Pollux Crew

The USS Pollux (AKS-2) was a supply ship in the United States Navy. It was commissioned on May 6, 1941 and assigned to the Navy's Atlantic Fleet. During the Second World War, the Pollux transported troops, equipment, food, and other goods to Allied ports on both sides of the North Atlantic. Like all supply ships, the Pollux had to be constantly on guard against enemy attack - German U-boats patrolled shipping lanes and torpedoed vessels carrying imports to Allied ports. As a result, destroyers usually accompanied supply ships for protection.

On February 15, 1942, the Pollux departed Maine for Argentia, Newfoundland, where a large US air-naval base existed. It was carrying a cargo of bombs, radio equipment, aircraft engines, and other supplies, and was under the escort of the destroyers USS Truxtun and USS Wilkes. Onboard the Pollux was its usual complement of 143 enlisted men, 16 officers, and the single alley cat that served as mascot. The crew was one of the most tightly knit in the fleet - a good number of the men had trained together in boot camp and had grown up in New York City or surrounding areas. By the time the Pollux steamed into Newfoundland waters, most of its crewmembers had served together for about eight months. Also present on that voyage were 58 new recruits travelling to Argentia for training and 16 passengers on their way to the USS Prairie.

As the convoy approached Newfoundland, a severe winter storm developed and reduced visibility to zero. The Pollux lost contact with its destroyer escorts and was pushed dangerously close to shore by giant waves and powerful ocean currents. At 4:17 in the morning of February 18, the Pollux ran aground on the jagged rocks at Lawn Point, on Newfoundland's south coast. All of the 233 men onboard realized that the vessel would not remain afloat for long - cracks had appeared throughout much of the hull and some of its forward holds were filling with water.

A desperate attempt to reach land filled the coming hours. The men first had to cross the violent seas that lay between them and shore, then they had to scale 100-feet-tall ice-covered cliffs to reach safe ground. Ninety three men died that day at Lawn Point, but 103 made it to safety. They owe their lives in large part to eight men from the nearby community of Lawn, as well as to the townsfolk of St. Lawrence, who travelled to the wreck site through a winter storm and spent hours pulling sailors over the cliff and then transporting them to safety. The disaster remains one of the worst in US naval history.

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