Guy Griffiths - Leyte Gulf
Well, firstly in October '44, our cruiser, the Shropshire. We formed a, we had a task force. Two Australian cruisers, Australia and Shropshire and two Australia destroyers, Warramunga and Arunta. We joined with three American cruisers and their destroyers and formed Task Force 74. That was formed towards the end of '43 and we covered all the MacArthur landings, all the way along the New Guinea coast and offshore islands, such as the Admiralty Islands.
All the way through until October '44, we got to Leyte Gulf. It was a huge landing, enormous force. That was when Australia was damaged by a Japanese aircraft. One never knows at that stage whether it was a pure kamikaze or that he was damaged and he slid into the Australia. It killed a lot of people, over thirty, including the captain and the navigator and Commodore Collins was wounded and so on. It was not good.
We went in on the 20th, 21st of October and supported the landings and so on and then on the 24th of October, the warning had come out that the Japanese were moving two forces, one to come through the southern end of Leyte Gulf and another to come through the middle of the Philippines and San Bernardino channel, to get rid of the landing force. It's all a very complicated matter, but for the 25th, we were all positioned across the entrance to Leyte Gulf from the south.
We had a night surface action, firing at the Japanese force coming up. We participated certainly in the sinking of the Japanese battleship. But, there were ships as far as you could see across the horizon because they're all in formation and we were there guarding them en route to Leyte Gulf, certainly against air attack, which didn't eventuate on the approach, only when we were in the Gulf.