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|97k||undated wartime image of HMS Redmill (K-554)
(Photo by Wright & Logan]
DE Historical Museum
USS Slater at Albany, N.Y.
|96k||27 April 1945: 25 miles northwest of Blacksod Bay, Ireland - Redmill after being hit by an acoustic torpedo from U-1105.
Rupert (K-561) is assisting Redmill. Interesting to note the depth charge racks lining the quarter decks on both ships.
(photo credit: Mr. K. R. MacPherson)
|213k||The same photo of the crippled HMS Redmill being attended to by HMS Rupert (K-561) after being torpedoed by U-1105.
The "Survivor Card" issued to Tracy's Dad, Ordinary Telegrapher Noel Wildsmith is attached to the photo. Tracy has a web site called "To Absent Family",
which she named after her Dad's toast, made every evening at 17:30 when he would raise a glass of wine and toast to absent friends in memory of the colleagues he lost 27 April 1945.
Tracy's Dad wrote the below description of the event:
On 27th April at 0923 (give or take a minute or two) the Redmill was struck aft by a torpedo and I was on duty in the Watch Tower cabin. There was a big bang and the power failed. I looked out of the rear facing scuttle(porthole) and saw a mass of debris going upwards and then the same debris coming down again. Being an American ship there were no port holes, our solitary one had been fitted by the Royal Navy probably to reduce the temperature. The standby power came back very quickly. The ship went to action stations. The damage control party immediately started checking water tight doors and bulkheads. It was quickly established that the ship was water tight and would float. The order to stand by to abandon ship was cancelled and we remained at action stations. Our sister ship the Rupert, immediately circled dropping depth charges in an attempt to discourage the U-boat for further attack. This procedure was known as "Bricklaying". The stern end of the vessel had disappeared which meant that we had no propellers or rudder. We were dead in the water.
Shortly afterwards the Rupert took us in tow until the arrival of an ocean going rescue tug. Without a tug we would have gone broadside to the seas, started to roll and eventually capsized. The primed depth charges that were blown off the quarter deck (blunt end) reached their detonation depth and exploded with the ship sat on top. After the explosions and the reports from the damage control party it was established that the ship would stay afloat. Our sister ship, it would be either HMS Fitzroy or the Rupert signalled our situation and a request for a tug to tow us into port. The Rupert took us on tow. As I remember it took 3 days before we reached Lishahally on Lough Foyle above Londonderry. I didn't know our position at the time of the torpedoing until 50 years later, when by chance I read in a copy of Navy News April 1955 an item "fifty years on" that was HMS Redmill torpedoed by U-1105 off Blacksod Bay. This is off the North West of Ireland and Londonderry would be our nearest British Port. During the time under tow our mess deck was sealed off, the watertight doors were closed and we ate, slept and worked above the main deck. I must have volunteered to return below to recover our knives forks and spoons. I found that strange, deserted mess decks and every water tight door closed behind me. The ocean going tug, it might have been Storm King, took us in tow so expertly that they made it look easy. When the frigate had practiced taking each other "in tow" in calm weather we had made a real hash of the job. Every man to his trade. At the end of the tow we came into Lough Foyle down towards Londonderry the anchored merchant ships started sounding their sirens (fog horns) and their crews came on to their upper decks to cheer us in. I'll never forget the reception especially from merchant seaman who usually got the rough end of the stick and very little of the glory. The ammunition was unloaded, the ship was cleared and the "powers that be" came to inspect the ship. The ships' companies was taken to the barracks in Londonderry to be dispatched to our various "port Divisions, Chatham, Portsmouth or Davenport". Our last sight of the Redmill was from the Belfast bound train. The "skipper" was right forward in the bows (sharp end of the ship) at the salute.
The only incident I recall from that period was the occasion we were paraded, for some unknown reason, by a Petty Officer from the barracks. The usual naval term for miscellaneous bodies was "party". Preceding his orders in the usual manner didn't work very well in fact he was more or less ignored. He turned to one of our Petty Officers who gave the same order preceded by the magic words "ships company" when the motley assembly responding like Royal Marines (almost) we may have been a "party" of odds and sods to the barrack staff but we still thought of ourselves as a ships company, albeit with no ship. As we left Londonderry we did in fact become individuals waiting for another ship. I returned to Chatham Barracks where I went through the system so quickly that I still have my incomplete joining card stamped "Survivor" in red and 14 days leave.
England, United Kingdom
|HMS Redmill History|
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