"The baby flat-top LISCOME BAY was sunk by a torpedo from an enemy submarine on the day before Thanksgiving of 1943. The LISCOME BAY was on her first battle assignment, covering the occupation of Makin in the Gilbert [islands]...The torpedo struck a half an hour before dawn and it was still dark when LISCOME BAY sank."
The ship went under in less than twenty-four minutes; up to that time it was the U.S. Navy's second largest loss since the sinking of the ARIZONA at Pearl Harbor. Only 260 men survived.
This three page reminiscence provides an example of the persuasive power of film and it tells the tale of an important event at a small industrial building in Hollywood, California, that housed the Navy Film Services Depot between 1942 and 1945.
"Taking the Offensive" was the name given to this small, low budget training film that was produced on that dusty sun-bleached street and it didn't appear to be anything terribly special to the NCOs who produced it at the time - but they learned later that their film provided a badly needed shot in the arm to the then untested officers and men of one particular heavy cruiser that was destined to tangle with three Japanese ships the next day.
Click here to read about the Battle of the Coral Sea,
"General Sir Thomas A. Blamey, Australian commander of Allied ground forces in the Southwest Pacific, declared the Japs have massed 200,000 first-line troops on the approaches to Australia and might be expected to launch an offensive at any time."
It was a clear day on a fast track for James Forrestal (1892 – 1949) when the U.S. Congress passed the Two Ocean Navy Bill during the Summer of 1940. At that time both Europe and Asia were engulfed in war and it seemed certain to many that the U.S was not going to be able to avoid it. Serving as the Under Secretary of the Navy, with Frank Knox (1874 – 1944) presiding as his senior, Forrestal was charged with the duty of building the U.S. Navy into something far more dangerous than it already was, and build it he did.
Read the story of the CAMPBELL, a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter - she sank six German U-boats in twelve hours during one of the nastier moments that made up the Battle of the Atlantic.
CLICK HERE to read about the women of the U.S. Coast Guard during the Second World War.
"April 1917 was Britain's blackest month in the [First] World War... March 1941 seemed in many ways another grim month like April, 1917, perhaps even worse. Once more Britain faced peril on the sea - a danger which struck home deeper than any defeat of their armies on foreign soil... Not only German U-boats but German battle cruisers have crossed to the American side of the Atlantic and have already sunk some of our independently routed ships not sailing in convoy. They have sunk ships as far west as the 42nd meridian of longitude."