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The personal experience and account of
Fred J. Mallgrave

(Engineering Dept.)


General quarters sounded for the second time on the morning of 25 October at approximately 0645. The after engine room (control) was manned by Chief Engineer and myself and regular G.Q. crew – KALBE, W. CMM; HEALD, CWT; LONG, WT1/c; CHEFLIN, WT2c; BOREN, WT3c; TEULKER, F1c; TOVERA, F1c, who was control talker; DEVINE, WT3c, 2JV Talker; PERSON, R, MM2c; throttleman and 1JV Talker NASLUND, WT3c; COWLES, MM3c oiler; ROSS MM1c; LEMIRANDE MM3c condensate man; BENCE H. MM2c, utility, WRIGHT, WT2c, evaporator and also CRISWELL MoMM2c and SMEHYL MM1c on H.P. air compressor and electrician mate on #3 generator.

In charge forward engine room Lt. Hartin and Machinist Buford, Chief Petty Officers present, Thumb, CMM and Pilgrim, CWT. I cannot recall all the other personnel present.

At the time this second G.Q. was sounded we were making 127 rpm on both engines. All boilers were steaming and #1 and #3 generators were carrying electrical load.

Approximately immediately after I arrived and had relieved Ensign Johnson the open bridge called down to make all possible speed at the same time ringing up “flank” on engine order telegraph. Within 2 minutes both engines were turning up speeds from 172 to 177 rpm as we were zigzagging the revolutions on each shaft varied. We continued this speed as long as possible. Gun fire from enemy ships could be easily felt below and caused ratting of metal. As it was reported that enemy ships were closing, the bridge called down asking if we were making all possible speed and to no mind about smoke. I asked the person on the 21mc for permission to light off smoke screen burners. Permission was granted. All smoke screen burners were let off (1 each boiler). After laying smoke screen for some time the forward engine told us they were cutting down on oil to smoke screen due to the fact that it was interfering with steam pressure. The after engine room did same thing.

At 0820 the forward engine room reported a hit and that water was coming in. A few minutes later they reported water up to deck plates level and reported that they were securing at about 0825. They had secured. Communication was out between engine rooms. Steam pressure on forward boilers was about 325, which showed she was blowing safety valves.

Since #1 generator supplied the forward part of the ship there was no power in the forward part of the ship for a few minutes then all load was switched to #3 generator after we were asked over 3 JV circuit (electrician) if we wanted to light off #2 generator. We told them no.

Somewhere right after fwd engine room secured there was a report the bulkhead 100 had split. Between fwd engine room and machine shop.

At sometime between 0835 and 0840 a shell came thru skin of ship in after engine room on port side at frame 123. This shell pierced boiler #3 casing and went into generating tubes. It knocked quick closing valve handle off of boiler #3 so that fuel oil throttle valve had to be used to close of oil supply (BOREN WT3c was firing this boiler). Upon seeing water coming in rapidly 1 hole was about 6 to 8” round, I ordered secure all around and to abandon engine room. At this time power was off due to no steam to #3 generator but emergency battery circuit did operate overhead lamps and there was no steam line breaks at all and practically all personnel left by ordinary ladders to engine room and upon reaching 2nd deck went up ladder alongside uptake hangar deck where they scattered to abandon ship about 0845.

There were no personnel even injured upon leaving engine room. Chief Heald lifted safety valves by hand before leaving.

When water was reported rising in forward engine room we in the after engine room started our bilge pump and pulled a suction on the drain well to help keep water down.

Further information in after engine room can be gotten from Lt. Comdr. Sanders.

Information on forward engine room from Thumb CMM.

Upon reaching the hangar deck I felt deck oily and wet (very slippery) and also fire alarm was ringing. I asked someone what the bell was ringing for, he said it was abandon ship. The curtain across the hangar deck was drawn closed. The sprinkling system was not on as fire main pressure was off.

I made my way to quarterdeck and just crouched behind ventilation trunk and explosion occurred near #1 sponson and a large amount of red hot sparks flew. I didn’t turn around to see damage but went onto #3 sponson where I inflated my life belt and helped Topczewski MM2c cut loose the cargo net to climb down. He and I climbed down and had to drop about 4’ to water’s edge. All other personnel leaving #3 sponson jumped overboard.

I swam about from #3 sponson around fantail until I caught a life raft with Lt(jg) Lynch. After resting I got back into water and hung on. There were several badly wounded about on various life rafts and morphine was administered to those who needed it as long as supply lasted. We kept assembling rafts and tried to paddle away to avoid suction of sinking ship. At about 0908 by my watch ship went under very slowly. Only 1 underwater explosion was felt.

After the ship sunk we tried to organize a little better by tying rafts together and helping the injured. One man, Muniz, E WT2c was continually groaning and vomiting. He kept falling off the raft and nearly drowning. I asked him what was the trouble and he said he had been hit in the stomach. I did not see any hit or blood nor did I investigate any further. He did have a few hits in his hand. Finally he was noticed to be dead and on examination was pronounced dead by executive officer and buried. A man named Cowles MM3c had his arm practically blown off at the bicep. He had a tourniquet (a belt) above the wound. However, he must have lost a great deal of blood. He later died and was buried.

The executive officer swam out and brought in two lone swimmers to our rafts and Barrows (ens) swam out and brought in a lone survivor in a rubber life raft.

Near evening a second group of survivors joined us. This group included the Captain. We all tried to gather as night fell. A man named Smith GM3c Div badly burned died and during the night was set adrift. All night we drifted and all personnel were very well behaved. I recall another man buried at sea just before they set Smith adrift. The next day early we examined our emergency rations. There was mp water as bung was broken. The men started to eat biscuits and malted tablets in spite of orders otherwise. Small hammer head sharks were constantly about but were more nuisance than harm. About 0900 on the morning of 26 October Laurn WT1c was pronounced dead and buried. We then saw mountain in the distance and we started to paddle towards it and at evening the mountains were clearly visible. At this point we ran across Lt. Comdr Waring and as darkness fell we surrounded the cork net with life rafts to protect the wounded from sharks. It was about this time we saw a Jap. Twin engine bomber. We also saw three (3) different very pistol flares indicating the other survivors and then the lights of the rescuing vessel. In the meantime, most of the men went slightly “haywire” while waiting. I was picked up by LCI #71.





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