28 December 2016
This week in 1944, the U.S.S. PC 552 rushed to help two British destroyer escorts facing a German U-boat. One destroyer was sunk and the other damaged. What did you do this week?
Companion book: “Normandy: a Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity” coming out 2017
With the Germans, it was never over until it was over. The day after Christmas, the PC 552 sounded General Quarters and rushed to help two British destroyers, HMS Capel and HMS Affleck. Both had received torpedoes from the German U-boat U-486 off the coast of Cherbourg, France, about 2:00 in the afternoon. Both ships were good symbols of the Anglo-American alliance during World War II as they both began as American destroyers built in 1943. The HMS Capel was originally to be the U.S.S. Wintle but was reassigned to the British while under construction. The HMS Affleck began life as the U.S.S. Oswald and was also reassigned to the British. Both of these transfers were made under the Lend-Lease program The HMS Capel was primarily involved with patrolling the home waters of the UK although it did some remote screening on D-Day. The HMS Affleck was credited with being involved with the sinking of four U-boats during its short life. The HMS Capel was floating when the PC 552 arrived but it sank soon afterward with the loss of her captain, eight other officers, and 67 men. The HMS Affleck was towed back into port where it was declared a Constructive Total Loss. This is what the PC 552 dealt with the day after Christmas, 1944.
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