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The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The…

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II… (2004)

by James D. Hornfischer

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A penetrative and well-done portrayal of a David beats Goliath Victory by the U. S Navy during WW2 ( )
  jamespurcell | Oct 10, 2016 |
I listened to this incredible David vs Goliath page-turner on CD and eventually realized that it was (horrors) an abridgement! Hey, now that I think of it, wasn't it Gladwell that wrote of that Biblical David's, actual advantages? The USN had several things going for them as well, including air power and some small but incredibly accurate naval guns. If anyone is interested in WW II books or fearless heroes, you've got to read this one. I'll be re-visiting the unabridged version, very soon. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Aug 7, 2016 |
the Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour. One of the US Navy's finest hours. "This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.”

With these words, Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland addressed the crew of the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts on the morning of October 25, 1944, off the Philippine Island of Samar. On the horizon loomed the mightiest ships of the Japanese navy, a massive fleet that represented... ( )
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1 vote | Tutter | Feb 22, 2015 |
"Our schoolchildren should know about [this] incident, and our enemies should ponder it."

In late October 1944 the US Navy guarded the seas off the Philippines protecting the return of General MacArthur. With the 7th Fleet (Kinkaid) guarding from the south, and the 3rd Fleet (Halsey) guarding the north, those in the middle didn't expect to see much action. But Japan knew it's days were numbered and invented a daring plan to protect their position and resources in the Philippines by attacking from both sides. Kinkaid's troops soundly defeated Nishimura and Shima in the Surigao Strait, but Halsey abandoned the San Bernardino Strait in the north after a minor skirmish and took the bait offered by Ozawa and was drawn away to the north. This let Kurita through and left the small destroyers and carrier escorts of Taffy 3 to bear the full brunt of the largest ships to ever sail the seas.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the men put up a brave front against the monstrous Japanese ships, trying to protect the important small carriers. Between daring torpedo runs by the destroyer escorts (known to the sailors as "tin cans") and relentless attacks by those planes which were able to get airborne (almost all without proper armaments and some without any at all) the Americans put up such a fierce fight that Kurita was unsure of the true strength he faced, even thinking it was the absent Halsey. In the end he suffered serious losses and retreated, but not before sinking 3 destroyers and the only American carrier sunk by enemy surface fire. (The battle also saw the first sinking of an American ship by a feared new Japanese weapon - the kamikaze suicide pilot - when the St. Lo of Taffy 2 was sunk.)

This is an excellent and highly inspirational account of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, or more specifically the Battle off Samar, fought by the men of Taffy 3 Task Unit. While Halsey skillfully and unjustly took credit for the victory, the bravery of the men who fought it generally went unsung. They endured relentless pounding by far bigger ships with bigger bombs and many spent 48 hours floating in the wide ocean waiting for a rescue that came shamefully late. But this is a story of the kind of bravery that won the war in the Pacific - even retreating Japanese soldiers saluted the men in the water as they steamed by. It's the kind of story that makes you appreciate the incredible valor and sacrifices men made during the war.

I've seen a number of comparisons to Flags of Our Fathers, and while this book is every bit as good, I found it a bit more challenging to read due mainly to my unfamiliarity with ships and planes. But once I stopped worrying about trying to understand and remember all the technical details it became a lot more enjoyable. I *highly* recommend this book. ( )
1 vote J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
A very easy book to read and an excellent account of a battle that's always interested me. I was compelled to read the book after watching a Military Channel program that featured the author. This book hit all the spots I wanted it to - both sides although naturally more the US side, the ships and planes covered, the actors very well covered, ther hum,an angle, and (if I may use the word) the romance of the place and time.

As a side note I have a model of "The Gambier Bay" to make to which I've added "The Chikuma"! ( )
1 vote martinhughharvey | May 23, 2014 |
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to those in peril on the sea
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A giant stalked through the darkness.
Destroyermen have this in common with submariners: they experience no greater suspense than while counting the seconds to their torpedoes' time of impact. Jack Bechdel's calculations were seldom wrong. Captain Evans and everyone else in the pilothouse listened to the countdown. They had shot their one spread; the ship carried ten torpedoes and no more. Bob Hagen's good work in the gun director notwithstanding, this was their best and only chance to sink an enemy ship. At 7:24 lookouts on the Kumano reported three torpedo tracks close off the starboard bow. Knifing through the water at more than thirty knots, the ship was traveling too fast to evade. The Kumano could not make the turn. Between squalls and smoke Ellsworth Welch saw a bright flash and the long, dark form of a ship lift out of the water slightly, as if punched from below by an enormous fist. Torpedo explosions sounded different than gun blasts. Five-inch guns stung the eardrums with their sharp, concussive bark, throwing out shock waves that patted the clothes. Torpedo explosions were deeper and heavier-basso reverberations that could be felt in the sternum as readily as heard with the ears. The men of the Johnston felt a deep thrummp - some felt a second one, and then a third. The Johnston whipped through thickets of smoke, emerging long enough for Lieutenant Welch and others on deck to see a tall column of water rising beside the Japanese heavy cruiser, which appeared to be burning furiously astern. One torpedo from the Johnston struck the Kumano in the bow, ripping it clear away. The crippled cruiser fell out of line, limping along at fourteen knots.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553381482, Paperback)

“This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.”

With these words, Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland addressed the crew of the destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts on the morning of October 25, 1944, off the Philippine Island of Samar. On the horizon loomed the mightiest ships of the Japanese navy, a massive fleet that represented the last hope of a staggering empire. All that stood between it and Douglas MacArthur’s vulnerable invasion force were the Roberts and the other small ships of a tiny American flotilla poised to charge into history.

In the tradition of the #1 New York Times bestseller Flags of Our Fathers, James D. Hornfischer paints an unprecedented portrait of the Battle of Samar, a naval engagement unlike any other in U.S. history—and captures with unforgettable intensity the men, the strategies, and the sacrifices that turned certain defeat into a legendary victory.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:59 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Chronicles the October 1944 battle off Samar between a vastly outnumbered fleet of American warships and a flotilla of the Japanese Navy, a struggle that changed the course of World War II in the Pacific.

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