Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dread In The Caribbean

MON 15 JUN 1942
Submarine Seawolf (SS-197) sinks Japanese gunboat Nampo Maru off Corregidor, 14°00'N, 120°00'E.

Operation HARPOON: convoy WS 19Z (Force X) is attacked by Italian light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia and Raimondo Montecuccoli and five destroyers. In this surface action, British destroyer HMS Bedouin is sunk and HMS Partridge damaged, but the screen for WS 19Z proves impenetrable and the Italians retire. At the same time, however, German JU 87s dive-bomb the convoy, damaging tanker Kentucky (she is later scuttled). U.S. freighter Chant suffers two direct hits, catches fire, and is abandoned, 36°25'N, 11°40'E; Ensign Regis J. Schaefer, USNR, Armed Guard officer, remains on board to supervise the abandonment of the ship, and is among the last men over the side. British minesweeper HMS Rye rescues Chant's survivors: 49 of the 52-man merchant complement, 10 of 11 Armed Guards, and 25 British Navy and Army sailors and soldiers embarked to man the antiaircraft battery. In related operations this day, a mixed formation of seven USAAF B-24s (Halverson Detachment) and 2 RAF Liberators, together with RAF Beauforts, attack Italian fleet; one USAAF B-24 scores a hit on Italian battleship Littorio (see 16 June).

Destroyer Borie (DD-215) rescues nine survivors (including the sole Armed Guard sailor to emerge from the ordeal) from U.S. freighter Merrimack at 20°48'N, 85°30'W, that had been sunk on 9 June by U-107. Earlier that same day, merchant ship Argentina had rescued the only other man to survive Merrimack's loss.

Salvage tug Relief finds tanker F.W. Abrams, mined off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on 11 June, beyond salvage. The wreck is scuttled with demolition charges.

U.S. tanker Cherokee, in convoy XB 25, is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-87 approximately 50 miles east of Boston, Massachusetts, 42°11'N, 69°25'W; 65 of the 103-man crew, as well as one of the 11-man Armed Guard and 20 of 46 passengers perish in the attack. Freighter Norlago rescues 44 survivors; Coast Guard cutter Escanaba (WPG-77) 39 more.

U.S. tanker Robert C. Tuttle,, in convoy KN 109, strikes mine laid by German submarine U-701 off Virginia Beach, Virginia, 36°51'20"N, 75°51'15"W; one merchant seaman is blown overboard and lost. Survivors (40-man merchant complement, a 6-man Armed Guard and a Navy signalman) take to lifeboats which are taken in tow by submarine chaser PC-474. U.S. tanker Esso Augusta, also in convoy KN 109, strikes mine laid by German submarine U-701, a half mile south of the Chesapeake Bay entrance lighted whistle buoy, 36°52'N, 75°51'30"W; she suffers no casualties among the 44-man merchant complement or the 13-man Armed Guard. Esso Augusta ultimately returns to service.

U.S. freighter Tillie Lykes is torpedoed (most likely) by German submarine U-502 approximately 150 miles east-southeast of Punta Herrero, Mexico, 19°00'N, 85°00'W; there are no survivors from the 29-man merchant crew and four-man Armed Guard.

Gunboat Erie (PG-50), off St. Andrews Island, rescues master and 22 survivors of U.S. bulk carrier Lebore, which had been sunk by German submarine U-172 the day before. Erie embarks the merchant sailors at 12°39'N, 81°20'W, and then sinks their lifeboat with gunfire as a menace to navigation.

U.S. freighter Kahuku rescues 46 survivors (35 merchant seamen and the 11-man Armed Guard) from freighter Scottsburg, torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-161 the day before, and 17 from Panamanian steamer Cold Harbor, torpedoed and sunk by U-502 the day before. Later that same day, however, Kahuku is torpedoed by U-126 at 11°54'N, 63°07'W (see 16 June).

U.S. freighter West Hardaway is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-502 northwest of Trinidad, 11°50'N, 62°15'W, and is abandoned by all hands without loss (see 17 June).

Unarmed U.S. freighter Arkansan is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-126 west of Grenada, 12°07'N, 62°51'W; four of the ship's 40-man complement are lost (see 16 June).

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