World War II
World War II pitted Germany, Italy and Japan against the rest of the world. There were a number of countries that claimed neutrality, but that was the exception. Initially, the U.S. tried to unofficially stay out of the war but when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii on Sunday December 7, 1941 it all changed. Germany then officially declared war on the U.S.. World War II was a conflict of land, sea and air across the globe across all borders.
The Atlantic and Pacific oceans along with other seas formed the lifeline of troops and supplies and many engagements occurred on and under the waters where they became the cemetery of sailors.
The conflict ended with V-E in May and then V-J Day in September of 1945.
The U.S. Navy did a lot of heavy lifting in both the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. In the Atlantic the USN was the lifeline to Great Britain. They played a key role in the Invasions of Normandy and Southern France delivering troops and supplies while also providing heavy gun fire. The Fleet had a larger area of responsibility in the Pacific. Destroyers, Battleships, Cruisers and Carriers comprised large striking forces and troop carriers delivered Army and Marine units to the shores of many islands.
The large capital ships required security. The supply ships required security. Security from enemy ships, submarines and aircraft. This was the duty of the Destroyer Escort. They carried small caliber cannon, mortars and torpedoes. They where also equipped with Sonar for submarine detection. The DEs would form what was termed 'picket lines' to create what was also called a 'screen' to protect the ships in their convoy as well as coastal installations.
While the carriers and battleships received all the headline recognition, their escorts provided an invaluable service enabling those ships to arrive at their destinations. For the great distances of travel in the Pacific, the escorting of the supply ships, those with munitions and the oilers with fuel, has been largely overlooked by historians. These convoys formed a vital function similar to the Red Ball Express convoys in Europe. The Hilbert, a Cannon Class Destroyer Escort, was part of these screens.