USS Monssen (DD-798) - World War II - Philippines Campaign

Philippines Campaign

In the screen of TG 79.11 (landing craft), Monssen arrived in Leyte Gulf and delivered her charges to the Dulag beaches on the 20th and then proceeded to take up her screening station, with Destroyer Squadron 54 (DesRon 54), across Surigao Strait. Through the 24th, the squadron encountered only sporadic air attacks. In the early morning of the 25th, however, an enemy surface force attempted to force into the Leyte Gulf transportation area through Surigao Strait.

The 7th Fleet was waiting. The night before, Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf had deployed his forces for what was to be the last engagement of a battleline. ComDesRon 54, Capt. Jesse B. Coward, divided his ships into eastern and western attack groups to launch offensive torpedo attacks as the Japanese steamed up the strait. Monssen was assigned to the western group with McDermut (DD-677) and positioned close to the Leyte shore. Soon after midnight the Japanese Southern Force was reported entering the strait. Between 03:00 and 03:01, the eastern group commenced launching torpedoes, firing 27 in less than 2 minutes. At 03:10, McDermut and Monssen under the Command of Cdr. Charles Kniese Bergin, USN launched their attack. At 03:20, explosions flashed, with one of Monssen’s “fish” scoring on the battleship Yamashiro, but not stopping her. After firing their torpedoes, Monssen and McDermut retired north, hugging the coastline of Leyte to avoid fire from the ships of DesRon 24 and DesRon 56 and those of the battleline.

At dawn, Monssen resumed her patrol station and the next day departed for Hollandia, whence she screened reinforcement convoys to Leyte during November. On 9 December, she headed for Bougainville, arriving on the 12th to escort TG 79.1 (transports) to New Guinea for rehearsals of the Luzon invasion. By 21 December, she was at Manus, whence she departed on the 30th to rendezvous with Task Unit 77.9.12 (TU 77.9.12) (landing craft of the reinforcement echelon) and proceeded to the northern Philippines. She arrived in Lingayen Gulf, 11 January 1945, 2 days after the initial assault. On the 12th, she received her first taste of Japanese suicide tactics when three kamikazes closed on her transport area. The destroyer took two under fire and assisted in exploding one 100 feet short of a merchant ship. The second crashed into Belknap (APD-34).

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