Friday, March 30, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 13: North Carolina Shipbuilding Company Closes Down


The ships launched by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company's ships are considered among the best and most efficiently built vessels of the war.  But on April 16, 1946, the last ship, the SS Santa Isabel, sled down the ways.  The company shutters its operation and releases most of its 25,000 workers.

The site sat vacated.  But, after nearly five years of negotiations, on November 15, 1949, the state port authority was created with a fifty-year lease on the northeast section of the yard.

Part of the site will be developed into the Port of Wilmington, a modern deep-water port -- planned but never realized after World War I.

The Liberty Ships at last retired from the high seas.  But two of them are still operational.

--GreGen

N.C,'s Liberty Armada-- Part 12: Pearl Harbor Was the Next Day


The dignitaries at the SS Zebulon B. Vance's launching retired to a luncheon at the Cape Fear Country Club.  Workers like Elverton Shands headed for home.

Scarcely 24 hours later, Shands was listening to the radio.  "It was the Washington Redskins nd the Bears game," he recalls.  A newscaster interrupts the game to report the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.  "Well, I knew my father was in the Navy.  ...And I came downstairs and I said, 'Daddy, where's Pearl Harbor?'"

His father told him.

And the war was on, and the Liberty Ships were on their way.

--GreGen

Thursday, March 29, 2018

U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War


United States involvement in the war started slowly with an initial deployment of advisers in the early 1950s, grew incrementally through the early 1960s and expanded with the deployment of full combat units in July 1965.

American forces actually fighting in the war came to an end in 1973, but it wasn't until April 1975 when the last U.S. personnel were evacuated as Saigon fell to North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces.

Those who served active duty in the armed forces from 1955 to 1975 are recognized on March 29.

The Vietnam War was my generation's war.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 11: Launching of the Vance and Its Service


The SS Zebulon Vance was the first of 243 ships to be built in Wilmington at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Companyduring the war.  Most were of the Liberty Ship design, but others were of the Victory Ship design which were faster.  Twenty-seven were sunk.

But, the Vance is lucky.  It survived a torpedo attack and floating mines on the dreaded Murmansk, Soviet Union, run.  It then was part of the transport fleet for the invasion of North Africa.  Later it did duty as a hospital ship, renamed the USS John J. Meany.  Its final duty in the war was to transport war brides home from Europe.

But, back to its launching.  Spectators mobbed the riverbanks.  The Vance was festooned stem to stern with nautical flags.  It slid down to the river stern-first.  Tugboats blasted their whistles and then nudges the ship alongside its fitting-out dock.

--GreGen

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 10: SS Zebulon Vance Launched Dec. 6, 1941


The first Liberty Ship to slide down the ways into the Cape Fear River, then, was the Zebulon B. Vance.  It was 441.6 feet long, 56 foot beam and displaced 14,100 tons with a draft of 27.8 feet.

It was manned by 44 officers and crew and could carry more than 9,000 tons of cargo:  440 tanks, 2,840 jeeps or 230 rounds of small arms ammunition.  It cost $1,610,000.

These Liberty Ships were not just being built here, but in shipyards all along the seaboard.

The launch took place on December 6 in a short ceremony with brief remarks.  North Carolina Governor Joseph M. Broughton also spoke.  His wife, Alice W. Broughton christened the ship with the traditional bottle of champagne.

--GreGen


Monday, March 26, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 9: South Carolina-Named Ships Launched in North Carolina?


The first of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company's designated "Liberty Ships" scheduled to be launched in December 1941, was to be named Francis Marion, honoring the American Revolution guerrilla leader from South Carolina.  Others were to have the names Nathaniel Greene and Daniel Morgan, Revolutionary War generals from Rhode Island and New Jersey.  Four more were to be named after South Carolinians:  John C. Calhoun, Charles C. Pinckney, William Moultrie and Edward Rutledge.

These names struck a blow to local pride and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to the United States Maritime Commission in charge of the ships reading:  "Thus, it would appear that, to date, South Carolina has gained more recognition than any other state in the number of vessels constructed here."

Just weeks before the Marion's launch, the name was changed to Zebulon B. Vance, the Civil War governor of North Carolina.

--GreGen

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 8: 24,000 Workers At Peak and USOs


There was a new high-speed turbine shop at the yard that was so top secret that it was not placed on shipyard  maps.

The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company continued to grow and eventually employed 25,000 workers. and dispensed a payroll of $50 million a year.

Wilmington was transformed into a boomtown as young workers with money to spend mingled with soldiers, sailors and Marines.  A growing number of USOs, bars and nightclubs sprang up.  The USO at Second and Orange was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and became quite a social hub.

Junior Hostesses and Liberty Belles danced with servicemen, mend their uniforms and serve them refreshments.

--GreGen

Sunday, March 25, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 7: Three Shifts, Women and U-boats


The shipyard swarmed with workers 24 hours a day working in three shifts.  Women were allowed just to work the first two shifts, never the graveyard shift or below decks to avoid compromising situations.  The company provided on-site day care for their young children.  But women with no children are more valued as workers.

At night, the shipyard is illuminated by nearly 2,000 floodlights.  Easier for the people to work, but there was a danger.

Captains of ships passing by offshore complained that on cloudy nights with no moon, they were silhouetted against this bright light and perfect targets for the waiting U-boats.  On the night of March 12, 1942, the tanker John D. Gill, bound for Philadelphia, was torpedoed near the mouth of the Cape Fear River by a German U-boat.

Future sea trials for newly commissioned vessels were conducted entirely in the river because of the German U-boat threat.

--GreGen

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wreck of the USS Juneau Found


March 21, 2018, Newsweek  "USS Juneau:  Warship sunk by Japan in World War II discovered two miles beneath the Pacific"  Cullom Paton.

Found 2 1/2 miles deep off the coast of the Solomon Islands on Saturday, march 17.  It was found by Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and brings his total of historic shipwrecks he's found to six.

It was sunk by the Japanese in November 1942 with the loss of 687 naval personnel.  That includes the famous five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa:  George, Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert.  These five demanded they be put on the same ship despite the Navy's policy forbidding family members from serving on the same ship.  A destroyer was named after them.

The Juneau had been commissioned just a year before it was sunk in the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Paul Allen has also found the USS Lexington, USS Indianapolis, USS Ward and USS Astoria as well as the Japanese battleship Musashi and the Italian destroyer Artigliere.

--GreGen

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 6: Fast Growth and Role of Women


The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company took shape in a matter of months.  It sat on 57 acres along the Cape Fear River, had its own bus terminal, cafeteria, police and fire departments and even its own hospital.

Four hundred Newport News employees were transferred to Wilmington from Virginia.  But, more than 500 men and women were recruited locally: plumbers, carpenters and electricians along with unskilled trainees who would have to learn on the job.

At first, women had to do less strenuous jobs, but quickly showed they were capable of more physically demanding jobs such as plumbing and welding.  They dressed in slacks and blouses and wore work shoes.  This last thing was made difficult because steel-toed work boots came just in men's sizes.  Many wore Boy Scout shoes or went with open-toe footwear so broken toes were a constant hazard.

--GreGen

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 5: Blacks and Whites At the Shipyard


Work gangs on the ships were integrated.  White and Black men worked alongside each other doing both skilled and unskilled jobs.  But dining, restroom and locker facilities were strictly segregated.  White workers read the Shipyard Bulletin, while Blacks read The Colored Shipbuilder.

Discrimination by Maritime Commission contractors was prohibited, but that usually was not the case.  During periods of racial tension, Backs and Whites exited the shipyards through separate gates.

The article didn't mention if there was a difference in pay rates between Blacks and Whites.

--GreGen


Monday, March 19, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 4: Housing Projects for Workers


The N.C. Shipbuilding Co. was able to get Federal subsidies to construct three housing projects for 900  workers and their families.

Greenfield Terrace was a permanent one to house 300 white families with rents starting at $27.50 a month.  Lake Village had temporary fabrication houses for another 475 white families.  The 126 black families had Hillcrest Extension, a permanent community with rents from $10 to $22.

The two white communities were located near Greenfield Lake, just north of the shipyard and an easy commute.  Housing for the black workers were several miles away.

Buses served all three communities and eventually there were 140 trucks and buses  ferrying people around.

These buses were often crowded qt the end of shifts and workers got to them as past as possible to avoid being straphangers and standing.

--GreGen


N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 3: Using New Technology


What they had planned for this new Cape Fear shipyard was to construct 37 new cargo ships at a cost of $42 million.  They would be built to a uniform design adopted from the British and to be used in all American shipyards to build these ships, to be known as Liberty Ships.

They could be modified for use as tankers and fitted out with anti-aircraft guns.  They would carry supplies to England through the Lend-Lease Act of 1941.

Plus, they would be built using new technology.  Instead of the traditional expensive and time-consuming method of riveting steel plates, workers would build the ships in modules and weld the pieces together.  This had never been tried before in ocean-going ships.

The Liberty Ships were not expected to hold up for more than a few years, but the speed of construction and efficiency were deemed to be worth it.  The Allies needed supply ships right away and these would fit the bill.

--GreGen

Friday, March 16, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 2: Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co.


From Colonial times through the Civil War and during World War I, the Great War, the Cape Fear River had been the site of shipyards and construction.  Bit no new ship had been built there since 1918.

Now, the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company set up shop on the east bank of the Cape Fear River.  It is a subsidiary of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company.  Wilmington had won a battle with Morehead City, N.C., to get the company.

The Newport News Shipbuilding Company is renowned for its craftsmanship and the teamwork of its shipwrights, but it is notoriously anti-union and right away ran into trouble from the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).  The company's president, Homer Lenoir Ferguson, was the son of a Confederate veteran and has a fierce work ethic and an abiding respect for those who work with their hands -- including Blacks.  He routinely hired black workers for skilled positions such as machinist, riveters, engineers and welders.

He becomes the head of the company when his predecessor, A.L. Hopkins, died when the Lusitania was torpedoed in the Great War.  Ferguson is 68 years old, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who studied naval architecture in Glasgow, Scotland -- the nation that produced revolutionary fast blockade runners used by the Confederacy during the Civil War.  Many of them came to Wilmington.

--GreGen

Thursday, March 15, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 1: No Peace On Earth in 1940-41


From the January 2018, Our State Magazine  "The Liberty Armada" by Philip Gerard.  Part of the magazine's "1940s The Decade of Transformation" series.

This is the story of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company of Wilmington, N.C..

When America went to war in 1941, the Navy turned to Wilmington to provide ships.  The city's response helped secure victory for the Allies and left a lasting mark on the North Carolina Coast.The Whiteville News Reporter on Jan. 1 headlines read "New Year's Greetings --  Peace on Earth 1940."  Later, it headlined, "National Defense Expansion Urged By The President."

In November 1941, the Wilmington Morning Star reported:  "U.S. Warship Torpedoed While On Convoy Patrol in the North Atlantic."   It went on to say that 77 men of the USS Reuben James, including seven officers, remained missing and were feared dead.  The ship's skipper, Lt. Cmdr. H.L. Edwards, had married a Wilmington, N.C., girl just six years earlier.  I have been writing a lot about this ship in this blog and will continue to do so.

Later, that same month, the tanker SS Salinas was torpedoed by a U-boat.

War Is On its Way to North Carolina.  --GreGen


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive-- Part 2: Ray Henders


Ray Henders of Fox Lake, Illinois, was just 17 when he enlisted in the Navy.  he was also part of a barbershop quartet that entertained U.S. soldiers overseas during the Vietnam War, which led him to a singing part in the John Hughes movie :Baby's Day Out."

He said that many Americans lost family members in the war, but was a time when they would stand up for what they believed in

--GreGen

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive-- Part 1: Biggest Event in the Country


From the August 14, 2017, Northwest Herald (McHenry County, Illinois)  "Hundreds commemorate end of WW II with veterans event" by Katie Finlon.

Hundreds were in attendance at the 8th annual "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive" event Sunday at Veterans Park in McHenry, Illinois.

More than a dozen of the Greatest Generation attended the event.  Ronnie Reber, past commander of the McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars said the event here in McHenry draws more people than all the other "Spirit of '45" events in the country.

His group, the Polish Legion of American Veterans and the American Legion host the event.

--GreGen

A Growing Rubber Shortage Hits Home in DeKalb County


From the May 27, 2017, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"A new list of approved tire sales was issued today by H.H. Pearce of the Sycamore rationing zone.  Along with the list he emphasized that his latest instructions are to the effect that greater care must be taken from ow on in issuing approvals.

"The rubber shortage as compared with the growing needs of the army, the problems yet to be ironed out in the making of synthetic rubber, and other kinds in the proceedings have brought forth a glaring need of restricting tire sales."

--GreGen

Monday, March 12, 2018

Keeping Track of Congressional "X" Gas Rationing Cards


From the July 12, 2017, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

**  "The drive for  the United Service Organization in Pierce Township nearly doubled its quota."

**  "Two hundred and fifty-eight Congressmen, 212 representatives and 48 senators, received unlimited "X" gasoline rationing cards, an examination of rationing board files here disclosed today.

"Of the representatives who got unlimited gasoline rations, 113 were Democrat, 98 Republicans and one Progressive, out of a total House membership of 435.  In the Senate, 32 Democrats, thirteen Republicans and one Progressive received "X" cards.  The Senate has a membership of 96."

Was It a Party Thing?  --GreGen

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Copper and Communication


MARCH 28, 2017--  HOT LUNCH 1942  --  November 1941, Garfield, Utah.  "Loading a copper converter at the Garfield smelter of the American Smelting and Refining Company."  By Anfreas Feininger, OWI.

MARCH 30, 2017--  A SERIES OF TUBES, 1943--  June 1943  Washington, D.C.  "Miss Helen Ringwald, employed by the Western Union telegraph office, works with the pneumatic tubes through which messages are sent to branches in other parts of the city for delivery."  Esther Bibley, OWI.

It takes a lot to win a war.

--GreGen

Wreckage of USS Lexington Found-- Part 3: In Remarkable Condition


The wreck was found and investigated by an underwater drone.  Videos taken of the "Lady Lex" shows anti-aircraft guns and some of its 35 aircraft, including Douglas TBD Devastator Torpedo bombers and Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters.

The vessel and aircraft appear to be in remarkably good condition considering how many years it has been sunk.

One aircraft has a cartoon Felix the Cat emblem and four small Japanese flag decals, indicating kills.The Battle of the Coral Sea helped save Australia from a full-scale Japanese invasion.

Paul Allen has also found the wrecks of the  HMS Hood and Japanese super battleship Musashi along with the American destroyer USS Ward, the first ship to make contact with a Japanese mini submarine at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941.

--GreGen

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Wreckage of the USS Lexington Found-- Part 2: 216 Died


The USS Lexington was intentionally sunk by the Americans after being hit with two bombs and two torpedoes in the four-day battle.  Casualties on the Lexington were 216 killed, who went down with the ship.  Another 2,735 were evacuated.

It was sunk to prevent capture by the Japanese and is considered a war grave so won't be raised.

--BreGen

Friday, March 9, 2018

Wreckage of the USS Lexington Found-- Part 1: 1.7 Miles Deep


From the March 6, 2018, Telegram (U.K.)  "Wreckage found of World War Two aircraft carrier USS Lexington after 76 years."

It was found in deep water some 500 miles off Australia's northeast coast.

The "Lady Lex" as it was called, was one of America's first aircraft carriers and was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.

It was found 1.7 miles deep in the Coral Sea after a six-month long search by Paul Allen, a billionaire who co-founded Microsoft.

The Battle of the Coral Sea was the first-ever battle involving aircraft carriers on both sides.

--Cooter


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Removing the Old Street Car Line Rails in DeKalb for the War Effort


From the April 12, 2017, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"City workers were experimenting this morning at tenth and Pleasant Streets in DeKalb in determining the advisability of removing the rails on North Tenth Street.

"There are several hundred feet of track remaining from the old DeKalb-Sycamore street car line and these may be removed in the near future.  The government is in great need at the present time of steel and the city can sell the rails to help defray the expense of taking up the track and making the necessary street repairs."

--GreGen

Military On the Move Through Sycamore in 1942


From the April 26, 2017, MidWeek, "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Downtown people in Sycamore were given another mild taste of war time activity.  For hours, troops and guns rumbled through the city.  They were bound for spring training areas.

"Censorship chiefs have asked that details regarding such movement be not mentioned in such detail as to tell the destination, regiments and numbers and similar data.  Suffice to say here that the movement smacked of continued preparation for the days to come when the battle will become heavier and more realistic for Americans."

--GreGen

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Nehring Electrical Works Expands With War Priorities


From the April 26, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Being cramped for room in the present quarters, the east mill of the Nehring Electrical Works will be extended to within about ten feet of Tenth Street,

"The Nehring plant has been designated as a war defense plant and will be given priorities so that the steel and other vita materials can be received for the new addition."

--GreGen

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

USS Bayfield (APA-33)-- Part 3: Service in WW II, Korean War and Vietnam War

 Continued from May 19, 2017.

The Bayfield then went to the Pacific and was at the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

With the end of the war, the Bayfield participated in "Operation Magic Carpet" to return veterans to the States.  It was at the atomic testing for "Operation Crossroads " at Bikini Atoll, but not one of the target ships.  It was stationed 22 miles from the detonation.

From 1946, the Bayfield was in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.  It was also active in the Korean War.

In 1954 it carried refugees from the partition of Vietnam.and was still in service during the Vietnam War until 1968.

Click on the USS Bayfield label to see the other entries on this interesting ship.

Quite a Remarkable Ship.  --GreGen

Monday, March 5, 2018

Two Brothers Did Not Survive the Sinking of the USS Reuben James


I was reading an account of the ship's sinking and it mentioned that two brothers had survived and two brothers had died.  I already knew about Charlie and Parmie Appleton surviving (see last post), but didn't know the names of the two brothers who died.  Looking through the list of deaths, I only came across two crew members with the same last name.

They were GENE GUY EVANS AND LINN STEWART EVANS.

Gene Evans, Boilerman (maker) 2c, USN  # 268-35-16

Linn Stewart Evans, Fire Controlman 3c,  USN  #265-93-57.

I couldn't find anymore information on them.

Did You Have a Friend on the Good Reuben James?  --GreGen


Two Brothers Survived the Sinking of the USS Reuben James


From ibiblio.org.

APPLETON, CHRLIE EDWARD, JR. Fireman 2c, USN  #295-89-55  (Probably Charlie)

APPLERON, PARMIE GLENDON, Fireman 2c, USN  #295-89-56

Both listed as enlisting in Nashville, Tennessee.  Home address R.F.D. #2  Sardis, Mississippi.

Next of kin, Father, Mr. Charlie Edward Appleton,  R.F.D. #2, Sardis, Mississippi.

When word of the Reuben James' sinking got out, this had to have been a real hard time at the Appleton home.

One of their sisters died and the obituary said that there were 15 children in the family.

I found that Parmie Glendon Appleton was born 17 September 1921 and died 13 September 1987.  I did not find any information on his brother.

Good For Them.  --GreGen


Saturday, March 3, 2018

"The Mighty Eighth"-- Part 3: Goes to Philippines and Fights in Korean War


Returning to the United States, Bud had a well-deserved furlough with his family and friends.  After making many personal appearances at parades and bond drives, he was shipped to the Philippines.  While based in Mangaldan, Luzon, he was credited with shooting down a Japanese bomber.  He ended the war with 21 confirmed victories.

Later, during the Korean War, while flying an F-86 Sabre Jet, Bud was shot down by a North Korean surface-to-air missile and was held captive and in solitary confinement for 18 months.

Upon prisoner exchange, he was finally released and returned to the U.S. where he served a distinguished career with the Air Force.

--GreGen

"The Mighty Eighth"-- Part 2: Becomes Top Ace, Shot Down, Escapes


On March 8, 1944, Captain Walker "Bud" Mahurin returned to his base at Halesworth, England, with news that he had added three more victories to his tally, now 20 enemy aircraft shot down, to become the top scoring American pilot in the European Theater of operations.  Just days later, his P-47 was heavily damaged by a German Do-217 he helped shoot down, forcing him to bail out.

He was rescued by members of the French resistance and, after weeks of evasion from capture, with the help of the French Underground, he was flown back to England.

When he again reported for duty with the 56th Fighter Group, he was told that because he now knew the escape routes and personnel of the resistance, if he was shot down again and captured, after interrogation and torture, the Germans might obtain valuable information; therefore he could no longer fly in the European Theater.

--GreGen

Friday, March 2, 2018

"The Mighty Eighth:-- Part 1: Col. Mahurin Shot Down Enemy Planes in Both Theaters of War As Well as the Korean War


From the Paralyzed Veterans of America 2018 Calendar for March "Return to Halesworth."

Picture shows a pilot shaking hands with another airman on the ground as he is getting ready to take his fighter plane up or land it.

Born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Col. Walker "Bud" Mahurin (Dec. 5, 1918 -  May 11, 2010) was the only U.S. Army Air Force pilot who is credited with shooting down enemy planes in both the European and Pacific theaters and later, the Korean conflict.

--GreGen

Claborn Begley, a Follow Up


I was wondering whether Claborn Begley survived the war.  One source I found for US Navy deaths in World War II didn't list him, so I have to figure he did.

The Tin Can Sailors entry has a list of the Reuben James' crew at the destroyers.com site.

Behind his name is a comment:  "My Grandpa was a Hero.  Why isn't he mentioned anywhere?"

--GreGen

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Claborn Begley Survived the Sinking of the Reuben James


From ibiblio.org  Casualties USS Reuben James.  This is a list of both survivors and those who died.

I took a look at the list of survivors and picked three men to write about.

SURVIVOR

Claborn Begley, Machinist Mate, 2c, USN  #310-79-18 (Rescued, Slightly Injured)

Re-enlisted Nov. 5, 1938, aboard the USS Oklahoma.

Home address:  #123 East 89th St., Los Angeles, Calif.

Next of Kin:  Wife Grace Begley, c/o Mrs. Gertrude Lawrence, 806 East 76th Street, Los Angeles, Calif.

I wonder what Mr. Begley was thinking five weeks later when he learned what happened to his old ship, the USS Oklahoma, at Pearl Harbor?

One of the Survivors.  --GreGen

USS Reuben James-- Part 2: Sunk By the U-582 Oct. 31, 1941


When World War II broke out in Europe, the Reuben James was assigned to the U.S. Neutrality Patrol and guarded the Atlantic and Caribbean approaches to the United States.  In March 1941, the ship joined the force guarding convoys to Britain and was based in Iceland.

On 23 October 1941, the Reuben James sailed with four other destroyers to protect Convoy HX 156.  At daybreak 31 October the ship was torpedoed by U-582 after having positioned itself between an ammunition ship in the convoy and a known German "Wolfpack" known to be lurking in the local area.

The torpedo struck forward and blew the bow off which sank immediately.  The aft section floated another five minutes before also sinking.  Of a crew of 7 officers, 136 enlisted and 1 enlisted passenger, 100 were killed.  Only 44 men survived.  No officers survived.

Woody Guthrie wrote and performed the song "The Sinking of the Reuben James."

--GreGen


USS Reuben James-- Part 1: Four Funnel Clemson-Class Destroyer


From Wikipedia.

Last week, I wrote about William Harding Newton of Roanoke, Virginia, who had been on the destroyer USS Reuben James when it was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat on October 31, 1941, five weeks before Pearl Harbor.

Was a post World War I four funnel Clemson-class destroyer named for Boatswain's Mate Reuben James (1776-1838) who distinguished himself in the Barbary Wars.  Build in Camden, New Jersey, commissioned 24 September 1920.  314.5 inches long and bean of 31.8 feet.

Assigned to Atlantic Fleet and did duty in the Mediterranean Sea 1921-1922.  Was involved with the cruiser USS Olympia in the return of the Unknown Soldier from Europe.  Based in New York City for awhile.

--GreGen