A Call to Action and an Action Report
Updated: Sep 12
Before the YMS-346 was called to action in WWII, the ship was being built in Jacksonville, Florida by the Gibbs Gas Engine Company. A christening ceremony took place In December 1942, when four minesweepers and a steel sub-chaser, were all christened by southern women who asked President Roosevelt for the honor to do so. The YMS-346 was christened by a Miss Florence M. Edwards of Columbia, SC. At the ceremony, considered Jacksonville's largest mass launching of war ships, Florida's Senator Claude Pepper promised that "we will not stop this war until the forces of tyranny have been wiped from the face of the earth."
This newspaper clipping was sent to me by someone I've been corresponding with, the son of another sailor, John Bell Power, who served on the YMS-75.
I was able to acquire an Action Report from the National Archives Catalog covering the period from June 1 through July 14, 1944, before and after D-Day. The report was submitted by the Commanding Officer of the YMS-346, John W. Wilke, to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet on July 25, 1944. Outlined in the report are more specific details about the duties of the crew and their encounters with enemy fire from the air and from a German Battery. It supports the timeline of events depicted in previous posts. An abbreviated version of the Action Report will follow an excerpt from the First Anniversary paper, written by Yeoman Meyer H. Leavitt in 1944. A link to the entire 12 page Action Report will be provided at the end of this post.
Yeoman Leavitt - We traveled all about England making stops at Falmouth, Plymouth, Dartmouth, Portland, Weymouth, South Hampton, Portsmouth, Sheerness, Tilsbury, and enroute visited Roseneath, Scotland and Londonderry, North Ireland. At Londonderry, our sweep wire was replaced and after several days of practicing sweeping and dan buoy laying we were ready for the big job in store for us — THE INVASION OF FRANCE.
June 5, 1944 we left Plymouth, England in company with our sister YMSs and a stellar convoy and headed for the Coast of France. “D” Day, June 6, 1944 found us sweeping enemy mines on the Coast of France so that our soldiers and supplies could be landed safely. From “D” Day to the present day we have swept through enemy air attacks and enemy shore battery fire, but by fine navigating by our captain and with the help of God, we are still going strong.
Abbreviated Action Report (without the time log).
Y2 Squadron consisting of U.S.S. YMS 346, 347, 348, 349, 350, 351, and 352. Senior vessel: YMS 347 was one of seven sweeper units assigned to assault force “U” for the task of sweeping approach channels, transport areas, and fire support areas in order that an Allied Force might be landed on Beach Utah.
June 1 - June 30, 1944- Effective June 1, 1944 transferred from Task force Unit 126.1 and assigned to Task Force 125, Assault Force “U”; Rear Admiral Moon, U.S.N., in accordance with operation Plan No 2-44 of the Western Naval Task Force, Allied Naval Expeditionary Force, Short Title “ON WEST TWO” File A4-3, Serial 00144, No 370. From June 1 to June 5 in Saltash, Cornwall, England. Underway from Saltash, England June 5, 1944. Proceeded at various courses and speeds escorting convoy U. 1 B to operations off the Coast of Northern France.
June 6, 1944- Delivered Convoy U 1 B in Transport area off St. Marcouf Island, France. No casualties in convoy in transit from Saltash, England. Conducted “O” Type sweeping operations of area Vermont from inner edge of St. Marcouf Island reef to 5 fathoms curve. No mines. No casualties.
June 7, 1944- Conducted “O” Type sweeping operations in Area Hickory making complete sweep of area. No mines. No casualties
( "O" Type sweeping is considered the standard moored sweep or OROPESA, a type of mechanical minesweeping.)
June 9, 1944 - Enemy aircraft attacked and dropped an object 200 yards off the starboard bow. Object exploded. Commenced General Quarters and opened fire on enemy aircraft expending 70 rounds of 40mm ammunition and 175 rounds 20mm ammunition. No hits were scored on the plane. Secured from General Quarters. Conducted “O” Type sweeping operations in Kansas Area making complete sweep of area. No mines. No casualties. Enemy plane passed over anchorage. Opened fire expending six rounds of 40mm ammunition. No hits on plane were observed.
June 12, 1944- Conducted “O” Type sweeping operations in Kansas Area making complete sweep of area. No mines. No casualties
June 13, 1944- Conducted operation of picking up dan buoys in Kansas Area
June 14, 1944- Conducted “O” type sweeping operation in Area Hickory to a depth of four (4) miles north of Dixie Line. No mines. No casualties. Enemy plane dropped a bomb 1500 yards off starboard beam. Bomb exploded causing no damage or casualties. Commenced General Quarters. Secured from General Quarters. Enemy plane dropped bomb 2000 yards off starboard quarter. Bomb exploded causing no damage or casualties. Commenced General Quarters. Secured from General Quarters.
June 15, 1944- Commenced General quarters because of planes in vicinity. Secured from General Quarters. Underway from operations off St. Marcouf Island, France, and proceeded to Portsmouth, England in company with YMS-347, YMS-348, YMS-349. Arrived at Portsmouth, England 15, June 1944.
June 16-17, 1944- In Portsmouth, England.
June 18, 1944- Underway from Portsmouth, England in company with YMS 347, 348, 349,
18 June 1944 and proceeded to operations off St. Marcouf Island, France arriving 18 June 1944. Anchored assuming duties of guard ship warning approaching ships of mine field off St. Marcouf Island. Commenced General Quarters because enemy plan was suspected to be in area. Secured from General Quarters.
June 19-21, 1944- Anchored with duties of guard ship warning approaching ships of mine field off St. Marcouf Island.
June 22, 1944- Conducted “O” type sweeping operations in Love Channel from Buoy 14 to Buoy 12. No mines, No casualties. While conducting sweeping operations shore batteries (estimated to be 240mm) near Barfleur Light, France opened fire on ship. Position bearing 152° T. from Barfleur Light at a distance of 5 miles. 5 salvos of 4 rounds apiece were fired at ship making a total of 20 rounds in all. The fire was not returned. No casualties were sustained., but shrapnel struck ship causing no material damage.
June 23, 1944- Conducted “O” type sweeping operations in channel #14 from buoy 12 Zebra to 14 Dog. No mines. No casualties.
June 24, 1944- Conducted operations of laying dan buoys and “O” type clearance sweep of area. No mines. No casualties.
June 27, 1944
Conducted “O” type sweeping operations in Prairie Area making complete sweep of area. No mines. No casualties.
June 28, 1944
Conducted “O” type sweeping operations in channel from L3 to LA Hogue and Grande Rade. No mines. No Casualties.
July 1, 1944- No operations. Enemy planes dropped parachute flares overhead. Commenced General Quarters. Secured from General Quarters.
July 2, 1944- Commenced “O” Type sweeping operations off outer harbor Cherbourg, France.
YMS 350 hit by enemy mine bearing 062° T. approximately 300 yards from breakwater.
YMS 350 sunk in 6 1/2 fathoms of water. Proceeded to anchorage off St. Marcouf Island France.
(*When the YMS-350 hit a mine and sunk, the YMS-346 was part of that same operation. The crew heard the explosion and witnessed the ship sink. More on the sinking of the YMS-350 is the subject of a previous post entitled The Sinking of the YMS-350 and the YMS-304 .
July 3, 1944- Commenced “O” type sweeping operations off outer harbor Cherbourg.
Detonated enemy mine 250 yards off port quarter. No damage. No casualties.
Detonated two enemy mines 250 yards off port quarter. No damage. No casualties.
Entered outer harbor of Cherbourg, France and anchored for night.
July 4, 1944- Commenced “O” type sweeping operations off outer harbor Cherbourg.
Detonated two enemy mines 250 yards off starboard quarter. No damage. No casualties.
Commenced recovering dan buoys in swept area. Entered outer harbor of Cherbourg, France and anchored for night.
July 5, 1944- Shore batteries opened fire at enemy aircraft. Commenced General Quarters.
Secured from General Quarters. Commenced General Quarters. Secured from General Quarters. Continued recovering dan buoys in swept area off Cherbourg, France. Proceeded to anchorage off St. Marcouf Island, France.
July 6, 1944- Proceeded from anchorage off St. Marcouf Island to conduct “O” type sweeping operations off outer harbor, Cherbourg, France. No mines. No casualties. Anchored in outer harbor of Cherbourg, France.
July 7, 1944- Conducted “O” type sweep of area off outer Harbor, Cherbourg, France. No mines. No casualties. Secured from sweeping operations off outer harbor, Cherbourg, France and proceeded to anchorage off St. Marcouf Island, France.
July 9, 1944- Proceeded from operations off St. Marcouf Island, France in company with YMS 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, BYMS 2233 and MMS 301 to Saltash, Cornwall, England. Took shelter in Portland, England Harbor due to condition of sea. Underway and proceeded to Saltash, Cornwall, England.
July 10,1944- Arrived in Saltash, Cornwall, England and remained until July 24, 1944 undergoing repairs to ship and receiving supplies and equipment. All sweeping operations were performed using “O” type gear, size 4. All mines detonated were of the snap line type-moored.
Between the dates of June 5 and July 14, 1944 we fired 175 rounds of 20 mm and 76 rounds of 40mm ammunition. There were no hits made on any enemy aircraft. There were no personnel casualties or breakage to ordnance equipment . All ordnance equipment performed in a most satisfactory manner.
All departments performed their duty in an excellent manner.
We were limited in our sweeping operations because we had only “O” type sweep gear aboard.
The Deck Force personnel are to be complimented for their unceasing efforts to keep the sweep gear in an operative condition. They displayed skill and ingenuity in repairing and adjusting gear which was frequently damaged or destroyed by the detonation of mines or underwater snags.
The Engineering personnel are to be complemented for their efforts in keeping the ship in an operative condition throughout this extended period of operations.
No casualties occurred during this operation.
All personnel performed their duty as assigned skillfully and untiringly in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Navy.
John W. Wilke, Jr.
The entire Action Report can be found here.
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