Eyewitness Account #2

I just received information that Bill Kreider passed away recently.  More information here.

The following was received from William Kreider who presently lives in San Francisco. He has given us permission to put this on the site.


I was a radioman aboard the US Coast Guard manned USS LST 768. On July 23, 1945 we were enroute from Okinawa to Leyte in the Philippines in convoy with a group of LSTs and an Army troopship, the USS Adria, all carrying members of the US Army 96th Infantry Division. We were escorted by a destroyer escort the USS Underhill (DE682) and by four (4) PCs, the 803, 804, 807, 1251 (2) SC’s 1306, 1309 and one (1) PCE the 872. On the morning of July 24, 1945 a Japanese plane was spotted. It circled our convoy, but it was out of range of our gunfire. The plane was a patrol bomber and probably giving our position by radio to the Japanese in Formosa.

In the afternoon around 1500 hours the convoy was attacked by submarines. The Underhill reported that there were one (1) large and seven (7) small subs in the area. I was in the Chart Room were a SCR (Signal Corps Radio) was located. There was also a SCR in use on the conn. We were in voice radio contact with the convoy. Lieutenant Commander Robert M. Newcomb the skipper of the Underhill was advising the group leaders and all ships concerned of the situation. He stated that one (1) sub had been sunk and he was about to ram another. Those were his last words as the Underhill went off the air. I was immediately told that the Underhill had exploded. I went out to the bridge and looked out to were the Underhill had been and what I saw was clouds of smoke rising to the sky. When the Underhill rammed the submarine both exploded

The survivors were picked up by the PC 803 and 804 and at dawn the next morning were transferred to our ship (LST 768) and the LST 739. Medical doctors came aboard. The doctors from the 96th Infantry Division took charge of treating the wounded. The ship’s wardroom was turned into a operating room. I talked to some of the survivors asking if any were radiomen. I believed that 10 or more radiomen were aboard the Underhill. I was told that they were all killed. I later learned that more than one hundred officers and men were all killed at the time of the explosion. Just about half the crew.

Later a Navy seaplane landed and several seriously wounded were put aboard the plane and taken to the Philippines for emergency treatment. Again, later (2) destroyers and a Navy plane joined our convoy. Two (2) more subs were sunk as we continued to the Philippines. We arrived at Samar and transferred survivors to the Field Hospital there. We then continued to Leyte and there we debarked the Army troops from the 96th Infantry Division.

I concur with Captain Neale O. Westfall, USCG Retired then duty officer and communication officer aboard the LST 768, in speaking of his memories and recollections of July 24 and 25 1945 at a recent Underhill reunion said that in his opinion, there were no doubt that the Underhill aggressive action had saved the convoy.

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