Saturday, April 19, 2008

dead man walking

On the day after the German robot bomb struck our LST and others moored alongside it at the Deptford dock, Dick Braman and I returned - in absolute shock - to see the superstructures of the two outboard LSTs as a mass of twisted and mutilated steel, hardly recognizable to either of us. I don't, at my present age (87), recall where Braman's stateroom was, but mine was the rear stateroom for officers on the port side of the ship. I shared it with the ship's first lieutenant (Lt. j.g.) Bill McRae. Officers' quarters had been on both starboard and port sides of these vessels, but what had happened in our overnight liberty period was simply startling and unbelievable.

Some of our ship's crew were still alive, but their dazed expressions said a lot to us. One or two of them looked at me, and said to me ". You've beem reported as dead." We were all standing aboard the main deck just forward of what was once the superstructure (that part constructed above the main deck that included the officers quarters, wardroom (dining area for captain and officers), galley (officers kitchen),a yeoman's stateroom (office), head (toilet for officres). The commanding officers and executive officers of LSTs, of course, had separate staterooms from the other officer personnel. Above these living quarters, etc. were the operational portions of these ships (the wheelhouse for the helmsman), radiomen in "radio shacks", navigational operations rooms. Further topside (or above) this level was a rather large deck for the quartermasters and signalmen, and an enclosed conning tower for the captain or the duty officer of the
deck. (I surely trust that my memory has served me right since my release from active duty back in March, 1950). Below the superstructure of the damaged ships were the crews' quarters where separate galley facilities and living accommodartions for up to 125 to 130 enlisted personnel were located.

David, I did not get to see the damage to this area before our captain (Lt. Charles Haslup) directed me to go to the flotilla communications message center at Deptford and stop the death message before it reached my parents in Cheraw, SC. (More later from this point)

-Pat

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