The List 4822
Back home and trying to send out those that are backed up
Hope that your week has been going well.
This day in Naval History
1860—A landing party of Marines are put ashore at Panama from the sloop-of-war, USS St. Mary's, during an insurrection. The Marines capture the railroad station in an attempt to establish order.
1863—During the Civil War, the steamer USS Clyde seizes the Confederate schooner Amaranth near the Florida Keys.
1941—SS Patrick Henry, the first U.S. Liberty ship, is launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at Baltimore, MD. Numerous other vessels are launched on that day, known as "Liberty Fleet Day."
1942—The freighter, SS Stephen Hopkins, engages the German auxiliary cruiser, Stier, and supply ship, Tannenfels, in a surface gunnery action in the central South Atlantic. Stier sinks SS Stephen Hopkins but the German raider sinks after having receiving heavy damage by SS Stephen Hopkins' naval armed guard, Lt. j.g. Kenneth M. Willett. For his actions, Willett posthumously receives the Navy Cross.
1942—While leading a group of landing craft during the Guadalcanal Campaign, Signalman 1st Class Douglas A. Munro, USCG, participates in the evacuation of the First Battalion, Seventh Marines from Matanikau River, Guadalcanal. Using his boat as a shield between the Japanese and the Marines, he enables the operation to proceed successfully, but is killed by enemy gunfire. For his "extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry", Munro is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1955—A P2V-5 Neptune patrol plane of Early Warning Squadron 4 is lost with nine crew members and two journalists while tracking Hurricane Janet over the Caribbean Sea.
1986—USS Chicago (SSN 721) is commissioned at Norfolk, VA. The Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to be named after the Windy City of Illinois, and is ideally suited for covert surveillance, intelligence gathering and special forces missions.
Thanks to CHINFO
National news headlines are dominated with the Senate hearing scheduled for today for SCOTUS nominee Kavanaugh and the search of a missing boy with Autism in North Carolina. Assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James F. "Hondo" Geurts told reporters that the Navy is moving towards block bidding of ship maintenance reports Seapower Magazine. "We've got a real challenge and opportunity ahead on how we operate [the Navy's] repair enterprise at speed," said Geurts. The Wall Street Journal reports that the House passed an approbations bill on Wednesday that increases military spending and that will keep the government open through Dec. 7, averting a potential shutdown. Additionally, Navy Times reports that sailors that go 12 consecutive months not qualified for sea duty will be reviewed for involuntary separation.
Today in History September 27
The Society of Jesus, a religious order under Ignatius Loyola, is approved by the Pope.
The island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea falls to the Ottoman Turks after a 21-year siege.
Jews in France are granted French citizenship.
Wild Bill Hickok, sheriff of Hays City, Kan., shoots down Samuel Strawhim, a drunken teamster causing trouble.
Constance of Greece declares war on Bulgaria.
Eight Chicago White Sox players are charged with fixing the 1919 World Series.
Germany occupies Warsaw as Poland falls to Germany and the Soviet Union.
Australian forces defeat the Japanese on New Guinea in the South Pacific.
Thousands of British troops are killed as German forces rebuff their massive effort to capture the Arnhem Bridge across the Rhine River in Holland.
U.S. Army and Marine troops liberate Seoul, South Korea.
The U.S. Air Force Bell X-2, the world's fastest and highest-flying plane, crashes, killing the test pilot.
The Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, issues its report, stating its conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole gunman.
US Congress approves Department of Education as the 13th agency in the US Cabinet.
Sukhumi massacre: Abkhaz separatist forces and their allies commit widespread atrocities against the civilian population in the USSR state of Georgia.
The Taliban capture Afghanistan's capital city, Kabul.
European Space Agency launches SMART-1 satellite to orbit the moon.
NASA launches Dawn probe to explore and study the two larges objects of the asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres.
Zhai Zhigang becomes the first Chinese to walk in space; he was part of the Shenzhou 7 crew.
Thought this should be high lighted again!!!Not nice and if your squeemish you probavly shouldn't read it!!!
The death of communist tyrant Fidel Castro has yielded much-deserved coverage of the monstrous nature of his tyrannical rule. What has gone virtually unreported, however, is the direct and instrumental role Castro played in the torture and murder of American POWs in Vietnam during the Vietnam War ...
H-Gram 021, Attachment 2
Samuel J. Cox, Director NHHC
Samuel J. Cox, Director NHHC
Operation Husky: The Invasion of Sicily, 10 July 1943
The hastily planned Allied invasion of mainland Italy at Salerno (Operation Avalanche) commencing on 9 September 1943 nearly ended in disaster. The effects of naval gunfire support were a significant factor, if not the major factor, in preventing the Germans from defeating the landings (actually, bad decisions by Adolf Hitler in holding back resources from the overall German commander in southern Italy, Field Marshal Kesselring, were probably the primary factor). The Allied plan relied heavily on surprise, which the U.S. naval commander, Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, argued would not be achieved. Hewitt reasoned that because Salerno was the closest beach near the key port of Naples that was still within range of land-based Allied fighter cover, the Germans would have no problem predicting where the landings would come. As it turned out, Kesselring was unwittingly in complete agreement with Hewitt's analysis. The Allies would find the sea approaches to Salerno heavily mined, and a crack Panzer division itching for a fight on the beach (and more divisions in support, although not enough as it turned out). In order to preserve the (non-existent) element of surprise, the senior Allied ground commanders decided on a night landing, with no pre-landing naval bombardment, over the objection of Admiral Hewitt. Instead of meeting Italian troops eager to surrender, the initial wave of Allied troops was met by German loudspeakers inviting the Allied troops to come in and surrender, because the Germans had them covered. The Allies came in anyway, but not to surrender, and a brutal and bloody fight commenced.
In my previous H-gram (H-020), I ran out of gas in discussion of the Allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky), so I will backtrack some because Husky is important to the understanding of Avalanche. Although the purpose of H-grams is to focus on U.S. naval operations, a little bit of the development of Allied strategy in the European Theater is necessary. After the success of the Operation Torch landings in Morocco and Algeria in November 1942, and the British victory over Rommel's Afrika-Korps at the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt—also in November 1942—the Allies quickly forced the Germans back into Tunisia, and, with a few setbacks (Battle of Kasserine Pass), defeated German forces in North Africa, in large part because Allied control of the sea lanes (although contested) strangled the Germans of supplies.
As it became apparent that the Germans in North Africa would be defeated by mid-1943, the Allies had to decide what to do next. There was agreement between the U.S. and the British on the overall "defeat Germany first" grand strategy for the war, but after that things could become pretty contentious. Generally, "Allied" strategy meant the Americans and British agreeing on something, and everyone else (Free French, Free Poles, even the Russians) would be told about it later, to the frequent consternation of the French and the Russians. Although today there is the view that the U.S.-British alliance during World War II was one of the most successful and harmonious in history, only the successful part is completely true. Many of the high-level strategy meetings between the U.S. and British senior military leaders were knock-down, drag-out food fights.
To grossly oversimplify the differing viewpoints, the British were convinced that the Americans were fixated on diving headlong into a bloodbath in northern France à la World War I before the Allies were really ready. The American view was that the British (still shell-shocked by their Great War experience) just wanted to beat around the bush in places like Italy and Greece, and that ideas by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to invade places like the Dodecanese Islands (huh? where?) were a waste of time and resources that would be better spent going right at the Germans. Nevertheless, the British absolutely refused to budge on invading northern France any earlier than 1944—if that—but were willing to make landings in the Mediterranean. Neither CNO Admiral Ernest J. King nor U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall had ever been keen on landing in North Africa to begin with, but since the Army was there, they might as well do something with it, and the plan for the invasion of Sicily was the result.
(Back to H-Gram 021 summary)
Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr. holds the Seventh Army command flag he has just received from Vice Admiral H. K. Hewitt (left), U.S. Eighth Fleet commander, on board USS Monrovia (APA-31), en route to Sicily, circa 7 July 1943 (NH-96739).
There was extensive discussion amongst the U.S. and British military leadership as to where in the Mediterranean the Allies should invade next, such as Sicily, Sardinia, Crete, direct to the Italian mainland, Corfu, the Balkans (or the Dodecanese Islands). For a variety of reasons, Sicily was actually the obvious choice—the shortest distance from North Africa, air cover, etc. The fact that it was the obvious choice was the problem, which resulted in one the most extensive operational deception campaigns in military history, to include dropping a dead body with a fake identity and fake war plans off the coast of Spain from a submarine, with the intent that the neutral but Hitler-friendly government of dictator Francisco Franco would turn the plans (for the invasion of Sardinia and Greece) over to the Germans (Operation Mincemeat, also known as The Man Who Never Was in the movie). As it turned out, probably the only person really fooled by Mincemeat was Hitler himself, but that was sufficient. What really surprised the Italians and the Germans was how fast the Allies were able to marshal the required amphibious vessels, supplies, air cover, and troops to execute the attack. The Italians and Germans fully expected the attack on Sicily and were taking steps to counter it, but in many cases troop and aircraft reinforcements did not get there in time.
Between the landings in North Africa in November 1942 and the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, American shipyards were cranking out as a matter of top priority hundreds of new types of amphibious vessels, such as Landing Ship, Tank (LST) Landing Craft, Infantry (LCI) Landing Craft, Mechanized and Utility (LCM/LCU) Landing Ship Medium (LSM), and numerous variations. Although world-wide demand for these kinds of vessels still greatly exceeded supply, hundreds were provided to the landings in Sicily (while U.S. operations in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea were hamstrung by the lack of such specialized amphibious vessels).
The fleet that was assembled to invade Sicily was the largest in history to that point, and included over 3,200 ships, craft, and boats, divided into two major forces: the Eastern Naval Task Force, to land the British Eighth Army on the eastern coast of Sicily (south of Sigonella) and the Western Naval Task Force, to land the U.S. Seventh Army (under the command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton) on the southeastern end of the southern coast of Sicily. The Eastern Naval Task Force was predominately British Royal Navy and the Western Naval Task Force was predominately U.S. Navy, although ships of both nations (and other allies) served in both task forces. The Western Naval Task Force (about 1,700 ships, craft, and boats) was under the command of Vice Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt, USN.
Vice Admiral Hewitt's after-action report described the battle for Sicily thus: "The amphibious assaults were uniformly successful. The only serious threat was an enemy counter-attack on D plus one day against the 1st Infantry Division when a German tank force drove across the Gela plain to within 1,000 yards of the DIME beaches. The destruction of this armored force by naval gunfire delivered by U.S. cruisers and destroyers, and the recovery of the situation through naval support, was one of the most noteworthy events of the operations. The continued employment of naval gunfire against enemy positions on the north coast during the reduction of the island phase of the campaign, the unique employment of landing craft in providing a service of food, fuel and munitions to our front line troops on the north coast contributed to a marked degree to the rapid defeat of the enemy."
Vice Admiral Hewitt's report understates some of the challenges involved. The weather was bad enough that serious consideration was given to postponing the landings, which would increase the likelihood that the Italians and Germans would be able to reinforce their defenses. Hewitt took a great risk, and opted to proceed with the landings anyway, and got away with it. In many respects, the rough seas proved a much greater obstacle to conducting the landing than the enemy. However, the enemy was also caught by surprise, having assumed that no one would try to land in such adverse conditions. Because of the nature of the beachheads in the American sector (off-shore sand bars), the LSTs needed to use pontoon bridges to get their tanks and armored vehicles to the beach. Although the weather played serious havoc, the LSTs were eventually successful. Also, in an effort to ensure surprise, the largest amphibious assault in history was planned to be a night assault. Somewhat amazingly, the darkness was much less of an impediment than the sea state, and the initial landings in the dark were successful. The airborne drops that preceded the amphibious assault were much less successful as high winds scattered American paratroopers all over southeastern Sicily. It was worse in the British sector, where British gliders were cut loose too early by U.S. tow planes and crashed into the sea, killing 252 British troops and glider crews (some sources say 326 killed). Another effort to ensure surprise is that there was no pre-landing naval bombardment, which had been approved over Hewitt's objection. Since the Italians and Germans had been caught off-guard, lack of pre-landing bombardment didn't make much difference, although the consequences would be much more severe at the later Salerno landings.
However, the greatest weakness in the Sicily landings was that they depended on land-based air support, as there were no U.S. or British aircraft carriers to support the landing in the American sector. Both the U.S. Navy and Army would pay heavily. Hewitt's after-action report stated, "the weakest link in the joint planning of the U.S. Forces was the almost complete lack of participation by the Air Force….The Air Plan gave no specific information to the Naval and Military Commanders of what support might be expected during the assault, or what, when or where fighter cover would be provided….Thus the Naval and Military Commanders sailed for the assault with almost no knowledge of what the air force would do in the initial assault or thereafter." Following the Battle of Kasserine Pass in Tunisia in February 1943, the U.S. Army Air Force successfully argued that a contributing factor in the defeat of U.S. forces by the Germans was partly due to the misallocation of air assets, i.e., assigning specific fighter squadrons to support specific army divisions resulted in an inefficient and ineffective use of available air power. The Air Force was right, but then for the Sicily invasion the pendulum swung way too far in the other direction, with the Air Force acting as a completely independent force (still trying to prove that by strategic bombing they could win the war all by themselves).
At dawn on 10 July, the German (and some Italian) air attacks commenced. Although some German aircraft came in high, where they were detected by radar, others came ripping down the valleys in Sicily at low level, surprising, bombing, and strafing troops on the beach, landing craft at the beach, and ships off shore. Within the first couple of hours, three of the light cruiser USS Savannah's (CL-42) four observation/scout planes were shot down by German fighters. In one case, the radioman/observer was able to ditch the aircraft at sea successfully after the pilot had been killed in flight. By the second day, Savannah had lost all four of her planes.
The U.S. Navy suffered its most significant loss during Operation Husky on the first day of the invasion when German aircraft launched a counter-attack. The destroyer USS Maddox (DD-622) was located about 16 nautical miles off the coast, guarding the invasion force from submarine attack, when a lone German Ju-88 twin-engine bomber slipped through without being engaged by Allied fighters and attacked the ship (some accounts say the aircraft was a "Stuka" dive bomber or "Italian Stuka"). At least one, possibly two, 250-pound bombs were direct hits and the other one (or two) was a damaging near- miss. One of the bombs detonated in the after magazine, causing a massive explosion. The ship sank in less than two minutes with the loss of 210 of her crew, including the commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Eugene S. Sarsfield, who received a posthumous Navy Cross for his heroic actions in supervising the abandon-ship evolution, which was credited with saving 74 (nine officers and 65 enlisted personnel) of his crew at the cost of his own life. This was the largest loss of life on a U.S. Navy warship in the Atlantic/European Theater during World War II.
Maddox had previously been commended by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox for her actions when the destroyer USS Kearny (DD-432) was torpedoed and damaged by a German U-boat off Iceland during the undeclared war between the U.S. Navy and German submarine force in October 1941. Later, after war was declared, Maddox probably sank a German submarine while escorting a trans-Atlantic convoy. The Gearing-class destroyer DD-837 was named in honor of Sarsfield, but was completed too late to participate in World War II combat, although she did earn one battle star in Vietnam before being transferred to the Republic of China (Taiwan) as ROCS Te Yang in 1977. She is now a museum ship in Taiwan.
The Allen M. Sumner–class DD-731 would also be named Maddox and would survive a kamikaze hit off Okinawa in 1945. On 2 August 1964, she would engage and damage three North Vietnamese P-4 torpedo boats (with the assistance of strafing by U.S. Navy F-8 Crusader fighters), when she was attacked while conducting a DESOTO signals intelligence (SIGINT) patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam. Maddox and one of the F-8s suffered minor damage. Two days later, on 4 August 1964, Maddox and the destroyer USS Turner Joy (DD-951) engaged what were probably phantom radar contacts off the coast of Vietnam. The two events were frequently conflated into the "Gulf of Tonkin Incident," which led the U.S. Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon Johnson authority to greatly escalate the Vietnam War. There are still many who believe the Gulf of Tonkin Incident to have been a trumped-up (or even phony) event to justify greater U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The reality is that the first incident on 2 August was definitely real, and the second one, on 4 August, almost certainly not. Like the Sarsfield, Maddox would end her career serving in the Taiwanese navy before being scrapped.
Back to Sicily…
Allied aircraft first showed up 15 minutes after Maddox exploded and sank. By the end of the first day, and despite occasional Allied fighter cover, German aircraft sank the minesweeper USS Sentinel (AM-115) and damaged other ships. Sentinel put up an incredible fight during repeated air attacks, despite serious damage in the earliest attacks, hitting at least two German aircraft and driving off others before finally succumbing to additional bomb hits, her after 3-inch gun driving off a sixth attack even as the vessel was sinking. Other ships were damaged or suffered near-misses throughout the day.
Just before nightfall, a single German Bf-109 got through and struck LST-313, which was heavily loaded with fully fueled vehicles and ammunition. Most of those aboard were able to escape via the pontoon bridge before the LST was destroyed by the explosions. Heroic shiphandling by LST-311 saved about 40 men trapped on the stern of the flaming ship. The skipper of LST-311, Lieutenant Commander Robert L. Coleman, USNR, would be awarded the Navy Cross for his valor. Beach operations in the vicinity of LST-313 had to be halted due to a continuing shower of shrapnel from explosions aboard the ship.
On 11 July, German bombers hit the liberty ship SS Robert Rowan with over 400 troops and Navy crewmen on board, along with several thousand tons of ammunition, and set her on fire. The "abandon ship" order was immediately given, and nearby ships, at extraordinary risk, saved everyone on board before the ship blew up in one of the largest explosions ever recorded, showering the whole area with debris, and her smoldering wreck serving to aid follow-on night attacks by German aircraft.
Over the course of the campaign, LST-158, LST-318, an LCI and two LCT's would be lost to bombs. Other ships would be damaged by bombs, mines and shore fire. Ninety-two landing craft (LCVP) would be lost. The U.S. Navy would lose 546 (killed or missing) compared to the U.S. Army's 2,273 (killed or missing) in the Sicily campaign—mostly as a result of inadequate air cover.
Throughout the first several days, naval gunfire support from the light cruisers USS Boise (CL-47), USS Savannah (CL-42), and other destroyers proved exceptionally effective, until U.S. Army forces advanced out of range. In particular, the most determined German armored counterattack, on 11 July, which came dangerously close to getting through to the beachhead at Gela, was broken up primarily by gunfire from Savannah, which repelled several German attempts to re-group and re-attack, and destroyed or damaged many German tanks. Savannah's sick bay also served as a hospital to numerous U.S. Army wounded. Savannah's actions earned her the nickname the "[U.S. Army] Rangers' favorite ship." Although U.S. ships had shelled Japanese positions on islands in the Pacific, this was the first time U.S. Navy warships conducted direct fire support in an actual land battle, using coordination procedures that had been carefully rehearsed between the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army in preparation for the landing; there was nothing ad hoc about it.
Those who have seen the movie Patton will recall Patton being irate that British General Sir Bernard Montgomery had been given the "easy" route up the east coast of Sicily toward Messina, while U.S. troops had to slog through the mountains guarding Montgomery's western flank. Patton then got frustrated and led his forces on a much longer "end around" via the western and northern coast of Sicily, and still got to Messina faster than Montgomery. It was basically true, although the scene of Monty triumphantly entering Messina only to find Patton and the band already waiting for him was "Hollywood." Patton's "end around" was significantly aided by a series of smaller amphibious operations, naval gunfire support, and timely supply of Patton's rapidly advancing force by U.S. Navy landing craft.
Although the landings on Sicily were successful, they were marred by what is considered by many to be the worst "friendly fire" incident in U.S. military history—although several sinkings of Japanese "hell ships" full of Allied POWs by U.S. and Allied submarines may also claim that dubious distinction. On the night of 11 July, U.S. Navy ships and U.S. Army shore batteries downed 23 of 144 U.S. C-47/C-53 transport aircraft and damaged 37 more; 81 U.S. paratroopers were killed, including Brigadier General Charles Keerans, and 60 aircrew. In addition, 200 more were wounded. These numbers vary significantly from source to source—23 aircraft shot down and 318 killed or wounded appear to be the most reliable numbers. Vice Admiral Hewitt's after-action report includes Lesson Learned No. 42, "Air plans involving the transport of paratroopers should be submitted to the Naval Commander for approval," which somewhat blandly masked the scope of tragedy. Morison's account describes a scene where visibility was limited by the pall of smoke from the still-burning SS Robert Rowan, whose flames were used as a beacon by two heavy German air raids between 2150 and 2300 that night, when the flight of transport planes flew in at low altitude (400–700 feet, depending on the account) at the same time German dive bombers were attacking U.S. ships offshore.
Samuel Eliot Morison's account states that Army batteries ashore opened fire first and the transport aircraft came out over water to avoid them, whereupon U.S. ships opened fire; not all accounts agree as to who fired first. But the result was a horror of sitting-duck transport planes being shot out of the sky by intense anti-aircraft fire from both ship and shore, with many aircraft crashing in the sea. General Patton was reportedly aghast watching the carnage, while the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, Major General Matthew Ridgway, who came by ship, was in tears, having previously deemed the drop to be unnecessary, but having been unable to communicate a cancellation in time. Hewitt's after-action report states, "This failure by the Air Force to correlate plans, and acquire the timely concurrence of the other services in order that information could be disseminated to all forces contributed to a regrettable incident. On the night of the assault a number of the transport planes were off the prescribed route and approached the transports from the same direction as the enemy and arrived over the ships simultaneously with enemy dive-bombers. One is brought to the conviction that that had the Air Force joined the naval and ground force planners, as they had been so often urged to do, and thereby had brought all Air Plans into harmony with the other services, the unfortunate loss of our transport aircraft might have been avoided."
Coast Guard to Mark 100th Anniversary of One of World War I's Largest US Naval Combat Losses
(THE WASHINGTON POST—24 SEPT 18) … Michael E. Ruane
At dusk, U-boat skipper Wolf Hans Hertwig spotted what he thought was a steamer heading north in the Bristol Channel, about 50 miles off the coast of Wales. It was a small ship with a single smokestack and two masts. Easy prey. He submerged to attack.
Through the periscope all he could see was a shadow of the vessel, but he was able to line up his shot. He set the running depth at 16 feet, estimated the range at 600 yards and fired a single 19-foot torpedo with a 350-pound warhead.
It struck amidships. Black smoke erupted, and two minutes later a secondary explosion threw up a "luminous" tower of water. Hertwig's boat, UB-91, surfaced to look for wreckage or survivors. "Nothing found," he recorded in the boat's war diary.
Miles away, a radio operator with convoy H.G. 107, bound from Gibraltar to England, felt the shock of an underwater explosion. The USS Tampa, a Coast Guard cutter under Navy control, had just left the convoy, and headed alone for the Welsh port of Milford Haven to re-coal.
The "steamer" that Hertwig had destroyed, along with its entire crew, on Sept. 26, 1918, was the Tampa.
On Wednesday, at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, the service is marking the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Tampa, which was one of the single largest U.S. naval combat losses in World War I, and a crushing blow to the newly created Coast Guard.
"We will never forget the service and dedication of Tampa's crew," Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz, said in a statement last week, nor "the meaning of their sacrifice."
Hertwig's torpedo claimed the ship and killed the 131 people on board — 111 Coast Guardsmen, four U.S. Navy sailors, and 16 British sailors and dockworkers.
Little was left but fragments. Doors, chairs and a piece of a mast with a life belt attached that read "Tampa" were later found floating in the water. Also spotted but not recovered was a body clad in underclothes and a Navy life jacket and watch cap.
Two weeks later, the remains of crewman Alexander Saldarini were found at sea. Two more bodies washed ashore on the coast of Wales. One was identified as Seaman James Fleury. The other was never identified, according to the Coast Guard. The rest were gone.
The ship's loss was front-page news from Washington to Honolulu, and especially in Tampa, the ship's namesake and hometown of many crew members.
"The Tampa Sunk; Local Boys Aboard," the Tampa Daily Times announced when word got out. "Sinking . . . Brings War Home."
Nineteen were from the Tampa area, the paper said: Among them were the Sumner brothers, Homer, 19, and Wamboldt, 24; the Mansfield brothers, Percy, 19, and Fred, 23; and their pals, brothers Algy Bevins, 23, and Arthur Bevins, 25.
Beyond Florida, Irving Slicklen, 15, of New York City was among the dead, according to Coast Guard researchers Nora L. Chidlow and Arlyn Danielson. He had wangled his way into the service apparently because he was tall for his age.
Also killed was Benjamin Nash Daniels, a 25-year-old machinist first class and the son of a lighthouse keeper. He had a wife and 3-year-old son back home.
Francis Leroy Wilkes, a 21-year-old African American seaman from Nantucket Island, Mass., perished. He was newly married and a descendant of the first enslaved family in Nantucket to gain its freedom. He had a brother, Roger, who was also in the Coast Guard.
Arthur Thomas Harris, 25, a sailor from Brooklyn, was killed. He had a college degree and worked at the old Bureau of Standards in Washington while doing postgraduate work at George Washington University.
Edward F. Shanahan Jr.'s father, Edward Sr., had just written him a letter from home in Jersey City three weeks before the sinking.
The elder Shanahan expressed approval of his son's recent reenlistment: "These times one must be ready to make sacrifices."
The Harlem Hellfighters were captured in a famous photo. A retired archivist uncovered their stories.
"Well, Ed, here's hoping you have just as much luck in your new enlistment as you experienced in the first," his father wrote. "In closing, let me remind you again, my son, of being careful of the acquaintances you make and to take the very best care of your self."
The letter was returned unopened, and stamped "Man Lost" on the front.
A special calamity
U-boats sank thousands of allied ships during World War I (1914-1918). Most famous was the British ocean liner Lusitania, which went down in May 1915, killing almost 1,200 people. Thousands more sailors and civilians perished as the war went on and U-boats ranged as far as the Chesapeake Bay.
The day before UB-91 destroyed the Tampa, Kapitänleutnant Hertwig sank a British cargo steamer, the Hebburn, off the south coast of Ireland, with the loss of six lives, according to the website uboat.net.
On Sept. 30, U-152 attacked and sank the armed Navy cargo ship USS Ticonderoga. The 237 passengers and crew abandoned ship and most were set adrift. When they were rescued four days later, only 22 were alive. The dead included 112 American sailors and 101 soldiers, according to the Navy.
For the most part, largely because the United States didn't enter the war until 1917, few American warships were hit. So the loss of the Tampa was a special calamity.
A last sighting
At noon on Sept. 26, the Tampa's captain, Charles Satterlee, 43, a distinguished-looking member of an old Connecticut family, asked permission to leave the convoy. He was running low on coal.
But because of the danger of steaming alone in waters prowled by German subs, permission was denied, according to the Coast Guard researchers.
Four hours later, Satterlee was desperate and made the request again. This time it was granted. And the ship was last seen on the horizon heading for Milford Haven.
The Tampa had been on Atlantic convoy duty since October 1917, guarding allied cargo ships against attack from German subs and making 18 trips between Gibraltar and Britain, according to records in the National Archives.
There had been some brushes with the enemy. On Dec. 26, 1917, the Tampa had watched as UB 57 torpedoed two British steamers loaded with coal, the Benito and the Tregenna, off the south coast of Wales. Other times the Tampa fired on what were thought to be enemy submarines.
And there had been one fatal onboard incident.
On May 21, veteran crewman Albert H. Hahn was putting the muzzle cover on one of the deck guns after a drill when the gun went off. Hahn was struck in the right arm and chest and died within hours. Two days later his body was taken ashore "for preparation for burial or shipment to U.S.A.," according to surviving logs.
A sadness that carried
The ivory-colored box of old letters was always kept in an ottoman in the master bedroom of the Shanahan home in Northwest Washington, with wax paper between the sheets to protect them.
They were four wartime letters exchanged between the elder Shanahans and son Edward Jr., and saved by younger brother Joseph.
"My dad carried this sadness," Kathy Shanahan Butler of Northwest Washington said of her father, Joseph. She remembers her parents reading them to her when she was a child and not realizing the tragedy the letters involved.
"My dad grieved so long for him," she said last week. "He adored him… Ed was just God."
Two years ago, she made a pilgrimage to the Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial outside London where the men of the Tampa are remembered.
Inside the columned stone chapel, light passes through elegant stained glass windows. And on the left, inscribed in stone, was her uncle's name.
"Tears poured down my face," she said. "It was just so overwhelming to touch his name. . . . I just kept putting my hand back and forth and back and forth," she said. "Edward F. Shanahan Jr., Jersey City, New Jersey, that he was born, that he died, that he was a seaman."