25 January 2017

Companion book: “Normandy: a Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity” coming out 2017 


An abandoned boy, holding a stuffed toy animal amid ruins following a German aerial bombing of London in 1940.


This week in 1944 the PC 552 berthed in England for the first time. Nick Stine was there. What  did you do this week?  

There has been a lot of talk this week about the Americans’ 11 aircraft carriers in port. During World War II, the Americans built 22 just during the war years.

The PC 552 berthed in the Tamer River, Saltash, England. Arriving in England, the crew saw firsthand for the first time the destruction brought on by a modern war in the middle of the 20th century. They were shocked.

“This was their (crew and officers’) first look at open warfare as they witnessed the German bombings of England’s south coast.” (Ship’s History).

Radioman Roland “Nick” Stine remembers:

 When we went ashore there, I was dumbfounded of the villages and little developments along the way,” Stine said. “Hitler had already blown the hell out of all of them. As we went forward up to the other end (of the river) where they were, they were still blowing the hell out of anything in their way. War is just the damndest, lousy experience by the way it’s born.”

Stine’s family said he once described it as a moonscape by the way the artillery (sic bombs) blew holes in the buildings and ground.

The ship and its crew endured periodic air raids but took them in stride. What shocked them to the core was the vicious devastation unleashed on ordinary people, like you and me. It deeply disturbed and angered them. They were inspired to resolve the issue with a vengeance. 

 This week in 1944, we leave the crew contemplating man’s inhumanity to man.

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Sam Raup

18 January 2017sam-raup-small

Companion book: “Normandy: a Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity” coming out 2017 

This week in 1944, the U.S.S. PC 552 waited out a severe winter North Atlantic storm in the Azores. Sam Raup was there.  What did you do this week?

Sam Raup quit school to join the Navy on 25 March 1943 from Harrisburg, PA. He was immediately sent to Finger Lakes, NY for training. He was rushed from boot camp due to the urgent need for sailors. In a hurry, he had a last meal in the mess hall before embarking on a train for New York with the rest of his graduating class. When he went to retrieve his pea jacket from the hook, it was gone. He assumed someone had taken his by accident so he took another as they are all identical. It turned out there was a criminal ring stealing pea jackets. As Sam was found wearing a pea jacket not his, he was assumed to be part of the ring and thrown in the brig. The confusion was soon cleared up but he missed his train and his graduating class was assigned without him.

Accordingly, he arrived later by himself and was assigned to the PC 552. Where his class mates wound up being assigned and what happened to them, he never knew. It could be that the mishap with the pea jacket saved his life.

This week in 1944 we continue to leave the ship and its crew, including Sam Raup, in the Azores sheltering from a severe winter storm.

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 Please enjoy these posts about the U.S.S. PC 552, its crew, and its times.


Stormy Crossing

Source: Bill Kesnick

Patrol Craft were seaworthy but very “bouncy”. They were designed to get fresh water from onboard distillation plants but these plants were unreliable on an unstable platform. Between the water shortage and the severe storm, the ship and its escorts broke off the main convoy and sheltered in the Azores.

The ship was skippered at this time by the able Lt. Frank Pierce, who captained the ship across the Atlantic and ultimately, to D-Day and beyond.

Lt. Pierce was a graduate of the Philips Academy in Andover, MA, the same school President George Bush, Sr. graduated from. Both went on to serve in World War II, Bush serving in the Pacific as the youngest fighter pilot in the history of the U.S. Navy. Lt. Pierce had a son and grandson of the same name (among others).

The ship had one false alarm during the journey and was called to General Quarters. This week we leave the ship and its crew in the Azores sheltering from a severe winter storm.

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The Crossing Begins

04 January 2017

 This week in 1944, the U.S.S. PC 552 began its crossing of the Atlantic on its way to its rendezvous with D-Day at the Battle of Normandy.  What did you do this week?

Companion book: “Normandy: a Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity” coming out 2017

Source: NARA: Record Group 44

Orders came in January for the move to England. PC 552 and PC 1225, along with the PC 553 and several destroyer escorts (DE), escorted a large, slow-moving convoy across the Atlantic as Task Force 69 for the United Kingdom. The convoy was UGS (United States to Gibraltar-Slow) 29 and consisted of 53 merchant ships, the army tug LT (Large Tug) 221. the LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) 22, 8, and 44, the LCIs (Landing Craft, Infantry) 493-503, and the carrier U.S.S. Guadalcanal with escorts. The crossing was very rough and the ship suffered a shortage of fresh water.

The PC 552 had spent the time from its commission to the beginning of this journey escorting merchant craft along the Atlantic Coast and the Caribbean.  During this time, the ship launched several attacks on suspected German U-boats and was credited with sinking one.

The ship had originally been assigned to the North African campaign but before it started, it was reassigned to the European theatre. It was now the beginning of the big show and the men knew it. Many believed they were not coming back.

The ship began its crossing this week 05 January 1944.

We will be sending these posts out each Wednesday. Please enjoy these posts about the U.S.S. PC 552, its crew, and its times.

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