July 18, 1945 – This Day During World War ll – The attack on Yokosuka

July 18, 1945 – The attack on Yokosuka was an air raid conducted by the United States Navy on 18 July 1945 during the last weeks of the Pacific War. The Japanese battleship Nagato was the raid’s main target, though anti-aircraft positions and other warships at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal were also attacked. Other U.S. Navy and Royal Navy aircraft struck airfields in the Tokyo area.
While Nagato was only lightly damaged, the American aircraft sank a destroyer, a submarine and two escort vessels and damaged five small vessels. The Allied pilots also claimed the destruction of several locomotives and 43 Japanese aircraft as well as damage to another 77 aircraft. Japanese anti-aircraft guns shot down twelve American and two British aircraft.
On 17 July the American and British fleet attempted to strike the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal and other targets in the Tokyo area. While two waves of aircraft were dispatched, the attack was frustrated by heavy cloud over the region and further attacks were canceled. The aircraft which reached the Tokyo area struck airfields north of the city and caused little damage. While the naval base was not attacked, it was overflown by an American fighter and its defenders were readied to respond to attacks. On the night of 17–18 July American and British warships bombarded the city of Hitachi.
The next day, the Allied fleet sailed south looking for weather which was better suited to conducting flight operations. Conditions improved
during the morning, and at 11:30 am the day’s air strikes began to launch. The British aircraft of TF 37 were dispatched against airfields in the Tokyo area. The size of this attack was considerably reduced from what was planned, however, as the fuel system on board HMS Victorious had become contaminated with water and the carrier could only launch six Vought F4U Corsair fighters. TF 38’s main effort was directed against Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, with Nagato being designated the raid’s primary target. A smaller number of American aircraft were also dispatched to raid Japanese air fields.
The attack on Yokosuka began at about 3:30 pm on 18 July. The first wave of American aircraft attacked the anti-aircraft batteries around the naval base, and succeeded in neutralizing them. Following this, the aircraft of VF-88 attacked Nagato with bombs. A 500-pound general-purpose bomb struck the battleship’s bridge, killing her commanding officer, Rear Admiral Otsuka Miki as well as the executive officer and at least nine other men. Another 500 pound bomb later struck Nagato and detonated near her officer’s mess, killing about 22 sailors and knocking out four 25 mm guns. The only other direct hit on the ship was made by a 5-inch (130 mm) shell or rocket which did not explode. In addition, 60 bombs landed in the harbor near Nagato, causing breaches to her double hull which let 2,000 tons of water into the ship. By the time the attack concluded at 4:10 pm, 35 of the battleship’s 967 officers and men had been killed. The overall damage to the ship was later assessed as being light.
American aircraft also attacked several other ships docked at Yokosuka. The unfinished Matsu class destroyer Yaezakura broke in two and sank after being bombed, and the submarine I-372 was destroyed by another bomb; at the time the submarine’s crew was ashore and did not suffer any fatalities. Two escort vessels and a torpedo boat were also sunk. In addition to these losses, five other ships, including the obsolete destroyer Yakaze and training ships Fuji and Kasuga were damaged. Despite their proximity to Nagato, Fukugawa Maru No. 7 and Ushio were not damaged. The British and United States aircraft dispatched against airfields claimed to have destroyed 43 Japanese aircraft and damaged another 77. The pilots of these aircraft also claimed the destruction of several railway locomotives. Allied losses in the attacks made on 18 July were 12 U.S. Navy aircraft, two Royal Navy aircraft and 18 aircrew. The Allied pilots were disappointed they had not sunk Nagato.

A U.S. Navy reconnaissance photograph of Yokosuka Naval Arsenal on 18 July 1945. Nagato is located at the upper left of the photo.

7 thoughts on “July 18, 1945 – This Day During World War ll – The attack on Yokosuka

  1. What happened to the crews of the Allied aircraft that were shot doen on this raid? Did any survive?

    1. At the end of the Post it gives the Aircraft lost and then it is misleading by using the term aircrew instead of air crewmen. “Allied losses in the attacks made on 18 July were 12 U.S. Navy aircraft, two Royal Navy aircraft and 18 aircrew.” I could not find any information at this time about what happened to the men who survived being shot down if any. I will continue to research this.

      1. Thank you for your response. I am interested in learning about the fate of aircrew shot down over Japan in the final months, if not weeks, of the war. This seems to be topic on which little has been published. At least that is my observation. Anything that you can come up with would be most appreciated.

      2. I have found some info relating to the status of aviators shot down during the July 18th attack on Yokosuka.

        I do know that VF-88 Fighter Squadron 88 “Gamecocks” assigned to CVS-10 USS Yorktown flew the strikes that day.
        I found the following in several unit histories where 2 pilots were lost and they had a picture of a pilot rescued with a caption relating to his rescue.

        – ”July 18 strikes saw Yorktown lose two aviators, one of them VF-88’s Lieutenant (junior grade) Theron Gleason, claimed by flak. The “Fighting Lady” retired east with Task Force 38 for four days to refuel, rearm, and replenish—and let aviators rest. “I am mixed up on the dates,” Wood wrote in his diary. “I was so tired I never got to write.”

        – VF-88 pilot Howdy Harrison celebrates his rescue from the Inland Sea. Courtesy of Herb Wood”

        So far I can not find the Action reports for CVS-10 Yorktown in the National Archive but I have found the book where the article I used reference the loses. I have found this book and should receive it within the week. I hope I should get better information from this source. In the meantime I will continue to search in my spare time in the National Archive and the Naval History and Heritage Command

      3. Also it is known that between 25% and 30% if not more of Allied POW’s were murdered (beheaded, burned to death, shot worked to death & etc) by the Japanese.

      4. I have been trying my best to get the information you have requested but getting any quality info out of the National Archive & Dept of Defense is like beating your head against a brick wall. I ran into the same problems back in 2002 when I published a article in the World War ll Magazine about my dad. Most of his records were destroyed in a fire at the St Louis Records Depot with not much backed up in the National Archive & Dept of Defense. Back then I had to get most of my information from prized out of print book’s belonging to Generals who had passed and their widows were selling. The book I found on this bombing raid hod no extra information regarding he fate of the downed aircrews.
        The only way of gathering any information from the National Archive & Dept of Defense is by providing the names of the men lost and even then it will not list cause of death.

        However, the British know how to gather store and grant access to their military history. It took all of 5 minutes to gather the information on the two Corsairs that were lost

        2 Corsairs from HMS Formidable were lost on July 18, 1945 piloted by:

        -STRADWICK, Walter T, Ty/Sub Lieutenant (A), RNVR, killed
        -ASBRIDGE, William B, Ty/Lieutenant, RCNVR, MPK

        I am sorry I could not gather the information you requested however I will post that type of information on my POST’s if available.

        Regards Marty

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