Twenty-Three Minutes to Eternity: The Final Voyage of the Escort Carrier U.S.S. Liscome Bay

Twenty-Three Minutes to Eternity: The Final Voyage of the Escort Carrier U.S.S. Liscome Bay

Twenty-Three Minutes to Eternity: The Final Voyage of the Escort Carrier U.S.S. Liscome Bay

Twenty-Three Minutes to Eternity: The Final Voyage of the Escort Carrier U.S.S. Liscome Bay

Synopsis

A long-overdue history of America's "forgotten flattop." On November 24, 1943, a Japanese torpedo plunged into the starboard side of the American escort carrier USS Liscome Bay. The torpedo struck the thin-skinned carrier in the worst possible place the bomb storage area. The resulting explosion could be seen 16 miles away, literally ripping the Liscome Bay in half and killing 644 of her crew. In terms of lives lost, it was the costliest carrier sinking in United States naval history. Liscome Bay's loss came on her first combat operation: the American invasion of the Gilbert Islands. Despite her short career, she touched a number of remarkable and famous lives. Doris Miller, the first black American sailor to win the Navy Cross, lost his life, as did Rear Admiral Henry Mullinax, one of the Navy's first "air admirals." John Crommelin was the senior officer to survive the sinking. Later in his career, Crommelin, a decorated naval aviator himself, sparked the famous Revolt of the Admirals, which helped save the role of naval aviation in America's Cold War military. James Noles's account of the Liscome Bay and those who served aboard her is based on interviews with the ship's survivors and an unpublished memoir that the ship's pay officer made available to the author. This readable, compelling book pays homage to the crew by telling their story of experience and sacrifice.

Excerpt

This story of the sinking of the escort carrier Liscome Bay (CVE-56) in November 1943 is lifted from the history of the U.S. Navy’s epic conflict with the Japanese during World War ii. in recounting the short history of this almost-forgotten carrier, I have aspired to breathe life into a sixtyyear-old tale. One question that arose early on was how best to handle various portions of dialogue. I was tempted to take some poetic license and create dialogue and conversations for the crew, especially those who are no longer available for interviews. in the end, however, I stuck strictly to the facts as I could best discern them—these, I decided, were more than enough. Accordingly, anything in direct quotes was either recorded by me in an interview with the speaker—in person, over the telephone, or in the course of personal correspondence—or is quoted from the identified source.

I was, however, forced to take some poetic license in describing the order in which various groups of sailors abandoned the sinking Liscome Bay, since my research did not reveal the precise sequence. Consequently, to a large extent I described departures in the order that best fit my narrative flow. I hope that I have slighted no one in implying that he abandoned ship prior to any of his comrades.

Foremost among those who deserve credit for enabling me to tell Liscome Bay’s tale are the ship’s survivors. Every man I contacted was extremely polite and helpful. Tim Woodham, Leonard Bohm, and Francis Daily deserve special credit for tolerating my phone calls, letters, and e-mails.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.