© 2019 Jersey War Tours

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.

 

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".

 

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 

Ammunition expended:

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

Tablets of the Missing
Brittany American Cemetery

Montjoie Saint Martin, France

Lieutenant

U.S. Navy

Service # O-103559

Harry M. Crist

PT 509

Tablets of the Missing
Brittany American Cemetery

Montjoie Saint Martin, France

Lieutenant Junior Grade

U.S. Navy

Service #O-253465

James M. Mathes

PT 509

Tablets of the Missing
Brittany American Cemetery

Montjoie Saint Martin, France

Lieutenant Junior Grade

U.S. Navy

Service #O-281555

John K. Pavlis

PT 509

TBC

Lieutenant

U.S. Navy

Service # 8334957

William S. Ausley

PT 509

Tablets of the Missing
Brittany American Cemetery

Montjoie Saint Martin, France

Gunner's Mate Third Class

U.S. Navy

Service # 8235483

Alfred A. Ricci

PT 509

Tablets of the Missing
Brittany American Cemetery

Montjoie Saint Martin, France

Gunner's Mate Third Class

U.S. Navy

Service # 8098349

Walter P. Wypick

PT 509

Plot C Row 15 Grave 46
Normandy American Cemetery

Colleville-sur-Mer, France

Motor Machinist's Mate 

U.S. Navy

Service # 8216961

Richard E. Horsfield 

PT 509

TBC

Motor Machinist's Mate 

U.S. Navy

Service # 8616195

Marvin W. Lossin

PT 509

Tablets of the Missing
Brittany American Cemetery

Montjoie Saint Martin, France

Ship's Cook Second Class

U.S. Navy

Service # 2455673

Kenneth R. Line

PT 509

Tablets of the Missing
Brittany American Cemetery

Montjoie Saint Martin, France

Quartermaster

 U.S. Navy

Service # 6488239

Edward C. Thale

PT 509

Tablets of the Missing
Brittany American Cemetery

Montjoie Saint Martin, France

Gunner's Mate 

 U.S. Navy

Service # 7071934

Charles A Kornak

PT 509

TBC

Radarman 

 U.S. Navy

Service # 9422432

Darrel A Bricker

PT 509

TBC

Torpedoman's Mate 

 U.S. Navy

Service # 7088509

Rudolf W. Schaffroth

PT 509

Tablets of the Missing
Brittany American Cemetery

Montjoie Saint Martin, France

Radioman Second Class

U.S. Navy

Service # 8334912

 Tony S. Reynolds

PT 509

Plot F Row 26 Grave 32
Normandy American Cemetery

Colleville-sur-Mer, France

Motor Machinist's Mate 2nd

U.S. Navy

Service # 8684276

Elmer F. Albright

PT 503

TBC

Gunner's Mate 3rd Class

U.S. Navy

Service # 8590783

Boyd W. Brumm

PT 503

The men of the German Convoy who lost their lives in this Battle

Hans Buchholz

Chief Boatswain

M4626

German cemetery at Mont-des-Huisnes, near Mont St Michel, Normandy, France

Heinz Hildebrandt
Leading Machinist

M4626

German cemetery at Mont-des-Huisnes, near Mont St Michel, Normandy, France

Herman Reinhardt

Leading Seaman

M4622

German cemetery at Mont-des-Huisnes, near Mont St Michel, Normandy, France

Herman Schwen

Battalion 319

M4622

German cemetery at Mont-des-Huisnes, near Mont St Michel, Normandy, France