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USS SLATER TO GET SISTER SHIP'S ARTIFACTS


Article courtesy of the Times Union

By Terry Brown, Staff writer
Saturday, June 21, 2008

Former crew members of the Navy's USS Atherton (DE-169) who sank a German submarine off the coast of Rhode Island during the closing hours of World War II will reunite Monday through Wednesday in Malta at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 101 Saratoga Village Blvd. The veterans will meet in Albany on board the Atherton's sister ship, USS Slater (DE-766), at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Reunion organizer Preston Davis, of Stafford, Va., who was a gunnery mate on the Atherton, will present Slater representatives with artifacts, photos and biographies of the Atherton crew along with the tattered American flag that flew during that Battle of Point Judith, the final battle in the Atlantic. They'll be displayed in the ship's museum.

During the war, the Atherton had a crew of 15 officers and 201 sailors.

The Atherton and the Slater are the only two destroyer escorts from World War II still afloat today, Davis said.

The Atherton, now named the Rajah Humabon PF11, remains on active duty as a Philippines Navy vessel. Four days after Hitler committed suicide, a German Navy admiral radioed a message to all U-boats to cease fire. But because U-853 was submerged, it didn't receive the order, according to a story by Ralph DiCarpio on the USS Atherton Association's Web site.

On May 5 the U-boat crew spotted and torpedoed the USS Point Black transporting coal. Five sailors died and 41 were rescued as their ship sank.

Several nearby U.S. Navy ships, including the Atherton, were ordered to hunt and sink the German sub.

Early on May 6, after the Atherton's sonar detected the enemy craft, ``our depth charges sank the sub,'' said Davis, who manned an anti-aircraft weapon during the battle.

After several explosions, air bubbles, debris and German Navy life jackets rose to the surface. Among the debris, an Atherton sailor retrieved a cap worn by the sub's commander, Hulmut Fromsdorf.

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Preston Davis, GM 2/c, proudly displays the flag flown by his ship, USS ATHERTON DE 169, during the Battle of Point Judith, the final battle of the Atlantic during WWII.  The display was donated 24 June 2008 to the USS SLATER DE 766 museum in Albany, NY.

 

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