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Minecraft in the van, 1944-1959 (bulk 1947): Finding Aid

Published in April 2019

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 497
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Minecraft in the van
  • Dates: 1944-1959
  • Bulk Dates: 1947
  • Size: 0.19 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 24 folders
  • Creator: McEathron, Ellsworth Dudley, 1897-1983
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Ellsworth Dudley McEathron was an officer in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1920. Ellsworth Dudley McEathron's manuscript of Minecraft in the Van, comprising a single, hand-corrected typescript, was written for the Division of Naval History in 1947. The manuscript focuses on American minesweeping in the Atlantic and Mediterranean in World War II.

Biography of Ellsworth Dudley McEathron

Ellsworth Dudley McEathron was born on August 8, 1897 in Huron, South Dakota to George Ellsworth and Grace McEathron. He was admitted to the United States Naval Academy on June 7, 1915 as a member of the Class of 1919. In May 1917, McEathron was turned back to the Class of 1920, but graduated in June 1919 when the course of study was accelerated due to World War I. His first duty following graduation was aboard U.S.S. Pittsburgh (Armored cruise: CA-4), operating in the Adriatic, Aegean, and Baltic. Duty aboard U.S.S. Connecticut (Battleship: BB-18) followed in October 1921, after which he transferred to U.S.S. Seattle (Armored cruiser: ACR-11) in March 1923.

In June 1926, McEathron was detached from sea duty to serve as Officer in Charge of the Navy Recruiting Station in Minneapolis. After two years of recruiting duty, he returned to sea in the Pacific aboard U.S.S. Omaha (Light cruiser: CL-4) in July 1928. A return to shore duty came in June 1931 when McEathron was attached to the United States Naval Academy as an instructor in Electrical Engineering, where he remained until May 1934. Detached from the Academy, he reported aboard U.S.S. Crowninshield (Destroyer: DD-134) before assuming duties as Executive Officer of U.S.S. Taylor (Destroyer: DD-94) in December 1934. In May 1936, he transferred to U.S.S. Salinas (Oiler: AO-19).

In June 1937, McEathron was assigned to the Office of the Captain of the Yard at Pearl Harbor. Two years later, in June 1939, he assumed command of U.S.S. Grebe (Minesweeper: AM-43). Under McEathron's command, of U.S.S. Grebe weathered the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, managing to shoot down an unidentified aircraft despite having had most of her offensive armament removed for overhaul. In May 1942, McEathron was detached from of U.S.S. Grebe for instruction at the Naval Mine Warfare School in Yorktown, Virginia. On August 30, 1943, he was subsequently assigned to command Mine Squadron Ten, and supported the landings of Allied forces during the Mindoro Campaign in December 1944. McEathron later distinguished himself as Commander Reserve Sweep Unit in the waters off Okinawa in April 1945. Duty as Assistant Minesweeping Officer on the staff of Commander Minecraft, U.S. Pacific Fleet followed in February 1945.

After the war, McEathron was assigned to the Division of Naval History, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, to prepare a history of naval mine warfare. McEathron was transferred to the retired list with the rank of Rear Admiral on October 1, 1947. Two days later, he submitted the first volume of his manuscript on the history of naval mine warfare in World War II, entitled Minecraft in the Van: A History of United States Minesweeping in World War II to the Director of Naval History. Following his retirement from the United States Navy, McEathron served as Vice President of Davies Warehouse in Long Angeles. Rear Admiral Ellsworth Dudley McEathron died on January 3, 1983 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Description of Contents

Ellsworth Dudley McEathron's manuscript of Minecraft in the Van, comprising a single, hand-corrected typescript, was written for the Division of Naval History in 1947. The manuscript focuses on American minesweeping in the Atlantic and Mediterranean in World War II.

Included with or within the manuscript are photographs, charts, and correspondence.

McEathron's manuscript, the full title of which is Minecraft in the Van: A History of United States Minesweeping in World War II, Volume I: The Atlantic and Mediterranean War, is divided into three parts. Part I: Putting Minecraft on the Seas consisting of the work's first three chapters, offers an overview of the history of mines and minesweeping, as well as a discussion of minesweeping tactics and methods. Part II: The Atlantic Operations, consisting of six chapters, focuses on minefields and minesweeping in waters off the Americas (both Allied and Axis), as well as operations in support of the Invasion of Normandy. Part III: The Mediterranean Campaign, consisting of seven chapters, covers the various types of minesweepers used in the Mediterranean and minesweeping operations in support of the Sicilian Campaign, the Salerno Campaign, the Battle of Anzio, and the Invasion of Southern France, as well as various operations in the later days of the war in Europe. Interspersed throughout are photographs of American minesweepers and minesweeping operation. The manuscript closes with three appendixes and charts of American minesweeping operations.

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Minecraft in the Van is arranged into 16 chapters.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

Minecraft in the Van is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Custodial History

Originally donated to the United States Naval Academy Alumni Association by Mrs. E. D. McEathron.

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of United States Naval Academy Alumni Association in November 1983. Accession No. 83-29.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material in this repository pertaining to Ellsworth Dudley McEathron is available in McEathron's Midshipman Personnel Jacket and Alumni Jacket.

Additional material pertaining to World War II minesweeping in this repository can be found in World War II Ship Action Reports, MS 415; World War II Battle Action and Operational Reports, MS 416; and Malcolm Stearns' Naval Mine Notebook, MS 401.

A history of the McEathron Family, compiled by Ellsworth Dudley McEathron, is available at Brigham Young University - Idaho.

Materials Cataloged Separately

Two items were removed from this collection and cataloged separately at the time of accessioning: Seventh Amphibious Force Command History, 10 January 1943-23 December 1945 (cataloged as a book); and Action Report Okinawa Gunto, Phases One and Two, Covering Period March 1 to June 21, 1945 submitted by Commander Task Group 32.2 (52.2) (Commander Mine Flotilla, Rear Admiral Alex Sharp, USN), July 23, 1945 (integrated into World War II Battle Action and Operational Reports, MS 416).

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Processing and Other Information


The volume was disbound at the time of processing.

Preferred Citation

Minecraft in the Van, MS 497

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

McEathron, Ellsworth Dudley Alumni Jacket, RG 405, Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in April 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in April 2019.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Minesweepers -- United States
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- France
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Italy
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Nautical charts
  • Photographs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Correspondence and Cover Sheets, 1946-1959

Box 1 Folder 2

Title Page and Table of Contents, 1947

Box 1 Folder 3

Introduction, 1947

Box 1 Folder 4

Chapter I: How They Got That Way, 1947

Box 1 Folder 5

Chapter II: Mines; Methods; Tactics Used; The Atlantic Command; and Some Minesweeping Results, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. Mines; 2. Minesweeping Methods; 3. Minesweeping Tactics Commonly Used; 4. The Atlantic Command; 5. Some of the World Wide Minesweeping Results. Includes lists of the Atlantic Command's minecraft commanding officers.

Box 1 Folder 6

Chapter III: The Approach, 1947

Box 1 Folder 7

Chapter IV: Mine Fields, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. Defensive Minefields in the Americas; 2. Gulf of Tunis Offensive Minefield.

Box 1 Folder 8

Chapter V: The Campaign for Northwest Africa, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. The Invasion of Northwest Africa; 2. Casablanca-Fedala Defensive Minefields; 3. German Mining.

Box 1 Folder 9

Chapter VI: United States Minecraft Operating Out of England and Off the West Coast of France, 1947

List of divisions, squadrons, and vessels, as well as their commanding officers.

Box 1 Folder 10

Chapter VII: Normandy, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. The Organization; 2. Assembly and Approach; 3. The Assault Sweep - Phase I; 4. The Set-Up; 5. A Brief Acknowledgement to the British Sweepers - Phase Two; 6. The AM's of "A" Squadron; 7. "Y" Squadron Off the Cotentin Peninsula; 8. Mopping-Up by the YMS's. Includes photographs of mine detonations and damage incurred by Allied vessels during the Invasion of Normandy.

Box 1 Folder 11

Chapter VIII: Enemy Minefields Off the Americas, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. Chesapeake Bay Entrance - Cape Henry; 2. Delaware Bay; 3. Port Castries, Santa Lucia, B.W.I.; 4. Jacksonville, Florida; 5. Charleston, South Carolina; 6. New York; 7. Halifax and St. Johns; 8. Panama.

Box 1 Folder 12

Chapter IX: Sweeping the Defensive Minefields Off the Americas, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. Taking Them Up; 2. Cutting Out the Hatteras Field; 3. Clearing the Chesapeake Field; 4. Sweeping the Key West Field; 5. Trinidad; 6. Trinidad Island. Includes a photograph of minesweeping off Trinidad.

Box 1 Folder 13

Chapter X: The United States Minesweepers Engaged in the Mediterranean, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. Assembly and Administration; 2. The Fleet Minesweepers; 3. The Minecraft Tenders; 4. The Yard Motor Minesweepers; 5. The SC Sweepers; 6. The Small Boat Minesweepers.

Box 1 Folder 14

Chapter XI: The Campaign for Sicily, 9 July through 1 September, 1943, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. The Situation; 2. Scoglitti; 3. Gela; 4. Licata; 5. Empedocle; 6. Palermo; 7. Marala-Trapani.

Box 1 Folder 15

Chapter XII: The Salerno Campaign, 30 September, 1943, through 9 September, 1944, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. Cagliari - Phase I; 2. Operation Avalanche; 3. Sweepers of the Northern Attack Force Area (NAFTA); 5. Post Assault Activities.

Box 1 Folder 16

Chapter XIII: The Campaign for Central Italy, 21 January through 31 July, 1944, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. Organization and Preparation for Anzio - Operation Shingle; 2. Sweeping Before the Peter Beaches; 3. The Anzio Assault Sweep; 4. The Assault Phase at Anzio; 5. Post Assault Sweeping- Phase Two, Anzio; 6. Other Operations by Minecraft During Phase Two; 7. The Tiber to Leghorn; 8. Gulfs of Ajaccio and Valinco - Corsica. Includes photographs of naval operations at Anzio, Civitavecchia Harbor, and an LST convoy off Naples.

Box 1 Folder 17

Chapter XIV: The Campaign for Southern France, Operation Anvil (Dragoon), D-Day, 15 August, 1944 - Operations in the Overall Assault Area, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. Common Ground; 2. Sitka Assault Area; 3. Alpha Assault Area; 4. Delta Assault Area; 5. Camel Assault Area; 6. Post Assault Area. Includes photographs of smoke screens, the minesweepers U.S.S. Pioneer (MSF-105) and U.S.S. Seer (AM-112), and SC Sweepers 978 and 655.

Box 1 Folder 18

Chapter XV: The Campaign for Southern France - The Western and Eastern Support Areas, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. The Gulf of Fos; 2. Bay of Marseille and the Approaches Thereto; 3. Marseille Area; 4. Toulon; 5. Check Sweep Marseille to Toulon; 6. Eastern Bombardment Area; 7. Harbor Basin of Nice; 8. Menton; 9. Golfe de la Napoule - Golfe Juan; 10. Minesweeping Results Off Southern France. Includes photographs of minesweepers under fire at Croisette, retreating under smoke screen, the German surrender party at Port du Frioul, Marseille, minesweeping in Marseille Harbor, La Grande Jetee de Toulon, and a human torpedo on Cap Martin.

Box 1 Folder 19

Chapter XVI: The Closing Days in the Mediterranean, 1947

Includes the following subsections: 1. Widening the Tunisian War Channel; 2. Gulf of Cagliari - Phase Two; 3. Gulf of Cagliari - Phase Three; 4. Yalta Conference; 5. Gorgona Island to Cape Corse; 6. Salvage Operations on the Wreck of the Swerve; 7. Gulf of Genoa.

Box 1 Folder 20

Appendix I: Operation and Engagement Stars for Theatre Campaign Ribbons, 1947

Box 1 Folder 21

Appendix II: Some of the Mining Casualties Off the Normandy Invasion Coast, 1947

Box 1 Folder 22

Appendix III: Too Many Toes, 1947

Box 1 Folder 23

Index to Names, 1947

Box 1 Folder 24

Plates, 1944-1945

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