Aboard the Farragut Class Destroyers in World War II, Leo Block

Aboard the Farragut Class Destroyers in World War II, Leo Block

The eight ships of the Farragut class were the first new destroyers built for the US Navy since the end of the First World War production programmes. When they entered service the US Navy was dominated by the four-stack flushdeckers, so the two-stack raised-forecastle ships were a novelty, but they became the prototypes for a series of classes of similar ‘1,500 ton’ destroyers and were thus a key step in the development of the Second World War era navy.

The focus of this book is on everyday life onboard these ships, looking at the sort of men who served, the rank structure, the way the crew was divided up into various specialities, and the practicalities of life onboard – from the apparently simple routine of moving around the ship to the enlisted man’s experience of battle, starting with the attack on Pearl Harbor where all eight destroyers were present. We are presented with all sorts of interesting tit-bits, from the complexities of the five different uniforms issued to pre-war sailors (dress and undress versions of blue and white uniforms and dungarees) to the correct way of going down the internal ladders (with your back to the ladder!). 

One of the most interesting features of this book is that the author actually served on the Farragut class destroyers himself. He is thus one of the people being studied in the book, and on a fairly regular basis we are presented with sections of the ‘author’s experiences’, amongst the other eyewitness accounts. There are many other sections where the author’s own experiences are central to the text (such as his views on the general absence of gambling onboard), but these sections are where he presents his anecdotes. Sadly the author clearly feels that he left his work a little too late, as too many of his requests for material were replied to by surviving children or widows, but he has gathered an interesting selection of accounts of life on these small but powerful warship, giving the reader some idea of what life was like onboard.

1 - The Ship
2 - The Ship’s Company
3 - The Dungaree Navy
4 - The Hawaiian Detachment
5 - Condition II - Underway
6 - December 7, 1941
7 - The South Pacific
8 - The Aleutians
9 - The Central Pacific and the Typhoon of December 1944
10 - The Uniform
11 - Liberty
12 - The Farragut Finishing School
13 - Ship Histories

Author: Leo Block
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 240
Publisher: McFarland
Year: 2009

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