(See D. Beaumont, pp. 72-75, Fall 1989 Naval History)
Lieutenant Colonel Horace S. Mazet, U. S. Marine Corps (Retired)—After meeting Arthur Beaumont at a hospital in Santa Ana, California, I joined his happy group of applicants for paintings. My long-time fascination for the Battle of Valcour in 1776 led me to ask if he might paint the scene of the Royal Savage going aground early in the fray and burning. He said with a smile, “I’ll put you at the bottom of the list.” This was about 1967.
Late in 1971 he called me. “Come and see the painting of the battle; it is almost finished.” I accepted his offer and, during my visit, admired his talent with watercolors, for it was a vibrant and energetic engagement with smoke billowing in a huge arc across the distant New York shore. On the waters of the strait were several vertical splashes. “Are those cannon balls?” I asked. He pointed to an area without any and replied, “Yes, they’re $5 apiece—how many do you want?” His subtle sense of humor was apparent, as always, and I told him to go ahead and complete the picture.
When the painting was completed, I invited friends to attend the unveiling. Also present was a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who called Arthur Beaumont a spry old elf; actually he was a fine, cultured gentleman of many years at the top of his profession. He admitted that he and his wife had passed their 50th wedding anniversary, but he could not stop painting. “My clients won’t let me!” he explained.
“Beau” died in January 1978 at the age of 87, full of years and honors and friends, a marine artist of great talents. I was proud to be one of his friends.
Some Thoughts on Naval History
Dr. James E. Valle—Like many professional naval and maritime historians, I reacted with great pleasure and anticipation upon learning that the Naval Institute was starting a new quarterly publication devoted to naval history. I felt that an organization like the Institute, with its splendid resources, its magnificent record of book production, and its broad organizational experience as a leading source of maritime literature of all kinds, was certain to produce a naval historical journal that would be the finest of its kind anywhere.
I have received five consecutive issues of Naval History and I must say that my hopes are, at best, only partially fulfilled. The articles to date seem to rely heavily on reminiscences by former officers and pieces researched by active duty junior officers. There have been few articles written by prominent naval historians such as Clark Reynolds and Thomas Buell. Most of the articles are competently written and supported by decent graphics, but the subjects covered are trivial. The pieces deal mainly with isolated incidents or brief episodes in the career of a ship, aircraft, or Marine unit. Little effort is made to connect them to the larger stream of naval history and they are not in the forefront of the latest research in the field.
I believe that Naval History would be immensely strengthened if these kinds of articles could be deemphasized in favor of pieces that represent the latest thinking and research of established naval historians. There is a lot of work in progress on the social history of the Navy, especially the pre-Civil War Navy. An important revisionist historiographical issue relative to the naval research of Howard I. Chapelle has been raised in the last issue of the American Neptune. New major findings are coming to light almost daily from the burgeoning field of nautical archaeology. A first-class naval historical journal should be on top of these developments and furnish a forum to debate new information, interpretations and perspectives.
How can this kind of material be secured for Naval History? It should be easy. Let the editorial staff decide on themes for upcoming issues. Then solicit articles from men and women researching that area. Many of them are working on book projects for the Naval Institute Press or similar publishers. Most maritime scholars will jump at a chance to contribute, especially if they know in advance that a subject on which they are currently working is being actively sought.
With such articles as the backbone of Naval History, it is inevitable that the “In Contact” section will become a major forum for debating the pros and cons of new and revisionist interpretations and thus the magazine will become a major source of naval and maritime history in the making. The Naval Institute would benefit by having a second powerful periodical publication to stand beside Proceedings.
This letter is obviously and blatantly biased in favor of an academic, professional approach to naval history at the expense of the earnest and well-meaning crowd. It should be possible, however, either to find another publication in which their work could be presented or to develop some theme approaches where they could contribute that kind of material. Naval History should move beyond anecdotes and antiquarianism to a posture that will allow it to mold and direct the development of the discipline its masthead represents.
“In Profile: Clark G. Reynolds”
(See D. Chamberland, pp. 56-59, Summer 1989 Naval History)
Donald A. Yerxa—I commend Dennis Chamberland for a fine article highlighting the accomplishments and perspectives of Clark Reynolds. Professor Reynolds was my mentor at the University of Maine, where he headed a graduate program in naval history during the late 1960s and early 1970s. While at Maine, I was privileged to have studied under two outstanding naval historians: Robert Albion and Clark Reynolds.
Since Clark Reynolds introduced me to the field of naval and strategic history, it is difficult to isolate only a few of the many insights that I gleaned from him. But perhaps the most lasting of his contributions to my understanding of history was his encouragement to look for strategic patterns among a variety of historical contexts. Initially, this approach seemed to be a reversal of the standard historical emphasis on the uniqueness of the event. After a time, however, the benefits of this way of thinking became obvious. In the type of history that Reynolds has mastered and fostered in his students, the interplay between strategic constants and historical particulars leads to exciting interpretations that significantly advance our historical understanding. For example, at both the masters and doctoral levels, I selected thesis topics about which I was told by less imaginative historians that little “new” could be written. Clark Reynolds blurted, “Balderdash!”—or something similarly quaint—and encouraged me to look at my topics from broader strategic perspectives. When I did, what may have been familiar chronological landscapes yielded fresh insights.
Such encouragement points to an aspect of Clark Reynolds that Mr. Chamberland only briefly developed. Reynolds was genuinely concerned about his students. To be sure, he did not suffer fools or lazy graduate students lightly. But for those who took the study of history seriously, he always offered encouragement, support, and the greatest gift of all—his time. Reynolds’s personal interest in his students’ development was not accompanied by condescension or a lowering of his standards of expectations. It flowed from his basic decency and sense of the worth of the individual. While his accomplishments in the archives and the classroom have been both exceptional and enviable, the true measure of Clark Reynolds for me has been his humanity.
“Salvaging the S-57”
(See J. F. Roberts, pp. 35-40, Summer 1989 Naval History)
Captain John K. Mitchell, U. S. Naval Reserve (Retired)—The pictorial account detailing the raising of the USS S-5I brought back memories of the tiny part I had in raising that stricken vessel. At the time—summer and early fall of 1926—I was the only radioman assigned to the USS T-3, which was the fastest submarine (but not submersible) in the scouting force and was stationed in New London. 1 think her flank speed was almost 25 knots.
Because she had already completed trials, there were more of us at the New London Submarine Base than necessary. We were waiting for the Bureau of Steam Engineering’s decision as to whether or not to resume tests. During that period we carried mail, supplies, tools, passengers, etc., to and from the ships employed in the salvage off Block Island. When the “51 boat’’ was towed to Brooklyn we accompanied her at a distance and witnessed her grounding at Man O’ War Rock. We were also present when the bow suddenly surfaced unexpectedly near what was thought to be the end of the salvage operations. I believe that event caused more than a month’s delay.
The hearings concerning the collision were conducted in New York, and the commander of the scouting force was required to attend. We ferried him back and forth, leaving New London on Monday morning and arriving at Brooklyn Navy Yard around 1400 hours. The admiral would remain there the entire week and return to New London on Friday; because the T-3 was “the Admiral’s barge,” she remained at Brooklyn.
“Marines in the Rhineland Occupation, 1918-1919”
(See R. Hillman, pp. 11-15, Summer 1989 Naval History)
Dr. Edward M. Coffman, University of Wisconsin-Madison—I read with interest Colonel Hillman’s fine article. Several years ago, while visiting with neighbors, I noticed a picture of a Neuwied scene in their home. The host and his brother explained that it was of their childhood home. Their father had been an imperial government official in Neuwied. I had earlier seen a photo of General John A. Lejeune with Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels taken at Neuwied and I asked if they remembered General Lejeune. They said that they did—very well, in fact. He and his staff took over the first two floors of their home as their quarters during part of the occupation. Despite the situation, their memories . were fond of the general.
“The Hellcat-Zero Myth”
(See A. M. Lazarus, pp. 49-50, Summer 1989 Naval History)
Allan M. Lazarus—The Hellcat-Zero myth continues to spread. I noted in the summer 1989 issue of Naval History that several current historians claim that the design of the Grumman F6F Hellcat was based on a Japanese Zero recovered in the Aleutians in 1942. I also noted that the Hellcat had made its first flight before the Zero was recovered.
Now another book repeats the myth. A Country Made by War (Random, 1989) by Geoffrey Perret states: “Minute study of a Zero captured intact led in just six months to a fighter that would outfly and outfight it, the F6F Hellcat.”
Perret does not name the source, but his notes on the chapter containing the statement list two of the books cited in my article: Ronald Spector’s Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan (Random, 1985), and Masatake Okumiya and Jiro Horikoshi’s 1956 book Zero!.
Let’s hope the word gets out before the next book: That ain’t the way it happened!
“The Fate of the Constitution's Masts”
(See E. L. Templeman, p. 57, Fall 1989 Naval History)
Commander Tyrone G. Martin, U. S. Navy (Retired)—The tale told in “The Fate of the Constitution's Masts,” is one that has been told before and, unfortunately, is untrue within the specifics provided in the story. The Constitution was in Norfolk only once during her first decade of service—18-25 August 1799— where she picked up a spare jibboom en route to duty in the West Indies. (In that period, she could have replaced one mast, but I have seen no record of it.) According to the ship’s official maintenance manual, NAVSEA S900A-AA- MMA-010, during this same decade she had her foremast replaced at Boston (June 1799) and Lisbon, Portugal, (September 1806); her mainmast twice at Boston (September 1800 and June 1803); and her mizzen mast not at all. If the author has copies of the documentation relating to the Constitution's repair at Norfolk in that time frame, it would be useful in clearing up the apparent discrepancies.
The story of the Constitution in Vietnam also has appeared in The Leatherneck (February 1977). A good primary source is the journal of Fifth Lieutenant John B. Dale, which is in the New England Historical Genealogical Society archives in Boston. Lieutenant Dale had been a member of the Wilkes Expedition; he wrote well and illustrated his journal with well-executed drawings. Also, the incident is thoroughly covered in Professor David F. Long’s biography of “Mad Jack” Percival.
“You Have To Go Out”
(See D. L. Noble and T. R. Strobridge, pp. 12- 20, Fall 1989 Naval History)
Eugene R. Fidell—The article was a welcome introduction to Coast Guard history. Readers of Naval History may be interested to know that the phrase used for the title is more than a figure of speech. In the 1963 case of United States v. Pratt, 34 CMR 731 (CGBR 1963), the Coast Guard Board of Review (predecessor of the Coast Guard Court of Military Review) was concerned with the general court-martial conviction of a chief boatswain’s mate who was officer-in-charge of Hampton Beach Lifeboat Station. Chief Pratt, according to the Board, “was convicted of failing to go to the rescue of a boat in distress; of being found drunk on duty during the period of 5 March to 25 August; of two disorderly conduct incidents; and of violating a station order restricting visitors aboard the station.” The specification of dereliction recited that the accused:
“was derelict in the performance of his duties while assigned as officer-in-charge, in that, when he was awakened and informed that a boat was in distress in the vicinity of the Isle of Shoals, he said “f— it,” or words to that effect, went back to sleep, and failed to initiate search and rescue procedures, as it was his duty to do.”
The Board held:
“It is plain that the officer-in-charge of a Coast Guard lifeboat station has a legal duty to initiate rescue procedures when it is reported to him that there is a boat in distress. The existence of such a duty was conceded by the defense counsel. The First Coast Guard District’s operations plan covering lifeboat stations expresses the duty. Moreover it is deeply rooted in Coast Guard tradition.”
The Board concluded, however, that the relevant evidence was insufficient to determine that Chief Pratt “knew the facts which made it necessary for him to initiate rescue procedures. We cannot say that the proof establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was actually aware of the information which was shouted to him.” The Board also found that an error had been made in the instructions the law officer (military judge) gave to the members.
It would seem, notwithstanding the outcome in this particular case, that the familiar phrase “you have to go out” states a custom of the service in the Coast Guard, and is enforceable as such under Article 92(3) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“Life as Employed Enemy Personnel’’
(See H. Raumann, pp. 28-34, Summer 1989 Naval History)
Commander George W. Lucky, U. S. Naval Reserve (Retired)—As a member of the Radiological Safety Section of Joint Task Force One, I was privileged to be a member of one of the teams to board the German cruiser Prinz Eugen after Test Able (the air burst). We searched for and collected the numerous radioactive metallic pellets on the weather decks. We were perhaps the last team. Armed with glass jars, tweezers, and Geiger counters, we found a large number. In all, there must have been several hundred. I was impressed by this ship, even though I had never been on board one of our cruisers and had no basis for comparison (I served in the amphibious Navy). Two things we found in the officers’ quarters have stayed with me over the years: A ladder which was more like a stairway than a ladder, and the bathtubs I saw in the heads. This ship was certainly different from our amphibious ships and, 1 am sure, also different from our cruisers.
“New Life for an Old Kidd”
(See T. Rizzuto, pp. 76-78, Summer 1989 Naval History)
Professor Lamar B. Jones, Louisiana Stale University—This article shows a photograph (page 76) of the USS Kidd (DD-661) resting on her cradle. The accompanying caption states that the cradle is where the Kidd rests at “low tide.” Not so! The cradle is where the Kidd rests for several months at a time when the Mississippi River is in low water stage, normally late summer and fall. Baton Rouge is a deep water port, but tidal water is in the Gulf of Mexico, not in the Mississippi River.
The Kidd’s cradle does permit visitors in later summer and early fall to walk under the vessel, literally under the bilge plates, and for those who are really interested in naval design, the shaft arrangement, screws, and rudder are easily visible. Model builders, always in need of verification, should delight in the Kidd’s accessibility.
(See J. J. Hyland, pp. 58-59, Fall 1989 Naval History)
Captain Robert C Peniston, U. S. Navy (Retired)—-Reading this article prompted me to comment on the surface side of the mid-Pacific barrier operations. As in the Atlantic, aircraft and surface units made up the barrier forces. The barrier was established on a line from Midway to Unalaska Island. The planes, Lockheed Constellations (WVs), flew a racetrack pattern between the terminal points with five surface stations manned by radar picket ships located along the line at all times. The patrol duration was 24 days. The deployment began when the ship left Pearl Harbor en route to the northern station. On arrival, each ship rotated south one station. And so on. Each ship was required to remain within a 30-mile circle of its station, unless weather or some emergency required departure. On leaving the southern station, the ship returned to Pearl Harbor, unless a fuel stop at Midway was necessary.
Much like the Atlantic, rough weather was common and could occur at any time of the year. Ships took a beating and were often in dangerous situations because of high seas and winds. There were periods of calm, however, when it was possible to lie to order to conserve fuel.
It took about 12-15 ships to maintain the five-station barrier. There were several “gold-platers” assigned, meaning they had state-of-the-art surveillance equipment. My ship, the USS Savage (DER-386), was one of these. At the height of the barrier operations, the schedule was sacrosanct, making for high morale because the crews could make personal plans accordingly. We had a decent reenlistment rate. On board the "Save,” eight of nine junior officers either augmented or extended their active service.
The barrier was periodically tested by P-2s. I cannot recall a Soviet aircraft ever penetrating the line. For the most part, it was a lonely tour, save for the flights of WVs. An important function comprised reporting meteorological data every four hours, which was most appreciated by many including the Strategic Air Command.
In the spring of 1960, the barrier was reduced to two stations. Some of the older ships were inactivated; others were sent to other ports. Those remaining at Pearl Harbor manned the barrier and participated in special operations involving the Soviets. One ship monitored an intercontinental ballistic-missile shot. The Savage went on two surveillance missions when Soviet range ships came into the central Pacific. During the second, Yuri Gagarin made his famous orbit of the earth on 12 April 1961 with the Savage obtaining important telemetry as he passed overhead. With the onset of the Vietnam War, the remaining ships were sent to duty in that theater. The barrier ceased to exist.
In spite of the unfavorable weather encountered on patrol, assignment to a radar picket ship was to be among some most competent sailors. Pound for pound, the Savage was the equal of my more prestigious commands.