World War II Merchant Marine Memorial

It must be a good is a if two people have it at the same time, and this is the case in relation to this page and the American Merchant Marine Memorial monument in Camden, New Jersey which was dedicated on June 11, 2005. I first put this page on the Internet in late 2002, while Charles Mardigian got the ball rolling on having a physical monument placed on the Camden Waterfront around the same time. Neither of us were aware of the others efforts, and we first met by phone, through Joe Balzano of the South Jersey Port Corporation, in July of 2005. Needless to say, a page will be built on this website about the new monument, which is adjacent to the battleship USS New Jersey, in Camden's Wiggins Park. Click the link below for this page.

Phil Cohen
September 17, 2005

  American Merchant Marine Memorial in Camden, N.J.

Camden NJ Seamen Lost Due To Enemy Action

         Click on each sailor's name to find out more about him, his ship, and what happened thereafter.

Nicholas Hetz William Henry Merryfield Harry Jackson Mote
Neil Jensen George Joseph Gleason Harvey Gardner Jr.
Harry Holmes Bradway Norman David Louderback Clifton C. Stevenson
Thomas Byrnes Jr. Abraham Price Carlton Harris Strang Jr.

Seamen from other Camden County Towns
who died while serving in the Merchant Marine during World War II

         Click on each sailor's name to find out more about him, his ship, and what happened thereafter.

Edward Benfold Roy F. Brucks Thomas Byrnes Jr.
Richard A. Cooper Hunter Crist Glenn Robert Curtis
Raymond Farr Frank W. Fitzgerald Jr Richard O. Kelleher
Frank Mooney Francis J. Schwarz Charles A. Wilson
    Alfred Paul Woltjen

Camden NJ Seamen Lost

         Click on each sailor's name to find out more about him, his ship, and what happened thereafter.

Adam William Meade had served with the Camden Fire Department for at least 18 years before going to sea in his mid-40s to serve his country in time of war. He died overseas on July 7, 1945 and was buried at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno Italy.

     The city of Camden, NJ lost 12 of its sons to the sea during World War II, 10 to enemy action. Twelve others from Camden County died while serving as well. On two occasions, two of those men went down together while serving aboard the same ship. Merchant mariners were on the front lines the moment their ships left U.S. ports, and were subject to attack by bombers, kamikaze, battleships, submarines, mines, and land-based artillery, and 663 men and women Mariners became Prisoners of War. Approximately 8,000 U.S. Merchant Seamen were lost, in addition to countless foreign nationals serving aboard shipping serving the Allied cause

Who Were the Mariners?

        "In 1940 the Merchant Marine numbered about 55,000.

      A massive recruiting effort brought in retired seafarers who were able to ship out immediately on the newly launched Liberty ships. Among them were 76 year-old James A. Logan who served as cook on the SS Joshua Hendy. Thomas Cavely, former master on the Brooklyn to Staten Island ferry, served as captain of a Liberty ship.

       Young mariners trained at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, various state Maritime Academies, or the U.S. Maritime Service Training Stations. William Travers, 22, was captain of the SS James Ford Rhodes, while his 21 year old brother was first mate. The U.S. Maritime Service officially took youngsters who were 16 years-old. They took them with one eye, one leg, or heart problems. Many men who were too young or too old for the other services or who were physically unfit for the other services joined the Maritime Service and went in the Merchant Marine.

       During World War II, some gossip columnists claimed that merchant mariners were getting rich on outrageous salaries. In a 1943 letter to the American Legion, Admiral Telfair Knight of the War Shipping Administration compared salaries for equivalent positions in Navy and Merchant Marine, and found salaries to be equivalent or even higher for Navy personnel. In addition, the Navy offered outstanding benefits, including paid leave, disability and death benefits, free medical care for personnel and dependents, free uniforms, and a generous retirement pension.

       Mariners signed on for each voyage which lasted until they returned to a U.S. port, which could be one year or more.

They had no paid leave, no vacation and no pension."

         Merchant Mariners during WWII and took casualties at a rate exceeded only by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Mariners' Struggle for Veteran Status

       During World War II President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised mariners of the U.S. Merchant Marine, and Army Transport Service veteran status and a Seaman's Bill of Rights. His promises died with him.
      "But once the war was won, what the bureaucrats [and politicians] in Washington did to the merchant mariners was reprehensible. They treated them like second-class citizens, and worse." [American History Nov./Dec. 1993]
       Mariners came home from Normandy, Anzio, Guadalcanal, or POW camps to face three main misconceptions about their service: high pay, draft dodging, and refusal to unload ships. Burned and wounded mariners paid for their own plastic surgery and, for those declared dead, had to return the insurance or the $1 per day received by their families. Mariners finally got limited veteran status in 1988 after a long court battle

The bureaucrats and politicians are still at it in 2003!

Nicholas Hetz 
was serving as an Engine Utilityman on the tanker SS India Arrow out of New York NY when his ship was torpedoed and shelled 2/4/42, 20 miles southeast of Cape May, NJ by the German Submarine U-103 under Korvettenkapitän Werner Winter. The SS India Arrow carried a crew of 38, only 12 survived.

Nicholas Hetz resided at 690 Ferry Ave., Camden. He had joined the crew of the India Arrow only a week prior to its sinking. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT NICHOLAS HETZ.

More about the sinking of the
 SS India Arrow

More about the SS India Arrow

India Arrow survivor Charles Seerveld writes about the sinking and his Merchant Marine service

Neil Jensen was employed as a Fireman/Watertender on the tanker SS W. D. Anderson under the command of Captain Albert B. Walters of Upper Darby PA, sailing from Texas to Philadelphia PA when the ship was torpedoed and sunk on February, 22, 1942, 12 miles northeast of Jupiter Inlet, FL by the German Submarine U-504 commanded by Korvettenkapitän Hans-Georg Friedrich Poske. The SS W.D. Anderson carried a crew of 35. Only 1 man survived, Frank L. Terry, a former lifeguard, by swimming to the shore.

More About Neil Jensen More about the sinking of the SS W.D. Anderson

Harry Holmes Bradway who signed on as a Fireman/Watertender aboard the Esso tanker SS M. F. Elliott out of Wilmington DE, perished when the ship was torpedoed and sunk, 150 miles northwest of Trinidad on June 3rd, 1942. The M.F. Elliot had been built in 1921 by the Moore & Scott Iron Works, of Oakland, California. The ship was torpedoed by the German submarine U-502, captained by Oberleutnant zur See Jürgen von Rosenstiel. On June 4, The destroyer USS Tarbell DD-142  sighted 10 survivors of the sinking of SS M. F. Elliott and brought them aboard,
   The U-502 was sunk in turn on July 5, 1942 in the Bay of Biscay west of La Rochelle, in position 46.10N, 06.40W, by depth charges from a British Wellington aircraft from Royal Air Force Squadron 172/H with all 52 all hands lost.


       Harry H. Bradway was survived by his sister, Mrs. Mary Guenther who in 1944 resided at 709 Lawrence Street, Camden.

William Henry Merryfield was an Oiler on the freighter SS Pan Atlantic. This ship was on its way to Russia on the Murmansk run, when it was bombed and sunk by dive-bombers of the German Luftwaffe on July 6, 1942, 180 miles north of Cape Canin. Merryfield's crewmates who survived this attack were picked up by the SS Bellingham which was subsequently torpedoed herself, all hands fortunately survived. The Pan Atlantic carried a crew of 18, and an armed guard of 7. 

William Henry Merryfield was born  in Pennsylvania. By 1930 his father had passed on, and his mother had re-married, to a metal-stamper, William J. Smith, who owned a home at 221 Milton Street, in the Poet's Row section of North Camden. At the time of the 1930 census, William Henry was 21, and living with his mother, step-father, brother John E. Merryfield, and step-sisters Margaret, Emma, and Ida at the Camden NJ address. He was working as a repairman in a typewriter shop. He was surived by his wife, mothr, and siblings.

George Joseph Gleason and 
Norman David Louderback, Jr. shipped out together as Wipers on the freighter SS East Indian from Camden NJ. The East Indian, under Captain St. Marie carried a crew of 33, an armed guard of 14, and 10 passengers. 
       On November 3, 1942, she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-181, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Lüth, 275 miles southwest of Cape Town, South Africa. For an account of the sinking and the 13 day ordeal of the survivors before there rescue, click here
     The U-181 was destined for a strange end. While undergoing repairs at Singapore when Germany surrendered, U-181 was taken over by the Japanese Navy and became submarine I-501. She was surrendered to the British at Singapore August 15, 1945 and scuttled there February 16, 1946.

  George Gleason was 24 when his ship went down. A June 1935 graduate of Camden High School, he had resided at 529 North 7th Street, with his parents Mr. & Mrs. James Gleason. 
     Norman Louderback, Jr. was 26. He was survived by his parents who lived at 1208 Mt. Ephraim Avenue, and his wife Frances G. Louderback, also of Camden. He also had ties to Waterford Township NJ.


2 Camden Youths Among Casualties Announced by Merchant Marine

 Two Camden men and three from South Jersey are among 21 in the state reported missing and believed lost between November 22 and December 21, it was announced yesterday by the Merchant Marine.
             The Camden men were George J. Gleason, Jr. 24, of 529 North 7th Street. He was a seaman aboard a ship that was torpedoed November 3 by a U-boat. News their son is missing was received by Mr. and Mrs. Gleason at their home; and Norman David Louderback, Jr., 26, a wiper, of 1208 Mt. Ephraim Avenue, son of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Louderback and husband of Frances Guaglano. He enlisted in January 1942 and was married soon afterward to his fiancée whom he met while working at the RCA-Victor Division of the Radio Corporation of America.
            Gleason, a graduate of Camden High School and the Pierce School of Business Administration, sailed last may. Louderback and Gleason served on the same ship.
            Gleason’s family received their last word from him in September from Calcutta. He wrote them then that he was convoying supplies to Russia.
             Shipmates of Gleason who survived the sinking said the vessel went down in two minutes after the torpedo found its mark. Twenty-four members of the crew, who reached the lifeboats, started to row for Cape Town, 400 miles away, but were picked up by a British merchantman in the Indian Ocean. They were landed at Cape Town.
            The lifeboat survivors told their rescuers that 34 other members of the crew escaped on three life rafts, which they lashed together. A search was made for the 34, but they were not found.
             After sinking the American ship, members of the submarine crew took moving pictures of the foundering vessel. Then the undersea craft submerged, the survivors said.
             Gleason formerly was employed by the sheet metal firm of William Strandwitz, whose son, Marine Corps Lt. John T. Strandwitz, was recently reported killed in action.

Harry Jackson Mote Jr.
         2nd Engineer of the SS Meriwether Lewis, a Liberty Ship, was lost on March 2, 1943 in the North Atlantic at 62-10 N x 28-25 W when the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German Submarine U-634 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Eberhard Dahlhaus. The Lewis was part of a convoy headed for the United Kingdom. Her cargo was ammunition and tires. The Lewis was falling behind the convoy when she was torpedoed. The Coast Guard searched the area for two days, but the only trace of the SS Meriwether Lewis was 30 mile long line of tires. The SS Meriweather Lewis carried a crew of 44 with an armed guard of 28 men and was lost with all hands. Also serving on the SS Meriwether Lewis was Glenn Robert Curtis, of Delaware Township (Cherry Hill) NJ. 
     The SS Meriwether Lewis was the only ship sunk by U-634. The U-634 herself was sunk with all 47 hands lost on August 30, 1943
in the North Atlantic east of the Azores, in position 40.13N, 19.24W, by depth charges from the British sloop HMS Stork and the corvette HMS Stonecrop.

         Harry J. Mote Jr. was born in Camden in 1911. He was the son of Harry J and Mary A. Mote of 1102 Lois Avenue in the Cramer Hill section of Camden NJ. His father was a machinist at the Cramp Shipyard in Camden. His father was also a well known baseball player in the Camden area, playing for the 11th Ward Republican Baseball Club, and later for the Westville team. The second of three children, he came between brother Augustus and sister Clara. By 1930 he had left school, and was working in a factory. Eventually he went to sea, and had achieved the rating of 2nd Engineer. By 1940 he had married, and had lived with his wife Lillian at 383 South 27th Street when he was lost at sea. He was 32 at the time of his death. His father passed away shortly thereafter, on August 13, 1943.

GLENN ROBERT CURTIS was born in Pennsylvania in 1924 to James and Nellie Curtis. The family moved top Oaklyn NJ, where by April of 1930, they were renting a home at 7 Valley Road. The elder Curtis was an electrician. Besides Glenn, there was an older sister, Dorothy, and a brother, Robert Curtis. The family later moved to the Woodcrest section of Delaware Township (Cherry Hill) NJ. Glenn Curtis shipped out as a messman in the Merchant Marine. He was aboard the Liberty Ship SS Meriwether Lewis when it was torpedoed in the North Atlantic.

Harvey Gardner Jr., a Wiper on the tanker SS Sunoil died on April 5, 1943 in the North Atlantic, when his ship was torpedoed and sunk while en route from Halifax, Nova Scotia to the Clyde Estuary in Scotland. Carrying a crew of 43; and an armed guard of 16, she was lost with no survivors. The SS Sunoil was sunk by the German submarine U-563, under Oberleutnant. Gustav Borchard. 
     The U-563 in turn was sunk with all 49 hands on May 31, 1943 in the Bay of Biscay southwest of Brest, in position 46.35N, 10.40W, by depth charges from 2 British and 1 Australian Handley Page Halifax and Sunderland aircraft from RAF Squadrons 58/R and 228/X, and RAAF Squadron 10/E).
     Harvey Gardner was born in Smyrna DE in 1923, to Harvey & Grace Gardner. By 1930 his mother had remarried, to Norman Jones, a postman, and they lived at 1297 Sayers Street in Camden NJ. He was a 1941 graduate of Camden High School, living at 1434 Princess Avenue in Camden NJ at graduation. Going to sea was his goal even while in school. He made his first voyage, on a tanker, after his graduation. He then found work on the railroad, before returning to sea in the fall of 1942. 
     Harvey Gardner was survived by his mother, Grace M. Jones, and an older brother, George Gardner, then serving in the United States Navy. His death was reported in the April 28 edition of the Camden Courier-Post.

THOMAS BYRNES JR Ordinary Seaman, and
Clifton C. Stevenson Able Bodied Seaman sailed as an  aboard the Liberty Ship SS John Morgan, sailing from Philadelphia PA, en route to Bandar Shahpour, Iran loaded with P-39 airplanes, tanks, arms, and ammunition of all kinds. She was on her maiden voyage when on June 1, 1943 while approaching Newport News VA, the SS John Morgan collided with an outbound ship, the SS Montana, off Cape Henry VA. The John Morgan split in two, exploded, and her stern sank almost immediately, taking 42 crew members and 25 of its armed guard to their death.      

   To the right, the SS John Morgan under construction at the Bethlehem Fairfield Shipyard. 
   For years the John Morgan has been a popular site for scuba divers. There is a monument placed on this wreck to the men and women who lost their lives in WWII.

       Clifton C. Stevenson left a wife and daughter, Kathryn.

Abraham Price sailed as an Ordinary Seaman aboard the Liberty Ship SS John A. Poor, out of Portland ME. This ship was damaged by a mine or torpedo on July 28, 1943. At that time there was no loss of life. 
     On March 19, 1944 the SS. John A. Poor was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-510 captained by Oberleutnant zur See
Alfred Eick
at 13-58 N x 70-30 W in the are of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. The John A. Poor lost 25 of its crew of 25, and 9 of the armed guard.

Abraham Price was survived by his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Max Price who then resided at 1255 Kaighn Avenue, and a brother Private First Class Samuel Price, who was with the Army Air Force in England. He had joined the Merchant Marine in November of 1942, and had been home on furlough in November of 1943. He was 22 when the John A. Poor went down.


     As of this date, January 7, 2003 I have not erected a guest-book. Please e-mail all comments to If you would like your comment published in the upcoming guest-book, please let me know.-
                                                                                                                  Phil Cohen, Camden NJ





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