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Warship Wednesday, May 24, 2017: The leopard of rum row turned magic-eyed U-boat buster

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time 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, May 24, 2017: The leopard of rum row turned magic-eyed U-boat buster

Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1972. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 76377

Here we see the Clemson-class “four-piper” flush-decker destroyer USS Hunt (DD-194) at anchor in New York Harbor when new, circa 1920. One of a tremendous class of vessels some 156-strong, she had a long and varied career.

An expansion of the Wickes-class destroyers with a third more fuel capacity to enable them to escort a convoy across the Atlantic without refueling, the Clemsons were needed to combat the pressing German submarine threat of the Great War. At 1,200-tons and with a top speed of 35 knots, they were brisk. Another thing they were was built too late for the war.

The hero of our story, USS Hunt, was laid down at Newport News 10 weeks before Armistice Day, named in honor of William Henry Hunt, Secretary of the Navy under President Garfield. Peace delayed her completion until 30 September 1920 when the above image was taken.

After shakedown, Hunt participated in training and readiness exercises with the Atlantic Fleet and conducted torpedo trials on the range out of Newport, R.I. before moving to Charleston.

With the looming idea of naval limitations treaties, the USN rapidly scrapped 40 of their new Clemsons (those built with British style Yarrow boilers) and put whole squadrons of these low mileage vessels in ordinary. One, USS Moody (DD-277) was even sold to MGM for making the film “Hell Below” where she was used as German destroyer and blown up during filming!

Our Hunt decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard 11 August 1922, with only 23 months of gentle Naval service under her belt.

While the Hunt was sitting in Philly, a funny thing happened. The country got sober. Well, kind of.

As deftly retold in a paper by the USCG Historians Office, the service, then part of the Treasury Department, was hard-pressed to chase down fast bootlegging boats shagging out to “Rum Row” where British and Canadian merchants rested in safe water on the 3-mile limit loaded with cases of good whiskey and rum for sale.

This led the agency to borrow 31 relatively new destroyers from the Navy, an act that would have been akin to the USN transferring most of the FFG7 frigates to the Coast Guard during the “cocaine cowboy” days of the 1980s.

USCGD Ammen (CG-8) in pursuit of a rumrunner

U.S. Coast Guard destroyers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 1926, note the “CG” hull numbers

From the USCG Historian:

In the end, the rehabilitation of the vessels became a saga in itself because of the exceedingly poor condition of many of these war-weary ships. In many instances, it took nearly a year to bring the vessels up to seaworthiness. Additionally, these were by far the largest and most sophisticated vessels ever operated by the service and trained personnel were nearly nonexistent. As a result, Congress authorized hundreds of new enlistees. It was these inexperienced men that made up the destroyer crews and contributed to the service’s greatest growth prior to World War II.

A total of 31 destroyers served with the Coast Guard’s Destroyer Force. These included three different classes, the 742-ton “flivver-class,” “1,000-ton class”, and the 1,190-ton “Clemson-class” flush-deckers. Capable of over 25 knots, the destroyers had an advantage in chasing large rumrunners. They were, however, easily outmaneuvered by smaller vessels. The destroyers’ mission, therefore, was to picket the larger supply ships (“mother ships”) and prevent them from off-loading their cargo onto smaller, speedier contact boats that ran the liquor into shore.

Hunt was one of the last tin cans loaned to the service.

She only served three years with the Coasties, transferring 5 Feb 1931 and placed in commission at Philadelphia Navy Yard, then deploying to Stapleton, NY where she became the flag for the Special Patrol Force there.

Coast Guard Historian’s office

While chasing down rum boats along the New York coastline, she apparently had a very serious mascot:

On 6 Jan 1933, she was transferred to Division II, Coast Guard Destroyer Force, and, along with other Treasury Department-loaned tin cans, supported the Navy on the Cuban Expedition based out of Key West for several months as the country watched how the troubles down there were going on.

Hunt arrived back at Stapleton 9 November 1933 and, with the Volstead Act repealed, was decommissioned from USCG service 28 May 1934 and returned to the Navy, who promptly sent her back to red lead row.

There she sat once more until the country needed her.

On 26 January 1940, she once again was taken out of mothballs and brought to life by a fresh crew as the Navy needed ships for the new neutrality patrol in the initial stages of WWII. Shipping for the Caribbean, she escorted the USS Searaven (SS-196), a Sargo-class submarine, from the Canal Zone to Florida then performed training tasks in the Chesapeake.

Once again, her service with the Navy was brief.

Hunt got underway from Newport 3 October 1940, and reached Halifax, Nova Scotia two days later, where she took on 103 British sailors and, three days after that, she decommissioned from the U.S. Navy, was struck from the Naval List, and taken up by the Royal Navy as the Town-class destroyer HMS Broadway (H80) as part of the infamous “Destroyers for Bases Agreement” between the two countries.

(For the six-page original 1940 press release, see this page at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Collections)

As noted by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason’s service histories, “Broadway” had not previously been used for any RN ship but did represent both a city in the UK and one in the U.S.

Changes to her by the Brits included removal of mainmast and shortening of the foremast, trimming the after funnels and replacing the 3in and 4in guns mounted aft with a 12pdr British HA gun in X position. The aft torpedo tubes were also jettisoned and the U.S style depth charges were replaced with British ones.

THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939-1945 (A 8291) British Forces: HMS BROADWAY, a destroyer built in 1918. BROADWAY was one of the fifty American destroyers loaned to Britain in September 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125169

She also picked up an “Evil Eye” or “Magic Eye” on her bow, painted by her crew to ward off bad spirits.

The huge ‘Magic Eye’ on the bows of the BROADWAY as she leaves on another trip. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205152830

Joining 11th Escort Group, she had an eventful career in the Atlantic, joining in no less than 29 convoys between and 10 December 1940 and 21 June 1943– a span of just 18 months!

During this time, she directly helped shorten the war on 9 May 1941 when assisting the destroyer HMS Bulldog and corvette HMS Aubretia, she captured German submarine U-110 between Iceland and Greenland. The Type IXB U-boat provided several secret cipher documents to the British as part of Operation Primrose and was one of the biggest intel coups of the war, helping to break the German Enigma codes.

She also helped chalk up a second German torpedo slinger when on 12 May 1943 she joined frigate HMS Lagan and aircraft from escort carrier HMS Biter in destroying U-89 off the Azores.

SUB LIEUT ROY A GENTLES, RCNVR, OFFICER ON LOAN TO THE ROYAL NAVY, WHO WAS FIRST LIEUTENANT ON BOARD HMS BROADWAY IN THE SUCCESSFUL ANTI-U-BOAT ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC.  (A 17288) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205150178

Hunt/Broadway, showing her age, was relegated to training duties by 1944 in Scotland, where she was a target ship for non-destructive bombing and practice strafing runs by new pilots. For this much of her armament to include her radar, anti-submarine mortar, torpedo tubes, and HF D/F outfit was removed.

The destroyer HMS Broadway off the East coast of Scotland April 1944 after becoming an Air Target Ship (Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120270

She did get one last hurrah in at the end of the war, sailing for Norwegian waters where she performed occupation duties that included taking charge of several surrendered German U-boats in Narvik and Tromso as part of Operation Deadlight.

Hunt/Broadway, who served more in the Royal Navy than she ever did in the naval service of her homeland, was paid off 9 August 1945 and placed in an unmaintained reserve status. She was eventually sold to BISCO on 18th February 1947 for demolition by Metal Industries and towed to the breaker’s yard in Charlestown near Rosyth in 1948.

As for her sisters, seven Clemson‘s were lost at the disaster at Honda Point in 1923, 18 (including six used by the British) were lost in WWII including one, USS Stewart (DD-224), which was famously raised by the Japanese and used in their Navy.

From what I can tell the last one in U.S. Navy service was USS Semmes (DD-189/AG-24), like Hunt a former Coast Guard destroyer, stricken in November 1946 after spending the war testing experimental equipment at the Sonar School in New London.

The last of the 156 Clemsons still afloat, USS Welborn C. Wood (DD-195), also a former Coast Guard destroyer, became HMS Chesterfield on 9 September 1940. She was allocated for scrapping on 3 December 1948. None of the class were retained and few relics of them exist today.

However, the codebooks and Enigma machine that Hunt/Broadway helped capture from U-110 are on display at Bletchley Park.

And the event is recorded in maritime art.

The Capture of U-110 by the Royal Navy, 9 May 1941 (2002) by K W Radcliffe via the Merseyside Maritime Museum

Specs:

Displacement:
1,215 tons (normal)
1,308 tons (full load)
Length:     314 ft. 4.5 in
Beam:     30 ft. 11.5 in
Draft:     9 ft. 4 in
Propulsion:
4 × boilers, 300 psi (2,100 kPa) saturated steam
2 geared steam turbines
27,600 hp (20,600 kW)
2 shafts
Speed:     35.5 knots (65.7 km/h)
Range:  4,900 nmi (9,100 km) @ 15 kn (28 km/h)
Crew: (USN as commissioned)
8 officers
8 chief petty officers
106 enlisted
Armament:
(1919)
5-4″/50 guns
12 × 21 inch torpedo tubes (4 × 3) (533 mm)

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday, May 17, 2017: De Gaulle’s lightning bolt

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time 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, May 17, 2017: De Gaulle’s lightning bolt

Office of Naval Intelligence. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 86560

Here we see the very speedy Le Fantasque/Malin class contre-torpilleur (torpedo boat destroyer) Le Triomphant (X83) of the French Navy underway during exercises in the Atlantic, June 1939, as photographed from an observation plane likely from the carrier Bearn. The outsized craft would manage to escape the Germans, snatch hundreds of civilians from the New Hebrides just before a Japanese occupation, battle a Pacific cyclone and secure the surrender of a corps-sized force in Indochina– all before her 10th birthday. That’s living in the fast lane!

Built to keep up with new classes of fast French cruisers and battleships capable of chasing down the Italians, the 3,500-ton/434-foot Le Fantasque-class were supersized when it came to destroyers of the time– for the purpose of fitting four oil-fired boilers and two huge 37,000shp geared turbines (giving them 74,000 shp– roughly comparable to a Spruance-class destroyer of the 1970s which weighed about twice as much) in their hulls. This allowed the class to hit 45.03-knots on trials, a still very respectable speed for any warship today, especially one that is non-nuclear. If they lit half their boilers and poked around at 14 knots, they could still cover 3,000 nm, which was deemed sufficient for ops in the Mediterranean, their most likely theater of employment.

Armament was decent, with five 138.6 mm/50 (5.46″) Model 1929 singles mounted two forward and three aft, capable of a theoretical rate of fire of 12 rounds per minute per tube. Their side salvo weighed about 200kg, twice that of British destroyers of the time.

As noted by Navweaps:

As completed the outfit for the Le Fantasque class was 500 rounds of HE and SAP plus 75 starshell. 525 charges were carried of which 25% were flashless. There were also 80 charges for the starshells. When the war started, the magazines were altered to hold 200 rounds per gun and ready racks were installed at each gun which held 24 rounds.

Model 1929 Single Mountings on Le Triomphant in 1940, note Brodie helmets on some of the crew, likely British RN signalers. Note the twin 13.2 mm Hotchkiss MG on the bridge. via Navweaps

The ships also mounted a smattering of 37mm and 13mm AAA guns and 9 21.7″ torpedo tubes in three triple braces, as well as the ability to sow mines.

Laid down at Ateliers et Chantiers de France, Dunkerque in 1931, Le Triomphant was the 7th French naval vessel since 1667 to carry the name.

When war came in 1939, the six fast destroyers of the class were joined by France’s only carrier Bearn the three newest French cruisers Montcalm, Georges Leygues, and Gloire, and the fast battleships Dunkerque and Strasbourg, to form the “Force de Raid” to go and hunt down German surface raiders, a job which turned out to be uneventful.

In April 1940, while detached with the other destroyers, Le Triomphant wound up in a surface action with a group of armed German trawlers and patrol boats in the Skagerrak that left her slightly damaged and, as the fall of France loomed, she was in Lorient for repairs. As the Germans advanced, she skipped out and headed across the Channel to Plymouth in June, where the British took her over on 3 July to keep her out of Vichy hands.

She promptly became one of the more important vessels of the fledging Forces Navales Françaises Libres (FNFL), or Free French Navy. Within days, Vice Admiral Muselier, who had only arrived in London by flying boat from Gibraltar on 30 June 30, along with some French tank general by the name of de Gaulle, were walking her decks in a much-needed PR coup for the Free French forces.

VISIT OF GENERAL DE GAULLE AND ADMIRAL MUSELIER TO A NAVAL PORT. 1940, THE HEAD OF THE FREE FRENCH FORCES, GENERAL DE GAULLE, ACCOMPANIED BY ADMIRAL MUSELIER, VISITED FRENCH SHIPS MANNED BY MEMBERS OF THE FREE FRENCH NAVAL FORCES AT A BRITISH PORT. (A 2177) On board the French destroyer LE TRIOMPHANT. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205136575

VISIT OF GENERAL DE GAULLE AND ADMIRAL MUSELIER TO A NAVAL PORT. 1940, THE HEAD OF THE FREE FRENCH FORCES, GENERAL DE GAULLE, ACCOMPANIED BY ADMIRAL MUSELIER, VISITED FRENCH SHIPS MANNED BY MEMBERS OF THE FREE FRENCH NAVAL FORCES AT A BRITISH PORT. (A 2176) On board the French destroyer LE TRIOMPHANT. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205136574

VISIT OF GENERAL DE GAULLE AND ADMIRAL MUSELIER TO A NAVAL PORT. 1940, THE HEAD OF THE FREE FRENCH FORCES, GENERAL DE GAULLE, ACCOMPANIED BY ADMIRAL MUSELIER, VISITED FRENCH SHIPS MANNED BY MEMBERS OF THE FREE FRENCH NAVAL FORCES AT A BRITISH PORT. (A 2178) Leaving the French destroyer LE TRIOMPHANT. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205136576

She was subsequently modified for operations alongside the RN and her No. 4 gun was removed during a 1940 refit in Britain and a 4″/45 (10.2 cm) QF Mark V fitted in its place. British light AA guns were also fitted. Her speed dropped to 37 knots as she had added weight of guns, sonar, radar, and fuel stowage was increased from 580t to 730t, which after this time the French classified her as a light cruiser.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1855) Members of the ship’s crew of FFS LE TRIOMPHANT in working rig, seated on gantries hanging over the ship’s side, painting the ship’s bow. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185152

Under the command of Commandant Pierre Gilly, she was made the flagship of the Free French Pacific squadron and set off across the Atlantic to both visit the U.S. and, after transit through the Panama Canal, undertake numerous escort and convoy assignments.

Le Triomphant underway in San Diego harbor, California, circa 26 April 1941. Photographed from on board USS Saratoga (CV-3). Note the British type 4-inch anti-aircraft gun (at the rear of the after-deck house) and light anti-aircraft machine guns added while she was in British hands during 1940. Among the latter is a French Hotchkiss 13.2mm quad atop the after superstructure, just forward of the 4-inch gun. False bow wave camouflage is painted on Le Triomphant’s hull side, forward, to confuse estimates of the ship’s speed. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. #: NH 55853

Moored off San Diego, California, circa 26 April 1941. Photographed from a USS Saratoga (CV-3) airplane from an altitude of 700 feet, using an F-48 camera with a 6 3/8-inch focal length. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 55854

At San Diego, California on 26 April 1941. She is wearing false bow wave camouflage and carries a British type 4-inch anti-aircraft gun in place of the 5.5-inch low angle gun originally mounted in X position. There is a French Hotchkiss 13.2mm quad anti-aircraft machine gun mount atop the after superstructure, just forward of that 4-inch gun. Note the small civilian sailboat passing down Le Triomphant’ starboard side. The original print came from the Office of Naval Intelligence. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. #: NH 86557

Part of her Pacific war saw her evacuate a group of civilians from and the tiny British garrison Nauru and Christmas Island to safety during the Japanese advance soon after Pearl Harbor. The islands were leased by the British Phosphate Commission and, on 23 February 1942, Triomphant, unescorted, managed to pick up 61 Westerners, 391 Chinese, and the 49 members of the British garrison at Nauru, sadly leaving 191 Chinese and 7 westerners behind to be captured by the Japanese. At Christmas Island on 28 February, she picked up an amazing 823 Chinese and 232 other BPC employees.

On patrol, 7 March 1943, with a bone in her mouth

Sydney 1942 swinging her compasses

Then, while on an escort run, she ran right into a cyclone that left her sinking, and was only narrowly kept afloat by her crew, which included a five man RAN commo det, and had to be towed to safety some 1,200 miles by the British destroyer HMS Frobisher, a feat C in C Eastern Fleet Admiral Sir James Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, told the ship’s company of the British tin can would be “good for a pint of beer for many years to come.”

A massive wave washes over the deck of the Free French Force destroyer, Le Triomphant, during a cyclone. 2 December 1943. Australian War Memorial

The crew of the Free French Force destroyer, Le Triomphant, race to apply a collision mat to the damaged ship’s hull during a cyclone on 2 December 1943. The collision mat, a large piece of canvas, is passed under the ship and is held in place by the pressure of the water trying to enter the breach

As noted by the Australians:

Le Triomphant left Fremantle, Australia, with five Royal Australian Navy crew, a Liaison Officer, Lieutenant Derek Percival Scales; Signalman Myall; 25903 Signalman William Cutt Rendall; PA1104 Telegraphist Ashmead Bartlett Croft and Coder Underwood, on 26 November 1943. She was on convoy duty with the American oil tanker Cedar Mills and the Dutch cargo ship Java when the cyclone hit and received considerable damage. Without fuel, water and provisions and listing 45 degrees, she was towed by the Cedar Mills to Diego Suarez, Madagascar, for repairs arriving on 19 December 1943. Repairs were completed on 8 February 1944 and she performed light duties in the area until 12 March 1944, when she departed for Port Said stopping briefly at Algiers, where she and her crew, including the five Australians, were reviewed by the leader of the French Free Force, General Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle and the Minister for the Navy, Louis Jacquinot.

The five Royal Australian Navy crew on the Free French Force ship Le Triomphant, a large destroyer of Le Fantasque class, are presented to de Gaulle.

The crew of the Free French Force ship Le Triomphant, a large destroyer of Le Fantasque class, are presented to the leader of the Free French Force, General Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (saluting on right) while in port at Algiers. Saluting General de Gaulle is Lieutenant de Vaisseau Léon Méquin (later Commanding Officer of the Free French Force corvette Lobelia). General de Gaulle is attended by the Minister for the Navy, Louis Jacquinot and Commandant Pierre Gilly. The bugler is Poupon.

Inclination tests in Boston, via Navweaps

On 10 April 1944, Le Triomphant arrived in Boston, for an extensive refit where she remained until the end of the Second World War.

While in U.S. waters, the Navy put her through some paces though officially was neutral at that stage in the war, noting Le Triomphant “has since run some interesting trials on the Rockland course,” the measured mile-long speed trials course off Rockland, Maine– though do not disclose what speeds the fast Frenchman was able to achieve.

In October 1945, along with the semi-complete battleship Richelieu, Le Triomphant escorted troopships bound for French Indochina loaded with 20,000 fresh troops of the African 9ème D.I.C of the First French Army of General de Lattre de Tassigny, Leclerc’s own famous Groupement mobile de la 2ème DB (2nd Armored Div), and the Brigade Légère Marine d’Extrême-Orient marine commando unit, the latter which had trained alongside British commando and landed at Normandy.

General Jacques-Philippe Leclerc on board the French light cruiser (ex-destroyer) Le Triomphant in October 1945. General Leclerc commanded the French forces that re-occupied French Indo-China and Le Triomphant was one of the warships that escorted his troops. Photograph from the New York Times Paris Bureau collection in the U.S. National Archives. Catalog #: 306-NT-3277-V

On 6 March 1946, under Captain Jubelin, as Le Triomphant was approaching near Haiphong, she sustained 20mm fire from KMT Chinese occupation troops, killing 8 sailors and wounding 20 as part of a “misunderstanding.” Le Triomphant retaliated by firing her 138 mm guns, which ignited ammunition stores and resulted in the surrender of the 28,000-strong Chinese forces from the 53rd Army under Gen. Ma Ying. This was, ironically, the same day Jean Sainteny, French Commissioner for Northern Indochina met with Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi and signed the Ho–Sainteny agreement which would transfer Vietnam to Minh in five years and the departure of the nationalist Chinese forces.

After the battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954 and eventual withdrawal from Indochina resulting in a French Naval drawdown, Le Triomphant was decommissioned on 19 December 1954 and scrapped in Bizerte in 1960.

She is remembered by the Association Aux Marins and in scale models, while her name has since been reused for the lead ship of a quartet of strategic nuclear missile submarine, Triomphant (S616), commissioned in 1997.

Oh, and the island nation of Nauru remembers her as well.


Of her sisters, L’Audacieux was lost on 7 May 1943 at Bizerte due to Allied bombing, L’Indomptable was lost on 27 Nov 1942 when she was scuttled Toulon by her crew to avoid capture by the Germans, Le Malin joined the Allies when captured from the Vichy in 1943 and supported the Dragoon Landings before being scrapped in 1964, Le Terrible likewise joined the FNFL in 1943 and served until 1962, and class leader Le Fantasque had similar service lasting until 1957.

Specs:


Displacement: 2570 tons
Length:     132.40 m (434.4 ft.)
Beam:     11.98 m (39.3 ft.)
Draught:     4.30 m (14.1 ft.)
Propulsion:
4 Penhoët boilers
2 Parsons geared steam turbines
74,000 HP
2 propellers
Speed:
45 knots (83 km/h; 52 mph) (40 nominal)
37 knots after WWII refit due to weight increase
Range:
1,200 km (650 nmi; 750 mi) at 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)
3,000 nm at 14kts.
Complement:     10 officers, 210 sailors
Armament:
(1931)
5 × 138 mm (5.4-inch) guns (2 forward, 3 aft)
4 × 37 mm AA guns
4 × 13 mm Hotchkiss machine guns
9 × 550 mm torpedo tubes in three triple mounts
40 mines
(1940)
4 × 138 mm (5.4-inch) guns (2 forward, 2 aft)
1 x 102/45 QF Mk V aft
2 x 1 – 40/39 QF Mk VIII 2-pounder pom-pom
4 × 37 mm AA guns
4 × 13 mm Hotchkiss machine guns
8 x  Vickers .50 cal guns
9 × 550 mm torpedo tubes in three triple mounts
(1944)
4 × 138 mm (5.4-inch) guns (2 forward, 2 aft)
8 × 40 mm Bofors AA guns
10 × 20 mm Oerlikon AA guns
6 × 550 mm torpedo tubes in two triple mounts

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

45 Years ago today..

F-4J Phantom II aircof Fighter Squadron (VF) 96 pictured on a catapult on board the carrier Constellation (CVA 64) steaming in the Gulf of Tonkin in May 1972

Click to big up 2003×1328

F-4J-35-MC Phantom II “Showtime 104” of Fighter Squadron (VF) 96 pictured on a catapult on board the carrier USS Constellation (CVA 64) steaming in the Gulf of Tonkin during Operation Linebacker, May 10, 1972.

Sadly, everything you see is now but a memory.

The Fighting Falcons of VF-96 have been inactivated since 1 Dec 1975 while the last combat rated Phantoms (the F-4S’s of VF-202) were retired in 1987 although some were converted to QF-4 target drones and kept around at at NAS Point Mugu as late as 2004.

Speaking of which, BuNo. 155787, shown on the cat above, was converted to a F-4S model and was transferred to the AMARC boneyard as 8F0285 9 July 1987, remaining one of the very last Phantoms in Navy service with the aforementioned VF-202. She took a few more rides under remote control as QF-4S drone “106” and was stricken in 2000, likely expended in a live fire shoot.

As for Conny herself, she was put out to pasture in 2003 after 42 years of very active service. She has been in the breakers since last year.

 

 

 

It wasn’t just the Western Allies that broke Hitler’s back

On this VE Day, remember those East of the Oder who gave their all as well.

Colonel Zheludov Andrey Vasilievich (1922-2010) saying goodbye to his past.Order of Glory IIIrd Class, Order of the Red star, two medals of Military Merit and at least three wounds.

Colonel Andrey Vasilievich Zheludov  (1922-2010) saying goodbye to his past. His jacket contains the Order of Glory, Order of the Red Star, two Military Merit medals of  and at least three wound metals among other chest candy. Regardless of the politics of Stalin and the war crimes of Berlin, the Katyn and others, the Red Army in the end still accounted for more Axis soldiers in the ground than those of the West.

 

Thunderjet! Forgotten super jet of Korea and all points Portuguese

Here we see the very complex (when compared to a piston engine) cockpit of the Republic F-84G Thunderjet.

Republic F-84G cockpit. (U.S. Air Force photo)

First flown just five months after VJ Day, the F-84 was on the cutting edge of late 1940s jet fighters. The Thunderjet was the first fighter with built-in aerial refueling capability, the first aircraft flown by the Thunderbirds, and the first single-seat aircraft capable of carrying a nuclear bomb. Some 7,524 were built and they gave yeoman service in Korea, flying a staggering 86,408 missions, dropping 55,586 tons of bombs and 6,129 tons of napalm a well as accounting for 8 MiGs. The Air Force says F-84s were responsible for 60 percent of all ground targets destroyed in the war.

Entering service in Korea in December 1950, the F-84 became an important interdiction aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Removed from front line service by the adoption of the F-100 Super Saber, they were transferred to the Air National Guard where they flew until 1971. Some 13 foregn countries flew the F-84 including the Portugese who used them extensively in Angola and the Greeks, who flew them util 1991!

A Portuguese F-84 being loaded with ordnance in the 1960s, at Luanda Air Base, during the Portuguese Colonial War.

Warship Wednesday, May 3, 2017: The battleship slaying avenger of the Pacific

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time 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, May 3, 2017: The battleship slaying avenger of the Pacific

Here we see the Balao-class fleet submarine USS Sealion (SS/SSP/APSS/LPSS-315) later in the WWII flying her victory pennants, she was to earn them the hard way.

A member of the 128-ship Balao class, she was one of the most mature U.S. Navy diesel designs of the World War Two era, constructed with knowledge gained from the earlier Gato-class. U.S. subs, unlike those of many navies of the day, were ‘fleet’ boats, capable of unsupported operations in deep water far from home. Able to range 11,000 nautical miles on their reliable diesel engines, they could undertake 75-day patrols that could span the immensity of the Pacific. Carrying 24 (often unreliable) Mk14 Torpedoes, these subs often sank anything short of a 5000-ton Maru or warship by surfacing and using their 4-inch/50 caliber and 40mm/20mm AAA’s. The also served as the firetrucks of the fleet, rescuing downed naval aviators from right under the noses of Japanese warships.

We have covered a number of this class before, such as carrier-sinking USS Archerfish, the long-serving USS Catfish, the rocket mail firing USS Barbero, and the frogman Cadillac USS Perch, but don’t complain, they have lots of great stories.

Laid down on 25 February 1943 by the Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn, Sealion was the second submarine to carry that name.

The first, SS-195, was also built by Electric Boat in 1939 and was part of SubDiv 202 at Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines when the war started. She took two direct hits in the Japanese air raid which demolished the navy yard and sank on 10 December. Four of her crew– Chief Electrician’s Mate Sterling Foster, Chief Electrician’s Mate Melvin O’Connell, Machinist’s Mate First Class Ernest Ogilvie, and Electrician’s Mate Third Class Vallentyne Paul—were killed in the attack. Her surviving crew scuttled what was left on Christmas day.

(SS-195) Ship’s wrecked hulk at the old Cavite Navy Yard, Philippines, in November 1945. Her conning tower, with periscopes, is at left, with her stern at right. Sealion had been scuttled at Cavite on 25 December 1941, after suffering fatal damage during a Japanese air attack there on 10 December. Photographed by B. Eneberg, who was then navigator of a Royal Australian Air Force PBY-5 aircraft. Courtesy of B. Eneberg, 1977. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 85725

Our new Sealion was launched by none other than Mrs. Emory S. Land, then commissioned on 8 March 1944, Lt. Comdr. Eli T. Reich in command (former executive officer and engineer of SS-195), and sailed for the Pacific to join SubDiv 222, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 17 May.

Then she got cracking.

On 23 June, on her first war patrol, she sank the Japanese naval transport, Snasei Maru, in the Tsushima Island area. Two weeks later, Sealion intercepted a convoy south of the Four Sisters Islands and commenced firing torpedoes at two cargomen in the formation. Within minutes, the 1,922-ton Setsuzan Maru sank, and the convoy scattered. On July 11, she conducted several attacks, sinking two freighters, Tsukushi Maru No. 2 and Taian Maru No. 2.

Her second patrol saw her scratch the Shirataka, a minelayer, and conduct a wolf pack attack along with the submarines Pampanito and Growler, which accounted for the tanker Zuiho Maru and transports Kachidoki Maru and Rakuyo Maru, the latter afterward found to be carrying British and Australian POWs. She swung to and picked up 54 of the oil-coated allies, landing 50 who survived at Saipan five days later. Tragically, of the 1300 Allied POW’s on board, only some 160 were rescued by the U.S. submarines.

British and Australian prisoners of war rescued by SEALION on 15 September 1944. The prisoners had been aboard transports en route from Singapore to Japan when their ships were sunk in an attack by U.S. submarines SEALION, GROWLER (SS-215), and PAMPANITO (SS-383). The position of the sinking was 18-42 N; 114-30 E. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-281718

On her third patrol, Sealion stumbled across three surface contacts that turned out to be the 37,500-ton battleship Kongo, 2035-ton destroyer Urakaze, and another escort.

Built at Barrow-in-Furness in Britain by Vickers Shipbuilding Company, the Kongō was the last Japanese capital ship constructed outside Japan– she was also the only Japanese battleship sunk by submarine in the WWII and the last battleship sunk by submarine in history. Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

LCDR Reich’s original patrol report:

21 NOVEMBER 1944

0020: Radar contact at 44,000 yards, on our starboard quarter, (Ship contact #3) three pips, very clear and distinct. Came to normal approach, went ahead flank on four engines, and commenced tracking. Overcast sky, no soon, visibility about 1500 yards, calm sea.

0043: Two large pips and two smaller pips now outlined on radar screen at a range of 35,000 yards. These are the greatest ranges we have ever obtained on our radar. Pips so large, at so great a range, we first suspected land. It was possible to lobe switch on the larger targets at 32,000 yards – we now realized we probably had two targets of battleship proportions and two of larger cruiser size as our targets. They were in a column with a cruiser ahead followed by two battleships, and a cruiser astern, course 060 T, speed 16 knots. not zigging.

0146: Three escorts now visible on the radar, at a range of 20,000 yards. One on. either beam on the formation, and one on the starboard far quarter. We are pining bearing slowly but surely. The formation is now on our starboard beam. Seas and wind increasing.

0245: Ahead of task force. Turned in and slowed for attack, keeping our bow pointed at the now destroyer who is now 1800 yards on the port bow of our target. the second ship in column. Able to make out shape of near destroyer from bridge. Kept swinging left with our bow directly on the destroyer, and at

0256: Fired six torpedoes, depth set at 8 feet, at the second ship in column, range 3000 yards, believed to be a battleship. Came right with full rudder to bring the stern tubes to bear.

0259-30: Stopped and fired three torpedoes, depth set at 8 feet, from the stern tubes at the third ship in column (i.e. the second battleship). Range 3100 yards. Range to near destroyer at the time of firing stern tubes about 1800 yards. While firing stern tubes, O.O.D. reported he could make out outline of the near cruiser on our port quarter. During the firing of the bow tubes the bridge quartermaster reported he could make out outline of a very high superstructure on target, he said it looked to him like the pagoda build of the Jap battleships.

0300: Saw and heard three hits on the first battleship – several small mushrooms of explosions noted in the darkness.

0304: Saw and heard at least one hit on the second battleship – this gave a large violent explosion with a sudden rise of flames at the target, but it quickly subsided.

0304-07: Went ahead flank, opening to westward from target group. Noted several small explosions, flames, and probably lights in vicinity of target group.

0308: Heard a long series of heavy depth charge explosions from vicinity of enemy force – we are about 5000 yards from group. P.P.I. shows one escort opening and rapidly to east of target group. Continued tracking.

0330: Chagrined at this point to find subsequent tracking enemy group still making 16 knots, still on course 060T. I feel that in setting depth at 8 feet, in order to hit a destroyer if overlapping our main target. I’ve made a bust – looks like we only dented the armor belt on the battleships.

0406: Tracking indicates the target group now zigzagging. We are holding true bearing, maybe gaining a little. Called for maximum speed from engineers – they gave us 25% overload for about thirty minutes, then commenced growling about sparking commutators, hot motors, et al , forced to slow to flank. Sea and wind increasing all the time – now about force 5 or 6 – taking solid water over bridge, with plenty coming down the conning tower hatch. SEALION making about 16.8 to 17 knots with safety tank dry and using low pressure blower often to keep ballast tanks dry. Engine rooms taking much water through main induction.

0430: Sent SEALION Serial Number TWO. [?]

0450: Noted enemy formation breaking up into two groups – one group dropping astern. Now P.P.I. showed:(a) one group up ahead to consist of three large ships in column – cruiser. battleship, cruiser with a destroyer just being lost to radar view up ahead. Range to this group about 17000 yards. (b) Second group dropping astern of first to consist of a battleship, with two destroyers on far side. Close aboard – range to this group about 15000 yards and closing.

0451: Shifted target designation, decided to attack second group, which contains 1 battleship, hit with three torpedoes on our first attack. Tracking shows target to have slowed to 11 knots. Things beginning to took rosy again.

0512: In position ahead of target, slowed and turned in for attack.

0518: Solutions on T.D.C. and plot is getting sour – target must be changing speed.

0520: Plot and T.D.C. report target must be stopped, radar says target pip seems to be getting a little smaller. Range to target now about 17000 yards.

0524: Tremendous explosion dead ahead – sky brilliantly illuminated, it looked like a sunset at midnight, radar reports battleship pip getting smaller – that it has disappeared -leaving only two smaller pips of the destroyers. Destroyers seem to be milling around vicinity of target. Battleship sunk – the sun set.

0525: Total darkness again.

The crew, left with sound recording equipment by a visiting CBS film crew, archived the audio of the attack, the only occasion in which a live attack on an enemy ship was recorded. They were preserved by the Navy’s Underwater Sound Laboratory and can be heard at the following website.

Four of the torpedoes fired carried the names of the fallen Sealion (SS-195) crew, lost in 1941.

Sealion holds the distinction of being the only Allied submarine to sink a battleship during World War II and LCDR Reich received the Navy Cross.

Lt.Cdr. Charles Frederick Putnam took over Sealion for her 4th patrol, which netted the 15,820-ton Japanese supply ship Mamiya about 450 nautical miles north-east of Cam Ranh Bay, French Indo-China after a two-day running chase as well as her 5th patrol that added the Thai oiler Samui (1458 GRT) to her tally in March 1945. Her 6th patrol was uneventful.

The successful submarine was decommissioned 2 February 1946 and laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. In all, Sealion earned the Presidential Unit Citation and received five battle stars for her World War II service.

She was then later converted to a Submarine Transport, at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, California and recommissioned 2 November 1948. Her torpedo tubes and forward engines were removed and her forward engine room and after forward and after torpedo rooms were converted to hold up to 123 troops.

Her insignia changed during this time to reflect her new role.

Sealion continued a schedule of exercises with Marines, Underwater Demolition Teams (and later SEALs) and Beachjumper units; and, on occasion, Army units, landing helicopters on her deck and launching small boats and LVTs from her “hangar”

Sealion (SSP-315) after her conversion to a submarine transport. The “notch” in her deck near the large stowage chamber abaft the conning tower is fitted with rollers to aid in retrieving rubber landing boats.

U.S. Marines land on the deck of the SEA LION by helicopter during a practice reconnaissance mission, 4 May 1956. The helicopters are from HMR-26 and HMR-262, shuttling 55 Marines of 2nd Marine Amphibious Reconnaissance Company in an exercise. Note the M14s and “duck hunter” camo. Description: Catalog #: K-20159

A Marine helicopter aboard the SEA LION during a practice reconnaissance mission off Little Creek, Virginia, 4 May 1956. Note her earlier LVT hangar is removed. Description: Catalog #: K-20154

Submerged Sealion (SS-315) during exercises with Marine scouts of the 2nd Marine Division circa May 1956. Note the HRS/H-19 helicopter resting on the after deck; 5-inch/25 and 40mm guns are still carried. Shortly after this photo was taken the boat was reclassified APSS-315. USN photo and text from The American Submarine by Norman Polmar, courtesy of Robert Hurst, via Navsource.

Her peacetime training schedule included breaks for a Med deployment and support of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1961.

On 3 December 1962 Sealion (APSS-315) returned to Norfolk and from then into 1967 she maintained her schedule of exercises with Marine Reconnaissance, UDT, and SEAL personnel. She is pictured here in October 1964– note she still has her WWII deck guns, one of the last subs in the fleet to do so. USN photo # NPC 1106522 courtesy of usssubvetsofwwii.org via Navsource.

Between 1949-1969 her designation switched from SSP to Transport Submarine (ASSP-315) to Amphibious Transport Submarine, (LPSS-315) though her role remained the same.

Decommissioned 20 February 1970, she was laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Stricken 15 March 1977, she was sunk as a target off Newport, Rhode Island 8 July 1978.

The flag from her 3rd War Patrol is maintained in the collection of the U.S. Undersea Warfare Museum.

“The upper left quadrant contains the submarine’s insignia, a black sea lion riding a red torpedo. The upper right and lower left quadrants depict Japanese merchant ships sunk — six tankers and five freighters, respectively. The submarine’s most significant actions are represented in the lower right quadrant: the large battleship above the broken rising sun flag is Kongo, the smaller battleship with the intact rising sun flag is damaged battleship Haruna, and the number 50 atop the red cross refers to the 50 prisoners of war that Sealion rescued from torpedoed Japanese transport Rakuyo Maru. The crew of Sealion created this battle flag and presented it to Sealion skipper Lieutenant Eli Reich.”

Reich, a retired Vice Admiral, died at age 86 in 1999.

From the Washington Post:

Retiring from the Navy in 1973 after 38 years of service, Adm. Reich was named director of the Emergency Energy Allocations Program, which was responsible for the distribution of scarce oil and gasoline during the Arab oil embargo. Described as a “crusty three-star admiral” by syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Adm. Reich was reported by the columnists to have told staff members: “I don’t give a damn for the public image. We’re not here to create an image. We’re to do a job–my way. And that’s the military way.”

There has never been another Sealion on the Navy List other than the two war babies mentioned above. Their memory is maintained by the USS Sealion veterans group.

Although Sealion is no longer afloat, eight Balao-class submarines are preserved as museum ships across the country.

Please visit one of these fine ships and keep the legacy alive:

USS Batfish (SS-310) at War Memorial Park in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
USS Becuna (SS-319) at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
USS Bowfin (SS-287) at USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.
USS Clamagore (SS-343) at Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (for now).
USS Ling (SS-297) at New Jersey Naval Museum in Hackensack, New Jersey (for now).
USS Lionfish (SS-298) at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts.
USS Pampanito (SS-383) at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, California, (which played the part of the fictional USS Stingray in the movie Down Periscope).
USS Razorback (SS-394) at Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

As for SS-195, she is considered on eternal patrol.

Specs:

Displacement, Surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,424 t.
Length 311′ 10″
Beam 27′ 3″
Draft 15′ 3″
Speed, Surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts (halved after 1949)
Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10kts; Submerged Endurance, 48 hours at 2kts
Operating Depth Limit, 400 ft
Complement 6 Officers 60 Enlisted
Armament, (as built) ten 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 5″/25 caliber deck gun, one 40mm gun, two .50 cal. machine guns
(troop conversion)
Berthing for 123 Marines/Soldiers
One 5″/25 caliber deck gun, one 40mm gun, two .50 cal. machine guns
Patrol Endurance 75 days
Propulsion: diesel-electric reduction gear with four Fairbanks-Morse main generator engines., 5,400 hp, four Elliot Motor Co., main motors with 2,740 hp, two 126-cell main storage batteries, two propellers. (Halved after 1949)
Fuel Capacity: 94,400 gal.
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Captain Camden, reporting for duty, 100 years ago this week

Portrait of Captain Edwin Camden – Volusia County, Florida. 1917. Black & white photo print. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/34067&gt;

Here we see a relatively fit Captain Edwin Camden, formerly of the Army of the Confederate States, then aged 75, of Volusia County, Florida, in April 1917. According to the state archives on 6 April 1917 “He put on his Civil War veteran’s uniform and tried to register for the draft on the first day of World War I.”

It should be noted that his grandson reportedly had volunteered for service as well and was accepted.

Note the uniform is complete with the hat device of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) a veterans organization formed in 1888.

Camden, born in Virginia in 1840, raised a company that later became Coy E, 25th Virginia (Heck’s) Infantry Regiment and, captured after being wounded during the Wilderness, became a member of a group known as the “Immortal Six Hundred” because they refused to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. under duress.

From the Confederate Veteran, the monthly magazine which became the official UCV organ, volume XXXI, January 1923, now in the Duke Library Archives:

CAPT. EDWIN DUNCAN CAMDEN. BY ROY B. COOK, CHARLESTON, W. VA.

When the war came on in 1861, the Camden family, of Braxton County, Va. (now West Virginia), was largely divided on the subjects involved in that fratricidal strife. John S. Camden, Sr., was long a prominent figure in the central western Virginia region, a member of the Virginia Assembly, and colonel of the 133rd Regiment Virginia Militia. Of his five sons, three were enrolled for the South. — Edwin D. Camden, William I., and L. D., the latter two being lieutenants of the 17th Virginia. Of the other two, Dr. Thomas B. Camden was imprisoned in Camp Chase, but was released upon a petition signed by all sides, and subsequently served as post surgeon of the Federal army at Weston ; Johnson N. Camden remained loyal to the Union, and in latter years became a vice president of the Standard Oil Company, United States Senator, and railroad builder. Richard P. Camden, an uncle of Edwin Camden, espoused the cause of the Union and was a member of the West Virginia legislature in 1866 as a loyal man. Another uncle, Lennox Camden, was arrested as a Southern sympathizer and confined in Fort Delaware in 1863. Having married into a powerful Western Virginia family, his release was secured, but not before his physical powers had wasted away, and he died in New York City. Judge Gideon D. Camden, another uncle, was a member of the Confederate Congress, and his son was a major in the Confederate army.

In July, 1861, Edwin Duncan Camden recruited a company of one hundred and twenty men and marched to Beverly, where he was to effect a junction with a command of the Confederate army under Colonel Pegram. In the meantime General Rosecrans had advanced by Clarksburg and Philippi, defeating Pegram in the battle of Rich Mountain on July 11. The men under Camden arrived during the closing hours of this affray, participated in the action, during which General Garnett was killed, and r treated with the Confederates into the Valley of Virginia The men in his charge were mustered in as Company E, 25th Virginia Infantry, and he was commisioned first lieutenant.

After participating in activities in the Valley campaigns in the latter part of 1861, the 25th Regiment became a part of the 4th Brigade, 31st Division, under Col. J. A. Walker, and as such a part of the corps under command of the distinguished chieftain, Thomas J. Jackson. As the celebrated “Stonewall Brigade,” it was ever afterwards the most noted organization in the Confederate service, engaged in deeds and exploits that attracted the attention of the entire world. Among the commanders were Gen. J. M. Jones and Bradley T. Johnson, and several others no less well known.

Company E, as part of the 4th Brigade, engaged in the battle at Fort Republic on June 9, 1862, lost four officers and twenty-five men, and Lieutenant Camden was wounded. Recovering, he rejoined the company and was commissioned captain, a rank held during his period of service.

In April, 1863, the 25th and 31st Virginia were transferred temporarily by General Lee to the command of Brig. Gen. John D. Imboden, to participate in the invasion of Western Virginia. During this month and May following, the celebrated “Imboden Raid” took place, in which Jones and Imboden advanced as far into the present State of West Virginia as Glenville, in Gilmer County, and Burning Strings, in Wirt County. At the latter place vast stores of oil were destroyed, which, as fate would have it, belonged largely to Johnson N. Camden, a brother of Captain Camden. The expedition was not successful in the desired purpose of securing recruits for the Southern cause, but did secure large numbers of cattle and supplies for the Southern army. At Buckhannon, Camden’s company and others lost some men by desertion, because Captain Camden lodged a complaint against a certain element stealing horses from the citizens without authority, need, or pay. This act, however, created a most favorable impression with the better element on both sides.

Returning to Virginia and the old organization, the march was taken up to the memorable field of Gettysburg. Here the company, on July 1, 1S63, engaged in the storming of Culp’s Hill, and late that evening moved into the ” Valley of Death. ”

During Pickett’s charge the division held a position under the murderous fire from Little Round Top. John C. Higginbotham, colonel commanding, on the 21st, in his report to Acting Adjutant Moore, of General Jones’s Brigade, speaking of the actions on the 3rd, says: “It is with pleasure that I can testify to the gallantry and skill of Captain (E. D.) Camden and Company E. I never saw men act better. Seventy men were lost in action.

In May, 1864, began the series of battles of the Wilderness, which led up to the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. The 25th Virginia moved into the ” Bloody Angle” on May 10, and in the next three days followed such scenes of carnage as never before existed in the war. Whole companies were wiped out. Lee and Grant pitted their armies together in the great struggle for what was believed to be the key to Richmond. At the close of the affray, Captain Camden, with a shattered leg and jaw, was left on the battle field, for it was not believed that surgical skill then available could save his life. The Confederate forces were forced to leave large numbers of their wounded in the hands of the Federals, and, after many hours, Captain Camden was removed to a Federal hospital, later sent to Fort Delaware as a prisoner, and, in the face of what was deemed mortal injuries, eventually recovered.

In July, 1864, it was reported in the North, but later found to have been a mistake, that Maj- Gen. Sam Jones had confined Federal prisoners in Charleston, S. C, under fire from the Federal batteries on Morris Island. On August 25, 1864, the Federal commander, General Schoeph, at Fort Delaware, sent six hundred commissioned Confederate officers to Morris Island, with the view in mind, it appears, of an exchange, but this was not done. For a time they were under fire of their own guns, and, though none were killed, they underwent terrible suffering; a number died, and their other experiences are recounted in book and poem as the “Immortal Six Hundred” of the War between the States. Among those from the interior of present West Virginia were: Lieut. T. Tussie, 25th Virginia, Weston, W. Va.; Capt. E. D. Camden, 25th Virginia, Sutton, W. Va.; Capt. T. J. Berry, Bulltown, W. Va., and some fifteen others from other sections of the State.

From Fort Delaware they were transported in August, huddled together on a small steamship called the Crescent, guarded by one hundred Ohio militiamen. Arriving at Morris Island, and failing in exchange, at times shells from batteries on the Island, Wagner’s, and Forts Moultrie and Sumter were passing over them. Forty-five days later they were sent to Fort Pulaski; later to Hilton Head, and then back to Fort Delaware.

From this point those who would take the oath of allegiance to the United States were sent to New York and released. Others who refused were sent to Richmond in exchange for a like number of Federal prisoners. The term of imprisonment was marked by many happenings, one of which had both a tragic and amusing aspect. At Hilton Head an effort was made to escape. By raising a bunk in a section occupied by Captain Camden, a hole was made in the floor and, after a long period of hard work, a hole was made down and under the wall. All arrangements were made for a trip to liberty, but the men inside the walls did not reckon with a moat filled with water surrounding the building. On the way through the basement a barrel of brown sugar was found, and while to us this does not mean much, to a soldier at that time it was the highest of dainties. Tightening belts, shirts and pockets were filled; arriving outside in the darkness, they fell into the water. Wading, scrambling, or swimming across as the need arose, sugar and water enshrouded them in a sticky syrup. The alarm was given and, with such an unusual impediment, all were caught and returned to prison.

Upon his release from service, Captain Camden returned to the little town of Weston, W. Va., along with others of the brave men in gray. Among the local Federals were men with little respect for those who espoused the Southern cause, and it was demanded that the Confederates divest themselves of the faded and worn uniforms. This they refused to do, and a near riot took place, in which Maj. H. H. Withers, of the 10th Virginia Infantry, mounted a horse block and announced that he would shoot the first man that touched a Confederate soldier, an act that endeared him to both sides.

Captain Camden died on May 13, 1922. He was the son of John S. and Nancy Newlon Camden, and was born in Sutton, Braxton County, Va. (now West Virginia), March 30, 1840. When the town of Sutton was burned by the Confederates under John S. Sprigg, on December 29, 1861, the Camden Hotel and store were burned, and his father and mother were forced to retire to Weston with the Federals, both dying within a few months from exposure on the trip. One of Captain Camden’s great-grandfathers was Maj. Frederick Sprigg, of the Upper Battalion, Montgomery County, Maryland Continentals; while another was a member of the “Flying Squadron” in the Revolution. Kinsmen fought in the war with Spain, and a grandson was in the late World War. As a member of the “Immortal Six Hundred,” Captain Camden was one of the honored guests at Confederate reunions, and was probably the last survivor of this famous group. In late years he was appointed as colonel on the staff of J. Thompson Brown, commanding the Army of Northern Virginia Department U. C. V.

He is buried in Summit Cemetery, Braxton County, West Virginia, alongside his wife. On his tombstone, he is recorded as being a Lt. Colonel, possibly a brevet award.

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