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Tony B

Tracing USN WW2 casualties

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How can I go about tracing USN fallen? I'm doing an articale for Pathfinder on the Jersey War Cemetry. Some casualties buried there are USN, I belive from a PT boat action in the Channel after D-Day. the action was by PT Squadron 34 August 1944.

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This could be August 8th when PT boats had just taken over operations in the Channel Islands area. In the first operation PT509 was destroyed by a German minesweeper off Jersey. The radio operator, John L. Page was the sole survivor. He was very severely wounded but survived to be taken prisoner and underwent 4 months of continual operations by a German surgeon at the former English hospital in St Helier. He was freed from Jersey's prison camp in 1945. Hope this might give you a starting point for your research.

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That's the man Degsey. There were a number of US casualties and prisoners in Jersey, naval USAAF, and some soldiers after the Granville raid. The had a seperate camp on the edge of St Helier, the site is now layed out with reversing bays for learner drivers. A number of US burials were re-patriated in the early 1970's. I'd like to find out a bit more, the odd thing is the Jersey War Cemetery, despite have Allied and US war graves is nothing to do with either CWWGC or the US authorities. The action is supposed to be the highest losses for PT boats in the Channel. There is a memeorial in one of the bunkers in Jersey. Poor picture

I'm afraid. Cross referencing to do , but two casualties from PT 509 at least Darril Bricker and Richard Horsefeild, but there are two later USN burials as well.

DSCF5217.jpg

Edited by Tony B

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The picture would appear to be at least partly accurate as the account I have of the action

says that PT509 was ablaze and drifted alongside the German minesweeper. This was when Page was wounded in 37 places by a hail of small arms fire.

Perhaps the later burials were bodies that drifted ashore at a later date.

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I'm going to check on the other names tonight. They are quite a lot later dated 6.11.1944.

The English hospital Page mentions is the States of Jersey General Hospital in St Helier, than as now the only General hospital on the island. Any patient requiring specialist treatment is sent now to UK, either Southampton, or one of the london hospitals. At that time any German casualties were sent to France or back to Germany.

Following D-Day casualties were sent in the intial stages to Jersey, and proably Gurnersey , but I don't knw. The German's sent all the civillian patients home, or to private nursing homes. the published acounts of the time are horrific enough. Litle or no equipment, no drugs or anisthetic. Jersey civillian Doctor's and Surgeouns offred their services but were refused. I've heard accounts of containers of amputatred limbs and soild dresings dumped in the street. Due to the seige there was no fuel for for the creamatorium or incinerators. i have also heard that one german doctor could stand no more and comitted suicide.

The Underground hospital was never intended as such. It was another storage tunnel and underground barracks. The equipment it was fitted with was Feild Hospital type. though it was sopisticated, including portabkle X Ray equipment. The picture is an X Ray ubit currently at Batterie Moltke. It was used by a local vet for many years.

DSCF5150.jpg

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Getting intresting. There are four names, not asssociated with PT 509. Edward J Pycz 8619350, W.H. Kearns. J. J. Manning. Woodrow W Anderson. All USN all buried 6. 11. 1944.

back to books and internet.

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None of those names are mentioned in the book I have. From the beginning of August only PT boats were operating around the Channel Islands, at this time based in Southampton/Portsmouth but moving to Cherbourg as the Germans were driven out of Normandy. The PT boats soon put a complete block on all shipping movement and their main problem was shore batteries. Perhaps either a mine or action by shore batteries would have caused these casualties. Good luck with your research, if anything else turns up I will let you know.

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Thanks Degsey. Just goes to show, things hapen in your backyard and are very little known. The picture in Moltke was only done in the last few years.

There is also a new to me memorial at Lothrign on Nioirmont Point to Sqd Ldr R Snicker Woodward DFC RAF and W/o Donals Burton McPhail RCAF lost flyiing whirlwinds on 7/12/1942.

doing a search on 509 i found the report of Page when he returned to the US, that site stated that there was some confusion in spelling of names. Adds to the puzzle.

Unfortunatley Jersey Archives are sufering funding problems at the moment, so on line acess is not very good, and visting hours reduced. Next time I get over I'll try to go there.

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Were the German records kept anywhere in Jersey after the capitulation or did they come back to this country? If you could trace those and get them translated they may be your best bet. I don't suppose that much in the way of written records would be made in Jersey and it would be down to the memory of any local witnesses if any are still alive.

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I don't know where the German records went. :blush: I'll try the Channel Island Occcupation Society and Damien. The whole story has some odd points. By August, Cherbourg was well within Allied reach. The allies had air and naval superiority. The only other port other than fishing ports near the island's are Granville and St Malo, Dinard. There sems to have been a lot of men on board the sweeper. Page must have thought it odd to mention it. He'd have some idea of the number of crew to expect, and being aremed with small arms and grenades?

I intially wondered if it mighht have something to do with the Granville raid, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/52/a4041352.shtml

But the dates are wrong. I wonder if the sweeper was taking troops or casualties from France to Island for treatment?

Though thinking about it they may have been running from Gurnersey. The Germans also had Flack lighters based in the Islands, these were armed to the teeth, including 37mm, which seems odd on a sweeper. Must have been one of the last naval sorties from the island's. lack of fuel etc led to some of the naval vessels being stripped of guns and shore mounted in Sark. The Germans claimed the Gestapo Geheime Staats Polizei, Secret State Police were not in the Island's. They were Gehime Feldpolizei Secret FEILD Police. Those that had dealings with them , wouldn't find much diffrence. They used a house called Silvertide at Harve De Pas, and drove a purple car.

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Tony I could be wrong but ISTR reading somewhere that the German minesweepers were rather different to the British and were heavily armed, having a dual use as escorts. Since the Germans were being very heavily attacked both by coastal forces, frigates and destroyers as well as aircraft perhaps they were moving troops or Naval personnel in a minesweeper rather than unarmed or lightly armed transports. I still think the answer to all this will lie in an archive somewhere possibly in London. Being based in that area I'm sure you will know the most likely places.

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You've mad me deterimined to try and find out more. Time to go back to books and internet. Thanks for help and advice. Nice to have a intelligent person to argue and bounce ideas off! :-D

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Thank you for your kind remarks,: I know a few who would disagree.:D We have had our differences Tony and no doubt will again but when it comes to something like this those differences become irrelevant. I have done nothing but look at a book and dig at my fading memory and then make some suppositions which may be totally wrong, I hope I have not misled you in any way. I hope you get to the bottom of this mystery and look forward to it's conclusion. Pity I don't live nearer so I could do some leg work for you.

Deyck

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Careful, we will spoil our reputations! :-D it is haveing some one who is informed to speculate with that sparks the intrest and helps find the answers. The German records, the war diaries German Navy 1940 to 1945 are in the Jersey Archive. They came from the Channel Island Occupation society. I'm a member so will contacting them. I've got some info on the German Naval presence in the island's, there was quite a bit of action, mostly small scale and overshadowed by the 'bigger picture'. when I've sorted it out I'll let you know what I find.

articale has gone off to Mark on cemetery today.

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Thats great news about the records and war diaries, I must admit I thought you might be trailing round archives for years looking for them:D

You have got me really interested, let me know how you get on. Will look forward to the article.

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Tony

 

My mind is going back to an Aeroplane article some (many) years ago about a USN squadron flying patrols from Devon/Cornwall in Liberators. Could some of your extar bodies have come from there?

 

Alan

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Good point Alan, had a quick Google and it was USN Fleet Air Wing Seven (FAW-7) that was based in this country. The Squadrons initially flew from St Eval Cornwall under command of 19 Group RAF Coastal Command but subsequently moved to Dunkeswell with Upottery as a satellite station. There does not appear to be any report of any action near the date Tony is looking for but further research might turn something up.

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Bit's turning up all over. As an aside, the ground of the Cemetery was donated by Thomas David,. He was also a well known J clas yacht owner, Westwind. Westwind was sucuttled in Hurd's deep of Alderney. Where a lot of ordnance was dumped. a replica Elenor has been back to Jersey. http://www.thisisjersey.com/2010/07/22/visit-by-eleanora/ Picture 6 shows Corbiere light, off which PT 509 lies.

Alan, the USAF casualties are 0680067 2nd Lt E.G.J. Pallantine Buried 6/11/1944

16047394 Wm. H. westemeir Buried 1/12/1944

The position of the Island's wind and currents etc are such that casualties from far out in the Atlantic, or as Charibdiys , the Bay of Biscay, can end up on the island's.

One German Dornier crashed in St Quen's bay and a Thunderbolt also crash landed at St Quen's on the dunes.

I'll go through the books and and sort dates and pictures if I can. The best place for a lot of period photos is the Holocaust memeorial site. http://www.thisisjersey.co.uk/hmd/

The most poigniant burial for me is Maurice Gould, though he is strictly a civillian. He and two thers attempted to escape from the Island by boat in 1942. The boat capsized. One was drowned Maurice and his companion were taken by the German's and sent to a camp. Maurice died there in 1943, age 19.

Edited by Tony B

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Back to Google, I was looking for US Naval fliers,:blush: will let you know what I find, if anything.

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Oh Degsey, Alan. Talk about headbanging time! I was going through the books looking for info and pictures of German Naval ships. I found on the back of the dustsheet of one book a small photo showing German Soldiers carrying a coffin draped in a Unioun Flag. The picture is described as the burial Sgt Dennis Butlin, RAF & Sgt Abraham Holden RAF. Dated 6th June 1943 There bodies had ben recovered from the sea. Now the caption describes the funeral as taking place at Mont A L'Abbe Cemetery, which is to the west of St Helier on Westmonut (Originally called Gallows Hill) and the background of the picture does definitley look like Mont A L'Abbe. Apparently 'shot down returning from a mission over France'. However the CWWG describes them as at Graves 1 & 2 at St Helier War Cemetery Howard Davis Park, the EAST side of town. Now I know some US casualties were repatriated, in aboput 1970-71 if I remeber so it apperars a number of re-internments took place. But when? So I'm going to be stymiied till I can get back to the Island, and into the archives.

DSCF3657.jpg

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tapped woodrow w anderson into google came up with a capt usaf 4.5 air kills +9 ground but no anderson for usn and Pycz comes up on a salvation army site giving mothers details, will keep nosing around

There is a site accident report.com which lists a Woodrow w anderson KIA 1944 http://www.accident-report.com/crews/1944/NAME44A.html

Edited by alan turner (RIP)
more info

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Very slow progress but will get there eventually. Pyckz, Anderson and Westemeir are definitely USAAF personnel, Pallantine and Manning are still a complete mystery.

W.H.Kearns was a fire fighter 3rd class USN who died 30th October 1944 and is now buried in the US cemetery at Colleville sur Mer Normandy also known as cemetery at St Laurent sur Mer. There is nothing unusual in this, after the war deceased were transferred from all over Europe to this cemetery. A number of B17's and P51's were lost in the Channel around the relevant dates but none of the personnel listed are shown on the rolls of honour of the relevant squadrons and groups. I will keep on this but 5 hours on it tonight hasn't got us very far forward.

Deryck

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A Captain Woodrow W.Anderson 486 Fighter squadron, 352 Fighter Group was KIA in a P51 on 28th May 1944 but can find no location or further details.

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Hi Tony. can you check and confirm the spellings of the names. I have tried variants of the spelling. There is confusion over names and spellings even on official US Government sites.

Westermeir I think is also Westermetir, same dates, same initials so I think it is a duplication due to confusion over spelling.

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