Veterans Memorial of Titusville, Florida
Monument dedicated January 30, 2005
Christmas 2004 is the 60th anniversary of the torpedoing of the Leopoldville. The ship and the division she was transporting was sunk off the coast of Cherbourg France while on the way to relieve the troops at the battle of Bastogne.
On Christmas eve, 1944, the S.S. Leopoldville made her final crossing of the English Channel. The Belgian passenger liner was converted into a troopship and carried 2,235 men from the 262nd and 264th Regiments who were known as the 66th Infantry Division. The men were headed to Cherbourg from Southampton to serve as reinforcement in the Battle of the Bulge. Within five and a half miles from shore, the Leopoldville was struck by a torpedo fired by U-boat 486. Two and a half hours later, the S.S. Leopoldville sank.
By the end of that night, 763 soldiers were dead. Many of those killed were only 18 to 21 years old and 493 bodies were never recovered.
The ship's clock showed 10 minutes to 6, Christmas eve. Panthermen were about to get their first taste of war. The enemy torpedo struck...
The Leopoldville disaster was the worst tragedy to ever befall an American Infantry Division as a result of an enemy submarine attack.
Click on a picture to see the enlargements.
Information & group photo provided by George Cipolletti, a survivor.
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