Archive for the 'World War II' Category

May 19

Admiral Kimmel and the Attack

Friday, May 19, 2017 2:59 PM

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Pacific Fleet Commander-in-Chief Admiral Husband Kimmel (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

  Beginning in December 2016, I began writing a series of monthly (approximately) “H-Grams” that go to all active-duty and retired Navy flag officers, and the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, with the expectation that they would be disseminated further to fleet Sailors, and with the acceptance that they would make their way “into the wild.” I did this with the approval of the Chief of Naval Operations and Director, Navy Staff to support the Navy’s “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority” which includes a sub-task to “Know Our History.” My intent is to write them in a way… Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 2

Cameraman Norm Hatch: In His Own Words

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 12:01 AM

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Hatch

Amid the whirlwind of the Battle of Tarawa, Japanese soldiers dash for cover as nearby Marines open fire. A cameraman, then–Staff Sergeant Norman Hatch, captured the gripping scene—the only instance that U.S. servicemen and enemy forces appeared in the same World War II combat images. But the footage was only a fraction of what Hatch filmed on Tarawa’s Betio Atoll, the highlights of which appeared in a short documentary, With the Marines at Tarawa. The historic film brought the grim realities of Pacific island fighting to the American home front and earned the 1945 Academy Award for best short-subject documentary. Retired… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 7

A Taranto–Pearl Harbor Connection?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 11:39 AM

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Fairey Swordfish bombers from HMS Illustrious head toward an inferno of antiaircraft fire and burning ships in Robert Taylor's depiction of the raid on the Italian harbor of Taranto. (The Military Gallery, www.militarygallery.com)

On the night of 11 November 1940, Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm aircraft attacked Italian battleships at anchor in the port of Taranto, Italy. On the morning of 7 December 1941, aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s carrier strike force attacked the battleships and other assets of the U.S. Navy at anchor in Pearl Harbor. Is there a connection between the two attacks?

 
Nov 4

Remembering the Caribsea

Friday, November 4, 2016 12:01 AM

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The nameplate of the motor merchant Caribsea. Photo by the author

Just after midnight on March 11, 1942, 22-year-old Jim Gaskill, second mate of the ore freighter Caribsea, went off watch and turned in for the night. The Caribsea and her crew of 28 had departed Santiago, Cuba, on March 2, and the ship would soon arrive in Norfolk with her valuable cargo of manganese. The freighter had slowed, waiting until daybreak and with it, air cover, to pass Diamond Shoals—which by March 1942 had seen such carnage from German U-boats it had become known as Torpedo Junction. As Gaskill left the bridge, perhaps he gazed out into the darkness toward his… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 1

One Flare, or Two?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 3:54 PM

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Frank Och's watercolor depicts the wrecked ARIZONA resting on the bottom of  Pearl Harbor. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

As the first attack wave of Japanese bombers and fighters passed over northern Oahu, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida faced a critical decision. Should he fire one signal flare, indicating his aircraft would use the “surprise” attack plan, or two, signaling the “no surprise” plan? To armchair admirals, the answer is obvious; however, the first-wave commander fired two flares. Why he did so and the consequences of his actions are the subject of the lead article in Naval History magazine’s 75th anniversary commemoration of the Pearl Harbor attack. The author of “Commander Fuchida’s Decision,” retired Navy Commander Alan Zimm, won the U.S…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 16

An Immersive Battleship Experience

Friday, September 16, 2016 4:33 PM

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DSC_0484

In 1916 the U.S. Navy had visions of commanding the world’s greatest fleet—and a big naval appropriations bill that promised the construction of ten battleships armed with 16-inch guns. But the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty ended those dreams for the foreseeable future; only three of the battlewagons were completed. After a building hiatus of more than a dozen years, the keels were laid for a pair of modern 16-inch battleships, the North Carolina (BB-55), namesake of the two-ship class, and the Washington (BB-56). The ships were commissioned within five weeks of each other in the spring of 1941 and went… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 12

‘Nurse’ in Iconic WWII Kiss Photo Dies

Monday, September 12, 2016 11:46 AM

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(courtesy of Greta Friedman)

Greta Zimmer Friedman, the woman in one of history’s most memorable photographs, passed away on 8 September at age 92 after suffering a number of ailments, according to her family. On 14 August 1945, she was a dental assistant who had wandered into Time Square when news broke of the Japanese surrender. Famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of Zimmer being kissed by a stranger, Petty Officer First Class George Mendonsa, indelibly captured the celebratory mood in New York City and throughout the country. Many have claimed to be the sailor and the “nurse” in the photograph, but the most thorough study of the impromptu embrace–Lawrence Verria… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 2

Tales from a Tarawa Marine

Friday, September 2, 2016 3:05 PM

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Roy Elrod was a first lieutenant when he led his four-gun 37-mm antitank platoon ashore on Tarawa Atoll's Betio Island.

In the course of my duties as the oral historian for the U.S. Marine Corps History Division, I interview Marines, all ranks and all time periods. I was made aware of Lieutenant Colonel Roy H. Elrod in an unusual manner: through family friends from Muleshoe, Texas. This is where I grew up and, coincidentally, where Roy grew up, but about 30 years apart. Now Roy and I live within five miles of each other, but more than 1,500 miles from Muleshoe, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was quite impressed when I met Roy. Here he was 93 years old; he lived… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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