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  WWII U.S. NAVY COMMISSIONING PENNANT FROM THE U.S.S. CASWELL, TOLLAND-CLASS ATTACK CARGO SHIP, COMMISSIONED DEC. 13, 1944, THAT PARTICIPATED IN OKINAWA IN SUPPORT OF THE 6TH MARINES

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 17" x 32.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 2.75" x 64.75 (unfruled)
Description....:
WWII U.S. NAVY COMMISSIONING PENNANT FROM THE U.S.S. CASWELL, TOLLAND-CLASS ATTACK CARGO SHIP, COMMISSIONED DEC. 13, 1944, THAT PARTICIPATED IN OKINAWA IN SUPPORT OF THE 6TH MARINES:

7 star U.S. Navy commissioning pennant from the U.S.S. Caswell (AKA-72), a Tolland-class attack cargo ship commissioned December 13th, 1944, during WWII at the Charleston Navy Yard, South Carolina. Like all AKA's, it was designed to carry military cargo and landing craft, and to use the latter to land weapons, supplies, and Marines on enemy shores during amphibious operations. The Caswell participated most notably at Okinawa, where it took part in landing support of the 6th U.S. Marines.*

Commissioning pennants are the distinguishing mark of a commissioned U.S. Navy ship. A ship became commissioned when this pennant was hoisted. Flown during both times of peace and war, the only time the pennant is not flown is if a flag officer or civilian official is aboard and replaces it with their own flag.

Commissioning pennants were once very important in their role as signals and thus needed to be seen from great distance. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they usually exceed ten feet in length, with some reaching as long as a hundred feet. During the 1st quarter of the 20th they became largely ceremonial and customary. Most range between four feet and six feet in length. Today the largest commissioning pennants measure two-and-a-half inches by six feet, like this example.

Note that there are two sizes of stars, 4 larger and 3 smaller. Though the purpose is unknown, this arrangement is seen on many other commissioning pennants. It is interesting to note that according to the U.S. Navy, the reason for the choice of 7 stars was not recorded. I have always suspected that the number might reference the "7 Seas", though this is an ancient term and geographers disagree on the precise meaning. The number may just as likely have represented what seemed like a logical design choice when the overall length was substantially shortened.

Construction: This particular pennant is made of wool bunting with cotton stars that are appliqu├ęd with a zigzag, machine stitch. There is a sailcloth canvas binding on the hoist with a single, white metal grommet. On one side of the hoist binding, "U.S.S. Caswell" was inscribed with a felt tip pen. On the other is the following text: "Commissioned Dec 13 1944 Charleston N.Y. [Navy Yard]."

Further history of the U.S.S. Caswell:

Caswell, a Type C2-S-AJ3 ship, was launched on 24 October 1944 by North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, North Carolina, under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. W. H. Williamson; acquired by the Navy on 27 November 1944; and commissioned on 13 December 1944, Lieutenant Commander P. M. Diffley, USNR, in command. Named after Caswell County, North Carolina, she served as a commissioned ship for 18 months.

Caswell cleared Bayonne, New Jersey, on 16 January 1945 for the Panama Canal and Guadalcanal, arriving on 14 February. A month of training preceded her departure combat-loaded for the Okinawa beaches. Sailing with the Northern Attack Force, Caswell arrived for the initial landings on April 1st and remained off the beaches for the next week, landing cargo to support the 6th Marines in their rapid advance across the Motobu Peninsula. The skillful work of her men made an important contribution to this success and she cleared Okinawa on April 9th for overhaul and replenishment at Pearl Harbor.

Following the war the Caswell returned to the West Coast and again loaded cargo for Okinawa, where she arrived on August 5th to begin a series of cargo and troop movements throughout the Far East, calling at ports in the Philippines, China, and Japan until December 7th, when she cleared Sasebo for San Diego. Between February 23rd and May 2nd, 1946, Caswell carried cargo from San Francisco to China.

Returning to Norfolk, Virginia, she was decommissioned on June 19th, 1946. Caswell was returned to the Maritime Commission two days later.

Ex-USS Caswell was sold on 23 June 1947 to the South Atlantic Steamship Line and renamed SS Southwind and served under that name for about 12 years. She was sold to United States Lines sometime in 1955 and later renamed by that company SS American Surveyor (18 May 1961). After a little more than two years, she was returned to the Maritime Administration for layup in the James River Group of the National Defense Reserve Fleet. On 10 August 1973 she was sold to Northern Metal Company for 'non-transportation use' and (presumably) scrapped shortly thereafter.*

* Sources for Images and text specific to the U.S.S. Caswell: Wikipedia and America.Pink.

Mounting: The pennant has been hand-stitched to 100% hemp fabric. It was been folded back-and-forth in a zigzag fashion, which simultaneously allowed it to be visually interesting and accommodated in a frame of a smaller size. The mount was placed in a black molding with red highlights, to which a black-painted and gilded Italian molding was added as a liner. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: There is some soiling on the hoist binding and the grommet is rusted with some transfer to the fabric. The tips of the pennant at the fly end have been whipped away during its course of use and there is some fraying. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use, and it's especially nice to find wartime flags that show evidence of having been flown.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 07
Earliest Date of Origin: 1944
Latest Date of Origin: 1944
State/Affiliation: North Carolina
War Association: WW 2
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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