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  USS Belleau Wood CVL-24 (Bois Belleau)
USN
Independence class
aircraft carrier

11,000 Tons
622' 6" x 109' 2" x 26'
26 x 40mm AA guns
24 x fighter aircraft
9 x torpedo aircraft
Click For Enlargement
USN October 30, 1944

Ship History
Built by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, New Jersey. Laid down August 11, 1941. Originally laid down as the Cleveland-class light cruiser USS New Haven CL-76, she renamed USS Belleau Wood on February 16, 1942 and reclassified CVL-24 on July 15, 1943. Launched December 6, 1942 sponsored by Mrs. Thomas Holcomb, wife of the Commandant of the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC). Commissioned on March 31, 1943 with Captain A. M. Pride in command.

Wartime History
After a brief shakedown cruise, Belleau Wood reported to the Pacific Fleet, arriving at Pearl Harbor 26 July 1943. After supporting the occupation of Baker Island (1 September) and taking part in the Tarawa (18 September) and Wake Island (5 October–6 October) raids, she joined TF 50 for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands (19 November–4 December 1943).

Belleau Wood operated with TF 58 during the seizure of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, Marshall Islands (29 January–3 February 1944), Truk raid (16 February–17 February); Saipan-Tinian-Rota-Guam raids (21 February–22 February); Palau-Yap-Ulithi-Woleai raid (30 March–1 April); Sawar and Wakde Island raids in support of the landings at Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura), New Guinea (22 April–24 April); Truk-Satawan-Ponape raid (29 April–1 May); occupation of Saipan (11 June–24 June), 1st Bonins raid (15 June–16 June), Battle of the Philippine Sea (19 June–20 June); and 2nd Bonins raid (24 June). During the Battle Of the Philippine Sea, TBF Avengers from Belleau Wood torpedoed Japanese aircraft carrier Hiyo that exploded and sank two hours later.

After an overhaul at Pearl Harbor (29 June–31 July 1944) Belleau Wood rejoined TF 58 for the last stages of the occupation of Guam (2 August–10 August). She joined TF 38 and took part in the strikes in support of the occupation of the southern Palaus (6 September–14 October); Philippine Islands raids (9 September–24 September); Morotai landings (15 September); Okinawa raid (10 October); northern Luzon and Formosa raids (11 October–14 October); Luzon strikes (15 October and 17 October–19 October), and the Battle of Cape Engaño (24 October–26 October). On 30 October, while Belleau Wood was patrolling with her task group east of Leyte, she shot down a Japanese suicide plane which fell on her flight deck aft, causing fires which set off ammunition. Before the fire could be brought under control, 92 men had either died or gone missing.

Repairs
After temporary repairs at Ulithi (2 November–11 November), Belleau Wood steamed to Hunter's Point, Calif., for permanent repairs and an overhaul, arriving 29 November. She departed San Francisco Bay 20 January 1945 and joined TF 58 at Ulithi on 7 February. During 15 February–4 March she took part in the raids on Honsh? Island, Japan, and the Nansei Shoto, as well as supporting the landings on Iwo Jima. She also took part in the 5th Fleet strikes against Japan (17 March–26 May) and the 3rd Fleet strikes (27 May–11 June). After embarking Air Group 31 at Leyte (13 June–1 July), she rejoined the 3rd Fleet for the final strikes against the Japanese home islands (10 July–15 August). The last Japanese aircraft shot down in the war was a "Judy" dive bomber which was shot down by Clarence "Bill" A. Moore, an F6F pilot of " VF-31 "The Flying Meat-Axe from USS Belleau Wood.

Belleau Wood launched her planes 2 September for the mass flight over Tokyo, Japan, during the surrender ceremonies. She remained in Japanese waters until 13 October. Arriving at Pearl Harbor 28 October, she departed three days later with 1248 servicemen for San Diego. She remained on "Magic Carpet" duty, returning servicemen from Guam and Saipan to San Diego, until 31 January 1946. During the next year Belleau Wood was moored at various docks in the San Francisco area, undergoing inactivation. She was placed out of commission in reserve at Alameda Naval Air Station 13 January 1947. She remained in reserve service until transfered to France in 1953. Belleau Wood would received the Presidential Unit Citation and twelve battle stars for World War II service.

First Indochina War (Bois Belleau)
On September 5, 1953 transferred to France Navy (Marine nationale) under the Mutual Defense Assistance Act. Under and renamed Bois Belleau (French translation of "Belleau Wood") and sent to France. In April 1954 departed Toulon bound for Indochina (French Indochina, Vietnam) to replace the Arromanches. On May 20, 1953 arrived at Ha Long Bay with her aircraft were immediately put to use by the French. Bois Belleau served in the French Navy until 1960, when she was returned to the United States.

Scrapping
The Belleau Wood was stricken from the Navy list on 1 October 1960 and sold for scrapping.

References
U.S.S. Belleau Wood Association of Shipmates via Wayback Machine June 3, 2003

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Last Updated
January 10, 2018

 


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