FIREMAN FIRST CLASS LOUIS JOSEPH CONTRAVO, the son of Thomas and Serena Contravo, of 6508 Roosevelt Avenue, Pennsauken NJ, was killed in action on May 5, 1944 when the destroyer escort USS Fechteler DE-157 was sunk by a German submarine in the Mediterranean.
Contravo grew up in the Cramer Hill section of Camden NJ. In 1930 his
family was renting a home at 2727 Tyler Avenue. At the time of the 1930
census, he was 6 years old. His father was working as an investigator
for a finance company.
Between September 8, 1943 and December 31, the FECHTELER made two voyages on the key convoy route New York-Netherlands West Indies-North Africa, escorting vulnerable tankers carrying fuel and other oil products essential to modern warfare. After overhaul at New York City, she took part in experimental antisubmarine exercises in Narragansett Bay, from which she sailed February 28, 1944 for the Azores and Londonderry, North Ireland. Arriving March 6, 1944, she joined the escort of a New York-bound convoy, reaching the United States March 22.
On April 1, 1944, the FECHTELER sailed from New York for Hampton Roads, where she joined a convoy for Bizerte, arriving April 22 after coming under heavy enemy air attack 2 days previous. Homeward bound, on May 5, 1944, FECHTELER was struck by a homing torpedo from the German submarine U-967 in the Western Mediterranean off Oran, Algeria. As the ship began to break in two, and sink, it was abandoned. Twenty-nine were killed, including Louis Contravo, and twenty-six wounded. USS LANING (DE-159) and other ships of the convoy rescued 186 survivors.
When the FECHTELER was torpedoed, Louis Contravo's brother Eugene was also serving in the Navy.
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