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USS Philadelphia - 6th Anniversary

(In conformity with existing censorship regulations this document is not to pass out of the hands of U.S. Navy personnel until released at a later date.)



This special edition of the Press News, published on the sixth anniversary of the commissioning, of the U.S.S. PHILADELPHIA, is dedicated to no one individual. Rather it is dedicated to:

“The young boys who but a mere six or nine months ago were civilians pursuing their normal course of lives and who until the early part of June when they first reported on board this vessel for duty, had never stepped aboard a man-of-war.  Without battle experience, very little knowledge of the Navy and its customs, unfamiliar with even the fundamentals of life aboard ship, isolated with only their own shipmates, these new men comprising almost one-fifth, of the entire ship's company came through with banners flying and proved themselves capable under the extreme and intensive periods of two campaigns and worthy of the highest praise that could be bestowed upon them.” 

"To the older officers and men attached to this vessel for their untiring efforts and endeavors in molding these young men mentioned above into a fighting machine which proved itself capable of dealing with all opposition brought up against it. The task was believed to be a great one but the splendid spirit of cooperation on the part of all hands made it an easy one. 

“To the SHIP six years old today. She has served us well, met all demands and done it superbly.  That each and every men who had previously served aboard and is now serving on her had respect for its equipment and appurtenances can be found in the excellent condition of this vessel and the manner in which the ship was able to carry out its assigned duties.”

    Paul Hendren
Captain, U.S. Navy


U.S.S. Philadelphia


Rear Admiral Lyal A. Davidson, USN
Captain Paul Hendren, USN
Commander Gordon J. Crosby, USN
Written and edited by
Cover Design
Executive Officer
Ensign Joseph H. Babyak, USN
Ensign Edward H. Chapman, USN


(The Editor, in writing this booklet, has attempted to make this a historical record of the activities of this ship and yet make it of such human interest that all to whom it is dedicated will, months and many years from now be able to read through it and remember those days when we served together and each and every man, be he with gold or nothing on his sleeve, felt and considered himself equal in the battle against a common enemy.  To date our task has been “well done” and in appreciation of the services all hands have performed, I pass this story on to you. JHB).




The U.S.S. PHILADELPHIA, a light cruiser of 10,000 tons, was built at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pa. and placed in commission on the 23rd day of September, 1937.  A sister ship of the BROOKLYN, BOISE, SAVANNAH, NASHVILLE, HONOLULU, and PHOENIX, this vessel joined the fleet during the latter part of 1937 after a brief shake-down cruise to the Caribbean. 

In 1939 she was transferred to the West Coast and remained in the Pacific area until May, 1941 when secret orders were received sending her through the “Big Ditch” to the Atlantic Theater of operations and regular convoy duty. 

To those men who were on the PHILADELPHIA during those cold, dreary and hectic days while enroute to and from Iceland, Scotland and other ports of call in the eastern Atlantic, many vivid experiences will remain.  The unending periods of submarine alerts, the long cold watches on deck after which one took ten to fifteen minutes in removing clothing in order not to thaw out too quickly, the joy of heading back home and the ultimate thrill of again setting foot on our own native soil are some of the things that will never be forgotten.

And then the war made the task of this vessel a much tougher one.  While it steadily plowed its way across the rough waters of the north Atlantic the “gold-braids” were making their plans and in those rough notes a small but important spot had been set aside for this fighting man-of-war. 

The first inkling that this vessel’s crew had of any major plans being put into effect was obtained during September—October, 1942 when the ship was sent to the Chesapeake Bay area to maneuver and practice intensively for weeks with other units of the fleet.  Amphibious landings, long the dream of officers in the Army and Navy, were rehearsed until all hands were well versed in all phases of operations and capable of taking care of almost any emergency which might arise.

During the middle of October the task force, comprising hundreds of vessels, left the Norfolk area to cross the Atlantic.  Only after some distance out at sea were all hands notified of the extent of operations to be undertaken, the necessity of accomplishing the landings as quickly as possible, the opposition expected and the gigantic size of the convoy crossing at that time.  For miles around and as far as the eyes could see there were ships all headed for North Africa.  The battleships, cruisers and destroyers were ever on the alert for any hostile vessels or aircraft and a constant watch was kept to intercept any submarines or other vessels which might have been in a position to intercept the force or to furnish information to the Axis High Command as to the movements of the task force via radio signals. Every precaution was taken and that they were sufficient was proven by the fact that no full scale opposition was met until. all ships had arrived at their appointed destinations.  This vessel assigned to the Safi, French Morocco area, met with very little opposition.  In addition to some destroyers for patrol work, the battleship NEW YORK had been made a unit of this force.  The landings were successfully carried out, the little opposition put up by the opposing forces quickly overcome, and this ship's return to the Navy Yard, New York, N.Y. for a 10-day overhaul quickly effected. 

Two quick convoy trips to Casablanca, French, Morocco, with time off on each side of the Atlantic, made the time go by very quickly.  The short periods at sea were soon forgotten especially after a few days in port.  In March of the present year, the vessel again returned to the yard at Brooklyn for several weeks during which time many improvements were made; improvements which were to have tremendous effect on this ship’s defenses, especially for the type of duty to which it had been assigned. 

The Casablanca conference which had brought together Churchill, Roosevelt and the heads of the armies, navies and air forces of most of the United Nations had been held and the plans for the next campaign were well in the process of execution.  The actual landings, dates on which effected, places, forces involved, etc. were all secret but before these could be carried out a great deal of work was to be done by all units taking part in the operation.

The second period of training in the Chesapeake indicated that a major movement was underway.  Intensive training for a period of over five weeks—periods during which men who had just reported on board but a few weeks ago were being assigned to important battle stations.  And then—the signal to return to Norfolk, VA to await for their orders. 

Still short a number ratings, the vessel requested an additional amount of seamen to be transferred prior to its departure from that area.  About 250 men reported on board during those last few days; new men, just out of training stations, young boys of 18 and 19, untried, bewildered by the sight of all they saw as they reported aboard, glad to be on a real “man-of-war” at last.  And then, as they became accustomed to the ship, the strange talk of the older men on board, the requisites of each man with regards to his body his duties, and his stations, the story of the ship’s history; then was it possible to see the difference in these youngsters who but a few days ago had been in “boots in training”.  The feeling of pride and the zeal with which the new men took to their new duties augured well for the ship and had an omen of ill tidings for any enemy to be encountered. 

The group that sailed from Norfolk during the early part of June was not a very large one.  The crew aboard this vessel as a whole knew and felt that something was coming off but the size of the convoy indicated that it was only a small operation to be undertaken.  And it was not until after the task force had been safely birthed at Mers-el-Kebir, Algiers on the 22nd of that month that it was possible to get a better picture of the shape of things to come. 

Mers-el-Kebir was overflowing with vessels of all the allied navies.  The many thousands of soldiers always on the move was also a definite indication that something very big was soon to break.  When all communications between ships in the harbor and the beach were stopped on the 28th of June, it was a very definite sign that it would be only a matter of days before the operation was carried out.

To keep the Axis High Command in a quandary as to the actual landing places, the allied leaders had planned very thoroughly.  The numerous task forces which deployed from the main transport groups had even some of our own units confused as to just where they were headed.  This vessel was one of those task forces which left Mers-el-Kebir on the 5th of July, proceeded towards the coast of Sardinia, tracked back to the east of Malta and then picked up the regular troop convoys to the west of that famous lime-stoned island fortress and landing field. 

Scoglitti:--searchlight displays; fires ashore; thunderous roar of bombs; sudden quiet; those moments of suspense -- the firing on prearranged targets ashore, and then -- the long period of waiting.  Waiting, wondering, hoping, praying.  Every moment expecting something, anything to happen.  The anxiety of expecting good news of landings successfully accomplished was nerve-wracking and when no news was to be had even the firing of guns ashore broke that period of inactivity, of standing by waiting for something to happen. 

And then at last the news that one landing had been effected and another and still a third until reports came pouring in that very little opposition was being met and that all beach heads had been firmly established.  The spell had been broken just in time and the crew was able to relax -- but not for long for the Luftwaffe, no doubt aroused from its lethargy a short time after the original landings had been made, was already winging its way towards the seen of the action. 

That first enemy bomb landed about 35 yards off the port bow and really gave this vessel its first baptismal under enemy attack with a shower that wet down all hands on topside and those that escaped the drenching felt the concussion of that missile which was addressed to the PHILADELPHIA but was delivered to the wrong door. 

The days of Scoglitti were hectic ones.  They were the trying periods for most of the crew as few men had been forced to undergo the trying rigors of constant and repeated air attacks by hostile planes operating from nearby land bases.  Yet with the success of the landings at Scoglitti and the numerous other beaches in the southeastern portion of that highly-touted and impregnable Axis fortress, the job had only started. 

On the 15th, just five days after the initial attacks, the PHILADELPHIA pointed its bow westward and as it steamed past the port of EMPEDOCLE and the city of Agrigento nestling peacefully against the hillside further inland, the crew sensed that a momentous job was on hand.  The pummeling of these two strong points by the ships batteries in order that these important centers be taken as soon as possible and permit the army to proceed unhindered towards the west and north had to be carried out.  The perfect road and railroad networks extending from Agrigento were very important to the army at this stage of the game and it was an absolute “must” that these two points be forced to surrender as soon as possible.  The crew aboard this vessel turned to with fervor and for more than 12 hours the gun crews laid salvo after salvo and when “cease firing” was given, over a thousand rounds had been dropped in areas of selected strong points.  When Porto Empedocle and Agrigento surrendered to the small unit of rangers which marched in the next day all hands on the PHILADELPHIA felt proud of the work performed the previous day.  Yes, even the German “supermen” were finding it hard to stand up against the terrific fire of these little barking dogs that this vessel aimed at them. 

Back to Gela and roaming the southern coast of Sicily and then Bizerte.  On the 22nd of July was celebrated the first liberty in Algiers.  The tension had been eased and it was a relief to set foot on dry land again after a month on board ship.  Only a few days of relaxation though and enroute again.  Palermo ahoy! 

The Casino - wrecked shipping - the water front with the large ship in the street - the acres of buildings devastated by the bombers of the allied forces were all a part of this city which had once been the home of kings, now a fallen prey in the path of General George S. Patton Jr. and his now-famous U.S. seventh army.  Palermo, laid to waste by some of the most accurate bombing raids the world has ever witnessed, its population scattered throughout the surrounding hills, its transportation facilities wrecked and inoperative, still retained its majestic serenity even though it was the peace of death. The quietude prevailing throughout the area as this ship steamed into the harbor and noisily dropped its mud-hook just outside of the large man-made outer mole was disconcerting.  The inactivity onshore gave one the gruesome feeling that life in the city did not exist, a feeling broken every so often by the appearance of small whiffs of smoke indicating that fires started many days ago were still burning. 

A few hours after the arrival of the PHILADELPHIA at Palermo, that city appeared to have become alive again; the movements of the small army units, activity of small vessels in the harbor, the traipsing of people along the waterfront, the varied pitches of airplanes as they whizzed overhead.  Each of these in its turn attracted the attention of the men aboard the ship as they lazily perused and listened to the scenes before them. 

But inactivity for these stalwart fighting followers of the sea was not on the schedule and on the last day of July the “GALLOPING GHOST OF THE SICILIAN COAST” as the ship had now been nicknamed steamed east to immobilize the Axis gun emplacements to the rear of their lines, prevent the enemy from planting mines in its retreat toward Messina and disrupt his lines of communication as much as possible.  Taking her assigned station in the fire support area, the PHILADELPHIA opened fire on artillery, troops, bridges, trucks and tanks designated by the vessels spotting planes which had been catapulted to spot and pick up targets for the firing. 

Even as the mighty cobra often finds its nemesis in the small but ever watchful mongoose, so this vessel almost found itself mortally stricken by those little flying devils of the Luftwaffe as they circled, glided and dive bombed the ship after it had been shelling the German positions for approximately six hours.  The nearness of those shells which had been fired by some shore battery at the PHILADELPHIA earlier in the morning was soon a thing of the past; the rigging that had been torn away by one of the enemy projectiles which had landed but a mere 20 feet abreast five-inch gun No. 4, the numerous shrapnel holes bearing grim and mute testimony of the accuracy of the Axis fire and the three wounded men lying in the sick bay -- all were to be pushed back in the memory of time at that moment as the planes overhead came in and made their attacks, dropping their lethal loads uncomfortably close to the ship.  Repeatedly, despite the deadly hail of bullets spouting from the AA batteries of the cruiser, the Luftwaffe pilots closed in and let go their messengers of death and destruction and only through the goodwill of the Divine Providence did the ship manage to get out of that area and back to Palermo safe and sound except for a number of thorough drenching and heavy shakings-up. 

What a blessing it seemed to all hands that afternoon as we arrived at Palermo.  It was with a feeling of relief and security that the crew turned in that night, safe in the belief that here at last one could find peace and quietude within that ever so slight margin of distance which meant safety from air attacks and bombings. 

The rude awakening from that peaceful sleep as scores of flares lit up the city and harbor of Palermo, quickly followed by the heavy detonation of bombs throughout the entire area suddenly brought home to each and every man aboard the PHILADELPHIA that they were really in the front yard of the Axis. 

The suddenness of the attack, the lucky hit of a bomb in an ammunition dump where gasoline was stored quickly exploding and lighting up the port area for a distance of three to five miles, the burning coastal vessel, the hurried departure from our anchorage under a straddle of bombs on the bow and the constant rumble of bombs as they dropped all around the area; incidents, only passing incidents all jumbled together in the minds of the men aboard this ship as they carried out their duties mechanically repaired to their stations quickly manning the guns and blazing at the hostile planes which had sneaked through to accomplished the mission which had been unsuccessful the preceding day. 

Fifty or so planes were estimated to have made the attack but a number of them never returned to their bases in nearby Italy.  Despite the brightly lit harbor which made bombing of vessels in the area a very easy operation, the enemy planes were unable to make any direct hits on the ships which were sending up a deadly hail of bullets at all planes in their vicinities preventing the Axis fliers from coming down too close for accurate bombing.

It was true that the PHILADELPHIA had relaxed that night but the lesson learned was not a very expensive one. The damage caused during that raid was not extensive although it turned out to be one of the most brilliant exhibitions of A.A. fire, bursting bombs and conflagrations ashore yet witnessed by most of the people aboard the ships in the harbor.  The necessity of being ever on the alert, being prepared at all times to combat any form of attack, making the utmost use of all of the offensive and defensive equipment on board; those were the lessons learned during that eventful day and night.

Those 21 days on the North Coast of Sicily will long live in the memories of all hands who went through those three “leap-frog” landings enabling the U.S. 7th Army to bring the Sicilian campaign to a very quick end and permitting that force to be the first to reach Messina.  Those repeated missions up the coast to San Stefano, then Cape D’Orlando and suddenly the collapse of resistance in that area with the resultant bombardment of Milazzo; that night spent in running down the Italian cruiser force which was expected to make an attack on Palermo; that peaceful mission another night when the admiral decided to bombard the city of Messina and plans were changed at the last minute when reconnaissance planes were picked up after spotting the ship and the aircraft headed back to the bomber base possibly to bring out a strong force of bombers; the numerous bombings, near misses, and the resultant bringing down of eight enemy planes definitely credited to this ship with numerous other “possibles”.  All were “scenes” in the last act of the Sicilian campaign. 

Yes, the days were hectic ones.  The day consisted of 24 full hours.  No one made any real attempt to keep track of the actual dates.  There were many times when it appeared almost impossible to tell whether it was day or night as those flares dropped by enemy planes lit up the sky, silhouetting the ship being repeatedly bracketed by bombs.  The days rolled along, everybody yearned for a rest but as long as a job was unfinished it was realized that this gallant vessel would have to be present to prove to the German High Command that the spirit of the U.S. navy as exemplified by this one fighting man-of-war would not and could not be broken despite the very best that the Axis could send out to destroy the PHILADELPHIA.  Even the E -boat attacks, apparently believed by the Nazis to be the one thing which the allied forces could not overcome, were frustrated by the excellent work of the outer screen of destroyers.  The spent torpedoes found floating around the Palermo area on the following day were indications of the work being done by the Germans, i.e., to expend their torpedoes or bombs as quickly as possible even though no targets were present, and thus make a hasty retreat to their home bases.  That big day while operating off Cape Calava when eight FW-190s of the b Berman Goering squadron made that sneak dive bombing attack which appeared to have been a suicide attempt to get the PHILADELPHIA will long be aflame in the fires of our thoughts.  Three of the attacking planes were brought down by this vessel’s A.A. fire, one by an accompanying destroyer and a fifth by the fighter planes covering this vessels maneuvers.  Two others were believed to have been damaged and were last seen heading back toward Italy in a trail of smoke.  A high price -- seven out of eight.

Yes, all of these things plus the hundreds and thousands of other incidents which occurred throughout various stations of the ship will bring back to the crew of this mighty warship memories of those days off Palermo.  And to have been the only cruiser in that area for the entire period will always be something to talk about.  And that this ship had been in the first U.S. task force to bombard the mainland of Italy during that special night mission with all hands on their stations awaiting that expected shower of bombs; of all this could the entire crew be proud of.  Yes, a job had been finished and from all reports it had been well done.  

No tears were shed on the morning of August 20th as this vessel steamed around the point and left Palermo astern, its long nose pointed on a westerly course and thence towards Bizerte.  The next day was a busy one but the work performed was of a nature more to the likings of the men on board for supplies, ammunition and fuel were being received.  Fresh meats, butter, flour, coffee and all of the other delicacies of which the ship was running rather low.

Algiers and those days of true relaxation again.  Movies on the main deck aft.  The opportunity to go ashore and do the things that one had been looking forward to.  Four days of peace and a life of ease ashore or aboard.  Forgotten already were most of the hardships which had been endured, the fears that had gripped both men and boys, the splendid performances on the parts of all hands. 

Four days in the famous French Algerian port was all that the crew wanted and needed, for by now it was apparent that another operation was coming up and all hands were anxious to get going on this new plan, the ultimate success of which might assure them of getting home sooner.  And as most of the boys had not seen their loved ones since the latter part of April, they were most anxious to finish this job and again sit down and have a few minutes of peace with those at home.  

Mers-el-Kebir with its cluttered harbor, the dingy houses, the scraggly beaches, its “stadium”, the swimming parties to the west, the long dusty road leading to the main highway where one caught the “express” to Oran; all these again brought back memories to the men aboard the PHILADELPHIA.  Thoughts of previous days in the same “whole”, time spent in standing by waiting for the final plans to be formulated and for preliminary units to move up to the front and that ever present feeling that another “D” day could not be very far off. 

September 5th and that second departure from Mers-el-Kebir.  Enroute again and as on that first journey the destination was a secret; Crete, Greece, Italy, Sardinia or the Balkans?  Instead of revealing the ultimate landing point as had been done in the past, the captain withheld this information until after the ship had picked up two SOC planes at Bizerte and many miles were left astern.  Landings to be effected in the Gulf of Salerno, just to the south of Naples, Italy!  Many hearts skipped a beat as that information was passed out by the “Old Man”.  A quick review of the exact location of this area revealed to most of the men that it was approximately 160 miles from our closest air fields.  The memory of those bombs falling all around the ship, the many narrow escapes, the seconds, minutes and hours spent evading those gnomes of the air, so swift and relentless that at times it was believed impossible to carry on any longer; all was brought back into vivid relief in the minds of those men as they stood on the fantail listening to the captain’s talk.  Nothing was withheld from the men:  the seriousness of the opposition to be effected, the sizes of the forces to take part in the various landings, the then-known strength of the enemy and above all the absolute necessity of this vessel doing its full share in bringing about the ultimate success of the entire plan; all was revealed and accepted by the men with no trace of fear for as the talk had progressed, the confidence of the Skipper that the crew, with two campaigns already under its belt would come through, and the completeness of the entire strategy indicated that chances of success were better than average.

Nothing could have changed the picture of the entire campaign anymore than that announcement on D minus one day that at 6:15 in the evening an important announcement would be simultaneously broadcast from Rome and Algiers. The radio receivers on board ship were all tuned in on those two stations but through some phenomenon of nature, not one of those broadcasts was picked up. The result of that experience made many of the older men aboard ship think of that false armistice of World War I and the hoax that had been played. 

Then, suddenly, after most of the men had left the vicinities of the ship’s loud speakers, the welcome and almost tragic news came over the air: Italy had surrendered unconditionally on the 3rd of September but the information had been withheld until it would be of the utmost advantage to the Allied Nations. Welcome news in that it would make things much easier as far as the quick defeat of Germany and it’s satellites were concerned but almost tragic in that it almost gave the Allied forces then on the verge of performing a very major and serious operation a feeling of over confidence which well-nigh cost the American and British troops the entire campaign.

The Nazi High Command which for years had dominated the whole of Italy had made it’s plans well. It had probably reasoned that in the near future it’s junior partners would become tired of being used as the cat’s paws and would attempt to sue for separate peace. The steady pouring in of German troops in each of these countries, until each of these nations could claim nothing their own, had been carried out to such an extent throughout the entire Italian peninsula that even the entire native garrisons of that country were unable to force the Nazis from Italy. The Germans had planned well to use this once Facist state for battleground, confident that they could hold it against even the strongest forces which the Allies could muster to it’s shores. But back to the PHILADELPHIA and it’s role in the campaign. 

That broadcast, with all it’s implications, was translated by many to mean the end of all resistance. The possibilities of attacking further north, the trapping of thousands of German troops with equipment and supplies, the dissolution of all of the other Nazi-controlled states, all these were conjectured upon. Yet, the crew realized that a fight would still be, for although the Italians might overcome some of the much hated Boche intruders, it was believed that the Luftwaffe was still intact and in German hands and would be most definitely on the wing to stop any large scale massing of ships, troops or equipment in the Salerno area. 

Capri to the north, the Cape of Salerno just to the east of that famous island, that long stretch of sandy beach, a half moon riding high over the lofty mountain peaks, a slight Mediterranean breeze, but above all, absolute quiet. A picture to be long cherished were it not that the members of the crew had their thoughts for the most part far away from the beauties of nature. A grime task was ahead, a job that kept each and every man on the alert every second of the time. 

That long period of waiting, watching, hoping and praying again. The sudden activities of flares dropping over the beach areas, the quick check on range to the flares with the sigh of relief as it was learned that they were over 50,000 yards away, the blazing tracers followed by the heavy ack-ack-fire ashore and then the heavy rumbling of artillery ashore. Possibly the Italian and German forces were having a duel of their own for it was a certainty that no United Nations forces had been landed as yet. Prayers that Badoglio’s men would come out on top and assure the success of the landings were murmured. The convoy to the north under heavy air attack, the crackle of A.A. guns and the crashing of one plane hurtling thousands of sparks as it exploded just before hitting the water, the detonations of bombs as they landed, the end of the attack and the report that no ships had been hit. Crowded into a few minutes of time, these incidence brought temporary relief to the onlookers who had ringside seats to the entire show. The ships telephone circuits buzzed with the various versions of each of these events as talkers on top side stations passed on the news to their shipmates below deck. 

Those large explosions ashore, the large fire thirty miles or so inland off starboard bow, the city of Salerno silhouetted by the resultant flashes as demolition charges set off throughout that entire area. Still more gun fire ashore. Phosphorous shells leaving their white tracers behind as they left the muzzle of the guns. And yet no firing or sign of enemy activity against the transports or men-of-war which were creeping ever closer toward the unloading areas and the shore.

A slight noise to port and the relief that each man had as it turned out to be only the dropping of one of the landing craft into the water. The two hour wait until all boats were ready to form the first wave and then again that long wait for the boats to reach the landing beaches. Indeterminable minutes during which all hands kept their fingers crossed again going through those oft repeated prayers that those boys heading for the beach would make it safely and meet with no opposition. 

Twenty minutes to go! The short bursts of machine gun fire in the area of the Yellow Beach. The standby to all main battery groups! The cessation of firing a few seconds later. And again those most welcome of all reports - landings success - fully accomplished, very little opposition encountered. 

The joy of all hands as they heard these reports. The beliefs that all was well and that the Italians, apparently taking the advice of their new government and it’s requests issued immediately after the news of the surrender had been announced, had done their jobs very well and that the Nazi fighting machine was even now hurriedly running north in a mad rush to clear out of Italy before the onslaught which was presaged by the arrival of the Allied troops. 

The lack of enemy air attacks was a puzzle which could not be figured out by most hands throughout the task force.  No calls for fire support from the landing parties was also unfathomable.  Things seemed to be moving almost too well.  Had the Italians really done the impossible - chased the Jerries running back home?  Ah well, all good dreams must have endings and this one was abruptly closed just after daylight on D day when one of the landing forces requested immediate fire on enemy batteries which were holding up their advance and consolidation of positions.  

With that first call for help, the real work started.  A job that lasted for ten full days for the PHILADELPHIA.  Ten days of hell; a short time in a man’s life but which added at least ten years to the aged appearance of each and every person aboard that vessel; a period that seemed unreal and contained so many astonishing and thrilling experiences that it is hard to believe that only so short a space of time had elapsed.  Reviewed from almost any angle those ten days brought the war close to every man - jack aboard that fighting man-of-war, a 20th century war, a battle not only against the Nazis and their planes alone but against a more ruthless enemy who had now conceived new and more potent weapons of destruction. 

That the PHILADELPHIA was the one “must” item that had to be knocked out of the way by the German Air Force was very evident when the Luftwaffe deliberately went out of its way on several occasions to drop their lethal loads at this vessel.  The surprise of the Axis leaders must have been a great one after this stalwart ship had been identified, steaming along in the Gulf of Salerno, still carrying on its regular job of knocking out German batteries, tanks, trucks, and killing thousands of troops.  From all previous reports, this “thorn of the Sicilian campaign” had been lying on the bottom of the Tyrrhenian Sea for many weeks.  Passing up those nice, juicy and defenseless targets in the area and striking only at this vessel, the Nazis seemed to be determined to get  rid of her at any cost.  Repeated high level, medium flight and dive-bombing attacks were made but, to no avail.  

For many men the most difficult day of all was the 18th of September waiting for the five o’clock whistle and the signal to leave the Salerno area for a short rest.  To others there was no day which stood out above all others.  Each day during that period was packed with thrills, many incidents all jumbled together in the cramped recesses of their minds, swiftly forgotten as new actions occurred, only to be remembered many days later with the mention of a word, reflections or a passing thought or action on the part of an individual.

The consistent firing of the main batteries at enemy shore positions; the concentrations of tanks blown helter-skelter by the accurate 15-gun salvos; the unobserved firing during the night of the 13th - 14th when more than 4,000 Jerries bit the dust along a short stretch of road; the attacking planes on the night of the 16th which tried to stop this vessels bombardment on shore targets and the exultation of the crew as the word was quickly passed over the phones that one plane had already exploded off the port quarter and another last seen belching fire as it turned tail; the hundreds of bombs close aboard; the Limeys swimming over the side even during the alerts; the passing of those allied bombers as they winged their way back home and at the exact crossing overhead the rolling thunderous roars as hundreds of tons of bombs landed and shook the area for miles around; the burning liberty ship lighting up the shipping area; that feeling of pride as reports came drifting in that the PHILADELPHIA had done its job superbly and that its firing during those terrible days from the 11th to the 14th had done much to save the United Nations’ forces and forced the Germans to scatter and retreat preventing the Jerries from pushing our troops back into the area; these were merely passing incidents and now that the battle is over they take form, each a separate complete story in itself.  Events complete with real action, long periods of unheard of devotion to duty, hundreds of untold incidents which would merit awards; but to the crew of this gallant fighting ship it is the ship - “The U.S.S. PHILADELPHIA” - that is doing the job.

No praise was asked during or after any of these campaigns; no time was spent in counting up the thousands of pieces of enemy equipment, troops or many installations put out of commission or the devastating effects the steady bombardments and accurate A.A. fire had upon the Jerries, not to mention the mere presence of this grand old “lady”.  Nor the serious breakdown in morale that must have followed after the repeated failures to get this vessel out of the various campaigns.  Even today, on this vessel’s birthday, no symbols emblematic of the enemy planes, tanks, batteries or guns “knocked off” adorned the bridge or sides of the PHILADELPHIA.  We still have a job to do but it is not to delve into previous records for accomplishments performed, rather it is to prepare for the future and to get all our equipment in shape again for that moment when we will again be called upon to carry on the job. 

To the German High Command possibly it has been an enigma as to why this fighting vessel was ever named the “PHILADELPHIA”.  Although christened after that city, famous as the home of the Quakers and “brotherly love” this little spitfire of the United States Navy has repeatedly refused to act as gentle and inoffensive as her name would imply. 

Her nose still points proudly upward, ready at a moments notice to head towards the area of battle, her guns stand by waiting for the signal to train and commence firing, her machinery and other equipment is ready and when the call comes, this gallant cruiser will be ready to take its place either alone or with other units of the fleet in the final task of bringing about the ultimate destruction of the enemy.

We sincerely hope and pray that the cessations of hostilities will ensure us a world again free from the oppressions of the militarists and let us all live again our normal lives safe in the security that we may enjoy the freedoms granted us by our Bill of Rights and that the other nations throughout the world may enjoy the freedoms contained in the Atlantic Charter. 


The above text was copied from an original history in the possession of Ira J. Gardner, son of Ira Leon “Lee” Gardner who served on the U.S.S. Philadelphia (CL-41) from 1942 to 1945. All information was copied as it was written (obvious spelling errors were corrected) and the cover design was scanned and then inserted in this document.