While London and the rest of the world are fighting a new war, I was thinking about an older war this weekend. The scope and enormity of World War Two still staggers me! I once read where an author described it as, “The largest collective human endeavor in the history of mankind” yet most people living today know very little about it. On Saturday and Sunday, I visited a few key places historically involved in what the British call the Second World War.
Today, on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, I visited the aircraft carrier USS Hornet CV-12 in Alameda. CV-12 was commissioned in November of 1943, nearly a year and a half after the battle of Midway, but she saw plenty of action from World War Two through the Viet Nam War. It was also CV-12 that picked up the astronauts Neil Armstrong, “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins after their historic first trip to the moon in July of 1969. The previous Hornet CV-8 which was at the Battle of Midway was lost in November of 1942. It was at this same spot that Hornet CV-8 sailed out from Alameda with the Doolittle Raiders when they bombed Japan in April of 1942.
The command center of the aircraft carrier is called “the island”, seen in the top photo in April of 1945. I was able to take a tour of the island on Sunday.
World War Two fighter planes on the aft or rear section of the flight deck in 1945 and the aft of the flight deck with San Francisco in the background from the control section of the island:
A plane lands on the aft of the flight deck during World War Two: Notice another plane in the upper right preparing to land. The bottom picture is the fore or forward section of the flight deck seen from the island.
Fort Mason from the air during the 1920’s and Fort Mason on Saturday: Fort Mason was a major embarkation point for the Pacific Theater of the Second World War, and the scope of activity that took place here during the war is hard to comprehend. (Vintage photo from OpenSFHistory.org)
The entry gate to Fort Mason in 1953: (OpenSFHistory.org)
It was here at the old Fort Mason Train Tunnel that Clint Eastwood encounters three hoods while trying to deliver ransom money in one of my favorite scenes from 1971’s ‘Dirty Harry’. The bottom photo is where Harry entered the tunnel today. There has been much talk about reopening the tunnel for bicyclists or an extension of the F Line of streetcars, but nothing has come about yet.
The unveiling of the Fort Mason stone marker in 1925: The wording is different today and I’m not even sure it’s the same stone, but it’s still impressive.