SS Henry Bacon rescues Norwegian refugees at cost of American mariner lives
Odlin - Maritime 62
WAR SHIPPING ADMINISTRATION
Tuesday Afternoon Papers
April 3, 1945
Cleared and Released
Through Facilities of the
Office of War Information
Fifteen American merchant seamen, including the vessel's master, lost their lives but all 19 Norwegian refugees who were aboard were saved when the Liberty ship Henry Bacon was sunk by German planes off the Norway coast a few weeks ago, the War Shipping Administration reported today.
The heroism, seamanship and self-sacrifice of the crew, predominantly from the northeastern part of the United States, brought a fervent expression of appreciation from Crown Prince Olav and the Norwegian High Command in London to whom the refugees related details of their escape from death in Arctic waters.
After carrying 7,500 tons of war cargo to Murmansk, Russia, the Henry Bacon, named in honor of the famous architect who designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, started home in convoy. As passengers she carried 19 of several hundred Norwegian refugees who were being evacuated with the convoy to the United Kingdom.
Liberty Ship Donald F. Haviland, chief engineer, was safe in a lifeboat but chose to give his seat to a younger man
Off the coast of Norway the war freighter twice lost contact with the convoy because of heavy weather and finally became the target of more than a score of enemy planes. Witnesses report five were shot down by the Navy armed guard of the ship before an aerial torpedo plunged into the hold under the No. 5 hatch. The vessel began settling at once but until she went down her, guns kept firing.
When the order to abandon ship was given one of the four lifeboats was smashed in lowering and another had been damaged by weather and capsized. Two were successfully launched, one carrying the 19 refugees and a few crewmen and the other, 15 crewmen and seven gunners. All these and other survivors who had jumped overboard or had-taken to rafts were later picked up by British naval craft.
All senior officers having been lost in the sinking, Joseph L. Scott, acting third officer, of Norway, Maine, makes the official report on the loss of the Henry Bacon. He related that the master, Capt. Alfred Carini, Long Island City, N. Y. went down with his ship. He was last seen on the bridge.
Other heroic actions reported by Scott were:
Robert J. Hunt, purser, whose mother, Mrs. Mary Scott lives in Greensboro, N. C., might have saved his own life had he not stopped to give first aid to a wounded gunner.
Donald F. Haviland, chief engineer, whose next of kin is his sister, Mrs. F. McGrath, Weymouth, Mass., was safe in a lifeboat but chose to give his seat to a younger man and returned to the sinking ship. He was not seen again.
Holcomb Lammon, boatswain, Mobile, Ala., saved the lives of many before losing his own, Scott reports.
From Crown Prince Olav, commander-in-chief of the Norwegian Forces, Vice Admiral Emory S. Land, USN, retired, War Shipping Administrator, has received, the following letter:
"I am in receipt of a communication from the Norwegian High Command in London commending highly the spirit, loyalty and ability of the officers and crew of the vessel Henry Bacon, of the United States commercial fleet.
"The communication reveals that with the last convoy to leave Murmansk were carried to safety around 500 Norwegian men, women and children, all evacuees from Western Finnmark (a Norway province). Most of the evacuees were taken on board American merchantmen.
"During a storm the Henry Bacon was separated from the convoy and came into a life and death fight with the enemy. After having downed five enemy planes the vessel was sunk. The Henry Bacon carried 19 of the evacuees... all 19 were saved. The master and all officers but one were lost, together with others on the vessel.
"On receipt of this heroic tale I find it incumbent upon me to express to you, Sir, my appreciation and admiration of the outstanding discipline and self-sacrifice displayed by the officers and crew of the Henry Bacon, in pact wits the finest tradition of American sailors."
In addition to the missing men listed above, the next of kin have been notified that the following were not among the crewmen of the Liberty ship were rescued:
Lynn P. Palmer, chief mate, wife, Irene, New York City.
Carl D. H. Fubel, second mate, wife, Nellie, East Boston, Mass.
Robert L. Cramer, able seaman, wife, Pearl, Chocowinity, N. C.
Frederick C. Funken, able seaman, wife, Harriet, Dayton, Ky.
Donald P. Schiescher, ordinary seaman, father, Frank, Chicago Heights, Ill.
Edgar B. Snyder, first assistant engineer, wife, Monteen, Robinson, Ill.
Joseph E. Provencal, second assistant engineer, wife, Marie, Danielson, Conn.
John Mastracci, chief cook, wife, Marion, Revere, Mass.
Cornelius A. Kearns, second cook, wife, Ellen, Jersey City, N. J.
George W. Shipka, messmen, wife, Ann, Elizabeth, N. J.
James Martin, ordinary seaman, mother, Mrs. Millicent Martin, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Survivors include, in addition to Third Officer Scott, these merchant seamen of the Henry Bacon:
Earnal S. Campbell, chief radioman, Jasper, Ala.
William A. Herrman, second radioman, Pleasant Ridge, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Joseph Marback, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Raymond E. Greenwell, able seaman, St. Louis, Mo.
Marion Williams, ordinary seaman, East Longmeadow, Mass.
Lawrence E. Champlin, third assistant engineer, Worcester, Mass.
Woodrow W. Pozen, oiler, Waltham, Mass.
William P. Gorman, oiler, Allston, Mass.
John C. Ramsey, oiler, Franklin, Pa.
Fergus White, fireman-watertender, East Boston, Mass.
Herbert Isaac, fireman-watertender, Chelsea, Mass.
William Willdridge, fireman-watertender, Weymouth, Mass,
William M. Gray, wiper, Springfield, Ill.
Richard Burbine, wiper, Melrose, Mass.
Clayton A. Ingram, steward, Savannah, Ga.
John Bartin, night cook and baker, Buffalo, N. Y.
Robert Tatosky, messman, New York City.
Joseph S. Pszybyss, messman, St. James, Long Island, N. Y.
Marion F. Clay, messman, Lakeview, Ohio.
David S. Goodrick, utilityman, Boston, Mass.
Michael F. Norris, utilityman, Chelsea, Mass.
Robert C. Reed, utilityman, Berilah, Mich.
Wilmo M. Testerman, deck engineer, Foster, Ohio.
Donald H. Garatz, ordinary seaman, West Duluth, Minn.
The Henry Bacon was delivered from the Wilmington yard of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company January 24, 1942. She was operated for the War Shipping Administration by the South Atlantic Steamship Line, Savannah, Ga.
- - - 0 - - -
Donald F. Haviland was posthumously awarded the U.S. Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Holcomb Lammon was posthumously awarded the U.S. Merchant Marine Meritorious Medal
Photo: "All They Had for Norway," Nautical Brass, March/April 1994.
WSA Press Releases
www.USMM.org ©1998 - 2007. You may quote small portions of material on this website as long as you cite American Merchant Marine at War, www.usmm.org as the source. You may not use more than a few paragraphs without permission. If you see substantial portions of any page from this website on the Internet or in published material please notify usmm.org @ comcast.net