1945 – Admiral Hewitt of 8th Fleet Awards USS Duane Heroes

In this photograph, Admiral H. Kent Hewitt of the 8th Fleet can be seen giving out awards to the heroes from the USS Duane. Admiral Hewitt was previously aboard the Duane where he and Admiral Lowry took part in “Operation Anvil-Dragoon” – the Allied invasion of Southern France. The USS Hewitt was later named after him and was in service from 1974 until 2001.

The man receiving the award in this photograph is this website’s namesake – Ph. M. John “Jack” Baker. It is believed that this photograph was taken by Dale Rooks. I am not sure if there are photos of each man being awarded their medals, or if Rooks just happened to take this one because my grandfather was his good friend. This was likely taken in early 1945 while the USS Duane was docked in Bizerte, Tunisia.

1945 - Admiral Hewitt of 8th Fleet Awards USS Duane Heroes

If anyone has any more information, or can identify any of the other men in this photograph, please contact me.

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D-Day on the USS Duane – 67 Years Ago

Today is the 67th anniversary of D-Day, when the Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy during “Operation Neptune”. During this time, my grandfather was stationed aboard the USS Duane in Naples, Italy while planning was going on for “Operation Anvil-Dragoon”. Here is a repost of a photograph of the Duane taken approximately 67 years ago while at port in Naples, Italy.

August 1944 - USS Duane at Port in Naples, ItalyThank you to the men who stormed the beaches that day as it was one of the bravest acts in US military history.

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1945 – US Naval base in Bizerte, Tunisia from 5000 feet

In this photograph, you get a 5000 foot view of a Naval base in Bizerte, Tunisia. Although I could not find much information about this particular location, my grandfather had it labeled as a “US Naval Base”. This photograph was in pretty rough shape, so it has been cleaned up and restored quite a bit. If you look closely, the USS Duane is parked to the right hand side of the peninsula at the top of the photo. There are land shots within the Warbook that were taken at the same time and show a ground level view of the base.

1945 - US Naval base in Bizerte, Tunisia from 5000 feet

According to the USS Duane history, the ship was in Bizerte a couple of different times – first in April of 1944 and then from December 5 1944, until June of 1945. I believe this image was probably taken in May or June of 1945 as there are several other photographs taken by Dale Rooks at the base in Bizerte at this time. I also do not believe that they would risk flying through the area if there was an immanent danger.

I fondly remember a story that my grandfather told me that relates to this photograph. He used to tell me that Dale Rooks was quite a fearless character. He told me that my Rooks once took him up in an airplane and they flew over the USS Duane parked at port. There is a photograph of Rooks later in the Warbook where he has what is pilot gear on. That being said, I believe this photograph was taken by him or my grandfather.

US Naval Base at Bizerte, Tunisia

If anyone has any more information about this port, please post it here in a comment or Email me. I was able to find the image above on Google Earth, which shows a current overhead view from about 3500 feet. You can also click here to view the location on Google Maps.

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August 1944 – Admiral Frank J. Lowry of 8th Fleet joins USS Duane

According to official USCG history. Admiral Frank J. Lowry of the 8th Fleet joined the USS Duane on April 23rd. The official ship history published on the USCG website explains this in a bit more detail.

Admiral Frank J. Lowry of 8th Fleet WWII

The Duane departed Norfolk on 3 April as a member of convoy UGS-38, which was escorted by Task Force 66.  On the 18th she reported to the Commander, Eighth Amphibious Force, Mediterranean for duty.  She was detached on the 20th and proceeded under escort to Algiers.  The Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest African Waters, inspected her on the 22nd.  She left Algiers on the 23rd for Naples, arriving there on the 25th and the next day RADM F. J. Lowry, Commander, Eighth Amphibious Force, Mediterranean shifted his flag to Duane from  USS Biscayne (AGC-18).  The Duane stood out of Naples on the 28th, escorted by Biscayne and USS Seer (AM-112) and after the 29th proceeded independently to Bizerte, Tunisia.  She proceeded to Palermo, Sicily on May 5th and to Naples on the 9th, returning to Bizerte on the 20th.  She departed Bizerte on the 11th.  Between the 14th and 21st Duane made another trip to Palermo, Salerno, and Naples, where she remained until 29 July 1944.  On the 30th MAJGEN John W. O’Daniels and his staff reported on board to take part in assault practice exercises on the 31st.

According to The U.S Coast Guard in World War II by By Malcolm Francis Willoughby – F. J. Lowry was again on board on August 9 for the start of “Operaton Dragoon.” If anyone has any personal stories about the Admiral, please send them our way. It is unknown who or when this photo took place but it was likely on the USS Duane.

 

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Happy Memorial Day

Sorry for the short hiatus from posting. My wife and I just welcomed our first child into the world. Alec Marc Randazzo was born on 5/22/11 at 2:08pm. We found out that he would be coming into this world only three days after my grampa Jack passed away.

Happy memorial day to all!! Look for more photos soon.

-Adam

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August 1944 – John Baker and French Woman in Southern France during “Operation Dragoon”

In this photograph, the namesake of this website – John “Jack” Baker can be seen getting directions from a French Woman. They are seated on the ruins of a building in Southern France after it was destroyed by German forces. This image was likely taken around or on August 16, 1944. Although there is no way of knowing the exact location, the USS Duane was docked near Baie de Cavalaire as it took part in “Operation Dragoon”. This photograph was definitely taken by Dale Rooks, as the back of the image was stamped with his name.

August 1944 - John Baker and French Woman in Southern France

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April 1943 – Depth charges dropped on U-Boat in North Atlantic

In this image, the crew of the USS Spencer (or possibly the USS Duane) can be seen dropping depth charges on a German U-Boat in the North Atlantic. This is likely part of the same event where the USS Duane and the USS Spencer destroyed U-175 and then rescued the surviving crew. This image was likely taken by Jack January on April 17, 1943. It is a very similar vantage point to an image published on the USCG website.

April 1943 - Depth charges dropped on U-Boat North Atlantic

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August 1944 – Ammunition Ship Hit by Torpedo off Southern France

This image shows what is likely an American or German ammunition ship being hit by a torpedo off Southern France. This image was taken from the Coast Guard cutter ship USS Duane. Based on the dates when other pictures similar to this one were taken, the estimated date is probably around August 16, 1944. It is believed that Dale Rooks was the photographer of this image.

August 1944 - Ammunition Ship Hit by Torpedo off Southern France

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1943 – USS Duane Signaling Navy Blimp

In this image, we have a US Navy blimp signaling the USS Duane. If you look closely at the blimp, you can see that it has a signaling light turned on. Unfortunately, the location date and photographer are completely unknown. This photograph was among others that were labeled 1943 North Atlantic, so that would be our best assumption as to the date and location.

After doing some research, I believe this is what is called a “K Class” blimp. In looking at Navy Squadrons that flew during World War II, it is likely that this was part of the ZP-12 which hunted German U-Boats in the North Atlantic. Another possibility is that this was part of the ZP-14 squad, which sailed in North Africa. If anyone has any information about joint Navy and Coast Guard convoys during WWII, I would be very interested in hearing about them.

1943 - USS Duane Signaling Navy Blimp

 

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April 1943 – Coast Guard rescues men from destroyed Nazi U-Boat

This next photograph from the John Baker’s Warbook is the only one that I have found reproduced anywhere else as it is officially USCG photo 1591. This  The photo is of Nazi soldiers being helped aboard a Coast Guard cutter ship after their U-Boat (U-175) was destroyed in a battle. This photograph was taken aboard the USS Spencer by Jack January on April 17, 1943. The event took place in the North Atlantic while on a convoy mission (HX-233) from the United States to the United Kingdom.

April 1943 - Coast Guard rescues men from destroyed Nazi U-Boat

The official recount of the battle is as follows:

At 1110 Duane was ordered to take station ahead as Spencer was dropping back through the convoy following a contact on which she had already dropped two patterns of depth charges.  Five minutes later the Spencer ordered Duane to close her and take over the contact.  The Duane began a search on the indicated location and thirty minutes later a 740-ton German U-boat surfaced about 2,700 yards from the Duane.  A minute later Spencer opened fire and Duane went ahead at full speed toward the submarine and after clearing her line of fire so as not to hit Spencer also opened fire.  The submarine was now at right angles to the line of fire and several hits were obtained, one nicely centered on the submarine’s conning tower.  Seven minutes later, as men on deck were seen jumping overboard, Duane ceased fire.

The conning tower was smoking liberally and the submarine was moving ahead slowly, circling to the right.  The Duane maneuvered to pick up survivors and by 1158 had picked up nine German enlisted men and one officer.  Then she screened Spencer while that cutter sent a boat to the submarine.  Twenty five minutes later the submarine, later ascertained to be the U-175, sank stern first.  The Duane lowered a boat and picked up eleven more German enlisted men and one more officer.  Four of the prisoners received medical attention.  On the 20th Duane moored at North Gourock, Scotland, and delivered all prisoners to the custody of the British authorities and then proceeded to Londonderry arriving on 22 April 1943.

Although my grandfather had told me about this event numerous times, the part that he recounted the most was what happened shortly after the Nazi’s were brought aboard —they were given ice cream. He said that in all his years aboard the USS Duane, he was never given ice cream. Even further – John Baker was a medic and he was obligated to treat them. Despite the fact that the cutter ships were firing weapons at these men moments earlier, he now had to give them medical attention as they ate ice cream infront of him.

Many more pictures and recounts can be seen at the official Coast Guard gallery page dedicated to the event.

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