USS LST-522 ~ Darrell Hutchens, EM2/c ~ United States Navy
Special thanks to the following shipmates who helped me collect the memories presented on these pages.
Atherton RB MoMM1/c
Bernardo DN EM2/c
Kalakay KP MoMM2/c
Lawson GE S1/c
Leib JA S1/c
Leslie GR BM1/c
Malcolm PI GM2/c
Marrah WA SC2/c
Mastromauro AL MoMM3/c
Miller DJ GM1/c
While reading an issue of Scuttlebutt*,
the story of two LST's being hit by a "buzz" bomb was of special interest to me. At the time, it was believed
that this was the only instance of a warship being hit by this type of bomb. This was not quite true. At
about the same time, LST 522 was severely damaged, and several of our crew were injured by the same type of
It was a beautiful day as we sailed down the Thames River from London. I was walking through the crew quarters when there was a terrific explosion. The ship lurched, and my knees buckled under me. I had to hang on to a bunk to keep from falling. Dust from the insulation on the bulkheads filled the air, and it was difficult to see. I found my way to the galley, and out to the stern.
From the officer's quarters aft on the starboard side, the railings were blown away. Fires were burning, shrapnel holes were everywhere, and much of the starboard steel sheeting was pushed in several inches between the ship's ribs.
After taking care of the injured, putting out fires and clearing the debris, the ship was directed to a repair area where we spent several weeks.
One of the witnesses to the incident told this story: Alerted by the characteristic sound, he observed the bomb coming, and it was on a collision course with one of the barrage balloons that surrounded London. The wing of the "buzz" bomb hooked the cable of the balloon, and it flipped out of control directly over the ship. The exact distance from our ship that the bomb hit the water is not known, but it was close enough to put us out of the war for several weeks.
LST 522 had several close calls from D-Day on the coast of France to the day I left her in Tsingtao, China. Beside being stalked by subs and E-boats, we survived several air raids, were beached by a severe storm on the French coast, fought through a hurricane in the south Atlantic, battled winter storms off Korea, and dodged mines in the Yellow Sea.
Problems, such as engine failure with a load of ammunition in the Panama Canal, steering failure in a convoy, anchor chain breaking in a Korean storm, ramming a submerged breakwater in Manila harbor, and gyro compass failure in the mid Atlantic, caused captain and crew a lot of anxiety.
Specifics of all these incidents would make a good story, but I am sure most LST crews have heard it all before.
Overall, the LST was a good ship with a good crew, and despite the battles, storms and other problems, she brought us home. That's the bottom line.