ResearchSpecifically Regarding the USS Thomas Stone - North Africa 1942-43
AP-59, USS Thomas Stone was only one transport among hundreds that paved the way in the first American convoy during the invasion of North Africa November 1942. The ship and crew, (although not destined to partake in other invasions), was pounded mercilessly for a short time while it was basically a helpless hulk beached from a severe storm just off Algiers. Unbelievable bad luck seemed to follow her from the time she was torpedoed just before daybreak November 7th 1942. Towed with great difficulty during rough stormy waters, and after deploying 24 tiny landing craft, (left to their own nightmare of survival), the ship was eventually scrapped, and sold to the French Govt. The story of the Stone presented a special interest to the filmmaker and son of Seaman Anthony Fraticelli. It created a mystery that lasted for many years. Historical accounts never fully answered exactly how the ship was torpedoed. U Boat internet sites vaguely point to U-205 for taking credit. "Axis Submarine Successes 1939-1945," Jürgen Rohwer 1983, (the English version), leaves room for doubt with an incomplete entry about the Stone and U-205. Interesting observations from discussion forums and research with respect to this documentary, point to a more logical culprit. Despite years gone by, there were numerous eye witnesses who still remembered a twin engine aircraft that glided overhead. In collaboration with detailed research from historian Francesco Mattesini, along with interviews and archival documents, the documentary will be revealing. The research covers a wide scope of material from varied sources. The National Archives was a frequent repository which included documents, photographs, and audio/visual media. In many cases the veterans themselves provided unique personal photo collections, diaries, and other memorabilia enhancing the story. Comprehensive research was necessary regarding individual stories in order to validate recollections. Understandably, these memories could become murky after so many years. Painstaking efforts were made to tie stories together from veterans of different branches of service. Obscure archival footage was used as a backdrop for some of the stories while re-creations were also implemented adding excitement based on actual testimony.
The Thomas Stone being salvaged off Algiers North Africa 1944
Photographs - NARA
The USS Leonard Wood North Africa 1942-43
A significant event, (a connection to this project), was the USS Leonard Wood Reunion and Amphibious Fleet Monument Dedication April 23rd 1999. The Wood was among a group of USCG transports. Seaman Fraticelli was assigned to the Leonard Wood a short time before reassigning to the Thomas Stone for the North African Invasion in 1942.
Another interesting Coast Guard Sidestory, was that of Douglas Munro, the only Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor, the Nation's highest military award. Munro received the decoration posthumously for his actions as officer-in-charge of a group of landing craft on September 27, 1942, during the September Matanikau action in the Guadalcanal campaign. Many of the Coast Guard veterans at the 1999 reunion talked about the Leonard Wood in North Africa 1942-43. Some of the veterans remembered my father at the 1988 reunion, (11 years earlier). Although I didn't realize it at the time, meeting these veterans was a connection to the story about North Africa. The USS Leonard Wood served an integral part of the invasion of North Africa November 8th 1942. As evening advanced, the scarcity of landing boats became acute, some boats having been damaged on the rocks during the darkness and some being stranded. Disembarking continued on November 9th. Supporting Naval fire helped silence the French shore batteries until final capitulation at Cape Fedala. Leonard Wood remained in the first line of transports, carrying out her mission until 12 November when enemy submarines, which had already sunk or damaged six Allied ships, forced the remaining transports to finish unloading at Casablanca. Departing 17 November, she arrived in Norfolk on the 30th for repairs and more amphibious warfare training. Some of the veterans I met recalled these stories.
Looking back at the 1999 USS Leonard Wood reunion footage there were interesting segments and lighthearted moments. USCG Veteran Bill Dowers told me about my father's duties when he was assigned as 'Carpenter's Mate' on the Thomas Stone. You can also hear CG veteran Bob Kolscher's harrowing account of his first combat experience on the LCV's in North Africa. And then there was CG Veteran Warren E. Nalls Sr. in his original full dress uniform. Amazing! The entire video, (too lengthy for download), is just over an hour. The uploads (below), from the 1999 reunion are divided into 3 excerpts approx. 5-7 MB's each. There's also a short collection of clips from the 1988 Leonard Wood reunion held at Pokagon State Park, Angola Indiana which can be viewed here. Anthony Fraticelli can be seen at the very end of that clip in the lower right corner as the group sings the 'Marine Hymn'.
Click on the Image Links Below to View Clips 1 Thru 3
USS Leonard Wood APA-12
L to R: Warren Nalls, Kathleen Sass & father Richard Hendrickson, Mike Fraticelli
Carmen Geanto & Wife, Mike Fraticelli
Photograph Restoration (sample) for the Documentary
One of hundreds of photographic restorations - Before restoration.
This photo was one of many provided by veteran Larry Faulkner. Easy Company 9h Division taken at
Fort Bragg 1941 before they shipped out for North Africa.
This independent documentary is not intended to be a comprehensive account of the war in North Africa 1942-43. The completed film will feature rare interviews from veterans connected to the story. The search to locate veterans within this time frame was very difficult. With no funding and a small film crew who sporadically assisted with re-creations, the bulk of production falls upon one individual. Contributions of any kind are welcomed. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqueline Borock, Esq. email@example.com
Photos, illustrations, art work or interviews may not be reproduced, copied, stored, manipulated or redistributed without the expressed permission of the author.
Michael Fraticelli - North Africa 1942-43 Survivors' Stories © 2015