CONTRIBUTING CAUSE: "FRIENDLY PLANES - DO NOT FIRE" VIA TBS
Monday, April 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Jim W. Dean of Veterans Today
One Torpedo – 7000 Tons of Explosives – 580 Men Gone
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The SS Paul Hamilton with lots of added gun tubs for convoy combat
A WWII Fifty Year Secrecy Classification Buries 580 Families at Sea
” Friendly Planes – Do Not Fire” … a Personal Story
With special thanks to Helen Jones, Chuck Wales, Wayne Bates and my mother…all survivors
… by Jim W. Dean, VT Editor
Mother at 85…and Chuck Wales at 89
This is the third anniversary that we have run the SS Paul Hamilton tragedy, the largest loss of life on a Liberty Ship during WWII.
Each year a few more families of the 580 killed find the the article and contact me, most have know nothing but that date their ancestor was killed.
Bob Jones widow Helen passed on all the the archival material they dug out after the 50 year classification had run out. I was in the unique position of course to publish it here, and will every year as we continue to find more and more families.
The surprise this year was to have the radio operator, Wayne Witt Bates, on the USS Mosley contact me with the startling revelation that when the torpedo bombers were coming in on a bow attack they received a message of “Friendly Planes…Do not fire.” This first wave went by the Mosley unmolested and got the Paul Hamilton…the fortune of war. But in all the post action reports, this key radio message ‘fell through the cracks’.
So we say thanks to Al Gore for inventing the Internet, without which we would never have been able to do any of this. It is all amazing teamwork from people who care, and that is a set up for a favor I want to ask you all.
We have been posting queries on surname genealogy forums fishing to find more families of the 580 men, but the initial test got no bites. The KIA link has all the names in alphabetical order. If any of you readers have any of these surnames among your family let’s see if we can let more of these families know what really happened, and why.
After the first publishing in 2011 I had been contacted by Chuck Wales, formerly the Navy Lt. and torpedo officer on the USS Lansdale who was also torpedoed and sunk during the same convoy attack.
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