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  #1  
Old 16th June 2020, 19:20
BrianC BrianC is online now
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Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

Hi guys

On 14 September 1942, Convoy PQ18 was further attacked by He111s of I./KG26. One of these was able to release its torpedo before colliding with its victim, the American freighter 'Mary Luckenbach', which blew up, killing all aboard bar one.

The survivor was described as being a black ships' steward, who was blown in the air and came down about half a mile behind the convoy - uninjured!

Perhaps one of our American experts can confirm this and provide the name of the very lucky man. Possibly a report somewhere?

Cheers
Stay safe
Brian
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Old 16th June 2020, 22:59
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Re: Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

To be sent up in the air and to travel half a mile and survive? I would like his luck!
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Old 16th June 2020, 23:11
RSwank RSwank is online now
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Re: Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

Ummmm.......These say the entire crew was killed. The ship was carrying 1000 tons of TNT according to some reports.

http://www.maritimequest.com/daily_e...luckenbach.htm

http://navylog.navymemorial.org/mary-luckenbach

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Mary_Luckenbach_(1918)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convoy_PQ_18

Last edited by RSwank; 17th June 2020 at 03:15.
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Old 17th June 2020, 11:36
BrianC BrianC is online now
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Re: Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

Thanks, guys

As mentioned in 'Flagship to Murmansk' by Lt Robert Hughes, who was Gunnery Officer aboard the cruiser 'Scylla' (page 62 paperback).

Cheers
Brian
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Old 17th June 2020, 12:31
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Re: Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

From Peter Smith's book "Arctic Victory - The Story of Convoy PQ18", there are five eye-witness accounts of the explosion of the Mary Luckenbach, by:
1. Lt Waller - (corvette Bluebell)
2. Captain Adams - (Ulster Queen)
3. Ensign Daniel Rooker - (Campfire)
4. Lt John Landers, USNR - (Virginia Dare)
5. Lt Billings - (Nathaniel Green).

Of those 5 accounts, only one - Daniel Rooker of the Campfire - records a survivor of the Mary Luckenbach being rescued. Unfortuneately, no record of the survivor's name or any mention of his unintended flight. Billings of the nearby Nathaniel Green does describe the ferocity of the explosion; and notes the damage to his own ship (due solely to the Mary Luckenback explosion) included:
- cargo boxes on deck smashed open,
- room interiors in shambles,
- cast iron ventilators buckled,
- a piece of angle iron impacting through the ammunition ready box and through a 4-in shell but missing the primer;
- aft hospital practically demolished,
- pointer platform on 4-in gun completely disappered,
- tank machine-gun ammunition (from ML) dispersed on the NG deck (together with spent shells from strafing Heinkels);
- 2-ft square side plate, found on deck.
"... It is impossible to put into words the force of the explosion or the amount of debris to hit the ship. "

Brian, there is also continual reference, by Peter Smith, to another book "Through the Waters" (By William Kimber 1956).
...geoff
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Old 17th June 2020, 12:49
RSwank RSwank is online now
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Re: Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

This link talks about the Mary Luckenbach and a ship close to it (scroll down a little) called the Nathanael Greene. The wreckage from the Luckenbach rained down on the Greene and the crew thought they were also torpedoed and started to abandon ship. "A messman (from the Greene) was reported missing, having been blown over the side from the forecastle head." Note a "messman" is also a naval rank, so he may have been part of the Naval Armed Guard on the ship or one of the regular crew trained as a loader for the gun crew.

https://books.google.com/books?id=7Z...rboard&f=false

This link on the "Nathanael Greene": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Nathanael_Greene
says one member of the Armed Guard was killed.

Other accounts note that the Scylla did take on some of the wounded men from the Nathanael Greene.

I think the "Messman" story became confused in the telling/re-telling.

Last edited by RSwank; 17th June 2020 at 16:46.
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Old 17th June 2020, 22:55
BrianC BrianC is online now
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Re: Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

Geoff and Rolland

Thanks once again for your help. Fairly conclusive evidence!

Take care
Brian
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Old 22nd June 2020, 22:54
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Re: Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

I ran across this version of events which is again slightly different. This is from the US Maritime Administration:

https://www.maritime.dot.gov/history...thaniel-greene

What is interesting here is what is said about the man who was washed overboard from the Greene.

" Two Armed Guard gunners and five merchant crewmen were injured. An additional crewman was washed overboard, although he was recovered alive. "

So perhaps the Scylla did pick up a Messman who was alive. The witness just confused which ship the Messman was from.
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Old 27th June 2020, 09:43
BrianC BrianC is online now
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Re: Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

Thanks again, Rolland.

It's a shame that we can't identify the very fortunate guy!

Stay safe
Brian
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Old 1st July 2020, 11:16
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Re: Convoy PQ18 v He111s I./KG26 mystery

PQ 18 had a rescue ship, SS Copeland, it was its duty to pick up any survivors, not an AA/light cruiser. Maybe the logbook of SS Copeland is survived.
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