Shepherds of the Sea

Destroyer Escorts in World War II

Softcover $8.08
Book: Cover Type


This compelling tale of courage, heroism, and terror is told in the words of ninety-one sailors and officers interviewed by the author about their World War II service aboard fifty-six destroyer escorts. They reveal many never-before-told details of life at sea during wartime and, along with information found in secretly kept war diaries and previously unpublished personal photographs, add important dimensions to the official record. Unseasoned teenage recruits when they first went to sea, these sailors were led by inexperienced college boys more accustomed to yachts than warships. Their ships were untested vessels, designed by a man with no formal training in ship design, and which many viewed as a waste of money. Yet, as Cross points out, these men are credited with helping turn the tide of the war in the Atlantic as they singlehandedly sank some seventy U-boats and captured U-505, the only German submarine taken during the war and the first enemy vessel captured by Americans at sea since the War of 1812. In the Pacific, the destroyer escorts fought in every major battle, side-by-side with Allied battleships and destroyers. But this story is not just about battles. It is also about American genius, hard work, honor and growing up in the Great Depression. The author provides eyewitness details about the historic first step taken to end racial discrimination in the military as African-Americans stepped aboard the destroyer escort USS Mason as full-fledged sailors for the first time and earned a Navy commendation of heroism in the Battle of the Atlantic presented to the surviving crewmen fifty-one years later. Readers also learn about an ingenious invention when a sailor breaks his silence about a secret weapon tested aboard his destroyer escort that rendered a new German radio-controlled glide bomb useless.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

"Shepherds of the Sea is well researched...this book is recommended to naval historians and to general readers interested in the maritime aspects of World War II." —Journal of Military History
"...The former news correspondent does an excellent job of weaving together the memories of sailors and describing in vivid detail what life was like for small ships in combat." —International Journal of Maritime History
"The first full-scale history of American destroyer escorts...the book itself can and should drop anchor in any World War II naval collection." —Booklist
"Author Robert F. Cross tells their whole story for the first time...this is a well-written and extensively researched book." —Steamship Historical Society of America
"This is the definitive story of the ships and their crew." —Soundings magazine
"Just when it seems that nothing new can be said about World War II, along comes Shepherds of the Sea, Bob Cross's well-told tale of a diminutive but decisive weapon in the naval battle, the Destroyer Escort. Cross's gift is to create a sense of being there, with the President who first envisioned this vessel and among the young men, often just teenagers, whose first glimpse of the sea was often from the deck of their DEs. A great read and an important chapter in our naval history." —Joseph E. Persico, author of Roosevelt's Secret War
"Robert Cross has brought about nothing less than a moving and thrilling story consistently focused on the people involved and almost miraculously evoking the special character of the destroyer escorts...He has told their stories with eloquence and, sometimes, in graphic detail, portraying the pain, the injury, and yes, the blood and gore that are a necessary part of war. It is a story of the heart and soul of our country and we as its people...and comes at a critical time in U.S. history." —From the Foreword by Christopher DuPont Roosevelt, Grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Shepherds of the Sea is a wonderful and well-written study of the noble role U.S. Destroyer Escorts played in winning the Second World War. The amount of original research Robert Cross performed is stunning. Highly recommended!" —Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America