Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Biding Time on the 382

During my last interview with my uncle Pat, I had asked him what happened after his ship was hit by the buzz bomb while docked in Deptford.  It was the last question of the phone interview and he was tiring.  I could tell it over the phone.  He simply stated that the crew went to a rest camp while the ship's officers were separated from the crew and each other, having been reassigned to other ships.
Pat asked me if I would write down any further queries and he'd be happy to answer them in time via Email.  Pat never answered those final questions because his health went into a spiraled decline until his death.  Having been a bachelor all his life, with no child of his own, it meant a great deal to him that I had taken interest in his service and doing my best to document as much as possible.  There just came a time when I knew it was time to take my hand off the project and just write him letters without all the questions.

After his death, I received his keepsakes that consisted mostly of letters written during the war to family home, and letters written long after the war to fellow crew members of the 312.  I went through a ton of letters while organizing and compiling the manuscript 'Sentimental Journey of USS LST-312'. There are letters from his old locker that I have yet to have read.  The most interesting ones are the letters starting with 'Somewhere in England', wartime letters home to Mother and Papa from aboard the 312.

It was in these letters where I found Pat reassigned to a different ship, the USS LST-382, after the Deptford incident.  Within the pages of these letters, it is easy to tell that he didn't like being apart from his ship, the 312, and his shipmates. He wondered if he'd ever make it back to rejoin his crew, when and if the superstructure would be repaired - and sent back into service.  I remember asking Pat in that last inquiry letter what LST he had been reassigned to - but he only replied that the information was somewhere in his records.  Well, today I found that piece of data.

Pat was eventually reunited with his friends and his ship. He couldn't have been aboard the 382 for long, because the 382 was decommissioned by the USN within a month, November 29, 1944 - and handed over to the Royal Navy. A letter to his parents on October 15, 1944 informed them that he could be reached aboard the USS LST-382.

I had many questions for Pat that were left unanswered.  Many answers I found after receiving his old footlocker, but even in finding answers, I have discovered more questions.
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