Friendly Fire Hit, April 6, 1945

The Battleship along with three large aircraft carriers, two light carriers, three battleships, four light cruisers and 12 destroyers were fighting off the coast of Okinawa. During the day an estimated 182 Japanese kamikazes in 22 groups attacked the allied ships.

Just after 1 o’clock in the afternoon an allied ship fired at a low flying kamikaze and struck the BB55 by accident. A 5-inch/38 caliber projectile hit the base of the port side 5-inch battery director (Sky II), located just above the signal bridge.44 men were wounded and three were killed:

Edward Emil Brenn, Chief Fire Controlman
Carl Elmer Karam Jr., Seaman 1/c
John Malcolm Watson, Fire Controlman 1/c

 

John Watson and Edward Brenn

“Three men in my division got killed today and I knew them all well. It kind of gives you a funny feeling. It seems as if tomorrow I will wake up and find it all a dream. I was on the Signal Bridge when it all happened. A five-inch shell hit Sky II by the base. It was fired by one of our destroyers. I could hear the shrapnel hit against the steel on the side of me. I hope I never see a day like today again.”

-Jerry Kass, Fire Controlman 3/c
as noted in his diary

“We had 40mm open directors installed below Sky 2 and Sky 3. The purpose was to put one 5-inch mount with each director to speed up the change of direction needed to combat the kamikaze planes. Brenn and Watson manned the director by Sky 2. My battle station was the other director by Sky 3. On April 6th we had another one of those days…kamikazes all over the place. Three dead from F Division and nearly 50 wounded. The next day between air defense we buried our dead. The only time we had any rest from air attacks night and day in this 46 day operation was when we met up with tankers to refuel.”

-Harold Smith, Fire Controlman 1/c

“I had just started at the CIC [Combat Information Center] and gone out on the Signal Bridge. Lieutenant Commander Kurin, the division officer, asked me to stay. I was a surface plotter and I stayed because he ordered me to. We had many casualties that morning. Most everybody on the Signal Bridge got hit. My buddy walked out right in front of me and I was a step behind him. He got out before he was pulled back. He was seriously wounded. You often wonder but never mention what would have happened otherwise.”

-Everett Beaver, Radarman 2/c

Pharmacist Mate 3/c Bill Davis describes the day’s event on the signal bridge.