Category Archives: war

Happy 101st, Mr. Miskelly

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Southwest recently saluted the 101st birthday of a WWII-era Coastie, Lewis Miskelly Jr.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1922, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts prior to the conflict and volunteered for the Coast Guard just after Pearl Harbor. While not an official war artist, he painted what he saw while in Atlantic convoy duty on the Coast Guard Cutter Mojave (WPG-47), a 240-foot Tampa-class cutter.

Shown here is the ‘Tampa’ class gunboat type cutter USCG Mojave (WPG-47), 1942, operating amid ice floes off Greenland.

As noted by the USCG Historian’s Office during that period:

Mojave was assigned to the Greenland patrol in 1942, where she took part in convoy escort and rescue operations. While acting as escort for the slow group of Convoy SG–6 which had departed Sydney, Nova Scotia 25 August, she assisted in the rescue of 570 men from the torpedoed army transport Chatham. The escort and antisubmarine accomplishments of the cutters were truly vital to the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Miskelly’s paintings: 

And in the Pacific while on the the Coast Guard-manned General G. O. Squier-class troop transport USS General R. L. Howze (AP-134).

USS General R.L. Howze (AP-134) anchored off Manus Island, Marshall Islands, circa 1944-45.

Commissioned in early 1944, Howze completed 11 voyages to the combat areas of the Pacific, before returning to San Francisco 15 October 1945, carrying troops and supplies to New Guinea, Guadalcanal, Manus, Eniwetok, and “many other islands as the rising tide of the Navy’s amphibious offensive swept toward Japan.”

As for Miskelly, in a recent profile by The Press Democrat:

When he was 52, he learned how to surf. He cruised the waves of Pacifica and Santa Cruz until he was 85. He does tai chi everyday and still loves biking and driving his car.

For most of his life, he worked as a structural engineer and naval architect, which took he, his late wife June and four kids from Marconi to Petaluma in 1963. He worked until he was 75.

Thank you for your service, and your work, Mr. Miskelly.

Bookends, South East Asia

On 11 May 1961, President Kennedy approved sending 400 Special Forces troops and 100 other U.S. military advisers to South Vietnam, also authorizing the use of CIA cutouts to work from Vietnam into nearby Laos and North Vietnam.

Fast forward to this week and the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration is hosting a three-day “Welcome Home! A Nation Honors our Vietnam Veterans and their Families,” in Washington, D.C., marking the 50th anniversary of when the last combat troops left South Vietnam in 1973.

Of course, Saigon held out for another two years with lots of low-key U.S. support, but that darker anniversary won’t be until 2025.

Ukraine Drawdowns Top 200 Million Rounds of Small Arms Ammo

The Pentagon on Wednesday announced the latest security assistance package for Ukraine provided by the Biden Administration, including a lot more small arms ammunition, which is everything short of 12.7mm (.50 cal).

The latest package, valued at up to $300 million, marks the 37th White House-authorized drawdown from the Department of Defense’s equipment stockpiled for Ukraine since August 2021. Besides additional 155mm tube artillery and shells, assorted anti-armor weapon systems, HIMARS rockets, TOW missiles and mortar rounds, the latest transfer also transfers more “small arms and small arms ammunition” to Ukraine. 

With a total of over $36.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, a fact sheet provided by the Pentagon this week puts the running tally of small arms ammunition at “over” 200 million rounds. This is up from the 150 million rounds listed in a similar tally made public just six weeks ago. 

DOD officials in late November listed the cumulative amount of small arms ammo drawdown for Ukraine as 104 million rounds, a figure that has seemingly doubled in the past six months. 

Besides lots of 7.62 NATO for M240s transferred with light armored vehicles, Ukrainian regulars have increasingly been spotted with 5.56-caliber M4A1 Carbines and M16A4 rifles, complete with Trijicon ACOG optics and M203 40mm under-barrel grenade launchers, so you can bet a lot of the recently transferred stockpiles will be 5.56.

Soldiers of the Ukrainian Army’s 47th OMBr (separate mechanized brigade) “Magura” train with M16A4 rifles. The newly created unit is armed with much U.S.-supplied equipment including repainted M2A2 Bradley vehicles. (Photo: Ukraine Ministry of Defense)

In related news, with over 10,000 Javelin systems transferred to Ukraine, a figure that represents something like 13 years of standard production, this contract just hit DOD’s list yesterday (emphasis mine):

Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin JV, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a $1,024,355,817 cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for the Javelin Weapon System and associated support equipment. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of May 2, 2027. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-23-D-0014). (Awarded May 3, 2023)

The ceiling on the Javelin contract, running through 2027, is actually $7.2B, with a B, or almost the cost of five new Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

Those pesky censors

III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) Vietnam, 2 April 1968. Official caption: “Machinegunner on Hill 881 returning fire at a sniper after receiving heavy fire on resupply choppers.”

The image was taken during the brutal hill fights around Khe Sahn.

Marine Corps Photo A191080, Photog: Harlan. National Archives Identifier 26386425 127-GVB-88-A191080

On a closer look at the M60 gunner, his M1 helmet cover is scrawled with, “We are no children of America. We are headhunters.”

Needless to say, the image was not cleared for open publication. You had to be able to put the right spin on the war.

Chassis No. 542

Some 105 years ago today, after helping to break the British lines at Villers-Bretonneux, German A7V (Abteilung 7 Verkehrswesen) tank No. 542, better known as “Elfriede,” to the crew manning her, was overturned in harsh terrain and abandoned. This happened on 24 April 1918.

She was eventually captured and recovered

Elfriede was lost during the first recorded tank-vs-tank battle in history, where three A7Vs ((including 561, “Nixe,” and 506, “Mephisto“) faced off with three British Mark IVs (two female machine gun-armed tanks and one male with two 6-pounder guns).

Elfriede went on to become one of the most photographed of her type.

As detailed by Brooklyn Stereography:

A month later, a British unit managed to right the tank, which remarkably, was still in operational condition. After Armistice, Elfriede was put on display at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Two stereoviews of Elfriede wound up in A.O. Fasser‘s collection – though he had returned to America by the time these were taken:

Elfriede at the Place de la Concorde, sometime in late 1918 or early 1919. Stereoview on 6×13 cm glass diapositive from the Fasser Collection, courtesy of the Jordan/Ference Collection.

During its time on display, barricades were in place to prevent visitors from vandalizing Elfriede, taking souvenirs, etc. However, soon after, it was taken away and tested out. At this point it was covered in graffiti, as seen in a film taken by the French government to display the tank in motion. Its history between 1919 and 1940 is shaky – there is documentation in 1940 that mentions that it had been scrapped. But when was it scrapped? So far, no information on this is forthcoming. Most A7V tanks were scrapped in 1919 for their steel, and most historians believe that Elfriede was as well. But without documentation, it’s possible that the tank had some second life for another 21 years!

Only about 20 A7Vs were made and, while it appears that 18 of them were captured by the victorious Western allies, the only confirmed chassis remaining is, ironically, Elfriede’s old buddy from the Villers-Bretonneux tank scrap, Mephisto, which was captured by the 26th AIF Bn and is preserved in the Queensland Museum and dubbed by the Australian War Memorial, “The Rarest Tank in the World.”


Montevideo Maru, found

Class leader USS Salmon (SS-182) running speed trials in early 1938. Note the S1 designator. NH 69872

As covered in past Warship Wednesdays, the hard-charging Salmon-class fleet submarine USS Sturgeon (SS-187), under command of LCDR William Leslie “Bull” Wright (USNA 1925), a colorful six-foot-three cigar-chomping Texan, made a name for herself in the early days of the Pacific War. After an early attack on a Japanese ship just after Pearl Harbor, she flashed “Sturgeon no longer virgin!”

It was on her fourth patrol that she came across the 7,266-ton, twin-screw diesel motor vessel passenger ship MV Montevideo Maru which had been used by the Imperial Japanese Navy as a troop transport in the early days of the war, supporting the landings at Makassar in February 1942 and was part of the Japanese seizure of New Britain.

Via ONI 208J.

Sailing on 22 June unescorted for Hainan Island off China, Montevideo Maru ran into Sturgeon eight days later. Our submarine pumped four fish into the “big fella” in the predawn hours of 1 July, after a four-hour stalk, with young LT Chester William “Chet” Nimitz Jr. (yes, that Nimitz’s son) as the TDC officer.

Tragically, in what is now known as the “worst maritime disaster in Australian history,” Montevideo Maru was a “Hell Ship,” carrying more than 1,000 prisoners of the Japanese forces, including members of the Australian 2/22nd Battalion and No.1 Independent Company of the incredibly unlucky Lark Force which had been captured on New Britain.

All the prisoners on board died, locked below decks. Of note, more Australians died in the loss of the Montevideo Maru than in the country’s decade-long involvement in Vietnam.

Sturgeon, of course, was unaware that the ship was carrying Allied POWs and internees.

DANFS does not mention Montevideo Maru‘s cargo.

Four days later, Sturgeon damaged the Japanese oiler San Pedro Maru (7268 GRT) south of Luzon, then ended her 4th war patrol at Fremantle on 22 July.

Sturgeon earned ten battle stars for World War II service, with seven of her war patrols deemed successful enough for a Submarine Combat Insignia.

Bull Wright, who earned a Navy Cross for his first patrol, never commanded a submarine again– perhaps dogged over the Montevideo Maru, or perhaps because he was 40 years old when he left Sturgeon— and he retired quietly from the Navy after the war as a rear admiral. Although a number of WWII submarines and skippers with lower tonnage or fewer patrols/battle stars under their belt were profiled in the most excellent 1950s “Silent Service” documentary series, Bull Wright and Sturgeon were noticeably skipped.

Now, Montevideo Maru has been discovered in her resting place off the Philippines. An expedition team, led by Australian businessman, maritime history philanthropist, explorer, and director of not-for-profit Silentworld Foundation, John Mullen, found the hell ship’s wreck earlier this month.

The longest-serving GPMG

Spotted in Ukraine near Chernihiv on Christmas Day: the ever-lasting Pulemyot Maxima PM1910.

Note the timber has been cut out to accommodate the carriage and the 250-round belt at the ready in the can to the right. Machine guns in relatively sheltered fixed positions with interlocking fire are a source of real estate control all their own.

As noted by Denis Winter in his 2014 work, Death’s Men: Soldiers Of The Great War
On its tripod the machine gun became a nerveless weapon; the human factor of chattering teeth, dripping sweat, and feces in a man’s pants was eliminated. A terror-stricken man could fire his machine gun accurately even by night.

Set up in a sustained fire role with plenty of ammo, thickly greased moving internals, and water for the jacket, such a heavy machine gun can still be as effective in a strong point as it was in 1914– at least until the bunker catches a 125mm HE round from a T-72 or a lucky hit from an RPG or three.

Developed directly from the water-cooled Vickers (Maxim) 08 .303, the Russian-made variant by Pulitov had minor changes beyond its 7.62x54r chambering and sights graduated in arshins rather than yards (the latter something the Soviets would change to meters in the 1920s).


The 1910 Maxim going for a drag

Fitted with a unique sled/two-wheeled shielded cart to a design by one Mr. Sokolov and often seen with an enlarged “snow” or “tractor” cap to the radiator, for obvious reasons, in all the Tsar and Soviets would make more than 175,000 PM1910s through 1945, leaving little wonder that they still pop up from time to time.

Twin-linked Maxim guns, with red dot sight, Ukrainian Conflict.

It has far outlived all of its water-cooled “Emma Gee” contemporaries, the Lewis Gun, assorted Vickers models, the various German Spandaus, and the M1917, all of which had been retired since the 1960s, even from reserve and third-world use.

With that, Jonathan Ferguson over at the Royal Armouries walks you through a PM1910 they have in the collection.

Devil Gear, circa 1860s

While the Union Army during the Civil War numbered a whopping 2,213,000 individuals in service between the regulars, USCT, and myriad of state volunteer units taken on the roles, the peak strength of the U.S. Marine Corps during the conflict only hit 3,860 officers and men, making them one of the smallest units in Federal service– and their uniforms among the rarest today.

Washington, D.C. Six marines with rifles and fixed bayonets at the Navy Yard. LC-DIG-cwpb-04148

Assorted studio portraits of individual Civil War era U.S. Marines in the Liljenquist collection of the Library of Congress.

You’d never know their dress uniforms were brilliant blue with gold-yellow facings and epaulets from the existing photos.

The Horse Soldier, an upscale military antique store in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– which sold many of the above studio images to the LOC– has just an incredible find in their collection. 

On display (and for sale of course) at the shop. One of the rarest Civil War uniform groups. This Marine Corps uniform group belonged to Private John Hammond and includes his dress coat with epaulets, shako, fatigue cap, trousers, and rarest of the rare, his knapsack marked “USM.”

Hammond was a shoemaker who enlisted in the Marine Corps in Boston to serve four years on May 15, 1861, and served until discharge on August 24, 1865, at the barracks in Boston. His trousers have the marking of the frigate USS Santee, one of Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron’s most active ships, on the pocket.

Kiwis Exit, 50 Years ago

Via the National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand, the end of an era, 50 years ago today:

22nd December 1972, the NZ Army withdraws its troops from Vietnam. Today we acknowledge the service of the 3,400 New Zealanders who served in Vietnam during the war between June 1964 and December 1972. We honor the 37 personnel who died on active duty, the 187 who were wounded, some very seriously, and all those who have suffered long-term effects.

The Vietnam War was our longest and most contentious military experience of the twentieth century. Back home, the Vietnam War led to enormous political and public debate about New Zealand’s foreign policy and place in the world.

Note the kiwi tattoo

Note the mix of kit on these recce guys, including triple canteens, Boonie hats, M16A1s, and inch pattern L1A1 FALs

That M60, tho…

Warship Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022: A Multinational Effort

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. 21, 2022: A Multinational Effort

Photo via the Virginian-Pilot Archives

Above we see the Wickes-class tin can, USS Yarnall (Destroyer No. 143) gently aground in the shallows off Lynnhaven Roads, Virginia on 25 November 1939, while part of FDR’s Neutrality Patrol. Although she was a “war baby,” wholly constructed in 1918, she had joined the fleet too late for the First World War. However, don’t worry, she got in plenty of service under three different Allied flags in the Second.

The Wickes

Yarnall was one of the iconic first flight of “Four Piper” destroyers that were designed in 1915-16 with input from no less an authority as Captain (later Admiral) W.S. Sims. Beamy ships with a flush deck and a quartet of boilers (with a smokestack for each) were coupled to a pair of Parsons geared turbines to provide 35.3 knots designed speed– which is still considered fast today, more than a century later. The teeth of these 314-foot, 1250-ton greyhounds were four 4-inch/50 cal MK 9 guns and a full dozen 21-inch torpedo tubes.

They reportedly had short legs and were very wet, which made long-range operations a problem, but they gave a good account of themselves. Originally a class of 50 was authorized in 1916, but once the U.S. entered WWI in April 1917, this was soon increased and increased again to some 111 ships built by 1920.

USS Yarnall (DD-143): Booklet of General Plans – Inboard Profile / Outboard Profile, June 10, 1918, NARA NAID: 158704871

USS Yarnall (DD-143): Booklet of General Plans – Main Deck / 1st Platform Deck / S’ch L’t P’f’m, S’ch L’t Control P’f’m, Fire Control P’f’m Bridge, Galley Top, After Dk. House and 2nd Platform Deck. / June 10, 1918, Hold NARA NAID: 158704873

A close-up of her stern top-down view of plans shows the Wickes class’s primary armament– a dozen torpedo tubes in four turnstiles and stern depth charges.

Meet Yarnall

Our vessel was the first named in honor of naval hero John Joliffe Yarnall. Born in Virginia three years after the end of the Revolutionary War, he was appointed midshipman in the Navy on 11 January 1809. His chief claim to fame was as the first lieutenant on board Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship, USS Lawrence during the decisive Battle of Lake Erie in 1813, where he was grievously wounded. Sailing for the Mediterranean with Stephen Decatur in the frigate USS Guerriere in 1815, Mr. Yarnell was again seriously injured in the fight to capture the Barbary corsair flagship Meshuda. Sent back to the States with dispatches, a copy of the new treaty with the Dey of Algiers, and some captured flags aboard the sloop-of-war USS Epervier— itself captured from the British– Yarnall, Epervier, and the 134 sailors and marines aboard her were never heard from again, vanishing somewhere in the Atlantic in August 1815.

Besides our destroyer, Yarnall, a hero of the Battle of Lake Erie who later disappeared mysteriously at sea, was commemorated at Pennsylvania State University’s Yarnall Hall in 1987.

The first Yarnall (Destroyer No. 143) was laid down on 12 February 1918 at William Cramp & Sons at Philadelphia, launched later that spring, and commissioned on 29 November 1918, CDR William F. Halsey, Jr., in command.

Yup, that Halsey.

As noted in Halsey’s Navy biography:

Dispatched to France in 1919, USS Yarnall would soon be transferred to DesRon 4 in the Pacific Fleet and the Asiatic station where she would serve briefly until laid up on 29 May 1922, as part of the great post-WWI drawdown.

USS Yarnall (Destroyer # 143, later DD-143) steaming in column with other destroyers, circa 1919-1922. NH 41902

During the Pacific Fleet’s passage through the Panama Canal, on 24 July 1919. Those present are: USS Wickes (Destroyer # 75) and USS Yarnall (Destroyer # 143), both at left; USS Philip (Destroyer # 76), USS Buchanan (Destroyer # 131), and USS Elliot (Destroyer # 146), left to right in the center group; USS Boggs (Destroyer # 136), USS Dent (Destroyer # 116) and USS Waters (Destroyer # 115), left to right in the right center group. NH 57141

USS Yarnall (DD-143) passing through Gaillard Cut, Panama Canal, 24 July 1919.

Destroyers refitting at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, circa 1921-22. Many of these ships are being modified to place the after 4″/50 gun atop an enlarged after deckhouse. Ships present include (listed from the foreground): USS Lamberton (DD-119); unidentified destroyer; USS Breese (DD-122); USS Radford (DD-120); unidentified destroyer; USS Elliot (DD-146); USS Tarbell (DD-142); USS Yarnall (DD-143); USS Delphy (DD-261); USS McFarland (DD-237); USS Litchfield (DD-336); USS Kennison (DD-138); USS Lea (DD-118); and two unidentified destroyers. Collection of Rear Admiral Ammen Farenholt, USN (MC). NHHC Photo.

In the 1931 edition of Jane’s, Yarnall was one of 186 “First Line Destroyers” listed in the same entry under the American Navy, spanning the massive Wickes and Clemson-class “flush-deckers”, “four-stackers” or “four-pipers”

Recommissioned at San Diego on 19 April 1930 after eight years of mothballs, Yarnall would bounce back and forth between the Atlantic and Pacific several times, homeported alternatively at Charleston and San Diego.

USS Yarnell close passing, 1930s

USS Tarbell (DD-142), an outboard ship, and USS Yarnall (DD-143), just inboard of Tarbell with two other destroyers, alongside a tender during the 1930s. Donation of BMGC Ralph E. Turpin, USNRF, 1963. NH 41912

USS Yarnall (DD-143) and USS Tarbell (DD-142) Tied up together alongside a pier, during the 1930s. NH 47195

Officers and crew of USS Yarnall (DD-143), circa 1935-1936. During this period, the ship was commanded by LCDR Frederick Sears Conner then LCDR George William Johnson, with at least one of these likely in the photo. CPO Allen L. Eads Collection, with Eads likely in the photo. NHHC S-551

On 30 December 1936, Yarnall was again placed out of commission for a second time and joined the reserve fleet at Philadelphia.

Then came war

Recommissioned at Philadelphia on 4 October 1939– a month after Hitler crossed into Poland– the aging greyhound joined the Atlantic Fleet’s DesRon 11 and would operate out of Norfolk on the Neutrality Patrol for a year. By that time, Britain was holding its own against the Germans and Italians alone and in desperate need of every sort of war material– especially naval escorts to safeguard vital convoys against the U-boat menace.

Trading Ensigns

With Europe again at war, on 2 September 1940, FDR signed the so-called Destroyers for Bases Agreement that saw a mix of 50 (mostly mothballed) Caldwell (3), Wickes (27), and Clemson (20)-class destroyers transferred to the Royal Navy in exchange for limited basing rights on nine British overseas possessions.

Transfer of U.S. destroyers to the Royal Navy in Halifax, Sept 1940. Wickes-class destroyers USS Buchanan (DD-131), USS Crowninshield (DD-134), and USS Abel P. Upshur (DD-193) in the background. The sailors are examining a 4-inch /50 deck gun. Twenty-three Wickes-class destroyers were transferred to the RN, along with four to the RCN, in 1940 under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199286)

For Yarnell, this meant she would be decommissioned at St. John’s, Newfoundland on 23 October 1940, then taken into service with the Royal Navy as HMS Lincoln (G42) on the same day in a warm transfer.

HMS Lincoln G42 in Arctic convoy duty

Dubbed the “Town class” by the Admiralty even though the 50 vessels spanned three distinct classes, ex-Yarnall had been renamed in honor of the county town of Lincolnshire, England, the second such vessel to carry that name for the Royal Navy, previously only used on a 50-gun fourth rate launched in 1695.

Shipped to Plymouth in November for modifications at HM Devonport to operate with the Brits and to pick up a mostly Australian crew, Lincoln/Yarnall was nominated for service with the 1st Escort Group for convoy defense in Western Approaches, with her first mission involving the hunt for the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer after the attack on convoy HX 84. Over the next nine months, she would participate in no less than 20 convoys.

It was in April 1941 that Lincoln came to the rescue of a converted 15,000-ton passenger steamer, turned auxiliary cruiser, filled with more than 400 souls. The former P. & O. liner Comorin (Capt. John Ignatius Hallett, DSO, RN (retired)) caught fire in heavy weather in the North Atlantic and had to be abandoned. Closing in with two other tin cans, Lincoln helped pull off her passengers and crew, then stood by to sink the blazing steamer with her 4-inch guns.

6 April 1941. HMS Comorin (F49) on fire viewed from the British Destroyer HMS Lincoln. Originally a passenger ship of the P&O Steam Navigation Co Ltd, the Comorin was requisitioned by the Admiralty in September 1939 and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. The vessel was part of the Freetown Escort Force when she caught fire in the North Atlantic. The fire could not be controlled, and survivors were taken off by HMS Glenartney, HMS Lincoln, and HMS Broke. The wreck was shelled and sunk the next day by the Lincoln. Photo by Ordinary Seaman (OS) Raymond Frank Spratt. AWM P06165.019

6 April 1941. Survivors from HM Comorin pull alongside the British Destroyer HMS Lincoln. Photo by Ordinary Seaman (OS) Raymond Frank Spratt. AWM P06165.020

6 April 1941. Lincoln getting close enough to throw a line to the blazing auxiliary cruiser HM Comorin to take aboard survivors. Note one of Comorin’s seven BL 6-inch Mark VII guns, forward. Photo by Ordinary Seaman (OS) Raymond Frank Spratt. AWM P06165.018


Under refit in January-February 1942, it was decided to transfer Lincoln on loan to the “Free Norwegian” Navy forces in exile.

The Scandinavian neutral had managed to sit precariously on the fence in the Great War and indeed was a peaceful country that had last seen the elephant during the Napoleonic Wars, skirmishing at first with the British and then the Swedes for independence. With some 130 years of peace behind it, the Norwegian Navy in April 1940 was again an armed neutral, ready to take on all comers to preserve the homeland. Then came the invasion.

German cruiser Blücher in Drøbak Sound, April 1940 outside of the Norwegian capital Oslo

Two months of tough resistance against German invaders while reluctantly accepting Allied intervention left the Norwegian Navy covered in glory (such as when the tiny 200-ton gunboat KNM Pol III stood alone– briefly– against the mighty heavy cruiser Blücher, the heavy cruiser Lützow, the light cruiser Emden, three torpedo boats and eight minesweepers carrying 2,000 troops to Oslo, or when the ancient and nearly condemned coastal monitors KNM Eidsvold and Norge attempted to stop the Germans at Narvik), but was largely left sunk at the bottom of the fjords they defended.

When the endgame came, a dozen or so small ships and 500 officers and men made it to British waters to carry on the war. These included such Edwardian relics as the destroyer Draug (commissioned in 1908!) and the newer Sleipner, as well as fishery patrol ships such as the Nordkapp, which all soon got to work for the Allies, guarding sea lanes, escorting convoys and protecting the UK and Allied-occupied Iceland from potential Axis invasion.

The mighty KNM Draug, with lines that look right out of the Spanish-American War. MMU.945456

With the small core of exiled prewar Norwegian sailors, an influx of Norwegians living abroad, and transfers from the country’s huge merchant fleet, the exiled Free Norwegian Navy was able to rebuild abroad.

“Norway Fights On” USA, 1942

Soon, the old Draug was in full-time use as a training and support vessel while small trawlers and whalers provided yeoman service as the “Shetland Bus” regularly shuttling spies, SOE operatives, and Norwegian resistance agents into occupied Scandinavia and downed Allied aircrew out throughout some 200 trips.

As these operations expanded, the Brits began transferring surplus (five ex-Wickes-class tin cans) and then new-built naval vessels (Flower and Castle-class corvettes, motor torpedo boats, Hunt-class destroyer escorts, and later two S-class destroyers) to the growing Norwegian fleet to perform convoy escort missions.

That’s where Yarnall/Lincoln comes in.

Jaegern Lincoln, Town Klassen, via Forsvarets museer. Note Norwegian pennant

Jaegern Lincoln, Town Klassen, stern 4 inch gun via Forsvarets museer MMU.942842

Jaegeren Lincoln, Town Klassen via Forsvarets museer. Note embarked British admiral flag

With her new Norwegian crew aboard, but under the same British-assigned name and pennant number albeit with a Norwegian royal prefix, the destroyer HNorMS Lincoln (jageren in Norwegian parlance) was nominated for convoy defense in the eastern Atlantic under Royal Canadian Navy control and would set out for Halifax to join the Western Local Escort Force.

Over the next two years, the American-built destroyer, with her Norwegian exile crew, as part of the British fleet under Canadian control, would take part in no less than 58 convoys.

“Free Norwegian” destroyer HNorMS Lincoln (G42), underway off Charleston, South Carolina flying the Norwegian ensign, circa March 1942-Dec 1943. IWM FL 3271

A further refit in Charleston in July 1943– one of her old homeports during her USN years– Lincoln would pick up a new-fangled Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar and an improved radar outfit.

Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum have the collection of the old Charleston Naval Shipyard in their archives and they have several “finished” photos, dated 20 March 1943, of HMS/HNorMS Lincoln (USS Yarnall).

Going East

Arriving back at Portsmouth in December 1943, it was decided that the old girl was too worn out even for the Norwegian exiles– who were receiving new British-built S-class destroyers just in time for D-Day— and Lincoln was placed in reserve in the Tyne River and later nominated for transfer to the Soviets, who would take anything they could get. Thus, she became Druzhnyy (“Friendly”) in the Red Banner Fleet, turned over on 26 August 1944 after her new Soviet crew had arrived aboard the laid-up vessel the month prior.

Эскадренный миноносец Дружный (019) in Soviet service

She was joined in this 1944 transfer by four other bases-for-destroyers Wickes-class sisterships: USS Fairfax (HMS Richmond, later Soviet Zhivuchiy: “Tenacious”), USS Twiggs (HMS Leamington, later Soviet Zhguchiy: “Firebrand”), USS Maddox (HMS/HMCS Georgetown, later Soviet Zhyostky: “Rigid”), and USS Crowninshield (HMS Chelsea, later Soviet Derzkiy: “Ardent”) in addition to at least four Clemson class vessels.

Druzhnyy was scheduled for passage to Kola Inlet as part of outbound Russia Convoy JW60 in September 1944 and arrived at her new home on the 23rd. She would end her wartime service by patrolling the Arctic, Barents, and the White Sea.

This meant that Yarnall was one of the final Wickes-class destroyers still in active service, only repatriated to Rosyth and returned to Royal Navy control on 24 August 1952. She was then placed on the Disposal List, and within a month had been towed to Inverkeithing for scrapping.

In all, Yarnall would see some 12 commanders running from Halsey to LCDR John Greeley Winn including future RADM Thomas Ross Cooley– a surface warrior who would head Battleship Division 6 during Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Her HMS Lincoln days would add two Brits, CDR Alan MacGregor Sheffield, and LT Ronald John Hanson, while HNorMS Lincoln would see three Norwegians: Kapt. Aimar Sørensen, Ltn. Helge Øi, and Kapt.ltn. Chr. Monsen, giving her a total of 17 skippers– not counting the Russians!

Of note, Sørensen would go on to do big things with the Cold War NATO Norwegian Navy, retiring as a Viseadmiral in a CNO role in 1967.


Today no Wickes-class tin cans survive. The last one afloat, USS Maddox (DD–168), was scrapped in late 1952 after serving in the US, then RN, then Canadian, then Soviet navies.

However, one of the class, USS Walker (DD-163), has been given new life in the excellent alternate history series Destroyermen written by Taylor Anderson.

Yarnall’s original 1918 plans booklet, printed on linen, is preserved in the National Archives. Odds are, Halsey spent time pouring over them during the vessel’s outfitting.

Yarnall’s name was carried by a second U.S. Navy warship, a Fletcher-class destroyer, DD-541. Laid down some 80 years ago this month at Bethlehem Steel’s San Francisco yard, she was commissioned on 30 December 1943 and was soon off to fight the Empire of Japan. Between then and 1958 when she was laid up, Yarnall (DD-541) earned seven battle stars for her World War II service and two battle stars for her service during the Korean War.

USS Yarnall (DD-541) hauls away to starboard after “topping off” from the oiler USS Manatee (AO-58), during replenishment operations off Korea, circa August 1951. USS Leonard F. Mason (DD-852) is approaching from the astern to fill her bunkers next. The Essex-class carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), her deck filled with dark blue F4U Corsairs, is refueling on the oiler’s opposite side. NH 97348.

Loaned to the Republic of China in 1968 and eventually transferred, the latter Yarnall continued to serve the Taiwanese Navy until at least 1999, one of the last Fletchers still in service anywhere in the world.

The more things change, right?


1,710 long tons (1,740 t) (standard)
2,530 long tons (2,570 t) (deep load)
Length: 362 ft 9 in (o/a)
Beam: 35 ft 9 in
Draught: 14 ft 6 in (deep)
Installed power:
40,000 shp (30,000 kW)
2 × Admiralty 3-drum boilers
Propulsion: 2 × shafts; 2 × Parsons geared steam turbines
Speed: 36 knots
Range: 4,675 nmi at 20 knots
Sensors: (Royal Navy WWII fit)
Radar Type 290 air warning
Radar Type 285 ranging & bearing

4 × single 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mark XII dual-purpose guns
1 × twin Bofors 40 mm AA guns
4 × twin QF 20 mm Oerlikon AA guns
2 × quadruple 21-inch torpedo tubes
4 × throwers and 2 × racks for 70 depth charges

Ships are more than steel
and wood
And heart of burning coal,
For those who sail upon
them know
That some ships have a

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