USS PC 564
Unit of Task Force 125
· Displacement 280 t.(lt), 450 t.(fl)
· Length 173' 8"
· Beam 23'
· Draft 10' 10"
· Speed 20.2 kts.
· Complement 65
· Armament: One 3"/50 dual purpose gun mount, one single 40mm gun mount; three 20mm guns, two rocket launchers, four depth charge projectiles and two depth charge tracks
· Propulsion: Two 1,440bhp Fairbanks Morse 38D8 1/8 diesel engines (Serial No. 832273 and 832274), Westinghouse single reduction gear, two shafts.
At 2230 March 8 1945 when in the vicinity of Videocq Buoy we received the following message from the tower at Granville Harbour, "WHATSHIP" and sent in answer "PREP 564". We then remained in the vicinity of Videocq Bouy waiting for a message which we though would follow by light.
At 2244 we received the following message by radio.
"TARGET CHARLEY ZED THREE AT 22, TARGET MOVING SOUTH EAST EIGHT KNOTS. IF PREP EASY OVERCOME LOVE ARRIVED, WARN HER TO GUARD COLLIER. YOU STAND BY FOR APPROPRIATE ACTION. SUFFICIENT WATER FOR EAST CHAUSEY IF NECESSARY."
My interpretation of the above message was as follows, that we were to inform the trawler MHT Pearl to stand by to protect a coal collier in anchorage approximately 2,500 yards from Videocq Buoy and to notify them of the unidentified radar targets. Pearl was anchored in the anchorage about 3,000 yards south of Videocq Buoy. We picked the trawler out on the radar scope and proceeded to within 500 yards of her and sent the following message.
"UNIDENTIFIED RADAR CONTACTS WEST OF CHAUSEY, STAND TO PROTECT COLLIER"
Pearl Rogered this message and answered "YOUR LIGHT IS TO BRIGHT."
At this time we were out about 3,000 yards due south of Videocq Buoy and set a course of 270 true, going to full speed of 18knots.
I had called Lt T M Page, Executive Officer, and had him start a plot of the radar contacts and keep navigational plot of our position.
We then went to general quarters and I requested Lt Page to give me a course and speed which would put me off the western of Chausey Island a short time before the contacts would round the west end of Chausey Island.
He replied to continue course 270 but that we should reduce speed to one-third, we reduced speed and continued on this course.
At 2359 we were at position 8,000 yards bearing 190 true from Grande Ile Lighthouse when we had radar contact baring 308 true, distance 10,200 yards. This contact was first reported as two separate targets but almost immediately after was reported as being three targets. Mr Page reported that they were moving south across our bow. We proceeded at one-third speed until the range closed to 5,800 yards. When Lieutenant R F Klinger, Gunny Officer, asked if he was to illuminate, I relied yes. At that time I ordered all engines ahead full flank and we illuminated at 0013 with a three star spread, the first around 003 relative, second 000, and third 357. The star shell burst and I saw two targets moving to the left of the lighted area. We immediately illuminated with another spread. Immediately after firing this second spread I gave right standard rudder and three star shell bursts. A range of 3,500 deflection 500 was given to the three inch gun and one round was fired from the three inch gun. The ship had just started turning to starboard when a hit was received in the forward part of the pilot house and destroyed the compulsion and gyro repeater. The hit killed or seriously wounded all personnel in the Pilot house. Mr Page was evidently standing in the door between the pilot house and chart room at the time of this hit and was killed. I knew we had been hit but did not the result of the hit and continued to call orders down to the pilot house as the ship continued to circle starboard. When I got no answer I claimed down on the wing of the bridge and discovered what had happened. I looked into the chart room and called for someone to take the wheel but found no one there except the radioman who was trying to call Granville and the radar man who was still manning the radar. I was unable to fin anyone within sound of my voice and put the wheel amidship myself, running to the port wing of the bridge first and then to starboard wing trying to locate someone to put on the wheel. There being no one moving I went back into the pilot house, took the wheel myself and began to make radical changes in course, using first full left rudder and then full right. All this time we were being fired upon and tracer shells seemed to be coming from both sides of the ship. Almost immediately after I had descended to the pilot house the ship received another hit on the stern of the ship. This hit either killed of injured every man of the 40mm gun position. At the same time we received a hit on the mast about seven feet above the deck which knocked out both the #2 & #3 20mm gun crews.
Prior to being knocked out these guns had been firing at maximum rate of fire. The three inch gun crew after the first round were unable to close the breach and this gun did not fire again during the rest of the action. The gunnery officer reported to. The pilot house and stated that the 20mm and 40mm were out of action due to casualties to the gun crews and that the three inch gun was unable to fire due to a jam.
At about this time a hit was received on the starboard side of the main deck just aft of the pilot house. This hit started a fire
In the starboard officers cabin. The fire was put under control in about five minutes
Three men had appeared in the pilot house and one had taken over the wheel. The enemy shops were illuminating us with star shells and I would make a radical change in course and then head in the direction of the star shells hoping to open the range as much as possible. Tracer fire became more intense at this time and there was no organisation of the crew and all guns were out, it was decided the only thing to do was to stand by to abandon ship. This word was passed. The engines were stopped and it appeared that there was a great deal of difficulty in letting the lift rafts go and the firing having decreased in intensity, it was decided not to abandon ship. However, subsequent to the order to stand by to abandon ship certain men stationed on the fantail had released the life rafts there and had jumped overboard. It was believed fifteen men jumped over at the time.
I ran back to the engine room and told the engineering watch to start them up and give me full speed. The engines were started immediately and I continued to make radical changes of course and started in the general direction of the star shell bursts.
The enemy ships were firing tracer at the ship and some time later, standing on the port wing of the bridge I was a ship on the port bow. It was again deceived to abandon ship and word passed to the engine room.
Almost immediately after the engines were stoped, in consultation with Lt R F Klinger, I decided to open them up and make a run for it, firing had stopped and the engine room was told to give them every thing they had. At 0114 we headed for Herpin Light and were illuminated twice on the way in.
Several thousand yards before reaching Herpin Light I turned south and west running along the coast hoping to find a suitable beach over which to discharge wounded. Just after we turned Southwest the last star shell burst astern of us and illuminated the Pierre De Herpin Light House. We reduced speed and continued to run along the coast hunting for one of the sandy beaches. The engine room reported at this time that the air pressure was done and if we stoped we would not be able to start the engines again.
We were unable to find one of the sandy beaches in the dark and decided that the best thing to do was nose in to the shore and send for help, which we did, hitting bow on the shore and passed two lines, one through the bullnose and one through the bow check, which were secured to rocks on shore.
Ensign Francis Douville and two men were then put ashore to summon help for the injured front he nearby village of Concale.
At 0800 march 9 1945, seven or eight French fishing vessels carrying a French Naval officer and one doctor arrived. The doctor examined and treated the wounded and they were put in the fishing boats and sent ashore.
The ship remained secured to the rocks until 1500 when two French tugs from St Malo arrived, pulled the ship away from the rocks and into St Malo Harbour.
Shell through the Pilothouse exploded causing extensive damage.
Mast Damaged by shrapnel
Hull and deck have extensive damage due to shell holes and shrapnel.
Shell through deck at base of Pilothouse
Minor damage to 40mm gun
Depth Charge release gear inoperative
Shell exploded in small boat, splitting in half
Starboard rudder missing
Port rudder badly damaged
Both props badly damaged
Starboard strut shaft missing
2 Officers & 12 men dead
11 men wounded
14 men missing
Out of a crew of 5 officers and 60 men
On May 11 1945, after the surrender of the Channel Islands, the fourteen men who were missing from PC-564 were recovered by the Allies, all in good condition. With them was Radarman 3rd Class John L. Page, the only survivor from USS PT-509.