The Loss of PT509
Action off Jersey 8th & 9th of August 1944
Squadron 34 & The USS Maloy
On the 8th of August PT Boat Squadron, 34 was given a mission to disrupt the German minesweepers running between Guernsey and Jersey. Intelligence presumed some high ranking military personnel and supplies were aboard, in fact they were moving Artillery Guns from Guernsey to Jersey. Two PT boats PT508 & PT509 were on station 8 miles southwest of Jersey "Barracuda". They should have been joined by PT506, but it had broken down. Three PT boats PT 500, 503 and 507 took a north station "Tunny". At 0454 the USS Maloy picks up 6 M-class Minesweepers. At 0535 and in thick fog, the north patrol "Tunny" moved in and attacked the convoy with torpedoes. Under fire, the three US boats return to the USS Maloy.
Radar plot from the USS Maloy
At 05:51 the South patrol "Barracuda" PT508 & PT509 were vectored in to attack the German convoy with torpedoes. At 06:08 "Barracuda" launched their torpedoes. At 06:10 both boats received fire from the convoy. The radio transmissions from PT509 and observations from PT508 confirm that PT509 ran into the centre of the convoy and was immediately fired upon by the Minesweepers. PT508 peeled off to starboard and directed PT509 to follow him out. The last radio transmission from PT509 was “we are in the middle of them”. At this point, PT509 disappeared from the radar screen of the USS Maloy.
Radar plot from the USS Maloy
At 0724 Lt H J Sherertz, Squadron 34 commander, left the USS Maloy and went aboard PT503 and with PT507 went to search for PT509. At 0800 PT507 & PT503 closed in on the Minesweepers just outside of St Helier, the fog was still too thick for an accurate torpedo attack. PT503 fires her last torpedo at 150 yards and both PT's open fire on the convoy. The convoy returned fire causing casualties. Using smoke cover the PT's return to USS Maloy.
PT Boats using a smoke screen for evasion
Below is a full-time line of the battle researched from the Squadron 34 War Diaries
17:07 from Cherbourg USS Maloy, PT500, PT503, PT506, PT507, PT508 & PT509 get underway (speed 20 knots).
19:05 Visibility drops to 1,000 yards
19:26 PT506 Returns to Cherbourg due to damaged propeller
22:50 Visibility drops to 400 yards
23:20 Speed drops to 10 knots patrolling between Guernsey and Jersey
9th August 1944
03:20 Visibility drops under 200 yards
04:50 the USS Maloy picks up radar contact of 6 M-class Minesweepers heading to La Corbiere (speed 14 knots).
05:30 Tunny Group (PT500, 503 & 507) vectored to enemy shipping by USS Maloy
05:35 Tunny Group fire torpedoes no results observed, firing was made entirely on radar information due to 200 yard visibility in very dense fog.
05:51 Barracuda Group (PT508 & PT509) were vectored in to attack the German convoy with torpedoes.
06:08 Barracuda Group fire torpedoes
06:10 Barracuda Group report that an enemy force of 6 ships was firing at them, PT508 peeled off to starboard and directed PT509 to follow.
06:16 PT509 reported by radio “I am in the middle of them”
06:17 PT509 vanishes
06:19 to 07:00 Attempts made to contact PT509 by radio, USS Maloy closed in to three miles from the coast of Jersey but can not locate her on radar.
07:10 PT’s rendezvous with USS Maloy
07:21 The loss of PT509 is reported to CTF125 (Commander Task Force 125)
07:24 Lt H J Sherertz, Squadron 34 commander, left the USS Maloy and went aboard PT503 to search the beach area of Jersey for the missing boat. PT507 joined them.
07:25 USS Maloy, PT508 & 500 search west
08:00 PT507 & PT503 report enemy contact
08:10 PT507 & PT503 closed in on Minesweepers just outside of St Helier, fog was still too thick for an accurate torpedo attack. PT503 fires her last torpedo at 150 yards and both PT's open fire on the ships. The ships returned fire hitting the PT's with heavy shelling causing heavy casualties. Using smoke cover the PT's return to USS Maloy.
08:20 PT507 & PT503 rejoin the group, Maloy ready a fire and rescue party as smoke can be seen from PT503
08:23 PT503 came alongside of USS Maloy and Casualties removed.
09:26 Visibility rapidly increasing a course is set for Cherbourg
09:50 Request for Air Search for PT509 sent & Report made to CTF125 concerning ETA, casualties and requesting a doctor to meet them.
10:39 Plymouth Air Patrol (Sunderland Flying-boat) requested to search for PT509
11:00 Albright dies of Multiple wounds despite the efforts of the medics
13:00 PT 500,503,507,508 are ordered to return to base independently
13:10 USS Maloy stops so PT501 can transfer Lt Kurrie, Hospital corpsmen
13:12 Boat underway to Cherbourg 23 knots
13:15 Albright & Brumm pronounced dead
14:00 Anchored in Cherbourg to transfer casualties
14:13 Operation Complete
PT509: Probably 2 torpedoes and gunfire
PT500: 2 Torpedos
PT508: 1 torpedo
PT503: 2 torpedoes
• 400 rounds 50cal
• 14 rounds 37mm
• 20 rounds 40mm
PT507: 1 Torpedo
• 156 rounds 50cal
• 27 rounds 37mm
• 45 rounds 40mm
An aircraft in search of possible wreckage of the PT 509 sighted a body later identified as that of Walter P. Wypick, Gunner's Mate 3rd Class of the PT 509.
20th of August 1944
A shrapnel and gun-fire riddled portion of the PT 509 was found by Squadron 34 afloat in the Channel.
The album below shows photos from this as well as photos from the maritime museum in Jersey of part of the mast and one of engine ID plates.
1st of September 1944
14:00 USS Maloy Stops German Hospital ship Bordeaux travelling from St Helier to Ile de Cezembre.
17:00 USS Maloy ordered to take the Bordeaux into custody until British guard arrive
19:10 Custody turned over to HMS Ulysses, Bordeaux crew ordered to sail to Cherbourg.
From this capture, the first news from Jersey of the fate of the crew of PT509 was heard. The British questioned the Germans who said that a US boat rammed a VP or vorpostenboat (converted fishing boat) one mile east of Corbiere. The crew of the US boat boarded the fishing boat engaging the Germans with small arms. They then embarked back on their boat and continued the action. The US boat finally sank and one, possibly two survivors were landed at St Helier by the VP boat.
Below a photo of the Bordeaux taken by one of Squadron 34 Crew while docked under guard in Cherbourg.
The men of PT509 who gave their lives
Lieutenant Harry M. Crist
Lieutenant Junior Grade James M Mathes
Lieutenant Junior Grade John K. Paylis
William S Ausley Gunner's Mate, 3rd Class
Alfred A Ricci Gunner's Mate 3rd Class
Walter P. Wypick Gunner's Mate 3rd Class
Richard E. Horsfield Motor Machinist's Mate 2nd Class
Marvin W. Lossin Motor Machinist's Mate 2nd Class
Kenneth R. Line Ship's Cook, 3rd Class
Edward C. Thale Quartermaster, 2nd Class
Charles A Kornak Gunner's Mate 3rd Class
Darrel A Bricker Radarman, 3rd Class
Rudolf W. Schaffroth Torpedoman's Mate, 2nd Class
Tony S. Reynolds Radarman, 3rd Class
The men of PT503 who gave their lives
Elmer F. Albright Motor Machinist's Mate 2nd Class
Boyd W. Brumm Gunner's Mate 3rd Class
Photo from the Sherertz Collection