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COMMANDER SOUTH ATLANTIC FORCE AT RECIFE - COMMANDER SOUTH ATLANTIC

12)LIAISON - USA - BRAZIL - BRITAIN


Meanwhile, preparations continued for getting on with the war. On the 21st of August 1942 the Admiral, after extending his condolences to the Brazilian Minister of Marine, and to President Vargas, for the losses their people suffered at German hands, held two important conferences. He first met Admiral Neiva of the Brazilian Navy, and the two made tentative arrangements for combined operations and exchange of information.  


The next conference was with General Walsh (Wooten) of the United States Army, which was already established in Brazil, Walsh (Wooten) being Ferry Commander. Arrangements her were also made for mutual cooperation and information Exchange, in which operations at Ascension Island were included. The criticism sometimes heard of the failure of U. S. Army and Navy Commanders to cooperate never had the slightest application to Brazil and the South Atlantic. General Walsh (Wooten) realized that the Campaign was mainly a Navy enterprise in which the Army’s role would necessarily be subordinate. No incident or friction ever marred the relationship between the Armed Services. 


Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes, of the FAB, proved sometimes hard to handle at first. This interesting character and able officer inclined strongly or awhile to keep his own council and to do what to him seemed Best under the circumstances, regardless of other considerations. Part of the American progress in Brazil was progress in wining the esteem of Eduardo Gomes. Yet no difficulty ever arose with him over the fundamental issue, which was cooperation for the defence of Brazil. Another element now came more strongly into the picture; the British. Unofficially at least, His Majesty’s Government and subjects did not enjoy the highest esteem in Brazil.  


Yet the latter’s declaration of war on Germany made them Allies, and opened the way for three-dimensional operations in the South Atlantic. On August 22, Admiral Ingram was informed by Admiral Pegram, R.N. , Who was RAWA ( Rear Admiral West Africa), that He had obtained permission to fly from Freetown (Sierra Leone) to Brazil for a conference. The American Commander was requested to arrange details, and the meeting was scheduled for the first part of September; transportation to be furnished by the U.S. Army Ferry Command.  


Within the next few days arrangements were completed for unified Brazilian-American operations. Captain Dutra, B.N. , Commanding Oficcer at the Brazilian Cruiser Division Flagship, Rio Grande do Sul, presented his compliments and stated that he had received with pleasure instructions from the Brazilian Navy High Command to operate jointly with Task Force Twenty Three. The Brazilian Army Commander in the Recife Area agreed that Naval Forces had Paramount interests in Northern Brazil. Hence the Commander Task Force Twenty Three should take full responsibility for coastal and offshore operations, while the Brazilian General would look out for security measures ashore.   


The Admiral, for his part, ordered that one officer from VP-83 should report to Brigadeiro Gomes at Recife for operational liaison duty. The Commander of  the 19th Provisional Marine Corps Company, still quartered at the Casino at Boa Viagem, now received orders to report to the Brazilian Army Regional Pernambuco Commander for additional duty in connection with establishing security measures at Ibura Airfield. This came at the request of the Brazilians and marked the final step in overcoming their hostility to the idea of armed Americans on shore.   


Admiral Pegram, the RAWA, arrived in Recife by plane from Freetown on September 3rd, and at once there began a series of staff conferences which went on for two days. These were attended by the American and British naval Attaches from Rio. Chief among the subjects discussed between Admirals Pegram and Ingram were their mutual relations, respective missions, and the blocking of the Recife – Takoradi line. Takoradi, it might be added, is in the British Gold Coast Colony and lies a triffle under 5º N, and 2º W. The conversations were through and were engaged in by the responsible officers who had operated in the area for long periods of time. The conferences adjourned, having come to the following definite conclusions: 


The Commander in charge of the operations that Task Force Twenty Three must perform, would need administrative headquarters, plus a competent staff, at Recife. Until shore facilities were ready for occupancy, a non-combatant ship with adequate quarters, would be necessary, and the Patoka was already serving this purpose. The headquarters in question should be the recipient of all shipping information and operations reports, which could be rapidly disseminated, as necessary from there. For operational reasons a radio station was required at Recife. 


All Allied Military, Naval, and Air Force Commanders operating in the vital strategic Fortaleza-Natal-Recife área must have their liaison officers at Command Headquarters in Recife. The Forces involved here numbered seven, and were the following:

The Brazilian Navy

The Brazilian Army

The Brazilian Air Force

The U.S. Army Ferry Command

The British Intelligence Service

An Information Center for Routing Officers

The Administrative Staff of the Allied Command


There seemed no reason under the circumstances for the maintenance of the British Communication and Routing Service for the area, so its discontinuance was advocated, with the additional recommendation that the functions of these agencies be incorporated into the Force Headquarters. Finally, the South Atlantic Commander should have freedom of action to proceed by plane to any critical point when necessary. Definite arrangements for strategic cooperation also resulted. In future, in the event of a hostile unit being reported by either command, both Admirals should independently move their forces towards the reported enemy position.


Coordinating authority would rest with the Admiral in whose command the report originated. For the consideration of the Admiralty and the Navy Department, the dividing line between the two commands was recommended for revision. Since the main forces of the RAWA were based at Freetown it would be better for Admiral Pegram’s command to extend farther West in that latitude. Similarly with Solantfor based at Pernambuco, it was advisable for Admiral Ingram to have command farther east in that latitude, taking in Ascension Island, where American Air Forces were already based.


For tactical cooperation, the arrangement agreed on was to have the Senior Naval Officer Present, of either command, coordinate action whenever necessary. If the identity of such officer should not be apparent immediately, the Commander of whichever Force first perceived the necessity for tactical action should coordinate. However, ComSolantfor and RAWA would take steps to keep each other informed of the ranks and seniorities of officers most likely to be concerned. No common tactical signal code had as yet been provided.


Pending this, British and American Forces should operate independently in mutual support in accordance with general principles, ships coming into action avoiding interference with the fire of those already engaged. Shortly after his retursn to Freetown, Admiral Pegram, now known as FOCWA (Flag Officer Commanding West Africa), wrote that He considered his visit eminently worthwhile. “That old stockage at 26º West no longer stands so grimly between us”, read his concluding line. As soon as the Anglo-American conferences ended, the Brazilians took the final step in perfecting their Naval cooperation with the United States.


On September 12, the Naval Attaché in Rio informed Admiral Ingram that the Minister of Marine of Brazil had been ordered by President Vargas to place his forces , meaning the Brazilian Navy, under the orders of the Commander South Atlantic Force. The latter was a new designation, made at this time by the President of the United States, Who named Admiral Ingram as the Commander South Atlantic Force. This abolished the name Task Force Twenty Three. There now remained but one more item of recognition to be received; the raising of the South Atlantic Force to Fleet status, which took place in the early part of 1943. 


In order to put Brazilian warships to the most effective use, the Admiral issued Combined Operations Order No. 1-42. This primarily concerned the Force, Group, and Unit Assignements of the Brazilian naval vessels operating in their own northern waters. The order created Task Force One, consisting of all units serving under  Captain (later Admiral) Dutra, Who became Task Force Commander. The Force was next broken down into three Task Groups; Affirm, Baker, and Cast. Affirm consisted solely of Captain’s Dutra own ship, the Rio Grande do Sul. Six smaller ships comprised Baker; the Caravelas, Carioca, Cananeia, Camocim and Camaqua, under Capitão de Corveta (Lieutenant Commander) Macedo Soares.


Cast contained two PCs, formerly American, which had been turned over to the Brazilian Navy but a day before and renamed Guapore and Gurupi. They were commanded by Capitão de Fragata (Commander) Cox.  The order began by stating that submarines were already operating on Brazil’s northeast coast and that surface raiders might be expected. Among other dangers to be anticipated were the mining of harbor approaches, landing of enemy agents, and even bombardment of shore establishments by enemy submarines. Task Force One had its general obligation, in cooperation with the South Atlantic Force of the United States Atlantic Fleet, the protection of shipping from Rio to Trinidad.


A further part of the assignment was to destroy enemy forces coming into the sea areas contiguous to the coast within the area of operations. Then followed the duties of the individual Groups. The business of Task Group Affirm would be to escort shipping and to patrol sea lanes as directed. Baker and Cast would provide escort to convoys. Along with this went the general assignment of seeking out and destroying any enemy submarines and surface ships that might enter the area, and of protecting Brazilian coastal cities. Assignment of ships to specific operations would be handled by directives issued by the Admiral to Captain Dutra.


The Brazilian Commander must be responsible for the logistic support of his Task Force, though every aid from the United States Forces would be forthcoming on request. Administrative command of the Brazilian ships should be entirely the business of their own officers, and whenever escorts consisted of units of both Navies the Senior Officer Present would command. Admiral Ingram was well satisfied with his Brazilian subordinate, who cooperated loyally. He later referred to Dutra as having “grown up with me in the Northeast”. The spirit of wholesome collaboration proved typical of the Brazilian Regional Commanders. As a result, their Navy, which had been capable of very little in August, 1942, gained steadly in strength and efficiency.


HyperWar - Commander South Atlantic Force. U.S. Naval Administration in WW II


 

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