Thursday, March 1, 2018

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."


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