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Posted: 11/18/2008 6:07:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/19/2008 11:52:08 AM EDT by emcs31089]
Well My grandfather died in 2000 and I never really knew him that well. I knew he had served in WW2 and thats really all I knew. I was always told by my mother that he was in the Merchant Marines. I recently acquired this excerpt which was claimed to be from his journal he kept during the war but I think it must be from a book he was writing on his experiences in the war. The book was never finished and I only have been able to get about 6 pages of it because of a falling out with that side of the family.
From reading this it certainly seems he was in the Navy. I know he was on the SS Nathaniel Greene, a Liberty ship. So it seems he may have been a part of the naval armed guard on the ship. From what I can find his ship was sunk in the Mediterranean in 43, so I'm not sure where he was in 44 and 45.

Anyway I read this and it was really interesting to me as it puts the whole war in perspective. There was alot going on that most people never have heard about, and things like this make you appreciate the guys who were involved with supplying our troops and our allies. It was interesting to me, not sure it will be to anyone else.

This excerpt is describing Sept 17 1942 I believe, his convoy was PQ17 to Archangel, Russia.

The enemy aircraft was driven off and the
general alarm sounded for dismissal from our gun
stations and we returned to our quarters amidships.
No sooner had we returned to our quarters than the
alarm sounded again for another air attack.
Back at our gun stations we spotted the enemy
planes to the starboard of the convoy .My God! I
said, look at them come! Theres no use trying to
count them! They're torpedo bombers! Their squadrons
looked like swarms of attacking Hornets! All of our
guns were trained on them as they flew up ahead of
the convoy.

We wondered whether they would try to split the
convoy in two as they had tried to do yesterday.. The
Cruisers and Destroyers maneuvered into positions for
battle, broadside to the enemy. Well ahead of the
convoy, the enemy planes swerved and came at us!
They were splitting into two seperate
formations - and now we were aware of their
intentions - half of them were to attempt to destroy
our naval escort, and the other half to destroy the
the merchantmen! As the enemy approached, this
vessel let go the first shot from the convoy with
the 3.50 AA and a 8 second fuse from our foward gun!
- and made a direct hiton the squadron leader,
blowing his fuselage in two! All of convoy vessels
opened fire on the attackers!As thoughantagonized
by our direct hit, about seven torpedo planes
commenced attacking our vessel and we gave them
everything we had! What a blaze of gunfire! Our guns
tore hell out of them and they passed over us in
flames![3.50 AA, 20MM Oerlikons, .50 CAl Brownings
and .30 CAL Marlins]


~ I was in the Port Side machine gun nest on the
Poop Deck with Blackie - he manned the gunfire. as I
directed the gun laying. As he concentrated on his
line of fire I sighted the most threatening target
for Blackie to lay his gunfire on. God! We had to
move fast! There was no time for indicision! The
enemy aircraft were machine gunning us as well and
were just as determined as we were in our gunf~re!
Our ship was now zigzagging as bombs were
dropping around us. The Master on the bridge sighted
two torpedoes coming right at us on our Port bow!
Hard left wheel! he ordered the quartermaster. The
ships heading swung to Port to attempt to dodge the
torpedoes. As we swung ship, our stern went towards
the: 5.5. Mary Luckenbach which was falling back from
abeam of us to our starboard quarter. Frantically
searching for the next threatening enemy plane for
Blackie to direct his gunfire at I saw the 5.5. Mary
Luckenbach directly astern of us and then a flash of
flame split the heavens above it as the blast of the
explosion hit me and I yelled to Blackie to"Duck!" at
the top of my lungs and quickly we fell to the deck
of the gun nest

The force of the S.S.Mary Luckenbachs explosion
was terrifying! Our vessel was lifted from the sea
and shook violently as the obliterated ship fell upon
us in shrapnel form! In split second action we
appraised our situation. We were in a dense cloud of
black smoke thick. with the smell of gun powder from
the explosion, ~knowing whether we were to remain
afloat or disappear beneath the sea. We climbed over
the gun nest wall on to the poop deck and then dove
over its rail to the main deck below and crawled to
cover. Tons and tons of shrapnel continued to fall
about us, in every size, in cruel and grotesque
shapes and patterns.

Visibility about our gun stations was gradually
clearing. The bridge and the midships housing was not
yet visible. The afterdeck rigging was in ribbons,
the crates .of deck cargo were blown apart, and the
deck cargo of army tanks for Stalingrad appeared to
be in ruins. Everything within sight was battered
from the concussion and vacuum created by the
explosion. Our clothing was ripped and torn from the
blast and saturated with fragmented steel from
shrapnel. We were not yet aware of the extent of
injuries that were incurred by our men. The foward
part of the ship must have been blown to bits. God
help those poor shipmates!
I looked .over the ships side and the ships
propeller was turning slowly. Unsure whether we
would remain afloat, or sink, I.was uncertain what we
should do. Dive overboard and swim clear of the ships
suction .beneath the sea,or hang on and wait for
rescue from a destroyer. Rescue was highly unlikely
considering how the enemy quickly destroyed our
crippled merchant vessels following yesterdays combat
action.
As I pondered our fate, the heavy black smoke
started to lift and the shrapnel stopped falling.
Looking forward, the ,bridge started to appear.- it
had not blown up as I had feared!. Then the ships
whistle sounded to report to our boat stations to
abandon ship! I made sure that all of the men that
were in the after gun stations were accounted for and
on their way to the life boats.
Before leaving for the gun stations for the
lifeboats, I remembered one last thing I had to do.
When I was on watch the night before the Captain said
to me, "Mr. Gill, during todays battles I noticed
that none of our American ships flew their Ensign.
Now, if we had our Stars and Stripes flying from the
gaff !" I replied "Aye, Aye, Sir!" and promised
when we went into battle again I would make sure to
send our Stars and Stripes flying.

Todays enemy action was so time pressing that
I completely overlooked my commitment to the
Captain. Now that the abandon ship alarm had been
sounded, and the crew was manning the lifeboats, I
remembered my orders and made my way to the mainmast.
I removed the Ensign from its locker, bent it on its
halyard, and aloft she went! When the men seen the
Stars and Stripes flying from the gaff of the
mainmast they broke out in cheers. I felt a lump in
my throat and overwhelmed with emotion and thought
"What heroes! We have so much to fight for!"


ETA


The Captain gave orders to the Chief Engineer
to stop the ships engineswhile a quick survey was
made to check the ships mechanical equipment for safe
operation and compartments for tightness. I mustered
the men assigned to my lifeboat, made sure that they
were all there, and awaited orders to embark from
the Captain, who was on the wing of the bridge. Some
of the men were seriously injured. One of the men at
my gun station had a large piece of shrapnel pierce
his back, and another had his right arm torn up from
enemy gun fire. There was no time to fully survey and
document the extent of injuries that the men had
suffered.

Several of the injured men had made it to their
life boats and collapsed to the deck. The two ships
cooks suffered severe head injuries. A couple of the
armed guard men were all shot up from enemy machine
gun fire. As I looked around, I could see more
casualties. Willy, one of our Messmen, was blown into
the sea from the foredeck by the explosion. Helmets
were torn from the heads of some by the explosions
viol~nt concussion, and all that remained were the
helmets chin straps and its cotton padding for head
protection. Helmets worn by crew members that were on
duty within the ships quarters were rippled like
metal washboards.'The concussion and vacuum generated
by the explosion within the ships compartments had
'buffered the mens heads and bodies back and forth
against the steel bulkheads.

Morphine was given to the most seriously
wounded and first aid administered to those that
realized that they needed care. The state of shock
suffered by the men from the explosion was so great
that few realized that they had been injured. We
still did not know whether we had suffered a torpedo
attack. The ships engines were still working, the
propeller was turning slowly, .and the ships steering
gear was working.

The Captain sDunded the ships whistle for
dismissal from boat statiDns. He rang up the engine
telegraph and gave Drders to the engine room for full
speed ahead to attempt to catch up with the convoy.
Those that were able to stand watch were ordered back
to their gun stations.
The air was heavy with suspense as the ship
attempted to catch up with the cDnvoy. The men cDuld
not forget how, after yesterday~ battle, the enemy
planes had flown back to the crippled and sinking
ships and destroyed them. They knew that the same
disaster had been in store fDr them.
The men on the other ships in the convoy
cheeredi and cheefed, as we caught up with them! The
Stars and Stripes were still flying over this Yankee,
so horribly scarred frDm battle with the enemy, with
rigging hanging from its masts in threads, with
portholes blown in, heavy exterior oak doors blown
off, and liferafts blown away, and its decks strewn with
debris from its shattered deck cargo. All that
mattered to us now was that we were still alive,
afloat, and we were going to make "it! "
What was left of the enemy planes had returned
~o their base and on this day victory belonged to our
convoy. We had suffered the Ioss of only two vessels
in todays battle, but the enemy planes had paid very
heavily in their losses for the vessels which they
had destroyed in battle the day before. The enemy
pilots had fought fiercely in their attack on the
convoys vessels. Very daringly they flew directly
into our convoy vessels line of fire to destroy them.
Head on they flew at Dur naval defence forces to
knock ,them out. Many of the enemy planes hit the sea
in flames as they were gunned down and few of those
that survived our convoys gun fire returned to their
bases unscathed from battle. They were Dur enemy, yet
they earned Dur deepest admiration for their daring
bravery in battle.

The ships alarm was sounded for dismissal from
gun stations. When the men returned to their quarters
they 'found them completely devastated. Compartment
doors were blown off, furniture and equipment blown
apart, and clothing and furnishings in shreds. I was
lucky. My cabin was the least damaged of the Officers
Quarters.
A British destroyer came alongside to remove
our casualties. They looked in shock at Dur derelict
condition and wondered what kept us afloat.
We regained our station in the convoy and
noticed that all of the vessels in the columns that
had been originally on our starboard side had been
destroyed. We realized that the enemy action had
concentrated on the starboard side of the convoy and we were
were supposed to be the next to go, but thankfully we
didn't make it. We had not been torpedoed as we had
thought.

Through the skillful maneuvering of the
Captain and the Chief and Second Mates we had barely
dodged the torpedoes launched by the enemy aircraft
squadron after we had shot down their leader. As the
ships head swung to port the four torpedes in
staggered tandem passed beneath our bow and on to
the destruction of the ~.S.Mary Luckenbach.
The unfortunate vessel was loaded with high
explosive ammunition and military weapons. She just
blew to Hell and all hands went with her. She was not
much more than two ships lengths astern of us. The
powerful strength of the blast practically lifted our
vessel right out of the water with her. She was
transformed into 10,000 tons of steel shrapnel, which
came down on our convoy in grotesque shapes and
pieces of its steam engines, structural steel, and
weapons cargo. Its crew were obliterated.
Before we had departed Scotland on this voyage
I went aboard the S.S.Mary Luckenbach to visit the
ships Second Mate and its Bos'n, who were both good
friends and shipmates with me on a sister ship, the
J.L.Luckenbach. The thought that they were no
more left me in a state of shock. It was so
unbelievable. I was numb. God damn it! It sure looked
like my ship and shipmates would be the next to go .

The convoy escort were British Navel Vessels.
They consisted of Destroyers, Anti-Aircraft Cruisers,
Escort Carriers, Submarines, Minesweepers and Rescue
Trawlers. The British sailors on the naval escort
vessels were daring !fighters and without their
courageous counter attacks today's convoy battle
would have been lost. They were held in deepest
admiration by the ships crews in the convoy. The
barrages of gunfire put up by the swift maneuvering
British destroyers against air attacks by the enemy
were overwhelming. Their gunfire was so heavy that
from stem to stern their broadsides were a mass of
flames. The sky was so thick with enemy aircraft that
one Destroyer was seen to knock down five torpedo
bombers one right after the other. So damn fast!

A squadron of torpedo bombers flew in real
low, just above the waters surface, to attack and
sink an Aircraft Carrier. Quickly the Carrier turned
broadside to the oncoming enemy planes and just below
the flight deck her batteries exploded in gunfire and
downed the attackers like clay pigeons! She
maneuvered like Hell and put on a show of naval
warfare for the enemy planes which quickly dispatched
most of them to Davy Jones Locker!



ETA2
The British pilots that manned the Royal Navys'
Avenger and Hurricane fighters displayed unbelievable
daring and courage in their defense of the naval and
merchant vessels. In their fighting skill and spirit
they were the perfect match to those British naval
fighters that ruled the seas surface. Any doubts that
the enemy may have had about the feroscity of the
British fighters had been long put to rest.
Again and again, the British Avenger and
Hurricane fighters flew head on, directly into
squadrons of attacking enemy planes, breaking up
their formations. Then they would force the enemy
craft, heavy with bombs and torpedo loads, into dog
fights and sending them to the sea in flames and
explosive blasts with their death yielding cargoes.
When the Destroyer gunfire forced the Junker 88
bombers above the cloud cover to escape the anti
aircraft barrages, the British fighters pressed them
with their firepower back down under the cloud
umbrella to their destruction by the surface war
ships.

The daring counter attacks by our Avenger and
Hurricane fighter aircraft against the Ju.88 and
He.lll enemy aircraft were sacrificial in their
defense of the merchantmen of the convoy. No matter
what the numerical odds were against their success,
they did not appear to give a damn. They literally
looked death right in the eyeball and into the enemy
formations they flew with their airborne armament
blazing!
One of the Hurricane fighter aircraft pilots
sent a message to his Aircraft Carrier that he had
completely expended his ammunition supply.He was
caught in the choice of either being shot down by a
squadron of oncoming He.lll torpedo bombers or flying
directly into their formation to break up their
attack on the convoy merchant ships. Right into them
he flew splitting up their attack formation! What
nerve! The enemy aircraft squadron was so completely
taken off guard by the maneuver that the attacking
Hurricane fighter aircraft escaped what had appeared
to be inevitable self destruction and returned safely
to his Aircraft Carrier.
The destroyer that removed our eight casualties
was later torpedoed and sunk enroute to England, but
This happened after they had hospitalized ashore.
At about 4:30 PM I reported to the bridge. The
only thing that was not smashed was the ships wheel.
The gyro and magnetic compasses were useless. If we
lost sight of the convoy, navigation would have been
impossible. Due to the continuing heavy overcast the
sun and stars were out of sight for navigation. We
could not correct our compass error.

I climbed. up to the 'monkey' bridge and saw
'sparks' - our radio operator.We walked up to each
other, shook hands, and embraced in our happiness to
be alive and see each other pull through. When the
blast occured he sent out a message on the radio that
we had been torpedoed (which we thought).
During my watch, the convoy altered its course
and headed due south, having rounded the North Cape
to the eastward, which made the crew happy as it
meant that we were now headed for the submarine
sheltered waters of the White Sea, and on to
Archang~l, our port of destination iun the USSR.
After I was relieved of my watch I returned to
my gun station with my gun crew to survey the damage
done by the SS Mary Luckenbach explosion. A large
section of our 4-inch surface gun base was blown
off.There was a large amount of ammunition stored by
the station guns ready for instant action. What a
surprise we had when we looked into one of the
ammunition ready boxes that was full of 4-inch
shells. A piece of shrapnel about 6 inches long and
2-1\2 inches wide had penetrated the armor plating of
the box and the casing of one of the shells! And had
not exploded! What a miracle that was! There were
about seventy of the 4-inch shells there, enough to
have blown the stern of the vessel to Hell and all of
us with it!
Some one up there was watching out for us. We
all felt sure of that. We had all been so close to
deaths door over the past few days, yet we had
survived until now. When I turned in that night, I
said a prayer to God thanking Him that I was still
alive, asking Him to take care of us and to please
see us safely through this ordeal of battle.. I know
that I was not alone in my prayers that night.
Tuesday September 15. 1942
When I reported for duty on the bridge at 4:00
AM there was little change in the weather, -
overcast, moderate confused sea and swell, and
excellent visibility. About 5:00 AM the commodore
blinkered to us, AA - AA - AA, the general call in
Morseto communicate. I answered him with the Aldis
Lamp, and he inquired of how badly we were damaged
and the number of men that were injured, The Captain,
who was present with the Chief Officer, wrote out a
reply for me to send them.The Commodore answered
"Reverence at your Qun layinQ. You are at the top of
the class". He had to send that message a couple of
times for I couldn't believe it. I felt emotional
and thought of what Hell we had to go through to
receive that compliment.
Captain Vickers, a very courageousperson, had
me relay his appreciation to the Commodore for his
recognition of our ships fighting performance under
battle with the enemy. The ships crew and the armed
guard sailors were very excited and most proud of the
battle citation received from the Commodore. To be
singled out as being in the "top of the class" for
our fighting performance with the enemy was a great
honor.

There were a couple of attack alerts sounded
during the early morning for submarines in the area
but the depth charges dropped by the destroyers
scared the enemy off. At about 2:00 PM we were called
to our gun stations to fight off another attack, this
time by both high level bombers and dive bombers. As
a bomber dived at us I emptied my ammunition rounds
on him and he flew on. The planes were also dropping
mines on parachutes and the gunners fired at them to
set them off. As the bombers flew over us, the sailor
helping me with the gun laying would get excited and
yell "Shoot! Shoot! let him have it! he's coming
right at us! But often I couldn't because the enemy
plane was not quite in range where I knew positively
I could down him before he got us.This was an ongoing
scene.

The dive bombers continued to press their
attacks, machine gunning the vessels and their crews
as they dived towards them. Another bomber came right
at us and within range I let him have it! I could
see my stream of gunfire with tracer shells go right
up his nose! I emptied my ammunition belt in him and
yelled "I g6t him! damn it I got him! Just as quickly
as this combat action took place, it was repeated,
again, and again, by each of the gunners.,There was
no time to look back and see the results of your gun
fire. The action was fierce and gunners had to stay
with it , not just to win, but to live another day.
That air raid lasted three hours. The
temperature dropped, heavy dark clouds set in, and
the men felt frozen. The attacks came to a halt as
the enmy bombers left for their base. The alarm
sounded for dismissal from our gun stations.
Submarines continued to harass the convoy and the
destroyers kept dropping their depth charges
throughout the night. Return to our station alarms
for submarine alerts were sounded several times. Too
tense 'for sleep, some of us spent the night in the
ammunition magazine clipping shells in ammunition
belts to be ready for the next enemy attack. Tracer
and armor piercing shells: a red one, two black ones;
a red one, two black ones; a red one, two black ones;
a red one, two black ones;


went ahead and added the last of what i have.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 6:14:23 PM EDT
Wow, that's an amazing story. I hope you are able to find the rest of it.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 6:21:55 PM EDT
Dayum, that was a neat read.

Took alot of balls to get on a liberty ship that was in a huge convoy with the wolf packs on the prowl...
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 6:26:43 PM EDT
Thats great, I wish my grandfather had left more regarding his experience in ETO.
Luckily he took LOTS of pictures, and I now have the albums.
Theres one photo of him faking bayonetting one of his buddies wearing a german officers jacket. I love those albums.
Link Posted: 11/18/2008 6:29:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By puppis:
Wow, that's an amazing story. I hope you are able to find the rest of it.


Unfortunately this is all that they have sent me. They also have his purple hearts and other medals /citations and alot of other things I would love to just see.



Originally Posted By LuvBUSHmaster:
Dayum, that was a neat read.

Took alot of balls to get on a liberty ship that was in a huge convoy with the wolf packs on the prowl...


A sub was eventually responsible for its sinking. Well a sub damaged the ship and it was then hit by several aerial torpedoes it seems.

I have a few more pages if yall would like to read them, I'm just copying and pasting from a scanned image it seems so some characters aren't converted right.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 10:14:50 AM EDT
added a bit more to the OP....
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 10:21:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/19/2008 10:26:51 AM EDT by Lester_Burnham]
Do a google search for "SS Nathaniel Greene" and see what comes up. I did something similar in trying to do research on my own grandfather, and you would be surprised at some of the stuff you find. One site I found in my own research was made by the son of one of the guy's my grandfather served with (he had recently passed, so no idea if they would have known each other).

Good luck, great story.

ETA: I think it might be "Nathanael" Greene, this is from the "Nathanael Greene" wiki article:

Liberty class steam merchant (1942), which was sunk by a U-boat during World War II,


There is a more recent "USS Nathanael Greene" that appears to be a submarine.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 10:22:06 AM EDT
Originally Posted By emcs31089:
Originally Posted By puppis:
Wow, that's an amazing story. I hope you are able to find the rest of it.


Unfortunately this is all that they have sent me. They also have his purple hearts and other medals /citations and alot of other things I would love to just see.



Originally Posted By LuvBUSHmaster:
Dayum, that was a neat read.

Took alot of balls to get on a liberty ship that was in a huge convoy with the wolf packs on the prowl...


A sub was eventually responsible for its sinking. Well a sub damaged the ship and it was then hit by several aerial torpedoes it seems.

I have a few more pages if yall would like to read them, I'm just copying and pasting from a scanned image it seems so some characters aren't converted right.



If he was awarded the Purple Heart Medal he was in the military, not the merchant marine.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:02:44 AM EDT
I kick myself in the butt for not making more of an effort to ask my uncle about his experience with the Flying Tigers.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:27:04 AM EDT
Originally Posted By FightingHellfish:
If he was awarded the Purple Heart Medal he was in the military, not the merchant marine.


I figured he must have been. I found a pin from a SEABEEs reunion he went to and remember him saying something once about being a SEABEE but it gets confusing because he was in the Merchant Marines prior to WW2 and later taught at the Merchant Marine Academy I am told....

Originally Posted By Lester_Burnham:
Do a google search for "SS Nathaniel Greene" and see what comes up. I did something similar in trying to do research on my own grandfather, and you would be surprised at some of the stuff you find. One site I found in my own research was made by the son of one of the guy's my grandfather served with (he had recently passed, so no idea if they would have known each other).

Good luck, great story.

ETA: I think it might be "Nathanael" Greene, this is from the "Nathanael Greene" wiki article:

Liberty class steam merchant (1942), which was sunk by a U-boat during World War II,


There is a more recent "USS Nathanael Greene" that appears to be a submarine.
D'oh I always mispell it but yes it is Nathanael Greene. As you said google turns up mixed results, seems every time I google there is a new source of info, a new site which has been made or a new article written.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:34:54 AM EDT
Your grandfather's account comes from either 12, 13, 14, or 15 September, 1942.

Here is a link to an account of the explosion he describes, with a picture of the ill fated ship:


http://www.portchicago.org/lastwave/chapters/LastWave_Ch8.pdf

Report indicates it was a Junkers 88 Torpedo bomber, already in flames from A.A. fire, that set off her cargo of H.E., and if the report is right, the explosion took out the attacking plane and another attacking German plane.



Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:38:47 AM EDT
Man, those PQ convoys were grueling. Going through frigid artic waters under Nazi sub, sea and air attack without let up.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:44:34 AM EDT
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:47:17 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/19/2008 11:52:54 AM EDT by emcs31089]
Originally Posted By CBR900:
Your grandfather's account comes from either 12, 13, 14, or 15 September, 1942.

Here is a link to an account of the explosion he describes, with a picture of the ill fated ship:


http://www.portchicago.org/lastwave/chapters/LastWave_Ch8.pdf

Report indicates it was a Junkers 88 Torpedo bomber, already in flames from A.A. fire, that set off her cargo of H.E., and if the report is right, the explosion took out the attacking plane and another attacking German plane.





Thanks for that link! I have to think from my grandfathers descripton that perhaps his ship is somewhere in that photograph. Perhaps one of the ones silhouetted against the explosion? He said the Luckenbach was little more that a ships length to their starboard so that would seem to indicate so.

ETA what I just copied and pasted to the OP indicates it was the 14th of Sept.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:51:25 AM EDT
Great thread, thank you!
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:55:09 AM EDT
Wow.

Pure win. What an experience. Men who fight and survive like this to tell the tale so eloquently are some bad motherfuckers.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:57:36 AM EDT
Originally Posted By emcs31089:
Originally Posted By CBR900:
Your grandfather's account comes from either 12, 13, 14, or 15 September, 1942.

Here is a link to an account of the explosion he describes, with a picture of the ill fated ship:


http://www.portchicago.org/lastwave/chapters/LastWave_Ch8.pdf

Report indicates it was a Junkers 88 Torpedo bomber, already in flames from A.A. fire, that set off her cargo of H.E., and if the report is right, the explosion took out the attacking plane and another attacking German plane.





Thanks for that link! I have to think from my grandfathers descripton that perhaps his ship is somewhere in that photograph. Perhaps one of the ones silhouetted against the explosion? He said the Luckenbach was little more that a ships length to their starboard so that would seem to indicate so.

ETA what I just copied and pasted to the OP indicates it was the 14th of Sept.


Wow... that was a KILOTON level explosion.

Link Posted: 11/19/2008 12:08:22 PM EDT
tag
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 12:19:21 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 12:29:47 PM EDT
Good story.

My grandfather is still alive (but his health is failing ). He was a Marine too. I believe he was a Buck Sargent (?). Anyway, he drove the boats that took the soldiers to the shores. I believe he got drafted late into the war because he never was sent on a mission. They wanted him to stay in after the war was over, but he really didn't like it so he declined.

My grandmother lived with him on base and worked at a couple differnet laundries close to the base. She opened and savings account and put all the money she made into it. when they came home, they had accumulated quite a good amount of money for the time.

They love to talk about it, so I engage them in conversation a lot.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 12:42:14 PM EDT
Originally Posted By GonzoAR15-1:
Wow.

Pure win. What an experience. Men who fight and survive like this to tell the tale so eloquently are some bad motherfuckers.


I've learned how tough the man was since he died...
He grew up during the depression tons of brothers and sisters (Irish family) he dropped out of high school to provide for them. Wore shoes made of cardboard and ate scraps of rotting food as he could find it. Lied about his age to join the CCC and later Merchant Marines. After the war he went to Suffolk and then Harvard University. Never had a high school diploma and never had a penny in his lifetime that he didn't work his ass off for.

his brothers were also tough guys...I found a newspaper clipping from 1936 talking about his brother who was arrested in germany. he was a sailor also, had just delivered cargo I suppose. anyway he was arrested by the Gestapo the article said for getting drunk and yelling obscenities about Hitler. When confronted he began to sing the "Communist anthem" (?? USSR Anthem maybe?) I don't think he was a communist, I think he just enjoyed causing trouble. This guy got into bar fights up into his 70s. Not sure how he managed to get out of that mess but he was giving the Germans a hard time again 8 years later
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 2:15:49 PM EDT
You are welcome. thanks for posting the part of the book you own; I hope you find the rest of it one day & have the whole thing published.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 2:28:39 PM EDT
Thank you for sharing. That read like a novel and your grandfather was quite a good writer for someone who never got his high school diploma. Popeye, Nelson, Nimitz and Halsey would be proud to be his shipmate.


If you want, I can put you in contact with Dr. Craig Symonds, a professional historian who just retired from the Mariners' Museum (Newport News, VA). He's already written several books and can probably edit that diary. I'm sure the Naval Institute Press will publish it (if not some university press).
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 2:39:27 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 4v50:
Thank you for sharing. That read like a novel and your grandfather was quite a good writer for someone who never got his high school diploma. Popeye, Nelson, Nimitz and Halsey would be proud to be his shipmate.


If you want, I can put you in contact with Dr. Craig Symonds, a professional historian who just retired from the Mariners' Museum (Newport News, VA). He's already written several books and can probably edit that diary. I'm sure the Naval Institute Press will publish it (if not some university press).


Thank you for the kind words and your offer, the thing is, I only have whats posted here. I have requested several times the book in its entirety but this is all I've seen. I'm terribly afraid it has been destroyed, as soon as the man died most of his family began to bicker over their inheritance and slander the man . If I can ever get my hands on the rest of it I may pursue something like this...
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 4:24:11 PM EDT
My dad was a B24 pilot, flew a lot of missions. He never talked about it. His only stories were about nearly hitting a radio tower and landing in a blinding sandstorm in Texas and getting lost in a T6 over Missouri.
I think he didn't want my mom to know what it was like flying in the war. She was freaked out enough, taking care of my sister and wondering if he'd come back from overseas.
Good thing he did, or I wouldn't be here!
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 5:48:26 PM EDT
Just wanted to add this picture I found. I think this must be the Luckenbach exploding also. If you look closely you can see a diving plane in the left hand side of the picture.

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