STATEMENT CONCERNING FINDING OF DEATH
The following report and messages were obtained from the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration. Due to the general condition of the documents, copying and then scanning them to present here would not have given an acceptable image. I have therefore tried to faithfully recreate the data for presentation on the website. I will have copies of the source documents available at the reunion in Savannah.
STATEMENT CONCERNING FINDING OF DEATH
Eight officers and 202 men, attached to the USS MADDOX (DD-622), named in
the attached list, have been carried on the official records in the status
"missing in action" as of 10 July 1943, D-Day in Sicily.
On 10 July 1943, the large scale landings on Sicily by Anglo-American
forces were begun against Italo-German opposition.
Three of our objectives, namely, Scoglitti, Gela, and Licata, on the
south coast of Sicily, were assigned to American land forces and naval units,
including the MADDOX.
At 0458, 10 July 1943, the MADDOX, with the officers and enlisted men
named in the attached list aboard, while screening our transport area of Gela,
was damaged by enemy bombs. She sank two minutes later in position 36o
52' N., 13o 56' E., or about 16 miles off Gela Point.
The MADDOX sustained damage from three or four bombs. Since the bombs
damaging the MADDOX struck almost simultaneously, and because the MADDOX sank so
rapidly, it was not established whether there were one or two effective near
misses on the starboard quarter in addition to two hits on the after section. In
the Action Report dated 15 July 1943, covering the loss of the MADDOX, the
Executive Officer reported the following damage and disposition of survivors
(the Commanding Officer of the MADDOX was missing in the action):
"The deckhouse aft of number
two stack was ripped open, 5" mount three and the after deckhouse were
leveled or blown over the side, mount four appeared to be standing, the depth
charge projectors and racks were leveled and no charges could be seen, the main
deck aft of the loading machine was awash. Fire and steam were pouring from
number two stack and the starboard side of the main deck just aft of number two
stack. At this time the ship had no list, was settling by the stern and appeared
to be holding a steady course but was rapidly losing headway.
"The ship was almost dead in
the water. Immediately the shi took about a five degree list to port, righted
herself and immediately rolled rapidly over on her starboard side. When she
rolled over she then sank to a perpendicular position with the bow from number
one 5" gun forward, standing vertically above the surface. She paused there
momentarily until there was an explosion which sounded like a bulkhead
collapsing and then sunk vertically. About thirty seconds later there was a
similar explosion. No one in the water appeared to suffer from either of these
explosions. The depth charges were set on shallow and since there were no
survivors from that part of the ship it is impossible to determine what
prevented their explosion as the ship sank.
"The survivors were in the
water for about an hour before they were picked up by the Tug INTENT which had
been about three miles away and had seen the flames on the MADDOX and heard the
explosions of the bombs. It is the belief of the Executive Officer that all
survivors were picked up at this time, although it is possible that if some were
missed by the INTENT they would have drifted down on Scoglitti."
It should be noted that additional information showed that all known
survivors were from the forward part of the ship with the exception of six
enlisted men: four from the after fireroom and two from the 20 mm. Platform just
aft of number two stack. The Captain was last seen in the pilothouse as the ship
In the Report dated 14 July 1943, made by the Commander, Destroyer
Squadron SEVENTEEN (the squadron to which the MADDOX was attached at the time she
was lost), covering the action on 10 July 1943, off Gela, Sicily, it was stated
that nine officers and 65 men were rescued from the MADDOX, and eight officers
and 202 men were missing and presumed to be dead, "inasmuch as the area was
thoroughly searched without discovery of additional survivors."
Little opposition was encountered by our landing forces at Scoglitti
which had been held by the Italians. By early forenoon on 10 July 1943, the
beaches in the Scoglittti area were in our possession. No survivors from the
MADDOX were reported seen in the Scoglitti area or on the Gela beaches, also
occupied by our troops during the morning of 10 July 1943.
During the morning of 10 July 1943, weather conditions in the action-area
included a slight sea and a northwesterly wind of force three.
In view of the strong presumption that the officers and enlisted men
named in the attached list lost their lives at the time of the bomb explosions
or were drowned shortly thereafter, because of the great number of Allied
surface craft in that area when the MADDOX was sunk, because the area was
reported to have been thoroughly searched for survivors under favorable weather
conditions, because nearby areas on Sicily, which survivors not rescued by our
surface craft might have reached, were in our possession by early forenoon on 10
July 1943, because to date no officers or enlisted men missing from that action
have been reported to be prisoners of war, and because of the length of time
that has elapsed since that action took place, it is recommended that the eight
officers and 202 enlisted men to be found to be dead as set forth in the
attached findings of death.
A. C. Jacobs,
Head of the Casualties
Secretary of the Navy
13 July 1944
Click here for the complete listing of Survivors and those Killed In Action.
The following is a copy of the Executive Officer's letter to next of kin:
8 November 1943
Dear Mrs. ______:
I was the Executive Officer of the U.S.S. MADDOX, and the senior surviving officer. I know that you have very little information about your husband, other than that he is missing in action. The Navy is permitting me to supply a little more information.
The MADDOX was sunk about fifteen miles off the coast of Sicily in the early morning of the the day we invaded that island. We were struck by several bombs from air axis aircraft and severely damaged. The ship went down about an hour before dawn. Your husband was in the engineering department, as you know, and his station was in an engineroom. After the ship went down all the known survivors were in the water for about two hours before they were picked up. As soon as we were picked up the area was thoroughly searched by destroyers for further survivors, but none found. All hands had their life jackets on so it is believer that everyone who got into the water was adequately equipped.
I was very sorry to have to report your husband missing but could find no trace of him when I mustered the survivors.
/s/ W. R. Laird Jr.
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
following is a letter from a mother of a crew member killed in action. It was
written to the Head
of the Casualties And
Commander, United States Naval Reserve:
Thank you for your kindness giving me the facts of the U.S.S. MADDOX and my son, Lee George Hoffman, Yeoman Third Class, U.S.N.R. Lee was a pleasure to know and to rear.
It must be saddening for you and your staff sending the many heart-breaking letters you are called upon to mail during wartime.
Longing to give a word of comfort to all, I put some thoughts in writing.
Mrs. Mabel P. McLaughlin
And this is what she enclosed:
The U.S.S. MADDOX, her Crew, my son, --- OUR COUNTRY'S MEN - did you know you were on an errand of mercy? --- doing your part bringing liberty, justice, peace, to the prey of the terrible and barbarious.
The good purpose cannot be frustrated. We who remain, will toil and sacrifice, - will carry on until the good purpose is accomplished and the brotherhood of man established.
Like a might Army
Moves the Church of God;
Brothers, we are treading
Where the saints have trod;
We are not divided,
All on body we,
One in hope and doctrine
One in Charity.
- Hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers
Onward, Christian fellow - SHIP!
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