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A Very Rare Purple Heart Grouping Involving A U-boat

Article about: The 66th Infantry division was created on April 15, 1943 and was disbanded on November 8, 1945. Their shoulder patch shown below was to show the power and aggressiveness of the division. Wha

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up A Very Rare Purple Heart Grouping Involving A U-boat

    The 66th Infantry division was created on April 15, 1943 and was disbanded on November 8, 1945. Their shoulder patch shown below was to show the power and aggressiveness of the division. What makes this unit unique in WWII is that this division suffered the worst loss of any American division from a German U-boat attack during the war. That attack occurred on the cold night of Christmas Eve 1944. Please go here if you would like to read more about the sinking: uboat.net - Articles

    On Christmas Eve 1944, 2,235 American soldiers of the 262 Infantry Regiment were on board the troopship the SS Leopoldville. The SS Leopoldville was in the English Channel just five miles away from the port of Cherbourg when she was struck by torpedo's from the U-486. The ship took 2 1/2 hours to sink. Everything that could go wrong on the ship that night happened. The distress call was mishandled, American troops on board the doomed ship were not told to ditch their heavy gear, and rescue ships were slow to the tragedy (a big reason was it was Christmas Eve and many of the ship stations were partially manned that night). As a result 763 American soldiers and 54 crew members from the SS Leopoldville died that night. The Allies were so embarrassed by this sinking that families were told that their loved ones were missing in action or died at the front. The American Government covered up the case until the files were re-opened in 1996.

    Below is a Purple Heart (that I obtained from this disaster). It belongs to a young hero, a PFC named Luther O. Evans. Luther O. Evans (service # 35076019) was from Kentucky and he is mentioned at the tablets of the missing at the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

    Shown below is Luther O. Evans's photograph as well as the letter sent to his father by the Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson (auto-pen signature).
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    Thumbs up Sad Grouping

    On April 2, 1945 the Purple Heart arrived in Kentucky. Shown below is the shipping box. Also shown below are the contents of the box. Items like this reminds you that what we collect are not just trinkets but at times moments of great tragedy and sadness. BTW, the U-486 that sank the SS Leopoldville met her own doom on April 12, 1945. The U-486 was sunk in the North Sea north-west of Bergen, Norway, in position 60.44N, 04.39E by torpedoes from the British submarine HMS Tapir (the entire crew of 48 men were all lost at sea).
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  3. #3
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    Thumbs up A Sad Grouping

    Here is what the U-486 looked like as well as a photo of the SS Leopoldville. Here is a brief history of the U-486:German submarine U-486 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    A very nice, albeit tragic grouping. Thanks for sharing!

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    Wow what an interesting grouping. I can't believe a family member didn't want to hold onto this. at least its got a good home now. Gary

  6. #6
    MAP
    MAP is offline
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    Thanks for posting Jody! Sad story but great piece of history. Glad you are preserving it!

    Michael
    "Please", Thank You" and proper manners appreciated

    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

  7. #7

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    Tragic but intresting story and grouping.
    Leopodville was a Belgian ship doing (mostly!) the Belgium Congo line in time of peace.
    Several different boats, over the years, used that name from 1895 untill 1950.
    Thise particular one was build in 1929.
    |<ris
    Always looking for Belgian Congo stuff!
    cheers
    |<ris

  8. #8

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    Here is a cap as in use by members of that particular merchant fleet, of wich the Leopoldville was part of, at the time.
    cheers
    |<ris
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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    Always looking for Belgian Congo stuff!
    cheers
    |<ris

  9. #9

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    Fascinating story, and also very sad. I must say that I'm amazed the family would have let this go, I don't understand that. I am glad that it has found it's way to someone like you who will treasure and respect it for what it is. It is a terrific piece and very special as you have the amazing story and provenance to go with it.

  10. #10
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    Hello Guys,
    Thank you and I am also amazed at the stuff people will let go. The Purple Heart is in a safe place now and is also cherished by my son. It also reminds me of how many more untold stories of World War II that are still out there.

    BTW, I love the cap.

    Jody

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