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Sherman was right, 1945 revisit

Here we see a P-47N Thunderbolt of the 7th AAF’s 19th Fighter Squadron, 318th Fighter Group, at Ie Shima Airfield on Ryukyu Retto, Okinawa on 7 July 1945, with an M2 machine-gun-armed M3 half-track on anti-paratrooper/banzai defense.

Photo 65093AC

Notably, the “Jug” (S/N 44-88104) is named “Sherman Was Right” (which was apparently a popular name for AAF fighters in both theaters of the war).

AC45606

The reference is likely an ode to the Union General’s 1879 ” war is Hell!” speech to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy.

Of course, you could also argue that sections of Sherman’s well known, “War is a Terrible Thing” rant from the eve of the Civil War referencing the South’s slim likelihood of victory in the coming fracas between the states as a direct allegory to Japan’s own chances of winning the Pacific War.

That quote, below:

“You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization!

You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it.

Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail.

Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.”

~William Tecumseh Sherman, December 24, 1860.”

That’s a lot of DUKWs

The popular tourist trap, Ride the Ducks of Seattle, recently filed for bankruptcy after a high-profile 2015 fatal bridge accident with one of their vehicles resulted in a $123 million jury award.

With that being said, they have a collection of more than a dozen vintage DUKW amphibious vehicles up for liquidation in an online auction that runs until the 8th. Several of the vehicles are 1944-45 vintage GMCs and Sparkmans.

More details, here. 

The wings of butterfly, or historical absurdity, or the new normal

In logical reaction to police brutality in Minnesota captured in an iPhone snuff film, Loreal is deleting the word “whitening” from its marketing but will surely still sell the same fish oil under a different name, cartoon characters have vanished like commissars in Stalinist photographs, and episodes of already dated sitcoms are being memory-holed from their streaming service time capsules.

Meanwhile, statues of everyone from Francis Scott Key– whose virtually unknown ditty could be replaced by a hippy song that came from the Yoko-era– to a Norwegian abolitionist who died trying to end slavery have been toppled.

In the latest episode of waking from the slumber of a lack of awareness to scrub something away that is now problematic, the historic 327-foot Secretary-class gunboat/high endurance cutter USCGC Taney (WPG/WHEC-37), known to many as the “Queen of the Sea,” has been quietly renamed, her stern nameplate torched off and her signage and gangplank fabric removed from where she sits as a museum ship in Baltimore.

Living Classrooms Board of Trustees, who controls Historic Ships Baltimore, voted over the weekend to change Taney’s name to Thurgood Marshall.

As a background, the vessel was named for Roger Brooke Taney, a controversial figure and racist by today’s standards who, besides serving as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of War and Attorney General, also filled in for “Old Hickory” as his Treasury Secretary– which is why the cutter was named after him, as the class of seven 327-foot cutters were all named for previous Revenue Service bosses (Bibb, Campbell, Duane, Alexander Hamilton, Ingham, Spencer, Taney), a department the USCG belonged to until 1967. Further, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service had named a previous ship “Taney” in the 1830s, arguing that it was a historic ship name to one degree or another.

By all means, Taney the man is seen as unredeemable today, delivering the majority opinion in the Dred Scott case and penning some other very tough-to-read thoughts that no one in the past half-century has entertained as being acceptable.

Should the 1930s USCG have named their new vessel after him? Probably not, even by the standards of that era, but nonetheless they did and USCGC Taney went on to deliver tremendous service to the country.

She was at Pearl Harbor and Midway then escorted convoys across the Atlantic before coming back to the Pacific where she served as an amphibious command ship off Okinawa, ending WWII in Japanese Home Waters.

Taney at Pearl Harbor

USS Taney, CG (WPG-37) Taney, 327-foot Coast Guard combat cutter, is shown here wearing battle gray while on convoy escort duty in the Atlantic

A few years later she put on her war paint once again for Korea.

Not to be deterred, she continued to serve in the post-war Coast Guard, saving lives, delivering the rule of law across marine fisheries, combatting smugglers, and manning isolated ocean stations for the sake of the greater good. Oh yeah, and doing the whole Cold War thing, too.

Taney maintains surveillance of the Soviet refrigerator vessel Chernjakhovsk off northern California in May of 1965.

She went on to fire 3,400 rounds in NGFS in Vietnam while her crew assisted 6,000 souls ashore in civil support.

Thousands of men, and in her latter days, women, walked her decks and risked their lives against all manner of enemies both two-legged and sent by Poseidon. They did so for their shipmates and their country, not to honor Andrew Jackson’s T-SEC.

None of her crew ever met the man. Honestly, most probably never read the first word of any of his legal opinions or speeches. Nonetheless, they are now deemed guilty of Dred Scot-by-proxy by people who know nothing of their sacrifice.

While the oldest ship in the fleet in 1984, the Coast Guard filmed a recruiting commercial partially on her deck– narrated by James Earl Jones– highlighting diversity in the service.

After 50 years of service, Cutter Taney decommissioned on 7 December 1986– the 45th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack– and by Act of Congress was turned over to the city of Baltimore, Maryland–Roger Brooke Taney’s hometown, for use as a museum ship, and as such was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

No one could argue that Thurgood Marshall was not “a colossus of U.S. history.” First appointed to the federal bench by President John F. Kennedy– a Navy man– Marshall came to the court after arguing cases such as Brown v Education before the nation’s high court, which in many ways helped move civil rights forward for the nation. However, while Marshall is interred at Arlington due to his service as a jurist and in the early 1950s investigated charges of racism in the United States armed forces, he was not a military man and had no connection to the Coast Guard, Navy or the cutter that is preserved in Baltimore that now bears his name in retirement. About his closest tie to the sea service was that one of his grandfathers, Isaiah Olive Branch Williams, volunteered and served aboard the brig USS Santiago de Cuba during the Civil War and the frigate USS Powhatan after.

In the end, should the historic vessel have its name– from a man that is now considered despicable but nonetheless one that was carried into battle across three wars– erased from history and replaced with one of a man who, although a hero, never had a connection to said vessel, to atone for the nation’s guilt when it comes to race relations?

As noted by Jay Sea Archeology on the very subject of the Taney’s name :

A ship and more importantly, its crew makes her own history and being a ship, a form of transportation, makes it part of the context of larger world history. The vessel is preserved because of her own history and not that of her namesake and continues to educate to this day. This ship is not something to condemn, its something to be proud of.

But then again, I guess none of that matters anymore.

Some 500 people, many former crewmates, have signed a petition against the move. 

Insert random George Orwell quote here __

Well-Holstered Hussars

The below image shows Maj. A. D’Arcy Marks and Capt. A. Brandon Conron of the Canadian 6th Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars) (6 CAR), posed in front of an M4A2 Sherman medium tank near Colomby-sur-Thaon, France, 28 June 1944 in the push out from Normandy.

Note the tracks on the front of the Sherman. Photo by Ken Bell, Library and Archives Canada

Marks has what appears to be a Browning Hi-Power (or M1911?) in a very interesting holster that appears to be a British Pattern 37 flap holster that has been partially cutaway. Conron, meanwhile, is well-outfitted with a revolver rig that includes not only spare rounds but also a cleaning rod in the holster.

As for the 1st Hussars, formed in 1856, they served overseas with distinction in the Great War, earning honors at Vimy Ridge. They returned to France in 1944, landing at Juno Beach where they were “the only unit of the Allied invasion forces known to reach its final objective on D-Day,” which certainly lived up to their motto of Hodie non cars, (Today not tomorrow).

Still part of the Canadian Forces Reserve, they are currently stationed at London, Ontario as part of the 31 Canadian Brigade Group.

Coming in hot

Low-level pass of a captured Messerschmitt Me 262 flown by an American pilot in front of General Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, commander of Strategic Air Forces in Europe, 27 June 1945, 75 years ago today.

Nicknamed Schwalbe (Swallow), the German jet fighter was first introduced to combat in June 1944, almost a year before VE-Day. Although almost 1,500 were produced and Luffwaffle fighter jocks claimed 500~ air-to-air victories while flying them, mostly against Allied bombers, it was just too little too late and about a third were lost on the ground or to RAF Spitfires and USAAF P-51s, who were still superior to the Schwalbe in dogfights.

Only about a dozen exist around the world today, typically captured aircraft that, like the one above, were tested by the Allies seeking lessons in the next generation of fighters such as the F-86.

Come get that Army History Magazine

The Army History Magazine Summer 2020 edition (No.116) is available for free download and the 60-page journal includes a great article on Merrill’s Marauders in Burma as well as the U.S. and Allied Military Relations in World War I.

Click to access AH116.pdf

Army History Magazine is published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History and they have all of their past issues, going back to 1983, online in pdf format.

Enjoy!

Warship Wednesday, June 24, 2020: ‘You are the most beautiful ship in the world’

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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, June 24, 2020: ‘You are the most beautiful ship in the world’

Photo via the Marina Militare

Here we see the Italian Navy’s historic nave scuola (training ship) Amerigo Vespucci (A5312) during the vessel’s 1992 at-sea campaign, specifically the Colombiadi, a Tall Ship regatta organized on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Pushing almost a full century in service, the Vespucci is most assuredly “old school.”

Designed in 1925 for the old Royal Italian Navy, the Regia Marina, Vespucci was to replace the aging Flavio Gioia-class incrociatore (cruiser) of the same name. The former Amerigo Vespucci, a 2,750-ton iron-hulled steam barque carried 13 guns and was laid down in 1879, the first such Italian warship named in honor of the 15th Century explorer who figured out the American continent was, in fact, not Asia.

The Regia Marina’s first Amerigo Vespucci, shown here in 1903 while ranked as a corvette, served from 1882 until 1928, first as the fleet flagship, then a solid 26-years as a training ship for the students of the Royal Naval Academy, the Accademia Navale in Livorno.

The new Vespucci was designed by Francesco Rotundi as was her near-sister, the slightly larger Cristoforo Colombo, taking pains to model them on the old Sicilian (Sardinian) Navy’s 84-gun ship-of-the-line Re Galantuomo (Monarca), a key vessel in 19th Century Italian naval lore. If Rotundi’s name rings a bell, he was the naval engineer who drew up the plans for the interwar modernization of the WWI-era Caio Duilio– and Conte di Cavour-class dreadnoughts as well as the construction of the new Littorio/Vittorio Veneto-class fast battleships.

Some 329-feet in length over the bowsprit, Vespucci’s main mast towered 177 feet into the air and, when fully rigged, she carried more than 20 holona canvas sails. While she had two white-painted “gun decks” fitted with more than 200 portholes rather than cannon ports, she was completed only with saluting guns and a few vintage black powder display pieces. She carries a life-size figurehead of the ship’s namesake explorer in golden bronze, has teak decks, and ornate embellishments from her bow to stern, some covered in gold foil.

In a nod to 20th Century shipbuilding techniques, her hull, masts, and yards were steel (although her tops are wood) and the vessel was designed from the start with an “iron topsail,” an auxiliary diesel-electric plant of two 6-cylinder FIAT Q 426 engines coupled with a pair of dynamos to supply electricity for her radios, navaids, loudspeakers, sounding gear and lights. The electricity in turn could also be used to spin up a pair of Marelii motors on a single shaft– good for up to 10.5 knots. She carried enough diesel to cruise 5,400 nm at a breathtaking 6-knots without breaking out the first sheet.

Launch of Amerigo Vespucci

Built at the Royal Shipyard of Castellammare di Stabia, Vespucci was commissioned as part of the Divisione Navi Scolastiche (School Ships Division) on 6 June 1931, joining her sister Cristoforo Colombo with the task of training Italian naval cadets.

La navi scuola Vespucci (left) e Colombo (right) all’ancora a La Spezia, 1935 (Archivio storico Marina Militare)

Italian Sail Training ships- AMERIGO VESPUCCI and CRISTOFORO COLOMBO. Italy, Circa 1936. NH 111394

Vespucci sailed on her first annual training cruise, to Northern Europe, late in the summer of 1931. As noted by the Italian Navy, “from 1931 to 2006 the Amerigo Vespucci performed 79 training cruises for the 1st Class Cadets of the Naval Academy: 42 in North Europe, 23 in the Mediterranean, 4 in the Eastern Atlantic, 7 in North America and 1 in South America within the only circumnavigation of the globe carried out between May 2002 and September 2003.”

While not a warship in the traditional sense of the term, Vespucci and her sister trained the officers that manned Italy’s battleships and cruisers in a series of surface actions throughout the first few years of WWII, as well as many of the young gentlemen of the Italian submarine force and Decima MAS who wreaked havoc on the British fleet during the conflict.

As for the tall ships, however, they spent the war on training missions close to shore at Pula and, gratefully, survived to come through the other side.

The Regia Marina training ship Amerigo Vespucci repaired in the port of Brindisi following the armistice of 8 September 1943.

Once the war was over, and the Allies began carving away the most choice cuts of the old Italian fleet in 1949, Cristoforo Colombo was awarded to the Soviets along with the old battleship Giulio Cesare, the cruiser Duc’a De Aosta, two destroyers, three torpedo boats, two submarines, and assorted auxiliaries for a token fee. Colombo was renamed Dunaj (Danube) and worked with the Red Navy’s Black Sea Fleet for a decade.

Arriving in Odessa, 1949, former COLOMBO, soon to be named DUNAJ

Falling into disrepair in the 1960s after Colombo was handed over to the merchant marine school at Odessa, the graceful Italian tall ship was slowly dismantled by 1971.

Meanwhile, Vespucci returned to service with the reformed (i.e. non “Royal”) Italian Marina Militare. She resumed her overseas training cruises in 1951, equipped this time with a modest armament of four American-supplied 3″/50 guns and a single 20mm cannon to provide the ship’s cadets with some underway ordnance training.

Amerigo Vespucci in Rotterdam, Bestanddeelnr 912-9445

Playing a role in the XVII Olympiad, held in Rome that year, she transported the Olympic flame from Greece to Italy, an important healing moment between the two countries a generation after WWII. Vespucci, placed at the disposal of the Games’ Organizing Committee, embarked the flame on 13 August at Zeas with the torch carried aboard by an Italian naval cadet in a whaleboat and, sailing across the Ionian Sea, arrived at Syracuse on the 18th.

According to legend, while sailing in the Med in the 1960s, the 80,000-ton Forrestal-class supercarrier USS Independence, on a deployment with the Sixth Fleet duty in support of President John F. Kennedy’s firm stand on the newly-established Berlin Wall, came across a strange tall ship at sea. The carrier flashed the vessel, Vespucci, with the light signal asking, “Who are you?” The answer, “Training ship Amerigo Vespucci, Italian Navy,” came back. Independence was said to have replied, “You are the most beautiful ship in the world.”

AMERIGO VESPUCCI Italian Training Ship, Sails past USS INDEPENDENCE (CVA-62) in the Mediterranean, 12 July 1962. The Navy later used this image on recruiting posters and advertising in the 1960s and 70s. USN 1061621

In 1964, she was extensively refitted at La Spezia, given new engines, generators, radars, rigging, and refurbished below deck areas.

Afterward, she became increasingly visible overseas, taking part in international tall ship events in 1976, 1981, 1985, and 1986, crossing the Atlantic at least twice in that period.

The Italian cruiser Garibaldi (C551) passing Vespucci off Naples, 1968

Photograph of the Italian vessel Amerigo Vespucci visiting Finland 25 Aug 1965. By Pentti Koskinen, Finnish archives

Amerigo Vespucci (Italy) in New York Harbor during OpSail 76. Photo by Marc Rochkind via Wiki Commons

A U.S. Navy Lockheed P-3B-95-LO Orion (BuNo 154576) from Patrol Squadron VP-23 Seahawks flying over the Italian Naval Academy sailing ship Amerigo Vespucci in 1976. The P-3B 154576 was later sold to Norway. U.S. Navy photo by PH1 R.W. Beno, U.S. Navy. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation No. 2004.NAI.055.001

A port beam view of the Italian training ship AMERIGO VESPUCCI (A 5312) in New York harbor during the International Naval Review, 7/4/1986 NARA DNST8701314

Today, Vespucci is only armed with two 6-pounder saluting guns in pivot mountings on the deck, forward of the mainmast, although her small arms locker is interesting and recent pictures show that she still carries at least two-dozen WWII-era Beretta MAB38/42 submachine guns, used by her ship’s watch.

Further, she is still hard at work at age 89, very much a part of the Italian fleet.

Luigi Durand de la Penne (ex-Animoso) destroyer and the training ship Amerigo Vespucci both of the Italian navy.

The Alpino FREMM frigate docked near the Amerigo Vespucci training ship. Italian Navy, 2018.

Specs:

1:84 scale model of Italian training ship Amerigo Vespucci at the Hamburg IMMM

Displacement:
4,146 t (4,081 long tons) full load (DWT)
3,410 t (3,360 long tons) gross tonnage
1,203 t (1,184 long tons) net tonnage
Length:
329 ft 9 in LOA including bowsprit
270 ft overall, hull
229.5 ft pp
Beam: 51. ft
Height: 177.2 ft
Draught: 22 ft
Sail Rig: (original) 21 sails, 22,600 sq. ft. of canvas
(current) Up to 26 sails, 28,360 sq. ft.
Propulsion: Two 6-cylinder FIAT Q 426 engines, Two Marelli motors, 1,900 shp 1 shaft (1931),
Two 4-stroke, 8-cylinder FIAT B 308 ESS diesel engines (1964)
Engineering (since 2016)
2 × diesel engine generator MTU 12VM33F2, 1,824 bhp each
2 × diesel engines generator MTU 8VM23F2, 1,020 bhp each
1 × Electrical Propulsion Engine (MEP) ex Ansaldo Sistemi Industriali (NIDEC ASI) CR1000Y8 (1,010 bhp)
Speed:
Sails, 10 to 15 knots
Engines, 10 knots
Sensors: 2 × navigation radars GEM Elettronica AN/SPN-753(V)5, current
Complement: Up to 470
15 officers
64 NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers)
185 sailors
130 Naval Academy Cadets and Support Staff (when embarked)
Armament:
(1951)
4 x 3″/50cal singles
1 x 20mm cannon
(Today)
Small arms, saluting guns

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 am a member, so should you be!

Why hello there, ELCO

Lt. John F. Kennedy’s PT-59, photographed in an unspecified location near Vella Lavella and Choiseul, played a key role in the diversionary mission at Choiseul Island in early November 1943. Note the shielded 40mm Bofors on her stern and broadside .50-cals. (John F. Kennedy Library)

In case you haven’t seen it, USS PT-59, an S-Class (ELCO) Patrol Torpedo boat originally intended for Lend-Lease to the British in World War II (as PTC-27) she was instead placed in U.S. service.

Deployed to the Solomons with MTBRon 3(2) in 1943, the 77-foot PT boat in 1943 landed her torpedoes and gained an all-gun armament including two 40mm guns (fore and aft singles) and no less than 10 M2 .50 cal machine guns, used to help stop the regular “Tokyo Express” at Guadalcanal.

One of her skippers was a young JFK after he was recovered from the much more famous PT-109.

While Kennedy’s life is well-chronicled, PT-59, reclassified as C102584, was transported back to the Motor Torpedo Boat Training Base in Rhode Island in late 1944. Used for tests at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, she was sold in 1947 on the private market and, after a mixed career, sank at a pier adjacent to the 207th Street railroad bridge in Harlem following a fire around 1976.

Now, what is left of her wreck (she was of wooden construction after all) has been identified and is being raised by MTA crews.

Historians at the Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts, home of the USS Massachusetts (BB-59) and the National PT Boat Memorial and Museum, are assisting with the efforts to preserve what is left.

From the Museum:

Battleship Cove was contacted by NY MTA regarding the possible salvaging of a PT boat. We sent a team of volunteers to identify and remove items from PT-59s remains to save as much as we could for display and preservation in our extensive PT Boat exhibit. For the most part, all that remained of PT-59 in 2020 was the very lower portions of the engine room and lazarette areas. Some of the wood even at this lower level presents burn marks from the fire.

The enclosed circle in red shows the main sections of the boat that we have recovered for preservation. It is only a small section of the 77′ boat but also an original section as she was built.

We are still working on this project with more hull section recovery planned.

We feel this completely volunteer-led project is worthwhile. To save historic items from a very early combat veteran PT Boat is of great importance. Add to it that President JFK turned the helm to move the rudders and shafts that are being recovered is a bonus for history.

To donate to the effort, click here. 

Lighting Up the Cagayan Valley, 75 Years Ago

Here we see an M1 (M114) 155mm howitzer firing in the Cagayan Valley, some 75 years ago today.

Original Signal Corps Number: SWPA-SigC-45-19514. Photographer: T/5 Jime Harvey NARA 111-SC-209341

Original Caption: “Jap(anese) are pounded hourly by harassing fire from 155mm Howitzers of Battery C – 80th Field Artillery Battalion on the night of June 22nd in the Cagayan Valley, Northern Luzon, Philippine Islands, 6th Army.

Commanded for most of the campaign by Prussian-born Gen. Walter Krueger– who emigrated to the U.S. with his family at age eight and later fought in the Philippines in the 1900s as a private in the 12th INF Rgt — the U.S. 6th Army would slug it out across Northern Luzon against Lt. Gen. Tomoyuku Yamashita’s 14th Area Army until after the official surrender in Tokyo.

In this push, the U.S. was aided by elements American-supported Filipino soldiers including several divisions of reorganized guerrillas– who received fires support from U.S. air and artillery assets.

Happy Father’s Day, Gentlemen

“His seven sons hoist father Clarence F. Patten, F1c, USN, into the air, onboard USS NEVADA (BB-36), following his enlistment into the Navy, 9 September 1941. Present are (left-right): Myrne, Ray, Allen, father, Bruce, Gilbert, Marvin, and Clarence, Jr. All were members of NEVADA’s crew.”

NH 45468

Notably, the above happy image was in peacetime and less than three months away from the Infamous Day that brought lasting sadness to Battleship Row.

Nevada, the only dreadnought to get underway during the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December and ended the morning run aground on the Navy Yard side of the channel off Hospital Point, just south of Ford Island, lost 57 officers and men of her 1,500 man crew that day and over 100 more were wounded.

Amazingly, the list of the fallen that day does not contain a single “Patten.”

Hold your family close, gentlemen.

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