Chisholm, William R. ‘45
I was engine cadet on the SS Robert Eden .We were part of Convoy JW 58; Captain J.D. Dunn Rd RNR. The ship was unloaded at Murmansk with the exception of a base to a machine. The Russians did not have a heavy lifting apparatus for the port. We ended up at another port in the Arctic Circle. It was an ice bound port. As a result of this trip we had damage to our propeller from the thick ice.. We could not maintain a good convoy speed. We engineers landed over the side to try to repair the propeller by cutting out the defective piece. After unloading the heavy base, the Eden returned to Murmansk for a trip to New York with a convoy.
Convoy JW 78 returned to Lock Ewe, Scotland with four radio operators on board: two Navy and two Merchant Marine.
Prior to leaving Murmansk we were chosen to be one of the rescue ships. The other was a British destroyer the HMS Whitehall. The convoy was under the control of the Royal Navy, no American ships were involved.
Two torpedoes struck the Thayer (see the book Liberty; the ships that won the war, page 239 for details).The Eden went too battle stations, etc. I ended up in a motorized life boat. A sea painter wrapped around the propeller and we couldn’t use the motor. The crew was forced to row. Being from Gloucester, Massachusetts I could handle the oar. We rowed over to the aft section of the Thayer and boarded a number of the crew. The rest returned to the Eden with survivors. We then got underway for Lock Ewe, Scotland.
The Eden returned to New York where she loaded up with ammunition for Normandy, The invasion was the talk of the Eden.