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Lieutenant F. Miles Day, U. S. Naval Reserve.—Admiral Hewitt’s clearly written article details the difficulties of defending the shipping standing off the Salerno beaches from air attack by reliance on cover from fighter aircraft based in Sicily. He suggests that the difficulty might have been partly remedied if an officer embarked with the invasion force had been assigned full control °f the covering fighters. This solution would have had a drawback in that no efficient means to insure adequate fighter support to General Montgomery’s army, if suddenly required, would have been available. These aircraft, if required temporarily in connection with the advance up the peninsula, could not have been directed by an officer at Salerno. Aside from the command problem, Admiral Hewitt points out that the Sicily based fighters were at a disadvantage owing to the relatively short time that they could stay over the beachhead.
In hindsight the lesson seems obvious, namely, that sufficient carrier borne aviation should have been available to provide the full fighter cover and also to supplement the naval gunfire in the beachhead area. Provision of such additional carrier air force was not within the power of the Mediterranean command. It could only have been arranged, without sacrifice in other theaters, if a somewhat different balance of effort had prevailed in the over-all United States and British effort to build up air power. The decisions proportioning the effort to be expended in developing and producing carrier borne aviation made in 1941 and 1942 played a direct part in the difficulties encountered at Salerno.
Hands Across the Sea
V. G. Griffin.-—In these days when international goodwill is a frequent theme on all sides I think that Proceedings readers would be genuinely interested to learn of a chain of events which served to increase the spirit of friendship and cooperation which exists between this country and Great Britain.
In the summer of 1949, while on their summer cruise to Europe, a contingent of Naval Academy midshipmen put into Portsmouth, England. While there, some of the Annapolis lads made the acquaintance of a retired British physician, Dr. H. J. Aldous. Later, as an expression of friendship and appreciation for the Britisher’s hospitality, one of the midshipmen sent to Dr. Aldous a copy of the 1950 Trident Calendar as well as an attractive booklet on the U. S. Naval Academy Chapel.
Shortly thereafter, sparked by the happy friendship with the Americans, the idea occurred to Dr. Aldous to present to the United States Naval Academy a statuette of Horatio Viscount Nelson, similar to the Nelson statuette which Dr. Aldous had presented to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, England, some time before. He consulted with his good friend Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fraser of North Cape, and thereupon made his offer to the Naval Academy via the Commander of American Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.
The generous offer was, of course, accepted, and in due time there arrived at
Annapolis an exquisite statuette of cast bronze, about three feet in height, mounted on an oaken pedestal. The statuette, now on display in the Naval Academy Museum, depicts Lord Nelson in the undress uniform in which he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar, October, 1805. The sculptor, Mr. F. Brook Hitch, F.R.B.S., adhered faithfully to the detailed directions of the late Sir Geoffrey Callender, former Director of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, and the leading authority on Nelson and uniforms of the past.
Within a year after the arrival of the Nelson statuette the good Dr. Aldous passed away and left to the United States Naval Academy a fine collection of volumes for the Academy Library. All of the volumes pertain to the career of Nelson and constitute one of the finest collections of Nelsonia on this side of the Atlantic.
In making his gifts to the United States Naval Academy, Dr. Aldous stated that he hoped that his action would help to inspire the two nations to work together in harmony and peace for the good of the world and the maintenance of peace. His fervent hope was expressed thus: “May our Navies ever draw into closer friendship.”
The Invasion of Norway
(See page 783, July, 1953, Proceedings)
M. Jacques MordAl, Paris, France.— May I call your attention to a remark concerning the invasion of Norway in the July 1953 number of the Proceedings, page 783. There is discussion of the “foolish myth,” generally accepted until the present day, and according to which the invasion was effected by German soldiers concealed in innocentlooking merchant ships.
The exact passage is: “All accounts previous to Admiral Assmann’s study maintained that the soldiers were in large part smuggled into the Norwegian ports in innocent-looking merchant ships, that they arrived in such ports days or weeks before the attack started, and that at the given moment these ships, lying conveniently in readiness, disgorged the assault troops. ...”
My book on The Norwegian Campaign, published in 1949, considered this point and placed no credence in it, so there was an “account” of it previous to the one analyzed by Captain Krause, in which the utmost caution has been exercised against this assertion. My conclusion was that, aside from certain definite instances, the alleged mass transport of German soldiers in merchant vessels has never been proved.
The 18-Inch Gun
(See page 1103, October, 1953, Proceedings)
(Editor’s Note: The following comment was submitted by the Director of the Historical Section, Army Headquarters, Canadian Department of Defence.)
Colonel C. P. Stacy, Royal Canadian Army.—I have read with interest the article “Design and Construction of the Yamato and Musashi” by Captain Matsumoto and Commander Chihaya. The authors are I think not altogether accurate on one point. Referring to the 18-inch guns of the Yamato, they say, “Until then the largest naval guns of the modern type ever mounted aboard a man-of-war were of the sixteen-inch size.” The fact is that 18-inch guns were mounted in two types of ships in the Royal Navy in the later part of the First World War.
Jane's Fighting Ships, 1919, records that the British cruiser Furious, launched in 1916, was designed to mount two of these enormous guns, one forward and one aft. The fore gun was never mounted, being replaced by a flying-off deck and hangar for aircraft. The after 18-inch was mounted and was fired a few times; Jane’s observes, “It is said ‘It shook her up considerably.’ ” In 1918 the after 18-inch gun was removed and replaced by a flying-on deck and another hangar.
H.M.S. Furious was a “half-sister” of Glorious and Courageous, which mounted four 15-inch guns each. Both were subsequently converted into aircraft-carriers. Both were lost during the Second World War.
The British 18-inch gun was also mounted, it seems, in at least three monitors of the Dover Patrol, General \Volfe, Lord Clive and Prince Eugene. Jane’s Fighting Ships, 1918, indicates that two other monitors were also so armed, but I have been unable to confirm this. The 18-inch gun removed from Furious was mounted in General Wolfe.
In his book The Dover Patrol, 1915-1917, Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon tells how the Admiralty offered him two, and later three, 18-inch guns, each weighing 150 tons, for work on the coast. He accepted them, and proceeded to design a mounting that could be used either on land or on a monitor. Emplacements were prepared in the Palace Hotel at Westende, and Admiral Bacon designed an arrangement, which he illustrates, for carrying the gun and mounting across the Channel on the two bulges of a monitor. His book appears to indicate that the guns were never used on land and that the three guns were not all installed in the monitors before the Germans evacuated the Belgian Coast in
1918. However, Brassey’s Naval Annual,
1919, which illustrates the mountings in detail, states, “It may be of interest to note that these monster weapons were used during the final bombardment of Ostend, and it is satisfactory to know that, in range and accuracy, their performance was specially good.” Admiral of the Fleet Lord Keyes speaks in his memoirs of Wolfe with her new 18-inch gun arriving to join the Patrol in September 1918.
The guns were mounted singly on the after part of the monitors’ superstructures, each being protected by a huge shield open at the rear. The mountings allowed an elevation of 45 degrees, but only about 20 degrees of training. The gun in each case is reported to have been permanently trained over the starboard beam, and when it was desired to fire beyond the mounting’s arc of training, it was necessary to maneuver the ship.
The weight of the 18-inch shell is said to have been 3600 pounds.
Of course, this British use of 18-inch guns was experimental, and H.M.S. Furious particularly was, as first designed, a vessel of highly abnormal and apparently unsatisfactory type. These “large light cruisers” of the Courageous ciass, with their great size and speed, peculiar armament, and slight protection, were sometimes called the Outrageous class.
The Y amalo and Musas hi, on the other hand, apart from their tremendous size and the problems that resulted from it, would appear to have been comparatively conventional battleships.
(See page 1185, November, 1953, Proceedings)
Major Edson W. Card, U. S. Marine Corps.—It was an eye-opener to read in this article that Mahan’s “works are no longer required reading to aspiring naval officers. ...” If such is the case, Captain Hayes’s excellent article needed to be written. It seemed unfortunate to me though that in his suggested study list of Mahan's works he failed to mention Naval Strategy; unfortunate because it is, as the publisher described the book, “The conclusions of a lifetime’s study of the subject.” By disregarding this one book of Mahan’s, an apologia may be necessary for the present-day reader, and Captain Hayes has in some respects supplied this.
Mahan, however, needs no apologia. Viewed in the light of the precepts, or more correctly the philosophy, expressed in the introductory chapter of Naval Strategy, Mahan’s works will by themselves stand the test of time. Captain Hayes states that Mahan’s “earlier outright historical works are the only ones which have significance for us today.” This I don’t feel to be a just appraisal. The earlier works are valuable for their analytical study of history, but the latter work contains the synthesis of the previous studies, the “conclusions of a lifetime’s study.” Clausewitz is today widely misunderstood, mainly because his works were not complete in themselves; they were ideas and thoughts which were set down on paper and which he was constantly revising. Clausewitz did not live long enough to leave us his matured “conclusions.” Jomini, his contemporary, outlived Clausewitz by 38 years and was able to tear apart some of the Prussian’s theses. The writings of the two would undoubtedly have been more complementary had their life span been more nearly the same. (It is interesting to note what a high regard Mahan had for Jomini, but made infrequent reference to Clausewitz.) Fortunately, Mahan did live long enough to be able to set down his conclusions. Let’s read all of Mahan.
The value of substituting the cumbersome term “peripheral strategy” for “sea power” is rather questionable. Exercises in dialectical rhetoric will be of little help in making our position known to the layman, the aspirant, or the average professional officer. “Sea power” is an inexact term, meaning different things to different people and at different times, hut it has entered the language so, unless we wish to pull our priestly robes about us and retire into a brotherhood of “Navspeak-ers,” we must use the language of the multitude.
I do not mean to be unduly critical of Captain Hayes’s article. It is timely, interesting, and well-deserving of its place in the Proceedings. Certainly, as the author concludes, “We should start reading Mahan again.”
The Fleet Survey Ship
(See page 869, August, and page 1366, December, 1953, Proceedings)
Commander W. M. Gibson, U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.—I wish to thank Lieutenant Pollack for his comments on my article.
His objections to my suggestion of the APD as the best of present fleet types for conversion, and his preference for the use of converted minesweepers or patrol craft were very interesting and not altogether unexpected. The use of such ships in certain situations as auxiliaries has merit. But I do not believe he would use them in lieu of fleet survey ships equipped to survey, wiredrag, compile, and print charts on the scene. I believe that we are in close agreement.
The Maury and Tanner would he very useful ships in case of extensive naval warfare. Their greatest value seems to lie in the consolidation and developement of newly captured areas, to provide a command headquarters, consulting services, special surveys with their own equipment, technical personnel and services to the smaller fleet survey ships (such as the APD’s), fleet commands invasion planners, and base commanders. The forward working fleet survey ships of which I wrote ;would be fast, well-armed, and well-manned for surveying and publishing charts in the pre-invasion and invasion areas; and would supplement a Maury or Tanner type in each theater. The need for publication and distribution of surveys and charts of an invasion area is immediate. Therefore, the fleet survey ship should compile and print such a chart on board at the scene of action (when possible), whenever sufficient valuable data have been obtained, even though that entails reprinting several times later to include more data as they become available. The ship should be as self-sufficient as possible as to survey and wiredrag launches, hydrographers, cartographers, photographers, and printers. A minesweeper or patrol craft is hardly large enough.
If a clear definition of the cartographic and oceanographic missions required for support of a fleet engaged in naval and amphibious warfare were implemented by the assignment of responsibilities for design and operation, it is possible that a ship somewhat similar but considerably larger than the Explorer (212) and the Pathfinder (235) might result. No doubt more speed, armanent, personnel accommodations, electronic space, cargo space and larger boats would be needed. The Explorer boat davits are unusually good for the purpose. The need for compromising by alteration of existing type ships is questionable because of the importance of the service rendered in peace time as well as in war; and the long term realization of the inherent economy of an efficient basic design.
The Explorer was never converted to a fleet survey ship, but has proven a very successful design for the U. S. Coast & Geodetic Survey work in Alaska, where the wiredragging has usually been done by separate units, the charts compiled and printed in Washington, and navigational aids planted and tended by the U. S. Coast Guard. If pre-invasion and invasion surveys, and hydrographic intelligence are a part of the mission of a fleet survey ship, then the APD type may be an acceptable conversion in lieu of a new basic type. It may be lively in a seaway, but apparently not too lively to launch and hoist 36-foot boats for carrying raiders and underwater demolition crews to landings on enemy beaches. Conditions for handling hydrographic and wiredrag boats of about the same size need not be better. Navy 52-foot wiredrag boats are very desirable but may not be practicable for hasty surveys in the invasion areas. They are excellent for use by the Maury and Tanner or any other ship targe enough to handle them. The Pathfinder used 30-foot wiredrag launches throughout World War II. The comparison of the Pathfinder with an APD on the basis of tonnage alone is misleading. The APD is about 75 feet longer, has better arament, much more speed, larger boats, and more cargo and deck storage space.
Conditions in which smaller and more expendable survey ships might be needed should arise only in the invasion areas where the fleet survey ship is working. The small vessels would be used only for surveying or buoy work; and the results of their work would be incorporated into the charts being published on the fleet survey ships, and not back at the headquarters or on the Maury and Tanner. There is no acceptable substitute for prompt on-the-scene compilation and printing. In other words they might serve as auxiliaries from time to time to the forward working fleet survey ships. But the use of auxiliaries should not preclude the development of a standard type fleet survey ship capable of performing a very large percentage of all required missions. During the New Georgia Invasion in the South Pacific surveys were needed in the approaches to Munda Bar, Rendova Harbor, Sasavele Anchorage, the Munda lagoon, Diamond Narrows, Hathorn Sound, and Manning Strait on the other side of the “Slot.” The latter three areas were not accessible to a fleet survey ship on the south side of New Georgia, and could have been readily surveyed by two smaller vessels capable of navigating Diamond Narrows. The remainder of the needed work could have been done quickly with a fleet survey ship using all of its launches. The fact that the work dragged out over a good many months, through the use of first a mobile survey unit, and much later a YMS and the Pathfinder, was no reflection against the personnel or commands involved, but did reflect the need of sufficient numbers of sufficiently well-designed fleet survey ships. Experience should be good for later profit. But the small ships should have served as auxiliaries to the fleet survey ship assigned to the invasion, and not as independent units with extremely limited drafting and publishing facilities. Had two fleet survey ships been available, no auxiliaries would have been needed. An ATA type auxiliary might be very useful setting buoys.
The mobile survey party with the Bougainville invasion did an excellent job with the one small launch assigned. However, they had to stop surveying and return to Guadalcanal to compile and print their survey of the immediate landing area, on account of urgent need for the chart. In the meantime, ships of the fleet were encountering shoals far to seaward in the approaches. Two large attack transports had struck uncharted coral heads on the first landing. Another small mobile survey unit was dispatched to the scene on a small transport (APC). It required a long time for the small vessel to complete the surveys, and much longer for it to return to Guadalcanal with the data. The chart had to be compiled on the Oceanographer while engaged on other surveys; and was printed by the Air Force. This was not a healthy place until the battle of Bougainville had been fought and won; nor was the beachhead very secure for a long time. APD’s were used in the invasion. They were fast and maneuverable; could hit and run; or could have surveyed and run. A fleet survey ship with four to six small boats could have surveyed and charted this area in a few weeks time and issued preliminary charts from time to time as the surveys progressed. But, it was not a place for a large or slow and cumbersome vessel to swing happily around an anchor, while surveys were being made.
We should guard against the needless exposure of ships of the fleet to the continuous hazard of using areas without adequate charts. The Navy needs ships that will promptly and accurately fulfill the mission. A capital ship may be as badly damaged by an uncharted rock as by a torpedo. If the mission is important and worthwhile, the best of experience, knowledge and foresight is needed for its implementation. We want the most effective and efficient and not necessarily the smallest and cheapest.
 A. T. Mahan, Naval Strategy (Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1911).