Greene County


MM/2c Willis Dudley


Willis Dudley On Ship Sunk Off North Africa

Sailors Row Back to Sinking Ship To Rescue Dog Mascott

Willis Dudley returned this week to Churdan, and after a thrilling experience of taking part in the biggest land invasion ever undertaken by an American fleet. The young sailor who worked her a year ago for the Gowrie Auto Company is now a motor machinist’s mate, second-class and was a visitor here Sunday with his brother, Harlan Dudley.

Dudley was aboard one of the transports sunk only four miles offshore. The ship had been hit with an aerial torpedo that ripped off the stern and then a torpedo from a sub crashed into the hull. The American sailors took to the life rafts and nearby an English pilot who had crashed into the ocean called to a group of navy gunners. “I say, Jock, did you get the bloody business? And it can be said that the Nazi pilot will never damage another American boat.”

Typical of American fighting men the sailors took the risk of being sucked under the water by rowing back to their sinking ship to rescue a mascot, a stray dog that one of the sailors had picked up and brought aboard.

Five U. S. naval transports were sunk by Axis submarines during the occupation of North Africa in the early part of November, the navy department reported recently. During the operation three other transports, one destroyer and one tanker was damaged. The cost was slight considering the fact that Germans must have been aware some larger operation was in prospect for North Africa.

The North African expedition has been written in history as one of the largest single military overseas landing of all times. Carefully timed and planned, it may change the course of the war. Eventually North Africa will be fringed with airfields and planes will be in preparation when the invasion of southern France takes place. With the Mediterranean under control of the United Nations, the route will save 8,000 miles of shipping instead of shipping supplies around Africa.

Source: The Gowrie News, Gowrie, Iowa,  December 24, 1942