Maloney, James LeRoy

James LeRoy Maloney
Born: November 20, 1924
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Class: 1944
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Third Assistant Engineer
Date / Place of death: April 9, 1945 / 37-31N, 64-26W
Date / Place of burial: April 9, 1945 / Lost at Sea —
37-31N, 64-26 W
Age: 21
James L. Maloney signed on as Third Assistant Engineer aboard the brand new T2-SEA1
tanker, SS Saint Mihiel, on March 19, 1945 at Sun Shipbuilding in Philadelphia, PA.
The Saint Mihel was James Maloney’s first ship as a licensed officer. A few days later
the Saint Mihel sailed in ballast to Corpus Christi, TX where it picked up a full load of
aviation gasoline bound for Cherbourg, France. After leaving Corpus Christi the Saint
Mihiel was ordered to New York where convoy CU-65, a fast convoy of tankers and
other high value ships, was forming. On April 8 the Saint Mihiel and the other ships of
the convoy sailed from New York and began forming the convoy.
On the night of April 9, about 700 miles out of New York, the Saint Mihiel and another
tanker, SS Nashbulk, collided. Part of the Saint Mihiel’s cargo of gasoline immediately
burst into flame, destroying the navigating bridge located amidships and killing most of
the deck officers. The surviving crew abandoned ship as soon as possible and were
picked up by the USS Stewart (DE 238) after about two hours in the water. Of the 50
crew members and 29 Naval Armed Guard members, only 23 of the crew and 19 Navy
sailors survived. Among those missing and presumed dead were Third Assistant
Engineer James LeRoy Maloney and Cadet-Midshipmen John W. Artist and Dante L.
Polcari. The two Cadet-Midshipmen were the last Cadet-Midshipmen to die in World
War II.
On the morning of April 10 the Saint Mihiel was still afloat, although some of the cargo
was still burning. The ship’s senior surviving deck officer, Second Mate Bruno Baretich,
assembled some of the St. Mihiel’s survivors to board the Saint Mihiel to see if it could
be salvaged. Aided by crewmen from the Stewart and another escort, Baretich reboarded
the ship, put out the fires and got the ship underway for New York. Although
the ship was ultimately a constructive total loss, over 80% of the gasoline cargo was
saved. For his actions, Baretich, a former vaudeville performer and song arranger for
Irving Berlin, received the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal.
Based on his U.S. Coast Guard records, James Maloney applied for his Certificate as
Lifeboatman on April 29, 1942 but his Merchant Marine Document as Engine Cadet was
not issued until February 3, 1943. Crew lists on file in New York indicate that he signed
on as Engine Cadet aboard the SS Kemp P. Battle on September 23, 1943 at
Baltimore, MD. The ship arrived in New York from Algiers on February 5, 1944.
Based on the above James L. Maloney was awarded the Atlantic and Mediterranean-
Middle East Bars. For his service aboard the SS Saint Mihel he was posthumously
awarded the Victory Medal and Presidential Testimonial Letter.
No information was located regarding his next of kin.

2 thoughts on “Maloney, James LeRoy

  1. I am so happy to find this site and hear about the work you are doing to document the contributions of Merchant Marines in WW2.

    I believe my father, Robert White (aka Jack Rohan) was the radio operator on the SS Nashbulk during this accident, if I am not mistaken.

    Is it possible to verify this with crew lists from the ship?

    • Thank you for your kind words and I am pleased that you found our website. I am sorry we do not have the crew lists. We can not access the German records of submarine sinkings since this tragedy was an accident. However,a large number of crew lists / shipping articles have been digitized and are available on Ancestry.com. If the one for the Nashbulk for this voyage is not on Ancestry, then I would suggest that you contact the National Archives in New York City which is where the Coast Guard would have filed the shipping articles for the Nashbulk http://www.archives.gov/nyc/
      If the crew signed on elsewhere, one would need to pull the Armed Guard reports for the Nashbulk to see where it signed on crew. George Ryan

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