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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Eye Witness Report Battle of the Beacon

Sept. 25th, 1946
By Wayne Pierre Sub-Lieutenant HMS Charity

1. At about 0655, numerous enemy planes were contacted by our instruments as coming towards the ship from the East, distance about 55 miles. Four Squadrons of fighters were ordered to intercept.

2. At about 0655 the entire the Combat Air Patrol was ordered out in different formations to intercept and engage the overwhelming number of enemy planes closing us. They were so busy that they could not send us reports but we intercepted their communications. It sounded like they themselves had been caught in a trap. EO reported that there were no friendly planes within 15 km of this ship.

3. From this time on the Charity and the Consort were attacked continuously by numerous enemy aircraft coming at us in groups of 9 to 12 planes on each ship. For the most part they were dive bombers. The Corvettes themselves were all under attack as well.

4. The tempo of the engagement and the maneuver of the two destroyers at high speed was such as to cause the Charity and the Consort to be separated by distances as much as two and three miles. This resulted in individual action by both ships. Three times the Consort suggested to the Charity that they close for mutual support and efforts were made to achieve this but each time the attacks prevented the ships from closing each other. The Charity closed the four small support ships several times during the engagement.

5. From 0730 to 0800 the Charity was attacked by groups of planes coming in on both bows. Three enemy planes were shot down by the Charity’s guns during this period, at times firing all guns in-various directions. The Consort, which at this time was at a distance of about three miles to the northward, was seen fighting off a number of planes by herself, several of which were seen to be destroyed. At 0800 the Consort was hit by a torpedo and all her guns put out of action by attacking aircraft. At one time toward the close of the battle when friendly planes were closing to assist us, the three support ships were prevented from shooting down two friendlies whom they had taken under fire. One plane was seen to splash inside their formation due to their own gunfire. However, I am not able to give an accurate account of their action. They were very helpful in picking up my crew who were in the water, in coming alongside and removing wounded and in helping us to pump.

6. From this time on, the Charity received the bulk of the attacks and action became furious with all guns firing at planes on all sides of the ship. The EO reported that the radar scope was filled with enemy planes. The Commanding Officer saw that the situation was becoming too much for one ship to handle and he requested that the Combat Air Patrol to close the formation and assist us. With outstanding courage, our planes fearlessly closed the ships and attacked enemy planes. They achieved great results and when the Charity was finally helpless in the water, our crew was sparked with renewed courage by the sight of our airmen trying to drive off the remaining enemy aircraft.

7. For 10 minutes the Charity fought off the enemy singlehanded, being separated from the Consort, which was out of action, by three miles and from the four small support ships by two miles. Finally, at 0920, ten enemy planes which had surrounded the Charity, four on the starboard bow under fire by the main battery and machine guns, four on the port bow under fire by the forward machine guns, and two astern under fire by the after machine guns, attacked the ship simultaneously. As a result of this attack, the Charity was (1) hit by a bomb aft (2) by a bomb amid ships.

8. The ship was badly holed and immediately both engine rooms and one fire room were flooded and the ship settled down and listed rapidly. All 4.5-inch guns were out of action, a fire was raging aft of number two stack, ammunition was exploding, and the entire ship was engulfed in a thick black smoke which forced the crew to seek safety, some by jumping over the side, others by crowding forward and awaiting orders. The ship was helpless to defend herself and at this time the situation appeared hopeless. The Commanding Officer received reports from the Chief Engineer and the Damage Control Officer which indicated that the main spaces were flooded and that the ship was rapidly developing into a condition which would capsize her. The exploding ammunition and the raging fire appeared to be extremely dangerous. The engineers were securing the forward boilers to prevent them from blowing up. The order "Prepare to abandon Ship" was given and life rafts and floats were put over the side. A party of about fifty men and officers was being organized to make a last fight to save the ship and the remainder of the crew and the wounded were put over into the water.

9. From this point on, a truly amazing, courageous and efficient group of men and officers with utter disregard for their own personal safety approached the explosions and the fire with hoses and for fifteen minutes kept up this work. The torpedoes were jettisoned, weights removed from the starboard side, and finally the fire was extinguished and the list and flooding controlled and the ship was saved. Although the ship was still in an extremely dangerous condition, one fire room bulkhead held and she was finally towed safely.

10. The total number of enemy planes destroyed by the Charity in this period of one hour and thirty-five minutes of continual firing was 17.

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