USS Parker (DD-48), Hampton Roads, 1914

USS Parker (DD-48), Hampton Roads, 1914

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U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann .The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.

Hampton Roads History Lectures

Take a look back in history as John V. Quarstein, noted historian, author, and director emeritus of USS Monitor Center, along with special guest speakers, share significant events about our nation’s history and examine their direct ties to the Hampton Roads region.

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Upcoming lectures:

Legendary 19th-century Resorts in Hampton Roads

July 9 @ 12:00 PM (ET)

Join us for a virtual lecture with John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center, when he presents on the prominence of the Chamberlin Hotel as the center of luxurious hospitality for the elite on Old Point Comfort.

About the presentation:
The Chamberlin Hotel still stands today as a dominant landmark overlooking Hampton Roads harbor. This hotel symbolizes the days when Old Point Comfort, Phoebus, Buckroe Beach, and Bayshore were the places to be every summer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Old Point Comfort was the premier health and holiday resort in America and catered to the elite. Buckroe Beach was for working-class families, and Bayshore was the first African American resort in the South. Steamships and trains brought hundreds of people daily carrying city folks to enjoy the fresh breezes, saltwater swimming, excellent seafood, and fantastic entertainment. These resorts were the genesis of the ever-growing tourism industry in Hampton Roads.

Image credit: Fortress Monroe, Old Point Comfort, and Hygeia Hotel, Va. Lithograph. E. Sachse & Co, and Charles Magnus [New York: Chs. Magnus, 1861]. Map. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

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The Battle of the Ironclad

The Monitor was launched from Continental Iron Works, Greenpoint, Long Island (New York City) on January 30, 1862. The CSS Virginia, a Confederate ironclad, was launched February 17, 1862. The Virginia was constructed over the modified hull of the steam frigate USS Merrimack, which theConfederates had salvaged after she was burned and scuttled by Union forces. Because of the threat that the Virginia posed to the Federal fleet at Hampton Roads, Virginia, the Monitor was ordered to that area in early March, immediately following hurried sea trials. She arrived at Hampton Roads the night of March 8. Earlier that day, the Virginia had engaged the Federal fleet, destroying the wooden frigates Cumberland and Congress. The Minnesota had also been damaged and stranded before the Virginia retired to sheltered anchorage near Norfolk.

When the Virginia steamed out to renew the attack on the Minnesota early on the morning of March 9, she encountered the strange-looking Monitor. In the ensuing four-hour battle, the two vessels frequently bombarded each other at point-blank range with no substantial effect. However, a shell exploded in the viewport of the Monitor's pilothouse, temporarily blinding Captain John Worden. The Monitor's Executive Officer, Samuel Dana Greene, assumed command and ordered the Monitor into shallow water, where the Virginia could not follow, to assess the captain's wounds and damage to the ship. The Virginia's captain, assuming that the Monitor was withdrawing from battle, also withdrew in supposed victory. When the Monitor returned to resume the engagement and found the Virginia gone, her crew also assumed victory.

Sailors from the USS Rhode Island rescuing the crew of the sinking Monitor as illustrated in Harper's Weekly, January 1863 (colorized version). (Monitor Collection, NOAA) Click image for larger view.

10 Facts: Hampton Roads

Wikimedia Commons

It was here at Hampton Roads that the true power of ironclad warships would be discovered. And it was here that the revolutionary USS Monitor, with its armored rotating turret would first enter combat. We hope that these ten interesting facts will help expand your knowledge and appreciation of this important Civil War naval battle.

Library of Congress

Fact #1: The CSS Virginia and USS Monitor were not the first ironclad warships, but they were the first ironclads to battle against one another

The Virginia and the Monitor were not the first ironclad warships. In November 1859, the French navy had launched La Glorie, the first ironclad battleship. The Royal Navy, in response to the new French warship, had launched HMS Warrior, an iron-hulled frigate, in October of 1861.

Even in the American Civil War, the Virginia and Monitor were not the first ironclads. To support Union naval operations on the rivers in the western theater, ironclad river gunboats (City Class gunboats) had been built, launched, and deployed by January 1862. These gunboats played an important role in the battles for Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in February of 1862.

Fact #2: The Confederacy had great difficulty in sourcing the iron plating needed for the Virginia

In October of 1861 it was determined that the Virginia (the converted ex-USS Merrimack) would require two layers of two inch iron armor plate covering its entire casement. Requiring upwards of 800 tons of iron, there simply was not that much iron available. To make up for this painful shortage, the Confederacy was reduced to scavenging old scrap iron, melting down old smoothbore cannon and iron tools, and even ripping up hundreds of miles of railroad track. The delays in obtaining and shaping these iron plates gave the Union more time to construct their counters to the growing menace of the Virginia.

Fact #3: The first “trial run” of the Virginia was its combat debut against the US Navy at Hampton Roads on March 8, 1862

On the morning of March 8, 1862, the Virginia made steam and moved slowly out into the Elizabeth River for its inaugural voyage. The Virginia's engines had not been fully tested and the armored shields for its broadside gun ports had not been installed, but these "minor details" did not greatly concern the ship's new captain, Franklin Buchanan. Buchanan, who had been selected by Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory for his aggressive tendencies, was determined to make the Virginia's first voyage an attack on the nearby Union navy.

Fact #4: The March 8, 1862 battle that pitted the Virginia against wooden US Naval vessels was the worst defeat in the history of the United States Navy until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

While much attention has been focused on the near bloodless duel between the Monitor and Virginia on March 9, 1862, the action between the Virginia and the US Navy on the preceding day was a far bloodier affair. The Virginia’s attack on the USS Cumberland killed 121 out of 376 onboard and the subsequent attack on the USS Congress killed 27% of its crew – 120 out of 434. The CSS Virginia, on the other hand, suffered just two killed and a dozen wounded in its fight with the Union navy.

Over the two day battle, the Federal navy suffered 261 killed and 108 wounded in its struggle with the Virginia – more killed and wounded than any other sea battle in American history at that time. And March 8, 1862 would remain the bloodiest day in American naval history until December 7, 1941, when the Japanese navy struck the American fleet at Pearl Harbor.

This comparison of the CSS Virginia and USS Monitor (in the foreground) shows the significant size differential between these two famous combatants. Where the Virginia was built on the hull of the Merrimack, the USS Monitor was built from the keel up. © James Gurney ( James Gurney

Fact #5: Despite carrying twelve large caliber guns, one of the Virginia’s most lethal weapons was a simple 1,500lb iron ram projecting from its bow

Despite the many technological innovations that were on display during the Battle of Hampton Roads, one of the most lethal weapons employed was a large, 1,500lb iron ram attached to the bow of the Virginia. This simple weapon, altogether similar to what one would have found on a Roman Trireme or Ottoman Galley, devastated the USS Cumberland. The Virginia steamed straight for the Cumberland and punched through its starboard bow with its mighty ram. Ironically, the mortal blow delivered by the Virginia’s ram almost led to its own destruction. With its ram stuck fast inside the Cumberland, the Virginia risked be carried under by the sinking Federal ship. After some effort the Virginia was able to separate and back away, but is lethal ram had broken free.

During its battle with the USS Monitor the next day, the Virginia sought to employ its ram, not knowing that this weapon now lay at the bottom of Hampton Roads.

Photograph of Captain Franklin Buchanan, USN by Matthew Brady circa 1855-1861. Naval History and Heritage Command

Fact #6: The Virginia’s commander, Franklin Buchanan, was seriously wounded by musket ball on March 8 and did not participate in the Virginia’s famous March 9 duel with the USS Monitor

Per the well-established norms formed during the Age of Sail, it was customary for a defeated ship and its captain to formally surrender to their victorious counterparts. After viewing a white flag above the stricken USS Congress, Franklin Buchanan ordered that the Congress be taken as a prize. Unfortunately for the Confederates, Union soldiers on shore nearby knew or cared little for naval tradition and fired upon the exposed officers and men. Franklin Buchanan, who had gone on deck to supervise this surrender, was struck in the upper thigh by a bullet and was hastily taken back into the interior of the Virginia. Removed to shore that evening, Buchanan turned over command of the Virginia to his executive officer, Lieutenant Catesby ap Roger Jones who would command the famous ironclad during its fight with the Monitor the next day.

Buchanan, who would recover from his wound, captained the CSS Tennessee in its battle with Rear Admiral David Farragut’s squadron in the Battle of Mobile Bay. During that battle, Buchanan would suffer a broken leg and would surrender with his ship on August 5, 1864.

Fact #7: Sensing that their shells could do little damage, even at close range, the Virginia ceased firing at the Monitor during the battle

Two hours of close-range naval gunfire finally convinced the Confederates of the futility of wasting shell and powder on the Monitor. Lieutenant John Eggleston onboard the Virginia, when asked why his gun crews had stopped firing at the Monitor, stated that “[a]fter two hours of incessant firing I find that I can do her [the Monitor] about as much damage by snapping my thumbs at her every two minutes and a half.”

The Virginia's armor penetrating capabilities were further reduced by its carrying only explosive shells, rather than solid shot. At one point in the battle, crew members aboard the Virginia resorted to attempting to fire muskets into the open gun ports of the Monitor.

Fact #8: If the Monitor had used larger gunpowder charges in its 11-inch guns, it's likely that it would have holed and sunk the Virginia

The Monitor had been hurried down to Hampton Roads shortly after its launch and little time had been set aside for testing this new, radical weapon system. Despite being designed to carry two 12-inch Dahlgren naval guns, the Monitor launched with two smaller 11-inch Dahlgrens within its armored, rotating turret. To prevent any catastrophic gun bursting within the confined turret, each of the 11-inch guns was restricted to using 15-lb gunpowder charges. Even with this lower gunpowder charge, the 165lb solid shot projectiles did much to dent and disfigure the armor plating on the Virginia. Later tests conducted after the battle showed that if the Monitor had used 25lb or 30lb gunpowder charges that its 11-inch guns would have punctured the Virginia’s hull with relative ease at close ranges.

USS Monitor battling the CSS Virginia at close range in the Battle of Hampton Roads Library of Congress

Fact #9: Ironically, as the Virginia fired more of its onboard ordnance, the ship became more vulnerable to attack

Unlike the Monitor, whose belt of armor descended well below its waterline, the Virginia’s iron plating extended barely to its waterline when fully loaded. With each broadside, the Virginia would expend 350lbs of ordnance. And after two hours of firing upon the Monitor and other nearby ships, the Virginia had lightened its load by 5 tons. Ironically, as the ship became lighter it also became more vulnerable. As the ship lightened, its unarmored sides, below the iron casemate, were visible above water and could have been more easily punctured.

Lt. John L. Worden, captain of the USS Monitor Naval Historical Center

Fact #10 Franklin Buchanan and John L. Worden both became superintendents of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland

John L. Worden, promoted to rear admiral after the war, was the commandant of the United States Naval Academy between 1869 and 1874. A drill field at the Academy is named for Worden.

Prior to the Civil War, Franklin Buchanan was the first superintendent of the Unites States Naval Academy (1845 - 1847). The stately Buchanan House, current residence of Academy superintendents, is named after this famous Confederate admiral.

Our Historic Home: The Ramming of USS Yorktown (CG 48)

(WYDaily/ File photo) USS Yorktown (CG 48) (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

There is no doubt as to how important the military is to our region.

There are always an abundance of memories to share from anyone who has ever been touched by military experience.

One in somewhat recent memory is remembered as the “last incident of the Cold War.” This regional tie was the 1988 ramming of USS Yorktown (CG 48) and the U.S. naval destroyer, USS Caron (DD 970), in the Black Sea.

The people of Yorktown had a fondness for their namesake naval ship.

The Ticonderoga-class cruiser was commissioned in 1984, and sponsored by beloved York County resident, Mrs. Mary Mathews. In 1987, Yorktown had the distinguished honor to receive an award for being the Atlantic Fleet’s “Top Gun” in outstanding Naval Gun Fire Support.

In late 1987, Yorktown and Caron deployed to the Mediterranean Sea to take part in U.S., NATO, and multi-national exercises. This was a turbulent time for tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Suspicion ran high between the two nations.

The friction was tested on February 12, 1988 as Yorktown and Caron sailed into the Black Sea on what was an announced innocent passage exercising their international right of Freedom of Navigation. When the great American warships were passing within 10 miles of the Crimean Peninsula, two Soviet ships sailed up to their side.

“Do not violate state borders of the Soviet Union. I am authorized to strike!” the Soviets transmitted from shore.

The American ships did not reply.

At this time, the United States recognized territorial boundaries that spread only three miles from the coastline. On the other hand, the Soviet Union asserted a 12-mile territorial boundary line.

The Soviet Krivak I class guided missile frigate BEZZAVETNY (FFG 811) impacts the guided missile cruiser USS YORKTOWN (CG 48) as the American ship exercises the right of free passage through the Soviet-claimed 12-mile territorial waters. (WYDaily/ File photo)

Sailors rushed to the deck of Yorktown one having enough time to pull out a video camera. A narrow passage of water remained between Yorktown and the Soviet Burevestnik M-class frigate, Bezzavetnyy. Sailors on opposite sides of the Cold War stood on their decks, staring each other right into each other’s eyes. A patrol boat came alongside Caron as the ships continued to move steadily through the sea.

Without any further warning, Bezzavetnyy moved closer to the much larger Yorktown, ramming into her port side.

“What the hell?! What the hell?!” the American sailors yelled.

The Soviet patrol boat followed suit and rammed Caron. After briefly veering away, Bezzavetnyy turned again towards the mighty cruiser.

“Coming in again!” Yorktown sailors yelled.

The ship shook as Bezzavetnyy battered the sides of Yorktown, but failed in their intention to stop the ship.

Within two hours, Caron and Yorktown made their way out of the Black Sea, with no serious injuries to the crews nor their ships.

The aftermath of this incident was a crisis of words between the two nations each exchanging commentary while laying the blame on one another. Anonymous Pentagon sources leaked information that the presence of Yorktown and Caron in the Black Sea was not as innocent as it appeared. Caron carried equipment that was used for intelligence gathering. However, historians explain that retaliatory measures taken by the Soviets that day was an overreaction.

USS Yorktown was decommissioned on Dec. 3, 2004 and now remains part of the inactive fleet in Philadelphia. This naval ship which carried the name of our beloved town forever etched her name has being part of the last incident of the Cold War.

As most things in history, the engagement has come full circle. Today, tensions and suspicion still runs high between the United States and Russia.

As former Yorktown officer, Vice Admiral Doug Crowder, a retired Navy veteran, told in 2015, “They’re making sure that we know that they’re [still] watching us.”

To watch the footage taken during the ramming of Yorktown, click the video below.


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Update for February 2017 at North African Campaign 1940-43, War of Liberation of 1913, Philip II of Macedon and Third Sacred War, US Tanks, US Destroyers, Boulton Paul and Supermarine Aircraft

Update for February 2017 at North African Campaign 1940-43, War of Liberation of 1913, Philip II of Macedon and Third Sacred War, US Tanks, US Destroyers, Boulton Paul and Supermarine Aircraft

This month we begin a new series of articles on the North African Campaign of 1940-43, starting with the arrival of the first German troops at Tripoli. After introducing the War of Liberation of 1813 in January, we now begin a more detailed look at the early events of the war. In Ancient Greece we finish our series on the battles of Philip II of Macedon, ending with his great victory at Chaeronea, where he established his authority over most of mainland Greece, and also look at some of the battles of the Third Sacred War.

In military technology we look at a series of gun motor carriages based on medium tanks, and begin a series of articles on US Heavy Tanks. At sea we look at six Wickes class destroyers. In the air we continue with our series on Boulton Paul aircraft, and begin a new series on Supermarine aircraft.

Finally we add a series of book reviews, and pictures on the North African Campaign and US Destroyers

North African Campaign

Operation Sonnenblume (Sunflower) (February-March 1941) was the codename for the initial movement of German troops to North Africa, after the Italians had been forced out of Cyrenaica and appeared to be struggling to hold on to Tripolitania.

Rommel's First Offensive (24 March-30 May 1941) saw him push a weakened British army out of Cyrenaica, and all the way to the Egyptian border, undoing all of the British conquests at the start of 1941 and setting a pattern for the desert war that would last until the second battle of El Alamein late in 1942.

The siege of Tobruk (10 April-16/17 December 1941) saw a beleaguered Allied garrison hold out for eight months against German and Italian attacks, and helped prevent Rommel taking full advantage of his victory in his first offensive, which had seen him conquer Cyrenaica only a few weeks after it had fallen to the British

Operation Brevity (15-16 May 1941) was a short-lived British offensive carried out to see if the German position east of Tobruk was fragile enough for the siege to be lifted without a major battle.

The Convention of Tauroggen (30 December 1812) was an agreement that made General Yorck's Russian corps neutral, marking the start of a break between Prussia and France (War of Liberation).

The second siege of Danzig (24 January-29 November 1813) saw General Rapp defend the city against the Russians for most of 1813, but without any genuine hope of being rescued (War of Liberation).

The combat of Zirke (11-12 February 1813) was one of the first clashes during the War of Liberation, and came during the French retreat from the Vistula to the Oder.

The combat of Kalisch (18 February 1813) was one of the first clashes of the War of Liberation of 1813 and played a part in forcing the French to abandon any attempt to defend eastern Germany.

The Convention of Kalisch (28 February 1813) was signed between Russia and Prussia, and committed Prussia to rejoined the war against Napoleon, setting the stage for the War of Liberation of 1813.

The siege of Glogau (15 March-27 May 1813) was a rare example of a successful French defense of one of the isolated fortresses left behind by the retreat from Poland and eastern Germany at the start of 1813, and saw a sizable garrison hold out for three months before the siege was lifted in the aftermath of the battle of Bautzen.

The battle of Möckern (5 April 1813) was the last significant fighting during the Spring Campaign of 1813 before Napoleon arrived at the front to take over command in person.

The combat of Weissenfels (29 April 1813) was one of the first clashes between Napoleon's new army of 1813 and the advancing Prussian and Russian forces, which by late April had reached the Saale River in Saxony.

The battle of the Crocus Field or of Pagasae (353 BC) was a significant victory for Philip II of Macedon and saw him defeat and kill Onomarchus, the Phocian leader, a victory that helped to secure Philip's dominance over Thessaly.

The siege of Perinthus (340-339 BC) was an unsuccessful attempt by Philip II of Macedon to defeat a wavering ally, and was conducted alongside an equally unsuccessful siege of Byzantium. Both sieges took place in the period just before the Fourth Sacred War.

The siege of Byzantium (340-339 BC) was an unsuccessful attempt by Philip II to defeat a former ally, and was begun after his siege of nearby Perinthus ran into difficulties. Both sieges came in the build-up to the Fourth Sacred War.

The battle of Chaeronea (August 338 BC) was the final major battle in the career of Philip II of Macedon, and saw him defeat a Greek alliance led by Thebes and Athens, in the process establishing his dominance over the states of central and southern Greece

The battle of Neon (354 BC) was a battle of the Third Sacred War, and was notable for the death of the Phocian leader Philomelus.

The battle of Hermeum (354 or 353 BC) was a Phocian victory over the Boeotians (Third Sacred War), which followed a brief Phocian intervention in Thessaly that saw them inflict two rare battlefield defeats on Philip II

The T24 3in Gun Motor Carriage was an early attempt to produce a tank destroyer by mounting a 3in anti-aircraft gun on the chassis of the Medium Tank M3.

The T26 75mm Gun Motor Carriage was an unsuccessful design for a self propelled anti-aircraft that failed because of problems with the gun.

The T36 40mm Gun Motor Carriage was an unsuccessful attempt to mount a Bofors anti-aircraft gun on the chassis of the Medium Tank M3.

The T52 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage was a failed design for a self propelled anti-aircraft vehicle armed with one 40mm Bofors gun and two machine guns.

The T53 90mm Gun Motor Carriage was a design for a combined tank destroyer and self propelled anti-aircraft gun that was rejected after extensive development work had been carried out.

The 20mm quad AA Tank, Skink, was the most successful attempt to mount an anti-aircraft gun on the chassis of a Sherman tank, but only a handful were produced, and their main use was against ground targets.

The Heavy Tank Mark VIII (Liberty Tank or International) was originally meant to be a joint Anglo-American-French tank that would have been used in large numbers if the war had continued into 1919, but that was eventually built in small numbers in British and American versions.

The Heavy Tank T29 was developed in response to the appearance of heavy German tanks in the European theatre, and carried a 105mm gun on a chassis similar to that used on the M26 Pershing.

USS Woolsey (DD-77) was a Wickes class destroyer that sank in 1921 after being cut in half in a collision with a merchant ship.

USS Evans (DD-78) was a Wickes class destroyer that entered US service just after the First World War, briefly took part in the Neutrality Patrl and then entered British service as HMS Mansfield

USS Little (DD-79) was a Wickes class destroyer that was used as a fast transport during the Second World War, and was sunk off Gualalcanal in September 1942.

USS Kimberly (DD-80) was a Wickes class destroyer that served in European waters during the First World War, but that was scrapped soon after the end of the war.

USS Sigourney (DD-81) was a Wickes class destroyer that operated from Brest during the First World War, and served with the Royal Norwegian Navy and Royal Navy as HMS Newport during the Second World War.

USS Gregory (DD-82/ APD-3) was a Wickes class destroyer that saw service late in the First World War, and was then converted into a fast transport. She was sunk while carrying out her new role off Guadalcanal in September 1942.

USS Stringham (DD-83/ APD-6) was a Wickes class destroyer that saw limited service towards the end of the First World War, before serving throughout most of the Pacific Campaign of the Second World War as a fast transport.

USS Dyer (DD-84) was a Wickes class destroyer that operated from Gibraltar late in the First World War and then served as flagship of the US naval forces in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1919.

The Supermarine N.1B was a single-seat scout designed to escort the RNAS's patrol flying boats.

The Supermarine Seal was an amphibian reconnaissance and fleeting spotting aircraft that served as the prototype for the successful Supermarine Seagull, which was itself the basis of the more famous Supermarine Walrus.

The Supermarine Sea King was an amphibian scout and fighter aircraft that was produced in two variants, but didn't receive any orders. It did become the basis for the Sea Lion racing aircraft, and as the Sea Lion II won the 1922 Schneider Trophy.

The Supermarine Sea Lion was a racing version of the Sea King scout plane. Three versions were produced and were entered in the Schneider Trophy Races of 1919, 1922 and 1923, winning in 1922.

Boulton Paul Aircraft

The Boulton Paul P.101 was a radical design for a staggered biplane fighter, produced in response to an Air Ministry specification for a manoeuvrable fighter with a high rate of climb.

The Boulton Paul P.102 was a project to fit a jet engine in an existing aircraft, but it suffered from high level indecision and was eventually cancelled.

German Half-Tracks and Wheeled Vehicles 1939-1945, Alexander Lüdeke.
Looks at the armoured cars and half-tracks used by the German Army before and during the Second World War, focusing on the development and technical descriptions of each type and its major variants. Each type gets one or two pages, supported by photos of the vehicle. A useful short reference book on these essential vehicles, covering both the many types developed in Germany and the smaller number of captured vehicles pressed into service.
[read full review]

The Gempei War 1180-85 - The Great Samurai Civil War, Stephen Turnbull.
Looks at the civil war between the Taira and Minamoto clans that saw the samurai replace the Imperial Court as the main source of power in Japan, and ended with the establishment of the Shogunate, the system of military rule that lasted for nearly seven hundred years. A fascinating account of this crucial conflict that helps make sense of a war that sometimes appears as a collection of unconnected battles involving a series of different commanders.
[read full review]

BT Fast Tank - The Red Army's Cavalry Tank 1931-1945, Steven J. Zaloga.
Looks at the fast BT series tanks, based on the American Christie tank. Produced in vast numbers in the Soviet Union in several main variants, the BT tanks were used in Spain, against Japan on the Mongolian border and during the Winter War, before being destroyed in equally vast numbers during the first year of the Great Patriotic War. Traces the development of the Soviet version of the tank, the many versions produced, and its mainly unimpressive combat career.
[read full review]

British and German Battlecruisers - Their Development and Operations, Michele Cosentino & Ruggero Stanglini.
A useful volume that covers the development, design and construction of British and German battlecruisers, their wartime deployments and both side's plans for the next generation of battlecruisers, of which only HMS Hood was ever completed. Having all of this material in a single volume gives a much better overview of the two Navy's battlecruisers, their advantages and flaws, and their performance in and out of battle. Concludes with a look at other nation's battlecruisers and battlecruiser designs
[read full review]

Stout Hearts: The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944, Ben Kite.
Looks in detail at the role of each element in the British and Canadian military machine during the Normandy Campaign, including each aspect of the ground forces from the infantry to the armour, intelligence, reconnaissance and medical services, as well as the air support and the fire power provided by the massive Allied fleets off the Normandy coast. A very useful companion to narrative accounts of the campaign, helping to explain how the British and Canadians managed to overcome the determined German resistance on their front
[read full review]

Brutus - Caesar's Assassin, Kirsty Corrigan.
A well balanced biography of Brutus, one of the more consistent defenders of the Roman Republic, and famously one of Caesar's assassins on the Ides of March. Paints a picture of a man of generally high moral standards (with some flaws in financial matters), but also an over-optimistic plotter, who failed to make any realistic plans for the aftermath of the assassination. Does a good job of tracing Brutus's fairly obscure early years, as well as distinguishing between later legends and historically likely events
[read full review]

Alesia - The Final Struggle for Gaul, Nic Fields.
A useful history of the siege and associated battles that secured Caesar's conquest of Gaul and ended Vercingetorix's revolt, the first (and only) time that the Gallic tribes united against Caesar. Starts with a history of Vercingetorix's revolt and the earlier failed siege of Gergova, before moving onto the climatic siege of Alesia, the massive Gallic relief effort and its defeat by Caesar. A good account of this siege, supported by excellent maps showing the besieged town and its surroundings.
[read full review]

Sailors on the Rocks - Famous Royal Navy Shipwrecks, Peter C. Smith.
Looks at a long series of Royal Naval shipwrecks, from the loss of HMS Coronation in 1691 to the grounding of HMS Nottingham in 2002. Covers the background histories of the ships involved, their actions in the period before their loss, the lead-up to the loss, the rescue attempts and the aftermath of the loss. An interesting book that covers a great deal of ground
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US Navy Carrier Aircraft vs IJN Yamato Class Battleships, Pacific Theatre 1944-45, Mark Stille.
Looks at the two battles that resulted in the sinking of Yamato and Musashi, the two most powerful battleships ever completed, and the US aircraft, weapons and tactics that sank them. Interesting to bring together all of the relevant technical histories – the ships themselves, Japanese anti-aircraft guns, the US aircraft and their main weapons – in a single volume, followed by detailed accounts of the air attacks that sank the two battleships
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By the Knife, Steve Partridge .
A historical novel set largely at sea in the middle of the eighteenth century, following two intertwined lives from their formative years in England, to their repeated encounters across the oceans. Written across a very broad canvas, from the Caribbean to the west coast of Africa, Britain to the Mediterranean, and with a good feel for the naval warfare and general lawlessness of the period.
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The Great Siege of Malta - The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St. John, Bruce Ware Allen.
Looks at one of the pivotal conflicts of the Sixteenth Century, when a massive Ottoman army attempted to capture Malta, then the main base for the Knights of St. John. This excellent history traces events from the earlier siege of Rhodes, where the Knights were defeated, through the intervening years of intermittent conflict, and on to the Great Siege itself, covering both the fighting on Malta and the attempts to raise the siege
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Critical Convoy Battles of WWII - Crisis in the North Atlantic, March 1943, Jurgen Rohwer.
Focuses on the successful U-boat attacks on convoys HX.229 and SC.122, looking at how earlier convoys were able to avoid attack, why those particular convoys were hit so hard, the methods being used by both sides, and their impact on the longer term result of the Battle of the Atlantic. A useful study, despite its age (first published in 1977), in particular because of its focus on the successful German attacks of March 1943, which thus get the attention they deserve rather than being seen as a precursor to the Allied victories later in the summer.
[read full review]

The USS Monitor’s turret was armed with two XI-inch Dahlgren guns resting on specially designed gun carriages. To date, one carriage has been completely dissembled and the individual pieces are undergoing their own conservation treatments. The second carriage has only been partially disassembled and is visible to visitors in its treatment tank from our special viewing platform.Read more

USS Monitor full-scale replica, outside The USS Monitor Center

The Mariners’ Museum was named the official repository for the Monitor Collection by NOAA in 1987. The collection consists of over 200 tons of priceless artifacts recovered from the iconic Civil War ironclad located within the boundaries of NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

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Ironclad Revolution Exhibition

At the heart of the USS Monitor Center is the award-winning exhibition—Ironclad Revolution—a melding of artifacts, original documents, paintings, personal accounts, interactives and environments that will pique all five senses. The strategies, people, technology, and science behind the historic circumstances surrounding this story are displayed in a way the public has never before seen.Read more

As-found USS Monitor turret, upside down a full-scale replica, inside The USS Monitor Center


USS Guam (LPH-9) keel was laid on 15 November 1962 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. She was launched 22 August 1964, and after fitting out, was commissioned 16 January 1965.

LPH-9 was the third US Navy ship to be named after the World War II Battle of Guam. The second USS Guam (CB-2) was a cruiser commisioned towards the end of the Second World War.

USS Guam (LPH-) sailed for Norfolk, VA, her new homeport in April 1965. Immediately sent on to Fleet Refresher Training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, she returned in July 1965 to commence Amphibious Assualt Training.

Gaum then remained on the East Coast with deployments to the Caribbean in 1966, 1967 and 1969. On September 18 1966 Guam recovered the Gemini 11 space capsule with Astronauts Dick Gordon and Pete Conrad onboard.

In 1971 Gaum was choosen as a test ship for the Sea Control Ship Project. The LPH was a suitable platform for VSTOL Harrier fighters and Anti-submarine helicopters. Exercises were conducted through 1974 to evaluate the concept.

USS Guam deployed regularly to the Mediterranean Sea during the rest of her service career. The deployments were varied with North Atlantic cruises for Cold Weather Amphibious Assualt Exercises. In October 1983 Gaum participated in the invasion of Grenada and then headed directly to the Mediterranean due to the Lebanese Civil War.

After overhaul in 1985 USS Gaum returned to standing watch on the East Coast of the U.S., taking her turns with deployments to the Mediterranean and Caribbean. In August 1990 Guam departed Norfolk for the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. While deployed in January 1991 Guam was sent to Somalia to evacuate diplomatic perssonel. She returned to Norfolk in March 1991.

USS Gaum was decommissioned 25 August 1998. She sunk in a Fleet training exercise (SINKEX) 16 OCT 2001

The USS Guam (LPH-9) operational history and significant events of her service career follow:

Profiles from the Archives: William F. Parker

William Franklin Parker was born on July 30, 1897, in Wayne County, N.C., to John William and Rosa E. Parker. By 1910, the Parker family was living on a farm in Brogden, N.C., where they rented a home and William Parker was working as a farm laborer by the age of 12.

On May 1, 1917, William Parker enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the U.S. Naval Recruiting Station in Raleigh, N.C., as an Apprentice Seaman to serve in World War I. Parker was sent to Norfolk, Virginia, where he was stationed until May 30, 1917. On the same day, he was assigned to the USS Utah (BB-31), a Florida-class of dreadnought battleships. At the time Parker was aboard the ship, the USS Utah was serving around the Chesapeake Bay as an engineering and gunnery training ship.

From June 15 through July 7, 1917, Parker was in hospital at Norfolk, Virginia. By this time, he had reached the rank of fireman third class. On July 7, 1917, he returned to the USS Utah, and reached the rank of fireman second class. On August 10, 1917, Parker was transferred to the USS Kentucky (BB-6), a Kearsarge-class pre-dreadnought battleship used during this period as a training ship, where he reached the rank of fireman first class. On September 21, 1917, William Parker was sent to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to serve on a receiving ship, and by now had become an engineman second class. On October 2, 1917, Parker was assigned to his longest-tenured station ship aboard the battleship USS Indiana (BB-1).

William Parker remained aboard the USS Indiana until July 26, 1918, when he was transferred to a receiving ship in New York on August 8, 1918. On that day, Parker was assigned to his last ship, the USS Kermanshah, an Austro-Hungarian cargo ship that had sought refuge in the New York City harbor at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. In 1917, the U.S. government confiscated the cargo ship, and converted it to a military cargo ship that made trips to Europe with American military supplies in 1918. After the Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918, Parker was transferred to inactive service, and was honorably discharged on November 3, 1919, at Hampton Roads, Virginia, with the rank of engineman second class.

After the war, William Parker would marry Frances Elizabeth Paschal on March 31, 1926, in Guilford County, N.C. By 1930, the Parkers had come to live in Greensboro, N.C., and William was working as a mail carrier for the Greensboro U.S. Postal Service. Later in life, Parker transferred to working for the McLeansville, N.C., U.S. Post Office as a mail carrier, and retired from that position on October 31, 1956. The Parkers retired to the town of Shallotte in Brunswick County, N.C., prior to 1960. William F. Parker died on August 6, 1960, in Wilmington, N.C., from injuries he sustained in an automobile accident. He was buried in Guilford Memorial Park in Greensboro, N.C.

You can read William Parker's original WWI Navy pocket diary from his time aboard the USS Indiana online through the WWI collection of the North Carolina Digital Collections, a joint effort of the State Archives of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina.

USS Missouri : Served in World War II and Korean War

Life was exciting for 23-year-old Ensign Lee Royal in the summer of 1950. The tall, slim Texan had recently graduated from the United States Naval Academy and reported for duty on board the most famous warship in the world, the USS Missouri. Royal was wearing the gold bars of a commissioned officer, a step up from the previous year when he had served on the same ship as a midshipman on a training cruise.

The Missouri had visited England during that cruise, and Royal and two classmates had been brash enough to go to Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s country home. They wanted to shake the hand of the former British prime minister. Churchill had been even more obliging than that, taking the three young midshipmen on a tour of the grounds and then presenting them with books, cigars, and wine. An amazed bodyguard told them privately that the British statesman had been much more hospitable to them than to many of his famous visitors. The guard mentioned that Churchill was fond of navy men, Americans, and young people. The midshipmen belonged to all three categories.

By 1950, the Missouri was the U.S. Navy’s only active battleship–just a decade after the navy had considered battleships to be its foremost fighting ships. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, however, had dramatically changed the situation. Soon aircraft carriers and submarines became the navy’s primary offensive weapons, while battleships were relegated to a secondary role. They had been designed to fight gun duels against large surface vessels, but those encounters rarely occurred in World War II. The United States entered the war with a number of old, slow battleships commissioned between 1912 and 1923, which were primarily used for shore bombardment and to support amphibious landings. Only the navy’s 10 new battleships, commissioned between 1941 and 1944, were fast enough to travel in aircraft carrier task groups and provide antiaircraft protection.

The USS Missouri was the last battleship the navy completed. Commissioned in June 1944, she reached the Western Pacific war zone in early 1945. The ship served with carrier forces in support of landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and near the end of the war, the Missouri’s 16-inch guns bombarded industrial targets in Japan itself.

‘Mighty Mo’ became world-famous as the site of the Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, bringing World War II to an end. The Missouri and dozens of other U.S. warships arrived home to a triumphant welcome, but the nation demobilized rapidly once the hostilities ceased. At the end of the war, the navy had 23 battleships in commission but soon began withdrawing them from active service–mothballing the newest ones and scrapping the oldest. The return to peacetime defense budgets emphasized the fact that the battleships’ period of primacy was over.

By the summer of 1950, the Missouri had been downgraded from a full-fledged warship to a training vessel with a reduced crew. Economy-minded Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson would have preferred to decommission the Missouri entirely to save money, but President Harry S. Truman wouldn’t allow it. The president was particularly fond of the ship. Not only was she named for his home state, but his daughter Margaret had christened her.

When Lee Royal returned to the Missouri the year after his visit with Churchill, the ship was making another training cruise, but this time budget considerations limited her itinerary to the western Atlantic Ocean. Still, Royal found it an enjoyable experience, particularly when the battleship made a port visit to New York City in mid-August. One evening Royal and a date went to see a Broadway musical. When he returned to the ship at one in the morning the officer on the quarterdeck asked him, ‘Did you have a good time?’ The ensign replied that he had. ‘Good,’ the officer said, ‘because that’s the last one you’re going to have for some time.’ The Missouri was going back to war.

The korean war had begun a month and a half earlier, on June 25, 1950. As Communist North Korea army units advanced into South Korea, President Truman committed American troops to the hostilities. Because the Missouri possessed the only active 16-inch guns in the fleet–an important factor in the planning of amphibious assaults–she received orders to report for duty half a world away.

Five years earlier, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur had accepted the Japanese surrender on the captain’s veranda deck of the Missouri. Now the general was planning an invasion at the port of Inchon, behind North Korean lines. He scheduled the action for mid-September and wanted the Missouri‘s big guns to stop North Korean traffic on roads leading into the Inchon-Seoul area.

The Missouri‘s crew had much to do. The ship traveled first to her home port of Norfolk, Virginia, where she spent four days and nights taking on supplies of food, fuel, and ammunition. The battleship’s peacetime crew increased to a fighting complement of 114 officers and 2,070 enlisted men.

On Saturday morning, August 19, 1950, the 887-foot-long warship cruised through Hampton Roads and Thimble Shoal Channel and into the Atlantic Ocean. The same routine trip had been a disaster seven months earlier. On January 17, while leaving for a training cruise to Cuba, the Missouri had run aground in the same port, a huge embarrassment for the navy. Captain William D. Brown was relieved of command shortly after that.

The Missouri‘s role in the Inchon mission was considered so important that she went to sea in the face of threatening weather. That night newly appointed Captain Irving Duke and his crew paid heavily as they encountered a hurricane off North Carolina. Under normal conditions the Missouri was rock steady, but these waters were anything but normal. The wind and waves sent two helicopters over the side and caused serious damage elsewhere. Trying to outflank the storm had been a calculated risk, and the ship suffered for it.

The battleship passed through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific Ocean and proceeded to Pearl Harbor for repairs and installation of antiaircraft guns that had been removed after World War II. She then continued westward–through the Philippine archipelago and toward Japan.

Nature, though, didn’t respect the navy’s scheduling. Typhoon Kezia lay in the ship’s path. This time, Captain Duke took a more deliberate approach, following a course that diminished the risk of storms. The ship came through unscathed, but the delays from the repair period and the zigzag course kept the ship from reaching Korea in time for the Inchon invasion.

Up until this point the fighting in Korea had not been going well for the ill-prepared United Nations forces. The North Koreans had pushed steadily southward, driving the U.N. troops into the Pusan perimeter at the southern end of the Korean peninsula. MacArthur’s invasion at Inchon, however, proved to be a brilliant success even without the Missouri‘s firepower. When it became apparent that the battleship could not make it to Inchon in time for the invasion, which had to be precisely timed to take advantage of the tides, the Missouri received orders to bombard North Korean transportation facilities and ground troops along the way. When the ship finally reached Inchon on September 21, MacArthur, an old soldier who was then 70, came aboard for a visit.

Members of the ship’s Marine detachment scoffed at the theatrical general, whom some people scornfully referred to as ‘Dugout Doug.’ Some of the men under MacArthur’s command during World War II had given him the nickname due to his absence during the siege of Bataan on the PhilippineIslands.

When the five-star general arrived on board, he spoke with Captain Lawrence Kindred, commanding officer of the Missouri’s Marines. The general told him, ‘I have just returned from the far north, where your comrades-in-arms are in close combat with the enemy. And I wish to report to you that there is not a finer group of fighting men in the world than the U.S. Marines.’ The previously skeptical Kindred became an instant MacArthur fan.

The following month another famous guest boarded the Missouri. Comedian Bob Hope presented a show for the benefit of crew members gathered on the fantail for a Navy Day celebration. Hope’s time-honored formula included both humor and an attractive actress, Marilyn Maxwell.

The ground fighting improved for U.N. forces in the wake of the landings at Inchon. Later in the year, however, the situation turned around again as Chinese forces entered the war to help the North Koreans, and U.N. troops were once again pushed south. In action that became legendary in the annals of Marine Corps history, troops at frozen Chosin Reservoir fought a valiant rear-guard action. Shortly before Christmas, the Marines moved to an evacuation site in the port of Hungnam on the east coast, where the Missouri created a curtain of fire between the advancing enemy and the retreating allies. Though the ship no longer performed the ship-against-ship missions for which she was designed, her guns proved an invaluable weapon for land war, with each 16-inch projectile capable of producing a crater some 30 feet in diameter.

By 1951, the battleship had settled into a wartime routine that included bombarding enemy facilities on shore, supporting ground troops, and providing antiaircraft protection for carriers launching bombing strikes against North Korea. Periodically she would meet up with supply ships for replenishment at sea or travel to Sasebo, Japan, to take on ammunition and give the crew some free time ashore. Missouri’s first combat service in Korea ended in mid-March, six months after her arrival, and she began the long trip back to the United States.

By this time the navy had begun pulling other World War II-era ships from mothballs for return to active duty. Among them was the Missouri’s sister ship, New Jersey, slated as her relief. The two ships crossed paths at the Panama Canal. The Wisconsin was recommissioned in March, and the Iowa would be recommissioned in August. With all four ships of the Iowa class back in active service, the situation had changed dramatically from the previous August when Ensign Royal learned that his New York liberty had been the last good time he would see for a while. Now the Missouri became part of a regular rotation as the battleships alternated between midshipman training cruises and deployments to the 7th Fleet off Korea.

The Missouri returned to Norfolk on April 27, more than eight months after her hurried departure for the war zone. Thousands of people turned out for the homecoming celebration. As the battleship headed toward her berth at the naval station’s pier seven, a biplane flew overhead, towing a long banner that read, ‘WELCOME HOME MIGHTY MO.’

During the summers of 1951 and 1952 the Missouri resumed her role as a training ship, but in September 1952, the battleship returned for more Far East duty. Taking command for the Missouri‘s second deployment to Korea was Captain Warner Edsall. As the ship proceeded westward, Ensign Lawrence ‘Ace’ Treadwell, a recent naval academy graduate and not long married, was standing on the Missouri’s bridge when he heard Captain Edsall remark, ‘It’s great to be back to sea.’ Treadwell would have preferred to be home with his wife, but the captain realized he had one of the choicest commands in the navy, and he meant to enjoy it.

By the autumn of 1952 the Korean War had settled down to a stalemate. North Korean and U.N. representatives met at Panmunjom to seek some sort of negotiated settlement. President Truman had ruled out taking the war north to China, but he was determined to hold onto territory in South Korea during the peace talks. So the Missouri continued her program of shore attacks.

The battleship remained so far off shore during her bombardment missions that she was essentially invulnerable. One of the Missouri’s targets was the port of Wonsan, a transportation hub and industrial center on the east coast of North Korea. On March 5 and March 10, 1953, North Korean gunners at Wonsan retaliated and succeeded in firing some shrapnel onto the battleship’s broad fantail. The range was long for Missouri‘s less powerful 5-inch guns, but they were aimed toward Wonsan and pumped out 998 rounds, by far the most prolific day for the smaller guns during the deployment.

As the Missouri had done two years previously, she made a number of visits to Japan for re-arming and so that the crew could enjoy liberty. One of those who went sightseeing was Chief Gunner’s Mate Jack McCarron, who had served on the Missouri for roughly five years–a long tour of duty for a navy man. On December 7, 1941, McCarron had been badly burned while manning a 5-inch antiaircraft gun on the battleship Arizona during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. McCarron had the distinction of serving on the two battleships that symbolized the beginning and the end of World War II in the Pacific.

The Missouri’s last bombardment mission of the Korean War came to an end on the morning of March 25, 1953. She fired at targets in the vicinity of Kojo, just south of Wonsan. Captain Edsall was on the Missouri‘s bridge on the morning of March 26 as she steamed into port at Sasebo, Japan, the first stop on the long journey home. At 7:21 a.m., just after Edsall gave the helmsman an order, the captain grasped the arm of his executive officer, Commander Bob North, and collapsed on the deck. North directed the ship to her berth, as Edsall was pronounced dead of a heart attack. A new skipper, Captain Robert Brodie, Jr., soon came aboard to take command and shepherd the Missouri back to the United States.

In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower replaced Harry Truman as president of the United States, and during that summer the negotiators at Panmunjom completed armistice talks and ended the fighting. South Korea had maintained its independence, and the war had remained a limited one, although U.S. casualties totaled about 137,000.

The conflict did not end in a rousing and decisive victory like that of World War II, but the Missouri had made a significant contribution to the Korean War. She was decommissioned after the war, but in 1986 the modernized Missouri was recommissioned once more. During the Persian Gulf War five years later, the battleship again saw active service, when her guns and missiles were used against military targets in Iraq.

In 1992, the Missouri was decommissioned for the second time. Four years later the navy donated the battleship to the Honolulu-based USS Missouri Memorial Association. The Missouri will never again see combat but will open as a memorial museum in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in January 1999, allowing visitors the opportunity to board America’s most celebrated battleship.

This article was written by Paul Stillwell and originally published in the February 1999 issue of American History Magazine. For more great articles, subscribe to American History magazine today!

Watch the video: DD984SinkEx