Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

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ShangHist
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Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby ShangHist » 09 Mar 2008 23:26

I am researching the torpedoing of USS THOMAS STONE (AP-59) at 0535 on November 7, 1942. THOMAS STONE was part of a convoy that was to land troops for the invasion on November 8. Various sources give conflicting information about from where the torpedo came. Some cite a Uboat and others cite an aircraft. There was an aircraft in the area at the time, however it is believed to have been a friendly aircraft on ASW patrol. I am curious as to whether there is a database of Uboat attacks. Also, is it possible that the submarine could have been Italian or Vichy French and the answer would be in those records?

I will make a similar post in the aviation board. Any assistance or advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Bob

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby Andreas » 10 Mar 2008 11:42

Hi

Welcome to the forum.

This indicates it might have been an aircraft?



ibiblio.org wrote:The voyage toward the coast of North Africa proved uneventful until 7 November 1942. Almaack--in column 01 of convoy KMFA1--went to general quarters at 0515, and soon thereafter heard an aircraft close by, on her port hand. At 0538, her watch noted the torpedoing of the nearby transport Thomas Stone (AP-59). Ultimately, at 1800 the section of KMFA1 to which Almaack had been attached was directed to proceed to the waters off Algiers. As she stood toward the coast, she observed navigation lights--still burning but with reduced visibility--at Cape Matifu and Cape Caxine.


As does this:

Navy Casualties wrote:USS Thomas Stone (AP-59) torpedoed by German aircraft off Cape Palos, Spain, 7 November 1942, and abandoned after going aground in Algiers Harbor, 25 November 1942.


The Wikipedia article on USS Samuel Chase states the aircraft were German Ju 88 - but no source is given, so treat with caution:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Samuel_Chase_(AP-56)

Some additional information on the event:

http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/t4/thomas_stone.htm

http://home.earthlink.net/~lipp/



Hope this helps a bit.

All the best

Andreas

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby Andreas » 10 Mar 2008 15:39

Uboat.net does not list USS Thomas Stone as a victim of a U-Boot, which would leave the possibility that it could have been an Italian sub. Or a plane after all.

http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/l ... php?char=T

http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/warships.html

Some more info:

Naval History Net wrote:Warship Losses, 9th - Off Oran the corvette "GARDENIA" was lost in collision with armed trawler "Fluellen". 10th - In addition to the Atlantic approaches to Gibraltar, a large number of German and Italian submarines were concentrated in the Western Mediterranean to attack the 'Torch' follow-up convoys. Transports and escorting warships were sunk and damaged, but losses were never great, and seven Axis submarines (1-7) were sunk in exchange. On the 10th, destroyer "MARTIN" was sunk by "U-431" off Algiers and Italian submarine "EMO" (1) scuttled after an attack by armed trawler "Lord Nuffield" . 10th - Further Allied landings were made to the east of Algiers along the Algerian coast, where there was little air cover. Attacks by German aircraft on these and other Algerian targets sank or damaged a number of ships. On the 10th, sloop "IBIS" was hit by an aircraft torpedo and went down off Algiers.

Algeria - The first of the further Allied troop landings were made at Bougie and Bone on the 11th and 12th, well on the way to the Tunisian border.

Warship Losses - continued, 12th - "U-660" (2) was sunk by escorting corvettes "Lotus" and "Starwort" northeast of Oran. 13th - Next day "Lotus", this time with "Poppy" accounted for "U-605" (3) off Algiers. On the 14th and 15th respectively, "U-595" and "U-259" (4-5) were sunk by aircraft. 13th - "U-431" sent Dutch destroyer "lSAAC SWEERS" to the bottom northwest of Algiers. 17th - "U-331" (6) was damaged by RAF Hudsons of No 500 Squadron and tried to surrender. Aircraft of 820 Squadron from carrier "Formidable" torpedoed her in error off Algiers. 20th - Cruiser "Delhi" was damaged by bombs in Algiers Bay. 28th - North of Bone the Italian "DESSIE" (7) was sunk by destroyers "Quentin" and the Australian "Quiberon", now part of cruiser Force Q operating out of Bone.28th - Destroyer "ITHURIEL" in harbour at Bone was badly damaged in bombing attacks and not repaired.


All the best

Andreas

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby ShangHist » 10 Mar 2008 17:55

Andreas,

All great information and very useful. Thank you for your efforts.

I just found the following (starting on page 99) in The Landings in North Africa - November 1942 (ISBN 0-945274-18-1): "At 0537 on 7 November, just as day was breaking, an explosion occurred well aft on the Thomas Stone, disabling her propeller and rudder and causing her to drop out of the convoy. At almost the same moment a plane was seen coming up from the stern passing from starboard to port. It was sighted for only a few seconds. At first it was believed that this plane had torpedoed the Thomas Stone, but subsequent investigation indicated that a submarine was responsible and that the plane was a British Swordfish in pursuit of the submarine. Nine men on the Thomas Stone were killed as a result of the explosion."

No sooner do I find convincing evidence that it was an aircraft, that contradicting evidence appears indicating a submarine. You can see my dilemma here. The reason that this is so important is, it is part of a documentary that is being produced in the US. I have requested Italian submarine records. Hopefully they will shed some light on this.

Again, thank you for all that you have done to help resolve this matter.

Bob

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Davide Pastore
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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby Davide Pastore » 10 Mar 2008 22:43

Andreas wrote:Uboat.net does not list USS Thomas Stone as a victim of a U-Boot, which would leave the possibility that it could have been an Italian sub

What I can say is that Italians did not claim responsability for the torpedo. So, if the torpedo was Italian then the boat had to be lost shortly thereafter, probably with his records.

There are two boats that fit:

- Emo, scuttled by his crew on 10 November out Algier after damage caused by HMS Lord Nuffield.

- Granito, sunk on 9 November by HMS Saracen NW of Capo San Vito Siculo (N of Trapani) without survivors.

Emo is in the correct place, but the surviving crew should have reported the launch.
Granito disappeared with all his records, but somewhat far from Algier.

Unfortunately I have not the USMM books dedicated to the submarine actions (detailing each single cruise) so I am not sure Granito route is compatible with this launch.

Edit: for some reasons I believed the torpedoing happened near Algier, but now I read:
Navy Casualties wrote:USS Thomas Stone (AP-59) torpedoed by German aircraft off Cape Palos, Spain, 7 November 1942, and abandoned after going aground in Algiers Harbor, 25 November 1942.

I believe no Italian sub is compatible. Too far.

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby Jafü Mittelrhein » 21 May 2008 23:27

Gentlemen,
According to "Chronik des Seekrieges":
"Am 7.11. torpediert wahrscheinlich U 205 (Kptlt. Reschke) den US-Transporter Thomas Stone (9255 BRT), der später vor Algier auf Strand gesetzt wird."

Which means, that U-205 of Kapitänleutnant Reschke was a possible claimant of Thomas Stone.

Regarding Torpedo units of the Luftwaffe: KG 26's first mission against "Torch" was on 11.11.42, so only KG 77 is left...

Hope this helps

Jafü Mittelrhein

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby Orvilleson » 26 Apr 2012 21:17

The U-205 recorded in kriegsmarine records having been on patrol in the mediteranean area on the day, recorded in its log books that it conducted a torpedo attack on the USS THOMAS STONE. Look it up. My father Orville Swift was on board this ship, described the event vividly and also was told an airplane dropped the torpedo or torpedos. I never got to tell him what I found, as he passed away Aug, 5, 2011. But I did give him pics of the Thomas Stone before and after the attack, he was very pleased to see the ship again as it had been around 70 yrs since he last saw her. He talked of many experiences from Kassarine Pass to the Battle for Scicily, when he was wounded by a sniper near Mt. Etna after the Battle for Troina. He was sent home.

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby Orvilleson » 26 Apr 2012 21:25

Thank you Herr Mittelrhein, my father Orville Swift was on board the Thomas Stone and in my research I have copies of the article stating the U_205 had recorded the torpedo attack in its log book. I believe you are correct sir that it was the U-205.

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby JamesL » 01 May 2012 16:20

Hitler's U-Boat War 1939-1942(page 396) by Clay Blair notes that the evening of Nov. 11-12 U-205 transitted the Gibraltar Straits. It wasn't until dawn of Nov. 13 that U-205 fired 3 torpedoes at the ARK ROYAL. All missed.

Blair says nothing about U-205 firing torpedoes at anything on Nov. 11-12. Nor does he mention USS THOMAS STONE.

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby Kingfish » 01 May 2012 20:15

JamesL wrote:Hitler's U-Boat War 1939-1942(page 396) by Clay Blair notes that the evening of Nov. 11-12 U-205 transitted the Gibraltar Straits. It wasn't until dawn of Nov. 13 that U-205 fired 3 torpedoes at the ARK ROYAL. All missed.

Blair says nothing about U-205 firing torpedoes at anything on Nov. 11-12. Nor does he mention USS THOMAS STONE.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the Ark Royal sunk on November 14th, 1941 while the Thomas Stone went down in 1942?

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby JamesL » 01 May 2012 20:29

Rephrase: Blair does not show any connection between U-205 and USS THOMAS STONE.

Blair makes note of many, many incidents where U-boat skippers claimed to sink or damage a ship. Post-war investigations concluded otherwise.

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby gttf » 06 May 2012 13:47

Hello,
according to F. Mattesini (“Cronologia delle perdite subite in Mediterraneo dalle Marine delle nazioni alleate”, Bollettino d’archivio dell’Ufficio Storico MMI, september 2002, pages 157-158) USS Thomas Stone was torpedoed (at the stern) by one of the six He111 of 6./II/KG26 raiding the convoy KMF A/1. The event occurred at 05:43 am of Nov., 7th, 1942, at 37deg32’N – 00deg01’E (approx 33 nm off Capo Palos). She was taken in tow by her own landing crafts, the by three British ships (tug St.Day, destroyers Wishart and Velox). She arrived at Algiers on 11:30 am of Nov., 11th.
It was again hit by German bombers of II FK on the night between 25th and 26th , then a storm did her aground in 36deg49’N – 03deg07’ E, and she was abandoned.
Finally, USS Thomas Stone was raided, on Dec., 12th, 1942 by an Italian SLC assault craft (Crew Reggioli – Comolli) during the great attack to the Algiers harbour by SLC and combat swimmers from submarine Ambra (when the steamer Berto, Ocean Vanquisher, Empire Centaur and Armattan were damaged or sunk), An explosive charge was attached to the hull and the stern was separated by the hull.
Hope this helps
Regards
Fabrizio

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby Galahad » 11 May 2012 02:57

--I'd always thought it was U-205 that torpedoed the Thomas Stone. But whoever did the job, she wasn't totally wrecked, or sunk, then or later, even though she remained in commission till 1944.

--This eyewitness account, though, contradicts that and says it was definitely a plane that torpedoed her.
"Before I met Rita, my first tour in the Navy was aboard the USS Thomas Stone. We practiced maneuvers with the British Army troops, early November 1942. We set out to make the invasion of North Africa.

As we entered the Straits of Gibraltar, we were torpedoed by an aerial attack. I saw the plane as it circled the convoy. Evasive action was taken by the ship, and the torpedo almost missed us. However, it did hit and exploded, ripping a large hole, which destroyed the propeller and navigational system."
http://fredsr-prairiereflections.blogsp ... stone.html

--Despite damage, this film proves that she was definitely in use after the various attacks. You can clearly see her name about 3 minutes and 10 seconds into it, even though the date given has to be incorrect.

http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675 ... tion-Torch

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby Orvilleson » 10 Jul 2012 13:30

USS Thomas Stone. It would be more realistic to follow the account of a U-Boat Captain in the area on the day, than a writer who was not.

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Re: Operation Torch: USS Thomas Stone torpedoed

Postby OHara » 15 Jul 2012 02:56

I'm convinced that Thomas Stone was torpedoed by a German He 111, one of six from II./KG 26,that attacked Convoy KMF (A) 1 at 0543 while it was about thirty miles off Cape Palos, Spain. ( Santoni and Mattesini, La Partecipazione tedesca, 291) The war diaries of Samuel Chase and Ancon are both very specific that is was a plane. (Quote from Chase: "At about 0545 a plane glided in from out port quarter dropping a torpedo which hit the USS Thomas Stone. A torpedo was dropped off the quarter of the Samuel Chase but missed by about fifty yards. When on the port beam the plance gunned its motors and pulled away") Rohwer's Axis Submarine Successes of WWII noted U205's claim but also credits aircraft for the hit.

Vince


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