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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Living to Tell the Story: Philip K. Lundeberg's Oral History

U.S.S. Frederick C. Davis sinking in the North Atlantic Ocean, 24 April 1945.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 08-003, Negative number SIA2007-0164
 This is the last image of the destroyer escort, the U.S.S. Frederick C. Davis, taking on April 24, 1945, at the end of the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II. Curator Emeritus Philip K. Lundeberg of the National Museum of American History, was aboard that ship as it sank into the cold Atlantic. His oral history interview, located in the Smithsonian Institution Archives, tells the story of the torpedo attack, how he survived it, and his subsequent research on that pivotal event in his life. While we often say that one picture is worth a thousand words, it takes words to explain this picture, especially Dr. Lundeberg’s relationship to it, how he survived the sinking and its impact on his life.

The Smithsonian Institution Archives, as well as other units across the Institution, preserve and build oral history collections to enhance the written documentation of the archival record and manuscript collections. To explore more of these collections visit the Collections Search Center.

Pamela Henson, Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives


  1. Thanks for telling this story.
    My grandfather, William Glass MoMM2C, was onboard but did not survive that day. I regret that I have never met him but truly proud of the sacrifice made by him and the rest of the crew of the USS F.C Davis.
    I have talked with Mr Lundeberg on a couple of occasions. What a hero and gentleman. I am hoping to meet him soon.
    Feel free to contact me to share about this ship and its crew.
    Never forget!
    Marc Tepe

  2. Dr. Lundeberg was one of the three officers out of fourteen who survived the sinking of the Frederick C. Davis. He pointed out, ironically, that the three who survived were all bachelors, but the eleven officers who died were married with families. In all, 115 seaman were lost with the ship.

  3. I am having a hard time confirming the 115 that died from the sinking. Would you have any ideas on how to confirm the list? All of the data I have shows 113 so, I am thinking that 2 others died later in the hospital and didn't recover.