Task Force 44
|Task Force 44|
Task Force 44 (temporarily redesignated as Task Group 17.3) under Japanese air attack on May 7, 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea
|Active||April 22, 1942 – March 15, 1943|
|Branch|| Royal Australian Navy
United States Navy
|Role||Naval warship support|
|John Gregory Crace
John Augustine Collins
Task Force 44 was an Allied naval task force during the Pacific Campaign of World War II. The task force consisted of warships from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and United States Navy and was generally assigned as a striking force to defend northeast Australia and the surrounding area from any attacks by Axis forces, particularly from the Empire of Japan.
The task force was created on April 22, 1942 from the ANZAC Squadron as part of United States Army General Douglas MacArthur's South West Pacific Area (command). The unit's first commander was Royal Australian Navy Rear Admiral John Gregory Crace. From 13 June 1942 the task force was commanded Rear Admiral Victor A.C. Crutchley VC RN.
The unit saw action during the Battle of the Coral Sea, in which it helped turn back a Japanese attempt to invade Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The Force was temporarily redesignated Task Group 17.3 during the battle. The task force later, under Victor Crutchley, assisted with the initial stages of the Guadalcanal Campaign along with escorting of Allied convoys around the northeast Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Coral Sea areas. In August 1942, the unit participated in the Battle of Savo Island. The next month, the unit served with the US Navy Task Force 18, centered on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. On March 15, 1943 the organization was redesignated as Task Force 74 under the United States Seventh Fleet.
In mid-1944, Commodore John Augustine Collins was made commander of the Australian-US Navy Task Force 74, and commander of the Australian Naval Squadron, with HMAS Australia as his flagship. He became the first graduate of the RAN College to command a naval squadron in action, during the bombardment of Noemfoor, on 2 July 1944.
Commodore Collins was badly wounded in the first kamikaze attack in history, which hit Australia on 21 October 1944, in the lead up to the Battle of Leyte Gulf. He did not resume his command until July 1945. When the war ended Collins was the RAN's representative at the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay.
Ships of the Force
- Heavy Cruisers USS Chicago, HMAS Australia
- Light Cruiser HMAS Hobart
- Destroyers USS Perkins, Whipple, Farragut (from 7 May 1942), Walke (from 7 May), Henley from 14 May, Helm (from 19 May), Selfridge (from 21 May), Patterson (from ???)
- Gill, G. Hermon (1968). Volume II – Royal Australian Navy, 1942–1945. Australia in the War of 1939–1945, Series 2: Navy. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
- Willmott, H. P. (1983). The Barrier and the Javelin: Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies February to June 1942. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-535-3.