Just caught your great page.
I was in the UGS 40 convoy. I have been regaling my friends about shooting down two JU-88s during that attack.
To set the stage:
In 1941 I was a freshman at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana. I was also one of 165 members of the first NROTC class. To cut to the chase, our class was commissioned earlier than scheduled, in February 1944. By that time the class had been whittled down to about 85. At the time, the U.S. Navy had a policy of putting new Ensigns to sea to get their sea legs, prior to additional training. In my case, I drew orders to the USS WALTER S. BROWN, DE 258. When I got to its home port, New York City, it has just left for the Mediterranean with a convoy. So I was "stuck" in the Big Apple for 6 weeks. Imagine being stuck in New York City for 6 weeks, a single naval officer! I became a denizen of jazz venues on 52nd Street, and attended every live big band stage show there was at the Paramount Theatre and elsewhere. During the day I packed a .45 and a chained-to-the-wrist brief case, performing courier duties in the 3rd Naval District out of 90 Church Street.
At last my ship arrived at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Down to the real business. We left for Norfolk in late April, where we were assigned as part of the screen for UGS 40. As you know from the account, we were attacked at dusk on May 11. Since I was a new Ensign who wasn't expected to know much, they put me in the 1.1" director tub, where I had a ringside seat for the whole affair. So as to avoid being only a spectator, I prevailed on a Gunner's Mate to issue me a Springfield rifle. (I was Captain of the rifle team at ND). I had ample opportunities to fire on German planes, and modestly admit to shooting down two JU-88s with head shots to the pilots. (I jest). All I remember now is that it was one wild night--gunfire all around me, and many flares, theirs I expect.
One more thing to finish: When we came back out of the Mediterranean, we were detached to assist with a torpedoed ship, the USS BARR, DE 576, which we escorted to Casablanca (By that time they had tired of me on the Brown, and I had been assigned to the USS EVARTS, DE 5). The interesting thing is that the BARR had its stern blown off by a German acoustic torpedo, which homed in on the noise made by the screws. Why do I mention this? Because the After Officer's Quarter were right over the screws, and that's where I bunked.
I am attaching an e-mail I sent to the son of one of the officers on the BROWN, Lt. Ned Keiter. It has some photos I took of UGS 40 and one of me on the dock at Bizerte with some BROWN sailors and a light tank.
John: I noticed your photo credits on the DE258 page of NavSource. Mike Smolinsky was kind enough to act as a go-between. I served on the Brown on a "get acquainted-with-the-Navy" program for new Ensigns, from April '44 thru May, and then I was transferred to the Evarts for the return trip to the States. (much wiser, thanks to the German air attack on convoy UGS-40). I took some photos which I am attaching. That's me on the dock at Bizerte, with a Chrysler built light tank, and some crew members. I wasn't on board long enough to get very well acquainted with anyone. They stuck me in the After Officer's Quarters and told me not to come out unless they called me. Alan Guard
Here are 5 photos I took in May/June 1944 while screening convoy UGS 40. A couple of the photos may be the return convoy GUS 40--they seem to be riding high. The one of me and some crewmen from the BROWN was taken on the dock in Bizerte, alongside a Chrysler-built light tank. Alan Guard (Age 82 and holding)
USS Walter S. Brown DE 258, after May 11, 1944 (depicting the success of USS Walter S. Brown after the air attack on Convoy UGS-40, on the 11th. of May 1944)
back to letters index