The Last Voyage of the SS Henry Bacon

The Last Voyage of the SS Henry Bacon

The Last Voyage of the SS Henry Bacon

The Last Voyage of the SS Henry Bacon

Synopsis

The Last Voyage of the Henry Bacon is a story of heroic courage and valor and self-sacrifice. The last voyage of the Liberty ship SS Henry Bacon saw the crew put the lives of 19 Norwegian refugees above their own. The Bacon was the last Liberty ship to be sunk by the German Lufwaffe on the Murmansk Run from Scotland to Murmansk, Russia. The ship fought valiantly against superior forces, and downed more German planes than any other Liberty ship. The SS Henry Bacon was born, lived and died in war: commissioned November 11, 1942; and sank February 23, 1945. When the ship went down, her proud captain and chief engineer were standing at the helm. This is her story.The Last Voyage of the Henry Bacon is filled with touching personal episodes, well-written and documented, drawn from conversation and correspondence with the surviving merchant seamen and Navy gunners. All of the accounts have been verified by declassified Navy and Maritime Commission records.

Excerpt

News stories highlighting the last voyage of the Liberty ship ss Henry Bacon exploded across the pages of America’s newspapers in 1945, the closing year of World War ii. a headline in the New York Times in April 1945 read: “15 us seamen die saving 19 REFUGEES; Skipper and All Senior Officers Lost as Germans Torpedo Liberty Ship Off Norway.” a subhead noted that Crown Prince Olaf, later Norway’s King Olaf, praised the heroism of the men involved.

Abbreviated accounts of the attack came out in various short stories in the years that followed. But there was no detailed account describing the rough waters, the separation from the convoy, the attacks by Nazi submarines and fighter planes, the abandoning of the ss Henry Bacon, the rescue of the refugees, and the heroism of the Navy gunners and crew, some of whom sacrificed their very lives. Each account, each version of the event was ensconced in the memories of the survivors.

Two decades later, in the early sixties, Don Foxvog, a Washington, dc, writer with a Norwegian heritage, began to take on the task of making lists of the names and “dry-land” addresses of the Navy gunners and the ship’s crew. in part his interest grew out of his special admiration for the men who saved the Norwegian refugees, who were taken to the British Isles and eventually returned to Norway. His effort was extended to making contact with the men based on 20-year-old addresses. Some men could be located, some could not.

While survivors came from the Midwest, including Minnesota, and from the South, including Alabama, most came from the Northeast.

After initial contact was made by phone or by correspondence, Don made personal visits to a number of survivors. Many of his contacts resulted in one-on-one interviews. One special memory . . .

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