S.S. Uruguay

Memories & Photos

 

The Army-Navy Football Game -- December 2, 1944

The Army-Navy Football Game took a hiatus in 1942 and 1943 because of security concerns during World War II.  In 1944 a decision was made to play the Football Game again before a large crowd.  But in order to buy a ticket the game was played in Baltimore and you had to buy a war bond.  In spite of the danger of submarine attacks, the entire Army Corps of Cadets went to Annapolis aboard the USAT Uruguay escorted by three destroyers.  The Game took place on December 2, 1944.

On February 11, 2004, we received the following e-mail from Woody Goldberg, Senior Advisor to General Alexander M. Haig, Jr., about the General's trip aboard the USAT Uruguay in November-December 1944:

Cadet Alexander M. Haig, Jr

Source of photo USMA Library

Cadet Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Class of 1947

 

"General Alexander M. Haig, Jr. shared with me the following recollections of what he called 'An unforgettable boat trip!' Apparently, as he recalls, the West Point cadets were transported to Baltimore on what he now knows was the S.S. Uruguay.  Everyone got seasick as he recalls.  The ship could not go into the ocean out of concern for German subs; hence the trip was 'riding the swells' close to shore.  Cadets slept in tight troop accommodations.  With all quite under the weather when they got to Baltimore, they then had to march from the harbor  across town to the stadium, a rather unpleasant experience to boot.  With this experience I gather he was convinced he wisely went Army and not Navy."  Woody Goldberg

The following came from West Point Class of 1947 Class History and Achievements:

On their return trip, as plebes, the cadets were "irrationally exuberant" and their wild deportment on the return trip over their great victory precluded the traditional quid pro quo of allowing the plebes to "sit out" for the week following a victory over the Navy.  They thought the ship's roll when serving chow to the upper classmen would easily excuse getting cream of wheat in their scrambled eggs and/or oatmeal in their French toast.  They were wrong!  (Mean spirited firsties!!)

    

Alexander M. Haig, United States Secretary of State (1981-1982); Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to President Ford (1975-1977) and to President Bush (1989-1993); Bernie Abrams, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (1972-1978); and two Heisman Trophy winners, Doc Blanchard (1945) and Glenn Davis (1946) were aboard the USAT Uruguay on her way to the Army-Navy football game in that they were members of the Class of 1947.

 

    

 

Col. Edward L. Scott, USMA, Class of 1948, was also onboard.  The following is an e-mail (Dec. 2014) he sent to his daughter, Tess Wilson, about his recollections of the trip to the Army-Navy Football Game in 1943.  Ms. Wilson kindly forwarded the information.

 

"I donít know if the football team were on board or not, and all of the cadets did not get sea sick (I for one), though it was indeed rough.  The propellers would frequently rise up out of the water and vibrate the whole ship as it pitched fore and aft.  We were completely blacked out, and cadets (Plebes) were assigned duty on deck at night to ensure no light was being emitted.  I pulled duty near the stern and was able to enjoy the pitch up of the stern and the ensuing vibration and then the pitch down.  I was completely fearless, of course, and actually enjoyed the whole experience.  They issued us warm navy outer wear for the cold and damp.  It was December in the North Atlantic and was needed.

"The cadets were assigned by companies to different areas of the ship.  A lot of cadets were on the lower decks, others on higher decks; and the pitch of the ship varied a lot depending upon the fore to aft locations.

"'A' Company was on one of the higher decks.  I don't recall anyone in our area having gotten sick, but I once went down into the bowels of the ship on some errand, where many cadets were staying; and there were buckets everywhere awash with vomit.  Didn't smell good either.

"Neither do I recall the march from the dock to the stadium to be a challenge.  We all were in excellent physical condition, and it was exciting.

 "I donít recall ever thinking we were sailing 'close to shore.'  I never saw the shoreline nor any onshore lights at night either."

Col. Edward L. Scott, USMA, Ret. served in the Army two years before his commission to West Point (WWII), then served in Korea as well as in Vietnam. When Col. Scott graduated from West Point, he went into the newly formed Air Force and his duty for the presentation of the flags since his West Point training provided him with the proper military etiquette to greet a President.  At the time there was no one else who could do that.

 

The photo to the right shows Col. Scott escorting President Kennedy at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, on November 18, 1963, three days before the President was assassinated in Dallas.  There was some question as to whether the Colonel should escort the President since he towered over JFK "like a battleship over a rowboat."

Scott-JFK

    

John Robb

 

John Robb is shown surveying the tasks presented by a newly arrived Moore-McCormack vessel.  Quoting Mr. Robb as he told of the mechanics of ship berthing, Miss Delich wrote:  "One of his real headaches, one he will admit, was in 1944 when the Moore-McCormack's luxury liner Uruguay brought in the West Point cadets for the Army-Navy football game.  The vessel had to be manipulated into Pier 1 somehow so the side ports could be opened and the cadets unload through them." 

Mooremack skippers knew Mr. Robb well.  He started his career with the Pennsylvania Railroad as a messenger at its Washington Avenue pier, in Philadelphia, and by 1936 had become chief of the company's Delaware River piers.  In 1940 he was moved on to Baltimore to handle the Canton piers, and there he has carried on.

The incident of the West Point cadets which Mr. Robb recalls is also recalled by many in the Mooremack operation, the Uruguay having gone up the Hudson River pier and under George Washington Bridge only by removing part of its mast.  It was a wartime operation, made without publicity and with a whole string of operations problems to be solved.

    

 

German Yrisarry wrote us the following account of his family

entering the United States aboard the USAT Uruguay.

Some time in August 1945 my family and I arrived in San Francisco on board the S.S. Uruguay as a family of an American soldier escaping the  horrors of the Japanese occupation in  Manila, Philippines. We were placed in the first  class accommodations while the returning troops were placed in the lower decks.  As a family of two parents with three children, we were part of a group of families in the same predicament.  Needless to say, even though the ship sailed under blackout conditions in the evening, our sailing was beyond our belief, especially after the suffering we all went through in Manila.

Our meals were served preceded by a menu of our choice with the servers dressed in their white jackets and bow ties.  For us children, a snack was served in late afternoon with milk and cookies. What more could anyone ask.  Upon our arrival in San Francisco on a bright sunny day in August, our Captain proceeded to welcome us in our new country and to advise us that the American Red Cross was there to help us get settled, which they did beautifully. Our Captain added this bit of information to his announcement and that apparently our ship had been torpedoed by a Japanese submarine the night before and somehow missed us by a few feet.

German Yrisarry requests that if you happen to know of anyone on that same trip to please contact him. 

    

Kelly Jacobius wrote the following about her Mother-in-Law's Experience when the

USAT Uruguay left Yokohama, Japan in 1946

Christa Trostel Jacobius was born in Borneo, Indonesia, to German parents who were missionaries through the Basel, Switzerland, mission.  She was living in Indonesia during the Dutch-Indies conflict and after Germany invaded the Netherlands, the Dutch police in Indonesia rounded up the German men as prisoners.  Her father was interned and eventually all the German prisoners were sent to Bombay on a Dutch ship called the Van Imoff  which was bombed at sea by the Japanese.  Her father died along with 411 Germans.  About a year later, the Basel mission rounded up the German women and children and put them on the Assama Maru (Japanese ship) and were sending them back home to Europe via Japan and Russia.  Germany invaded Russia so they diverted to Japan and she remained in Japan for five years and lived in poor conditions under close watch of the Japanese.  While in Japan, a Swiss consulate befriended her family and would assist them throughout their five years in Nagano, Japan. 

The war ended and on February 15, 1946, the S.S. Uruguay was at Yokohoma, Japan, and Christa and her family along with European dignitaries and their families who were held in Japan during the war, boarded this ship.  There were wounded American soldiers also on this ship. The rest of the German missionary families in Japan were not aboard this ship and did not return to Europe until a year later.  Christa believes that the Swiss consulate was very pivotal in getting them on this ship so soon after the war ended.   I deeply appreciate the crew in 1946 for their safe voyage from Yokohoma, Japan, to LeHavre, France.  If it wasn't for Christa, I wouldn't have my husband Dave or my children.  Simply said, Christa is a remarkable women. 

Sincerely, Kelly Jacobius (daughter-in-law of Christa) (see Christa's story below). 

 

Trostel siblings on S.S. Uruguay

The Trostel siblings -- Hermann (age 9), Christa (age 10), and Gerhard (age 7)

on the deck of the S.S. Uruguay

Christa's Memories in her own words:

"On February 15, 1946, we left Yokohama, Japan, on the S.S. Uruguay.  On board this ship were wounded American soldiers, European dignitaries and their families that were held in Japan during the war and my mother, Emmy Trostel, my two brothers, Hermann and Gerhard, and myself.  It was a dark colored ship.  I remember we were given a big cabin just for my family and it had several bund beds in it and my brothers and I would play all over the cabin on these beds. 

"This was the first time in my life when I got to drink Coca-Cola, and eat ice cream along with an American Nestle candy bar.  We would eat in the dining room.  I remembered watching American movies and barely understanding English.  There were several children aboard this ship and because our roots were from all over Europe, the only common language we could all speak was Japanese

"We went back through the Panama Canal.  At that time, anyone on board who was German, Japanese or married to either nationality was kept on board the ship due to the relations the United States had with both of these countries.  My mom was considered German and was not able to leave the ship, however, all of us children were allowed to leave the ship regardless of nationality.  The American Red Cross greeted all of us children and gave us new clothes and took us on a sightseeing tour around Panama.  It was very warm in Panama and while on the S.S. Uruguay, someone gave us Johnson's Baby Oil for sun protection and we would use it while on deck.  Our tans made us all look a lot healthier even though we were in poor shape.

"After leaving Panama, I remember the weather was bad and the water was choppy.  The ship crew was being careful not to hit mines.  We would have several drills on board due to the possibility of mines and when this happened we would have to get our life jackets on and go to our lifeboats.  I remember one day when we had a close call of almost hitting a mine.  While on board the S.S. Uruguay, an American soldier befriended me.  We would talk a lot and I remember that he was missing a left hand but I have since forgotten his name.  He gave me some trinkets that I believe came from Hawaii.  One trinket was a necklace made out of pasta stars and they were colored.  He was very kind to me.  

"We arrived at LeHavre, France, on either March 16 or 17th, 1946.  I remember standing on the deck looking out and all I could see surrounding us were sunken ships.  The American soldiers got off the ship first and we left later.  The American soldier that was so good to me returned to the ship before we got off to show me his new artificial hand which he received nearby in LeHavre.  Once we left the S.S. Uruguay, the ship eventually continued on to Southampton, England, to pick up the English war brides.  I remember this because a women on the S.S. Uruguay who was a very good artist was painting a 'Welcome Aboard' sign for the war brides.  The wounded American soldiers, after receiving medical treatment in France, also went back on the S.S. Uruguay en route to Southampton, England, and eventually the United States." 

Christa Trostel Jacobius. 

If anyone wishes to contact the Trostel family and/or know more about this particular trip, please contact Kelly Jacobius.

    

   

Eleanor Britton on the S.S. Uruguay with Howard Johnson and Vincent Sardi.

Eleanor Britton on the S.S. Uruguay with restaurateurs Howard Johnson and Vincent Sardi.

   

Thomas J. Lyons, Lounge Steward and Captain John Hultman on the S.S. Uruguay

SEAGOING ARTIST - Thomas J. Lyons, Cabin Class Lounge Steward on the S.S. Uruguay, gained quite a reputation among his fellow Mooremackites (employees of Moore-McCormack Lines) as an artist.  He is shown here putting the finishing touches on his portrait of Captain John M. Hultman, the S.S. Uruguay's Staff Captain.

   

S.S. Uruguay 1948 Christmas Card by Tom Dailey

Tom Dailey, Photographer on the S.S. Uruguay, took a time exposure of the ship in Rio de Janeiro at night, setting off a large number of flashbulbs to illuminate the side of the ship.  He then created this most unique Christmas card for 1948.

   

Purser, Thomas F. Murphy

Thomas F. Murphy, in May 1943, shipped out with Mooremack as a clerk-typist on the Willis Van Deventer.  He left the ship in April 1944, and entered the Maritime Service school at Sheepshead Bay, later serving as a pharmacist mate at the Chicago Marine Hospital.  In September 1944, he was assigned as purser on the Sea Flier, which Mooremack operated at the time.  His next move was to the Marine Jumper and then in January 1948, joined the S.S. Uruguay.  He later became Chief Purser aboard the S.S. Argentina joining Purser Robert Melsopp.

   

S.S. Uruguay docked in Rio

S.S. Uruguay docked in Rio.  (Photo courtesy of Leon van Duivendijk.)

   

Henry Cotton and Rodman Chamberlain

1948 -- "Ship Reporter" appeared over the television station of the American Broadcasting Company, and featured an interview with Henry Cotton, one of the world's great golf competitors.  He is pictured here when he was a passenger on the S.S. Uruguay bound for South America.  He is explaining some fine points to a fellow passenger, Rodman W. Chamberlain, sales vice-president of the Stanley Works, of New Britain, Connecticut. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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