Shepherds of the Sea: Destroyer Escorts in World War II

By Robert F. Cross

This compelling story of braveness, heroism, and terror is advised within the phrases of ninety-one sailors and officials interviewed by way of the writer approximately their global warfare II provider aboard fifty-six destroyer escorts. They show many never-before-told info of lifestyles at sea in the course of wartime and, besides info present in secretly stored struggle diaries and formerly unpublished own images, upload vital dimensions to the reliable checklist. Unseasoned teenage recruits after they first went to sea, those sailors have been led by means of green collage boys extra conversant in yachts than warships. Their ships have been untested vessels, designed by means of a guy without formal education in send layout, and which many seen as a waste of cash. but, as move issues out, those males are credited with aiding flip the tide of the conflict within the Atlantic as they singlehandedly sank a few seventy U-boats and captured U-505, the single German submarine taken through the struggle and the 1st enemy vessel captured via americans at sea because the conflict of 1812. within the Pacific, the destroyer escorts fought in each significant conflict, side-by-side with Allied battleships and destroyers. yet this tale isn't just approximately battles. it's also approximately American genius, labor, honor and turning out to be up within the nice melancholy. the writer offers eyewitness information about the ancient first step taken to finish racial discrimination within the army as African-Americans stepped aboard the destroyer escort USS Mason as full-fledged sailors for the 1st time and earned a military commendation of heroism within the conflict of the Atlantic awarded to the surviving crewmen fifty-one years later. Readers additionally know about an creative invention whilst a sailor breaks his silence a couple of mystery weapon validated aboard his destroyer escort that rendered a brand new German radio-controlled drift bomb lifeless.

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Fifty one Nineteen-year-old Mason radioman Ben Garrison, who was once “elated” to have an opportunity to function a full-fledged sailor, won't ever put out of your mind Convoy N. Y. 119, which he defined as a “hair-raising” event. Garrison acknowledged the quartermaster informed him the send took a 70-degree roll through the crossing. The younger sailor, who was once in his foul-weather apparatus with a wool jacket and lengthy johns, stated because the water washed over the deck it should freeze on touch. traces have been caked with thick ice, making them tough to address. that they had to be specifically cautious jogging at the slippery decks, he stated, simply because if a sailor went overboard not anyone will be capable of rescue him within the raging seas. fifty two Thomas Howard, the eighteen 12 months previous who informed as a gunner’s mate yet spent his time within the ship’s mess, remembered gripping onto the ship’s cable guardrails to maintain from being tossed overboard. “The waves have been astronomical,” Howard recalled. “That was once the day of all days,” he famous in recalling Convoy N. Y. 119. Howard stated the Mason may sink down after which lurch again up because the send pitched backward and forward. fifty three for his or her heroic efforts, the staff of the USS Mason was once prompt via Captain Blackford in addition to the convoy commander, Cdr. Alfred L. Lind, to obtain a army commendation, a commendation that, regardless of their brave steadfast devotion to accountability, used to be no longer offered to the black sailors who served on board the Mason, owing most likely to the racial prejudice of the time. finally, if the Mason was once “programmed to fail,” as a few of its group believed— and it in its place excelled—the army brass may have came across it more straightforward to bury the commendation suggestion than to confess they have been flawed. it can take greater than part a century earlier than the U. S. executive bestowed upon the Mason staff contributors who have been nonetheless alive the respect they'd earned—and been urged for—way again in 1944. fifty four even if the lads of the USS Mason wore the uniform of the U. S. military, racial prejudice was once felt each day. in truth, Ben Garrison recalled an example while he and his white shipmates have been on board a ferry in Virginia. They sat down on the lunch counter and positioned their order. The white waitress eyed Garrison warily yet did carry him his sizzling puppy and Coke. inside of mins, even though, a white guy got here from the kitchen and, utilizing a racial epithet, instructed Garrison to go away. “I needed to convince my shipmates to not shield me,” Garrison acknowledged, including that he quietly picked up his lunch and left the counter. Martin Davis, pharmacist’s mate on board the USS Pettit, labels as “horrible” the remedy of blacks on board DEs. “When I first acquired aboard the send I observed those black fellows they usually have been all segregated,” he recalled. “They have been all dwelling in a single place of the send and so they have been serving as cooking team of workers, officials’ stewards, they usually have been taken care of through the officials like servants. ” Davis stated the remedy carried over off the send in addition. “If you ended up in a southern port, in the event you ended up in Norfolk, Virginia, or anywhere within the South, those fellows needed to get at the back of the bus.

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