|THIS MONTH IN NAVAL HISTORY
The first major naval campaign of Word War II, took place when the British navy pursued the Graf Sree, a German battlecruiser who was on a mission to attack British merchant vessels. Between September 30 and December 7, 1939 the Graf Spee, under the command of Captain Hans Langsdorff sank nine cargo ships with a total tonnage of 50,089. Not a single crewmen or passenger on any of the sunk vessels was killed.
The British navy correctly deduced that the Graf Sree would next head for the area off of Montevideo to intercept more shipping. A British task force composed of the cruisers Ajax, Achilles and Exeter converged on Graf Spree. On the morning of December 12, 1939 the found the Graf Spee. The Graf Spee opened fire first, damaging the Exeter. All three British troops responded. The British ships responded. In the ensuing battle both the British ships and the Graf Spee were damaged, but the cumulative effect of three British ships damaged the Graf Spee severely. The Graf Spee headed for Montevideo requesting time for repairs. The Uruguayans refused, while the British rushed additional forces toward Montevideo. Captain Langsdorff then decided to scuttle the Graf Spee in Montevideo harbor.
The War between Japan and the United States began at 6:37 in the morning of December 7th. The destroyer Ward, depth charged a Japanese midget submarine outside the entrance to Pearl Harbor. No warning was passed to the commanders of Pearl Harbor. At 7:58 the word went out AIR RAID PEARL Harbor-This is no Drill
When the Japanese attacked Eight battleships, five cruisers, twenty six destroyers and various other auxiliary ships were in port.
The first ship to be hit was the battleship West Virginia. It took a half dozen bomb and torpedo hits. Quick damage control on the part of a couple of junior officers aboard the West Virginia kept it from capsizing and thus it settled upright, saving the majority of its crew.
The battleship Oklahoma capsized after receiving five torpedo hits. 415 officers and men went down with it.
The battleship Nevada was the only battleship to get under way, but it was hit by five bombs. It was beached at Waipo Point.
At 756 an 1,800 pound bomb exploded in the ammunition magazine of the Arizona. It set off a series of explosions that sunk the ship in a matter of minutes, killing 1,103 of its crew of 1,411.
At 8:04 two torpedo struck the battleship California, it sunk slowly to the bottom.
Both the Battleships Tennessee and Maryland were damaged by bombs but did not sink. The target ship Utah was struck by two torpedoes and it capsized. Finally the battleship Pennsylvania which was in drydock was hit by one 550 pound bomb.
The British navy at the direction of Prime Minister Churchill sent two of there leading battleships the Repulse and the Prince of Wales to the Pacific. The ships were supposed to be accompanied by the carrier Indomitable, but she had run aground at Jamaica. Thus the Repulse and Prince of Wales proceeded from Singapore to intercept the advancing Japanese forces without air support. The Japanese were tracking the force and on December 10 Japanese aircraft based in Indo China(Vietnam) attacked the British ships. A total of 85 Japanese aircraft attacked the two battl;eships. In a matter of hours both ships were sunk. The Japanese lost four aircraft, the British two of their most powerful ships. 840 officers and men went down with the ships.
On December 29th 1812 The USS Constitution commanded by Captain William Bainbridge, captures the HMS Java.
December 12, 1862- The USS Cairo is sunk by a Confederate mine on the Yazoo River.
On December 16th, 1941 the USS Swordfish operating the in China Sea sank the Japanese freighter the Atsutusan.
December 4th 1943- The USS Sailfish sinks the Japanese Escort Carrier Chuyo off Honshu Japan
December 16th 1943- The German Submarine U-73 is sunk by the US destroyers Trippe and Woolsey
December 19th 1943- The USS Grayback SS-208 sinks the Japanese destryoer Numakaze between Taiwan and Kyushu
December 11th 1944 USS Reid is sunk of Leyte by Kamikaze
December 15th 1944 USS Hawkbill sinks the Japanese Destroyer Momo