The mystery arises from two sources of information and two different accounts. In a letter written by Gus on July 13th of 1943, he tells a friend:
“We were still about a mile from the Point, when much to our surprise a destroyer loomed up ahead headed toward us. We immediately again flashed our light and they began yelling that they had seen us and would come to our rescue. Was she a happy sight! After about five minutes which seemed like hours, they threw us a line and came alongside. By this time I was pretty weak and one of my firemen who was with us on the floater net practically carried me up the side of the GWIN where I was pulled aboard and taken to the wardroom practically flat out.”
An action report written later by one of Wellings' officers stated that the Captain was picked up by the USS RALPH TALBOT, one of the other screening escorts, a companion that night to USS GWIN. So with this discrepancy in mind, and realizing that in the heat of battle some details may be lost or mistaken, I set out to find a way to find the truth. It turns out that the deck logs of the ships might have the answers. To get copies of the deck logs I went to the web site for the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. A link to the site can be found on the links page. There, they have a contact form where you can enter a request for specific information, along with your name, address, email and such. I sent in a form requesting deck logs for RALPH TALBOT and GWIN for a few days prior to July 5th, and a couple of days after. Once the form was submitted, I received an email telling me it could take 3-4 weeks for my request to be addressed. It must have been a slow period at the NA, because it was less than two weeks – and not only did they address my request, but they sent me the documents I asked for free of charge. And fortunately for me, one of the documents had the answer I was looking for. Turns out that the Captain was correct in being rescued by GWIN, along with a couple other officers and crew. RALPH TALBOT actually rescued 18 sailors from STRONG that night. Anyone wanting to see copies of these documents, just drop me a note. I'm including the July 5th, 1943 entry from GWIN in this post.
Here's to solving a few more mysteries in the days and weeks to come.