Archive for the 'Navy' Category

Apr 11

Out of the Jaws of Victory

Monday, April 11, 2016 12:01 AM


Highly decorated for his role in gaining victory over the Japanese at Midway, Captain Miles Browning was defeated by his most implacable enemy--himself. (National Archives)

Like a character in classical tragedy, blessed by the gods with nearly every advantage, Miles Browning also possessed fatal flaws that ultimately brought him down. Endowed with striking looks, high intelligence, slide-rule brain, useful marital connections, exceptional flying ability and the patronage of America’s favorite admiral, Browning seemed perfectly poised to achieve high command as aviation emerged at the cutting edge of naval warfare. And yet, not until his retirement was it deemed safe to raise Browning to flag rank. Historian Samuel E. Morison, who knew him, called Browning “one of the most irascible officers ever to earn a fourth… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 24

The Russian Intervention of 1918-1919

Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:01 AM


Marines from the USS Brooklyn (ACR-3) are put ashore as part of the Intervention, ca. 1918. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Though the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps have had a long history of interventions in other countries, none perhaps has made such a long-lasting impact on world history as that which followed the Russian Revolution in 1917. In the following excerpts from his 1969 Proceedings article “Our Russian War of 1918-1919,” Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley (1908-2000) discusses the causes and events of the war that “soured U. S.-Soviet relations for almost a generation” and beyond. Fighting and dying in the swamps and forests were Russian patriots, both Red and White, Americans, French, British, Serbians, Italians and Finns. There were many threads… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 9

Salty Talk

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 12:01 AM



How are you at keeping a secret, especially one you know will give pleasure to a loved one? Not so good? And when you do give it away, perhaps someone will observe that you “let the cat out of the bag.” That seemingly innocent little phrase has a grisly history. A ship’s crew was a polyglot collection of men from many walks of life and even many more countries. Their reasons for going to sea were equally varied, and not all of them honorable. Keeping such a group under control in the restricted environment of a wooden ship for weeks… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 4

The Great Graphic Novel of the World War II Pacific—and the Man Behind It

Friday, March 4, 2016 3:42 PM


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Writing for Naval History is always an interesting undertaking, but sometimes a genuinely unique topic comes along—in this case, it was one that represented a fusion of two lifelong interests: naval history in general (and World War II naval history in particular), and comic books. In researching and writing the Sam Glanzman story, I got to retrace the amazing, prolific, and long-running career of a legendary comics artist—and also got to immerse myself in his most celebrated work: A Sailor’s Story, his great 1980s graphic-novel memoir of his Pacific war experiences, now available for a new generation of readers in… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 1

On Naval History’s Scope

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 12:01 AM



On 20 September 1945, two-and-a-half weeks after he’d hosted the formal Japanese surrender on board his flagship, Admiral William F. Halsey Jr. headed for home. Among the many respects paid to the celebrated commander was one he especially treasured. “Your departure leaves all your old comrades of the Pacific war lonesome indeed,” messaged General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. “You carry with you the admiration and affection of every officer and man. May your shadow never decrease.” That was a tall order because “Bull” Halsey had cast an enormous shadow during the conflict. His battle accomplishments were many, but in… Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 22

Oil & Politics: Harding’s Watergate

Monday, February 22, 2016 12:01 AM



Teapot Dome, Wyoming, was once the location of a naval oil field—and the name of a forgotten 1920s political scandal that took place there. The naval oil reserves were exactly that: petroleum reserved specifically for the Navy. However, when President Warren G. Harding nominated Senator Albert Fall as Secretary of the Interior, this changed. Fall convinced President Harding to transfer ownership from the Navy to his department, and then abused his position to allow two oil men, Edward Doheny and Harry Sinclair, to drill there in exchange for substantial bribes. Their illegal arrangement was eventually discovered and the property was… Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 15

The Flying Banana

Monday, February 15, 2016 12:01 AM


Marines fan out after disembarking from Piasecki HRP-1s during a demonstration at Quantico, Virginia. Twelve of the fabric-covered helicopters served with the Marine Corps between 1948 and 1952. (U.S. Marine Corps)

The Piasecki HRP Rescuer—usually called the “flying banana”—was the first U.S. helicopter developed under a military contract. The nickname came from the “bent” fuselage with overlapping tandem rotors at either end, the latter a characteristic of Piasecki helicopters. The HRP-1 design was the second helicopter developed by Frank N. Piasecki’s P. V. Engineering Forum, the first being a single-seat, single-rotor craft. A privately built Piasecki demonstration helicopter with tandem rotors—designated HRP-X—flew on 7 March 1945. The Navy had ordered two XHRP-1 models on 1 February 1944, with the flight-test aircraft delivered in June 1947. The second XHRP-1 was used for… Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 11

Excerpt from “The Black Midshipman at the Naval Academy”

Thursday, February 11, 2016 12:01 AM


Dr. Alonzo C. McClennan.

For this week’s post, and in honor of Black History Month, the Naval History Blog offers a selection from a 1973 article in Proceedings by By Lieutenant Commander R. L. Field, U. S. Navy (Retired). In the following selection, Lieutenant Commander Field discusses some of the earliest black midshipmen appointed to the the Naval Academy. It is presented here without additional commentary other than to note that readers are encouraged to explore the remarkable lives of the men noted by LCDR Field after their separation from the academy.   The U. S. Naval Academy was established in 1845 by an… Read the rest of this entry »

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