At 00:14 hrs. on this date two Japanese torpedoes struck the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis. The ship went down in 12 minutes. Out of a crew of 1196, 300 died in the sinking and of the 880 remaining only 317 were rescued 4 and 1/2 days later. The rest died of dehydration, exposure and shark attack.
The Indianapolis had just delivered the components of the Atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima to the island of Tinian when she was sunk so was noted for that reason.
I first learned of the story of the Indianapolis while watching the movie Jaws. One of the protagonist, Quint told of being on the Indianapolis.
The skipper of the Indianapolis, Captain Charles Butler McVey III was the only ship's captain in WW II who was court martialed by the U.S. Navy for losing a ship in combat. He was found guilty of hazarding his ship by not zig-zagging. The trial was also unusual in that the commanding officer of the Japanese sub that sank the Indianapolis testified for the prosecution. He stated that whether or not the Indianapolis was zig-zagging would have made no difference, that he would have been able to sink her in any case.
While most of the surviving crew of the Indianapolis held McVey blameless for the sinking, family members of the lost seamen were not as forgiving. McVey was harassed for years until he committed suicide in 1968.
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