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Photo courtesy of Ernie Walters 2016 - All rights reserved.

Captain Leon E. Walters

5 July 1942, the SS Fairfield City, Leon E. Walters Master, with 10 officers, 26 crewmen and 6 armed guards, sailed from Iceland to Murmansk with 7,400 tons of war supplies as part of Convoy PQ-17. When the Convoy Commodore dispersed the ships, the vessel traveled as part of a group of 4 American ships and a few British escorts. Just after 3:00 PM, position 74.40 N, 39.45 E, in the Barents Sea, North Russia, three Junkers 88s found the group and began attacking, the first group of bombs falling close aboard. A second bomber released bombs that struck the afterdeck and the third plane's bombs hit the bridge, killing 2 officers and 6 men, but sparing the helmsman. The survivors abandoned the ship in #1, #2 and #3 lifeboats and a raft. The #1 boat, having a motor, took the others in tow toward Novaya Zemlya; the 34 survivors making landfall 4 days later. On 7/12 the trawler HMS AYSHIRE (FY-225) rescued the men and placed them on board several ships for repatriation at Matochin Straight.

Article courtesy of Scott Yaklin & Graham (Bud) Tyner 2023 - All rights reserved.

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