Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Armed and Dangerous

W.B. Green on the USS Texas abt 1927
I was looking at some old photos my grandfather had kept and found this one of my uncle William Bryant Green. He was born in 1908 and died on February 1, 1943 aboard a Navy plane that crashed in Arizona.

The more I looked at this picture the more I thought it looked kind of strange. There were a couple like it and the caption says "Old Glory on Stern of the USS Texas." Bryant graduated in 1926 from Taylor County High School and enlisted in the Navy so I assume this was taken a year or so later.

I knew he served on the USS Texas but was wondering why they would have a gun like that on the ship?

The USS Texas was the most modern Battleship in the US Navy when it was launched in 1914, one of the group of ships originally proposed by Teddy Roosevelt when he was President.

Ten years later it would still have been considered state of the art with the biggest guns around, 14 inches wide that could shoot a 1,400 pound shell over 13 miles. In fact it was officially the Flagship of the United State Fleet when Bryant was aboard.

So why did they have this cannon that looks like it came from the Civil War on deck?

I contacted someone who runs the USS Texas historical web page and asked him. The ship was taken out of service in 1948 and is now a museum on the Texas Gulf Coast near Houston. At first he couldn't ID the gun and said it would not serve any function aboard a ship like the Texas but agreed the photo was of the ship.

He sent me a link to an inventory of all the armament used aboard the Texas over it's 34 year history.

In a subsequent email he said the cannon looked like a 3 inch 25 caliber field gun. It was called a landing gun, something Marines could use if they were doing an invasion. Sure enough there on the inventory was one 25 caliber Mark IV Landing Gun assigned to the ship in November 1919. So the Marines, if they took it with them would need to be pretty good shots because they only had one of them.

They didn't have to invade any foreign fields while Bryant was aboard. He transferred to another ship in the Pacific during WWII when the USS Texas was part of the invasion of North Africa in 1942 (with Walter Cronkite aboard the Texas and reporting) and then Normandy beach on D Day.

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