Category Archives: World War One

A Smoke and a Read

105 years ago. February 1918. Offical caption: A Canadian soldier enjoys a few minutes with the Canadian Daily Record (Un soldat canadien prenant une pause, s’apprêtant à feuilleter le Canadian Daily Record).”

Note his SMLE .303 to Sergent’s left, a Mills Bomb and electric torch by his pillow for repelling trench-raiding stosstruppen, a gas mask and bayonet eternally at the ready; and a kettle and water can by his rope bed.

Department of National Defence. Library and Archives Canada, PA-002507

According to Veterans Affairs Canada, more than 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in The Great War– big numbers considering the country had a population in 1914 of just under 8 million. Canada suffered a staggering 66,000 killed and more than 172,000 wounded in the conflict.

Flip Trihey and The Irish Rangers (of Montreal)

On 2 February 1916, General Order 69 authorized the 55th Regiment “Duchess of Connaught’s Own” Irish Rangers with recruiting starting in mid-March, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

In fact, to help drum up recruits among ethnic Irish in Quebec for the Overseas Battalion, the Montreal St. Patrick’s Society and the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society held a concert for the nascent unit on March 17th. It followed in the wake of the 110th Irish Regiment (now the Irish Regiment of Canada), which had been stood up the year before in Toronto.

Another public draw for recruits was the fact that the unit’s commander was Lt. Col. Henry Judah “Flip” Trihey, O.C., a lawyer and well-known center forward and team captain with the Montreal Shamrocks when they won the Stanley Cup back-to-back at the turn of the century.

Trihey’s name was printed on all of the recruiting posters, and a special “Sportsman’s Company” was raised, drawn from local lacrosse, track and hockey enthusiasts. 

Added to the unit’s leadership was Capt. William James Shaughnessy, the son of Canadian Pacific Railway president, Lord Thomas Shaughnessy, the latter an important donor when it came to funding Canadian units. Lord Shaughnessy had already lost his younger son to the Germans, Alfred, who fell in France with the 60th Battalion just a month after he arrived. 

Group of officers from the Irish Canadian Rangers, May 1916. Trihey and Shaughnessy are up front.

The unit shipped out as the 199th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), aboard the liner/troopship RMS Olympic on 20 December, consisting of 33 officers and 860 enlisted.

Arriving at Liverpool on Boxing Day, the only “service” performed by the unit as a battalion was to take time off of training for a rambling two-month tour of Ireland, where it was used to help drum up additional recruits to “take the King’s shilling” and show goodwill.

Irish-Canadian Rangers in Cork in 1917

Irish Canadian Rangers, O’Connell Bridge, Dublin, 1917.

It should be remembered this was just after the April 1916 “Easter Uprising” and finding either was hard. 

Returning to England, the Irish Rangers were basically dissolved, amalgamated into the 23rd Reserve Battalion, CEF on 11 May 1917, forming the disingenuous 23rd Canadian Reserve Battalion (199th “Duchess of Connaught’s Own” Irish Canadian Rangers), and would never uncase its colors in France. Its men were sent out piecemeal as replacements for other Canadian units on the Western Front, resulting in Triley and several of the other senior officers resigning their commissions in protest.

Officially disbanded on 15 September 1919 and then reborn intermittently as a militia battalion, the unit’s history, along with several others created over the years in “The City of Saints,” is somewhat perpetuated by The Royal Montreal Regiment, whose flag carries 28 Great War, four WWII, and one Afghan battle honor.

As for Trihey, after the war he remained affiliated with assorted Canadian hockey teams and served as Commissioner for the Montreal Harbor Commission, passing in 1942, aged 64. He was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950 and is recognized as “the first man to utilize the three-man line and he also encouraged defencemen to carry the puck.”

Scouting Force

Some of the heaviest of heavy sluggers in the Pacific War were the Pensacola and Northampton classes of heavy “treaty cruisers.” Below is a rare snap of seven of these vessels all in one place at one time, 90 years ago today. Of note, two of the seven were lost in combat during WWII.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph #80-G-451164, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, Oahu, Hawaii – Scouting Force ships at, and off, the yard, 2 February 1933. Cruisers tied up at 1010 Dock are (from left to left-center) heavy cruisers USS Augusta (CA 31), Chicago (CA 29), and Chester (CA 27). USS Northampton (CA 26) is alongside the dock in the center, with USS Kane (DD 235) in the adjacent Marine Railway and USS Fox (DD 234) tied up nearby. USS Louisville (CA 28) is in the center distance. Moored off her bow and at the extreme right are USS Salt Lake City (CA 25) and USS Pensacola (CA 24).

Importantly, note the quartets of floatplanes visible, especially on Augusta and Chicago. Having seven cruisers able to put up to 28 observation/scout planes in the air at any one time gave the fleet some decent over-the-horizon ability, especially in the days before long-range surface search radar. 

At the time these would most likely have been Vought O2U/O3U Corsairs. With a range of 680 miles– giving a combat radius of 300– they could carry a trio of flex and fixed ANM2 Brownings and up to 500 pounds of bombs.

The U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California (USA), in 1931 (looking aft from the top of the forward fire control station). Note the Vought O3U-1 Corsair floatplanes on the catapult deck. Cruisers in the U.S. Navy often carried as many as 5-6 aircraft between on-deck storage and their hangar (NH70721)

USS Northampton (CA-26) at anchor 1930s. Note four floatplanes amidships.

Northampton-class heavy cruiser USS Louisville (CA-28), Pensacola-class heavy cruiser USS Salt Lake City (CA-25), USS Northampton (CA-26), and USS Chicago (CA-29/also Northampton-class) turning in formation to create a slick for landing seaplanes, during exercises off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 31 January 1933. Planes are landing astern of the middle cruisers. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-451165

USS Portland (CA-33) during the fleet review at New York, 31 May 1934, with four floatplanes amidship, likely Vought O3U-1 Corsairs with Grumman floats (Photo: NH 716)

Most famous for knocking the original King Kong off the Empire State Building, the O2U gave the fleet some serious eyes. After 1935, they would be replaced with the Curtiss SOC Seagull, a floatplane with better performance that the cruisers would often use well into WWII. 

Besides scouting, the cruiser force’s floatplanes performed a much unsung service in picking up those lost at sea, light transport of personnel and packages from ship to ship and ship to shore, as well as the all-important task of correcting distant naval gunfire missions.

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023: The Kaiser’s Tin Cans do Broadway

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 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, Jan. 25, 2023: Kaisers Tin Cans do Broadway

Bain News Service collection, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-50381

Above we see, in the summer of 1920 a trio of once-sunk former torpedoboten of the old Kaiserliche Marine, anchored in New York City, from left to right ex-SMS V43, G102, and S132, with the newly commissioned Lapwing-class minesweeper USS Redwing (AM-48) outboard.

A closer look. Note that all the vessels have Union Jacks on their bows, as they are in possession of the Navy if not in direct commission. LC-DIG-ggbain-31137

Check out the inset, showing a little girl playing on G102’s forward 8.8 cm SK L/45 naval gun and her boater hat-wearing father close by. Besides four such guns, the 1,700-ton vessel carried six 19.7-inch torpedo tubes and could make 34 knots on her steam turbines, a speed that is still fast today. Another boater-clad man is inspecting the view from atop her wheelhouse.

German destroyer S132 in possession of the U.S. Navy, showing the mine laying stern. Note the stern of the minesweeper Redwing. LOC

German destroyers G102 and S132 in possession of the U.S. Navy, in 1920 in New York with a great view of Manhattan from the Hudson and the ships’ guns and searchlights. LOC

The vessels had been interned at Scapa Flow by the terms of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, then scuttled by their skeleton crews on 21 June 1919. Saved by the British, who worked quickly to beach these small craft along with a few others, they were turned over to the U.S. as war reparations as part of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1920, along with the German Helgoland class battleship ex-SMS Ostfriesland and the Wiesbaden-class light cruiser ex-SMS Frankfurt.

All five ships saw extensive action with the High Seas Fleet during World War I, including (except for SMS V43) the epic clash at Jutland. That service, while fascinating, is beyond the scope of this post but I encourage you to look into it if curious.

Scuttling of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow: Tug alongside scuttled German destroyer G 102 at Scapa Flow, June 1919. Of the 74 interned German ships at Scapa, 52 were lost– including all three of G102’s sisters– with the remainder saved by the British and divvied up post-Versailles. IWM SP 1631

Turned over to a scratch American crew, they were shepherded across the Atlantic to New York by the minesweepers Redwing and USS Falcon (AM-28).

The German Imperial Navy destroyer SMS G 102 is escorted to a U.S. port by the U.S. Navy minesweeper USS Falcon (AM-28), circa 1920. Note her six assorted torpedo tubes arranged front, aft, and center. NH 45786

Ostfriesland, Capt. J. F. Hellweg (USNA 1900), USN, in command, became the only German-built battleship commissioned into the U.S. Navy on 7 April 1920 at Rosyth, Scotland, and made New York under her own power, where she was decommissioned on 20 September 1920. Hellweg, who had spent his career in surface warfare including service with the Great White Fleet and in Mexico, went on to command the Naval Observatory and was certainly an interesting figure at parties. 

After their summer as “propaganda ships,” the three tin cans were soon stripped at Norfolk and disposed of off Cape Henry, Virginia, at the infamous hands of Billy Mitchell’s land-based aircraft, followed up with a coup de grace on the humble yet still floating 1,100-ton V43 made by assembled American battleships on 15 July 1921.

Via NYT Archives

Direct hit on G102, July 13, 1921. They were sunk during the Billy Mitchell aircraft bombing tests on German and U.S. Navy ships, showing the vulnerability of ships to aerial bombing, on July 18, 1921. Photograph from the William “Billy” Mitchell Collection, U.S. Navy Museum.

Anti-Ship Bombing Demonstration, 1921. Shown: G-102 showing smoke from a direct hit made by SE-5 with a 25-pound TNT-filled fragmentation bomb, June 21, 1921. From the album entitled, “First Provisional Air Brigade, Langley Field, Hampton, Virginia, 1921.” Note her tubes and guns have been removed. From the William Mitchell Collection. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

As for Redwing, she went on to be sheep-dipped and serve in the Coast Guard during Prohibition, then would return to Navy service first on the West Coast in 1929 and then on the East by 1941. Converted to a rescue/salvage ship (ARS-4), she was lost to an Axis mine off the old Vichy French navy base at Bizerte, Tunisia, during WWII on 29 June 1943.


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


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!

Scraping horses

Found this interesting for anyone curious about U.S. Army Great War-era veterinary and farrier services for transport, cavalry, and artillery horses.

22 January 1919, U.S. Army of Occupation in Montabaur, Rhineland, Germany (official caption):

Horses from 1-7th Field Artillery [part of the 1st Infantry Division at the time] being led to “Dipping Vat” constructed by 1st Engineers for the Veterinary Dept. The animals take a plunge in a bath composed of sulfur, lime, carbolic acid, and creosote. The bath is kept at a temperature of 100 degrees fahr. After the plunge, the animals are “scraped.” This is the method of treating these animals for the mange [probably rain rot] and cooties. Horses are bathed at a rate of one a minute.

U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo 111-SC-51250 by SGT J.A. Marshall, via NARA

“Ready to Plunge.” 111-SC-51252 by SGT J.A. Marshall, via NARA

“Scraping Horses.” 111-SC-51251 by SGT J.A. Marshall, via NARA

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023: The Grounded Shrine

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 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, Jan. 11, 2023: The Grounded Shrine

Colorized period photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/, original in Naval Historical Command archives, NH 58997

Above we see the lead ship of her class of Italian-made armored cruisers, HIJMS Kasuga, making a temporary stay in Tsukushi on its way from Yokosuka to Kure, circa 1904 (Meiji 37). Sourced from a cash-strapped Latin American navy while still under construction and named in honor of a famous Shinto shrine in Nara, this cruiser would endure until the final days of the Empire. 

Spaghetti cruisers

Built around the turn of the Century by Gio. Ansaldo & C shipbuilders, Genoa, Italy, as an updated version of the Giuseppe Garibaldi armored cruiser class, the ship that would become Kasuga was designed by Italian naval architect Edoardo Masdea as a vessel only smaller than a 1st-rate (pre-dreadnought) battleship of the era, yet larger and stronger than most cruisers that could oppose it.

The Garibaldi class was innovative (for 1894,) with a 344-foot long/7,200-ton hull capable of making 20 knots and sustaining a range of more than 7,000 nm at 12 when stuffed with enough coal. Although made in Italy, she was almost all-British from her Armstrong batteries to her Bellville boilers, Whitehead torpedoes, and Harvey armor.

Armored with a belt that ran up to 5.9-inches thick, Garibaldi could take hits from faster cruisers and gunboats while being able to dish out punishment from a pair of Elswick (Armstrong) 10-inch guns that no ship smaller than her could absorb. Capable of outrunning larger ships, she also had a quartet of casemate-mounted torpedo tubes and extensive rapid-fire secondary batteries to make life hard on the enemy’s small ships and merchantmen.

These cruisers were designed for power projection on a budget and the Argentine Navy, facing a quiet arms race between Brazil and Chile on each side, needed modern ships. They, therefore, scooped up not only the Garibaldi (commissioned in 1895) but also the follow-on sister ships General Belgrano and General San Martín (built by Orlando of Livorno in 1896) and Genoa-made Pueyrredón (1898) to make a quartet of powerful cruisers. These ships, coupled with a pair of battleships ordered later in the U.S., helped make the Argentine navy for about two decades the eighth most powerful in the world (after the big five European powers, Japan, and the United States), and the largest in Latin America.

The design was well-liked, with Spain moving to buy two (but only taking delivery of one in the end, the ill-fated Cristóbal Colón, which was sunk at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish American War) and Italy electing to purchase five further examples of the type.

Why all the talk about Argentina and Italy?

Well, because Kasuga and her sistership Nisshin were originally ordered by the Italians in 1900 as Roca (#129) and Mitra (Yard #130), respectively, but then sold while still on the ways to Argentina to further flesh out the fleet of that South American country’s naval forces, who dutifully renamed them, respectively, Rivadavia and Mariano Moreno.

At some 8,500 tons (full), these final Garibaldis were 364 feet long overall and were roughly the same speed, and carried the same armor plan (with Terni plate) as their predecessors.

However, they differed in armament, with Mitra/Rivadavia/Kasuga carrying a single 10-inch EOC gun forward and twin 8″/45s aft, while Roca/Moreno/Nisshin carried the twin 8-inchers both forward and aft.

Stern 8"/45 (20.3 cm) turret on armored cruiser Nisshin on 24 October 1908. Ship's officers with USN officers from USS Missouri (B-11) during "Great White Fleet" around the world cruise. Note the landing guns on the upper platform. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 82511.
Stern 8″/45 (20.3 cm) turret on armored cruiser Nisshin on 24 October 1908. Ship’s officers with USN officers from USS Missouri (B-11) during “Great White Fleet” around the world cruise. Note the landing guns on the upper platform. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 82511.

Of note, the same 8-inch EOC guns were also used on other British-built Japanese armored cruisers (Adzuma, Asama, Iwate, Izumo, Tokiwa, and Yakumo) so they weren’t too out of place when Japan took delivery of these ships in 1904 instead of Argentina.

Armstrong 1904 model 20.3 cm 8 inch 45 as installed on Japanese cruisers, including Kasuga

Both Mitra/Rivadavia/Kasuga and Roca/Moreno/Nisshin were launched, fitted out, and ran builders’ trials in Italy under the Argentine flag.

Armada Argentina crucero acorazado ARA Moreno, at 1903 launch. Note Italian and Argentine flags. Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/
Nisshin Running trials under the Argentine flag, probably in late 1903, just before her purchase by the Japanese NH 58664
Running trials under the Argentine flag, probably in late 1903, just before her purchase by the Japanese. The photo is credited to her builder Ansaldo. NH 58665

From the same publication as the photo of Nissen, above, NH 58998


Kasuga (Japanese Armored Cruiser, 1902-1945) Photographed at Genoa, Italy, early in 1904 soon after completion by Ansaldo’s yard there. The lighter alongside the ship carries a warning banner reading “Munizioni”– munitions. Courtesy of Mr. Tom Stribling, 1987. NH 101929

With the Japanese and Imperial Russia circling each other tensely in late 1903, and Argentina not really wanting to take final delivery of these new cruisers, Buenos Aries shopped them to the Tsar’s kopeck-pinching Admiralty only to be rebuffed over the sticker shock, leaving Tokyo to pick them up for £760,000 each– considered a high price at the time but a bargain that the Russians would likely later regret. The Argentines would later reuse the briefly-issued Moreno and Rivadavia names for their matching pair of Massachusetts-built battleships in 1911

With a scratch British/Italian contract delivery crew, Kasuga and Nisshin set sail immediately for the Far East and were already outbound of Singapore by the time the balloon finally went up between the Russians and Japanese in February 1904.

Kasuga in Italian waters, Source l’Illustration dated 16 January 1904

Japanese Crews embarking at Genoa Italy on Kasuga, Source l’Illustration dated 16 January 1904

The sisters were soon in the gun line off Russian-held Port Arthur, lending their fine British-made batteries to reducing that fortress, and took part in both the ineffective Battle of the Yellow Sea in August 1904 (where Nisshin was lightly damaged) and the much more epic Battle of Tsushima in May 1905.

Carrying the flag of VADM Baron Misu Sotarō, Nisshin fired something on the order of 180 heavy shells during Tsushima, exchanging heavy damage with the 15,000-ton Russian battleship Oslyabya and others– taking several 12-inch hits to show for it. The Japanese cruiser had three of her four 8-inch guns sliced off and a number of her crew, including a young Ensign Isoroku Yamamoto, wounded. The future commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II had the index and middle fingers on his left hand shorn off by a splinter, earning him the wardrobe nickname “80 sen” as a manicure cost 10 sen per digit at the time.

The forward gun turret and superstructure of the Japanese armored cruiser Nisshin following the Battle of Tsushima, showing 8-inch guns severed by Russian 12-inch shells

Oslyabya, in turn, was ultimately lost in the course of the battle, taking the Russian Squadron’s second-in-command, Capt. Vladimir Ber, and half of her crew with her to the bottom of the Korea Strait.

Death of the battleship OSLYABYA in the Battle of Tsushima. (by Vasily Katrushenko)

As for Kasuga,, fifth in the line of battle, she would also engage Oslyabya, though not to the extent that her sister did, and would also land hits on the Russian battleships Imperator Nikolai I and Oryol. All told, Kasuga would fire 50 shells from her 10-inch forward mount and twice as many from her stern 8-inchers, in exchange for minor damage from three Russian shells. 

Armoured Cruiser Kasuga pictured post the Battle of Tsushima at Sasebo in May 1905

For both Kasuga and Nisshin, Tsushima was their brightest moment under the Rising Sun.

Kasuga dressed for peacetime flagwaving. NH 58671

Oct.10,1908 : Armored-cruiser Kasuga at Yokosuka.Colorised period photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

Greatly modified in 1914 with Japanese-made Kampon boilers replacing their Italian ones, along with a host of other improvements, Kasuga went on to serve as a destroyer squadron flagship in World War I looking out for German surface raiders and escorting Allied shipping between Australia and Singapore.

On 11 January 1918, some 105 years ago today, Kasuga ran aground in the Bangka Strait off Java in the Dutch East Indies. After much effort, she was eventually refloated in June, repaired, and returned to service. The event mirrored that of one of the Emperor’s other warships, the armored cruiser Asama that embarrassingly ran aground off the Pacific coast of Mexico in 1915 and took two years to free. 

Kasuga later took part in the Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War and would tour the U.S. on a world cruise in 1920, calling in Maine and New York.


Treaty Ship

Disarmed to comply with international naval treaties and largely relegated to training tasks, both Nisshin and Kasuga were put on the sidelines after the Great War, replaced by much better ships in the Japanese battle line.

Armoured Cruiser Kasuga in Japan in the early 1920s graduating cadets

Hulked, Nisshin was eventually disposed of as part of a sinkex in the Inland Sea in 1936, then raised by Shentian Maritime Industry Co., Ltd, patched up and sunk a second time in 1942 during WWII by the new super battleship Yamato, whose 18.1″/45cal Type 94 guns likely made quick work of her.

Kasuga, used as a floating barracks at Yokosuka, was sunk by U.S. carrier aircraft in July 1945 and then later raised and scrapped after the war.

Epilogue

Incidentally, the two Japanese Garibaldis outlasted their Italian sisters, all of which were disposed of by the 1930s. Their everlasting Argentine classmates, however, lingered on until as late as 1954 with the last of their kind, ARA Pueyrredon, ironically being towed to Japan for scrapping that year.

ARA Pueyrredon in Dublin in 1951. At this point this pre-SpanAm War vet was pushing her sixth decade at sea.

Of note, the British 8″/45s EOCs removed from Nisshin, Kasuga and the other Japanese 1900s armored cruisers in the 1920s and 30s were recycled and used as coastal artillery, including four at Tokyo Bay, four at Tarawa (Betio) and another four at Wake Island once it was captured in 1941.

Japanese Special Naval Landing Force troops mount a British-made, Vickers eight-inch naval cannon into its turret on Betio before the battle. This film was developed from a Japanese camera found in the ruins while the battle was still on. Via http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-C-Tarawa/index.html
Destruction of one of the four Japanese eight-inch EOC guns on Betio caused by naval gunfire and airstrikes, 1943. Department of Defense photo (USMC) 63618

While the Japanese have not recycled the name of Kasuga, one of her 10-inch shells, an anchor, and other relics are preserved in and around Tokyo. 

Meanwhile, a builder’s plate that took shrapnel at the Battle of the Yellow Sea is preserved in the Argentine naval museum. 

For those interested, Combrig makes a 1/350 scale model of the class. 

Specs:

Jane’s 1914 entry, listing the class as first-class cruisers

Displacement: 7,700 t (7,578 long tons) std, 8,500 full
Length: 366 ft 7 in (o/a), 357 wl
Beam: 61 ft 5 in
Draft: 24 ft 1 in, 25.5 max
Machinery: (1904)
13,500 ihp, 2 vertical triple-expansion steam engines, 8 Ansaldo marine boilers, 2 shafts
Speed: 20 knots at 14,000 shp, although in practice were limited to 18 at full load.
Range: 5,500 nmi at 10 knots on 1316 tons of coal, typically just 650 carried
Complement: 600 as built, 568 in Japanese service.
Armor: (Terni)
Belt: 2.8–5.9 in
Deck: 0.79–1.57 in
Barbette: 3.9–5.9 in
Conning tower: 5.9 in
Armament:
(1904)
2 twin 8″/45 EOC (classified as Type 41 guns by the Japanese)
14 single QF 6″/45 Armstrong “Z” guns
10 single QF 3″/40 12-pdr Armstrong “N” guns
6 single QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns
2 Maxim machine guns
2 landing howitzers
4 × 457 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes in casemates
(1930)
4 single QF 6″/45 Armstrong “Z” guns
4 single QF 3″/40 12-pdr Armstrong “N” guns
1 single 76/40 AAA

 


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


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, Jan. 4, 2023: Diving the New World

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, Jan. 4, 2023: Diving the New World

Via Peru’s Dirección de Intereses Marítimos which has a great collection of period images from the submarine’s construction digitized. Image 00631-15

Above we see the early French Creusot-built submarine BAP Teniente Ferré of the Peruvian Navy, nestled inside the transport dock ship Kanguroo in the summer of 1912. The first operational diesel-electric boat in Latin America, she was of an interesting design that just screams “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and, while she never saw overt combat, ushered in a long tradition of submarine operations for Peru– one that has lots of ties to the U.S. Navy.

Peru arguably had one of the first attempts at submarine combat in Latin America. The country started off its involvement with subs back in the 1880s when one Federico Blume y Othon came up with a small hand-cranked Toro Submarino submersible equipped with a cable-laid torpedo (more of a mine) that was neat but not successful, although it was an interesting footnote to the War of the Pacific between Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

Fuente: Museo de la Marina de Guerra del Perú, sección de Submarinistas, via Superunda.

Following the wholesale destruction of the Peruvian Navy in the War of the Pacific, the country went into a slow rebuilding process that, by 1904, brought in a French naval mission led by Commander Paul de Marguerye. The Peruvian Naval Academy was stood back up and new, modern warships were ordered from Europe including the scout cruisers BAP Almirante Grau and BAP Coronel Bolognesi (3,100 tons, 24 knots, 2×6″ guns) from Vickers in Britain, the old French armored cruiser Dupuy de Lome (6,300 tons, 20 knots, 2×7.6in, 6×6.4 in guns, launched 1890) which was intended to be brought into service as BAP Comandante Aguirre, and two submarines from Schneider & Cie Le Creusot.

This brings us to Teniente Ferré and her sister, BAP Teniente Palacios, both named for young naval officers killed heroically at the Battle of Angamos in 1879.

Ordered in early 1909, French naval engineer Maxime Laubeuf designed them—the man who had designed France’s first submarines (the Narval and the Aigrette) and was one of the first pioneers to realize that two different propulsion systems (for surfaced running and submerged) were needed for a submarine to be practical.

At 151 feet overall and with a submerged displacement of 440 tons, the Ferres could make 13 knots on the surface with a pair of Schneider-Carels diesels and eight submerged on two electric motors arranged on two shafts. While not huge craft by today’s standards, they were large compared to contemporaries such as the American Holland class (110 tons, 64 feet) and British A-class (200 tons, 105 feet). Further, no country in Latin America at the time had anything comparable.

BAP Teniente Ferré at builder’s yard in France, April 1909. DIM 00750

BAP Teniente Ferré at builder’s yard in France, Oct 1909. Note her bow and inner hull. DIM 00631-07

BAP Teniente Ferré close to launching, noting flags and her very ship-like bow/hull form. Of interest, the two stacks are a breather and exhaust for her diesels as well as each holding a periscope. The class could therefore snorkel while her decks were awash, albeit dangerously. DIM 00631-06-1

When it came to armament, rather than the confusing Drzewiecki drop collar external trapeze framework favored by the French and the Russians at the time, the Peruvian submarines would carry a brace of four forward 450mm torpedo tubes that, if loaded, could have a further four torpedoes stored for a reload inside the hull. There was no provision for a deck gun.

Capable of diving to 100 feet, they carried enough diesel oil to cruise on the surface for 2,000 nm at 10 knots.

BAP Ferre engine compartment, with César A. Valdivieso and David C. Maurer. DIM 00631-04-1

BAP Teniente Ferré test dives off Saint-Mandrier-Sur-Mer near Toulon, the summer of 1912. Note the French ensign. DIM 00631-10-scaled

BAP Teniente Ferré test dive off Saint-Mandrier-Sur-Mer, summer of 1912. DIM 00631-12-scaled

BAP Teniente Ferré test dive off Saint-Mandrier-Sur-Mer, summer of 1912. DIM 00631-11-scaled

The two submarines were completed by early 1911 and it had been decided that the best way to deliver them was via an innovative transport dock, dubbed the aptly named Kanguroo.

Built to another of Laubeuf’s designs, the curious 305-foot, 2,500-ton monster was a simple hermaphrodite steamship built around a central 120,000 cubic foot floodable well deck with watertight doors on its bow that allowed it to carry loads up to 185 feet in length and weighing as much as 3,700 tons– just perfect to carry a submarine on globe-trotting excursions.

Plan and drawing of Kanguroo. Via the 19 July 1912 issue of Engineering.

More on the details of Kanguroo. Via the 19 July 1912 issue of Engineering. “Besides serving for the transport of submarine boats, the main object for which she was built, the Kanguroo is to be utilized also for carrying heavy and bulky loads such as turbines, boilers, and so forth, which can be lowered into the hold amidships after lifting off the movable deck panels which cover it.

Kanguroo was launched by Forges et Chantiers de la Gironde on 12 April 1912 then began loading Ferre on 28 June at Saint-Mandrier-Sur-Mer and departed for Callao with the boat aboard on 30 July.

BAP Teniente Ferré in Kanguroo 19 July 1912 issue of Engineering a

BAP Teniente Ferré in Kanguroo 19 July 1912 issue of Engineering 

Note the cradle to hold Ferre inside Kanguroo. Via the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF)

The bow of Kanguroo had to be disassembled to load and unload floating cargo, a process that took the better part of a week and needed good weather in a sheltered harbor. Via the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF)

Ferre approaching Kanguroo. Via the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF)

Entering Kanguroo’s flooded well deck. Via the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF)

Via the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF)

A Johan and the whale moment. Via the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF)

Via the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF)

She arrived in Peru on 19 October, via São Vicente, Cape Verde, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo, and it took ten full days to disgorge the submarine, as Kanguroo’s bow had to be disassembled for the process.

Freed from her marsupial mothership, Ferre made her first dive in Peruvian waters on 5 November 1912.

BAP Teniente Ferré, including On deck, the engineer David C. Maurer, 2nd Lieutenant Daniel Caballero y Lastres, César A. Valdivieso, and J. Besnard. DIM 00631-03-1

Sobre cubierta el Teniente 2° Daniel Caballero y Lastres y Enrique Mazuré.

Kanguroo would go on to deliver Ferre’s sister ship, Palacios, in 1913, along with the Italian Fiat-built submarine F1 (300 tons, 150 feet oal, 2x450mm TT) to the Brazilian Navy. Ironically, the three Brazilian Fiats were ordered in direct response to the Peruvian boats, which were the first modern submarines operated by a Latin American fleet.

BAP Palacios DIM 00632-01

BAP Palacios DIM 00632-02

Peru BAP Ferre class, 1914 Janes. Note the image is from French trials off Toulon.

Palacios made her first dive in Peruvian waters on 5 November 1913, the first anniversary of Ferre’s inaugural plunge.

With both of Peru’s new subs delivered and operational in home waters, the Great War caught up to them and the French military mission was recalled to take part in the conflict. Likewise, this cut off the supply of spare parts, batteries, and specialized equipment to keep Ferre and her sister working, greatly reducing their time underway throughout the war.

In related news, the old cruiser Dupuy de Lome/BAP Comandante Aguirre would spend the war in French waters and would never actually make it to Peru. Her planned advance crew sailed home on a freighter. 

The most interesting footnote to Ferre’s service was an October 1915 collision with the interned German four-master cargo ship Omega (ex-Drumcliff). While the submarine would limp home with her scopes ripped nearly horizontal for extensive repairs, and Omega was later taken into service with the Peruvian Navy as a training ship, it was as close as Ferre would come to combat. 

Omega as Drumcliff, circa late 1880s. She would go on to be operated by Reederei Hamburger AG under a German flag until 1918 when the Peruvian Navy seized her to serve as a schoolship. Sold in 1926 to the Compañía Administradora del Guano in Callao, she would operate until 1958 when she was wrecked– at the time, the last tall ship in the guano trade. State Library of Victoria image SLV H99.220-2845

Ferre and Palacios would linger in their limited service until 1921 when they were ordered disarmed and subsequently disposed of. 

Epilogue

Ferre and Palacios would be remembered in a series of maritime art and postage stamps in their home country throughout the years. 

As for Kanguroo, the submarine-carrying dock ship, requisitioned by the French Navy at the outbreak of the Great War, she was torpedoed and sank at Madeira’s Funchal Roads on 3 December 1916 alongside the French gunboat Surprise (680 tons) and the elderly British cable layer SS Dacia (1,850 tons), by the famed U-boat ace Max Valentiner aboard U-38, who then leisurely bombarded the city’s submarine cable station and the electricity generators for two hours.

These exploits earned KptLt Valentiner the Blue Max, only the sixth U-boat commander awarded the Pour le Mérite.

Kanguroo (foreground) sinking, 3 December 1916, via the Museu de Fotografia da Maderia

Meanwhile, Ferre and Palacios would be far from the last Peruvian submarines.

To replace the two cranky French boats, the country ordered a quartet of gently larger U.S.-made vessels, sparking a long run of close U.S-Peruvian submarine partnerships. Those four 187-foot R-class submarines— BAP Islay (R-1), BAP Casma (R-2), BAP Pacocha (R-3), and BAP Arica (R-4)— were ordered from the Electric Boat Company in Connecticut, and delivered in the mid-1920s.

The four Peruvian R-class subs. Built during Prohibition in Connecticut, they remained with the fleet until 1960

Carrying four torpedo tubes, these diesel-electric subs were involved in both the Colombian-Peruvian War and Peruvian-Ecuadorian War before being upgraded back at Groton to extend their life after WWII, at which point they were probably the last 1920s-era diesel boats still in front-line service. 

The crew of the Peruvian submarine R-2 in Newport, Rhode Island on October 26, 1926.

Peruvian submarine R-1 in Newport, RI, United States, in 1926.

Peru R class submarines BAP R-4, BAP R-3, BAP R-2, and BAP R-1. The photograph was taken before 1950 at the Callao Naval Base

Of note, the U.S. Navy used some 27 R-class boats of their own.

R-1 Class (Peruvian Submarine) Caption: Two of four ships, R-1 to R-4, were built in the U.S. in 1926-28 and scrapped in 1960. Probably photographed in the 1950s. Description: Courtesy Dr. R. L. Scheina. Catalog #: NH 87842

To replace these were four more Electric Boat-produced modified U.S. Mackerel-class submarines ordered in 1953. Termed the Abtao-class in service, the quartet– BAP Lobo/Dos de Mayo (SS-41, BAP Tiburon/Abato (SS-42), BAP Atun/Angamos (SS-43), and BAP Merlin/Iquique (SS-44)— remained operational in one form or another into 1998.

Peru then picked up a pair of aging U.S. Balao-class diesel boats in 1974–  BAP Pabellón de Pica/La Pedrera (SS-49), ex-USS Sea Poacher (SS/AGSS-406) and BAP Pacocha (SS-48), ex- USS Atule (SS-403)— which they kept in service as late as 1995.

BAP Dos de Mayo, Peruvian submarine

Peru has since acquired six German-built Type 209 (1100 and 1200 series) boats, commissioned starting in 1974:

BAP Angamos (SS-31)
BAP Antofagasta (SS-32)
BAP Arica (SS-36)
BAP Chipana (SS-34)
BAP Islay (SS-35)
BAP Pisagua (SS-33)

The evolution looks like this, including the domestic design, two French boats, 10 American boats, and six German boats, spanning from 1880:

And have effectively been the U.S. Navy’s designated West Coast SSK OPFOR team for the past twenty years. 

Peruvian Type 209s have deployed to Naval Base Point Loma as part of the Diesel-Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI) program no less than 18 times since 2001, typically a 2-3 month deployment that sees the submarino both serve as a “target” for ASW forces and work alongside surface assets to better interoperate in multi-national task forces.

“Each year, Submarine Squadron 11 looks forward to DESI and we are thrilled this year to be working with our Peruvian counterpart,” said Capt. Patrick Friedman, CSS-11 in 2019. “By having an SSK operate and train with us, it allows us to practice on a platform that has a similar signature to our adversaries. Not to mention, there is a great deal of diplomatic goodwill that is fostered through these engagements.”

140923-N-ZF498-067 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sep. 23, 2014) Peruvian submarine BAP Islay (SS-35) pulls alongside the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Islay participated in a maneuvering exercise with Theodore Roosevelt, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston Churchill (DDG 81), USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), and USS Farragut (DDG 99). Theodore Roosevelt is currently out to sea preparing for future deployments. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Seaman Anthony N. Hilkowski/Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 1, 2019) An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter from the Magicians of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 conducts a hoist exercise with the Peruvian navy submarine BAP Angamos (SS-31) off the coast of San Clemente Island. HSM-35 is conducting antisubmarine warfare training to maintain readiness by utilizing a live submarine. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick W. Menah Jr./Released)


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


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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.

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

Skol!

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.

Epilogue

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?

Specs

Displacement:
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
Armament:
(1918)

(1940)
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
soul.


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Kilts & Pipes

These two images of Scottish regiments on deployment, some 105 years apart, seemed very appropriate in a “the more things change” kinda way.

Circa Christmas 1917 card, depicting kilt-clad Highlanders in the trench with the modern accouterments of war to include SMLE 303 rifles, a Vickers gun, and tin plate helmets. The green color of the tartan and the thistle would suggest they are of the London Scottish or perhaps a reserve battalion of the Gordon Highlanders.

Pipers, deployed to the trenches with the anti-tank company from 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, as part of NATO Battle Group Estonia, mixing old with new, December 2022.

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