Category Archives: man card

8th & I Showing how it’s Done

Via Marine Barracks Washington, Marine Corps Ceremonial Marchers and Body Bearers standing tall: 

Marines of Marine Barracks Washington 8th & I weathered the snowstorm to honor a fallen brother on Monday, 3 January 2022. Retired Colonel Donald C. Morse was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Thank you for your service, sir. Fair winds and following seas.

(Photos by Gunnery Sgt. Donell Bryant/Marine Barracks Washington, 8th & I)

(Photos by Gunnery Sgt. Donell Bryant/Marine Barracks Washington, 8th & I)

(Photos by Gunnery Sgt. Donell Bryant/Marine Barracks Washington, 8th & I)

Notably, Col. Morse, 59, was former Commander, 2nd Tank Battalion.

The battalion-strength “Oldest Post of the Corps” traces its founding to 1801 and Lt. Col. William Ward Burrows, the second Commandant. Located on the corners of 8th & I Streets in southeast Washington, D.C., the Barracks supports both ceremonial and security missions in the nation’s capital.

Its current CO is Col. Teague A. Pastel (USNA ’96).

Its three primary units are Company A –comprised of 1st and 2nd Platoon, which are ceremonial marching platoons; the Silent Drill Platoon, and the Marine Corps Color Guard Platoon– Bravo Company— consisting of the Ceremonial Marchers of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Platoons along with the  Marine Body Bearers— and the Guard Company which stand post at Camp David and the White House.

The Barracks is also home to the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps as well as the Marine Band and is the site of the Home of the Commandants, which, along with the Barracks, is a registered national historic landmark.

Blue Ridge Smoke Break

77 Years Ago Today: Two riflemen from E Company, 1st Battalion, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division, take a moment to roll their own cigarettes in Goesdorf (Luxembourg), 10 January 1945. Left is SSG Abraham Aranoff, Boston, Mass., right is Private Henry W. Beyer of Grand Rapids, Michigan. These men had been fighting for 27 days straight, most of it during the German counter-offensive in the Ardennes known today as the Battle of the Bulge. They’d just been pulled out of the lines for a short, well-deserved break.

…At least the Sarge put the safety on his carbine before pointing it at his buddy. Also note the bullet holes on the wall behind them. Signal Corps image via Mads Madsen, Colorized History.

Nicknamed the “Blue Ridge” division as, when it was originally formed in the Great War, a majority of its troops hailed from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia, the 80th Infantry Division was reactivated in 1942 and arrived in Europe, where it landed on Utah Beach on 3 August 1944. It would then spend the next nine months pushing from France to the Ardennes and on through to Bavaria and into Austria.

The 80th ID helped liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp in April 1945 to provide relief to the 6th Armored Division, which had arrived the day before. Several weeks later, as the “Blue Ridge” Division pushed into Austria, it liberated Ebensee, a subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp, and is recognized as a Liberating Unit by the US Army’s Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The 80th suffered 17,087 battle casualties in WWII– however, both of the above GIs made it back home and lived long lives.

As noted by WW II Uncovered

After the war, Abraham Aranoff returned to New York and he and his wife Bertha started a family. He retired in West Palm Beach Florida. Abraham passed away on August 15, 2008 at the age of 96.

Henry W. Beyer enlisted with the US Army on May 1, 1944 in Grand Rapids Michigan. He was 25 years old. Henry was discharged from the Army on January 14, 1946. Henry and his wife Frances relocated to Columbus Ohio where he worked in retail sales. Henry passed away on February 28, 1998 at the age of 79.

Three Volleys for T/5 Lawrence Brooks

Lawrence Brooks, believed to be the country’s oldest World War II veteran, died yesterday at the age of 112.

Born in Louisiana and raised in Mississippi, he trained at Camp Shelby with the 91st Engineer Battalion, a unit that at the time was made up of 1,193 black enlisted and 25 white officers, then shipped out on the RMS Queen Mary in 1942 for Australia, where he spent the war in the Pacific alternating between that island continent and the Papua/New Guinea front, having to dive in foxholes at one point to avoid incoming Japanese strafing attacks.

After the war, he settled in New Orleans and worked a forklift for four decades, living in a shotgun house in Central City.

“I would like to be remembered as a strong man,” Brooks said in a 2021 interview. “A good Soldier.”

He will be buried in a reproduction WWII summer uniform he received in November to replace the remaining original kit he lost in Hurricane Katrina.

He is survived by five children, 13 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren.

Happy New Year, Gang

Offical caption, some 70 years ago this month: Missouri infantrymen with the 19th Infantry Regiment (24th Infantry Division) along the Kumsong front in Korea wish Happy New Year to the stateside folks.

Signal Corps Photo 111-SC-387519. National Archives Identifier: 531422

Here’s to 2022! As the man says, “Maybe this year will be better than the last.”

Jack Frost will Bite More Than Your Nose

Happy first day of winter!

“His Majesty the King inspects invasion troops, here, officers of the 5th Battalion (Caithness and Sutherland), Seaforth Highlanders during a snow storm at Gorhambury Park in Hertfordshire, February 29, 1944.”

IWM H 36241, by LT Cook, War Office official photographer.

For reference, the Seaforth’s 5th Battalion was formed as a Territorial unit after the loss of the 2nd and 4th Battalions along with the ill-fated 51st (Highland) Division, which was left behind to cover the evac at Dunkirk during the Fall of France. Nicknamed the “Highway Decorators,” it was part of the reconstituted 51st Division’s 152nd Brigade. In September 1944, the unit was distinguished, along with the 5th Camerons, as one of the leading Battalions on the assault at Le Harve, then was heavily involved in the liberation of Holland, where many of its members rest eternally.

All That was Left of Them

Via the National Army Museum, Study collection: 17th Lancers near Modderfontein farm, near Tarkastad, in what is today South Africa, 17 September 1901, during the Boer Wars. Known today as the Battle of Elands River, the skirmish involved a British cavalry squadron against a well-armed, albeit starving, Boer commando unit almost twice its size.

Chromolithograph after Richard Caton Woodville (1856-1927), 1901. Published by Gilbert Whitehead and Company Limited as a supplement to ‘Holly Leaves Christmas Number’, 1902. NAM. 1967-07-7-1

On 17 September the presence of a squadron of the 17th (The Duke of Cambridge’s Own) Lancers at Modderfontein farm, 25 km north-west of Johannesburg, was reported to General Jan Smuts, whose commando was starving and short of horses. Smuts ordered a section forward to locate the British cavalry, while he brought up the rest of his men. The advance section ran into a troop of the 17th Lancers which at first mistook the khaki-clad burghers for British troops from another column. When the Boers opened fire, bringing down several of the Lancers, the survivors withdrew to a low, stony ridge further down the road which was held by the rest of the squadron armed with rifles, a machine gun and a mountain gun.

At this point, Smuts arrived with the main body of his commando and attacked the Lancers from a hill to their rear. Close-quarter fighting developed in which the gun crew were killed; the rest of the squadron fought to the finish, though one troop, posted a little further away, was able to escape after expending all its ammunition, the last few rounds being used to shoot their horses to prevent them falling into the hands of the Boers. The total strength of the 17th Lancers engaged was 140, of whom four officers and 32 men were killed and four officers and 33 men wounded.

Smuts would go on to lead his commando for several more weeks in the Cape Colony, largely with the equipment and supplies captured from the British at Modderfontein.

As for the 17th, the regiment would fight in the Great War– earning 16 battle honours in France as both cavalry and infantry– but due to post-Irish independence drawdowns was amalgamated with the 21st Lancers to form the 17th/21st Lancers in 1922. Post-Cold War, the 17th/21st was further amalgamated with the 16th/5th Lancers to form the Queen’s Royal Lancers (QRL) in 1993, “The Death or Glory Boys.”

As part of the Army 2020 reforms intended to reduce the size of the British Army in line with the Strategic Defence and Security Review, it was announced that the 9th/12th Royal Lancers would amalgamate with the Queen’s Royal Lancers to form a single regiment, The Royal Lancers, in 2015, though still using the old “Death or Glory” badge of the 17th.

Modderfontein and all that.

Monkeying around

Every year on December 14th National Monkey Day “celebrates the unique characteristics of simians.”

With that:

Besides such nautical terms as the monkey yards and brass monkeys, obstacles such as the Monkey Cage, involvement with Space Monkeys, and tours spent at places such as Monkey Mountain in DaNang, the Navy and Marines have long had a track record of mascots of the simian variety.

USS DOLPHIN (PG-24) some of the ship’s officers, with a monkey mascot, circa 1889. NH 54538

U.S. Navy protected cruiser, USS Raleigh (C 8), Monkey Mascot. Detroit Publishing Company, 1890-1912. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

USS Connecticut (Battleship # 18) crew members with some of their mascots, during the World cruise of the Great White Fleet, circa 1908. Among the animals, present are birds, a pig, a bear cub, a monkey, goats, dogs and cats. NH 106201

USS Kittery (AK-2) Lieutenant Roger A. Nolan, USN (M.C.), on the left, and Ensign Charlie R. Steen, USN (MSC) onboard USS Kittery in the Virgin Islands, circa 1920. Note the monkey on Lieutenant Nolan’s shoulder. Ensign Steen was the father of this photograph’s donor. NH 77039

U.S. Marine and his monkey, – Corporal Thomas F. Burton is shown with Archie, a seven-month-old native of Peleliu. Burton soon to be discharged at Camp Pendleton, California, recently returned from the South Pacific with his pal, “Archie.” The veteran Marine will return to Bakersfield, California, with the pint-sized monkey, circa late 1945. 127-GC-49790

EN3 William M. Roberto, USN, of the Junk Force Station, Phu Quoc Station, Vietnam, is shown with the camp’s monkey on his head. Photographed by W. M. Powers, 18 March 1966. 428-GX-K31239

Little Groups of Marines with Switchblades

One of the most inspiring, and telling in my opinion, modern battles was the morning-long scrap between LT Keith Mills and 22 of his Royal Marines against an Argentine force on remote South Georgia Island. Ordered to give the Argies a “bloody nose,” on 3rd April 1982 his sub-platoon-sized unit did better than that.

Mills’ Marauders

Outfitted only with small arms and man-portable anti-tank weapons (an 84mm Carl G recoilless rifle and 66mm LAWs), they downed an Argentine helicopter and mauled ARA Guerrico, a corvette that came in to the harbor to support the invasion of the British territory.

ARA Guerrico, showing one of her two 84mm holes at her waterline. The other destroyed her Exocet launcher whilst a 66mm round wrecked the elevation mechanism on her main gun. She also had been raked by over 1,200 rounds of 7.62mm. Only the Carl Gustav misfiring prevented more hits.

A great, and lengthy, interview with Mills was filmed earlier this year, as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Falklands Islands War. :

Let’s talk about Loitering Munitions

U.S. Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, launch a [AeroVironment Switchblade] lethal miniature aerial missile system during an exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Sept. 2, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Forti)

Rapidly deployable loitering missile systems, designed as a “kamikaze” being able to crash into its target with an explosive warhead, are the “hot new thing.” However, as witnessed in the recent five-week Nagorno-Karabakh war, between Azerbaijan– supported by Syrian mercenaries and Turkey — and the so-called Republic of Artsakh together with Armenia (who had the low-key support of Moscow), they are a 21st Century game changer. In a nutshell, the Azerbaijanis claim to have smoked almost 400 high-value military vehicles– ranging from main battle tanks to SAM batteries– with such munitions, for zero lives traded.

The U.S. Army, Marines, and Naval Special Warfare Command have been experimenting with such systems over the past decade, such as the Switchblade shown above. The small (6-pound) Switchblade 300 and the larger 50-pound Switchblade 600 both use the same Ground Control Station (GCS) as other small UAVs in the military’s arsenal such as the Wasp, RQ-11 Raven, and RQ-20 Puma. Quiet, due to their electric motors, and capable of hitting a target with extreme accuracy out to 50 nm with a 100-knot closing speed in the case of the larger munition, they could easily target ship’s bridges or soft points with lots of flammable things such as hangars and small boat decks.

So where is this going?

As perfectly described by a panel consisting of CAPT Walker D. Mills, USMC, along with U.S. Navy LT Lieutenant Joseph Hanacek and LCDR Dylan Phillips-Levine in this month’s USNI Proceedings, possibly to a Pacific atoll near you. In short, while it is nice that the Marines are looking at long-range NMESIS coastal defense cruise missile (CDCM) systems, smaller munitions like Switchblade could prove an important tool when it comes to area denial in a littoral.

Introducing loitering munitions that the Marine Corps can use to strike warships creates combined-arms opportunities—a flight of loitering munitions autonomously launched from a small rocky outcropping could knock some of an enemy ship’s self-defense weapons offline, sending that ship home for repairs or setting conditions for a strike by larger CDCMs that deliver the coup de grace. Loitering munitions also can strike ships at close range—inside the minimum-engagement range for larger missiles. With smaller, cheaper, and more mobile loitering munitions, small units and teams operating as “stand-in forces” can contribute to sea denial and expand the threats the Marines pose to an enemy. The case for employing these weapons goes beyond speculation—loitering munitions have already been used with great effect in recent history and have proved their worth on the future battlefield.

More here.

Slow Salute to CAPT Dole and COL Shames

The “Greatest Generation” included over 16 million Americans who served during WWII in uniform. Today, the VA estimates that barely 300,000 of these Vets remain, a number that is growing smaller literally every day.

Case in point, over the weekend we lost esteemed Kansas lawmaker, and the man who charged at the windmill that was an incumbent Bill Clinton in 1996 at a time when the economy was peaking, Robert “Bob” Dole.

Dole, born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, interrupted his college studies at the University of Kansas to enlist in the Army, serving with the famed 10th Mountain Division in Italy where he was gravely wounded and initially left for dead on the battlefield. In postwar rehabilitation, he had to learn to write with his left hand after his right was left with limited mobility. He was medically discharged as a captain in 1947 and returned to his studies, eventually becoming a lawyer. 

Dole died Sunday, aged 98.

He was the last WWII Veteran to be nominated by any party for President. With that, check out his 2008 interview with the National WWII Museum about his service.

Edward Shames

The last surviving officer of the “Band of Brothers,” Edward D. Shames,  died at age 99 on Friday. Participating in some of the most critical WWII battles, Shames parachuted into Normandy during the Overlord as Operations Sergeant with I Company, 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 101st Airborne. Earning a battlefield commission for his actions on D-Day, he transferred shortly thereafter to Easy Company as leader of 3rd platoon and fought in Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge.

Notably, Shames, who was Jewish, was credited as being one of the first in Easy Company to enter Dachau to liberate the death camp in 1945.

As noted in his obit, “When Germany surrendered, Ed and his men of Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest where Ed managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac, a label indicating they were ‘for the Fuhrer’s use only.’ Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah.”

Postwar, he remained in the military and retired as a full colonel in the reserves in 1973, and worked for “No Such Agency” at Fort Meade until 1982.

Shames was played by actor Joseph May in Band of Brothers.

Shames is survived by his sons Douglas and Steven, four grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

A graveside service will be held at Forest Lawn Cemetery on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at 11 a.m. with Cantor David Proser officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in his honor (memory) may be sent to Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758516, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8516 and the American Veterans Center, 1100 N. Glebe Rd., Suite 910, Arlington, VA 22201. Online condolences may be offered here. 

Warship Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021: The Great White Fleet’s Beautiful Accidental Groupie

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021: The Great White Fleet’s Beautiful Accidental Groupie

Australian National Maritime Museum’s Samuel J. Hood Studio collection. Object no. 00034742

Here we see the Chilean Naval corbeta (corvette) General Baquedano departing Sydney, Australia in late July 1931. A throwback to another era, this steel-hulled single-screw steamer would have a career that spanned over a half-century.

The Chilean Navy in the 1890s found themselves in need of a new buque escuela, or school ship. The role up until then had been shared by the old 2,100-ton corvette Abtao and the battered 600-ton gunboat Pilcomayo, the first the British-built steamer CSS Texas which had never been delivered to the Confederacy and the second built for Peru in Blackwall then captured as a prize after a lopsided naval battle with the Chileans in 1879. Abato, by far, was in the better material condition but was still so worn that an 1884 tender for her sale was not awarded because the offers were so low, forcing the Chileans to keep her in service.

The new training corvette was be ordered in early 1897 as Yard # 675 from the Tyne shipbuilder of Armstrong, Whitworth & Co, Elswick where the first-class armored cruiser O’Higgins was also being built for the government of Chile at the time.

As Baquedano’s career would take her into Antarctic waters occasionally, her hull was made of steel, sheathed in copper, and lined with wood 3.5-inches thick up to three feet above the waterline. Some 240-feet overall, she displaced 2,300-tons. Her armament was Armstrong-made, consisting of four modern breechloading 4.7-inch QFs, assorted 12- and 6-pounders, two water-cooled Maxim machine guns, and a single above-deck torpedo tube for 18-inch Whitehead models, making her a decent little gunboat.

Baquedano with her original black hull as commissioned, is likely seen during speed trials. Via Tyne & Wear Museums

Rigged as a barque, she used Belleville boilers and had a capacity of 300 tons of coal and open stokeholds. Her twin six-crank T3cyl (30, 50 & 81.5 x 48ins) engines were constructed by R & W Hawthorn Leslie, Newcastle, and turned a single centerline screw, with a designed speed of 12 knots. From the below May 1900 edition of The Engineers Gazette, which has much more detail on her powerplant, the Chilean warship would clock 13.75 knots across six hours on her full power builder’s speed trials. Not bad for a barque.

The new corvette was named for the commander of the Chilean forces during the 1879-84 War of the Pacific, Manuel Jesús Baquedano González. Having learned his trade in the circa 1838 War of the Confederacy, the old general spent almost 50 years in uniform and is credited with reorganizing the Chilean military and promoting the formation of both the War Academy and the General Staff, institutions that survive today.

Baquedano and his warhorse Diamante (c. 1881), and in full uniform (c. 1881).

The strongman, who repeatedly turned down roles as Presidente, died in 1897 at age 74.

Career

General Baquedano (Chilean training ship, 1898) burning the dirtiest coal known to man, apparently. NH 49892

Delivered to the Government of Chile in the presence of the country’s charge d’affaires, Aurelio Bascuñán, on 22 August 1899, the new vessel arrived “home” in March 1900 under the command of Captain Ricardo Beaugency.

She left on her first Midshipman and Grumete (cabin boy) cruise just five weeks later, bound for points West Pac via Easter Island, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Honolulu, cycling the Pacific Rim to make calls at Yokohama, Nagasaki, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Batavia, and Sydney, returning to Valparaíso 10 months later in February 1901.

Baquedano would continue such long-reaching annual cruises into 1935– other than gaps from 1911 to 1917 due to economic reasons and the Great War and another during a 1922-26 refit– visiting over 100 ports on six continents.

Her 1903-1905 circumnavigation, for reference.

Baquedano in Chinese waters, 1904. She notably observed several aspects of the Russo-Japanese war firsthand. Repositorio Digital del Archivo y Biblioteca Histórica de la Armada

On her 1906-07 cruise, a delegation was received by Queen Alexandra at Portsmouth, hosted King of Spain Alfonso XIII and his wife Queen Victoria while calling at San Sebastián, circled the Med, and attended the Jamestown Exposition in Portsmouth.

“General Bocordona” one of a set of commemorative Jamestown Exposition souvenir postcards.

Notably, the armada of modern American battleships assembled in Hampton Roads for the exposition became Teddy Roosevelt’s famed Great White Fleet under RADM Robley Dunglison Evans, which toured the globe as evidence of the young nation’s international military might.

In 1908, Baquedano had the curious instance of running into the GWF “on the road” at least two more times, some 8,000 miles apart.

In mid-February, she embarked Chilean President Pedro Montt to review the visiting American warships in Valparaiso, with her Mids aloft and all her glad rags flying.

General Baquedano (Chilean Training Ship, 1899) manning her yards while moored at Valparaiso, Chile, in mid-February 1908, when the U.S. Great White Fleet steamed past the city. General Baquedano is dressed in flags and has Chilean President Pedro Montt embarked. The Chilean destroyer Capitan Thompson is astern. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 45327

General Baquedano (Chilean Training Ship, 1899) at Valparaiso, Chile, with Chilean President Pedro Montt on board, during the U.S. in mid-February 1908, when the U.S. Great White Fleet steamed past the city. General Baquedano is dressed in flags and her crew is manning her yards in honor of the occasion. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. NH 101484

Then, on 11 September 1908 at the small Western Australian port of Albany, she stood near the British Edgar-class cruiser HMS Gibraltar and the Princess Royal Fortress as USS Connecticut (Battleship No. 18), flagship of GWF commander RADM Charles S. Sperry, along with 14 other Yankee battleships dropped anchor at the outer anchorage of King George Sound. While Gibraltar was there on station, Baquedano under Captain Agustín Fontaine Calvo, had only arrived two days before to take on coal at the end of a six-month Pacific cruise.

“Great White Fleet” World Cruise. Six Atlantic Fleet battleships at Albany, Western Australia for coaling, circa mid-September 1908. The three ships with black hulls (one of which is directly alongside a battleship) are probably colliers. The white-hulled ship at the right is USS Glacier (Storeship, 1898-1922). Also present is a grey British cruiser, probably HMS Gibraltar. Baquedano is likely off-camera to the right with the other half of the GWF or had just left. Collection of Lieutenant Commander Richard Wainwright, 1928. NH 41678

After dutifully exchanging salutes and sending around the appropriate visiting teams for a couple of days, Baquedano would shove off for Talcahuano, arriving back in Chile on Christmas Eve 1908. Meanwhile, the GWF was bound for the East across the Indian Ocean, arriving at Suez, Egypt at roughly the same time. Of note, Teddy’s fleet traveled some 14,556 nautical miles around the world, making the fact that Baquedano met them both at the beginning and rough halfway point, some six months apart, remarkably interesting.

War!

Baquedano listed as a well-armed “surveying ship” in the 1914 Jane’s

During the Great War, the pro-German Chilean government showed a bit of favoritism to Von Spee’s German Pacific Squadron, allowing his ships to take on coal, use their wireless in territorial waters, and often overstay their 24-hour limits without being interned alongside a raft of German merchant vessels who were allowed to sit out the conflict at Valparaiso.

Valparaiso, Chile. November 1914. The German Navy Pacific Squadron at anchor in the harbor. Via Deutsche Reichsarchiv and AWM.

November 4, 1914. Valparaiso, Chile. The flagship of the German East Asia Squadron, armored cruiser Scharnhorst 3 days after the Battle of Coronel.

To be sure, though, the country also allowed the British and their allies to do much the same in the interest of neutrality.

Valparaiso, Chile, 26-27 December 1914. “German merchant ships interned in the Chilean port, as seen from the foredeck of HMAS Australia. This German colony was a base for naval staff and the supply of coal to German vessels. After searching in vain for enemy vessels on its way across the Pacific, the Australian flagship was taking the long route to Jamaica around South America, due to the closure of the Panama Canal to heavy traffic.” AWM EN0076

The Battle of Coronel was fought just off Chile’s coast and, after Von Spee was sent to the bottom of the South Atlantic in the Battle of the Falklands, the sole survivor of his squadron, the exhausted German cruiser SMS Dresden, took refuge in Chilean waters at Más a Tierra– where it was destroyed on 14 March 1915 as a Chilean gunboat stood by and protested via signal flags. 

The Chileans interned 315 survivors of Dresden’s crew, although some to include future Abwehr spymaster Wilhelm Canaris released themselves on their own recognizance and made it back to Germany during the conflict.

Corbeta general Baquedano, de la Armada de Chile, circa 1915. Via Chile al día. Tomo I.

Banquedano’s role in the war was limited, serving as a guardship for the interned German merchantmen and her sidelined crew aiding with a bit of muscle ashore as needed.

Late in the war, after the U.S. entered the conflict and, with traditional enemies Bolivia and Peru trying to curry favor with Washington, Chile seized the inactive German-owned nitrate plants in the country and began shipping caliche from the Atacama Desert to the allies.

In 1918, with the war confined at that point to Europe and the Middle East, Baquedano, under the command of Capitán de fragata Manuel Montalva Barrientos set off on her first training cruise since 1910. After visiting Honolulu, Yokohama, Kobe, Itsukushima, Moji, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Batavia, Melbourne, and Wellington, she returned to the port of Valparaíso after the Armistice. Importantly, she inspected Easter Island at least twice during this cruise, an island made important again during the war as the seized French trading schooner Lutece, captured at Mopelia Island by five shipwrecked crew members of the reefed German commerce raider Seeadler, had arrived there in October 1917 and been interned by the local Chilean authorities.

Interwar

Between December 1922 and March 1926, with her unique engines giving up the ghost, Baquedano was overhauled and received a new engineering suite as part of an extensive rebuild. Her armament was also modified, landing her elderly torpedo tube and some of her smaller mounts. 

Corbeta Baquedano Buque-escuela fondeado en el puerto de Antofagasta.

Her 10-month 1927 midshipman cruise spanned the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

Her 1928-29 cruise went even further, visiting throughout the Med and Baltic Seas before calling at Philadelphia and New York on the way back home.

Training ship, corvette General Baquedano crossing the Kiel canal, Germany, during her 1928-1929 instructional voyage. Note she now has an enclosed deckhouse. In this cruise, the frigate captain Julio Pinto Allard commanded the vessel. Repositorio Digital del Archivo y Biblioteca Histórica de la Armada

Her 1929-30 cruise swapped back to the Pacific, traveling as far up the coast as San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver.

Chilean training ship [at C.P.R. pier] [General Baquedano], 1929. Vancouver City Archives. AM1535-: CVA 99-2388

Taking on coal, 1929. Photo by Walter Frost. Vancouver City Archives. AM1506-S3-2-: CVA 447-2233.1

Her 1931 West Pac cruise was extensively cataloged when she called at Sydney’s East Circular Quay on 16 July 1931 and spent two weeks in the city. The visit apparently attracted a lot of local interest, and the daily activities of the Chileans were reported in the Sydney Morning Herald. This included playing a soccer match against members of the cruiser HMAS Canberra, presenting a wreath at the Martin Place Cenotaph— which had just been completed in 1926– and the crew displaying their rigging skills while aloft and open to receive visitors from the curious public.

Procession of Chilean sailors alongside their ship Corbeta general Baquedano, at East Circular Quay, 24 July 1931. The wreath is likely the one presented at the Martin Place cenotaph. Australian National Maritime Museum’s Samuel J. Hood Studio collection. Object no. 00034748

Working with a hardhat diver over the side and a manual compressor. Australian National Maritime Museum’s Samuel J. Hood Studio collection. Object no. 00034747

Cadets aloft showing off their skills. Australian National Maritime Museum’s Samuel J. Hood Studio collection. Object no. 00034750.

The epic young bluejacket pose. Australian National Maritime Museum’s Samuel J. Hood Studio collection. Object no. 00035047

Visitors of the best type when dockside in Sydney. Australian National Maritime Museum’s Samuel J. Hood Studio collection. Object no. 00034744

The time in Australia was among her last great overseas cruises, sticking closer to home for a few years save for trips to Easter Island. Even this ended after 1935 when it was decided the almost 40-year-old sailing ship would be of better use as a pierside trainer for the Arturo Prat Naval School and the Alejandro Navarrete Cisterna School of Grumetes. Her sailing was limited to day runs and coastal trips, almost always under power rather than sail.

WWII

Jane’s entry, 1946.

Chile, as in the Great War, was pro-German in 1939 and maintained Berlin-tilted neutrality for the first part of the conflict. The Chilean Navy in 1941 took over the interned F. Laeisz Hamburg’s four-masted steel-hulled barque Priwall, largely with a crew drawn from Baquedano and her service academies, and sailed her as the nitrate-carrying training ship Lautaro until the latter was lost by accidental fire at sea in 1945. By that stage of the war, Chile had cast her lot with the Allies, her Navy contributing to the defense of the Pacific end of the Panama Canal and patrolling from Easter Island.

By 1951, it was decided to replace the old corvette with a surplus and ideal schooner brig that was languishing on the builder’s ways in cash-strapped post-war Europe. Ordered originally for the Spanish Navy from Echevarria and Larrinaga shipyards of Cádiz in 1946 as Juan de Austria but never completed, the 3,750-ton school ship was baptized Esmeralda, delivered in June 1954, and arrived in Valparaíso on 1 September of that year.

Esmeralda (BE-43) was built in Spain and acquired by Chile in 1952. She made her first instructional cruise in 1955. Known as the La Dama Blanca (The White Lady), she is in active service today, although much less well-armed than Baquedano, carrying only saluting cannons and a small arms locker. Original photograph via the Armada de Chile.

With a new tall ship picking up the torch, Baquedano was decommissioned 5 June 1954– the same week Esmeralda was delivered– and sold for scrapping to the Pacific Steel Company in 1959.

Epilogue

Baquedano is remembered in period artwork, primarily postcards.

Chilean novelist and short fiction writer Francisco Coloane Cárdenas, part of Chile’s famed Generación del 38 art movement, although a Communist later in life, was born the son of a whaler skipper and served in the Chilean Navy as a quartermaster in the late 1920s and 30s. This included a stint on our subject school ship in 1933 that served as inspiration for his coming of age novel El último grumete de la Baquedano (The Last Cabin Boy of Baquedano).

Published in 1941, El último grumete de la Baquedano is considered a national treasure in Chile and is part of the compulsory reading list maintained by the country’s Ministry of Education.

In continuous publication for 80 years, the sailing novel was made into a movie of the same name in 1983, filmed aboard Esmeralda.

Three units of the Chilean Navy have been christened with Baquedano’s name besides our training corvette to include a brown water gunboat for the Amazon, a River-class frigate, formerly HMCS Glace Bay (K414), which served in the 1950s and 60s; and a Broad Beam Leander-class frigate, formerly HMS Ariadne (F72), which was active in the 1990s.

Baquedano’s name will surely sail again.

Specs:
Displacement: 2500 t
Length 240 ft
Draft 18 ft
Engines: 2 x T3cyl (30, 50 & 81.5 x 48ins) 1500ihp, 1 x Screw, (refitted in 1920s)
Speed: 12 knots practical, 13.75 on trials; also rigged as a Barque
Crew: 333 men, with 2/3rds of those cadets and boys
Armament: (As built)
4 x 4.7-inch QF
2 x 12pdr (3-inch)
2 x 6 pdr (57mm) guns
2 x machine guns
1 x 18-inch torpedo tube


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