Bogardus, Jr., Henry James

Henry J. Bogardus, Jr.

Henry James Bogardus, Jr.
Born: March 12, 1923
Hometown: Montclair, NJ
Class: 1944
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Engine Cadet
Date / Place of death: June 6, 1943 / Indian Ocean,
30-10’S, 34-10’E
Date / Place of burial: June 6, 1943 / Indian Ocean,
30-10’S, 34-10’E, Lost at sea
Age: 20

Henry J. Bogardus signed aboard the Liberty Ship SS William King as Engine Cadet on November 16, 1942 at Philadelphia, PA. According to the report submitted by one of the ship’s other cadets, John H. Lueddecke, the ship sailed from Philadelphia loaded with Army trucks, ammunition, food, blankets, medical supplies and railroad car axles bound for Bushire, Iran. The William King sailed in convoy to the Panama Canal and then down the West Coast of South America, around Cape Horn to Karachi, India and its destination. After unloading its cargo in the Persian Gulf the William King sailed from Basra, Iran, refueled in Saudi Arabia, and sailed for Cape Town, South Africa. On May 28, the ship received a message from the British Admiralty via the radio station at Mombasa, Kenya to divert to Durban.

At about 1140 GCT on June 6, when the William King was about 200 miles east of
Durban, it was sighted and attacked by U-198. The submarine’s first torpedo hit the
ship on the port side at the Number 3 hatch and the engine room. Both of the ship’s
two boilers exploded, stopping the ship immediately and starting a fire in the engine
room. The crew members in the engine room, including Engine Cadet Henry J.
Bogardus, Jr., were believed to have been killed instantly.

Captain Owen Harvey Reed immediately ordered the crew to abandon ship, using the
two starboard lifeboats and a life raft (the port lifeboats had been destroyed in the
attack). However, he, the Second Mate and the Armed Guard remained on board for
another 40 minutes, attempting to fire on the submarine until a second torpedo missed
the stern of the ship by about 15 feet. Shortly after abandoning ship in three of the life
rafts, U-198 fired one more torpedo which hit on the starboard side amidships. A large
explosion and shooting flames ensued and the ship sank almost immediately.

After the entire crew had abandoned ship, the German submarine surfaced, questioned
the survivors about their nationality, and the name, tonnage, and destination of the ship.
The U-Boat crew also demanded to know where the Captain was and fired several
rounds of sub-machine gun bullets into the water. Captain Reed gave himself up, said
goodbye to his crew and boarded the submarine. Three weeks later he was turned
over to U-196’s supply ship the Charlotte Schliemann. In turn the Charlotte Schliemann
turned its prisoners over to a Japanese Prisoner of War camp in Batavia, Java in
August 1943. Captain Reed along with 2300 other POW were aboard the “hell ship” SS
Junyo Maru perished when the ship was sunk by HMS Tradewind (P 329) on
September 18, 1944.

The gun crews in the life rafts were rescued after 36 hours in the water by the antisubmarine trawler HMS Northern Chief. Twelve hours later the Northern Chief found
one of the lifeboats. The survivors in the other lifeboat (who had managed to sail within
fourteen miles of land) were picked up on 12 June by the British destroyer HMS
Relentless (H85). All of the 59 survivors of the sinking of the SS William King ,
including Bogardus’ fellow Cadets, Patrick F. Canavan, Joseph A. Gagliano and John
H. Lueddecke, were brought to Durban.

Cadet/Midshipman Henry J. Bogardus posthumously received the Mariner’s Medal,
Combat Bar, Victory Medal, Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Mediterranean-Middle East War
Zone Bar, and the Presidential Testimonial Letter.

Henry J. Bogardus was the eldest son of Adelaide V. Bogardus. Henry was raised in
Montclair, New Jersey with his older sister Dorothy and younger sister Beatrice and
brother Robert. The family survived difficult times during the Great Depression.
Bogardus was a talented musician, and played tuba in his school marching band and
bugle at Boy Scout Camp in the summers. Despite suffering from asthma that kept him
out of athletics he was an Eagle Scout and an excellent student. After high school,
Bogardus enrolled at Cooper Union College night school, and worked at Union Carbide
Co. in New York City before attending the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

His brother Robert says,

“Henry lived by the fine motto of the Boy Scouts of America: Be Prepared.
It should be said that he paid the price, by preparing for achievement!”

Captain Richard R. McNulty, Supervisor of the Cadet Corps, received a letter from R.H.
Farinholt, Chief of the Merchant Marine Personnel Records and Welfare Section on
June 16, 1943, informing him of Bogardus’s death. A handwritten note in McNulty’s
hand at the bottom of the page reads,

“This is 100th gone. Too damned many of these fine lads gone. Wish
there was more we could do to minimize losses.”

5 thoughts on “Bogardus, Jr., Henry James

  1. Thank you for this site. On this 2014 Memorial Day weekend I discovered my Father’s brother ,Henry, who was lost at sea in 1943. My Grandmother never spoke of my Uncle Henry so I knew nothing about his service to this country. He was only 20 yrs old when his Merchant Marine ship was sunk by a German submarine. Thank you again and God Bless all the Veterans.

    • Susan — I am so glad to see your comment here and hope you are doing well. What a surprise to “Google” Uncle Henry and find this! My mother had told us about Uncle Henry and his death in the service of our country as a Merchant Marine, on a ship torpedoed by a German submarine. His death was such a loss that she always felt. She was so moved when she and Dad visited the Merchant Marine Academy and found his name engraved on their memorial. I thank the MMA for not letting us forget any of the men and women who died for our country, and for telling their stories on this website so that people like you and me can pause and say a special prayer, whether that be on Memorial Day or any other day. Peace be with you always.

      • Pattie thank you for your interest and comments about your Uncle and the men who served our nation during WWII> We have raised some money to send the book Braving the Wartime Seas to the relatives of the men in the Merchant Marine from the Academy who died during the war. Please send me a postal mail address for you and for Susan and i will send each of you a book in 3-4 weeks. My e mail is george@ryansinbay.com Again thanks. George

      • Pattie, thank you for your interest and comments about your Uncle and the men who served our nation during WWII. We have raised some money to send the book Braving the Wartime Seas to the relatives of the men in the Merchant Marine from the Maritime Commission programs who died during the war. Please send me a postal mail address for you and another member of your family (if they want a book) and I will send each of you a book in 3-4 weeks. My e mail is george@ryansinbay.com Again thanks. George

    • Susan, thank you for past comments about your Uncle Henry and the men who served our nation during WWII. We have raised some money to send the book Braving the Wartime Seas to the relatives of the men in the Merchant Marine from the Maritime Commission programs who died during the war. Please send me your postal mail address and another for another member of the family if they would like a book, and I will send each of you a book in 3-4 weeks. My e mail is george@ryansinbay.com Again thanks. George

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