That Gallant Ship: U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5)

Yorktown (2)

About the Book

That Gallant Ship is a very thorough history of the CV-5 from the inception of the U.S. aircraft carriers and through the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, which provided for construction of 32 ships–including two aircraft carriers (CV-5 and CV-6, Yorktown and Enterprise). Official photos carry the story, as well as Cressman’s details of the laying of the keel in 1934 and christening in 1936 by Eleanor Roosevelt.

A map shows Yorktown’s operations in the Atlantic, providing escort for several Neutrality Patrols during 1941. Sent into the Pacific after Pearl Harbor was attacked, the ship was part of the very early raids and battles of the war. Maps and dramatic photos follow the carrier through the Battle of the Coral Sea, where she was damaged, and eventual loss at the Battle of Midway in June 1942.

The Author

CressmanRobert (2)

Robert Cressman was a historian in the Ships Histories Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC. A graduate of the University of Maryland where he studied under Dr Gordon W Prang. He contributed to two volumes of the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, the Dictionary of American Military Biography, as well as others. His Official Chronology of the United States Navy in World War II received a John Lyman Book Award (1999) and his body of work on U.S. naval aviation history was recognized by the Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award (2008).

My Thoughts

This is the best resource on the USS Yorktown (CV-5) for research about day by day, even hour by hour, operations. Since my uncle, Donald W. Wilson, a plank owner on this ship, had written details about his first experience during combat–the Battle of the Coral Sea. He had to abandon ship twice during the Battle of Midway, I wanted to learn details of the battle to go along with his own memories. Because he was part of the volunteer salvage attempt, he was given a citation by Adm. Chester Nimitz and awarded a Naval Commendation Medal.

The book includes Notes, chapter by chapter, and a Bibliography.


    • I hope he wrote down his experiences! I gave a program to a Questers group yesterday. Their roll call was about veterans in their families. Something came up about how the Japanese could have made things worse at Pearl Harbor but didn’t. I’ve wondered whether one reason we didn’t lose the war fairly early was because NONE of our 8 aircraft carriers were there that day! (The Yorktown had been based at Pearl until being sent to the Atlantic in 1941 for Neutrality Patrol.) The Langley (CV-1) was scuttled and sunk in 1942. But four of our main carriers were lost in battles in 1942, leaving only three!

      • I think the carriers being at sea had a lot to do with our success. It gave us the ability to immediately strike back (The Doolittle Raid), which was a major boost to US morale and bought us some time. While only minor physical damages were done to Japan, there were significant psychological effects on both sides.

      • Amen. Doolittle had the shortest “runway” that day. Still hard to believe that he even came up with the idea launching from a carrier with medium-sized bombers!

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