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WORLD WAR II VETERANS DISCUSSION GROUP
HAGAMAN MEMORIAL LIBRARY 203-468-3890
227 MAIN ST. EAST HAVEN, CT 06512
October 28th at 2:00 pm in the Hagaman
Library DeMayo Community Room.
This month, Michael T. Walsh, Corp Comm., will
speak about the HMT Rohna disaster which
occurred on November 26, 1943. Over 1,000 American servicemen were killed. It was the first successful
"hit" of a merchant vessel at sea carrying US troops
by a German remote-controlled, rocket-boosted
bomb, thus giving birth to the Missile Age. The "hit"
was so devastating that the U.S. Government placed
a veil of secrecy upon it that continued for decades.
This promises to be a very interesting lecture!
MYSTERY PHOTO BELOW: DO YOU KNOW ANY OF
THESE MEN IN THE PHOTO BELOW?
The photo was in an envelope given to Fawn with the name
Sam Lawson on it. Contact Fawn, if you know!
WRITING ON THE BACK OF THE PHOTO:
8 July, 1945 Munich Germany.
Outside in front of our quarters. Reading left to right:
Gregory Zwerin (Luxembourg civilian), Cpl. Elmer
Syrjala, Pfc Frank Howard, me, Cpl. Bill McHugh,
+ Pfc. Sid Firkser. All of the AES.
On November 26, 1943 the United States
sustained its largest loss of troops at sea.
Over 2,000 U.S. servicemen were aboard
the British troop ship HMT Rohna in the
Mediterranean. The Rohna and 23 other
ships were attacked by German bombers.
After a fierce fight that ended with no ships
lost, a single bomber made a final run.
Armed with the latest technology — (a
rocket powered, remote controlled
Henschel HS-293 glide bomb), it set its
sights on the Rohna. Many men were killed
instantly by the direct hit. Rescue ships
spent hours picking up survivors. By the
time the losses were totaled, 1,015 U.S.
servicemen had lost their lives.
Hagaman Library WWII Group
Gem of the Month:
“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.”
– Will Rogers
LAST MONTH’S MEETING:
Armand Gherlone 10/1
Joe Torcellini 10/3
Frank Casucci 10/3
Mary Ann Anderson 10/4
Donna Maturo 10/6
Tom Ahern FN USN 10/13
Dana Murphy 10/18
Salvatore Corso 10/18
Roger Malbuisson 10/19
Larry Brustman 10/21
Ruth Altschuler 10/28
Fawn Gillespie 10/28
Historian Bob Begin (below-center, with veterans) gave
an excellent presentation on the heavy cruiser USS
Quincy (CA-39), sunk in the Pacific on August 9, 1942.
A U.S. Navy D-Day Survivor’s Experience
with German Radio-Controlled Guided Missile Glide Bombs
Bill Beat, Radio Technician, 2nd class
USS Corry (DD-463) - Sunk June 6, 1944
In April of 1944, I and about 20 other
radio technicians from the Atlantic
Fleet destroyers were sent to a Navy
electronics lab in Cambridge Massachusetts. There, we learned that
German radio guided missiles had
become a serious threat to Allied ships
in the Mediterranean Sea. We learned
that a German bomber could carry
missiles which were gliders with warheads and radio-controlled tail fins.
German pilots would approach ships,
and while still out of range of a ship’s
guns, would release the missiles. As the
missile dropped away from a plane, a
brief rocket charge in the missile would
accelerate it to a very high speed. Then
the German pilot, via radio controls,
had about 30 seconds to guide the
gliding missile into a ship. There was
great concern because these missiles
were causing considerable damage to
Allied ships in the Mediterranean and
there was no effective defense. A team
from the electronics lab had gone to the
Mediterranean to study the menace.
They observed the German medium
bombers in action. They filmed activity,
recorded signals and brought back an
unexploded missile and the electronic
control box from a bomber that had
crashed in shallow water. The countermeasure developed by the electronics
lab was a special tuner that controlled
both a receiver and a transmitter. The
sensitive receiver could be sharply
tuned to the German missile frequency.
The signal from a German plane
approaching a ship could be detected
from a maximum range of about 30
miles. When the characteristic signal
from the plane indicated that the
missile had been dropped, the jamming
equipment was switched f rom
RECEIVE to TRANSMIT and a powerful signal from the transmitter could
take control of the missile and spin it
into the sea. Technicians from the navy
electronics lab helped me install and
test the new secret jamming equipment
aboard the USS Corry. A couple of
months later, on June 5, 1944, the
Corry and hundreds of other ships were
crossing the English Channel, headed
for Utah Beach, Normandy. As I looked
out at the large armada of ships I
began to realize the importance of the
missile jamming equipment for which I
was responsible. I felt confident that
the equipment would work and that I
knew how to operate it to knock out the
German missiles. Many hours were
spent listening for German missile
signals during the long, slow Channel
crossing. I was set up to communicate
with the bridge and to log signals but
none were heard. Early on the morning
of June 6th, while on the front lines of
the battle, my tuning and listening
operation ended with a terrific explosion. I ran up to the CIC where I found
my boss, Chief McKernon. Mac said we
had been hit by shore batteries and we
had to abandon ship. Eventually we
were rescued and taken back to
England later on June 6th.
Note: On June 8, 1944, off Utah Beach,
Normandy, the destroyer USS Meredith
(DD-726) was struck by a German glide
bomb and sank the following day.
However, the Meredith was officially
declared sunk by a mine.
Above: Henschel HS 293
Guided Missile Glide Bomb