The Ship’s History

The USS Partridge was a Lapwing class minesweeper built in 1918. The ship and her crew served with distinction during World War II partship40sperforming salvage operations and towing duties in the Caribbean, along the east coast of the United States and in the English Channel during the D-Day invasion.

The Partridge saved equipment and lives during the German submarine campaign to disrupt shipping. Earning the name ‘The Mighty P’ during salvages operation for the SS Uniwaleco and Lihue among others, the crew performed above and beyond duties that saved lives and, in some cases, towing entire ships to safety.

In December of 1943, the Partridge sailed for Britain performing various towing duties and eventually preparing for the Normandy invasion. During the invasion, the ship rescued a sinking Landing Craft Tank (LCT) and on June 8 took a Whale Unit or Mulberry to be towed to Omaha Beach. About 10 miles from shore at 2 AM on June 11, 1944 the Partridge was torpedoed by a German E-boat killing 35 of the 90 crew members and serious injuring many of the survivors.

About the “Bird Boats”

The Lapwing-class minesweeper, often called the Bird class, was an early “AM-type” oceangoing minesweeper of the United States Navy. Forty-eight ships of the class were commissioned during World War I, and served well into the 1950s. A number were refitted to serve as ocean-going tugs, salvage vessels, seaplane tenders, or submarine rescue ships.

Location of Ship

The wreck of the Partridge can be found at 49°30′N00°50′W sunk by German E-boats off Vierville-sur-Mer.

General Statistics

nationality: american
purpose: utility
type: tug
propulsion: steam
date built: 1918

Size

tonnage: 950 grt
dimensions: 57 x 10.97 x 3.05 m
material: steel

Engine & Armament

engine: triple expansion reciprocating steam engine, two Babcock and Wilcox boilers, one shaft, 1 screw
armament: Two 3″ gun mounts and two machine guns
speed: 14 knots

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Possible Expedition to Partridge

A couple of years ago I was involved in a major bathymetric survey of the Normandy beaches in which we attempted to locate and classify all wrecks along the 5 beaches. One of the wrecks we covered was that of the USS Partridge. Next year a team of divers is planning to visit some of the wrecks located and the Partridge is on the list – although sea and weather conditions may mean the divers do not visit her remains.

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Photo of the HMRT Superman

HMRT Superman was a British Rescue Tug that discovered the Whale Unit that the Partridge had been towing to Normandy.  Her crew were able to tow the Whale Unit so that it could be used to ferry equipment to the landing force. The ship doesn’t figure prominently...
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Map of the Partridge Voyage in the Caribbean

Here is a map that Bud Froehlich drew up in 1990 just prior to the last reunion of the Partridge.  If you’ve ever travelled to that part of the world, it’s difficult to imagine it as a war zone.  But it’s where the Partridge worked to safe ships...
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Report from Jim White on Partridge Sinking

Hi everyone and thank you for all the great comments on the recent photos.  I’m working on getting them labeled, but feel free to comment if you identify anyone in the photos. A few years back, Lisa Knott (who’s grandfather Dalton Kirkman father, Joe...
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1940s Partridge Newsletter

When I first started this project I had the privilege of spending a weekend with Bill and Dottie Ames.  They were a great couple with so much energy and enthusiasm for the Partridge and the crew.  They shared with me newsletters from the late 40s and early 50s.  I was...
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New Photos from Joe Shannon

These were photos of the crew that Joe Shannon (Joe Nutt) provided a few years back.  They cover from the Partridge in the Caribbean  until after it’s...
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Action Report from Partridge Sinking

Here is  PDF of the official action report following the sinking of the ship.  The report was created by Ensign Thomas Buffum because Lt. Jim White (who was captain of the ship) was injured. The report also contains a casualty list submitted by J. K. Bradley who was...
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Photos of Whale Units Still Used Today

I’ve read about Whale Units, like the one the Partridge was towing when she sunk, being used after the war to repair bombed bridges in France and Germany.  I just found two photos of two of these bridge still in use today.  It’s incredible to see that...
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Photo of USS Partridge Crew 1943

Below is a photo of the Partridge crew from 1943.  This was in a scrapbook that my Grandmother, Doris Krouse, put together sometime in the early 90s.  You can click on the picture to view a higher-res version or follow a link here:...
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Account of Sinking from United Press Reporter

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...
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