Item #007903 An original Second World War Official U.S. Navy photograph of the USS Lexington, the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier lost during the Second World War, being abandoned by her crew during the afternoon of 8 May 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea
An original Second World War Official U.S. Navy photograph of the USS Lexington, the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier lost during the Second World War, being abandoned by her crew during the afternoon of 8 May 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea

An original Second World War Official U.S. Navy photograph of the USS Lexington, the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier lost during the Second World War, being abandoned by her crew during the afternoon of 8 May 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea

United States Navy, 1942. Photograph. This is an original Second World War Official U. S. Navy photograph of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, being abandoned during the afternoon of 8 May 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea. In the image sailors slide down ropes on Lexington’s starboard quarter while a destroyer pulls up alongside Lexington to rescue crewmembers. She was the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier lost in the Second World War.

The gelatin silver print measures 10 x 8.125 inches (25.4 x 20.6 cm). Condition is very good plus, the paper complete and the image clean, with no appreciable fading, toning, or scuffing. Trivial wear appears confined to the edges and within the white border margins. Inked in blue in the lower white margin center is the word “Lexington”. The verso features a four-line ink stamp reading “OFFICIAL U. S. NAVY PHOTOS | ANTHONY F. WIN | 2439 NORTH FRANCISCO AVE | CHICAGO 47, ILLINOIS”. Above and to the right of the ink stamp, written in pencil, is “USS Lexington being abandoned | only one man lost | no one lost”. The image is protected within a clear, archival sleeve.

USS Lexington (CV-2), one of the U.S. Navy's first aircraft carriers, was commissioned in December 1927 at Quincy, Massachusetts. Fatefully, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Lexington was transporting aircraft to Midway Island and thus spared destruction – to the chagrin of the Japanese and the great fortune of the United States.

“During the December 11 attempt to relieve Wake Island, which was aborted, she was sent to attack Japanese installations in the Marshall Islands as a diversion. In January and February 1942, her aircraft raided Japanese positions in the southwestern Pacific. Along with USS Yorktown (CV-5) in early May, she participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea. On May 7 and 8, her aircraft took part in the sinking of the Japanese aircraft carrier Shoho, and raided the aircraft carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku. The Japanese responded with aircraft attacks, which hit Lexington with two torpedo and three aerial bombs.” (National Museum of the U.S. Navy)

After seven minutes under direct attack and six hours of valiant work by her crew to save the ship, Lexington was abandoned. Lexington’s Captain “realized that if he did not order engineers to evacuate, and the last remaining communications link cut out entirely, the men stationed there would remain at their posts until consumed by the flames. At 4 p.m. he ordered them to douse the engines, blow off the steam from the boilers, and evacuate to the flight deck. The excess steam rushed up the funnel with a throaty whoosh, the engines fell silent, the four big propellers came to rest, and the Lexington lay dead in the water… the destroyers Anderson, Hammann, and Morris, and the cruisers Minneapolis and New Orleans, drew in close to the dying ship and awaited instructions…. Every man aboard knew that the bombs and torpedoes on the hangar deck… would reach a detonation point and blow… Knotted lines were secured to the net railing along both sides of the ship… Men began going down the lines… Men stood in order lines behind each rope, and left their shoes in neat rows on the edge of the flight deck. They gave three cheers for the captain… By six o’clock, only a handful of men remained on the Lexington… The captain and executive officer were the last to go…” As the XO descended, “an explosion went up amidships, throwing flames and airplanes high into the air” and causing the captain to duck “under the edge of the flight deck to get cover from falling debris.” At 6:30 PM, torpedo warheads and bombs on the hangar deck “went up in a vast, ripping explosion.” The Lexington was ordered to be sunk, “both to prevent her falling into enemy hands and to eliminate the danger that she might serve as a signal beacon for enemy planes.” The destroyer USS Phelps (DD-218), fired a spread of eight torpedoes from a range of 1500 yards and “At 7:52 p.m. the Lexington went down in a cloud of hissing steam.” (Toll, Pacific Crucible). Item #007903

Price: $250.00

See all items in Other Authors