The Loss of PT509
A Special thanks to Shelton B. Bosley, Robert Sherertz, Mike Fisher, Denise Brumm and The National Archives
PT 509, Utah Beach 6th June 1944
On the 8th of August PT Boat Squadron, 34 and the USS Maloy was given a mission to disrupt the German convoys running between Guernsey and Jersey. Intelligence suggested that high ranking military personnel and supplies were aboard, in fact, they were moving 15cm K18 Artillery Guns from Guernsey to Jersey. The German convoy was led by the Kriegsmarine M4626 commanded by Lieutenant Cremer. It was made up of two freighters Lena and Robert Muller 8, and an escort of five other heavily armed M-Class ships including the M4621 & M4622.
On the 9th of August Two PT boats PT508 & PT509 were on station 8 miles southwest of Jersey "Barracuda". They should have been joined by PT506, but it had broken down. Three PT boats PT 500, 503 and 507 took a north station "Tunny". The USS Maloy was Radar tracking the German convoy.
At 0454 the USS Maloy picks up the German convoy. At 0530 the Maloy vectored the northern group "Tunny" to attack the convoy moving south toward La Corbiere, the southwestern point of Jersey. The boats, running through a pea-soup fog, were unable to see the enemy and fired their torpedoes by radar. With no evidence of a hit they withdraw.
Radar plot from the USS Maloy (DE-791)
At 05:51 the South patrol "Barracuda" PT508 & PT509 were vectored in by the USS Malloy to attack the German convoy with torpedoes. At 06:08 Lieutenant Crist, of PT 509, led "Baracouda" in through fog that limited visibility to 150 yards. PT 509 released one torpedo one-quarter mile off the enemy’s port bow. PT 508’s radar was not working and the minesweepers were not visible in the fog, so the 508 fired no torpedoes. The boats circled and went in for another attack. PT 508 still did not sight the enemy but launched one torpedo on radio orders from Lieutenant Crist, who said the enemy ships were dead ahead. As the 508 turned away there was heavy firing between the 509 and a minesweeper on her port bow. The 508 could not engage the enemy immediately since the 509 was directly in her line of fire. Crist requested an independent gunnery attack to get in close and fire. PT509 burst through the fog all guns blazing at the German Convoy. The M4626 sighted PT509 and opened fire, the commander then turned his ship on to a collision course with 509 to protect the convoy. M4626's guns hit the 509's wheelhouse causing 509 to veer into the side of the M4626. The collision broke the 509 which was now on fire with the motors on full power pinning it to the M4626. A battle between the surviving crew on the 509 and the M4626 ragged on until the 509 guns were silenced. Germans boarded the 509 to extinguish the fire. At this point, the motors of 509 failed and it detached from the M4626. Kriegsmarine Leutnant Hans Constable who had jumped onboard 509, sees a badly injured Radarman Joh Page, he then helped pull him aboard the M4626. There were no other survivors.
PT 508 heard the 509 message by radio, "I am directly in the middle," but when she had circled to port, the crew could find any trace of the 509. The 508 rejoined Maloy at 0710.
Radar plot from the USS Maloy (DE-791)
At 0724 Lt H J Sherertz, Squadron 34 commander, left the USS Maloy and went aboard PT503 and with PT507 went to search for PT509. At 0800 PT507 & PT503 closed in on the Minesweepers just outside of St Helier, the fog was still too thick for an accurate torpedo attack. PT503 fires her last torpedo at 150 yards and both PT's open fire on them with all guns, scoring many hits on the minesweeper’s bridge structure, and after taking lethal heavy fire from the Germans they retired using smoke cover to return to the USS Maloy.
USS Maloy (DE-791)
Only one crew member of PT 509 survived, Radarman John L. Page. He was rescued by the Germans and given first aid aboard the M4626. At St Helier Page was asked questions by the German Field Police. Page refused to answer except to give name, rate, serial number. He was then taken to hospital and his wounds were treated. The German convoy had 41 wounded, four dead and three German minesweepers, the M4621, M4622 and M4626 had been so severely damaged that they were taken out of service.
Page remained in the hospital between the 9th August 44 to the middle of January 45 with leg, back, and chest wounds. Page stated that German surgeon was excellent, but the hospital was very dirty.
Below is a full-time line of the battle researched from the Squadron 34 War Diaries
8th of August 1944
17:07 from Cherbourg USS Maloy, PT500, PT503, PT506, PT507, PT508 & PT509 get underway (speed 20 knots).
19:05 Visibility drops to 1,000 yards
19:26 PT506 Returns to Cherbourg due to a damaged propeller
22:50 Visibility drops to 400 yards
23:20 Speed drops to 10 knots patrolling between Guernsey and Jersey
9th August 1944
03:20 Visibility drops under 200 yards
04:50 the USS Maloy picks up radar contact of 6 M-class Minesweepers heading to La Corbiere (speed 14 knots).
05:30 Tunny Group (PT500, 503 & 507) vectored to enemy shipping by USS Maloy
05:35 Tunny Group fire torpedoes no results observed, firing was made entirely on radar information due to 200-yard visibility in very dense fog.
05:51 Barracuda Group (PT508 & PT509) were vectored in to attack the German convoy with torpedoes.
06:08 Barracuda Group fire torpedoes
06:10 Barracuda Group report that an enemy force of 6 ships was firing at them, PT508 peeled off to starboard and directed PT509 to follow.
06:16 PT509 reported by radio “I am in the middle of them”
06:17 PT509 vanishes
06:19 to 07:00 Attempts made to contact PT509 by radio, USS Maloy closed into three miles from the coast of Jersey but cannot locate her on the radar.
07:10 PT’s rendezvous with USS Maloy
07:21 The loss of PT509 is reported to CTF125 (Commander Task Force 125)
07:24 Lt H J Sherertz, Squadron 34 commander, left the USS Maloy and went aboard PT503 to search the beach area of Jersey for the missing boat. PT507 joined them.
07:25 USS Maloy, PT508 & 500 search west
08:00 PT507 & PT503 report enemy contact
08:10 PT507 & PT503 closed in on Minesweepers just outside of St Helier, the fog was still too thick for an accurate torpedo attack. PT503 fires her last torpedo at 150 yards and both PT's open fire on the ships. The ships returned fire hitting the PT's with heavy shelling causing heavy casualties. Using smoke cover the PT's return to USS Maloy.
08:20 PT507 & PT503 rejoin the group, Maloy ready a fire and rescue party as smoke can be seen from PT503
08:23 PT503 came alongside USS Maloy and Casualties removed.
09:26 Visibility rapidly increasing a course is set for Cherbourg
09:50 Request for Air Search for PT509 sent & Report made to CTF125 concerning ETA, casualties and requesting a doctor to meet them.
10:39 Plymouth Air Patrol (Sunderland Flying-boat) requested to search for PT509
11:00 Albright dies of Multiple wounds despite the efforts of the medics
13:00 PT 500,503,507,508 are ordered to return to base independently
13:10 USS Maloy stops so PT501 can transfer Lt Kurrie, Hospital corpsmen
13:12 Boat underway to Cherbourg 23 knots
13:15 Albright & Brumm pronounced dead
14:00 Anchored in Cherbourg to transfer casualties
14:13 Operation Complete
PT509: Probably 2 torpedoes and gunfire
PT500: 2 Torpedos
PT508: 1 torpedo
PT503: 2 torpedoes
• 400 rounds 50cal
• 14 rounds 37mm
• 20 rounds 40mm
PT507: 1 Torpedo
• 156 rounds 50cal
• 27 rounds 37mm
• 45 rounds 40mm
10 of August 1944
An aircraft in search of possible wreckage of the PT 509 sighted a body later identified as that of Walter P. Wypick, Gunner's Mate 3rd Class of the PT 509
20th of August 1944
A shrapnel and gun-fire riddled portion of the PT 509 was found by Squadron 34 afloat in the Channel.
The photos below are of recovered parts from PT509 as well as some of the torpedos fired that day by PT503
1st of September 1944
14:00 USS Maloy Stops German Hospital ship Bordeaux travelling from St Helier to Ile de Cezembre.
17:00 USS Maloy ordered to take the Bordeaux into custody until British guard arrive
19:10 Custody turned over to HMS Ulysses, Bordeaux crew ordered to sail to Cherbourg.
From this capture, the first news from Jersey of the fate of the crew of PT509 was heard. The British questioned the Germans who said that a US boat rammed a VP or vorpostenboat (converted fishing boat) one mile east of Corbiere. The crew of the US boat boarded the fishing boat engaging the Germans with small arms. They then embarked back on their boat and continued the action. The US boat finally sank and one, possibly two survivors were landed at St Helier by the VP boat. Page remained a POW on Jersey until the Liberation of Jersey on the 9th of May 1945.
Below is a photo of the German Hospital ship the Bordeaux, while docked under British guard in Cherbourg.
Below is a photo of the German M4626
Below is a photo of the German M4621
The men of Squadron 34 who lost their lives in this Battle
The men of the German Convoy who lost their lives in this Battle