A Naval Painting with a History

We always expect some kind of story behind every piece that comes in to be custom framed. Sometimes it's obvious--a family photo, a piece of art bought on a trip, a wedding invitation. Sometimes we are surprised to hear the story and how it relates to the customer. When customer James began to tell us the historical significance (and resulting personal family importance) of the scene depicted in the painting he brought with him, we knew we had to get the full story. We asked James to write down what he knew, and this is what he told us:


"This painting depicts a critical moment during the Battle off Samar during World War II. The Battle off Samar was part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in modern times. On October 25, 1944 a small group of thirteen US Navy ships called Taffy 3 were surprised by a larger and much more powerful armada of Japanese battleships, cruisers, & destroyers--including the largest battleship ever built, the Yamato--off the island of Samar in the Philippines. While hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, the American ships were the only defense between the Japanese armada and the helpless American troop transports & cargo ships delivering General Douglas MacArthur's 200,000 soldiers who were going to liberate the Philippines from Japanese.

"The American ship closest to the Japanese armada was the destroyer USS Johnston. Without waiting for orders, the Johnston's commander CDR Ernest Evans turned his ship and singlehandedly attacked the large Japanese armada. The painting shows the Johnston dodging fire from the Japanese ships as it charges alone at full speed, before launching its torpedoes. The torpedoes severely damaged the Japanese heavy cruiser Kumano, removing it from the battle along with another cruiser that stopped to aid the stricken ship.

"Although badly damaged by fire from Japanese battleships, which also wounded CDR Evans, the Johnston continued to fight, lending fire support to the other ships and later breaking up a Japanese torpedo run against the American ships. The Johnstonwas eventually disabled by Japanese fire, surrounded and sunk. Survivors from the Johnston, and three other American ships that were sunk, then had to last almost three days in shark-infested waters before they were found and rescued. Many perished, including CDR Evans, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor.

"But the outnumbered and outgunned American ships of Taffy 3, including the USS Johnston, fought so ferociously that the Japanese commander, Admiral Kurita, thought he must be fighting a much larger and more powerful fleet. He lost his nerve and decided to withdraw from the battle, which saved the American invasion force. The American troops went on to liberate the Philippines, including my parents who, at the time, were children of American servicemen living under Japanese occupation."

James and Kristen pose with the completed frame.

James and Kristen pose with the completed frame.

Thank you, James, for sharing your story with us! We were happy to fit this important painting with a stainless-steel frame to match the metal ships, and with preservation framing techniques, James and his family will have their picture hanging for many years still.