Heading for the Cape Verde Islands. I am 18 today. Captain Gallery is practicing night flying. We lost some planes and men. No sub contacts.
We spotted a U-boat. I had been on the DAQ (direction finder) and when a U-boat is with[in] 15 miles, and they send a signal, a big green figure 8 comes up on the screen. I had reported on but it faded quickly. Our next watch another guy had a reading, and we went to GQ. But nothing. Captain Gallery was convinced we were on to something. We were heading north toward the Bay of Biscay. (We did not know at the time, but our troops were going to invade Normandy in June, and we were supposed to kill subs going that way. --vjv ) We kept getting noises on the sono-buoys, and strong transmissions from the sub's radio frequency. We kept getting disappearing radar blips, and the Capt. mentioned that this sub was very cautious.
I had volunteered for boarding party, that the Capt. had set up in Norfolk, personnel who have some knowledge of batteries, diesel engines, or had served in submarines. Oh well.
I was in CIC (combat information center), when suddenly the DE Chatelain, came over the squawk box, "Bluejay, (that was us), this is Frenchy." They had a possible sound contact. That means close by. We went to GQ, but the hatch was open, and we could see out to starboard. We tried to get out of the area. As Capt. Gallery said, "A carrier in the middle of a sound contact, is like an old lady in the middle of a bar room brawl." We could see the Chatelain, with the Pillsbury and Jenks. The Chatelain started dropping hedgehogs. Suddenly we saw our planes started strafing the area where the hedgehogs were dropped. The sub started to surface, at 1121. Out destroyers cut loose with machine guns, 20mm and 40mm. Capt. Gallery yelled over the squawk box to the destroyers, "Capture that bastard, if possible." The crew of the U-boat were jumping over the side, and only the conning tower and bow of the sub was visible. Our boarding party was already on the way. A Lt., jg David, from the Pillsbury was on the deck of the sub. We later found out, that one dead German sailor was lying on the deck. His name was Hans Fisher, an original crewmember of the sub. Lt. David, and two other men jumped down into me hatch of the submarine. What guts! One man heard water pouring in, and found a huge stream coming out of a valve. He found the cover, and put it back. We had captured a German U-boat. Cdr. Troisano and Lt. David sent the rest of the boarding party topside while they looked for the scuttle charges, and tried to stop the engines. The submarine was circling. They did. They found 13 5# TNT charges, and disarmed them. One of our destroyers finally took it in tow, but the diving planes on the sub gashed her hull, so Guadalcanal took her in tow. Boy, were we proud to see Capt. Gallery on the conning tower, with the Stars and Stripes, flying over the swastika.
Well, she is still afloat behind us. I had to go over with the Com officer, and bring back all kinds of publications. Guess they think if the Germans know we captured her, we would have all the wolf packs in the Atlantic after us, and we would go the way of the Block Island, our sister ship sunk just north of us. A large Navy patrol plane landed nearby, and loaded up all the stuff, and took off [NOTE: Later conversation with Com Officer indicates that 12 duffel bags of top secret stuff went with him, on one of the fastest DEs, to Bermuda, then via air to Naval Intelligence Headquarters]. Well, they keep telling me we are always one mile from land. Straight down. We are towing the sub back to the States. The captain put up big signs: "Keep your bowels open, and your mouth shut, when we get into port." [footnote: No one ever let it leak out, and a year later, they sent me a letter, saying I could write home about Junior (our nickname for U-505)].
The skipper of U-505 was Capt. Lange. A decent sort of guy. We put the German crew under the flight deck, in caged walkways. We let them out during the day, to play volleyball, when we lowered the elevators, and gave them good food, and gedunk (ice cream). Of course our boatswain's mate kept a tommy gun on them at all times.
We arrive in Bermuda, and turned our 59 prisoners over to the local Naval Base Commander. (The prisoners were kept on Bermuda, until after the war.) A Capt. Gallery said to us, "Our Task Group had a rendezvous set up in the book of destiny, and there was no avoiding it."
I have been transferred to new Essex class carrier. USS Randolph CV15. Pre-commissioning crew. Heading soon to the Pacific.
Return to CVE-60 Guadalcanal
Return to Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-45: Aircraft Carriers
Return to Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-1945
Last updated: June 4, 1997