I penned this article a couple days ago: "The USS Indianapolis myth that will not go away" -
Just want to double-check to make sure my assertion no real-life shark attack-related death of an Indy crewmember matches the grim fate of the friend from Cleveland Quint talks about in Jaws.
I just read your post.... and the episode about the sailor found in a lifejacket, eaten in two, did actually happen. It is a true account.
Robert P. Gause, QM1, (quartermaster/navigator and survivor of the Indy), was the one who discovered the dead sailor while trying to wake him up one morning, thinking the sailor had dosed off. The sailor's face was slapping in the water as the waves bobbed him around. Gause was concerned the fellow might drown in his sleep, something that apparently happened on occasion. So, Gause swam over to wake him up. The grim discovery was as Quint described. In fact, Gause knew who the sailor was, but opted not to disclose his name, because he knew the sailor's parents and did not want to deepen their grief over the gruesome loss of their son. It was an episode among many the quarter master never got over. I can't vouch for Quint's "Cleveland" statement.....Gause was from Florida. The reference to Cleveland could have simply been a script filler, or the sailor could have been from there. Gause never said where the sailor was from.
I know of four publications where you can find Gause's account. (1) Shark! written by Thomas Helm in 1960 & (2) Ordeal by Sea: The Tragedy of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, also written by Helm, published in the 1963, by Dodd, Mead and Co. (a decade or more before Jaws). Gause speculates the movie writers borrowed his story from Helms' books, because it is identical to the story he shared with Helm during an interview for his books. However, the whole "USS Indianapolis" persona associated with Quint in Jaws was never in the original novel the movie was based on. It was added to enhance Quint's character for the movie, to give him a reason for loathing sharks. The tragedy of the USS Indianapolis was the perfect place to go to, and Helms' books were among the first to tell the Indy story. (3) In Harm's Way, by Doug Stanton tells the general account on page 167. Though for whatever reason Gause is not identified. And (4), the final publication is a Kindle ebook published in 2014, titled, UNSINKABLE, which details the full account of Robert P. Gause, QM1. I authored the ebook and knew Bob Gause personally, he was our own WWII hometown hero. A great man and Christian, with an amazing story. He shares the account of the half eaten sailor along with many other lesser know but equally interesting episodes that happened in the Pacific while adrift for five days. Bob spoke around the country for years about his experience off the Indy. The story of the half eaten sailor was always part of his presentation. I have recordings of several such talks. I also had the privilege to interview with him on a few occasions. Gause went home to be with the Lord in 2008. He was 87. You can purchase his story on Amazon.com.
I hope some of this has been helpful.
Jill Noblit MacGregor
-- Edited by jill on Friday 16th of January 2015 01:48:39 PM
-- Edited by jill on Friday 16th of January 2015 01:49:20 PM