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Remembering Francis Robert d’Entremont
Name: Francis Robert d’Entremont Rank: Chief Gunners Mate Service USS Saint Augustine PG-54 United States Navy Reserve Date of Birth: July 29, 1919 Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts, USA Date of Death: January 6, 1944 Memorial: unknown Francis Robert d’Entremont was the son of James Thomas d’Entremont (1872-1935) and Mary Martha (Maillet) D’Entremont (1877-1946). His father was born December 29, 1872 in West Pubnico, Yarmouth County, NS. His mother was born in Salmon River, Clare, Digby County, NS. The parents of Francis were married in Boston, Massachusetts on November 4, 1903. His mother was residing at 80 Kittredge St, Roslindale, Boston, Massachusetts at the time of his service. His father had died prior to the war in 1935. The USS Saint Augustine was assigned to the 1st Naval District and operated out of Boston as a patrol ship until 1942. It was transferred to the Eastern Sea Frontier where it escorted convoys between New York City and various Caribbean ports. On January 6, 1944, while leading a convoy from New York to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, USS Saint Augustine was accidentally rammed by Merchant Tanker Camas Meadows off the coast of Cape May, New Jersey. The USS Saint Augustine foundered within five minutes, and one hundred sixteen of the one hundred forty six crew members on board were killed. Forty-nine bodies were never recovered.
“To the Editor: Every year in early January, I think about my uncle Robert who died by drowning in the 38 degree waters off Cape May, New Jersey on the night of Jan. 6, 1944. Robert was baptized Francis Robert D'Entremont, but was nicknamed "Rocky." Rocky was a handsome, vivacious and fun-loving son of French Canadian (Nova Scotia) parents (my maternal grandparents). I was 8 years old that Christmas in 1943, when Uncle Robert (my mother's youngest brother) came home on leave to Roslindale. I was crushed when he sternly said that he did not get me a present because I didn't deserve one. On Christmas morning, he gave me a gift that was my favorite that year. I was beside myself with joy. He gave me a small-scale model train set which I loved! On one of those evenings when Rocky was home on leave, I woke up around midnight because there was some loud frolicking nearby. I opened the shade and looked out and Rocky was singing some crazy song "Jingle Balls! Jingle Balls!" Rocky and his shipmate Arthur "Buzzy" Bouzan were sledding down a nearby hill we called Murphy's Hill. It was right next to the house we called the "Haunty". Rocky was a chief petty officer on the gunboat USS Saint Augustine. The Saint Augustine was purchased in 1941 from Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heir, and converted into a gunboat by the US Navy. Gunboats were used to escort ships near the coast to protect them from German submarines. About 10 p.m. on the night of the disaster, Augustine was rammed amidships by Camas Meadows, a tanker which was not in convoy with them. All ships were running without lights to avoid detection by the enemy. Augustine sank in five minutes in 250 feet of water. Of the ships complement of 146 sailors, 30 survived, 67 bodies were recovered and 49 remain missing. Divers have since located the wreck, and have taken pictures. An architect from Florida, Mays Leroy Gray, has written two very detailed books about the ship and the disaster. "THE USS SAINT AUGUSTINE (PG-54) DISASTER" and the sequel "THE THREE LIVES OF THE USS SAINT AUGUSTINE (PG-54)" We were able to locate Arthur Bouzan who was able to supply photographs for the books. Mr. Gray also lost an uncle, Ausley Lee Scarborough, who was listed among the missing. Mr. Gray was also instrumental in the erection of a memorial to his uncle and all his shipmates. The family was accorded a military burial by the Navy, 56 years after his uncle was lost at sea. The memorial is in the New Hope Cemetery, Leon County, Florida”*
USS St. Augustine off the Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts, May 27, 1941