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A "Short" History of PC-627


The 627 was built in Jeffersonville, IN, and sailed down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Algiers, the shipyard for New Orleans, to be outfitted.

The 627's first cruise hit some rough sea in the Gulf of Mexico causing most of the crew to come down with seasickness. Convoy duty from Trinidad to Guantanamo, Cuba, lasted eight months. Two liberty ships were lost to subs. PC-627 felt confident that it had damaged several subs during that time period. The 627 didn't have radar at that time to help navigate. At Norfolk, the 627 added 20mm gyroscopes and a 40mm dual guns amidship. plus two K-guns were installed as well. Capt. Bradley, plank­owner, left the ship at Norfolk. Lt. Al Helper, new C.O., sailed the 627 convoying ships from Norfolk to the Mediterranean Sea. PC-627 broke off from the convoy at Gibraltar to repair cracked cylinder liners.

One of 627's officers, Steve Stotzer, traded eggs for rum with the British naval ship tied-up alongside. Leaving Gibraltar, the 627 stopped at Beni Saf and Oran, Algeria; and Bizerte,Tunisia.

PC-627's first invasion was at Gela, Sicily. It was the mother duck showing a red stern light to the LCVP's following in the pre-dawn to the beach. Two shore-based searchlights played upon the inbound craft.

Gabe Whitcomb is given credit by Lt.j.g. Stotzer for firing the first shot of the Sicilian invasion with a 3-inch 50 blasting one of the searchlights out of commission. The second searchlight met the fury of the 627's firepower and became extinguished.

Later, skipper Al Helfer told the story in New York and it was dramatized over the radio on a Dupont sponsored program.

Gabe Whitcomb and 627 were in the subsequent invasions of Palermo, Sicily; Anzio, Italy; and southern France.

Lt. Steve Stotzer was the last skipper of PC-627 when it was "lend leased" to the Free French Navy on 10/28/44. It was renamed, Cavalier, at the ceremonies in Toulon, France. It was stricken from the French navy on 6/27/51.


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