graduate of the RAN College to command a naval squadron in action, during the bombardment of Noemfoor, on 2 July 1944.

Commodore Collins was badly wounded in an attack which may have been the first kamikaze strike, which hit Australia on 21 October 1944, in the lead up to the Battle of Leyte Gulf. He did not resume his command until July 1945. When the war ended Collins was the RAN's representative at the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay.

Ships of the task force

References

  1. ^ a b Plowman (2003), p. 381
  2. ^ a b c Gill (1968), p. 287
  3. ^ Roskill (1956), p. 433
  4. ^ Plowman (2003), p. 382
  5. ^ "Return of 9th Division to Australian Announced". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 24 March 1943. p. 2. Retrieved 29 March 2015.

Bibliography

ANZAC Squadron

The ANZAC Squadron, also called the Allied Naval Squadron, was an Allied naval warship task force which was tasked with defending northeast Australia and surrounding area in early 1942 during the Pacific Campaign of World War II. The squadron, consisting of cruisers and destroyers from the navies of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States was formed on February 12, 1942, under the command of Royal Navy Rear Admiral John Gregory Crace. The squadron was the primary fleet element operating in the ANZAC Area under the overall command of United States Navy Vice Admiral Herbert Fairfax Leary.

On 9 March, the squadron, as part of Task Force 11 known as Task Group 11.7, covered the Louisiade Archipelago, securing the right hand flank of Task Force 11 and Task Force 17 for the attack on Lae and Salamaua due to the Imperial Japanese invasion of Lae-Salamaua, New Guinea and also covering a Port Moresby reinforcement convoy. On April 22, 1942, the ANZAC Force was absorbed by the South West Pacific Area (command) under United States Army General Douglas MacArthur and the ANZAC Squadron was redesignated as Task Force 44. The New Zealand cruisers passed to the control of the South Pacific Area.

Battle of Goodenough Island

The Battle of Goodenough Island (22–27 October 1942), also known as Operation Drake, was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II. The Allies attacked the Kaigun Rikusentai (Special Naval Landing Force) to deny the Japanese the ability to use the island prior to the Buna campaign. The Japanese troops had been stranded on Goodenough Island, Papua, during the Battle of Milne Bay. "Drake Force", consisting of the Australian 2/12th Battalion and attachments, landed on the southern tip of Goodenough Island at Mud Bay and Taleba Bay on 22 October and, following a short but heavy fight, the Japanese forces withdrew to Fergusson Island on 27 October. After the battle, Goodenough Island was developed by the Allies and became a major base for operations later in the war.

Battle of Goodenough Island order of battle

The Battle of Goodenough Island (24 – 27 October 1942) took place in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) during World War II.

HMAS Australia (D84)

HMAS Australia (I84/D84/C01) was a County-class heavy cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). One of two Kent-subclass ships ordered for the RAN in 1924, Australia was laid down in Scotland in 1925, and entered service in 1928. Apart from an exchange deployment to the Mediterranean from 1934 to 1936, during which she became involved in the planned British response to the Abyssinia Crisis, Australia operated in local and South-West Pacific waters until World War II began.

The cruiser remained near Australia until mid-1940, when she was deployed for duties in the eastern Atlantic, including hunts for German ships and participation in Operation Menace. During 1941, Australia operated in home and Indian Ocean waters, but was reassigned as flagship of the ANZAC Squadron in early 1942. As part of this force (which was later redesignated Task Force 44, then Task Force 74), Australia operated in support of United States naval and amphibious operations throughout South-East Asia until the start of 1945, including involvement in the battles at the Coral Sea and Savo Island, the amphibious landings at Guadalcanal and Leyte Gulf, and numerous actions during the New Guinea campaign. She was forced to withdraw following a series of kamikaze attacks during the invasion of Lingayen Gulf. The prioritisation of shipyard work in Australia for British Pacific Fleet vessels saw the Australian cruiser sail to England for repairs, where she was at the end of the war.

During the late 1940s, Australia served with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, and participated in several port visits to other nations, before being retasked as a training ship in 1950. The cruiser was decommissioned in 1954, and sold for scrapping in 1955.

HMAS Canberra (D33)

HMAS Canberra (I33/D33), named after the Australian capital city of Canberra, was a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) heavy cruiser of the Kent sub-class of County-class cruisers. Constructed in Scotland during the mid-1920s, the ship was commissioned in 1928, and spent the first part of her career primarily operating in Australian waters, with some deployments to the China Station.

At the start of World War II, Canberra was initially used for patrols and convoy escort around Australia. In July 1940, she was reassigned as a convoy escort between Western Australia, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. During this deployment, which ended in mid-1941, Canberra was involved in the hunt for several German auxiliary cruisers. The cruiser resumed operations in Australian waters, but when Japan entered the war, she was quickly reassigned to convoy duties around New Guinea, interspersed with operations in Malaysian and Javanese waters. Canberra later joined Task Force 44, and was involved in the Guadalcanal Campaign and the Tulagi landings.

On 9 August 1942, Canberra was struck by the opening Japanese shots of the Battle of Savo Island, and was quickly damaged. Unable to propel herself, the cruiser was evacuated and sunk in Ironbottom Sound by two American destroyers. The United States Navy Baltimore-class cruiser USS Canberra was named in honour of the Australian ship, and is the only American warship named for either a foreign warship or a foreign capital city.

HMAS Hobart (D63)

HMAS Hobart was a modified Leander-class light cruiser which served in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during World War II. Originally constructed for the Royal Navy as HMS Apollo, the ship entered service in 1936, and was sold to Australia two years later. During the war, Hobart was involved in the evacuation of British Somaliland in 1940, fought at the Battle of the Coral Sea and supported the amphibious landings at Guadalcanal and Tulagi in 1942. She was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1943, then returned to service in 1945 and supported the landings at Tarakan, Wewak, Brunei, and Balikpapan. Hobart was placed in reserve in 1947, but plans to modernise her and return her to service as an aircraft carrier escort, training ship, or guided missile ship were not followed through. The cruiser was sold for scrapping in 1962.

John Gregory Crace

Vice Admiral Sir John Gregory Crace (6 February 1887 – 11 May 1968), also known as Jack Crace, was an Australian who came to prominence as an officer of the Royal Navy (RN). He commanded the Australian-United States Support Force, Task Force 44, at the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.

South West Pacific Area (command)

South West Pacific Area (SWPA) was the name given to the Allied supreme military command in the South West Pacific Theatre of World War II. It was one of four major Allied commands in the Pacific War. SWPA included the Philippines, Borneo, the Dutch East Indies (excluding Sumatra), East Timor, Australia, the Territories of Papua and New Guinea, and the western part of the Solomon Islands. It primarily consisted of United States and Australian forces, although Dutch, Filipino, British and other Allied forces also served in the SWPA.

General Douglas MacArthur was appointed as the Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area, on its creation on 18 April 1942. He created five subordinate commands: Allied Land Forces, Allied Air Forces, Allied Naval Forces, United States Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA), and the United States Army Forces in the Philippines. The last command disappeared when Corregidor surrendered on 6 May 1942, while USAFIA became the United States Army Services of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area (USASOS SWPA). In 1943 United States Army Forces in the Far East was reformed and assumed responsibility for administration, leaving USASOS as a purely logistical agency. Both were swept away in a reorganisation in 1945. The other three commands, Allied Land Forces, Allied Air Forces and Allied Naval Forces, remained until SWPA was abolished on 2 September 1945.

Structure of the United States Armed Forces

The chain of command leads from the President (as commander-in-chief) through the Secretary of Defense down to the newest recruits. The United States armed forces are organized through the United States Department of Defense, which oversees a complex structure of joint command and control functions with many units reporting to various commanding officers. The following is an incomplete list of the various major military units, commands, and DOD offices and agencies, including civilian and military chains of command.

Task force

A task force (TF) is a unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy, the term has now caught on for general usage and is a standard part of NATO terminology. Many non-military organizations now create "task forces" or task groups for temporary activities that might have once been performed by ad hoc (designated purpose) committees.

USS Chicago (CA-29)

USS Chicago (CA-29) was a Northampton-class cruiser of the United States Navy that served in the Pacific Theater in the early years of World War II. She was the second US Navy ship to be named after the city of Chicago. After surviving a midget submarine attack at Sydney Harbour and serving in battle at the Coral Sea and Savo Island in 1942, she was sunk by Japanese aerial torpedoes in the Battle of Rennell Island, in the Solomon Islands, on 30 January 1943.

USS Helm (DD-388)

USS Helm (DD-388) was a Bagley-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named for Rear Admiral James Meredith Helm. Helm received 11 battle stars for her World War II service in the Pacific.

USS Kitkun Bay

USS Kitkun Bay (CVE-71) was a US Navy Casablanca class escort carrier launched on 8 November 1943.

USS Lexington (CV-2)

USS Lexington (CV-2), nicknamed "Lady Lex", was an early aircraft carrier built for the United States Navy. She was the lead ship of the Lexington class; her only sister ship, Saratoga, was commissioned a month earlier. Originally designed as a battlecruiser, she was converted into one of the Navy's first aircraft carriers during construction to comply with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which essentially terminated all new battleship and battlecruiser construction. The ship entered service in 1928 and was assigned to the Pacific Fleet for her entire career. Lexington and Saratoga were used to develop and refine carrier tactics in a series of annual exercises before World War II. On more than one occasion these included successfully staged surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The ship's turbo-electric propulsion system allowed her to supplement the electrical supply of Tacoma, Washington, during a drought in late 1929 to early 1930. She also delivered medical personnel and relief supplies to Managua, Nicaragua, after an earthquake in 1931.

Lexington was at sea when the Pacific War began on 7 December 1941, ferrying fighter aircraft to Midway Island. Her mission was cancelled and she returned to Pearl Harbor a week later. After a few days, she was sent to create a diversion from the force en route to relieve the besieged Wake Island garrison by attacking Japanese installations in the Marshall Islands. The island surrendered before the relief force got close enough, and the mission was cancelled. A planned attack on Wake Island in January 1942 had to be cancelled when a submarine sank the oiler required to supply the fuel for the return trip. Lexington was sent to the Coral Sea the following month to block any Japanese advances into the area. The ship was spotted by Japanese search aircraft while approaching Rabaul, New Britain, but her aircraft shot down most of the Japanese bombers that attacked her. Together with the carrier Yorktown, she successfully attacked Japanese shipping off the east coast of New Guinea in early March.

Lexington was quickly refitted in Pearl Harbor at the end of the month and rendezvoused with Yorktown in the Coral Sea in early May. A few days later the Japanese began Operation Mo, the invasion of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and the two American carriers attempted to stop the invasion forces. They sank the light aircraft carrier Shōhō on 7 May during the Battle of the Coral Sea, but did not encounter the main Japanese force of the carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku until the next day. Aircraft from Lexington and Yorktown badly damaged Shōkaku, but the Japanese aircraft crippled Lexington. A mixture of air and aviation gasoline in her improperly drained aircraft fueling trunk lines (which ran from the keel tanks to her hangar deck) ignited, causing a series of explosions and fires that could not be controlled. Lexington was scuttled by an American destroyer during the evening of 8 May to prevent her capture. The wreck of Lexington was located in March 2018 by an expedition led by Paul Allen, who discovered the ship about 430 nautical miles (800 km) off the northeastern coast of Australia in the Coral Sea.

USS Phoenix (CL-46)

USS Phoenix (CL-46), was a light cruiser of the Brooklyn-class cruiser family. She was the third Phoenix of the United States Navy. After World War II the ship was transferred to Argentina in 1951 and was ultimately renamed General Belgrano in 1956. General Belgrano was sunk during the Falklands War in 1982 by the British nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror, the only ship to have been sunk in combat by a nuclear-powered submarine during wartime.

She was laid down on 15 April 1935 by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey; launched on 13 March 1938; sponsored by Mrs. Dorothea Kays Moonan; and commissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 3 October 1938, Captain John W. Rankin in command. Her name was in honor of the capital city of the state of Arizona.

USS Teton

USS Teton (AGC-14) was a Mount McKinley-class amphibious force command ship in the United States Navy.

VP-30

Patrol Squadron 30 (VP-30) is an maritime patrol squadron of the United States Navy, established on 30 June 1960. It is based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida United States.

Victor Crutchley

Admiral Sir Victor Alexander Charles Crutchley (2 November 1893 – 24 January 1986) was a senior Royal Navy officer during the Second World War and a First World War recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

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