About Yamashita’s “surrender”

Via the Philippine News Agency:

The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) wants erroneous entries on the supposed “surrender” of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita corrected using an original document from soldiers on the battlefield during World War II.

“[General Tomoyuki] Yamashita did not surrender, he was captured by the operatives from the USAFIP-NL (United States Armed Forces in the Philippines-Northern Luzon),” retired Maj. Gen. Restituto Aguilar, chief of the Veterans Memorial and Historical Division of the PVAO, said in an interview.

The USAFIP-NL was a scratch-built force of five Filipino infantry regiments and a field artillery battalion, consisting of roughly 20,000 men with a handful of American officers for liaison and tactical control.

American instructor, with M1 carbine, stands with Filipino guerillas after they were refitted upon making contact with the US Army in 1945 armed with M1 carbines and M1A1 Tommy Guns. They were to become USAFIP troops. 

Commanded by Col. Russell W. Volckmann, U.S. Army, USAFIP-NL was formed from guerillas who fought against the Japanese occupation, and, according to the PVAO, the force, under the U.S. 6th Army, beat the last of Yamashita’s men to ground, capturing the general, who was later turned over to the Americans in Kiangan. The next day, he was flown to Baguio to formally surrender and the Allies later executed the infamous “Tiger of Malaya” for war crimes.

All that is remembered by the history books is the Kiangan-Baguio action, not the initial capture by the Filipino troops. 

A minor point of history, but one that is strongly felt among the country’s remaining 4,000 WWII vets and their families.

Remembering Thresher

Via the U.S. Naval Institute

On this day in 1963, 129 men were lost when the USS Thresher (SSN-593) sank during deep-dive tests in the Atlantic Ocean. After hearing about the disaster, the young son of skipper CDR John Harvey made this crayon drawing of the sub lying on the ocean floor.

The drawing is now in the collection of the U.S. Navy Museum in Washington, D.C.

100 Years Ago Today: Ishar Singh, VC

Via Under Every Leaf:

War Office, 25th November 1921.

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned: —

No. 1012 Sepoy Ishar Singh, 28th Punjabis, Indian Army

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 10th April, 1921, near Haidari Kach (Waziristan). When the convoy protection troops were attacked, this Sepoy was No. l of a Lewis Gun- Section. Early in the action he received a very severe gunshot wound in the chest, and fell beside his Lewis gun. Hand-to-hand fighting having commenced, the British officer, Indian officer, and all the Havildars of his company were either killed or wounded, and his Lewis gun was seized by the enemy.

Calling up two other men he got up, charged the enemy, recovered the Lewis gun, and, although, bleeding profusely, again got the gun into action.

When his Jemadar arrived he took the gun from Sepoy Ishar Singh, and ordered him to go back and have his wound dressed.

Instead of doing this the Sepoy went to the medical officer, and was of great assistance in pointing out where the wounded were, and in carrying water to them. He made innumerable journeys to the river and back for this purpose. On one occasion, when the enemy fire was very heavy, he took the rifle of a wounded man and helped to keep down the fire. On another occasion he stood in front of the medical officer who was dressing, a wounded man, thus shielding him with his body. It was over three hours before he finally submitted to be evacuated, being then too weak from loss of blood to object.

His gallantry and devotion to duty were beyond praise. His conduct inspired all who saw him.

Never Underestimate Determined Ersatz AAA

With this month being the 39th anniversary of the Falkland Island dustup, it is worth mentioning small arms vs modern combat jets. The Fuerza Aerea Argentina (FAA) and Comando de Aviacion Naval Argentina (CANA) flew several makes of then-top-notch aircraft, including Mirage IIIs, IAI Daggers, A-4 Skyhawks, and Super Etendard as well as some locally-made prop-driven COIN aircraft (Pucaras) and helicopters.

Argentine Mirage attacks San Carlos Harbor Falklands 1982

Argentine Mirage V passes between British ships after a bombing run during the Falklands War, 1982

To defeat the onslaught of these aircraft, often flown by fearless crews at wave- and hill-top level at the end of their endurance, the Brits had what was seen at the time as some of the best SAMs available— shore-based Rapiers, Blowpipe and Stinger MANPADS, as well as a phalanx of ship-based Sea Wolf, Sea Dart, Sea Slug, and Sea Cat.

The problem was, most of the British missile defenses proved ineffective against the collection of 140 Argentine tactical aircraft, leaving the 34 overworked Royal Navy and Air Force Harriers to do much of the heavy lifting over the battleground in combat air patrols. Of the 45 Argentine aircraft destroyed in the air, Harriers accounted for 20-21, the vaunted Rapier claimed only a single aircraft, Sea Dart 7, Sea Wolf 4, the older Sea Cat system one, Blowpipe/Stinger 3, friendly fire 2, and small arms gunfire at least 5– making humble machine guns and rifles almost as effective as the best SAM system used. Of course, most of this was due to the low-level nature of the Argentine strikes, but hitting a jet moving at 500+ knots as it screams overhead is no easy feat.

British soldier aboard the HMS Canberra waiting for an Argentine air attack with his FN MAG. Falklands War, 1982 IWM

THE FALKLANDS CONFLICT, APRIL – JUNE 1982 (FKD 933) A Gurkha of 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles mans a 7.62 mm Machine Guns on an anti-aircraft mounting as a defense against Argentine air attack, probably in the Bluff Cove area. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205190393

Of the gunfire shootdowns, two were helicopters (Pumas) forced to set down after being hit, another was a Pucara downed by paratroopers at Goose Green, an A-4 shot down by small arms fire from the landing ship HMS Fearless (L10), and a further Sky Hawk splashed by an eyeball-directed manned 20mm Oerlikon cannon from the frigate HMS Antelope (F170).

Likewise, there were other Argentine jets that made it back home carrying 7.62 bullet holes as a souvenir of their time over the Falklands.

Argentine Mirage hit by 7.62 NATO round while over San Carlos. 

If you happen to be Bored…

…And looking for some naval scholarship, check out the latest issue of Warship International (Vol. 58) published by the International Naval Research Organization. In its pages, you will find a 23-page article covering the ships and boats that took part in the 1909 Hudson-Fulton exhibition’s naval celebration in New York.

Written by yours truly!

I should tell you though that it is part two of a two but relax, the first part (29-page) was already published in Vol. 49, which is available on JSTOR. Incidentally, all INRO members can read old issues of Warship International going back to the 1960s via JSTOR as part of their membership. Food for thought.

Surplus Tin Cans of Asia

It always seemed that America’s former SEATO and ROK allies were always particularly adept at keeping weary second-hand escort vessels in service long past their prime. For instance, the Philipines are just now retiring PCEs meant for wartime (WWII) service only.

Besides front-line vessels, these seagoing nations have likewise kept said escorts around as well-maintained museums. This brings us to a pair of stories from the Pacific of old museum ships being turned back over to their respective governments as, due to COVID restrictions, are unable to remain fiscally viable with lower numbers of visitors.

In Thailand, the “70 years old” Knox-class destroyer escorts/fast frigates HTMS Phutthayotfa Chulalok (FFG-461), ex-USS Truett (FF-1095); and HTMS Phutthaloetla Naphalai (FFG-462), exUSS Ouellet (FF-1077), were only recently decommissioned in 2017 after two decades of service with first the U.S. Navy and then the Thai fleet. After a few years of touring the coast as roaming (self-propelled?) museums– an interesting idea–, they are now looking at being scrapped or reefed.

They still look pretty good, too.

Decommissioned frigates HTMS ‘Phutthayotfa Chulalok’ (FFG-461) and HTMS ‘Phutthaloetla Naphalai’ (FFG-462) are being used as floating museums and for excursions off the Sattahip coast in Chon Buri. Apichit Jinakul/Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, in South Korea, two ships, the Gearing-class destroyer ROKS Jeonbuk (DD-916), ex-USS Everett F. Larson (DD/DDR 830); and landing ship ROKS Suyeong, ex-USS Kane County (LST-853), have been returned to that country’s navy after the regional authorities that they had been loaned to as museums could no longer justify keeping them around.

DD-916 JeonBuk of the South Korean Navy which was transferred from the US Navy in 1972. DD-916 was originally DD-830 USS Everett F. Larson, via Wiki commons.

Importantly, Suyeong/Kane County saw WWII service in the Marianas, Philippines, and Okinawa, earning a battle star; while Jeonbuk/Larson spent 30 years with the U.S. Navy in a variety of tasks including helping to deep-six 26 captured IJN submarines in 1946.

So long, Bonnie Dick

Finally, in some semi-related stateside disposal news, the gutted hulk that is the planned lightning carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (LHD-6) is set to formally hold a decommissioning ceremony on April 14, 2021, in San Diego, California.

200712-N-MJ716-0498 SAN DIEGO (July 12, 2020) “A fire continues to be fought into the evening on board the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at Naval Base San Diego, July 12. On the morning of July 12, a fire was called away aboard the ship while it was moored pier side at Naval Base San Diego. Base and shipboard firefighters responded to the fire. Bonhomme Richard is going through a maintenance availability, which began in 2018.” (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Haist/Released)

“Following the removal of equipment and dismantlement of systems and components for other ships, USS Bonhomme Richard will be towed to Galveston, Texas for dismantlement,” says ESG-3.

If Only FN Made a 509-series Longslide. Oh, Wait

Earlier this year, FN released the Model 509 LS Edge, with the “LS” referring to the extended 5-inch barrel and corresponding lengthened slide. Optics-ready for just about every micro red dot on the market, it has a lot going on.

Due to the lightening cuts in the slide and polymer frame, the FN 509 Edge LS is the same size as an M1911 but, loaded with 18 rounds of 147-grain 9mm and topped with a Leupold Delta Point Pro, it weighs just 36 ounces.

I’ve been kicking the tires on one for a minute. Check out my initial thoughts after the jump.

57-Year Old SSBN Finally Retires

Long the last remaining boat of her class still afloat, the Moored Training Ship Sam Rayburn (MTS 635) was originally commissioned 2 December 1964 as SSBN-635, part of the James Madison-class of Cold War-era fleet ballistic missile (FBM) submarines.

USS Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) c. 1964, with her missile hatches showing their “billiard ball” livery

A member of the famed “41 for Freedom” boats rushed into service to be the big stick of mutually assured destruction against the Soviets, Rayburn was named for the quiet but determined WWII/Korea War speaker of the House, Samuel Taliaferro Rayburn.

After carrying Polaris SLBMs on a rotating series of deterrent patrols from the East Coast and Rota, Spain, Rayburn had her missile compartment removed in 1985 as part of the SALT II treaty and decommissioned, transitioning to her role as an MTS.In the meantime, all of her sisters were disposed of through recycling by 2000, leaving Rayburn to linger on in her training role. Similarly, MTS Daniel Webster (MTS-626), originally a Lafayette-class FBM decommissioned in 1990, has been in the same tasking.

However, all things eventually end. As the MTS role is now transitioning to a pair of recently sidelined 1970s-construction Los Angeles-class attack boats– La Jolla (SSN/MTS 701) and San Francisco (SSN/MTS 711)Webster and Rayburn are ready for razorblades.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) recently welcomed the Rayburn in advance of her inactivation, from where she will be towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for recycling

Navy Photo 210405-N-XX785-003 by Danny De Angelis

USS Sam Rayburn has proudly served the U.S. Submarine Force and Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program since 1964, and we now welcome it to America’s Shipyard,” said Shipyard Commander Captain Dianna Wolfson. “Performing the first inactivation of a Moored Training Ship will develop another important facet in our service to the Fleet, and we look forward to excelling in our mission as one team.”

Catalinas of Rio

Drink in this great original Kodachrome of U.S. Navy and Brazilian Air Force (Força Aerea Brasileira – FAB) officers inspect a flight line of depth-charge equipped Brazilian Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina flying boats during graduation exercises of a Brazilian Air Force patrol squadron trained by the U.S. Navy, circa early 1945.

National Archives and Records Administration, 80-G-K-5258

Note Brazilian markings on the plane, whose wing shows signs of a party painted-out U.S. markings and that the Catalina closest to the camera still carries the name “Bettye Jayne” above its Brazilian star roundel.

From June 1942 onward, the U.S. Navy was busy running anti-submarine sweeps off the South Atlantic from Brazil during the war. Catalinas and later PB2Y Coronados of VP-74 flew from the Naval Air Station at Natal, Brazil while VPB-145 and VP-94 had PBY5A dets from both Belem and Wideawake Field on Ascension Island until discontinued in April 1945, losing one plane and crew in an accident.

PBYs in flight over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 80-G-59581

During this period, the Navy turned Catalinas to the Brazilians, who trained alongside the American naval aviators and ground crew.

A Brazilian Air Force PBY Squadron’s officers sit on the wing of one of the IR PBY CATALINA Aircraft, circa 1945. They are being trained by U. S. Navy pilots. (National Archives)

One, Arará, was credited with sinking a German Type IXD2 U-Boat, U-199.

U-199 under attack by Brazilian Air Force PBY Catalina, notice the “short” conning tower of an early type IX D2. Brazillian Air Force – Diretoria do Patrimônio Histórico e Documentação da Marinha (DPHDM) and Instituto Histórico-Cultural da Aeronáutica (INCAER)

Brazilian Catalina PBY-5 Arará attacking the U-199 off Rio de Janeiro Reproduction painting by Álvaro Martins.

Post-war, the Brazilians would keep some, flying them in the Amazon basin, and sell others to domestic airlines Panair do Brasil and Cruzeiro for use as sea-air taxis.

Augmented by retired Canadian models, Brazil was the last country to keep the type operational, with the FAB only retiring the Catalina in 1982– more than 25 years after the USN moved on. Today, two (ex-USN BuNo 46643 and ex RCAF Canadian Canso A 9752) are preserved in Brazilian museums.

Warship Wednesday, April 7, 2021: The Curious Confederate of Barcelona

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, April 7, 2021: The Curious Confederate of Barcelona

Here we see the Spanish bark-rigged screw steam corvette (corbeta) Tornado as she sits high in the water late in her career in the port of Barcelona, circa the 1900s. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, but she had one of the most (in)famous sisterships in 19th Century naval history and would dip her hand in a bit of infamy of her own.

In 1862, as the Confederate Navy was scrambling for warships of any kind, Lt. George T. Sinclair, CSN, was dispatched to Britain to work with CDR James Dunwoody Bulloch, the Confederacy’s chief foreign agent in Liverpool, to acquire a humdinger of a commerce raider. Coupled with a scheme to trade bulk cotton carried by blockade-runners out of Rebel ports for English credit and pounds sterling, Bulloch during the war had paid for the covert construction and purchase of the commerce raiders CSS Alabama and CSS Shenandoah as well as the less well-known CSS Florida.

CSS Alabama enters Table Bay at 10:00 AM August 5, 1863. She is increasing speed to capture the Sea Bride before she can escape to within one league of S.African territorial waters. This painting was commissioned by Ken Sheppard of South Africa. Via the CSS Alabama Assoc

Many consider the vessel that Sinclair and Bulloch ordered, which was drawn to a variant of the plans for the CSS Alabama, to be sort of a “Super Alabama.” Whereas the ‘Bama ran 220-feet overall and light with a 17-foot depth of hold and 1,050-ton displacement, her successor would be 231-feet and run 1,600 tons with larger engines and a battery of three 8-inch pivot guns (Alabama only had a single 8-inch pivot) and a 5-gun broadside.

When completed and armed, the Super Alabama was to take on the identity of the CSS Texas. However, to keep the construction secret, Bulloch arranged with the Clydebank firm of James and George Thomson of Glasgow to build her as a clipper under the name of Canton, then later Pampero, ostensibly for the Turkish Government, with an expected delivery date of October 1863.

Launched but lacking a crew, the English government was pressured after Thomas H. Dudley, United States Consul in Liverpool, discovered a near twin of the CSS Alabama was in the final stages of construction, and by late November a British man-o-war was anchored alongside the “Pampero.” On 10 December 1863, the yard’s owners and the ship’s agents were charged with violations of the Foreign Enlistment Act, wrapping the vessel up in legal proceedings for the rest of the war.

Drawing of the ‘Pampero’ published in The Illustrated London News 1864

In October 1865, six months after Lee surrendered at Appomattox but while the CSS Shenandoah was still raiding Yankee whalers in the Pacific, the Canton/Pampero/Texas was awarded to the bearers of the cotton bonds issued by Bulloch and company that had been used to finance the vessel then sold to the shipping firm of Galbraith & Denny.

The thing is, all the fast ships in European ports that could mount a hastily installed armament were at that time being bought up by the Empire of Spain or the Republic of Chile, who were engaged in a war in the Pacific. The Chilean agents, led by an interesting fellow by the name of Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, beat the Spanish to the punch and bought Pampero for £75,000 in February 1866, with the vessel soon entered on the Chilean naval list as the corvette Tornado, subsequently sailing for Hamburg.

Over the next several months, the Spanish played a cat-and-mouse game as the Tornado and a second ship with a similar backstory, the corvette Abtao (former CSS Cyclone) attempted to be armed and outfitted, moving around European ports just one step ahead of their pursuers.

By the evening of 22 August, the Spanish 1st class steam frigate Gerona (48 guns), caught up with the unarmed Tornado at Madeira off the Portuguese coast and, after a short pursuit and four warning shots, the Chilean vessel, helmed by retired RN officer Edward Montgomery Collier, struck its flag.

Ángel Cortellini Sánchez ‘s “Captura de la corbeta de hélice Tornado por la fragata de hélice Gerona”, 1881, via Museo Naval de Madrid 

With the Armada Española

The next day, Tornado sailed for Cadiz with a prize crew and soon joined the Spanish fleet. After taking part in the September 1868 naval revolt, the vessel was dispatched to service in Havana in 1870. There, she was involved in the so-called Virginius affair in 1873.

For those not aware, Virginius had an interesting Confederate connection to Tornado, being built originally in Glasgow as a blockade runner then surviving the war and being used briefly by the Revenue Cutter Service.

VIRGINIUS (Merchant steamer, 1864-1873) Built in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1864 as a blockade runner. 1864-1867: SS VIRGIN; 1867-1870: U.S. revenue cutter VIRGIN; 1870-1873: SS VIRGINIUS. For more data, see Erik Heyl, Early American Steamers, vol. I. Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1951. NH 63845

For three years starting in 1870, Virginius was used to run rebels under Cuban insurgent Gen. Manuel Quesada from the U.S. to the Spanish colony, with the somewhat tacit blind-eye and occasional support of the U.S. Navy. In October 1873, the steamer, skippered by Captain Joseph Fry, (USNA 1846, ex-USN, ex-CSN) and with a mixed British and American crew, was carrying 103 armed Cuban rebels when Tornado encountered her six miles off the Cuban coast.

Pursuit of Virginius by the Spanish gunboat Tornado, October 30, 1873.

Spanish man-of-war Tornado chasing the American steamer Virginius nypl.digitalcollections

1873 el Virginius, pirata estadounidense, es abordado por la corbeta española Tornado

The resulting chase and one-sided battle were short, with Fry striking his flag and Virginius sailed to Santiago de Cuba under armed guard.

There, the Spanish treated the crew and the insurgents as outlaws and pirates, executing 53 against the wall at the Santiago slaughterhouse, including Fry and the teenage son of Quesada, the lurid details of which were well-publicized by the press in the states, souring the relations between Washington and Madrid and pouring the foundation for the Spanish-American War.

Moving past Virginius

As for Tornado, she continued to serve the Spanish fleet for generations.

In 1878, she and the cruiser Jorge Juan stalked the pirate ship Montezuma, a mail steamer that had been taken by mutineers and Cuban rebels who turned to privateer against the Spanish. After a pursuit that spanned the Caribbean, Tornado found the Montezuma burned in Nicaragua.

Returning to Spain in 1879, Tornado was used as a training ship taking part in several lengthy summer cruises around the Med for the next few years, including escorting King Alphonso XII. By 1886, the aging bark was disarmed and used at Cartagena as a torpedo school for the rest of the century.

Home for boys

In 1900, Tornado was moved to Barcelona and assigned a new task– that of being a floating schoolship and barracks for orphan lads whose fathers had been lost at Manila Bay, Manzanillo, San Juan, and Santiago against the Americans. Remember, while U.S. naval historian largely covers these engagements as a tactical walkover and highlights Dewey, Sampson, and Schley as heroes, they left thousands of homes back in Spain missing a father.

Museu Maritim de Barcelona: The Tornado’s orphan cadets

Tornado would remain in Barcelona, moving past the education of the sons of 1898 to taking in general orphans and those of lost mariners and fishermen. Enduring well into the Spanish Civil War, she was sent to the bottom on 28 November 1938 by an air raid from Nationalist forces. Her wreck was scrapped in 1940.

Today, the Museu Maritim de Barcelona has her name board, recovered from the harbor in 1940, on display.

Via Museu Maritim de Barcelona

She is also remembered in a variety of maritime art.

Via Museu Maritim de Barcelona

For more on the Tornado, please read, “The Capture of Tornado: The History of a Diplomatic Dispute,” by Alejandro Anca Alamillo, Warship International, Vol. 45, No. 1 (2008), pp. 65-77. Keep in mind that old issues of WI are available on JSTOR to which access is open to INRO members.

Specs:
Displacement: 2,100 tons
Length: 231 ft
Beam: 33 ft
Draft: 16 ft
Machinery: Four boilers, 328 hp steam engine, one prop
Speed: 14 knots
Range: 1,700 miles
Complement: 202 men
Armament: (Spanish 1870)
1 × 7.8 in Parrott gun
2 × 160/15 cal gun
2 × 5 in bronze gun
2 × 3″/24 cal Hontoria breechloading guns

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