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USS Augusta CL-31 - History

USS Augusta CL-31 - History


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USS Augusta CL-31

Augusta

IV

(CL-31: dp. 9,050; 1. 600'3"; b. 66'1"; dr. 16'4" s. 32.7 k.; cpl. 735; a. 9 8", 9 5", 8 .30-cal. mg., 6 21" tt.; cl. Northampton)

The fourth Augusta (CL-31) was laid down on 2 July 1928 at Newport News, Va., by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co.; launched on 1 February 1930; sponsored by Miss Evelyn McDaniel of Augusta, Ga.; and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va., on 30 January 1931, Capt. James 0. Richardson in command.

Damage to one of her turbines curtailed the ship's original shakedown cruise, but Augusta conducted abbreviated initial training during a cruise to Colon, Panama, and back, before she was assigned duty as flagship for Commander, Scouting Force, Vice Admiral Arthur L. Willard, on 21 May 1931. During the summer of 1931, she operated with the other warships of Scouting Force carrying out tactical exercises off the New England coast. In August 1931, she was reclassified a heavy cruiser, CA-31. In September, Augusta moved south to Chesapeake Bay, where she joined her colleagues in their normal fall gunnery drills. That employment Listed until mid-November when the cruisers disbanded and retired to their respective home yards. Augusta entered the Norfolk Navy Yard at that time.

At the beginning of 1932, she and the other cruisers of the Scouting Force reassembled in Hampton Roads, whence they departed on 8 January on their way to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Augusta conducted training evolutions with the Scouting Force in the vicinity of Guantanamo Bay until 18 February, when the force headed for the Panama Canal on its way to the eastern Pacific to participate in Fleet Problem XIII. She arrived in San Pedro, Calif., on 7 March but returned to sea three days later to execute the fleet problem. During the maneuvers, Augusta and her colleagues in Scouting Force squared off against Battle Force in defense of three simulated "atolls" located at widely separated points on the west coast. The exercises afforded the Fleet training in strategic scouting and an opportunity to practice defending and attacking a convoy.

Though the fleet problem ended on 18 March, Augusta and the rest of Scouting Force did not return to the Atlantic at its conclusion as was normal. In a gesture that presaged Roosevelt's retention of the Fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1940 after Fleet Problem XXI, the Hoover Administration kept the Fleet concentrated on the west coast throughout 1932 in the forlorn hope that it might restrain Japanese aggression in China. In fact, Scouting Force was still on the west coast almost a year later when the time came for Fleet Problem XIV in February 1933, and the Roosevelt Administration, which took office in March, proceeded to keep it there indefinitely. Consequently, Augusta continued to operate in the eastern Pacific until relieved of duty as Scouting Force's flagship late in October 1933. The heavy cruiser sailed for China on 20 October.

Steam via the "Great Circle" route (the Northern Pacific) from Seattle to Shanghai, Augusta moored in the Whangpoo River, at Shanghai, on the morning of 9 November 1933. That afternoon, Admiral Frank B. Upham, Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet (CinCAF), broke his flag on board the newly arrived heavy cruiser, and his old flagship, Houston (CA-30), sailed for the United States, trailing a long homeward-bound pennant in her wake.

Soon after she broke Admiral Upham's flag and Houston sailed for home, Augusta proceeded south from Shanghai in December 1933, and, over the next few months, operated in the Philippines, inter persing training with her yearly overhaul at Cavite and at spring Augusta returned to China waters, "showing the flag " , and then steamed to Yokohama, Japan, arriving there on 4
June. At 0730 the following morning, Admiral Upham left the ship to attend the state funeral ceremonies for the late Fleet Admiral Heihachiro Togo; Augusta commenced firing 19 one-
minute guns in honor of the Japanese naval hero at 0830. Departing Yokohama with Admiral Upham embarked on 11 June, the heavy cruiser then visited Kobe (12 to 15 June) before she pro-
ceeded to Tsingtao, arriving there on 17 June.

Augusta remained in Chinese waters until 5 October 1934, when the heavy cruiser departed Shanghai for Guam, arriving there on the 10th. Sailing the next day, she proceeded to Austra-
lian waters for the first time, reaching Sydney on the 20th. She remained there a week, while Admiral Upham. visited the capital of Australia, Canberra, on 25 and 26 October. With CinCAF
back on board on the 26th, Augusta cleared Sydney the following day for Melbourne, arriving there on 29 October. She remained in that port, observing the centenary ceremonies for
that Australian port city, until 13 November, w en she sailed for Fremantle and Perth. Winding up her visit to Australia on 20 November, the heavy cruiser sailed for the Dutch East Indies.

Augusta reached Batavia on 25 November and remained there until 3 December, on which date she sailed for the fabled isle of Bali, arriving at the port of Lauban Amok on 5 December. Underway again on the 8th, Augusta touched at Sandakan (14 to 16 December), Zamboanga (17 to 19 December), and Iloilo (20 to 21 December), before reaching Manila on the 22d.

The heavy cruiser remained in the Philippine Islands, receiving her usual yearly overhaul at Cavite and drydocking at Olongapo, in the drydock Dewey, before she reembarked Admiral Upham and sailed for Hong Kong on 15 March 1935. Arriving on the 16th, Augusta remained there until the 25th, while CinCAF was embarked in the yacht Isabel (PY-10) for a trip to Canton (17 to 20 March 1935). The cruiser's draft did not permit her to make the passage up the Pearl River to Canton. She got underway again on the 25th for Amoy and staved there from 26 to 29 March, before she proceeded thence to Shanghai, arriving at that port city on the last day of March.

Augusta remained at Shanghai until 30 April, at which point she sailed for her second visit to Japan, reaching Yokohama on 3 May 1935. The ship remained there for two weeks, Admiral Upham disembarking on the day she arrived (3 May) and travelled by automobile to Tokyo, where he remained until the 9th, when he returned to his flagship. Steaming thence to Kobe, and arriving there on 18 May for a week's sojourn, Augusta sailed for China on 25 May, and reached Nanking, the Chinese capital, on the 29th.

The flagship remained at Nanking until 4 June, at which point she sailed for Shanghai, arriving the following day. "Augie Maru," as her crew had affectionately nicknamed her, lingered at Shanghai until 27 June, when she sailed for North China, reaching Tsingtao on the 29th. She remained at that port city, operating thence on exercises and gunnery practice, for the rest of the summer.

Augusta departed Tsingtao on 30 September for Shanghai, and arrived at her destination on 1 October, where, four days later, Admiral Orin G. Murfin relieved Admiral Upham as CinCAF. On 8 October, with the new CinCAF embarked, Augusta departed Shanghai for points south. Admiral Murfin transferred to Isabel to visit Bangkok (15 to 22 October), while he returned to the heavy cruiser to visit Singapore (24 to 30 October). Subsequently touching at Pontianak and Jesselton, North Borneo, (31 October to 1 November and from 3 to 5 November, respectively), "Augie Maru" visited the southern Philippine ports of Zamboanga (6 to 8 November) and Iloilo (9 to 10 November), before she returned to Manila on 11 November 1935.

While Augusta underwent her annual overhaul at Cavite and Olongapo, Admiral Murfin flew his flag in Isabel from 14 December 1935 to 27 February 1936. Soon thereafter, the heavy cruiser, again having CinCAF on board, sailed for the a succession of Philippine ports and places: Catbalogan, Cebu, Tacloban, Davao, Dumanquilas, Zamboanga Tutu Bay, Jolo, and Tawi Tawi, before the ship returned to Manila on 29 March.

Underway on the last day of March for Chinese waters, Augusta cleared Manila on that day and arrived at Hong Kong on 2 A pril, remaining there until the 11th. During this time, Admiral Murfin embarked in Isabel for the trip up the Pearl River to Canton (6 to 8 April), returning on the latter date to reembark in his flagship to resume his voyage up the China coast. Visiting Amoy on 12 and 13 April, Augusta then paused briefly at Woosung on 16 April before proceeding up the Yangtze, reaching Nanking on the following day. While Augusta dropped back down the Yangtze to the Whangpoo River, and Shanghai, Admiral Murfin continued up the Yangtze to Hankow in Isabel, thence to Ichang by commercial airliner, thence in the river gunboat Panay (PR-5) to Crossing 22, and finally back to Hankow and Shanghai in Isabel, where he rejoined Augusta on 4 May.

Augusta sailed for Japan on 21 May, for her third visit to that country, arriving in at Yokohama on the 25th. The Asiatic Fleet remained at that port until 5 June, on which day she sailed to Kobe, arriving, there the following day. She remained in Japanese waters until 13 June, when she got underway for Tsingtao, arriving on the 16th.

Augusta remained at Tsingtao, operating thence on exercises and training, for two months, before she sailed for another North China port, Chefoo, on 17 Au ust. Arriving later the same day, the ship departed Chefoo on the 21st, and returned to Tsingtao, remaining there into mid-September.

Underway for Chinwangtao, the port at the foot of the fabled Great Wall of China, on 14 September, Augusta reached her destination on the 15th, where Admiral Murfin disembarked to visit the old imperial city of Peiping (Peking). Following his inspection of the Marine Corps legation guard at that city, CinCAF returned to Chinwangtao by train and reembarked in his flagshi on 25 September. Underway from Chinwangtao on the 28th, Augusta visited Chefoo (28 September) before returning to Tsingtao on the following day, 29 September 1936.

Augusta stood out of Tsingtao on the same day she arrived, however, and reached Shanghai on 1 October. At the end of that month, on 30 October, Admiral Murfin was relieved as CinCAF by his Naval Academy classmate, Admiral Harry E. Yarnell.

Shortly thereafter, with her new CinCAF embarked, Augusta stood down the Whangpoo River on 3 November 1936 on her annual southern cruise.

Augusta again visited a succession of ports: Hong Kong (5 to 12 November), Singapore (16 to 23 November), Batavia (25 November to 1 December), Bali (4 to 7 December), Makassar (8 to 12 December), Tawi Tawi and Tutu Bay (14 December), Dumanquilas Bay (15 December), Zamboanga (15 to 16 December), and Cebu (17 December), before she returned to Manila on 19 December. Admiral Yarnell transferred his flag to Isabel on 2 January 1937, when Augusta entered Cavite Navy Yard for repairs and alterations that included the fitting of splinter protection around the machine gun positions at the foretop and atop the mainmast. The CinCAF used Isabel as his flagship through March, rejoining Augusta at Manila on 29 March 1937.

Augusta remained in Philippine waters for the next several days, at Manila (29 March to 2 April) and Malampaya (on 3 and 4 April) before she returned to Manila on the 5th. Touching briefly at Port San Pio Quinto on 7 and 8 April, the Asiatic Fleet flagship sailed for Hong Kong on the 8th, arriving at the British Crown Colony the following day. Shifting his flag to Isabel for the trip to Canton, Admiral Yarnell returned to Augusta on 13 April, and the heavy cruiser sailed for Swatow on the 18th. The ship visited that South China port on the 19th, and Amoy the following day, before the CinCAF shifted his flag again to Isabel for a brief trip to Pagoda Anchorage (21 to 22 April), rejoining the heavy cruiser on the 23d.

Augusta stood up the Whangpoo River on 24 April and arrived at Shanghai that day, mooring just upstream from the city proper. She remained at Shanghai until 5 May, when she sailed for Nanking. The flagship remained at that Yangtze port from 6 to 9 May before she got underway on the latter day for Kiukiang, further up the Yangtze. Shifting his flag to Isabel, Admiral Yarnell then visited Hankow and Ichang in that ship, transferring thence on 22 May to Panay at Ichang for the voyage up the Yangtze through the gorges and rapids that lay above that port. After visiting Chungking, the CinCAF returned to Ich in Guam (PR-3), where he rejoined Isabel for the trip to Han kow and Nanking. Admiral Yarnell eventually rejoined Augusta at Shanghai on 2 June 1937.

Clearing Shanghai on 7 June, Augusta sailed for North China, and reached Chinwangtao on the 9th, where Admiral Yarnell disembarked with members of his staff to journey to Peking by rail, where the admiral would conduct the yearly CinCAF inspection of the legation guard. The admiral rejoined the cruiser at Chinwangtao on 22 June, and the ship sailed soon thereafter for Chefoo (visiting that port on 24 and 25 June) and Tsingtao, arriving there on 26 June for the summer.

Augusta was conducting her usual training from that North China port when events elsewhere in that region took a turn for the worse. Political relations between China and Japan had been strained for some time. The Chinese attitude toward the steady and unrelenting Japanese encroachment into North China in the wake of the 1931 seizure of Manchuria was stiffening. Chiang Kai-shek, China's leader, asserted that China had been pushed too far, and launched feverish efforts to improve his nation's military posture. The Japanese eyed their giant neighbor warily.

On the night of 7 July 1937, in the outskirts of Peking, Japanese and Chinese units exchanged gunfire near the ornate Marco Polo Bridge. The incident quickly escalated into a state of hostilities in North China, with the Japanese taking Peking against little resistance by the end of July. Against this backdrop of ominous developments, Admiral Yarnell considered cancelling a goodwill visit to the Soviet port of Vladivostok, but was ordered to proceed.

Keeping a wary eye on developments in China, Admiral Yarnell sailed for Vladivostok in Augusta on 24 July his flagship accompanied by four destroyers. After passing through the head of typhoon en route, Augusta and her consorts reached that oviet port on the 28th, and remained there until 1 August, the first United States naval vessels to visit that port since the closing of the naval radio station there in 1922. As Yarnell later wrote, "The visit of this force evidently has meant a great deal to these people," as both officers and men were lavishly entertained.

Departing Vladivostok on 1 August, Augusta and the four destroyers sailed for Chinese waters, the latter returning to their base at Chefoo and Augusta returning to Tsingtao, where Admiral Yarnell continued to receive intelligence on the situation in North China and, as events developed, around Shanghai, where increasing Chinese pressure on the comparatively small Japanese Special Naval Landing Force led to a build-up of Japanese naval units in the Whangpoo River leading to that port. The death of a Japanese lieutenant and his driver near a Chinese airfield on 9 August proved to be the spark that set the tinder box alight, as hostilities commenced within days. With considerable American interests in the International Settlement of Shanghai, Admiral Yarnell deemed it best to sail to that port for and make it his base of operations. Accordingly Augusta sai Shanghai on the morning of 13 August 1937.

Her passage slowed by a typhoon which caused the ship to reduce her speed to five knots and which produced rolls of as great as 30 degrees, in addition to wiping away the port 26-foot motor whaleboat and its davits, Augusta reached her destination the following day, and stood up the Whangpoo. En route to her moorings, she passed many Japanese warships, principally light cruisers and destroyers, who duly rendered the prescribed passing honors to Augusta's embarked admiral.

Meanwhile, at Shanghai proper, Chinese Air Force planes, Northrop 2-E light attack bombers, had endeavored to drop bombs on Japanese positions in their portion of the International Settlement. They fell short and caused extensive damage and heavy loss of life in the neutral portion of the settlement. One plane, having retained its bombs, proceeded down the Whangpoo and dropped two bombs near Augusta, the missiles exploding in the water off the flagship's starboard bow. Soon thereafter, painters ascended atop Augusta's three main battery gunhouses and painted large American flags to identify more clearly the ship's nationality, and, thus, her neutral character.

On 18 August, Augusta unmoored and shifted further upstream and moored off the Shanghai Bund, assisted in the evolution of turning 180 degrees in the stream by tugs. She would remain in that mooring, in a prominent position off the famous "Bund" into January 1938, observing the Sino-Japanese hostilities at close range.

Initially, there was the problem of evacuating Americans from the war zone. American merchantmen called at Shanghai to do so, passengers travelling downstream to waiting steamships on the Dollar Line tender guarded by sailors from Augusta's landing. The flagship's marine detachment, meanwhile a ore to aid the 4th Marines in establishing defensive positions to keep hostilities out of the neutral enclaves. On 20 August 1937, while the flagship's. crew gathered amidships on the well deck for the evening movies, a Chinese antiaircraft shell landed amongst the sailors, killing one and wounding several. Ten days later, Chinese planes bombed the American Dollar Line SS President Hoover off the mouth of the Whangpoo, with one death and several wounded. American ships ceased calling at Shanghai as a result, and Admiral Yarnell's attempts to get a division of heavy cruisers to carry out the evacuation met resistance from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

At Shanghai, Augusta's officers and men found themselves with randstand seats at an Asian war. Her moorings proved a splendid vantage point from which Americans could size up the Japanese Navy, and how well its ships and planes operated, an opportunity not lost on Admiral Yarnell, who sent insightful intelli ence reports back to Washington, striving to alert the United States Navy to the character and capabilities of the navy many regarded as the future enemy.

On 12 December 1937, Japanese naval planes sank the gupboat Panay and three Standard Oil tankers north of Nanking, in the Yangtze River. Soon thereafter, the ship's survivors arrived at Shanghai in Panay's sister ship, Oahu (PR-6), which moored alongside Augusta on the 19th. They spent Christmas with Augusta's crew.

On 6 January 1938, Augusta departed Shanghai for the Philippines, for her yearly overhaul period. Admiral Yarnell, however, his presence in China deemed necessary to uphold American prestige in the Orient, remained in Shanghai with a token staff on board Isabel. He ultimately rejoined Augusta when she returned to Shanghai on 9 April 1938, after her yearly overhaul.

Proceeding north along the China coast, Augusta visited Tsingtao (12 to 13 May) and Chefoo (14 May) before she arrived at Chinwangtao on 15 May. There Admiral Yarnell disembarked and entrained for Tientsin and Peking, inspecting the marine detachments in both places before ultimately returning to Chinwantao to reembark in his flagship on 29 May. Proceeding thence via Chefoo Augusta reached Shanghai on 6 June; the inCAF transferred his flag to Isabel on 23 June, and sailed for Nanking and Wuhu, returning to Shanghai and Augusta on 27 June.

Returning to Tsingtao on 3 July 1938, Augusta operated in North China waters, between Tsingtao and Chinwangtao, for the remainder of the summer and through early October. Sailing for Shanghai on 10 October, the cruiser arrived at her destination two days later, and remained there through Christmas. She sailed again for the Philippines on 27 December 1938; once again, Admiral Yarnell remained in Shanghai with his flag in Isabel.

Following her yearly navy yard overhaul, and training in Philippine waters, Augusta visited Siam, French Indo-China, and Singapore en route back to Shanghai, making port at her ultimate destination on 30 April 1939. The heavy cruiser, again wearing Admiral Yarnell's flag, lay at Shanghai until 8 June, when she got underway for Chinwangtao. Arriving there on 10 June, the heavy cruiser subsequently touched at Chefoo (24 to 25 June) and Tsingtao (26 June to 16 July) before she sailed down to Shanghai, arriving on the 18th.

On 25 July 1939, Admiral Thomas C. Hart relieved Admiral Yarnell as CinCAF. The heavy cruiser then sailed for Tsingtao, on 2 August. She remained based at that North China port-she lay moored there on the day war broke out in Europe with the German invasion of Poland-through late September 1939. During this period, the ship twice visited Shanghai (5 to 7 September and 15 to 19 September), and also visited Chinwangtao, Chefoo, and Peitaiho. Late in September, Admiral Hart disembarked at Chinwangtao and inspected the marine detachments at Peking and Tientsin.

Returning to Shanghai on 12 October, Augusta remained there through mid-November; during this time Admiral Hart shifted his flag to Isabel and proceeded up the Yangtze to Nanking. on an inspection trip (3 to 7 November 1939). Sailing for the Philippines on 21 November, the heavy cruiser visited Amoy en route (22 to 23 November 1939), and ultimately reached Manila on 25 November. The ship remained there through early March 1940.

Augusta operated in the Philippines through early April, visiting Jolo and Tawi Tawi. Admiral Hart wore his flag in Isabel during March, for cruises to Cebu, Iligan, Parang, Zamboanga, and Jolo rejoining Augusta at Jolo on 19 March. Transferring his flag back to Isabel at Tawi Tawi two days later, Admiral Hart cruised to Malampaya Sound, ultimately rejoining his flagship on 26 March at Manila. Augusta then sailed for Shanghai while Admiarl Hart, who had again transferred his flag to Isabel on 13 April, visited Swatow and Amoy, ultimately rejoining Augusta and breaking his flag on board the cruiser on 22 April.

Following a month at Shanghai, "Augie Maru" sailed for North China, visiting Chinwanptao (12 June) before beginning her cycle of training operations from Tsingtao soon thereafter. Augusta operated out of Tsingtao into late September. Circumstances requiring Admiral Hart on several occasions to visit Shanghai, he traveled once to Shanghai in Isabel and back in Augusta; to Shanghai in Porpoise (SS-172) and back to Tsingtao in Isabel; and one round trip to Shanghai and back in Marblehead (CL-12). Augusta de parted Tsingtao for the last time on 23 September, arriving on the 25th.

Moving on to Manila, arriving there on 21 October, Augusta am, there into late November, to be relieved by her recently modernized sister ship Houston as Admiral Hart's flagship on 22 November 1940. Augusta sailed for the United States, clearing Manila Bay that same day.

On 24 November 1940, she was ordered to search the waters north of the Hawaiian chain, to investigate reports of the activity of "Orange,, (Japanese) tankers in the vicinity. At this point on her way back from the Asiatic station, the cruiser encountered bad weather-heavy swells and fresh-to-strong cross winds-that rendered searching by her aircraft "impracticable." As she neared the focal point of her search (35 degrees north latitude, 165 degrees west longitude), Augusta darkened ship and set condition III. As she passed between the two designated points on her search, she posted special lookouts from dawn to dark. Although the visibility varied between 8 to 15 miles, An gusta's Capt. John H. Magruder, Jr., estimated that his ship had swept a belt approximately 25 miles wide, maintaining radio silence until well clear of the area searched. "Weather conditions were such that fueling at sea in the area would not have been practicable." Capt. Magruder reported later, alluding to the reason why his ship had been dispatched to those waters, "and submarine operations at periscope depth would have been difficult due to the danger of broaching "

Ultimately reaching Long Beach on 10 December 1940, Augusta entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for a major refit soon thereafter. While Augusta had been serving as the Asiatic Fleet had flagship, alterations of the type accomplished in her sister hips deferred until her return to the United States.

During this overhaul, the ship received significant changes in her antiaircraft battery. Four additional 5-inch guns were mounted atop the aircraft hanger; splinter protection was fitted for the 5-inch guns on the hangar and on the boat deck; interim 3-inch antiaircraft guns were installed (ultimate armament fit called for a one-to-one replacement of these mounts with 1. 1-inch guns); and Mark XIX directors were installed for the 5-inch guns. The placement of directors and rangefinders altered her silhouette, and a pedestal was fitted atop the foremast to receive a CXAM radar antenna when it became available.

Departing Mare Island on 11 April 1941, Augusta, her configuration ltered and wearing a new paint job, sailed for San Pedro, remaining there over 12 and 13 April. She transited the Panama Canal four days later, reporting for duty with the Atlantic Fleet on 17 April. Departing the Canal Zone on the 19th, the heavy cruiser arrived at Newport, R.I., on 23 April. Admiral Ernest J. King, now Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, returned from Washington, D.C., on 2 May and broke his flag in Augusta. The cruiser remained at Newport, serving as the administrative CINCLANT flagship (although Admiral King journeyed to Washington again during this time), through most of May, until she sailed for Bermuda on the 24th of that month. Reaching her destination on the 26th, she remained there only until the 28th, at which time she sailed for Newport once more.

Augusta remained anchored at Narragansett Bay from 30 May to 23 June, when she sailed for the New York Navy Yard. She had been chosen for special duty, the inception of which had come in the developing personal relationship between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Britain's Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. The two leaders had sought a face-to-face meeting for some time, and Harry Hopkins (President Roosevelt's personal representative) had visited Churchill and sounded him out on the proposal as early as February 1941. The President had also discussed the idea with Admiral King earlier that spring. Original intentions had been to hold such a conference in June, but British disasters in Greece and Crete had forced a postponement until later in the summer.

Augusta (continued)

Augusta had been chosen to serve as the President's flagship as early as mid-June, shorly after Admiral King had visited Roosevelt in connection with the drafting of Western Hemisphere Defense Plan No. Four. On 16 June, the New York Navy Yard commandant was informed that Augusta would soon require an availability for the installation of her CXAM radar and 1.1-inch antiaircraft guns, "incident to possible future Presidential use and other urgent work." Details of the availability assignment, however, touched off a "little war" between the Bureau of Ships (BuShips) and CINCLANT. Since BuShips had no word concerning the President's plans, they issued orders to hold Augusta at New York Navy Yard for extended repairs. On 22 June, Admiral King informed BuShips, however, that alterations to the heavy cruiser "for possible use by the President were initiated by the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, after conversations with the President" and that the alteration should be limited to accomplish only "essential" items. Augusta remained in the yard at New York from 23 June to 2 July, after which time she resumed operations along the eastern seaboard, in waters off Hilton Head and Charleston, S.C. (4 to 5 July), Hampton Roads (6 to 7 July) before she returned to Newport on 8 July. She remained there into August.

During that time, details for the meeting between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill were worked out and plans set in motion to bring it to pass. While Churchill was making the Atlantic crossing in the modern battleship HMS Prince of Wales, the President was on his way; he departed Washington, D.C. at 1100 on 3 August, his ultimate destination the Submarine Base at New London, Conn., where he embarked with his party on board the Presidential yacht Potomac (AG-25), which, in company with her escort, Calpyso (AG-26), soon sailed for Appogansett Bay. There the President did some fishing and entertained guests (the Crown Princess of Norway, Martha, among others). Ultimately, at 2223 on 4 August, Potomac anchored in Menemsha Bight, Vineyard Sound Mass., joining Augusta, which had already arrived. Tuscaloosa (CA-37) and five destroyers lay nearby.

At 0530 on 5 August, Potomac came alongside Augusta and moored, the President and his party embarking in the heavy cruiser at 0617. For security purposes, the President's flag, however, remained in Potomac while she, accompanied by Calypso, transited the Cape Cod Canal to New England waters. A Secret Serviceman, approximating the President in size and affecting the Chief Executive's mannerisms when visible from a distance, played a starring role in the drama. Press releases issued daily from Potomac led a who read them to believe that "FDR" was really embarked in his yacht on a pleasure cruise.

Meanwhile, Augusta, accompanied by Tuscaloosa and their screening destroyers, stood out of Vineyard Sound at 0640, at 20 knots, passing the Nantucket Shoals lightship at 1125. Increasing speed slightly during the night, the ships steamed on, darkened. Outside of a brief two-hour period the following day, 6 August, when the formation encountered heavy fog which forced them to slow to 14 knots, the ships maintained a 20-21 knot pace for the rest of the voyage to Newfoundland. Ultimately, on the morning of 7 August 1941, Augusta and her consorts stood into Ship Harbor, Placentia Bay, and anchored to await the arrival of Prime Minister Churchill.

During the forenoon, the Chief Executive indulged in one of his favorite leisure activities, fishing, from Augusta's forecastle. Roosevelt "caught a large and ugly fish which could not be identified by name and which he directed be preserved and delivered to the Smithsonian Institute upon return to Washington." At 1335 the President left the ship in a whaleboat to fish in the nearby waters, taking with him members of his party and his son, Ens. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., USNR, an officer in the destroyer Mayrant (DD-403) on temporary duty as his father's aide. Later, after a somewhat less than successful fishing expedition, the President inspected the waterfront and the base development at Argentia.

On 9 August, Prime Minister Churchill arrived at Argentia in Prince of Wales, the arrival of the battleship viewed by the President and his party; Churchill visited the President at 1100 that day, and lunched with him in his cabin. Admiral King entertained members of the respective staffs at a luncheon in his cabin. The heavy cruiser also embarked Harry Hopkins, who had come across from England on board Prince of Wales. The Prime Minister later dined with the President, and ultimately left Augusta at 2345.

The following day, McDougal (DD-358) came alongside and embarked the President and his party, transporting them to Prince of Wales for divine services, an inspection of the battleship's topsides, and a luncheon. President Roosevelt again entertained the Prime Minister on board Augusta that evening. On 11 and 12 August, Prime Minister Churchill and members of his staff came on board the heavy cruiser for conferences with the President and his aides; from these discussions emerged the famed "Atlantic Charter." On the latter day, the final draft of the "Eight Points" of the charter was completed. With the meeting having been completed, President Roosevelt and his staff assembled on Augusta's quarterdeck at 1450 on 12 August to bid Prime Minister Churchill and his staff farewell. With the ship's guard and band paraded, the parting ended with the playing of "God Save the King." A little over two hours later, Prince of Wales passed close aboard and rendered passing honors, after which the band stuck up "Auld Lang Syne." Soon thereafter, Augusta got underway in company with Tuscaloosa and their screening destroyers, en route to Blue Hill Bay, Maine, to rendezvous with Potomac and Calypso.

The following day, a dense fog prompted the ships to reduce speed, and the President and the members of his staff rested, preparing for the transfer to Potomac. The following morning, 14 August, off Cape Sable, President Roosevelt went on deck to witness the operations of the first aircraft escort vessel (later CVE) Long Island (AVG-1), the prototype of a ship type that the Chief Executive had avidly pushed toward development. Long Island launched three Brewster F2A-2s by the catapult method and six Curtiss SOCs by conventional carrier takeoff. That afternoon on board Augusta, Admiral King hosted a farewell luncheon for the President.

August anchored at Blue Hill Bay at 1228 on 14 August, and shortly thereafter, Potomac moored alongside to commence the transfer of bag age and other gear, ultimately casting off at 1418 for passage to Rockland, Maine.

Augusta returned to Narragansett Bay on 15 August, and remained there for ten days, putting into the New York Navy Yard soon thereafter. She returned to Newport on 29 August. Admiral King retained Augusta as his flagship through the autumn, while she operated between Newport and Bermuda. During this time, she also briefly embarked Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox.

The day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, found Augusta moored at buoy 7, Newport. From that day until the 11th, she operated out of Newport; she remained in port until 11 January 1942. During this time, on 5 January 1942, Rear Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll (one of Augusta's former commanding officers) relieved Admiral King as Commander in Chief, United States Atlantic Fleet.

Augusta stood out of Newport on 12 January, en route to Casco Bay, Maine, via the Cape Cod Canal. She arrived the next day, and after conducting training exercises, returned to Newport on 17 January, Rear Admiral Ingersoll shifted his flag from Augusta to Constellation.

On 19 January, Augusta got underway for Bermuda, arriving two days later and joining Task Group (TG) 2.7. She operated with this unit when it proceeded to Martinique to conduct a "show of force" between 22 February and 4 March, and returned to Shelley Bay, Bermuda, on 5 March.

As part of TG 22.7-consisting of Ranger (CV-4), Savannah (CL-42), Wainwright (DD-419), Lang (DD-399), and Wilson (DD-408)-she stood out on 13 March to patrol the waters of the Caribbean. The destroyers Hambleton (DD-455) and Emmons (D D-457) joined the formation on 15 March, and the following day Augusta was detached and, with Hambleton and Emmons, steamed to New York. While on passage, Augusta sent Hambleton to investigate a dim flashing light abaft her starboard beam during a heavy storm on 18 March. The destroyer rescued six survivors of the stricken Honduran steamer Ciepa, and rejoined Emmons and Augusta after nightfall.

Augusta made landfall at New York on 19 March, and the heavy cruiser underwent repairs and alterations until 7 April, when, along with Wilkes (DD-441) as escort, she sailed for Newport. The next morning, Wilkes was rammed by the steamer Davilla and was forced to proceed on one engine to Boston. Augusta steamed on alone to Casco Bay, arriving on 8 April. On 14 April, in company with destroyers Corry (DD-463) and Aaron Ward (DD-483) as escorts, she conducted experimental firings of turret guns against a drone simulating a torpedo plane approach, and returned to Casco Bay that night.

Two days later, escorted by Macomb (DD-458), she transited the Cape Cod Canal and touched at Newport. Joining Task Force (TF) 36 there, of which Ranger was flagship, the cruiser departed on 22 April for Trinidad. A minor collision between Hambleton and Ellyson (DD-454), and frequent submarine scares, accented the voyage. Oiler Merrimack (AO-37) joined the task force on 28 April and fueled almost all of the ships, with Augusta's scout planes maintaining an air patrol =du ring the dangerous fueling evolution. Ranger launched 68 my P-40 fighters on 10 May, the planes bound for Accra, on Africa a Gold Coast, where all landed safely.

The formation arrived at Trinidad on 21 May, where Augusta fueled before putting to sea with the task force the next day bound for Newport. On 26 May, Augusta and Corry were detached and proceeded together to Hampton Roads, anchoring there on 28 May. Two days later, Rear Admiral Alexander Sharp hoisted his flag on board Augusta and assumed command of TF 22. With Corry and Forrest (DD-461) as escorts, the heavy cruiser sailed on 31 May for Newport, arriving on I June and leaving the next day with Corry for calibration of radio direction finders in waters west of Brenton Reef Lightship. Ranger joined the two ships the same day and all proceeded to Argentia, Newfoundland, arriving there on 5 June. With Ellyson and Corry, she formed an antisubmarine screen off Argentia on 17 and 18 June, and two days later joined TF 22 steaming through heavy fogs to Newport, mooring on 22 June.

Augusta sailed south to New York for overhaul, arriving on 24 June. Com pleting repairs by 29 June, Augusta moved he following day, and on 1 July sortied with TF 22 for the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad, and arrived on 6 July. The formation departed two days later, Ranger completing her second ferry mission with Army aircraft, launching 72 Army planes off the coast of West Africa. Another reinforcement successfully accomplished, the task force reached Trinidad on 30 July.

The heavy cruiser then proceeded to Norfolk and moored there on 5 August for limited availability. On 18 August, she conducted short range battle practice and night spotting exercises in Chesapeake Bay, and training continued until Augusta sortied with Ranger, Corry, Hobson (DD-464) and Fitch (DD-462) on 23 August, arriving at Newport two days later and returning to Norfolk with Corry on the last day of August. The task group also carried out gunnery training, shore bombardment, and antiaircraft defense exercises off the Virginia capes from 7 to 11 September, and further training between 28 September and 1 October in Chesapeake Bay.

On 23 October 1942 Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt came on board Augusta and broke his flag as Commander, TF 34. Major General George S. Patton and Rear Admiral John L. Hall, Jr. also came on board the same day for passage to North Africa. Augusta stood out on 24 October with TF 34, steaming for French Morocco and her participation Operation "Torch."

Arriving off Fedhala, French Morocco, on 7 November, Augusta went into general quarters at 2200. During the predawn hours of 8 November, the initial landings met with stiff opposition. At 0630, Augusta catapulted two Curtiss SOC scouting planes aloft, and at 0710 opened fire with her 8-inch guns at shore batteries. The nearby light cruiser Brooklyn (CL-40) supported Augusta's barrage, dodging near misses from enemy guns. A brief lull at 0730 permitted Augusta to launch her remaining two SOCs, but 10 minutes later the enemy guns opened up again; several near misses fell within 50 to 100 yards of Augusta, the whistle of oncoming shells plainly audible to those on her bridge.

Augusta shortly left at flank speed to intercept an enemy force of two light cruisers and four destroyers north of Casablanca. Closing the range at 0915, Augusta opened fire with her 8-inch battery on one enemy cruiser, barring the Vichy ship's passage and turning it back into Casablanca harbor by 0950. Augusta returned to her station to assist Brooklyn, firing on shore batteries. In the sortie of French ships from Casablanca harbor, the large destroyers Le Brestois and Le Boulonnais
do attack on Augusta and Brooklyn. Augusta sank the latter, and forced the other away condition; she sank later that day. Other Vichy ships attempting to escape were forced back into the harbor by 1122, and firing ceased for a time. Around noon, Augusta turned back the light cruiser Primaguet's attempt to sortie, scoring an 8-inch hit on the French ship's turret 3. Vichy ships tried to sortie at 1305, only to be blocked and forced to retreat by 1350.

Augusta spent the following day, 9 November, patrolling south and southwest of the transport area off Casablanca, and continued that patrol through 10 November. At 1135 on that day, she opened fire with her 8-inch guns on an enemy destroyer, straddling her and forcing her to retreat. Ten minutes later, Augusta was unexpectedly taken under fire by the French battleship Jean Bart, reportedly "gutted by fire" and harmless. Geysers of water from near-misses erupted about Augusta and drenched the cruiser with yellow-dyed spray, but American carrier planes bombed Jean Bart later in the day and silenced her for the remainder of the campaign.

A cease-fire agreement was signed by Allied forces with the French on 11 November, bringing the operation to an end, and opening Morocco to the Allies. Augusta departed on 20 November with TF 34, her part in the operation over. She touched at Bermuda on 26 November enroute to Norfolk, arriving at the latter port four days later. There, Rear Admiral H. K. Hewitt left the ship, and TF 34 was dissolved. Augusta stood out of Norfolk on 9 December for extended overhaul at New York, during which time her antiaircraft battery was significantly improved. That period of yard work completed, Augusta proceeded to Newport, anchoring there on 15 February 1943.

Refresher training took Augusta to Casco Bay two days later. She conducted air operations with her four scouting planes off the coast of Maine, and on 24 March conducted experimental fragmentation test shots, operating with Ranger on 26 to 28 March. She concluded that part of her training with night illumination exercises on 30 March and night battle practice the next day.

Augusta stood out on 2 April with TF 22, the flagship Rangerjoining the formation on 4 April, and arrived at Little Placentia Harbor r, Argentia, on 5 April. From 13 to 18 April, the heavy cruiser operated with Ranger, carried out antiaircraft practice on 22 April, and conducted flight operations with her own planes from 30 April to 1 May.

In company with TG 21.7, Augusta sailed on 6 May, under orders to escort RMS Queen Mary to New York. Augusta rendezvoused with the huge liner on 9 May, and after seeing her safely into the swept channel, moored at New York on 11 May. Her mission accomplished, the heavy cruiser returned to Argentia with her task group, arriving on 17 May, and engaged in further local operations through June.

Augusta closed TF 68 on 20 July and began escorting Convoy AT 54A across the submarine-infested Atlantic to the Clyde. After an uneventful passage, the convoy arrived at Greenock, Scotland, on 26 July, and Augusta continued as escort on the return voyage, relinquishing command as the convoy neared American waters, and proceeding with Hilary P. Jones (DD-428) to Argentia, arriving on 8 August. She left the next day with Hilary P. Jones for Halifax, Nova Scotia, to rejoin TF 22, reported for duty on 10 August, and departed on 11 August for Scapa Flow, in the Orkneys. The British Admiralty assumed operational control of the task force, renaming it TG 112.1, as the ships neared Scotland. Augusta moored at Scapa Flow on 19 August, reporting to the British Home Fleet the same day.

Augusta operated with units of the Home Fleet on 23 August and departed with HMS London for Hvalfjordur, Iceland, arriving the next day. She acted as covering force for training exercises with HMS London and HMS Impulsive off Iceland from 2 to 10 October, and conducted gunnery training off Eyjafjord, Iceland on 19 October.

While returning to Scapa Flow, Augusta fired on a passing German Junkers 88 bomber at 1139 on 27 October, firing 14 rounds from her 5-inch battery until the plane passed out of range. She moored at Scapa Flow on 31 October, proceeding to Greenock two days later, and returned to Scapa Flow on 7 November.

On 22 November she got underway with Ranger and other ships of the task force for Hvalfjordur, arriving two days later. Operational control passed to the United States Navy on 26 November when TF 68 stood out for Boston, Augusta mooring there on 3 December 1943. She remained there, undergoing repairs and alterations through the end of the year.

Repairs completed, Augusta departed Boston on 29 January 1944 and steamed to Casco Bay for post-overhaul training exercises. She participated in bombardment, radar, illumination, and tactical exercises with TF 22 off Maine, until steaming to Boston on 7 April for limited availability.

She left President Roads, Boston, and rendezvoused with convoy UT 11 the next day. However, she was soon detached from the convoy and escorted by Earle (DD-635) across the Atlantic to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Arrivin on 15 April, she steamed thence to Plymouth, England, on 1 April. There, Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, Commander, TF 122, came on board on 25 April and broke his flag. At 1300 on 25 May, King George VI of England came on board to lunch with Admiral Kirk, and departed the same day.

In June, Augusta took part in the Normandy invasion, standing out of Plymouth on 5 June with Lieutenant General Omar Bradley USA and his staff, embarked. Closing the shore on 6 June, the he heavy cruiser commenced firing at 0618, hurling 51 rounds from her main battery at shore installations. On 10 June General Bradley and his staff left the heavy cruiser to establish headquarters ashore. Augusta was bombed at 0357 on 11 June, but escaped damage as the bomb exploded 800 yards off her port beam. The following day, anchored as before off Omaha Beach, she fired eight 5-inch rounds at an enemy plane at 2343, driving it off. On 13 June at 0352 she sent 21 rounds of 5-inch at a German plane, and shot it down. Augusta drove off other aircraft and bombarded the shore with her heavy guns on 15 June, and provided antiaircraft defense to the forces off Normandy on 18 June. The next day, while underway to shift berths, she lost a man overboard when he was plucked from the ship by heavy seas.

Rear Admiral Kirk shifted his flag to the destroyer Thompson (DD-637) on 1 July, and Augusta got underway the same day for Plymouth, mooring there on 2 July. Four days later, in company with TG 120.6, she departed for Mers el Kebir, Algeria, arriving there on 10 July, only to leave two days later with Hambleton for Palermo, Sicily. She moored at that port on 14 July and reported to TF 86 for duty. Rear Admiral L. A. Davidson came on board and broke his flag the same day, and Augusta stood out with Macomb and Hambleton for Naples, arriving the next day. She carried out shore bombardment exercises on 23 July.

She returned to Palermo on 27 July and steamed to Naples the following day. She continued her training until 12 August, when as flagship for TF 86, she carried Brigadier General B. W. Chidlaw, USA, to Propriano, Corsica, arriving the following day.

On 14 August, the heavy cruiser departed the Golfe de Valinco at 1030 for Ile du Levant, southern France and the beginning of Operation "Drafoon". Augusta arrived at 2155 at the staging area, joining the "Sitka" Assault Group. On the morning (I 15 August, Augusta trained her main battery against targets on Port Cros Island, and fired nine rounds. At 1125 she sent six 8-inch rounds into enemy troops counterattacking on Cape Negre, and ceased fire only when endangering friendly troops. The heavy cruiser took a German strong point, an old fort on Port Cros Island, under fire at 1512 and hurled 92 rounds against it. Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal came on board at 2023 for an official visit with Admiral Davidson.

The next day, AY gusta patrolled the "Sitka" Assault Area and Secretary Forrest. left her at 0850. The heavy cruiser fired 63 more rounds at the fort on Port Cros Island to soften it up. On 17 August, she patrolled with Omaha (CL-4) and poured 138 rounds from her 8-inch battery into the island fort which surrendered that day. The following day, General Chidlaw left the ship to establish his headquarters on shore, and Augusta turned her fire on the remaining coastal defense batteries. She departed on 19 All st for a reconnaissance-in-force of St. Mandrier Island off Toulon, France, where the battery known as "Big Willie" was located, bombarding shore installations, and returning-to the "Sitka" Assault Area the same day. The Golfe Hotel, Hyeres, France, was nearly leveled by 114 rounds from Augusta on 20
Augusta. Toulon and Marseilles surrendered eight days later. On 29 August, a landing party drawn from the marine detachments from Augusta and Philadelphia went ashore on the islands of Ratonneau and Chateau d'If in the harbor of Marseilles and accepted the surrender of German forces on those islands, taking 730 prisoners.

In support of "Dragoon," Augusta had fired over 700 rounds of 8-inch projectile-, and had materially aided invading Allied forces. She steamed to the Gulf of San Tropez, France, on 30 August, where Admiral Davidson shifted his flag to Philadelphia (CL-41) and Augusta was detached from TF 86.

On 1 September, the heavy cruiser sailed via Propriano to Naples, where she joined Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 7. After calling at Oran, Algeria, on 6 September, Augusta, in company with Tuscaloosa, Fitch (DD-462), and Murphy (DD-603) stood out bound for Philadelphia and an extensive overhaul.

While undergoing these repairs and alterations, Augusta suffered an explosion of unknown origin on 20 November in her ice machine room, which killed three yard workers and injured four crew members. Her overhaul completed, Augusta departed Boston on 26 January 1945 with Rhind (DD-404) and Bainbridge (DD-246), bound for Trinidad, tested her guns en route, and arrived on 31 January. In the first week of February, she con- refresher training in the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad, polishing up on gunnery, night battle, radar, and antiaircraft techniques. She steamed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, calling there on 9 February. Sailing for the United States on 21 February, Augusta, along with the destroyers Tillman (DDL-641), Herndon (DD-638), and Satterlee (DD-626), rendezvoused with the heavy cruiser Quincy (CA-71) and her screen on 24 February as that cruiser steamed back to the United States with President Roosevelt embarked, following the Yalta Conference.

After Augusta and her screen had covered the approach of the President to Hampton Roads, she underwent minor emergency repairs, remaining at Norfolk until 7 March when she steamed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arri ving there three da ys later. She trained off Trinidad and Curacao until 7 April il, days ere Chicago
(CA-136) joined her.

Augusta returned to Norfolk on 10 April, and on 14 April, in accordance with orders from the Secretary of the Navy, halfmasted her colors for a period of one month in honor of the late President Roosevelt. After a brief call at Annapolis, Maryland, she sailed north to Newport on 22 April to train 11 officers and 300 men from Columbus (CA-74) on a cruise. The ship conducted antiaircraft defense and other exercises in Long Island Sound until 27 April when she returned to Newport and disembarked the trainees.

Three days later, Augusta sailed for New York, and arrived there on 1 may. On 7 May, in company with Decatur (DD-341),

she headed for Casco Bay, where the end of the war in Europe found her, and returned to New York on 2 June. On the l3th, Augusta got underway to proceed back to Norfolk. She then conducted-further training exercises in Chesapeake Bay until 7 July, when President Harry S. Truman, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy boarded her, and she stood out for Antwe B I i in, to carry her distinguished passengers on the first leg of their voyage to the Potsdam Conference. Met by a British escort, the Augusta arrived on 14 July, and received dignataries, including General Eisenhower. Her guests departed the same day, and Augusta got underway to proceed to PI mouth, arriving there on 28 July.

On 2 August she embarked her distinguished passengers again, and received another visit from King George VI. The ship then sailed for the United States, arriving at Newport on 7 August to disembark the President. A week later she moored in Casco bay. After carrying out training at Baltimore, Maryland, she arrived at Norfolk on 11 September, and conducted exercises off the Virginia capes until steaming to Casco Bay again on 5 October for temporary duty under the direction of Commander, Operational Training Command, Atlantic, Commander TF 69. She then proceeded to New York, and participated in Navy Day observances on 27 October at New York City, where President Truman reviewed the fleet. Open to the public from 25 to 30 October, Augusta hosted 23,362 visitors.

On 31 October, Augusta moored at the New York Naval Shipyard, to be modified for "Magic Carpet" operations, bring ing home American servicemen form Europe. She performed this duty through the end of the year 1945. Ultimately placed out of commission, in reserve, in a deferred disposal status at Philadelphia, on 16 July 1946, Augusta remained in the Philadelphia group of the Reserve Fleet until she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 March 1959. She was sold for scrap on 9 November 1959 to Robert Benjamin of Panama City, Fla., and her hulk removed from naval custody on 2 March 1960.

Augusta (CA-31) was awarded three battle stars for her World War II service.


Construction [ edit | edit source ]

USS Augusta, a "Treaty" cruiser of 10,000 tons normal displacement, was laid down on July 2nd 1928 at Newport News, Virginia, by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. launched on February 1st 1930, sponsored by Evelyn McDaniel of Augusta, Georgia and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, on 30 January 1931, Captain James O. Richardson in command. Originally CL-31, effective July 1st 1931, Augusta was redesignated CA-31 in accordance with the provisions of the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

Service [ edit | edit source ]

Damage to one of her turbines curtailed the ship's original shakedown cruise, but Augusta conducted abbreviated initial training during a cruise to Colón, Panama, and back, before she was assigned duty as flagship for Commander, Scouting Force, Vice Admiral Arthur L. Willard, on May 21st 1931. During the summer of 1931, she operated with the other warships of Scouting Force, carrying out tactical exercises off the New England coast. In August 1931 she was reclassified as a heavy cruiser, CA-31. In September, Augusta moved south to Chesapeake Bay, where she joined her colleagues in their normal fall gunnery drills until mid-November, when the cruisers retired to their home ports. Augusta entered the Norfolk Navy Yard at that time.

At the beginning of 1932 she and the other cruisers of the Scouting Force reassembled in Hampton Roads, whence they departed on 8 January on their way to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Augusta conducted training evolutions with the Scouting Force in the vicinity of Guantanamo Bay until February 18th, when the force headed for the Panama Canal on its way to the eastern Pacific to participate in Fleet Problem XIII. She arrived in San Pedro, California, on March 7th but returned to sea three days later to execute the fleet problem. During the maneuvers Augusta and her colleagues in Scouting Force squared off against Battle Force in defense of three simulated "atolls" located at widely separated points on the West Coast. The exercises afforded the Fleet training in strategic scouting and an opportunity to practice defending and attacking a convoy.

The fleet problem ended on March 18th, but Augusta and the rest of Scouting Force did not return to the Atlantic at its conclusion as was normal. The Augusta would later become part of the Philippine Navy after the end of the Second American Civil War.


USS Augusta CL-31 - History

A website (hhtp//:www.internet-esq.com/ussaugusta) has been created for the
USS Augusta (CA-31), the flagship of the North African, Southern France,
and Normandy invasions. She was awarded 3 battle stars. We invite vistors
to our site and comments and additional infromation from all.

Named after the city in Georgia, the Augusta (CA-31) was
laid down July 2, 1928, and launched February 1, 1930 by
Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport
News, <*filter*>ia. She was sponsored at her launch by Miss
Evelyn McDaniel, daughter of the mayor of Augusta and
commissioned January 30, 1931. Augusta's first skipper was
Captain J.O. Richardson (who would later go on to command
the Pacific Fleet).

The Augusta was one of the Northampton-class cruisers
which were intended to serve as flagships - additional
accomodations were built into Chicago, Houston (CA-30),
and Augusta - and Augusta had a notable history in this role
winning three battle stars.

Augusta operated with the Atlantic Fleet until March 1932
when she transferred to the Pacific Fleet. On November 1933
she joined the Asiatic Fleet as flagship and remained in the
Orient until returning to the United States for overhaul in
November 1940. In July 1937 Augusta was the first
American warship to visit Vladivostok, U.S.S.R. While with
the Asiatic Fleet the cruiser answered the call to trouble in
August 1937 when the Sino-Japanese War renewed with
vigor. On "<*filter*>y Sunday," 14 Agust 1937, the ship arrived
in Shanghai and was promptly bombed by "friendly" Chinese
planes. The bombs barely missed. Less than a week later, on
20 August, a shell believed fired from a Japanese gun killed
one sailor and wounded several others. In December 1937
Augusta received on board survivors of the sunken American
gunboat Panary.

In April 1941 she reported to the Atlantic Fleet as flagship.
Augusta carried President Franklin Roosevelt to Placentia
Bay, Newfoundland, in August 1941 for the "Atlantic
Conference." With the advent of war, Commander-in-Chief,
transferred his flag to (IX-20) freeing Ausuat to join carrier
task force operating from Bermuda. Augusta took part in the
North African landings (November 8-11, 1942) as flagship of
Rear Admiral H.K. Hewitt, Commander, Western Naval Task
Force. On November 1942, she helped turn back the French
units sortieing from Casblanca, French Morocco, to break up
the landing at Fedhala.

Following a refit at New York Navy Yard
(December 1942-January 1943) and the completion
of two escort missions (one as escort to SS Queen
Mary, carrying Prime Minister Winston Churchill to
New York), Augusta joined the British Fleet at
Scapa Flow (August 1943) to help protect the
Murmansk convoys. She remained on that duty until
returning to the United States for modernization in
November 1943.

In April 1944 she sailed for England to take part in the
Normandy landings. She sortied from Plymouth, England on
the night of June 5, 1944, carrying Rear Admiral Alan G.
Kirk, Commander Western Task Force, General Omar
Bradley, Commander General, First Army, and Captain E.H.
Jones. Augusta joined in the pre-invasion bombardment and
remained off the invasion beaches until June 25. In July she
shifted her operations to the Mediterranean. Flying the flag of
Rear Admiral L.A. Davidson, Commander, Bombardment
Support Group, she participated in the invasion of Southern
France "Operation Dragoon" (August 15-25, 1944).
Following the southern France landings, she returned to
Philadelphia Navy Yard for a four and one-half month
modernization overhaul.

On July 7, 1945 Augusta embarked President Truman,
carrying him to Antwerp, Belgium. Following the Potsdam
Conference, President Truman boarded Augusta for the
return voyage which terminated at Newport News, <*filter*>ia,
August 7. A week later she moored in Casco Bay, Maine.
After carrying out training at Baltimore, Maryland, she
arrived at Norfolk on September 11, and conducted exercises
off the <*filter*>ia capes until steaming to Casco Bay again on
October 5 for temporary duty under the direction of
Commander, Operational Training Command, Atlantic
Commander TF 69. She then proceeded to New York, and
particpated in Navy Day observances on October 27 at New
York City, where President Truman reviewed the fleet. Open
to the public from October 25 to 30, Augusta hosted 23,362
visitors. On October 31, Augusta moored at the New York
Naval Shipyard, to be modified for "Magic Carpet"
operations, bringing American servicemen from Europe. She
performed this duty through the end of the year 1945.
Ultimately placed out of commission, in reserve, in a deferred
disposal status at Philidelphia, on July 16, 1946, Augusta
remained in the Philidelphia group of the Reserve Fleet until
she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on March 1,
1959. While moored for the last time on the Hackensack
River at Kearney, N.J. the Augusta was sold for s<*filter*>on
November 9, 1959 to Robert Benjamin of Panama City,
Florida, and her hulk removed from naval custody on March
2, 1960.

Augusta was awarded three battle stars for her World
War II service.


Normandy Command Ship - USS Augusta(CL/CA-31). .

Normandy Command Ship - USS Augusta(CL/CA-31). USS Augusta (CL/CA-31) was a Northampton-class cruiser commissioned in 1931 and was named for the city of Augusta, Georgia. She was a flagship or headquarters ship for most of her career. As a presidential flagship she hosted both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. She was the command ship for Operation Torch, Operation Overlord, and Operation Dragoon.

The ensign of the USS Augusta is a 132" X 161" bunting, 48-star, double applique, sewn stripe flag, finished a roped header with loops top and bottom, to which have been added eight, evenly spaced, leather tabs with snaps along the hoist edge. The flag is marked on the upper reverse hoist, "USS AUGUSTA (CA-31)."

The day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, the Augusta was the flag ship of the US Atlantic Fleet. She sortied into the Caribbean before going into the New York Navy Yard for a refit. She spent most of 1942 along the Atlantic Seaboard until October when he sailed for North Africa as the flagship for the Western Task Force to be the flag and command ship for Operation Torch. Also, aboard was General Patton who directed the assault from Augusta.

On station off Casablanca, Augusta continued with various Moroccan and Atlantic duties until returning to the States in February 1943 to resume trainings, patrols, and trans-Atlantic convoy duty, during which she escorted the RMS Queen Mary until she put into Boston for a refit before returning to Europe. She became the flagship of Rear Admiral Alan Kirk and was inspected by King George VI while preparing for Operation Neptune, the naval component of Operation Overlord, the Normandy Invasion.

At Normandy Augusta served as both Admiral Kirk's Flagship for Western Task Force and the command ship for General Omar Bradley's First Army, from where he directed the assault landings. She stood off the Normandy coast the morning of June 6th and fired her first salvos in support of the landings against enemy shore batteries. Gen. Omar Bradley directed the landings at Omaha and Utah beaches from Augusta until he disembarked on June 10th when he moved his headquarters ashore.

Augusta remained in station until July when she sailed for the Mediterranean to prepare for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France. After again serving as the flagship and supporting the landings with shore bombardment, she detached and convoyed back to the States for a major overhaul, and duties along the Atlantic seaboard. She half-masted her colors for one month on the death of FDR. Later she would serve as a presidential flagship for Harry Truman to carry him on the first leg to the Potsdam Conference. President Truman was on the Augusta when he received the reports regarding the bombing of Hiroshima.

After the war Augusta participated in Operation Magic Carpet, the return of US serviceman to the States.

This Augusta ensign represents perhaps a unique opportunity for a D-Day, WWII, Naval War in the Atlantic collector to acquire an ensign from a unique ship.

For service during WWII, and before, the USS Augusta was awarded: the Navy Combat Action Ribbon, Navy China Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal with 3 campaign stars, World War II Victory Medal, and the Navy World War II Occupation Medal w/EUROPE Clasp.

Condition: This ensign is in fair to poor condition. It is used, worn, soiled, and torn it is frayed all along the fly edger with loss, the 3rd and 4th stripes are split, the bottom white stripe is tore, and there are numerous holes throughout.

This flag was formerly in the collection of Dr. Clarence Rungee, and is accompanied by his original museum inventory sheet with identifying information.


World War II Database


ww2dbase Immediately after USS Augusta's shakedown and training cruiser, she was assigned as Vice Admiral Arthur Willard's flagship for the Scouting Force. She was re-classified a heavy cruiser in Aug 1931. She performed exercises and fleet problems at various locations in US waters until 20 Oct 1933 when she sailed for China. Arriving at Shanghai, China on 9 Nov 1933, she became the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. In this role, she made extensive visits to such places as Manila, Yokohama, Kobe, Tsingtao, Hong Kong, Batavia, Bali, Guam, Canberra, Melbourne, and Perth, among others, for the next several years.

ww2dbase During the Second Battle of Shanghai in Aug 1937, Augusta was moored in Shanghai to observe Japanese maneuvers while her Marine detachment disembarked to guard Shanghai's neutral international zone. While there, she was mistakenly bombed (though the bombs missed) by Chinese aircraft large American flags were painted atop the three main batteries to prevent similar mistakes. Nevertheless, she still received casualties when Chinese anti-aircraft shells came down on her on 20 Aug, though she remained in Shanghai to provide intelligence on Japanese troops. She finally left on 6 Jan 1938 after the Dec 1937 incident of the Japanese air attack on American gunboat Panay near Nanjing (Nanking). She did, however, made several more trips along the Chinese coast, and made several port calls at Shanghai.

ww2dbase After refitting at Mare Island Navy Yard in California, United States spanning from Dec 1940 to Apr 1941, Augusta was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet as Admiral Ernest King's flagship. In Jun 1941, she was chosen as President Franklin Roosevelt's flagship for the Aug 1941 meeting with Winston Churchill in Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada Roosevelt and Churchill discussed and finalized the Atlantic Charter aboard Augusta. Roosevelt left the ship on 14 Aug after transferring his flag aboard another ship for his return trip.

ww2dbase After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Rear Admiral Royal Ingersoll took over the command of the Atlantic Fleet and had his flag aboard Augusta until 12 Jan 1942. She patrolled the waters off of the east coast of the United States, in the Caribbean Sea, and off western Africa. On 23 Oct 1942, Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt broke his flag aboard her, making her the flagship of Task Force 34 at this time, General George Patton was among the high ranking officers aboard the heavy cruiser in preparation for the Operation Torch landings in North Africa in the following month. During the landing operations, Augusta escorted the landing transports while at the same time provided the firepower needed to counter French naval and coastal batteries off Casablanca. During an engagement with stationary French battleship Jean Bart, she was straddled by shells, but was not damaged. After the successful landings of Operation Torch, she returned to the Atlantic on convoy duties, including spending some time under British Royal Navy control.

ww2dbase On 25 Apr 1944, King George VI of Britain had lunch with Rear Admiral Alan Kirk aboard Augusta.

ww2dbase In Jun 1944, Augusta participated in the Normandy campaign as Lieutenant General Omar Bradley's transport. On 6 Jun, she fired 51 rounds from her main battery upon shore targets starting at 0618. On 10 Jun, Bradley disembarked to establish his command on land. On 1 Jul, she sailed for the Mediterranean Sea with Task Group 120.6, making port calls at Mers el Kebir, Palermo, Naples, and Corsica. In Aug 1944, she participated in Operation Dragoon on the coast of Southern France. On 15 Aug, she fired 15 rounds at Port Cros Island, 63 more on the next day, and 138 the day after the German-French fort on the island surrendered on the last day of Allied naval bombardment. She remained in the area for naval gunfire support for the remainder of the Dragoon operation by the time Dragoon was drew to a close, she had fired over 700 rounds of 203mm shells.

ww2dbase In Sep 1944, Augusta returned to the United States to undergo overhaul and repairs in Philadelphia. In Nov 1944, she suffered a mysterious explosion that killed three shipyard workers and four navy men. She sailed from the shipyard on 26 Jan 1945 for Puerto Rico, and on 21 Feb made a return trip as one of the escorting ships of cruiser Quincy which carried President Roosevelt back from the Yalta Conference. She remained at various locations on the east coast of the United States until the end of the European War. On 7 Jul 1945, she transported President Harry Truman, Secretary of State James Byrnes, and Admiral William Leahy to Antwerp, Belgium for the Potsdam Conference. After the end of the Pacific War, she was modified for Operation Magic Carpet to bring troops home from Europe. She was decommissioned in mid-1946 and sold for scrap on 9 Nov 1959 to Robert Benjamin of Panama City, Florida, United States.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Aug 2006

Heavy Cruiser Augusta (CA-31) Interactive Map

Augusta Operational Timeline

30 Jan 1931 Augusta was commissioned into service.
25 Jul 1937 Destroyer Squadron 29 of US Asiatic Fleet departed Yantai, Shandong Province, China and made rendezvous with USS Augusta at sea.
28 Jul 1937 USS Augusta and Destroyer Squadron 29 of US Asiatic Fleet arrived at Vladivostok, Russia.
1 Aug 1937 Destroyer Squadron 29 of US Asiatic Fleet departed Vladivostok, Russia for Yantai, Shandong Province, China while USS Augusta departed the same port for Qingdao, Shandong Province, China.
12 Aug 1937 USS Augusta delivered 50 Marines and 57 Navy personnel to reinforce the US 4th Marine Regiment stationed at Shanghai, China.
13 Aug 1937 USS Augusta departed Qingdao, Shandong Province, China with Admiral Harry Yarnell of US Asiatic Fleet aboard.
20 Aug 1937 While moored in the Huangpu River in Shanghai, China in the evening, the crew of USS Augusta gathered on the well deck for movies. A Chinese anti-aircraft shell intended for a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft flying nearby landed on the American cruiser, killing Seaman 1st Class Freddie J. Falgout and wounding 18 others.
21 Aug 1937 Photographer Harrison Forman boarded USS Augusta in Shanghai, China to document the event in which an errant Chinese anti-aircraft shell killed one American sailor and wounded 18 others.
16 Jul 1946 Augusta was decommissioned from service.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Phonse Griffiths says:
3 Oct 2015 01:22:58 PM

I am seeking photo of inside of USS Augusta,I am looking for photo of the conference table the atlantic charter was drafted on,would appreciate any help you can assist.We have the conference table in our museum and am looking for photo of it on the USS Augusta.Would also would like to give you permission to pass this along to all navy associations,thankyou.

2. Nicole Walsh says:
19 Oct 2015 02:30:18 PM

Wonderful idea Phonse for you to reach out and help behind the scenes. I would also like to be copied on any photos you have available as we would be interested in displaying them at our museum as well as on our website promoting the Atlantic Charter meeting.

3. peter chadwick says:
1 Apr 2016 03:19:56 PM

Came across a book called 'Atlantic Meeting' written by H.V. Morton [1943]. There are two deck images of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill aboard the Agusta. Some interesting images of Capt. Elliott Roosevelt aboard the Agusta as well. I don't know how well these images have been distributed in the US over the past years?

4. Anonymous says:
1 Jul 2016 06:43:11 PM

I have just recently discovered a library book from aboard the USS Augusta. The last date I can find in it puts it on the ship in 1944. I searched the ship and came to this page first. Any suggestions as to what I should do with this book would be much appreciated! Thank you

5. Russ Gordon says:
11 Nov 2016 08:27:33 PM

My father, Joseph Goldstein was a Chief Petty Officer on that ship during WW2

6. Russ says:
11 Nov 2016 08:37:09 PM

If you come across photos that need retouching, I would be most happy to help out. I can take care of that and hopefully restore to the best quality possible

7. Anthony Stover says:
20 Jan 2017 05:37:51 PM

Hello, I am trying to find a crew manifest. I was told my grandfather served on this ship.. where doI start?

8. David Stubblebine says:
21 Jan 2017 12:16:22 PM

To Anthony Stover (above):
To find out more about your grandfather’s Navy service, the best starting point is to see his service record. You can request a copy from the National Archives. See: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records.
Additionally, Fold3.com has very complete Muster Rolls for WWII ships but this is a subscription site that will cost you money to access. I know of no free source to see these records except to visit the National Archives in person (St Louis, MO for Navy service records and College Park, MD for most other Navy records).

9. Kenneth Robert Harrison says:
28 Sep 2017 03:39:39 PM

My grandfather serve on this ship his name was Robert dishman bock is there any info on him?

10. Richard Evans says:
6 Oct 2017 11:06:55 AM

I am writing a history of FDR's meeting with Churchill off Newfoundland in 1941. It's a long shot but I wonder if any crew members aboard the USS Augusta are still alive? If anyone knows of anyone please reply. Thank you

11. helen says:
9 Dec 2017 02:59:41 PM

My dad, John Leimbach, was on this ship all during WWII, he was only 16 when he signed up. The only thing he ever mentioned was the events when the Presidents were on board. He never even mentioned to us his ship was the flagship during the Normandy Invasionl He started having nightmares and flashbacks on his deathbed, that is the first time we ever heard of the horror he witnessed. Unfortunately, we lost him on December 14, 2000 at the age of 77. I have original his John Wanamaker Department Store Photo displayed in my home along with his discharge pin. My brother has his full uniform as well.

12. Anonymous says:
31 Jan 2018 01:10:11 PM

I had a friend now deceased who served on the U.S.S. Augusta before, and after Pearl Harbor. He was a storekeeper, and spoke very well of his ship, and shipmates.

13. James Ritchie says:
2 Mar 2018 03:48:14 AM

My father James Ritchie USMC was on the Augusta operation torch. I am trying to find the crew list for that 1942 invasion. I once found it but cannot now.
Thank you

14. Michael Weil says:
20 Apr 2018 02:51:18 PM

My grandfather Jonas Bolanz Weil served on the Augusta.

15. Anonymous says:
9 Jul 2018 08:44:29 AM

My father, Jesse Wallace, was the CO of the USS Augusta (or the Augi-maru) as he referred to it.

16. Russ Gordon says:
12 Sep 2018 09:23:49 AM

My fathers name at the time he was on the ship was Joseph Goldstein. He was Chief Petty Officer. He would get aspirin for President Roosevelt when he was meeting with Churchill and Stalin. Is there an official list for the crew?

17. Brisnt G. Dunnican II says:
18 May 2019 08:54:17 AM

My father was Walter Harry Dunnican. He served on the Augusta right out of USNA Class of 45.
He is the Ensign in the picture of Truman and King George
https://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=17123
He Passed away in 1961.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.


USS Augusta CL-31 - History

USS Augusta , a 9050-ton Northampton class light cruiser, was built at Newport News, Virginia. Commissioned in January 1931, she spent her first two years in the Atlantic and Caribbean areas, serving as flagship of the Scouting Force during much of this time. She was reclassified as a heavy cruiser in July 1931, receiving the new designator CA-31 at that time. In February 1932, Augusta went to the Pacific and in October 1933 was sent to the Far East to become the Asiatic Fleet's flagship. Over the next seven years she cruised extensively, visiting ports in Japan, the Soviet Union, China, the Philippines, Indo-China, Thailand, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and Australia. After war began between Japan and China in July 1937, Augusta was very active in Chinese waters, protecting American interests and observing the hostilities. In mid-August 1937, while off Shanghai, she was accidently bombed by Chinese aircraft, but suffered no damage or casualties. However, a few days later, another accident, this time involving a Chinese anti-aircraft shell, killed a member of her crew.

Relieved as Asiatic Fleet flagship in November 1940, Augusta returned home for overhaul and modernization. She transited the Panama Canal in April 1941 and became flagship of the Atlantic Fleet early in May. In August, Augusta carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Newfoundland to take part in the conference that produced the Atlantic Charter. For the remainder of 1941 and into 1942, as relations with Germany moved from "short of war" tensions to declared conflict, Augusta continued as fleet flagship, operating in the western Atlantic from Canadian waters to the West Indies.

When U.S. forces invaded Morocco in November 1942, Augusta served as operation flagship and used her eight-inch guns to engage French shore batteries and warships. She escorted a convoy to Scotland in mid-1943 and operated with the British Home Fleet for much of the rest of that year. The cruiser was an active participant in the invasions of Normandy and Southern France in June and August 1944, shelling enemy targets ashore and protecting the amphibious forces from counter-attacks. In July 1945, after the end of the European war, Augusta carried President Harry S. Truman across the Atlantic for the Potsdam Conference and brought him back to the U.S. once the meetings were concluded.

Augusta spent November and December 1945 transporting service personnel back to the United States from Europe. Decommissioned in July 1946, she was at the Philadelphia Navy Yard as part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet for the next thirteen years. USS Augusta was sold for scrapping in November 1959.

This page features, and provides links to, selected views concerning USS Augusta (CA-31).

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Off Honolulu, Oahu, on 31 July 1933. Diamond Head is in the distance.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 103KB 740 x 605 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

In the Dewey Drydock, at Olongapo Naval Station, Philippine Islands, 29 January 1936.

Photograph from Department of the Navy collections in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 67KB 740 x 575 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

In a Far Eastern harbor, circa 1936.

Donation of Charles R. Haberlein Jr., 2008.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image size: 57KB 740 x 455 pixels

Anchored off Pootung Point, Shanghai, China, during Sino-Japanese hostilities, circa August 1937.
Fires from combat action are burning ashore, beyond the ship.

Courtesy of Captain P. Henry, Jr., USN (Retired), 1973.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 89KB 740 x 550 pixels

At anchor in Bermuda waters, September 1941, while serving as flagship of the Atlantic Fleet.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 72KB 740 x 590 pixels

Underway in the Atlantic, 18 April 1942.
Note her interesting camouflage scheme.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 98KB 740 x 605 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Steaming off Portland, Maine, on 9 May 1945.
Photographed from a Utility Squadron 15 (VJ-15) aircraft.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 146KB 740 x 620 pixels

Anchored in the Hudson River, off New York City, at the time of the Navy Day Fleet Review, circa late October 1945.

Collection of Warren Beltramini, donated by Beryl Beltramini, 2007.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image size: 91KB 740 x 615 pixels

View looking toward the ship's bow from her foremast, with a rangefinder and her two forward triple eight-inch gun turrets in the lower half of the image, circa 1936.
Augusta is dressed with flags for a holiday or other celebration.

Donation of Charles R. Haberlein Jr., 2008.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image size: 61KB 420 x 765 pixels

Asiatic Fleet Change of Command, 25 July 1939

Admiral Thomas C. Hart, incoming Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet (left center), his predecessor, Admiral Harry E. Yarnell (right center), and members of their staffs salute as Yarnell's flag is taken down and Hart's is raised, during ceremonies on board USS Augusta (CA-31) off Shanghai, China.
Black armbands are worn in mourning for the late Secretary of the Navy, Claude A. Swanson, who had died on 3 March 1939.

Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Yarnell, 1975.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 109KB 740 x 600 pixels

Atlantic Charter Conference, August 1941

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meets with President Franklin D. Roosevelt on board USS Augusta (CA-31), off Argentia, Newfoundland, 9 August 1941.
Assisting the President is his son, Army Captain Elliot Roosevelt. Ensign Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., USNR, is at left, with Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles standing behind him.

Donation of Vice Admiral Harry Sanders, USN (Retired), 1969.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 96KB 740 x 605 pixels

Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox

Inspects the crew of USS Augusta (CA-31), off Bermuda in September 1941. The ship's Commanding Officer, Captain Carlton H. Wright, is at left.
Augusta 's after eight-inch gun turret is in the background.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 77KB 740 x 620 pixels

Major General George S. Patton, Jr., U.S. Army , Commanding General, Western Task Force, U.S. Army (left) and
Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, USN , Commander Western Naval Task Force, (center)

Share a light moment on board USS Augusta (CA-31), off Morocco during the Operation "Torch" landings.
Though the original photo is dated 4 December 1942, it was probably taken shortly before MGen. Patton went ashore on 8 or 9 November 1942.


The Way We Were: Important passengers sailed the seas aboard USS Augusta

Eighty years ago the USS Augusta carried our leaders into history.

Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Harry Truman all had something in common.

They were resolute, they were reliable and they sailed into history, just like the ship on which all three once traveled – the USS Augusta.

Yes, our town had a boat named in its honor. Four of them, actually. But the latest was the most active – the USS Augusta (CA-31), a cruiser that not only saw battle action but also often served as a headquarters and presidential flagship.

Built in Virginia and launched in 1930, it sailed for most of the next 30 years. The Augusta would serve as the Navy's flagship for both the Asiatic and Atlantic fleets, seeing action in seas off China, North Africa and France and earning three Battle Stars during World War II.

It was in the Pacific. It was in the Atlantic. It was at D-Day, and just about anyone who was anybody stood on its decks: Roosevelt, Churchill, Omar Bradley, Chester Nimitz, George S. Patton.

The Augusta even took part in the naval battle of Casablanca, so maybe it fired its guns at Humphrey Bogart at his fictional movie saloon.

In Asian waters, the ship was called the "Augie Maru" – "Augie" for Augusta, and "maru" being a Japanese word for boat.

In 1934, the Augusta sailed under its most illustrious captain, Nimitz, who would later become the five-starred commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet.

The Augusta took over the Atlantic flag in April and rendezvoused in August 1941 with the presidential yacht Mayflower, taking on Roosevelt for his historic Atlantic conference with Churchill off the Newfoundland coast.

For most of the Augusta's crew, it was the first time seeing the president in person. Many were surprised by the sight of Roosevelt's physical impairments. The president, crippled in the 1920s after battling polio, was moved into the admiral's quarters. An elevator was installed and bulkhead doors were modified to accommodate for Roosevelt's disability.

They even assigned a serviceman to follow around the president's dog to clean up after … well, you know.

Churchill came aboard off Newfoundland to discuss the Atlantic Charter. After the Atlantic summit, the Augusta returned to its home port at Newport, R.I., where she remained until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into World War II.

In June 1944, she had one of her more memorable missions. On June 5, with Army Gen. Bradley commanding D-Day landing forces from the bridge, the Augusta turned her 8-inch guns on the shores of Normandy. For the next 26 days, the warship would patrol the English Channel, hurling shells at German military forces.

The Augusta saw its share of action during World War II. And at the end of the war, she had the important mission of carrying Truman to the historic Potsdam conference in Germany.

It was from his office aboard the Augusta that Truman announced the nuclear bombing of Japan.

In November and December 1945, the Augusta had one of her most rewarding missions – she brought troops home from Europe.

In 1946, she was placed in reserve. And in November 1959, she was sold for scrap. Her mission done, her legacy remains and her memory endures.

Most of what’s left is at the Augusta Museum of History, including a silver service. Maybe we should drink a toast.


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Normandy Command Ship USS Augusta (CL/CA-31). . .

Normandy Command Ship USS Augusta (CL/CA-31).
USS Augusta (CL/CA-31) was a Northampton-class cruiser, commissioned in 1931. She was named for the city of Augusta, Georgia. She was a flagship or headquarters ship for most of her career. As a Presidential Flagship, she hosted both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. She was the command ship for Operation Torch, Operation Overlord and Operation Dragoon.

The ensign of the USS Augusta is a 66" x 109" Dettra Bulldog brand, cotton bunting, double appliqué sewn stripe flag, finished with a header and grommets. There is a maker's mark on the upper obverse hoist. The reverse is marked "USS Augusta".

On the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, the Augusta was the flag ship of the US Atlantic Fleet. She sortied into the Caribbean before going into the New York Navy Yard for a refit. She spent most of 1942 along the Atlantic Seaboard until October when she sailed for North Africa as the flagship for the Western Task Force to be the flag and command ship for Operation Torch. Also aboard was General Patton who directed the assault from the Augusta.
On station off Casablanca, Augusta continued with various Moroccan and Atlantic Duties until returning to the States in February 1943 to resume trainings, patrols and trans-Atlantic convoy duty, during which she escorted the RMS Queen Mary until she put into Boston for a refit before returning to Europe. She became the flagship of Rear Admiral Alan Kirk and was inspected by King George VI while preparing for Operation Neptune, the naval component of Operation Overlord, the Normandy Invasion. At Normandy, Augusta served as both Admiral Kirk's Flagship for the Western Task Force and the command ship for General Omar Bradley's First Army, from where he directed the assault landings. She stood off the Normandy coast the morning of 6 June and fired her first salvos in support of the landings against enemy shore batteries. General Omar Bradley directed the landings at Omaha and Utah beaches from Augusta until he disembarked on 10 June when he moved his headquarters ashore. Augusta remained in station until July when she sailed for the Mediterranean to prepare for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France. After again serving as the flagship and supporting the landings with shore bombardment, she detached and convoyed back to the States for a major overhaul and duties along the Atlantic seaboard. She half-masted her colors for one month on the death of FDR. Later she would serve as a Presidential Flagship for Harry Truman to carry him on the first leg to the Potsdam Conference. President Truman was on the Augusta when he received the reports regarding the bombing of Hiroshima. After the war, Augusta participated in Operation Magic Carpet, the return of US serviceman to the States. This flag represents perhaps a unique opportunity for a D-Day, WWII, Naval War in the Atlantic collector to acquire an ensign from a unique ship.

For service during WWII, and before, the USS Augusta was awarded: the Navy Combat Action Ribbon Navy China Service Medal American Defense Service Medal with FLEET Clasp American Campaign Medal European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal with three campaign stars World War II Victory Medal and the Navy World War II Occupation Medal with EUROPE Clasp.

This ensign is in Good Condition - used, worn and torn. It is frayed at the top fly corner and has four horizontal tears along the hoist edge, but is otherwise complete.

This flag was formerly in the collection of Dr. Clarence Rungee, and is accompanied by his original museum inventory sheet with identifying information.

For those who did not receive a hard copy of the auction catalog, we present here the introductory comments and history of Dr. Rungee and his remarkable collection. If you scroll further, you will also find various contemporary newspaper articles, as well as a selection of the many letters of donation and transmittal which accompanied the collection and a categorization of the collection.


‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

Posted On April 29, 2020 15:49:32

When I frequented my Marine Corps recruiting office from 1999 until I enlisted in 2003, Staff Sgt. Molina used to welcome me with a familiar, “Ey devil,” and Staff Sgt. Ciccarreli would echo with “Eyyyyyyy.” Vintage recruiting posters were sprinkled among more modern propaganda. The message they consistently reinforced was that the Corps’ values—especially service above self—are timeless.

In one of the old posters, a strong, black Marine standing tall in his dress blue uniform with gold jump wings stared back at me. I couldn’t tell whether he was grinning or scowling—welcoming a potential recruit or warning me. Scrawled in bold typeface across the bottom third of the poster were the words “Ask a Marine.” My reaction was visceral. Where do I sign?

The iconic Marine recruitment ad campaign featuring Capers. He was the first black man to be featured in such a campaign.

The man in the poster was James Capers Jr., a now retired major whose 23-year career was defined by breaking barriers and blazing a path of excellence in the Marine Corps special operations community. Capers recently published “Faith Through the Storm: Memoirs of James Capers, Jr.,” and the book is a powerful portrait of an extraordinary life.

As the son of a sharecropper in South Carolina, Capers had to flee the Jim Crow South for Baltimore after his father committed some petty offense, which he feared might get him lynched. Capers describes his flight in the back of an old pickup driven by a white person as a sort of “Underground Railroad.” His trip to Baltimore is reminiscent of Frederick Douglass’ escape north because not much had changed for black people in the South since 1830.

We get a vivid picture of Capers’ early years and family life in Baltimore before he joins the Marine Corps. In the Marines, Capers finds an organization where men are judged by their actions, and he excels. He polishes his boots, cleans his weapons and learns what he can from the old salts, who mostly respect his effort. Early on, Capers commits himself to a standard of excellence that distinguishes him above his peers. That struggle is a consistent theme throughout his career.

When applying for special operations swim qualification, an instructor cites pseudo-science to explain that black people can’t swim. Capers has to beg to be let into the class. When a white student fails the test required to graduate, Capers pleads with the cadre to allow the student to swim it again. Then he swims with the Marine, motivating him to muster up the fortitude and faith in himself to pass.

At one point, Capers can’t find an apartment in Baltimore even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had recently passed and was promoted to end housing discrimination based on race. While assigned the temporary lowly duty of a barracks NCO, a white Marine flicks a cigarette butt at Capers—already trained as an elite Force Reconnaissance Marine—and tells him to pick it up. The slight weighs heavily on Capers until he tracks the Marine down and does something about it.

As Vietnam approaches, Capers is eager to get in the fight. A seasoned veteran of more than 10 years, he volunteers to return to special operations, and in the spring of 1966, he deploys with 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company.

Capers (bottom right) with his Marine Corps 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company in Vietnam.

The section about Capers’ Vietnam tour is harrowing and crushing. He survives and thrives as a warrior and leader through several months of brutal combat in the jungle. Eventually, he receives a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant and becomes the first black officer in Marine special operations. By the heart-pounding final mission in Vietnam, I couldn’t help but feel like the book is a 400-page summary of action for a Medal of Honor.

Heart is the book’s central theme. Its most moving parts focus on overcoming adversity and heartbreak. In one chapter, Capers leads his men through two minefields to avoid the enemy. His inspiring leadership carries them through alive against all odds.

Characters frequently appear only briefly enough to become attached to before they die. Capers recalls fondly an old black first sergeant who had fought on Iwo Jima in World War II and saved Capers from some trouble. He dies in Vietnam.

In another scene, a Marine hollers a cadence on a medevac transport out of Vietnam to raise the spirits of wounded Marines who join the sing-song before the Marine dies somewhere along the way.

These wrenching memories reminded me of returning to the recruiting office after my first combat deployment and asking Staff Sgt. Alvarado whatever happened to Staff Sgt. Molina, whose son had fallen under my supervision when I was an assistant karate instructor before I enlisted. Alvarado’s eyes looked to the ground, “You didn’t hear?” I’d seen enough death on my deployment to suddenly know without having to be told, and a mental image of his cherub-faced child still tugs my heart because that kid had an especially wonderful dad.

The death surrounding Capers takes its toll on him, and though he is a hard charger and maybe the best Marine in Vietnam, he is not a machine. His pain is complicated. The book’s strength is in Capers’ brutal honesty about his emotional state, which deteriorates as the death toll mounts and the misuse of his recon team by new out-of-touch officers costs more than he can bear.

Retired Marine Corps Maj. James Capers II.

This memoir may not break into the mainstream like a Matterhorn or Jarhead because it’s steeped in Marine culture that may not translate to readers outside of those bounds. It deserves a mini-series due to its dramatic story arc and relevance regarding the unique historical experience of a black U.S. Marine who is able to achieve in the Marine Corps what most likely would not have been accessible to him in the society of his time.

“Faith Through the Storm” should be required reading for Marine infantry officers. It’s the perfect book for The Commandant’s Professional Reading List. This book ultimately adds another dimension to one of the Corps’ most famous recruiting posters.



Comments:

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  2. Gabriel

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  3. Andrue

    I apologize, it doesn't come close to me. Can the variants still exist?

  4. Brami

    They are wrong. Write to me in PM, speak.

  5. Usi

    Exceptional delusion, in my opinion

  6. Eben

    Thank you, I would also like something you can help?



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