April Fools, Pearl Harbor edition, 74 years on
Here we see crewmen on watch on a 40mm quad Bofors gun mount while their ship was supporting the invasion of Okinawa, 1 April 1945, some 74 years ago today.
Their vessel: the Colorado-class battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48).
Commissioned in 1923, WV was transferred to the Pacific Fleet on the eve of WWII and was on Battleship Row on December 7, 1941, catching seven Type 91 aerial torpedoes and two Type 99 No. 80 Mk 5 bombs in the Japanese attack. Tragically, she lost 106 men that day, with some still trapped aboard heard still hammering away inside her hull an amazing 16 days after the attack.
Raised, she was repaired and modernized, her crew reformed from fresh recruits and salty veterans. Rejoining the war with a fresh purpose on 14 September 1944, she left Pearl Harbor heading West. Over the course of the following year, she earned five battle stars, proving that reports of her destruction were very much inaccurate.
Five musicians from her band were later temporarily transferred to USS Missouri to play at the surrender ceremonies in Tokyo Bay the following September.