There was an ominous feeling in the air as the old German passenger liner Steuben slipped her moorings under dark clouds and set off across a slate-grey Baltic Sea. Crowded onto the ship were 5,200 German refugees and wounded soldiers. Everyone on board was attempting to escape the fast-approaching American-armed Red Army that threatened destruction, rape and death.
On December 8 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Republican Congressman (R-N.Y.) Hamilton Fish made his maiden speech to the U.S. Congress. In it, he asked for the United States Declaration of War against Japan. Of the speech, he was later to say: ‘I am ashamed of that speech today, as I know now about President Roosevelt’s infamous war ultimatum that forced Japan’s leaders to fight.’
The British Merchant Navy freighter Fiscus, 4,815 tonnes and built by W. H. Seager & Co. loaded a cargo of steel ingots, lumber and a deck cargo of crated aircraft parts in Canada and sailed from Three Rivers to Sydney, Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. There she joined up with the 35 ships making up Convoy SC-7, which left Sydney, Canada on October 5, 1940.
In 1942 marine fireman William Swinchin of Dingle Mount in Liverpool, England engaged in an incredible act of endurance when he survived 75 days alone, adrift on a raft after his vessel was sunk by a U-boat.
The war in the Far East (December 1941-September 1945) was ferocious and being captured by the Japanese was no guarantee of outliving the war. Amazingly, as many Allied servicemen and women were killed by their own forces as lost their lives during Japanese captivity.
The Great War (1914-1918) was, in retrospect, a new era conflict that progressed on emerging technology leaving everyone fighting by the seat of their khaki or fought with every kind of contemporary weapon including dashing grey pants.
75 years ago, on January 30, 1945, in the Danzig Gulf of the Baltic Sea, the Soviet submarine S-13 under the command of Captain 3rd Rank Alexander Marinesko sank the German transport Wilhelm Gustloff.