Friends of the Andrea Doria Newsletter

Vol. 1 Issue 11 Thursday, February 16, 2003

Hello friends,

With sadness I report to you that Harry Rea passed away on January 26th. Harry was the 2nd Radio Operator on the Pvt. William H. Thomas and was on duty when the Andrea Doria's distress call was sent. Harry was one of the radio operators that heard the distress call that night. A few years ago Harry sent me copies of news clippings he had and those clippings have been a great help in the design of the web site. Harry's recollections of the events may be found in the recollections section of the web site. 
In the terminology of the past generation of wireless operators Harry is now a silent key. My condolences to his family.

We are discussing the 2003 reunion but nothing has been set, however there may be one in Italy! Please read the survivor section for a possible reunion and contact Leonardo Faccenda who is the son of Pia Tartarini, a crewmember of the Andrea Doria.

I'd like to thank those who have helped support the web site by visiting the online store. Your purchases have helped me keep the site going. I have paid for another year of hosting for $377.58 for the year. Thanks again!


SS Andrea Doria: A Journey of Adventure. Available from the Discovery Channel item number 636852 $19.95

Dive to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean to unlock the mysteries of the Italian luxury liner once touted as unsinkable. The Andrea Doria was the exquisitely appointed flagship of Italy's post-war fleet. 

Then, on a summer night more than forty years after the sinking of the Titanic, the world was stunned as the impossible repeated itself. Unlike the Titanic however, the Andrea Doria sank due to human error, causing a whirlwind of rumors about sunken treasure and crew negligence. Was the treasure real? Why did she sink? The answers to these questions seemed forever-locked in mystery as the doomed liner settled in her watery grave.

The day after her sinking though, young adventurer Peter Gimbel became the first person to dive to the wreck and returned to the site often over the next two decades to probe for answers. Revisit Peter's final trip to the site in 1981 as he explored submerged passageways and attempted to salvage the liner's safes. See how his 25-year obsession with the Andrea Doria unlocked the riddles surrounding its sinking and solve once and for all the mystery surrounding this tragedy. 50 minutes.

Editor Note: I haven't seen this video but I wonder if it is a re-release of the Doria Project video that is no longer available. I let you know if I find out.

Shipwreck!: Fatal Collision. Available from the Discovery Channel item number 663963 $19.95. The tape is currently in stock and can be purchased fro $19.95 plus S/H. 
This program has aired a good number of times on the Discovery Channel. Excellent program and highly recommended.


Silvio Zaina writes that he was touched when he read his father's, Mario Zaina, name on the Andrea Doria crew list. I look forward to hearing more about his father.

Robert Merritt, grandson of Dr. Thure Peterson, has contacted me to let me know his grand-father passed away in 1970. Dr. Peterson's wife died in his arms in Cabin 56 after he and Giovanni Rovelli made a valiant effort to free her from the wreckage. They were unable to remove her from the wreckage and the Andrea Doria is her final resting place. There was an extensive article about Cabin 56 in Colliers magazine which I will incorporate into the web site.

Debbie Ambrose, granddaughter of survivor Cosimo Damiano Ambrose, contacted me to let me know she has clippings from the Oakland CA newspaper about her grand-father. I am awaiting copies so I can add the information to the web site.

Barbara McCranie is the daughter of Robert Hudson, who was the last passenger rescued from the Andrea Doria and the only survivor rescued by the tanker Robert Hopkins. Barbara informed me that her father passed away in 2000 and that her older sister was named Andrea after the ship.

Franco Ricci, a retired merchant navy captain, is a member of a small, not-for-profit, group called "Associazione di Mutuo Soccorso fra la Gente di Mare - Seafarers Relief Association" which was founded in 1911 to help distressed seamen and their families. Today, in the age of welfare, pensions and government medical assistance, the association exists as a maritime cultural entity.

Franco was
requested by the association to make a presentation on the collision between the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm. He has made the presentation on the Doria/Stockolm collision at the auditorium of the Ospitalia del Mare, in Levanto. Levanto is a small town in Liguria, about 50 km south of Genoa. The presentation lasted two hours and was mostly centered on the interpretation (or misinterpretation) and application of the rules "of the road" in force in 1956 (1948 COLREGS). Little time was given to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS 1948). Levanto and nearby towns used to be major providers of seamen to SocietÓ Italia di Navigazione: no more. Very few people go to sea today. A few men from the area were on the Doria, but as far as he was able to ascertain, all of them are dead. People in the audience told him that the last one died last year. Captain Franchini (the 2nd officer of the Doria) died in December 2002.

Pia Tartarini was 21 years old when she was a babysitter in First Class on the Andrea Doria and her son, Leonardo, writes to tell us that his mother lives with him in Italy. She was emotionally moved when she saw her name and the names of her friends and colleagues that were on the ship. Leonardo dreams in having a reunion of passengers and crew in Italy. Maybe it will happen! 
If you are interested in a reunion in Italy or are in contact with crewmembers and survivors in Italy please contact Leonardo at the following email address:

Giovanna Palumbo Zamparo writes from Italy as well. Giovanna was a Cabin Class passenger. She sends her regards from Italy.

From the Mail Bag:

Hello Anthony,  
I am a grandson of Alfred and Evelyn Corda (Cabin Class) and a distant cousin of Guiseppe Corda. All are deceased. I will, however, scan to you black and white photos taken by the San Francisco Examiner at the time of their arrival in San Francisco after the accident. Perhaps you would be kind enough to add their pictures to the web site. In an attempt to "keep the memory alive" I will be doing a presentation regarding the Andrea Doria and my Grandparents to The Novato Historical Guild in late March, in Novato, California, the home town of my Grandparents.
I am putting together a presentation that will include documentary videos, power point photos, newspaper and magazine article and pictures, as well as shared stories by surviving relatives. I certainly will mention the web site as well. There will be 250-300 members in attendance.
In that I am in the food service business I have the opportunity to meet and work with many restaurateurs and chefs. I had the occasion to meet a chef who was actually on duty the night of the tragedy on the Ile de France. In that, that was the ship that rescued my grandparents, I subsequently had the opportunity to introduce him to my Grandmother, Evelyn, one evening in 1989. After a very pleasant dinner and visit, he presented her with an autographed menu from the Isle de France. Also in my travels I met a proprietor of a photo shop who told me that as a youth on the East Coast, he and his friends spent many hours playing on a life boat washed to shore from the Andrea Doria. Last August while attending a funeral in Portland, Oregon, I met Marylin Graf who was 5 years old at the time of the accident traveling with her mother, Lisa. She was quite surprised to hear that her picture was on the web site, as she said that she nor her mother had anything to do with it. She also said that she had seen herself on a documentary on the Discovery Channel. The picture appears to have come from the documentary file footage. She was quite pleased over the whole thing. Both her and her mother are alive and well in Portland, Oregon. I am certain that others have many equally interesting stories. I thank you for your tireless efforts in providing us a medium with which to keep in touch.
Sincerely, Gary J. Corda

Kyle Dartmoth wrote asking me if I knew who Private William H. Thomas was since one of the rescue ships was named after him. I did a little digging and found the following information which I would like to share with you.

 William H. Thomas
38665831  Private First Class
38th Infantry Division, 149th Infantry, 
United States Army
Medal of Honor

William H. Thomas was born between 13 January 1923 to John and Leva Thomas of Fair Oaks, Arkansas. He was one of nine children and grew up in the Wynne-Fair Oaks area. Received his early education in local schools and later farmed with his father in this community. Pfc. Thomas joined the Army on 22 April 1944 at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. The year before he has been rejected for valvular heart disease. He was trained as an Automatic Rifleman.
He died 22 Apri1 1945 on Zambales Mountain on Luzon in a fierce battle with the Japanese and was buried in the American Battle Monuments Cemetery, Philippine Islands, Manila. He was 22 years old. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal and citation were handed to his parents.
From an article printed in the 9 August 1945 issue of the Wynne Progress we have the details of his bravery and death:
The official citation reads: "Private First Class William H. Thomas, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, above and beyond the call of duty, in action with the enemy in the Zanbales Mountains, Luzon, Philippine Islands on Apri122, 1945. Pvt. Thomas was a member of the leading squad of Company B, 149 Infantry, which was attacking along a narrow wooded ridge. The enemy was strongly entrenched in camouflaged emplacements on the hill beyond. The enemy directed heavy fire on the attacking riflemen and hurled explosive charges from their positions on the hill. Pvt. Thomas, an automatic riflemen, was mortally wounded by one of these charges, which blew off both his legs below the knees. He refused medical aid and evacuation and continued to fire at the enemy until his weapon was put out of action by an enemy bullet. Still refusing aid, he threw his last two grenades. Pvt. Thomas destroyed three of the enemy after he had received his fatal wounds. His effective fire on the enemy prevented the repulse of the platoon and assured the capture of the position. His courage and heroic devotion to duty provide a lasting inspiration for his comrades."
In this same article, his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Frank C. Jackson, his platoon sergeant, Tech. Sgt. Wesley G. Brandt and the medic who helped him, Tech. 4th Herman Foreman filled in more details. Pvt. Thomas was one of the advance squad making their way up through rough and heavily wooded terrain where observation was difficult. Heavy enemy fire failed to halt the platoon's advance, and the leading Doughboys had almost reached the top of the ridge when the frantic enemy began hurling satchel charges down on the attacking riflemen. One of the satchel charges landed between Pvt. Thomas' legs as he lay sprawled flat firing his BAR into the enemy position. The terrific blast tore off both his legs below the knees. In almost the same second that he screamed, he realized that maximum firepower from his position was essential to preventing a disastrous withdrawal of his comrades. Refusing medical aid and evacuation which was necessary to save his life, Pvt. Thomas continued to fire his weapon, killing at least three of the enemy after he lost his legs. Even after his automatic rifle was smashed by an enemy bullet disabling his BAR, he still refused medical aid and threw his two remaining grenades into the enemy positions. Only then did he allow the medic to assist him with morphine and tourniquets.  He died in a battalion aid station not far from the front lines, despite 11 plasma transfusions. 

Beside the Congressional Medal of Honor, an army transport ship, The Private William H. Thomas was commissioned in his honor at Pier 39, South Seattle Port Embarkation.  This ship was moored in the Hudson River Reserve Fleet until 1970.

That all for this issue. Until next time please keep visiting the web site.

Anthony Grillo

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