War at Sea no.40 1961

Rare War at Sea includes five epic naval battles
Just received this amazing book from my father-in-law. This is the last comic he has from his childhood, surviving a few moves along the way. He’s a huge history buff so I feel extra privileged to have him entrust me with this memento.

War at Sea Vol 2, no. 40, Feb 1961 by Charlton.

War at Sea the series

War at Sea took over numbering from Space Adventures with no.22 in 1957. Issues 40 & 41 are rare books online. There isn’t much information on them out there. No. 42 ended the series a few months later. In 1975, many of the original series’ stories were reprinted in the Charlton reprint title called War, but none of the stories in this issue, making this particular issue even more rare.

Magnificent Fools

Magnificent Fools splash

“The Magnificent Fools” by Charles Nicholas (Chasal) finds US Destroyer DD413 steaming alone in the hostile Baltic Sea with only a fog bank for cover. After taking a quick poll of department morale, the Lt Cmdr decides to make the suicide run into the Danish harbor. Her crew takes on a Nazi cruiser, 6 warplanes, and a dozen destroyers in tight waters with only her 5×5″ guns, 4x.50 cal and 8 torpedoes.

DD413 USS Mustin , Sims-class destroyer
The real DD413 was the USS Mustin, a Sims-class destroyer which served in the Pacific in WW2.

I love how this one ends: “This war will be won by magnificent fools like you …STOP signed Churchill”

First Crossing

Convoy escorts cut through the cold waters of the North Atlantic

“First Crossing” starts with “Jan 1942…howling gales piled the North Atlantic into moving gray mountains…” The warship on the splash (730) referred to as USS Bardman doesn’t have a match in Navy registry. DD730 Collett wasn’t commissioned until 1943 and was a 6-gun Allen M Sumner class ship. The Bardman is clearly a 4-gun ship, possibly Benson-class with their dual stacks.

USS Benson
A British escort, possibly a Captain-class Frigate, radios to take up station on port side one mile from column leader. The ID says 133, which corresponds to HMCS Quesnel, a Corvette. Polish and Canadian escorts are also in formation.

The British destroyer

Explosions on the ocean’s surface

There’s no sugar-coating for this post-code war title. Seaman Second Class Breed’s first Atlantic crossing sees him shoot U-boat machine gunners with his deck gun and then get sick from it. Many enemy ships are destroyed as well as a bomber, but 8 freighters also go under on this “successful” crossing. This story paints a realistic picture of the deadly threat the wolfpacks posed.

USS Matchsticks

“USS Matchsticks” has a freighter run aground near Sumatra in a typhoon. The Naval crew are forced to scuttle her before they drew more attention as Japanese patrols had spotted her before the storm. They still need to deliver their cargo: an Army artillery detail. The skipper crafts a daring plan to build a huge raft out of material on the jungle island. Lashing thick bales to the giant raft’s perimeter to protect from five inch shells, they load the howitzers aboard. Those same howitzers blast an enemy destroyer in two while they wait for Australian air cover to escort them the rest of the way.

USS Matchstick tells of battlefield grit, ingenuity and survival

Twin Army howitzers fire from the makeshift transport

Monitor vs. Merrimac (Virginia)

The text story takes the form of a war letter between Franklyn Henderson Burson and “John” in Washington DC in what appears to be soon after 1865. It’s an interesting way to cover history, detailing how the Union had to scuttle the 40-gun frigate, the Merrimac. When the Confederates raised the ship along with another, they had themselves a navy.

“The Monitor and Merrimac: The First Fight Between Ironclads”, a chromolithograph of the Battle of Hampton Roads, produced by Louis Prang & Co., Boston Date on uncropped original: “Copyright 1886”
The Merrimac was cut down and modified with heavy timbers and thick plating using railroad iron. Rechristened the Virginia, she terrorized the Union navy, as the story relates: “Many of the shots hit the Merrimac but they rebounded from her sides like marbles thrown at a brick wall.”

A Swedish born immigrant named John Ericsson designed the perfect foil in the small but even more heavily armored Monitor. The two ironclads tangled at Hampton Roads, as depicted above.

The Last Round

The Last Round has two Olympic boxers meet in the War at Sea

In “The Last Round”, Charles Nicholas interleaves a boxing match with a war at sea between the two pugilists. The opponents have faced each other four times in the ring, now they face off on the high seas. Otto Mann puts a fish right into Jim Kegley’s destroyer escort in their next meeting, but Jim’s rescue saves him for the final match. When the sub surfaces, Kegley’s new ship, a big fast destroyer, rams the unterseeboot (u-boat) at full speed.

In WW2, DD210 was the John L Broome, a Clemson-class destroyer originally commissioned in 1919. She served as an escort for 11 Atlantic convoys in WW2 and may very well have rammed a u-boat or two.

War at Sea no.40 is a terrific book, especially as the title was winding down in 1961.


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