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DE-68
    


    She was named for Edward M. Bates, who was born in Philadelphia 19 September 1919. He was commissioned an Ensign 14 November 1940 and was killed in action on board Arizona (BB-39) during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. Bates was launched 6 June 1943 by Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard, Hingham, MA and was sponsored by Mrs. Elizabeth Mason Bates, mother of Ensign Bates.

    The Bates was commissioned 12 September 1943.

    Like the Rich, The Bates (DE 68) was assigned to escort duty in the North Atlantic from the US to the UK. In May, 1944, she had completed a run and was tied up in London-deny, Northern Ireland, when the captain, Lt. Henry A. Wilmerding, Jr., was called to attend a briefing with the Division Commodore. On returning, he announced to his officers that the Bates would likely be a part of the Normandy invasion task force.

    Lewis M. Andrews, Jr., writing in his book "Tempest, Fire & Foe", the story of Destroyer Escorts in World War II and the men who manned them, published by Narwhal Press of Charleston, SC, picked up the story of the Bates at that point and assembles first hand accounts of her part in the invasion.

    Mr. Andrews reports that on the afternoon of 30 May, the Bates was ordered to depart immediately for Plymouth, England. Until two days prior to departing from Plymouth, the crew of the Bates had no knowledge the Bates was assigned to screen 500 yards on the starboard beam of Bayfield, the flagship of Admiral Moon, commander of the Utah beachhead. The crew felt fortunate to have the division doctor with two enlisted assistants on board.

    After midnight on 6 June, heavy enemy antiaircraft fire was clearly visible. Tracer shells marked the path of fire. From the explosion of the heavy bombs, the beach resembled a blast furnace. the Bates was detached from the main body of ships and proceeded toward the St. Marcouf Islands. The crew did not know what to expect: mines, shore based bombardments, air attack or enemy destroyers and E-boats. The islands were clearly visible, outlined against the horizon by fires from the burning beach. Suddenly, flashes of light were seen on the beach and shore batteries opened up on the Bates. As though that were a signal, the guns from ships around the Bates opened up - coming to the rescue of the Bates - the noise was music to the crew's ears.

    Around 0730, the Bates received a signal from PC-484, asking permission to come alongside and transfer casual-ties from the capture of the islands. A British landing craft came along the other side and discharged casualties.

    On the morning of 7 June, the Bates had her first air attack. A glider bomb exploded 300 yards off the starboard quarter but did no damage. This was the first time the Bates had come under air attack.
The very graphic account recorded by Mr. Andrews mentions the Nevada, the Tuscaloosa, the Jeffers, the Meredith, the Glennon and the Bayfield.

    After her trials off the coast of Normandy, the Bates made a final Atlantic convoy crossing before being converted to APD-47 for Pacific duty. On 4, December 1944, she arrived at Pearl Harbor and began training with underwater demo teams, preparing for the invasion of Iwo Jima.

    In February that year, she arrived off Iwo Jima for pre-assault reconnaissance. In March she was off Kerama Retto for underwater reconnaissance. Then, to Okinawa to assume patrol duties in the outer screen. During the first serious Kamikaze attack on 6 April, the destroyer Morris (DD-417) was hit by a suicide plane and the Bates went alongside to take on survivors. The Bates continued to be a force, patrolling, assisting other ships, screening, taking on survivors and firing at raiding planes. On 25 May, three planes approached from a 500 foot elevation. They appeared friendly at first, but were recognized and the Seiverling and Bates opened fire. One plane is reported to have passed down the port side of the Bates, banked over the ship and dropped a bomb. It was a near miss. The Bates was damaged. The starboard hull ruptured in one compartment, the #1 fire room and engine room. A third plane crashed into the starboard side of the fantail destroying the starboard stern and rupturing a fuel tank. Just about the same time, another plane crashed into the wheelhouse on the port side, spraying gasoline over the bridge.

    As the Bates was in flames and enveloped with smoke from the wheelhouse to the stern, abandon ship was ordered. It is reported no wounded men were lost in the water in spite of their having to be dropped overboard and cared for by their swimming shipmates.

    Valiant efforts by the crew to close all possible Watertight hatches and doors kept the ship afloat for over 7 hours. Depth charges were set on safety. Later, the sea-going tug Cree CAT-843 was able to get a line aboard the Bates and towed her into le Shima anchorage where she capsized. She was still burning. She sank in 20 fathoms of water. Her casualties were 23 killed, 37 wounded. That was reported to be around 30% of the her crew.

    Mr. Andrews concludes his report on the Bates by saying her crew claims she was the first to arrive off the French coast in the Normandy invasion. She screened ships, lead covering fire for commandos, dodged dive bombers and artillery shells. As an APD, with her UDT teams, she was in constant danger. At Okinawa, she went to her eternal rest with her colors still flying.

    A very impressive book on the Bates with extensive facts, details and photos has been assembled and is available from Ann Collins, 166 North St, Hingham, MA 02043.

          

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