Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal

By James D. Hornfischer

The conflict of Guadalcanal has lengthy been heralded as a Marine victory. Now, along with his strong portrait of the Navy’s sacrifice, James D. Hornfischer tells for the 1st time the complete tale of the lads who fought in destroyers, cruisers, and battleships within the slim, lethal waters of “Ironbottom Sound.” right here, in beautiful cinematic aspect, are the seven significant naval activities that all started in August 1942, a time while the conflict appeared unwinnable and the USA fought on a shoestring, with the end result continuously doubtful. operating from new interviews with survivors, unpublished eyewitness bills, and newly to be had files, Hornfischer paints a vibrant photo of the officials and enlisted males who antagonistic the japanese in America’s hour of desire. the 1st significant paintings in this topic in nearly twenty years, Neptune’s Inferno does what all nice conflict narratives do: It tells the gripping human tales at the back of the momentous occasions and demanding judgements that altered the process heritage and formed such a lot of lives.

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The 6th salvo hit Astoria’s turret one, forward-most at the forecastle. It absorbed 3 projectiles, together with to the barbette lower than the gun apartment, and one immediately during the eight-inch-thick category B armor at the faceplate, killing nearly everyone inside of. The hits got here quickly and livid for the following couple of mins, slowly disabling the ship’s fire-control equipment. while turret jammed in teach, Captain Greenman came across he might purely direct his weapons by means of turning the ship’s rudder. As he ordered the helm round to permit the wedged battery to check bearings with the director, the Astoria’s 12th and ultimate salvo was once fired, particularly futilely, by way of neighborhood keep an eye on. The Astoria’s engineers struggled to coax complete conflict velocity out of the besieged send. the manager water smooth, Milton Kimbro Smith, had simply lit off the 2 standby boilers within the quantity 3 hearth room. He was once nonetheless trying to deliver them on-line whilst an explosion rocked the compartment. Shrapnel rained down in the course of the gauges of a keep an eye on panel. Smoke washed over him, funneled down throughout the air flow blowers. on the major generator board within the ahead engine room, leader electrician’s mate Gilbert G. Dietz heard scuttlebutt that the topside decks have been awash with flames. The compartment without delay above him used to be trembling from repeated affects. The blowers have been scuffling with a wasting conflict to convey breathable air less than. Sparks showered round him, and circuit breakers jumped out. The engineering areas, totally depending on pressured air flow, have been choked from above. The Astoria had reached fifteen knots while her strength plant started to fail. males with out mask gasped and fell to the deck grating, suffering. Smith lower the availability of gasoline oil to the burners and sounded the emergency alarm. group within the quantity fireplace room succumbed to waves of smoke. Shrapnel rained in a hail down the blower trunk. the warmth pressured the staff within the after engine room to desert station. whilst a shell penetrated a kerosene tank en path to exploding within the after mess corridor, the flamable liquid leaked everywhere in the good deck. It stuck hearth and flowed via a gap typically deck, spreading less than. a hearth room, an engine room, extra hearth rooms, and one other engine room—they died in that order. quickly the Astoria used to be coasting to a tortured cease. Matthew J. Bouterse, the Astoria’s junior chaplain, defined a din of “steel piercing metal in a bath of fireplace and lightning bolts and the groans of a superb send in her demise throes. … The metal bulkheads have been alive with that lightning as they bled streaks of fireplace. ” Smoke used to be far and wide, and it overcame him. “I turned acutely aware I couldn’t carry my breath any longer,” Bouterse recalled. by way of 2:08 a. m. Greenman’s send was once right down to seven knots. He may well see the Vincennes within the lead, brightly ablaze amidships, simply as undesirable off as his send was once. at the port bow, swinging correct, seemed the Quincy. A wholesale mass of fireside, Captain Samuel N. Moore’s send used to be nonetheless firing intermittently. Greenman may possibly see that because the Astoria drew sooner than the Quincy, he was once in danger not just of stepping into her line of fireside, yet of a collision, too.

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