USS Kidd honorably passed through all its trials. More than once it was under fire, but until 1945, the crew of the destroyer remained unhurt… except for a few cases of food poisoning. By the way, the conditions of hygiene procedures were Spartan – shower time was 45 seconds, then the sailor had to swap with the next in line and soap up until his “changer” finished taking a shower, and then he would have the next 45 seconds to wash off foam. Not surprisingly, the sailors loved the shower!
Latrines for sailors and sergeants were common with one of the toilet seats painted red. It was painted for sailors suffering from infectious diseases, and so several times a day it was cleaned with antiseptic. Many sailors used it, as the ship was fighting in the tropics, and it was one of the cleanest places on the ship.
Let’s leave the topic of latrines and the numerous related stories aside, and go back to the history of USS Kidd.
It was 1945, and one of the largest amphibious operations in history had begun – the battle for Okinawa. The Japanese responded by redoubling the resistance and increasing the number of kamikaze attacks, in defense of which the USS Kidd took part. Fletcher-class destroyers were quite effective in providing defense thanks to good equipment: major caliber 5-inch guns, anti-aircraft 40mm “Bofors” and 20mm “Oerlikon”. Moreover, the 5 – inch guns and “Bofors” could be controlled remotely which provided greatly improved accuracy. However, on April 11, 1945, even this could not save USS Kidd.
Photos of the reloading section. Black stripes on the deck – one hand did not let to slip, and on the other hand – indicates the maximum width gun that allowed sailors bounce when turret was turning.
On this day, USS Kidd was attacked by Japanese aircrafts. They had tricked the crew: the enemy aircraft simulated an aerial duel and it was difficult to understand who was fighting whom, ours or the enemy’s. The mariners did not open fire until the last moment, when it was clear that in the sky there were two Japanese Zero fighters. But it was too late; one of the Japanese planes abruptly dived out of the air battle and went straight to the ship! The Kamikaze swept over the USS Black and flew directly toward USS Kidd. Major caliber guns could not be used because of the risk of hitting allies, so all hope was on the 40-mm and 20-mm anti-aircraft guns.
20mm “Oerlikon” with a ring sight
“Bofors” early model
…and its modifications.
Table of Japanese aircrafts
The USS Black anti-aircraft gunners managed to shoot down one of the fighters and set on fire second Zero, but this did not prevent its collision with Kidd in the bow area of the boiler plant. A bomb mounted on the plane flew through the ship and exploded on the left side and covered everything with deck splinters. 38 sailors were killed, and another 50 – including the captain and the ship’s doctor – were injured.
Taken by one of the crew members a few seconds before the kamikaze hit.
Original and new memorial plaques dedicated to those who were killed on April 11, 1945.
Japanese pilots noticed smoke coming out of the destroyer and tried to finish USS Kidd, but their attempts were unsuccessful. The wounded ship was sent for repair, though by the time it was ready to return to service, the Japanese Empire had capitulated.
USS Kidd also participated in the Korea war but that’s a different story…
The name of the Pearl Harbor hero of was not forgotten. After DD-661 was decommissioned, the name USS Kidd was inherited by two other U.S. destroyers, DDG-993 and DDG-100, the latter of which came into operation only in 2007.
USS Kidd (DDG-993)
USS Kidd (DDG-100)
The veteran DD-661 is currently in retirement in the waters of the Mississippi river.
Boat Museum, USS Kidd, Louisiana.