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 Author  Topic: Palermo, August, 1943
Nuge210

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Nuge210   Send Email To Nuge210 Posted on: Jun 18, 2008 - 5:46pm
I wondered if any of you guys have ever run across a picture of an ammunition ship, on fire and blowing up after an air raid on the harbor of Palermo ?

I read this in a narrative by Stanley Barnes, Ron 15 Commander. He says it was taken by a combat photographer and appeared in the November issue of Life magazine ( 1943 , I guess ).

My father was XO on the PT 216 and became Skipper of the 210 . Sadly he passed away in 2006.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the numerous topics posted by you all, and the great pictures of these great men and their ships.

Steve Nugent


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29navy

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of 29navy  Posted on: Jun 19, 2008 - 5:29am
Here's the only thing I can find: of an explosion in Sicily

http://www.webshots.com/g/45/65-sh/5560.html

Charlie



Charlie

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Nuge210

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Nuge210   Send Email To Nuge210 Posted on: Jun 19, 2008 - 1:31pm
Charlie,
Thanks for the reply, and the great picture. I can't even begin to imagine what Barnes is describing, but definately said it was a burning ship right at the docks.

I'd love to find this magazine article he talks about.

Thanks again, Steve


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29navy

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of 29navy  Posted on: Jun 20, 2008 - 7:48am
I looked through the Oct-Dec 1943 issues of LIFE and didn't seen any picture as described. I'll pull out the early 1944 issues to see if I see anything.

Charlie

Charlie

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Ed Mickelson

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Ed Mickelson  Posted on: Jun 20, 2008 - 11:03am
I Served on 2 AE's during Viet Nam and can only remember 2 Ammo Ships ever blowing up. The Mt. Hood in the pacific during WWII and one ( sorry getting old and have CRS) blowing up in our home port of Port Chicago in Concord Calif.

Hope this helps a little. PS my Dad was on PT 306 RON 22 in the Med in WWII

Ed Mickelson


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Nuge210

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Nuge210   Send Email To Nuge210 Posted on: Jun 24, 2008 - 1:24pm
Thanks for your input Charlie & Ed. I have found out a little more since the original post.
First off, Life magazine didn't have a Nov. 5, 1943 issue; only Nov. 1,8, 15, etc. So I have no idea which issue Barnes was talking about. But I did find info on a Destroyer, the USS Mayrant, which was attacked outside of Palermo, and almost sunk, but had limped into Palermo harbor around the end of July.

The night of August 1, she got caught in another air raid in Palermo harbor. Lt. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. was a Executive Officer on the Mayrant, and received the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his actions that night. The citation in part stated: " During a heavy enemy night attack on shipping in the harbor several bombs were dropped close to the Mayrant, moored alongside a dock. Bombs struck a trainload of ammunition and other near-by storages of gasoline and explosives. When bomb fragments and flying shrapnel from the exploding ammunition wounded two men on the bridge of the ship, partially amputating the leg of one of the men, Lt. Roosevelt, quickly and effectively and with disregard for his own safety, administered first aid .........."

This is from a New York Times article, November 17, 1943. I think this has to be what Stan Barnes was talking about. But still no picture.

Steve


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CJ Willis

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of CJ Willis  Posted on: Jun 24, 2008 - 3:03pm
Ed:
I have an eye witness account of the Mount Hood explosion written by our Exec. officer Lt.Jg Bill Raney. It happened November 10, 1944 about 10:00 A.M. Mr. Raney was aboard the George Clymer in the bay at Manus on his way home after we were all relieved of duty after our 16 month tour of duty in Ron 19. The Geo. Clymer was about 3/4 mile away. Not a scrap of wood was left. 550 men on the Mt. Hood and another 100 working in the boats alongside were all killed as well as some on other nearby ships. The mail boy and two men to man the mail boat were the only survivors. They were ashore. They were loading 1000 # bombs from a carrier and were about 20% loaded. About 2000 tons of bombs went off. No one on the Geo. Clymer was hurt. Raney said he dove behind a big winch when it went off. Some debris hit on the Clymer.

C. J. Willis

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newsnerd99

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jun 25, 2008 - 12:17am
Jeez CJ...I can only imagine the damage if the ship had a larger amount of cargo on board.

Steve - reading up on Palermo, there was an LST that was hit (but more importantly) a British freighter that was in the harbor "took a direct hit and sank" (from History of United States Naval Operations in World War II V.9 By Samuel Eliot Morison, p. 193). This freighter is mentioned in the same paragraph as the exploits of Lt. Roosevelt and the ammunition train taking several hits.

No one needs to tell me how the media gets it wrong sometimes, so I would imagine in war time it was easy to confuse ships, bomb damage, etc. A freighter, that might have been carrying ammo, sitting next to a rail yard with ammo, both get hit...you see where I'm going (especially if the US ammo ships to go boom is a known quantity.)

Hope this helps Steve - and welcome to the boards!

Grandson of James J Stanton
RON 15 PT 209 and RON 23 PT 243
Check out: www.pistolpackinmama.net

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newsnerd99

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jun 25, 2008 - 12:40am
I think I have it figured out - Steve, it was most likely the SS Robert Rowan, which was blown to pieces on 7/11/43 during Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily.

I took the following from here: http://www.portchicago.org/lastwave/chapters/LastWave_Ch8.pdf

On 11 July at 1:50 P.M. a fleet of perhaps 35 Junkers Ju-88 vertical bombers were overhead targeting their bomb loads on the ships assembled in the harbor at Gela.

The munitions-laden Liberty ship SS Robert Rowan, carrying her crew and troops of the U.S. 18th Infantry, took a bomb in her forward hold which started an uncontrollable fire; the ship was expected to explode immediately. All other ships in her immediate area began moving out of range. SS Robert Rowans captain ordered her abandoned. Before the Robert Rowan exploded 20 minutes later at 2:15 P.M. all 421 men aboard her when the bomb hit were taken off by PT boats (patrol torpedo boat) and transported to the destroyer USS McLanahan (DD-615). After the men from the Robert Rowan were taken aboard McLanahan, in the words of George E. Smith, USN, of McLanahans Engineering Department, we shagged out of there. The noise of the explosion, he said, was indescribable, and the explosion strung parts of that ship all over the area.

Placing an ammunition ship at risk of concentrated German bomber attack in the transport attack area of the harbor at Gela signified that the Robert Rowans mission was to provide re-supply ammunition to the troops that had landed. Ships at anchor or maneuvering in the attack transport area would not have carried naval warship ammunition or bombs; therefore the Robert Rowans ammunition cargo certainly did not include the tons of concentrated TNT explosives of naval depth charges and aerial bombs and consisted principally of artillery, mortar and gun ammunition. Ammunition of those types generally will not explode high order in a fire and most of it will burn furiously, deflagrate, or detonate low order. SS Robert Rowan burned furiously
for 20 minutes before she exploded.

Although the explosion of the Robert Rowan was a mammoth detonation and possibly equivalent to a high order explosion of 500 tons of TNT, the ship did not entirely disintegrate; she was broken in half and only partially submerged when she sank to the shallow harbor bottom. Her intact portions continued to burn with intermittent small explosions through the afternoon and night. Above the initial fire, and following the first large explosion, a huge pillar of black and white smoke rose to an estimated 4,500 feet; at the lower levels, up to perhaps 2,000 feet, the cloud was fitfully punctuated by the aerial explosions of artillery shells and tracer
ammunition thrown up from the devastated hulk as the remainder of her munitions cargo burned and detonated in relatively small bursts. At 6:00 A.M., 13 July, the above-water remains of SS Robert Rowan were still smoking.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

More importantly Steve on why I think this is your ship, is the photo (shot by a USCG photographer nearby) in the the Sam Morrison book I referenced earlier (Page 198). I can't find it on the web anywhere, just these shots from a nearby ship and/or harbor:







Grandson of James J Stanton
RON 15 PT 209 and RON 23 PT 243
Check out: www.pistolpackinmama.net

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Nuge210

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Nuge210   Send Email To Nuge210 Posted on: Jun 25, 2008 - 7:04am
Good digging Jim. This is the same picture Charlie sent on his 6/19 post, I think, from the Sicilian invasion off Gela.

Barnes is definately referring to an incident at the beginning of August, so I'm not sure it's one and the same.

Steve


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