Four men of the Engineer Amphibian Command lost their lives in the boiling and racing currents in back of Skiff's Island, off the South Shore of the Vineyard, before daylight on Wednesday morning. The bodies of three have not been recovered. The tragic accident occurred when a staff boat of the familiar cabin cruiser type, accompanying a number of so-called invasion craft which had been dispatched from the Cape on a maneuver problem, struck a shoal in the heavy seas near Skiff's Island. The accident took place at approximately 2 a.m.

The engine of the staff boat was disabled, and she was rendered helpless in the dangerous welter of shoal water, breakers and running tide. Albert F. Klemme, 20 years old, of Gerald Mo., remained below deck in a heroic effort to start the engine, and his heroism left him no possible chance of escape when the boat was smashed in heavy seas, the pilot house demolished, and the craft partly overturned and swamped.

Klemme's body was recovered with the boat. Six men were picked up by an accompanying craft, despite the darkness and the heavy sea. The missing men are listed by Camp Edwards authorities as follows: Second Lieut. Walter D. Ahlquist, Garfield, Utah, 26 years old; Second Lieut. Alpheus B. Clark, Cherry Tree, Pa., 24; Sgt.-T. Edward I. Kramer, Weehawken, N.J., 20.


Search Was Day Long


Following all possible attempts at rescue, the maneuver fleet headed for Edgartown with the survivors. A day-long search was begun immediately, with every available means in use. Coast Guard boats were dispatched to the scene, including the Coast Guard reserve from Edgartown, Army planes came from Otis Field and reconnaisance planes of the Engineer Amphibian Command, with a blimp also joining in the search. All day and into the evening, until darkness made further effective work impossible, the search was carried on without success.

The boat which rescues the six survivors was commanded by Second Lieut. Albert Strickland of Akron, Ohio. The staff boat itself was commanded by Lieutenant Ahiquist, one of those whose bodies have not been recovered. This craft was towed into Edgartown by the Coast Guard, with Klemme's body still in it, where he had been trapped in his valiant attempt to save the lives of his comrades.

The spot at which the tragedy occurred is known as one of the worst in the waters around the Vineyard, dangerous and treacherous under the best of conditions. Vineyard fishermen do not use this passage at night except under the most favorable of conditions, preferring whenever possible to come in around the Island at Gay Head. In the ocean race around Martha's Vineyard, skilled yachtsmen familiar with the waters for many years, have had trouble at the same place and have required the assistance of the Coats Guard. Conditions Wednesday night were extremely bad, the seas running high among the shoals.

The men on the remaining maneuver craft were lacking in their usual good spirits as they waited at Edgartown yesterday for their next orders.

“It wouldn't be so bad if it was battle business,” one of them remarked.