This html article is produced from an uncorrected text file through optical character recognition. Prior to 1940 articles all text has been corrected, but from 1940 to the present most still remain uncorrected. Artifacts of the scans are misspellings, out-of-context footnotes and sidebars, and other inconsistencies. Adjacent to each text file is a PDF of the article, which accurately and fully conveys the content as it appeared in the issue. The uncorrected text files have been included to enhance the searchability of our content, on our site and in search engines, for our membership, the research community and media organizations. We are working now to provide clean text files for the entire collection.
BATTLE STATIONS—YOUR NAVY IN ACTION. New York: William H. Wise & Company, Inc. 1946. 402 pages. Trade edition, $3.95; de luxe edition, $4.95.
Reviewed by Commander Roy de S.
Horn, U. S. Navy (Retired)
The reader’s first impression is of photographs. With more than 500 photographs in the book, there is scarcely a page that is not strikingly illustrated. These photographs represent the choice of the innumerable war photographs taken by the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and leading civilian agencies. Included also are pictures from enemy sources—German, Italian, and Japanese. Many of these pictures are published here for the first time.
Twenty-seven of the pictures are in full four colors which form excellent relief to the usual black and white pages.
But Battle Stations is not merely a photographic collection. Only when one begins reading does one realize that there are some thirty or forty thousand words of printed text as well.
The editorial concept behind the work is good. Battle Stations not only tells the story of the U. S. Navy in World War II, but it also gives a short sketch of the previous history of the Navy and then traces the world developments which led to Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into the war.
Highly important to the historian, and still more to veterans, are the two dozen or more chapters wherein all the great sea-air battles and amphibious campaigns are described by the actual admirals and Marine Corps generals who fought them. For instance Admiral Jonas Ingram writes the chapter on the Battle of the Atlantic, Admiral Hewitt describes the Invasion of North Africa, Vice Admiral Kirk the Invasion of Normandy, Admirals Kinkaid and Mitscher the Battle for Leyte Gulf, and Fleet Admiral Halsey the Surrender of Japan. Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King analyzes the problems and strategy of the naval war as a whole, and Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nim- itz discusses the Post-War Navy. Similarly General Vandegrift, U. S. Marine Corps, describes the conquest of Guadalcanal, Lieutenant General Harry Schmidt the capture of Iwo Jima, and Lieutenant General Roy S. Geiger the Okinawa campaign. Admiral Russell R. Waesche tells the part the U. S. Coast Guard played in the war, and the respective heads of the Navy Nurse Corps, the Waves, the Spars, and the Women’s Reserve of the Marine Corps tell the story of Women in the Service.
The written chapters, handled chronologically, give the over-all picture; the accompanying pictures and their descriptive captions carry on the story in detail. The net result is about as complete an account of the United States Naval Forces in World War
II as it is possible to assemble in one volume.
However, Battle Stations does not pretend to be a complete textual history of the Navy in World War II; it will eventually require a dozen or more thick volumes to make up such a detailed history. Even so it will make an excellent companion volume to be read in conjunction with such an official history.
The volume is of handy size, and the paper and reproductions are excellent. Factual errors are at a minimum. But the proofreading was too hurriedly or casually done; typographical errors will give the critical reader occasional moments of irritation. And many readers will wish the admirals’ and generals’ chapters had been longer and more intimate.
The average American, and especially the average veteran and his family and friends, will not be so critical. Such a public will find Battle Stations not only absorbingly eyecatching, but also extremely informative on the great theaters of the war in which the veteran himself did not personally serve.
Already a national best seller, Battle Stations should solve one of America’s great problems next Christmas—the problem of what Christmas present to give the returning Navy man or Marine or Coast Guardsman.
LANDING OPERATIONS FROM GRECIAN DAYS TO 1945. By Dr. Alfred Vagts. Harrisburg: Military Service Publishing Co. 1946. 831 pages. $5.00.
Reviewed by Commander Ellery H.
Clark, Jr., U. S. Naval Reserve
Dr. Alfred Vagts is one of the foremost research scholars and authors in the field of landing operations. Although the actual practice of landing operations begins back in the days of antiquity, the bibliography of published works in this relatively new and undeveloped field of military' study is very short and the general reading public is unfamiliar with its history and importance. Now that Landing Operations is in the bookstalls, those who are interested in this topic need no longer complain that there is no suitable, comprehensive book on the subject.
Dr. Vagts possesses an interesting background. Born in Germany, he was educated there in various schools and universities. In
World War I he wore the field uniform of the German Army and served as an infantryman and later as a member of a mortar company. By the 1930’s he had gained international prominence as an author of military articles. He left Germany and established his residence in the United States. His History of Militarism, 1937, was banned in his former homeland and cost him his citizenship there. However, he was more than delighted to become a citizen of this country.
His current work exemplifies his thoroughness. This monumental volume on landing operations is a comprehensive source and textbook which not only presents the evaluated facts, causes, and results, from the days of the ancient Greeks to 1945, but also conveys this valuable information to the reader, either military or casual, in a clear, lucid style which is only too infrequently associated with voluminous scholarly achievements.
Almost every major combined operation in history (one exception, by omission, is the Mexican War and the well-executed landing operations at Vera Cruz) is discussed by the author. A generous inclusion of excellent maps and illustrations affords additional clarity to the subject.
Dr. Vagts states that the great military writers of the past, such as Clausewitz, Jomini, and Mahan, did not pay due attention to the importance of landings and considered them merely as indecisive elements of strategy in contrast to their estimation of land or sea war, either of which they considered as decisive.
Of the above writers, Mahan draws special attention from Dr. Vagts and is described as “the greatest belittler of land warfare and the unity of warfare.” Dr. Vagts advances the opinion that Mahan influenced the unnecessary and unessential development of the German Navy before World War I:
The fascination of sea power, as expounded by Mahan and embraced by the Kaiser and his navy and the Reichstag, and not barred by the General Staff, had misled the Germans into misinvesting a certain part of their war power in battleships. If a memorial were to be set up to Mahan in England or America, it should be inscribed in gratitude by those nations: “He taught the Germans the wrong kind of war.”
In his thesis, Vagts demonstrates how landings of World War II have achieved, under the impact of necessity and the guidance of unified leadership, a new synthesis of the combined power of military, naval, and air forces. He cites examples of the successful uses of tri-elemental warfare, Iwo Jima for instance, where sea power brought our Marines to the island, air power protected them, and ground power won the island, thus demonstrating a brilliant integration of the three military arms. And he further expounds the theory that the professional militarists of the past two and a half centuries avoided landings which were potentially decisive largely because they shunned co-operation and the inevitable subordination of one service to another.
The author’s source material has been limited to material from popular newspapers, magazines, and books, and he has not had access to secret and other classified material from Army and Navy files. Therefore his information often is incomplete and some factual errors have crept in through no fault of his. Notwithstanding, the author’s selection, evaluation, and presentation of material is astonishingly good.
To students and teachers of naval and military history this book is strongly recommended as a source and textbook which can be used to great advantage in emphasizing the importance of landing operations throughout recorded history and in estimating their continued importance in the future.
PATTON AND HIS THIRD ARMY. By Colonel Brenton G. Wallace. Harrisburg, Pa.: The Military Service Publishing Co. 1946. 232 pages. $3.00.
Revived by Lieutenant Charles L.
Crane. Jr., U. S. Naval Reserve
The objectives and limitations of this simplified, laudatory account of our most- publicized army of World War II are best stated by Colonel Wallace at the beginning of Chapter Six:
In these pages I am trying to do two things— first, to give any possible military readers a broad picture of the Third Army situation as it looked at Headquarters from day to day, and second, to give the non-military reader some idea of what went on in the Third Army area in those wild summer days of 1944.
It is impossible for the writer, from his staff experience, to get down into the front lines and describe much of the daily life and experiences of the hardy infantrymen and tankers. . . .
I shall, however, illumine the account with incidents and details that came under my personal observation which may convey to the lay readers something of the atmosphere in which their men lived and fought and won—and many died.
The modest aims of the author are fairly well realized for the book as a whole, though not so well for the “wild summer days” for which they specifically are intended. In earlier chapters the author has well described the Allied “build-up” in England prior to D-Day, and the quiet movement, one month after D-Day, of the Third’s 300,000 men across the Channel and up to the lines in Brittany. But the passage quoted introduces the “Breakthrough”; the splitting of the lines at St. Lo and Avranches (by First Army), and the Third Army becoming “operational” and stampeding through the gap to overrun all of France. Here, in following Patton’s version of blitzkrieg, Colonel Wallace seems winded before he starts. Neither in his capacity then, as the Third’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Liaison, nor in his present one as narrator does he seem able to keep up with the complex rapidity of the August advance.
When the pace slows, as in the bitter fighting through the Siegfried fortifications, the weather-and-logistics-imposed lulls between campaigns, and the setback of the Bulge, the military analysis is clearer. But for the “military readers” a more detailed account of corps and division employment than this book offers should be available in official reports, and for the “non-military” there is not sufficient continuity, or sense of movement and significance, in the “incidents and details” which are thrown at random into the midst of the dry situation summaries.
Colonel Wallace’s admiration for General Patton is almost idolatrous, allusions to the famous commander reasserting constantly the more obvious qualities of his genius: physical courage, aggressiveness (tempered by wisdom and high loyalty, as when he willingly turned the Third Army, poised for
a major offensive toward the Saarland, northward to the relief of the Bulge), care for the welfare of his men, and brilliant flexibility in meeting each new situation with the best weapon or combinations possible.
Patton and His Third Army is, at best, a sincere memorial to the wartime Third Army and its leader, also an outline of that Army’s progress from the shores of England to the halls of Berchtesgaden. At worst, it should supply both a stopgap and a challenge to the eventual great history that such an army deserves.
METEOROLOGY—WITH MARINE APPLICATIONS. By William L. Donn. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1946. 465 pages. $4.50.
Reviewed by Commander W. H. Sublette, U. S. Navy
This book is admittedly a textbook for Merchant Marine officers, and as such it fulfills its purpose admirably, being written in a lucid straightforward style, adequately illustrated with diagrams, maps, and pictures, using, so far as possible, nontechnical language easily understood by a student with a high-school education, and at the same time giving facts enough for a good fundamental knowledge of the subject. A Merchant Marine officer, having used this work as a textbook, should find it an invaluable reference on board ship, both for a further understanding of weather and as a practical guide for weather observation and reporting.
This book should also find a place in libraries as a source of information to laymen who are interested in the broader aspects of weather without being concerned with the technicalities. The book is so written that the technical aspects may be skipped completely, without losing continuity.
I was particularly impressed by the clear- cut presentation in the three chapters: “Clouds and Thunderstorms,” “Tropical Cyclones—Hurricanes,” and “Development and Structure of Cyclones.”
Although this book is not suitable for a study of the higher aspects of meteorology and is not intended for such, it is eminently suited for instruction in the elements of this important subject and is highly recommended for use by those people desiring a basic workable knowledge of weather.
ROCKETS. By Robert H. Goddard. New
York: American Rocket Society, Inc. 1946.
Reviewed by Robert W. Bass, Member, American Rocket Society
Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the father of modern rocketry and late chief of the Navy research on jet-propelled missiles, wrote very little about rockets. He considered his work always in an intermediate state of development, and so the best record of his inventions is a collection of his patents. The two technical reports that he did write are so fundamental in their nature that they have been called “the most significant publications in the history of rockets and jet propulsion.”
These famous reports, the basis for all modern rocket and jet propulsion engineering, are “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes” (1919) and “Liquid-Propellant Rocket Development” (1936). Originally published by the Smithsonian Institute, both have been out of print for years, with dealers selling photostatic copies of the earlier report for $35 during the war.
Rockets, by Robert H. Goddard, is a reproduction of these reports by facsimile printing. A new foreword, written by Dr. Goddard while he was working at the Naval Engineering Experiment Station in Annapolis shortly before his death on August 10, 1945, a biographical sketch by G. Edward Pendray, Secretary of The American Rocket Society, and many photographs are included.
In “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes” Dr. Goddard in 1919 put forth his new theory of rocket performance. He made calculations regarding the heights that might reasonably be expected from a dry-fuel rocket having a high exhaust velocity and a high mass-ratio. He showed that these conditions could be fulfilled by using a tapered nozzle to discharge the exhaust gases, by feeding successive small charges into the combustion chamber, and by using the “step- rocket” principle. The results of a long series of painstaking experiments with conventional and smokeless powder rockets are
included. The most startling statement in the paper is that it is theoretically possible to place a rocket on the surface of the moon.
Dry-fuel propellants, however, were not adequate, and for the next fifteen years, with the help of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Smithsonian Institute, and Clark University, the physicist worked on the liquid propellant type of rocket. As a summary he wrote “Liquid Propellant Rocket Development.”
During these experiments Dr. Goddard developed the first liquid-fuel rocket including a light, strong, well-cooled combustion chamber, a gyroscopic stabilizer, and a pump-turbine drive coupled with light fuel tanks. These last two developments were later found incorporated in the German V-2 rockets.
Dr. Goddard’s greatest achievement was that of working out the mathematics of an entirely new science and then going on to solve the major engineering problems connected with the practical application of its principles. These two fundamental papers of Goddard’s accomplished for the science of rockets and jet propulsion what Mendel’s original papers did for heredity, or what Newton’s Principia did for mechanics. The American Rocket Society is to be complimented for their re-publication.
Important Professional Books
Bradley, Clifi. Small Boat Building. New York: Macmillan. 1944. $1.95. Specific information for amateurs on design, drawing of plans and construction.
Brebner, John Bartlet. North Atlantic Triangle. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. 1945. $4.00. Diplomatic co-operation between the United States, Great Britain and Canada. Dean, John P., and Breines, Simon. The Book of Houses. New York: Crown Publishers. 1946. $2.00. Photos and plans of actual houses, with advice on how to estimate and appraise the good and bad points of a house.
Foster, Mulford B., and Foster, R. S. Brazil, Orchid of the Tropics. Jaques Cattell Press. 1945. $3.50. The story of naturalists’ explora-
tion and adventures in the jungles and highlands of Brazil in search of rare plants.
Graumont, Raoul. Handbook of Knots. New York: Cornell Maritime Press. 1945. $1.75.
Graham, Lloyd. Desperate People. Buffalo, N. Y.: Foster & Stewart Publ. Corp. 1945. $2.50. The needs of the world of today and the choices that we face.
Hartog, Lady Mabel Helene Kisch. India in Outline. New York: Macmillan. 1945. $2.00. A short and informative book on the problems of present-day India.
Henderson, Daniel M. Yankee Ships in China Seas. New York: Hastings House. 1946. $3.00. Adventures of early nineteenth century Americans in the Orient.
Kahn, E. J. Fighting Divisions. New York: Infantry Journal. 1945. $2.50. Operational history of ninety fighting divisions of the United States Army in World War II.
Laserson, Max M. Russia and the Western World. New York: Macmillan. 1945. $2.50. The place of the Soviet Union in the Family of Nations.
Millar, George Reid. Waiting in the Night. New York: Doubleday. 1945. $2.75. A history of the Resistance Movement in France.
Rieseberg, Harry E. Treasure Hunter. New York: McBride. 1946. $3.00. Dramatic adventures in underwater salvage, from the seventeenth century to the present day.
Sigaud, Louis A. Belle Boyd, Confederate Spy. Richmond, Va.: Dietz Press. 1945. $3.00. A biography of a Southern woman spy whose feats have become legendary. The author has tried to sift the truth about her from the accumulated legends.
Stalin, Joseph. The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union. New York: International Publishers. 1945. $1.75. Stalin’s speeches and orders of the day from June 22, 1941 to May 9, 1945.
Stevens, Sylvester K. American Expansion in Hawaii, 1842-1898. New York: Archives Publishing Co. 1945. $4.50. Development of United States interest in Hawaii. This book is both scholarly and readable.
White, Owen P. Texas, an Informal Biography. New York: Putnam. 1945. $3.50. An informal history of the state.
Wiltse, Charles M. John C. Calhoun, Nationalist, 1782-1828. Cincinnati: Bobbs-Merrill. $3.75. An approach to justice for Calhoun by a genuine scholar.