Nov 21

The Life & Service of a World War 2 Mine Warfare Sailor. Part 4

Thursday, November 21, 2019 12:01 AM


When last we left my grandfather, Seaman Thomas Schreck was settling into life at the Oran Naval Receiving station in Algeria. This was merely a stopping off point until he moved on to Tunisia where he joined the Auk Class minesweeper USS Sway (AM-120).

A Fw-200 C coming back from a mission in 1943
(Ahoy – Mac’s Web Log)

This blog entry picks up on 16 May 1944.

Tuesday May 16th
Our convoy that went to Oran was
bombed and they lost two Navy
ships and five merchant. Guess
we rate a star. First time we
saw those French and English
planes got scared. Nice ships.
Played ball this A.M. Our crew
against the Phillies. Beat them
21 to 3. Saw “Buffalo Bill” Fair.
Started getting stiff from baseball.
Really got hot out today. My
nerves have been on
edge since we left
the states. Have to keep them better
from here on in.

The majority of Convoy UGS-40 sailed directly to Oran as was previously mentioned. My grandfather’s ship the liberty ship SS Reverdy Johnson, along with one other ship, continued to Arzew, Algeria while he was sent by truck back to Oran. On 11 May, the day after the two vessels sailed onto Oran the rest of the convoy came under attack from German aircraft. Sixty-two aircraft in all, JU-88’s, Dornier 217’s, Heinkel 111’s, and a single FW Condor, attacked the convoy. British Beufort fighters intercepted and shot down two enemy aircraft but lost two of their own. A total of 92 bombs and torpedoes were dropped on the convoy. Reports indicate between 17 and 22 German aircraft were shot down during the attack.


The German Dornier 217, part of the attack group on Convoy UGS-40
(Ahoy – Mac’s Web Log)


The German Heinkel 111 medium bomber, used in the attack on Convoy UGS-40
(Ahoy – Mac’s Web Log)

In spite of the heavy attack and contradicting my grandfather’s journal entry, no convoy vessels were hit although there were some near misses. German Radio reported otherwise, however, and this may have been my grandfather’s source. (1)

Flugzeug Junkers Ju 88, 1942
(Bundesarchiv-German Federal Archive)


British Beaufighter
(Fighting Tigers)

Wednesday May 17th
Went out on liberty. What
a place. Dropped in at the
Waldorf Bar. 6 beers for a dime.
Drank out of tin cans. Fair beer.
Larry passed out. Had to carry him
all the way back. Felt pretty good
myself. These French girls are
nice looking but wouldn’t trust
them. Little Arab girl followed
me for hours asking for Francs.
Never saw so many little kids
begging before in my life. Had
a drink with seven kinds of wine
in it. Something like our Zombie.
Has a mean kick.


Sailors on Liberty in Algeria, 1944
(Courtesy of the Author)


Thursday May 18th.
Played ball and lost 9 to 7. Larry
and Ben didn’t feel so good today.
Larry couldn’t eat and Ben looked
lousy. Read a mag and took
a shower. Hit the sack at 22:00

Of Larry and Ben my grandfather also wrote

*Larry D’arkangelo another Eytie. Him
and Chalk get into arguments about
Italian words. Each of has a different dialect
and you should hear them! Yipes! Larry
is a nice guy to and likes to argue
about anything. “Lorenzo”

*”Ben” Borkowski a hell of a swell
egg. Big as a horse and Polish to
the core.

Friday May 19th
Played ball and won the first
game 20 to 10. Lost the second 3 to 6.
Saw “Up in Arms” Pretty good.
Heard rumors about moving. Hope it’s
true. Rained like the devil last night.
Stroupe told us some more about life.
What a line of spiel. Hit the sack at 20:30

Of Stroupe my grandfather writes

*Chuck Stroupe, electrician. The
intellectual one of the crew. A rebel
and always on the ball. A swell
guy to be stuck with “Sparks”

(Courtesy of the Author)

Saturday May 20th
Got our clearance cards this A.M.
Hate to leave. Going to Biserte
by train.

The following day my grandfather boarded a train for a five-day journey to Bizerta, Tunisia. This is where he met his ship. We will pick up with that journey next month.

Enjoy the author’s earlier posts here:


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