November 15, 2015 at 3:34 am #820
Hi, my name is Diane McCrea. I’m from North Arlington, NJ. My dad Albert J. McCrea was from the same little town here in north eastern NJ, he was a survivor of the sinking of the Leopoldville on 12/24/44.
My dad passed away in August 1983. I was only 19 at the time.
We knew he had been a Sergeant in the army in WWII and was decorated with a purple heart which I still have.
When I was a kid, he showed me a yearbook type army book with a black panther on the front and pages and pages of soldiers pictures inside. He told me his division was the 66th infantry. I also saw snapshots of him in Belgium and France, funny thing my dad always had a dog with him. He also had small journal type books with pages filled with sad poems which he had written about his days there. He wrote things like “while the rain beats on my tent sleep escapes me. My friends, my brothers, sleep in (a cemetery with a french name). I asked him what happened. Although he hesitated, he told me that his whole company was on it’s way to the Battle of the Bulge, the precursor to Hitler’s defeat. That his ship was torpedoed and sunk in ice cold water. That he couldn’t get the screams out of his head. Kids he promised to take care of, made plans to do things together once they got back home. He said he didn’t know which was more disturbing, the calls for help when he could barely move his limbs, or the dead soldiers bobbing in the water nearby.
It was a hard story to hear, I was probably only about 12 or 13 yrs old. My father paled while retelling it to me. I know nowadays he would have been disgnosed with PTSD, but back then there was no name or treatment for what he had. Although a sweet and loving husband and father to me and my sister, he was never really able to hold down a job for very long. He always had trouble with his “nerves” people in my family would say.
At the time of dad’s death in 1983 I had no idea of what ship he was on or the story behind his recounting.
Flash forward to about a year ago. I’m reading a newspaper about the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the Leopoldville on Christmas eve 1944. I see a memorial with a few old timers from WWII in the picture. Some of them are wearing old uniform caps and holding their division banner. A memory flashes, its the same black panther from my dads book he had shown me so many years before.
I think…wow, was my dad also a survivor of this ship that went down in the icy english channel 70 years ago?? I googled and googled but couldn’t come up with a definite answer. There were lists of men who died, men who were listed as missing, but couldn’t come up with a list of survivors.
I went to amazon and found a book that was mentioned in the 70th anniversary article in the paper and ordered it. After all, i had nothing to lose.
A week or so later the book arrived. “LEOPOLDVILLE, A Tragedy Too Long Secret” by Allan Andrade.
My heart pounded in my head as I looked through the pages at lists of those lost, missing, and survivors reading through, state by state. Then among the list of survivors hospitalized following the xmas eve disaster, there it was. Sgt. Albert J. McCrea, North Arlington, NJ.
I cried. My dad’s been gone over 30 yrs., yet reading his name, knowing the truth about what happened, made me feel his presence.
I hope this helps. Buy the book if you haven’t already. It’s rich with history and a story worth keeping alive.November 27, 2015 at 5:53 pm #823
What a beautiful testimony!!! My uncle, pvt james p coen who died on the leopoldville would of been 100 last week, nov 20, 2015 His parents were from Ireland. He believed in education, graduated from Fordham university. All those who die for their country in uniform are martyrs of blood. In wash dc on james 100th birthday a bill was placed in motion to be voted for 2 dec. I am not happy and indeed neither would james be, who died for AMERICA. See for yourself, google: ABC’s of dumbing down The leopoldville story is about to be super known NOW, in this country, because I love America and families.November 27, 2015 at 10:39 pm #824
That’s very interesting, yes I will read up on it. Thank you. Hope all goes according to plan in Washington. Please contact me if need be. Diane McCreaNovember 28, 2015 at 12:48 am #825
Diane McCrea, I wish to make known specifically the woman from MAINE who is telling the USA of the urgency of the bill that must not get approved on dec 2. It will be a sad day for all who gave their lives for AMERICA , and or, have a relative that made the ultimate sacrifice. She is: CHARLOTTE THOMSON ISERBYT Former senior policy advisor for the US dept of Education and many other qualifications…..Indeed those related to military who shed their blood have a right to speak up for AMERICA’s FREEDOM NOW This also ISERBYT has posted: One Minute to MIDNITE abc’s of dumbing down…and posted today nov 27, Open Letter to Senator Mike Lee, Utah Indeed the near 800 troops of the leopoldville must now be seen to have died in vain. Let children be not common cored, amen I look here at photo of pvt james p coen, my uncle, He was a medic on the leopoldville so I imagine he gave up all opportunities to save himself, but rather to the end help and console others. His parents from Sligo, IRELAND
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.