Wwii Crew

By Lehman, Frederick | Sea Classics, August 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Wwii Crew

Lehman, Frederick, Sea Classics

USS North Carolina (BB-55) turned 70-years young on 9 April 2011. Dubbed "the Immortal Showboat" by WWII journalist Walter Winchell, the Battleship Memorial recently held a tour-day 70th birthday celebration event in Wilmington, North Carolina.

At her commissioning on 9 April 1941 , she was the first US battleship to be constructed in 16-yrs and first new-construction ship to enter WWII. She became the first of ten fast battleships to join the United States fleet in WWII. North Carolina (BB-55) and her sister ship Washington (BB-56) comprised the North Carolina-class.

Considered the world's greatest sea weapons, BB-55 and BB-56 were armed with nine 16-in/45-cal guns in three turrets, and 20 5in/38-cal in ten twin mounts. There were 60 40mm/56-cal guns and 48 20mm/70-cal guns in addition. The new battleships both carried crews of about 2200 enlisted men and 145 officers, as well as another 100 Marines. During the Second World War, the North Carolina participated in every major Naval battle in the Pacific and earned 15 battle stars.

After decommissioning, the "Showboat" was placed in the inactive reserve fleet at Bayonne New Jersey and sat idle for almost 14-yrs. After the Navy announced plans to scrap the once proud warship, the citizens of the state of North Carolina campaigned to rescue their ship from the ship-breakers. School children joined the campaign to save and preserve their state's namesake ship by donating their nickels and dimes towards its preservation. The North Carolina arrived at its permanent berth at Eagles Island, across the Cape Fear River from Wilmington, North Carolina, on 2 October 1961 and was dedicated as a war memorial honoring the state's WWII veterans and the 10,000 North Carolinians who died during that war.

For the next half century, the Immortal Showboat served proudly once again. In April 201 1 , the city of Wilmington North Carolina held its annual Azalea Festival and the battleship held its 70th birthday celebration. Twenty-two former North Carolina crew members attended. This writer was pnvilegeó to meet some of them.



Edwin Barton enlisted into the US Navy at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1944 at the age of 16. Sworn into service shortly after his 17th birthday, he received his basic training and went directly to his first ship at Norfolk, Virginia, the USS Montague (AKA-98) which was an Andromedaotess Attack Cargo Ship.

The Montague transported Barton and several others through the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Theater of Operations, where they eventually caught up with their permanent duty station, USS North Carolina.

He recalls spending 87-days at sea and the time that they took friendly fire that completely knocked out the ship's radar system. He was also a volunteer member of the landing party that left the ship after August 1945 to help secure the land bases all over Japan.

When the battleship returned to the Pacific, he received orders to the Light Cruiser USS Denver (CL-58). The Denvermaáe some Atlantic Ocean cruises training midshipmen from Annapolis in 1946 before Edwin's time in the Navy was up, and he was honorably discharged that year. He returned to his home near Pittsburgh, met and married his wife of now 63-yrs, and worked as a bricklayer, building new homes during the building boom of the 1950s and 1960s. Now retired, he is active in the Battleship North Carolina Association and serves on the auditing committee. He truly enjoys keeping up with his friends and shipmates.

Gvinmns mate zc


Chris Keenan is a Battleship North Carolina Plank Owner. He enlisted in New York City in November 1939 and took his basic training at Newport, Rhode Island. Following boot camp, he was "fortunate" to be berthed in USS Constellation which at that time was being used as a training vessel at Newport. (The wooden Sloop of War later spent part of 1 942 as the Atlantic fleet flag ship of Adm.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Wwii Crew


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?