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Today only a select few know firsthand what it is like to feel their ship shudder from the blast of their own guns, watch enemy guns flash back, and see friendly ships erupt in flames. Russell Crenshaw is one of those few. His riveting account of the savage night battle for the Solomon Islands in early 1943 offers readers a unique insider’s perspective from the decks of one of the destroyers that bore the brunt of the struggle. Russell Crenshaw was a gunnery officer on the USS Maury. His vivid, balanced, and detailed narrative includes the Battle of Tassafarounga in November 1942 and Vella Gulf in August 1943, actions that earned his warship a Presidential Unit Citation and sixteen battle stars. Crenshaw also discusses the impact of radar and voice radio, the shortcomings of U.S. torpedoes and gunfire, and the devastating effectiveness of Japan’s super torpedo.
Much has been written about the United States Navy?s operations during the WWII battles for the Solomon Islands but none to surpass the in-depth analysis that Captain Crenshaw who was executive officer in one of the destroyers that took part in many if not most of these battles. Crenshaw, then a 22-year old gunnery officer-turned XO was in a position to oversee every aspect of the operation of USS MAURY (DD-401) from his battle station in the newly created Combat Information Center and he uses those experiences to tell the stories of destroyer operations in 1943, whether the routine or the extreme stress of battle.
More importantly, Crenshaw exposes some major flaws in U.S. Naval thinking of the time, pointing out the arrogance which allowed us to na?vely believe anything we made was inherently superior to that made by an enemy. This was most especially true of torpedoes and five- and six-inch naval artillery where the lack of funding and testing could not be overcome in the fleet by training and maintenance.
He shows us the immediate effects of the new destroyer doctrine, written and implemented by then Commander Arleigh Burke and put into action by his replacement as ComDesDiv 12, Commander Frederick Moosbrugger. The success of utilizing destroyers independent of larger warships can?t be taken lightly. It had never been done before and destroyers had previously been limited to a role as adjuncts to cruiser warfare, then thought to be the major surface-engagement fighting force. Crenshaw reviews for the reader how thinking changed.
He also discusses the creation of the notion of the Combat Information Center or CIC during the Solomons Campaign and how it related to this new destroyer doctrine.
Whether read for its historical significance or for pleasure, "South Pacific Destroyer" is sure to please everyone interested in destroyers, the Pacific War, or naval history.
South Pacific Destroyer
Saturday, January 2, 2010
By: Joseph Troyer
An excellent action detailed book from the Destroyer man's perspective. Lots of Operational and little-known details.