Preserving the Past – Collection Richard Harmer

You will find all kind of information on the Internet about World War II. Some are true, some are erroneous, and some are incomplete.

This is the original image that was part of Richard Emerson Harmer’s collection. Click on the image to see how detailed the image was.


I first modified the image to look like this…


Then I had looked at the caption. Somehow there was something very strange. Richard Harmer could not have written it.

original caption.jpg

I am a bit sceptic so I asked his son Tom. Richard “Chick” Harmer had not written it. Tom gave me the go-ahead to rewrite the caption.


36 pilots of VF-5 aboard CV-3, 15 July, 1942

Collection Richard Emerson  Harmer (courtesy Tom Harmer)

One thing still puzzled me.

Half of these men died in the battle…?

That is the information I have to validate for preserving the past.

On another note…

What I am 100% sure though is what happened on 24 August, 1942.

24 August, 1942


Collection Richard Emerson  Harmer (courtesy Tom Harmer)


About what happened on 24 August, 1942, by  William T. Barr.

The source is here:

Battle of the Eastern Solomons
August 24, 1942

Following the US Marine landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi on August 7-8, 1942, and the shattering defeat of U.S. and Australian cruisers off Savo Island August 9, an uneasy parity existed in the eastern Solomons. Early each afternoon – “Tojo Time” the Marines called it – Japanese bombers from Rabaul raided the Marines’ beachhead, and pounded the fledgling airstrip the Marines were struggling to clear on Guadalcanal. At night, enemy cruisers and destroyers regularly raced down “The Slot” – the narrow course from Rabaul southeast through the islands – to hammer away at the Marine positions, withdrawing before daybreak. Less frequently, Allied destroyer-transports would dash into Ironbottom Sound, delivering badly needed supplies and fuel to the 16,000 increasingly beleaguered Marines.

The ships of the “Tokyo Express” as Japan’s raiders were called, enjoyed control of the waters north of Guadalcanal, but Enterprise, Saratoga and Wasp lurked to the southeast, waiting and watching for the inevitable Japanese drive to recover the two islands.

The Marine’s toehold on Guadalcanal was intolerable for the Japanese. If the Allies were allowed to establish air bases in the eastern Solomons, the Japanese position at Rabaul would be directly threatened. And without control of the entire island chain, the Japanese were powerless to break the Allied supply line, stretching from Hawaii in the east, south through Samoa and the Fiji Islands, and westward to Brisbane, Australia.


US carriers from three different classes – Wasp CV-7 (foreground), Saratoga CV-3 and Enterprise CV-6 (background) – operate in the South Pacific following the Guadalcanal landings, 12 August 1942.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, Prime Minister Tojo and Admiral Yamamoto issued orders aimed at wresting control of the Solomons away from the Allies for good. In Rabaul, it was decided to collect the 2500 man force then stationed at Guam, 3500 soldiers deployed at Palau and a 1000 Imperial Marines, and set them against Guadalcanal’s defenders. (This speaks volumes about Japanese estimates of the Allied resolve to defend Guadalcanal: the defenders outnumbered attackers 5 to 4, a ratio which normally would practically guarantee the attack’s failure.)

The first assault began the night of the 14th, as 500 men of the Special Naval Landing Force came ashore to the east of the Marines’ nearly complete airfield. The next night, a 1000 more men landed west of the Marines’ position. Their commanding officer, Colonel Kiyano Ichiki, wasted no time declaring the “invasion” a success, and immediately set about executing a pincer movement to grab the airstrip.

Success was short-lived, however. Patrols detected the Japanese approaching through the jungles, and on the 19th and 20th the Marines mauled the outnumbered and outgunned invaders, suffering relatively few casualties – 35 Marines killed – in return. This Battle of Tenura River stunned the Japanese high command, still convinced of its own invincibility. Clearly a more concerted effort was required to dislodge the Marines. But with the completion of the Henderson Field (named after Major Lofton Henderson, a Marine pilot killed at Midway), the U.S. now challenged Japan’s operational control of the air over the Solomons.

At Rabaul, more soldiers embarked on transports, casting off on the 20th for Guadalcanal. From the Truk anchorage to the north, Shokaku and Zuikaku – fleet carriers, veterans of Pearl Harbor – sortied southwards. A hundred miles ahead sailed Ryujo, a light carrier, tasked with covering the Japanese transports’ approach and softening US positions on Guadalcanal and Tulagi.

Yamamoto’s Operation KA – the plan which precipitated the Eastern Solomons battle – had two objectives: to achieve the crushing victory over the American carriers which had escaped him at Midway, and to support the landing of the 3000 men being transported from Rabaul to Guadalcanal. Like the Midway strategy, KA was compromised by being saddled with too many objectives, to be carried out by forces spread across too wide an area.

American intelligence, although struggling with a ten-day backlog of Japanese naval messages, issued an Intelligence Summary on August 21, predicting that a large Japanese force “although still apparently in Empire waters will definitely go south, if not already under way in that direction”. Despite the troublesome delays in decrypting Japan’s message traffic, the summary was dead on: the Combined Fleet had sortied from Truk on the 21st, the same day the transports and their escorts departed Rabaul.

Nimitz wasted no time acting on this information, ordering Ghormley that same day to concentrate his forces off the Solomon Islands. The following day, Ghormley ordered Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher to send his three task forces north to meet the expected Japanese challenge. Along with the Wasp and Saratoga task forces, Enterprise and her escorts steamed north, watchfully awaiting signs of the enemy’s approach.


Shortly before 1100 on the 22 August, an unidentified aircraft appeared on Enterprise’s radar, 55 miles southwest of the ship. Although static and communications problems delayed the response, eventually a division of four Wildcats was directed towards the intruder. They encountered a Kawanishi flying boat, a lumbering, four-engine scouting plane: in short order it was driven into the sea in flames.

Early the next morning, as both ships and planes patrolled hostile waters north of the Solomons chain, Enterprise scouts sighted two Japanese subs hurrying south, presaging the approach of powerful enemy surface forces. A few hours later, Navy PBY Catalinas found the Japanese transport convoy east of Bougainville Island (about halfway between Rabaul and Guadalcanal). A strike launched by Saratoga that afternoon failed to find the convoy, which had turned north after being sighted. Forty five minutes later, another Enterprise patrol spotted another Japanese sub on the surface, proceeding south at high speed. The sub was attacked and likely destroyed.

The afternoon of 23 August, CINCPAC intelligence seemed to reverse its earlier assessment, advising that the main Japanese force was still at Truk. Admiral Fletcher, concerned by his ships’ fuel situation as action with the enemy neared, decided to take advantage of the “delay”, and ordered Wasp and her Task Force 18 south for the oilers. It was a decision he’d soon regret.


Enterprise heels over hard as flames and smoke pour from her aft starboard 5″ gun gallery, 24 August 1942.

The next morning, August 24, a Monday, twenty three Enterprise SBDs fanned out on 200 mile search legs, across a wide arc of ocean north of the Big E’s Task Force 16. Hours of tedious searching uncovered no enemy force. Other reconnaissance flights, however, had more success. Around 1000, PBYs reported a carrier, a cruiser and destroyer escort some 200 miles northwest of the American force. The carrier was the light carrier Ryujo, escorted by the cruiser Tone, sent in advance of the main Japanese strike force to cover the transports approaching from Rabaul. Then, fighters from Saratoga intercepted and downed another enemy flying boat, this one only twenty miles from the task force. Early in the afternoon, another Saratoga airman brought down still another enemy scout, this one within visible range of the American ships.

There was no question now that the Japanese knew the location of the American carriers, but with the exception of Ryujo, the Americans could only guess the position of the Japanese. Shortly after 1300, twenty three fighters and dive bombers rumbled down Enterprise’s flight deck, launched on 250 mile search legs north and west of the task force.

Another half hour passed with no contacts, other than the PBYs still shadowing Ryujo. Fletcher, after struggling to close the distance between Ryujo and his task forces, grudgingly ordered Saratoga to launch her strike. Just minutes after Saratoga’s thirty dive bombers and seven torpedo planes had formed up and struck out towards Ryujo, Navy PBYs and Enterprise scouts unmasked the real threat. Some 200 miles north of Enterprise and Saratoga, Shokaku and Zuikaku were surging southward at 30 knots, preparing to strike a blow against the American carriers. With heavy static disrupting communications on both sides, and inexperienced American pilots cluttering the airwaves with chatter, the reports didn’t immediately reach Fletcher.

When they did, he immediately attempted to redirect Saratoga’s strike, even as they were lining up the attack which would put Ryujo under the waves by that evening. Every available fighter on both Saratoga and the Big E was gassed, armed and spotted, ready to take off at the first sign of an attack.

The sign came at 1632: on radar, many bogies, range 88 miles, bearing 320 degrees. Saratoga and Enterprise, sailing ten miles apart, turned southeast into the wind and launched their remaining fighters. Aft of Enterprise, matching her 27 knots, steamed the new 35,000 ton battleship North Carolina BB-55; at their flanks the cruisers Portland and Atlanta, with six destroyers in the screen. On all ships, guns were trained skyward, and eyes strained towards the northwest, where – still over the horizon – the enemy was approaching. Overhead circled four-plane fighter sections, fifty-four planes in all.

The first contact with the incoming enemy strike was made at 1655. At 18,000 feet, two miles above the Wildcats scrambling to intercept, were two formations of Japanese Val dive bombers. For almost twenty minutes, Wildcats, Zeros and Vals tangled high over the sea. Afterwards, Enterprise pilots could claim having downed 29 planes: a figure more remarkable because of the inexperience and lack of discipline of the American pilots at that time.

As the aerial battle raged, drifting steadily closer to Enterprise’s task force, Enterprise launched her remaining eleven Dauntlesses and six TBFs, on an ultimately fruitless raid against the main Japanese force. The decision to launch the strike, however, suggested by air officer John Crommelin, probably saved Enterprise from a fate like that suffered by the Japanese carriers at Midway. The planes, fully fueled and armed, had been spotted in the same area where, in minutes, three bombs would tear through the Douglas fir planking of Enterprise’s flight deck. Had the planes been parked there when the bombs hit, Enterprise likely would not have survived the day.

The last plane lifted off Enterprise’s deck at 1708. Her gunners now stood ready to defend the ship. Yet even as Radar Plot reported “The enemy planes are now directly overhead!”, task force lookouts could not spot the enemy planes. Worse, the ship’s fire control directors failed to pick up the target, depriving the 5″ guns the opportunity to fire on the enemy strike group before it could begin its attack. At 1712, as the first of the surviving 30 Val dive bombers nosed over at 20,000 feet, a puff of smoke attracted the attention of 1st Sergeant Joseph R. Schinka (USMC). Commanding the Big E’s #4 20mm anti-aircraft battery, Schinka opened fire. Though the enemy planes were still beyond the reach of the 20mm batteries, the gun’s tracers guided the fire of other guns. In moments, a thundering barrage of 20mm, 1.1″ and 5″ fire filled the sky over Enterprise’s flight deck, as North Carolina, Portland, Atlanta and the destroyers all came to her defense.

In the clear blue, late afternoon sky, the bombers pitched into their dives, one every seven seconds: five, maybe six planes pressing their attack simultaneously, while others formed up behind them, or sped away low over the waves after releasing their bombs. For nearly two minutes, as Enterprise weaved and bobbed with surprising agility, the heavy anti-aircraft fire took its toll on the attacking planes, Enterprise’s guns alone knocking down 15. High overhead, fighters from Saratoga and the Big E made passes at the planes as they prepared for their dives, sometimes even following the Vals during their descent. It wasn’t enough. The first bomb to strike Enterprise pierced her flight deck just forward of the aft elevator, plunged through five decks and detonated.

The time was 1714. An elevator pump room team, ammunition handlers, and a damage control team stationed in the chief petty officers’ quarters were wiped out by the blast. Thirty five men died instantly. As the explosion spread, it ripped six foot holes in the hull at the waterline: the ship quickly acquired a list to starboard as seawater poured in. The blast tore sixteen foot holes through the steel decks overhead, bulging the hangar deck upwards a full two feet, and rendering the aft elevator useless. The concussion whipped the warship – 800 feet and millions of pounds of wood and steel – stem to stern, first upwards, then side-to-side, hurling men off their feet, out of their chairs, across the gun tubs.


Trailing flames and smoke, a Japanese bomber screams
over Enterprise’s bridge during the Eastern Solomons battle.

Ship and crew had just thirty seconds to recover before the second bomb struck. Detonating on impact, just fifteen feet from where the first bomb had punched through the deck, it obliterated the aft starboard 5″ gun gallery and its crew, the violence of the explosion amplified by the ignition of powder bags in the gun tub. Thirty eight men, ten of whom were never positively identified, died that moment. The guns of the aft starboard quarter fell silent, their crews dead or wounded; heavy black smoke poured from newly ignited fires.

Trailing smoke, taking on water, Enterprise drove forward at 27 knots. Below decks and across the flight deck, damage control teams scrambled to bring the fires and flooding under control, to pull survivors from the slippery and torn decks and compartments, to restore power and flush holds of explosive vapors. As the ship twisted away from under the continuing assault, her remaining guns resumed fire, rejoining the barrage thrown up by North Carolina and the other ships in the task force. For almost ninety long seconds the task force fought back against the aerial assault, protecting the precious flat deck at its center. Just two minutes after the first hit, a third bomb slammed into Enterprise’s flight deck, just forward of the number 2 elevator. A smaller, 500 lb., bomb, this one was defective: still, it punched a ten foot hole through the flight deck, disabling the No. 2 elevator, killing and wounding more men.


Damage control teams battle fires and repair flight deck damage.

As the assault tailed off, Enterprise – on fire, listing, spilling black smoke over the water – kept her place in the task force. Within an hour, the damage control parties had brought the fires under control, patched over the hole blown in the flight deck by the third bomb, counterflooded to correct the ship’s starboard list, and improvised plugs for the waterline holes with lumber and mattresses. While the Wildcats overhead harassed the departing Japanese bombers, Enterprise’s returning scouts circled, waiting anxiously for an opportunity to land, some breaking off to lend the CAP a hand. Enterprise signaled the task force that she could continue unassisted, and as evening came on began recovering her planes, still making 24 knots despite her extensive injuries.

An hour before the Vals had begun their attack, the Japanese commander Chuichi Nagumo, assuming the sacrifice of Ryujo had drawn off the American planes, had launched a second strike. These planes now probed the Pacific, seeking the American ships. They were just appearing on task force radar when Enterprise lost steering control.

Below decks, the steering room had been effectively sealed off immediately after the first bomb hit, to prevent the small compartment and its crew of seven from being overwhelmed by thick smoke. Between the fires encircling the compartment, and the heat generated by the powerful electric steering motors inside, the temperature inside the compartment rose steadily, from 120 degrees to 150, and then to 170. Both men and machinery failed. Enterprise’s rudder swung right, swung left, swung right again and 1850, jammed hard over.

While radar now showed the incoming strike at fifty miles, Enterprise narrowly missed slicing the destroyer Balch in two. Her four great bronze screws were thrown in reverse, pulling her speed down to ten knots, as a breakdown flag was run up her truck. The rudder was jammed so far over that not even going forward on the starboard screws and reversing the port could straighten her course. She circled helplessly, an easy target for bombers and submarines alike.

An anxious thirty-eight minutes passed while damage control teams and engineers fought their way into the steering compartment, first pulling to safety the men collapsed inside, and then starting the second of the two steering motors. On radar, the Japanese squadrons passed fifty miles south of the task force, reversed course to the northwest, and missed the ships entirely. With night coming on, Enterprise had survived to fight another day.


Bomb damage to the Big E’s thin hull.
Note wire mesh and bedding using to patch large hole,
and wooden plugs in the smaller holes.

The Consequences

Despite the severe damage Enterprise received, the Eastern Solomons were an American victory, tactically and strategically. Yamamoto’s Operation KA had cost the Japanese the light carrier Ryujo. Worse, 71 planes and their aircrews from Shokaku and Zuikaku had been lost – over a hundred experienced airmen that the Japanese would never be able to replace. In comparison, fewer than 20 planes were lost between Enterprise and Saratoga. The human cost on Enterprise, however, was grim. For 74 men the attack of the 24th marked the last 45 minutes of their lives, and 91 others were wounded.

On the 25th, Yamamoto cancelled Operation KA: the first major Japanese attempt to recapture Guadalcanal had failed. That same same day, Enterprise departed for Pearl Harbor, where repair crews worked on her 24 hours a day, from September 10 until October 16. When she reappeared off New Caledonia on October 23, the situation on Guadalcanal, and in the South Pacific, had reached the point of crisis.

Belote, James H. and Belote, William M. Titans of the Seas.
Burns, Eugene. Then There Was One: The U.S.S Enterprise and the First Year of War.
Costello, John. The Pacific War.
Ewing, Steve. USS Enterprise (CV-6): The Most Decorated Ship of World War II.
Lundstrom, John B. The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign.
Stafford, Edward P. The Big E.
USS Enterprise (CV-6) War Diary: August 24, 1942.


Another reference…


USS Saratoga planes sink the Ryujo

After the United States landed on the Solomons on the 7th August the Japanese moved rapidly to respond. The Japanese troops that had since been landed on Guadalcanal had been comprehensively decimated on the 21st. Now there was another clash between two carrier groups of the opposing sides as the Japanese sought to land more troops.

Once again there were difficulties with planes locating their targets over the wide expanse of ocean. Once again there were issues with planes being available to defend their carriers when they were needed. What became known as the Battle of the Eastern Solomons began on 23 August, when a force of Japanese troop transports was detected.

Saratoga and the other carriers launched an air raid against the Japanese ships, but their aircraft were unable to find the enemy and, running low on fuel, they had to spend the night at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. When these aircraft returned on the next day, the first contact report with an accurate location of enemy aircraft carriers was received from scouting forces sent out at dawn. Two hours later, Saratoga and her companions launched a strike targeting the Japanese light aircraft carrier ‘Ryūjō’.

Tameichi Hara was the Captain of the Japanese destroyer Amatsukaze, which together with the Tone and the Tokitsukaze, was escorting the Ryujo:

It was about 1400 and Ryujo was turning into the wind to launch aircraft when scores of American dive-bombers attacked. I watched Ryujo anxiously. Other Japanese carriers could clear their decks of readied fighters in a matter of a few minutes. But not Ryujo.

I had many other things to do. My ship was moving out to a 5,000-meter distance from Ryujo, just as were Tone and Tokitsukaze, to fight the oncoming enemy planes. Ryujo radioed the 21 planes which had struck Guadalcanal, ordering them to go to Buka, midway between Rabaul and Guadalcanal, instead of returning to the carrier.

Why didn’t it call back some of these 15 fighters for interception? I had no more time to speculate. The enemy SBD Dauntless bombers and Grumman fighters were pouncing on the sluggish carrier. At least two dozen American bombers spilled their deadly charges around Ryujo, and fighters swooped low over the ship, machine-gunning everything in sight.

Ryujo’s 12 antiaircraft guns fired sporadically without downing any of the attackers. Two or three enemy bombs hit the ship near the stern, piercing the flight deck. Scarlet flames shot up from the holes. Ominous explosions followed in rapid order. Several more bombs made direct hits.

Water pillars surrounded the carrier, and it was engulfed in thick, black smoke. This was no deliberate smoke screen. Her fuel tanks had been hit and set afire. Was she sinking? Had she sunk?

The enemy planes now turned from the carrier and headed against the other three of us. All guns opened fire as the planes swooped on us. My ship was making 33 knots and zigzagging frantically. Tremendous bow waves kicked up by the speeding destroyer drenched me on the bridge. Amatsukaze weathered the 30-minute attack.

Some of the bombers had saved their “eggs” for us. None hit my ship, but there were several near misses. I breathed deeply as the enemy planes pulled away. Now I turned my eyes in the direction of Ryujo.

The black smoke was beginning to dissipate, and the carrier emerged. Through binoculars I could see that Ryujo, in her death throes, had stopped all forward motion and was sinking! A heavy starboard list exposed her red belly. Waves washed her flight deck. It was a pathetic sight. Ryujo, no longer resembling a ship, was a huge stove, full of holes which belched eerie red flames.


Read & Riley: The Combat Photographers’ Legacy


One of the most famous images of the Pacific War – a bomb caught at the instant it exploded on the Big E’s flight deck during the Eastern Solomons battle – has long been attributed to Photographer’s Mate Second Class Robert Frederic Read. Read lost his life during the battle of 24 August 1942 and it is widely believed that his final photo was of the bomb that killed him.
While outwardly plausible, the story contradicts the historical record. Enterprise’s action report for 24 August 1942 indicates that four photographers were in action during the afternoon attack. Ralph Baker (PhoM 1/c) and Read both operated still cameras: Baker from a point forward of the island, Read from the aft starboard 5″ gun gallery, at flight deck level. Marion Riley (PhoM 2/c) manned a motion picture camera from the aft end of the ship’s island, above the flight deck. W. Edward Smith (PhoM 2/c) was stationed in the Air Plot, also in the ship’s island.

Read, the action report states, photographed the enemy planes as they attacked and were shot down. The first bomb to strike the ship did not deter him, but the second bomb destroyed the gun platform were Read was stationed. Read was killed instantly by this bomb, along with 37 other men. The bomb exploding in the photo was the third to hit the ship, and was photographed from above the flight deck.

Torpedo Ten photographer Joe Houston recently contacted both Smith and Riley’s son, Marion Riley III. Ed Smith indicated, and Mr. Riley confirmed, that the photo is Marion Riley’s. Riley’s camera was damaged by the explosion, but the film survived. A dramatic sequence of stills from the film was published in Life Magazine months after the battle.

Read’s legacy is not diminished by this revelation. It appears that at least one of Read’s photos survives to this day: that of an enemy plane burning on the sea while the Big E races by just yards away. The ship’s rail, the curve of the hull, and the angle of the shot all indicate this photo was taken from the aft starboard quarter of the ship, where Read was stationed. More of Read’s photos probably languish in the archives, waiting only for proper identification.

Like the gunners and other men above decks that terrible August afternoon, Read carried out his duties with determination in the face of a withering aerial onslaught. Fate alone determined that Read would die just moments before the creation of the image that symbolizes the courage of a combat photographer.


Malibu and “The Greatest Generation”

Part of the USS Saratoga’s history


surfing for balance in Silicon Valley

Prologue (Part 1 of 4)

“Surfing is the deceptively simple act of riding a breaking ocean wave on a surfboard. In reality, as a fundamental physical feat, surfing on a wave is a phenomenal conjunction of forces; the mathematics of it are profoundly complex. However, as an expression of the essential relationship between man and nature, surfing is unique in its clarity. And as a metaphor for life and just about anything life throws at us, it is unparalleled. Life is a wave.  Albert Einstein even said so.”

Drew Kampion in “Stoked – A History of Surf Culture”

It seems appropriate that I start this off with a brief review of how I got to Silicon Valley, and how surfing became a metaphor for work/life balance for me.  So here is a 4-part Prologue to get us started:

Part 1: Malibu and The Greatest Generation

Part 2: Corona del…

View original post 2,553 more words

In Memoriam – John Leonard Greaves (1964-2017)

In my search for more information to use on my blog paying homage to VF(N)-101 I had found this Website earlier this week.

It was about the Battle of Midway.

This is the link…

There was something that caught my attention.

A painting and the story behind it. I had to look and read the story.

“The Other Sole Survivors”Torpedo 8 TBF Avenger at Midway – June 4, 1942


All paintings © John Greaves Art (used by permission)

Now the story behind the painting.

The only survivor of a flight of six TBF Avenger torpedo planes struggles to return home to Midway Atoll after attacking the Japanese fleet. Flown by ENS Albert Earnest with radioman Harry Ferrier RM3c and turret gunner Jay Manning Sea1c, the badly damaged TBF has hydraulics shot out causing the tail wheel to drop and the bomb bay doors to open. Without a working compass, Earnest flew east towards the sun and climbed above the cloud deck where he could see the column of smoke rising from Midway in the far distance. Earnest managed to bring back the TBF using only the elevator trim tab for altitude control and successfully landed. Manning died in his turret and Earnest and Ferrier were wounded.



There is another story behind this story.

I wrote John Greaves to get his permission to use his painting on my blog.

But little did I know…

GREAVES, John Leonard

John Greaves died unexpectedly and peacefully at home on Monday, January 9, 2017 in Airdrie, AB at the age of 52 years. John is lovingly remembered by his wife Janet, and their 2 daughters; Emma and Katy of Airdrie, his parents; Len and Eleanor, brother; Stewart of Abbotsford, B.C., Janet’s sister; Sandra (Sam) Hamilton and family of Saskatoon, SK. John was born in Calgary, AB on September 1, 1964. John and his family moved to B.C. prior to John and his brother starting school, eventually settling in Abbotsford where John attended Abby Jr and Sr High School. John attended Fraser Valley College where he pursued his passion in Art, then went on to further study in graphic arts and business at BCIT. A Memorial Service will be held at Aridrie Alliance church, 1604 Summerfield Blvd, Airdrie, AB., on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 1:30, with a reception to follow. Sandy Isfeld and Nathan Kliewer will be officiating, please join us in Celebrating John’s Life In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John’s memory to the Canadian Diabetes Association, 240, 2323 – 32 Ave. NE, Calgary, AB, T2E 6Z3.

Messages of condolence may be left for the family at

The source is here


John Greaves’ artwork is being used on this blog by special permission of his wife Janet…

I give you permission to use his paintings in the two blogs you mentioned, with credit given to my beloved John, who had a passion for history and art.
Janet Greaves

The source of the artwork is here:

In Memoriam of John Leonard Greaves (1964-2017)


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.


Click on the image to read the story behind the painting.

All paintings © John Greaves Art (used by permission)


On my on-going research about CV-3 Saratoga and Richard Emerson Harmer I found this Website…

Most impressive. So much so I had to share it.

“Many of my friends are now dead. To a man, each died with a nonchalance that each would have denied as courage. They simply called it lack of fear. If anything great or good is born of this war, it should not be valued in the colonies we may win nor in the pages historians will attempt to write, but rather in the youth of our country, who never trained for war; rather almost never believed in war, but who have, from some hidden source, brought forth a gallantry which is homespun, it is so real.”

“When you hear others saying harsh things about American youth, do all in your power to help others keep faith with those few who gave so much. Tell them that out here, between a spaceless sea and sky, American youth has found itself and given itself so that, at home, the spark may catch. There is much I cannot say, which should be said before it is too late. It is my fear that national inertia will cancel the gains won at such a price. My luck can’t last much longer, but the flame goes on and on.”

–Ensign William R. Evans, USN, a pilot of Torpedo Squadron 8, KIA at Midway, 4 June 1942.

USS Saratoga circa June/July 1942


Collection Richard Harmer (courtesy Tom Harmer)

Source Wikipedia


U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS (CV-3) alongside Naval Air Station,
Ford Island, in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii (USA), circa June or July 1942

I have always been attracted by aircraft carriers since I built a model of the USS Essex CV-9 in the late 50s or early 60s.


This is really how this blog started in 2015 when Gunnar Kelly sent me this picture of his father on the USS Enterprise.


There are many pictures of CV-6 on the Internet, but there are very few pictures of the USS Saratoga circa July 1942 floating around on the Internet.


In my search for what happened to Richard Emerson Harmer on August 24, 1942, and his fellow pilots of VF-5,  I am trying to find all that  I can about them by using this book I bought last week.


Richard Harmer’s name is listed 29 times in the book. On pages 167-168 we learn what happened to him on 24 August, 1942.

Pages 167-168

The Japanese Fight Their Way Out

Apparently eleven Shokaku and six Zuikaku carrier bombers, three Shokaku and five Zuikaku Zeros survived the bomb runs against TF-16. However, many enemy aircraft bared the way out, including CAP F4Fs, IAP SBDs, returning search planes low on fuel, and strike planes. The first encounters in this phase of the battle took place at low altitude near TF-16. A set sequence of events cannot be given, necessitating an episodic treatment.

Fighting Five

Chick Harmer (VF-5’s XO) and wingman John McDonald of SCARLET 4 had contested the attacks of the lead pair of Shokaku carrier bombers. After chasing Seki’s wingman Imada into fierce AA, Harmer circled the black blizzard of shell bursts looking to ambush other dive bombers emerging lower down. Against one his above-rear run silenced the rear gunner, but the pilot reefed steeply in front, forcing him to roll out of the way. Seeing a large splash he thought perhaps that Aichi had succumbed. The next dive bomber turned the tables by charging hard up Harmer’s tail at 500 feet. Exhibiting excellent marksmanship, its pilot riddled the F4F’s fuselage and cockpit with sixteen to twenty 7.7-mm slugs and severely wounded Harmer in both thighs and the left ankle. More bullets bounced harmlessly off the armor plate behind his seat. Hurt and flying a battered airplane about to run out of gas, Harmer veered southeast toward the Saratoga. Meanwhile “Jughead” McDonald caught a carrier bomber that tried S-turns at 50 feet to avoid his tracers, but to no avail, as his full-deflection shot flamed the VB.

All this search made me appreciate a whole lot more this citation.



Collection Richard Harmer (courtesy Tom Harmer)

There is yet another book that tells what happened on August 24, 1942, but with even more details…



pages 211-212

It was now 4:38 p.m. and TF 16, the task force closest to the impending action, was bracing for attack. Its ships circled wagons into what was called a I-Victor formation: Enterprise at the center, a cruiser on either bow, battleship North Carolina (BB-55) directly astern and the six destroyers posted to an evenly spaced outer ring.

The Japanese had sent twenty-seven dive-bombers to take out the American carriers. Even as a third of these Vals broke to the east, bound for Saratoga skies, Enterprise’s would-be assailants veered due south. The eighteen Vals lowered gradually towards pushover altitude, re-aligning themselves as they advanced: The vee-of vees first lengthened into a column of vees—a sort of moving arrow. Then this column narrowed into a lengthy single-file queue—with individual Vals spaced tail-to-nose at roughly one hundred-yard intervals.

As Enterprise CO Davis curled his ship to starboard, ordered up speed and fled, the Vals were set to come down on the carrier’s port quarter. Sun at his back, each Val pilot jockeyed to keep his place in the queue, waiting for the bomber ahead to push over.

Below, in Enterprise’s Air Plot, frustration and exasperation held sway. FDO “Ham” Dow was doing his best to orchestrate his suddenly over-matched fighter assets using a single undisciplined radio frequency. Pilots crowded the circuit with transmissions inspired by adrenaline, exuberance and terror. Dow (“sweating like a Turk” in the estimation of one of his assistant FDOs) tried desperately to break in with updates and instructions.

Topside, TF 16 lookouts and gunners squinted into the afternoon sun, eager to pick out targets. With their ship’s fire control radar system on the blink, Enterprise five-inch gunners were at a crucial disadvantage. But at 4:40 p.m., at least one portside gallery 20-millimeter battery com¬mander—a sergeant in the ship’s Marine detachment—glimpsed a dive-bomber and ordered his guns to fire. Thin tracer streams reached up like sparks on kindling. Within the minute, most of the formations 1.1-inch, 20-millimeter and five-inch batteries had joined in.

Despite the uncommon ease with which the Japanese dive-bombers had skirted the outer fighter screen, the target path to Enterprise was by no means clear. The two dozen Wildcats left behind in the race were quickly catching up and the two dozen inner screen Wildcats barred the way. Wildcats for Big E’s defense (they had the potential either to help or complicate) were two flights of SBDs and TBFs—one inbound (the search group launched earlier and now returning), one out (the just-launched strike group).

From his position about five miles astern of Enterprise and flying north-west, Lieutenant Richard E. “Chick” Harmer spotted the Vals dropping into their dives. Harmer, VF-5’s thirty-year-old XO, led a Wildcat division that had been aloft for three hours and was now, to a man, short of juice. Nonetheless, Harmer’s pilots poured on such fuel as they had into a parabolic, five thousand foot climb designed to put them on the Val’s tails.

Harmer‘s wingman, twenty-four-year-old Lieutenant (junior grade) John B. “Jughead” McDonald Jr. was the first into the fray, jumping line to take after the formation lead. His wing guns blazing, McDonald fol¬lowed the Val into the heart of the antiaircraft fire. The Val pilot toggled a bomb that splashed well wide of Enterprise before dodging his plane low off the water through the cruiser-destroyer gauntlet.

Harmer took on the second plane and, like McDonald, dove into the antiaircraft vortex, all the while wading bursts with the Val’s rear gunner. This plane escaped, too, but not before dropping another errant bomb.

The third intercept—by Harmer‘s second section leader, twenty-eight¬year-old Lieutenant Howard W. Crews came out better all around. Crews first bullets tore into the Val’s wings and fuselage; a second and longer burst got its cowling and engine. As Crews finally pulled out at three thousand feet to avoid friendly fire, the Val hurtled down. In a prema-ture release, its bomb dropped to a towering but ineffectual splash two hundred yards wide of Enterprise’s port quarter. The flaming Japanese dive-bomber, meanwhile, crashed in water six hundred yards off her port beam.

Richard Emerson Harmer would get another citation, but this time in 1944.


Collection Richard Harmer (courtesy Tom Harmer)


USS Saratoga CV-3


Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Naval History Division • Washington

USS Saratoga (CV-3)

The fifth Saratoga (CV-3) was laid down on 25 September 1920 as Battle Cruiser #3 by the New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J.





















It was ordered to be converted to an aircraft carrier and reclassified CV-3 on 1 July 1922 in accordance with the Washington Treaty limiting naval armaments.

It was launched on 7 April 1925, sponsored by Mrs. Curtis D. Wilbur, wife of the Secretary of the Navy; and commissioned on 16 November 1927, Capt. Harry E. Yarnell in command.


Saratoga, the first fast carrier in the United States Navy, quickly proved the value of her type. She sailed from Philadelphia on 6 January 1928 for shakedown; and, on 11 January, her air officer, the future World War II hero, Marc A. Mitscher, landed the first aircraft on board.



In an experiment on 27 January, the rigid airship Los Angeles (ZR-3) moored to Saratoga’s stern and took on fuel and stores. The same day Saratoga sailed for the Pacific via the Panama Canal.





She was diverted briefly between 14 and 16 February to carry marines to Corinto, Nicaragua, and finally joined the Battle Fleet at San Pedro, California, on 21 February. The rest of the year was spent in training and final machinery shakedown.

On 15 January 1929, Saratoga sailed from San Diego with the Battle Fleet to participate in her first fleet exercise, Fleet Problem IX. In a daring move Saratoga was detached from the fleet with only a single cruiser as escort to make a wide sweep to the south and “attack” the Panama Canal, which was defended by the Scouting Fleet and Saratoga’s sister ship, Lexington. She successfully launched her strike on 26 January, and despite being “sunk” three times later in the day, proved the versatility of a fast task force centered around a carrier. The idea was incorporated into fleet doctrine and reused the following year in Fleet Problem X in the Caribbean. This time, however, Saratoga and carrier, Langley, were “disabled” by a surprise attack from Lexington, showing how quickly air power could swing the balance in a naval action.




Following the fleet concentration in the Caribbean Saratoga took part in the Presidential Review at Norfolk in May and returned to San Pedro on 21 June 1930.

During the remaining decade before World War II Saratoga exercised in the San Diego-San Pedro area, except for the annual fleet problems and regular overhauls at the Bremerton Navy Yard. In the fleet problems, Saratoga continued to assist in the development of fast carrier tactics, and her importance was recognized by the fact that she was always a high priority target for the opposing forces.


The fleet problem for 1932 was planned for Hawaii, and, by coincidence occurred during the peak of the furor following the “Manchurian incident” in which Japan started on the road to World War II. Saratoga exercised in the Hawaii area from 31 January to 19 March and returned to Hawaii for fleet exercises the following year between 23 January and 28 February 1933. On the return trip to the west coast, she launched a successful air “attack” on the Long Beach area.

Exercises in 1934 took Saratoga to the Caribbean and the Atlantic for an extended period, from 9 April to 9 November, and were followed by equally extensive operations with the United States Fleet in the Pacific the following year.


Between 27 April and 6 June 1936, she participated in a fleet problem in the Canal Zone, and she then returned with the fleet to Hawaii for exercises from 16 April to 28 May 1937. On 15 March 1938, Saratoga sailed from San Diego for Fleet Problem XIX, again conducted off Hawaii. During the second phase of the problem, Saratoga launched a surprise air attack on Pearl Harbor from a point 100 miles off Oahu, setting a pattern that the Japanese copied in December 1941. During the return to the west coast, Saratoga and Lexington followed this feat with “strikes” on Mare Island and Alameda. Saratoga was under overhaul during the 1939 fleet concentration, but, between 2 April and 21 June 1940, she participated in Fleet Problem XXI, the last to be held due to the deepening world crisis.

Between 14 and 29 October 1940, Saratoga transported a draft of military personnel from San Pedro to Hawaii, and, on 6 January 1941, she entered the Bremerton Navy Yard for a long deferred modernization, including widening her flight deck forward and fitting a blister on her starboard side and additional small antiaircraft guns. Departing Bremerton on 28 April 1941, the carrier participated in a landing force exercise in May and made two trips to Hawaii between June and October as the diplomatic crisis with Japan came to a head.

When the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Saratoga was just entering San Diego after an interim drydocking at Bremerton. She hurriedly got underway the following day as the nucleus of a third carrier force (Lexington and Enterprise were already at sea), carrying Marine aircraft intended to reinforce the vulnerable garrison on Wake Island. Presence of these aircraft on board made Saratoga the logical choice for the actual relief effort. She reached Pearl Harbor on 15 December and stopped only long enough to fuel. She then rendezvoused with Tangier (AV-8), which had relief troops and supplies on board, while Lexington and Enterprise provided distant cover for the operation. However, the Saratoga force was delayed by the low speed of its oiler and by a decision to refuel destroyers on 21 December. After receiving reports of Japanese carrier aircraft over the island and Japanese landings on it, the relief force was recalled on 22 December. Wake fell the next day.

Saratoga continued operations in the Hawaiian Island region; but, on 11 January 1942, when heading towards a rendezvous with Enterprise, 500 miles south-west of Oahu, she was hit without warning by a deep-running torpedo fired by Japanese submarine, 1-16. Although six men were killed and three firerooms were flooded, the carrier reached Oahu under her own power. There, her 8-inch guns, useless against aircraft, were removed for installation in shore defenses, and the carrier proceeded to the Bremerton Navy Yard for permanent repairs and installation of a modern anti-aircraft battery.


Saratoga departed Puget Sound on 22 May for San Diego. She arrived there on 25 May and was training her air group when intelligence was received of an impending Japanese assault on Midway. Due to the need to load planes and stores and to collect escorts, the carrier was unable to sail until 1 June and arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 6th after the Battle of Midway had ended. She departed Pearl Harbor on 7 June after fueling; and, on 11 June, transferred 34 aircraft to Hornet and Enterprise to replenish their depleted air groups. The three carriers then turned north to counter Japanese activity reported in the Aleutians, but the operation was canceled and Saratoga returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 June.

USS Saratoga (CV-3) Alongside Naval Air Station, Ford Island, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, circa June or July 1942 Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Between 22 and 29 June, Saratoga ferried Marine and Army aircraft to the garrison on Midway.


15 July 1942 (courtesy Tom Harmer)

On 7 July, she sailed for the southwest Pacific; and, from 28 to 30 July, she provided air cover for landing rehearsals in the Fiji Islands in preparation for landings on Guadalcanal. As flagship of Real Admiral F. J. Fletcher, Saratoga opened the Guadalcanal assault early on 7 August when she turned into the wind to launch aircraft. She provided air cover for the landings for the next two days. On the first day, a Japanese air attack was repelled before it reached the carriers, but since further attacks were expected, the carrier force withdrew on the afternoon of 8 August towards a fueling rendezvous. As a result, it was too far away to retaliate after four Allied cruisers were sunk that night in the Battle of Savo Island. The carrier force continued to operate east of the Solomons, protecting the sealanes to the beachhead and awaiting a Japanese naval counterattack.

The counterattack began to materialize when a Japanese transport force was detected on 23 August, and Saratoga launched a strike against it. The aircraft were unable to find the enemy, however, and spent the night on Guadalcanal. As they were returning on board the next day, the first contact report on enemy carriers was received. Two hours later, Saratoga launched a strike which sent Japanese carrier Ryujo to the bottom. Later in the afternoon, as an enemy strike from other carriers was detected, Saratoga hastily launched the aircraft on her deck, and these found and damaged seaplane tender Chitose. Meanwhile, due to cloud cover, Saratoga escaped detection by the Japanese aircraft, which concentrated their attack on, and damaged, Enterprise. The American force fought back fiercely and weakened enemy air strength so severely that the Japanese recalled their transports before they reached Guadalcanal.

After landing her returning aircraft at night on 24 August, Saratoga refueled on the 25th and resumed her patrols east of the Solomons. A week later, a destroyer reported torpedo wakes heading toward the carrier, but the 888-foot flattop could not turn quickly enough. A minute later, a torpedo from I-26 slammed into the blister on her starboard side. The torpedo killed no one and only flooded one fireroom, but the impact caused short circuits which damaged Saratoga’s turbo-electric propulsion system and left her dead in the water. Cruiser Minneapolis took the carrier under tow while she flew her aircraft off to shore bases. By early afternoon, Saratoga’s engineers had improvised a circuit out of the burned wreckage of her main control board and had given her a speed of 10 knots. After repairs at Tongatabu from 6 to 12 September, Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor on 21 September for permanent repairs.

Saratoga sailed from Pearl Harbor on 10 November and proceeded, via Fiji, to Noumea which she reached on 5 December. She operated in the vicinity of Noumea for the next twelve months, providing air cover for minor operations and protecting American forces in the Eastern Solomons. Between 17 May and 31 July 1943, she was reinforced by the British carrier, Victorious, and, on 20 October, she was joined by Princeton (CVL-23). As troops stormed ashore on Bougainville on 1 November, Saratoga’s aircraft neutralized nearby Japanese airfields on Buka. Then, on 5 November, in response to reports of Japanese cruisers concentrating at Rabaul to counterattack the Allied landing forces, Saratoga conducted perhaps her most brilliant strike of the war. Her aircraft penetrated the heavily defended port and disabled most of the Japanese cruisers, ending the surface threat to Bougainville. Saratoga, herself, escaped unscathed and returned to raid Rabaul again on 11 November.

Saratoga and Princeton were then designated the Relief Carrier Group for the offensive in the Gilberts; and, after striking Nauru on 19 November, they rendezvoused on 23 November with the transports carrying garrison troops to Makin and Tarawa. The carriers provided air cover until the transports reached their destinations, and then maintained air patrols over Tarawa. By this time, Saratoga had steamed over a year without repairs, and she was detached on 30 November to return to the United States. She underwent overhaul at San Francisco from 9 December 1943 to 3 January 1944, and had her antiaircraft battery augmented for the last time, receiving 60 40-millimeter guns in place of 36 20-millimeter guns.

The carrier arrived at Pearl Harbor on 7 January, and, after a brief period of training, sailed from Pearl Harbor on 19 January with light carriers, Langley and Princeton, to support the drive in the Marshalls. Her aircraft struck Wotje and Taroa for three days, from 29 to 31 January, and then pounded Engebi, the main island at Eniwetok, the 3d to the 6th and from the 10th to the 12th of February. Her planes delivered final blows to Japanese defenses on the 16th, the day before the landings, and provided close air support and CAP over the island until 28 February.


Saratoga then took leave of the main theaters of the Pacific war for almost a year, to carry out important but less spectacular assignments elsewhere. Her first task was to help the British initiate their carrier offensive in the Far East. On 4 March, Saratoga departed Majuro with an escort of three destroyers, and sailed via Espiritu Santo; Hobart, Tasmania; and Fremantle, Australia, to join the British Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean. She rendezvoused at sea on 27 March with the British force, composed of carrier, Illustrious, and four battleships with escorts, and arrived with them at Trincomalee, Ceylon, on 31 March. On 12 April, the French battleship, Richelieu, arrived, adding to the international flavor of the force. During the next two days, the carriers conducted intensive training at sea during which Saratoga’s fliers tried to impart some of their experience to the British pilots. On 16 April, the Eastern Fleet, with Saratoga, sailed from Trincomalee, and, on the 19th, the aircraft from the two carriers struck the port of Sabang, off the northwest tip of Sumatra. The Japanese were caught by surprise by the new offensive, and much damage was done to port facilities and oil reserves. The raid was so successful that Saratoga delayed her departure in order to carry out a second. Sailing again from Ceylon on 6 May, the force struck at Soerabaja, Java, on 17 May with equally successful results. Saratoga was detached the following day, and passed down the columns of the Eastern Fleet as the Allied ships rendered honors to and cheered each other.

Saratoga arrived at Bremerton, Washington, on 10 June 1944 and was under repair there through the summer. On 24 September, she arrived at Pearl Harbor and commenced her second special assignment, training night fighter squadrons. Saratoga had experimented with night flying as early as 1931, and many carriers had been forced to land returning aircraft at night during the war; but, only in August 1944, did a carrier, Independence, receive an air group specially equipped to operate at night. At the same time, Carrier Division 11, composed of Saratoga and Ranger (CV-4), was commissioned at Pearl Harbor to train night pilots and develop night flying doctrine.


Saratoga continued this important training duty for almost four months, but as early as October, her division commander was warned that “while employed primarily for training, Saratoga is of great value for combat and is to be kept potentially available for combat duty.” The call came in January 1945. Light carriers like Independence had proved too small for safe night operations, and Saratoga was rushed out of Pearl Harbor on 29 January 1945 to form a night fighter task group with Enterprise for the Iwo Jima operation.

Saratoga arrived at Ulithi on 7 February and sailed three days later, with Enterprise and four other carrier task groups. After landing rehearsals with marines at Tinian on 12 February, the carrier force carried out diversionary strikes on the Japanese home islands on the night of 16 and 17 February before the landings on Iwo Jima. Saratoga was assigned to provide fighter cover while the remaining carriers launched the strikes on Japan, but, in the process, her fighters raided two Japanese airfields. The force fueled on 18 and 19 February; and, on 21 February, Saratoga was detached with an escort of three destroyers to join the amphibious forces and carry out night patrols over Iwo Jima and night heckler missions over nearby Chi-chi Jima. However, as she approached her operating area at 1700 on the 21st, an air attack developed, and taking advantage of low cloud cover and Saratoga’s insufficient escort, six Japanese planes scored five hits on the carrier in three minutes. Saratoga’s flight deck forward was wrecked, her starboard side was holed twice and large fires were started in her hangar deck, while she lost 123 of her crew dead or missing. Another attack at 1900 scored an additional bomb hit. By 2015, the fires were under control and the carrier was able to recover aircraft, but she was ordered to Eniwetok and then to the west coast for repairs, and arrived at Bremerton on 16 March.


On 22 May, Saratoga departed Puget Sound fully repaired, and she resumed training pilots at Pearl Harbor on 3 June. She ceased training duty on 6 September, after the Japanese surrender, and sailed from Hawaii on 9 September transporting 3,712 returning naval veterans home to the United States under Operation “Magic Carpet.” By the end of her “Magic Carpet” service, Saratoga had brought home 29,204 Pacific war veterans, more than any other individual ship. At the time, she also held the record for the greatest number of aircraft landed on a carrier, with a lifetime total of 98,549 landings in 17 years.

With the arrival of large numbers of Essex-class carriers, Saratoga was surplus to postwar requirements, and she was assigned to Operation “Crossroads” at Bikini Atoll to test the effect of the atomic bomb on naval vessels. She survived the first blast, an air burst on 1 July, with only minor damage, but was mortally wounded by the second on 25 July, an underwater blast which was detonated under a landing craft 500 yards from the carrier. Salvage efforts were prevented by radioactivity, and seven and one-half hours after the blast, with her funnel collapsed across her deck, Saratoga slipped beneath the surface of the lagoon.


She was struck from the Navy list on 15 August 1946. Saratoga received seven battle stars for her World War II service.