Ex-Italian S-boote off Southern France, 17-18 Aug 44
On that night, off the landing beaches where Allied troops had gone ashore two days before, four US Navy destroyers (Frankford (DD497), Harding (DD625), Satterlee (DD626) & Carmick (DD493)) engaged some number of S-boote. Not much about this engagement is clear.
It appears that four, five or or possibly more motor torpedo boats attempted to attack the invasion fleet but were intercepted by the screen of USN and RN destroyers around that fleet. The action took place just before and after midnight 17-18 Aug 44. The night is described as being clear, but extremely dark as there was no moon.
It also appears that the torpedo boats were all former Italian MAS boats taken over by the Kriegsmarine after Italy's surrender & were manned by mostly German crews. I have the Action Reports filed by each of the four USN destroyers involved &, if the claims made in those reports are accurate, four or five torpedo boats were sunk that night. I have found no sources that indicate whether there were other boats involved which escaped.
According to a log captured from one of the boats, they departed La Spezia the night before, stopped briefly at Lerici (named Lereci in the report) & then spent the day at Porto Maurizio (Imperia), leaving there at 2120, 17 Aug 44. Their arrival off the landing beaches two hours later is perfectly reasonable, as they had only 45nm to cover.
The Action Reports state that Harding sank two boats, Frankford sank one definitely and probably another, and that Satterlee & Carmick together sank one more. Morison, Vol XI, p277 agrees completely with the Action Reports, stating that five boats were sunk (but Morison relied heavily on Action Reports, so this is not surprising). Cressman's Chronology, p248, states that Harding sank two, Carmick & Satterlee each sank one, and that Frankford accounted for the fifth. I don't know what his sources were for the different allocation of credit,
I would like to know whether any of the knowledgeable gentlemen who might read this can give any more definite account of the events of that night, and, in particular, whether they can supply the identity of any of the four or five boats sunk that night.
Harding's AR is the only one to give any identification of the enemy except that all agree the boats were ex-Italian MAS boats and not the larger German-built S-boote. Harding's report states that one boat she sank carried the tactical number 17 and the other the number 18. Further, it states that boat 18 carried the number 551 across her transom and was described by survivors as an 'Eisenboot' (iron boat) while all the others were wood. For what it's worth MAS551 & three sisters were steel-hulled (while almost all other MAS boats were made of wood), but most sources claim MAS551 was scuttled at Imperia on 25 Apr 45, and not sunk eight months earlier.
Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
(BTW, I will post this same thread on the Italian Navy board as well.