Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hurricanes Inbound!!!

14 May 1942
2:54 local time Brest, France
The British are getting bolder in their aircraft attacks! Just as we were slipping out of our berth two aircraft, presumably on a recon mission, flew overhead. The night sky lit up with AA fire from several ships lying at anchor. You have to admire a pilot who would take on such a mission with little hope of return.

20:58 local time
Two pairs of Hurricanes were spotted swooping down on our position breaking the peace of a warm Spring sunset. After the morning raid I was expecting more air traffic and had already posted men on the flak gun in case of attack. What I didn't expect was a flight of this size and speed. The first two came roaring in and our guns lit up damaging the leader and forcing him to peel away from his attack. His wingman pressed on though and unleashed the fury of his machine guns on us. The flak gun was knocked out and men scattered about the deck. We grabbed our wounded and hauled them inside as I ordered a crash dive; hoping that the hull had not been pierced.
To everyone's relief no depth charges had been dropped, though enough damage was wrought with their guns alone. Sadly, Sr. Seaman Egon Bahn, who was manning the flak, was killed. It is the price you pay in war, but nevertheless it stabs at your heart when one of your own men fall.
We surfaced for repairs under the cover of darkness to resume the long trek out to our patrol area.

15 May 1942
00:45 local time
Another aircraft was spotted, a biplane. The crew had the flak operational again and managed to take her down. Bittersweet vengeance for the sailor we had just buried at sea.

2:00 local time
The Swordfish pilot must have managed to send a message before going down. Two Sunderlands moved in on our position as we were completing repairs. The leader was able to drop a string of depth charges before we could all get inside and Sr. Seaman Axel Bauer was caught in the blast when one exploded too close to the boat. Another crash dive and some erratic manoveurs brouight us back to the relative safety of the dark sea. For a tense hour we all sat in silence listening to the explosions fade and diminish while reflecting on the two young men resting in the deep.

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