Held In: Two German naval vessels: HSK MICHEL and TSS
UCKERMARK. Ten Japanese labor camps on Java, Singapore, and Sumatra.
Long Interned: 1119 days
/ repatriated: liberated
at Capture: 20 years, 4 months
Received: Mariner's Medal,POW Medal
Job: Navigating Bridge Watch Officer
United States Lines
after War: Merchant Marine Officer
Immediately following George's graduation from high school in 1939, and
as the result of a competitive examination, he was admitted to the
Massachusetts Nautical School. Concurrently came enlistment in the U. S.
Naval Reserve with the rank of Cadet, U.S.N.R., M.M.R. The school was a
three-masted sailing vessel named NANTUCKET, which was built as the
U.S.S. RANGER in 1886. One hundred and twenty cadets lived on board
during their two year enrollment. Winters were spent in Boston, summers
In September 1941 George was graduated and obtained a position as 8-12
watch officer in a freighter named AMERICAN LEADER. Following a long
trip to the Far East (they were in Manila on December 8, 1941) and
return to New York via Australia and New Caledonia, they then loaded
military cargo for the Russians (in the Persian Gulf) and the British
(in India). On September 10, 1942, homeward bound, deep-laden with
rubber, latex, and riches of the Middle East, in a position about 850
miles west of Capetown, the AMERICAN LEADER was attacked and destroyed
by the German auxiliary cruiser MICHEL. Two hours after the night-time
sinking, the MICHEL returned to the scene and picked up 47 of our 58 man
crew. Following 4 weeks as prisoners, during which time a British
freighter was sunk, George and others were transferred to a German naval
replenishment vessel, the UCKERMARK. Unfortunately, this ship was bound
from Europe to Japan by way of Batavia (now Jakarta), Java.
There, on November 6, 1942, they were turned over to the Japanese.
George remained on Java in 3 different camps until the end of June 1944
when he went to Singapore in a group of 1200 POWs aboard a small
Japanese ship, the CHUKKA MARU. From there they were moved to Sumatra
for the construction of the so-called Pakan Baru Railway. George labored
in 6 camps along the 138 mile length of this project which was completed
on August 15, 1945.Of the AMERICAN Leaderís 47 survivors, 13 were lost
in the TAMAHOKO MARU near Nagasaki on June 26, 1944, 4 were lost in the
JUNYO MARU in the Indian Ocean on September 18, 1944, and two died on
the Pakan Baru Railway. Thus, of the original 58 men who left New York
on April 26, 1942, 28 came home.
George arrived in the United States on October 8, 1945, visited his
parents, siblings, and friends, and in early January 1946 after less
than 90 days recuperation he went back to sea in the merchant marine.
Ultimately, he was licensed as Master of Steam and Motor Vessel, Any
Tonnage, Upon Oceans, and commanded two vessels before "swallowing