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

One thought on “The WW2 Mariner From Kinkora Whose Ship Was Torpedoed In The Caribbean

  1. Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail….. Atlantic Canada Remembers – Part 10 | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s