Thursday, December 07, 2006

West Loch Disaster

On Sunday morning, May 21, 1944, 29 LSTs readied for the invasion of Saipan, were nestled together at six berths. On May 21, 1944, at 3:08 p.m., an explosion blossomed out of LST-353. The explosions continued, damaging more than 20 buildings shoreside at the West Loch facility. For 24 hours fires raged aboard the stricken ships. In all six LSTs were sunk and several severely damaged. Dead were 163 men and 396 were wounded. There were many acts of heroism that day and many smart decisions saved other ships.
Jen and I caught a History Channel special on this back on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. It was billed as the other Pearl Harbor disaster. It was very interesting and I was struck. As someone who is kind of up on this stuff.....I had never heard of this incident. That was the point of the special, that even after all these years, the disaster was largely unknown. Partly because at the time we did not want Japan to know the extent of the disaster.

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