Lest we forget the Athabaskan’s sailors taken prisoner…

In their epilogue, Émile Beaudoin and Len Burrows wrote something like this.

In the investigation following the sinking of Athabaskan, many questions were left unanswered, remaining so to this day.

The chief reason given by the RN for canceling their dispatch of two destroyers and two MTBs for rescue was the threat of German air attack.

At this stage of the war, the Luftwaffe was reeling after two years of continual day and night bombing of Germany’s industrial centers. Its strength greatly depleted, it is unlikely the Luftwaffe Command would utilize resources to hamper a British rescue effort of dead and dying sailors.

On the other hand, Allied fighter pilots regularly swarmed over Channel ports destroying anything flying a German flag.

Through all this, Kapitanleutnant Wilhelm Meentzen and the crew of T-24 remained on station under constant threat of Allied air attack until every measure was taken to rescue all survivors.

T-24 torpedo boat

Taken from Unluckly Lady

Under  nothing but a personal morale obligation, Meentzen’s sense of compassion forced him to continue.

Wilhelm Meentzen

Taken from Unluckly Lady

There can be no doubt as to the fate of the 87 survivors he picked up had he not chosen the course he did.

The story of Athabaskan’s demise is one of many in the annals of our wartime history.

If you ever step aboard the current Athabaskan, observe the Battle Honours: Bay of Biscay-1943, Arctic-1943-44, English Channel-1944.

Remember what these and the Battle Honours bestowed upon each of our fleet’s ships and the people who sailed them during those darkest days mean.

Source: http://tridentnews.ca/Portals/0/pdfarchives/2009/apr20_2009.pdf

Footnote

T-24 was sunk on 24 August 1944 by twenty Mosquitoes… Eighteen dead.

I wonder where was the RAF on April 29, 1944…

Mosquito

Kapitanleutnant Wilhelm Meentzen died May 8, 2001 in Emden.

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