Saturday, April 4, 2015

UK Navy Museum exhibition challenges 'Myth and Memory of Gallipoli'

UK Navy Museum exhibition challenges 'Myth and Memory of Gallipoli':




A new exhibition, described as 'challenging the historical perceptions' of the Gallipoli campaign, has opened in the UK at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth.
April 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Allied landings in Turkey and the start of an eight-month campaign in 1915 which ended in withdrawal at the close of the year.
The Royal Naval Museum says 'never-before-seen exhibits' and witness accounts are used to 're-tell the misunderstood story of Gallipoli, which has been distorted by national myth.'
Naval historian Nick Hewitt, Strategic Development Executive at the museum, says: “The exhibition is designed to put the Royal Navy back at the heart of the Gallipoli story. 
"The importance of the Navy’s contribution from Royal Marines, the submarine service, the Royal Naval Air Service and the surface fleet, is too often overlooked by history. We plan to set the record straight and tell the story through the use of the magnificent collections from across the National Museum of the Royal Navy.”
The attack was originally intended as a purely naval operation, aimed at knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war and opening a supply route to Russia.
After British and French warships failed to force the Dardanelles Strait in March 1915, troops from the UK and France, supported by Australians and New Zealanders, fought their way ashore.
The aim was to secure the rugged Gallipoli peninsula overlooking the narrow channel linking the Mediterranean to the Sea of Marmara, Constantinople (now Istanbul), and the Black Sea.
Lancashire Fusiliers waiting to disembark at Cape Helles, May 1915 © IWM (Q 13219)
The Royal Naval Museum says its 'Gallipoli: Myth and Memory' exhibition will show that Britain's navy was instrumental in supporting operations on land, and highlight how the campaign was supplied and eventually evacuated by all branches of the service. 
The evacuation is widely considered the best-executed chapter of the campaign: the last Allied troops departed by January 9th 1916, with few casualties.
Historical perceptions challenged by 'Myth and Memory' include the argument that Gallipoli was the missed opportunity to end the First World War.
The Royal Naval Museum comments: "Many modern historians now agree that defeating Turkey wouldn’t have ended the war and may have kept Russia involved for longer. 
And it continues: "Often thought of as a British defeat fought by Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) soldiers, Gallipoli is understood by many as a failure of British leadership. In reality, Gallipoli was an Allied operation approved by Allied politicians; planned and executed by British, French and Anzac commanders working in coalition. "
"Gallipoli: Myth and Memory' is the second in the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s series of exhibitions about The Great War at Sea 1914-1918. It runs until January 31st 2016. More details can be found here.
On August 6th 2015, the surviving British warship of the Gallipoli campaign, HMS M.33 will open to the public at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as part of the Centenary commemorations.
Information supplied by the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth
Images courtesy of the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Imperial War Museum (Lancashire Fusiliers) © IWM Q 13219
Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News
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Friday, April 3, 2015

Hospital Ship Comfort Commander Relieved of Duties -"Another Political Leadership Death"

Hospital Ship Comfort Commander Relieved of Duties

Capt. Rachel Haltner


Capt. Rachel Haltner 



By MarEx  2015-04-02 12:05:34 
The commanding officer of the hospital ship Comfort was relieved of her duties two days before the ship deploys for a humanitarian operation in South and Central America. Capt. Rachel Haltner was part of the biannual mission Continuing Promise and was going to travel aboard the Comfort to 11 countries over the course of five months.
According to a release from the Military Sealift Command, Haltner was let go on Monday after an investigation of the command climate, citing a loss of confidence in the captain’s capacity to command. The release provided no specifics about the details surrounding her relief.
Haltner assumed command of the ship hospital on Aug. 27, 2013. She has been temporarily reassigned to Portsmouth Naval Medical Center.
This marks the second time in which Rear Adm. Thomas Shannon has had to dismiss a Comfort hospital commander in the past two years.
The Comfort has since been sitting a the Norfolk Naval Station pier. Capt. Christine Sears has been assigned permanent command in Haltner’s place.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Okinawa Invasion in 1945

Naval History Blog » Blog Archive » Operation Iceberg — Okinawa Invasion in 1945:


ednesday, April 1, 2015 1:33 PM
By Joshua L. Wick, Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division
Editor’s Note: The following photos tell just a brief story of the U.S. Navy’s involvement during the Okinawa Invasion and Battle of Okinawa. One of the unique items NHHC has in its archives is an oral history of Cmdr. Frederick J. Becton, commanding officer of destroyer USS Laffey (DD-724), which saw action during the Okinawa operations. To read Cmdr. Becton’s interview click here. All the photos below are courtesy of NHHC’s Photo Archives, the Navy Art Collection and the National Archives.
 D-Day Plus One, Green Beach, Okinawa. Artwork Mitchell Jamieson. Courtesy of the Navy Combat Art Collection. KN 21276 (Color).

D-Day Plus One, Green Beach, Okinawa. Artwork Mitchell Jamieson. Courtesy of the Navy Combat Art Collection. KN 21276 (Color).
On April 1, 1945, under heavy naval gunfire and aircraft support, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps troops began the invasion of Okinawa, the last major amphibious assault of World War II. For Japan, the island was the barrier to a direct invasion of its homeland, while to the Allies, once the island was in their control, it would clear the path for the final invasion of Japan. When the island was finally declared secure on June 21, after 82 days of battle, the campaign ended up being the largest and one of the most costly battles in the Pacific.
Okinawa Operation. USS Idaho (BB 42) bombarding, circa April 1, 1945. Destroyer at left is probably USS Franks (DD 554). Courtesy of Robert O. Baumrucker, 1978. (Photo Courtesy of NHHC Photo Archives, NH 89368)
Okinawa Operation. USS Idaho (BB 42) bombarding, circa April 1, 1945. Destroyer at left is probably USS Franks (DD 554). Courtesy of Robert O. Baumrucker, 1978. (Photo Courtesy of NHHC Photo Archives, NH 89368)
 Okinawa Ryukyus Islands, 1 April 1945. Landing craft heading towards the beach. (Photo Courtesy of the National Archives) 80-G-313055

Okinawa Ryukyus Islands, April 1, 1945. Landing craft heading towards the beach. (Photo Courtesy of the National Archives) 80-G-313055
Vice Adm. Richmond K. Turner, Commanding Task Force 51, confers with Army and Marine Commanders on board his flagship, USS Eldorado (AGC 11), circa late March or early April 1945. They are working with a relief model of the South-Central part of Okinawa, with the main invasion beaches at right. Turner is in the center, with Army Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner on left and Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Oliver P. Smith, , on right. 80-G-48820.
Vice Adm. Richmond K. Turner, Commanding Task Force 51, confers with Army and Marine Commanders on board his flagship, USS Eldorado (AGC 11), circa late March or early April 1945. They are working with a relief model of the South-Central part of Okinawa, with the main invasion beaches at right. Turner is in the center, with Army Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner on left and Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Oliver P. Smith, , on right. 80-G-48820.
The invasion and ultimate seizure of Okinawa was not an easy operation, in fact it was a significantly costly operation. From April – June 1945, U.S. Navy merchant ships went to this island in great numbers with the intent of bringing much needed supplies — bombs, gasoline, and more, to consolidate the operational needs of this outpost on the direct road to Tokyo.
USS Idaho (BB-42). Bombarding Okinawa with her 14"/50 main battery guns, 1 April 1945. Photographed from USS West Virginia (BB-48). (Photo Courtesy of the National Archives) 80-G-K-3829 (Color).
USS Idaho (BB-42). Bombarding Okinawa with her 14″/50 main battery guns, April 1, 1945. Photographed from USS West Virginia (BB-48). (80-G-K-3829 (Color).
 USS Indiana (BB-58). Chaplain serves Holy Communion while holding Mass on the quarterdeck, during the Okinawa operation, 1 April 1945. (Photo Courtesy of the National Archives) 80-G-325209.

USS Indiana (BB-58). Chaplain serves Holy Communion while holding Mass on the quarterdeck, during the Okinawa operation, April 1, 1945. 80-G-325209.
 Okinawa Operation, 1945. Marines climb down a debarkation ladder from a Coast-Guard manned assault transport to board an LCVP to take part in the initial attack on Okinawa, 1 April 1945. Courtesy of Robert O. Baumrucker, 1978. (Photo Courtesy of the NHHC Photo Archives), NH 89369.

Okinawa Operation, 1945. Marines climb down a debarkation ladder from a Coast-Guard manned assault transport to board an LCVP to take part in the initial attack on Okinawa, April 1,1945. Courtesy of Robert O. Baumrucker, 1978. NH 89369.
The operation, under the strategic command of Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, began with 5th Fleet air strikes against Kyushu on March 18, 1945, and initial landings on Okinawa itself on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945. An enormous assemblage of ships participated in the operation, during which 36 of them of destroyer size or smaller were lost, most to the heaviest concentration of kamikaze attacks of the war.
USS West Virginia (BB-48). Crewmen on watch on a 40mm Quad. Gun Mount, while their ship was supporting the Invasion of Okinawa, 1 April 1945. 80-G-K-4707 (Color).
USS West Virginia (BB-48). Crewmen on watch on a 40mm Quad. Gun Mount, while their ship was supporting the Invasion of Okinawa, April 1, 1945. 80-G-K-4707 (Color).
USS Tennessee bombards Okinawa on April 1, 1945, while LVTs head for the beach.
USS Tennessee bombards Okinawa on April 1, 1945, while LVTs head for the beach.
 Okinawa Invasion, April 1945. LVTs and other landing craft head for the Okinawa landing beaches on 1 April 1945. USS LCI(G)-809 is partially visible at left, helping to cover the assault, with another LCI beyond her. Photographed from USS West Virginia (BB-48). 80-G-K-3848 (Color).

Okinawa Invasion, April 1945. LVTs and other landing craft head for the Okinawa landing beaches on 1 April 1945. USS LCI(G)-809 is partially visible at left, helping to cover the assault, with another LCI beyond her. Photographed from USS West Virginia (BB-48). 80-G-K-3848 (Color).
 Okinawa Invasion, 1945. USS LSM 85, off Okinawa, during the landings there circa 1 April 1945. 80-G-K-4922 (Color).

Okinawa Invasion, 1945. USS LSM 85, off Okinawa, during the landings there circa 1 April 1945. 80-G-K-4922 (Color).
USS Hutchins (DD 476) operating off Okinawa during the landings there, circa April 1, 1945. Other destroyers are in the background. 80-G-K-4919 (Color).
USS Hutchins (DD 476) operating off Okinawa during the landings there, circa April 1, 1945. Other destroyers are in the background. 80-G-K-4919 (Color).
Almost 8,000 enemy aircraft were destroyed in the air or on the ground.
 Okinawa Operations, 1945. Six USS Hancock (CV 19) TBM bombers fly near Okinawa, while supporting the invasion forces, 4 April 1945. 80-G-319244.

Okinawa Operations, 1945. Six USS Hancock (CV 19) TBM bombers fly near Okinawa, while supporting the invasion forces, 4 April 1945. 80-G-319244.
Okinawa Landings, April 1945. View of one of the beaches taken by CPhoM E.W. Peck off USS Tulagi (CVE 72), April 3, 1945. Several LSTs and LSMs are on the beach with other shipping offshore. Note LVTs in fields in the foreground. 80-G-339237.
Okinawa Landings, April 1945. View of one of the beaches taken by CPhoM E.W. Peck off USS Tulagi (CVE 72), April 3, 1945. Several LSTs and LSMs are on the beach with other shipping offshore. Note LVTs in fields in the foreground. 80-G-339237.
As April 7 rolled around, the last remnants of the Japanese Navy were met by overwhelming Navy airpower. Japanese battleship Yamato, a cruiser, and four destroyers were sunk in the one-day battle. Once U.S. Joint Forces secured Okinawa, the supply lanes of the East China Sea were blocked, isolating all southern possessions which were still in Japanese hands … the last obstacle in the path to the Japanese Home Islands was finally cleared.
To learn more about the Navy’s participation at Okinawa, click here. You can also read more about the U.S. Army’s involvement by clicking here.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Monuments Men in March 1945: Ronald Balfour and Walker Hancock

U.S. Military crosses the Ludendorff Bridge
U.S. Military crosses the Ludendorff Bridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
March 1945 would be a busy and eventful time for the Monuments Men officers, as the Allied armies advanced into Germany.  This was especially true for two of them: Ronald Balfour and Walker Hancock.
During combat operations in February 1945, Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFA&A) officer, British Maj. Ronald E. Balfour, serving with the First Canadian Army, 21st Army Group, in several German cities, helped to recover and protect archival collections.  At Goch he successfully persuaded Canadian commanders not to destroy the 14th century stone entrance gate as they attempted to enter the town.  While in Goch he also found the abandoned archives from the Collegiate Church of Cleve, which he transferred to a monastery in Spyck for safekeeping.
In a report, filed March 3, 1945, he described his work in the church in Cleve: “Fragments of two large 16th century retables of carved and painted wood have been collected and removed to safety. Parish archives found in a blasted safe and strewn over the floor of the wrecked sacristy have also been removed for safekeeping.”  On that same day he wrote Lt. Col. Geoffrey Webb, in charge of the Monuments Men, that:  It was a splendid week for my job – certainly the best since I came over. On the one hand there is the tragedy of real destruction, much of it completely unnecessary; on the other the comforting feeling of having done something solid myself.
There are no civilian officials to annoy one; the cares of quick decisions are left to oneself. Added to that, is the excitement of being right in the firing line. I met a battalion of my Regiment one day and ate my sandwiches with them at RHQ less than a mile from the front and I was actually sitting in a building when it was hit by a shell.
The plundering is awful. Not only every house is forced open and searched but also every safe and every cupboard. All that I can do is to try and rescue as much as possible and put up signs of warning. We did that in Kalkar but I do not know whether they actually had any effect.
In the meantime I’ve spent several days arranging the staff I’ve collected. What I did with the Goch archives would make the archivists’ hair stand on end, but I saved them from complete destruction.
And my storage place in Cleves [Cleve] wouldn’t be exactly approved of by Washington as it’s an attic in a building occupied by troops and refugees. The house is without proper protection and shells fall ceaselessly in the neighbourhood but it’s the only building in the town that still has a roof, doors and windows. There’s a local monk there (the only civilian who’s allowed to move freely round the town) in whose charge I can leave the things when I go.
If all goes well, I hope to be back at my headquarters next week as I’ve got a good deal of long-term work to do there. I’ve also got most of my luggage in Holland. I’m afraid I’ll never see it again. Yours very sincerely Ronald.He did not live to see his luggage again.  Balfour was killed by a shell burst in Cleve on March 10 while he and some other men were attempting to rescue pieces of a medieval altarpiece to safety. [1]
Meanwhile, during the first ten days of March, Bonn and Cologne were captured and the American forces poured across the Remagen Bridge.  Capt. Walker Hancock, MFA&A officer with the First United States Army and Lt. George Stout, USNR, MFA&A officer with the 12th Army Group visited Cologne on March 12.  A preliminary survey of the monuments of Cologne disclosed that approximately 75 percent were destroyed. With the exception of the Cathedral the destruction included nearly all of the famous churches and museums of the city.  They found that Cathedral had received some bomb damage and that much of its contents, including the stain glass windows, were preserved in a special air-raid shelter under the north tower. They also learned that Cathedral Treasury had been removed to the east of the Rhine.  They learned from Dr. Robert Grosche, Dean of the Cathedral, the location of depositories of works of art from all important Cologne churches. He also learned that at Siegen was the largest depository for Rhineland church property and that a very large part of a mine in that city had been prepared especially for the protection of works of art and that complete inventories were said to be in possession of Count Franz Wolff von Metternich, the provincial Konservator[2], and of his assistant, Herr Weyres and Fraulein Dr. Adenauer; the latter of whom it was said served as a curator for the mine depository at Siegen.  It was believed that at Bonn he could find in the office of Denkmalpfege[3] of the Rhine Province Metternich and his assistant.  Hancock then went to Bonn in mid-March to obtain information about repositories of cultural property.  There he learned that Metternich was in Westphalia, east of the Rhine, still behind the German lines, and Herr Weyres was in Bad Godesbeg. Hancock finally tracked down Weyres, an architect, who, though having no documents with him, said he remembered all the more important repositories and could help him located them on Hancock’s map.[4]
Weyres’ information indicated that the rich art treasures of Rhineland cities had been taken to many places, including a large number of castles and monasteries.  The ancient manuscripts and incunabula of the Archbishop of Cologne were placed in the vaults under the monastery of Steinfeld, the church of which had been restored some years before by Weyres himself.  According to Hancock, “hardly a Wasserburg [moated castle] in the Rhine Province or Westphalia did not now shelter some portion of the cultural or artistic heritage of Europe’s besieged civilization.”[5]  Weyres provided complete information about the works of art that were stored in a tunnel known as a copper mine under Siegen’s old citadel.  There were two entrances leading from opposite sides of the hill. The entrance nearer to the vaulted storage room was in the Huttenweg across from a factory that supplied the heat that regulated the humidity in the mine.[6]
From March 17 to 23, Hancock visited Aachen, surveying the situation and taking photographs.  On March 24 he visited the Abbey of Maria Laach (some 60 miles southeast of Aachen) splendid example of the Romanesque style, which contained a depository in the southwest tower.  On March 28 Hancock visited Racing Ring Hotel at Nürburg, where 300,000 volumes of the University of Bonn were stored. Rooms not used for storage of books were, he found, occupied by displaced persons and thing were “in great disorder.”  The books, none in cases, had suffered slightly from dampness and the weight of the large stacks in which they were piled. The following day, March 29, Hancock visited Schloss Satzvey, owned by Count Metternich. He talked to Countess Metternich. He found two rooms in the main house contained a number of statues from Cologne, also large collection of furniture, some from Cologne. He found two large statues were in the cellar.[7]
In late March Hancock, with a wealth of information about repositories in the First Army area found that its three corps were on the opposite bank of the Rhine within a few hours’ drive of each other.  He pinpointed on a map of each corps area the important repositories within, or likely to come within, the path of each, and set off on March 27 to visit the three headquarters to deliver the maps.  The three G-5s, he would later write, showed themselves eager to do all within their power to ensure the protection of the places, and instructions to the combat units were sent out the same day, and later visits by Hancock to some of the repositories showed that prompt action had indeed taken to protect them.[8] But this would not be the case with other repositories. Hancock wrote, of all the places he later inspected, almost none were without the guard of “Off Limits” warnings. He opined that “if personnel had been available to follow up and continue this course of action throughout the vast army area untold losses might have been avoided.”[9]  He wrote on April 1, that while guards may be posted during the combat phase and the period immediately following, it is manifestly impossible to maintain them long in situations such as the present one. Depositories in monasteries or other religious institutions, where member of the clergy were present, he believed, were relatively safe, and guards could be removed from these shortly after battle has past. On the other hand, collections stored in castles were in continuous danger.  Guards should be maintained in the neighborhood wherever possible. Posting “Off Limits” he observed was of questionable value as protection against itinerant looters, though the greater danger, that of military occupation, could at times be avoided by this means.[10]
In the latter part of March Hancock met with numerous museum and university officials who volunteered information about the existence of 109 repositories of cultural property. This, Hancock, would later write, brought to 230 the number known to exist within the area then assigned to the First Army.[11]   The 12th Army Group reported on March 31 that the total number of repositories known or reported to exist in the area of 12th Army Group up to the Rhine, as of March 28 were 757.  Of the 571 in Germany, it was estimated that 380 were subject to risks of damage and deterioration as a result of occupation.  Many of these, the 12th Army Group believed, would probably have been demolished; in many others occupation could doubtless be rightly authorized.  It observed that the need for advice of specialists in such cases remains and the demands on MFA&A personnel will be great. [12]
Hancock reported on April 1 that it was obvious that the MFA&A officer “is confronted with a hopeless task in the vast area now covered by this army.”  Fortunately, he observed, competent civilian personnel were then available.  He recommended that these trained men should be put promptly to work and given all possible responsibility and freedom of action. He reported that steps had been initiated to appoint the architect Willy Weyres Konservator of the Regierungsbezirk Cologne. Weyres, he wrote, directed the restoration of a number of the most important monuments of the Rhineland, notably the Abbey of Steinfeld and the Cathedral of Limburg. This work was done in a masterful manner. He was Count Metternich’s assistant as Konservator of the Rhein provinz and was better acquainted with the monuments of that region than anyone else now available, He recommended that Weyres should be appointed Konservator of the whole Rhine Province as soon as Military Government regulations permitted.[13]
In some respects, the work of the Monuments Men during the month was challenging and, for some, dangerous, but the month ended, without them finding the mine repository at Siegen nor the vast quantity of cultural property looted by the Germans at other repositories.  That would have to wait till April 1945.

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