CVE-109 U.S.S. Cape Gloucester - History

CVE-109 U.S.S. Cape Gloucester - History

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Cape Gloucester

At Cape Gloucester, New Guinea, on 26 November 1943, the 7th Amphibious Force commanded by Rear Admiral D. E. Barbey successfully landed the 1st Marine Division under heavy enemy air attack.

(CVE-109: dp. 11,373; 1. 557'1"; b. 75'; ew. 106'2"; dr. 32'; s. 19 k.; epl. 1,066; a. 2 5"; cl. Commencement Bay)

Cape Gloucester (CVE 109) (name changed from Willapa Bay 26 April 1944) was launched 12 September 1944 by Todd-Pacific Shipyards, Inc., Tacoma, Wash.; sponsored by Mrs. R. M. Griffin, commissioned 5 March 1945, Captain J. W. Harris in command; and reported to the Pacific Fleet.

After operational training at Pearl Harbor, Cape Gloucester arrived at Leyte, P.I., 29 June 1945 to join the 3d Fleet. Her planes flew combat air patrol fighting off Japanese suicide planes attempting to attack minesweepers operating east of Okinawa from 5 to 17 July. They then took part in air raids and photographic reconnaissance of shipping and airfields along the China coast until 7 August. During this time, her aircraft shot down several Japanese planes, and aided in damaging a 700-ton cargo ship.

After a period covering minesweeping along the Japanese coasts, and aiding in the recovery of Allied troops from prison camps on Kyushu, Cape Gloucester made four voyages returning servicemen from Okinawa and Pearl Harbor to the west coast. The escort carrier returned to Tacoma, Wash., 22 May 1946, and was placed out of commission in reserve there 5 November 1946. still in reserve, she was reclassified CVHE-109 on 12 June 1966, and further reclassified AKV-9 on 7 May 1959.

Cape Gloucester received one battle star for World War II service.


This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Commencement Bay Class Escort Carrier
    Keel Laid January 10 1944 as WILLAPA BAY
    Renamed April 26 1944
    Launched September 12 1944

Naval Covers

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History [ edit | edit source ]

World War II [ edit | edit source ]

The squadron was originally activated as Marine Observation Squadron 351 (VMO-351) on March 1, 1943 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. The squadron was moved to Bogue Field in May 1944 and was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 51 (MAG-51). They trained to take part in Operation Crossbow - Project Danny which was a plan to have carrier based Marine squadrons attack German V-1 Rocket sites. This plan was cancelled and in September 1944 the squadron moved to Marine Corps Air Station Mojave.

In early December 1944, VMO-351 went aboard the USS Ranger (CV-4) for carrier qualifications. During this time they were redesignated VMO(CVS)-351. Following qualification they embarked aboard the USS Commencement Bay (CVE-105) and were quickly redesignated Marine FIghting Squadron 351 (VMF-351) in February 1945. During its combat tour the squadron provided aerial cover for minesweeping activity and bomber strikes in the East China Sea area. In April 1945, VMF-351 participated in the Battle of Okinawa flying F4U Corsairs from the USS Cape Gloucester (CVE-109). Because aerial combat was a rarity during the later stages of the war the squadron was only credited with downing three enemy aircraft in aerial combat. They were deactivated upon their return to the United States on November 9, 1945.

Reserve duty [ edit | edit source ]

The squadron was quickly reactivated as part of the Marine Air Reserve on July 1, 1946 and were based out of Naval Air Station Atlanta, Georgia. During the Korean War the squadron was reduced to paper strength as its pilots and groundcrew were transferred to other units to bring them up to strength. The squadron was able to resume operation in July 1951 after receiving new personnel.

VMF-351 was redesignated Marine Attack Squadron 351 (VMA-351) in 1958 after they were re-equipped with the AD-4 Skyraider. This lasted until 1962 when they transitioned aircraft to the FJ-4 Fury and once again became VMF-351.

In 1965 they transitioned from the FJ Fury to the F-8 Crusader. They shared their aircraft with Naval Reserve squadrons VF-672 and VF-673. When the Naval Air Reserve was reorganized in 1970, they became an independent squadron. As part of the draw down of US troop levels following the Vietnam War, the squadron was deactivated on May 22, 1976. They were reactivated in 1977, transitioned to the F-4 Phantom and were redesignated VMFA-351 however were quickly decommissioned the next year.

Cape Cod and Cape Ann—two seashore vacation draws not far from Boston —might appear to be siblings. But in truth the two Massachusetts capes are as different as mustard and custard. South of the city, Cape Cod thrusts seaward from the mainland as a 75-mile arm, flexed and brawny, with Provincetown for a fist. North of it, Cape Ann is hardly more than a snub nose poking into the Atlantic. Cape Cod is pitch pines, swelling dunes, generous beaches Cape Ann is rock, oak, more rock, and a million tidal estuaries, home to egrets, spawning fish, and, in the days of Prohibition, bootleggers too. Many of its beaches show up on road maps—Good Harbor, Pavilion, Half Moon—but just as many anonymously await discovery by anyone willing to risk a stubbed toe along a stony path through woods or fields.

Cape Ann locals call their home, with not an ounce of regret, “the other Cape.” They live amid 300 years of hardscrabble history, much of it still in evidence. To everyone’s satisfaction, that history shows no signs of being layered over by strip malls, theme parks, or designer outlets.

Route 127 meanders absent-mindedly around Cape Ann. Turn off to the left or right and you risk a No Outlet sign—if you’re lucky. Otherwise, with no warning, the blacktop just peters out, and your car noses down with a sigh into sand, dune grass, and bayberry. In this part of the world it’s not the land but the sea that predominates. Its vapor salts your eyelashes and, sharp and briny, heady as rum, fills your lungs. On Cape Ann, anywhere on Cape Ann, you see, smell, or hear the ocean. There seems, in fact, to be no inland at all, just lots of ragged, rocky coastline.

The novelist John Updike, a Pennsylvanian self-transplanted to the Massachusetts coast, wrote, “One New England town looks much like another—white spire, green common, struggling little downtown—but they are different from one another, and their citizens know the difference.” Was he alluding to Cape Ann’s quartet of towns, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Gloucester, Rockport, and Essex? Though they lie within a Sunday stroll of one another, they remain as distinct as buttons in a child’s counting game: Yachtsman, Fisherman, Artist, Boatman.

Manchester’s slightly pretentious by-the-Sea was officially added in 1990, supposedly to distinguish it from the 30 other Manchesters scattered across the country from Maine to California. In 1630 the ship Arbella , out of Cowes, England, carried the charter for the Massachusetts Bay Colony across the sea to Manchester. This was a first. All previous charters had been kept in England on the assumption that the safety of such valuable documents could not be assured in the wilderness. The arrival of the charter conferred on Manchester a standing that endures to this day, reflected in the town’s tidy streets and unmistakable air of civility. For all the talk of summer tourism, Manchester’s 5,600 or so residents tend to stand aloof. The center of town is handsome but brief, with no slack cut for Ramadas or Marriotts. You’ll even search in vain for a bed-and-breakfast. On the other hand, the town meeting scrupulously fills the offices of Fence Viewers, Pound Keeper, Measurers of Wood and Bark, and Field Drivers every year, just as it has for more than two centuries.

In the beginning, Manchester made its living from fishing after the American Revolution, furniture making became the main business. By the 1860s, the town had some 160 expert cabinetmakers. They developed and perfected the art of wood veneering, but unfortunately no one thought to patent the process, and in a very few years it had been copied around the world. Superb examples of this work can still be found in a handful of Cape Ann homes as well as in Trask House, the museum and nerve center for the Manchester Historical Society.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the railroad reached Manchester and gave the town a whole new identity as a stylish summer colony. Word spread to the nation’s capital, and soon half the diplomatic corps was fleeing the brutal Potomac summer for the tonic breezes of Manchester. In 1871 Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, the great-grandson of the third President, bought a dramatically beautiful piece of Manchester’s ocean-front and built the first of a succession of family summer homes. Today, the beauty of that property, with its beach, forest, and wetlands, has been assured by the establishment in 1992 of the Coolidge Reservation. It is open to the public but only on a very limited basis and with strict rules about parking, picnicking, and ocean swimming.

Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream, in a yellow shoebox of a building on Beach Street, and the lovely expanse of Singing Beach just a bit farther along are definitely more welcoming. But drive past the old slate-roofed, shingle or stone summer residences, half-hidden in the woodlands off Old Neck Road and along the leafy lanes that wander beachward, and you’ll see that privacy is a most treasured attribute. DON’T ENTER, DEAD END , and PRIVATE WAY read the neatly lettered signs tacked to tree trunks, nailed to stakes, hung on fence rails. Driveway mailboxes bear neither name nor number: The mailman knows who’s who so do the people who live here.

Perhaps the best summation of Manchester-by-the-Sea is Crosby’s Market, the town’s deluxe food store, conveniently located by the train station. There, every Friday afternoon, Nina Vickers drives over from Salem, 15 miles away, to play her harp for the pleasure of customers as they stroll the aisles, laying in their weekend supplies of smoked salmon, fresh asparagus, and cut flowers. Her repertoire includes Handel, Vivaldi, and Bach, seasonal favorites, and plenty of Broadway show tunes.

A scant 10 miles down the road from Manchester, the Fishermen’s Memorial, on Gloucester’s Western Avenue, presents a bronze mariner in foul-weather gear at the wheel of his vessel, personifying virtues Americans like to think of as part of their national heritage: courage, strength, and endurance in the face of the elements. The inscription on the statue’s base is taken from the 107th Psalm: “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.” This famous American statue was the work of an Englishman, Leonard Crask. Commissioned for Gloucester’s tricentennial in 1923, it has been an irresistible perch for gulls and a magnet for tourists, who pose in front of it, their faces toward the eastern horizon. Crask’s opus will soon have a partner. A committee is planning a 12-foot-high Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Memorial, also cast in bronze, a barefoot figure with an infant in arms, a second child clutching at her wind-whipped skirts, gazing forever out to the sea from which her man may or may not return.

Gloucester was settled by fishermen in 1623 and has depended on fishing ever since. The industry has been sometimes ruinous, often lucrative, but always and always fraught with danger. Over the centuries, this small town has lost more than 10,000 men at sea. In 1862 a single storm sent 120 Gloucester fishermen to the bottom with their vessels. In 1879, 249 sons, husbands, and fathers, fishermen all, perished at sea. The Fishermen’s Memorial is an eloquent reminder of so many tragic deaths. But in this day of high-tech everything, how relevant is that stalwart mariner? Is he not something of an anachronism? An eloquent answer can be found up the road at the Cape Ann Marina Resort, where four flags fly over a granite monument whose inscription reads:

Gloucester’s fishing industry is winding down. More than 50 years ago, nine and a half million pounds of fish were caught in a single week today cod, haddock, flounder, mackerel, bass, blues, swordfish, and tuna, once plentiful, have been fished to perilously low levels. Experts confer ceaselessly about how to rectify the situation, but any answer apart from a total ban on fishing has yet to surface.

All along the harbor, where gulls squawk from every roof ridge, each doorway seems to open into a business, large or small, affiliated with fishing. There’s Gloucester Marine Railways, where boats are hauled up out of the water for repairs. There’s Cape Pond Ice, whose workers wear T-shirts proclaiming them “The Coolest Guys Around.” Before heading out, fishing boats without icemaking machines take on tons of ice in which to pack the catch. Gorton’s of Gloucester is still processing the fish that made its codfish cakes a New England staple. Chandlers, sailmakers, charter agents, and marine-equipment outlets also endure, reminders that Gloucester is a one-note town, and that note, for better or worse, is fishing.

Of course there’s lobstering, though the take is but a fraction of what it was even 20 years ago. And there’s whale watching, a Johnny-come-lately moneymaker that capitalizes on the presence, only 10 miles offshore, of a reliable summer population of finback, right, and humpback whales. Throughout the summer a small flotilla of boats prowls the shallow waters that cover the Stellwagen Bank, a favorite feeding spot for whales, and the behemoths can be relied on to show themselves.

In 1896 Rudyard Kipling summered in Gloucester. He walked its wharves, drank its grog, and listened endlessly to fishermen’s tales. He wove what he saw, heard, and imagined into Captains Courageous , fiction and wholly improbable, published in 24 languages and never out of print. A century later, Sebastian Junger walked the same wharves, drank in the same taverns, and wrote The Perfect Storm .

Junger’s story was fact, not fiction. The storm he described in such frightening detail was actually three separate disturbances that converged in the North Atlantic in October 1991. Winds in excess of 100 miles per hour and waves as high as 65 feet tossed boats around like bathtub toys. The town of Gloucester was battered beyond anything even the old-timers could recall. Inland ponds overflowed with seawater. The sea ripped out huge chunks of roadway along Ocean Drive. Houses that for decades had sat high, dry, and safe atop their pilings toppled and were swept away. The storm sent Gloucester’s Andrea Gail , a 70-foot fishing vessel with a welded steel-plate hull, to the bottom, along with her crew of six. No one survived.

On clear summer days all the beaches—Good Harbor, Niles, Half Moon, and Cressy—overflow with a mix of old and young that has long attracted the attention of artists. Winslow Homer, John Sloan, Edward Hopper, Fitz Hugh Lane, and Childe Hassam all did some of their finest work in Gloucester, and, thanks to the Cape Ann Historical Museum, some of their paintings have been kept in Gloucester, where, as the museum’s director, Judith McCulloch, says, “they really belong.” The museum itself is a small masterpiece that lovingly preserves and skillfully displays the town’s storm-wracked history.

Just two streets west of the historical museum, the Sargent House Museum, built right after the American Revolution, exhibits Early American furnishings, portraits, textiles, and domestic memorabilia that would be the envy of many urban collections. The house was built for Judith Sargent Murray, a very early feminist. Her husband, the Reverend John Murray, founded the nation’s first Universalist church, in 1779. Now known as the Independent Christian Church, Unitarian Universalist, it continues as a hive of community activity exactly as it has for the past 200 years.

As in most seafaring towns, Gloucester’s finest houses, those of ship captains and merchants, faced the water. The poor and the luckless lived in Dogtown, a few hundred acres of upland woods that once were dotted with shanties built from fallen trees, driftwood, and odds and ends salvaged from winter beaches. The shanties have long since returned to the earth all that remain are their caved-in cellars, where bracken thrives. In the spring, the woods are filled with the busyness of warblers, wood thrushes, ovenbirds, and woodpeckers. Dogtown, overgrown, bypassed by time, annually produces two prodigious crops: blueberries and rocks. The former are smaller than the supermarket variety and infinitely tastier. The latter come in all sizes and colors, heaved up by winter frosts from some inexhaustible subterranean inventory.

Gloucester residents in search of a last-minute quart of ice cream or carton of milk can manage quite nicely at any of several mom-and-pop stores in the center of town, but serious shoppers with lists head out on Railroad Avenue to the Gloucester Star Market, a favorite stocking-up stop for fishermen about to put to sea. The fishermen are easy enough to spot. They wear jeans or bib overalls year-round, T-shirts and tattoos in summer, and pea jackets or heavy black-and-red flannel shirts in winter. They speed in an efficient way up and down the narrow aisles, weaving deftly in and out among the housewives and the elderly. Because fishermen at sea have no appetite for fish, they load up on steaks, hot dogs, sausage, pizza, lasagna, bacon, eggs, ice cream, cigarettes, and chocolate-coated anything. Often they shove several thousand dollars’ worth of provisions through the checkout aisle before dumping it all in the back of a pickup and heading for the docks. Nobody plays the harp for them.

Follow Route 127 or 127A northeast out of Gloucester and you’ll quickly find yourself in Rockport, a tiny community only a quarter of Gloucester’s size. Nowadays, Rockport finds its civic identity in its many ties with the world of the arts. It is home to the Rockport Art Association, founded some 70 years ago, the Windhover Performing Arts Center, and the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, bespeaking wide local support and enthusiasm for a spectrum of creative effort summer is one long round of music festivals, plays, and art-gallery galas.

Rockport’s shoreline is as jagged as any on the Atlantic seaboard snapped taut, it might well stretch south to the mouth of the Hudson. High tides pour inland along the thousands of estuaries, rivulets, and fissures that edge the coast, and what was open ocean this morning is a briny haven for mussels, clams, and skittering crabs this afternoon. Wading birds stalk the shallows on twiggy legs, their beaks darting at secret morsels.

Long past are the moonless nights when Chris Craft motorboats glided in from the deep to offload cases of hooch from Canada onto pickup trucks. Those boats were, oddly enough, landing in a place where prohibition was nothing new. It had been established in 1856—and remains, locally, to this day. If the 1920s made Rockport infamous, what had first made it famous was the granite blasted from its quarries, which was of such fine quality that it was specified by architects all over the United States. You can see it in municipal buildings in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington. Indeed, it gave the town its name. From the early 1800s until just before World War I, quarrying provided steady revenue and year-round employment, but with the advent of reinforced concrete, the quarries began to close. Today, most of them are privately owned. Some are used as water sources all are off-limits to swimmers, though that has never discouraged local kids from trying.

Of Cape Ann’s four towns, Essex is the least populous, with fewer than 4,000 year-round residents. A casual observer on Main Street could be forgiven for concluding that the town begins and ends with browsing for antiques and eating clams, but in fact more two-masted boats have been built there than anywhere else on earth. Shipbuilding began in Essex early in the seventeenth century, and by the 1850s more than 15 yards were operating full tilt in town. In a single three-year period from 1850 to 1853, 169 completed vessels were launched into the Essex River and thence put out to sea.

The tradition and art of wooden-boatbuilding remain vigorous in Essex. Two local families, the Storys and the Burnhams, have been in the trade for more than 300 years. Today, they specialize in pleasure craft, and along the tricky currents of the Essex River, kayaks, Sunfish, and outboards far outnumber fishing boats.

In 1976 the town opened the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, just in time to prevent centuries-old tools and techniques from sliding beneath the waters of oblivion. Today, the museum, in conjunction with the Essex Historical Society, operates a year-round program of lectures and hands-on projects. Directly behind it lies the town’s cemetery. A sign bearing the date 1680, hand-painted in large print, hangs from its gate. Within resides an assortment of mossy, often tilted headstones, their inscriptions gentled by the years into near-extinction. A bit of searching will reveal the grave of John Wise, who is considered by every resident of Cape Ann to be the founder of American democracy. It was he who in 1687 publicly proclaimed, in protesting a newly levied British duty, that “taxation without representation is tyranny.”

In the steeple of the town’s Congregational church hangs one of the few surviving bells cast by Paul Revere in his foundry in Boston’s North End. It weighs 827 pounds and owes its exceptional musical tone to the enthusiasm of the townspeople, who in the 1790s contributed silver dollars, silver teaspoons, and jewelry to be melted down and stirred into Revere’s cauldrons.

Cape Ann’s quartet of towns, distinctive as they are one from another, share a bond that forever trumps their disparities. Each in its own manner looks to the sea for its well-being, its economic survival, and, in ways not easily defined, its spiritual fortitude. That was true 300 years ago and will doubtless be no less true 300 years hence.

Mục lục

Với tên ban đầu là Willapa Bay, con tàu được đặt lườn tại xưởng tàu của hãng Todd Pacific Shipyards ở Tacoma, Washington vào tháng 11 năm 1943. Nó được đổi tên thành Cape Gloucester vào ngày 26 tháng 4 năm 1944 trước khi được hạ thủy vào ngày 12 tháng 9 năm 1944 được đỡ đầu bởi bà R. M. Griffin, và nhập biên chế vào ngày 5 tháng 3 năm 1945 dưới quyền chỉ huy của Hạm trưởng, Đại tá Hải quân J. W. Harris.

Sau khi hoàn tất huấn luyện hoạt động tại Trân Châu Cảng, Cape Gloucester lên đường hướng sang khu vực chiến sự, đi đến Leyte, Philippines vào ngày 29 tháng 6, 1945, nơi nó gia nhập Đệ tam Hạm đội. Tham gia trận Okinawa, máy bay tiêm kích của nó đã hoạt động tuần tra chiến đấu trên không (CAP) để ngăn chặn những cuộc tấn công tự sát Kamikaze nhắm vào các tàu quét mìn hoạt động về phía Đông Okinawa từ ngày 5 đến ngày 17 tháng 7. Sau đó nó tham gia hoạt động không kích và trinh sát hình ảnh tàu bè và sân bay dọc theo bờ biển Trung Quốc cho đến ngày 7 tháng 8. Trong giai đoạn này, máy bay của nó đã bắn rơi nhiều máy bay đối phương và trợ giúp vào việc gây hư hại một tàu chở hàng tải trọng 700 tấn.

Sau một giai đoạn bảo vệ cho hoạt động quét mìn dọc theo bờ biển Nhật Bản, và chỉ hai tuần sau khi diễn ra lễ ký kết chính thức văn kiện đầu hàng trên thiết giáp hạm Missouri (BB-63) vào ngày 2 tháng 9, Cape Gloucester đi đến Nagasaki, đưa mọi máy bay lên bờ để chuẩn bị tham gia Chiến dịch Magic Carpet. Đây là hoạt động vận chuyển để giúp hồi hương những tù binh chiến tranh Đồng Minh khỏi các trại tập trung ở Kyūshū. Nó lên đường đi Okinawa, đưa những cựu tù binh lên bờ, và sau đó thực hiện bốn chuyến đi khứ hồi để giúp hồi hương những cựu chiến binh đã hoàn thành nghĩa vụ từ Okinawa và Trân Châu Cảng về vùng bờ Tây.

Cape Gloucester đi đến Tacoma, Washington vào ngày 22 tháng 5, 1946, nơi nó được cho xuất biên chế vào ngày 5 tháng 11, 1946. Đang khi trong thành phần dự bị, con tàu được xếp lại lớp như một tàu sân bay trực thăng CVHE-109 vào ngày 12 tháng 6, 1955, rồi như một tàu vận chuyển máy bay AKV-9 vào ngày 7 tháng 5, 1959. Tuy nhiên con tàu không bao giờ hoạt động trở lại tên nó được rút khỏi danh sách Đăng bạ Hải quân vào ngày 1 tháng 4, 1971, và nó bị bán để tháo dỡ sau đó.

Cape Gloucester được trao tặng một Ngôi sao Chiến đấu do thành tích phục vụ trong Thế Chiến II.

MRC: Jesse Davis USS Cape Gloucester

Jessie Lee Davis was a son-in-law of John & Kizzie (Comer) Littrell, husband of Leatha Mae Littrell (Davis). He served aboard the Carrier Escort USS Cape Gloucester during World War II.

We have very little information on the service of Jessie during WW II other than what was past down as oral history. We are in need of additional information. Obviously any military records are crucial, but even the most insignificant memory, picture, or document would be of help. Please click this link for more information on how you can contribute to this serviceperson’s or any service person’s history: MRC: Putting Together Individual Histories of Service.

UPDATE: 5-31-2018:

UPDATE: 5-28-2018

Recently discovered World War II Draft Registration Card for Jessie Lee Davis:

The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri St. Louis, Missouri WWII Draft Registration Cards for Missouri, 10/16/1940 - 03/31/1947 Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147 Box: 77

see Crew Roster below for other updates to this article

ORIGINAL POST: 5-17-2018

The USS Cape Gloucester (name changed from Willapa Bay on 26 April 1944) was launched on 12 September 1944, commissioned on 5 March 1945, and reported to the Pacific Fleet.

The Cape Gloucester arrived at Leyte , Philippine Islands on 29 June 1945 to join the 3rd Fleet engaged in the Battle of Okinawa. Arriving as the battle was concluding the USS Cape Gloucester's planes flew combat air patrol fighting off Japanese kamikazes attempting to attack minesweepers operating east of Okinawa from 5󈝽 July. They then took part in air raids and photographic reconnaissance of shipping and airfields along the China coast until 7 August. During this time, her aircraft shot down several Japanese planes, and aided in damaging a 700-ton cargo ship.

After a period covering minesweeping along the Japanese coasts, and just two weeks after the Japanese formally surrendered, the Cape Gloucester sailed into Nagasaki, stripped of her planes, to serve as an early participant in the celebrated “Magic Carpet” fleet that returned thousands of ragged and half-starved prisoners of war from Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Holland, together with a handful of Americans, to their homes. Many of these POWs were from prison camps on Kyūshū . In that role, Cape Gloucester sailed to Okinawa to unload the allied POWs, and made four voyages returning U.S. servicemen from Okinawa and Pearl Harbor to the west coast.

USS Cape Gloucester (CVE-109) underway off the U.S. West Coast in 1945. USN photo.

On a website for the USS Tyron I found a conversation that relates to the USS Gloucester and Operation Magic Carpet.

“My Dad was captured in Singapore and sent to work on the Burma/Siam railway, after this he was railed back to Singapore and shipped to Japan on the Rakuyo Maru, torpedoed by USS Sealion, rescued by the Japanese and continued to Japan to be interned in Fukoka 25b Branch Camp in Omuta near Nagasaki. After the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki the war ended and then he was liberated by the Americans (he was British). To my knowledge he sailed from Nagasaki to Okinawa on the USS Cape Gloucester and then sailed from Okinawa (45.09.21??) via Manila, Ulithi Atoll and Hawaii en route to San Francisco. Then on to New York and back home on the Queen Mary…”

“…I am not 100% sure my Dad sailed to San Francisco aboard the Tryon. What I am sure of is that two other British POWs that were in the same camp as him were sent from Nagasaki to Okinawa on the Aircraft Carrier Cape Gloucester and then transferred to the Tryon some days later. With regard to the route, yes I am sure of this. I have a had written note from my Dad showing all the ‘ports of call’ from when he left England. This was written by him not long after he returned to England so I believe this is correct. The sailing date of Tryon from Okinawa is from the other two pow accounts. However I have found that many of these dates are inaccurate and can only be used as a guide…” from the son (David M.) of Sgt. Harold Madderson 848338, 135 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery

  • USS Cape Gloucester – Nagasaki to Okinawa
  • “…transcription of the POW Diary of Fred Parham: “Left Nagasaki on U.S.S Gloucester (aircraft carrier)”

By October 1945, Magic Carpet was operating worldwide with the Army, Navy and WSA pooling their resources to expedite the troop-lift. December 1945 became the peak month with almost 700,000 returning home from the Pacific. With the final arrival of 29 troop transports carrying more than 200,000 soldiers and sailors from the China-Burma-India theater in April 1946, Operation Magic Carpet came to its end. The last of the troops to return from the Pacific war zone (127,300) arrived home in September 1946. [4]

Within a month of the end of Operation Magic Carpet the escort carrier USS Cape Gloucester returned to Tacoma, Wash., 22 May 1946, and was placed out of commission in reserve there on 5 November 1946

USS Cape Gloucester (CVE-109)underway in 1945. By USN - U.S. Navy bureau of Ships photo 19-N-92916 from, Public Domain,

  • Dale, Paul: Hemet, CA
  • Beauregard,Robert: Leominster, MA
  • Davis, Jesse: East Prairie, MO
  • Carry Orcarrie: Newberryport, MA
  • Cummings, Alvin: Omaha, NE
  • Defenbaugh, Robert: Bardstown, IL**
  • Rapp, Albert: Tacoma, WA
  • Peat, Robert: North Hollywood, CA
  • Runyan, Vernon: Was K.C., Mo
  • Wolford, Charles: Omaha, NE
  • Vanfossen, Dean: Smyrna, OH
  • Hager, Lloyd: Duluth, MN**
  • Smallwood, Ken: Miamisburg, OH
  • Greenia, Fredrick Henry: Louisville, KY
  • Hayes, Paul: Dillon, SC**
  • Gregg, James: Harrisburg, PA
  • Morrow, Robert: Oconto Falls, WI

Obviously there are many more crew members than the above list(1066 officers and men). Those listed above have been registered on the website by themselves or their families.

**I have sent inquiries to all the above. The following are responses received from them to date:

as of 5-18-2018

“My father Lloyd John Hager (dec) served aboard the USS CAPE GLOUCHESTER (CVE-109) in 1944-45. He was an electricians mate (EM). Before joining the ship he went to boot camp in Idaho and aviation electricians training in Florida. Given the crew of over a 1000 it is unlikely he knew your uncle. Other than information about the ship and its activities which can be found on numerous websites (use correct full name above to search) the only information I can add is that he once told me that the ship held boxing matches in the hanger bay in which he participated.
Note: the CAPE GLOUCHESTER was only in commission from late 1944 until decommissioned in 1946 so your uncle was probably onboard during that period. Dennis L Hager, CAPT USN (ret)”

“I am writing in reference to My Fathers assignment on CVE-109 towards end of WWII. He is still alive and has some pics and a book on CVE-109. Whether or not they were active at same time you would have to contact him for that info. I registered him on this site long time ago but he does not use computer. His name is Robert G. Defenbaugh. He was a Gunners Mate and they were in Nagasaki area after bomb drop. You could give him a call for any info you might be able to acquire. He is located in Central Illinois telephone xxx-xxx-xxxx. Be aware he is hard of hearing, 90 years old and cantankerous. He loves to talk to anyone related to CVE-109. Please identify yourself when calling and I will let him know in advance of our contact. I believe he still may have contact with others from CVE-109. Not many left. Robert L. Defenbaugh”

“Dear Glenn, My father, Paul Hayes, USN passed away 5 years ago. He was a proud member of USS Cape Gloucester. The only information I have is that the ship sailed out of San Diego. I wish I had more information to help you in your search. Blessings, From Donnie Hayes, Vicar Christ Church Florence, SC”


The Gloucester was commissioned late in the war on 3-5-1945 and decommissioned 11-5-1946. After the war It was later repurposed as a Helicopter Carrier (CVHE-109, then a Cargo Ship and Aircraft Ferry (AKV-9) and sold for scrap in 1971.

USS Cape Gloucester (CVE-109) anchored in mid-stream at Nagasaki, waiting to take aboard liberated Allied prisoners of war. Photographed by Private First Class L.F. DeRycke, 5 September 1945. Official U.S. Marine Corps Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), # 127-GW-1643-138641.

The Gloucester was a Commencement Bay-Class escort carrier built specifically for WWII.
The escort carrier or escort aircraft carrier (US hull classification symbol CVE) was a small and slow type of aircraft carrier used in World War II. They were typically half the length and a third the displacement of larger fleet carriers. While they were slower, carried fewer planes and were less well armed and armored, escort carriers were cheaper and could be built quickly, which was their principal advantage. However, the lack of protection made escort carriers particularly vulnerable and several were sunk with great loss of life.
Escort carriers were too slow to keep up with the main forces consisting of fleet carriers, battleships, and cruisers. Instead, they were used to escort convoys, defending them from enemy threats such as submarines and planes. In the invasions of mainland Europe and Pacific islands, escort carriers provided air support to ground forces during amphibious operations. Escort carriers also served as backup aircraft transports for fleet carriers and ferried aircraft of all military services to points of delivery.

Note: After operational training at Pearl Harbor,

Note: The navy hastily converted many of its warships into temporary transports, including aircraft carriers, where three-to five-tiered bunks were installed on the hangar decks to provide accommodation for several thousand men in relative comfort. The navy fleet of 369 ships included 222 assault transports, 6 battleships, 18 cruisers, 57 aircraft carriers and 12 hospital ships.[4]

CVE-109 U.S.S. Cape Gloucester - History

donated by Charles Fitch

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CVE-109 U.S.S. Cape Gloucester - History

The San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum
U.S.S. Midway

History of U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers

As you board the carrier you will enter the below-deck hanger bay. There you will see a display that has the history of the various types of aircraft carriers that have served the U.S. Navy through the years. The history of each class of carrier is detailed in a series of placards at the display. That information is presented below.


They called her "The Covered Wagon" and like her name-sake prairie schooner she would carry a bold new breed of pioneers -- the men who would serve in U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.

America's first aircraft carrier was converted from the navy collier, USS Jupiter AC3 and re-commissioned as USS Langley CV1 on March 20, 1922 under the command of Commander Kenneth Whiting. Naval Aviator No. 16. Langley had all electric propulsion. A speed of 15 knots. Was 542' long. Beam 65'. Draft 18'. And displacement of 11,500 tons.

Langley now embarked on a training period -- officers and crew had to learn the many new procedures relating to handling aircraft on board ship. The first carrier take-off was made by LCDR Godfrey Chevalier on October 26, 1922.

After a two year training period on the east coast, Langley was assigned to the Pacific battle fleet at San Diego on November 29, 1924. On January 22, 1925 VF Squadron 2, the first unit trained to operate from an aircraft carrier reported on board as Langley was underway off San Diego. As the first Navy carrier, Langley was the scene of numerous momentous events. The 1928 fleet battle exersize was to include a surprise air attack on Hawaii. Planes from the Langley surprised the Honolulu military installations by swooping in and dropping "flour" bombs on their unsuspecting heads. (sound familiar?) In December 1931 Langley conducted nine days of cold weather tests of deck gear, aircraft and protective flight clothing off the New England coast. On July 30, 1935 Lt. Frank Akers made the first carrier instrument landing -- taking off from NAS San Diego in an OJ-2 with his cockpit completely hooded he located the ship and landed on board.

Laid down as battle cruisers, their design was changed to aircraft carriers under terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, they were the largest carriers in the world until near the end of WWII. Both ships were launched in 1925 and were the first fleet carriers in the navy. As such they (along with Ranger) were instrumental in training, developing procedures, and doctrine for the fleet air arm.

During WWII Saratoga was torpedoed on 11 Jan 1942 and was out of action for several months. Lexington took part and was present at the first carrier vs. carrier battle in the Coral Sea 8 May 1942. She took several bomb hits which started fires that forced her to be abandoned. Lexington was the first American carrier lost in the war.

The keel for the USS Ranger was laid September 26, 1931 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, Newport News, Virginia. She was launched February 25, 1933, under sponsorship of Mrs. Herbert Hoover, and commissioned at Norfolk Navy Yard June 4, 1934, under the command of Capt. Arthur L. Bristol.

Ranger had a standard displacement of 14,500 tons, length 769 feet, and beam 86 feet. Normal complement 1788. Powered by geared turbines driving twin screws giving a speed pf 30 knots. Armament was 86 aircraft and eight 5" dual purpose guns.

Air operations began off Cape Henry on August 6, 1934 embarking squadrons VB-3B, BG-1 Great Lakes VS-1B, SU-1, Vought VB-5B, BF-2C-1 Curtiss and VF-3B, F4-B4, Boeing. In 1939 she sailed to the west coast to operate with carriers Langley, Lexington and Saratoga, in 1939 returned to the Atlantic where she engaged in pilot training, submarine patrols, and the neutrality patrols which earned her the right to a large "A" on their Atlantic Defense ribbon, and honor given to relatively few.

The start of the war saw more antisubmarine patrols until the preparations for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. On April 2, 1942 USS Ranger got underway with a cargo of U.S. Army P-40 planes and pilots proceeding via Trinidad to the Gold Coast of Africa where the P-40's flew to Accura. Three more such trips were made.

During Operation Torch, on November 8, 1942, at Casablanca, Ranger launched 203 flights between sunrise and sunset. To quote a high ranking Admiral, "The outstanding performance of the Ranger and Ranger Air Group on Sunday, November 8, 1942 surpasses any achievement by a carrier and her Group".

Among her wartime accomplishments:
She was the first American Aircraft Carrier to cross the Arctic Circle in both the Atlantic and Pacific. While operating with the British Fleet, the Ranger was the first American carrier to raid German shipping in Norway. In fact she was the only American carrier to operate against German occupied Europe.

She engaged in intense training activities such as on May 15, 1945, when 480 landings were made. This performance evoked a special letter of commendation from Admiral A. E. Montgomery, USN, Commander Fleet Air, West Coast, who as a matter of interest, was Ranger's fifth commanding officer. Concerning her activities, a message to the ship from a very high ranking Admiral said that although Ranger never engaged the enemy in the Pacific she sent more destruction to the Japanese than any carrier afloat.

In late 1945 Ranger sailed back to the east coast to celebrate Navy Day in New Orleans and then to a shipyard for repairs after which she resumed training operations. The Ranger received no damage by any enemy, although German submarines fired torpedoes at her and reported her sunk.

By V-J Day, USS Ranger had totaled 77,906 landings, for her entire career she had over 85,000 landings.

These three ships, USS Yorktown, USS Enterprise, and USS Hornet are probably the most famous carriers in US Naval history. With the Saratoga and Lexington, they engaged the Japanese and stopped their advance in the crucial first year of the war.

Enlarged and improved Rangers, they displaced about 20,000 tons and carried up to 100 aircraft.

Hornet is most famous for launching the B-25 Army bombers in the Doolittle raid on Tokyo 18 April 1942. Yorktown, along with Lexington, was present at the first carrier vs. carrier battle in history, 8 May 1942 at Coral Sea. She received bomb damage but was able to return to Pearl Harbor. With only the most crucial repairs completed she, along with Enterprise and Hornet, sailed out to meet the Japanese thrust aimed at Midway Island. It was the air groups of these three ships that on 4 June 1942 destroyed the entire enemy carrier fleet and won the Battle of Midway. It was the decisive battle of WWII in the Pacific. Yorktown was lost in that battle, sunk by a Japanese submarine on 7 June.

Enterprise & Hornet took part in the other major air battles of 1942 (Santa Cruz & Eastern Solomons) Enterprise was damaged in both and Hornet was lost 26 Oct. 1942 at Santa Cruz.

The ships that were to carry the war to the Japanese from 1943 onward, were enlarged and improved Yorktowns. They had a standard displacement of around 27,000 tons, an overall length of 874 ft. (later ships 888 ft.) and carrier up to 100 aircraft.

There were two variants in this class, U.S.S. Oriskany and later ships had a modified island structure. Most were modernized in the years after the war, with, among other things, angled decks and enclosed bows. They were used for various duties in their later years.

Fast, versatile and very rugged, these ships entered service in 1943 and soon made up most of the offensive force of the Pacific Fleet which between 1944 and 1945 had become overwhelmingly powerful. Essex class ships showed a remarkable ability to survive severe damage and although many were hit, none were lost. U.S.S. Franklin and U.S.S. Bunker Hill notably survived multiple Kamikaze hits, yet were able to return to port.

The U.S.S. Midway was the first of a class of three ships that were designed during WWII with lessons learned from the early war years. In addition to an increase is size over the essex class, these ships carried greater anti aircraft armament and had armored flight decks. Originally designated CVB's it was changed to CVA's as were all front line carriers in 1952.

Originally displacing about 45,000 tons standard and at 968 ft overall, they were commissioned too late for war service. All three underwent extensive modernization during the period of 1954-1959. The changes included angled decks, steam catapults, and enclosed bows. U.S.S. Coral Sea was changed to a greater extent than her sisters and emerged from refitting with a different appearance. Displacement was now 62,000 to 64,000 tons standard.

The U.S.S. Forrestal was the first of the post war "supercarriers" and represented a major increase in size and capacity over wartime designs. These ships incorporated all the latest innovations such as much wider elevators, and steam catapults.

There are two distinct sub types in the class. Forrestal, Saratoga, Ranger & Independence had the island structure ahead of the second and third portside elevators while Constellation, Kitty Hawk, America and John F. Kennedy had the island dehind No. 2 portside elevator giving a distinctly different silhouette appearance. The first four also carried eight 5" guns that were later removed.

The U.S.S. John F. Kennedy is sufficiently different to be considered by some as a separate class.

In March 1942, under the war emergency program, nine cleveland class light cruisers then under construction, were redesignated as aircraft carriers.

The U.S.S. Independence (CVL 22) was launched on 22 Aug. 1942 at New York Shipbuilding. These ships, designated CVL 22-30 were highly successful as conversions as they had the high speed to operate with the fleet carriers. They were smaller than Essex class ships, (11,000 tons vs. 27,100 tons) and typically carried only 45 aircraft (Essex class carrier up to 100).

These ships all entered service in 1943 and participated in all Pacific fleet operations throughout the rest of the war.

On 24 Oct. 1944, during the preliminaries to Leyte Gulf operation, third fleet was attacked by Japanese land based air and U.S.S. Princeton sustained major damage and was lost. She was the only fleet carrier lost by the Navy after 1942.

All of this class rendered excellent service and several suffered damage to some extent.

The U.S.S. ENTERPRISE was the first large surface ship to be powered by nuclear propulsion. While somewhat larger than the Forrestal class ships, she has vastly greater capacities. Able to steam for five years without refueling and built to carry twice the aviation gas, she can operate with much greater freedom than oil fired ships. This ship embodied many other advances in such areas as radar, electronic capabilities and aircraft handling.

While the last two Forrestal class ships were completed after Enterprise, she served as the prototype for the Nimitz class that followed.

Displacing 75,700 tons standard, and being 1,102 feet long, Enterprise can steam at high speeds (perhaps up to 35 knots) without regard for fuel comsumption.

On December 7, 1941, America had only 7 aircraft carriers in the entire fleet. They were the Lexington, Saratoga, Enterprise, Hornet, Yorktown, Ranger, and the Wasp.

Due to the expense and time required to build these large aircraft carriers, it was decided to build smaller aircraft carriers, to be designated as "escort carriers." This program would free-up large aircraft carriers to battle the Japanese. The pilots flying from these "escort carriers" would fly support missions for our island landing forces. In the Atlantic, the "escort carriers" would be used for air cover for allied convoys, as they battled the German U-boats.

In early 1942, Henry J. Kaiser discussed with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that his company could build these "escort carriers" on a "production line" basis. After a lengthly debate, President Roosevelt gave Mr. Kaiser the order to build fifty (50) new "escort carriers," to be known as "CVE's." The keel for the first of these 50 escort carriers was laid in November of 1942. This carrier was named the "Casablanca," after a port in French Morocco. The Casablanca was launched April 5, 1943, at the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co. Vancouver, Wash. Most of the other 49 carriers were named after bays or water-ways in Alaska.

These 50 Casablanca class escort carriers were quite small compared to the large carriers. They were only 512 feet long and 108 feet wide. The flight deck was 477 feet long and 80 feet wide. These "escort carriers" were manned by some 900 men. They carried approximately 20 FM-2's (very similar to F4F's), and 12 TBM's (formerly TBF's). Many of these small carriers saw combat in the following areas: Gilbert Islands Marshall Islands New Guinea Japan Philippine Sea Peleliu Island Leyte Gulf (the largest Naval battle in U.S. history) Iwo Jima and Okinowa.

The Nimitz class ships represent the latest and perhaps final design evolution of large aircraft carriers.

First designed in the 1950's these ships represent many improvements over their earlier sisters.

The Nimitz class embodies all the advantages that nuclear power offers and can operate over very long distances and for very long periods of time, enabling the United States to project power virtually anywhere in the world as needed.

Standard displacement is around 95,000 tons, length aproximately 1,100 feet and flight deck area is about 4.5 acres.

The pressing need for air cover for Atlantic convoys to protect them from the U-boat menace led to the development of escort carriers (CVE). The earliest were converted from merchant ship hulls. The U.S.S. Long Island (CVE-1) displaced 11,300 tons and carried about 20 aircraft.

Their utility was soon apparent and they were used for a variety of purposes: supporting landings, supplying the fleet carriers and island bases with aircraft, as well as anti-submarine warfare.

The Long Island was converted from S.S Mormacmail and had short flight deck and no island. U.S.S. Charger (CVE-30) ex S.S. Rio De La Plata, was similar but with a small island.

Bogue class CVE's were converted from C-3 type merchant hulls. Similar to the Long Island, they were 9,800 tons. 495 feet long and carried 21 aircraft.

Block Island, Bogue, Card, Core, and Croatan operated in the Atlantic on anti-submarine duty. The others served in the Pacific. U.S.S. Block Island was lost to a U-boat torpedo, 29 May 1944.

In order to give realistic carrier landing & take off training to pilots, two paddle wheel excursion steamers operated on the Great Lakes were hurriedly converted into training aircraft carriers during 1942. They were stripped of their superstructure and a flight deck was installed. There was no hanger deck and planes were flown to and from shore bases around the Great Lakes each day.

The ships differed somewhat in details and size but each were both approximately 510 feet in length.

Crew Bunkroom

When built in World War II, the Midway was the largest warship afloat. Capable of housing more than 3,700 men, the Navy still complained about how cramped the living conditions were on board. Eventually, more than 4,500 men were embarked on a ship whose displacement grew by more than a third.

These bunks, or racks in naval parlance, are standard for enlisted personnel in the Fleet. Each sailor has only six cubic feet of stowage under his matress in the "coffin locker" as well as less than three cubic feet in a standing locker.

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Product Description

USS Cape Gloucester CVE 109

"Personalized" Canvas Ship Print

(Not just a photo or poster but a work of art!)

Every sailor loved his ship. It was his life. Where he had tremendous responsibility and lived with his closest shipmates. As one gets older his appreciation for the ship and the Navy experience gets stronger. A personalized print shows ownership, accomplishment and an emotion that never goes away. It helps to show your pride even if a loved one is no longer with you. Every time you walk by the print you will feel the person or the Navy experience in your heart (guaranteed).

The image is portrayed on the waters of the ocean or bay with a display of her crest if available. The ships name is printed on the bottom of the print. What a great canvas print to commemorate yourself or someone you know who may have served aboard her.

The printed picture is exactly as you see it. The canvas size is 8"x10" ready for framing as it is or you can add an additional matte of your own choosing. If you would like a larger picture size (11"x 14") on a 13" X 19" canvas simply purchase this print then prior to payment purchase additional services located in the store category (Home) to the left of this page. This option is an additional $12.00. The prints are made to order. They look awesome when matted and framed.

We PERSONALIZE the print with "Name, Rank and/or Years Served" or anything else you would like it to state (NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE). It is placed just above the ships photo. After purchasing the print simply email us or indicate in the notes section of your payment what you would like printed on it. Example:

United States Navy Sailor
Proudly Served Sept 1963 - Sept 1967

This would make a nice gift and a great addition to any historic military collection. Would be fantastic for decorating the home or office wall.

The watermark "Great Naval Images" will NOT be on your print.

This photo is printed on Archival-Safe Acid-Free canvas using a high resolution printer and should last many years.

Because of its unique natural woven texture canvas offers a special and distinctive look that can only be captured on canvas. The canvas print does not need glass thereby enhancing the appearance of your print, eliminating glare and reducing your overall cost.

We guarantee you will not be disappointed with this item or your money back. In addition, We will replace the canvas print unconditionally for FREE if you damage your print. You would only be charged a nominal fee plus shipping and handling.

Check our feedback. Customers who have purchased these prints have been very satisfied.

Buyer pays shipping and handling. Shipping charges outside the US will vary by location.

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SS Harpagon sunk by U-109/Bleichrodt 150 miles from Bermuda, 8 survivors spent 34 days on a raft

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‘ Ajax’ Bleichrodt graduated in the crew of 1933 and was a Kapitänleutnant at the time, achieving Korvettenkapitän late in 1943. His decorations include the Knights Cross early in the war – in October 1940, followed by an addition of the Oak Leaves in September 1942 and the U-boat War Badge with Diamonds a month later. In January 1945 he was given the War Merit Cross Second Class with Swords. His total tonnage was an impressive 24 ships of 151,260 tons, plus a warship of 1,060 tons and two ships damaged for 11,684 GRT. U-109, on its fifth of nine patrols, was sailing from and to Lorient for the Second Flotilla. This patrol began on the 25th of March and ended on the 3rd of June.

Early in his career Bliechrodt served on both the Gorch Foch and the Admiral Hipper, moving to U-boats in October 1939. He also served as First Watch Officer (second in command) of U-564 under Teddy Suhren. In one patrol as commander of U-48 in 1940 he sank eight ships of 43,106 tons. Moving ashore in July 1943 he went on to command the 27th and 22nd training flotillas. He lived until 1977, passing away in Munich at the age of 67.

Watch the video: Aboard USS Cape Gloucester (May 2022).