USS MASSACHUSETTS BB59 Battleship Massachusetts was built in Quincy, Massachusetts at the Fore River Shipyard of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The ship was launched on September 23, 1941, the heaviest ship ever launched in Quincy. "Big Mamie", as her crew knew her, was delivered to the Boston Navy Yard in April 1942 and commissioned the following month.
Battleship Massachusetts went into action on November 8, 1942 as part of Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. While cruising off the city of Casablanca, Morocco, the Battleship engaged in a gun duel with the unfinished French battleship Jean Bart, moored at a Casablanca pier. In this battle, Massachusetts fired the first American 16" projectile in anger of World War II. Five hits from Big Mamie silenced the enemy battleship, and other 16" shells from Battleship Massachusetts helped sink two destroyers, two merchant ships, a floating dry-dock, and heavily damaged buildings and docks in Casablanca. The ship’s battle flag, holed by a shell from the Jean Bart, is on display in the Battleship.
After a refit in Boston, the ship went through the Panama Canal in February 1943 to join the action in the Pacific, where she would remain for the remainder of her 3 1/2 years of active service. The Battleship saw action in the New Guinea-Solomons area and participated in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands in November 1943, the invasion of the Marshall Islands in January 1944, the powerful carrier strikes against Truk in February 1944, and a series of raids against Japanese bases in the Western Pacific and Asia.
Following modernization and a refit in Bremerton, Washington, she returned to action in September 1944 for the invasion of the Palau Islands and acted as an escort for the fast carrier task forces using her extensive armament to defend the carriers against enemy aircraft.
Big Mamie's 16" guns pounded Iwo Jima and Okinawa before their invasion in 1945, and by July of that year she was off Japan with the Third Fleet. The Battleship bombarded the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Kamaishi, and then sailed south to bombard a factory at Hamamatsu. Returning to Kamaishi, Battleship Massachusetts fired the last American 16" projectile of the war. With peace achieved, "Big Mamie" returned to the United States and operated with the Pacific Fleet until mid-1946, when she was ordered deactivated. The Battleship remained in the Reserve Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia until she was stricken from the Navy Register in 1962 and ordered sold for scrap.
However, her wartime crew had held annual reunions since 1945 and lobbied to save their ship as a memorial. With the assistance of Massachusetts school children, they raised enough money to bring Big Mamie to Fall River in June 1965. She was opened to the public two months later. Now the centerpiece of the collection at Battleship Cove and one of the five National Historic Landmark ships here, "Big Mamie" stands ready to welcome visitors from around the nation and across the world as she has for nearly a half century.
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Troop 174 meets every Friday, during the school year, 7:30 - 9:00pm, American Legion on Ball Park Rd. Dingmans Ferry, PA.