N A V Y  D E P A R T M E N T
 
     
  IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
  PRESS AND RADIO                                                                       JUNE 6, 1944  
     
  MEMORANDUM TO THE PRESS:  
     
          The following was given to the press today by Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, U.S.N., Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, at the press conference of Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal:  
     
 
ADVENTURE OF ENSIGN M. E. FITZGERALD, U.S.N.R.
 
     
          Ensign Fitzgerald was riding in a TBF as gunner-observer in an attack on a German submarine.  The plane spun into the sea in making a tight turn following a successful depth charge attack.  
     
          After the plane crashed, Ensign Fitzgerald found a seat-pack life-raft floating nearby.  When he got his raft inflated and got aboard, he heard faint shouts from the direction of the area of the sub's sinking.  About an hour later he saw a man approaching, he said frankly "scared to death" for he didn't know how many he might have to cope with.  The fellow kept swimming toward him in a sort of dog paddle across the calm seas.  When he was 50 yards away, Ensign Fitzgerald called him, asking if he could speak English.  The man answered "Nein."  
     
          As the German came alongside, the pilot of another U.S. plane, which had arrived overhead, saw the man in the water, and thinking that he might be another surviving American, dropped his own life raft nearby.  
     
          Ensign Fitzgerald required the German to swim over to the life raft and push it back to him.  Then he showed him how to open it, inflate it, and climb in.  When the German was aboard, the flyer brought the two rafts together,secured them, and then turned his attention to the wounds of the German, employing the bandages and medicine in his kit.  The German was surprised at such treatment.  
     
          Later there were more calls in the distance:  two more men moved into sight, swimming toward the raft.  When they approached, Ensign Fitzgerald was astonished that men could stay afloat in their wounded condition, much less swim a mile in the open sea.  
     
          One, who identified himself as the commanding officer, had a gaping wound in his shattered knee, as well as head wounds that later took 50 stitches to close after he had been taken aboard ship.  The captain climbed in one raft, the other hung on.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
- 2 -
 
     
          "Did you fire on my plane?" asked Ensign Fitzgerald, hitching his sheath knife around into easy reach.  
     
          The captain of the lost sub looked at him cagily, "You mad?"  
     
          "No, I'm not mad, just wanted to know."  
     
          The young Nazi relaxed, "Sure, my gun crews shot at it.  We shot it down."  
     
          Ensign Fitzgerald proceeded to bandage up the captain's wounds and those of the third German.  The captain watched his captor take care of him and his mates, then stuck out his hand to shake.  "You good fellow.  Damn war!"  
     
          (Note:  Lieutenant (junior grade) Mark E. Fitzgerald, U.S.N.R., who was an Ensign at the time of the incident, is a son of Mrs. R.E. Fitzgerald of 83 Broad, Salamanca, New York.)  
     
 
* * *
 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

 


 

Click the icons to view the associated records

Return to the U-1059 page