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Thompson II DD-627 - History

Thompson II DD-627 - History

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Thompson II DD-627

Thompson II (DD-627: dp. 2,500; 1. 348'3"; b. 36'1"; s. 37.4 cpl. 276; a. 4 5", 4 40mm., 5 21" tt.; cl. Gleaves)

The second Thompson (DD-627) was laid down on 22 September 1941 at Seattle, Wash., by the SeattleTacoma Shipbuilding Corp., launched on 15 July 1942; sponsored by Miss Sara Thompson Ross, and eommissioned on 10 July 1943, Lt. Comdr. Lee A. Ellis in command. Following operations along the west coast, Thompson departed San Diego on 19 August, bound for the east coast. She arrived at Norfolk on 1 September, prior to departing the next day for the coast of Maine and arriving at Casco Bay on 3 September. The destroyer then headed south to the Boston Navy Yard where she underwent repairs. She next engaged in exercises off the Massachusetts coast before returning to Casco Bay on 23 September for training. On 5 October, she escorted Arkansas (BB-33) into New York and joined the screen for Texaa (BB-35) for nine days of exercises in shore bombardment and other drills before joining Convoy UGS-21 which sailed from Norfolk, bound for North Africa. Thompson served as an escort, keeping ships in the channel as they plodded out to sea and prodding them to close up and keep in formation, while her echo-ranging gear was alert for prowling submarines off Chesapeake Bay. One day out, 16 October, the wind and sea rose, presaging a heavy storm which served to scatter parts of the convoy and cause Thompeon to note in her log numerous times, "telling stragglers to close up." After the transatlantic voyage, Thompson was released from escort duty on 31 October to proceed to Casablaca, French Moroeeo. One week later, the destroyer, attached to DesDiv 36, was homeward-bound with Convoy GUS-20. On 24 November, Thompson entered New York harbor with the convoy and then proceeded independently to the New York Navy Yard for voyage repairs. She sailed for Casco Bay on 5 December and conducted refresher training en route. On 7 December, Thompson and Baldwin (DD-624) screened New Jersey (BB-62) as the battleship conducted high-speed runs and turning trials. Later that day, the three ships engaged in night illumination and spotting practice before carrying out the same program on 8 December. After returning to Caseo Bay, Thompson again put to sea, bound for Norfolk. During the night of 10 December, the winds increased to 70 knots with high seas and a low barometer. By 0735, it became necessary to rig in her already battered whaleboats and reduce speed to 12 knots. Thompson put into Norfolk on 12 December. Two days later' she joined Convoy UGS-27, bound for North Africa. On 27 December, she made a depth charge run on what her log termed "a questionable target." Entering Casablanca harbor on 3 January 1944, Thompson and her fellow escorts were soon assigned to Convoy GUS-27, bound for Norfolk, where they arrived On the 24th. After alternating between New York, Boston, and Casco Bay, she departed Norfolk on 18 March, bound for Trinidad. Returning to Norfolk six days later, Thompson operated along the east coast until mid April when she joined the build-up of forces for the invasion of western Europe. On 18 April, she rendezvoused with Baldwin, Arkansas, Tusoaloosa (CA-37), Nevada (BB-36), and the rest of DesRon 18—to which Thompson was attached —and sailed for England. This force arrived at Plymouth on 28 April and prepared for duties during the forthcoming invasion. On 4 May 1944, Thompson participated in landing exercise "Fabius," one of the many preliminaries to the landing on Normandy. On the 9th, she conducted shore bombardment practice at Slapton Sands, England; on the 13th, she fired antiaircraft practice off Ailsa Craig, Scotland, and, on 16 May, she engaged in division tactics and further bombardment exercises off the Irish coast. On 15 April, she anchored at Belfast Lough, Ireland. The following day, 16 April, Nevada, Texas, and DesDiv 36 departed for exercises off the Irish coast before returning to Belfast Lough. Three days later, on 19 April, General Dwight D. Eisenhower inspected the ship Underway on the 20th, she conducted anti-"E" Boat exercises through the 22d. In these operations, she fired starshells and praetieed illumination tactics for dealing with the foreseen danger of the Schnellboote. After more shore bombardment practice, in which her 5inch and 40-millimeter gunners exercised at their battle stations and sharpened up their gunnery, she put out of Belfast Lough for Plymouth and thence proceeded to Portland, where she arrived on 27 April. The next day, German Heinkel-lll's bombed and mined the harbor, causing no small amount of work for harried minesweeper crews. But, with this danger soon swept away, the Allied forces could resume the nearly complete preparations for the upcoming Normandy invasion. On 5 June, she joined Task Group (TG) 124.7, Convoy 0-1, bound for Omaha beach. She and her charges arrived off the Normandy beaches after an uneventful, but storm-tossed, evening. Thompson then received her fire support orders to take station off Point de la Percee as a unit of TG 124.9. En route, she stood to action stations, her guns trained out and ready for any eventuality as the drama of history's greatest landing operation unfolded around her. She arrived off Point du Hoc as Army rangers were struggling to gain a foothold on the rocky promontory. Thompson's spotters could not momentarily see much as Army aerial bombardments had obscured the area with smoke and dust. But when the haze cleared away, the destroyer's main battery opened fire with a vengeance, tongues of flame flashing from her gun muzzles as her salvos screamed shoreward. One by one, her targets of opportunity disappeared as her salvos struck "on target." She then lay-to, like a cat with a cornered mouse, awaiting remaining enemy guns to reveal themselves with tell-tale flashes. Later in the day, she cruised closer inshore and located three giant German "Wurzburg" radar antennae. Once again, her spotting was deadly accurate, and one of the radar "dishes" toppled over, shattered by Thompson's shells. Soon after, the wreckage of the two other antennae joined the first one in the dust. Thompson's smaller guns also got into the fray. Her 40-millimeter batteries shredded concealments of shore batteries and sniper nests, working in close conjunction with shore spotting teams who ferreted out the hidden enemy. Among her other targets was a fortified house. Solidly constructed, it had withstood numerous coastal storms. But on 6 June 1944, its solid Norman masonry could not hold up to a few rounds of five-inch high explosives; and down it tumbled, into a pile of rubble. The following day, 7 June, Thompson's straightshooting gunners were at it again—this time, in support of the Rangers at Point du Hoc. Once more, her 40-millimeter and 5-inch batteries shot the enemy out of his sniper nests and gun positions before setting course for Portland, to anchor in Weymouth Bay to replenish her depleted fuel and ammunition stocks. On 8 June, Thompson and her old companion Satterlee, steamed back to Omaha beach. On the evening of 9 June, the Germans struck back in a stealthy E-boat attack. Thompson, screening as part of the Allied naval craft gathered there, joined in commencing fire on the intruders who were successfully driven off, retiring to the northward at high speed. On 10 June, her 20- and 40-millimeter gunners splashed a low-flying German "snooper" airplane. At 0100 on 11 June, another E-boat attack developed from the northward. Here, as before, the long hours spent in night illumination and spotting practice exercises paid off handsome dividends. Thompson fired starshells, which blossomed in the darkness to turn night into day, and revealed the shadowy E-boats. British steam gunboats Grey Goose and Grey Wolf then darted in to ward off the intruders under the watchful eye of the destroyermen. On 12 June, Thompson embarked a party which included Admiral Ernest J. King, General Dwight D Eisenhower, General George C. Marshall, and Generai Henry H. Arnold and transported them across the channel to the invasion beaches at Omaha and then returned to Plymouth with Admiral King and his party embarked. She continued to operate off Normandy beaches throughout the remainder of June 1944, steaming often between Seine Bay, France, and Plymouth, England. On one occasion, she served as flagship of Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, Naval Commander, Western Task Forces, for a quick visit to Cherbourg; on another, she once more served as a transport for General Eiaenhower. On 24 July 1944, Thompson steamed for North Africa, transiting the Straits of Gibraltar and arriving at Bizerte four days later. Underway in company with the rest of DesDiv 36 on the 29th, she left Bizerte bound for Oran, Algeria, arriving on the 30th. Thompson reached Naples on the 6th of August and joined the Allied expeditionary forces amassing for Operation "Anvil Dragoon," the invasion of southern France. Underway with Convoy SF-1, bound for the assault area, Thompson served in the screen and patrolled offshore throughout the operation from 15 to 21 August. After a brief tender availability from 28 August to 1 September, she returned to the southern France beachheads to continue patrols through 18 September before steaming to Mers-EI-Kebir, Morocco, where she arrived four days later, on 22 September. On the 23d she departed Mers-EI-Kebir and headed for the uniter States. Arriving at Bermuda on 1 October, she commenced Navy Yard availability on 3 October, which lasted through the 27th of that month. For the remainder of 1944, Thompson operated off the east coast of the United States. On 3 January 1945, the destroyer joined Convoy UGS-86, bound for North African ports. Entering Mers-EI-Kebir on the 20th of January, she remained in North African waters until 1 February, when she joined the screen of Convoy GUS-68, en route to the tinited States. Arriving off New York on 13 February, the New York section of the convoy was detached. Thompson remained with the Boston section and continued on to that Massachusetts port, where she commenced a 10-day navy yard availability on 15 February. Following these repairs, she steamed to Norfolk, Va., conducting gunnery exercises en route. On 1 March, she sortied with Convoy UGF-21, bound for North Africa, and arrived in North African waters on 12 March. The following month, after returning to the United States, she again escorted a North African convoy, this time UGS-85, commencing on 7 April. On 30 May, Thompson was reclassified as a fast minesweeper and redesignated DMS-38. She spent the month of June undergoing conversion for her new mission, commencing on the 5th. She completed her yard work on the 29th. During a post-conversion period, she conducted her first minesweeping exercises, with magnetic sweep equipment, in Chesapeake Bay. She also calibrated her radar, conducted antiaircraft exercises, and practiced laying mines. On 1 August, she departed the Virginia capes and steamed toward the Canal Zone, where she arrived on 7 August. While underway on 14 August, she received the news that Japan had surrendered. On 18 August, she arrived at San Diego. During September, Thompson moved westward, stopping at Pearl Harbor on 8 September and Eniwetok on the 21st. Arriving at Buckner Bay on 28 September, she put in just in time to take on fuel and head out to sea as a typhoon swirled its stormy way north. Shortly after the ship returned to Buckner Bay, yet another typhoon warning scrambled the Fleet and set it seaward into the East China Sea once more. On 9 October, the storm center smashed through Okinawa, but Thompson was well-clear and suffered no damage. She and her sisterships in Mine Division (MineDiv) 61, formed a scouting line 4 miles apart on 10 October, keeping careful lookout while returning to Buckner Bay, searching for life rafts, derelicts, or men in the water. On 16 October, Thompson, in company with MineDiv 61, headed to sea from Buckner Bay to commence svveeping operations in area "Rickshaw" in the Yellow Sea. En route the following day, Thompson sighted several floating mines and destroyed them by gunfire. On 19 October, the force arrived at "Rickshaw," joined by PGM-29, PGM - o, and PGM - 1. Thompeon began her initial actual minesweeping at the north east end of known mine lanes. The following day, Thompson swept her first mine—the first one swept by the task group. By 17 November, "Rickshaw" had been swept clean of Japanese mines, with Thompson scoring high with 64 mines located and destroyed. After a short tender availability at Sasebo, Japan, the base of operations for MineDiv 61, Thompson steamed to Nagoya, Japan, to become flagship of the task group sweeping nearby waters. Completing this operation by mid-December, the minesweeper steamed back via Wakayama to Sasebo. During the last week in 1945, she assisted in the unsuccessful search for survivors of Minevet (AM-371), sunk by a mine explosion off Tsushima, northwest of Kyushu, Japan. The ship spent January and February 1946 in Japanese home waters, and then steamed for Bikini Atoll to assist in sweeping operations to prepare the area for Operation "Crossroads" tests of atomic bombs to be conducted there in July. Before the tests took place, Thompson headed back to the United States. She remained at San Francisco, Calif., through July and then spent two months in overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif. From Mare Island, she returned to San Francisco to operate out of that port until late in the year. After six months of operation at San Francisco, she sailed for China on 10 February 1947 and proceeded via Pearl Harbor, Guam, and Kwajalein to Tsingtao. Following six months duty with American occupation forces in Chinese waters, Thompson returned to the United States in early September 1947 and arrived at San Diego, Calif., on 2 October. Transferred to the operational command of Destroyers, Pacific Fleet, with the abolition of the Pacific Fleet Minecraft command, Thompson operated out of San Diego as a destroyer until 29 April 1948, when she returned again to Mare Island for a two-month overhaul. In July, she returned to San Diego and underwent traininF operations off the west coast, activities in which she was engaged for the remainder of 1948. In January 1949, Thom p$on again set course for China in company with Destroyer Division 52. En route, however, the ships received orders to put about for the west coast after spending a few days in Hawaii, arriving at San Diego on 4 February 1949. Thompson and three of her sister fast-minesweepers then became Mine Squadron (MineRon) One and were assigned to the General Line School at Monterey, Calif. They alternated in these operations between Monterev and San Diego for the remainder of 1949. After spending the first three months of 1950 in routine exercises and cruises out of San Diego, Thompson steamed for Pearl Harbor on 6 April 1950 for a three-month overhaul. While in the yard, she received news that North Korean armed forces had invaded South Korea crossing the 38th parallel. Completing her overhaul ahead of schedule, Thompson returned to San Diego on 20 July and began an accelerated and rigorous underway training period which lasted through August and part of September 1950. On 4 October 1950, Thompson and sistership Carmick (DMS-33) departed San Diego, Calif., and arrived at Pearl Harbor five days later. The next day, they got underway for Midway. Twenty-four hours from their destination, orders directed them to patrol off Wake Island during the meeting of General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry Truman. Thompson remained there overnight, refueling at sea from Guadalupe (AO-32) before proceeding to Japan, arriving at Sasebo on the 21st. While Thompson and Carmick had steamed across the Pacific, United Nations forces had been rallying after the initial heavy losses and retreats at the hands of the communist armies. Aecordingly, the American Eighth Army put heavy pressure on North Korean troops, pushing them towards Pyongyang, on the west coast of Korea. This thrust was stretching the Armys supply lanes. To remedy this problem, an operation was mounted to open up the mined port of Chinnampo. Yet to do this deed required ingenuity and resourcefulness, not the least of which involved a lack of minesweeping craft at the start of operations. Thompson and Carmick, newly arrived in the Land of the Morning Calm, were detailed to join the makeshift minesweeping organization recently established under Comdr. M. N. Areher. Consisting of Forrest Royal (DD-872) Catamount (LSD-17), Horace A. Bass (APD-12i), Pelican (AMS-32), Swallow (AMS-36), and Gull (AMS-16), LST Q - 07, four Republie of Korea minesweepers, and a helicopter from Rochester (CA-124), this task group performed a nearly impossible feat in slightly over two weeks. Before too long, American ships were bringing in supplies to the advancing Eighth Army. After a week of patrol duties off the newly swept port escorting logistics ships now able to utilize the channel, Thompson left the bitterly cold region behind for a week of repairs and resupply at Sasebo. In early November, however, the entry of Chinese communist forces into the war vastly altered the strategic picture. In the face of heavy onslaughts, United Nations troops retreated. One port which served as an evacuation point was Chinnampo, familiar to Thompson's men as a result of the sweeping operation conducted a scant month before. While United Nations warships conducted bombardments of advancing communist troops, Thompson escorted troopships out of the harbor in dense fog and through treacherous tidal currents to assist in the evacuation. For her part in this action, Thompson received the Navy Unit Commendation. After replenishment, she served as harbor control vessel at Inchon, Korea. Two days after Chrishmas, she suddenly received orders to head for Sasebo, where MineBon 1 was to be regrouped. Arriving at the Japanese port on 27 December, she departed on 30 December 1950 in company with Dogle (DMS-34) and Endicott (DMS-35) for minesweeping assignments on the east coast of Korea. There, she spent close to three weeks engaged in clearance sweeps so that support ships could take fire-support stations to assist ground forces ashore. In late January 1951, after a month in the arduous and cold conditions of that region, Thompson returned to Sasebo for repairs. These included drydocking for work on the hull, and, as a result of the docking period, the availability was extended another three weeks, before she departed for minesweeping operations again in mid-February. Now using Wonsan, Korea, as a base, she operated to the northward, eventually sweeping Kyoto Wan deep 50 miles south of the Manchurian border. While sweeping off the key railway nexus of Songjin, Thompson ran across a new minefield and cut seven mines as she passed through on her sweep. Later, she operated in the screen for Missouri (BB-63) and Manchester (CL83), while they operated in that area on shore bombardment duties. At Chuuron Jang, she herself destroyed two railroad bridges with her pinpoint gunnery. Also during this period, she took part in "junk-busting" operations up and down the coast, being on the lookout for suspicious junks used by communist forces for infiltration and minelaying operations. On one occasion, while underway north of Songjin, she sighted six North Korean junks in a cove. Once again, as at the Normandv "D-day" landings, Thom p$on's gunners opened fire with a vengeance and sank all six communist boats. After a month of such operations, she returned to Sasebo for upkeep. From 1 April to 3 November, Thompson returned to shell communist defense positions, supply lines, and troop concentrations. On 14 June 1951, however, it was the enemy's turn to hit back. Thompson's gunners had just completed the destructions of a railroad bridge near Songjin when communist shore batteries opened fire, soon straddling the ship. One shell struck the bridge and knocked out the ship's fire control gear. In retaliation, Thompson's gunners destroyed one enemy battery and damaged another With three dead and three wounded, Thompson retired. On 3 November, Thompson departed from Korean waters, homeward bound. She steamed into San Diego bay on 20 November and thence proceeded to the Mare Island Navy Yard for overhaul. After post-repair trials, she conducted operations on the west coast and underwent a restricted availability at Long Beach, Calif. Thompson spent the remainder of 1951 and the first part of 1952 in continental United States waters before departing San Diego on 23 June 1952. Arriving at Pearl Harbor six days later, she continued on to Yokosuka, where she arrived on 18 July. After a short availability alongside Frontier (AD-26) Thompson proceeded to SongJin, Korea, arriving off that port on 11 August 1952. In contrast to her earlier Korean tours, when her minesweeping duties were intermingled with destroyertype operations, Thompson was now free to operate as a destroyer for coast patrol and gunfire support duties. Sweeping was now done by AM's and AMS's; and was all done at night. The communists, too, had changed tactics. More guns were brought in to defend the coasts, while enemy accuracy had improved as well. On 20 August 1952, once more off Songjin, Thompson was taken under fire by a Chinese battery. A shell hit the flying bridge, killing four and wounding nine. Thompson attempted to return the fire, but the excellently concealed shore guns made the return shelling's accuracy difficult and ineffective. Retiring from the scene, the stricken Thompson transferred her casualties to lowa (BB-64), then operating 16 miles south of Songjin. Five days later, the minesweeper arrived at Sasebo on 26 August for tender availability repairing her engines and battle damage, before she headed north to Songjin. She remained off this unlucky port from 13 September to 12 October 1952, occasionally patrolling to the northernmost extremity of the United Nations blockade before again returning to Sasebo. From 3 November to 1 December 1962, Thompson operated in Wonsan harbor, as part of the United Nations blockade forces there. As such, she was in range of communist guns on many occasions. The object of enemy fire at least four times, Thompson received damage for the third time when straddled on 20 November 1952, while acting as gunfire support ship for Kite (AMS-22) which was conducting a sweep of the inner harbor. From three widely spaced points enemy guns took the minesweepers under fire, catching Thompson amidships on the starboard side as she was laying clouds of oily black smoke between Kite and the shoreline. Returning to Yokosuka for repairs to the battle damage, Thompcon spent Christmas in that Japanese naval port. New Year's, however, once again found the fast minesweeper at Songjin. After two more tours there, into February of 1953, Thompson headed back to the United States in company with Carmick. With refueling stops at Midway and Pearl Harbor, she finally arrived at San Diego on 14 March 1953. Operating with MineDiv 11, she based on the west coast for the remainder of the year. Commencing on 8 June 1953, Thompson served as a Columbia Movie Studio "prop" during the filming of the Herman Wouk novel, The Caine Muting. Operating out of San Francisco for one week, Thompson became Caine, while at the same time serving as the model for many of the Columbia sets used in the filming of the on board scenes. After taking part in two exercises in late September 1953, she operated out of San Diego until 1 December 1953, when she reported to the Pacific Reserve Fleet to prepare for inactivation. On 18 May 1954, Thompson's commission pennant was hauled down and the ship placed in reserve. On 16 July 1956, she was reclassified as a destroyer and redesignated DD-627. She was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1971 and sold to the American Ship Dismantlers, Inc., of Portland, Oreg., on 7 August 1972 for scrapping. Thompson received two battle stars for Wold War II service and seven battle stars and the Navy Unit Commendation for her Korean War service.

The Man Behind the Double V Campaign

Many may be aware of the Double V campaign—victory at home and abroad for Black citizens during World War II—but few know of the 26-year-old cafeteria worker at the Aircraft Corps in Wichita, Kansas, who ignited the campaign.

In his letter to the Pittsburgh Courier, a prominent Black newspaper, James G. Thompson pondered the paradox of fighting for equality abroad while facing inequality at home when he penned, “Should I sacrifice my life to live half American?”

Prior to the war, nearly 80 percent of the Black population lived in the South under Jim Crow laws that institutionalized segregation. On the eve of World War II, Blacks carried an unemployment rate twice that of white Americans and a median income that was a third of the average family, according to the National World War II Museum. Between 1918 and 1941 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recorded at least 544 lynchings of Blacks, although recent estimates have deemed that number to be even higher.

In war time Black men and women faced the duality of fighting against the genocidal Nazi regime, while conversely living through widespread racial violence and discrimination that frequently denied Black citizens their constitutional right to vote.

In his letter, published on January 31, 1942, Thompson implored that “while we keep defense and victory in the forefront that we don’t lose sight of our fight for true democracy at home.” Thompson added, “Would it be demanding too much to demand full citizenship rights in exchange for sacrificing of my life?”

Thompson’s letter tapped into the frustration that many Blacks were experiencing. Historian C.L.R. James later echoed Thompson and proclaimed, “Why should I shed my blood for Roosevelt’s America, for Cotton Ed Smith and Senator Bilbo, for the whole Jim Crow, negro-hating South, for the low-paid, dirty jobs for which negroes have to fight, for the few dollars of relief and the insults, discrimination, police brutality, and perpetual poverty to which negroes are condemned even in the more liberal North?”

Co-opting the “V for Victory” slogan, Thompson suggested that if the “V for victory sign is being displayed prominently in all so-called democratic countries which are fighting for victory over aggression, slavery and tyranny,” then “we colored Americans adopt the double VV for a double victory. The first V for victory over our enemies from without, the second V for victory over our enemies from within.”

Thompson’s letter was not a wild new concept for many Black Americans, but his slogan was memorable and caught the interest of numerous Black newspapers across America.

The Courier, for example, took Thompson’s cue and launched the Double V campaign, demanding social, political, and economic gains. On February 14, 1942 the newspaper printed, “we adopted the Double “V” War Cry—victory over our enemies at home and victory over our enemies on the battlefields abroad. Thus, in our fight for freedoms, we wage a two-pronged attack against our enslavers at home and those abroad who would enslave us. WE HAVE A STAKE IN THIS FIGHT. . . ARE AMERICANS, TOO!”

(National Archives, Records of the Office of Civilian Defense)

In June of that year Thompson replaced W.C. Page as the director of the Courier‘s national Double V campaign, and by mid-July the Courier claimed it had recruited 200,000 Double V members—one of the largest Black organizations in America at that time.

The campaign also received considerable support from key white politicians, novelists, and movies stars that included, among others, Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey, Ingrid Bergman, and Humphrey Bogart.

Thompson remained with the Courier until he was drafted into service in February 1943, after which time the newspaper largely abandoned its Double V campaign.

And although he faded into historical obscurity, Thompson’s slogan remains a key pillar of the fight for racial equality in the 20th century and a harbinger of the civil rights movement.

“I love America,” he wrote. “[A]nd am willing to die for the America I know will someday become a reality.”

Parallels In Time A History of Developmental Disabilities

When the U.S. entered World War II, many attendants at public institutions were drafted, leaving a shortage of workers. Admissions to public institutions, however, continued to increase. Many institutions closed some of their colonies and placed more residents in each building to economize. Some institutions placed two residents to a bed and in hallways.


Institutions addressed their worker shortage by employing conscientious objectors. Records of their observations raised public awareness of the conditions of public institutions. In 1948, Albert Deutsch wrote Shame of the States, a photographic exposé of New York's Letchworth Village. Originally designed to avoid the problems common to larger institutions, Letchworth was considered one of America's better institutions. Deutsch's exposé, and other exposés of this time served to highlight the horrible conditions in all institutions.

After decades of invisibility, persons living in public institutions were again the objects of attention.

Video footage showing President Franklin D. Roosevelt walking

With courtesy and permission of the Pennsylvania State Archives, MG-254.1 Audio-Visual Materials, Jimmie DeShong Motion Picture Film, 1937, featuring Franklin D. Roosevelt

Amphibious Vehicles

The U.S. Army’s acronym for the amphibious truck (DUKW) was pronounced ‘‘Duck,’’ which was appropriate for a waterborne craft equally at home on land. The name was derived from the manufacturer’s designators D (model year 1942), U (amphibious), K (all-wheel drive), and W (dual rear axles). The Duck was based on a standard two-and-a-half-ton truck chassis with six wheels and could make five and a half knots in water but upward of 50 mph ashore. With all-wheel drive for its three axles it had excellent traction, making it a desirable cross-country vehicle. It could deliver between twenty-five and fifty troops or five thousand pounds of cargo. First employed in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, DUKWs were a mainstay of U.S. Army amphibious operations, including the invasion of Italy and Normandy. Some twenty-one thousand were manufactured throughout the war.

Normally four bulldozers were allotted to each U.S. infantry division, but more were provided for Overlord. Even then, very few got ashore in time to help—just three of sixteen at Omaha Beach. The difficulty of unloading the heavy vehicles in deep water proved more of a problem than did enemy action. However, those that did survive unloading and German fire proved extremely useful. They removed obstacles and bladed clear paths for other vehicles across the dunes leading inland. After the beachhead was secure, bulldozers were constantly in use by engineers to improve roads and construct advanced airfields. General Eisenhower considered bulldozers so important that he listed them as one of the significant WW2 weapons of the European campaign. Bulldozer blades also were affixed to Sherman tanks.

The halftrack was a hybrid, a lightly armored vehicle with front wheels and a tread in the rear. Its mobility and cross-country capability made it ideal for mechanized infantry, though halftracks also were adapted for light artillery and antiaircraft use.

The U.S. Army mainly deployed the M2, M3, and M5 series of halftracks, built by Autocar, White, and Diamond T companies. Dimensions and performance were similar: about twenty feet long (including a tenthousandpound winch), a six-cylinder, 148 hp engine, and three thousand pounds empty weight. Halftracks could reach 45 mph and cruise 220 miles carrying ten to twelve men. Armament generally was a pedestal-mounted .30 or .50 caliber machine gun plus small arms. Mines and hand grenades also were included.

The most impressive halftracks were M16 (White) and M17 (International) versions mounting quad-.50 mounts for antiaircraft defense.

The most iconic of American WW2 vehicles. Officially the jeep was a quarter-ton truck, but its versatility exceeded that designation. Easily the most famous vehicle of World War II, the jeep derived its name from the acronym for GP (general purpose) vehicle.

When the German army overran Western Europe in 1940, the importance of mechanized transport became apparent to the United States. Consequently, the U.S. Army issued a seemingly impossible request to 135 companies: produce a prototype quarter-ton light truck in forty-nine days. Only two firms responded—American Bantam and Willys-Overland. The Bantam prototype was rolled out on 21 September 1940, followed by Willys and a belated Ford entry. Willys’s exceptional engine produced 105 foot-pounds of torque compared to eighty-five for the Ford, while Bantam’s design was overweight. The army ordered 1,500 examples from Willys and Ford with deliveries commencing in the spring of 1941. As a consolation, Bantam was given the contract for building the trailer designed to be towed by jeeps.

The jeep was ten feet, nine inches in length and had an eighty-inch wheel-base its ground clearance was not quite nine inches. The heart of the rugged little vehicle was a four-cylinder, 55 hp engine that yielded a surprising twenty miles per gallon fully loaded. It became a four-wheeldrive, light truck capable of carrying five soldiers, eight hundred pounds of cargo, or towing a 37 mm antitank gun.

Over the next four years an incredible 640,000 jeeps were built, 56 percent by Ford, which received a production license from Willys. Nearly onethird of all jeeps went to the British or Soviets, while typically 149 were issued to every U.S. Army infantry regiment. Jeeps were used in every theater of war for reconnaissance, casualty evacuation, resupply, and all manner of support roles. The four-wheel-drive feature combined with the engine’s torque enabled the jeep to traverse seemingly unpassable terrain, whether steep hills, rutted ravines, or muddy quagmires.

Airborne units especially appreciated jeeps, as the quarter-ton trucks fit in gliders and provided both reconnaissance and much-needed transport behind enemy lines. In 1944 infantry glider regiments had twenty-four jeeps, and parachute regiments had seventeen. Armament usually consisted of a pedestal-mounted .30 or .50 caliber machine gun.

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower considered the jeep one of the most significant WW2 weapons of World War II Gen. George C. Marshall called it America’s greatest contribution to modern warfare.


Polish soldiers with the PCA , 1951.

The PPSh-41, or Shpagin Machine Pistol, was the Soviet Union’s sub-machine gun of choice for World War II and over the many years that followed it. Made mostly of stamped sheet metal and wood, Russian factories were at times producing up to 3,000 of these weapons each – every single day.

Cheaper and faster to make than the Soviet Union’s previous sub-machine gun, the PPD-40, the PPSh-41 was also more accurate. And with whole companies being equipped with this beast that could fire up to 1000 rounds per minute from drum magazines that held 71 standard Russian pistol rounds, Russian infantry firepower was on the rise.

Description [ edit | edit source ]

Gleaves-class destroyers were virtually identical in appearance to the Benson-class destroyers (DD-421), distinguishable only by the shape of their stacks— the Gleaves class had round stacks, and the Benson class had flat-sided stacks. Thus, the two classes were often collectively referred to as the BENSON/GLEAVES class.

Initially they were known as the Livermore- class destroyers because the design was standardized with USS Livermore (DD-429), after a requested design change — increasing temperature from 700 °F to 825 °F for follow-on ships from Gibbs & Cox. Α]

"Gleaves emerged as the class leader for all the Gibbs & Cox-designed ships, which also included all sixteen FY 1939 and 1940 ships (DDs 429–444), as Bethlehem’s follow-on bid to build more [Benson- class] ships with its own machinery was rejected." Α]

An article at the National Destroyer Veterans Association site notes:

"Some references identify the BENSON-GLEAVES class as the BENSON-LIVERMORE class. This was a designation for the FY 38-destroyer procurement coined by popular writers in compiling a number of fleet handbooks, for example James C. Fahey’s The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, volumes 1–4, 1939–45. Some handbooks further split the class, adding the Bristol (DD-453) as yet another division. According to tradition, however, a class is identified by the lead ship hence BENSON-GLEAVES is the proper designation for this group of destroyers." ΐ]

Twenty one were in commission when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Eleven were lost to enemy action during World War II, including Gwin, Meredith, Monssen, Ingraham, Bristol, Emmons, Aaron Ward, Beatty, Glennon, Corry, and Maddox.

Most were decommissioned just following World War II. Eleven remained in commission into the 1950s, the last withdrawn from service in 1956. Α] Hobson was sunk in a collision with the aircraft carrier Wasp in 1952. In 1954 Ellyson and Macomb were transferred to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force where they served as the JDS Asakaze and JDS Hatakaze (DD-182).

Who to blame?

Claims that Mountbatten did not have authority have been discounted © Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff - the heads of the Navy, Army and Air Force, who met daily to discuss strategy and advise Churchill - were responsible for this disastrous misjudgement. But, because no written record exists of the Chiefs of Staff approving the raid in its final form, it has sometimes been suggested that it was really Mountbatten who remounted it without authorisation. This is almost certainly nonsense.

The Chiefs of Staff disliked Mountbatten, regarding him as an upstart foisted on them by Churchill, so any unauthorised action on his part would have given them the ammunition to recommend his removal. Since Mountbatten was not removed, and the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir Alan Brooke, in his frank and detailed diary, makes no mention of his having exceeded his authority, it seems unlikely that Mountbatten can be accused of mounting the raid without authority.

General Brooke was in the Middle East from 1 August 1942, returning on the 24th, after the event. This was unfortunate, for, as the most forceful and intelligent of the Chiefs of Staff, had he been in Britain in the days preceding the raid, he might have persuaded Churchill to call it off.

The disaster did point up the need for much heavier firepower in future raids.

Much has been said since about the fact that the Dieppe raid was a necessary precursor to the great amphibious operations that were to follow, in terms of the lessons learned and experience gained. Mountbatten pursued that line all his life. But as Chief of Combined Operations, he did bear some of the responsibility for mounting the operation, so one can only comment, 'he would say that, wouldn't he?'

The disaster did point up the need for much heavier firepower in future raids. It was recognised that this should include aerial bombardment, special arrangements to be made for land armour, and intimate fire support right up to the moment when troops crossed the waterline (the most dangerous place on the beach) and closed with their objectives.

However, it did not need a debacle like Dieppe to learn these lessons. As judged by General Sir Leslie Hollis - secretary to the Chiefs of Staff Committee and deputy head of the Military Wing of the War Cabinet with direct access to Churchill - the operation was a complete failure, and the many lives that were sacrificed in attempting it were lost with no tangible result.

The Tale of the Tommy Gun

The Iconic Thompson submachine gun and how it got so famous.

Bootlegging gangsters of the 1920s and 30s firing a barrage of bullets at the G-men in pursuit&mdashthat's the mental picture you might have of the Tommy gun. But while the Thompson submachine gun was designed for the trenches of World War I and gained notoriety as a gangster's weapon, it was the battlefields of World War II that saw it win its place in history alongside the other best-known firearms of all time, with as many as two million made.

General Thompson and His Gun

Brigadier General John Taliaferro Thompson, the force behind the Thompson gun, graduated from West Point in 1882. By the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Thompson had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was the chief ordnance officer for the campaign in Cuba. After the war he became chief of the Ordnance Department's Small Arms Division, where he was instrumental in selecting the .45 ACP cartridge&mdashthe same round his submachine gun would later fire. (The tests involved shooting human cadavers and live cattle to discover which ammunition had the best stopping power. It was a different time.) He also oversaw the development of the Army's new Springfield M1903 rifle and the adoption of the iconic Colt 1911 pistol.

When Thompson retired in November 1914, he took a job as chief design engineer at the Remington Arms Company. WWI had broken out, and Thompson started trying to think of ways to break the horrible, lethal deadlock on the Western Front. He believed mobile firepower was the key and that U.S. troops needed a "trench broom," so in 1916 he started working on automatic weapons.

His company, the Auto-Ordnance Corporation, had its first prototypes ready in 1918. With the help of Theodore Eickhoff and Oscar Payne, Auto-Ordnance continued development of Thompson's idea for a small machine gun "that will fire 50 to 100 rounds, so light that [a soldier] can drag it with him as he crawls on his belly from trench to trench, and wipe out a whole company single-handed."

Faulty Science

The Thompson design was based on a scientific principle theorized by Commander John Blish, a former U.S. Navy officer. Blish noticed that when fired with a light load, some of the Navy's breech loading heavy gun had their breech block come unscrewed, while larger loads that produced more pressure held a tighter seal. He attributed this to the different metals used in the breech and breech block. He believed that under great pressure, two different metals could adhere together better than two pieces of the same metal. He called it the Blish Principle, around which he designed a breech block which could be used in small arms. He patented his idea in 1915 and Thompson bought the rights to use the idea in his gun. The Thompson used a small bronze H-shaped block which fitted into the gun's steel bolt. According to the Blish Principle, this would slow the bolt's recoil.

There was just one problem: Scientifically, the Blish Principle of metal adhesion does not exist. In reality, the effect Blish was seeing was that his lock merely added mass to the gun's bolt, which, in a blowback gun, simply slows the travel of the bolt. People figured this out during World War II, and British troops using Thompsons frequently removed the Blish lock. Later, when the Thompson was simplified to create the M1, the Blish lock was also abandoned.

With the Blish lock simply adding mass, the Thompson functioned as a simple blowback like many other contemporary submachine guns including the STEN, MP40, and Soviet PPSh-41. When the trigger was pulled, the bolt was released, slamming into the breech. That ignited the round in the chamber and fired the gun. The pressure from the fired round would then send the Thompson's bolt recoiling to the rear, extracting and ejecting the spent case before the process repeated itself.

From the Western Front to the Silver Screen

Thompson himself was recalled to service when the U.S. entered the First World War in 1917, he was promoted to Brigadier General and served as the director of arsenals throughout the war. The early Thompson prototypes came too late to fight the war they'd been designed for, but they had suitably aggressive names Persuader and Annihilator. One early model capable of firing up to 1,500 rounds per minute&mdashan utterly uncontrollable rate of fire. In 1919, the Thompson began to take on its famous classic shape, and by 1921, Auto-Ordnance had a refined its submachine gun to the point it was ready to go to market.

With the great war over, Thompson took his gun to the civilian market, selling it as an "anti-bandit gun." Thompson travelled tirelessly to promote and publicize his gun and its capabilities. In 1921, he embarked on a sales tour of Europe. The British came away impressed by the submachine gun, praising it for being handy and compact. But post-war budget constraints prevented any purchases. In 1927, Thompson tried again, demonstrating an improved model to the French army, who was unimpressed. The Thompson did find some customers with the U.S. Postal Service ordering 200 to protect the mail from violent thieves.

Of course, that's not the end of the story. The Thompson's high rate of fire and large magazine capacity saw it catapulted to infamy as the weapon of choice for lawmen and gangsters during the 1920s and 30s. Thompsons quickly entered the vernacular of popular culture as Tommy Guns or Chicago Typewriters. Two were used during the infamous St. Valentine's Day massacre when 70 rounds (a full 20-round box magazine and a 50-round drum magazine) were emptied into seven members of the Moran Gang in a matter of seconds. The likes of John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, the Barker gang, and Pretty Boy Floyd all used Tommy Guns. And while the Thompson was also found in the hands of the law, it has become forever associated with Depression-era gangsters. (Although some police departments had privately bought Thompsons it was not until 1935, that the FBI finally received 115 Thompsons in custom carrying cases. Ironically by then the majority of gang members and gangsters the FBI had been tasked with stopping had already been either killed or captured.)

The movies did their part in this myth-making. During the burgeoning years of Hollywood, the Tommy Gun became extremely popular on the silver screen, with popular gangster films featuring charismatic outlaws wielding the Thompson. By 1935, however, a set of guidelines called the Motion Picture Production Code had been introduced. In an effort to deglamourise outlaws, the code dictated that gangster films should be filmed from the G-Men's perspective. Gangsters could no longer be seen with automatic weapons and the Tommy Gun became the on-screen weapon of the FBI agent. This altered the tone of gangster films with the Tommy guns iconic status helping to glamorise the G-men rather than the gangsters. The Thompson has since appeared in more than a thousand films and TV shows.

Back to Europe

Despite the notoriety, business wasn't good. The Thompson had the dubious honor of being one of the first weapons subject to the 1934 National Firearms Act, which prohibited the use of automatic and concealable weapons by civilians in the U.S. Without large scale military contracts, Thompson's company struggled. Only small batches of his submachine guns were purchased by the US Marine Corps for use overseas. And so, despite decent civilian sales, Auto-Ordnance was on the brink of liquidation by 1929. The company was in a massive $2,200,000 hole of debt.

And then, World War II broke out.

In 1939, the full outbreak of war in Europe, Time magazine described the Thompson as "The deadliest weapon, pound for pound, ever devised by man." General Thompson's gun was about to face its greatest challenge. After the Fall of France in June 1940, Britain needed every weapon the could get and placed an open order for Thompson submachine guns. By April 1942, 100,000 Thompsons had arrived in Britain. They became a favorite of the newly formed elite Commando units who used them in raids on occupied Europe. The US military formally adopted the Thompson in September 1938, but did not order any guns until the summer of 1939. But by February 1942, half a million Thompsons had been made.

M1 Carbine Wartime Service

The M1 Carbine had a removable 15-round magazine.

World War II

The M1 Carbine fell into a category all its own during World War II. Its .30 carbine caliber round is twice as powerful as the .45ACP caliber that was used in the Thompson and M3 “Grease Gun” submachine guns. It offers better range, accuracy, and penetration to those small arms, and yet it weighs half that of the Thompson. However, compared to the German StG44 – the world’s first true “assault rifle” – the M1 Carbine is vastly underpowered. In this regard, firearms experts argue that it falls between a submachine gun and an assault rifle. It had an advantage over the larger M1 Garand in that it had a removable 15-round magazine. This feature was later adopted in the M14, a firearm that does resemble a larger M1 Carbine.

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$9.95/mo., no additional fees sumthin’ to think about if you spend more than a couple hundred bucks on this stuff!

European Theater of Operations

The M1 saw its initial use in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during World War II. Despite the advantages in weight and accuracy, it wasn’t universally liked or respected. In the Pacific, it was well-liked by those who operated in heavy jungle terrain, but those who used it in frequent fighting in both Europe and the Pacific found it to have insufficient penetration and stopping power. The carbine reportedly didn’t do well against German or even Japanese helmets for example.

Korean War

During the Korean War, the M1 Carbine was generally disliked by the United States Marine Corps. There were reports that the carbine bullets failed to penetrate the heavy padded winter clothing worn by the North Korean and Chinese soldiers. Some Marine units issued orders that carbine users should always aim for the head as a result!

Vietnam War

The M1 and M2 Carbines (see below) remained in use throughout the Vietnam War and were used by every branch of the U.S. military.

Here you can see the M1 Carbine in use during the Korean War.

Brittish Military Use

The M1 Carbine was used by the British SAS during World War II. Later it saw use with the British military during the Malayan Emergency. The Israeli Palmach used it during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Also, the military forces of both South Korea and South Vietnam used it—while Viet Cong forces also used large numbers of captured M1 Carbines.


The drawing for Measure 32 Design 3D for the Benson class as dated March 18, 1944. The vertical colors were specified to be dull black (BK), ocean gray (5-O) and light gray (5-L) and the horizontal colors were ocean gray (5-O) and deck blue (20-B). Haze gray (5-H) could have been used in place of light gray to be Measure 31. This drawing was used for both the Benson (DD-421) and Gleaves (DD-423) subclasses with no apparent regard for how closely the two profiles matched the full-size ship.

A Design 3D drawing was attached to the July 15, 1943, memo to PacFleet for the DD-380 Gridley class of destroyers. Design 3D was also drawn for every other class of destroyers and destroyer escorts and for most other classes of major warships including the Independence class light carriers, the Casablanca class escort carriers, Omaha class light cruisers and Cleveland class light cruisers. The battleship USS Colorado (BB-45) also used Design 3D beginning in October 1943. A handful of ships of the Livermore class of destroyers and some destroyer escorts used a mirrored version in which the port pattern appeared on the starboard and the starboard pattern was painted on the port side. I have identified this as 3D rev (reversed) even though there seem to be no USN drawings that would depict this.

Watch the video: A visit to the USS Thompson (June 2022).