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Ben Young Articles
Small Coastal Transport - APc-48

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APc-48 - Combined Edition...

Small Coastal Transport - APc-48
Small Coastal Transport - APc-48
by Ben Young

My curiosity was always up to learn of my maternal Uncle's WWII service in the US Navy...He was one of those veterans who, for reasons of his own, never spoke of his military experiences unless asked a direct question concerning his service...Therefore the only information immediately available to me was the sketchy memories of family members...During my work life, which included USAF service, employment with various companies and operating my own businesses, I could never seem to devote the time needed to fill in the blanks...

Following retirement I was able to begin research starting with picking the brains of family members including my Mom (my uncle's older sister) and my cousins, all of whom provided much valuable information, including the saved letters my Uncle had written to my Mom from the Pacific Theater...These letters allowed me to determine the ship upon which he served, as well as his rating and some of the areas to which his unit deployed...Not being his direct descendant prevented me from obtaining his personal military records from either the VA or his hometown county courthouse...His widow and their only child had also gone on to their reward...The internet then became my primary source of information concerning the Small Coastal Transports (as these hulls were classified by the CNO)...

I was further directed to the declassified records in the National Archives Records Administration (NARA) and the handful of books which barely mention the existence of the APc's, including Cmdr. David Bruhn's "Pacific Island Hoppers," Adm. WR Carter's "Beans, Bullets and Black Oil" and Adm. SE Morison's "History of US Naval Operations in WWII"...Pooling all these sources, I was able to publish first "APc-48" then "APc-48 - Journeys" followed by the dual work, "APc-48 - Combined Edition"...To my knowledge, this is the only published work telling of the history of the Small Coastal Transports and their officers and crews from their inception, through the war and on to the civilian use of many of the surviving ships...

These tiny, unarmored, wooden 100-foot ships served as guides leading the many invasion forces through the reef-infested waters of the Solomon and other islands of the Pacific, then stayed afterwards to keep the occupation forces supplied with needed materials...Their versatility was soon discovered by many enterprising task force commanders who found uses for them and their crews undreamed of by the nautical engineers who first designed the ships...Although never built for blue-water service, they were nevertheless seaworthy enough to withstand the pounding of trans-oceanic service, APc-1 having been spoken of as successfully making seven crossings, including one after significant typhoon damage...

This is the culmination of seven years of research plus nearly a year in writing...For those who have read the book, I would appreciate any reviews of it, whether good, bad or indifferent, on the book's webpage listed at the bottom, or any of the many war-related forums across the internet...Neal Ash, who administers the "USS APc-1 WWII" Facebook group and whose Grandfather served aboard APc-1, was kind enough to write the foreword to the Combined Edition...Enclosed here is an excerpt briefly describing the chapters comprising the first volume:

Within this volume, readers will find chapters loosely categorized in this author's attempt at continuity for coherent study... Beginning the Research outlines the steps taken in reweaving the fabric of time...This task in itself is hopeless for those expecting to reach accurate visions of past events, for it must be understood by all that no crystal ball will ever be able to fill the many empty holes found in any testimony...

The Ship Itself, and the following chapter, Lynch Shipbuilders, concern the details of forming for the reader a more accurate depiction of the housing provided for my uncle and his shipmates as they set out for a three year trek through uncertain waters...The passage of 75 years since its construction did not help in attempting to paint an unflawed portrait...

The title, Passing Through, describes the hurried view most sailors would have had of Pearl Harbor, and their attending brief memories would necessarily have been a jumble of seemingly disconnected events as they tried to pack every moment with opportunities unlikely to be seen again, especially by the many who would not return...In the guesswork that necessitated the chapter titled, Likely Deployment Locations, the absence of published ship's logs from the smaller vessels of war forced speculative descriptions of where APc-48 might have found itself, but not conclusively where it was in actuality...Pacific Theater commanders, both Navy and Army, having discovered the versatility and adaptability of the little "applecarts," continually found new uses for them in their operations due to their maneuverability in shallow, coastal island waters, and consequently not only requested, but sometimes commandeered their use for temporary assignments...With this in mind, and with few published facts, the locations and purposes discussed in this chapter are mentioned only as "likely," but certainly unconfirmed for APc-48...

Why the Southwest Pacific? is an attempt to explain why such a remote location, alternately seen by some as an unspoiled paradise, and others as an uninhabitable pesthole to be avoided, gained importance as a battleground to be conquered and retained at all costs...

The Problem of Supply introduces a cohesive factor binding together all those who contribute to the success of wartime supply, both then and now, and adds still other members of my own family to this discussion...Japanese Supply Lines is presented in the pursuit of fair representation of the problems faced by the enemy on the subject, and its effect on their possibilities of victory...

The reasoning behind the inclusion of Service Squadron Ten as a chapter subject was not so much positive evidence of APc-48's participation, as it was the volume of authoritative information available contained in Navy Archives... APc-48's possible presence remains shrouded in mystery at this date... Identifying the Enemy is a short treatise which concerns itself with the multi-layered facets to be dealt with when making decisions based on our own observations, or those of others in trusted positions...As always, the clearest lens for judging others will be found in hindsight, and examples from historical accounts are offered in evidence of this point...

Life at Sea is a general discussion of the few amenities available on various vessels to crewmembers taken from the censored letters home, and depictions drawn from other published sources...Similarly, Life on Attu, and Life at Home are attempts to convey some of the adjustments and compensations necessary for the transitions from a time of peace, even in the tailend of an economic depression, to a war of global scale as close relations were torn from each other, and dropped into a hostile and forbidding climate... The Job Itself is an attempt to reconstruct the responsibilities and benefits of unfamiliar tasks taken on by those who were forced to assume new duties for new purposes in an ever-changing and deadly world...

In the absence of direct testimony from my uncle of his exposure to war on the open sea, Experiences of Others contains the eyewitness narrations and other evidence gathered concerning the officers and crewmen aboard the other APc's, and similar small crafts in the Pacific Theater ... Those Who Will Never Return discusses the many and varied reasons why many stories cannot be told, under any circumstances...Those who are fallen cannot speak, unless history speaks for them...

The lessons taken from any series of events, and especially more so, those in war, are valuable only if applied with the diligence in which they were learned... Applying What Was Learned is a short narration of the use of the new skills learned, and new talents discovered as a result of a forced education received in those tumultuous times... An attempt is made following the concluding chapter in tying up loose ends left dangling in this foreword...The astute reader will note some lack of continuity in this Epilogue as this author has learned enough while researching for this effort to answer some of his own questions, and perhaps even reshape a few of his own theories...This, after all, is the desired result of any investigation; either reaffirmation or negation of previously held beliefs...

The research concluded in the second volume, "APc-48 - Journeys" confirmed much of the speculation in the first, while illuminating some of the foggier areas with clearer information...One of the sources most helpful was the naval website, NavSource, which has now added the Combined Edition to its recommended reading list...It is my wish that my work will inspire others to research and write of the other Small Coastal Transports which served with their crews in both the Pacific and Atlantic Theaters, as well as the other auxiliary and support units which combined with the combat units in achieving victory in the costliest war in history...

The following books and web sources were drawn on during the composition of this article:

"APc-48 - Combined Edition:" http://www.lulu.com/shop/ben-young/apc-48-combined-edition/hardcover/product-23440175.html

Truckman Bookstore: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Truckman

USS APc-1 WWII FaceBook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/452125738475268/about/

"Pacific Island Hoppers:" http://www.davidbruhn.com/

NavSource APc-48 page: http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/23/23048.htm

"Beans, Bullets and Black Oil:" https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/b/beans-bullets-black-oil.html

"History of US Naval Operations in WWII:" https://www.usni.org/store/books/history-us-naval-operations-world-war-ii

©2018 Ben Young

Written by Ben Young. If you have questions or comments on this article, please contact Ben Young at: 1Truckman@gmail.com. His bookstore is at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Truckman/.

About the author:
Ben Young served honorably as a Weapons Specialist (Nuclear and Conventional) in the USAF...He also worked as a skilled laborer in factories, welder, NIASE certified auto and truck mechanic and service manager...He operated his own auto repair business and a firearms sales business...He eventually built his own full-service gun store and indoor shooting range before retiring to begin a new career as an author of blogs and books....

Published online: 04/07/2018.

* Views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent those of MHO.

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