TOUCHET was a class T2 tanker built by the Alabama Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Company, Mobile, AL, 10,172 tons, delivered 26 Nov 1943. Bound from Baytown, Texas, to New York with 16,500 tons of heating oil, she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-193 (Korvkpt. Hans Pauckstadt) on 3 December 1943. Casualties were 10 Armed Guard sailors; there were 70 survivors.
(U-193 was sunk by British aircraft in the Bay of Biscay on 28 April 1944 with the loss of all hands. TOUCHET was the only ship U-193 sank during its wartime career.)
Casualties (see http://www.usmm.org/armedguard.html):
Seaman 1c Robert C. Evans, South Carolina
Seaman 1c Harold J. Farni, Illinois
Seaman 1c Leo J. Felgenauer, Michigan
Seaman 1c James P. Fisher, Ohio
Seaman 1c Joseph A. Fowler, Kentucky
Seaman 1c Carmelo J. Giallanza, New York
Seaman 1c William E. Gilson, Jr., Kentucky
Seaman 1c Ronell H. Goins, North Carolina
Seaman 1c Carl J. Gridelli, Illinois
Seaman 1c Manuel J. Gutierrez, Michigan
Jesse Field Bird, Master
Irvine George Bollendorf (deceased June 2007), Armed Guard
Andrew Florie, Armed Guard; see http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/22825
Details of attack (see http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/3143.html.):
At 07.47 hours on 3 Dec 1943, the unescorted TOUCHET (Master Jesse Field Bird) was hit on the port side by a torpedo from U-193 in the Gulf of Mexico while steaming at 16.5 knots. The torpedo struck the bow ten feet aft of the stem and opened a 20 feet long hole. The tanker was equipped with a torpedo indicator that warned the crew but the turn to port was too late, after the hit the engine was first secured while turning to the opposite direction and then ordered full ahead in an attempt to escape. Due to the flooding the bow settled and forced the ship to stop, when another torpedo warning sounded but this was apparently a dud hitting the port side amidships. The most of the ten officers, 40 crewmen and 30 Armed Guards (the ship was armed with one 5in, one 3in and eight 20mm guns) abandoned ship in six lifeboats, only the armed guard officer and ten of his men remained behind and manned the 5in stern gun. At 08.22 hours, a coup de grāce hit the engine room on the starboard side and caused the ship to sink stern first at 11.00 hours. The men still on board had to jump overboard and swam to a raft but the suction of the sinking ship was so strong that ten Armed Guard drowned.
On 5 December, 43 survivors in four boats were picked up by the Norwegian steam merchant LILLEMOR (Master Bernt Belland) and landed the next day at Pensacola, Florida. The same day, USS FALGOUT (DE 324) picked up eleven survivors from another boat and on 6 December, the remaining 16 survivors in the last boat were picked up by USS RAVEN (AM 55) and landed in Galveston on 8 December.
TOUCHET was the last ship sunk by U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard website www.armed-guard.com