Gunboat Plymouth’s Gallant Death

[Excerpt]

Submarine and Destroyer Among 6 U.S. Ships Lost

WASHINGTON. — (AP) — Six U.S. warships, battling the Axis throughout the world, have gone to the bottom in the last two months, the Navy reported yesterday.

The submarine Pickerel and destroyer Maddox topped the list of lost vessels which also included the gunboat Plymouth, submarine chaser PC-496, mine sweeper Sentinel, and submarine rescue vessel Redwing.

…..

Another underwater explosion sent the gunboat Plymouth to the bottom of the Atlantic off the North Carolina coast Aug. 5. Whether she was torpedoed or struck a mine was not disclosed. Her commander, Lt. Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel Jr. was wounded.

St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) Aug 16, 1943

St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) Aug 16, 1943

The Once Over
By H.L. PHILLIPS

LINES TO THE ALVA

(“The gunboat Plymouth, torpedoed off the Carolinas, was formerly the Alva, $3,000,000 Vanderbilt yacht.” — News item.)

Once gleaming beauty of the peaceful seas,
Pristine and regal, born for soft, smooth ways;
A flashing symbol of great luxuries —
A yacht designed for tranquil lazy days. . .
And now a shattered thing with ghastly wounds —
A battered hulk upon the ocean floor —
A mild, great lady who went out of bounds
And died a gallant scrapper in a war!

II.

The Alva! . . . How her name shown in the news
When all the world was free from slimy hate!
How oft we read of some gay, carefree cruise
When no one dreamed of her impending fate!
She was the glamour girl of yachting magazines;
Society observed her every move;
The newsreels played her up mid tropic scenes. . .
Before she died, a scrapper “in the groove”!

III.

To cruise a tranquil world in style deluxe —
To ring with merry laughter and with song —
To know the duchesses and all the dukes —
And hear the rhumba dance tunes linger long. . .
For this was she turned out a few years back,
The dream ship of a famous millionaire;
None sensed the lady would a wallop pack
And go down fighting in a wolf-packs’s lair.

IV.

To take her leisure on far waters blue;
To give some time to scientific aims —
(This, too, the lady found the time to do;)
But all such stuff was just like playing games
Compared to what her destiny decreed. . .
Bold sorties out where dark assassins lay —
Long nights with death about on every watch. . .
Then frightful sounds where once was oh, so gay —
And finally a bloody, spar-strewn patch.

V.

The Alva! I remember her so well.
Each Winter by Miami’s causeway fair. . .
I see her shining  now, and hear her bell. . .
And note the whiteness of her flashing there!
Immaculate, unscratched from stem to stern,
Aloof and with much hauteur in her eye. . .
Yet waiting for Ol’ Davie’s dice to turn
And call on her to battle and to die!

VI.

Now much through every stateroom leaves its mark
And through the portholes puzzled fishes play —
And there’s a gaping wound through which the sharks
Have ample room to weave and twist and sway;
Here’s to you, Alva, game, bold fighting lass —
A heroine, not just a glamour gal!
The men on fighting ships all lift a glass
And say, “Here’s to a sweetheart and a pal!”

Kingsport News (Kingsport, Tennessee) Aug 20, 1943

Coast Guard Rescues 60 Members of Crew Of Gunboat Plymouth

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Coast Guard rescued 60 members of the crew of the gun boat Plymouth, sunk off the North Carolina coast on August 5, the Navy reported yesterday.

Loss of the gun boat previously had been reported by the Navy in a communique which said the vessel sank after two violent underwater explosions.

Members of the crew, the Navy said yesterday were picked up from stormy waters by the Coast Guard cutter commanded by Lieutenant Woodward B. Rich, Baltimore, and by a life boat crew from the cutter who volunteered to search for survivors.

Gazette and Bulletin (Williamsport, Pennsylvania) Oct 8, 1943

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