PT-199 delivers USS Corry survivors
to destroyer USS Fitch (DD-462).
USS CORRY SURVIVORS
CLIMBING ABOARD USS FITCH
FIRST-HAND ACCOUNTS OF USS FITCH CREWMEMBERS:
D-Day Account of Jack Sabolyk,
Fire Controlman, 2/c -
USS Fitch (DD-462)
D-Day my battle station was atop the Fitch
in the Mark 37 Director, assigned as gun pointer from where we directed the
fire of the guns to various targets on the beach.
rather busy with events on the beach, I did not notice at first when the Corry
was hit. It was brought to my attention by Lt. William
Uptergrove who was in charge of the Director crew.
As I gazed at the Corry I was transfixed by the actions of the poor ship.
The ship was going around in circles and I said to myself, "Why
doesn't she get out of there?" as shore batteries were dropping shells
all over her. It was then that I realized that her steering apparatus was
gone and control of the ship was gone.
was then that the Fitch laid down
a very heavy smoke screen on the Corry
so that the shore batteries could not see her.
It was then that I observed boats away from the Fitch
picking up oily and shocked survivors from the Corry, in what seemed to be a very heavy fog caused by the smoke
I was relieved from my station I went amidships to help survivors coming
aboard the Fitch. All the medics
were busy with the wounded and dying and I remember each of the wounded
received a morphine injection for pain and was then marked on the forehead
with a big red "M" to show that he had received morphine.
thing that stood out most in my mind, while I was helping survivors, (to
this day I have never forgotten) was the skin condition of the men who
were in the Black Gang. When the Corry
exploded steam pipes burst in the ship’s engine
and highly scalding steam literally cooked the men. Their skin had turned
gray and I said to myself, “They look like pigs feet” which I used to
cook. This I will never forget.
other incident also stands out. We had a very skinny seaman who weighed
about 90 pounds. (He was called “Muscles” by the Fitch
crew.) He was only 17 years old and had just come aboard ship.
He was the coffee man that day and went all over the ship giving hot
coffee to the crew.
remember him carrying his pot to amidships by the pogey bait locker. The
dead had been put in body bags but the top was open for recognition.
This poor young man who had never been exposed to a situation like
this was trying to serve them coffee. When
we told him that the men were dead, the poor boy dropped his coffee pot and
started crying uncontrollably.
D-Day Account of Patrick Joseph
McCann, U.S.S. Fitch
On June 6, 1944, two hours before all
hell broke loose, General Quarters sounded, we all ran to our battle
stations. At 6 plus A.M. we opened up with all guns. We were told to go top
side. A few seconds after or thereabouts we got word that the Corry
was hit. We lowered the gig and the whale boat to pick up the dead, wounded,
and others. As they came aboard I happened to grab one survivor – name
unknown – he half-walked and half-leaned on my right shoulder.
We went down the ladder that was in the head, that one led to my
compartment where my sack was. I actually picked him up and put him in.
He and I took off his oil soaked clothes, he then looked new born. I
did not have any dungarees, they were in the laundry. I gave him my
tailor-made pants to put on, also the Navy skull cap.
(Water was 56 degrees) He wanted a cigarette – I gave him 4 packs. I
then went top side and saw we were heading towards a hospital ship. I went
down to tell him he is going home, to relax. I never told him. He died with
an unopened pack of cigarettes in his hand. He
was a fireman. I could see why we won the war with men like those of the Corry
and the Fitch.
At 0530 we were well into
the assault area. We were supposed to open fire on our objectives at 40 min.
before H-Hour which was at 0550. At
0530 the shore batteries opened fire on us. The suspense of waiting for
D-Day to roll around had just begun. When we were fired upon everyone was
expecting for a shell to hit us any second.
Everyone was scared even though they declined to admit it. I was
shaking so much I couldn’t keep from spilling the coffee I was drinking.
My battle station was in the No. 1 fireroom. I was in charge. I didn’t
want to show I was frightened so I just kept still. Everyone had a wild look
in their eyes, like a fox being chased by dogs.
We opened fire at
approximately 0533, about 17 minutes before we were supposed to. As far as
we know, we were the first ones to fire at our beach-head, and possibly the
first ones in the invasion. That was a feather in our hats. It sure sounded
good to hear our 5” 38’s open up. Nevertheless, the three coastal
batteries were still concentrating their fire on us and the shells were
plopping in the water, closer at every salvo. I say salvo because that’s
what they were. They were firing salvos of two shells at a time. You could
hear them whistle overhead and us boys could hear them plunk into the water,
very audible below the water line on the floor plates in the fireroom.
We continued firing and
things started to get too hot for us, so we began to ease out in a hurry.
The Nazis had our range and almost got us. Then they waited for our sister
ship, the Corry, which was
following us out. They hit her between the forward fireroom and forward
engine room. That alone wasn’t enough. They hit her again somewhere around
the bridge. We then started in to rescue survivors at full speed and firing
the two forward guns over the fo’ castle. We layed to, and lowered both
boats to pick up survivors and kept up our steady firing from all four guns.
We knocked out the pillbox which sank the Corry.
We had been taking men
aboard for about 25 minutes and the chief, Joe Young, called down for Hardy
and me to come up and help drag men aboard. He had worked until he was about
to “crap out.” The first sight to meet my eyes was a boat load of men,
about half of them wounded. All were so cold they didn’t know where they
were. One man in the boat was holding on to one in the water. I thought at
first he was just about drowned but after Dave and I hauled him aboard we
saw a hole in the top of his head. I felt his pulse. He was dead. We layed
him on deck and put a blanket over him and turned to get another. That one
boat had two dead men aboard. All this time we were still firing. The gun
barrels were so hot the paint was beginning to blister.