It was 65 years ago that the USS Partridge left port for the last time. Below is an account of the ship’s last few moments from United Press Corespondent Robert Miller. This was published a year after the ship was sunk.
U.P. Writer Dunked in Channel When E-Boat Torpedoes His Ship
AN ENGLISH PORT, June 15 – I was torpedoed in the English Channel. My ship died in a black, slimy pool of her own fuel and oil. She went down 40 seconds after the torpedo thudded home.
Those 40 seconds are graven deep within me.
An e-boat struck – one of those E-boats which with the U-boats are trying desperately to cut the supply lines to the beachheads.
I went on the bridge. Star shells were arching across the sky, rivaling the moon’s brilliance. Miles astern the corvettes, destroyers and MTBs were out searching for E-boats.
A destroyer flushed one of the quarries and there was an abrupt change of shots. Dull flashes split the darkness on the sea to our rights. Red tracers streaked into the sky.
A plane flew high over our heads. There was a huge explosion somewhere astern with a great belching roar and a sudden huge gout of smoke.
I spoke to the men on the guns, glanced at the sky and uneasily down at the sea.
Then the torpedo hit.
It tore into the ship’s entrails. The whole ship shivered and then leaped. I went reeling down the deck, grabbing for a hold.
Then a blinding flash like a photographic magnesium flare. Sea water erupted all over the ship. I was temporarily blinded in filmy spray. I picked myself up with the other and found surprisingly, I was unhurt and that I had my glasses on and they were intact.
But the deck’s crazy slant showed that the ship was going down fast. Someone cried out: “The liferaft – cut is loose.”
And unrecognizable figure crawled past on hands and knees, dragging a useless and dangling left leg behind him.
Oily water moved up around our ankles. We began hacking agonisingly away at the bindings of the liferaft as the ship began to settle.
Abruptly it came loose and I plunged with the others onto a maze of ropes and debris tearing to free myself as the raft bobbed teasingly away – just out of reach.
I had, I suppose, one more second. With a desperate lunge, I reached the raft and hauled myself on to it as the ship I had left rolled heavily over and then plunged, leaving boiling black bubbles on the sea as she went down.
Thick, chocking oil covered he water like syrup, clogging my ears and novse and matting my hair.
The night was alive with sound. Men were shouting. Others called for help. There were odd cried of encouragement and the occasional moans of the injured.
Men were crammed on the raft and all around it, some clinging to the sides.
We saw a sudden great black shape knifing through the sea. Together we bawled and screamed. But the ship passed in the night.
Then we saw another ship – nearer. Some unknown clambered precariously to his fee to wave a signal light and the ship blinked a reply.
Twenty minutes later we were going aboard. Nearly two-thirds of our crew was saved.
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