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The U.S.S. Neosho

Sources and Further Information




If you're interested in learning more about the U.S.S. Neosho or the Battle of the Coral Sea, here are some good sources of information:





"Fat Girl" by Charles Rawlings and Isabel Leighton  (1943)

To my knowledge, this is the only book ever written exclusively about the U.S.S. Neosho.  It's 38 pages long and is available through used bookstores (see www.abebooks.com) for about $20.  It has some good photos and it's the only book where I've ever seen the pictures of Captain John Phillips and of the Neosho burning, both of which I've included in this website.  Frankly the writing is melodramatic and filled with hyperbole, as were many stories written during the war, but it provides a lot of detailed description about the Neosho and of the persons involved.





"Coral Sea, Midway, and Submarine Actions:  May 1942 - August 1942" by Samuel Morison  (1949)

This book contains the best scholarly description of the Battle of the Coral Sea that I've come across.  Also, the detailed maps are fantastic and they give you a good feel for the battle (in fact, I used Morison's maps of the Battle of the Coral Sea as the basis for some of the maps I created and posted on my website).  However, the book doesn't describe the experience of the Neosho in as much detail as the other two books listed here.  You can find this book at www.amazon.com.




"Blue Skies And Blood: The Battle of the Coral Sea" by Edwin Hoyt  (1975)

This book is less formal than Morison's book and includes more personal accounts of the battle.  Although it sometimes reads like a novel, it includes a stirring and detailed description of the fate of the U.S.S. Neosho at Coral Sea.  It's better written than Fat Girl and is quite informative.  My only criticism is the book cover, which includes a ridiculous painting of several burning battleships and cruisers, an encounter which clearly did not happen at the Battle of the Coral Sea.  I'm not sure why this drawing was used and it detracts from an otherwise fine book. You can find Blue Skies and Blood at www.amazon.com.



If you're interested in the U.S.S. Sims, there's a book that I just discovered called "Grace Under Fire" by Dan Verton (140 pp).  It's available on www.amazon.com for $21.95 and was published in 2003.  I haven't read it yet, but I hope to post a synopsis soon.



Information on Casualties

If you would like information about a person who died on the U.S.S. Neosho of U.S.S. Sims during the Battle of the Coral Sea, check my Survivors and Casualties page.  You can also visit the U.S. Navy webpage at http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq11-1.htm, which describes how you can purchase a microfilm or microfiche list of casualties for any campaign in the war.  As this webpage states, the information for each casualty includes the man's name, service number, rank/rate, casualty code (wounded or killed), and date of casualty.


Instead of purchasing the microfilm or microfiche, you can find this same information in the following book:  Combat Connected Naval Casualties, World War II, by States. 2 vols. US Navy. Washington: Office of Information, 1946. (Volume 1 covers Alabama through Missouri; Volume 2 covers Montana through Wyoming and other areas) OCLC 03829654.   According to the U.S. Navy, you can find this book in large university or depository libraries.  I have not seen this book, so I know nothing about it, but it lists every Naval casualty in World War II.  Please refer to the http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq11-1.htm page for more information.



  • "Tora, Tora, Tora"

I saw this movie in a theatre when it first came out in the early 1970s.  I didn't really like it, thinking it was a "Bora Bora Bora," and my Mom and Dad, who saw it with me, felt the same way.  However, the more times I watch it now, the more I like it.  


This is definitely the best movie about the Pearl Harbor attack ever produced, much more entertaining, informative, and historically accurate than the Hollywood monstrosity, "Pearl Harbor," starring Ben Affleck that came out in 2001.  My uncle Bill saw both movies and also thought "Tora Tora Tora" was more accurate than "Pearl Harbor."  As I recall, Bill's main complaint about the movie "Pearl Harbor" was that, and I quote, "It was too loud.  It wasn't that loud during the attack at Pearl Harbor."  Since Bill was right in the middle of the action, I took his word for it.


Anyway, you don't actually see the U.S.S. Neosho -- or even a replica of the Neosho -- during "Tora, Tora, Tora."  However, late in the battle scene, as the Japanese are attacking the seaplane PBY base on Ford Island, two Americans on Ford Island have the following harried conversation:


One guy:  "Oh my God.  The tanker Neoshoís over there and itís full of aviation fuel!"

The other guy:  "If that thing goes, itíll blow up half the harbor!"


And that, to my knowledge, is the only time the U.S.S. Neosho has ever been mentioned by name in any movie.


  • "Midway"

I don't believe that any movie about the Battle of the Coral Sea was ever produced.  Well, all right, there was a movie called something like "Battle of the Coral Sea" starring Cliff Robertson about submarines during the battle, but I don't think it involved much action on the surface.


"Midway," however, has about the best footage of the Battle of the Coral Sea that I've seen.  Both "Tora, Tora, Tora" and "Midway" were made in the early 1970s and look similar.  "Midway" tells the story of the battle in the Pacific in 1942, starting with the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April, the Battle of the Coral Sea in May, and culminating, of course, with the Battle of Midway in June.  What makes "Midway" special is the inclusion of a lot of actual footage shot during World War II, much of it by film-maker John Ford (Commander USNR). 


The movie is mostly accurate, although it cuts some corners on telling the story of the Coral Sea battle.  Nevertheless, the footage of the U.S.S. Lexington and U.S.S. Yorktown at Coral Sea is interesting.  The movie is hard to follow if you don't know what's going on and frankly the acting isn't very good, but "Midway" packs a lot of information into two hours.  The cable channel AMC airs both "Tora, Tora, Tora" and "Midway" on a regular basis.




On the Cavalcade of America website, you can hear a radio dramatization, broadcast in 1943, of the Neosho's attack at Pearl Harbor and its sinking during the Battle of the Coral Sea.  The Cavalcade of America was a weekly drama series broadcast on radio from 1935 - 1952.  Refer to episode CALV 430510 - 330 Fat Girl at the website: https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Cavalcade_of_America_Singles.  It's a 30-minute broadcast and at the end, the captain of the Neosho, John Philips, speaks for a few minutes to commemorate the lives that were lost.  This is the only recording of his voice on the Internet that I'm aware of.




My Sources

My sources of information for this section of my website include: 

  • Personal accounts from my uncle, Bill Leu, Fireman Third Class, U.S.S. Neosho (1941 - 1942)

  • Accounts in the three books listed above (Fat Girl, Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions and Blue Skies and Blood).

  • U.S. Navy official Action Reports, obtained via the Internet.

My photo sources include my personal collection, U.S. Navy photographs, and U.S. Navy Historical Center photographs.  The photo of Captain John S. Phillips appeared in the book Fat Girl and is by Jack Short. 

The names appearing on my "List of survivors and casualties" was obtained from the three books listed above and from the U.S. Navy Action Reports, as well as from correspondences I've received from relatives of those who served on the Neosho.

I drew all of the maps and diagrams appearing in the U.S.S. Neosho section of my website.



Table of Contents:

U.S.S. Neosho  (AO-23)

U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23) Home Page


Specifications of the U.S.S. Neosho

The Four U.S.S. Neoshos


Photo Gallery of the U.S.S. Neosho


The Pearl Harbor Attack  (December 7, 1941)

Prelude to War:  Conflict in the Far East

Bill Leu's Early Years

The U.S.S. Neosho at Pearl Harbor

Bill Leu Interview:  Pearl Harbor Attack

U.S. Navy Action Report:  U.S.S. Neosho


The Battle of the Coral Sea  (May 1942)

The Battle of the Coral Sea:  Summary

Battle Action:  April 30 - May 4, 1942 

Battle Action:  May 5 - May 7, 1942

Battle Action:  May 8, 1942

The U.S.S. Neosho at Coral Sea

May 7, 1942:  The Attack

May 8, 1942:  Waiting For Rescue

May 9, 1942:  Fading Hope

May 10, 1942:  Neosho Sighted

May 11, 1942:  Rescue

List of Survivors & Casualties

The Battle of the Coral Sea  (May 1942 - cont.)

Bill Leu Interview:  Battle of the Coral Sea

U.S. Navy Action Reports:  Coral Sea

Action Report of the U.S.S. Neosho

Action Report of the U.S.S. Sims

U.S.S. Helm Report

Other Ships at Coral Sea

The U.S.S. Sims (Neosho's Escort)

The U.S.S. Henley (Neosho's Rescuer)

The U.S.S. Helm (Rescued Life Raft)

Coral Sea Scrapbook

S.F. Examiner Article, July 10, 1942



President Bush's Speech at Pearl Harbor

Seattle Times:  Bill Leu at Pearl Harbor

Obituary of Captain John S. Phillips


U.S.S. Neosho Veteran's Forum


Sources & Further Information

The current page is shown in bold.