Invasion of Leyte
Warned on October 24 that Japanese surface ships were on the move, Fanshaw Bay flew off early the next morning all her aircraft to attack the enemy while the escort carriers retired from the threat of the Japanese surface ships, far faster, and with far greater fire power. Just 6 minutes after her planes were ordered away, she came under fire from the Japanese cruisers, and although a heavy rain squall shielded the escort carriers briefly, she soon began receiving hits. By 0855, when she took the third hit, she was under fire from two cruisers and two destroyers, later joined by a third destroyer whose torpedo attack she avoided. All through this battle, the American destroyers fought gallantly to protect their vulnerable charges, and at 0924 the Japanese battle line at last broke formation to avoid an air attack. In the Japanese destroyers' last attack, St. Lo (CVE-63) was torpedoed, and within the next hour enemy suicide planes appeared over head, one of which crashed Saint Lo, sending her to the bottom. Fanshaw Bay fired effectively in this attack, splashing, among others, a plane just about to crash Kitkun Bay (CVE-71). With her screen detached to rescue St. Lo's survivors, Fanshaw Bay shaped her course for Manus, unprotected, and throughout the day landed planes from her sunk or damaged sisters. In this Battle off Samar phase of the epic Battle for Leyte Gulf, Fanshaw Bay lost four men killed, and four wounded, but won enduring esteem and a Presidential Unit Citation for the distinguished role she played in this and other actions.