The WW2 Mariner From Kinkora Whose Ship Was Torpedoed In The Caribbean

February 20, 2020. On the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion there are 3 men who lost their lives due to being on ships that were torpedoed.  Two of these stories have already been told….

In WW1, mariner James Graham FARROW (FARRAR) lost his life when the ship he was working on was torpedoed in the English Channel on March 19, 1916.  The steamer, ‘Port Dalhousie, had been ferrying needed supplies from Britain to troops in France, while using the cover of being a fishing vessel.  (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2019/01/20/the-mariner-whose-ship-was-torpedoed-in-the-english-channel/)

In WW2, Everett Samuel FRANCIS had the misfortune of being a passenger on the ferry S.S. Caribou when it was torpedoed off the coast of Newfoundland on Wednesday, October 14, 1942.  He was on his way back to his unit in Gander, and to meet his three week old daughter Greta, after being in Ontario for weapons training. Unfortunately, he was not one of the survivors. (See https://bordencarletonresearchproject.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/the-face-of-everett-samuel-francis/)

color photo Hughes, James Emmet

James Emmet Hughes. (Photo credit: courtesy “Around Kinkora Area” by G.K. Farmer.  Photo colourization by Pieter Valkenburg.)

Like James Graham FARROW (FARRAR), James Emmet HUGHES was a seaman in the Canadian Merchant Navy, not in the military.  Born in Kinkora on April 7, 1911, he was the son of Emmet Hughes and Mary Ann McKenna.

After joining the Waterman Steamship Agency of Mobile, Alabama, he was a trimmer aboard the Panamanian registered S.S. Ramapo, travelling between North America and England with badly needed supplies.  A trimmer works in the engine room on a coal-fired ship, such as the steamship Ramapo, responsible for loading of coal into the ship and delivering coal to the stoker or fireman. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_trimmer)

SS Ramapo under her former name Baron Wemyss.Courtesu of naviearmatori.net

S.S. Ramapo under her original name of Baron Wemyss. (Photo courtesy of http://www.naviearmatori.net)

Hughes made two successful runs to England but then on a routing of London-Bermuda-Philadelphia, it was torpedoed by German U-Boat 108, captained by Klaus SCHOLTZ, 180 miles north of Bermuda. While Canadian Merchant Navy records list the event as having occurred on ‘approximately February 12, 1942’, the date it had arrived in Bermuda, German records of ships torpedoed by U-boats record the date as being February 16, 1942.

According to German records, as transcribed into English on https://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ship/1338.html, the ship had an international crew complement of 40, none of whom survived. “At 15.56 hours on 16 February 1942 the unescorted Ramapo (Master Johan Magnus Ørn Lorentzen) was hit on port side amidships by one G7e torpedo from U-108, broke in two after a boiler explosion and sank 11 minutes later about 180 miles north of Bermuda. The U-boat surfaced and questioned 34 men in lifeboats, but the survivors were never found. The master, 37 crew members and two gunners were lost.

Screenshot_2020-02-18 Ramapo (Panamanian Steam merchant) - Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII - uboat net

Map showing location of sinking of Ramapo.  (Map courtesy of http://www.uboat.net)

As you can imagine, in that time period, it was a long time before families learned that something had gone wrong.  On March 31, 1942, six weeks after the incident, The Guardian reported that the Hughes family had received a message from the steamship company, advising that it believed the ship had been sunk and all hands lost.

J.E. Hughes Guardian 31 march 1942 page 1

Source: Page 1 article in the March 31, 1942 edition of The Guardian.

Aboard the S.S. Ramapo on February 16, 1942 were the following crew members, per www.uboat.net:

Nationality Name Age Position
Greek Artavanis, Marios, Merchant Marine 29 Oiler
British Bailey, Mills Sandilands, Merchant Marine 44 Third Engineer
British Birch, John, Merchant Marine 50 Trimmer
Canadian Boyd, Fred, Merchant Marine 35 Messman
Canadian Boyer, Clarence, Merchant Marine 41 Fireman/Wiper
Canadian Brackenbury, Walter, Merchant Marine 22 Fireman/Wiper
Canadian Courville, Roland, Merchant Marine 18 Trimmer
Chilean Delano, Miguel, Merchant Marine 31 Second Mate
British Finch, Thomas, Merchant Marine 20 Messman
Dutch Glimmerveen, Albertus, Merchant Marine 38 Chief Cook
Canadian Green, William, Merchant Marine 29 Oiler
Norwegian Gustavsen, Karl Gustav, Merchant Marine 50 Chief Steward
Swedish Haggberg, Eric, Merchant Marine 22 Able Seaman
Norwegian Hansen, Bernhard, Merchant Marine 23 Fireman/Wiper
British Harris, William John, RN 24 Able Seaman (DEMS gunner)
Norwegian Helmers, Thorleif Gärtner, Merchant Marine 43 Chief Mate
British Hendry, Frederick William, Merchant Marine 52 First Engineer
Argentinian Hernandes, P., Merchant Marine 26 Fireman/Wiper
Canadian Hughes, James Emmet, Merchant Marine 31 Trimmer
Norwegian Kjennerud, Jul, Merchant Marine 24 Able Seaman
Canadian Knickle, Fred, Merchant Marine 39 Able Seaman
Norwegian Kristensen, Toralf, Merchant Marine 21 Able Seaman
Canadian Lalonde, Germain, Merchant Marine 20 Able Seaman
French Lawrence, Felix, Merchant Marine 30 Messman
British Leary, Vincent, Merchant Marine 35 Second Engineer
Norwegian Lie, Hans Kristian Jensen, Merchant Marine 20 Able Seamn
Canadian Lord, Ian McLean, Merchant Marine 18 Radio Operator
Norwegian Lorentzen, Johan Magnus Ørn, Merchant Marine 35 Master
Canadian Manoff, Paul, Merchant Marine 23 Ordinary Seaman
American McAdoo, John Cornelius, Merchant Marine 37 Messman
Canadian McDonald, Charlie, Merchant Marine 25 Fireman/Wiper
British Nicholson, William, Merchant Marine 36 Boatswain (Bosun)
Norwegian Olsen, Andreas, Merchant Marine 50 Chief Engineer
Irish Reynolds, William, Merchant Marine 28 Fireman/Wiper
British Sinclair, Leslie, Merchant Marine 20 Ordinary Seaman
Norwegian Vesterhus, Nils Andreas, Merchant Marine 38 Third Mate
American Vitalis, Vasilios, Merchant Marine 29 Cook
Canadian Waddell, Wesley, Merchant Marine 23 Oiler
Canadian Wilson, Edgar John, Merchant Marine 23 Ordinary Seaman
British Winder, Harry, Royal Navy 22 Able Seaman (DEMS gunner)

James Emmet Hughes is listed on the Halifax Memorial in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia, along with other Canadian mariners whose bodies were never recovered.

Halifax Memorial

Halifax Memorial in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)

Research continues on this and other stories.  If you have information or photos to share about James Emmet Hughes, the sinking of the Ramapo, or any of the crew members, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Reactions To Our “He Died That We Might Live” Documentary

February 14, 2020. The feedback from our short documentary “He Died That We Might Live … the story of Halifax L9561”, about the last flight of Halifax L9561, shot down over The Netherlands on October 12, 1941, and the events of October 12, 2019, when a memorial panel to honour the crew on their last flight together was unveiled in Wons, has been heartening.  (See He Died That We Might Live” Documentary Is Now On YouTube)

It’s clear that the story of one event during WW2 resonated with many people, and so this blog posting features a sampling of the comments.

Don Coutts, nephew of Elmer Muttart: “After receiving the Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project e-mail, I went on YOU TUBE and saw the Video…It was excellent.

Colonel Timothy Young, Canadian Defence Attaché to The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, who placed the wreath at the memorial panel in Wons on behalf of the Government of Canada: “I just watched the video; what an amazing tribute!  Michelle and I have commented on a number of occasions on what a special day and privilege it was to be a part of the commemoration. During our travels here in The Netherlands, Belgium and the European Arctic, Michelle and I have had the privilege to attend many commemorative events.  The land battles are, for the most part, commemorated in large Commonwealth War Cemeteries, physically located close to where they took place.  These battles and cemeteries overshadow the air campaign, particularly the bombing campaign where aircrew were buried in local cemeteries close by to where they were shot down.  The story of Halifax L9561 respectfully brings forward the tragedy of one such sortie and the over 2,000 aircrew buried in the 199 cemeteries in The Netherlands.  I will forward your tribute to Lieutenant-General Meinzinger’s Staff at the Headquarters of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), as flight L9561 is one chapter of a larger story for the RCAF.  Pieter and Daria, thanks again for all of your efforts to honour Flight Sergeant Elmer Muttart and to have his story told.  Elmer is very much more than a name on a headstone in a small cemetery in Northern Netherlands, and thanks to your efforts and those of the local community his legacy lives on.

Alexander Tuinhout, Secretary Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation: “Een prachtige registratie van de dag en van de laatste vlucht van Halifax L9561!”  (Translation: A beautiful account of the day and of the last flight of Halifax L9561!)

Sergio and Lina Canonico, who had given a donation towards the memorial panel:It was very emotional.  I had to reach for the Kleenex.  May they all rest in peace and be assured they will never be forgotten.

Sandra Wallis, who had given a donation towards the memorial panel:  “I loved the video. It was very well done. It brought tears to my eyes.

Connie MacKinnon, who had given a donation towards the memorial panel: “Just wanted to let you know that I watched the video in its entirety, very well done, very touching.

Retired US Marine and air traffic controller John Gibbs: “Just had time to view your production, absolutely fantastic, you two need to be extremely proud of your efforts.   It is without a doubt that the Canadian Military Government should be provided a copy to be included in their historical library. Walk proud both of you, you deserve it.

Dutch-born Canadian Lize Simon: “I loved the video. I feel so sorry that this fine and noble airman had to die in order for others to live in freedom.  He had so much more to offer with his accomplished university degrees.

Blog reader Karen MacKay: “I just watched the beautiful and well produced video of your trip to The Netherlands.  What an amazing keepsake and treasure for years to come. Thank you for your tenacity and leadership in seeing this entire project through to the end.  To see Elmer and his crew honoured and remembered now for generations to come due to your efforts brings tears to our eyes.

Fred Jackson, Middleton Saint George Memorial Association: “Enjoyed it immensely. I’ll pass it on to our Association members.

Isabel Smith, Editor of the County Line Courier newspaper that publishes the “On The War Memorial Trail….” articles about the research uncovered for our Borden-Carleton Cenotaph Research Project:  “What a wonderfully done video! Very moving. The background historical information, personal info and photos really brought a face to these men and their service to Canada- Well Done. You can be proud of all your research and tremendous amount of hard work that you both put into this project. It goes to say…We Shall Remember Them.

Thank you to all who took the time to send in comments on this short documentary.  If you haven’t yet seen it, click on the link below:

Research continues to uncover more stories.  If you have a story or photo to share about any of the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

The WW1 Names On The Cenotaph Have Stories Of Their Own

February 8, 2020. Recently, Pieter and a friend went to see the British WW1 movie ‘1917’, which is nominated for several Oscars and has a Canadian connection due to a map used in the film.  (For that story see https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/1917-canadian-contribution-1.5450608)  The story takes place in France on April 6, 1917, and is about two men tasked with delivering a message to another unit to warn of a German ambush.  The men go through several towns and villages in France’s Western Front.  Canadians may remember this period as being the lead up to the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917.

Pieter found the movie of great interest for several reasons. It was a depiction of the horrors of war… without being overly gory.  After being through the trenches and tunnels in Vimy Ridge a few years ago, he was intrigued to see the way soldiers sat on either side of a trench while waiting to go up into battle.   But the main reason he liked the movie is that it told the story of two people.

Contrary to what we learn in history books and classes, in the end all history is the cumulative stories of individuals.  A list of names on a cenotaph, such as the one outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, is meaningless without knowing who those people were and what happened to them.  This is what started Pieter on the journey to uncover the stories behind the names on the Cenotaph.

Over the years, the stories of those from WW1 have been told in this blog.  24 are listed on the Cenotaph and half of them died in France…. Patrick Raymond ARSENAULT and John Lymon ‘Ly’ WOOD are listed on the Vimy Memorial as their bodies were never identified.    Also killed in France were Kenneth John Martin BELL, James CAIRNS, James Ambrose CAIRNS, Arthur Leigh COLLETT, Bazil CORMIER, Patrick Phillip DEEGAN (DEIGHAN), Joseph Arthur DESROCHES, Percy Earl FARROW (FARRAR), Ellis Moyse HOOPER, and Charles W. LOWTHER.  We were at the Vimy Memorial and visited each grave.

Five men died in Belgium. Two are listed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, as their bodies were never identified: Charles Benjamin Murray BUXTON and George Albert CAMPBELL.  We visited Menin Gate and the area where they died.  We also visited the graves of James Lymon CAMERON, Vincent Earl CARR, and Arthur Clinton ROBINSON.

Vincent Carr, who died during the Battle of Passchendaele on October 30, 1918, was initially buried in a trench with 4 others – two Canadian and two British soldiers.  Decades later, when they were reburied in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, all three Canadians were still identifiable.  The British Army’s cardboard identity ‘tags’ had disintegrated, leaving the two British soldiers as unidentified.  Today, DNA testing can be done to help with identity, but decades ago this was impossible.

Two men died in England.  John Goodwill HOWATT was wounded in France, and died in a British hospital.  Bruce Sutherland McKAY had gotten ill during the transport from Canada to England and also died in a British hospital.

Henry Warburton STEWART survived the war, only to fall ill while in Germany as part of the occupation forces.  He’s buried in a German cemetery in Cologne, which we visited.

James Graham FARROW (FARRAR) was not a soldier, but in the Merchant Navy, transporting vital supplies between England and France, when his ship was torpedoed by a U-boat.

Three men died on Canadian soil.  Leigh Hunt CAMERON died of illness, while Harry ROBINSON died from blood poisoning.  William Galen CAMPBELL was poisoned with mustard gas on May 28, 1918, a few months before the end of the war, but was able to return home.  And yes, we’ve visited those graves as well.

We were also able to tell you parallel stories, such as that of Clifford Almon WELLS, who had many of the same experiences as John Lymon Wood, and also died in France. Another story was that of George BRUCKER, of the German Army, who was taken prisoner during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and survived the war, never forgetting the two ‘tall’ Canadians who didn’t shoot him.  Decades later his son, now in his 80s, is still hoping to thank the families of those two unknown men.

Thanks to Pieter’s curiosity in trying to find out why one Commonwealth War Graves Commission gravestone in a cemetery in Cape Traverse was not recorded on the Cenotaph, we were able to tell you the story of Elmyr KRUGER, a soldier from Saskatchewan who died of illness while guarding German prisoners of war from a POW camp in Amherst.

We’ve told the stories of each man, and shared our visits to the various cemeteries and war memorials.  As photos and letters came in, we shared those experiences as well.

We are still missing photos of several of these soldiers, so the quest to put a face to every name and story is still ongoing.  Who are we missing?  Take a look and see if you can help:

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It’s great to watch a movie about fictional characters, but let’s not forget the stories of real life people! There won’t be any Academy Awards given out, but they will be remembered. Research continues to uncover more stories.  If you have a story or photo to share about any of the names mentioned in this posting, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg