13 December 2009
Requiem for a Sailor: RIP 1st Engineer J. F_____, Merchant Marine 30 AUG 1944
Since the advent of the internet I've always been astonished at the breadth of material people have made available, especially declassified documents of historical value.
Recently, I did an internet search for my Great-Uncle who perished while serving in the Merchant Marine on a fuel tanker during WWII. I was astounded at the amount of information available about the ship- the first site I found was Ahoy- Mac's Web Log, which contained information on the Jackson and then I found another site by a family member of a fallen sailor from my Great-Uncle's ship. I contacted both web authors and they were each extremely helpful and responsive to my queries.
It's all fascinating. Some of it a little stomach turning- like the Ultra intercepts from the U-Boat that sank my Uncle's ship and the bravo zulu that followed- not to mention the group picture of smiling, slicked back Teutonic knights posing on their boat.
I didn't know my uncle. He died 28 years before I was born. But still, it's just a very strange experience to see a photo of his ship sinking (above, 50 miles off of Londonderry) and read the giddy message traffic between the U-boat that sunk him and their command. Very strange to see all this information, especially considering how little our family knew about the incident beyond the basic details. His death caused some massive emotional reverberations and tragic consequences within his immediate family, as I'm sure it does with every family who loses a truly loved one in war.