Tough Training

Destruction Along the River

“We did more damage that night than all the Germans did in the invasion.”

"There were so many screw-ups that you can’t count them. I mean, we crashed into piers. One time we were on the Dart River, being as efficient as we were, our propellers got hooked up with some of these buoys and bent them badly. And there was no room to have them repaired because we were getting close to the invasion, and so what we did was we ran it upriver. The Dart River has a tide of 27 feet, which is 27 feet from high tide to low tide. So we took the ship and we ran it upriver, and we beached it. And then when the tide went out, we went out to take off the propellers and replace them. The problem was they were stuck on very firmly, and we couldn’t get them off. By the time we finally got them loose, we didn’t have time to put the new ones back on. The tide is coming in. So now the boat raises up as the tide comes… We tied off to trees and to everything imaginable, but the boat rises up and as it approaches high tide, the boat goes back to where it stopped rising. Now when it turns around, we’re coming, and we’re coming very, very fast. No screws on the ship now. First the lines are short. Ping! Ping! Ping! They break. Now we’re moving faster and faster all the time. We drop the anchor. The anchor table: ping! We go right down. We’re headed towards the entire convoy. Well, let me tell you. We did more damage that night than all the Germans did in the invasion. We really did. I think we hit 8 or 9 ships. You’ve got a big steel bow standing out there, and then the ship is careening and turning and we’re knocking off stanches that hold the bridge up on ship and gouging another. But again this is the kinds of things that would happen."