by Kenneth H. Goldman
Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008. Pp. xxvi, 322.
Illus., maps, appends, notes, biblio., index. $29.00. ISBN: 0813032741
One of the Many Unheralded Ships that Helped Win the War
While the LST or even the lowly landing craft, the attack transport have been much written about, one type of amphibious warfare vessel has largely been neglected in the literature of World War II, the attack transport, designed “APA” in the U.S. Navy’s ship designation system. These were the ships which carried the assault troops to a hostile coast, from which they could then descend by cargo net to the landing craft in order to hit the beach. On such ship was the USS Charles Carroll (APA-28), and this book, by the son of the ship’s sailors, is the only such account of an APA at war, which makes it a very welcome addition to the literature of the war.
Goldman covers the history of the ship – and in effect of the many others like her – from her origins through her service in the war and then her many years laid up in reserve until she was scrapped. The Charles Carroll was laid down before the war, as a cargo liner, and we get details about what she was supposed to be like, and then how she was converted to serve as an APA while still on the ways. She was fitted to carry an infantry battalion to a hostile coast, and then transfer the troops to her landing craft, which would deposit them on the beach under fire.
Goldman gives us a look at the ships’ routing, the men who crewed her ship, how they trained for their mission, learning to work with their equipment and execute a landing. Then we see them carry out that mission six times, a rather impressive achievement, North Africa in 1942, Sicily and Salerno in 1943, Normandy and the South of France in 1944, and finally Okinawa in 1945, most often under fire.
Goldman also gives us a look at the routine of the ship’s life, long wartime voyages, accidents, storms at sea, and yard time, and, finally carrying troops home once more.
A volume in the series “New Perspectives on Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology”, Attack Transport is an essential read for anyone interested in amphibious operations.