In Honored Glory!
World War II Honor Roll

George Wesley Demarest

Seaman First Class, U.S. Navy


SS J.H. Senior

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: August 18, 1943
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at East Coast Memorial
New York City, USA

SEAMAN FIRST CLASS GEORGE W. DEMAREST, of Second Avenue near W. Park Avenue, Lindenwold NJ was killed while serving with the United States Navy in August of 1943. On his last voyage, he was assigned to a gun crew serving as the naval Armed Guard aboard the tanker J.H. Senior, operated under the Panamanian Flag by the Panama Transport Company, which was controlled by the Standard Oil Company, better known then as ESSO, and known today as EXXON.

His ship, the Panamanian flag tanker, J. H. Senior, On a voyage from New York to Mersey in convoy HX 252, in thick fog, was involved in a collision with the Liberty Ship SS J. Pinckney Henderson while in convoy in the North Atlantic on August 19, 1943. The J.H. Senior, was one of five sister tankers which had been built by the Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG, Nordseewewrke, at Emden, Germany. The J.H. Senior first went to sea in 1931. On her final trip, she was carrying aviation fuel to England, and a deck cargo of airplanes. 

Between the collision with the SS J. Pinckney Henderson and ensuing fire, both ships were lost. The J.H. Senior lost 40 of her crew, and 27 of her naval Armed Guard. Only six of the crew and Armed Guard aboard the Senior survived. The SS J. Pinckney Henderson fared little better, losing at least 34 of her crew and 25 of her Armed Guard

A Canadian River-class frigate in escort, HMCS Hallowell, under the command of Lieutenant Alfred William Bett, Royal Canadian Naval Reserve, of Toronto, Canada, pulled along side the burning J.H. Senior, and, with a volunteer crew,  managed to extinguish the blaze, and save the ship. For this act Lieutenant Bett was awarded the George Medal.

"This Officer led a volunteer boarding party to S.S. J.H. Senior, an American tanker with a full cargo of gasoline, which was stopped and heavily afire after collision in fog on 18 August 1943, in order to save this very valuable ship and her cargo, this Officer and his party fought the fires for over two hours with hand extinguishers, although they knew the ship was in danger of blowing up at any moment. During this time, he showed complete disregard for his own safety, and his leadership was an inspiration and example of bravery and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the service."

 After salvage the J.H. Senior was laid up in New York at November 14, 1943. 

George W. Demarest was reported missing in action in the Camden Courier-Post on September 20, 1943 edition. He was survived by his parents, William and Alverna E. Demarest, a sister, also named Alverna, and six brothers, John, Edward, William Jr., Howard, Alvin, and Craig. John was serving in the Army, and Edward in the Navy, during WWII. 

Motor tanker "J. H. Senior"

Hole in the side of the tanker J. H. Senior after collision, and Deck view of havoc wrought by fire which swept the J. H. Senior. Also deck cargo of planes was destroyed.