Indexing Reflections: Battleship Names

20 February 2024

I am not one to traditionally wax poetic about war (especially right now). Even less likely am I to get dewy eyed at the mere description of battleships. And yet here I sit, indexing a military history book, and finding myself needing to remember that what’s before me is not poetry. Sure, this author has a good command of voice, but that’s not what I mean (nor is the author over-enthusiastic with the Return key). What sits before me is a list of destroyers, heavy battleships from the early twentieth century, all steel and guns and fine-tuned death machines. And at the same time, the list I read is an ode to Spring and Winter, the Moon and the Waves: Harmonious Moon, White Dew, Morning Tide. These are not names of individual ships, but of entire classes. A Blizzard-class, Spring-class, Gossamer-class, and so on. As though the names could disguise the cold iron, or perhaps could will into being a peace on the far end of war.

Want to know more about these battleships? Check out Brett Walker’s Yukikaze’s War: The Unsinkable Japanese Destroyer and World War II in the Pacific (Cambridge University Press, 2024). I got quite a thrill at the Yukikaze‘s cameo in Godzilla Minus One. The discussion of this destroyer’s life in popular Japanese culture is fascinating in itself, and I’m sure Walker now has an new anecdote to add for his next conference presentation.

Cover image for Brett L. Walker's Yukikaze's War.