In the following years of the war began a dangerous and challenging time for the USS West Point, her crew and the transported soldiers, dominated especially in the first months of the war effort by emergency missions:
The first time in a combat zone, the ship arrived in early January 1942. The mentioned on the previous page of Basra to Bombay to Singapore redirected troop transport, which illustrates well the escalating situation in the Pacific, slowly approached to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) belongs island of Java. Japanese submarine activities have been reported for this area and so it was decided that the convoy in which the West Point was, to steer on a detour through a protective, yet also dangerous coral reef. The ships passed through the reef at 10 knots slow one behind the other. The situation in Singapore has now been more threatening. Thus, the convoy was split and the faster ships, including the West Point was, vorrausgeschickt to arrive faster in the East Asian metropolis and to reinforce the British troops fighting there. On entering West Point on 29 January, the naval port of the city was already under constant Japanese air attacks. So, they went and the other troop carrier and bombed out in the less protected by air defense civilian cargo port.
Just to hair width escaped the luxury liner repurposed its end a day later. As he lay anchored in the harbor, launched a Japanese air attack on the city. Some bombs were detonated in close proximity, however luckily missed the boat, so that only inflicting minor shrapnel damage. Lying in the harbor with a supply ship was not so lucky. It suffered a direct hit and sank immediately. The warehouses at the port were in flames. Because of the worsening situation an emergency plan for the evacuation of civilians from the city was established. The West Point took in haste over 1000 refugees on board, many of them women and children. That same evening, the West Point (ropes between ship and pier were hit with axes) fled along with the Wakefield under the protection of the falling darkness of the little later falling into Japanese hands town towards Batavia in Java. There were 31 January more refugees taken on board. Then under the escort of the British destroyer HMAS Vampire and two other escorts went to West Point and Wakefield in the direction of safe Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In this passage, a baby was born on 4 February on board, the first in the long career of the ship.
Page 2: The West Point in service
From Australia, the West Point opened to San Francisco, where they 24 April arrived. The often spontaneous Nothilfsmissionen the first months ended for the ship with this trip. The overpowered by the attack on Pearl Harbor U.S. had now drawn up a strategy for fighting the Japanese in the West Point was involved in the further course.
The period from mid-1942 to mid-1944 as the ship spent mainly on missions in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. The main task during this period was undoubtedly the transport of soldiers to their applications. But even ambulance services or the evacuation of people from endangered areas and transports prisoners of war (POWs The first large transport of West Point promoted in April 1943 parts of Rommel's Afrika Korps harvested from Suez to Australia) were among the activities.
Not only U.S. troops were transported, and numerous other military contingents of the armed forces ally themselves, such as Australian, British and New Zealand divisions came to West Point to their destinations.
In the summer of 1942, West Point was further upgraded. Their transport capacity was increased from 5,000 to over 8,000 people and additional anti-aircraft guns mounted. Although this capacity expansion caused a rather cramped conditions on board, but significantly increased their effectiveness. Their speed and high capacity made ??it a strategically important transport ship of the United States in the war. With the ability to bring high of troops quickly to hot spots, the U.S. was able to stop the advance of the Japanese in the Pacific with superior mobility. The West Point brought here only about 40,000 soldiers in the directly threatened by the Japanese invasion of New Guinea Australia.
Since a devastating fire in early September 1942, the West Point until then, often accompanying USS Wakefield drove the ship for safety reasons mostly without escorts and other troop on undisclosed routes, since she was alone a difficult to apt destination for their speed, as in convoy ride slower cruisers and vans. Your speed, agility, and body painting, which ensured that it is difficult to locate the enemy and was even harder to attack, and often from the rail of nowhere, brought her to the nickname "Grey Ghost".
Whenever it was possible, navigating at full steam at a speed of 23 knots, mostly on a zigzag course to provide anti-submarine attacks no Anpeilungsmöglichkeit The Grey Ghost was driving. Top speed was only 5 of the six boiler reaches operating, so that the rotation principle, a boiler could be maintained and service interruptions were unnecessary. The large fuel tanks, which allowed a range of over 11,000 nautical miles, also ensured that the ship had to be relatively rare refueled. Thus, precious time could be saved on the routes.
The West point in 1944 at the U.S. Naval Drydocks at Hunters Point, San Francisco. You can see the mounted defensive guns, as well as the missing railing at the rear, which was replaced by a warship typical folding railing, to not interfere with the guns while in use.
-Picture: U.S. Navy / National Archives-
From 1944, the focus of transportation of West Point shifted with the successful landing of the Allied Normandy in the more into the Atlantic. The ship was used for a kind of line transport from the U.S. to Europe and North Africa.
On the way to Europe, it was transporting troops and reinforcements on the return trips to the USA wounded and prisoners of war.
After the war, West Point was used for the return of American troops and "war brides" to the United States. Until the end of 1945 on the route to Europe from the beginning of 1946 once again in the Pacific.
The last trip, transported back to American military personnel of the Philippines, ended on 7 February 1946 in New York.
West Point at high seas.
-Picture: US Navy, National Archives-
The West Point when arriving in New York, Summer 1942
-Picture: U.S. Navy, National Archives-
left: the dramatic bow view of West Point in 1944 in the Bay of San Francisco. Right: Stern view, same place.
top/down: West Point arrives with victorious troops in the port of New York after the war.
West Point in Melbourne, Australia, March 15, 1943.
-Picture: Newport News SB-
After that West Point was released from her military service. At this time they had an impressive number of more than 500,000 people safely transported to their destinations all over the world and traveled a total distance that corresponds approximately to a 15-fold earth orbit.
Even if the activity appears as a troop transport at first sight after a lackluster career break, it was anything but that, because the ship took part with his missions to the victory of freedom over the totalitarian regimes of injustice in Europe and Asia.
The West Point made her builders all honor and survived this mission without any major damage to man and machine. Not a single person on board lost their lives due to enemy attacks throughout the war. This record is unique and impressive at the same time.
Her crew and a large number of military personnel from that time looks back with pride on their ship, the USS West Point and its brilliantly mastered tasks and will keep them in memory for a lifetime.
Map showing all missions of West Point during the war.
-Newport News Shipyard Bulletin-
(during a trans-Atlantic crossing at 8500 persons on board):
10,000 kg wheat flour, 5,700 kg of sugar, 1,600 kg of butter, 93.600 eggs, a ton of salt, 9,500 kg boneless meat, 1,100 kg of chicken meat, 2,700 kg pork loin, 800 kg of canned ham, 700 kg Bacon, 2,300 kg ham, 2,300 kg pork sausage, 900 kg Turkey, 4,500 kg oranges, 3,200 kg of apples, 4,500 kg cabbage, 31.800 kg potatoes, 2,300 kg of condensed milk, 1,800 kg jam, 1,100 kg onions
West Point filmed from a blimp.
-Picture: Maritime Commission promotion film-
1945, West Point (to the left of the head of the Statue of Liberty) arrives in New York Harbor.
-Picture: Maritime Comission-
West Point, stern view at full speed.
-Picture: Maritime Comission-
During this time, the long travel of the ship often spanned the whole world.
A brief insight into the schedule in early November 1942 to late January 1943
On 1 November 1942 was the West Point from 8326 with U.S. soldiers on board in New York. The aim was Bombay in India, but the long voyage was not without creating intermediate stop. As a first route was taken to South America to replenish fuel and supplies to 5154 miles in Rio de Janero. On 12 November broke the ship from Rio to its over 8300 miles long crossing to Bombay, where it after 17 days at sea on 29 November arrived. Arrived in Bombay most soldiers went on board. The next destination on the route of the West Point was Australia. In the 6021-mile crossing to Melbourne next to the crew were only 40 passengers on board. On 19 December broke the ship from Melbourne with 303 soldiers on board for New Zealand. When entering the two largest cities in the country, Wellington and Auckland, 23 and 26 December, it took more than 7500 New Zealand soldiers to bring them to New Caledonia to defend the island 1145 miles away Noumea. Noumea from the West Point was ordered to Australian Eastern Brisbane to look out for 826 miles at sea on 6 January arrived to Route 8582 with Malaria GIs of the U.S. armed forces in the climate more suitable for a recovery Melbourne. Additional hardships for the patients resulted from the fact that the West Point had too much depth for applying at the pier of the city and had to be brought over to the transport rafts instead anchored in the Brisbane River River Delta passengers 17 miles away. After arriving in Melbourne on 12 January, it went over Auckland 2400 wounded on board back to the U.S. to San Francisco, where the West Point on 31 January arrived.
When an incident off the coast of Brazil, a German torpedo just missed the bow of West Point. Several times during the war rewarded with military honors sinking of the ship was erroneously reported by the Axis powers, which was the third largest troop of Allies alongside the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.
But certainly believed in Colombo in Ceylon arrive at the location of West Point was chaotic. There was not enough to supply provisions to the troop enough for a full load. Thus, the British officials the West Point and Wakefield asked instead, only a small number of troops and personnel to Bombay to lay or to evacuate. On the way to Bombay both transporters were protected from the aging Greek destroyer Queen Olga, a veteran of the first World War. From Bombay, it went to the West Point continues to Suez in Egypt in order to record Australian soldiers who were transferred from the fighting in North Africa back to Australia for home protection against Japan.
Birth certificate of Westpoint Leslie Sheldrake, born 4 February 1942 on the voyage from Singapore to Ceylon on board the ship. His first name was dedicated in gratitude to the place of his birth: the USS West Point.
-Picture: courtesy of Bill Lee-
The West Point is anchored in 1943 in the Bay of Melbourne, Australia. The draught of the vessel was too large for a docking at the city's port a few miles away.
-Picture: U.S. Navy / National Archives-
Letter of Buckingham Palace dedicated to the USS West Point Reunion Association, which emphasizes especially on the participation of the vessel during the evacuation of Singapore. Signed by Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth's husband.