Archive for November, 2018

Nov 29

The Spirit and the Fortitude of the 39th Battalion

Thursday, November 29, 2018 12:01 AM

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Members of the 39th Battalion 6 September 1942 (Australian War Memorial)

In his war commentary, Bellum Gallicum, Julius Caesar wrote, “In war great events are the results of small causes.” History is replete with examples of this dictum; stirring sagas of courage under fire; gallant stands by a handful of men against overwhelming odds; small battles that disproportionally influenced the outcome of major wars; epic chronicles that inspire us to this day. This article will address the lesser known but equally deserving Battle of the Kokoda Trail in 1942 which saved Australia and profoundly influenced the War in the Pacific. In the spring of 1942 Allied prospects were grim. Rommel was… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 28

Unadilla-Class Gunboats

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 11:59 AM

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Lithograph of the USS Unadilla (1861) underway.

Did you know that today, on the 28th of November, 1863, the USS Chippewa convoyed the Army transports Monohansett and Mayflower up Skull Creek, South Carolina, on a reconnaissance mission? I don’t imagine the majority of folks do, unless they are American Civil War buffs, but I learned that particular fact perusing through today’s events in history, looking for a subject for my blog post. While the specifics of this mission (which was successful, by the by) aren’t the subject of my blog post today, looking into this event was the catalyst for what I will be covering: Unadilla-class gunboats…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 20

Day 7- March 23- Guam

Tuesday, November 20, 2018 12:01 AM

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(Courtesy of the Author)

Lieutenant Leroy Fadem recently revisited sites in the Pacific where he saw action in the Navy during the tumultuous years of the War in the Pacific over 70 years ago. This is a journal of that recent trip as kept by his son, Steven Fadem, who accompanied Lt. Fadem on that journey of rediscovery. The day started with a brilliant rainbow. It also started out with a potentially amazing discovery. I previously noted in our program that one of the WWII vets, Marine Frank Campisano, served in Nagasaki. I located him in the lobby this morning and was inquiring as… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 16

Scuttlebutt: Thanksgiving 1943

Friday, November 16, 2018 12:09 PM

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USS Hermitage: Scuttlebutt's Thanksgiving edition - 1943

The Naval Institute Archive was recently the recipient of a lucky find by Bill Foley of Boston who came upon some USS Hermitage (AP-54) papers left behind in an attic of a house that a friend of his purchased. Among those papers was a stack of “Scuttlebutt” newspapers, which kept the crew up to date on news around the world and included lighter pieces that were presented in an entertaining way. “Scutttlebutt” was published daily, and I’m sure it was appreciated much as our modern day sailors enjoy digital content to connect them to the world beyond their ship at sea.

 
Nov 13

USS Lakatoi – A Short, but Heroic Life

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 12:01 AM

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USS Lakatoi (Australian War Museum)

If there were a contest to find the U.S. Navy ship with the shortest career from commissioning to sinking, USS Lakatoi, with just six days, would certainly be a serious competitor. Its career was so short the ship never received a hull number. I would never have heard about the ship if not asked to find out the truth behind a “sea story.” The sea story began with an improbable premise – a U.S. Navy midshipman assigned to duty at Guadalcanal during the desperate days of 1942. After extensive research, I found two of the four officers of USS Lakatoi,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 8

This Day in History: The Trent Affair

Thursday, November 8, 2018 12:01 AM

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Trent affair engraving

November 8 marks the anniversary of the Trent Affair of 1861. During the opening months of the Civil War, the U.S. Navy stopped the British mail steamer RMS Trent and seized two Confederate diplomats bound for England in the hope of negotiating diplomatic recognition for the secessionist states. The Trent Affair itself threatened to achieve exactly that and brought the United States and Great Britain close to war. Author James D. Hill wrote extensively of the Trent Affair and one of its main players—Captain Chalres Wilkes, U.S. Navy—in the July 1931 issue of Proceedings. It is excerpted here.

 
Nov 6

Damage Control on the USS Houston (CL-81)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 8:24 AM

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RADM George H. Miller

In this selection, future RADM George H. Miller recounts the torpedoing of the USS Houston (CL-81) in October of 1944, off the coast of Formosa, Japan. Miller, then a damage control officer, describes a harrowing attack, leaving the ship severely damaged and flooding rapidly. While assessing the damage, Miller determined the ship had “more water on board in comparison with our displacement than any other ship that survived in World War II.” Miller’s early years in the Navy included service in the USS California (BB-44), Tuscaloosa (CA-37), Zane (DD-337), Goff (DD-247), Gilmer (DD-233), St. Louis (DD-233), and Houston (CL-81). Miller was XO of the Houston the latter period of the war. Later tours were:… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 1

100 Years Ago In USN LTA

Thursday, November 1, 2018 12:01 AM

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North Sea LTA (U.S. Naval Institute Archive)

The following is reprinted with permissions from The Noon Balloon. The late LTAS guru Dr. Dale Topping lamented that in any given book or publication about LTA, at least one photo will always be mis-identified. We often offer gently worded guidance to well meaning LTA-inclusive media to help over previous hiccups, but we are respectful, since we too have to recruit from the human race, and allow too many typos to count. While we LTA nuts realize the photo contains neither a seat nor a depth charge, we held off telling the U.S. Naval Institute it is a North Sea,… Read the rest of this entry »