Friday, June 20, 2014

"Attack By Japan Would Be Made Without Previous Declaration of War"--Admiral Frank Upham

"This Day in History"

June 20, 1934

Admiral Frank Upham started his Naval career serving with the Pacific Squadron after graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1893.  Commissioned as an Ensign, Upham spent his time in the Far East, eventually working his way up the ranks to Captain.  He commanded the cruisers USS Columbia and USS Pueblo during World War I and earned a Navy Cross.  In 1933, Upham returned to the Far East as a Fleet Admiral, Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, where he gave his testimony to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) on the Japanese.

Photograph courtesy of United States Navy.

During Upham's report to the CNO on June 20, 1934, he said that "based on analyses of Japanese radio traffic, any attack by Japan would be made without previous declaration of war or international warning."  This ominous prediction came to reality on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the base on Pearl Harbor and officially brought the United States into World War II.  Admiral Upham passed away before this event, but his words and predictions live on in history.

USS Razorback saw action during the end of World War II, but without the United States declaration and involvement in this war, the submarine may never have been built.  The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, where the submarine is based, has a wide historical view on many different wars throughout the history of the United States, but none more awe inspiring than touring an authentic World War II submarine.  Admiral Upham may have tried to war the United States about an impending Japanese threat, but Razorback was able to successfully sail into Japanese waters in 1944 to 1945 and help to defeat this enemy.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

160th Anniversary of Naval Academy Graduation Services

"This Day in History"

June 10, 1884

US Naval Academy Class of 1894

“To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.” –U.S. Naval Academy Mission

The Naval School was founded in 1845 by Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft in Annapolis, Maryland.  In 1850, the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy.  A new curriculum accompanied the name change, which included 4 years of study at the Academy and summers spent training aboard ships.  Six men completed this new curriculum and received the first formal graduation exercises at the Academy on June 10, 1854.

US Naval Academy in 1853 

USS Arkansas (BB-33) was one of the ships used for the Midshipmen Summer Training Cruises from 1935 to 1938.  The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum holds a collection about these cruises.  The collection was donated by James Clifford Wilkins from Lamar, Arkansas, who served aboard the battleship during the 1930's.  These cruises on Arkansas included trips on the United States Eastern Seaboard and European excursions.

USS Arkansas newsletter from 1935.

The curriculum style that was created in 1850 is still the basis of the Naval Academy today.  The format does include far more advanced and sophisticated curriculum today.  Two other changes have taken place for graduates in the Academy since 1854.  In 1884, Congress authorized commissioning of Naval Academy graduates as Ensigns, and in 1933, Congress authorized awarding a Bachelor of Science degree to graduates of the Academy.

The school that began with 10 aces and 50 students has grown to 338 acres and a student body size of 4,000.

Author: Allison Hiblong

Friday, June 06, 2014

70th Anniversary of the Largest Amphibious Landing in History

"This Day In History"

June 6, 1944

In the military, the term D-Day is the day that a combat attack or operation is initiated.  The best known D-Day is June 6, 1944, which was the day that the Allied forces invaded Normandy, France.  Many historians look to this day as the turning point of World War II against Nazi Germany.  The invasion of Normandy was a two part operation.  Operation Neptune was the landing operation and Operation Overlord was the invasion of Normandy.

"This operation is not being planned with any alternatives.  This operation is planned as a victory, and that's the way it's going to be.  We're going down there, and we're throwing everything we have into it, and we're going to make it a success."
--General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Operation Neptune had over 6,000 naval vessels that sailed to Normandy, France from Great Britain.  One German officer marveled at the sight of the approaching armada, “It’s impossible …there can’t be that many ships in the world.” USS Arkansas (BB-33) was among the naval vessels that conducted Operation Neptune. 

The preparation for Arkansas’s role in the European invasion began in April of 1944.  On April 18, she set sail for Bangor, Ireland and upon arrival, began training for the shore bombardment role she was to play during the invasion.  On May 19, Arkansas, along with the other battleships in her task force, USS Nevada and USS Texas, were inspected by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and deemed ready for action.

The three ships put to sea for Normandy on June 3, 1944.  In the pre-dawn darkness of June 6th, USS Arkansas took up position and dropped anchor 4,000 yards off Normandy's “Omaha” beach.  She was tasked with supporting the 1st Infantry Division.  At 0530 the surface around battleship Arkansas began erupting with near misses from four 150mm guns located at Longues sur Mer, south and east of Arkansas’s position.  At 0537, Arkansas was bracketed by shellfire from a German battery located at Port-en-Bessin, almost due south of her position.

Crew members of USS Arkansas stand atop one of the battleship's 12 inch gun turrets on June 6, 1944.

At 0552, June 6, 1944, Arkansas’s Captain gave the order to return fire.  For the first time in her career, Arkansas fired her guns in anger.  She, along with British and French warships began firing on the gun battery at Longues sur Mer.  Arkansas destroyed a German radar station and machine gun positions in the area.  She also targeted the battery located at Port-en-Bessin, expending 20 rounds from her main 12 inch batteries and 110 rounds of 5 inch ammunition.  When the battery had been silenced, she shifted her fire to the landing beach, as well as to targets farther inland.  All told, Arkansas would fire some 350, 12 inch shells at German positions during the day of June 6, 1944.