Archive for the 'World War II' Category

Oct 17

Innovative Scientific Analysis Tool at Underwater Archaeology Conservation Lab

Monday, October 17, 2011 1:54 PM

Dr. Raymond Hayes (left) and Head Conservator George Schwarz examine p-XRF data taken from a Civil War-era Aston pistol recovered from USS HOUSATONIC at the Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory.

NHHC volunteer, Dr. Raymond Hayes, Professor Emeritus at Howard University, Washington DC, and Woods Hole Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA, has partnered with the Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory (UACL) to analyze archaeological materials from historic naval shipwrecks.

Dr. Hayes has been awarded a Research & Discovery Grant from Olympus INNOV-X to examine archaeological components from shipwrecks using an innovative Delta portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) unit. This state-of-the-art technology uses an x-ray beam to identify the specific elements present within archaeological material. Dr. Hayes’ research endeavors to use this data to trace the elemental composition of a wood sample back to original construction materials, marine sediments, and sealing or fastening materials applied to wooden ships. Included in the study are data from USS Housatonic, USS Tulip, and CSS Alabama, as well as recently recovered artifacts from the 2011 USS Scorpion field project, the archaeological investigation of a Patuxent River shipwreck believed to be the flagship of the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla, which fought to defend Washington D.C. from the British during the War of 1812. As part of the Navy’s commemoration of the Flotilla’s important role in the War of 1812, a full excavation of the USS Scorpion site is anticipated.

Scientific technologies like pXRF provide archaeologists and conservators valuable chemical information that can be used to better conserve and interpret submerged cultural heritage. An innovative feature of pXRF devices is that they can be used in both the laboratory and the field to analyze artifacts recovered from wet environments. Artifacts from underwater sites can be difficult to initially identify as they may be encased within thick concretions or obscured by unidentifiable corrosion products, however, pXRF data can give archaeologists data which can signal the presence of an artifact. 

Detail of portable X-Ray Fluorescence machine collecting data from Civil War-era pistol.

Following recovery from underwater archaeological sites, artifacts are particularly susceptible to damage caused by soluble salts (e.g., chlorides) accumulated from the water or sediment that surrounded them for decades or even centuries. If allowed to crystallize, the salts expand and cause catastrophic damage which may result in complete destruction of the artifact. Data from pXRF can determine the concentration of chlorine within an artifact to help conservators understand the degree of salt contamination and mitigate it properly. During conservation, pXRF can help conservators develop the most optimal treatment plan for artifacts and reveal the presence of toxic components, such as lead, cadmium or arsenic. Comparative data may also reveal similarities or differences in artifact composition that could suggest age and geographic origins.

This is only one part of the extensive research that goes on at the Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Lab, where over 2300 artifacts recovered from US Navy shipwrecks and aircraft wrecks are curated, 140 of which are currently undergoing active conservation treatment. The Laboratory, located in BL 46 of WNYD, also hosts public tours showcasing important artifacts that span from the American Revolution to World War II and make the Navy’s history come alive! Please feel free to contact us anytime (202.433.9731) if you’d like to visit!

 For more information about the NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch and the Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory, please visit http://www.history.navy.mil/underwater.

 
Sep 15

Landings on Peleliu, 15 September 1944

Thursday, September 15, 2011 12:01 AM

Operation Stalemate II—the landing of the 1st Marine Division on Peleliu—began on 15 September 1944. Aircraft of Task Group 38.4 and four escort carriers of Carrier Unit One, Rear Admiral William D. Sample commanding, supported the Marines with bombing and strafing runs. The Japanese had prepared the main line of resistance inland from the beaches to escape naval bombardment, however, and three preceding days of carrier air attacks and intense naval gunfire had failed to suppress the well dug-in and tenacious defenders, who fiercely contested the island.

The fleet carriers supported the landing until 18 September, and a total of 10 escort carriers operating in Task Group 32.7, Rear Admiral Ralph A. Ofstie commanding, continued the battle until the end of the month. Soldiers of the Army’s 81st Division reinforced the Marines, and the final Japanese survivors surrendered on 1 February 1945.

 
Sep 2

Japanese Surrender in Color

Friday, September 2, 2011 12:30 AM

This color film of the Japanese Surrender was taken on 2 September 1945 by Commander George F. Kosco, USN. In 2010, the Kosco family restored the film and kindly presented the NHHC with a copy of the film. Original film is silent.

 
Jun 21

Okinawa Secured

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 1:49 AM
June 21st 1945
 
Okinawa declared secure after the most costly Naval Campaign in history. U.S. had 30 ships sunk, 233 damaged (mostly from Kamikaze attacks), 5000 dead & 5000 wounded.

In November 1957, Proceedings published an article by Commander J. Davis Scott of the U.S. Naval Reserve, about a rescued aviator’s extraordinary experience aboard a destroyer during an attack by Japanese planes. The article, which was written on the USS Bennington while it was a member of Task Force 58 off Okinawa, is prefaced with the following note:

For more than ten years this has been an untold story. Written aboard the USS Bennington (CV-20)—a member of Task Force 58—during the weeks when the Bennington was a vital part of the “Fleet That Came to Stay” off Okinawa in 1945, the article was withheld from publication by Commander-in-Chief Pacific Ocean Area because it told too much about the success of the dreaded Japanese kamikaze. It has now been released by the Department of Defense. Few personal tales in World War II can compare with that experienced by Marine Lieutenant Junie B. Lohan during the height of the kamikaze attacks. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 19

Battle of the Philippine Sea

Sunday, June 19, 2011 5:42 PM

While June 1944, is most remembered for the events that happened in Normandy, the month also marked the launching of another pivotal D-Day in the Mariana Islands, the inner ring of the island strongholds defending Japan. As expected, the Imperial Japanese Navy contested the invasion of the Marianas, confronting the U.S. Navy in what became known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea on June 19-20, 1944.

The first day included massive air attacks against U.S. Navy carriers, during which the Japanese lost scores of planes to defending F6F Hellcat fighters, prompting one aviator to liken the air-to-air combat to an “old-fashioned turkey shoot.” The following day, U.S. carriers were released from covering the beachheads to pursue the enemy fleet from which the planes had been launched the previous day, getting into position to launch strikes at extreme range late in the afternoon of June 20th.

Among those taking to the air was Aviation Radioman Second Class John Conrad Bramer, Jr., of Bombing Squadron (VB) 14 on board the carrier Wasp (CV 18), whose diary captured what turned out to be a lengthy mission. Bramer and his pilot, Lieutenant (junior grade) Albert Walraven, left Wasp’s deck at 1630. Arriving over the enemy, Walraven picked his target and initiated his dive bombing run.

“Then the fireworks started. More anti-aircraft fire came up at us from those ships below than I ever had the misfortune to dodge up until that time,” Bramer wrote. After dropping his bomb on an oiler, Walraven exited the area. “The ‘ack-ack’ followed us for quite a while and when it stopped I thought my worries were over. In reality our troubles were only beginning.” Fighters of the Japanese combat air patrol descended on the SB2C, prompting evasive action by Walraven as Bramer fired his .30-caliber machine guns at the enemy planes. Fortunately, F6F Hellcats that had escorted the strike group arrived on the scene, driving off the Japanese fighters.

Launched at the limits of their combat range, the crews that took off from U.S. carriers that day understood that many would not be able to make it back to their ships. The maneuvering to avoid the attacking Japanese aircraft took its toll on Welraven and Bramer’s fuel supply, and “about 2105 we broke off from the formation, and started in for our forced landing. After removing my parachute I braced myself for the impact. It was pitch dark so Mr. Walraven had to land entirely by instruments and a beautiful landing it was.” Nevertheless, the jolt of hitting the water sent Bramer’s face crashing into some equipment around him, breaking his nose.

Inflating their life raft and climbing aboard, the two men awaited the dawn and hoped for rescue. Daylight soon brought the sight of an aircraft on the horizon, the use of a signal mirror and flare prompting its pilot to fly over the raft and drop a dye marker. After a time more aircraft appeared, the sight of one of them peeling off as if to begin a strafing run prompting the downed fliers to jump overboard. Thankfully, the aircraft were F6F Hellcats, which circled over the raft for a time until relieved by another pair of fighter planes. In short order, a mast appeared on the horizon, the two men in the raft welcoming the sight of the submarine Seawolf (SS 197).

The pair remained aboard until Seawolf returned to her base at Midway Atoll, from which they were transported back to Wasp. “After two weeks of traveling by boat, car, jeep, ship, and airplane,” Bremer concluded, “we finally reached our ship and it certainly was swell to get back.”

 
Jun 2

Navy TV – Personal history of D Day

Thursday, June 2, 2011 12:25 PM

In a digital video oral history, D-Day survivor Peter Fantacone recalls his experience on Omaha Beach as a crewmember on USS LCI-492. This June 6 marks the 67th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

Watch Mr. Fantacone’s personal account here on NavyTV.

 
Feb 10

Navy TV – USS Intrepid- the legend and history

Thursday, February 10, 2011 10:19 AM

In commemoration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation kick-off event in San Diego this week, NavyTV has dug up from the archives a great video about the USS Intrepid (CV-11), the legendary aircraft carrier, which served this nation from WWII through the height of the Cold War. After being decommissioned in 1974, the Intrepid became the foundation of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City in 1982. Watch The Story of the USS Intrepid here on NavyTV.

 
Jan 10

Battle of Attu: Task Force 51

Monday, January 10, 2011 12:01 AM

In June 1942, the island of Attu in the Aleutian Islands was captured by the Japanese. The island was retaken by American forces in May 1943. This silent film contains footage of the ships of Task Force 51 en route to Attu in 1943 in support of the American invasion.

Source: Naval History and Heritage Command, Photographic Section, UM-23.

 
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