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Recollections of a SM/3
Bob Darrah

    We all seem to remember the tight security the last few days prior to our setting off from Plymouth, England. Then, joining the other ships headed for the invasion.

    After we joined the invasion force, I spent very little time off the signal bridge. We were all tense due to the fact this was a new experience to us. When night arrived and we approached France we could see fire along the horizon which became more visible the closer we got to France. All that time (after dark) we had aircraft overhead almost constantly. As best as I can remember, we first saw bombers by the hundreds. Later and as we got closer to the coast of France we had what as I recall as C47's pulling gliders almost as thick as the bombers. From all the fire I saw I couldn't imagine how anyone could be alive where the troops would land. (We all know how mistaken I was).

    Early in the morning (still dark) we arrived at our designated position to the other ships. This was to establish an anti E-Boat and submarine screen outside the Nevada, the Tuscaloosa, the Quincy and a British, I believe, battleship. From this point on, we on the signal bridge had a front row seat to the largest show ever put on!

    I remember the first salvo fired by the Nevada. I thought the concussion was going to rock us over. Later I discovered that was from their 5" guns. When they fired their (I think) 14" guns, it was unbelievable.

    One of my jobs was to be in the motor whaleboat when it was put over the side for any reason. When the plane crashed off our starboard bow I went in the boat with Bruno, Westcott, Calabrese and Lt. Ross. We were unable to retrieve the pilot. (I have my own feelings on this futile attempt).

    Our next assignment was on June 8th, when we were sent in to assist the Glennon. The whaleboat was put over the side again with the same crew. I believe we were along side the Glennon when the Rich signaled us to return to the ship. When we were partway back a mine exploded off the port side of the Rich. We circled around to the boat falls on the starboard side amid-ships. While we were tied up there a second mine went off and blew the fantail off. At this point we saw white smoke emit from the ship. I felt it was smoke from our smoke screen generators. I now have learned there was a white smoke from our torpedo tubes. The smoke could have been from either or both. As I remember we had a lot of smoke by the after section of the ship where it was blown apart. We cut loose from the boat falls and went back by the fantail in the smoke. This is where we picked up Bob Aluni and Joe Penner. I think they were the only two we found in the water.

    While we were back there the third mine exploded amid-ships which was the final blow to our ship. We went back to the boatfalls and climbed aboard and assisted as best we could in getting everyone off who was alive. The PT boats were tied up alongside and their crews came aboard and worked with us in saving everyone we could.

    I have my watch that I had on the morning we were sunk. It stopped running at 8:55. I don't know if it stopped when I went into the water or if it ran until evening. The 8:55 isn't far from the time the Rich went down. This is the best I can remember after the 51 years.

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