S.S. Uruguay

Memories & Photos

 

Officers of the S.S. Uruguay

Officers of the S.S. Uruguay

Officers of the S.S. Uruguay, date unknown.  Staff Captain Robert Bradsell is on the far right in the first row.  John Hakmann, who later became Head of Commissary, is third from right on the second row.  (Courtesy of Sue Shreve.)

Officers of the S.S. Uruguay, date unknown.  John Hakmann is standing on the very far left.  John Hakmann and Nikki Biggs, Cruise Directress, were married in 1968.  (Courtesy of Sue Shreve.)

S.S. Uruguay Buffet

S.S. Uruguay - John Hakmann

John Hakmann is seventh from left.  John was Sue Shreve's husband's uncle.  To John's left is Harry Lindquist.  (Courtesy of Sue Shreve.)

John Hakmann is on the far right.  (Courtesy of Sue Shreve.)

 

The following Memory was received by Elwin Linton

who traveled on the USAT Uruguay when she was a Troopship

The Uruguay made 25 voyages as a troopship from 1942 to 1946.  The majority were to the ETO; two back to back to CBI (China Burma India) in 1943, and two post-war trips to Japan.  I boarded the Uruguay on 3 August, 1943, along with approximately 5,000 other troops.  She was stripped of all luxurious amenities, and bunks were stacked to the overhead.  After sailing for a few days, the ship began zigzagging to evade possible Japanese U-boats.  The portholes were sealed and blacked out and the ventilation system was woefully inadequate.  No lights of any kind on deck were allowed at night, even striking a match.  As we sailed further south, the temperature, cigarette smoke, and B.O. was getting intolerable, so I spent many nights on deck with my life vest for a pillow.  After crossing the equator on 9 August and International Date Line on 17 August, we saw land for the first time and docked at Hobart Tasmania overnight to take on fuel, water, and supplies.  After docking again at Freemantle, we picked up a cruiser and destroyer escort for protection in more dangerous waters.  On 10 September we finally docked at Bombay, India, after 38 days on board.

Mess was served twice a day on long counters where we ate standing.  No fresh water was available for showers.  My shipboard uniform was two pairs of fatigues.  After the first pair got fairly filthy, the second pair got even worse, and I changed back to the first pair!  So much for a luxurious cruise as earlier advertised in peacetime.

In December 1945, I completed my round-the-world journey by troopship after leaving Karachi and arriving in New York City via the Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean aboard a Navy transport.

 

(Courtesy of Elwin Linton)

Elwin Linton

Elwin Linton

 

The following STORY IS FROM THE SCRAPBOOK OF Elwin Linton

who traveled on the S.S. Uruguay when she was a Troopship

Story Written by Jerry Klein in December 1954

On a stormy night to Bermuda in February 12, 1943, a wartime convoy zigzagged across the North Atlantic. All day the ships had dodged prowling U-boats.  Seasick from the pitching vessel, Army Sergeant Cecil Davis had struggled to the sick bay of the troopship Uruguay and climbed into a bunk.  Suddenly there was thunderous roar, the lights went out, and Davis was aware of being lifted into the air.  Then he lost consciousness.

When he awoke, he was cold, his pajamas were wet.  A heavy board lay across his chest.  Blood trickled down his neck.  He knew he was on deck, but had no idea how he got there.  Dazed, he lifted the board and struggled to his feet.  Perhaps the ship had been bombed and he had been blown onto deck, but he could not hear the sound of planes.  A sailor passed him.  "Where's the sick bay?"  Davis called.  "Follow me," the sailor said.  Davis went below decks and into to the brightly lit infirmary where a doctor treated the cuts on his face.  Surprise burst on the doctor's face when he noticed Davis' dog-tags.  "What are you doing on this ship, soldier?"  "What do you mean?" Davis asked."  I came aboard in the states with 5000 other GIs."  "There are no GI's on this ship," the doctor said.  "This is the Salomonie, a Navy tanker."

"It's miraculous!" the doctor said.  Then he explained ... at 1 am orders came to the convoy.  "Full speed ahead."  The ships ceased their zigzag course and nosed straight ahead into the black night. Suddenly the air was filled with the roar of crushing steel and the shouts of men.  The Salomonie's steering gear had jammed and she plowed into the nearby Uruguay.

Only the troopship's concrete ballast kept the tanker from slicing her in half.  Quickly the Salomonie withdrew, leaving a gaping hole in the Uruguay's side and the bodies of 13 dead men on her deck Sgt. Davis might have been one of those killed, but his life was saved by a fantastic event. Hurled from his bunk, Davis had dropped through the demolished sick-bay floor onto the tanker's deck.

Thus, when the Salomonie backed off, she bore a unique passenger who, by the strange hand of fate, had not only foiled the plans of Death, but had actually changed ships, while unconscious, in the middle of the Atlantic!

 

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