In studying the history of America’s development from a colonial nation to the modern world power of today, it is necessary to pay special attention to the several major wars the United States was involved in. These wars varied in severity ranging from ?minor? skirmishes such as the Spanish American war, to more costly conflicts. Costly in terms of money and loss of life, the Civil War, Vietnam, and both World Wars left lasting impressions on the people who endured them. These wars often defined entire generations of Americans. More often than not, everyone alive in each of these major campaigns was somehow affected in the war. Some served in the military, some worked in the factories that made weapons, while others had relatives who actively participated in the war effort. Recently, the topic of World War II has become a ?hot topic? for Hollywood filmmakers. Movies such as ?Saving Private Ryan?, and ?The Thin Red Line? used graphic scenes of violence and depictions of the hardships of the average soldier on the front line in ways previously unseen in prior World War II movies. The goal of the directors was to remind the younger generations of the bravery and selflessness of the soldiers who served in World War II. The soldiers in these movies were purposely portrayed as a group of men from diverse backgrounds who came together to fight for a common cause. These soldiers were also depicted as average men, not the superhuman men portrayed in earlier films, of which John Wayne is an example. Yet in these movies, these ?average men? were the ones who committed the greatest acts of bravery. In conducting my interview, I realized that this depiction was not far off the mark. The subject of my interview was a man by the name of Richard Albert Lockyer. He is the Grandfather of my girlfriend. He lives in Brewster, Massachusetts, in a small beachfront community of fellow retirees. My previous knowledge of his World War II experience was very limited. All I knew was that he served on a battleship. After interviewing him, I was amazed to hear just how extensive his World War II experience was, and felt honored to know a man who had risked so much for his country.
Richard Lockyer joined the Navy on Washington’s Birthday in 1942. Much the same as many others of his generation, he volunteered for service. He finished his military duty on Christmas Eve in 1945. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Second-Class Quarter Master. For his service he received six medals. Four were for service in several different campaigns. One was a Victory medal, and the final medal was for good conduct. I asked him if this was because of his exemplary behavior, and he replied that he was just good at not getting caught. His assignment on the ship was standing watch on the bridge for his first year of service, after which he was in charge of steering the ship for the next two years. His ship, a destroyer by the name of U.S.S Hambleton received seven stars for battle.
After completing Basic Training, Richard Lockyer was assigned to serve on the U.S.S Hambleton. The first mission assigned to the Hambleton during Mr. Lockyers’ time of service was that of convoy duty in the North Atlantic, beginning in 1942. This was an extremely important assignment. World War II was a war unlike any other war before it. New advances in technologies, weaponry, strategies, and tactics changed the face of warfare immensely. Supplying the giant armies who used these items was as important to success as winning battles. Winning a battle meant nothing if it was not possible to supply the soldiers and keep them in place. The North Atlantic was a main supply line for the allied forces in World War II, as well as the main supply and transport route between America and Britain. The Atlantic was also basically the main route for America to enter Europe with troops, supplies, and munitions. Knowing this, Germany realized that in order to starve Europe, especially Britain, control of the Atlantic was crucial. All of the oil, weapons and food supplied to Britain from America could be sent to the bottom of the ocean very easily. The main transport craft for these goods were American merchantmen. These ships were not made for battle, and soon proved no match for German U-boats. Millions of tons of American supplies were sent to the bottom of the Ocean. This became so rampant that Roosevelt amended the Neutrality acts and allowed U.S battleships to be used as escort convoys. At first, even these armed convoys proved ineffective. Their methods of fighting were obsolete in dealing with the smaller, faster German U-boats. The old method of convoy fighting involved the battleships waiting for the German U-boats to attack. This was ineffective for several reasons. One was that the German U-boats often attacked in teams called Wolfpacks. They were united under one commander, as this made it easier to command a large fleet. The battleships often had several different commanders, and this made it harder to organize an effective counter-attack. Another reason the convoys were ineffective was their method of fighting the U-boats. The battleships were made for long-range combat, and were not as mobile as the U-boats, who used speed and concentrated close range attacks to win the sea battles. Several changes were made in the traditional method of fighting these U-boats. Radar was used, new torpedoes that could be launched over the side of boats were utilized, and the battleships began aggressively pursuing U-boats, instead of waiting for attack. The Hambleton was one of the ships that was primarily used in the latter fashion, that is as an attacker.