The Honolulan that served in World War Two was the third and final vessel by the name in American-Hawaiian service.

The first Honolulan was built in 1910 by Bethlehem Steel - Sparrows Point, MD and served with American-Hawaiian Steamship Co. under the name until 1916. Sold that year to a Norwegian shipping company and renamed Thorvald Halvorsen, sold again in 1921 and renamed Argentina, and finally sold to Luckenbach Steamship Co. and renamed Jacob Luckenbach in 1922. She was wrecked off the coast of Costa Rica in May of 1927 and scrapped at Baltimore, MD in August 1927.

The second Honolulan was a brief name change of the first SS American (built in 1900) toward the end of her career. Late in 1925 American was renamed Honolulan simply to free her name for the newly acquired Santa Barbara. In 1926, Honolulan was sold for scrap and taken to Osaka, Japan, and broken up some time after her arrival there in November of that year.

The third Honolulan, which relates to this story, was originally launched as West Faralon on April 19th, 1921 at yard number 32 by the Los Angeles Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., San Pedro, California, under contract for the United States Shipping Board (USSB). Her keel was laid seven months earlier on September 27th, 1920, and she was delivered on or about July 15th, 1921.

The first Honolulan. Note traditional masts and extra deck. Eldredge Collection. Archive No. P0001.003/01-#PB26324. Courtesy of the Mariner's Museum https://catalogs.marinersmuseum.org/object/ARI73220

West Faralon was the second of five vessels built to this very unique design, to which the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) assigned their last known Design Number, 1133. The other 4 vessels being:

      • West Lewark – Delivered to the USSB June 1921. Taken over by the Navy and renamed USAT Meigs in 1922, she was sunk by Japanese aircraft during their raid on Darwin, Australia on February 19th, 1942.

      • West Greylock - Delivered to the USSB August 1921. 1923 renamed Greylock by Seas Shipping Co Inc, New York. Sunk by U-255 on February 3rd, 1943.

      • West Prospect - Delivered to the USSB September 1921. 1927 renamed Golden Sun by Oceanic & Oriental, 1938 renamed Mokihana by Matson Navigation Co., 1948 renamed Frixos by Cristobal, 1954 broken-up in Osaka, Japan.

      • West Chopaka - Delivered to the USSB November 1921. 1927 renamed Golden Dragon by Oceanic & Oriental, 1938 renamed Mahimahi by Matson Navigation Co., 1948 renamed Mongibello by Unione, 1949 renamed Polifemo by Unione, 1959 broken-up in Osaka, Japan.

Detail of trusses across king posts of Honolulan, including catwalk and topmast. View is looking aft at the sixth pair. Circa 1940. Photo courtesy of Larz Neilson. © All Rights Reserved.

EFC Design 1133 was unique in several ways. First and foremost, the design did not have traditional centerline masts fore and aft like most other freighters of the day. In their place it utilized seven pairs of extra large King Posts, four located forward of the deckhouse and 3 after. The second and sixth pair of King Posts had a topmast mounted at the center of a large truss that bridged the pair of posts and included a catwalk on top. To these were mounted an impressive 23 loading booms. It is believed this was somewhat of an experimental design, and that by locating these King Posts where they did they could load and unload cargo more efficiently on both sides by the crew themselves if need be. According to her future crew member Harold Small;

King Posts present better load bearers for heavy lifts than standard 5 ton mast supported booms. The heft of the weight is vertically closer to both the dock and the direct drop into the cargo hold.

No other Emergency Fleet Corporation designs that I’m aware of incorporated the all King Post design. I only found two USSB requisitioned designs (vessels already in production before the EFC was established) that utilized all King Posts, which were:

  • Walter A. Luckenbach launched in June of 1918 by Seattle Construction and Dry Dock Company. Single vessel originally intended for Luckenbach Steamship Company.

  • South Bend, Marica, Edellyn, and Sol Navis all launched in 1919 by Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Chester. PA. All also originally intended for Luckenbach Steamship Company.

Twenty plus years later in World War Two, some Liberties and C-4's were built as tank carriers with all King Posts rigged.

The second design characteristic of note was that it was a flush deck design with a smaller than usual after house and an extra deck between the shelter deck level and the boat deck level.

The National Archives had a basic set of plans from the USSB catalogue, but unfortunately the original high resolution paste-ups on card stock, such as I was able to find on Arkansan, could not be found and are presumed lost. As you can see below, much of the detail concerning her deckhouse and engine room is incomplete, but most of the information on her cargo holds and handling is intact.

United States Shipping Board - Emergency Fleet corporation, Records Section, Ship Construction Division, Design No. 1133 (Oil Burner) Steel Cargo Ship. Drawings are from 'Steel Cargo Vessels of the United States Shipping Board - 8,000 D.W.T. and Over', Department of Ship Sales, Catalogue No. 3, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. - 1925. From the holding of the Special Media Archives Services Division, Cartographic Section of the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. Record Group 32.

West Faralon’s maiden voyage was noted in the January 10th, 1922 edition of the 'New York Shipping' periodical as follows:

West Faralon’s Staunch Construction Tested – The West Faralon, after her first European round trip of approximately 20,000 miles, returned to her home port at Los Angeles, abundantly proving the staunchness of her construction and the reliability of her machinery by her splendid behavior when forced to stand and take the most severe hurricane recorded in the Caribbean for some years past. On her outward journey, just southwest of Puerto Rico, while too close to land to be able to run away from the hurricane, she was hit by a fierce blow which lasted twelve hours, mountainous seas breaking over her, sweeping the decks and testing her every rivet, plate and frame. At the end of the blow her bilges were sounded and found to be entirely dry. Her damage consisted of some bent deck gear, the loss of a boat or two and the breaking-in of some of the doors of the crew’s quarters along the main deck. Nineteen barrels of lubricating oil on her deck were torn from their lashings, smashed and carried overboard, the oil serving to materially calm the seas around her. From Antwerp to Los Angeles the vessel averaged twelve knots. Her main engines were never stopped between ports during her entire round trip and Captain L.A. Waters, in command of her, is emphatic in his credit to the Los Angeles Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, her builders, for the quality of material and work they put into her.

The storm they reference was probably the October 1921 Category 4 Hurricane that eventually hit Tampa Bay, Florida as a Category 3.

Courtesy of Captain Stephen S, Roberts at www.shipscribe.com

SS West Lewark moored pierside in June 1921, soon after completion, showing the configuration of the after portion of this large freighter. Courtesy of Captain Stephen S, Roberts at www.shipscribe.com

Other than the European voyage described above, West Faralon was contracted by Struthers & Barry (who also acted as Agents) in late 1922 or early 1923 and served the transpacific routes between San Francisco and various ports in Japan, China, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, and Straits Settlements (i.e.; Singapore). Her first Master under this arrangement appears to have been M.M. Walk, followed by George Winkel in 1924. In early 1925 her crew lists identified her as being operated by American Far East Lines, also with Struthers & Barry as Agents. In 1927 Murvin Elwood Shigley took over as Master. He was born in California in 1899 and had served as West Faralon’s Chief Mate since 1923. Edgar S Sutton would take over the Chief Mate’s position soon after.

In early 1927, operations were taken over by American Australia Orient Line, Swayne & Hoyt Inc., Agents. The USSB remained the owners, and West Faralon continued in transpacific service. I was able to locate the following sailings for West Faralon:

In the spring of 1928, the freight service of Swayne & Hoyt between San Francisco and the Orient was sold to the newly formed Oceanic & Oriental Navigation Co., the joint venture between American-Hawaiian and Matson Navigation, and West Faralon was renamed Golden Hind. Some sources state the transfer occurred in 1927, but while this may be when the sale was finalized, crew lists show that she remained as West Faralon under Swayne & Hoyt’s control until early 1928, arriving April 29th, 1928 from Amoy, China (present day Xiamen). Matson’s vessels served the southern Pacific routes such as Australia and New Zealand, and American-Hawaiian’s (including Golden Hind) served the northern Pacific routes such as China and Japan.

Broadside view of the Golden Hind docked at a pier May 20th, 1933. William B Taylor, photographer. Archive No. P0006/02.01-02.0967#01. Courtesy of the Mariner's Museum https://catalogs.marinersmuseum.org/object/ARI164483

Golden Hind continued on as before plying the transpacific routes between San Francisco and the northern Orient, still under the command of Shigley, with Sutton as Chief Mate. Shigley was a fixture on the Golden Hind and would command her throughout her ten year Oceanic and Oriental career. Sutton left in mid-1929, probably to take command of his own vessel, but he would return.

Arkansan’s Paul R. Jones actually took over from Shigley briefly for four voyages between mid-1935 and mid-1936. I was able to locate the following sailings for Golden Hind:

*According to Wikipedia; "At the end of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), the Treaty of Portsmouth (NH) ceded Port Arthur to Japan, which set up the Kwantung Leased Territory or Guandongzhou, on roughly the southern half of present-day Dalian, China. Japanese invested heavily in the region, which became the main trading port between Manchuria and Japan. Japan leased the area from Manchukuo after establishing the puppet state in 1932."

At the end of 1937 when the Oceanic & Oriental venture ended, American-Hawaiian took full ownership of Golden Hind and renamed her Honolulan. It would seem logical that Honolulan changed to the intercoastal service that American-Hawaiian focused on, however there is little evidence of this at this time.

Shigley continued as Master until late 1940, one of his last voyages on Honolulan being a trip to the Persian Gulf with Larz Neilson aboard. This amounted to 18 years on the same vessel.

The trip to the Persian Gulf was an interesting one. Besides their cargo including Ford automobiles, they had a mysterious passenger on board; a Muslim man who had just graduated from an American college, and could speak several languages, including English. This was somewhat unusual for the time. They simply referred to him as Ali. As the story goes:

The second deck had a number of rooms. Larz and Ali would be near each other on that deck. Another room, about 15 feet in diameter, was designed to be a wheel house, below the main deck. In that wheel house, Larz would have a large piece of cardboard, cut to the shape of an arrow which would be constantly pointing at Mecca.

Larz would update the position whenever he took sightings so his new friend would know which way to face when he prayed. They played chess every afternoon during the voyage. Once they arrived in Basra Iraq, Larz noted:

"Ali remained on board for several days before he could organize a trip back to his home area. He had to get a few cars to accomplish that.

Ali had a party for the officers of the ship the night before he was to leave. All the officers were invited, and the party was in a nice hotel. The surprise of the evening was the Muslim women. They were dressed in clothing which was strictly 'New York', just as they might have been if the party had been held in Paris. It was a nice affair and everyone enjoyed it."

On the left is Honolulan dockside, possibly before departing to the Persian Gulf in 1940. Note 'Ford' crates. On the right is two of the Honolulan's officers with Ali in the center. The man on the right is believed to be Master Murvin Shigley. Note open skylights behind man on left, and lifeboat to the right. Also a good view of the king posts behind them. Photo courtesy of Larz Neilson. © All Rights Reserved.

Edgar S. Sutton, circa 1916 from passport application courtesy of Ancestry.com

Edgar S. Sutton returned to Honolulan as her new Master in early 1941, making a couple of voyages to Singapore and back, the last of which departed October 15th and arrived back in New York via Trinidad on December 29th, 1941, just weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

According to the book "Iron Jaw: A Skipper Tells His Story - Captain Charles N. Bamforth (1895-1975)", Charles A. Bamforth and Richard A. Bamforth, Editors, Published in 2002, Dorrance Publishing Co. (Pittsburgh, Pa), ISBN 0805954171, Sutton was preparing Honolulan to depart for the Persian Gulf February 7th, 1942 when American-Hawaiian learned that Sutton had injured his leg. The company asked Charles N. Bamforth, a long-time American-Hawaiian Master who had become a Coastal Pilot to investigate whether Sutton was fit to sail.

Sutton was eager to stay with Honolulan, but upon examination it was discovered that Sutton had a fractured fibula. Bamforth was selected quite literally as a last minute replacement. They sailed that same evening.

In fact, so sudden was the decision, Sutton did not apparently have time to pack his belongings. According to Bamforth’s diary, Charles spent the Sunday morning before the eventual attack five months later (July 19th) packing Captain Sutton’s things in anticipation of arriving safely in Baltimore.

Shigley would survive the war, but unfortunately Sutton would not.

Shigley served as Nevadan’s Master from late 1941, moved on to the new Liberty Ship Marion McKinley Bovard in 1943, and beginning in mid-1944 through the remainder of the war, served as the new C3 Type Sea Ray’s Master in the Pacific theater. It is believed he served with American-Hawaiian until the bitter end, last serving as the new Panaman’s Master in 1955. He passed away in California in 1964 at the age of 65.

Edgar Stacey "Red" Sutton (the nick-name coming from his auburn hair) returned to San Francisco on November 9th, 1943 from a voyage to Brisbane Australia as Master of the Liberty Ship S. Hall Young. On December 22nd, however, he died of a heart attack at the age of only 55, the specifics of which I had only recently discovered. He had served with American-Hawaiian for 16 years and had spent 37 years in total at sea.

Harold Small remembers Red Sutton fondly, and admired him as an officer. Small recalls that after he got his 2nd Mate's license he had actually requested an assignment with Sutton from A-H, but was informed he had passed away. In rough weather, Sutton would pay Small, an A.B., overtime to steer the ship ahead and come on his watch and talk to him. Small considered him a true gentleman officer.

I will likely profile Sutton and Shigley in detail at a later date in my ‘Masters, Mates & Pilots’ section.

Note: The book ‘Iron Jaw’ is currently out of print, however, available from Richard A. Bamforth, P. O. Box 5068, Augusta ME 04332, prbamforth@gmail.com

The Attack

The accounts you are about to read from Master Bamforth’s perspective are from his book "Iron Jaw: A Skipper Tells His Story - Captain Charles N. Bamforth (1895-1975)", Charles A. Bamforth and Richard A. Bamforth, Editors, Published in 2002, Dorrance Publishing Co. (Pittsburgh, Pa), ISBN 0805954171. This copyrighted material is used with permission of the Bamforth family. I have also used the recollections of Harold L. Small, O.S. at the time, where appropriate.

The unarmed, unescorted Honolulan was on her return leg to Baltimore from Basra, Iraq and Bombay, India via Cape Town South Africa and Trinidad B.W.I. under the command of 47-year-old Master Charles Nathaniel Bamforth.

SS Honolulan unloading pipe steel and wheat at Basra, Iraq, 1942. "Fine Old Krock" according to Harold Small.

As noted above, they had left New York at the beginning of February, just as the first wave of Operation Drumbeat, the first German U-Boat offensive on the American east coast, was heading home. They had sailed south, stopping at Port-of-Spain Trinidad February 16th, just missing the attacks on that port by U-161 and the other Operation Neuland attacks deeper in the Caribbean. Next, they made their way down the east coast of Brazil before turning east to cross the Atlantic to Cape Town, at which they arrived on March 14th. They reached Basra, Iraq on April 7th and discharged grain plus nine Boston bombers they had on deck. Many of the crew became ill there from dysentery and malaria. On April 19th they reached Abadan, Iran and discharged oil pipe. On April 29th they returned to Basra and discharged more cargo. On May 4th they sailed for Bombay, India which they reached by May 11th. Once again their luck would put them on the right side of an enemy offensive in their area. Ten vessels were sunk off the west and south coasts of India in April by the Japanese, including American-Hawaiian’s own Washingtonian.

There were only two attacks in the Indian Ocean in May, the quietest month since December of 1941. These were down at the northern end of Madagascar at Diego Suarez, which the British had just taken from the Vichy French on May 7th while Honolulan was on her way to Bombay.

SS Honolulan at sea circa 1939 from the cosmocolor film 'Duty to Cargo'.

Bamforth had to put up with a number of illnesses along with some Union troubles by his crew in Bombay. He took the opportunity to have Honolulan chipped and painted by local laborers. On May 31st they finally started loading their cargo of manganese ore, and on June 4th they started loading bales of jute. By June 6th they finished loading 8,329 tons of ore and jute and set sail for Cape Town.

The Japanese launched a major submarine offensive in the Mozambique Channel in June, sinking the most vessels of any month to date in this theater, sixteen, between June 5th and June 30th. Honolulan entered the Channel on June 21st. Amazingly, she ran the gauntlet unscathed, and Bamforth apparently was unaware of the carnage that was happening all around them. See map below for Japanese submarine attacks in the vicinity for April, May and June of 1942.

They reached Cape Town on July 1st. Unfortunately, they had to stay anchored outside the harbor for several days because of a back-log of unloading vessels. This delay would prove crucial. After taking on fresh provisions, they sailed for home on July 5th. Rather than take a similar route back across the Atlantic, British authorities in Cape Town directed them to follow the African coast north for 4,000 miles before heading west to Trinidad where she would join an American convoy heading north to Baltimore. This would be a fateful decision, one that would place her in the path of several German U-Boats operating off the west coast of Africa.

The Type VIIC U-582 under the command of 29-year-old Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander) Werner Schulte had been operating off the west coast of Africa since July 3rd with Group/Wolfpack Hai (Shark). Along with U-582, this Wolfpack consisted of the large Type XB U-116 (Schmitt), which also acted as a supply boat to the other smaller Type VIIC’s, which were; U-136 (Zimmermann), U-201 (Schnee), U-572 (Hirsacker), and U-752 (Schroeter).

Damage to U-582 aft decking from Port Hunter debris. Photo from the German propaganda newspaper 'Hamburger Illustrierte', November 7th, 1942 edition, Number 45. From the private collection of Stephen Ball.

The group successfully attacked the recently dispersed British convoy OS-33 south of the Azores on July 12th. U-116 struck first, damaging the Cortona, which was finished off by U-201. A little over an hour later Schulte’s U-582 struck the Port Hunter, which was carrying ammunition. According to uboat.net:

The torpedo ignited the cargo of ammunition and the vessel disappeared after several heavy detonations, which were seen as flashes at the horizon by other ships of the dispersed convoy. A lot of debris was blown into the air and hailed down on the nearby U-Boat, forcing it to dive immediately. In the meantime, the ship listed heavily to port and sank within two minutes. The motor launch HMNZS ML-1090 was also lost with the vessel. When the U-Boat surfaced again after 20 minutes, only burning fuel oil and wreckage were spotted at the sinking position. At daylight, the Germans examined U-582 and discovered that the net deflector had been torn away when hit by a side plate of the steamer. The side plate was found on deck together with parts of guns and ammunition and an anchor chain hanging over both sides. The falling debris had ruptured the deck at several places and opened leaks in a fuel tank, causing a trail of oil for a while.

This was clearly a memorable event for Schulte and his crew and would affect his tactics going forward, injecting a little caution.

November 7th, 1942 cover of the German propaganda newspaper 'Hamburger Illustrierte' showing commander Schulte on left and his Chief Engineer Karl Cords on the right. The caption in the lower right-hand corner reads: ""Did you see the leak there?" The young submarine commander asks the war reporter. As a torpedoed ammunition steamer went into the air. One part flew through the air and struck the submarine. Nevertheless the war patrol was continued. (We show the leak on side 2)". From the private collection of Stephen Ball.

Two and a half hours later U-201 sank Siris, followed by Shaftesbury five and a half hours later by U-116. The battle continued the following day when U-201 sank Sithonia. Finally on July 15th OS-33 lost her sixth and final member, Empire Attendant to Schulte and U-582.

It didn’t all go the Germans’ way, however, and U-136 (Zimmermann) was lost with all hands on July 11th by depth charges from the Free French destroyer Léopard, the British frigate HMS Spey and the British sloop HMS Pelican as I assume he was preparing to attack convoy OS-33 with the others.

On July 20th Group Hai was disbanded and U-582 was instructed to head southwest to be the first U-Boat of the group to be re-supplied by U-116 on July 23rd. U-116 could provide fuel oil, lubricating oil, fresh water, and food, but not torpedoes. U-201, U-572 and U-752 headed southeast to operate off Freetown and were to be resupplied by U-116 at a later date.

On Wednesday July 22nd U-582 was proceeding southwest towards the rendezvous when at dawn she spotted Honolulan on the horizon heading north-northeast (Course 320 degrees). Schulte quickly plotted an intercept course and planned for a submerged daytime attack. Two hours later U-582 was in position and submerged for her attack run. At 9:27am local Schulte fired a double fan shot from tubes I and III at the starboard side of Honolulan from about 800 meters away. Schulte had overestimated Honolulan’s speed by two knots and misinterpreted a course correction. The errors caused both shots to miss forward.

Honolulan moved along as before, oblivious to what had just occurred. At 1:00pm Bamforth held fire and boat drills, her boats having been swung out ready for lowering most of the voyage.

At 10:27am U-582 surfaced to begin their overtaking maneuver once again. By 3:34pm Schulte was in position and submerged for his final run. Wind was light from the southwest and it was overcast but the sea was calm and visibility was good. At 5:00pm Honolulan’s crew and junior officers were at supper, to be followed by the senior officers at 5:30pm. Bamforth was in his cabin checking timesheets before dinner.

Schulte's sketch from first torpedo report showing his double miss forward.

At 5:12pm local, Schulte gave the command to fire a single G7e torpedo from tube V at the middle of Honolulan from a distance of 1800 meters. It appears he had calculated his firing data based on using one of the forward torpedo tubes and had to change at the last minute for some reason. This delay caused the torpedo to hit farther aft than planned, but the desired effect was achieved anyway.

After a run time of one minute and fifty-seven seconds the torpedo slammed into the number five hold, under the aft mast, at 5:14pm local. Bamforth was thrown back in his chair, his desk ripped from the wall and overturned, and papers scattered everywhere. Honolulan settled aft but still made some head-way.

The steam whistle on the stack started screaming immediately and continuously. There are several explanations in various sources, but according to Bamforth, when the engines were shut down the boilers continued to build pressure and blew the safety valve. The sound was deafening, but the well drilled crew immediately went to their abandon ship stations and prepared to launch the boats.

Schulte's sketch from second torpedo report showing his hit aft.

According to Bamforth;

The radio officer, Mr. Sullivan [ES: Charles Sullivan], had the SOS message already prepared and only needed to insert our position, which the officer on watch gave him immediately. The message read: “AMERICAN STEAMER HONOLULAN. SUBMARINE ATTACK. POSITION 8-41 NORTH, 22-12 WEST. VESSEL SINKING. MASTER.”

After the boats were away, Bamforth returned to the radio shack to make sure the SOS was transmitted, thinking he and Sullivan were the only two left onboard. Sullivan asked him to verify if the antenna was intact, which it was. Bamforth noted:

From that high position in the radio shack I saw that the after deck was settling, awash. Much of the deck gear in the area was broken and adrift. However, I hoped that she might not settle any further. There was still a possibility of bringing the crew back aboard, a more comfortable place to await rescue than in lifeboats.

Perhaps the fact that Schulte had not yet surfaced and challenged the SOS with gunfire or another torpedo gave Bamforth a false sense of security.

Rather than abandoning ship at that point he proceeded to the officer’s mess to gather some food since his and the crew’s dinner was interrupted. Into one white enamel bucket;

From the icebox, I dropped in a dish of hard-boiled eggs, some cheese, and a dish of sliced cold meat. On top of these I put in a dish of sliced jellyroll from the supper table. Into a second bucket I put two loaves of bread”.

He ran this forward and bumped into his Chief Mate, Gardner Coas, and together they began to rig a line to pass the food to the nearest lifeboat.

Ordinary Seaman Harold Small had a slightly different recollection;

I was up on the flying bridge wings releasing securing bridle pelican hooks on 2 rafts. Returning to boat deck found life boat a pile of torn-up tin [ES: Boat 3]. All boats rowing away. Called out to nearest boat which turned around and came down the side of the ship. As it rowed past a hanging boat fall, I jumped overside, onto a boat fall, slid down to the bottom block and dropped into the boat with burnt hands. Shortly thereafter I saw Bamforth & Sullivan run out onto the boat deck and step onto one of the rafts I had released.

This must have looked quite odd to Schulte if he could even see it through his periscope from his vantage point. U-582, still submerged, fired a finishing shot at 5:40pm from tube II at a range of 1,090 meters (perhaps with Port Hunter still on his mind). After a run of one minute, ten seconds, the G7e struck forward of the bridge on the starboard side.

The whole vessel was quickly awash and Bamforth and Coas dove in and swam for the nearest boat, the buckets of food lost to the depths. Radio Officer Sullivan nearly made it off completely dry. He stepped from the boat deck onto a raft, but as the Honolulan sank something struck the raft and Sullivan went under. O.S. Small noted:

"The stack nudged the raft as the ship listed to port as it sank by the bow, its propeller slowly turning. Something fouled the whistle lanyard and she gave a farewell blast. Grand old girl".

Honolulan slipped beneath the surface within three minutes of the last torpedo hit, or thirty minutes after she was first hit. At least the steam whistle was finally silenced. Moments later Sullivan popped to the surface along with several hundred bales of jute, and one of the lifeboats maneuvered over to retrieve him.

At 5:47 Schulte finally surfaced the U-582 near the number 4 lifeboat. Bamforth recalls:

Four minutes later a submarine, painted gray with no visible identifying marks, rose from beneath the surface near number four boat. The submarine commander and eight men emerged from the conning tower and ordered the boat alongside. They were all young and suntanned – they must have had a secret base somewhere in the South Atlantic”.

Another popular belief among Merchant Mariners, that the Germans had secret bases, was of course, false. They were all sun-tanned because they spent most of their time on the surface, not because they were staying on land. U-Boats spent most of their time on the surface at this stage of the war, as U-582’s log attests; 598 nautical miles surfaced and 14.35 nautical miles submerged in the 72 hours before, during and after the attack. U-Boats were usually re-supplied from homeward bound U-Boats, special supply U-Boats (like the U-116 and other more specialized boats), or surface vessels like blockade runners and armed merchant cruisers.

Bamforth continued:

The men manned three guns on the afterdeck, one on the forward deck, and one in the conning tower. Another man held a machine gun and another a movie camera. All these devices were aimed directly at us. I let the weighted bag of secret codes slip to the bottom.

Having the guns manned would have been standard operating procedure for the Germans, a show of overwhelming force to protect themselves and their boat from any foolish behavior from the survivors. There were cases where survivors brought firearms with them. U-582 would have at least had their 20mm machine cannon on the wintergarten manned for anti-aircraft defense, as they likely knew they were within range of the RAF in Bathurst. This was manned by one gunner and two men to help re-load ammunition. Besides commander Schulte, the Second Watch Officer would be topside acting as the gunnery officer. There were probably 2-4 men with binoculars ignoring the survivors and constantly scanning the horizon and sky for any sign of danger. Most of the men pointing weapons at the lifeboats would have been armed with small arms, either standard issue Schmeisser MP-40 sub-machine guns or perhaps even Mauser Kar-98 rifles. There were no mounts for machine guns on the forward or aft deck (These men likely had the aforementioned MP-40's) but there was on the conning tower. There they likely mounted a light machine gun called an MG-34, which could have been used to cover the lifeboats or for anti-aircraft defense. In Bamforth's original notes he also mentions a count of 17 men, which could indicate that the main 88mm armament was manned as well.

The comment about the man with a movie camera really intrigued me. A still camera would be one thing, and might have been carried by an officer, but a movie camera suggests something more official or propaganda related.

Kriegsberichter filming on U-132 circa May 1942. Note size of movie camera and shape of Type VII forward deck with 88mm main gun mount. Courtesy of Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), Bild 191II-MW-4462-16, Böttger, Gerd / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Germans utilized war correspondents, as did we, with front line units. In the Germans’ case these men were called “Kriegsberichter”, and they had basic training and were given a junior officer’s rating like “Leutnant”, or Lieutenant j.g.. These men were typically (but not always) writers and/or photographers before the war, and were drafted into these “Propaganda Kompanies” (P.K.). They would collect information which would then be sent higher up the chain of command in the Propaganda Ministry, which would then massage the information for publication. The most famous of these men that joined a U-Boat patrol was no doubt Lothar-Günther Buchheim. He joined U-96 for a patrol in the fall of 1941. After the war he would later convert his notes into a short story, which became the basis for his epic novel “Das Boot” in 1973, which in turn was adapted to a movie by the same name in 1981, garnering six Oscar nominations.

The vast majority of Kriegsberichter did not enjoy the same level of fame and were quite anonymous, such as the man that joined U-582 on this patrol, 30-year-old Arnold Prokop. Three of his photographs (used throughout this page) did make it into the propaganda periodical 'Hamburger Illustrierte' (Hamburger Illustrated magazine) named after the northern German City where U-582 was built. It would be fascinating to know if any of his other photographs survived, or perhaps even the movie of Honolulan’s survivors being questioned.

Bamforth goes on to describe the encounter between U-582 and number 4 boat as follows:

The U-Boat commander asked Mr. Nelson [ES: 43-year-old Second Mate Oscar Nelson], commander of number 4 boat, “What is the name of your vessel?” He spoke English well. Then he asked, “Of what nationality? From what port did you sail? Where were you bound?” After receiving Nelson’s answers, he asked, “Where is your captain? Are he and the others all right? Do you have food and water? Do you have cigarettes? With a negative response to the last question, the commander handed down two cartons of Overstoltz cigarettes and a bag of matches. Then he gave Nelson a bearing of 337 Degrees to the neutral Cape Verde Islands. He advised the boat to shove off to avoid being hit by the sub’s propeller, and called, “Good luck.” In great relief [ES: they probably thought they would be machine gunned, not assisted], all those in Mr. Nelson’s boat shouted, “Thank you, and good luck to you!” The submarine disappeared over the horizon to the south”.

Schulte described it similarly in his war diary, which translated reads:

The crew of one of the three lifeboats was asked about the name of the ship. It was the North American steamer "H o n o l u l a n" of 7493 tons of the American Hawaiian SS Co / New York on the trip from Cape Town to Baltimore. The lifeboats were well equipped, the crew did not need water and provisions; they asked for cigarettes which they received from us. The course to the Cape Verdes was shouted to them, they hoped to be picked up soon. Afterwards ran off to the meeting place with U 116”.

Harold Small recalls:

"The German sub came alongside our boat, with a young and healthy tanned crew. The young skipper queried our condition and offered a hot cooked meal before leaving and tossed over a case of German Overstoltz cigarettes. His parting remark was 'Sorry gentlemen, Fortunes of War'. No fanatic Nazi apparently."

Small went on to say:

"I do not remember if the subs big guns were manned. Only recall small arms directed at us. Machine pistols and other small arms. But not real menacing. They seemed to be having a helluva good time. No exterior marking noted.

When the sub came alongside we almost grounded on the subs side bulge [ES: saddle tanks for storing fuel]. Surprising that no one in our boats panicked. Mariners not made of the same stuff as Marines. To me, a witless kid it was high adventure on the high seas. I was disappointed that we did not sail up the Gambia River to Bathurst."

One detail which I found to be quite remarkable is that Schulte actually took the time in his report to comment on Honolulan’s unique design:

It was a flush-decker with a straight bow and old style stern. Bridge and stack were not separated and stood out from a short low superstructure. In total the steamer had 7 double king posts which were higher than the bridge, 4 before the superstructure and 3 behind it. The 2nd and 6th king posts each had a truss with a topmast in the middle.

At 6:50pm, Schulte radioed headquarters:

Honolulan sunk, 320 degrees, 8 knots, Marine Quadrant ES 3457: 1 plus 2 eels -Schulte- ”.

Eels” is the German nickname for torpedoes.

Rescue and Repatriation

Once the U-582 left, the lifeboats gathered closer and took a roll call. Only then did they discover that Oiler Clarence McMaster was missing. They spread out and began to search amongst the debris, but McMaster could not be found. The men, fearing the worst, asked Bamforth to say a few words for McMaster. With dusk approaching they took stock of their situation:

They were 500 miles from the nearest land, missing one man, but their lifeboats were well supplied, and they had managed to get their distress signal off in time. Bamforth thought it best to stay in the area for the time being with approaching weather and had the boats moored together and sea anchor deployed. It was a miserable, rainy, rough first night and most of the survivors became sick. Once an hour they shot a rocket into the air.

The next morning, Thursday July 23rd, Bamforth noted:

At daybreak we saw a four-motored plane patrolling the area. At 9:30 it dropped a yellow package nearby, which proved to be a lifejacket and a container with chocolate, a smoking pipe, tobacco, and a message reading: “CORVETTE BE OUT AT 6 AM. MAN IN YELLOW LIFEJACKET 1 ½ MILES UPWIND. MUST LEAVE, SHORT OF FUEL. SERGEANT FELLARD [sic], BATHURST.

Short Sunderland Mark I, T9078 KG-E of No. 204 Squadron RAF, moored at Bathurst, Gambia. Built at Rochester, delivered December 9th, 1940. Note tanker and freighter in background. This aircraft blew up at moorings at Half Die Bay, Gambia, August 16th, 1942 less than a month after assisting Honolulan's survivors. Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Ref: MH6669. https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207958

The direct quote from Bamforth’s actual diary reads

Daybreak 4 motored plane KGE circled & Patroled [sic], 930 A.M. planed dropped package containing chocolate, Tob & pipe marked Sargent Folliard [the original diary, as it would turn out, had the name correct!] of Bathurst & message saying Corvet [sic] be out at 6 am and that a man was adrift 1 ½ miles to windward. Message further stated That he was short of Petrol.

Seeing the message in its original context, one wonders if the package or the actual pipe was marked with the good sergeant’s name. Did the lack of cigarettes cause him to sacrifice his personal property to the survivors to provide them some comfort? Bamforth himself did not smoke (nor drink alcohol, contrary to the merchant seaman stereotype), so it was likely passed around amongst those in the lifeboat that did. I also wonder what became of the pipe, and whether one of the crew hung on to it as a keepsake.

In any event, the '4 motored plane' was a Short Sunderland Mk. I flying-boat KG-E T9070 of RAF No. 204 Squadron operating out of a base at Bathurst, The Gambia. The aircraft, referred to as E/204 by the squadron, reported the encounter as follows:

23/7/42: E/204 was airborne at 0252 hours and at 0710 hours located three lifeboats and three rafts holding about 25 survivors in position JKDF 3816 and also one man clinging to wreckage about 1 ½ miles away. A “Mae West” [slang for life-jacket] and Dinghy were dropped to him and a lifeboat directed to him, cigarettes etc. were dropped to the lifeboat. At 1118 hours a Dutch merchant vessel was sighted in position JKDF 5958 – 340 [course] – 9 knots. The aircraft returned at 1447 hours.

According to British records on RAF No. 204 Squadron, along with Sergeant Folliard, the entire crew of E/204 for this flight consisted of:

S/Ldr. Wood

F/Lt. Dagg

P/O. Bradley

Sgt. Hester

Sgt. Herbert

Sgt. Carey*

Sgt. Dujay

Sgt. Jellie

Sgt. Crawford

Sgt. Folliard

L.A.C. Farmer

*Sgt. Carey was Harold Carey (WOP-AG), according to his son Richard, who contacted me after discovering the website. Unfortunately, he had no further details to share from his father or the air crew’s perspective.

The report seemed to suggest that survivors were still on rafts the morning after, although Bamforth’s account suggests they had distributed the men evenly into the life boats by this point. Bamforth’s account would be more logical as the lifeboats would have been much safer to ride out the bad weather than the exposed rafts. Other possibilities are that since they tried to stay in the vicinity of the sinking, the rafts were simply still around them, though unoccupied, or perhaps in the morning some men were transferred to the rafts to scavenge the supplies they had on board. I found it somewhat surprising that the estimated number of survivors was so far off; 25 versus the 38 actual (not including McMaster).

The Dutch steamer that appeared to be in close proximity is somewhat of a mystery, and I have not been able to identify her. Exactly how close they were is difficult to tell. Despite the Sunderland finding her 3 hours and 8 minutes after the survivors, it’s impossible to know how far away they were without knowing the Sunderland’s course(s) and speed(s) between those two milestones. The crew noted both locations in their report, but they used localized codes rather than straight longitude/latitude coordinates, unfortunately something they had just started doing in June. The fact that the alpha characters matched (i.e.; JKDF) is promising, however unlike their German adversaries who consistently used a global quadrant system and relied on their enigma code machines for security (foolishly, as it would turn out), these remote bases used more localized maps which they updated regularly, and without the map itself and the current key, it’s impossible to go back and translate the coordinates into longitude, latitude. I ran into the same difficulty on the Montanan’s story which involved two different RAF squadrons apparently using two different maps/systems. It may not be the last we’ll hear of this vessel though as you read on.

The fact that the Sunderland had found the survivors after nearly 4 hours and 18 minutes of flying and would not land for another 7 hours and 37 minutes, for a total of 11 hours and 55 minutes airborne is quite amazing. How grueling it must have been for these brave young crews. From the account it appears they did not have much loiter time over the survivors, although based on their flying time after contact, fuel was obviously not their only consideration. Perhaps they decided a better use for their fuel was to sweep the vicinity in the hopes of catching a Jerry U-boat napping on the surface, and eliminate the threat altogether.

There really was not much more the Sunderland crew could do for them. Just being there though seemed to be invaluable to the survivors moral. Simply knowing that someone outside their little group knew where they were and were sending help meant so much. I initially wondered why the Sunderland did not just land, but besides the rough sea conditions, an article on uboat.net by Emmanuel Gustin points out that:

Like other flying boats, it could land and take-off only from sheltered coastal waters. From 1942 onwards, landings in open sea were expressly forbidden, except in special circumstances and with permission.

Sunderland’s and their crews were a precious resource. There simply were not enough of them to go around, and definitely not worth risking a landing in bad weather with other resources available.

The corvette they were referring to is believed to be the flower-class corvette HMS Woodruff (K 53) commanded by Lieutenant Francis Harden Gray RD, RNR. According to the British Admiralty War Diary for this period, on the 23rd of July Woodruff was in position 008° 40’ N, 019° 20’ W (a little over 170 nautical miles away from the sinking location) when she was tasked with searching for the survivors.

As the Sunderland flew off into the distance, the lifeboats immediately started rowing in the direction they hoped to find McMaster, but the weather didn't cooperate. It was 3:00pm before the first boat (ES: Chief Mate Coas’), found McMaster floating and hauled him into their boat. Bamforth goes on to describe the situation:

McMasters [sic] had been in the water for nearly twenty-two hours. He had managed to put on the life jacket dropped to him by the plane, but otherwise he was wearing nothing but shorts pants and a singlet. He had been walking on the after deck just as the torpedo hit and was blown overboard into the sea. Treading water, he had watched the ship travel away from him and had seen the dust fly from the ports when the second torpedo hit. Nearly spent, he had found a floating hatch plank to hold on to. The water was warmer than the air so he kept himself shoulder deep. He had been surrounded by sharks and had several times struck out at them. Once he had pulled a small fish from his leg. We found that the flesh had been stripped from his heels and toes and a hunk of meat had been gouged out of his thigh. His courage, stamina, and will to stay alive and afloat all night without the aid of any lifesaving equipment was hard to believe possible. He had lost a lot of blood, but the wounds had been cauterized by the seawater, and he bled little after rescue. The men made a bed for him using the kapok from two of the boat’s metal air tanks.

That evening they heard another plane, but still no corvette arrived. They still took some comfort in knowing their distress call had been received.

Short Sunderland Mark I, L2158 'KG-M', of No. 204 Squadron RAF landing at Bathurst, Gambia. L2158 was the first production Sunderland to enter service with the RAF, and is seen here equipped with ASV anti-submarine radar.

This second plane was KG-M L2158 (aka M/204). Their report read as follows:

M/204 was airborne at 1617 hours sighted an unidentified vessel (GZSR) in position JGDF 2430 – 340 – 10 knots, the position of the lifeboats was signaled to the vessel which altered course to attempt rescue. At 2103 the vessel gave a visual signal to the effect “Too dangerous to remain in area. Am leaving”. At 2134 the aircraft located the lifeboats in position JKDF 3218. At 2221 again sighted the vessel and signaled the position of lifeboats, but the vessel would not reply to signal. The aircraft returned to base at 0420 hours.

According to British records, M/204’s crew consisted of:

P/O. Inglis

P/O. Horner

F/O. Gow

P/O. Morris

F/Sgt. Jackman

Sgt. O’Meara

Sgt. Davis

Sgt. McConnell

Sgt. Connell

Sgt. Gould

Sgt. Stevens

Another lost opportunity for rescue. According to historian Peter Cundall: "GZSR is the callsign of the fast transport Orcades that was sunk later in October of 1942. Built in 1937, she was a 23,456 gross ton passenger liner operated by Orient Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., London. As a high speed and valuable transport the ship was behaving correctly by refusing the rescue mission." The ship’s Master was responsible for the safety of his own crew of course and had no way of knowing that the U-582 had already moved to the southwest to rendezvous with their supply boat, U-116.

Note also that this was another roughly 12 hour flight, and mainly in the dark.

According to Bamforth; Friday July 24th they continued to wait and saw nothing. The rough seas and pelting rain continued throughout the day, adding to their overall misery.

That morning another four-engine patrol plane showed up and circled them for nearly three hours. It dropped some food and another note, which read:


The distress signals must have been lost in the drop, but they did get the cans of stew. Bamforth conferred with the 2nd Mate, Oscar Nelson, who calculated that they had drifted approximately seventeen miles northeast of where they were the day before.

Bamforth’s original note read as follows:

Daybreak 4 motored plane K.G.H. out at daybreak, circled this area. 10am dropped package containing 5 cans food & message saying Corvet [sic] 50 miles away. Should arrive in approx 3-4 hours. We are leaving, short of Petrol. Herewith Distress signals (lost) & some chop. Best of luck from crew H/204.

This third aircraft was RAF No. 204 Squadron Short Sunderland KG-H N9024 (aka H/204). Harold Small recalls the seas were too high for the Sunderland's to attempt a landing.

Short Sunderland Mark I, N9024 KG-H of No. 204 Squadron RAF. Built at Rochester in April 1939 and struck off charge August 16th, 44. This photo of N9024 is courtesy of the family of Sergeant N.A. Bladon.

H/204’s report read as follows:

24/7/42: Sunderland H/204 was airborne at 0348 hours and at 0424 hours sighted one merchant vessel in position FSMF 5247. At 0729 the aircraft was over the lifeboats, food etc was dropped to the survivors. At 1115 hours the aircraft left the lifeboats in position WBDF 1050, the corvette which was to pick them up was then 50 miles away. The aircraft landed at base at 1440 hours.

According to British records, H/204’s crew consisted of:

F/Sgt. R.E.J. Gough

F/Sgt. Boon

P/O. Lean

P/O. Dlin

F/Sgt. Lob

F/Sgt. Cawthorne

Sgt. Smith

Sgt. Bladon

Sgt. Mosley

Sgt. Glover

Sgt. Kennedy

Gun camera photo of 2 of the 3 Honolulan lifeboats taken by H/204 at about 1020 hours the morning of July 24th in position 09° 10' N, 21° 10' W. The 3rd lifeboat is just out of frame on the right, connected to the lifeboat at center-right with a painter (rope). The caption also noted 'all appeared to be in good heart. They were afterwards picked up by an outbound vessel.' which confirms the squadron learned they were saved. Courtesy of the family of Sergeant N.A. Bladon

Again, they were so close to rescue, with the corvette closing to within 50 miles.

Friday night Bamforth noted:

6pm. Heard & saw plane in distance. It was dark we shot flares but no response. Plane morsed “Corvet is coming”.

British records show that this must have been Sunderland KG-E T9070 again, however, the aircraft reported the encounter as follows:

“24/7/42: E/204 was airborne at 1223 hours and searched for the lifeboats, but failed to locate them, and returned to Base at 2359 hours.”

The crew for this flight was same as the original, sans Squadron Leader Wood:

F/Lt. Dagg

P/O. Bradley

Sgt. Hester

Sgt. Dujay

Sgt. Herbert

Sgt. Carey

Sgt. Crawford

Sgt. Jellie

Sgt. Folliard

L.A.C. Farmer

No. 204 Squadron appears to have tried their best to keep in contact with the Honolulan survivors and for several days they always had one flight on the way out when one was on its way back.

The survivors waited into the afternoon Saturday the 25th, and still no corvette was in sight. Finally, the men had had enough and started to protest. Bamforth announced loud enough for all to hear that the other two boats were free to go, but the officers in charge of those lifeboats took control and they stayed together

On Sunday, July 26th, three days after the sinking and still with no rescue in site, Bamforth finally decided enough is enough, and the three boats set sail in a “V” formation. They sailed through the rain all night, collecting what they could for drinking water.

Harold Small remembers it a bit differently:

"Admiralty Law dictates that each lifeboat is individually under command of the senior officer occupying the boat. CNB [Charles N. Bamforth] attempted to control all 3 boats, however, the Bos'n [Bill Bussey] and crew in Oscar Nelson's boat were anxious to utilize fair winds/currents pushing them into West Africa and not await a chance rescue. CNB finally acceded to the crew's demands."

Small also offered a few more details about their time in the lifeboats and about the food;

"The food in the lifeboats was inappropriate with sweet Horlicks milk tablets and the water in the wooden water breakers was swimming with little wigglers. This was thrown away and we used rain water trapped in the sails. The aircraft food was tinned fruit in thick syrup, Very sensible. We later advised the USCG to throw away the milk tablets and Pemmican which had a nauseating effect. Our other recommendations ref. lifeboat fittings were, amazingly, followed. The Sunderland flew away and was not seen again.

After CNB’s ‘Mutiny’ we set sail and had a jolly Nantucket sleigh ride, running wing and wing before the sea. We followed the kerosene light of the boat ahead. In the morning the boats would raft up and have a nice repast of our food.

One morning I was awaken by CNB hurriedly climbing aboard the boat with a tiger shark just behind him. Nice bath. Another night we heard cries and voices from another boat. Seems Bussey was steering when a shark rolled over near the rudder and grabbed for his T-shirt hanging over the side. The crew drove it off with hatchets and a boat hook. Jolly. Unfortunately, the boats were not equipped with fishing gear which would have helped if we had run out of provisions.

Generally felt that the crew handled their situation with but little of the customary seaman’s grousing. We were extremely fortunate to be in flying fish latitudes with warm balmy weather. At the same time my twin brother was on the S.S. Ironclad cruising around the Arctic Circle . Was lucky."

Small's twin brother was Gordon P. Small, an Assistant Engineer during the war. The Waterman Steamship Co.'s SS Ironclad was part of the infamous convoy PQ-17. Small and the crew survived the disaster and tried to put into the port of Moltovsk, near Archangel, Russia but grounded in the harbor. They ended up being repatriated on the Queen Elizabeth.

It is clear throughout the book that Bamforth had amazing ingenuity and loved to tinker with and build things with his own hands. The ultimate example had been a 12-foot sloop he named the Sea Jack he hand-built during his off-time while commanding the Pennsylvanian. To help improve morale, Bamforth devised a way to make hot chocolate and distributed it amongst the boats. It helped greatly.

Bamforth wrote:

Just before daybreak I woke the chief steward, Mr. Rocomonte, and asked him if he would make hot chocolate if I made a fire. Soon all thirteen men in my boat were intensely busy under the direction of Mr. Dancy, the third mate. One of the men chopped a hard ash oar into short lengths. Each piece was then cut into slivers by those who had knives. We transformed a metal breaker into a stove by chopping a hole in the bottom for a flue and another hole in the side through which an empty rocket can was inserted as a kettle. We set the whole thing up on the stern so that the wind would make a draft through it. Using waxed paper from chocolate bars, we started a fire, then added the slivers of wood. This made a lot of visible smoke. Cheers went up from the men in the other boats as they realized something was cooking. We soon dissolved shavings from the chocolate bars in water in the makeshift kettle. We had difficulty dissolving our milk tablets, but we finally solved the problem by shaking a few tablets at a time in a jar with water. We ended up with a thick, creamy syrup, which we boiled and diluted with more water. Using boathooks and buckets, we passed a share of the hot chocolate to the other boats. It was not safe to allow the boats to come too close to one another in the running sea. Then we made a second bucketful of this sweet, hot liquid for ourselves. The first hot drink in three days put new life into all of us. Frowns turned into smiles.

That day as well, No. 204 Squadron sent out two search flights; M/204 (P/O. Inglis) from 0355 to 1534 and L/204 (F/Lt. Douglas) from 1435 to 0101 on the 26th. While the first flight found the Corvette (in position WBQN 3304) and both flights spotted other escorted merchants, no sign of the survivors were found.

The squadron now also had the pressure of several convoys moving through their area, WS 19 PQ and OS 34 on the 26th, and SL117 on the 27th, plus several independents.

Complicating matters further, another vessel was torpedoed in their area the afternoon of the 25th, the Norwegian Motor Tanker Tankexpress by U-130 (Kals) in position 10° 05'N, 26° 31'W (approximately 269.5 nautical miles WNW from the Honolulan sinking position). See here and here for more info. RAF No. 204’s L/204 (F/Lt. Douglas) was in the air when Tankexpress was hit, their report reading:

"25/7/42 – L/204 was airborne at 1435 hours, at 1555 hours sighted one merchant vessel with 3 escort vessels in position TWUD 5342 – 035 – 8 knots. At 1650 hours a message was received from Base: “Ship torpedoed position GQDF 2052 at 1505. Square search for survivors and direct “Woodruff”. At 2153 hours met the “Woodruff” in position GQDF 2052. The aircraft returned to Base at 0101/26.

The limited resources of No. 204 Squadron’s Sunderlands including M/204 (P/O. Inglis) and the anti-submarine vessels in the area including HMS Woodruff were diverted to that rescue the morning of Sunday, July 26th. You can read more about RAF No. 204 Squadron on their dedicated page here.

The Honolulan’s survivors were now truly on their own. Fortunately, Tankexpress’ entire crew of 39 successfully abandoned ship and all were rescued by HMS Lightning (G 55) (Cdr R.G. Stewart, RN) on August 1st.

At daybreak on Sunday, July 26th, the one bit of good news was that the weather finally cleared and the Honolulan’s survivors saw the first sun since the sinking.

They continued to sail all day Monday, July 27th, McMaster becoming a growing concern. At noon Monday Nelson was able to take sightings and determined that since abandoning ship they had traveled 242 miles to the east-northeast. They figured they were still some 250 miles from Bathurst, Gambia.

At dusk Bamforth noted:

During our routine securing the boat for the night, the second cook [ES: Filipino Solficio Diana] suddenly startled us by shouting. “Ship! Ship! Ship ahoy!” Amazed, we looked aft and stared. It was no mirage. There she was, over the horizon, hull part down, a beautiful ship heading at right angles to our course. Apparently her lookouts had not yet seen us. Immediately we fired our remaining rockets. Such excitement, so sudden. The ship turned toward us. This was the moment we had been waiting for, and it came when we least expected it. Most of us had given up on rescue, and we were resigned to saving ourselves.

Their salvation was the large British transport M.V. Winchester Castle, of the Union-Castle Line, commanded by 61-year-old Royal Navy Reserve Captain Sebastian Francis Newdigate (aka: S.F. Newdigate).

HMS Winchester Castle at anchor on the Clyde. Note landing craft and armament of her war-time configuration. Pre and post-war she sailed with the Union Castle Line. Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Ref: FL8884. https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120723

Winchester Castle was built in 1930 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 20,109GRT. She had a service speed of 20 knots. On March 23rd, 1942 she became the Head Quarters ship in Operation Ironclad, the invasion of Vichy French held Madagascar. She took part in a successful assault at Diego Suarez on May 4th and 5th with No. 5 Commando using her life boats to approach the coast through a minefield. They had to leave her boats behind, so all they had on board were rafts for 277 crew (Bamforth noted 470) plus their 39 new guests. Winchester Castle was on her way to the United States when she came across the Honolulan’s survivors.

One interesting anecdote I came across while researching the Sunderland squadron, was a report from an RAF Hudson of No. 200 Squadron that attacked and damaged a U-Boat in the path of the Winchester Castle on July 25th off Freetown, Sierra Leone. The U-Boat, U-752, was another member of the dispersed wolf pack and was only slightly damaged. There was no indication in U-752’s war diary that they even saw the transport, let alone were getting into a firing position.

Newdigate maneuvered his vessel to protect the survivors from the wind as best he could and Jacob’s ladders were dropped to the waters edge. A wire stretcher basket was lowered for McMaster, who was hoisted quickly and smoothly aboard. The Winchester Castle’s crew contemplated trying to hoist the lifeboats up as well, but since the hooks weren’t compatible, and they were in danger the longer they sat stationary, they left them behind.

Bamforth noted the location of their rescue as 10° 52' N, 19° 40' W, which was about 230 miles from where the Honolulan had been sunk, and roughly 270 miles from Bathurst.

Honolulan’s survivors were comprised of:

Their average age was 37.

Bamforth praised the professionalism and hospitality of Newdigate and his crew, especially Dr. C. Crawford, surgeon; Captain L.H. Harris, British Army quartermaster; and Mr. John Hughes Kirton, purser.

The fact that this was a transport with a medical team on board, and not just another freighter, likely made the difference in McMaster’s survival. He had lost a lot of blood that first night and the poor nutrition and exposure since then did not help matters. Dr. Crawford was credited with saving his life. There was also hospital attendant W. Sanford.

The medical team also took care of the more minor injuries sustained by the rest of the crew, such as fractured ear drums of those below decks when the torpedo hit, broken toes from climbing the Jacob’s ladders barefoot, and sunburns and other exposure issues.

The men were able to get cleaned up, were provided new British issue clothing (courtesy of Quarter Master L.H. Harris), and their first hot meal in a week.

The remainder of the voyage was uneventful, despite the heavy U-Boat activity at this time on the American east coast. Bamforth caught up on paperwork and payroll during the day, and visited McMaster in the evenings.

Friday, August 7th 1942 at around 9:00am they finally arrived in New York. They had to pass quarantine, and then McMaster was sent to the U.S. Marine Hospital on Staten Island, where he eventually made full recovery. He attended the U.S. Maritime Service Officer's School in Alameda in 1943 and became a Marine Engineer. Clarence Douglas McMaster passed away in Coos Bay, OR in 1981 at the age of 76.

The rest of the crew were debriefed by Naval Intelligence on board, then finally landed at 5:00pm and marched to American-Hawaiian’s offices, looking like quite the motley crew with their variety of British Army issue clothing.

In September of 1942 Bamforth was told to report to the US Maritime Service Training Ship American Seaman to take command, but due to a misunderstanding, the assignment fell through. You can read more about Bamforth’s life and career prior to and after the Honolulan’s sinking in his biography section below.

Chief Mate Gardner Andrews Coas, from Gloucester Massachusetts was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal on May 22nd, 1945 for his actions aboard the Honolulan. The certificate read:

When his ship, the SS Honolulan, was torpedoed and her crew had abandoned ship, he remained on board with the Master and Radio Operator to obtain extra food and equipment for a lifeboat which was standing by close aboard. Just as this task was completed, a second torpedo struck and the ship began to settle rapidly. In company with the Master and Radio Operator, he jumped over the side and swam to the nearby lifeboat. During the six days the lifeboat was adrift he displayed great fortitude in caring for the physical and mental comforts of the members of the crew, and rendered invaluable assistance to the Master in keeping the three lifeboats together until picked up by an English steamer.

Coas activated his Navy Reserve commission and became a Lt. Commander. Ironically, at the beginning of 1944 he became commander of the US Maritime Service Training Ship American Seaman, the ship Bamforth almost commanded in 1942. He served in the Navy for the remainder of the war and appears to have worked for Grace Lines after the war. He passed away in Florida in April of 1975.

Radio Operator Charles E. Sullivan was also awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. He had previously served on Honolulan’s sister, the Greylock in 1941, and served on the William Few in 1943 and survived the war.

You can read more about O.S. Harold Small in the dedicated section I added in 2021 below.

Gardner A. Coas likely later in the war as commander of the school ship American Seaman. Courtesy of usmm.org.

Captain S.F. Newdigate (L) on board the Winchester Castle reviewing landing plans for Operation Avalanche with American commanders. In the center is Lt. Colonel William Yarborough, commander of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion. On the right is Lt. Colonel Roy Murray, commander of the 4th Ranger Battalion. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Winchester Castle was back in Scotland by September and under Captain Newdigate’s command she would take part in several key amphibious assaults later in the war, including; Operation Torch, Operation Avalanche, and Operation Dragoon. She returned to her regular civilian service after the war, until she was sold for scrapping in 1960, being replaced by Windsor Castle.

I have not yet been able to find out what became of Dr. Crawford or Captain Harris, however purser John Kirton appears to have died in October of 1944 at the age of 41, which was soon after Operation Dragoon.

Captain S. F. Newdigate

Royal Navy Reserve Captain Sebastian Francis Newdigate was born on October 13th, 1880 at Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England. He was the youngest of ten children born to the Vicar of Kirk Hallam, Alfred Newdigate (1830-1923) and Selina Boynton (1842-1920). The Newdigate family goes back centuries in the area and were baronets, many serving as MP’s.

Newdigate started his career at sea back in 1898 at the age of 17 in Liverpool aboard the 4-masted iron Barque Matterhorn (ON 86196) on a voyage to San Francisco. This was followed by the 3-masted Chepica (ON 91251). In 1903 he joined the Yeoward Brothers Line and their combination steam and sail passenger liner Avocet (ON 84470).

1904 & 1905 were spent training in the Royal Navy. In 1906 he re-joined Avocet before briefly transferring to the line’s Ardeola (ON 118108). In the spring of 1907 he switched to the Union Steamship Co.’s Saxon (ON 112713), a “modern” passenger/mail steamer known for her beautiful lines. His first “Castle” ship of the merged Union Castle Line was the Danluce Castle, later that same year.

Until the advent of the Great War he served on Walmer Castle, Tintagle Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Durham Castle, and Balmoral Castle.

During the Great War, after training at “HMS Pembroke” (Chatham Barracks) he served as a Lieutenant with the Royal Navy Reserve on the armed merchant cruiser HMS Victorian from June of 1914 until November of 1916, then moved to the armed merchant cruiser HMS Avoca (ex RMS Avon) until he was demobilized March 10, 1919.

He re-joined Union Castle Line after the war on April 4th, 1919 as a Chief Officer at the age of 38, initially serving as First Officer aboard Kildonan Castle. The next 17 years were spent on many Castle Line vessels as a First Officer. His records are especially difficult to read during this period, but he appears to have served on Carisbrooke Castle, Balmoral Castle, Braemar Castle, Glengorm Castle, Kenilworth Castle, Carnarvon Castle, Armadale Castle, and Warwick Castle.

On September 19th, 1936 he finally became the Master of the Dunluce Castle, the first Castle vessel he had originally served on. The following year he married Patricia Anne Hope (1908-unknown) in Marylebone on March 17th, 1937 at the age of 56.

He went on to command Rochester Castle, Llandaff Castle, Dunvegan Castle, Pretoria Castle, and Roxburgh Castle. He took command of Winchester Castle on July 1st. 1941 and remained her commander throughout the remainder of the war. Llandaff, Dunvegan and Roxburgh were all lost during the war.

As the vessels he served on with Union Castle mainly operated on the Liverpool to Cape Town run, he would have been very familiar with the West Coast of Africa. In fact his wife was South African.

He retired from the Union Castle Line on September 30th, 1944 at the age of 64. Newdigate survived the war, but passed away in 1954 at the age of 73. He was survived by his wife Patricia, and daughters Anne and Lilah.

Captain Newdigate was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross "For bravery and enterprise while serving in H.M. Transports in the successful operations which led to the surrender of the important base of Diego Suarez." He was also awarded the Reserve Decoration.

Charles N. Bamforth

Master Mariner Charles N. Bamforth circa 1937

Bamforth’s amazing life is eloquently detailed in the book; Iron Jaw: A Skipper Tells His Story – Captain Charles N. Bamforth (1895-1975) – ISBN 0-8059-5417-1. The book was compiled and edited by his two sons, Charles A. Bamforth and Richard A. Bamforth, from incredibly detailed handwritten diaries, logs and personal letters the captain kept.

This copyrighted material is used with permission of the Bamforth family. It was first published in 2002 by Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but is currently out of print. Copies can still be obtained by contacting Richard A. Bamforth's wife at P. O. Box 5068, Augusta ME 04332 or prbamforth@gmail.com.

I actually obtained my copy a few years ago when I first met former American-Hawaiian officer Rodman Dickie at one of George Duffy’s Mass Maritime Academy Alumni luncheons. Rodman asked me if I had heard of the book, which I hadn’t, and suggested I pick up a copy since I was interested in American-Hawaiian.

I found a paperback copy in great shape at an on-line used book dealer I had used before. I couldn’t put it down when it finally arrived in the mail. Bamforth must have either commanded or piloted virtually every vessel in their fleet at some point over the years. The copy I had included the e-mail address for Richard Bamforth, whom I contacted soon thereafter.

We stayed in touch over the years, and regular visitors to the site will recognize the passages from the book that Richard and his brother Allan allowed me to include here and there that relates to Arkansan’s story.

The book is a must read for anyone interested in the Merchant Marine for the first half of the twentieth Century, including both World Wars. At 426 pages it would be impossible for me to cover everything here and do it justice, especially listing all his voyages, but instead I will hit the highlights, and recommend you get the book for yourself.

Charles Nathaniel Bamforth was born in 1895 and grew up in South Lincoln, Massachusetts. He left school while in the ninth grade at the age of 15 to go to work to support the family. At the age of 18 he decided he needed to find a way to make his own way in this world. He applied for and was accepted to the newly renamed Massachusetts Nautical School in the fall of 1913.

At this time the training ship was still called the Ranger, and under the command of 57-year-old retired U.S.N. Commander Charles Nelson Atwater, who had joined the school in April of 1911.

According to the school’s annual report, Atwater “served on many naval training ships, and was superintendent of the Pennsylvania Nautical School, in command of the U. S. S. Saratoga and U. S. S. Adams for several years.

According to his obituary, he had entered naval service in 1873, and had been Executive Officer of the training ship Monongahela for four years. His last active duty was in the Intelligence Department of the Bureau of Navigation, which he retired from in 1905.

This was a time of great change and expansion for the U.S. Merchant Marine. During Bamforth’s first year in school, three significant events occurred:

  1. July 28th, 1914 the First World War broke out in Europe, although America remained neutral at first, which caused a huge spike in demand for American ships and crews.

  2. August 15th, the Panama Canal opened, greatly increasing the number of voyages that could be made between the east and west coasts.

  3. August 18th, an amendment to the Panama Canal act became effective, allowing foreign built ships, owned by American citizens, to be admitted to American registry for deep-sea trade. This caused an increased demand for American officers.

Charles N. Atwater

His first summer cruise, which began in May of 1914, was cut short when the Ranger’s crankshaft broke about 550 miles northeast of Bermuda. Perhaps a good thing considering what was about to happen in the Atlantic. They made it back to Boston under their own power, mostly sail, about two weeks later. The Ranger was out of commission the rest of the summer while a new crankshaft was made and installed. Their remaining training was done in port, followed by the usual winter term.

Due to the war in Europe and the threat this posed to vessels in the Atlantic, the summer cruise of 1915 was changed for the first time. Rather than cruising east across the Atlantic to northern Europe or the Mediterranean, they were to cruise south through the West Indies to the Panama Canal and back up the east coast of the United States (See Map below). This modified route was maintained until 1921, when Arkansan’s Master Paul R. Jones would benefit from the resumption of the European cruise.

Route of the 1915 Summer Training Cruise from the Massachusetts Nautical School's Annual Report.

Commander Atwater resigned at the end of April just prior to Bamforth’s 1915 cruise. He was replaced by Capt. P. W. Hourigan, U. S. N., retired. According to the school’s report, Hourigan was:

the author of a manual for the handling of vessels under sail, which was adopted as a textbook by the United States Naval Academy, where he served a tour of duty as instructor in seamanship; for three years he was commanding officer at the Naval Training Station at Newport, R. I., and a large part of his twenty-two years at sea was spent on board the sailing ships "Trenton," "Enterprise," "Jamestown," "Lancaster," "Alliance" and "Kearsarge."

Bamforth graduated in the fall of 1915 at the age of 19. At the time, men had to be at least 21 to sit for officer’s exams, and since most graduates were between 18 and 20 they served as Quartermasters when they first graduated.

Commander Atwater would later return when Hourigan became ill. He commanded Ranger, now re-named Nantucket, from August 14th, 1918, to April 22nd, 1919, when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack on deck. Nantucket was in port in Boston preparing for the 1919 summer cruise. Hourigan would pass away in 1920, and be replaced by Armistead Rust, who would train Jones and Bernard.

In an almost ‘Forest Gump’ way, Bamforth always seemed to find himself in the middle of some historic event. His first assignment was as a Quartermaster on the small laker, George Hawley, carrying supplies to Galveston Texas shortly after a Category 4 Hurricane devastated the city. On their way back they stopped in New York and Bamforth admired the well-maintained American-Hawaiian vessels Virginian, Alaskan and Mexican.

The stemwinder George Hawley. Courtesy of the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University.

Soon thereafter he visited a couple of classmates who were serving as Quartermasters on the Montanan. That’s all it took. He applied for and soon received a position as Quartermaster on the Montanan. After several voyages to South America Bamforth earned his Second Mate’s license, but the timing was bad as American-Hawaiian had no openings for officers. Needing to find work, he briefly joined another company at the end of 1916. By the spring of 1917 American-Hawaiian had some openings and Bamforth joined the SS Californian as Third Mate and remained an American-Hawaiian man for most of his career. The day Bamforth first sailed on the Californian was April 6th, 1917, the same day America declared war on Germany and joined the fray on the side of the Allies.

The Master of the Californian was a man named Curtis, perhaps Frank E. Curtis who would later be Master of Iowan in 1920. He had previously been the Master of Columbian, which was stopped and scuttled under the Prize Rules by U-49 (Richard Hartmann) on November 8th, 1916.

From April 1917 to January 1918 Bamforth made three trips on the Californian between Baltimore and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On their return from his third voyage, the Army took over the ship and had them load war materials for France. Captain Curtis was reassigned to a USSB position in England, and Master Malman took over command of the Californian. They sailed for France in convoy at the end of February 1918, returning to the US in May.

Bamforth left the Californian at the end of this voyage and was assigned to the new West Eagle, commanded by 46-year-old Master Maynard A. Young of Hancock, Maine, and set sail for France on May 25th. His former ship, Californian, would hit a mine and sink in the Bay of Biscay on her next voyage on June 22nd, 1918, though all crew appear to have survived.

USS Californian sinking in the Bay of Biscay on 22 June 1918, after hitting a mine. A boat is alongside, below Californian's bridge, probably taking off her crew. Collection of Paul F. Wangerin, 1975. U.S. Navy photo NH 99785. Courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command. http://www.navsource.org/archives/12/179993.htm

The West Eagle smoked badly and broke down several times on the way, but they finally reached France by mid-June. Several other failures occurred but they made it back home in early August. West Eagle was laid up for a month as the Navy added wooden bulkheads in an experiment to see if they could make her unsinkable. West Eagle had only been completed in March of 1918 by Ames Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. in Seattle, WA. Apparently not one of their best efforts. She was originally intended to be named War Cupid for the British, but was requisitioned by the USSB. She was eventually broken up in Philadelphia in 1924, a remarkably short career of only 6 years.

In September of 1918 Bamforth became Chief Mate of the West Hampton, also under Master Young, and they sailed for France on his 3rd trip of the war to Europe. The voyage over was fairly uneventful except for briefly losing their steering gear and falling behind for a time. The real challenge was making it home. They had collided with a stone pier in France, and although temporary repairs were made, heavy weather encountered on the voyage home caused the repair to fail and her pumps couldn’t keep up with it. To make matters worse, the flooding caused their cargo of pyrite to shift, making the vessel very unstable. Bamforth was instrumental in saving the ship. They eventually limped into Halifax, Nova Scotia. While they were struggling to keep afloat and make port the war ended.

S.S. West Hampton, from the deck of the USS Santa Olivia looking aft over the ship's starboard side, while she was leaving Bassens, Bordeaux, France in 1919. Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Photo #: NH 104651

Bamforth made another trip to Europe on West Hampton under Master Young, this time to start ferrying material back. Young transferred to the Alaskan, and Bamforth made one more trip on West Hampton without him. Bamforth re-joined Young on the Alaskan in October of 1919. On their voyage home in January 1920 Master Maynard Young died unexpectedly, and Chief Mate Bamforth had to assume command and get the ship home. Young was buried at sea.

USS Alaskan (first Alaskan, not the vessel lost in WWII) arriving in a U.S. port (probably New York) in 1919, with her decks crowded with troops returning from Europe. Note portholes added to hull and extra life boats. Photographed by J.W. Allison, New York City. Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007. Naval Historical Center photo NH 104597

After Alaskan he served as Chief Mate on the passenger steamer Mount Clay, operated by United American Lines, a subsidiary of American-Hawaiian. Mount Clay had a very interesting history.

SS Mount Clay courtesy of the Bamforth family.

She was originally launched in Stettin, Germany in 1904 as Prinz Eitel Friedrich, and served the next 10 years in Far East service with the German steamship company Norddeutsche Lloyd. She was in Tsingtao, China when the First World War broke out and quickly converted into an armed auxiliary cruiser. Her civilian Master was replaced by Korvettenkapitän Max V. Thierichens, formerly of the gunboat Luchs. She spent the next seven months working her way eastward across the Pacific, around Cape Horn and north into the Atlantic, sinking eleven vessels for a total of 33,000 gross tons in the process. Her victims included the first American flagged vessel lost during the war, the schooner William P. Frye, thought to be carrying wheat to Britain. In March, low on fuel, engines in need of overhaul, and crowded with passengers from her victims she sailed into neutral Newport News and was interned. When America entered the war in 1917 she was seized, converted to a troop transport and renamed DeKalb. She carried the first U.S. troops to Europe, and over the course of eleven trans-Atlantic voyages, transported over eleven-thousand men to the war zone. See here, here and here for more information.

Bamforth served as Chief Mate on Mount Clay for nearly two years, from November 1920 through June 1922, running between New York and Hamburg.

Bamforth also married Dorothy Allan during this time.

At the end of June, 1922 he finally became a Master, of the Nevadan at the age of 27. After Nevadan he would also command Ohioan, Dakotan, and then Arizonan. These voyages were all inter-coastal runs.

SS Nevadan january 24th, 1934. Francis Palmer photographer. From the private collection of artist Dave Boone, Copyright (c), All Rights Reserved. www.tugboatpainter.net

In September of 1926, he was assigned to the Pennsylvanian which he commanded for 12 years, with the exception of a few temporary assignments on Ohioan, Golden Tide, and Missourian. This period included the Great Depression of 1929, and later, several remarkable months during the winter of 1936-37 when he was strikebound in Seattle and took care of the vessel by himself. His ingenuity and resourcefulness was at its peak, and well documented in the book, including a letter to President Roosevelt. The Pennsylvanian would eventually be scuttled off the coast of Normandy to reinforce the artificial breakwater after the invasion. Rodman Dickie made seven voyages on her from May 1943 to June 1944, and was Chief Mate when she was scuttled.

SS Pennsylvanian at Canadian Government elevator dock circa 1920's. Photograph by Walter E. Frost. Reference Code: AM1506-S3-2-: CVA 447-2555. Courtesy of City of Vancouver Archives. https://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/archives/

Bamforth became a Coastal Pilot for American-Hawaiian in October 1938. Vessels he piloted during this time were the Virginian, Arkansan’s sister Alabaman, Montanan, Ohioan, Mexican, and Californian (II). During this period Germany invaded Poland, igniting the Second World War. In October of 1939 he had a trip to west coast as a relief Master of the Texan. At the beginning of 1940 he resumed his piloting with Oregonian, Missourian, Virginian, then two of Arkansan’s sister’s, Floridian, followed by Carolinian. There were likely many, many more. Rodman Dickie recalls that Bamforth piloted Arkansan for a portion of one of their voyages, though there is no mention in Bamforth’s book.

On July 1st, 1941 he was asked to take over as Master of the Illinoian for a voyage to India with war materials for the British. They were in India when Arkansan was bombed in Suez. They were on their way from New Orleans to Baltimore when they received the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and our entry into the war.

In January 1942 Bamforth briefly became American-Hawaiian’s Port Captain in New York, but in February had to relieve Honolulan’s Master Sutton for their fateful voyage detailed above.

After repatriation there was a Coast Guard hearing over Honolulan’s loss, and Bamforth was cleared of any wrongdoing. After a few weeks of rest & relaxation, with a shortage of vessels (we had really taken a beating during the summer of ’42, and the flow of new Liberty ships had not yet caught up), Bamforth activated his Navy Reserve Commission and reported for duty. Due to a confusing misunderstanding, his assignment as Commander of the Training Ship American Seamen (a position he was ideally suited for) fell through.

The Navy, in their infinite wisdom, then assigned this veteran ship’s Master Mariner to a shore position. He spent the winter of 1942-43 in Portland, Maine as Port Director, or as he referred to it, "as Stevedore". In April the Navy compounded the error when he was sent to Virginia to learn how to be a Seabee and took command of a Battalion. At the age of 48, he ran the obstacle courses with his men (most in their late teens and early twenties) during the day while studying his management and engineering at night.

Keep in mind he had dropped out of school in the 9th Grade to earn money for his family, and despite a decent education at the Massachusetts Nautical School, it had been nearly 28 years since he had graduated. Simply astounding determination to overcome the physical and mental challenges.

US Maritime Commission training vessel MS American Seaman July 5th, 1940. William B Taylor, photographer. Archive No. P0006/02.01-01.0109#02 . Courtesy of the Mariner's Museum. https://catalogs.marinersmuseum.org/object/ARI162591

In October of 1943 Bamforth and his Battalion was sent to the Pacific theater and served the next six months of the war in a muddy, back-water supply depot on Banika Island in the Russells. In the spring of 1944 he was assigned to several camps in California to train for amphibious landings.

In September of 1944 he was finally recognized for his leadership on the Honolulan and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. By October 18th, 1944 the Navy finally got it right and he reported for Duty at Pearl Harbor as a port pilot, where he spent the remainder of the war. He would pilot dozens if not hundreds of vessels in and out of port during this period.

Likely the most interesting vessel Bamforth ever piloted was the behemoth Imperial Japanese submarine I-401, at the time, along with her sister I-400, the largest submarine in the world. Essentially a submersible aircraft carrier with three tandem seat aircraft, she had been surrendered at the end of the war and taken to Pearl for evaluation at the beginning of 1946. Bamforth piloted her into the harbor and then later back out (not an easy job with her off-set bridge) before she was sunk during weapons tests off the coast of Kalaeloa. See here and here for more information.

He left the Navy in June of 1946 and returned to the states, restarting his American-Hawaiian civilian career. His first assignment was Mount Tamalpais under subsidiary Mount Steamship Company. After several interesting voyages to the Black Sea port of Odessa and later to Belgium, he left in August 1947 to become a company Coastal Pilot again. He was eventually federally licensed for all waterways from Maine to Virginia.

Mount Tamalpais in ballast under her later name 'Gull' with Atlantic Bulk Trading Corp. circa 1955.

He served in that capacity for the next five years until April 23rd of 1953 when American-Hawaiian finally ceased operations. He had spent thirty-seven years with American-Hawaiian. Luckily he was quickly able to find a position as a Coastal Pilot with Waterman Steamship Company. Waterman was taken over in 1955, however, and Bamforth next joined an independent Pilot’s agency.

By 1956, at the age of 60 he was in business for himself and working as hard as he ever did. He would pilot over 1,500 vessels between 1957 and 1975. His health failing, he allowed his license to expire in the spring of 1975.

Captain Charles Nathaniel Bamforth passed away in November of 1975 at the age of 80. True to form, he was working on a house repair at the time. An amazingly full and active life.

Harold L. Small

I was first contacted by Harold through the comments section of my website in early October of 2010. It was just a brief, rather cryptic comment;

“Fine colum for those who remember that fine company and the men who sailed those old krocks. Also Luckenbach in the same league. Not many left who recall those ships/that age.”

At that stage, my website was only 16 months along, with most of the info on Bernard and the Arkansan (the pages now under the Home dropdown). I had added my new summary page on American-Hawaiian in January and my initial page on the Cape San Juan in May.

It was just a chance encounter, not prompted by a new release, as it turned out he was just searching on American-Hawaiian and stumbled upon my website.

I reached out to him via e-mail, not even realizing at that point he was a survivor of the Honolulan sinking. Thus, began our 3-year on-again, off-again correspondence about American-Hawaiian, the Honolulan’s loss and his long interesting career at sea.

His original comment was a harbinger of his later e-mails; spelling and punctuation optional and sprinkled with jargon, nostalgia, and wit. As they were a bit longer, his emails always required a bit of unpacking and deciphering, but they were always entertaining.

It was like trying to communicate with an explorer trekking through some far away wilderness, never knowing when or if your message would reach them, and likewise on the response.

Captain Harold Small at 89 in Maine

His first reply was a good example:

Dear Eric: Yes indeed I sailed with Haywire. First just prior WII as wiper on the Kansan intercoastal. Later O.S. on the Honolulan with Capt. Bamforth. We lost her off the west coast, Africa, 2 torpedoes. Recently I was visited by the Bamforth family here on the Maine coast. Later I was Ch. Mate on a Haywire Liberty transport. At wars end was offered Ch. Mate on a Haywire ship by Capt. Bain starting the intercoastal run. Turned down as did not like the port call frequency intercoastal. In later years I was ashore in the Orient and Asia with States Marine/Isthmian and met 4-5 ex haywire masters on their vessels. American-Hawaiian was an excellent org. running fine services with dedicated officers. Similar in nature to Luckenbach. States Marine later bought all the Luckenbach fleet and absorbed its fine group of Masters/Officers. Longshoremen costs/Pilferage sunk American-Hawaiian. Containerization killed States Marine-Isthmian. And there was no replacement for Henry Mercer (owner). I went back to sea for another ten years then retired (RoRo to Alaska and charter tramping W/new Bulkers world trade.

Called out of retirement and took a jumboized Mariner [ES: Equality State in 1990] to the Persian Gulf. Incredibly bad crew. Left after an unbelievably stretched out voyage. Good to get away from Union shenanigans and USCG ensigns. Have been anticipating resumption of both Coastwise and Intercoastal trade in an effort to get trucks off the highways and reduce truck emissions. Again, outstanding operating ocean carriers were, in my estimation, Isthmian, American Hawaiian, Luckenbach, US Lines, Moore-Mac, and many utilizing School Ship Grads. (amhausepipe) Nice to receive your E-mail, Harold L. Small, New Harbor, Maine

Obviously, he enjoyed using the slang for American Hawaiian; “Haywire”, but respected the company nonetheless.

There were three more e-mail exchanges between October 18th and 22nd and then silence.

I felt fortunate to collect enough quotes from his various e-mails to incorporate them into Honolulan’s story, which I was working on at the time. Nothing like first person accounts, and Harold’s had a way of putting you right there in the moment.

I reached back out to him in January of 2011 but received no response. I continued to work on the Honolulan page throughout the year and finally released it on December 19th, 2011. I reached out to Harold again to give him the news, but his e-mail kicked back as not valid this time.

Finally, out of the blue, six months later on June 5th, 2012, Harold reached out to me again via a new email account, which began another flurry of five e-mail exchanges between the 5th and the 18th which resulted in even more great details I was able to add about the Honolulan’s loss.

He started his last message of the June series as follows:

Dear Eric: Yesterday attained the dinosaur age 90. Did not think that I would ever make it. Am numb on the computer (mostly did payrolls and ships papers), Need a sharp operator to show me Photo work and page work. What did we ever do on ships before computers?

Jack Holt, former O.S. on Honolulan

Another batch of seven emails occurred between November 9th, 2012 and January 3rd, 2013, plus a couple of nice hand written letters in December. These were prompted by my attempts to connect him with the family of Jack Holt, a Honolulan survivor that had recently passed, and who’s family had some old pictures they were hoping Harold could assist them with, or might like. As Harold commented about one;

I note that both Jack and I have cast off the rosy hue of youth.

Almost a year went by, then on October 25th, 2013, he responded to my ‘Duty To Cargo’ Movie announcement as follows;

Dear Eric: nice to hear from my Haywire friend. Your info sounds very interesting. Hope am able to see it. Haywire was very cargo conscious and passed it down to her officers. Few American shipping orgs shared this enthusiasm. Though we in Isthmian were I believe equally professional with cargo care. Haywire and Isth. both concentrated on obtaining officers from the academies with excellent results. Have been a bit off my feed and away from my computer, however, continue open for olde tyme communications regarding iron boats. Keep those cards and letters a coming, Regards, Harold L.

Unfortunately, it was the last time I heard from Harold.

I tried from time to time to reach out to him over the years until I finally discovered he has passed in 2016.

Each series of e-mails often included little tidbits about his career.

What follows below is what I’ve been able to piece together on my ‘Haywire Friend’ from Ancestry.com and his e-mails.

Harold’s family had deep roots in Maine going back six generations. His four times great grandfather Job Small (1729-1765) was born in Barnstable, MA but married a Maine girl, Anna Tucker (1732-1779), and they settled in Addison, ME in the early 1750’s. Subsequent generations migrated north to Machias, Lubec and Pembroke, about as far “Down East” as you can go in Maine.

His father Philip Carlton Small (1896-1973) was born in Pembroke, but moved down to Melrose, MA, likely for work, around the time he would have graduated high school. According to his draft registration card from June of 1917, 21-year-old Philip was a Jeweler living on his own in Melrose, MA just before the war, but had also spent three months in the National Guard Militia. He was a member of the famed Malden Rifles, Company L, 5th Regiment.

In August of 1917 Philip was transferred to Company L of the 101st Infantry Regiment (Made up of former members of the 5th & 9th Regiments). According to The 'Yankee Division in World War II, 101st Infantry Regiment Battle Honors';

Still fresh within the memories of a few members of the Regiment are the activities of the Ninth during the first World War. Prepared for this service by its duty at El Paso, Texas, June 18 to November 22, 1916, the Regiment was augmented by additional troops, was redesignated the 101st Infantry, with Colonel Edward L. Logan its commander, and was mustered in at Framingham on August 22, 1917. One month later it landed in France, the first National Guard Unit of the American Expeditionary Forces to land on French soil.

The 101st Infantry was also the first National Guard unit to enter the lines. Joining the French, it made a successful raid on February 23rd, the first raid in which American troops had participated and the first time that troops had attacked behind a barrage laid down by American Artillery. This marked the beginning of an exceptionally renowned era in the Regiment's History. The Regiment distinguished itself in the battles of Lorraine, Ile-de-France, Champagne-Maine, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne.

I was not able to find any specific information on his wartime experience, but he is shown as a Private with the 101st on the passenger list of the SS Tenadores which departed Hoboken, NJ on September 7th, 1917 and he returned as a Corporal on the USS America which departed Brest France on March 28th, 1919, so he was in France for all the actions noted above.

Philip returned to Melrose after the war where he was a Machine Operator at a knitting mill. There he met 18-year-old Phyllis McLain (1903 – 1993) who was working as a clerk in a law office and they married in 1921. They moved to New Harbor, ME, where she was originally from, and where Harold would later make his home. Interestingly, her father Dennis “Dan” Gove McLain (1880-1978) was a WWI veteran as well (USN) and was a beam trawler captain.

The topic of this biography, Harold Leonard Small and his twin brother Gordon Philip Small were born a year later in New Harbor, on June 17th, 1922.

Sadly, his parent’s marriage did not last. The circumstances are not clear, but Phyllis moved away shortly after Harold and Gordon were born, and the twins stayed with their father in New Harbor. Phyllis later married a man named Trostle in 1942.

Harold’s father remarried in 1927, to Carolyn Isabelle Feltis (1907-unknown), ten years his junior. The twins were now six years old. The following year Philip and Carolyn had a daughter, Marjorie Louise Small Wielki (1928-2013). By this time, they were living in Norwood, MA where Philip was supporting the family as a janitor at a theater.

The twins entered school around this time, and thus grew up in Massachusetts. Interestingly, Harold’s obituary states that he grew up in New Harbor, but the records do not support this. It's possible he may have spent summers there. Later, their father was working for the town of Norwood as a janitor at the Balch School.

In the spring of 1940, the twins left high school, likely after their sophomore year, and made their way to New York City to start their careers as merchant mariners. I’m sure there was a fascinating story to explain how this all came about, perhaps now lost to time.

Axios courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington NZ, via Peter Cundall

Harold mentioned starting out washing dishes and shoveling coal (Trimmer) on a Greek freighter. On Ancestry I found 18-year-old Harold signed on to the Theofano Maritime Company’s Axios under Master Emmanuel Francos on July 23rd, 1940 in New York. He was one of four replacements for five men who deserted when the vessel arrived in port. I was surprised to see his brother was not one of them and had gone his separate way. Harold was one of only three Americans among the crew of 29, and the youngest of all.

The Axios had arrived from Workington, England on July 5th, consigned to Boyd, Weir & Sewell, Inc and was expected to sail for Kobe, Japan via Charleston, SC and the Panama Canal.

Harold mentioned being a wiper on American-Hawaiian’s Kansan but I could find no examples and assume this was between his service on the Axios and his next assignment. This was likely during the first half of 1941, perhaps under Chief Engineer Harry W. Ackerman and Master Orrick Rogers who commanded Kansan the latter half of 1941.

Robin Hood in her neutrality markings that she would have featured when Harold served on her. Photo courtesy of Capt. Arthur R. Moore via uboat.net

He signed on as an Ordinary Seaman (O.S.) with the American ‘Seas Shipping Co.’ steamer Robin Hood in New York on August 24th, 1941. They arrived in Boston on December 5th from the port of Dar Es Salaam, British East Africa, so Harold had already been in a war zone before our official entry into the war. Robin Hood would be sunk with the loss of 14 the following April by U-575 (Heydemann) on the return of her next voyage.

By mid-October he had signed on with Edgar Sutton on the Honolulan and stayed with her when Bamforth took over until their loss off the coast of Africa on July 22nd. He had just turned 20.

Just weeks earlier, on July 4th, Harold’s twin brother Gordon was fighting for his life on the SS Ironclad, as his convoy, the infamous PQ-17 was under attack by German bombers based in occupied Norway. In an article in the ‘Seafarer’s Log’, Gordon is quoted;

The bombers plowed right up through the convoy lanes against terrific fire, loosing their torpedoes and firing at the ships with their machine guns. A plane passed so close to the Ironclad, we could see the faces of the pilot and the gunner. Bullets from the old Browning .50 caliber machine guns on the Ironclad seemed to bounce off bombers like hail on a tin roof.

It took months before Harold's brother Gordon arrived back in the states aboard the Queen Elizabeth (Master Ernest Masson Fall) on April 13th, 1943. It’s unclear what happened in between, but fellow PQ-17 survivor, steward Fred A, Delapenha of the Christopher Newport, noted that survivors on shore drew lots in November for a convoy going to Iceland. Most, including Delapenha, were later evacuated on the Battleship USS Washington to Reykjavik, Iceland. They spent another four months there before they caught a convoy to Scapa Flow, before taking a train to Glasgow where they were at a rest camp before catching their ride back on the Queen Elizabeth, which sailed from Gourock on April 7th.

Harold, of course, had arrived back in New York the previous August with the rest of the Honolulan’s survivors on the Winchester Castle. Advancing to an A.B., he signed on the Liberty Ship Matthew P. Deady on September 27th, 1942. The Deady had just been delivered to American-Hawaiian in July and her Master was Harold’s old mentor Edgar S. Sutton.

They departed New York on October 1st, 1942 as part of the 36 vessel Convoy HX-210, bound for Halifax where they picked-up 7 more vessels and their mostly Canadian Flower-class corvette escorts. They reached Liverpool safely on October 16th. Interestingly enough, Honolulan's nemesis, U-582 commanded by Werner Schulte was sunk with the loss of all hands on October 5th while attempting to attack Convoy HX-209, which I detail in their section below.

According to warsailors.com, the Commodore’s narrative of the voyage noted;

On day after leaving New York strong head winds were experienced reducing speed of convoy at times to 6 knots, for the remainder of the voyage until 13th Oct. there was following winds. On 13th and 14th gales were experienced from S.S.E. and S.W. during which considerable damage was done to deck cargoes and convoy was considerably spread out on night of 14th Oct."

This was Harold’s first convoy experience. Master Sutton left the Deady in Liverpool for an unknown reason and was replaced by Harald Moe on October 22nd.

They departed the Clyde estuary on January 21st, 1943 as part of the 60 ship U.K. to Mediterranean convoy KMS 008G. On February 7th, West of Algiers, the U-77 (Hartmann) attacked the convoy and sank two vessels.

On February 21st the Deady joined convoy MKS 008 from Algiers to Oran and then joined GUS 4 from Oran to New York, arriving back March 12th, 1943.

His twin brother Gordon finally arrived back from his PQ-17 odyssey a month later, on April 13th.

As Harold would write in November of 2012;

I was very fortunate in being able to attend the maritime school 12th class at New London, CT in 1943. An excellent govt. program. My identical twin brother Gordon back from PQ 17 Murmansk convoy obtained 3rd asst ticket same time.

This maritime school was located at Fort Trumbull, across the Thames River from Groton. According to an article in MAST Magazine from May 1944 posted on the usmm.org website:

The officer school is one of two (the other being located at Alameda, Calif.) which trains seamen from merchant ships for officer positions. The men themselves are more or less "veteran" seamen since they must have at least 14 months sea duty before they're able to enter the school. They are also men who have combat experience -- contact with the enemy on all fighting fronts. There are men at the school who have dodged torpedoes on the submarine choked runs into the Mediterranean, to South America and the Middle East. [ES: perfectly describes Harold] There are also men there who helped take the first war supplies to Murmansk and Archangel, [ES: perfectly describes Gordon] and some who have been held captive on German subs.

You'll also find old timers at Fort Trumbull. Men who have been going to sea since they left high school and have found the prospect of getting officer papers in four months of intensive study too enticing to pass up. And there are the old timers who left the sea years ago to take up new sobs ashore. Now they're back taking refresher courses to renew licenses and get a crack at an active wartime job.

Fort Trumbull circa 1944

Twins Harold (L) and Gordon (R) during or perhaps soon after the end of the war. Courtesy of Jennifer James, granddaughter of Jack Holt.

Youngsters of 19 and 20 are taking the rugged deck and engine courses too, and by the number of combat bars on their uniforms you know they've seen the war up front. The men vary in age from 19 to 61 with the average somewhere around 33 or 34. Half the men have had combat experience -- and they can safely bet the other men have been under threat of attack, either by lurking submarines or screeching dive bombers on more than one occasion. Interesting also is the figure on men over military age, 39 per cent; and the number of Army-Navy-Marine vets, 31 per cent.

It all adds up to a group of Americans, young and old, who have felt the fire of battle, perhaps seen the enemy literally eye to eye, and want to go back for more.

Since the opening day, September 1, 1942, more than 10,000 candidates have gone through Fort Trumbull's gates. Not all have gone back out with their officer ticket and shining Ensign's stripe. The courses are tough enough to weed out the men not suitable for officer material. Figures recently showed that 2,323 candidates have received Engine tickets and 2,955 Deck tickets. Thousands of other candidates have taken the refresher work in order to renew licenses.

The twins turned 21 while they attended the school, Harold graduating with his 3rd Mate’s license and Gordon with his 3rd Assistant Engineer License. The courses were intense, and they likely didn’t get to see much of each other, but it was the first time since they ran off to sea three years prior. They already had some amazing stories to tell.

As Harold wrote “And off we went, running the North Atlantic.

Broadside view of the William A. Jones docked at the northside of pier 3, Newport News, VA, unknown date. U.S. Army Signal Corps Photograph. Archive No. P0003/01-#B-14079. Courtesy of The Mariner's Museum and Park https://catalogs.marinersmuseum.org/object/ARI141081

Fresh out of school he scored a 2nd Mates position on the Liberty Ship William A. Jones, managed by Norton-Lilly. She had only been delivered around the time he entered school and arrived in New York in August under the command of Roy W. Korf. Master Joseph Kutis appears to have replaced him before they joined the Atlantic convoys.

Harold made three round trips on the William A. Jones in the following HX/ON convoys:

Convoy HX.257 (Sep 1943: NYC - Liverpool)

Convoy ON.208 (Oct 1943: Liverpool - NYC)

Convoy HX.272 (Dec 1943: NYC - Liverpool)

Convoy ON.222 (Jan 1944: Liverpool - NYC)

Convoy HX.282 (Mar 1944: NYC - Liverpool)

Convoy ON.250 (Aug 1944: Liverpool - NYC)

In the gap between their last HX/ON series the William A Jones is also shown making six round trip voyages between June and August in support of the D-Day landings on the following convoys:

Convoy FTM.18 (Jun 1944: Seine Bay - Southend)

Convoy FTM.25 (Jul 1944: Seine Bay - Southend)

Convoy FTM.38 (Jul 1944: Seine Bay - Southend)

Convoy FTM.47 (Jul 1944: Seine Bay - Southend)

Convoy FTM.55 (Aug 1944: Seine Bay - Southend)

Convoy FTM.66 (Aug 1944: Seine Bay - Southend)

According to the Naval History and Heritage Command:

The William A. Jones was one of the few merchant ships to bring down a robot bomb [ES: German V-1 missile]. She shot the bomb down on June 25 [ES: the V-1's flew low and slow]. Merchant ships spoke of the Straits of Dover as "Doodlebug Alley" because so many of the V-bombs were observed flying over.”

Unfortunately, Harold never mentioned these convoys and his Normandy experience in any of his emails. I think he would have told me if I had asked, but at the time, I had no idea.

Louis McLane on July 29th, 1943 in convoy approximately 26 miles east of Chesapeake Bay. Courtesy of the US National Archives via Frank A. Gerhardt's website http://www.usmaritimecommission.de/

Harold next signed on as Chief Mate on the American-Hawaiian’s Liberty ship Louis McLane November 18th under Master James R. Ross (MNS ’32). Harold referred to him as ‘Big Jim Ross’ in one of his emails. I was contacted by Ross’ grandson in the summer of 2020 and hope to add a page on him as well one day.

They made one round-trip, including a port call at the recently liberated port of Antwerp in January:

HX 323 Departed NY Nov 29th, 1944 & arrived in Liverpool on Dec 13th

ON 278 Departed Southend Jan 12th, 1945 & arrived in NY Jan 31st.

Harold finished out the war as Chief Mate on Norton-Lilly’s John Colter under Master John F. Cronin. He signed on February 10th, 1945.

As Harold noted previously: “At wars end was offered Ch. Mate on a Haywire ship by Capt. Bain starting the intercoastal run. Turned down as did not like the port call frequency intercoastal.

Captain Bain was Frank H. Bain (1902-1979), Atlantic Coast Operating Manager for American-Hawaiian at the time. He took over the position from Myron P. Schermerhorn, often mentioned in Bamforth’s book, who had held the position from 1937 to 1942 when Bain took over. Bain was born George Franklin Holland Bain and was a graduate of the New York State Nautical School circa 1921. He had a twenty year career with American-Hawaiian and this point, and served as Illinioan’s Master just before the war.

Timing is everything. In 1945 when he was offered the post-war intercoastal position with American-Hawaiian, Harold was a confirmed bachelor, still anxious to see as much of the world as he could. In his opinion:

I think it is safe to say that American-Hawaiian was the finest U.S. flag shipping company, one reason being that you could get good family men on the coast or coastwise trade.

The regular schedules meant the officers could return home more frequently. Conversely, later in his life when he was ready to settle down, Harold said;

I was offered instructors position Mass Maritime, but too much travel involved. Prefer the quiet of the cove in our front yard.

Harold reflected;

I did most of the war on Liberties. Grand old girls. After the war ch Mate on a Waterman Lib. coastwise. Fun.

See list below of Harold’s known wartime assignments:

New York Nautical School cadet Frank H. Bain circa 1920

Harold Small Wartime Assignments

Isthmian's post war Erie Basin Terminal at the foot of Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY from company tri-fold flyer provided by Harold.


Harold mentions his post war career in several e-mails, although it is somewhat difficult to place them in chronological order as he jumped around quite a bit.

From what I can tell, the 1950’s and early 1960’s were spent sailing with Isbrandtsen/Isthmian.

Harold Small Post War Assignments

In 1962 his twin brother Gordon passed away. As Harold described it:

My twin brother Gordon, sailing as Ch. Engr at 24, when sailing with Isthmian picked up a bug on the India trade and passed on at 40. In later years I was requested to return to India, as an Isthmian rep, after doing an operations cost survey and analysis, but declined as did/do not like the country or climate. I did, at their request, find them a Maine man who was out there for many years.

Below are more quotable quotes from our correspondence about his long and varied career:

I was queried on my interest in shore work loading ships on the west coast. No thanks, longshoremen fractious. Back in from another rounder and queried my interest in shifting to the Orient as area manager. This sounded interesting. Go to the office and meet Mr. Robert G. Stone, Jr. Mr. Stone (harvard) He needed a maritime oriented person (Capt or Ch Mate) to manage their interests at Inchon and the west coast of Korea. After 3 years in Korea was shifted to Kobe Japan. After 3 yrs. there and depreciating dollars off to Maine for a vacation. Thence to Java and Sumatra (land of that nut Soekarno).. Indonesia. Then for meritorious service was shifted to Vietnam, bedding in Saigon. One day before the Tet Offensive, was shifted to Singapore to relieve the agency manager, Glenn Wood. as Senior Owners Rep. Having fun coordinating operations on all inbound shipping, southeast asia and other related activities One year of this and called back to New York. we are going into the off shore oil drilling marine equipmnet (marine) biz. We dont really know much about this biz except it used ships and boats. We converted one of our Liberty ships too a oil base ship and bought smalled vessels and sent them to Singapore, thence to New Guinea for oil exploration support, along with 3 vessels. Nice place New Guinea.This contract lasted one year, however was called back to New York. for introduction to a new shipping entity, West India Lines. Fmnally/r, Dougllass Mercer and I disagreed on poliicy and I hief back t Maine for Lobster at our Small Bros. restaurant in New Harbor. Thence hustling ships around the world for different orgs.

The charter tramping on the 3 bulkers was fun, however had share of troubles including loosing chain-Anchor in the Mississippi, ship on fire in the South China Sea, towed into Singapore shipyard for months of repairs. Broken fuel injector sprayed on turbo charger.

I started out with Isthmian (ILI) as jr. 3rd mate and was pushed up to Southeast Asia senior Rep. and vice president of one of the States Marine subsidies (Eastern Sea Services) ESS. operating out of Singapore. More on this later. In the long run I prefer sailing. (Never thought I would live this long after living thru some dusty situations)

Container ships for those unacquainted with the romance of general cargo. Elephant tusks, rare woods, baled flowers, raw wet hides, coffee and tea. Isbrandtsen East bound around the world and Isthmian west bound around. Never see those days again. Knock on a steel box. Hong Kong for a suit and shoes tailor made in 2 days. Throw in an english cashmir jacket.

Steel Architect, unknown date and location. Note similar bridged king posts like the Honolulan. Courtesy of the Joe Lewis Collection via Frank A. Gerhardt's website http://www.usmaritimecommission.de/

The C-3's were the finest cargo ships, with ease of loading/stability and trim. On the Steel Architect we had the most economically run C-3 in the Isthmian fleet. 1st asst and ch. mate working with each other.

I ended up trouble shooting with Isthmian and States Marine for CEO Bob Stone Jr. Last mission digging into our Isthmian India trade. At end parted ways with Douglas Mercer and back to sea and my preferred occupation.

Starting as Capt on a Global Marine new drill ship the Glomar Coral Sea [ES: launched in 1974]. Thence better money Capt on the sugar bulker M.V Sugar Islander thence Roll On, Roll Off container ship S.S. Great Land rolling containers from Tacoma to Alaska at 24 knots, round trip weekly.

Pride of Texas being launched in 1981.

After several years of this opted for a series of new bulkers being built at Orange, Texas. [ES: These were the Pride of Texas, Star of Texas and Spirit of Texas launched respectively on May 22nd, 1981, January 7th, 1982 and December 28th, 1982 at Levingston Shipbuilding] Was appointed owner’s rep for construction. On finishing a boat took her for maiden voyage and then returned for construction and sailing of the next for 2 ships. However, no fun working in a rebel shipyard with tons of papers with the Maritime Comm.

Then having my time in, I retired at 65. Now recalling the aforementioned, at 90 yrs. plus. Would love to do it all over again. The Sugar Islander was a paradise deal, hitting 3 ports each trip in the Hawaiian Islands and loading for Crockett, Cal. If I wasn’t so rickety would work for reduced wages

I had interesting cargo operations 50 miles up the Congo river on two occasions. Never a dull moment.”

As you can see, he was quite a character.

Small Brothers Lobsters restaurant and wholesale, New Harbor, ME circa 1970's.

Harold mentions he had a Lobster retail and wholesale business at home for 35 years. This was Small Brothers Lobster in New Harbor Maine, which was bought out in 1988 and renamed Shaw’s Fish and Lobster Wharf, which is still in business today. 35 years would indicate Harold and Gordon bought it in 1953. How they had time with their careers at sea, I don’t know. They may have bankrolled it and put their name on it, but I can only assume others managed and ran it most of that time.

While he was living in Singapore managing Eastern Sea Services he met and married Harumi O. (full last name unknown) on November 21st, 1969, at the age of forty-seven. Harumi was twenty-three. They had a son in 1971 who Harold named in honor of his brother. Sadly, the marriage did not last, and they divorced 6 years later in 1975. Harold’s son and his family later settled in upstate New York and I know Harold stayed with them from time to time.

Harold later married Eleanor “Ellie” Partridge (née Pingree) on October 10th, 1987, at the age of sixty-five. This would have been shortly before he sold his restaurant and retired. They stayed together until her death on March 16th, 2015, at the age of ninety-one. Her obituary notes that Harold “shared her life through the good times and served her faithfully through her end-of-life challenges.” Ellie was known for her sense of humor and sharp wit, which must have made them quite a team.

Glamour shot of Arcadia under her current name Gracie.

In one of his emails from 2013 Harold mentioned ;

The Stone family were olde ship owners, owning Eastern Steamship for many years. I enjoyed ocean racing with Bob on the east coast and to Bermuda. we had a trip planned around the world on his 70’ sloop Acadia upon retirement however he had a stroke and cashed in early.

He was referring to Robert Gregg Stone Jr. who was president and chairman of States Marine Lines when Harold worked for him in the late ‘60’s, early ‘70’s.

Stone took a leave from Harvard to serve in the U.S. Army in the Pacific during World War II, eventually graduating in 1947. He ran several companies over his lifetime. Stone was also Commodore of the New York Yacht Club in the ‘90’s. He successfully raced his handsome 69-foot McCurdy & Rhodes designed sloop Arcadia in the famed Newport to Bermuda race between 1984 and 2004. See standings below:

1990 Newport to Bermuda Race, Class A, 1st

1998 Newport to Bermuda Race, Class 8, 4th

2000 Newport to Bermuda Race, Class 7, 7th

2002 Newport to Bermuda Race, Class 8, 9th

2004 Newport to Bermuda Race, Class 7, 5th

It is hard to imagine Harold joining him in the races as he would have been 68 for the 1990 race and 82 for the 2004, but Stone himself was less than a year younger than Harold. I attempted to find out which races Harold may have been a part of, but there is very little information on the crews. I did find out this information is contained in the Newport to Bermuda Yacht Race Handbook published for each race but these appear to all be in private collections and not in local libraries. Stone passed just a couple months before the 2006 Newport to Bermuda race. It is too bad they never got the chance to take the Arcadia around the world.

Robert G. Stone Jr.

Harold Small at the helm of the Arcadia. Original caption: “Out sailing with the boss Bob Stone on the Acadia [sic] to Halifax. Life is too short to not go sailing.”

Quite a journey from the Honolulan’s lifeboats they sailed towards the Gambia in ‘42. Not bad for a high school drop out that started out as a coal passer.

Captain Harold Leonard Small passed away on August 7th, 2016, at Round Pond Green Assisted Living Facility, Bristol, ME at the age of ninety-four.

He served in four wars: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the First Gulf War.

U-582 and Werner Schulte

Kapitänleutnant Werner Schulte circa 1942 from 'Hamburger Illustrierte' cover.

According to Uboat.net, Werner Schulte was born in Kiel, Germany on November 7th, 1912 (the year before Bamforth started his training). Kiel is located in the North of Germany on the Baltic Sea, and was one of the major naval bases and shipbuilding centers of the Third Reich. As such, it suffered heavily from Allied bombing raids during the war.

Schulte joined the Kriegsmarine in the spring of 1937 at the age of 24, and graduated with Crew 37a. His classmates included Siegfried Kietz, who was in command of Arkansan’s U-126 when she was lost with all hands, and Oskar-Heinz Kusch of U-154 that witnessed the loss.

From March 1938 to April 1940 he served as Gunnery and Divisional Officer on the light cruiser Köningsberg. During this time he was promoted to Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant-Commander). He then served on the staff of Naval Commander at Bergen, Norway (which had just been taken by the German’s that summer) until October 1940 when he joined the U-Boat force. His U-Boat training lasted from October 1940 to March 1941 when he began his U-Boat Commander training with the 24th flotilla at Memel, finishing the course in April.

In May Schulte was sent as ‘Commander in Training’ on one patrol on the U-98 (Robert Gysae), patrolling southeast of Cape Farewell, Greenland. They sank the British Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Salopian (F 94), and the British steamers Rothermere and Marconi over the course of eight days for a total of over 23,000 GRT.

Schulte was then sent to U-boat familiarization (Baubelehrung) in July before taking command of his own boat, the new Type VIIC U-582, commissioned in Hamburg on August 7th, 1941. U-582 was attached to the 5th flotilla (Training) at Kiel upon commissioning and began tactical exercises. During this time period Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese and America entered the war. According to post-war allied interrogation reports, during U-582’s tactical exercises she was rammed by U-503 (Otto Gericke) and sustained slight damage. About this same time she helped search for survivors from U-583 (Heinrich Ratsch) which had been rammed and sunk by U-153 (Wilfried Reichmann). U-583 was lost with all hands.

First Patrol

U-582 left Kiel for its first war patrol on December 20th, 1941 proceeding through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, into the North Sea. The next several days they proceeded tight along the coast of Norway and on Christmas Eve made their turn west.

On Christmas morning, U-582 was about 120 miles NNE of the Shetlands when they were ordered to proceed to Trondheim, Norway at once in order to “replace stud-bolts of exhaust valves”. Schulte had his mechanics check the bolts and they appeared fine, which confused them, but they reversed course and headed for Trondheim that afternoon. They planned to arrive there about 4:00pm the following day.

On their way they ran into a ferocious winter storm, at the top of the wind and sea scales. It wasn’t until late morning on December 27th that they were able to meet their escort trawler at the entrance to the fjord. Before they could even reach Trondheim, however, they were ordered to turn around again and head south with U-135 (Friedrich-Hermann Prätorius), U-156 (Werner Hartenstein), and U-87 (Joachim Berger) towards Ålesund, Norway where the British had launched a surprise commando raid called Operation Archery.

They ran into bad weather again, and by the time they neared the area the British had already withdrawn. Around mid-day on the 28th they were ordered back to Trondheim to affect repairs. The other U-Boats were ordered to proceed into the Atlantic on their patrols and report fuel amounts.

U-582 entered Trondheim fjord around 9:00pm that evening. After about 2 hours they decided to anchor in the fjord due to bad visibility. They finally reached Trondheim the following afternoon. U-582 was tied up alongside the maintenance ship Huascaran from December 30th through January 2nd where a team from Blohm & Voss exchanged the stud-bolts on the exhaust valves. U-582 departed Trondheim around mid-day on January 3rd, clearing the fjord later that evening on a course of 255° to resume their patrol.

Schulte was assigned to Wolfpack Ziethen (named for former Calvary officer) along with ten other U-Boats to operate off Newfoundland from January 15th to the 22nd. On January 26th they sank the British tanker Refast south of St. Johns. They also sighted neutral Swedish, Portuguese, and Red Cross vessels, but claimed no further successes. On January 29th they headed for their new home in Brest, occupied France. During their return on February 2nd they were tasked with performing search and rescue operations to the west and north of the area were the German blockade runner Spreewald was accidentally sunk by U-333 (Peter-Erich Cremer). On February 4th U-582 had to resume her homeward voyage due to lack of fuel. They arrived in Brest on February 7th, 1942, the same day Bamforth and the Honolulan left New York on their last voyage.

Second Patrol

Schulte and U-582 left Brest on March 19th, 1942 for their second war patrol, and were part of the second wave of attacks on the American east coast. This would turn out to be a particularly frustrating patrol for Schulte and his crew, especially since this was a period of great success for the U-Boat forces.

U-582 was out nine days before they received their orders. This may have partially been because BdU was considering moving their headquarters further inland where it would be safer, a point reinforced by the British commando raid on St. Nazaire on March 27th. On the 28th U-582 was ordered to escort the blockade runner Rio Grande through the Bay of Biscay, but waited in vain several days because Rio Grande decided to continue alone to Bordeaux.

U-582 then crossed the Atlantic to her first patrol area north of Bermuda and only spotted a neutral Portuguese steamer before they had to leave to refuel from U-459. The refueling itself was delayed due to other U-Boats and rough seas. When U-582 finally arrived in the patrol area off Cape Hatteras in early May 1942 it was discovered that the boat had received provisions for only about 9 days and not for 18 as expected.

U-582 could only operate in the patrol area for a few days before they had to leave for their return voyage. This may have been compounded by it being a full moon period when they were there, which would have limited their ability to surface at night during their prime hunting time. On the whole patrol U-582 only encountered enemy ships twice: a failed triple shot at a fast passenger ship and an encounter with a convoy while returning on May 15th, but Schulte was ordered by BdU not to attack.

They arrived back at Brest empty handed on May 24th after nine and a half weeks on patrol. Honolulan was anchored off of Bombay at this time. BdU mentioned in his commentary about the unsuccessful patrol of U-582 that they were simply unlucky and it wasn't the fault of Schulte that the boat returned without success.

While U-582 was in port preparing for their next patrol, and Honolulan was preparing to sail for Cape Town, SKL (High Command of the Kriegsmarine), issued the following order, which was radioed by BdU to all U-Boats on June 5th, 1942:

Captains of all ships sunk are to be taken on board as prisoners, with the ship's papers, provided getting them aboard does not endanger the boat or reduce her fighting power by raising the consumption of provisions.

Third Patrol

Oberfähnrich zur See Wilhelm von Trotha circa 1938 courtesy of uboat.net

U-582 left Brest on her third war patrol on June 22nd, 1942, the day after Honolulan entered the Mozambique Channel. Schulte’s First Watch Officer Hermann Rossmann left the U-582 prior to this patrol for commander training and was replaced by Wilhelm von Trotha. Rossmann would be killed later in the war, 18 days into his first patrol in command of U-273.

This would prove to be Schulte’s most successful patrol. As mentioned in ‘The Attack’ section above, U-582 was assigned to Wolfpack Hai (Shark) and operated off the west coast of Africa, sinking the British Port Hunter (which was carrying the patrol craft HMNZS ML-1090) on July 12th and Empire Attendant on July 15th. The two steamers were both carrying ammunition and suffered very high casualties.

Port Hunter was initially missed by a spread of two torpedoes. Schulte fired another spread, and one of these hit forward where her ammunition was stored. 88 of her crew were lost in the resulting explosions and the only 3 survivors were men that were sleeping on deck at the time and were blown overboard.

Empire Attendant was initially hit between the stack and aft mast by one of two torpedoes bringing her to a stop. It is assumed that the crew abandoned ship but were not yet a safe distance away when Schulte fired a coup de grace thirty minutes later. This hit forward, igniting her ammunition and killing the entire crew of 59.

Prior to the attack on Honolulan BdU had ordered U-582 to refuel from U-116 and to get provisions for 4 weeks, so luckily for Bamforth, Schulte probably avoided taking prisoners as he expected to be on patrol for several more weeks. The space aboard a VIIC was tight with the standard crew and was even more limited with the war correspondent aboard. They had used up 11 of their 12 internal torpedoes by this stage. On the 23rd they brought down one of their two G7a torpedoes from the exterior storage container into the bow torpedo room.

On the evening of the 25th, Schulte fired a single torpedo from tube IV at small freighter (described as "type Baron Blythswood") and missed, course 300°, speed 10 knots, in Grid ES 5419. Schulte decided not to press the attack, and proceeded to the rendezvous. That evening while they were waiting for U-116 they brought their last externally stored G7a down to the aft torpedo room.

They didn't spot U-116 until the following evening, July 26th, and spent about 5 1/2 hours taking on fuel and provisions. Schulte made a point of noting that the process goes a lot smoother that their re-supply from U-459 on their previous patrol.

Schulte’s next victim would not be so lucky. Just 5 days after the Honolulan, on July 27th U-582 attacked the American steamer Stella Lykes. The Stella Lykes (picture) was a new C1-B that had been delivered about a year earlier. She was fast too, at 14 knots. U-582 spotted her shadow before dawn. Schulte was down to his last two remaining torpedoes. The first shot was fired from Tube I at 925 meters and brought Stella Lykes to a stop. One man, oiler Max Korb, was killed while on-duty in the engine room. The remaining crew abandoned ship about thirty minutes later. The second shot was fired from Tube V about 30 minutes after that from 500 meters. The U-582 surfaced, and while circling the ship, fired 161 rounds of from their 88mm from a distance of between 1,000 and 3,000 meters, until the weapon became unusable. This still failed to sink the Stella Lykes. Eventually, the Germans sent over a boarding party in one of their inflatable rafts consisting of Oblt.z.S. Rüdiger Beichhold and Mech.Mt.(T) Gericke. They set 7 scuttling charges, which finally did the job. They took the Stars and Stripes from the Stella Lykes home as a trophy. In the photo below you can see the flag displayed on the conning tower of the U-582 as her crew pose with a piece of the Port Hunter.

Unidentified crew members of U-582 posing with debris from the Port Hunter upon their return to Brest in August. Note man on right with elbow on barrel of 88mm. The captured American flag from the Stella Lykes can be seen displayed across the front of the conning tower. Commander Schulte can be seen above the flag in the top right in the white commander's cap. Also note tonnage pennant flying from raised periscope. Photo is assumed to be taken by kriegsberichter Arnold Prokop. Image appeared inside the November 7th, 1942 cover of the German propaganda newspaper 'Hamburger Illustrierte' . From the private collection of Stephen Ball.

Since the U-582 was out of torpedoes and therefore needed to return to France, they also took Stella Lykes’ Master, S. Charles Wallace and Chief Engineer Walter Morrison prisoner. Cigarettes, first aid supplies and the course to the nearest land were given to the remaining survivors. The 50 survivors crowded into the single lifeboat under the command of their Chief Mate, Russian-American Peter Okkelman, and made landfall after 12 days on August 8th, 1942 at Cacheu, Portuguese Guinea (present day Guinea-Bissau). Using the name of the lone casualty, oiler Max Korb, I was able to search on Ancestry.com and find a partial crew list for Stella Lykes from their arrival in Boston on their previous voyage. Using other names from this list, I was able to determine that the survivors were picked up in Freetown, Sierra Leone by the Navy transport USS Chateau Thierry (AP-31). They sailed on August 19th along with the survivor’s from another Lykes’ vessel, SS Cripple Creek. They made another stop in Bathurst, Gambia, finally sailing for New York on August 21st.

Schulte missed with 8 of his 14 torpedoes on this patrol, but it was still very successful with 30,690 tons sunk.

U-582 returned to Brest on August 11th, 1942. Master Sylvester Charles Wallace and Chief Engineer Walter Morrison were transferred to the prisoner-of-war camp Milag Nord, 10 miles north of Bremen, and spent the remainder of the war there. They were eventually repatriated on February 21st, 1945 aboard the Swedish M/S Gripsholm.

Stella Lykes prisoners arriving at Brest aboard the U-582 in August of 1942. On the left is Chief Engineer Walter Morrison and in the center is Master Sylvester Charles Wallace holding a cigar. On the right is an unknown German Naval Officer. From the collection of Dr. Axel Niestlé.

Fourth Patrol

U-582 left on her fourth and final patrol on September 14th, 1942. Von Trotha left the boat prior to this patrol for commander training and was replaced by Schulte’s classmate Oberleutnant zur See (Lieutenant) Albert Laenebach. Von Trotha would be killed later in the war while in command of the U-745. Kriegsberichter Arnold Prokop also left U-582 after this patrol, and was later lost with all hands on U-847.

On September 21st, U-582 was assigned a temporary attack area about 700 miles due west of Limerick, Ireland and was assigned to Wolfpack Blitz the following day. On September 23rd, 1942 Schulte sank the Norwegian M/S Vibran in position 42°45’ N, 42° 45’ W. There were no survivors among her 37 crew and 11 passengers. U-582 made contact with a convoy further north which the Germans designated Convoy 55, on or about September 25th, but lost them in the bad weather. The following day U-582 was transferred to Wolfpack Tiger until September 30th. That day U-582 reported they had chased the Norwegian M/S Oregon Express further west, course 240°, 15 knots, but were forced to break off the attack. Oregon Express’ Second Mate/Radio Operator Birger Lunde described the encounter, which you can read here. Later that day, Schulte was actually ordered to head for the area between Greenland and Iceland at ‘economical cruising speed’ for an intended attack on another convoy.

On October 1st, U-582 is assigned to Wolfpack “Luchs” (Lynx) to attack convoy HX-209 bound for Liverpool, England from New York. Schulte spotted the convoy on October 4th, but couldn’t get into position due to Allied air cover and severe weather (described by the Germans as “northwest 8, high swell, hailstorms and moderate visibility”). There was some controversy whether U-582 might have later sunk the American tanker Robert H Colley of HX-209 on October 4th. Some sources state the Robert H Colley broke in two after being hit amidships from a torpedoed fired by U-582. However, U-582 sent a report after this and did not mention the success. Eyewitness accounts from nearby vessels state that there was no explosion, and that the Robert H Colley simply broke in two due to extremely heavy seas, described as 80 foot waves.

The following morning, October 5th, 1942, U-582 was heading north, getting into position east of convoy HX-209. The North Atlantic southwest of Iceland in October is never that great, but was unseasonable bad this year. Seas were rough and there were frequent sleet and snow showers. Cloud ceiling was at 2,000 feet and visibility was 8-10 miles.

Chief Aviation Pilot (CAP) Manuel “Manny” Luke and his crew of Squadron VP-73 had taken off from their base at FAB Iceland (known as Camp Kwitcherbelliakin) at 7:07am that morning. The aircraft was a Consolidated PBY5A “Catalina”, No. 73-P-9 (BuNo 02459) and was painted non-specular blue and gray. Luke's crew consisted of:

Aviation Pilot R.L. Craben – 2nd Pilot

Ensign L.D. Poland – Navigator

ARM2c E.G. Sutherland – Blister

AMM1c J.H. Stewart – Blister

AMM3c L.L. Staffenberg – Tower

AMM3c R. Pope Jr. – Blister

ARM2c Grant Patton – Radio

ARM2c H.W. Hoopengardner – Blister

Consolidated PBY5A "Catalina", No. 73-P-9 (BuNo 02459) of Navy squadron VP-73. From 'US Navy PBY Catalina Units of the Atlantic War ' by Ragnar J Ragnarsson

According to the narrative of Luke’s report:

A/C [Aircraft] had just contacted convoy and was on a course of 130° T, altitude 2000 ft., cutting across the path of convoy when a disturbance was seen bearing 350°, 10 miles. Leading D/R [Destroyer] was directly ahead of convoy and on A/C’s starboard beam. Immediately started run on sighted object which was immediately discovered to be U/B [U-Boat]. U/B was on starboard of convoy immediately ahead of outboard ship and about 15 miles ahead. Attack was made directly down path of U/B – D/B’s [Depth Bombs] were released while U/B was still on surface and perfectly straddled hull. As plume from D/B’s settled U/B disappeared in plume. Conning tower was visible at time of explosion. Oil patches definitely indicate damage to U/B but extent is unknown.

The disturbance they reported was noted later as being “water breaking over decks and conning tower”.

The PBY had been traveling at 2,000 feet at a speed of 105 knots (121mph). As they dove their speed increased to 160 knots (184mph) until they released the depth bombs at an altitude of 75 feet. They did not use radar and appear to have caught the U-582 completely by surprise and there was no return fire or attempt to maneuver, they just attempted to crash dive at the last moment. One man was still visible in the conning tower and the bow was still exposed at the time of the drop.

Four Mark 29 650lb. depth bombs with Mark 24 hydrostatic fuses set for 25 feet were dropped in a stick with 40 foot spacing. Numbers 1 and 3 exploded to the port side of U-582 and numbers 2 and 4 exploded to starboard, with number 3 noted as being opposite conning tower.

Later that day, BdU instructed the U-Boats to break off the attack on HX-209 and form a new patrol line further east. U-582 did not confirm the instructions. After first light on the 6th the convoy attack was finally broken off. U-619, U-620, U-582, U-602, U-662 and U-382, which had not yet reported were told to make their positions. All boats eventually reported in during the course of the day except U-582 and U-619. Schulte had reported trouble with his transmitter before the attack and BdU thought they possibly could not get a report through on her emergency transmitter in the bad weather. U-619 (Kurt Makowski) was sunk with the loss of all hands on October 5th by an RAF Hudson of No. 269 squadron. Instructions continued to be sent to U-582 for several days as the boats re-grouped as Wolfpack Panther. On October 9th BdU noted:

U-582 was also shadowing Convoy No. 57 [HX-209] and reported at 1016/5/10 that her transmitter was out of action. As the boat may not, for this reason, have been able to radio, she is not yet regarded as missing.

Finally on October 13th BdU noted:

No radio message has yet been received from U-582. If the boat's transmitter had been completely out of action she would certainly have tried to reach another nearby boat. She must be presumed lost.

U-582 was removed from the list of operational boats on October 14th. On November 1st BdU summarized the losses for October, and noted for U-582:

Schulte W., experienced boat, last report 5 October (transmitter break-down) possibly by N. Atlantic convoy.

Kapitänleutnant Werner Schulte died along with his entire crew of 46 men (average age 23) when the U-582 was sunk in position 58°41'N, 22°58'W by Luke’s PBY. Schulte was posthumously promoted to Korvettenkapitän (Commander) with seniority from October 1st, 1942.

On four patrols with the U-582, Schulte sank 6 ships for 38,872 gross tons in his short career.

According to author Ragnar J. Ragnarsson who wrote ‘US Navy PBY Catalina Units of the Atlantic War’ Osprey Publishing, Limited November 2006, ISBN: 184176910X;

While there was every reason to believe that the attack delivered by CAP Luke resulted in the destruction of the U-boat, for some reason this was apparently overlooked when U-boat attacks were assessed after the war, and the credit for sinking U-582 was given to a Hudson of 269 squadron RAF, which it turned out sank another U-boat on this day in the same area (U-619). In his book, "Cats over the Atlantic: VPB-73 in World War II", Robert L. Carlisle gives credit for the sinking of U-582 to another VP-73 plane, 73-P-12 (#02974), flown by Ensign William R. Huey. This is not correct and the War Diary of U-257 confirms it was the boat attacked by Ensign Huey, from which it narrowly escaped with heavy damage. Manuel Luke didn’t receive the DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross] for this attack until in 1998 – 56 years after it took place!

Commander Manuel Luke, USN (Retired) passed away in 2004 at the age of 91.

Remarkably, the PBY survived the war and after changing hands several times over the years it was fully restored in 2004 in the Netherlands and was still flying as of 2009. See here, here, and here for more information.


One interesting result of this research was the discovery that for many years the wrong symbol has been associated with U-582. The majority of U-Boats, but not all, had some 'artwork' painted on the sides or front of the conning tower to personalize them. Similar to how American aircraft typically had 'nose art' during the war.

Georg Högel, a former U-boat sailor who saw service in World War II, wrote 'Embleme, Wappen, Malings deutscher U- Boote 1939 - 1945', ISBN 076430724X, which details the various emblems, coats of arms and markings that were used. His book is considered the "Bible" on the topic, and many dependable sites such as uboat.net have relied on his research.

The specific type of symbol he had associated with U-582 was called a 'Wappen', German for 'Coat of Arms'. Wappens were one of the more popular themes used and often were determined by the city or town that sponsored the building of a particular boat. In the case of U-582, Hogel had associated a wappen consisting of a shield with a large key on it and the number "807". I spent a fair amount of time looking into this and re-created the wappen in color for use on this page (see image to the right). I used Hogel's original black and white sketch and a photo I had seen on this Spanish language U-Boat site. I believe the shield with the key was from the German city of Bremen.

U-84 Wappen by Eric Stone

I then began to investigate the significance of this wappen. I couldn't find a link between Bremen and U-582, which was built in Hamburg, or to Werner Schulte, who was born in Kiel. I was also at a loss for the number "807". It didn't appear to have any connection with any numbers associated with U-582 (i.e.; yard number, etc...), or any significance as a date in history. I made a few inquiries which went nowhere, then I posted the question on the ubootwaffe.net forum.

It wasn't too long before Dr. Axel Niestlé, an authority on U-Boats, responded. He informed me that the symbol was actually associated with U-84, an entirely different kind of U-Boat and had pictures to prove it. Some additional pictures he also provided of U-582 also show that there were no markings on the side of U-582's conning tower either. Unfortunately, since all the known photos of U-582 show her with the flag from Stella Lykes draped across the front of the conning tower, there is no way to know whether U-582 may have had something painted on the front of the conning tower or not. For now it is not known if U-582 had any symbol at any point in her career. As you may recall, Bamforth stated he did not see any distinguishing markings when the U-582 approached and questioned the Honolulan's survivors. The only thing that is certain, is that the symbol previously associated with her is incorrect and belongs to U-84.


  • Ancestry.com for crew lists and biographical information on various people related to this story.

  • Åkerberg, Dani for his help with the U-582 Wappen correction through the ubootwaffe.net forum and his own site at www.u-historia.com.

  • Ball, Stephen for the use of the images from his copy of Hamburger Illustrierte.

  • The Bamforth Family, specifically Allan, Dick & his wife Pat for allowing me to use passages from their book: Iron Jaw: A Skipper Tells His Story – Captain Charles N. Bamforth (1895-1975) – ISBN 0-8059-5417. This copyrighted material is used with permission of the Bamforth family.

  • Bladon, John for photo of Sunderland N9024 and gun camera image of survivors in lifeboats.

  • Boone, Dave - (tugboatpainter.net) artist who provided the photo of Nevadan from his private collection from the 1930's originally taken by Francis Palmer.

  • Bowling Green State University, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, for image of George Hawley.

  • Carey, Richard for information on his father, Harold Carey, RAF.

  • City of Vancouver Archives. https://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/archives/ for photo of Pennsylvanian.

  • Cundall, Peter for photo of Axios, clue on Dairen, Japan, solving the mystery on GZSR/Orcades and assorted corrections.

  • Dickie, Captain Rodman L. for information about his time on the Pennsylvanian, and his recollections about Charles Bamforth and for recommending his book.

  • Evans, John for his book: 'The Sunderland Flying-Boat Queen, Volumes 1 &2 (Paterchurch Publications, ISBN: 1870745035, 9781870745031).

  • Fold3.com for military reports relating to this story.

  • Forum.12oclockhigh.net for information on actions between No. 128 squadron and Vichy French aircraft.

  • Freetranslation.com for help with initial German to English KTB & Torpedo Report translations.

  • GenealogyBank.com for information on "Red" Sutton.

  • Gerhardt, Frank A. at US Maritime Commission website for link to photo page of Stella Lykes as well as photos of Louis McLane and Steel Architect.

  • Hackett, Bob and Kingsepp Sander for their website: ‘SENSUIKAN! - Stories and Battle Histories of the IJN's Submarines’ for information on I-401.

  • Imperial War Museum for various photos and information relating to this story.

  • James, Jennifer for her photo of Harold and Gordon Small.

  • Kolbicz, Rainer for his help with U-582 history and capture order from High Command through the uboat.net forum.

  • Lake, Jon for his book: ‘Sunderland Squadrons of World War 2’ (Osprey Publishing, 2000, ISBN-13: 9781841760247) for information on No. 204 Squadron.

  • Lawson, Siri at warsailors.com for information on the Oregon Express, Robert H. Colley, Tankexpress and convoy HX-209.

  • Library of Contemporary History in Stuttgart, Germany for U-582/Honolulan Torpedo Reports.

  • The Mariner's Museum at Newport News, Virginia for photo of first Honolulan, Golden Hind, American Seaman, and William A. Jones.

  • Mason, Jerry and Charla for U-582 KTB excerpts, BdU KTB's, technical/glossary information from their uboatarchive.net site, assistance with translations and PBY report.

  • McNeil, Ross for various details relating to Sunderland's of RAF No. 204 Squadron and personnel.

  • Moore, Capt. Arthur R. for "A careless word...A NEEDLESS SINKING". Eighth Printing - 2006. Published and distributed by the Dennis A. Roland Chapter of the American Merchant Marine Veterans, Midland Park, NJ. Printed by Reed Hann, Williamsport, PA. for sinking details on the Honolulan.

  • National Archives for numerous pieces of documentation relating to this story.

  • National Archive of the U.K. for No. 204 Squadron Operational Record Books.

  • Naval Grid Calculator for excellent on-line tool to convert German Kriegsmarine Grids into Longitude/Latitude coordinates.

  • NavSource Naval History for images and data on US Navy ships via: http://www.navsource.org/.

  • Neilson, Larz F. for providing article and photo’s relating to his father, Captain Larz D. Neilson's time aboard the Honolulan.

  • Niestlé, Axel (Dr. ) for information on U-582's wappen, or lack thereof, and for pictures of U-582.

  • Ragnarsson, Ragnar J. for information on CAP Manuel Luke.

  • Ribbans, Bryan for his 'The Flying Boat Forum' at www.seawings.co.uk, which was of great help in identifying the RAF Sunderlands that assisted the Honolulan survivors - specifically forum member Richard (aka "sunderlandnut").

  • Roberts, Captain Stephen S. USNR (Retired) on his site shipscribe.com for information on Honolulan origin from the article by Norman L. McKellar - Steel Shipbuilding under the U. S. Shipping Board, 1917-1921, in ‘The Belgian Shiplover, No. 87 May/June 1962.

  • Rohwer, Jurgen for information on Japanese activity in Indian Ocean from his book Axis Submarine Successes 1939-1945, Naval Institute Press - Annapolis, Maryland ISBN 0-87021-082-3.

  • Small, Captain Harold for his recollections of Honolulan and American-Hawaiian and his long career at sea.

  • U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center, 100 Forbes Drive, Martinsburg, WV 25404 for Merchant Marine career information on Charles Bamforth.

  • U.S. Merchant Marine Organization (usmm.org) for information on Honolulan medal recipients and Milag Nord.

  • Uboat.net for information on Schulte, U-582, their victims, and for information on other U-boats related to this story.

  • Ubootwaffe.net site and forum for information on U-582 and her crew. Unfortunately, in January 2013, the site's creator and editor, Howard Cock, decided to indefinitely suspend the ubootwaffe.net website for personal reasons, so I have disabled the hyperlink.

  • Wikipedia free on-line encyclopedia for summaries on miscellaneous topics related to this story.