Memorial Day reading: The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

For Memorial Day, let me recommend The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, a book about the Battle off Samar, in which puny destroyer-escorts and destroyers charged heavy Japanese cruisers and battleships in an attempt to prevent destruction by surface fire of American escort carriers (cargo ships with a flight deck, essentially).

The situation was the opposite of the typical American military engagement, in which we enjoy an overwhelming advantage in numbers and equipment. Most of the American fleet had steamed far away, distracted by a Japanese decoy force.

The book is also timely because the events are the opposite of what happened in Uvalde, Texas. There, the heavily armed, full armored, and numerous police were so intimidated by a single teenager that they took no action. Off Samar, however, captains of absurdly small vessels steamed forward into what they expected to be near-certain death in order to protect the escort carriers and their crews.

Here’s the Samuel B. Roberts, at 1350 tons:

She was sunk by the Kongō, 36,600 tons.

8 thoughts on “Memorial Day reading: The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

  1. It’s in the face of overwhelming odds that true character shines out. It’s no surprise why Texas was builf on the myth of the Alamo, the Greeks celebrated the 300 at Thermopylae, or the French Foreign Legion cherishes the memory of the Battle of Camerone.

    • @philg: Yesterday the Prime Minister of Canada announced his plans to continue the forced buy-back of semiautomatic rifles and freeze all handgun ownership in Canada while restricting magazine capacity to five rounds as well:

      “What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” Trudeau said at a press conference.

      “We recognize that the vast majority of gun owners use them safely and in accordance with the law, but other than using firearms for sport shooting and hunting, there is no reason anyone in Canada should need guns in their everyday lives.”

      This is because, as the federal, state and local authorities in Uvalde demonstrated while they decided between Boston Cream and Jelly, the police will protect you.

      After they draw the chalk outlines around your body, they will make sure to protect it.

  2. Now that I am a father with children, I can’t imagine having spent 20 years raising my son and simply allow him to be sent of to fight a war. Maybe times were different back then, but there is no way in hell I would let me children fight for a war that a bunch of politicians simply thought up as “the right thing to do”.

    • I guess that the fate of over-engineered Bismark were a good lesson for you. But Samuel B Roberts is the opposite of the Bismark, corvette-sized ship that took out several battle cruisers.

  3. Try “Shattered Sword – The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway”. It’s about Japan’s stunning loss of it’s naval aviation advantage. The 80th anniversary of the battle is this week. My 99-year-old uncle is a guest of DoD at the ceremonies in Hawaii and at Midway Island, 1500 miles beyond Hawaii. . He was an 18 yo boilerman in the Yorktown (CV-5), which sunk after several dive bomb attacks and a final torpedo from a submarine. His older brother was also in the crew (before the Navy stopped assigning brothers to the same ship). Both survived and went on to other ships. The Navy could only locate two vets able to make the trip; they are going fast.

    • Wasn’t Midway was made possible due to Pearl Harbor Navy code-breakers efforts that were based on earlier success of breaking Japanese diplomatic codes by young NSA?

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