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The survivors – now in their 80s and 90s – were honored with Arctic Star medals and an admission from Prime Minister David Cameron that he was ‘righting a wrong’.
The British heroes have previously received medals from Russia in recognition of their valor but until now were unrecognized by their nation.
The Arctic convoys were dubbed the "worst journey in the world" by Winston Churchill. More than 3,000 seamen died on the journey, which was instrumental in making sure Germany had to fight a war on two fronts.
In a scene that must have resembled battles from the wind and sail days of the U.S. Navy, the Roberts and Chikuma began to trade broadsides. The Chikuma, busy firing at the carriers, now divided her fire between the CVEs and the Roberts. Hampered by the closing range and slow rate of fire, Chikuma fired with difficulty at her small, fast opponent. (Early in the battle, when it became apparent that Roberts would have to defend the CVEs against a surface attack, chief engineer "Lucky" Trowbridge bypassed all the engine's safety mechanisms and now the Roberts would be traveling as fast as 28 knots.)
In the annals of US Naval history, there are a number of instances that demonstrate the courage and determination of a committed group of dedicated officers and men. The one that stands out most in many people’s opinions is the battle which occurred on October 25th 1994. On this day, a small group of scrappy warriors took on a force many times its size and contributed to one of the greatest naval victories of all time.
The decision left only a small force of escort carriers and destroyers to cover the beachhead from any further naval attacks. Admiral Kurita still had four battleships, six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and eleven destroyers. Facing that attack, Rear Admiral Sprague had 16 escort carriers and their destroyers. Taffy 3 which only included six small carriers, three destroyers and four destroyer escorts immediately turned east to confront the overwhelming force. The Battle of Samar had begun.
Oct. 26 falls on a Thursday this year. Ask the significance of the date, and you're likely to draw some puzzled looks — five more days to stock up for Halloween? It's a measure of men like Col. Mitchell Paige and Rear Adm. Willis A. "Ching Chong China" Lee that they wouldn't have had it any other way. What they did 58 years ago, they did precisely so their grandchildren could live in a land of peace and plenty.
Mitchel Mitch Paige proved that answer one marine
As Paige — then a platoon sergeant — and his riflemen set about carefully emplacing their four water-cooled Brownings, it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to that most desperate of questions: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 desperate and motivated attackers?
By the time the night was over, "The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men," historian Lippman reports. "The 16th (Japanese) Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties handle 975 Japanese bodies. ... The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low."
"Washington was now the only intact ship left in the force," Lippman writes. "In fact, at that moment Washington was the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet. She was the only barrier between (Admiral) Kondo's ships and Guadalcanal. If this one ship did not stop 14 Japanese ships right then and there, America might lose the war. ...
"Commander Ayrault, Washington's executive officer, clambered down ladders, ran to Bart Stoodley's damage-control post, and ordered Stoodley to cut loose life rafts. That saved a lot of lives. But the men in the water had some fight left in them. One was heard to scream, 'Get after them, Washington!' " Sacrificing their ships by maneuvering into the path of torpedoes intended for the Washington, the captains of the American destroyers had given China Lee one final chance. The Washington was fast, undamaged, and bristling with 16-inch guns. And, thanks to Lt. Hunter's course change, she was also now invisible to the enemy.
But who remembers, today, how close-run a thing it was — the ridge held by a single Marine, the battle won by the last American ship?