Tag: Naval History

One Farm Boy’s Experience Aboard USS Guadalcanal

 

Glenn Larson was a 19-year-old North Dakota farm boy when the United States entered World War II. He volunteered for the U.S. Navy in December 1942. He could have gotten an agricultural deferment, but wanted to serve. Later, he was aboard the USS Guadalcanal when it captured the U-505 German submarine.

“A World War Two Secret: Glenn P. Larson and the U-505” by Beverly Larson Christensen tells his story. Larson participated in the capture of the first enemy warship taken on the high seas by the U.S. Navy since the War of 1812.

Christensen gives a picture of her father growing up on the family farm. She recounts Larsen’s naval career when he joined up: boot camp in Idaho, training as an electrician, assignment to the Guadalcanal when not yet in commission, and how Larson became part of the submarine’s capture.

To Own the Sea at Night

 

Nighttime is the right time for a naval battle; at least during the 20th century. Eighty percent of the surface actions were fought at night then. Before that, during the age of fighting sail, only ten percent of battles occurred at night.

“Fighting in the Dark: Naval Combat at Night: 1904-1944,” edited by Vincent P. O’Hara and Trent Hone, explores the reason for that change. It looks at nighttime naval actions fought over a 40-year period.

It contains seven essays by eight noted naval historians. Each examines the naval night-fighting doctrine of different navies in different conflicts: The Russo-Japanese War, World War I, and World War II. These examine the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Russo-Japanese War and between 1922 and 1942, The German Kaiserliche Marine during World War I, the Royal Navy between 1916 and 1939 and in 1943-44, and the United States Navy from 1942 through 1944.

The Graphic Version of an Epic Book

 

James Hornfischer exploded on the naval history scene in 2005 with his book “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.” It was an account of the Battle off Samar when a collection of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers fought Japan’s main surface battle force to a standstill. Over the next dozen years he wrote four more books, three focused on the Pacific War. All were excellent. In 2021 he died.

“The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: A Graphic Adaptation,” by James Hornfischer, Doug Murray, and Steven Sanders is a graphic novel adaptation of Hornfischer’s original book. Murray translated the book, doing the storyboarding and text while Sanders did the artwork. It is one of a series of graphic novels being published by Dead Reckoning, Naval Institute Press’s graphic imprint.

The book is a faithful adaptation of Hornfischer’s book. It follows the overall path of the original. The adaptor and artist capture the climactic battle between the “tin cans” (destroyers and destroyer escorts) and Japan’s powerful battleships and heavy cruisers. They show the desperate attacks made by the escort group to protect the carriers they are assigned to defend. They convey the confusion felt by both sides.

Life Aboard a North Sea Battlecruiser

 

At the beginning of World War I, John R. Muir was a surgeon in the Royal Navy.  He was also an avid yachtsman.

“Years of Endurance: Life Aboard the Battlecruiser Tiger 1914-16,” by John R. Muir were his memoirs of his service during World War I.  It offers a fascinating look at the life of a Royal Navy surgeon of the period, both ashore and afloat.

The book opens prior to World War I in May 1914. Muir was Senior Medical Officer at Chatham Barracks, responsible for conducting the physicals of men entering the service during mobilization. A preliminary mobilization had been bungled. Muir shows how the lessons learned were incorporated into the actual mobilization a few months later. He recounts his early months of the war ashore before being assigned to the battlecruiser Tiger.

Dreadnoughts at War

 

The dreadnought battleship was an iconic technology in the first half of the twentieth century. Nations poured millions into their construction. Despite – or perhaps because of – the money spent building them they were rarely used.

“Clash of the Capital Ships: From the Yorkshire Raids to Jutland,” by Eric Dorn Brose, presents one period where dreadnoughts were extensively used: the North Sea during World War I. Britain’s Grand Fleet and Germany’s High Seas Fleet waged a campaign in the North Sea between 1914 and 1916 representing the dreadnought age’s most important use of dreadnoughts.

Jutland, the biggest and most important naval battle of World War I, was not fought in isolation. Brose takes a fresh look at the battle of Jutland and the events leading up to it. He reexamines all source material, British and German, including material released after the centennial anniversary of the Battle in 2016.

To the Uttermost Depths and Back

 

During the decades humans first reached outer space, they were also reaching for the ocean’s uttermost depths.  They even managed to reach those depths before placing a man in orbit.

“Opening the Great Depths: The Bathyscaph Trieste and Pioneers of Undersea Exploration,” by Norman Polmar and Lee J. Mathers tells that story.  It is a history of Trieste. It also fits Trieste into its historical context.

The authors reveal an unexpected origin for the bathyscaph: high altitude ballooning. Its initiator, Swiss academic Auguste Piccard made his name in the 1920s setting altitude records in free-flight balloons. His purpose was scientific, measuring cosmic rays at stratospheric altitudes. He was equally interested in plumbing the ocean’s depths. He used concepts developed for balloons in designing the bathyscaph, an ocean-plumbing balloon. Gasoline substituted for hydrogen to provide buoyancy, iron shot provided ballast, with the crew in a pressurized spherical compartment.

The Hermione Mutiny Retold

 

The 1797 mutiny aboard HMS Hermione was the most violent in the history of the British Royal Navy. The ship’s officers and senior warrant officers were butchered. Worse, the crew turned the ship over to the Spanish, a nation with which Great Britain was then at war. The mutiny became the stuff of legend.

“Mutiny on the Spanish Main: HMS Hermione and the Royal Navy’s Revenge,” by Angus Kostram provides a new account of the mutiny, the events leading up to it and its aftermath. It is the first book-length retelling of the story in nearly 50 years.

The mutiny occurred during the French Wars of Revolution, following the 1789 French Revolution. It was triggered by the 1793 execution of the French monarch. Hermione, a 32-gun frigate armed with a main battery of 12-pound guns was sent to the West Indies to support British efforts there, including at Saint Dominique (today’s Haiti). Hermione participated in the three-sided conflict between French Royalists, French Revolutionaries, and the black slaves of the sugar island.

The United States in a Perilous Year

 

The United States is going through some hard times right now. Some might believe 2020 to be the most challenging year faced by the Republic. The oldest among us remember a year far worse than 2020 or even the 1960s.

“The Year of Peril: America in 1942,” by Tracy Campbell, recalls that year. The United States had been unexpectedly thrust into a war, one we appeared to be losing in 1942.

Campbell takes readers through that year. He reveals the fear stalking the American public, especially early in 1942. People expected the attack on Pearl Harbor to be followed up by a Japanese invasion of the American homeland. Air raids by long-range German bombers were also expected.

This Week’s Book Review – Catastrophe at Spithead

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.

Book Review

‘Catastrophe at Spithead’ examines loss of warship Royal George

By MARK LARDAS

This Week’s Book Review – The Atlantic War Remembered

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.

Book Review

‘The Atlantic War Remembered’ delivers raw memories from those who lived it

By MARK LARDAS

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review ‘The New Battle’ takes a complex look for peace By MARK […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review The start of a naval dynasty examined By MARK LARDAS Preview […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears, I post the review here on Sunday. Book Review ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ a biography of the Soviet Navy’s architect By MARK LARDAS Preview Open

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. Book Review ‘Silver State’ looks at a forgotten veteran By MARK LARDAS Preview […]

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This Week’s Book Review: Seapower States

 

Free markets and representative government combined to create unprecedented wealth since 1800. During the 20th century, three major conflicts were won by the coalition better representing those two traits.

“Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires, and the Conflict that Made the Modern World,” by Andrew Lambert examines the roles maritime cultures play fostering progress. Lambert holds that nations depending on seapower must necessarily favor free trade and possess representative governments.

He examines five nations that became world powers through embracing maritime culture and seapower: Athens, Carthage, Venice, the Netherlands, and Britain. All five gained power through trade — and more importantly, exchange of ideas. He argues they achieved this because all five had decentralized, representative governments made up of people whose livelihood depended on trade. This allowed the best ideas and the best leaders to rise to the top.

[Member Post]

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review on Ricochet on the following Sunday. Seawriter Preview Open

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[Member Post]

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Sunday. When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet. Seawriter Book Review  Battle of the Atlantic By MARK LARDAS Preview Open

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[Member Post]

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Sunday. When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet. Seawriter Book Review Examining the final years of the War in the Pacific […]

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