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Post Do Any Italian Ships of WWII Survive?
Created by John Eipper on 04/29/19 10:01 AM

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Do Any Italian Ships of WWII Survive? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 04/29/19 10:01 am)

To answer John E's question, as far as I know, after 74 years none of the ships of the once-powerful Italian navy have survived.

On a happier note, some of the olive trees in our orchard have begun to blossom.

JE comments:  I did some Googling, and it is surprising how few of the world's battleships remain.  In fact, the only tourable battleship outside the United States is Japan's Mikasa, a veteran of the Russo-Japanese war.  The UK has exactly one survivor of the Battle of Jutland (1916):  HMS Caroline (a light cruiser).

It's expensive to maintain an old warship, but they are very cool to display in your harbor.  I've visited the Alabama in Mobile and the Texas in La Porte.  Pearl Harbor remains on my Bucket List.

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  • USS Olympia, Philadelphia (Patrick Mears, Germany 04/30/19 2:29 AM)

    With respect to John's list of decommissioned battleships and Pearl Harbor, one should include the armored cruiser, USS Olympia, which served as Admiral George Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.

    This sole surviving ship of that conflict can be visited at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have visited this grande dame of warships twice--in 1964 and then in 2010--and will do so again if and when I happen to be in the neighborhood. My first visit was triggered during our family summer vacation that year. Back in the early 1960s, I bought the plastic Revell (?) model of the Olympia, assembled it, and then ordered from the offer contained in its packaging a commemorative copper coin of this ship that had been minted from the ship's original propellers. This is a link a photo of such a coin that I just tracked down on the internet: https://www.ebay.com/itm/USS-OLYMPIA-BATTLE-MANILA-BAY-ADMIRAL-DEWEY-COIN-MEDAL-MADE-FROM-PROPELLER-/273824411954 . To my everlasting shame, I lost that coin somewhere along the line, probably when I left home to attend university in Ann Arbor.

    If any WAISers happen to be visiting Philadelphia in the future, you might stop by the museum and tour the ship. You will likely enjoy the experience.

    JE comments:  We struck pay dirt with this topic on museum ships.  For people interested in history, diplomacy, old stuff, and all things international (meaning, WAISers), historic warships are hard to beat.  Remember Gridley?  He was the gunnery officer told to "fire when ready" at Manila Bay.  (Dewey's quote appears on the commemorative coin.)  I just learned that Indiana-born Charles Vernon Gridley grew up in nearby Hillsdale, Michigan, and attended Hillsdale College before transferring to the US Naval Academy.  He never returned from the Pacific war of 1898.  Sick with dysentery, Gridley died while in a Japanese port.

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  • HMS Belfast, London (John Heelan, UK 04/30/19 2:53 AM)

    HMS Belfast is moored in the Thames opposite the Tower of London. I once was a guest for an amazing dinner in its wardroom complete with "pink gins" (A large gin with Angostura bitters being waved at it from a safe distance).

    JE comments:  The Belfast is a light cruiser, which at 11,500 tons is an understatement.  But battleships can weigh four times as much.  (Japan's behemoth Yamato tipped the scales at 65,000 tons.)

    The Belfast was nearly done in by a German mine early in WWII, but was repaired and amassed an impressive record for the rest of the war, including service on the convoys supplying the Soviet Union.  The pink gins must have helped with the Arctic cold and tedium.

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    • HMS Belfast, and "Confusion to the French" (Timothy Ashby, Spain 04/30/19 6:08 AM)
      I love HMS Belfast and have been aboard (as a tourist) several times. She is a very popular tourist attraction (and moored across the Thames from the Tower of London), so I advise visiting her in the dead of winter when one does not feel hemmed or hurried by hordes of selfie-snapping turistas.

      On the subject of HM warships--when I was living on the island of Grenada in 1977 I was "dined in" in the wardroom (officers' mess) of a Royal Navy frigate (name long since forgotten I'm afraid). I was pleasantly surprised by the historical knowledge of the officers (several were reading Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels, which had debuted a few years earlier). During and after dinner, various toasts were drunk, starting with, of course, the Loyal Toast to Her Majesty (Royal Navy officers traditionally drink the Loyal Toast seated, unlike other branches of HM Armed Forces).

      The toast I remember vividly was "Confusion to the French," which was done amidst much raucous and redfaced laughter. I remember asking one of my table companions if this was still a traditional toast, and he replied that it was not, but that the frigate had experienced a "rather unpleasant" port call at one of the French Caribbean islands and that the Captain was "on board" with this as long as no Frenchmen or British diplomats were aboard!

      JE comments:  "Confusion" as a curse sounds so British!  The more choleric races would be inclined wish death on their enemies.  The British and the French are probably the world's oldest "frenemies."  The Tommies of WWI often wondered why they were fighting against the Germans and not the French, and many Poilus no doubt had the same question.

      Imagine this coming from Iran or North Korea:  Confusion to the Yankee Satan!

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      • Toasting to France's Confusion (John Heelan, UK 05/03/19 5:19 AM)

        In response to Timothy Ashby (April 30th), I think the full toast from 1794 is "Confusion to the French (hear, hear!) and all enemies to Great Britain."

        JE comments:  I had a philological suspicion, and "confusion" in the medieval mind suggested "overthrow" or "ruin."  There must have been some vestiges of this meaning in Lord Nelson's day.


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