...The Enduring Legacy of a Battleship, from Bauernfeind Press via Casemate Books
Title: USS Arizona
Author: Ingo W. Bauernfeind
Publisher: Bauernfeind Press
Going from my first reaction to seeing this book, it is a stunner. The Arizona is perhaps one of the most famous of battleships, though sadly for its' loss, along with so many of her crew. Her wreck is one of the most lasting images of the attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941 and while the bulk of her superstructure was removed after the attack, the hull remains, a final resting place for over 900 of her crew. A remaining symbol which still means so much to Americans and their remembrance memorials.
The book starts with details of her original launching in the Navy Yard, New York, on June 19 1915 and her Commissioning on October 17, 1916. It goes on to illustrate her service life, including the significant modernisations that saw the 5in guns removed from the casemates on either side and replacement of the original Cage Masts with stout Tripod masts, which were so distinctive in the photos of her at Pearl Harbour. Throughout this first half of the book there are some superb archive photos of the Arizona, showing her life before that fatal day in 1941.
Roughly the second half of the book is devoted to her position on Battleship Row, alongside Ford Island in Pearl Harbour. As well as the attack, it then goes on to feature a number of very personal accounts from survivors of the ship. The one which struck me was that of John D. Anderson, whose twin brother Delbert was also on board that day, but who was among those who lost their lives that day. There are other accounts, including that of a Japanese pilot who took part in the attack. There is also the story of the Arizona Memorial, its' designer and how funds were raised to pay for it, including a concert by Elvis Presley. There are a selection of photos showing parts of the hull today, even on of a uniform still hanging in a cabin inside the ship. . There are details of the difficulties faced by the fuel oil which is still within the hull, and which slowly leaks into the harbour still.
I have a lifelong fascination with military history and live here in the UK. It was in May 2018 that my wife and I had the opportunity of our trip of a lifetime, and travelled the 8,000 miles or so to visit Pearl Harbour. We treated ourselves to a helicopter tour of the island, which ended with circling the Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri that is moored close to it. The impact of seeing it for the first time, flying above battleship Row and the memorial, is hard to describe. When we landed just a few minutes later I admit I was in tears, the emotions of seeing it all for myself was such an emotional experience. The following day we visited the site, though sadly were unable to land on the memorial itself as the landing stage had been damaged and was closed for safety reasons. This book brought back all my memories of our visit, and showed us images we could never have seen. An amazing collection of images and memories. It even includes three QR codes which you can scan with your phone to view video footage of veterans memories and video from the sunken hull today. As I said at the outset, stunning.
Distributed by Casemate Books, who kindly provided my review copy.