Posted 8 February 2010.
Paper found and won on eBay by the USS Helena Organization.
Donated to the Montana Miilitary Museum, Helena , MT.

Kula Reporter Tells of Battle

'Something Hit Her,' Witness Says;
Saw Jap Destroyer Obliterated

ALLIED HEADQUARTERS, Australia, July 9.---(AP)---
The 9,000-ton United States cruiser Helena had just turned her guns on a Japanese destroyer and watched it go up in a blinding flash
in the Kula Gulf of the Central Solomons when "something hit her," but more than 600 aboard the Helena were saved from the
oil-covered waters, war correspondents reported today from the South Pacific.

(The Helena was the only American warship lost in the naval battle fought in the predawn darkness July 6, earlier dispatches
have reported, against the certain loss of nine Japanese cruisers and destroyers. The number of Helena survivors had not been stated
before. A cruiser of her type normally carries between 700 and 800 men.)

The story of the cruiser's destruction as related by Alan Jackson, American picture pool photographer, who was aboard her, was
sent to Australia by Osmar White, Australian correspondent. White estimated the number at 600.
Terrific Salvo Wipes Out Two Cruisers

Jackson's story follows:

"We were told early in the evening we were going to intercept the Tokyo express (nicknamed first applied to Japanese ships
supplying Guadalcanal forces and in this case ships above New Georgia Island presumably bringing aid to the menaced
Munda air base) and to expect action at midnight".

"I went to the bridge. Approximately at 1:30 a.m. (July 6), targets were reported".

"We closed and the whole force opened a terrific salvo. After six minutes of continuous firing, two Jap cruisers disappeared".

"We saw a Jap destroyer standing in and fired a salvo at her, which hit with a blinding flash. Then something hit us".

"The order to abandon ship was given. It was pitch dark and everything was covered with oil from the ship's vitals.

"I got my camera and went to the quarterdeck. The sailors were slashing rafts loose and jumping overboard and
I went over the side. The water was thickly covered with oil".

Reaches Raft, But Finds No Room

"I paddled five minutes and reached a raft on which there were 30 other men.
There wasn't room for me, so I clung on lifelines in the water".

"I looked back and saw the ship like a great ghost against the gun flashes. She was sinking and seemed to be dragging us back".

"We paddled and rowed madly. One man was crying out, 'Come on, sailors, give it hell.'

"We cleared her and she settled quietly and disappeared".

"I heard fellows calling for help all around, but there was little I could do. We sighted another raft and lashed both together.
All the while, we felt the concussion of shells exploding in the water as the battle continued".

"Someone saw the outline of a ship and rafts started flashing lights all over the place. Then the officer called out,
'Douse the lights, they may be Japs.'

"We saw searchlights. We were afraid of going ashore on Kolombangara (island on the Kula Gulf above New Georgia)
and paddled seawards. A destroyer boat passed us, picked up an officer and said it would be back. The men started to shout,
'Hip, hip, hooray.' They cheered in unison to attract attention.

Whole Sea a Mass of Bobbing Lights

"We flashed the lights again. The whole sea was a mass of bobbing, floating lights. A destroyer passed within 50 yards and
we called, 'Are you coming back?' Some one replied, 'Take it easy, we will be back.'

"A half hour later, a destroyer came up and we climbed the rope to the deck. She immediately put on speed and started firing.

"At dawn, we ran into a Jap cruiser and gave her hell. I saw flames and smoke gushing from her. One hero was the whaleboatman
who volunteered to stay back and pick up more survivors. We left him."

White said that prior to the battle, planes spotted four cruisers, five destroyers and several supply ships coming down from
the north and the American force hit them after they turned into the Kula Gulf, which is only 16 miles long and flanked by dangerous

The action was broken off at daybreak when the main American force retired, leaving two destroyers to pick up the cruiser survivors.
These two destroyers broke off the rescue work three times to engage scattered remnants of the enemy.

After daybreak, planes reported that the gulf was spotted with floating wreckage, with Japanese clinging to rafts and spars amidst
great oil slicks.

White said that while the Japanese force was completely broken, some ships may have succeeded in landing troops for the reinforcement
of Vila, on Kolombangara.

USS Helena CL-50 men shortly after their rescue in 1943.

Left - LTJG Bin Cochran. Right - CTC Otis Point
Pictures provided by LTJG Bin Cochran

The following picture found on eBay and donated by Dave Brouchoud.
Shipmate on the USS Helena CA-75 From January 1952 - May 1955.

The following picture comes from the DeWolfe Hotchkiss, USN, Collection.
Permission to post comes from Lady Audrey's Gallery.

(Information found on the back of the picture)
(The Nicholas left, to the Honolulu.) AUGUST 14, 1943

Photo # 80-54566 Funeral services for a casualty
of the USS Helena, after the Battle of Kula Gulf,
July 7, 1943.

To hear "Taps" click Here.
This is a Wav file and could take 1 minute 30
seconds to load and play. (Worth it! Ed)

Funeral services aboard Honolulu for
Irwin L. Edwards F1c USNR Service
# 644 09 79 who died aboard Nicholas
from wounds or injuries received in action,
after being picked up with other survivors.

To see a picture of the USS Honolulu CL-48,
click on the photo above.

The following narrative and newspaper picture provided by Charlie McClelland.

His War Is Ended - - - Yours Is Not

Above is the picture of a sailor's funeral. He was a young member of the crew of the
U.S.S. Helena and was killed two months ago fighting the Japanese in the battle of
Kula Gulf. so for him the war is ended. He will sleep the long sleep far from his home
in the alien waters of the South Pacific. His fighting is over; his job is done. But his
shipmates, standing grim faced and bare-headed about his flag-draped coffin, will
work harder, fight more savagely because he is lost to them. How about us here at
home? What can we do to avenge the death of this American boy and thousands like
him who are dying in battle? We too, must work harder, give more freely of our
energies and all our resources else their death cannot be justified. That's why we must
buy extra War Bonds-----and buy them now! Remember: He gave his life; we only
lend our money.


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