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By escorting British ships, a German official said, the Reuben James became fair game: “Anybody walking along the railroad tracks at night should not be surprised if they get run over by an express train.” Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota seemed to agree. Coordinates. After the news of the sinking reached America, many concerned people wrote letters to the Navy to find out the fate of friends or loved ones. It seemed like a long time.”. Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James. - Johnny Horton Makes History - on COLUMBIA Records in 1960. Forty-three years earlier, the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor had led to an outcry for war, but the sinking of the Reuben James did not spark the same reaction. before the war, the Reuben James was the first one lost. Of the ship’s crew, only 45 were saved; 99 sailors perished, including all seven of the ship’s officers. "The Sinking of the Reuben James" is a song by Woody Guthrie about the sinking of the U.S. convoy escort USS Reuben James, which was the first U.S. naval ship sunk by German U-boats in World War II. Reuben James is a name rich in Navy lore. The escalating danger worried the crew of the Reuben James. Roosevelt’s logic was simple: “If you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him.”. Reuben James was torpedoed by the Nazis off the coast of Iceland in late October [1941], killing 86 and wounding 44, Woody was inspired to write a ballad about the incident. “It’s not going down with me,” he told his wife. Reuben James (DD-245), a four-stack Clemson-class destroyer 2. Fast-emerging British singer, songwriter and pianist Reuben James’ virtuoso jazz techniques and soulful, evocative voice have led him to be widely regarded as one the most exciting and creatively assured artists to have emerged in recent years. Gone in an instant,” recalled electrician’s mate Thomas Turnbull. “Midships was now the bow” is how fireman Norman Hingula described it. "Sinking Of The Reuben James" What were their names, tell me what were their names Did you have a friend on the Good Reuben James Have you heard of a ship called that good Reuben James Stand by hard fighting men both of honor and fame She flew the stars and stripes of the land of the free There have been countless thousands of published works devoted to all or of it. While on leave, boatswain’s mate Frederick Post had a drink with a friend and predicted it would be the last drink they would ever have together. Tell me what were their names. Times when the very landscape appears to shift. Woody Guthrie was staying at the Almanac House in Greenwich Village when he wrote this song. the latter part of 1941, U.S. Navy ships provided escorts for convoys Writing ‘The Sinking of the Reuben James’ “When the U.S.S. It is considered the first American naval casualty of WWII. The sinking of the Reuben James contributed to the American war sentiment, and the U.S. and Germany went to war six weeks later. U-boat U-552 fired a torpedo at the ammunition ship, and inadvertently hit the Reuben James, sinking the US ship with the loss of 100 of the 144 men aboard the ship. D C G Did you have a friend on that good Reuben James Verse 3 G G D G It was there in the dark of that uncertain night G D G That we watched for the U-boats and waited for the fight. There have been countless thousands of published works devoted to all or of it. The Reuben James carried only two lifeboats and they were now useless. Those who survived the blast jumped into the frigid water. On November 2, Almeda Edwards, wife of Lt. Cmdr. I love that song! When Neda Boyd, wife of machinist’s mate Solon Boyd, heard the news on the radio, she “froze in the chair.” She felt a sense of doom because, when last home, her husband had told her, “I’m afraid we won’t be back this time.” Their six-year-old daughter heard the name of her dad’s ship on the radio and wept inconsolably. During A torpedo fired by U-552 hit her on the port side, ignited her forward magazine, and blew her in half. To her crew, she was affectionately known as “Ol’ Rube.”. U.S. Navy ships helped escort the convoys bringing Lend-Lease goods to England. Heywood L. “Tex” Edwards, a 1926 Naval Academy graduate and a member of the 1928 U.S. Olympic wrestling team. Although the United States was still offi- cially neutral, Congress had enacted the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941 to help Great Britain survive. I know you will though….” Before she could mail her letter, however, she learned that her husband would not return. Five weeks later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Congress declared war on Japan, and Germany declared war on the United States. Now the USS Reuben James became the first United States warship to be sunk as a result of hostile action in World War II. Deadly German U-boats were prowling the North Atlantic and feasting on Allied shipping. to the Navy to find out the fate It changed the world more than any other single event in history. Kingston Trio - Sinking of the Reuben James Lyrics. Lyrics to 'The Sinking Of The Reuben James' by Woody Guthrie. In Portland, Maine, where about half the crew lived, the wives of 40 crew members—“red-eyed and listless, after hours of vigil with little sleep”— awaited news of their husbands. Germany and Great Britain had been at war for two years. The Sinking Of The Reuben James Words and Music by Woody Guthrie. As for a declaration of war, the New York Times noted, “The people, their Representatives in Congress and even many high officials of the government are deeply divided on the subject.” Rather than spark enlistments, Navy enlistments declined 15 percent in November 1941, something officials attributed to the loss of life on the Reuben James. She was 314 feet long, 30 feet in the beam, and capable of speeds of up to 33 knots. (Luckily, Boyd survived). Corbin Dyson and Charles Harris. It also includes photos of DE-153 and Guided Missile Frigate Reuben James FFG-57. Like many others, she received the dreaded news through a telegram from “C.W. Nearby ships rushed in to save the survivors. including all officers. As the survivors struggled to stay afloat, unsecured depth charges from the Reuben James hit the water as the ship sank. Others were torn apart.”. “The incident stirred up emotions in our hometown. Sadly, most of the country ignored the sinking. Patrick Reuben James (* um 1776 in Sleaford; 3. Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James It was there in the dark of that uncertain night That we watched for the you-boats and waited for a fight Then a whine and a rock and a great explosion roared And they laid the Reuben James on that cold ocean floor Tell me what were their names, tell me what were their names Found on more albums: “Choking on oil and water, they are like small animals caught in molasses,” artist Coale wrote. U-boats had already torpedoed several merchant ships in this convoy and a burning ship had silhouetted the Kearny, making her an easy target. The U.S. Navy picked the convoys up there, escorted them out into the Atlantic, and handed them over to the British Royal Navy at a mid-ocean meeting point. For My analysis was of the song “The Sinking of the Reuben James” by Woody Guthrie. “I know I got picked up pretty quick,” said William Bergstresser, a chief machinist’s mate. On April 2, 1942, the same U-boat—U-552— sank the SS David H. Atwater, an unescorted collier, off the coast of Virginia. The Sinking Of The Reuben James:Johnny Horton. She flew the Stars and Stripes of the land of the free But tonight she's in her grave at the bottom of the sea. After INTRO: D G What were their names, tell me, what were their E names? They had no choice. It changed the world more than any other single event in history. The ship named for James, the USS Reuben James, was a four-stack destroyer, commissioned in 1920. Terrified sailors heard the depth charges arm themselves, and then the charges exploded, hurling debris and men into the air. They listened to the radio, read the newspapers, and knew the score. At daybreak, she was about 600 miles west of Ireland and “blacked out to avoid reflection in the inquisitive monocles of U-boat periscopes,” as Newsweek put it. The United States was still neutral, at least officially, but neutrality offered little solace—or protection. The Reuben James was one of five destroyers escorting the convoy’s more than 50 merchant ships, many of which flew the Union Jack. But there’s NEVER been anything like THIS before. For gunner’s mate Walter Sorensen, his main wish was to come home on leave just once more, “even if it is only for a few days.” “Ol’ Rube” was not as rugged or in the same class as modern destroyers like the Kearny, but “in an emergency … these craft must be used as found,” retired Admiral William V. Pratt told Newsweek magazine. Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?”. Although not the first U.S. Navy ship torpedoed Germany defended the attack. 1 . The Reuben James, however, was not forgotten, thanks in large part to folksinger Woody Guthrie’s ballad about the sinking: “Tell me what were their names. "shooting war.". On February 16, 1804, James, a boatswain’s mate, stood on the deck of the USS Philadelphia in Tripoli as Barbary pirates struck. “The water was so cold it would kill you in no time. Acting with “cold precision,” the ships and their crews rescued the few survivors. Dezember 1838 in Washington, D.C.) war ein Boatswain's mate[1] der United States Navy, der für eine angebliche oder tatsächliche Heldentat im Amerikanisch-Tripolitanischen Krieg berühmt wurde. Merchant ships of other nations, such as Great Britain, were free to tag along, and these “hitchhikers” got U.S. Navy protection. The act permitted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sell, lend, or lease munitions, aircraft, weapons, and military supplies to “the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States.” Great Britain was one of those countries. Disaster struck in the early morning hours of October 31, The Greer dodged two torpedoes and counterattacked with depth charges. There are moments in military history that forever alter the flow of human events. Some did rally to the flag, however. The Sinking of the Reuben James is a folk song written by Woody Guthrie about the ship Reuben James (DD-245) and her sinking while on convoy duty shortly before the U.S. entered World Wa… James was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 115 of 160 crewmen, It is accompanied by Woody Guthrie's song written shortly after the sinking of the USS Reuben James DD … A New York Times editorial said that the sinking “brushes away the last possible doubt that the United States and Germany are now at open war in the Atlantic.” “Worse than piracy,” proclaimed Navy Secretary Frank Knox, and Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky accused the Germans of trying “to drive us off the seas, and I don’t believe the American people are ready to be driven off.” Senator George Aiken of Vermont, however, said that Roosevelt was “personally responsible for whatever lives may have been lost” because he had ordered convoy duty. Reuben James DESCRIPTION: Describes the sinking of the destroyer "Reuben James" by submarines off the coast of Iceland, the loss of 100 men [and the rescue of 44]. The target – Reuben James – was decommissioned in 2013 after 27 years of service, which included convoy duty during the Iran-Iraq War and a nine month deployment in 2002 and 2003. On the Reuben James, torpedoman Robert Howard recalled, “All you had was a pair of binoculars and a rubber ear to press against the skin of the ship to listen for [submarine] screw noises.”. Survivors on the Reuben James saw the instantaneous damage. Young men in Logan County, West Virginia, home of lost sailor George Woody, sought revenge. The USS Reuben James DD-245 was sunk by a German U-Boat five full weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Some were knocked unconscious. The presence of the escort destroyers may have saved the crew of the Reuben James from even greater casualties. The sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 contributed to U.S. war sentiment, and America entered the war in early 1917, almost two years later. On October 17, 1941, a U-boat torpedoed the USS Kearny (DD-432) as she escorted a 50-ship convoy. John Ryan, 43, joined the Navy after his son, John Jr., died on the Reuben James. bound for Great Britain carrying war materials from our "Arsenal of Democracy." Have you heard of a ship called the good Reuben James Manned by hard fighting men both of honor and fame? One had been demolished by the torpedo; the other could not be lowered into the water because of the steep angle of the sinking ship. Word of the Reuben James sinking quickly reached the United States, but details were few. I knew I had read the backstory somewhere not too long ago. #1. USS Reuben James (DD-245)—- a post-World War I, four-funnel Clemson-class destroyer—- was the first United States Navy ship named for Boatswain's Mate Reuben James (c. 1776 –1838), who distinguished himself fighting in the First Barbary War, and the first sunk by hostile action in the European theater of World War II. 6731 Whittier Avenue, Suite C-100 McLean, VA 22101, From Tolkien to Hitler: Famous Soldiers of World War I, The Battle for Omaha Beach: The Men of the D-Day Invasion, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Last Campaign: The Battle of Waterloo, Operation Barbarossa: World War II’s Eastern Front, The Battle of Gettysburg: Turning Point of the American Civil War, What Made the German Luger the Most Famous Pistol in Modern Warfare, The Essential Role of Navy PBR Boats in the Vietnam War, The Real Story of General George Patton, Jr’s Death & Final Days, Colonel William O. Darby and the U.S. Army Rangers, Operation Frantic On Eastern Front: Preview Of the Cold War. While news of the sinking arrived quickly, word on the fate of the crew took several days longer. The pretext was that the Navy was helping to supply American troops stationed in Iceland. On September 4, 1941, a German U- boat attacked the destroyer USS Greer (DD-145) as she steamed alone toward Iceland. The Kearny, a modern ship commissioned in 1940, survived the attack and reached port, but 11 sailors were killed and 22 more were injured. "The Sinking of the Reuben James" is a song by Woody Guthrie about the sinking of the U. S. convoy escort USS Reuben James, which was the first U. S. naval ship sunk by German U-boats in World War II. While escorting convoy HX-156, the American destroyer U.S.S. AUTHOR: Words: Woody Guthrie & Pete Seeger w. the Almanac Singers EARLIEST DATE: November, 1941 the news of the sinking reached America, many concerned people wrote letters Her mission, seaman James Thompson wrote to his parents, was to “see who is raising hell with our ships.”, Only one destroyer in the convoy—the USS Niblack (DD-424)—had radar. We also have a detailed page on the American destroyer USS Reuben James (DD 245).. WWII Quarterly, the hardcover journal of the Second World War that is not available in bookstores or on newsstands, and can only be obtained and collected through a personal subscription through the mail. He said he was “itching to get a crack at” the German Navy. Although not the first U.S. Navy ship torpedoed before the war, the Reuben James was the first one lost. The ship was escorting an allied convoy near Iceland. 1941. Nimitz, Chief of Bureau of Navigation.”. 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