Wednesday, September 2, 2009

USS Charles Carroll APA28: An Amphibious History of World War II

by Kenneth H. Goldman
If you ask the average war or naval buff what the number one priority program of US shipbuilding in 1945, chances are they will guess wrong. For the number one priority program was the AKA/APA amphibious transport program. Although USS Charles Carroll was not part of this late war building program, this work certainly details what life was like for the crews.
It was one thing to demand vengeance after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii plunged the United States into World War II, it was quite another to have the wherewithal to carry the fight to the Axis powers' front door. The same two oceans that had previously protected the United States from foreign enemies now provided a like obstacle to projecting American military force in the other direction. Battleships, aircraft carriers and submarines could not do the job alone. It was up to the ordinary soldier to occupy and hold the enemy's real estate, and the Navy needed to commission vast numbers of transports to get them there.
The attack transport USS Charles Carroll was originally laid down to be a combi-liner, carrying passengers and cargo on the Gulf of Mexico trade routes. Most of her wartime crew had never seen the ocean let alone manned a vessel of her size or even handled the small boats that were the ship's main offensive weapon. Yet, together they would evolve into the fighting machine that earned six battle stars in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, Southern France and Okinawa.
Lt. Robert W. Goldman, USNR (ret), joined the ship after Operation Torch and participated in her five subsequent invasions. I grew up listening to his stories, which, with the invasion maps, documents, photographs, issues of the Plan of the Day, etc. that he saved, form the backbone of this narrative. I have also met many of his old shipmates and have incorporated their recollections and, whenever possible, entries from the weathered diaries in which some of them set down their first-hand experiences, their fears while in combat and the capers they cut to blow off steam. As much as possible, the book evokes the feel of the times and the perspective of those who were there. The generals and heads of state set policy and strategy but it is the individuals in the field and on the seas who must translate the best laid plans into actions which spell victory or defeat. This is their story.
Born in Long Beach, New York, a graduate of Yale University, the author now lives in Southern California with his wife and pets. There he pursues the joint careers of writing, sculpting and scale model making. He has had three radio plays produced and has sold several screenplays as well as having published numerous Internet articles on naval history and scale modeling. His most recent modeling projects include co-designing a 1:16 scale kit of the Wright Flyer and building a full-size replica of that first airplane's engine for a restoration project at The Air Museum "Planes of Fame" in Chino, California. His wood sculptures can be found in numerous collections across the United States.
The book is self-published through the Trafford on-demand program. These programs allow many works which may otherwise slip through the cracks be published. The downside is that the Publisher only provides marketing services via their website.
The narrative of this book is done in a fairly pleasing style that makes for an easy read.
What really helps to bring this book to life, is the ample placement of maps, diagrams and photographs within the text. Appendices, bibliography and index make this work a valuable reference tool. This really helps the reader get a feel for what life was like onboard an amphibious transport ship.
Mr Goldman is to be congratulated for his extensive efforts to bring this story to print.

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