Harry Truman

sT hELEN

I know what you all will be thinking that this will be a blog about President Truman, possibly about the order he gave to drop the atomic bombs. Well, you’d be wrong. It is indeed a blog about some explosive events but nothing WWII related. In fact it isn’t about President Truman either.

The subject in this blog is Harry R Truman a resident of the state of Washington who lived near Mount St. Helens.

memorial

Truman enlisted in the US Army as a private in August 1917. and served in France during World War I.

On 24 January 1918, the SS Tuscania departed Hoboken, New Jersey, with 384 crew members and 2,013 United States Army personnel aboard, Harry R Truman was one of the 2,013. The destination was Liverpool in England.

Tuscania

On the morning of February 5th, 1918, the SS Tuscania was sighted by the German submarine UB 77.During that day, the U-Boat stalked the SS Tuscania until early evening. Under the cover of darkness at about 6:40 pm, the submarine′s commanding officer, Captain Wilhelm Meyer, ordered two torpedoes fired at the Tuscania.

ub 77

The second torpedo struck the ship and sank it in the Irish Sea. 210 of the crew and troops perished that day. Harry R Truman was not one of them.

He went on to live a long life, but his death was caused by another explosion of sorts.

Truman moved near to Mount St Helens where he owned a lodge on Spirit Lake ,near the foot of the mountain for more than 50 years. He became somewhat of a  celebrity during the two months of volcanic activity preceding the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. He figured the danger was exaggerated and told reporters

“I’m going to stay right here because, I’ll tell you why, my home and my f**king life’s here. If the mountain goes, I’m going with it”

Unfortunately the volcano did erupt and Harry R Truman did die on May 18,1980 aged 83. His home was hit by a mud and snow avalanche, and buried the site of his lodge under 150 feet (46 m) of volcanic landslide debris.. His remains were never found.

tRUMAN

Some people may think he was foolish not to leave while he still could. But he knew what he wanted and where he was happiest and that was where he and his wife, who died a few years earlier, had made a life for themselves. They had found their bit of paradise for that I admire him because so few find that place they can truly call home.

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The USS Indianapolis- When the sinking wasn’t the worst that could happen.

USS_Indianapolis_(CA-35)

It was shortly after midnight—on the 30th of July, 1945—when disaster struck.

After delivering Hiroshima-bomb components to Tinian Island, the USS Indianapolis and her crew of 1,196 sailors were sailing west, toward Leyte (in the Philippines).

 

little boy

At 00:14 on 30 July, she was struck on her starboard side by two Type 95 torpedoes, one in the bow and one amidships, from the Japanese submarine I-58, under the command of Mochitsura Hashimoto.

IJN_SS_I-58(II)_on_trial_run_in_1944

The explosions caused massive damage. Indianapolis took on a heavy list, and settled by the bow. Twelve minutes later, she rolled completely over, then her stern rose into the air, and she plunged down. Some 300 of the 1,196 crewmen went down with the ship. With few lifeboats and many without life jackets, the remainder of the crew were set adrift.

As the sun rose on July 30, the survivors bobbed in the water. Life rafts were scarce. The living searched for the dead floating in the water and appropriated their lifejackets for survivors who had none. Hoping to keep some semblance of order, survivors began forming groups—some small, some over 300—in the open water. Soon enough they would be staving off exposure, thirst—and sharks.

The animals were drawn by the sound of the explosions, the sinking of the ship and the thrashing and blood in the water. Though many species of shark live in the open water, none is considered as aggressive as the oceanic whitetip. Reports from the Indianapolis survivors indicate that the sharks tended to attack live victims close to the surface, leading historians to believe that most of the shark-related causalities came from oceanic whitetips.

The first night, the sharks focused on the floating dead. But the survivors’ struggles in the water only attracted more and more sharks, which could feel their motions through a biological feature known as a lateral line: receptors along their bodies that pick up changes in pressure and movement from hundreds of yards away. As the sharks turned their attentions toward the living, especially the injured and the bleeding, sailors tried to quarantine themselves away from anyone with an open wound, and when someone died, they would push the body away, hoping to sacrifice the corpse in return for a reprieve from a shark’s jaw. Many survivors were paralyzed with fear, unable even to eat or drink from the meager rations they had salvaged from their ship. One group of survivors made the mistake of opening a can of Spam—but before they could taste it, the scent of the meat drew a swarm of sharks around them. They got rid of their meat rations rather than risk a second swarming.

The sharks fed for days, with no sign of rescue for the men. Navy intelligence had intercepted a message from the Japanese submarine that had torpedoed the Indianapolis describing how it had sunk an American battleship along the Indianapolis’ route, but the message was disregarded as a trick to lure American rescue boats into an ambush. In the meantime, the Indianapolis survivors learned that they had the best odds in a group, and ideally in the center of the group. The men on the margins or, worse, alone, were the most susceptible to the sharks.

As the days passed, many survivors succumbed to heat and thirst, or suffered hallucinations that compelled them to drink the seawater around them—a sentence of death by salt poisoning. Those who so slaked their thirst would slip into madness, foaming at the mouth as their tongues and lips swelled. They often became as great a threat to the survivors as the sharks circling below—many dragged their comrades underwater with them as they died.

 

After 11:00 a.m. on their fourth day in the water, a Navy plane flying overhead spotted the Indianapolis survivors and radioed for help. Within hours, another seaplane, manned by Lieutenant Adrian Marks, returned to the scene and dropped rafts and survival supplies.

Adrian-Marks

When Marks saw men being attacked by sharks, he disobeyed orders and landed in the infested waters, and then began taxiing his plane to help the wounded and stragglers, who were at the greatest risk. A little after midnight, the USS Doyle arrived on the scene and helped to pull the last survivors from the water. Of the Indianapolis’ original 1,196-man crew, only 317 remained.

USS_Indianapolis-survivors_on_Guam

Estimates of the number who died from shark attacks range from a few dozen to almost 150. It’s impossible to be sure. But either way, the ordeal of the Indianapolis survivors remains the worst maritime disaster in U.S. naval history.

The USS Indianapolis, led by Captain Charles McVay, was ordered to head toward Guam by going through the Leyte Gulf. What the U.S. Navy didn’t tell him was the Leyte Gulf at the time was a haven for Japanese submarines, and that ships passing through should do so with extreme caution.

charles-mcvay

Lacking the intel that he was in unfriendly waters and exercising his order to perform evasive maneuvers “at his discretion,” McVay told the crew to just head straight forward, and bid them a good night. Unfortunately the Japanese submarine I-58, captained by Mochitsura Hashimoto, noticed the Indianapolis heading straight toward it and immediately sank it.

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McVay survived and World War II ended, but soon thereafter he found himself in a court martial for negligence in the sinking of his ship (probably as a scapegoat to cover for the other Navy guys who completely botched the Indianapolis’ travel instructions and subsequent rescue.

In the trial, the U.S. Navy made the fairly unprecedented step of bringing in Hashimoto as a witness . He was brought in as a witness for the prosecution, expected to talk about the gross incompetence of the American captain, hoping he would seal McVay’s fate. Rather unexpectedly, when Hashimoto took the stand he outright defended McVay, stating that no matter what he had done, the Indianapolis still would have been hit by his torpedoes.

The U.S. Navy still found McVay guilty regardless of what Hashimoto said, demoting him and basically ruining his naval career. Though Admiral Nimitz would wind up promoting McVay back to his old rank soon thereafter, the trial decision still stood — that is, until Hashimoto decided to help McVay out again. Hashimoto sent a letter to Senator John Warner, an action that helped lead to McVay being exonerated.

The RMS Atlantic- the “First Titanic”

RMS_Atlantic

RMS Atlantic, yard number 74, was a 3,707 ton four masted steam ship; only the second steam ship to be built for Thomas Ismay’s White Star Line.

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Sometimes referred to as White Star Line’s first Titanic, Atlantic sank  sank on April 1,1873 with the loss of around 562 lives, after striking rocks in Nova Scotia, the worst disaster in maritime history at the time – and White star Line’s second worst ever disaster, the other being Titanic.

Titànic Original

Like Titanic, Atlantic was one of the largest and grandest ships afloat at the time of her loss. Atlantic had sailed for New York on her maiden voyage just two years earlier in June 1871. Still rigged for auxiliary sail, her primary propulsion was steam. She was fitted with the newest generation of compound steam engines, cutting coal consumption in half. She had an extremely long thin hull (a length to beam ratio of 10 to 1) and some of the most luxurious and comfortable first class accommodations seen on the North Atlantic.

Atlantic left Liverpool under the command of Captain James A Williams on March 13, 1873.

Captain John A_ Williams 60%

It was her 19th voyage. From Liverpool, Atlantic sailed to Queenstown, arriving the next day, and upon leaving Queenstown, had abroad around 952 passengers and crew. The first few days of the voyage seem to have been uneventful – but the Captain later stated that they had endured heavy south-west and westerly gales, causing the ship to slow down.

On March 31, with an engineer’s report stating that only 127 tons of coal remained aboard the ship, there was a fear onboard that the ship might not have enough coal to reach New York. So, especially considering unfavorable weather conditions, it was decided to head the ship for Halifax, Canada, to load more coal.

At around 12am the Captain left the bridge to go to bed, and ordered that his steward should call him at 2.40am and that the deck officers should call him at 3am, or sooner if needed. Left in charge of the bridge were Atlantic’s second and fourth officers. Unknown to the crew, the ship, traveling at around 12 knots, was considerably off course to the west of where she should have been.

Despite the captain’s order to call him, his steward is said to have been told not to do so by the fourth officer, and it appears that, at 3am, the captain was not woken up.

At approximately 3.15am Atlantic smashed into a rock off Marr’s Head, Nova Scotia. The passengers and crew started making their way up on to deck – but the port side lifeboats were washed away by the sea, and soon after the ship keeled to port – causing the starboard side boats to be useless. This is believed to have helped cause the death of many people still below deck.

atlantic2

It is said that Third Officer Brady, Quartermaster Owens and Quartermaster Speakman managed to tie a line to a rock – allowing those onboard to climb to safety; a long and perilous journey, which many drowned while trying to attempt. With the sea roaring around them and aboard the ship, those on the deck were also ordered to climb up the ships rigging or to get to a safe part of the deck.(picture of Quartermaster Speakman)John_Speakman,_Quartermaster,_SS_Atlantic,_ca._1873

After Third Officer Brady managed to summon help on shore, boats come from the shore to rescue the survivors. Around 562 of the around 952 people aboard died in the disaster – including all the women and children – except for one boy.

Many of the victims were buried on the shore near to the wreck site. 277 were buried in a mass grave – following a burial service led by the Reverend William Ancient – who had been involved in the rescue operation.

Located on the site is a stone memorial with the following inscription: “Near this spot was wrecked the S.S. Atlantic. April 1st 1873. When 563 persons perished. Of whom 277 were interred in this churchyard. This monument is erected as a sacred memorial by a few sympathetic friends.”

burial

April appears to have been  a cursed month for the White Star Line

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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