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          SCUTTLEBUTT is the official newsletter of the USS Guadalcanal Task Group 22.3 Association, published four times yearly. Association members and friends are encouraged to submit articles and photographs for publication; some editing may be required.  
     
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Articles from the December 2004 issue of the SCUTTLEBUTT
 
     
 

Great Expectations - A Sea Story….

On occasion the crew of the USS Guadalcanal would be assembled on the flight deck in dress uniform to attend "Meritorious Mast", conducted by Captain Gallery and the ship's Executive Officer Commander Johnson. Various awards were made and the officers and men being so honored would go up "front and center" where the citations were read before the assembled crew. The men of V-1 division were feeling pretty good about this particular mast. Our division officer, Lt. Bill Titsworth, was to receive an award which, unknown to most assembled, would result in considerable sums flowing into the pockets of the V-1 division men - or so we thought.

When the V-1 Division Officer was called forward we were all eyes and ears focused on the proceedings. To our consternation, as the words began to flow, we realized something was terribly wrong - the citation being read was for the purpose of inducting Lt.Titsworth into the "Royal Order of the Flying Jackass". A "ribbon" about 3 feet long and 1 foot wide, resplendent in all its varied colors and bars, was produced and hung about his neck by a golden chain while the citation was read to all assembled. This was really bad news!

You see - in the US Navy, aircraft carrier Air Department division officers, including the ships Commanding Officer, are naval aviators. While serving as ships company they are detached from flying duty but required to remain qualified. Once a year the ship's flying officers would go ashore to some local airstation while the carrier remained offshore at sea. At the air station they picked up whatever aircraft they were qualified in and flew out to the carrier to make their qualification landings. They were required to make 8 successful landings. For this particular qualification we were offshore from Pensacola NAS and landing a mix of TBM torpedo bombers, FM Wildcat fighters, and SB2C dive bombers. Our man was flying a TBM.

These qualifications are the occasion for some healthy bets between the air division crewmen as to which division has the best pilots. A sort of "scoring sheet" was maintained and a record kept of how many wave-offs each pilot received before completing his eight landings. It could have been many months since the pilot last handled the controls and perhaps he gets a little rusty at the job. Any landing ending up in the catwalks was cause for elimination from the betting pool. So the competition was keen and the interest high on qualifications day - everyone crowding into the catwalks to watch the airshow.

In V-1 Division we thought we had it made - Lt. Titsworth shot eight impeccable landings one after the other just like clockwork with not one "wave-off". Every approach was "in the groove" - right down the center - and resulted in a perfect landing. The bets were ours and it was - Norfolk here we come!

Well - so we had thought. But as the citation was read we learned how our man had returned to the airfield and landed with his wheels up. Our plans for the "Greatest Norfolk Liberty of All Time" evaporated in the wind coming down the flight deck - not only that, - but we had to return the money.

 
     
 

A Whale of a Tale… !                  Text Box:

Ray Jackomet MoM 2/c on the USS Pope DE-134 recalls in a "letter to the Editor" the time they had left the Brooklyn Navy Yard at night to join up with the Task Group. Steaming along at a pretty fast clip, the ship was jolted when they struck something up forward. Almost immediately the Sonar Watch reported the sonar had become inoperative.

This resulted in a change in plans with the Pope diverting to the Norfolk Navy Yard . In drydock, investigation revealed the underwater sound dome damaged and a large chunk of flesh stuck in the structure. Best guess was they had hit a whale dozing on the surface.

Contacts with whales were sometimes confused with submarine contacts. This cartoon, originally appearing in Guadalcanal 's "Memory Log" published in 1944, was based on an actual "whale contact" incident which provoked lots of laughs.

 
     
 

April 2, 1943 - Location 41. 02 N 15. 39 W...

Roy Prince, one of our newer members, has an interesting story to tell. I first "met" Roy on the U-boat.net website several years ago and we traded many stories about our experiences in the Atlantic during WW II. After the war, Roy and his wife Betty moved to Canada and then to California where they have lived for about the last thirty years. Roy joined our Association earlier this year . For you Ham Radio Operators out there - Roy 's call sign is AB6ND - give him a call - he would like to hear from you. Here's Roy ….

Don Baker asked me to write about my experiences aboard the SS Katha following my attending the 60th anniversary reunion in Chicago last June. I’m the Limey who was constantly trying to persuade a digital camera to perform. My wife and I enjoyed being in your company and we found the banter and quips amusing.

Text Box:    Roy Prince				1943
@

In April 1943 I was an 18 year old 3rd Radio Officer on the British merchantman SS Katha, a freighter of 4,357 tons built in 1938. I had boarded the ship in London and we were now on a voyage from Oban to India via the Cape of Good Hope sailing in Convoy OS45 with a crew of 64; 12 officers from Scotland and England , 9 gunners, and a crew from the Portuguese colony of Goa on the East Coast of India. We carried three Radio Officers and each of us had a 4 hours on and 8 hours off shift. I worked the " noon - to - 4pm "and " midnight - to - 4am " shift.

Text Box:                SS Katha                                                                                                                 1943
The cargo was a typical wartime mixture of sixteen Hawker Hurricane fighters in wooden crates, ammunition, mail, some wooden crates containing “Stephens Black Ink” - strange how little details remain in ones mind - and a brand new shiny red Fire Engine with “The City of Karachi” painted on its sides. Most of the crates had “ Britain delivers the Goods” stenciled on them - but they didn’t get there this time!

Convoy OS45 consisted of 43 Merchant Ships sailing in 11 columns, the theory being that most attacks would come from the side, so by providing a “Broad Front” the convoy would pass a given point in a shorter time. SS Katha was the second ship in column 11, the outer starboard column. We were escorted by six RN ships - 1 sloop and 5 corvettes. Most of the merchant ships were armed; carrying a 4 pounder on the stern and an assortment of machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons manned by Army/Navy gunners.

Although the ship was only five years old at the time, the radio room was spartan. The radio equipment was manufactured by Siemens and the Radio Officers worked for whichever company supplied the radio equipment and not for the shipping company. The receiver was a two tube (…we called them "valves") job with plug in coils covering 12 khz – kc/s in those days – all the way up to 18 khz and it was as selective as a barn door. The transmitter, RT and CW, was rated 150 W input and merely covered the medium frequency Marine Band of 390 – 510 khz.

An Auto Alarm was used to monitor the 500 kc/s distress frequency when the R/O was off duty (… in peacetime the ship only carried one Radio Officer). Reception of a series of 4 second dashes at 1 second intervals, sent out by the calling ship preceding a distress message, would set off alarm bells placed throughout the receiving ship alerting the R/O to an incoming distress signal. There were frequent false alarms set off by bursts of static.

Eight days out of Oban we had reached position 41.02 N 15.39 W, west of Cape Finisterre . On April 2 shortly after 2215 local time I was asleep in my cabin upper deck mid-ships (…in the Merchant Marine each officer had a cabin - unlike the tougher conditions in the Armed Forces) . Suddenly I was startled awake by a godawfull uproar I can only describe as sounding like an anchor chain being dropped from a great height on to a metal deck. I lay there, now wide awake, staring into the darkness and listening - but nothing much seemed to be happening so I figured it was not important and stayed under the covers trying to calm down and get back to sleep. A few moments later the 2nd Radio Officer, who had been on watch, ran into the cabin and shook me up - we had been torpedoed. He said there was no point in going to the radio room as the radio equipment was badly damaged and inoperative. Oh - the innocence of an 18 year old - things like that only happen to others. I was wearing pajamas but it didn’t take me long to put on a pair of pants, and a life jacket!

We had been hit by two torpedoes on the starboard side and the Captain had issued the Abandon Ship order. The ship was now a tangle of bent and twisted plates and ruptured pipes. We threaded our way through all the wreckage and headed for the starboard side lifeboat station to which I was assigned. When we got there we found the lifeboat a hopeless mess - wrecked by one of the torpedoes. That wasn't going to work so the Third Mate, an Apprentice, and myself decided we had better get to a life raft fast.

Arriving there as quickly as we could in the midst of all the wreckage and the darkness we found the raft in good condition and still in place on the launching rails. Those wonderful rafts, secured on two girders, could be released by hitting a shackle allowing them to slide off the ship. Grabbing the wooden mallet kept in position alongside for that purpose, the Third Mate began raining a series of frantic blows on the release shackle. But the mallet wasn’t up to the task and it splintered in his hands. I don’t recall exactly where he found the piece of metal - no trouble finding it as there was a lot of it laying around - and he used it to pound the shackle releasing the raft to our great relief. Those rafts must have saved many lives as launching lifeboats, even if not damaged, was a hazardous job and many lives were lost doing it. I went over the side down a Jacobs ladder and in fairly calm seas managed to get aboard the raft without even getting my feet wet. Eleven of the Goanese crew, the Third Mate, an Apprentice, and myself ended up on the raft and managed to paddle away from the ship which by now was folding in the middle and beginning to resemble a pair of scissors just before it disappeared beneath the surface. It’s hard to believe I was able at the time to see so well in the dark; it’s a bit different now!

Text Box:    U-124 Gun Crew at Gunnery Practice

It wasn’t until many years after the war I learned it was U-124 which had sunk us. (…the famous "Edelweiss" boat commanded by young Jochen Mohr, then in his twenties. U-124 sank 48 ships under two commanders before herself being sunk in this attack on OS45. Werner Henke had served as 2nd Watch Officer on U-124 before taking command of U-515 which we encountered about a year later very close to these same waters.) Although the escorting Navy ships were rushing about searching for the submarine it seemed at the time as if we were the only people left in the ocean - the rest of the convoy having passed on and out of sight. It's funny now - but as I look back on it one thought kept coming to mind; here we were floating around on a raft alone in the dark on the open ocean, our ship having just been blown up and sunk beneath our feet, and all I was thinking was - “I wonder how the others on this raft will behave if we are on it for very long?”

Just before dawn the SS Danby, another British freighter, found us and took us aboard. Danby was the designated "Rescue Ship" sailing last in the column. She had seen two ships torpedoed and sink and had left the convoy to search for survivors. The Master of the Danby was a very brave man to cruise around in the dark knowing two ships had been torpedoed and that a U-boat was out there somewhere ready to attack again.

The sub continued to track the convoy and about an hour later it was detected on Radar by two of the escort ships, HMS Black Swan and HMS Stonecrop, and sunk by depth charges with the loss of all 54 crewmen.

The following day the Danby caught up with the convoy and we were transferred to a Canadian ship which had room for us and took us to Freetown , West Africa . We were only there one night before a large ship entered the harbor and a few hours later we were on our way to Scotland aboard the Queen Mary - traveling at 33 knots. It only took six days from Freetown to Scotland !

Our total casualties on the Katha amounted to six ; five in the engine room and one who was crushed abandoning ship. The ship directly ahead of us, the Gogra , must have been unfortunate enough to have been hit in the hold where a cargo of ammunition was stowed. She had exploded in a towering flash of flame and fire and out of a crew of ninety only eight survived .

Of course, being eighteen and feeling immortal, the whole experience was just a thrilling time for me. Something I noticed many times was the respect the experienced seafarers had for the dangers of the sea; the U-boats were a secondary consideration.

… Roy Prince

 
 
     
 
     
 
Articles from the September 2004 issue of the SCUTTLEBUTT
 
     
 

Parallels - The Capture of U-110 - May 9, 1941...

In May 1941, British sailors from the destroyer HMS Bulldog boarded the German submarine U-110 during a North Atlantic convoy battle. An Enigma machine along with the settings, charts, and codes necessary for its use was part of this intelligence windfall. In reading the various accounts of this incident one cannot help but be struck by the many parallels and similarities between the boarding of U-110 in 1941 and the boarding of U-505 in 1944. See if you recognize the similarities.

It all started when the 43 ship Outbound Convoy 318 reached a point in the North Atlantic about 400 miles south of Iceland. Herbert Kuppisch patrolling the North Atlantic shipping lanes in U-94 made contact with the convoy on May 7. His radioed contact report resulted in Admiral Doenitz sending 6 additional U-boats to assist in an attack on the convoy. Before the reinforcements arrived Kuppisch attacked by himself and sank two ships. However his boat was severely damaged by counter-attacking convoy escorts.

Adelbert Schnee in U-201 and Fritz-Julias Lemp in U-110 arriving on the scene made contact with the convoy on the night of May 8 th. By the morning of May 9 th the two U-boats had moved into a position ahead of the oncoming convoy and submerged, waiting for their targets to appear. They had agreed that Lemp would attack first and in the resulting confusion Schnee would move in and launch a second attack.

Text Box:    Naval Institute photo                        U-110 Captured - May 9, 1941

By noon the convoy had reached the waiting Lemp and he attacked, torpedoing and sinking 3 ships and damaging a 4 th. British destroyers HMS Bulldog, HMS Broadway, and the corvette HMS Aubrietia began the hunt for U-110. All three ships obtained firm sonar contacts and began their attacks on the U-boat. Broadway was first - dropping a single depth charge. Aubrietia spotted U-110's periscope and dropped 16 depth charges causing major damage. U-110's diving gauges and other instruments were smashed. The electric motors were damaged, diving planes and rudder damaged, the compass rendered inoperative, a ballast tank ruptured and high-pressure airlines sheared off in the control room.

U-110 slid out of control stern first to a depth of 300 ft. and then suddenly popped to the surface on her own; it is thought ruptured air lines and valves may have blown the tanks. As quickly as it was discovered they were back on the surface, Lemp was first on to the bridge to be greeted by a terrifying sight. The three British ships were on him firing every gun they could bring to bear. Bulldog and Broadway were coming in preparing to ram. Lemp, seeing no other alternative, gave the order to "Abandon Ship". There was no time left to connect the demolition charges but Lemp ordered "Open Vents" which should have caused the stricken submarine to sink rapidly. However, the subs engineer reported he could not get the vents to open. Meanwhile the 47 man crew was struggling frantically to get off the boat. First Watch Officer Loewe, Lemp, and Chief Engineer Eichelborn were the last to leave what they believed was the sinking U-110 now riding stern down and bow high with the conning tower awash.

The Captain of Bulldog, recognizing he had a chance to get aboard U-110, reversed engines at the last minute thus aborting the ramming operation and ordered out his boarding party. Broadway also ceased the ramming run but came up close on U-110's bow and dropped two shallow set depth charges. In making this attack Broadway fouled on a diving plane and tore a gash in her skin flooding several compartments and damaging the port propeller.

At this time all 47 members of the German crew had abandoned ship and were now in the water. The various reports on what happened next vary in detail. Watch Officer Loewe states that after he and Lemp were in the water they could see U-110 did not appear to be sinking. Lemp attempted to swim back to U-110 apparently thinking he might complete the scuttling or get rid of the Enigma machine and codes. However U-110 was drifting away from them and he could not reach the boat. Loewe says the two of them then attempted to swim to Bulldog which was at that time busy lowering a whaler. Sometime during this period Lemp disappeared. Accounts vary as to what actually happened to him. Some claim he deliberately raised his arms over his head and disappeared beneath the waves. Others claim he was shot in the water by someone in the Bulldog's boarding party as it headed for the U-110. The British Admiralty reports only that Lemp and 14 enlisted men died in the action.

Bulldog 's boarding party, led by 20 year old Sub-Lieutenant David Balme, rowed their whaler right up on to U-110's forward deck. Opening the hatches they scrambled down inside where they found the boat abandoned, lights on, and no sign of flooding. Balme sent a signal to Bulldog to the effect U-110 appeared "seaworthy and towable" and requested an engineering party to operate U-110's machinery. The boarding party found a 2'' cable stowed in a deck locker and passed this to Bulldog in preparation for towing.

An engineering party arriving from Broadway found U-110 to be "intact with negligible water in the bilges". The port propeller shaft was still turning over and they were unable either to stop the motor or to get the starboard motor running. There was a "bubbling noise" which they thought might be from a leaking ballast tank vent which if not stopped could sink the boat. While these salvage operations were going on Aubrietia went about pulling the German crewmen from the water.

At this time Bulldog gained a firm sonar contact and cast the towing line over the side. Joined by Broadway and Aubrietia the three ships left to pursue the contact while the boarding parties remained on U-110. After a 1 1/2 hr. hunt in which depth charges were dropped there was no evidence of a kill so they give it up and returned to the drifting U-110 to find the boat further down by the stern. The boarding parties, having removed all the information deemed of value, returned to their ships having been aboard U-110 about 5 hours. Bulldog resumed the tow and accompanied by Broadway set course for Iceland 400 miles to the north moving at about 6 knots. Seventeen hours later U-110 upended and sank vertically with her bow high in the air. There are those who believe U-110 was deliberately allowed to sink so as to protect the intelligence haul.

The intelligence information gained from U-110 was of immense value, consisting of

  • The Enigma machine
  • Keys for the Officers Only code
  • The Short Signals code
  • Grid charts
  • Safe routes through the German minefields in the North Sea and along the French coast
  • De-coded German radio traffic for the period April 15 - May 9 th
  • Complete sets of manuals for the Type IXB submarine

It was of course absolutely essential to prevent the German's from knowing that U-110 had been boarded if the usefulness of the intelligence information was to be preserved. However, First Watch Officer Loewe believed that U-110 had been boarded. When he got to prison camp he discussed the matter with the two senior German officers in the camp, submarine aces Otto Kretschmer/U-99 and Hans Jenish/U-32. After discussing the matter they concluded Loewe's suspicions must be gotten to Admiral Doenitz. During WW I the Germans had evolved a simple code by which prisoners could encode letters sent home from prison camp containing information which was then forwarded to the military. This coding system was used again in WW II. However, the British had broken this rather simple code and were using it to their own advantage. All the valuable information leaving prison camps was going directly into British hands. When Loewe sent his letter home containing the information that it was most likely U-110 had been boarded it was intercepted and of course never sent out of the camp.

The British then transferred Loewe to prison camps where meetings between Loewe and other U-110 survivors could be arranged. These survivors were convinced U-110 had not been boarded. When the British were sure Loewe had accepted the crewmen's stories they arranged a prisoner swap so that Loewe could return to Germany and tell Doenitz face-to-face that apparently U-110 had sunk before the British had gotten inside. This ploy seems to have worked as the Enigma codes were not immediately changed.

The parallels between the boarding of U-110 and U-505 are striking; initial detection by sonar followed by depth charge attack which brought the boat to the surface - boarding parties from small boats clambering aboard - vast amounts of intelligence information recovered - a ship damaged by the submarine's bow planes - salvage parties working inside the sub to keep it from sinking followed by a towing operation - and finally, the extraordinary measures taken to keep capture and boarding a secret. Of course, one major difference in all this was that U-505 did not sink and eventually ended up at the Museum in Chicago where we can see her today.

… DM B

 

Information sources for this article:

"Hitler's U-boat War - The Hunters, 1939 - 1942" - Clay Blair

"The Atlantic Campaign" - Dan Van der Vat

"Hunter-Killer" - William T. Y'Blood
 
     
 

…Roll on Columbia , Roll On! (…thanks to Woody Guthrie )

The mighty Columbia River , one of the great rivers of Northwest America , begins as a little stream up in British Columbia flowing south across the US border . It winds its way southward along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountain range through the middle of Washington State gaining strength as it drains the mountains and valleys. After swallowing the Snake flowing out of Oregon it bends sharply westward forming the border between Oregon and Washington . Passing through the Columbia Gorge, first described by Lewis and Clark, it breaches the Cascade Mountains and heads for the open ocean. Studded with gigantic dams the Columbia river system produces most of the hydro-electricity generated in the United States .

Downstream on the banks of the Columbia at Vancouver , Washington , Henry Kaiser in 1942 built a shipyard which in a period of about one year produced 50 Casablanca class escort carriers. Launched on June 5 th 1943 , USS Guadalcanal CVE-60 was the sixth escort carrier to go down Henry's ways. After a period of fitting out she was towed downriver to Astoria , Oregon located at the mouth of the Columbia where it enters the Pacific Ocean . Here the Navy commissioning crews assembled from all over the country came aboard and prepared to take these ships into action. USS Guadalcanal commissioned on 25 September 1943 and soon thereafter left the dock and headed downstream for the open ocean to sail north up the Washington coast to the Bremerton Naval Shipyard to load ammunition. About 80 percent of Guadalcana l 's crew were kids just out of highschool who had never before been to sea. We were about to get our first taste of salt water and excitement and anticipation ran high as the ship left the dock and eased into mid-stream - we were about to become seafaring men!

What we didn't know was that the Columbia is notorious for the huge waves generated as this inexorable flood smashes its way into the ocean against the in-coming tides and southwesterly gales blowing in from the Pacific - but we were about to find out. It was a sunny afternoon and a stiff wind was blowing - the remains of a storm blowing just offshore - and the mighty Columbia was at its best. Gathered in the catwalks up on the flight deck, our neophyte arresting gear crew hung on to the rails, braced against the wind, watching the marker buoys glide by as a squadron of seagulls followed astern. Soon we began taking occasional sheets of spray which wet us down. This we thought strange since we were 60 feet above the waterline. At the same time the horizon began an agonizingly slow rising motion which seemed to last for minutes on end followed by an equally long sickening dip as the ship nosed into huge incoming swells, rising and falling in slow motion. This strange feeling was soon compounded by the addition of a dizzying slow rolling motion from side to side as we began to cross the bar. This unfamiliar, nausea inducing motion, was relentless - there was nowhere to go to get away from it and it never let up. Fighting dizziness and a building sickness in the pit of my stomach, I opened clenched eyes to look over at Bill Davis and Hal Morrison standing on each side of me - I wish I hadn't - they looked ghastly. Hands clutching the rail with white knuckles they were swaying slowly back and forth in time to the ships rolling motion, eyes screwed tight shut, and their pale faces the color of a dead fish's belly.

Looking for some kind of relief we managed to let go of the rail and stagger into the Arresting Gear repair shop just under the flight deck. But we soon found laying down in a closed space was even worse - so back on deck we went to be out in the fresh cold air.

It was here we learned our first important lesson on how to be seasick. One must never - but never - "feed the fish" from the rail on the upwind side. Always hang over the rail on the downwind side. It takes only a little imagination to visualize what must happen if you are sick into the face of a 50 knot wind. Not even rain gear would help much.

As it turned out our experience was pretty much the same throughout the ship. Practically the whole crew was seasick and the cooks down in the galley had a lot of food left over that evening. Well - so much for romantic cruising on the mighty Columbia . But we did eventually gain our "sea legs" and life at sea became much more tolerable.

…Don B

 
     
 
     
 
Articles from the March 2004 issue of the SCUTTLEBUTT
 
     
 

Excerpts from the recollections of Captain Daniel V. Gallery USN Commander of Task Group 22.3

 
 

Recorded 26 May 1945 and stored at Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center . Captain Gallery's words provide a clear and interesting picture of the events leading to and the capture of U-505 some 60 years ago.

 
     
 

On planning for the capture of a U-boat; the Sinking of U-515 - April 9th, 1944 .

…In analyzing this attack afterwards it occurred to us that if we had anticipated what was going to happen and had been ready for it with organized boarding parties, we might possibly have gotten aboard the U-515 in time to save her. So we determined that on the next cruise we would anticipate such an event and be ready for it...

…as soon as he surfaced we would cease fire with any weapons that could inflict fatal damage on the submarine, that we would use only anti-personnel weapons from that point on, attempting to drive the crew overboard as rapidly as possible, meantime having our boarding parties already to go.

…Each ship in the task force was ordered to organize and instruct boarding parties and to have all preparations ready for taking a sub in tow on short notice…

 
     
 

Task Group 22.3 departs Norfolk 15 May 1944 on ASW patrol across the Central Atlantic to Casablanca:

….finally we were running short of fuel and had to head for Casablanca . But on the way in to Casablanca we decided to run searches for a U-boat reported by Cominch to be home- bound off the west coast of Africa ….

…We hunted for this fellow about four or five days and nights, had numerous indications that a submarine was nearby, such as disappearing radar contacts, noisy sonar-buoys, TAG bearings but we never did sight this fellow and we were finally about to give up the hunt. As a matter of fact for all practical purposes we had given it up and were on our way to Casablanca …

….on June 4th, Sunday morning, at about 1110, 150 miles west of Cape Blanco in French West Africa , the Chatelain reported that she had a possible sound contact...

…Chatelain, having the sound contact, was the attacking ship and the Pillsbury and Jenks were assisting ships…
.…The Chatelain's first attack with hedgehogs apparently was ineffective and at this point the sub sighted the task force, fired one acoustic torpedo and reversed course…

She [Chatelain] very soon picked up the sub again with her sound gear and following the indications of the sound gear and of the fighter planes in the air, she made a depth charge attack firing a full pattern which rolled the sub on her beams end under the water. The fighter planes immediately reported, "Chatelain, you struck oil, sub is surfacing," Then in a few seconds the sub broke surface and found herself practically in the center of a group consisting of the Chatelain, Pillsbury, and Jenks.

These ships and the two aircraft immediately opened fire on the submarine with anti-personnel ammunition. The planes fired 50 caliber guns, the destroyers fired 20 mm. and 40 mm. guns and some three-inch shells of high explosive rather than armor piercing.

The Nazis scrambled overboard as fast as they could. They attempted to man the guns but there was just too much stuff flying and they went overboard pretty fast. As soon as it was apparent that most of them had gone overboard, Commander Hall, the Division Commander issued the order, "Cease firing," "Away boarding parties."

The Jenks, Pillsbury and Chatelain all put boats in the water and Commander Hall then ordered the Jenks and the Chatelain to pick up survivors while the [boarding party of the] Pillsbury would board the sub.

The sub was left running at about 10 knots with her rudder jammed hard right… The Pillsbury's boat had to chase the sub and cut inside the circle to catch her… and the boarding party, consisting of eight enlisted men and Lieutenant jg Albert Leroy David, leaped from the boat to the circling sub and took possession of it. They didn't know what was down below. They had every reason to believe, from the way the sub was still running, that there were still Nazis left below engaged in scuttling, setting booby traps or perhaps getting rid of confidential gear. At any rate David and two enlisted men, one named Knispel, the other Wdowiak, plunged down the conning tower hatch carrying hand grenades and machine guns ready to fight it out with anyone they found below. They very definitely put their lives on the line when they went down the hatch. However, they found no one below. They did find that water was pouring into the U-boat through a bilge strainer about 8 inches in diameter which had the cover knocked off, and that all the vents were open and the boat was rapidly flooding. When they found there was no one else below they called the other boarders below and went to work closing vents. They (...Zenon B. Lukosius MoMM1/c) found the cover to this bilge strainer, slapped it back in place, screwed up the butterfly nuts on it and checked the flooding, just in the nick of time.

In the meantime another boarding party from the Guadalcanal arrived under the command of Commander Earl Trosino, Chief Engineer of the Guadalcanal , and took charge of the salvage operations. At this time the sub was so low in the water that to prevent the swells from washing down the conning tower hatch they had to close the hatch on the people who were working below. Those people down below wouldn't have had any chance whatsoever to escape in case the sub had gotten away from us.

The Pillsbury meanwhile was attempting to come alongside and take the sub in tow. She sent a message to the sub to stop the engines so she could get alongside. However, when they pulled the switches and stopped the engines, the stern of the sub sank so far in the water that it looked like she was going to up end and sink so they had to throw the switches to full speed ahead again to get the lift of the stern planes to keep the stern up, and the sub circled some more.

Well, the Pillsbury sent a message saying that the sub had to be towed to remain afloat but she didn't think a destroyer could do it…. So we maneuvered the Guadalcanal into position. I had them stop the engines on the sub and pulled up as quickly as we could, shoved our stern up against her nose, got a tow line aboard and got her going again.

About this time, or a little later, one of the destroyers, I think the Chatelain, reported that she had another possible sound contact and the Flaherty reported a disappearing radar pip. So I decided that was a good place to get away from and we started off with our tow to head for the nearest friendly port, which was Dakar . As we got underway the sub sheared way out to the right indicating that she had her rudder jammed full right. Well, we didn't feel inclined to stop at that time, so we continued the tow with the sub riding about 20 degrees on our starboard quarter.

At midnight the tow line broke as the first tow line we put out was only about an inch and a quarter wire. …so we spent the rest of the night circling the sub and getting our big tow line ready. We came alongside the sub again shortly after dawn and passed a big tow line. Meanwhile I had instructed the boarding parties to try to get the rudder amidships. They signaled to me from the sub that the rudder was amidships, so we then recovered our boarding parties and got underway again. However, it soon became apparent that the rudder was still not amidships. The sub rode the same way, about 20 degrees on our starboard quarter. ….the boarding parties had moved an electric indicator, or had caused this indicator to move from the hard right to the amidships position but that they had no way of checking where the rudder actually was because the watertight door to the after torpedo room was closed and had what they thought was a booby trap on it. We had also discovered from interrogation of prisoners that the prisoners thought the after torpedo room was flooded. However, it appeared we had to get the rudder amidships if we were going to have any success with the tow.

So, I had been just looking for a good excuse to get over to the sub myself anyway and when the boarding parties reported this booby trap I figured I was as well qualified as anyone in the task group to open booby traps because I had an ordnance PG course and quite a lot of experience with ordnance. The booby trap consisted of the door to a fuse box or rather the cover to an electric fuse box which was lying across the main dog of the watertight door in such a manner that you couldn't move the dog to open the door without closing the fuse box cover. This arrangement had possibilities as a booby trap but careful inspection of it showed no unusual or suspicious electric connections. We were unable to find any trigger mechanisms or anything else that would indicate a booby trap …. So we decided to assume that it was not a booby trap, closed the fuse box cover, and nothing happened. So we then proceeded to open the watertight door very carefully so that if the after torpedo room was flooded we would be able to jam the thing closed in case water started squirting out around the edges. However, the after torpedo room was dry so we went aft and found the hand steering gear, rigged the clutches to engage it and moved the rudder amidships by hand, meantime determining that the pressure hull was intact and that there was no flooding in the after torpedo room. However, the boat at this time was riding with her stern well down…. this was due to the fact that one of the after ballast tanks had been ruptured by the depth charges.

Other subs were supposed to be nearby and there was a full moon. So I thought it was necessary to keep our own air patrols up. At times we landed planes with only 15 knots of wind down the deck and got away with it.

At this time we got another message from Cinclant telling us that instead of going to Casablanca they wanted us for security reasons to go to Bermuda if the condition of the sub warranted it and telling us that we would be met by an oiler and a tug.

… on June 7th, we rendezvoused with the fleet tug Abnaki [ATF-96] and transferred our tow. When we lost headway the sub sank so far in the water that it looked like she was going all the way down. So we rushed our salvage parties back aboard, had the Abnaki heave her into short stay, tow as fast as she could and started lightening the sub. We removed all the loose gear that we could. We had electric submersible pumps which we sent over from the Guadalcanal and we rigged electric lines to the Abnaki and got these pumps running and pulled out probably some 33 or 40 tons of bilge water from the main control room. It was a very close thing that day as to whether she was going to go down or not.

As a matter of fact while the issue was still in doubt, the Guadalcanal got ready to act as a pontoon and hold the sub up. We rigged a heavy wire from the forward starboard edge of our starboard corner of our flight deck, let it hang in a bight underwater and brought the other end in through our hawse pipe and over to our anchor windlass. We then cruised along very slowly with our bow about 40 feet from the stern of the sub or where we figured the stern was under water. ….if the sub started going down too far the idea was we would forge ahead, slip this bite of wire under the stern and heave around with our anchor windlass and try to hold the stern up until we got her lightened enough to save her.

After about an hour of standing by to do this, it became apparent that it would not be necessary. We got the electric pumps going and got her up to manageable trim. When the salvage parties left that day they had traced out the electric wiring circuits in the sub and set the switches to charge the batteries. They disconnected the diesel engines from the electric motors so that when the Abnaki towed at about nine knots the propellers turned over the electric motors which acted as generators and charged her batteries. The next day we were able to run some of the electric machinery on the boat, the pumps, the air compressors, to blow the tanks, pump the bilges and pull her up to full surface trim. During all this time, that is the three days that the Guadalcanal had her in tow herself, we conducted flight operations day and night because we were in submarine lanes. Other subs were supposed to be nearby and there was a full moon. So I thought it was necessary to keep our own air patrols up. At times we landed planes with only 15 knots of wind across the deck and got away with it.

After the Abnaki took over the tow we escorted her, well, first we refueled the task group from the Kennebec and then we took all the confidential documents, secret codes, coding machines and a tremendous stack of dispatches, dumped them in ten mail bags and sent them over to the Jenks. We then sent the Jenks on ahead to Bermuda at full speed and this material was picked up in Bermuda by Naval Air Transport and flown to Washington . On June 19th we turned the U-505 over to the Commandant Naval Operating Base, Bermuda .

Only one man in the submarine crew was killed. We buried him at sea while the capture was going on. The others were all rescued. I believe a total of 59 of them. The submarine skipper was pretty badly wounded and remained in the sick bay of the Guadalcanal throughout the trip back.

… Ever since the task force had first been formed I had tried to impress on all hands that we would work together as a team, destroyers, carriers, and aircraft, all one team and no individual prima donna's…

I also want to mention that all the ships in the task group were less than one year old and approximately 80 per cent of the crews in all ships were serving on their first seagoing ship. Most of these people had never seen salt water until several months before this kill, or this capture. None of them, with one or two exceptions in the boarding parties, had ever been on a submarine before and all they knew about U-boats is what they learned from studying intelligence bulletins….

… I consider it a great honor and a privilege to have commanded them and I'm very proud of their work indeed….
 
     
 

Disposition of U-505

The captured submarine was investigated by Navy intelligence and engineering officers during 1945 and then promptly slated for disposal. The intention was to use U-505 for gunnery and torpedo target practice, a fate similar to those of many other enemy submarines at the end of the war.

In 1946 Father John Gallery ( …brother of then Vice Admiral Dan Gallery ) learned of the Navy's plans for U-505 and called the Museum of Science and Industry to see if MSI would have an interest in saving the sub. Museum President Lennox Lohr initiated plans to bring the U-505 to Chicago . The people of Chicago raised $250,000 to help prepare the boat for the tow and installation at the museum. In September 1954, U-505 was donated to Chicago and dedicated as a war memorial and permanent exhibit at the Museum. In 1989, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
 
     
 
     
 
Articles from the December 2003 issue of the SCUTTLEBUTT
 
     
  Glen Henricks Remembers the Big Storm…  
 
        On September 28, 1944, sailing as Task Group 22.7, USS Guadalcanal escorted by the DEs Pillsbury, Pope, Chatelain, Flaherty, and Neunzer departed Norfolk and headed North-East into the North Atlantic. On the 16th of October the Task Group was at Latitude 57' 57" North - Longitude 34' 26" West. Here is where Glen's story begins…

        The winter of 1944 found our Task Group chasing a submarine into the North Atlantic. We had heard stories about the ferocious weather up there ...we were to find out just how ferocious it could be during the week that followed. Several days out of port we were engulfed in mountainous waves that rose above the level of our flight deck, and landed with tremendous force. USS Guadalcanal was not one of the large carriers, only 500' long and we were tossed about like a cork in a bath tub of foaming water.
        We were unable to use our typewriters, because of the pitching up and down. We were lucky to be able to sit in our chairs without being scooted completely across the compartment on the steel deck. Down in the galley we had to sit on the deck while hanging onto our food trays - a number of trays slid completely across the deck, scattering food along the way. We were served finger foods most of the time, because the cooks could not use their stoves.
        The few planes on the flight deck, had fabric torn from the tail and wing surfaces ....they could not be taken below because the hanger deck was full. No one dared to walk across the flight deck in that 80 mile gale ...the catwalks around the flight deck was hardly safe either.
 
     
   
 
Gale and hurricane weather, 17 October 1944. Seas breaking over the bow
 
     
          So for four days and nights we hung on by our finger nails ...literally and figuratively. Our officer, an old timer, spent the entire time sleeping in the office with his head on the desk. A fellow yeoman was so scared he stayed outside on the catwalk in the wind for most of the time. He had a family out in Utah ....he could not rest. We went to our bunks and tied ourselves in so we wouldn't roll out on the deck.
        Finally on the fourth day we were told over the loudspeakers that the ship was going to attempt a turn to head out of the storm. The worst thing that could happen, would be for the ship to roll over and lose the entire ship and crew of 800. We made the turn and gleefully headed for Norfolk and dry dock where they found the damage that had been inflicted from those mountainous waves. The huge metal braces under the bow flight deck were cracked ...we became a training ship after that ...no more sub chases.
        I struggled with the storm just like everyone else. But recalling that experience, I am amazed how peaceful I was during those hours. I know that God had been with me and gave me this testimony to share, which I have tried to do ...and my family will read it in the saga that I am writing for them.
 
     
          Note: The extensive damage caused by this storm put the Guadalcanal in drydock for over a month while she was welded back together (..it took only 4 weeks to build her!). The hull had been cracked in three places admitting sea water to the boiler feed water tanks, the 5" gun shifted on its mount, and the hanger deck doors battered in flooding the aft elevator pit in addition to considerable flight deck and electrical circuits damage.  
     
  …contributed by Glen Henrichs Yeoman USS Guadalcanal  
     
  Does Anyone Know These Handsome Lads….?  
     
   
 
The penciled notation on the back of this snapshot indicates they are USS Pope men ashore in Bermuda - probably some time in 1944 but that is the only information
 
     
  If you can identify them, click on the icon to let us hear from you.  
     
   
 
Len Thorne Paul Setzer, Don Baker, Hal Morrison, Ed Schroeder of the USS Guadalcanal 1944
 
     
 
 
 
Lt. Wolffe Roberts, VC-8 Squadron, pilot of "Frisky 7" June 4, 1944

 
     
     
 
     
 
Articles from the September 2003 issue of the SCUTTLEBUTT
 
     
  Carrier Qualifications...  
 

        Bob Holmbeck describes his experience as a young Ensign making his first carrier landings in an SB2C dive bomber in 1945. Here's Bob….

 
     
 

        After 10 to 15 hours of field carrier landing practice, we became comfortable with flying low at slow speed. Then we went out to a carrier standing by at sea to become full fledged carrier pilots. Our ship was USS Guadalcanal CVE-60, out of Mayport, Florida. It was a small escort carrier that couldn't take many aircraft at one time, so we flew out with six '2C's, each with another pilot in the back seat to conserve deck space.
        Sitting in the back seat as we approached the deck, I remember looking at that little CVE wondering, "How does anyone get aboard that?" Unbelievable that in this big, wide ocean, there was such a small rectangular piece of deck that we had to get that big airplane onto!
        The pilot made the landing, the crew chocked the airplane with the engine still running, and I jumped in the front seat for my first takeoff. No problem. I went around everything was fine. On the downwind leg at 200ft altitude I did the checklist; mixture rich, prop low pitch, gear, flaps, and hook down.
        Coming abreast of the stern, I came around on base leg and picked up the LSO's paddles. Now I'm focused on him all the way in: too low, slow, high, fast, whatever. When he gave the cut, I chopped the throttle and pushed over to head right for the deck, then came hard back on the stick so that the airplane would plop down in a three point attitude. The airplane snagged a wire right where it was supposed to. Man! My confidence level went up about 1000 percent. From then on it's a piece of cake, or so I thought!

 
 

        After three or four landings with things going very naturally, I came up the groove and everything was normal. The carrier was at a small angle to the wind, not straight down the center. That day, it was 10 15 degrees right so prop wash was going off to the left. Receiving the cut signal from the LSO, I pulled back on the throttle, heading for the deck. While coming back on the stick, I noticed that the aircraft was drifting left. I was not down the centerline of the deck.
        In that fraction of a second, I saw things were not as they should be. When I plopped down, I opened the throttle, still drifting off the deck. Somehow, the tailhook bounced between two arresting wires failing to catch a wire, or I'd have been in big trouble. And though the wing missed the catwalk, I was headed for the drink. I hauled back on the stick, the throttle was wide open, and this thing was settling, settling, settling. It looked to me like I was going in the water, but that machine hung itself on the prop. It didn't settle any further, so I got the gear up and hung on for dear life.
        I don't know how long it took me to get some decent flying speed but I got going again, rejoined the pattern and continued on. You couldn't come any closer to going in the drink but luck was on my side. I made the next landing with no problem and finished the required number, but I often wondered why I didn't get wet. Sometime later, I looked back in my logbook and I got a little upset. For some reason, the damn fools didn't even give me credit for a "touch and go" landing !

…contributed by Bob Holmbeck TG 22.3 Association Member

 
     
  USS Abnaki - the Tug that Could…  
          Four days after the capture of the U-505 the fleet tug USS Abnaki AFT- 96 rendezvoused with TG 22.3 and took over the U-505 tow from USS Guadalcanal for the final 2,500 miles to Bermuda. Abnaki then spent the remainder of the war in Europe towing material supporting the cross-channel invasion, making stops in Iceland, South America and New Foundland.
        With the war over, Abnaki transferred to the Pacific Ocean doing towing and logistics in Japan and China. Abnaki joined Service Div. 31 during the Korean conflict.
In 1955 Abnaki helped evacuate Chinese troops and civilians from China to Taiwan. In March 1965 Abnaki made her first of 12 trips to Vietnam and was reportedly the first U.S. Navy ship to make port in Cambodia.
        Abnaki participated in Operation "Frequent Wind," the evacuation of Saigon. She then towed unwanted ships to sea and sank them. Abnaki was reputedly the last U.S. fighting ship to leave Vietnam.
 
 

        In September 1978 Abnaki was sold to and has been in service with the Mexican Navy for the past 25 years.
        In 1989 Joe Colombara of Collinsville, Illinois, started an annual reunion for Abnaki sailors. The 15th reunion was held this year August 6 10, 2003 in San Diego. The Mexican Navy brought the Abnaki to San Diego and the reunion group was able to visit it. Several reunion members were from the original crew that took part in the operation with U-505. Several hundred people toured the Abnaki while she was in San Diego.
        Abnaki is the last ship still in service connected with the capture of U-505, with the possible exception of Kennebec which was converted into a merchant ship. Three battle stars in Korea and 10 in Vietnam were earned by Abnaki; she will be 60 years old in September 2003.

… contributed by Joe Colombara USS Abnaki

 
     
  How to Enlist at Age 14….  
          One morning during the Minneapolis reunion Conway and I were sitting on a bench in the sun in front of the hotel whiling away the time spinning yarns when Conway came up with the following story. It was so funny and outlandish I knew I had to put it in Scuttlebutt. Here it is….Don
        In 1943 WW II was in full swing and I figured it was time to enlist. Only one problem - I was only 14 years old and the Navy required enlistees be at least eighteen. Well - this didn't seem to be too much of a problem so I went down to the local recruiting station and presented myself for duty. The Recruiter kind of squinted his eyes, looked me up and down and asked - "How old are you? I looked him right in the eye and told him "I'm eighteen". He considered that for a minute and then said "I'm going to have to see your birth certificate".
        Well that settled that - knowing the birth certificate wasn't going to show I was eighteen there was no point in hanging around in that office so I told him I would be back. Actually, I went a few miles down the road and presented myself at the next recruiting office. Same thing happened - when I told them I was eighteen the second recruiter gave me the look and wanted to see my birth certificate. But I was ready for them this time - I told him I had been born in Paris and when the Germans invaded, the hospital records had been destroyed so I had no birth certificate. This guy had a sense of humor - he laughed and finally relented - at least he gave me a piece of paper and told me to go find three people who knew me and have them sign it saying I was eighteen.
 
 

        Now we were getting some place. I took the paper to the pool hall and three guys hanging out signed it for me. Back at the recruiting center the man took the paper from me, grinned and said, "OK - your in" and that was the beginning of thirty years in the US Navy.

…as related by Conway "Heavyweather" Clay USS Jenks