Colin P. Kelly Jr. - A heroic Liberty ship..

stan mayes
6th August 2011, 10:00
On 24th May 1945 I paid off a small troopship Duke of York after serving 3 months on service Tilbury -Ostend.
Early June 1945 I was working by Fort Gloucester -MOWT and
Souter's Sheaf Line as managers -in Tilbury Docks..
She had been heavily damaged by a torpedo from an 'S' boat off
Folkestone on 18th August 1944 and was beached and abandoned.
Months later she was salvaged and towed to Tilbury for temporary
repairs and then to Sunderland for permanent repairs.
I was working on her 5th June when the Liberty ship Colin P.Kelly Jr.
arrived in the docks under tow.She was very deep in the water.
The previous day Colin P.Kelly Jr had been mined off Ostend.She was
bound for Antwerp with food from the US - it was 3 weeks after the
war in Europe ended..
Her engine room was flooded and splits were in her foredeck.
Her funnell had 8 swastikas painted on it -indicating 8 aircraft destroyed in attacks... Locals and dockworkers were often heard saying 'Typical Yankee bull --'..I must admit I was dubious about the claim also of a merchant ship shooting down so many planes..
On 7th June in Fort Gloucester we left Tilbury on a run job to Sunderland and returned to Tilbury and our homes on 12th June.
On 17th June I went to Tilbury Docks to join Conakrian -United Africa Co - in 1949 the company was restyled Palm Line and Conakrian was
renamed Dahomey Palm.
Conakrian was another casualty of war.A mine had exploded below
No5 hold and severely damaged the shaft and propellor..
She was towed to Tilbury where her cargo was discharged and she then entered drydock for temporary repairs which lasted till mid June.
In meantime Colin P.Kelly had discharged her cargo and was in drydock for survey.
18th June we left Tilbury in Conakrian under tow for the Tyne.As we passed Southend we were told to anchor there until further orders.
The next day another tug arrived with a large swivel and we joined the two anchor cables to it..On 25th June another tug arrived and we
were taken back to Tilbury and paid off..The Master and a couple of officers and engineers and a cook had remained with the ship.
I believe she lay there for nearly 2 months before continuing to Tyne.
In recent years I researched Colin P.Kelly Jr and proved her claims of
destroying 8 aircraft to be true..
She arrived at Palermo on 10th July 1943 during invasion of Sicily and between 10th and 14th more than 50 attacks were made on the
port...Kelly shot down six and damaged four others..
Her only casualty was an Armed Guard -DEMS gunner - who was wounded.No ships were lost..
11th May 1944 -Colin P.Kelly was in a convoy arriving at Algiers with
490 Troops from the US aboard..Many Luftwaffe attacked the ships and Kelly destroyed 2 of them..A total of 13 were shot down with no
losses to ships..
Colin P.Kelly -at Tilbury..Following her survey she was towed to the Tyne for repairs but was declared a CTL..Remained there until April 1948 then towed to breakers in Rotterdam...A heroic ship!
Stan

hawkey01
6th August 2011, 12:14
Stan,

Thanks for another gem of history.

Hawkey01

Klaatu83
6th August 2011, 12:45
Capt. Colin P. Kelly, Jr.

Soon after the start of hostilities in the Pacific theater, the United States badly needed a war hero. Nothing seemed to stop the Japanese advance across the Pacific theater. Everyday,newspapers reported mounting American casualties and the threat of invasion. Events soon
transpired to give America its first war hero.

Born and raised in the small Panhandle town of Madison, Florida, Captain Colin Purdie Kelly, Jr., graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, in 1937. At the start of hostilities between the United States and Japan on December 7, 1941, Kelly was a 29-year-old B-17 pilot in the Army Air Corps. He was stationed in the Philippines when the islands came under
attack only hours after Pearl Harbor.

On December 10, 1941, Kelly’s plane was sent on a bombing mission to attack Japanese ships off the coast of Luzon, one of the Philippine Islands. The crew spotted a large ship they believed to be the battleship Haruna and, from a height of 20,000 feet, dropped three 600-pound bombs. Though smoke obscured the target, Kelly and his men believed that at least one bomb struck the ship, and that it was probably destroyed. In fact, the Haruna was not even in the vicinity. Kelly’s plane had most likely bombed a large transport or the light cruiser Ashigara. Whichever it was, it had not been sunk.

On the return to his base at Clark Field in the Philippines, a Japanese fighter plane attacked and severely damaged the American bomber. Later, Lieutenant Donald Robbins, Kelly’s co-pilot, recalled what happened:

"The Japs hit our radio compartment and also our oxygen supply was blown up
and our left wing set afire. The ship was burning like a holocaust. Kelly ordered
the men to bail out and the rear crew jumped first, with the bombardier and the
radio operator leaving next from the frontal escape."

"A minute later the plane went completely out of control and threw
us—Kelly and me—against the cabin. I thought, “Well, this is it.” All the time
Kelly had been hollering to the machine gunners to do their stuff and beat ‘em
off. Kelly, a fighter to the last, as usual didn’t swear, even though he knew we
were in a plenty tough spot. Sadly, Capt. Kelly wasn’t able to exit the plane with his crew before it crashed. He was killed instantly."

Unfortunately, in the rush to publicize a rare American victory in the war’s early days, the details of Kelly’s sacrifice became garbled and exaggerated. Many Americans believed that he had become the first suicide bomber of the war after reading accounts like this one, from the Dec. 13, 1941, edition of the Tampa Tribune:

“Dispatches from Manila said his diving airplane vanished in the roaring explosion that sank the Haruna as the pilot [Kelly] plunged his craft straight down at the enemy and released a stick of high explosives almost into the mouths of flaming Japanese guns.”

The next day, the Tribune changed the story, reporting that Kelly piloted his badly-damaged B-17 back to base after sinking the Japanese ship with three well-placed bombs. Upon realizing that the ailing plane was not going to make it back to base, Kelly ordered his six-man crew to bail out while he rode the flaming Flying Fortress down. In reality, Kelly received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for heroism, both for the belief that he “had sacrificed his life so that his crew could live.”

The death of Capt. Kelly left a widow without a husband and a 19-month-old son, Colin P. "Corky” Kelly III, without a daddy. The Tampa Tribune started a fund for Kelly’s son with a $250 donation. Cigar workers at the Garcia & Vega factory soon added $50. President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote an open letter to whoever would be president in 1956 suggesting an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for the “little red-headed kid with missing
teeth and a running nose” who had suddenly been deprived of growing up with his father beside him." Later, the fund grew to over $2500 and was turned over to Kelly’s widow, who had remarried and moved to Pennsylvania.

Later in the war, a monument honoring Kelly was dedicated in his hometown of Madison. It was a fitting tribute to a valiant Floridian—one of the first from his state and his nation to sacrifice his life in World War II.

stan mayes
6th August 2011, 14:12
Thankyou Klaatu 83,
A heroic ship named after an American hero..