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."
"Not only did Germany limit the size of her fleet, but she failed to push technical developments. For example, she was behind the Allies in developing radar, and her torpedoes were mechanically deficient. She was ahead of the Allies in perfecting magnetic mines, but these proved to be a short-lived advantage... The priority for naval construction was so low that when the war began in September, 1939, the naval strength allowed in the treaty of 1935 had not been reached."
"Thus, in the opinion of Admiral Doenitz, Germany, for the second time within 25 years, lost her bid for world supremacy because of her weakness at sea."
This is a short anecdote that recalled a slice of life on board a USN troop ship as it ferried men from one bloody atoll to the next. The two speaking parts in this drama were both officers who butted heads regularly until they understood that what united them was the welfare of the
dying young men returning from the beaches who had given their last full measure.
Some four months after VJ-Day U.S. Fleet Admiral Ernest King (1878 – 1956) gave a post-game summary of the Navy's performance in his third and final report for the Department of War:
• Biggest factor in this victory was the perfection of amphibious landings
• Hardest Pacific battle: Okinawa invasion
• American subs sank at least 275 warships of all types
• Of the 323 Japanese warships lost, the U.S. Navy claimed 257 (figure disputed by Army Air Corps)
Read an article about the many faults of the
German Navy during the Second World War...