Daily Event for March 9, 2013

Late on the night of Mar. 8, 1945 USS PC-564 was conducting a normal patrol outside Granville Harbor, France. At 2230 hours the normal patrol was interrupted by a message from Granville Harbor asking "What Ship". The ship responded and waited for a further signal. The next message was received at 2244 hours, reporting unidentified targets moving southeast closing on Chausey Island. PC-564 was positioned on the opposite side of the island from the oncoming targets and moved at all speed to intercept them.

When PC-564 closed the distance to just over 10,000 yards her radar picked up at least three targets, however
the force turned out to be ten or more German vessels about to assault Granville. Four minesweepers, and several smaller landing crafts and possible several gun lighters. The commander of PC-564, L. B. Ard, had no real possibility of successfully engaging so many vessels, but this did not stop him from trying.

At 0013 hours on March 9, 1945 PC-564 and the German force were about 3,800 yards apart, now southwest of Chausey Island, the order to illuminate the target was given and PC-564 fired off three star shells, followed shortly thereafter by three more. One shell was fired by the 3" gun, which malfunctioned immediately thereafter putting the only heavy gun on the ship out of action.

Seconds later the ship was turning to starboard when a shell crashed into the pilot house. Ard called maneuvering orders down, but the ship continued to make a starboard circle. When Ard came down the scene in the pilot house was utter devastation, every man, including the Executive Officer was either dead or badly injured, there was no helmsman and the compass had been destroyed.

Finding nobody to take the wheel, Ard put it at amidships. A second hit destroyed the 40mm gun on the stern and killed most of the gun crew. Another hit took out #2 & 3 20mm guns. PC-465 was caught between the German ships and was being fired on from both sides, a hit on the starboard side started a fire, but it was brought under control quickly.

Finally finding someone to take the wheel he found his ship completely defenseless and badly damaged, a number of his men were dead and wounded and his ship continued to take fire, he made the decision to abandon the ship. The engines were cut and the ship slowed to a stop. Fire from the German ships slowed and the men on PC-564 were having trouble getting the life rafts over the side, Ard decided to rescind the order, but several men on the stern, who did get a raft into the water, went over the side before the order was reversed.

Ard went below and ordered the engines to full power, this drew more fire from the Germans and with ships on both sides he again readied the ship to be abandoned. Again the engines were shut down and again Ard changed his mind. The Germans had ceased fire and Ard made a run for shore. He headed south toward the coast, but once along the coast turned to the west looking for a beach to run up on. One last star shell was fired and he saw the Pierre de Herpin lighthouse, he continued west, but found no suitable beach and thus decided to run aground where ever he could. They ran up on the shore west of the aforementioned light house at about 0130 hours.

Several men went ashore to find help for the wounded men and by 0800 several French fishing vessels and a Marine Nationale doctor arrived and treated the wounded. The wounded men were taken aboard by the fishermen and taken to shore. Two French tugs pulled PC-564 off the rocks that afternoon and towed her to St. Malo, on the 12th she was towed Plymouth, England by USS Swivel ARS-36.

The Germans, after engaging PC-564, continued on to their target, Granville. Several British and American ships were sent to engage the enemy force, but they were too far away to reach Granville before the Germans withdrew. During the raid almost 100 troops were landed after the harbor was raked with machine-gun fire. The commandos destroyed cranes, a locomotive and other harbor equipment, but failed to damage the locks. One of the minesweepers, M-412, was grounded and had to be blown up.

The Germans boarded several ships in the harbor, but were met with resistance by their crews. On SS Kyle Castle 2nd Officer Alexander Ross manned the machine-gun, but was shot down before he could bring the gun to bare. Much the same thing happened aboard the SS Nephrite when the Germans came aboard uninvited. Chief Officer Jack Thornton, in the face of grenades and small arms fire manned his machine-gun only to be wounded. Both men survived and were later awarded the Order of the British Empire.

The Germans set charges and attempted to blow them up, Kyle Castle was badly damaged with SS Parkwood and Nephrite also sustaining damage, SS Eskwood was taken as a Prize and towed to Jersey when the force withdrew. The Germans also rescued sixty-seven PoWs with the loss of only two men killed and one captured.

Allied losses were far worse, thirteen men on USS PC-564 were killed, another died of wounds the next day and fourteen were missing (these were the men who abandoned the ship on the first order), one U.S. Army officer, a Royal Navy officer and five ratings, two French civilians and five men from the ships in the harbor (including two of the masters) were killed, more than fifty had been wounded and fifteen British and Americans were missing. From the German point of view the raid was quite a success.

On May 11 after the surrender of the Channel Islands, the fourteen men who were missing from PC-564 were recovered by the Allies, all in good condition. With them was Radarman 3rd Class John L. Page, the only survivor from USS PT-509.
© 2013 Michael W. Pocock
MaritimeQuest.com



Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in
USS PC-564
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Name
Rate
Antall, Robert G.
Seaman 2nd Class
Bagwell, Wilford T.
Seaman 2nd Class
Benesevich, John V.
Ship's Cook 2nd Class
*
Butts, Robert T.
Radioman 3rd Class
Lacroix, Lucien J.
Seaman 1st Class
Lightfoot, Ernest J.
Seaman 1st Class
Miller, Roger A.
Lieutenant (j.g.)
Moore, Robert J.
Soundman 2nd Class
Newman, James F.
Seaman 2nd Class
Page, Travis M.
Lieutenant (j.g.)
Piombino, Anthony
Gunner's Mate 3rd Class
Riley, Dan G.
Radioman 3rd Class
Rounseville, Jr., Clarence L.
Motor Machinist's Mate 3rd Class
Rowland, Robert M.
Storekeeper 2nd Class
       
*
Died of wounds Mar. 10.
   


Roll of Honour
In memory of those who lost their lives in
SS Kyle Castle
SS Eskwood
SS Nephrite
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Name
Rate
Vessel
Bell, George
Fireman
Kyle Castle
Fraser, M.B.E., William C.
Master
Kyle Castle
Olsson, Charles W.
Able Seaman
Kyle Castle
 
Willis, Gordon H.
Able Seaman
Nephrite
Wright, Andrew M.
Master
Eskwood


In memory of those unnamed who lost their lives in the Granville Raid
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"


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