GHOST SHIPS AND A DATE WITH FATE FOR ONE IN THREE IN THE BRITISH 18TH DIVISION
Menu cover, SS America gala
dinner, Le Havre/New York, 10 September 1964.
It was her last trans-Atlantic crossing. (authors collection)
Menu, Gala dinner, First Class, SS America, 10 September 1964
The final dinner on the last night flying the American flag (author's collection)
Ready for Takeoff
USS Yorktown, October 1941, well before her fame in the Pacific, as she sought combat with Axis raiders in the Atlantic months before the U.S. entered the war. As part of TF 14, in October 1941 Yorktown escorted Convoy WS12X from the MOMP (Mid-Ocean Meeting Point) to Halifax. USS Ranger took over after departing Halifax. After 17,000 miles and months at sea, the ill-equipped 18th Division and the U.S. Navy arrived in Singapore in its last, dying days.
Wearing Neutral Colors
in San Francisco 1941. Before conversion to USS
the 24,289 ton liner had a perilous existence taking refugees from various European
ports to freedom in the United States. The Stars and Stripes painted on the hull
and deck structures warned U-boats and the Luftwaffe of America's neutrality
Hull Down on the Horizon
USS Mount Vernon
immediately after conversion into a troopship in June 1941.
As the United States, in support of her ally Great Britain, maintained a rather flexible neutrality in the month's before war, Mount Vernon and other U.S. transports carried 20,000 British troops to Singapore in its last days. It remains one of the war's least known feats.
Looking for Trouble
USS Ranger escorting the convoy in the Atlantic. Two of the six transports are in column astern; among them Washington, Wakefield or West Point. Unlike most wartime convoys, TF 14 cruised at a fast 21 knots. This is the only known photo of the historic cruise from Halifax to Singapore.
Abandon Ship Drills
Mount Vernon conducting underway abandon ship drills
using one of the
motor whale-boats. The photo dates from an unknown period after the ship's
brush with destiny in Singapore. After Singapore, Mount Vernon made 18 more war cruises to Europe, the Mediterranean, Egypt and the South Pacific, all without escort. She logged 363,000 nautical miles, carrying 315,000 troops, casualties, prisoners and refugees. None of the five transports in the story ever fired a shot or lost a man during the war.