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Hoisting Pennant, Admiral John McCain Sr. Flagship; USS Shangri-La: c.1940

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  • Title: Hoisting Pennant, Admiral John McCain Sr. Flagship; USS Shangri-La
  • Date: c.1940
  • Inches: 35 x 66 
  • Centimeters: 88.9 x 167.64
  • Product ID: 308072

48 Star American Flag Flown on Admiral John McCain Sr. Flagship

The ensign of the Shangri-La is a US Navy size #10 bunting, sewn stars & stripes flag finished with a canvas header with four white metal wartime grommets. It is marked in black, "USS SHANGRI-LA | Nagato HARUNA | Iwo Jima | U.S. ENS 10".

The very name "Shangri-La" is mystical, harmonious and evocative of the exoticism of the Orient. Shangri-La was the name of the mythical hidden utopia in the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon. It gained popular home-front fame in 1942 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt used it to answer a reporter's query about where the Doolittle Raid of April had been launched. The answer "Shangri-La" concealed the true identity of the USS Hornet (CV-8). The selection of Shangri-La was a break from the naval tradition of naming aircraft carriers for previous ships or battles.

Shangri-La, a late-war Essex-class carrier, was commissioned in September of 1944 and arrived in PearlHarbor in February of 1945 and began combat operations in the Pacific in late April in raids against Japanese radar installations. In May she became the flag ship of Vice Admiral John S. McCain Sr. and continued her attacks against the Japanese mainland. Facing terrific resistance, she suffered her first casualties.

In June she was the site of a unique ceremony for a combat zone, the administration of the oath of office to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air, John L. Sullivan, who had been appointed by the new President Harry S. Truman. July saw the warplanes of the Shangri-La renew her attacks, damaging the battleship Nagato, the light cruiser Oyodo and the battleship Haruna, which flooded and sank at her mooring. After the surrender of Japan, her planes flew missions of mercy to air-drop supplies to Allied prisoners of war in Japan.

WWII Awards of the Shangri-La: American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 2 campaign stars; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal ("Asia" clasp).

History of the USS Shangri La during WWII

Shangri-La, an aircraft carrier, was laid down by the Norfolk Navy Yard, at Portsmouth, Va., on 15 January 1943, launched on 24 February 1944, sponsored by Mrs. James H. Doolittle, and commissioned on 15 September 1944, Capt.James D. Barner in command.

Shangri-La completed fitting out at Norfolk and took her shakedown cruise to Trinidad, B.W.I., between 15 September and 21 December 1944, at which time she returned to Norfolk. On 17 January 1945, she stood out of HamptonRoads, formed up with Guam (CB-2) and Harry EZ. Hubbard (DD-748), and sailed for Panama. The three ships arrived at Cristobal, C.Z., on the 23d and transited the canal on the 24th. Shangri-La departed from Balboa, C.Z., on 25 January and arrived at San Diego, Calif., on 4 February. There she loaded crew, stores, and extra planes for transit to Hawaii and got underway on 7 February. Upon her arrival at Pearl Harbor on 15 February, she commenced two months of duty qualifying land-based Navy pilots in carrier landings.

On 10 April, she weighed anchor for Ulithi Atoll where she arrived tendays later. After an overnight stay in the lagoon, Shangri-La departed Ulithi in company with Haggard (DD-555) and Stembel (DD644) to report for duty with Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force. On 24 April, she joined Task Group 58.4 while it was conducting a fueling rendezvous with TG 50.8. The next day, Shangri-La and her air group, CVG-85, launched their first strike against the Japanese. The target was Okino Daito Jima, a group of islands several hundred miles to the southeast of Okinawa. Her planes successfully destroyed radar and radio installations there and, upon their recovery, the task group sailed for Okinawa. Shangri-La supplied combat air patrols for the task group and close air support for the 10th Army on Okinawa before returning to Ulithi on 14 May.

While at Ulithi, Shangri-La became the flagship of the 2d Carrier Task Force. Vice Admiral John S McCain hoisted his flag in Shangri-La on 18 May.  Six days later, TG 58.4, with Shangri-La in company, sortied from the lagoon.  On 28 May, TG 58.4 became TG 38.4 and Vice Admiral McCain relieved Vice Admiral Mitscher as Commander, Task Force 38, retaining Shangri-La as his flagship. On 2 and 3 June, the task force launched air strikes on the Japanese home islands-aimed particularly at Kyushu, the southern most of the major islands. Facing the stiffest airborne resistance to date, Shangri-La's airmen suffered their heaviest casualties.

On 4 and 5 June, she moved off to the northwest to avoid a typhoon; when, on the 6th, her planes returned to close air support duty over Okinawa. On the 8th, her air group hit Kyushu again, and, on the following day, they came back to Okinawa. On the 10th, the task force cleared Okinawa for Leyte, conducting drills en route. Shangri-La entered Leyte Gulf and anchored in San Pedro Bay on 13 June. She remained at anchor there for the rest of June, engaged in upkeep and recreation.

On 1 July, Shangri-La got underway from Leyte to return to the combat zone. On the 2d, the oath of office of Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air was administered to John L. Sullivan on board Shangri-La, the first ceremony of its type ever undertaken in a combat zone. Eight days later, her air group commenced a series of air strikes against Japan which lasted until the capitulation on 15 August.

Shangri-La's planes ranged the length of the island chain during these raids. On the 10th. they attacked Tokyo, the first raid there since the strikes of the previous February. On 14 and 15 July, they pounded Honshu and Hokkaido and, on the 18th, returned to Tokyo, also bombing battleship, Nagato, moored close to shore at Yokosuka. From 20 to 22 July, Shangri-La joined the logistics group for fuel, replacement aircraft, and mail. By the 24th, her pilots were attacking shipping in the vicinity of Kure. They returned the next day for a repeat performance, before departing for a two-day replenishment period on the 26th and 27th. On the following day, Shangri-La's aircraft damaged cruiser, Ogoda, and battleship, Haruna, the latter so badly that she beached and flooded. She later had to be abandoned. They pummeled Tokyo again on 30 July, then cleared the area to replenish on 31 July and1 August.

Shangri-La spent the next four days in the retirement area waiting fora typhoon to pass. On 9 August, after heavy fog had caused the cancellation of the previous day's missions, the carrier sent her planes aloft to bomb Honshu and Hokkaido. The next day, they raided Tokyo and central Honshu, then retired from the area for logistics. She evaded another typhoon on11 and 12 August, then hit Tokyo again on the 13th. After replenishing on the 14th. she sent planes to strike the airfields around Tokyo on the morning of 15 August 1945. Soon thereafter, Japan's capitulation was announced; and the fleet was ordered to cease hostilities. Shangri La steamed around in the strike area from 15 to 23 August, patrolling the Honshu area on the latter date. Between 23 August and 16 September, her planes sortied on missions of mercy, air-dropping supplies to Allied prisoners of war in Japan.

Shangri-La entered Tokyo Bay on 16 September, almost two weeks after the surrender ceremony on board Missouri and remained there until 1 October. Departing Japan, she arrived at Okinawa on 4 October stayed until the 6th,and then headed for the United States in company with Task Unit 38.1.1. She sailed into San Pedro Bay, Calif., on 21 October and stayed at Long Beach for three weeks. On 5 November, she shifted to San Diego, departing that port a month later for Bremerton, Wash. She entered Puget Sound on9 December, underwent availability until the 30th, and then returned to San Diego.

Upon her return Shangri-La began normal operations, out of San Diego, primarily engaged in pilot carrier landing qualifications. In May 1946, she sailed for the Central Pacific to participate in Operation "Crossroads," the atomic bomb tests conducted at Bikini Atoll. Following this, she made a brief training cruise to Pearl Harbor, then wintered at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. In March 1947, she deployed again, calling at Pearl Harbor and Sydney, Australia. When she returned to the United States, Shangri-La was decommissioned and placed in the Reserve Fleet at San Francisco on 7 November1947.

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