Sole Atlantic Sun Survivor

Several Survivor Stories

The Only Survivor Tells the Story of the
Torpedoing of the ATLANTIC SUN

    Standing at the crowded rail of the MS GRIPSHOLM on February 20,
1945 as it entered New York Harbor was William Golobich, 23, ordinary
seaman. He gazed at the Statue of Liberty. He was silent and emotion
showed on his face. The men who lined the rail weren't his old
shipmates and the ship wasn't the vessel on which he left America. He
had left on the ATLANTIC SUN. He alone survived. This is his story.

   I came off watch at 0400 on Monday, February 15 and went to my
quarters on the port side, aft, to get some sleep. About 1000 that
morning, I was awakened by a jarring sensation as if an extra large
wave had hit the ship. The ship seemed to quiver, i got up, dressed
and put on my life preserver. The engines had slowed down and the ship
was very silent. I raced up on deck and when I arrived I saw a sight
I'll never forget. The ship was cut in half with the forward end
inclined about 60 degrees with the surface of the water. There was a
large gash in the extreme end of the bow. The midship house was
already almost entirely submerged. The men there never had a chance
to escape.

    The after half of the vessel remained on an even keel. The
starboard boat was safely launched in charge of the Chief Mate. This
boat contained 22 men both Navy and crew members. The rest of us
remained on board. We did not try to launch the port boat because it
was on the weather side and would have been difficult to launch. About
25 minutes after i got on deck, the bow reached a perpendicular
position and slowly sank. About 2 hours later, the men in the lifeboat
returned aboard, cold and wet from spray. They went below to change
their clothes and drink hot coffee. The Chief Engineer and others
inspected the engines and there was talk of backing the stern section
to the nearest port.

    About a half hour after the lifeboat returned, the steward spotted
another torpedo headed directly toward us on the port side. We raced
to the starboard rail and braced ourselves. The torpedo struck about
15 feet forward of the stern post on the port side. The ship started
down by the stern. I ran to the port lifeboat and started to do what i
could to launch it. By this time some men were coming up from below.
Somebody tried to help me but we could not get the boat launched. Then
I thought of my exposure suit which I had brought up on deck with me.
When I went to look for it, the suit was gone, blown away by the
explosion. Suddenly the sea threw me against the starboard rail. As
there was no chance of getting back to the port lifeboat and we were
sinking fast, I went over the side. As I swam away from the ship, I
figured I had about 2 hours to live and I mentally said good-bye to my
folks and friends at home.

    Then a ring buoy floated by and I grabbed it and attached it to my
shoulders. When i was about 30 yards from the stern section, it began
to turn over. Soon after, it turned over and lay keel up before it
sank. I also caught a glimpse of the port lifeboat. Somehow they had
gotten away from the ship.

    The water was cold -- about 32 degrees and the air about 25
degrees. I made for the lifeboat and when I reached it I found 8 men
aboard. The boat had no oars and was waterlogged. Their situation was
pretty desperate as they were sitting in water waist high and they
were soaking wet. The eight men in the boat were: Henry Miller, 1st
Engineer; Wallace Horton, 3rd Engineer; Robert Burger, AB; William
Guilford, Steward; Donald Winey, OS; Louis Rose, Fireman; Andrew
Kokoska, Oiler; and Harry Belfer, Wiper.

    After about a half hour in the water, I was exhausted so I
grasped the side of the boat and rested. Then I noticed my legs were
growing numb. Suddenly the sub surfaced about 25 yards away. Out of
the conning tower popped a German officer and four or five of the
crew. The officer was pointing a machine gun at us. For a moment we
thought he was going to use it. He asked the name of our ship. He was
told and then the men in the lifeboat asked for oars and help from the
sub, to make the lifeboat more seaworthy. But the sub left and began
cruising around where the tanker had gone down. After a few minutes
the sub returned and came to within 25 yards of the boat. The men in
the boat again pleaded for oars and some help.

    In desperation I let go of the boat and swam toward the sub. I was
nearly all in but I had in mind getting close to the sub and asking
for assistance that might have meant life for our surviving band.
I recall reaching the sub, climbing aboard, and walking toward the
conning tower. Then I blacked out. When i came to, I was below deck on
the sub with some of the German crew taking off my soaked clothes and
massaging me. As I gradually regained my senses, I asked the captain
of the sub about the 8 men in the boat. He told me he couldn't do
anything for them. He informed me i was going to Germany as a
prisoner of war.

    During my 23 days on the sub I was not mistreated. The captain
revealed to me that his first torpedo missed my ship. The second
struck the bow and the third crashed into the tanker at or near the
pump room, just aft of midship. The fourth sank the stern section.

    I was put ashore on March 9 at St. Nazaire, France and sent by
rail to Wilhelmshaven where I was kept 12 days. I spent the next 22
months at Milag Nord, about 20 miles northeast of Bremen. It was a
detention camp for merchant seamen. Of the 3000 prisoners there, about
60 were Americans.

    On January 15, 1945 I was on my way to freedom with most of the
other Americans and some British seamen. We were sent home by way of
Geneva, Switzerland and Marseilles, France.At Marseilles, we boarded
the GRIPSHOLM and left on February 9 and arrived at New York on
February 21, 1945.

    The men of the ATLANTIC SUN went to their end with calmness and
great bravery. They died in the service of their country.

William Golobich

 As published in OUR SUN May 1, 1945.

    Used with the kind permission of the Sun Refining & Marketing

Story of Frank B. Hodges, the only crew member to survive the
torpedoing of the SS JACKSONVILLE.

    Courtesy of Capt. James B. Wallace.

"When the explosion blasted the ship I ran out of the mess room and
found our vessel enveloped in flames and smoke. I tried to reach the
boat deck to get my life jacket but flames and smoke soon engulfed me.
However, I managed to reach the rail over the stern and jumped. By
this time I was in a dazed condition but when I sank beneath the
flames I revived somewhat. When I came to the surface I found flames
enveloped me so I swam under the water again. I had to keep under
water intermittently until I found a break on the surface where there
were no flames. Somehow I managed to reach the windward side of the
ship. The flames were shooting high above it and covered the water in
all directions.

    As I cleared the flames, I saw many of the crew floating on the
water but I could not recognize their faces because they were all
charred, i recall attempting to hold one man up but it was impos-
sible to do so. As I floated near the ship I saw quite a few life
jackets in seaman's hands. They had not had time to put them on. At
the time we were hit, there were about a dozen of us in the mess room.
I never saw any of them after the explosion. I was told that I was
picked up by a United States Destroyer Escort about an hour and a half
later in a delirious condition."

    Hodges and a Navy gunner were the only two who survived this
sinking. They were taken to Londonderry, Northern Ireland and
treated in the U.S. Army Hospital in Belfast and in British hospitals.
Hodges was repatriated by airplane and continued to receive treatment
for burns and injuries he suffered before being rescued.

        Captain of His Fate

          by Carl B. Wall

Reprinted with permission from the July 1944 Reader's Digest.
Copyrightc 1944 by The Reader's Digest Assn., Inc.

    For four days and nights the freighter PUERTO RICAN had been
fighting the arctic storm and was now off the coast of Iceland. A
blinding snowstorm obscured vision. Decks and rigging were coated
with ice.

    The torpedo struck at ten o'clock at night. When August
Wallenhaupt awoke he knew what to do, for he had been torpedoed

    His first act was to kneel beside his bunk and say a prayer of
only a few words. Short as it was, he believes now that the prayer
helped to check any inclination he might have had toward panic. He
then put on woolen socks, a woolen sweater, a pair of seaman's pants,
and his kapok life preserver. Over ali this he put on his lifesaving
suit -- a heavy rubber affair with watertight draw-strings. He
finished by putting on a heavy woolen seaman's coat -- knee length,
with a hood which could be pulled up over the head -- and a pair of
fur gloves.

    On deck, men were cursing in the darkness, yelling as they worked
to free lifeboats frozen solidly in the ice. in unison chanting,
"one-two-three" they hurled themselves like battering rams against
the heavy mass. "It was like ramming your shoulder against the Empire
State Building." After many frantic attempts the boat cracked loose.

    It reached the water with 20 to 30 men in it. Then Wallenhaupt
realized that the ship was sinking and feared that the lifeboat
would be capsized because the ice made it impossible to release the

    He threw himself backward out of the lifeboat just as the
freighter went down. A few feet away he saw the emergency flare of a
small doughnut raft. He pulled himself up over its side, noticing for
the first time that his hands were numb. He had lost his heavy fur
gloves. These rafts have a sort of lattice work in the center through
which the sea sloshes. An oiler drifted alongside. Wallenhaupt
pulled him over. He was dressed only in a pair of dungarees and a
denim shirt and was shuddering from the cold.

    Within the next ten minutes six other men struggled aboard. All
had on heavy seamen's coats, but little or nothing else. Wallenhaupt
was the only one with a watertight lifesaving suit. Their hands were
already beginning to freeze.

    A large wooden raft drifted within reach. Wallenhaupt grabbed
hold, forming a bridge. When five men had crawled over him he looked
back and saw the oiler and one other man sitting motionless. As one of
the others held the raft, he slapped their faces, tried vainly to pull
them to their feet. They were unconscious, their eyes still open.

    Wallenhaupt tried to climb from the doughnut to the raft but found
he had no control over his legs from the hips down. The others helped
him crawl aboard. They were six now, huddled together for warmth in
the center of the raft. The spray of the breaking seas formed a film
of ice over them. The flare light of the doughnut disappeared.

    They tried kicking their legs at intervals to keep up circulation,
but the effort was too great. One man, an Englishman, had gone out of
his mind. He kept muttering to Wallenhaupt, "Help me, Auggie. Help
me." They tried praying aloud. "But the waves filled our mouths and we
couldn't hear anyway." So they muttered prayers to themselves.

    Every few minutes a particularly heavy wave would send them
tumbling in a heap, clawing at the lines, clutching at each other in
the blackness. After one of these waves, Wallenhaupt noticed that
the Englishman had been washed away.

  Sometime during the night, between fitful stretches of sleeping,
Wallenhaupt heard two words: "Aug, boy."

    They were spoken almost in a whisper, casually. Wallenhaupt
recognized the voice of his best friend on the ship -- a Navy gunner
who had slept in the bunk beneath him. He called back, "John, boy."
There was no answer. At daybreak he saw that his friend was gone and
knew he had called as he went over.

    Shortly afterward, a great wave washed another man over. He clung
to the ropes alongside, and Wallenhaupt tried to take hold of his
clothing. But his frozen hands had no grip. Then they hooked forearms
together. Wallenhaupt tried to pull him upward, but he was too weak.

    They stayed like that, clinging to each other, for perhaps five
minutes: "His eyes were only about ten inches from mine and we kept
looking at each other. Then he said, 'Gee, Auggie, can't you please
help me?' I said, Tm sorry, I can't do anything.' Then his strength
gave out and he slipped away."

    By this time there was a warm, lazy feeling all through
Wallenhaupt's body and no pain. He was unable to move his legs or to
feel any part of his body. His arms he could move at the elbow, but
the hands were frozen stiff in a half-open position.

    Later he was aware that the waves had taken another man, and that
only one was now left on the raft with him. The man was lying on his
stomach, his head bare, his hair iced over. Wailenhaupt called to him,
then crawled over and nudged the head with his elbow. He couldn't
budge it. The man's whole body was frozen solid to the bottom of the

    In 36 hours Wallenhaupt had not thought about food or drink. But
now, alone with the dead man, he began to feel thirst.

    Finding the water breaker frozen solid, he partially quenched
his thirst by bunching the snow which fell on the raft into tiny
mounds and then lapping these with his tongue.

    The raft still plunged in the heavy sea. The wind was almost gale
force and terribly cold. To protect himself he lay down on the lee
side of the dead man. "I didn't think of him as a dead human. He was
something frozen, like a piece of the earth. He was covered with a
foot of solid ice."

    From time to time Wallenhaupt dropped into sleep, letting the sea
wash over him. He seemed to dream constantly, even when awake --
mostly of childhood happenings.

    It was sometime before daybreak of the third day that he heard
voices. He could see nothing in the darkness, and he thought he must
be having hallucinations. The voices came and went, like sounds coming
across a lake in the wind. He feared he was going out of his mind, and
that troubled him more than the thought of dying. He buried his head
deep into his coat and prayed aloud to drown out the voices.

    Then the voices came back more strongly than ever. He could make
out whole phrases now: "Hello, there! Hello, there!" He buried his
head deeper under the hood, praying more loudly.

    It was not until he felt a violent bump against the raft that he
looked up to see the sheer gray side of a British destroyer. At the
movement of his head, the men on deck broke into cheers. They fastened
a grappling line under his arms and pulled him up gently. An officer
asked him, "What ship are you from?" When Wallenhaupt answered, the
officer stared at him, then turned his face away. At that Wallenhaupt
broke down and began sobbing violently. He learned later that the
destroyer had heard the PUERTO RICAN'S SOS, had searched for her, then
given up and headed for port with just enough fuel to make it. He was
the only survivor they found.

    They gave him something hot to drink and a shot of morphine. They
wrapped his hands and feet in ice-cold towels. His hands were swollen
to nearly three times normal size.

    He asked for the ship's padre and together they said a prayer of
thanks. Then he fell into a deep sleep.

    When he awoke the pain started to come, most intense pain. He
perspired so freely that the bed was soaked. They gave him more

    Eighteen hours later he was taken ashore at an Iceland port. In
the hospital they wrapped his legs in cotton and hoisted them on
pulleys high above his head, lest the circulation start too rapidly.
He was kept alive by constant injections of blood plasma and
intravenous feeding. Morphine was injected at four-hour intervals. The
pain was so horrible that he cried continuously despite his efforts
to keep hold of himself.

    He came down with pneumonia and pleurisy and was placed in an
oxygen tent. His legs were put in boxes of ice with rubber sheets
between the flesh and the ice. The whole apparatus was above head

    After they took him out of the oxygen tent, he was quite cheerful,
and soon had scores of friends among the patients. The pain was
beginning to die down a little, except when they changed the ice.

    Then one day, weeks later, the doctor told him: "Well, Wally,
we're going to take 'em off tomorrow.''

    He had known what was coming: he had seen the color of his legs.
He only hoped that it would not be his hands, too.

    They gave him an anesthetic, but he could feel the vibration of
the electric saw before he fell asleep. His legs were off when he
awoke. So were all the fingers down to the knuckles, except the thumb
of the his right hand and two fingers of his left hand. For the next
four weeks he lay flat on his back.

    Then they told him he was going to fly back to the States. When he
weighed in, the scales recorded 87 pounds instead of his usual 170.

    There was a crowd of nurses and doctors to see him off: "I was a
curiosity. And they were a little proud of me. They had been so sure I
was going to die and they had kept me alive."

    He spent the next eights months at the Marine hospital on Staten
Island. On Christmas Eve, his local Maritime Union made him a present
of a pair of mechanical aluminum legs. He can walk fairly well on
these now, using a cane.

    Wallenhaupt is something of a legend at the hospital because
during the long months in bed he kept things so lively.

    Now, at age 27, he is taking a general business course, because
his shipping company has promised him a desk job. On the side he is
learning Russian and Spanish. He loves parties. He has learned to
write legibly, using the thumb and knuckle joint of the index finger.
His writing has improved so much in the last few months that the bank
has asked him to change his file signature. He hates sympathy and
doesn't want any part of people who feel sorry for him. He doesn't
feel sorry for himself.

    August WaUenhaupt (fireman), was the sole survivor of the SS

The Loss of the SS WILLIAM C. GORGAS

    About 2330 hours, the SS WILLIAM C. GORGAS was struck by a torpedo
in the engine room killing the watch on duty and completely disabling
the ship. The weather was very rough and getting the lifeboats away
was very difficult. One of the boats was smashed, spilling all of the
men in it into the sea. The boat i was in was picked up about 0500 on
March 11th by HMS HARVESTER.

    Upon going aboard the destroyer, we found most of the crew as well
as members of the Armed Guard already on board. Twelve men were
missing including the Chief Mate, 2nd Mate, 3rd Engineer, and the
Radio Operator. The Captain and most of the crew had been rescued.

    During the attack on the convoy, the HARVESTER had rammed the
U-444 and in doing so rode up on the sub and broke a propeller shaft
and destroyed the submarine detection system which was located on the
bottom of her hull. Due to this she had been assigned the task of
picking up survivors. At 0800 on March 11 the other shaft broke thus
leaving the destroyer helpless. At 1100 hours, while lying dead in the
water, the HARVESTER was struck by a torpedo on her port side, the lee

    Some of the men had been below attempting to sleep. I had found it
so cold that I could not sleep so when the ship was hit, the Chief
Engineer and I were on deck. Captain Ellis had been below and now came
on deck and he appeared to be in a dazed condition. He was without his
shirt and life jacket. One of our men offered him his life jacket but
the Captain told him, "That belongs to you, son." Someone gave him a
life ring and he put it on. Some of the men had started going
overboard by now and the Captain also started to go. I said to him,
"Captain, don't go now, we have plenty of time!" He looked at me and
then jumped into the sea. He was caught by a large wave and when the
sea cleared, the life ring was floating but the Captain was not in
sight. Captain Ellis was a good and brave man.

    British warships did not carry lifeboats in wartime and as far
as I could see the only life saving gear on board was the life belts.
The crew and others were busy throwing everything that would float
overboard. The Chief and I went to the stern and began to think about
how and when to abandon ship. I had some unhappy experiences in the
Barents Sea when the SS BELLINGHAM was sunk and I did not want to
leave a dry deck until the last possible moment. The Chief decided to
go off the stern but I decided to go off the starboard side about 4
feet from the stern. There were two British officers standing on the
bridge and one of them shouted through a horn, "Yanks, don't wait too
long!" The Chief and I wished each other luck and we stepped off into
the sea. While I was sinking in the water another torpedo hit the
HARVESTER breaking her in two. The after section of the ship came
back with such force that I was struck behind my ear and for a little
while I was not in control of my senses. When my vision had cleared, I
could see what had happened. The after section of the ship had run
over the Chief and now stood in a vertical position on her stern. The
forward section was in a vertical position also with her bow in the
air. My head at this time was immovable, probably due to the blow
and the icy cold water.

    The sub now surfaced and waited. It did not molest anyone. In
about an hour, the French Corvette ACONIT came upon the scene and
attacked the sub. The fight lasted for about an hour. Finally the
ACONIT got the sub to the surface and landed six direct hits causing
the Germans to run up the white flag. Thirty-one men were removed from
the disabled sub. The Captain of the sub refused to leave when
thrown a line and went below. He went down with the sub (U-432). His
First Officer told us his Captain was only 21 years old.

    The ACONIT now began to pick up the survivors of the HARVESTER
and as the weather had scattered the men over a large area of the
water, it was slow going. I was picked up just before dark and the
last thing I remember while in the water was an officer shouting at me
in French. I woke up in a bunk none the worse for wear. I was told
that I passed out and seaman was sent down to tie a rope on me, then I
was pulled aboard.

    The ACONIT rescued 61 survivors from the HARVESTER including 52
English, 8 Americans, and a German who had been taken off the U-444,
the sub she had rammed the night before. We were taken to Gourock,
Scotland without any more trouble.

               Yancey N. Hall
        Ex. First Assistant Engineer


    It was during that period of time in World War II when so many
allied ships were being lost due to enemy action, that an American oil
tanker owned by the Tidewater Associated Oil Co., after a trip to the
Persian Gulf, sailed from Capetown, South Africa. Its destination was
to be Trinidad for a load of oil then to return to the U.S.A. Since
there was no convoy going that route that the ship could join, the
vessel was traveling alone without any Naval escort. Without Naval or
Air protection a ship would be lucky to escape the enemy and luck ran
out for the SS WILLIAM F. HUMPHREY after 9 days at sea.

    On July 16, 1942 the HUMPHREY was steaming along about 300 miles
off St. Helena, just below the equator and about 800 miles off the
West Coast of Africa, when its radio officer picked up an SOS message
reporting a ship in distress nearby. After consulting with his first
officer, the Captain decided that the message was legitimate and the
radio officer was told to break radio silence and relay the message on
to a Shore Station, little did they realize that the SOS was a fake
message sent out by one of Germany's "Q" boats. These heavily armed
merchant raiders were disguised as innocent neutral or allied ships.
This ship was the MICHEL, ship #28 of the German fleet of raiders,
its Captain was Hellmuth Von Ruckteschell.

    Using its radio direction finder the MICHEL was able to pinpoint
the location of the SS WILLIAM F. HUMPHREY. Soon thereafter, about
9:30 p.m., the MICHEL closed in for the attack. After launching its
2 torpedo boats, it fired star shells to illuminate the target, then
the shooting started. The MICHEL firing its heavy guns and machine
guns while the 2 torpedo boats kept up a barrage of machine gun fire,
the attack coming from three directions. The HUMPHREY was no match for
the MICHEL whose heavy armament consisted of six 5.9 inch guns, one
4.1 gun, four torpedo tubes, two 37mm and four 20mm machine guns. The
brave gun crew on the HUMPHREY fired back, then the MICHEL, in
retaliation, opened up with everything they had. Salvo after salvo hit
the HUMPHREY. Its radio was soon silenced, its single 5" gun was put
out of action. Shells bursting in the boiler and engine room spaces
knocked out the generators. Being without power, the radio officer
switched to emergency battery power and made his second attempt to
send out an SOS. This wasn't successful because the MICHEL, using its
radio, jammed the air waves and only part of a distress message was
ever gotten out. Even though the HUMPHREY was now stopped the shelling
continued and machine gun fire raked the decks continuously.

Four of the crew and 2 of the Armed Guard were killed which was
needless because the ship was doomed and the crew was abandoning ship.
During the shelling 2 lifeboats were shot out of their davits and
the occupants dumped into the water.

After being hit by about sixty heavy shells, the HUMPHREY showed no
signs of sinking so the MICHEL maneuvered in closer and fired two tor-
pedoes into the HUMPHREY, then blasted away at the tankers single 5'
gun on the stern. Soon the tanker stern began to settle, its bow
raised up and while in an almost vertical position, the ship plunged
to the bottom. Its position in the South Atlantic Ocean being latitude
05 37'S, longitude 00 30'E, the engagement lasting about 1/2 hour.

Those who managed to get away in the other two lifeboats were then
taken prisoner aboard the MICHEL. The last ones off the ship, who had
not made it into the lifeboats, were out swimming and finally got onto
life rafts. After daybreak, the two empty lifeboats were spotted
nearby and survivors, eleven in number, managed to get the lifeboats
and transferred provisions from one to the better of the two boats. Of
the eleven now in the lifeboat, 9 were wounded. The Gun Captain was
the most seriously injured with 1/2 his knee shot away. Under the
direction of the Captain and Second Officer, the sail was hoisted and
in the six days that followed, they traveled about 450 miles sailing
by compass by day and the north star at night. Sailing in a north and
easterly direction, they would eventually have landed on the Coast of
Africa, probably the Gold Coast.

    Existing on lifeboat rations and a limited supply of water, they
cared for the wounded and kept sailing day and night. After having
given up hope of being rescued the survivors had ceased to maintain a
good lookout vigil, when suddenly there appeared a Norwegian freighter
who, after circling the lifeboat, suspecting some trap, stopped and
picked up the occupants. The Norwegian ship TRITON was en route to
Freetown, Sierre Leone and the survivors were dropped off there. Less
fortunate were 26 of the crew who the MICHEL took as prisoners. The
Germans turned them over to the Japanese where they were held in
prisoner of war camps until the war ended. They were horribly treated
and 4 of them died. The Captain of the MICHEL, Helimuth Von Ruck-
teschell was brought to trial in Nuremburg after the war ended. He was
charged with needlessly killing Merchant Seaman. He was found guilty,
given a 10 year sentence and died while in prison.

          William N. Wallace
       3rd Assistant Engineer

One of the 11 survivors who escaped in the lifeboat.

Iceland to Murmansk in PQ-16

    An example of what it was like on a ship bound for North Russia
during the dark days of World War II.

    Written by an unknown crew member on the Calmar Line Freighter SS

    Used by permission of Captain Joseph E. Bullock, Calmar Line

    Wednesday, May 20, 1942: Leaving Iceland on our way to Russia. The
Convoy consists of (36?) cargo ships and an imposing escort of 3 heavy
cruisers, 6 destroyers, 4 corvettes, 2 submarines and an anti-aircraft
converted merchant ship bristling with an assorted array of
anti-aircraft guns (36) besides different calibering.

    Monday, May 25, 1942: Air raid alarm, 3 bells for gun drill, at
6:35 P.M. a number of bombers appeared overhead and the show is on
(The position of the convoy at this time was approximately 300 miles
off the northern tip of Norway.) Other alarms at 7:10 & 8:50 P.M. We
counted 21 planes in ali. The guns of all ships went into action, it
seemed that all hell broke loose. We shot down 5 planes, one ship was
hit slightly (a near miss) but she was able to continue. Total, 5
planes downed, 1 ship hit slightly.

    Tuesday, May 26, 1942: Air raid alarm sounded at 1:00 A.M. Nothing
seemed to be in sight but presently several ships were firing at a
submarine which had launched 2 torpedoes at long range at a ship
astern of us on our starboard quarter; one torpedo went wild but the
other torpedo after missing several ships, struck the SS SYROS in her
bow. She exploded immediately and went down in 59 seconds. We saw her
disappear below the water. (Ail who saw this catastrophe had a very
empty feeling in the pit of his stomach as it was our first disaster.)
The explosion was terrific and was accompanied by a heavy pyrotechnic
display. Continual submarine attacks during the day, weather being
overcast and some snow. 4:40 P.M. bombers overhead, 3 huge planes,
driven off by anti-aircraft fire. No hits. 6:30 P.M., one plane off to
starboard circled the convoy but did not attack. Probably a scout
plane. (Incidentally, during these next four days, we had one and
sometimes two scout seaplanes with us circling the convoy staying just
out of gun range, low on the horizon.

These planes caused numerous false alarms and made nervous wrecks out
of everyone. They were quickly named "Stoolpigeon" as they kept the
attacking force informed of our position.) To add to our trouble,
daylight is continuous as we are in the Arctic Circle (Land of the
Midnight Sun). 9:30 & 11:30 P.M. submarine's heard by our Escort's
detector system. The destroyers dropped a number of Depth Charges (We
heard that 4 submarines were probably sunk). Total I ship sunk, 1
other dropped out of the convoy, 1 sub sunk and 4 others probably

     Wednesday, May 27, 1942: This is a day we shall always remember.
No rest. They seemed to be determined to wipe out this convoy, which
is the largest armed convoy to try to get thru to Russia. 1:15 A.M. 4
bombers overhead, two of which came in low and attacked. Hundreds of
bullets and shells were fired at them. They dropped a number of
bombs, all missed, dropping into the sea. Neither plane apparently
hit. 10:30 A.M. Stukas (dive bombers) appeared. The din and noise of
gunfire from the anti-aircraft and pom pom guns, machine guns (30 to
50 calibre) was terrible. Attacks continued for l 1/2 hours. At noon
the SS ALAMAR (another Calmar Line Ship) was hit on her afterdeck by
several aerial bombs and set afire, the flames leaped high into the
air, from many drums of high test gasoline stowed on the topside. She
fell behind the convoy. Another ship was hit and fell back with ALAMAR
out of control and these two ships nearly crashed together. 12:30
P.M. both the ALAMAR and the other ship slipped beneath the water. The
crews getting off in boats. A Russian ship carrying 3 bombers on her
topside was hit forward. Flames leaped high into the air and great
clouds of smoke rolled out, however, the crew could be seen fighting
the flames with steam and water and the ship continued with the
convoy. No planes hit. 2:00 P.M. another attack by 7 Stukas.

They came in high, then a long dive right into the tremendous fire of
the convoy's guns and dropped their devilish cargo of bombs. One ship
was hit and disabled, her bow was shot half off, leaving a hole in her
starboard bow just above the water line that you could put a
locomotive thru, the ship plowed right on tho. Another ship was hit by
4 direct aerial bombs, a terrific explosion, dense yellow smoke and
debris flying in all directions. When the smoke cleared, the ship
had completely disappeared, no one rescued. She was the SS EMPIRE
LAWRENCE which carried a Hurricane Fighter plane which was shot down
earlier in the fight. The pilot of the plane was saved by a destroyer,
he being the only survivor of the illfated ship. We certainly were
catching hell. 3:30 P.M. Everything seemed to be in their favor, sun-
shine, clear blue sky and perfect visibility.

Another attack by 7 Stukas. We (MASSMAR) were just missed this time.
The ship astern of us and the one on our starboard hand were both hit
lightly but were able to proceed. One plane down in dense smoke. Many
shots fired. 6:30 P.M. Another attack. These attacks seemed to come
regularly every two hours. Being off the coast of Norway, near the
North Cape. These planes just return to their base nearby and bring
out another load of bombs for us. This attack lasted until 7:30 P.M. 6
planes dropped many bombs. One ship hit forward and set afire. Her
crew abandoned ship immediately for apparent good reason. She sank
shortly with terrific explosion. They evidently tied down the safety
valve on the boilers as she was steaming heavily when they left. The
crew was picked up in a few minutes by one of the corvettes from our
escort. Total: 4 ships sunk, 4 hit but continued on, 1 plane downed.
Counted 128 aerial bombs today.

     Thursday, May 28, 1942:4:00 A.M. air-raid alarm, only one plane
which did not attack, evidently the scout or spotter plane. One ship
that had been hit slightly and was proceeding with a bad port list had
to be abandoned as it could be seen that they were unable to steer her
any longer. The crew was transferred to a destroyer. The abandoned
ship was sunk by our own submarines to prevent her from becoming a
derelict. 9:37 A.M. air raid alarm. Only the scout plane coming too
close and it was fired upon. 4:40 P.M. several planes appeared on the
horizon but did not attack immediately. We are passing thru ice fields
and have seen several medium sized icebergs, also a number of seals.
The 24 hour daylight that prevails keeps us pretty much on the move
constantly. We get sleep in 1 or 2 hour intervals. The sky today is
overcast and hazy, for which we are very thankful because it spoils
their marksmanship and keeps them Iow where we can drive them off with
gunfire. 8:37 P.M. planes heard above the clouds. No attack. 10:00
P.M. 2 bombs dropped out of clouds just missed our ship. Fell into
water alongside and shook us up heavily. Total: 1 ship sunk.

    Friday, May 29, 1942:4:30 A.M. to 5:00 A.M. air attack. Many shots
fired by convoy guns. A few bombs dropped. 1 plane brought down. The
sea is very rough and a high wind blowing. The planes seem to be
having trouble maneuvering. They came in very close to the water. The
cruisers and destroyers drove them off with a heavy fire. They
returned again and one plane was brought down. Several aerial
torpedoes were dropped but no ships were hit. 5:30 P.M. 1 plane
appeared. 2 Russian cruisers and 1 destroyer have joined the convoy.
One of them opened fire at long range with their guns and drove the
plane off. No hits. 10:28 P.M. Another lengthy, hot attack by Stuka
dive bombers. Many bombs dropped, many shells fired. Weather being bad
for both sides, no hits were made. The convoy is splitting up. Several
ships and escort vessels have left and are going to Archangel. The
rest of us will run for Murmansk. 11:30 P.M. They haven't stopped
coming yet.

Overhead again, dropping many bombs. Not hits but some very close
shaves. Our convoy now consists of 21 cargo ships and 10 escort
vessels, including 2 cruisers, 4 destroyers, 2 corvettes and 2
submarines. These submarines are very helpful as they have an
anti-aircraft gun which they fire during each raid and they also aid
in detecting enemy submarines.

    Saturday, May 30, 1942 (Memorial Day): As we are nearing land we
thought the raids were over but alarms were sounded at 1:20 A.M. and
2:15 A.M. Then at 8:04 & 9:10 A.M. This last attack was very heavy,
but all bombs missed and no planes hit. A number of Russian fighter
planes appeared high overhead apparently to escort us to port. 12:30
P.M. a very hasty thrust by 2 enemy planes that evidently eluded the
Russian fighters. They dove out of the clouds but all bombs missed and
no planes hit. Hurrah -- Land Ho! On both sides eleven Russian
fighters appeared overhead and believe me, we sighed a breath of

Everyone is about all in. Very little sleep and always on the alert
for more attacks. The ship has been terribly shaken up by the firing
and by the near-hits. Bombs dropped close by ship feel and sound as if
they had hit us. Depth charges fired by our escort also shake us very
hard. This 24 hour daylight business has helped our enemy very much,
exposing us to attacks all day long. Since leaving Iceland, the
weather has been fairly cold, close to freezing most of the time. 2:00
P.M. We are now entering the Kola River, it is about 30 miles up the
river to the city of Murmansk. 5:00 P.M. Pilot came aboard to take us
up river. 12 midnight, we have anchored in the harbor at Murmansk.

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