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A Whale(boat) of a Tale
Robert N. Bruno


 


    My name is Robert N. Bruno. I was seaman 1/C aboard the USS Rich DE 695. I was assigned as bowhook on the motor whaleboat. While off the coast of France we were ordered by the captain to proceed to the USS Glennon to render assistance and pick up survivors as they had hit a mine. We were told they did not need any help and we started to return to the Rich. 

    On the way back the Rich hit a mine which blew the stern off. As we came around the starboard side, all I remember is that another mine went off under the bow. The whaleboat crew went aboard to help the people on deck. I remember going up to the flying bridge and saw Commander Pearson tangled up in the mast and wires with his legs broken. I couldn't help at all as he was all tangled up as was the chief yeoman. I couldn't do anything so I ran down and started picking up sailors, I don't even remember who they were, and put them in the water. I was going to put them in the whaleboat but it was still tied to the ship and went down with the ship!

    As we were doing that, Cunningham and Trinceri and I were the last to leave the ship as far as I know on the starboard side. The ship was sinking with only three feet above the water and someone yelled jump. so we all jumped into the water. We had to get away before the ship sunk so we swam toward the PT boats. The Fireman Trinceri could not swim and did not have a lifebelt so I had to give him mine. 

    We climbed aboard the PT and watched the ship go down. The oil slicks were all over the water. I don't know how the rest of the crew were picked up but there were PT boats all around us. Next they put us on a LST hospital ship and dropped me off at an Army Hospital. I didn't see anyone. I was the only Navy man in the whole hospital! I don't know what happened to the other guys, what they did with them. And that is it I guess, then I went back to the States for a survivors' leave. That's what I remember.

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