A phone call from a stranger – who knew where it would lead? Tom Schroeder is searching for Claire Kean (Keane?), daughter of Jack Everhart, brother of William and WWII cadet #RobertRayEverhart, lost at sea November 4, 1942, near Jan Mayen Island, when the SS William Clark was hit by one of three torpedoes.
Thomas G. Schroeder* (Class of 1957) “has a compelling desire to honor the memory of the Cadets (142) and Graduates (68) who died serving America during World War II. He assisted Jim Hoffman ’44 (died May 5, 2011) in tracking down the next of kin of the Cadets in order to present them with a U.S. Coast Guard Honorable Service -Veterans Document. On realizing that the American Maritime History Project (AMHP) had not completed the memorial book ‘Braving the Wartime Seas’ he called upon George Ryan ’57 to revive the project. He actively assisted George Ryan and Tom McCaffery ’76 in finalizing the book.” http://www.usmmaaf-rva-chap.org/#!officers/cfvg
Braving the Wartime Seas: A Tribute to the Cadets and Graduates of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Cadet Corps Who Died during World War II Paperback and Ebook by The American Maritime History Project
I can’t heap enough praise upon this book. It has painstakingly recorded the life and death of not only every cadet but also every graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy during the Second World War. As a graduate myself (1986) I read with sadness and pride of the sacrifices of my fellow mariners – most still in their teens, but dedicated to service. To paraphrase the title of another book, :….where do we find such men…?”
A mariner could die any number of ways in such a war. German air attack, submarine, surface raider, Japanese I-boat or simply catastrophic collision/explosion/storm at sea was the end of most; simple illness and even a suicide was the death of some. I specifically recall a cadet who died in a simple jeep accident in North Africa after Torch – just a kid wanting to get ashore and see the results of the recent combat there – could’ve happened to anyone. One catastrophic explosion took out the SS La Salle completely – including the former Mayor of Milwaukee, of all things – who had resigned as mayor to become a USN Armed Guard officer – can you imagine any politician doing such a thing today? Perhaps most interesting of all is for me personally, was the SS William King – as I met a former AB aboard this vessel (he was renewing his Mates license in 1990!). This unfortunate vessel was torpedoed by a Uboat in the Indian Ocean, its skipper taken by the Germans and transferred to the Japanese – who put him on a “hellship” bound for Japan when it was sunk by a US submarine. After all these years, I know the specifics of the incident. The Kindle edition, at 3.99 for over 600 pages of material, is the buy of the decade – I heartily thank the authors for their dedicated work and wish my departed colleagues fair winds and following seas – rest easy, knowing you are not forgotten…..
Robert Ray Everhart
Born: March 30, 1922
Hometown: Bala-Cynwd, PA
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Deck Cadet
Date / Place of death: November 4, 1942 /
Norwegian Sea, 71-05 N, 13-20 W
Date / Place of burial: November 4, 1942 /
Norwegian Sea, 71-05 N, 13-20 W- Lost at Sea
Robert R. Everhart reported aboard the Liberty Ship SS William Clark in New York
harbor on August 17, 1942. Also joining the ship on the same day was Engine Cadet
Peter Smith. They joined a crew of 38 merchant ship officers and seamen along with
30 officers and men of the Navy’s Armed Guard.
The ship sailed on August 22, 1942, carrying a cargo of general military supplies in its holds and a deck cargo of aircraft and tanks to Murmansk, Russia. The William Clark traveled with convoys via Boston (BX- 35) and Halifax, Nova Scotia (SC-99) to Reykjavik, Iceland where the ship would normally have joined a Murmansk bound convoy. However, due to the high losses of the previous two Murmansk Convoys, PQ-17 and PQ-18, and the demand for warships to support the landings in North Africa, the Murmansk convoys were suspended. In the interim, supplies still had to flow to Russia. So, the seven British, five U.S. and one Russian merchant ships that would have been in the next Murmansk convoy were ordered to sail independently from Reykjavik in twelve hour intervals between October 29 and November 2, 1942 in what was called Operation FB. Of the thirteen ships, three turned back to Reykjavik, five arrived safely and five, including the SS William Clark, were lost.
At 1135 on November 4, 1942, near Jan Mayen Island, the SS William Clark was hit on
the port side, amidships, by one of three torpedoes by U-354. The explosion
completely destroyed the engine room killing all five of the engineers on duty
including Engine Cadet Peter J. Smith. The remaining crew abandoned ship into two
life boats and a motorboat. Although the motorboat was able to keep the survivors
together by towing the lifeboats, the towline was eventually broken and the boats
became separated. One boat with 26 survivors was rescued after three days afloat by
HMS Elstan (FY 240). The second boat with fourteen survivors were rescued by HMS
Cape Passiser (FY 256) after over a week at sea. Robert Everhart apparently was in
the motorboat which, with twenty other crew members, was under the command of the
Captain. This boat was never heard from again.
Cadet-Midshipman Robert R. Everhart was posthumously awarded the Mariners Medal,
Combat Bar with star, the Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal, and the
Presidential Testimonial Letter.
Robert R. Everhart was the youngest son of William T. and Helen Louisa Van Reed
Everhart. His older brothers were Jack and William. Bob attended Lower Merion High
School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. He is described by his family as an excellent tennis
player who was respected by his teammates and the student body in general. According to his niece, Bob was deeply loved by his family.
And when the stream
Which overflowed the soul has passed away,
A consciousness remained that it had left
Deposited upon the silent shore
Of memory images and precious thoughts
That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed
The parents of Robert, Jack and William Everhart ran a bar in Philadelphia that the sons may have worked in. Patrons of that bar might know of living relatives of Robert Everhart.
Disney illustrator Claire Keane is also not the daughter of Jack Everhart. My daughter Claire didn’t pan out as a lead for Mr. Shroeder. Does anyone know a Claire (Everhart) Kean or Keane?
More about the book Braving the War Time Seas :
Political and Military Statements in Support of the Thousands of Merchant Mariners Including Those We Honor in This Book Braving the Wartime Seas “The Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis serves the Navy . . ” (September 30, 1943, dedication of USMMA campus) President Franklin D. Roosevelt “The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril” Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill “This is a hundredth gone. Too damned many of these fine lads gone. Wish there was more we could do to minimize losses” Captain Richard R. McNulty, June 16, 1943 Note on report of death of a Cadet-Midshipman “They have brought us our lifeblood and they had paid for it with some of their own . . . they have delivered their cargoes to us who needed them so badly. In war it is performance that counts” Quotes from Douglas MacArthur, General of the U.S. Army “Yours was the first front on every ocean, and without you, no Army and Navy can survive . . . one of the vital teams participating will be recognized as the merchant seamen in dungarees . . . we of the Navy will salute you with a final ‘Well done'” Admiral Harold R. Stark, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe “Our operations would not have been possible without the strong support of our Merchant Marine. These gallant officers and men maintained a bridge of ships across the Pacific, and bore their share of the Japanese attacks while unloading on distant islands where the struggle was still intense and the issue not yet decided” Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations Braving the Wartime Seas is the final book of the American Maritime History Project, a private nonprofit foundation. The quotations were drawn from http://www.usmm.org. Front cover was designed by Marek Mutch, Bay Village, OH.
See more: A Legacy for Kings Point Cadets and Graduates who lost their lives in World War II Kings Pointers in World War II Cadet Midshipmen Who Died in World War II
The 143 men listed below were cadets or cadet/midshipmen who died during World War II while members of the Cadet Corps. All but two of them have their names on the Memorial Monument at Kings Point; Carl Brandler and Kenneth McAuliffe. McAuliffe was a United Fruit Company Cadet; he was not a U.S. Maritime Commission Cadet but is included since he died as a cadet on a merchant ship and his form of training was one of the practices before the USMC Cadet training program was established. There is no explanation as to the reason why Carl Brandler’s name is not on the monument.
As with other military organizations, deaths during the war are not all directly caused by enemy actions. Among the 143 there were 119 young men who were killed in direct action against the enemy; they died from aerial and submarine torpedo, bombing and kamikaze attacks and German raider shelling.
The enemy was not the only peril faced by merchant mariners at war. The supply line had to be maintained at all costs, and ships put to sea in all weather and sailed perilously close to each other in tight packed convoys day and night. Ships were prohibited from showing navigation lights and compelled to zigzag, changing course as a group in the dark of night, often in heavy seas. Frequent collisions were the inevitable result. Six Cadet-Midshipmen men died in collisions. They were: J. W. Artist, R. J. Derick, D. L. Polcari, R. J. Prickett, J. O. Talbott, and B. H. Wilkinson. Three died when their ships sank in violent storms: they were E. J. Ackerlind, W. B. Carriere and J. L. Driscoll. They all died serving in the line of duty supplying war material to the Allied forces.
Unlike Navy ships, merchant ships carried no medical personnel. Primary treatment was usually provided on board with the aid of a first aid manual and medical treatment was deferred until the first port, often days, and sometimes weeks away. Delayed treatment often exacerbated medical problems. Seven men died of illnesses contracted while on duty on board ship or in training. They were: T. B. Carey, Roy DuChene, A. M. Limehouse, W.E. McCann, R. C. Nolan, B. Schultz, and G. Viridakis.
Ships are dangerous places for the uninitiated in the best of times and, in the rush to man the burgeoning fleet, training was accelerated to a breakneck pace. Much was left to the initiative of the cadets, and some mishaps were inevitable. Five men died in shore based training or shipboard accidents. They were: C. F. Gerstacker, D. A. Kennedy, R. E. Netcott, J. R. Rosenbloom and J. H. Watson III.
Life goes on, even in war, and death is an inevitable part of life. Three men, D. H. Frohn, O. E. Kern, and H. Quayle died ashore in foreign ports in various accidents not specifically related to a military action. They were serving honorably at the time of their deaths and their names are inscribed on the war memorial.
Of the 143 Cadet-Midshipmen who died in World War II, 52 would have been in the class of 1943; 80 would have been in the class of 1944; eight would have been in the class of 1945; and three would have been in the class of 1946.
Cadet Andrew Hoggatt’s name is on the Monument but since he died on November 19, 1940, we do not include him in the book but his story is in this blog.
After the book Braving the Wartime Seas was published in 2014, we learned that Guy Anderson Carter, a brother of Cadet-Midshipman John McCormick Carter who died in June 1943, was also a Cadet Midshipman who died on board the SS John Harvey in Bari, Italy in December 1943 while he was serving as a Third Assistant Engineer. Somehow there was no record of Guy A. Anderson in the Academy archives. We now have records from his family that substantiate that he was a Cadet-Midshipman. See the life story of Guy Anderson Carter in the menu of the blog
YOU MAY OPEN THE PAGE OF THE PERSON HIGHLIGHTED IN BLUE BY A SINGLE CLICK.
* Tom Schroeder served on Active Duty on the USS Carpellotti APD-136 and was employed over the course of his career with Federal Barge Lines, Ingersoll-Rand, DuPont, and Nabisco as well as the Defense Logistics Agency. In his retirement he also serves as an associate member of Professional Associations such as the American Merchant Marine Veterans; Sarasota/Manatee Chapter and is on the board of directors for the U.S. Navy Armed Guard WW II Veterans.