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Sinking of USS Corry
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THE NORMANDY INVASION
June 6, 1944 D-Day
The Turning Point of World War II

Destroyer USS Corry (DD-463) in
Heavy Front-Line D-Day Action
Utah Beach, 
Normandy France

 

Until June 6, 1944, German dictator Adolf Hitler had conquered most of Europe, maintaining his tyrannical grip, ever seeking to fortify himself in his quest for world domination. The Allied invasion at Normandy, France, was the largest naval assault in history with more than 5,000 vessels departing southern England for the offensive to end Hitler's occupation of Europe. The destroyer USS Corry (DD-463) led this massive invasion armada across the English Channel to Normandy. 


   USS Corry (DD-463)
   The Destroyer that Led the Normandy Invasion
Sunk June 6, 1944

 



While crossing the English Channel en route to Normandy, USS Corry commanding officer Lieutenant Commander George Dewey Hoffman informed his crew, "We are expendable on this mission." After arriving at the coast of France, in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, the USS Corry took up her bombardment position as one of five front line destroyers off Utah Beach and fiercely engaged German artillery firing from the Normandy shore. A prime target at the front of the invasion force, the Corry drew sustained shelling for more than an hour while successfully evading major damage. Maneuvering as close as 1,000 yards from the beach, she fired several hundred rounds of 5-inch ammunition at numerous Nazi targets. 




      
     On USS Corry bridge, Commanding Officer
     Lieutenant Commander George Dewey Hoffman, 
     godson of legendary Admiral George Dewey





Two near misses off Corry bow from shore batteries.
[National Archives film footage shot from PT-507]


As H-Hour neared, when troops would land and fight their way onto the beaches, two Allied planes began generating smoke screens between the shore batteries and bombarding warships to conceal the ships from enemy fire. While other frontline destroyers and rear vessels were receiving smoke cover, the plane assigned to lay smoke for the Corry suddenly got shot down, leaving the Corry fully exposed to German gunners who were now firing at her in full fury. With her four 5-inch guns, the Corry moved very close to the beach for precision firing, attempting to eliminate the Saint Marcouf/Crisbecq battery, which was the heaviest artillery battery on the shore, fortified with three 8.25-inch (210-mm) guns that fired massive 300-pound projectiles. To silence that battery early in the invasion would be a tremendous contribution to the troop landings. After a heated duel with the battery that lasted several minutes, enemy salvos began landing very close to the Corry, erupting towering plumes of water all around her.

At just about H-Hour (0630), while seeking to evade intense fire from the Saint Marcouf battery and other batteries, the Corry suffered direct heavy-caliber artillery hits amidships below the water level in her engineering spaces. The jarring explosions jolted the ship, causing men to be thrown violently from their positions. Steam hissed and roared profusely from behind the bridge. With her rudder jammed the Corry traveled around in a circle before all steam was lost. Still under heavy fire, she began sinking rapidly with her keel broken and a foot-wide crack across her main deck amidships.

 
 
  
   USS Corry hit amidships at approximately
   06:30 (H-Hour) on D-Day - June 6, 1944

   [National Archives film footage shot from PT-507]


     Saint Marcouf / Crisbecq Battery 

    



USS Corry sinking off Utah Beach June 6, 1944

[photo from the collection of George K. S. Hardy, crewmember of the destroyer USS Fitch (DD-462)]

After the order to abandon ship, crewmembers fought to survive in rough, bone-chilling 54-degree water for more than two hours before being rescued. All the while, the Corry survivors were under constant enemy fire from German shore gunners. One Corry crewmember raised the American flag up the sunken Corry's main mast, which remained above the surface of the shallow 30-foot deep water when the wreckage settled on the bottom. The ship blast along with additional casualties suffered out in the water from shelling, drowning, and exposure, resulted in 24 crewmen giving their lives and 60 being wounded, many seriously. For USS Corry survivors, the morning of June 6, 1944 was one harrowing experience they'd never forget. 





Above left, USS Corry sinking, broken in a "V", with smoke screen chemicals spewing from her stern. A German shell hit the Corry's smoke generator. A second destroyer passes to the rear, as a rescue whaleboat approaches from lower right.

[Still image from D-Day newsreel - NARA ref #: 111 ADC 01319]


June 6, 1944. USS Corry survivors climbing aboard destroyer USS Fitch (DD-462), after enduring enemy shelling in bone-chilling 54-degree water. 

[photo from the collection of George K. S. Hardy, crewmember of the destroyer USS Fitch (DD-462)]




Second destroyer passes to the rear of sinking USS Corry.

[Still image from D-Day newsreel - NARA ref #: 111 ADC 01319]










 

  Settled wreckage of USS Corry.

 
[National Archives film footage shot from PT-507

The main mast and upper superstructure of the Corry remained above the surface of the shallow water, thus the American flag that was raised up the mast by a Corry survivor could still be seen.

 

THE CORRY FLAG WAVED IN THE BREEZE

Excerpt about the raising of the flag on the sunken Corry from renowned author Cornelius Ryan's epic D-Day book, The Longest Day:

Hoffman thought he was the last to leave the Corry. But he wasn't. Nobody knows now who the last man was, but as the boats and rafts pulled away, men on the other ships saw a sailor climb the Corry's stern. He removed the ensign, which had been shot down, and then, swimming and climbing over the wreckage, he reached the main mast. From the U.S.S. Butler, Coxswain Dick Scrimshaw watched in amazement and admiration as the sailor, shells still falling about him, calmly tied on the flag and ran it up the mast. Then he swam away. Above the wreck of the Corry, Scrimshaw saw the flag hang limp for a moment. Then it stretched out and fluttered in the breeze.




   


   

 









 







USS Corry D-Day Flag    

 

     USS Corry (DD-463)

Below are the words of the Honorable
Hansford T. Johnson, Secretary of the Navy (acting)
September 2003
 
Below is the speech by President Clinton in 1994 at the 50th anniversary of D-Day. His speech was given aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington above the spot where the Corry was sunk off Utah Beach. 

The CORRY and its crew, two dozen of whom were lost at the Normandy landing on D-Day, is an inspirational story of the sacrifices of few to protect many. The story of raising the flag on the sunken CORRY is a testament to the courage and commitment of the Greatest Generation in their devoted service to our Nation and freedom.  [USS CORRY] shipmates set the standard for courage and devotion.



 

One of the most stirring tales of D-Day is that to which the Secretary of the Navy has already referred — the tale of the USS Corry. Ripped...while blasting enemy positions on Utah Beach, the Corry began to go under. But one man stayed aboard. He climbed the stern, removed the flag, and swam and scrambled to the main mast. There, he ran up the flag. And as he swam off, our flag opened into the breeze. In the Corry’s destruction, there was no defeat. Today, the wreckage of that ship lies directly beneath us—an unseen monument to those who helped to win this great war. Thirteen of the Corry’s crew rest there as well, and these waters are forever sanctified by their sacrifice.


*** View D-Day Film Footage of USS Corry on the Front Lines
     and Listen to Edward R. Murrow Radio Interview
     of USS Corry Commanding Officer in London, June 9, 1944 *** 
BELOW: WATCH 9-MINUTE VIDEO INCLUDING USS CORRY D-DAY COMBAT FOOTAGE, NARRATED NEWSREEL, AND JUNE 9, 1944 EDWARD R. MURROW CBS RADIO INTERVIEW OF USS CORRY COMMANDING OFFICER GEORGE DEWEY HOFFMAN ON THE SINKING OF THE CORRY BY GERMAN HEAVY SHORE BATTERY FIRE.  (video on youtube.com) 



From the narrated newsreel footage:

"In a duel with a shore battery, at point-blank range of a mile, US destroyer Corry was sunk. A moment later, the battery that had hit it was itself put out of action by a salvo from the destroyer Fitch."


Broadcast Journalism
Legend Edward R. Murrow

CLICK HERE to read transcript of Edward R. Murrow CBS Radio Interview


 
USS Corry Commanding Officer 
George Dewey Hoffman

 



 

 

A portion of the combat footage in the video was shot from Patrol-Torpedo boat PT-507, with Gunner's Mate S. Bosley (shown left at battle station aboard PT-507 off Normandy coast, June 1944) as an eyewitness. 


Listen to June 7, 1944 (D+1) 5:30 pm NBC news 
radio b
roadcast describing USS Corry sinking. 
(NBC-affiliate radio station WEAF in New York City)

  Listen to NBC radio broadcast
 
(Duration: 2 minutes 20 seconds)
   
 
PT-199 Rescues Corry Survivors


JUNE 6, 1944PATROL TORPEDO BOAT PT-199 DELIVERS MORE THAN 60 USS CORRY SURVIVORS TO DESTROYER  USS FITCH (DD-462).

[photo by John Townsend, Communications Officer, USS Fitch, courtesy, Radio Officer McKern, of the USS Fitch.] 
 
John F. Kennedy
(1988 photo)
Lt. Bill Liebenow, Commanding Officer, PT-199

ON D-DAY, PT-199 WAS COMMANDED BY LT. WILLIAM LIEBENOW, WHO A YEAR EARLIER HAD RESCUED THEN NAVY LIEUTENANT JOHN F. KENNEDY IN THE PACIFIC AFTER KENNEDY'S PT-109 WAS CUT IN HALF BY A JAPANESE DESTROYER. 
CLICK HERE TO READ PT-199 CREW MEMBERS' FIRST-HAND D-DAY ACCOUNTS, INCLUDING COMMANDING OFFICER'S, AND PT-199 D-DAY ACTION REPORT.
 
   Click photo to view Saint-Marcouf (Crisbecq) battery history and images
   Saint-Marcouf Battery 
   (a.k.a. Crisbecq Battery)

What happened to the Corry on D-Day

Click here to learn about the sinking of the USS Corry. View American and German D-Day battle reports.

 
 


READ USS CORRY SURVIVORS' FIRST-HAND ACCOUNTS OF D-DAY
 
Click here to read survivors'
first-hand accounts of the Corry on D-Day

 

Capt. Hoffman

Gullickson

 McKernon

 Maurer

 Beat

Jayich

 Groot

 Keylon

 McKay

 Vestuti

 Brantley

 Furtek

 R. Miller

 Howard

 

 Rubin

 Andersen

 Henson

 Garay

 Parrot

  Beeman

 

 


READ WHAT OTHER SHIPS SAW HAPPENING TO THE CORRY ON D-DAY

D-DAY BATTLE ACTION REPORTS, INCLUDING SURVIVORS' NAMES,
FROM SHIPS / VESSELS NEAR USS CORRY

Click here to read D-Day battle reports

USS Nevada, USS Tuscaloosa, USS Quincy, USS Hobson, USS Fitch, USS Butler, PT-199, USS Barnett



 
  MAPS AND REPORTS: 
USS CORRY'S FIRING POSITION ON THE FRONT LINES


Click Here to View Maps and Reports of Utah Beach
Enemy Targets and Warships' Bombardment Stations


THE CORRY CLOSED IN TO A DISTANCE OF 1,000 YARDS, SO CREW MEMBERS SAW THE BEACH AREA AS THESE RECON PHOTOS DEPICT IT FROM 1/2 TO 3/4 OF A MILE. 

Above recon images from US National Archives: 

Admiralty Charts 2613 and F. 1014 G.S.G.S. No. 4250: Sheets 6E/3 and 6E/4
Booklet "M" (Annex "H")  France, North Coast
Coastal silhouette from LA MADELEINE (442974) to HAMEAU DU NORD (390060) 
I.S.T.D. February, 1944


DESTROYER USS FITCH (DD-462)
National Archives photo]  
Destroyer USS Fitch (DD-462) rescued many Corry survivors. 
Close-up: PT-199 delivers USS Corry survivors to destroyer USS Fitch (DD-462).

[photo by John Townsend, Communications Officer, USS Fitch
 courtesy, Radio Officer McKern, USS Fitch.] 

The Fitch and the Corry were the first two ships to fire in the Normandy Invasion.

In the same pre-dawn incident, before the scheduled naval shelling began, while proceeding to their bombardment stations the Corry and Fitch came under fire from German shore batteries. The Fitch returned fire, immediately followed by the Corry, making them the first two ships to fire on German-occupied France. Later, after the Corry was hit, for more than an hour the USS Fitch repeatedly fired on the Saint-Marcouf (Crisbecq) battery, which had scored the fatal salvo on the Corry amidships.


CLICK HERE TO READ USS FITCH CREW MEMBERS' FIRST-HAND D-DAY ACCOUNTS

DESTROYER USS HOBSON (DD-464)
  
DESTROYER USS HOBSON (DD-464) RESCUED SEVERAL CORRY SURVIVORS.     
    TROOP SHIP USS BARNETT (APA-5)  
         [National Archives photos] 
     USS BARNETT (APA-5) TROOP SHIP THAT 
     BROUGHT CORRY SURVIVORS AND K.I.A.
     BACK TO ENGLAND.

CLICK HERE TO READ USS HOBSON D-DAY ACCOUNT

 

DESTROYER USS BUTLER (DD-636)
  
    Destroyer USS Butler (DD-636)
   rescued 30 USS Corry Survivors

  
[National Archives photo]
  
     
  Corry survivors rescued by destroyer USS Butler (DD-636)  June 6, 1944



CORRY SURVIVORS THANK THE USS BUTLER

CLICK HERE to view words of thanks from USS Corry survivors to the crew of USS Butler and see USS Butler's D-Day water temperature report.

The Water Temperature on D-Day was a bone-chilling 54 degrees Fahrenheit. Many Corry survivors endured more than two hours in it. Some died of exposure. 

 

Pre-invasion Order of the Day by General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Normandy Invasion Maps / Overview

Click here to see French artist Claude Lemonier's
rendition of the Corry on D-Day

Click here to see artist Bob Pearson's
rendition of the Corry on D-Day

USS Corry Leads the Normandy Invasion

Poem for the USS Corry D-Day Flag by Carolyn Fogg


Sinking of USS Corry   Survivors' D-Day Accounts   Utah Beach Maps/Reports/Targets    D-Day Battle Reports    Corry Flag Poem
Invasion Overview    Eisenhower Invasion Order
  Corry painting 1   Corry painting 2    Corry Leads Invasion


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