[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]
During World War II, American Navy vessels traversed the Atlantic Ocean, North Sea, English Channel, and Mediterranean Sea while facing the menace of German and Italian submarines, magnetic and acoustic sea mines, and other war-time hazards in the European and North African theaters. Navy minesweeper ships consisted of crews specifically tasked with risking their lives to clear the water paths for Allied ships during the war, without which such landings as the Normandy D-Day invasion would have been impossible.
This snapshot photograph was collected or taken by Robert H. Northrop of Wilmington, North Carolina, who was serving in 1943 and 1944 aboard the U.S. Navy YMS-37, a minesweeping ship. This picture shows the ship pulling up next to an Axis Powers’ sea mine on the surface of the water. One of the crew is sitting on the mine doing something with the fuse—possibly trying to disarm it. Brave men such as these saved thousands of lives with their work.
You can see more photographs of Northrop’s service aboard the YMS-37 in the Robert H. Northrop Papers, located in the WWII Papers of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina.
This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service: A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.