In the snowy predawn of February 18, 1942, a convoy of three American ships zigzagged up the North Atlantic toward Newfoundland, heading for one of the worst disasters in naval history.
The ships were under radio silence to protect their position from the threat of German U-boats. A storm was raging, visibility was zero, and the currents had turned wildly unpredictable. With only unreliable soundings to guide them across the jagged ocean floor, all three vessels ran aground on the sheer rock coast of Newfoundland.
Attempts to carry lifelines ashore were thwarted by heavy surf, cold, oil slicks, and floating wreckage. A few sailors, however, overcame the odds and managed to reach the coast where the communities of Lawn and St. Lawrence effected a superhuman rescue operation.
Two hundred and three American sailors died as the Wilkes, the Pollux, and the Truxtun were battered against the icy shore by the treacherous North Atlantic. And those who survived would return home to receive not a hero’s welcome but the harsh interrogation of their naval superiors.
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