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First Combat Escort Patrol

“Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity”
20 September 2017

This week in 1942, the PC 552 commenced its first combat escort patrol. What did you do this week?
The months and years of planning and executing paid off. The ship was conceived and built and launched; a crew was drafted, trained, and on board ship. The ship’s training was complete and it was time to engage. The very next day, it engaged a suspected German U-boat by launching depth charges. No proof of success but dirty water was observed.

The following day, the ship launched another attack against another contact. This time, an oil slick was observed. Whether or not a U-boat was sunk was a matter of opinion. U-boats were under water when attacked and sunk if the attack was successful. Attackers guessed whether a U-boat was sunk by looking for signs such as oil slicks and detritus such as clothes or life preservers. U-boats knew this and so when attacked, would mimic being sunk by releasing oil or shooting detritus through their torpedo tubes which would rise to the surface.

There was rarely any certainty. The ship this time was not officially credited with a kill but the convoy made it through without casualties, the real mark of success.

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Surviving the Empire of Japan

13 September 2017

“Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity”
13 September 2017
This week in 1945, the PC 552 was transferred back from the war in the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast. What did you do this week?
The USS PC 552 came back from Victory in Europe fully expecting to join the war in the Pacific against Japan and they were transferred to the Pacific theater on 20 June 1945; two days before arriving home. They survived Europe but would they survive Japan? They didn’t know.

On 06 August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on a Japanese city which had no effect on the Japanese war effort. The Soviet Union attacked Japanese troops in Manchuria. The United States dropped another bomb on 09 August 1945 which finally convinced the Japanese to surrender on 15 August 1945. Suddenly, the crew of the PC 552, who fully expected to face war again, found itself part of a peacetime navy for the first time. This beautiful photo is of the US Navy forces docked in Tokyo bay the evening of 27 August 1945. That is Mount Fuji the background.

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Assignment to the Eastern Frontier

Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity”

06 September 2017

This week in 1942, the ship was assigned to the Eastern Sea Frontier, which consisted of the coastal waters from Canada to Florida, extending out for a nominal distance of two hundred miles. What did you do this week?

The enemies the Allies faced were far worse than we remember. Japanese cruelty was much worse than Nazi cruelty, although both forms of cruelty defy human understanding. The Japanese were incredibly cruel to everyone under their control, but that was mostly Chinese so it has not made such an impact on western versions of World War II. Here we see Japanese engaging in a sport they loved: throwing babies in the air and catching them on their bayonets, then throwing them into pots of boiling water.  They did much worse than this and historians estimate the Japanese killed about 10 million people.

Allied personnel soon learned to never, never, never get captured by the Japanese and Chinese and Koreans do not appreciate it when Americans tell them to get over it.

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You may contact me directly at: uss.pc.552@gmail.com

Frank Pierce, Commanding Officer on D-day

“Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity

30 August 2017

During this week in 1944, the PC 552 received a new commanding officer, Lt. Moll. What did you do this week?

Lt. Frank E. Pierce, commanding officer of the PC 552, was relieved by Lt. Moll, his former executive officer (XO).  Both Lt. Pierce and Lt. Moll were together on D-day at the Battle of Normandy.

Lt. Pierce was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts on D-day. The citation reads in part:

“A courageous leader, Lieutenant Pierce directed the operations of his ship during this period of vital offensive action by our forces and, by his skill, resourcefulness and devotion to duty, assisted materially in protecting the vessels in the Western Task Force Area from German surface forces, submarines and aircraft, thereby contributing essentially to success of the assault.”

This photo is courtesy of his son, Frank Pierce II, father of Frank Pierce, Jr. (grandson).

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You may contact me directly at: uss.pc.552@gmail.com

New Guns and Plenty of Ammunition

23 August 2017

“Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity”

During this week in 1943, the PC 552 received “new guns and plenty of ammunition” at Tompkinsville, NY. What did you do this week?

John Churchill was known as “Mad Jack” for a good reason: people thought he was nuts. He was renowned in the British Army for being the only soldier allowed to carry a longbow and basket-hilted Scottish broadsword (no officer was properly dressed without a sword, in his opinion). He’s thought to have achieved the only longbow kill of the war, shooting down a German scout in France.

He led commando raids in Norway and Yugoslavia (while playing the bagpipes, of course), survived being shot in the neck, captured or killed dozens of enemy soldiers and wreaked havoc before being captured. Mad Jack escaped, was captured again, then when the lights at his prison camp went out, he walked out of the camp (which was still being guarded) and walked 90 miles to find an American unit. After VE-Day, he fought in Burma, and when the war ended, he became a surfer. Source: Rothschild, Mike, “27 Unsung WWII Heroes You May Not Know About”.

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You may contact me directly at: uss.pc.552@gmail.com

Bravado at the Battle of the Bulge

16 August 2017

“Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity”

During this week in 1942, the PC 552 went on its shakedown cruise. What did you do this week?

The Battle of the Bulge was Nazi Germany’s last ditch effort to stop the western Allies. In December of 1944, the Germans launched a surprise attack which quickly formed a bulge in the lines. The Allies eventually recovered in what was later called the Battle of the Bulge.

God loves an Infantry soldier! The story is told of the tank destroyer which was retreating and the commander asked PFC Vernon Haught where to go. PFC Haught asked if the tank destroyer was looking for a safe place to go at which the reply was an affirmative.

PFC Haught directed the tank to park right behind his fighting position because, as he said, “I’m the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going.”

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You may contact me directly at: uss.pc.552@gmail.com

The Frightening New Weapon

09 August 2017

“Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity”

During this week in 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What did you do this week?

The painting shown is a famous one about what was then called “the thousand yard stare”. It is the blank, unfocused gaze of someone who has seen too much. This was not limited to World War II but it has been called different things in different ages. It was a symptom of what was called “soldiers heart” after the Civil War, “shell shock” in World War I, and “battle fatigue” in World War II. Now we call it PTSD. Think of what these men experienced, then think also of what their families experienced. The cost was huge.

Wars are nasty for everybody and rational people want them stopped by any means necessary. In some circles, it has become fashionable to claim the atom bombs were some sort of atrocity. The men of the PC 552 who were spared the war in the Pacific did not think so. Neither did their families, neither did the millions of Chinese spared additional atrocities, nor the millions of Japanese civilians spared surviving (or not) in a war zone.

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You may contact me directly at: uss.pc.552@gmail.com

Overhaul

02 August 2017

“Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity”

During this week in 1945, the PC 552 was getting a complete overhaul before moving on to the Pacific war. What did you do this week?

The PC 552 spent this month at the Charleston Navy Base getting a complete overhaul before moving on to give hell to the Japanese. Now that the war in Europe was over, the United States was anxious to keep relentless pressure on the Japanese so no money was spared to get the ship ready for the coming onslaught.Those of us who have come home from serving overseas know the feeling this statue invokes. The sailor is desperately hugging his beautiful wife and never wants to let her go. She is returning the feelings. The son is trying to get in on the action but parents who love their children, love and are loving to the children’s other parent first.

Those of us who have come home from serving overseas know the feeling this statue invokes. The sailor is desperately hugging his beautiful wife and never wants to let her go. She is returning the feelings. The son is trying to get in on the action but parents who love their children, love and are loving to the children’s other parent first.

At this moment, these people are fully expecting to soon see the sailor off to fight a whole other war after passing through the Panama Canal on his way to the Pacific.

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You may contact me directly at: uss.pc.552@gmail.com

Back at it Again

26 July 2017

“Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity”

During this week in 1944, the PC 552 returned to active duty at Cherbourg after repairs at Dartmouth. What did you do this week?

The Germans knew the Allies would need a major port in France from which to get supplies to invade Germany. Accordingly, they centered their defenses around major ports. The Allies overcame this by launching D-day on less occupied beaches, bringing portable “ports” called mulberries.

By June 29, 1944, American forces from Utah Beach, accompanied by British forces, had fought their way to Cherbourg and taken over the city. Thus, the Allies now had a major French port from which to launch their attack into the heartland of Germany.

20 days after Cherbourg’s fall, the PC 552 was based in Cherbourg, fully recuperated after D–day and ready for more. The Allies wasted no time.

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You may contact me directly at: uss.pc.552@gmail.com

Standing Down From D-day

19 July 2017

“Companion book: “Normandy: A Father’s Ship and a Son’s Curiosity”

During this week in 1944, the PC 552 went into dry dock at Dartmouth for repairs after D-day. What did you do this week?

Dartmouth, England was a major navy base during World War II. The PC 552’s berth prior to D-day was mostly at Dartmouth. After D-day, its berth was at Cherbourg, France but Dartmouth was still the place to go for repairs. During the stay at Dartmouth this week, the ship’s gunnery officer went to the hospital for reasons not known and was replaced by another officer.

Dartmouth is home to the British naval academy and is steeped history. We can just imagine our fighting men taking in the sights while waiting for the repairs. The quote above is from Francis Drake which is packed with practical, passionate naval advice and who is important around Dartmouth.

Drake left a snare drum on his death bed and he bequeathed that it be taken back to England.  Whenever England was in danger, the drum was to be beaten and Drake would come to save the day again. The last time anyone has heard the drum beaten was at Dunkirk when British citizens from all walks of life sailed to evacuate the British Tommies from France. The Tommies came back with the PC 552.

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 You may contact me directly at: uss.pc.552@gmail.com