Edward R. Murrow
Just after D-Day, on June 9, 1944, the captain of the USS Corry,
Lieutenant Commander George Dewey Hoffman, was interviewed in London on CBS radio by broadcast journalism legend Edward R. Murrow. Captain Hoffman was
the godson of Admiral George Dewey, hero of the Spanish American War Battle
of Manila Bay. Below is Captain Hoffman's interview about the Corry
in the frontline action on D-Day.
Captain George Dewey
Hoffman on Corry bridge
BELOW: LISTEN TO THE JUNE 9, 1944 EDWARD R. MURROW CBS RADIO INTERVIEW OF USS CORRY COMMANDING OFFICER GEORGE DEWEY HOFFMAN ON THE SINKING OF THE CORRY. PRECEDING THE INTERVIEW ARE 3-1/2 MINUTES OF D-DAY COMBAT AND NEWSREEL FOOTAGE ALONG WITH A D-DAY NEWS BRIEF FROM BOB TROUT. (video on youtube.com)
BELOW, READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW.
BOB TROUT (CBS New York): And now we've been told that our correspondent in London, Edward R. Murrow, is ready to tell us more of the latest invasion news and some features also, so now we take you to London, Edward R. Murrow reporting.
EDWARD R. MURROW: This is London. Sitting here in our studio is the commanding officer of the first American destroyer to be lost in the invasion of Europe. He is a 33-year-old lieutenant commander. I can't tell you his name or the name of his ship. But it would probably be alright to say he was named after a famous American naval officer. Here is his story.
CAPTAIN HOFFMAN: It was a very slow trip over, so slow in fact, that one of my friends passing by asked me if I thought I'd ever get there. When we finally did get there, we saw the greatest pyrotechnic display I've ever seen or probably ever shall see. Their red and green chars reached hundreds of feet high. That was probably the German signal that the invasion was on.
We were just one of a group of destroyers. Our job was to bombard enemy machine gun nests and artillery emplacements menacing the landing of our troops. We were about 4,000 yards off-shore when the coastal batteries opened up. The destroyer immediately ahead of us came under fire, but she moved on to her station. And then the guns ranged on us. It was about an hour before H-Hour. The first shell splashes were short.
Waves of bombers were overhead. One was blazing with flames, but maintained perfect formation. Then it blew up in a great orange flame, while the rest of her teammates dropped hundreds of tons of bombs on the German beach defenses nearby.
We started counter battery fire ranging on the flashes of the German guns ashore. We were firing salvos, and the Germans were firing back.
MURROW: How fast were you going?
CAPTAIN HOFFMAN: Very slow -- we were taking as much evasive action as we could, but we had to stay within our prescribed area, for it was our job to support the troops about to go ashore.
MURROW: What happened next?
CAPTAIN HOFFMAN: We silenced him, and began to pound our assigned targets, which were German pillboxes and machine gun positions. We eliminated a couple of them, and then another battery opened fire on us. The visibility was improving, which meant that we would have a better chance to get him, and that he would have a better chance to get us. We increased our rate of fire. Empty powder tanks came pouring out of turrets.
We exchanged fire for about ten minutes, pouring it on the shore batteries, and then we were hit -- three large projectiles entered almost simultaneously.
I rang for full speed and gave a hard right rudder to clear the area to assess damage, stop leaks, and put out fires before returning. The rudder jammed. The ship speeded up and began going in circles.
MURROW: Then what happened?
CAPTAIN HOFFMAN: All communications failed, the lights went out, and I sent the officers and men aft to steer by hand. We were in danger of going aground on the reefs. They got her headed to seaward, and then we lost all steam, and the engines stopped. I ordered the ship's power boats put over to tow us clear of the area.
MURROW: How long did that take?
CAPTAIN HOFFMAN: About five minutes. But before they could start towing, I had to order abandon ship. The main deck was awash, due to the rapidity of the flooding of all the engineering spaces except one.
We got away in good order, placing the wounded in boats. When all were clear I stepped into the water, but the current kept pleating the swimmers around the ship, during which time they were subjected to an endless shelling, which further pitiably increased our losses. The survivors were picked up in less than two hours by sister destroyers.
MURROW: How was the discipline, commander?
CAPTAIN HOFFMAN: I am very proud of the way in which everyone kept calm and cheerful against the adversity of the extremely cold water and the shelling, but our losses were moderate.
MURROW: Well, sir, I hope you get another ship soon.
CAPTAIN HOFFMAN: Well, so do I.
MURROW: Thank you very much indeed, commander, for coming along here in the early hours of the morning to talk to us.
[Source: National Archives
audio recording NWDNM(s)-200-MR-3063
|Read Nov. 1944 "The Pointer" magazine article by Captain Hoffman on the sinking of the Corry|
Read September 1945 Newspaper Article
on LCMDR George Dewey Hoffman
USS Corry DD-463 home page