Wednesday, June 08, 2011

D-Day Plus 2

On June 8, 1944, American, British, and Canadian forces pushed their way through the bocage and stiff German resistance on the five invasion beaches of Normandie France. Objectives like Caen proved elusive to the Allies. Pont du Hoc and St. Mere Eglise were the few bright spots in a bloody campaign.

At sea was another lesser known struggle for the Allies. The Luftwaffe might be missing, but there were other threats. The most dangerous threat being mines. On June 8, 1944 the US Navy Bristol class destroyer USS Glennon [DD-620] struck a mine in the Baie de la Seine and began to settle at the stern. USS Glennon was also struck by German shore batteries and went down. Twenty-five of her crew were killed.

Glennon did not sink alone that day off the French shore. The Buckley class destroyer-escort USS Rich [DD-695] moved in to render aid to the stricken destroyer. As a towline was being passed between both ships, a mine detonated 50 yards to starboard. No damage was observed aboard the destroyer-escort and rescue operations proceeded. Then two minutes later a mine detonated and blew the stern off of Rich. USS Rich's fate was sealed when another mine detonated amidship. In less than ten minutes USS Rich had been transformed from a warship to a wreck. 89 of her crew died due to these explosions.

Survivors of both warships were rescued or picked up by PT boats of MTB Sqn 34. Two sailors, from PT-504 and PT-506, were picked by a Coast Guard vessel after USS Rich had sunk. Paul Cayer, S1C, from PT-506 was cited with saving nine men with his aid. Two survivors were rescued from blown off stern of USS Rich by PT-508. Also assisting in the rescue was a Royal Navy ML.

Tin Cans, Theodore Roscoe, Bantam Books New York City New York, February 1960. 438 pages.
At Close Quarters - PT Boats in the United States Navy, Robert J. Buckley Jr, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis Maryland, 2003. 574 pages.


Legion said...

Excellent post (as usual). Few learn what continued to happen on the sea after the invasion. I'll check out your references.

Anna said...

Hopefully I did not mangle things.