Dear Mr. Loomis,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located located World War II War Diaries, Other Operational Records and Histories, ca. 1/1/1942 - ca. 6/1/1946 in the Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38) that includes the reports COMTASK-UNIT 4.1.3 - Report of loss of USS REUBEN JAMES, 10/31/41 and COMTASK-UNIT 4.1.3 - Report of Escort Operations (HX156). Both have been digitized and can be viewed online through the Catalog. These reports were made by the Commander of Task Unit 4.1.3, which was the US Navy unit which included the USS Reuben James (DD-245) and was tasked with escorting Convoy HX 156.
We also located the record series World War II Command Files in the Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Record Group 38) that includes the file units Individual Ships, Reuben James [Miscellaneous]; Individual Ships, Reuben James Record of Board of Investigation; and Individual Ships, Reuben James Casualties/Loss 31 October 1941. These file units contain information about the loss of the USS Reuben James (DD-245) and the investigation thereof.
In addition, we searched the Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941 - 1983 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) but were unable to locate a deck log for the USS Reuben James for the month of October 1941 when it was sunk. This is normal, as deck logs and other ship records typically go down with the ship, with rare exceptions. This series does include logs of the other American warships escorting Convoy HX 156, namely the USS Niblack (DD-424), the USS Tarbell (DD-142), the USS Benson (DD-421), and the USS Hilary P. Jones (DD-427).
Plus, we located Secret General Administrative Files, Diaries, and Dispatches, 1941 - 1944; Confidential and Restricted General Administrative Files, 1941 - 1945; Secret and Top Secret General Administrative Files, 1941 - 1949; Red 7, Confidential and Restricted Flag Files, 1941 - 1943, and Special Files, 1942 - 1944 in the Records of Naval Operating Forces (Record Group 313) that may contain records relating to destroyers and anti-submarine operations of the Atlantic Fleet during 1941.
Also, we located Copies of Records of the German Navy and War Journals of German Commander in Chief of Submarines in the National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized (Record Group 242) which may contain German records of the attack.
Copies of records listed above that are not available in digital form online may be requested by contacting the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a reproduction fee for this service.
Alternatively, the staff of the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) will be pleased to make finding aids for these records available to you or your representative in the Textual Research Room located 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, near the University of Maryland--College Park campus. The Textual Research Room (Room 2000) hours are 8:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for legal holidays. The RDT2 consultation room hours are 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for legal holidays. No appointment is necessary. Prior to your visit, please consult College Park websites at https://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/, https://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/self-service-copying.html, and https://www.archives.gov/research/start/getting-started.pdf.
The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) has an online article about the Reuben James I (DD-245) in their Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships and in the NHHC Collection of the Navy Department Library (NDL) is a listing for German Navy U-Boat (Submarine) Headquarters War Logs From World War II that may contain German documents regarding the sinking. The NHHC and the NDL may have additional resources on this topic.
Please contact The National Archives of the United Kingdom for access to British records concerning the convoy and the roles that the Royal Navy played in escorting it.
You may also be interested in U-Boat Attack Logs: A Complete Record of Warship Sinkings from Original Sources 1939-1945 by Bruce Taylor and Daniel Morgan, which included a chapter on the sinking of the USS Reuben James as well as information about captured German U-Boat records in British custody.
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!
[information provided in part by Nate Patch, Subject Matter Expert]
Dear Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Patch,
Thank you so much for your amazingly detailed and quick response. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and effort. Thanks again.