THE AMPHIBIANS ARE COMING!
Emergence of the ‘Gator Navy and its Revolutionary Landing Craft
(Vol. I in the series: Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific in WWII)
by William L. McGee
Foreword by John Lorelli, To Foreign Shores, U.S. Amphibious Operations in WWII
BMC Publications, 2000
308 pp, 110 B/W photographs, 13 maps, plus charts, appendices, notes, bibliography, and index. Paperback 6” x 9”, $29.95.
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About the Book
The primary objective of THE AMPHIBIANS ARE COMING! — Volume I in William L. McGee’s acclaimed Pacific war series, AMPHIBIOUS OPERATIONS IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC IN WWII — is to provide a biographical history of the revolutionary World War II landing craft and the unsung heroes who manned them:
- Puts the reader aboard the revolutionary landing craft designed and built to speed assault troops directly to the beach.
- Provides a brief history of amphibious warfare, from the Revolutionary War to the 1942 Guadalcanal and North Africa campaigns.
- Profiles the famed “Green Dragons,” the high-speed destroyer transports that filled a pressing Marine Corps need for ship-to-shore delivery prior to the availability of the new landing craft.
- Focuses on the “Earlybird” Flotilla Five LCTs, LSTs and LCIs and their crews, from landing craft design and construction, to amphibious training and crew and flotilla formations, and to on-the-job warfare training in the Southern Solomons — all in preparation for their first invasion of enemy-held territory, Operation TOENAILS.
From the Foreword
“McGee combines exhaustive research with the words of the men who took the theory of the amphibious doctrine and the new machines to sea. His dedicated work will surely help keep the day-to-day naval record of the ‘Greatest Generation’ from being lost.”
—John Lorelli, author of To Foreign Shores, U.S. Amphibious Operations in WWII
Other Titles in the Series
Vol. II, THE SOLOMONS CAMPAIGNS, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville, Pacific War Turning Point
Vol. III, PACIFIC EXPRESS: The Critical Role of Military Logistics in World War II
LEATHERNECK, Magazine of the Marines, July 2001
William L. McGee both built and served with amphibians in the early days of the Guadalcanal invasion. He has authored the first of his intended three-volume treatment of the WWII `Gator Navy in the Pacific. The reader is regaled with the tales of the first amphibians and the men who sailed them. Through ships’ logs, war diaries and oral histories, we learn about the experiences of these early “plankowners” of “Earlybird” Flotilla Five. For the most part, they were naval novelists, and we can catch a small glimpse of their enormous tasks, trials and challenges. . . . We look forward to the next two volumes of the series. This first volume is an easy read. It recalls the saga of an oft neglected but highly hazardous aspect of America’s naval war waged in the vast and expansive waters of the Pacific Ocean and will prove a welcome reference library addition.—Robert Loring
MILITARY Magazine, June 2001
The author is to be commended for the research and excellent preparation of The Amphibians Are Coming! For me, it tied me closer to the Navy I was a part of.
SEA CLASSICS Magazine, April 2002
William L. McGee’s first action in WWII occurred on the day he arrived in the South Pacific when his ship was attacked by a flight of Japanese bombers, the worst since Pearl Harbor. From that day on, McGee was up to his armpits in the Pacific War.
A prolific writer and astute historian, McGee’s latest effort is part of a series dedicated to the Navy’s amphibious forces of WWII. First published late in 2000, Volume I, “The Amphibians Are Coming!” was an immediate sell-out and is now in reprint. What we have here is a very readable biographical history of revolutionary WWII landing craft and their crews. The book focuses on the landing craft themselves: their evolution, baptism of fire, and training and deployment as the tip of the sword in every amphibious Pacific invasion. McGee offers immense detail on these unique flat-bottomed vessels—the LCTs, LCIs, LSTs and LSMs that formed the sea-going ridge which took us to Tokyo. He also examines the background of amphibious warfare, how it was employed in North Africa, and profiles other interesting vessels like the “Green Dragon” high-speed destroyer transports which presaged many of the landing craft. All in all, this volume is an amazing job of research and skillful presentation.
SEA HISTORY Magazine, NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Winter 2000-01
The author’s background as shipyard worker and later participant in Pacific landings in World War II gives authenticity and spice to this account of the conception, growth, and operations of U.S. landing craft in the Pacific theater.
THE ELSIE ITEM, Newsletter of the USS LCI National Association, Inc., March 2001
If your children or grandchildren have ever asked, “What did you do in the war?” then point them to McGee’s The Amphibians Are Coming! Bill McGee, a prolific author and veteran of naval service in the South Pacific, has written a book that will do any “Amphibian” proud. He has managed by dint of exceptional research and extensive interviews, to perfectly blend the historical development of naval amphibious forces with humorous anecdotal references. You will find yourself chuckling and nodding in the affirmative as you recall your own moments of terror, mind-numbing boredom and outrageous pranks. McGee tells his story by following the formations of the Flotilla 5 LCTs, LSTs and LCIs, from the formation of their crews in the states, through their training (or lack thereof), crossing the Pacific, and their arrival and operations in the Solomon Islands. It is a compelling story of “green” crews, “green” officers, “green” dragons, and “green” camouflage. . . . Throughout the book, you will find yourself saying, “Yup, that was us.” Read this book and I will guarantee that you will have a renewed respect for the guy you see in the mirror every morning.—Howard Clarkson, USS LCI National Association
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW, December 2000
A deeply engaging biographical history of World War II ship-to-shore landing craft and their crews….A welcome and informative addition to personal, academic, and community library World War II history and reference collections.
PRAISE FROM READERS
■ Amphibians Are Coming! describe miracles: bringing LSTs and other landing vessels into high production in a short time; bringing together untrained officers and men to perform tasks which should have taken months of training; making all this work under unbelievable combat conditions.
—Mel Barger, Author of Large Slow Target
■ Your books brought tears to my eyes. A “must read” for all sea services veterans and their descendants.
—Charles C. Espy, Lt (jg), USNR, SS Thomas Nelson, Armed Guard C.O.
■ To say Bill McGee is a serious naval historian is an understatement. As they say in the Navy, well done!
—W. C. Hilderbrand, Capt, CEC, USN (Ret), CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation
■ Amphibians Are Coming! is a “must read” for all Armed Guard and merchant mariners and their families.
—C.A. Lloyd, Chairman, USN Armed Guard Veterans of WWII
■ Having experienced a full measure of life at sea during WWII, I find your military histories detailed, vivid, accurate. They capture the essence of that war.
—Anthony P. Tesori, USNR, Gunnery Officer, LST-340
■ I heard about this book from my cousin, John A. McNeill Sr, skipper of the LCT-159 of the Solomons campaign. I was a sailor on USS LSM-342 which evolved out of the LCT in 1943 and first hit the beaches in the Philippines in 1944. Every ‘amphib’ needs to have all three volumes of William McGee’s series, Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific in WWII so the next generation can read and learn what their loved ones went through.
—Royce N. McNeill, USS LSM-LSMR Association
■ Amphibians Are Coming! is a long-awaited dream since it deals with my kind of war. You’ve brought great pride and joy to thousands who were there and to future generations who will learn how America fought in World War II.
—John A. McNeill Sr., USNR, Officer-in-Charge, LCT-159
■ Having done my own research for the famed “Green Dragons”—the history of the Four Stack APD (Destroyer Transports) in WWII—I consider your Amphib’s book a must read for anyone interested in the history of our great amphibious navy that was so instrumental in winning WWII.
—Curt Clark, Secretary, The Four Stack APD Veterans
■ A masterful job in dealing with the wide range of Amphibians. You included just the right amount of detail to make the book very readable.
—Alfred J. Ormston, Skipper, LCI-334
■ My father, a Flotilla Five veteran, pulled rank and read the book first. It’s filled with many personal accounts of the pioneering men of Flotilla Five and gave me an idea of what life was like in those days of the war in the South Pacific. For my father, it brought back many memories.
—Richard Fox, Webmaster, LCT Flotillas of WWII
■ Excellent reading.
—”Frenchy” Maurais, Duty Yeoman, USS McCawley (aka “Wackymac”)
■ Truly comprehensive.
—Robert M. Carr, Skipper, LCT-364
■ I went into the Amphib fleet after I saw the Missouri go out of commission in 1955. I’m fascinated with small craft of the Navy and thank you for the wonderful contribution you are making to keep this history alive.
—Herbert Fahr Jr, President, 1998-2000, USS Missouri (BB-63) Association
■ I was on LCT-146 that was transported to Noumea, New Caledonia on LST-399 as narrated in your book. I am still in close contact with a navy buddy who was on LST-398 that transported his LCT-145 as narrated on page 162 in your book. I would like a copy of your book sent to him as a gift.
—Howard Breckenfeld, USN
■ Your book reminded me of how easy it was to lose one’s life then. Your story of the ship’s gun crew firing at planet Venus gave me a chuckle. Some gun crews were really trigger-happy and dangerous.
—Paul Clodfelter, First Special Naval Construction Battalion
■ Another great book. There is very good coverage of the amphibs’ role during the Solomons campaigns.
—Jacob Miller, Fightin’ Foxes Reunions
■ Being an “old amphib”, I never really knew how much I didn’t know about the new landing crafts’ humble beginnings. I look forward to Volume II and highly recommend not only amphib sailors read it, but all those interested in the Navy and WWII. Great stuff!
—Bill Bartz, Capt., USNR-R, President, ACU Veterans Group