Buffalo & Western New York Vets Who Served in the
United States Navy

ENS Romaine O. Blandy
Lancaster, NY

USS Fechteler DE-157

Romaine Blandy was born on August 30th, 1921 in Mayville, NY on the northwestern shore of
Chautauqua Lake, though by the time war came to the USA in December of 1941, his family had
moved northeast to Lancaster, NY. He enrolled at the University of Michigan during the Fall of
1940, participated in an accelerated study program, and was among the twenty-five graduates of
the University's first NROTC class in October of 1943, receiving a commission as an Ensign in the
United States Naval Reserve. He applied for duty on small ships and trained at the US Navy's
Sub Chaser Training Center in Miami, FL where he learned the business of hunting submarines.

After completion of the five or six week course at SCTC, Ensign Blandy was sent to Quonset Point,
RI where he reported for temporary duty aboard the USS Fechteler (DE-157), a US Navy destroyer
escort, on February 27th, 1944. The next day Fechteler departed for Londonderry, Ireland, reaching
her destination on the 8th of March. A few days later, on the 12th, Fechteler joined the escort for
convoy UC 15 which was headed to New York. Arriving on the 22nd of March, Fechteler was
moored at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and remained there for the rest of the month.

On April 1st, 1944 USS Fechteler headed to Norfolk, VA where she joined Task Force 66, which
was detailed to escort convoy UGS 38 from Hampton Roads, VA to Bizerte, Tunisia. Leaving on
April 3rd, 1944, the convoy crossed the Atlantic and passed through the Strait of Gibralter into
the Mediterranean Sea uneventfully. But on the night of April 20th, off the coast of Algeria, the
convoy was attacked by German aircraft. Two ships were sunk (including the destroyer, USS
Lansdale) with three more damaged, one of which would sink the next day. Fechteler's antiair-
craft guns got a bit of a workout during the attack, with one aircraft claimed destroyed by the
ship's gunners, out of at least eleven lost in the area by the Germans that night.

Arriving at Bizerte on the 22nd, Fechteler remained there until May 1st, when she again took
on escort duty for the same convoy, now redesignated GUS 38, on its return to the USA. Over
the next few days, the convoy was attacked twice by U-boats. The first incident, in the very
early morning of May 3rd, saw the USS Menges (DE-320) hit in the stern by a torpedo fired
from the U-boat U-371. The submarine was hunted relentlessly for more than 24 hours until
her skipper was forced to surface and eventually order the boat abandoned and scuttled.
Though she lost 31 men, the Menges survived, was repaired, and put back into service.

The second incident involved USS Fechteler herself. At 03:45 on May 5th she was hit on the
port side amidships by a torpedo from U-boat U-967, effectively breaking the ship's back.
It was quickly determined that she could not be saved, and the order to abandon was given
at 04:15. Roughly 45 minutes later the Fechteler, her bow and stern each pointing skyward,
slipped under, taking 26 crew with her. Among those lost was Ensign Romaine Blandy.

Romaine Blandy, on the right, receives his commission as Ensign, October 23rd, 1943.

The Michigan Alumnus - Volume XLX Number 6, November 6th, 1943 via Google Books

Romaine Blandy is shown here, third from left, second row from the top,
in his freshman year at the University of Michigan.

The Michiganensian 1941 via Google Books

He's also in this photo showing 104 members of U-M's first NROTC class.
Haven't been able to identify him yet, though.

The Michiganensian 1941 via Google Books

Though enrolled in the ROTC program at U-M, Romaine was still required to register
for the draft, which he did while at school in Michigan. Here's his draft card.

National Archives and Records Administration via Fold3

National Archives and Records Administration via Fold3

Perhaps the most popular feature of the NROTC program was the 'Summer Cruise'. For the
midshipmen at the University of Michigan, this meant spending a week and a half or so aboard
the gunboat USS Wilmette (IX-29). Romaine spent about eleven days aboard the Wilmette from
May 27th to June 6th, 1943. See the relevant pages from USS Wilmette's muster rolls
and from the US Navy Ninth Naval District's War Diary, HERE.

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center via Ohio Link Digital Resource Commons

This photo was taken during a Summer Cruise aboard the Wilmette in 1943.
One has to wonder if this was the cruise Romaine was on, and if he's shown here.

Bentley Historical Library - University of Michigan

The November 6th, 1943 issue of 'The Michigan Alumnus' contains an article concerning
the University of Michigan's first NROTC graduates. Romaine Blandy was featured on the cover.

All Five Previous Images:
The Michigan Alumnus - Volume XLX Number 6, November 6th, 1943 via Google Books

In the article above it was mentioned that Ensign Blandy 'applied for duty on small ships'. That's
a little vague, as 'small ships' encompassed a wide variety of different craft, including submarine
chasers, patrol boats, mine sweepers, gun boats, cutters, barges, tug boats, net tenders, converted
yachts, and other small craft. At the time, the total combined inventory of all these types was well
over one thousand. Collectively, this large fleet of 'small ships' was affectionately (and sometimes
derisively) referred to as 'The Donald Duck Navy'. Anyway, it was apparently the first in the above
list of types on which Ensign Blandy had chosen to serve; he was sent to the US Navy Sub Chaser
Training Center in Miami, FL for a five or six week course during which he undoubtedly learned
all about chasing enemy submarines. And how to send them on down to Davy Jones' locker.

You can read a book excerpt concerning the SCTC HERE.

Here's a couple'a views showing the SCTC in Miami during its early days in May of 1942.

Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

The SCTC fully embraced its place within the 'Donald Duck Navy', as evidenced by its unofficial
adoption and widespread use of various forms of this artwork for everything from signage at its
facilities to office stationary. The artwork depicts S1 Donald Duck wearing a 'PC' armband to
signify the 'PC Boats', the patrol craft used by the SCTC, while carrying a 'Y-Gun' on his back,
ready to launch two depth charges, or 'cans' as they were referred to, with a third 'can' ready to
roll off of his... umm... 'can'. You can't accuse the American military man of being humorless!

Project 914 Archives

This photo of the Submarine Chaser PC-551 was taken for LIFE by Bernard Hoffman while
she was navigating Government Cut at Miami, FL in February of 1943. PC-551 was typical
of most sub-chasers; small, cramped and uncomfortable, but highly effective at her job.
She was likely stationed at the SCTC for a shakedown cruise when the photo was taken.
This is one type of vessel that Romaine may have trained on in his time at the SCTC.

Bernard Hoffman photo - LIFE Photo Archives via Google Arts & Culture

There's that duck again!

From: 'The Submarine Chaser Training Center' by Charles W. Rice
View the PDF here.

Upon completion of his training at SCTC, Romaine was assigned to the USS Fechteler
(DE-157) for temporary duty. The Fechteler had been participating in antisubmarine
exercises off of Quonset Point, RI, and Romaine presumably flew to NAS Quonset Point,
reporting for duty on February 27th, 1944. The ship departed for Ireland the following day.
Here's a page from USS Fechteler's muster rolls documenting Ensign Blandy's arrival.

National Archives and Records Administration via Fold3

No side-view photos of the USS Fechteler are known to exist as of this writing. But
she was a Buckley-Class destroyer escort, so what better way to give you an idea as to
her profile than a photo of the pilot ship of her class? This is the USS Buckley (DE-51),
photographed on June 10th, 1944. Fechteler would have differed only in minor details.

National Archives and Records Administration via Naval History and Heritage Command

Not only are there no known profile photos of the Fechteler, there are very few
photos, period. Here are two of just three I have come across so far.

This photo was taken during Fechteler's commissioning ceremony at Norfolk, VA on July 1st, 1943.

Naval History and Heritage Command

Fechteler is seen here in the center, moored at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on March 31st, 1944.
The following day she would sail to Norfolk to embark upon what would be her last voyage.

And the last for Ensign Romaine Omar Blandy, as well.

National Archives and Records Administration via Naval History and Heritage Command

A detailed account of convoy UGS 38/GUS 38 is in the works
and will be added to this page in the future.

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