S.S. William Moultrie – June 8, 1942
– December 29, 1943
I boarded the S. S. William Moultrie in Wilmington,
North Carolina. The Moultrie was a brand new
Liberty Ship made at a Wilmington shipyard.
This was my first voyage and one I will never forget. I was headed to Murmansk,
Russia with ammo and supplies for the Russian
government. The weather and the eight day battle we went through were unimaginable. It was a battle that will forever be noted in history, a battle that I
received a medal for running the German blockage to Murmansk, Russia. I also received a“Letter of Commendation” from the U.S. Chief of Naval
Personnel, a “Letter of Congratulations” from the British Admiralty and Prime Minister, and a “Letter of
Recognition” and a medal from Vladimir P. Lukin on behalf of President Boris Yeltsin and the entire Russian nation. Also, our ship the S. S. William Moultrie, received the “Gallant Ship Award”
and the entire crew received the “Gallant Ship Citation”. The S.
S. William Moultrie was only 1 of 9 ships during WWII to receive this Gallant Ship Award.
Gibbins – February 24, 1943 – September 28, 1943
I boarded the Henry Gibbins in
I sailed 3 different voyages on this ship. The first time on the Henry
Gibbins we sailed to Oran, Algeria in
North Africa, second to Port Moresby, New Guinea,
and third again to Oran, Algeria in North
Africa. Our loads consisted of mostly personnel –Army troops,
nurses, prisoners, supplies, etc. Once we were loading prisoners on board while
docked in Oran, North Africa. The prisoners were lined up in a straight line when an air raid sounded and bombing began. The prisoners scattered trying to find some protection. After
the bombing stopped and the all clear was sounded, the prisoners voluntarily returned to the line to board the ship. They actually were excited to go to the United States.
S.S. Frederick Bartholdi – November 16, 1943 – December
I boarded the S. S. Bartholdi in Brunswick,
Georgia not knowing at the time that I was headed to Murmansk,
Russian again with ammo and supplies. The Bartholdi was another Liberty Ship
made at a shipyard in Brunswick, Georgia.
I left New York for Scotland on December 9, 1943.
It was on Christmas Day, in the Irish Sea, that the S. S. Bartholdi was sunk. I'm not sure whether we were torpedoed or ran aground. I was below when it happened. I asked some
other sailors, but no one seemed to know. Men began to abandon ship, leaping into the water. The Armed Guard crew still had to man their stations to protect the men from attack. I was one of the last men off, but before I jumped, I ran into the kitchen of the ship and stuffed a cooked
turkey into my pillow case. As I was being pulled out of the sea by a British
trawler, a British fellow asked me what I had stuffed in the pillow case. I replied,
“A cooked turkey”. “We were about to have Christmas dinner”. The British sailor commented, “You Americans may have been sunk, but you still
eat better than we do.” The survivors were put ashore in Lock Ewe, Scotland
and then sent by bus to Glasgow, Scotland,
finally arriving in Londonderry, North Ireland at a survivor’s camp. When I arrived the doctors
wanted to amputate my fingers due to frost bite, but I wouldn’t let them. I
stayed in Londonderry from December 29, 1943 to May 4, 1944 when I then left for Swansea, Wales. Even though I experienced the fear of my ship being sunk, I had a inner peace just
knowing that I wasn’t headed to Murmansk, Russia
SS Markay – May 5, 1944 – May 27,
I boarded the Markay, which was an oil tanker at this time, in Swansea,
Wales. It was
headed back to the states. If I had known that the old oil tanker didn’t
have a bottom, I might have waited for another ride home. I looked through the
large hole in the deck and could see the ocean below. I slept on the deck with
a life jacket on the entire trip. I feared that we could sink any minute.
SS Robert Morris - October 4, 1944
- March 7, 1945
I boarded the SS Robert Morris in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The ship sailed to the Panama Canal, several ports in New Guinea, the Philippine Islands, and then on to Manus Island
in the Admiralty Islands before heading back to San Francisco, California. While
I was at the Panama Canal, I saw my brother, Milfred Lowe. His
ship, the Yorktown, was passing through the Panama Canal at the same time as
the Robert Morris.