Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

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Sid Guttridge
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Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Oct 2020 23:28

Hi Guys,

I have seen reference to the US Navy having a "Special Squadron 4" based at Villefranche-sur-Mer in France in 1938-39.

Why did the US Navy have such a deployment in France at this time?

Was it related to the Spanish Civil War?

Of what ships did it consist?

Many thanks,

Sid.

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Takao
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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Takao » 15 Oct 2020 00:42

It's Wikipedia.

Google "Squadron 40-T", and you should find what you are looking for. It was composed of an Omaha class light cruiser(IIRC, TRENTON was one, maybe others. Along with some old 4-Piper destroyers. It was there partially for the Spanish Civil War and partially to show-the-flag in Europe and the Med. Sometimes referred to as European Squadron 40-T, sometimes Mediterranean Squadron 40-T, but mostly just Squadron 40-T.

Edit - T is for Temporary.

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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Oct 2020 10:55

Hi Takao,

Many thanks. I was intrigued because the USS Badger, one of the "four piper" destroyers, was still there after the outbreak of WWII, when France was already at war.

I will follow up your leads.

Thanks again,

Sid.

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Takao
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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Takao » 15 Oct 2020 11:28

Sid Guttridge wrote:
15 Oct 2020 10:55
Hi Takao,

Many thanks. I was intrigued because the USS Badger, one of the "four piper" destroyers, was still there after the outbreak of WWII, when France was already at war.

I will follow up your leads.

Thanks again,

Sid.
Yes, once war was declared, Squadron 40-T had to move to a Neutral port. Lisbon, Portugal, was chosen, and the Squadron transferred there on October 1, 1939. The USS Badger was only in Lisbon for a few days, before being sent back to the United States - she left Lisbon on October 5, 1939.

Good luck in your research, as Squadron 40-T is one of those that has been mostly forgotten over time and the other events concerning the early war.

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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Oct 2020 17:27

Theres a WI wild card. The squadron leaves the French port & is massacred by a fan of torpedoes from a over eager submarine commander lurking nearby. Isolationist in the US claim proof of their case. Anti Facists & the embryonic warhawks make their claims about nazi perfidy.

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Takao
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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Takao » 16 Oct 2020 21:38

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
15 Oct 2020 17:27
Theres a WI wild card. The squadron leaves the French port & is massacred by a fan of torpedoes from a over eager submarine commander lurking nearby. Isolationist in the US claim proof of their case. Anti Facists & the embryonic warhawks make their claims about nazi perfidy.
Not much of one, since the US was not ready to fight another war. It would have played out much the same as the sinking of the USS REUBEN JAMES two years later...Both sides go through their posturing and the situation remain the same.

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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Oct 2020 03:18

A bit different than the Rueben James. That is one ship torpedoed vs two or maybe three. Then theres the question of neutral ships, not at GQ or other advance combat ready condition. Occurring in September 1939 it would be a bit more inflammatory. maybe it works for the isolationists in the near term, but I'd think the warhawks would coalesce faster in this case.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 17 Oct 2020 20:54

Gents,

Thanks, I'd never heard of this USN deployment before. That must have been a popular assignment.

Regards

Tom

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genstab
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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by genstab » 18 Oct 2020 15:06

It's kind of disgraceful that the ships described were sent. The US Navy had many more modern ships then- there were several classes of two-gun turret (with three turrets) destroyers built between the wars, much more modern than the old four stack destroyers, and a couple of 1930s heavy cruisers should have been sent rather than an obsolete light cruiser with one-gun turrets. Jeez.
Best,
Bill in Cleveland

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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Oct 2020 17:24

I cant speak for the USN in 1939, but in the USMC in the 1980s it was the habit to have the oldest most worn out junk deployed overseas. Unless they were making some sort of specific point the slick new stuff was sent to places like the US training areas, Hawaii, Pananma, the forward depots in Norway or the IO. Operating in Korea, Okinawa, Thailand ect we were dragging around M101 howitzers behind overaged 2.5 ton trucks. Our Medium or heavy batteries were 1950s era M114 & M110 howitzer. The shiny new M198 cannon & slick new M900 series five ton trucks all were inlace in the continental artillery battalions long before the transition training teams showed up at the 12th Marines. Even in the late 1980s BLTs went ashore in Europe with M101 howitzers while the new cannon remained aboard ship, or back in North Carolina.

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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by OldBill » 19 Oct 2020 21:34

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Oct 2020 03:18
A bit different than the Rueben James. That is one ship torpedoed vs two or maybe three. Then theres the question of neutral ships, not at GQ or other advance combat ready condition. Occurring in September 1939 it would be a bit more inflammatory. maybe it works for the isolationists in the near term, but I'd think the warhawks would coalesce faster in this case.
I think your spot on with this. One ship, when we have been actively aggressively in the Atlantic, yeah, that's one thing. Two or three, with the certainty of high casualties on the US ships, thats another kettle of fish.

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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Takao » 20 Oct 2020 00:20

genstab wrote:
18 Oct 2020 15:06
It's kind of disgraceful that the ships described were sent.
Not really, the more modern destroyers were retained with the Battle Fleet, which is where they would be needed. Besides, it is better to lose one of the old ships if there are any "accidents."
genstab wrote:
18 Oct 2020 15:06
The US Navy had many more modern ships then- there were several classes of two-gun turret (with three turrets) destroyers built between the wars, much more modern than the old four stack destroyers,
Your thinking of the late-war Sumner/Gearings.
The inter-war destroyer-leaders were the PORTER class & SOMERS class with 4 twin single-purpose 5-inch guns.
genstab wrote:
18 Oct 2020 15:06
and a couple of 1930s heavy cruisers should have been sent rather than an obsolete light cruiser with one-gun turrets. Jeez.
Best,
Bill in Cleveland
The heavy cruisers were not needed. So, why send them?

Also, the OMAHA's had 2 twin & 8 single 6-inch guns.

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Takao
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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Takao » 20 Oct 2020 00:26

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Oct 2020 03:18
A bit different than the Rueben James. That is one ship torpedoed vs two or maybe three. Then theres the question of neutral ships, not at GQ or other advance combat ready condition. Occurring in September 1939 it would be a bit more inflammatory. maybe it works for the isolationists in the near term, but I'd think the warhawks would coalesce faster in this case.
Three would be overly optimistic, and two would probably have to be a very lucky shooting - Given that the U-Boats only had 4 forward facing torpedo tubes.

It might be a bit more inflammatory, however, the US is not in any shape to enter the war in 1940.

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genstab
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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by genstab » 20 Oct 2020 11:54

A heavy cruiser or two was to replace the obsolete battleship.

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Takao
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Re: Reason for US Navy deployment in France, 1938-39?

Post by Takao » 20 Oct 2020 12:24

genstab wrote:
20 Oct 2020 11:54
A heavy cruiser or two was to replace the obsolete battleship.
What obsolete battleship? TRENTON was a light cruiser. And again...Why?

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