Stories From the Underhill #2

 More Highlights From the Underhill Guest Book

I received this message recently from a visitor to out Underhill Guest Book.  I thought you would be interested in another eyewitness account of the sinking of the Underhill.
This is from: Bob Netko <rnetko@msn.com>

I was an Electronic Technician crewman aboard LST 991 and was an eyewitness when the Underhill was sunk. I am 78 now but will to the best of my memory describe what we saw. July 24th was a clear sunny morning and I was up on our ships bridge having coffee with the voice radioman, when we saw a plane out on the eastern horizon at about 0830. We thought it was a Jap Dinah and the radioman reported it to the Underhill and was told that they had it spotted. We went to GQ for some time but when the plane took no hostile action we went back to normal routine. Around noon our screening force started getting sonar contacts indicating there were Jap subs around and they started hunting the subs and dropping depth charges. Since an LST has a maximum flank speed of 14 knots and it's only armament was 20 and 40mm surface guns, we could only continue steaming as directed by the Task Group Commander and hope that our screening ships could protect us. We also saw a floating mine sail by our ship about 30 yards out, which we were later informed was a dud. Around 1530 the radioman on the Underhill shouted, "we see one dead ahead, we're going in to ram him!!!" At this time the Underhill was about 500 yards aft of our starboard beam sailing in the same direction. There was then a tremendous explosion and the whole front half of the Underhill disappeared and the stern half tipped up. After that most of the screening craft set about rescueing the survivors while the rest continued hunting the subs but that was pretty much the end of the action and rescue operations continued the rest of the day. By 1900 we could no longer see the stern half but could hear the gunfire when it was sunk by order of Fleet Command.

The following day a PBY float plane came out and took some of the badly wounded back to Manila while the dead were given burials at sea with short services by the ships Captains I believe our ship buried 9 men.

I didn't know anything else about the Underhill, but for 59 years I have thought about them now and then, thinking how tragic it was to happen when the war was essentialy over. I finally decided today to look for the U.S. Underhill sinking on GooGle and found this wonderful web site. To any of you still surviving I say thank you from the bottom of my heart for making my long and fruitful life possible. MY wife and I have 7 chidren and 16 Grandchildren. For the ones have died, both at sea and afterwards, my wish is that they are resting in peace and perpetual life shines upon them.

Highlights From the Underhill Guest Book

Recently I received a message from the Underhill Guest Book that I thought I would add to the web site content.  I have found from experience that the small bits and pieces like the one from Eric all help to make the detail of that terrible day in July more clear.  My thanks to Eric for helping add another piece to the puzzle. Jay

From: Eric Duchess <Dutch1776@alltel.net>
My 90 year-old grandfather, Merle Kimble, served aboard the USS Charles E. Brannon (DE-446).  He still recalls the USS D.E. Underhill steaming alongside his own ship.  He can scarcely speak of her loss without getting all teary-eyed. God Bless those poor men lost in the sinking.

Here is an entry from my grandfather's diary from WWII, written aboard the USS Charles E. Brannon (DE-446):  "July 27, 1945.  We are off the Northern coast of Luzon at sea. The D.E. Underhill 682 was sunk by a Jap suicide sub torpedo the afternoon of July 25.  We passed the spot about noon today.  One of the other ships picked up 4 bodies and gave them a burial at see.  The Underhill had caught up with us when we were underway from Bora Bora to Marrianas."

Remembering Stanley J Abcunas
Two family members are looking for information.

Crew of the Underhill,
I was wondering if anyone knew my granduncle Stanley J. Abcunas. As I research and document my family tree, I've become interested in the story of DE-682.  As I was born almost 23 years after he gave his life, I never knew Stanley. If anyone has any stories or pictures of him, I would be must grateful. Thank you for defending our great country.
Sincerely
Bill Lange

I recently learned about the bravery and sacrifice of the crew on the USS Underhill. I must say that I am extremely proud of the men who saved the lives of thousands at the hands of their own. This type of bravery are stories our children need to hear about war, not the tragedy, but the honor. I am looking for anyone who might remember my uncle Stanley Abcunas, from Lynn, Massachusetts. My father was youngest of 10, so, he also knew little of his own brother. He perished with the USS Underhill on that fateful day, and we still remember him fondly today. If you remember Stanley, who was said to be the ships cook, please share those memories with me, as it would really mean alot to me. Thank you, Stanley's neice, Leslie Abcunas

******************* Here Is a Response To Request ********************
To Bill Lange
I get several request from relatives about loved ones that didn't survive the July 24 1945 attacked on the Underhill. I only wish that I could remember more about the crew. You would think that living with 230 men on a small ship for almost three years, a person would get to know every one. In a way it was like a large family, with Captain Newcomb and the other officers telling us what to do each day. It got to be routine and even boring. The only things that became etched in my memory are the unusual and even shocking happenings.
Like Lt. Joe Timberlakes drawing his 45, and telling me "no one leaves the ship." Then afterwards seeing our own gunfire sink what was left of the Underhill.
Before they opened fire, they circled the ship for anymore survivors. There were several bodies floating in the water. I may be wrong, but the name "Abcunas" was stenciled on the shirt of one of the bodies. They were given orders from Convoy Command to leave the dead and just pick up the living. Later another ship picked up some bodies in the area. I could not say if Abcunas was with them.

I wasn't able to view the picture you put on the web. The"names" of the crew members are what I recognize most. Just can't put a face on them. Aboard the ship they always said  "Abacunas."

Waggy

This note is from Ernest Clackum, son of Ernest Clackum Jr, survivor.  He would like to know if any of his dad's shipmates are still alive and might remember him. He says "I know he must have been tight with these guys or he wouldn't have sent their pictures home".

The 1st picture is (LtoR)D.J.(David)Doar GM/2c, Joe "Doc" Manory PhM/2c, and my dad, Ernest Clackum, Jr. GM 2c. There is no indication on the back of the picture as to where or when this was made.

The second picture is(LtoR)D.J. Doar, Ed Hancock EM/2c, "Doc" Manory, L.C.R. Nadelhoffer GM 1/c, Alfred "Al" A. Pihlaksar QM 3/c. The names are on the back of the picture back. It is dated 1/45  New London, Conn. and says, "some ship mates".

This is my dad's picture, Ernest Clackum, Jr. S/2C.  Later he finished gunnery school(Bermuda) and was GM/2C. The picture says on the back it was made on Saturday, March 20, 1943. I think he was home(Marietta, GA) on leave from Great Lakes after he completed basic training. Not sure, but that's what I remember being told.

He is also listed in Mr. Riley's book(The Last Convoy) on pages 66, 73, 86, 171, 268, and 293. In the picture pages that follow page 223, he is on the third picture page, top group shot. He is the one standing on the far right(no shirt and no hat. Ernest

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