Blood On The Sea: American Destroyers Lost In World War Ii Hardcover – December 21, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Da Capo Press (December 21, 1995)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 360 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1885119178
- ISBN-13 : 978-1885119179
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.25 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,131,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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USS Reid (DD-369) During a convoy escort west of Leyte on 11 December 1944, a swarm of Japanese planes appears overhead:
' ...Racing down through a murderous wall of 20- and 40-mm cannon fire and 5-inch projectiles, four more "bandits" were splashed, four others being damaged by Reid's gunners. Then five more aircraft prepared to crash-dive onto the destroyers, four of which ganged up on Reid.
The first suicider screamed in, snagged its wing on the starboard whaleboat, and went careening forward to crash against the ship's hull, just above the waterline abreast of No.2 magazine. The explosion blew a huge hole in the destroyer's side and set her ammunition ablaze. Seconds later, another aircraft plunged into her Mo.3 5-inch gun mount aft, then spun aronund and crashed into a 40-mm gun tub, detonating with a thunderous blast. A flaming shower of burning gasoline splashed across Reid's decks, burning and scorching every sailor in its path and causing ready 20- and 40-mm ammunition to explode in a lethal pyrotechnic display.
Within two minutes of first being struck, the damaged Reid was on her way to a watery grave. Shaken by violent internal explosions and unchecked flames gutting her bridge and superstructure, Reid began to settle swiftly by the stern... Seemingly as if in protest, after she had vanished beneath the waves, the sea shook and rumbled violently as her ammunition continued to detonate throughout her battered, fiery hulk. ' (p. 261)
This was the first campaign to suffer from Kamikazes- and death from the sky came quickly. The U.S. Navy needed to adapt to every new tactic from the enemy; soon, carriers arrived with strengthened fighter groups to provide air cover. As seaborne radar controllers detected new raids, the Combat Air Patrols would be vectored to intercept. Ships continued to be struck. It also helped to supply the ships with ammunition that exploded in proximity to an airplane.
See also: The deadly fuze: The secret weapon of World War II , USN Destroyer vs IJN Destroyer: The Pacific 1943 (Duel) .
Sarpedon Publishing, Fifth Avenue, New York, New York. 1995.
The U.S. Navy lost 71 destroyers in World War II; their stories are told in this book. Some of the ships were sunk by enemy gun fire. Some of these "tin cans" were sunk by Kamikaze action. Others were lost to the all powerful sea. Each of the 71 vessels is given a short, (perhaps 3 pages on average) history.
The book's general format begins each of the 71 sections with a few paragraphs on the history of the name of the destroyer. Once, it was Navy policy to name battleships after states, aircraft carriers after battles, cruisers after cities and so on. Destroyers were named after people who were famous in naval history or who had performed some act of gallantry, or good performance in the naval service. For example, the USS Blue (DD-387) was named for Rear Admiral Victor Blue (1865-1928) who had "...excellent intelligence missions in Cuba during the Spanish-American War..." and later commanded the battleship "New York... during her service ... in World War I". (Page 78).
The next part of each section deals with the actions the destroyer was involved in and the cause of the sinking of that ship. In the back of the book, there is an appendix summarizing the various methods used to sink the American destroyers: naval gun fire, Kamikaze attack, explosion, storm and so on. The book lists the sinking of the destroyer in general chronological order. Interestingly, the first destroyer sunk by enemy action in World War II was the USS Reuben James (DD-245), lost on October 31, 1941, some five weeks before the dastardly Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The notes on the torpedoing of the Reuben James show that her captain, Lt. Commander H. L. Edwards, died when the ship was lost.
So, each section gives a history of the ship's name, a brief listing of the actions the destroyer was involved in, how she was sunk and where she was sunk. I was intrigued by the single ship listed as "scuttled". The American naval tradition is never to scuttle a ship. The USS Stewart, (DD-224), was involved in the disastrous retreat of the American, British, Dutch and Australian navies before the onslaught of the Imperial Japanese Navy, early in the war. The USS Stewart was disabled and brought to a floating to dry-dock in Surabaya. The dry-dock collapsed , trapping the damaged vessel, so the Stewart's crew was split up amongst other ships and the trapped vessel blown up with demolition charges. The explosives did not do a complete job, and, as the author, Robert Parkin, recounts, ..."the frugal Japanese had raised the damaged destroyer, effected temporary repairs and ...(incorporated her) ... as Imperial Japanese Navy Shoaki-tei...Patrol Boat 102". Interesting story.
Finally, there were those destroyers sunk by the might of the ocean, off Iceland, or on the rocks near Nova Scotia, or by that famous (infamous) typhoon in the Pacific. Navy Hymn: " Oh hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea."
The author, Parkin, has done an excellent job of gathering much information in one place. You can read the book from front to back, in more or less chronological order, or you can skip from ship to ship, depending upon your interests. All in all, this is a fine book.