Friday, October 18, 2013

USS Reuben James (DD-249) Painting

This is a water color of the Clemson-class destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-249) passing Fort Wool and out into the Chesapeake Bay and the open ocean. Prolific local maritime artist Casey Holtzinger painted this work and the museum acquired it in 1995. It currently hangs in the museum's Battle of the Atlantic gallery. The museum has several of Mr. Holtzinger's work, who specialized in painting Hampton Roads' civilian and military maritime legacy. Reuben James is most well known for being the first American warship sunk in action in World War II (weeks before the air raid on Pearl Harbor).

On October 31, 1941, Reuben James was part of the escort group guarding convoy HX-156. On the edge of area where British escorts were to meet to convoy and take it to England, U-552 spotted the ships. Her captain fired two torpedoes. Both weapons hit and cracked the destroyer in half. Of her 159 members of the ship's company, only forty-four survived. More about the incident and its effects of U.S.-German relations can be read here and here.

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