Charles Henry Doell
Born: May 5, 1920
Hometown: West Roxbury, MA
Class: 1940 Massachusetts Nautical School;
1940 USMC Cadet Officer
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Third Mate
Date / Place of death: November 23, 1942 / North
Atlantic, 42-25’N, 48-27’W
Date / Place of burial: November 23, 1942 / North
Atlantic, 42-25’N, 48-27’W / Lost at sea
Charles H. Doell signed on aboard the tanker SS Caddo as Third Mate on July 17,1942 at New York, NY. The Caddo’s crew list indicates that the 5′ 11″, 150 pound Doell
had been going to sea for 4 years at that time. U.S. Coast Guard records show that
Charles H. Doell had received his license as Third Mate on October 14, 1940, shortly
after his graduation from the Massachusetts Nautical School (now Massachusetts
Maritime Academy). He received his license as Second Mate on May 14, 1942. U.S.
Merchant Marine Cadet Corps records identify Charles H. Doell as a Cadet Officer in
On November 11, 1942 the Caddo sailed from Baytown, TX for Reykjavik, Iceland with
a cargo of over 100,000 barrels of diesel oil, fuel oil and 300 drums of gasoline for the
U.S. Navy. The ship steered evasive courses after leaving Baytown and maintained 5
lookouts at all times. However, on the morning of November 23, 1942 the ship was
sighted and attacked by U-518. The crew of the Caddo saw the torpedo track and
turned to port toward the torpedo but the evasive action was too little, too late. At about
0640 GCT the Caddo was hit by a torpedo on the port side at the pump room, just
forward of the after accommodation house. The explosion ripped up the deck above
the pump room, flooded the pump room, demolished the port side lifeboat/raft and
disabled the radio transmitter.
The tough tanker took about ninety minutes to sink, affording the entire crew time to
abandon the ship in the three surviving lifeboats. Ten minutes after the Caddo slipped
beneath the waves U-518 surfaced and took the Master, Paul B. Muller, and Chief
Mate, Bendik Lande, prisoner. Captain Muller later died in a German prison camp.
Bendik Lande survived his imprisonment and was repatriated following the war. The
remaining survivors were divided between three boats.
Only six of the seventeen men in first boat were alive to be rescued by the MS Motomar
on December 8, 1942, 650 miles south of where the Caddo was sunk. The survivors
reported that they were treated with great kindness by the Motomar’s Spanish crew
when they were landed at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania on December 24, 1942. The
forty-one crewmen and Armed Guard Sailors in the second and third lifeboats, including
Third Mate Charles H. Doell, were never seen again.
Based on the above Charles H. Doell would have been posthumously awarded the Mariners Medal,Combat Bar with star, Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal and Presidential Testimonial Letter.
Charles H. Doell was the oldest child and only son of Henry Doell and Mildred L. Smith Doell. Esther, who was four years younger, was Charles’ little sister. In 1940 Henry Doell was employed as an insurance broker at James Simpson & Company.
Photo of SS Caddo
U.S. Coast Guard Identification Photo of Charles H. Doell