Friday, November 30, 2018

Fort Wood in New York Harbor During WW II

I have been writing about this fort in my Not So Forgotten: War of 1812 blog.  Today, Fort Wood is the base of the Statue of Liberty.

From FortWiki.

After WW I,  troops from it guarded and patrolled New York Harbor.  In 1924, the Statue of Liberty and Fort Wood were declared a National Monument and in 1933 they were transferred to the National Park Service.

The U.S. Army abandoned the post in 1937.

During World War II, the Coast Guard maintained an observation station on the old Fort Wood  statue base and after the war, the remaining military buildings were torn down.


USS Liscome Bay-- Part 3: The Torpedo Hit the Bomb Magazine

On 23 November 1943, the Japanese submarine I-175 arrived off Makin.  The U.S. Task Force built around Rear Admiral Henry M. Mullinnix's three escort carriers:  Liscome Bay, Coral Sea and Corregidor,  was steaming 20 miles  southwest of Butaritari Island at 15 knots.

At 04:30 24 November, reveille sounded on the Liscome Bay.  Flight quarters sounded 04:50 and crew to routine general quarters at 05:05.  Flight crews began preparing their planes for dawn launching.  Thirteen planes had been readied on the flight deck, including one on the catapult.   They had all been  fueled and armed.

Since this was the Liscome Bay's first operation since leaving Pearl Harbor, she still had her full amount of fuel and bombs.  And, there were a lot of  big bombs on board as well as depth charges and torpedoes.

At about 05:10, a lookout on the starboard side of the ship reported a torpedo headed for the ship.  It struck behind the engine room and detonated the bomb magazine causing a devastating explosion that engulfed the whole ship.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

USS Liscome Bay-- Part 2: Capturing Tarawa

Length  498 feet  65 foot beam  (108 foot flight deck)

Crew 910 officers and men

Carried 27 aircraft.

After training exercises along U.S. West Coast departed from San Diego on 21 October 1843 and arrived in Pearl Harbor a week later.  After more drills and operational exercises, she left on her first and last combat mission.  Departed Pearl Harbor on 10 November as part of Task Force 52, commanded by Rear Admiral Richmond K. Turner headed for the Gilbert Islands.

This attack was the first major U.S. thrust into the Central Pacific and began on 20 November.  Just 76 hours later, Tarawa and Makin islands were taken.  The Liscome Bay, however, did not take part in it.

With the islands taken, naval forces began retiring from the area.



Monday, November 26, 2018

USS Liscome Bay (ACV/CVE- 56)-- Part 1: Operation Galvanic

From Wikipedia.

Was a Casablanca-class  escort aircraft carrier during World War I.  It was named for  Liscome Bay on Dall Island in Alaska.  the ship was lost in a torpedo attack by the Japanese submarine I-175 during Operation Galvanic (of which the Battle of Tarawa was part), with a catastrophic loss of life, on November 24, 1943.

So, we are at the 75th anniversary of the sad event.

I'd never heard of this ship so am doing some research.  This would be an excellent vessel to locate with all the ones being found in the Pacific Theater these days.

It was laid down on December 9, 1942, by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company in Vancouver, Washington and launched  April 18, 1943.  It was commissioned by the Navy on August 7, 1943.


A Nurse on Leave in 1943

From the August 15, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Lieut. Alta Wiley, A.N.C. who has been visiting relatives the past week, will leave for Douglas Air Field, Ariz. at the end of her fifteen-day leave.

"Lieut. Wiley id the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs.  R.V. Wiley and the niece of Mrs.  Clarence Mahin and Mary and Louise Barron."


Friday, November 23, 2018

75th Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Tarawa Today

At 5:10 on November 23, 1943,  one of the 17 aircraft carriers involved in the battle, the USS Liscome Bay (ACV-CVE-56) an escort carrier was sunk by the Japanese submarine I-175 with a huge loss of life.

The loss of life was 687.

I have seen sources that say it sank on November 23 and other sources say November 24.  Not sure which one.

Fighting on the island of Betio was essentially cleanup with very high Japanese casualties on this date.

America paid a big price in casualties, but the island was ours.


"Bloody, Bloody Tarawa-- Part 7: A Learning Process

Even with the heavy casualties and miscalculations, American forces inflicted a tremendous amount of casualties on the Japanese defenders on Tarawa.  A total of 4,836 Japanese troops died, with only 17 survivors.

The lessons learned at Tarawa were applied to later invasions of the Marshall Islands at the beginning of 1944.  The Navy and Marine Corps were better prepared by having "improved naval gunfire and air support, ...waterproof radios and underwater demolition teams," as well as more amphibious landing vehicles and flamethrower tanks.

This would prove to be vital for Allied success in later Pacific battles.

"Tarawa doesn't get the respect that Iwo Jima, Okinawa or other Pacific battles get, but, in my opinion, it is right up there with them," said Annette Amerman.  "It was a smaller and shorter battle, but it was just as crucial as the alter fights in the war."


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

75th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Battle of Tarawa Today

Seventy-five years ago today, Marines stormed ashore on the small Pacific atoll called Tarawa on the island of Betio and met huge Japanese resistance and turned it into "Bloody, Bloody Tarawa."

The battle lasted three days and was the first U.S. offensive in the central Pacific.  Previous landings had met little or no resistance.  This one certainly did not.

Of the 4,000 plus Japanese garrison, just 17 were captured.  the rest died.  Of 18,000 Marines, there were 1,009 killed, 2,101 wounded.  Total American casualties were 1,966 killed and 2,101 wounded.

On November 23, the USS Liscome Bay was sunk with 687 killed.

Like They Said, "Bloody, Bloody Tarawa."  --GreGen

"Bloody, Bloody Tarawa"-- Part 6: Reasons For the Heavy U.S. Casualties

The reasons for the heavy casualties on Tarawa have much to do with the planning and execution of the invasion.

For starters, the Americans counted on a tide of at least four feet to allow the assault vehicles to cross the several hundred yard reef before reaching the shore on Betio.  But, Betio was at neap (an especially low) tide, landing craft were unable to make it to shore on the first day of battle.  Marines had to wade through the ocean water -- many were wounded or killed before making it to the beach.

Another issue for the Navy and marines involved in the battle was timing of attacks.  Many of the radios during the opening of the battle were damaged by water and enemy fire.  Because of severe limitation to communications, many units did not know about last minute changes to H-Hour, or the designated time when the assault would begin.

Rough seas and a long run from the Navy ships to the beach caused delays.  The time of attack was postponed twice, but many Marines did not receive the news because of communication failures.


Monday, November 19, 2018

"Bloody, Bloody Tarawa"-- Part 5: U.S. Public Shocked By Motion Picture

According to Annette Amerman, the Battle of Tarawa gets its notorious reputation because it was the first Marine Corps battle to be captured on motion picture -- something that was frequently seen in later battles and wars.

"Americans saw dead Marines in the beach of Tarawa, and it was very shocking to them," Amerman said.    "Everyone had already heard the term 'war is hell,' but they saw it first hand thanks to that film.

Indeed, the Navy and Marine Corps suffered very many casualties during this short battle.  Some 1,085 men were killed and 2,292 wounded in action.  Even more shocking is that those numbers are our of only 5,600 Americans in the battle.


"Bloody, Bloody Tarawa"-- Part 4: Never In a 100 Years

Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of this battle.

One of the people who believed it would be impossible for Tarawa to fall was Japanese Rear Admiral Meichi Shibasaki, the island's commander, who said "a million Americans" wouldn't be able to take Tarawa in "100 years."  He was wrong, the United States captured it in 76 hours.

Retired Marine Corps Col. Joseph Alexander wrote in his book "Across the Reef: The Marine Assault of Tarawa that Shibasali's thoughts were forgivable and that the island was "the most heavily defended atoll that ever would be invaded by Allied forces in the Pacific."


Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Bloody, Bloody Tarawa"-- Part 3: The Japanese Were Ready

The Battle of Tarawa was the first major American offensive in the central Pacific.  Until then, Americans didn't face mush opposition during amphibious assaults.  Previous landings had met little or no hostile action.  But Tarawa was to be different.

The initial landings of the 2nd Marine Division met with heavy Japanese resistance right away.  The Japanese troops on Betio were also equipped with 8-inch, turret-mounted naval rifled guns as well as coast defense, anti-aircraft, anti-boat field artillery guns and howitzers.  They also had many kinds of light tanks and other weapons.  These soldiers were ready for anything the Americans might bring against them.

Americans had never met this kind of opposition before.

"Tarawa was a bloody, bloody battle," said Annette Amerman, a historian with the Marine Corps History Department in Quantico, Virginia.  Nit only was it an exceedingly hard-fought battle, but in reality, the Marines probably should not have been able to take the island. "There are people who argue that Tarawa should never have been taken.""


"Bloody, Bloody" Tarawa-- Part 2: In the Gilbert Islands

The November 1943 invasion of the Gilbert islands was the beginning of the U.S. "Island-Hopping" Campaign in the central Pacific during World War II.  U.S. commanders determined that amphibious attacks on Japanese-occupied islands was key to victory.

And, not every island would have to be attacked.  We would chose principal ones and skip others.

The island of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands was the first target of the American campaign.

Tarawa is located about 80 nautical miles from the equator and is the largest atoll in the Gilbert Islands which is a 16-island chain roughly halfway between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea.  The Japanese had seized it from the British a few days after the their attack on Pearl Harbor.

Tarawa's main island, Betio, was the target if the Navy and Marine Corps.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Bloody, Bloody" Tarawa-- Part 1: 75th Anniversary This Month

From the November-December 2018 VFW Magazine by Dave Spiva.

November 20 marks 75 years since the American assault against Japanese forces on Tarawa in World War II.

The victory on this central Pacific island came at a high cost for the Marines.  Mistakes were made but lessons learned.  These proved invaluable in later amphibious assaults in the "Island-Hopping" Campaign.


New Scrap Drive Flag Hoisted Over Court House in Sycamore in 1943

From the May 2, 2019, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Without the standard awarded by the country for the successful scrap drive, which has been practically destroyed by the storms and wind, the court house was flying a new United States flag and it is a far prettier sight than the old one that was removed and burned.

"The scrap drive award flag was ruined and destroyed."

So, if your county had a successful scrap drive it would get a U.S. flag.  This flag was flown over the DeKalb County Court House in Sycamore, Illinois.

Gather A Lot of Scrap, Get A New Flag.  --GreGen

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Someone Goes for a Joyride in 1943

From the July 18, 2018, MidWeek  :Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Early this afternoon the Charles Bradt car, taken during the night, was recovered about a block from his home.  The gasoline supply was nearly exhausted indicating that those who had taken the car had driven it a considerable distance before deserting it on the nearby street."

And, remember, there was gas rationing going on.

Joyriding During the War?  --GreGen

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Case of the Drunk Soldier in DeKalb

From the July 18, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"A soldier on his way west was taken from a bus yesterday afternoon by the DeKalb police and taken to the station and held until he sobered up.

"The driver of the bus had asked that he be removed."


Monday, November 12, 2018

No. 8 Group RAF-- Part 3: Heavy Losses During the War

Continued from Friday.

There were initially five squadrons in Group 8, but that was expanded to 19.  No. 8 Force was also responsible for  the Light Night Striking Force which used Mosquito bombers and harassing Germany.

The Force was disbanded 15 December 1945.  However, in 1943, members got patches with the inscription "We Guide To Strike."

Most of the Pathfinder Forces (PFF) were members of the Royal Air Force, but there were also members from Commonwealth countries.

The PFF flew a total of 50,490 individual sorties against some 3,440 targets.  It was at a big cost, though.  At least 3,727 members lost their lives.


It's Threshing Time in DeKalb County in 1943

From the August 8, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Threshing crews are in vogue this week, and many 'rigs"  as the farmers designate them, are in operation in all parts of the county.

"The oats were cut and shocked  through the cooperative aid of the United States Employment Agency in conjunction with the California Packing corporation and much of the work was completed in time."

This U.S. Employment Agency may have been referring to the War Manpower Commission.

Food for the War Effort.  --GreGen

Sunday, November 11, 2018

"The War To End All Wars" Ends and Veterans Day Today

On this date, at 11 a.m., the guns along the Western Front ceased firing, marking the end of "The War To End All Wars."  Sadly, this was not the last war.

But, anyway, the bloodiest war in the annals of human history ended and everyone was happy.

Today, we still commemorate Armistice Day, though we call it Veterans Day.

In a short time, Liz and I will be going to the train station in Fox Lake, Illinois, for the observance of this special day.

If You See a Vet Today, Definitely Thank Them.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

"No Smarter, Handier, or More Adaptable" USMC

The U.S. Marines have their roots in the Continental Marines of the American Revolution, formed 243 Years ago by a resolution of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775.

"I am convinced that there are no smarter, handier, or more adaptable body of troops in the world."

Prime Minister of Britain Winston Churchill speaking about the USMC.


Friday, November 9, 2018

No. 8 Group RAF-- Part 2: Using Oboe, Gee and H2S

It was a key component of the Bomber Command.  It consisted of specialist squadrons that marked targets for the main targets of Bomber Command aircraft.

The Force, which had been formed in August 1943 with five squadrons flying a mix of Short Stirlings, Handley Page Halifaxes, Avro Lancasters and Vickers Wellingtons.

Whenever new improved aircraft became available, like the de Havilland Mosquito,  8 Group got the first ones.  Its aircraft used  advanced navigation aids like Gee, H2S and Oboe to find targets of attack more accurately than the main force of bombers could do on their own by eye.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

No. 8 Group RAF-- Part 1: In Both World Wars

From Wikipedia.

The No. 8 Group RAF (Royal Air Force) existed in the final year of the First World War and during the Second World War.

During the First World War it was formed in April 1918 as a training unit and designated  as 8 Group (Training).  It remained  at this for the remainder of the war and was disbanded May 1919.


The group was re-established as No. 8 (Bomber) Group on 1 September 1941 only to be disbanded  around five months later on 28 January 1942.

However, 8 Group was re-constituted when Bomber  Command's Pathfinder Force was redesignated No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group on 8 January 1943.


We Guide To Strike-- Part 2: Marked the Targets

The Pathfinder force was able to penetrate the industrial pollution with aircraft equipped with the blind-bombing device known as Oboe.  This technology afforded them the ability to seek out targets regardless of weather conditions and to illuminate desired areas with brilliant target markers which reflected back up from the ground through the haze.

The application of the crew's precise identification of the target locations enabled  the following bomber strikes to be  incisively accurate.

That's why "We Guide To Strike" is the motto of the No. 8 Pathfinder Force Group.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"We Guide To Strike"-- Part 1: 156 Squadron Pathfinder Force

From the Paralyzed Veterans of America 2018 Calendar Heroes of the Air.  With another amazing painting by Aviation Artist Gil Cohen.

November 2018.

You see five British RAF men at a high altitude, four working with instruments and one flying the plane.

Here, a Lancaster of 156 Squadron Pathfinder Force, flying ahead of the main force of bombers, makes a run over its target in the heavily defended German industrial Ruhr Valley.

The Ruhr, the greatest industrial area in all of Germany, was the most heavily defended target in the world.  The Ruhr Valley was almost always covered by an almost permanent  smoke-haze from the factories, which made visual pin-pointing of towns below nearly impossible at night.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

USS Abner Read-- Part 2: Operations Before the Mine Explosion

After a shakedown cruise along the California coast in April 1943, the Read left for the Aleutian Islands and started patrolling May 5.  On 11 May, she shelled Japanese positions on Attu Island supporting a U.S. landing on the island.  She again shelled the island May 16, before returning to California at the end of the month.

Two weeks in drydock  and returned to the Aleutians in June and began patrolling off Japanese-occupied Kiska  On 22 July 1943, the Read joined a general fleet bombardment of Kiska in Operation Cottage where a joint American-Canadian landed only to find the Japanese had withdrawn their troops.


Friday, November 2, 2018

The USS Abner Read Named After A Civil War Union Naval Officer

From Wikipedia.

Abner Read (5 April 1821 to 7 July 1863)

An officer in the U.S. Navy who distinguished himself during the Civil War.

He died of injuries sustained while patrolling the Mississippi River in command of the USS New London.

At the time of his death he had attained the rank of lieutenant commander.

The destroyers USS Abner Read (DD-526) and USS Abner Read (DD-769) were named after him.

The DD-769 was a Gearing-class destroyer laid down during World War II but never completed.

I will be writing about Abner Read in my Running the Blockade: Civil War Navy blog.


USS Abner Read (DD-526)-- Part 1: Fletcher-Class Destroyer

From Wikipedia.

The USS Abner Read was a Fletcher-class destroyer named after Lieutenant Commander  Abner Read (1820-1863) who died in the Civil War.  It saw action in the Aleutian Islands Campaign where its stern was blown off by a Japanese mine in 1943.

After repairs, she returned to service and was involved in the New Guinea Campaign and the Battle of Leyte.  She was sunk off Leyte in 1944.

Built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding  Corporation of San Francisco.  Laid down 30 October 1941, launched 18 August 1842 and commissioned 5 February 1943.  Commander Thomas Burrowes commanding.

376.6 feet long, 39.8 foot beam, 336 crew, Five 5-inch guns, 17 AA guns, ten torpedo tubes,  six depth charge projectors and two depth charge racks.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

USS Abner Read Stern Found-- Part 8: Found Proof

The multi-beam sonar scans of the flat sea floor west of Kiska on July 17 had quickly picked up an object.

The scientist sent down an underwater robot with cameras, and there, looming in the dim light, was the encrusted profile of the Abner Read's sunken five-inch gun.

Said Andrew Pietruzka, lead archaeologist:  "It's like scoring a touchdown.  You see it  come on the screen, and the whole room goes pretty nuts."

"It's a very humbling experience,"  he said.  To be part of, even without the recovery of these remains, (something where) families can find some solace that somebody found where their loved one is, that you.can put that to rest."