US newspaper editorial with respect to missing crew member of LST 531.
MORE NEWS ABOUT ENGLISH CHANNEL TRAGEDY IS LEARNED
Circa 1944, exact date unknown.
From Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, Mr and Mrs Earl G. Samuelson, 9 Terrace Street, have learned additional details of the action in which their son lost his life in the English Channel in April 1944. His letter follows:
“Your son, Gail Earl Samuelson, hospital apprentice second class, USNR, has been carried on the official records of the Navy Department in the status of missing in action since April 28 1944. He was on board the LST 531 when that vessel, together with other naval craft was engaged in the operational exercises in the English Channel.
“The weather conditions at that time included fair to good visibility and calm sea. During the early morning hours, the ships were attacked and two torpedoes fired almost simultaneously from enemy E-boats struck the landing ship in which he was serving. The vessel broke into flames and sank shortly after the order to abandon ship was given.
“Extensive search of the area by air and surface craft failed to reveal any traces of your son. In view of the length of time that has elapsed without any indication that your son survived, I am reluctantly forced to the conclusion that he is now deceased.
“I extend my deepest sympathy for your sorrow. It is hoped that you may find comfort in the knowledge that your son gave his life for his country, upholding the highest traditions of the navy. Sincerely yours, (Signed) James Forrestal.”
Gail Samuelson was born January 15 1925 in Warren. His entire life was spent in Warren, where he attended the Warren borough schools and graduated with the class of 1943. He was a lifelong member of the First Lutheran church and a very active member of the YMCA in which he participated in different basketball leagues. In the summer months of vacation, he spent his time as caddie and caddie master at the Conewango Valley Country Club.
He entered service in the navy September 5, 1943, had his boot training at the Great Lakes naval training station, was then transferred to the Bainbridge, Md., naval hospital school and after graduation there had further training at Philadelphia naval hospital. He left for overseas from Lido Beach on March 11 1944 aboard the LST 531. He arrived in England March 30, 1944, and was reported missing in action on April 28, 1944.
Besides his parents, he is survived by one sister, Patty.
According to a letter received from a survivor of the action which claimed young Samuelson’s life, only 24 men survived of the navy crew of 141 and 47 soldiers from the compliment of 497. Survivors were in the water for seven hours before rescue boats came to pick them up.