Saturday, February 18, 2017

O, Canada! Specifically, Newfies

WED 18 FEB 1942
Destroyer Truxtun (DD-229) and stores issuing ship Pollux (AKS-2) run aground during storm near Placentia Bay, Newfoundland; the former just east of Ferryland Point and the latter off Lawn Point. Minesweeper Brant (AM-24) arrives on scene and contributes rescue parties as well as brings medical officer and corpsmen from destroyer tender and Support Force flagship Prairie (AD-15). The tragedy produces deep admiration for the lifesaving efforts of the local population. "Hardly a dozen men from both ships would have been saved," one observer writes later, "had it not been for the superb work of the local residents." Many men jeopardize their own lives frequently to save the American sailors; several hang by lines over the cliffs to keep survivors from dragging over sharp rocks as they are pulled up from the beach below; others go out in a dory, risking swamping several times in the rough waves; after working all day rescuing Truxtun's people, some of the local inhabitants then toil all night rescuing Pollux's men with a stamina that defies description. Though poor, the men, women, and children of the town of St. Lawrence turn out to outfit the "survivors with blankets, warm clothes, boots, fed them, cleaned them up as best they could and turned them in their own beds." Subsequently, they turn a deaf ear to offers to pay for food and clothing used in succoring the shipwrecked Americans. Destroyer Wilkes (DD-441) also runs aground off Lawn Head, 46°53'N, 55°28'W, but manages to free herself from her predicament and escape the fates of Truxtun and Pollux.

Brazilian tanker Olinda is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-432 at 37°30'N, 75°00'W (see 19 February).

U.S. freighter Mokihana is torpedoed by German submarine U-161 while lying at anchor at Port of Spain, Trinidad, 12°55'N, 80°33'E; there are no casualties among the 36-man merchant crew or 9-man Armed Guard.

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