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Merchant Marine Stories of the Sinking of the
USS Henry R. Mallory on February 7, 1943


Assembled here are collections of eyewitness stories of men who were on board the Mallory on her final trip across the Atlantic. These stories have been shared with me personally by the survivors or by the survivors and victims families. These stories are very valuable for us to read as they give the readers a feeling of how it really was during those dark and uncertain times of WWII when the balance of power was still teetering from one side to the other. There were some significant things about the Mallory sinking. It was one of the biggest convoy battles of the war, the loss of lives was one of the largest of any ship sinking, and it happened during what the German U-boat commanders called "The Happy Times", when they enjoyed many successes against Allied convoys. This also happened before the turning point which came in June of 1944, after the capture of the German U-boat U-505, along with her precious enigma coding machines. And so here is one of the untold and largely unknown but heroic stories of the battle of the Atlantic.

If you have a family member or know of someone who was on the USS Henry R. Mallory please e-mail me and I will add that mans story with his shipmates.

These stories of the survivors and victoms are divided into 4 sections. The Stories of the Marines, The Stories of the Navy, The Stories of the Army and the Stories of the Merchant Marines.


The Mallory's Merchant Marines


Ship's Cook George K. Dunningham & His Dog "Ricky" Survives Sinking

"...it looked like a weird dream to see those little red lights bobbing up and down"

Heather Macdonald Moe also shared with me this story about Dunningham and his dog "Ricky" and how Dunningham had paid a visit to her great grandparents to tell them how their son, Capt. Ernest W. S. Macdonald, Army Chaplain, sacrificed his life to help others. It was said that Capt. Macdonald I was told that he may have been saved, but he kept going down below deck to help others off the sinking ship. Heather shared with me these newspaper clippings about Macdonald and Dunningham she found in a scrapbook which belonged to her great grandmother. Heather thinks that these were probably printed in the Quincy Patriot Ledger (Massachusetts).

Below is the transcribed undated article about George K. Dunningham and his dog "Ricky". Ricky was later rescued by the USCGC Bibb. Commander Roy Raney of the Bibb, spotted "Ricky" clinging to some floating debris, as his men were pulling survivors on board. Raney shouted "Someone get that damn dog!"

Winthrop Man Tells Of Rescue After Torpedoing

Details of the rescue of 202 passengers and crew of a large American merchantmen torpedoed in the North Atlantic early in February were disclosed here yesterday for the first time by one of the survivors, George K. Dunningham of 35 Thorton Park, Winthrop, a cook aboard the ship.


George K. Dunningham,
Mallory Ship's Cook

SURVIVES SHIP SINKING

George K. Dunningham of Winthrop, a cook aboard an American merchantmen torpedoed recently, gives thrilling account of the disaster. The rescue, made by a Coast Guard combat cutter, is one of the largest number saved in any sea disaster in the present war. The cutter not only managed to effect the rescue, but took time to a depth charge lurking Nazi submarines in the vicinity were the disaster occurred.

Dunningham in relating the thrilling story of the night attack and destruction of the ship, said that the excitement started on the 13th day out, when the gun crew sighted two unidentified planes circling the large convoy. They flew around the convoy several times, and failed to answer the challenge for identification, but were too high to fire at. At once the ship lurched and staggered as the torpedo hit her without warning. When she came back to an even keel, the Order " abandon ship" was sounded and everyone filed to his station. Everything was surprisingly calm and orderly. Having been alerted twice, we expected it. I went to my boat station and helped lower away. That's where our boat drill training paid dividends, for everything went off like clockwork. Due to the smashing up of life boats and rafts on the other side of the ship, our boat was heavily overloaded.

Many In Water

It was black as pitch and men were yelling and blowing whistles, many were in the water, each with his red rescue light lit. These are now part of the regular equipment and it looked like a weird dream to see those little red lights bobbing up and down. Another lifeboat in along and took off 40 of the 90 men we carried. We threw out the sea anchor and used our oars to keep head into the sea. Only for life boats got free, but there were dozens of rafts crowded with men.

We shot up flares from the Very gun at regular intervals until daybreak. Just before dawn we picked up two men who were swimming. They were in tough shape, and later we saw two men on the raft, both badly injured. These made me forget about the cracked elbow I received when I fell on deck just before climbing down the cargo net into the lifeboat.

Day finally broke, gray and cold, the waves were running high and we were alone on a big ocean, with none of the other boats or rafts in sight. We felt awfully small and lost, then we saw ship on the horizon heading for us. We knew somehow she was friendly and that our troubles were over. We'd only been adrift five hours. In 10 minutes we saw the most beautiful ship in the world, better than the best painting you ever saw. It was the Coast Guard cutter, one of the 327-footers. The Captain put that cutter alongside us in that heavy sea just like a cabdriver parks his cab. But the waves were so high that I was able to step right on to the deck of the cutter when the waves lifted a lifeboat up.

Cling To Rafts

As soon as we got aboard they gave us dry clothing, food, hot coffee and cigarettes, and put us to bed. They were swell. Within half an hour the cutter picked up more survivors, and then as the search continued, the sound man got contacts with a sub. Patterns of depth charges were dropped, and then the cutter came back to the business of rescuing survivors. Once a bunch of rafts were found, crowded with men, and some in the water hanging on. Some were too weak to grasp the lines, and Coast guardsmen leaped overboard to tie the lines to them so they could be hauled in.

Dunningham said when the ship was torpedoed he had lost a little white mongrel dog, "Ricky" given to him by a soldier. He thought the dog had been lost, but later spotted him sitting on a raft after the last man had been rescued. The Coast guardsmen soon brought "Ricky" aboard. Dunningham presented the pup to the cutter as a mascot.

Shortly after words, Dunningham related, 33 officers and men from two United Nations ships torpedoed nearby, were picked up so that the cutter at 235 extra people on board.

It was necessary for the men to take turns sleeping in watches or shifts. The cutters crew gave up clothing, cigarettes, candy and bunks to the survivors. The doctor was on 24-hour duty in the sick bay, administering to the sick and injured, snatching a few hours' sleep now and then on deck. Again submarines were detected in the vicinity, and the cutter flayed the water charge after charge. It was believed that in at least two attacks, the subs were hit.

Dunningham a native of Nashua, New Hampshire, and now living with a sister in Winthrop, was making his first trip to sea, and he will ship right out again as soon as is injured elbow is well again. The loss of the ship on which Mr. Dunningham served was announced officially by the Navy Department on February 22nd, 1943.


Engine Cadet-Midshipman Robert E. Helling

Robert E. Helling was a Cadet Midshipman at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY.  He was on board the USS Henry R. Mallory at the time of the sinking as Third Assistant Engineer.  He survived the sinking and below is his report that he gave to the Navy upon arriving in Iceland after being rescued by the USCGC Bibb.

His son Bob Helling tells this of his father, "Although my father died in 1968, I remember him talking about that night many times." 

Bob recalls one of the stories his father told of that morning. "I remember him saying that he was in the engine room when the torpedo struck the ship. He said that he was in a T-shirt as the engine room was hot and when he got up on deck, it was like walking into a freezer. He said that while in the life boat, he was bent over bailing with a gear box as the seas were stormy and the boat was taking on water. One of the guys behind him threw up on his back and he said that was a wonderful feeling as it was so warm. These are the kind of stories that don't make the movies. He also talked about the mayhem on deck. Several boats were cut away with only a few men in them and others were way overloaded."

There were several Cadet Midshipmen on board the Mallory and three Cadets were lost during the sinking. They were Cadet Midshipmen, George Race, Richard Holland and Jay Hammershoy. Cadet Midshipman Robert E. Helling and Cadet Midshipman Frank Roberts, and Joseph F. Best, Jr. survived the sinking and were picked up by the Cutter Bibb.

Cadet Midshipman Robert E. Helling survived the sinking of the Mallory and served on other ships but the Mallory was his first and only sinking during the war. He made it through the rest of the war OK and made full Lieutenant, US Navy.  After the war, he taught Marine Engineering at the Naval School in Kansas City, MO. for several years.

This is Cadet Midshipman Robert E. Helling's report he gave to the Navy in Iceland:

Assigned to vessel SS Henry R. Mallory November 5, 1942 and it left New York January 24, 1943 in a convoy consisting of 80 ships.  The ship position was number 33 in a seven knot convoy. Weather was moderately fine first week, after that generally bad. We had aboard 430 troops and passengers composed of Army, Navy and Marines and cargo consisted of mainly Army equipment such as tanks, guns, trucks, clothing and 200 tons of ammunitions and shells.

The ship was struck February 7, 1943 at 03:58, zone time plus four.  We were hit without warning and the torpedo struck in number four hold, which served as a troop compartment.  The ship was split wide open and began to sink. 

When the ship was hit, I was on watch in the engine room.  I was talking to the other engine cadet, George Race, who had just come down to the engine room a few minutes before his watch took over.  He left the engine room immediately after the explosion. That is the last I saw of him.

The aft engine room bulkhead had carried away due to the explosion.  The machinery in the engine room was badly damaged.  The main propulsion engine slowed up but did not stop.  Many steam pipes were broken.  All the auxiliary machinery was stopped except for the generator, which continued to function perfectly.  Most of the floor plates were blown from the deck and the forward engine room bulkhead door was blown out.

I was pitched across the room and against the forward engine room bulkhead.  Upon getting to my feet, I saw the second assistant engineer closing the throttle on the main engine.  After the entire engine room crew had left, the second engineer and myself started for topside. All the engine room crew got out without injury except for one man who was cut across the face.

Upon reaching the boat deck, I went to my boat station.  We lowered number 4 boat but someone cut the boat away from the ship only partially filled with passengers.  Now that my boat was gone, I didn't know exactly what to do, so I assisted in the lowering of number 6 boat and operated the after falls of number 8 boat next

I stood on the boat deck and watched the troops swarming down the nets into the boat.  I noticed that there were only two of the ship's personnel in the boat with all the passengers.  I thought it would be best for me to get into the boat and help as the soldiers had very little experience in handling the lifeboats.  It was lucky for me that I did this as I found out later that it was the last boat to leave the ship.

The boat I got into had a capacity of fifty persons, but there were over eighty persons in it.  The gunnels were only about one foot above the water.  This overloaded condition together with heavy seas which were breaking into the boat caused her to fill up despite the continuous bailing which we did using hats, cupped hands, buckets and gear boxes, plus everything we could get our hands on.  The temperature of the water only being about 28 degrees resulted in much suffering, not only to us in the boats, but to the many men on life rafts and in the water.  A great number of them perished due to this weather. While we were in the boats, most of the equipment had to be sacrificed and thrown overboard for the lack of space in the boat.

When daylight came, we noticed a Coast Guard Cutter way off in the distance and I fired rockets in the air while the other Cadet displayed a yellow distress flag on the pole.  All [men] in our lifeboat were rescued by the US Coast Guard Cutter, George M. Bibb.  The remainder of the day, the Bibb and the Cutter Ingham picked up survivors from the water, but no attempts were made to pick up the dead who were in the water.

While on the cutter, we were made as comfortable as could be expected under the circumstances until we landed in Iceland on February 14.  We left Iceland on March 23 and arrived in Boston April 1 [1943].

Due to the loss of the vessel, it is my sad duty to report the loss of Cadet Midshipmen George Race, Richard Holland and Jay Hammershoy.  I, along with the other Cadet, Frank Roberts, have questioned all survivors regarding the loss of the three Cadets, but no one could give any information about them whatsoever.  It is felt certain that if had the three Cadets who are presumed lost, by any miracle got into a raft, they could not have survived due to the seas, snow storms and extremely cold weather which developed shortly after we were rescued.

Written by Cadet Midshipman, Robert E. Helling, SS Henry R. Mallory

Above is a painting created in 2013 by Audra Crebs. She had painted this at the request of Bob Helling who is Cadet Midshipmen Robert Helling’s son. Audra created this rendition largely from the report of Midshipmen Helling’s report above. Bob Helling tells of the painting, “I had always wanted a painting done of the last moments of the Mallory. My future daughter in law, Audra Crebs, is an accomplished artist and author, so I gave her the commission. She worked from my Dad's (Cadet Midshipmen Robert E. Helling) report of the sinking. I am very pleased with the result. She gave the painting to me last Christmas and it brought tears to my eyes. In the view of the lifeboat in the foreground, that would have been Dad at the tiller as he was one of only two seamen in the boat. He told me that he took the tiller when he got into the boat. Although he did not state in his report how the ship went down, he told me that when he got on deck from the engine room, the stern was already awash. He said as his lifeboat got away from the ship, he heard explosions and turned to watch her go down by the stern.”

Above is Bob Helling on the left with Audra Crebs holding her painting of the Mallory sinking.

Audra Crebs was born and raised in Halstead, KS. She graduated college at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Lakewood, CO with a BFA in illustration and a specialization in children’s books. Since graduating, Audra has worked as a graphic designer for a newspaper company for 4 years and has done freelance in both illustration and graphic design. This year she wrote and illustrated her first sci-fi/fantasy novel, The Esoteric Design, and is currently working on the second. For now she works at home concentrating on her own art and writing and working freelance. To see more of Audra's work, visit her websites: www.ARCrebs.deviantart.com    www.ARCrebs.com
Cadet Midshipmen Robert E. Helling,
United States Merchant Marine
United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York, 1944
Midshipmen Helling is fourth from left front row.

Below is a letter written by Victor A. Race, the brother of Cadet Midshipmen George Race who was lost on the Mallory, to Robert Helling asking for information about the fate of his brother.

April 7, 1943

Mr. Robert E. Helling
1819Avenue D
Fort Madison, Iowa

My Dear Mr. Helling:

I have just received a letter from Mr. Arata of the War Shipping Administration in New York about my brother, George Race, as follows: 

“I have just spoken to Mr. R.E. Helling of 1819 Avenue D, Fort Madison, Iowa, who was an Engineer Cadet aboard the vessel, SS Henry R. Mallory, and was very well acquainted with your brother. I was told that your brother was about to relieve Helling on the 4AM watch when the vessel was struck.  I believe Mr. Helling was the last person to see him alive aboard the vessel.  If you will write to Mr. Helling, he will inform you with references to your brother. Perhaps whatever little information he gives may be consoling to your Mother and yourself.”

As you can well imagine, Mr. Helling, my Mother and I would be forever grateful to you if you could find it in your heart to write me whatever you can about George.

This tragedy has been like a horrible nightmare to my Mother—and the most tragic part of all is that we have absolutely no information from any official source, although I have exhausted my ingenuity and spent a small fortune in long distance telephone calls to survivors I have read about in the newspapers, but all to no avail.

The letter I received this morning telling me about you was like a message from heaven, for it is probably through you that my family will have its last contact with my brother.

I know it will probably be painful for you to write, but I can only tell you that whatever you are able to write will mean more than life itself to my Mother. 

We know, of course, that the vessel was the Henry R. Mallory, bound for Iceland and went down on February 7th.  What Mother would like to know most, of course, is whether George is definitely dead.

I understand that there was another Engine Cadet by the name of  Hammershoy on board with you and George who was also reported “Missing.”  Hammershoy’s Mother lives only ten miles from here in Glenbrook and she also knows nothing about her son.  If you know anything about her boy and wish to pass the information on to me, I know that she too would be grateful.

I can’t begin to express in words how happy I am for you and your family that you survived this sinking.

Sincerely yours,
Victor A. Race

Below is the letter Robert Helling wrote back to Victor Race about his brother George Race. According to Bob Helling, Robert's son this letter was actually written by Robert's father Herman F. Helling. Later in life after Robert had passed away Bob Helling learned this from his grandfather Herman that at the time Robert was so over wrought by the sinking and the loss of his shipmates that he could not bring himself to write the letter. Bob Helling states about this letter, "I had hesitated to send you these letters before as they are very personal. However, history is not always pleasant and I feel must be preserved to be accurate."

Dear Mr. Race,

Just arrived home and learned of your letter regarding George.  Although he and I were very closely associated, I am sorry I cannot give you much information regarding him.  At the time the ship was struck, we were engaged in conversation in the engine room and he left immediately for topside.  I did not see him again.  Several boats were swamped and it is my assumption that he may have been in one of them.  After we were picked up eight hours later, I personally checked all survivors and George was not among them.  Being good friends and also in line of duty, I made a special effort to locate him.  Due to extreme weather conditions, I am almost confident that a person could not have survived long in those angry waters. 

I feel greatly this loss of a wonderful shipmate and pal, and only wish I could offer you more consoling information.  I know you want the truth and I’m describing it as it actually happened. 

Regarding Jay Hammershoy, I feel confident he suffered the same fate.  He, too, was one of my best friends and, like George, a wonderful shipmate. 

May I offer you my sincerest sympathy to you and your Mother.  I trust that the good Lord will comfort you and console you in your loss of a fine son and brother.

Respectfully yours,

Robert E. Helling

Midshipmen Robert Helling and his future wife Mary Catherine Lammers, Christmas day, 1943 in St. Joseph, MO.
Robert and Mary were married in September of 1944 and Mary still lives in Independence, MO.


Engine Cadet-Midshipmen George Robert Race


Engine Cadet-Midshipmen George Robert Race, United States Merchant Marines

As the SS Henry R. Mallory is in the Boston Harbor on January 15, 1943 four new Cadet-Midshipmen sign on as part of the crew. George Robert Race along with Robert Helling, Richard E. Holland and Frank C. Roberts sign on and they joined two other Cadet-Midshipmen, Joseph F. Best, Jr., and James A. Hammershoy, already aboard from the previous trip.

George Race was a 24-year old Engine Cadet when he signed on with the Mallory, and this would be his one and only trip aboard her. He would lose his life when she was torpedoed and sank on February 7, 1943. Cadet-Midshipmen Race was posthumously awarded the Mariner’s Medal, the Combat Bar with Star, the Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal, and the Presidential Testimonial Letter.

George Robert Race was born in Schenectady, New York on April 18, 1919 to Hungarian immigrants Nicholas and Magdalena Racz. George’s father Nicholas was born in Hungary on July 24, 1879 and had come to America about 1894. Before the “Race” family name was Americanized it was spelled “Racz” and Nicholas first settled in the Bridgeport, Connecticut area. In late 1918 Nicholas was working as a machinist and was married to his wife Magdalena where they lived at 301 Clover Street in Bridgeport, and they had their first child, a son named Victor born there about August of 1917.

By January of 1920 the Nicholas Racz family had grown with the birth of George Robert in April of 1919. Nicholas and Magdalena and their two sons Victor and George were then living in a home located at 111 Eighth Avenue in Schenectady, which was the home of Magdalena’s mother, Anna Horshka. The Horshka’s were also Hungarian and had come to America about 1906. By January of 1920 Anna had been widowed and living in the home was her 19-year old son Anton, and 9-year old daughter Hilda. Nicholas and Anton were working for the same Machine shop to help support the combined families.

Ten years had passed and the Racz family had moved out of the Eighth Avenue home and now lived at 1313 Main Street in Schenectady. This was a rented home and Nicholas was now working as a Baker in a local bakery. In 1930 one of the very few luxuries of the day was a radio set and the Racz family did have one in the home at that time. On the 1930 census form the Family name had not yet been Americanized to Race and they listed Magyar as the language the family spoke. Magyar is the Hungarian language, and at the time Nicholas came to America there was a great Magyarization going on in Hungary and there was a great migration from Hungary to the United States and this may have been a reason the Nicholas Racz’ family may have come to America.

By 1940 the Racz family had moved into a home at 1541 Rutgers Street in Schenectady. Nicholas was still working as a baker and Victor had moved away from the home by then. George who was 20-years old then was working as an apprentice electrician. After America entered into the Second World War both Racz brothers served their Country in wartime. Victor served aboard Army transport ships in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. George joined the United States Merchant Marines, reporting to the Merchant Marine training center at Kings Point in October of 1942.

By then George Racz had been Americanized and from then on his last name was spelled Race. When George Robert Race left the little shotgun house on Rutgers Street he could not know that he would never return through the front door to hear the sweet voice of his mother Magdalena welcoming him home. In less then a month from the time he signed on as a crewman aboard the Mallory his life would end, never to see home again. The last moments are unknown for George Race, he may have been on duty down in the engine rooms when the torpedo hit and was killed there, or he may have survived the explosion and died in the icy cold water, we will never know. But what we do know is that the young 24-year old man of Hungarian heritage did his duty bravely to the last moment of his life, and in telling his story his memory will live on.

Of the 6 Cadet-Midshipmen, Race, Helling, Holland, Roberts, Best and Hammershoy, that were aboard the Mallory for that last trip, only Helling, Best and Roberts survived the sinking that day. In a cruel twist Richard Holland had been a Cadet-Midshipmen aboard the SS William Clark and survived the sinking of that ship three months previous to the sinking of the Mallory.


Deck Cadet-Midshipmen Richard Edmund Holland, U. S. Merchant Marines


Deck Cadet-Midshipmen
Richard E. Holland

In the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania on May 13, 1922 the second son of James and Helen Holland was born; his name is Richard Edmund Holland. In 1930 the James Holland family lived in a home he owned located at 503 Meridian Street in Scranton, PA. At the time there were 5 children in the family, four sons and one daughter. The family would later grow to 7 children. James in 1930 worked in an electrical generating plant in Scranton, and his wife Helen worked as a grocery store manager to support the growing family. Living in the home on Meridian Street with the family was Helen’s 31-year old single sister, Mable Bender, who was also working at the same grocery store with her sister Helen.

In April of 1933 James Holland would pass away and Helen continued to raise the family of six boys and one girl all by her self. When Richard was finished with school he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and served at a CCC Camp in New Mexico. In early 1942 Richard Holland had applied for entrance into the United States Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, New York. Once accepted Holland returned from duty with the CCC in New Mexico and entered into the Academy.

Holland was a Deck Cadet Midshipmen and his first merchant ship assignment was aboard the Liberty ship SS William Clark. The William Clark was then assigned to the infamous Murmansk run. The William Clark had left Boston in convoy BX-35, joined convoy SC-99 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and arrived in Iceland on September 19, 1942. She was one of ten vessels that were sent unescorted and alone on the Murmansk run due to the high losses in previous convoys, all ten ships did not reached their destination of Murmansk.

On the afternoon of November 4, 1942 the William Clark, under the command of Master Walter Edmund Elian, was steaming alone just off the coast of Jan Mayen Island. Jan Mayen is a volcanic island belonging to Norway located about 370 miles northeast of Iceland in the Arctic Ocean. At 1:33 in the afternoon three torpedoes hit the port side amidships of the Clark. The German U-boat U-354 has scored a mortal blow to the Clark. The torpedoes hit in the engine room spaces and disabled the engines, flooding the engine compartments killing five men on watch at the time. Deck Cadet Richard E. Holland along with six officers, 33 crewmen and 30 armed guards abandoned the Clark into three lifeboats.

About 30 minutes after the attack the Clark was still afloat although she was mortally wounded, from the Periscope of the U-boat the Clark must has appeared that she may remain afloat for a time and so the U-354 fired a finishing shot into the Clark’s starboard side and she broke in two forward of the wheel house, where she promptly sank in a short time.

The three lifeboats gathered together and the Captain was in the lifeboat that had a motor. Captain Elian decided that he would leave the two non-motorized boats together and head for help in Iceland. The Captain and the 22 men in his launch were never seen again. The other two boats became separated and drifted on the seas. Deck Cadet Holland and 25 others in his boat were picked up after three days about 20-miles from the sinking position by the HMS St. Elstan and were landed in Reykjavik, Iceland on November 14, 1942. The third boat with 15 survivors was located by the HMS Cape Palliser on November 12, with one man dead and two other loosing their legs due to exposure. A total of 4 officers, and 14 crewmen along with 13 of the naval-armed guards were lost during the sinking of the William Clark.

Deck Cadet Richard Holland had survived a torpedoed ship in the Arctic Ocean, likely he felt that luck was clearly in his favor. This would however be a short-lived grace period, for within 3-months time he would have a second ship shot out from under him. But luck did not follow him on this second attack. Sadly he would loose his life on February 7, 1943.

Now at Reykjavik, Iceland Holland and the other survivors of the William Clark were to be transported back to the States aboard the Army Transport ship USS Chateau Thierry. Holland would get to spend Christmas in the States, and it would be his last Christmas because he had already been reassigned to another ship.

Cadet Holland signed onto the crew of the SS Henry R. Mallory just in time for the January 24, 1943 sailing date. Holland found that aboard the Mallory there were five other Cadet Midshipmen; Robert Helling, George R. Race, and Frank C. Roberts had also just signed on with Holland, and Cadets James A. Hammershoy and Joseph F. Best, Jr. had been aboard from the last trip the Mallory had taken. Of the six Cadets aboard for this trip half of them would not survive.

As the Mallory slipped away from the American coast for the last time Holland may have felt uneasy as he had just had a ship shot out from under him, but daily duty aboard ship may have kept his mind from thinking such thoughts. It was not until February 4 when the German U-boats found the painfully slow convoy the Mallory was traveling in. During the next four days the convoy was attacked and the men aboard the Mallory had to be thinking will we be next? That question was answered at 05:38 (GCT) on the morning of February 7 with a torpedo fired into the side of the Mallory.

In the moments after the explosion things began to get worse for the men of the Mallory. There was the first panic of the explosion, then the ship seemed to feel as if it would stay afloat but this soon changed for the worse and this caused men to panic leaping from the quickly sinking ship.

When daylight came there was a lifeboat that contained two of the six Cadet-Midshipmen, Best and Roberts. But what of their four other brother Cadets, it would be some time before they knew the fate of their fellow Cadets. All they could hope for is that they were in another lifeboat. Once the men from the Mallory reached Reykjavik, Iceland the answer to the question became painfully clear. Cadet Richard E. Holland along with Jay A. Hammershoy and George R. Race did not survive the attack and were killed in action.

Cadet-Midshipmen Richard E. Holland was posthumously awarded the Mariner’s Medal, the Combat Bar with two stars, the Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal, and the Presidential Testimonial Letter for his service to his Country.


Engine Cadet-Midshipmen, Jay Arthur Hammershoy, U. S. Merchant Marines

Jay Arthur Hammershoy
Cadet-Midshipmen
Unites States Merchant Marine

Jay Arthur Hammershoy was an Engine Cadet-Midshipmen of the United States Merchant Marines serving aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory and was killed in action when that ship was lost on February 7, 1943.

Jay Arthur Hammershoy was born in Glenbrook, Connecticut on March 14, 1922. He was the eldest son of Joseph and Mary Hammershoy. Joseph Hammershoy was born in Denmark about 1902 and had come to America in 1905 with his parents George and Christine Hammershoy. George and Christine’s family consisted of 3 sons, Joseph, Aage, and Holger, all three sons were born in Denmark. George Hammershoy in 1920 lived in Darien, Connecticut and he worked as a blacksmith for the railroad to support his wife and 3 sons.

Jay’s father Joseph settled in Stanford, Connecticut and in 1930 lived with his wife Mary in a rented home on Puritan Lane in Stanford. Joseph worked as a foreman for the railroad to support his family. The children of Joseph and Mary were eldest son Jay Arthur and two daughters, Muriel C. and Shirley J. Also living in the home with them was Peter Panchson, who was the 30-year old single brother of Mary. Peter was a taxi driver.

Jay Arthur Hammershoy in early 1942 was attending the Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point, NY, and was sworn in as Cadet-Midshipmen on October 14, 1942. Hammershoy was assigned to duty to the SS Henry R. Mallory as an Engine Cadet-Midshipmen, and signed on board the Mallory on November 7, 1942. Hammershoy found that there were two other Cadet-Midshipmen also aboard, Deck Cadet-Midshipmen Joseph F. Best, Jr. and Phillip G. O’Reilly. After completing just one voyage O’Reilly was signing off the Mallory. Additionally Cadet-Midshipmen Robert Helling, Richard E. Holland, George R. Race, and Frank C. Roberts also signed on with the crew of the Mallory.

When the German torpedo tore into the side of the Mallory, Engine Cadet Hammershoy may have been on duty down in the engine room. It is not known how the end came for Cadet Hammershoy and no one can say for sure if he ever got off the ship alive, but when the men from the Mallory were rescued Hammershoy and two other Cadet-Midshipmen, George Race and Richard Holland were not among the living. Hammershoy was just 20-years old when he was lost in the sinking of the Mallory.

Cadet-Midshipmen Jay Arthur Hammershoy was posthumously awarded the Mariner’s Medal, The Combat Bar with star, the Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal, and the Presidential Testimonial Letter.


Cadet Midshipmen Joseph F. Best, Jr. U. S. Merchant Marines

Joseph Frank Best, Jr. was born in Floral Park, NY on January 2, 1923 to Joseph F. Best, Sr. and Eleanor Dowd Best. Joseph, Sr. and Eleanor raised a family in Floral Park, New York on Long Island, which consisted of Joseph, Jr, Peggy, Frank, Jean and Robert. The family lived on Jericho Turnpike in Floral Park near where Joseph Sr. had his hardware store that he owned. On information gathered from the 1930 Federal Census, both parents of Joseph, Sr. were from Germany, and Joseph, Sr. had served in the military during WWI. Eleanor’s parents were from Canada.

After graduating from Sewanaka High School in Floral Park, Joseph Jr. attended Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for a short time. This was likely the first time in his life he was away from home. But shortly after America entered into the war in 1941, Joseph Best, Jr. sought admittance to the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. There he would learn a new trade, that of life at sea. Cadets at King’s Point after classroom training were assigned to duty aboard ships and that was where the real learning took place, on the job training while a German U-boat was trying to shoot you out of your ship.

The ship Cadet Best was assigned to was the SS Henry R. Mallory, a veteran of WWI and she had been called on again to transport men and material across the dangerous and deadly Atlantic in the present war. Cadet Best made one successful crossing on the Mallory during late 1942, and was preparing for his next trip in December 1942.

Aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory on January 15, 1943 two lowly Cadet Midshipmen, James A. Hammershoy and Joseph F. Best, Jr. awaited the arrival of four new Cadets from the Merchant Marine Academy while the ship was in Boston. As Hammershoy and Best welcomed the four new fellow Cadets little did they know that in less than a month’s time half of the six Cadets would be killed when the Mallory was torpedoed. Only fate knew the names of the three who would be spared and whose lives would be taken.

Cadet Joseph F. Best, Jr. was assigned to the Deck Division of the Mallory. As a member of the Deck Division he would be learning to operate the ship and navigate at sea. Possibly one day he would gain his Masters ticket and have a merchant ship under his own command… that was if he could survive the bloody ocean that lay before him.

It is assumed that on the morning of the fateful attack on the Mallory that Midshipmen Best was on duty. After the explosion of the Torpedo that tore into the Mallory’s Starboard side up in the wheelhouse Captain Weaver felt that his ship was still sea worthy. No alarm was rung and no orders were given to abandon ship. But that was a much different feeling down in the engine room and in and around Hold No. 4.

But this brief period of perceived stability did not last long, for the old Mallory suddenly took a turn for the worst, going down quickly by the stern. By then there was no need to give an Abandon Ship order, as it was self-evident. Panic and chaos became the rule for the time and three lifeboats were the only ones lowered successfully. Men dressed without the proper clothing began to spill out from the lower decks and severely overcrowd the three lifeboats.

Cadet Best was in one of the three lifeboats sized for 50-men but there were well over 80 trying to save themselves by gaining access to the Number 8 lifeboat Cadet Best was in. With the added weight of the extra men the gunwales of the lifeboat were nearly at the level of the raging sea. Water poured in and men franticly bailed water with anything they could find or just used bare hands. Cadet Best started to put his training to good use and took possession of the distress rockets and flares because he knew these would be valuable tools to the men in the boat if they would be rescued.

Also in lifeboat Number 8 with Best was fellow Cadet Frank C. Roberts. Best was quoted in saying “It was a miracle we didn’t swamp. Water was lapping over the gunwales of the lifeboat, so we bailed with buckets and with our caps and our hands.” Hours passed and things started to be sorted out, those in the water clinging to the lifeboat succumbed to the frigid cold water and by the grey dim morning light the cutter Bibb was sighted on the horizon. It was the rockets and flares Best had saved that drew the attention of the Bibb. Cadet Roberts signaled with a large yellow flag and Captain Raney parked the Bibb next to the lifeboat like it was a taxi. No easy feat in those seas as they were running at least 30-footers at the time.

Joseph F. Best, Jr. survived the sinking of the Mallory and he counted himself lucky to be among the three Cadets who had survived. But he also grieved for the three fellow Cadets who lost their lives that day. For the rest of his life Best did not speak of these events very often, this was his personal burden to bear. It would be a burden he would keep to himself for the next 65-years until the last few months of his life when he did speak sparingly to his youngest daughter Barbara who he was living with at the time.

After his rescue by the Bibb the Mallory crew was taken to Iceland where they recuperated until March 22, 1943 when several of the Merchant Marines from the Mallory crew were transported back to the States for new jobs. On March 22 Cadets Best, Helling and Roberts boarded the USS Chateau Thierry in Reykjavik bound for the States. They were the three Cadet Midshipmen who fate had seen fit to keep alive, a fact that likely each of the three was wondering why it was them and not the ones who were taken.

Cadet Best was reassigned to another merchant ship and served the remainder of the war in the Merchant Marines. Even though he was still a Cadet he was now a seasoned merchant officer. His next assignment was on an oil tanker named SS Shiloh. She was a 523-foot long tanker build in June of 1943 by the Sun Shipbuilding Company in Chester, Pennsylvania and could carry 6-million gallons of oil. Little is known of the SS Shiloh other that she was owned by the United States Maritime Commission and was a T2-SE-A1 type oiler, of which during the war years there were 481 ships of this general type built. The Shiloh only took 113-days to build, and she was re-named SS Ramona in 1948 and was later scrapped in 1962.

According to family stories Joseph Best may have transferred off the Shiloh onto a British merchant ship or troopship while he was in the Mediterranean Sea. It was said that he served on this British ship until the end of the war. In later years Joseph Best talked about being in Port Said, Egypt. There is an additional story about somehow back home Joseph’s mother Eleanor had been told that her son had been killed. But soon after this news a letter from Joseph arrived at the Best home in Floral Park where he stated he was alive and well serving on a British merchant ship sailing the Mediterranean Sea.

After the war ended Joseph Best was finished with life behind the mast and the job of a merchant at sea, and he returned to his family in New York. There in Floral Park, NY he took another job as a merchant only this time it was on the dry land. He went to work for his father who was the owner of Best Hardware and Mill Supply located in Floral Park, on Long Island New York. In 1921 Joseph Best, Sr. had started the hardware store and at one point the Best’s had seven such hardware stores in operation. Today the store is still in existence ran by Joseph Best, Jr’s son Carl.

In 1946 Joseph Best Jr. married Margaret Mary “Sis” Schmitt. After about 6-years of working for his father in the hardware store Joseph, Jr. purchased the store then owned by his father and Joseph’s two brothers Frank and Robert. During the following years Joseph Best Jr. had several side jobs and companies he ran. One was a machine tool company and another was a bar and grill named the 305 Bar & Grill in Hempstead, NY.

Joseph and his wife “Sis” raised 2 daughters and 2 sons, Jean, Barbara, Joseph F. Best, III, and Carl. R. Best. Both Joseph and “Sis” were active with the North Fork Country Club, Mattituck Yacht Club and the Bent Tree Country Club as well as the American Legion Post No. 296 in Grasonville, Maryland throughout their lives. Joseph ran the hardware stores and “Sis” worked keeping the books. Raising the four children, being a 4-H leader and never missing a single game the kids played in kept them busy over the years. Both Joseph and “Sis” loved the outdoors especially the water.

During the mid 1980’s Joseph finally retired and his son Carl Best took over the hardware store and still runs it to this day. Joseph and “Sis” moved to Sarasota, Florida for their golden years. During the last few years of his life Joseph’s wife “Sis” suffered from Alzheimer’s and Joseph lived with his youngest daughter Barbara until his death at the age of 85-years on April 28, 2008. Margaret “Sis” lived to be 90-years old when she passed away on May 5, 2014. Joseph and “Sis” were married for 61-years.


Jr. 3rd Engineer Leon C. Prevatt, U. S. Merchant Marines

"The men on the Mallory did what was required to do that day in their hour of peril and Leon’s experiences were something that he dealt with during his life privately and painfully for the rest of his life."

Leon Charles Prevatt was born on July 1, 1920 in Florida. His mother was named Julia Prevatt who was widowed and the Prevatt family, in April of 1930, lived in Jacksonville, Florida. Leon at that time was the youngest son. His siblings were Eldest brother Lonnie, Sisters Louise, Evelyn and Eva Mae. Next door to their home lived Albert Prevatt and his wife. Albert may have been Julia’s sister.

Young Leon grew into a man and shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor joined the United States Merchant Marines. Leon found himself serving as a Junior 3rd Engineer on the troopship USS Henry R. Mallory in 1943. Jr. 3rd Engineer Prevatt was part of the crew of the Mallory when she was hit with a German torpedo on the morning of February 7, 1943 and he did survive the sinking, likely being rescued by the USCGC Bibb as they rescued the bulk of the men from the Mallory. His son recounted that Leon never spoke about the events of the sinking of the Mallory and during the few times he did speak of it he did so with a grimace. His son Tim knew that Leon relived the events of 7 February 1943 every day in his head. The men on the Mallory did what was required to do that day in their hour of peril and Leon’s experiences were something that he dealt with during his life privately and painfully for the rest of his life. In fact his son, Tim recalls each time his father spoke about that day he fought to hold back his emotions, which could been seen by his grimacing face. These times were few and far between when he spoke about the events of the sinking, but Tim believes his father relives these events in his head everyday for the rest of his life.

Leon remained in the Merchant Marine service for the duration of the war and was discharged on May 3rd 1945. He then returned to civilian life and settled first back in his home state of Florida, and then later in the state of Rhode Island for most of the rest of his life. A little over a year prior to the sinking of the Mallory, Leon on January 31, 1942 married. Her name was Marion and she was 4 years younger than Leon.

While still recovering from the sinking just over a month later in March of 1943, Leon became a father. Marion had given birth to their first child a daughter named Suzanne. After the war Leon worked as a Safety Engineer for the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company in Warwick, Rhode Island. Then in January of 1953 a son named William was born followed by Cynthia in December of 1954 and finally their last child a son named Tim Prevatt born on September 10, 1957 while the family was living in Providence, RI.

In the 1963 East Providence City Directory Leon still worked as an Engineer but now with the American Casualty Company. Leon’s wife Marion worked as an office secretary in the Civil Defense Department. The family home was located at 38 Glenrose Drive in East Providence.

During the last years of his life Leon lived in a home located at 3 Comfort Way in Coventry, Rhode Island. Leon and Marion celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on January 31, 2002 before he passed away. Marion still lives in Coventry today. Leon, the man who kept the memory of the terrible events of the sinking of the Mallory to himself for 59-years, passed away on 25 June 2002. Leon was interred on July 1, 2002 in the Rhode Island Veteran Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, RI, Section E-1, Row 43, Site 1359.


Dr. Joseph Grabenstein, Mallory Ship's Doctor

Dr. Joseph Grabenstein was the Ship’s Doctor aboard the USS Henry R. Mallory and he lost his life on the morning of February 7, 1943 when the Mallory was torpedoed and sunk.

Joseph Grabenstein was born on April 4, 1877 in New York City. He was born of German Speaking Jewish parents and it is known that his father was named Edward and his mother was named Eva. Both were born in Bohemia as stated on the 1880 Federal Census. It is known that Edward was born on December 31, 1851 in or around Glozan, Austria. This is the present day city of Glozan, Serbia, which is located in the Northern part of the country of Serbia, or south of Budapest, Hungry.

It is not clear if Eva was from the same area as her husband Edward but it is likely. She was born about 1852 or 1853. It is known that Edward and Eva came to America on August 15, 1871 from Serbia or Bohemia as it was known then, sailing aboard the Main.[1] Then on April 4 of 1877 Eva gave birth to Joseph Grabenstein as the couple were living in New York. Little is known of the early years of the marriage of Edward and Eva. But what is known comes from the 1880 Federal Census. In June of 1880 Edward worked as a liquor dealer in New York, and also at that time Edward and Eva had 3 sons. Otto the eldest was born about 1874, Joseph in 1877, and youngest son Isaac born about 1879 all born in New York City. Living in the Grabenstein home, which was on Remington Street in New York City with Edward, Eva, Otto, Joseph and Isaac was a 40-year old single female servant named Mary Katchmarek from Poland.

Joseph Grabenstein would go on to become a Physician and by August of 1899 when he applied and was granted a 1-year U.S. Passport he was already working as a Doctor at the age of 23. On August 2, 1899 he signed his name as “Dr. Joseph Grabenstein.” On the Passport form it listed his physical features as; High forehead; dark brown eyes; nose proportionate; mouth small; chin round; hair black; complexion fair, and face oval. It was not known where he was traveling to but because his father Edward had also been granted a passport during the same time it was likely that he was traveling back to Europe with his father as Edward now worked as a merchant selling cloaks and suits.

By June of 1900 Edward and Joseph lived together in a rented apartment located at 328 East 72nd Street in Manhattan. By this time Joseph’s mother Eva had passed away and Edward was now a widower. Eva Grabenstein passed away sometime between the birth of Max Grabenstein in 1885 and June of 1900. This is known as on the 1900 Federal Census Edward is listed as being a widower. Joseph was single and still working as a physician.

By 1910 Joseph Grabenstein was now married and lived not far from where he and his father did 10 years before. Joseph and his wife Ernestine lived on 74th Street in Manhattan at the time. Ernestine was born about 1885 in New York and her parents were both from Austria likely the same area as Joseph’s father. Joseph and Ernestine were married about 1905 and had one child a daughter named Evelyn who was born about 1908. At the home on 74th Street also lived Joseph’s youngest brother Max. He was born in 1885 in New York and likely he was the youngest son of Edward and Eva. Max was single and worked as a Button salesman. Joseph and Ernestine employed in the home an 18-year old female servant named Annie Kostic who was born in Pennsylvania and was of Russian decent.

During the next 10 or so years the Joseph Grabenstein family lived in several places in New York City. It is known that during 1915-16 Joseph, Ernestine and Evelyn lived at 172 East 74th Street, which is just off Park Avenue and very near Central Park. Then in 1917 the family lived at 1143 Lexington Avenue, which was near the corner of Lexington Avenue and 79th Street, in a 14-story brick building that is still there today.

By 1920 Joseph, Ernestine and Evelyn were now living on Nagle Avenue in a rented apartment, and Joseph was still working as a physician. Ten years later in 1930 Joseph and Ernestine had finally bought a place and were now living with their only daughter Evelyn at 6401 Thirty-fifth Avenue in the borough of Queens. The home was valued at $11,000 and Joseph now 53-years of age still was a physician. Evelyn now 22-years old was single and worked as a clerk at the Immigration office.

It is not known the exact reason that Dr. Joseph Grabenstein joined the U. S. Merchant Marine but the fact is that he was the ships doctor aboard the transport ship USS Henry R. Mallory. It is not known how many trips he may have made on the ship and it may likely have been his first trip as on the voyage of the sinking most of the crew were green to the ship. According to a survivor of the sinking, Father Gerald Whelan who was an Army chaplain, he tells of how Dr. Grabenstein was afraid of the sea, and how the Doctor and Father Liston, another of the Catholic Chaplains aboard the Mallory would walk the decks together as both were afraid of the sea.

According to Father Whelan he saw Dr. Grabenstein and Horace Weaver the Mallory’s Master get into the Captains lifeboat but when the Mallory rolled she tipped over this lifeboat and all who were inside were sent awash on the cold waters of the roaring Atlantic, never to be seen alive again.


Western Union Telegram sent to Ernestine Grabenstein.

Sent on February 22, 1943

THE NAVY DEPARTMENT DEEPLY REGRETS TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR HUSBAND JOSEPH GRABENSTEIN IS MISSING AND PRESUMED LOST FOLLOWING ACTION IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTY AND IN SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY. THE COAST GUARD APPRECIATES YOUR GREAT ANXIETY AND WILL FURNISH YOU FURTHER INFORMATION PROMPTLY WHEN RECEIVED. TO PREVENT POSSIBLE AID TO OUR ENEMIES PLEASE DO NOT DIVULGE THE NAME OF HIS SHIP. VICE ADMIRAL R R WAESCHE COMMANDANT US COAST GUARD


Dr. Joseph Grabenstein and his wife Ernestine with their beloved dog 'Buttons'

Photo was taken in 1938

In March of 2010, Sixty-seven years after Dr. Grabenstein was killed when the Mallory went down, I received and e-mail from the grandaughter of Dr. Grabenstein. Her name was Ann Scolnick Musso, she being the daughter of Evelyn Grabenstein and Ben Scolnick. Evelyn was the Daughter of Dr. Joseph and Ernestine Grabenstein.

Ann was born Spetember 16, 1941 and was 18-months old when her grandfather Dr. Grabenstein was Killed in Action. Ann recalls how Dr. Grabenstein was much older than most of the crew of the Mallory as he had also served during WWI. Ann has the actual telegrahm the family recieved 15-days after the Mallory went down. Ann also included the photo of the Doctor and Ernestine. Ann stated "Attached is a picture of Joseph and Ernestine taken in 1938 with their beloved dog, Buttons. My parents and grandmother, Ernestine, moved to Baldwin in 1945 and Ernestine died in 1965."


[1] MAIN (1) The first "Main" was a 3,087 gross ton ship, built by Caird & Co, Greenock in 1868 for Norddeutscher Lloyd [North German Lloyd] of Bremen. Her details were - length 332ft x beam 40ft, clipper stem, one funnel, two masts, iron construction, single screw and a speed of 13 knots. There was passenger accommodation for 70-1st, 100-2nd and 600-3rd class. Launched on 22/8/1868, she sailed from Bremen on her maiden voyage to Southampton and New York on 28/11/1868. In 1878 her engines were compounded by the builders and on 6/3/1890 she commenced her last Bremen - New York voyage. On 6/3/1890 she started her final Bremen - Baltimore crossing and the following year was sold to British owners. She was destroyed by fire at Fayal, Azores on 23/3/1892. [North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P.Bonsor, vol.2,p.546] - [Posted to The ShipsList by Ted Finch - 1 February 1998]


Able Seaman Thomas A. Hebenton

Able Seaman Thomas A. Hebenton. Photo taken June 1942

The story of Thomas A. Hebenton can be told starting in Scotland, the Country where both of his parents were born. His father was named James Hebenton and was born on September 7 1885 in Kirriemuir, Scotland. Kirriemuir, sometimes called Kirrie, is a burgh in Angus, Scotland. It is well known as the birthplace of Peter Pan and a statue of Peter Pan stands in the town square in front of the old tollbooth. Thomas Hebenton’s mother was named Sybil and it is known that she was the same age as James so it is fare to say she was born sometime in 1885 and it is likely she came from the same area as James did in Kirriemuir.

About 1914 Sybil and James Hebenton were married in Scotland and the following year both came to America. Sybil and James settled in Massachusetts where James took up the trade of a printer and typesetter. Sybil gave birth to the couples first child a daughter named Agnes about 1916.

In September of 1918 James, Sybil and Agnes lived at 93 Downing Street in Worcester, MA where James worked as a typesetter for the Worchester Post newspaper. James did not serve in the military during WWI, and on June 1, 1919 Sybil gave birth to Thomas A. the subject of this history. Sybil again had a son named James Jr. sometime in 1923.

By April of 1930 the James Hebenton family now had moved from Worchester to Somerville, MA where James still worked in the newspaper business as a typesetter. The family lived in a 3-floor apartment house owned by John M. Baird who was from Northern Ireland. In the Baird house lived two other families, both Scottish families, the William Kyle family with a daughter and two sons, and the James Hebenton family with one daughter and two sons. Also in the Baird house lived two lodgers, both from Scotland, so it seems that the Irish home of Mr. Baird was overran with Scots.

The Baird home was located at 51 Raymond Avenue in Somerville and the home still stands there today. It is a 3-story home with 3 front porches, one on each floor with large white columns and porch railings. This is where young Thomas Hebenton likely sat many evenings and dreamed of seeing the world one day. He may have even been setting on this porch the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, for it was after that fateful Sunday that 22-year old Thomas went down to the local Navy Recruiting office to join the navy. But he was refused as the navy said he had a heart murmur.

The naval recruiter told Thomas ‘son if you want to go to sea you’ll have to join the Merchant Marines’ which was exactly what he did. By February of 1942 Thomas Hebenton was attending the United States Maritime Service Training Station School at Hoffman Island, New York. There at Hoffman Island Training Station Thomas would learn to tie a clove hitch before he slept the first night on the island. Thomas on the first day at Hoffman Island marched double-time to the receiving quarters, received his gear, and assigned to quarters and by the time he found out how comfortable his sack was, those new shoes of his had tried out the drill field’s asphalt. The policy at Hoffman Island was to make it tough for the trainee at the beginning and as the days progressed the rest of the program felt comparatively easy. Valuable training Boot Thomas Hebenton would soon need in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

The days from February through June 1942 progressed until he had graduated and was now an Ordinary Seaman of the Merchant Marines. He was asked what type of service he wanted in the Maritime Service and he had wanted to see the world so he figured he could not see the world from below deck so he asked for deck service. This would likely be a choice that actually would save his life when the time came.

More training followed and Gunnery training was given and then Thomas gained his Lifeboat ticket, which was needed for him to advance to Able Seaman. His first ship was a Greek ship that he was assigned to as a stand-by crew until sometime in September 1942. At that time he joined the National Maritime Union where he sailed on various coastwise ships.

He had wanted to then sail on ships that would sail across the Atlantic and so in December 1942 was sent to Boston. In early January 1943 the USS Henry R. Mallory made port in Boston. The navy was then using the Mallory as a transport ship just as she had been used during WWI. Many of her crew had left for other assignments and so did her Master. The Mallory’s former Chief Mate Horace Rudolph Weaver was made her new Master. This would be his first trip as Master of the Mallory. Replacement men were needed to fill the jobs vacated by the men who left the Mallory, one of the replacements was Able Seaman Thomas Hebenton. He was assigned to the Deck Division and began working on the Mallory.

Able Seaman Hebenton did not have much time to familiarize himself with the workings of the Mallory for new Master Horace Weaver had loaded his ship with a full load of troops and was ordered to sail to New York. There in New York the Mallory was berthed in the North River where they stayed loaded with troops for the week. The troops were confined to the ship but the Mallory’s crew could take Liberty call in New York, which Hebenton took some Liberty in New York.

Captain Weaver finally had his orders to sail to meet the convoy they would be sailing across the Atlantic with and so that fateful voyage began. As part of the Deck Division aboard the Mallory, Hebenton duties were many, operating the cranes, standing wheel watches, standing lookout watches and anything else that needed done on deck.

During his many 2-hour wheel watches Hebenton remarked how the ship directly ahead of the Mallory would fall back and that caused the Mallory to fall out of line in the column. Hebenton remarked how close the ships were sometimes in the convoy, “close enough to carry on conversations from one ship to the other.” Hebenton remembered Captain Weaver as a friendly man. Weaver always spoke to the men on watch when he came from his day cabin just aft of the wheelhouse. Captain Weaver always asked how each man was doing and Hebenton had said that “Captain Weaver was a very nice guy, he’d even buy us a beer if we were ashore” Hebenton went on to say that “in the Merchant Marines we were not as spit and polish as the navy guys were.”

On the early morning hours of February 7, 1943 Able Seaman Hebenton had the Midnight to 2:00 AM wheel watch and following that he was assigned as lookout in the bow of the Mallory.

Lookout watches in the bow were dreadful hours, cold and wet but Hebenton was dressed in his oilskins, watch cap and lifejacket, ready for what fate might throw at him at any moment. As it turned out Hebenton’s lookout relief man was late to relive him that morning at 0400 hours. They were now only moments away from a life-changing event. This caused Hebenton to be walking the port side deck of the Mallory towards his quarters in the stern of the ship at the exact time the torpedo hit the starboard side of the Mallory about hold No. 4.

The force of the impact and resulting explosion threw Able Seaman Hebenton across the deck and shook him up a bit. No worse for the wear he got up and headed for his muster station at Lifeboat No. 2. There at his muster station he had found that someone had cut the boat loose and one end had swung down rendering it useless. Hebenton then made his way to the number 4 lifeboat and by that time the sea was only about 1-2 feet from the deck of the Mallory. As men were rushing to get into the lifeboat one the Chief Mates who was there fell over dead from a heart attack. Hebenton then got into the lifeboat by climbing down the scramble nets, which had been thrown over the side of the mortally wounded Mallory. Lifeboat No. 4 was successfully lowered and pushed away from the side of the Mallory.

Lifeboat No. 4 was very over crowed with men and they began to pass around the Mallory’s ever-sinking stern. She was not high up out of the water but settling lower and lower into the sea. Hebenton remembers that the sea was rough that morning and he found that the only two men in the lifeboat who were qualified to know how to handle a boat was he and the Junior 3rd Mate, both of whom were in the back of the lifeboat. Hebenton knew he had to get the sea anchor out so they could keep headed into the sea and not get swamped and overturned, but he could not get to the bow where the sea anchor was stowed. So the men passed him hand to hand overhead until Hebenton was in the bow. Soon enough he had the sea anchor out and the mast up so they would have a better chance of being seen on radar.

Hebenton remarked that every man knew if they had to take to the boats and were in the water other ships were under orders not to stop for survivors. By stopping the other ship would be an inviting target for a German sub, which was always lurking just below the surface of the sea. But Hebenton never gave up hope of being rescued and was never scared. He was dressed for the cold weather with his watch cap, oilskins and lifejacket because he had been at General Quarters in the hours before the attack.

While in the lifeboat the kid next to Hebenton, whom he remembers as a Fireman named Cody, told him “my hands feel funny.” Hebenton looked down and saw that the kid’s hands were badly mangled and that due to it being so cold the blood was frozen. Hebenton had on a wool scarf that his mother Sybil had knitted for him, and so he took off the scarf and wrapped it as best he could around the Fireman’s bleeding hands.

As the cold dark lonely hours set in to the men in Lifeboat No. 4, Thomas Hebenton thoughts may have been of home and family. He may also have been thinking of his watch partner, Ordinary Seaman Francis Joseph Mathews, who as it turned out did not survive. Thomas put his training he received from Hoffman Island to good use and his knowledge of how to handle the lifeboat at sea was now paying off. In fact when they were rescued one of the Army Officers in the boat had remarked to Hebenton and the Junior 3rd Mate, ‘if it wasn’t for you guys getting the sea anchor out and the mast up we likely would not have made it.’ Hebenton would later remark himself that he thinks he survived because he was at General Quarters in the hours before the attack and dressed in his oilskins and watch cap that saved him.

The darkness of the night wore on and along about daybreak, which Hebenton remembered was about 0900 hours, there came a site that raised the hopes of every man in Lifeboat No. 4. In the dim gray light the USCGC Bibb, skippered by CMDR Roy Raney, appeared out of the swells. Raney pulled the Bibb up along side of the lifeboat keeping the lifeboat on the Bibb's lea side, which was no small feat in the 40-foot seas at the time. In directly disobeying the order from the convoy commander, Raney stopped the Bibb to pick up, in Raney’s own words, “a flock of my Countrymen” thereby hazarding his own ship and crew and performed one of the most daring rescue operations of the war. Hebenton remarked when he saw the Bibb, “My God that’s the prettiest sight ever seen” which was likely thought by every man in the lifeboat.

As the gigantic swells swept along the lea side of the Bibb the men were slowly rescued from the clutches of the angry sea and Hebenton made sure each and every man got off the lifeboat. He was the last man to leave lifeboat No. 4. Once aboard the Bibb the Mallory men were taken below, but Hebenton’s service did not end there as he was helping perform artificial respirations on a fellow shipmate. Hebenton remembers he was a naval gunner but could not recall his name.

Looking down on Lifeboat No. 4 of the Mallory from the deck of the Bibb. Hebenton stands on the right side of the mast with his watch cap and lifejacket.
He was the last man to leave this lifeboat.

Because the Bibb could not leave the convoy she stayed at sea fighting U-boats for a full week before making port in Iceland to off load her survivors. That week at sea on the Bibb was just as frightening to the men of the Mallory as the sinking was because it was frequent that the compartment they were in filled with Cordite smoke from the guns firing and lights going out from the explosions of depth charges and the like. The Bibb was so crowded that Hebenton actually slept up on deck with his lifebelt on.

After that long week at sea on the Bibb, she finally made port in Iceland and disembarked her passengers from the Mallory. Dry land was welcomed by every man who had survived but likely their thoughts were of those who were still at sea and would never return. For each man their feelings would be different but each one who survived that morning would be always and forever changed and linked to one another.

Soon enough it was time for another voyage on the sea for the survivors of the Mallory sinking. Many of the survivors were now to go their separate ways and Able Seaman Hebenton was detailed to return to the States. The navy transport USS Chateau Thierry was stopping in Iceland and bound for Boston and Hebenton and several other survivors were detailed to sail with her back to Boston. Hebenton had remarked that he being a civilian merchant mariner the company had taken him off the clock at the moment the Mallory sank. Upon reaching Boston the Mallory’s Merchant Marine survivors were basically dumped off on the dock. Hebenton did not have one dime to his name, only the few clothes he had on and a few basic possessions he had obtained in Iceland. After walking around on the dock in Boston he finally bumped into a man he knew who was then serving in the Coast Guard. Hebenton was able to borrow five dollars from the man that would allow him transportation back home. And back home his parents and family did not know what had happened to him. But his father being in the newspaper business had guess what may have happened and may have thought his son Tom was killed, missing or unknown. So none of the family was aware he was in Boston let alone on the way home. Tom Hebenton’s first stop was at the Boston Post to see his father who was at work at the time to tell him he was alive and well. When he arrived at the Boston Post his father James did not recognize him, but soon enough father and son were again reunited.

Tom Hebenton was then granted 30-day survivor leave and then went right back to sea again, never asking for any special treatment but doing what he needed to do. There was no fan fare for the man who had survived the icy waters of the North Atlantic, only the long days of work ahead on several more ships until finally the war ended. Tom Hebenton had found that he had survived somehow and he knew in his heart that he had done what was required of him and a few times he had done more than what was expected, asking not for any glory for he knew that those who he had left forever at sea deserved better than what fate had given to them.

After the war Thomas Hebenton returned to Massachusetts and took up the trade of his father, that of a printer and typesetter. For the rest of his life Thomas Hebenton worked as a newspaper printer. Thomas and his wife Theo raised 3 children, sons Bruce and Scott and daughter Sandra.

This was the story of Thomas A. Hebenton written from notes from several phone conversations with Thomas who was 90-years old at the time. From the way he recalled the event and the names he gave me I could tell there was not a day that went by that he did not think of that event and those that never returned in some way every day.


Thomas A. Hebenton, August of 1944


First Engineer John Wilbur Alley

John Wilbur Alley was the 1st Engineer aboard the USS Henry R. Mallory and was lost at sea when the Mallory was sunk on February 7, 1943. He was then serving in the United States Merchant Marines and his body was not recovered.

Born on January 8, 1882 to Wilbur R. and Lizzie Alley of Boston Massachusetts. Wilbur R. Alley was born in New Hampshire in July of 1850 and had worked as an express agent early in his life but at the turn of the century he was a Boston city policeman. Wilbur’s first wife and John’s mother was named Lizzie Moore and was born in Boston about 1851. She and Wilbur in June of 1880 were living on Vernon Street in Boston in the home of her parents. Wilbur and Lizzie had two children John Wilbur and Abbie May she was born about 1885, three or so years after her brother John was born. Sometime between 1885 and 1890 Lizzie had likely passed away or gotten divorced, because on the 1900 Federal Census Wilbur was then married to Annie and they had been married for 10-years. Annie and Wilbur had no children together and only had John Wilbur Alley who was then 18-years old living with them.

Annie and Wilbur in June of 1900 were living at 329 Center Street in Boston. Annie was born in September of 1860 and was Canadian by birth, coming to the States in 1880. Wilbur R. Alley was then a Boston City Cop and his son John was working as an office boy.

By the spring of 1910 the Wilbur Alley family consisted of Wilbur R. who was by then widowed from Annie, John Wilbur who was then 28-years old and single working as a fireman at a Boston Hotel, and his younger sister Abbie M. who was 25-years old and single.

By 1918 John Wilbur Alley was then working as a Marine Engineer employed by the United States Shipping Board, likely as an Engineer serving on several merchant ships during WWI. In the third call up of the Federal Draft during WWI John registered in Boston on September 9, 1918 and listed his sister Abbie May as next of kin. At the start of 1920 John Wilbur Alley was still in the Merchant Marines but was now married, her name was Effie A. and she was born about 1891 in Massachusetts. She and John lived in a rented house located at 888 Huntington Road in Boston.

This marriage did not last long likely due to John being as sea so much. With in 10-years time in 1930 John who was now divorced from Effie was living in the home of his younger sister Abbie. She was then married to Guy Cooper who was a piano tuner by trade, and they lived just down the road from where John and Effie had lived on Huntington Road in Boston. John Wilbur Alley was at that time not at sea but was working as an electrical engineer in a local electrical shop in Boston.

But the call of sea life was too strong for John Wilbur Alley and when the USS Henry R. Mallory sailed outbound from New York late in January of 1943 her First Engineer was John Wilbur Alley. The Mallory as she sailed out from New York would never again see the safety of New York, for on the morning of February 7, 1943 she was given a death blow by a German Submarine. First Engineer John Wilbur Alley would not be able to escape the clutches of death that morning and his death came as the Mallory also passed into history. He like so many of his fellow shipmates that day are still on eternal patrol in the waters of the North Atlantic.


Radio Officer Arnold Leon Tangen

Arnold Leon Tangen was one of the Radio Officers serving aboard the USS Henry R. Mallory when she was sunk on February 7, 1943. Tangen did not survive the sinking and his body was never recovered. It will never be known how Mr. Tangen met his death or if he was able to get off the quickly sinking Mallory. If he was able to get off the ship he likely froze as did many of his shipmates who were in the water and not able to get into a life boat.

Arnold L. Tangen was born in February of 1918 to John and Lillian Tangen of Grand Forks, North Dakota. John Tangen was born in Norway on October 1, 1884 and had come to America in 1901. Lillian his wife was born about 1891 in South Dakota. In January of 1920 the family lived at 1025 North Fifth Street in Grand Forks, North Dakota. At that time John and Lillian had two sons, Leland who was 6-years old at the time and 23-month old Arnold. John Tangen worked as an auto mechanic to support his wife and two sons.

By 1930 John, Lillian, Leland and Arnold were still in Grand Forks, North Dakota but now had purchased a home at 1517 North Avenue where John still supported the family working as an auto mechanic. One of the few modern luxuries of the day in 1930 was having a radio set, which the Tangen’s had one in their home.

At some point Arnold when he was a young man joined the United States Merchant Marines and went to sea as a Radioman. Arnold Tangen was serving as one of the Mallory’s Radio Officers on that fateful last voyage. Back in Grand Forks when the news that Arnold Tangen was presumed killed in action at sea, his parents had to come to grips that they would never have a grave stone or place in which they could go to be near Arnold. This would be a heavy burden on the hearts of John and Lillian Tangen for the rest of their lives. Having a son who was killed in action at sea and never having a body to bring home and burry must have been difficult. Today all that remains of Arnold Tangen are these words of remembrance and the unending motion of the surface of the black, icy cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean that covers the spot where the Mallory lies today and those men who perished that day in February 1943.


Chief Engineer Emory Simon Lintz

On July 11 of 1897 a son was born to Lester, Sr. and Annie Lintz. His name is Emory Simon Lintz and is the couple’s first son. The first 3 of the 5 children Lester and Annie had were born in Newton County, Texas but in 1910 the family lived in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lester supported his family working as a millwright for a sawmill in New Orleans. The children of Lester and Annie were eldest son Emory, followed by Edgar, Lester, Jr., Ruth and Lillian.

In 1918 when Emory Lintz was 21-years of age, he was already working as a Marine Engineer for the Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company. The Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company later merged into the AMOCO Oil Company. Emory Lintz may have worked on one of the 31 Lake tankers owned by the company transporting crude oil from the island of Aruba to the refineries in the States. Before the United States entered into WWII in 1941 the German High Command realized the importance of these oil refineries located in Aruba and Curacao, and sent a task force of several U-boats to interrupt the flow of oil in the Caribbean Sea. It is not known for sure if Emory Lintz was still working for the Company at this time but if he was, he may have been witness to U-boat attacks on oil tankers, something that he himself would have to come to grips with several month later. On one attack by German U-boats on the Pan American Lake Tankers took place on February 16, 1942, four tankers, the Pedernalas, Oranjestad, Tia Juana and the San Nicholas, were torpedoed and three sank and the forth, the Pedernalas, was beached with her mid-section destroyed.

As the USS Henry R. Mallory sailed on her last fateful voyage, Emory Simon Lintz was a Chief Engineer in the Mallory’s engineering division, and he would have known all too well the risks of sailing in German U-boat infested waters. It is not known how he met his death, and he was not among those recovered from the sea. Among the names of the Rosters of the World War II Dead is Emory S. Lintz, Service Number 121229, Merchant Marines.


Second Mate Lestor W. Leamon

Very little is known about 2nd Mate Lestor W. Leamon, and even on the list of those killed that day his home of record is not known. It is believed that he was born about 1908 in New York state, and that in 1940 he was living at the Sagamore Hotel located at 111 East Avenue in Rochester, NY. At that time he worked as an engineer for a heating company. At some point between 1940 when he was living in Rochester and the sailing of the Mallory in January of 1943 he must have took work in the Merchant Marine service. 2nd Mate Lestor W. Leamon was killed at sea on February 7, 1943 when the Mallory went down.


Second Engineer Haven LaRue Driggers

Second Engineer Haven LaRue Driggers was the son of John A. Driggers (1869-1910) and Lilla Burnett (1871-1929). Haven was one of at least three children born of John and Lilla, and would have been born about 1902 in Florida, likely in Hillsborough County. Haven LaRue Driggers went to school in Florida but only went through the Sixth-grade. By 1930 Haven now a single man, was still living in Hillsborough County, Florida where he worked as a mechanic for an auto repair shop. At that time he was living with several relatives.

Sometime around 1935 Haven moved from Florida to New York where he got married. His wife’s first name was Catherine, she was 7 years younger than Haven, and she was born in New York. The couple settled in Queens, New York where they lived on 59th Street. Haven at least by April of 1940, had taken a job with the Mallory Steamship Company and was working in the engineering department on one of the company steamships, quite possibly the Henry R. Mallory. It is known that Haven was aboard the Mallory when she left Bahia, Brazil on November 13, 1941 bound for New York via Trinidad, BWI. He was listed as a crewmember on the manifest serving as the 2nd Assistant Engineer, which also noted he had 15-years of sea service, so this would mean he must have started working on ships from at least 1935-36 about the time he moved to New York. He was also aboard the Mallory for the November-December 1942 Boston-Reyjavik-Boston voyage. Haven LaRue Driggers was serving aboard the Mallory as the Second Engineer on the last voyage and sadly he lost his life that day. His body was never recovered.


Fireman/Watertender Stephen Mihalik

Stephen Mihalik was born in Hungary on August 5, 1895 and had come to America at an unknown date. Little is known about Stephen Mihalik except that he was killed in action aboard the USS Henry R. Mallory on February 7, 1943. It is known that on April 27, 1942 Stephen Mihalik was working for the Arch Diocese of Philadelphia in an unknown job. It can be surmised that he was a Catholic and it is probable that he was working in the maintenance department possibly running the heating plants of the church. This is known from the WWII Federal Draft that he was required to fill out. From this draft card we can begin to see a picture of who Stephen Mihalik was. He was a five-foot, nine-inch tall man of 200 pounds, with brown eyes and hair, and had a ruddy complexion. He also had a scar on his left cheek.

The only other thing that is known about Mihalik is that when the USS Henry R. Mallory sailed from New York in January of 1943 Mihalik was a member of her Engine Department serving as a Fireman/Watertender. As a member of the Engineering Division Mihalik had one of the most dangerous jobs on the ship, and from statistics compiled after the war of all the positions held in the Engineering Division of Merchant Mariners the Fireman/Watertender position was the most deadly. Of Merchant Mariners killed during the war Fireman/Watertenders had 647 men killed and the Oilers followed this closely with 621 men killed. Of the total Merchant Mariners killed during the war the total engine room casualties comprised 37% of the deaths, which was the highest rate.

The reason this figure was so high was that if the U-boat commander was accurate in his calculation of the direction, speed, and draft of the Allied ship, the torpedo he fired would hit the center of the ship, right in the engine room.

World War II mariners believed the engine room to be the most dangerous place aboard ship. U-boat commanders aimed their torpedoes at the center. The engine room was far below the water line and filled with steam lines that could rupture from the force of the explosion. It was a perilous climb to safety, up steep metal ladders from the depths of the engine room, with water swirling around your feet, steam hissing, and in total darkness, all while the ship was listing and lurching.

Stephen Mihalik is one of the men whose death makes up the 37% casualty rate of the Engineer Division of Merchant Mariners of WWII. The figure is just a number, 37% but each man had a story, a history, a life, a life well worth remembering. All that remains of Stephen Mihalik today is his name on the list of WWII deaths.

Stephen Mihalik, Merchant Marine, Service Number 318344.


Chief Mate William Martin Broderson

Near the Baltic Sea not far from Kiel, Germany is the town of Eckernforde. Today Eckernforde, Germany is home to the German Navy Submarine fleet, but on November 10, 1886 Eckernforde was the new home of a baby boy born that day. Like so many men from Eckernforde the sea would be his life and William Martin Broderson was that baby boy born that day.

His early life is a bit of a mystery and even his birth date has some mystery to it. On his WWI United States Draft registration document he listed his birth date of May 26, 1886 and place of birth as Denmark. This is in contrast to his WWII United States Draft registration document where he listed his birth date as November 10, 1886. Even his last name carries some mystery as the common spelling on documents was “Broderson” but on his WWII draft registration he signs his name with the Danish spelling of “Brodersen.” There on the WWII Draft document he listed Eckernforde, Germany as his place of birth. It is clear that even today this area of Germany is a mixture of Danish and German histories.

When William Martin Broderson filled out his WWI Draft registration on September 12, 1918 he listed his occupation as a sailor but was unemployed. This may have been explained because at that time due to the war, German sailors were not permitted to sail on allied ships due to security concerns.

After the end of WWI Broderson again found work. By the spring of 1920 he was working for the United States Shipping Board as 3rd Mate aboard the 2,875-ton freighter SS Lake Weir. He spoke both German and English and was not married and was then a Naturalized United States Citizen.

By the time he had to register for the WWII Draft in 1942 he was now married and living in Rochester, Massachusetts. Rose was his wife’s name and William was then working for the Mystic Steamship Company of Boston. The Mystic Steamship Company was a subsidiary of the Boston Tow Boat Company, which had existed from 1919 through 1938. The company operated coal barges from various railroad piers in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Newport News. Two of the Mystic’s tugboats were the Luna and Venus out of Boston. The wooden hulled Luna was delivered to the Company and was the first diesel-powered tugboat delivered to the company.

By late 1942 Broderson had left the Mystic Steamship Company and was now working as the Chief Mate aboard the USS Henry R. Mallory ferrying troops and supplies across the Atlantic during WWII. On the morning of February 7, 1943 Chief Mate Broderson’s life ended when the Mallory was sunk. He may have gotten off the ship and may have been in the same lifeboat as Captain Horace Weaver and Dr. Joseph Grabenstein. But according to Army Chaplain Father Gerald Whelan who survived the sinking, he saw Dr. Grabenstein and Captain Weaver get into the Captains lifeboat but when the Mallory rolled she tipped over this lifeboat and all who were inside were sent awash on the cold waters of the roaring Atlantic, never to be seen alive again.

Chief Mate Broderson did not survive the day and his grave marker today is the water of the Atlantic Ocean. The water of the Atlantic that claimed the life of Chief Mate Broderson reaches all the way to the shores of Eckernforde, Germany, the place that gave life to William Martin Broderson.


Captain Horace Rudolph Weaver, The Last Master of the Mallory


Horace Rudolph Weaver, circa 1941

The last Master of the Henry R. Mallory was Horace Rudolph Weaver, who was Killed in Action as a result of the sinking of the Mallory on February 7, 1943. The end for Captain Weaver and several other men including Dr. Grabenstein, the Mallory’s, ships Doctor, was witnessed by Army Chaplain Father Whelan, who reported as seeing the Captain’s lifeboat getting away from the side of the mortally wounded Mallory when she rolled deeply and swamped the lifeboat and none were seen to survive the swamping of that lifeboat.

When the Mallory left New York days before Captain Weaver had just been made master of the Mallory, but this was not his first trip on the Mallory as he was previously her First Officer. Weaver was a Merchant Mariner and had been with the Clyde-Mallory Line for several years previous to his death.

Horace Rudolph Weaver was born in 1909 in North Carolina to Thomas W. and Agnes Weaver. At the beginning of 1920 the Thomas Weaver family lived at 1114 South 4th Street in Wilmington, North Carolina. Thomas was working as a steel worker for the railroad and he and Agnes had seven children; Madeline (b. abt. 1903), Paul (b. abt. 1905), Lillian (b. abt. 1907), Horace (b. abt. 1909), Aubry (b. abt. 1911), Thomas jr. (b. abt. 1914), and Florine (b. abt. 1916).

After Horace graduated from High School he looked to the Cape Fear River for work. His parents home on 4th Street was only one quarter mile from the waterfront and likely as a young boy Horace may have spent many a day standing on the banks of the Cape Fear River dreaming of where the waters of the Cape Fear would lead to, never dreaming that as a man many years later the waters of the Cape Fear would lead him to his death in the icy cold Atlantic waters southwest of Iceland.

By 1930 at the age of 21, Horace Weaver was working for the Mallory Steamship Lines on the SS Comal as one of her three Quartermasters. The Comal was built in 1885 and scrapped in 1935. She was 340 feet long with 3 decks, and could carry 3,000 bales of cotton. The Comal had rooms for 100 first class passengers, and more in steerage class. The Mallory Line (New York & Texas Steamship Co.) was one of the old family-owned passenger lines in the coastwise passenger and freight trade. There were eight ships on this route, which connected New York with Galveston, Texas with twice-a-week arrivals and departures.

Horace Weaver rose through the ranks of the Mallory Line until he gained his Masters Certificate. When America was drawn into the Second World War, Weaver was serving as the First Officer aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory. In Late December 1942 after the Mallory had returned from her last Reykjavik, Iceland to Boston run, her current Master, J. L. Mobley and a good share of her crew were transferred off the ship. First Officer Horace Weaver was given command of the Mallory and she may have been Weaver’s first ship he was Master of.

The only known descriptions of Captain Weaver’s personality come from one of the Mallory’s crew, Able Seaman Thomas A. Hebenton of the Mallory’s Deck Division. Hebenton would be aboard for that last fateful trip in February 1943 and would survive the sinking that day. Hebenton later recounted the events of the sinking and stated that Captain Weaver was a friendly man, speaking to each man in his deck division who he was near every day. Hebenton stood many a day at the wheel of the Mallory and had many hours in the Mallory’s wheelhouse with Captain Weaver and grew to know him some. Hebenton remarked, “Captain Weaver was a nice guy, he’d even buy us a beer if we were ashore. In the Merchant Marines we were not as spit and polished as the Navy guys were.”

Weaver was only 34-years old when the Mallory sank on February 7, 1943 and he was married. Horace and his wife Francis had 3 children. About 1935 the first child, a son named Thomas Wright was born, followed by another son named Barry. At the time of the sinking of the Mallory Francis, Horace’s wife was expecting another child. It will never be known what Captain Weaver’s last thoughts were as he was being swamped in the lifeboat and thrown into the deadly Atlantic waters on February 7, 1943 but he may have been thinking of his wife and sons and how he would never get to hold that as yet unborn child Francis was still carrying. Francis after the sinking and death of her husband gave birth to a third son and named him Horace R. Weaver, Jr. to honor her husband.

Back home in Wilmington, word of the sinking did not reach the family for some time and it is not known if the Navy listed Captain Weaver as Missing in Action or Killed in Action, but his wife Francis understood she would never see her husband again. All she could do was to look upon the waters of the Cape Fear River and know that they were somehow connected to the waters where Horace Rudolf Weaver forever more rested with many of his countrymen, always and forever on eternal patrol.

Photo of First Officer Horace R. Weaver aboard the Mallory with his wife Francis. Standing in front is the eldest son Thomas Wright Weaver, and Horace is holding his infant son Barry Weaver in his arms. This photo was likely taken about 1941.

On the left is the youngest son of Horace and Francis Weaver. His name is Horace Rudolph Weaver Jr., he was the baby Francis was carry at the time of Captain Weavers death. On the right is Thomas Weaver. He is the son of Wendy Kreger, who is the daughter of Thomas Wright Weaver and the granddaughter of Captain Horace Weaver. Wendy relates about her family, “I would hope that someday my son Thomas can understand my indescribable feeling of pride that I feel towards a man I have never met. My grandfather should never be forgotten and left unknown to the world because of his braveness and determination that the surviving soldiers lived their life after WWII.”


Chief Mate Otto Max Heinrich Zornow

Chief Mate Otto Max Heinrich Zornow
United States Merchant Marines

On February 13, 1887 in the town of Usedom, Germany a boy was born; his name is Otto Max Heinrich Zornow. Growing up along the Baltic Sea coast young Otto saw many sailing ships coming and going. There is little doubt that as a young boy he dreamed of the day he would be a sea captain and take one of the tall ships out to sea on a high adventure. This was a real calling for the young boy and at age 14 he left home for the sea and served before the mast of several sailing ships and later steamships.

In America the American industrialist, railroad magnate and yachtsman Commodore Arthur Curtiss James (1867-1941) had commissioned a seagoing yacht to be built. This was the steel-hulled bark-rigged steam yacht named Aloha. She was a 659 gross ton ship of 218 feet in length with a crew of 39, and completed in 1910 at the Fore River Shipbuilding Company. By then Otto Zornow had held a Masters License and was selected as the Aloha's master. He would be the master for several years sailing her around the world for Commodore James.

During the First World War Otto Zornow was serving on ships in South America in Chilean waters. Later Captain Zornow was the Master of another American industrialist's yacht, George Vanderbilt's schooner yacht Pioneer.

Captain Otto Zornow was not yet an American citizen but on February 6, 1926 in U.S. District Court in New York Zornow was naturalized and finally became an American. Settling in Rhode Island Otto Zornow took a wife. Henrietta was her first name, she was also German born and was seven years younger than Otto.

By 1930 Otto and Henrietta made their home in Newport, Rhode Island where Otto was a ship captain. Otto and Henrietta had one son named Herbert. In 1940 the Zornow family lived in a large wooden two-story home at 20 Hunter Avenue near the intersection of Hunter and Ellery Road. Hunter Avenue is near Easton Bay, which opened out to the vast Atlantic Ocean where Otto spent many days upon the sea.

As America entered into the Second World War merchant ships were being employed to carry troops, munitions, supplies and everything an army would need across the sea. Being too old for military service Otto Zornow volunteered for sea duty in the Merchant Marines. As he held a Masters Card he was quickly put to good use.

In January of 1943 he was given duty aboard the USS Henry R. Mallory as the senior Chief Mate under the command of Captain Horace Weaver. For both Zornow and Weaver this would be their first cruise in their positions. But Captain Weaver had been the First Mate of the Mallory for several voyages prior to being made Master of the ship. But for Chief Mate Zornow this was his first cruise aboard the Mallory, it would as it turned out be his last cruise of his lifetime.

When the Mallory went down on February 7, Otto Zornow was not counted among the survivors. He may have been in the same lifeboat as Captain Weaver when the rolling Mallory swamped it. Those who were said to have seen Captain Weaver's lifeboat when it was swamped never saw anyone alive after that.

Back home in Newport at the Zornow home on Hunter Avenue Mrs. Zornow on February 25 receives a telegram, which she believed would be from Otto asking her to meet him upon his return. But the telegram was not from her beloved Otto; it was from the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Vice Admiral R. R. Waesche. Mrs. Zornow reads the horrible words, “The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your husband Otto Zornow is missing and presumed lost following action in the performance of his duty and in service of his country...” All she could do was to cling to the hope that Otto would be picked up some how, some way. That hope never materialized and her beloved husband would never return from the sea.


Fireman/Water Tender Binito Blanco

During WWII by far the most dangerous jobs to have on civilian merchant vessels were those down in the boiler and engine rooms. This was where the German U-boat captains aimed for their kill shots and men in these spaces aboard the ships had to work down deep in the ship below the waterlines and with live steam that often was more dangerous than the torpedo explosions. Death could come and any moment down deep in the hulls of these merchant ships. Death came to Fireman/Water Tender Binito Blanco in the early morning hours of February 7, 1943 aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory.

Very little is known of Binito except that he was born in Coruna, Spain on September 10, 1892. He had at the age of 23-years old left his home in Spain and traveled to Bordeaux, France where he boarded the steamship SS Touraine for America. It is not known if he came to America alone or with family, and we do not know why or what he left in Spain.

The SS Touraine had been on the Le Harve, France to New York route but due to the outbreak of WWI in 1914 she shifted south to Bordeaux, France to New York and continued this route through September of 1919. Binito Blanco made have been fleeing Spain due to the outbreak of the war seeking safety and employment in America.

Binito arrived in New York City on February 10, 1916 and began his new life in the new world. His search for work likely led him to working on steam ships, and had been working on ships since at least 1921. Binito filled out a Petition for Naturalization papers on September 24, 1930, and on that form he states he is single and lived at 318 West 11th St. in New York, and that he had been working on American merchant vessels for at least the past 3-years or more.

It is known that Binito Blanco was serving as a Fireman aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory as early as November 13, 1941 and may have been serving aboard previous to this date. On a crew manifest for the sailing of the Mallory on November 13 from Bahia, Brazil via Trinidad BWI, to New York, Binito Blanco is listed as a member of the crew. And Binito was aboard the Mallory during the Boston-Reykjavik-Boston run in November-December 1942. On the crew manifest he is listed as being Spanish but was a Naturalized US Citizen, and was 5-feet tall and weighed 135 pounds.

On that last fateful voyage of the SS Henry R. Mallory, Binito Blanco was working as a Fireman/Water Tender, and may have been on duty that morning when the torpedo ripped open the hull of the Mallory. Binito Blanco was killed in action that day on the Mallory and his body was never recovered.

Today all that remains of the boy who was born in Coruna, Spain in 1892 and served and died in 1943 aboard an American merchant vessel in the North Atlantic is this written history. Binito’s home on West 11th Street is a three story red brick apartment building and still stands today. There are six concrete steps with wrought iron railings leading up to the front door of the apartment building, the same steps and railing Binito would have climbed each time he came home from the sea to rest his head on his bed. If you ever pass by this simple red brick apartment on West 11th Street, take a moment and pause touching the railing and remember Binito Blanco the young man from Spain who escaped one war only to be taken by another war.


Ships Butcher, Tony Bogus

On February 7, 1943 there were 230 men saved from the sinking of the SS Henry R. Mallory, one of these men was Anthony “Tony” Bogus. He was a member of the Mallory’s crew and worked as a butcher in the ships galley. Tony Bogus at the time of the sinking was a 32-year old single man who made his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Tony was the eldest son of Apollenia and Wladyslaw Bogus who were from Leipuny, Lithonia and had immigrated to the States sometime between 1905 and 1908. The family name of Bogus may have been Americanized from Bronyslswas when they came to America. Tony’s father Wladyslaw, worked at an Ice Cream plant in Cambridge, Massachusetts to support his growing family.

Apollenia and Wladyslaw Bogus began their family with the birth of Anthony “Tony” Bogus on April 30, 1910 in Cambridge, followed by a daughter named Mary born in 1913, and a second son named Julian born about October of 1917, and lastly another daughter named Veronica born about September of 1918. Sometime after the birth of Veronica and January of 1920 Wladyslaw Bogus passed away leaving Apollenia to care for the family alone.

In January of 1920, Thirty-one year old Apollenia and the 4 children, all under the age of 10, lived at 799 Cambridge Street in Cambridge, in a rented home. Apollenia did the best she could to provide for the family. During the next 10-years it was hard for the Bogus family to make enough to live on, but as the two elder children Tony and Mary grew up very fast they began to provide for the family. In April of 1930 Apollenia and the 4 children had moved to a new home located at 189 West 9th Street in Boston, Massachusetts where Tony was then working at a restaurant cooking, and Mary was working at a factory as a packer. The Rent per month at the home on 9th Street was $20, which after paying for food to feed the five in the family did not leave much left over at the end of the month. But somehow the Bogus family survived in Boston.

It is not known why or when Tony Bogus sought work on merchant ships but what is known is that on the last voyage of the SS Henry R. Mallory Tony Bogus worked as a butcher aboard the ship and was a survivor of the sinking. Being that Tony Bogus was not listed among the crew of the Mallory on January 9, 1943 when the ship arrived in Boston, it is assumed he joined the Mallory in Boston after she arrived from Iceland. Being that for the last voyage most of the crew of the Mallory was replaced with new crewman in Boston this seems logical that he joined the crew there in Boston.

Little is known of how Bogus survived the day of the sinking but at day’s end he was among the twenty men the Cutter Ingham had plucked from the icy cold Atlantic to safety. The Ingham dropped off the Mallory survivors on Iceland, and when they had recuperated the company made arrangements to bring them back to the states. On March 22, 1943 six Merchant Marine officers and Tony Bogus along with 26 fellow surviving Mallory’s crew boarded the USAT Chateau Thierry in Reykjavik, Iceland bound for Boston. On the USAT Chateau Thierry’s passenger manifest Tony Bogus listed his brother Julian Bogus as next of kin and 89 Allston Street in Cambridge as his home address, which was Julian’s address.

Now back home in the Boston area Tony Bogus did not stay away from the sea, and he kept on working in the Merchant Marines throughout the war and possibly beyond. On January 1, 1944 he is listed as a crew member of the USAT George W. Goethals as a 3rd Butcher. The Goethals was then sailing from Glasgow, Scotland to New York transporting troops and supplies.

Nothing more is known about Tony Bogus or when he passed away, but his example of service to his fellow Countrymen may have inspired at least one of his relatives. The nephew of Tony Bogus, Julian Anthony “Skip” Bogus, Jr, (b. May 28, 1942 d. June 6, 2010) who was the son of Julian Bogus, served in the United States Air Force during the Viet Nam War.


Boatswain Isaac Ferdinand Josiah Ennis

In 1943 one of the few places in American society that was integrated was the United States Merchant Marines. There on the sea it did not matter what color your skin was, only if you could do the job or not was what mattered. Isaac Ferdinand Josiah Ennis was one such man who could do the job of a Boatswain aboard a United States Merchant ship sailing in dangerous waters during wartime. On February 7, 1943 Ennis was serving as part of the SS Henry R, Mallory’s crew as a Boatswain, and he survived the sinking being picked up by the cutter Bibb.

Isaac Ferdinand Josiah Ennis was a professional mariner who just happened to be a black man from Jamaica, British West Indies, who was born on June 7, 1889 in Jamaica. As early as 1908 Ennis was serving as a seaman aboard the SS Zaria, a British and African Steam Navigation Company Ltd passenger-Cargo steamship, plying the West Africa to Liverpool route. For at least the next 45-years Ennis would work his trade of a mariner aboard many ships.

Just some of the ships Ennis would work on during his working days were the SS Zaria, SS Salaga, SS Oriente, SS Iroquois, SS Badagry, SS Marine Tiger, RMS Queen Elizabeth, SS African Planet, SS Chateau Thierry, SS Catherine M. Goulandris, SS Sea Veteran, and the SS Henry R. Mallory.

Before the First World War Ennis was a single man and was a British subject where his home of record was Liverpool, England. On September 2, 1918 Ennis married Prudence Ashcroft in Liverpool, England. While living in Liverpool, Isaac and Prudence Ennis had two children, Beryl born on September 29, 1919, and Harold born on September 25, 1921. At the time Ennis was working aboard the SS Badagry, an Elder Dempster & Co. Ltd. ship operated by the British Steamship Lines then on service for the New York, Canary Islands, West African, and Belgian and Portuguese Congo Ports route.

While Isaac was working aboard the SS Badagry he had decided to move his family from Liverpool to America and on April 10, 1923 Isaac and his wife Prudence and their two children came to America taking a residence at 109 West 111th Street in New York City. While living in America Isaac and Prudence added to their family with the birth of a daughter named Dorothy who was born on June 23, 1924. Isaac Ennis would become a United States citizen on November 19, 1941.

When in January of 1943 the SS Henry R. Mallory left Boston on the start of her ill-fated last voyage she had a mostly green crew. But one of the very few of her crew who had sailed aboard the Mallory was Boatswain Isaac Ennis. It is known that Ennis had been aboard the Mallory since at least September of 1941. He was listed as a member of the crew serving as a Boatswain on September 22, 1941 when the Mallory left Bahia, Brazil bound north for New York. Ennis was known to sail aboard the Mallory for seven trips until his eight and final trip aboard the Mallory. Those voyages were:

September 22, 1941 Bahia, Brazil to New York to Bahia, Brazil
November 13, 1941 Bahia, Brazil to New York to Bahia, Brazil
January 5, 1942 Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Brazil, and Port of Spain, Trinidad to New York to Santos, Brazil
March 5, 1942 Santos, Brazil to New York to Santos, Brazil
June 8, 1942 Santos Brazil to New York
August 21, 1942 New York to Newport, Wales to New York
October 26, 1942 New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia to Boston, Massachusetts
January 9, 1943 Boston, Massachusetts to New York to Reykjavik, Iceland where she was sunk of February 7, 1943

Boatswain Isaac Ennis on February 7, 1943 survived the sinking and the facts are not known of how he was able to get off the ship alive, but he may have been on duty at the time of the attack and not down below decks, which may help explain how he was able to get off the ship. He was rescued by the Cutter Bibb and was taken to Iceland. Once the men from the Mallory had time for some recuperation from the sinking the company had made plans for their men. Ennis and at least 27 men and 6 officers of the Mallory’s crew boarded the USAT Chateau Thierry in Reykjavik on April 12, 1943 bound for Boston where they would be assigned to new merchant vessels. Once in Boston it is not known if Ennis worked on ships during the remaining years of the war. It is possible that he did but no records seem to indicate that he did. It is known that he also sometimes worked as a painter and may have just decided to work as a painter, which likely may have seemed as a much safer occupation than working on ships during a war.

But the sea life again called to Isaac Ennis and somehow in the summer of 1947 Ennis was in France and took another job on a ship in July of 1947. The RMS Queen Elizabeth was then on the Liverpool, Southampton, Le Havre and New York route and Ennis was listed as a crewman on July 15, 1947 when the Queen Elizabeth left Le Havre, France bound for New York.

Once in New York Ennis left the Queen Elizabeth and took work on another ship. This would be the 12,420 ton United States Lines SS Marine Tiger, which was built in 1945 as a troop transport. The Marine Tiger was a C4 Class ship of which there were 75 of this type ship made during the war. After the war the Marine Tiger was chartered to the United States Lines for the USL’s New York-Plymouth-Cherbourg-Bremen-Southampton-Cherbourg-Queenstown-New York route. Ennis would work aboard the Marine Tiger through at least September of 1948.

For at least two-years from 1950-52 Ennis would work aboard the SS African Planet on the Cape Town, South Africa to New York route. Then in 1953 Ennis worked aboard the SS Sea Veteran in the Pacific then working the Seattle, Washington to Okinawa, Japan route.

Ennis’s last ship he was known to work on was the former Liberty Ship ran by the Universal Cargo Carriers Corp. the SS Catherine M. Goulandris then employed on the Seattle, Washington to Yokohama, Japan route. Ennis was then a 40-year old man and was listed on the December 26, 1953 crew manifest as a Boatswain who was 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighed 180 pounds.

It is not known if Ennis worked on ships past December of 1953 but by that time he would have had at least 45-years or so of life at sea. It is assumed that Isaac and Prudence his wife lived the remaining years of their lives in New York City. It is known that Isaac F. J. Ennis passed away in April of 1963 at the age of 73.


This small photo of Isaac Ennis is from his Declaration of Intention form he filled out on January 8, 1938 to start the process of becoming a Naturalized Citizen.
His signature “Isaac Ennis” is written below his picture.


Messman John Edward Stephens, Service No. 319612

During World War Two Harvard, Massachusetts gave three of her sons in the ultimate sacrifice of life to the war and its final Victory. The first casualty from the city of Harvard was a 41-year old man by the name of John Edward Stephens. He was at the time of his death serving in the Merchant Marines as a Messman aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory then being under contract as a Troopship carrying men and supplies to Europe across the North Atlantic sea lanes.

Stephens was born in St. Johns, New Brunswick, Canada on May 16, 1901, and was the only son of Maude and Joseph Stephens. The Stephens family in May of 1913 decided they would immigrate to America and boarded the SS Governor Cobb in St. Johns, New Brunswick and arrived in Boston on May 8, 1913. The Governor Cobb was a 300-foot long steam-turbine passenger ship built in 1906, operated by the Eastern Steamship Company then employed on the Boston to New Brunswick, Canada route.

By June of 1919 Stephens and his parents were living in the Boston area at 53 Rush Street in Somerville, Massachusetts where at age 18 John Stephens was working for the railroad as a brakeman on a freight train.

When the 1920 Federal Census was taken on January 7, 1920 on Rush Street, the Stephens family was still living there. This was a large two family dwelling, which has since been torn down and presently sets on the grounds of the East Somerville Community School buildings. But in 1920 the two families were the Charles, Florence and Dorothy Shay family and the Stephens family. Living as a lodger with the Stephens family was 42-year old David Boner who worked in a meat market. John Stephens father Joseph then worked as an elevator car operator in a bank building. John Stephens had now taken a new job that of an oiler working aboard merchant vessels at sea.

John Stephens was now working for the Sun Oil Company otherwise known as Sunoco Oil, on one of the company’s fleet of oil tankers. Stephens worked as an Oiler aboard the 81,000-barrel tanker SS Sabine Sun. Being that Stephens was not yet a Naturalized American Citizen when he came back into the States to live he had to fill out a Certificate of Arrival document. On October 26, 1920 in the port of New York, Stephens entered the country from the SS Sabine Sun, likely at the end of his working on the tanker. The SS Sabine Sun had arrived in New York coming from Port Lobos, in Mexico with a load of oil. He likely kept on working aboard merchant vessels as again on January 27, 1921 he filled out another Alien Certificate to enter the States again.

In the early spring of 1927 Stephens and his parents were then living at No. 138 Middlesex Road in Chestnut, Massachusetts and was then presently working at a hotel as a janitor. It was on April 23, 1927 in U. S. Federal Court in Boston that John Edward Stephens officially declared his intentions to become a United States Citizen by filling out the required papers. This then began the process of gaining his United States Citizenship. At the time he filled out the forms he listed his occupation as “radio service.” He was five-feet, eight-inches tall weighing 135 pounds with light brown hair and blue eyes. He also had part of his left index finger missing. Stephens was still a single man at the time.

It would not be until May of 1932 that the Government would finally get around to having two witnesses testify stating they had known John Edward Stephens and could be a witness to his character for at least 10-years, by signing his Petition for Citizenship. It is assumed that about that time he was granted full citizen status.

About 1933 John Edward Stephens had married, his wife’s name was Katherine who was then about 21-years old born in Vermont. About 1934 John and Katherine had their first child a daughter they named Maude after John’s mother. At the time Katherine gave birth to Maude they were in Canada as Maude is listed as being born in Canada on the 1930 Federal Census. They may have been visiting friends or family at the time. About a year later in 1935 John, Katherine and Maude were living in Harvard, Massachusetts when Katherine gave birth to a son named Robert. John by 1940 was then working general labor to make ends meet.

About this same time John Stephens bought a piece of land on the Lancaster County Road that runs southwest off of Ayer Road in Harvard and built a home for his growing family. Working jobs during the day John found the time to build this home by himself along the quite country road that was perfect to raise a family on, which was not an easy task in the later depression years.

Life at the Stephens home on Lancaster County Road would change significantly on January 16, 1942, although at the time everything seemed like it would be ok. It was on that day that John Stephens took a new job, this may have been due to jobs being scarce or it may have been an opportunity to make much more than he could doing day labor jobs, but whatever the reason it was an ominous change to the Stephens family. This new job was a familiar job for John, working at sea aboard merchant vessels, although now that America was at war this job now carried with it a deadly side effect.

At the time on January 16, 1942 the SS Henry R. Mallory was in port at Boston and was taking on new crew for service in transporting army troops and supplies to Europe across the deadly U-boat infested waters of the North Atlantic. But John Stephens wanted to do his patriotic duty for his new adopted homeland, and the fact that he did have sea going merchant experience was the reason he signed on as a member of the crew of the SS Henry R. Mallory. Stephens was put to work as a Messman working in the galley of the Mallory feeding the hungry troops she would carry within her holds.

On February 7, 1943 out at sea, Messman John Edward Stephens at 04:00 hours may have been up and working in the galley of the Mallory or he may have been asleep in his bunk dreaming of his wife and two children back home, but the fact is we will never know what John’s last moments alive were like. The horrible truth is that when the Mallory was gone from the surface of the sea, John Edward Stephens life was already gone or he may have been alive floating on the surface of the sea in the deadly cold waters with only moments of his life left, he sadly was not among the few men rescued that horrible cold gray day. He had only been aboard the Mallory for 22-days and now he was gone.

Back home in the house he had built on Lancaster County Road his wife Katherine and children Maude and Robert were safe. No one will ever know what Katherine felt there on the day her husband’s life was taken or if she even had any feelings that something had happened. It was likely weeks before word even reached her that John was presumed lost. How does a young mother tell her two children that the father who had built the home that keeps them safe and warm will never return from the sea and is now gone forever? Life for the Stephens family was now and forever more changed.

By law at the time when a service member was reported as missing a waiting period of a year and a day had to pass before legally they could be considered dead. That event took place for Katherine Stephens in the form of a letter from Vice-Admiral Emory S. Land, which stated in part, “Nothing I can do or say will, in any sense, requite the loss of your loved one. He has gone, but has gone in honor and in the goodly company of patriots.” This letter also was accompanied by the United States Merchant Mariner’s Medal for John Edward Stephens death while on active service on a U. S. Merchant Vessel during the war.

Katherine now had the difficult task of raising the two children alone in Harvard, Massachusetts. She did so as best she could, and both children graduated from Bromfield in the 1950’s. Katherine would later remarry, and in 1986 she sold the house that John had built taking the many memories with her forever of the times her beloved husband worked with his own hands to build for his family.


© 2005-2016 Joe Hartwell. This page was first up-loaded on 2 February 2006 and last modified on: February 18, 2017