Preservation, Education, and Commemoration of Naval History
BOOK REVIEW – Many Were Held by the Sea: The Tragic Sinking of HMS Otranto
By R. Neil Scott, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, MD. (2012.)
Reviewed by Alan M. Anderson
During World War I, over two million American servicemen were successfully transported across the Atlantic Ocean to England and France. Of the many troopships traveling eastward, German U-boats torpedoed three. The only other troopship lost, Otranto, sank on 6 October 1918, after another troopship rammed her during a terrific storm in the channel between Ireland and northern Scotland. Over 350 American soldiers lost their lives in the disaster, more than the number of Americans lost on any one of the troopships that were torpedoed. In total, 470 lives were lost when Otranto went down.
On 4 December 1918 President Woodrow Wilson began the voyage to the Paris Peace Conference on board the transport USS George Washington (ID# 3018). The transport was escorted by the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB 38) and ten destroyers. This image (NHHC photo NH 53707) shows George Washington the following week, the morning of her arrival at Brest, France.
On 12 November 1942 three days of fighting began, in what came to be known as the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The battle began with Japanese air attacks on American ships which had just landed reinforcements, including units from the US Army’s Americal Division (learn more here). Over the course of the next three days, the battle would evolve into a monumental engagement between battleships, cruisers, and destroyers in the narrow confines of Iron Bottom Sound.
In this photo, USS President Jackson (AP 37) maneuvers while under Japanese air attack off Guadalcanal on 12 November. In the center background is smoke from an enemy plane that had just crashed into the after superstructure of USS San Francisco (CA 38), which is steaming away in the right center. National Archives image 80-G-32366.