Hoyt B. Williams

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The following was written by Captain George Duffy in response to our query regarding "H.B. Williams" on the Zentsuji roster. Captain Duffy has brilliantly documented the Merchant Marine losses and POW status in his contribution to the American Merchant Marine at War website -- an outstanding research site for the history of the Merchant Marine.

Hoyt B. Williams was the Junior Assistant Third Engineer in the S.S. STANVAC CALCUTTA which was sunk off the Brazilian coast on June 6, 1942 by the German raider STIER. The CALCUTTA carried five licensed engineer officers: Chief Engineer, First Assistant Engineer, Second Assistant Engineer (who was in charge of the 4-8 watches), Third Assistant Engineer (in charge of the 12-4 watches), and Junior Third Assistant Engineer (in charge of the 8-12) watches.

Thirty seven of the CALCUTTA's crew of fifty one survived to be taken prisoner. Shortly thereafter, most of them were transferred to the German tanker CHARLOTTE SCHLIEMANN. On June 23, the SCHLIEMANN met up with the raider MICHEL (which caught me in September) and another German ship named DOGGERBANK. The latter was a captured British freighter originally named SPEYBANK.

The DOGGERBANK took aboard the CALCUTTA's crew and survivors of the British freighter GEMSTONE, also sunk by the STIER, and survivors of the British PATELLA and the Panamanian flagged, American crewed, CONNECTICUT, both sunk by the MICHEL. The DOGGERBANK then departed for Batavia and Singapore, where some of the prisoners were put ashore. I assume these were the thirty two Chinese crew members from the PATELLA and maybe other non-whites from the GEMSTONE.

From Singapore, the DOGGERBANK went to Yokohama where, according to one of the CALCUTTA's crew (Eugene Delong, now deceased) the prisoners were placed in Osaka #1 camp. Another of the CALCUTTA's crew, with whom I was acquainted, was killed in an automobile accident in Florida a year ago. His name was James Muldrow. Go into "Google" with that name and you will find considerable information and photos, but without too many specifics. One further word, Muldrow, because he was wounded, did not go in the DOGGERBANK, but was transferred later to the SCHLIEMANN for the trip to Japan.

Some of the above information is found in "A Careless Word . . . A Needless Sinking" by Capt. Arthur R. Moore. Most of it, however, is from my interviews with former MICHEL crew.

Incidentally, that rank of "Lieutenant" was not used in the merchant marine, but may have been adopted as sort of an equivalent rank in the camps. The infamous Sonei of the 'Cycle camp bestowed ranks on us, but we never used them.