Daily Event for October 31

October 31, 1941: The USS Reuben James DD-245 was sunk by the U-552. Reuben James was escorting convoy HX-156, heading for England when a torpedo hit the port side. The forward magazine exploded and the ship broke in two. The forward section sank immediately giving no time for anyone in that part of the ship to escape. Soon after the stern sank the depth charges exploded killing several of the men in the water. The 44 survivors were picked up by the USS Niblack DD-424 and USS Hilary P. Jones DD-427. The Reuben James, the first U.S. warship to be lost in World War 2 took 115 men (including all the officers) with her into history. Erich Topp, Commander of the U-552 survived the war. During his career he made 18 war patrols (4 as watch officer on U-46 and the rest as commander of U-57 and U-552). In total he sank 36 ships and damaged four others totaling over 230,000 tons. U-552 survived until the end finally being scuttled in Wilhelmshaven on May 2, 1945.

© 2005 Michael W. Pocock

USS Reuben James DD-245