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Torpedo Squadron Four - A Cockpit View of World War II - Revised, Updated Edition, 2011

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Air Group 4 - Casablanca to Tokyo

Dedicated to those who
served in VT-4, VB-4, VF-4,
VMF-124 and VMF-213

Captain Gordon Rowe of the USS Ranger
Interviewed by Quentin Reynolds, CBS Foreign
Correspondent, February 15, 1944


On Tuesday, February 15, 1944, after the USS Ranger returned to the East Coast, Quentin Reynolds of the Columbia Broadcasting System, in a "Report to the Nation," interviewed Captain Gordon Rowe, Commander of the Ranger about the OPERATION LEADER strikes on German shipping along the Norwegian coast. Captain Rowe also comments on the German report of the sinking of the Ranger by a German U-boat commanded by Otto Von Bulow.

Post-war research has provided information on how Von Bulow made the false report on the Ranger. See "Von Bulow Decorated for Sinking USS Ranger."

For more information on OPERATION LEADER, see:

"Operation Leader: Initiation Over Norway" in Torpedo Squadron Four: A Cockpit View of World War II

"Operation Leader: The German View"

"Norway: A Grateful Nation Remembers"

"USS Ranger Veterans Return to Norway"

COLUMBIA BROADCASTING SYSTEM
REPORT TO THE NATION
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1944

9:30 - 10:00 PM

CUE: (COLUMBIA BROADCASTING SYSTEM, 30 SECONDS)

THEME: FADE

CLARK:
Report to the Nation... from CBS World News... presented by 148 electric light and power companies.... Tonight you'll hear Captain Gordon Rowe, skipper of the USS Ranger... the popular singer, Bea Wain... Commander Gene Tunney... Joe E. Brown, back from a tour of the war areas... and our reporter Quentin Reynolds with a review of history-making men and events... brought to you by 148 business-managed electric light and power companies... in Report to the Nation.

MUSIC: UP & OUT

CLARK:
Now here is our reporter for CBS World News and Report to the Nation... the noted foreign correspondent. Quentin Reynolds.

REYNOLDS:
The story Report to the Nation tells you first tonight is a good, healthy footnote to something that happened Easter Sunday of last year. It was April 25th of 1943 that the German radio popped off with more than its usual fervor.

VOICE: (FILTER)
Achtung! Achtung! We are proud to announce that a German submarine has sunk the United States Aircraft Carrier Ranger in the North Atlantic. And now for more news about our continued successful withdrawals from Russia.

SOUND: SWITCH CUT-OFF OF RADIO

AMERICAN SAILOR:
Well, whaddaya know? We been sunk. Maybe we'd better go and tell the old man.

2ND SAILOR:
Not me. I don't want to be within vocabulary range of Captain Rowe when he hears about this. He's gonna be plenty sore.

REYNOLDS:
And Captain Gordon Rowe of the carrier Ranger was plenty sore. At first the crew laughed off this phony story put out by the Germans. But then they began to realize that the story probably had been picked up by the British and American radio and press services and that their families would worry. The next day the Navy Department announced that the Ranger was still afloat, but a lot of  Americans who had sons on the Ranger and other carriers were afraid there might have been some kind of attack on some carrier somewhere.

But Lieutenant Otto von Buelow, the German sub commander, apparently had made up the story out of ersatz-cloth and his face, now red, was straight when Hitler presented him with the Iron Cross with diamonds.

Captain Rowe kept planning and pleading for revenge and last October when the Ranger was part of a British Home Fleet off Bodo in Northern Norway, he got his chance.

BRITISH OFFICER:
All right, Captain, you try it a dawn tomorrow. But I'm afraid you'll find only one or two targets.

ROWE:
Well, Admiral, even if we find only one it will be worth our while.

MUSIC: SKY ANCHORS - IN AND BEHIND

REYNOLDS:
Fighters, torpedo planes, and bombers took off in two sections just before the sun came up on the morning of October 5th and scoured the "leads" (pronounced Leeds) along the coast. "Leads" are channels, much like what we call inland waterways. And there was no shortage of targets.

The Ranger's planes found an airfield they didn't expect and found tankers and merchantman just sitting there and asking for it. They got it.

SOUND: PLANE ROAR IN

PILOT:
Charley, there's a fat baby to starboard. Go on in and strafe and we'll follow you in.

VOICE: (FILTER)
Right, Joe. Haven't spotted her yet. Oke. There she is. See her, Taylor?

2ND VOICE: (FILTER)
Yep, Charlie, I'm right on your tail. Let's go.

PILOT:
Okay, Ayday, we're going in. Let this guy have two of 'em.

SOUND: UP - FIRST PLENTY OF MACHINE GUN FIRE OFF MIKE - MOTOR ROAR INCREASES

PILOT:
Okay, drop 'em.

BOMBER:
Bombs away.

SOUND: SPACED A COUPLE OF SECONDS APART, BOMBS SOUND OFF MIKE - PLANE NOISE CHANGES AS SHIPS CLIMB

PILOT:
How'd we do, Ayday?

AYDAY: (ON INTER COM)
Direct hits. They're beaching her and she's starting to smoke. Where do we go from here?

MUSIC: TRIUMPHANT, THEN KEEP BEHIND

REYNOLDS:
That ship was the 8900-ton freighter La Plata, outward bound with iron ore from Narvik. All in all, the Ranger's planes accounted for at least 40,000 tons of shipping that day. There weren't any enemy planes to get in the way, but there was real ack-ack. Three of our planes were downed and some of them go back to the carrier looking like cloth. One plane, whose landing gear had been shot away, came in on its belly. (MUSIC OUT) And then came the best part of any operation - the jawing that goes on in the wardroom afterward:

BIZ: CROWD NOISE - COFFEE CUPS

PILOT:
Ja hear about Hutch? Well he scores two near misses, see? …So he's out of bombs. Only thing he's got is this 30-calibre popgun. But he circles around and comes back and sprays the ship until he's completely out of ammo. And all the time the ack-ack is pumping away at him.

BIZ: CROWD NOISE UP, THEN OVERRIDDEN BY ANOTHER

PILOT:
Yeah, some of those Heinie gun crews take a lot of licking. We put three bombs square on a ship called the Topeka-you know, like in Kansas. She exploded and caught fire and started to sink. Well, sir, there was an ack-ack gunner aft who paid no attention. He just stood there by his gun, adjusting sights and firing until the ship sank.

MUSIC: GERMAN NAVAL (?)

REYNOLDS:
And that was the way it was. They'd been giving the enemy hell. Now, in individual cases, they were willing to give him credit. It was a proud bunch of boys there on that carrier. Most of them had had combat experience for the first time and 40,000 tons of enemy shipping in the drink wasn't bad for a carrier that the enemy had claimed was sunk five months before. And now Report to the Nation brings you in person Captain Gordon Row, the skipper of the Ranger.

CAPTAIN ROWE:
We on the Ranger have put in a strenuous year. The North Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans have been ours as part of a Task Force of the Atlantic and the British Home Fleet. As Mr. Reynolds has told you, we've been a pretty lively ghost. The story that we were sunk was a coward's trick-spreading anxiety and fear among the innocent. We knew we were all right, but there were a lot of our relatives and our friends who didn't know it. That's why at Bodo we were so eager to make the enemy pay heavily for his lie.

Well, we hit 'em hard and got out with few losses. We spread panic and chaos in the Norwegian shipping lanes. Only one thing we regret. We kept looking for the Tirpitz, but either she wouldn't or couldn't come out. We may have a chance later to dig her out, but meanwhile, the Ranger, still very much afloat, is doing here job. And I'm grateful for the chance to say a word on behalf of the officers and men of the Ranger and the Ranger Air Group.

Captain Rowe Reads Citation, USS Ranger

Captain Gordon Rowe, Commander of the USS Ranger, reads citation honoring Cdr Otto Klinsmann, VB-4 and other pilots for their participation in strikes on German shipping. At the far left are Lt Cdr Keene G. Hammond, VF-4 and Lt Cdr Homer H. Hutcheson, VT-4.


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