Daily Event for July 11

July 11, 1942 off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago the Stanvac Palembang, a tanker sailing unescorted, was torpedoed and shelled by the U-203. Most of the crew managed to abandon the ship and make it into the lifeboats but seven were not so lucky and were killed. It was not until the next day that a US sub chaser, the USS PC-8, located the 45 survivors and brought them safely to shore.

One man who was injured and remained in hospital while the other 44 boarded the Robert E. Lee bound for home. They joined 28 crewmen from the Andrea Brovig, a Norwegian tanker sunk by the U-128 on June 23. The journey across the Gulf of Mexico was nearly complete, she was almost to New Orleans when on July 30 the U-166 fired one torpedo at the Robert E. Lee. The torpedo proved to be a fatal blow to the nearly 20 year old ship and she sank 15 minuets later. The USS PC-566 depth charged the U-166 and sank her with all hands while other ships rescued the survivors of the Robert E. Lee. Among the 25 killed was Alexander Moreno, one
of the survivors of the Stanvac Palembang's crew.

The other two U-boat's were also eventually sunk. The U-203 on Apr. 25, 1943 off Greenland and the U-128 on May 17, 1943 in the South Atlantic.

© 2006 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in Stanvac Palembang
"Least we not forget those heroes who fought and died for our freedom"

Akers, Jack E.
Seaman 2nd Class (USN)
Balas, Andrew A.
Able Seaman
Bates, Edwin L.
Seaman 2nd Class (USN)
Bayley, Lewis L.
Coxswain (USN)
Begg, John
Seaman 2nd Class (USN)
Fajarado, Miguel L.
Lopez, Manuel
Ordinary Seaman

Wreck of the SS Robert E. Lee.

Wreck of the U-166.

Feb. 29, 2012

My great-uncle, John Begg , was a gunner on the rear platform of the SS Stanvac Palembang. I have located some account of the sinking from the ship's master. Essentially, the aft armed guardsmen's (one of which was John Begg) responsibility was to make sure that all who abandoned ship were protected and not shot by the attacking vessel, as was common the case of the Nazi Butchers. 

Once the last lifeboat made its way from the stricken ship, the U-Boat (U-203) shelled the hell out of the the 5 guys on the rear platform, one of which was my great-uncle.  Muetzelburg (Capt - Ltn) of U-203 essentially gave the order to assassinate these men, even though all they were doing was protecting those who abandoned a sinking vessel. War is hell. 

From what his brothers and sisters tell me, John Begg was the sweetest and kindest of his 7 brothers and sisters. His death was a scar on the family.  The Gold Star on the front door was a forbidden conversational piece. I have some degree of satisfaction in knowing that Muetzelburg died in a diving accident from the sub not long after he killed my great-uncle.  But that will never heal the scars of those who have long left this world.  The U-Boat Raiders are every bit as guilty as those found guilty at Nuremburg.

Gregory M. Begg