The Seaweed

USS Champlin DD-601  

Fall 2000

SS Wyoming Photo

SS Wyoming Story

Contributors to this article include Robert Baughan, Glenn Ecklund, Jody Warner Farnsworth, Archa Knowlton, Luc Lamblin, Anne Le Gall, Samuel L. Looney, Harold Medvedeff, Richard Roseman, Joseph Tricarico, Kenneth Young and the

Eugene Le Gall served as Third Lieutenant aboard the SS Wyoming, a merchantman assigned the tail position in the starboard column of convoy UGS-6, which departed New York March 4, 1943. Anne Le Gall is the daughter of the late Eugene Le Gall, who wrote the following account in his diary shortly after the SS Wyoming was torpedoed and sunk. Anne recently visited the USS Champlin web site, viewed the photo of the SS Wyoming and then e-mailed a message advising of the existence of her fatherís wartime diary. Pertinent passages in his diary were translated from French to English through the efforts of Anne Le Gall and her husband Luc Lamblin in France and Jody Warner Farnsworth in Canandaigua, NY. Here is their translation of Le Gallís account of the sinking of the SS Wyoming.

"Just before 1900 hours our rest before the next shift was shaken by a terrible explosion that threw us against one another. The ship began to vibrate like a resonating drum. One would think she was made of glass. Then the prow sunk suddenly giving the impression that it was disappearing under our feet. We rushed out on deck. An enormous black cloud spewed along the starboard hull and was rising to a bewildering height. At the same time an ominous whistle came up from the hold. There was no doubt that we had been torpedoed. We could smell the strong odor of powder. Under the weight of tons of water rushing into the hold, the ship suddenly listed at an unbelievable angle. I thought she was going to sink, but she righted hersel. Only the bow was under water."


SS Wyoming 1
SS Wyoming Story (part 2) 2
SS Wyoming Story (part 3) 3
SS Wyoming Story (part 4) 4
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Champlin 5
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SS Wyoming Story (part 5) 6


"The torpedo hit hold #2 under the bridge at 18:55. At 18:56 as I was climbing the ladder to the bridge, a second torpedo hit hold #3 under my feet. As before the same hellish noise started again. The ship did not roll this time, but she dipped her nose a little more."

"There was devastation and deslolation on the bridge. The compass was pulled out, the helm was stuck in the hands of the steersman, and we were floundering around in ten centimetes of dark water. Obviously the ship was lost. Thre was nothing to do but to evacuate as rapidly as possible. A signal would have been given, but the horns didn't work. All at once the steam whistle started all by itself under the tension of the cord, indicating that the ship had probably broken in her middle by the second torpedo. The rope broke off and the whistle stopped."

"After grabbing my wallet and my life Jacket as I went by my cabin, I reached the passenger's gangway. There was nobody! There was nobody down below either. You could hear the gurgling of water as it flooded the holds. I went up to the lifeboat deck. Nearly the entire crew had already gone aboard, including the engineer officer on duty and his watch."

"As I was about to get into the lifeboat which has been assigned to me according to the abandon ship chedklist, I looked back and saw that two of the men who had to operate the lifeboats were in a very weak condition. The Second Captain, Clouveau, was operating the first man's windlass and my friend Allain the other. I went beside Allain to help him. Four minutes after receiving the first torpedo, the lifeboats had been launched; a record. Straight away they cleared the vessel."

"It was our turn to launch. We leaned over the gunwales and could see the two starboard lifeboats at about fifty meters carefully moving away from the ship which was about to sink. Clouveau, the Second Captain, managed to embark."

"I told Allain, 'Never mind, let's jump into the water.'"

"We went down to the main deck. Captain Legrand arrived carrying the ship's log under his arm. Chief Radio Lequelle was also there but didn't dare jump into the water. The Captain decided to go to the stern to free one of the rafts hung on the mast stays. I told him, 'It's too late. We will get caught in the backwash'."

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