Daily Event for March 8, 2010

En route from Suez to Durban, South Africa the Liberty ship James B. Stephens was sailing alone when on March 8, 1942 she was struck by a torpedo fired by U-160. The ship quickly caught fire and the crew abandoned the ship. A second torpedo struck causing the motor lifeboat to capsize, Boatswain Edward F. Racine got several men out and righted the boat, he also dove into the sea to rescue others, for this he received the Distinguished Service Medal.

The ship did not sink right away and both parts were later found, the stern was sunk by a South African warship and the bow was taken in tow, but sank en route. The survivors lifeboats were separated, but boat by boat they were finally found and rescued, albeit not for almost a week. One man died during the sinking and two others died later from either wounds or exposure, but sixty-one survived to fight another day. A further sad detail to this story is the fact that the ship was carrying the personal effects of a number of South African troops killed in action, the families of those of course never received the final belongings of their relative.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in SS James B. Stephens
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Auchinloss, Reginald L. J.
Lieutenant (j.g.) (USN)
Malby, Leslie
Seaman 1st Class (USN)
Vanderpool, Vane I.
Seaman 1st Class (USN)

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