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Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?”. G C G Then a whine and a rock and a great explosion roared G D G And they laid the Reuben James … The Kearny, a modern ship commissioned in 1940, survived the attack and reached port, but 11 sailors were killed and 22 more were injured. “The whole front of the ship lifted up and it was gone. As the crew abandoned ship, U-552 raked them with machine-gun fire, killing all but three of the 27 men. Among the sailors lost were Alton Cousins, who never reclaimed his gold watch, Frederick Post, who never had another drink with his friend, and Walter Sorensen, who never got his wished-for last visit home. Deadly German U-boats were prowling the North Atlantic and feasting on Allied shipping. “The incident stirred up emotions in our hometown. I know you will though….” Before she could mail her letter, however, she learned that her husband would not return. Germany and Great Britain had been at war for two years. One who did not was folk singer Woody Guthrie, who wrote his now famous As dawn broke on the 31st she was torpedoed by U-552 commanded by Erich Topp, who was to become the third most successful U Boat captain of the war. Survivors on the Reuben James saw the instantaneous damage. "The Sinking of the Reuben James" is a song by Woody Guthrie about the sinking of the U. S. convoy escort USS Reuben James, which was the first U. S. naval ship sunk by German U-boats in World War II. Lyrics to 'The Sinking Of The Reuben James' by Woody Guthrie. Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James. They listened to the radio, read the newspapers, and knew the score. #1. On October 23, 1941, U.S. Navy destroyer USS Reuben James left Newfoundland to escort a convoy bound for Britain. The Sinking of the Reuben James is a folk song written by Woody Guthrie about the ship Reuben James (DD-245) and her sinking while on convoy duty shortly before the U.S. entered World Wa… Germany defended the attack. “I know I got picked up pretty quick,” said William Bergstresser, a chief machinist’s mate. It also includes photos of DE-153 and Guided Missile Frigate Reuben James FFG-57. The Reuben James, however, was not forgotten, thanks in large part to folksinger Woody Guthrie’s ballad about the sinking: “Tell me what were their names. Sadly, most of the country ignored the sinking. After “It’s not going down with me,” he told his wife. "shooting war.". XHTML: You can use these tags:

. On October 17, 1941, a U-boat torpedoed the USS Kearny (DD-432) as she escorted a 50-ship convoy. For “The water was so cold it would kill you in no time. Roosevelt’s logic was simple: “If you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him.”. 1 . Merchant ships of other nations, such as Great Britain, were free to tag along, and these “hitchhikers” got U.S. Navy protection. Reuben James (DE-153), a Buckley-class destroyer escort 3. Edwards, wrote to her husband, “It has been two days and still no one has told me that you are coming back to me. While on leave, boatswain’s mate Frederick Post had a drink with a friend and predicted it would be the last drink they would ever have together. D C G Did you have a friend on that good Reuben James Verse 3 G G D G It was there in the dark of that uncertain night G D G That we watched for the U-boats and waited for the fight. He said he was “itching to get a crack at” the German Navy. World events soon pushed the Reuben James to the side. The Sinking Of The Reuben James Lyrics The Sinking Of The Reuben James is found on the album This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings, Vol. She flew the Stars and Stripes of the land of the free But tonight she's in her grave at the bottom of the sea. On October 23, 1941, the Reuben James left Argentia, Newfoundland, to escort convoy HX-156. But there’s NEVER been anything like THIS before. Her skipper was Lt. Cmdr. There have been countless thousands of published works devoted to all or of it. In Portland, Maine, where about half the crew lived, the wives of 40 crew members—“red-eyed and listless, after hours of vigil with little sleep”— awaited news of their husbands. "The Sinking of the Reuben James" is a song by Woody Guthrie about the sinking of the U.S. convoy escort USS Reuben James, which was the first U.S. naval ship sunk by German U-boats in World War II. The Royal Canadian Navy escorted the convoys to a point off Newfoundland. The pretext was that the Navy was helping to supply American troops stationed in Iceland. After the news of the sinking reached America, many concerned people wrote letters to the Navy to find out the fate of friends or loved ones. Patrick Reuben James (* um 1776 in Sleaford; 3. My two Uncles died on board when the ship was sunk. The Reuben James carried only two lifeboats and they were now useless. "Sinking Of The Reuben James" What were their names, tell me what were their names Did you have a friend on the Good Reuben James Have you heard of a ship called that good Reuben James Stand by hard fighting men both of honor and fame She flew the stars and stripes of the land of the free One had been demolished by the torpedo; the other could not be lowered into the water because of the steep angle of the sinking ship. This song is about the Reuben James, an American destroyer that was sunk by a German U-Boat in October 1941, two months before the US joined the war. A torpedo fired by U-552 hit her on the port side, ignited her forward magazine, and blew her in half. including all officers. Although the United States was still offi- cially neutral, Congress had enacted the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941 to help Great Britain survive. song immediately after the incident: Tell me, what were their names? A New York Times editorial said that the sinking “brushes away the last possible doubt that the United States and Germany are now at open war in the Atlantic.” “Worse than piracy,” proclaimed Navy Secretary Frank Knox, and Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky accused the Germans of trying “to drive us off the seas, and I don’t believe the American people are ready to be driven off.” Senator George Aiken of Vermont, however, said that Roosevelt was “personally responsible for whatever lives may have been lost” because he had ordered convoy duty. The USS Reuben James DD-245 was sunk by a German U-Boat five full weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Forty-three years earlier, the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor had led to an outcry for war, but the sinking of the Reuben James did not spark the same reaction. She flew the Stars and Stripes of the land of the free But tonight she's in her grave at the bottom of the sea. “Some were knocked unconscious. She flew the Stars and Stripes of the land of the free But tonight she's in her grave at the bottom of the sea - Johnny Horton Makes History - on COLUMBIA Records in 1960. The Greer dodged two torpedoes and counterattacked with depth charges. The Sinking Of The Reuben James Words and Music by Woody Guthrie. U-boats had already torpedoed several merchant ships in this convoy and a burning ship had silhouetted the Kearny, making her an easy target. For gunner’s mate Walter Sorensen, his main wish was to come home on leave just once more, “even if it is only for a few days.” “Ol’ Rube” was not as rugged or in the same class as modern destroyers like the Kearny, but “in an emergency … these craft must be used as found,” retired Admiral William V. Pratt told Newsweek magazine. The ship named for James, the USS Reuben James, was a four-stack destroyer, commissioned in 1920. Have you heard of the ship, called the good Reuben James Run by hard fighting men, both of honor and fame She flew the stars and stripes for It changed the world more than any other single event in history. Some did rally to the flag, however. Heywood L. “Tex” Edwards, a 1926 Naval Academy graduate and a member of the 1928 U.S. Olympic wrestling team. Reuben A D Did you have a friend on the Good Reuben James? Reuben James (FFG-57), an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate There are two songs with the title Reuben James: 1. The Reuben James was one of five destroyers escorting the convoy’s more than 50 merchant ships, many of which flew the Union Jack. Of the ship’s crew, only 45 were saved; 99 sailors perished, including all seven of the ship’s officers. Fast-emerging British singer, songwriter and pianist Reuben James’ virtuoso jazz techniques and soulful, evocative voice have led him to be widely regarded as one the most exciting and creatively assured artists to have emerged in recent years. WWII Quarterly, the hardcover journal of the Second World War that is not available in bookstores or on newsstands, and can only be obtained and collected through a personal subscription through the mail. In Boston harbor, the Navy held a memorial service on the deck of the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”), a ship well known to sailor Reuben James, as the families of the lost seamen looked on with “tear-stained, tight-lipped faces.” Six women, led by Almeda Edwards, “tossed flowers on the ebbing tide and even as they did the sun broke through the thick clouds and bathed the wreaths in its pale light,” the Associated Press reported. On the Reuben James, torpedoman Robert Howard recalled, “All you had was a pair of binoculars and a rubber ear to press against the skin of the ship to listen for [submarine] screw noises.”. They had no choice. In connection with the list of the survivors and the list of those lost on the Reuben James, which was recently forwarded, all survivors of the Reuben James disaster have reported to this Receiving Ship with the exception of THOMPSON, James C., Sea.2c., USN, 300-43-32, and TURNBULL, Thomas P., E.M.2c., USN, 223-53-96, both of whom were seriously injured. I knew I had read the backstory somewhere not too long ago. This is a listing of people associated with this ship. The act permitted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sell, lend, or lease munitions, aircraft, weapons, and military supplies to “the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States.” Great Britain was one of those countries. To her crew, she was affectionately known as “Ol’ Rube.”. Reuben James DESCRIPTION: Describes the sinking of the destroyer "Reuben James" by submarines off the coast of Iceland, the loss of 100 men [and the rescue of 44]. As the survivors struggled to stay afloat, unsecured depth charges from the Reuben James hit the water as the ship sank. Found on more albums: It seemed like a long time.”. I love that song! In response, Roosevelt ordered the Navy to shoot on sight any Axis warship found in waters “the protection of which is necessary for American defense.” The North Atlantic came within the scope of this order. Sadly, most of the country ignored the sinking. The USS Reuben James was a battleship that was torpedoed by a German submarine on Halloween of 1941, becoming the first US ship sunk in World War II. James was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 115 of 160 crewmen, Disaster struck in the early morning hours of October 31, Woody Guthrie had started to write a song including each name on the casualty list of the sinking. Others were torn apart.”. U.S. Navy ships helped escort the convoys bringing Lend-Lease goods to England. Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James It was there in the dark of that uncertain night That we watched for the you-boats and waited for a fight Then a whine and a rock and a great explosion roared And they laid the Reuben James on that cold ocean floor Tell me what were their names, tell me what were their names It appears it was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music. Three warships of the Navy have been named Reuben Jamesin his honor: 1. But there’s NEVER been anything like THIS before. USS Reuben James (DD-245)—- a post-World War I, four-funnel Clemson-class destroyer—- was the first United States Navy ship named for Boatswain's Mate Reuben James (c. 1776 –1838), who distinguished himself fighting in the First Barbary War, and the first sunk by hostile action in the European theater of World War II. Chorus: "What were their names, tell me what were their names/Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?" “Midships was now the bow” is how fireman Norman Hingula described it. The presence of the escort destroyers may have saved the crew of the Reuben James from even greater casualties. Woody Guthrie was staying at the Almanac House in Greenwich Village when he wrote this song. Her mission, seaman James Thompson wrote to his parents, was to “see who is raising hell with our ships.”, Only one destroyer in the convoy—the USS Niblack (DD-424)—had radar. The sinking of the Reuben James contributed to the American war sentiment, and the U.S. and Germany went to war six weeks later. When chief machinist’s mate Alton Cousins visited his family that fall, he left his gold watch behind. Convoy duty was hazardous and becoming more so by the day. INTRO: D G What were their names, tell me, what were their E names? Three warships of the Navy have been named Reuben James in his honor: AUTHOR: Words: Woody Guthrie & Pete Seeger w. the Almanac Singers EARLIEST DATE: November, 1941 "The Sinking Of The Reuben James" Have you heard of a ship called the good Reuben James Manned by hard fighting men both of honor and fame? When Neda Boyd, wife of machinist’s mate Solon Boyd, heard the news on the radio, she “froze in the chair.” She felt a sense of doom because, when last home, her husband had told her, “I’m afraid we won’t be back this time.” Their six-year-old daughter heard the name of her dad’s ship on the radio and wept inconsolably. Have you heard of a ship called the good Reuben James Manned by hard fighting men both of honor and fame? of friends or loved ones. On April 2, 1942, the same U-boat—U-552— sank the SS David H. Atwater, an unescorted collier, off the coast of Virginia. the news of the sinking reached America, many concerned people wrote letters On October 31, 1941, the USS Reuben James became one of America’s first casualties of war—even before war was declared. Reuben James is a name rich in Navy lore. Acting with “cold precision,” the ships and their crews rescued the few survivors. By escorting British ships, a German official said, the Reuben James became fair game: “Anybody walking along the railroad tracks at night should not be surprised if they get run over by an express train.” Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota seemed to agree. The Sinking Of The Reuben James:Johnny Horton. Although not the first U.S. Navy ship torpedoed Coordinates. This subterfuge was necessary because of isolationist sentiment in Congress, but it fooled few, least of all the German Navy. fair game, it was only a matter of time before we became involved in a to the Navy to find out the fate She was 314 feet long, 30 feet in the beam, and capable of speeds of up to 33 knots. Writing ‘The Sinking of the Reuben James’ “When the U.S.S. My analysis was of the song “The Sinking of the Reuben James” by Woody Guthrie. “If it hadn’t been for those depth charges, we probably would have had another 40 or 50 survivors,” recalled Fireman Second Class George Giehrl. The United States was still neutral, at least officially, but neutrality offered little solace—or protection. Kingston Trio - Sinking of the Reuben James Lyrics. She was armed with four 4-inch guns in her main battery, torpedo tubes, depth charges, and numerous antiaircraft weapons. This page has photos and a slideshow of the USS Reuben James DD-245 and German U-552 that sunk her. “Choking on oil and water, they are like small animals caught in molasses,” artist Coale wrote. Times when the very landscape appears to shift. Reuben James was torpedoed by the Nazis off the coast of Iceland in late October [1941], killing 86 and wounding 44, Woody was inspired to write a ballad about the incident. Rescuers heard “cursing, praying, and hoarse shouts for help” from sailors struggling to stay alive. The escalating danger worried the crew of the Reuben James. It changed the world more than any other single event in history. Woody Guthrie had started to write a song including each name on the casualty list of the sinking. Corbin Dyson and Charles Harris. The Navy performed these duties while the United States maintained its official neutrality. She was armed with four 4-inch guns in her main battery, torpedo tubes, depth charges, and numerous antiaircraft weapons. Young men in Logan County, West Virginia, home of lost sailor George Woody, sought revenge. the latter part of 1941, U.S. Navy ships provided escorts for convoys Like many others, she received the dreaded news through a telegram from “C.W. The target – Reuben James – was decommissioned in 2013 after 27 years of service, which included convoy duty during the Iran-Iraq War and a nine month deployment in 2002 and 2003. Roosevelt did not break off diplomatic relations with Germany, and he stayed away from the bellicose rhetoric he had used after the Greer and Kearny attacks. When the destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-245) was assigned to convoy duty in the North Atlantic in the autumn of 1941, its crew had a sense of foreboding and feared the worst. bound for Great Britain carrying war materials from our "Arsenal of Democracy." Tell me, what were their names? John Ryan, 43, joined the Navy after his son, John Jr., died on the Reuben James. Five weeks later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Congress declared war on Japan, and Germany declared war on the United States. Reuben James (DD-245), a four-stack Clemson-class destroyer 2. There are moments in military history that forever alter the flow of human events. Now the USS Reuben James became the first United States warship to be sunk as a result of hostile action in World War II. It is considered the first American naval casualty of WWII. Aboard USS Reuben James (DD 245) when hit on 31 Oct 1941 Terrified sailors heard the depth charges arm themselves, and then the charges exploded, hurling debris and men into the air. During before the war, the Reuben James was the first one lost. (The Reuben James was the first U.S. naval ship sunk by German U-boats in World War II.) Japanese officials were strangely silent. There have been countless thousands of published works devoted to all or of it. some American sailors, World War II began before December 7, 1941. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill cabled Roosevelt that he “grieved at the loss of life you have suffered with Reuben James.” In her daily newspaper column, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote that she could not “help but think of every one of the 120 men and their families, who are anxiously awaiting news.” The Russian newspaper Pravda praised the United States for having “taken its fighting post,” and the London Daily Mail predicted that the United States was “marching down the last mile to a declaration of war.”. The sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 contributed to U.S. war sentiment, and America entered the war in early 1917, almost two years later. Gone in an instant,” recalled electrician’s mate Thomas Turnbull. The ship was escorting an allied convoy near Iceland. Nearby ships rushed in to save the survivors. (Luckily, Boyd survived). While escorting convoy HX-156, the American destroyer U.S.S. “You can’t expect to walk into a barroom brawl and hope to stay out of the fight,” he said. On February 16, 1804, James, a boatswain’s mate, stood on the deck of the USS Philadelphia in Tripoli as Barbary pirates struck. Although not the first U.S. Navy ship torpedoed before the war, the Reuben James was the first one lost. We also have a detailed page on the American destroyer USS Reuben James (DD 245).. As a result, several of us local boys enlisted in the Navy,” said Farris Burton, one of those who joined up. Tell me what were their names. 1941. “With a terrific roar a column of orange flame towers high into the night as her magazines go up,” recalled Griffith Baily Coale, a naval artist sailing with the convoy. Have you heard of a ship called the good Reuben James Manned by hard fighting men both of honor and fame? Of course, the Soviet Sailors who stood on her Foc'sle were'nt really Soviets, they were Reuben James crewmembers. Those who survived the blast jumped into the frigid water. At daybreak, she was about 600 miles west of Ireland and “blacked out to avoid reflection in the inquisitive monocles of U-boat periscopes,” as Newsweek put it. “Hitler’s torpedo,” Roosevelt said, “was directed at every American,” but America did not go to war over this act of war. U-boat U-552 fired a torpedo at the ammunition ship, and inadvertently hit the Reuben James, sinking the US ship with the loss of 100 of the 144 men aboard the ship. The Reuben James appeared in The Hunt For Red October, and the Reuben James was the first ship to find Soviet Submarine Captain Marko Raimius and his crew of defectors. The ship named for James, the USS Reuben James, was a four-stack destroyer, commissioned in 1920. The U.S. Navy picked the convoys up there, escorted them out into the Atlantic, and handed them over to the British Royal Navy at a mid-ocean meeting point. While news of the sinking arrived quickly, word on the fate of the crew took several days longer. As for a declaration of war, the New York Times noted, “The people, their Representatives in Congress and even many high officials of the government are deeply divided on the subject.” Rather than spark enlistments, Navy enlistments declined 15 percent in November 1941, something officials attributed to the loss of life on the Reuben James. The aft part of the ship remained afloat for about five minutes. Nimitz, Chief of Bureau of Navigation.”. When a sword-wielding pirate attacked Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, James is said to have jumped in front of Decatur and taken the blow meant for him. 6731 Whittier Avenue, Suite C-100 McLean, VA 22101, From Tolkien to Hitler: Famous Soldiers of World War I, The Battle for Omaha Beach: The Men of the D-Day Invasion, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Last Campaign: The Battle of Waterloo, Operation Barbarossa: World War II’s Eastern Front, The Battle of Gettysburg: Turning Point of the American Civil War, What Made the German Luger the Most Famous Pistol in Modern Warfare, The Essential Role of Navy PBR Boats in the Vietnam War, The Real Story of General George Patton, Jr’s Death & Final Days, Colonel William O. Darby and the U.S. Army Rangers, Operation Frantic On Eastern Front: Preview Of the Cold War. It is accompanied by Woody Guthrie's song written shortly after the sinking of the USS Reuben James DD … She was 314 feet long, 30 feet in the beam, and capable of speeds of up to 33 knots. 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