Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Figure 1: USS Tutuila (PG-44) in China, date and location unknown. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Tutuila (PG-44) in Chungking, China. Date unknown. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Tutuila (PG-44) in China, circa 1928. US Navy photo from Jane's Fighting Ships. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Tutuila (PG-44) circa 1928 on the Yangtze River. Photo from the Tutuila (ARG 4), 20th Birthday edition (1964) Welcome Aboard pamphlet. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: The gunboat USS Tutuila sits at anchor across from Chungking in 1941. On the day this picture was taken five bombs narrowly missed the vessel. Photo by Carl Mydans for Life magazine. Photo from the October 1973 edition of All Hands magazine. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Tutuila (PG-44) at Chungking during bombing raid. US Navy photo from the July 1978 edition of All Hands magazine. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: US gunboat in the midst of a Japanese bombing raid on Chungking, China. USS Tutuila, the only American gunboat in Chinese nationalist waters, is shown standing by the American embassy on the “south bank” of Chungking, as Japan’s air forces rained incendiary bombs on the Chinese capital. Clouds of smoke swirled around the little river craft and although bombs and shells fell close to her, Tutuila was not injured. Photo from the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: “Far Yangtze Station” by artist Tom Freeman. USS Tutuila standing watch at Chungking, China, in 1939. Signed by artist Tom Freeman and Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley, who was the Executive Officer on board Tutuila. Print available for purchase at the US Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after an island in American Samoa, USS Tutuila (PG-44) was one of six American gunboats built by the Kiangnan Dockyard and Engineering Works in Shanghai, China. Commissioned on 2 March 1928, Tutuila was part of the US Asiatic Fleet and was built specifically for patrolling China’s Yangtze River. The ship was approximately 159 feet long and 27 feet wide, had a top speed of 14.37 knots, and had a crew of 61 officers and men. Tutuila had a fully-loaded draft of only 5 feet 5 inches, which made her ideally suited for some of the shallower waters of the Yangtze River. The gunboat also was armed with two 3-inch guns and approximately ten 30-caliber machine guns.
As part of the famous Yangtze Patrol (YangPat), Tutuila was re-designated from a gunboat to a river gunboat (PR-4) on 15 June 1928. She went on her shakedown cruise up the Yangtze River from Shanghai to I’Chang, where she rendezvoused with her sister ship USS Guam (PR-3) in mid-July. Their principal missions included convoying river steamers through the upper parts of the Yangtze, conducting armed patrols of the river, providing armed guards for American flagged steamers, “showing the flag” and protecting American lives and property in a country that was plagued by bandits, pirates, warlords, and civil war.
American gunboats on the Yangtze drew occasional sniper fire from shore by bandits and warlord troops in the 1920s and 1930s and Tutuila was no exception. During one such incident in 1929, Tutuila was fired on by some troops loyal to a local warlord. Lieutenant Commander S. E. Truesdell, commanding officer of the gunboat, went on shore to discuss the matter with the warlord. During the meeting, the Chinese warlord stated that his men were mere “country boys, who meant no harm.” Truesdell replied that he, too, had some “country boys” on board his ship and that they were pointing one of the ship’s 3-inch guns right at the warlord’s headquarters. The sniper fire from the warlord’s troops ended immediately after the meeting.
By 1937, duty on the Yangtze had changed dramatically. The Sino-Japanese war had escalated in July and had quickly spread to the Yangtze valley in August and September. Japanese military activity along and on the Yangtze soon proved dangerous to gunboats from other nations. On 12 December 1937, the American gunboat USS Panay (PR-5) was sunk by Japanese aircraft. Japan claimed it was an accident, even though Panay was clearly marked and identified as an American warship. On 3 August 1938, Tutuila followed her sister ship USS Luzon (PR-7) up the Yangtze to Chungking, carrying the American Ambassador, Nelson T. Johnson, to the embassy there. However, the Japanese eventually captured Hankow in October 1938, effectively cutting off Chungking from the entrance to the Yangtze. The Japanese Navy prevented any ships from leaving the area, which meant that Tutuila was basically stranded at Chungking, where she would remain until 1941.
After the fall of Hankow, the Chinese moved their capital up river to Chungking, where Tutuila was stationed. She now was officially the American station ship for Chungking, which was a rather hollow title considering that there was no hope of rescuing, let alone relieving, this stranded little warship. Japanese forces began advancing on Chungking, bombing it repeatedly from the air. Although many bombs fell on the city and on the river, Tutuila managed to avoid all of them. But on 31 July 1941, a near miss seriously damaged the gunboat, blowing a hole at her waterline and causing some flooding. The ship, though, remained afloat.
Towards the end of 1941, the situation on the Yangtze seemed desperate. Two of YangPat’s last remaining four river gunboats (USS Luzon and USS Oahu, PR-6) managed to leave Shanghai and made a remarkable voyage to Manila on 28 November 1941. Of the other two gunboats, USS Wake (PR-3) stayed at Shanghai as station ship while Tutuila remained stranded at Chungking. On 5 December 1941, the Yangtze Patrol was officially deactivated. A few days later, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Wake was captured by Japanese forces at Shanghai. Tutuila remained isolated, but still was under American control deep inside China.
Unfortunately, the small gunboat’s days were numbered. The crew of Tutuila (which now numbered only two officers and 22 enlisted men) eventually was ordered to abandon their ship and leave Chungking. Although saddened at the prospect of leaving their ship, these tough old Asiatic Fleet veterans probably knew a hopeless situation when they saw one. What remained of Tutuila’s crew was flown out of Chungking and the Naval Attache attached to the American Embassy in that city formally handed over the ship to representatives of the Republic of China on 16 February 1942. The ship was renamed Mei Yuan (which roughly translates to “of American origin”) and the gunboat officially was stricken from the US Navy list on 25 March 1942. The ship remained with Nationalist Chinese forces until after World War II and was scuttled sometime in 1948 to prevent her from being captured by Chinese communist forces.
American gunboats served all over the world and were always considered to be small and expendable warships. But real people served on board those “expendable” ships, often facing dangerous situations with little recognition and even less hope of success when confronted by a larger and more powerful enemy. Cut off from the rest of the fleet, the men of Tutuila held out as long as they could before having to give up their ship. Remarkably, this tough little gunboat survived the war only to go down in yet another conflict along the troubled Yangtze River.
Posted by Remo at 9:50 AM
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Figure 1: Alongside the radio-controlled target ship Coast Battleship No. 4 (ex-USS Iowa, Battleship # 4), probably off the coast of Panama, circa February-March 1923. Quail provided salvage support during exercises with the target ship. Courtesy of Mrs. C.R. DeSpain, 1973. From the scrapbooks of Fred M. Butler. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: Review of the Atlantic Fleet Minesweeping Squadron, November 1919. Ships of the squadron anchored in the Hudson River, off New York City, while being reviewed by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels on 24 November 1919, following their return to the United States after taking part in clearing the North Sea mine barrage. Identifiable ships present include (left column, from front to rear): USS Turkey (Minesweeper # 13); USS Quail (Minesweeper # 13) with SC-354 alongside; USS Lark (Minesweeper # 21) with SC-208 alongside; USS Swan (Minesweeper # 34) with SC-356 alongside; and USS Flamingo (Minesweeper # 13) with an unidentified submarine chaser alongside. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: Six "O" type submarines nested alongside a pier in Central America or the Caribbean, circa 1923-1924. USS O-6 (SS-67) and USS O-9 (SS-70) are the two outboard submarines. USS Quail (AM-15) is also alongside the pier, in the left background. Courtesy of the Estate of Virginia Cornwell, 1982. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Galveston (CL-19) (center) with USS Quail (AM-15) (at left) probably at Corinto, Nicaragua, in December 1926 - February 1927, during the Nicaraguan revolution. Collection of John Spector, donated by Mrs. Minnie Spector, 1986. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Lieutenant Commander John Morrill, standing in the stern sheets by the till, and his 17 crewmen from USS Quail on board their camouflaged 36-foot motor launch. Courtesy Rear Admiral John Morrill. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Map showing the route traveled by Lieutenant Commander John Morrill and his men from Corregidor, the Philippines, to Darwin, Australia. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: A copy of the book “South From Corregidor,” written by Lieutenant Commander John Morrill, which recounted his amazing escape from the Philippines and his subsequent voyage to Australia with 17 men in a 36-foot motor launch. Click on photograph for larger image.
USS Quail (AM-15) was an 840-ton Lapwing class minesweeper that was built by the Chester Shipbuilding Company at Chester, Pennsylvania, and was commissioned on 29 April 1919. The ship was approximately 187 feet long and 35 feet wide, had a top speed of 14 knots, and a crew of 61 officers and men. Quail had a modest armament of only two 3-inch guns.
Shortly after being commissioned, Quail was sent to Kirkwall, Scotland, where she was assigned to the North Sea Mine Sweeping Detachment. This unit was given the task of clearing thousands of mines from the North Sea after the end of World War I. Quail continued working with this unit until 25 November 1919.
In 1920, Quail was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and operated mainly in Cuban waters and along America’s east coast. In September 1922, she was transferred to the submarine base at Coco Solo, Canal Zone, and patrolled the Caribbean. The next year, Quail was sent back to America’s east coast and in 1925 she went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for an extensive overhaul.
In 1927, Quail was given the task of patrolling the west coast of Nicaragua and later joined naval maneuvers in the Caribbean. From July 1928 to January 1929, Quail found herself back on the east coast patrolling the waters between Virginia and Massachusetts. She returned to Coco Solo in 1929, but from 1931 to early 1941 Quail was based at Pearl Harbor, although she did complete some survey work off the coast of Alaska during this time.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Quail was in the Philippines as part of the US Asiatic Fleet. During the defense of Corregidor, Quail served in her capacity as a minesweeper and swept a channel that provided access to South Harbor, Corregidor. But as the Japanese began closing in on Corregidor, almost all of the remaining American ships in the Philippines were destroyed. Somehow the Quail managed to survive enemy air and sea attacks for several weeks. But her luck finally ran out on 5 May 1942. On that day, the Japanese bombed the small American gunboat Mindanao and the minesweeper Pigeon and sank both of them. Quail had been hit by three 6-inch shells and was in very bad shape. Two-thirds of her crew was sent to man the guns on Corregidor, leaving only a handful of men on board the ship.
On the night of 5 May, as the Japanese bombarded Corregidor for their final invasion of the island fortress, Lieutenant Commander J. H. Morrill was standing on board what was left of his ship, the minesweeper Quail. He watched in awe as the Japanese pounded Corregidor with hundreds of cannons positioned on the coast directly opposite the island. What Morrill didn’t know while watching this spectacle was that he was standing on the last ship of the US Asiatic Fleet in Philippine waters. By 4:30 AM on 6 May, Morrill received a message from land that he was to place the rest of his men ashore at Fort Hughes, Caballo Island, to man the antiaircraft guns there. As more of Morrill’s crew left the ship to go to Fort Hughes, Japanese aircraft were bombarding Corregidor as well as Fort Hughes. However, during these air raids, the Japanese seemed to ignore the damaged Quail, perhaps thinking that the sinking minesweeper wasn’t worth bombing. By 10:30 AM Morrill received his last order from headquarters on Corregidor instructing him to scuttle his ship.
Lieutenant Commander Morrill went ashore at Fort Hughes and found some men to help him scuttle Quail. But when they were ready to board the ship’s boat to return to the minesweeper, a shell sank their small boat. Morrill and four men swam 200 yards to another small boat moored near the dock and, while under enemy fire from circling Japanese warplanes, somehow managed to return to Quail. Morrill and his men made it back to the minesweeper and they scuttled the ship.
After Quail was gone, Morrill and his men took their boat, a 36-foot naval motor launch, and went to the deserted tug Ranger that was beached nearby on Caballo Island. Once there, Morrill decided that he was not going to surrender to the Japanese and that he and his men were going to escape. They searched Ranger for clothes, guns, ammunition and, most important, diesel fuel for their motor launch. They found about 450 gallons of diesel fuel on board the beached tug and stowed it in their boat. That night, Morrill went to Fort Hughes and asked the surviving members of Quail’s crew if they wanted to join him on his journey. He had a pocket watch, some diesel fuel, a few small-scale charts of the Philippines and the Netherlands East Indies, and a little food and water. He proposed that they board the 36-foot motor launch and try to make it to Australia. Some of the crewmembers were just too exhausted to even contemplate such a journey, but 17 men decided to join Morrill and take their chances with the sea rather than surrender to the Japanese.
At 10:15 on the evening of 6 May 1942, Lieutenant Commander J. H. Morrill and 17 of Quail’s crewmembers set off on a remarkable journey south towards Australia. They initially traveled at night and hugged the coastline as their 36-foot motor launch plodded along at three knots. The men camouflaged the tiny vessel with green fronds and branches and painted it black so that it would look like a harmless native fishing boat. They avoided numerous Japanese aircraft, destroyers, minesweepers, and patrol boats as they continued southwards along the Philippine coastline. They stopped a few times along the coast of Luzon, where some kind Filipino villagers gave them food and water. By 13 May, they headed into the more open waters of the Sibuyan Sea and moved past the southwest end of Masbate Island in the central Philippines. They passed a Japanese tanker along the way, but the tanker ignored them, possibly thinking that they were either pirates or fishermen. They reached Cebu on May 15. On that same day they landed on the northwest coast of Leyte and bought some diesel oil and canned goods from a Chinese storekeeper. Morrill and his men also learned that the Japanese were on Leyte and that they were looking for Americans. Morrill and his crew left and continued south, headed for Surigao Strait between Leyte and Dinagat Islands.
On 17 May, the small group reached Tandag on northeastern Mindanao and obtained more supplies and fuel from another Chinese merchant. But the Japanese were making rapid advances throughout the Philippines and Morrill and his men managed to avoid enemy patrol boats that night by hiding in a secluded cove. On 18 May they left Port Lamon, where friendly Filipinos gave them more fuel. They continued their journey southward, eventually reaching Fisang Island north of Timor in the East Indies on 24 May.
The natives of the Dutch East Indies were not too helpful to the Americans and they would not take either American or Philippine currency. So the only way Morrill and his men could get any supplies was through trading what few valuable belongings they had for some desperately needed fuel oil and food. The small boat left Fisang but was only able to make it to the island of Keor, in the easternmost part of the Dutch East Indies, before their small engine gave out. The people on Keor didn’t seem any friendlier, but the Americans had to stay to repair their engine. The engine had to work well because they were about to leave on the last part of their journey across a large distance of open ocean for Australia. So they beached the boat and the men of the Quail replaced a burned-out bearing with one carved out of hard wood and installed it. Remarkably, it worked.
Morrill and his men left Keor and continued their journey south to Australia. On 4 June 1942, this small band of Americans reached Melville Island just north of Darwin, Australia, where they met some friendly Australian missionaries. They obtained food and water from the missionaries and the next day they left Melville and, with no fanfare and no recognition, slowly made their way into Darwin harbor. They tied up their boat and, once on shore, tried to report to any Americans in the harbor. All they found were a few American officers with an Army Air Force unit.
After 29 days and traveling 2,060 miles in a 36-foot motor launch, Lieutenant Commander J. H. Morrill brought his 17 men from the Quail to safety. They went from Corregidor to Darwin with no sextant, no decent charts, and only a pocket watch as a chronometer. Lieutenant Commander Morrill received the Navy Cross and was eventually promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral.
Although the Quail was lost, some of its crew decided that surrendering to the Japanese on Corregidor was not an option. Even though the odds against them were enormous, these incredibly brave men in their small boat managed to avoid Japanese aircraft and warships while, at the same time, battling the sea as well as the weather. But like so many of the men in the old US Asiatic Fleet, they simply refused to give up. It was a remarkable achievement by a group of sailors who were determined to get back home so that they could live to fight another day.
Posted by Remo at 8:33 AM
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Figure 1: SMS Scharnhorst (German armored cruiser, 1907-1914) photographed by Arthur Renard, 30 Brunswickerstrasse, Kiel, possibly while running trials. The ship entered service on 24 October 1907. This print was received by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence on 7 May 1908. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: German Vice Admiral von Spee's cruiser squadron leaving Valparaiso, Chile, circa 3 November 1914, following the Battle of Coronel. The German ships are in the distance, with the armored cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in the lead, followed by light cruiser Nürnberg. Chilean Navy warships in the middle distance include (from left to right): cruisers Esmeralda, O'Higgins and Blanco Encalda and old battleship Capitan Prat. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: Scharnhorst at Wilhelmshaven before her trip to Asia. Click on photograph for larger picture.
Figure 4: Detail of the Scharnhorst's bow turret. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee (born 22 June 1861, died 8 December 1914). He was given command of the German East Asia Squadron in 1912 with the rank of Vice Admiral, based at Qingdao within the German concession in China. His officers had been handpicked by Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, while his armored cruisers were among the newest in the fleet. After his victory over the Royal Navy at the Battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile on 1 November 1914, Spee's force attempted a raid on the coaling station at Stanley in the Falkland Islands on 8 December 1914. In the ensuing Battle of the Falkland Islands, Spee's flagship, Scharnhorst, together with Gneisenau, Nürnberg and Leipzig were all lost, together with some 1,871 German sailors, including Spee's two sons. The admiral went down with his flagship. Only SMS Dresden managed to escape, though was eventually discovered in the Juan Fernández Islands. The ship was scuttled and the crew interned in Chile. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: The Battle of Coronel was one of the first naval clashes of arms in the war, November 1, 1914. Both in tactics and gunnery, the Germans triumphed. This painting depicts Sir Christopher Cradock's flagship Good Hope, sinking off the coast of Chile, having been blasted apart by deadly accurate fire from the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. German propagandists were quick to point out that this was the Royal Navy's first defeat since the War of 1812. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: HMS Invincible winding up to 26 knots in pursuit of the Scharnhorst, photographed from the cruiser Carnarvon. Note the thick funnel smoke enveloping the ship. Poor visibility and strong vibration in the fire control station atop the foremast contributed to the battlecruisers' wild shooting that day. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: At the Falklands, Scharnhorst went down with all hands, while Gneisenau fought on hopelessly for an additional 90 minutes, being scuttled at 5:40 and finally rolling over around 6 p.m. Here the battlecruiser Inflexible sends boats to pick up survivors from her vanquished foe. Of the ship's complement of 850 men, 176 were rescued, including Cmdr. Plochhammer, the ship's second-in-command. Admiral von Spee's two sons serving in the squadron were not among the survivors, nor was the Admiral. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after the famous Prussian General Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst (1755-1813), SMS Scharnhorst was a 12,781-ton armored cruiser that was built by Blohm & Voss Shipyard at Hamburg, Germany, and was commissioned in October 1907. The ship was approximately 474 feet long and 71 feet wide, had a top speed of 22.7 knots, and a crew of 764 officers and men. Scharnhorst was armed with eight 8.2-inch guns, six 5.9-inch guns, eighteen 3.45-inch guns, and four 17.7-inch torpedo tubes.
In one of her first cruises, Scharnhorst ran aground in 1909 and took several months to repair. The ship then was sent to China to protect Germany’s colonial concession at Qingdao (formerly called Tsingtao) and was made the flagship of Germany’s East Asia Squadron, which also was based at Qingdao. The East Asia Squadron was placed under the command of the remarkable Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee (born 22 June 1861; died 8 December 1914), one of the legends of the German Navy. Von Spee was a German aristocrat who joined the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) in 1878. From 1887 to 1888, he commanded the Kamerun ports in German West Africa. Prior to World War I, he held a number of senior positions relating to weapons development and was appointed Chief of Staff of the North Sea Command in 1908. He became a Rear Admiral on 27 January 1910. He was given command of the German East Asia Squadron in 1912 with the rank of Vice-Admiral. Von Spee’s officers had been handpicked by Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, while his armored cruisers were among the newest in the fleet.
At the start of World War I in August 1914, the German East Asia Squadron consisted of the heavy armored cruisers Scharnhorst (von Spee’s flagship) and her sister ship Gneisenau, as well as the light cruisers Dresden, Emden, Nurnberg, and Leipzig. To avoid being cornered at Qingdao by the British Royal Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, and the Imperial Japanese Navy (which had joined the Allied forces during World War I), von Spee decided to break out into the Pacific and return to Germany. He detached the light cruiser Emden (which eventually became one of the most famous warships of World War I) and sent it on its memorable commerce raiding expedition in the Indian Ocean. The rest of the squadron headed for South America, where they would go around Cape Horn and then travel north through the Atlantic and head back to Germany.
For almost three months, von Spee and his ships were chased by the Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy all over the Pacific. Finally, on 1 November 1914, von Spee’s five ships were confronted by Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock’s Falkland Islands Squadron, which consisted of two old armored cruisers, HMS Good Hope (Cradock’s flagship) and HMS Monmouth, the modern light cruiser HMS Glasgow, and the converted liner HMS Otranto. The ships met off the coast of Chile not far from the port of Coronel. What followed was the Battle of Coronel, which turned out to be a lopsided victory for the Germans. Von Spee’s skillful tactics and superb gunnery simply overwhelmed the British task force. Good Hope and Monmouth were both sunk, taking with them 1,654 officers and men, including Rear Admiral Cradock. There were no survivors from either ship. Glasgow sustained five hits but no casualties, while Otranto escaped with no damages. Scharnhorst was hit twice (but neither shell exploded), while four shells struck Gneisenau, causing only minor damage. It was a stunning victory for the Germans and it was the first major naval defeat suffered by the Royal Navy since the War of 1812.
But the major problem for the Germans after the Battle of Coronel was that they had used up approximately half of their ammunition with absolutely no way of replacing it. The German Squadron proceeded around Cape Horn, but von Spee then decided to attack the British coaling station at Stanley in the Falkland Islands on his way north.
On 8 December 1914, von Spee and the five cruisers of the German East Asia Squadron attacked the Falkland Islands. What von Spee didn’t know was that a large British task force under the command of Vice Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee had arrived at the Falklands the previous day. The British force consisted of two large and modern battlecruisers, HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, three armoured cruisers, HMS Carnarvon, HMS Cornwall and HMS Kent, and two light cruisers, HMS Bristol and HMS Glasgow (which had fought at Coronel). Von Spee attacked the British ships while they were in port but, as soon as he saw that he was facing a much larger enemy force, decided to retreat and head away from the Falklands. Unfortunately for the Germans, the much larger and faster British ships left port when they saw the enemy and soon caught up to them. In a desperate attempt to save at least some of his squadron, von Spee decided to attack the British with his two largest ships, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, while ordering his light cruisers to scatter. He was trying to buy enough time for his light cruisers to escape while sacrificing himself and his heavy armored cruisers.
But von Spee’s plan didn’t work. The larger British ships pounded Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, sinking both of them. Scharnhorst’s entire crew, including Admiral von Spee, was lost. The British also managed to sink two other German light cruisers, Nurnberg and Leipzig. Only Dresden got away, but she was hunted down and sunk three months later off Valparaiso, Chile, by HMS Kent and, ironically, HMS Glasgow, the ship that survived the Battle of Coronel. The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a total disaster for the Germans, with the loss of four cruisers (eventually five, if you count Dresden’s destruction three months later), 1,871 men killed, and 215 men rescued from the water and captured. The British lost no ships and had only 10 killed and 19 wounded. The Royal Navy had certainly avenged the stinging loss at Coronel.
Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee, along with SMS Scharnhorst and the other ships of the German East Asia Squadron, led the Royal Navy on a breathtaking chase across the Pacific, around Cape Horn, and finally to the Falkland Islands before being stopped. But it was only a matter of time before the superior numbers of the Royal Navy caught up with von Spee. As Winston Churchill said after the death of von Spee, “To steam at full speed or at a high speed for any length of time on any quest was to use up his life rapidly. He was a cut flower in a vase; fair to see, yet bound to die, and to die very soon if the water was not constantly renewed.” SMS Scharnhorst will forever be tied to the famous admiral who used her as his flagship and this duo went down in history as one of the most formidable foes ever faced by the Royal Navy.
Posted by Remo at 9:03 AM
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Figure 1: USS Raleigh (CL-7) at Marseille, France, during the 1920s. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1973. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Raleigh (CL-7) steaming past the bow of another light cruiser, off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the later 1920s. Donation of Franklin Moran, 1967. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Raleigh (CL-7) at anchor in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 26 April 1930. Donation of Franklin Moran, 1967. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) with the Navy blimps J-2 and ZMC-2, flying over USS Raleigh (CL-7) and another light cruiser, during maneuvers off Atlantic City, New Jersey, 11 October 1930. Donation of Franklin Moran, 1967. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Raleigh (CL-7) anchored in San Diego harbor, California, 21 October 1933. Donation of Franklin Moran, 1967. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Pearl Harbor attack, 7 December 1941. USS Raleigh (CL-7) is kept afloat by a barge lashed alongside, after she was damaged by a Japanese torpedo and a bomb, 7 December 1941. The barge has salvage pontoons YSP-14 and YSP-13 on board. The capsized hull of USS Utah (AG-16) is visible astern of Raleigh. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: Pearl Harbor attack, 7 December 1941. USS Raleigh (CL-7) being kept afloat by a salvage barge moored to her port side, after she had been torpedoed and damaged by a bomb during the Japanese raid. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Cassin (DD-372) at right, and USS Downes (DD-375), under salvage in Dry Dock Number One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard on 5 February 1942, the day Cassin was righted from her previous position capsized against Downes. They were wrecked during the 7 December 1941 Japanese air raid. Also in the dry dock is USS Raleigh (CL-7), which was under repair for torpedo damage received on 7 December. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: USS Raleigh (CL-7) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 6 July 1942, following repair of combat damage and an overhaul. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: USS Raleigh (CL-7) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 6 July 1942, following repair of combat damage and an overhaul. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: USS Raleigh (CL-7) off the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, 25 May 1944, following overhaul. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 32, Design 1d. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 12: USS Raleigh (CL-7) off the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, 25 May 1944, following overhaul. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 32, Design 1d. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 13: USS Raleigh (CL-7) in Massacre Bay, Attu Island, Aleutians, 6 September 1944. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 32, Design 1d. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
USS Raleigh (CL-7) was a 7,050-ton Omaha class light cruiser that was built at the Bethlehem Steel Company at Quincy, Massachusetts, and was commissioned on 6 February 1924. The ship was approximately 555 feet long and 55 feet wide, had a top speed of 35 knots, and had a crew of 458 officers and men. Raleigh was armed with twelve 6-inch guns, two 3-inch guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Shortly after the ship was commissioned, Raleigh went on her maiden cruise to northern Europe. For the next four years, the light cruiser was assigned to the Scouting Fleet and performed duties in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean. In September 1928, Raleigh returned to Europe for a one-year tour of duty as the US Navy’s flagship there. She continued her Scouting Force duties from 1929 to 1936, with her home base shifting to San Diego, California, in 1933. From 1936 to 1938, Raleigh was made the flagship of Squadron 40-T, which operated off the coast of Spain during that nation’s horrific civil war. She spent the rest of the 1930s and early 1940s based at Pearl Harbor and took an active role in fleet exercises that originated from that port.
On 7 December 1941, Raleigh was moored at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. She was hit and badly damaged by a torpedo and also was damaged by a near miss from a bomb. Raleigh was temporarily “patched up” at Pearl Harbor and then was sent to the Mare Island Navy Yard in California for more permanent repairs. By mid-1942, the cruiser was ready for action. Raleigh spent most of the rest of that year in the south and central Pacific on convoy and escort duty before being sent to the Aleutians, where she stayed until June 1945. While in the Aleutians, Raleigh again was assigned to convoy escort duties, as well as patrols in hostile waters and the bombardment of Japanese-held islands. She was sent back to the Atlantic in the summer of 1945 and briefly was used to train Naval Academy midshipmen. Raleigh was decommissioned in November 1945 and was sold for scrapping in February 1946.
Although rather elderly by the start of World War II, USS Raleigh still had much fight left in her even though she was seriously damaged at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. She also went on to play a significant role in the Aleutians campaign, a theater of operations that is largely forgotten by most Americans today. Raleigh received three battle stars for her service in World War II.
Posted by Remo at 9:26 AM