Yale Professor Awarded Hattendorf Prize

 NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Nov. 20, 2014) U.S. Naval War College (NWC) president Rear Adm. P. Gardner Howe III and NWC professor John B. Hattendorf present Yale University professor Paul M. Kennedy the Hattendorf Prize for Distinguished Original Research in Maritime History, Nov. 20, at Yale. First awarded in 2011, the prize is made to an individual who has made world-class achievement in original research, contributing to a deeper historical understanding of the broad context and interrelationships involved in the roles, contributions, limitations and uses of the sea services in history. (Courtesy photo)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Nov. 20, 2014) U.S. Naval War College (NWC) president Rear Adm. P. Gardner Howe III and NWC professor John B. Hattendorf present Yale University professor Paul M. Kennedy the Hattendorf Prize for Distinguished Original Research in Maritime History, Nov. 20, at Yale. First awarded in 2011, the prize is made to an individual who has made world-class achievement in original research, contributing to a deeper historical understanding of the broad context and interrelationships involved in the roles, contributions, limitations and uses of the sea services in history. (Courtesy photo)

From Naval War College Museum
Dec. 4, 2014

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Paul M. Kennedy, the J. Richardson Dilworth professor of history at Yale University, was presented the Hattendorf Prize for Distinguished Original Research in Maritime History by U.S. Naval War College (NWC) president Rear Adm. P. Gardner Howe III, Nov. 20, at Yale.

The ceremony, attended by NWC professor John B. Hattendorf, for whom the prize is named, took place during Kennedy’s military history class in Luce Hall Auditorium, where Hattendorf provided a guest lecture on “Sea Power since 1945.”

In presenting the award, Howe recognized Kennedy for his innovative and wide-ranging approach to the writing of naval history, inspiring scholars to examine the importance of sea power and shaping the course of international history.

“This impressive body of historical scholarship has influenced the work not only of other historians, but a much wider audience,” said Howe. “By breaking down barriers to interdisciplinary study, by integrating a wide range of knowledge, and by making a contribution to policy discussions, your works have themselves become prizes for us to read.”

Kennedy has written compelling narratives that show the interrelationship of sea power and land power, technological innovation and naval warfare, economic wherewithal and naval strength, and grand strategy and high politics.

Howe emphasized that the award honors both Kennedy and his work, expressing appreciation for distinguished academic research, insight and writing that contributes to a deeper understanding of the influence of sea power and the rise and fall of great powers.

The Hattendorf Prize is made to an individual who has made world-class achievement in original research, contributing to a deeper historical understanding of the broad context and interrelationships involved in the roles, contributions, limitations and uses of the sea services in history.

Among the many achievements of Kennedy are his studies on the British Royal Navy and the role of navies in the rise and fall of great powers, earning him an international reputation and following.

He is the second Hattendorf Prize Laureate.

First awarded in 2011, the prize is made possible through the generosity of the NWC Foundation. It is awarded at two- or three-year intervals, providing a $10,000 cash prize with a citation and bronze medal.

Edited and posted by Daniel S. Marciniak


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History Does Matter: Admiral Dunn Awarded Distinguished Public Service Award

Chairman of the Naval Historical Foundation, Adm. Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret.) and Capt. James Wyatt, Deputy Director of the Navy Staff, present Vice Adm. Robert Dunn, USN (Ret.), center, with his Distinguished Public Service Award certificate at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy's Museum Education Center. Dunn received the award for his many efforts to promote the U.S. Navy's history throughout his 14 year tenure as president of the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) from 1998-2012. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford/Released)

Chairman of the Naval Historical Foundation, Adm. Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret.) and Capt. James Wyatt, Deputy Director of the Navy Staff, present Vice Adm. Robert Dunn, USN (Ret.), center, with his Distinguished Public Service Award certificate at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy’s Museum Education Center. Dunn received the award for his many efforts to promote the U.S. Navy’s history throughout his 14 year tenure as president of the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) from 1998-2012. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford/Released)

Retired Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn received the Department of the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award during the 10 December Naval Historical Foundation’s semiannual Board of Directors Meeting. The award is a testament to Vice Admiral Dunn’s tireless efforts to educate the public about naval history, and to his commitment to the core tenants of the Foundation: preservation, education, and commemoration. Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret.), NHF Chairman, and Captain James Wyatt, Deputy Director of the Navy Staff, presented Vice Admiral Dunn with his award at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.

The full citation of the award reads:

For exemplary service on behalf of the Department of the Navy while serving as President of the Naval Historical Foundation from June 1998 to June 2012. During his tenure, Vice Admiral Dunn advanced the objectives of the organization that was founded in 1926 with the mission of preserving and promoting our Nation’s naval heritage. During his 14-year tenure with the Foundation, he assured the preservation of numerous collections of personal papers, art and photographic collections, and historical artifacts valued at millions of dollars and their donation and placement in appropriate government repositories. He led efforts to commemorate the role of the Navy’s air component in the years leading up to the centennial of naval aviation. Among his successful efforts to promote the Navy’s history to audiences within and outside the service are: the publication of The Navy coffee table book, the installation of a museum room aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the renovation of the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium to include memorial arches, and the creation of a Navy Heritage Video series for General Military Training. Under his leadership, the Naval Historical Foundation has raised and transferred funds and services to the Naval History and Heritage Command and National Museum of the United States Navy valued at over ten million dollars and he oversaw the Capital Campaign of the Navy Museum’s Cold War Gallery. His dedicated and selfless service demonstrated the highest level of loyalty and leadership, and brought great credit to the Naval Historical Foundation and the Department of the Navy.

The award is the highest that the Secretary of the Navy can bestow on individuals who are not active duty military members or civilian employees of the Department of the Navy. Among other notable recipients of the award over the years are Joe Rosenthal, Pulitzer Prize winning WWII Photographer; and Sybil Stockdale, wife of Vice Admiral James Stockdale, and spokesperson for POW/MIA families.

Always humble when reflecting on his myriad accomplishments, Vice Admiral Dunn was quick to thank other members of the NHF Board of Directors and staff for their contributions and efforts. At a time when the busy future of the 88-year old educational nonprofit Foundation was being reviewed, it was only fitting to honor a leader who has helped ensure its success for years to come.

His accomplishments extend far beyond his distinguished career as a naval aviator. He is certainly no stranger to the discipline of history. He is currently finishing a monograph on the history of naval aviation safety in the second half of the twentieth century (Dunn commanded the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk from 1976 to 1977). Selfless service is an oversimplified way to say how much impact he has made on the future of naval history.


History Does Matter
In May 2002, Vice Admiral Dunn wrote a short article in the Naval Academy’s alumni magazine, Shipmate, about the importance of naval history. His article, titled “History Does Matter,” talked a lot about the need to preserve naval history. History matters because the documents exist for historians to write about it. Vice Admiral Dunn understood that importance with extreme clarity. Twelve years later, much of his sage advice and wisdom is as true as ever, especially in our every-increasing dependence on digitization:

“We must [. . .] collect and preserve communications in whatever media they might be carried [. . .] It’s the job of the rest of us, in the words of Vice Admiral Giambastiani, to collect, chronicle, and connect naval history in all its forms.”

The Naval Historical Foundation continues to help preserve naval history in this manner, and educate the American public accordingly, thanks to the efforts of inspiring leaders like Vice Admiral Dunn.

A special thanks to MC1 Tim Comerford, USN for the event images.

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Born on the Seventh of December: The Significance of a Pearl Harbor Birthday

By Matthew T. Eng

There are some things in life we cannot change. As hard as we try, time ceaselessly moves alongside absolutes such as the changing of seasons or the color of the sky. You can even set your watch to the inexorability of afternoon traffic on the DC beltway. Of all these constants surrounding our lives, our birth date stands out as the most important and obvious. Reasons abound for this significance. Unlike all other constants we come to know throughout our time on earth, this one unchangeable facet is the first for everyone. Granted, we all have different days marking when we were born. Yet that specific date is set in stone. One could even say that birthdays are a “uniquely un-unique” human trait.

Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_US_PropagandaFor some, birth dates are no more than a yearly occurrence marked by the overindulgence of cake, spirits, and gifts. Like my father always says when I call him, “it’s just another day.” The significance is what you make of it. Then again, I was not born on December 7th.

It must be hard to be born on a day where you can hear the words “Happy Birthday” in the same breath as “A day which will live in infamy.” It’s like a update for an anti-virus that never seems to go away from your computer screen. It’s something I always ask my wife every year on her 7 December birthdate anniversary. For the past four years, she has heard the same thing from me. The same snarky comments every year. I am not a fortuneteller, but I can guarantee I will continue to do something similar over the next few years (or decades?). She thankfully takes my blend of historical curiosity and playful banter in stride.

Why the fascination then?

History can be cruel for those who wish to see it remain in the past. History may not repeat itself, but it often has a way of becoming the “uninvited guests to dinner.” With only 365 days each year, something important happens every day. For naval history, that list of dates narrows down to only a few significant events. Of these, the 7th of December ranks near the top.

We learn about Pearl Harbor in elementary school, middle school, and high school. It’s in our college curriculum, too. We see it in the movies and on television. It’s on posters and in magazines. It’s parodied the world around. We live in a world today where telephone numbers and personal contact information does not have to be memorized. We are reminded on our Internet’s dashboard when significant events we deem as such are happening (often days in advance). December 7th is one of the few dates all Americans have grown accustomed to through repetition. Just like a birthday.

It makes a difference and is meaningful because we have the historical insight and privilege of living in the future – of knowing what happens. In this world, victors do not necessarily write the history, but they are the spin doctors of our collective knowledge of the past. We know the outcome of these horrific events. History becomes a book we can read the last page of before moving on. Treating history this way makes it all easier to digest. This goes for all other major events in American naval history. We know that the U.S. Navy steamrolled the Spanish Fleet in the wake of the Maine explosion. We acknowledge that America came to the aid of the Allies in World War I once President Wilson had enough with unrestricted submarine warfare. Most importantly, we recognize how America stood defiant and fought back to avenge the surprise attack on the Hawaii base at the outbreak of World War II. That page cannot be rewritten. What if that last page was the first of your life? How would you react?

NHHC Photo #: 80-G-K-13513

NHHC Photo #: 80-G-K-13513

It’s not just for birthdays. You can be sure that every anniversary of Pearl Harbor is an anniversary worth remembering. This is especially true for historians and history enthusiasts. There are lectures, books, news articles, and videos created every year to help commemorate and honor those who have fallen. A recent book review published by Charles Kolb showed statistical proof of this overindulgence for all things December 7th. According to Kolb, the international online library WorldCat lists 18,353 publications about the Pearl Harbor attack. The Library of Congress in the United States lists over 1,200. Kolb estimates that more than 200 scholarly articles or monographs are published each year about the event. By his estimation, there seems to be “no end” to what people will write about. Emily Rosenberg’s excellent 2003 book on the history and memory surrounding Pearl Harbor, A Date Which Will Live in Infamy, is one excellent example. Between all of that, there are those who are trying to have a good time amidst the narrative of pain and anguish.

I decided this past week to do a little experiment. I randomly selected 10 people in my Facebook friends feed and asked them why Pearl Harbor is significant. All ten of my friends gave me great answers. All but one of my friends stated that it was the start of World War II, three of which further added that our involvement in the war was “the most significant event of the twentieth century.” Two of the ten interviewed went further into why the event is significant. The best answer came from an elementary school teacher from Virginia (They asked to remain anonymous):

“I want to believe that Pearl Harbor is significant because it’s the basis for why many of us stand up for what is right and wrong. With so much of that going on nowadays in our society and around the world, it’s important to have something pivotal to look back on and say ‘Yeah, we did it…we were strong and saw it to the end.’ It is horrible that an event like Pearl Harbor has to happen for that type of change to occur, but it is important nonetheless.”

I then ended the discussion by asking the question, “And what if you had your birthday on December 7th.” Each person had a negative answer. Given the choice, all ten would rather have a different birthday. Interestingly enough, all ten would also RATHER have a 7 December birthday than a 11 September birthday. Perspective.

According to author Patricia Leavy in Iconic Events: Media, Politics, and Power in Retelling History, the American press repeatedly referenced Pearl Harbor “in order to reify the turning-point quality they had afforded the event. Furthermore, drawing on Pearl Harbor allowed the press to seamlessly evoke war rhetoric (85).”

An article published in the Orlando Sentinel on the 60th anniversary of the attack in 2001 helps shed light on the important date, especially in the wake of the (then) recent attacks on the U.S:

“The world these children were born into on Dec. 7 was also a world filled with fear and uncertainty. Some recall their parents saying they were terrified of the next Japanese attack, afraid their towns could be next.”

Perhaps we know and acknowledge this particular date because many of us can openly sympathize with the fear and uncertainty. I was not alive when Pearl Harbor happened or when Kennedy was shot. I have only seen the moon walk on replay. I was alive and can tell you exactly where I was when September 11th occurred. It’s a significant date. It is too cliche to say it is “my Pearl Harbor,” because that dishonors the memory. Regardless, the date is significant in my mind. There are obvious parallels between the two events, separated by only 60 years. “They will forget everybody else in the family,” Carolyn Szell stated in the Orlando Sentinel article. “But not yours.”

Those born on the seventh of December are not surprised by its significance or meaning – it’s hardwired into their system. There is literal documentation for it…for most.

RADM John T. Mitchell, USN  (Ret.)

RADM John T. Mitchell, USN (Ret.)

Current NHF President is one such individual born on December 7, 1941. His brief and “chaotic” story details why the date holds specific importance to his life (and education!):

“I was born in Magnolia Arkansas on 7 Dec 1941. My parents described the hospital on that day as really chaotic.   We moved to Hobbs, New Mexico a few years later. When I got ready to enroll in school, they discovered that in the confusion that I had never had a birth certificate issued. This was needed to register for school. So, my birth certificate has a big “DELAYED” stamp on it and was actually issued on the 16th of June 1947.  I started school in Sept of 1947.

When I signed up for Navy ROTC in college I never dreamed that I would end up spending 30 years in the Navy!  One of my friends once commented that perhaps my Naval Career was influenced by my birthday!”

When it’s all said and done, Pearl Harbor and December 7th mean something different to all of us. It’s even special. We are hardwired to enjoy anniversaries to some degree, right? To some, it is merely another day in the annals of American naval history. For others, it’s a date that will “live in infamy.” And still for some, it is a yearly anniversary to remember how insignificant each of our lives are when compared to the overall weight and meaning dates hold to American memory.

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the attack. Take a second to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that morning. And, if necessary, wish somebody happy birthday.

In case you do want to get your fix, here is a great list of events for Pearl Harbor day.

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BOOK REVIEW – Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions

Zimm_Alan_Attack on Pearl HarborBy Alan D. Zimm, Casemate Publishing, Havertown, PA (2011)

Reviewed by Charles C. Kolb, Ph.D.

There seems to be no end to new publications on the subject of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. By September 2014, WorldCat (an international library catalog) listed 18,353 publications and other media on Pearl Harbor; among these there are 6,903 catalog records for the actual attack on Pearl Harbor which includes 3,105 books, 1,293 videos/CDs/DVDs, 644 articles, and 134 theses and dissertations. The less comprehensive Library of Congress catalog has 1,247 cataloged items on Pearl Harbor, of which 590 concerns the attack. It appears that more than 200 articles and books on this subject are published each year.

One of the most recent publications is Attack on Pearl Harbor by Alan D. Zimm. Like your reviewer, Zimm was “bitten by the Pearl Harbor bug.” He is a game designer who was formerly a highly qualified naval officer (Commander USN, Retired) specializing in operations analysis. He was also a long-time member of the wargaming community. Zimm earned a doctorate from the University of Southern California’s School of Policy, Planning and Development. He has recently been a section leader of the Aerospace Performance Analysis Group at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he provides Operations Research analytic support to Department of Defense policy and decision-making processes. He wrote and published the computer simulation “Action Stations! Naval Surface Combat Tactical Simulation, 1922-1945,” which was nominated for Wargame of the Year by Computer Gaming World magazine. He’s also written for Naval History.

Zimm points out that his book is not a history of the “Day of Infamy,” but rather a critical look at selected topics like Japanese planning, execution, and post battle analysis of the attack in the context of their overall strategy. This 464-page volume has 13 chapters, five appendices, a smallish bibliography (81 books, 17 journal articles or reports, 27 document citations, 24 Internet site entries, and two television program citations), chapter-by-chapter endnotes (a total of 425), and a nine-page index. Each of the chapters is focused on one aspect of the background, execution, or consequences of the attack. Zimm employs Operations Research methods and computer simulations (based on U.S. Naval War College combat simulations from 1922-1946) to assess the attack. Each chapter is a detailed and well-documented evaluation of the background, strategic goals, operational and tactical levels and capabilities, execution, or consequences of the attack. He presents a scrupulous analysis from the viewpoint of the Japanese, but does not neglect the American perspective. The text contains numerous Latin and French terms as well as acronyms and Japanese terminology (defined in Appendix B). These do not seriously detract from the attack assessment, making the volume an engrossing study for those readers who consider themselves knowledgeable on the topic. His book, however, should not be considered a “fun read.” Students of the subject would benefit by perusing histories about the attack (see below).

I want to digress and mention some of the primary and secondary sources upon which authors (including Zimm) base their writings about the attack. Next I’ll summarize the contents of his book and, lastly, suggest some pros and cons.

Some Primary Sources

Eight hearings on the Pearl Harbor attack were held over the course of World War II. The first was held from 18 December 1941 to 23 December 1942: Owen J. Roberts, Thomas Charles Hart, Chester R. Clarke, H. Kent Hewitt et al. United States Congress Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, 39 parts in 19 volumes (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946). This is the Roberts Commission established by presidential executive order, and chaired by Roberts, a justice of the Supreme Court. The Commission was charged to determine the facts of the Japanese attack and establish if any dereliction of duty had occurred. MAGIC was discussed, but who received it and the details of the reports were not covered. The hearings were hostile to the two area commanders – General Short and Admiral Kimmel.

The others included The Hart Inquiry (15 February 1944-15 June 1944) ordered by the Navy Department, which directed Admiral Thomas Hart, former commander of the Asiatic Fleet, to conduct a one-man inquiry on Pearl Harbor so that important testimony would not be lost by hazards of war. The Army Pearl Harbor Board (20 July 1944-20 October 1944) directed the army’s adjutant general to convened hearings during which MAGIC evidence was taken only during the last week. Radio intercept information was downplayed and the board censured Generals George Marshall and Leonard Gerow (War Plans Division) for not fully advising General Short. Simultaneously, The Naval Court of Inquiry (24 July 1944-19 October 1944) convened and made full use of MAGIC (the testimony on it was classified and kept from the public). The findings of the inquiry exonerated Admiral Kimmel but Admiral Harold Stark, CNO at the time of Pearl Harbor, was blamed for failing to adequately advise Kimmel.

The Secretary of War personally directed Major Henry Clausen as a one-man investigator (Clausen Investigation: 23 November 1944-12 September 1945) to obtain testimony to supplement the Army Board’s completed investigation. On the naval side, the Navy Secretary ordered Admiral Kent Hewitt to continue the naval inquiry (The Hewitt Inquiry: 14 May 1945-11 July 1945). The Clarke Investigation (14-16 September 1944 and 13 July 1945-4 August 1945) ordered by the Secretary of War directed Colonel Carter Clarke, head of the Military Intelligence Division, which oversaw the army’s COMINT efforts, to investigate the handling of communications by the military intelligence division prior to Pearl Harbor.

Established by a Joint Congressional Resolution, the Joint Congressional Committee Investigation into the Pearl Harbor disaster commenced on 15 November 1945 and promised to be the most thorough investigation possible. Relevant classified documents, including the MAGIC translations, and all participants still alive, except Henry Stimson, testified. A single volume report contained twelve findings that divided the blame among all the principals: Hawaiian area commanders and the War and Navy Departments. However, a minority report also censured Roosevelt but concluded, like the majority findings, that Secretary Stimson, Secretary Knox, Generals Marshall and Gerow, and Admiral Stark, as well as General Short and Admiral Kimmel, were culpable for the disaster. The “Magic” Background of Pearl Harbor (United States Department of Defense, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978) provides relevant material. The Kimmel Hearings on 27 April 1995 at the Office of the Secretary of Defense between the secretary and members of the Kimmel family who sought the posthumous restoration of the rank for Admiral Kimmel. Lastly, the five-part Dorn Report submitted 15 December 15 1995 by Undersecretary of Defense Edwin Dorn to Congress was in response to the Kimmel Hearings of the previous April.

Relevant Secondary Publications

Materials from these hearing have provided the basis for a deluge of commercially published books, especially about Admiral Kimmel and General Short. Samuel Eliot Morison’s definitive History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 3: The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931-April 1942 (Little Brown, 1948) presented an “uncharitable” (his term) view of Admiral Kimmel. However, by 1961, Morison had completely changed his unsympathetic view of Kimmel and Short’s performances, and his favorable view of General Marshall, Admiral Stark, Admiral Turner, among others; see Morison’s Saturday Evening Post article, “The Lessons of Pearl Harbor” (October 27, 1961). He became convinced by Roberta Wohlstetter’s research (see below). Rear Admiral (Ret.) Robert Theobald’s The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor (Devlin-Adair, 1954) and Admiral Kimmel’s Story by Husband E. Kimmel (Regenry, 1955) told the story from his point of view. General Short died in 1949. Few historians came to his defense.

Readers are likely familiar with some of the better-known books, particularly Walter Lord’s classic, bestselling account, Day of Infamy (Henry Holt, 1957); Roberta Wohlstetter Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision (Stanford, 1968); and Steven Pelz The Race to Pearl Harbor (Harvard, 1975). Gordon W. Prange, who served as an historian under General MacArthur during the occupation, researched and drafted three monumental volumes: At Dawn We Slept : The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor (McGraw-Hill, 1981), Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History (McGraw-Hill, 1986), and December 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor (McGraw-Hill, 1988). Prange was a perfectionist and kept editing the manuscripts so that his co-workers published his Pearl Harbor research posthumously after his death in 1980. Hence, historian Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon are, in reality, the final authors. Prange’s papers are deposited at the University of Maryland. [The Kimmel and Lord volumes “hooked” me on Pearl Harbor, as did the Prange volumes — I corresponded with both Lord and Don Goldstein but didn’t become a military historian.]

Among other notable works on the attack are by John Toland, Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath (Doubleday, 1983); Edwin T. Layton, Roger Pineau and John Costello, “And I was there”: Pearl Harbor and Midway: Breaking the Secrets (William Morrow, 1985); Burl Burlingame, Advance Force Pearl Harbor (Naval Institute Press, 1992); and Goldstein and Dillon’s The Pearl Harbor Papers (Brassey’s, 1993). Other titles include Michael Gannon, Pearl Harbor Betrayed: The True Story of a Man and a Nation Under Attack (Henry Holt, 2001); Carl Smith, Pearl Harbor 1941: The Day of Infamy (Praeger, 2004); Charles Robert Anderson, Day of Lightning, Years of Scorn: Walter C. Short and the Attack on Pearl Harbor (Naval Institute Press, 2005; Edward “Ned” Beach, Scapegoats: A Defense of Kimmel and Short (Naval Institute Press, 1995); Jack Lambert and Norman Polmar, Defenseless, Command Failure at Pearl Harbor (MBI, 2003), and Frederic L. Borch and Daniel Martinez, Kimmel, Short, and Pearl Harbor: The Final Report Revealed (Naval Institute Press, 2005).

During the years following the investigations, there have been a multitude of revisionist histories and rationalizations, primarily for Admiral Kimmel but also General Short. For more information, see Frank Mintz, Revisionism and the Origins of Pearl Harbor (University Press of America, 1985). Conspiracy theorists have also attempted to “prove” that President Roosevelt or others suppressed intelligence about the Japanese attack plans or its execution. Some “we should have known” authors point to Hector Bywater, The Great Pacific War (Houghton Mifflin, 1925) and Thomas P. Lowry and John W. G. Wellham, The Attack on Taranto: Blueprint for Pearl Harbor (Stackpole, 1995) or revisionist works by James Rusbridger and Eric Nave, Betrayal at Pearl Harbor (Summit 1991) and Robert Stinnet, Day of Deceit (Free Press, 2001). The British planning of their attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto, Italy experienced some of the same tactical shortcomings that the Japanese would demonstrate at Pearl Harbor. Significantly, British documents relating to Winston Churchill and November and December 1941 have not yet been made public. What is available is often redacted.   

Contents and Pros and Cons

The initial chapter covers the strategic and operation settings, Japanese strategies and objectives since the 1920s, comparisons of the U.S. and Japanese Pacific fleets, and American warplans, notably, Orange. Targets and weapons pairings are the emphasis of the second chapter which includes information on bombs and torpedoes versus capital ships. The third chapter focuses on three styles of wargames, including the games of 16-17 September and 13 October 1941. In planning the attack, Zimm considers Japanese carrier limitations, target selection, aircraft allocations, the American defense capabilities in aircraft, mooring including Battleship Row, attack routes, and anticipated results of the two-wave attack. Chapter Five reviews Japanese pre-attack training, rehearsals, contingency plans, and last-minute intelligence.

The execution of the attack covers 21 pages and centers on the use of midget submarines and Fuchida’s attack plan attack routes. The seventh chapter details the assessment of the attack including pre-dawn reconnaissance, final updating of the plans, Commander Genda’s flawed tactical plan, Commander Fushida’s “blunder,” and evaluation of the effectiveness of the torpedo plane and dive bomber attacks and level bombing successes. The attack on the Nevada was seen as a tactical error in that the channel was not blocked. Target assignments, decisions, and accuracies are recounted. There were malfunctions in dropping the 250 kg bombs and a high dud rate with the 800 kg bombs. Comparative attrition and shortfalls, fighter aircraft performances, and an assessment of Japanese command and control are summarized. The Japanese fleet submarine effort is also recounted. Chapter eight provides a comparative evaluation of battle damage inflicted by torpedo planes and dive bombers, the success in sinking the Arizona, actual versus claimed hits on vessels on Battleship Row and at other moorings, the misidentification of targets by Japanese airmen, and some lessons learned. The subsequent chapter considers what might have happened if the Pearl Harbor defenses had been alerted, a “what if” there had been a 40-minute notice. Attention is given separately to the U.S. Pacific fleet, the U.S. Army, and Army Air Corps and if these combined defenses had opposed the attack.

Chapter 10: “Assessing the Folklore” is a unique contribution in which Zimm considers such issues as Japanese “superpilots,” attacking the U.S. fleet outside of the harbor, the “reattack” controversy (third strike wave), hitting the shipyard facilities, destroying the Pearl Harbor power plant and fuel storage tanks, blocking the channel, and the tardy Japanese diplomatic message. In an up-to-date chapter, “The Fifth Midget Submarine: A Cautionary Tale,” he reviews the mission results (known and presumed), probabilities, facts and initial assumptions, and penetration into the harbor and West Loch. The attacks on Oklahoma and Arizona, the question of dud torpedoes, and a final assessment of the overall operation are provided. In a valuable Chapter twelve, he reassesses the actions of the major participants: General Short, Admiral Kimmel, Admiral Nagumo, Admiral Yamamoto, Commander Genda, and Commander Fuchida. The “Summary and Conclusions” raises and responds to nine salient questions related to the “imperfect” attack. The five appendices: present a tabulation of the second wave dive bomber attacks; identify abbreviations, acronyms, and Japanese terminology; tabulate ships in Pearl Harbor and vicinity on 7 December 1941; detail “The Perfect Attack” (pp. 401-412); and list the author’s acknowledgments.

Zimm’s volume illuminates a complex historical event from the Japanese point of view, something no Western author has attempted previously. It is far from a simple retelling of the familiar story but is an in-depth study of the Japanese planning, preparation, and execution of the attack, with particular focus on factors not thoroughly considered. Numerous aspects of the attack are clarified as to what the Japanese did, could have done, and should have done by examining such questions as: Was the strategy underlying the attack sound? Were there flaws in planning and/or execution? How did Japanese military culture influence the planning? How risky was the attack? What did the Japanese expect to achieve, balanced against what they actually achieved? Were there Japanese mistakes? If so, what were their consequences? And what might have been the results if the attack had not benefited from the mistakes of the American commanders in Washington and/or Pearl Harbor? The book also serves as a useful introduction to operations analysis.

Zimm’s thorough analysis of the execution of the Japanese attack illustrates serious issues. He demonstrates that the Japanese carrier strike force did not plan the attack very well, nor did they train effectively for it. Two of the four Japanese carriers had just been commissioned and had raw recruits rather than veteran seamen and aviators. He also considers the fictitious assumption that sinking a ship in Pearl Harbor’s channel would “bottle up” the Pacific fleet, or that the destruction of the repair facilities and oil tanks would have a devastating effect on the Americans. He argues that if the Japanese had launched a third wave it would have been ineffective, concluding that only minor damage would have been achieved and the naval base would have been fully operational in a relatively short period of time. In particular, he is especially critical of the allocation of strike aircraft to various targets on Oahu, the way the planned strike tracks for aircraft were allowed to cross on their final approach runs over the harbor, and the failure of the torpedo planes to provide mutual support during the first attack. Importantly, he concludes that the Japanese primary targets were the Pacific fleet’s battleships rather than the aircraft carriers because the loss of these symbols of naval power would psychologically demoralize the American public. Zimm also presents a convincing case that the Arizona was not torpedoed by a Japanese midget submarine. Most intriguing is what might have happened under alternative circumstances, Appendix D” “The Perfect Attack,” which demonstrates how the attack should have been conducted by taking the perspective of proficient professionals who based their decisions on competent staff work and the most recent available intelligence rather than hindsight. He also condemns Japanese planning for its “inflexibility.”

On the negative side, some readers may see the book as disorganized, jumping from one topic to another, and burdensome with facts, statistics, and analyses that need not be rehashed. The analysis does contain some very interesting new details and interpretations, some of which derives from U.S. Naval War College Studies of the attack. Zimm’s analysis regarding the interpretation of Japanese operational war gaming tactics may be seen as overly critical and dismissive of Japanese abilities and skills, especially the fighter pilots are berated. Commander Fuchida, a major Japanese participant in the attack, sought to conceal his mistakes and embellish his reputation by misinforming his superiors and, in the post-war period, American historians. Or, was he just “careless” about the truth regarding his role at Pearl Harbor (and later at Midway)?

Readers will be left with a great deal to think about and consider new aspects of the attack that are illuminated in Zimm’s book. This excellent analysis is a definitive critique of the Japanese planning and execution of the attack. For any serious student of the Pacific War, the volume makes for fascinating, “must” reading and should be included among the very best books on the Pearl Harbor attack.

Dr. Kolb is an independent scholar (National Endowment for the Humanities, Ret.)

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BOOK REVIEW – The Second Pearl Harbor: The West Loch Disaster, May 21, 1944

Salecker_Second Pearl HarborBy Gene Eric Salecher University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK (2014)

Reviewed by Charles C. Kolb, Ph.D.

Among the maritime accidents during World War II in the Pacific Theater is the 1944 Port Chicago disaster, a munitions explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine located in Port Chicago, California near San Francisco. The 17 July incident claimed the lives of 320 sailors and civilians and injured 390 others. The majority of these casualties were enlisted African-American sailors. A number of popular accounts were written about this incident and its aftermath, notably Robert Allen’s The Port Chicago Mutiny (Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books, 2006), Leonard Guttridge’s “Port Chicago” Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1992); and the National Park Service’s website Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument; as well as a number of journal and newspaper accounts.

Two months earlier, on Sunday 21 May 1944, another maritime disaster had occurred in the West Loch at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Oahu. It involved an explosion in a staging area for Landing Ship, Tanks (LSTs) and other amphibious assault craft assembled for Operation Forager, the invasion of the Japanese-held Mariana Islands, notably Saipan. This incident claimed the lives of 163 naval personnel and injured 396 others. Only one significant book has been written about this event, William L. C. Johnson’s The West Loch Story: Hawaii’s Second Greatest Disaster in Terms of Casualties (Seattle: Westloch Publications, 1986), although brief accounts appear in the standard Pacific War histories by John Costello (The Pacific War, 1941-1945, New York: Quill, 1982), Samuel Eliot Morison (History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume 8: New Guinea and the Marianas, Boston: Little Brown, 1953, several other editions such as Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001); and Carl Smith (The Saga of LST 224, Jackson, TN: Main Street Press, 1st ed. 2003, 2nd ed. 2004); plus a few journal and newspaper accounts. Johnson’s self-published volume consists of 55 eyewitness accounts and 19 testimonies by survivors of the incident. The accounts and testimonies are accompanied by one map (p. 22) and 12 illustrations, although most do not document the actual incident). Years ago, I had read (and now reread) it given my assignment to review Salecker’s new book-length volume.

Military historian Gene Eric Salecker is the author of four previous books. He wrote one on a Civil War maritime explosion, Disaster in the Mississippi: The Sultana Explosion, April 27, 1865 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1996), and three focusing on World War II in the Pacific: Fortress Against the Sun: The B-17 Flying Fortress in the Pacific (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2001), Rolling Thunder Against the Rising Sun: The Combat History of the U.S. Army Tank Battalions in the Pacific in World War II (Mechanicsburg PA: Stackpole Press, 2008), and Blossoming Silk Against the Rising Sun in the Pacific: U.S. and Japanese Paratroopers at War in the Pacific in World War II (Mechanicsburg PA: Stackpole Press, 2010). His well-documented new book on the West Loch disaster is the first full comprehensive account of the incident and aftermath. Slacker’s compendium has 22 short chapters, including five maps, 17 diagrams, 22 photographic illustrations of the event, 606 endnotes, and a 103-item bibliography. The latter includes 13 government documents from the U.S. National Archives, correspondence and interviews (six letters and 22 interviews – most dating to 2008), 27 journal and newspaper articles, eight unpublished and 36 Internet references, and 44 books. There is also a very useful “Chronology” covering the period December 1943 through 1953 but focusing on hourly events 21-22 May 1944. Three maps illustrate the lochs (p. 34), West Loch on 21 May (p. 58), and West Loch on 22 May (p. 177). The references to materials from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration include items from the Naval Intelligence Unit, Navy Board of Inquiry, and LST Deck Logs; complete citations and archival locations (box and file numbers) are not always included. The key document (p. 259) is the “Navy Board of Inquiry Investigating the Causes of the Explosion and Fire at West Loch, Pearl Harbor,” Office of the Judge Advocate General.

During World War II, 1,051 LSTs – nicknamed “Large Slow Targets” –were built in 16 U.S. shipyards and designed to carry a variety of fighting vehicles and Marine or Army personnel and served in the Mediterranean (Italy), eastern Atlantic (Normandy), and throughout the Pacific. In the first chapter, the author points out that during Operation Forager there were 47 LSTs among the 110 transport vessels. LCTs (Landing Craft, Tank) and DUKWs (Amphibious Trucks) were aboard many of the LSTs and many of the naval officers and personnel on the LSTs had not seen combat. A poorly executed rehearsal with Marines on the LST was held in bad weather on 14-15 May 1944 off Kahoolawe Island near Maui. This resulted in collisions, other accidents, and casualties. Salecker then details an LST in terms of dimensions, configuration, deckhouse, armaments, and provides seven images of typical LSTs before turning to a description of Pearl Harbor’s three main lochs (East, Middle and West Lochs). West Loch is near Intrepid Point and Hanaloa Point and the Naval Ammunition Depot — Powder Point. LSTs berthed at seven Tares (docking spots or dolphins) each of which had moorings composed of clusters of wooden pilings banded with iron that were sunk into the shallow water in the loch. The first LST was tied up to a Tare and others berthed alongside the first, creating a nest of sometimes up to ten vessels. Slacker characterizes the LSTs and LCTs for each of Tares: Tare 3: 2 LSTs with 1 LCT, Tare 5, 4 LST’s with 3 LCTs, Tare 6: 5 LSTs with 1 LCT; Tare 7: 3 high speed transports, Tare 8: 8 LST’s with 6 LCTs, Tare 9: 7 LSTs with 2 LCTs, and Tare 10, 5 LSTs with 3 LCTs.

On Sunday 21 May, the LSTs were combat loaded with equipment and Marines preparing for Operation Forager while Army personnel and stevedores were loading 3,000 tons of munitions from the depot and the ammunition ship SS Joseph B. Francis using small craft and lighters. LSTs carried a crew of 119 men and 200 Marines, trucks, jeeps, and weapon carriers were carried on the main decks, all of which were loaded with ammunition. Mortar rounds (4.2 in/110 mm) from the “gunboat” LCTs were being loaded or offloaded because training had proved M2 mortars could not be fired accurately from LCTs. Each LST also carried from 80 to 100 55-gallon drums of high octane aviation gasoline on their forecastles and each had its own magazine and fuel capacity of 200,000 gallons and drums of lubricating oil, fog oil smoke pots, and floats were carried on the fantail. Some drums were partially filled or empty, being used to fuel the LSTs and LCTs and some personnel were using small tins of gasoline to clean their weapons. However, in spite of “no smoking” orders, some members of the Army and Marines were smoking. Shortly after 1500 hours (3:00 pm) the munitions handlers were on a break when, at about 1508 hours (3:08 pm), disaster struck at Tare 8. An explosion engulfed LST 353 apparently originating on the bow of LCT 936. Fragments showered the clustered LSTs, igniting gasoline drums and crates of ammunition and flaming debris and shrapnel went in all directions.

Slacker provides a masterful, highly detailed account of what transpired on those vessels affected and not affected by the blast. A second more powerful explosion damaged LSTs in Tare 9 and a third even more powerful explosion occurred in Tare 8. Men were unable to cast off mooring cables in order to escape the devastation and burning oil on the water complicated rescue attempts. Three LSTs drifted and struck other vessels and explosions sent debris and body parts miles away damaging 20 shore side buildings and causing casualties. Heroic actions, inactions, and indecisions followed, including efforts by some crews to save their ships (LST 274) and rescue comrades, aided by harbor tugs. Seven LSTs — some damaged – put to sea to avoid the carnage. Salvage efforts are also recounted. The book includes 14 vivid pictures of the post-explosion chaos and firefighting.

Three naval investigators from the Naval Intelligence Unit arrived almost immediately (1545 hours). They were initially concerned about sabotage and the fact that secret and confidential documents and maps of Operation Forager were being scattered to the winds. A Naval Court of Inquiry was established the next day under Rear Admiral John F. Shafroth Jr. and investigations began as a veil of secrecy descended. Six LSTs, three LCTs, 17 LVT Amtraks and eight howitzers were lost and the Navy began a search for suitable replacement vessels – 11 LSTs were found, equipment replaced, and Marine recruits were located to join the Operation Foraged armada that departed Pearl Harbor on 25 May. What of the human losses? An initial casualty list was issued on 14 June (p. 196), and new statistics were posted (p. 211) – but “no one really knew.” Naval historian Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison was tasked with creating the “official” casualty list of 559: 163 dead and missing and 396 injured (p. 212). The Naval Court of Inquiry pointed to a “deplorable lack of elementary safety precautions in connection with open lights [i.e., smoking]” (p. 201 and several investigations sought to find the reason for such a disaster, However, no conclusive evidence as how it occurred was determined. Was the initial explosion caused by the mishandling of one or more mortar shells and/or the ignition of gasoline vapor? Admiral Chester Nimitz reviewed the report recommending that LSTs not be nested commented that nesting was necessary: “It is a calculated risk that must be accepted.” Ultimately, no courts-martial or letters of reprimand were issued to anyone involved. Some still believe that sabotage was a viable possibility, while others point to inexperienced and untrained crews and other personnel flaws, and welding that occurred on LST 353 that same day.

Slacker, a police officer and administrator at Northeastern Illinois University, provides the reader with much food for thought regarding the actions and results of the West Loch disaster. He has blended details from official reports with first-hand accounts from oral history. His book may be difficult to read because of the level of detail but is a testament to diligent research and sheds light on the little-known “Second Pearl Harbor.”



Dr. Kolb is an Independent Scholar retired from the National Endowment for the Humanities.



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#GivingTuesday: Help Preserve Our Naval History


Keep Naval History Alive!

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, thousands will give back during #GivingTuesday. This social celebration is just one way that you, your family, your community, your company or your organization can make a difference in the preservation, education and commemoration of naval history.

Your generous donations will help support the Naval Historical Foundation’s mission to preserve and honor the legacy of those who came before us. We will continue to ensure that America’s great naval history is proudly remembered. Be a part of the proud tradition of our naval heritage.

Click. Share. Give Back.

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CALL FOR PAPERS: Society for the History of Navy Medicine 7th Meeting

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine is pleased to announce a call for papers to its 7th meeting.

Our meeting will take place in conjunction with the annual conference of the American Association of the History of Medicine to be held in New Haven, Connecticut from April 30-May 2, 2015.  Our session will be held on April 30th.

We welcome submissions on any aspect of the history of navy medicine.  In recognition of the centennial commemoration of World War I, we particularly welcome papers focused on navy medicine and World War I.

You are welcome to submit complete panels or single-authored papers.  Paper proposals should include an abstract of no more than 300 words explaining the topic as well as a two-page vita of the presenter.  Proposals are due December 31, 2014.  A limited number of travel grants are available for graduate students.  A Conference Committee will review proposals and make selections.

Please submit proposals to: acroswhi@odu.edu and put “SHNM Conference Paper” in the subject line.

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The Navy’s Love Affair with Celery and Creamed Vegetables: A Navy Thanksgiving Menu Analysis

Admiral Halsey eats Thanksgiving with USS New Jersey Sailors, 1944.

Admiral Halsey eats Thanksgiving with USS New Jersey Sailors, 1944.

By Matthew T. Eng

Thanksgiving. The unofficial start of the holiday season.

It’s that magical time of the year when friends and families come together to share stories and a wonderful meal. It’s a time to kick back and relax.

…For some. Others do not have that luxury. Not everyone gets to go home for Thanksgiving.

Throughout the history of the United States Navy, ships have served countless Thanksgiving and holiday meals to their hungry sailors. The tradition is nearly as old as the holiday itself.

The promise of turkey and stuffing to sailors certainly puts the doldrums of midrats into perspective. The Thanksgiving meal was no doubt one of the best meals of the year for sailors, only rivaled by Christmas dinner or beer days/steel beach barbecues.

As someone who is keenly interested in the cultural story of the men and women of the United States Navy, these menus fascinate me. I wrote a story last year about a private collection of Navy Thanksgiving menus from a former NHHC staff member. I wanted to know more. I wanted to dig a little deeper than merely showing the various ship menus over the past century. Why not analyze them?

I wanted to know exactly WHAT sailors were eating for Thanksgiving. Had the menu items changed or stayed the same? Were there any interesting items we might raise our nose to today?

I analyzed one Thanksgiving Menu for each decade of the first half of the twentieth century (1900s-1950s). Every menu item was written down and organized by course (Soup, Main, Sides, Dessert, etc.). All menus came from the Navy Department Library’s online collection. The following ship menus were analyzed:

USS Raleigh (1905); USS Arizona (1917); USS Case (1929); USS Holland (1935); USS Wake Island (1943); USS Barry (1956)

USS Raleigh (1905); USS Arizona (1917); USS Case (1929); USS Holland (1935); USS Wake Island (1943); USS Barry (1956)

The Results

Six menus spanning over five decades worth of cultural and culinary history drew out a wealth of information. From the data gathered in the menus, some generalizations can be made. Here are some of the general takeaways from the analysis:

generalizations Soup/Appetizer:

The soup portion of the Thanksgiving meal was by far the most diverse and assorted. No soup appeared on our list more than once.

More regularity came with the appetizers and starters. There appeared to be some strange fascination with the inclusion of celery on the menus. In fact, some type of celery dish (plain celery, stuffed celery, celery soup) appeared on nearly every menu. Although there were several variations, celery seemed to be a popular starter. I was intrigued by USS Case’s “fancy celery” menu item. What made it so fancy? Sweet pickles (or pickled relish) and Tomato Juice were also popular starters in the 1920s and 1930s.

Salads as starters  or individual courses were only included in a few of the menus, the oddest of which was “mayonnaise” (see below).

Main Course:

Turkey was always on the menu. In some cases (1917 and 1943), chefs also prepared a Smithfield Ham to go along with the “Roasted Tom Turkey.” As far as the dressing (stuffing) was concerned, the most popular menu item to serve with the turkey was an “oyster dressing.” Although some may turn our nose up to it today, oyster dressing is still served traditionally with turkey around the country. Most turkeys were doused in either Giblet Gravy, oyster dressing, or caper sauce. In fact, every Thanksgiving menu had some sort of oyster-based item on it. These men lived and worked on the water, after all – why not include a little seafood?

Over the course of 50+ years, sides remained relatively similar. Staples like cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and green beans are on most menus. What is interesting is the tendency for the chefs to cook a “creamed” version of every type of vegetable. It’s like a buffet in Vegas – creamed everything. Creamed corn. Creamed potatoes. Creamed carrots and peas. Even creamed cauliflower is on USS Holland’s menu in 1935. It’s all there. At least they began to incorporate warm Parkerhouse rolls into the mix beginning in the 1940s.


The desserts are the least exciting of menu items. The typical fruit and pies are all there. A dessert called “mince pies” appears in the early twentieth century menus. Mince pies, a British-inspired sweet fruit pie, are traditionally served during the holiday season. It only seems fitting.

Most sailors were served coffee, cigars, and cigarettes during the dessert course. This was certainly a different time and a different kind of Navy.

Show me Mayonnaise Salad! 

lettuce and mayo

…and now to the unpleasant business of the mayonnaise salad. They say that the sun never sets on the British Empire. They also say that mayonnaise should never be the principle ingredient in salad.

Of all the menu items analyzed from Thanksgiving menus spanning the course of half a century, the addition of mayonnaise salad to USS Arizona’s 1917 Thanksgiving menu is by far the strangest.

Navy Department Library

Navy Department Library

“Mayonnaise salad” is the menu item that we can only whisper about nowadays; its oil-based memory ushered in soft tones in the empty corners of our mind. This is one recipe Ms. Crocker would not want you to see.

Digging through some old cookbooks mid-century cookbooks and outdated recipes stored in the vaults of the Internet, it seems that the original concept of a mayo-based salad dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lettuce was mixed with mayonnaise (2 cups for every head of lettuce), and then sprinkled with sugar and tossed on top of cold vegetables. As the century progressed, the concept of mayonnaise salad included in Arizona’s Thanksgiving menu morphed into the “layered mayonnaise salad,” or “seven layer salad.” In this case, the mayo-sugar mix is placed on top of several layers of vegetables and cheese in a trifle dish. If one deduces correctly, the seven-layer salad is in fact the predecessor to the seven layer dip, no doubt a staple appetizer at tailgates, dinner parties, and office get-togethers the world over. For that, we must give thanks to trendsetters like USS Arizona.

We Are Thankful:

What is the Foundation thankful for? To put it bluntly: YOU. Your support keeps us going full speed ahead. Most importantly, we are also thankful for all of our men and women in the United States Armed Forces who CANNOT come together with their families during the holiday season.

A special thanks to the Navy Department Library for providing the Thanksgiving Menus online. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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Steady Nerves and Stout Hearts on Veterans Day

CV-6 Veterans Richard Dunbar (L) and Bill Norberg (R) viewing the Enterprise Collection

CV-6 Veterans Richard Dunbar (L) and Bill Norberg (R) viewing the Enterprise Collection

By Cmdr Jason Grower, USN
Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014

Every now and again, we have an opportunity to reflect for a moment on the heritage of those who have gone before us.  Veterans Day is one such opportunity.  The day originally known as “Armistice Day,” was a celebration of the end of “The Great War,” and it is now celebrated as a day to honor all of America’s veterans.  But last weekend another such opportunity presented itself that you may not have heard of: on 1 November, the town of River Vale, New Jersey, honored the veterans of USS Enterprise (CV-6) by the dedication of an exhibit of artifacts from the famous World War II flat top.  Many questions enter the mind … “River Vale?  Where is River Vale?” and perhaps most importantly, “Why River Vale?” All great questions, but first, a brief digression:

The USS Enterprise is legendary.  All 8 of them — there has always been an Enterprise in the United States Navy.  For that matter, there was an Enterprise even before there was a United States of America, dating to May of 1775 when a ragtag band of Sailors captured a British 70-ton sloop of war and gave her the now-famous moniker.  Subsequent US Navy ships to bear the name Enterprise included a schooner; several sailing vessels; a motorboat; the World War II aircraft carrier (the first to bear the title of “The Big E”); the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, CVN-65; and eventually, the third Gerald Ford-class aircraft carrier, CVN-80, which will enter service in the 2020s.

A USS Enterprise (CVN-65) Chief Petty Officer greets Enterprise shipmates at the dedication

A USS Enterprise (CVN-65) Chief Petty Officer greets Enterprise shipmates at the dedication

Which brings us back to the tiny town of River Vale, NJ.

In the drawdown following World War II, the US Navy was rapidly decommissioning ships, and not even CV-6 was spared from the cutter’s torch in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York.  The man charged with recycling the Big E was River Vale resident, Henry Hoffman, a German immigrant who knew that the ship he was about to disassemble earned twenty battle stars and distinction as the most decorated ship of World War II.  He may not have known it, but it would not have surprised Hoffman that Enterprise Sailors loved their ship — she had taken them to war, and delivered them safely home.  So attached were they that Enterprise’s Sailors sometimes even got into fights with Sailors from USS Essex (CV 9) while on liberty over whose ship could claim the title “Big E.”  Enterprise won that argument.

CV-6 Stern Plate

CV-6 Stern Plate

This was the ship Henry Hoffman was charged to dispose of, but he understood her importance.

So, he dutifully disassembled Enterprise, save for one priceless artifact, her stern plate.  He brought it to his sleepy home town of River Vale, NJ, where, to this day, it is on display in Veterans Park, a constant reminder of her legacy for all to see.  This town is now forever linked with the Enterprise legacy.

Veteran Willard "Bill" Norberg admires River Vale's display honoring the USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6)
Veteran Willard “Bill” Norberg admires River Vale’s display honoring the USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6)

Working with the Enterprise (CV-6) Association, the River Vale Free Public Library raised enough money to construct the River Vale Free Public Library’s Enterprise Collection, donated by her veterans, to honor CV-6 and her Sailors.  It includes a Sailor’s uniform, ship’s bell, and a 12×18′ flag which flew over the Big E, among other treasures.  The dedication occurred on 1 November, and as an Enterprise veteran, I made the trek from Washington, DC, to River Vale for the ceremony.   The day included speeches by luminaries from far and wide: from local town councilmen, to state representatives and Congressmen, and a US Navy Admiral – all came to pay tribute to the Big E.

Perhaps the most important luminaries, however, were several generations of Sailors, old and young, who had (and still have) the honor of calling themselves an “Enterprise Sailor.”   Three veterans of CV-6 (including one who served on Enterprise from the first day of World War II until the last) attended, several retired CVAN/CVN-65 Sailors attended (including men who survived the tragic fire on her flight deck in 1969), and several current CVN-65 Sailors even attended.  In that room were Enterprise veterans from almost every decade of the 20th century, and all of the 21st – collectively they represented almost one hundred years of Enterprise history, and even though most had never met each other until that day, they shared a common bond:  The Big E.

Thanks are most certainly due to the town of River Vale, New Jersey, and in particular, the library’s director, Ms. Ann McCarthy, for keeping the legacy of Enterprise alive.  It is her personal dedication, River Vale’s support, and the patriotism of these amazing Americans that today and every day, we fulfill the mandate President Eisenhower declared in 1954 when he proclaimed the Veterans Day holiday:

“…let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

Rear Admiral Kelvin Dixon addresses those gathered to celebrate the legacy of ENTERPRISE

Rear Admiral Kelvin Dixon addresses those gathered to celebrate the legacy of ENTERPRISE

CDR Jason Grower is a Naval Historical Foundation Member who works as the Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at OPNAV (N00Z).

All photos © Bonnie Grower

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BOOK REVIEW – Cold War Command: The Dramatic Story of a Nuclear Submariner

cold war commandCaptain Dan Conley RN (Ret.) OBE and Captain Richard Woodman, Merchant Navy, (Ret), Seaforth Publishing, Inc., Barnsley, England (2014)

Reviewed by Rear Admiral William J. Holland, Jr. USN (Ret.)

The authors use Conley in the third person as the vehicle to critically review the actions and internal workings of the Royal Navy and its Submarine Service between the end of World War II and the end of the Cold War. Conley’s tendency to document happenings of a general nature distracts rather than informs the reader. The insight into the events and circumstances in which Conley was a participant make the narrative alive and exceedingly valuable to professional mariners, submariners and maritime military managers.

Conley served in four diesel submarines, commanding HMS Otter. He served on three nuclear submarines, commanding HMS Courageous and HMS Valiant. He was also on the staff of U.S. Submarine Development Squadron Twelve and graduated from the US Naval War College. He served twice on the Royal Navy’s Tactical Development commands and led the Royal Navy equivalent of the INSURV Board for acceptance of new ships. In the Ministry of Defense, he was responsible for nuclear weapons targeting. This broad breadth provides a wide scope to describe Royal Navy equipment, organizations and policies from the late 1960s until the end of the Cold War. Much is viewed unfavorably. The authors accuse the Royal Navy of being stuck in its past with outdated and obsolete equipment, senior officers unable to progress and civilian overseers and supporting workers ignorant and slothful. In particular, the failure to develop suitable torpedoes, Conley’s specialty, serves as an underlying theme throughout the book. References to “design defects” on weapons and submarines but not further identified may frustrate other submariners though these do not detract from the worth to the regular reader.

The book is replete with remarkable descriptions in colorful British colloquialisms and typical understatement, e.g. “…an unexpected underwater collision is a very alarming experience to those involved.” The excellent descriptions of basic submarine design and operation are enlarged with characterizations of the hazards and discomforts inherent in battery driven submarines. Except for the induction through the bridge access hatch, his descriptions of the “O” and “P” boats could easily be applied to Guppys and even Barbels. The authors’ clear descriptions of problems common to submarining are informative for both neophytes and serious readers of the genre. The description of surfaced operations on the bridge cockpit in heavy weather northwest of Great Britain will bring a shiver to anyone who has had the experience – not one to be sought or savored. Descriptions of machinery malfunctions in Conley’s three commands are harrowing. Their repeated and continued existence do not reflect U.S. Navy’s practices and perhaps reflect a lack of maintenance activity below the shipyard.

Conley’s early service in a surface warship and four conventionally powered submarines serve as a memorial to another time. Hijinks and alcohol were characteristics of the crews of both navies. By 1967, the advent of nuclear power and its technical requirements brought change. “The new Submarine Service was moving away from being a peripheral, semi-piratical organization, regarded by the rest of the Fleet with a mixture of envy and affectionate scorn for its disregard for the full panoply of naval protocols.” Assignment to HMS Swiftsure, a nuclear submarine, in 1973 brought him into the new Submarine Service: “There was an end to the old buccaneering way of doing things and – symptomatic of this – the era of ‘pirate’ rig at sea had ended and the culture of heavy drinking when alongside was over.”

Conley had three commands, an old conventional submarine and two nuclear submarines. He describes these operations with enthusiasm and élan. In the early eighties, he served as the Royal Navy representative on the Staff of the Submarine Development Squadron in New London, CT. From this vantage, he observed the differences in the practices of the two submarine forces. American officers will be interested (and pleased) with his comparisons.

Because the Royal Navy’s practice was to groom one submarine for Barents Sea reconnaissance missions, Conley had no experience in performing such missions. However, the RN’s operating areas included the transit routes for Soviet submarines based in the Northern Sea Fleet en route to and from the Western Atlantic and Mediterranean. In 1984 when the Soviet Navy was at its peak of operations out of area, Conley’s ship, HMS Valiant, intercepted and trailed three different Victors and an Echo in addition to detecting a Yankee SSBN on one operation of two weeks duration. On his next underway, he detected nine different Soviet submarines, trailing seven over a three-week period. His descriptions of these operations underplay the difficulty of such encounters.

Conley’s critical observations of mismanagement in what most Western sailors consider the second best submarine force may be startling to some readers but they provide warnings about paying attention to details often ignored in the upper tiers of management, For that reason, the book is well worth reading by anyone concerned with management and procurement of technically advanced maritime equipment. The first reaction of active officers and their civilian supporters to Conley’s criticisms should be to ask themselves, “Are we guilty of this?”

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Admiral Holland’s active service was primarily in submarines. He is a Director of the Naval Historical Foundation. 

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BOOK REVIEW – Sunk in Kula Gulf: The Final Voyage of USS Helena and the Incredible Story of Her Survivors in World War II

sunk in kula gulfBy John J. Domagalski, Potomac Books, Washington, DC (2012)
Reviewed by John Grady

The greatest strength of John Domagalski’s Sunk in Kula Gulf lies in the interviews he conducted with survivors of the cruiser Helena’s sinking after it was torpedoed early 6 July 1943. While I found the first few chapters’ routine, the story picks up speed and humanity from Chapter 7 on. The remaining chapters details exactly what happened to the 1,200-man crew.

The survivors ended up in three distinct groups after the “Abandon ship” order was given. Two destroyers picked up the first and largest group of more than 700 men as the fight with the Japanese in the Solomon Islands roared on. One of the sailors, Robert Howe, remembered thinking that the treatment he received aboard Nicholas was the same as what Helena’s crew did for survivors of Wasp; dressing their wounds, setting broken bones, and salving their burns. Officers of the cramped Radford knew that they needed to move survivors to the deepest parts of the ship as the destroyer moved quickly back into the fight with its 5-inch guns firing.

The second group of 88 sailors and officers tried to stay together in three lifeboats. They made it safely to a nearby island waiting and to be picked up the next day. The third group, clinging to whatever they could to stay alive, was pushed by strong currents away from the sinking vessel. They were adrift under a tropical sun for days, covered in oil. Jim Layton’s hope for a rescue ship faded with each hour. “I don’t remember anyone else displaying a lot of fear,” he said. “Maybe we more or less accepted what was happening.” The survivors were drifting closer and closer to the Japanese-held island Vella Lavella.

The Japanese indigenous peoples were not the only people on the island when the Americans came ashore at scattered locations. There were also missionaries and Australian and New Zealand coast watchers monitoring what the Japanese were doing both ashore and afloat. Tension built as the Allies rounded up the survivors on the shore and hurried the Americans to safety into three secure hideouts. They also had to dispose of the tell-tale rafts that littered the shore.

Domagalski does a fine job detailing how these men lived for the next eight days and also how they were rescued. It is a gripping reading and the “incredible story” that the subtitle promises.

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Grady is a volunteer with the NHF’s oral history program.

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BOOK REVIEW – We’ll All Die As Marines: One Marine’s Journey from Private to Colonel

Well All Die as MarinesBy Colonel Jim Bathurst USMC (Ret), IUniverse, (2012)
Reviewed by Curt Marsh, Col USMCR (Ret)

This is a very engaging autobiography of one Marine’s career worth reading by fellow Marines as well as anyone interested in recent Marine Corps history. The book covers the period from his enlistment in 1958 after dropping out of High School through 1993 when he retired with the rank of Colonel. But this is more than a short history of the Marine Corps. Bathurst’s intended to share his experiences in learning the value of leadership and the rewards of being a leader of Marines. Although some of his methods of leadership were unique to leading Marines, the importance of quality leadership to the success of an organization applies to any group or business. He points out some of the great leaders he worked with and for while also identifying several examples of poor leadership and their adverse impact. He also suggests that the demands of providing good leadership may come with both personal and professional challenges.

Bathurst entered the Marines as a troubled High School dropout who learned to thrive under the quality leadership of his NCOs. Throughout the rest of his career, he focused on developing and empowering NCO leadership as the key to organizational success. His career followed a unique path that provides insight into some specialized organizations in the Corps. His early experience as a junior Marine at Marine Barracks, Yokosuka, Japan was a turning point for him in learning discipline and the rewards of applying himself to being the best he could be. His involvement as a Drill Instructor (DI) and his experiences with recruits at Parris Island and later at Officer Candidate School in Quantico provided a unique perspective for anyone who has gone through either program.

During his service in Vietnam, he started as a Sergeant. He was quickly moved up to positions of leadership in his infantry unit, often serving as the Platoon Commander, an officer’s billet. His stories from Vietnam are alone worth reading. He was later promoted to Staff Sergeant and was nominated for promotion to both Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) and 2nd Lieutenant (2nd Lt).

His meritorious promotion to GySgt came through just as he reported to the Washington Marine Barracks at 8th & I. He soon learned that his promotion to 2ndLt was also approved, so he ended up taking over the Special Ceremonial Platoon, which included the Silent Drill Team, body bearer section and the color guard section. Seeing the “inside” of 8th & I is revealing to those who haven’t served there, and he includes some interesting stories of guarding Camp David for President Johnson. The 8th & I became his own personal Basic School in learning to be an Officer of Marines through the leadership of the other officers there.

During a joint training assignment at Fort Bragg, he was grateful for the special mentorship of an Army officer who ensured he started his college education. He served in numerous infantry officer positions, including Battalion and Regimental Command. One unique assignment was as the OIC of a Marine Barracks that was having difficulties. He was able to turn it around to be recognized as the Outstanding Marine Barracks of the Year. He also commanded the Recruit Station in Chicago, a very different type of command focused on “selling” the Marine Corps.

He dealt with a variety of leadership challenges with each of his assignments. “Sometimes you have to force a Marine to be successful,” he said. The other quote used for the title of the book actually came from his Recruiting Command Sergeant Major, “We’ll all die as Marines,” which alludes to the Marine custom of, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

He mentioned the outstanding leaders he worked with. He noted some weak leaders who mostly go unnamed. Toward the end of his career, he was in charge of Landing Force Training Command, Atlantic (LFTCLant) and led the introduction of riverine craft in the Marine Corps. His final position was as CO of the School of Infantry at Camp Lejeune. During this period, he faced both political and personal opposition from some other senior officers for often petty and unprofessional issues. He doesn’t hesitate to identify them by name, which is somewhat exceptional for a book of this nature.

This book was interesting for me. This autobiography is slightly odd in that he never mentions his family life other than his parents and brother until the end. Only then does he reveal the cost of his style of leadership that resulted in two divorces and three marriages. The book does not have footnotes or references, though it does have a nice Appendix and Glossary of Marine Corps terminology and abbreviations. Overall, a worthwhile read.

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Curt Marsh is a retired Marine Corps Colonel and Naval Aviator.

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BOOK REVIEW – Fallujah Redux: The Anbar Awakening and the Struggle with Al Qaeda

Fallujah ReduxBy Daniel R. Green and William F. Mullen III, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD (2014)
Reviewed by Craig Whiteside

Events this past summer in Iraq have been disappointing to those observers who felt that Iraq was on the road to a brighter future. This is particularly true after the tremendous investments made by the United States in blood and treasure over the years. There are many competing theories as to why things turned around in 2007. These include a “surge” of troops, the courting of Sunni tribes, and even a de facto segregation of religious sects that resulted from two years of ethnic cleansing. Many of these theories lack is a detailed reporting of exactly how the United States and its Iraqi allies were able to significantly reduce violence in such a short period of time. Fallujah Redux, a new book by Daniel Green and William Mullen, fills this void with a unique perspective on how their Marine unit accomplished such a feat in the crucial city of Fallujah in the troubled spring of 2007.

Green, a naval officer assigned as a tribal and leadership engagement officer attached to a nearby Special Operations Command unit, and Mullen, a Marine Corps battalion commander, take turns in an innovative and seamless back and forth that mirrors how security and governance tasks are intertwined in the counterinsurgency fight. The authors build a backstory of the recent history of Fallujah from a tribal and security perspective. This allows the reader to begin with them on their journey once they hit the ground in the greater Fallujah area. This background is thoughtful and avoids the pitfalls that often accompany “I was there” tales. We are able to follow the events of the two carefully interwoven perspectives once the authors’ firsthand experiences begin in Fallujah.

Fallujah Redux takes readers through their assessment of the area and the important events in Anbar that reverberated all the way back to the White House. The Sunni tribes that rebelled against the Al Qaeda affiliate (then known as the Islamic State of Iraq) did not do so out of any love of the United States. Both the tribes and members of the security forces had reservations about the Americans, but chose to turn on the Islamic State because of insurgent groups’ brutality and desire to dominate the social and economic ways of the tribes of Anbar. The authors describe how they invested time and patience into building relationships and trust with partners from the community in a variety of ways. In the end, they were able to show how important this was to their success.

There are some valuable lessons here for readers to learn about warfare in the contemporary setting. It is obvious that the leaders of this unit, like many others operating in the theater by 2007, have experienced leaders who “got it.” Mullen comments how other leaders don’t seem to understand the need to dominate the entire spectrum of warfare. He justifies this philosophy, observing that “we will be ordered to do whatever the nation needs done,” and therefore cannot pick and choose the type of missions military units want or like to do (p. 126). This book is in many ways a convincing extension of that argument.

One way the unit was able to scratch out progress compared to previous units was its ability to find viable partners in the form of the Mayor, Chief of Police, and local Army commanders. By late 2006, anyone who volunteered for these positions on the Iraqi side were usually dedicated patriots who were willing to do a job that could very quickly get them killed. Mullen and Green found properly vetted partners they could work with and who, once empowered, could take the reins and move toward independent operations. Developing the mindset and competencies for fighting a counterinsurgency and finding the right partners both take a great deal of time. This need for time should serve as a cautionary tale for those who seek quick solutions that capitalize on “shock and awe.” Effective solutions on the ground need time to develop.

The best takeaway from this book is the demonstration of what is truly the genius of our Armed Forces – flexible, adaptive leaders in action. Green and Mullen use contingency funds creatively to enhance the security of their partners effectively. They experimented with techniques like prisoner release ceremonies, the use of tribal auxiliaries to the police, increased reliance on tribal sheiks in local politics, and establishing jointly manned security stations. Some of these ideas came from Ramadi, where the Awakening movement took solid root. Others came from professional reading like Galula’s Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice and his Pacification in Algeria. Neither Green nor Mullen had strict marching orders to do what they did. They had leaders who gave guidance and end states and then got out of the way. The results were much greater than could have been imagined just six months previously.

In light of the current state of events in Iraq, my only wish is that the authors gave us a better picture of what happened after they left Fallujah. Like many military professionals, there is a perception that once the surge was done and violence fell, the job was complete. Any backsliding of the security situation must be the fault of politicians, particularly local Iraqi ones. Yet it was the military situation in Iraq that fell first. After a brief pause, the Islamic State began prosecuting a horrific campaign against the local governments, police, and tribal forces in Fallujah, Mosul, Diyala, and North Babil. War is not a sporting event that ends after a finite period. Our collective lack of curiosity as to what happened in Iraq after our units retreated out of the population areas of Iraq is responsible for our feeling of surprise at the recent collapse of Iraqi security in large areas of Sunni Iraq. I thought the authors could have paid more attention to this area. One other small correction: takfiri does not literally mean apostate (p. 62), it refers to an ideology where one claims the right to conclude another Muslim is an apostate, and therefore able to be killed. Many Iraqis called Al Qaeda in Iraq/Islamic State of Iraq members “takfiris,” because they killed otherwise observant Muslims either because they were affiliated with the government or not a Sunni.

This is a great work that fills a much needed gap in explaining why the surge was successful in reducing violence in Iraq from 2006-2008. Fallujah Redux tells a story our Armed Forces should be proud of for the hard-fought accomplishments in a very difficult situation, and it should help the reader understand some of the complexities facing today’s military. One hopes that many of the lessons of this book will be incorporated by our policy makers and military leaders so that we can end this cycle of deployments to a troubled but very important country to our security.


Craig Whiteside is an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, Monterey and teaches Theater Security Decision Making. He is an Army veteran of the Iraq war.

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BOOK REVIEW – Deadly PT Boat Patrols, A History: Task Group 50.1 New Guinea 1942-43

1512_001By Allan L. Lawrence, Self-Published with assistance from the Ellington Printery, Ellington, CT (2014)
Reviewed by Nathan D. Wells

The strategic impact that the U.S. Navy exercised during the Second World War, especially in the Pacific Theater of Operations, is well known. The combination of aircraft carrier battle groups and amphibious task forces proved a war-winning combination. The U.S. Navy was also involved in other, smaller endeavors such as Patrol-Torpedo (PT) Boat operations. PT boats were used in both the Pacific and European theaters, they fought a much more close-quarters type of war than their larger contemporaries. As they were constructed out of wood, their service was in many ways a return to the days of “wooden ships and iron men.” Usually associated with the service of future President John F. Kennedy, or the TV series McHale’s Navy, they provided yeoman service in often brutal fighting at point blank range. Allan Lawrence Jr.’s father and namesake served on one such PT Boat, and this volume serves as a chronicle of both the unit as a whole and the senior Lawrence. The project began by tracking his father’s personal sidearm; which gives insight into the close proximity of the fighting, as well as a personal relationship to the narrative.

Allan Lawrence, Sr. had an adventurous career at sea well before he set foot on a PT Boat. Like many during the Great Depression, he sought work where he could. In 1934, he signed on with the Atlantic and Caribbean Steam Navigation Company. For the remainder of that decade, he crisscrossed the globe on multiple ships. One of these ships ironically took part in the rescue operation for a sinking Japanese fishing vessel. In 1940, he joined the Naval Reserve militia and saw service on patrol craft and a destroyer in waters that would soon be favorite hunting grounds for German U-Boats. With the opening of hostilities, Lawrence transferred to the Motor Torpedo Squadron Base and Training Center (MTSBTC) at Melville, RI. Around the same time, the Pacific Theater was being divided into two operational theaters: the Central Pacific Area under Admiral Chester Nimitz and the Southwest Pacific Area under General Douglas MacArthur.

While the SWPA contained hundreds of miles of coastline and many islands, there were no major naval units initially assigned to it. The first naval force stationed in the area was Naval Division Seventeen, and in particular Task Force 50.1, a PT Boat force. As the author’s father would soon find out, operating as a semi-autonomous naval force under army jurisdiction made an already complicated zone of operation that much more difficult. The issue of maintenance facilities and spare parts for the hard-riding PT Boats was a constant source of tension. While nominally assigned at least eight boats, the squadron was often down to two or three crafts. They once had no boats serviceable for action!

While the SWPA was under Army command, it was also an international affair. General MacArthur’s headquarters were in Australia. That nation contributed mightily to the effort in the theater. One of the criticisms that MacArthur has come under fire for is how he often downplayed the vital role that Australian forces had in securing victory. Much the same could be said of those Marines and sailors in the SWPA. The main role for Task Force 50.1 was to interdict Japanese reinforcements arriving in the battle area via barge. The boats quickly replaced half of their torpedoes with additional heavy machine guns and set to work.

Along with destroying the landing craft, Task Force 50.1 crews were tasked with the unsettling job of liquidating any Japanese in the water within a mile from shore. Most Japanese at this stage in the war were unwilling to surrender, so all PT Boat crewmen were issued a sidearm. The US Navy had actually contracted Colt to produce 1,591 M1911 automatic pistols for PT Boat crews. The author’s father brought his issued sidearm back to the United States. The boats usually operated at night because the Japanese often had air superiority initially. The dark would help mask the direction that they were approaching from. They were mostly used for lightening hit-and-run attacks. They also helped serve a “mopping-up” function in one well-known battle. The Battle of the Bismarck Sea (March 2-4, 1943) is best known as a sort of payback for Pearl Harbor. Aircraft of the U.S. Fifth Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) attacked a large Japanese convoy carrying troops to Lae, New Guinea; causing heavy damage. This was the case during daylight hours; but once the sunset, the area became a PT Boat hunting ground. The crews referred to the battle simply as “That Lae Convoy Job.”[i]

Allan Lawrence Sr. was eventually medically evacuated from the area as a result of the effects of malaria. He was later assigned to the MTSBTC Melville fire department, quickly appointed as chief. He later became Chief Fire Inspector and Captain of the Newport Naval Base Fire Department, eventually serving as a police officer in Tiverton, RI. His son followed a similar path, serving in both the Hartford and Ellington, CT fire departments.

This is a fine book overall. The major criticism that I have is that additional detailed maps would have been helpful. My grandfather served in PT Boat squadrons during the war, which strengthened my interest in naval history. It is understandable why the younger Lawrence sought to research his father’s service. I recommend the volume to anyone interested in PT Boats, or the U.S. Navy’s “smaller” role in the Second World War.

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Nathan D. Wells is an adjunct instructor of History at Quincy College in Quincy, MA.

[i] Allan L. Lawrence, Deadly PT Boat Patrols, A History: Task Group 50.1 New Guinea 1942-43. (Self-Published with assistance from the Ellington Printery, Ellington, CT, 2014.) p. 192.

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BOOK REVIEW – Silent Strength: Remembering the Men of Genius and Adventure Lost in the World’s Worst Submarine Disaster

Silent StrengthBy D. Allen Kerr, Jetty House, Portsmouth, NH (2014)
Reviewed by Greg Stitz

Silent Strength: Remembering the Men of Genius and Adventure Lost in the World’s Worst Submarine Disaster can best be summed up using the title of one of its own chapters – “One Disaster, 129 Stories.” Silent Strength is the story of USS Thresher (SSN 593) and her loss on 10 April 1963. It also is the story of some of the 129 men lost aboard Thresher that day, as well as the story of their parents, siblings, wives and children, and the impact of their sudden passing on their families and the wider community. As the book noted, “almost everyone knew someone touched by the tragedy.”

The book is a compilation of articles published in 2013 during the 50th anniversary of Thresher‘s loss. The articles were published by the Seacoast Online and the Portsmouth (NH) Herald. The book represents a great opportunity to present these stories again, hopefully to a wider audience.

Silent Strength does a great job of interspersing the stories of Thresher‘s officers and crew with other aspects of the disaster, including Thresher‘s World War II namesake, the attempts to locate Thresher‘s wreckage, and even the impact Thresher‘s loss had on submarine design and maintenance.

Although short (124 pages), Silent Strength is notable as a companion to the other works about the disaster which are generally more focused on the technological side of the accident. Silent Strength especially complements the Navy’s official memorial book published in 1964. As the author notes, “Unfortunately, it would take an entire series of volumes to appropriately recognize each Thresher hero.”

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Greg Stitz works at the Maritime Administration in Washington, DC.

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