If you have a family member or know of someone who was on the SS Henry R. Mallory please e-mail me and I will add that mans story with his shipmates.
My name is Bill Deyak. I went into the Navy in 1942. I was on the Mallory because I was given a temporary duty assignment in Iceland. Later I was assigned to the USS O'Reilly which became my permanent ship.
On Feb. 6, 1943 one of the officers of the Mallory asked me if I would stand a post. I said I would. I figured then he must have known something was wrong. My job at my post was to get the life rafts free and get people in the life rafts.
I went to bed that night with all my clothes on to protect me from hypothermia if anything happened. I think this saved my life later. When the torpedo hit us there was a tremendous explosion which blew me out of my bunk. I headed up to the hatch but I couldn't get the hatch to open. I started banging on it with a dogging wrench. There was something on top of it keeping it from opening. Pretty soon somebody opened it from on top and we got out. I headed for my post to get the life rafts free. There was nothing to cut the lines with to free the life rafts, we had to untie them by hand. I would say most everybody was pretty levelheaded and calm during this time. There were two army soldiers who didn't want to get on a raft, I tried to tell them the ship was sinking, but they still didn't want to go. Finally I picked one of them up and threw him in the water. The second guy still didn't want to go, so I told him I would throw him in too if he didn't go on his own. Finally he did go on a raft. When we got all the life rafts off that I was responsible for I got on a raft with C. C. Pacifico (he is listed with the survivors picked up by the USCGC Ingham) and about 10 or 12 other guys. I don't remember all their names. I would say I was one of the last to leave the ship.
Our raft did not capsize like some of the rafts did, but it was rough and we were constantly battered and splashed by the waves. The Deck log from the USCGC Ingham says the winds were 6 knots, dry bulb temperature was 47 degrees and water temperature was 50 degrees. At least half of us had hypothermia by the time we were rescued by the Ingham. The Ingham's deck log also says the Ingham rescued survivors from 12:10 p.m. until about 3:45 p.m. I was told that I was among the last rescued so we were in the raft about 8 to 10 hours. I was suffering from severe hypothermia by the time I was rescued and I still have a lot of stiffness in my legs today from this. I was in the infirmary on the Ingham for several days and was in the hospital in Rejkavic, Iceland for a while also.
After I got out of the Navy all of my records were lost, I would appreciate hearing from anyone who could tell me where I might get records from the infirmary of the Ingham.
William F. "Bill" Deyak
This story and photo was given to me by the step-son of Thomas E. Wilson who went down on the USS Henry R. Mallory when she was sunk on February 7, 1943. Below is a reprint of an article from the Coshocton Tribune with a letter from the Secretary of the Navy informing his wife on the status of Thomas Wilson. William H. Matthews is the step-son of Thomas E. Wilson. In 1938 Thomas E. Wilson married William Matthews mother. William is an Air Force veteran and served during the Korean war era.
Reported Missing Year Ago, Navy Man Now Presumed Dead
A letter received Friday afternoon from Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox blasted all hope for Mrs. Irene Wilson that her husband, reported missing one year ago, might still be alive. Thomas E. Wilson, who was one of the first Coshocton, Ohio men to be reported missing in the war, went down in a torpedoed ship in the mid-Atlantic last February. His wife, who lives at 871 Chestnut St., learned that he was missing on March 4, 1943. Wilson, who was a baker third class in the Navy, entered service September 10, 1942. He had served nine years with Battery F of the Ohio National Guard. He was 27. Wilson was born May 14, 1915, at West Lafayette, Ohio, the son of Laura and Thomas Wilson of Coshocton, Ohio. He is survived by his wife and stepson, William H. Matthews; his parents, two brothers, Grover Wilson, Coshocton, Earl Wilson, U.S. Army; three sisters, Mrs. Stella Tatro, Cleveland, Mrs. Mary Nelson and Dorothy Wilson, both of Coshocton.
The letter from Secretary Knox reads:
Julie Dunckel shared with me about her father Francis J. Dunckel, Chief Motor Machinist's Mate (AA) (T), USNR. At the time of the sinking of the Mallory, Dunckel was a Mo.M.M. 2c aboard the Mallory. He survived the sinking and was later promoted to Chief Motor Machinist Mate and was Honorably Discharged from the Navy on Christmas Day 1945 and passed away 13 July 2002.
Julie relates about her father and the sinking of the Mallory; "My father never really talked much about the time the Mallory was torpedoed. He mentioned a few times that there were not many around him, in the water or on life rafts, who survived. The last days of his life he was not very coherent and his brother believes he may have been mumbling about the time he spent in the water. My uncle believes he never really came to terms with what happened to him. Although he survived, he knew that many did not. I know my father was very proud to have served his country, but he just didn't talk much about that night."
John William Burns was a young man of 19 years, fresh out of basic training from Newport, RI when he was assigned to his first and only ship, the SS Henry R. Mallory. Burns was a Rhode Island native living in Providence and joined the navy because he wanted to see the world. While serving on the Mallory, John W. Burns was a Fireman 2nd class. He did not survive the sinking and is listed among the men who died that horrible day, February 7, 1943.
John Burns had a younger brother named Robert Joseph Burns who also joined the navy during WWII and was in basic training at Newport, RI when he was told about his brother John being listed as MIA when the Mallory went down. The Navy was going to release Robert Joseph but he refused, staying in the navy and serving through the end of WWII in the Pacific.
Robert V. Burns the son of Robert Joseph and the nephew of John W. Burns, recalls that he heard many stories of John from his father, and what a great baseball player he was. Robert V. feels like he actually knew his uncle, although he was killed 14 years before he was born. Robert V. Burns relates, "When I look at these pictures I can’t help but to think, he was just like his little brother (my dad), tough as nails but a heart as good as gold."
The Burns family has a long tradition of men who joined the Navy. John W. Burns and his younger brother, Robert Joseph both serving during WWII and as did their father who had served in the navy during the First World War. Following in the family tradition of Burns men serving this Country in the military, Robert V. Burns proudly served in the Army with the 103rd Field Artillery. The Burns family tradition of military service is still continuing today as two of John W. Burns’s great-nephews, Bobby Burns and Tony Ricky are currently serving with the U.S. Navy. Interesting enough Tony Ricky is now a Navy Recruiter serving in Newport, RI, the same place John W. Burns took his basic training at.
The memory of the loss of Fireman John W. Burns on the Mallory, Sunday February 7, 1943 will never be forgotten in the Burns family. John W. Burns will always stand on the thin line of men who have given their lives to protect our Country, and his death stirred within his younger brother Robert J. Burns a feeling of duty to our Country. When he refused to be released from service when the news of John’s death on the Mallory came, Robert J. Burns was saying to the world that his brothers life was not lost but given for an ideal that the Burns family holds Freedom in the highest regard, one that six Burns family men have upheld from WWI through today.
|John William Burns pictured with his girfriend, her first name was Dotty. This was taken in August of 1942 before John went into the Navy.||John W. Burns and Dotty with her kid brother taken in December of 1942 likely at Dotty's home.||This photo is also taken during December of 1942. John has Dotty's kid brother pinned under him. You can see part of his leg there by John's right arm. By the looks of the outline of the shadow a woman took this photo and it is likely that Dotty took them.||Fireman 2c, John William Burns, USN. Possibly one of the last photos taken of him in December 1942.|
CM1c James Krohl
|Karl T. Krohl who is the son of CM1c James Krohl relates this story about his father surviving the sinking of the Mallory on the night of February 7th 1943. James Krohl grew up in North Syracuse, New York and was a carpenter by trade and married his sweetheart, Jane Banach on April 26, 1941 and their first of eight children was born in June 1942, a girl named Darlene. James Krohl enlisted in the Navy on October 5, 1942 along with his twin brother, Bernard (Bernard Krohl served in the South Pacific during WWII). After basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois, James was off to New York City and Long Beach, NY where he was assigned to the crew of the SS Henry R. Mallory as a carpenters mate.
James Krohl survived the sinking of the Mallory largely because he had gotten off his watch earlier and was wide-awake in his bunk when they were hit. "Dad didn't speak much of that night, but occasionally, after a few drinks and lots of prodding he would reluctantly give a brief recounting while showing his Bronze Star to me and my younger sisters," recalls his son, Karl Krohl.
Karl continues, "According to my father, the Marines on board were almost all lost as they took the hit almost directly to their quarters. In the scramble that ensued, dad realized he was trapped below deck with men piling up at the exits. It was then that he was grabbed by a shipmate who said 'Jimmy, follow me!' (Dad remembered his name, but it is unknown to me.) This sailor knew a way up to the main deck through an airshaft, so dad and several others were saved because of this man." Karl feels that because many men were lost that day, he was certain that this haunted his father for the rest of his life. "Once on deck he was forced to jump and was soon picked up by some men on a raft. My father was rescued by the US Coast Guard Cutter Bibb."
After the sinking, James Krohl was stationed at Camp Knox, Iceland and later at Little Creek, Virginia and Norfolk, VA. He was awarded the Bronze Star, presumably for his efforts to get as many men out through the airshaft before the Mallory went down. James Krohl was honorably discharged and separated from the Navy on October 27, 1945 at the rating of CM1c (Carpenters Mate First Class).
On March 22, 1994, James Krohl passed away and was survived by his wife and seven of his eight children and many grandchildren. His first daughter, Darlene passed away in 2002.
Grave stone of Cyril P. Hessler
MMRM3 Cyril Paul Hessler, USN
The following was supplied to me by Sharon Parsons, the daughter of Cyril Hessler.
Cyril Paul Hessler was born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 7, 1915. His place of entry into active service with the U.S. Naval Reserve was in St. Louis on November 2, 1942 at the age of 27. Cyril did not need to enlist, as he had a deferment due to his job at Hussmann Refrigeration. But his wife, Arleen, recalls that Cyril felt badly that so many others had joined the service, that he decided he needed to do his part.
It is believed Cyril was then sent to the Naval Operating Base at Norfolk, VA. He was rated a Shipfitter 3rd class for 20 months, and Machinist Mate Refrigeration Mechanic 3rd class for the last 5 months of his Navy career.
Cyril’s first assignment was on the merchant marine ship Henry R. Mallory, where he was one of 173 Navy personnel on board bound for Iceland when the ship departed from the Brooklyn Naval Yard on or about January 23, 1943.
While his family does not have a detailed accounting of his time on the Henry R. Mallory, they have bits and pieces as relayed to them over the years by Cyril, one of 73 Navy survivors of the sinking when the ship was torpedoed by the German U-boat U-402 on February 7, 1943 minutes before 4:00 a.m.
During the evening of February 6th, Cyril’s fellow Navy shipmate, William G. Jehling, Jr., Rank SF3, had asked Cyril if he wanted to play cards in an area of the Mallory unknown to his family. For some reason Cyril declined the invitation to play cards, and stated that had he accepted, he would have perished with his shipmate, as the torpedo struck an area of the Mallory near William, and he was killed.
When the torpedo struck, Cyril was thrown from his bunk. At first things were relatively calm, but soon there was much chaos and confusion. This transition was undoubtedly due to the fact that the Mallory sunk within a short period of time after being struck.
Cyril made it to one of the lifeboats, but experienced severe back pain and was unable to row. It is not known which lifeboat he was in. It is believed that he was in one of the lifeboats rescued by the USCGC Bibb, another part of his story that may never be resolved.
Cyril’s back was never the same after the Mallory incident. He experienced persistent back pain, which eventually led to his Honorable Discharge in 1945 from the U.S. Navy Hospital in Virginia.
It is not known for how long, but Cyril did reveal to family members that his experience on the Henry R. Mallory, and the tragic loss of his fellow shipmate, caused him to suffer recurring nightmares.
While the family does not know the specifics of Cyril’s contact with the widow of his fellow shipmate, William Jehling, Jr., who perished on board the Mallory, his family possesses a letter from William’s wife, Marjorie, to Cyril, thanking him for writing her, even though his letter brought bad news. She further stated in her letter “I have joined the women’s Marine Corp, now awaiting my call, and I hope that if Bill is above, which I know he is, that he is proud of me, and with God’s help that I do as good a job as he did”. William’s name does appear on an internet list of Navy personnel who were killed on board the Henry R. Mallory.
Cyril suffered a debilitating heart attack in 1994, and died at his home in Missouri on August 6, 1996. He donated his body to science through Washington University. He will always be remembered by his family, relatives and friends as a fun-loving guy who loved to tell a good joke, with a curious, inventive mind. Cyril spent much of his working life as a Master Plumber.
Cyril is survived by his wife Arleen, 86, four daughters and one son. Having learned more about the sinking of the Henry R. Mallory in 1943, his family has a much greater appreciation of the terrible tragedy itself, and that Cyril’s survival was nothing short of a miracle. It was not from lack of interest that his family does not have a full accounting of Cyril’s experience, but more so because he did not openly talk about it. Like some of the other survivor stories we have read, not everyone was able to relive what happened when the Mallory was sunk.
In 2007, one of Cyril’s daughters in Des Moines, Iowa, applied for a memorial headstone for Cyril at Jefferson Barracks Military Cemetery in St. Louis, MO. His headstone was put in place on August 15th, and is engraved that he was a survivor of the Henry R. Mallory.
God Bless all of the survivors of the Henry R. Mallory, and may all those who perished rest in eternal peace. The Hessler family extends their heartfelt sympathy to the families, relatives and friends who lost their loved ones that fateful night.
Robert Donaghue was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and enlisted in the Navy reporting for duty on January 16, 1942. He reported to the Philadelphia Naval Reserve Station before hading for basic training at the Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island.
After basic training he was shipped to Norfolk, Virginia, and then to the Armed Guard Training School at Little Creek, Virginia. After Armed Guard training he reported to the Armed Guard Center in Brooklyn, New York.
S1c Donaghue served on board the newly commissioned SS Samuel Chase on runs to Murmansk, Russia. He came on board in April 1942. He was a member of the gun crew that received a unit citation for courage during the ill-fated PQ-17 convoy to Russia in June and July 1942. While on the Samuel Chase Donaghue would have served with Seaman Wolf, Jenkins, Doyle and Dixon, all serving both on the Samuel Chase and the Mallory. Four of the five men, Donaghue, Dixon, Wolf and Jenkins were lost at sea that night on the Mallory, only Seaman Doyle was rescued.
His next duty station was on board the SS Henry R. Mallory coming on board in November 1942. Seaman Donaghue was reported missing in action when the Mallory was sunk on February 7, 1943. He was listed as M.I.A. and presumed dead on February 8, 1944.During his service he was awarded the WWII Victory medal and Lapel pin and a Purple Heart.
John Dixon was born in Merion, Pennsylvania, and enlisted in the Navy reporting for duty on January 16, 1942. He reported to the Philadelphia Naval Reserve Station before heading to basic training at the Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island. After basic training he was shipped to Norfolk, Virginia, and then to Armed Guard Training School at Little Creek, Virginia.
S1c Dixon served on board the newly commissioned SS Samuel Chase on runs to Murmansk, Russia. He came on board in April 1942. He was a member of the gun crew that received a unit citation for courage during the ill-fated PQ-17 convoy to Russia in June and July of 1942.
His next duty station was on board the SS Henry R. Mallory coming on board in November 1942. Seaman Dixon was reported missing in action when the Mallory was sunk on February 7, 1943. He was listed as M.I.A. and presumed dead on February 8, 1944.
During his service he was awarded the WWII medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign medal and a Purple Heart.
Written by his son, Edward T. Doyle, Jr, PhD
Edward Thomas Doyle was the son of Simon G. Doyle and prior to enlisting in the Navy he lived with his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. James Dougherty of Media, PA. Edward attended Nether Providence Township and graduated from St. Robert's High school. Edward was active in athletics playing baseball and football. To his close friends Edward was known as "Ducky" Doyle. He worked at the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company before enlisting in the Navy.
S1C Edward T. "Ducky" Doyle
On December 14, 1941, less than a week after Pearl Harbor, my father, Edward “Ducky” Doyle, and a group of friends enlisted in the Navy at the Naval Reserve Station Philadelphia. Apprentice Seaman Doyle, USNR, reported for duty on January 15, 1942.
On January 17th he was transferred to the Naval Training Center in Newport, Rhode Island. After recruit training he was transferred to Norfolk, Virginia, Fifth Naval District and on March 23rd was transferred to the Armed Guard Training School, Little Creek, Virginia. By April 14th he was transferred to the Armed Guard Center, Brooklyn, New York, and assigned to Gun Crew #256E. On April 20th, he was detached as a member of the Armed Guard Unit on board the SS Samuel Chase with a rate change from S2c to S1c.
On board the Samuel Chase, he was assigned to convoy duty between the United States, Iceland, and Murmansk, Russia, including duty during the ill-fated convoy PQ-17. After sailing from Iceland on June 27, 1942, the Chase and the other 33 ships were attacked on July 2 by German planes. The attacks continued over the next few days with planes and submarines. The convoy was eventually ordered to scatter and each ship was left to their own devices. Six near-misses on July 10th caused heavy damage snapping steam lines and blowing the compass out of the binnacle causing the crew to abandon ship at one point. Only 5 of the original 33 ships made it to Murmansk-Archangel from PQ-17. Historian Samuel Elliot Morrison called the convoy “the grimmest convoy battle of the entire war.” Morrison lauded the Navy Armed Guard crews of the Chase and two other ships, the Washington and the Daniel Morgan. The Chester Times, the local newspaper in Delaware County, Pennsylvania reported:
“Media Seaman Is Decorated” Edward T. Doyle, Media, was one of four members of a gun crew on a merchant vessel who were decorated for courage during a recent combat, the Fourth Naval District announced today. Others were Robert A. Donaghue and William H. Mayer, of Philadelphia, and John J. B. Dixon of Narberth.
On February 7th the Mallory as part of SC#118 (#33) was torpedoed some 600 miles SSW of Iceland. The Mallory was carrying a cargo of clothing, food, trucks, and cigarettes as well as 610 bags of mail along with 383 passengers, a crew of 77 and an Armed Guard of 34. The ship sank within thirty minutes. There were 270 men lost. 224 were rescued.
Ducky Doyle was rescued by the USS Bibb along with another 204 survivors some 6 to 8 hours after the sinking. Sadly, many of his friends and Armed Guard personnel were lost including John Dixon and Robert Donaghue, whom he had known since the day he enlisted some two years earlier. After rescuing the Mallory personnel, the Bibb returned to convoy duty for a week before putting in at Reykjavik, Iceland, on the Sunday, February 14th at 1900 to discharge survivors. Ducky was detached to the USS Chateau Thierry for transport to the states.
On Thursday, May 27, 1943, he was transferred to Washington, DC, for duty on board the USS Dauntless. The USS Dauntless was moored at the Washington DC Navy Yard, Pier 1 in the Potomac River and was the flagship of Admiral King, Chief of Naval Operations. During duty on board the USS Dauntless he witnessed a cast of dignitaries who visited the ship. During his year long tour the visitors included Secretary of Navy Knox, Under Secretary of War Patterson, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief Admiral Leahy, Admiral Halsey, Army Chief of Staff General Marshall, General Arnold, General Vandergrift, Vice Admiral Horne, Vice Admiral Waesche, and Vice Admiral McCain. All were on board late into the evening on Monday, January 24, 1944.
In addition, on March 6, 1944 visitors included Secretary of Navy Knox, Secretary of War Stimson, Admiral Nimitz, General Arnold, General Vandergrift, Vice Admiral Horne, Vice Admiral Mc Cain, Lieutenant-General Vandergrift, Rear Admiral Sherman, and British personnel including Staff General Dill, Head of the British Naval Delegation, Admiral Noble, Air Marshall Welsh, and Lieutenant General MacReady.
Deck logs during this period of time indicate President Roosevelt’s two Presidential yachts, the USS Potomac and the USS Sequoia tied up alongside the Dauntless. On April 29, 1944 USS Dauntless Deck logs report that pursuant to orders Edward Thomas Doyle was transferred to the Receiving Station, New York City for duty on board the USS Abnaki, a newly commissioned Fleet Ocean Tug operating along the east coast. Just prior to the Abnaki being ordered to Oran, Algeria, Ducky was transferred to the Minecraft Training Center in Little Creek, Virginia, from May 17th to June 2, 1944. He was detailed on June 2, 1944 to Brooklyn, New York, for duty on board the Minesweeper YMS-462 and was on board when the Minesweeper was commissioned.
In April 1945 orders transferred him to NAV TRA SCHNaval Training School Gunner’s Mate Electric Hydraulics School at the Washington, DC Navy Yard. On May 18th he was transferred to the Naval Proving Grounds in Dahlgren, Virginia, for a six week assignment in maintenance and operations of machine guns; ammunition stowage and handling. He finished 5th in a class of 38 with a final mark of 91.
On July 13th he was transferred to the Anti-Aircraft Training Center, Pacific Beach, California, for duty in the Advanced Base Pool basically for duty in the Pacific Theater. On September 12th he was transferred to the Receiving Barracks, Shoemaker, California, and on October 20, 1945 was Honorably Discharged at the USN Personnel Separation Center in Bainbridge, Maryland, after three years 9 months and 6 days of naval service.
My father, like many veterans, rarely talked about his time in World War II. As children we were not astute enough to ask questions or understand the need to record that history. There are some anecdotal things my brothers and I can add. For myself, my dad told me one of the happiest days of his life was when Japan surrendered because he was poised for transfer to the Pacific having undergone recent gunner training.
He was always proud of his service and how he was involved in during World War II. I don’t think he ever stopped thinking about the friends he lost especially John Dixon who he served with from the first day through those harrowing 320 days between April 1942 and February 1943. Dad said his prayers every night. As a child you said your prayers because you had to and always wondered why dad seemed to never miss saying his prayers. I have a strange feeling it had something to do with those 320 days and probably a lot to do with the 7th of February 1943.
"Ducky" Doyle, USN (on the right) with friend Tommy Dickens, USA
"Ducky" Doyle (center) with shipmates presumed to be Robert Donaghue and John Dixon posing for the camera while on the town at Coney Island.
Alfred Wolf, who was born in Germany, would later be killed in action at the hands of his former countrymen in the Icy North Atlantic while defending his ship and Country in 1943. Born in Germany on 1 August 1923 Alfred Wolf came to America where he became a citizen and enlisted into the United States Naval Reserves on 7 January 1942 in New York. Wolf was sent to Newport, RI on 11 January 1942 where he went through boot camp, and upon completion on 11 February 1942 was sent to the Naval Operating Base at Norfolk, VA for additional courses of instruction. Later on 23 March 1942 Seaman Wolf was sent to the Navy’s Armed Guard School at Little Creek, VA.
Here at Little Creek the men were trained intensively as Armed Guard crews that would be used in the defenses of Merchant Ships sailing the deadly waters of the North Atlantic Convoy routes. Upon completion Seaman Wolf was assigned to his first merchant ship, the SS Samuel Chase, where he reported on board for duty on 20 April 1942 as part of her first Armed Guard crew.
The Samuel Chase was an 7,000-ton troop transport ship that had been launched February 22, 1942. The Samuel Chase was a Standard Built Liberty Ship build at the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard in Baltimore, Maryland. Her keel was laid down on September 12, 1941. She was 423-feet in length and had a beam of 57-feet. She had a 3-cylinder engine built by the General Machinery Corp. of Hamilton, Ohio, that burned fuel oil and she had 2 Decks. Her Maritime Commission Hull Number was 23. The SS Samuel Chase was scrapped in 1967. During the second World War The Master of the Samuel Chase was a man who's last name was Martin.
Captain Martin and the inexperienced crew of the Samuel Chase had precious little time to familiarize themselves with their new ship as on the 27 June the Samuel Chase was part of a 35 merchant ship convoy named PQ.17 that was bound for Murmansk, Russia carrying much needed war material. There were arguments that the convoy should be postponed until later in the year but due to the great need of this material in Russia political pressure insured that the convoy would sail no matter what danger lay in her path. PQ.17 would be destined to become the deadliest Russian bound convoy during WWII with 25 of the 35 merchant vessels lost. The Samuel Chase would be one of the very few ships to reach Murmansk.
The convoy of 35 merchant ships were escorted by 16 combatant naval ships and sailed on 27 June 1942 for Murmansk. And then on 2 July the Germans attacked and kept up the attack for several days straight. Samuel Chase managed to survive the ordeal of PQ-17 despite the six near-misses from enemy bombers on 10 July, that caused heavy damage, snapping several steam lines, cutting off all auxiliaries, and blowing the compass out of the binnacle. Her gunners fought their weapons efficiently and courageously in what naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison calls "the grimmest convoy' battle of the entire war."
Morison lauded the Navy armed guard crews of three particular ships: Washington, Daniel Morgan, and Samuel Chase. "Their clothing was inadequate and their ammunition insufficient," he wrote, "but their fighting spirit never failed." For his part in the gallant defense of the Samuel Chase during the battle of PQ.17, Seaman 1st Class Alfred Wolf earned a letter of commendation which praised his meritorious conduct in action.
Another of the Samuel Chase’s Armed Guard was Seaman James Joseph Jenkins; he and Wolf would later both serve on the SS Henry R. Mallory, which would be torpedoed and sunk on 7 February 1943 and both Jenkins and Wolf would not survive this attack. Seaman Jenkins wrote a letter to his family back home describing the events of the battle of PQ-17. In the letter he says “...we had smooth sailing until July 2 ... About 10:30 AM we spotted our first enemy plane, it followed us all day, but did not attack us. All clear was given at 9:00 PM. We did not sleep that night waiting for action.” Tired and frozen from the weather the gun crews kept to their stations for two more days when on July 4, 1942 about 3:12 AM battle stations rang. Jenkins states “we ran to our guns just in time to fire at a plane which came down out of the clouds and dropped a torpedo which missed our stern at about 100 feet and hit the SS Christopher Newport. The torpedo did not sink the ship, but had to be shelled by the destroyers. They lost three men down in the engine room.”
Seeing the Christopher Newport hit, the men on the Samuel Chase had to be thinking this could be our fate also. The guns crews again stayed on their guns until at about 6:30 on the evening of the 4th when they finally were able to come in to eat something. The relative peace was only to last about 10 minutes as about 6:40 PM General Quarters was sounded again. Seaman Jenkins described what happen next, “...We ran out and there must have been about thirty or more German planes, each carrying two torpedoes. Their squadron leader (who we found out later to be Hans Decker) flew right over the center of our convoy, flying at about a height of two-hundred feet coming in from the stern of the convoy and reaching the beginning of the convoy only to be brought down in a mass of flames.” This attack by the German planes only lasted eight minutes but during that time 3 ships of the convoy were sunk and countless men died. Seeing the carnage the Convoy Commander ordered the remaining ships to scatter and sail on at full speed alone to avoid any more destruction. On board the Samuel Chase, Captain Martin carried out his predetermined orders given to him before he sailed. The orders were in short “there was to be no surrender of any U. S. ship.” Captain Martin’s orders stated, “the ship shall be defended by her armament, by maneuver, and by every available means as long as possible.” In the event his ship was going to be taken then the captain was to ensure her destruction, by any means possible. This order was to be transferred down the line in case the captain was unable to carry it out.
The strain of Captain Martin to his responsibility to his orders in hand and the safety of his crew were almost unbearable to the new commander. Often crews were all too ready and willing to take to the lifeboats if the ship were to be in a dire situation. An example of this happened on the Samuel Chase on the 5th of July. Seaman Jenkins of the Samuel Chase explains the events this way, “...we spotted a submarine coming from the stern of the ship rapidly over taking us. When it cut across our stern it submerged. Just then our ship stopped, we were waiting for a torpedo to strike any second so we abandoned ship for about three or four hours.”
At 10:30 in the morning, Captain Martin had had enough and rang the ships telegraph to engines full astern. The Samuel Chase came to a full stop and all hands took to the boats and within 15-minutes were away from the ship moving about 600-yards away. As Seaman Jenkins and Wolf drifted in the lifeboat watching the Samuel Chase with no one on board they wondered when she would be hit. The Samuel Chase, a brand new ship was just sitting there making an easy target for the German U-boat, but he did not attack her and after more that two hours Captain Martin decided to take the Chief Engineer and a small engineering force back on board to raise steam. By two o’clock that afternoon steam was up and the crew and boats back on board. Seaman Jenkins continues with his telling of the events of that day, “...We sailed for about five hours and I spotted a German plane following us. It followed us for about two hours and we lost it when we hit a fog bank. Then we met two of our escort vessels, which were English. They signaled us and told us to head for the nearest point of land because the German Fleet was loose and steering 60 degrees North Longitude at 25 knots. The German Fleet consisted of two battleships and six destroyers.”
The Captain and the bewildered crew of the Samuel Chase on 6 July spotted the welcome sight of Russian land. But as Seaman Jenkins described their ordeal was not over as easy as that. “We met four other merchant ships and three naval ships. We anchored there over night and got orders to move onto our point of destination. We left at 5:00 PM heading for our point of destination. We ran into a heavy fog and many ice flows, losing all the ships except one merchant ship and two corvettes.” Sailing on for another 4 days on 10 July the Samuel Chase, sailing under a heavy fog and many ice flows, and losing all the ships except one merchant ship and two corvettes saw anti-aircraft fire about twenty miles ahead of us so her Armed Guard crews stood by the guns waiting for action. Seaman Jenkins described standing watch at the guns in a simple matter of fact way, “...which is a great strain on the nerves.”
At about 3 O'clock in the morning on board the Samuel Chase, six German divebombers dove in on the weary gun crews dropping 3 bombs each. One missed very close by the Samuel Chase low in the water, which from the force of the explosion broke the steam lines. The Samuel Chase stopped dead in the water and the other ships with her continued on leaving her to fend for herself. Finally a Corvette came alone and got the Samuel Chase in tow for a few hours until she could make repairs and continue on her own steam. The Germans returned and gave the Samuel Chase and her gun crews an additional thirteen-hours of trouble until two Russian planes came to chase them away, leaving the Samuel Chase to sail on to her destination un-harassed.
It was during the events of the last several days of her voyage that Seaman Alfred Wolf distinguished himself and earned his letter of commendation. The last voyage Seaman Wolf and Jenkins would sail on the Samuel Chase was a troop convoy to Belfast, Ireland where they arrived on 6 October 1942. Then on 24 October, two days before she was to sail to Algiers in the Mediterranean to take part in the Allied invasions of North Africa, Seaman Wolf and Jenkins were transferred to the SS Henry R. Mallory, which was another troop transport as part of her Armed Guard. Wolf reported on board the Mallory on 12 November 1942 at New York.
Once again in the safety of the American soil Jenkins and Wolf likely felt they had narrowly missed death in the icy waters of the Artic Sea. But with-in five days the game was on again as the SS Henry R. Mallory sailed for Reykjavik, Iceland, where she stopped at St. John's and Halifax, Nova Scotia, before she returned via Boston to New York.
Seaman Jenkins and Wolf, the two weary sailors of the Samuel Chase and the Mallory, had to be feeling as if their days were numbered. As the SS Henry R. Mallory sailed out of New York on 24 January 1943 to sail once more to Reykjavik, this time with convoy SC-118, it was likely that Seaman Jenkins and Wolf together looked upon the sweet sight of the Statue of Liberty and wondered if they would lay eyes upon her stately form ever again. They would never again see her as on the early morning of 7 February 1943 a torpedo from U-402 made sure that the Mallory would never sail back to New York. Both Seaman Jenkins and Wolf would loose their lives that morning.
The heroic efforts of Seaman First Class Alfred Wolf did not go un-noticed and on 26 October 1943 the name of Alfred Wolf was assigned to the John C. Butler-class destroyer escort DE-544 being built at the Boston Navy Yard. Her keel was laid at the Boston Navy Yard on 9 December 1943. However, due to changes in wartime shipping construction priorities, work was suspended on the ship on 10 June 1944 and cancelled altogether on 5 September 1944. Subsequently, the incomplete hulk was broken up on the building ways.
The story of Seaman James Joseph Jenkins will always be linked to the story of Seaman Sydney C. Buffett. The two sailors were shipmates on the SS Henry R. Mallory and were both on board when she sank on that terrible morning in February of 1943.
Seaman James Jenkins was already a veteran of the bone chilling and deadly convoy routes to Murmansk, Russia having sailed on another ship the SS Samuel Chase. While Jenkins was on that ship he befriended another sailor named Alfred Wolf. Seaman Wolf distinguished himself with courage and valor during the dark days of one of the deadliest journeys to Murmansk on the Samuel Chase. Now serving together on a new ship the Henry R. Mallory, Jenkins and Wolf met Sydney Buffett. I think that the bravery of Seaman Alfred Wolf rubbed off onto Seaman Jenkins as later when perilous times came to the men of the Mallory, Seaman Jenkins did a very brave thing to save another man’s life and to insure the well being of Jenkins little sister back home. Although at the time I’m sure James Jenkins did not see it that way.
As the morning of 7 February 1943 began the men on the Henry R. Mallory could not know that that day all of their lives would be linked forever and be changed in an instant. Being that Wolf, Jenkins and Buffett were among the Mallory’s Armed Guard gun crews they all would have been on edge and may have already been at their guns that morning. It was common for the gun crews to stay and even sleep at their guns during times of great danger to the ship. But no matter what they were doing at the time when the German torpedo slammed into the Mallory’s No. 3 Hold, they were all quick to act.
In just a few short moments, which likely seemed a lifetime to the men on board the Mallory, James Jenkins and Sydney Buffett found themselves at a lifeboat with room for only one more man. That morning, in the icy waters of the deadly Atlantic, James Jenkins would do one of the most heroic things a man can do for another man. James told Sydney to get in the lifeboat and that he would get another lifeboat. James Joseph Jenkins, Alfred Wolf and many other men of the Mallory would not survive that morning.
Seaman Sydney C. Buffett found himself alive in the dark icy waters of the North Atlantic with other men who had somehow survived the ordeal. As he and the other men in his lifeboat struggled against their new enemy, the sea, Sydney may have been thinking about his two shipmates, Alfred Wolf and James Jenkins. There was no way to know if they had survived or not, but one thing was for sure, James Jenkins had forever changed the life of Sydney Buffett in ways he could not imagine at that moment.
Alfred Wolf was not rescued and died that morning. James Jenkins was however rescued by the United States Coast Guard Cutter Ingham after being in the freezing waters for over 4 hours. But James was too far gone and died after the crew of the Ingham pulled him from the water.
Seaman Buffett was in a lifeboat that was rescued by the USCGC Bibb. Commander Roy Raney of the Bibb had his crew over the side on the nets picking up the men from the Mallory, and among them was Seaman Buffett. Raney’s men were wasting precious time trying to get men aboard who were barely alive or already dead from the cold. After he learned that two men rescued by the Ingham died after being pulled aboard Raney contemplated what to do, and being that he was hazarding his ship and crew from a possible attack by a sub, he gave the order to save only those who were still alive or looked as if they would survive being hauled aboard. Little did Seaman Buffett know that one of the two men who died on the Ingham that caused Commander Raney to give his orders was none other than the man who had fatefully saved and changed his life forever, Seaman James Joseph Jenkins. The Bibb and her crew that day hauled 205 men of the Mallory on board.
Seaman Sydney C. Buffett would serve the rest of the war in the navy and would serve on six different ships during the war. They were the USS Chateau Thierry, SS Henry Villard, SS Henry R. Mallory, SS James Duncan, SS M. V. Manuel and the SS Cape Pembroke. But fate had set the wheels in motion of Syd Buffett’s life. The Jenkins family received the personal effects of James Jenkins, which contained his address book. His 16-year old sister, Betty, wrote to the sailors who were listed in the book trying to find more information about the day her brother lost his life. Everyone advised her to contact Syd Buffett as he was James’ best friend on the ship.
After Sydney finished his survivor’s leave from the Mallory, he was sent to Russia because they needed experienced gunners. Betty and Syd corresponded for a year before meeting for the first time in February 1944. On August 16, 1944 Syd married the sister of the man who saved his life and they had their first child in 1946 who was named James in honor of Betty’s brother James Jenkins. The boy who carried the name of an American hero, James Buffett would one day follow in the footsteps of his father and uncle, Syd Buffett and James J. Jenkins, and join the navy, to serve his country during the Vietnam War. Syd and Betty were married for 46 years at the time of Syd’s death on May 12th of 1991 of lung cancer. At the time of Syd’s death he and Betty had raised a family that consisted of 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
Betty Buffett, who is in her 80’s, is still living today and she keeps with her the memories of her two heroes, her husband Syd and her brother James. Several years ago Betty had a bronze plaque placed in the Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island, New York in memory of James Jenkins. Sydney Buffett is buried there in Calverton National Cemetery but Betty’s brother James Jenkins was buried at sea. The Memories of Sydney and James now rest together again many years after that fateful moment that changed both their lives on 7 February 1943. Betty also donated both the flags that were presented to her in honor of Sydney and James to the Calverton National Cemetery and are still flown today on holidays at a place in the cemetery called “The Avenue of the Flags.”
The bronze plaque Betty Jenkins Buffett had placed in Calverton National Cemetery.
Seaman James Joseph Jenkins was posthumously awarded the following medals for his sacrifice to his Country during WWII:
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
Navy Good Conduct Medal
WWII Victory Medal
Gold Star Lapel Button
Honorable Service Lapel Button
Navy Honorable Discharge Button
New Jersey State Distinguished Service Medal and Citation.
Along with the personal effects of Seaman Jenkins were the names and addresses of four men from the Mallory that were friends of Seaman Jenkins. The names were; Ed Byrne of 64 Alden Street, Lynn, MA; Bob Fenton of 50 Lewis Street, Pontiac, MI; Luke Lofaro of 202 East 97th Street, New York, NY and Alfred Wolf of 558 West 181st Street, New York, NY.
Byrne, Fenton and Lofaro were known to have survived the sinking and were likely picked up by the Bibb as she rescued the bulk of the Mallory survivors but it is not known for sure. Additionally it is also likely that these 3 men were Navy men and likely were also part of the Mallory’s Armed Guard. US Navy Seaman Alfred Wolf was not among the survivors from the Mallory.
The following is an article from the Newark Star Ledger, detailing the death of James Jenkins. It is not known what the exact date was.
|James J. Jenkins Reported Killed
Newark Youth Joined Navy Day After Attack On Pearl Harbor
James J. Jenkins, who joined the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor and who was credited with shooting down a Nazi plane during an attack on a Russia-bound convoy, has been reported killed in action. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Greg Jenkins of 19 Fleming Avenue, received a telegram from the Navy Department saying he had been buried at sea. Jenkins was born in Newark 18 years ago. He attended St. Aloysius's school and East Side High School and before entering the service he was employed by the Display Box Company. He was an amateur boxer and while stationed at the Naval Air Corps, Norfolk, he won two boxing Trophies. The youth, a seaman first Class, was a gunner during a convoy to Russia. His father was a veteran of World War One and served overseas. He is now a civilian guard at Newark airport. A sister, Elizabeth, is employed in a war plant. There is another sister, Mrs. Margaret Reigal, and a brother, Russell, 14, a pupil at St. Aloysius's school.
The postal telegraph dated February 22, informing Greg Jenkins that his son was killed in action 15 days after his death on February 7, 1943.
While serving on the Henry R. Mallory, Seaman James Jenkins wrote this about his experiences while serving on the SS Samuel Chase. It details the trip to Murmansk, Russia in the deadly convoy known as PQ.17
A Trip To Russia On Board The SS Samuel Chase
|Wedding photo of Betty Jenkins and Sydney C. Buffett on August 16, 1944 along with her sister Margaret Reigal who was the maid of honor and the best man, Harry Galante||
Seaman First Class James Joseph Jenkins, an American Hero and Patriot.
The photos and information for this story of James Jenkins and Sydney Buffett was given to me by several members of the Buffett Family. Granddaughter Peggy Hughes, daughter Gale Buffett Stockman and Betty Jenkins Buffett, truly a family effort.
Carl M. Fields, was an Apprentice Seaman in the United States Naval Reserve, and was on the Mallory the night she was hit. Seaman Fields was not rescued and lost his life on the morning of February 7, 1943. Carl was from the Ohio and Kentucky area and his mother was named Belle Fields from Corinth, Kentucky.
MM2c Fremont Lee Goza, October, 1942
Fremont Lee Goza was the second child born to Ruth Eleanor and Frank Carl Goza. Frank Goza was born in Missouri in 1880 and worked as a carpenter to support his wife and 3 children. Frank and Ruth’s first child was a daughter named Doris born about 1915, followed by a son, Fremont born in May of 1916 and finally another daughter named Grace E. born about 1918.
When Fremont was 13-years of age the family lived in a rented home on East Main Street in Carterville, Jasper County, Missouri, in which the rent was 12-dollars a month. Fremont was the star center of the local high school basketball team, and they were state champs in 1935. After graduation from high school Fremont played two years for the University of Arkansas. He worked for the CCC and was also in the National
Guard for a while. Fremont originally tried to enlist in the United States Marine Corps to follow in the footsteps of his Uncle James Goza who fought in France during WWI but the marines would not take him because he was too tall! Like many other young men from Missouri, Fremont Goza felt his Country needed him after the events that happened to pull the United States into the Second World War, and so at the age of 26-years he joined the U.S. Navy.
After his induction and training, Fremont found himself outward bound form New York for Iceland aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory. Machinist Mate Second Class, Fremont L. Goza on the morning of February 7, 1943, suddenly found himself adrift in the Mallory’s No. 8 lifeboat in the stormy, icy cold North Atlantic with many of his fellow shipmates, some of which were dead and some for now were among the living. Fremont likely thought to himself, would I be among the living or dead when this is all over?
Within a few hours the USCGC Bibb came and rescued those men in Lifeboat No. 8 and Fremont was hauled aboard her and given dry, warm clothes. Fremont would live another 65 years and 12 days after being rescued by the Bibb. Fremont Lee Goza passed away at the age of 91 on February 19, 2008. He lived at the time of his passing in Banning, California where he had lived for several years.
After the war ended Fremont came home to the Joplin, Missouri area and lived at 304 South Liberty Avenue in Webb City, Missouri. At the time he was still in the Navy and his present rating was Machinist Mate First Class. On September 29, 1946 at the Joplin, Missouri Naval Recruiting Station, Fremont was enlisted into the Naval Reserves on inactive status. Fremont would serve another seven years in the Reserves, and was finally released from service with the U. S. Navy in 1953.
Fremont’s daughter, Ruth Warren related of her late father. “My last visit with him was to celebrate his 91st birthday. I took my laptop with me and showed him the Mallory website and read many excerpts to him. He still was reluctant to talk about the experience. He would only say that it was terrible, the most horrible day of his life.” Ruth continues, “Growing up I never knew the name of the ship he was on but I did know that he was picked up by the Bibb and he would never tolerate anyone who spoke a bad word about the Coast Guard. I also had an older cousin who was stationed on the Bibb in the 1960’s and when I was living in Key West there was a big article in the paper about the Bibb being sunk offshore and made part of an artificial reef.”
Ruth continues, “As for the actual sinking of the ship my father only said that he had been sleeping and was awakened by the explosion and ensuing commotion. He mentioned having to force open a hatch to get up on deck and that he was in lifeboat No. 8. Once onboard the Bibb he helped the ship’s doctor attend to those who were wounded. His back was hurt but he never mentioned it to anyone, a mistake he regretted and suffered from until yesterday (Feb. 19, 2008). In 1992 he discovered a Captain Waters (who I see was Lt. jg on the Bibb at the Mallory sinking) who lived near me in Florida. We went to visit and he signed a copy of his book “Bloody Winter” for my father. It was not until that day that I realized the horror of that night. Captain Waters had vivid personal recollections as well as photos of the Mallory sinking. I believe he has since passed away also.”
Ruth did show the photos from this web site to Fremont before he passed away and Ruth her daughter Grace and Fremont all thought he may have been in one or two of them.
Ruth describes her father, “he was very tall, 6’4” with black wavy hair and rather large ears.” Ruth and Grace believe that in the first rescue picture they think he may be the sailor in the upper right at the right side of the officer with the flat top hat. He seems to be looking out to the sea. Ruth recalls, “I did show him that picture and he thought I might be right.” And in the photo of the lifeboat with the mast they believe he may be the man standing at the mast in the lifeboat.
Years after the sinking Fremont gave to his daughter Ruth something from that morning. “He has given me the red light that he wore that terrible night. I also have his sea-bag and hammock as well as his uniforms (they had to be specially fitted due to his height). He was very proud of his time in the service and always said he wanted to be buried in his uniform, he is being cremated so I will keep the uniforms for now. My brother has all of his ribbons and medals.”
Ruth tells that anyone who served in the armed forces during WWII, and any American who helped on the home front (activities include working in defense-related industries, recycling of materials needed for the war effort and more) is eligible to be registered at www.wwiimemorial.com
Veterans can register themselves or be registered by friends and family members. They will be forever linked to the WWII Memorial in Washington DC. To get a form for standard mail registry call 1-800-639-4992.
Ruth stated that, “I registered my father just a few days ago, never got a chance to tell him. A man at church gave it to me. He takes a group of vets to the memorial every year on Memorial Day and in the fall.”
Ruth E. Warren, daughter of Fremont L. Goza shared the photo and recollections of her father.
This is a scan of a newspaper clipping of Robert “Bob” Hunkins. It was printed in The Portsmouth, NH, Herald, Thursday Evening May 25, 1944 edition. The article with this photo reads:
Robert Hunkins Receives Promotion
Robert Hunkins, ship’s cook 2/c, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hunkins of 38 Columbia Street, was promoted to first class petty officer recently. He is stationed on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific.
In February 1943, Hunkins spent 24-hours in icy water after his boat was torpedoed enroute to Iceland. He served in Iceland 10 months before being transferred to his present duties.
Robert Herbert Hunkins survived the sinking of the SS Henry R. Mallory in the North Atlantic on February 7, 1943. Throughout his life Robert was known as “Bob” to his friends and family. He was named for his father who was also named Robert and he took his middle name of Herbert from his paternal grandfather who’s name was Herbert Hunkins.
The story of “Bob” Hunkins cannot be told with out starting with his grandfather Herbert E. Hunkins. In September of 1865 in the state of New Hampshire Herbert E. Hunkins was born. When Herbert was 24-years old he married a woman named Nellie who was Irish and had immigrated to the States in 1888. Herbert and Nellie brought 12 children into the world but one of the 12 did not live. In the summer of 1900 the Herbert Hunkins family lived on Dutton Street in Manchester, New Hampshire and at that time there were 7 children in the home. Herbert worked as a Cook to support his large Catholic family.
Herbert and Nellie’s eldest son was named Robert E. and was born in July of 1890. In 1910 the Herbert Hunkins family, consisting of 11 children and now lived in Goffstown, NH, which is just outside of Manchester. Herbert and his 19-year old son Robert E. worked together as cooks in a Hotel. Robert E. about 1902 married a woman who was Canadian and her name was Catherine MacDonald and was 4-years older than Robert. She and Robert E. would have 10 children together. They lived in a rented home located at 15 Columbia Ct. in Portsmouth, NH. Robert E. was still working as a cook and worked for the Hodgdon’s Café in Portsmouth, Rockingham County, New Hampshire. During WWI Robert E. also worked in the Portsmouth Navy Yard as a bolter. And during the 1930’s worked as a chef at the Navy Yard.
Robert E. and Catherine’s fifth child was named Robert Herbert Hunkins and was born on January 12, 1918. As Robert “Bob” Herbert Hunkins grew up in the Portsmouth area he to like his father and grandfather took on the trade of a cook. As young “Bob” grew he also saw the daily activities at the Navy Yard in Portsmouth, which likely stirred his interest in the navy. In fact he had worked at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital before the war. On December 7, 1941 this stirring likely caused the now 23-year old young man to join the growing fight. By May 14, 1942 “Bob” Hunkins had enlisted into the Naval Reserves and on October 2, 1942 reported for active duty at Rochester, New Hampshire. By November of 1942 “Bob” Hunkins had completed his basic training at Newport, Rhode Island at the present rating of Ships Cook Second Class.
In early January of 1943 “Bob” Hunkins was able to return back home to visit his family. The family home was now located at 38 Columbia Street, just a few doors down from the previous home, in Portsmouth. “Bob” Hunkins would in less than a month ship out of the States for the war in Europe. He and his family could not know what would lie ahead of “Bob”, as he would never get to complete the voyage he started out on.
On February 7, 1943 Ships Cook Robert “Bob” Hunkins was aboard the transport ship SS Henry R. Mallory traveling in a convoy that would go down in the history books as a bloody slaughter at the hands of German u-Boats. Early in the morning on the 7th of February the Mallory was about 500 miles from Iceland when the German Torpedo tore into the Mallory’s side. “Bob” Hunkins being a cook may have already been up working at the hour but that is only a guess. What is fact is that somehow “Bob” Hunkins survived the sinking and was one of the 22 men picked up by the USCGC Ingham. Family stories tell that “Bob” was in the water nearly 24-hours so he must have been one of the last men rescued from the icy cold waters that day.
The bulk the rescued men from the Mallory were finally taken to the base on Iceland where “Bob” Hunkins served for the next 10 months. After that time he was transferred to duty in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
Sometime in May of 1944 Hunkins was promoted to Petty Officer First Class and was now serving on the Aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto (CVL-30). From records of WWII US Navy Aircraft Carrier Muster Rolls, Robert H. Hunkins served on the San Jacinto from January 13, 1944 November 17, 1945. Serving on the San Jacinto was a young Navy Pilot by the name of George H. W. Bush, who would later become the President of the United States.
After the war ended “Bob” Hunkins returned to the States where he was employed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for more than 35-years. “Bob” raised a family while working at the shipyards making the best ships to sail the seven seas in order that each man who sailed on one of “Bob’s” ships would also be able to return home and raise a family one-day. The kid who had grown up near the shipyards then went off to war and served in the Navy, came home and worked the rest of his days at the shipyards retired from the Planning & Estimating Department in 1973.Following his retirement, he and his wife Marion spent a great deal of time camping throughout the United States and Canada. At the end of his life he and Marion lived in York, Maine where “Bob” battled with Alzheimer’s disease. On March 8, 2005 at the age of 87 “Bob” Hunkins lost this battle and passed away to join his shipmates from the Mallory some 62-years before. A funeral Mass was held at the St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Kittery, Maine on March 19 where he was buried shortly afterwards. He was a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather, and is missed very much by his family and friends. He especially loved spending time with his 11 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren and is remembered most for his quick whit and easygoing smile.
Machinist Mate Second Class Jacob E. St. Clair (Service No. 653 03 62) survived the sinking of the SS Henry R. Mallory on February 7, 1943. On October 27, 1918 Jacob was born to Earl H. and Mary E. St. Clair of East Conemaugh, Pennsylvania. Jacob was the third youngest child of Earl and Mary, and the children were eldest son W. Rhue, and daughters Della May, Sarah Catherine, Annabel, Betty, and youngest son Earl, Jr. The father, Earl, Sr. worked for the railroad as a foreman to support his family.
Young Jacob would be born along the Little Conemaugh River just up river from Johnstown, and very near the historic Cambria Iron Company works in Johnstown. The business of steel making would be entrenched into Jacob St. Clair’s blood. At the end of his working career Jacob would retire as an accountant from the Bethlehem Steel Company. Jacob in his early years likely could see the great smoke stack of the Cambria Iron Works from his home. The Cambria Iron works was sold to the Midvale Steel and Ordnance Company and then in 1916 Bethlehem Steel bought the company.
By 1930 the St. Clair family had moved west from their home in East Conemaugh. The new home was located along the Conemaugh River just down river from Johnstown in the small borough of New Florence. There were less than 800 people living in New Florence then and the St. Clair’s had a home on Fifth Street there, very near the Conemaugh River. By then Earl, Sr. was working as a Machinist still with the railroad. Also the family had grown to include three more children, Betty J., Annabel, and Earl, Jr.
Ten years later in 1940 there were many changes to the St. Clair family. Earl, Sr. and eldest son Rhue had passed away and the family was still living in New Florence but now had moved from the Fifth Street home to a home located at 122 N. Ligonier Street, which was only two streets from the old home. Additionally by then the two older children had moved away and Mary was left to care for Jacob, Betty, Annabel, and Earl, Jr. Jacob who was 21-years old at the time and his sister Betty were likely supporting the family as Jacob was working as a laborer for the railroad and Betty was a maid for a private family. Annabel who was 17-years old may have been attending school in New York at the time.
By the time America was attacked in December of 1941 Jacob St. Clair felt the call to serve his Country. Family stories relate to how Jacob and several of his buddies one day were in a pool hall talking about the need to stop Hitler from taking over the world. Jacob and his friends at the pool hall decided that they should enlist into the Navy to do their part in stopping Hitler. And so they headed out for Pittsburgh to join the navy. Once the group of boys got to the recruiting hall and all took their physicals, Jacob was the only one in the bunch that passed the test. Everyone else was denied for being color blind, flat footed and other issues. So Jacob joined the Navy on October 1, 1942, leaving his friends at home. Jacob’s first duty was at the Naval Operating base on Iceland and Machinist Mate Second Class Jacob E. St. Clair was being transported there aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory.
On February 7, 1943 MM2c St. Clair was one of the lucky ones who survived the sinking. He did get to Iceland but it was not the way he had planned to get there. He was injured during the events of the sinking and was in need of medical treatment in the States for shrapnel in his shoulder and an injured back. On April 21, 1943 MM2c St. Clair was transported from Camp Knox on Iceland to the U. S. Naval Base Hospital at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. On that day he boarded the USS Merak (AF-21) in Iceland bound for the States.
The Merak was the former United Fruit Company ship named SS Veragua, and in 1942 the U. S. Navy chartered her for use during the war and she was renamed USS Merak. She began her maiden voyage as a Navy vessel to Charleston, SC and then by March of 1943 had completed ten voyages in convoy to ports in the Caribbean islands. Merak then made a supply run with cargo for the Naval Operating base in Reykjavik, Iceland where she arrived on April 10, 1943. She remained there for eleven days and then on April 21 she left with several men for treatment in a Naval Hospital in the States, among them was Jacob St. Clair.
As MM2c Jacob St. Clair traveled back across the same spot that the Mallory was sunk only three months previous his thoughts were likely uneasy, wondering why he had survived and so many others did not. Would he make this trip this time may have been on his mind, or possibly there were many prayers said during that westbound trip. His prayers were answered on May 5 when the Merak made port at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was then sent to the Naval Hospital at the Yard for treatment.
Jacob St. Clair spent the remaining spring and most of the summer recuperating and by late August 1943 he was fit for duty again. When he read his new assignment he saw the words; “N. O. B. Iceland” He would be going back across the deadly North Atlantic again; would his luck still hold had to be what was running through his thoughts. In mid-August St. Clair boarded the USS Ariel (AF22) bound for Iceland again.
The Ariel was another former United Fruit Company ship formerly named SS Jamaica that had been pressed into navy service for the war. The Ariel was routinely making stops in the Caribbean Sea region but this was interrupted when she was detailed to steam north to Iceland.
Leaving the Brooklyn Navy Yard the Ariel reached the Naval Station at Argentia, Newfoundland on August 15, 1943 and then sailed on to Iceland. She reached Reykjavik on August 29, unloading her cargo and passengers. MM2c St. Clair continued his duty on Iceland and the Ariel steamed back to New York where she reached port on September 7. On October 30, 1943 MM2c St. Clair boarded the USS Florence Nightingale for transportation back to the States, where she reached New York on November 18, 1943. Transferred to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for duty MM2c St. Clair was plagued by the injuries he suffered during the sinking of the Mallory, and he spend time in and out of the Base Hospital at the Navy Yard.
After the war was over Jacob St. Clair was Honorably Discharged from the navy on July 28, 1945, and returned to his home in Pennsylvania. He got married and raised seven children, and went to work for the Bethlehem Steel Company retiring as an accountant, and turned 96-years old in 2014.
Thomas Hamilton Taylor, Shipfitter First Class, USN, was aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory and survived the sinking on February 7, 1943. Thomas H. Taylor was born on October 22, 1916 in Philadelphia, PA to Howard C. and Rachel C. Taylor. He lived in the Philadelphia area for the better part of his early life.
Thomas Hamilton Taylor, SF 1/C
While a youth the Taylor family lived at 1664 Fillmore Street in Philadelphia where he graduated from Frankford High School in Philadelphia where he was a member of the school football team. Once Thomas graduated from high school he took a job in a sheet metal plant working as a break press operator. Thomas was also somewhat of a musician and was invited to become a member of the Philadelphia Harmonica Band. He was a member of the Harry A. Houseman Masonic Lodge 717, Philadelphia and Delaware Consistory. He was a 32nd degree Mason and Scottish Rite Member.
Thomas Taylor was married on March 23, 1940 to Bertha Marie Bunting of Dagsboro, Delaware. Thomas and Bertha did not start their family until after Thomas returned from the war when on 2 November 1946 in Philadelphia Cheryl Elizabeth Taylor was born. Cheryl would be Thomas and Bertha’s only child. Cheryl Elizabeth was married on 7 June 1966 to John Douglas Rickards of Selbyville, Delaware. The Taylor family tradition of service to our Country in the military begun with Thomas, continues with Cheryl’s son Commander (SW) John D. Rickards Jr, USN currently serving on active duty .
As the events of December 7, 1941 engulfed the United States into the Second World War, Thomas H. Taylor likely went to the U. S. Navy Recruiting Office in Philadelphia and applied for enlistment into the Navy. It was on September 13, 1942 when he received a letter from the Naval Recruiting Office located in the Customs House on Chestnut Street near Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River requesting him to report there for duty. At 8:00 O’clock on the morning of September 20, 1942 Thomas Hamilton Taylor reported for final inspection and enlistment into the United States Navy. That day he was sent to the Philadelphia Navy Yard where he was given his oath and began his adventure, which at the time he could not have imagined what fate was in store for him.
November 23, 1942 three months to the day before he sailed on the Mallory, recruit Taylor was at the U.S. Naval Receiving Station at Long Beach, NY. Thomas’s pre-war skill were put to good use by the navy and was made a Shipfitter 3/C. Assigned to the Mallory’s he sailed on January 23, 1943 bound for Iceland a voyage that would nearly take his life.
After fifteen-days aboard the Mallory life changed forever for the men aboard the ship for at 03:58 hours on the morning of February 7, 1943 a German Torpedo ripped into the side of the Mallory. Taylor saw that the force of the explosion had blown away the escape ladder for nearly 200 men below where he was standing. Taylor and two other men managed to force a hatchway door open to escape. Once outside on the deck of the mortally wounded Mallory they found that the decks were strewn with dead and wounded men. Taylor had found that the Mallory’s Sick Bay had also been destroyed. He made his way to his assigned lifeboat station, but once there he saw the lifeboat was already in the water. He started to climb down the side of the Mallory on a cargo net trying to see the lifeboat rise on the very high seas out of the darkness of the morning. If he went too far down the net he could be crushed by the rising of the lifeboat, not far enough he could be hurt from too far of a fall. Men were drowning all around him. He leaped for the boat when he felt the timing was right and made it. Once in the boat, which had a safe capacity of 30 men he found it was filled with double its capacity. Untrained men in a panic had lowered the boat and left the seacocks open allowing water to swamp the boat. Then the swamped and overloaded boat overturned but the men did succeed in turning it over again.
Many of the men who had been in the boat before were now missing and the remaining men climbed back in. Several were still in the water clinging to the gunwales. They held on for as long as they could muster the strength until the angry waves of the icy cold sea claimed them that morning. At morning’s light Taylor found there were only eight men in the lifeboat, one of which was Army Private Louis Strauss who had been badly injured from his escape from the Mallory.
Nearly 12-hours had passed where Taylor and Strauss and the other 6 men in the lifeboat felt they had a diminishing chance of a rescue. Later in the day Pvt. Strauss had become unconscious but would survive the ordeal. On the horizon with the grey light of the quickly fading day the men saw a sight they will forever remember. It was the English Corvette HMS Campanula that had happened upon the men from the Mallory. Taylor and the other men were hauled aboard by the English sailors and taken below where they were given dry clothes. Thomas Taylor’s hands were frozen shut and it would be weeks before he could open and close them normally. For the next 6 days aboard the small, easily rolling Campanula the survivors rode it out with the English crew during several attacks on German U-Boats. While aboard the Campanula Taylor was looked after by Leading Stoker John “Jack” Allender one of the Campanula’s crew. Thomas Taylor and “Jack” Allender would become life long friends. “Jack” and Ivy Allender would later become the godparents to Thomas and Bertha’s only daughter Cheryl. She had the pleasure of meeting the entire Allender family in 1973 during a visit to London, England. Finally Lt. Cdr. Alan H. Davies, RNVR, the Skipper of the Campanula put into Liverpool, England where Taylor and the others were taken to the Royal Naval Hospital and treated for their injuries.
For the next week Thomas Taylor remained at the hospital in Liverpool until February 19 when he was moved to the U. S. Naval Operating Base in Londonderry Northern Ireland. Taylor remained there until March 16, 1943 when he boarded a Scottish troopship the SS Letita bound for Iceland. The Letita arrived in Iceland 6 days later on March 22, 1943 where he was admitted to the base hospital there in Iceland. There in Iceland were the other survivors from the Mallory, and it is likely that he was visited by two of the surviving Chaplains from the Mallory who were also there in Iceland. While in the hospital recovering from his frostbite to his hands and feet and back injury, Taylor was advanced in rating to Shipfitter Second Class on September 1, 1943.
By mid September Taylor was detailed to return to the States for additional treatment and on September 16, 1943 he boarded a B-17 bomber on route to Goose Bay, Labrador. There at Goose Bay he boarded another plane likely a B-25 bomber and flew to Floyd Bennet Field, New York arriving there on September 17. He then flew on to Philadelphia where he received a 15-day leave.
On October 3, 1943 he reported back for duty at the Naval Receiving Station on Pier 92 in New York City. Shipfitter Taylor spent time recovering at the U. S. Naval Hospital near St. Albans, NY where on February 5, 1944 nearly a year after the sinking he and 6 other men who were in the hospital were interviewed by a reported for The New York Sun newspaper. The six men convalescing from war wounds were being interviewed for a local War Bond Drive. The title of the Article was “Seven Sailors Who Urge Public to Back the Attack.”
Taylor was again advanced to rating of Shipfitter First Class later in 1944. His final duty after getting out of the hospital was at the U. S. Naval Air Station in Richmond, Florida near Miami. NAS Richmond was then a Naval Blimp base. Shipfitter 1/C Thomas Hamilton Taylor, Service No. 105-14-02 was honorably discharged from the United States Navy on October 15, 1945.
Thomas Taylor returned to his home in Philadelphia and went to work for the Edgar T. Ward Steel Company. About 13 months after he arrived back to his wife Bertha in Philadelphia they had a daughter named Cheryl Elizabeth Taylor. She would be the only child of Thomas and Bertha. Cheryl remarks about her father, “Dad did not discuss his service in any detail. Most of his conversations were about John Allender and the friendship that started when he was rescued until his death.”
In 1946, Thomas, Bertha and Cheryl Taylor moved to Dagsboro, Delaware where Thomas took a job as an accountant until his retirement in 1974. He was a member of the Mason-Dixon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7234 Ocean View, Delaware and the American Legion Post 30, Selbyville, Delaware. He continued to be an active member of the Harry A. Houseman Masonic Lodge.
Thomas Hamilton Taylor died on 25 February 1992 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. He is buried at Sunset Memorial Park in Pennsylvania.
The back of the this photo has the following written on it:
Thos. H. Taylor
Shipfitter, 2nd Class
Parnell E. Sanford PHM 2/C Detroit Lakes, MN.
This picture was taken on Jan. 25, 1944 at U.S. Naval Hospital, St. Albans, L. I., NY where I was interviewed by a reporter from the war Finance Committee, about the sinking of our ship by a German U-boat in the North Atlantic on Feb. 7 1943. The Story and Picture is to be printed by the W.F.C. in conjunction with the Fourth War loan Drive now being held.
Photos of Thomas H. Taylor provided by his daughter Cheryl Elizabeth (Taylor) Rickards
|Harrison Yerkes Stover, Carpenter’s Mate, USN, was killed in action during the sinking of the SS Henry R. Mallory on February 7, 1943. His story can be told from an undated and unidentified newspaper clipping that was found in the possessions from Shipfitter Thomas H. Taylor, who was another sailor aboard the Mallory. This may have been a newspaper from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and even though it is undated from the wording of the article it can be estimated that this was written about November or December 1943. In the newspaper article it tells of how another sailor referred to as the “buddy” witnessed Stover’s death in the lifeboat of effects of being in the cold water. This “buddy” is likely Shipfitter Thomas H. Taylor.
Harrison’s mother Emma lived the rest of her life in Doylestown, Bucks County Pennsylvania until her death in June of 1974. It is known from the 1930 Federal Census that Harrison’s two sisters who were mentioned in the article were Harriet A. and Sarah C. but the brother mentioned is not known.
Below is the transcribed text of the newspaper article.
Learn H. Y. Stover Died From Exposure
Frank A. Merhaut, USN was serving aboard the Mallory when she was sunk, 7 February 1943, and was rescued by the USGC Bibb. Merhaut served in the navy for the duration of the rest of the war where he crossed the equator and earned the honor of being a Shellback. After the war he worked for the Westinghouse Company in the airbrake division and retired after 40-years of service in the Brass foundry.
Merhaut was born in Pennsylvania on November 5, 1915 and passed away on March 10, 2009 at the age of 93 and was buried with full military honors in the Grandview Cemetery, Turtle Creek, PA.
Carpenters Mate 3rd Class Virgil L. Kallansa, (669-26-04 USNRF) was aboard the Mallory when she sank and survived. Kallansa was among the twenty-two lucky men pulled from the sea by the USCGC Ingham.
Virgil Lester Kallansa was born on November 28, 1920 and enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1942, serving on the ill-fated Mallory. After his rescue he was transferred to serve in the Pacific Theater of Operations and was assigned to the USS Bennington (CV-20). Kallansa reported aboard the Bennington on her Commissioning Day, August 6, 1944 at the New York Navy Yard. He had been advanced to Carpenters Mate 2nd Class by that time.
On 15 December 1944, Bennington got underway from New York and transited the Panama Canal on the 21st. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 January 1945 and then proceeded to Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, where on 8 February 1945 she joined Task Group 58.1. Operating out of Ulithi, she took part in the strikes against the Japanese home islands (16 February-17 February and 25 February), Volcano Islands (18 February-4 March), Okinawa (1 March), and the raids in support of the Okinawa campaign (18 March-11 June). On 7 April, Bennington's planes participated in the attacks on the Japanese task force moving through the East China Sea toward Okinawa, which resulted in the sinking of the battleship Yamato, light cruiser Yahagi, and four destroyers. On 5 June, Bennington was damaged by a typhoon off Okinawa and retired to Leyte for repairs, arriving 12 June. Her repairs completed, Bennington left Leyte on 1 July, and from 10 July-15 August took part in the aerial raids on the Japanese home islands.
She continued operations in the western Pacific, supporting the occupation of Japan until 21 October. On 2 September, her planes participated in the mass flight over USS Missouri and Tokyo during the surrender ceremonies. Bennington arrived at San Francisco on 7 November 1945, and early in March 1946 transited the Panama Canal en route to Norfolk, Virginia.
Sometime during October of 1945 Kallansa had been advanced to Carpenters Mate 1st Class. It is likely that Kallansa was discharged from the navy when the Bennington arrived back in Norfolk, VA.
After discharge from the navy, Virgil married Betty Lou Heland (b. 19 January 1925). It is known that she and Virgil had at least one daughter named Karen Sue Kallansa born on 22 January 1950 in Dallas, TX. Throughout their lives Virgil and Betty Lou lived in New Jersey, Texas and Indiana. Virgil would pass away in June of 1981 in Noblesville, IN and Betty would pass away on April 20, 2002 also in Noblesville.
Machinist Mate 2c George F. Durch, 669-36-68, USN was one of the twenty-two lucky men pulled from the icy waters of the Atlantic on February 7, 1943 by the Coast Guard Cutter Ingham. Durch had been aboard the Mallory on the fateful Atlantic crossing she was making when she was sent to the bottom at the hands of a German U-boat.
George Fredrick Durch was born on August 18, 1917 to George J. and Julia A. Durch in St. Louis, Missouri. George’s father George J. Durch, was born in the Bohemia region of Czechoslovakia about 1893 had had came to America about 1906 and was fully naturalized in 1912. He settled in Missouri where he met and married Julia his wife, Julia being born in Missouri sometime about 1897. George J. and Julia had their first child a daughter named Florence M. about 1915 and then son George Fredrick in 1917.
In January of 1920 the Durch family lived on Virginia Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri where George J. worked as a tailor in a clothing company. By 1930 the Durch’s had added another daughter named Arline A. born in September of 1926. At the time of the taking of the 1930 Federal Census the Durch family still lived on Virginia Avenue but because they rented had moved just a few houses down the street from where they lived in 1920. George J. Durch still worked in the clothing business at a dry-cleaner.
When WWII began for the United States young George Fredrick Durch was called upon to enter the United States Navy and at the end of January 1943 he found himself aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory bound for Iceland. He at the time could not know what fate had in store for him when the Mallory left the safe anchorage of the North River in New York. He may not even thought that as they passed out to sea and saw Miss Liberty fade away into the horizon that he may not return to the country that had given birth to him.
But at the time the German U-boat fired the torpedo that mortally wounded the Mallory George still did not have a clue as to the fate he was only seconds away from. But somehow that morning George Durch found his way to a life raft or some other floating debris and was saved from the fate of many of his shipmates. Only 22-men were plucked from the sea that morning by the USCGC Ingham. George had now found that he was alive and now on the relative safety of a fast cutter the Ingham.
George would survive the rest of the war and would be discharged from the Navy at the rating of Chief Machinist. He would live another 57-years after the sinking of the Mallory and it is likely that he thought of that morning every day for his last 57-years.
George Fredrick Durch the Survivor of the sinking of the Mallory passed away on March 24, 2000 and is buried in the Arbala Cemetery, Sulphur Springs, Texas, far from the Icy Waters of the North Atlantic.
When the SS Henry R. Mallory sank on February 7, 1943 she was on her way to Iceland. Aboard the Mallory is a young Apprentice Seaman by the name of Gamaliel T. Arason, who was 3 months short of his twenty-first birthday. He was a green recruit and was only an Apprentice Seaman, but he had sea salt in his blood, as his family on both his father and mother’s side were Icelandic. Gamaliel or “Leil” as he was called in the family, had a brother named Jacob who was 2-years older, and was already serving in the Navy as an Icelandic interpreter. As it turned out Jacob Arason was in Iceland and was going to see Gamaliel when the Mallory arrived. But sadly she never did and Gamaliel Arason perished that cold brutal day when the Mallory went down on February 7, 1943.
In the American Cemetery in Cambridge, England Apprentice Seaman Gamaliel T. Arason’s name appears carved into the stone tablets with the date of death as February 8, 1944. This is due to the law at the time stated that if a sailor was listed as missing at sea there had to be a period of 1-year and a day pass with no information as to his whereabouts before being classified as Killed In Action. Gamaliel Arason was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. The body of Apprentice Seaman Gamaliel T. Arason, Service Number 7300833, United States Naval Reserve Force, was never recovered.
Gamaliel Theodore Arason was born on April 2, 1922 to Sigurdur Ari and Gudrum (Thorleifsson) Arason in North Dakota. His father Sigurdur also was born in North Dakota but both his parents were from Iceland. Gudrum, Gamaliel’s mother was born in Eyjafjardar, Iceland and her family roots can be traced back to the late 1790’s in Iceland.
Sigurdur and Gudrum Arason had nine children, and Gamaliel was the sixth of the nine. Sigurdur and Gudrum made their home in Mountain, North Dakota. Mountain is a very small town of less than 100 residents and is located in Pembina County, which is in the extreme northeast part of North Dakota and borders the U. S. and Canadian border. Mountain was founded in 1884 and is known for being the destination of many Icelandic immigrants, later known as Western Icelanders, who arrived in the area up until around 1914.
Sigurdur Arason supported his family in Mountain by being a salesman in the general store in town. In 1930 Sigurdur owned the home the family lived in and was valued then at $2,000. Life was very utilitarian in North Dakota and one of the questions asked on the 1930 Federal Census was if the family had a radio set in the home. At the time radio was a modern convience that was just beginning to change the way Americans lived. The Arason home did not have a radio and there were very few of the neighbors of the Arason’s who had a radio set. About the only entertainment in Mountain was when the families got together and played cards and socializing.
The final moments of Gamaliel’s life will never be known, but one can only guess the horrors of those last seconds in the icy black bone freezing waters. One can almost see Gamaliel innocently playing cards with other off duty sailors passing the time when the torpedo struck somewhere tucked into the many cigarette smoke filled compartments deep in the hulls of the SS Henry R. Mallory. Apprentice Seaman Gamaliel T. Arason, USNRF remains on Eternal Patrol, God rest his soul.
Paul Swanson’s great-uncle was Matthew Murphey and Paul remembers him with these words. “Matthew Murphey was born in California. Murphey had joined the US Navy in 1916 and had taken a correspondence art course, which helped him to draw illustrations for the navy. While serving as a Chief Quartermaster at the National Headquaters of the Navy Bureau of Recruitment he had drawn some illustrations for the U.S. Navy’s propaganda posters. There are a few posters that are can be found on line today. Murphey also illustrated some art for Volume 139 of the August 2, 1941 edition of Popular Science magazine.” Paul Swanson spoke of how his mother had spoken of Matthew Murphey often and how she felt very close to him.
Chief Matthew Murphey, USN was killed in action on February 7, 1943 when the Mallory was sunk.
William C. “Bill” Hodge was a survivor of the sinking of the Mallory on February 7, 1943, and today (2012) is 88-years old and lives in Pennsylvania.
Bill Hodge was from Fullerton, Pennsylvania and had joined the navy at age 19, and went to basic training at The Great Lakes Naval Training Station. While there he took gunnery training. In December of 1942 Hodge was sent to New York and that was where he boarded the Mallory. Bill was an Electrician’s Mate and was aboard the Mallory being transported across the Atlantic. The story of Bill Hodge is told in part from his neighbor Dan Kijak.
When the Mallory was hit Hodge was asleep in his bunk. The torpedo slammed into the opposite side of the ship from where Hodge’s bunk was, which he thought was a meat locker.
In the confusion and wreckage of the explosion Bill Hodge found himself trapped for a moment behind a hatchway door. In the darkness he thought that his buddy, fellow sailor Tommy Lubach was behind him. Hodge thought that it was Lubach who was holding onto the back of his shirt as they struggled to get through the blocked hatchway in the dark, but once they got free he noticed that it was not Tommy Lubach but an officer. Tommy Lubach did make it off the ship and into the water, but when the USCGC Ingham rescued him he passed away aboard that ship. It would be several weeks before Hodge would know the fate of his friend Lubach.
Once Hodge and the officer who had been behind him in the hatchway made it to the deck they found that the lifeboat they were attempting to use was overly full and so nearly 88-men in that area jumped from the side of the sinking Mallory into the raging sea. Now in the cold water Hodge was cold and alone. Thoughts were likely running through his mind that this might be his last moments alive. But soon there after he was pulled into another lifeboat with 3 other men. Additionally in this lifeboat was George Dunningham’s dog named “Rickey.” I’m sure that Hodge wondered of all places this was a strange place to find a dog.
Now alone in the angry sea Hodge and those in his lifeboat saw their home, the Mallory going down stern first. The old Mallory came back for a moment and then rose up for the final time as she stood up on her end and slipped beneath the sea never to be seen again. Those first moments after the Mallory was gone must have been a very frightening feeling for the men.
Four and a half hours later, Hodge’s lifeboat with “Rickey” the dog, saw the approaching Bibb. What a wonderful sight to see, but she made a turn and went away, which was likely a devastating feeling to the men in Hodge’s boat. But then she came back to rescued Hodge and the others. “Rickey” the dog was also rescued by the orders of Captain Raney aboard the Bibb, when he yelled his command, “Someone go and get that damn dog!” from the bridge of the Bibb. The men aboard the Bibb threw down a line and gave instructions for the men in the lifeboat to make it fast as they were going to tow them a short distance. But shortly after the line was cut free and the Bibb dropped a few depth charges on a suspected U-boat. The Bibb’s fantail came out of the water from the explosions and the boiling sea, and then she broke off the attack and came back again to Hodge’s boat. A line was sent down from the Bibb and Hodge and the men went up the line to the deck of the Bibb to safety. He was the last man out of his boat.
Once Hodge made it to the deck of the Bibb he collapsed from exhaustion and was taken below to the Bibb’s sickbay. Once Hodge had recovered some he noticed there were a few Greek merchant sailors there in the sickbay with him. Hodge could speak a little Greek and so he spoke to them and they indicated that they were hungry for something to eat.
The Bibb after a long week finally made it to Iceland to offload the survivors from the Mallory and other ships. Once ashore on Iceland the men from the Mallory began to find those who had survived and learn the fates of those brothers who would remain on eternal patrol never to see home and family again. Among the survivors Hodge found a friend from the Mallory, a Yeoman named Crawford who was also from Pennsylvania. Just to see a fellow Pennsylvanian was likely great comfort to both Hodge and Crawford.
Hodge would remain on Iceland for nearly a year serving at an oil depot on the island. After that time he and several other took transportation aboard a Greek ship to Edinburgh, Scotland and from there he was re-assigned to a new ship.
Now assigned to duty aboard the USS Aucilla AO56 an oil tanker serving in Caribbean waters Hodge likely felt the warm waters were a welcome change from the icy, deadly North Atlantic areas. After a short time Hodge was again re-assigned, this time to the Pacific Ocean. Hodge was now assigned to the USS Wasatch AGC9 serving as an Amphibious Force Flagship in Philippine waters. Hodge would see action in the Mindanao areas, Lingayen Gulf and actions off Leyte against the Japanese Fleet. The Wasatch would follow along with the USS Nashville and General MacArthur through the end of the war in 1945.
In September of 1945 while the Wasatch was in Manila, Bill Hodge was brought back to the ship aboard a stretcher after inhaling something called “liquid fire.” After a prolonged session in sickbay, where a small flexible hose figured prominently in the first aid treatment, Hodge was returned to duty. It was not known what this “liquid fire” was, but it was thought to be some local Philippine drink of some sort.
After Hodge was Honorably Discharged from the navy he would return to his home state of Pennsylvania where he would remain for the rest of his life.
Bill Hodge and his dog on the left just after his enlistment with his friend Joe Gallino on the right.
Undated photo likely taken aboard the USS Wasatch.
Top row from left to right. Francis Eugene Roy electrician from New Roads, LA, Charles Robert Anderson electrician from Dallas, TX, Roger A. Johnson code breaker (US ARMY) Peeves, South Dakota, Alfred H. Page electrician Fengess Falls, MN, Leslie Ainsworth electrician Springfield, VT.
Bottom Row left to right. Laurence Macdonald CEM Stoneham, Mass, Charles A. Bonino Clevland, OH, Henry Jean Buzy electrician New York, NY, William C. Hodge electrician Fullerton, PA.
Joseph L. Rohr, Jr. was a Lieutenant (jg) in the United States Naval Reserve during WWII and was aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory when she was torpedoed and sunk on February 7, 1943. Lt. (jg) Rohr was the officer in charge of the Naval Armed Guard aboard the Mallory and was killed in action during the sinking of the ship.
Joseph Lay Rohr, Jr. was born in late 1909 in Passaic, New Jersey to Joseph L. and Jessie Rohr. It is believed that the Rohr family was of Jewish heritage. The father Joseph Sr. was born about 1875 in Illinois and Jessie his wife was born about 1879 in Massachusetts. Joseph Sr., in April of 1910 worked as a hardware salesman in Passaic.
Ten years later in January of 1920 the Rohr family had moved to Brunswick, Maine and had grown to include a second son named Robert E. born about July of 1925. Robert was born in Maine so the family must have been in Brunswick from at least 1925. Joseph, Sr. was then working as a welder in a shipyard, likely at the Bath shipyards located only a few miles away. The Rohr home was located at 5 Potter Street in Brunswick, very near the intersection of Maine Street and Potter Street.
Joseph Rohr, Jr. would have graduated high school about 1928. He went on to attend college at Syracuse University, in Syracuse, New York and Graduated with the class of 1932. While at Syracuse Rohr was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity. During WWII the Psi Upsilon Fraternity at Syracuse had 14 fraternity brothers who gave their lives while serving in the armed services, Joseph L. Rohr, Jr. was one of the 14.
After graduating from Syracuse University in 1932 little is known about his life or what his occupation was. But in 1937 his name appears in a Racine, Wisconsin city directory. He is single and living at 1600 N. Main Street in Racine, Wisconsin where he is listed as being a teacher at the Racine Day School for the Deaf. So it is clear that his occupation was in the teaching profession and he must have known sign language. It is not known when Joseph Rohr came from New York to Wisconsin but it is assumed between 1932 and 1937 when his name appears in the city directory. Likewise it is not known how long he was a teacher at the Racine Day School for the Deaf. By at least 1939 he had moved on from the Racine School and was then living in Madison, Wisconsin on Gillman Street. He had by then taken a job as a Supervisor at the State Department of Public Instruction, so clearly education was his profession. By 1941 Rohr was still a Supervisor at the State Department of Public Instruction, but now he lived at 516 Wisconsin Ave. in apartment number 3, and he was still single at the time.
In the April 4, 1941 edition of The Sheboygan Press newspaper there is an article entitled “Seeing Is Believing” This article talked about how there were several schools across Wisconsin that had begun to make visual aids with the help of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for the use in helping in the education of deaf children. Some of these were scale models of ox-carts and stagecoaches, dugout canoes, ocean liners, and a model of the Wright brother’s first airplane. There was also a model of Christopher Columbus’ ship the Santa Maria. In the article Joseph Rohr who was at the time the supervisor of this state wide visual aid project, was quoted as saying, “That requests for these visual aids have come from many states in the Union, and even Hawaii.” Rohr stated that there were about 2,000 of these visual aid models made all across the State of Wisconsin and they would be made available to the many schools across the state. Rohr also stated that this program was set up a year ago for use in the Wisconsin Deaf schools but that it had been so successful that all schools in the state could use these visual aid models. In addition to the models the WPA and the State Department of Education together printed pictures of things covering such subjects as conservation, animal and insect life, Wisconsin industrial and historical spots and the like. These 46,000 pictures along with the visual aid models were a great addition to the teaching of the children of Wisconsin.
By the time America was at war in 1941 Rohr was still working his job at the State Department of Public Instruction but in early 1942 he enlisted into the United States Naval Reserves. We will never know for sure why he enlisted but being he was an educator serving children he also may have felt the call to help his fellow Countrymen in the long difficult struggle they would all have to endure.
Being that Rohr was a college-educated man the Navy saw fit to use him as an officer and by mid 1942 he was a Lieutenant, Junior Grade. In the latter parts of 1942 he was assigned as the officer in charge of the Naval Armed Guard crew aboard the civilian transport ship SS Henry R. Mallory, then serving on the Atlantic convoy routes to England. The Mallory had just installed new 3-inch deck guns along with 20mm guns, and on November 19, 1942 Lt. Rohr reported that his crews had successfully test fired these guns. On an eastbound convoy trip in November 1942 Lt. Rohr aboard the Mallory successfully eluded German submarines and on December 4, 1942 the Mallory was safely tied up in Reykjavik, Iceland. Within two-months time Lt. Rohr would again be under the threat of attack by German U-boats but the outcome would be a very grim ending for him and many of his fellow shipmates.
The Mallory after reaching New York had loaded in late January 1943, a full load of cargo and troops to head back east across the dangerous waters of the Atlantic. This would be a trip that would never be completed, and Lt. Rohr would see the last of the land of his birth. We will never know what his thoughts were as he set his eyes for the last time on America and the Mallory steamed out never to be seen again. Maybe it was thoughts of how his students were doing back in Wisconsin, or possibly he was focused on only the job at hand of working with the Master of the Mallory, Horace Weaver, and keeping the enemy away from the Mallory. February 7, 1943 for Lt. Rohr was the day that he prayed would never happen but it was the day that every man aboard the Mallory knew could happen at any time. Lt. (j.g.) Joseph L. Rohr, Jr. would not survive the day, and it is not known how the end came, possibly he may have been in the same life boat as Dr. Grabenstein, the ships Doctor, and Captain Horace Weaver, the Mallory’s Master when it was swamped when the Mallory rolled and never seen again.
Rohr’s service number was O-136527, and his official date of death is listed as February 8, 1944, one year and a day after the Mallory sank. This was the rule then when a service man was missing, a waiting period of a year and a day needed to pass before he could be declared killed in action. His name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the Cambridge American Cemetery in Cambridge, England. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal.
At the time of his death according to the U. S. Navy Casualty Book, and the Jewish Welfare Board, Bureau of War Records, Rohr’s next of kin was his mother Mrs. Jessie E. Gould of 15 N. Main Street, Cohasset, Massachusetts. It is believed sometime prior to 1935 Joseph Rohr, Sr. and Jessie had been divorced. Joseph Sr. was in 1935 living in New York City, and in 1940 he was living in The Forks Plantation, in Somerset County, Maine. The Forks Plantation is a very small town and derives its name from the convergence of the Dead River and the Kennebec River. There is a notation in the Massachusetts Town and Vital Records for a Jessie E. Gould being born in 1879 in Chelsea, Massachusetts so likely she had reverted to her maiden name and moved back home to Massachusetts at the time of her son’s death. It is not known when Jessie Gould passed away.And so ends the story of Lt. Joseph L. Rohr, the teacher from Wisconsin, but in reading his story his memory can be kept alive, for this is the story of an American Hero who gave his life for his fellow man and asked nothing in return.
Joseph Lay Rohr, Jr. 1932 Syracuse University photo.
Sadly this blurry photo is all that remains of the man who gave his life for his shipmates and his Countrymen.
The above is the reconstructed WWII Memorial Composite made in the summer of 2009 to replace the original memorial that hung in the Pi chapter house that was stolen sadly. From the diligent hard work of Pi brothers Jim Cornacchia (86) and Bryan Fischer (11) among others recreated this and presented it to a fellow brother Ed Barnard (42) where it was placed in its former location in the chapter house. These are the names of the 14 Pi brothers who gave their lives for the “Freedom and Peace of their Fellow Men.”
Top row left to right: Theodore Allen Read, Class of 1945, Ben Craig Wassell, Class of 1943, Temple James Lynds, Jr., Class of 1940, Carl Alexis Bergsten, Class of 1939, Walter Scott Rutherford, Class of 1937, Richard Burr Prentiss, Class of 1942
Center row left to right: Paul Gilligan Thorton, Class of 1938, Lyndon Wood English, Class of 1937
Bottom row left to right: Robert Douglas VanOrden, Class of 1947, Howard Mitchell Coonley, Class of 1940, Harold Wiltsie Jacobson, Class of 1946, James Robert Bonner, Class of 1943, Joseph Lay Rohr, Jr., Class of 1932, John Edward Bullock, Class of 1945.
On November 6, 2014 an article is published on the South Coast Today online newspaper that had been written by Jason Protami, a correspondent to the newspaper. The article was entitled “Fight for Survival” and featured a 93-year old gentleman named Earle Cooper who had been a survivor of the sinking of the SS Henry R. Mallory on February 7, 1943. The article Mr. Protami wrote came from an interview he had with Earle Cooper from his South Dartmouth, MA residence and Mr. Cooper recounted these events of 71-years ago, in which Mr. Cooper’s facts were mostly right on and verifiable.
Earle William Cooper in December of 1942 was then a 21-year old Electrician’s Mate Third Class in the United States Naval Reserve Force. He had joined the Navy on September 25, 1942, and had taken his basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago, Illinois. By late December ’42 he was in Boston, MA awaiting transportation to his assigned duty station, that being at the Naval Operating Base, Iceland. Loaded aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory Cooper and the others aboard sailed for New York where they stayed the entire week before sailing again to meet up with the convoy SC-118 in which they would travel with until they had to break away and steam for Iceland their destination.
During the interview Mr. Protami had with Mr. Cooper, he described these events of 71-years ago. “We were in Torpedo Alley, about 400-miles off the coast of Iceland, part of the larger convoy, SC-118, bound for Reykjavik, Iceland, with 383 crewmen and passengers aboard.” The actual number of crew and passengers aboard the Mallory that voyage was 495, of which 265 men were lost and 230 survived, EM3c Cooper was among the 230 lucky ones that day.
On the day of the attack the ship had been at General Quarters from 2 o’clock that afternoon due to U-boats being reported in the area, but later that evening things were quiet and many of the passengers turned in for some needed shut-eye. Cooper stated, “I went to bed fully clothed except for my jacket and cap, and woke at about 4 o’clock in the morning when the torpedo hit our starboard side. The explosion sounded like somebody put a big bomb underneath a woodpile.” Due to the fact that below decks it was very hot and uncomfortable for the passengers many would disobey standing orders to sleep fully clothed, and strip down to their skivvies to sleep, this led to many deaths due to exposure once the men were out in the weather and seas. But the fact that Cooper had went to bed fully clothed may have been a contributing factor to his survival of the sinking.
At the time of the attack Cooper was berthed on the port-side down a few decks, and the explosion that tore into the ship caused damage in Cooper’s area. There was a heavy smell of ammonia in Cooper’s compartment likely from ruptured refrigeration lines. Cooper recalled that “…there was pandemonium but not panic as we struggled to get out.” It seems that a large piece of deck gear had been dislodged and fell and blocked a hatchway that led from where Cooper and others were presently at to the topside. In Cooper’s words he recalls in detail “We were trapped, the hatch was blocked as we struggled to get free.” This story is also supported by another sailor, named William F. Deyak who was also in the same berthing area as Cooper. Deyak related how he too went to bed with his clothes on, and when the explosion woke him found the hatchway blocked. Deyak told how he began to bang on the hatchway with a dogging wrench. Cooper recalled that “Finally, after several minutes of struggling” on the other side of the hatchway another sailor by the name of Fremont Lee Goza heard the banging of the trapped men. In Cooper’s words he described what happened. “… Goza, who stood about 6-foot, 4-inches, managed to force the door open enough for a small guy, James Branagan, to squeeze through the opening.” Branagan and Goza then together got the hatchway cleared and Cooper and the others were able to get topside. If it was not for the size of Goza they may have been trapped and died in that companionway. Fremont Lee Goza would be rescued along with Cooper, but Branagan’s story had a different ending.
Cooper went on with the story, “Branagan and I went to our lifeboat station where our naval officer was holding muster, but ours was blown away.” They were on the windward side of the ship and only one, the Number 5 Lifeboat, was successfully launched from that side of the ship. This was the Starboard side of the Mallory, which was the side that the torpedo hit. But as Cooper stated they were, “…a mass of tangled lines with men floating around them with their little red lights from their lifejackets glowing in the water, all yelling like hell in the 6-to 8-foot seas. I could see no point in trying to do anything on that side of the ship and I told Branagan our best hope lay on the port side.”
Now Cooper and Branagan worked their way across the mortally wounded, and by now listing Mallory. Cooper came across a large hole that had been blown into the deck and they had to cross it to get to the other side of the ship, there was no other way. Cooper said, “Our only chance was to jump across, I made it over, but Branagan didn’t. I never saw him again.” James S. Branagan was a Ship Fitter Third Class and was from Louisiana.
Now with the loss of Branagan, Cooper struggled on alone to the port side of the now dangerously low in the water ship. It was then that Cooper encountered a naval officer with his side arm in his hand, who was helping a couple of sailors carrying a litter with a marine with two broken legs. The officer pressed Cooper into service helping to carry the wounded marine where they carried him about 30-feet and then put him down on the deck to wait for a lifeboat for the injured. While waiting several of the men were trying to upright a large inclined life raft, which had fallen to the deck during the explosion. Cooper joined in helping to free the life raft, which he estimated that there were about 8 to 12 men working to get it loose but the men could not budget it free. Cooper then turned to the wounded marine in the litter, but the marine and the litter were gone, likely Cooper thought, moved to the lifeboat.
But the sight before him was a frightening one as all the lifeboats were gone. He now knew there was one and only one option for his survival, which he recounted, “I saw a lifeboat in the water and said to myself, ‘This is the only chance you’ve got,’ so I jumped overboard and landed in the water with both arms hanging over the gunnels.” Cooper today recalls that he doesn’t know if he dove or just jumped over the railing but he was now off the ship and in the sea.
Now in the water and hanging on to the side of the lifeboat for his life Cooper was surprised. “The boat was loaded, filled with men and one sailor tried to push me off back into the water. I remember who it was, but I won’t say his name, though he was never able to look me in the eyes again after that.” After what seemed like an eternity hanging on the side of the lifeboat another sailor named Carlisle Kefauver from West Virginia and another EM2c pulled Cooper into the boat. Once in the boat Cooper found that, “There were about 35 to 40 men on that boat with some either dead or unconscious.”
Now that the Mallory was gone from the surface of the sea, the overcrowded life boat was not able to be maneuvered and just drifted for a time. Hours later another lifeboat was encountered and they tied up to each other. But this boat only had four or five men in it, and Cooper quickly shifted to the less crowded boat. “I jumped into the other boat with a couple of other men to lighten the load in the first and provide additional manpower to the other.” Cooper broke out the blankets that were stored in the lifeboat, as many of the men did not have proper clothing on to protect against the cold weather. At the time the sea was running nearly 10-feet.
Along about day-break the men in the lifeboats saw what Cooper describes, “…saw a wondrous sight: the United States Coast Guard Cutter Bibb, which eventually took all survivors on board.” The Bibb did rescue the bulk of the Mallory survivors but the USCGC Ingham rescued 20-men, the HMS Campanula rescued 4-men, and the HMS Mignonette rescued another 4-men.
Cooper recounted the rescue by the Bibb… “We were along their port side and they started to pick us up. They threw down short ropes with loops to put over our shoulders and under our arms, and they pulled us aboard. Some chaps got caught between the lifeboat and the side of the Bibb and were pinched or hurt badly.” As the lifeboat rose on a crest of a wave Cooper was able to reach out and grabbed one of the railing wires on the deck of the Bibb and was hanging there. Cooper stated, “One of the Coast Guardsmen yelled at me ‘don’t do that!’ and then three of them grabbed me and threw me up on the deck.” Cooper hit the deck of the Bibb and bounced across it with nothing hurt but his pride. He could not stand though due to his body being so cold so he just lay there for a time, all the while thinking that the deck of the Bibb felt pretty good. Finally he was helped below deck.
Now 71-years later Mr. Cooper stated, “I was lucky, I survived. A lot of guys didn’t.” But Cooper went back to the days of 71-years ago and continued with the story. “On the Bibb, I was given a blanket, six or eight candy bars, and was told to get some sleep, which I did, but woke again when another explosion knocked out the Bibb’s power.” Cooper continued, “I later learnt it was one of our depth charges, but at the time I thought it was another torpedo and I remember laying in my bunk thinking to myself, I’m staying right here, I’m not going through that again.” For a young man who had just survived one sinking he had a right to just stay in his borrowed bunk.
Nearing the end of the interview Cooper related to Jason Protami that he got his revenge on the enemy while he was serving on another ship that they were able to sink a Japanese Submarine someplace in the Atlantic south of the Azores. But Cooper bears no ill will for the men whom he fought, as in his own words, “they were sailors following orders, just like me.”
That was where the interview ended with Mr. Cooper, but there is more to his story during WWII. After the rescue the men from the Mallory did make it to Iceland after another week aboard the Bibb at sea fighting U-boats.
But those days aboard the Bibb until they reached Iceland were not smooth sailing, for the next morning after the rescue it was blowing hard and Cooper went up on the deck of the Bibb as he was getting seasick and in his words, “I swear on my honor the waves were 70-feet, yes 70-feet high and looked like mountains crashing down on the Bibb, which was riding them out.” Most of the day was just like this and the Bibb did not escape unharmed, as her forward gun mount was damaged and she had to go into the shipyard for repairs to the gun mount after they reached Iceland.
On the third day after the rescue the survivors were mustered on deck where they were briefed and were told to turn in their life jackets, as there was some sort of storage problem. Upon hearing this Cooper pulled out his pocket knife, which he had in his pocket from the Mallory, and cut the back out of the life jacket containing the name “Henry R. Mallory” stenciled with white paint on the canvas, which Cooper “…still has to this very day in my mementos of that tragic sinking in which my shipmates, soldiers, marines, sailors, and merchant marines were lost.”
The remaining days aboard the Bibb were routine as compared to the days they had just come through. They had experienced their first surface warfare aboard the Bibb as she made one or two runs on a submarine with depth charges and hedgehogs. Cooper also noted that February 7, 1943 was one day before his 22nd birthday, one he will likely never forget. Aboard the Bibb the survivors were warm and well fed. They got mostly pancakes, as there were 215 Mallory survivors along with 6 survivors from the Greek ship SS Kalliopi and the 200 or so of the Bibb’s own crew to feed.
Cooper was well enough to work once he landed on Iceland and he was assigned duty at the Naval Oil Depot in Hvalfjorour, Iceland. While working at the oil depot the tank farm unit had an outbreak of spinal meningitis and was under quarantine. During this same time EM3c Cooper was quartered aboard the USS Vulcan for about a month due to the quarantine at the tank farm. The Vulcan was a fleet repair ship that had arrived in Hvalfjorour on November 18, 1942 and was spending the winter there before she got underway on April 6, 1943 bound via Derry, Northern Ireland, for Hampton Roads, Virginia. While quartered aboard the Vulcan Earle Cooper got to know one of the Vulcan’s crew Tony Almeida, who was a vocational graduate and was from the Massachusetts area. Being that both Almeida and Cooper were Mason’s they became good friends. After the war Almeida founded the Almeida Electrical Supply Company in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Once the rescued navy men were recuperated new assignments were handed out and Cooper got his orders. EM3c Earle W. Cooper was being assigned to the anti-submarine training center in Miami, Florida, and then was assigned to duty aboard the newly constructed destroyer escort the USS Francis M. Robinson (DE-220) that was being completed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Cooper would be part of her first crew as she was being placed into commission, and reported aboard on January 15, 1944 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
On March 1, 1944 while serving aboard the Robinson, Cooper was advanced to Electrician’s Mate Second Class. And it was while aboard the Robinson that EM2c Earle Cooper got his revenge from the sinking of the Mallory. The Robinson was then part of a hunter-killer group of the USS Bogue (CV-9) then operating in the waters off the Cape Verde Islands in the Atlantic hunting German U-boats. On May 13, 1944 the Robinson makes a sound contact at 825-yards distant on a German U-boat. Robinson makes an attack with her hedgehogs and fires a volley of 24, which may or may not have hit the sub. The Robinson turns and makes a depth charge run on the contact and drops a pattern on the contact. Three deep throated depth-charge explosions boomed forth with a large column of water from the surface. Then two or three minutes after the depth charge explosions the soundmen aboard the Robinson hear explosions deep in the sea and they sound like bursting pressure hulls. That was followed by another deep sea blast that finished off the U-boat.
The Robinson had indeed killed a U-boat but it was not until after the war that the real story was learned. It was indeed a U-boat, U-1224, which was built for the Japanese Imperial Navy and was commissioned as RO-501. During the war Germany and Japan had tried 34 times to send German U-boats loaded with war time secrets down the Atlantic and around Africa to the Indian Ocean and on to Japan but each one failed.
The RO-501 was a German Type IXC U-boat with a fully trained Japanese crew and she carried in her hull a full load of German technology, which included Mercury and other precious metals, uncut optical glass, models and blueprints required to build a Type IX U-boat, and a jet engine and full sets of blue prints for the Messerschmitt Me-163 “Komet” rocket fighter plane. So indeed EM2c Earle W. Cooper had his revenge in a very important way.
Cooper tells of another event that happened while he was serving in the Bogue’s Task Force. Cooper told how one night a torpedo bomber was landing on the deck of the USS Bogue and overshot the short landing deck, and the plane went into the sea. The rescue duty fell to the Cooper’s ship the Robinson, and off they went at flank speed to the rescue. Cooper tells of the events, “I was on duty at the after engine throttle at the time. We picked up the pilot and the navigator without much injury. But during the rescue a powerful explosion was felt below the Robinson, which was likely from the plane sinking, General Quarters was sounded, and I was replaced at the throttle by CPO F. M. Farwell who said were torpedoed! I disagreed with him being I had actually been torpedoed before!” As it turned out it was from the sinking plane and the explosion was caused by the planes depth bombs exploding once they reached the right depth. The Robinson was unharmed by the explosion.
For the action against the Japanese submarine the USS Bogue’s entire Hunter Killer Task Force, of which EM2c Cooper was a member of while serving aboard the Robinson, was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. Cooper remained aboard the Robinson until December 8, 1944 when he was transferred to the Naval Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island.
EM2c Earle Cooper served on the Attack Transport USS Pamina (AKA-34) for about a month in February 1945, and then was transferred to the Hospital Ship USS Haven (AH-12) in May of 1945 for a short time before finally transferring to another destroyer escort the USS John M. Bermingham (DE-530) in July of 1945 where he would serve through October of 1945. Cooper was then sent to Charleston, South Carolina for additional schooling where he was finally discharged in Boston.
Cooper in March of 2010 wrote this about his experience of the sinking of the Mallory, “How and why I survived the sinking of the SS Henry R. Mallory is miraculous, I am now 89-years old, in fairly decent health and have 3 children and 5 grandchildren, and my wife is 85 and also doing well.”
Cooper returned to civilian life and worked as an electrician in and around his home in New Bedford, Massachusetts where he lives today.
One final note to the story of Earle Cooper and the USCGC Bibb as told by Mr. Cooper. “The Bibb finished out her service at Pier No. 2 in New Bedford, Massachusetts servicing break downs in the fishing boat fleet, which consisted of about 100 very large trawlers and scallopers along with other marine disasters.” Cooper noted that he was born and raised in New Bedford, and that Pier No. 2 was only about 800-feet from his place of employment, the Commonwealth Electric Generating Station. So it seems that Earle Cooper and the USCGC Bibb were connected somehow almost from birth, and maybe that was part of the miracle of his survival of the Mallory sinking and rescue.
U. S. Navy Reservist Earle Cooper holds the scrap of canvas he cut from the back of his life jacket with the name “Henry R. Mallory” stenciled in white paint.
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