What happen to LLoyd F. Landscoot crew member on board the "USAT DORCHESTER (US Army Transport)"?

Video 75th Remembrance - The Four Chaplains & The Sinking of the USAT Dorchester

Visit Battery Park, NY in Sept 2004

Battery Park, NY Battery Park, NY
my son near the eagle Visit Battery Park in Sept. 2004. Purple Heart
Lloyd was awarded with "the Purple Heart", this is one of Charles Roegiers KIA during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in 1944. I am a 3th cousin once removed to him.

Loyd Landscoot, ND WW2 Honoree - KIA
Loyd Landscoot, ND Purple Heart
Jamestown, ND
East Coast Memorial, Battery park,NY
Memorial certificate

USAT Dorchester Files

A transcription of the Dorchester files can be read below.

On January 23, 1943, the Dorchester left New York harbor with 904 people aboard. She headed north as part of a six-ship convoy en route to Newfoundland and Greenland. The ship carried 130 crewmen, 23 members of the Navy Armed Guard and 751 military personnel and others. After stopping to pick up supplies at St. Johns, Newfoundland, on January 27, the Dorchester returned to sea on January 29, accompanied by two other cargo ships and three Coast Guard cutters that formed their convoy.

USAT Dorchester source: Wikipedia Page 1

Summary of Statements by survivors of the SS Dorchester passenger-cargo vessel, 5654 G.T. Merchants-miner Transportation Co., operated by AGWI Lines, Inc., chartered to Army Transport Service.

1 : The “DORCHESTER” was torpedoed without warning about 03:55 GCT on February 3, 1943 at 59° 22' N., 48° 42' W., while on route from St John's New Foundland to Narsarssauk, Greenland with about 904 passengers and crew on board, about 1.069 tons general cargo and lumber, and 60 bags of mail and parcel post, draft forward about 19', aft 20'1”. The vessel sank within 25 minutes (about 04:20 GCT, February 3, 1943) in the position noted above, plunging bow first after having listed about 85° to starboard.

2 : The vessel was on course 11° true, speed 10 knots in 1830 fathoms steering evasive courses, (course changed at 21:30 GCT, february 2, 1943 to 335° true, and at 00:30 GCT, February 3, 1943 to 55° true), but not zigzagging, no lights showing (some disagreement on this point), radio believed to have been silent, all radio operators lost, about 29 lookouts, one on forecastle head, one on port bridge wing, 4 on flying bridge, 2 on each side of each deck, and gun crew on guns and machine guns (Armed Guard had binoculars, also pair on bridge). The weather was clear, sea smooth with slight chop, wind N.E. Force 3, visibility good, no moonlight, 3 ships of convoy in sight. The escort Commander, upon receiving a report from Cominch (C&R) of submarines in the vicinity, warned the vessels in the convoy, in turn a warning was announced over the public address system of the DORCHESTER, advising personnel to wear life preservers and parkas. It is possible all persons aboard DORCHESTER did not hear this warning.

3 : At 03:55 CGT something exploded without warning just abaft of amidships in the vicinity of the engine room; the explosion was muffled, there was very little noise, but considerable concussion. The vessel swung to starboard and lost way, the engines having apparently been stopped by flooding of the engine room, the ship listed sharply to starboard. The shell of the ship was ruptured in the vicinity of the engine room, and just under the refrigerator plant a few feet aft of amidships; some of bulkheads were distorted since some of doors tended to jam; both generators and an auxiliary gas generator above the water line shortened or failed to function. Flooding was very rapid, some flying debris, N° 4 lifeboat believed holed by fragments, n° 7 lifeboat reported smashed beyond use. 6 blasts were sounded on the wisthle to indicate that the vessel has been torpedoed, and no counter offensive was undertaken. The vessel was armed with one 3”/50 caliber gun forward, one 4”/40 caliber gun aft, and four 20 mm machine guns. Confidential papers and registered publications were thrown overboard by the Navy Armed Guard Officer on orders from the master.

4 : About 03:58 GCT, the Master ordered the ship to be abandoned. An attempt to blow abandon ship signal on the whistle was made, but only part of the signal was completed because of lack of steam. Some of the crew and passengers left the ship, many others remained aboard and apparently went down with the ship. N° 7 lifeboat was demolished beyond use by the explosion. N° 6 lifeboat with about 51 persons in the boat and about 5 hanging on to the boat was located and the personnel removed by the SUCGC ESCANABA. N° 13 lifeboat was found and the persons removed by the USCGC COMANCHE. Remainder of the survivors and known dead were on liferafts or in the water. Of the 14 lifeboats aboard, only N° 6 and N° 13 were succesfully used in abanding ship.

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N° 2 lifeboat was lowered succesfully but was soon swamped by the excessive number of persons in or trying to get in it. N° 4 lifeboat was capsized almost as soon as it was lowered. It is not clear whether this was due to excessive crowding or damage to the boat. N° 9 lifeboat was left hanging by a davit. N° 8 lifeboat was probably not lowered (one of the seamen was supposed to lower this boat found no one else to assist him so he joined N° 6 lifeboat and assisted in lowering it). Apparently N° 2-4-6-11-13 and 14 lifeboats were lowered. Some davits were damaged in the explosion. Several liferafts were cut loose by the ship's crew, but left on deck to float clear if the vessel sank. Other liferafts were reported to have been dropped over theside (probably by the inexperienced personnel), and injured persons who were in the boats of in the water. Several liferafts were still aboard when the vessel sank. The USCGC COMANCHE rescued 97 persons between about 05:00 and 12:30 GCT, february 3, 1943. The USCGC ESCANABA rescued 132 persons between 04:30 and 12:30 GCT february 3, 1943. All of these survivors and 13 bodies were brought to Narsarssuak, Greenland where they were landed at 06:00 GCT, February 4, 1943.

There was apparently no panic during the abandoning ship operations. Some lifeboats swamped due to overcrowding. Many of the passengers did not realize the seriousness of the situation. When the vessel went down, many persons were seen standing motionless on deck and apparently making no effort to leave the ship. The best estimate of the toal number of persons aboard is 904; of these there were 130 in the crew and 24 Navy Armed Guard. Survivors reported to date: 4 US Army officers, 131 US Army enlisted personnel, 28 Merchant Marine, 44 contractors civilian employees, 3 Danish citizens enroute to Greenland, 12 US Navy personnel, 7 of US coast Guard personnel. Total survived 229 of whom 73 were admitted to US Army Hospital at Narsarssuak, Greenland. 14 known dead, 13 of whom were buried at Narsarssuak, 1 at Ivigtut. Balance of 661 missing and unreported.

5 : Some survivors believe that they sighted the submarine on the surface after they had abandoned ship, but this is considered doubtfull. From the position of the other vessels in the convoy and the reported position of the torpedo hit, it is assumed the submarine was abaft of beam of the DORCHESTER when the torpedo was fired. The DORCHESTER was the center vessel in the line of 3 vessels in the convoy, all vessels are in line not in column.

6 : Vessel was proceeding under “dark ship” conditions; however, some survivors reported that occasionally some light could be seen when doors were opened and closed. After the attack the single-celled flashlights carried by the survivors could be seen. No navigation lights were burning. The red-lensed, single-celled flashlights with which DORCHESTER personnel were equipped were very valuable in locating and resuming the survivors; It is unknown whether these lights were of any benefit to the enemy. The SS LUTZ on starboard beam; SS BISCAYA one point abaft port beam; USCGC ESCANABA patrolling starboard. After the DORCHESTER was hit the SS LUTS and BISCAYA apparently slowed down or stopped, then resumed the basic course zigzagging, with the USCGC COMANCHE screening them. After firing star shells, the ESCANABA began picking up survivors with the USCGC TAMPA searching and screening. Just prior to the attack the watch officer of the DORCHESTER stated that he could not pick up the COMANCHE and TAMPA in the darkness. Although none of the survivors interviewed had ever been on a vessel when it w s torpedoed, one of the survivors who had been in another convoy where vessels had been torpedoed, reported that there was much less noise in this case than we he had heard these other vessels torpedoed. None of the escort vessels heard the explosion. The second officer of the DORCHESTER who was asleep at the time the torpedo hit and was awaken by the explosion, stated that he tought

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at the time that the ship struck a piece of ice and had no idea that it was a torpedo. All of the survivors that were interviewed stated that the explosion was muffled, that apparently occured well under water; that there was considerable concussion but very little noise. The vessel was lifted by the explosion and began to list starboard almost immediately. After the explosion there were strong ammonia fumes; some fuel oil was seen along the starboard side. It is believed that the ammonia fumes came from the refrigerator plant which was located just above the engine room on the main deck. Survivors spoke of the calm attitude of the Army Chaplains who were passengers aboard, all of whom were missing. It was reported that the Army Catholic Chaplain give his life jacket tot one of the men, and that the Army Jewish Rabbi supplied one survivor with a pair of gloves.
Lieutenant, USNR

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March 9, 1943. From Arpaia William H. LT USNR to the Vice Officer of Naval Operations via Port Director, Third Naval District. Subject : U.S.A.T. DORCHESTER sinking of. General instructions for Commanding Officers of Naval Armed Guards and Merchant ships 1942.

1: In accordance with reference (a) the following is submidded: It was assigned to the U.S.A.T. DORCHESTER on January 21, 1943. Boarded the vessel at Pier II, Staten Island and relieved LT. McLeod at 18.00.

Took charge of the gun crew, which consisted of 18 gunners, 3 signalmen and 2 radiomen. The vessel got underway on January 22, 1943 in a 64 ship convoy, quite heavily escorted with destroyers and corvettes. The U.S.A.T. DORCHESTER was assigned position 23 in the convoy. Before was arrived at St Johns, Newfoundland, the main body of the convoy broken off and columms 1 and 2 steamed into St. Johns. We arrived in St. Johns on the evening of either January 27th or 28th. We remained there one day and got underway on 29th around 17.00. The U.S.A.T. DORCHESTER maintained position 21 in a three-ship convoy, which consisted of the BISCAYA, position 31 and the LUTZ, position II. The DORCHESTER was the Convoy Commodore. The escorts consisted of the TAMPA, a heavy coast guard cutter, and the ESCANABA and the COMANCHE lighter cutters. The COMANCHE patrolled a position about 2000 yards forward of the convoy on the port bow. The ESCANABA patrolled a position about 2000 yards forward of the convoy on the starboard bow. The TAMPA maintained a continuos forward position from starboard to port and from port to starboard diagonally. This pistion of all three merchant ships and of the three escort vessels was maintained untill 24.55 February 3, 1943, at which time the U.S.A.T. DORCHESTER was torpedoed.

Up untill 15.30 of February 2, 1943, there had been no incidents or no indications that there were enemey submarines in the vicinity. However, at 15.30 of February 2, 1943, the TAMPA which was the escort commander, blinkered a message to the DORCHESTER stating that “ an enemy submarine is estimated in the vicinity.” This message was immediately relayed by the DORCHESTER to the LUTZ and the ESCANABA.

As Armed Guard Commander, I immediately buzzed out the gun crew and battle stations were maintained up to 18.30. All of the ready boxes were opened, the breech on the 3”-50 gun forward was opened, the 20 mm guns were cocked and magazine tension was cranked at 60lb. Pressure.

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The entire and complete crew was held in immediate readiness for instant and prompt action. I consulted with the Master, Captain Danielson. I put all of my confidential publications in a sheet metal perforated box, together with his, which he had in his cabinet. The crew was instructed in the event a wake was observed, that without orders from me they should immediately open fire on the 20 m.m. guns, lay a barrage of gun fire well forward of the wake into the water, and that in the event a torpedo did hit and no submarine was visible or no wake was observed, that then in that event they should fire the 20 m.m. guns from the direction from which the torpedo came. I consulted with Captain Krecker who had charge of the Army troops. He was told that he should not alarm the enlisted men but that they should be advised to go to bed fully clothed and with their life jackets on. Before we left New York I had consulted with Captain Krecker on all of the details relative to our voyage and we had agreed not to permit any troops on deck. We also made arrangements that the Army should maintain a contious series of look-outs consisting og 17 men. I continuously maintained 4 of my men on look-out at the key positions forward and aft at the phones. After having received warning of the submarine the Army agreed to double their look-outs so that from 15.30 on they maintained 34 lookouts continuously high and low. These lookouts had been instructed by me personally in the form of a lecture as to what to look for and how to make their reports to the bridge. Also the Army maintained a black-out detail and I had a Petty Officer of the watch continuously on duty, who also checked on the lookouts, checked the magazines every half hour and maintained and enforced a continuous and strict black-out detail.

After 18.30 I kept half of my crew constantly at the guns and the other half were fully clothed in their quarters, ready for immediate combat action. I maintained one 20 m.m. Gun on the port side continuously cocked and one on the starboard side continuously cocked, at which time alternately the other two 20 m.m. Guns would be cocked; Magazine tension was maintained at 60 lb. My crew from 18.30 onward maintained a watch and watch or condition II operation with instructions to immediately train the guns in the direction from which any periscope, wake or submarine is reported noticed or observed and to even open fire in the event I was not instantly on the scene at the time. I kept continually conferring with the M 10 knots per hour. The Captain advised that if we were not torpedoed by 24.00 that we had nothing to fear by reason of the fact that we would be in iceberg area where submarines cannot operate. In fact, the lookouts had been instructed to watch for icebergs, among other things.

At 24.15 I retired to my cabin to get some rest after having checked all of the guns and all of the lookouts personnaly. At 24.55 a torpedo hit the DORCHESTER forward of the beam on the starboard side. Evidently the torpedo was pretty far under water

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as I did not make too loud a noise. However, immediatey the engines ceased to function, all of the lights went out on the ship and it listed to starboard to about a 30 ° angle. None of the lookouts reported having seen or heard anything other than a swishing sound almost immediately prior to the explosion. Instantly pandemonium broke loose. The Army troops started to throw life rafts overboard and started to leave the ship. Both the 4” and the 3” guns were loaded. One of the gunners on the 3 20 m.m. Gun on the starboard side had been blown out of the fact that the ship listed immediately, it was impossible to operate any of the guns. The bridge was unable to give a fixed red light because of the fact that the electricity was cut off. A fog whistle was sounded 6 times and another series of 6 blasts was started when the steam gave out. No white rockets were fired. The DORCHESTER immediately became lit up with red lights and flash lights. The red lights were attached to many of the life preservers. The flashlights were owned and used by the Army personnel and some of the civilians aboard.

The Master was on the flying bridge when I last saw him. I asked him if he had disposed of the confidential publications. He said he had not, and that I should do so. I immediately went into his cabin and personally threw all the confidential papers overboard from the starboard side in the perforated sheet metal box. I asked the Captain if he saw anything and he said that he didn't. He remained on the flying bridge and to all intents and purposes did not probably realize that the ship was going to sink. After becoming certainly convinced that open fire would be futile and that the ship was sinking and listing rapidly, I gave orders to the entire gun crew forward and aft to abandon ship.

I abandoned ship from the port side on the beam in a doughnut raft. Eight to ten of the gun crew were with me but most of them fended for themselves. McCoy and McMinn, seamen First Class, after a doughnut raft had been thrown overboard and after we descended and were standing on the listed vessel, discovered that some soldiers had taken our raft. Both McCoy and McMinn were entirely on their own and with the ship sinking under them volunteered to climb up to top side and get another raft, which they did, and which they threw down. I then dove into the water, got into the raft and held it for them and they both got in as well as Taylor SL/c. It seemed that McCoy and McMinn displayed a dash of courage which certainly deserves some commendation.

There were 921 people on the ship, of whom 227 were saved. The COMMANCHE and the ESCANABA picked up in excess of 100 survivors each. The TAMPA went on, and escorted the LUTZ and the BISCAYA into Greenland. I had 23 men in my gun crew, 14 of whom died.

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The only survivors were as follows:
Nowinski, Michael J. SM3c N 610 87 22
McCoy, Winfield S2/0 N 612 51 63
McMinn, William J. S2/c N 652 58 03
McVey, edward John, S2/c N 611 68 15
Strickling, Willie F. S2/c N 616 63 37
Tarring, Charles R. S2/c N 614 63 86
Summers, Roy Nicholas S2/c N 668 67 67
Swanson, Darrell A. S2/c N 300 94 91
Szymczak, Chester J. S2/c N 300 94 91

Ralp L. Taylor, S/c died in our raft. We did everything we possible could to eep him alive. We were in the raft for 6 hours and 15 minutes and due tot he cold water were practically unable to move at the time we were picked up. After we were in the raft for about two hours McCoy was able by tearing my pocket to give himself an injection. He also gave me an injection and McMinn an injection. I believe that the effects of the morphine kept us alive and made it possible for us to resist the severity of the weather. At that time taylor had already died. He lost his mind before dying. We were picked up by the COMMANCHE and taken into Bluie West I, Greenland. We arrived there about 02. 00 february 4, 1943. At the time we were torpedoed we were 140 miles from our ultimate destination Bluie West I, Greenland and about 80 miles from the mouth of the Fjord. I have no immediate information as to what percentage of the merchant marine were saved. I believe there were in excess of 500 Army troops on board as well as some Navy and Coast Guard passengers. There were about 150 civilians. I understand that about 42 of the civilians were saved.

After we were hit het LUTZ and the BISCAYA collided. I am given to understand that the LUTZ was intending to swing back to the scene of the disaster in order to pick up survivors. In so doing it collided with the BISCAYA and was damaged considerably on the starboard side. I al unfamiliar with the extent of the damage, if any, caused to the BISCAYA. Either the ESCANABA or the COMMANCHE fired a salvo of star flares about 45 minutes after we were torpedoed. All of the survivors were landed at Bluie West I and afforded hospitalization and medical care by the Army Base Hospital. The Master, captain Danielson was very cooperative and willing to follow any suggestions and recommendations relating to convoy procedure. I can very honestly state that rull cooperation was received from all of the merchant marine officers, also the Army afforded me their fullest cooperation.

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Nobody saw the submarine. My best judgement, relying upon my sense of hearing, would be that the torpedo came from a forward position, hit forward of the beam on the starboard side, went upwards and aft. It did not come through the port side. It evidently hit the refrigerator system since there was a strong ammonia odor which permeated throughout the entire vessel. I am not able to say with any degree of certainty as to whether the torpedo may have been of a type or kind which had gas.

My gun crew acted with the utmost efficiency and gave me their entire and absolute cooperation and were with me one hundred percent. They would have gone dwon with the ship had I not given them orders to abandon. I am certain that all of them left the ship were unable to get to a raft or life boat. Several of the life boats were unable to be lowered as they were shattered by the explosion. Some of them which were lowered immediately became swamped. That afternoon the Captain held General Quarters as to abandon ship procedure. The day prior to the torpedoing I had held target practice and expended 5 rounds of ammunition with the 3” gun forward and an entire magazine in each of the four 20 m. m. guns. The 4” – 50 gun aft was in perfect operating condition. The guns were maintained and kept in the best of condition.

We were not given orders from the escort Commander to institute zig-zag operations at the time we were advised that an enemy submarine was in the vicinity. Had we been given such orders the Master would certainly have followed them for, as hereinbefore stated, he was very cooperative.

The ESCANABA, which was on our starboard side and forward of the convoy was not equipped with radar. We did not receive air coverage, which we expected, when we were informed that enemy submarine was in the vicinity. And that a pack of them, consisting of twenty-one, were somewhere in the area. I was also further advised that the Army Air corps sank a submarine which was on the surface and which was following the reminder of the convoy into Greenland. I was further given to understand that one of the escort vessels got a pip on his radar, which indicated an object on the surface astern of the convoy heading away from it. The LUTZ, which was on our port side, was a coal burner and the ship smoked continuously night and day from the time we left St. Johns. It left a continuous black streak or smoke which was noticeable even in the black of night. At the time we were torpedoed, the water was relatively calm, however, there were no stars and no moonlight. It was very dark.

I might mention that the fixed red lights on the life preservers proved to be very beneficial in saving lives. It was

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observed and, from my own personal experience, it seems that those who ha dthe most clothes on were better able to withstand the shocks of exposure even though their clothes got wet; All of the survvors who kept their shoes on, even though the feet were submerged in water, had less ill effects from exposure than those who did not have shoes on.

The box rafts appeared to be most effective – even better than the lifeboats. However the two on the port side did not slide off when released because of the fact that the vessel had lsited to starboars. William H. Arpaia.