Loss of the 83415
James C. Maburn, CMoMM
This is a story about the
83415 during and after D-Day as told to his daughter, Mary Anne - August, 2005.
The CG83415 was used for sub hunting and convoy along the East Coast. In January '44 we were ordered to New York, were hoisted aboard a liberty ship along with 3 other 83 footers. We landed in London, England, unloaded, degaussed, gassed up and headed south after dark to Poole, England. (There were a total of sixty 83 footers in Poole over a period of time.)
On June 4th, 1944, we moved out to our convoy. The seas were rough and the convoy could only move as fast as the slowest ship. We were ordered back to port because of the weather. Late on the 5th, we started out again. Our convoy arrived at 7 am on the 6th as part of the second wave of the invasion. Our station was to patrol the outer edge of Omaha Beach looking for E boats and subs. All we could hear about the invasion was that they were taking a beating on shore. The next morning, all was OK. That night we escorted hospital ships back to England. We got more supplies and returned to France.
On one escort trip, we lost a cylinder on the port engine. Next morning we were told to not stop working until it was repaired and running. We left with the next convoy on June 18th, arriving the 19th at the French coast. It was storming. The night of the 20th it was bad - there were gale force winds with blinding rain. We tied to a barge with our anchor. The anchor wench broke loose from the deck and we were taking a beating. We cut loose from the barge because we were told it was full of gasoline. We pulled away and started to follow another 83 footer. The waves were 10-12 feet high. The lead 83' went through on top of a wave. As we came through following them, we were on the down side of the wave and went down on an object, knocking a hole in the bottom of the boat. We stuck to the object, but the second wave broke us loose from the object. Thank goodness for sealed compartments since the engine room stayed dry. This gave us the power to keep searching for a place to tie up. By daylight on the 21st we spotted a steel floating pier. As we tried to tie up to the pier, the waves were beating us against the pier, which knocked holes in the bulkhead, causing the power generator to break loose and fall onto the deck. The crew tried to inflate the life rafts on the deck, but the rafts inflated on the corner of the ammunition storage box, punching holes in the rafts. Finally, the last raft was thrown into the water, inflated and 10 crew members climbed aboard. The skipper, boatswain and I stayed aboard to destroy equipment and confidential papers. A crew member that had reached shore in the life raft got hold of an amphibious duck and came back to pick up the three of us. By this time, the boat had sunk so far, that I stepped off the bow of the boat directly into the duck. I was the last one off the 83415. We were put up in pup tents on top of the cliffs at Omaha Beach and waited for transportation back to Poole, England.
[Note: The 83415 was one of two 83 footers lost in a storm after D-Day.]
Once in Poole, I was assigned to the repair unit. In November '44, three men and I were sent to Cherbourg, France to repair boats kept in France. There were 2 boats kept in Cherbourg and 2 in Le Havre. Some time before Christmas, one boat from Cherbourg and one from Le Havre were sent home.
Some time before Feb, 1945, the CMoMM on the 83408 came down with appendicitis so I replaced him. About June, thirty 83 footers and base personnel were returned to Long Island for re-outfitting for the invasion of Japan. When the war ended, the 83408 was towed to Staten Island and the last I saw of her, she was just a hull with white lead and boards covering all the holes in her bottom.