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 Co. 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 before. 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 lines. 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 raft. 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 morphine. 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 level. 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 PUERTO RICAN. 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 side. 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 SS WILLIAM C. GORGAS The Saga of the SS WILLIAM F. HUMPHREY 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 05ø 37'S, longitude 00ø 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 SS WILLIAM F. HUMPHREY 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 MASSMAR. Used by permission of Captain Joseph E. Bullock, Calmar Line Master. 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 sunk. 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 relief. 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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