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"John D. Bulkeley, Commander of the USS Endicott..." Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2017 9:11 p.m. PST

… A daring attack in WWII.

"On August 17, 1944, the USS Endicott, captained by Lieutenant Commander John D. Bulkeley, blew up two German ships, using only a single 5" gun. Bulkeley's determination and courage that day prevented the escape of German merchant raiders that could have stalled the invasion of Southern France which was still at an early stage.

John D. Bulkeley was awarded the Medal of Honor after serving for less than a year during WWII. He was instrumental in rescuing General Douglas Macarthur from the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. When he was a Lieutenant he had a reputation for being a hard-charging fighter.

Lieutenant Commander Bulkeley was in command of the Gleaves-class destroyer the USS Endicott, assisting in the invasion of Southern France: Operation Dragoon. The operation's aim was to open up a second front against the Germans; give the allies access to a wider array of ports and supplies, and give French troops an opportunity to seek vengeance against their occupiers. The Endicott was one of many ships which sailed in with the invasion force, but she played a vital role in protecting the invasion.

One part of the plan was a series of feints towards the west, in the hope of drawing German opposition away from the main beachheads…"
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hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2017 8:15 a.m. PST

A modern U.S. destroyer versus a converted yacht and an A/S corvette was not exactly disadvantaged, even with the temporarily overheated breachblocks. And that doesn't include the 2 Allied gunboats with 6" guns, plus PT boats (…).


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2017 10:24 a.m. PST



Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2017 1:45 p.m. PST

"…give French troops an opportunity to seek vengeance against their occupiers…"

Is that a valid reason to invade France? Does that mean the France troops were allowed to participate in war crimes without punishment?

Another poorly written article, I suspect.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

ptdockyard Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Sep 2017 5:41 p.m. PST

Not really. It is actually a pretty good account of a unique action. Political correctness litmus test aside….

As far as the Endicott having it easy..the RN gunboats couldn't hit anything. The converted yacht was big and she had 2-3.5" naval guns along with a host of 37mm and 20mm. I make her in 1/600 and she is nearly as big as a destroyer. Same with the corvette- a big gun forward, AA and two torpedo tubes.

Destroyer actions can go south fast. A Tribal class DD was disabled in the Channel once by a 37mm hit from a German trawler, cutting the main steam line and leaving her dead in the water.

Dave G

Charlie 1212 Sep 2017 10:08 p.m. PST

This article is more than a bit over the top. Badly researched and badly written.

Bozkashi Jones13 Sep 2017 3:59 a.m. PST


Which was the Tribal action? I'd very much like to read more in case it would be a decent scenario.



hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2017 7:13 a.m. PST

Dave G;

Good try, but not a convincing argument. Size of the hull is almost irrelevant in the case of the yacht (think RMS Queen Mary), and battleship actions can also "go south" fast (think HMS Hood). The combat capability of the Allied ships in terms of overall firepower was easily 2-3 times that of the Axis, as the results of the battle showed. Also, the implication made by the author that this battle somehow saved the invasion force from damage is ludicrous.


Charlie 1213 Sep 2017 5:43 p.m. PST

Also, the implication made by the author that this battle somehow saved the invasion force from damage is ludicrous.

Mark, you're being far too kind.

ptdockyard Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Sep 2017 6:04 p.m. PST


The action I was thinking of was with two Hunt class DEs versus two groups of German escorts in the Channel 27 April 1944. The ship hit was the Albrighton, her steering disabled by a 37mm hit from a group of three trawlers she and HMS Goathland were engaging. The action attracted three German minesweepers (rough equivalents of the Gabbiano) and the DEs broke off after sinking one trawler and the torpedoing the merchant they were escorting. The Minesweepers made two damaging hits on Albrighton while she was in trouble, basically knocking out both main gun mounts.

Small ship actions where not always automatically decided by which ship SHOULD win. The HMS Khartoum sank the Italian sub Torricelli in a gun action where she took one hit in the torpedo tube. Five hours later the damaged torpedo started a fire that eventually blew a magazine and sank the ship. All from one 4.7" hit.

The Endicott had one gun operating, the gunboats guns were barely operational. This battle is well covered in Douglas Fairbank's Jr's book " A Hell of a war. I believe he was on the Aphis during the battle and noted the difficulty the crew had in operating the ancient 6" guns. A lucky hit on the one gun on the Endicott and the action could have ended in a much different result.

ptdockyard Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Sep 2017 7:29 p.m. PST

Sorry.. Albrighton action was in 1943, not 1944.

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

Sure things can go wrong in naval battles, at any scale, but that's no excuse for a distorted representation of the balance of forces (presumably to appeal to national pride or to attract readers).

WRT the the "one gun operating" claim, even the article in question contradicts this: "…firing her number three 5" gun, and bringing her other guns into use as they cooled. As each one became operational, the crew had to act carefully, to avoid overheating them again. The destroyer was never able to bring all four of her guns to bear." Fine; so they can't fire at 18 rpm (…). BTW, this is borne out by other brief accounts I have access to (Morison; O'Hara).


Bozkashi Jones15 Sep 2017 2:51 a.m. PST

Just going back to the point about, essentially, lucky hits, I did read somewhere that at the Lofoten Islands action one Scharnhorst took a 4.7" hit which jammed underneath the turret ring and prevented it traversing for a period.

If true, I'm not sure many wargames rules allow for a battleship to lose a turret (however temporarily) to a destroyer!

Dave – thanks for the info. I love those sorts of actions, so it may well be one I try out when I get all my gear together again after moving house.


hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2017 7:01 a.m. PST

More off-topic comments …

The 4.7" damage anecdote sounds unlikely (although anything is possible); FWIW, none of my books mention this; for example, from "Battleships" by Garzke & Dulin:

In the subsequent engagement with the Renown, the Scharnhorst's radar malfunctioned, and she couldn't track the target. She came under fire from the Renown briefly at 0518, but repeated course changes allowed her to escape undamaged. By 0715 the German battlecruisers had outdistanced their pursuers. However, the Scharnhorst's turret Anton was put out of action by heavy seas that cascaded over the bows and into the turret through the cartridge ejection scuttles, rangefinder gear, and the gun bloomers. The ammunition hoist motor was short-circuited by seawater.

The same book says that Gneisenau was hit in that action, but by Renown's 15" shells:

Almost simultaneously, the Gneisenau was hit by two 381-mm shells. The first went through her director tower, severed many electric cables, and passed out of the ship without detonating. Debris killed one officer and five men. The optical rangefinders for the forward 150-mm guns were destroyed, and fire control was shifted aft. The second shell damaged and silenced the after turret.


ptdockyard Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Sep 2017 5:58 p.m. PST

My pleasure. Small fry rule. :) That is where most of the action was.

I would agree about how small round hits on capital ships are handled in some rule systems. I started in the mid 70's on Seapower II and remember trying to reconcile the "soft kill" of the South Dakota off Guadalcanal by mostly 8" and below versus the "nil" damage results that game would have probably given.

ptdockyard Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Sep 2017 12:34 p.m. PST

Found the Tribal vs Trawler. It was the HMS Eskimo off Jersey June 27 1944 off Jersey. She was hit (according to V. O'Hara "The German Fleet at War") by an 88mm and a 37mm in the engine room, the latter hit severing the steam line. She could only limp at 6kts afterwards. The Germans fled.

Here is a description of the battle as well:

PDF link

Also here:


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